Friday, November 26, 2010

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart . . .

Yes, I am thankful for so many things. As we began our Thanksgiving meal, my mother-in-law asked us to each say something for which we are thankful. Goodness gracious, where should I begin? I did say that I was thankful for gainful employment (we couldn't repeat anything that had been said!!). Grace, who is in middle-school, couldn't think of anything and I prompted her with, "lots of flavors of ice cream." We were (and are) thankful for family and "relatively" good health (Bill - who has Parkinson's made this comment!!), and kids and having a job where we actually help someone. Our list goes on and on!! We don't eat Thanksgiving lunch . . .we eat dinner!! Our dinner began with Laura's appetizer - brie wrapped in puff pastry and drizzled with maple syrup. No alcohol is served (ever!) at my mother-in-law's house, but we always have ginger ale mixed with cranberry juice.
Here is a picture of Laura wearing her cute turkey shirt that we made one night this week. It turned out so cute!! She wore it to work on Wednesday and one of her little girls said, "I like your chicken."
Mark normally carves the turkey, but as you will see in another picture - he is SICK this year. So Glenn was learning to carve the turkey. I believe that Bill was giving instructions.
Look - here comes George Elliott through the door. George, Glenn and I all had on orange shirts!! Mark is sitting as far away from the food as possible . . .and he is holding his box of Kleenexes. His momma was sick last weekend and Mark has been sick now for a few days . . .and now I'm fighting it. "It" is a very nasty cold and cough. Mucinex, Robitussin, Motrin and Kleenexes are our friends.
Laura has a special job each year . . .the "job" is to put out all the little pilgrim candles. Some of the candles are as old as her daddy. She has been putting out the candles since she was a little bitty girl. Grandmother always saves them for her!!

Since I bought my camera this summer, I'm always playing with it - turning off the flash, turning on the flash, using different settings. I thought this one of the centerpiece turned out great.

Here is a shot or two of the ridiculous amount of food. Let's see . . .turkey and dressing (not stuffing - cornbread dressing) and gravy (I would be happy with those foods alone!!-one of my all-time favorite meals). I made mashed potato casserole (thanks Dona Green for the recipe) and sweet and sour green beans (thanks Bert Gaddis for the recipe!!). I'm glad that our friends are such good cooks. I also made the pumpkin casserole, which is really butternut squash but for some reason, Mark's family calls them pumpkins. This casserole is sort of like sweet potatoes except "lighter" - not as heavy or dense as sweet potatoes. Rebecca and Bill brought squash and zucchini and cauliflower (she is allergic to latex and has to be very careful about her food choices). Alice brought apple and cranberry casserole (It is delicious) and she also brought the relish tray which included Wickles and even Wickles okra. I think it is so neat that those wickedly delicious pickles are made right here in Alabama. Check them out

I also made deviled eggs because my family always had deviled eggs for every holiday. Grandmother stuffed celery with cream cheese and olives - yummy! Grandmother also made 6 pies and I made cookies and cupcakes. Good grief - lots of food!! Oh, I almost forgot - Lauren and her mother, Ann, brought a corn casserole.

Grandmother makes a large casserole of dressing but then she makes a bunch of small ones in muffin tins. These are my favorite because they are crusty all the way around.

After dinner, we washed dishes and sat around and visited and I think there was even a movie on at some point. We didn't stay too late because Mark was feeling really lousy and to be honest, I was beginning to feel sort of yucky myself :-(
I am so very thankful and do indeed give thanks to God for all the blessings in our lives.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

much love and many celebrations

I sure do love our daughter, Laura. She has blessed our lives in so many ways! She is sweet and funny and kind and caring and compassionate. She is beautiful. She is truly a child of God. Her birthday was on Thursday and she began her celebration during the day. She is working on her master's in education and she has spent many hours in a classroom with cute kids this fall. They all made cards for her. So cute! Then we all met for dinner at the Cheesecake factory. I picked up Grandmother (Mark's mom) after work and we met Laura and Mark and Anna (Laura's good friend) at the Cheesecake Factory. We had a delicious dinner. Then we drove back to Grandmother's house and celebrated with cake.

Let me tell you about the cake. We have a wonderful bakery here in town. The name of the bakery is Pastry Art. They make these wonderful little bite size cakes called appropriately "baby bites." You can order a whole cake if you order three weeks in advance and that is the cake that Laura requested . . . .yummy - best cake you will ever put in your mouth. This is the caramel cake with caramel icing. Delish!! Here is their website:
After cake at Grandmother's house, we drove home and Laura opened her presents from Mark and me.

Her favorite and most-wanted gift was this watch. I had no idea that over-sized watches are in style. Guess that comes from being middle-aged perhaps?

The celebrations didn't end there. On Friday night, Laura went to the birthday party for one of her sorority sisters from Auburn. Then on Saturday night, she had dinner at Jackson's with close friends.
On Sunday, we celebrated her birthday at Grandmother's house. Grandmother celebrates all birthdays on Sunday. This is the first year ever when Laura has had her birthday all to herself. Glenn is living in Mobile and is coming home tonight. Back to Grandmother's house - she always buys cute birthday napkins!!

We had a delicious lunch after church (which we are privileged to do every Sunday!). Laura had requested birthday apple pie rather than birthday cake. So Grandmother made a beautiful homemade apple pie.
At this birthday celebration, Laura received lots of new Vera Bradley. When she graduated from high school, she had a Vera Bradley graduation (received tons and has used it almost every week since!!) She has worn out those duffel bags and diddy bags and make up bags and her pattern has been retired . . .so she picked out a new pattern - purple punch. She received the large duffel bag, a hanging organizer, a lanyard (from her friend, Joni) for her teacher ID and a couple of other pieces. She was a happy girl (or I should say, young woman!!).
I'm hoping that she doesn't read my blog because she might kill me for posting this but during this Thanksgiving week, I am so very thankful for Laura - so very thankful for the work God has done, is doing and will continue to do in her.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Laura and I have been busy. I know how to sew and she is the artistic one. Several posts ago, I showed y'all the shirt that she made for Halloween (spider). She teaches pre-school and is working on her master's in education so she can wear fun and silly shirts to work on holidays. When I got home from work, she had all the pieces cut out. She free-handed the patterns and picked her fabric from the remnant bins at JoAnn's. One of her co-workers liked her spider shirt so much that she asked her to make a Christmas tree shirt for her little girl to wear in their family Christmas photo. I think she is going to wear a purple tutu with the shirt . . .that is why there is a purple bow on top of the tree.

Here is a close-up of Laura's turkey . . .yes, it is a girl and she has a hairbow :-) I have sewed and smocked and made hairbows over the years but I never appliqued. My mother-in-law always did that part for me. This has been a learning curve for me. I would love any tips you might have to share.

A middle-aged mom and a young adult daughter - we make a great team!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

painters . . .

Just a few days ago, I posted a picture of our new bedspread . . .and pretty soon, I'll post a picture of the entire "after" room. The painters have been here this week painting our bedroom. We've been in this house for about 18 years. The house was brand new when we moved in but it was a spec house and the master bedroom was painted pepto bismal pink - I kid you not (this would have been sometime in the early 90's). We actually wrote a change into the contract that the bedroom had to be re-painted before we would sign the contract. So our wonderful decorator, Cindy Davis of Davis Designs (who has been our decorator all these years!!) picked out the perfect color for us and the name of the paint was herald green. We've loved that color so much that we even had it repainted the same color one time. . .so the point is we've lived in a herald green room for 18 years. Our room is now Fairview taupe and I love it. It is kind of a brown/green/gray color and when you walk into the room, you feel as if a warm blanket has been wrapped around you. We have lots and lots of glossy white trim and our cabinets are white and we have lots of windows and light so the room doesn't appear dark at all.Here is one of the painters (I think they thought I was nuts for taking their picture!!) . . .funny story about the painters. A painter named Brent has painted just about every room in our house at one time or another. Someone in Mark's office recommended Brent years ago and we were pleased and so continued to use him over the course of 10 or 15 years. But I couldn't find Brent's phone number in any of my old notes so I called Cindy (decorator) and asked her if she could line up some painters for us. They arrived last Friday to check out the space, etc. They rang the doorbell and I opened the door and guess who was on my front porch? Brent - of all people. I just started laughing. Our town and surrounding area is fairly large and I'm sure there are a lot of painters out there . . .and here was our painter . ..whom I couldn't find!

Right now, I'm trying to dig out from the mess of a week without a bedroom and one of our baths. We've all been sleeping upstairs (thank goodness for extra bedrooms) and I've been blow drying my hair and putting on my make-up in the powder room and we've been doing laundry so that we could have clean stuff to wear because we couldn't get in our dresser drawers, etc. All that clean laundry was piling up in the laundry room (because I couldn't put it away) and this morning, I've started folding the mountain and it is all over our bed . . . so "after" pictures of the room will come soon. I'm excited - the room looks fresh and clean and up-to-date . . .BUT now we need new counter tops, new faucets, new towel bars . . .uh oh!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kansas City - Church of the Resurrection

Back in October, seven of us from Trinity UMC flew to Kansas City and then drove to Leewood (could be Leawood), Kansas for the Leadership Institute '10 at the Church of the Resurrection. Wow!! It was a great conference - but it was so much more than a conference to me. This is going to be a crazy mixed-up post because I loaded pictures from two different computers. We flew to Kansas after work on a Wednesday and arrived at our hotel around 10:00 p.m. I had made all of the flight and hotel reservations for our group and everything had been just fine . . .until I opened the door to my room. The room had not been cleaned since the previous guests had vacated. I went back to the lobby and much to my dismay found out that the housecleaning staff had gone home for the evening and the hotel was sold out. As I laid my head on the cool granite counter, the lady behind the counter realized how tired I was. She offered me a bottle of water and a seat on the coach in the lobby . . .somehow they found a room for me. It was a nice clean room with giant FEATHER pillows (yes, I'm allergic to feather pillows) so do you see that little pile of blue toward the headboard? That is my blue jean jacket all rolled up into a ball . . .and for three nights, that was my pillow!! It made a great pillow except for the metal rivets (or whatever you call those things!!)

We got up bright and early the next morning and the conference provided breakfast for us in our hotel. I actually ate instant oatmeal in my room that morning because I was running sort of late. (I know you don't care about that detail but I stuck it in anyway!) Our hotel was only about 10 or 15 minutes away from the church so we all piled into our rental van and drove over and registered. Thursday (the first day) was pre-institute and we attended two half day classes. They were very good and I feel like I really learned a lot. I will tell you that no matter how much padding you have on your behind . . .4 hours in a folding chair will just about kill you!! All of our meals were served in these giant white tents and they had meal service down to a fine art. Our first lunch was chick fil a box lunches and they were yummy (as chick fil a always is!) Look at that gorgeous Kansas sky. They were having really warm and sunny weather for October in Kansas. It was over 80 degrees!!

Right after lunch, I went to their lovely prayer chapel. I didn't take a picture because it was such a sacred space. There was someone already praying in the chapel and I didn't want to disturb her with my camera. Later I found out that she was praying for me during that same exact time. They arranged for church members to take turns in the chapel praying for the attendees. She was in there praying for me when I went in to pray for my family and some other concerns. This was my first God moment of the trip.
My second four hour session was in this room. It was a gorgeous light filled room with much more comfortable seats. The afternoon session was not as engaging as the morning session. It was good and informative but the speaker had a very soothing voice . . .and we had just eaten lunch. Understand?

They served Kansas City BBQ for dinner and I really loved the baked beans. They were a little different than our southern baked beans but delish. After dinner, we had a giant combined session with everyone and Adam Hamilton was the speaker. I couldn't get a clear picture of him and was disappointed. He is God's man. He planted this church about 20 years ago for the United Methodist Church. They met in a funeral home!! (hence, the name Church of the RESURRECTION!!) Their mission is to reach the unchurched and nominally churched and they are doing a great job for God. We've used lots of his literature in our John Wesley class and also in our young adult study. It was so neat seeing him in person after watching him on a DVD for so long. When we were walking to our van that night, Andy asked me, "Well, Lisa, what did you think?" I laughed and said, "I'm not going to say anything because I might embarass myself." I thought he was definitely as good in person. He is one of those preachers that can talk for 90 minutes and you don't realize how long he has been talking. I wonder how much time he spends in prayer each day?

After that session, we drove back to the hotel. Earlier in the day, I had seen a former choir director who is now in San Antonio, Texas. We met up in the lobby and spent an hour or so getting reacquainted and catching up on the news about our spouses and kids. That is one of the things that I love so much about the United Methodist Church - the connectional aspect. (more about that later).
The next day's format was a little different. We had more giant sessions - we listened to a futurist (which was amazing to me) and we heard one of the head honchos from Hallmark speak. Then we attended some break-out sessions. I went to one on prayer ministry (which I do at Trinity) and got some great ideas. They made all hand-outs and literature available on their website so that we could print it out when we got home. Drew and I also attended a workshop on making a good facilitator into a great facilitator. Both of those workshops (prayer and facilitator) are very applicable to what I do. I loved "hearing" that we are doing many things well and I also loved "hearing" about some areas where I can personally grow and also help ministry grow. We had boxed lunches for lunch - mine was a buffalo chicken wrap and they served Mexican food for dinner and it was different from our Alabama kind. It was sort of like pot roast cooked in Mexican spices. Good but different.
There were breaks between all of the sessions and I met an interesting lady - we were both standing outside soaking up some sunshine. She lives on a ranch so it was so interesting to talk with her. I asked her if she had children and all of a sudden, big tears started rolling down her face. One of her children died this last year - I don't know any of the details (I didn't ask - I just listened). I was blown away by God's grace that she was able to stand and chat about her ranch and Alabama and Arkansas . . .God gives us amazing strength, doesn't he?
Here are some pictures from around the church/conference. They have several spaces throughout their campus where you can sit down and pray. This was a beautiful spot.
This is another shot of the chapel where I attended my second session (the light filled room). There was light from the back of the room and light behind the cross and look in the top corner - there is light coming in from the ceiling.

This shot is for the girls at work. They have a gravel walkway and all along the walkway are wonderful picnic tables. We are always wanting to eat outside at work and would love to have one picnic table. I imagine their staff eats outside often (when it is not snowing!!)

There are waterfalls and green spaces all over their campus which is nice. You can't see it, but the prayer chapel is in that little jutted out space of the building toward the middle/right of the picture. The buildings and facilities remind me of a small junior college campus - not a normal church facility. You can see more of those blue skies!!!

A slightly different view.

This is one of my favorite parts of the trip. On the second day, we picked up our box lunches and started looking for a table. There were thousands of people there and we were trying to sit together if possible (always a good way to debrief and just chat). I saw a table over near the back wall of the tent with several seats available and headed that way. I walked up to the table and said, "may we sit with y'all?" The lady looked at me and said, "You are from Alabama, aren't you?" Well, we chatted and visited with our new friends from Oklahoma and within 10 minutes, realized a major connection. I know her sister, Jeannie, who lives in Rainbow City, Alabama - we've worked Emmaus walks together. Not only that, but her niece has been visiting Trinity UMC (my church) and I had just emailed with her the day before we left for Kansas City. I know I'm not doing a good job of describing the awe and wonder we both felt that day. It was truly a "God moment." One of her church members had a camera with them and whipped it out and took our picture. (not the best picture of me, but ignore that and remember it was a God moment).

Our trip to Church of the Resurrection was great! I hope that I get to go again some day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

happy birthday to lauren

Our sweet daughter-in-law (to be) celebrated her birthday last week. She and Glenn came home for the weekend and we were able to celebrate with her!! We went to eat at Macaroni Grill on Saturday night.Cute picture of Lauren and Glenn at the restaurant. They look so young and happy!! They are at the beginning of a wonderful journey together.

It is so exciting to have two "daughters" now. Aren't they beautiful? (I know! I know! I'm the mother and I shouldn't ask that question - forgive me?) I'm going to love having two girls in the family. I hope that Laura and Lauren become not only sister-in-laws but sisters!!
We went back to our house for cake and ice cream and presents. She is holding the cross that a local artist (Elizabeth Hubbard) made. Isn't it beautiful?

Aren't these boots so cute???? Green is her favorite color. Yes, those are Christmas boxes . . .their birthdays all are so close to Christmas . . .that birthday presents are always wrapped in Christmas boxes. All three of my "kids" have birthdays in November.

Lauren was getting ready to blow out her candles.
We also celebrated on Sunday at Mark's mom's house . . .so two cakes in one weekend!!

Happy birthday, Lauren!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New stuff :-)

I love - yes LOVE November. I love Thanksgiving. I love turkeys and pilgrims. I know that sounds crazy, but I do!!! Laura found this at a cute shop, the Spotted Zebra, in Trussville. His body and feathers are painted canvas! His legs are knotted rope and his feet are cut from wood (and they keep "knocking" on our front door!! I think he is so cute! I know that the green walls don't match the green comforter. We are going to get the walls painted - soon I hope! Remember when the mirror fell off the wall? We finally have almost all of the bathroom primed and ready to paint. I love the comforter. I've been looking for weeks and weeks and found this one yesterday at Bed Bath and Beyond.

I'm going to have the walls painted the green of this background color.

It's YOUR birthday . . .

Snugs came to live with us one year ago this week. Happy birthday to you!!!

"Feed um" ministry

Our Sunday School class (John Wesley at Trinity UMC) has participated in a ministry for many many years. As a matter of fact, I think we are their longest running supporters :-) Every Thursday at Children's Hospital, there is a support group for parents of kids with cancer. Volunteers feed that group each week. Our class feeds them on the first Thursday of every month. We used to cook the whole meal for them and would try to make the meal really special. The wonderful health department has put a stop to home-cooking though so now we have to order from a restaurant. Linda, Angela and I were the "feed um" team for this past Thursday. We ordered from Kairos Katering. Kairos Katering has an incredible story also. The chef was in prison and did a lot of cooking. When he got out, he was attending the church that meets in an old restaurant (Ollie's BBQ). He knew that the kitchen was still there and he asked if he could open a restaurant. So . . .a church meets in one part of the building and there is a restaurant in the other part. I took a picture of their sign for you to see that blue sky!!
Traffic was horrible on the UAB campus. University Hospital, Children's Hospital, Cooper Green (mercy) hospital and UAB (college) are all right together so you can imagine traffic during rush hour!!
To me, Children's Hospital is a beautiful facility.

They have little red wagons in the lobby. The wagons are actually for the children. The parents can pull the children through the hospital. Those wagons come in handy for transporting dinner also.

Isn't the facility lovely? There were volunteers all over the place setting up a forest of Christmas trees that will be decorated by local companies and organizations. From the moment I drive up in front of the hospital to unload each time, my life is put in perspective - quickly!! Everywhere you look are parents who are exhausted, children who are sick and hurting, doctors and nurses hurrying to the next patient. I've followed caringbridge sites for several children - some who are doing well and some who are now with Jesus. I "see" them on each face.

I took a picture of these fish because I wanted Mark to see them. There is a huge school of fish swimming right through the lobby.
I think Guy is the one who gave our ministry the name "feed um" . . .We feed them nourishing comfort food for the evening and Chaplain Paul "feeds" them with the love of Jesus.

Spiders and pumpkins ...Oh my!

Laura needed a "costume" to wear to work. I remembered seeing a spider shirt on another blog with curly ribbon legs and I told her about it. Of course, I couldn't remember where or whose blog . . .but I described it to Laura and she created her own. She went to Joann's and purchased her supplies and had everything cut out when I got in from Bible Study. I sewed the pieces onto her shirt and we used Fabric Tack to glue the eyes, mouth and hairbow and look - such a cute shirt. I didn't stabilize the back though and I seem to remember from years ago, that I was supposed to do that. I told Laura that I don't think we can wash it :-) Look at my messy work space. When the kids went away to college, I had time for my hobbies but for the last year, I've had no time - not even to organize.

This is my view from my table. My space is in our bonus room upstairs. Can you see the two deer on the left wall and the big fish straight ahead (sort of on the right). Those aren't mine. Really, they are not. They are Mark's. He caught that fish when I was pregnant so it is getting pretty old. Some day, when Laura marries and moves back out, I'm converting this room to nothing but my space. I can dream, can't I????

Thought I would combine all of this in one blog post since these pics were in the same folder. You know that I work on a church staff. One of the many benefits is the fact that the children trick or treat through our offices. This was a day or so before Halloween. This group was practicing!! Yes, that is what the teacher said. They were practicing!! I think that is so cute. I also think their pumpkin costumes are great! They are so easy also. I wonder if they make brown paper sacks in my size??

Aren't they cute???

Trick or treat?