Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oh...the excitement plus going around the world on Christmas Day..

What a beautiful way to start the Christmas celebration at our church's Love Feast on Christmas Eve. The Love Feast is a Moravian tradition of serving hot apple cider and cinnamon buns. The service is filled with the singing of Christmas songs interspersed with the reading of the birth of Jesus. The above picture is the last song where we all hold candles and sing Silent Night.

Then we move on to Christmas morning where Brian and I come out, at 8a.m. and find3 little kids patiently waiting for the fun to begin.
It starts with breakfast and the tradition of getting "treat" cereal all wrapped up and waiting for them as their first gift. They love this!

Grandma's stockings come next, which she fills with the coolest things, and on to their presents. Love these facial expressions. Thanks Aunt Nar and Grandma and Grandpa for the awesome presents!

After being too full to move we had the joy of getting on Skype with dear friends who literally live half way around the world from us. It was an 8 hour time difference and so we were thankful that they kept their kids up to talk with our kids. After they were done we adults stayed on for over an hour catching up. The best was when Brian asked them if we could act like they were right in our own living room and just pray with them. I had to take a picture as this was my favorite Christmas present. While we were on with these friends, another friend living in Turkey was trying to skype us. We were sad to miss out on that talk, but we did touch base with Emily in England and that was wonderful!

I didn't catch a picture of everyone we were able to skype, but altogether we connected with friends and family in 3 different countries and we'll try our friends, in Turkey, hopefully soon.

Christmas night we let the kids watch the Nativity for the first time. In our modern times, we sure sweeten up Jesus's birth. The Nativity was so good for the kids to see a more realistic historical view of that time in history. The kids asked great questions, but Lindsey asked the most memorable one. While watching the birth (that isn't graphic) Lindsey asked all wide-eyed at the t.v. screen: "The doctors give you medicine for the pain now, don't they Mom?"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Have a blessed Christmas!!


Some things never change. :)

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In the Spirit of Giving....

As much as these kids are anxiously awaiting Christmas morning and the stockings full of goodies from Grandma and all the gifts from Aunt Nar and Grandma and Grandpa - I think they've equalling gotten into the joy of giving. This year we made moster cookies for Awana leaders, Sunday School teachers, neighbors, and choir teachers. The kids really love going and giving out these goodies.
A few nights ago we decided to surprise two special families with some cinnamon swirl bread.
The first family was Pastor George and his wife Nancy. Brian has the privilege of sharing "piano duties" at Providence with Nancy.
Pastor George is our missions Pastor and he goes an extra mile in everything he does. Lindsey is, in the picture below, showing all of the post cards that Pastor George has sent the kids from all parts of the world. He always writes to them that he is praying for them and he can't wait until they go on mission trips with him. Several times a year Brian will come home with some special candy from various countries that George has been to. To say the least....these kids love Pastor George and his wife Nancy.
The night we came over, Pastor George wasn't home, but he called us soon after and the kids loved his message. Lindsey already has plans to surprise him for Valentine's Day.
This second family is another dear family to us. Patti is another piano player whom Brian shares playing with. Patti and Bob have gotten to know our kids by giving them 'sleep over parties' at their house where they just get spoiled and spoiled. Brian and I like hanging out with this family, but of course we also enjoy when they take our kids and let us go out on our own.

We had such a great time surprising these special families and I love to see it when my kids get in the spirit of giving. Lindsey is SO into it that she wants to go up and down the rest of the neighborhood giving out monster cookies. I did say while I appreciate her giving spirit....I simply have no more desire to look at another moster cookie for at least 12 months. :)
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Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas treat.....

It seems to be that we've been celebrating Christmas since Thanksgiving. Well...who says it needs to be just one day out of the year. Last Weekend we had the special treat of Brian's sister, Sharla, here for a visit. This was Sharla's first time to actually be here during one of her brother's Christmas concerts, so that was nice that she was able to see one while she was here.
Here are some pictures of the kids and Aunt Sharla opening presents.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

I marvel.....

I sit here tonight simply in awe of the Lord and His care for me. Yes, I have shelter, I have food and I have clothing.......yet He desired to show me that He cares for even the little things in our lives. Today He wanted to show me that He is in the little details of my life as much as He is in the big details of my life. He also wanted me to simply laugh out loud with humorous joy.

Yesterday I was at Target, my second home lately, and Brian asks me to look for cheap, thin, wire hangers as he has a project he would like to attempt. (I'll let him blog about that if it comes to fruition.). I look at all the possible hangers and call him back to say that most are the thick plastic and even the cheaper ones had a thick plastic coating on them. I have no other idea where else to get the thin wire hangers except to ask a dry cleaning service if they would be willing to sell some. Lindsey and I decide to go out and race each other around the neighborhood. Several blocks away, at the end of a drive way by a mail box, what do I discover but several cheap, thin, wire hangers. This is not garbage day and nothing else is sitting out except for these. I was in awe and it just bubbled forth in laughter. Unfortunately Lindsey is quite competitive and we were in quite a run at the time so I wasn't able to pick them up. Later I was taking the boys to a birthday party and stopped to get them. (Very funny, too, in that Austin was shocked I would get out and steal something from someone's property. So I had to explain how the world works with that one and how he didn't need to report me to any authorities.)

I was tempted to wrap them up for Brian for Christmas, but didn't want him making a trip to the dry cleaners. He got a good laugh out of this as well.

I know so many people approach this week with a lot of stress: financial stress, family stress, etc. I just wanted to share how God is truly in every single detail of our lives and how much He cares.

I love Matthew 6: 25-27:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

God loves us more than we can even imagine. He is in the big details and little details of our lives. I marvel......
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Four Years Ago.....

Lately I've been having dreams about some Ohio friends. This tends to happen to me this time of year, so I thought if I blogged about it maybe the crazy dreams would stop. :) We'll see...

It was four years ago this time of year that we made the decision to move down to Raleigh. It actually started at midnight one August night when I was asking Brian if he was happy in his work and if he wanted to pursue more education or not. He said that he was happy at our Ohio church and he didn't want to purposely go out, on his own, and pursue anything else because he told me that God always put us where He wanted us. So, with that 'reevaluation conversation' done we went to bed and started a usual day of Brian off to work and me at home with the kids.
By mid-morning I get a call from Brian. He says: "You'll never guess what happened." Me at home, with three little kids, was not exactly in the mood for guessing games. Brian says: "Eric Hamsho called and wants to know if I would consider a job down in Raleigh, N.C."
I said, "That's really not funny Brian. I really don't have time for jokes right now." (You know -- the three little kids thing. Diapers, laundry, dishes, etc.)
Brian: "I'm not kidding. I'm in my car in the church parking lot right now because I can't have this phone conversation inside. Eric must think I'm crazy cause I couldn't talk to him and had to say that I'd get back to him on that music chart."
The story goes on about us visiting them in October and Brian going back in November with no one knowing what was going on. One time he got off the plane in Akron, from Raleigh, and went right to work at 8a.m. from the airport.

It was truly the hardest decision of our lives. Some of our talks went like this: (me) "I can't talk about this right now. I can't even breathe."

On a trip to Iowa, for Thanksgiving, we decided that the Lord was clearly leading this decision to move and that is when Brian accepted the job. We told three close couples of our decision. First time I ever had an exploding headache and felt like I would throw up all at the same time. (Yes....lovely memories.) Then in the middle of one of the Christmas concerts he met with the worship and rythmn players to tell them of this decision.

We decided to take advantage of every single moment until we left mid-January to spend with friends as much as we could. The last two weeks came down to eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with people and packing in between. It worked out because I wasn't sleeping so I would pack from 3-5 each morning and then sleep til the kids got up. All these get togethers kind of felt like you were alive at your own funeral. Everyone says things they never say on a regular basis. It was fun and intense all at the same time. The pictures, below, are of three Christmas/farewell parties all in one week. My prayer, on the way to these, were always: "Lord just help me keep it together." Brian's last time playing at The Chapel was Sunday Christmas morning.
The last night in Ohio I was still out at midnight with a friend, so I had Brian drive the van down to Raleigh with me following in the car. After a diet Mountain Dew and a no doze I was flying pretty high by 10a.m. while the kids were safe with Brian. And here we are four years later.
This first picture is our annual worship team and rythmn section Christmas party. It's a reminder every year of all the pretty Christmas decorations, I put out, so many are from this group. (They gave Brian other gifts. It was just so sweet of them to think of me too.)
This picture is the music staff's Christmas/farewell party.
Our Ohio church went to two locations and these are ladies that Brian worked with that stayed at the other church building. These ladies spent the evening grilling us about this decision and, by the end of the evening, said they clearly saw God's leading and understood
that this was from the Lord. Brian always called these ladies - "My girls".

Here's my "Ohio twin" and I out ice skating in downtown Akron during the last two weeks we were there. more crazy Ohio dreams!
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Craft Party..

Last weekend the kids and I joined our homeschool group for a Christmas Craft Party. All the kids were put in their own age groups and went around to 6 different stations including a snack station. It was beautifully organized and many stations had gift wrap included so the kids could wrap up their crafts for presents. I think Austin was relieved to see that they weren't little "cutsie" preschool crafts cause he and his siblings are SO too mature for that. :)
I double booked myself that morning and had a party to go to at my neighbor's house. So Brian came to take over half way through. Before coming, he did confirm with me that he wouldn't have to do any 'crafty' things. :) I had to promise him that he only had to supervise so I could get off to my neighbor's on time.
Lindsey's favorite part was hanging out with some girlfriends that day. All these girls are also in Awanas together and it's a really sweet group of gals.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A gifted Pastor....

I've always enjoyed hearing Pastor Joel speak at our church and I consider him a very gifted teacher. But this past weekend proved that he has many other gifts as well. For his wife's (Kimberly) birthday Joel prepared a wonderful dinner, with Kimberly's favorite foods, for her close friends. It was amazing. He had even made homemade poppy seed dressing for our salads. Kimberly has a sweet tooth so there was an entire table devoted to her favorite sweets as well.

When we sat down to eat, Kimberly had told us that she had awoken at 3 a.m. mentally planning what she would say to us on her birthday. Yes.....on HER birthday she went around and told us each what we meant to her. Us ladies felt SO spoiled, but that is exactly what Kimberly wanted for her birthday.

Kimberly was one of the very first ladies that I had gotten to know when we moved here 4 years ago. Life gets busy, but we plan a monthly get together --usually for lunch -- that often times gets close to supper time before we part ways. We also have some "workout get togethers" at the Y to talk on our treadmills or join in on a muscle class. The things I cherish the most are when we set aside time to just pray for each other. Kimberly is a mighty prayer warrior.

It is actually Kimberly's birthday today and I am praying that my dear friend has a sweet day!

Oh......and yes it's true......this post is a "hint, hint" to my wonderful husband who spoils me too and is always looking for new ideas. :)

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

"little female"

Tonight Austin and Reece are at an overnight birthday party, Brian is out with a college buddy -- so Lindsey and I decided that we needed to go out for some "girl time". The problem was telling Lindsey about our girl's night a few days ago. I told Lindsey she'd be able to pick what we did for the evening and she changed her mind right up until 15 minutes before we left to go out.

Let's's a little bit of what she decided we should do: Jelly Beans Roller Skating, Jumping Beans Inflatables, Chuckie Cheese, go out to a movie, etc. I finally had to tell her that she needed to settle on something because it might very well determine what clothes I would wear. Here is what she decided to do. Go to the mall and eat McDonalds. After all those other choices -- that is what she picked. I think the thing she really loved the most was talking non-stop during our meal. After that she was SO happy to ride the escalater, throw a penny in the fountain and make a wish, and walk hand in hand looking at all the Christmas decorations. When she is a teenager, and the escalater no longer thrills her, but things that cost big bucks do, we'll ban the mall for those years. :)
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