Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010!

It was a good year. It was a great year. We had snow in Prattville! In February!

We moved. Again! Our church secretary is having a difficult time keeping us with us.

We laughed. We loved. We celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. New babies! Elle Elizabeth came into our family and Shelby into Matt and Tara's! We lost weight, and yeah okay, so we gained some of it back. But not all of it!

The recession got bad, then began to get better! History was made and records broken. Through it all, we served a King. A King that always has at heart the best interest of His people. A King that never lies nor breaks a promise. A King that continues to heap blessings upon His followers. A King that shall reign into Eternity. Forever and ever.

I don't make New Year resolutions. I have a hard time with them because I am constantly changing my mind about most things like diet, exercise, eating healthy. Things like that. Instead I promise myself I shall try to do as much as possible to be a healthier human, a more compassionate friend, a more devout Christian, and a more relaxed person.

I promise myself to do what I can to make sure John feels loved and needed, my daughters and their men are assured of my love and appreciation, and that my grandbabies know without a doubt that their Nan would lay down her life for them. I am a very blessed woman and I know it. I shall continue to remember the Garden when times are stressful and not be distracted by angry and unhappy individuals.

Wow, what an awesome year. 2010 - look out. It's only going to get better!

Brian & Kristy Gray, Update

Kristy and Brian are at Shepherd's Center in Atlanta, Georgia. This awesome place is one of the top rehabilitation hospitals in the nation, specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury or brain injury. They were able to bring Kristy's pup to see her and the smile on her face brightened our hearts.
She is working hard in therapy and battling the ever present pain. They are still working to balance the pain meds and some days are better than others. Through it all, they both continue to be a living inspirational story for those of us that know and love them.
Their first Christmas without precious Helen and they were dressed, with family, and had smiles for others. The days ahead will be difficult and there will be valleys to go through, but it is in getting through the valleys that we are able to view from the mountaintops. And I have no doubt that God has some really awesome plans in store for these two children of His.
(Miss Helen, Thanksgiving weekend)

Nights in Rodanthe, Once More ~

(photo taken August, 2009)
Remember this post? Well guess what?! The house is not being torn down, it's being moved! Just a bit further down the beach! It won't have the same views but it will be intact and the new owner plans to add the deck and additions such as you saw in the movie. Read about it here. I first became aware of this through a post by Julia at Hooked on Houses - love love love that site!! Now I'm excited that it will remain a home and look forward to seeing what the new owners will do with it! Bet there'll be updates! Thanks, Kyle, for sending me the newspaper link!!


I found this site tonight and want to encourage you to visit and to sign up as a prayer warrior. Maybe you have requests you need to add in order for others to pray for you. Maybe you would like to join one of the prayer circles or begin a prayer circle. I do know He hears our prayers and I know He answers them. There is strength in numbers and there is strength in Him. You can visit my blog site and be directed to it from there or you can click on the logo and be taken there now. Thank you and may God continue to bless and hold you near.

Our Mississippi Babes & Christmas!

I grabbed these photos from Stacey to share Christmas in Mississippi with you. Austin got a Wii and along with his competitive streak, he should have a blast with it! Alaina got a huge dollhouse and bike and is in doll heaven. They will be here the first of January and I can't wait to see them! There will be more photos to share when we celebrate Christmas once more!

Brett Green. I love this man. I love the way he loves our daughter and his babies. He's a hard worker, an avid hunter and a fisherman and takes Austin with him. He's an awesome cook, too, ad we love it when he fires up the grill! You are loved and appreciated Mr. Green!
Our sweet Leslie and Austin ~ these two are buddies and pals. Forever.
and sweet Miss Priss ~ I truly can't wait to get these Mississippi babes in Alabama! You'll be hearing all about it once the dust has settled and photos are uploaded! Until then, have a great week and a wonderous New Year's!

Our Christmas Eve ~

We have always celebrated with Jenny and her family on Christmas Eve by going out to Waffle House. The year Ian was born, we stayed in as he was just a few weeks old. Once Noah came along Cracker Barrel became a choice of eating and with Elle's birth this year we decided to just stay in and have a home cooked meal. It was such fun this year and I'm sure I'll be adding more snapshots as Jenny makes her available. For now, here are a couple I had her snap with my camera. Here's hoping your Christmas Eve was a delightful one for you and yours!

Sweet Elle ~ it's going to be fun watching her grow this year. Bittersweet, as she is the last one for them, but fun nonetheless! To all of you, have a restful week before ringing in the New Year!!

Thinking Back to Christmas Past ~

The first Christmas after the accident. Ugh, 124 sickly pounds. John said I looked like a refugee. I felt like one, too. It was a Christmas my family wasn't even sure I'd be present for. I was out of adult Depends and walking without the walker! I was able to climb the three steps to our patio! Slowly, but I could climb them! And by myself! Yes, it was a holiday to be thankful. Noah was born that year. Sweet baby Noah. Our card that year only reminded me of how ill I still looked. 77 days in ICU and endless amounts of drugs can sure take the shine and life right out of your hair! And turn your teeth a nasty shade of gray. Not my favorite photo of us by a long shot.
The next year it snowed on the day we celebrated!! Now remember, we have our celebration in January. We began doing this after not being able to meet in December, 2005 and we've loved it ever since! There's no rush, everyone is relaxed, we eat alot, visit and catch up with each other and watch the kids have another Christmas! And in January of 2008 it snowed the weekend we were together. Magical! What a neat surprise! Snow, in Prattville, Alabama.See that wire urn of ornaments? Noah discovered them and realized he loved rolling them around the room. When we moved later that year, we found a number of them under the couches! Look at that fat little chunky monkey. The curls were beginning to grow.
I was feeling much better. Gaining weight (bahaha!)
This was our last holiday in the house on Spruce. (tear or two) It's this time of year that I miss our fireplace and gas logs. I really think this was my favorite house. And there's John with two of my favorite little people, Austin Brett and 'laina ~
Last Christmas we gathered at Jenny's, as we had sold Spruce and moved into an apartment. It was this Christmas that she told us there would be a new addition to the family! Here's our three beautiful daughters, and Austin. He's such a ham, just like his dad. Have I mentioned how I totally am in love with our two son in laws?! They rock. We are blessed.
By this time, I was heavier than I needed to be. Dieting was in order. And I lost 15 pounds! Yay me! Jenny took the photos for our cards last year. Beautiful background downtown.Which brings us to this holiday season. Feeling better than ever.
Ian is now a big brother to a baby sister. And I feel great.
Elle Elizabeth. Happy. Healthy.
Life is good. God is great. Families grow.

John and I are thankful as we continue to grow in health, in love, and we find peace in the blessings being showered upon us daily. May you and yours have a most delightful time this Christmas season and may you have infinite moments of love and laughter ~

Did You See Nights in Rodanthe?!

Did you ever see Nights in Rodanthe?! No, then you should rent it. Soon! Yes?! Then you know the home of which I speak! Here's the beautiful home, Serendipity, on the Outer Banks. Beautiful home, right on the ocean. You had an awesome view from most any room! Tonight while catching up on some of my favorite blogs, I saw that Julia, of Hooked on Houses, had an update to a prior post. I loved this movie and was saddened to read of its apparent demise and the problems the owners are experiencing. Read on ~ (and you can click on the photos to go to the post!)
The above photo shows the home after Hollywood finished adding decks and new painting. You can read more about this on Julia's site. Note how close the ocean is! Apparently, while filming a hurricane blew in and delayed things a bit!

After filming, decks were taken down and the home looks abandoned. The owners have not been able to rent it much and there seems to be some problems with drainage and sewage.
Now look at it. This photo was taken the first of this month and shows how the ocean is now coming in and around the home. There is a move to have it moved or torn down. Julia has an interesting post with links to a local newspaper. And if you love houses like I do, you'll love love love Julia's blog!! Because of her post on Grey Gardens I rented the movie and was fascinated and saddened to learn of the fate of the two women who lived and loved in that home. Go visit Hooked on Houses and have a restful weekend!!

Happy Birthday, Ian!

It's tough being the oldest child in a family, but you handle it well, sweet Ian. This snapshot that your mom took recently showcases this fact, wanting Elle to cease her tears and Noah leaning on you. I cannot believe it's been six years since we celebrated your birth! You love coming over to build with your blocks, watch Scooby Doo, and raid the snack basket!
Noah looks up to you and you're there to help, to laugh, to play, and yes, to argue when he gets on your nerves. The last time you were here you showed him how to make a robot with the Lego's. He was so proud of himself! And I was proud of you.
Your Pa and I love you very much and
we treasure the time we spend with you.
Always make time to laugh, to love, to live ~
and do it with passion and joy!

Congratulations, Mark Ingram!

The University of Alabama has a Heisman winner! Finally! Mark Ingram, in the closest race yet, won with 28 votes over Toby Gerhart of Stanford. We were so excited when Mark's name was announced! First ever winner for the University!! And on the 75th Anniversary of the Heisman Trophy Award!! Congratulations, Mark. We are so proud of you and for you!

Asleep, 77 Days ~ the Garden

I've been asked what I remember about the Garden, as in what was there, who was there, was there a sun in the sky. You get the idea. I've already told you I saw three that I knew and loved ~ my father and John's parents. What I have not talked about much was the 'being' that I knew to be standing on my right, on the edge of my peripheral vision, but I want to save this for another post.

But back to what I saw, what I remember, was a lush and vibrant garden. Intense colors, but not garish; full blooming plants, fully leaved trees; and there was an order to everything. The beds had tall flowers in the back and followed through with shorter flowers until they edged out at the side of the path. I only remember one such bed, and it appeared to be long and wide. Off to my right, behind Jim, were trees and grass. Thick, green grass, but not tall, maybe ankle height. I do not remember seeing any brownness, any withered flower or wilted shrub. The Garden was as healthy looking as those I loved. And it stretched out toward the horizon.

I felt the breeze on my face and saw leaves moving on the trees. It was odd that I felt the breeze because afterwards I realized that the ones I saw were not aware of me. I did not hear anything, almost as if I was on one side of a window pane. Although they were within easy walking distance of only a few feet, I somehow knew they didn't know I was there. Had I been allowed to stay, they would have. I feel sure of that. But this was not my time. It was not to be.

The path went out from where I stood and curved back to the left, past my father. He was wearing khaki colored slacks and a light blue short sleeved shirt. Remembering past pictures of him while he and mother were dating, the style was much like it was during that time. I still am amazed at how young and healthy he looked. Although I never knew him when he was that young, I knew he would know me and I looked forward to having him wrap me in the hug I know so well. John's father stood across the path, in his overalls, and he was laughing. He was always laughing. Standing there with his hands in his overall pockets, with his head thrown back, laughing. I didn't hear him but I felt his happiness. Miss Ora Lee was near me, on her knees with young plants. The earth was rich, dark, and loose. She and Jim looked as they did 27 years ago when John and I married, but much healthier here. Supreme peace permeated my soul.

I did not see a sun but it was daytime as I know it. No clouds but a blue, blue sky. I have been asked if I saw any animals and you can read that post here. No I didn't. But that does not mean they weren't there. I can't tell you how long I was there, only that it wasn't long enough. It felt like only minutes. Every pore on my arms tingled and I felt highly excited. I have already told you my first thought was "Johnny is going to be so excited when he gets here!" I knew I was separated from him, I knew where I was, I knew I was not on earth. And this knowledge did not sadden me in the least.

It was more than I ever imagined. This was The Garden. His Garden. And I knew it with every fiber of my being. I curled my toes inward and the path was soft gravel. No pain, softness. Some have asked what I was wearing. I have no idea. I never looked behind me, where I felt a great void or darkness, nor did I look beside me, where I know a being was standing. I never looked up. I was so totally fascinated with what lie in front of me that I saw no reason to look anywhere else.

I can tell you how easy it is to die. You blink, you inhale, and you're there. There is no memory of how you got there, what path you took that brought you to this, be it accident, natural causes, whatever it took to bring you to this moment, is behind you. Forgotten. His beauty awaits you, with those you love. I have a few thoughts about this too, that I'll share later. Suffice to say, I knew I was separated by death from those I love here but there was absolutely positively no sadness. I knew I was joined with those that are there. Dying is easy. Living is what's hard. What's painful. If I could impart just a minute piece of how easy it is, how excited you'll be, how painless it is, you would see that you need never ever fear death. He truly has taken the sting away. But, that's another post as well.

The Tide Rolls

"Not even Tebow could part the Tide" - this was being bandied about as the Tide rolled over the Florida Gators 32-13 Saturday in Atlanta! It was an awesome game! Florida did not even score the second half. We ruled. Plain and simple.
* * * * * * * * * *
Here are two of my favorites moments! First up, Mark Ingram! Three touchdowns and 113 yards rushing and 76 yards receiving! He was burning it up yesterday! I am in hopes he will be the Heisman Winner this year, as he so deserves this trophy.
One of my very favorite replays was Greg McElroy tip toeing down the sidelines for a first down, which led to a fieldgoal! He hopped on his right foot before being knocked out by a Florida lineman. Greg had 239 passing and one touchdown! I've never seen the young man look so good.
Next up? Pasedena, California!! Can you feel the excitement?!
{Update on Kristy Gray? What a woman! She was watching the game in her hospital room! They have her sitting up today, but pain has been a real issue. She and Brian have a tough road ahead. The funeral for their two year old daughter will be December, the 16th. We would appreciate each and every prayer for this precious Christian couple in the face of such tragedy. They continue to praise the goodness of our God. Take that, Satan.}

What To Do ~

I love my rabbit picture. I really do. But not at Christmas. I used to swap out pictures, and then we downsized and I got rid of lots of stuff. Do I miss them? No, I don't. But at Christmas I didn't want rabbits over my metal trees. And Santa. So what to do?!
I wrapped it! Like a present! And I wrapped another one in the guest bath! And I like it! Especially since there aren't any presents under the tree. We have them on the walls!
It's been a quiet, cold, windy day here in our fair city. I slept late and woke to the smell of coffee! I love the way that man fixes coffee. Our favorite football team rolled over Florida to snag the SEC title. Again! And now I'm feeling sleepy and comfy. What a really neat kind of day.

It's Christmas at the Hood's ~

It's Christmas! and the tree is up~
Even the Christmas elf is watching to see
what he can report back to Santa on!
Here's to enjoying the holidays
with calmness, laughter, delight,
and prayers of thanksgiving.
What a beautiful time of the year~
**Update on Kristy Gray: she came through both surgeries well; one to repair the damage to her back and spine, the other to repair the shoulder and clavical; both sets of surgeons are claiming success; Brian's father is asking special prayers tonight for Brian, as I'm sure the events of the last few days is just now catching up with him; I shall keep you posted. Please keep this sweet christian family on your prayer list. There is a post below that will give you an address and links for further info and ways to help. To God be the Glory!**

just because we need a smile ~

Do you think she found out?
* * * * *
{I'm sure I'm not the only one that was appalled first of all that he had a mistress, then to find out he had TWO?! What was the man thinking?! That they WOULDN'T TALK?! and that she WOULDN'T find out?! Sheez, can we say dumb?!}
And please pray for Kristy Gray today as she has her first surgery to correct the damage to her broken back. This young couple has a difficult road ahead and needs our help. The prayers of the righteous availeth much. Thank you for what you've done, for continuing to do.

Happy Birthday, sweet 'laina

Oh, sweet girl, I remember the day you were born. We entertained your big brother while we waited for news that you were here! What a joyous day it was for all of us. You love your family and adore Austin. There is nothing that misses you and you are such a snugglebunny.
Looking at you is like looking at a mini version of your mother and the two of you have such fun together. She loves you dearly and delights in having a princess in the house!
We are so thankful you are in our world. Your Pa and Nan love you and look forward to watching you walk boldly through life. Happy Birthday, 'laina!

~ from The Letter Writer ~

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