New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year’s Eve!  Goodbye 2017 – it’s been a great year!

Bookworm

Have I mentioned lately how much of a bookworm my little Susie is?  She gets absolutely lost in each and every book she reads.  And she plows through books so quickly!  It’s a good thing we have a great library nearby, because otherwise this book habit could get pretty expensive!  Here she is reading in the car while waiting for the bus.  I love my little bookworm!

 

Big Girls’ Night Out

A few weeks ago, my friends Maria and Laura met Becky, Susie, and I for dinner at a nearby mall.  It was really nice to just go and relax together, not worrying about corralling the boys or entertaining the baby.  Maria and Laura reminded me that we all met for breakfast years ago at a IHOP.  I had completely forgotten about that!

Here’s the last time just the five of us had a meal together:

You can see my girls were just as excited then as now to see our friends!  Hopefully it won’t be another six years before we can do it again!

Christmas Message

This Christmas Day was wonderful.  It was a flurry of wrapping paper, Lego parts, Nerf bullets, and candy.  We woke up to a white Christmas, which we appreciated even more because it meant the kids could try out their new “Kitty Cat” snowmobile.  It was the perfect day!  I’ll share pictures soon, but I wanted to share a blog post that I recently read.  It was written by a woman named Sara Wallace, who blogs at The Gospel-Centered Mom (she’s a mom to five young boys – I don’t know how she has time to write, let alone write so well!).  I thought her words were a beautiful reminder that we truly can’t appreciate the Lord Jesus as a redeemer until we understand our need for redemption.  She explains it much more eloquently than I ever could!  Here is her post:

“I just have to laugh at the audacity of babies. They think they rule the universe. Recently I took my 12-month-old on an airplane. I held him up to the window, expecting him to be spellbound by the massive size of the airplane, the speed, the height…but he wasn’t. He slapped the window, gave a brazen squeal, and tried desperately to reach out and touch the wing. He would have lunged out of the window if he could have.

He has no idea of the dangers I deliver him from daily. That’s because babies fixate on what’s right in front of their faces. They fuss when we remove dangerous objects from their hands or deliver them from a harmful plunge down a flight of stairs.

I am often guilty of the same short-sightedness. Just like my son who wanted to lunge out of the airplane, I take deliverance for granted when I don’t stop to ponder what I’ve been delivered from. Deliverance means rescue. It means being removed from one path and placed on another. What path was I on? Why did I need rescuing? What dangers awaited me before God reached down and swooped me out of harm’s way? The answer is in 1 Thessalonians 1:10: “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

“Wrath” is not a word we like to think about – especially at Christmas time. But the most vivid display of God’s wrath began in a dusty manger. When the world looks into the manger they get a warm fuzzy feeling and a vague notion of world peace. But upon a closer look we see something totally different. We see the dreadful, holy wrath of God that required nothing less than the blood of his own Son to satisfy it. This baby shows us the gravity of what our sins deserve. He came to absorb every drop of wrath for his people so there would be no wrath left for us.

But what is wrath? From a human standpoint I might think of wrath as the feeling I get when I see my pile of clean laundry strewn across the backyard and used as a fort. But God’s wrath is not simply an angry reaction. It is an inseparable part of His character. It goes hand in hand with his holiness, love, and justice. We can’t give wrath a backseat simply because it is unpleasant. God’s attributes are so intertwined that we can’t diminish one without diminishing them all. Unlike my sinful human anger, God’s wrath is evidence of his holiness. Perfect holiness cannot tolerate sin. All sin must experience the wrath of God.

The most horrific thing any human being could experience is to stand before a holy God on the day of judgment and receive the full fury of his wrath for all of eternity. Our sin, even the smallest sinful thought, deserves nothing less. But the manger of wrath is also a manger of deliverance. For those who put their trust in Jesus, judgement day has already happened. God’s wrath came. It demanded justice and that’s exactly what it got. Jesus took it all. In Jesus I could no more face the wrath of God than Jesus could face it again for me. It’s over. Not because God got sentimental and decided to give me a free pass, but because the wrath I deserved was poured out on another.

I have to ask myself: What is there left to be afraid of?

Suddenly earthly cares loosen their ties on my heart. My messy house, my teething baby, and my quarreling toddlers are overshadowed by the peace of deliverance. I’ve been delivered from God by God. What else could possibly touch me? “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-29)

What is weighing your heart down this holiday season? Don’t settle for the warm fuzzy peace that lasts for a moment and then is gone. Eternal peace comes from knowing we are right with God. Look deep into the manger. See the baby who is a consuming fire – a fire that will punish for all of eternity or protect for all of eternity. For God’s people, what started in the manger ended at the cross. And now our eternal deliverance from wrath is our daily deliverance from fear, doubt, and despair. It’s a peace that lasts long after the Christmas decorations come down. It’s a peace that lasts forever.”

Weekend News

Recently, Jim brought home a booklet of his “weekend news” reports that he had written over the past few months.  I loved this entry from October, following a weekend where we attended a fall party at our friends’ home.  Here’s the translation: “Do you know what I did on Saturday.  I went to Chris’ dad’s house.  There I played laser tag.  I was the red team.  I loved it.  I hope we do it again.”

If you read this Annemarie, I guess we’re inviting ourselves back to your house for another game of laser tag! 🙂 .

Grandparents Visit 3

Looking back over all these photos makes me miss my parents even more.  We love all these great times with them and can’t wait until their next visit!

Grandparents Part 2

My mom’s favorite part of the day is heading down to the bus stop to greet the big kids.  She had a very eager helper!

We loved having my parents here to help assemble and decorate the tree.  Look at this old gem we found.  Jim and I look like babies!

And as always, my mom came equipped with lots of gifts and crafts.  The kids were thrilled!

My dad got in lots of snuggles, roughhousing, and games!

Grandparents Arrive!

A few days after we returned from Arizona, we were blessed with a week-long visit from my parents!  Yay for Grammie and Grandpa!!!!!

The kids broke out a 1,000 piece puzzle for my dad to do with them.  They didn’t finish that week, but they had a fun time trying!

We visited Santa while they were here, and the kids were excited they made Santa’s nice list! 🙂

AZ Pics 7

Here are the last of our Arizona pictures.  Wish we were there again right now!

The kids got in some November swimming in the hot tubs:

Max the dog got all the attention any dog could ever want (and much more!):

We had quite a few memorable badminton tournaments:

The girls snuck away for an afternoon of shopping: 

And of course we had to visit the American Girl store:

We take up a pretty large table at dinner all together!

And Julie even got the kids Gingerbread houses to decorate:

So many great memories!

AZ Pics 6

We celebrated an early Thanksgiving in AZ (I wish I had gotten pictures of the gorgeous spread Julie prepared!), and the kids treated us to yet another kid written-and-directed Thanksgiving play.  This one featured a pig, a turkey, an old man, an old woman, and more!  It was SO cute!