No Greater Joy

No Greater Joy

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Merry Christmas

It was such a wonderful Christmas again this year. As usual it seems the kids got everything they asked for and more. We still have one more Christmas to do at Grandma's tomorrow night, but the girls had a great day yesterday and today playing with all their new stuff! HEM's big present was a digital camera. She'd been asking for one for a while, and it is even purple! Other than that she got a lot of clothes, books, and girly stuff in general. EMM's big present was a box full of Tinker Bell stuff. She also got books, clothes, etc. GEM got what most 2 year old's like. Stuff for her baby doll, kitchen, and Little People, and books and games. The girls made daddy a Green Bay flannel tie blanket and the older two made a blanket for GEM, too. Daddy enjoyed some clothes, man toys, and yummy treats while I added some new Willow Trees to my collection.

God is good and we have certainly been blessed more than we deserve. The best is how thankful my girls are for all they receive. They don't seem to take it for granted and even the little gifts thrill them to pieces! They have never complained about what they receive. Tomorrow will be fun with grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins! I also hope to hear from my family back home that celebrated their Christmas together today!

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

It has been a very rainy day here in Iowa. We're just waiting for the rain to change over to snow. It looks like we'll have a white Christmas after all! I do believe this will be my first white Christmas! Usually we get snow before or after Christmas day, but not on Christmas day! I'm glad we have nowhere to go except our living room for a morning of festivities!

I thought I'd post pictures of the baking I've accomplished over the past 2 days and a few pictures from tonight as we open one present each as part of our Christmas tradition. I accomplished the making of buckeyes, Oreo balls (my favorite!), snickerdoodles, peanut butter blossoms, and the girls even made sugar cookies. I delivered plates of goodies to our neighbors in the rain this afternoon. That's my favorite part of making...sharing!! I also have a couple of pictures of the girls' Christmas presents they've made for their Canadian cousins. We're late with them, of course and there is still one more to be made. I helped with painting the letters on. The girls also made their daddy the Green Bay fleece tie blanket and I was thrilled that my hubby got me the "Close to Me" Willow Tree that I was wanting for my collection. :)

I'm certain to have another blog in the next day or so reflecting Christmas Day! Tonight I read with the girls another excerpt from David Jeremiah's book, Why the Nativity. We haven't gotten as far as I'd like in the book with all the craziness of our December nights, but tonight's was very appropriate as we read about the "lowly shepherds" visiting the royal baby Jesus. How ironic that among His first visitors would be those regarded as being of a lowly position, exactly who He most interacted with in His ministry.

Merry Christmas to all of you friends! May you celebrate the true reason for the season tomorrow.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Newest Family Member

We added a new member to the family today. This is Zoe. After weeks of going back and forth to the local humane society we finally found the cat we wanted. The girls all agreed on her and she was already named when we adopted her. She's just under 6 months old. She's a beautiful little cat. Spunky and loves to purr.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

The Struggles That Lie Ahead

I wasn't sure how to approach all that has been going on in my week. I have been constantly reminded of how important faith is and how mortal we really are.

I have been very excited about the Christmas season this year. I don't know why, but this year I feel more excited than I remember being last year. I have almost all of the gifts wrapped and placed under the tree already! I've been reading from "Why the Nativity" by David Jeremiah to the girls most nights this month as well to get their hearts in the right place for Christmas, too. As fun as the presents and time with cousins are, it pales in comparison to the ultimate gift of Jesus coming in the form of a man to live among us, to minister to us, and ultimately to die for us giving us opportunity to have everlasting life with Him. I have been feeling convicted and humbled at the same time by what the Word of God has to say about our lives here on this earth lately. Even as I look at all the wonderful gifts that we were able to buy for our family this year a part of me wonders what would happen if we didn't buy presents? What if instead we used the money towards our church, towards people in need? Would I or my family feel cheated or like we've gone crazy?! I would hope not! I would hope that it would draw more attention to Jesus and less attention to our worldly desires. I am not saying that I believe gift giving is no means...if you could see under my tree you'd know. :) I just wonder how many have thought of going without for the sake of others.

Anyway, I am beginning to run a tangent...

I have had a rough year dealing with the cancer diagnosis my grandmother received in June. The doctors gave her 6 months and maybe a few more months with treatment. Well, needless to say we're in December and she is still going! God has been good. She does get weaker and I can hear the weariness in her voice often when I talk with her. I don't dwell long on it because the fountain behind my eyes begins to leak. She has been a blessing to me in my life. As Christmas draws nearer my heart feels heavier as my desire to be with her just "one more time" deepens. Originally we were going to spend Christmas in Georgia this year because it has been many years since our last, but with my granmother's situation we decided to go in the summer when we could have 6 weeks instead of just one with her. Even if the Lord has her days numbered such that this is her last Christmas I know I cannot sorrow because I will be reunited with her in the future when I celebrate my homecoming to Heaven.

Last week I received more bad news that my step-grandfather (my step-mom's dad) has cancer. At this point there is very little to be done. I am not especially close to him, but I do think of him as family. He and his family have always treated me like I was part of the family. He is a very kind man, humorous, witty, and a little rough around the edges. It's why he's so likable. My heart breaks again for another impending loss in the coming year. I wish I could give my brother a hug as he faces the loss of a grandfather he loves so, and my step-mom who faces losing her father.

To combine with all this I have sort of mixed feelings about the phone call I received this week from my new nurse practitioner/midwife. I switched because I have felt something isn't right with my body, and my previous doctor's office was dismissive of me and told me I was healthy. I went to the ER last month, during church, feeling numbness in my hands and like I was going to pass out. Very scary stuff! I've also had some female issues I want checked out, but my previous care provider refused help stating I am getting older, not having more children, but could be back on birth control pills to be more "normal". I'm so glad I didn't listen to that! In the last few weeks I found out I have fibroid tumors. That explains part of my problem. I will also be doing hormone testing in the coming months, too. Then came the phone call where Rose (my new care provider) was looking through my records and noticed something odd with my bloodwork. On New Year's Eve I will be going to a hematologist. She suspects I may have something called polycythemia which means I have a high platelet count making my blood thicker and slower which could lead to blood clots. (So glad I didn't take the advice to be on the pill again.) I am happy someone is finally noticing what my body is doing yet a little scared at the possibilities that lie ahead. I am praying that whatever it is I am going through will be treatable and that it will not be passed down to my children.

This is one of my longer blogs...sorry! I am so thankful for the friends that have been willing to pray for me and my family. I was hesitant to blog this simply because I don't want it to come across as a woman needing attention or sympathy. I simply ask for prayers. I know God is so good and His ways are not mine. He has placed me on this journey for a reason and through this I will glorify Him, not myself, but Him. Those close to me know I am a woman of strong faith and conviction. All the decisions of our family's life revolve around our faith, not our jobs, money, or circumstance. Those things are trivial. God is eternal!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Family Pictures

Last month, just before the cold and snow finally hit, we decided to get family pictures done. We hadn't had family pictures done since GEM was a baby and I wanted to have pictures for Christmas cards. My dear friend Stef was kind enough to follow us around and arrange us at a local park for some cool shots. Here you go! Hope you enjoy!
She organized a beautiful collage for us.


My sweet HEM.

My lovely EMM.

My adoring GEM.

Daddy's girls.

This year's Christmas card photo.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day!

Two days ago I was talking to a friend on the phone and mentioning the upcoming snow storm we were expecting. We were talking about snow days and I told her my kids don't know what a snow day is. HEM heard me and said, "We know what snow days are, we just don't get them." Of course we got our snow storm yesterday through today. Schools are canceled and all activities are canceled so I told my kids to do one school subject and they could enjoy a snow day!! They were thrilled! We went outside and enjoyed building a snowman, making snow angels, and eating snow! Watching my kids enjoy themselves so much makes me feel like the luckiest mom in the world. They enjoy every minute of life. Sometimes I forget the simple things and make life harder than it needs to be, so I'm thankful for snow days (even though I don't really like the snow)!

In the background "O Holy Night" is playing and I hear the heat has kicked on in the house. GEM is down for a nap while the other two play in the basement. Sometimes I wish these days could last so much longer. Christmas is just around the corner! Snow days make a good time to slow down and reflect on many things. Just as the song is saying right now, "Christ is the Lord, O praise His name forever!" It is exactly what I look forward to doing the rest of my days and beyond. This may be my grandmother's last Christmas with us on earth. The reality of that becomes more recognizable to me every time I talk to her on the phone. Soon she will be celebrating her Savior and praising His name forever in His presence. For now I will do my best to appreciate my snow days and celebrations here from my home. :) I feel very blessed.