Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good-bye 2015

These girls have known Lydie since her birth!

Good-bye 2015!
We ended our year the same way we have ended so many years in the past, at the Harpers in Atlanta. It is exciting and yet predictable. We love this family so much. So being with them every year when we welcome a fresh year feels perfect. The children are getting older and so are we. Did I even have a conversation during the party with my children? Not really, I don't think. They are all occupied and growing so independent. It leaves a night to fellowship with friends, which is pretty special.

This past year was extremely challenging for some of my friends. It broke my heart to hear about some of the trials they have faced, which I knew nothing about. We have known them since our boys were babies. We have been in very intimate Bible studies with them. These are some of our forever friends. And I want to see their children and marriages and lives thrive so desperately.

So thankful to catch up and know how to pray. I need to remember to call and check in more often. This year we will all have joys and triumphs and also trials. There may be deep sorrow involved and specialists and pain. So glad that we know a Savior who transcends all the brokenness and pain that could possibly be brought to us. So glad that He loves and walks with us in our joy and pain. He is our constant and I hope my friendship will be a reminder to these beautiful people of His love. Here's to 2016! I hope the last day of the year will find me in this same kitchen with these friends again. It will fly by in a flash!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Making much of Him: Battling Selfishness

“Do you feel loved by God because you believe he makes much of you, or because you believe he frees you and empowers you to enjoy making much of him?”   -John Piper

There have been so many times here lately that I have come face to face with my selfishness. It's staggering. It seems to be the ugliest with my husband. It is easier for me to be self-sacrificing for my children than another adult, apparently. Between my husband's travel schedule and using his gifts and talents at our church, at some point I have become weary and possessive, at least on the inside. My reaction has nothing, though, to do with him and everything to do with my heart.

Even when he is serving God I hesitate to pick up the slack around here.  It is unbelievable to come face-to-face with the motives of my heart.  Along with that ugly, I am always looking out for being taken advantage of.  This is another sign of a selfish heart. Lord, help.

I have figured out a helpful habit. It is actually pretty simple. Give of myself with a cheerful countenance and pray for my heart to follow. Literally I can count on my first reaction when he needs to be away to be selfish almost every time. Therefore, I almost always need to react with the opposite reaction than what is going on in my mind. This choice is not being fake. It is just battling sin! I have had a few friends remark this past week on how kind I am. It is absolutely not my natural reaction, just a choice when I am wise enough to follow through.

Also, with this tendency towards serving self, I realize I need a bigger picture of God. I need more time with Him, pouring the gospel into my heart and mind. I want so desperately to grow in love and wisdom and to truly love others more than myself for the glory of my Savior.  In Christ, there is hope! I am never permanently stuck in my sin! Praise Jesus!

"It may be possible to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken." -C.S. Lewis

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Filling the gap: Christmas Show

It's amazing how God takes care of us. This school year, for example, I was mostly concerned with my girl's reaction to being at home after three years in private school. She, like me, leans heavily on her community of friends. I predicted being at home with the boys and me might leave a gap...or possibly a gaping hole.

God was so gracious to bring along a brand new opportunity, in fact several, that kept her from being lonely. One thing that really filled her extravert cup was finding this little program that is like show choir. Every Monday she and her little friend, who is also homeschooling for the first time this year, would spend a couple of hours singing and learning choreography.  They had a blast and made many new friends! 

This past weekend they had three Christmas shows. It was really an impressive, two-hour show. She was on cloud nine all weekend and actually cried when it was over! What a sweet gift this program has been! We look forward to summer camp and participating in the program next year!

It has been unbelievable that God has orchestrated so much interaction for Lydia Joy this fall! She has seen her friends on the playground while the boys run or have meetings, she has had many play dates, and she has made new friends at co-op, gymnastics, and this program.  Looking forward to his provision this winter and spring!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas art memories

Paper plate angels

Cone-ifer trees

Nutcracker drawings

Ballerina snowflakes

Baking goodies for a night with friends

Making gingerbread houses with friends

The Nutcracker ballet with friends

Christmas fun

Seussical the Musical

Saturday, December 12, 2015

New friendships and parties

Our new co-op has provided us with many new friendships.

Trying not to embarrass Jack and get a picture of his group from afar. Fail.

My friend and her sweet girls are so dear to us!

Cross-country team at our end of the season party

Visiting our sweet Atlanta friends-who-are-like-family.

Two of Lydie's new homeschool friends.
"I would rather walk with a friend in the dark than alone in the light." -Helen Keller

Friday, December 11, 2015

First Christmas party of the season

Sweet Ellie was held by everyone and not one tear. What an easy baby she is!

He pays a visit every year

She is my brother's only niece, and she loves it that way!

Jack, the oldest grandchild, plays peek-a-boo with the youngest, Ellie

The grandparents have 12 grandchildren from just 4 children!

Chelle has caught a little grief for this picture! Ha! What a ham!

Dad, Mom, Aunt Charlotte, and Mom's brother Uncle Jim

We couldn't get enough of the babies tonight. Ellie and Erynn stole our hearts.  Aunt Charlotte always has a fun Christmas party. It's laid back and relaxing and we get plenty of time to just enjoy one another.  So glad Aunt Charlotte is in good health this year.  Love this little group!

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Living gladly

 Dear Lydia Joy,
You teach me so much as we walk through our days together. This past fall one of the reminders that God has whispered through you is the sweet grace He has given us in hard work.  You and I, little sweet pea, are extremely goal-oriented.  It's fun to set a goal and work really hard to achieve it!
Your new friend from class
Proud Poppy
Here you are at your first gymnastics showcase. You took gymnastics when you were 4 and again at age 6. But you have never taken at a gym like this one.  There are serious gymnasts here! Starting in third grade at level 1 was humbling for you. You cried some big tears the first two lessons.  But the third class you looked at me with that gritty look and stated, "This is where God has placed me. I'm going to do my best and work hard." And that day was your New Day. Since then, I have not seen a moment of hesitation or embarrassment.  Good for you, pumpkin. Vanity and pride are for the birds!  Fix your eyes on Jesus and the task before you and leave the self-pity in the garbage. There is so much joy for the taking when you do!

You practice ALL.THE.TIME at home! You work so hard.  I love your fighting spirit.  We have talked a lot about doing everything the Lord gives you to do to your fullest.  And to love well.  These two things are very easy to apply in the gym.  And I am glad for what you are learning!

You have exclaimed over and over again that THIS is what you love to do. I am praying that you will give God every bit of the glory for your achievements. He has given you a strong body, big hopes, plenty of talent and determination, and a family who cheers for you and adores your every move. You are so blessed and loved. I pray you know it is all grace and enjoy your success because it is from your heavenly Father.  And when you fall short, I pray you will lean into Him, lament, and then find the strength in Jesus and who He has made you to be to keep on moving.  Life is SO amazing when you trust Him enough to take your disappointments in stride. It really is always okay.

I pray you will encourage and hug and love the other gymnasts well. May God even give you the love to truly want for them all that you want for yourself.  He has placed each person you see and speak with in your path on purpose. Look around and try to be a light, sweet girl. And I pray you will continue to be respectful and teachable with your instructor. She sees your love for learning and cooperation and it blesses her.
You have no idea the things you will use from gymnastics as a Mother and wife.  Every practice, every lesson will be used in future years.  I know from my years in the ballet studio. Your ability to fight through fatigue and pain, set goals, and work with other girls will be so valuable.

We are learning so much together, the five of us, this year.  Keep up the hard work, love! We are all behind you!

“If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.” 
John Piper from
Don't Waste Your Life