No Fees

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Are you one of those who gets bit by the organizer bug each January? There is something about putting away the Christmas decorations and needing to fit them back into storage that makes me want to clean and purge. After getting new gifts, especially toys for the kids, we have to get rid of old stuff out of necessity. There’s just no room!!

Many people even rent storage units to house their accumulations. Are you one of those? Want to know how many BILLION feet Americans keep in storage?

Join me at the Presidential Prayer Team today to find out. Click HERE to read my devotion today.

Happy Monday!

Carol

I Can’t Find Jesus ANYwhere!

Hey friends. It’s been a while since I’ve been here and typed out words for you to read. So much has happened while we’ve been apart – me and you.

I’ve had a heartbreak. My precious aunt passed away. I can’t even type those words without a tear or ten. But I also can’t think of her without smiling. I’m sure I’ll write about her more soon, but for now know that a beautiful woman of God has moved to her home in Heaven. Please pray for my family as we grieve the loss of one so great.

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Now to some happier news! I’ve been asked to write a column called Giggles and Grace for the new blog Just 18 Summers. I’m super excited about the blog. The idea is that as a parent you only have 18 summers to spend with your children. We need to make the most of the time. This website gives lots of great ideas for parents. It has devotions to share as a family, fun activities to do together, home ideas, family funnies (that’s me) and more!

So, once a month I’ll be posting at Just 18 Summers. But don’t wait for my posts to visit. Sign up at the blog to get their emails. You won’t want to miss anything.

Here is a snippet of today’s family funny:

In the south, funerals are a family affair. When my Memaw passed, we attended what is known as “receiving friends” at the funeral home – where our family accepted the condolences of all who came to pay their last repsects. We took all three children with us. My youngest, Grace, was three at the time. She was especially close to her great-grandmother.

For weeks before her death, we prepared Grace for the inevitable…

Join me HERE today to read the rest of my Giggles and Grace column. And if you are interested in reading the one from last month, click HERE.

I hope you are all having a great start to the year. I’m praying for God to bless each of you.

Carol

I’ll Be Stressed for Christmas

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I have to be honest – sometimes Christmas stresses me out.

Between baking cookies, wrapping gifts, attending parties for school complete with themed snack, attending a party for Sunday school complete with a covered dish, finding the perfect gifts for every family member and dropping off treats for the neighbors sometimes a girl can feel overwhelmed. Are you with me?

Eight years ago, I had a spiritual awakening – a revival of sorts. On a quest to seek God, I found Him waiting for me with a calling on my life. As Christmas neared that year, my excitement grew. I just knew the celebration of my Savior’s birth would be so much sweeter and the Christmas carols would be even more beautiful. I sat back and waited for the good feelings to pour over me – but you know what happened?

I’m at the Internet Cafe today. Join me HERE to read the rest of my devotion.

Are you ready for Christmas? Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

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Carol

Perfect Present

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I love to Christmas shop! I get great joy in finding just the perfect gift for the people on my list.

Join me at The Presidential Prayer Team today where I’m posting about gifts. Click HERE to read my devotion, and those of you who know me personally – see if you can find the hat tip to two special people in my life. ;)

 

Carol

When Every Day is Christmas

ngmRcX4I don’t know his real name, but everyone calls him “Blue.”

I’m kicking myself now thinking of our conversation, wondering why I didn’t ask more questions. It was a Christmas party at the prison for the men in the ministry degree program with the New Orleans seminary. (Read more about the program HERE and HERE and HERE.)  I entered the prison alone carrying a large tray of desserts.

Dr. Dan, their professor, invited me. He was letting them watch a movie and had promised them fried chicken from KFC. I was to bring the dessert. Days before, I agonized over just what to make – store bought wasn’t good enough. These men don’t get home cooked food. Ever. And so I wanted to do something nice.

I ended up with a Praline Pecan cake, some homemade fudge and chocolate drizzled pretzels. In my arms I carried a large tray with goodies, a Tupperware full of pretzels and two copies of the Couch Rebels book I wanted to present to the men and Dr. Dan.

After getting through the main administrative building, I had a long walk through the campus to get to the gym that housed the seminary classes. As I approached the first fence, Dr. Dan walked up as he headed out to get chicken and called to an inmate nearby.

“Hey Blue! Would you help Mrs. Hatcher carry these things to the gym?”

“Yessir! I’d be glad to do it.” And Blue moved quickly to grab my precariously balanced tray and shot me a smile. His brown eyes were kind, and his head was bald and white.

I jumped in to conversation. It’s what I do when I’m there – try to create relationships with this men whose lives I often cannot fathom. I thought he was in the seminary program; his face was familiar. So I carried on like we already had been introduced and knew one another – only we hadn’t.

“Hey!” I flashed a big smile. “Are you ready for Christmas?”

“Yes Ma’am. You know when I was a little boy, I looked forward to Christmas every year. I would look under the tree for those shiny packages with big bows and couldn’t wait to open them. I grew up doing the same thing. Living my life for me.”

He paused to answer a guard who called to him asking for a piece of the fudge on the tray he carried. After telling the guard he’d have to go through me, we walked on and he continued sharing.

“Yeah, I did a lot of living for me. But you see how that ended up.” He motioned to the surrounding fences, prison dorms and barbed wire.

“Then I started getting to know my Creator. I started living for Him. And now, Mrs. Hatcher, everyday is Christmas in my heart. Everyday.” He grinned and nodded.

I stared at the man beside me and could hardly comprehend it all. This man who wakes up each morning at 5 am for “chow” and puts on one of his two state-issued uniforms still believes that everyday is like Christmas.

Oh, that we would all have a heart like that.

An armed guard moved aside for us to enter the gym. Blue walked the tray all the way to the classroom and placed it on the table. He turned to walk out, and I realized he wasn’t a prisoner student at all. He carried cake and fudge he would never get to taste and placed it on a table with homemade biscuits and potato salad he could only dream about . And. Walked. Out.

But he turned before leaving and called to me, “God bless you, Mrs. Hatcher. And Merry Christmas.”

Merry Christmas, Blue – today and every day.

*photo credit

Carol