White Christmas

snow-fallingIt was July 2, 2006. It was the wedding day of my sister and the love of her life. I hope both Tim and Angie remember this day! HA!

It is a day I know I’ll never forget, filled with a memory that sticks in my mind. Yes, the wedding was great. But I will remember what happened at the reception. And No, it was not the same thing that happened at my cousin’s wedding a few years later to my brother Eric and his soon-to-be-wife Emily. I can’t elaborate on that memory, as I do believe I’m the only one that witnessed “it.”

Anyway, on July 2, 2006, it was around 10pm. The wedding reception was outdoors and it was hot, over 100 degrees at the start of the evening. The band was on a short break,  probably went inside to cool off. About halfway through the 20 minute break my brother Kyle got the urge to walk up onto the band area, grab the microphone and started singing a cappella “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” Right in the middle of a very hot and steamy St. Louis summer night he’s thinking of a snowy Christmas. And if I remember correctly, my Dad grabbed my Mom and they started dancing as my cousin’s husband joined Kyle at the microphone singing their rendition of the first ever Christmas carol to be sung at a July wedding. It was quite comical, but a good memory!

You are probably wondering where I am going with this. I’m sure many family members are chuckling as they, too, remember the incident at the reception. But Christmas is the key word in this story, since it is just a few days away. It seems to come sooner and sooner each year. To me, that’s a great thing. Granted, this memory at the wedding did not happen at Christmas time, but it did get me thinking about Christmas, especially a white Christmas.

I absolutely love snow. Everything about it! From skiing to snowboarding to even shoveling it and driving in it…..cautiously. It is pure awesomeness to me ……is awesomeness even a word? HA! Plus, the beauty of it is so breathtaking, and how eerily quiet falling snow can be. Have you ever been in the middle of nowhere on a dark quiet night watching and listening to the snow fall? It’s simply amazing!

And what can be more beautiful than waking up on Christmas morning with a fresh blanket of snow covering everything. It is clean and perfect, especially if there are no footprints or tire tracks going across it.

When I was a young kid, my sister Angie would not let us play in the snow in our front yard because she didn’t want it messed up. She, too, loved the cleanliness of it. It was tough not to play in it as a kid, as we had a perfect yard for sledding. But because she was the boss…..at least she thought she was…. we listened to her and played in the neighbors’ yards or our backyard instead. HA!

Growing up in Missouri, there were not too many white Christmases, just a handful that I can remember. But the times it did snow on Christmas Eve night made Christmas Day that much more special. It made a perfect day even more perfect. Christmas with snow can’t be beat.

Maybe you’ll experience fresh snow falling on Christmas this year. Consider how clean it is, how pure it looks, and how perfect it is before animals or people or cars make their marks in it. And think about another perfect day when God’s perfect Son was born….the first Christmas. Because of His birth….and years later….His death, He made us white as snow, perfect in every way.

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? I know I am, even in Texas.

I’m praying you have a very merry Christmas with your family and friends.  Wish I could join you!

nativity

What Are You Thankful For?

thankful

When I awoke last week on Thanksgiving morning, I cheerfully said “Happy Thanksgiving” to a handful of the other inmates in my unit, most of whom I’m friends with. But I also went one step further this year. After saying Happy Thanksgiving, I said to each person, “Now tell me, what are you most thankful for?” I got a few strange looks and a few umms…..but for the most part, all the inmates I asked actually told me what they were thankful for and were legitimately sincere about it. I had a few off-the-wall responses, but the number one answer that people gave me was “family”.  What astonished me was that when most people gave me their answer, they would tell me why they were thankful for what they said, even going into details. What I liked most, though, when talking with them, was the smile on their faces. I could tell that they were extremely passionate and proud, especially if they were talking about their family.

I know I could go on and on about my family. Being away from them these past four years is when I have needed them the most. They have all been with me every step of the way, supporting me, forgiving me, and continuing to pour out their love to me. This is my fourth Thanksgiving away from them, missing out on all the family traditions of each holiday.

You should know that I am also thankful that I have had another family while here in Texas – this time a family of inmates, some of whom I am proud to call my friends. Even though they come and go, we also have started Thanksgiving traditions like football games, post Thanksgiving feast meals (I like to eat on Thanksgiving!!), and game nights.

I do believe Thanksgiving is a time to be around family, whatever kind of family you may have. Yes, even that cranky old uncle that you have to face every year!! Family is the reason why the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend is the busiest traveling weekend of the year. Most people are thankful to be around their loved ones, creating lasting memories.

I truly miss it all, and cherish all the memories that have occurred from years in the past. I know the first Thanksgiving after my release will probably have a different but deeper meaning than any other I have known. I know there will be so much I’m thankful for, even the small things people take for granted, like a second glass of milk or enough butter for your entire roll or the smell of turkey in the oven.  But first and foremost it all starts with thanksgiving for my family and loved ones. I can’t wait to gather around the table with all of them again. If you haven’t already, tell your family today just how truly thankful you are of them.

Dad, Mom, Angie, Eric and Kyle (and Tim, Emily, and Dana)…….thank you all for being an amazing family. You have all continued to pour out your love to me through this whole ordeal. I couldn’t ask for a better family. The fifteen minute phone calls I make may not be that important to you, but they mean the world to me. I honestly am filled with excitement the entire day, knowing that in the evening time I will be talking to you. Thank you for supporting me, encouraging me, and not giving up on me every step of the way. I don’t know when this will be over, but in my opinion, it doesn’t matter because I know that you will continue to be a perfect example of a perfect family. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I love and miss you all.