Sunday, December 27, 2009

Little One's First Christmas: JOY

It is amazing how quickly Little One's first Christmas has come and gone. My family is thankful for so much this season. The Lord has truly blessed us, and we want to remember that the Lord is present in the times of want and the times of plenty. It has been a hard few months for my family and my husband's. We felt joy unknown to us with the birth of Little one and then so much grief with the loss of Mom Peg (Husband's Grandmother) and LouLou (my Great-Grandmother). There have been many tears. It was refreshing to just feel Joy this past month. I am grateful for this feeling as it is not always this way.

Here is a bit of what our month looked like:

We started the month with buying our tree.

We decorated.

We then celebrated with a party at our house. Yes, a party with a 5 week old baby is always interesting. Honey and my husband helped me so much.

Little One went to Honey's along with two uncles (Uncle Bear and Uncle Brother) and baked some cookies.

We celebrated with GiGi and family the Sunday before Christmas. GiGi was so generous and her house was filled with presents and joy.

We celebrated Christmas with the PaP., YaYa and family on Christmas Eve day. YaYa and JuJu cooked a feast, and PaP. gave his amazing assortment of gifts (candles, door stopper, slippers, crazy pacifier for Eloise are just a few of the gifts).

We then celebrated Christmas with the Pappy, Honey, and family on Christmas Eve night. There were so many laughs that night starting with the family attempting to make faces that are genetically impossible (see info below) and the Snuggie gift from Honey and Pappy.

Modeling of the Snuggie can be viewed on the previous post.

Little One is able to raise one eyebrow and frown. We learned this is a gift from her father and not the White family. Here is dad's ability and her Uncie's failed attempt ... mine was much worse and thankfully not captured on film.

Christmas night, Dad, Uncle Brother, Uncle Bear, Pappy and I went to the Titan's game while Honey watched Little One. It was tough leaving Little One on Christmas night but dad convinced me that 1.Little One would not remember and 2. Little One would love some time with Honey. He got me there even though I froze. That evening I ended up having a bad virus, went to the hospital the next morning to get fluids and now am back at home.

Now, we are trying to put away the many gifts and get back to the normal pace of life. It has been a whirlwind but my favorite Christmas thus far. Little One is a gift that I could never have imagined.

It might have been a "Tender Tennessee Christmas" at your house, 
but it was a "Tacky Tennessee Christmas" at ours!

     One of our traditions has always been pajamas on Christmas Eve. I could not resist a slight amendment to the family protocol this year...hence the blue Snuggi's. I even had to purchase a dog Snuggi for Little One which we modified albeit slightly for her to wear. Phoebe the Westie wore it all the next day. The kids roared over this gift and promptly played ham-it-up for the camera. Please note the book lights that came as a freebie with the Snuggi which they pretended were taser guns for a while. We can't decide whether they all look like members of a sci-fi cult or some unknown religous sect of monks, but one thing I know is that they are NOT angels!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas is Calling

     I was an eight-year-old girl sitting in the side pew of the First Baptist Church of Opp, Alabama, that October evening. It was fall revival week and my precious grandparents who loved the church and never missed an opportunity to serve others had taken me each night to the services. That particular evening, my grandmother had slipped out early to help prepare the refreshments that would later be served in the Fellowship Hall. And so it was that I was sitting there all alone. I don't remember the message, I only know that when the choir began to sing the oft repeated revival hymn, "Just As I Am,"  I found myself growing more uncomfortable by the minute. Suddenly my place in the pew no longer felt safe. I looked at the aisle of the church and wondered if I had the courage to get up out of my seat and walk the distance to the preacher standing there waiting at the end of the aisle. As I listened to the words of the chorus, my heart was beating so hard it felt as though it was about to come out of my chest. The wooden pew beneath my hand suddenly felt warm and then hot. I could sit no longer. I don't remember the walk down the aisle, the words the pastor spoke to me as he hugged me hard or the reactions of anyone else. I only remember the words to the song and the fact that from that day to this day 47 years later, I have been different. It was October on the calendar, but it was Christmas for me.
     Emmanuel, God is with us, Emmanuel, God is with me. I wish that I could tell you that I have never wavered, never doubted, never kicked out at God and screamed at Him in frustration, fear, panic, or pain. I wish that in these 47 years I had not been indifferent or apathetic or selfish or just plain mean. I wish that I had loved Him more and myself and things less. I wish a thousand different things about my walk with the One who called me out of the pew that night. But there is one thing I would never change. That night I began to know what it was to be a member of His family, to be His daughter and His beloved.  The Lamb who was spotless and perfect took on the weight of my millions of sins and paid the price so that I could have Christmas.
     I still can scarcely believe it. I know that I was scared that night. My daddy was dying with brain cancer, and I somehow knew that my life would soon change in ways that I could not fathom. But that October night when I left the pew, I left the comfort of the familiar to move into the realm of the impossible....and that is where I will always and forever be. I am a sinner redeemed by the glorious grace, mercy, and love of a magnificent God. I am in His family. It will always be so. He gave me Christmas in October and for me, Christmas it will always be. Emmanuel. God with us....God with me. A truth so amazing, I struggle to take it in.....and yet, for me each day, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas is calling......

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It Wasn't Mama in the Kitchen....

  It wasn't Mama in the kitchen, it was Pearly. She was the queen of the kitchen and everybody knew it, even Mama Frankie, my great-grandmother. Mama Frankie ruled the rest of the house with an iron hand but Pearly outranked even my great-grandmother when it came to that kitchen. Everybody...from the youngest to the oldest knew better than to mess with Pearly's domain. The only occupants who had a standing invitation were those who had not yet reached counter height. I have been back to that house on Main Street as an adult, and I don't know how she did it, but day after day she worked her magic and turned out some of the best cooking this side of the Mississippi River.  I ate my first table food with Pearly...probably field peas mashed nearly to mush accompanied by cornbread softened with a little pot liquor. Pearly was a diminutive woman, but she stands tall in my memory. Her tightly curled hair was cropped short to her head and was already turning from gray to white even when I was a little girl, but I loved the softness of her skin and the way that she always smelled faintly of baby powder. Even today I can close my eyes and see those heavily starched aprons in the tiny muslin print that she wore day after day. They had two deep pockets in the front and when she knew that we were coming, she would hide treats in those pockets -- usually biscuits that were cut with a special glass that was just the right size for tiny hands. She loved for us to come up behind her and reach our grubby little hands around her waist into those pockets. Pearly always acted shocked when we found the biscuits or sugar cookies she had hidden there and for years upon years I thought that we had actually taken her by surprise. I know better now.
   I also sadly know that I did not understand nor appreciate, not by a mile, the sacrifice of time and love that Pearly so generously gave my great-grandmother and our family. I don't think I ever paid a visit to my great-grandmother's house that Pearly was not there. As a child I would walk with my cousins from my own grandmother's house down the street to eat many a hot lunch with Pearly holding court in that tiny kitchen. I am ashamed to say that I did not know Pearly's family or the names of her children and grandchildren. I always assumed we were her family, and she never ever made me feel as if I were otherwise.
   Times have changed and much of the change was far too long in coming. I cannot go back and traverse those roads except in memory. But in my heart I say thank you to Pearly and the women like her who loved children like me and showered us with welcoming hugs, acceptance, and a love that bears a mighty strong resemblance to the love of Christ. Pearly took us, who were not her own flesh and blood, and made us feel as though we were her own. And for a fatherless little girl it was one of the special ways that the Heavenly Father wrapped me in His own loving arms. Merry Christmas, Pearly. I still love you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Merry Christmas to All...

    The little truck in front of me idled as we waited for the light to change. It was so covered in dust and grime that the license plate was almost illegible. It was a humble little truck and totally unremarkable in every regard. Light tan in color and complete with one of those flatbed covers that allows the owner to transport all kinds of things without having to worry about them flying out of the back of the truck, I guessed that the vehicle had weathered at least 15-20 winters for its owner. Despite the fact that I could hear the grumble of the muffler above the sound of my Christmas music, the truck appeared to be an altogether serviceable and road worthy form of transportation. When the light finally changed, I grew impatient as the driver seemed to be taking his own sweet time. We were on an interstate entrance ramp with a short merging lane, and if you were not very careful, it was easy to run out of room. I tapped my steering wheel and thought about blowing my horn but my Southern upbringing almost kept my frustration in check. Despite the fact that I had places to go, people to see, and things to do, I would not be that rude. Yet the guy in front of me was obviously in no particular hurry. Despite my best intentions I rode his bumper hard for a hundred yards or so and then put the pedal to the metal to cross over into the other lane as quickly as possible. I was still too self-righteous to give him a withering look, but as soon as I could, I craned my head to see just who was driving a mere 40 miles per hour on a somewhat dangerous entrance ramp. I should have known better. As we drew side-by-side, the other driver raised his hand in greeting and gave me a winsome smile that creased his cheeks and stretched to his eyes. And suddenly I understood. He was in no hurry...yet...there were still 12 days left until he would be almost an impatient as I. For smiling at me across the lane was a red-coated gentleman with wire-rimmed glasses, a bonafide snowy white beard, and a determined twinkle in his eye. I kid you not. My own eyes nearly popped out of my head. The older man driving the almost ancient truck was none other than Santa Claus. His pace was measured and careful, and he seemed to be in no particular hurry. Of course he wasn't. As our eyes met, I could not help but smile. I even shivered a bit with excitement and chuckled out loud as I returned his generous wave. Suddenly my spirits were lifted and my attitude transformed. And as I passed him I wondered to myself what delights could be hidden in the back of that little Datsun truck....Later that evening, I mused to myself that the dust that coated the truck from head to toe was none other than pixie dust or sawdust from his famous workshop. The sled was still in the shed.......

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Precious Little One

I am sitting on the couch with my husband and daughter. Yes, I have a beautiful daughter that could keep her parents occupied and in awe by just being. It is amazing the way a grunt, a grin, a sneeze, and a lifting of the head can keep you watching when you love someone so much. I had a dear friend ask, "Is it really true that you can't understand a parent's love until you have your own children?" My answer is YES, but I want to give a small amount of insight in my six weeks of expertise, ha. I will also be putting in the random stats on my little one so that I can remember so please bear with me. I also will likely not be using proper grammar which is going to be very difficult for the Scofield side of the family! I better watch out as my mom aka Honey might edit some of this.

Current stats: Little One is cooing and smiling a lot. She will coo back to you when you talk to her. Amazing! She also is tolerating tummy time more and will lift her head and turn from side to side. Last night she slept for 6 HOURS!! Definitely gaining weight and outgrowing all Newborn clothes and in 0-3mths. Still kicks her right leg a lot especially when upset.

Here is a short blip I wrote in November to try to remember the one month mark:

I am exhausted beyond any point that I have ever reached in my life. The level of tired is so much more as it has been long hours awake for one month and not one weekend. Again, worth it. There are small things, like her breath when she yawns, her hair that won’t stay down, her belly button, and her nostrils that are different sizes that I love. Most people won’t notice these small details but her mom and dad do. They love staring at her and do this more than they watch TV. 

Things I love: grunts and noises as she falls asleep and wakes in the morning. her lips that are perfectly shaped and full of color. her ears that are not small but lay down so nicely. her lip quiver. her pouty face that looks like her father and also sleeping with her mouth open just like he does. her long torso from who knows where (ha). her toes and fingers so delicate. her face so beautiful and so feminine. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Christmas Bride

   One of our family Christmas traditions was borne out of desperation rather than necessity as the age-old axiom asserts. In the early years of our marriage my husband and I argued incessantly over the annual purchase of the Christmas tree. It is not that the man was the incarnate Ebenezer Scrooge, but rather the one who tended to view life from an immensely practical side (I suppose ole Ebenezer did too). My husband's point of view was based on the fact that since we traveled 500 miles to spend Christmas with my family of origin every other year, the purchase of a Christmas tree for a house that would be vacant on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was totally superfluous. But I, who was raised by the Queen of Christmas Decor, knew otherwise. It mattered little whether the house was occupied on the actual day of Christmas or Christmas Eve...the tree was an essential component of the festivity and celebration of the season. Yet my husband would not budge. Thus I was forced to badger, cajole, plead and use every resource available to convince the recalcitrant man that a Christmas tree was a vital purchase EVERY single year. Once I had won this battle, I had little time to rest on my laurels before another problem arose. The tree was purchased and firmly ensconced in the living room but alas, there were very FEW LIGHTS and virtually NO ORNAMENTS. What was a girl to do? I was desperate. I had won the right to have the tree each year, but who wants a naked tree in the house...staring at you night after night waiting and begging to be dressed in some appropriate holiday finery. And I knew better than to go to my husband and ask for more money to purchase items that he already struggled to find necessary. And so in my desperation I prayed for inspiration and inspiration I found. The first year I popped popcorn, bought cranberries and made garlands galore until my thumbs were sore from the needles going in and out, in and out as I strung for hours on end. And when I realized the next year that I was in the same boat as before because used popcorn and cranberry garlands are only good for the birds... I prayed once again. On the hunt in our tiny apartment, I dug through an old trunk to find carefully preserved bows, ribbons and leftover tulle from our wedding. I also found a few bits -- a yard or two here and there-- of several laces that I had purchased to embellish a dress or two. Soon these ribbons and laces found their way onto the tree and over time have become the tradition in our home. Now there are ribbons from our daughter's wedding and some gorgeous antique lace given to me by a special friend over 20 years ago that have been added to the original collection. Each year these ribbons and bits of lace more than garnish our tree-- they serve as the tree's primary decoration and help to make each one a object of beauty. When my daughter was about six or seven, she was helping me drape the tree in its finery when she turned to me and said, "Look Mommy, our tree is a bride." And I stepped back and squinted my eyes just so. And then I saw it. The tall green lady in her odd bits of lace and ribbon had suddenly become a very beautiful bride. And so it has been for the past thirty-five years that all our Christmas trees are brides. Each one different and each one beautiful in her own right. I love it. For me, it is another extension of the picture of Christ and his love for his people, the Church. We are His bride and He is the Bridegroom. And each year when we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the mystery of the unlovely who become the lovely by the grace, mercy, incarnation, and sacrifice of God. And each year our tree stands in her bridal glory as a tangible reminder of that glorious and powerful love.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Giving Myself Grace to Grieve

     I feel as though I have lived a lifetime in the past two weeks. Time has both compressed and lengthened itself into a unending ribbon of a road. There have been blessings and glimpses of the Glory of God that have nearly taken my breath away, but with the passing of days has come a deep weariness that is settling over my soul. I know that I need to grieve and unfortunately, for me, this is problematic. Even though I firmly believe in the Biblical truth that there is indeed a time to rejoice and a time to mourn, in my family of origin strength is considered paramount. Any sign of weakness is often suppressed or carefully disguised. And so that makes it very difficult to grieve. Part of me wishes for the days when one could put on sackcloth and ashes and rend one's garments. It was an outward sign of an inward condition. The garments were torn because the heart was torn. And today my heart is torn. I am sad. I know all of the right things to believe and say and do, and yet, I am still sad. I miss the presence of a person that has been in my life for as long as I can remember, and I am doubly sad as I am watching my 80-year-old mother cope with her own defining loss.  In my head, I can work it all out neatly and tie it up with a bow, but in my heart, I just hurt. So today I am bathing myself in the grace of God that says when we are weak, He is strong.

Two grandmother's and my mother's...
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.