Thursday, December 31, 2009

Aunt Renea is Home!!!

If you haven't heard me talk about her before, my "Aunt" Renea is Mom's best friend since elementary school. They've been close friends ever since, and naturally, we have always called her Aunt, especially since we never had the privelege of knowing our uncle and she has never had children of her own. She's only lived in FP for a short time throughout the years, moving to New Jersey, Colorado, and most recently Pennsylvania. Just a few months ago, she finally made the move back to FP! We're very excited to finally have her here--and permanently!! :)

Last night, she went to dinner with all of us (minus Jonathan's girlfriend, Amanda.) **Sidenote: Speaking of Jon & Amanda, I think I failed to mention in my Christmas posts on here that Jonathan gave her a promise ring for Christmas!! To quote Ron Burgundy ("Anchorman"), that's "kind of a big deal!" :) I'm so happy for them!! Anyways, we went to dinner at the famous Don Chico's. It really is famous--Aunt Renea has heard all about it from so many people since she moved back. After dinner, we went to our house to exchange gifts. We had such a great time getting to visit with her. It's good to have family closer!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Video Clip from FBC Christmas Program!

I wanted to post a link to a video clip from our mixed ensemble's performance at FBC of "Variations on Jingle Bells." Dr. Fiquett's wife recorded it and posted it for all of us, bless her heart. I wasn't able to copy the video onto my computer, so I'm trying this link first. Let me know if you can or can't pull it up, and I will try to find another route! Enjoy!!

*Update: You can't view the video unless you are logged on to Facebook. I have emailed the link to some of you, so you may have tried to open it up and discovered this. I've had a couple of emails letting me know, but hopefully you can watch it with someone who has an FB account. Maybe next time, Zach will video it with his new camera so I can post a link directly to the blog. :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Doggies on Christmas Day

We went out in our backyard and played with our dogs on Christmas Day in between stops. I remembered we had taken some photos with them last year, so we took some again this year. We love our babies!

Me with Daisy

Zach with Cosmo

Zach with Daisy & Cosmo

Me with Daisy & Cosmo

Merry CHRISTmas!

"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family wrapped up in each other." - Burton Hillis

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, as we did!! We went to my Mamaw Ruth's on Christmas Eve as always, and had a great dinner followed by even better presents. After that, we went to Mom & Dad's and exchanged gifts with them and Jonathan & Amanda. As is every other year before, we always get what we want and are never left wanting more. We are so blessed with not only everything we need, but SO many things we don't have to have. I thank God for my many blessings in life!

On Christmas morning, we went to Mamaw & Papaw's to enjoy breakfast and exchange gifts with them.  We hit a little snag in our plans when we were headed down our road that morning. There was a huge tree down, so we had to wait about 30 minutes on a backhoe to arrive and remove the tree. The night before, there had actually been another tree beginning to fall over the road that blocked traffic too.

For lunch, Zach's dad took us, Grandma, Aunt Gail & Natalie to Mentone Springs Hotel for a buffet lunch. The hotel was beautiful and the food was GREAT!! We really enjoyed getting to spend time with them, since we don't usually get to see them on Christmas Day.

After lunch, we headed home to rest for a bit, then went to Zach's sister's in Chattanooga. We had dinner there & exchanged presents. Zach got a lot of great pics with his camera of the whole family. The day was busy, but wonderful. We really had a great "second married" Christmas with each other!

Happy Festivus!

Let me start by saying that the 23rd was an awesome day for me, thanks to my sweet husband! I got home from work that afternoon and was already in a rush because we had Zach's family coming over for dinner. I just had a lot of little things to get done before everyone arrived. He met me at the laundry room door when I came in from the garage and told me that my Christmas present had come in that day. I said something like, "That's great! Now, I have to get busy." He went on to tell me that he HAD to give it to me then. I was a little frustrated already, just because I had a lot to do and he was wanting to give me my gift at a "bad time," it seemed like to me. He told me to close my eyes, then he led me into our living room. When I opened my eyes, I saw my piano sitting in the living room!! During the day, he had moved my piano from parents' house to ours (with the help of my sweet dad and brother!), cleaned it, and was having it tuned for me! I was so happy and appreciated his thoughtfulness so much that I cried! Needless to say, he outdid himself with my Christmas gift this year!!!

Later that night, we had Zach's family over for our "Festivus" dinner. We started this little tradition last year, and everyone enjoyed it so much that we decided to have it again. We veer away from the traditional and grill bacon-wrapped shrimp and fish for dinner. We don't perform any of the actual "Festivus" events from the Seinfeld episode, but it falls on the same day and it's definitely a good excuse to cook and have family over.

Zach took a lot of photos with his camera. He has been experimenting a lot lately with his camera. He's getting a new camera for himself for Christmas and probably will be selling his old one. As great as the photos turn out on his current camera, I've considered buying it myself! :) If it weren't for being content with the good quality of my pictures and the convenience of my Sony point-and-shoot, I probably would! I can't really carry his bigger camera in a handbag though, so that wouldn't work well for me.

The first one shows Ella enjoying my Christmas present. :) I realized when I was browsing through his photos that he hadn't even taken any of us. He also didn't take any earlier that night when he gave me my present, just because he was too focused on working everything out. Oh well, it was worth it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Getting Ready for Christmas!

I wrapped ALL of our Christmas gifts this past week and put them under the tree. I just took one night after work and did it all. It's always sad to me how at first there are tons of presents under the tree, then one by one, they all disappear in the span of a week or so. On the other hand, that also means that we've given them to everyone, which is also a happy experience.

I took a photo of Daisy with her "fur" coat on before she went out one morning. I thought it was cute, so I had to add it on here.

 I also took a quick picture of her lying on all the bags in the floor while I was wrapping presents. If there's a plastic bag on the floor, she's usually on it for some odd reason.

This one shows our laundry room door and all of our Christmas cards. We've gotten so many cards this year- mostly from family and church family. We hadn't realized how many people in our church we have grown so close to just in this past year. We've really enjoyed all the cute pics and sweet notes in them. Plus, I always get excited about receiving cards in the mail- or anything else in the mail, for that matter.

I can't wait for Christmas!! Like a lot of people, it's my most favorite time of the year. We had our first family get-together this past Saturday and had a great time with a house full of about 40 people. My next party was a small luncheon at work, and then tonight is our "Second Annual Festivus Dinner" at our house! :) Lots to do, but so much fun!!

Light Snow- 12/05/09

We had a light snow on the morning of 12/05/09. It was on a Saturday, and Zach woke me up early so I could see the snow. :) I got out of the bed and opened the blinds in our bedroom to see a light blanket of snow in our yard. It only stayed on the ground for a couple of hours early that morning, so I'm glad that he woke me up to see. I posted a couple of photos Zach took- the first one of Cosmo and the second one of a little birdhouse in our backyard. Daisy isn't in the photos, because she would NOT go out in the yard. He said she acted a little afraid of the snow. When you think about it, it would be a little strange to see a blanket of white all over the usually green yard, if you're not aware of what it is. She came out onto the deck for just a minute, so he was able to get a cute pic of their little paw prints together, shown in the third photo.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Spiritual Christmas Experience

Yesterday was such a great day!! Our service yesterday morning was wonderful as always, followed by our choir luncheon at The Summit. We then had rehearsals that afternoon and our chorale program that night, followed by another trip to The Summit for our Sunday School class Christmas party. I don't think I've ever laughed so much in my life than I did at that party! Three words: "White Elephant" gifts. These being anything of little value in your house that you don't like or would like to get rid of. Let me just say we were able to get rid of a real prize and scored a curved neck massager pillow in return. We ended the night with some of us, Zach included, playing pool downstairs, and the rest of us enjoying karaoke. It was such a fun night!

At our luncheon our SS teacher, Bob Johnston, mentioned something that really stuck in my mind throughout the day. Before our prayer, he said that he really hopes we will all take time to get away during this busy week, if even for just a few minutes, and have a true spiritual experience with God. He encouraged us to seek out the real meaning of Christmas, especially in spending time with family and friends. Christmas would mean a lot more if we would all do this. Even though it may seem like we have no time left for anything else, we should make time for this. I hope this stays with me during this Christmas week.

I had a great time spending most of the day with our choir. Our performance went off without a hitch and so many people have commented on how they enjoyed it so much. For me, I have never been happier than when I looked out in the congregation and saw an entire pew filled with my wonderful family!! My mom, dad and Mamaw Ruth came, as they did last year, and were joined by my brother and his sweet girlfriend Amanda, my Mamaw Helen and Papaw Hoyt, and my sweet, supportive husband and father-in-law. Zach's Grandma was also planning to be there, but didn't feel well that afternoon. I was so glad that we could all enjoy the night together!

Our quartet sang "O Holy Night," my favorite Christmas song, and I know it was all God helping me through it! Our mixed ensemble had everyone smiling with our rendition of "Variations of Jingle Bells." As soloist, Susan Downey outshined us all, as always! I really hope to obtain a copy of either the entire program or atleast one or two of the ensembles I was a part of. If so, I will try to post a clip here. Thank you so much to all the people who have helped with our awesome choir and for the sweet compliments and all the continued encouragement! I feel so blessed to be able to give this gift back to God!

Friday, December 18, 2009

"I Heard The Bells"

Just want to make a quick post and invite everyone to First Baptist Church's Christmas Chorale Concert entitled, "I Heard the Bells." We have so much great Christmas music this year, including the handbell choir and three special ensemble songs (two of them including yours truly.) :) I am so excited to be a part of our wonderful church choir and ensemble groups. I'm also really excited to have my family coming again this year! The more, the merrier! The music begins at 6:00 PM and we would love to pack the house again!

Our theme this year is based on the poem-turned-song by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I had heard this song many times before, but never really focused on the words until rehearsals this year. The words are beautiful:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Prayer Request

Most of you may have heard about the homicide that took place in Fort Payne yesterday. A man and his estranged wife had a domestic dispute that ended in her death. Coincidently, their divorce was finalized yesterday. This couple were customers of ours until just a few months ago. They have two little kids- a boy and a girl. Please pray for these children and for the woman's parents who are also customers of ours. It is so sad to know these people, but uplifting to see how strong they are in their Christian faith. Please remember their family at this time, especially it being so close to Christmas. Sadly, Christmas won't be the same for those two children this year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mary's Prayer

Amy Fischer taught our Sunday School class this past Sunday and included in her lesson the following poem that really caught my attention. I had heard of the author, Max Lucado, before, but had never heard this prayer read. It is beautifully worded and really shows us what Mary possibly felt and thought. It also reminds me of "Mary Did You Know," one of my absolute favorite Christmas songs!

Mary's Prayer

GOD. O infant, God. Heaven's fairest child. Conceived by the union of divine grace with our disgrace. Sleep well.

Sleep well. Bask in the coolness of this night bright with diamonds. Sleep well, for the heat of anger simmers nearby. Enjoy the silence of the crib, for the noise of confusion rumbles in your future. Savor the sweet safety of my arms, for a day is soon coming when I cannot protect you.

Rest well, tiny hands. For though you belong to a king, you will touch no satin, own no gold. You will grasp no pen, guide no brush. No, your tiny hands are reserved for works more precious:

to touch a leper's open wound,
to wipe a widow's weary tear,
to claw the ground of Gethsemane.

Your hands, so tiny, so white--clutched tonight in an infant's fist. They aren't destined to hold a scepter nor wave from a palace balcony. They are reserved instead for a Roman spike that will staple them to a Roman cross.

Sleep deeply, tiny eyes. Sleep while you can. For soon the blurriness will clear and you will see the mess we have made of your world.

You will see our nakedness, for we cannot hide.

You will see our selfishness, for we cannot give.

You will see our pain, for we cannot heal.

O eyes that will see hell's darkest pit and witness her ugly prince... sleep, please sleep; sleep while you can.

Lie still, tiny mouth. Lie still, mouth from which eternity will speak.

Tiny tongue that will soon summon the dead; that will define grace; that will silence our foolishness.

Rosebud lips--upon which ride a starborn kiss of forgiveness to those who believe you, and of death to those who deny you--lie still.

And tiny feet cupped in the palm of my hand, rest. For many difficult steps lie ahead for you.

Do you taste the dust of the trails you will travel?

Do you feel the cold seawater upon which you will walk?

Do you wrench at the invasion of the nail you will bear?

Do you fear the steep descent down the spiral staircase into Satan's domain?

Rest, tiny feet. Rest today so that tomorrow you might walk with power. Rest. For millions will follow in your steps.

And little heart ... holy heart ... pumping the blood of life through the universe: How many times will we break you?

You'll be torn by the thorns of our accusations.

You'll be ravaged by the cancer of our sin.

You'll be crushed under the weight of your own sorrow.

And you'll be pierced by the spear of our rejection.

Yet in that piercing, in that ultimate ripping of muscle and membrane, in that final rush of blood and water, you will find rest. Your hands will be freed, your eyes will see justice, your lips will smile, and your feet will carry you home.

And there you'll rest again this time in the embrace of your Father.

The real message of Christmas is the Easter message. It is John 3:16. He came as a baby so that He could one day die for your sins on a cross, and He rose again to prove that death was defeated.

~ Max Lucado, "God Came Near"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Angels

I wanted to post a link to an article from our local paper about our church and our Christmas Angels program that we do every year. I, as well as anyone else, love this program and how it gives us the opportunity to help others in need during the Christmas season. I recommend participating in this, if at all possible, to experience the real meaning of Christmas. This year seems different than others before, the cause more than likely being the hardships our local economy has faced and is still facing. So many people this year are without the jobs that they had the year before. So many others are in need this year than years before. Thanksgiving and Christmas are opportune times to realize how much we all have and to give back to others. Who knows, someday it may be us who are in need. As quoted by Mrs. Doris in the article, “It’s neat how God uses our hearts to take care of these folks,” Elliott said. “Even though we have more angels and more food needed, it’s going to be OK. It really is true how the Lord takes care of us. People do come through.”
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