santa and me...

So Dh's friend takes us out to dinner last Friday night and guess who was at Chapala's? I guess I imagined that Santa would have bigger fish to fry than to be greeting at a little Mexican restaurant in our little town but he talked to us like we were old friend. This just makes me smile. That I got him to sit with Santa is such a big deal. Oh my.

This man has worked 7 days a week for quite a while not. Excluding a few frantic days at Thanksgiving, he has not had a day off since the first of July. He had been working toward getting some help the last month and the powers that be decided that this was the weekend. He has a very physical job. He crawls on top of railroad cars, days and nights and works in environments that most of us wouldn't even walk through no less, linger.

I worry about his physical health along with his spiritual health. That all disappeared when the tears started flowing at church after Oh Come Let Us Adore Him. We each have a Place where emotions are raw and feelings run deep. As long as one can access that Place with little difficulty, all is good.

Coming down to the wire now. The parking lots of all stores are filled and finding a spot is tough. I will try tomorrow to not only brave the crowds but hope to make a friend or two. Went to a My Favorite Things party at DD's tonight and as we each shared, there was a camaraderie that wouldn't be there any other time of the year. The word, Magical was used several times. It is in the air.

Merry Christmas my dear friends. I love you all. May you and yours enjoy these Days that are overflowing with much of everything. If there is any empty place at your table this year, remember the good times and make new memories. Blessings and will see you next year - Jan 3. love zalaine.

the giving tree...

Went to DD's church today. Eric Clapton's favorite guitarist, Caleb Quaye. Have heard him before at their church but this time, he was all about Christmas music. It was amazing and we have been listening to his CD all day.

Speaking of his cd, I was making my purchase and the guy ahead of me was told he better have exact change because, well, just because. He didn't have enough small bills so I told the lady add his to mine. He didn't want to and gave me what he had. He and his wife told me they would find me next week and give me the rest. I told them I was just visiting and Merry Christmas. It was the right thing to do, no matter what time of year.

I noticed when I walked in that the foyer was filled with food. Boxes it this and cases if that filled the floor an spilled over in other nooks and crannies. When I headed into the church, there to the left was one large tree. Under the tree, wrapped all around the tree in layers, were shoes. All different kinds. All different sizes. Neatly stacked pairs of shoes. I was in awe of them. I imagined where they would go and what they would see. I wonder about those who would receive them and what their Stories were.

Pastor Doug talked about receiving and how you have to receive from God before giving to others. He likened it to holding unopened mail in your hands. Until you open it, you haven't received it. You own it but that is not the same as receiving. It was a wonderful way to end a most wonderful service and when I left, I stared at the shoes again. Twice. What a sight. What a gift. Man, I love Christmas. Now, if we can have these great ideas in December, nothing says we can't in January. Let's give it a try...

tidings of chaos and jail...

Those warm fuzzies feelings of peace on earth, goodwill toward men is officially over. We have entered and will stay in the crazy stage between now and Dec 25.

Every year, we vow to do things differently and we REALLY mean it but when chaos comes in, we all revert back to our familiar default with new intentions for Next Time.

Due to no fault of her own, DD finds herself hosting a party tomorrow night for the mothers of Miss M's preschool. It wasn't suppose to be this late or at her house but here she is. I knew that trying to have a non family party on Dec 21 for 50 women was at its best, a huge undertaking and that the numbers would be few but what I didn't' see is that because of the numbers the venue would have to change because of finances and because she lived in town, the hosting would fall to her. In turn, her DH will have to take the kids out for while all this merriment is going on. A big deal for all of them, not to mention all the preparation of food and house.

The men in her life helped by doing some touch up work and I will be there in the AM to put the finishing touches on the decorations and the refreshments before heading home to enjoy the fact that there is no hosting going on at my house. Let's face it, for most of us - hospitality doesn't come naturally. Whether your think your home is not big enough to not having the money for extra food/drink, hospitality is a chore. It really is too bad - most good people don't care how big your house is or if the entree is spaghetti made with Prego. They are just excited to be invited to the place you call home. Eating with people is a Big Deal. Jesus did a lot of socializing and eating. It is a privilege every time someone invites us into their personal space.

I am very proud of my girl. She took a less than ideal situation all around and will provide a warm and wonderful place for the few that will come to her home tomorrow night. I hope they walk away with a little part of the warm fuzzies she has put together so when they get back to their personal spaces, that they too may experience tidings of comfort and joy for themselves...


I bought this little hope sign a month ago and got it out last Friday when we were taking Christmas pictures of the kids. Since that night, every time I turn around, I see hope. Not literally but have been inundated by the theme of hope.

Hope never felt like a good thing to me. From my perspective, hope equals a lack of belief. If one believed, hope would not be necessary. Seeking hope would be a sign of weakness and that would be something to avoid at all costs.

Wiktionery defines hope as The belief or expectation that something wished for can or will happen. . Sounds a lot like a miracle to me. Maybe my perspective is out of whack. Thinking I need to redefine hope in my sphere of understanding or at the very least, try to link hope with miracle.

I do so believe that there is so much out there that can and will happen. Out of my control but not my understanding, my perception of what is possible, grows everyday. Through connections and relationships of people I see, the excitement of the possibility lived out through those around me and the growing sense that there is much to be experienced if I am only willing.

You could say it is because of the holidays and the emotion of the Season but I choose to believe that come January - I will still be singing the Song.

kids and Christmas...

If we could all semi agree for a few seconds that at least some of Christmas has to do with a child why is it that the only kids program I will go to this year is a school functioned one? While she was the cutest partridge in a pear tree you have ever seen, I feel like I am missing something.

If churches don't see the validity of a Christmas program with children, I am not sure I want to go there. I have heard all the arguments or mainly one. Nobody wants to take on the responsibility of organizing and implementing a kids Christmas program. I will tell you if I had an ounce of musical ability, I would take my turn. While I did once consider a career as a professional hummer, I didn't get very far. I didn't realize at the time that there was not a demand, at all for hummers. I was good, I knew it but sometimes it is just not enough to be good, or even very good.

Miss M could not have been more excited about tonight and the smile on her face tells the whole Story. She marched up on Santa's lap and told him what she wanted with no hesitation what so ever. It was a glorious night and she had a cheering section that was second to none. We took up a pew and 1/2. She wanted to invite more but her mommy explained that other kids had families too. She took it like a pro.

With the background of the cross, these kids belted out the songs they had loving learned and practiced with Miss Brandi and Miss Shelli. They sang their hearts out and we clapped until our hands hurt. If you don't see the child in Christmas, go looking for it. It will change your perception of what the true meaning of Christmas is. and a child will lead them. Let yourself be lead...


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serendip - ity 1.An unsought, unintended, and/or unexpected discovery and/or learning experience that happens by accident and sagacity.

I was reading an article this morning about serendipity. Not a word that I think of in the colder months - not sure why. Seems like a spring/summery type of word but its definition is pretty joy. The article likened it to looking for a certain book and finding a fabulous book, by accident. The article also explained that you had to look for serendipity. Eyes and heart open, always on the look out for what is in the midst of what we think, is.

Heard these guys last night on The Sing-off. Singing Bon Jovi's, Livin On A Prayer , acapella style blew me away but not the judges. They were the first ones voted out of the 8 group acapella competion.

I caught the promo for this show by accident. Should have been watching The Closer in my Musinex stupor but instead I was experienced serendipity this fine Monday night. Wow.

Tomorrow night is Miss M's Christmas Program at preschool. I know what to expect. She couldn't be more excited. She has invited people that have no idea they were invited - she wasn't allowed any phone calls. I can guarantee it will be a intended and expected discovery. I can also guarantee a few tears. But, for the Moment - I am totally into serendipity. Wow...


Lisa Leonard makes the greatest jewelry. I expect to own one of her pieces next year. She hsa the cutest tree trunk necklace that you can put you and your man's initials on. She also has some great Mother's Day pieces but I am getting ahead of myself. 2010 is still 17 days away,

After the order deadline for Christmas delivery, she came out with this little jewel. I know she probably saw this one as a wonderful gift from one's loved one. It occurred to me that each of us should have one of these. More than just a pretty little necklace, what a wonderful reminder that we are loved by God.

Imagine, really understanding and more to the point, living like we were truly, utterly Loved by God. I imagine that everyone who would do this - would be life changing. All those insecurities, doubts, misgivings, worries, effort and time could be redirected into some more productive. Something that would be better for our lives and change the way we see the world we are trying so desperately to navigate through. This necklace would be a constant reminder that the Love is there, now forever. It is complete. We have been infilterated with the Love of the only one who is constant and true. Along with Death and taxes, you could include Love.

How would that change me? What would happen first? Is it possible? I think it is. While I don't believe in New Year resolutions, this one may be worth a try in January. I have embraced way less ideology that has been life-changing, imagine something of this magnitude. If I beleive that I am loved completely, Somewhere along the line I will get it, that so do you. My neighbor, the family parked next to me at the store and those I haven't met yet. It also would include those I imagined would never qualify.

I may have to put the tree trunk necklace on hold for a while, this one needs to be hanging around my neck. I have such a bad memory, I need to remember.

Dec 13...

No problem, we still have almost 2 weeks until Christmas. I can now say, I am done shopping and wrapping. Every year I have had separate colored paper for Keaton, Gage and Morgan. This year, every package has the same paper, bow and tag. I didn't realize what a stroke of genius this really was until this weekend. They were here for the last two evenings and it was driving them crazy. By the time they left Friday night, all the tags had been turned over trying to see which ones belonged to them. We were trying to take a Christmas picture and had moved furniture and gifts so they took an opportunity to check out sizes and shapes.

Last night there was no present searches - but they were still ready for Dec 25. I understand their pain. I don't like surprises and have been known to open and re wrap. Not something I am proud of but it is the way I roll. This year, everyone will have to read the name on the tag - even Morgan recognizes her name and her brothers. The days of pink, green and blue Christmas paper are gone.

For most of us, this coming week will be filled with some kind of holiday events so we can save next week for Christmas chaos. We have Miss M's school program on Tuesday and I have my annual Shopping trip with a dear friend where we conquer more in 1 day than most do in a week. Power shopping with a little Fa La La La La thrown in for good measure. Whatever the week brings for you, I wish you peace and hope...and a bit of twinkle, just because.

Dec 9...

Around this time of year, we are reminding about every 2 1/2 minutes from every source of media available to man - how many more shopping days before Christmas. The only logical conclusion one can come to is that they are trying to whip us into a frenzied state of buying awareness and how inadequately prepared we are for the Big Day.

Really, you have to subtract one day because while you can shop on Christmas Eve - to keep any sense of sanity, you should be winding down. Many years ago, DH had a second job delivering and setting up water beds. One year, he had to work on Christmas Eve. I was unhappy. Ok, that is an understatement. Brandi was a baby and I had to spent the evening at my inlaws - not the best of times. He showed up at home long after our little girl had gone to bed. He was apologetic and even brought me a home decor statue from the waterbed store. It didn't help and I was less than thankful. I was so mad I couldn't get pass what he was going for our family or that he had his Christmas Eve meal at some local greasy spoon between deliveries. What kind of people wait until Christmas Eve to set up a bed? If I remember correctly, he had lots of customer issues that evening - people were not Fa la la la laing.

The waterbed store is still around and I bet Les doesn't schedule deliveries on Christmas Eve. He bought the store form the previous owner and had more than his share of delivery woes. He know of what he speaks.

If you can't do your shopping online, go out and conquer this weekend and when those pesky countdowns come you way, you can laugh a hearty belly laugh and go about roasting your chestnuts or maybe even time to think about the good stuff. The staying power of the One who gives us every thing we need just for the taking. Putting someone else before yourself, not just for the countdown days but into January, February and beyond. Forget about gifts - a kind word, a helpful hand or simply a smile. There is no countdown for the things that really matter...


See, this and being snowed in is what happens when I have too much time on my hands. Yesterday I started wondering about Facebook and my family. My dad had two brothers and I sister. One brother lived in Idaho, the other brother and sister in California. I knew my uncle in California had passed away because his BIL came to our sale, and I got to ask some questions. He is a wonderful man, had a wonderful career with the ISP and managed to escape his own family's funk. We don't see each other, in fact he didn't even know where I lived - it was just a chance meeting. Anyhow,I found out about the passing of my uncle and the passing of my Idaho uncle's wife. There are so many reasons we are not close and crazy is the lowest one on the totem pole but none of that stopped me yesterday when I decided to see if any any of my cousins were on FB.

I really wanted to find my Idaho cousin. I had some contact with my uncle 10 years ago then nothing and when I tried to find him, all info was gone. I knew JoDean Faith would know and I knew with a name like that, either she was there or not.

She was not. Either were my California aunt's kids but I did find 2 of my deceased uncles kids. This was the uncle I spent many years with. It was this uncle who took my sister and I in when my dad was quarantined with suspected TB. I loved him like a father. Unfortunately he was crazy and I know the life his kids have lived because I lived it 15 years before they did. I lived with my uncle and aunt with Don was born and took care of him like he was mine. I was 15 and crazy about kids. He was a doll. The last time I saw him was almost 30 years ago and by then the family was completely stark-raving mad. To descibe those years and tell you one of the middle scary Stories was my dad, his girlfriend and my uncle and his family moving back here. After several months of living with me, and trying to start a junk business - my dad's girlfriend freaked out at a local 7-11, took off all her clothes and ordered the police out of the store. There was more but you get the idea.

So I get on FB and find my cousins Don and Sebastian. This is Don's profile picture, Sebastian's was artistic. Hard to believe but I didn't immediately send a friend invite. I sat there and stared at the screen for a long time. I walked away, came back and stared some more, Still not able to send an email, asking are you my cousin? He has my uncle's face, I know it is him - makes it harder.

Through out the evening, I went back and stared more. I am somewhat ashamed to say if he had been in a three piece suit and said he was an accountant, I would have felt no hesitation to send an invite. He is 43 or 44 years old. The ring in his nose rivals one of a huge coffee cup. Along with that and the way he was raised, I don't want to know anything that bad. I am not proud of the way I feel but for now, it is what it is.

In the light of Today, I still feel the same. Let sleeping dogs lie. Sometimes, the answer is no...


Autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire took a twenty-minute helicopter ride over Manhattan. Then he sketched the entire skyline from memory. Every building was correct and drawn to scale! He's also done panoramic memory drawings of Tokyo, Rome, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai, Jerusalem and London. A cup of Joe.

Christmas isn't just about giving and receiving. It is also about miracles. We never understand miracles. Can't explain how, when or why. We scratch our heads and wonder if they are real. Oh, they are really alright.

Miracles all have the Big Bang effect even if we are unable to see it. A small miracle has the same bang as a small one, the only difference is our perception. I never use to enter anything. Would go out of my way, refusing to under the assumption that I would never win. While I have not been on a contest entering binge, my anthem now is, Someone has to - it might as well be me.

While that may not seem like a Big Deal, you can't imagine how it has impacted my life in non- miralce ways. It has spilled over into my understanding and I can see the difference in myself.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is 4HIM's, What A Strange Way To Save The World.

Sure he must have been surprised
At where this road had taken him
'Cause never in a million lives
Would he had dreamed of Bethlehem
And standing at the manger
He saw with his own eyes
The message from the angel come to life
And Joseph said...

Why me, I'm just a simple man of trade
Why Him, with all the rulers in the world
Why here inside this stable filled with hay
Why her, she's just an ordinary girl
Now I'm not one to second guess what angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the world

To think of how it could have been
If Jesus had come as He deserved
There would have been no Bethlehem
No lowly shepherds at His birth
But Joseph knew the reason
Love had to reach so far
And as he held the Savior in his arms
He must have thought...


Now I'm not one to second guess what angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the world
...this is such a strange way to save the world...

Miracles, I look for them every day now...

looking for Love...

Beginning of December and someone is riding a bike. With a fake flower. Did I mention it is December? It is not warm, you might even describe it as butt cold. Whose has a bike with a fake red flower? I wanted to know but short of parking myself by the cold front door, I would never know.

We all think we know best. What to eat, where to shop, the perfect job and where to find love. I will agree,sometimes it is easy and right in front of us but we mostly take family, friends, jobs and homes for granted. If we have lots of comforting Love in our lives, we may stop looking all together and miss something special.

Love is not an lifetime commitment. Sometimes it comes in short bursts. Sometimes it is just for a season or a Moment. Just when you start to get comfortable, it is gone. That is not a bad thing. When we change our persception of what Love must look like, we open ourselves to a whole new world. A world where love comes in many different shapes and sizes and all we have to do is know when to hold on tight and when to let go.

So I am leaving the coffee shop and so is the owner of the bike. A college age student who has a smile on his face as he drives off. No hat but a scraf to keep him warm. Would love to ask him why but am happy to accept the Love and enjoy the day. A little Love on a cold day, sounds pretty great to me...


There is quite a bit of focus around me and I am living being able to get a 360 view. Since the Pink Glove dance, I am proud to say that due to multiple replays, Miss M now knows the words to Jay Sean's, Down. She is somewhat obsessed with the hospital video and Hudson, but Hudson is a Story all of its own.

What do you think the chances might be of walking in a store and finding a Three Wise men Kit? I would have said slim to none but now I am a believer and Gage has added to his Jesus kit. Three different shaped boxes filled with spices and gold. As he wrapped it in the car, he said to no one in particular, This is the best day ever. He has not talked about what he wants for Christmas - his time is focused on his Jesus kit. I can only tell you, this is a wonder to behold. He thinks, eats, sleeps the Jesus kit. He is collecting nativities like you would not believe. And a little child shall lead them...

While I am following him on his journey, I notice I wan tot have the same passion he feels. That may be unrealistic because being a Big Person makes you cynical and less able to focus. There are focused adults but they are different. Focused adults are not the same as focused kids. I try to avoid focused Big People, they scare me. They not only don't live in the Moment but most likely wouldn't know it if it fell on them.

Christmas is different for me this year, in a good way just don't have a good handle on it yet but I am open and keep heading down bunny trails, looking. Looking forward to another week of Advant, with my eyes and my heart, wide open...

Pink Glove dance...

Made me laugh, then cry....Maybe I would like to be a janitor, they seem to be pretty good dancers!

naughty or nice...

I always knew the score with Santa and because I was the kid that everyone wanted their kids to be, I never worried much about coal in my stocking. The truth was I thought Santa was rewarding me for living with the family I had been given.

ANYTHING was possible with Santa. He might even wake me up and take me back to the North Pole with him where I could live the good life. Imagine my despair when I found out the truth. That those I wanted to get away from, were in charge of my destiny at Christmas.

When I grew up and the baby Jesus entered my Big Picture, ti couldn't have been more of a shock. Santa has his own Pole, this baby didn't even have a home and he was a baby. How does one wrap their brain around the Santa who cares and knows whether you are naughty or nice and the baby who would give up his life and hold nothing against me.

Coal, oh it's real alright. I have seen it at Walmart. Growing up I remember boys bragging that they got coal but I imagine that it wasn't the Walmart kind. How does a child reconcile Santa and Jesus?

My point of reference this year is Gage. He seems to know about coal but thinks he will charm Santa and has no worries. On the other hand, having the Jesus kit around ( his definition for a nativity) seems to fit in his area of understanding. Keaton has a clue about Santa and this may be his last year lving vicariously thru Santa. Whether he shares what he thinks with Gage, is yet to be seen. What would Gage's response be? Would he be infuriated or take it in stride? I imagine the boy will have some questions about whether Jesus is real if we were less than honest about Santa. That is one conversation that I would love to sit in on. Will see how it goes.

Aren't you glad that your Christmas doesn't have to depend on your behavior. If I made a list, one column naughty and one nice - Not sure I would have much to brag about. Coal could be a real option for me. It's not just about what happens to us this Christmas or the next or the next. It's about that helpless baby and the Bigger Picture. I just need a Jesus kit to remind me of what Christmas is about and enjoy the holiday time. As for the coal, I'm just not that worried...


While the sugarplum vision is swirling around in my head, I need some RealLife perspective. I discovered StoryPeople a while back and can't seem to get enough fo these little gems. I scrap with them and I live them. They make me a better person and are pushing the creative button in a good way. I heart you StoryPeople...

I think you love people until you get to understand them, she said & I said, what happens then? & she said, o, that's when you move away.

If there is any secret to this life I live, this is it: the sound of what cannot be seen sings within everything that can. & there is nothing more to it than that.

How hard is it to make stuff up? she said. Not hard at all, I said. The real trick is knowing to stop before you get confused

She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful & life was so short.

I used to be pretty clear on what was real & what I made up, but with everything going on in the world, none of that seems to matter, so I just decided to talk less & smile to myself more, so as not to add to the general confusion

Each night, all the years we were growing up, she sat in the big yellow rocking chair & pieced together our lives with countless stitches of her silver needle.

When do you get to be a grown-up? she said. When you can read & write & lie without laughing, I said & her eyes got big & she said she didn't know it was that hard

I always wanted to invent something that would move around & make funny noises & would change the world as we know it & I forgot all about that until we had kids & now I see I came pretty close.

Is there a lot of stuff you don't understand? she said & I said pretty much the whole thing & she nodded & said that's what she thought, but it was nice to hear it anyway & we sat there in the porch swing, listening to the wind & growing up together.

My grandmother was big & solid. My grandfather was tall & thin. They looked an unlikely couple. I asked them once how they ended up together. My grandmother said she won him fair & square in an arm-wrestling match. My grandpa just smiled. I let you win, he said.

Are you a princess?I asked and she said, I'm much more than a princess but you don't have a name for it yet here on earth.

My favorite thing is being your lap while we sit there together and love the whole world.

and my favorite one to date,

You may not remember the time you let me go first or the time you dropped back to tell me it wasn't that far to go or the time you waited at the crossroads for me to catch up. You may not remember any of those times but I do and this is what I have to say to you...Today, no matter what it takes, we ride home together