Easter Joy

**The Strife is O’er

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The strife is o’er the battle done; now is the Victor’s triumph won; Now be the song of praise begun: Alleluia!

Death’s mightiest pow’rs have done their worst, and Jesus has his foes dispersed; Let shouts of praise and triumph tell: Alleluia!

He closed the yawning gates of hell; the bars from heav’n’s high portals fell; Let hymns of praise his triumph tell: Alleluia!

On the third morn he rose again, glorious in majesty to reign; O let us swell the joyful strain: Alleluia!

Feeling discouraged on Friday our hope is given new life when he overcomes death and the temple is raised on Sunday.  We thought he was destroyed but he conquers and triumphs.  Hope prevails!!

All Glory and Honor and Praise be to our KING!

HE IS RISEN!

ALLELUIA!!

Psalm 30: 5-6, 12-13

Sing praise to the LORD, you faithful;
give thanks to his holy memory.

For his anger lasts but a moment;
his favor a lifetime.
At dusk weeping comes for the night;
but at dawn there is rejoicing.

You changed my mourning into dancing;
you took off my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness.c

So that my glory may praise you
and not be silent.
O LORD, my God,
forever will I give you thanks.

*The Strife is O’er – Text by Francis Pott. Tune : VICTORY

WPC – Relax

Without fail my Christmas tree invokes a sense of peace and relaxation.  During this busy and hectic time of year I relish a quiet morning – or evening – spent gazing upon the colored lights and ornaments filled with memories.  Today, the rain outside, the animals and the fireplace were an added bonus.

Christmas tree

 

Parties and Parades

The first weekend of December is typically a busy one for my family and this year was no exception.  Hosting the first of two parties on Friday night I would have to say it was a success.  Everyone seemed to have a good time and there may have even been one or two headaches the next morning when people woke up.

That’s what happens when your husband makes excellent homebrew AND your home has a full-size bar with a 4 tap kegging set-up.

Dec 9 Beer Taps

The last seven years have seen us getting up early and driving a few miles south so one – or both – of our sons could participate in the Richardson Christmas Parade with their band.

Christmas Parade 5

This band is HUGE as it includes several private schools in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex.  It’s been a fun experience.

Christmas Parade 4

With this being the last year at the current school for our 8th grader it was a little bittersweet.  But, new and bigger challenges are waiting for him as he prepares to go to high school next year.  And, I have no doubt we will find something to fill up Saturday mornings of the first week of December. 🙂

Sunday, after Mass, we headed over to our place of business (retail appliances and flooring) to watch our hometown Christmas Parade.  It is always a fun afternoon and this time was no exception.

Christmas Parade

Granddaughter, Claire, rode with the American Heritage Girls.  She had the easy part.

Christmas Parade 1

Daughter, Krista, walked the whole route while carrying a sleeping Therese on her back.

Husband, Ronald, and son, Patrick helped with LifeTeen group from our church hand out candy and treats to the little ones.

Christmas Parade 6

After Grandpa and Uncle Patrick passed, granddaughter, Gianna, had had enough and decided to sit and enjoy one – or several – of those treats.

Christmas Parade 9

Post parade grandson, Kolbe, showed me his big bag of treats and candy.  It’s almost better than Halloween!

Christmas Parade 7

And, finally, Santa and Mrs. Claus came down the road in style.  Firetruck style that is.  Stopping for a minute at the exact spot my family was standing the grandkids were able to have their own private conversation with him.  Their day was made for sure.

Christmas Parade 8

Blue skies, brilliant colors of autumn, mild temperatures and Santa on a firetruck. What better way to end the weekend?

And, now, the weekend is behind us and the daily countdown has begun.  My son, Joshua, and his wife, Emma will be home in less than 6 days.  (read that post here )  The excitement continues to build.  I can’t hardly stand it!

Merry Christmas!

Countdown to Coming Home

My second child, Joshua, has been living in Asia since early 2007.  Between his two younger brothers keeping us super busy, the distance, time difference and travel expense we haven’t seen him quite as much as we would like.

Don’t get me wrong – we have seen him.  Just not as often as my mama heart wants. He has been home to Texas a couple of times and we were fortunate enough to travel to Beijing in 2008 to see him.

We also had an amazing trip to Japan in October 2013 to witness his marriage to a beautiful young Japanese woman, Emma, and spend time with her family in their home.

But – it’s been a while.  The last time he was stateside was 4.5 years ago and the last time I was able to hug him was during our trip to Japan.

Family pic 2011

Our family has grown and changed a lot since 2011

Kids 2010

My kids have changed a lot too in the last several years

The time is coming though.

Having booked their tickets during the summer I have been waiting impatiently for their arrival day.  Trying to be cool I’ve done my best to avoid a daily countdown.

But now it’s December 1.

It’s officially the Christmas season.

And they’ll be home in just a matter of days.

Soon, all my little birdies will be in the same town at the same time.

It’s been over 2 years since we saw him in person.

My heart is so excited.

My heart is soooooo excited.

My heart can hardly get through the days it’s so excited.

They are coming home.  Let the official daily countdown begin.

 

Reasons to Shop Small Business Saturday

 I originally posted this piece on another blog but it’s a good message and bears repeating.

As you plan your holiday shopping this year don’t forget to frequent your small businesses as much as possible.

After all – we need to feel the love, and we need YOU.

IMG_0139Do you shop small businesses? Whether it is retail, service oriented, an exercise facility or an eating establishment – are you a proponent of helping families support themselves and their employees by supporting their business?

Or do you automatically run to the big guys for your needs and wants?

If you do support small businesses, than thank you! So much! If it’s not something you’ve given much thought to then I implore you….before making your next purchase – whether it is dining, lawn care, working out or shopping for ‘stuff’ – please stop, and take a moment to consider the services and goods your local small business can offer.

You see, I belong to one of those families. My husband, Ronald, and his brother, Gary own a retail store in our town. In fact, we are very proud that it is the oldest business in our city and not too long ago celebrated the 50th anniversary of its humble beginnings. But, in this day and age with the fierce competition of larger national retailers the success of our entrepreneurship is in danger of faltering.

Are you surprised? I’m sure it’s possible. After all, there is a general misconception that people who own long-term businesses that have grown through the years must be rolling in the dough. The reality is we are just like most middle-class families. We have a comfortable life, but we are struggling with a tough economy that continues to throw zingers as we try to get ahead. The ever-increasing and high cost of goods, the ridiculous cost of health insurance today – don’t even get me started on the ‘affordable’ health care act – along with the fierce competition from big box stores is taking a toll on our ability to succeed.

So, what services and goods does our particular business offer? We sell flooring and appliances and have a service department to help you when those items give you fits. They can also help you with a variety of remodel jobs for kitchens. Did you even know that? Are you aware all of this is offered right here in your very own ‘neighborhood’? (And if you don’t live in my area of Texas then apply these words to the small businesses that are also trying to make a buck wherever it is that you live.)

So why are we struggling? It’s a good question and one we are trying to answer and resolve with a variety of new strategies.

A big reason – in our case, at least – is sometimes the population doesn’t realize our business even exists. Sometimes that’s the fault of the owner – lack of or poor advertising certainly won’t help the community appreciate all you have to offer. And, sometimes the reality is people just don’t pay attention. Being located in what used to be the hub of Allen the construction of a new main thoroughfare (many many moons ago) means our physical location is seen by much less traffic. There are tons of people in town who don’t even know we are here. Attempting to overcome that obstacle, we have invested a large amount of income to advertise in and around town. Including in the Allen Eagle stadium as so many people attend Friday night football games.

Another big reason…..people assume our prices are going to be higher, they won’t be able to find a good deal or we won’t offer same-as-cash financing.

But, it’s not true.

At all.

Any extras you find with a large retailer we will also offer. We are quite capable of competing with the big boys on their prices and often, we can even beat them.

Let’s look at the reasons why you should shop with us:

1. Again….first & foremost – Our prices and selections are competitive with the big boys.

2. Our sales team is going to offer you the expertise and a level of service that you will not find at Home Depot, Lowe’s or Nebraska Furniture Mart. Period. Our employee’s knowledge of the merchandise we sell is going to be more extensive, and you will find our sales team is genuinely interested in helping you find the best product to meet your particular situation. Each one of our associates understands that by making you happy and keeping you satisfied we are helping the business to succeed which translates into job security.

3. But, if, God forbid, you have a problem or an issue that has left you dissatisfied then the associate helping you is going to have a direct line to the owner. And, I promise you, Gary and Ronald WILL return your calls and work to resolve any issues that may occur.

4. Being a small, family-owned business, I admit that our hours are not as long or as extensive as a larger retailer. We are not open late and we are not open on Sundays. Again though, because your business is important to us we will work around that obstacle for you. If you cannot come in during regular open times then you can contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your schedule.

5. When you come in – or call – repeat customers can find out when each of their items was purchased and/or repaired. Whatever information you may need on whatever items you bought or work you had done – all of that history is available with the click of a button.

6. We service what we sell. You don’t have to worry about looking around for a third-party repairman if something goes on the fritz. You bought it from us and we will work to get it fixed. Again…..see #2.

7. As a small business, we remain resolved to giving back to our community. Keeping your tax dollars local and buying from ‘mom & pop’ stores helps us to keep paying it forward by employing our neighbors and supporting causes that directly benefit our town.

8. We are also committed to supporting other small businesses in our city. We want them to succeed as much as we want to succeed. After all, small businesses are the backbone of this great country in which we live, right? No matter what the service or dining options being offered or the goods being sold, America has a historically successful middle class because of the small business owner.

So I’m asking you – wherever you live – please look for and shop at the small companies that make up the fabric of your community. Give us a chance to help you and give you a better experience then you’ll get with a large company. Seriously, it doesn’t cost anything to check us out and see what you’ve been missing. And, if we can’t find what you need or get what you want than those big chain stores are just down the road.

Come see us. We need YOUR business to stay in business. Oh – and tell your friends too. 🙂

Thanksgiving Eve Sunset

On this warm and windy Thanksgiving Eve my house smelled of  cinnamon and spice and everything nice as two loaves of pumpkin bread baked in the oven.  It evoked a feeling of coziness and safety.

And yet another reminder of how much I have to be thankful for.

Inevitably – as it always is in nice weather – the back door was open and I wandered to the back yard so I could enjoy a few relaxing minutes.  In addition to the delectable aromas wafting outside I noticed a red tinge to the sky.

Another one of God’s beautiful pieces of art was evident for all to see.  The sun was setting and the sky was lit up with those brilliant colors that make you want to stand still in wonder at the majesty of it all.

The colors were changing by the second and within ten minutes the brilliance had dissipated.

Another reminder to savor the little moments when and while you can.

On this, the last night of the amazing hues of autumn, (before the Christmas colors take center stage) I couldn’t help but grab my camera so I could remember the moment.

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

 

 

Holiday Double Standard

I saw a meme on Facebook today titled “The Dirty Dozen” and it listed twelve retail stores that will be open for shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

It stated: “These twelve stores will start Black Friday on Thursday, rather than give their employees a day off to spend with family and friends.”

What are your feelings about this trend? Will you shop on Thanksgiving Day or not?  I don’t think I will.  I want the day to be about the four ‘F’s’.  Family. Friends. Food. Football.

And therein lies the double standard.

I love football on Thanksgiving.  Without fail I will watch my Cowboys play on Thanksgiving Day.  I’ve even had the pleasure of seeing a game in person on this holiday.

But, if the reason we are against shopping on Thanksgiving is because it forces employees to work, rather than be with their loved ones, then why doesn’t the same standard hold true for the entertainment/service industry? (And, to be clear – I’m not talking about medical professionals or those in law enforcement or emergency services. There are many jobs that must continue 24/7 and don’t have the luxury of shutting down for a day.)

Anyway, what about the families of those who will work the countless jobs associated with a professional football game?  How about the movies?  Or restaurant workers?  Shouldn’t we be all riled up over them having to work, too?

It’s a holiday double standard if we see no issue with eating out, going to the movies or a professional sporting event but feel indignant over stores being open.

It’s something to think about.

However you spend Thanksgiving Day I pray that it is a happy and blessed one for you.

Gobble Gobble.