Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Last memories of 2008...a party with three other families that we love.

And the ball 9 PM!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reflections on 2008

Last January, I followed Heidi's example and chose a word. The word was to encapsulate what I thought most appropriate for 2008. My word was Courage. I found that this little word became an appropriate theme for me- month by month.
When I look back on this year, I consider it to be one of the best. Even though it is marked with more death and sadness than ever before, the love and togetherness overshadows the other. We have been face to face this year with the reality of living in a fallen, broken world. We have seen one of our biggest earthly heroes walk away from his wife and children. We have watched three loved ones pass away from this life, from us, and into the next. We have seen my Dad's heart break as he said farewell to both parents. We have watched a heroine at church battle breast cancer. We have seen a love one fall under the hidden shadow of alcoholism. Sin bears an ugly mark on our lives.

On the other hand, our family of five has received remarkable blessing. We have enjoyed the flexibility of home school and Andy's job at home. We have talked, played and learned more together than any other year in our life. We have found strength as we mourned with others, as we have been reminded that we are just pilgrims passing through this short life. We have learned to earnestly seek God, as our financial status is always unpredictable. We have been blessed by God's prompting to become deeply entrenched in the lives of teenagers. We have become much more dependent on one another as we took a blind leap into homeschooling. Really, all that we knew as "normal" has been tossed aside for a much less conventional life. Our reluctant, sometimes doubtful, pursuit of Christ's calling for us has lead to deep joy.

One little word- Courage- has been a life-giver. Many times I found myself saying, "Remember courage. Remember to 'fear not'!" as we trudged, squirmed, or leaped our way through 2008. I told my friend the other day regarding our year, "I can't help but wonder if this is the best year of my life. It might not get any better than this!" But still, I have big dreams for 2009.

“One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar.”
Helen Keller

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our weekend

What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories. -- George Eliot

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Back to five

Tonight we are back to a family of five. We have had various family members in our home since Christmas day. We love having our family spend time in our home! It was a special treat to be able to host Mom and Dad for a night, and then Andy's family. My parents pulled out of the drive way on the 26th, literally swerving around Andy's parents.
We had a very joyous time together! Lots of food, conversation, games and laughter had by all. From Christmas morning...
Lydie enjoyed her new babies and her kitchen ALL day
Every year since Jaybird was born, my parents have driven three hours to our house to see the child(ren) on Christmas morning. My children have 4 grandparents that deeply love and cherish them. What a gift!
One of Jaybird's favorite gifts! A pyramid with archeology tools. He had to decode the hieroglyphics, chisel and hammer, brush, and dig. He found many treasures inside- a mummy, sarcophagus, etc. A great find for an Indiana Jones wanna be! Toot screamed with glee when he opened his Indiana Jones race track. It amazed me how many times they can race the car through the track. Must be a boy thing!
Speaking of boys, if you have them- age 6 or up- you MUST buy a set of Laser Tag guns. This toy is so much fun! You can play inside or outside (preferably). And even big guys, say thirty-something year old brothers, still disappear for hours with their children's guns. My boys have been outside every afternoon running, rolling, shooting, shielding, dodging. I hope the dart guns collect gobs of dust. I might actually get a break from helping them collect darts from under the sofa.
Looking forward to the New Year!

"It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself."
-Charles Dickens

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

1 short day to go!

The crazy, sweet memories of Christmas Eve at our house...
Lydie invited me to a tea party with Belle and Cinderella
You can come, too. But "pretty shoes" are required (even if they don't match your outfit).
Lydie tried on another outfit, just for fun. She pulled out her horsie and wanted me to take a picture. Modeling for the camera is on her top 5 list for fun things to do.
Meanwhile, the boys are up to no good.
So I take a minute to read in the Bible and catch up on Crazy Love. I though it would be post-modern fluff. But this book is rooted in sound, applicable doctrine.
Oops, who is watching the toddler? Where did she go? All's well, she is just playing hide and seek with Cinderella again.
A new tradition- a trip to the Dollar Store. The boys spend $1 on each family member- of their own money. This is a milestone. My oldest son with hot chocolate in hand.
Capturing the moment- again, boys are up to no good.
Lydie's reaction to not being invited into the picture above. Did I mention she likes to have her picture taken? Daddy, still, up to no good.
Our nice dinner before the candlelight service at church. Never too dressed up for a turkey leg...
Andy smoked the biggest turkey ever.
Toot got the biggest piece of the wishbone. They wrestled over it for several minutes. Again, big old bird.
Only Andy can make a Christmas picture book this funny...
And then read the story of Jesus' birth with such beauty minutes later. I love this sweet man. He stops after every sentence with questions like, "Do you guys know what the word "Bethlehem" means?" and "What exactly is a manger?".
I should add that I bought the most adorable Christmas pajamas for the kids. But the pjs are fleece and it is 65 degrees today. Hence, the shirtless boys.

Another day with a little laughter, a little chaos, a few hurt feelings, some tears and a lot of joy. A special day to antipate the birth of the One that came to save us from ourselves. Another day to wonder, "Why did you do it, Lord? How could you leave perfection and dwell among us?" Another day to be thankful that through Christ Jesus' birth, life and death- we are made into something beautiful- crazy day by crazy day. Another wonderful day to celebrate knowing the Messiah.

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Monday, December 22, 2008

3 days to go...

This picture captures about half of the 9th/10th grade girls from church. I volunteered to lead their prayer/study group in Sunday school this school year. This decision was a leap of faith for me, because I have mostly only taught kids my childrens' ages or adults. I understand women and I understand children. But I am a little rusty with middle school/high school. I am so thankful for a new perspective.

So I decided since I wasn't sure where they were spiritually, much less how to reach them, I would just listen. And hug a lot.

Now, I am finally feeling connected. I am comfortable being a little vulnerable with my personal life. And they, in turn, seem to be slowly opening up, as well. Yesterday two of them came by with flowers and a pie for us for a Christmas treat. They are so sweet!

These girls have been accepting and affectionate with me from day one. I have no idea why, but these 14 and 15 year olds seem genuinely interested in getting to know me (it may be because I am Mrs. Andy, but that's okay!). I am certainly very interested in getting to know them. And maybe our slow, steady start has been a good thing. They know that I have no hidden agendas with them. And I am reminded that while I can plant a seed, only God can cause it to take root and spring to life. I am enjoying my Sunday mornings with this little group very much.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

4 days to go...

Today Lydie is 2 and a quarter. She has changed so much since her birthday that I thought I would post an update. Lydie is a dramatic, funny, precocious child. She is very expressive and emotional. I guess I would describe her with the exact adjectives as I did a year ago. But it is so much funnier to see this big personality come into being through her speech! She loves to play pretend kitchen, princess and dress up. She wears 10 different pairs of shoes on any given day. She almost turned her hand purple from taking out her hair rubber band during nap and using it as a "base-wet" (bracelet). She loves to be the center of attention, especially when someone will watch her dance or sing. She is a delightful handful.

"Weeping may come for a night, but JOY comes in the morning."
Psalm 30:5
The answer to our weeping- our sweet Lydia Joy!

Here are a few things she has said just this week:
~Mommy: Lydie, you are acting like a monster! (under my breath)
Lydie (without missing a beat): I not a mon-ser! I a pumpkin! (with tilt of the head and a smile)~Nana: (Lydie dropped her ball under the china cabinet) Go ahead and reach under there and get your ball!
Lydie: No, I don't get dat ball. You need to get it. I no mess up my bow! (pointing to hair bow)~Toot: Lydie, you are the baby and we are the big brothers.
Lydie: I no the baby. I the princess.
~Mommy: Lydie, lay down it's time for bed.
Lydie: I car-red (scared) of dat bad guy. (pointing to a shadow from her dragonfly)
Mommy: Would you like me to get you a night light?
Lydie: Oh yes, Mommy! (squealing) Then I no car-red. Nope, no more car-red.
~Mommy: Lydie, are you a big girl?
Lydie: I no a big girl. I Diddy Joy (Lydia Joy), dat's all. I two, and I diddy Joy.

*Pictured above: Singing and playing dress-up in my old dress. Great Nana Lydia made it for me when I was five.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

6 and 5 days to go...

Updated: She sang beautifully. Not a lot of smiling and showing off like at home. She was taking her singing very seriously. But she looked out at the audience, completely unafraid, and sang proudly!
We have been dragging around here the past couple of days! We are trying to get our Christmas cards mailed (our address list was lost on our last hard drive that crashed!), playing in basketball games, buying birthday presents (Happy Birthday Uncle Rick and Mimi!!) and buying last minute Christmas presents and clothes.

Lydie is so proud of her Christmas dress. (Nevermind it was less than $10 at Target!) She tried it on for us today to make sure it all fits. She twirled and said, "I so pretty!" a dozen times. She will wear it tomorrow at church. She is singing "Away in a Manger" with the other toddlers. She has practiced every day for two weeks! We are excited to hear all the babies sing. I always cry when the little ones sing.
Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Thursday, December 18, 2008

7 days to go...

Today we focussed on the star of Bethlehem. We discussed the miracle of the star that lead those from far away lands to the Christ child.
Jackson is posing as an angel with the star. Simple craft: trace a star cookie cutter on to a black sheet of paper, put a yellow sheet behind it (we taped it), use a hole punch for holes, and lace with yellow yarn.

Toot loved this little craft and spent a while using the hold puncher to create other works of art!

And earlier was Lydie's Mother's Morning Out party. Here she is with her heroine: Ms. Glenda.

Lydie dancing to Christmas music. Oh, how she loves to dance and sing!

Getting ready for a craft- glue droplets and drop in a bag with glitter

A Christmas Prayer
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love
all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil
by the blessing which Christ brings
,and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus' sake. Amen.
(Our memory poem for December)