Monday, December 29, 2008

What we're reading this week...

I hope you had a nice Christmas. We enjoyed our Christmas this year. This was the first Christmas that we were not with any extended family, so there was a bit of sadness mixed in. 

So, on to what we're reading this week...
(Click on the images to link to Amazon's website.)

Jason's reading...

My reading...
(Great book!)

Emily's reading...

Ben's reading...

Abby's reading...

Happy reading!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thanks and Giving 2008

Jason and I were just watching the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Thanks and Giving 2008 campaign on TV. What an amazing institution St. Jude is. One of the last statements of the show was from a mom who said that at some point in time, you will be affected by childhood cancer, whether it's your child, grandchild or a friend's child. 

We were touched by cancer this past year when one of Ben's classmates, Alexis, received her diagnosis. It's absolutely true, you never think it will really happen to someone you know and then when it does, your view of life is changed. The good news is our friend Alexis is now cancer free, praise God! But, many children are not and the folks at St. Jude need our donations to continue their amazing work as they push to develop cures for childhood cancers. Jason and I just committed to a monthly donation. 

Won't you join us?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008!

May your Christmas be filled with childlike wonder 
as you celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Countdown to Christmas

So, as of tomorrow, the 5-day countdown to Christmas begins. I have a small, overwhelming feeling, wondering if I'll get everything done. Will my house be clean enough and welcoming enough for all my guests coming this evening? Will all our presents be wrapped? Will everything on my menu make it to the table and our tummies? Will my packages make it to Texas by Christmas? Will everyone like what they receive

And where in all these questions do I find myself wondering if we will take the time to remember why we celebrate Christmas in the first place? 

Oh, don't worry, I have plans for us to read the Christmas story Christmas morning, and I do have the desire for my kids to understand that Christmas is not really about Santa and presents, but about an amazing plan that began with God who loves us, desiring to provide a way for His children to have a relationship with Him. After all, Christmas really is about His love for us and the amazing story of a Baby born to save you and me from our sins.

But, somehow, the "to do" list seems to cast a shadow over the true reason for celebrating Christmas and once those things are done, then I feel I can take the time to make sure we include the Christmas story. However, I'm going to make a concerted effort to make this 5-day countdown include more of Him and less of me. I want to share everything about Him with my kids so they know as they grow how much God loves them and how important it is they cling to that Truth. I want them to know the true miracle of the story of Jesus's birth; full of love, hope and joy - meant for them. 

I bought Rick Warren's The Purpose of Christmas yesterday and I'm looking forward to reading it and being reminded of the joy of Christmas. After all, the words of the song are so true...

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
(God in the form of a baby to be my Savior!)

Let earth receive her King;
(The Most High King, sent for you and me;)

Let every Heart prepare Him room,
(Oh, that everyone would know the love of Christ,)

And heaven and nature sing.
(And worship His name in every way.)

I encourage you to take the time to read the Christmas story in Luke and make it a part of your Christmas this year!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Website Wednesday!

This week's website is Have you been stuck at times and not sure if you are using the correct form of a particular word? How about words like affect and effect or aggravate and irritate or good and well? I know I get stuck sometimes with the good and well. This is a website where you can check yourself and see if you've been using the words in the correct context.

From the company's website:
Richard Wanderman

In 1990 my wife Anne came home from school and asked me if there was an easy way to collect the words that her students confused so that they might refer to their own personal list on their own personal computer.

I put the question back to Anne: if you had such a list, what kinds of information about the confused words should be included, and how should the information look? I asked her to come up with some examples, the first few of which were effect and affect and there, their, and they're.

We decided that we needed to show each set of confusables together so that an easy comparison could be made. We also thought that the list would include more confusables than just homonyms, words like aggravate and irritate, and good and well.

We hope you find Confusing Words useful and we look forward to your comments and feedback to make it even better.

If you are feeling well enough to do some writing, it might be a good time for you to check out this website! How's that?

Happy writing!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Celebrating a Special Day!

Thirteen years ago today in my hometown in Texas, Jason and I were married. We were so young and so in love. Now, 13 years later, we are not so young but even more in love. We've had some rough times and some incredibly joyful times, which have made our marriage what it is today. Marriage is hard and it takes commitment and daily effort from both and I am so thankful for the marriage we have today. I'm looking forward to the next 13 years and the 13 after that...

December 16, 1995

Happy Anniversary, Jason!
You inspire me to be a better person every day.
Thank you for loving me unconditionally 
(especially when it's difficult to do so!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

From our Home to Yours 2008

Welcome to our home!

This is our first Christmas in this house and I have enjoyed decorating it. Our home is a colonial style home built in 1927. Here's a couple of pictures taken at night, which is why they are a bit blurry...

My favorite Christmas decoration or theme is snowmen. I have a collection of snowmen and add one or two to my collection each year. They come from all over. In fact, the two new ones this year are from Target and Walgreens of all places!

These are the two new snowmen added last year. I just had to share them with you. They are made by a local artist from gourds. Aren't they a cute pair?

The kids have fun each year with the Christmas countdown...

We started adding family ornaments to our tree in 2000 when Emily was born. We now have eight family ornaments. Each are different and personalized. We also add the annual Hallmark family ornaments to the tree; one for Dad, one for Mom, one for each Daughter and one for Son. The Hallmark ornaments are adorable. I am going out tomorrow to get this year's set and can't wait! The kids love getting their ornament and hanging it on the tree each year.

I love, love, love my Willow Tree Nativity set. Jason gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago. I keep hinting that I would like to complete the set...

Here is the mantle with lots of stockings! I think I might get around to getting them monogrammed this year. I have put it off now for three years. For now, they are ordered with Daddy and Mommy on the ends and the kids in the center in order by age. I got the stocking hangers at Target last year on clearance (what would we do without Target?) and they are very fun; the bells actually ring!

Just last night, we made this Holiday Peppermint Bark to give to teachers, neighbors and co-workers. It's quite fun to make and a little bit sticky, but oh so yummy! Enjoy!

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

His ways...

I remember the day as if it was yesterday. Some of you may have your own similar day. What day am I referencing? The day I was able to find out what gender my second child would be. Jason and I had made the decision to not find out with our first child what the gender was and enjoyed thoroughly not knowing and looking forward with full anticipation to hearing the doctor say "It's a girl!" or "It's a boy!". My wonderful doctor actually let Jason say it and I remember as he told me through tears streaming down his face, "It's a girl!" We were elated and my world immediately turned pink (& pretty much has been pink since that day!)

However, with my second pregnancy, things were a little different. We had tried for a while to become pregnant and it didn't happen as quickly as we would have wanted, but when the day finally arrived, we were so excited. As my pregnancy progressed, I began to become quite anxious about what this baby would be. (A pregnant woman's hormones can do some crazy things with her thought processes.) As my hormones kicked in, I knew 100% that I wanted another girl. I absolutely did NOT want a boy. I had all the things that a little girl would need, including a great big sister. My two girls would be best friends with matching dresses and bows and shoes. So, I'm not exaggerating here...I KNEW it would be a girl because I wanted one so badly and I just as equally did not want a boy, so there was absolutely no way God would give me a boy.

The day finally arrived for the ultrasound. I was looking forward to the technician solidifying what I had known all along. And as soon as he said, "It's a boy!", my world halted like one of those slow motion movie scenes. I said "Are you sure?".  He then printed out a 5x7 picture with the proof circled and highlighted. I had to force myself to say thank you as if it was this poor technician's doing that somehow my baby had changed from a girl to a boy in that very moment. I proceeded to cry for 5 days, and off and on until the very day I went into labor. However, as soon as my Benjamin was born, everything was OK and there's not another baby in the world I would have rather had.

I can think of many other times in my life when I just knew that my way was better than what was happening around me. If God would just let me be in control of this situation or that situation, I would definitely know a better way, right? WRONG! The hard part of these lessons is the proof is usually through hindsight. I am learning that His ways are not my own and His ways are better. His ways may take me through some dark times, some painful times, some confusing and almost hopeless times. In those times, I tend to reach out harder for His hand. I tend to learn more about myself and His love for me. And when I'm on the other side, I see how He carried me all the way through and How he changed me to be more like Him.

Had we gone ahead with my plans and my second baby had been a girl, I would have missed out on things like dinosaurs eating baby dolls and even more... on this handsome face:

If you're going through a hard time right now, or you are even questioning if all this God stuff is real and important, I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read the words He's written for you. Find a good devotional book (or even a devotional site on the internet) and spend a few minutes each day reading about this God who created you. 

I like how The Message words these familiar words from Proverbs 3:
5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart; 
   don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; 
   he's the one who will keep you on track.
Don't assume that you know it all. 
   Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health, 
   your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own; 
   give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst, 
   your wine vats will brim over.
But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; 
   don't sulk under his loving correction.
It's the child he loves that God corrects; 
   a father's delight is behind all this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Website Wednesday!

Have you discovered Etsy? This is such a cool website and is this week's Website Wednesday! Etsy is the place for everything handmade. Now, before you envision a less than par homemade project, take a minute to click on this and this and this and this. I thought these were so cute, too! Etsy is a great place for creative folks to market their products. It's also a fantastic place for buyers to find unique items to keep or give away. Prices range from low to high, depending on the product. 

From the company's website:
Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade. Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice:
Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.

Since our launch in June, 2005, over 100,000 sellers from around the world have opened up Etsy shops. 

But, beware! 
You could spend HOURS searching through this site!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What we're reading this week...

Jason and I are still working on our books. I'm thinking I'm not going to keep going to Book 3. Book 1 in the series was great and Book 2 has gotten a bit out there for me. I'm ready for something different.

In pulling out the Christmas decorations, we brought out all our children's Christmas books. The kids have had a great time reading through them. Here are a few of our favorites:

(Click on the image to link to Amazon's website.)

Happy Christmas Reading!