Facing “Black Friday” – A Mercy Mission


I have never been a Day-After-Thanksgiving shopper.  My aversion to this particular event started decades ago when my sister worked in retail and related tales of what it was like from her perspective.


I’ve had friends who make “Black Friday” an all-day, all-out annual event!  Searching for parking spaces, shopping, doing lunch, followed by more shopping, walking and lugging of bags.  Me?  I’m perfectly content to stay home.  Besides, I had a head start, remember?  (See “Halloween – Best Christmas Shopping Day Ever” – October 29).  So, the last thing on my mind Friday morning, was venturing out in public.  Anywhere.  And I could hardly believe it when Hero, who is not a crowd person either, mumbled over his wake-up coffee about going out to find a Christmas tree.  (Artificial, mind you…the story of how we made the switch from real to fake is best saved for another day.)


I wasn’t convinced we needed a different tree.  This didn’t make much sense to Hero, since I was totally ready for a tree update two years ago.  It was thirteen years old, then, and looked more than a bit lame.  We’d put it in our garage sale that summer, but it never sold.  So, you know what we did?  We put it up again the following Christmas.  But it looked awful.  That would be its last vigil in our living room, I purposed.


[I need to explain that in our family, tradition has it that Hero puts up the tree and strings the lights.  That’s his part – which I greatly appreciate – the rest of the tree decorating is up to the remainder of the family.[


So, back to our sorry-looking tree:  After Hero loaded it with lights, I camouflaged it with  every decoration in our vast collection – vintage glass balls from our own childhoods; oh-so-precious felt, clay and popsickle stick ornaments, constructed by our sons in elementary school, including a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle green ball with purple felt mask (so ’80s); glittering garland inherited from parents…you name it, we put it on the tree.  My goal was to load those flat and shapeless branches, and fill in every bare spot, providing a veritable mountain of distracting eye candy.  It sorta worked.


That was the Christmas of 2006.  Summer of ’07, we again put our tree in a garage sale.  It didn’t sell.  We took it to Goodwill.  They wouldn’t take it, either.  So, you know what we did?  We put it up last year, too.


But this time there was a glorious transformation.  It looked beautiful!  And I could not understand why.  After a bit of probing on my part, Hero finally admitted that he’d grown tired of assembling it branch by branch.  And I thought, “It looked ugly last year because he didn’t feel like taking the time to fluff and shape the branches?”

Yep.  After seeing his dad’s two-section, easy assembly, complete-with-lights tree, Hero was disillusioned with our ancient fake fir.


Which brings us to the holiday season of 2008, and this past Friday’s conversation over morning coffee.  Why would we need a new tree when I saw from last Christmas how gorgeous our by-now-vintage tree could look?


The answer in a word – Mercy.  I needed to extend it to Hero.  In all those years of tediously assembling our Christmas tree, not once did I hear him complain.  Nor did he grumble when he disassembled it.  He did that for fifteen years!  Didn’t he deserve for me to get beyond my thrift mentality and cut him some slack if he wanted to get a more convenient tree?  He said none of this; I had to figure it out for myself.  And, I finally got it. 


In minutes, I was dressed, grabbed my purse, was out the door and into my sweet hubby’s pick-up, for my first taste of Day-After-Thanksgiving shopping.




P.S.  All photos are of assembly of this year’s tree – our new, updated model.


  And, they lived happily ever after.

Directions to a Bloggy Giveaway


Nope, it’s not me this time.  It’s Michelle, at This One’s For The Girls.  http://thisonesforthegirls.wordpress.com/  She’s posted a review of my book “Secrets About Guys (that shouldn’t be secret),” and is giving away a free copy!  If you haven’t met her yet, you really need to drop in and get acquainted with this beautiful mother of five.  (Wait til you see the adorable pics of her and her hubby – too sweet.  You just know they’re in love.)  And while you’re there, remember to sign up for her giveaway.

Thanksgiving – Preserving Apple Pie



The best way to preserve Apple Pie is with a camera.  This is the pie I made this afternoon.  It’s baked with Harralsons we brought home and froze, after our trip to the orchards in early fall (see Oct. 21 – Sunrise Apple Orchard Trip – Part II).  I took the photo because I want the pie to last.  It took at least an hour to make this masterpiece (not counting baking time), and it’s gonna disappear at our Thanksgiving Dinner in 10 minutes or less.  So, I thought I’d preserve it for just a little while longer.  I’m sure you other holiday cooks and bakers can relate.





Thanksgiving – 10 Reasons to Give Thanks


Yesterday, my grown son (22) tore up his knee playing touch football with a bunch of youth in the church parking lot.  I spent most of the afternoon and part of Sunday evening in the ER with him.  He’s home now, in a leg brace, taking pain meds and getting around on crutches.  (no college classes or work for him today.)  We won’t know for several days whether or not there’s damage to his ACL; we have to wait until the swelling goes down before they can do an MRI.  (The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) lies deep within the knee joint. )


On the way home from the hospital yesterday, and while I transported him to a class this evening, I was quite astonished to catch myself mentally listing things for which I am thankful.  I didn’t know I had it in me, but here’s what was going through my head…(in no particular order).


1.)  I’m so thankful we have access to a hospital.   

2.) I’m thankful for the support and medical staff there. 

3.)  I’m thankful I have a car to get to the hospital.

4.)  And that gas is available for my car.

5.)  And that I am able to pay for fuel.

6.) I’m thankful that pain medication exists.

7.)  And that I have access to it. 

7.)  That we already have a pair of crutches in the garage. 

8.)  I’m thankful for my cell phone, to correspond with my husband, who is out of town, so that I don’t have to deal with this alone.       

9.)  I’m thankful to have a son – to worry about.

10.)  I’m thankful to have a Heavenly Father who hears prayer.


I could easily expound on these points.  So many people in the world cannot list these things because they do not have them.  In the midst of trials, there truly are things for which we can be thankful.  But it sure surprised me to discover that this truth really is sprouting in my heart.  I’m so thankful!

Feeling Overwhelmed?



Don’t worry about the whole task.  Just take it one step at a time.  If you need to stop along the way, give yourself permission.  Rest.  Cry if you must.  Then, take the next step.  And the next.  God is with you all the way.  His grace is enough…His strength is made perfect in weakness…  II Corinthians 12:9 


Denying Winter – Chap. 2


Happy Saturday.  Well, this is day number 61 of my denial of winter.  With my optimistic, sunny-side-up, glass-half-full kind of mentality, though, I shall instead proclaim that it’s Day Number Sixty-one of glorious Autumn!  I’m enjoying it immensely.  Love cooking  them cozy comfort foods.  And raking’s getting easier.


For Mothers of Boys – And Brides – The Moral


Well, I promised the moral of “For Mothers of Boys – And Young Brides,” (November 5th), so here we go…  (You’ll want to read that first, if you haven’t yet…)  


The “Daydream” surely was a sneak peek into your heart as a mother of a son.  But, I have a confession.   It was also a sacred look into your mother-in-law’s heart!   That’s right.  It was meant to give you a deeper understanding of your husband’s mother.  


Every bride starts out with the same longing to build a strong, healthy, happy family with the guy of her dreams.  That’s your dream, isn’t it?  But have you ever stopped to consider that your husband’s mother had those same goals that you have now?  That she was also a bride in love with her husband and with dreams for her children?  Once upon a time, she was in your shoes.  And, if you’re a mother right now, some day you will be in hers.  Yes, you are, right now, a mother-in-law-to-be.  


What kind will you be?


What kind of daughter-in-law are you now? 


Think of how much you adore your son.  You desire the very best for him.  You’re sacrificing and investing your very life in the welfare of your children; everything revolves around them.  Can you imagine how it will feel, then, when the day finally comes that a young lady arrives on the scene who absolutely captivates your son?  When he is hopelessly smitten?  Will this girl, who holds his heart, be justified in calling him a “Mama’s boy” if he simply continues to show you love and respect?  Have you given thought to how it will feel to be treated as though you’re an intruder?  (What?  Intruding in something into which you’ve poured the best years of your life?)


In my book, “Secrets About Guys (that shouldn’t be secret),”  I”ve devoted a whole chapter to this topic.  I’m not saying there’s no such thing as a meddling mother-in-law.  (Heavens!  I know one bride whose mother-in-law insisted on accompanying the newlyweds on their honeymoon!) 


I just want to encourage you to sow good seeds for your future.  The Scriptural law of Sowing and Reaping is universal.  If you wish to have your heart intact when your children marry, now is the ideal time to cultivate love and understanding with your husband’s mother.  Treat her the way you will want to be treated by the girl who captivates your son.   


There are lots of tips for this in my book.  I suppose I should apologize for that last sentence as shameless promotion  🙂  but I’m not going to because, when we’re in harmony with our in-laws, everyone benefits.  It is so worth the effort.  And, one day, when it is your harvest time, you will be so thankful for making the effort to sow seeds of love.       



Avoiding the Flu – A Very Casual Chicken Soup Recipe


Hero was out of town on business most of the week, so naturally I was glad when I received his call yesterday afternoon telling me he was on his way home.  Yippee!  I thought.   I’ll see him in four or five hours. 


Sure enough, I was in the kitchen, dutifully preparing healthy slash hearty comfort food for supper when I heard the front door open.  My hands were gooey with Italian sausage, so I didn’t immediately rush to meet Hero. 


While I hastily washed my hands, I listened to hear him call out a greeting.  But there was none.  I wiped my hands, straightened my apron, and touched my hair, a la Lucy Ricardo, (okay – I do wear aprons but, forget the hair primping), and headed for our room where I knew he’d be setting down his suitcase.  I only got halfway through the living room before Hero appeared in the doorway looking pasty white, and holding out one hand at arms length. 


“You don’t want to come any closer,”  He groaned.  “I am really sick.” 


The poor dear.  He hadn’t wanted me to worry so he didn’t tell me on the phone.  Guess his long drive was pretty miserable.  He changed into sweats, claimed the nearest sofa and pulled a blanket up close. 


Nausea, chills, fever, all-over aching.  It’s that season, folks.  But just because one family member gets sick, doesn’t mean we all have to.  A few simple steps can go a long way toward staying healthy.  Here’s what generally works for us: 


1.)  Eat healthy.  Duh.  I know.  But I’ve been amazed to discover how many people don’t yet realize that sugar compromises the immune system.  Is it any wonder that colds and flu seem to follow Halloween?  When we’re fighting anything in this household, the first thing to monitor is our sugar intake. 


 But living a lifestyle of healthy eating goes a long way toward prevention.  (You don’t want to read my two posts, on “Candy Corn and Peanuts.”)  Concerning sugar, you might want to take a look at this:




2.)  Stay hydrated.  Drink plenty of water.


3.) Get enough sleep.


4.) Keep short accounts with God and people.  Anger, stress, worry, criticism, unforgiveness, bitterness, etc. can wreak havoc on our immune systems. 


5.) Nurture gratitude.  To program your thinking in that direction, start making a daily list of things to be thankful for.  It really helps. 


6.) Find things to laugh about.


7.) Chicken soup really does have therapeutic value.  For a quick and easy recipe:  Get a rotisserie chicken from Wal-mart, or wherever.  While it’s still warm, remove the meat from the bones.  Discard the skin.  Set meat aside.  Simmer chicken bones in 4 – 6 cups of water for about 1 1/2 hours.  While it’s simmering, cube the chicken meat.  Peel and shred a couple carrots; chop a little onion, cut up some celery, and maybe one clove of garlic.  When simmering is complete, pour broth through sieve into another container.  Don’t pour your broth down the drain!   Discard bones.  Add chopped veggies to broth and bring to gentle boil just until they begin to soften.  Add a handful or so of egg noodles, or a little rice and cook until noodles are done.  (Note:  Noodles absorb lots of the broth so sometimes I cook them separately in water flavored with Watkins Chicken Soup base.)  Add salt, black pepper, and/or a bit of poultry seasoning according to your taste.  Add cubed chicken last.          


And now a few disclaimers:   


a.)  Hero did not pig-out at/after Halloween.


b.)  I am not a doctor.


c.) I know none of this is new information.

Denying Winter


I am in deliberate denial about winter.  After last year’s brutal ice storms



and snow storms



followed by record-breaking floods





I am not giving up one single day of autumn.  Not one. 


It is Fall, people.  Autumn.  See? 


 Okay, this is a picture taken today… 



 But, as far as I’m concerned, I will not acknowledge winter at least  until it is official.  December 21st.  Then.  Maybe.  I might consider it.


Until then, it is Fall!  A – U – T – U – M – N!   Well it is.  Inside, anyway.  


Veterans Day was Yesterday


Veterans Day was yesterday.  But our military is still on duty today – and every day – so I’m stretching out the holiday to take a further look… 


Seven years ago, we lived in a state which had several military bases surrounding our community.  On the street where we lived, I think there were probably a dozen military families, both active and retired.  Getting to know those neighbors was an eye-opening experience.


Near the end of July that year, my husband and I attended a formal ceremony for a neighbor who was retiring from the Navy after 23 years.  We felt privileged to receive an invitation to the event and were deeply moved by the pomp, the speeches, and the awards presented.  I was also impressed by the gratitude the Navy officials expressed to our neighbor’s wife and daughter, for their supportive and sacrificial roles.  


As we observed, I noted that October 31st was quoted as the retirement date.  That was yet three months away, so apparently our friend’s retirement wasn’t technically official until then.  A party at his home followed the ceremony.  I was again impacted as I overheard conversations among the uniformed guests.  Their mindset seemed different.  Their discussions, even their humor, centered on a life bigger than themselves. 


Then came September 11th.  With his official retirement only a few weeks away, our neighbor was called back to active duty.  In days, he would be leaving his wife and teenage daughter for another two years.  During conversations we had with him before he left, not once did we hear a word of complaint.  His  humility and willingness to serve our country made a profound impression.


What a staggering realization, that thousands of people like our neighbor have been serving and protecting our country for decades, with little recognition…that so much goes on behind the scenes which we never hear about.   


Romans 13:7 says to give honor to whom honor is due.  Men and women of the United States Military – every person in every branch  –  and your families – I make no apology for taking a second day to recognize your sacrifice.  Thank You.