Tuesday, January 14, 2014

HOPE

Last year I participated in the OneWord365 campaign. I was a bit nervous about choosing a word and was over thinking it way too much. This year as soon as I saw the tweets starting I got out a notebook and wrote down a few words that I thought may be in the running for my OneWord for 2014. But, even before that I think I knew.

These last 13 years of marriage and having a blended family have been blissful at times and painful many more times. There has been heavy heartache and times where I was sure I could not go another day without breaking. I spoke at a women's conference once about hating my own son and it was hard to even breath out the words.

After I spoke a dear friend came up to me and said, "I know times are hard right now and then may get harder before they get better or easier, but you have to keep a little bit of Hope tucked inside your pocket. When you are sure you can not go on and don't even know how to, get that little bit of Hope out and lean into Jesus and you will make it."

And she was right. But, all I had was a little bit of hope.

But, this year, this year I want it to be the year of HOPE. Hope for me and my family. Hope that is BIG and STRONG and SURE.

So, my word is HOPE. And as soon as I chose it, God started dropping statuses and tweets and verses into my lap with hope in them, laced through them. He began to show me that sure enough, all I need is HOPE in Him and it is enough.
  

See

I have a hard time seeing myself the way Father God sees me. I have a tendency to see all of sin wrapped up in failure and disappointment and I assume God sees the same thing.

But, He doesn't.

He sees me through the blood of Jesus, redeemed, righteous, clothed in white and forgiven.

My older sister once told me to get up every morning, look at myself in the mirror and say,"I am loved because God loves me. I can not do anything or say anything to make Him love me more or less. I am loved."

It was hard to say those words when I knew I had failed my God, myself, my husband, my children, my friends, so many time the day before, but it was a new day. New mercies. New sight.

She then encouraged me to close my eyes and imagine myself climbing into the lap of Father God and cuddling up close to Him allowing Him to put His arms around me and to feel His love for me.

When I did, I saw myself climbing up into the lap of my grandfather, someone in my life who loved me no matter what. Pricklies and all, he loved me and I knew I was loved when I was with him.

Let it be also when I am in the presence of my Heavenly Father. How I wish for it to be so.


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Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the YEAR

Christmas kind of sneaked up on me this year, with Thanksgiving being so late. Thankfully, we were able to get the tree up and decorated the weekend after Thanksgiving, but it took a few days to get everything finished.

My sister, Janie took our family pictures on November 29 and Rick got bust right away designing and ordering the cards. We did a postcard style this year and it was so easy. No more stuffing or licking envelopes!

We were also able to score the kiddos' Santa gifts on Thanksgiving Day and did the rest of the shopping little by little, which took some of the stress of that away for the season. I tried to wrap gifts as we purchased them, so that didn't get overwhelming and it worked! We only had to wrap PJs on Christmas Eve!

We hosted the Annual Parker Family Christmas Eve Brunch again this year. A few of our friends' families came as well as my sister, Janie and her family and my aunt Barb. We may open it up to even more friends next year since not as many family member attend. The grandkiddos were able to be there as well, which is always nice. Cody was also able to come home from NC.

After the CE get together we went to our church's candlelight service. It was really nice to take a moment and refocus on the reason for the season. We opened PJs, left out milk and cookies for Santa and then headed to bed.

The kiddos let us sleep in until 8 AM on Christmas Day. We opened stockings, had a scavenger hunt to find the Santa gifts and then had some scrumptious cinnamon roll casserole for breakfast.

It was just a nice relaxing day.

We rang in the new year with the Duques. We just had munchies and played games. Again, very low key, but really nice to be able to laugh and enjoy the company of good friends.

Today, it's been mostly about laundry and getting back on schedule after 12 days off of school/work. I also went to have coffee with Holly during her layover at BWI. It was nice to catch up and keep her company.

Looking forward to 2014 and still trying to decide on my word for the year.

 Our first 2nd Thanksgiving* in the newly remodeled dining room




 All bundled up and cute - Kiyah Rayne (1)

 Putting up the tree.....





 Freddie the Elf is back!










 Santa on a firetruck visiting the neighborhood kiddos

 "Here, MoMo! It's Claus!"


 Kaysen Jace (3)


 Stockings!!




 Opening gifts from Papa and Nana, the Howells and the Hall family






 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!



 Opening gifts from Daddy





 Opening gifts from Grammie and Poppy


 Noah (9) and Gabe on Christmas Eve

 Kari (11) and Arcelia on Christmas Eve

 Opening Christmas Eve PJs







 Reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas"





 Christmas Morning



 Cody (18) opening his stocking




 Cinnamon roll casserole

 My parents' Santa




Ready to get his party on for NYE










Here is the scavenger hunt video from Christmas Day. The kiddos really enjoyed it. Santa may have to do one again next year!