Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas 2014-Our Digital Christmas Card

December 2014
Dear Loved Ones,
  I recently read through some of our past Christmas cards and determined two things:
1.) We are very blessed. Seriously, we’ve had our trials, but God sustains and gives us strength, and the good He’s given us (family, friends, church, etc.) far outweighs the hardships!
2.) Life is a whole new ballgame after a second child! Wow, I apologize for all the peachy keen, glowing reports with our easy firstborn. We have since learned that Callie’s behavior during the first few years was a gift; it was not due to our exceptional parenting! Laughing in the face of everything we thought we had nailed, Maggie or both girls give us daily reminders that take us back to Sergeant Schultz’ famous line, “I know nothing!” However, I am so very thankful for our precious girls-for their sweet smiles, their contagious laughter and their heartwarming hugs but also, (in my good moments—when they’re in bed or playing nicely J) for those sleepless nights, the crazy disobedience and the constant cries of, “MAMA!!!!!” that drive me to prayer. And for those of you who pray for us—for our parenting and for our girls to grow to love the Lord with all their hearts, THANK YOU! It means the world to us!

   2014 was a very busy year! Maggie turned one in February. We celebrated with a family trip to Disneyland. This was a win-win-win in my book. We had a great family vacation with friends and visited our CA family; Maggie will think we are awesome when she looks back on pictures years from now (hopefully J); and I didn’t have to throw a one-year-old birthday party (totally sneaky). Maggie is the little firecracker that lights up our family. She has an amazing cheeseball smile that comes out as soon as she sees a camera phone! She loves to climb and thinks “childproofing” is a joke. She adores her sister; she loves snuggling, playing chase and stealing her sister’s stuff! She just figured out how to open Callie’s bedroom door-insert dramatic meltdown from 4-year-old! While her comprehension and athleticism has been excellent for quite some time, her verbal skills are just beginning to come out. Callie has proven to be an adept translator when Daddy and Mommy are clueless!

   Speaking of Callie, our little performer is happiest when she is on the go! She is once again loving preschool and has some sweet friends. She also began ballet this fall. I’m not sure there’s anything cuter than little girls in ballet! We are all excited to watch her in the Nutcracker next week! Callie also enjoyed her first official year of VBS this summer-including the stage performance at the end, and she will be in the children’s church Christmas play as a baby dancing cactus! She loves to put on concerts for us at home and goes by the stage name of “Lisa Margaret”! Our little Sweetheart is constantly playing imaginary games and challenges us on a daily basis, as the lectures we give her are so often ones we need to hear ourselves! “Talk less; listen more. Don’t throw a fit; just ask for help. It doesn’t matter what “she” did; you are responsible for how you react.” I find myself having to apologize for my reactions to my children far too often! Thank goodness for the forgiveness they freely give, just like our heavenly Father!

   Dave has spent the year continuing to figure out the role/schedule of lead pastor. We have all discovered that unwinding from the job is even more difficult in this position. However, he is doing a great job, and God is blessing our church. As a church, we are doing the Read the Bible for Life program-a chronological read through the Bible in a year. Dave’s sermons come from a passage we read each week. Earlier this fall, Dave and the other pastors got to go to the Catalyst conference in Atlanta. It was a great time of learning and bonding as friends and a ministry team. Another highlight of the fall was the Men’s Chili Cook-off, where Dave took first place with his “Smokin’ Porker” chili. He has also been further perfecting our favorite salsa recipe and continues to enjoy barbecuing whenever the weather allows. Another fun thing for Daddy is that both girls enjoy playing with his remote control helicopter and are now getting into Wii games.

   Dave and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary next week! I think most who are married would say that similar to parenting, marriage has its perfectly blissful moments and its perfectly infuriating moments, all part of growing us closer in our relationship with the Lord. This year, Dave has had the opportunity to perform several weddings, and therefore, we have done some premarital counseling sessions. It’s been so valuable for us to get back to the basics some days and continue to work on our own marriage, as well!  In addition to counseling, I am, once again, co-directing the children’s Christmas play, which is a lot of fun and volunteering on the women’s ministry team at church. But of course, I spend most of my time trying to keep the girls from driving each other crazy-or worse, ganging up on their parents! I love taking zillions of pictures of them and on especially brave days attempting art or baking projects together. (They look adorable in their little matching aprons Grammy made them). I continue to enjoy working a few hours at the real estate office each week. My mom has been able to visit a couple weeks this fall. It’s great to have the time with her, and we are so grateful that her health continues to improve. The girls and I are also thankful to be able to see Dad a couple times a month.
We hope this Christmas brings you special family time and a new awareness of Christ’s love for you.
“Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.”
Philippians 2:6-7

With love,
Dave, Amy, Callie (4 ½) and Maggie (22 months)