Friday, November 25, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 25

I just got home.  And Thanksgiving 2011 is in the books.

The last few days have been full of laughter, cooking, laughter, good food, pinterest, laughter, family, and shopping.

And a mishap or two. The first was Wednesday night as I was making cornbread for the dressing. I poured just a tad too much in this skillet. I usually make several messes on Sister's stove while we cook for Thanksgiving, but I don't think I've ever made a mess of the oven too.

The first two pans were perfect. Shortly after the cornbread fiasco, we were sitting in the den discussing our next task on pinterest when Jared walked through the kitchen and nervously called, "Okay, we have fire." Cornbread is flammable, just sayin'. Kept me from having to clean the oven!

Luckily, I decided to make my lemon cranberry squares after the cornbread. After  getting everything started, I noticed that it was supposed to chill for several hours before serving.

Brooke didn't get enough bananas to make her banana pudding. This was not a problem. We always make a middle of the night run to Walmart for the sales papers. This year we left at 3:30, and when we got back, we put the turkey in the oven and got busy cooking everything else enjoyed some pinterest time before starting everything else.

It helps that Brooke lives next door to Sister. We use her oven for most of the casseroles on Thanksgiving morning.

The hashbrown casserole was fiasco number 3 or 4 or 5. It baked at Brooke's. Jared and Dusty were helping to bring the finished dishes back to Sister's. This one dumped just as Jared was trying to maneuver the door with full hands.
Less hashbrown casserole just mean we eat more of something else.

We spread out over the entire house to eat. After lunch, Lovey stretched out on this couch for a nap. After he left the spot, Sister napped here too. After lunch, there was lots of napping going on. I managed to grab the recliner for about an hour. And then more eating. Finally, we cleaned the kitchen, and then spent some time in deep philosophical discussions, sharing our feelings, playing board games in the same room on pinterest, looking at Black Friday ads, watching TV, and playing with the baby.

This morning at 5:00, Sister, LKN, and I met Jen, Emily, and Hannah Gray for shopping. And more laughter.

Dear Lord, thank you for family time. And laughter. Thank you that we have plenty of food. I know that there are those who go to bed each night with empty stomachs and I realize that it is only because of your love and grace that we have food. I asked that you be with all of those who are away from his/her family this week, or any other time. For everyone that is hungry. And for anyone who doesn't know of your love. Lord, may I long for you love, and may I hunger for you and your love.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 23

Why is a day off in the middle of the week so much sweeter than a Saturday morning? Don't get me wrong; I love my job and will be ready to see my students Monday, but I am LOVING the thought of three days of no school this week.

And it's not about the sleep - I don't really sleep late. And Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally not a weekend where I get much sleep.

It was wonderful to wake up this morning and just snuggle in the covers for a few minutes. I heard Lovey come in from feeding his chickens, but he soon headed back out. I grabbed the phone and called to see what he was up to.  Pigs. We had some pigs in the trap down at the barn, and he was going to see just what was there. I jumped up, threw on some clothes, grabbed my camera, and headed out to see too.

There were five little pigs in the trap. We caught two yesterday, but I was at work and didn't get a chance to see them.

We've been trying to catch pigs for quite a while. They tear up our fields. And then we don't have grass for the cows, or if it's been raining, we have a muddy, sloppy mess.

These pictures were taken just before 7:00 this morning. Then I came back to the house, made coffee and breakfast, and washed some dishes while Lovey vacuumed.

Not a glamorous morning at all. And I know that you sleepers won't agree, but it was a great morning.

Lord, I thank you for simple beginnings. For the everyday and mundane. I know that it is the simple and everyday that make the fireworks and glitter more beautiful. Thank you Father that I can enjoy these next few days with family and friends and then return to work next week rested and refreshed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 20

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and his loyal love endures.
- 1 Chronicles 16:34

O Lord, your loyal love reaches to the sky; your faithfulness to the clouds.
- Psalms 36:5

I haven't forgotten about writing my thanksgiving posts for the last few days, I've just been in such a funk.

The first night that I skipped it I was just so tired, and I thought, "What difference does one day make?"

And then the next night I thought about posting and then thought, "What difference does it make; not many people read my blog."

And before I knew it I was having myself a full blown pity party. To the point that I could barely stand to be around myself.

Isn't it wonderful that God loves us even when we are at our most unloveable.

Isn't it amazing that God loves us even when we push him away.

Isn't is amazing that God knows what is on our hearts, and He hears our prayers even when we aren't able to put them into words.

Father, thank you for you enduring love. Thank you that when my foot is slipping, your loyal love supports me. Thank you for listening to my prayers and knowing what weighs heavy on my heart when I can't even put it into words.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 15

Lucy Mercer is zonked out. She is absolutely exhausted. She may not wake up until Sunday.

She went to school today.

And she was so good. She visited three different story times in the library before lunch. Those little ones crowded around her - talking loud, rubbing her hair backwards, getting right in her face - she never even flinched.  She stood patiently while each and every kid had a chance to love on her.

After lunch my classes came in. And she let everyone of those older kids love on her too. Then in each class we went outside and let her run and run with them. At the end of seventh period she crashed, and I thought maybe she wouldn't play with the next class. But when they wanted to pet her, she was happy to let them. And when they wanted to run to the end of the football field and back over and over, she ran with them.

And now that she is finally home, she has passed out.

It wasn't all just fun today. Lucy was helping me to teach writing.

The students had to observe her during the visit and then write about her appearance, personality, and mannerisms. The idea being that to successfully write about anyone or anything, they must get to know the subject through observation or research. And they were observant. There was a discussion about her color; no one could decide exactly what color she is. And several students noticed that Lucy likes her momma.

Lord, thank you for pets.Through them we learn what it means to love unconditionally, to devote ourselves fully, and to follow where our master leads.

Monday, November 14, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 14

I didn't have school today - we always get out for the first Monday of deer season.

And Liz doesn't work on Mondays.

So the brothers decided that it would be a good day to work cows at the big field.

Working cows can be difficult. There's always a few crazies in the group - you don't want to turn your back on those. But with everyone around to help out, it isn't so bad.

The boys got the cows in the barn just as Liz and I were getting there this morning.  Apparently they didn't go in the first time. Nerves were a bit frazzled already. Liz and I were sent to get a table, and she had to change shirts because Lovey didn't like her pink one (remember what I said about frazzled nerves).

Joey and Baby Jus worked the pens, moving cows from area to a smaller area, and finally into the chute. I encouraged them to move through the chute and into the headgate. Big Boy had to raise and lower the back gate while Lovey worked the headgate and administered the wormer and shots. Liz gets the shots ready and does the paperwork.

Of course, everyone changes jobs when needed. I had to work that back gate some today; it doesn't take much of that to wear you out.

At the end of the day, everyone was a little sore, a bit bruised, a lot tired, and covered in dust with a bit of cow poop mixed in.

Dear Lord, thank you for your blessings in our family business; we know that everything we have, Father, is a gift from you. Thank you for the opportunity to work side-by-side as a family. Let us continue to find joy and laughter in our tasks. The job we did today can be very dangerous, yet we came away with just a few bruises and sore muscles, and for that I am grateful.

which do you prefer?

I'm a middle biscuit kind of girl. 

And I love to bake in a pan that has room to squeeze in two middles.  

Yes. I'm eating TWO bacon biscuits.

Do you cook your bacon in the oven? I've recently discovered this trick, and I  love it.  The bacon gets done at the same time as the biscuits, and the pan is easy to clean thanks to the parchment paper. No bacon grease splattered all over the kitchen.

So, which do you prefer, the middle biscuits or the outer biscuits?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 13

It was such a beautiful day. Windy as all get out, but beautiful!

Abby texted me asking if Nannie was cooking lunch. I texted back that we should take some pictures. So we did.

Dear God, thank you for small blessings each and every day. I know that there are families who are scattered across the country and the world. Thank you that I am close enough to be able to spend a few hours with my brothers and sister or nieces and nephews almost any time.

photo fail?

Yesterday I made tamales. And a few friends came by for supper. And it just happened to be JD's birthday.

So of course, we took a few pics. Because if it doesn't get posted and tagged  on Facebook - it didn't happen.

But the lights were low. Because I made tamales all day rather than dusting, and low lights do wonders to hide dust and cobwebs.

So all of the pictures are a little fuzzy.

But maybe you noticed that the dark room wasn't the only problem.

Lovey had my camera - and he's a little slow on the draw.

But there were two others who were like paparazzi popping from behind the bushes. And every time Lovey would get ready to press the button, these two iPhone photographers would jump in front of him. It was hilarious to watch his face.

And we had a great laugh, just trying to get a picture without one of their backs or elbows or hands in it.

We take pictures to remember, to freeze a instant, to remind us of the way we were at one moment in time.

So look past the shadows, the white blur, the elbows, the cluttered background, and the glare.

Now can you see the silliness, the laughter, the fun? That was our night.

Photo fail? I think not.

Friday, November 11, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 11

Today was my Aunt Evelyn's funeral.

At the small country church she had attended for years and years.

It was packed. People filled the pews, lined the walls, stood in the foyer, filled a room behind the pulpit, and even waited outside. 

At the grave, a cousin-preacher led the group in two verses of  Amazing Grace.

Then the members of local churches served lunch for our family.

I had fried chicken, home-canned green beans, sourdough bread, and lemon icebox pie.

And I was reminded of just how lucky I am to be a part of this family and this community.

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful for traditions held for years and years. During a time when so much emphasis is placed on the new and changing, I thank you for keeping some things the same. And I thank you for your unchanging, unfaltering love. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing family and community.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 10

My students amaze me almost everyday.

Yes, there are days when things don't go quiet as I had planned.

Honestly, there are very few days that go anything like I planned.

Sometimes I come home wondering if my students listened to a single word that I said that day.

And some days I know that they learned more from each other than I could have ever gotten across.

The last few weeks have been a bit disjointed. We've had nine weeks testing, Target Testing, reading assignments, written an essay, and taken a novel quiz at some point in between. It's been hectic.

So I worried when I had to leave school suddenly yesterday. It required that I jostle some lesson plans even more and make an assignment that I hadn't discussed with my students. I was worried that the directions wouldn't be as clear on paper as they might be if I could discuss them in person.

This morning I was braced for chaos. I was mentally preparing myself to accept almost anything that resembled my expectations for the assignment. 

But there was no chaos. There were no notes of confusion. No excuses.

There were three stacks of finished assignments (very few didn't finish).


Dear Lord, thank you for blessing me with a job that I love. Thank you for students who come to school willing and ready to learn. Thank you for parents who provide for and nurture these students so that they are focused on learning. Father, I know that you have called each and everyone of us to a specific task in life. Help all of those who haven't heard your call. Be with those who know what you have called them to do but haven't been able find a job.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 9

This morning my phone rang, it was my sister's number, I knew what she would say, and still I the words were difficult to process. 

My mother's sister, Evelyn, had passed away, no longer able to fight the cancer that has attacked her body for so many years. I sat at my desk and cried for the  wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt. She will be terribly missed by her family, and that's a lot of people.

Sister and I left work to go to momma's. She hasn't been dealing with this well, and we knew she would be very upset today. We were right.

And this afternoon another sister got unwanted news from her doctor today.

Not a good day at all for the Norton siblings.

But GOD is good all the time.

Ten children born. Ten children grow up together. Ten children mourn the death of a father. Ten children raise their children together. Ten children for Thanksgivings, and Easters, and Christmases and deer seasons and Memorial Days and Fourth of Julys. Ten children become grandparents. Ten children visit the nursing home. Ten children cry and mourn for a mother.Ten children still visit and laugh and share birthdays each month.

A blessing from God - to share some much with so many.

Heavenly father, thank you for providing strength when we can't go another step alone. Thank you for family that each day is a testimony to your love. Thank you for allowing me to witness first hand through the Norton siblings what it means to love unconditionally, to trust unconditionally, and to have faith that never falters. Thank you lord for hearing our prayers. Continue to bless this family.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 8

Listen, my child, to the instruction from your father, and do not forsake the teaching from your mother. For they will be like an elegant garland on your head, and like pendants around your neck.
- Proverbs 1:8-9

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.
- Proverbs 3:5

Listen, my child, and accept my words, so that the years of your life will be many. I will guide you in the way of  wisdom and I will lead you in upright paths.
- Proverbs 4:10-11

The big boy has always been more of a daddy's boy. If his daddy cranked it, pulled it, or loaded it; he wanted to do the same. From his first summer with us, he constantly asked, "Will you teach me to cut hay?" Finally to stop the questions, his daddy told him that he could learn when he was twelve years old.

Flash forward to a late spring day six years later. He is in a rush to get home from school, and I can't figure out why. As we drive up to the house, he jumps out of the truck goes to the fence and waits. His daddy is cutting hay for the first time that season, and Big Boy remembers a promise made many years before.

Flash forward to a summer day seven years later. Relationships are difficult. Many promises have been made. Promises and hearts have been broken. He returns home after several weeks searching for something that we can't give. Conversation is not easy. Words can't seem to jump the void. An offer is spoken, "That hay looks just about ready."

And then an  acceptance, "I can start cutting in the morning."

Dear Lord, thank you for bringing this child into my life. I pray that you guide him in the way of wisdom and lead him in upright paths. Lord, fill any void in his heart with your love. I ask that you put a hedge of protection around him and keep him safe in all that he might do.

Monday, November 7, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 7

This morning I realized that I was 20% behind on my writing project.

I might be upset about that except that being 20% behind on this project means that I'm 5% complete.

Doesn't seem like much, 5%. Does it?

But actually it's HUGE. And 4% past the hardest part - completing the first 1%.

I've been writing tonight. And I've posted a bit for those of you with a few moments to spare. 

It's a long way from becoming a novel, but it's something I've never done before, never even attempted before.

Dear Lord, thank you for opportunities to be creative, to try new things, to step out of my routine. I know Lord that all gifts are blessings from you. Give me the strength to grow and to use the talents that you have stored up for me. Help me to remember that all successes in my life are chances to glorify your name.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 6

When your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?'
- Luke 18: 26

Come children! Listen to me! I will teach you what it means to fear the Lord.
- Psalms 34:11

So now, children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.
- Proverbs 8:32

Tonight's youth lesson took some thinking. For the last several weeks we have used a house analogy, and tonight that analogy moved to a toolshed.

You might ask, "What does a toolshed have to do with God?" Believe me it took just a few minutes for us to get there too.

There are tools for all kinds of jobs. As a matter of fact, there are very job specific tools.

Tonight's question: If you were a tool, what would you be?

The idea? That tools work for us.

We are a tool for God. What work do we do for Him? Do we use our talents for Him?

What if we don't know our talents yet?

I think my talent could be leadership.

My talent is making people feel better when they are sad.

How do we know when we have a talent?

What if we are scared to use our talents?

When we share about our Salvation, we are working for God.

When we are chastised for our beliefs but stand up for what we believe in, we are a tool for God.

Those kids have some thought-provoking conversations. And an amazing FAITH.

Father, I thank you for Jacob, Megan, Laynie, Darian, Kaitlyn, Blair, Chandler, Caleb, Sarah, Delaney, Hannah, Chandler, and all those who join us for UMY. What a blessing it is to study your word with these amazing kids.  Thank you for the leadership that Brooke provides each week. I ask that you lead us in the direction that draws us closer to you. Enlarge our territory, Lord. Allow us to be a well-worn tool in your toolshed.

thirty days of thanksgiving 5

If you have no desire to worship the Lord, choose today whom you will worship, whether it be the gods whom your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrats, or the gods of Amorits in whose land you are living. But I and my family will worship the Lord.
- Joshua 24:15

My birthday was yesterday.

My day started with sweet messages from my nieces and nephews.

Then my sister-in-law texted me. I talked to Brooke. And it didn't take long to plan a girls' shopping day for Saturday.

We did some serious shopping. And had a delicious lunch.

When we got back to Brooke's, Brother and Caleb came from the deer camp to watch a little football.

And tomorrow we will probably all be at Nannie's for lunch. And it will be another laughter-filled day.

Dear Lord, thank you for blessing me with a loving Christian family. Through your love for us, you have taught us to love one another. I am so grateful that we are able to live close to each other and spend so much time together. Thank you for the ability to laugh, to share, to support, and most importantly to forgive one another.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

this counts as research, right?

I'm a somewhat extremely slow starter in the NANOWRIMO frenzy.

For those of you who aren't sure just what that is, a brief explanation - national novel writing month. Writers commit themselves to complete a 50,000 word novel beginning November 1 and finishing on or before November 30. When in all actuality, the "writers" themselves should be committed for thinking for a brief moment that this feat could be accomplished. And sadly some "writers" will be committed after attempting to squeeze in just a few more words each and every day.

Seriously, I signed up, of my own freewill, to do this. And I've talked three of my creative writing students into doing it also. What was I thinking?

For those writers who pace themselves, just over 1,600 words a day will complete a novel this month. Are you surprised to know that I haven't written 1,600 words a day? Are you even more surprised to know that I have written something? Just over 2,400 words. I'm 2 1/2 days behind.

And I'm going shopping today. I'm shopping in Little Rock. My main character is a bartender in Little Rock.

I do believe that my day will include a bar visit. I have to do it - I'm researching for my novel.

Friday, November 4, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 4

But Jesus call for the children, saying, "Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
- Luke 18:16

I can't resist a baby. They are a squishy, slobbery, cuddly piece of heaven.

And my great-nephew is at the top of my loving list. He is such a sweet baby.

He's about 4 months old, and everyday he is doing something new.

I usually don't see him during the middle of the week, just weekends. But for the last week, I've managed to spend several of my evenings with him.

He is learning to make new noises. And has gotten really accurate with putting his pacy in and out of his mouth.

I get lost in the blue eyes, dimples, and happy squeals.

Thursday he went for a check up. That night I got to play with him.  We had a very deep conversation about his doctor's visit. He cooed and squealed and giggled at every question I asked him. He had a lot to say about that doctor.

Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing our family with a precious, healthy baby. Thank you for the joy and love that comes with a baby. I ask that you be with all parents who are patiently waiting the delivery of their precious baby. Please bless them with a safe delivery and a healthy child. Be with all of those couples who so desperately want to be parents. Hear their prayers, Father. Be with all of the families who are praying for a sick baby. Lord, touch those children with your healing hands. And Lord, I lift up to you all those parents who are mourning the loss of a child. Fill them with a peace that passing understanding.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 3

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family.
- Genesis 2:24

This morning's conversation while I put my shoes on, and after Lovey came back from the chicken houses.

Lovey: You better put a coat on.

Me: I have on long sleeves.

Lovey: Do you have a coat?

Me: I don't need a coat.

Lovey: It's cold out there. You better put a coat on.

Me: I'm wearing long sleeves.

Lovey: I know you don't get cold, but you better put a coat on.

Me: I'm not wearing a coat. I've been sweating all week.

Lovey: Time changes this weekend.

Me: (rolling my eyes in his direction) Don't start.

Lovey: This time next week it'll just be 6 o'clock.

Me: I hate that time is changing.

Lovey: It'll only be 6 o'clock this time next week.

Me: Don't say it again.

Lovey:  I'm just saying..

Me: You are not allowed to talk about the time changing until Saturday, and you can't mention it again after Tuesday. I mean it.

Lovey: But it takes me two weeks to get my clocks changed.

Me: (glaring at him)

Lovey: This time next week it'll be 6 o'clock.

He drives me crazy when the time changes. For weeks he will remind me of what the time will be "this time next week" and then again "this time last week." He is obsessed with the weather, especially cold temperatures. And he is terribly cold natured - just the opposite of me.

But I love him so much it hurts.

I leave him at home while I go to the lake for days and days. I make him wash his own clothes. I don't answer him when he talks to me too early in the mornings. And I ignore him when tells me how to dress.

But he loves me.

Dear God, You know everything about me - including my every fault, my every flaw. Thank you Lord for creating a man who could not only tolerate those faults and flaws, but, like you, could find something to love in spite of those faults and flaws. Thank you for for blessing our marriage with 21 years of love and laughter.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 2

God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be signs to indicate seasons and days and years, and let them serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." It was so.
- Genesis 1:14-15

For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are with out excuse.
 - Romans 1:20

For every creation of God is good and no food is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.
- 1Timothy 4:4

I love this time of year - the golden afternoon light, the bright blue skies, the bright orange leaves of a Sycamore tree contrasted against the stark white bark. Right now, fall is my favorite season.

But in the winter when I'm bundled up drinking a cup of coffee and watching a soft snow fall on the deck, or I'm with Lovey feeding cows and laughing at just how many layers of clothes a man can squeeze on and still be cold, that will be my favorite season.

Then in the spring when I've had a glorious Easter Sunday with family, hunting eggs and flying kites, and I'm sitting on the couch exhausted and stuffed, that will be my favorite season.

And when school finally ends, and I'm reading in my end of the camper listening to a gaggle of teenagers piled in the opposite end playing video games and reliving the day's tube or knee board rides, that will be my favorite season.

Each day, if I take the time to notice, I can see God in His creation. Each day, if I take the time to notice, God reveals His love for me through that same creation.

Father God, I thank you for your amazing creation. Thank you for creating a home for us that provides for our every need. Thank you for the changing seasons, for beautiful sunrises and sparkling night skies. Thank you for surrounding us in the natural beauty of flowers and trees, birds and animals. And help me Lord to remember to not take your creation for granted. Amen

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

thirty days of thanksgiving 1

for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
--Matthew 26:28

to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.
--Luke 1:77

Therefore let it be known to you, brothers, that through this one forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.
--Acts 13:38


Not an easy thing for me. At all.
Yet God has forgiven me, does forgive me everyday.
By my faith I am forgiven.
Through Jesus's death and resurrection, I have only to open my heart, and I am forgiven.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your gift of forgiveness.