Friday, December 31, 2021

the best of 2021


Happy New Year's Eve, friends! How will you be ringing in the new year tonight? Todd and I will be at home and in our pajamas with our dogs, which is our favorite way to celebrate. I don't know what we'll eat, but I have sparkling cider and a real bottle of champagne waiting on us in the fridge. 

I thought I'd share some highlights from this year that I would like to end this year with. To keep it from being too long, I'm picking one or two highlights per month.

The year started off with a bang for most of us politically, but aside from that, January rolled in nice and easy. We all had trust issues with 2021 when the year first began, and for good reason. I stayed home a lot, I read a lot, we enjoyed a lot of fires in our fireplace.

We had an epic snowstorm in February! It rarely snows like this where I live near Memphis, but we enjoyed the days it kept us at home. (Mostly. If I'm being completely honest, I'll confess that the more snow that fell, the more claustrophobic I became.) 

And I can't leave the month of February without mentioning our sweet Crash. He had two major surgeries this year beginning in February and I've never been so ready for someone to be back to normal.

The nurse sent us this the night he had to spend there in recovery. Poor pup! He's doing great now and I'm relieved it's all behind us.

We spent March celebrating birthdays! In this month, we celebrated Jonah and Noah turning eighteen, Graham turning twenty-two, my dad-in-love and my dad turning ninety.

My sister Debi was here to celebrate the boys! Look how we matched that night. These were the grandsons that were here for Dad's 90th, and the rest of the fam joined over a Zoom call, thanks to my awesome hubby for putting it all together and making it work so well.

Drew celebrated turning 21 in April and they had a bros' weekend in Nashville! 

We celebrated Jonah and Noah graduating by attending the senior banquet at church.

And I went on the first girl's getaway trip of the year with these beautiful friends and co-writers. We spent a long weekend(ish) in the mountains at Lynn's cabin and had the best time ever.

Our twin sons graduated from high school on Mother's day weekend in May and put me into the category of retired homeschool mom. I couldn't be more proud of them!

To celebrate, they left for the beach the next day with their friends and proceeded to each go once more before the summer ended. We also celebrated my mom-in-love's birthday.

June found us doing an escape room for Missy's birthday! We may not have escaped, but man did we have fun. 

I spent time at Dad's house visiting with my sister Terri and my brother Paul while they were here for the week.

And I went on girl's getaway trip number 2 with these sweet ladies and you'll notice it's the same group of co-writers, minus two. We spent a week in Destin and had the greatest time ever.

One week after returning home from the beach, Drew moved out and Jonah totaled my car.

The weekend after that, these ladies and I went to Nashville to celebrate birthdays and laughed ourselves silly. 

In August, we celebrated my mom's birthday by spending a day together in Memphis, and we did the same for my sister Trish in September.

In October, Todd and I celebrated 25 years of being married!

And we celebrated the "company Christmas dinner" finally almost a year later at Texas De Brazil with all these guys and Todd's parents. This was such a fun night!

November found Trish and I doing the lights for Dad's house again and I decorated our own home for Christmas early for the second year in a row. And for the second year in a row, I was sick on Thanksgiving, so I was glad to have this done!

And in December, it was all of the Christmas I could enjoy. Missy and I took our last girl's getaway trip of the year by going to Columbia for a concert and had a blast. 

There were Christmas concerts and magical reading by the light of the tree nights galore and I was pretty much in Heaven the entire month.

I chose to focus on the happy, but there were lots of moments in between that were sad and hard, like when I said goodbye to a chapter of my life and then another one right after that. (Graduation for the twins and Drew moving out on his own.) There were scary moments, like when Jonah totaled my car on the interstate in the pouring down rain, when he hit a puddle of water and hydroplaned going 60 MPH on the interstate. He stopped spinning and was facing oncoming traffic. I never want to have that kind of phone call again! 

I have friends who lost loved ones, we said goodbye to a beloved pet, we had moments of growth opportunities in our marriage, our sons made us laugh and shake our head in astonishment, we met new friends of theirs and walked them through hard times together, and we walked through scary things with various other extended family members. I can honestly say that I am closer to the Lord right now than I was when the year started and I can also say that the Lord healed me from anxiety. I do not say this lightly, my friends, I assure you, and I give Him the praise and glory for delivering me from that often debilitating mental torment. As I write this, it's been weeks (going on months) since I last suffered from an anxiety attack.

I picked a word for the upcoming year, which is something I haven't done in a long time, but I'm not quite ready to talk about it yet. I want to spend a day alone with Jesus talking to Him about it before I share it here in this space, but maybe in the next week or two, I'll share it here. To all of you who are new friends, know that I am so thankful for you! I have found a lifelong friend through this space and I hope to find more. I hope you continue to find Jesus here as you read about the fun and serious moments in my life. Thanks for encouraging me, thanks for leaving lots of comment love, thanks for being there for me and making me excited to come here everyday. Know that you are loved, appreciated and prayed for as I write here daily.

Thank you for reading my blog! I'll see you back here next week, friends. Love to all and Happy New Year!❤

Thursday, December 30, 2021

the books I read in December


This was definitely my favorite view of the whole Christmas season. It felt decadent to sit here by the light of the tree and read all the Christmas books I could get my hands on. I'm including a picture and link for each book. You can access the link by clicking on each picture and you'll be redirected to Amazon in a new window.

My first book was The Christmas Swap by Melody Carlson.

This was a great Hallmark-y book about two families that swap homes for the holidays—one family goes to Colorado and the other goes to Arizona. There's an incident with the owner of the Colorado home though and he gets stuck there for the duration of the family's stay. 

Next up was Dear Santa, by the queen of Christmas herself, Debbie Macomber. 

Nobody does a Christmas book quite like Debbie Macomber and this one does not disappoint. Without giving anything away, Lindy decides to go home for Christmas and is feeling a little sad and disappointed with her life. At her mom's urging, she starts reading the letters to Santa she wrote as a young girl and sees a pattern—for each request she made, Santa delivered. She decides to write another letter this particular year just to see what happens....

I never like to tell too much information on these bookish posts!

Next was Christmas Haven by Cindy Woodsmall. 

This was my first Amish Christmas book and I wasn't sure what to think for the first three quarters of it, but it took a turn and I ended up enjoying it, even though I may not read another one like this. This was about a man who leaves home with his younger sister to get her medical care and a safe place to deliver the baby she's due to have by Christmas. He leaves his Amish home for another Amish community in the Pennsylvania area and is pleasantly surprised that their way of living isn't as wrong as he was taught to think. 

Next was Christmas in Peachtree Bluff by Kristy Woodson Harvey.

I read all the Peachtree Bluff books this summer and loved them! They were my favorite until I read a series by another author that took over that spot, but I still love this author and the series this book is in. This is about a family on the coast of Georgia who are facing an impending hurricane. Each of the family members takes a chapter and describes what is going on at that present time, but it starts with them before Thanksgiving and ends at the new year. I always love books packed with family drama and this one didn't disappoint. I paid full price for both this book and Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber and they were both worth every penny.

Next up was Jingle Bell Jam by Pamela Kelley.

I love this author! Her books feel like coming home, her writing is familiar and cozy. She writes about family, friends, traditions and good food. All those are my favorite things, so you see why I love her so much. This book is about a man who is told by his doctor he needs to lose a little weight and exercise, so he starts a daily workout regimen with a physical therapist and personal trainer. He never expected to like her and for her to like him back...

This was a book in a series, but this is the only book I've read in the series so far. I think in her books, it really doesn't matter. 

Next up was In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren. 

(This one was a bit more rated R than I'm used to, but I still read it and enjoyed how it ended.) Maisie's "family" of long time friends of her parents go to the same cabin in Park City, Utah every year for Christmas and do all the same things each year. On the day they leave, December 26, an announcement is made regarding this beloved tradition and cabin and Maisie is reeling from the news all the way to the airport...but they never make it to the airport because they're in a wreck. When she wakes up, it's December 20 again and she'll relive that week three more times. (Groundhog Day, anyone?) Each time she starts back on December 20, she learns something new and changes her perspective and even challenges why they do certain traditions each year when nobody enjoys them. She even decides to take a chance and tells Andrew her true feelings about him since she was a teenager...she has nothing to lose, right? 

Finally, I read Winter in Ireland by Pamela Kelley.

Jen is a writer and she decides to spend a couple of months in Ireland doing some research for the book she is writing. She's staying with her friend's aunt and she has a son that she keeps trying to match her up with...will her diligence pay off? 

And finally, I finished this today!

And I absolutely include this in my list of books, because I read each day's entry all throughout and that is hours' worth of time. I like to read the Bible every year, because as much as I like to read and spend time on that hobby, I always have to make time for this most important book of all. I'm reading chronologically again in 2022 and I'm excited about starting over! 

I read total of eighty books in 2021 and I'm excited to read even more in 2022. My reading game changed when Todd bought me a Kindle over the summer and I started reading about twice as much as before because I didn't have to wait between books or for good lighting. I'm excited to see how much I read in 2022 with using only the Kindle. I'm hoping it will be even more! I set one goal for 2021 and that was to read more. I'm happy to say that I succeeded in that goal. 

For all the other books I read this year, you can go to these monthly posts listed below.




I'm not sure why I left off April and May.







Thanks for reading my blog, friends! If you want to find me on GoodReads, you can click here. Love to all! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Christmas Celebrations

Happy Tuesday, friends! I thought I'd share some Christmas pictures here for my own sake that never got posted yesterday. I don't know why I just didn't share them all then, but here goes.

Every year on Christmas eve, we go to our church's candlelight service, then to my dad's for Christmas with him, Sandy, our nephews and either their mom or dad, my step brother, and my sister Trish and her son. I remember doing this all of my life and always look forward to the night.

We always get Todd to take our pictures for us, because he knows how Trish and me like them. He does a good job and takes no less than forty every single time and I weed through. I did take one of my dad and stepmom as well, but I also promised her I wouldn't post it on the internet. I'm going to honor that and keep my promise.

We all came home after this, some of the guys left to go see a friend, and Todd and I watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I finished wrapping presents and got their candy for the stockings ready at the same time. I have zero pictures of us here that next morning, but after opening gifts, we watched Elf, then got dressed to leave for Mom's at 11:30. 

Thanks again to my hubby for these pictures. My favorite thing about this day is that Mom and Bill always invite Todd's parents to join us. How fortunate are we that our parents are such great friends? They even exchange gifts with one another and I just love their relationship. We eat lunch, we clean the kitchen, we open the gifts, we eat dessert, we visit, laugh, sometimes cry, and genuinely enjoy one another. This day always feels very sweet. Some years it's a little sadder because not all of us are together, but we certainly understand why we can't accomplish that. 

We left Mom's around four, then sat and rested for a bit before my dad, Sandy and Trish came over for appetizers for dinner. This is another tradition we love and it got started when the boys were little and wanted to show their grandparents what Santa brought for them. We've just continued on with it all these years, and I wouldn't change it for all the money in the world. After they left and everything was clean once again, we got changed into our pajamas and Todd watched a movie while I read my book and cuddled with Oakley. 

Thanks for reading my blog, friends! Love to all. ❤

Monday, December 27, 2021

life lately (happy birthday and merry everything)


Happy Monday, friends! More than that, happy birthday to my wonderful husband! I'm so glad his birthday is finally here so he can join me in being 45. Those thirteen days between us sometimes feel like thirteen years! At least in his eyes....I'm smiling as I write this because he loves to give me a hard time about the days of me being older.

I have never in my life been so grateful for this man. There's nobody on earth I'd rather cry with, laugh with, get angry with, be sappy with and do life with. Our wedding invitations said something along those lines—him being the one I laugh with, live for and love. You can look, but I assure you that you'll never find a better dad than this man. You'll never find a better husband who spoils his wife, not with material things that will soon pass away, but by doing sweet little everyday things that make my life easier. You'll never find a harder worker or one who walks with more integrity, either. I'm so glad I get to be his wife! The Lord always refines us through our marriage and I'm grateful to Him for all He has brought us through in our twenty six years of being together. He's probably not reading this, but just in case he is, happy birthday, honey! I love you so much and thank God for you.

He will occasionally smile for my pictures that I ask him for a handful times a year. ;) 

It's been a whirlwind of a few days. I'm going to start all the way back at last Wednesday, when I got to sing in the choir for a Keith and Kristyn Getty concert. It was such a fun night and I'm so glad I participated. I had my reservations about it at the last minute, being so close to Christmas and it being the week with ALL THE THINGS, but it was the most fun thing from the whole week. The music was outstanding and we were thoroughly entertained for over two hours.

I love my worship music ministry family and these gals are a blast to sing with. I feel very fortunate to be able to do this kind of thing and though it did add to a busy week, it was also such a blessing to all of us. The music was Irish, fun and glorifying to the Lord. If you ever get the chance to attend a Getty's concert for an Irish Christmas, jump at the chance. 

On Thursday I went out with Mom for a non-Christmas lunch (sushi!) and a couple of last minute errands. I'm not sure what we were thinking, but we had fun together as usual and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of being out a couple of days before Christmas. That's the last day I went to the grocery store, though, because you should have seen how long the line was that I stood in! Holy cow. 

I worked at the Christmas eve service that night at church and am glad I did that, because though we were supposed to attend the next night's service, we were unable to go.

Talk about a bird's eye view! It was cool to sit up high like this and see the whole room. I worked the computer to provide words for our worship pastor and praise team while they sang.

We weren't able to go the next day and our whole day changed because our cat of about seventeen years woke up very sick and we made the decision to have her put to sleep. She had kidney disease and wouldn't have been able to recover from it, due to her old age. Part of the day was spent trying to get her comfortable and finding a vet to get her into on Christmas eve. A customer of Todd's told him he would meet him at his office at 2:30, so that's when Todd took her. It was a sad day! We cannot stand to see animals suffer and even the vet told us we made the right decision.

Twinkles was the sweetest kitty and she lived a very long and full life. She was almost eighteen, believe it or not, and we got her from friends who moved years ago. It's always sad saying goodbye to a pet. 

We went to Dad's that night for dinner and Christmas with him and Sandy, and even in spite of a long and sad day, it was a sweet night together. Drew stayed home with us that night and then he left on Christmas morning after we opened presents. I walked him out and just cried watching him leave. It didn't seem right that he was leaving to go to his house and sleep all day so that he could go to work that night. Todd was upset as well and then Drew texted us something so sweet and we both just sat and cried together. It upset Drew to not be with us that day, but he was also glad to have been able to go to work and be with kids who had to stay in the hospital for Christmas. 

There were times in the day that were also fun and filled with laughter and we know we have so much to be thankful for. God has been so good to us, so very faithful to all of us and we never want to take that for granted. Somehow all those feelings just went together and the day ended up being really sweet. I think next year I'd love to do something different, just the six of us. I'm not sure if we'll be able to make that happen, but thankfully we have a few months to decide. 

Todd and I decided we liked the days better for Christmas when the boys were all at home and under our roof and the gifts were more fun. I know it'll change again someday, but for now, we liked it better the old way. 

Dad, Sandy and Trish came over that night for snacks, then I went to bed early. We were at church early on Sunday morning, then I came home alone for the whole day and watched movies. Todd and Graham stayed at church to help take down the Christmas from the worship center and surrounding areas, then I made us a simple dinner of a pizza and shrimp cocktail. (Don't ask, I know it's a weird combination.) Todd is re-watching all of the Matrix movies on HBO Max and while he did that, I listened to music and read my book, then I worked on blog stuff for the rest of the week. It was a nice night. I have no idea what the days of this week will look like, but I'll just take things as they come and do whatever needs to be done. 

How was your Christmas? I hope it was nice. I'm always a little sad on this day of the year, because I always hate to see the season end. But faster than I can snap my fingers, I'll be ready to take all this Christmas down from our house and get it tidy again before the new year. Do you do that?

I'd love to hear from you! Thank you for reading my blog, friends. I've missed the blogging world this week! Love to all. ❤

Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

  Hi, friends! As you can tell, I'm forcing myself to be here often, because my life needs to resume some sort of normalcy right now; th...