Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

I can't remember the last time I've just lounged around and have done absolutely nothing (all day)!!  It's been nice, but I've been trying to push the guilty thoughts of doing nothing out of my mind.  I justify it by telling myself this is the only day I'll do this over the holidays.  Yep, now that I'm a working Mom, all my free time during any holiday is getting projects done!  I have a few in mind.  Cleaning out our basement is top on my list.  I'm going to start tackling that first thing in the morning because I have a basketball game to go to tomorrow afternoon.  Before coming home, I guess I'll stop by the school and pick up the 48 research papers I need to grade!  Yeah, I'm not feeling guilty anymore... 

With our crazy schedule, Christmas was upon me before I realized it.  We got out of school at lunch, on Wednesday, so I headed to the mall to do all of my Christmas shopping!  I love buying gifts for my girls because they are always so grateful!  BTW, I don't wrap presents anymore...bags are the way to go, and Marie Callender is now one of my best friends!  It makes the holidays a lot less stressful!

Here's a look at how we celebrate Christmas:

We usually have supper (for my side of the family), at the ranch, on the eve of Christmas Eve.  It's pretty casual, and we always end up roasting marshmallows by a campfire.

On Christmas Eve, we head over to my mom and dad's around 4:00.  My mom reads a Christmas story every year before we begin opening gifts.  The book she reads is about the nativity and it has ornaments in it.  The kids take turns placing the ornaments on the tree.  After the story, we open gifts.  My brother is usually Santa...passing out the gifts one at a time.  It's a lot more meaningful this way, and it makes it last longer.  I love Christmas Eve with my family. I always look around at their faces and feel so blessed.  They are all such good people!

Mom...aka...The Fun Maker!

Picture perfect...

Mom, reading the story, and my youngest - with my hubby in the background.

The best sister in the entire world with our new little dog - Chico.

Trying to find the perfect place for the ornament.

My brother and his youngest.

My beautiful girls.

Amy (sis-in-law), Mom, Amber, and me

Okay, so we usually try to destroy all ants at the ranch!
Apparently, we have to go online and order ants for this farm!
Oh well, that's what she wanted!

After we have open our gifts, our extended family arrives a little later.  We usually start out with Meme's famous spinach dip and chips.  Once the bowl is sat down on the bar, it's like my family turns into a school of pirhannas!  The dip is devoured in a matter of minutes! This year we ate turkey, dressing, and the trimmings. My mom always makes a chocolate cake and we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.  Then the kids open their presents, and Meme is always Mrs. Claus.  For the last few years, the rest of us have had a gift exchange.  It's fun and we don't have to buy as many gifts!! 

Mrs. Claus and Brianna (my cousin)

Gift exchange...
"Put it down and GET THE iTUNEs CARD!"
(Me, giving Mark last minute gift advice)
Those words came out of my mouth a little more dramatic than I intended! ha!

Somebody's being funny.  I wonder what or who they are laughing at?
It could be anything/anyone.  My family is always laughing.  I love it!

After our extended family went home, the rest of us sat around the fire, in the living room, and visited until it was hard to stay awake.  Eventually, Mark, the girls and I headed to the ranch.

I was excited about spending the whole day with Mark and the girls on Christmas day.  On Christmas morning, everyone started out drinking frozen hot chocolate while opening gifts.  We also open our gifts one at a time.  I'm Mrs. Claus at our house.  The girls loved their gifts.  A few of their favorites... 

   Can you say excited?!          A new Bible and cover were         Jeans long enough for long legs!
   Our tech savvy girl loved       #1 on her list...sweet girl.      

After opening our gifts, the girls and I went to the kitchen and made a big country breakfast...biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon, sausage, and strawberries.

Cutting up strawberries

Whipping up the eggs

 Christmas breakfast...

Watching Seven Days in Utopia...such a good movie!

All in all, it was a nice, relaxing Christmas with my family.  I'm looking forward to a wonderful new year with them!  I thank the Lord that I have such a wonderful family and that we had such a good Christmas.  I give Him the glory!  I'll end with one of my favorite quotes, "Jesus is the reason for the season!" 

BTW, we'll be celebrating Christmas with Mark's family on New Year's Eve.  I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

In Love...

I've been reading a book called Crazy Love (Overwhelmed By A Relentless God) by Francis Chan.  It's a great book that really makes you think about your relationship with Christ.  As I was reading this morning, it was talking about what great lengths we take when we are madly in love with someone..."you'll drive for hours to be together, even if it's only for a short while, you don't mind staying up late to talk, you're willing to spend a small fortune for the one you care about, he/she is the only one you can think about, and when you're apart from one another it's painful and miserable..."  Lots of us have probably shared this experience with at least one person in our life.  But, as the chapter goes on, a question is posed:  Are you in love with God?
         The critical question for our generation -- and for every generation -- is this:  If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever say, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there.?  -John Piper

Wow! Aha moment here!  How many of us would say, "You know, I think I'd be okay with that." And how many of us could never be satisfied in a heaven without Christ?  If we are as deeply in love with God as we should be we know we could never live in a heaven without God!

Earthly relationships can only grow when we are committed to developing a relationship.  It's the same way with God.  If we aren't committed to building a relationship with Him, it's not going to happen.  Lots of times we need His help in building a relationship.  All we have to do is call out to Him and He will help us.  I love what James wrote "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (4:8). 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

God Is Up To Something Good

I haven't blogged in a while.  This has been one of the strangest summers of my life.  Other than having lots of teacher planning on my mind, there have been several "close" calls in my extended family.  From a broken bone, to a near death experience, to surgery, (and a few other things I don't want to mention)... all of these things have definitely kept me on my knees.  Although I've asked God a couple of times, "Why Lord?,"  the response I always feel in my spirit is, "All things work for good to those who love the Lord."  Even though I may not see it at a particular moment, I have faith that God is up to something good.  His ways are not our ways and His timing is not our timing.  I also take comfort in knowing that God's will is exactly what I would choose if I knew what God knows!  I love the following quote, "To desire anything other than God's will is to desire less than the very best for my life or the lives of those I love."  I'm so thankful that God is the Great Orchestrator of my life.  He knows exactly what I need to happen in my life to make me grow spiritually. 

I want to share a couple of stories that have happened to me (personally), this summer, that have humbled me and made me thankful that God is my Faithful Protector.  A few weeks ago, I loaded 4 big trash bags, full of clothes, in my car.  I was going to drop them off, in a small building at a mission, a stones throw away from our neighboring country, to the south of us.  As I was traveling to this place, my mom called me.  I told her where I was headed and she told me to be careful (seeing as this was not the safest part of town).  She told me about a gruesome incident that happened across the river just that weekend, that made me a little nervous.  I told her I was pulling up to the place and I'd talk to her later.  I was going to see how fast I could toss the big bags into the storage building, so I could get out of there.  One bag was down and I had three to go.  When I walked around to the back of my SUV, to grab another bag, a man approached me, from across the street, (HOLDING A LARGE KNIFE)!  I wasn't sure what this man's intentions were.  I know God helped me stay rational.  I thought one of two things, "He's either here to help me or hurt me."  Seeing as I usually see the glass half-full, I went with the first notion.  So, without any introductions, I threw him a large bag.  I quickly grabbed another bag and tossed it in the shed.   At this point all rationale left me and I prayed, "Oh please God help him not to stab me."  All of the sudden my foot steps caught up with my accelerated heart rate and all I wanted to do was jump in my car.  I quickly closed the back door, of my car, while he asked me in Spanish if there were anymore bags.  I said, "No," jumped in my car and sped off.   The seriousness of the situation hit me as I left the scene, and there were two things I wanted to do:  Thank the Lord for protecting me and call my mom!

After venting to my mom, I had to talk to my sister.  She said something that made a chill rush through me.  She told me he could have been there to hurt me or steal my car, but God could have placed strong angels in the car that only the man could see.  Only God knows what the man's intentions were, but after envisioning what might have been, I'm humbled by my God's protection!

Another protection story:  As I was driving home yesterday evening (on our rural road), the west sun was in my eyes.  As I was zooming across the railroad tracks, I noticed the RR lights blinking!  Ten seconds later, I saw the train speed by, in my rear view mirror!  At that moment, I turned the radio off and thanked God for protecting me, yet again!  His timing is always perfect, so why should I ever doubt it?!

I will close with a scripture that's dear to my heart. As a teenager my mom challenged me to memorize verses from Psalm 91.  I'm thankful she did.  "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust." Psalm 91:1-2

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mama's Got A Job

Well, starting the middle of August, I will join the working world!  Monday night I was hired, at our local school, to teach 10th grade English and 7th grade reading.  I'm very excited about it!  I can honestly say, up until this point in my life, I have not wanted a full time job. I'm rather old fashioned in my ideals, and I have felt the need to be a stay-at-home mom for the past 14 years. I've loved everything about being a "housewife", and I'm thankful to my husband for working double jobs so I could stay home with our girls.  

I know life the way I have known it (for the past 15 years) will drastically change, but I can honestly say, "I'm ready for it."  That's not to say there won't be challenges every now and then, but when is there not in life?  My husband and girls are excited about my new job and I'm counting on them to help out with a few things next year.  We'll see how that goes!  

I can't remember where I found the following quote, but I love it!  It kind of sums up the way I feel about this new adventure in my life.
          "The changes in Job's life moved him toward God.  Stress points?  Yes.  But, also opportunities  to discover new dimensions of God!"
I've asked God to open doors that needed to be open and close doors that needed to be shut, and I feel He has answered my prayers.  Before getting the job, I had come to the point in my life that I'd be content with or without a job.  I just wanted God's will to be done.  I loved the peace that came with that.  I truly feel this opportunity is a gift from God and I'm looking forward to trying to make a difference in kids' lives! 

You have my permission to slap me if I end up looking like the ladies in the following pictures.  I swear, I think you should be fined for wearing "teacher" clothes.  You know what I'm talking about... the ABC and Christmas sweaters! 


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wings As Eagles

But those who wait upon the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Family Photo Shoot 2010

A few pics from our photo shoot. Kati Kitchens from Austin took our pictures.
For some reason, Blogger is only letting me post 4 pics! I'll try a few more later.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

She's not only my mom but a best friend too.  I love hanging out with her.  She's a lot of fun and has tons of energy.  When we're together we're usually laughing.  She has always encouraged me and reminded me that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  If I ever have a problem in life, I know mom will be on her knees praying for me.  She's a prayer warrior!  I take great comfort in knowing that. We are usually each other's back-up in whatever project we've volunteered for and have a good time working together.  I'm so glad we only live 18 miles apart.  She has always added sparkle to my life, sometimes a little too much! ha!  (...some of the predicaments we get into...) Her adventurous spirit keeps things exciting.  I'm thankful to God for instilling such a warm, caring, and nurturing heart in my mom.  In my eyes, my childhood was pretty much picture-perfect, and so much of the credit is due to her.  She poured her heart and soul into raising us and I thank her for that.  She is and always has been a wonderful role model in my life.  I couldn't imagine my life without my mom in it.  I love you mom! 

"Her children rise up and call her blessed..." Proverbs 31:28