Thursday, December 24, 2009

In Search of That Perfect Gift

I love giving gifts. The perfect gift. And there are two kinds of perfect gifts.

First there is the "I always wanted one of these" gifts. Someone you love has shared with you something that they wish they had. You spend the entire month of December walking the aisles of local stores and searching the Internet. And you find it. Exactly what they asked for. Exactly what they wanted. You wrap it up and place it under the tree and get giddy every time you think about it. You can't wait to give it.

And when they open their gift, it's hard to tell who's more excited about it. Them or you?

Take Rachel for example. She's been asking for one thing this year. "A pink heart just like Lexi." Apparently, our neighbor girl has a pink heart hair clip...that I have never seen! If I had been able to find this "pink heart just like Lexi" it would have fallen into this category of perfect gifts.

I could not.

I'll get over it. And so will Rachel, I'm sure.

But I so wanted to give that gift.

On to the other perfect gift.

Have you ever known someone so well that you knew exactly what they needed even though they them self did not? This is the "I didn't even know they made these!" or "I never would have thought of this!" gift.

This comes with the added anxiousness of wondering "will they really like it?" But oh the perfection of being able to give a loved one the very thing they need but wouldn't have known to ask for!

I have been on the receiving end of this type of perfect gift.

One night, long before I was born, I was given a gift. And that gift was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. And His birth announcement filled the sky and announced His arrival to those the world would have called "no one special." And they went to see Him. This gift that changed everything.

I never would have known to ask for a Savior.

But He came.

And He came for you too.

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christa]">[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our New Christmas Tradition

Can I call it a "tradition" if I just decided to do this, just started tonight and feel that I will want to do this every year?

Yes, I believe I can.

So, I will.

Anyway, I love Christmas cookies. I love baking them, decorating them, eating them. I love making them myself, with friends, or with the kids. I love them.

What I do not love is chaos, whining, pleading, and tantrums while attempting to make cookies. I don't know about anyone else's kids but when mine find out I'm baking they swarm the kitchen and everyone wants to "help" with something. It gets a little overwhelming.

This weekend I decided we would do cookies differently this year.

So, yesterday I explained to the kids that they would each go through our cookie recipe book and choose a cookie they wanted to make with me. Tonight was Aly's turn to bake. Just the two of us. She had picked out sugar cookies on sticks dipped in almond bark and decorated with royal icing. Start to finish it was all Aly. No arguing over turns. No complaining about turns. It was wonderful!

The cookies turned out adorable and I was so glad that we had that time together. It ended up being a really fun cookie to make but a lot of work. It was fun to be able to experiment without the stress of a large crowd!

Tomorrow night, Aidan and I will attempt to make candy cane cookies. Tuesday I get to make chocolate mint layered fudge with Garrett. And Wednesday Rachel and I will make our favorite cut-out cookies for Santa. I'll let Rachel do a couple herself and then I'll have some fun on my own when she goes to bed. I'll save a couple for the older kids to decorate on Christmas Eve morning.

My hope is that since everyone has an opportunity to bake their own cookies, they won't mind when I make a couple other cookies on my own! (It goes a little quicker that way.) And by Christmas we'll have quite a selection of yummy treats!

Friday, December 18, 2009

You Must Check Out This Giveaway...

...but let me win! :o)

MckMama is giving away Lightroom 2 and her friend, Grammie Mommy is giving away Photoshop! Check out their blogs and leave them a comment for your own chance to win!

How is it?

That just last Christmas I was anxiously waiting for a little someone to kick me in the womb...

...and now she's kneeling in my kitchen pulling toys out of her toy basket?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

When It Doesn't Look Good

I have used the word "overwhelmed" quite a bit lately.

Lack of sleep, and all the work that goes along with having a pre-teen daughter, 2 young boys, Rachel, and a new baby will do that, I suppose.

Somehow I managed to run the VBS craft area for 140 kids when Emily was just 6 weeks old (not by myself, of course, I had lots of wonderful help!). It was a blast and I don't remember feeling overwhelmed. Busy, yes! Tired, yes! Overwhelmed? No.

So why have I struggled so much lately?

My Mom reminded me of Psalm 46:10.

"Be still and know that I am God."

That week at VBS, I knew I was right where God wanted me to be. I knew that He would give me what I needed to do what He asked of me. I knew that He was God. I never felt that I had to do any of it myself. He is God. He is in control. He will provide.

I look around and see that I am right where He wants me to be. This day is the day He has given me.

We are in the middle of several big projects here. We are building 2 sets of bunk beds and in the next few days we will be emptying out the kids' rooms so their new carpeting can be installed. I've been letting the current state of our house overwhelm and frustrate me. Last night, I got still and knew that He is God.

And He showed me something in all of my chaos.

I can make it through this mess because the end will bring the reward of 2 beautiful new rooms!

It will end.

It might get uglier and messier in the process, bit it will end.

He reminded me that this is how He works.

He brings beauty from ashes. He brings refinement from fire.

It does not usually look very appealing when God is working, but I don't want to avoid the unpleasant if it means missing out on His blessings!

Sometimes we can know the beauty we working for. I can picture the bedrooms when they are finished! I suffered through labor pains knowing that I would be meeting the new little life that God had blessed us with!

Sometimes we have to trust. For a year and a half I struggled through a separation from my husband. I did not know when the end would come or what the end would look like. It did not look good. But. I knew that God was working and that the outcome was in His hands. And those are the only hands I want my life to be in!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Top Ten Tuesday

It has been ages since I have written a "Top Ten Tuesday" post. Since Emily has decided that I am not supposed to be in the garage sanding wood for bunk beds, and because I'm sick of doing laundry, I'm going to blog!

So, I present to you the Top Ten things to do at 3am!

10) Look at the house and consider doing some cleaning while everyone (except Emily, of course) is sleeping!

9) Look at the kitchen and consider just focusing your cleaning efforts on the kitchen.

8) Look in the fridge and decide to have the last piece of pecan pie instead.

7) Sit on the floor with a sweet baby girl (and a rich piece of pie) and ponder all of the things you want to accomplish during the day.

6) Ponder your to-do list just long enough to realize that you will be extremely sleep-deprived when the sun comes up and will never have the energy to accomplish said list.

5) Try to convince a happy little girl to sleep instead of practicing to be able to sit up!

4) Give up trying to convince a happy little girl to sleep and just play with her instead.

3) Feed that sweet, happy baby girl who is finally done playing and ready for a snack.

2) Watch the early morning news and cry when they talk about the many troops leaving for Afghanistan. (And then, of course, start praying for the many husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters departing and all of the loved ones they are leaving behind!)

1) Think about how desperately you want to be sleeping!!!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Not Me Monday!

I was not going to play along today, but....

I just have to say that it was totally not me that just rushed into the kitchen, put a pot of water on the front burner, turned the back burner on, and then rushed back out to finish the project of bringing the boys dressers downstairs. Nope.

So, it was not me that just extinguished a flaming turkey painting and 2 (yes, there was not 1 but 2!) burner covers.

Yeah, dinner smells delicious...or not.

Play along or just enjoy all of the other Not Me confessions over at MckMama's blog!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Ugly Side of Thankfulness

I was thinking, yesterday, about all of the things I am thankful for. Imagine that.

I feel so very blessed. I had wanted to sit down and just write out all of my blessings. I started the list in my head.

I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful for the relationship I have with my Mom. I'm thankful that we are healthy, that we have a warm home and food on the table. I'm thankful for our church family.

As the list continued to grow I realized that my thankfulness goes so much deeper than the obvious blessings in my life.

I have thankfulness in the ugliness too.

So, I'm skipping the usual sappy-Hallmark-card-side of thankfulness. I'm going to share the ugly side of thankfulness.

When my 12 year old is acting like a fool and then becomes shockingly disrespectful...I am thankful for a God that will show me my sin that I can repent and accept His forgiveness.

When my 7 year old is throwing a diaper bag and burying his head into a chair over...are you ready for this? One dollar. I am thankful for a God who is patient with me and has chosen to love me unconditionally.

When I try to get things done with 2 hands instead of one (read: when I put Emily down for 2 seconds) and my sweet little 6 month old girl gets sad, I am thankful for a God who is always with me.

When I have to spank my 3 year old for climbing into the new dryer (which she told me was "hot and cozy") I am thankful for a God who is our protector.

When I watch my 8 year old loose his temper all the way to his room, and then hear something heavy hit the floor at the bottom of the stairs, I am thankful that Jesus took my place that I can enjoy God's love instead of His wrath.

When I look at my marriage and see that our little family has a wonderful Spiritual leader, I remember when it didn't. And I'm thankful for a God who reconciles relationships. Not just my relationship with my husband, but more importantly, our relationship with our God.

I want everyone to know the God I know. The God who created this universe. Created us. The God is so holy that He cannot be in the presence of sin. Who chose to send His Son to die in our place. If we believe that Jesus is God's Son, that He came and died and rose again, and if we confess that we are sinners in need of a Savior, if we ask God to forgive us...He does.

I am thankful for a relationship with my Creator. My God. My Savior.

Can you say that too?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Farewell Old Friend

We will miss you. You were a very special part of this family. I remember when we chose you. We were just a little family of 3 back then. Over the years we've grown and you just kept up with all of us. Never complaining when every couple of years we added a whole new wardrobe to your work load. That's how I knew you were not well. The moaning was so unlike you. You always smelled so good but now? You smell of burnt toast. That just can't be good. So, it is time. If you weren't so big, I'd bury you out back next to Buster. But that would be ridiculous.

Today, the men will come with your replacement and take you away. I hope you will not be hurt that we are replacing you so soon. You'd better not be hurt, you left me with 2 wet loads of laundry, what do you expect me to do? There are 7 people in this family! We have to have dry clothes, we can't just go around naked you know!


Farewell, old friend!
Thank you for your 10 years of service!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just Some Thoughts

We have been blessed to have avoided the flu bug that went around recently. Was it the dreaded H1N1? Seasonal flu? Who knows. I do know that our schools experienced insanely high numbers of absences just a few weeks ago.

I am thankful that we did not get the flu. However. The cold that we passed around our family was awful. It lingered for weeks, just making everybody feel miserable. On top of not feeling well, our house was, well, not pretty. Well, pretty trashed, maybe. It was not good. Not good at all.

Today I woke up feeling good! And I realized, at 11, when I had accomplished quite a bit, that I have been sick for the last 3 weeks! This was an amazing revelation. I had not once considered that I was sick and needed to rest and that the house would get put back together when I felt well again. I had been feeling like a failure for not being able to keep a clean house.

What a relief it was to let go of that feeling of failure. Why, oh why, didn't I do it sooner?

And now that I am back to feeling well, another member of the family has fallen ill.

My dryer.

He's not well. Of all the chores that I accomplished today, laundry was not one of them. I managed to wash 2 loads of laundry. But the first load is still in the dryer. I vacuumed and checked the outside vent tonight after Awanas and now (after I blog, of course) I will see whether or not my poor dryer is feeling up to drying my towels.

Several quick prayers were said today that went something like this, "God, please don't let my dryer die!" And sometimes just "God please?" It got me thinking about prayer. There's not a thing wrong with those quick emergency prayers and God wants us to come to Him with everything, even small things. But is that all my prayer life is?

There have been seasons of my life when that was the only communication I had with God. My relationship with Him was nothing more than me running to Him when something went wrong. He gave me a picture of my prayer life years ago during one of those seasons.

I was watering one of my houseplants. I think I only had 2 of them (for reasons you will know in just a moment). I had noticed it was wilting, so I filled a large cup with water and fed my starving plant. And that was the only time I ever watered my plants...when they began to wither. And the truth is, they were starving even before I could see them withering. Just like my prayer life. Those plants needed to be watered daily not just when I could see them withering. I needed communication with my God daily (or hourly!) not just when something went wrong.

And my communication needed to be so much more than just simply a wish list. He taught us how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13.

9"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.'

We need to praise Him. We need to thank Him. We need to confess our sins and seek forgiveness. We need to seek His will. And we need to come to Him with our needs.

If we only come to Him with our needs, do we really have a relationship with Him?

UPDATE: My dryer is alive and well! Thank you God! And apparently I was very tired last night when I wrote this post..."Just Some Thoughts"? That's the best title I could come up with? I love coming up with titles. I could have done better. Oh, well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

You're Gonna Miss This...Moment...#4

I'm a day late for this blog carnival, but I love playing along and don't do it often enough. So, better late than never!

This year, I am homeschooling Rachel for preschool. As crazy as it is to have 5 kids I am definitely enjoying our time together. Just me and the littlest girls. On top of being very exhausting, Rachel is a very entertaining girl. So when I think of things that I will miss someday, all my time with Rachel definitely tops the list.

On Thursday, we shopped with Grandma for carpeting. Being part monkey, Rachel was enjoying climbing out of the cart at Lowes. Fortunately, her Grandma was right there to teach her a valuable life lesson. "This floor is concrete and if you fall you will crack and bleed from your nose and your head..." Well, it went something like that, maybe not word for word.

Later in the day, she and Garrett were playing at the park while we waited to pick Aidan up from piano lessons. They had both climbed to the top of the rock climbing wall and Garrett informed me that I needed to help her get back down. As I stood at the bottom and directed her what to do so that I could get her safely down, she informed me that "I can't go down all by myself, I'll crack and bleed."

On Saturday, we shopped for bunk bed lumber at Home Depot. I had Rachel in the cart but I turned my back and when I turned back around she was standing on the floor looking proud and stating, "Look! I didn't bleed out my nose!"

Did I mention she's part monkey?

But the best little Rachelism from last week was on the way to pick Aidan up. We commented on how gorgeous the sunset was. The sun was a brilliant orange ball in the sky and half covered by a cloud. I said to the kids, "Isn't God amazing?" And Rachel asked, "God did that?" When I told her yes, God did that, she thought for a moment and asked, "with a ladder?"

If you want to join this blog carnival, or just want to read about the moments other moms are going to miss, check out Pam's blog!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just What This Mom Needed

We had school conferences last night. Just to keep a long story short, I'll recap the evening in numbers.

1 evening.
2 different schools.
3 conference times.
4 books to find and buy at the book fair.
5 kids in tow.
6 near meltdowns.
7 ice cream cones to celebrate the end of a busy, stressful, full of fun evening!*

*Yes, I realize that we only needed 6 ice cream cones because Emily can't have one yet. The extra cone had to do with the 1 actual meltdown that I did not list with the 6 near meltdowns. And that's all you need to know.

And the teacher's comments?

Well to sum up:

Aidan? His teacher loves him! Which is such a nice thing to hear after being warned for the last 3 years that there is concern that he'll become a class clown. But don't take that wrong...we have loved all of his teachers but Aidan has a big personality and a great sense of humor, he's just been lacking the maturity to handle it :o). His grades are wonderful, as they always are, and his behavior has been too! That was an excellent way to start the evening!

Aly? Her teachers love her! She has adjusted to life in middle school just great and has even begun to improve on the things she struggled with a bit in 4th and 5th grade! Aly's struggle has been that until 4th grade, school was easy. She just never needed to truly work. This year she has really started to show self-motivation and has been willing to put forth more effort. I was very happy with how Aly is doing!

Garrett? Well, I wasn't worried a bit about what I would hear from his teacher...until she opened with, "I've been a teacher for a lot of years..." I got a little nervous! But she was only making the point that she has had lots of experience sizing kids up at the beginning of the year and Garrett completely surprised her! In a good way...whew! He is doing so well and really showing off how smart he is! I was so proud! I also took the opportunity to let her know that when he comes to school with the same pants on several days in a row, that it is only because I have to pick my battles and that one is just not worth it! She agreed. So we're good.

Rachel? Her teacher just adores her and loves all of the "Rachelisms" she hears on a daily basis. So much so that she posts them on facebook for all to enjoy. Oh, I should mention that I'm homeschooling her :o). Concerns? That's a whole other post...or book...if you know Rachel. It would be nice if she would put on a little weight so that we don't have problems like we did last night. As she ran across the lawn to the book fair, her jeans fell down around her ankles. But she just kept running! Thank goodness it was dark out.

Emily? Well, she's just the cutest little baby there is. Everyone falls in love with Emily! Three weeks ago she started pulling herself around the room and now she is rocking on her hands and knees! I'm not quite ready for all of that, she's not even 6 months old yet! And the hair. I so love her hair! But what to do with it? I'm at a loss. She looked adorable with a fountain on top of her sweet little head but it only lasts until nap time so I haven't bothered doing that again.

Well, that pretty much wraps our hectic, hurried, humor-filled, just what this mom needed, night.

I love my kids!

And a special thank you to Grandma for the ice cream cones! :o)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dear Emily,

We really need to talk. As you know, I can not resist your sweet smile. I find you irresistible. And your pitiful cry gets me every time and I just have to hold you close.

But from 3 til 5 in the morning? Really? Is this necessary?

Here's the thing. This schedule isn't working for me.

First, I don't mind getting up with you in the wee hours. Really. I actually enjoy our time together, just you and me. But I can not start my day at 3 so I have to go back to sleep.

Now, I've been trying to make this work. I've been hanging out with you until you fall back to sleep at 5 and then going back to bed myself. But you are not an only child. You need to think of your brothers and sisters. To be honest, they are starting to get tired of me running into their rooms at 7:10 yelling "I over-slept! Get up! You're going to be late!" And I would really prefer to feed them a nice breakfast at the table instead of throwing pop-tarts at them as they are running down the driveway to catch the bus.

Okay, so I'm being a little over dramatic, and I don't remember the last time I bought pop tarts, but let's not change the subject.

I'm putting my foot down, young lady. No more staying up til 5. Here's how it's going to be, I will feed you at 3 and you will go back to sleep at 3:45. Okay?

And yes. I am totally bluffing. I will cuddle you whenever you ask, sweet girl....but could you consider changing up your schedule? Just a little?

With Love,

p.s. About this hands and knees business you've started...I'm really not ready for you to be crawling. I'm still having a hard time with the fact that you started pulling yourself around the room before you were even 5 months old. Well, we can talk about that later.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Not Me Monday!

I haven't played this in quite awhile so I thought it would be fun! MckMama over at My Charming Kids hosts this and it's fun to read what other mom's are not doing. Head over there and check it out...well, if you don't mind, read mine first.

Last week, I absolutely did not agree to watch my friends kids on Friday (there was no school here) and not ask what time she would be picking them up. That would have been foolish because my boys had dentist appointments at 2. So, I did not panic at 1 and call a friend to take Aly because 7 kids is 1 too many for my van. Nope. (Of course, if I had done that God would have taken care of all of the details, as He tends to do, and my friend would have picked her kids up at the dentist and when we were done we would have met my other friend at the store we were planning to go to anyway, and pick up Aly there...God is so good.)

And last night, I was not doing the happy dance because my new bedtime routine for the kids went so swimmingly that by 9 Emily had been fed, Aly had helped Rachel get ready for bed, I had read Rachel a bedtime story and she was asleep! The boys had quiet time reading in their beds while all this was happening and then I spent some time talking to them and saying our bedtime prayer. Aly then stayed up later and realized that she should have listened to me earlier when I told her to get her homework done because it would have been more fun to stay up late if she didn't have to do her homework...imagine that, mom was right.

It was not me being ecstatic over this new routine because, of course, I am so organized that I have had a bedtime routine all along. I have not been letting Rachel stay up til...whenever, and sleep...wherever since before Emily was born. Not me! And I have not been so overwhelm and under organized that a routine at bedtime has fallen by the wayside. Nope. Having little miss #5 has been a breeze and I have been Super Mom. Or not.

Hop on over to MckMama's blog and play along!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Exhibit A

Proof that Rachel is having no issues what-so-ever, sharing her things with Emily. None. Really.

(And that was a 6/9 month snowsuit. I'm guessing it's at least a 12 month now :o)

A Little Dusting

So. It's been awhile. I've been a terrible blogger. Which is fine because I'm not really a "blogger."

I've also been a terrible housekeeper these days. And really, that's fine too. Because I'm not really a "housekeeper."

So. Who am I?

I am sinner saved by grace seeking to serve her Savior.

So. It's okay if I neglect my blog sometimes. It's okay if housework falls by the wayside.

But. I have not been in the Word lately. And that is terrible!

So. I'm doing some dusting.

I'm thoroughly cleaning my house. Motivated by the fact that we desperately need to start building a couple of bunk beds or Emily will never get to move across the hall to the girl's room. (Which I am totally conflicted about, by the way...what happened to my newborn baby girl?)

I'm dusting the cobwebs off my blog. Motivated by the desperate need to write! I love having this record of all that is going on in my home, and in my heart.

But most important, I am cleaning out all of the excuses from my vocabulary and returning to a daily quiet time with my God. In His Word. Right where I am supposed to be.

Martha must retire. It can't all get done anyway.

Mary is ready to sit at Jesus feet again.

Friday, August 21, 2009

1/2 a Score and 2 Years Ago...

God blessed me with a little bundle who made me a mommy! At 3:30am on Aug. 21, 1997, I woke up to discover that my labor had started. I did want any woman would do and went back to sleep! When I finally did get up, I gave Gary a haircut so he would look nice for pictures (how thoughtful am I?) and he went to work. Really, he did. Hey, he was paid hourly back then and we weren't positive yet that I would be admitted when I went in to see if my water had leaked. In fact, when my mom took me to the hospital at 8am the nurses weren't thinking that I would be admitted either and didn't start the admission process until after 11am when it was confirmed that my water had leaked and my midwife broke my bag to speed things up!

Alison Elizabeth entered this world at 5:07pm! 7lb 5 oz and 21 inches long! It was a beautiful day and I still can't believe God has blessed me so much! I sure don't deserve her...but sometimes I think she does deserve me!

She was adorable then and gets cuter every year! And every year she makes me laugh more and works hard to be more unique. She has no desire to seek popularity, to be like everyone else. Nope, not my girl! Weird is what she wants to be...and she does it well!

Monday, she'll start middle school. I can't believe how fast these 12 years have gone! And what's more amazing is that as much as I love her (which is A LOT!) there is One who loves her more than I ever could. And I pray that as she grows she will choose to have her own relationship with her Savior and live her life to please the Lord. And she can be weird while she does it!


Now, I'm off to make 12 Swedish pancakes and serve her breakfast in bed! (She'd better share!)

dited to correct the title and thank you mom for the lesson in how many years a "score" is!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Summer has been a blur. Well, it's not technically over yet, but there are only 4 weeks left until the first day of school. How is it going so fast?

I suppose having had a new baby just 1 week before school let out for the summer has something to do with how fast the days are flying by. It seems like just yesterday I was wondering what day we would be meeting her and at the same time, it seems like she has always been here.

I remember after having our third baby I felt very frustrated in the beginning. Each new day was, well, not a new day. The days all ran together and I could sum them all up like this...wake up, get everyone through the day to bedtime, sleep, wake up, get everyone through the day to bedtime, get the picture.

This time around, we have 5. I don't know if my hormones are being kinder to me or maybe I'm just wiser, but everything these days seems deeply meaningful. The task of each day is not just getting to the end of it. It's not just about surviving.

I've loved that the kids have been out of school for these first weeks of Emily's life. I love that they are not missing all the little things. We've had a great balance of being very busy and just hanging out.

We had a blast at VBS a couple weeks ago. I ran the craft station and Emily spent her mornings being loved on in the nursery. She was so good, she only called me away a couple times. We had a record attendance this year and tie-dyed t-shirts with 150 kids! Aidan even prayed to accept Christ at VBS! He said, "I was 90% sure before, but today I was 100% sure." And Rachel loved the preschool VBS, they had I think 60 preschoolers! Just today, Rachel sat at the computer doing the motions to the VBS songs.

For all that I am accomplishing this summer there is plenty falling by the wayside. Like our library summer reading club. We signed up. We've even made a few trips to the library this summer. But we never did set our reading goals. Oh well.

But I'm not worrying about getting everything done. There are things we'll do and things we can't and I just want to make sure that we accomplish what is most meaningful. Eternally meaningful.

God has been stressing to me this summer the importance of praying for my children. Praying that they will draw close to God. Praying that He will reveal to them their need for Him and that they will come to know Him early in this life. Praying that God will reveal to me what each of their needs are because He knows them more than I ever will.

I pray that our days are meaningful.

Even when we are just sitting at home wondering to each other "when do you think Emily's hair will start to lay flat?"

Saturday, July 4, 2009

You're Gonna Miss This...Moment...#3

It's been a long, long, long time since I blogged regularly.

I miss that.

I used to have so many thoughts running through my head that I could not wait til the kids went to bed so I could put them into print.

I miss that.

I used to crawl into bed late at night with my laptop and work on a book I was writing.

I really miss that.

These days?

These days, I rarely blog. Most of the thoughts running through my mind are thoughts like "when did Emily eat last?" and "where is Rachel?" and "what day is it today?"

These days, I crawl into bed late at night with a sweet little girl who needs to eat, and sometimes her 3 year old sister who needs apple juice!

These days are filled by countless diaper changes. Feedings and burpings and figuring out whose turn it is to hold the baby. These days I make meals with one hand and am impressed with myself if I shower before lunch...or at all.

But I have been blessed with baby who likes to sleep at night. From just a few days old she has been in the habit of only waking up hungry once in the night. She has even slept all night a couple of times.

I have been blessed with great kids who fill my days with the awesome responsibility and opportunity to train them up in the way they should go and teach them about the God who gave them to me. In addition to that, they fill my days with much laughter. And we have been filling our days this summer with tie-dying t-shirts. Decorating sugar cookies. Taking Emily to her first movie. Visiting Grandma. Making homemade donuts. Swimming. Watching Emily smile and making her laugh.

These 5 little people have left me with little time for blogging and writing.

And I'm gonna miss this....because they won't stay little for long.

And to read about the moments other bloggers are gonna miss, check out Pam's blog!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


...Emily Joy!!!

Isn't she beautiful?

One week ago, I woke up feeling, well, funny. I really can't explain it but soon after that my water started leaking. Of course, I wasn't sure that it was my water but let's not discuss what the other possibility was. Moving on. So, at 11am I headed to the clinic for my midwife to check me. Gary and the whole clan waited in the waiting room while my midwife confirmed that our little girl was on her way!

The plan was to go home and let things progress and then meet my midwife at the hospital at 8pm. We all headed out to the parking lot to leave and then realized that Rachel had lost the keys to the van! Ten minutes later, we found them under a magazine in the waiting room, and headed to our friend's house to drop the kids off. Gary and I paced around the house and packed a bag to drop off for the kids as everything started to sink in and contractions started to get stronger.

And did I mention that it was my Mom's birthday? I was so excited to be having her on her Grandma's birthday, as was Grandma! Gary and I met my Mom at Culver's for lunch around 1:30 and not only did my Mom get a complimentary birthday custard, but Gary asked if the baby could have hers too, since that day would be her birthday!

We didn't know what to do with ourselves so we walked around CVS and bought her a pacifier and a watch to time contractions. Then we headed to the grocery store and bought a birthday cake. We finally decided to head to the hospital early. And at just after 4 my midwife broke my water to help things along.

Around 8 they decided to hook me up to the monitors and check baby and see where I was at.

Things stopped going slowly then.

At 8:15 she said I was 5cm and said that we would wait a while to see if the contractions started working better and if not we would have to start pitocin.

Then at 8:53, on May 30, our little 8lb 5 oz, 19 1/2 in miracle entered this world!!!!

Oh, and the cord was around her neck, but very loosely.

We thank God for blessing us with our little Emily Joy!!! (Who happens to be in my lap right now, requesting a diaper change.)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Plans

Well, Gary is off this Saturday and I was looking forward to spending the day as a family. I had a half lazy, half get stuff done around the house, day planned.

Instead, we're going to go have a baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


"your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be."

Psalm 139:16

(To read the whole chapter)

Ten days! I have been counting down the number of days to June 7 for 8 1/2 months now. But as June 7 approaches (10 days case you didn't catch that!) it is not June 7 that I anticipate anymore.

As I sit here, feeling much too tired to go into labor anytime today :o), the date I am anticipating now, is unknown to me.

My due date was the date set by man. It was the date that in our earthly wisdom we could pinpoint as the time God's miracle would be ready to enter this world.

The date that this little girl will have been growing for 40 weeks is sure. That is just 10 days away!

The date that she will enter this world and I will get to count her toes, kiss her cheeks, and find out who's nose she has...well, that remains a mystery.

But not to God. He has ordained that day. It has been set since before I knew I wanted her.

When I was pregnant with Rachel, we had decided on Monday, March 27, to be induced on Tuesday, March 28. I remember driving to the hospital on that morning and worrying that it wasn't right to choose her birthday. (To clarify...there were several reasons to induce but none were health related, I would not have had that worry if there had been a medical emergency!) Anyway, I mentioned my worry to Gary...what if this isn't the day God had planned? To which he replied, "Then it won't happen today."

Very good point.

And Rachel was born on that day. Not because we chose to induce, but because God had ordained it.

Three years later, here we are anxious to know what day God has ordained for our fifth little one. We are having fun talking about what day we would pick. She could share her Grandma's birthday, or mine. We are planning who to call to take the kids in the middle of the night, or the middle of the day. And getting even more anxious as we learned yesterday that I'm already 3cm and 80% effaced!!!! And we are waiting.

Waiting to see what day is already written in His book! We do know it's soon!

Monday, May 18, 2009

On Your Marks...Get Set...

...but don't GO just yet!!!

I think it's important to first decide what race you're running. A couple of years ago I was facing a big decision. If you don't know, I don't like decisions. It's probably just me being a chicken, because if someone else decides then it's not my fault if it turns out to be wrong. But moving on...

Gary and I were separated at the time and I had a babysitting opportunity come up. The details of this opportunity are not important now, but let's just say it was a very, very complicated situation.

So, I was faced with a BIG decision. I desperately wanted to do God's will. I desperately wanted to know what that was! I was stressed but I was in prayer.

And God did show me His will. But He did so much more than just show me what direction to take.

He taught me something about seeking His will.

Hebrews 12:1 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

He reminded me that this life is my race.

I Corinthians 9:24 says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

He reminded me that there was purpose in this race. Eternal purpose.

And then He asked me what race I was running!

I was trying to run a baton relay. I was anxious and searching. Looking for Him to show up with a baton to pass on to me. I wanted to make sure that it was from Him, I wanted to run the race He had set for me.


I wanted to grab a baton and take off running. I'd seek His direction again if I came to a crossroads, but until then, just let me run!

He was waiting for me to join Him in a different race.

The three-legged race.

One step at a time.

And never without His lead.

That big decision was not a baton. It was a step.

And His will wasn't something to accept and then set out on my own to accomplish.

He will was for me to trust that He had a plan, a course, and then rely on Him with each and every step. His will was a race that involved an intimate relationship with Him.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Feeling Like Sponge Bob

Okay, if you don't watch Sponge Bob, then you just won't understand. But in the voice of my favorite little porous friend, I want to exclaim...

"I'm ready!"

(I told you that you wouldn't understand. That's okay.)

So, our little one has been a very good girl! She has turned (although she is face up at the moment, but we can work on that) and did very well for her non-stress test. I get to go in once a week now for the test and ultrasound. I think this is due to the fact that once they see that the cord may be around baby's neck they have to continue to monitor them more closely because they can't truly tell by ultrasound if the cord is around the neck or just appears to be. This is just an educated guess, however, because I have not been worrying about it to the point that I plum forgot to ask any questions!

So, we're 4 1/2 weeks from our due date...I feel like a kid again counting the days until my birthday :o) ! I was blessed to find a few great garage sale bargains last week! A swing (one that swings side to side and front to back) , a vibrating bouncy chair, and a sling all for a grand total of $14! Thank you, God! My husband rearranged our bedroom to make room for our bassinet. Did I mention that...

"I'm ready!"

Well, there are two very important things that need to be finished first.

We need an infant car seat! This is one item that we decided we will probably just buy new. But we'd better hurry up or Gary will be shopping for one while I wait at the hospital to go home!

It is finally starting to sink in how soon she will be entering the world! I think that because she is due the beginning of summer, her due date has seemed so far away. Now that the weather is so nice, it's starting to feel like summer is actually coming soon...and so is our girl!

"I'm ready!"

So, the second thing that we are working on getting done is a bunk bed! I am so excited about this! We were given instructions and tips from a friend who built one for his boys 11 years ago. We need to be able to fit all 3 girls in the same bedroom that only accommodates 2 beds. So, we are building a bunk bed with a trundle to give them more space. Why? Because this is easier than moving!!!

The kids' last day of school is June 2. Baby is due June 7. It's been fun wondering which will come first. And I have to say that I am glad is not up to me! I am glad God has her day all planned. I can see so many reasons to hope she comes while the kids are still in school...and just as many good reasons to hope she doesn't. But the Creator who has so lovingly been knitting her together, sees more than I ever could, and He has made a perfect plan for her.

I feel blessed beyond measure to be a part of her life.

Oh, yeah, and...

"I'm ready!"

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Casting Some Cares

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." I Peter 5:7

I think I've been doing the wrong kind of "casting." The image I get with the word "cast" is a fisherman casting his line. The problem I'm having with this verse is that I don't think that is the kind of casting God is asking of me. Why? Because the fisherman never intends to loose his line. He casts it out with the intention of reeling it back in.

Worry creeps in constantly. I'm human, it finds me. It always will.

I don't doubt that God is in control. I don't doubt that He has a plan and that He alone is trustworthy.

And yet, I cast my worry on Him and slowly (or sometimes not so slowly) reel it back.

I need a new definition of "casting."

I looked up "cast" in the dictionary. There were quite a few definitions. Here's the definition of "cast" that I first thought seemed appropriate:

Cast - to throw or set aside; discard or reject; dismiss: He cast the problem from his mind.

As I reread it, though, I noticed a problem. That definition leaves me handling my worry on my own. God is asking me to give it to Him.

These two, then, seemed the most fitting for this verse.

Cast - to part with; to lose


Cast - to bestow; confer: to cast blessings upon someone.

When God tells me to cast all my anxiety on Him, it's because He is able to handle it and He doesn't want me to hold on to it. I need to part with it by giving it to Him.

So I'm putting away my fishing pole.

Yesterday we got to see our little girl. She is adorable (seriously, I can tell how cute she is from an ultrasound) and even has quite a bit of hair already! She is perfect and they estimate that she is about 4lb 9oz. With 7 weeks left till her due date I find myself becoming more and more anxious to meet her! I want so badly to hold her, snuggle her, feel her soft hair on my cheek while she sleeps on my chest, and hum "Amazing Grace" as we rock together while the rest of the world sleeps.

(Seven weeks seems so long! Of course, there are also 7 weeks left of school, so it will probably just fly by.)

There were also 2 other things we got to see at yesterday's ultrasound.

Our little one is breech and appears to have her cord wrapped around her neck.

I'm going back in a week and a half for a non stress test, and another ultrasound and was told that if nothing has changed I will go in every week after that to monitor her. I know all the things that could happen. I know the very, very, very worst case scenarios and I know that babies can be born with cords around their necks, looking beautiful, but purple, and with a little oxygen, pink right up and go on to be healthy and wonderful (and enter Kindergarten with the dream of becoming a paleontologist)!

I'm casting all the anxiety of the "what if's" on my God. The truth is, there really are no "what if's." History and statistics only tell what has happened and God is not limited by that. And of all the things that could happen, there is only ONE thing that will happen. God's plan will unfold for this sweet little girl that He has knit together.

So, I'm praying for my little girl to flip and untangle and I'm praying for a beautiful birth-day for her. I'm also trying the positions that encourage babies to flip (with the exception of doing a headstand...seriously, a headstand? I think a c-section sounds safer!) and my midwife will be keeping a close eye on this little one.

As for the One who is able to take the best care of her....

I am thanking Him for the gift of this little one, praising Him for His wonderful works, and I am casting any anxiety that creeps in on Him.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Friday, April 17, 2009


Today is all about my favorite things!

My favorite 5th grader got up cheerfully (and in record time) to have time to shower before school for spring picture day! She's normally not a morning person, she gets that from her dad. I agreed to cut her hair if there was time, so that helped. Now, I am not a hair dresser/stylist whatever they are called these days, so I was a wee bit concerned that this was a very bad idea! But it was just a trim and she was happy with it....whew!

My favorite 2nd grader was off to school, happy as a clam, for no special reason. Just an ordinary day!

My favorite Kindergartner, and future paleontologist, skipped to the bus stop giggling about his own silliness. Why? Because he's on his way to the museum this morning to see dinosaurs!

My favorite little three year old is sleeping in...without a diaper...and she's dry!

What could be better?

Oh, I know!

After lunch today, I'm meeting my favorite husband and my favorite mom to take a 3D peek at our favorite little baby girl!!!

I have never had a 3D ultrasound! I am so excited! Of course, I'd be this excited even if it wasn't a 3D ultrasound, but it is!!!

I just can't stand the wait! I think I'll spend the morning fixing things, because, well, that is a favorite thing of mine! I bought the anchors to fix our front curtain rod and new screws to fix Aly's door and if that doesn't take up my morning, I'm sure I can find something else that needs to be fixed!

And as a final favorite, I have planned my day and given it to the Lord. Now I get to see what He has planned for me today!!!!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Getting What I Don't Deserve

Three years ago today (and every day since) that is what I received.

She had fooled 3 home pregnancy tests and the blood test at the doctor's office. I was 2 1/2 months pregnant when I finally got a positive test.

There was nothing about my life at that time that made the thought of having another baby seem like a good idea. But when the doctor walked in with "the wheel", you know the little due date calculator, I knew it was true and by the time I got to my friend's house to pick up the kids, I was in love.

God gave me what I didn't deserve.

On March, 27th I had my last OB visit and we made the decision to be induced the following morning. My midwife was going out of town and I didn't want just any doctor at the delivery and if I had not gone into labor by the following week, they were going to induce anyway. I spent the afternoon with my friend, Kristin, and our kids. For some reason, we decided that she would give me a foot massage to see if it was true that a foot massage can induce labor.

It is true.

I was contracting before she even finished the massage! When I went in for my induction, my midwife checked me and commented that I had indeed already gone into labor on my own :o). But they still broke my water and started pitocin.

For the record, this time around I am getting a foot massage from Kristin before they have a chance to recommend is evil.

I was 3 cm when they started pitocin at 7am. I hung out that morning with Gary, my Mom, and my friend Tracy. We actually had a nice morning. My Mom and I played Scrabble and when the nurses and resident doctor would check in, they even tried to help. By 11am I was not having quite as much fun and by noon I just wanted to be in bed.

And then the fun part.

My midwife checked me at 12:30 and I was dilated to 4. I spent the next 5 minutes mentally panicking. In my head, it went something like this...


And so on, and so on.

Until I finally said to my family, "This feels like the end."

Somehow, Gary understood that I meant that it felt like the end of labor, but my Mom about had a heart attack having just heard her daughter announce that she was on her death bed!

So, I asked for an epidural.

I hated asking. I was so upset. I had avoided an epidural for all 3 of my other labors. I am happy for all of you moms that have had "painless" labors but I can't handle the thought of a needle in my spine. Seriously, I'll take the labor pains.

So, for the first time, I actually met an anesthesiologist during labor. Well, I heard his voice. I never opened my eyes to look at him. And I was only half listening to what he had to say. He said something about "you'll probably be pushing soon anyway" and "I have another patient and then I'll come back." It was at some point during his little speech that I started feeling like I had to push. (I did officially meet the anesthesiologist the next day when he came to tell me that he did in fact come back but I had already delivered!)

So, 20 minutes after hearing "4 centimeters" and proceeding to panic, I was complete and ready to push.

And at 1:02pm on March 28, 2006 we met Rachel Grace!

"Rachel", our little lamb.
"Grace", being given what you don't deserve.

And all 7 pounds 13 ounces of her was absolutely beautiful. A perfect gift from God, at just the perfect time...His timing, not mine!

He surprised us with her and she's been surprising us ever since. And 3 years later, I'm about to decorate a "Nemo" birthday cake for the little girl who dances through this house, charming everyone. The little girl who tells me what direction to go when I'm driving, to get me to Walmart for her blue suckers. The little girl who is addicted to apple juice and already has a love for shoes. The little girl who loves to sing "Jesus loves me" (and wore out the battery in the bunny that sings along!), and "talk to grammaw" on the phone. The little girl who loves "so-sees" (horses) and the colors "pink" (purple) and "purple" (pink). The little girl who uses "kung-fu panda" moves on her big brothers and cried when Daddy took "her van" to work one day. The little girl who took her 2 year old buddy on an elevator ride to the youth room at church one Sunday and gave us all a heart attack!!! The little girl who is getting a twin bed today...who used to be my "baby."

Happy Birthday Rachel Grace!

And on a slightly less important note...3 years ago today, I was not only blessed with a little girl I didn't deserve but a Culver's turtle sundae to celebrate her!! This year there will be no Culver's sundae but Gary just came home with groceries and I have Edy's French Silk ice cream!!! I just keep getting what I don't deserve!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

When God Doesn't Work.

We've all heard people say that they "tried religion" or "tried God" but that it, or he, didn't "work" for them. I'll be honest, when I hear that, even when it's just implied, I feel like a little girl on the playground ready to take on the school bully to defend her Dad! That is of course just my initial reaction to an accusation that something God has said, done, or even not done, is wrong.

The truth that I have found is that when we are disappointed by God it has nothing to do with God. I've seen people "try" God and what they are really doing is seeking something from God and naturally, if they don't get what they want, then God "didn't work."

They did not try God. They tried the equivalent of rubbing a lamp, scratching off a ticket, or kissing a frog. God promises us, "But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deuteronomy 4:29

Are we looking for Him? With all our heart and soul? Is it God we want? Or is it a happy marriage we are seeking, or a better job, or better health? God tells us to "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." I Peter 5:7 But have you read the verse right before that?

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." I Peter 5:6

If we come to God when we want something and turn away from Him if He doesn't give us what we want, it is not God who didn't work. He never promised to do everything the way we ask or want or even the way that makes the most sense to us. In fact, He promises us that His ways won't make sense to us. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

To seek God and humble ourselves before Him, admitting that He is God and we are sinners, this is the first step in the only way to have a relationship with God. He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin and until we accept that gift we remain separated from God. To "try" God and religion without first coming to Christ will never "work."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Psalm 60, "Clay Pup", and a "Questionable" Girl...

My heart has been heavy this week.

The struggles that God has seen Gary and I through have become fresh in my mind as 3 of my friends, and 2 friends I follow in blog-land, are facing much of the same pain. I continue to praise God for His faithfulness, for choosing to restore my marriage...for the sake of His glory, not my "happily ever after." But I am hurting for these friends and pleading with God to do what only He can do.

I had spent Tuesday morning in prayer especially for these husbands and wives and when I was done I opened up my Bible to read. Now, if you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that last year I decided to read through the Bible in a year. This year's resolution is to finish! I'm somewhere in Sept. but I really want to finish. I didn't want to start over on Jan. 1 just for the sake of getting it done in 365 days, so I'm just working a day at a time and we'll see how long it takes me! So, on Tuesday, I checked my reading schedule and opened up to Psalm 60.

Rachel was sitting with me so I started to read it out loud and it didn't take long for the tears to come. I bawled all the way through it and for several minutes afterward. The weight and reality of the desperate state of our souls just overwhelmed me. I saw so clearly how deserving we are of all of our pain and suffering and how undeserving we are of God's presence, help, and deliverance. And yet, that's what He offers. That is what He longs to do for each of us...deliver us!

And the last 2 verses read, "Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies." (Psalm 60:11-12)

And that is what I go before the throne and humbly plead for my friends.

I am also praising God for all that He gives. Even in the midst of a heavy week, I have been blessed with great joys.

Wednesday morning, I told Rachel to let the water out of the tub when she was done with her bath. As the water was draining, I went into the bedroom and I could hear her start singing :o). She sang "clay pup! clay pup! clay pup!" over and over. When I went to see what she was doing, wondering what "clay pup" meant, I found her tidying up the bath toys on the shelf. She was singing "clean up."

Later that morning, I picked Aly up from school and we met Gary at the clinic for our 20 week ultrasound. Watching Aly was fun. This was the first time we've brought her to an ultrasound. I loved watching her squint and try to figure out what she was seeing. Then Melissa started explaining what she was looking at and that helped a lot! We watched "Ollie" moving and kicking and got pictures of 2 sweet little feet and several toes (I hope there's 10 of them!). "Ollie" reached his little hand up to the side of his head and we got a picture of a little ear.

We found out that our little "Ollie" is a girl! And then my ultrasound tech (and good friend from church :o) added the word "questionable." Grrr. "Ollie" cooperated just fine and looks like a girl, but because I was a few days shy of 20 weeks (19w 3d to be exact) she said that there is a slight chance that there are boy parts there that haven't fallen yet. Grrr. Now. I'm confident that that is not the case. But with just a seed of doubt planted I still feel like we don't know...oh, the frustration!! Fortunately, she was unable to get a picture of the cord attaching to the placenta that she needs and they told me to schedule another appointment in 2-3 weeks!!! Yay! She said by then, she would be more confident about her assessment. It's going to keep making me crazy for 2-3 weeks but at least I don't have to wait for the 32 week ultrasound!!!

The best part of course, was that everything looked perfect! "Ollie" is healthy and right on schedule! And I give God all the glory for His work!

I am just in awe of a God who walks with me in pain and delivers me, who also blesses me with joys beyond measure even in the very midst of a breaking heart.

God is good, all the time.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Where Have I Been?

It has been a whole month since I last blogged!

It's been driving me crazy not writing, and yet, we've been so busy that the time has flown by. So, my first post will be my month in review and then I'm back!

How do I wrap up the last month?

We had our absolutely best Christmas ever! Gary was in the choir Christmas program, "I'll Be Home For Christmas". We made our gingerbread kit, but sadly, time slipped away and the big gingerbread project never happened :o(. Christmas break started a day early...thanks to a lovely snow storm :o)! Our refrigerator broke the day before Christmas Eve and Gary got to shop for a new one on Christmas Eve! All I could say was "Thank you God that it's the refrigerator and not the furnace!"

Mock chicken legs for Christmas Eve dinner (if that was the only thing we had done, it might still have been the best Christmas ever!). Santa brought everyone just what they asked does he do that? A weekend at my Dad's not sledding, but watching him take the kids out on the lake. (That was nerve wracking, I must admit, but "Ollie" and I were much safer indoors!) Sleepovers galore. In the evening on Dec. 30th, "Ollie" kicked me!!! (which also happens to be the same date that I kicked my mom for the first time, pretty cool.) New Year's Eve dinner with Kristin and her kids. Marble cheesecake for breakfast on Jan. 1 (because I didn't make it early enough, so it wasn't' ready until midnight or so and we were NOT up at "midnight or so"). Actually, I could go for some right now...but I'd have to make it.

We topped off the Christmas break with a weekend away with my mom, and brother and nieces, at my little cousin's wedding! I say little, because it just seems like yesterday that I was babysitting her and she was cheating at Pretty, Pretty, Princess, or maybe it was Guess Who? Rachel now refers to her as "my princess", except of course when she saw her the next day in her sweats and t-shirt...then she was shy and asked where her princess went? Aidan sat unhappily through the ceremony, claiming that "weddings scare me," but got over it when we headed to the hotel to swim before the reception. Garrett and Aly had a conversation as they went to sleep that went like this...Aly - "My favorite part was the dancing." Garrett - "Yeah, the dancing. I love dancing, and I love these cashews."

And Monday morning, life returned to "normal." We all settled right back into our routine.

And yet, the best part of Christmas is something that does much more than stir up life for a month. This part changes life...forever.

The celebration of Christmas is a remembrance. God told the Israelites numerous times in the Old Testament to "remember," He was the one who told them to celebrate Passover every year and told them to tell their stories to their children. Why? Because He knows us. He knows we forget.

This past month, we remembered.

We remembered that a young girl and her new husband traveled a long way in the last days of her pregnancy. They found no place to stay. She went through labor in a stable with only Joseph at her side. Well, that's not entirely true, God was with them. Mary gave birth to a son, and they named him Jesus.

We remembered that it was lowly shepherds that witnessed the heavenly birth announcement.
The angel declared, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And if that announcement wasn't amazing enough, "Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

"And Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Can you imagine? Can you imagine that night?

And consider that all this took place so that God's Son could be sacrificed in our place, take our punishment, that we might be spared and have a relationship with our Creator. This was God's plan, He had been preparing everything for this moment. He spoke of His Son's birth to the prophets, He told His people that He would come, that He would save them.

Can you imagine? Can you believe all that God has done for us?

Do you remember? I do. And I will teach it to my children, and their children. And pray that we will not forget.

"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

(and the story of Christ's birth is found in Luke 2:1-20)