2 Peter 1:5-7

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

December 7th

Today is actually December 15th…which means Mom is wayyyy behind!  Luckily, Miss Snow has kept up each day and continued to brighten our 25-day-long holiday celebration.

IMG_3044When I first read this scripture, I envisioned a well rounded kid, making excellent choices that reflect a good nature, a faithful person, and a hard working, ethical human.  Now that I am re-reading it a week later, I see that no where in the scripture does it say:

Add to your character a panic-sticken  version of yourself who runs around 90 miles an hour like a chicken with her head cut off who doesn’t sleep well, who can’t think straight, and who has ulcers.

And this is the point when I wonder: has my attempt to do all and be all taken a wrong turn somewhere?  Like, a horribly, terribly ugly wrong turn?? Perhaps I should NOT feel like a runaway roller coaster just about to derail around the next loop-do-loo or sharp curve???  Is too much of a good thing (serving the schools via PTA, the students via tutoring, the community via Junior League, the congregation via church, the neighborhood via a well-decorated house and neat yard, the kids via a fabulous Christmas,the Coach via a clean and tidy house where the laundry is all done, and myself via a workout each day) really NOT a good thing anymore????  Do you see how the question marks increase with my blood pressure?????

Last Friday (the 7th) Miss Snow brought us a new Christmas movie – The Elf on the Shelf, of course.  She stacked with her gift, all of our holiday DVDs from the gameroom as well as a big bowl and a couple bags of microwave popcorn.  Clearly, she wanted us to sit down with a movie and a snack and each other and enjoy the evening…

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By the time the kids got home from school, Miss Snow had even popped a bag of the popcorn, unwrapped the new movie, and grabbed a blanket to snuggle on the couch upstairs.IMG_3096

In the end, the DVD player would not open, the Heisman was being awarded, and the 5-hour old popcorn was a bit chewy…we wound up downstairs with a new bowl of fresh popcorn, watching sports, but still snuggling together under a blanket on a couch.

It wasn’t the picturesque version that I had envisioned, but I’ll take it!  So what if the outcome didn’t look just like the dream?  We spent a Friday night together, having fun, being silly, and sharing an event that (after Coach being in NY for the Heisman Award presentation last year) is special to us, and that is plenty good enough for me.

So, maybe it’s okay that I’m not accomplishing my TO DO LIST perfectly with grace and style.  Maybe it’s okay that I spent the better part of an hour indulging in a little crying jag this morning.  Maybe it’s okay that, although it doesn’t feel like ENOUGH and I am guaranteed to fall short, I’m doing what I can to do all and be all.  Maybe, just maybe, it is all OK…

I promise to post all our Guardian Elf days – even if I’m a little behind schedule.  It’s turning out too special not to share!

Enjoy a fabulous Saturday, and be sure to hug your loves today!!

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Coach and the guys in NY December 2011

 

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SonShine with the trophy back in Texas

James 1:17

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Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (New King James Version)

Miss Snow brought a great verse this morning, a great reminder at this time of year that earthly gifts are not all they’re cracked up to be.  We could talk all day about gifts, gift giving, gift buying, gift wrapping, gift receiving, and even gift returning.  I am particularly proud that my two kids can’t come up with anything to put on a list because they appreciate what they already have and that my younger sister has asked anyone wanting to share with her this holiday season to please put their gift towards a charity she supports.  Without a doubt, Magalie’s wish, both passionate and selfless, is an example of worldly gifts doing the Lord’s work.

But let’s be perfectly honest: some things here on earth are pretty darn sweet, albeit not heavenly, right?

For instance, SonShine believes that pumpkin pie (like the minis seen here which were baked – while he slept – for an English assignment that includes FEEDING THE ENTIRE 25-STUDENTS-PLUS-ONE-TEACHER-CLASS one’s favorite holiday recipe) with lots and lots of Cool Whip on top is by all measures a good and perfect gift:

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Angel Girl believes that girl time, snuggling with someone you love, the Bitty Baby that Santa brought her for her very first Christmas (when she and it were actually the exact same size), and wearing pajamas at home all day are ALL good and perfect gifts:

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I happen to believe that Coach, our kiddos, and this life we’ve built together are truly good and perfect gifts:

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

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Of course, ultimately I know where the credit for all these blessings must be given.  I thank Him every single day!!

But while we’re on the topic of beliefs, I also believe that we are given other, less tangible, less holdable, gifts as well.  One of these gifts is that of a sense of humor.  I tend to see humor where others do as well as where they do not.  I love a really dry wit, and I especially crack up at the super nerdy stuff! I believe funny people, natural comedians, enjoy life the most.  Finally, I believe that all jokes and teases are rooted in [at least a sliver of] truth which is what makes them funny in the first place.

I love to laugh!  I love silly sayings, jokes, riddles, political cartoons, the funnies page in a good ol’ newspaper, the gazillion Pinterest quote photos, and a little goofball humor (most of the time).  I especially enjoyed a bit of “Elf on the Shelf” humor that I found posted on a friend’s FB wall yesterday.  In fact, I was outright laughing AT – not with – the poor girl who wrote it.  Of course, I can laugh because I totally and completely feel her pain…

Before I share the link, let me say that Angel Girl and I are having a lot of fun with Miss Snow.  Coach still thinks it’s the most ridiculous thing in the world, but he’s playing along like the amazing Dad that he is, and SonShine is warming up to her…last night, as we sent kids off to brush (during a Duck Dynasty commercial break, of course!), SonShine turned around and questioned with indignant authority, “What about reading our Bible verse together??”

He thought we were overlooking something in which he already finds value.  And he didn’t like it.  That did my heart good!  In fact, his determination to not forget a night of our newest tradition and his sister’s joy at finding our guardian elf each morning make the lack of sleep not only bearable, but very worthwhile.  So, here’s the excerpt; I hope you’ll get a giggle out of this message that hit right at home for me in sooooo many ways:

People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies.

Back to our elf, Miss Snow…we have it on her authority that the mini pumpkin pies turned out just fine…

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she managed to steal one from the class set,

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scrounge up some whip cream,

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and even pour herself a glass a milk to wash it down…

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that elf has good taste!!

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Isaiah 33:6

December 5th

Being a coach’s kid comes with some really cool perks.  SonShine has met some of the best athletes in the world, he’s been the ring bearer for an NFL quarterback, he has gone behind the scenes and in the locker room and sat in on meetings and loved every minute of it!

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But it’s not always easy.  He takes a lot of heat and ridicule from “friends” at school when we lose, when we win, when his school coaches want to talk college ball and when they tease with him, when he gets to do those cool things listed above, and when his dad is missing from the crowd.

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Angel Girl hasn’t had to deal with as much of the peer junk – maybe girls are nicer (Ha Ha), or they don’t care as much about football, or they just don’t pay attention.  Her obstacle has been in feeling secure and stable away from home.  On her first day of 4th grade, Angel Girl walked into her 6th school building.  When she returned to that same school last fall for 5th grade, it was the first time she had ever been to the same school campus twice…some years she went to a new building in the same district, but most of the time it was a new town, new classmates, and new routines.  The confidence and strength we’ve seen develop in her this year, 6th grade and her third year in that building, has been phenomenal!

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The one constant they DO have is each other.  I have always known that, but last year I found out that they feel it, too.  One of SonShine’s coaches at school relayed the following story:

Coach R: So, you like it here?  You’ve made a lot of friends since you got here?

SonShine: Yes, sir!!  We LOVE it here.  I have met a lot of cool people.

Coach R: That’s great!  Who’s your very best buddy?

SonShine:  Well, I have a big group of friends at school.  My best friend I guess is my little sister.  See, we move around a lot, and we make lots of new friends, but she’s the one who is always there no matter where we go…

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His coach made a special point to tell me about that conversation.  He was impressed by the honesty and maturity displayed in those words.  I was thrilled to know for sure that my kids understand who and what makes a sturdy foundation.  I’ve always felt that friends are the cherry on top, the pretty decorations in life, the extra that makes things special.  But family is where one finds strength enough to build upon.  Since having my babies, I’ve come to realize that faith belongs there with the substance.  Miss Snow’s verse for today reiterates that finding in no uncertain terms:

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And just in case you think my two kids are too good to be true, let me reassure you that while they don’t really fight or argue, they still pick on and pester each other, wrestle and tickle, and act like normal siblings.  In fact, Miss Snow decided to mess with them as brother and sister this morning…I wonder how long it will take them to notice that their clothes are in each other’s closets???

His clothes in her closet...

His clothes in her closet…

Her clothes in his closet...

Her clothes in his closet…

That sneaky (yet industrious) Miss Snow!!

And all the items that didn't make it back into either closet!

And all the items that didn’t make it back into either closet!

Psalm 25: 1-5

December 4th

I love Dr. Seuss all year ’round, but something about having the Grinch on TV a few nights ago made me realize that Christmas is a Dr. Seuss kind of time…of his many, many wise and prophetic statements, this is one of my very, very favorites:

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Aren’t we so stinkin’ lucky?  We can be anything we choose to be – a student or teacher, a doctor or nurse, a lawyer or coach.  Even a half crazy, PTA-playing, community serving, kid cheering, homework checking, laundry doing, pet tending, house repairing, bill paying, Zumba dancing, spouse supporting, cooking and shopping, holiday decorating, stay-at-home-mom.  Like me 😉

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What do you choose today?  Happy, happy, happiness?

I do.  I tell my kids every morning to “Make it a great day!” because I believe it is our choice to enjoy our next 14 hours before climbing back into bed tonight.  Don’t get me wrong, I get stressed, worried, anxious, and down, but I LIKE to be flexible, energetic, creative, and up.  I like to be an improver and a problem solver.  And (obviously) I like to be a sharer. I like to be a giver.

This morning, Miss Snow chose hot chocolate with marshmallows for the kids’ breakfast…

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Maybe not the most nutritious nor traditional of drinks to start the 9 hour school day, but a fun choice none-the-less.  I chose what to pack in their lunches (and made an effort to redeem the high sugar content breakfast), and I’ll choose what we have for dinner tonight.  Angel Girl asks me to pick out her clothes each morning (I told you she was very easy going!), and SonShine has just this year began selecting his the night before.  The schools determine their daytime schedules and sports determine their evenings.  Coach’s ballgames, recruiting trips, and work hours often set the tone for our weekends.

So, when do my kids get a choice?  And if they don’t get very many, how do they learn to make good ones?  I don’t have a great answer to that, but I know I’ve been wishing, hoping, and praying for their choices since they arrived on the scene.  In fact, from the time SonShine was born, I sang to him my own version of a famous song:

  • You are my SonShine, my only SonShine.
  • You make me happy when skies are grey.
  • You’ll never know dear how much I love you.
  • Please don’t take my SonShine away.
  • The other day dear while you were sleeping,
  • I crept inside your room to pray
  • That the Lord would keep you safe
  • And guide you ‘long your way.

Oh, I love that boy!  I’m so proud of the choices he makes every single day.  He may not choose his breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  He may not get a say in how his days and evenings are spent while at school or practice.  But he does choose who is going to be.  He chooses to be a good friend, a hard working student, a supportive big brother, a loving pet owner, and one truly incredible son.  Of course, he also chooses to eat a full bag of Doritos and 8 Oreos for a snack.  He often chooses to leave his bathroom counter completely cluttered of junk and dirty clothes on his floor.  He even selects to stay up too late watching ESPN or movies with Coach every chance he gets.

Christmas 1998

Christmas 1998

All-in-all, I think SonShine is choosing a pretty great path.  Miss Snow’s verse for the day refers to the paths we choose, the learning and growing that takes place along the way, and the truths that our choices reveal:

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Enjoy your path today, embrace your journey, and know that tomorrow provides a whole new set of choices so that you can steer yourself in any direction you choose…

John 3:16

December 3rd

Two words: Safety Scissors

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That is what most impressed Angel Girl yesterday morning when she found Miss Snow.  All throughout the day she kept mentioning it again and again, “I just love that Miss Snow was being smart and used safety scissors to play with the Twizzlers!”  At least four times on our drive to Big D, she brought it up in our conversation – it was just too funny!

It reminds me of a time, not too terribly long ago when Angel Girl, SonShine, Uncle Shaun, and I had just watched a really intense and dramatic episode of NCIS (our favorite show of all time, although Duck Dynasty is becoming a very close second).  This episode was a biggie: people being killed off, secrets being revealed, and foreshadowing being thrown all over the place.  As the credits began to roll at warp speed to make way for the next NCIS episode (we also love a good TV marathon), Angel Girl said in her most thoughtfully profound voice, “I just never knew that Director Vance had an X-Box.”

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At first the rest of us just looked at her, wondering if we heard her right.  That only lasted a split second before Uncle Shaun (in all his INfamous charm and dry wit) replied, “Really?  THAT is what you took from that episode?  <pause>  <pause>  That’s funny ’cause I was just thinking the exact same thing…”

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You’re probably sitting there saying to yourself, “Guess you had to be there!” but trust me when I tell you that it was absolutely hysterical.  Her brain is off in left field, and he is making fun AND encouraging her uniquely wayward thoughts all at the same time.  Meanwhile, SonShine and I are laughing so hard that our stomachs hurt!

I take the time to share that story, as well as the safety scissor story, to point out that trying to read a child’s mind is truly an exercise in futility.  Trying to predict their next thought, statement, or action is useless.  In other words, staying a step ahead is not-now-and-will-never-be possible!

Both my kids are pretty easy going.  They are home bodies like Coach and I, so we spend a lot of time together.  I honestly believe that at this point in their lives, I understand them better than anyone.  I know all their tells: facial expressions that indicate certain emotions, the dreaded “Mom, you look so pretty” compliment that indicates trouble is a’coming, Angel Girl’s ramble and SonShine’s silence that both mean they need my help or support with a struggle they’re facing.  Yet, as easily as I can see their wheels spinning, I still manage to find myself surprised by their perspective, and it’s usually (as They say) when I least expect it.

I love how my kids see life so differently at times.  Their perspective is really untainted and refreshing.  It WAS quite smart of Miss Snow to grab kid scissors instead of an adult pair which is twice her own size.  And it WAS interesting to witness how Director Vance interacted with his kids after a wild a crazy day; I believe in her own way that scene stuck out for her because it illustrated a family dynamic to which she could relate.  Out of the blue, random connections are one of the many gifts we gain from our children. Their insight is priceless!  They point out the parts we miss, the important stuff we overlook.

I’ve overlooked so much:  The deflating effect of my words when I give even constructive criticism (the cheer competition didn’t go badly, but it wasn’t great either…more about that and my difficulty with not being 100% honest later, maybe MUCH later).  How my 14 year old boy will talk and share a lot if I ever for myself to quit talking, put a baseball/basketball/football/anyball in his hand, and stand around listening.  My responsibility to be diligent about putting our faith in their daily lives so that my children feel it embracing them at all times.  These are just a small sampling of what I saw yesterday that I have sorely neglected on a daily basis.

Luckily, two key elements are also at play here.  #1) I opened my eyes to a few things, and I’m going to keep paying attention to what I saw, and #2) Miss Snow is here to help!

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For Day 3 she brought a new Elf on the Shelf ornament (the first decoration on this year’s tree) and, of course, another scripture card.  Today’s verse reminds us what a beautiful, life-saving gift a child can be for us all.  And that is a gift, just like my two most awesome blessings, that I am NOT overlooking!

Matthew 2:10

December 2nd

Our Guardian Elf is now better known as Miss Snow.  To say that Angel Girl was happy to receive her is surely an understatement!  Best of all, she is the reason for a beautiful moment shared last night:  After a HUGE WIN (yeah, Baby!!) on the football field, Coach was enjoying someone else’s game on TV, SonShine had just come in from shooting hoops in the driveway with Uncle Shaun, and Angel Girl grabbed our newly-delivered-family-Bible and me…we all 5 took a seat on the living room couch…Angel Girl (in her slowwwww, dainty, methodical way of doing EVERYthing) found the scripture on Miss Snow’s card…Coach muted his ball game…Uncle Shaun put down his Twitter feed…the kids sat close, holding the Bible together…and Angel Girl read to us Luke 2: 9-14.

And it was good.  Indeed, I really like that particular glimpse at my world!

Which brings us to Day 2…Today we’re off to cheer on Angel Girl and her Texas Dynasty Emeralds.  Miss Snow seems to know what is on the agenda; not only did she raid the Twizzlers while we slept, she even used them to wish Angel Girl good luck.

Miss Snow

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She also brought another scripture card that we will share together, probably sitting around the couch this evening since, as crazy creatures of habit, our tradition is now set.

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My wish for this day is that Angel Girl and all her fellow cheerleaders feel like shining stars on that big, boisterous stage.  Regardless of hitting every single stunt or being exactly on count, I hope they see their accomplishments and enjoy their time in the spotlight (literally!).  It is the first cheer competition of the year, and my girl is more than a little nervous.  She wants her squad to be flawless in their routine – perfect.  I love how much she cares!  And to keep her calm, I just keep asking, “How can you go wrong with a gorgeous smile, a beautiful attitude, and those sparkly blue eyes???”

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Angel Girl with her BCFs:
Best Cheer Friends!!

Luke 2: 9-24

December 1st

She has arrived – our guardian elf is in the house.

Special Delivery

In her box, the kids found a letter explaining how she got here, why she came, and what she hopes to accomplish while she’s here.

Ho - Ho - Ho

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She also brought The Elf on the Shelf for our Christmas library (quite a collection if I do so say so myself!).  Last, but most certainly not least, she delivered a new family Bible to us with a verse she wanted us to read together, already underlined – she is SOOOO efficient!!

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Each day she will deliver a new verse for the kids to look up, underline, and read together. (Here are Cards 1-10 if you wish to see and/or print them. Some of the fun and colorful backgrounds did not make it through the techno airwaves, though they are easy to recreate in Word…sorry.)

I’ll let you know each day, or at least every few, how our guardian elf is helping this house remember the reason for the season while establishing a new family tradition with a twist…

Now we are off to cheer on Coach – it’s the final regular-season game of 2012, and a big W sure will set the tone for a fabulous weekend –

SIC ‘EM BEARS!!

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