30 December 2016

Reflecting on 2016

2016 is quickly coming to a close. It's been one of the greatest and most challenging years to date. I learned everything is temporary. Moments, feelings, people, and circumstances. I learned losing someone you love makes you feel extremely vulnerable. And vulnerability can actually be a beautiful thing. 

I learned all things come in twos: peaks and valleys, life and death, joy and pain, sunshine and rain.

I learned keeping perspective is EVERYTHING. It shapes who we become and of course, where we are going. I learned to let go of some of the trivial things that don't matter in the long run. I learned God is more interested in my heart than in my rules or my way of life.

I learned no matter what happens in life, we must never give up hope. Hope is not blind optimism but rather having confidence in what is to come. I learned love requires action. I learned trials are meant to sanctify us, deepen our dependence on God, and teach us compassion. I learned I am never really alone.

I learned marriage takes work and must be made a priority. I learned life is too short to be mad. I learned sometimes being brave simply means getting up the next day and trying again. I learned the person who apologizes first, is often the most courageous.

I learned the days can seem long but life is really short. I learned to take nothing for granted. I learned at 46, I have a lot more to learn about life and love.

In 2016, due to a series of events, I faced my own mortality for the first time. I wish I could say I took it all in stride but I spent more days afraid than I'd like to admit. Not afraid of where I was going but afraid for the people I'd leave behind. Sometimes, loving someone so much makes you feel desperate to hang on to them. I spent months in what seemed like a battle, trying really hard to hold my thoughts captive before they boarded a freight train going nowhere. Through every high and low, I cried out to God and clung to His promises.

As the months continued, I eventually loosened my grip on trying to control my life by surrendering and trusting in God's plan for me- whatever that may be. Slowly, He delivered me from my fears. Both physically and spiritually. I wish I could say I handled things well (or even differently) but the truth is, you never know how you're going to handle something until you're actually faced with it.

We all want an easy, comfortable, anxiety-free life but these trials, I'm learning they can shape us into brave, vulnerable women with broken yet beautiful stories. Stories of how we came to a deeper faith, a greater appreciation and understanding, and ultimately, experienced an ever bigger, more Sovereign God through it all. Apparently, He's not done with me yet. He has a specific calling for me (as He does for you).

Maybe you're into setting goals or making resolutions this time of year? Believe me, I get that. I have a few changes and desires I'd like to incorporate in 2017, too. There's a big part of me that absolutely loves the thought of a new beginning, a fresh start, and an exciting new bucket list. Resolutions and goals serve a purpose but ultimately, all of my striving becomes meaningless if it doesn't align with God's will. And what a perfect will it is.

In 2017, I pray God would give me the courage to boldly live out my purpose and calling. Even if it's scary, even if it's hard. Because in the end, I want what He wants. If God is anything, He is faithful, friends. These last couple of years, He's been working on me and my issues with trust and control. Because you see, I can't be all in for His purposes if I don't trust Him wholly. Yet in His word He promises...

Did you catch that? The beauty of trusting the Lord?

No FEAR, no WORRY, and NEVER FAILING to bear fruit.

I want to be like that tree. I want to be planted, firmly, by the roots, unwavering in seasons of change and uncertainty, because my hope and faith is in the One who loves me, died for me, and provides and sustains my every need.

This is ultimately my prayer for 2017 and every day beyond.

May we stand firm, hope big, and bear much fruit for Him.

27 December 2016

Christmas Day 2016

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Started the morning with a light breakfast of monkey bread and fruit for the big kids. I decided to put it in a heart shaped pan because after all, Jesus is LOVE!

This year, Christmas landed on a Sunday so once everyone was up, we got ready for church.

I just love them all so much.

Eeeks! Sooooo ADORABLE!!!

Obviously, I couldn't stop taking photos because they are just the CUTEST THINGS EVER!

Ok, enough photos. Time for the little guy to eat his breakfast.

Bananas and strawberries are his favorite.

And because we had to leave by 9:00 and the girls couldn't decide if we were going to open stockings or a present under the tree before we left, we just decided to wait until we got home.  

After a quick lunch, we changed and got ready to open presents.

Zach loved his light saber toothbrush. It lights up and talks.

And his window cling stickers.

Yay for bath crayons.

Beef jerky and pistachios. #itsatradition

Busy hands.

Faith gave daddy a new tie.

Faith made Grace a cute new apron using Zach's old burp clothes. SO sweet!

Gifts to each other.

Boys and their heavy machinery.

Grace got Faith a Star Wars Nerf Gun.

She was definitely into it.

Zach got a lot of books. This was Chicka Chicka 1,2,3.

Morgan got a Star Wars shirt from Grace.

The girls got a couple of new book sets. This is Nancy Drew, volumes 11-20.

One of Zach's favorite books is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. We had a soft cover version but the pages were ripping out of it so now he has the hard board book.

Happy as can be.

Jewelry making for days.

Hyper dogs that bounce around.

New aprons and kitchen accessories from Ms. Marsha.

A big new firetruck from Grandpa.

Complete with sirens and sounds, of course!

Grandpa is a retired fireman so this is especially sweet.

And just when we thought we were all done, Morgan pulled out these light sabers that he hid in the tree!

Someone else is crazy about Star Wars, too.

"Zach, I am your father."

May the force be with you!

Our little Jedi in training.

Lastly, we kind of splurged and got Zach a train table, too. Being the baby, he definitely made out the best this Christmas! 

The girls immediately went to work reading and making jewelry.

Morgan spent the day playing with Zach and putting together a few of his new toys. The girls were busy reading or crafting. And I was going in between cleaning, resting, and just soaking in my family.

I can hardly believe another Christmas is in the books. I don't take any of it for granted. The people, the time we spend with them, the traditions, and the old and new memories. It's all a precious gift and we are so thankful to God for His provision, His love, and most of all, for sending His Son.

26 December 2016

Christmas Eve 2016

Earlier in the week, we made a day trip to Escondido where Grandpa was staying with Jennifer
and her family for the week. It was so nice to see him!

My baby, wanting to act like the baby.

Eleanor was NOT amused. Look at that bottom lip. 😢

Eleanor Catherine (I think I'll call her Elly Cate) and I matched for the day. 😄😄
Isn't she precious??

Auntie Emily playing Scattegories with the kids.

Gomo, Elly, and mom.

Uncle Rich and Zach.

Zach trying to hitch a ride from Madi.

She's too fast and manages to get away.

Being naughty and throwing things in the pool. 😒

Madi enjoying her big slice of cheese and fruit for lunch.

Kylie, James, Aunt Emily, Madi, and Grace.

Little chubby fingers opening presents are just the best.

Legos! (And that swirl on top of his head.) 😍

His scrunchy face smile. 😆

Faith got a Rey shirt. Word got out: She's all about Star Wars this year!

Madi got a new book.

James got a gross game.

Zach got a hug from Madi (whether he liked it or not). 😜

Faith got a science and spa kit.

Grace got lots of jewelry making kits.

Madi says, "Have your people call my people."

Mom & I.

Rich & Emily.

We were so happy to have my family here to celebrate Christmas Eve with us. My newest niece is getting so big already. All of a sudden, Madi and Zach don't seem so "little" anymore. The kids had fun playing at the park for about an hour before it rained and they all came running home.
Food, presents, and just being together.... Family is the best!

Later that evening, we went to Desert Springs JW Marriott to check out their gingerbread house display. We also saw Santa and they were giving out #freephotos with him so we gave it a shot. Zach wanted NOTHING to do with sitting on Santa's lap so all of us had to get in the photo. Obviously, I wasn't ready (since I was talking) and Zach looks petrified. Lol!

My Crew. 💕💕

 Now, a boat ride was something he was excited for!

All aboard!

Family boat ride.

Free photo with Santa, a free boat ride, and free peppermint hot chocolate...

A great way to end the evening!

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