Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Blessings!

Our family had a wonderful Christmas. Since Costco put up trees and lights back in early October (or maybe September), Carter has been saying, "Christmas is coming!" Well, it finally came, and it was wonderful.

We had a little hectic week prior to Christmas, as both Carter and I came down with a mild tummy flu, and then Carter woke up five days before Christmas with double pink eye and a double ear infection. We were back at the doctor on Monday to switch his antibiotics when he broke out in full body hives as an allergic reaction to the first medicine. God is merciful, and Carter was healthy and able to be in public again on Christmas Eve--just in time!

On Christmas Eve, we had family time around the house, and then we went to afternoon church services at Compass Bible Church. It was a wonderful service reminding us of how Christ glorified the Father by coming and living a perfect life and dying for us, and how we can glorify God in our own actions as well.

After church, we headed to my sister and brother-in-law's house to celebrate Christmas with my side of the family. The six kids were excited to open presents, which we did after a yummy Mexican food dinner. Carter loves going to my sister's house. They are blessed with a home in Nellie Gail, and he calls it the "trampoline house." They have a giant yard with a big trampoline and a tropical pool with a rock slide. It was drizzly, but he got a little time on the trampoline. He was fine being inside too, since the game room had both air hockey and a fooseball table.

On Christmas morning, we got up late (8:00) and enjoyed the cold, rainy morning. We prayed together as a family and opened most of our presents. At about 10:30, we headed to Ryan's parents' home, where we had breakfast and opened presents. Gabe, Ivy and Carter all loved the presents, but Gabe was an absolute joy to watch, as he shook his hands and bounced around in excitement. Later that afternoon, Ryan's extended family came over to his parents' for a delicious dinner with all the trimmings. It was such a fun day--spending time with family and thanking God for all the numerous blessings we enjoy, all undeservedly.

Carter made out with WAAAAYY too much loot this year. We spent most of the 26th unboxing his toys and finding creative ways to store all the "stuff." Next year, we'll be back to buying very little for him and letting the other family members fill the toy box. Not surprisingly, his favorite toys were anything with noises, buttons and movement. It was fun to see him playing with all the alphabet and counting toys this year and hearing him actually count and identify all the letters. He's growing up fast! Baby brother even got some outfits, which means he won't be wearing entirely hand me downs.

Enjoy some of the pictures. We can't wait to hear all about your Christmas celebrations and the blessings you enjoyed!
Carter enjoying the giant trampoline while grandma watches his stunts!
Carter and his cousin, Grace, pretending to play checkers.
Carter, Gabe and Ivy are excited for presents!
Silly cousins: Stephen, Grace, Connor, Lauren, Carter and Cassie

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Jesse Tree

In talking with my friend, Christa, I found out about a wonderful resource that I wanted to share with you all--Jesse Trees. I'm probably out of the loop, and you all know about this already, but I thought I would post it just in case.

I am ordering this next year, but the Jesse Tree uses all the days of advent to talk about Old Testament stories and prophesies leading to Jesus's birth. It starts with the fall of man in Genesis and works through the Old Testament. From what I understand, it is a good way to also cover the gospel message with your family.

I am sure there are multiple websites to view about this, but one helpful one I found was You need your own mini-tree (buy a fake one at Walmart) to decorate, and you can either make or order the ornaments for each day. There is a devotional that has a lesson aimed at children. The website I listed also has song ideas to sing each day, children's books listed that coorelate with the lesson and a free downloadable coloring page area. I would say the lessons are aimed at early to mid-elementary, but you can differentiate your lesson (there is some good teacherese for you!). The website has a new devotional this year if you want a study just for adults or teenagers.

I hope you take the time to check out the website. Our church's pastor's family does this every year, and I hope to start the tradition next year!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Identifying the Sin in Being Worried Sick

I know I am WAY behind in posting. I'll spare you all the details of our busy schedules, as I know everyone is in the same boat this time of year.

I was having trouble brainstorming ideas for my post, and then I thought I would just honestly share thoughts on my mind lately. I don't normally struggle with anxiety to a large degree. However, lately, I have really been sinful in this area.

As with every year, sickness has been running rampant through our church and the children's ministries program. Since many church friends are on Facebook with me, I can count numerous status updates each day about new families falling prey to the stomach flu or the bad cold making rounds. The cold has already hit our family, but I will do just about anything to avoid the stomach flu.

I use the excuse of pregnancy and the need to stay healthy, but my preoccupation with avoiding the stomach flu has reached sinful levels. I wash my hands forty times a day, and I pray for protection from the flu about three times a day. If we are driving to church, I always remind Carter of "buggies" and to keep his hands out of his mouth--ya, right. I have even considered not taking Carter to church during the worst of it. Can you believe it--going to church to worship God, and all the while keeping Carter at home because I am not trusting the God I am worshipping to take care of us.

Really, though, I am trying to take control of the situation and am not trusting God's plan for us--to get sick or not get sick. It is out of my hands. No matter how much I hate the stomach flu, I have to trust God knows best and he will provide protection against the germs or give us endurance to get through the illness. He wants us at church, and I need to be obedient in bringing both myself and Carter to church--flu or no flu.

Another health anxiety I have had lately is my pregnancy. I am getting numerous questions about when I am due, and most well-meaning people believe I am going to say within the next month or so. When I laugh and say, "March 15th," they have horrified looks on their faces. This baby is bigger than Carter, he is very high, and I am popping out more because of my second pregnancy. I am pretty uncomfortable already, and I start worrying about the next three months. If I can barely walk any considerable distance now, how am I going to function that third month from now? How in the world am I going to birth a bigger baby than Carter when I could barely get him out?--I had to have vaccuum assist with Carter due to his heartrate dropping after 18 hours of labor.

My sin lies in my habit of persisting in these thoughts and going into panic mode. It doesn't take long before my eyes are off the blessing of the baby, and I am dwelling with depression on all the horrible inconveniences and trials I have ahead of me.

This is the baby God made for my family. He is big. I have uncomfortable pregnancies, and this is a trial God has allowed in my life. There is a reason. I am to be thankful in all circumstances.

I have identified these sins of worry and anxiety, and I need to now focus on obediently repenting and changing my thought patterns, attitudes, and actions. You can be praying for me in these details. Ask me how I am doing with my anxiety and worry--in all circumstances!