Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye 2007

Tonight, Savannah went to my niece's house for a sleepover (God bless my sister who I'm sure will hear squeals & giggling and midnight).  Samuel & Sarah were determined to stay up til midnight, too....but alas, at 10:25, I went in to check on them & well... I don't think they made it.

I can't blame them for being tired, though.  They never had any down time today.  We all worked hard all day long re-arranging furniture & cleaning.  The biggest change was in the living room.  I wish I had a picture to show you what it looked like before...but since I don't, you'll just have to take my word for it.  This arrangement of the furniture is a big improvement!

And then the girls' room got a big re-do, too!  We unbunked their beds & they did a big cleaning, too.  Ahhh...much better!

Anyway, we didn't finish that til nearly 5pm.  The kids (& us!) all usually have a quiet time in the middle of the day where we all retreat to our bedrooms to hide out & nap, read or just do whatever for a little while. Since we never did that today, it makes sense that my wild & crazy party kids (ha ha) would be passed out at 10:30pm!

I hope you all have a HAPPY NEW YEAR & enjoy ringing it in with much happiness & laughter.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Spiritual Implications of Leaf Blowing

ha ha...I know that title sounds crazy, but humor me......and after reading this, I bet you'll never use a leaf blower again without thinking of this!

Now, I should tell you, I am the type of person who really has to see the application of a lesson to "get it".  By that I mean, I really have to have you SHOW me how a Bible lesson (or any other lesson) really fits into my life to understand it.  That's why my Bible is an NIV Life Applications Study Bible.  I love it!  It's great about the wording & commentary explaining the application of the Scriptures.  Anyway, in that same vein, I am also always trying to find a spiritual application to apply to everyday things.  I guess I really am a teacher at heart because I find myself seeking out ways to explain things to people in a very applicable way that they'll remember & use.  All that said, I'll move onto what my day brought to mind.

Our backyard is huge.  Seriously, we have a pretty large city lot with a lot of trees.  We live on a street with "Shady" in the name and they don't call it that for nothin'.  There are tons of trees.  Because of those zillion trees, we have a LOT of leaves.  During the fall, we don't even bother trying to rake them up because there are so many that it would be pointless.  You'd never finish the job.  And so, with that in mind, we wait until it's winter & ALL of the leaves have fallen from the trees before we even begin to rake them.  Since we live inside the city limits, we can't burn them, so the city has a leaf vacuuming service they offer.  If you will rake/blow them to the curb into a big pile, they bring this cool vacuum truck over & suck them all up for you.  (The kids can't wait to see that on Monday!!)  And so today was our annual "leaf party".  That's what we call it for the kids so that they will help with minimal whining.  They think it's fun because they get to jump in the big pile at the end of the day.

We all were in the yard this morning by 9:30 and around 3:00, we finally came in for the day.  What a day's work.  I'm sore everywhere...but it's a good sore.

As I wielded the leafblower today, my mind began churning out these theological applications of the use of the leafblower.  And with New Year's Resolutions right around the corner, I thought I'd share.  Now mind you, in places, our yard was nearly a foot deep in leaves.   But look what was underneath all the old dead leaves.

Can you see the green sprigs of grass?  There was life, growth, beauty ... hidden under a foot of dead leaves.  Who would've thought that after months & months of being covered up by dead leaves, there would be anything living hidden underneath?  The truth is, we all have a lot of dead stuff in our life.  Maybe it's a hidden sin that no one knows about.  Maybe it's an addiction that you can't seem to let go of.  Maybe it's trouble with a child that you can't figure out.  What is the dead yucky stuff in your life?  We all have it.  See, the trouble is, we justify hanging onto it.  We tell ourselves that all those dead leaves will "mulch" the gardens of our hearts, when in truth it's just suffocating us.  We think we can cling to all the "junk" in our lives just a little longer but until we allow God to "blow the leaves out" of our hearts, we're dying under the weight of all the garbage stacked up on us.

Maybe this coming up New Year's Day can be your fresh start.  Have the dead leaves been building up for a day, a week, a month, even years?  Does God barely need to flick the switch on the leaf blower or does He need to bring out the Leaf Master 5000?  Whatever the case, He has the tools (forgiveness, mercy, grace) to wipe the slate clean & give you a fresh start this year.

Call out to Him now.  Give Him all the garbage you've been holding onto & let this be the year that you release the beauty hidden under the weight of all the mess that's piled up in your life.  The freedom, the fresh air &'s worth it.

Now, I never said I was a great Bible teacher or a super-theologian.  I just saw some spiritual implications to leafblowing today & I wanted to share them.  Back to your regularly scheduled blogging.  (Oh and by the way, take a peek at my sweet angels below.)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Karen Kingsbury books

A couple of years ago, in the spring of '05, some moms in my MOPS group coerced me into reading a book.  ha ha!  I know, that sounds crazy, but at the time, I was of the opinion that I didn't have TIME to sit around & read fiction novels.  I was a mom of 3 young children, and by golly...if I was going to read anything, it was going to be non-fiction stuff that I actually learned something from.  I would get the information I needed & move on.  No time for this sitting around & reading & escaping to a world of fantasy for me!  This group of ladies were always discussing the latest book they'd read and they kept mentioning the same authors.  They finally talked about one book in particular & each just raved about it.  Less than a week later, another friend recommended the same book.  I figured if that many people loved it, I ought to give a shot.  My friend loaned me the book and I looked at it in shock.  This was one BIG book.  No way would I ever make it through something that size!  The book was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  Two weeks later, after many nights of staying up til 2-3am, I was done with the book and shocked by how much I enjoyed it.  This was one of those page turner, awesome books that blows you away while you read it.  It is *THE* book that got me back into reading fiction.  It is the story of Hosea (the book of the Bible) written in a modern day language with new characters in place of the Bible characters.  It's sort of hard to describe, but the passion for God's redemptive power in that book made me wonder what else this lady wrote that I'd enjoy.

Within a couple of months, I had devoured a handful of Francine Rivers's books.  The Last Sin Eater (which has since been made into a movie), And the Shofar Blew, The Scarlet Thread, and The Atonement Child to mention a few.  All of these books were phenomenal.  After reading all of these, I took a break.  I couldn't find another of Mrs. Rivers's books at the time & didn't know who else was good, so I didn't read anything for a while (no novels anyway).

In the early Spring of 2007, I stumbled upon a book at the local library that re-opened my love for books.  It was Karen Kingsbury's book, Redemption.  I had no idea that this was the first book in a series or that I would get so hooked on the characters.  I zipped through the book in a couple of days and was itching for the next one.  Over the course of the next couple of months, I read all 5 books in the Redemption series, all 5 in the Firstborn series (which follows the Redemption series) and the first 2 of the Sunrise series.  As of now, I'm anxiously awaiting the release of book #3 in the Sunrise series.  The characters in these books are so real, dealing with such real life problems that it's almost impossible to read the books without feeling like you're a part of their family, going through all the ups & downs with them.  If you've ever read Karen Kingsbury's books, you know what I mean.

While I patiently (or not so patiently?) wait for the next book in the Sunrise series to come out, I've been reading some other of Mrs. Kingsbury's work.  I received her latest book, Between Sundays, for my birthday & quickly read it.  Since late November, though, I've been between books.  I've "read at" a few things but never could dive into anything until this past week when we made a trip to the library.  I went straight to the section where Mrs. Kingsbury's books are & found a book from her "Forever Faithful" series.  It's called A Moment of Weakness.  Here's what her website gives as a summary, just to whet your appetite:

A Moment of Weakness is a captivating story of human weakness and divine faithfulness. Jade and Tanner were childhood friends until scandal drove them apart. Then one golden summer they found each other again and shared dreams of forever. But in a moment of weakness they made a decision that would tear them apart for nearly a decade. Now, Jade's unfaithful husband wants to destroy her in a custody battle that is about to shock the nation. Only one man can help her in her darkest hour. And only one old woman knows the secret about that summer-and the truth that can set them all free.

Boy it was good......I finished it this morning!  And guess what?  I've already got the next book of hers to read!  It's called Like Dandelion Dust.  And the description of this one says:

It's the emotional story of an adoptive couple that tragically learns that the birth mother who gave up her son four years earlier has changed her mind. A forged signature on the paperwork makes it seem possible that they will lose their son, Joey, maybe forever. Like Dandelion Dust is the story of a mother's passion, and the lengths a couple is willing to go to, all for the love of a child.

Sounds good doesn't it?  I can't wait to dig in!!!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I've finally figured it out....

...I'm a memory maker.

Ok, so while you scratch your head & wonder what on earth I'm talking about, let me explain.  Tonight I was reading my good buddy, Alyssa's, blog.  She & I met nearly a decade ago in an online mom's group.  She now has 5 kids (for a few more months anyway!!).  She has a really cool blog with tons of pictures.  She's a photographer at heart, but also is a wife/mom/homeschooling teacher, oh and by the way she's an RN too, but has been taking some time off from that career since her oldest was born in '97.  Anyway, she has this great blog that I check daily because I love her dearly & love reading about her family & seeing her awesome pics.  Tonight while checking it, I saw a link to another blog she reads.  I figured, if Alyssa enjoys this other person's blog, I ought to take a peek too.  And lo and behold....I did!

Alyssa's other mom friend (the blog author) talked about how her father had been the 'memory maker' in her family.  He threw caution to the wind & always made sure that holidays & other special days in their family's lives were ones that would be remembered forever.  She talked about how she herself was not a memory maker.  She takes delight in organizing a closet, making a chore chart, keeping order & calm in her home.  She basically said these two are at opposing ends of things.  She talked about how she rarely let her kids paint or play with playdough or glitter because of the mess they made.  She must preferred quiet, non-messy play.

After reading that, it hit me.  I'm a "memory maker".  I find myself thinking up great traditions & new things for the kids to do all the time.  Things that will create lasting memories, things they will take into adulthood.  I love to paint & do messy art projects with them.  I love to take tons of pictures and watch movies with them.  My house is rarely ever spotless.  We thrive in clutter.  I guess that's what us "memory maker" types do.  I've been told that teachers are usually the most disorganized, clutter-driven people....and that most definately holds true for me.

Whew.....I'm glad we finally have a title for it.  And it sounds nice, too.  I like "memory maker" much better than "disorganized slob".  LOL

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


It's been a long, full day...but a great day!

At 6:30 this morning, my alarm went off.  I figured the kids would wake up about that time, so I set our alarm to wake up before them.  We crawled out of bed & greeted them at Samuel's doorway (where they were all sleeping) with the birthday cake & party stuff in hand.  Here are some pictures from our birthday party for Jesus.

Larry reading the Bible story to us---

After reading the story, singing Happy Birthday & eating our cake, the boys got a little silly.  See...

Then we moved to the living room to open presents.

Savannah was quite pleased with her loot.  Her very favorite gift was the Neopets magazines (some old backissues) that I bought on eBay for $5.00!  At least she's easy to please.  :)

Samuel loved everything he opened.

Sarah loved her barking dog puppet.

While the kids were really wired & ready to be up for the day, Larry and I were tired & ready to go lay back down for a little while.  After all, it wasn't even daylight yet!

and me in all my no make up, 6:30am, sleepy, pajama-wearin' glory (yawn)

Larry & I did go back to sleep for a little while, but got up in time to go to the movies!  It's become a Christmas tradition around here for us to go on Christmas day, so we went to see Alvin & the Chipmunks at 11:10 this morning.  We got popcorn & sodas...that was our lunch.  Tee hee...sorry mom.  Nutrition kind of goes out the window today.  :)  It was a cute movie.  We all enjoyed it.  Larry had wanted to go see National Treasure 2 today, but I felt like it was over all the kids' heads and they all wanted to see Alvin & the Chipmunks, so we skipped it.  He decided when we came out of the Chipmunk movie that he'd go ahead & buy a ticket for himself to come back tonight & see the National Treasure movie alone.  Before he left tonight, Samuel & Savannah decided they wanted to see it after all, so he ended up taking them back with him.  (thank goodness for Christmas money!)

Anyway, after our first movie this morning, we came home & used Samuel's new basketball to play H-O-R-S-E at our goal in the yard.  Everyone got involved.  Of course, there's no picture of me playing, but that's because I was holding the camera.  Since it was Samuel's ball, he went first.

Then Sarah...turns out, she's a natural.  She got a basket pretty much every time she took a shot!  Larry, Savannah & I all played too...but I figure you know what it looks like when people throw a basketball, so I'll just stick w/ the picture of Samuel since this was HIS new ball.

This afternoon, we took the annual Christmas day family picture.  Do you like the vertical one or the horizontal?

And of course one silly one..... (love the look on Sarah's face!!!)

Larry & the older two ought to be home soon.  Sarah & I had a fun night.  We went to the gas station & used some of her Christmas money to get a package of sour patch straws.  We came home & attempted to watch a movie she got today, but it was broken (we'll get that figured out later) so we watched the Christmas Spongebob show instead.  Afterward, we got on & used her gift card to buy something and then read 2 books before she zonked out .... in my bed.'s been a good day indeed.

Merry Christmas to all!!!



Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

It's here, it's here!  Christmas Eve is upon us.  I'm so excited.  Today the kids & I picked out a cake mix & icing for our party in the morning.  The girls & I went to the store and got our party goods.  Tonight we went to look at Christmas lights.  While we were driving the kids sang Christmas songs.  Larry & I loved Sarah's version of the first day of Christmas gift....a "par-trer-edge" in a pear tree.  :)  When we got home, the kids did one last chore (helping Samuel clean up his room!) & then settled in for the night.  They're all sleeping in there together tonight. We're all ready.  The cookies are on the coffee table for Santa.  The cake is made.  The final picture of the tree with presents under it has been taken.  All the cards have been gazed upon.  It's really Christmastime!!  WooHoo!

I spent most of the morning & early afternoon working on laundry.  I wasn't done yet in this picture, but check it out.  This is what a family of five wears/uses in 1 week's time.  Ok, so now my secret's out.  I'm no Suzy Homemaker.  I only fold my laundry once a week when there is a TON waiting for me.  Notice the festive "Merry CHristmas" note on the foot of my bed.  Sarah put it there.

And wouldn't you know my cherubic children practically whistled while they worked to put these clothes away tonight.  (Well, that's what I'm going to call the whining I heard.....)

We got a lot of cards this year.  If you sent one, it's up on our living room wall right now.  Take a look.  See one you recognize?

Those are my red kitchen cabinets to the right.  I love my red cabinets!

One last look at the tree before all the gifts get opened tomorrow morning.  I should've turned on the lights before taking this pic.  Oh get the idea.

The kids set out cookies & milk for Santa before they went to bed.

But the most important part of tomorrow morning is right here---all the goodies for our party.

We will start our morning with a party for Jesus & Larry will read the story of Jesus's birth from the Bible.  While we don't know the exact date of Jesus's birth, this is when we as Christians choose to celebrate it.  And so our family makes it a true party in every sense of the word.  We have cake for breakfast where we all blow out the candles.  We have party hats, fun napkins & plates & cups.  After all, we do this for all the rest of the family's birthdays...why not for Jesus?  The kids are not allowed to leave Samuel's bedroom (where they are all sleeping) until we finish the party.  When we're done, we'll all go into the living room to open gifts.  See ya tomorrow....I'll share pictures of our party & present opening time then.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday December 23

Today was my family's get together.  Both of my sisters & their families were there (minus one nephew who had to work).  My aunt & uncle came, along with their 2 children and their grandkids.  It was nice to have everyone under one roof.  Larry had to come a little late, after church.  Here are the pictures I took.

This is mom's tree before we got started with opening gifts.

I'm not even sure who got a hold of my camera & took this picture!  ha ha!  It is Samuel, counting the money he got for Christmas yesterday.

Here's Miss Savannah, laying in the bedroom floor of the room we call the "toy room" (where the kids all hang out & play)

She was waiting soooo patiently!  (that's my sister & brother in law behind her)

And Miss Savannah opening her first gift--from her sweet cousin Sidney.  She & Sidney are 23 days apart in age and best buddies.  I love their sweet relationship!

this is her & Sidney (look!!  I convinced her to pull her hair up today---doesn't she look pretty?!)

Samuel sat by Sidney's big brother, my nephew Taylor, who Samuel thinks is about the coolest guy on earth.

And at last, the presents were open & we were done.  I'm not sure if Sarah was tired or dodging the camera, but look at how she's sitting!  Ouch...I'm glad she's young & limber!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday Dec. 22

Today was our family Christmas celebration for Larry's side of the family.  It was nice to see everyone & enjoy some yummy food.  Savannah got a Mushabelly stuffed penguin, the Littlest Pet Shop Monopoly game, some money & a gift card.  Samuel got a Cars tent/sleeping bag set, a kid-sized guitar, money & a gift card.  Sarah got a big teddy bear, a Doodle Bear, some money & a gift card.  They love it all!  Here are some pictures.

This is Mammaw's tree with all the presents stacked around it before we started opening things.

This is Larry & I at the end of the couch, watching everyone open things.  (and by the way, Samuel's pants are not usually purple/pink on the front like this...he spilled a whole bottle of grape juice down the front of him right after we got there!)

Here's our little musician, who entertained us all for the rest of the day with his crazy songs he makes up all the time.

And the girls with their stuffed toys.

After all the presents were open & the food was gone, the kids retreated to the big magnolia tree outside and later to the carport, where they drew on the concrete with sidewalk chalk, making one giant Christmas card for Mammaw.

It was a great day.  Tomorrow is my family's get together!  I'm sure there will be more pictures to share then!  :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Dec. 20

Today was great.  The kids got up this morning, a little excited that there is only one more day of school til they're out for the holidays.  They'll go through tomorrow and then they're out til January 7th, so it'll be a nice long break.  (I am sooo looking forward to sleeping later than 6:20 every morning!!!)  It's always fun to watch that excitement grow as the time gets closer for a big day---whether that day is Christmas or a hundred other exciting days throughout the year.  (birthdays, last day of school, first day of school, Christmas, etc, etc....)  They chatter a little more, act a little more goofy, play together a little more nicely.  It's like they know something cool is about to happen & they are all in on the excitement together.  That's a nice change since they argue so much the rest of the time.

At school today, my class had the first of my 2 Christmas parties.  I have 2 groups of kids.  One group comes on Mon/Wed/Fri & the other group comes on Tues/Thurs.  Today was the Tues/Thurs group's party.  They enjoyed all their yummy breakfast foods (we had a breakfast party at lunchtime!) & then exchanged books for a gift exchange.  They're all so good to me, too!  I left with a giant gift bag full of sweet little presents from the kids!  I love those!!  Being a teacher has got to be one of the most spoiling jobs around.  We're smothered in hugs & kisses all the time and then every time a special day rolls around, we get PRESENTS.  Gotta love that!  :)

This afternoon when we got home, Larry was here.  It's unusual for him to come home that early, so I figured he may've gotten sick.  Turns out he just came home a tad early so that he could go hunting this afternoon before it got dark.  (Did I post that he got a deer a couple weeks ago?  He's trying for #2 now!)  Anyway, he had another front seat full of presents from people at work.  One of them was a gift certificate to Olive Garden.  He told me to take the kids & go eat supper there tonight w/ the gift certificate.  Let me tell ya......he didn't have to say it twice.  :)  With Olive Garden being my favorite restaurant, I was holding my keys before he finished the sentence.  (ha ha...well maybe I wasn't QUITE that fast, but almost)

I always get a kick out of taking my kids to a "fancy" restaurant.  Sarah loves the "crumpets" in Olive Garden's salads.  (that would be a crouton for those of you who don't speak Sarah-ese)  Savannah likes the tomatoes, so she picks through the big bowl for those.  Samuel didn't want any salad, but grabbed a breadstick to munch on while we ate our salads.  Savannah tried to convince him to take a big bite out of one of the peppers, but couldn't ever talk him into it.  When we were done eating, I looked at Samuel (seated beside me) and asked him if I had any food stuck in my teeth.  I figured I might since I'd had the Garlic-Herb Chicken con Broccoli.  Lots of tiny green things to get stuck there....  He said I did & proceeded to shove his little finger into my mouth to show me.  I'm ever-so-discreetly trying to back up from him as he says loudly "mommy, it's stuck right there in between these teeth".  I had to remind him to talk quietly & not put his finger in MY mouth while the people at the table behind me giggled.  I had a toothpick in my purse & pulled it out to use.  After a little time wielding my toothpick, I looked across the table at Savannah, thinking she is older & a little more gracious maybe, and asked her if I had gotten it.  I did the big grin to show her my teeth and she proceeded to do exactly what Samuel had done---only ACROSS the in leaning across the table to do it.  Between trying not to laugh & trying to get her to HUSH & sit down on her side of the booth, I knew it was time to LEAVE.  I did finally get the piece of broccoli out of my teeth, but not before everyone at the surrounding tables knew about it.  LOL!

Boy...ya gotta love kids.  :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Picture of A&K

We got the finalized custody paperwork in the mail earlier this week.  In the package, we got some new school pictures of Andrew & Kourtney.  They look great!  You'll have to pardon my picture of a picture, but this is the best I can do.  (I don't have a scanner!)  Anyway, take a peek at my "other two kids". 

I just want to kiss 'em...I sure do miss hugging on them.  But seeing them (even if it's just in a picture) sure helps to make me feel good.  They look healthy and happy and secure, and that's all that matters.

Fancy food

Today was Larry's work Christmas part (during work hours--not one I attended).  A couple of weeks ago, they had drawn names to buy gifts for one another.  It was supposed to be a gag gift, but the gift Larry got was definately not a gag.  It was a very nice sausage/cheese/crackers set complete with a fabulous wooden cutting board, spreader knife & lots of other goodies included.  In addition to that, Larry also brought home a couple of bags full of sweets from the office staff ladies.

When Larry got home, I made some deer Helper (kind of a joke there...we used ground deer meat in the Hamburger Helper!) for supper.  After we'd eaten supper, we were going to watch a movie together as a family but before we did, Larry & I were looking over the meat/cheese set he got.  We were both talking about getting these boxed sets when we were kids (well, I guess WE didn't get them, but our parents did) and how good it was.  After talking about it for a little while, we tore into this one to try some of the salami & cheese spreads on the crackers.

The kids saw us scarfing down the sausage & cheese and came running.  There were some pretzel nuggets, some kind of cashew things, some wafer-type crackers, a little salami link and two kinds of cheese spreads.  Between the five of us each getting just a few bites each, we pretty much finished off the entire stinkin' thing!  Larry & I were laughing about how we must be a family of pigs to stand there & eat almost the entire set in one sitting (well, standing....we were all standing around the end of the bar while we munched).  Anyway, it was yummy & the kids loved it, too!!  It was a great little after-dinner snack.  The leftovers went into the fridge, but I suspect they won't last long.

After we had all gotten settled to watch the movie, Savannah asked about the food & why Larry and I were so excited about it when we were first looking through it.  We told her how we'd gotten those gift sets when we were kids & how we'd always thought they were yummy back then.  She mumbled something about it again as the movie started, but we shushed her so we could all hear.

After the movie was over & she was brushing her teeth to head to bed, she said "Thank you for sharing the fancy food with us tonight.  It was good!  Do you think we'll get another one of those for Christmas thisyear?"

I just about fell over laughing at her description..... "Fancy" food, huh?  I guess so.  After all, there's nothing like a good processed cheese spread, hard meat salami & a few crackers to fancy up a party.  Tomorrow night, we'll tackle another "fancy" food.  Chicken breasts, salad and pasta.  Woo.....we're really living it up over here!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Savannah's first band concert

Tonight was Savannah's very first band concert.  They did wonderful!  These kiddos have only been holding an instrument since late August & they sounded fantastic!  Take a peek at our little French Hornist...or whatever you call the player of a French Horn (I only wish you could HEAR them too!). was AFTER we got there & the concert began that we realized she wasn't wearing SOCKS!  You'd think she would've put her socks on, but alas.... we were doing good to get her into a "festive" red sweater for the event.  :::sigh:::  One of these days she'll grow some girly-ness.  I hope.  At least she brushed her hair.  And put on shoes.

Seriously, though, they did SUCH a good job!  We were soooo proud of her!  I was amazed by how well they did.  (Did I mention they did well?)

My niece also plays French Horn.  She sat in front of Savannah at the concert.  Aren't they cute?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday Dec 16th

Our church service was AWESOME this morning, so I wanted to share!!

It started out with an orchestra playing beautiful music.  The choir sang with the congregation & then separately.  While a lady sang "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", there was a slideshow of pictures that our congregation sent in for use today.  I included these for our family.  We were told to send in Christmas-themed pictures.


There was a video montage of clips from famous Christmas movies (Charlie Brown, the Santa Clause, White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life).  The highlight (for me) was when the band & our music pastor did Christmas Eve/Sarajevo (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) complete with a light show.  Amazing!  It was very cool to see b/c our pastor was playing TWO keyboards at the same time for this song!  Then the focus shifted to the spiritual end of Christmas.

The kids came up & sang for us.  After they sang & exited the stage, our music pastor sat at the piano & did Chris Rice's "Welcome to Our World".  I loveeeee that song so it was quite fitting.  The choir sang another song.  We had communion.  They quickly set up a stable with a wooden backdrop, 2 bails of hay for Mary/Joseph to sit on & a little manger for baby Jesus.  They got it set up between songs under the cover of dimmed lights and then our LIVING nativity characters entered the sanctuary.  The people playing Mary & Joseph and a little baby to be Jesus came in first, then shepherds (with live sheep & a donkey), then 3 wisemen bearing gifts.  It was very pretty.  Once everyone was in place, the children got back on the stage & the whole congregation sang Silent Night and the orchestra played Joy to the World.

It was such a lovely service & so different from the "usual" Christmas service.  I'm glad we were there.  I'm including pictures below of our kids on stage.  It was just the kids up through 5th grade, so Savannah was sitting with us---in fact, she is the one who snuck over & took pictures of Samuel!

Here he is, right in the middle of the picture in a red shirt.

And here's Sarah with her little girlfriends.  She's in the red sweater vest.

I love Christmastime!!!!