Friday, December 12, 2014

A Christmas Letter to my Daughters 2013

My Sweet Girls,
Merry Christmas!
What a year this has been. In many ways, it's been challenging. We went through some big changes as a family and I know you felt the stress even though Daddy and I tried to protect you from it. But you know how I'm always saying that you can learn something from anything or anyone? This year is no exception. You guys taught me some lessons while I was so busy trying to teach you.
Jyllian, you have had to be brave and strong many times this year. Two trips to the emergency room and a messed up start to your school year could've been enough to really break your spirit. But it didn't. I look at you and you're still that fun-loving girl who can light up a room with just your presence. You've proven that underneath all that smiley wackiness is a strong, steady young woman. I am proud of you. You know, we've had to face many of the same things as girls. We're survivors. But man, I never had your spirit and spunk. Thanks for teaching me that sometimes all you need through the heartache is a good belly laugh.
I'm so totally impressed with your hard work this year in school and at home. You've been a wonderful example to your little sister. She's lucky to have you. So is anyone whose life you are a part of.
One of my favorite memories from this year is when you and I were talking about personalities. I asked you if you would rather if I were more like you and not so serious and laid back all the time. You answered no. You told me that you love me just the way I am and that our family needs a little serious sometimes anyway. Do you know how important it is to be able to love someone just the way they are? We're all different, and that's ok. God made us that way. At eight years old, you get that. Thanks for the reminder. You will make a great leader one day...even more so than you already are.
Katelynn. My little honey. You amaze me every day. You have a passion for learning and for loving that I've never seen before in anyone else. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that it's your passion that gets you in trouble sometimes. When you believe something, you believe it passionately and with all your heart. When you love something or someone you do so passionately and with all your heart. When you feel a certain way about something you feel it so passionately that it's almost overwhelming. But it's not always a bad thing.
In fact, my love, it's what will help you find that 'fire in your belly'. Remember when we talked about that? Find what it is and then throw all that passion into it. God will use you for some big things, no doubt. Thanks for teaching me to stand tall and stand up for what I believe in.
I learned your love language this year. You love quality time with people, don't you? This was hard for me at first. Mommy's so "busy" all the time. But I'm trying. My natural way to show love to people is to do things for them. But you've helped remind me that my children don't need for me to clean as much as they do for me to just stop and be. I'm becoming a better mom because God gave you this need.
And thank goodness I'm learning this lesson. Otherwise I would have missed out on our awesome time together the other night. Remember? You and me by the Christmas tree? Daddy and Sissy were busy. We turned out all the lights and hummed and sang and cuddled. Christmases will come and go, but this memory will be mine forever. Thank you.
In fact, you girls have given me many things to tuck into my heart this year. Now I'd like to give you a few.
We've been talking about the first Christmas. You know much about Jesus' birth and what it means. But did you know that there are lessons we can learn from the Christmas story that are important to our everyday life?
Like Mary. She was scared and confused when she found out that she would be giving birth to Jesus. That would be scary, huh? She couldn't believe that God would use her for such a big job. But she obeyed anyway. And submitted herself to Him. She called herself His servant. She teaches us that when God calls on us to do something big, we should obey and give ourselves to Him. Remember her when you're scared and you think you can't do what you're being asked to do. You can.
Remember the shepherds? They were just a normal group of men, seemingly unimportant, working and minding their own business. When the angel appeared to them, they went to find Jesus and, when they found Him, they dropped to their knees and worshiped Him. They told everyone they met about the miracle they had seen, and they praised God for it. I pray that the miracle of Jesus Christ is always enough to bring you to your knees, and that you never stop praising God and proclaiming the good news to all who will listen. Just like the shepherds.
Even Joseph, who we know very little about, had a lesson to teach about faith and trust. Imagine it--being engaged to a girl, only to find out she's pregnant and you're not the dad!? Disappointed, he had already decided to break it off with Mary when an angel appeared to him and asked him to trust God, even though he didn't understand what was happening. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I want you to have faith and trust Him in everything, even in the unknown. God is good. And that's all we need to know.
We can even learn from the wise men. I learned that they were very smart. The kind of people who are always learning and finding out about things. (Like you guys!) When they found out about Jesus, they followed a star to find Him and worshiped Him once they did. Girls, it's ok to be smart and to want to figure things out. But sometimes it's best to just believe. Never stop following that star in your heart that says that God most certainly does exist, and He lives in you.
And ladies...remember this:
The rainbow always comes after the storm. And as long as you learn from your struggles and remember that you are being made stronger because of them, that rainbow is going to be all the more beautiful.
Thank you both for who you are and what you do for our family.
I love you always.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekend Retreat

Our fb announcement.

During our celebratory lunch after our first prenatal appt.

My big fisher-girl hooking into something during our camping trip.

Katie and her best friend's daughter, Kaylee.

They take selfies now.  This is my fave.

Happy Halloween!

Oh boy, it's been a long while, hasn't it?  It's been months since I sat down and typed out one of these puppies.  I'd love to tell you I've been off doing some grand thing in my absence from this space.  I'd love to recount the fantastic tales and lessons I've learned in doing so.  But I haven't, really.

For us, this has been a season of gathering ourselves and hunkering down, if you will.  Of big decisions and the leaning into the light, seeking hard after God's will for our life.  We sense that we're at one of those junctures...a fork in the road...where the continuation onto this path or that one will drastically change the trajectory of our life.  Job changes, life callings, buying a home or no.  Things like that.   

So, on second thought, maybe we have been at work on some grand things.

The summer was a crazy blur.  Fun, yes.  Productive?  Not so much.  And, as summer drew to a close, there was this wonderful news.  We're now a couple months into our official homeschooling journey with Katie, and I'm learning so much about myself and her.  We also picked up a few newspaper routes as a way to earn some extra money as a family and have--for the most part--found it incredibly rewarding.  We're now heading into the holiday season, and find myself silly with anticipation over it, as usual.  (Total confession time:  I've made a Christmas music playlist and the kids and I have been listening to it during the day already.) 

And even despite the feeling that so many things are in limbo right now, it's all somehow forced us together in a way.  Smooshed us all onto the same page or something.  It's like we sense that, no matter what happens, our closeness and loyalty to each other and our constant, collective drawing from our one source of strength will ultimately be what we are the most proud of when we look backwards at this time in our life.

Speaking of new seasons, I'd like to try something new with my Weekend Retreat posts.  I've long desired to write a regular post dedicated to the things I've learned.  Learning in any capacity is a passion of mine--always has been--and I'd love to share some of that here.  I was recently inspired by Ashley to do just that.  So I'm going to start doing my retreat post as a monthly thing and also incorporate "What I've Learned This Month."  (I'll be linking up with Emily in doing so...check out her beautiful space, you won't be sorry!)

Here we go...What I've Learned in October:

1.  I'm absolutely in love with the concept of learning at home.  I'd like to go in depth a little more with this in another post all its own, but I just can't help but feel like we've made the right choice to homeschool.  Don't get me wrong...we've had our moments.  Katie is a challenge.  I've sent Scott a text already and announced that I think it's best if we send her to a brick and mortar instead because it's just. not. working!!  (Hello, pregnancy hormones.)  I'm not proud of those moments, but we've endured.  And I've found that, to the same degree it's been one of the hardest things I've ever done, it's also been one of the most rewarding.

2.  As a family, we really do not care about Halloween all that much.  We're not against it or anything, and we do involve ourselves in a few activities, but we've found that we're just kind of going through the motions with it.  For example, today is Halloween.  We haven't carved pumpkins yet because we just simply forgot to.  (We're going to make an effort to squeeze that in later before heading off to trick-or-treat, but it's not going to make or break our night either way.)  The same thing happened last year.  Katie's comment last night sums it up perfectly:  "Is Halloween soon over?  I'm ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas!"  Me too, Katie.  Me too.

3.  Pregnancy is a lot harder than I remember.  It's true.  It's definitely been challenging this time around.  If I'm not exhausted, I'm nauseous.  If I'm neither of those things, I have a headache.  The couch (and Netflix) have been my best friends these days, and the state of my house is a dead giveaway.  Luckily, my family has no problem plopping down next to me to indulge my lazy tendencies.  Together we've binge-watched gems like Restaurant: Impossible, Cake Boss, and Man vs. Food.  And I say oh well.  Survival is the name of the game here lately, and will be for what's left of my first trimester.  I'm clinging (for dear life) to the promise that my mood and energy should improve within the next few weeks.  We shall see.                  

Aaaand with that, we've come to the end of our time together for now.  Before we part, though, I want to thank you for joining me here once again and encourage you to indulge in some of my favorite finds here lately.  Enjoy!

 I love this one.  Ashley delivers on the promise this title suggests and explains why it is we need to stop worrying so much about our "shoulds" and how guilt gets us nowhere.

This one went viral, which is how I stumbled upon it.  These words are beautiful, and I ended up spending an entire afternoon reading Em's blog, which I now follow.  Nothin' but good stuff here.

Because if you're a mommy?  You have guilt.  And we all have a duty, I believe, to remind each other of our bigger purpose here in this crazy life.  This one does such a great job of that.

Guess what one of my big goals is for the new year?  I plan to tackle the phasing out of store-bought cleaning products and move toward homemade.  I've bookmarked this one to help get me started.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Pictorial Debut

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Psalm 139:13-16

Head is to the left!