Sunday, December 30, 2012

Giving of Life Grant

I wanted to share an update of where we are with the Giving of Life Grant for Beyond Survival and the Abandoned Baby Home Makeover.

We are so excited to see that not only have we raised the $1,000 to receive the matching grant, but our project is currently in second place!!

Thank you so much for all of you who have donated towards this project.  I can say, without a doubt, that I cannot think of a better way for year-end donations.

Robyn and Gerry are following the calling of God on their lives to care for babies who have been abandoned and discarded.  Rick has spent time with them.  He has been to their home.  He has heard their hearts and seen their passion for this calling.  We believe in what they are doing and want to be a part in any way we can.

There are two more days to vote or donate towards this project.  I would love to see us take the number one spot as we close out this campaign!

If you would like to vote or donate, go here:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Festivities 2012

We decided years ago that waking up in our own house on Christmas morning is very important to us.  So, traveling is something we prefer not to do at Christmas.  We could change our mind at some point, but for now, this seems to really work for our family.  We have traditions that we celebrate throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  

Rick had to be at church most of the day for the 4 Christmas Eve services that were held.  In the past, this really bothered me.  With a couple of years off church staff, and a different perspective, I didn't really mind making that sacrifice.  Many people have to work on Christmas Eve.  At least he was doing a job that we are both passionate about and called to.

We joined him for the first service at 12:00.  Can I just say how much I LOVED this service.  It was probably one of the best ever for me.  The little kids got to wear their jammies and take blankets and pillows.  I love that idea!!  The service began with so much excitement that it just brought tears to my eyes.  I just kept thinking, "Wow, we are really celebrating Jesus' birth."  It started with a big "Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday, Jesus" from some children in the spotlight on stage.  The lights were down, the music began and kids just started running down the aisles to the stage shouting and cheering.  In the middle aisle, there were drums set up with fake snow on them.  The spotlights highlighted that each time they were hit, snow flew up in the air.  The stage was full of instruments and singers.  There was even a banjo and mandolin.  It was so awesome.  Way to Go Mountain Springs Church!!  
My family as I looked down the row!
 The worship was awesome!

 After a message from Pastor Steve, the service ended in candlelight.  Even the kids got to participate with glow sticks.  LOVED IT!!
 Our family pic by the big tree
 The kids and I left to head home.  The girls and I worked all afternoon on foods for that night and Christmas Day.  I could not have done it all without Lauren and Abby and all of their help.  Rick got home and our Christmas Eve traditions began.  We had our dinner of appetizers!
 On Christmas Eve night, the kids get to open their ornament and their Secret Santa gift(the kids drew names and bought kids for the sibling they drew).  Each year, I get them an ornament that represents something about them or their year.  Lauren got to go first since she won the cookie decorating competition.  
Lauren's ornament says, "I do my own stunts."  There was a cast on the same leg and arm that she had a cast on this last year.  I was so excited when I found this one.
 Laila's said, "Let's Dance" since she is the dancer of the family
 Isaiah's had a world, a cross, and John 3:16 since he asked Jesus into his heart this year!
 Abby's ornament has braces
 Sam got a football ornament that said, "Super Sam" for his first season of football
 Cody got a wrestling ornament
 Rick got this frying pan with bacon and eggs since he makes our 
Saturday morning big breakfasts for the family
 Before bed, cookies were put out for Santa
 On Christmas morning, the kids come to our room at 7:30.  They put on their Christmas jammies because I don't want to risk them ruining them during the night.  Then, we read the Christmas story and pray together before we head downstairs.
Before any presents are opened, we have to take pics
 The staged picture
 The real picture
 Next up, is stockings.  I love stockings.  There are so many fun things to find in them.
 Santa always puts a dollar in the very bottom

 Guess who got fun socks?
 I usually get the oven started so our big breakfast can be cooking while we open gifts. The kids join together to hand out the presents.
 Sam had to crawl under the tree to get everything.
 It was 9:30 before we were finished.  I am a big proponent of opening gifts one at a time.  I want to make the experience last longer, and I want us all to enjoy what each person gets.
The aftermath
 At about 10:00 we had our Christmas morning brunch:  Country Ham, Biscuits, Garlic Cheese Grits, Mandarin Orange Salad, Scrambled Eggs, and Chocolate Milk.  
 Lauren and her rapper 'tude
 The rest of the day was spent wearing jammies, playing with Christmas gifts, and my favorite, a Christmas nap!!  We even got to skype with Papa and Grammy!  Christmas night was spent with our meal of Fajitas Fa Jesus!
Rick got to grill in the snow this year!
 Our friend Julie joined us for our dinner!!
We had a time of opening gifts with Julie afterwards.  She brought the perfect gift for each of us!!  We had a stocking of gifts for her.

It was a good Christmas.  We had snow.  We were together as a family.  We are all healthy.  We have a warm home to be in.  We had yummy food to eat.  We even got gifts.

Oh, and in February, I am going to Hawaii!!  That was my BIG GIFT this year.  More about that later!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cookie Decorating Competition 2012

Cookie Decorating.  I truly have a love/hate relationship with this tradition.  It is a lot of work.  I also feel like the kids fought with each other A LOT.  At one point, I looked at Rick and said, "Can we NOT do this tradition next year?"  Once we got to the actual decorating part, I feel like they settled down a bit.  It was not pretty there for a while, though.

Abby has become the best at setting up the table for our traditions.  This time was no exception.  
This was her work
 We started by rolling and cutting out the dough.
 Some used cookie cutters for the entries
 Some made their own unique designs

 Abby had her own gf dough thanks to the Nuffins mix we had.  
It was yummy, by the way.

 This chick is very generous with the icing and sprinkles
 Isaiah was a little cooking making machine
 The competition is getting tougher every year. 
 We had some very creative entries this year.
 I do love seeing each person come up with their own designs
 When we initially voted, there was a 4-way tie.
 The tears were minimal when the winner was announced.
That is an improvement on years' past.
 Here are the entries:
 Rick's Beyond Survival Africa
 Sam's highly decorated Gingerbread Man
 My Snow Globe
 Laila's colorful Africa
 Cody's Buddy the Elf
 Isaiah's Christmas Tree
 Abby's Ipod Touch with headphones
Lauren's Santa in a sleigh with Rudolph

After the second vote was complete, the winner was:

Well done, Lauren!  
As the winner, she got to begin the present opening on Christmas morning!