Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Introducing the Online School for Girls

Laurel School, along with several other prestigious girls schools across the United States, has launched the Online School for Girls. This cutting edge school will be an interactive online classroom where students will collaborate with peers and communicate directly with instructors as they expand their educational experience. Instructors, who are currently teaching at nationally recognized schools, are experienced in teaching girls and know what works best in an all-girls classroom.

Take some time and check out the website. OSG is currently in testing mode and will open enrollment for 2010-2011 school year in early spring.

Oh, and by the way, Jason is a part of this endeavor and I'm so proud of him!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Catching up with Pics

So, I know I left you hanging with the Advent devotions. Let's just say, they were enjoyed by all (on most days) and the kids learned so much. We will be repeating again next year, so I'll get the rest of the posts done then. This is a great way to bring in Christmas whether you have children or not! I highly recommend it. Just order this book, buy or make a set of ornaments (mine came from ebay last year) and spend just a few minutes each day, beginning on December 1st preparing your heart for the coming of the King. You will see Christmas in a better light with peace and joy filling your heart, no doubt!

We've had a busy Christmas season. I did opt to not do a Christmas card as time was passing quickly and I didn't want the added stress. So, Valentine's cards will be a'comin...

So, here are our past few weeks in pics...

Emily earned her green belt in Tae Kwon Do!
Way to go, Em!

Jason and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary and we're still very much in love!

Our family ornament arrived.
This might be my favorite one yet...

Our first snow fell, not a huge snowfall, but enough for a cute little snowman...

We headed out to visit Santa in high hopes that Abby would sit in his lap. Indeed, she did! (Notice, the nervous smile...)

And more pics. Hey, while they're dressed up and Mommy has camera in hand, you can bet there will be photo shoots!

And then off to reward those cooperative little elves with a trip to the Cheesecake Factory. (Um, yes, this would be the Red Velvet Cheesecake...)

Christmas Eve was finally here!
We started off our day baking and decorating Christmas cookies.
Lots of sprinkles everywhere!

Before & After...

Christmas Eve service at our church was so good. Emily stayed in the service with Jason and me this year, and it created a special memory for me to look down and see her singing the Christmas carols. The music and message was beautiful and I left in tears. What an amazing gift of grace God gives us and all we have to do is accept it. We can then, in turn, give grace to others. Boy, that can be so hard!

So, of course, the kids were dressed for Christmas Eve, which brought another opportunity for pics.
(One day, they'll be thankful, right?)

Then, it was time to get ready for Santa. We opened our Christmas Eve present, which was pj's. The kids' faces were hilarious! They were not thrilled with the thought of opening pj's as their gift, but quickly put them on and started getting things ready for Santa. Such cute little elves...

And, Christmas morning was finally here. Everyone had a great morning. Emily, Ben & Abby all received their #1 requested gift, which was an iPod for Em, a remote control snake for Ben and a Touch 'N Brush for Abby. Yes, Abby really did want a Touch 'N Brush and when she opened her gift, fell back on the couch and kicked her legs in the air out of pure joy!

Christmas dinner was not a traditional menu. However, it was delicious! We started with baked Brie & crackers, followed by grilled steaks, baked potato soup, green bean casserole, salad & rolls with cinnamon honey butter. The steak rub, soup and butter were taken straight from the Taste of Texas restaurant's website. (If you are ever in Texas and have the chance to eat at Taste of Texas, it's a must!) We topped dinner off with a baked from scratch birthday cake. (Please don't criticize the decorating!) All was yummy and our tummies were full!

Happy Birthday, Jesus! We love you!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Preparing for the Big Day, Part 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9

So, I'm catching up the Advent posts today. We've been doing them every night and the kids are doing great! They look forward to our time right after dinner. We sit down in front of the fire and read the new story for the night. Of course, the main highlight right now is whose turn it is to open and hang the ornament. But, they are learning and we are training those little hearts...

Day 5: Isaac and the Lamb
(Ornament: a lamb)

In my opinion, there are some very strange stories in the Bible. I would definitely classify this as one. Do you know the story of Abraham and his son Isaac? Just imagine this... You have waited and waited and waited to have a child. You are beyond the point of thinking it will ever happen and you suddenly learn you have a baby on the way. Not only have you pined for years for this child, but the child itself is a miracle because you are easily the age of a grandpa or even great-grandpa! One day, the Lord appears and tells you to take this precious child and sacrifice him on the altar. I don't know about you, but I think I would have run the other way (with said child in hand) and kept running.

But, not Abraham. Abraham had such faith in God that he would obey his direction. He took his son and they traveled to the altar and Abraham prepared his son to be the sacrifice. On the way, Isaac asks his father what will be the sacrifice as they didn't have an animal with them. Abraham's reply to his son, "God will provide". I know there have been times when I, myself, have answered questions my children have with answers more for the purpose of reassuring them than for actually giving them the facts. I wonder if this was the case with Abraham. Was this response a way of easing Isaac's mind or was it a true statement of Abraham's faith in God's provision?

Abraham gets all the way to the point of raising the knife when God intervenes, provides the lamb for sacrifice and saves Isaac. God commends Abraham for his faith.

The Bible is full of prophecy and foreshadowing and symbolism. Abraham was willing to give his Son, but God didn't ask that much of him in the end. However, many years later, God would do this Himself. He would finish the job and His Son would be killed. He provided the lamb, yet again, and this time, the Lamb was Jesus Christ.

Lord, thank you for your Son. Thank you for the gift of the lamb, Jesus Christ. Deepen my faith, Lord, that I might have the faith of Abraham even to the point of obeying you in the most difficult tasks.

Day 6: Jacob's Ladder
(Ornament: a ladder)

I have a recurring dream. I dream often that my college degree is being "called back" because I am short one course and I must return to my university to complete the course. What's the course? P.E.! If I have dreamed this one time, I have dreamed it 100 times. Silly, huh?

In the Bible, God spoke to several people through the dreams. One of these dreams is known to us as Jacob's Ladder. Jacob was Isaac's son. Remember Isaac? He was the son of Abraham. (Read above.) We are moving through the descendants of Abraham as we move towards the birth of the Christ Child.

Jacob had a dream one night. He had set out to another country to find a wife. On his journey, he felt lonely and tired. One night, as he settled in for sleep, he lay on the ground using a stone for a pillow and fell asleep. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't think I would sleep very soundly if I was sleeping on the ground and using a rock for a pillow. (Thank you, Lord, for the house over my head and my pillow!)

As Jacob falls into deep sleep, he dreams a strange and awesome dream. Jacob saw a ladder that reached all the way to the sky. Angels were going up and down the ladder and God was standing at the top. Jacob was told that many wonderful things would happen to him because God loved him. From Jacob's family, Jesus would come. Jacob awoke from the dream with the reassurance that God was with him on his journey and his life would never be the same again.

Lord, what an amazing and reassuring reminder that you are always with us. In our times of loneliness and despair, we are absolutely not alone. Help us to remember this, Lord, and to know that no matter what is going on around us or who has turned their back on us, You will never leave us or forsake us! We love you, Lord!

Day 7: Joseph's Coat of Many Colors
(Ornament: a colorful coat)

This is sibling rivalry at its best! Joseph was one of 12 sons and was the favorite of his father, Jacob. Joseph's brother knew that Joseph was the favorite and were very jealous of this affection. One day, Jacob presented Joseph with a beautiful coat. This only stirred the pot of jealousy and the brothers began plotting a way to get rid of Joseph, yes even to kill him. Read about the story here.

God, however, had grand plans for Joseph's life and saved him from death. Joseph encountered many troubles to get to the place where God would use him in a mighty way. The Bible tells us that God works all things for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28). Joseph had no way of knowing that one day he would be a great ruler in Egypt and when his brothers needed help, he would be the one to take care of them. He could have easily turned away, bitter from the mistreatment during his younger years, but instead, he chose to forgive them and to help them.

What can we learn from Joseph? God is always with us, even in our times of trouble when He might feel far away. God also calls us to be forgiving just as He has forgiven us our sins through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Lord, what an amazing feat it is, at times, to be forgiving. Help me to forgive those who need forgiveness so that I might not sin. Thank you for being with me in the hard times and molding me for Your purposes.

Day 8: Moses and the Ten Commandments
(Ornament: a tablet with numbers)

I'm sure that most people have heard of the ten commandments. Sometimes, they are viewed with a pessimism as if God is barking down orders and ready with his lightsaber to zap us when we break one. This is not the God I serve, however.

The Bible says that God is love. I know as a parent, it's important for me to set boundaries for my children and I do so out of my love for them and hopes that they will become Godly grownups.

I am not a rebellious person by nature. I'm actually a rule-following nerd, so I like rules. But, as I get older, I really like to pick and choose my rules. (As if I know what is best for me...) Just like a small child needs the guidance of parents, I need the guidance of my Heavenly Father who loves me beyond measure and knows what's best for me.

Father, help me to be obedient to Your Word. Thank you for the Bible. I long to be pleasing to you.

Day 9: Canaan, The Promised Land of Blessings
(Ornament: a cluster of grapes)

Have you ever seen a bunch of grapes so big and juicy that two men had to carry it? Read this! I can't imagine such abundance of grapes, figs, pomegranates and more as those found in Canaan, the promised land. We are reminded again, today, God keeps His promises! Sometimes, the timeline is adjusted due to our lack of obedience and faith, but He does not waver from what He has promised His children. Hallelujah!

Moses worked to free God's people from Pharaoh and it was not a simple feat, to say the least. Very soon after their departure from Egypt, the people turned away from God. This didn't change God's promises, yet increased the time it took to reach the land He had promised. Finally, when the people were close enough to step into the land, they still turned to their own ways, which resulted in 40 more years of wandering. However, God's promise was fulfilled when the people chose to return to being obedient. He had brought them to the place He promised and provided all their needs along the way, even in their times of disobedience and faithlessness, He was moving them towards the Promised Land.

I like to think the Promised Land could be a glimpse of heaven. The land was abundant in blessings and was theirs to have if they were only obedient and followed God. The result of their disobedience was an additional time in the desert, a time when many died. However, the few who lived made it to the Promised Land and from those people, would come King David, moving closer to the birth of Jesus.

Lord, it is so easy to trace your hand in the Bible, moving through the descendants and following your plan from Adam all the way to Jesus. However, sometimes we refuse to see the trace of your hand in our own lives. Help us to remember that we belong to You and You have everything we need. Praise be to you, Lord!'s cold!

The winds last night were quite dramatic. They blew all four wreaths off the 2nd floor of the front of my house. One is yet to have been found, so I will be the crazy neighbor rummaging through and searching the neighbor's bushes and yards.

We have been lucky so far (knock on wood) by not being hit yet with bad weather. We did wake up to some white stuff on the ground this morning and the wind chill of ZERO degrees. (I never thought that really existed!)

So, today's the day to break out the snow boots and make sure the hat, scarf, mittens and warmest coat are ready to go! Isn't she cute?

And, with Abby, there will always be a silly picture to follow...