Monday, December 31, 2012

1000 gifts: butterflies and stars

Continuing my list of gifts, blessings that I write down to remember all the wonderful things that God gives me along life's journey. I write these down on my calendar, and when I get a chance I add them here to my blog. These are all blessings are from December, 2012.

552. The Butterfly Pavilion
I've been wanting to take the girls to the Butterfly Pavilion (near Denver) for years now, and it occurred to me this would be a great birthday "party" for the twins' sixth birthday. They were so excited about it! (the older girls, too). We even managed to convince B. to come along with us. We got there just in time for when they release dozens of new butterflies into the pavilion, too. At one point there were so many butterflies they were landing all over us! The girls were all brave enough to hold Rosie the Tarantula too (I wasn't). Later on....Grandpa H. got a great idea for the twins' birthday presents: scooters! (they were definitely a hit, with the older kids too).

553. A walk under the starry sky 
Every once in a while B. asks me to go on a walk with him. He knows I love walks - even at night. This stems from growing up when my parents and I (I was an only child) always went for a walk around the block in the evening after dinner (which reminds me, we always took our dog on our walks of course, but our cat would follow us her own pace, of course, but almost always within sight of us. I think that is pretty unusual, never have heard of other cats doing that!). Anyway, growing up in the city (Buffalo, NY), our night walks were lit by streetlamps. Out here on the edge of a small town in Wyoming, there are no street lamps, our light instead comes from a full spread of stars - something I rarely saw at night in the city.

554. Chime choir
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is going to the University Art Museum's annual Christmas tree auction, which includes a bunch of school and community performances. This year was Blaze's first year to perform with her classmates in chime choir. 

This website has the neatest charts and ideas for incorporating Scripture into home activities and to resolve disputes and other issues with kids

556. All by myself in a bookstore
I always ask for books for Christmas, but B. is never sure what books to buy me. So this year he watched the kids one night so I could go to Hastings all by myself and spend as long as I wanted browsing through books without any distractions. Oh, it was heaven!  I finally texted him my choices and he got these three books for me for Christmas:  Jesus Lives by Sarah Young (since I love her devotional, Jesus Calling, so much!), Breaking Free Day by Day by Beth Moore, and Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.

557. 18th birthday
Stars turned 18 years old on December 24! This is a really tough day to celebrate a birthday, though. She finally decided she wanted to do a shopping spree down in Denver. We went to the Colorado Mills mall and had so much fun together, trying on pretty things. I am not much of a shopper, especially in malls, but the day before Christmas ended up being perfect - not crowded, lots of sales, and beautiful Christmas atmosphere. Stars found some shirts, a necklace (I may have to borrow it), a skirt and a pair of shoes, but the highlight was finding a gorgeous Guess coat that she's been wanting for years - on sale - and a beautiful new coat for me, too! (on sale too).

558. Driving around in a cute little car
I've had some misgivings about the car that Stars bought this fall after her other car was totaled in an accident (not her fault). She bought a tiny little red Mini Cooper. It may not be the most practical car in the world, but driving to Denver and back with her in the Mini was so much fun - I can't blame her for loving it! I was also amazed at how well it handled (with snow tires, fortunately) in the snow storm we encountered on the drive back.

559. Christmas with a dear friend
My beloved friend K.A. and her family stayed with us for Christmas! They actually came to Laramie for Christmas with his parents and siblings and their families, but they made "reservations" to stay at our house since others were staying at the parents' house. This meant on Christmas Eve after Stars and I got home from Denver, K. and her family were just coming back after festivities with their extended family. I still had all my Christmas wrapping to do, and K. insisted on staying up with me and helping me, so we could have more time together to talk and catch up on each others' lives.  Best Christmas gift she could possibly give me.

560. A map mug
But K. did give me another wonderful Christmas present, too, a map mug. And if you think, what's the big deal with that, you don't understand that two of my favorite things in the world are maps and tea, so a map mug is the perfect combination!

561. All the stores closed
Christmas morning B. and the kids and I hauled all the presents out the car and drove to my parents' house to celebrate Christmas with them. I loved driving through the snowy town (a beautiful White Christmas this year!) with all the stores closed, all the roads empty, thinking about everyone snug in their homes with their families celebrating (and praying for those that perhaps don't have families to celebrate with).

562. A knight nutcracker
Besides my map mug and books from B., my favorite presents this year were the two nutcrackers to add to my collection - a knight nutcracker, complete with armor, shield and sword, from Heather L. and an extra big Santa nutcracker from my mom.

563. Memory book for grandparents
The girls worked on a memory scrap book for both sets of grandparents  (yes, even Stars! she wrote some wonderful memories) as Christmas gifts. This was a very time-intensive project (for me, too, helping them) but so worth it! The kids were also delighted with their Christmas presents - some favorite presents were a marble run kit, Webkinz, Dizzy Dancers, a toy truck and horse trailer, and of course lots and lots of toy horses.

We spent five days after Christmas and New Year's Eve with B.'s parents and his sister's family (M.G. and T.G and their kids) and some of their friends too. It was an extra special celebration because B.'s mother is (at least for the time being) cancer free! She looked wonderful and was in great spirits and my daughters were so happy to finally see her (we haven't seen her since May because of all her travel to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for cancer treatments).

565. Dancing on my walk
So much fun, games, and food with family while in South Dakota. I was really worried about the food part, knowing that the constant barrage of treats would make it extremely difficult to not keep snacking between meals. I did snack a lot, but also had plenty of time to exercise too so I took many long walks in the beautiful snowy countryside. One time I took my iPod loaded with a bunch of great dance songs that I've discovered (thanks to Stars). The dance songs were so  much fun, and the winter scenery so beautiful, at one point I couldn't just walk anymore - I started dancing. I figured I was out in the middle of nowhere and no one would see me, but of course T.G. happened to see me as he was driving in from town. He didn't give me too hard of a time about it. Besides, who cares? I was dancing and having fun and praising the Lord and it was wonderful being so full of life and joy, why not have someone witness my happiness and silliness?

566. Alive, by Natalie Grant
Who but You, could breathe and leave a trail of galaxies and dream of me?
What kind of Love is writing my story till the end with Mercy’s pen? Only You.
What kind of king would choose to wear a crown that bleeds and scars to win my heart?
What kind of Love tells me I’m the reason He can’t stay inside the grave?
You... Is it You? Standing here before my eyes, every part of my heart cries

what Mercy’s overcome; Death has lost and Love has won
Hallelujah, Risen Lord, the only One I fall before I am His because He is alive.

Who could speak, and send the demons back from where they came with just one Name?
What other heart would let itself be broken every time till He healed mine?
Only You
could turn my darkness into dawn; running right into Your arms

Emmanuel, the promised King
the baby who made angels sing
Son of Man who walked with us, healing, breathing in our dust
The author of all history, the answer to all mysteries
The Lamb of God who rolled away
the stone in front of every grave

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