Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Eve & Day

Our Sunday Christmas Eve started off with our church family, celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We went out to eat with some of our church friends and then spent most of the day at home with our family.  Sunday night, we took the girls to go get hot chocolate and went to visit a very sweet lady - Kevin's grandma. 

The girls love Grandma Betty and love visiting her at her apartment.  Before we knew it, it was 9pm and time to get home and get ready for Santa!  But first, we made ice cream sundaes!  Of course after hot chocolate and ice cream, it was nearly 11 before our kids fell asleep.  And then finally, Santa came!!

Kate woke up at 730 and then patiently waited until Karsten woke up at 830.  She was SO excited though. She snuck into our room, tiptoed around to my side of the bed, and then tried to tiptoe out.  I sat up and looked at her and she said "Mommy! Santa came!"  Oh the excitement of a 6 year old!

And y'all.  She was so excited about every single thing. I mean look at this face... pure excitement and joy over a TOOTHBRUSH. If only we all had this reaction to life's everyday blessings.

The ONLY thing Karsten wanted for Christmas was a black car.  We think she wanted one she could ride in and drive, but that wasn't going to happen since the girl's already have a green Jeep that they can drive around the yard. She DID find a black car in her stocking though, so Santa didn't forget her!

Both girls got Fingerling monkeys and I have to admit, they are kinda funny. 

Their big gift was a basketball goal. Kate has said the past few months that this is what she wanted Santa to bring. 

She was pretty pumped and said "I knew that was what was in that box!!" 

After what seemed like 15 hours (which was really about 4 hours), Kevin got the goal put together and Kate had a blast. She told us she couldn't come back inside until she made 30 goals. Ha!

And yes - This was at 5pm and Kate still had on pajamas. My kids stayed in their PJs all day long. 

We ended up going to IHOP for dinner because by the time we finished all of the assembly, nobody wanted to cook! They were crowded but we weren't in a hurry.  Karsten wanted a selfie with Mama, but said she had to wink. Ha!

At some point, Nana and Papa came by with Grandma Betty to check out what Santa dropped off.  The girls had fun showing off their new toys and we enjoyed visiting with more family.  

And that was that. Sure there were lots of presents and toys, but the biggest present of all came to earth as a tiny baby so many years ago.  And that was the real reason for all of the celebration. Jesus. For Him we are most thankful!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Eve Eve

Picture overload coming in the next few posts. You've been warned! :) 

My family celebrated Christmas on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  We started off with a conglomeration of Papa John's pizza, Wing Stop wings, and Olive Garden salad with breadsticks.  We topped it off with Sweet Potato cake from Brick Street Cafe.  SOOOOO yummy.  I have to say, whoever came up with this idea for dinner needs a high five. Good food and so easy.  I didn't take many pictures, but we basically just spent some quality time together and ate birthday cake to celebrate mine and Davis' December birthday.  I did get a few though...

Sweet girl cousins in matching pajamas.  I have a feeling this will not be the last time I get a picture like this, and I'm hoping Carter's pajamas go WAY up there in sizes so Kate will fit in them for quite a while longer!  Love these 3 little girls so much.  I think they will have so many great memories together.

On Saturday morning, we headed over to Davis and Kristi's for a big family breakfast.  And then, we opened presents.  Karsten was so excited, she ripped into the first present to find... a shirt for me.  Yep.  In all the excitement, she grabbed the first present she could find, and it wasn't even hers.

Here is Pick with his two oldest granddaughters.  How they love him!

And that's all for now.  We had so much fun celebrating together, and especially loved celebrating with our newest addition- my niece, Rylynn! 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Chaotic Christmas Eve?

My very favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night. Maybe because it was the first Christmas song that I learned to play on the piano, or maybe it's just everyone's favorite Christmas song.  Regardless, this is just one song that gets me every time. 

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining.
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world, in sin and error pining,
'til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night- when Christ was born.

Ah - I just love it.  

Another favorite is Silent Night. 

Silent night, Holy night.
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant, so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Sleep in heavenly peace. 

Christmas songs are just so great, aren't they?  I'm not one of those that likes to start playing them at Halloween, but once Thanksgiving is over, you'll find non-stop Christmas music playing in my car. 

This week, my mom took the girls and me to the movies to see The Star.  It was SUCH a cute movie and if you have kids and are trying to figure out what to do with them over the Christmas break, seeing this movie is a great idea!  It is a movie (loosely) about Jesus birth, but the focus is more from the animals point of view.  I do really recommend it.  As in any kids movie, or just movies in general, there is good and evil, conflict, a hero and a big, dramatic climax near the end of the movie, which of course is when Jesus is born.  

It was really a neat perspective.  Obviously most of the movie was fictional but it really makes you think about things from another viewpoint.  Both O Holy Night and Silent Night sing about Jesus' birth.  They make it seem so calm, peaceful, and quiet when Jesus came into the world.  Realistically, do you think that's what happened?  

Maybe it is. But in my mind, I can see Joseph running around thinking "Is this really where my wife is going to give birth? Here, God?".  There were animals probably wondering what in the world was going on.  Regardless of how Mary labored, this was likely not a serene and perfect place for a baby to be born into.  Realistically, it was probably a loud and chaotic scene. And THIS is where and how God chose to bring the Savior into the world.  It didn't have to be this way, but it was exactly as God planned. In the middle of all of that chaos came Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.

To me, that's pretty encouraging. I don't know about you, but life is most often chaotic, crazy and loud.  We have a 3 year old and a 6 year old.  Enough said, right?  Quiet is not something we experience often.  Most of the time we're running around trying to find gymnastics leotards or library books.  We're trying to make sure that we remembered to load lunch money on the school account, and that we've RSVP'd to birthday invitations.  We're throwing together dinner as quickly as we can, before we have to run out the door to somewhere else.  This is just the season of life that we're in.  It's chaotic.  But guess what?  Right in the middle of all of that chaos is Jesus.  

Jesus came to be God with us.  He lived and walked among us 2000+ years ago, and after his life, death, and resurrection, He left the Holy Spirit to live inside of those who choose to trust and follow Him. 

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.  The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him.  But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
John 14:16-17  

So, if you are like me and your season of life is chaotic and crazy, be encouraged that if you want Him, God can be right there with you.  He is STILL God with us.  And sometimes the very best things in all of the world can come from right in the middle of that chaos. Thank you God, for Jesus.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas Eve! 

Monday, December 18, 2017


For the past few years, one of the shareholders at my work has played the role of Santa, and everyone brings their kids to visit.  It is great because we get to avoid the mall or other crowded places, and don't have to wait in line for hours to see Santa! Tonight was Santa night!

These girls were so excited!  Karsten couldn't stop skipping, and even when it was time to leave she kept saying "That was so so soooo fun!"

I found out that Karsten wants a car for Christmas.  I'm wondering if a matchbox will work.  Kate wants a basketball goal. 

We also got to see my niece, Rylynn.  The benefit of working at the same place as your sister - work events are also family events! Of course I couldn't pass up a chance to hold her. 

And she got a turn with Santa as well.  I don't think she told him what she wanted for Christmas this year, but she did get a fistful of his beard. 

One last Santa picture, with ALL of the cousins. Sweet girls! I am thankful for each one of them.

Sunday, December 17, 2017


I feel like as Christians, we are constantly playing defense to the world.  We are told we can't mess up. We have to be perfect. We can't make mistakes.

It's an impossibly high standard; one that is exhausting to live out on our own.

And you know what? It IS an impossibly high standard. That's why we are so exhausted, frustrated and disheartened when we can't live up to it.   It's as simple as that though. We can't live up to it - no way, no how.  Even if we try, we won't make it.  We WILL mess up eventually (daily??).

And that is why we need a Savior.  Only HE can meet that standard, which is impossible for us - perfection. We can't do it, but He can.

In 1 Corinthians, the Bible explains that the world doesn't understand us.

But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

The world doesn't understand that Christians are self-admittedly not perfect people.  That we DO mess up, we DO make mistakes, and we DO sin daily.  They don't understand that to receive salvation through Christ, we have already admitted and professed this fact to God.  They don't understand that receiving salvation doesn't make us perfect, it just makes us forgiven.

Because they don't understand salvation, we are always playing defense.  The world expects perfection of us, and we know it's not possible.

The hardest thing though is when other Christians try to hold each other to the impossibly high standard of perfection.  Sometimes as Christians, we become so used to the basic principles of Christianity, like forgiveness, that we become numb as to what they really mean and how we can practically apply them.  It becomes something like what I do with Karsten each night.

Each night, Karsten and I pray together.  We thank God for things, talk about our day, etc., but at the end we always end with this:

Thank you most of all for Jesus.  Thank you that Jesus lived for us, that He died for us, and that he rose again so that we can be forgiven.  In Jesus name, Amen. 

Karsten knows these words by heart.  She repeats them every night and has for about a year.  She KNOWS them, but does she really own them? Does she know what she is saying? Or is it just rote memorization?

About a month ago, at the end of our prayer she started asking "But Mommy, why do we have to be forgiven?"  And I got the privilege of explaining that to her.  Now she finishes her prayer and says "Mommy, we have to be forgiven because we all make bad choices.  Even Mommies and Daddies make bad choices. And only Jesus can forgive our hearts."

She knows the words, and one day I hope she will OWN the words.

As Christians, we have to do the same.  We know the words "I forgive you" but we have to own them.  We can't expect perfection from others.  After all, we aren't perfect ourselves.  Offering forgiveness is not just the nice thing to, it's the biblical thing to do.

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. Matthew 6:14 

There are so many verses in the Bible about us forgiving others, you would think it is something we all struggle with, huh?  Yeah - it's not easy. That's why we should pray to God and ask him to help us forgive honestly and truly.  And that is a prayer He will always answer, because it is a prayer that will always be in line with His word.

There's no better time to offer forgiveness than now - the present.  There's also no better time of year to offer forgiveness than now - as we celebrate the Savior's birth, the one who offers US forgiveness.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Basketball Mom

A few weeks ago, I added "basketball mom" to my repertoire.  I can't remember what made her think of it, but back in August/September, Kate asked if she could play basketball.  I looked up a local church league, and signed her up.  She actually plays for the church where she went to 3K and 4K, and where Karsten is currently enrolled in Parents Day Out.  

So at the beginning of November, I got a call from Kate's coach and we got all of the details. She was SO excited.  

The league is made up of 1st and 2nd grade girls, and since Kate BARELY makes the cut off for the school year, she is among the youngest kids in the league.  No matter - she is taller than most of them, and our team is made up of 7 girls, most of which have never played basketball before. So you know, it's gonna be a fun year. 

At the end of the first practice, they huddled up and the coach asked if someone would pray for them. See my shy kid? Ha!

This Saturday was her first game.  They play four 7-minute quarters. Kevin and I made bets as to the final score of the game. We guessed 4-2.  It ended up being 8-6. 

And guess what?  Kate scored the very first basket of the season for her team! She was so excited that she made it, she turned around and looked at me and Kevin and started jumping up and down. 

Sure do love my #31.  Oh my, watching 6 year olds play basketball is hard. But it is going to be a fun season!

PS - If you have tips on how to take pictures in dark gyms, let me know! This indoor sports stuff is so new to me, I have no idea how to take pictures. I use a Canon T3i - lenses and tips are needed!


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