A Prayer for a Friend Doubting the Faith

I've never used the "share this" option for Blogger before...we'll see how this works. :)

I often link to Scotty Smith's "Heavenward" posts on Facebook...his prayers so often resonate with me, and he is one of those lyrically beautiful writers whose wordcraft I work hard not to covet. I really felt today's post merited more than Facebook's pesky character limit would allow. :)

A Prayer for a Friend Doubting the Faith

This post took me back to a time when I was the one, as Scotty Smith describes it, "with a bull's eye painted on [my] chest." Never would I have expected to be in that position..."beyond anger"...feeling abandoned by God...being sucked in by Satan's twisting, undermining, and sabotaging. I had been taught the foundational truths of "Jesus loves you" and "God is good" since cradle roll and had been a firm believer in God's sovereignty from the time I first understood the word. Suddenly, I found myself doubting God's goodness, and the thought of His sovereignty brought anger instead of comfort.

It was a mercifully short period, marked by intense wrestling with God over these and other issues. At the time, only a few friends (and my husband) knew about the struggles...and even they didn't know all that was going on in my heart at the time. Oh, how I hated that they were having to slog through such a pit alongside me...but oh, how thankful I was and am that they groaned and grappled and "stay[ed] present in [my] chaos".

I am so thankful for friends who didn't run {screaming!} the other way, but who pursued me in those dark days. I am even more thankful for the God who not only caused them to pursue me, but who pursued me Himself in His amazing love and grace. I am ever-so-thankful for joy tenderly and mercifully restored. And I pray that God will give me the grace and boldness to be a grappling, groaning, pursuing, present-in-chaos friend to those who are wrestling with bull's eyes on their chests...today, next week, and always...


In "Other" Words...God's Grace for *Every* Day!

”Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. 
And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.” 
~Jerry Bridges

In the time I've been a hostess for In "Other" Words, I've been continually amazed at the way things can change between the time I select the quote and submit it and the time I actually sit down to compose a post weeks or months later.  Such is the case again this time...and with only a few weeks in between!  

As I've mentioned before, 2010 was a "good" year for us...it certainly wasn't perfect, and definitely had its {not-so-great} moments....but compared to the six previous years...it was a year of peace and rest for us.  When I selected this quote in early January (or somewhere thereabouts...:)), I was on a roll of "good days" and even "best days".  God had blessed us immensely in so many ways through the holidays and the turmoil of the last half-decade plus seemed to be fading into a somewhat-hazy memory.   

I was even *almost* over that "waiting for the other shoe to drop" feeling that had been fallowing me  around since 2006.   Occasionally it would tap me on the shoulder, wave from across the room, or wake me up in the night...but very, very rarely anymore.  

And yet God had taught me much during the relative "peace" of 2010.   Lessons quite different than the ones learned in the midst of trauma and pain, but lessons, nonetheless.   One of the biggest was summed up in the second line of this week's quote..."...your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace."  

We'd been through six years of some of  the most intense storms life has to offer.  In those years, there was no doubt whatsoever of our need for God's grace.   We clung to it as a drowning man clings to a life preserver.  And in His amazing faithfulness, He taught us clearly the truth that "Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace."  Even in the days that I wrestled...the days that I doubted God's goodness for the first time in my almost-40 years, and the days that the concept of God's sovereignty just made me downright mad...even on those days, His grace gently reached down and pulled me close to His heart, as a Shepherd carrying His baby lamb. (Isa. 40:11)

More recently, though, as we've enjoyed a bit of calm in the midst of the storm...knowing that our storms are far from over, but enjoying the peaceful periods while they last...we've been reminded over and over again that we don't just need His grace on the  "bad days".  We don't just need His grace in the midst of the storm...in fact, sometimes we need it *more* on the good days.  

On the good days, we sometimes forget that we need that life preserver  we've been clinging to so fiercely through the stormy times.   It's easy to float along, enjoying the sun on our face, forgetting that we can't swim on our own.   The good days are the days we need His grace to remind us that we can do nothing in our own strength, that we are to die to self daily, that we must fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.  

The "good days" that  we were enjoying when I selected this quote were swallowed up by my  sudden severe pain flare and out-of-the blue renewed trauma issues in our children  soon after the first of the year.   We went from enjoying bountifully good days to facing deep, dark bad days in what seemed like nothing flat.   And yet God's amazing grace didn't change.  He has sustained and comforted and blessed us even through the hard days, and as we seem to be moving back now into a possible period of peace, He is giving wisdom and strength and perseverance to catch up and continue with the tasks to which He has called us.

I am so thankful for God's grace for *every* day...and for the truth that at our very worst...in our sin, our pain, our grief...we are never beyond the reach of His grace, and at our very best...when we are on the mountaintop, delighting in His blessings and goodness and worshiping Him for All that He is...we are never beyond the need of it.  

It is truly amazing...EVERY day....

Join us today for In "Other" Words.  Share your thoughts on the quote, link up here (with the direct link to today's post, please, not the main page of your blog...), and then visit others to read their thoughts as well.   I look forward to reading your take on today's quote!


  1. "Day by day, and with each passing moment,
    Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
    Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
    I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
    He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
    Gives unto each day what He deems best—
    Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
    Mingling toil with peace and rest.
  2. "Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
    With a special mercy for each hour;
    All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
    He Whose Name is Counselor and Pow’r.
    The protection of His child and treasure
    Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
    “As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
    This the pledge to me He made.
  3. "Help me then in every tribulation
    So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
    That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
    Offered me within Thy holy Word.
    Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
    E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
    One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
    Till I reach the promised land."
  4. ~ Karolina Sandell-Berg


A Bit of a Ramble...Part 2

Part 1 (read here) ended with this outline (of sorts) of what was to come in Part 2..."But the book is only the beginning.  It is followed by a deep, dark night, a "happened-upon" blog post on the theme word broken ~ Why God Made a Breakable World , a Sunday morning song (or two :)), and a sermon...our weekly "digging in" to a few verses from Romans, which landed us this week in Romans 8:20-22...about the brokenness and restoration ~ remaking ~ not only of the created being, but of creation itself."   On to "the rest of the story" now...

Ann's book (One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are ), and the encouragement that came along with it, were Saturday afternoon.  Saturday night the freight train hit.  At least it felt that way!  Saturday night brought increased pain and decreased mobility, and not one, but TWO girls in our bed with night terrors.  I woke up feeling as though we had entered a time warp...that we had gone back to a time I desperately did NOT want to repeat that included both debilitating pain and sleepless nights comforting terrified children.   I finally got up, shuffled in to my desk, put my head in my hands, and said to myself, to the empty room, and to God (although not nearly so clearly or nicely), "I can't do this again!!"   Wasn't there a commercial at some point that said, "Haven't got time for the pain"?  That kept  running through my head as I looked around my house at the major projects that need to be done by spring, as I look over long-term homeschooling plans for four children, as I put menus on paper that require a great deal of "scratch cooking" due to our renewed commitment to be both frugal and healthy.   And the night terrors...well, it just goes without saying that it is not okay with me for my sweet girls' sleep to be interrupted in such a traumatic way.   I was feeling very broken...completely crumpled, as a matter of fact.

I decided I needed to re-read some of what I had read in One Thousand Gifts the day before, so I went to Ann's blog, knowing that there was a link to an excerpt there.  While I was there, I "poked around" a bit, and came across a link to Jeanne Damoff's post Why God Made a Breakable World.   This was my first visit to her blog, but I realized quickly that she is another with an amazing gift of wordcraft.   I also realized that the conclusions to which she has come through her own road of suffering are conclusions to which God has brought me in recent years as well.  In her words, "God wants His people to go deep, and the deep things of God are hidden in redemption. This world was never meant to remain perfect. It was meant to be a potter’s wheel. A refiner’s fire. A place where mere men can be conformed to the image of Christ."  Yes.  Exactly that.  And I needed to be reminded of it at that very moment...and to continue to mull and ponder it throughout the day and then some...

On to church...my first Sunday services in several weeks...and the music through which God always seems to speak so clearly.   I love Camp Kirkland's "It Will Be Worth Everything"...

"It Will Be Worth Everything
When we see Christ, the King,
When He reigns.
Yes, it will be worth everything....

...We will meet Him in the air
On that day, oh, so fair.
What a Day!  
He is coming to take us, 
Completely remake us, 
And it will be worth everything!"

And then the always-powerful words of "It is Well"...

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my  way, 
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, 
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, 
Let this blest assurance control, 
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, 
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin--Oh, the bliss of this glorious thought:
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, 
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!"

And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight, 
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll, 
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, 
'Even so', it is well, with my soul.

It is well...with my soul...It is well, it is well, with my soul."

~Horatio G. Spafford

As we were singing these verses, I was struck by the fact that verse 3...the verse that I tend to "overlook" in this song...should really be the most exciting of all.  A "glorious thought" indeed...and one that should overshadow *all* of the momentary trials that I often let overwhelm me.  

I was anxious to hear Bro. Kent's sermon...both because I had missed the last couple of weeks, and because of a comment that Lyndel had made in choir Wednesday night.   I spent the whole sermon being amazed (again!) at the ways God weaves the circumstances and influences in our lives together in a way that makes it crystal-clearly obvious that He is at work!

Snippets from my sermon notes...

Romans 8:20-22
In verses 18-19, God declared that all of the suffering we endure is not worthy of being compared to this glory that is to be revealed.  {My note...In the midst of the other events of the weekend, I had posted a link on Facebook to an update about a Pakistani woman, Asia Bibi, for whom we have been praying as she is in prison for her faith.  Her life has been threatened, and the government official who was instrumental in getting her death sentence overturned was murdered recently.  A friend commented on the link, "Our persecutions are not worthy of comparison, so far."  And my thought at that time was, "Nor are our sufferings..." I was reminded of that again here...our sufferings seem SO huge, and yet, even the sufferings that are greater than we can imagine are nothing compared to the glory that is to come!}  
All the beauty of creation and the grandeur of the Heavens are but a *shadow* of His glory.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, all of creation was dragged into sin with them....when they were broken, all of creation was broken...
When Jesus comes back, not only are *we* going to be restored, but all creation is going to be restored along with us...completely remade!
One of the most common misconceptions about sin is that sin only hurts the one who is sinning.  Even "secret sins" affect every relationship in your life--and even those with whom you have no relationship--it is a ripple effect to everyone around you.  
What we see...all we have ever known...is a broken creation.  Like someone who has never seen a car seeing two vehicles mangled from a head on collision and being asked to describe what a car looks like...impossible.  We read in Job that before the Fall, "the morning stars sang together..."   There was no rain...the earth was watered by a mist from the ground.  We have no idea how glorious creation was then...but we know that He is in the process of restoring it to its original purpose, just as He is restoring  His children.  
What does all this mean to us?  First, our sin is a much bigger deal than we think it is...just as we don't realize how broken creation is...and it looks beautiful to us...we don't see sin as the repulsive, depraved debauchery it really is...sin is a VERY big deal.  {This brought back to mind my thoughts about the 3rd verse of "It is Well"...}

Second, God subjected creation to the curse...But he had/has a redemptive purpose...wondrous desplay of His glory as he remakes it.  He is doing something through those who are saved..greater than what happened to the world through Adam's sin...a display of His glory.  We are going through all of this because there is something wonderful beyond description on the other side...like a woman in childbirth...like Jesus enduring the pain of the cross for the joy on the other side (Hebrews 12:2).  
Scripture tells us (Isaiah 65:17) that this world and the suffering that comes with it will be forgotten and never come to mind.  {Wow!  Love that verse!}  

Yes, we are broken.  Yes, we live in a broken world.  The universe itself is broken, and the grandeur that we see in it is only a shadow of what it was before the fall, or what it will be when it is restored and remade.  As Jeanne Damoff says, "God always knew the world would break."  He made a breakable world.  For reasons I can't begin to understand...because I'm not God!...that was part of His redemptive plan before He ever created the world or anything in it. The current consequences of that brokenness that we see in our lives are nothing compared to the joy and glory to come.  

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."
~ Philippians 3:8-11

1~ That the brokenness was not an accident, not a mistake, but part of the perfect redemptive plan of a loving Creator-Father...  

2 ~ For the lessons He continues to teach me in the broken places...

3 ~ For the healing He continues to grant daily...

4 ~ For the blessing of the good days...the pain-free days, the trauma-free nights, the times that His blessings seem to overwhelm...

5 ~ For His Word, which truly is a light unto our paths and a light unto our feet...

6 ~ For the gift of music, and the comfort and joy He brings through it...

7 ~ For books and blogs and printed words of all kinds that encourage and inspire and teach and cause me to ponder...

8 ~ For friends who pray and encourage and cry and laugh (and make me laugh when I think i couldn't possibly!)

9 ~ For my children who bring so much joy, who build so much character :),  who amaze me everyday...

10 ~ For my husband, who loves me no matter what, and spoils me, and picks up my slack in so many ways, and who most of all demonstrates Christ's love to me...

11 ~ For the "bliss of this glorious thought: my sin, not in part, but the whole is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more...Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Oh, my soul!"

I'm linking up (for the first time!) today with Ann Voskamp's "1000 Gifts" and  Peter Pollock's "One Word at a Time", for which this week's word is "broken".  (And try as I will I can NOT get the 1000 Gifts graphic to load...I have tried over a dozen times and can't get it to work.  I'll try again later...)


A Bit of a Ramble...Part 1

Thoughts...hundreds of them...wrestle in my head, and I am restless with the need to move them from my head through my fingers onto the screen.  But...along with a most untimely (and unwelcome!) pain flare has come a most frustrating bout of brain fog, and I can't seem to find my way through the mental jello to put the thoughts together into a coherent whole.  

It's not an unfamiliar position in which to find myself...and I am aware of the usual drill.  Jot down a note or two about the thoughts swirling through my mind, add to my "to do" list for the next few days..."Blog about _________", and *if* I can manage to keep up with the notes long enough, by the time I have enough mental clarity to actually type them into readable form, there will be a whole list of such posts, and I will not remember even a fraction of my original thoughts about any of them, and they will descend into the black hole of "blog posts I planned but never finished (or even started)", never to be heard from again.

As I say, I've been in this place before.   More than a few times.  The gaps in the chronology of my blog are testament to that.

So...I am going to attempt to toss these thoughts onto the page...or more accurately, I suppose, the screen...and hope that by the time I hit "publish" there is *some* sense of...well, sense to them.

I started to say it started with a book.  But actually, it started with pain (mine) and trauma-induced night terrors (a child, and then another).   Pain has been a frequent, if intermittent, visitor over the last few years, and night terrors were a constant companion for one child for months that stretched into years.  However, as 2010 drew to a close, I was enormously grateful that we seemed to have entered a period of peace on both counts...the night terrors had been almost non-existent during 2010, and while my health had been far from smooth sailing, the extreme pain episodes had been fewer and farther between than in years previous.

Suddenly, right along with the new year, these two unwelcome guests returned almost hand-in-hand:   A slightly different twist in the pain, and a different child with night terrors. These guests brought with them a deep weariness, and a strong temptation to surrender to the discouragement that constantly tried to drag me into its pit.  I so do not want to walk these roads again...

Then came the book. :)

I discovered Ann Voskamp's blog several years ago, and I remember from the first post I read realizing that she was a companion on the journey of suffering...a fellow student in the "Sovereignty of God 101" class, if you will.  Her posts often described things  that God was doing in my heart in beautiful words I could never dream of writing.  When I discovered that she had written a geography curriculum, I decided immediately that I wanted to incorporate it into our schooling, if only so that my children could get a taste of her amazing gift of words.  It's been one of our most successful curriculum choices yet.

Ann Voskamp's first "real book" (I'm sure there is a better way to phrase that.  She has written the above-mentioned geography curriculum, and a beautiful Advent e-book, but this is an adult non-fiction "buy on Amazon" book. :)) comes out in hardcover this week.  The Kindle edition has been out since just before Christmas.   Yesterday I not only had a chance to play with my friend's new Kindle (and fall in love :)), but also to read several chapters of Ann's One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are  on it .  Wow.  I haven't even managed to post my "Favorite Books of 2010" post, and I've already decided that this is going to be one of my favorite books of 2011.

You can read exerpts here.  And when you have read them and decide that exerpts aren't enough, you can order the book here: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Ann speaks of trauma, of pain, of loss, of brokenness.  Brokenness of people and brokenness of planet.  And as I read, I not only felt a sense of kinship for myself, but for my my children...children who have experienced in their young lives more trauma and loss and brokenness than many adults have experienced in a lifetime.  And in that kinship, I feel...again...hope.  I realize that the words that flow from Ann's heart through her fingers would never have flowed in such a way had the brokenness born of  trauma not come first.

So many more words in those early chapters grip me.  Words of goodness-doubting and glory-returning and and grace-filling and God-craving and mystery-nourishing...words that resonate deep inside with understanding and hope.

But the book is only the beginning.  It is followed by a deep, dark night, a "happened-upon" blog post on the theme word broken ~ Why God Made a Breakable World , a Sunday morning song (or two :)), and a sermon...our weekly "digging in" to a few verses from Romans, which landed us this week in Romans 8:20-22...about the brokenness and restoration ~ remaking ~ not only of the created being, but of creation itself.  Don't you love it when it seems God is composing a theme and variations as He works to grow us in a specific area?!   He's doing it again...:-)

I said there were hundreds of thoughts...and I warned they would be rambling. :)  This already-too-lengthy  (although I'm sure not my *most* lengthy :)) post only incorporates a fraction of them.  However, pain has invaded with a vengeance, the mind has shut down right along with the body, and the remaining words...of night, blog post, song(s), and sermon...will have to wait until morning.

Until then, I grasp the hope...thankful for the reminders that it is actually He who grasps me in His grace...

Read Part 2 here


15 Years Ago....

As I sit here this morning bundled up in my softest, warmest sweats, with a fuzzy throw across my lap after what was apparently the coldest night of the season so far, I'm thinking back to the weather 15 years ago today.  I always think back to the 1996 weather on January 13, because it was the most perfectly crisp, beautifully clear, amazingly sunny winter day one could begin to imagine.  The week before, the weather had been beastly...frigidly cold (somewhat like today...), with heavy snow falling and treacherously icy roads, driveways, and sidewalks.  (I remember that because my Woodland Heights shower was that day at Becky E's house...and I was flabbergasted at the number of people who showed up...including my crazy best friend from Arkadelphia!!...despite the frightful weather...)

With Mother and Daddy :)

Billy with his mom and dad

And we had been warned...over and over...by an older co-worker about getting married in January.  "You'll see," she said often, "This date will be a mistake.  You'll deal with ice and snow and bad roads and your anniversary plans will be cancelled and it will be horrible...IF you even make it through the wedding without a blizzard."  Bless her heart.  Her parents had married in January, and their long-awaited 50th anniversary celebration had had to be cancelled due to snow and ice, after our friend had put much time and money into the party plans.  I have no idea what will happen with our 50th (should we even still be around then...:)), but in 15 years, we've never had a weather-related anniversary catastrophe yet. :)  (Of course, part of that could be that we rarely make "big plans" for our anniversary to begin with...:))

Shoeless bride with maid of honor (Tauna Marie) and bridesmaid (Liz Stephens)

My adorable niece, Brianna :)

But January 13, 1996, was clear and beautiful.  Almost *warm* by January standards in Arkansas...but not warm enough to cause me to get overheated in the dress we'd all fallen in love with.   The ceremony and reception were beautiful and full of wonderful memories.

Mother and Granny Kitty (so classic!)

And now fast-forward 15 years...four wonderful children, moves from an apartment to townhouse to a house we never planned to be in this long!, assorted jobs, health issues in varying degrees of severity, deaths of four grandparents and a parent, a NICU stay, two children who have been victims of violent crime, 3 automobile accidents (2 minor and 1 more major)...oh, and a death threat about this time last year...we've had lots of  "for better" and a fair batch of "for worse" for 15 years!  And with God's grace weathered it all and come through, I think, stronger than ever.  

I am so thankful for my sweet husband.  He spoils me terribly, he puts up with my limitations and eccentricities, and he is an amazing daddy to our children.  He truly lives out in so many ways the admonition of Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her..."  I am thankful for 15 years and looking forward to many more (and maybe even a blizzard on our 50th...Ha! :))

Billy's amazing groom's cake...he's never quite gotten over the fact that he only got one bite!

Happy Anniversary, Billy!   I love you!!


What happened to December???

Oh, my!   I can't believe it has...again...been almost a month since my last post.   Eek...!   The blog police (aka my friend J...;-)) will be after me soon.  Somehow I had visions of this December being different...calmer, with time for all the things I never "get to" during the holidays.  Hmmm.  Not sure what happened, but December somehow got away from me and suddenly it was the first week of January!

Part of it was that we *did* get to some things we don't usually get to.  We made a flying trip to Conway...my hometown...on Dec. 5 to hear "A Keyboard Christmas" at my home church.  It was totally beautiful...12 keyboardists on 5 grand pianos...wow!  It was even more special because they performed 2 pieces arranged by our current minister of music...since starting our "Keyboards at Christmas" celebration several years ago, he has become quite the multi-piano arranger.  His arrangements are amazing, and it was such a treat to hear them performed by "another" church. :)  And then to top it off...I got to see long-time friends that I haven't seen in years...what a blessing that was!!!   We got to spend about an hour before the performance visiting with my jr. high Sunday School teacher and her husband...they are two of my favorite people in the world, and I hadn't seen them in way too many years...it was so good to just sit and visit for a bit, although our time was short.  We are already planning another visit soon! 

We also did some fun things like riding the train at Creekmore...that used to be a tradition for us, but we've missed it the last year or two.  We got there early, didn't have to wait too long, and it wasn't horribly cold...cold enough to feel Christmasy, but not bitter cold!  It's always fun to see the lights from the "inside" vantage point of the train, rather than "just driving by" as we do numerous times during the season.  

The highlight of our season is always the Christmas music at church.  Both Keyboards at Christmas and the children's choir music the following week were wonderful, and it was a treat to get to be part of them!  Then, of course, we had the churchwide Christmas fellowship, our annual Christmas caroling to the homebound, and a tremendously fun youth Christmas party.  

Can't believe I almost forgot!  Birthdays!  Birthdays always keep us a *bit* occupied in December as well.  We start the month with Peter's, end the month with mine, and celebrate Billy's not quite in the middle.  This was a big one for Peter....13!!!!  Can't believe I have a teenager now...seems like it was just yesterday I was rocking him to sleep in his Noah's Ark nursery. :)  I didn't get to do a birthday post for him like I did for the girls in August...I still plan to do a belated one (although I'm sure he would prefer it if that was one I just didn't "get around to". :-D)  Aunt Marlena happened to be here on Peter's birthday, so it was fun to get to celebrate with her and Mamoe.   We won't talk about how old Billy and I are...although the good news is...I'm a year younger than I thought I was going to be!!  Yeah...don't ask.  For some weird reason I have thought for over half this year that I was a year older than I actually was.  *Shaking head and rolling eyes*  Anyway.  My family (and a friend or two) spoiled me to death and I had an amazing birthday.  We took a spur  of the moment roadtrip to Fayetteville for lunch (and bread-buying) at Stone Mill Breads and then some shopping...and even a quick photo shoot at Devil's Den (which was a bit chilly, but still fun! :))

And speaking of birthdays, poor Bayley finally got her birthday present!  She had been saving for a new camera since late spring, and when her birthday rolled around in August, she asked for money for her camera fund.  She worked and saved and saved and worked and finally bought her camera the first week of December.  I'm not sure who was more excited...Bayley or Mom!!  I'm loving watching her excitement about a hobby I've always loved.  

Add in another Christmas party or two, a mad rush of last-minute Christmas shopping (because that's just the way it worked this year...;-)), helping with a birthday slumber party for a friend, and the fact that I started working a few hours a week right in the smack dab middle of the holidays...:)....and *THAT* is where December went.  (Oh...and two bouts with health issues that knocked me out of commission for a bit...almost forgot about those. :))

When I started this post, I planned for it to be a belated "Happy New Year" post, but it seems to have turned into a "What Happened to December?" post instead...so perhaps I'll close this post with an even-more-belated "Merry Christmas!", and save the already-late "Happy New Year" for the next post. :)