Misty Garrison » Gathered Fragments

The tenth fell on a Monday this month. Ah, Monday. You have never looked so beautiful to me…

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
~ Dorothea Lange

What are you learning to see these days?

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  • EGG's Dad - I’m learning to see that life is sometimes messy, and beautiful all at the same time.ReplyCancel

Abundance is…

…warm, cozy footed pajamas.

…clean, healthy water to drink. anytime. anywhere.

It’s not too late to give water for Christmas…

Living Water International

One Billion Thirsty

Charity Water

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Spent an easy Sunday evening with family celebrating 15 years with this young man. I am honored to be his aunt and so very thankful for every opportunity to watch him grow.

Happy Birthday, Joseph ; ).

Linking up with Rebecca’s Simple things Sunday photo party over at Simple As That. Click on the link below to view more beauty in the simple things.

PINIMAGE

Also joining Stefanie at Ni Hao Y’all for her Sunday Snapshot.

Ni Hao YallPINIMAGE

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When I saw this week’s theme for 52 on Friday was red, these pics from last year’s trip to the Christmas tree farm immediately popped into my head. Technically speaking the pictures should be recent, but with this week being all about Steven and his girls I just couldn’t resist sharing these…

She’s his. She has always been his. From the very beginning. I have often thought that her birth mom chose us because she wanted her baby girl to have the best dad in the world. She chose well ; ).

After 16 years, his biggest offense is not liking pecans. I mean, really?!?! Can you grow up in the south and NOT like pecans? I have a few theories. Either he was dropped on his head in a pecan grove. Or his mother fed him a bowl of pecans with the hulls still on them.

It doesn’t help that my mother indulges him. Whenever she makes breakfast bubble loaf, one side has pecans the other doesn’t. For him. She even sets aside a large portion of chicken salad for him before she puts in the pecans. Enable much?

This year at Thanksgiving, I was sharing a piece of carrot cake with little (because if you are eating you don’t have a choice but to share with her). She is chowing down until we make it to the portion with all the icing. The next thing I know she is reenacting the scene from BIG where Tom Hanks’ character is at the company Christmas party. You know the one. He takes a bite of caviar, then proceeds to do this crazy action with his tongue to get it out of his mouth and onto the napkin. Same tongue action only she is using my hand instead of napkin. When I look down to see what she found so offensive. What do you suppose I found?

That’s right. PECANS! I have since tested her distaste lest it was the texture of the crushed up pecans that was the problem. Just yesterday I attempted to feed her entire pecans. No dice. Baby girl does NOT like pecans.

Now you tell me that man is not her daddy!

And just for fun I thought I would include a little more “red” and an example of what a difference a year (and bangs) can make.

Christmas Tree Farm 2011

Christmas Tree Farm 2012

Next week’s theme is “It’s the Season” just in case you would like to play along.

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  • Disney's World - Misty, I love, love, love your blog for so many reasons! Your words make me grow!! Thank you. You are looking amazing. The girls are beautiful and Steven looks a lot like Michael Bublé….don’tcha think?!? PrayIng your family has a Christ centered Christmas filled with his JOY and grace.
    Kristen and Ross DisneyReplyCancel

Remember Donnie. That is what my Outlook calendar reminder says. Every year. On this day. Only he isn’t really mine to remember. No. That remembrance belongs to my beloved husband & his precious family. But I “remember” for my Steven. I honor the memory of his brother lost 24 years ago. Today.

But I do not understand the pain of his loss. I have never spent my 15th birthday in the hospital watching my big brother die of cancer. My beloved did. And the man he is today was shaped in that hospital room. Yes. He is, because his brother lived. He is, because his brother died.

And I ache to know his agony. That I might take it upon myself. That it might be less for him. But I simply cannot. Truly. And I will not cheapen the pain he feels by inserting myself into his tragedy. Pretending that I “get it.” Instead, I simply stand with him. And by him.

And I hold him in my arms as he cries. And the tears I cry are his as I hold him up to the Father. Who truly knows both his loss and the loss his mama suffered when she buried her firstborn.

And I ask him to remember Donnie to me. Because words have the power to heal. And he tells me…

How much Donnie loved wrestling. You know, off the top rope. Half Nelson. WWF style.

And how the pride of his life was playing defensive line for the Inola Longhorns.

About how much they loved sliding on the carpet in their parachute pants.

And the times they went to the bowling alley together. Michael Jackson’s Thriller cassette tape blaring on the radio of their mom’s big conversion van. The antithesis of cool. But what did it matter anyway? Brothers to the end.

Remember.

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This past Friday I had the extraordinary privilege of speaking at the Evergreen Christmas Banquet. What a wonderful night with a group of amazing ladies. And we all survived with minimal damage, although there was much laughing & crying (not just me).

Thought I would share the words the Lord granted me with you all here. Just in case someone out there needs to “hear” them. Realize that some of the post was made more powerful in person with my blubbering & visual effects. But I think you will get it.

Thanks again, Ladies of Evergreen, for the honor of sharing a beautiful evening with you all. Maybe we can do it again sometime ; ).

The theme of the banquet & title of my speech:

“What is in your Christmas Basket??

So this is finally going to be the year. The year that you put everything else aside and focus on Christ during Christmas. You are determined to keep it simple. No. Matter. What. Just you and the Christ-child. But then. Reality sets in. And the Christmas pageant at school collides with your practice for the cantata at church. And you just found out that sweet hubby’s company Christmas party is in conflict with Aunt Mabel’s yearly hanging of the green party. And the next thing you know a bunch of “stuff” has overtaken the peace & joy of the season, not to mention the Savior. Like…

The pain of loss:

Memories of past hurts & the bitterness of knowing that you are still estranged from that loved one

Fresh wounds from the death of a precious one leaving you raw & incapable of celebrating. The only “waiting “ you can manage is for them to walk through the door again. You resent all the hoopla. All the traditions & activities feel like a lump of lead in your belly. You want desperately to shout, “Trees are nothing! Feasts are nothing! Lights are nothing! Music is nothing! Gifts are nothing!”

Or perhaps the loss is but a distant memory. And in your own desperation you would give anything to trade the fog & the numbness of years past for that intense pain because at least it forced you to the stable and then the cross, because the straw & the blood were they only things holding you together.

The pressure of traditions:

The Hanging of the Greens & the Lighting of the Tree
Elf on the shelf (Who on earth started that nonsense?!?! I don’t own a gun, but if I did….)
Gingerbread houses
Cookie decorating
Ornament making
Advent calendars
Driving around the neighborhood in your pj’s, drinking hot cocoa and looking at the beautiful lights.
Caroling
Santa Claus
Christmas Cards

{Is anyone else feeling stressed right about now, or is it just me?}

The memories of Christmas past (or your childhood):

Navigating the land mines of unrealistic expectations as you struggle between truth & fiction in your own mind

Or perhaps you allow the bad memories to steal your joy & the good ones to breed discontentment in your current situation.

The management of stress:

Shopping
Over-spending
Crowds
Lists
Busyness
Endless activities
Hustle & bustle
Pressure to pull off a Pinterest worthy Christmas
Disappointment & disillusionment caused by unrealistic expectations & perfectionism

The requirement of travel:

Across town
Across the country
Across the room to the spouse you haven’t spoken to in weeks, perhaps months.
Across the hall to the child whom you crushed with your harsh, impatient words yet again.
Across town to the estranged adult child who has broken your heart with their wayward heart & poor choices.
Across the chasm of your own depravity.

The responsibilities of a good hostess:

preparing for out of town guests
in-laws
pressure to keep everyone happy & entertained
effort to always get along
Christmas parties & more Christmas parties

The desire to serve:

Christmas angels
Bell-ringing
Adopting a family
Volunteering at homeless shelter
Sponsoring an international child
Operation Christmas Child
Christmas Offerings
Random acts of kindness

The true spirit of the holiday:

Peace
Love
Joy
Merriment
Good cheer
Wonder
Belief
Miracle
Magic
Excitement
Anticipation

{Side note here: at this point in person the precious baby Jesus has been overtaken by folded slips of paper with each of the above “Christmas” items on it. I dropped them in as I said them. The rest might make more since if you know that.}

And right about now is when you realize that you can no longer see the baby Jesus. What, in the name of all things holy, has happened to him. He was just here a moment (okay, it’s been more than a few days) ago. And really what kind of eternal implications does it have for you & your family if you lose the holy child? And, as luck would have it, the church Bunco ladies are on their way over as we speak! Oh the horror, and the judgment & condemnation…

Sheer panic nestles in and gets comfortable. And just when you are about to pump the dog’s stomach, tear the house apart like a crazed lunatic, and set up the interrogation room for your children or grandchildren depending on the situation… It dawns on you. He is right where you left him. In the bottom of the basket. Underneath all the Christmas stuff.

Being the master problem solver you are, you quickly unbury the child & place him atop the mountain of his birthday festivities. It doesn’t take you long to realize that it is going to take more than a baby to cover up this mess. “Nothing but the blood” begins to play in your mind. But there is no time for blood at Christmas, right? Especially in a crisis like this. It will just have to wait until Easter.

Instead, being the Pinterest savvy girl that you are, you quickly recall all those pins you have on your home organization board. Baby. Blood. Pshaw. What you decide you need is more baskets. So that there would be room for all this. And Jesus would no longer be buried. Because who are you to place him back in the tomb of your own making?

But now you have a new problem. More baskets requires more hands. And you can’t make a quick run to Hobby Lobby for more hands. Yet. So now begins the juggling act. Some of you have perfected it. I only wish I could keep half of the baskets in the air that “Super Mom” can without finding myself on the couch, rocking in the fetal position. But in order to avoid dropping one of your baskets, you can no longer focus on him. Or her. Your sister in need. You know, the one sitting right beside you. Instead, they become nothing more than part of the blurry audience of your ridiculous show.

What we really need, Ladies, is a bigger basket. Not to put all the other stuff in. No. What we really need is to climb into the basket ourselves. To be alone in His presence. That we might fall in love with Jesus – the favored one. Again. Or perhaps for the first time. That by clawing our way through the “stuff” & crawling into the basket, we might offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Our gift to the Savior. Our very lives. Clamber in. And consecrate yourself to him. Again. And again. And instead of choosing to “just hang in there” this holiday season, may we hold tight to Jesus.

And in a few weeks, when the tinsel comes down and the bustle comes to a screeching halt, you will be tempted to pack the basket away as well. Don’t. You. Dare. Do not wrap it in tissue paper for safe keeping. It is meant to be broken. It is meant to get dirty. Just like he who left the majesty of heaven & clothed himself in humanity. Trading his kingly robe for the cloak of our sin. Let us live likewise. Broken & poured out with our hands dirty. For others that they might also experience the gift of birth & his presence.

So in a few months, when you notice that you have picked up a few more baskets along the way try handing one to a friend. Quit pretending to have it all together. Give her permission to carry your burden. And perhaps offer to carry one of hers.

And then in a few more months, when you notice the pile of laundry, the ever missing car keys, the dusty Bible, or the stack of homework on top of your basket… Please allow someone the authority to speak into your life & to ask you when the last time was that you crawled in & whether or not you left {insert your struggle here} in there at his feet when you climbed out. And then ask her the same thing.

“Sometimes, when things are going well, we might too easily forget that we have only one sure, immovable, dependable strength – Jesus, who was a baby one and is always and forever God. That is what holds us and keeps us whether we or not we can carry out our traditions. May our decorations, gifts, and festivities – or lack of them – never block our view of him but always point us toward him.

May this time be a reflection of what our lives are – gratitude for the promises that were fulfilled when God gave us the gift of his Son and anticipation of and preparation for Christ’s coming again.

Only Christ matters.” {Noel Piper}

So, dear friends, what is in your Christmas basket this year? Take it and yourself to him.

Merry Christmas, precious ones!

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  • gmA - Well done my second born. You make your momma proud to be your momma.ReplyCancel

  • Becky Owens - You were such a blessing to us and I am so glad you spoke what was given to you to speak instead of watering it down. Good stuff!ReplyCancel

  • Brittany - Wow, that was wonderful. Thanks for sharing this and making me stop and think about what is covering baby Jesus up in my life. I love that example. You are such a talented writer.ReplyCancel

Abundance is…

…a daddy and his girls.

…kisses and giggles.

Happy Birthday, Big Guy. You are the best friend & daddy a girl could hope to find.

Gonna link up for Shannan’s Money Shot Monday over at Flower Patch Farmgirl. Even though I couldn’t limit it to only one photo this week.

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