Wedded Bliss

It is hard to imagine that a year ago today we were rushing around here getting ready for a wedding! Goodness!

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What fun! The weeks leading up to the wedding were full of family times, working together, everybody pitching in to make Barron and Morgan’s day magical! Grandson Jett told one of his cousins that “Tatu was building Mo a wedding!” and indeed he did! Even a dance floor.

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 I think one of the most fun things about a home wedding is that the grandkids, and everybody else actually, were so comfortable because we were at home!

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Friends and neighbors pitched in, making it twice as much fun and we felt so loved!

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The house got a little attention. I got to do some things I had been wanting to do, but now I had to do them…you know…because of the wedding. ;)

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I had so much fun setting up a little table for the grandkids.

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Our daughter, Holly, is an incredible florist, as is our neighbor, Helen. Pretty handy to have a florist in the family and one next door!

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Her daddy was so proud of his baby girl!

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The vows were made extra special because Barron’s dad, Barron Sr. was able to perform the ceremony. So, so sweet.

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Then the party! There was some laughing and dancing going on!


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And then, just like that, it was over!

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And then guess what? All that hard work paid off.  Less than a year later, we welcomed our 7th grandchild…Allyn Kaye Bell into the world.  That’s a pretty good return, wouldn’t you say?

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So if you are looking for us, we’ll just be hanging out with this girl while mom and dad celebrate their anniversary.  I can guess who’s going to have more fun!

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If Table

A few weeks ago, down in Austin, Texas, a bunch of women gathered and asked the question, “If God is real, then what?”  They called it the If Gathering.

They were young women, a lot younger than me. Hungry for the Lord, hungry for relationship, hungry for deep connections. Those kind of things don’t change with age.

So…

I decided to host an If:Table.

I paid attention to the ladies around me…some I knew well…one I just met in passing (in the restroom at church, actually)…and I invited five ladies to join me for dinner.

It was nothing short of amazing. We talked, shared our hearts, laughed and made plans to do it again.

The idea of the If:Table is…

6 women
4 questions
2 hours

(Acts 2:46)

So, if you are anything like me, and the five women that joined me, longing for deep connections that can take place around your table, you might want to have your own little If:Table.

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Frozen Fail

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The big day had finally arrived! Frozen was out for home viewing! Betsy and I had talked about the big day…counting down the days…so of course, early that morning Tatu and I ran out and grabbed up a copy, lest all of the millions lining the shelves should sell out! (In case you are wondering, yes, we both went…it’s just what we do. We also grabbed breakfast.)

I had big plans…she already had the Frozen dress, makeup and hair. And let me tell you, it had to be Elsa’s dress. It seems like a big mistake on Disney’s part that nobody wants to be the sister. So when purchasing Elsa’s dress, which are few and far between, you see lots of the sister’s dress, not so much the other. Which I don’t get…she is so cute.

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She even had a Frozen birthday party!

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So, I made big plans to pick her up from school, the newly released movie in hand, and surprise her for a little Frozen viewing party after school. She was thrilled! We got to my house, made popcorn, even homemade lemonade, and settled in for what was to be my first time to see this movie that I had heard so much about! After about ten minutes she said, “Honey, I really wanted to jump on the trampoline with the boys.” Well, okay.

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So we loaded up and I took her home to jump on the trampoline with the “boys”…one boy in particular being a cute little blonde neighbor that she suspected would be there. And he was.

Sometimes you just have to let go of those big plans…anyway, a new hose to my central vac came in that day and I really just wanted to vacuum.

 

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123 Years Is a Long Time

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When Ricky asked me what I wanted to do for Valentine’s Day,  I knew exactly what I wanted the evening to look like.  He liked my idea and I quickly shot out a few text and extended the invitation to a few couples, inviting them for a relaxed dinner. I was thrilled when I heard back from them and everybody was available! As I began to prepare for the evening, I thought about the marriages that would be represented and what each of them meant to us, as couples and individually.  There is so much strength and encouragement that comes from surrounding yourself with people doing what you are doing and doing it well! As we visited, we added up the years we had all been married.

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Wow! 123 years of marriage around our table! That’s a lot of years and a lot of experiences! The one thing that stands out among these particular couples is that they are all, as my 6-year-old grand daughter would say, BFF’s. Truly best friends. Forever.

It was such a fun evening, with the perfect mix of good food, music, and laughter! I had a dinner request from one of the guys, Shrimp Creole.  I had served that meal years ago, like seriously 25 and he still remembered it! I was happy to oblige and it is EASY! What’s not to love about that? It is from an old tattered Betty Crocker Cookbook for Two that I got as a wedding gift when we got married. Of course I quadrupled it! And dessert… we got an ice cream maker for Christmas and we have LOVED a butter pecan ice cream! Trust me it is a game-changer in the ice cream world! I know, I know, you are supposed to have chocolate for Valentine’s Day. But, oh well… Both recipes are listed below.

I hope you are opening up your home, inviting people to enjoy food and fellowship around your table! It is the best!

Shrimp Creole

2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 medium green pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
Snipped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 package (7 ounces) frozen cleaned raw shrimp
1 1/2 cups hot cooked rice.

Melt butter in 8-inch skillet; cook and stir onion, celery, green pepper and garlic over medium heat until onion is tender. Stir in tomato sauce, water, parsley and seasonings.  Simmer uncovered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in frozen shrimp; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until shrimp are done, about 10 minutes. Serve on rice.
2 Servings

Butter Pecan Ice Cream (This is a game-changer!!!)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup pecans
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1. Melt butter in a medium skillet.  Add the pecans and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Cook over           medium-low heat until pecans are toasted and golden, stirring frequently, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the heat, strain and reserve the pecans, allowing them to chill.

2. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the milk, sugar and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.  Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.

3. Turn the Cuisinart (that’s the one I have) ice cream maker on; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Five minutes before mixing is completed, add the reserved pecans and let them mix completely. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture.  If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours.  (This is what I do, it is ready to serve when you need it!)

Makes about 5 cups.

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Mourning and Dancing

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die;  …A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.   Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

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We welcomed beautiful Vivie into our family on Sunday, October 13 and on Friday, November 1, we said good-bye to my Daddy.

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That’s a lot of emotion to process and quite frankly, I’m not doing that great with it! Daddy’s death came at the end of a confusing, rapid, unexpected season of confusion and declining health that left all of us reeling.  My summer consisted of trip after trip to south Arkansas, every time finding him weaker and weaker, more and more confused.

I am grateful and will always treasure one of the visits.  We sat alone on a rainy afternoon in  his room at the nursing home.  He had fallen, was dehydrated and not expected to live.  I found a station on his fuzzy television that played worship music.  You know those stations that show scripture and nature scenes along with the music? The presence of the Lord was so strong that afternoon! Daddy was more alert than he had been in many days. We talked about lots of things.  I was able to tell him how much I loved him, how much I respected him, and how grateful I was for him.  I will cherish that afternoon forever.

Another visit, just days before he passed away, my daughter who is expecting her first baby in December, joined me.  Daddy was not very alert.  We would wake him from time to time to speak to him but he would fall back to sleep quickly.  Sitting in his room, feeling this new life kick inside my daughter’s tummy while watching my Daddy slip from this life is really hard to get my mind around.

As family and friends gathered to say our good byes to Daddy, I was again reminded of how precious and fragile life is.

I am so grateful for the ways precious friends have loved me and mine in so many ways! I am encouraged to love deeper and with more abandon.

 As we approach this Thanksgiving season, I will embrace the joy that surrounds me! I will hold these precious grand babies a little closer, breathe deeply that newborn smell,  enjoy the life that is bursting to the brim around me, always moving forward!

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I Like This Day

ImageWe have a precious new granddaughter!!! Meet Vivie…She was born Sunday, 10-13-13.    She is beautiful, perfect!

This guy can’t get enough of his baby sister!

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Her arrival gave us an opportunity to have a few days with all of the rest of the grand babies! Yay!

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Our time was magical! It had been a while since we had all of the cousins together and it could not have been any more perfect! It was a rainy, cozy, chilly day and we loved being together! We started the day off looking at my Grandkids Pinterest board, got some ideas and planned our day!

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We had to recruit Tatu from his office for one of our projects!

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This guy just waited at the bottom and laughed!

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There is something about having them here together that is so, so special. I love watching how they relate to each other, the way that the older ones consider the younger ones, and look after them. I was sitting and chatting with our oldest grandson, who is now ten years old, and in his very reserved way, he commented, “Honey, I like this day.” My heart is full!

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The Long Hot Summer

This summer almost killed me.

When attending Wednesday night prayer meeting while growing up, somebody occasionally had an “unspoken request”.  I am not sure how much prayer they got but they sure got everybody wondering what in the world was going on.  My intention is not to make you curious about what all is going on, just know that it has almost killed me!

Because my story intertwines with others, I am not able to pour my heart out here. I am a big believer that somebody’s story is exactly that, THEIR story and I don’t tell other people’s story. I can only tell mine.

BUT…

GLORY TO GOD! CHANGE IS IN THE AIR!

I feel it!

And man oh man…I am ready!

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:19

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Why I’m Grateful for Miley Cyrus

I was enjoying a little time away with my husband when Miley Cyrus big performance aired on the VMA’s but it was hard to ignore after glancing over my Facebook!  It made quite the impression! I finally had to see for myself what all the uproar was about.  Well done Miley Cyrus! You made it harder and harder for mommy’s and daddy’s who are trying to raise up a generation that follows hard after God’s own heart to put up with this kind of crap! For a long time, we’ve been deceived into thinking that we could enjoy a little bit of the world’s entertainment, explaining away the things that we find distasteful, thinking that it goes unnoticed by the little eyes and ears that take it in.  But this latest display of “talent” has gotten us riled up! It’s about stinkin’ time!

What are we thinking when our precious little ones emulate dances and actions that they have observed on shows much like the VMA’s while we as parents and grandparents have videoed, laughed, clapped and encouraged.  How are they to have the discernment as to which of these displays of talent are OK to emulate and which ones are distasteful?  I repent!

We must wake up! Those of us who call ourselves believers must pay attention to the ways that the enemy of our souls and the enemy of the souls of our precious little ones would want to bring destruction.  We must be on our guard.  Our little ones are sponges, soaking up everything around them, watching our responses to all of it! We, the ones that have been in trusted with these precious lives must lovingly guide and direct them to those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable excellent and praiseworthy!

I am grateful for anytime that the enemy seems to “overplay” his hand.  It is a wake up call.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. ”  1 Peter 2:9

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What Are We Going to Call This Day…

“What are we going to call this day?” …one of the many times that I wondered if something was going on with my Daddy.  But nothing prepared me for the rapid descent into a world of confusion.  It’s almost as if he knew it was coming.  On one of the many trips that I made out this summer to the small Arkansas town where he lives with his new wife, he wanted to take care of business.  His doctor had told him that he could no longer drive and he never argued.  I was his driver as we travelled around town taking care of business, tying up loose ends.

On one of those days he wanted me to drive him to a nearby town to see one of his oldest and dearest friends.  He took me straight there, never making a wrong turn, but on our arrival he never got to see his old friend.  Instead we visited with his widow and we left with a copy of his friend’s obituary. He then wanted to visit an aunt in a nursing home nearby.  Then he was done.  He offered to buy me a coke on our way back home, then got to the register realizing that he didn’t have his wallet, so unlike my Daddy who never went anywhere without it.  He continued to slip farther and farther away.

As of this week, my Daddy is in an Alzheimer’s unit in his small town.  I draw comfort from the knowledge that he is not in pain, and that he is content. He sits around a domino table, shuffling the dominoes that he used to play so expertly, still making jokes, laughing, making new friends.

This has been a summer full of unexpected challenges. I find myself needing more and more time alone to process all of the changes, hanging on the the promises that I know to be true, clinging to the only One who knows…

My sister expressed it so perfectly in a Facebook post…

“Sometimes life really smacks you with just how much we are not in control! Watch over my father, Father.”

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Forty Years

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I usually write when I am all inspired after a wonderful time with family and friends, feeling grateful, feeling accomplished, like I have something to offer my readers.  Today I come from a totally different place.

This has been a summer I would never have planned.  I have not had control.  Man, I love to have control! I dreamed about this summer, Ricky and I celebrate forty years of marriage this month…I had big plans! I had an idea about what this summer would like and it quite frankly has not measured up! But what I found was quite a surprise to me…I am at peace.  This is HUGE! Maybe I am really starting to believe that…He knows the plans He has for me…that He has begun a good work in me and will see it finished…that He works ALL things for my good because I love Him…that He is all I need…that He is enough!

That being said, I am sure praying and hoping that this last stretch of summer comes in strong!  I’ll keep you posted…

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