Sunday, January 30, 2011

Happy New Year . . another year - wow!

I really can't believe that 2010 has passed and that we are in the second month of 2011. How could that possibly be? My daddy always said that the older you get, the faster time passes. I always thought that was so silly . . . but I'm beginning to understand it!!

We have hosted a Gumbo and goodies party for years and it has always been on the last Friday before Christmas . . .but I just couldn't get it together this year. I emailed our guest list sometime around Thanksgiving and said, "please mark your calendars . . .we are moving the party to New Year's Eve."

It was fun having something to look forward to though I must admit that I questioned my sanity that week. Our momma always took down the Christmas tree before the New Year arrived, so I had to have all the Christmas decorations down and packed away. I had some New Year's decorations and was able to "fancy them up" with some silver and gold tissue paper. I thought my centerpieces turned out very well.

See those funny 2011 glasses? I picked those up at Walmart!!

I found the snowflake tablecloth on clearance at target after Christmas! It was either 50% or 75% off. They had one large enough for my table so I snatched it up. I was also able to buy really cool pearlized (spell check just told me that this isn't a word - do you know what I mean by "pearlized"?) plates on sale also. I hate bargain shopping BUT I LOVE it when I happen upon a bargain!! (that must be a southern expression . . .happen upon a bargain!)

We were thrilled that many of our friends were able to come. Duane and Terrie always have a conflict on the Friday before Christmas but they were able to join us on New Year's Eve. Lynn was home from Texas and we were glad to visit with both Lynn and Brian.

Les and Susan and Bert and Butch - enjoying some conversation and either gumbo or soup. They are all smiling . . .maybe they were having a good time!

Mark enjoyed visiting with everyone . . .and in this picture he is with Laura and Allen.

Let's see . ..I spy Bonnie and Lynn and Alice in that crowd gathered around the appetizer table.

I love walking through our home hearing good conversation and seeing folks laughing and eating good food and having a good time with each other!!
The kitchen is always the gathering place! I don't know if it will ever happen or not, but because I love to entertain so much, I would love a giant kitchen with incredible appliances and a big island where folks could gather round. I can close my eyes and imagine just how lovely it would be!!
But you know what? Even without that giant kitchen, I love to entertain. I love being surrounded by friends and family.
What will I blog about next? I think I still have some pics on my camera . . .I'll have to upload and see . . .leaving for Camp Sumatanga for a staff retreat in just a few minutes . . .I'm going to take my camera but I think it is going to rain!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Alabama Emmaus Walk 379

Oh my goodness - I have pictures uploaded for several posts - Christmas and new year's eve . . but I am still so "full" from last week-end that I wanted to do a quick post. Way back . . .many years ago . . .I went on my Emmaus Walk - Walk 104 - Table of Ruth - at Camp Sumatanga in Gallant, AL (which is about an hour north of our house). You can't take pictures during and Emmaus week-end so I don't have any photos!! (actually-somewhere I do have a group photo from that week-end and also a picture that someone took of some of us in Hutto - they must not have known the rule!!) That one weekend changed my life for good. I grew up in church - I knew Jesus - but I didn't know about grace. Back then (I don't know about now), grace was not talked about very much in the Baptist church. I had been in the United Methodist church for several years as a young adult, young wife and young mother but I just didn't know the scope (not sure I will ever really understand the depth) of God's grace. I'm rambling - I know that! Our kids were in kindergarten when I went on my walk and I came home hoping and praying that Mark would attend a walk . . .he had no desire at that time. Peer pressure got to him though and he finally went on his walk when our kids were in middle school. He was always supportive of me and my desire to be involved and he always kept the kids and I would come home on a Sunday night and the house would be clean. . . but he just didn't want to go. I can say this now - his Emmaus week-end experience saved our marriage. He intended to go and then no one could bug him about going again. We have a few people in our church who are rather pushy about folks going (this is not a good thing!!). He didn't intend to meet God in a mighty way that week-end but he did. So . . .now Emmaus is something we do together. We don't have a lot of things in common. He's outside working in the yard right now (actually, I hear the blower - he's blowing out the basement) and I'm sitting here on the computer still in my nightgown. Emmaus (and our church and faith) is something we do together. Which I guess is the most important thing of all.

Last weekend, we were privileged and honored to be asked by Shawn Lipscomb and the Holy spirit to be involved in walk 379. She started preparing a year ago for this weekend. She asked me to give the study talk and she asked Mark to be in the prayer chapel. Oh my goodness - what a blessing to be with the ladies at the table of Esther for three days. What a blessing to spend 72 hours with God. What a blessing to be away from the computer and the phone and work obligations - all the worldly distractions - and spend 72 hours allowing God to be at work in me. I don't know how many times we have served on teams . . .but I do know that God is always saying, "Lisa - let's work on such and such this year." During an Emmaus week-end, I slow down and am quiet enough to hear him speak.

What an incredible week-end - how great for it to follow the wedding. Several folks thought I was nuts for planning those two week-ends back-to-back but I knew that God was calling. I felt it deep down inside.

The ladies at the table of Esther were amazing - we all clicked from the first moment we were together. The talks were great during the weekend and the chapel services were amazing. I am so thankful to be a part of such a wonderful Christian community!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

snow on Christmas day!!

We couldn't believe it - snow on Christmas day . . . in Alabama!! We have a great sled and we didn't even get it out!! I was so glad that Becky and Matt were with us - I think they enjoyed watching the snow fall!!

Harris Family Christmas

Christmas day is not complete until we cook our food and attend the big Harris family get-together. They all gather at either Mark's mom's house (this year!) or Aunt Mary's house for the huge Christmas dinner (turkey, dressing, a million sides and a billion desserts). When I was first dating Mark, they all went to his grandmother's little house in Homewood for this gathering and the next generation has continued on. I think that Nancy (Aunt Mary's daughter) and I might be the next generation!!Poor old Becky and Matt - wherever we are going, we just say, "get dressed - y'all are going, too!" They seem to at least enjoy the food! Here we are - the sistas - all dressed and ready to go.
Mark's mother went all out on the centerpieces this year - they were spectacular - long stemmed roses with tiny little green flowers at the bottom and some branches of cedar (maybe?) - they were a show-stopper!!

I was the obnoxious one with the camera . . .I want to record all of these events so that some day when I'm a really old lady, I can look back and remember!! Sally was talking (she is like me - we talk a lot!) and I caught her in mid sentence. She is talking with Beth (married to one of Mark and Sally's first cousins). There are twelve first cousins - Molly, Sally, Nancy, Bill H., Mark, George, Bill & Susie, Bur & Kim and Peggy and Bubba. Bill H. is a United Methodist pastor in Texas so it is rare for he and his family to be with us at Christmas. I can't remember the last time they were. Peggy and Bubba and their families don't come either - they used to when their mom was alive but haven't attended in many years. BUT everyone else comes!! There have been years when our number swelled into the 40's. This year was a more manageable number! Let's see - we had Molly and her husband, Roger and their daughter and her boyfriend (their son and his wife and two children weren't here this year). Then we had Sally. Nancy and her hubby and three girls were with us this year. George & Alice and Grace were in Clopton but Mark and I and Laura and Lauren and Glenn and Becky and Matt were all there!! You can see how the number quickly grows! It is actually kind of fun to see everyone that night. For years, we all exchanged small presents and when our kids were small, they received two or three nice gifts from one of the great uncles. Mark's momma has always given a gift to everyone also. But over the last two or three years we have stopped all that gift giving. One year we did bring toiletries and small items and we made boxes to be shipped to soldiers.

I didn't mean to go off on such a long tangent . . .sorry about that - here is a picture of two generations of "Susies" . . . Mark's momma was named after "Big Susie" - yes, that is what they called her. I think she was a long time family friend (I need to verify that with Mark!). I never met Big Susie but I do remember going to the estate sale with Mark when we were dating!
Sorry once again - I keep rambling. You can see the food line - oh my goodness - Mark's momma makes the best dressing (stuffing - not in the bird - in a 9 X 13 casserole dish - made with cornbread and chicken broth and celery and onions . . .yummy!).

I was wandering back through the den on the way to get in line and stopped to snap a few pics of plates . . .makes my mouth water just looking at the pictures. You can see that Mark's momma even makes centerpieces for the tables in the adjoining rooms.

Some years we've complained about the party . . .and some years it is a lot of hard work (when we are trying to decide what the "favor" is going to be - this year, it was these cute stockings and mittens that I found at cracker barrel last year after Christmas) . . .but the older I get, the more I realize that when this generation dies . . .if we allow it to happen, traditions like this will die. That would make me sad. Because to be honest, it is a really good tradition.

Did Santa show up?

Yes, indeed Santa showed up at the Elliott household. We were once again blessed to have Becky and Matt with us on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. I love having Becky and Matt here because they are my family. Mark's family is "my" family also and I love being with all of them but there is just something special about having a sister with you on Christmas morning. Becky and I have been close ever since our mother died . . .and we were forced to grow up in a hurry!I'm not sure what is in the gift that Matt is opening . . .we were all looking quite tired that morning and we had to get everyone up early enough to open our presents and whisk them away before everyone arrived for brunch.

You might notice that Glenn has on a sweatshirt . . .we turn our heat way down low at night (about 58 degrees - mainly because of allergies and because I'm a middle-aged woman!!) so it takes a little while for it to warm up in the mornings. Glenn is playing with a little toy from his stocking . . .yes, of course Santa still fills their stockings. Why wouldn't he???

Laura's favorite gift this year was a #2 Auburn football jersey from Glenn and Lauren. She immediately modeled it for us!! She looks pretty good for so early on a Christmas morning!!

Becky received a hummingbird feeder from Matt . . .Becky - have the hummingbirds found it yet?

This picture makes my heart sing (not because it is a great picture - it is not). I love these folks around this table. Glenn and Lauren and Laura (all recent Auburn grads) on the left and moving to the right would be Paul (you can't see him - he is a student at Clemson) and then Matt (just graduated from University of Texas in Austin). Next is Ben (he's a student at Vanderbilt) and Thomas (he is in high school in Delaware). I'm so proud of each one of them. We were missing Grace - they were in Clopton for Christmas this year. I know they are our relatives but I think they are such great young leaders!! This would be the "kids" table - I don't think they are kids anymore!!
They had all joined us for Christmas brunch. I made two different egg casseroles - one is a new recipe that is almost like a giant omelet on a crescent roll crust. We also had cheese grits and biscuits and fruit and juice. I don't like cooked hot breakfast when I first wake up in the morning but I love it later in the morning - especially when I'm surrounded by family!!

Yes - if you look closely, you can see the snow falling. It was snowing like crazy - how cool to experience that on Christmas morning!!

Tradition . . .Christmas Eve

I love tradition . . .maybe it is because I don't have any from my family . . .so I love the ones we have (most of them anyway) with Mark's family and the ones we have started. Pizza on Christmas Eve before the Christmas Eve Candlelight service at our church is a great tradition. We've been doing it since before children!! We all gather at my mother-in-law's house and we order pizzas from a place near her home. Now that we have so many young adults, it takes a lot of pizza!! We order "nice" pizzas on Christmas Eve - not just the kind that you can get anytime. We always order a Mona Lisa - yummy!! We usually have one with just pepperoni. We usually order a vegetarian which is also yummy! The food is yummy but the fellowship is even sweeter. I was able to snap a pic of Uncle Bob and Laura - Laura and Glenn were the first babies in the family and Uncle Bob now has three big ol' boys . . .he has always loved Laura and she knows it!!Lauren in now joining in our traditions . . .so good to have her as a part of the family.
ok - I "embarrassed" my kids by dragging the camera into the sanctuary. There is a "no flash photography during any service" rule at Trinity and we have always discussed how rude folks are when they take pictures . . .so I sneaked my camera in and I turned off the flash . . .and I held it quickly up in the air and got a pic of the Chrismon tree. You can see some of the youth choir members in the background and you can also see the big pipes for the pipe organ!!

This is one of my favorite moments of the year . . .Christmas has come. I love when we are singing "Silent Night Holy Night" and everyone raises their candle into the air. Some years I have been a communion server and so I see it from the front of the church but this year I was sitting surrounded by two rows and family and friends . . .ah . . .Christ is born. Christmas has come.

I walked up front after the service to snap a picture of baby Jesus. This is a Fontanini baby Jesus and the attention to detail is beautiful. I love how we have the lantern hanging by him - the light of the world.

Pizza and Holy Communion and family and friends . . .good Christmas Eve tradition!! Yes, it is!

Two become one . . .

ok - can you believe that I'm posting twice in one day? My oven is self-cleaning and I can't leave the house until it is finished . . .so I'm updating!!!!

What a wonderful wedding day! What a precious bride! This was my view upon entering the bride's dressing room. She took my breath away!! Once again, I had to snap a picture of our two beautiful girls together. My prayer is that they will grow closer and truly become "sisters" to each other.

Laura had a hair appointment for Saturday morning and Lauren didn't . . .and all the bridesmaids were able to convince Lauren to take Laura's appointment. The girl did a great job on her hair. It looked beautiful. I was so proud of Laura for giving up her appointment!! (and she did her own hair and it looked beautiful also!!)

Just wanted a side view of the pretty hair!!

Love those socks on the guys. You can see Jon Lunceford right in the middle - the only Alabama man among the crowd! I believe it pained Glenn to go buy those Alabama socks!!

We have so many amazing friends (and family members!). People offered to do so many things for us during the planning stages and during the actual wedding weekend. One friend brought dinner to our family on Thursday night before the weekend began. So thoughtful!! Three friends from the office and four relatives prepared food for the wedding party on the day of the wedding. I didn't know this until this week, but Lauren was never able to even see the table so I'm glad I took a picture of it!!! The food was yummy - sandwiches and chips and fruit and sweets. The table was lovely - I love lemons because they are so sunny and cheerful and yellow!! Thanks to all of you - I will write thank-you's eventually to each of you!! (probably should be doing that rather than updating the blog :-)

Here are my two men again - they look so handsome! I didn't realize that Glenn is taller than Mark!!

Now boys will be boys. I didn't know about boys - didn't have any brothers. But I have learned over the last 24 years. Boys are going to play - whether they are dressed up or not.

These pictures are all after the wedding. I just happened to still be sitting on that front row and so I was able to snap away . . .just no one is looking at me because they are looking at the photographer (which is how it should be!!). Don't they look happy? Aren't they just the cutest couple? (I know - they are my kids so I can say that!)

Funny thing happened - as Mark and I start down the aisle before the wedding - the wedding director says to Mark, "Mark - when you leave Lisa at her pew, kiss her - act like you love her." So we are walking down the aisle and Mark says to me, "I'm not kissing you in front of all these people." So . . . . we get to my pew and guess what I did? I just patted Mark on the butt in front of God and all those people. Hee hee! I couldn't help it!! It just happened, I promise! Several people asked me about it afterwards. Did you mean to pat Mark on the butt? Yes sir - yessirree I did!! I'm still chuckling.
After Lauren's brother escorted her down the aisle and was seated, Wade started talking to Lauren and Glenn and he said that he had stood at that altar just a few years ago and he talked about how he couldn't remember much about the day. So he said to them, "If you can only remember one thing about today, I want you to remember this. Turn around and look at the congregation. (which they did) These people are here because they love you and want to celebrate with you. Soak it in." Isn't that wonderful? I told you that Wade is such a good preacher. He made the ceremony so personal and talked directly to them. I wish I had a transcript because I can't remember much of what he said.

The reception was wonderful. It was at Park Lane and the decorations were lovely - the food was delicious, the wine was yummy. But once again - it comes back to relationships. Our friends were there - surrounding our entire family on this day. Oh - we felt so loved. We had so much fun. We made some new memories. And this middle-aged mom watched her baby boy drive off to begin his honeymoon. (not going there in my head!!) Oh - I just want to relive those memories over and over for just a little longer!! What a special weekend!! What a special couple! What an awesome God we serve!!

The oven has finished . . .so no more excuses. I have to get out of these pj's at 10:30!!!

What fun!!

Oh my goodness - I finally have a few moments to sit down and start updating my blog. I'm so far behind!! We've been living life to its fullest and it has been wonderful but I must admit that it feels good to be sitting with my feet propped up at 9:12 a.m. . . . .still in my pj's. Yes, I have things to do but . . .hee hee!

Ok - here we go with more wedding stuff. I'm sorry if it is boring but I am trying to write down stuff so I don't forget. I would love to include a million more pics but that just takes way too long!!

So . . .on to the rehearsal. It was time to go and all of a sudden, I remembered that Laura was supposed to make a bouquet for the rehearsal from all of the left over bows . . .so I ran to the basement and grabbed the bag of bows, the scotch tape and the stapler and a paper plate. Amazing what we were able to throw together in just a few moments!! I thought it was lovely (but that could be because I thought everything was lovely that weekend!!)
I took this picture as we were waiting for everyone to arrive - John Carl, Glenn, Jerel, Laura and Kaylor. I had the sweetest sense of joyful anticipation (thanks for that word, Holley!) as we gathered in our church - the place where my children have encountered Jesus, the place where I have experienced awesome moments of worship, the place that is so special to our family, the same altar area, the same church where Mark and I were married almost 27 years ago.

Glenn found a great gift for the groomsmen. Levi is opening his gift. . .blue and orange argyle socks. I never dreamed it would be so hard to locate these socks. Glenn finally found them on some golf site on the Internet and they arrived just days before the rehearsal. Glenn had not planned to wrap them - he said, "I'll just hand them to the guys." (doesn't that sound just like a man??). I did purchase blue gift bags and orange tissue and we did at least use those.

Everyone was laughing and having a good time. We enjoyed hanging out with all of Glenn's friends. The evening just felt "so right." Good friends gathering in God's house - a young couple with Christ as the center of their soon-to-be marriage - WOW!

I always wanted four children. That was the plan I TOLD God. Then we were blessed with twins and they told us our chances of conceiving twins again were about 75-80% . . .and so we stopped. But now that Lauren is in the family, I have three children!! (when God sends Mr. Right to Laura and she gets married, I will have FOUR - wonder if that was God's plan along??) I know that I'm partial and I know this is tacky, but aren't they beautiful???

Glenn and Kaylor (Mark always calls Kaylor "my good son" - been a joke for a long time). I was trying to remember how long these boys have been best friends. I know that it has been a long time. They have experienced many things together. I hope they will always remain good friends.
We were still waiting on folks to arrive so I grabbed a few snapshots - here are the beautiful girls. There is such joy and such "freshness" on their faces. Sweet girls and I'm so thankful that Lauren has surrounded herself with good Christian friends.

Look at those guy's face -- the instructions had begun. The guys were listening intently (right?) to instructions from either the wedding director (Shelley - she was great!) or Wade (the preacher).

Shelley was lining up the girls . ..

I love these two men - my son and my hubby. I thank God for them each and every day!!

Shelley lined up the boys in the picture - long time friends and college roommates - memories among that group!!

Once again, this is just practice but I love the fact that they are kneeling before God. Wade was kneeling on the other side. I love Wade - have I told you that? He is a man of God - preaching God's word - doing God's business here on earth . . .and I claim him as mine, too!! (and he claims me :-)

This was so cute in the rehearsal and brought lots of chuckles during the wedding. How fitting and appropriate that the last two groomsmen would escort Laura!! Makes my heart smile and as I said, "I thought everything was lovely" and this was like a marshmallow on top - all good!
I don't have a picture of one of my favorite parts of the rehearsal. Last year, I ran into an old friend in Walmart and she told me how she and the groom's father had layed (laid - spell check won't recognize either so I'm sure I'm not saying this right) hands on the couple and prayed for them and I thought to myself, "I want to do that when our kids get married." Well, I forgot all about it until I was sitting on that front pew watching the rehearsal and I thought, "shoot - I forgot about that and now it is too late." I can just imagine God chuckling at this point. All of the attendants and the musicians ran through everything a couple of times and then Wade (I told you I love him!!) said, "Before we leave for the rehearsal dinner, we have one more thing I want to do. Glenn and Lauren, could you come and kneel at the altar. I want to pray with you. Mark and Lisa - could you come and lay hands on them? The rest of the wedding party - come on up." Oh my goodness - my heart was singing. Glenn and Lauren knelt at the altar rail where we have participated in holy communion a million times over the years. Wade knelt on the other side of the altar rail. Mark and Laura and I and Bradley (Lauren's brother) and Ann (Lauren's mother) were right behind them and then all those young adults circled around and Wade prayed a wonderful prayer. I have no idea what he said but it was wonderful. Several folks asked me if I cried and my reply was, "I was so caught up in the moment and in the holiness of it that I was filled with joy - no tears." Oh my - I wanted to make sure to write this in my blog so that I WILL NEVER FORGET. It was truly a priceless moment - a snapshot into our lives and our priorities. Thank you, God, for a wonderful and "lovely" and fun time!! Just call me a middle-aged mom with a heart full to overflowing!!