I'll also add here that this was a wonderful time for my family...but I know that is not the case for many, and just a few nights ago, a dear friend of mine (also the sister of another dear friend of mine) died very tragically in her home due to a house fire. They were hosting exchange students from India for the holidays, and the three of them died as well. Ever since I heard the news of what happened, and remembering hearing all the sirens that were just a half mile from my house, I've been pretty somber, thinking of their family as often as I breathe. I cannot imagine their pain as they faced yesterday without her. I am so glad to say that they were all believers and followers of Jesus, and that we have hope in Him. I take comfort in the fact that while Jesus walked on this earth, He also knew what it was like to grieve, when He saw that His friend Lazarus died. The bible tells us that Jesus wept. He knows well the pain of those here grieving this tremendous loss, and the Lord is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). I'm blown away by the strength that my friends have displayed for all those around them. I know it is only with the strength that God has given to them, and the loved ones surround all of them. My friend Kari went to a different church nearby, and they have such a wonderful group of friends that are like family around them as well.
Will you help me pray for them all? The family of my friend Kari who passed away, her husband and three kids, and their extended family? But also the family of the three siblings who passed away? I cannot imagine their grief, because all of their children died. My heart aches for them all, and every time I think of them, I just pray for them again.
Thank you, in advance, for your prayers for them all.
On a much lighter note, we had a wonderful time of celebrating with family in the past few days. It's our tradition that we attend my church's candlelight Christmas eve service, and afterward we go to my dad's for Christmas with them.
Trish (on the right) and I FINALLY remembered to get pictures! I'm so proud of us for this. We were the only ones who wanted pictures taken, so we just did us, and I also got my hubby to take one of the three of us and Sandy, our stepmom.
We left from there and went to drive around to look in my favorite neighborhood for Christmas lights (The Woods) for a few minutes, then we came home. The boys all headed upstairs right away, and Todd and I settled in for a Christmas movie, and I filled the stockings. We wrapped all the presents this year, and we did that in the days preceding Christmas, so our night was easy.
We were up early the next day, and at twelve, we went to Mom's for lunch.
We were all matching, and we did not do that on purpose!
My nephew Tyler and his pretty bride, Terri were there. The rest of our family lives in Colorado, and they were sorely missed! It's always bittersweet when we can't all be together each year.
My in-love's were there, too, which makes it so special for us. I'm so glad that our parents are such good friends, that is a huge gift!
My mom has beautiful Christmas decorations, and her tree is always my favorite.
In the days preceding Christmas, my best friend and I went to Jackson, Tennessee for one night, for my birthday. We went to the Christmas concert of Englewood Baptist, where one of our favorite worship leaders is the music director, we watched Christmas movies in our hotel room, we shopped, we ate, we laughed, I cried. You know, all those normal emotions. We needed that time together, because we haven't spent quality time together in ages, and we both needed some refreshing. It was a perfect trip.
We wore our matching sweatshirts home.
I also read a lot of Christmas books from my favorite spot.
This one's my fourth of the month and I'm still enjoying it.
I drank a lot of hot tea, and I wrapped a ton of presents. (Hot tea has been tasting better to me than coffee lately, so I'm on this tea kick.)
Callie ate some things, part of Sandy's Christmas present being one. This was her being ashamed that she ate part of the soap bottle.
I spent several days shopping with my mom and my mom-in-love. This is Phyllis and I finishing our day of shopping with a peppermint milkshake.
I finished out my shopping for extended family one day last week, and I saw this at HomeGoods and laughed way too hard when I read the cover. I wish I'd bought this, but I put it back.
I had some good, quality time with Jesus most days this month. I've been concentrating on scripture writing a lot lately, and this was one verse I came across one morning.
He always blows my mind. He did so when Missy and I went to Jackson. We had NO IDEA we needed refreshing spiritually, but He sure did. We thought we were going to hear good Christmas music, but what we both experienced was the presence of Jesus Himself as we sat together on that last pew in the church and worshiped Him. I know we both bawled our eyes out, because at one point, we could almost tangibly feel Him around us. We had no idea we had been going through a dry spell in our friendship and missed each other, but He knew that and we came back home feeling like our old selves again. We also made a promise to get together one night every two weeks and catch up. We're used to seeing each other a lot more than we do nowadays, and we just miss each other. So yes, I would say with all certainty that He is great and His greatness is unsearchable, just like this verse in Psalm 145 says.
So that's about all I've been up to lately.
Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for helping me pray for the families effected by the house fire on Sunday night. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I know we did, and once again, I am so grateful for the family that we have, and that we all have such great relationships. Tragedy makes you think about things, and one thing I do is say I love you to my people as often as I can. I want them to know that aside from Jesus, I loved them all the most. I don't want to have stupid arguments and hold grudges, I told my sisters that in a text (not that we do that). I want us to always remain close and to be each other's champions and cheerleaders. Family is everything. I am so thankful to God for all He has done., and for how He loves us.
Love to all.