Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires...courage.
-
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 31, 2009

I can't believe it's the last day of the year...

We just got home on Tuesday and it's been a whirlwind! Karl's birthday was yesterday, so we slept late(well, he did), had a big breakfast, played Wii for hours on end, made and ate birthday cake, and took Karl out for dinner. Overall a great day....and I think he enjoyed it too.

Today, we spent the morning in but ended up going out for lunch, then to get groceries. I do not recommend shopping on New Year's Eve afternoon, at least not in our location. Traffic was crazy and the store was packed. It was a bit difficult getting down the aisles with six people....Karl eventually took all the kids outside to the car while I finished. But, we had to get our New Year's Eve goodies.....cocktail sausages, a cheese ball, some eggnog...you know, all the regular stuff. ;)

Now, Logan and Hailey(Corbin is already in bed) are watching Karl play Ratchet & Clank on his new Playstation 3. That was my gift to him for Christmas. He was very excited....for the games he can play, but also because we can watch Netflix movies on it and blue ray discs, which he's been talking about getting for a while. We will play some board or card games, play the Wii, possibly watch a movie, eat some more snacks, and watch the ball drop to celebrate the coming of 2010....I'm not sure how long these two will hang in there, but we're gonna let them try.

Upon reflection, 2009 really has been a wonderful year. I feel so blessed that Karl not only has a job, but one that he truly enjoys; we've had the opportunity this year (as in past years) to live in different places and meet wonderful people; we've expanded our family and I cannot express my gratitude for our beautiful, sweet baby girl...it's overwhelming, the love I feel from my Father. He's bestowed such sweet joy upon me and my family, and many times we don't even appreciate it.....but I do today and I'm counting the many blessings of this year as I sit cozy with my family, in this beautiful home He has provided for us. I love my husband and my kids, and I can't wait to see what God's plan is for us in 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Christmas Travels

Today Karl, Emma, and I leave for our Christmas vacation. We will stop in at his parents' home for the night, then tomorrow morning we will leave and drive the rest of the way to Alabama. We're really looking forward to seeing all of our family members, but our kids especially! It will be a long day of driving, but with only one child to get in and out of the car our stops should go more quickly. We will be so ready to get there.....

I won't be around to blog until we've returned....somewhere near December 30th. I'll be too busy filling up on all my holiday favorites, drinking coffee and hot cocoa, and loving on my kids. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas....we plan to!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Christmas Devotion

Here is a devotional that a Facebook friend of mine posted on her wall and I just had to place it here for all of you. I hope it gives you as much hope today as it has given me!

WORDS OF LIFE Devotional....

Crisis Pregnancy by Kevin H. Grenier

"The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child...'" (Luke 1:30-31a) Imagine what it would be like to be a teenage girl who suddenly finds out she is pregnant. Although the people in her small town love her, people are people. Soon the young lady’s reputation is ruined as everyone gossips and speculates about who the father is. To make matters worse, her boyfriend decides that since he is not the father, he is going to break up with her. So there she is, scorned, ridiculed and abandoned. All of this because Mary, the mother of Jesus, said, “I am the Lord’s servant,” when the angel appeared to her. At first, Mary was able to visit her cousin, Elizabeth and avoid the negative attention in Nazareth. But when she was just over three months along, Mary had to return home. Of course, as the weeks went by it became more and more obvious that she was pregnant. Mary tried to explain what happened, but it comes as no surprise that no one believed her. The fact that she claimed God made her pregnant added to the scorn and ridicule she experienced. Everyone in town, even her family members, must have been wondering what it was that sent her off the deep end. They also began to wonder about Joseph, too, when he decided to stay engaged to Mary. Was he as crazy as she was? Or was he really the father of the child? After a few months, Joseph told Mary that they had to travel to Bethlehem. The Roman emperor required all men to go to their family’s home for the census. At first, getting out of town may have been a welcome relief. In place of the emotional struggles, though, came physical ones. Mary had to travel over sixty miles on rough paths and hills on the back of a donkey, lurching back and forth with each step – all this when she was at least eight months pregnant. Finally in Bethlehem, Mary suffered the indignity of giving birth in an animal stall. She was inexperienced and far from home. None of her female friends and family members were there to help. Instead, Mary may have been assisted by Joseph or perhaps some of his distant relatives. There, in a barn, the ordeal of the past nine months came to an end with the birth of a baby boy! As Mary looked into the face of this little baby, all the pain she had experienced may have melted away as a wave of deep, maternal love spread over her. A baby! What a joy to hold and cuddle this precious new life! Perhaps, too, as she held her child, Mary also contemplated what it meant to give birth to the Son of God. But could she even begin to grasp the future that was stretching out before her? It would be an odd mixture of the typical and the heavenly. She would cook meals and care for her husband and child. She would also be visited by foreign dignitaries, hear stories from shepherds and avoid King Herod’s soldiers by fleeing to Egypt. As the years progressed, there would be times of extraordinary joy, deep confusion and intense anguish. It would all be capped off with a resurrection – an event that probably filled Mary’s heart with great joy and wonder, but may have left her with even more questions about what in the world God was doing. The courage Mary showed before the Nativity would be needed time and time again throughout her life. Sadly, we often lose sight of the courage of this young girl amidst the familiarity of the Christmas story. We forget all the struggles she faced and we fool ourselves into thinking that straw is a nice bed, not scratchy and uncomfortable. Mary was ridiculed, rejected, scorned and mistreated - and all of this came upon her after the angel proclaimed to her that she had found favor with God! Mary’s experience reminds us that God’s favor does not equal our comfort. Rather, His favor results in glory. Her story also teaches us that we may be going through the most difficult time in our life and still be exactly in the center of God’s plan. The struggles we face do not mean that we have been abandoned by God or that He does not love us. God more often chooses to enable us to rise above our circumstances, not avoid them. Certainly, His love does not go away even in the midst of great difficulties. A young peasant girl in Galilee endured shame and ridicule, was misunderstood by everyone around her, and experienced great physical discomfort. You and I experience the blessings that resulted from her faithfulness. No wonder Scripture presents Mary as a role model for us to follow.

This Week The secret to Mary’s success, and the secret to our success, is a deep trust in what God has said to us – even when circumstances scream in our ears the opposite message. So this Christmas, let’s draw hope and strength from the Nativity. Let’s marvel together at the great courage and faith of a young lady whom God favored with a difficult life on earth and eternal honor in heaven.

Prayer “Father, thank you that Mary chose servanthood over comfort and rebuke over reputation. Thank you for her example of self-sacrifice and obedience. Lord, I pray the you would grant me the grace to walk before you as nobly and faithfully as she did. May I, too, be found faithful to you regardless of the path you call me to walk. Amen.”

Kevin Grenier is the author of several books, including Undone: The Why and How of Being in the Presence of God. Learn more at GatheringHisPeople.org.

Excerpt from http://www.lifetoday.org/.

Friday, December 18, 2009

When it rains, it pours

We've all heard the saying that I used as my post title. "When it rains it pours"....people usually say this when they are talking about the problems in their lives, whether it's medical issues, rebellious teenagers, financial issues, etc. Things don't just come one at a time in life. During those tough times, we need a place to go. Sometimes physically, often mentally, and always spiritually.

It's been raining here, this is the third day I think. Strangely, as much as I always hated the thunderstorms when we lived in Florida before, it's been kind of nice to experience the rain....it's still warm outside so the rain is actually refreshing versus freezing and uncomfortable like it is in NY when it rains in the winter. Plus, there really has been no thunder or lightening in our area, so that helps immensely. ;)

I recently wrote a note on Facebook about the word shelter. Many people think it is wrong to 'shelter' our children. I disagree. Here is a copy of what I wrote there:

A recent conversation has me thinking about this word. I see the word shelter as a good thing...it means protection, something or Someone to keep you safe, out of the storm. God is described as our strong shelter in the Bible.

Psalm 31:20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues.

Psalm 31:20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues.

Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Isaiah 4:6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

There are many more verses, those are just a few. But they all speak of it as protection, not as if it will do harm to us to be sheltered. As parents, we provide shelter for ourselves (homes) and for our kids (keeping them from harm, housing, providing good influences vs. bad), and for others who may visit with us. We offer a safe place to stay, someplace comfortable....so, my difficulty is the 'bad rap' that this word has. The world today tells us not to 'shelter' our kids. Call me naive, and some do, but I WANT to shelter my kids because I just don't see it as a bad thing. I want someone to provide shelter for me when and if I need it....I don't want to be 'left out in the rain' so to speak, be it literally or otherwise. Here are the definitions that are found at www.dictionary.com.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/shelter

I agree that as our kids get older we need to let them experience more things, and that they need to be prepared to enter the world and know how to deal with people, temptations, etc. when they do. However, I do not agree that letting them experience some of those 'things' and 'people', etc. at a young age will have a good influence on them. Quite the contrary. I know from experience that if we are not diligent in providing shelter for our children, even ourselves, it is that much easier to make the wrong choice.....and those choices can and do have a life-long impact. I want my kids to have a strong foundation, and I see shelter as just one of many things that are necessary to meet that goal. What do you all think? I am sure we all have widely varying opinions, and I see no harm in voicing those here. However, let's be nice. No attacks on others, please.

As we've been experiencing these days of rain, and as my parents, kids, cousins, and uncles have been dealing with pouring rain in Alabama, I've been pondering this word shelter. I am so thankful that my family has always had a safe place to live, that God has always provided appropriate shelter for us. He's provided my husband a great job that takes care of us financially and we have been blessed beyond measure. Where do we go in the midst of a storm? Inside a shelter....whether it be our home, under a tent, into our cars....we seek protection from the rain, the lightening, the wind. Why? We don't want to get wet....it makes us cold and uncomfortable. We don't want to get struck by lightening, as we all know the dangers in that. The wind blows us around, keeps us off course and from reaching our destination. A shelter keeps us comfortable, safe, and on course. Physically, we all see the value in that.

Why is it that when we begin to speak of 'sheltering our children' people get offended? It means protection! How is it wrong to offer protection for our children? I find it is necessary physically, spiritually, and mentally. I am glad that I shelter my children. They are naive and I have no problem with that. Why do they need to be so mature and grow up too fast? As a mother I teach them what I think they can handle, that which will help them and not harm them. Whether it be academically, physically, or spiritually. We are fast approaching a time, at least in my older two kids' lives, where they will no longer be innocent. I am not going to rush it. I am doing what I feel God has called me to do as a parent, and I cannot ignore His direction. He wants us also to run to Him for shelter, protection, so He can wrap us in His arms and keep us safe from all that life throws at us. Would anyone refuse protection if they needed it? Unfortunately, some would, but I'm not going to. And I'm not going to refuse to offer the same protection, shelter, to my children as it's needed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shopping, Cleaning, Organizing, & Relaxing

We arrived home on Saturday. Overall, Emma did well on the flights out to Virginia and back. She's not used to being held when she sleeps, rather being placed in her bed at nap time, so she fussed a little because she was tired. Otherwise, she was great.

Since we've arrived home, we've almost completed our Christmas shopping. I love to go out into the stores and find gifts for people, and sometimes even make gifts. However, since we were moving and unpacking, then went to VA for a week, I haven't had a lot of time for that. So, I've done almost ALL of my shopping this year online. I've never done that for Christmas before, and it's really been convenient. I don't think I could have accomplished all the things I have without it. I may look to the Internet more in the future. It's just not practical for me to go out all the time to get gifts for birthdays, Christmas, etc. with all 4 kids, especially since they aren't really into shopping. Plus, it's hard to concentrate, even when they're behaving...and I can't get gifts for them if they're with me. So, all around a good deal.

I decided, since the kids aren't here this week, to try to get some cleaning and organizing done, as well as chore and school schedule planning. I was able to sit down this morning and get a lot done on the chore and school schedules. I still have some things to figure out....like which chores we'll do and whether it will be individual or together. I think we'll have a wash day, a bathrooms day, a floors day....you understand, I'm sure. My main goal in all of this is to get something workable that we can actually stick to and accomplish all that we need to each day. I also have to decide who will do which chores....Corbin needs to take on some more since he's older now and there are more that he's capable of doing. That will free me up to accomplish things, like laundry, on which I'm always behind!

Karl has been working hard on his school work. A new quarter (his last) just started this week. It seems like it's kind of a heavy load this quarter, but I know he can balance it. Then, in March he graduates and he'll have his Masters.

Even with all of that, we've had plenty of time to relax. I've missed the kids, and actually am really missing them now that it's been over a week since I've seen them! But, it has also been interesting to cook only for 2, to listen to how quiet it is with just us here. It's strange....I have truly come to appreciate all of the many chores they do each day to help out. Karl and I are taking up the slack while they're gone and it's definitely more work, though at least there are fewer clothes and dishes to be washed. I'm going to make sure I let them know they were missed, for their contributions chore wise to the family and just having them around.

I don't have much else to say right now, except this. If you're reading this family members, and you see my kids, give them a hug for me and tell them their Mama loves them!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our VA stay

We arrived in Virginia on Sunday afternoon. It's a bit chilly here, but it's been pretty most of the time. We drove around a bit on Monday morning, going downtown to check out the Historic District. It was interesting to see the buildings, but we didn't go to any museums or anything....Karl needed to get back to go to work in the afternoon. Emma and I have just been enjoying being together during the day and going to dinner with Karl at night. We're close enough to a few restaurants to be able to walk out for breakfast or lunch. Yesterday Karl left me the car, so we ventured out to do a little shopping. I've spent a lot of time reading while Emma has napped, we've toured the hotel, and today we did laundry so we can go home with clean clothes. It doesn't sound very exciting I know, but it's been nice to just have time to focus on each other. Knowing the other kids are with my parents, spending some special time, has been good. I'm glad we all got to do this.

We leave on Saturday to go back to Florida, and we'll spend the next week there just the three of us. Then sometime the next weekend we will head to Alabama for Christmas with my family. We're looking forward to seeing all of them, as well as the members of Karl's family.

Most of our Christmas shopping is done, though we do need to finish up shopping for the kids and a couple of other family members. I love Christmas....it's so much fun to go out (or shop online as I've done this year) and find something I think will be a good 'fit' for each person. I don't want anyone to ever feel they have to reciprocate....receiving a gift from me does not mean I expect one from you!

Unfortunately we still haven't gotten a family picture done, so maybe family and friends can expect a photo in the new year.

Until later....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Yet another update on our 'settling in''

We've gotten most of the boxes unpacked...still a few things to organize in the garage. Our bedroom needs a little work too. Otherwise, we are officially 'moved in' and I'm so glad! We started school, kind of....but now we'll be taking some more time off due to a trip Karl and I are taking to Virginia (a business trip for him...Emma and I are going along for the ride). My parents came to stay with the kids while we go. They were supposed to arrive tomorrow, but I received an early call Wednesday morning with my mom telling me they were here now. A great surprise! We've just been hanging out together since they got here.

We leave Sunday for VA. Originally, the kids and my parents were all going to stay here. However, I think my parents want to take the kids back to Alabama with them when they leave. My mom even mentioned this morning, that if they decide to do it, they may leave on Sunday too and keep them at their house instead of here. The final decision still has to be made but I'm pretty sure it's gonna happen. Which means Karl, Emma, and I will be on our own from Dec. 6 until we get to Alabama near Christmas, probably around Dec. 23. It's been quite a LONG time since I've been away from my kids for that long! I am confident that we will all be fine....well, not sure about Nana and PawPaw's sanity! ;) I'm not so sure we'll know what to do with ourselves for 2 weeks with only one child to play with, teach, etc. I might even get organized, oh my! I definitely plan to work on our new chore chart and schedule so we can get right to work when we return after Christmas. We already have some catching up to do and this will mean more. Hailey and Logan are going to take their math and English with them, and Corbin his words from his reading book, so they can at least do the basics a few days a week. It will be a fun time for them, I'm sure.

We're all looking forward to seeing our cousins, aunts, and uncles in Alabama during our visit. I know everyone is anxious to see Emma and how she's changed, too. Only a few short weeks from now....

Well, gotta go. I need to find out if Mom is ready to go shopping (our 'Wal-mart run' of course!). I'll be back soon.