Sunday, December 30, 2012

What a Winter!

Winter has always been one of my favorite times of year!  I love the cold, the cozy nights, the decorations, the excitement and joy, and most of all.....the SNOW!!  I was looking forward to winter, but a little apprehensive this year since I wouldn't have either mom or dad here to celebrate or decorate or share the joy with.  I still made sure to take the time to decorate, just like normal.  This year, the Lord gave me the awesome idea of making the upstairs tree a butterfly tree in honor of mom.  She used to love sitting in the living room looking at that tree.  I had butterflies put on her casket and saw some beautiful butterfly ornaments at the Dollar Tree and later at Michael's.  I also got some butterflies from friends to add to my tree!  I love it and think it looks beautiful!
Winter was becoming quite busy, so I was looking forward to break.  There were parties and get-togethers and the concert, things to make and get prepared for.  Monday was the school faculty and staff party.  We were encouraged to make our gifts to each other this year.   I LOVE Pinterest and that helped me with great ideas for some of the things I needed to make.
 This started out as a Tastefully Simple Cocoa can and a piece of cardboard for the rim.  Got the idea from Stephanie at Stars 'N' Sparkles, Blooms 'N' Bling.  Spray painted it all black, hot glued the can to the cardboard.  Found sparkly red tape to put around the base of the hat.  Flicked a little white paint on the hat.  Got some holiday greenery and hot glued that to the cardboard as well.  It was pretty easy to do, and I was happy with how it turned out.  Not nearly as nice as the original from Stephanie, but I will probably be doing this again.  It was my grab bag gift for our faculty and staff Christmas party at school.
 Stephanie suggested putting goodies inside.  So, I made peppermint meringues also from Pinterest. :)

Thursday night was the Christmas concert as well as our midweek church service.  Of course I forgot that on Wednesday night and went to the church only to see an empty parking lot and dark church, only then did I remember...ugh.
Then Friday brought tremendous sadness after hearing about the awful tragedy in Newtown.  As I heard my heart sank and was so broken.  We were only hearing bits and pieces as we were still in school.  When I got home I bawled as I watched the sadness on the news.  Still heartbroken!  There is just so much sadness!  We had a great Christmas Around the World party in 3rd grade!  Yummy foods and drinks from some of the cultures represented in our classroom.  We had sauerkraut, Swedish meatballs, ravioli, flan, yule log cake, and Jamaican cola and grapefruit drinks.  We made gifts for the parents again from ideas on Pinterest.
We made these Five Finger Snowman ornaments from Stephanie from Full of Great Ideas.

And then I tried the DIY wooden picture from Crystal Hethcote on Youtube.  I love how these came out, a little dark and hard to see the kids faces from the pictures I took. But they are really cute, love them!!
 Then it was time for break.....finally, I was so glad about that, and very ready.  I was tired!  Wednesday was spent doing some catch up things and that night was church.  Pastor asked us to pray specifically for my friend Erin, who had been in the hospital for a while struggling with breathing problems.  She needed a lung transplant, but she wasn't healthy enough for one yet, so we prayed earnestly for her healing that night.  Thursday morning, I read an email from the church that stated that Erin had passed away earlier in the morning.  Once again my heart was broken.  My friend was only 29 years old, so full of love and life, she was hilarious and so much fun to know!  I cried because I was truly going to miss her, I cried for her parents, having to bury their only child, I cried for her husband of two years, having to bury his wife...the love of his life, I cried for her family and friends and students who were going to miss her incredible spirit.  That was a tough day.  Then Friday came and as I wrote in my previous post, I felt very compelled to go to Newtown/Sandy Hook to show support for that sweet little town.  Sunday and Monday were church.  Sunday I also heard some more sad news about one of my former Bible teachers from college, he had a heart attack after the service and was in the hospital, later that night he passed away.  My heart was broken for his family!  So much sadness within just a little over a week!  Monday we had a candlelight Christmas Eve service.  I was in the nursery, but there were lots of people and from the little I could hear, it seemed like a great service.  After the service I was blessed to be able to spend the rest of the evening with wonderful friends!  We had great food and fellowship and opened presents.  It was a special night.
Christmas day came and of course I was missing my parents, but had presents under the tree to enjoy from my sweet friend.  Then I had the pleasure of watching Bella tear open her presents.

 I made a nice breakfast for myself and then went to my aunt and uncle's house.  This was how I was used to spending my Christmas, so it was great to have that sense of normalcy!  It was great to see one of my uncles that doesn't usually feel well enough to get out much.  It was a great time with lots of laughs with my aunts, uncles, and cousins!  I am so thankful for them, and it was nice, though I missed my mom and dad, I enjoyed a great time with them!  Wednesday was the wake for my friend and Thursday was the funeral.  Both were truly sweet and though terribly sad, they were beautiful and a blessing to be a part of.  So, yes, it has definitely been a winter, I must say one of the saddest that I have experienced.  But I am so thankful that my God is always constant.  He's always there, offering peace and hope to those who need it.  He has given strength in such amazing ways.  I have seen it in the families of the victims of Sandy Hook, and in the town itself, even in the signs that they have around town, We are Sandy Hook, We choose love.

 One of the little 6 year old victims Ana Marquez-Greene's parents write messages on Facebook, and their phrase is Love wins!  People have been choosing to do random acts of kindness in honor of the victims, all over the country.  I also saw that strength in my friend's parents and husband during her wake and funeral!  And again it has been evident in the Facebook posts from my friend, the daughter of the Bible teacher who died.  Only God can give that!  So through all of the sadness I think maybe we have truly been given a reminder as to what Christmas is really about.
Lord, may we never forget the Love that you sent to us so that we could accept that Love and share it with others. Help us to choose love and let love win!  Help us not to only think of this in the face of tragedy, but to remember it and live it all year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I Just Felt Compelled

I have heard these words so much lately, and I can totally relate.  I got up Friday and got a text from a friend who was going to come check out the problem with my back porch.  He came over and saw what my concern was, and he also walked around and noticed some other things that he wanted to make me aware of.  Then he shared with me that he will be helping to take care of these things in the days ahead.  He even took the time to temporarily jack up the porch for me so I wouldn't be afraid to walk on it.  Oh yea, and did I was pouring rain the whole time!!  So, he also dug out some small trenches around the house to keep the water from pooling right by the house. What an incredible blessing!!
A little after he left the rain stopped and the sun tried to make a bit of an appearance.  As I was just doing things around the house my mind kept going to Newtown.  I just felt compelled to go down there to show my support and love.  It was amazing to see how much support and love has been showered on this little town.  Here are some pictures I took.

The traffic to get to the memorial site

The bear that I left to show support!

Sandy Hook Angels

This touched me so much, 6 larger penguins and 20 little ones.

Another sweet, sad tribute with 6 larger bears and 20 little ones.

More things left for support and love across the street.

To the right  of the tree was a girl that was giving hugs to people.

Little angels

20 little hearts + 6 heroes = 26 angels
Therapy dogs were there for people to pet and to bring a sweet smile to faces!

I also felt compelled to go by the church where the funeral for little Ana was being held right up the street from me.  I had a purple sparkly shirt on to show my support for the family.  I know her cousins so my heart was knit there in more than one way.
This was the sky outside the church right after the funeral for little Ana Marquez-Greene.
Leaving the church to go to the burial site.

Horse drawn carriage for this precious little girl, so heartbreaking!

Let's not forget!  May we feel compelled to keep this spirit of love and kindness and caring all through the year!
Continuing to pray for Newtown and the families of the victims.  May they know the peace that only Jesus can bring!