Previous month:
November 2012
Next month:
January 2013

Looking back

TG4A6087 2012 was a year of such highs and lows. When I look back, I have very mixed  feelings about this year. It is so important to take the time and be thankful for all the wonderful blessings of the past year. I've tried to take some time over the holidays to do that...personally and with my family. However, I also don't want to think about the suffering of people around me this past year and the tragedies we all faced. In light of that, I'm ready for a new year...a fresh start.

In some ways, there were some "firsts" for our family...

We saw God do amazing things in the life of our church through 24 plus people meeting Jesus for the first time. We saw relationships restored and we experienced such great community in our own Life Group this Fall. We saw God provide every dime for the renovations for our new facility and the resources to take on the new responsibilities of our new facility.

 Photo12 As a family, we lost our precious Watson, a maltese of 13 years, but were blessed with a new member of the family, Kokomo, a two year old Malti-poo. We saw our kids learn the importance of prayer more this year than ever before. We are far from the parents that we want to be sometimes, but we were able to spend more time this year as family in prayer than ever before. We had some amazing times together as a family just having fun, eating at our favorite restaurants, being at home together, watching movies...just being a family.

We are so thankful that our brother-in-law, Jonathan, is cancer-free and had his liver port removed successful this December. Thanks be to God!

Looking back, I have so much to be thankful for in my blessed beyond measure.  At the same time, my heart is heavy for those who are hurting right now...Newtown, CT and other places in the world where tragedy has struck. I'm also praying for my friends who I know need a fresh start in 2013...praying that God gives them the strength and grace for the days ahead.

Tonight, we will ring in the New Year with friends from our Life Group and enjoy being together (and watching LSU whip the lesser Tigers...) I'm thankful for friends to do life with each and every day and the family God has given me.  

Putting every emotion aside of 2012, I can't imagine life without my relationship with God who sustains me through good days and tough days...HE is the constant no matter what 2013 will bring.

Happy New Year!

My Favorite Christmas Moments of 2012

As I had some time this week to reflect on our Christmas Season, I wanted to share with you all and to have as a part of my blog a "Top Ten" of my favorite Christmas moments from this year. As a Christmas card that Sydney made for me says, "Christmas is music," There are definitely musical undertones here, but also personal moments from our family. These are in no particular order:

IMG_5489 IMG_5486 1. Christmas morning with the kids...
this year, we didn't have a whole lot to "put together" the night before which marks a new chapter with our kids. They were genuinely suprised this year and so thankful for each gift. I was really blow away by that. From Taylor Swift perfume and concert tickets for Sydney to a Matchbox Car Parking Garage and an Alanta Falcons uniform for Sean. Every year is great with the kids, but I will always remember this year for the sweet spirit of my kids toward Todd and I and the gifts they received.

2. Sean riding on the back of his friend during my entire song at "An Evening in December"...yes we wanted our Christmas Concert and Dessert to be family friendly, so as Todd was filming a song I sang in the show, there is my 5 year old riding "horsey back" all through the Worship Center saying "Yeehah!" It felt just like practicing at home!

3. The debut of "Love Came Down" by John Redgrave...I was so thrilled to be able to introduce this brand new song by my friend John who is the Worship Leader at Motion Church in Tampa, FL. Such a beautiful song for Advent. Thanks, John for the great loop to use with our band. It made the song!

4. No one was sick...This is THE FIRST time I can remember since having children that no one (parents included) did not spend some part of the holiday in bed! Praise the Lord!

IMG_5430 5.  "Silent Night" during our 6pm Christmas Eve Service...I have no words to express what this felt like and looked like from the stage to see our Worship Center filled to the top with people and candles singing this song in worship to Christ our Savior...probably will be up there in all -time favorite moments.

IMG_5444 6. Syd's Christmas gift to electric-guitar playing reindeer named "Clarice"...Enough said...

IMG_5353  IMG_5493  IMG_5492 7. Down time during the holidays... we started the kids Christmas break with a trip to a cabin in Asheville for three days and we spent the week AFTER Christmas at home just sleeping, laughing, eating, and playing altogether. It was SUCH a blessing to have this time with the kids to talk about what Christmas means and just learn more about each other. I feel so connected to my kids right now and where they are. It was nice for Todd and I to have time to not work and just be together with our family. AND the food! Todd cooked an amazing Christmas lunch!

8. Girl time with Sydney...We took some time as girls to do some shopping as Sydney hads grown out of everything. This is something that Sydney and I are actually JUST like when it comes to shopping. We had a nice lunch at Panera together and then we went to the one store we love, Children's Place.  We spent an hour and half... tried on a ton of clothes, chose what we thought was best , and left. It was awesome! When we got home, we cleaned out her drawers, bagged up the outgrown stuff for GoodWill, and put all her new stuff neatly in its place. As we finished, Sydney came over to me with a gift card she had been given for Christmas and said, "Hey mom, you take this.  You bought me a lot of clothes today." It was so precious. I told her it was my privilege to take care of her and that I was so thankful for her grateful, I didn't take the gift card for those of you who were wondering!

9. Our Christmas Event Team...
it was the first year since we started the church that I had NOTHING to do with Christmas decorating details. Our amazing team of ladies (you know who you are!) did a fabulous job of creating such a beautiful Worship Center for the Season. Thank you!

10. Suprise moments with the busyness of this season, there were several of those rare moments where Todd and I would find a moment just the two of us to sit and talk and enjoy our patio or the fire. It wasn't a planned thing - just would happen. Our converstations were short and simple and were primarily focused on talking about how blessed we felt this year and how thankful we were for God's provsion in our lives, our kid's lives, and our church. We had several this season and I'm so thankful for those moments.

My prayer for my family is as we enter 2013, that we will continue in our faith and steadfast hearts to pursue Jesus...sharing His love with everyone we meet in the way we live our lives and spend our days...

"Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."  - Colossians 3:16-17

Operation:Merry Christmas, Neighbor!

IMG_5322  IMG_5327  For the past few years, we have made cookies for all the neighbors on our street at Christmas.  We include an invite card to a Christmas Eve Service at our church as well.   This year, I included a small little note from our family with a black and white photo and thanked them for giving us such a great neighborhood experience.  We also thanked them for watching out for our kids who ride bikes and play in the street! Some years, we have made cookies from scratch. This year, we baked mixes and had a blast as a family doing this together.

Because of the rain this week, we did bakery bags and placed them in mailboxes. I'll never forget watching the kids as I drove from house to house, hanging out the window and putting these in our neighbor's mailboxes (disclaimer: make sure you neighbors are ok with this!) 

In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I know how hard it is to try to find moments to help our families experience the joy of giving to others.  However, I would encourage you.  This tradition that we do as a family has become something the kids talk about and see as a part of our Christmas celebration each year. We don't know all of our neighbors as well as we would like, but this has given us an opportunity to do something every year to connect with them.

I encourage you to find ways to connect with people this time of year and that you share the love of Christ with them. It has been SUCH a blessing for us to do as family.  And yes, I made extra cookies for us which we have enjoyed...very much.