Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Precious

I have a new friend that greets me every morning.  
It is especially nice on cold mornings.  
This was a Christmas gift from Rick.  
I haven't come up with an official name for him yet, but I have many words I use to describe him.  
Comforting, warm, delightful, My Precious!
I am not a die hard coffee drinker, and I will never drink it black.  At least I don't think I ever will.  BUT, I do love a nice warm cup of "candy coffee"(coffee with a yummy flavored creamer, Almond Joy is my favorite right now, and some agave) to start my day.  It just wasn't worth it before to make a whole pot.  Now, I can wake up to a nice warm cup to drink as I drive the kids to school.  This morning it was especially inviting as we faced the 20 degree temps of our morning drive.

I will never be a morning person, but this little device sure does help a little!!  If anyone has some good K-cup recommendations, I would love to hear them.  I do not like it strong!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

True Beauty Lived

On December 27, one of the most godly women I know entered the presence of God.  I have struggled to write this post because I just don't feel like my words can express all that my heart feels and the deep legacy that this woman left.  I guess I should start with the words that her family wrote.  Here is her obituary.  Despite the hours that I have spent talking to her over the last two and half years that I have known her, even in her death I learned so many things that I never knew.  All that I know, and all that I have learned over the last month just confirms the true beauty that I already knew existed in this woman's life.   
I have a tribute of my own that I would like to share.  
Carole Hall came into our lives when Abby decided she wanted to take piano lessons almost 3 years ago.  From the minute we met her, I liked her.  She seemed wise, she was gentle, her piano playing was phenomenal, she had taught many students over the years, she had a great sense of humor, and she even let us borrow her Clavinova Keyboard for Abby to practice at home.  
 As we got to know her, we learned so much more.  I had never really been around someone her age(mid 70s) who had so much joy.  As I learned her story, and all the pain she had experienced in her life, the joy she displayed was even more captivating.  She had every reason to be bitter an angry about the circumstances of her life.  Instead, she embraced God's calling for her and lived her life serving and seeking Him daily.  She was a widow, single mom to three children(one of which had disabilities), lived 28 years of her life with her husband MIA in Vietnam, moved her family across the country from Florida to Colorado by herself, etc.  I really could go on and on about all of the ways she inspired me.  
She taught Abby to play piano...
 ...and how to garden,
(I have never seen anyone able to grow things in CO like she could.  
These are all pictures of her back yard.) ) 
but she taught me about life.  
 She was so willing to share her life and wisdom with me.  I would take lunch or breakfast over for us to enjoy together.  Then, while we ate, I would just ask her questions and more questions. 
 She was a wealth of knowledge, experience, perspective and wisdom.  I could not get enough time with her to ask her everything I needed to.  
 Every time I was with her, I left encouraged, challenged and inspired to be better.  It was like I had spent time directly with God Himself.  
 She was the epitome of true beauty.  No, she didn't measure up to our world's standards of beauty.  She showed me what real inner beauty was.  
I would choose that any day over what the world has to offer.
 Whenever my kids and I would go over to help her garden, she invested in them. 
 She payed them in quarters according to their age.
 She helped me in the "gardening" of mine and my children's hearts
 She valued them and the work they did
 She was patient with their work and laughed right along with their silliness
 She insisted that we end our time with cookies and lemonade
Despite all the hardships she faced, she chose to live her life with joy and gratitude. I have never seen anyone do that so well. That is what drew me to her.  

I have cried many tears since I heard of her death.  As I sat at the memorial service I thought of so many questions I never got to ask her.  There are so many things I wish I could get her perspective on.
She is truly in the presence of God right now rejoicing and receiving her reward. We grieve, but not without hope that we will see her again in heaven some day.
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Proverbs 31:29-31

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Power of Words

We finished up our Christmas break and everyone headed back to school the first full week of January.  
We got Phase 10 for Christmas.  Lauren, Abby, Sam and I are in still in the middle of a game that we haven't finished.  I am winning, of course.
 Abby has been making bracelets like a machine
 Sunset with Snow
 There is something we are working on that I am really excited about, 
new carpet, tile work, and painting.  I can't wait to see the finished product.  I have been waiting for this for over 10 years!!
 Isaiah and Laila are learning about the power of words, especially the written word.  Isaiah had this note for me when I picked him up from his class at church on Sunday.
 Then, we came home from church and Lauren found this on her pillow.
 Evidently, Lauren upset Laila and this was her way of expressing that frustration.  When I asked her about it, she said, "I thought I would write' Lauren is beautiful,' but it got all mixed up in my mind."
We then, had a discussion about telling the truth and working through our problems with each other.
Lauren found a new note on her pillow that night.  
 I had this little beauty as a "dessert" with breakfast this week.  
That was a good day.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

~Ringing in the New Year~

We spent our New Year's Eve home doing our regular traditions.  Lauren was babysitting for part of the time, but she joined us later and still got to be a part of ringing in the New Year with us.  
Rick grilled some steaks and hot dogs.  I made some broccoli and baked potatoes.  
It was a yummy dinner.
 Cody got to open the New Year's Eve gift that is always some sort of game.  
 We continued our tradition of a dancing competition with our new game.

 I would like to announce that I was the 2013 Dance Competition Champion!!  I swept through the whole bracket without a loss.  Oh, yes, I did!

We did movies: "42" for the us and the 3 big kids, "The Croods" for the 3 younger kids.  Lauren arrived home during the movie.
Then, it was time for doughnuts and sparkling juice!

 I rang in the New Year with this little lady on my lap!
At midnight there are fireworks on Pikes Peak.  Laila and I sat here cuddled up under a blanket while the rest of the crazies ran outside to see the fireworks.

Bring it on, 2014!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Christmas Day '13

Christmas morning arrived!!  Rick's rule is that the kids can wake us up at 7:30.  We started our morning all in our room, piled on our bed reading the Christmas Story in Luke 2.  Then, we head downstairs and the extravaganza begins!!
Our Christmas day in Pics

Mandatory group pics before opening gifts
 Stockings are first

 The respectable family pic
 The real us!
 After spending a couple of hours going around opening one gift at a time, Abby got to see her big gift
 Her Christmas Gift was food and toys delivered to the Halfway House in Swaziland
 It was such a special moment to see what her sacrifice provided.
It was so worth seeing these precious smiles
 Next up, our country ham brunch!!
 The gift Laila most wanted
 The afternoon involved kids playing with their new stuff and nap time for the adults!!  That is always the best nap ever, because the work of the last 2 months is complete!!
Christmas night:  Fajitas Fa Jesus
Even though she has moved to Dallas, Julie was able to join us for Christmas night.  
It just wouldn't be the same without her.
 She treated us to some really fun gifts.  
Spa stuff and a Starbucks gift card for the girls and Harlem Globetrotters tickets for the boys! 
 Thank you, Ms. Julie!  We love you!!
 This, my friends, is the gift that keeps on giving.  
Julie gave this to the boys and we have laughed for hours playing with it.  

As I look back over these photos and reflect on our time, all I can say is, "We are Blessed, Indeed!"