Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Day 17: Three gifts frosted

1.  White cake!! I'm an icing girl--give me a corner piece with a layer of frosting, border, and a big ol flower any time!
2.  Gramps' hair. My maternal grandmother has the most gorgeous head of naturally snow white hair of anyone I know.  It's been that way for as long as I can remember, and I've always thought it's beautiful with her pale, blue eyes. I'm already working on quite the crop of white hair, myself...I hope mine looks just like hers someday!
3.  Window panes...how can I NOT think of that classic song in conjunction with the word "frosted", THIS time if year?!  I love the song, and I do love frosted window panes, particularly when I'm seeing them from the INSIDE of a nice, cozy room.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Day 16: Three Gifts Bethlehem (unlikely)

1.  Scrap fabric...I keep most of mine, and for the most part, it lies in wait in a dark drawer, forgotten--until a need arises. Scraps, while small and seemingly insignificant; can be joined together to make beautiful, useful things.  From school projects, to make-shift barbie blankets, from appliqué embellishments to rag dolls.  Some of mine have even found their way to Ghana  resurrected from the depths of my sewing closet, given new life and purpose as quilts for Mercy Project rescued children.
2.  Potato Soup...it's meager ingredients cost less than $10 to feed our family of 4 (plus left-overs!), but it's warmth in our stomachs on a cold day (with nary a complaint from two occasional picky eaters) was worth it's weight in gold!
3.  Dirty Laundry...I don't mean the juicy kind!  These days, it seems like our clothes hamper is constantly overflowing.  No matter how many loads I do in a day, it' always fills back up at bath time.   It's maddening.  But it also reminds me how blessed we are to have  an abundance of clothes (enough, even to sustain my family through my sometimes less-than-brief laundry-duty vacation lapses.  It is also evidence of the gift of an active lifestyle.  Jason's and my gym dedication doubles our daily laundry contribution (and Jason's physical job often triples it!).  It also helps me realize what a blessing it is to own a washing machine...if I dread doing laundry this way, I can't IMAGINE what washing everything by hand would be like!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Day 6: Three Gifts Sweet

1.  Kisses from Berkley (pictured left)...my first niece just turned 10 months old, and gives the sweetest (and wettest) kisses EVER.  I received my first one this past weekend and it instantly melted my heart.

2.  Maylee's hands...my second niece is barely one month old, and has the sweetest, most delicate hands.  There is something amazing about tiny, perfectly formed fingers that don't yet know what they're capable of...

3.  Cotton Candy...random, I know.  But I LOVE it.  I feel a little guilty that it's the one thing I want if ever we find ourselves at a circus or arena-type venue.  Grown-ups aren't supposed to go for that kind of thing, right? At least now I have 2 kids, so I can buy it for them (wink, wink).  Mmmmmm..."Spun Sugar"...it sounds like the magical product of a fairy tale! 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Day 5: Three Gifts Silver

1.  A pretty,  bird ornament I found while the kids and I were decorating the tree last weekend.  I had completely forgotten all about it, until I flipped it over and read a little tag on the bottom..."To: Angela, From: Julie  Thanks for the knitting lessons--2012"...Yes, its only been one year, but I had forgotten all about it.  (And that I had helped teach Julie how to knit.)  And it was such a sweet surprise/reminder and totally made me smile)

2. Linings...I'm most always an optimist.  And spending time thinking of blessings--be they spiritual, material, or memorial reminds me daily what a blessing that is.  The ability to focus on the good (in spite of the bad) truly is a gift, and I believe a huge source of achieving contentment.

3.  New Friends..."Make new friends, and keep the old.  One is silver and the other, gold."  (Shout out to my former girl scouts)  I am blessed to have made (and kept) many friends in my life.  I'm amazed at the way that even at 33, God can still introduce "new" friends in my life, who very quickly can become invested and integral to my life.  While I have some extremely special "old" friends with whom deep ties and bonds of friendship have been forged, some of my closest friends are also "newbies" (who I have a feeling will be earning their "gold" status in due time)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Day 4: A Gift Circling, Crowning, Crafted...

1.  Circling: My wedding ring.  It encircles the third finger of my left hand, as a visual reminder that I am both taken and treasured.  I lost my original ring nearly 2 years ago (I had taken it off while I kneaded some dough, and it disappeared.  After turning the kitchen inside out (literally going through the trash can piece by piece and desperately digging through my fresh-baked pie with my fingers to no  avail), I started wearing a simple, silver ring on my wedding ring finger.  I've worn it for nearly 2 years (still hopeful that the original would turn up, and that it had not been taken by the repairman who was in our house the day it went missing).  It has filled the vacancy, but just isn't the same.

For the 11 years that I wore my original wedding ring, I glanced at it at least 20 times (probably more), daily.  Literally.  Especially when I was driving because my hands were right there at eye level. There was always something reassuring about its presence, and the sentiment that it represented.  It was symbolic of our love--and those who know me well know that I love me some symbolism.  (Not to imply that our love was lost with the ring...but it cut me deeply to LOSE the SYMBOL of our love)  It was beautiful.  It was the ring that Jason ate Corn Dog 7 every Friday for 24 consecutive weeks, so he could make payments for it during his lunch break as soon as he got paid (CD7 was next door to the jewelry store).  The ring he slipped on my finger on his 19th birthday when he asked me to marry him.  The ring he held, looking deep into my eyes, as he took vows to love, honor, and cherish me til death does us part.

In the two years since the loss, I have continued to look at my left hand throughout the day, every day.  (I guess it has become a habit of sorts)  Though the silver ring (which, incidentally, was a gift that Jason had given me back when we were dating, 15 years ago) filled the void on my wedding ring finger, each time I glanced at it I felt twinges of guilt and sorrow at the loss of "THE" ring. 

Jason has never yelled at me for being irresponsible by losing something both so valuable and irreplaceable.  (Maybe he thought I was punishing myself enough with all of my guilt-trip-inducing  ring finger-glancing?)  He knew how much it hurt me to have lost my ring.  (And I may have told him on more than one occasion how badly I wanted it back).

This year, just before Thanksgiving, Jason completely shocked me by telling me that he wanted to buy me a new ring.  We went to the store together and picked it out.  He was extremely sweet  and patient, and I was extremely...indecisive.  Finally, the sales lady got a curious gleam in her eye and said, "Hold on just a minute.  I think I have EXACTLY what you are looking for!"  She went into some secret, mysterious vault in the back of the store and procured the most beautiful ring I had ever seen.  It wasn't THE ring from June 10, 2000...but it WAS the most beautiful ring I had ever seen.  And it fit perfectly.  Jason saw the look on my face and pulled the trigger.  He kept it in his pocket until we got home.  There, he got down on one knee and asked with a sheepish grin, "Would you marry me again?".

That question meant as much to me as the token of his love that came with it.  After 13 years of better or worse, to know that he'd still want to do it all over again with me (literally) brought tears to my eyes.  (And for some reason, reminded me a little of one of my FAVORITE songs from Fiddler on the Roof) 13 years later, I am still taken (and treasured).  And I revel in that each and every time I look at my left hand (which I've already established, happens pretty often)

2.  Crowning:  Hats!  I love them for so many reasons (and I own more than a few).  They are perfect for hiding under when I'm feeling shy or anti-social.  They can be warm on a cold day, or provide shade from the sun.  They are excellent secret-keepers (they've yet to rat me out when what lies beneath them is a frightfully frizzy mop-of-a-bad-hair-day).  Not to mention they are cute, and exude confidence (when ironically, I usually wear them on the days that I'm feeling the most insecure).

3.  Crafted: I could put so many things under this category...but today, I'll say the giant picture frames my sweet husband made for me.  I LOVE the photos that are in them (and when I priced out close to identical frames at Michael's, even with 60% off, it was going to cost over $200!).  Jason took one look at them and told me, "I could make that"...and he did.  And they are perfect.  AND he hung them all.  (Have I mentioned how much I love this man!?)  I have absolutely no idea how to go about making a picture frame.  I THINK it involves a router and a miter saw (maybe?), but to be able to custom-craft them to the perfect dimensions and have the pictures nestle perfectly in them is an ART.  I'm so thankful to have such a talented husband who is always up for a good challenge!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Day 3: Three Gifts Shining

1.  Sunshine!  Today was the most BEAUTIFUL day.  The temperature was perfect.  And after a couple weeks of (greatly needed and appreciated, but still a little gloomy) rain, it was even more wonderful.

2.  Stainless Steel pots and pans...oh how I love them!!  I don't know exactly how long I've had mine, but no matter how many times I scorch cheese in the bottom of them, they always come clean and shine up like brand new.  Giving me a clean (*and shiny*) slate to embark on my next culinary endeavor.

3.  Those who do everything without grumbling or complaining.  Philippians 2:15 tells us that those who do all things in this manner will become blameless and pure children of God, without fault in a crooked generation.  They will shine like stars in this world.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Day 2: Three Gifts Bright...

1.  The light when I wake up.  Some mornings it's almost TOO bright.  Still, it's a startling reminder at the start of each new day that:
A) I've been given another day of life.
B) I am blessed with the gift of sight.
C) I was been blessed to have slept--thereby creating the contrast between the dark backs of my eyelids and the brightness of dawn/fluorescent bulbs.

2.  Highlighters.  I'll confess, I'm a serial highlighter.  I pay closer attention and retain more information when I read with an uncapped highlighter in my hand.  I love to go back and re-read books that I highlighted long ago.  Especially my Bible.  It's like a road-map of all of the verses that have carried me through my spiritual journey. 

3.  My kids.  Of course I'm gonna say that, because they are MY kids.  But they are bright.  Exceptionally so.  Norah has a natural artistic bent.  Eli has a gift with words, and has since he first started forming sentences.  Both are perceptive and creative.  Bright kids, I tell you. (And I think their futures will be pretty bright, too!)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Day 1: Three Gifts White...

1. The blank page on which I am typing this post...it has been more than 2 years since I've attempted to blog, and I missed it more than I realized.  After posting "3 Blessings" each day of November to Facebook this year, I  was overwhelmed with a sense of joy, peace, and contentment.  It felt amazing to be writing again, and even better, to have the focus of my thoughts to simply be thankfulness.  The old hymn holds true, "Count your many blessings-- name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."  I've always known that I am blessed beyond measure, but there is a difference in my attitude when I stop and actually NAME them, instead of simply taking for granted this charmed life that I live.  This blog is my attempt to keep up the game all year.  I plan to use the "Joy Dare Collection" from Ann Vosscamp as my inspiration for daily posts of thanksgiving, throughout the next year.  While I don't know if this blog will be read by anyone besides myself (which I'm ok with, because I think the exercise wont be any less effective if I "go it alone"), the potential accountability of having a few readers would be great (so if you're out there, feel free to call me out if I start slacking!). 

2.  Snow!  Sure, we don't see much of it in my neck of the woods, but I consider myself blessed to have witnessed it often enough to still appreciate the majesty and wonderment of it.  Our first married Christmas, Jason and I drove 19 hours (with his mom and grandmother) to Salida, Colorado to visit Jason's brother, Grant.  We arrived on Christmas Eve and to my great disappointment, there wasn't a flake of "the white stuff" to be seen anywhere, apart from that on the mountain peaks in the distance. However, we awoke the next morning (Christmas Day) to a fresh blanket of new-fallen snow!  I had never seen anything like it in all my life.  It was pristine.  No footprints, no mud.  Only smooth, flawless white.  My mother-in-law had written a message for me on the windows of her van "Look Angela, it Snowed!"  It was a magical, perfect "first married Christmas" memory.

We were blessed to enjoy many more snowy Colorado Christmases B.C. (before children), skiing and snowboarding at Crested Butte and Monarch, an epic snowball fight outside of the lodge, and playing on top of the frozen river.  Still, my all-time favorite "Snow Adventure" was in Bryan, Texas in February of 2011.  It involved MAYBE 3 inches of snow.  The kids were 3 and 5, and it was their first snow ever.  (Not to mention one of the only times in Jason's and my lives that we saw snow stick in our hometown.)  It wasn't the pure, white variety of powder, like I'd seen years before in Colorado, but it was beautiful in its own way.  It was the kind of snow that you could actually roll up like a carpet.  And roll it up we did--almost an entire front lawn's worth!  We built a grass-speckled family of snowmen with blueberry eyes and strawberry noses, and each one had it's own fabric scarf (in each of our favorite colors at the time).  We had so much fun playing in it (and eating chicken noodle soup afterward)  It is one of my happiest memories as a family of four, and I hope that Norah and Eli will remember it when they are grown.

3.   My wedding gown.  It may not be as fashionable today to do so, but I chose white.  I think the modern color options are gorgeous, but wearing a white dress was important to me.  I'm old-fashioned like that.  (And as fair as my skin was, it was the only chance I had at looking darker than my gown)  I felt regal and grown-up when I put it on...but also innocent, naive, and at 20 years and 6 months,  so. very. young.  God has faithfully blessed our marriage in the 13 years since that day, and I'm so thankful to still be spending my life beside the only man I've ever kissed.