Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Easter Weekend

We enjoyed dying Easter Eggs and talking through the Resurrection Eggs.
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On Sunday Adam and I hosted both of our families for an Easter celebration. We are blessed to have all of our family members here in the same town at this point in time which I do not want to take for granted!

I'm so truly grateful that the great divide or "chasm" that was set in place (Luke 16:26), the chasm that separated me from God, was ultimately bridged by the cross of Jesus which enabled me (and enables you) to have access to God.  Thankfully the veil was torn, Jesus arose and we can now have eternal life because of his sacrifice, his selflessness, his willingness to say, "not my will but yours be done".  I'm truly grateful for a God who came near, pursued and loved me until his very last breath and who, at this very moment, sits at the right hand of God.  What a mighty God we serve!
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Sweet baby Abigail.
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Me and Kameron, oh those chubby cheeks and buddha belly, I can't get enough of this one!
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This was the best group shot I could get...everyone was showin off their eggs.... hands up!
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Molly and her newest bundle of joy baby Eliana.
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Auntie Grace and Miss Personality smiling for the camera.
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Isn't she beautiful and oh so tiny?!
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I sure loves these ladies, thanks for coming and celebrating our risen Savior with me!
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Poppy and Grammy with our crew.
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I hope you and yours had a blessed Easter weekend and that you felt a sense of joy remembering all that Jesus has done for you and for me.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Wye Mountain

We haven't made it to Wye Mountain every year, but we have gone a good handful of times.  With the weather giving me a beautiful blue sky and some warm sunshine I decided to pack the kids up and head to the daffodil field.  
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Ava Jane picked some flowers.
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Emerson made a gun out of a stick as usual.
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Man, these four children truly have my whole heart, there is not much I wouldn't do for them.
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When this next picture popped up in iPhoto I was a little bit stunned at how mature Peyton looks.  How can the top of his head be level with my chin?  I'm 5'8'', at times it feels like he just started Kindergarten, then I come back to reality and remember all the math fractions and challenging equations we've been working on and I'm quickly brought back to the truth....he's in Middle School, 5th grade to be exact.  I'm so proud of the young man that he is becoming and am incredibly grateful God gave me the privilege of being his mom.
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Emerson decided the sun was "to bright to smile" so he opted out of this group pic.
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Instead, he wanted a "selfie" taken squatting down in the field.  I was thinking, whatever it takes to get a smile...sure son, go right ahead and squat down wherever feels right to you.  (Isn't he a cutie!)
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My heart kind of did a flip flop and swelled with pride when I snapped this sweet picture of my three sons.  My little stair steps.  They are such good friends and most of the time really enjoy being together.  They certainly have their moments when a harsh word for sure brings on the wrath, but usually they play well.
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And then there is this little girl.  When did she get this big?  I got a big ole Texas size lump in my throat when I saw this one upload.  I remember her birthday vividly, her heart surgery with impeccable detail and the crazy scary days that followed it.  Now she's this adorable letter knowing, word finding, book loving little girl who makes tears form in my eyes because of the depth of my love for her.  
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She brings me such joy with her big bows, ruffle pants and her nightly requests of "would you please sleep with me Momma" which translates, would you lay with me and stroke my back, legs, arms, head and face?---who wouldn't like that?!  And I must admit sometimes I say "no, not tonight", out of pure desire to get downstairs and start checking off my nightly to-do list, but more often then not, I lay with her, listening to Adventures in Odyseey and trying to enjoy every last morsel of time with her while she's still little cause it'll only be this way for a while. (Que all the Momma tears!)
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And in light of this weekend and what it means to me and for me, I would be remiss not to include this picture of the cross.  It stands tall and white at the top of the hill in the middle of the daffodil field for all to see.  Jesus chose the nails for me and for you.  He purposefully and lovingly took the nails, shedding his blood, breathing his last, surrendering all of himself in order to make a way for you and me to be saved from our sins that held him to that cross, ultimately creating a bridge to cross the great divide of our depravity.  

As I was reading scripture this week, trying to prepare my heart for Good Friday and then for the celebration of Sunday morning, I remembered a book I'd read by Max Lucado called "Just Like Jesus".  Here is a little excerpt:

"God's love never ceases.  Never.  Though we spurn him.  Ignore him.  Reject him.  Despise him.  Disobey him.  He will not change.  Our evil cannot diminish his love.  Our goodness cannot increase it.  Our faith does not earn it anymore than our stupidity jeopardizes it.  God doesn't love us less if we fail or more if we succeed.  God's love never ceases."  

He loves us just the way we are, warts, sins and all.  He loved us so much that he sent his one and only Son so that whosoever believes in him would never perish but have everlasting, unending life (John 3:16).

I Timothy 1:17 "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible the only wise God, be glory and honor forever and ever Amen!"  I look forward to celebrating all that God did for me and for you tomorrow, when all around the world, people will be celebrating that Jesus conquered sin and death.  He who chose the nails walked out of that tomb ALIVE making a way for you and I to have access to God, salvation and the gift of an eternity spent with HIM!  Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice!  Thank you for the cross!
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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Spring Break: Trip To Memphis

For Spring Break this year, we laid low as a family, it was honestly so nice not to have a plan every single day and to enjoy a few slow paced mornings.  We did start the week off with a few days in Memphis spending time with my Dad's side of the family, catching up with my cousins and letting our kids have a chance to play since we all live in different cities from Fort Smith to Nashville was a rare treat.  We decided we would meet half way between Little Rock and Nashville so we all converged at the Memphis Zoo for a day with the animals.                                                  

We had planned to all arrive about 11:00, just in time for lunch together.  I say we "planned" for that but what actually occurred was a tad bit different because of the significant amount of traffic getting into the zoo.  Our Little Rock crew didn't have as much trouble as the Nashville crew who literally sat so dead still in the line to the parking lot that my cousin Lindsey was able to get out, make sandwiches for her entire family, serve those sandwiches, clean up their lunch and get back in the car before the traffic even moved...yikes!  So our plan became fluid and general since we clearly weren't on "schedule".

We finally all met up about 12:15, after a much needed potty break and the regathering of people---when you try to move through a fairly crowded zoo with a crowd of 19 people---it can be somewhat challenging, but we did it!  We even made it to the Grizzly Bear's feeding time, which was pretty cute to watch as sweet potatoes and frozen apples in ice blocks were thrown down to the bears...they really seemed to like their version of popsicles!
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This lazy bear cracked me up, he just sat on his haunches taking in the scene and not wanting to get wet in order to get the food the zoo keepers were throwing at them--he wasn't tempted in the least!  It's as if he's thinking "those fools".
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But these two bears went for the food and seeing those claws up close made me glad the glass was so thick!
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The Memphis Zoo is pretty big and it always seems like their animals are out and about.  If you haven't been, you should go, the seal show, the grizzly bears and the giraffes are all pretty impressive!
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Here are all the first cousins (Lindsey, Kim, Whitney and myself).  It was good to all be together with our families.
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The boys were most excited about the feeding and touching the sting rays.
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Brison thought the fish food was pretty disgusting.
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Here was most of our group minus my Aunt Debbi and Mike.  (I was so glad that Andrew was able to come along with us on our "crazy train".)
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Even though the day was a little chaotic at the start and there was the challenge of moving 19 people through the zoo at an appropriate pace so that everyone could see all that they wanted to see but not rushing anyone either while also taking breaks along the way so people could rest or eat a snack was a little bit of a dance we had to learn.  When there are eight children in tow, there has to be give and take and a lot of flexibility on the part of everyone.  (Eleven years into this parenting gig has given me some perspective and a good dose of what can realistically be expected from trips like this.)  
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I was truly glad to have had the chance to get away and be together with family and to have had the opportunity to spend time with one another.  The weather, which was predicted to be rainy and overcast turned out to be warm and perfect!
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Here is Ava Jane, Bailey and Emerson watching the animals from inside the cave, pretty cute huh?
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Bailey is in love with Red Panda Bears right now, she'd bought this Red Panda backpack when we went through the China panda exhibit, then as we were getting close to the zoo's exit, her day was made because we saw real Red Panda Bears... so of course she had to get her picture with it in the background!  Isn't she such a cutie?
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(Here's a close up.)
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This Bengal Tiger was massive!
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It was a race to get back to the car, can you tell who won?  I think it was a tie.
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After getting settled into our hotel rooms and resting up a bit we tried Pyros, a brick oven pizza restaurant that a friend had recommended.  Their pizzas and salads were really tasty and these smiling faces continued when they realized that Lindsey had brought an assortment of cookies for them to enjoy afterwards!
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Don't miss Emerson's Sheriff badge, we couldn't leave home without it!
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Adam and I took the kids and headed to the hotel after dinner to let them swim while some of the adults stayed back to visit in the quiet of the restaurant.   These kiddos had a blast splashing and swimming their little hearts out.  Because of the echo in the pool area, once the other adults arrived they took their beverages and retired on the patio near the fire pit, while Lindsey and I tried to have broken conversation amidst the splashing, screaming and slipping on the oh so slippery tile floor...its amazing what we Momma's can tune out in order to chat.
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These two girlies hung out together most of the weekend, I'm so glad that they have each other amid all the testosterone of their brothers and boy cousins.
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Even G-Dad got in on some of the action.
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Since we had eaten dinner at 5:00, by 9pm we were ready for a late night snack so wings, shrimp cocktail, potato wedges and drinks were on the menu.  We sat around laughing and telling funny stories while all the little people slept soundly locked inside mine and Adam's room.  We did leave Peyton with a phone so he could call if he needed us, but after their full day at the zoo and then the pool, we never heard a peep out of any of them!
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The next morning we spent some time at IKEA looking for things we couldn't live without.  The kids did a great job of entertaining themselves!
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Oh Lachie-Poo your Aunt Coco loves you so!IMG_6071
We concluded our time at Jim n Nick's and the side of  mac n cheese was as delicious as promised!
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My Aunt Debbi and Mike, what a nice looking couple!
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This was not the greatest place for a group picture, but it was pretty cold outside and this was the best we could get so I took it!  I was grateful for time spent with these people, you all are some of my favorites, thanks for making the effort to come, lets do it again sooner rather then later.
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Easter Weekend

We enjoyed dying Easter Eggs and talking through the Resurrection Eggs. On Sunday Adam and I hosted both of our families for a...