Archive for December, 2008

Anybody Game?

REMINDER: Tomorrow (January 1st) I’ll put up our first post for our first Scripture so don’t forget to get your spiral index cards today if you don’t already have them!! I’m very proud of you, Siestas! And so honored to be your servant. May Christ be greatly exalted and His Word be our double edged Sword!

UPDATE: Siestas, it’s 7:15 PM and we are already well over 500 strong! I am astounded. I have to tell you something. It’s not that terribly often that I just outright feel the unabashed pleasure of God. I certainly feel His love and approval but that’s not what I’m talking about right now. I’m talking about that glorious sense that God is really smiling over something. Maybe even laughing. When He’s really happy about a thing. Much of the time either life, busy-ness, self-condemnation or just plain sin gets in the way. But, Girlfriends, I feel it right this second. HE IS PLEASED WITH THIS. Sit back, take a second and feel His good pleasure. He LOVES this idea. And I guess you know what that means: it was His idea to start with. Which means He’ll also empower it. One last thing. A few of you commented that you want to become a Siesta in 2009. I’m so sorry that it sounds like some kind of club you have to join. Listen, if you are a girl and you are a Christian, you are a Siesta. Way back when we first began the blog, I was trying to call the women on here “sistas” (sisters) and spell check corrected it to Siestas and it stuck. Everybody’s welcome. It’s just an endearment for sister. You’re already loved and welcomed here!

Original Post:

Hey, Siestas? Anybody want to memorize some Scripture together this year? A few days ago my devotional was on making preparations for a visitation from God. It was based on the Old Testament Israelites preparing (actually RE-pairing) the Temple under the reign of King Josiah after the serious neglect of previous generations and restoring it to a place where God would want to dwell. It made me think that if I really want a Jesus-year – and I do – that there are several things I could do to prepare for it. This is one of them.

Scripture memorization has been among the most profoundly effective disciplines of the faith that God has ever given me to practice. Honestly, I think I would’ve lost my mind by now if He had not pasted His Word all over it. Every personal battle we face is won or lost on the playing field of our mind. I’m deeply serious when I tell you that I have some ongoing areas of relational challenge that would absolutely overtake my thought life with anxiety, fear, resentment and bitterness if I didn’t grab my index cards at critical moments and start saying my Scriptures. I did it as recently as yesterday when, concerning a particular situation, I thought to myself, “I cannot take this again.” It calmed me and kept me from acting like I felt. And then I slowly felt better. Scripture memory has long since been a necessity for victory for me. My mind is very prone to obsessive thoughts. I’ve never broken a single stronghold without deliberatly repeating Scriptures more times than my mind could repeat a destructive or unhealthy thought. The Truth finally trumps the lie or comforts the hurt. God prevails and I get the victory. This is the essence of 2 Cor. 10:3-5.

SO, yesterday I was thinking to myself that if I really wanted a Jesus-year, I needed a fresh commitment and plan for Scripture memory for 2009 then wondered to myself who might partner with me. I’ve practiced the discipline for years by myself but the times I’ve been most victorious and consistent with it have been those times when I enlisted accountability. So, who could I get to be my partner, I wondered? Then the thought just popped into my head: SIESTAS! After all, what on earth is a Siesta for if not to stir you up to love and good works and all the more as the Day is drawing near (Heb. 10:24,25)?

SO, anybody want to do this with me? Let me say quickly that there’s no pressure to sign up or condemnation here if you don’t. Many of you have your own accountability groups for various Spiritual disciplines and that’s fantastic. Face-to-face is best of all. Others are up to their eyebrows in commitments already. I certainly do understand that! I’m just making the offer to anybody who wants to. Don’t just do it because you need to. Do it because you want to. We will never sustain a practice based solely on what we need. At the end of the day, each one of us does what we want to.

Don’t worry. This won’t take over the blog or make you feel left out if you don’t sign up. It will just be an additional thing among many that we’re doing on here. That said, here’s what I have in mind so that you can think it over. We’re going to make this really doable.

*Commit to memorize (or seriously meditate on) 2 Scriptures a month. See? Very, very doable! Doesn’t seem like much at first but imagine that, in exactly one year, you’ll have memorized 24 new Scriptures! That, my dear sister, is a feat. The reason why I threw in the parenthetical “or seriously meditate on” part is this: a number of people have told me through the years – especially those in their 50s, 60s, and 70s or those of any age with chronic ADD – that they just can’t memorize. OK, so meditate! Listen, the whole purpose of the process is to take our minds captive to the knowledge of Christ and demolish strongholds or nip potential ones in the proverbial bud. As long as those Scriptures are rolling around in your head, your mind is being held captive to Christ-centered thoughts and led away from destructive or carnal thoughts whether or not you’re getting the words in the exact right order. At least three huge things happen when we memorize: our brains are bathed. Our brains are sharpened. Our ammunition is loaded.

*Sign up on this post with your name and the city where you live. Really give it some serious thought before you jump on here and sign right up. Let’s pull together a group that makes it all the way to next December! Do you really want to do this all year long? Will you commit to hang with it? Then sign up, you darlin’ thing!

*Watch for posts on the 1st and 15th of every month where I’ll ask you to turn in the Scripture you’re feeling led to memorize. (You’ll write it all the way out in the version of your choice and put the reference with it because one of your Siestas might read it and want to memorize it next.) This is an important part of our process! We’re NOT going to memorize the same Scriptures. I’ve learned through the years that we have the most victory with the verses that we each need most. Ask God to give you what He wants to prioritize for you this year then listen carefully through your quiet times, your Bible studies and your pastor’s sermons for verses that really resonate with you or that you know you really need. He’ll highlight one of those in your heart. Choose it with confidence. You’ll most easily memorize what means most to you.

*Buy a brand new set of index cards with a spiral that is only for this Scripture memory plan. (Most grocery stores and pharmacies have them. Easy to find.) You’ll need to have it by New Year’s Day so that you can write your first verse in it. Keep it with you A LOT. The car is a really great place to practice your Scriptures. Also be sure to get them out and say them every time you’re feeling tempted to obsessive thoughts. You will be amazed at the impact God’s Word will have on your thoughts. This right here, Girlfriends, is how we learn to wield the Sword of the Spirit.

*Watch your prayer life change. Check out John 15:7-8. The more God’s Word abides in us, the more the mind of Christ is developed in us. The end result will be that we will pray more and more of God’s will and get more and more of what we’ve asked. Do not think for a moment that praying in the will of God narrows your requests. It blows them wide open! Ask Him in this Jesus-year to explode your effectiveness in prayer then watch it happen.

*Have fun with it! Scripture memory is some work but it’s also really fun. Especially if we do it together!! Anybody game?

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Merry Christmas, You Merry Siestas!

Merry Christmas, Dear Sisters! We hope you’ve had a marvelously blessed day. What greater cause for celebration could we have? The Word became flesh and pitched His tabernacle among us so that we could behold His glory, the glory of the One and Only full of grace and truth! Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King!

I dearly love Christmas. I’m dog-tired but so happy. The company’s all gone (at least for a few hours) and I’m taking a break for a few minutes. I’m sitting on the floor in our computer room because we had to use our desk chairs for all our company to be able to eat at a table and we haven’t moved them back upstairs yet. My day started early. I crawled out of bed at 6:00 AM after a late night as Claus. Thankfully everybody slept for another hour and I had some time to myself. A few minutes to get on the floor before the Lord, to read too-fast-a-devotional, and drink a strong cup of coffee with just the right amount of cream. Before long Keith rolled out of bed then Melissa. She is like a 5 year-old at Christmas. She makes it so much fun. She loves seeing all heaps of presents and trying to guess what she’s getting and trying to get you to guess what she’s giving. It was a treat to see that mighty cute Colin Fitzpatrick coming down the stairs this morning. Our family loves him so much and we’ve even adjusted to him and Melissa sleeping in the same room. (Always a tad awkward at first.)

We wanted Amanda, Curtis, and our best boy, Jackson, to get to have the time they needed for Santa at home so we put off opening presents till later in the morning after they arrived. Melissa made a fantastic egg casserole that we pulled out of the oven about the time they walked through the door. We ate a quick breakfast and gathered in the den. It was Amanda’s time to read the Christmas story. She was so beautiful sitting there with that darling tummy. She doesn’t feel very darling but she is. (We’re only 7 weeks out, by the way!) I was sure Jackson would turn into a pumpkin (wrong holiday) before we could get through the Scriptures but he did so well. Keith prayed over us then the mania began. We love to see each other open presents so it takes forever because we keep stopping to look what someone got.

Jackson is at the ultimate age for Christmas. A total blast. He got an entire dealership of cars and trucks. That’s all in the world he loves. Anything on wheels. If I ever end up in a wheel chair when I’m on up in years, I hope he’s still taken with them. His baby sister got so many things for her nursery. It’s going to be adorable! We can hardly wait for her to get here.

I really scored on Colin and Curtis’s presents. I got them remote control helicopters (really complicated ones with an instructional video by some dude that had the personality of a rocket scientist) and they spent the next two or three hours on them. Keith was so bitter I didn’t get him one. Blast. Why didn’t I think of that?

After we dug ourselves out from under six feet of wrapping paper, the family began straightening things up and setting tables and I started cooking like a wild woman. I’ve got to tell you, Siestas, I had the cooking anointing this year. I’m not even kidding. It was everything I could do not to stop every few bites and say, “Is this incredible or what?” (Actually, I first wrote that I wanted to stop every few bites and say, “I totally rock!” but I thought you’d think that sounded a tad boastful. So I didn’t write it. But now I have. You’ve got to give me this one cooking moment. Just one.) My cornbread dressing was killer. My mom would have had a fit. My broccoli and rice casserole was terrific, too, but I made enough for 68 people. It’s what we at our house call a “Moore-der.” (An “order” Moore-style.) If a little is good, a ton is better. I also could feed a football team the rest of my green bean casserole (they’d better eat it after a game, however) and I have two pies that weren’t even touched. (I know what you’re thinking. It wasn’t because they weren’t good. It’s because I made a Texas sheet cake and two other pies and cranberry oatmeal cookies. See what I’m saying? A Moore-der.)

I bet Colin and I peeled 14 potatoes to mash (I make really great mashed potatoes and gravy). I kept saying, “We’d better do just one more.” His eyes just kept getting bigger and bigger. How in heaven’s name are you supposed to gage how much food thirteen people will eat anyway? And two of Keith’s nephews are in college. Have you watched a college boy eat lately? It’s violent.

Colin and Melissa could only stay for a little while after we sat down to eat so that they could head to his house only a few subdivisions from here. She had a temperature when she left so I bet by the time she gets back late tonight, I have a sick girl on my hands. I got Strep throat the week of Converge and then got a chest cold then Amanda caught the cold and now Melissa’s got it. We’re usually a healthy bunch. I don’t know what’s gotten into us. I think it may be because one day it’s 35 degrees here in Houston and the next it’s 80. I had the heater on yesterday and I have the air conditioner on today. Star can’t decide whether to grow more hair or shed it. This climate is preposterous.

Oh, I forgot to tell you that Melissa left her laptop on the side of the stairs last night and while Keith and I were being Mr. and Mrs. Claus and hauling presents downstairs, he stepped on it. (We usually take the chimney but we were afraid Star and Geli would try to leap in behind us and it would take forever to get the soot off their fur.) You should see the laptop. I guess you know what she’s getting for a post-Christmas gift.

OK, I realize this post is really random but, among a dozen other things, Star keeps dropping her favorite ball right beside me so I’ll play fetch with her and I have to stop typing every couple of minutes and throw it. And boy is it spitty. I keep trying to throw the thing at an angle where it will bounce downstairs so she’ll take longer to get it but she’s the fastest thing on four legs.

The last random thing I’m going to tell you is that I got Keith one of those massagers you put in a chair and sit against and it does all sorts of fancy things to your neck, back and shoulders. It heats up and everything. I think he’s about to sit in it and I want to beat him to it so I’m going to have to go. You know how you tend to get people things you want for yourself?

Uh-oh. I hear Keith downstairs singing “Ebony and Ivory.” I bet anything he’s in that danged chair. Something’s chilled that boy out.

Merry Christmas, Siestas. I pray Jesus all over every single one of you this coming year. I want me a Jesus year. That’s what I want for Christmas.

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Gingerbread and Jughead

This was the scene in my kitchen last Friday. It was baking day. Think it looks bad? You should have seen me. I had fourth day hair. Jackson looked a little homeless too.

Pillsbury wanted to bless my little heart this year and provide my grocery store with huge tubes of refrigerated gingerbread dough. Someone give Him some praise. I’m the worst baker of all time and this was even easy enough for me to use. So Jacks and I made some little gingerbread men together. Here they are, iced and ready to be sprinkled.

Oops, Mommy didn’t realize that the Mister wouldn’t know how to shake the bottle. He just turned it upside down over the one cookie and let the sprinkles pour out. Why I was not hovering over him at that moment baffles me. I was watching from several feet away as half the bottle landed on one little cookie. Also? Those little round ball sprinkles? They roll off the table and bounce all around the kitchen. Then they stick to your feet and travel onto other surfaces. Like rugs. Bad, bad sprinkles.

Trying to redistribute them a little.

Who needs a napkin when it comes to sprinkles and icing?

Our cookies got the Jackson Jones stamp of approval.

The fruit of our labor – gingerbread men and butterscotch haystacks.

A closer look at our cookies. Not the cutest ever, but they taste so good!

This is the lovely gingerbread house I bought in early November for Jackson and me to make together. I never could get up the nerve to attempt this project with him though. Somehow I just knew it would be too much for Pregnant Girl and Toddler Boy. So I made it by myself last week.

Jackson was thrilled when he saw it. Although it was torturous for him not to be able to eat the candy. Thankfully, I had enough foresight to save him a few of the gumdrops and Spree.

This is what our gingerbread house looked like when we got home from Second Baptist’s “Kids’ Crazy Christmas” show on Friday night. Hmmm, had there been a tornado in my home?

Termites maybe?

Would anyone like a naughty golden retriever for Christmas? Come on, it will get you in the mood to see “Marley and Me” on Christmas day! I knew better than to leave that tray of cookies out on the counter, so I hid it in the oven when we left. I never would have guessed that Jughead the Big White Beast would go for the house. Seriously. Who does that?

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Christmas Tour of the Office

BooMamaChristmasTour

We’re joining BooMama’s Christmas Tour of Homes on the very last day! I think she’s closing the links down any minute. If you’d like to take a peek at tons of beautifully decorated homes, hop on over to her site and visit some of the blogs listed. You’ll find lots of Siestas on there.

Welcome to LPM! Here’s the front view of our office, which used to be a home. Hopefully that qualifies us for the tour of homes.

Front doors

Entryway

Our beautiful tree

The boardroom and our banqueting table. I love the chairs.

Fireplace

Each of us has a stocking hung on the mantle.

A little tree in Diane’s office

Another one in Evangeline’s office

The water cooler in the resource room

Did you know that our resource department is named after the wonderful Mary Helen Davis? LPM would not exist as it does today if it weren’t for this wonderful lady and her tape recorder. She used it to record Beth’s Sunday school lessons for years. We love you, Mrs. Mary Helen!

Jingle bell tree

Some little angels

This is not really a Christmas decoration, but we bought it at a Christmas market last month. I LOVE it!

We have several of these for all the fun cards we receive.

A fresh wreath

Outside on a staircase

The fireplace in our ministry director’s office

Some bling on Beth’s desk

The fireplace in her office

Merry Christmas from Beth and Starsy!

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Luke 1:45

“Blessed is she who believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:45

Believe Him.

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We Converged!

I want to take a minute and thank all of you who were with us for Converge last Thursday night at the Berry Center. We’re so glad you were there! In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, we were joined by special guests CeCe Winans and Travis Cottrell and his praise team for a night of worship and the Word. It was a wonderful evening and we were so blessed by you! Curtis was our emcee and at one point he asked the people who had never been to an LPM event (like Tuesday night Bible study) to raise their hands. We were thrilled by how many there were. It looked like half to me, but I could be wrong. What a great joy to be able to serve all of you in Jesus’ name!

I’ve had so many sweet friends share with me what the Lord spoke to them that night through Beth’s message. Ladies, isn’t it awesome that we have a God who is active in our lives? Not just when we get to heaven, but NOW? We’re believing Him to work in every person’s life who attended and we’re already praising Him for those testimonies.

A lot of my friends mentioned how neat the stage, lighting and video production were. We contracted some friends from Beth’s Living Proof Live Events (which are done through LifeWay) to help us out with that. They do such an excellent job! It occurred to me that a lot of our girls in Houston have never attended a Living Proof Live event, and that’s totally understandable because we get to study the Word together all the time here at home. But if you really enjoyed the energy and the quality of production of the event – not to mention Travis Cottrell and his awesome praise team – you should look into coming to a Living Proof Live conference in 2009. The conferences are like three sessions of what we did at Converge. Here is a link to the schedule. Our Houston girls will be closest to the El Paso and New Orleans events.

I’d also like our Houston girls to know that a new song from Travis’ Christmas CD has just been added to KSBJ’s Christmas rotation. The song is “Ring the Bells.” It’s one of my favorites. So if you call in and request it, they’ll be able to play it now. If you hear it and love it (which you will!), stop by Travis’ blog and let him know!

We hope many of you will join us this Spring for our Inheritance Bible Study at Houston’s First Baptist Church. We get started on Tuesday, January 13. For more information, visit our Houston Connection page. See you then!

P.S. We’re considering producing a product from the Converge event, but if we decide to do that it will be several months before it will be available for purchase. Thanks so much for your patience!

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Maybe Something A Little Refreshing

Hey, Darling Things! I am sitting at the gate at the small airport in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, about to take a long way back to Houston. I’ve been at a wedding (I first wrote “weeding.” I reckon a wedding can be a weeding indeed) all weekend and something kinda cool happened that I thought might encourage a soul that’s feeling cynical. The wedding rehearsal took place first thing Saturday morning rather than Friday night perhaps to leave time for several out of town guests involved in the ceremony to arrive. We were told that the breakfast buffet in our hotel was still open after the rehearsal and, typically, I was starving so I headed that direction fully prepared to eat by myself. I don’t mind that. Instead, and as only God could have planned it, five of us from the wedding party wandered in there at the same time, pulled up chairs at the same table, and ended up being almost the only ones in the whole restaurant. Not all of us at the table knew one another personally. We’d come to take part in the wedding ceremony of dear mutual friends.

Dr. Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Dr. Jim Dobson (my friend, Shirley, would join us a bit later), Heather Olford (the late Dr. Stephen Olford’s wife), and I tarried, laughed and mused over scrambled eggs and lukewarm coffee for a delightfully long time. (Dr. LaHaye was officiating over the ceremony and Dr. Dobson and I were each speaking. Heather is considered among those very dearest to the bride.) Our conversations took us to family, church, and the Savior we all have in common. Dr. Dobson (I cannot bring myself to call him “Jim” although I’ve known him for a number of years now. I can live with Doc so that’s how I refer to him when I’m feeling casual) told us a wonderful story about his dad, a traveling evangelist, who was at the pinnacle of an exploding speaking ministry when his wife told him she could use some help with their son who’d begun to give her a few challenges. (That would be Doc.) He dropped what he was doing, cancelled his calendar indefinitely, and headed home. Although he served a local church faithfully the rest of his life, he never recaptured the momentum of the ministry he’d had. He’d sacrificed it, providentially, for his wife and son.

Dr. Dobson later read a letter to us that his dad had written his bride for their wedding day. In it he expressed that, with eyes wide open, he was binding himself to her in covenant before God for the rest of their lives and that, should their marriage ever call for mental anguish, he would remain her faithful husband throughout. He explained that he considered the success of their marriage to be a husband’s responsibility and he would do everything he could to make her happy. And he did. As I listened to Dr. Dobson tell stories about his dad, I thought – No wonder he does what he does.

At that same table, Dr. LaHaye began to talk about end time events and I had to keep my chin from dropping to the floor. I thought, “I’m listening to all this from the prophecy man himself.” I mean, this is the guy that wrote how many books in the Left Behind series with Jerry Jenkins? And here’s the important part: he sat at that table of five and spoke of the signs of the times and the coming King with a twinkle in his eye and, I don’t doubt, a race in his pulse. Not one hint of burn out. Stunning. Girlfriend, you can be Post-trib or No-trib and still appreciate that. I watched Beverly, an author herself who has penned many books on what it means to be a Godly wife and woman, look with such affection on her man and such heightened interest in what he was saying…as if she’d never heard it. He spoke of how he loved her and how he didn’t know what he’d do without her. How she was the administrative one of the two. Several times over breakfast I watched them tenderly reach out and touch each other.

I’d never met Heather Olford before but I’d heard about her for years. She totally captivated me as she shared how we must hold fast to our passion for Jesus Christ, come what may. You could still hear a hint of Irish in her accent, having left her home country for her new husband many years ago. After saying goodbye to her beloved man of 56 years and entering her early eighties, anyone would give her permission to just coast her way home. That’s decidedly not what she’s doing. I found her utterly remarkable. I wondered if maybe she looked and acted 15 years younger than she was because she’d been unwilling to let herself off the seeking and serving hook. She referred to something she’d read in a devotional book and I marveled that this powerful woman of God intended to seek fresh revelation about Christ until the day she saw Him face-to-face. She spoke of Him with such affection that it made me want to run to my hotel room and fall on my face before Jesus and see what new He would show me, too.

All four of those people are fallible just like we are. None of them needs or wants to be placed on a pedestal but I will tell you where they’re well worthy of our respect. They have maintained Godly passion and spiritual discipline in a long obedience the same direction that has taken each of them on the road to suffering…and persecution. They are real to the bone and what they loved and felt compelled by Christ to give their lives to decades ago, they still love and give their lives to today.

I spoke to a flight attendant on a plane this trip who struck up a conversation with me over a book she saw me reading. She told me that she goes to church but her good friend won’t come with her. Even though her friend professes to love God, she thinks all people in ministry are charlatans. Some of you have undoubtedly been hurt by seeing the weaknesses and failures of people in the Christian world you admired. A scandal can be absolutely devastating and don’t think for a moment Satan isn’t hoping to take down a thousand with the one. When you lose your faith over flesh and blood, the devil has gotten exactly what he schemed. The warfare is inconceivably fierce against those out front and many leaders are caught off guard by it and seduced before they realize what hit them. God help us all. God forgive us all. God restore us all…as many as will let Him do what it really takes. At the same time, I want you, my dear fellow sojourners, to know that so many out there are the real thing. They love Jesus Christ and pray when nobody’s looking and get up in the mornings and open their Bibles for the ten-thousandth time. They weep before Him for lost and hurting souls and rejoice before Him over one touched life. They do a very hard thing for a very long time…and, often, under very harsh criticism.

Oh, Sister, don’t let the enemy get you in the trap of cynicism. Yes, there’s some inauthentic – and flat-out-false stuff in the church and we must go to great lengths not to contribute to it by insisting upon our own authenticity and humility and sound scholarship before God and man. But there is also so much good. So many good. Not perfect I dare say. But good. So many of you are among those. I read your comments and find myself edified and encouraged in Spirit. I pray that maybe these stories build you up a bit this Lord’s Day.

He is so faithful. I love loving Him with you.

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Christmas Questionnaire



*UPDATE*

Both Mom and Melissa’s answers are below mine!!!!

Hey Siestas! I was just thinking about doing a Christmas questionnaire on the blog when, about a minute ago, I got a request to do this one through a comment from Kim Safina. This will be perfect! Thanks, Kim!

1. Fresh Tree or Fake Tree
Fresh

2. Favorite Ornament
This horse I got in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It has little bells on its feet.

3. Favorite Christmas Song
“Jesus Born on This Day” on Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas” CD.

4. Favorite Tradition
Picking out a tree. Driving around to look at lights. Seeing my family open the gifts I’ve bought them. Mom and Dad cooking a big breakfast after we’ve read the Christmas story and opened presents.

5. Favorite Gift Ever Received
Last year Mom gave me a huge box of all the clothes she had saved from when I was a baby. I had no idea she still had them, so it was a very big surprise. It’s so fun to have those now since we’re having a baby girl in just two months!

6. Favorite Christmas Meal
Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and chocolate cake.

7. Favorite Christmas Cookie
Paulie’s beautifully decorated and equally delicious shortbread cookies!

8. Favorite Place To Be
Wherever Curtis and Jackson are! If we can celebrate Christmas with both of our families in the same year, that is very special.

9. Favorite Memory
When Melissa and I were very little girls, Santa came to visit us on Christmas Eve at our grandparents’ house. It was so magical. Then about four years ago, when we were again at my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve, Santa came to visit my two youngest cousins. It was so fun to see their faces. It also SNOWED that night. In Houston! It was truly a Christmas miracle. You cannot imagine how special it was for all of us.

This is a picture of Melissa and me and our cousins that year.
Hannah, Joe, John, Ben, Melissa, and me in front.

10. Favorite Christmas Movie
“Elf.” I really enjoy watching this with my sister because she laughs so hard!

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Siesta Mama’s:

1. Fresh and the fatter the better

2. Felt ornaments with my girls’ pictures on them that were made in their classes when they were little; add to that my ornaments with Jackson’s pictures

3. 4Him – A Strange Way to Save the World; Travis – In the First Light

4. Reading the Christmas story as a family first thing that morning and holding hands and each praying; On the superficial side, taking as long as possible to open the presents then Amanda, Melissa and I, all in my bedroom putting on and taking off every single new garment and gushing, “Oh, that is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen on you!” “No, YOU!!!”

5. I’d always driven a heap. I do mean A HEAP. Most of my years it was my parents’ old yellow and black Dodge Dart. I never left the house without jumper cables and a jug of water for when – not IF – the radiator overheated. I didn’t even know to feel cheated. One Christmas at Keith’s parents, I opened my present from him and it was a set of keys. A used but totally spotless Champagne colored Cadillac (a block and a half long) was sitting in his parents’ garage for me. I couldn’t even get in it. I buried my head in Keith’s chest and sobbed my eyes out right in front of everybody.

6. Major Dad always fixed Reuben Sandwiches on Christmas Eve in my house growing up and I miss them so badly. Nobody has ever been able to make Reubens like him. My first Christmas Eve in Heaven I plan to run to his mansion and stand there and squeal while he flips them on the griddle. Then I want to hear him tell the same old jokes and we’ll laugh like we’ve never heard them. On Christmas Day, I love the traditional meal. Especially the dressing because my beloved Mom fixed it so well and loved it like nobody I’ve ever known. I never miss my parents more than on Christmas. They were simple people who never made an extra dime and threw a very modest celebration but somehow, no matter how problems had filled the rest of the year, Christmas time was magical.

7. Pillsbury Slice and Bake Sugar Cookies with colored Betty Crocker Butter Cream icing and sprinkles. I’m not kidding.

8. In my same den of 24 years, up while it’s still dark, presents all in place, and on my knees all alone in front of the fire place.

9. Christmas 1981 at my parents with my huge family of origin in a very tiny den. My little brother read the Christmas story that year with us all gathered around and no sooner than he read, “And it came to pass in those days…”, Amanda, just two and a half, crawled out of the chair and went to her knees, cupped her little hands like she was praying and kept her eyes shut through the whole reading – but changing expressions with every scene. Not a dry eye in the house. Then, to top it off, a little while later we opened presents and I got to surprise Keith with blue baby booties and announce that our second child was on the way. He’d been begging for a second child since the day our first was born. That second baby would never wear those blue booties…and not once would I ever regret that God gave me another girl. I would not trade that little wild ride for anything in this world.

10. Elf, hands down. And for exactly the same reason Amanda said. Melissa laughs so hard that we nearly…we nearly…well, you know what we nearly do.

PS. IT’S SNOWING IN HOUSTON TEXAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NEVER IN YOUR LIFE HAVE YOU SEEN A STAFF OF SELF-RESPECTING ADULTS ACT LIKE BIGGER FOOLS THAN WE HAVE JUST ACTED OUT ON THE FRONT LAWN OF LPM. THANK YOU, LORD! (But stick with the post theme or AJ might snatch me baldheaded for adding that little addendum. Shoot fire, it’s already stopped but, boy, was it exciting while it lasted!)

Melissa’s Christmas Favorites

1. Fresh Tree/Fake Tree? Fresh! Who doesn’t love a little pine allergy once a year?

2. Favorite Ornament- My favorite ornament is the angel tree topper (I think it counts as an ornament) that Amanda and I fought over every year. Dad usually chose who it was going to be and lifted us up to place it high up on the tree. Don’t ask me how we found a way to fight over that?!?

3. Favorite Christmas Song- Hands down, O Holy Night, preferably by Mariah Carey. Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas is seriously musically authoritative. And how cute was she in that little Santa outfit on the cover?

4. Favorite Tradition- My Mom usually procrastinates wrapping all the presents until Christmas Eve. So she bans us to come downstairs after like 8:30 pm. Well, don’t tell her, but my favorite thing to do is to sneak down around midnight and look at all the Christmas presents in the living room. I still do and I’ll do it again this year. I can never sleep on Christmas Eve.

5. Favorite Gift Ever Received- The gift I remember being most excited about was a pair of Nike Air Jordan basketball shoes in fifth or sixth grade. I shook the box for months and months and months. In those days, my Dad refused to spend over $30 for a pair of shoes and he would make a really big deal even spending that. To get a pair of Air Jordan’s was like wearing a Cartier watch in sixth grade. I was all class, tomboy class.

6. Favorite Christmas Meal- The typical meal, nobody better mess with me and try to change it up. Turkey, Dressing, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry (the fake kind from the can NOT real cranberry), Green-Bean casserole/Broccoli-Rice casserole. Then wait a few hours and do it all over again.

7. Favorite Christmas Cookie- Amanda has made these butterscotch haystacks the past few years that I think about all year long. They are so smooth and crunchy all at the same time, and for some reason they remind me of my Nanny. I think it is because she made chocolate & butterscotch Rice Krispy treats with peanut-butter when she was still alive.

8. Favorite Place to be- Houston, no matter how nasty/hot the weather, with Keith, Beth, Amanda, Curtis, Jackson, and Colin Fitzpatrick.

9. Favorite Memory- A couple of years ago on Christmas Eve Colin and I were in the beginning phase of dating. We went to the Christmas Eve candlelight service at First Baptist and then we drove around looking at Christmas lights. He kept saying, “Are you for real?” “Are you for real?” “You really like me!?!” Anyway, I knew who the joke was really on and that I was really the lucky one in the relationship, but I’ll never forget him saying that and the look on his face.

10. Favorite Christmas Movie- Well, Mom and Amanda stole my thunder. Elf is absolutely my favorite. In fact, it is on our TV as we speak…or as I type, rather. I will say though that Home Alone comes in a close second, though it is not technically a Christmas Movie. It is hilarious and it has special family significance to me that I keep pondered in my heart. Always.

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Over Our Heads

I was just praying out loud for some folks. So aware right now of many chronic – even life and death – needs. Thinking how many people I know who are flat-out over their heads. Been over mine in a personal thing or two lately myself. Keith has a CD in his blue Ford truck that he won’t give up but every time I get behind that wheel, I shove it in the player, flip it to song #9, turn it up as loud as I can stand it, and sing it like there’s no tomorrow. It talks about the kind of over-my-head I want to be. And I want you to be.

Girlfriends, Jesus is so worthy of our trust no matter what has taken us by surprise. Picture that, when the enemy asks for a little extra access to you, the only reason why God may have given him permission is because He knew you’d prove faithful. Do the thing. In the unseen realm, angels are cheering and demons are jeering. You are in the stadium and the bleachers are full. (Hebrews 12:1) Take one for the team if you have to. Be strong and courageous. Be willing to show people how it’s done. Don’t look for a leader. You are the leader. People are looking to you. Be deliberate. Make sure they see Jesus. We’re not here all that long and then there’s BLISS. Forever bliss. Till then, we’re over our heads. But we can dang-well decide what kind of over-our-heads we’re gonna be.

“Over My Head” by Brian Littrell

I tried to figure it out
Time and time again and time again
I guess there’s just some things I’ll never understand
‘Cause Your ways aren’t our ways
But deep down in my soul, down in my soul
There is one thing I know that I know

I’m in over my head
Right where I wanna be
I’m so lost within Your love
The love that always covers me
So high, so deep, so wide
A strong and cleansing tide
My soul has found a place to rest
I’m in over my head

I’ve been holding on
Now I’m letting go, just letting go
Gonna let Your love carry me away
I don’t know where I’m going
But I’m surrounded by the truth
And I can feel the current pulling me
Deeper into You

I’m in over my head
Right where I wanna be
I’m so lost within Your love
The love that always covers me
So high, so deep, so wide
A strong and cleansing tide
My soul has found a place to rest
I’m in over my head

You see me for who I am
You did reach out Your hand
You made me understand
That Your love has always covered me

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Jackson’s Nativity Scene

I was asked to send a single sock to Mother’s Day Out with Jackson yesterday. I thought y’all might like to see the outcome of that special craft.

Also, thank you so much for your participation in the survey. We will be hard at work on those comments for the next week. We do not take your willingness to be honest and vulnerable lightly! God bless each one of you!

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