Thursday, December 20

:: Perseverance = Hope ::

The tragedy at the elementary school in Connecticut has brought to the surface for us our tragedy and the trauma of that experience.  We mourn with the families that have lost their precious babies and it hits close to home having Parrish in Kindergarten as well.  In truth, we have tried to isolate ourselves from news reports and discussions about it out of self preservation.  This senseless tragedy, along with the difficulty of the holidays without Olivia, the 2nd anniversary of her passing in November, and her birthday coming up in January, have gotten me thinking a lot about perseverance lately.

The book of James in the bible is one of my favorite and speaks a lot about suffering and perseverance. James 1:4 says, "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  Romans 5:3-5 says (in a nutshell) that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character hope.  We are more confident today in our hope than we were prior to loosing Olivia.  God walked with us during those horrific first days and weeks, and continues to walk with us not only on our bad days, but our good as well.  When human flesh fails and disappoints...He is always there.  Sometimes I just have to remind myself to stop and look for stop and listen for talk with him about what is on my heart.  During this busy season it is more difficult to find time to do that.  It is also hard for me to be still and silent for fear that the old memories of that horrible time will come flooding back to the front of my mind.  But Jesus promises us that if we keep persevering under trial we will receive the crown of life..."Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the  Lord has promised to those who love him." James 1:12

So we continue to find the joy in each day, like Knox's 1st bites of rice cereal this week...
 Or the amazing growth and changes in him over 4 short months...
 My dad coming to get Christmas started early this week....
 Or the boys playing in the Christmas lights at home...

This Christmas, I wish for you the joy found in the daily moments that comes from persevering through difficult times.  Tragedy and hard times do leave their marks, but thankfully tragedy does not have the power to define us because of our hope in Jesus.  Happy Birthday and all praise and honor to Him!

Friday, December 7

BUSY-Being Under Satan's Yoke

I've had these pictures uploaded for a week trying to find the time to blog and finally decided to just post them and be's the best I can do this season!  
We spent Thanksgiving in Andalusia with family and friends and it was a fun visit.  As usual though, it was tempered with longing for our sweet girl to be there with us.  The only difference is that this year, we had this cute bundle in our arms and I cannot express in words how thankful we are for him.  He has given us so much to be thankful for.

While we were in Andy Parrish got to play with his cousin Ada...she is quite possibly the best babysitter around.  She did whatever Parrish wanted to do...including building this fun fort in Glorio's yard.  It had rooms divided by hanging towels, duck blinds, broom closets and beds made of leaves....imagination at it's finest.
Knox enjoyed his time with Miss Ada, too...laughing at his great-gradaddy and getting snuggles (below) from his great-Glorio.
Right before Thanksgiving we had Parrish's school turkey trot and he ran with his new classmate and buddy Cole...the top three finishers got frozen turkeys and everyone else got certificates and turkey beads.  It was pretty funny seeing all the costumes - dogs and humans dressed up like turkeys!
Even Knox "ran" with us, although as you can see, he was content to nap and be pushed.
Cannon and I are struggling up the hill to the school in this picture trying to keep up with Cole and Parrish, who were like bolts of lightning!

Parrish and his classmates Cole and Drew showing off their certificates...

After the turkey trot it was off to see Santa.  Knox was just along for the ride this year.  I wonder what he'll think next year!
Parrish still had his face paint on from the turkey trot that he cherished and I didn't have the heart to make him take it off (if you were wondering why on earth I got him all dressed up only to paint his face!)
Parrish always taps his chin while he's thinking.  Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas and the contemplation required some serious chin tapping.
Ok, maybe Knox was not just along for the ride this year...he was happy as a clam as always.  The one exception has been the past week...we have all had a cold and he has not been his normally happy self. He finally got a good night's sleep last night and he was back to his cooing self today.  Now maybe his mommy and daddy will get a good night's sleep tonight!

I've been busy wrapping some gifts with these super cute yarn pom poms I learned to make on (where else) but Pinterest!  Basically you wrap the yarn around 4 fingers several times, slide off your hand and place in the middle of a short section of yarn that you then use to tie in the middle.  Next use your scissors to cut the loops on either side and that's it.  Easy and super fun.  I am one of those weird people that actually looks forward to wrapping gifts.  And the yarn is inexpensive and comes in lots of fun colors.  I especially like the red and white and lime and white that looks like baker's twine.

For classmate treats this year Parrish and I cut out and sewed kraft paper in fun Christmas shapes to form pouches filled with m&m's that his friends can rip into, then eat.  We put "Have a rip-roaring good Christmas" on the tags.  Parrish loved sitting in my lap and sewing...we experimented with different stitches and I let go of my need for perfection and just let him sew his where he wanted.  I love doing projects like this with him and I love seeing his creativity come out.  He has opinions on what color thread, shapes and stitches he likes, placement of stickers, etc.  I know the days of him being interested in doing these projects are coming to an end soon and I am cherishing each moment with him now.

Here's another picture of my jute webbing obsession.  I used it on my wreaths this year and attached old skeleton keys and my house numbers to hang from my front doors.

And I couldn't resist using it as a tree topper as well.  I'm telling you....this stuff has 1000 uses!

The picture below is a terrible one from my phone of my mantle.  I used an old "P" wreath form and wrapped it in yarn and Christmas lights then stuck in some cedar clippings.

Creativity is an outlet for me and something I enjoy very much, and I know a lot of you who read are the same, but I almost didn't post all of these "project" pictures today because I was convicted in my bible study this week that I have been too busy lately....not taking the time to enjoy the season and letting my to do list have all the control!  I loved that our leader said that BUSY is an acronym for "Being Under Satan's Yoke".  So true!  Satan loves nothing more than for us to be overwhelmed during this season that is supposed to be filled with peace and joy at the thought of the birth of the one who has saved us all.  When we're focused on our "to do" lists, we don't have the time to focus on the gift of Jesus and the hope he brought with him.  

  Our kids won't remember whether our house was decorated perfectly, but they will remember all of the fun times and traditions of the season.  They will remember us sitting down with them each day to read a bible verse and talk about Jesus's birth and life and to answer their questions.  They will remember baking baby Jesus a birthday cake with you each year or fun family outings to the ice skating rink or live nativity.  

So here's wishing you a season filled with peace, joy, and hope, and the ability to say "no" to your mile-long "to do" list in favor of family fun!  At our house just seeing this gummy smile can make it feel like Christmas morning every day.  Here's to the simple pleasures!  Merry Christmas to you and yours!