Monday, December 22, 2008

GOD WITH ME

This past weekend found our family out spreading Christmas cheer to friends, family, and neighbors.  It is my favorite part of our Christmas traditions... caroling.  The kids donned their Santa hats, Christmas shirts, and bells and went home to home greeting people and wishing them a Merry Christmas.  Here are some pictures from our adventure:
 
Saturday was rounded out by a visit to our favorite Christmas lights display and a tour of a live nativity.  It was awesome!

Yesterday at church was special too.  During our morning service we were blessed to have an artist who painted a canvas of Mary and the baby Jesus as the choir sang.  It was beautifully done.  And last night we enjoyed family communion followed by a wonderful time of fellowship with our Christmas banquet.

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

A Perfect CHRISTmas

I've mentioned on more than one occasion lately that when it comes to birthdays and holidays, I tend to go so overboard to make sure that they are perfect that I often times find myself disappointed when things do not turn out exactly as I had envisioned. This year has been a lot different than most. Instead of driving around looking at lights or sitting by the Christmas tree reading stories, we have been planning and preparing for my husband's upcoming surgery. I feel like the whole holiday season has almost passed me by in such a whirlwind it has me left wondering where it went and how it went by so quickly.

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!



Friday Funnies - Christmas Edition

I have not participated in Friday Funnies at Homesteader's Heart before. I had given it a lot of thought earlier this week as I do not need to look any further than my own home for a laugh to share. I thought this would be a great way to reflect on the humor in my family. So this being a Christmas edition funny - here's a story from years gone by.
If you know our family or have followed my blogs at 360 in years past, you are probably accustomed to my term "Dacey-isms". My poor daughter can misunderstand something once and that is the way she says it from that point on. Like when she sang, "home, home on the range... where cell phone is heard..." is just one example. One of my favorite Dacey-isms occurred a couple of Christmases ago when she heard the old Ray Steven's song, "Santa Claus is Watching You." We were in the middle of Wal-Mart when she decided to spread a little yuletide cheer. She broke into the chorus but instead of singing, "he's everywhere, he's everwhere!" she somewhat loudly proclaimed, "HIS UNDERWEAR, HIS UNDERWEAR." Everyone that overheard broke into laughter. It's a fun memory.
In case you've never heard the original song, I'm providing the video below:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JADEN!!!

Yesterday my oldest son, Jaden, turned eight. For the past several years Jaden has wanted a birthday party where he could invite a few of his friends and enjoy the day with them. It has never worked out for him though as parties that have been planned have never been accomplished due to people being too busy doing holiday stuff or being sick. So this year his Aunt tinker-Sidney and I planned a surprise party for him. And boy, was he surprised!


Our day started early as Jaden and his younger brother Isaac both had dentist appointments at 8:00 a.m. Jaden was in the dentist's chair for well over an hour and when Isaac finally went back, they realized because of his "possible" heart condition he would need to be pre-medicated. A prescription was called in with instructions for us to give him the medicine and return in an hour. At this point Jaden says, "My birthday isn't going so good." He was rather disappointed to be spending his day in a waiting room.


We ate lunch at McDonald's which is just what Jaden wanted and soon after headed for home. We ran in long enough to drop a few things off and pick a few things up and we were off again. I put my sleep mask over Jaden so that he couldn't see where we were headed.



We walked in Sidney's, uncovered his eyes, and out popped his friends and siblings hollering, "Surprise!" He felt like a prince and made the comment, "This is the best birthday ever!"



(the cake)

("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

Christmas Like a Child


I've said it several times before, but I'll say it again... I LOVE CHRISTMAS!! I love everything about the season. I love the shopping, the planning, the parties, the carols, the lights and decorations. Ok, so I don't love the wrapping part that much, but everything else I love. I try to put as much thought and emphasis on how to make the entire month leading up to the big day as special as possible for my children. We enjoy baking cookies together and then delivering them to friends and neighbors while we sing carols along the way.

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

A Grand Day and Grand Bloggers

It can be said that I have had my drivers license over half my life, and that I have also been sixteen for the second time now. (It's amazing how quickly the past sixteen years have passed as it really doesn't seem that long ago.)

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!

I choose:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Who Knew?

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

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