They’re Back!

Good morning! 

Meet Chip and Joanna Gaines.Two of my favorite people! And I’ve never even met them. πŸ™‚ But I’ve watched three seasons of Fixer Upper, their home renovation television program, so I feel like I know them. πŸ™‚ It’s one of my favorite television shows. β™‘

They take the worst house in the best neighborhood and turn it into their client’s dream home. Right before your eyes!

I have to admit. I have rehab envy. My home desparately needs a makeover. I want them to come and redo my home! Except I don’t live in Waco. 😦 So someday I’ll just have to go to Waco myself. To experience their store Magnolia Market at the silos. The rest of their Magnolia interests are a little out of my league. Their vacation rental Magnolia House. And their remodel companies Magnolia Homes and Magnolia Realty. But I find the Gaines family and all their “Magnolia” very endearing. 

I’ve been watching their reruns anxiously all year awaiting they’re return! Last night, November 29th, at 8:00 p.m. I sat in front of my TV all by myself and watched the first episode of season four.

The funny thing was I’d just gotten home from being in Oklahoma City for a doctor’s appointment.  The television in the waiting room there was on HGTV. The Fixer Upper marathon leading up to their fourth season was playing. Evidently I’m not the only one that finds The Gaines couple endearing. 

 They’re back! πŸ™‚

What are you anxiously awaiting to return? 

I don’t know about you, but I can tell you someone much greater than Chip and Joanna Gaines that I’m anxiously awaiting. Someone much bigger than the state of Texas they come from. It’s Jesus! And He too is returning! He is coming!

His return will not be announced in advance like the Fixer Upper. The date and time is unknown to all except His Father. Even He is unaware of its time and date. You won’t be able to DVR His return and watch it later when it’s more convenient for you like Fixer Upper. The entire world will know when He does finally return. And bow to His presence.                                                                             And I hope and pray that we are all ready. That we aren’t living our lives like the homes in Fixer Upper, in need of some rehab. 

Let’s all put on our spiritual tool belts and do whatever renovating is necessary to be ready. That’s why I like the Gaines family.  They appear to be built on a strong foundation. Both on and off the TV. Family and faith are integral parts of what they stand for. 

Let’s all stand for Jesus! He’s the foundation each of us should be built upon. He’ll be back! Let’s be ready! 

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.                                           Matthew 24:44

Love and laughter, 

Sandy

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Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Good morning! 

Thanksgiving weekend traditionally ushers in the two biggest days for Christmas shopping all year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

For one we must be present.  The other our presence is not necessary.

I presently am taking a Dave Ramsey Financial Freedom class. It has made me extremely conscientious of my spending. Every last penny. So this year when it came to Christmas shopping, I skipped Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping all together. A first for me. 

And I saved loads! Heaps! Oodles! ! In fact, I spent nothing at all! What better way to save than to not spend at all! πŸ™‚ Waste not, want not. I avoided the temptation all together by staying home. By staying off the Internet. 

I worked all night Thanksgiving. So from 7 p.m.Thursday to 7 a.m. Black Friday instead of spending money, I was making it! $$$ Shortly after I clocked out from The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis, I clocked in to the land of nod. As others were out shopping, I was in slumbering.

Sure there were deals to be had! And I missed out on them all! But I found something much greater. Self discipline. 

I did not need to buy lots of things. Material things. As a token of my love for all. And for myself as I so often had done in the past while Christmas shopping for others. 

This year I would offer the gift of my unconditional love as my primary gift to others. And I would be more than content with their love, time, and attention in return. 

The presents I will cherish most this year are the presences of those I love in my life. Their love and time and affection that they so generously share with me.

But more than anything, I will cherish the presence of our Lord and Savior in my life. No money can buy such a  gift. One black Friday years and years ago offered us that special gift. His death. Followed by His resurrection.  

No store bought or online gift can ever match the gifts bestowed by our maker.    I never want to lose the presence of my Lord and Savior. 

I may visit the land of nod every evening as I drift into slumber,  but I never want to dwell in a land apart from my Lord, the Land of Nod.

Please join me this holiday season in putting more emphasis on the true gifts of Christmas and less emphasis on the material ones. No matter how good the deals may be, remember the best present of all came wrapped in swaddling cloths, not bubble wrap. And is present for the asking. Not limited to two special days. No purchase necessary. The best Black Friday and Cyber Monday gift there is! β™‘

 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.                             Genesis 4:16

Love and laughter, 

Sandy

Temptation

Good morning! 

I just had a physical last week and found I had gained six pounds this past year. Ugh! 😦 And the sad part is, with all the holidays from now ’til after the first of the year, I don’t forsee losing it any time soon. 😦

I don’t know about you, but this time of year is the worst for self discipline. There are holiday treats everywhere I turn. Baked goods abound in our breakroom both at school and at the hospital. It’s like a giant Advent Calendar with each day revealing a tasty new treat. It’s all so tempting. 

I’d like to meet that guy Will Power and have him give me a lesson or two in self-control. Instead, I all too often succumb to temptation. 😦 And sadly, shortly after regret it.

Now this is temptation. πŸ™‚ And this is self-discipline. Or this is one unique dog that doesn’t care for dog treats. Or a dog that’s just been fed Thanksgiving dinner, so he’s not the least bit hungry or tempted. πŸ™‚

Let’s face it. We all give in to temptation of some form or another at some time or another.  We’re bombarded with it. On TV or in print. To eat. To drink. To spend. To live without limits. 

Let’s stop giving in to temptation. It is not of God, but our earthly enemy. And I don’t want to hear “the devil made me do it”. No! YOU! And I! made us do it. It’s called free will. A gift. And sometimes a curse. From God. We are given our choice to choose. One chooses life. The other death. Now I see where they got the name Death By Chocolate. Quite appropriately named. β™‘

Let’s all read our bibles. Know God’s word. Write it on our hearts. So we can.put on the armor of God and protect ourselves when temptation arises, turning from those selfish desires that only harm us to God’s way.

In my case, a much thinner, healthier choice by far. So why not join me? Let’s be proactive not reactive.  Let’s save ourselves the few extra pounds and avoid the temptation now. Rather than have to make out the new year’s resolutions for next year. And waste that extra money on gym memberships. Be strong in the Lord! Say no to opening that break room door! Say yes to a lap around the playground instead. It’s your way of escape!  Trust me, we all can endure it! πŸ™‚

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.             Ephesians 6:10-17

13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.                                                            1 Corinthians 10:13

Love and laughter, 

Sandy

Sitter

Good morning! 

Thursday night I was not at my normal monitor tech position. I was DVed due to our low patient census. That meant going home. Normally I would be ecstatic. But not this time.  I’d already celebrated my Thanksgivng. Twice. It was holiday pay for me. And my three day holiday from school meant a lesser pay check to go along with it. Just in time for Christmas no less.   

Instead of going home without pay, I opted to be a patient companion. A sitter as we call them, on  another pediatric floor. 

Patient companions or sitters are health care workers assigned by nursing staff to observe patients who are at risk for adverse events (falls, self-injury, or harm to others).

Sitting for twelve hours makes for a long night. Especially when the majority of your shift (nine hours to be exact this past Thanksgiving night) is spent sitting bedside in a dark, quiet, cold room).

It gives one ample time to think. To reflect. To pray. On this particular night it meant reflecting on what I was truly thankful for.  On what Christmas really should be all about. On my own life. On my purpose in God’s master plan. 

I was reminded of one of my favorite verses. Be still and know I am God. Tonight I would be still.

In our hectic, multi tasking kind of lives, quiet time is uncommon. Very few of us make room for it. We are too programmed to be entertained. Tonight I did make room for it. In a hospital room. I saw this night as a gift.It was just like the chair in the mausoleum.  Except this time my chair was bedside.

Did you ever notice how many times Jesus did just that? He removed Himself from the crowds. The masses. The noise. And got alone to think. To pray.

Let’s all be a little less social and a little more like Jesus. Let’s enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. But let’s take time a midst it all to be still. And sit. And know God. And just pray. We can run later. Run errands. Run laps. For right now, let’s just sit, and observe.

6 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him.       Mark 1:35-36

Love and laughter, 

Sandy

Look And Listen

Good morning! 

My favorite parts of this time of year are not the shopping and the presents, but the Christmas lights and the music. 

Who doesn’t love Christmas lights and Christmas carols? β™‘

As the table was cleared of its last Thanksgiving plate each year, we children were bundled up and ushered off by our mothers to Utica Square or Rhema every year in search of the Christmas lights. To the sounds of Christmas.  On the radio. Thanksgiving Day began the month long non stop carols on your radio.
Or at least on my car radio and desk at work at the hospital. Still today. And my all time favorite is sitting in front of the fireplace listening with the one I love. β™‘

Nothing brightens my day more than Christmas carols. I absolutely adore the Pentatonix’s version of Mary Did You Know? And Bing’s White Christmas is still a favorite.  And Michael Buble can melt my heart any day with his rendition of Baby It’s Cold Outside. And then there’s Dean. So many choices. So many beautiful songs. So many talented artists.
But only one baby in a manger that all the singing really is all about.

As you make out those lists for Santa, decorate your homes with tinsel and lights, bake those holiday cookies, hit the malls for that special gift, remember.  

The best gift of all doesn’t sit beneath your tree. Doesn’t come wrapped with a shiny bow. Doesn’t cost a cent, but is worth more than all the wealth of this world.  You don’t eat it. You don’t wear it. You don’t play with it. You adore it. You cherish it. You worship it. It is the gift that God gives to each of us. His only begotten Son. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Now that is something to sing about! 

And as much as I love those twinkling lights, can you just imagine the illumination of that one single light? Following one light, one bright star, across the evening sky in search of your gift. I’m in awe.

Join me this holiday season in enjoying the sights and the sounds of Christmas.  Join me in worshipping the One it’s all about. Don’t ever get too busy. Always look and listen. Christmas is all around you each and every day. All you have to do is look. And listen. Sometimes with just your heart. β™‘ Let your guiding star illuminate for all to see, to follow from within your own heart.

9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.               Matthew 2:9-11

Love and laughter, 

Sandy

A Place To Go

Good morning! 

As I hurriedly made my last grocery store run of the day before beginning my Thanksgiving preparations,  I was stopped in my tracks by this sight.

This was the truck parked next to me in the grocery store parking lot. They had filled the entire truck bed with turkeys and were just leaving. In an attempt to be congenial,  I told the driver, “I’m glad I’m not cooking at your house!” πŸ™‚ He then explained to me that they were for the John 3:16 mission. 

Ugh! 😦 If I only knew! I should have been cooking at his house. Helping. Offering my time and services to those with less. In need. I instantly felt condemned for my own earlier feelings of frustration for not getting the perfect holiday I so wished for. All my family members together. 

The people that would be eating those turkeys were homeless. They had no home, no friends and family to invite them to dinner and fellowship, no job to afford a turkey dinner of their own.  They would most likely be thankful for very little this year. Thanksgiving dinner. A meal. Period. A hot one. I’m sure who joined them was the least of their concerns. My own selfish desires were now petty and insignificant.  

I entered the store with a renewed perspective. One of greater compassion for those who may not be so thankful on their Thanksgiving day.

I slowed down my pace. I opened the door for an elderly gentleman. I spoke to all I saw. Wishing each of them a happy thanksgiving.  

I saw another elderly man dapperly dressed pushing his cart. I noticed his basket, containing a bottle of sparkling grape juice,  a can of green beans, and one potato. Again. I was touched. I wanted to know his story. Would he be dining alone? He could certainly come to my house! We’d have more than enough! It’s what my mother always did. Opened her home to those without a place to go. 

Do you have a place to go? I found my thoughts drifting to all those I knew that might be alone. Having no place to go. I called or texted every last one of them to wish them a happy thanksgiving. To check on them. 

Do you have a place to go? Not just for Thanksgiving, but when your life comes to its end. If you’re not sure. Just ask. Jesus has already gone to prepare a place for you. For me. A place for each of us.

Let’s all make sure everyone has a place to go. Both in heaven and on earth. On holidays and every day. If you are feeling alone, give me a shout. My door is always open. The door to my heart. β™‘ And never forget my friends, with Jesus, you will always have a place to go.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.                 John 14:1-3

Love and laughter, 

Sandy

Give Thanks!

Good morning! 

Happy Thanksgiving!  πŸ™‚

It’s turkey day! It’s the day we give thanks. I can tell you one turkey that’s giving thanks this year.  The one I didn’t buy, and we didn’t eat on Thanksgiving.:)

My youngest daughter has to work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, and I will be working from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. tonight. Both at St. Francis Hospital. So we did the non traditional thing. We celebrated a day early. And we did not eat turkey. We ate tacos! And tamales. We feasted on Mexican food. One of our favorites.  One Tom the turkey got to don his sombrero and give thanks. Although I did substitute ground turkey in place of the beef in my chili and threw in a can of pumpkin and some corn in honor of Thanksgiving. Mexican pumpkin chili. A new recipe find. πŸ™‚

This Thanksgiving day will bring the traditional turkey dinner for me at lunch time with my favorite guys.β™‘  And two of my daughters have other homes that will provide them with the turkey and trimmings we all know and love. And you can count on it, I’ll be running a plate up to my daughter that’s working at the hospital all day so she, too, can have her turkey. πŸ™‚
                                                                      Some of us may not be sitting down at the table Martha Stewart would set. Some of us resemble the Griswold’s a little more than the Kardashians.  We may not have generations of family in tact to join us. We may not even be eating turkey. But no matter what, we can all still give thanks! Be thankful for something. 

I encourage each of you to take a moment today in the midst of the parades, the decorations, the feasting, the family and friends,  the football,  the shopping, the working. Whatever today may bring for you. And simply give thanks. For something.

Today I give thanks for you, my readers, that keep me accountable to keep fulfilling a life long dream of mine. To write. Every day. To seek God’s word in search of a fitting scripture. Every day.

I give thanks for my family.  As small. As broken. As dysfunctional as it may be at times. It’s mine. β™‘ I love every one of them dearly. My dad, my three daughters and their significant others, and my grandchildren. Unconditionally. And sometimes it has to be one at a time. πŸ™‚ Thank you for teaching me to break the mold of society’s example of the perfect family, and just accepting and loving mine. β™‘.Lord knows I struggle with that! 

I give thanks for the handful of ladies in my life I call friends.  A few happen to also be called my family. The ones that are always there to offer a shoulder to cry on when I’m tired and need to vent with life’s frustrations. Those same ladies that are there with party hats when I celebrate some small victory. You know who you are! β™‘

I give thanks to the man in my life that puts up with me. That tells me he loves me terribly. That keeps me grounded when I lose my way. When I struggle. When I want to give up.Who constantly teaches me baby steps. Every day. β™‘

I give thanks for my jobs. Both of them. Working with children. Children that are not the typical. They teach me so much more than I could ever teach them and help me keep life in perspective. 

I give thanks for my country. The land of the free. And the brave. And it’s still the greatest in my eyes. Today. Just for today my prayer is for everyone to stop bashing it. To unite as one country and give thanks for those in our past, our present, and our future that have fought and worked to defend it and still do.

But most of all I give thanks to my God. For creating me. For loving me. For forgiving me. For teaching me His ways through my own free will.

Today.  I give thanks! How about you?

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.           1 Thessalonians 5:18

Love and laughter, 

Sandy