Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Winter...by Mary Hazlett

Okay...bring on the Sunshine!!!  I am so ready for it!  I believe that New Year's Resolutions might be a bit easier with a little more sun and heat.  So, yes it is that dreaded time again of resolutions to make our lives better.  A time to reminisce about the past 12 months and think.....Did I do what I wanted too?  

I almost feel a four letter word coming to surface now merely because I remember my goals last January and I didn't think they were that lofty...but somehow...NOW they seem like Mount Everest....what the heck was I thinking.  Yikes, I am more in debt than I have ever been with the purchase of my father's home, an addition, another car.......and another addition on its way (baby #3).  With the third addition to our family I definitely did not meet my fitness and weight loss goals...YIKES......(I am just going to shoot for 10 pounds this next year and come March 19th that will be taken care of).  I believe my siblings know how much I love them...and I think, at least most days, I am enjoying watching my kids grow.

So, what am I to do in 2015 to boost my moral of life and goal setting?  Well, thanks for asking....I do have a plan to SIMPLIFY my life and be a little more gentle with myself!!

1.  Repeat the mantra every morning, " I am good enough, smart enough, and doggone it people like me...and that does not include your children."
2.  Adopt the motto, "Just make it!"
3.  Colorful metaphors are not a good way to express yourself unless you pretend you are Spock and can tell Captain Kirk off.

And finally...

4.  Be grateful everyday that you have a family to love, a God in Heaven, and food to eat (even though.... mine will mostly be chocolate, Mountain Dew, and cereal).

That pretty much wraps it up!  Some years can seem like a marathon of ups, downs, sways, and swoops....but the trick is to just enjoy the ride.  My resolutions for 2015 summed up is "Enjoy life".

Share your stories with us at nutshellstories@gmail.com

" What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. "~Author Unknown

Thursday, December 25, 2014

"MERRY CHRISTMAS"...by Jim and Marlene Terry

Funny how quickly time flies and how we are here, once again, at Christmas.  Everyone seems to have their favorite Christmas stories, but there is not one of them that is more special or dear to my heart than my Mother's reflection of her Christmas' as a child. 

With that being said, I wanted to share her final post from last year entitled, "Inhale Deeply" and say that I hope that all of you have, as my Mother put it, a "beautiful and magical"...CHRISTMAS.  


Inhale deeply ...by Marlene Terry

Marlene Terry
Tried to wave an old friend down who passed by me in her car outside a local grocery store recently. But it was obvious that she was intent on traveling to the temporary business set up on the other side of the parking lot. ... A Christmas tree lot, of all things. 

By the time I caught up, was somewhere inside, looking through the hundreds of evergreens that were being displayed for sale.

... I'll just say "Hello" I thought as I followed suit and entered the lot myself.

Then it hit me. That smell, fresh and mountainy, the scent of a REAL tree, multiplied exponentially. And immediately I was beset with the memory of browsing through one of those tree lots with my family when I was young.

Back then EVERYBODY had a real tree or no tree at all. And the aroma, although normal for that time, always had an affect.

We (my sisters and I) could hardly wait for my dad to get the tree we'd picked out and secure it on top of our car. Then after we arrived home, he'd bring it into the house to sit for the night and "warm up," Mom would say. ... That way it would be ready to decorate the next day. 

Sleeping for me on that night was almost as difficult as on Christmas Eve, what with that wonderful odor permeating our house and maybe not visions of "sugarplums" dancing through MY head to keep me wide awake, but certainly the  anticipation of whether or not Grandma's Christmas tree light would turn on again that year.
... That old light, in the shape of a cluster of grapes, was already decades old when we got it. But it never failed to blaze forth for the several decades more that we used it.

... Bubble lights, the old-fashioned kind that heated up, boiled and exploded at times, were also a favorite.
... And then there were the icicles. 

Most people don't use them anymore, those silvery strings that my mom insisted be placed on the tree "one at a time," and hung barely by the tip. That way they would stream down the tree in a continuous shiny cover.

... And the results?

We'd start at the bottom of the tree and work up. And after hours ... and I'm not exaggerating the time it took at all ... of painstaking work, Dad would finally top the tree with the star. ... And then we'd turn off all the regular lights in the house and plug in the tree.

I honestly don't have the words to describe how beautiful and magical everything became, when with the scent of that wonderful tree in our home, and after the electrical cord sparked slightly from the overload, the lights on the Christmas tree would come on and it was suddenly Christmas. ... So I'll just offer a quote that I think says it pretty well.

"... freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin — Inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night."  — John Geddes

(inhale deeply)...Ahhhhh!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at nutshellstories@gmail.com. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

"I'll Be Home For Christmas"...by Gina Waite

Looking outside my window...it's difficult to believe it's the week of Christmas!  The usual mono-chromatic shade of winter is lacking in my neck of the woods this year.  It's been raining instead of snowing, the temperatures are about 10 degrees above normal and the view outside seems to shout spring rather than the beginnings of winter!  ...And yet, no matter where I am or how dismal the prospects of a white Christmas seem to be...If I close my eyes…I can relive the sounds and excitement I felt as a child at Christmas!

My mom (the most magical Christmas elf I've EVER known) was the BEST at making even the most pragmatic child, giddy with Christmas cheer!  She would start, mid-November or sometimes in October at the first sight of snow, playing her large assortment of Holiday tunes…from Christmas Crooners to fine orchestral opuses.  The house was filled with aromas of pumpkin, cinnamon and perfectly spiced cider!  The fire was always lit and crackling for spectators nearby!  …And all of this was lovely…but it was the tree and mantel that held the most magic for me!

When I say, tree…I actually meant…trees!  My mom would decorate a tree in the upstairs front room that represented the accurate artistry that filled her being!  Usually flocked and neatly color coordinated, neighbors would come and ask to look closely at the neatly-trimmed tree as even they had to closely marvel at its perfection!  The downstairs family Christmas tree…usually freshly cut and filled with the aroma of the outdoors…would be perfected in shape by our in-house carpenter (Dad) who would cut off an errant branch and screw it into the trunk where proper placement allowed.  There were the bubble-lights, the familiar child-made ornaments AND the lighted angel that sat atop as sentinel for all who gathered below!

The stocking-lined mantel above our fireplace was neatly decorated with a Dickens-inspired village to rival ANY collection I've ever seen.  Before setting the village atop the mantel, my mom would string white lights back and forth and up into the rock above the mantel.  This would allow a back light for the snow (quilt batting) my mom would set on top of the lights.  Then she would place miniature trees, working light posts, ice-skating rinks and houses in proportionate alignment that filled even my mind with awe at the idea of living in such an idealistic village!  I remember one miniature house that, when filled with water, obtained a realistic-looking chimney as it would send up a puff of smoke every-so-often….absolute magic!

Obviously, the pictures I've posted today are not what I've described above.  These are some of my favorite memories too!  Ones of my own children on Christmas morning, my Mom with Christmas excitement in her eyes, my Dad holding his sweet little granddaughter, the family-tree minus the bubble-lights!  …But I so desperately  wish I could find pictures of everything I've described and I’m certain they exist somewhere amongst all eight of us…but for now I’ll just have to find my “NBC Sounds of the Season” CD…turn on my spruce-scented wax warmer…close my eyes and…I’ll be there…I’ll be home for Christmas!

♦ Hope you'll share YOUR stories and photos with us at: nutshellstories@gmail.com.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gifts... by Ben Hazlett

I just finished ordering the last of my Christmas presents online.  Between family obligations, work, our huge remodel project, and church obligations, I just never find time to shop the traditional way.  Enter Amazon.  I can get almost anything I want... and usually for cheaper... and they'll even wrap it for me.  Of course I have to add a few more things for myself to qualify for the "super saver shipping."  

As I hit the "one click" ordering, a thought occurred to me.  My biggest worry in preparing for Christmas this year (other then our house being torn apart, of course) was whether or not I qualified for free shipping.  What must Joseph and Mary have worried about as they prepared for the first Christmas?  Joseph was most likely fearing he would not find a place for his wife to give birth and with those fears must have come thoughts of inadequacy and failure. Christ, the Son of God was coming to Joseph's family and he had no palace to receive him.  There was no great hospital with jacuzzi tubs and celebration dinners.  There was only a stable.   

Mary likely got to experience much the same fear combined with the pain of giving life which only those who have gone through it can understand.  Doing all of this in a stable with cows and horses for nurses and midwives.  

And I know they worried if they would ever be able to provide for Him, teach Him, and protect Him.  I know because that's exactly what I worry about everyday with my own children and though they are also children of God, Jesus was The Son of God.  It was in those circumstances that Joseph and Mary were sent the greatest Christmas gift of all time: Jesus Christ.  

That is the Gift I need to remember every time I worry about our house never getting finished, never having enough time for work or church responsibilities, or my beautiful wife struggling with being pregnant and the mother of two small lively children in the midst of everything.  This because God's Gift and Christ's Gift is the only Gift that has the power to lift burdens, give joy, provide healing, enlighten the way, and bestow eternal happiness with Christ and all our loved ones.  And we don't have to worry about shipping or even making "one click."  It is given to all.  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Christmas Story all Grown Up ...by Mary Hazlett

My family has great traditions this time of year...doesn't yours?  One of our favorite traditions is watching every Christmas show that we own and perhaps a few more on our Netflix.  Just a few among our favorites are...Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase, A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott, Scrooged with Bill Murray, and finally A Christmas Story with the infamous leg lamp and Ralphie as the hero.  

I just love A Christmas Story.  I have grown up watching that movie.  Amazing how that movie has transformed for me over the years.  One of the first times I recall watching that movie was when I was eight years old.  This was a great time of rivalry for me.  In the house that we lived in at the time, it was in a very country spot on a hill with lots of snow and wind.  Around us were a few homes which inevitably were filled with young boys...I really don't remember a girl that was my age on my street till later in life.  We had one spot that was designated our bus stop in which we all, the ten of us, gathered there...and me, being the only girl, was often the target for these young boys to tease and taunt. 

There was a specific threesome that loved to watch me scream.   I held my own though... as one day coming home from school it was a slushy, snowy kind of day and one of the three had been shaping and molding an ice ball all the way from school to our bus stop just so he could launch it at me.   I remember that day very clearly...getting off the bus and the polite call of ,"Mary" with a splat right to my eyeball.  Enraged I ran after him like Ralphie did to Scott Farkus.  But instead of hitting him repeatedly after the tackle, I pushed his face over and over into the snow until he had tears running down his face.  I believed that Ralph and I had something very much in common then.

Then came the teenage years...still loved that movie and loved the humor found in family life.  Relating very well to some of the mishaps.  More especially though, I love it now.  Having two kids of my own, I love that mother.  I can empathize with her over dressing Randy for the cold, as frustrated as her to not having children that eat,  nearly always getting a cold meal, laughing with her as they all sing Christmas songs, elated that a son can help Dad with something, disappointed when they make a poor choice, crying with them as they go through the hard knocks of growing up, feeling overjoyed when my babies get the very things they wanted, crying when the dinner gets fed to the dogs, loving a man with a great heart, but most importantly...at the end...you know when the mom and dad are sitting together watching the snow gently fall, knowing their children are warm, safe, and content...that sense that all is right with the world and that there is no way that you want to let any of it go...yeah, that is what I love about this story.

This month goes awfully fast so take time to embrace, enjoy, and  love those who are around you!  

**Share your stories with us at nutshellstories@gmail.com

Monday, December 8, 2014

Count Your Blessings...by Mike Terry

Have you counted your blessings today?
~picture courtesy of Mike Terry

In A Nutshell will return tomorrow due to some technical difficulty

Monday, December 1, 2014

Things Happen In "3's"...by Jim Terry

Have you ever noticed how things—good or bad—seem to happen in “3’s”? And as sure as life would have it…the experiences I’m going to share with you happened in “3.”   

About two weeks ago was the year anniversary of my Mother’s passing.  And just prior to that time I was having a hard time believing that I was approaching a year of not being able to speak with her, go to a movie with her, or hold her near me in a warm and loving embrace of a hug.  I had said many prayers for strength and support to get me through this time and wanted somehow, in my mind, to freeze time.  I thought, maybe just maybe, it wouldn’t make my heart feel the pain of her loss so much if I could say it was still less than a year ago that I lost her.  And then I realized, that what might be the true underlying reason for my thought process and anxiety is simply facing my fear.  Which is...I feel like the longer I go without her here, that my memories of her may fade or even disappear with time.  So in this moment of contemplation in trying to figure out how I could freeze time, I had some experiences recently that I will never forget.

At one point or another in one’s lifetime, everyone will wake up in the middle of the night for one reason or another.  One of the FIRST things I always do when this happens is to check what time it is…don’t you?  I personally do this so I know how much more time I have before I need to get up and go to work, or how much more time I have to sleep in, if on a weekend.  

The first night, in this sequence of three I am going to tell you about, I glanced over at the clock and noticed it was 3:33 am.  Thinking nothing of it, I went back to sleep and woke up about three hours later in order to get ready go to work.  On that same day, I had one of my favorite patients come in for her dental appointment.  She remembered that it had been almost a year since my Mother’s passing and with her thoughtfulness and kindness, reached over and gave me a big hug, handed me some of her homemade Irish soda bread and then said, “I’m sure your Mother is near you during this difficult time.” 

 The next night as I woke up and again glanced over at the clock, “3:33 am” was once again displayed. I remember thinking at that moment how weird it was that I would wake up again at exactly the same time.   I mean it’s not often that I would wake up at this time…actually I can’t say as I have ever been awakened at 3:33 am.

Later this same day, I received a phone call mid morning. It was from a dear friend I have not heard from in almost a year’s time.  He was calling to let me know he would be thinking of my family and me during this difficult time that was rapidly approaching.  As the conversation continued, I told him about my “weird” experiences of waking up now two nights in a row at exactly 3:33 am.  He immediately said, “you know your Mom is near, don’t you?”  With I’m sure what was a confused look on my face, and because I had not told him yet about the hard time I was having accepting the fact that it had almost been a year since Mom’s passing, I proceeded to ask him what he was referring to?  He explained to me that numbers like “333” and “444” are known as “angel numbers” and allows the person experiencing these numbers in their lives to know that angels are near for comfort and support. 

After our conversation had ended and with my friend’s recommendation, I then Googled—mortal man’s way of receiving answers J— “333.”  The first thing that came up when I hit the return key was “Angel number 333.”  Intrigued and a bit captivated at this point, I clicked on the link and began to read. If you scroll halfway down the page, you will find this short but meaningful paragraph…

When Angel Number 333 appears consistently it implies that the Ascended Masters”…(Angels)...“are near you.  They have responded to your prayers and wish to help and assist you in your endeavors…they will give you guidance along your path…call upon the angels…to assist.  They are waiting for your call.”

I thought long and hard that day about the conversation I had with my friend, what I had read on the Internet and the recent awakenings I had experienced at 3:33 am.  As I went to bed later this same day, I finally came to the conclusion that all of this was happening to me for a reason. So before I began to nod off, I called “upon the angels to assist” me once again and I said another short but sweet prayer in my heart and in my mind.  I asked God to allow me to know for sure that my Mother was near me so that I could handle this dreaded year mark and another holiday season that was swiftly approaching without her here…I can humbly say that, “my prayer was answered.”

As I drifted off to sleep on this third and final night, I could feel a certain amount of calmness and peace I had not experienced but maybe once or twice before in my life.  It was very similar to the peace you feel as a child on
Christmas night after a fun filled day of joy and cheer while opening presents and then finally falling to sleep, while embracing that favorite toy you received from Santa, in total happiness knowing that you were not naughty but nice. And that joy and peace, I am speaking of, was not only enhanced that night for me, but was also intensified when I was once again awakened, rolled over in my bed, opened my eyes, and glanced over at the clock for the third night in a row and saw “3:33 am” on the display…my “angel number’…my Mom was indeed near!

So in this magical season of angels and miracles, I hope that your holiday season is filled with fun, family and friends…with generosity, gratefulness and guidance…with harmony, hope and happiness…or anything that just so happens to be good and "Happens In “3’s”!   

 ♦ Hope you'll share YOUR stories and photos with us at:nutshellstories@gmail.com.

*Thank you so much to the readers once again for another great year and for your support. 

**Just a quick mention of something else that is great and comes in “3”. All designed and made from a “Simple mom” just in time for the holidays…I have mine placed by my tree and it simply looks wonderful.