Well, this is going to be the first of a two part-post...one about our busy, busy life around here the last month or so and then another about Christmas...one of the most wonderful times of our year!
We just returned from a visit to Idaho to see Nevin and Jennibeth and their children. The first week we had a missions conference at their church and the second week we played! SOOOOO fun! The only bad part of the whole trip was the good-byes.
I would put pictures on here but I haven't downloaded the pictures from the camera and my hubby is gone right now with the camera!
What a wonderful, wonderful trip. Seeing the church growing both physically and spiritually, seeing the faithful labor of Nevin and Jennibeth bringing fruit in Bonner's Ferry, seeing my grandbabies growing up and growing sweeter! Being with my daughter-in-law in her lovely home and enjoying the wonderful kindred spirit and fellowship we share.
Some of my favorite memories....telling the children the classic story "Moonfleet" each night. It has pirates in it and I'd promised them a pirate story when I came this time (it's usually Sam the Cowboy [made up by grandma] and The Jungle Doctor stories.) Well, I never dreamed it would scare the boys but Braden had trouble a couple nights and was afraid that when he looked down from the bunkbed he would be seeing the tunnel that went under the crypt at the church where Blackbeard was in his coffin. (Make you want to read it?) I told the boys that if they wanted me to stop I would but it had a very good lesson in the story about not thinking things and money could make you happy. They wanted me to continue the story. I told them if anyone got scared to come and get me in the night instead of waking their parents up. (I didn't want dad and mom upset with grandma!)
One night our bedroom door burst open and Colton was standing there with his eyes as big as saucers saying he was scared. (The night John Trenchard was lowered into the well in a bucket and the turnkey tried to kill him because of the huge diamond he found in the wall of the well.)
I asked him if he wanted me to come lay with him for a while and he said yes. When we got to the room it was his night to be on the bunk bed. I told him I couldn't crawl up there so I'd just lay on the floor. He agreed and crawled up on the bunk bed. While I'm laying there Asher is mumbling non-words in his sleep and Braden is letting a kind of happy sigh out with each breath. I thought, "No wonder the kid can't sleep, this is a noisy room!"
Finally it sounded like Colton's breathing was getting very relaxed and even and I stood up to sneak out of the room. He whispered right away, "Grandma, did you hear Asher?" with a giggle. I said, "I sure did. Are you going to be all right now?" He said yes, and I headed back to my room telling myself that next visit I think I would tell a little less stimulating story!
I love the memories of playing games in the evening with the family at the kitchen table, watching the snow out the living room windows, capturing deer on my camera in the neighbors yard while the guys are out hunting and can't seem to get one, (I made sure they knew I'd "shot" five deer while they were gone!) encouraging little Adalyn to take more steps so I could take some of the credit later for teaching her to walk, baking cookies with my grandsons, (we had icing and sprinkles spread liberally through Jennibeth's kitchen), and our wonderful Thanksgiving Day.
I enjoyed the day before Thanksgiving as much as I did the actual day. Jennibeth, Cierra and I all cooked together and had a wonderful day of fellowship. We made Swiss Medley, Sweet Potato Casserole, hot rolls, Pumpkin Roll, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Chess Pie, and Peanut Butter Pie to go with the turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes we were fixing on Thanksgiving Day. I know we had more but I can't remember it!
Our Thanksgiving Day was blessed and wonderful. The kids and I made turkey placecards to sit beside their plates and I made a poster board turkey for them to play games with after we ate.
First we threw beanie balls on Mr. Turkey as he was laying on the floor and they got points if they landed on a special feather, his beard, or his heart. Then we hung him up and they had to try to pin a beard on him and a heart on his heart. FUN! We had several other games we played. Kids are SO much fun and so much of a blessing. My husband says I enjoy them so much because I'm still so much of a kid myself. Might be something to that so I won't argue the point.
We went to a local Amish coffeehouse called "The Bread Basket" two times--once to enjoy their huge cinnamon rolls and donuts with our coffee and then once for lunch. Such wonderful memories of sitting around a table laughing, eating and talking.
Going home was so hard. You could sense the dread the day before we left. We'd agreed not to talk about it but even the children seemed to have a mood that was toned down. Saying good-bye is not easy--especially when you see them so little. However, I'd rather have my children far, far away and living in God's perfect will then in my backyard and out of His will. The safest place in the world for our children is in His will.
The last two years have been very traumatic years for our family. We had my illness that stopped life cold for me for some time, (so much time spent in doctor's offices, the trips to Cleveland Clinic, and learning to adjust to the lifestyle and diet changes), we had Gary's mother developing brain cancer, we had Alicia's paralysis, we had the TVA ash spill which not only touched our life but the church's life and the community, (we had to make major decisions as a church and as a family) we had my dad's Alzheimer's developing into a deeper stage, and many other additional things that I can't go into. Not an easy year for us emotionally.
However, we also had so very, very much to be thankful for. I'm thankful for grown children that are serving the Lord, I'm thankful for the wonderful, mature, wise husband that the Lord has blessed me with, I'm thankful that I am alive in spite of my medical problems, I'm thankful for my at-home children that bless my life daily, I'm thankful for the new additions to our family this year. (Welcome Evan Michael Lott, Elisha Maclaren Reagan, [Alicia, I don't think I spelled that right, did I?], and Peyton Levi Neal)
I'm thankful for Swan Pond Baptist Church and the faithful people God has given us. Right now we're working at passing out 5000 John-Romans with a special cover designed for us using the verse "Beauty for Ashes" to let our community we are still here. My husband has met several people on visitation who seem surprised we are still in existence!
Our church people have been so kind and patient through our many trials of the last two years.
I don't take that for granted. I think it shows the level of the spiritual maturity of our people.
I'm thankful for Brother Allen Johnson and the wonderful, wonderful job he's doing at leading the Wings Ministry. The conference was a breath of fresh air for me spiritually this year and had that same wonderful spirit it's always had. I'm thankful for the blessing Allen and Dema and their children are in our church.
I'm thankful for my dad's wife Lela and her daughter Esther and the blessing they are in caring for my precious dad. (and in our church) I'm thankful to have them at my dinner table each Sunday. I feel like God has given me a little love pat by letting me have my dad sitting at my table for Sunday dinner each week.
I'm thankful for my daughter Alicia's faith and courage in facing her sudden paralysis. I'm thankful to the Lord for giving her such a wonderful husband in Jimmy and for her children's elasticity in adjusting to their mother in a wheelchair. What a blessing they are to their grandma! How good it has been to watch the outpouring of people's love for her.
I'm thankful for the Lord opening heaven's windows again for Brian and Niki and bringing little Evan into their life. So many times I prayed the verse "a joyful mother of children" and asked the Lord to be sure and make that plural in my daughter's life. He did it so quickly He actually caught my by surprise. Isn't the Lord wonderful? "Now, Lord, just keep dropping them down from heaven please! " I've often reminded the Lord that Brian would be faithful to raise his children for the Lord after reading the verse, "For I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." (Gen. 18:19) I love going through my Bible where I've written B/N for Brian and Niki and have my symbol for prayer beside it and write down Halle Simone and Evan Michael's names there with their birth dates to show the prayer has been answered!
I could go on and on....the Lord is good--in the good days and in the difficult days. I am thankful that His salvation is not just for eternity for He is the Savior of "right now" and will faithfully deliver me from every sin I struggle with when I rely on Him and not myself.
Well, this is part one. It's late and we have school tomorrow, so I'll be back with my Christmas thoughts that are brewing tomorrow. I pray that your eyes are on Him--the author and the finisher of our faith. I pray that this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas are seasons of joy, anticipation and child-like faith in your life. Till tomorrow...