Wednesday, December 25, 2013

His message...

Can you hear it? His message to the shepherds is His message to us today. “You will find a baby lying in a manger. You will find my love where you least expect it. You will find me in the mud, in the muck, in the dirt. And in the mess of your sin and the hurt of this life, I will find you.” - Katie Davis

This Christmas - no matter how imperfect you feel,
no matter how chaotic the day was with family,
or how much sin is weighing you down…
may his LOVE envelope you wherever you are.

P.S.  (If you haven't read Katie's book "Kisses From Katie," you have to check it out! I have a copy if anyone wants to borrow it - such an inspiring story about a young girl who literally leaves her "normal" life behind for what she feels like God is calling her to. So many AMAZING insights and interpretations from a brave young woman with an incredible heart!)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cookie Decorating Fun and a Little Early Christmas Celebration

We had our 8th annual cookie decorating party at my cousin Chasity's house. It's so fun to look back through the photos and see how much the kids have grown…and what new one's have been added:) Chas is such an amazing host - and has all the cookies and decorations ready to go when we get there! Each child gets about 6 sugar cookies or so to decorate however they want!

We also had a chance to get a few self-timer photos of our family while we had all the snow a few weeks ago! I LOVED being snowed in with my kiddos - so much fun and lots of memories made!! We even made our first-ever batch of snow ice cream:)

Last night, we had a early Christmas celebration at my mom and dad's. My mom always goes above and beyond when it comes to the meal - we had salad, filet mignon, twice baked potatoes, green beans, homemade mac-n-cheese, rolls with homemade cinnamon butter, and cherry delight for dessert. I literally couldn't move after eating:) Then we took some family photos and traded gifts. I love how thoughtful everyone was with their gifts…I am so blessed with an amazing family. We had such a joy-filled evening!

One celebration down…three to go:)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gift guide 2013

Since I've been stuck at home for close to 72 hours now (don't let me fool you, I've enjoyed every second), I've spent my time decorating, watching Christmas movies with the kids, and wrapping all the gifts I have purchased. I usually go a little overboard with the presents…I just can't help it! I find so much joy in picking out the "perfect" gift for everyone…I spend hours and hours researching different gifts and comparing prices. I probably enjoy the whole process a little too much:)

I do 90% of my shopping online. With a full time job and two small children, it is VERY rare for me to have a free day to go shopping. So for the last few years, I have found it easier to save things that I find throughout the year online at or Then when it is time to begin Christmas shopping, I already have a good head-start!  

Of course I don't want to give anyone any clues to what I purchased for them this year - but I thought I would do 3 categories: gifts for women (mom, sister, sis-in-law), gifts for men (husband, dad, brother-in-law), and the kiddos! Here is a quick gift guide for Christmas 2013, just click on the photo description to follow the link:

And now for the kids…

Just a few fun ideas - I would love to know some of yours:) I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fall Leaves & an 8th Bday Celebration!

It's been very busy around here...but we have snuck in a few moments of peacefulness here and there. The leaves this Fall have been so gorgeous and I can't help but notice the vibrant colors around our home. We took a little walk last weekend (although Max wasn't along because he was at his dad's)...and I'm so glad I grabbed my camera and snapped lots of photos along the way!

I caught Daddy and his girl enjoying apples from the apple tree and having a long conversation - these two have such an amazing can feel the love pass between them!

We also got to celebrate Max's 8th birthday with a football themed party and 8 of his closest friends! His parties have always been so long as I have food for the boys to eat and lots of drinks to keep them hydrated, they want to play outside and just do their own thing! They played basketball, flashlight tag, and football. I think they all had a great time...but you know boys, I couldn't get much out of them! Mr. Maxwell was on cloud nine...after everyone left that evening he was so exhausted and even asked to go to bed! That never happens!!

Happy Birthday, my sweet little man! 
I can't even imagine that Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. I've started shopping and have Christmas lists for everyone...this is such a joy-filled time of year!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Praising and Pumpkin Painting...

A few hours ago I watched my son get in the car with his father and drive away. I had only gotten to see him for fifteen minutes when I got home from work. Max seemed pale and quiet...I worry over him and ask him lots of questions - it's been a long and exhausting week and I'm afraid he could be coming down with something. But I had to watch him leave and he is out of my sight...but not my mind. Parenting is an unending cycle of overwhelming joy and gut-wrenching worry. It's terrifying and exhilarating...complicated to say the least. 

Thank goodness not everything is complicated. 
Last Sunday at church, our preacher spoke about one such thing...something that isn't complex and confusing. 
Following Jesus. 
Nothing about following Jesus has to be complicated. Psalms 150 simply states "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!"
As I feel Fall wrapping around me, it is so easy to see God's creation praising the Lord...the thunder, the lightening, trees with their changing leaves, water bubbling in the stream, rain on the roof. When everything around me tangles up and life seems to be in knots - I simply need to praise the Lord. That's it. 
I'm a follower of Jesus and I will praise His name. No matter the situation, no matter the fear. I will stop what I am doing and praise Him. It is as simple as that. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fall 2013

Life has been flying by...
only slowing down here and there for moments of celebration, sadness, or counting blessings. 
We celebrated my little cousin's wedding - Lauren and Zack were married on the most gorgeous Saturday we've had all year. It was so relaxed and laid-back...much like Lauren herself. The whole wedding party spent most of the day at my mom and dad's - taking pictures, snacking, and just celebrating the love shared between these two! Lauren was so very full of joy all day long - it was a beautiful wedding and the reception was a blast! 

The next day, on Sunday morning, a young man who graduated from Barr-Reeve last year was in a terrible accident and passed away. I had watched him grow up during my 11 years teaching at BR - as well as his brother and sisters. Everything seemed to come to a standstill and it was such an emotionally  draining week for the whole community. My heart breaks for Brandon's family...losing a son is the worst possible thing I can imagine happening. There is nothing to say that would help...nothing to do that would change what has happened. Seeing the pain in his parents' eyes was unbearable...sadness overwhelms me. 

So here I am again...asking God to forgive me for letting work overwhelm me, being impatient with my precious kiddos, short with my husband. It seems like I would eventually learn, doesn't it? But HE doesn't get annoyed with me...listens each time I ask for forgiveness, loves me thru the layers of sin. 
He gently reminds me to find patience and never miss a moment with my sweet family. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

St. Louis

We don't travel often. 
I'm kind of a hermit...seriously - I would rather be home than anywhere else.  But I want my kiddos to have all kinds of different experiences, so I have to go out of my comfort zone and just suck it up! 
Gabe is the total opposite - he LOVES to go anywhere and everywhere. He always says that when we get old he wants to buy an RV and travel the world...which actually sounds like torture to me. It's so funny that we are complete opposites that found each other and fell in love. He pushes me to come out of my shell and try new things...while I try to show him the comforts of home and relaxation. 

So this past weekend we traveled to St. Louis with Gabe's family to take the kids to the zoo. We left Friday after everyone got off of work, and got to the hotel around 9 pm. The next morning we got up early and went to the zoo, to try to beat the heat...we knew it was supposed to get super hot that day. The zoo was really, really nice with lots of new experiences for the kids - and they loved it! It was very fun - if you don't count the countless restroom breaks with a potty-training toddler (Callie is officially wearing panties), the 103 degree heat, the constant sweating....and by 2 pm we were all DONE. 

After a few hours of rest, we went to an early dinner and to explore the local mall. Because of not wanting to have stomach issues during the day - I hadn't eaten all day and was out in that heat all day...let's just say that those two things didn't mix well and I got SUPER the mall. I left the kids with Gabe and his family, and literally ran out of the mall. I thought I was either going to faint or puke...just didn't know which. I sat in the car with my face in the air conditioning until Gabe came to my rescue! We went and got me a snack, and then headed back to the hotel for me to go straight to bed. 

I felt much better the next day - and we decided to head to Grant's Farm. It is a sweet little place that has lots of animals, a little tram that you ride everywhere, and gorgeous Clydesdale horses. We spent the day exploring and eating yummy snow cones...and then headed home in the afternoon. Although we had a few snags (getting sick, seeing enough public restrooms for a lifetime, worn out kids) we really did have a great time and enjoyed spending time with Gabe's family. Our life isn't perfect...but we are perfectly blessed!!