Sorry for the 3 month lapse in posts!! Life has been exceptionally crazy and busy!! I promise to get back to it soon!!!! I just have so much to catch up on!!! At least my sweet 12 year old has made her own blog so you may be able to keep up with our family a little from her!! :) Visit Emily's blog at ep123world.blogspot.com. Until then........
Yesterday was a moving day at church!! It was the day that we focused on the sanctity of life and how precious life is. Sadly, there are many in our world today that do not have the same opinion. That is made clear as so many innocent babies are killed while still in their mother's womb. I could go on and on about why this sickens me so much, but I would have to write a book to do so. Where it really hits home with me on a personal level is something that James shared with our church yesterday. He covered the whole gamut of this discussion including not only abortion, but also murder, suicide and euthanasia. He did a wonderful job explaining and showing from God's word how each and every life is to be valued. And he shared that just how God chose to bring us into this world, He and only He has the right to decide the time and the way and individual should leave this world.
We never imagined that we would be faced with the question of abortion, but when we found out that our second daughter Dana was going to have Down Syndrome, that is the option that was placed before us. We would never even consider such a terrible thing and of course that was the answer we gave before the question was even finished being asked. I was so shocked to hear how many people thought of us as some kind of heroes for making that decision. We weren't being heroic, we were having our baby that God so blessed us with. Why would we ever think it to be our choice to give or take away her life? God knit her being together in my womb and she was no less "fearfully and wonderfully made" by Him because she had Down Syndrome. As James shared this yesterday he went on to share what a blessing she was and is and what our lives would have missed out on if we didn't have her. At that point he told the congregation that he wanted to show them that little blessing and I let Dana go from the rear of the auditorium to walk down front to him. I wasn't sure what she would do, and it didn't really matter. But she was perfect, just like she knew her role and "performed" it right on cue! It was precious!!! As he held her for a few minutes and continued to share, there was hardly a dry eye there. Below are a few pictures our other precious daughter, Emily took. We need to be thankful for our lives and those of our loved ones and consider every day that we have as an honor and a privilege that God has given us the gift of life!!!
One of the best parts of our Christmas holidays was the day we got to spend with our precious friends, the Sutton's. A few days after Christmas while they were in Jacksonville seeing family they came to Keystone to spend the day with us!! As always, we all had such a sweet time of fellowship and of course, a barrel full of laughs!! We also arranged for some friends to surprise them at the church when we took them by to see the new building. They really enjoyed seeing many old friends and special people in their lives. We wish we could see each other every week, but we cherish whatever time we do get to be together! God has knit our hearts together in a way that only He can, and for that we are truly thankful!!!!
The girls ~ Jerra, Emily, Julianne, Jenna and Dana! It is so sweet the special love they all have for each other. Even in their young hearts the miles between us have not changed that!
The girls being funny!!! (minus Dana!! She had returned to Barney inside!)
The girls had fun performing in the Epicenter while we were at the church
Emily, Jerra and Abby
Jen, Grady and "the crew!!"
Watch out Hollywood!!!!
The Sutton's with dear friends ~ Stephanie, Luke and Wyatt!
More friends ~ Dustin and Amber!
What a mess!!!
Best friends and partners in crime!!!!!! Jen and me!
Born less than 2 hours apart ~ Dana Woo and Jenna Bean!!
Dana's feet were cold so she warmed them up by putting them in Uncle Grady's shirt!!! Dana loves Uncle Grady!!! Ha!!
She finally moved on the her blankie!
Hilarious!!!!! Let's just say we weren't as good of jumpers as the girls!!!! Haha!!!
We decided to make our gingerbread Christmas tree since it definitely wouldn't still be good next year!!! The girls had a ball!
...and tasting to make sure it was alright!!!! Thanks Jerra for "quality control!!!"
I could eat you!!
The finished product! It turned out so good and tasted rather good!!!
Ok. So the rules of this little game were as follows:
1. Choose the 4th folder where you store your pictures on your computer 2. Select the 4th picture in the folder (no cheating, cropping, editing, etc.) 3. Post the picture and explain it 4. Tag 4 other people to do the same
I was wondering what the folder would be and I was blessed when I pulled it up and saw my precious older daughter, Emily's face. For those of you that know her well you know that for about the past 5 years she has loved the American Girl dolls as well as the books, movies....you get the idea, anything they make. My mom started buying her one for each birthday and she has a few others that she got for Christmas and different occasions. She really does treat each one as her child and fondly refers to them as my grandchildren!!! The books are great and have opened her eyes up to many things from the eras they lived in and so forth. This particular picture was taken last spring as we had been visiting our best friends, the Sutton's in Georgia. When we left to head home we made time to stop by the newest of the American girl stores which is in Atlanta called American Girl Boutique and Bistro. As she does on most trips, she had brought one of her dolls on the trip so she brought her in the store to look around. The excitement on her face always makes my heart smile. She is a special young lady and it's sweet to watch her "mother" her babies. I know she will be a wonderful mommy one day! In MANY, MANY years from now!!! :)
What a wonderful Christmas we had!!! God is so good! The month was crazy, as usual, but so many of the busy activities were so sweet as we celebrated the birth of our Lord. We had wonderful, God honoring musicals at church. The children did a wonderful job as they presented, "God's Gift for Santa" that my dad actually wrote. It was especially neat for me to watch because I was in it originally when it premiered about 26 years ago! I know...I'm getting old!! Then our adult choir presented a musical entitled, "That Name...Jesus." It was one of my favorites that we have done. Very fun and worshipful music. It was also extra special because we combined with my mom and dad's choir from Woodstock Baptist Church in Jacksonville and performed it once there, and once at our church. I enjoyed getting to be a part of that with them. And Emily did a solo in it at our church and did a wonderful job!! Of course, we were very proud parents!!!
These are just a few of the things that occupied our busy month. Finally, on Christmas Eve we had one of my favorite services all year that is called, "Candles, Carols, and Communion." It is always such a sweet time as we come together as a body of believers and worship in song, scripture reading, and communion. Afterwards our sweet friends the Wise's and the Groves' invited us to join their family for a wonderful Christmas dinner. It is so special to have families that "adopt" you and treat you like their own when you can't always be with your own family. We are blessed with many that God has placed in our lives that truly are family to us, even if the relation is not by blood.
That night James totally surprised me with an unexpected gift while we were at their house. I opened it and to my surprise and shock their was an incredible camera inside. I mean a REALLY nice camera with 2 lenses and a huge book of instructions. (I have yet to have the time to read it yet!! :) So the rest of the night was spent at least figuring it out enough that I could use it the next morning.
Well, the next day was filled with celebrating with family and I think the pictures will tell the rest of the story since this story has gotten way too long!! :) I hope you all had a blessed Christmas too!!!
Our two kitty cat babies. They were the only ones still awake by the time I got my battery charged for my new toy!! I had to practice on someone!!
Emily's first shot of the morning!! "Wake up!!!" She wanted mittens and a hat. Too bad it was almost 80 degrees that day!!
Tigger was so helpful in the gift opening activities!
Helpful again!!! Gotta love Tigger!
Emily's Vera Bradley backpack. She's wanted one for a long time!!!
Emily in utter amazement as she opened her big gift...Wii!!!!
Dana's turn!!! She was just happy with her little slinky and books!!
Daddy reading to us about Jesus' Birth
Dana and her slinky!!!
My grandmother, Bambi and all her girls. L to R Aunt Carolyne,Aunt Gwen, Bambi, Leanne (my mom), and the baby, Aunt Melanie
Lauren, Emily and Kala
Daddy and Dana!!! So sweet!!!!
Mommy and Dana!! Precious!!
Me and my precious mom!!
The Hodges Fam! Jeannie, Leanne, Gene and Julie
James and Jeannie
Emily and Bambi!!! She found the hidden pickle ornament. Long story!
Bambi and the picture of my girls that we gave her!
Papa and Emily with his special reindeer toy!!!
Sweet Emily and her DS game from Aunt Julie and the girls
Yay!!! Wii Fit from Mamama and Papa!
James and his gator blanket from Papa! Go Gators!
Kala, Lauren and Aunt Julie resting on the couch!
Dana in her new ball pit from Mamama and Papa! She loves it!
Dana pounced on Papa while he was dozing!!!
Dana eating her foot that is wrapped around her back!!
I know...painful! It's a piece of cake for her!
Mom and I cracking up at a terrible rendition of "O, Holy Night." We listen to it every year and cry our make-up off laughing!! Dana having fun!
Sisters!!!! Dana and Emily
Mommy and Emily playing tennis on the Wii! Hilarious!