Thursday, December 31, 2009

A decade in review, part I

My poor baby Andrew! At three-years-old, while in preschool, Andrew fell during outside playtime and broke his nose. I remember this day five years ago as if it happened yesterday. I had JUST left his class where I had celebrated with my oldest son a Mother's Day tea. My mom had kept Nicholas, who was only one, so I could give Andrew my complete attention (this is the same year Katie was in the hospital with pneumonia, I might add). I had barely made it to my mother's house to pick Nicholas up, when I got a call on my cell phone that Andrew had fallen on the playground (on a rickety bridge) and his nose might be broken. I rushed back to the school, my "high" from our special tea brought down like an elevator within seconds. When I saw my sweet son, blood and tears coming down his face, with an ice pack pressed precariously to his nose, I had a hard time keeping my composure (and the contents of my stomach down). But I stayed strong and enough adrenaline came through to keep me going. The director had already called our doctor so we went straight to his office. The most horrible part of this whole story, which may come as no surprise, is when we got home. Nicholas saw Andrew's nose, went up and poked it and the bleeding started all over again. Sigh...'tis the way it goes with children.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.
~Unknown author

...Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have...
1 Peter 3:15

My awesome Christmas present

Guess what I got for Christmas? A scanner! Now I can scan old pictures and share them with you. I have always been a big picture-taker, so I have a lot of great pictures (except the ones I destroyed of old boyfriends, but then you wouldn't want to see those). I was always voted the "scrapbook person" because of all the pictures everyone knew I'd be taking anyway. Looking back, I can now see that by taking pictures all the time I could move around a lot and not get stuck with just one group of people. I have always been a free bird, and never, ever have I been cliquey, so that suited me just fine.
Okay, back to the scanner. The picture above is the first one I tried out on my new idol. It was taken during my (now deceased) maternal grandparent's 50th anniversary celebration. The picture shows my grandparents and me with my sister and our first cousins. It was 1983 and I was in high school. Hurricane Alicia had hit our town only days before and left a tree in our house, but we left everything as is to get to San Antonio for this very special event. The gala is one of my fondest memories of my grandparents before their health started failing.
So before I sign off for now, I want to leave you with a question. Please leave your answer in the comment section. Which one is me in this picture? I know- kind of easy but, hey, it's a start!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions to Stick To...
by Laurie Kolp

A new year, a new decade
the chance to improve
The biggest goal is
to keep my new year
most of which involve
partaking in healthier
exercising again, but
this time listening to my
Achilles tendons,
eating a more well-rounded
finishing that book
before it becomes
and sending off my
piled-up set of
Of course, what
goes without saying-
do everything in
and good will
to all;
most importantly
and number one-
my family.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

One last look at my Christmas cardinals

These beautiful cardinal cards were sent from some very dear friends; people who have struggled through some of the same difficulties I have. We share a very special bond, and it makes me feel very honored that they thought of me when sending Christmas cards this year. Thank you, my friends- you know who you are.

Here is one last "collage" of all my Christmas cardinals. As you can see, a calendar was among my gifts. It is a bird calendar, and the very first picture is this one of the male cardinal. The last picture of 2010 is a beautiful female cardinal. Ahhh...I can tell it's going to be a great year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Who Needs Viagra?

Dear Whoever-Keeps-Trying-to-Leave-Viagra-Comments,
I wish you would have the gumption to say your name instead of remaining anonymous. Your harassment is getting annoying, so leave my wife alone. We don't need any Viagra in this house. Go pester someone else.
~Mr. K.

Christmas magic

Merry Christmas! I am sitting in my new plush computer chair, drinking fresh ground coffee from Starbucks, and listening to the kids play happily with their new "stuff."
We are going over to my sister's house shortly for Christmas dinner, so I thought I'd share with you another beautiful cardinal card I received from a VERY SPECIAL friend, Jeni. The message on the front says:

"I heard a bird sing in the dark of December- A magical thing and sweet to remember."~Oliver Hereford

Isn't that so sweet? I absolutely love this card and will cherish it forever! More cardinal cards to come...and Happy Birthday, Jesus!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.~Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve
by Laurie Kolp

Is it really Christmas Eve?
Sometimes it's hard to tell.
People flit and rush all day
acting like they're from hell.

Just try to make it to the mall
or to the grocery store,
and you will find rude people
perusing the streets galore.

No patience or kindness have I seen
in the last minute rush,
everyone seems real panicky
their manners are like slush.

Yes, it's really Christmas Eve
and nobody can spoil my joy
because I try to keep in mind
the birth of our savior boy.

...Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today...a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.
~ Luke 2:10-11

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A cardinal painted just for me

I am so truly blessed to be part of an online poetry group. We met a few years ago on Robert Brewer's Poetic Asides blog and then went on to form a more exclusive, personal group where we share poetry daily and even offer each other support during life's difficulties. One of the members of our group, Michelle Hed, is not only a writer and poet, but also an artist. When she sent me this beautiful (handmade just for me) Christmas card, I asked her if I could post a picture of it on my blog. She said okay so I proceeded to ask her a few questions. Read on to find out about this magnificent lady and friend.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I am a forty-one years old and I have been married for 19 years today (Dec. 23). I have two beautiful daughters (ages 12 and 9) and two dogs. Painting, reading and writing are my three major passions, with a sprinkling of photography, knitting and sewing to keep things interesting. I’m a stay at home Mom, but I volunteer at my daughters’ schools three times a week.

2. What came first- writing or artwork?

I would have to say artwork. I’ve been drawing since I could pick up a crayon. Although while reflecting on this question I remembered that in elementary school I wrote a story on what Christmas would be like in the future ~ which I recall we would all have metallic Christmas trees ~ and this story was printed in our local newspaper. So I guess the spark for writing started pretty young as well. I didn’t start writing poetry until I was in High School. I would have to say art is very similar to writing – in that you don’t immediately paint a masterpiece, just as you don’t immediately write that best seller in a first draft. One of the animals I wanted to paint for my Christmas cards this year was the Sea Otter. No matter how I tried I couldn’t get it to look right ~ looked more like a misshapen gnome. I decided now was not the time for the Sea Otter but I will revisit him when the time is right.

3. What inspires you?

Friends and family inspire me the most. For instance when deciding which four animals to draw/paint for my annual Christmas cards, I’m always thinking of my friends and family and which animals they like or which animals mean something to them. My four animals this year are the wolf (my daughter’s favorite animal), the cardinal (special bird for you), the common house cat (my parents and so many friends have cats) and the bear (my Dad and my nephew – my dad because they get bears frequently as their house and my nephew because he is afraid of them). Also, I have found nature to be very inspiring for art, writing and photography. I just really love nature. There is so much beauty in nature to enjoy and appreciate if we just took the time to enjoy it.

4. What are your hopes and plans for the future?

I hope to one day have my poetry published. I am currently working on two different books, both of which are collaborations. I would also love to have my art recognized but I am still deciding how to approach this one. I sometimes think I should like to try illustrating, or perhaps start working craft shows starting small with cards, but haven’t as of yet decided what route I would like to go. I think I have plenty of time to decide as I continue to grow up!

5. Do you have a website, blog, or some other way to be reached?

No blogs or websites, I’m actually an extremely private person, an introvert. I took a huge leap of faith two years ago, when I joined Robert Brewer’s Poetic Asides poetry challenge. I haven’t looked back since taking that leap. I’m now on Facebook, although my privacy settings are very strict and I also have a very close group of writing friends, whom I actually have never met in person.
Thanks for interviewing me for you blog Laurie. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you! Merry Christmas everyone! – Michelle Hed

Merry Christmas to you, too, Michelle (and everyone reading this). Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to answer my questions. I will be featuring more special cardinal cards I have received in the coming days.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A sweet story

'Friends are God's way of taking care of us.'

This was written by a Metro Denver Hospice Physician:

I was driving home from a meeting this evening about 5, stuck in traffic on Colorado Blvd., and the car started to choke and splutter and die - I barely managed to coast into a gas station, glad only that I would not be blocking traffic and would have a somewhat warm spot to wait for the tow truck. It wouldn't even turn over. Before I could make the call, I saw a woman walking out of the quickie mart building, and it looked like she slipped on some ice and fell into a gas pump, so I got out to see if she was okay.

When I got there, it looked more like she had been overcome by sobs than that she had fallen; she was a young woman who looked really haggard with dark circles under her eyes. She dropped something as I helped her up, and I picked it up to give it to her. It was a nickel.

At that moment, everything came into focus for me: the crying woman, the ancient Suburban crammed full of stuff with 3 kids in the back (1 in a car seat) , and the gas pump reading $4.95.

I asked her if she was okay and if she needed help, and she just kept saying 'I don't want my kids to see me crying! So we stood on the other side of the pump from her car. She said she was driving to California and that things were very hard for her right now. I asked, 'And you were praying?' That made her back away from me a little, but I assured her I was not a crazy person and said, 'He heard you, and He sent me.'

I took out my card and swiped it through the card reader on the pump so she could fill up her car completely, and while it was fueling walked to the next door McDonald's and bought 2 big bags of food, some gift certificates for more, and a big cup of coffee. She gave the food to the kids in the car who attacked it like wolves, and we stood by the pump eating fries and talking a little.

She told me her name, and that she lived in Kansas City. Her boyfriend left two months ago, and she had not been able to make ends meet. She knew she wouldn't have the money to pay rent Jan. 1, and finally, in desperation had called her parents, with whom she had not spoken in about five years. They lived in California and said she could come live with them and try to get on her feet there.

So she packed up everything she owned in the car. She told the kids they were going to California for Christmas, but not that they were going to live there.

I gave her my gloves, a little hug and said a quick prayer with her for safety on the road. As I was walking over to my car, she said,

'So, are you like an angel or something?'

This definitely made me cry. I said, 'Sweetie, at this time of year angels are really busy, so sometimes God uses regular people.'

It was so incredible to be a part of someone else's miracle. And of course, you guessed it, when I got in my car it started right away and got me home with no problem. I'll put it in the shop tomorrow to have it checked, but I suspect the mechanic won't find anything wrong.
Sometimes the angels fly close enough to you that you can hear the flutter of their wings...

Psalms 55:22 'Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee. He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.'

Monday, December 21, 2009

by Laurie Kolp

Can you see my cardinal
singing so sweetly to me?
This is just one of the many
whom the other day I did see.
They cheer me up with their chirp,
I watch in humble revere;
as my cardinals enlighten my day
and I watch them with such glee
until they fly away.
Thank you, God, for setting me free.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowie's trick

The other day we were all staying in because of coughs and colds hoping to get well before Christmas. I was playing around with my camera (remember I am pretty much an electronic dummy) and discovered how to tape movies. So I tried it out on the dogs first. Keep watching and you will see Snowie perform her acrobatic trick for you- hilarious. Then when I got over to the boys, you can see they were quite enthralled in their computer. Let's hope Christmas vacation gets a wee bit better (and that my taping skills improve, too).

P.S. Please ignore the shoe mess. I don't know where it came from.

Friday, December 18, 2009

God carries us

My sweet cardinal sang to me
just the other day
and as I sat listening
I remembered to pray;
for every time I hear my friend,
I know just what to do:
stop, sit still, and listen
so God can carry me through.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Don't forget to hop on over for the Christmas event of the year. Click here for more details. Hope to "see" you there!
Don't forget to hop on over to the Christmas party of the year. Click here for details. Hope to "see" you there.
The best thing to give to:
Your enemy is forgiveness;
An opponent, tolerance;
A friend, your heart;
Your child, a good example;
Yourself, respect;
All men charity.

~F.M. Balfour

A fitful night

Story of my life:

Exhausted, I scramble into bed earlier than usual hoping for peace, rest and bliss. Instead, visions of sugar plums dance in my head, as I recall the Christmas mess.
I toss and turn for an hour and a half, wondering why Pete's staying up so late.
At last he joins me and I say "I CAN'T SLEEP," but he's already in another state.
The minute Pete's head hits the pillow, he's mush; but when I try to sleep during the holidays, my mind is slush.
by Laurie Kolp

I put apple juice in your cereal
as the dogs chewed up the carpet,
why do you always turn the other cheek-
ignorance is bliss,
or is it some form of laissez faire?

I put your shirt on inside-out
but my feelings were on the sleeve;
why, oh why do you act that way
with your holier-than-thou attitude,
or is it insecurity?

I drove my car off the road,
the day is too cold,
I wish I had mittens-
or is it I just want
some kind of recognition?

Why don't you live up to
your good intentions-
butter on the bread,
or is it bread on the butter?
I think Dr. Seuss knew what he was doing.

So do I (maybe)...why don't you?

Monday, December 14, 2009

A bevy of friends

Today I have been inundated with cardinals. It started out this morning when I heard them chirping in the backyard. I went out to sneak a peek and there they were- several red beauties singing to me. Then just a few minutes ago I went to my front window and a bright crimson male alit on my bird feeder just in time for me to see him. I then caught a movement out of the corner of my eye and spotted another male on my porch under our chair picking up left over pumpkin seeds. I sat praying and watching for a good ten minutes as the cardinals took turns going back for more and standing guard. I had to thank God for His reinforcement as I have been dealing with some very emotional issues lately. I really needed to know He was still here for me and God did just that by bringing hope and joy to me through my cardinal friends... and thus forcing me to pray (since that is what I always do when I see a cardinal). God is the ONLY ONE who will never let me down and I find comfort in knowing that.

Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other that yourself to enter into the very center of your being, and to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, to touch there what you would rather leave untouched. ~Henri J.M. Nouwen

Friday, December 11, 2009

by Laurie Kolp

Children singing on the go
Happy faces all aglow
Red cardinals in the snow
Images of mistletoe
Santa making presents grow
Tree’s aroma tickling so
Many miracles to bestow
Angels dancing in the know
Smile’s never-ending show

Oh, how I love Christmas!

Tell those you love how special they are

Can you believe this picture from CCD (Catholic education) says that Nick's guardian angel is Annabelle? That was Ms. Angelle's first name. The CCD teacher has no idea about our life and Ms. Angelle. Somehow, she chose this name for Nicholas. I do not think that is a coincidence at all. I think Annabelle is looking down on all of us from up above, and I am especially grateful she is Nick's "guardian angel." You see, ever since he had that horrible nightmare, Nicholas has been scared to be alone. He thinks Ms. Angelle's skeleton is hiding under his bed at night and that she follows him around to haunt him. Poor thing. I told Nicholas that Ms. Angelle is looking over him to tell him he doesn't have to be afraid anymore. Let's hope that works.

This picture was taken at Sam's last year.

I really miss Ms. Angelle. I miss visiting her and bringing her sweets. I miss listening to her stories, going to Sam's and out to eat at the Golden Corral with her. I miss hearing her laugh at silly things and speak her mind at things important to her. But I am comforted in knowing she is still with me in memory and spirit- just like Mary. One day I will see both of them again.

It has been exceptionally cold lately and we had to get out our big coats. Ms. Angelle bought coats for the boys last year, so we all thought about her when we got them out. She always wanted to buy clothes for Andrew (her godson) and when she bought his coat, Ms. Angelle bought one for Nicholas, too. She and I were planning on going shopping again this year, but God had different plans.

I am grateful to have known spunky Ms. Angelle. She brightened my life during a time I really needed it. My biggest wish is that she knew how much she meant to me. So, if you have someone dear to your heart, tell him/her they are special to you. You never know when God will call them home.

"I am standing on the seashore. A ship spreads her sails to the breeze and starts for the ocean. I stand watching her until she fades on the horizon, and someone at my side says: 'She is gone.'
Gone where? The loss of sight is in me, not in her. And just at that moment when someone says: 'She is gone,' there are others who are watching her coming. Their voices take up the glad shout: 'Here she comes!' ...And that is dying."
~Author unknown

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ford Park

Ford Park
Click here to view a picture taken before the Kelly Clarkson concert of Katie, her friend, our neighbor Monica, and me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Four things to learn in life:
To think clearly without hurry or confusion;
To love everybody sincerely;
To act in everything with highest motives;
To trust God unhesitatingly.

~Helen Keller

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
~Matthew 6:33

You're Invited

You’re Invited to the Online Holiday Party of the Year!

The authors of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, Marley Gibson and Cecil Murphey, along with the book's 50 contributors, will be the featured guests at The Knight Agency’s annual online holiday party! This is a wonderful opportunity to talk with writers who’ve truly been inspired by the Christmas spirit! Also, TKA Santa has more than a dozen prizes to hand out, including copies of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, titles from other Knight Agency authors and a first chapter manuscript critique with a ONE WEEK turnaround!* Make sure you mark your calendars for this event!!

What: Online Chat with the Authors and Contributors of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES
Where: TKA Chat Room
When: Thursday, December 17th @ 9pm ET
How To Chat: (1) Click on this link: (2) Enter a username and password (any combination) (3) Click Login

*The winner of the first chapter critique will not be able to submit their work for the one week turnaround until after our holiday break (agents need a holiday too!). So, anytime after January 4th, 2010 this prize can be redeemed. If you have questions about this contest or chat, please email info(AT)

You're Invited

You’re Invited to the Online Holiday Party of the Year!

The authors of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, Marley Gibson and Cecil Murphey, along with the book's 50 contributors, will be the featured guests at The Knight Agency’s annual online holiday party! This is a wonderful opportunity to talk with writers who’ve truly been inspired by the Christmas spirit! Also, TKA Santa has more than a dozen prizes to hand out, including copies of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, titles from other Knight Agency authors and a first chapter manuscript critique with a ONE WEEK turnaround!* Make sure you mark your calendars for this event!!

What: Online Chat with the Authors and Contributors of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES
Where: TKA Chat Room
When: Thursday, December 17th @ 9pm ET
How To Chat: (1) Click on this link: (2) Enter a username and password (any combination) (3) Click Login

*The winner of the first chapter critique will not be able to submit their work for the one week turnaround until after our holiday break (agents need a holiday too!). So, anytime after January 4th, 2010 this prize can be redeemed. If you have questions about this contest or chat, please email info(AT)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

by Laurie Kolp

I am powerless over the choices you make
but I have control of the reactions I take

I am powerless over the body God gave me
but I can exercise and try to eat healthy

I am powerless over sunshine, storms or rain
but I don’t have to let weather cause me pain

I am powerless over how others react
but I can separate emotions from fact

I am powerless over where life will take me
but I can follow my God faithfully

Friday, December 4, 2009

pedestal (n.)- A base or support for an upright structure or part, as a column or statue.

Never put someone on a pedestal, for they will always let you down. God made humans imperfect so that we would turn to Him; for the truth is- He is the only one who is perfect, and He will never let us down. God allows us to make mistakes so that we can grow closer to Him and learn from them. When someone lets us down or does something to hurt us (emotionally or physically), we must strive for forgiveness. In the end don't we want to be forgiven? God forgives us, so why shouldn't we forgive those who have harmed us? If we stop putting people on pedestals or believing they are perfect, we will never be disappointed or disillusioned again.

The forgiving state of mind is a magnetic power for attracting good. No good thing can ne withheld from the forgiving state of mind.
~Catherine Ponder

Okay, I'm stepping down from my soapbox now.

A snow day brings back memories

Can you believe it snowed today? This makes the second year in a row it has snowed here in Southeast Texas and that has never happened before. I am so grateful the children are able to experience and have fun in the snow. Even though it only lasts a little while, the snow sticks long enough so the kids can play.

Katie, Andrew and Nicholas had fun making snowballs and having fights. Since Pete was not home, we could not build a snowman like last year, but there was not enough snow anyway.

For some reason the snow has me thinking about when I taught in The Woodlands. It snowed there once and many of my second grade children had never experienced snow. I had just come back from a funeral that morning for a former student who died from a rare form of cancer at the age of six. I had taught his brother and then I taught him while he was homebound during his treatment and final days. It was a very sad time for me, but God always gives us hope. The snow that day gave me hope, and I let the kids play in the snow for a very long time. We are only young once, plus we have only one life to live. So live life to the fullest, love life always, and put your trust in God. He will never let us down. Thank you God.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

by Laurie Kolp

broken promises
broken lives
shattered beneath
a web of lies,
the grass
is always greener
on the other side
and regrets
become reality
with no place
to hide,
comes from within
a gift from God
not to be found
in doubtless sin,
broken promises
broken lives
shattered beneath
a web of lies

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nicholas lost his first tooth

I find it quite amusing how Nicholas always feels sick on Sundays and Wednesdays (church and CCD days). Today after school he had to go to the dentist about a tooth that was bothering him. Thankfully everything is fine, and with Nicholas who knows if his tooth was reaaly bothering him? I mean, according to him, his teacher just got back from Hawaii. Anyway, Nicholas and Pete got back from the dentist just in time for CCD and this is what he tried to pull with me (Pete had gone back to work):

"Mo-uh-mm, the doctor said I shouldn't go anywhere that is short...uh, that is not school."

"You mean like CCD?" I said.

"YES! How'd you know?"

"Moms know things like that. Now put your coat on."

"But he said anywhere that has Goldfish I should stay away from, cuz that might hurt my tooth."

Katie, Andrew and I just started laughing while Nicholas vehemently stomped off. SIGH. I am so used to this, it doesn't even phase me any more.

Ironically, Nicholas lost his very first tooth tonight. I sure do hope that tooth fairy remembers, as she has had some close calls through the years. Nicholas is growing up, but I am glad he'll always be my baby no matter how old he is.
A New Day
by Laurie Kolp

Morning’s peaceful reflection
rays of sunshine peeking through,
and freshly brewed coffee
arousing, inviting, promising,
replaces my turbulent dreams
as I climb out of bed
to start anew.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

by Laurie Kolp

Everything I touch
seems to break lately.
First my car stereo
ate my CD blatantly.
Then I dropped my camera
and now it won’t open.
I managed to salvage the
photo stick to my chagrin.
I took it by Walgreen’s
to make Christmas cards,
stuck the stick erroneously,
they had to take it apart;
the Kodak picture maker
had eaten the last thing I had
but the clerk got to work,
I no longer felt so bad.
(Perhaps I was a little
with the writing
and daily poetry
November espied).
Now that December has sprung upon us
maybe my life won’t be such an onus!(NOT)