Sunday, November 27, 2016

So much to be thankful for...

Here is what we have been up to...

-Halloween fun with friends!

I love this... Abigail was Jessie when she was four years old too!

Grace nailed the Trick or Treating thing.  Her precious school had them practice before Halloween night, so they knew how to be respectful, saying "thank you," regardless whether they liked the candy they got or not, etc.

-Grace has started riding the bus home from school and it's no surprise that she loves it!  She feels like such a big girl now that she rides the bus, just like bubba and sissy!  The added bonus is that I'm certain her bus driver is an angel sent from heaven.

-I went to Gigi's National Convention in Chicago a few weeks ago (right after the Cubs won the World Series...  GO CUBBIES!) where we came away having learned a lot, been inspired about what the future holds, and fell deeper in love with the mission in which we have been called too.  Added bonus:  I met some new friends that are my favorite dance partners ever!  Usually, at weddings (especially as we get older), it's the kids and I on the dance floor all night.  Not at the Gigi's National Convention reception...  my new friends never got tired or took a break from dancing all night and they tore it up with their sweet moves.

-Andrew had his first year round swim meet where he did fantastic.  He shaved 3 seconds off of his freestyle time and finished 1st in his heat and 4th out of 10 kids his age.  Since all the kids at the meet swim year round, it is much more competitive than summer swim team, so it's been super fun to watch him progress.

-Abigail had her 4th grade play called "America" which honored first responders and veterans.  The play took place days after the election, so it couldn't have been more patriotic!  I think this might be my favorite play the kids have done at school thus far because of how touching the tribute was to all of the veterans and first responders in attendance (the most special one to us being my Dad of course :-)!

Grace's school had a similar program that my dad attended and was honored at.  Grace sat through the whole program like such a big girl!!!

-Speaking of Grace's school, I just have to share with you a few more things as further evidence of just how AMAZING it is and how blessed we are that the Lord led us there.  Last week, they studied the letter "N" and as part of their lesson they sold nachos for a nickel.  It also taught them about what it means to be a customer, etc.

Check out Grace during their math centers.  She totally nailed it!

Here is Grace going through the lunch line getting her lunch ALL BY HERSELF!!!

Here is Grace and her friends at their Thanksgiving feast.  Is this the cutest pilgrim that you have ever seen?!?!

-I ran the longest race I have ever run last weekend.  It was 15.5 miles and we had a blast!  Love these girls!  David has not trained a bit for the half marathon that we are suppose to run in mid January, so the fact that Abigail will be logging 40 miles in the next month for the fundraiser that she's doing for Gigi's Playhouse, might serve as a great training program for David, since he runs with her more often than I do because she's too fast for me.  We are so proud of Abigail's heart and determination in her effort to raise money for Gigi's Playhouse!  Thank you so much to everyone that has supported her!  You have no idea what it means to a young, very committed girl to see people rally around her in support of something that means so much to her.

-The enemy has been working overtime on me over the past week or so, making me feel inadequate to lead in the various ministries the Lord has entrusted me (a girls bible study leader, mom's bible study, children's ministry at church, my ministry to my own children and David, etc).  I'm guessing it's because I'm spending more time in the word and praying more "fervent" prayers (that is the name of the study that we are doing ;-), so I have been trying to combat the enemy's lies with God's truth.  The most powerful way the Lord has spoken to me through this trying time was a perfectly timed note that sweet Abigail left me a few days ago.  I just want to remind you who is the author of lies and who seeks to render you defenseless as he accuses you of not being "good enough".  Who is behind your every fear, frustration, and temptation. The good news is that God is bigger than and victorious over those lies and all the enemy's schemes.  I'm praying we can all see ourselves, others, and our circumstances through God's eyes with razor sharp focus on Him and that the enemy's lies would fade into the fuzzy and fleeting background of our holidays.  Let's not let the enemy steal our joy ever, but especially not during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season!

-We spent Thanksgiving with my Dad and Step-mom and then spent time putting up our Christmas tree!  Always a special time of year that I vow to never take for granted because it was only 3 years ago that we didn't get to spend this time of year together as a family because David and Grace were in Boston for two and a half months when Grace was super sick.

-Saturday was this sweet boys 8th birthday!!!

Andrew makes being his momma a joy and honor, from the way he loves others well (even when they are difficult to love), always sees the best in others, loves the Lord and his family deeply, and is always working overtime to make us laugh.  I always worry that Andrew, being the middle child, will feel like he lives in his sisters' shadow, so we do our best to purposefully pour into him, but it doesn't change the fact that he gets dragged around to the soccer field most weekends and does it with a joyful heart...  his birthday was no different.  Abigail had 3 soccer games on his birthday, so he went to the first two (he did get to play with one of his best friends while there...  so grateful for Jansen) and then spent the rest of the day and night with his cousins.  They went to Sky Zone, made pizzas, had a paper airplane contest, and ended the night with a movie and slumber party.

Abby isn't in the picture because she hadn't arrived from her soccer game yet...

We celebrated Andrew and cousin Joe's birthday together!

This is what Grace gave Andrew.  He would not be talked out of this camel costume for his birthday!

This is what Abigail got Andrew for his birthday.  For his birthday, he gave Abigail $30 (in change, that he counted out of his piggy bank) to go towards her fundraiser for Gigi's Playhouse.  In case you are confused...  Abigail started this tradition when she was 2 years old... getting each other something on their birthday.

Andrew got Grace an Olaf ornament for his birthday!

-Lastly, I leave you with some of our favorite Gracisms...  If Andrew is bugging her, she will tell him "zip it bubba!"  Our rule, while the kids are brushing their teeth, is that they aren't allowed to talk in the bathroom because otherwise they will waste a ton of time in there talking to one another, so if Grace hears them talking while they are suppose to be brushing their teeth, she will yell to them "NO TALKING GUYS!"  She has discovered the word "is", so she loves to try to use the word "is" very purposefully, which is a huge blessing to witness because it shows so much maturity and development.  When Grace is in a particularly compliant mood and we ask her to do something, she will respond with a very animated "YES M'AM!"  I love that one!!!  Grace loves to tell Andrew, "Bubba you is handsome!"  She will tell other people too "bubba is handsoooome!"  Those are just a few of our favorites, but I realize without getting to hear her voice inflection, pronounciation, and context of the situation, it's not nearly as funny or cute, so I hope you can sort of picture it.

Thankful, grateful, and blessed for our Village!!!  (((hugs)))

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Abby's Christmas wish...

I have a lot of catching up to do on the blog, but in the mean time I wanted to share this with y'all in case you are not on Facebook...

Abigail's Christmas list this year has just one thing on it... to raise money to donate to Gigi's Playhouse (read more about it on the link below) and get a balloon on the donor wall. She is donating all of her saved money, Christmas money, selling items around the house, and she is doing her own run-a-thon to make up the difference. If you feel led, will you please consider sponsoring her with a donation of $5 per mile? Please don't feel obligated to donate a large amount at all, even the smallest of donations is greatly appreciated and will contribute to her overall goal. She is prepared to run as many miles as necessary and every cent raised will go to her favorite place, Gigi's Playhouse Sugar Land!


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Smiles for Days...

Grace had her first field trip with her school!  They went to Dewberry Farm.  She rode the bus there and loved it.  While at the field trip with Grace, I got to talk to Ms. Scott, the bus driver, and immediately had a sense of peace about allowing Grace to ride the bus home from school each day.  This is a huge step for us, but one that the Lord has so tenderly prepared us for, much like He did when calling us to send Grace to our public school from the private school that we absolutely loved.  God's ways are always best, even when they are hard, scary, or down right mortifying!

 Don't let Grace's skunky face in this picture fool you, she had a great time!

Grace was so proud of the pumpkin she picked!

Sweet friends!  Love how this sweetie looks after Grace!

My handsome Cub Scout had pictures with his Den last week.

Field Day fun!  One of the highlights of Field Day was getting to spend time with Abby and "the girls."  These precious girls are triplets and all have autism.  Abby has loved them like family since the day she met them in Kindergarten (they are all in 4th grade now).  "The girls" are celebrities in our family, when Andrew sees them at school he always tries to get them to say hi or interact with him in some way. One of the girls uttered her first word at 6 years old when she wanted to communicate with Abby who was playing with her during recess.  God has used that day to remind me of the much bigger picture that He is weaving together when we can only see the painful and uncertain situation before us.  I will never forget being in the hospital with David and Grace in Boston (I can't remember which of her heart surgeries it was).  On that particular day, we had received a call in the middle of the night that her doctors were concerned that Grace may be having seizures.  We were obviously concerned about her very sick heart and now we faced the prospect of having to battle seizures too...  it was on that day we got an email from Abby's teacher (she was in 1st grade at the time) sharing with us the celebration that had taken place at school when this amazing little girl (one of "the girls") had spoken for the first time.  Abby had no idea and still doesn't totally get the magnitude of that day because in her mind she was just hanging out with her special friends.  It was that day that God hit me square in between the eyes with the clear reminder that He was doing a much bigger work than the fears and concerns that were right under our nose.  It's as if I had been living with my head starring down at the bland, cracked, and uneven pavement and He gently took my chin, ushering it upwards to take in the beauty of the scenery, His creation around me...  the radiant fall leaves, crisp air, and beautiful architecture, occupying every inch of space around me.  All that to say, the Lord has used "the girls" in our family's life in ways that far exceed what Abby or the rest of us could ever give them.  The PE teachers allowed Abby and her friend to be partnered with "the girls" for Field Day, so I got to do games and even an obstacle course with them too!

Then, I got to hang with my sweet boy and his buddy.  Lately, I've wondered if Andrew even cares that I attend his field trips, come to eat lunch with him when I can, etc (because he doesn't show it as overtly as Abby), but the giant smile on his face when he saw me, the run, and huge hug that followed confirmed that my presence there did matter.  A hot, but blessed day all around!

Grace's bestie came to watch her soccer game!  Grace would run down the field and then stop to make sure Sadie was watching, she would say "Sadie cheer for Gracie!" and then proceed to blow her a kiss and/or give her a thumbs up!  These two are too much!

The cutest besties EVER!!!

We took the big kids to their first official concert!  We went to see For King and Country and KB (one of our favorite Christian rappers).

Two of Grace's new favorite activities...
Taking Twinkie for a walk...

And singing "Old Ball Game" (also known as Take Me Out to the Ball Game), especially while watching the Cubbies play!

(((HUGS))) and blessings to each of you this week!!!