Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

We have had so much fun getting ready for Christmas and spending lots of time doing fun things as a family. Brian & I are enjoying a couple weeks off work so we can just relax, play and shop!

Our shopping this year has been different. I've known this in my heart, but I didn't start to "own" it until this year I think... the fact that giving gifts that are more than we can afford, in the name of "generosity" is actually very dishonoring to God. Our money is not our money... it is God's and nothing pleases Him more than obedience. "To obey is better than sacrifice..." (I Sam. 15:22). Displeasing my Savior is not worth the temporary satisfaction of knowing the gift we gave was the biggest & best. I am such a people-pleaser and Brian's love language is gifts, so it has been hard for both of us to accept this truth. Even now as I type, I'm planning to return a few things tomorrow that we bought that were not good stewardship of our money.

Brian & I have some very different opinions about things this time of year and it always gives us a lot of good conversations during Christmas-time that sometimes end with us agreeing to disagree. Thankfully we agreed this year that we would try to emphasize GIVING and try to minimize GETTING so our kids will hopefully not get so caught up in all the "me, me, me." Easier said than done. I feel like we've already failed. It's not too late, it's only the 22nd. We still have a few days to try to save this Christmas from being one more Christmas down the drain of commercialism, consumerism and greed.

One thing we've done that has been good is What God Wants for Christmas. Thanks Mom for this great idea. If you are looking for a hands-on way to share the Christmas story with young kids, this is a simple way. We are opening one box per night for 7 nights. The two older girls have been taking turns opening the boxes each night. Tonight it was Tatum's turn to open box 4. The past few nights we've opened Gabriel, Mary & Joseph. Avery has been saying all day she hoped tonight would not be baby Jesus, because she wanted to be the one to open that one. She started crying when Tatum opened up box 4 and sure enough, there was sweet baby Jesus inside! Thankfully God has blessed Tatum with a wonderful sharing heart and she sweetly let Avery hold baby Jesus right after she pulled him out of the box. Anyway I'm thankful for this new little tradition we've started that gets our focus on Jesus, even if it's just for 10 minutes each night.

We've also done alot of driving around looking at Christmas lights. We saw one house last week that pretty much ruined every other house & neighborhood in all of Houston. It was amazing. If you live in Houston, email me and I'll give you directions. Your Christmas will not be complete without driving by this house!

Yes, that was all ONE house! I heard they are the developers of Memorial City Mall, which is my favorite mall in the whole world, so you can tell they have good taste (all the candy, hehe!)

I am overwhelmed with joy at this life I live. I sometimes sit back and reflect on who I am and what life I lead and I have to catch my breath when I realize this is me. Me, the little girl who had so many big dreams. I am where I've always wanted to be. The life I am living out each day is truly my dream life. My heart is filled to the brim with love for my Lord Jesus for giving me this life, for my husband & kids for being the fulfillment of my dreams, for this house and all that is in it for making this lifestyle all work, for my family for being behind the scenes supporting us in so many ways, for my friends adding laughter & companionship as we journey through life.

My oldest friend Bekah is having her first baby tomorrow morning by C-section. It's a girl and her name will be Aubrey. Bek & I drank from sippy cups together when we were tiny. We have a picture of us when we were probably about one year old sitting together in a big recliner and another picture of us graduating from kindergarten together and of course, many pictures of us growing up and graduating from high school together. I can't wait to get to SA next week to hold that little girl and see my sweet Bekah as a momma! My second oldest friend, Brooke, had her first baby boy Charlie, a couple weeks ago. Brooke & I became friends in kindergarten. She's in NY now so I don't know when I'm going to meet Charlie, but I already love him so much. My college roommate had her second baby last week, a boy named Judah. Kristin & her twin Kelly, were my roomies at A&M. I always watched their friendship as sisters and was amazed by it. There is just something about sisters that amazes me. And those two are some of the sweetest, most genuine sisters I've ever known. Oh and I've been friends with them since elementary school too.

So much joy in those families that I have known my whole life. So much sadness in other families right now. A couple different friends & family going through great physical pain & uncertainty, others who are in very difficult financial circumstances, family members missing the ones we've lost in the past year, co-workers & students who desperately need JESUS to show them the reason they are here, the list goes on.

Lord Jesus, let us not be like the innkeepers at the time of your birth.... Let us all make room for You this Christmas... Let us not get lost in the world's ideas of shopping, eating, watching TV, forgetting You... May the cry of a new precious baby boy born 2000 years ago awaken our hearts throughout these next few days and may we praise You as we celebrate this wonderful time of the year.... You alone are our hope.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Happy December!

I could not wipe the stupid grin off my face yesterday. I tried, but to no avail. The white flakes of snow falling from the sky in Houston made me feel so happy, I forgot all about the rude emails I just got at work and the soreness that will not leave my throat no matter how much nyquil I take and the never-ending mess that is my house right now. All of it forgotten. We were with some friends for Bible study yesterday and the kids had so much fun having snow ball fights and pretending like they were northerners for a few hours.

Look at all the snow on my windsheild! I called Martin to tell him about it and he scolded me for not having an ice scraper (or whatever that tool is called). Ha! Look at the trees and the roofs of the houses! I still can't believe how beautiful it was!

Tatum's first snowball!

Laney did not like the snow that much, maybe because her negligent mother forgot her shoes, so she's in her socks! Don't worry, I only let her sit there for about 10 seconds. Thank you Lord for blessing Houston with a little taste of real winter. WE LOVED IT!

We went to SA for Thanksgiving last week and had a great time relaxing and being taken care of by my family for a few days. The girls all got a stomach bug for about 24 hours each, but thankfully they were troopers and we still had a fun time. Mom, Avery & I got to go see The Nutcracker downtown put on by a professional ballet company. It was beautiful to watch the dancers in all thier costumes and doing such amazing things on the tips of their toes! I will never understand how that is humanly possible, but it is beautiful to watch. Avery enjoyed it so much and still talks about the nutcracker and the mouse king and the sugar plum fairy almost every day. My brother's girlfriend, Tracie, gave our girls the most awesome gift: a computer loaded with all kinds of educational games that her kids had outgrown! Tracie sat down with Avery and showed her some of the games on it and Avery was in heaven! It is now set up next to our computer here in our study and Avery can come sit at the desk and turn it on and go to town all by herself! What an unexpected, amazing blessing!

This is about as good as it gets for a family picture of us!

Heres Nana & Papa with the girls

Here's my MeMe & PawPaw with the girls. Laney has MeMe's eyes, which are also my Dad's eyes. She's a "Lewis." I love how genetics works.

My mom MADE these adorable PJ's for the girls, with matching pillowcases for each one too!

Tatum has been doing really good at keeping her pull-ups dry so we ventured out to Target today in big girl panties and she did great! I am so proud of her and I am so glad that I'm only paying for diapers for one child now. That is another blessing, that I am JUST NOW paying for diapers again. Back before Laney was born, Brian's baseball team gave us a diaper shower (click here to see that post), and those diapers lasted us until about two weeks ago when Laney was 10 months old, I had to buy our first box of diapers again. Brian and I estimated it was probably almost $1000 worth of diapers and wipes we were given. We have thanked God so many times for that amazing blessing.

My little pee pee princess!

This girl knows how to enjoy a cupcake!

Laney is officially weaned. I must admit it has been a bittersweet experience. I am thrilled that she will take a bottle now and I can leave her with someone else for more than 3 hours at a time, but I am sad because it means she's not a baby anymore. She is growing up so fast. She has already taken her first steps, although I wouldn't say she is walking. I think she will figure out walking any day now. I had to put away the 12 month clothes last week and get her 18 month things out. She is almost too big for size 3 diapers so I am going to finish this box and move her into size 4, which is the same size Tatum wears to bed. I took her to the doc last week and she weighed 22 pounds! She had a double ear infection, poor thing, so we got some antibiotics and she is doing alot better. Here she is showing off her two top teeth! Sorry for the snotty nose!

Silvermist and Tinkerbell had lots of fun helping decorate our new house for Christmas!

One night last week when I was tripping over all the pairs of shoes that were all over the downstairs, I asked Avery to pick up all the shoes and put them by the stairs so we could all take them up before bed that night. I thought she would just pile them up at the bottom of the stairs, which would've been fine, but this is what I found when I walked by the stairs later on. Can you say OCD? They are arranged in order too. Her furry boots are at the top, I guess because they are special. Then Daddy's shoes are on the next step, Mama's shoes are on the next step and all the rest of the girls' shoes are all on the last step. I know God will use her organized, systematic little gifts for a special purpose one day!

Off to work on Christmas cards, and to call my dear friend, Jennifer, for her birthday today! Hope it's been a wonderful day, Jen! Your friendship encourages me more than you will ever know and we are going to take that birthday vacation together when we're 35, okay!? Let's start planning now!