I had no idea, when I decided to lug the recycling up to the bin tonight, that a full moon was waiting for me at the top of our winding path. It peeked at me from between the trees, but then BOO! there it was, resting just above the silhouetted hill in front of our house, shining bold and bright and casting shadows of trees across the dirt road.
What a sweet surprise. I had no need for a flashlight -the moon cast a soft glow across my path. An echo of daylight.
I paused and embraced that moment...
...The moon, and its frame of wispy clouds. The sprinkling of stars. The slight chill of a Texas autumn. Far off, I heard a car making its way through the hills. A dog barked.
Mostly, it was quiet and peaceful, and I let it just wash over me.
I gave thanks.
This can be a crazy time of year. And it can be a sad time of year, even while it's joyous.
It's like a rainbow. Or maybe a braid.
Peace is often the weakest color. The weakest strand.
We demand a lot of ourselves and our families. For instance, I was not going to let this Christmas go by without putting up my tree and decorations. But between me and that goal sat my mom's chest of drawers and my grandmother's cedar chest in the middle of my living room (not where furniture belongs), plus a bunch of boxes full of my mom's photo albums and of my own books still longing for a place on a shelf.
I had one Saturday to find a place for the furniture , and then weed through all of my books, deciding who stays and who goes. so I had a spot for the tree.
And I did it. I admit I still have 3 or 4 boxes full of children's books stashed away until I have grandkids, but I filled several more boxes of books that will go to other homes.
It was another week before I had time to actually decorate my house and tree. So I gave the task four hours (or, three favorite Christmas movies, however you want to put it), then had the kids put away all of the boxes, even though only about 2/3 of the decorations made it out.
But it was done.
I'm trying to keep sight of what the season is all about than just be busy with the signs of the season.
For me, it's the season of Advent, which I've already written about HERE, and preparing for the coming of Christ.
Like other religions, that also means spending more time with family and friends, and showing your appreciation to them. It also means spending more time in reflection and prayer.
But life, and work, continue, making the same demands as always.
Something's got to give.
We no longer do mandatory gift-giving, but I do still plan to send out cards, even though I send way more than I receive.
I just love the tradition. It makes me sit and think of each person on my list, to reminisce and give thanks they are still in my life. Even if it's just to send a Christmas card once a year. I've been sending my own since I was in 9th grade.
Actually, I had planned to work on cards this evening.... until I saw the moon.
Which made me say thanks, and made me think of other blessings in my life lately.
So, without further ado, here are some recent sweets...
Having all my kids together, and finally properly celebrating my 31st anniversary of becoming a mother. And, of course, my son's birthday.
(Weird, wonderful coincidence: Two girls who graduated with my son gave birth to their firstborns on my son's birthday - so we share the anniversary! Isn't that amazing?)
An afternoon of food, friendship, and wine! We had been trying to schedule a day to meet at Flat Creek Estate Winery for about a year to take advantage of a raffle-prize group wine tasting, and finally managed it this past Sunday.
Of course, it was perfect timing, right in the middle of the holiday stress, to just sit and relax with friends you've known for ages, who know your ups and downs and are always cheering for you.
...especially when you've just become a grandma like the beautiful un-grandmotherly-looking woman on the right, whose beautiful granddaughter was born on my son's birthday.
The beauty of autumn leaves.
Each morning I run/walk with Belle down our dirt road, reciting the Rosary. I never quite finish, so I take a couple of laps around my house.
One day I noticed these leaves lying on our porch swing. I mean, I finally saw them lying there, and realized how beautiful they were.
Sometimes we get too caught up in our habits - even good ones - to really pay attention, don't we?
Another morning I was jogging down the road and noticed a splash of red in the cedar trees.
Out of pure curiosity, I continued running past our house to see what it was.
And I was glad I did. (Thank you, God!)
Yes, the beauty of autumn leaves.
Being accepted as a member of the next Agent Leadership Council of our market center was a huge honor. You have to be in the top 20% of production - which I didn't even realize I had reached - plus go through an interview process.
And I made it!
Keller Williams is different in that agents help make big decisions in the operation of the office. We won't get paid for our time. It's just a way of giving back and trying to help make us even better.
We started with an all-day retreat last week... which started with breakfast tacos from Taco Donut Palace. (Remember, we're in Austin!)
One morning, after way, way too many gray, drizzly days, the clouds disappeared and we were given the most beautiful, crisp, clear sunrise.
That moment when the sun kisses my hollow is always so amazing, like a painter bringing his work to life, and especially after you've been starved for color. This photo doesn't do it justice, but I hope it gives you a hint.
Definitely another "thank you" moment.
Belle has a new friend.
Our neighbor's cat, Willow, has started hanging around our place quite a bit.
It made me nervous at first because Belle has a gung-ho hunting spirit, and I was afraid she would hurt (kill) Willow, without meaning to.
But Willow is pretty savvy. She has not only survived, but seems to have the upper hand in the friendship most of the time.
Honestly, I know she's just here because of the mice and the bird feeder - and the slim hope of making it indoors.
But seeing them together, especially during this political season that seems to never end, brings me hope that we can all focus on our common goals and interests. I know we have them.
We don't have to give up our individual beliefs, but we can show respect for each other's. Fear is taking on way too much power in this country these days.
And that's what will be our downfall. Not our differences, but Fear.
Don't let Fear guide you. Focus on hope, love, and peace. They are just as powerful.
I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, full of love, hope, and peace. If you're missing loved ones, as I am, focus on the people you still have in your lives, on giving and sharing. I do believe it helps keep sadness from clouding the sweets all around us.
May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.
~Ada V. Hendricks