The Last Christmas (Thanksgiving Thursday)

365 Project: Day 8 I’m starting a new thing today called Thanksgiving Thursday. There are so many times during a week to reflect on being thankful for the things in our lives. I don’t think I’ll EVER run out of things to share on Thursdays. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I look forward to sharing along these lines each week. I can’t let the Christmas season come and go and not talk about my dad. (My dad died tragically in the summer of 2006 at age 50 by suicide.) He was one of the most thoughtful gift-givers I know. He didn’t have much money, and still, my dad gave some of THE most special and memorable gifts—because they all came from his heart. My dad was a lot of things. To name just a few, he was a gifted writer and poet, an amazing drummer, and a skilled guitarist. So much of my love and appreciation of music of all eras and genres came from the 32 years I spent on this earth with my dad. My sisters, brother, and I grew up with watching and listening to Dad regularly blast music in the basement and bang on his drums down there. Oftentimes to work off some stress, but not always. He was just so good at drumming, and he loved it. He even got the privilege of taking over on the drums for the band that played at mine and Jon’s wedding reception in 1995. What a memory for all of us who were there that day. I can still see him twirling those drumsticks. He never missed a beat. In a more quiet and peaceful moment, he’d pull out the acoustic guitar, play something, and sing something for us. I remember the Christmas I was pregnant with one of the girls, he got out his guitar and played and sang for the family. That was a gift in its own right. For many Christmases, Dad would hand-pick songs that he either knew us kids already liked, or songs that he thought we would like, if we’ve never heard them. And then he’d make us each our own personalized compilations, putting them on tapes… and then when CDs came out, he’d of course change with the times. This photo is the last Christmas gift I ever received from my dad. It was Christmas of 2005, and he was only with us for 8 more months after he gave it to me. It has 20 songs on it that he knew I grew up loving, like: Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul, and Mary (I sang this song with him in 1979 when I was 5, and I still have the recording of it. :)); The Letter by The Box Tops; Blinded by the Light by Manfred Mann; Last Dance by Donna Summer; Peace Train by Cat Stevens; Time by Alan Parsons Project; Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent… and many more. I am so thankful today that he shared his love of music with us kids, and instilled in me a love and appreciation for it from the time I was born. Music is a gift that keeps on giving… and one that is never far from me. It has the power to reach in and grab us by the heart and move us in ways that nothing else can. Thank you, Dad, for your many thoughtful gifts. I love you and miss you very much. Phil. 1:3 ~ I thank God for you whenever I think of...

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Family Night

365 Project: Day 7 Tonight was a rare evening that we could line up everyone’s schedules, so this picture is, to me, the best way to top off a whole week of taking pictures. Allison came over… I made tater tot hotdish for dinner (a very Minnesotan family favorite in our house)… then we decorated the tree and the house for Christmas… and then we sat around, chatted, and watched some show on the History channel. Oh, how could I forget. Allison and Hannah wrestled in the living room… and Allison played her dubstep music really loud, and Jon told her to turn it off. Yep, good times. It wasn’t anything fancy, and that’s just how I like it. I sure do adore my...

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Game on!

365 Project: Day 6 My fullest days during the week tend to be Tuesday and Wednesday, so while I’m committed to taking a photo every day, I might not always have time every day to write a whole lot. I hope you all stick with me anyway. I’m enjoying this new adventure so much. The feedback and encouragement (private and public) I’ve received has been so unexpected and so fun. I look forward to wherever the Lord may take me in this. This morning, I woke up to a personal message from the American Red Cross, after they read my “Donation Day!” post last week. I thought it was pretty cool, not only that they read my blog post, but that they also sent me a message after reading it. They thanked my husband and me, and very sweetly called it an “incredible story of giving.” Part of my story was that my iron levels were low, so I was unable to donate (again!), and in their reply to me, they included a link to iron-rich foods to help me the next time. I thought that was so nice. I read over the list this morning, and decided I’d stock up on some sweet potatoes, beans, and a few other iron-helpers at Costco on my way home from work today. Yum, right? It’s one of those things, I guess. I just ran the Twin Cities Marathon for the second time this past fall, and I guess I’m somewhat of a competitive person, and have always been a fighter. This little iron situation feels kind of like that for me. If I can give blood, I WIN! I don’t like people telling me that I can’t do something… especially when it’s something good. With the Lord’s help, I’m looking forward to jacking my iron right up to where it needs to be by my next attempt… nine days from now. You know what I call that? GAME ON! Luke 6:38 ~ Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get...

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The writing’s on the wall

365 Project: Day 5 My husband Jon and I have always thought our oldest daughter, Allison, would be the kind of girl who leaves home as quickly as she can possibly afford it. Not that she wants to get away from us, but she’s always been an independent, free spirit-type personality, and we saw that in her from a young age. Lots of wing-spreading and experiencing life to do, you know. She’s 18, in college, and living with Jon’s dad right now, who lives about a half hour from us. Any mother who has had a child leave home, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, knows how hard that letting go process can be. Painful at times. Today, I was doing laundry, and found one of Allison’s shirts jammed under the side of the washing machine, so I washed and dried it, then went in her vacant bedroom to put it on her shelf for when she comes home for Christmas. I put the shirt away, then looked over at her bed, pushed up tight against the wall. At some point within the last year or two, she got out her Sharpies and wrote these three Bible verses on her wall, next to her bed—right where her head would be on the pillow. Yep, she’s officially a grown-up and still writes on her walls. I remember the day I first saw it. I was like, What do you think you’re doing? …but I couldn’t bring myself to say much more than that. That was the extent of the “talking-to”, and I let it go. I felt like I couldn’t really tell her how “nice” it looked or anything, so what a dilemma to be in, right? I let her know I wasn’t exactly thrilled that she wrote on her wall, but on the inside, it really made me happy. One of those quiet joys as a momma. When I looked at her wall again today, as her Dr. Suess stuffed animals sat staring at me, I wondered if I will ever want to paint over those words. The thought of knowing that the Word of God was that important to her in her late teens and into adulthood—that she made sure it was the last thing she saw before going to sleep at night is simply beautiful to me. It’s not written in a fancy font or done with a stencil, but written in her everyday handwriting, which makes it even more beautiful to me. Proverbs 22:6 ~ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from...

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