Monday, December 22, 2008
Saturday was rounded out by a visit to our favorite Christmas lights display and a tour of a live nativity. It was awesome!
Today we are off to visit friends at the nursing home, do some more caroling, and hopefully see some more lights.
Tomorrow will find us at the hospital for Tommy's shoulder surgery. God has given my heart a peace about it that I have not had prior to now. I know Tommy is going to be fine and this surgery will be a success. I do appreciate all of your prayers for him.
This Christmas season has been different for my home than most years, but it has still been so blessed. God has opened my heart and revealed more to me during this season than I can possibly explain in this post. Here's a little though....
I've had the joy of having a son born at Christmas but have also experienced the loss of a child at Easter. This is the first year that I have stopped and realized the bitter sweetness of having had both experiences. I have a whole new appreciation for Mary, but I also have a new appreciation for EMMANUEL. Christmas didn't stop at the manger or the cross. It goes on forever because through everything we face He is Emmanuel...God with us! Tomorrow He will be in surgery with my husband guiding his doctors and nurses, but He will also be in a waiting room with me offering comfort and hope. He is my wonderful counselor, my mighty God, my PRINCE OF PEACE. He is my ever present help in times of trouble. He is my strong tower and my refuge. Through every situation I face He is EMMANUEL...GOD WITH ME!!
Friday, December 19, 2008
This past week I have felt stressed to my limit more than once. I worried about my two year old relapsing although, praise God, when we had his re-check following his bout with croup, not only were we given the "all clear" but his breathing had returned to normal and he was not frightened to be back around doctors. I also was concerned about six year old. Again, God showed up. Isaac's heart exams came back within normal ranges. He does have a small murmur and a valve leakage, but nothing serious that he will not out grow. I am still anxious about my husband's surgery. Yes, I realize that it is on his shoulder... not his heart or brain... but I still really, really do not like the thought of him being put to sleep and cut on. I am very protective of my family, and I hate being in a situation where I feel like I can't protect them. And now I have a head cold. What a week!
Yet through this time God has reminded me again and again that He is faithful. He showed up with Connor's croup and then He touched my Isaac's heart, and He has Tommy in the palm of His hand also. You see, Jesus did come as a baby in a manger, but He didn't stay there. Right now in my life and in every circumstance that you are facing too, He is Emmanuel - God with us!!
This Christmas doesn't have to be the "perfect" day that I want it to be or imagine it could be. The important part is knowing that Jesus came into this world to save us from our sin. He came in the most humblest way possible to make Him accessible to even the lowest of people. This Christmas I will have my husband and children together with me. We will celebrate the birth of our King. Everything else is just glitter. For this year we can do with a little less.
For this Then Sings My Soul Saturday I want to share: "Happy Birthday, Jesus". It is all about YOU!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
("Happy Birthday, Dear Jaden...")
Jaden was so surprised and had so much fun. After his surprise party, we headed to Nana's where he opened gifts from her and Poppa. Then it was home at last where he opened the last of his presents.
A tradition around our parts includes people pinning money to the birthday boy's shirt. Yesterday morning when Jaden and his dad stopped in to see his friend, Mrs. Nina, she was the first to pin Jaden. A couple of folks from the dentist office and even some strangers at Wal-Mart followed suit. By the end of the day he'd received enough money to buy himself a couple of Webkinz. (He and Isaac are having a contest to see who can get the most.) We'll head to the store later today in search of the coveted prize.
He ended up having a great day. It was made special by some good friends, great family, and even a couple of strangers. I pray God blesses each person who was involved in touching Jaden's heart!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
This year the month has been over shadowed by my husband's impending shoulder surgery. He is scheduled for the operation two days before Christmas and will be off work for six to eight weeks following. We've had to make plans to have bills paid in advance, how we will manage the kids while he's in surgery and after he's come home. The kids are a bit anxious as well as the thought of their dad going "under the knife" is overwhelming to their young minds. To make for an even more chaotic state of mind my six year old son, Isaac, has been again complaining of chest pains. Earlier this week during an office visit with our doctor a heart murmur was detected. That led to a day of EKG's, echocardiogram, and chest x-rays. There appears to be a leakage in a couple of his heart valves, but we've yet to learn all of the results. We'll have to do the echocardiogram again next week as the machine was not working properly during our appointment.
And if that weren't enough....
Last night right after midnight my ten year old daughter began knocking on my bedroom door somewhat frantically. We jumped out of bed only to be informed that her two year old brother had awaken her screaming followed by a fit of coughing that he couldn't get over. We grabbed him from his bed as he began vomiting from the force of his coughs. As he gasped for air, we quickly threw clothes on and ran for the hospital. My mom lives between here and there so we dropped the three big kids off on our way. I've never seen people in the ER move so fast. Within five minutes of our arrival, Connor was getting a breathing treatment and an IV line. He was given steroids to reduce the swelling in his throat and an epinephrine shot to return his breathing to normal. He was monitored for a couple of hours and then sent home as they feared admitting him to our very small hospital would only expose him to worse respiratory illnesses. We were given an antibiotic to give him over the next several days and orders that if he worsened to take him to the next town over where he could get more extensive treatment. We are suppose to return to our doctor Monday morning to make sure whatever has caused this has past. Monday is also my son, Jaden's eight birthday. He and Isaac have a dentist appointment that morning, and we have a surprise party planned for him that afternoon.
It would be less than completely honest to not admit that I'm feeling more than a little overwhelmed. But through it all, I am trusting God. He is building my faith in Him in each situation. Several of the blogs I've written lately have included the scripture from Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." That seems to be what He is stressing to me during this season of my life. I am also reminded "not to be anxious for anything but in everything with prayer and petition to submit my request to God. Then the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus!" Thank you, Father!!!
Christmas is less than two weeks away. We know these two weeks will be filled with doctor and hospital visits (which is likely to be accompanied with a little stress a long the way). But I am also assured these few weeks will be filled the comfort, joy, hope, and peace as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.
Today I'm slowing down. I'm enjoying being confined to my home with my family. We're going to sit by the Christmas tree, sip hot chocolate, watch Christmas movies, sing some carols, and read from The Christmas Carol. I'm going to enjoy my children's smiles and laughs and rest confident that God is faithful and is going to work all of these things for the good of my family.
For this THEN SINGS MY SOUL SATURDAY I want to share "Christmas Like a Child" by Third Day. Take a listen...
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
By now you've probably guessed but in case you haven't, yesterday was my thirty-second birthday.
It was a wonderful day. I was awaken early by my children with pictures they had colored for me to welcome my special day. Hubby took Jaden and Isaac to their speech session and when they returned they brought me brightly colored stickers that read, "Happy Birthday!" That was such a grand gesture as they gave up getting stickers for themselves as their reward for doing well to ask for birthday stickers for me! I wore them proudly all day.
While I was at my mom's office helping her out, my "precious" friend, Sidney, stopped by to bring me a cake she had baked along with a Precious Moments Christmas book. It was a wonderful surprise!
After we finished up at my mom's office, she and I met Tommy and the kids at her house to celebrate my day. Momma made me her world famous "Mary Burgers". They were delicious! Then it was time to open my gifts.
Hubby and the kids have complained recently that they are never allowed to go shopping without me to choose special gifts for me. So I gladly sent them on their way while I was at my mom's office. I was so delighted by their choices. Dacey and Jaden put their money in together and bought me a beautiful locket that has a rose and "MOM" engraved on it. I was surprised by my reaction... it brought me to tears. Isaac and Connor leaned towards the more whimsical side and chose a smores/hot chocolate set for me complete with snowman mugs. They know how their mommy loves her hot chocolate!! My mom got me a Mickey Mouse jacket, a beautiful purple shirt, a incense burner, and a Precious Moments Cinderella holding a toy Mickey Mouse figurine. Since I have been able to go to Disney World and the Precious Moments Cathedral this past year, it was the perfect gift to commemorate both. Tommy surprised me with a beautiful cross with John 3:16 printed on it and the most wonderful smelling candle I've ever had the pleasure of smelling. The scent is called "love spell" and it certainly put me under a spell... man, is it a heavenly aroma!
My day was finished off with the wonderful red velvet cake with cream cheese icing that Sidney had baked for us. It was out of this world good! Sidney is such a special friend, and I am so thankful for her!
So this morning when I found that Alicia at Confessions of a Snowflake had given me my first blog award, it felt like an extra birthday surprise. Thank you, Alicia! I have enjoyed reading your blog so much. It is an encouragement and an inspiration! May God bless you richly, my friend!
God has been so good to me. Each year that has gone by I've appreciated Him and all that He has blessed me with more and more. He has given me a loving family who I love and adore and who love and adore me right back. He has provided me with friends who care about me and are there to laugh with me and cry with me. He has allowed me to be part of a church family where my children are thriving and we are all learning to be more like Him. Life hasn't always been easy, but through everything God has proved to me that He will never leave me or forsake me. He loves me with an unconditional love and accepts me just as I am.
I am so blessed.
Alicia, again I want to say thank you! You've really touched my heart today. Folks, if you want to read a transparent, uplifting, and encouraging blog, check out Alicia's Confessions of a Snowflake. You'll be blessed!
This award represents this:"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find, and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers."
And now I am supposed to pass it on to 8 bloggers!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
This CHRISTmas season has already been off to a busy start in our home. The tree has been decorated. Lights have been hung. Songs are being sung. We watched two parades and our hometown's annual CHRISTmas tree lighting all in the same day. I love the busyness of the season - all of the things there are to see and do, but more than anything I love spending time celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Last night my daughter, Dacey, and I were able to do both as we enjoyed a ladies CHRISTmas tea at our church. It was a fun night with carols and games and lots of good food, but the best part came at the end when our pastor's wife shared the story of CHRISTmas from Luke chapter 2. She spoke of Mary and questioned what was it that God saw in Mary that made Him choose her to carry HIS SON of all of the other women in the world. What made Mary different from me? I have identified with Mary on different levels in the past, but Pastor Teresa's words last night brought to mind many things I have pondered on ever since.
It was ten days before CHRISTmas in 2000 that my son, Jaden, bounced into this world! Can I tell you that he was the BEST CHRISTmas present that I have ever received? During the last several weeks of my pregnancy as I was "very heavy with child", I thought of Mary often. I imagined what it was like to travel at that stage of her pregnancy. She didn't ride in a heated car but in the cold on the back of a donkey. She didn't give birth to him in a pregnancy suite with family and friends awaiting his arrival but rather in a stable with the smells and sounds of farm animals.
It was just six days before Easter in 2004 that I laid in a hospital bed hemorraging after the loss of my sweet Layna Grace. I was hurt, confused, and angry. It was in that state that I asked God why He'd given me the promise of a child only to take her from me before I'd even held her in my arms. Again, He reminded me of Mary.
My mind turned towards the cross. Mary watched her son- her promise- crucified at the hands of the very people he'd been sent to save. Surely she wondered what had gone wrong that He was taken from her in such a way. She must have felt hurt, confused, and maybe even angry. Yet Mary didn't know that on the other side of that dark and dreary grave on the Friday Jesus was buried would be the Sunday when the stone would be rolled away and her son would live again! These thoughts comforted my heart as God showed me that I couldn't see the extent of His plan in the loss of my child, but He does indeed have a plan!
Christmas is just nineteen days away. During this time of celebrating Jesus' birth, may our focus remain on Him and all that He came to give us. On this "Then Sings My Soul Saturday" I have chosen the song "Mary Did You Know".
God knew. - For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Sunday, November 30, 2008
My heart was filled with such joy as I stuffed my shopping cart to overflowing late last week with CHRISTmas gifts for my children. I wanted to get most of my shopping done in one quick trip and I am proud to say, "I SUCCEEDED!"
I came home and went through the gifts. I was delighted by my selections for each of my children knowing how much they would appreciate the choices I'd made. I was so excited that it was hard to hide them away until CHRISTmas day, but I knew the effect would not be the same if I gave them their gifts earlier than intended.
It was in those few minutes of reflection that it hit me how the same is true of our Heavenly Father. He delights in blessing His children. He sits on His throne watching us thinking, "That's my girl!" He's a proud daddy and loves watching our faces light up to the many gifts He gives us. He wants only what is best for us, but sometimes we have to wait for the best appropriate time to receive His gifts. He can't give us everything at once or it won't have the same effect for which it was intended. He says, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
Sometimes God's gifts for us are obvious: a new life to celebrate, a promotion, restored health. But most of the time His gifts are in the simple things we often take for granted: a smile from a stranger, fall leaves, laughter. James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
This CHRISTmas season instead of getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of things may we all take time to reflect on the many gifts God has placed into each of our lives.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Also, share a Scripture verse for this week!
There is a Veggie Tales song that says, "a thankful heart is a happy heart." It's so true. Regardless of what you have or don't have, if you are really thankful for the things you have been blessed with you will have a happy heart.
Sometimes I feel as though my heart is overflowing with gratefulness. God has been so good to me.
Here are just a very few things that HE has given me for which I am so very thankful:
1. Salvation..... I have three sons and can't imagine sacrificing any of them for anyone let alone mankind who so often spits in His face. Yet God did. Thank you, Father!
2. Jesus... Thank you for loving me enough to go to the cross for me.
3. The Holy Spirit - my comfort and my friend
4. My husband - my best friend, my soul mate, and the half that makes me whole.
5. My daughter, Dacey - you have the biggest heart of anyone I know. I'm so proud of you!
6. My son, Jaden - you can always make me smile. You'll never know how thankful I am for you.
7. My son, Isaac - you give the best hugs! I love your caring personality and how you try to help everyone.
8. My son, Connor - you've brought me such joy! I am so thankful God sent you to us.
9. My parents - for better or worse you've seen me through almost 32 years and I'm thankful for you!
10. Our pets - I am thankful for the companionship and comfort they give.
11. Our church - I am thankful for being in a church where my whole family is taught the Word and how to apply it in our lives. Our pastors and our church family, we love you!
12. Our house - yes, I often complain about the old, drafty thing, but I am thankful that we have shelter and a place that is "home".
13. Tommy's job - they have been good to us through the years and I'm appreciative for that.
14. MY FRIENDS - they have seen me through so much and loved me through it all! I love them like family!
15. My van - it's paid for... HALLELUJAH!
16. Music and my family's love for it - It has brought me such joy in recent months to watch my children begin to have a sincere appreciating and love for music. Watch out, Jo Bros! The Siv Kids are hot on your trail!!
17. Blogs - I love writing and sharing, and I love reading from other peoples hearts. It's therapeutic!
18. The USA - she is still my home and I am still proud of her!
19. A CHRISTIAN heritage that was passed on to me that I can pass on to generations to come!
20. Chocolate - what more needs to be said?
21. Nature - I love flowers, the colors of the rainbow and the sky. I am thankful that God shared His masterful artists skills with us!
22. Children's laughter - it has gotten me through many days!
23. Girls night out! I enjoy spending time with Dacey and am thankful for a husband that allows me to go and entertains the boys while we're away.
24. My children's friends - I am blessed by the kids God has put in our children's lives! They all share a strong love for Christ and are growing together in that.
25. CHRISTmas!!!! I CAN'T WAIT FOR CHRISTmas!!!
26. Our pet therapy ministry - I am so thankful that God has enabled us to share on the level we are able to while being blessed so much ourselves!
27. HIDDEN MICKEY'S !!! You'll have to check out my daughter's blog to understand that one better: SouthernJewel4Jesus.
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. Psalm 30:11-12
Saturday, November 22, 2008
This song is called "Sometimes CHRISTmas Makes Me Cry." It is performed by Mandisa and Matthew West. It is a beautiful song. I hope you enjoy it!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I use to be a very particular person. Everything had to be a very specific way, organized, in order, and proper. The least little deviation from my plan made me uncomfortable, unsettled and ultimately unhappy. That was life before I became the mother of four kids.
One of the joys of having four, small children is the unexpected. One of the first things I learned early on is that the best laid plans do not usually go as one would always hope. I can remember planning birthday parties and CHRISTmas's when Dacey was very young and having such high hopes for perfection that I was almost always disappointed when something would go different than I'd wanted it. I remember the kids wanting to play outside but being in good clothes, so I couldn't just let go and let them be kids. They had to look nice for what might happen later. Ten years later I have finally gotten over myself. I have learned that it is the unexpected that most often makes for the happiest moments and best shared memories.
As I've mentioned before, earlier this year when we went to Disney World, Isaac made it a point to be kissed by each of the Disney Princesses. Jaden, on the other hand, had a much different idea of the kisses offered. "THEY HAVE COOTIES!" or "THAT'S GROSS!," he'd proclaim. So as it happened on our last full day at Disney World when Isaac was kissed by Belle, Jaden became totally grossed out. He was quick to wipe the lip prints from Isaac's face using his own shirt to accomplish his purpose. In doing so he left a great big stain on the shirt that he was wearing! We teased Jaden afterwards that he just wanted that kiss for himself.
I have had other stains in my life. Stains that did not create such good memories. I'm talking about the sins that separated me from God. Of all the things in my life that I am thankful for, I am most thankful for Jesus washing my stains away.
Thank you, Father, for loving me enough to wash away all my sins. Thank you for maturing me as the years have gone by and helping me to be able to see the happy memories in the stains instead of the mistakes. Thank you for sending Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. Amen.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tommy is the best husband I could have ever dreamed of or asked for. Yet he is pretty goofy sometimes... which is just one more thing I love about him!
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a
My beloved is mine, and I am his. Song of Solomon 2:16
Place me like a seal over your heart,like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. Song of Solomon 8:6-7a
Monday, November 17, 2008
Here they are worshipping during the concert:
Jaden got a set of drum sticks and even got them autographed by the band:
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Yes, it's a bit early still, but if you know me, you know how much I LOVE CHRISTmas!! As a matter of fact my Dear God ornament for this year says, "Dear God, I JUST LOVE CHRISTMAS!" My anniversary is tomorrow and then will come Thanksgiving, my birthday, Jaden's birthday, Jesus's birthday, and finish up with Tommy's birthday two days after Christmas! So this is a very busy, exciting, fun and happy time of year at my house. Or as I like to sing, "Tis the season to be broke...fa la la la la..."
I just can't wait until CHRISTmas!
1.Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper. What's the fun of pulling something out of a bag for a kid? Each of our children have their own wrapping paper so they can quickly spot each of their gifts under the tree. I'm sure this year all the wrapping paper will be Disney themed.
2.Real tree or Artificial?
I prefer real, but until the kids are bit older I'll stick with artificial!
3.When do you put up the tree?
the day after Thanksgiving
4. When do you take the tree down?
New Year's Day
5. Do you like eggnog?
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Cabbage Patch Kid
7. Hardest person to buy for?
this year it is Dacey... she has announced that she is too old for toys, but is still too young for make-up and clothes... I have no idea what I'm going to get her!
8. Easiest person to buy for?
Isaac... he'll just take one of everything, thank you very much!
9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, it is rather small, but I bought it one of the first Christmas's after Tommy and I were married and I still put it up every year.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail...I LOVE CHRISTMAS CARDS!!!
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
hmmm, I'll have to think on that one!
12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Oh goodness, I love Christmas movies, but my all time favorites are It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street (the newer one).
I love watching the 25 days of Christmas on Fox Family every year and of course the Christmas movies on Hallmark!
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Over the summer... when you have as many kids as I do and all of their birthdays fall in the three months before Christmas, you have to plan ahead!
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Cherry Pie Salad and Pecan Pie
16. Lights on the tree?
LOTS of bright, multi-colored lights
17. Favorite Christmas song?
Oh Holy Night as sung by Martina McBride and Sometimes Christmas Makes Me Cry by Mandisa and Matthew West... both songs move me to tears every time I hear them!
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
it is my preference to be at home... of course we always enjoy eating lunch at Momma's
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's?
Well yeah! I have four small kids... it's a job requirement!
20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Star... although Dacey really wants me to buy a Tinkerbell tree topper this year... don't think that's going to happen.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas Eve at Nana's then at home on Christmas morning
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
people who aren't celebrating for the right reason and don't really have the CHRISTmas spirit
23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
our ornaments are very eclectic. each year we each get a new one. this year we've each gotten two new ones... a disney one and a "dear god" one... we have everything from tonka trucks to m&m's to golden retrievers to crosses on our tree and I LOVE IT!!
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
Turkey and dressing, green bean casserole, broccoli casserole, deviled eggs, rolls
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Tommy to be recovered from his Christmas Eve-Eve surgery with good results!
***UPDATE:I had so much fun doing this that I quizzed the kids separately with the same questions. None of them read mine or each others answers until after they had done their own. The results were a lot of fun! You can check them out at their blogsites: Southern Jewel, Bibleman, Sharkbait.***
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I really like the many different blogging subjects that different sites host for each day of the week. Today I came upon "Then Sings My Soul Saturday". I have a passion for music. It ministers to me in a way that few things do and I love singing praise to our King. So I decided this would be a great one for me to participate in.
For my first go at this, I decided to share the song Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone by Chris Tomlin. The song Amazing Grace is one that God used many years ago to see me through one of my life's darkest periods. The verse that says "and grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me on" gave me hope and encouragement at a time when not much else could. Chris Tomlin's update on the song has made it even more precious to my heart. "My chains are gone! Hallelujah I have been set free! My God.. My Savior has ransomed me!"
Friday, November 14, 2008
I am very hopeful that this surgery will help relieve his pain once and for all. He has suffered with this shoulder for so many years. The kids can't wait to be able to get in the yard and play ball with their daddy again and to tell you the truth, neither can he.
Our eleventh anniversary is Monday. After eleven years of marriage I can honestly say that I still get twitter-pated at the sight of my man. He was a "good guy" when I married him but has become so much more as the years have passed. Tommy is an on fire, sold out, born again, Holy Ghost filled Christian. He is a loving, attentive husband, and he is a caring, dedicated father. He always goes above and beyond to put my needs and the needs of our children above his own... as is evident in the fact that he has postponed his surgery until their Christmas gifts have been bought and our bills have been paid in advance.
My husband truly is one in a million. I fall more in love with Tommy every single day. I am so thankful that God chose him for me! He is my soul mate, my life partner, my prayer partner, my best friend, and so much more. He really is the half that makes me whole.
I love you, Sweetheart! Happy Anniversary!!!