Thursday, December 31, 2009

the difference of a decade

2010...seriously? where have the first ten years of the 21st century gone? at moments it seems like 10 years have flown by...but when i really take time to reflect, it is unbelievable to think of all the major life milestones packed into those ten years.

milestones like college first "real" salaried, benefit providing job...buying my very first "house" (a condo really)...marriage...selling a condo and buying a house--a real, honest to goodness, adults live here, four bedroom two-story house(!)--you know, the kind with room to grow and a yard for the kiddos to play birth to not one, not two, but three (!) daughters. wow...that was a packed decade!

i remember ringing in the beginning of this decade. i'd made a last minute decision to attend campus crusade's Christmas conference. this was actually pretty bizarre in retrospect...since my college didn't have campus crusade, and i only truly knew two other people who were headed to the conference. funny how God is at work in the "bizarre"....or perhaps amazing and life-changing is a better description than "funny". i headed to the conference after a random meeting that re-connected me with my dear childhood friend, lora, who i hadn't kept in touch with very well since starting college three years before. lora...who is one of my most treasured friends to this day, a friend i have known almost from birth...again, amazing how God uses random.

but i digress. it was at that Christmas conference that i made the decision to completely change my student teaching destination. all along i'd been planning to return to my hometown--which was just an hour or so from my college (i had ALWAYS been a homebody...and NEVER planned to venture further from home). instead i decided to go an hour south for student with one of the gals i met at Christmas conference...connect with campus crusade at her university. it was a crazy decision...and my student teaching supervisor told me it would be next to impossible to get a student teaching placement in that town with that late of notice. ha! i was placed within two weeks...and have lived here ever since. this is where i connected with my current church and joined their "twenty-something" ministry...which is, incidentally, where i met my husband. see...isn't it amazing how God works through what we might think are "small" and "random" decisions.

a decade ago i was a college student...struggling with what i really wanted to major in. as a junior it was a bit late to turn back from my English education track and pursue something else...but nonetheless, i didn't really know that i wanted to teach. i remember my mom asking me, "what do you really want to do...if you could do anything?" my response..."i want to be a wife and a do laundry and all that stuff." (see...i'm living my dream...except that doing laundry for three children isn't nearly as glorious as it sounded...) a decade ago that "dream" seemed so far off...i struggled with so many doubts (sinful doubts, since i wasn't trusting God with my future or dreams)...would i ever meet that man....would God fulfill the longing in my heart of having my own children...

and i am. one day i was moving into my condo--planning to live there with my best friend as a roomie, not even the remotest idea of dating someone in the near future, choosing to simply treasure where God had me....and then six hours later i'm having a conversation with the man i would end up Michael. funny how things work. (and yes, that six hours later is quite literal...and while i had known Michael through Sunday school for awhile, neither of us had a "romantic" interest in one another...and both of us would tell you that it was quite a surprise when God opened our eyes to one another...and both would tell you that it did, in fact, happen that night...after just a few hours of conversation...but that, my friends, is another story, for another day (and a really long, grammatical train wreck, of a sentence). one moment i was marrying Michael...and now, here we are...with three incredible daughters. within the span of a decade i've gone from junior in college to mini-van mama. its been a wild ride.

and that is just the physical realm. i can't even begin to express where God has taken me spiritually over the course of the past decade. i can tell you that many times it hasn't been pretty. He has taken me through seasons of pain and heartache over friendship...a season i remember vividly...a season that i NOW can see as instrumental in preparing me for my husband...a season that cultivated contentment in my heart. He has taken me through seasons of joy and blessing. He has allowed me to go through seasons of doubting and struggling. He has taught me that marriage truly is NOT for happiness (though He is so kind to allow that to be a by-product!) but for holiness. He has walked with me through seasons of sorrow and all the while revealed His incredible faithfulness and mercies. He has always provided. He has always been there. He is...after all...the great I AM.

and that, my friends, is the difference of a decade. here is my prayer for the next decade. oh that the Lord would help me to look back and remember His faithfulness in this past cast ALL my anxieties on Him because HE CARES FOR ME. oh that i would remember that even in the "uncertain" moments that are sure to come, He IS. oh that He would help me to hold is bound to be a wild ride...after all, in the span of a decade i'll go from having a newborn, 2 and 14 year old to having a 10, 12, and 14 year old...there are bound to be some "bumps" along the way! oh that i would end the next decade walking more closely with Him than when i start it tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

singing happy birthday to Jesus. we had an extremely tasty white chocoloate, peppermint cheesecake for Jesus's birthday cake this year. thanks mom!

...and the girls came up with their rousing merry christmas song while patiently waiting for poppy to wake up and GG and grandmommy to come home for present opening!

"Boz Lightyour"

libbers delight...

Christmas 2009....a whole lotta' smiles...

MERRY CHRISTMAS! okay, the bloggity wishes are a bit belated...perhaps it would be more appropriate to say HAPPY NEW YEAR!

we enjoyed a delightful Christmas...filled with laughter and family and joy and memories to cherish (the only thing missing was my sister and richard...but at least we got to see y'all via webcam!). it wasn't exactly a "white"...more like rainy....Christmas, but it was sandwiched by a snowy Christmas eve and a snowy day after Christmas. while we were sad to leave my parents Saturday night to head home, we were thankful to be home Sunday...especially when the snow just kept coming down...providing for lots of fun snow play Sunday afternoon!

it is hard to believe Christmas has already come and gone. but i must say, we enjoyed many a special moment, continued traditions, and perhaps even created a few new ones over the past month. what a blessed season...longing for and anticipating the birthday of our Savior, enjoying celebrations with precious family members, giving good gifts to each other...blessings abound!

we were blessed to spend Christmas with my parents and grandma (GG)...and lots of other family as well. so many smiles and memories...i am hoping to post some videos of a few little moments later. but for now, i will just let the pictures do the talking.

we started the celebrating with a trip to see my grandma j on Christmas eve day. what a treasure to see my girls with their great grandmas. honestly, this Christmas i was so struck with the joy of my daughters...savoring their excitement and delight in all the little moments.

libbers, me, and grandma j

the girls with great grandma and her snowman the girls helped make

libs and kate were eager helpers when it came to gift opening

according to grandma j, getting to see the girls open their presents from her was gift enough...

that said, i think holding jillian might have been the icing on the cake!

then we headed back to my parents. unfortunately the roads were horribly icy, so we decided it wasn't the wisest idea to head back out to Christmas eve service. we did, however, enjoy some good time at home.

the girls opened their stocking to find their matching Christmas PJs...
of course, elizabeth decided she didn't really want to wear them, and i'll admit, i had a moment of sadness, because really while i had been sewing them i was just imagining the girls delighted excitement when they got them on Christmas eve. alas, i didn't fight her and let her wear other PJs to bed, and to my delight, on Christmas morning she was eager to put on her special jammies as soon as she woke up!

mommy and libs (who did don the PJs for a bit on Christmas eve) reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas....kate was awol during the reading, running around, all hopped up on sugary cookies or something! :)

Christmas morning brought eager little girlies while we waited for grandmommy to arrive home (after working from midnight to 8 am that night/morning) with GG. once they did arrive two little girls were quite ready to check out the tree...and one tiny girl didn't know enough yet to be excited, but she did smile a lot!
Align Center

GG and jillian on Christmas morning...what a gift to spend Christmas morning with my grandma!

...and after the packages were opened the girls checked out their new toys and we squeezed in a video chat with michelle and richard via skype...

can you see mike snoozing in the background...all the chaos tuckered all of us out!

this is my favorite present to elizabeth (in fact, she spent the last 1 1/2 hours creating a mosaic while i've blogged and her sisters are sleeping!) is a magnet mosaic where you match the foam colored cubes to numbers. she really enjoys it. can you see her "favorite" present in the lightyear (or, as she calls him..."boz lightyour"). he has gone EVERYWHERE with her the past few days...i mean EVERYWHERE! he was the one thing she asked for for Christmas, telling us, "all i want for Christmas is a boz lightyour!" can i tell you how much it delighted mike's and my heart to watch her open see the pure delight in receiving a gift she asked for...makes me think of the Bible when it says, "which of you if your son asks for bread will give him a stone." just as we delight in giving good gifts to our children, God delights in giving us good gifts...the most amazing gift of all...salvation. and friends, He delights in watching us receive his gifts...just as we delight in giving to our children.

the day after Christmas my Aunt Cak and Uncle Pat and cousins Matt and Mike came over. we made homemade pasta with the pasta maker...the girls really enjoyed helping...and, oh my, it was a tasty meal!

we capped off the weekend by decorating a gingerbread fun! and then we hit the road, headed for home...but what a wonderful weekend we enjoyed!

and yes...i think as many decorations ended up in little mouths as did on the house!

mom and dad (aka grandmommy and poppy!) thank you for sharing in Christmas...what a rich blessing. we love you SO much!

Monday, December 21, 2009

december in pictures

what have we been doing? well...its been a full month already...i haven't taken much time to here is the month in pictures ( least the past couple of weeks!).

i've been sewing little "somethings" here and there....

we enjoyed a tasty "Thanks-mas" dinner with our flock group!

the girls have had LOTS of Christmas tree sandwiches (and bells...and snowmen...and...and...)

see...we're smiling! (actually...this is more of a laugh)

spending time with friends...this time we were cutting out dough ornaments!

rolling out sugar cookie dough...

...and cutting out the cookies (and frosting and eating them...)

someone might have found her thumb...which mommy might have promptly removed (after taking a pic, of course!) and replaced with a paci...because we just might be fighting a "stop sucking your thumb" battle with a "not to be named" two year old at the moment...ugh!

and did i mention smiling....and growing WAY.TOO.QUICKLY! she will be four months on Christmas eve...what in the world!


...followed by crying. no, seriously...i feel like this picture perfectly captures life...for real! love my little kater gator...but man, oh man, she can go from CRAZY happy giggles to CRAZY meltdown in a matter of no time. (this group shot below and the solo shot of kate above were taken within 5 minutes of each other)

making a huge mess of scrapping material while creating muffin tin advent calendars with some fabulous friends...they'll obviously be using theirs next year...we have been enjoying ours this year...and i'm planning to make some to add to my etsy shop or sell to some friends.

standing on the porch in the snow...about ten seconds before the drama tears broke out. someone didn't really dig the snow...

...but someone else REALLY enjoyed the snow...making angels...

...building a teeny, tiny, mini snowman

dressed up in their Christmas "finery"...are you wondering where kate is in this picture?

...oh...there she is!

the best we could capture!

sissy kisses!

with some help from my little elves (err...girls) i've been making some snowmen. thanks for the inspiration jill and carrie!

lovin' on this little goomba...i knit her little hat this past weekend...and, oh my, i can't enough of a baby in a hat. yum!

...and making crock-pot playdoh...and chocolate covered pretzels (oi...messy with little fingers)...enjoying our advent devotional calendar....wrapping, wrapping, wrapping (its all wrapped and ready to go--hooray!)...looking forward to heading to the lake thursday morning. it has been a great month so far...not without its share of tantrums or trials...but we've sure had fun!

now i should get myself around and ready. the girls and i are going to make some little treats, and then i am headed to a tea room with the lovely ladies of my flock group...while a few of the men of the flock group watch all of our many, many small children...14 kiddos represented by 4 one on the mission field and one in a mama's belly...oh my!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

who is who?

our three girls at right around 3 1/2 months. actually...elizabeth is a wee bit older...more like 4 1/2 months in her version. can you figure out who is who?

eating the monkey of the three didn't have a smiling and eating monkey picture...but what she is holding should give you a BIG hint!