Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Are you ready?

If you've been waiting to make your year-end gifts, you can make a gift in 2008 to Children's HopeChest on our Web site before midnight tonight.


Millions of us are tying up the loose ends of 2008 in these last few hours and reflecting on a year full of turmoil and history. But for me, 2009 looks certain.

I am certain that God will continue using Children's HopeChest to redeem and restore orphans. And, I'm certain that you will join us in that important mission.

I don't know what shape it will take. I eagerly anticipate the opportunities we'll face because I know you are among the thousands of people who are making God's promises real to children in Russia and Swaziland and Ethiopia and Uganda.

Join me in praying for those children, and asking our Father to pour His blessing upon their lives as we minister together in His favorite fields.

Don't forget: There is still time to make a year-end gift to Children's HopeChest.


Checks bearing today's postmark will be counted toward your 2008 giving record. Or make a gift immediately on our secure donation Web site.

Thank you for standing with us as ministry partners in 2008, and helping us set the stage for 2009. May God richly bless you and your family in the New Year.

For the Fatherless,
Tom Davis

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


One of my most fabulously fun friends is named Rhonda. But to my blushing shame, I often call her Robin. How bad is that? I mean, I somehow communicate with this woman nearly every single day...sometimes numerously...either thru email, over the phone, or face to face. And yet, this amazing, unique woman gets called by the wrong name. A lot.

Now I know it's not just me. Yeah, my kids do it. But then I can take the blame for setting such a turrble example.

But what about if it's someone not even in our circle? Someone I've never even met?

See, my fabulously fun friend Rhonda is also very smart and talented. And just this month, INTERNET CAFE has featured one of her devotions on their website. And guess what? Yep, you guessed it. In her little bio piece at the end, she was called ROBIN!!!

Now Robin, uh, I mean, Rhonda, has told me that her sisters name is Robin and her whole life, folks called them by the wrong name.

So I'm thinking here. Her family gets their names mixed up. My kids and I get the name wrong. And an internet writer somewhere gets her name wrong. And the kids, the writer, and I have never even MET her sister Robin. Yet we all call Rhonda Robin.

Sounds to me like their names got switched at birth.

But, you know that old saying ...a Robin by any other name is still just as sweet. So Rhonda or Robin...whichever I call you, you're still just as sweet and beloved by me.

BTW, check out Robin/Rhonda's devotion over at Internet Cafe, and if you leave a comment, tell her that Elisha, er, no, that's Eliza, ummm, Alyssa, no, hmmm, Elsa, Elijah, nab'it...ELYSA sent you!

(And yes...all those names listed above are actual names that people have called me...truly...I wouldn't lie about such a thing.)

Monday, December 29, 2008



Just spotted this article by Matthew Parris in the Times Online. It's a
great contrarian point of view. Missionaries have done a lot of good and have
gotten a bad rap for all their effort. Usually all you ever hear is how
paternalistic and culturally invasive missionaries are. Parris, a
confirmed atheist, finds that even the spiritual changes missionaries have
brought in Africa have been a positive thing.

"Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.
It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling
in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my
life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood.
It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view,
and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do.
Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes
people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The
change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing. "

To read the rest of the article, go here:

Sunday, December 28, 2008


My friend Karen and her incredible honey of a hubby love the life God has given them raising their two oldest granddaughters. Their oldest one is known as Piglet on Karen's blog, FRESH FIXINS. Karen shared this amazing Christmas mirace story involving Piglet on her blog and I just had to share it here:

The weather is wacked, I turned on the AC because it's hot in here. This is the same place that had a cold front blow through and we were in the twenties. Hard to believe isn't it?

But wacky weather doesn't hold a candle to what happened to Piglet this week. I believe that somewhere I have mentioned that my oldest, littlest, likes to keep busy and works at a hip deli. The Newks, Primos, Panera, kind of happenin' place. She works her little keester off.

The night before Christmas she came home and went straight up to Papa, she had a lot on her mind. She called a family meeting. I'm thinking to myself, what's up is she engaged? No, Nannie chill out. Well, it could happen, she's adorable.

What's a Nannie to think?

She was very serious so I quit with the kidding around. I really couldn't believe my ears, you won't either. Piglets story started with her sharing that her bank account was overdrawn. Oh dear not good, sounds like Nannie math. I have learned however to shut up in these sessions and just wait. It completely goes against my nature not to start in with the, "if you can't add and subtract close the stinkin bank account." You know the kind, gentle, sympathetic, approach, NOT. She elaborated that not only was she overdrawn by a hundred dollars she thought that God was impressing upon her to help the children of Africa.

You guessed it, this is the part where I go ballistic and talk about starting out by helping yourself, learn to add and subtract and be responsible with your money. Actually I had overdrawn accounts more than I care to confess, which is why Papa manages the money. My excuse is that I'm dyslexic and easily mess up decimal points. Your not buying that? Neither does the bank. As usual I digress. I should rename my blog, "I digress." This story is not about the dyslexic grandma. It's about Piglet.

Piglet continued, I prayed about what God was telling me, and told Him that if he would help me fix my bank account and give me the money to help the children in Africa then I would do it.

"So today I'm waiting on this man and his daughter and he offers me a tip, and it was a hundred dollar bill!"

" I was so freaked out that I just left it on the table!"

"All the other servers are saying to me, aren't you going to pick up the money?"

"I went back to the table and the man said to me, "You haven't taken your gift."

" I looked at him and said, "Are you a Christian?'

He replied, "Yes, I am" and smiled.

From here Piglet started talking faster. She relayed to the man how she was overdrawn and how she had prayed, and that God wanted her to help the children of Africa. She said that he picked up the tip and placed it into her hand. She continued to wait on them. When he left he pressed a ROLL of money into her hand and said,"This is for the children of Africa, dear girl."

He gave her $800.

In the middle of Mississippi in a deli.

Go ahead, pinch yourself.

Ok so now the dear girl is asking her Pa and her Nan what to do. She says that because of her prayer and what the man said that she thinks the right thing to do is give all of it minus the first hundred for her account to the children of Africa.

Now this is where her Nannie gives her the godly advice.

Actually no, I didn't. I was thinking this girl drives this little funky car and has little to no money and school starts in a couple of weeks and that we could use the help with books. After all if this guy has so much money he can send money to Africa without going through her. I mean shoot fire, this was a god send to help her, wasn't it?

Pa and Piglet looked at me like I had come from another planet. Nannie, she says, "he told me the money was for the children in Africa, he didn't say it was for me."I was speechless.

The girl has integrity. In my heart, I heard, "this is a test." I left the room and went to the bathroom. I have a lot of arguments with the Lord in the bathroom.

Lord why would you do this? "It's a test."

Well Lord, I'm glad you didn't do this to me because I'd flunk.


"Do you think this my last $800?"

"No, Lord, it is not."

I went out of the bathroom and apologized to Piglet. I told her to do what she thought was right. I was of course late, because she and her Pa had already decided that.

With the internet a person can do things immediately. Piglet went downstairs and gave the designated funds to the children of Africa. Minus her overdraft. Immediate obedience.

Somewhere, no credit to me, something has gone very right. This is the child of my daughter, the daughter who hasn't spoken to us in years, the crack addict. This is the child who I have prayed for. I was so humbled. Awed. This child acted with great faith. There is no telling what God will be able to do in her life. Amazing.

And somewhere in Africa, poor children are receiving food, warmth, maybe medicine, and hope. God multiplies gifts. This gift may go on to do huge unimaginable things, that we won't know about until our King comes back for us.

He pressed the gift into her hand, "for the children." and she obeyed.

It's a beautiful thing. Merry Christmas.

From Karen at

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I always send out cards. Some years I send out between 125 to 150. And a Christmas newsletter is also a seasonal tradition.

Not this year.

I did good to get 3 cards out in the mail on Monday and not even the first line of my news family letter has been written...or in my case, typed.


I really like the tradition of cards and newsletters. I hang the ones up that we receive and I like picking out just the right cards to suit different categories of families and friends.

I thought I was simplifying this year. It seems like we bought less presents. The older kids are at that age where they can really help out with tree decorating, making sweets, babysitting while I shop, and so on. But despite the fact that December has the same number of days in it leading up to Christmas Day this year as all other years, it just didn't seem that way.

I started getting that stressed-out-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach feel a few days ago about all the things I had left to do...especially the cards and letters and photos I had hoped to get printed off and put in for some folks, especially my Swazi friends.

Finally, I just had to accept the fact that it wasn't going to happen. At least not before Christmas this year.

And I'm trying to be okay with that.

I'm not perfect.

I still sometimes want to think that I am.

I want to do all those things that people expect of me and I expect of myself. I want my friends and family members to have a tangible sign at Christmas that I'm thinking of them, that I love them, and that I'm grateful for them.

But this year that tangible sign just isn't going to happen.

Yeah, it would have happened if I'd lost some sleep or read a few less books to the Hobbit Baby or didn't spend so much time sending fun emails and messages to friends online or, or, OR! But the fact is, there's just so much time in a day. And I'm not organized. And I like my sleep. And I like to read. And I like to DAILY keep up with my friends and family via phone calls, emails, visits, park days, and facebook.

So...because of this I've not got my cards and letters sent out.

Yeah, I'm frustrated about that.

But I'm trying to be okay with it.

And I'm hoping and praying that I'm living love and gratitude year round to those people I care about. I know that there are those loved, long distance friends that truly only hear from me at Christmas, but hopefully they are in the very small minority. I'm hoping the rest of the folks are seeing in how I live that I love them and treasure them even if I didn't send them a card...yet...or ever this year.

And hopefully those that rarely hear from me will have the grace to forgive me for my lack of correspondence.

Because really it all boils down to this....Father God sent His only begotten Son Jesus to this world because people like ME need Him really badly. I'm a mess at times. But He loves me anyway.

That's true undeserved gift simply because He treasures me.

There are so many I treasure out there. I don't always deserve their love, commitment, and friendship. But when they give it to me despite my mess-ups, then that God-originated grace is so beautiful.

To all of you I hope you have a very wonderful Christmas. I am so grateful for my family and friends. They are some of my very favorite gifts from the Father...even if I don't send them a card.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

CHRISTMAS SOMETHINGNESS (or A's Guide to Christmas Music)

Ok, if you read this blog AT ALL you will know by now that this is NOT Elysa posting. Nooo. It is her fifteen year old daughter who has been babysitting her little siblings all day (and is now driving! Scary happiness) so her mother could go and buy her something for Christmas. She (my mother, not me) called and begged (bribed) me to do this 'cause she can't go a day without at least one thing being posted on her blog. So now, I am posting for her. But it's gonna be quick 'cause I seriously need to watch some Batman/Bruce Wayne/Christian Bale.

Hmmm....something Christmas-y. What should it be? A dorky poem? A stupidly sweet story? A gag-me-I'm-choking-on-happiness-and-good-feeling song? I know! A rant against such a song. Yeah! And the obvious choice is "Christmas Shoes". Just the name is enough to send me into convulsions. I mean, honestly people, how can someone enjoy that heinous song? It's so sweet. And full of love, good nature, happiness, little smiling sweet kids and a message. Ugh. Just what I need to turn me off holidays forever. For someone ilit who has no idea what I'm talking about I'll post the revolting lyrics:

It was almost Christmas time
There I stood in another line
Tryin' to buy that last gift or two
Not really in the Christmas mood
Standing right in front of me
Was a little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing 'round like little boys do
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes
His clothes were worn and old
He was dirty from head to toe
And when it came his time to pay
I couldn't believe what I heard him say

Sir, I want to buy these shoes
For my mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes
Are just her size
Could you hurry, sir?
Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful
If mama meets Jesus tonight

He counted pennies
For what seemed like years
Then the cashier said
Son, there's not enough here
He searched his pockets frantically
Then he turned and he looked at me
He said mama made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without
Tell me sir, what am I going to do?
Somehow I've got to buy her
These Christmas shoes

So I laid the money down
I just had to help him out
I'll never forget the look on his face
When he said
Mama's gonna look so great

Sir, I want to buy these shoes
For my mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes
Are just her size
Could you hurry, sir?
Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful
If mama meets Jesus tonight

I knew I'd caught a glimpse
Of heaven's love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just
What Christmas is all about

Sir, I want to buy these shoes
For my mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes
Are just her size
Could you hurry, sir?
Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful
If mama meets Jesus tonight

So there's the story. A worldly man, caught up in his own life and problems is made to see beyond himself and reminded of the true meaning of Christmas by a little boy who just wants to buy a pair of shoes for his dying Mama. sweet. Ick.

Ok, first of all, that little kid is sooo gonna grow up and be a beggar. I know the way his kind works (Trust me. I live with one.). How do we know his Mama's really dying? How do we even know he has one?? And what's wrong with that Dad? Letting his kid panhandle off some stranger? That's how Al Capone started, I just know it. And again, I do not like being preached at. And that is soo what this song is doing. Awful how we are manipulated.

Well now that I have saved you all from the sickly sweetness of "Christmas Shoes" I'll give you some real X-Mas music. And by the way, don't anyone start in on me about how I'm "taking Christ out of Christmas by using an X". Do any of you even know how that started? No, you don't so I'll tell you. X was the Roman letter for Christ (and maybe perfection?) so I am not taking Christ out of anything.

Anywho, for the traditionalist that likes all that "White Christmas" stuff, try "Baby, it's Cold Outside". It's a pretty little song that everyone knows, but has anyone really payed attention to the lyrics ("Gosh, your lips look delicious!" "Hey, what's in this drink?")??? It might surprise you. *evil giggle*

For the person more into hymns and such, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" is the best. Hands down. It's melody---done right, I'm not advocating any of those "modernized" ones---is haunting and mysterious. Ready to compete with the best of Enya. It's lyrics are incredibly inspiring and hopeful, but with an edge to them that gives a bite. Read this excerpt:

O Come O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the son of God appear

Oh come Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife, and sorrow cease
Fill all the world with Heaven's peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Powerful stuff. And with the right singer you can feel the power even more.
Okyday, on to more "modern" stuff. This song is so "modern" it just came out this year! It's a really cute song, really different, but NOT all surpy. It's by Captial Lights and called "His Favorite Christmas Story". A warning, the lyrics might be slightly sweet (with a definite "Awww" factor) but it's tune is rockin!

He met her up in Delaware in 1937
She was wearing red lipstick to match her pretty dress
December 24th at a quarter till eleven is when he finally gained the courage to ask her to dance

It was the night before Christmas, it was love at first sight
The carolers sang as they danced through the night
She was a small town girl, he was a traveling guy
He never caught her name before they said their goodbyes

A couple years later he was out on the road
Having Christmas dinner in a diner alone
When he saw a young waitress with a gleam in her eye
Her favorite day of the year she showed her spirits were high
She said sir can you shed a little hardy cheer
A simple Christmas story was all she wanted to hear
He looked prepared with a smile as he started to say here's my favorite Christmas story about a Girl with No Name

He said I met her up in Delaware in 1937
She was wearing red lipstick to match her pretty dress
December 24th at a quarter till eleven is when I finally gained the courage to ask her to dance

Every holiday season as he traveled he'd tell about his Christmas dance partner that he never knew well
He'd share his favorite story with the locals he met
He was called the Christmas story tellin traveling man

By age 53 he had done settled down
All the neighborhood kids liked to gather around
Just to listen to his stories about his life on the road
All he had now were these children he told
And every Christmas eve they showed up before dark
He'd tell them all the story but they knew it by heart
They could quote it word for word, he always told it the same
It was his favorite Christmas story called The Girl with No Name

He said I met her up in Delaware in 1937
She was wearing red lipstick to match her pretty dress
December 24th at a quarter till eleven is when I finally gained the courage to ask her to dance

Twenty years later as he took his last breath
It was on a cold Christmas morning on a hospital bed
The children were grown, he had nobody left
Except the little old nurse who was holding his hand
He said Ma'am can you share a little hardy cheer
A simple Christmas story was all he wanted to hear
But his eyes filled with tears at the words that she spoke
Because his favorite Christmas story was the one that she told

She said I met him up in Delaware in 1937
Though I never caught his name he was a traveling man
December 24th at a quarter till eleven
I'm so glad he got the courage to ask me to dance

Ok, even I have to say it: Awwww! That's so sweet/sad! But now the sweetness is done and it's time for my tongue-in-cheek Christmas song. The Oogie Boogie Man's Song!

Well, well, well, what have we here?
Sandy Claws, huh?
Oh, I'm really scared
So you're the one everybody's talkin' about, ha, ha
You're jokin', you're jokin'
I can't believe my eyes
You're jokin me, you gotta be
This can't be the right guy
He's ancient, he's ugly
I don't know which is worse
I might just split a seam now
If I don't die laughing first
When Mr. Oogie Boogie says
There's trouble close at hand
You'd better pay attention now
'Cause I'm the Boogie Man
And if you aren't shakin'
Then something's very wrong
'Cause this may be the last time now
That you hear the boogie song, ohhh
Ohhh, he's the Oogie Boogie Man
Well if I'm feelin' antsy
And there's nothin' much to do
I might just cook a special batch
Of snake and spider stew
And don't ya know one thing
That would make it work so nice?
A roly-poly Sandy Claws to add a little spice
Oh, yeah
Oh, yeah, I'm/he's the Oogie Boogie Man
Release me now
Or you must face the dire consequences
The children are expecting me
So please come, to your senses
You're jokin', you're jokin' I can't believe my ears
Would someone shut this fella up I'm drownin' in my tears
It's funny, I'm laughing
You really are too much
And now, with your permission I'm going to do my stuff
What are you going to do?
I'm gonna do the best I can
Oh, the sound of rollin' dice
To me is music in the aor
'Cause I'm a gamblin' Boogie Man
Although I don't play fair
It's much more fun, I must confess
When lives are on the line
Not mine, of course, but yours, old boy
Now that'd be just fine
Release me fast or you will have to
Answer for this heinous act
Oh, brother, you're something
You put me in a spin
You aren't comprehending
The position
That you're in
It's hopeless, you're finished
You haven't got a prayer
'Cause I'm Mr. Oogie Boogie
And you ain't going nowhere

Mwahahaha!!!! *evil laughter!* The Boogie Man (Oops, I mean, Oogie Boogie Man) has kidanapped "Sandy Claws"! Mwaahahhaahha! I love it.

(Insert Mother Alert Disclaimer: Don't worry, this traditional, Christmas-loving Mama has NEVER let her darling, sweet daughter watch the movie this song is from! She might turn to the dark side or something.)

So there's something Christmas-y. And it took a long time too! I so don't think I'm gonna have time to watch Batman. Oh well. This was actually kinda fun. Later!

Monday, December 22, 2008


I love reading my daughter B's blog. I learn things about her I never knew...and I frequently laugh. She's really got a unique way with words and her writing is a good reflection of her fun-loving, spunky, creative, BIG personality. She recently did one of those "meme" things related to Christmas over at her blog. Here's what she has to say about some Christmasy things:

1. What is your favorite part of Christmas: The smell of the
Christmas tree. The fire blazing. Hot coco in warm mugs. The chilly air and cold cheeks. Everyday Winter happy stuff like that :)

2. Where do you go on Christmas: This year my cousins.

3. What do you want most for Christmas: A bike (I totalled
) and a hedgehog.

4. What is your fave Christmas movie: It's A Wonderful Life & A Muppets' Christmas Carol

5. What is your second fave Christmas movie: Drummer Boy
(he's so-oooo adorable!)

6. Am I going on and on about Christmas movies: Maybe......

7. How many people do you have to buy presents for: A lot. I
have a BIG family and quite a few friends/penpals. I'm broke! WAAAH!!!

8. What is your fave thing to do in the snow: Go SLEDDING! Or
wage a snowball war with my little brothers, the suckers. Mwahaha! (That is, IF it snows...)

9. What is your fave Christmas carol: Not quite sure. But I DO
know that by January I'm sick of 'em.

10. Do you like this Christmas Tag so far: Yup.

11. Have you gotten a Christmas Tree yet: Yes. We cut it down
last Saturday. We named it George :)

12. Have you ever built a gingerbread house: Yes. I got candy
and icing everywhere. (Of course!) But then we forgot to eat it in time and it went rock-hard. Sadness...

13. Is there snow on the ground right now: Nope. It melted. Is
a white Christmas too much to ask for?!

That's my girl! Gotta absolutely love her.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Today has been a wondrously ENFP (Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiver) kind of day! After starting out the weekend so very, very sick and then having to miss the Wingard Christmas Festival yesterday due to still getting over the remnants of the bug, today was definitely a great way to end the weekend and gear up for Christmas Day!

This morning, our church had a sweet baby dedication plus it's annual Christmas musical program. We're all a bunch of amateurs and we mess up quite a bit, but it's still fun, sweet, and worshipful...even the silly parts are worship as we enjoy laughing as people free in Christ can. The whole family plus son D's friend Desmond piled on the stage to sing Some Children See Him while a slide show of kids from all over the world (including plenty of Swazi darlings) plus our church and family kids played behind us. Hubby also did a medley of Christmas carols on his Fender Stratocaster. He was nervous but we were all proud of him for stepping WAY out of his comfort zone. He did some pretty cool things with that electric guitar. Silent Night's never sounded quite the same before. The preteen girls class did a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas and daughter A exuberantly with much joy (not) helped out with that since her sister B was having a croaky voice. Son P and Daughter LG's class sang a praise-version of Jingle Bells. And the nursery kidlets (Baby Hobbit's class) sang Happy Birthday to Jesus at the very end. Plus there were many other performances including our worship leader singing A Baby Changes Everything that had me crying.

After the service, we had a big fellowship luncheon. That's ALWAYS a hit with our family.

Then we headed into inner-city Jackson. We delivered copious amounts of warm clothes donated by friends and friends of friends, gave bracelets to some of our special friends there (including darling Miss Mary who really needs a healing for her eyes), played with little ones, saw old friends from Calvary Chapel (The Wallaces), sang Christmas Carols, listened to Amy Lancaster preach on the subject of Christmas and God-given dreams, and did lots of hugging and Merry Christmasing.

At the end of the service, it was time to get home for our church youth group's Christmas party. Our youth group is very small, but with a few extras from here and there thrown in, we had a just-the-right-size crowd and after watching The Muppet's Christmas Carol, the LOUDEST game of Spoons EVAH took place around our vintage 60's coffee table. We met two of Anna's new friends ( RJ and Jay ) took lots of goofy photos and videos, watched crazy hard rock Christian videos, and I guzzled caffeine.

Did I mention that I was hyper, happy, and caffeinated? Yeah....this was my second round of caffeine of the day. Now for some of you heavy drinkers, that's no big deal. But I usually get caffeine a couple of times in a whole MONTH so needless to say, I'm feeling pretty good and energized about now.

So you can just imagine how "blessed" my extremely introverted, peopled-out, tired hubby is feeling right now. is good. GOD is good. And I'm so grateful for this life that He is giving me. Even on the sick days I know He's good and I love Him. But I'm surely grateful for the days when I'm not sick and I can do what I love the around people and love, love, love on them!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


On Thursday, I was at Wingard Home speaking with Charlotte Wingard about their upcoming Christmas Festival for needy children. Every year, the Wingards put on a huge Christmas party complete with games, a puppet show, sweets, presents, and a living nativity scene. Charlotte said that the nativity scene is always one of the biggest highlights of the occasion and really helps the kids, many of them unchurched, understand the true meaning of Christmas...the birth of Jesus and God's great love for the world and for them. They let the children even get in the nativity scene and have their photo taken. The kids LOVE this!

Here's where you come in.

At the last minute, a problem came up and the group who was going to do the nativity scene had to pull out. Yesterday, another church agreed to loan their costumes but we need people to WEAR the costumes! We need you, your kids, your neighbors, your youth come and stand there wearing Biblical costumes. But more than just standing there, you're helping some special children experience God's gift this Christmas season.

If you can be one of the nativity scene figures, PLEASE contact me ASAP! This is something individuals can do or their whole family. To be honest, I had originally told Charlotte on Thursday that if she'd find the costumes, my family would fill them.
Well now we can't because my husband Jim and I are both sick.

The Wingard Christmas Festival is today from 3 to 6 at the Trade Mart located at the fairgrounds. You'd need to be there by around 2:00.

Thank you so much!


P.S. Also, would you please pray that we'll find our Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds, and wisemen?

P.P.S. For more information on the festival, check out Charlotte's blog post:

Friday, December 19, 2008


WOW! I just realized that I've now reached 777 posts on my blog. How cool is that? Seven is a great number. I've got 7 kids. On the 7th day God rested (and I sure do love me some restin'!). And 7 in the Bible represents the number of completion or, if I'm remembering correctly, holiness.

So let's do something fun in honor of this day...hmmmm...let's see. Why don't I do a give-away?

But give away...what?

Bear with me as I go thru the brainstorming process here. This really is an impulsive act in the making.

Okay...I know! Since my blog is rather a random place....a spattering of this, a big dollop of that, and a huge chunk of some other things...why don't I make it a "random" package of 7 goodies? I'll try to include things that I post about most often.

Books. Africa. God. Food. Fun. Kids.

Don't worry, I won't ship a kid. But I'll include something that your kid or the kid in you will enjoy.

Some things may be "used"...but still useable....while other things will be brand new.

So if you're up for receiving a package of random surprises, just leave me a comment telling me so. If you leave me a comment telling me what kind of posts you like the best or if there is a specific one that you've enjoyed the most here at Graceland, I'll put your name in the proverbial hat twice!

I'll leave the contest open til Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and announce the winner on the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. After all, HE was the best present of all...even if He did surprise a lot of people with the way He came!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

...but this made me laugh:
"When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?" ~G.K. Chesterton
I think I would have really liked that man if I'd know him in real life...I know I like what he reveals about himself in his stories and other writings...even the ones that are so deep I'm not sure I even know what he's talking about!
Oh, and I leave you with another Chesterton quote, though it's not Christmasy:
"The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. "
What a guy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Last week I posted about Pastor Walter. I told you that his family had been robbed. The great news afterwards was that within just a couple of days, so many Christians around the world had chipped in money, that all their financial needs were over and abundantly provided for...even the cow for the church. Read his thank you note at Jumbo's blog post:

Today I was saddened to hear that once again Pastor Walter's home was attacked. Here are the details from Jumbo in Swaziland:

"To all of you who are praying so faithfully for us, I just want to thank each one of you. I also want to call each one of you to continue to pray for Pastor Walter and his family. I just got of the phone with Lelo and he informed me that the same guys that robbed Pastor Walter a week ago has returned.

Lelo caught 3 of the five guys that robbed Walter, but the other 2 returned and tried again to get into his house. Because some of you were so gracious to give some money, we were able to secure Walter's house. So they could not get into the house, but they tried to break through the wall with a pick ax and threw stones through the windows. One of the stones hid Nomsa, but she is okay. The family is very shocked. We moved Walter and his family to one of our team houses and they will stay there for now. The past events are very worry some for us and I believe that we need to step up to the plate and start praying against what is happening.

I believe that the jealousy in this community and the attitude of "everyone should rather have nothing, than someone having something" is spiritual strongholds that can be broken through prayer and trusting the Lord to give us the answer. So please join us in spending time with the Lord and praying specifically for the victory over these strongholds in the community.

Thank you that we can share this with you and that we can know that many of you will intercede on behalf of one of our main ministry partners in Swaziland. Let's overcome this giant together. "

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Very Brady (and Billy) Christmas!

Yesterday I introduced you to two people that are really blessing me this Christmas season, Dudley and Inge Donaldson. They leave in just a couple of weeks to begin a new life in Swaziland. I shared one story with you and now I've got another one from Dudley, a REAL "Christmas Shoes" one.

Are you at all like me? Do you find that
Christmas can sometimes bring
so much work
and stress that there ends up being very little
joy? I feel
guilty about even writing that, because—
after all—Christmas is the
of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. But,
come on, how
many of us really focus—I
mean really focus—on the reality of God
to earth as a helpless baby and all that
means? More often, aren’t
we caught up, along
with the rest of our culture, in doing the
thing—Christmas gifts, Christmas cards/
Christmas decorations, Christmas
baking, Christmas gatherings far and
Christmas programs at church, Holiday programs
at school...the
Christmas list goes on
and on. All those things can help enhance
celebration of Jesus’ birth, but they can also
divert our attention
from Christ himself.

Aren’t we really trying to capture or create
an image of Christmas
that can only be found
in Hollywood movies or Ideals magazines?
Why do you
think they call it Ideals? We try
so hard to capture the Magic of Christmas
of course, Madison Avenue keeps urging us
along. Perhaps we should
just stop trying so

Back in September, Inge and I were invited
to the fall kick-off of
the children’s ministry at
a local church. We were the missionary
for the event and we enjoyed spending time
with the children as
they tasted Swaziland’s
staple food—pap—which is cornmeal mixed
water, followed by a much more palatable
treat—ice cream. Later, with the
clock racing
and children getting antsy, we sped through
some slides of
Swaziland that included pictures
of some of the 65,000 orphans there.
mentioned that many of the orphans didn’t
have shoes to wear.

We learned later that two brothers—Billy
and Brady—went home and
told their parents
that they wanted to give their shoes to the orphans
Swaziland. So, just before Thanksgiving,
we met up with these two very
boys and their rightfully proud mom and we
received a large bag of
shoes the boys had collected.

We’ll be carrying the shoes with us to
Swaziland this month and will
attempt to personally
deliver them to the orphans. Now,
what do you think
Billy and Brady will remember
most about this Christmas? That’s
They gave a gift that meant something—
they gave from their hearts. Christmas
is all
about giving gifts, we just seem to go a bit

Yes, Christmas is all about gift-giving. God
gave the gift of His
Son—Jesus Christ—to a
hopelessly lost people—us. Our sinful,
prideful way of living had doomed us to eternal
punishment. But
Jesus came to take our
punishment Himself. So when we receive
God’s Gift
for ourselves, we are guaranteed
freedom, forgiveness, and life forever!
there’s a gift that keeps on giving!

I pray that you have received that gift for
yourself. If not, this
season of Christmas
would be the perfect time. Talk about an
Christmas! And what a great New Year to look
forward to! Have a very
Merry Christmas!

Dudley Donaldson

Monday, December 15, 2008


While living in Swaziland, it was common on Sundays to see droves of Zionists walking along the roadsides on their way to and from services. They were easily spotted because of their distinctive, often colorful "uniforms. I never knew how the Zionists came to be. I was told that they were a mix of Christianity and other beliefs. And I read about some of them in the newspapers...such as when someone was injured or killed because of being beaten by crosses because they thought it would cast out evil spirits. I knew that they were following, sometimes quite passionately, a form of religion that was misguided in its attempt to be make its members right with God.

But now I've learned something amazing. I've met via facebook a couple who are moving to Swaziland to minister to these very people. And what they have told me about the history of the Zionists and what God is doing among these precious lost sheep is incredible. As I read Dudley's account, I got chill bumps.

Here is Dudley and Inge's story, but it's something bigger than that. It's the story of a Father who never gives up on His children and is working to bring them back into a loving and right relationship with Him and each other.


In August 2007, a missionary our church supports in Swaziland came to report on the work he and his wife are doing there. There names are Bruce and Carol Britten. Bruce spoke in our morning service and told this incredible story.

In 1904, a church in Zion, Illinois sent a missionary to South Africa to start a church. Within two years, he had baptized around 5,000 new believers. But then the church in Zion ran into some financial difficulties and they recalled their missionaries. So, most of these 5,000 new believers were left behind with no Bibles, and no instruction to help them grow in their faith.

Fast-forward about 70 years. Around 1980, someone from South Africa traveled to Zion, Illinois and arrived at the church that had originally sent out the missionary. He asked if they were aware there was a church in South Africa that was using their name. As it turned out, that group of about 5,000 people has today grown into a spiritual movement of almost 18 million people spread across southern Africa, who all point to that church in Zion as the foundation of their faith. They call themselves "Zionists" for that reason. These people are divided up into thousands of churches and denominations, each with a tribal pastor in place.

Over the generations, however, with no Bibles and no discipleship, the Zionists (or amaZioni) have incorporated many false beliefs into their churches—things such as ancestor worship, animal sacrifice, and even witchcraft and voodoo. So, what the Zionists believe and practice is no longer true Christianity. But the Zionists remain
staunchly loyal to Zion, Illinois. In fact, over the decades, numerous
evangelical groups have attempted to win the amaZioni people out of what is
considered a cult. But they will not listen to anyone who is not from Zion.

Upon learning this, the church in Zion took responsibility for the
situation and began working toward an answer. They have partnered with several
organizations and mission agencies, such as The Evangelical Alliance Mission
(TEAM), to develop Bible colleges to train the pastors of the Zionist churches.
And since the pastors are so loyal to Zion, many of them are coming for training
at the schools because they are hungry for the truth of God’s Word. Many have
never read the Bible, much less been taught from it. Many are trusting Christ as
Savior for the first time, and then are going back to their congregations and
teaching them the truth of the gospel and many of them are coming to Christ! The
school in Swaziland has been operating for just over five years now and last
year saw its first graduating class.

That was the story Bruce told in the service I was attending. I couldn’t believe it! I thought, This is incredible! What an amazing opportunity! This is just unbelievable!

Now, let me interrupt the story to tell you a little about my life. I was raised in a Christian home, prayed to receive Christ as a child, was always in church, no big rebellion issues. I thought I was living for the Lord and serving Him faithfully through my early adult life. When I was 43, however, my world was shaken with the death of my wife, Mavis, from cancer. In the year that followed, I went through a very difficult grieving process. I fell into depression. As the Lord was bringing me
out of that, I began to take stock of my life and realized that there were areas
of my life where I had never given God full control. I had held onto control of
those areas. I realized I had not been serving God whole-heartedly. At the time,
I was no longer working in Christian radio. I was working for AT&T and (even
though they had been great to me during Mavis’ illness and death) I was
miserable in the corporate world. In desperation, I cried out to God and said,
"Lord, I’ll do whatever you want me to do and go wherever you want me to go, I
just want to serve you!" And I meant it with all my heart. I gave God complete
control of every area of my life.

That was in January 1997. The first thing He did was bring Inge back into my life after 17 years of no contact. We had been friends working at KTIS/Northwestern College in the late 1970s. Mavis and I had supported her when she first went to the mission field. She would visit us when she came home on furlough. Then we lost touch with her until the Lord brought her to my mind following my prayer of commitment to Him. Inge and I got reconnected as old friends and six months later we were married. Next, God got me back into Christian Radio at Pacific Garden Mission and the "UNSHACKLED!" radio drama. I served there as Program Manager for over six years. The Lord also allowed me to teach Bible classes to the men on the Bible program. Then, God called us to Eau Claire to work at WHEM—a little Christian radio station that had no budget to pay me. Still God always provided enough to meet our needs.

So, it was with this track record of faith over the previous ten years
that I heard Bruce Britten tell the amazing story of the amaZioni in Swaziland.
Now, over the years, I’ve heard hundreds of missionaries speak. And quite often
I would think to myself, Is this for me? And almost immediately I would say, No,
not me! That’s not for me! But now, after giving God full control of my life and
seeing Him do great things in me and through me, as Bruce spoke I said to
myself, Is this for me? And guess what I said this time. I said, No way! Not me!
That’s not for me! God was speaking to my heart and I pushed Him away just like
all the other times.

So, by the time the service was ending, I had already dismissed God’s call. So, when Bruce ended by saying, "You know my wife and I can’t keep doing this on our own much longer. We really need another couple to come and join us—and I’d love it to be a couple from this church…" I had already pushed God away. So, the service ended and I was walking to the back of the sanctuary while Inge, who is the Office Administrator, went off to take care of her responsibilities. As I walked toward the back, I saw John Schone standing at the end of the aisle waiting for me with a big smile on his face. John and his wife, Lucia, are retired TEAM missionaries who spent over 30 years in Japan. They are both still very active for the Lord and we’ve grown very close to them over the past few years.

So John had this big smile on his face and I walked up to him and said, "What are you smiling at?

"Did you listen to what Bruce was saying?" he asked.

"I listened, but I just dismissed it," I said.

"Well, I think you should consider it, because when he was talking, all
I could see was the back of your head! I think God might want you to consider

"Well, I’ll pray about it," I said. And John said, "Well; let’s pray
about it right now!"

So John and Lucia got around me and prayed that we would be open to God leading us to Swaziland. And from that moment on, it just started bubbling inside me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Inge and I started praying about it and we both got excited about the possibility. After several weeks, we decided to apply to TEAM. We thought for sure that at our age they would find something wrong. But they didn’t. We sailed right through. In February we went through our first week of training. In the Spring we began raising support. We prayed that God would allow us to leave for Swaziland by the end of the year. In October, we had enough support to be invited to our final week of training. And by December 1st, we were able to reserve our tickets to leave for Africa on December 29th. Unbelievable!

What stands out for me in this incredible story is how gracious God is. I had shut Him off when He was calling me. I was ready to walk out of that building and never think of Swaziland again. But in His great grace, He placed a roadblock for me in the
form of John Schone! God could have let me go and used someone else, but by His
grace, He gave me a second chance to be blessed through following Him. I am so

So, in Swaziland, I’ll be teaching Bible courses to the Zionist
pastors enrolled in Zion Bible College. Inge will work in the office. We’ll be
there soon with a commitment for a minimum of two years.

God is so good and I'm so thankful for people like Dudley and Inge who are willing to let Him use them in His amazing love story.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith

Saturday, December 13, 2008


For those of you who are regular visitors to Graceland, you know that our family has been blessed to become a part of the WINGARD HOME ministry located in the heart of Jackson. The Wingards are literally living sacrifices for the glory of the Lord and His precious "least of these". Charlotte recently posted this news about their Christmas ministry. Maybe you'd like to be a part?

We have a Christmas program in it’s 19th year of existence. It is the HAPPY
BIRTHDAY, JESUS! FESTIVAL. Through God’s guidance, we comb the surrounding
communities and find children who are very much in need of things for Christmas.
Now, I say things because, sometimes the three Christmas wishes we ask the
children for consist of clothing, homework supplies, warm bedding, personal care
items…….in other words, necessities! There are toy and bike wishes, too ….and
skates, skateboards, CD players, etc.

We target the children or grandchildren of working parents or grandparents. The people our ministry helps (through you, of course) are the folks who are trying to provide and are just temporarily in dire straits. In other words, trying to work a start-up job and attend school to do better for themselves OR grandparents who are still working a little or are disabled and trying to support a household full of grandchildren in order to keep them in the family. We go to the home and meet and talk to the parent, interview the children and find out what their Christmas wishes are and then invite them as special guests to the big party for baby Jesus. We find
special needs all the time by doing this …….like children without proper
bedding, homes with no furniture, homes needing heat or air. We are so moved by
the Christmas wishes we see from the children, that this is our most passionate
time of the year.

We have grand opportunities to show the love of Jesus
Christ at this time of year, so we want to grasp every opportunity that God
gives us to bless families. Won’t you join us! You will be so blessed that this
will undoubtably become a “family tradition” for your family, too!

We call the children who need sponsors, “Little Lambs” because Jesus is called the “Lamb of God”. We have written the wishes of the children on lamb-shaped cards and placed them on a Christmas tree at the Flowood Wal Mart on Lakeland Drive. If
you are local, I challenge you to go out and sign up to adopt the wishes of
one of these children. If you are not local, and want to have a hand in this
anyway, call me and I’ll work out something with you……the opportunities are
infinite!! The rewards are out of this world!!

Contact Info:

601-355-9589 OR 601-906-1976

Don’t let this opportunity slip by you……..we have 400 children and each one of them needs a sponsor..IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES!!!!

From the Front Lines,



Friday, December 12, 2008


This is Christmas singing like I've never heard before. These guys are not only very talented musically, they're a hoot, too! And of course, you know I'm loving the part about "Christmas down in Africa".


Thursday, December 11, 2008

YES! Snow, Snow, SNOW!!!!!

It snowed today!!!! 'Nuff said for now. More details to come tomorrow! YAY!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

...into a Christmas past. Here's my sweet daughter B about 10 years ago. What a cutie!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Today my 2nd born son entered the double digit years. Yep, he's now 10! Wow! Below are a few photos from his much younger years.

But here he is today THRILLED with his birthday gifts. He received a Lego set from his Grandmommy (my mom), a Wii game from Grandma Chris (paternal grandmother), and his siblings chipped in for the WALL-E DVD. His daddy and I gave him his first pocket knife and a cap with a light on it. He also had some other money from his Great Aunt Cathi (Chris's sister) and Grandma Little Mac (my grandma) that he used to get a new Wii sensor board. He was one happy guy!

Being close to Christmas and him wanting to have a big camp-over blow-out to celebrate such a big milestone, we are waiting and having his party in January. In the meantime, we celebrated with just the immediate family. It's a tradition around here that the kids get to pick the menus for their birthday day, within reason. He picked waffles (frozen....believe me, making homemade for this many takes TOO long...I'm just sayin'), bacon, and eggs for breakfast and afterwards he opened his gifts. For lunch we ate pizza and PoPcOrN while watching WALL-E in the living room. And supper was homemade macaroni and cheese...with sweet peas. The peas weren't his idea, but the mom in me insisted.

He also had an unexpected happening...he got to have his daddy with him for part of today. He was supposed to have flown out early this morning for a business trip but a mix up with the tickets left him grounded. So though that was a bit of a bother, it was nice having him here for the special day.

He's also received phone calls from my dad, our good friend Chris Blackburn from Calvary Chapel, and my mom.

AND...I didn't make him do math today.

All in all, a very nice birthday.

Below are some snapshots from his younger years. Some of them are pretty blurry. That's what happens when I take photos of photos. Some of them are clear proof that I desperately need to be doing more dusting around here.

One year my Cousin Beth and I gathered all the kids together for a group shot. We did this as a special gift for our Grandma Harvey.

Below is a photo taken of my four oldest kids, my Cousin Kim's kids, and my Cousin Cindy's son at my Cousin Melissa's wedding.

Here's the birthday boy being loved on by Karen over at Fresh Fixin's. Karen has known him since he was just a baby back during our Calvary Chapel days.Another Calvary Chapel family that spent a lot of time holding and loving on him was my bff Kelly's family. Here he is with her oldest daughter who is now a college freshman. Don't you love her blue hair ribbons?The two "big" brothers. Yes, it's crowded around here but we did not make them share the same crib, but older brother D found it a lot of fun to jump in their with P.This is one of the last photos of my Grandma Harvey taken with my kids. She was then living with my Aunt Barbara on Belle Fountain Beach in Ocean Springs. She passed away not too long after this. She was a great lady and I'm glad that at least some of my children were blessed with knowing her love and zest for life.What a cutie pie! Of course, I still think he's pretty darn cute.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! Your dad and I love you so much!!!

Monday, December 08, 2008

The biggest sister and the littlest brother enjoy some sweet Christmas fellowship. Sure does do this Mama's heart some good.


Yesterday I posted about how Pastor Walter and his family were robbed in Swaziland. Today I received this update from a new friend, Deb Gangemi, of how folks can specifically help with this situation. I wanted to pass it on to my readers here at Graceland:

I heard from Jumbo Gerber on how we can best help Pastor Walter. (If you haven't heard about what happened, he was robbed two nights ago. The thieves took the money he had been saving to buy a cow for his church. You can read more on Jumbo's blog:

Here is a breakdown of the needs:

1) To replace the $540 stolen so the church can get the cow!
2) $350 to secure Pastor Walter's home.
3) $100 for a good cell phone

Tom Davis of Children's HopeChest told me donations can be made to Children's HopeChest by phone 719-487-7800 or by online donation by going to Click on the link on the right side of the page that says "Give", and in the notes section, put Pastor Walter's name.

I know we are all in the middle of Christmas shopping. I encourage each of us to consider giving a Christmas present to the man who is the pastor to the children and go-go's of Beveni Carepoint.

May you and yours be richly blessed with His brand of joy today!


Children singing and dancing at the carepoint where Pastor Walter and his family live.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I just read this blog post written by Adventures in Missionary staffer Jumbo Gerber:


Today was our last carepoint Christmas party and it went really well, but
this blog is not about the party. We will do one on Monday. But early this
morning I went to Pastor Walter's house to pick up him and his wife so that they
can be part of the last party. The news that awaited me there wasn't so good. At 4 am this morning men broke into their house, told Pastor Walter to keep quiet, otherwise they will shoot him; then they asked for the money of the bags /purses the ladies are making and the money the ‘white people' are giving them. Of course Pastor Walter didn't have any of these, but he was saving money to buy a cow for his church to celebrate Christmas. This was about R5000 or US $500 and the thugs got away with it. After they took the money they told Pastor Walter
that they will be back and they left.

Walter is of course upset, because he feels like he is trying to help
the community and this just happened to him and he is also afraid for the safety
of his family. (Luckily the children are unharmed and they slept through

By being one of our main ministry partners and by stepping up in the
community to make a difference, Pastor Walter has become a target for things
like this. Why? Because there is a misconception that he is receiving a lot of
money from us or ‘the white people'.

Please pray with us against this way of thinking and lies, that
something like this will not happen again, and for the protection of his family.

We are definitely going to help him make his house more secure. We do
not want a repeat of this and we want his family to be safe!

To find out more about Jumbo and Pastor Walter's ministries, to send them notes of encouragements, and to find out how you can be involved with what God is doing through them in Swaziland, visit Jumbo's blog:

By the way, if you've bought a Timbali purse, there's a good chance it was made by one of the women who live in Pastor Walter's community. We were able to visit there this past January and met many of the Timabli crafters.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


No, not his first as in "the first one he's ever seen" but his first one to ever draw! He's just not into drawing and it took some coaxing on my behalf, but once I convinced him that it was simply just a glorified green triangle, he was good to go.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Check out Steven Curtis Chapman's ALL I REALLY WANT FOR CHRISTMAS. I received it as a gift a couple of Christmas Eves ago, and believe me, it just doesn't get any better than this...especially if you're someone like me who has a heart for orphans.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Twenty years ago God blessed me when Denise Gregson (then Bouchard) befriended me. I was brand new to Swaziland and she took me out to her rural home to stay, introduced me to the folks who would become my Swazi family, and taught me so much about the Swazi culture and everyday life. She was one of the best parts of my two years in Africa.

She is still a blessing to me twenty years later.

She and her family serve as TransWorld Radio missionaries in Guam. She's the mom of two beautiful girls and enjoys creatively celebrating special occasions and holidays with her family and those that God has placed in her neighborhood, church, and homeschool group.

Today she sent me an email with the details and photos of an adorable, edible Christmas tree. I thought some of you might like to try it yourself.

Here's what Denise had to say:

We had fun putting this together. Easy to put together and healthy - a great
alternative for the usual Christmas sweets.

I made it from brocoflower, cherry tomatoes, black olives, yellow bell peppers.

Just cover a styrofoam cone with lettuce attached by toothpicks.

Then add the veggies on top. I blanched the brocoflower first a few seconds in salty boiling water and chilled before adding.

Got the idea here

How fun is that?!? And good for ya, too! Might even get the kids (and hubbies) to eat some veggies this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


The last couple of days had been emotional ones for me. I'd really been missing Swaziland and just feeling weepy about things. After a good two hour long phone talk last night with a kindred spirit and fellow Swazi tripper, Christi, my spirit was feeling so much better. She really helped me gain some Godly perspective and blessed me with the stories of how God was moving in her life.

And then this morning I woke up sick.


I've succumbed to the stomach virus that has struck down about half of my family. It's not a pretty sight...I can guarahnteee that (as Jerry Clower used to say). That said, it's still Christmas. And Christmas is my favorite time of the year so I wanted something Christmasy to blog about but not something that would require much eloquence.

My purty and fun-as-the-fair friend Rhonda (mentioned in yesterday's post) sent me a Christmas meme. I figured since most of the work was done, I could handle using it for today's post. I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you want to use it on your blog, feel free. Just let me know so I can enjoy reading your answers. We Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Perceivers get a kick out of this kind of stuff.

So here goes:


1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I like both, but having 7 kids and lot of others to wrap for means gift bags are faster and easier.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Definitely REAL! And I love going to a tree farm and picking out just the right one with the family.

3. When do you put up the tree? Whenever hubby's schedule will allow us to go get one sometime after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? I don't, hubby does (LOVE THAT MAN!) sometime during the first week or so of the new year.

5. Do you like eggnog? It has the word "egg" in it so the answer is obviously "no". Too many cases of egg-inflicted nausea during numerous pregnancies.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Too many wonderful ones to pick just one but the Barbies and baby dolls were always among my top favorites.

7. Hardest person to buy for? One of the grandparents who will remain unnamed.

8. Easiest person to buy for? Me! ;) LOL! I'm very easily pleased.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Definitely yes!

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Both.

11, Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Green socks in the school classroom gift exchange.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? CHRISTMAS WITH THE CRANKS

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I shop all year round. I LOVE buying gifts!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yepper.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Sausage balls, chex mix, venison sausage, cranberry meatballs, and rotel dip with tortilla chips. I know. I'm weird. And yes, I know that was more than one thing...but how can I choose just ONE favorite?

16. Lights on the tree? Absolutely! There is nothing like that initial tree lighting...especially with the little children oohing and aahing.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Traditional one is CAROL OF THE BELLS. Contemporary favorites are by Steven Curtis Chapman and Amy Grant.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Both.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
It's been different things over the years. I THINK that this year it's a big, silver star.

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? One gift Christmas Eve, the rest in the morning...though our gift exchanging gets spread out over a few weeks because of far flung extended family.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Greedy, materialistic attitudes.

23. Favorite ornament ? It's not just one particular ornament but one type, the "1st Christmas" ornaments for my 7 children. My mom gave each of them a Hallmark one after they were born and they are so sweet.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? We eat fancy sandwiches on Christmas Eve complete with gourmet cheeses and nice meats. But my very favorite Christmas dinner is the fried quail, country supper my Grandma McElhaney used to make every year. I miss it.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Books by Lisa Samson and Claudia Mair Burney, black socks, brown socks, and vanilla body spray. Ooh! I'd also love someone to paint our beyond-boring mailbox.

26. Shopping in stores for Christmas or on the Internet? Both.

27. Snow for Christmas or no snow? Snow but as that's never, ever happened in my life, I'm not counting on it.

28. Do you go to Church on Christmas day? No. Our church has it's special service the Sunday just before.

29. Fantasy Christmas gift? Loving families for every orphan child and airline tickets for my entire family to travel to Swaziland.

Who's next?