Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Joy That Will Be For All People

Luke 2:8-14
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
   13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
   14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Monday, December 19, 2011

Aaron's Birthday Party

I made pre-made a personal pizza crust for each of the children.

Each of the children had a turn at making their pizza exactly the way they wanted it.  I provided the sauce, cheese, and toppings and they built their pizzas.  Once they were finished, I baked them and they were able to eat!

They sat around the table and ate their pizzas.

I loved having these precious kiddos in my home.  They are so special - each one of them - to my children and to me!

Aaron opened presents!

I put a candle in Aaron's cupcake...

...and after he blew it out ... each child chose a cupcake and devoured them in no time flat!  I sent each of them home with some home-made butter toffee popcorn with peanuts.  The children were with us for a few hours and I purposely planned it in a way that allowed for lots of flexibility.  I wanted them to do whatever they wanted to do.  (play upstair with the toys, play the wii, etc.)  It was a fun afternoon/evening with very special friends!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Last post on Nashville ... I promise!

I don't have any pictures to share of the Sunday that we spent in Nashville, but I sure wish that I did.  On Sunday, we went to Grace Community Church.  I was a member of that church during my 4 years in Nashville.  When I started going there, it was a brand new church.  It was meeting on the campus of Belmont.  I loved everything about that church and met some wonderful people during my 4 years there.  One of the saddest parts about graduating from Belmont and leaving Nashville was leaving my church.  Since it's beginning in 1992, it has grown to a rather large church.  They now have 800 members and have also sent off people from their church to start 2 other churches in surrounding areas.  
So, on the Sunday of our trip, I took my 4 children to Grace Community Church to worship.  It was wonderful to be back among the people of Grace.  It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces.  I am so thankful that I was able to visit and see how they have grown and worship in their new building.  (new to me)
After the service, we went to lunch with my friend, Katie.  (I posted about her earlier)  She has been a member of Grace, from almost the very beginning!  We enjoyed a nice lunch and as much chatting as we could do with the children around to chat along with us!
After lunch, Rosalie fell asleep in the van, while we made our way to our next stop.  We went to a church on the other side of Nashville for a performance of Handel's Messiah.  I was so excited to hear from some Nashville friends of mine and fellow music majors from Belmont, that my former Chorale director would be conducting this performance.  2 of the people that I sang with in Chorale were in the performance, and the guest soloist was another fellow Belmont School of Music graduate. (who is now a Professor of Voice at the University of South Carolina)
It was rather ambitious of me take my 4 children to this performance by myself.  No back up.  Believe me, I had knots in my stomach over it.  My desire to expose my children to this wonderful music ... and my desire to see all of these wonderful people won out, though.  I felt confident that my children would do well at a performance such as this one.  However, we had just gotten through sitting quietly in church for an hour and a half that morning.  I just wasn't sure how they would do stacking it up like that ... and without Rich around to help them remember to be still and quiet.
They far exceeded my expectations once again.  Martin and Aaron rather enjoyed the performance - the beautiful orchestra and choir and soloists.  Jonathan struggled.  I have to be real here.  He looked up at me once and very quietly said, "I am not a quiet boy!" (through tears!)  He desperately wanted to run around and be loud.  Once I started giving him a countdown ... and he realized that it was not going to go on forever, he was great!  (I would say, just 6 more songs ... now 5, etc.)
Rosalie, stayed asleep when I took her out of the van, and slept through part of the performance and watched the rest of it.  She loved the music!
Although, I was very thankful to be listening to the glorious music, my stomach did remain in knots for most of the performance.  I didn't have a very easy escape, if I should have needed to take a child out ... and I couldn't leave some of the children there without me.  I am so thankful that we were able to sit and enjoy the entire performance without needing to exit.
A nice lady(whose husband was in the choir) approached me after the concert , and said the nicest thing to me.  Those of you who have children know how much a mother's heart needs encouragement, so her words were precious to me!  She said, "I just want to tell you that you have a lovely family.  I was watching you during the performance.  I was so impressed that your children were sitting quietly and listening to the music without having to be entertained by something electronic"
I know she did not realize that I spent the entire concert being nervous about the "what ifs", however, her words meant a lot to me.  She certainly didn't have to take the time to say anything at all.  It has helped me, though, to remember to offer words of encouragement to others.
If you have been following our trip to Nashville, thanks for reading.  It was a fun trip for us ... and I am thankful to have reconnected with so many wonderful friends!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Pancake Pantry

A trip to Nashville just isn't complete without a visit to The Pancake Pantry.  It is located just down the road from Belmont, and is most definitely a Nashville tradition!  If you ever take a trip to Nashville ... make sure you hit this local place ... you won't regret it!
My rule for this special  meal ... there are no rules!  I let the children choose whatever they wanted.  Martin chose pancakes with chocolate chips and powdered sugar.

Rosalie had regular pancakes and an omelet with green peppers and cheese.  (we shared our meal)
Jonathan chose a burger with chips.  (I guess he didn't get the memo about how good their pancakes are!)  It was pouring down rain outside ... and we had to walk quite a ways to get inside the restaurant.  I must have looked quite the sight corralling 4 children around the streets of Nashville to get to the Pancake Pantry. (in the pouring rain)  All four of them were beautifully behaved, super flexible, and happy to walk through the pouring rain to eat at this fun place!  I am so thankful for how well the children did on this trip for me.  I spoke to several people about making the 560 mile trip - by myself - with the children.  Most people that I spoke to had major reservations ... (as did I ... and it was important to hear those reservations to think through it properly).  One of my friends, though, didn't hesitate to say ...YES, YOU NEED TO DO THIS.  You will be fine, your children will amaze you.  You CAN DO THIS!  Wow, I needed to hear someone say that!  The other thing I needed to hear was from my husband.  I needed to hear him say, "I want you to make this trip, because I know how important it is to you."  I didn't tell him I needed to hear that, but incredibly enough, he said it to me.  It was exactly what I needed to hear!  My children were fine, and they did amaze me.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Visiting with Aimee Joy

Lily and Rosalie

Larissa and Aimee Joy

Group shot of the children

Sweet Lily!  She was a little mother to Rosalie!

Love this silly shot!

Max is a ham!

My visit with Aimee Joy and her children (except her oldest son, Chase) was a wonderful time.    AJ and I were very similar way back when we met in '92 ... if possible ... even after all of these years we are even more similar.  It was so much fun to be with her even though our time was way too short.  Aimee Joy's entire family is in the greater Nashville area.  I didn't get to see all of them this time around, but I am so thankful for the time I got to spend with her.  Her family completely took me under their wing my first semester of college.  I spent a lot of weekends at their house and got to know all of them.
Since this post is dedicated to Aimee ... I MUST mention some projects that they have going on.  Her brother Scott just released his first solo album.  You can listen to some samples of his album, Biography and you can purchase it for download.  He is an incredibly talented musician and is candid and transparent about his walk with the Lord.  It is apparent in his music.  Some of you may have sung some of Dave Williamson's arrangements at church on Sunday Morning's or one of his cantata arrangements.  My Dad just told me last night that his church is doing one of Dave's cantata arrangements this year for their Christmas program.  They are a special family with loads of talent!
You can also listen and purchase the music of Three Strand (Aimee Joy, Kara, and Scott).  I am most definitely biased because I know and love them.
Row Upon Row
Angels from the Realms of Glory

I am so thankful for Aimee Joy ... so thankful that I was able to meet Lily and see Max again. (last time I saw him he was only 6 months old!) 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, dear Aaron!

Our 2nd born newborn son, December 2004
1 year old
2 years old
3 years old

4 years old
5 years old
6 years old
7 years old, with Papaw

Aaron, I cannot believe you are 7 years old.  You are an absolute delight to us!  You are intuitive, perceptive, tender, and loving.  You care deeply about others.  You desire to make good choices and are intensely sorry when you do anything wrong ... even if by accident.  Even as a new baby you were always laughing and smiling.  My heart rejoices with you on your birthday and I love you more than you will ever know!  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Science Center with Duffy and her children

Rosalie, Jonathan, and Anabel playing in the water.  This display actually mimics the red and white blood cells and their movement through arteries.  Not sure they knew that, though.  :)

Rosalie and Anabel ... these two girls became fast friends!  It was a joy to watch them play together.

Duffy and her 2nd daughter, Courtney.

Aaron and Courtney

Aaron and Courtney are within a few months of being the same age.  Martin and Natalie are also fairly close in age. (Martin is a year older)  You may be thinking to yourself ... hmmm ... Courtney (at only 6 yo) is taller than Martin.  You are exactly right.  Duffy and Mike are growing super humans!  Really, though, Martin and Aaron are small for their age and Courtney and Natalie are quite tall for their age.  

Aaron is all harnessed up for the moon walk.

Courtney and Aaron did the moonwalk attraction together.



Of course, I had to snap a picture of a portion of the Nashville skyline that we were able to see out the windows of the Science Center.   In the center of the picture is what we affectionately call the Batman Building.  (it's actually the AT&T building)  The children talked about this building all week long as we drove by the city many times throughout the week.

A little history:
Duffy and I were roommates our last year of college.  She was a bridesmaid in my wedding, and I sang in her wedding.  We have been watching our children grow up through pictures for many years now.  While sitting across from Natalie one day, I was just overcome with emotion because I have been seeing her in pictures for the last 8 1/2 years! I am so thankful that I got to meet her children and get to know them.  They are precious young ladies!

It was a joy to watch our children connect so easily and become friends in such a short time.  I am so thankful that I got over my fears of making a 10 hour drive (without another adult backup) with my 4 children.  It was worth it.  The children will tell you the long drive was worth it too.  They had a wonderful time.  Duffy was her usual "wonderful hostess" self.  Taking in 5 people for a week is quite a task ... I am sure we turned her household upside down.  She is and always has been one of the most hospitable people that I know.  I hope that we will have the chance to have her family in our home one day!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Visiting Bryson

I met Bryson my first year at Belmont and we remained good friends the entire time I was there.  One of the nights that we were visiting in TN, 11 of us bombarded Bryson and his wife, Heather's home.  Duffy and her family went along with the 5 of us.  We took a picture of (almost) all the children while we were there.  We shared a delicious meal and tried to catch up the best we could.  Our children loudly played together while we were trying to catch up!  It was a fun night and I'm thankful that we had the opportunity to spend time with Bryson's family.  (Duffy and her husband, Mike are on the left, Bryson and his wife are on the right)
This is a picture from September of '93.  We went home with Bryson and spent some time hiking down to a waterfall.  I am the one in the pink shorts ... and Bryson is in the black shirt.

It's hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago!  20 years and 10 children later ...

Visiting Belmont

There is no way that I could make the 10 hour trip to Nashville  and not pay a visit to the very place where I met all of these wonderful friends!  Duffy and I ventured out to our alma mater and were stunned at how different it is today than it was then.  It has grown by leaps and bounds.  We were thankful, though that the middle of campus still had the same familiar look.  Building upon buildings have been added to our campus.  The improvements are amazing!

We had all of our children (plus Duffy's niece) lined up on the steps of our college, and commented on how we never could have imagined that we would be back almost 20 years later with this many children between the 2 of us!

Duffy and I stopped here at these steps to pose for a picture ... the same exact place we posed so many years ago.  (I'll have to try and dig that picture up for a comparison!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Visiting Christy

Pictured above is my friend, Christy with Jonathan.    The children and I went to her home for dinner and we all had an amazing time.  The children adored Miss Christy!  She won them all over before we'd been there 30 minutes.  I am so thankful that we were able to spend time with Christy on this trip.
Jonathan told me that he was going to live with Miss Christy, but that he would miss me.  It was so much fun catching up with her.
I am so thankful that I made this trip to see so many of my dear college friends ... it made me miss them so much more!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Visiting Katie

Katie and I almost 20 years ago.
Katie and I now!
Katie was another room mate of mine while I was in college.  Katie taught me how to loosen up a little and encouraged me to wear jeans and ball caps.  (which is very convenient when you wake up at 7:50 AM for an 8:00 AM class!)
This is Katie's mom, who we all affectionately called, "Mrs. T".   I was so thankful to be able to spend a day with Katie, her two children, and her Mom and Dad.  Mrs. T is reading a book to the children ... and Rosalie had no trouble crawling up into her lap and joining in on the fun!
I am so thankful that I was able to spend the day with these very special people.