2009 will go down in
our family history as the year of overwhelming blessing. It was the year that
after much hard work, prayer, patience, & petitioning some family goals were
finally brought to fruition - like John being hired as a full time teacher!
John is enjoying his middle school, special education students immensely and could
not imagine a better job. He is also mentoring low-income students before
school and will be an assistant football coach next year. Yes, laugh, John as a
football coach, I laughed for days! John truly loves teaching and engaging the
students minds with fun and creative insights. In celebration of God’s gracious
blessing, this summer John will be going with a team from our church to Mexico
(July) on a construction project. John spent the month of October getting ready
for the 3rd annual Home Makeover and had so much fun; he thought he
would take his God gifted skills international. John also continues his small
carpentry/handyman business, which is now mostly a hobby instead of a source of
Also in 2009 God
blessed our family with a new little life! Abigail Mae is expected to make her
grand appearance in mid January 2010; we are praying for a safe and healthy
little girl! Melissa is looking forward
to having bows and pink outfits in the house! This Christmas we are trying to
continue our yearlong challenge of simplifying and doing less, which is fairly
easy when your 7 months pregnant and on modified bed rest! We pray you and your
home will be able to escape the clutter and business of this season and find
Christmas in the person of Christ Jesus Himself.
Gabe, our now two
year old, is enjoying his last few months as our youngest. Gabe is our
bookworm; he will sit for up to an hour looking at books or being read to. He
also loves to play in the garage with Daddy’s wrenches and screw drivers. Gabe
is also learning how to keep up with Drew; which means he loves Lego’s,
dinosaurs, fire bellied toads (science project gone wrong, somehow we ended up
with cricket eating toads in our playroom as long term pets!), and playing in
the sandbox! Gabe is such a delight, mostly cheerful and methodical in all he
does. Gabe attends Pre-school one day a week and loves all the fun projects,
coloring, and interaction with other children.
Drew, our almost 5
year old, is the typical oldest child; he is also much like his mother – a rule
follower, slightly anal, and always quick to have great ideas. Drew loves to
learn, he asks questions all day long; his mind is captivated by challenges and
projects – that part he gets from his daddy! Drew attends Pre-school two days a
week and Mommy is homeschooling him as time allows. His latest accomplishment was
mastering his alphabet sounds and sounding out some basic words. Drew is
anxious to make it to the NASCAR track sometime in 2010 – which is his reward
for learning how to read. Drew loves to imagine and create; his latest
discoveries will find him playing with dinosaurs, Lego’s, dreaming up rescue
scene’s, and building erector sets with his Daddy. Drew is looking forward to
Daddy finishing the bunk beds for the boys’ room, so Gabe can move in and share
late night giggle sessions with him!
Melissa spent most of the year
pregnant and sick; evidently, the blessing of a little girl included a lot of
morning sickness, heartburn, & back pain – or could that be because she
turned 30 in October? She continued to help with the mentoring program at a
local church encouraging mom’s to live on a budget, spend frugally, and give
generously. Melissa also completed her first Kay Arthur Bible study (Covenant)
this past November, which has deepened her faith and inspired her to tackle the
Kay Arthur bible study of Ephesians in 2010. Melissa also spent her year capturing
memories with her Nikon D80, homeschooling the boys a few days a week,
gardening, couponing, and blogging. Melissa is also blessed to continue to work
from home for WesTower as an accountant for nearly 10 ½ years. Her job is such
a blessing; it keeps her focused, disciplined, organized, and ready for
challenges! I’m sure life with three little ones will bring many challenges
into our home in 2010!
With much love and prayer from our
home, John, Melissa, Drew, Gabe, & Abby
It isn't news to those that live with me, but I've finally come to realize that this pregnancy has brought impatience and a total grouch like behavior. I'm not sure what comes over me, but simple little things like not being able to find the kids shoes set me off. I find myself always thinking, "If only they would....."
"... do what I say."
"... listen the first time."
"... remember to put their things away."
"... stop playing Rudolf over and over again."
"... remember what I told them."
So, last night as I was sitting totally frustrated with Drew because he wasn't working very hard on learning his memory verse; God hit me over the head with an epiphany on how short tempered I really was becoming. Little silly things that I'd never even worry about were setting me off. I had traded the unimportant for battles and frustration that weren't necessary. My mostly kind words had been replaced with impatience and selfish thoughts and actions. As I reminded Drew of his verse for the 50th time I finally heard it for the first time within my soul.
"Today, in the city of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11
Then I remembered the history, Christ came for everyone (you & me), not a select group like the Jews, but also for the Greeks and gentiles - He is a Savior to all! What an incredible gift that was, God sent his Son to save the poor, the prisoner, the helpless, the lonely, the broken -- the sinner! He came for those who had no hope - all of us. "What wondrous love is this," it is like nothing ever given or offered before. What a gift!
In covenant I learned so much about the very nature and passion of God, one of the most important thing I learned was that a covenant relationship with God involves sacrifice. Not just the sacrifice of Christ for us, but also a sacrifice of believers back to God. The New Covenant is between God and Man - a two way partnership. Christ came and sacrificed Himself (the ultimate gift) and then left the Holy Spirit within believers to teach and direct us. As a believer I am to sacrifice myself too - that means overcoming my flesh and not getting impatient with my kids and husband. It means sacrificing my plans and my agenda for that of Christ. It means sacrificing finances, time, and selfish directions and trading it in for generosity, love, and patience. Sacrifice means, for me on this day, disciplining myself to live out the fruit of the Spirit each moment of today. It means speaking words of love and affirmation into my child instead of discouragement. It means loving my husband even when sawdust makes it into the house just after vacuuming and counting my millions of blessings instead of being discouraged when life doesn't go my way.
So, I began to act on my change of heart by asking Drew to forgive my impatient and demanding attitude. He graciously replied with a bright smile, " That's ok mommy, we all mess up. I just love you and (for)give you for being grouchy. Did you know that God loves you too, he forgives if you ask Him!"
I just love the innocence and truth that God allows my children to share with me when I am humble in spirit and willing to listen!
I had my doctor's appointment today, it went much better than I expected. Little Abby is nice and snug, I haven't dropped yet and when the doc checked me she said I "wasn't yet a centimeter dilated," which means all those nasty contractions aren't doing much to progress labor. My blood pressure was high (135/94), but I'm not spilling protein which is really good. My BP has been running around those numbers the past few days, so I wasn't shocked, plus the pressure went down once I laid on my side. They did run more blood work, just to make sure my body isn't reacting too much to the high pressures. I didn't gain anything these past two weeks; which is actually a good thing. I cut out as much salt as I could, so I didn't expect much weight gain. It also means I'm not retaining much water - which is shocking since I'm drinking a small pond each day. In total I've gained 20 pounds! That is a nice record, since I gained 65 with Drew and 45 with Gabe. I'm all tummy and swollen feet now!
For the next two weeks I'm monitoring my blood pressure, resting when the bottom number is over 90. At my next appointment we're having a sonogram to check out the baby's growth and fluid levels. Dr. W wants to make sure the high pressures aren't preventing her growth. I did measure 32 centimeters today which is right on track!
So, John and I are off to the Gaylord Texas this Friday night for a celebration! We're celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary a tad early since we're expecting little Abby to be born around our anniversary date. John has the next two weeks off and we're going to be enjoying our Christmas break at home with the boys, not in a hospital! We're also celebrating John's job promotion and enjoying our last few weeks as parents of two! Somewhere in those two weeks we want to take Drew to the IMAX theater at the Fort Worth Science center to see the Polar Express. It should be a very fun few weeks! Most of my shopping is complete and I just have Christmas cards to get addressed and mailed. The tree went up on Tuesday and Drew enjoyed decorating and drinking cocoa. Such fun times we're enjoying as 2009 draws to a close.
Drew and I went on a mommy date last Saturday, Drew insisted that I had to wear a dress since you can't dance in pants! I braved a dress, boots, and pantyhose just for him! I'll forget about the rash all over my legs and how cold I was most of the night, it was all worth it!
First we went out for icecream and then into FortWorth for a special date with the Nutcracker Ballet. Drew loved it, he sat very still, asked questions quietly, and was quite concerned with the nasty rats who were picking on poor Clara. He smiled from ear to ear all evening! What a lot of fun we had together!
So much has gone on the last few weeks, it seems like Christmas has arrived early - in more ways that one!
First, John woke me this morning with a kiss and the news that our yard was a winter wonderland. When the boys woke, they went out and explored the white backyard. Then came in for some cocoa and oatmeal. It was a wonderful morning - I love snow and was very sad that we didn't get any last year. Drew loved the snow, Gabe loved it only until he fell in the snow and got wet - that was the end of his great adventure.
Other fun, exciting, Christmas like news is that we hired a wonderful lady as a sitter/nanny to come play with the boys on Wednesday's while I work. John and I have been praying for months about the various characteristics that we wanted for a nanny/sitter. Honestly, I thought we'd have to settle for something less, but we kept on praying and God provided a wonderful woman that was everything we'd prayed for - - plus more! Merry Christmas to me! Mrs. Kelly has won the hearts of our boys! She is a former Kindergarten teacher who loves children and loves to teach them in fun and interactive ways. She has two boys of her own, who are now in high school. Mrs. Kelly brings her own projects and materials from home and brings books and puzzles associated with what the boys are interested in. I can't believe how patient and sweet she is all day long, she inspires and teaches new ways for me to educate the boys. I am so glad that the boys will get the best of mommy and the best of Mrs. Kelly. Now that I'm free to work 6 uninterrupted hours on Tuesday through Thursday, the rest of the days are spent more focused on the boys and maintaining our home. I still work a little at night, but this new schedule is working out just perfectly! Now if I could only get back to the old, ambitious, non-pregnant self - I'd accomplish way more - like preparing a meal calendar and freezing meals for when the baby comes! I'm still waiting for that nesting instinct to kick in - can you tell?
Drew and I have moved off of working on his phonics and onto reading! I'm so excited, Drew sounded out his first word yesterday - "AM." He was so proud of himself! We are using a program called "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons." I might also add that it was only a 14.00 book - cheap and good quality, that is what I love! We were challenged by a friend to start, I'd been holding out thinking Drew needed to have memorized all the letters and sounds before we began. Turns out, he was probably ready for this program a while ago. Now I just need to stay disciplined to get through all 100 "easy" lessons. So far Drew loves it! He is so proud of himself and the lessons are so easy that he feels quite accomplished. I think Drew will find reading very easy, its the writing that we may struggle through this year!
Gabe is recovering nicely from having pneumonia, he is off all antibiotics and breathing treatments! So far he hasn't had a cough in 3 days! He is teething ... again which is what started this whole mess a month ago, so hopefully he won't get sick again. I'm singing huge praises that everyone is well and our cough's are gone!
We had a wonderful week of Thanksgiving - John was home the whole week and we took advantage of the time to do some family things before our little peanut arrives. We went to the new FW Science center last Tuesday - the boys LOVED the dinasour dig and building their own train sets. It was so much fun watching the boys imaginations go crazy. Secretly I was wondering how in the world I was going to be able to do this kind of thing with 3 little ones. Even with 4 adults and two kids we lost Gabe for a minute after he wandered off to play in an ambulance. The day was so relaxed and fun - we bought a year long pass so John and I will be frequenting the science museum a lot this coming year - we can bring guests too for free!
Last week we also constructed our first gingerbread house, it was very fun, messy, and I believe the adults got into it just as much as the kids! John spent his week off playing in the garage with the boys and making some Christmas gifts. He was thrilled to be home with us and I was so excited to have all the help. John took the boys out for donuts and then to Cabella's for some daddy bonding time. They also frequented the park and Home Depot a few times. Gabe stayed at home with mommy for much of the week since he was still recovering from being sick.
Today was my 30 week appointment - Abby looks great! My doctor laughed that we fix one problem and something else creeps up. So today she was a little disheartened that my BP was already rising. It started about two weeks ago, the evenings are when the BP tends to be the worst. So, they took some blood and off I went to enjoy the rest of my wonderful snowy day! I developed pre-eclampsia with the boys around 34 weeks, with Abby it started at 28 weeks. Here is praying for no bed-rest! There is no cure for pre-eclampsia, only delivering the baby will get rid of the problem. I need another 6 weeks so we'll see how it goes!
Finally, if you've held out this long on my lengthy post then you will get to hear the best news of all! We received our Christmas gift a little early this year. After a few weeks of suspense, John signed a contract on a perminent full time teaching position! We're so excited! He officially starts Friday and will be working with the special education class that he has been with all year - just as a teacher not an aid! I'm so proud of my husband, he has been through so many trials to get to this day! It still seems unreal and hasn't sunk in yet!
Well, thats about it. Check out the picture page for tons of pictures from our week of Fun and Thanksgiving!
"You have turned my mourning into dancing for me;
You have put off my sackcloth
and girded me with gladness,
To the end that my tongue
and my heart
and everything glorious within me
may sing praise to You
and not be silent.
O Lord my God,
I will give thanks to You forever."
(Psalm 30:11-12, AMP)
We are so thankful this year! There are just too many blessings; it is hard to record them all! Our biggest praise for 2009 is the blessing of John's hard-earned Teaching job! What began as an aid position, soon led to him taking a very difficult exam, which we just found out John passed – with an 84%! John has found favor with many teachers and the principal at the middle school where he works, with his present position and credentials there are a few job opportunities being discussed. We're excited to find out which one God will bring to fruition.
I'm also thankful that for the first time since marriage, my husband has a normal job with set hours! We can now plan outings and I can plan dinner every night and not wonder if he will be home in time. We're enjoying family centered weekends and attending our couples bible study together! The boys love waiting for Daddy to come home and greet him with huge explosions of excitement and energy!
We were blessed this year to conceive, very quickly, with our third little blessing from heaven. With great eagerness, we found out in September that we were adding a little girl to our family. Praise be to God that I'm still pregnant and the progesterone injections are keeping me off bed rest! We're looking forward to meeting our little peanut – Abigail Mae sometime in January 2010. I'm also so thankful that I've only gained 15 pounds (@29 weeks), I was so huge with the boys my tired, getting up there body, is thankful to not have that extra weight – especially now that I'm officially in my 30's.
Health – thank you Lord that after many trial full years of health issues, we're all healthy and in very good physical shape. Even our little Gabe who just had pneumonia is feeling much better! Lord, may we never take our health for granted, after John's many years of physical pain and surgeries, 2009 was a nice reprieve from illness, surgery, recovering, and doctor visits!
John was especially thankful for the opportunity to visit his family in Oregon a few times this year; the highlight was his climbing adventure on Mt. Hood which involved lots of freezing snow and great memories forged between brothers!
John and I are still in awe, that after 7 years of paying off debt, we can finally breath a sigh of thanksgiving that all consumer debt, including those horrible student loans, are finally paid off. It was only through the hard work of my husband, much sacrifice, and many wonderful blessings from God that we were able to finish off that monumental task. Wow, John and I are still in shock. I get almost giddy when I put money in savings, instead of paying off loans. God is so faithful, the road was not easy, it had many trials and bumps along the way. John and I shared together that those same trials and bumps were just what we needed! Now that we’ve struggled so much to get out of debt, we’re never looking back to that bondage again. 2010 will bring lots of pre-paying on our mortgage and saving for retirement. We’ve got some catching up to do!
As parents, we are so humbled by the two little blessings we are raising in this home. They have so much energy, bring so much delight, and provide so much love. Our little men are teaching us how to submit to the Lord's instruction and helping us in the venues of patience and perseverance. John and I are blessed parents to have such creative and caring little men to steward.
A God centered marriage, which has seen some rough times, 2009, was the year we began to reap all the benefits from those marital trials. I was able to see my husband grow in confidence, leadership, and fortitude. I personally reaped the benefits from learning and practicing submission and respecting my wonderful husband. It is amazing what a year will do to a marriage!
Yet again, I'm thankful for a work from home job that allows me to be a mommy and help provide for our family. I could never have imagined working for such a flexible boss who lets me set my own hours and never questions when things will get done. God had such a wonderful plan for my life that summer day in 1999 when I showed up to copy and file. What began as a part time summer job turned into a decade of blessings – who knew I'd move on to Texas and have three kids and this wonderful job would help support my dream of being a stay at home mommy and accountant – only God could orchestrate such a master plan.
What a year! John and I had a goal to out give our normal tithe and offerings from 2008, I feel so blessed that we were able to not only get out of debt this year, but also bless the church and others more than in any other year of our marriage. There is nothing that tops the joy of giving – both giving sacrificially of time and money. One of our goals in getting out of debt was to be able to serve and give more, John and I have prayed a lot about where 2010 will take us, and God has revealed His desire for John to go to Mexico this summer on a short term construction project through our church. I'm so thankful that we're in a place financially that when God calls, we can answer without thinking about finances. I'm also grateful for a husband who listens, obeys, and is excited to answer God's call! I wish I could go, but the joy of mothering a little 6 month old will keep me on US soil for at least another year or so!
The Thanksgiving CD is playing, the sweet potatoes are boiling, the pumpkin pie is going to be made, and the little peanut is kicking away at my rib cage. It is a glorious per-Thanksgiving day! Drew and Daddy are wrestling out front, Gabe is deep into slumber, John built a fun hopscotch course in our kitchen, the house is clean, soupo is in the crock-pot, and thankfulness is in the air.
Wow, God is the master planner of blessings! This past year has been quiet, reflective - preparation for the changes ahead. Changes of jobs, changes of family dynamics, changes in finances, & hopefully it all leads to changes within our hearts. We are a thankful family, there is nothing I could possible be ungrateful for - it was all pre-ordained by God and those few things in my life which I like to grumble about are also the things that grow me and raise me up to handle a God filled life. I am truly grateful today, more so than ever before. We have health, a roof over our heads, a great marriage, and thanks to my husband we also have a generous spirit. John loves blessing others, as do I, so we're so excited to be thinking of fun and creative ways to bless others this Thanksgiving season.
Blessings -- they are everywhere, we just need to look, and then give thanks to the Creator of all things - Jesus Christ Himself, "the author and perfecter of life!"
I'm so sorry your sick with pneumonia, but I'm so happy your feeling better and that nasty cough is going away! Your such a little trooper, always happy and running around. You actually remind me when its time for a breathing treatment and love the fact that you get to watch 10 minutes of Dinosaur Train while your treatment is running. I'm so glad your feeling better!
We had such a wonderful week, it was quiet, relaxed, and full of fun. The leaves finally dropped in our yard, the sun was out, and we enjoyed time playing together as a family. I baked some yummy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and we drank tons of cocoa - thanks to John and my Birthday gift! The boys and I have had cough's for weeks, I'd hoped staying home relaxing could get rid of them, alas no such luck. I'm beginning to wonder if we're just suffering from allergies? Gabe and I have it the worst and we're both prone to allergy issues.
Drew must be at the top of his learning curve, he has been asking tons of questions like, "How big is my brain?" and "How do you spell reptile?." He has also been doing tons of math problems in his head and talking all about our frogs being nocturnal and making "hypothesis" about various topics. Wow, I can't keep up with his creative mind, Drew talks non stop all day and is always asking tons of questions. I am trying my best to answer, but by the end of the day I'm beat!
Then little Gabe is our very pensive and quiet one, he doesn't talk much because Drew is always talking. Gabe has been enjoying one on one time with John and I which greatly diminished his angry episodes. It has also helped that most of his teeth are in - only two more (bottom left) until he is completely done teething. Gabe loves to look at books and has lately been stacking various objects around the house - like blocks, books, food, etc. Gabe loves to play in the garage with Daddy and dig in the dirt for bugs. Just yesterday we had a storm blow through and both boys were out running in puddles - totally wet through. The even found Daddy's shavings bag and enjoyed throwing wood shavings all over the front yard. Needless to say the shavings and wet clothes ended up in the house - it took a whole hour to vacuum the downstairs.
John has exciting news, he passed his K-12 special education exam on the first try. We're so proud of him! He has been celebrating by spending tons of free time in the garage making Christmas gifts.
Baby Abby is doing great, no news, still having contractions and taking the progesterone injections. Abby is quiet busy these days, her movements are much more busy than the boys! She is head down and patiently waiting her appearance in January.
I've been prepping the house and our pantry for Thanksgiving - finding great grocery deals! We're working on our annual Thanksgiving list and reading all about the pilgrims and their struggles coming to America. Drew is fascinated with their boat and loves to talk all about how much God protected and provided for their needs. We have so much to be thankful for, I'm spending this month in awe of God's blessings, provisions, and mercy.