Monday, December 29, 2008

52 Blessing Project - Week Fifty-Two

The 52 Blessing Project has indeed been a blessing in my life this past year. "My cup runneth over" with amazing blessings. It is so easy to take for granted so many of wonderful blessing in my life. Many weeks, I had so many blessings in my mind, it was hard to pick which one to share!!

I recently reread President Henry B Eyring's talk, "O Remember, Remember" from the October 2007 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So, for the year 2009, I will be starting a new project. It will be called "God's Hand". I will be trying hard to recognize God's hand in my daily life. Elder Eyring ends his talk with these words,

"Tonight, and tomorrow night, you might pray and ponder, asking the questions: Did God send a message that was just for me? Did I see His hand in my life or the lives of my children? I will do that. And then I will find a way to preserve that memory for the day that I, and those that I love, will need to remember how much God loves us and how much we need Him. I testify that He loves us and blesses us, more than most of us have yet recognized. I know that is true, and it brings me joy to remember Him."

I know that God loves me and that is Hand is my life much more that I recognize. This will be a great way to acknowledge His love. I invite my readers to join me if you so desire.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wednesday Whereabouts



This bear is all decked out for the Holidays! Where can he be found??

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Angels

Not to brag or anything, but Rachel, Joey, Evan and I became angels today. We went gift giving for "Angels Bearing Gifts".

Tina lives a group home and has no family to give her presents on Christmas. So, we had the honor of brightening her Christmas. I'm just trying to figure out whose Christmas became more brighter, hers or ours??? I think it was ours!!

Tina lives life with enthusiasm, and loves unconditionally, that was very evident just spending a few minutes with her. We all got hugs! We were all dubbed "Dodo"!! That is the name Tina gives anyone she likes, so it's a term of endearment!! Who knew???


Evan and Tina



Tina was great at giving hugs, I think we were all hugged at least four times!!



video


It was so fun to watch Tina open her presents with such abandon!!




Evan, Cindy, Joey, Rachel and Tina

Do you notice Katie in the background there? She is another one of the ladies that lives with Tina in this group home. She is going home to spend Christmas with her family, so we had no gifts to bring to her. I was actually feeling bad for the two other ladies that were home when we arrived, because we had no presents to give them. We were just given Tina's name, so had no idea what to expect when we arrived at her house. Otherwise I would have brought some other little goodie or something. But, then, the most remarkable thing happened. Before we left Katie gave me a big hug! I mean a really big tight squeeze!!! I was afraid she would not let go!!! She said, "Merry Christmas! Just by coming by you have made my Christmas!" Wow, how does that work??

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday's Memories

The wind howled loudly that stormy December night, right before Christmas 1977. I was five months pregnant with our second child and David was 16 months old. Dread filled my heart as my husband headed out to work a graveyard shift at the Humboldt Bay Power Plant 30 miles from the little community of Rio Dell, California where we lived. The wind gusts were reported to be over 100 miles an hour. Would Mike make it safe to work? Would we be safe at home??

It was a long night alone listening to the storm outside. I tried to sleep, but it was difficult. I'm sure I heard when one of the three small redwood trees in our backyard fell. Fortunately, they did no damage to our home.

The morning light and calmer winds were a welcome sight, along with my husband home safe and sound. He said the drive to work was easy, the wind just pushed him along!! The damage in our community was great. The neighborhood store down the street lost part of it's roof. Trees fell every where, killing at least three people who were trapped in cars. We were without electricity for several days.

Christmas was coming, along with family!! Mike's brother Richard, and his wife Laurel along with daughters Elizabeth and Sarah made it up, just in time for our electricity to return. Our life was going to take a dramatic turn. It would be a wondrous change that would help us through the storms of life. That Christmas day in 1977, was the first time we attended church as a family. Laurel invited me to meet with the missionaries and we started taking lessons. We had wonderful, spiritually prepared missionaries who taught us the gospel of Jesus Christ. We were welcomed and loved into the Fortuna Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We were "golden" and ready to hear the Word! It is one of my most cherished and life altering Christmas time memories.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

52 Blessing Project - Week Fifty-One

Virginia and Paul, circa late 1960's


My parents were married on this date December 21, 1948 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They were together for 31 years before my father died. What a blessing to grow up in a home with both a mother and mother present! Life wasn't always easy, but I know they loved each other, and I'm grateful that example!! It is a wonderful gift to children when mom's and dad's love each other and stay together. I'm glad I could give that gift to my children as well.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Angels Abound!!

It's Christmas, a perfect time for angels. Yesterday, was very busy, but I was surrounded by angels!! I started my day helping with the Five Cities Christian Women Food Bank. One angel in particular is Emellie, (pronouced Amelia). Emellie is there every single day, sometimes twice a day, and she is in her 80's!! What an amazing women! She is totally dedicated to feeding the hungry in our area, serving in this capacity for over thirty five years!! Maybe, when I grow up I can be like her, an angel!!

Then I went and helped the Five Cities Christian Women wrap presents for the young ones in the families who are receiving food baskets for Christmas. I felt bad I could only help for a little under an hour, but most of the women dedicated a whole day helping. I love helping with this group, made up of women from different churches in my area. Most of the women are elderly and such an example of giving spirits. Truly they are angels.

The next Angels, literally have the name Angels. They are a group called Angels Bearing Gifts. I was able to meet the founder of this group that provides gifts at Christmas and for birthdays to people with Developmental Disabilities who live in group homes, but have no family members to provide presents. Evelyn Smith, who started this group in 2001, just by anonymously giving gifts to a few of those in need. This year she said there was over 200 people in two counties who were receiving gifts. She said she had no idea how her small act would turn into something so big in just a few years. We are excited to be able to help deliver gifts for this group on Christmas Eve.

Ambur was another angel I meet today. She provided a special act of kindness and service to bring joy to someone's life. Amberly is a one of the ladies who play on Evan's power soccer team. Ambur used to work in the day program with Amberly and it was part of her job to drive Amberly to practice. However, Amberly is no longer in that particular day program, but Ambur brought her anyway, just out of the goodness of her heart. She wanted to reach out and help make someones life better. That was impressive to me!! When I told the coach what Amber had done she was shocked but so touched.

And, last but not least, my angel husband. By the time Evan and I got home yesterday from gallivanting all around it was past 7 o'clock pm and I was so hungry!! I came home to a roaring fire in the fireplace, the dinner table set and dinner ready to be served!! Wow, I live with an angel, how cool is that??

I bet you have angels surrounding you too. Who are they??

SLO Children's Museum


Sariah and Katie were right!! Wednesday Whereabout's picture was the SLO Children's musuem. Formerly, housed in a ugly old warehouse, this newly renovated and updated building appears to be filled with delightful activities for the young and old alike. I can't wait to see the inside!! Who is going with me???




Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday Whereabouts

I am hoping to take my grandchildren to this fun building when they come to visit over the holidays.






I will post a picture of the front of the building on Friday after you get your in your guesses.

Would you like a hint?? I knew you would!! It is a recently renovated building.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Traditions

Christmas time is the perfect time for family traditions! Some of my favorite traditions have been:
  • On Dec 1st we hang up our homemade nativity advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas. On Christmas morning before we do anything else we turn over the little Baby Jesus.


  • Stockings are hung on the chimney with care. We even hang a stocking for the Baby Jesus, and put our good deeds inside. (This idea came from the old Cary Grant movie, "The Bishop's Wife", which I highly recommend)


  • Retelling the Christmas story from Luke 2 on Christmas Eve.
  • When the children were little we always had Birthday cake for baby Jesus.
  • On Christmas Eve the kids could open one present. You guess it!! PJ'S!!!
  • Each year my husband and I find a mushy Christmas card expressing our love for each. This is placed in our stocking Christmas Eve and read to our giggling children Christmas morning.
What are your Christmas traditions??

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday's Memories

When I was nine years old, the one and only thing I wanted for Christmas was a bible. A bible of my very own!! Funny, I don't even remember there being another bible in the house. I was trying to remember if my parents had a bible. I truly don't remember seeing one or ever remember my parents even reading a bible. Both of them, for some reason had fallen away from their Catholic upbringing. Maybe it was because my father's first marriage ended in divorce. I'm not really sure. However, I just felt a desire to go to church even if my family didn't so I would go to different churches with my friends. My family never went to church together. I was so happy my parents respected my spiritual side and granted my wish for a bible.



It's a quite a bit worn now, but still beautiful to me. I love the pictures in this bible.


I love to look at my Dad's printing on the face plate of this special book. I know my parents loved me to buy this very special book.



Today this bible one of my oldest and most cherish possessions. What is the oldest Christmas present you still have in your possession??


Sunday, December 14, 2008

52 Blessing Project - Week Fifty

Music is a great blessing in my life!! Saturday, Mike and I had an opportunity to attend a free holiday concert preformed by a local harpist. Nothing is more relaxing that heavenly harp music!! She played everything from classic Christmas and Hanukkah music, to the more modern Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. I had never heard that song played more beautiful before!!

Music is an incredible, powerful force!! Music can touch our spirits and enlighten our minds. Can you imagine life without music??? I can't!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday Whereabouts


Saturday we drove to a quaint little town and arrived right before sunset. I love how this picture came out, with the water shimmering and the clouds reflecting. It made a great desktop!!



We picked a great restaurant with a great view of the sunset!! The food was yummy too!!
The big rock is famous!!

video


Then we watched the Christmas Boat Parade. It was officially called a "Holiday" parade but I don't have to be politically correct on my blog. Thank goodness!! On a nearby pier a band played Christmas music. The atmosphere was festive and fun and the boat floats were beautiful!! We had a great evening!!

Where did we go??

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Monday's Memories

This weeks memory has to do with this building.



Maybe you will remember it from this post, last week. It's the tree that was missing from the building. It was a beautiful floss silk tree that was causing severe damage to the foundation of the Mission. The whole thing caused quite the controversy. To cut or not to cut??? However, I'm glad they saved the structure and not the tree!!

Many Christmases ago, a group of sisters from my church joined the San Luis Obispo Handel Oratorio Choir. We began practice in September, to sing Handel's Messiah at the Mission San Luis Obispo Tolusa. I love the music of the Messiah. Taken straight out of scripture, the words set to beautiful music tell the story of the life of Christ.




No one sings the Messiah quite like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!! Our choir tried and it is one of my most cherished memories. I'm not an accomplished singer by any means, and felt way out of my league singing this music.


The beautiful doors of the Mission.


Singing in the choir helped to open the doors of friendship to me. As we carpooled together to practices I became close to those Sisters as we traveled. One of them is no longer with us, and one is unable to sing anymore. We shared a special bond.



The inside of this chapel is beautiful. Our choir sang up near the altar. We also had a small orchestra that performed with us. Singing in this centuries old building was such a delight. My favorite part of the evening was this part:

"Behold, I tell you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. "


Then the trumpet player began his beautiful music from out of nowhere up in this balcony.

"The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

I still get chills thinking about it today. It was interesting to watch the people try to figure out where that beautiful trumpet music was coming from back behind them. The Spirit was so strong that December night, in this beautiful Catholic church, the religion of my ancestors. It was wonderful place to sing about the life of that little baby Jesus, born so many years ago.
We will all be changed incorruptible because of Him and His life!


52 Blessing Project - Week Forty-Nine

Steady Employment




It was the day after Christmas in the bicentennial year of 1976 that my husband started his job with Pacific Gas & Electric Company. Right out of the Navy, this was only his second employer. So, this month marks my his 32nd year of employment. That is a long time to work for one company. He gets great benefits, has a good pension, and works hard. I'm so grateful he has been able to stay with one company for so long. Retirement is now finally a light at the end of the tunnel that he can see. It will be a well deserved break. He has certainly provided well for our family, and I'm indeed very, very grateful, it has been a tremendous blessing!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fabulous Friday's Forever Family Featuring...

my little Aunt Eva!! My mom's one and only sister is now 90 years old. This once spry, talkative, intelligent women is now feeling the process of aging. We were able to visit with her over Thanksgiving at the nursing home where she now resides. My heart goes out to her because she has no family of her own, and she is four hours away from me. So I only see her rarely. Every time I see her, I ask if I can move her closer to me and she says, "NO". I don't want to up route her from where she is comfortable. They seem to be taking good care of her. That is a good thing!!

Aunt Eva lived and lovingly cared for my Grandmother all her life. When grandmother died Aunt Eva lived all alone. I believed she liked it that way, being kind of a recluse. At times even being estranged from our family. The last time my mom and her were together they didn't ever want to see or talk to each other again. So sad to me that is coming true, in this life anyway. I was glad that I was able to start a relationship again with Aunt Eva after that whole incident. Our family had many enjoyable visits with my Aunt. She never visited anyone in their homes. So, we would go and see her when we could. She lived in California for over 30 years and never once saw the ocean! My how she loved to talk politics!!

My Aunt loved to write and I have the transcript of a novel without an ending that she wrote. I wish I had more of her writings, but they have disappeared. My Aunt even disappeared for a while too. I was not able to find her, she didn't answer her phone, then letters came back to me. With some detective work, I was able to find her, but barely recognized this little woman lying before me in a nursing home. I'm not sure what happened to this once very independent women. By the time I found her she was no longer walking and would barely talk. Because of privacy issues the staff could not share much. The saddest thing to me is that all her things are gone. I know she had some of my grandparents belongings from Italy, such as their original marriage certificate.

Sometimes when I have visited in the nursing home, she didn't really want to talk at all. Other times, like this past Friday, she was very talkative. I was so touched by our visit last week. We sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic" together, it's her favorite hymn. And, she repeatedly said that "We are all in the hands of the Lord". We talked a little about her childhood growing up on a farm in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. They had chickens, a cow named Clara, and a dog named Laddie. She said that my grandmother was not a happy person. But, I don't know why. We left her with a prayer and she said she loved me. I let her know I loved her too! God Speed, Aunt Eva! Aunt Eva (with the pretty cape) and my mom as little girls. Aren't they cute!!



Aunt Eva and her one and only neice, me!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ten Lashes with a Wet Noodle

That's what I deserve. Or maybe, a piece of coal would be more timely.

My fellow blogger friend, Lynne, reminded me today, that I didn't tell what I knew that you didn't!! Oh, my, I'm sooooo sorry. I meant to tell sooner than this, I truly did.

Are you ready...here's the secret...Katie and Brad are expecting there first baby in June!! Woo Hoo!! We are so excited, they have been trying to get pregnant for a couple of years.

Would you like to hear my very lame excuse for making you wait so long?? Katie placed limitations on when I could tell. Because, heaven forbid someone stalking my blog that was family, would find out on my blog and not from Katie and Brad. And then I just forgot, because the date kept getting moved back. So, I think we should blame Katie. Then again she has suffered enough with morning sickness. So, I will take whatever punishment you deem necessary!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wednesday Whereabouts



Something is missing from this historic building! What is the building, what is missing and why? Next week I will share a memory about a special Christmas experience within this building!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday's Memories

How I loved Santa Claus when I was a little girl. Oh, wait!! I still love Santa Claus!!

Anyway, one Christmas season, when I was about five years old, our little family attended a Christmas Party at the local firehouse in Glendale, New Hampshire. My two brothers and I were excited to hear that Santa himself might even be there!! Might?? We also heard that if Santa couldn't make it for some reason, (after all, it was a busy time year for him) our very own Daddy was going to be a "Santa Helper" and pretend to be Santa Claus!! My mom would NOT tell us which Santa would be there!! I was so excited to sit on the lap of Santa Claus and tell him I had been a very good little girl and wished for a doll for Christmas, a big one that could walk!!
Finally, the big day came!! I excitedly climbed on Santa's lap. I check out the beard and the voice and the eyes! I was positive it was the real Santa!! What a lucky little girl to sit on the lap of the very real Santa Claus!! And guess what?? I even got my doll!!








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