Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas, Birthday, and Beyond

Happy New Year's Eve to everyone! I'm waiting for the carpet installers to come back to put in one last metal strip between our bedroom and bathroom and thought I'd share a few pictures with you from the last few days while I waited.

To say we haven't stopped is a huge understatement. We're trying to juggle visiting friends and family, enjoying the kids being home, and getting as much done on the house before January 8th which is when it will go on the market. I'm pretty sure Hamp will be glad to get back to work so he can rest.

I left you with him putting Matthew's foosball table together and Christmas morning found him and another one of Santa's helpers trying to get it finished before the boys got to our house. Yeah, that didn't happen.......

There was enough complete that Matthew got the idea and he was quite excited about the new addition for his empty living room along with a new ping pong table.

In spite of our family living in three different states, Santa found us all here in GA and we had a fun Christmas together. Tiffany was very excited about her gift, even though she knew it was coming. We've all had fun playing and competing against each other in various combinations.

Michael got his much anticipated iPhone and the 5 volume set of "The Summa Theologica" of St. Thomas Aquinas he had asked for. I don't fully appreciate the value of that particular gift, but he was quite excited.

December 26th is Hamp's birthday and we always try to make that a special time since it's right after Christmas. I didn't get many pictures taken, but here's one of the birthday boy who is once again older than I am!

Saturday we headed to Newnan to celebrate Christmas with Hamp's family who graciously waited so Tiffany and Michael could join us. Matthew had basketball coaching duties and couldn't be there, but we had a wonderful visit with the rest of the family. Here are Hamp's parents with them.

This is Hamp with his brothers. They can't deny their related, can they??

Christmas is always more fun with younger children around and we enjoyed being around our niece's family who has them in abundance! Her oldest and Tiffany were enjoying a moment having their picture taken.

Because the carpet was being replaced in the house on Monday, we spent Sunday afternoon and evening getting Christmas stuff taken down, sorted, and packed either to move or to give away.

Notice the excitement on Hamp's face. :) We're all quite over this whole process.

My wonderful husband let me escape the madness on Monday while the carpet was being replaced and the basement rooms were being repainted. I went with Tiffany to Greenville where she combined a business appointment with a visit to Furman University where she went to college. God gave us an absolutely perfect day of weather for travel and enjoying the beautiful campus. It was a much needed soul break.

This is the bell tower located on the back side of the small lake on Furman's campus and the school's main landmark.

One of the many lake inhabitants that adds to the beauty of the area.

We had fun taking pictures with such a beautiful day to enjoy.

This is one of my favorite pictures that Tiffany took. This bench has been where she and I have sat many times beginning Valentine's Day weekend in 1997 while she was at Furman for a scholarship audition and a college visit. We've chatted with God about many things over the course of the years on this bench and yesterday was no exception. While life hasn't turned out the ways we've dreamed about down through the years, God has indeed been faithful and in every detail. It's much easier now to just give Him the future and whatever it might hold because we're learning to trust more each day the One who holds the future.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Eve

Wow - it's been busy since everyone arrived home! Of course it's wonderful being together in one place again, but it's also stressful in some ways because everyone wants to visit since we're all in town. Being the people pleaser that I am (I'm working on that, really!!) I feel stressed when we can't do it all which is resulting in a hopefully temporary inability to sleep.

Christmas Eve found us at the Freeman's where we've gathered for most of our kids' lives. All 9 of the children from our two families and the various spouses, fiancees, and significant others were able to be there, so that was nice. Sadly, we didn't get any group or family pictures, but here are a few from the evening.

When we got back home, Hamp had to help Santa by putting together a foosball table for Matthew. It's been quite some time since assembly was required for a gift and now we remember why!

Nikki was able to stop by for a while for some "sister" time with Tiffany and as always when those two are together, there was lots of fun and laughter.

Around 2:00 a.m. we decided it was time to call it a night and left a festive scene to await us in the morning.

Since this picture was taken, we've celebrated Christmas, Hamp's birthday, and Christmas again with his family. I'm out of time for now, so check back soon!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Welcome home!

As the world has grown smaller with technology and travel options, more and more people have to go longer distances to be with family. That was never a part of the routine for me or Hamp as we grew up, nor as we had our own family. My, how times have changed!! Yesterday found me at the airport picking up the majority of our family so we could be together during Christmas.

Tiffany and Michael (along with Moosey) landed first and after a 30 minute or so delay from his original arrival time, Hamp made it as well.

While it would be easy to be sad over who's not here with us this year, I'm finding that cooperative weather, safe travels, and successful surgery for Matthew makes being thankful for who IS here the better choice. And of course, the reason we even celebrate Christmas at all is because of the love and sacrifice of our Father God in the gift of His Son. May you have a blessed Christmas season this year and I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming days.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ignorance is Bliss?

I'm not sure who comes up with these sayings we pass down from generation to generation, but I'd like to dispel this one tonight. Ignorance for our family was taking on the task of preparing a house to put on the market right before Christmas with no other family members living in it besides me and the cat. defines bliss as the following:

1. supreme happiness; utter joy or contentment.

Just being honest here, I'm not seeing anything that resembles the state of my soul these past days. Kit, on the other hand, finally found a moment of apparent bliss yesterday, but notice she was not ignorant about it. She purposely snuck behind the tree up against the wall where you couldn't see her from the front and was hidden out of sight.

As I've gotten the house almost ready for human habitation again, I now get to change hats and be chauffeur, nurse, and mother to Matthew tomorrow as he has surgery #2 on his "good" leg in Rome. It's pretty routine for us now and if all goes well, he'll be propped up on somebody's couch by mid-afternoon. Tuesday afternoon will find me heading to the airport to pick up the rest of the family who is flying in for Christmas. I am now starting to get excited since there are beds for them to sleep in and functioning toilets in their proper locations. It's the little things....

As I've worked in the house this week, I've hit a couple of grief bumps along the way because so many things remind me that life hasn't turned out like it was supposed to. After re-reading some in the book "Experiencing Grief", I was reminded again that grief is a journey all of us will travel, but most of us remain ignorant as to what it looks like and how to help those experiencing it. I think all of us know someone in our lives living through grief in some way this season. Take a minute and let them know that you're aware of their pain, that you care, and that the loss matters to you because it matters to them.

For my friends who number too many that have lost children, I'm praying God will hold you tight as you keep putting one foot in front of the other. While things are not as they should be here on earth, may the reality that someday all things will be made right comfort you through this season of hope through Christ.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is It Beginning to Look a Bit Like Christmas?

Christmas is in one week. If I were a small child, that statement would probably cause squeals of delight and wonder-filled eyes. But, alas, I am not a small child (although Kit might argue that point after her observation of my behavior last night, but that's another story). So the fact that Christmas is in one week brings a shock of awareness and a panic that grows and ebbs depending on the state of the house.

At first glance, this peaceful scene would indicate that things actually do look a little festive in the living room. But turn around to view the kitchen and you will find a completely different appearance there and in the dining areas.

Maybe things are better upstairs, you wonder? Let's check out our bathroom and my infamous (or possibly now famous) sink. Notice the area to the back left of the picture where the toilet is...not. But can you see how great the new floor looks?

While the intended usefulness of the missing toilet is not available in its present location, if we could work out a few plumbing adjustments, a nightly visit would take far less time!

I think getting the house ready to sell is a small snapshot of what God has been doing in our lives. He's taken the basic structure and left it intact, but completely torn off the old and put on the new. Lest you fret and think all is in disorder, we are slowly getting things finished and there are moments of quiet rest beginning to take place again. (Unless you work for the Atlanta Braves, and if so, then I think Santa might be your best hope).

While it's probably irreverent in some deep theological way, I leave you with my favorite picture of the day. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him". That's Christmas, that's our hope, that's our life. Even if Jesus really wasn't a pea.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


My brother and his family went on a cruise during Thanksgiving and I got to see their pictures last weekend. There were two that not only made me laugh, but they also gave me a moment of pondering. Both pictures are of the same thing, only one was taken from a front view and one from the back. I think God knew I needed a humorous and visual reminder that life is often about perspective. While I might be able to come up with a deep and profound thought to share with you, I'll leave it to you to discover your own. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Brother!

Hamp got to come home for a weekend visit so we could celebrate Christmas with my side of the family this afternoon. It also happens to be my "little" brother's birthday so I wanted to take a minute to celebrate him publicly for two reasons. One, he has a birthday close to Christmas like Hamp does and it's easy in the busyness of the season to not take the time to honor them well. The second reason is that I forgot to get him a birthday card as we hurried about getting ready for the day, so this will have to do. He would want you to know that he is the only remaining sibling under the age of 50...but only for two more years!

Here we are along with my sister and mom as we took the obligatory family pictures for the year.

Sadly, Tiffany and Michael couldn't get here this early to join us, but Tiffany sent a gift for the exchange. Her cousin Tori sought advice from Tiffany via cell phone as she chose a gift for her carefully.

Nice job, Tori! You didn't choose the singing frog or the sexy santa girl that danced. It was a nice ornament with a nativity scene in it that lights when the switch on the bottom is turned on.

As you know, it's been insanely busy for our family getting the house ready to put on the market and the mess involved in doing so. Taking the time today to be with family and be reminded that we actually like each other and enjoy being together was the heart and soul rest we needed. And it's a reminder that God Himself gives us in Psalms 46:10 - "Cease striving (be still) and know that I am God;"

I leave you with pictures from our time together and would like to thank John and Kim and their family for working so hard to make it such a wonderful celebration.

The cousin picture minus Tiffany and Michael.

My sister, Janet, with all her boys.

My brother, John, with his whole family including Buddy the dog who had as much fun as we did.

Hamp and I with Matthew, the lone representative of our children for the day.

My mom with six of her eight grandchidren.

Not only did we have fun with the gift exchange, but we ate very well! Kim topped the evening off by taking individual orders for stone cold mixed ice cream which was yummy! And the best part of that was I got the same cold stone as my gift; well, after a little help from my brother.

As is apparent in my last blog comment section, baby bro doesn't think I have serious song writing potential. Maybe not marketable, but surely presentable. I'll let you decide as I close with his own personal version of "Happy Birthday" to wrap up his special day.

"Happy Birthday to You"

"And Merry Christmas too"

"You take interesting pictures"

"We are thankful for you"!