31 December 2007

Happy New Year!!!

I've never really been one for resolutions...although I do remember 2. The first was when I "resolved" to read the Bible in a year, you know, cover to cover in 365 days. I did it too. Mainly, I think because it was a group resolution with some of the girls at JYA. The second resolution is the embarassing one that I have mentioned before...about entering every contest/sweepstakes/giveaway that I came across. The silly part is, I was older when I made that resolution! I only stuck that one out about 6 months. And all I "won" was a Mary Kay makeover with a free product from a Mary Kay consultant that never returned my phone calls!!!

I really prefer to reflect on the year past and look forward to the year ahead. I know its kind of cliche, but its true. Since we started sending a Christmas letter, it gets my reflections started early. It is so wonderful to retrace a year, and see God's hand of blessing pour over us each month. Sure, there were difficulties, but overall, I remember the blessings, the lessons, the milestones. The further I walk on this path (and man, do I have a long way to go), the more confident I am of the goodness of our Father. A quiet confidence that He is leading my every step. That He is guiding my family through the leadership of my husband. This year I have seen it abundantly, and I am eager to see His hand in the year to come.

Of course, I cannot look ahead to 2008 without thinking about the upcoming deployment. I don't want to live the next couple months in a "countdown" mode, but at the same time, I don't want to take this time for granted either. Its a crazy balance to find, and I am so thankful that we don't have to do it alone. Our God is so good in giving the wisdom that we need.

Another thing I can't help but think about in 2008 is Wilson starting school. It barely seems possible that my baby is old enough for kindergarten...and yet each day, one more thing happens to confirm that he, indeed, is growing up.

As I reflect, there are areas that I hope to improve in the year to come as well. I want to read more books to the boys. I want to clean the house a bit more effectively. I want to encourage my husband more. And I want to savor more moments. I love new beginnings, I love the anticipation of what is to come. The hope of the future is a beautiful thing, and the future is just a day away. Look back on 2007, make a mental list of the many, many good things that have happened in your life. Look ahead to 2008, savor the moment of wondering what good things will come your way. Ask God to prepare you for His blessings, and then savor them as they come. They will come, regardless of your situation, regardless of the challenges you may face, His blessings will come.

"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

Really Great Article from Crown.org

Here is the first two sections the entire article can be read here.

Steps to Financial Freedom

How can we achieve financial freedom? What must we do according to God’s plan?

1. Transfer Ownership

Christians must transfer ownership of every possession to God. This means money,
time, family, material possessions, education, even earning potential for the future. This is
essential to experience the Spirit-filled life in the area of finances (see Psalms 8:4-6).
We must realize that there is absolutely no substitute for this step. If we believe that we
are the owners of even a single possession, then the events affecting that possession are going
to affect our attitudes. God will not force His will on us. He will not input His perfect will
into our lives unless we first surrender our wills to Him.


However, if we make a total transfer of everything to God, He will demonstrate His
ability. It is important to understand and accept God’s conditions for His control (see
Deuteronomy 5:32-33). God will keep His promise to provide every need we have through
physical, material, and spiritual means, according to His perfect plan.

It is simple to say that we will make a total transfer of everything to God, but it’s not so
simple to do. At first, we will experience some difficulty in consistently seeking God’s will in
the area of material things, because we are so accustomed to self-management and control.
But financial freedom comes from knowing God is in control.

What a great relief it is to turn our burdens over to Him. Then, if something happens to
the car, we can say, “Father, I gave this car to You; I’ve maintained it to the best of my ability,
but I don’t own it. It belongs to You, so do with it whatever You would like.” Then look for
the blessing God has in store as a result of this attitude.

2. Become Debt Free

A Christian must get out of debt altogether. Again, let me define a scriptural debt. Debt
exists with any of the following conditions.
- Payment is past due for money, goods, or services that are owed to other people.
- The total value of unsecured liabilities exceeds total assets. In other words, if you
had to cash out at any time, there would be a negative balance on your account.
- The family’s basic needs are not being met, producing anxiety in the area of financial
responsibility.

30 December 2007

Coaster Cars

Santa brought the boys Coaster Cars, you can check them out here if you are interested in them. They love them! Brad and I have had fun too, but have to take a break as we have pulled a few **ahem** groin muscles. Walker loves to have a passenger, but is getting better and better at making it go himself! We even tried them outside today for a bit. We would've never thought of them, and certainly wouldn't have bought two. That Santa sure knows his stuff! (For the really curious, my mom bought them, but don't tell Wilson)

**On another note...do you like the piggies and pinwheels??? I thought we might need to add a little patriotism to the blog as we prepare for the deployment!

just a few pictures...

Wilson and Muskoka hanging out.

Walker wanted to wear Wilson's baker's hat, so I had to put the apron on him...soooo cute. It didn't last more than a few moments though. Brad and Wilson are "camping-out" right now. We'll see if that lasts all night or not. Its pretty cold if you ask me, but they are in the small tent with the warm sleeping bags. So, I thought I'd go through some of our pictures from the last week and put them on the blog.

I told you about our friends moving in. Today we walked down to the park. Then they stopped by afterwards. I was making Bisquick Chicken Pot Pie for dinner (pretty fool proof), so I doubled the recipe and asked them to stay. (The movers haven't moved them yet, they just have some essentials at their new house now). So we had dinner and were chatting, when there was a clatter and crying. Gavin fell off the recliner and hit his head on the tile floor. The kind of fall, that results with an immediate bulging bruise on the forehead, and a bit of blood from the nose. Thankfully, he is ok. They took him to the ER (both Dads thought it would be fine, both Moms wanted reassurance). They did do xrays, but Nicole just called and said he is fine. Just a big bump and a black eye. For those of you that don't remember, Gavin broke his arm at our house this summer... I hope they don't regret the move!!!!
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28 December 2007

just wanted to "brag on God" a bit...

He worked it out that our friends Aaron, Nicole and Gavin are moving to our block...AGAIN! They are the friends that we met on our block off post. Gavin and Wilson played together often and it was sad to move away from them. Nicole said Gavin still says "Wilson's house" when they go by our old rental. Today Nicole called and said they got out of their lease and they are moving into a house on the street behind us. WOO HOO! Now they will be even closer than they were before, and with upcoming deployments for both of our husbands, its nice to know we will be close by... Gotta give credit where credit is due, and our God is NOT a God of coincidence. Is that awesome or what????

26 December 2007

bedtime and the day after...

...doesn't their room look perfect with the matching quilts???Wilson on his new quilt, in his new jammies, with Barney Stormin' (airplane from Cars).
Walker just being a cutie, in spite of his fever...
A quick spin with Walker before Brad headed to work this morning...
and Wilson going for a spin, exhibiting some road rage it seems!


25 December 2007

Christmas Slideshow!

a glimpse of Christmas morning...

...the stockings were stuffed......the santa gifts ready...
...the PJ pants on...although a bit shrunk...
Time to dig in!
Keep diggin'!
I did not know what to expect of a Christmas like this. How would we ever teach our kids that "its not about the gifts" when all the people that sent gifts were so very far away? I think we came up with a good solution and we had a wonderful day. We found pictures of everyone that sent gifts and put them in a bowl. Throughout the day, Wilson would choose a picture from the bowl and we would open those gifts at that time. Of course, there were a couple grouches by the time it was all over, for some reason, nap time didn't quite work out today! Thankfully they are tucked in; in new Cars jammies, new Cars sheets (for Walker), and new Cars quilts--handmade by Great Grandma Kruizenga! We plan to put a slideshow together of pictures from throughout the day. I hope you all had a blessed Christmas day!

24 December 2007

23 December 2007

extreme makeover: Gingerbread edition

Yesterday was the day for our 2nd annual Gingerbread creation (last year was a train.) The kit we bought this year was not quite as simple as last year. We had to mix the icing ourselves...GASP!...then we had to wait an hour between assembling the sides and the roof...and then another 2-3 hours before decorating. Still, nothing compared with making it all yourself, I'm sure, perhaps one day we'll try that; perhaps not...I told Wilson he had to wear his antlers if he wanted to help. There were a couple times that Dad or Mom said, "Take those dumb things off!" As they were hitting us in the face during construction.... (Again with the great ideas...)
Walker was nearby most of the time...
Wilson was a little surprised that Walker was eating the decorations...
The end result!


21 December 2007

another great idea...

Before Brad got home (which he did, safely around 8pm), Wilson and I were frosting cookies again. I said to Wilson, "Oh, I have an idea, I have to see if it will work..." So I grabbed this little stencil of his to see if I could pour the sprinkles through it to make a design. It didn't work. However, this must have brought an idea to Wilson's mind. He says to me, "I have this idea that I just can't stop thinking about." I ask inquisitively, "Well, what is it?"

"Eat the frosting...I just can't stop thinking about it!" he replies emphatically.

"You only have two cookies left, then you can eat it..." I tell him.

**BIG SMILE**

20 December 2007

daddy's coming home...

**YIPPEE** If I were clever I'd write a poem about the sewing stuff being put away with great care, in hopes that Brad/Daddy soon would be there... but, I'm not clever, just excited! Yesterday I snapped a few shots of the kids playing in the garage (again), this time its a little more organized... Of course, after drawing on the chalkboard for a few minutes, he was in Daddy's tool box and then playing with a Camel-Back... What are you going to do? At least nobody got hurt...
Wilson's motto is safety first, Brad has done a wonderful job instilling the "always wear a helmet" mantra.... Wil kept exclaiming that he is almost ready to take his training wheels off as he drove in circles around the trike!

A couple shots from breakfast, I thought Walker looked so adorable with his hand on his face while he was eating, I almost missed the picture though because as always, the pose is gone when the camara comes out!

You can kinda tell Willy's not feeling his best this morning... he slept great last night and ate well this morning. He is so anxious for Daddy to get home!

Mom, this one's for you... For the rest of you, here's the story...I had this great idea about putting bath salts in our Warmee's. I bought the kind for sinus/allergy, and I thought the scent combined with the moist heat would be perfect for a sinus headache. Thankfully, I did a test run in the microwave before sewing it all up.... I think the microwave still smells a bit...

I wish I had scratch and sniff options for this picture... WOW! Learn from my lesson, always test your great ideas first!!!

19 December 2007

done, baby, done

WOO HOO! The PJ pants are done! I only sewed one waistband closed and three pant legs...thankfully, I recognized my errors fairly quickly...what a shame it would've been if I hadn't noticed until Christmas eve...and I have a good seam reaper. I washed them this morning, and none of them fell apart. I know 3 out of 4 fit, too. So, we'll post some pics later. I also sewed two Warmee's (you know the rice bags) and I got Walker's stocking done too. Now its time to get the office back in order....

In other news, Wilson has hand-foot-mouth disease. Poor kid. Anyone have experience with this one? I guess its fairly harmless and will pass. We will be lysol-ing Little People Land as well as Radiator Springs this afternoon... We'll make a game of it perhaps..."Light showers for most of the afternoon, with a touch of acid rain..."

And finally, I meant to put a brief post about this the other night but didn't. There is a reality show on NBC this week called, "Clash of the Choirs." There are 5 musicians that have created choirs from their hometowns competing for $250,000 for a local charity. Blake Shelton put together a choir from Oklahoma City...but technically, I guess its from all over Oklahoma. There are two Fort Sill soldiers in his choir. One of them deployed with Brad to Afghanistan and his wife is in my Bible study small group. It has been fun to watch. I thought for sure they would've been voted out after the first night (they did not do well at all), but they made it through. If you get a chance, check it out tonight and keep an eye out for Capt. Saul.

17 December 2007

an experiment...

that sort of just happened. I didn't really plan ahead, but in the midst of the day, decided to stick with it.

Today I was Walker's shadow, not saying "NO" or snatching contraband at each turn. Rather, I was around him and I talked to him. I said it just happened, but that's the earthly explanation for God's intervention. You see, with Brad gone, the busyness becomes exasperating, and when I am exasperated, its not a great environment for my boys. And let's be reminded, Brad's (only) gone for 12 days this time, the next time he leaves it may be for 15 months. So when I am exasperated after a few days, Satan gets a foothold, and he begins to whisper, "if you can't handle a few days, how will you handle a year?" I could go on with those lies, he is the father of them after all...

I needed to go to the Post Office, yes, on the busiest day of the year. And rather than start on a bad note, I decided to skip showering...trouble always brews during shower time... Off we went. I planned ahead and brought the stroller. From there, we went to Wal-Mart where we lost Walker's second hat of the season (its going to be a long winter). I decided not to rush taking a shower when we got home, I did not want to leave the two alone for 10 minutes today. When Walker brought the deodorant out of the bathroom, I got on my knees and told him it wasn't a toy. He looked at me and tugged on his shirt. He knew it wasn't a toy. He wanted to put some on. If I had just grabbed it like normal, he would've thrown a fit and then a few more poor choices would've followed...We do this everyday, I know the drill. When he woke up too early from his nap, I laid down with him, rather than letting him wander around still tired. He fell back to sleep for another hour. When Wilson made cards for his teachers, I let Walker play with the foam pieces too (Ok, so they did go in his mouth and Muskoka's water dish, but he was there with us.) When they played in the garage, I watched from a distance. I saw Wilson aggravate him (I don't want to burst any bubbles, here, but poor Wilson has been with an exasperated Mommy and the one he can take that out on is his brother.) This time when Walker got mad, he didn't get in trouble, I intervened with a different perspective.

There are other examples from the day... I didn't get my grocery list finished, and I forgot to turn on the dryer. I haven't sewn a stitch yet and its already approaching late in my book. But--I got to have a 'debrief' in the bathtub after the boys were asleep...not a bad way to end a day really. My Father reminded me today of the way He loves. He reminded me that He called me to this place, to mother these children, to love this man--this soldier. He reminded me that He has the strength for each day, regardless of my circumstances, His strength will not run low. He will not tire, He will not leave. He called me to this place at this time.

I found a picture the other day from when I was in Africa. In it, I am standing with a woman and her child and I am wearing an Army (PT) shirt. God knew the irony that photograph would one day hold for me. Its amazing to think that when that picture was taken over 8 years ago, and I thought I was going to be a single missionary, He knew. He knew all about today, He knew my husband would one day go to Africa as a soldier. Is it just me or is that mind-blowing? And crazier yet...He knows what each and every one of my days ahead holds as well... I have a feeling that picture will become even more special as this deployment comes closer...

Anyway, its a bit of a long-winded ramble there, but I wanted to share some thoughts. I will cherish this day, its one of those days!

14 December 2007

garage goldmine!

Yesterday the boys and I drove up to Oklahoma City for the day to visit a friend. Of course, they fell asleep on the way home. As I was unloading all of our goodies (and gear and everything else we needed for the trip), they started playing in the garage. I put a pizza in the oven, and they did NOT want to come in. They are playing out there right now while dinner is cooking tonight too. I might have to actually rearrange a few things to make it a safer playing environment... you know the rat poison and stuff will be on Walker's list once the novelty wears off....
Here are a few shots from yesterday (actually the one with the bike is from tonight...see Wally at the tool bench?) A weird game of "Chase" with plastic lawn equipment...
I think Muskoka thinks the weed-eater is real!
I told you they didn't want to come in... I know its TERRIBLE to take pictures of your kids when they are crying, but it was so weird that they were both so upset about having to come eat pizza after playing in the garage...
...its not like we were at Disney World or like we were eating liver and onions for dinner!
Walker even lost a shoe out there, which we recovered today before we had to leave. So, I am happy to have discovered the goldmine in our garage.
Woo Hoo!!!

have you ever heard of...

a freezing fog warning?

I have to write this list somewhere...

  1. Dumps cereal (including milk) all over self at breakfast.
  2. Breaks a mason jar in front bathroom as I am stepping out of shower in back bathroom.
  3. Shoves DVD into VCR player at rather strange angle as I am returning to back bathroom after sweeping up broken glass.
  4. Rummages through my wallet while I track down shoes. (This is a real pain when you are on a cash-only budget!)
  5. Shoves dog biscuit into mouth while waiting for me to open garage door, while bundled up in winter coat!

13 December 2007

here we sew again...


Here is the makeshift sewing room...I have to admit, I kind of like it. After the boys go to bed I get to sewing. Its actually pretty relaxing and enjoyable. I'm a bit surprised, I had already decided that I would abandon the pj pants if it became stressful...granted, I have only done the easy stuff....those of you that really sew are probably thinking "the whole project is easy stuff!" I have no final product yet, just three pair waiting for waistbands and hems and one pair pinned together...
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12 December 2007

reindeer games...

they made antlers after storytime at the library today. I tried REALLY hard to get a picture with both of them wearing theirs... Walker had other ideas! antlers mid-flight
almost got it here...
big brother is snacking on Smarties while modeling and little brother wants in on it (these two are candy addicts and I can't for the life of me figure out where they get it from....hmmm...)
finally two subjects wearing antlers, unfortunately it turned out blurry, if you squint it looks pretty good... she was no more happy about the reindeer games than Walker!

pour some sugar on me...

I know, the title is cliche, right?

Last night Alivia and Wilson helped frost our sugar cookies. Wow...that was an experience. Two four-year-olds, one 18 month old, and one adult are a dangerous combination...especially after you factor in the sticky, sugary mess called frosting (or icing? what's the difference?)
They had fun adding sprinkles too, although, in a few cases there were more sprinkles than cookie!
Notice the cookie bandit in the bottom of this picture. He'd try to get his little, sticky fingers on the waxed paper and give it a tug. His eyes are saying, "I WANT COOKIE" (Of course, in Cookie Monster's voice) The funny thing is, he didn't want the cookie, he just wanted to lick the frosting off...
Debbie, I do not know how you did all those years of cookie frosting with Rene and I after Thanksgiving, but I now understand a little of your impatience as the day ran on...we only frosted about two dozen cookies last night, and I was tired out!

11 December 2007

a quick prayer request

Brad's brother Colson (known 'round these parts as Uncle Cole) is having some oral surgery tomorrow. He will be under anesthesia for approx. 5-6 hours during the procedure. We would appreciate your prayers for him, the doctors and Mom and Dad tomorrow at 9am eastern time. Cole is 5 years old. You can read Brad's mom's blog to get more details if you want or to leave a comment and let them know you will be praying.

10 December 2007

the roads are fine...

Ice storms are beautiful. Thankfully the roads are just wet and the power is still on. Thought I'd just snap a few pictures of the ice around the front of the house. Muskoka is not quite sure what to make of the frozen grass. We've had some thunder, but nothing major.


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09 December 2007

Children's Musical

This pic is right before they start singing... I already described to Brad what Wilson is doing... When they got on stage I mouthed to Wilson "pull your sweater down." Apparently he is no better at reading lips than I am so he thought it was a big game. He then started mouthing and gesturing...initially while the pastor was welcoming everyone...this received some chuckles so Wilson continued the gestures and mouthing until the song began! I couldn't stop laughing long enough to give him a stern look, I am hoping our friends got it on video because this pic barely captures the tip of the iceberg! I didn't realize he was such a ham!
A couple of shots of the little singers. I did take some video with our camera but I don't know how to "render" it or anything, so maybe Brad can when he gets back...at least he can watch it! They sang "C'mon Ring Those Bells," and "Happy Birthday, Jesus".

By the way, Brad made it safely to Fort Sam. His room is huge and in a very old building...1889-ish. He even has a fireplace in his room...nonworking of course. We have ice on our grass and icicles hanging off everything...the roads were still fine at 8:15pm.
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