Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Strengthen Your Wings, But Rest in the Lord

fulfilling your purpose resting in the lord

Her wings move steadily and fiercely. The wind she's creating with her efforts send seeds and feathers everywhere. They lazily float down to the carpet where eventually I'll vacuum them up... but for now, I'm watching her, just a little heartsick as I think of what might be going through her mind.

She's got the desire. She has the strength. She's putting forth the effort. It's a God-given, worthy desire, not something she shouldn't be trying. She's doing everything right.

But it's not time for her to fly yet.

And sometimes, while I watch her, I wonder. What would go on in her little mind if she thought in words?

That one can fly. Maybe I'm not trying hard enough. Maybe something is wrong with me. Maybe, just maybe... I wasn't made to fly. I think that it's something placed in me at my creation, but maybe it's just wishful thinking. Maybe I should be doing something else.  Maybe I should give up. When will I learn, I fail to fly?

Does she know? Does she understand?

It's just not time for her to fly.

You see, her wings were shortened so that she could learn a lesson in trust. They were clipped short so that she would be kept safe in a new chapter in her life.  It's not anything she's done. She's not a failure. She just needs to wait patiently. She needs to learn to Rest in the fact that we want the best for her. Her wings will grow in time. And when that happens, she'll be able to move further and faster with much less faltering.

She might not see when that will be. As far as her eye can see, she might never fly. She would be totally justified in giving up, and just pulling herself up the walls with her beak forever. Why try when you've failed?

But how dangerous it would be for her to stop exercising those muscles. Because that purpose built into her; it was given by God. To ignore it, it would destroy the future use of that purpose. To give up because that goal didn't reach fruition the first time... or the second... or the tenth... it would mean that she'd never know when the day came and she'd spread her wings... and they were ready. And to refuse to try while it's uncertain would cripple those little muscles that need to be constantly challenged to grow in strength as her wings grow in length, so that on the day those wings are fully grown, she's prepared to soar.

You aren't a failure, Dawn. Your dream isn't worthless. You aren't doing anything wrong. It's just not time yet. You are being held back by someone who loves you, to teach you invaluable lessons that will keep you safe and sure once the lesson is learned. And there will come a day those lessons are grasped and you are given the privilege of moving on, with greater responsibility and even higher purposes as your horizons widen. Because those lessons have prepared you to fly in safety; they were never meant to harm you.

And while I watch her and these thoughts pass through my mind, I find myself thinking that this is not unlike how I am tempted to feel myself at times.

They are moving forward. Maybe I'm not trying hard enough. Maybe I'm not right for this. Maybe, just maybe... I wasn't made to do this. I thought it was a life-purpose that was given me by God for His glory, but maybe it's just wishful thinking. Maybe I'm trying to be someone I'm not. Maybe I should give up. After all, if I'm not getting anywhere, am I not failing?

And maybe I don't know when it will be different. Maybe, I don't know that it will. I might be justified, looking at the surface, to give up. Why try a second, or third, or tenth time?

But how dangerous it would be for me to stop working towards those things laid of my heart to reach for. To deny the fact that those passions to spread God's love are a part of who I am as His daughter, and to refuse the use of them, would not only cripple me, but be the very opposite of bringing Him glory. If I stop living for the purpose He has given, one day I'll miss that opportunity He wants to prepare me for now. If I refuse to take those little actions now that are small imitations of what my heart longs to do for Him, then on that day when the real thing is opened up before me, I won't be ready.

Because before I can be given greater responsibility and even higher purposes, I need to learn lessons in trust. I need to be prepared for the things I will encounter once that time arrives. I need to learn to Rest in the sovereignty of a God who has created me in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that I should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). I need to constantly be preparing myself for the fulfillment of that purpose. But I also cannot force the fruition to happen before the lesson is learned. If a butterfly were to stay in it's cocoon because to leave it is hard, it would never see the light of the sun. But if something were to let the butterfly loose without a struggle, it would not have the strength to face the life it has been given to live.

"The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." Psalm 138:8

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Where does Your Hope as a Christian Come From?

I watched this video this morning, and wanted to share it with you. Sometimes it is nice to be given reminders such as these. While I "know" the things presented in this sermon, I can lose sight of the real reason for my confidence; and sometimes a fresh prospective can make us think a little more about something we have taken for granted.

Our salvation does not start with us. Our salvation does not even start with God's love for us. Our salvation does not *depend* on us!!!

Our salvation was planned before our lives ever existed. Our salvation starts with God's love for the Son and the ultimate plan for His never ending glory. Glory that has never been apart from Him, and never will be. Our salvation depends only on the truth of the Lord's words... and He can never lie.

"Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God." -2 Corinthians 3:5-6

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Christmas Pictures ✽ And Lots of Little Stories

It's snowing for the third time in two weeks here in SC. It's not sticking around this time either, but just the sheer fact that it's TRIED three times in two weeks is something to give it credit for. And so, with snow outside the window, coffee under my nose, and before we take down all the Christmas-y things, I'm taking the time to share some little moments from our Christmas :).

Do I drink coffee all the time? No. Do I have a struggle when I do drink it deciding which activity I want it to enhance... reading, writing, or blogging? Yes. I'll be honest ;).

Christmas Eve, of course we had Gramma and Papa Nate and Granny over...

Gramma thought that my readers needed proof that she really brought a trailer ;). I stand corrected though; this wasn't a rental, but my Papa Nate's trailer. I'm not sure how I got that confused, haha :).

Gramma got these adorable little books made with the little one's names in them as the main characters. Noah's is about a little dinosaur :).

Josiah's Christmas = Made before Christmas even came, hahaha! He came to me after he opened his box, and told me how cool/useful it was that he was given batteries, haha! And then he got this construction truck set that is TOTALLY his thing... and then the crowning item was a light up car track with battery cars. It's not been turned off for more than an hour all his waking hours since, haha!

This is Emmi, "I got Shopkins socks?". Look in your hand, girl! Haha...

This is a big hit with all the boys, too. It's a floating/helicopter ball that moves higher when something is  held under it, they all think it's so neat. Andrew has had to hide it a few times ;).

Bethi loves puzzles, unusual ones, anyway (she helped my Aunt with her puzzle while we were there, but nobody ever helps me with one here, so I'm not sure what that means ;)...). She sits for hours working on origami puzzles. (She won't do an origami figure thanks to my horrible teaching-while-I-learn skills last year, but she'll do origami PUZZLES with no instructions? Explain to me the logic. I haven't touched them, ha!) This ball is like an odd version of a rubiks cube, so it was perfect for her ;).

After family left, we had supper, the middles finished wrapping some gifts, and our annual Christmas Carol movie, most everybody went to bed. Mama and I stayed up another hour to feed the birds, carry alllllll the gifts downstairs, and make them pretty under the tree. 4 a.m. is a really tiring time of the morning to go to bed... haha!

This is just a reminder that the family photos you see are never the first ones that were taking. I mean... what is going one here, hahaha!?

Noah looking at the gifts is cute though :).

Close enough ;). 

After Cinnamon rolls and a Christmas documentary,  we unwrapped the gifts the siblings gave to each other :). Josiah thinks that the coolest thing ever is to drink water out of a water bottle rather than a regular cup, so guess what he gave Peter?! Peter shared with him, sweet little guy that he is ;).

Noah :). He was kind of excited about water too, haha!

If you want some great gift memories, let a three year old pick a gift from the dollar store for each member of the family ;). One year I got "I can read!" certificates... haha! This year, Abbi got dishsoap.

And so did Andrew. It was hilarious, haha!

Mama said Josiah knew what he was getting me before he even got to the store... he knows my love for candles that I have a hard time bring myself to burn because then they are gone, haha :).

Peter wanted to help Andrew dress for the day with his gift ;).

My Grandparents gave us older girls gorgeous fans for Christmas. Abbi and Emmi fell in love with them, and so siblings slipped some into their purchases :). Abbi is an expert at that little "flip" to open it!

As a guy, he had to take random items off the floor and juggle them ;). Also, see me cup? I wanted a Christmas cup all  Christmas, and I got two! I've been enjoying them since, and look forward to having them all year next year!

Such a strangely wrapped package. What could it be? Oh... wait for it...

The moment of realization...

And hilarious laughter and explanations given!  Peter saw a toilet brush and asked to get it for Andrew. I told him, well, let's see if there is anything else... and he found something else, so I had Bethi put the toilet brush away, because, Um?! Haha! But he really meant it. We got home and he wanted to know where Andrew's "thing to fix the toilet" was. Mama figured he meant a plunger, so she went ahead and got them as a set, and it ALMOST won the "most funny gift" of the day. Almost.

Abbi gave Peter his first mug for Christmas. It's this little penguin head with a winter scarf that is sooooooo Peter! I love it... and so does he, he uses it for everything, including his water, and he is always using it unless it's getting washed!

Andrew made the little boys a car ramp, he loves to build :).

Bethi is smart. She places all her gifts TO people in a basket, and then when she hands out her gifts, she starts putting all her gifts FROM people in it. That way nothing gets lost in everybody else's shuffle. Which would be nice. Haha! The little ones were losing things like crazy!

This gift was the official winner of funniest of the day. It was a total gag gift, and those of you who know what it was (and who it was from) are privileged. The rest of you can just wonder, hahaha!

Noah LOVES animals, but especially birds since we got Dawn and Misty. He got so many birds for Christmas, haha!

We took a break for dinner and advent/devotions. Because... it was getting really late, haha! Then we went back and opened the gifts from Mama and Daddy. And if you want a perfect gift, trust my Mama to find out what it is!

A little ABC theology book. I'd never seen one like this, too cute!

Peter LOVES his Penguin/Bear books!

Noah <3.

Noah kind of stole the show in a lot of the pictures from the evening, it was hilarious going through them!

That look of confusion? Don't let him fool you. He has beaten or tied with e.v.e.r.y.b.o.d.y he has played with so far!

This game is the new Monopoly in our house. It's similar to said Monopoly, but has it's own little twists, too, and it could be addictive!

Bethi's day was made with a peg doll supplies kit. She LOVES making those little dolls up, and so I suggested to Mama that she get something like this for her, because I remember that two of my favorite birthday gifts when I was little were a stationary kit and a sewing supply kit. I'm happy to say, I didn't lead her astray, haha! I was slightly worried... but mostly sure ;).

Andrew got a wood burning kit! He loves to build and create, and is excited about the possibilities this brings! 

Noah loves his "persons!!!" He carries them around everywhere, haha :). He prefers to put the shapes in by opening the back door rather than matching the up though... ;).

After presents were opened and some toys assembled, our night was finished out by some pie and the movie "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey"... which doesn't make me cry as much as the children's book (I don't read it aloud anymore -I'm not sure why it gets me so much worse in written form!), but is still one of the most touching Christmas movies out there.

It was a wonderful day... these are only a few snippets of it! I hope your Christmas was blessed as ours, with family and laughter and love and reminds of the great joy that makes the day so important, the birth of our Lord and Savior! But now that I've given you these little peeks, I am off to make some hot chocolate and popcorn, because, though the snow may be gone already (::sigh::), we're still calling it a snow day, because we don't see signs of a more promising one coming, haha. We were spoiled in VA!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Things it's Hard to Say

Dear One,

How often I have seen your eyes light up as we've shared moments of connection, realizing that neither of us was alone in the things that weighed on our hearts. We talked about anything and everything;  the way watching water rippling over the lake was so calming, the bugs that made us shudder, how scared we were as we looked at all the changes life was about to bring us, how it pained us that we found it so hard to constantly follow the Lord in being the woman he was calling us to be. We've laughed, we've cried, we've been uncomfortable together, and shared things many other friends will never get to fully know about us.

You'll never know just how honored I was each time you sought me out, wanting me to be the first person to know all the big things happening in your life... or the deep things tugging on your soul. And you'll never know how much I hurt for you every time you fell into your discouragement once again. And I watched you retreat again within that shell that you thought nobody could hurt you in, when unconsciously you were keeping that pain so close to your heart that it consumed you.

You didn't know how much I knew. You didn't know that when you told me I would be the first one to know about this, I'd already known for two years and been praying for the Lord to bring healing and wisdom to your heart as you dealt with the situation. How could you know that that one word you used without thinking had opened my eyes to an entire facet of your life when I placed it next to thing you had laughed off just minutes before so that those around us would never suspect?

You couldn't know how my heart was breaking as I watched you make the mistakes you knew where wrong, and yet you felt you had no other choice to make with the way your life was going, and the way it weighed you down. That each time I heard that you had cried yet again, I cried with you. How often I wanted to be able to give you a hug, and tell you that I was there for you, and I knew the Lord was using your life even when you couldn't see it, and wouldn't you please stop feeling like you were a useless, hopeless young woman, because no matter what you might be alone, the Lord's might is seen most beautifully in weakness, and all He asked was you trust him.

Because we're all sinners. And the very fact that you truly cared whether you were following the Lord or not told me that He was working in your heart, with a plan and purpose so much bigger than your own. You were not hopeless, because your hope came from him, even when its light made you despise your own sin more. You are made useful by that beautiful sense of care that you give to everyone around you, by the love that overflows from your heart of love for Christ. The very pain you experience makes you so tender of others, and seeing it, I feel that it is almost worth it, though I hate that it hurts you.

But I couldn't tell you these things. You didn't know how much I suspected, until you were on the other side and ready to talk about it, admitting that you had needed encouragement, but could not ask for it from such a raw heart. Each time it happened, I berated myself for not reaching out in the moment... but how could I touch something so delicate without permission? And you'd let on that I was intimidating. That I was a biblical role model to you, but that that very fact made you afraid to show me your sins and struggles. That even though you knew I would never shy away from you because of them, you felt as if it opened up a side of you that someone like me should never see.

You didn't know that it was your struggle against these things, that fierce holding onto the things of the Lord, that made me admire you so much. It may have been crushing to know that you were dealing with this and there was nothing I could do -sometimes I wished I didn't feel so responsible. But the way you bravely moved on, and never gave up even when things felt stagnant and worthless, the way you turned back to the Lord with true joy each time you awakened to the fact that your discouragement had caused you to push his love aside, it warmed my heart every time, whether you knew I noticed or not.

You thought I was the one who was "the perfect daughter", and that you were the one lucky to call me friend. But did you know that when you stepped out of your comfort zone to take that ministry opportunity the Lord gave you, I was proud of you and looked up to you, knowing how hard it would be for me? Did you know that when you sent me that email, the words were just the ones the Lord was using to bring me out of my own valley? That when you sat down with my siblings to color with them, it struck me as one of the most inspiring and beautiful things I'd ever seen a young girl do? And that each time I saw your name in my mail box or my email list, my heart was touched before I'd even opened it, just because you'd thought enough of me that you'd say even a simple hello? How much did you suspect that I felt myself a failure too- that I let uncertainty hold me back from doing what was right, and that I refused to follow through on impulses to help others because I was afraid of the outcome, afraid of being seen as judgemental, afraid of being misunderstood, afraid of being seen as someone who had the answers to something I had never experienced. And how could you know that the two months I went without replying to you was because I was terrified of hurting you when you were in such a vulnerable state, and not because you disgusted me with your confessions of natural struggles of a Christian still being purged of the flesh?

Because of these things you by turn came to me for counsel and pushed me away. And I by turns cried that you were going through this, and cried that we were estranged again; and always, I prayed you would find peace, even when my heart was too full to form totally complete thoughts.
And now, even if you have gone to a path that I cannot follow with a good conscience before God; or if you can never allow me to be that close friend that I once was from fear that I'll not understand; or if things become better from here on out, and the Lord uses all of this to prove our friendship, and more importantly, our relationship to HIM through himself; I'm still honored to have held such a place in your life, my friend. I'm still struggling to be the woman God has called me to be. And I still pray that He would lead you to perfect peace relying on Him, because I know that heart cry that yearns to be satisfied by the one and only fulfillment of all our needs, even when we lose sight of where it lies. And because I believe that He who has begun a good work in you, will not fail to complete it on that last day.

Love in our Savior,

This letter is written not to one girl, but to all of the girls I have walked through the valley with. There are thoughts from each circumstance mingled within these paragraphs... but the heart of each is the same. To those friends who have shunned that joy the Lord could give you -my heart pleads with God that he will show you His grace before you make those choices you will regret for the rest of your life. To those friends who ave already made those choices.... there is no sin so deep, that His grace is not deeper still. Don't doubt His truth and His kindness. There is still room in His kingdom for another testimony to the riches of redemption. And to those friends who have fought the good fight against all discouargement, and have grown stronger instead of turning their back completely on that hope they have had held out to them... the beauty from ashes is obvious. I've seen you mature and settle in your faith even when all you know is that the waves are constantly pushing you under. Because I've seen other friends walk away, and it broke my heart. But you, you are a constant encouraging inspiration.

And no matter where you are in this journey, I am always, always, here for you. Not to force you to let me in... but to let you know that I'll never turn my back on you just because you need a shoulder to cry on to make the burden a little easier to leave behind. Not to make everything right, because only the Lord can do that for you... but to pray with you through the struggle. It hurts to hurt for you; but it hurts so much more to know that the Lord has put me here for this purpose, and we're too afraid to admit that we haven't arrived at  complete perfection to be able to let Him accomplish His work in us <3.

Monday, January 1, 2018

December Review ✽ Hello January... and 2018!


-We decorated our room! December 1st we made some little crafts (wreaths, glittery candles, and attempted snowflakes... ha!), some popcorn, and put in some music, and put all these little touches that made me happy, haha. It wasn't a lot, but it was nice to have even a little bit, and so fun to get to it after I tried up until about three days before Christmas last year, haha.

-One of the churches I volunteer at took the special needs group rollerskating. We got lost and I got there late, but I can only imagine the opening chaos, given what I did witness after things would have been settling down... but it was fun to see them enjoy themselves!

-Our dryer broke. Twice. And we thought it was a simple problem at first, so I tried to fix it, because I've seen Daddy do it before... but it was actually a broken belt and they don't make our dryer parts anymore, so that was interesting. Daddy had to buy a belt that was completely too big and do a bunch of rigging with pulleys and all the extra works so that it would work... but it does now!

-All our family an hour and a half away got snow, and we got rain. Sadness... It's supposedly a possibility it will snow tomorrow, but I'll believe it when I see it ;). Then Grandma and Grandpa got snow for New Year's Eve...

-Me to a friend: "I've made all of these projects and been out shopping for over six hours and we've all got colds that have left us so congested that eating feels like suffication. And that's just the past two days and an evening." We were busy this month ;). Haha! And you know that deal about the more productive I am, the messier my bed is? My bed is depressing to look at in December, hahahaha!

-We went to look at Christmas lights. Twice. And do you remember me telling y'all what happened the first time we went last year? And that the second time last year was much more worthwhile? Well, the first time this year was everything we could have asked for. Then we tried to go a second time out to Lexington to get to see one of the houses set to music. The only problem was we have no radio in the big van anymore, but we thought it would be fine, because we could download a radio app now that we have smartphones.
Yeah. Never trust a smart phone.
There were no working apps, and we spent the whole 45 minutes watching lights dance with almost no context, while Daddy looked for anything that would work. We rolled down the windows (they had a radio playing outside that you could JUST hear during the loudest notes), and all the big people strained to hear enough to know what the lights were going to, and all the little people were just making it five times harder because they heard nothing to listen to ;). We did discover Tori not only can play by ear, but can also read music by lights, though, because she guessed two or three songs without the windows being rolled down... it was odd, haha!

-I spent the day with an elderly lady for her daughter. I took my crocheting with me, and she was so interested, it was cute. I had to leave with about an hour's worth of work left (which ultimately turned into much longer because, um, I was not good at anything the afternoon I tried to finish it, haha, and tried two failed techniques for the mouth until I put it away, got more materials, and finished it in about 10 minutes, haha...), and she was so sad she didn't get to see it finished! We had a lovely time talking about the candies she used to make and how many siblings I have, because that is everybody's favorite topic with me, haha ;).

-We got to watch a live concert online, and it was so much fun <3. (Even though I missed most of it because I was making supper... knowing they were enjoying it and thinking about how cozy it was made me enjoy it, ha!)

-Josiah chopped Noah's hair. Bethi and Emmi have cut their own hair when they were little... but Josiah decided to try it on someone else's. Noah came crying to Mama, holding his head and saying "cut! cut!"... she picked him up to look, and some of his little curls just fell into her hand. He was traumatized for almost an hour, and is still bothered if it's mentioned to him.

-Josiah twisted his first maple twist! It's a big deal in our family, haha. The first maple twist I remember helping with, I got tired of waiting for Mama, and cut circles out of the whole thing... I forgot that it's only one circle in the middle, and twists around that, haha. I was so little, but I remember it vividly, haha. That was the one and only time I got to eat the "middle" of the maple twist (because there were so many ;)...). Daddy always wants that piece... I don't know why, because they fall apart with nothing holding the three layers together...

-We went to spend the day with Granny, and a couple of our Aunts came by, too. We had a wonderful time... several priceless memories made that day <3!

-We took our annual shopping trip with all the little ones to let them pick out gifts at the dollar store... it's crazy keeping gifts hidden from each other with everyone there ;). And Peter... this lady was carrying a whole flat of singing snowmen around with her, and he loved them (he had already seen them elsewhere). She set the flat down, and, being Peter, he didn't realize they were actually hers, so he went over and picked one up, admired it, started to walk away... she was all kind and humorous, asking him, "Are you going to take my snowman???" I'm not sure he realizes even now why I made him put it down, hahaha!

-Andrew build his own working radio!!!

-Candy making, obviously. The candies take much less time then they used to... it used to take days. But with so many hands, one of the most time consuming parts is figuring out how to best give everybody a chance to help, haha!

-Gramma and Papa and Granny came over to help us celebrate Christmas Eve! Usually we leave all our present wrapping for Christmas Eve, but it's been more stressful than fun the past few years, so must of the gifts were wrapped the couple of days before, which worked really nicely! But Tori and I wrapped our presents together on Christmas Eve... and I forgot about this when I answered what my favorite activity to do at Christmas is in that tag the other day. Otherwise, this may have made the answer, because, wow, I love wrapping gifts with Tori. It's the best for so many reasons!!! We weren't done when Gramma got here, but once we were, she had us come bring in gifts from her car... er, rented trailer. Yeah. Hahahaha! It was priceless. It was a wonderful evening... and when they left, we ate supper and did our advent study, and then we had our annual Christmas Eve candy & movie night (which was missed one year due to wrapping gifts until all the little ones had been asleep for two hours... part of the reason we switched things up this year ;).), and Mama and I put all the presents under the tree, because Mama likes it to look just right when we come down in the morning, even though it doesn't last once we go to give out the gifts ;).

-We had a wonderful Christmas <3! I am hopeful (hopeful - not promising) to still get a detailed post about our Christmas out sometime after I get back online, so suffice it to say, it was a wonderful day <3.

-I decided to clean everything I own (including my pen cup) and caught up on correspondence instead of relaxing all day like I always plan... I just need to start planning on being busy all day and loving it, haha. I love how the end of the year motivates me to get things done, and having things done gives me the chance to get to things I always want to do and can't!

-We older four spent a few days with my Aunt Tessa (and some time with my Aunt Amber and her little guy, and Grandpa and Grandma :)!). We enjoyed lots of conversation and coffee and movies and a walk, and just enjoyed being together <3. We help Tessa finish her Christmas puzzle, and we saw a goat on the interstate on our way back home... that was weird. Haha!

-I caught up on correspondence... again ;). Haha! I love people who want to write me even when they think I won't be answering for weeks, but I shouldn't have checked my email... I had to empty out my inbox again before I vanished "for real" after I get this blog post done.

-New Year's Eve <3! We celebrated with our annual s'mores toast (which Noah hated because he got sticky...), and prayed in the new year <3. It has been a rough, stretching, growing year for us... but the Lord was faithful through it, and I'm thankful for those around me at this time. I am praying that this next year will bring some happier moments... but also hopeful to know that the Lord uses everything according to His plan, and what we have gone through has not been by chance.

-Abbi got a complicated lego set for Christmas that I'm now helping her with (no, it's not actually more complicated than other lego projects. yes, I avoid legos usually, hahaha). Send help and chocolate. But I'm enjoying myself despite knowing barely more about this than origami ;). And constantly being afraid we've lost pieces.

-All but two of the little ones on the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree made it over the $1,000 wall by the time the campaign ended, and those two little ones were found by their families (along with six others)!!!! What a blessing to hear <3!!!

Laughing at:

Josiah needs some healing creams on his little face due to being so dry and itchy, so he has to close his eyes while we apply them...
Josiah: "Can I open my eyes now?"
"Sure, buddy."
*peaks one eye open*
*closes it again*
"Actually, I want to sleep."

Josiah, signing Christmas cards...
*signs five*
Josiah: "Am I done?"
I look at the all the cards left on the table...
"Um. No."
*resigned little voice* "Same thing?..."
He knows how to sign his name now ;)!

*I go to check the mail*
*Sees porch tree out of the corner of my eye*
WHO is standing on our porch staring at me?!?!?!? Oh.

Noah at every light we pass while driving now, even just car lights: "Oh, My!!!!!!"
It's sooooooo cute!!!! He got so into all the decorations <3!!!

Sister often: steals food off my plate.
Me once: steals M&m's from Tori's cup.
Sister: screams in horror and terror.
Maybe I shouldn't do that again...

Mama: "I hope you like your Christmas present. It's not fun or flashy."
Me: "Am *I* fun or flashy?"
"You are fun!
'...Well, I guess this is kind of fun in the way you are fun."
Y'ALL!!! It was like the perfect gift!!!

Andrew: "Bri, is it bad if chocolate falls on the floor if it's still in the wrapper?"
"Ummmm.... I mean, you shouldn't throw chocolate on the floor. But at least if it's in the wrapper, you can still eat it."
"Bethi thinks it's so bad. She said we shouldn't ever do that."
"Well, we should never waste chocolate!"
"That's what Bethi says. She is so obsessed with chocolate. She thinks it's SOOOO bad if anything happens to chocolate now. I'm getting tired of it."
And I haven't annoyed him the entirety of his life? Hahahaha! Don't touch these girls' chocolate.
Tori is his only hope. He told her about it, and she was like, "I like chocolate, but I don't care."
To which he gave a relieved little "Weesh!"

Bethi to someone who made a joke: "You are such a comadian."
"Ummm.... commedian?"

I came home one night and everybody was trying to tell me at once that Josiah threw his chocolate kiss after supper and couldn't find it... until they spied it on the chandelier. Hahahah!

Tori opened the microwave to get out her hot chocolate, and then went throughout the entire house trying to find said hot chocolate, because she forgot to put it in the microwave before she turned it on ;).

Peter after getting a firefighter costume: "Maybe, if I put this toy down, then when people pass us they will think I am a REAL FIREMAN!"


-The Old Testament.


-About two chapters of "An Old-Fashioned Girl." Still.

This was going to be the year I read more again, y'all...

The Shop:

-Lots of budgeting, because I'm trying to decide if my prices are right... no surprise, I think they need some work, but, eh, it's always improving, so I'll get there...

-Lots of music lovers were (I hope) made happy at Christmas! (Also, one of these was my first orders from a previous item favorite, that was so fun!!!)

-It was generally a busy month in all respects! People enjoy giving handcrafted gifts, and so this is Etsy's "busy season". This busyness meant I didn't do a lot of "fun to share with y'all" things like add new product, because I was working on orders until right before Christmas, but it was fun for me to get some really neat custom orders and make up gifts for others to give, and raising money for the Reece's Rainbow campaign! This racer set is a new listing, though :)!


I almost used my license to pay instead of my card... I'm so observant and clever...

Me while designing Christmas cards: WHY CAN'T I DRAW ANYTHING TO SAVE MY LIFE WHEN I CAN DO THINGS LIKE THIS??!?!?! I mean, it's all just hand control, right?!??!! sigh...

Well, I scared one of the birds while we cleaned the cage and she flew into the hallway... I went to bring her back so she wouldn't hurt herself, and she let me pick her up (which was shocking), but then bite me and I loosened my hold... she then flew straight. into. the wall. I told y'all Misty was clumsy, haha! I'm so glad she was okay... Noah literally screamed and cried when he saw it happen, it was sad, he loves them so much <3.

I did all this cute word art on my dry erase board, and sent a picture really quick to a friend on my way to family bible time, and realized when I went back to my room for bed that there were two spelling mistakes that I hadn't noticed while I was trying to make the art side look nice, and my friend hadn't even pointed it out, so I'm guessing it was too late for anybody to be proofreading ;).

I practically destroyed a friend with my choice of words. Ah, well. I never mean anything mean, y'all. I just... don't think how things could be taken sometimes. I do apologize to all of you who have to deal with it. Especially to that one friend last year. I will never forgive myself for that one.

Me: I'm going to be so put-together this Christmas!
A month later: Never mind. Let's survive.
Like literally, one day I had a slice of cheese for breakfast because I couldn't take the time to stop working to eat. Although I did take the time to make a cup of coffee that day; several days I decided the time it would take to make coffee that I would eventually drink cold, because I never drink as much coffee while I'm crocheting as I think I do, was wasted. Haha... and I'm glad to be done with nights of 5 and 1/2 hours of sleep, haha.

Me: *puts lemon in water*
*forgets that fact*
It's only good if you expect it, y'all.

Grateful for:

-That Christ did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but humbled himself, and came to earth as a baby, to die for us as a perfect sacrifice, holy unto God, without blemish, and perfectly willing, so that the hope of the resurrection might be ours for all eternity <3.
-A Christmas full of special memories and family activities, that we will look back on and cherish for years to come.
-Noah's love of Christmas lights. It made them even better than usual, it was soooo cute!
-Family read-alouds. I got some Christmas literature, even if I didn't get Christmas reading done ;).
-These blessings that this year has held... moments, even in the midst of trials, when the Lord showed himself faithful.
-The Lord's grace in leading us through this year and the ways He proved His faithfulness when our world was falling to pieces.
-For the people I hold dear who are gathered around me and a part of my life as this year draws to a close <3.

Happy New Year, dear readers <3. I hope the Lord brings you closer to Him in all that this coming year holds <3!!!