"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Making Memories

My daughter and I just got back from Rochester Hills Michigan where we spent Christmas with my oldest son and his family. Everyone, including Melissa had the sniffles. Melissa drove the whole way...and I thank her for being such a wonderful chauffeur. We hit a lot of ice and snow on the way up, and the slowest interstate traffic both ways. But she was an excellent driver!
While in Michigan, I got to watch my sweet granddaughter sit up - I got to hold her and watch her amazement about everything from her two brothers running around and around to the glow of the Christmas tree in her eyes. I'm excited about watching who she is going to be. Her first Christmas and I got to love on her.
I watched my youngest grandson Thatcher, begin to grow up...a sweet, lovable, out-going personality who took me from wanting to pinch his cheeks because he's so cute to wanting to wrap him up in my arms and just love on him when he would be sad. He's begun to roll his eyes like his mom, and make the cutest faces. He loves to joke and is just now exploring a range of feelings and emotions that have started to make him be more vocal and independent. He worships his big brother and loves his baby sister. He loves games and loves to play. He loves unabashedly and sometimes gets angry the same way. At five, he is just learning what he likes and dislikes. And he likes Caesar Salad and doesn't like having to go to bed.
Jack, my first grandchild. I bought him a pair of jeans and almost cried because they were so big. I know children must grow up, but sitting by his side listening to him read a book perfectly, made me realize he's growing up so fast. Jack, like his dad, is a deep thinker, he assesses the situation, ponders and then aptly makes decisions. He loves his brother and he absolutely will push the same if he gets in his way...but one thing I do know about Jack, he is equally and fiercely protective of his little brother and will always stand by him...which is an attribute that is hard to find these days...nothing learned...just a knowing within him. Jack will be a great president of the United States one day. And whether he's that, a scientist in a lab, a magician or a school teacher, he will be the best of the best...the leader...because he's just that way.

My daughter in law, Amy is a beautiful woman, inside and out. She is a great hostess and a great mom. I warmly laugh as I have watched her be the mom of my three grandchildren. She gets so enthusiastic when they learn something. She is a consummate cook, mom, wife and friend --and she loves my son. She is protective of her family. She, like her youngest son, loves life. Her excitement is contagious and her love is so special. I am so lucky that my son chose her to be his wife...every mother in law should have a daughter in law like Amy.
My oldest son Chris has always been a very determined, stoic man. He sets goals for himself and achieves them. He is a deep thinker and has always been able to figure out how things work. His oldest son inherited the "remembers everything and has an eye for details" gene from Chris. I've always slept well when I'm at his home, because I feel very safe and secure. He is a good dad to his children. He gives them freedom to explore, he teaches them to think for themselves and he loves them. He seems to have been born to be a daddy to these three children. I also watched him do little things for his wife...most guys wouldn't even think of--and even she didn't see what he did sometimes...but I did. After 12 1/2 years of marriage, he still looks at Amy with respect and awe and I'm so proud that he does. He loves God and has a very healthy fear of his Abba Father. Wow...I'm not sure I had anything to do with raising him.
My baby...my daughter...who loves her family so deeply. She adores her oldest brother. She competes with fierceness that is only reserved for him. Melissa is everything a mother would want for a daughter. She stands tall, she is independent (yet still needs her mommy) and she has a standard of living that she demands for herself. She is a great businesswoman, a leader, a warrior when she has to be and she has such a soft heart that gets hurt with unkind words and actions. She has never seen herself as beautiful as she is, and never has had the confidence in her personal life that she has in her business life. A child can hurt her feelings so deeply that it takes a long time for her to get past the pain. And yet, she has learned to swallow that pain and it makes her stronger for the next battle. She loves to push herself a little harder, to achieve a little better and to climb a little faster. I only wish I could be more like her.
Rochester Hills Michigan brought out a lot of memories...forever memories for me. I'm grateful that God has blessed me with such a warm loving family--a family worth making memories with.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Magic

When I was a little girl, I heard sleigh bells one night and knew it was Santa. I often think of the magic of Santa, the promise of gifts and the excitement within me that would happily take root in my heart and there was the feeling of complete bliss.

When I was a young single mother I remember one specific Christmas when we lived in the "Pennsylvania" house as I fondly call it. That morning early, I heard my children trying their best to be quiet, ripping through presents. I walked in, and the intense joy I felt as they heard my door slide open--and they stopped and looked up at me-- I saw the awe that was in their eyes. For just a moment, I felt what complete happiness feels like, and the excitment within me took root in my heart and there was that magical feeling of complete bliss.

And now I anticipate Christmas with my oldest son and his wife and my daughter and the joy and anticipation that two little boys will feel on Christmas morning when they open their Santa gifts. I know for just that split second, within my heart will be that magical feeling of complete bliss...and I welcome it.

Merry Christmas my friends and family...and may this Christmas bring you complete and magical bliss.
Ouida Ray

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A poem I wrote in 1984..repeated for the season

Born Again Christmas
by Ouida Ray...1984

The children are in their squeaky beds
(And I thank God they are there!)
A cup of coffee and I have a long night ahead
Wondering how to afford toys, from who knows where.

My eyes are closed...my prayers are silent.
Through my thoughts, God speaks to me.
"The gifts you give your children this Christmas eve night
Is to live each day as a Christian family."

"I know Lord," I say, "but they want....things."
He says, "Be still my love and see the Greatest Gift to thee,
Look beneath the tree so shining
My Son Jesus, in the scene of the Nativity. "

Christmas Morn is here, and listen to the noise!
No, dear reader, not of Christmas toys,
But the hand sewn dress, stuffed bears, used bikes and some poems,
Have given my children their Christmas joys.

The gleam in their eyes when I read the Bible
Lets me know, the Lord is right.
Things are not the essential this day
Compared to His Gift of Eternal Life.

Friday, December 12, 2008

thank you God

At the end of each year I begin to think of what I have...what has happened and what I thank God for.

I thank God each morning for my children. Chris is so handsome, such a good daddy and a good husband to his equally beautiful wife, Amy http://www.creolecrew.blogspot.com/. I remember so many years ago, before he even married he told me he didn't think he'd want to have children, because he didn't know how to be a good dad. It struck my heartstrings and if I remember, I think I said he had the best example in God as his Father and an earthly mom who tried to make up for the lack of a father-figure in his life. And now...here he is with three children of his own and they love him, because he figured out a long time ago how to be a good dad...relying on his "heavenly Daddy" to guide him. He has fought many battles and with God's armor and his loving wife by his side, he has been victorious. He is in law-enforcement and sees things we only think we've seen on TV. And yet...his sense of humor will keep you laughing. Chris cut a new path in raising his children...and I tell him often in private...but in public I just want him to know how proud I am of him.

I thank God for taking care of my children each morning. Geoff is my absolutely good-looking free spirited, beats to a different drum son. Geoff has been gifted with beautiful sea blue eyes, gifted with 6'2" height and has always since I can remember paved a new way to do things. As a child, he figured out on his own that he could clean his fork by not licking it, but by wiping it under his arm. (I often wondered where those stains came from!) Geoff moved to Wisconsin about 6 years ago, no family there--just beating a new path, and has become independent, strong and sustaining no matter what life hits him with. He has become very acquainted with a snow shovel, too! Geoff has more compassion for the underdog than anyone I have ever met. When he loves, he loves completely...when he's sad, he's completely sad, when he's happy, it's infectious. Of all my children, he reminds me of me. He is a lovely man, with a lovely heart, and I get to call him my son! I am so proud of him.

I praise God each morning and night that He gifted me with children. Melissa is my stunningly beautiful daughter. My baby. There are so many things she reminds me about when she was a child. She tells me things I don't remember...only because all I see is the purity and lovely woman of God she has become. I do, however, remember when she ran away from home. And I do, however, remember when at the age of four we had our first major battle of the wills and I lost. She is as stubborn as the day is long when she believes in something...and at four years old, she truly believed she didn't have to clean her room. After two weeks without dinner at night, I caved. Now, as a grown woman, you could eat off her ceiling. If you've ever heard Melissa sing, you know she has at least a 4 1/2 octave vocal range and can sing the blues, gospel, Celine Dion, Mariah, Cece Winans, Elvis and anybody else. I have a CD of just her music over the years. I listen to it often and still am amazed at the gift God gave her. I've told her often how I wish I could have been more like her when I was younger. She is out-going, loving and has friends all over the United States. I am so proud of her.

So when I start thinking of what I have to be thankful for I just remember...thank you, God.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Christmas Party

Tomorrow night I'm going to a Christmas Party. My sweet prayer partner and friend Gail and I are going to the 51+ Christmas Party at Bay Breeze in Hendersonville. We were asked to bring a mug to share (actually for someone to steal.)

Last year was my first year going to this party. My boss is the teacher of this class, and they had asked me year after year to come join them. I did last year and was shocked, surprised and delighted to see these people...all of them older than me, stealing mugs from people with laughing, sneering grins on their faces.

So this year I bought the BEST coffee mug I've ever seen. And am hoping that it will be the one everyone wants to steal. I think I'll just sit back and watch.

And if you know me, you know the one thing that is equal to a sack of coals under the Christmas tree is to give me another coffee mug. My cabinets are FULL of them. I have no idea what I'll do with the mug I'll bring home tomorrow. Maybe....regift it next year? :-)