Heartfelt Holidays #MyChristmasPlaylist

Confession time… Although I love Christmas, I hate being cold. Thus, I hate winter. With a passion.

The taller little one is me… Surviving Winter (in Germany)

It was actually a big considering factor for me when I decided to move to Florida in 1999. Yes, I’ve been in cold climates. Lived in both Germany and Chicago. I’ve lived in warm ones, too… Hello Philippines.

Now, I don’t know if that particular opinion is an unpopular one or not, but we can always take a poll…

What’s your favorite season? What about holiday?

And is there anything about the holiday you love that may be considered an unpopular opinion?

*psst* My secret is that I can’t stand Love, Actually (the movie).

I know.

I know…

It makes me a heathen.

Still DON’T LIKE IT!

My most favorite thing of all? Christmas Music! One of my all time favorites is Amy Grant‘s Tender Tennessee Christmas.

Isn’t it awesome that my newest favorite group, Home Free, covered it with they talented Rachel Wammack? Take a listen and see if you don’t understand a little bit of why I’m now a dedicated Home Fry (what they call Home Free aficionados).

Does this not help to make your season bright?

These guys are AWESOME!

Have you heard of these guys? Are you a fan? What’s your favorite Christmas song?

It’s Not About What You Get….

Well, at least it isn’t for me. My joy has always been in the giving. Knowing I managed to do something to brighten someone else’s day. So what about those who are less fortunate? Maybe this song was meant to be part of a children’s cartoon lesson/story….but I think the message goes way beyond them, don’t you?

I’m trying to think of some sort of anonymous thing I could do to brighten someone else’s holiday… Have you got anything like that planned? If you do, I could use some help brainstorming…

What can I say, I once heard the lyrics “Love isn’t love till you give it away” and it stuck with me.

Christmas Miracles and Sharing Hope

A big part of the Holiday Season are gifts and miracles. Even non-believers are often able to suspend cynicism to find something wonderful.

One of the pleasure I’ve gained because of my blog comes with the people I meet along the way. In fact, that’s how I was introduced to one of those miracles. Imagine this for a moment… You’ve just had your first child months prior when your health starts to rapidly decline. You go to the doctor and are given the frighteningly terrible diagnosis. Yes, it’s the dreaded “C” word…and not just any, but one that usually sees you dead within the year. She was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. That was back in 2005.

As most of you know, I love to tie music in to my posts. When I asked her for a favorite song, she gave me one of Peter Gabriel‘s greatest songs. When you consider her story, the love and support she received from the people around her…and the fact that she’s here for her daughter, the song makes a special kind of sense.

Heather Von St. James has an amazing story that I hope you check out for yourself and share with others. It kind of reminds me of another one of my favorite Christmas tunes. Afterall, when everything is at it’s darkest…. That’s when we usually find our miracles. Personally, I believe in all sorts of miracles. So here’s Amy Grant with My Grown Up Christmas List.

Do you know anyone who could use some extra positive thoughts or prayers? Maybe someone suffering from cancer who needs a bit of hope? Or maybe someone who IS another Christmas Miracle? Please share on here…. I’d love to add them to my prayers, and I’m sure if we all get together to push good thoughts and prayers this way…we can give hope and miracles a helping hand….

A Father’s Love

As easy as Mother’s Day is for me to celebrate…such strong feelings of love and laughter…the opposite is true for me with Father’s Day. There are some who might say I have “Daddy Issues”. Not in the sense of being sexually drawn to men to fulfill a father type role in my life, but in that complicated, unsettled way. He wasn’t there as a parent both physically and emotionally. His choice. Thankfully, my mom was.

With Dad Me, my little sis and my bio dad

What does that mean?

Although my parents divorced when I was 10, my dad had been slowly becoming a nonentity in our household much further back. In fact, this picture taken in Germany was probably one of the last times we were really just being close and hanging out… Once we moved back to the Philippines he got caught up in wanting to go out and party with his friends and would forget to come home except every once in a while…and usually just to sleep.

When my youngest brother died, it was the last straw, both for my parents’ marriage and my father’s coping abilities. I suspect that it was easier for him to pretend we didn’t exist than to be there for us. If it weren’t for my grandparents and the rest of his family, I suspect we would have lost contact completely.

For a long time I was hurt, angry….yes, even a bit bitter. It made me careful in my own relationships. I didn’t want to take the chance of bringing a child into this world and making him feel the way I did. I didn’t want them to cry with bittersweet disappointment over songs written about Fathers and their kids…knowing that they’d been robbed of such a special, unique bond. That hurt…Jimmy Wayne get’s it right in his song…along with a sense of hope once you finally let go of your anger and hurt (one of the hardest parts).

I doubt my relationship with my biological father will ever be easy or simple. Too much water under that bridge. But I’m not angry anymore. The better word to describe my emotions? Wistful. There’s a part of me that understands that there’s a bond most fathers have with their children, not just their daughters. I’ll always feel a tug at my heart when I hear one of those awesome songs that describes what a loving father/child relationship can be like.

But you know what? I did the next best thing. I found a person to share my life who values family. Believe me, I tested him. There’s a reason it took 16 years before we finally decided to get married. Thank goodness for patience (his, that is). Any children I may have will never wonder if they mattered. That won’t be a question in their vocabulary.

As for my father? Over the years of trials and heartaches I’ve remembered I have a Father who’s loved me all along. Like Amy Grant sings… When the world looks at me, I want them to say I have my Father’s Eyes. There’s a peace in realizing he’s loved, protected me and accepted me unconditionally all along.

Having said all this…Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there who take the time to be parents to their children. For me, there’s not much cooler than a man who absolutely adores his kids.

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Maligayang Pasko…

Last night we had our candlelight service at church. I was honored to be a part of it and got to sing. In fact, I’d planned on maybe singing a song for you guys, but neither my computer nor iPad was cooperating. Now, I don’t have nearly the voice or talent of the artists I’ve been sharing with you guys over the last few weeks, but it would’ve been heartfelt…

Having said that…I heard a folk story for the first time that I’d never heard before. It was about dreams…what you’d wanted to be…and how sometimes it differs from God’s plan for you. He DOES have some AMAZING plans for our lives… It’s kind of funny how we fight them sometimes, but as long as we love…and have a little faith…he’ll find a way to make us into what he’s planned for us all along. His plan is always so much bigger and better than what we come up with. 🙂

After hearing the story, which, incidentally reminded me of my friend Mae and her Mythical Mondays…I thought I’d share it because it’s a great reminder… Never to lose hope or faith…and to trust HIM to make our lives into the dreams we never even knew we had!

Now there’s a longer, fancier version of this story…a 20-30 minute movie…but I decided that’s just way too long.  Anyway, I hope you and yours appreciate this little Christmas message…

Enjoy today. I hope you spend it with the people you love, showing them just how much they mean… and that the next year is a happy and healthy one.

As usual…here is my final Christmas song for…the one I wanted to sing for you… I hope you love it as much as I did!

Can you imagine how scared Mary must have been? I think that’s part of the miracle, don’t you? I mean…if you think of that time, she was only about 14 or 15 years old. What a responsibility!

Merry Christmas!

How About Tennessee For Christmas?

I remember being a young girl and hearing this song… Something about it resonated with me…and made me want to move to Tennessee…LOL! I never actually moved there, but I discovered later that I have a love for Nashville if for no other reason than I love country music and their ballads. There’s also something about how she and Vince harmonize that I really enjoy. Who knows…I’m still reasonably young…I could find my way there.

The funny thing is, there’s controversy about this video because she wrote this song back in her youth with her ex-husband, Gary Chapman. Here, she’s singing it with a good friend…who she later marries. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s a beautiful song. She sang it well with both men…and does an amazing job singing it alone. But she married young. It didn’t work out. Speculation is that she overshadowed him with her fame…and that led to him making some catastrophic life choices. Maybe…maybe not. Fame is a difficult thing, I think. At the end of the day…I choose to chalk it up to youth….and just enjoy the song.

Amy Grant’s Christmas albums have always been my all time favorites…they just feel so heartfelt. After you hear it…I’m sure you’ll get why I thought Tennessee had to be awesome. I know it’s not the only song out there written about a specific state or country…Do you have a song that resonated so much you wanted to live there when you heard it? What was the song and where did it make you want to go?

I’m A Sick Girl…No, Seriously!

Well, it’s official. I’m sick. Something came on like gangbusters on Wednesday night that had me on my bon bon by Thursday morning. My writing buddy called to see how my WIP was coming along and her first words were…”You sound like hell!” I don’t have time for this. I really don’t. I need to finish my WIP immediately, our family and friends are coming over on Sunday to do an early Thanksgiving/birthday party for my mom. And I leave for El Paso on Tuesday or Wednesday. Do you know what it’s like to get on a plane when your sinuses/ears are acting up?

I went to the doctor today. The official diagnosis is…sinus infection to go with a viral infection. So now I’m on meds. Fingers crossed that they work quickly.

Sitting here all sick got me thinking. When I’m sick I like “comfort” everything. Comfort food, comfortable clothes, comfort everything. For me, comfort food is mac and cheese…maybe some chicken noodle soup….some grilled cheese. It’s also the only time I trade my coffee in for tea. Hot tea. With honey for sweetener.

First thing I usually do when I’m sick is a hot shower. I want to fool my body into thinking it feels better than it actually does. Then i like to dress warmly…encouraging my body to sweat out any toxins in a comfy old sweatshirt and cotton pj bottoms or sweats. On my feet, I like to wear warm, fuzzy socks.

I like to curl up into a ball in bed under the comforter and maybe watch reruns of some of my favorite shows. Most of the time I hope to catch old Ally McBeal episodes…  I loved that show.  Loved the humor, loved the music, loved the unisex bathroom….

Or if I’m in the mood for music, I like curling up with comfy music, too…Like Kenny Loggins with Amy Grant and Return To Pooh Corner.

Or when I really don’t have any energy…I’ll just read my favorite books…The ones that are worn and dog eared…like The Outsiders and The Witch Of Blackbird Pond.

What about you guys? What are your favorite comfort foods? What do you do when you’re not feeling well? Do you have any rituals? Cross your fingers that these meds kick in quickly. I’m supposed to be seeing Breaking Dawn Part 2 tonight.  :-/