Tuesday, December 18, 2012



That's how I feel. The last 96 hours have been such a mix of emotions for so many people and I just feel the type of heavy that makes it almost impossible to breath.

I cannot imagine how those that lost loved ones on Friday must feel. The best that I can hope for them is to still be in the stages of numbing loss. My brain can't fathom what they feel now and in the days to come. Or forever for that matter. I'm guessing that heavy doesn't even begin to touch on what they feel on a good day.

On Saturday morning some of the crush that my chest felt the day before was lifted. Spending a few hours watching foster and adopted children experience a Christmas party thrown in their honor was a welcomed break from the media. There were smiles, giggles, cute Christmas dresses with plaid skirts, and cupcakes to decorate til their heart's content. There were real reindeer, and wish lists, and there was even dancing. A cheesy song that usually causes me to turn the station, made me stop and smile and soak in the moment of adults dressed as reindeer and snowmen dancing with a few kids as the lyrics "we need a little Christmas, right this very minute" rang through the room. We did need a little Christmas. We needed a break from the sadness, as selfish as that sounds. But it's true. We needed to see and touch real reindeer, we needed to see the magic of Santa climbing into his sleigh, and we needed to see children dance with abandon. Right that very minute.

Christmas is magical in its core. Christmas is a miracle in its simplest form. Regardless of what we've made it, Jesus came on "Christmas" to give us life, light, and hope.

The one Christmas carol line that ALWAYS speaks to me, regardless of who is singing, is from my favorite carol O Holy Night. Those words "A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn" get me every single time.


It's such a powerful word. When I hear that line I'm both sad and hopeful at the same time. The sad part of me awakens because I get it. I feel it. There's just so much "weight" around  us on a daily basis that is taxing on a soul. But then it also makes me hopeful that someone wrote this song in the 1800's and they were apparently weary too, which makes my weariness feel known, recognized and almost validated. There's something about a shared sense of worn combined with hope that can comfort across the decades and even centuries. Times have changed, but hearts have not and I connect with that. Every single time I hear those words.

We're weary at best right now. I don't know about anyone else, but rejoice isn't what I'm inclined to do today. Worry and fear, those seem a bit more close to the vest as I type.

So what do we do? How do we combat the worn and weary with hope and light and life?

My guess is that we cling to the true Christmas. To the meaning behind the trees and presents and the lights and carols. My guess is that we hold on tight to the promise of a new morn. A morn that's a bit less heavy than the one before it. My guess is that when it feels like we can't take a deep breath, we do it anyway and we do it for those that cannot anymore.

And my guess is that we pray. We pray for the original light and hope and peace that the Lord came to bring.

We do need a little Christmas, right this very minute, but we need Jesus more. Only He can take us from weary and heavy to light and life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ain't Nobody Got Time For That, Pinterest!

My family loves us some Sweet Brown. If you haven't meet her gloriousness yet, take about 45 seconds and check her out here http://youtu.be/udS-OcNtSWo.
As I scroll through image upon image thanks to Facebook and Pinterest, I struggle between what one human can realistically complete in the 2 weeks leading up to Christmas, and what quite frankly I just ain't got time for.

If it were up to Pinterest, I would spend my evenings listening to holiday carols of yesteryear while...
  • Wrapping the base of my entire wine glass collection in tinsel for our party guests. Cute, but um, no.
  • Have 7 different trees in my home, all with different themes, and every one of them looking like Martha S. herself stopped by and just "whipped up a lil somethin' somethin'".
  • Wrapping individual chocolate chips in foil for little elf on the shelf sized hershey kisses. Seriously, who DOES have time for that?! I'd like to meet that person outside of their Pinterest haze.
    • And while I'm on the topic, I don't really understand the whole elf on the shelf bandwagon anyway. Granted, I may eat my words once I have kids, but A) I'm pretty sure he'll have faded from coolness by the time my future kiddos are old enough to understand  B) I'm hoping by then parents will realize that he/she is more effort than they're worth. I hate cleaning up messes already, so why would I EVER want to make a mess, blame it on an elf of which I have to constantly remember to move, and then have to clean up said mess myself?! That's just crazy town, y'all! My kids will be more worried about me narking them out to Santa than some plastic elf, trust me on that one! and finally C) I hope to have plenty of magic in our home with Jesus' miraculous birth and the magic of Santa himself. Done and done.
And just to give you a few beautiful, yet annoying visuals, Pinterest would also have me...

Make miles of garland out of the 8,423 ball ornaments that I happen to have laying around. Riiggghhtt.

Package adorable vintage-esque homemade macaroons and adorn them with hand covered buttons and twine. Have you ever tired to make macaroons? They're no joke. If I tackle this some day, count on Chips A'hoy inside those cute little boxes.

Construct a 4-D Veggie Christmas tree. That thing is so intricate that I'd be furious if anyone so much as touched one of the carrots let alone ate them. #backawayfromtheveggies

Paint teeny tiny Christmas trees on each of my nails. Sadly I don't even have the patience or skill level to simply paint them red without smudges.

Hide surprise strawberries in my perfectly erected Christmas tree cupcakes. Surprise, you'll enjoy my store bought cupcakes instead!

Make the world's cutest hot cocoa stirs. Again, adorable, I get it. But on a side note, who wants jelly beans in your cocoa anyway? Not this chica.

Construct homemade candy cane vases for my holiday centerpieces. Um, I wasn't even aware that I was supposed to offer holiday centerpieces.  In my family, you just put delicious food on the table and every one's happy. I don't ever recall anyone saying "Grandma, this ham is amazing, but where's your roses?"

Pinterest, I love you. I really do.
You challenge me daily to be a more creative homeowner, you bring laughter to my lips every time I see a puppy wearing glasses or a squirrel wearing pajamas, and you put delicious new recipes on my table that look like a million bucks but incredibly only had 4 ingredients...
But this year, when it comes to your overzealous outlook on Christmas, Ain't nobody got time for that!

At least not in my home.

Monday, December 10, 2012

House Warming Prep

This weekend, after what feels like foreva, foreva-eva, we're finally having a little house warming par-tay at the Freiberg Plantation. I'm both excited and anxious all at the same time. The actual party will be both the easy and the fun part. The prep on all of the last minute home projects, um, not so much fun.

I'm seriously considering moving the event back a few hours so that people see the exterior of our home sans the brutal honesty of sunlight. With everything that needed to be done, coupled with minor disasters that forced themselves upon us this summer/fall, we've had to focus on one of two areas, inside versus outside. And seeing as how we don't live on the outside of our little nest, ALL of our attention went to the interior. Duh.

What does that mean for the exterior, you ask? Lots of random projects and flaws that I'm just praying no one notices. Our girl needs a major face lift and you can't pant this time of year, so there she'll sit. Untouched, with all of her flaws out there for the world to see.

Would it be weird to ask all of my friends to look directly at the ground as they approach our casa, at least until they are directly, like I'm talking nose practically touching the front door close? Probably a little weird and a little awkward. For the guests. Not me. I'd love it.

On the horizon this week for the hostess (and host) with the most (at least the most home improvements):
  • Painting our main hallway and ceiling
  • Switching out a light fixture here and there
  • Painting a boatload of trim
  • Deep cleaning of anything, both nailed and not nailed down
  • Hanging some final things around the house
  • Spray painting a few curtain rods for a quick, inexpensive update
  • Steaming some new curtains
  • Trying to cover the world's ugliest AC unit that some genius previous owner built straight into the living room wall in the 70's. No joke, this thing is brown and tan and has duct tape accents. What in the world?! Who approved this hot mess?? I need names people! *Side note, the outside of this eye sore is smack dab in the middle of the front exterior of our home too. And it gets better....the exterior is wrapped in garbage bags and wrapped with duct tape. I kid you not. It makes me want to cry. If it were up to me, I'd just spray paint that bad boy , but I'm afraid it must leak if they have it so tightly wrapped in plastic. Eventually that thing is a goner, but for now, in an effort to slightly improve the situation, I have plans to build a cover for it. We'll see how it goes. Wish me luck!
So, there you have it. My list of projects to tackle this week. Let the fun begin!

And if I ever get one of those "if you could have dinner with any 3-4 impactful people, both alive and now deceased" perfect dinner party scenarios, I can confidently say that it will include the following people of impact on my life:
1. Jesus, of course
2. Oprah, still love that woman
3. My Grandpa Howard
4. The previous owners of our home so that I can ask many a burning question, with the number one being "What on earth is up with the hideous AC vent held together by duct tape in the middle of my living room wall? The wall?? Really???!! I believe that's what window units were for, kind sir. Now please enjoy your dinner with us this evening. You will find your plate duct tapped to the bathroom wall for  convenience. I know, I know, it seems a bit odd, but it worked for us at the time, you see. I hope you enjoy tonight's meal!"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Giving Challenge Update

Apparently my church in SC recently kicked off a 100K gift challenge, so it appears that this season in so many people's lives is about giving and not just about shopping. Let's keep this ball rolling and keep the love abounding!

As part of my challenge, the following small tasks and gifts have popped up on my radar:
  • I've been able to contribute, albeit small amounts, to our church's compassion offering this holiday season, to a local foundation in memory of a co-worker's sister who recently passed, and to another organization that works with the young woman in our community.
  • The hubby and I have signed up to work at a Christmas event at our church that celebrates the many families in our congregation who are foster or safe families. The hubs will help serve the meal and I'll get to make crafts with the kiddos. There is a small rumor that I may have to dress like an elf. #takinguglysweaterpartiestothenextlevel
  • I've bought lunch for another person.
  • I've filled out applications to volunteer with Rock House Kids and Safe Families in our community. I might as well take advantage of this time that I have before we have kiddos of our own!
  • I'm now on a committee to bring awareness to our local Habitat for Humanity at a race this April. We'll create a kids corner at the race expo, work with previous habitat home recipients, and are planning a pasta dinner the night before. Carb loadin' y'all!

On the horizon are some fun opportunities that I'm still working on, but I'm pretty sure they'll involve:
  • Our house warming party will have some giving elements to it...party with a purpose!
  • Our mail man (he's awesome, by the way)
  • Our garbage men
  • The church across the street from my home
  • The cleaning woman at our office
The possibilities are endless and the needs are great. Let's get er done!

Monday, December 3, 2012

You Can't Go Home Again

When Thomas Wolfe said "You can't go home again", he wasn't telling the whole story. You can go back, Mr. Wolfe. You most certainly can. Will there be challenges? Indeed. Will it be bittersweet at times? Most definitely. There may even be tears at times, but you can, certainly, go back home.

And guess what, Mr. Wolfe? It still feels like home. Cozy in some moments like you never even left, and exciting in other moments like this is your first time visiting. It's a sweet crash of old versus new, change versus tried and true.

I'm learning that being near family is a wonderful gift. It's something that I've missed over the last 16 years, and it's something I'm cherishing these days. Tonight, for example, I'm having my mom and grandma over for cookies, ice cream and cocoa, and Friday evening we had a fun triple date with Tim's family that kicked off in our home, both of which are things I've never been able to do as an adult up until now. I'm able to plant and create a home where I can share new memories and old traditions with relatives whom I saw only a few times a year before. It's precious and priceless, and what keeps me going when I ache for my other home near the beach.

I'm also learning that although your home may have changed upon on your return, so have you. You're different. You've grown. You've once left your nest to sink or swim, and you swam. You swam for your life at times, but the fact is that you swam on your own. You've adapted to life and the ups and downs that accompany the years under your belt. You may be a bit more worn in some areas, but you also bring back new perspectives and new stories to share. Many of your stories involve people who may never get to experience your new home, but that doesn't change anything. Their still your stories and your people.

And so it goes for the place you once, and now again, call home. It too has changed.

Time doesn't stop when you leave, nor does it start again when you arrive. It's experienced change and growth as well. Driving by places you loved and frequented as a child might seem a bit more worn, dim or smaller than your once wee little brain recollected. While other areas might be flourishing and holding the promise of new adventures and new stories for you to experience.

And just like that, you find yourself engulfed with the acquainted warmth of home. Almost like you never left.

My guess is that you never really did. Or at least part of you stayed where it was familiar, as small or as large as you wanted/needed home to be, and as cozy a family gathered around a Christmas tree just as they had for decades before.

So, yes, Mr. Wolfe, you can go home again. Both changed and unchanged, it still feels wonderful.