Guess What??!!

Our special present this year....

We've been waiting for a month to open this envelope!!

We're having a...

We are thrilled!!!  Our little Baby Love-bug is another sweet and special girl!!!

Mommy and her two girls...yay for sister love!!!  Thank you God for these precious gifts! 

(No, my voice is not this high...I was just so excited!! :)


Merry Christmas!

"But the angel said, 'Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord..."

"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

Luke 2:10-11;13-14


Christmas Things

Who can believe Christmas is less than a week away?!  No one, I'm guessing.  But that is just the reason I like to get that tree up and start listening to Christmas music early. ;)  Today I thought I'd post a few "scenes of Christmas" around our home.

Our growing post of Christmas cards.  Love this...and that I ordered ours in just the nick of time this year!

Christmas cookies.  Yum.  I used this recipe, and a basic frosting recipe with butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, almond, and milk.

We got this as a gift awhile back, and I love that it's pretty much just made of sugar and cocoa powder, and you add it to milk.  Yum.  Almost a daily treat for me these days. 

My very basic, though happy Christmas mantle.  (One nativity is from Africa, the other from Israel.) I saw so many cute ideas on Pinterest of course, then made myself just use what we already had.  And yes, I do still plan on sewing our stockings this weekend. ;)

I love that my brother and sister in law used photos I took of them at Thanksgiving this year for their Christmas card!!  That was definitely sweet.  The background and weather weren't as cooperative as we would have liked, but I loved the practice and that we got some really cute shots!  Such a beautiful family!

And of course, sweet Baby Love #2 at 24 weeks!!  That belly is sure growing, and this little one is moving in much more noticeable ways, which I love.  I can usually identify the body part that's kicking or punching me.  Love this stage of pregnancy...and that we will know the gender and can name this sweet one in just 6 days!!!  Merry Christmas for sure.

Finally, a super sweet video that the super creative and sweet photographer of Wildflowers Photography recently posted on her Facebook page.  I love looking at her amazing sessions and seeing her family through her perspective.  I also love her bold love for the Lord!  This video brought me to tears, partly because I'm prego, partly because of last week, and partly because Christmas is just special...and I love it through the eyes of children.  Enjoy!


Prayer for the Brokenhearted

Needless to say, what a tough, tragic day Friday was in this country.  Oh my goodness, too much to even comprehend or take in.  I am beyond grieved for the families and the loss of those precious lives...and the unimaginable pain that now has to be endured.  The whole thing is just so senseless that it's been tough to know what to think or at times how to pray.  But over and over I am continually asking God to "draw them near, please draw each person hurt and touched by this tragedy so near and close to you.  Bring so many to know you, to see you, to trust you and believe."  I pray they know comfort beyond reason and peace that passes understanding.  And that Jesus would be coming for us all soon.

Every other Sunday I teach the large group preschool time at church.  This past Sunday I just couldn't stop staring into all their little faces, and almost got choked up even while I was leading the upbeat worship time.  Their joy is so innocent and pure and wonderful.  Children are the best.  Even Jesus taught us this.  I have hated the reality of last week's events over and over.  And I just keep thinking the past couple days that it's enough.  The death and sickness and blatant disregard for the sovereignty of God has gone too far.  I pray with all my heart that it's over soon and we are welcomed into the most beautiful eternity in the presence of Jesus.  Yet it would seem there's more work to be done.

For Christians, I pray over and over for courage and boldness.  I pray often for the strength and wisdom to be able to raise my own kids with a courage that far surpasses my generation.  I don't know which generation will be the one to usher in the return of Christ, but I do know this - we are in a battle, and the enemy is on the prowl.  Yet he is fearful of us and especially of the one we follow.  He is powerless and we are already victorious through Christ.  As believers and followers of Christ we must recognize this and pray boldly for our families and our world in the name of Jesus so that the cowardly enemy is cast out and can claim no more souls for his destructive plans.  As much as I hate conflict and ruffling feathers, I loathe so much more apathy and silence in myself and others when there is an opportunity to speak and take a stand.  It's sad to see so many Christians unwilling to speak absolute truth in love, and to be so afraid to look crazy or different by speaking up unashamedly for Jesus and sharing the fullness of the life offered to all.  So many people are aching to be told the life giving truth.  And we must tell them, while becoming more faithful than ever in prayer.  We need some serious healing in this world.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

This morning I saw a well known pastor doing an interview concerning this tragic event in CT...and found it heartbreaking how he responded when asked if we should now, more than ever, focus on the true meaning of Christmas rather than the commercialized version.  He and his wife talked about loving each other...but never even mentioned the name of Jesus, or the sovereignty of our Creator God, before whom we desperately need to humble ourselves and fervently pray.  What a missed opportunity to share the gospel with the whole country, and the amazing love story that our Creator wrote for us...and in which we have a role.  Please let us not be in company with this particular pastor...as the opportunities around us rise to connect with strangers, coworkers, or friends over the grief we all share for such a tragedy that has occurred, let's be sure to lovingly yet boldly share the wonderful story of a Savior who humbled himself to rescue us from life threatening darkness.  Jesus, when speaking to his disciples before leaving them and after explaining what was about to happen to him said, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  You will have suffering in this world.  Be courageous!  I have conquered the world."  (John 16:33)

One verse that has reoccurred so much in my heart and mind this past year is John 10:10.  "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Oh how I long to share the message that Jesus came so that we may have life to the full!  As it says in the Psalms, and I've alluded to before, we are like grasshoppers down here, while God "sits enthroned upon the circle of the earth."  What an undeserved and loving gift to be offered true, full, beautiful eternal life.  And what a message we have to share.  Our Savior is the light in the midst of all this darkness.

I love what Jesus later goes on to say:

 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[c]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand." John 10:27-29

I trust in our loving heavenly Father who had each of us in mind before he ever began knitting us in our mother's wombs.  I long to know him, to listen to his voice, and follow where he leads.  We must start falling to our knees in realization of our desperate need for him.  I pray now and in the days ahead that those spirits most crushed by the loss of the ones they so dearly loved, would know and believe and feel the abundant life God intended as opposed to the death and darkness that seeks to overwhelm in this broken world.  Draw them near Father.  Please, please heal their hearts and draw them so near to yours.  Draw us all to you and give us the courage to do your will...so that your return for us will be soon.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

(Bob Russell wrote a particularly powerful blog post this past weekend concerning what happened in Newtown.)


22 Weeks with Baby #2

(As of Thursday I'm 23 weeks, so this will have to count for both for now. :)

Well, posting 4 posts at once - yikes!  Definitely a blogging "faux pas" I'm sure, but I have been writing and never posting so here's where we are. :)

(I used the self-timer for these photos and got the best faces out of Selah...she loved my running to be in the picture!  Ha. :)

I am now 22 weeks pregnant - wow!  Over half way there, which is amazing.  I love when my sweet one wiggles inside there, and I love that he or she is getting bigger and stronger.  Here are some stats:

How big: A papaya; a.k.a 1.2 lbs

Gender:  Don't know yet, but I am SO incredibly excited to find out.  Seriously I don't know how I did it last time.  We have our "Baby Love #2" envelope on the tree, and it won't be long now.  I will be like a kid on Christmas morning!  As far as inklings or ideas about the gender, I have days where I feel something totally different than the day before.  But I have envisioned snuggles and sweet moments with either, so I'm just thrilled to find out, and I think we'll be really surprised no matter what!

Names:  We have them, (as mentioned and explained in the other 3 posts;), and I still have a peace and excitement about them.  Certainly not unique like the first time, but the meanings are what drive us.  Very important to me.  It will be interesting to see if God lays anything dramatically different on Kevin's heart.

Sister love:  I am just so enjoying our little Selah girl, even the process of learning how to discipline and disciple her ever growing personality.  I was over at a friend's house the other day and she has 8 mo. old twins.  I was feeding her little girl a bottle and it was sweet to see Selah watching me and listening as I told her to be gentle.  She seems to really like babies, so I'm hopeful that rings true for her own little sibling as well!  Selah's words are becoming more clear, and her responses to things we ask her to do show so much that she's understanding and can communicate now.  We are constantly amazed by this tiny person that we love so very much!

How I'm feeling:  I'm doing great, other than some pretty major fatigue.  I might start taking iron pretty soon, which helped last time.  I will also say this sweet baby definitely dances on my bladder...so you can imagine the results of that. Oh, and hot flashes. Having a lot of those, maybe more noticeable this time because it's not 90 degrees out like the summer before I had Selah!

I really start to love this point in pregnancy, especially as I inch closer to the third trimester.  Last time I loved that last stretch, and I hope that is the case this time as well!  I love resting my hands on my belly, feeling those movements, just getting big and pregnant.  So fascinating and it continues to amaze and humble me.  I do have to say I don't love dressing for pregnancy much this time of year, partly because I just won't spend money on many new clothes, especially when we're home so much and I'm just not afraid to repeat all the time. :)  But I so love the growing belly.  It's almost comical, but I feel a lot the same as last time - much more comfortable in my pregnant body than my regular one.  I guess I like being particularly functional. I'm not quite sure I can say the same for my growing hips this time however.  I have not been exercising, but am starting to get quite motivated to not save all that work for after the baby comes! 

Cravings:  Well, I really am trying to stay conscious and careful, but I did particularly enjoy the seasonal gingerbread donut from Krispy Kreme the other day - yum!!  And I am able, (and willing!) to eat a whole dessert instead of a couple bites...which isn't normal for me.  Okay...and I generally enjoy at least a piece of Dove chocolate a day.  This time of year definitely has some frosted cream cheese sugar cookies calling me to make them too!!  Basically my sweet tooth is acting all kinds of crazy with this little one.  Just writing all this makes me want to run out and buy some spinach!! ;)

Things I'm thinking about:  That prayer is my primary occupation.  I really want to write a post on this, but as a mom who often feels frazzled, like I'm just not getting it all done, and that I should be doing more, I am thankful for the reminder that as a follower of Christ my number one calling will always be faithfulness in prayer.  And it truly excites me at the power that can ingnite through the work of the Holy Spirit when I intervene for my family and for others.

Fun moment this last week:  (last) Friday one of my sisters in law had her 3rd little boy!  We didn't know the gender so it was really exciting to be there when her other boys announced it.  We are thrilled that God has blessed them with another child after a long road they've been on of asking and waiting.  The new baby's name is Judah and he is just precious.  It will be so fun to see the 3 boys bond and grow together!  We are thrilled for them and for the family!

I really, really love this time of year, and this Christmas has already been my favorite one yet in our marriage.  We even had our tree up and mostly decorated the week before Thanksgiving, and I have so enjoyed it.  I've also been listening to Christmas music and drinking hot chocolate every day, taking it all in.  I'm even more excited for next year when we can do some more directed traditions with Selah (and the new baby).  Memory making and celebrating Jesus is the best.  So thankful.