Needy

Well, only two days left in 2015.  Wow.

I looked through my 2015 blog and caught some of the highlights of our year.  So much has happened in 365 days, that is for sure.

Josh and I have been talking about how 2015 started with us being in a certain place and how God has truly allowed some good things to happen so that we aren’t in the same place we started!  We had a couple of years of high stress, so I have been thankful for this season of calm…knowing that life doesn’t usually stay one way for too terribly long.

Before my quiet time this morning, I was thanking God, again, for His hand of blessing on our health, finances, school focus, friendships, marriage, etc.  And in the same breath asking Him to make me aware of my need to hear from Him and be with Him EVEN THOUGH LIFE SEEMS SO GRAND.  It seems we all have a heightened sense of our need of God when life isn’t so grand.  When money is tight.  When the car breaks down.  When we have to deal with cancer or another illness.  When our marriage is rocky.  “Lord, HELP!  I need You.” And that is the right response, for sure.  We need His help.  We need His Presence.

But when things are going well, we still need His help.  We still need His presence.

Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

His Word.  His Presence.

Verses 7-9 are some of my favorite ones, “Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die; Keep deception and lies far from me.  Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or that I not be in want and steal and profane the name of my God.”

So no matter how  2015 went– good or bad, happy or sad, gains or losses–we desperately need His Word and His Presence.

 Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

Let’s blog about Christmas before the New Year!

 

We had such a wonderful Christmas together as a family.  So much has gone on over the last couple of weeks that I am sure to miss telling about all of it, but I will share some pictures and say as much as I can remember!

We finished our nativity puzzle…finally.  It was a great one to work on together.  Mack helped me the most, so he got to put in the last puzzle piece.

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I found him like this one morning while I was toodling around in my room.  This boy!

I let the kids open a gift a couple of days before Christmas.  They had been on their ipads for way too long, so I thought this would encourage interaction.  Every time I see them on their ipads I tell them how I smell their brains turning to pure mush.  They love that.

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This game, “Aggravation,” was my MeMe Rhodes’ favorite game that she played all the time with her friends.

We had friends over after attending the 3:00 Christmas Eve service.  It was a good time just being together.

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Here is the crazy group of excited kids about Christmas!  They are all so funny.

We had a nice Christmas morning here at home with just us five.  There aren’t many pictures because, well, it was Christmas morning!

Mack’s favorite gifts were his remote control car and his UGA jersey…though he also loved his tool box!

Molly got a real cash register and an old-school typewriter.  She has been pecking away on that thing up in her room.  She is typing song lyrics and scripture and taping them to her bedroom door.

Ruby got a new desk and tons of books and some clothes.  She is definitely entering a new phase of gift requests.

Around lunch time, the other Dorminys came over.  We enjoyed steak, potatoes and mac-n-cheese and salad for lunch.  It was fabulous!  And then we all exchanged gifts.  Mack got a Magic Set from PawPaw and spent the next 24 hours consumed with learning tricks.  He can’t help himself and ends up telling his audience how to do the trick!

Mack got several Nerf guns, so they played some sort of Nerf gun battle in the backyard in between the rain.  And this was Deacon’s first Christmas.  He just chilled out with us the whole afternoon.  Such a laid back kiddo!

I took my decorations down the day after Christmas because, well, that is just what I do.  Can’t help myself.  Christmas is over; the decorations must come down.

But here are a few pictures of some of the decorations around the house.  I didn’t take pictures of all of my nativities this year because I have done that several times and posted pictures in the past…but they are my favorite part of my decorations.

Everyone except Molly and I watched the Star Wars Series that Aunt Merrilee and Uncle Jason got them, and then they all went to the theatre to watch the recent one.  This gave me plenty of time to put things away around here and read my new book.

Sunday we got together for lunch at a friend’s house with several families and let the kids exchange gifts.  We are so grateful for the friends that God has brought into our lives.  We appreciate each one and how unique they each are.

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So that has been a little bit of what has been going on around here.  It has been fun!  We have enjoyed time with friends.  We have enjoyed time with just our little family.  We have enjoyed movies and books and puzzles and games.  We have loved baking and cooking and even enjoyed cleaning up around here! It’s been a terrific break from the normal routine, and we are extremely grateful for every minute of it.  We have all been healthy, and that is no small thing to praise the Lord for!

This week is always a good one as well.  Christmas is over and now we reflect on the year and look forward to a New Year.  It’s time for new journals and some goal setting.  It’s time for revamping our budget and refocusing on school!  But shhhh, don’t tell the kids yet.

Most Generous One I Know

Giving can bring great joy!  This morning we have been listening out for the garbage collectors and the postlady so that we can run out in the rain and give them an envelope with some cash inside.  Molly and Mack walked up the street with umbrella in hand to deliver a gift to a neighbor.  Monday Josh gave me a little giving errand to complete, and I enjoyed it so much!  Not to mention all the fun gift buying for those we live with and love so much.  And this year we got great (in my opinion) gifts for our parents, which isn’t easy to do!  So I am super excited about giving those gifts.

Josh and I both had generous parents.  They gave to us far above the basic neccesities.  And they were generous to other people, too.  I remember my parents being generous to others.  And Josh learned generosity from his parents as well.

Living with Josh, I have learned more about true generosity.  He is the most generous person I know on this earth.  I live with him, so I see how he gives and hear his heart on why he wants to give this or that…financially he is generous, with his time he is generous, and with his giftedness he is generous.  I love getting to be his wife…I am greatly blessed by his generous spirit.

So who would you say is the most generous person?  This time of year many kids may say Santa…I mean, he does give all those gifts to all the kids in the whole wide world! Doesn’t he?  Ok, maybe not.

Maybe it’s grandma and grandpa because they spoil the kids with tons of gifts and spare no expense.  Well, not exactly.

Actually, it is God.  He is the most generous one in all the world.  His generous spirit is unmatched.  And Christmas is a fabulous time to celebrate just that.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

God gave us Jesus.  The greatest gift one could ever receive.

God, through Jesus, gives salvation and eternal life.

As we live this life as a believer in Jesus, He continues to give more grace, He gives peace, He gives strength, He gives wisdom, He gives love, He gives power, He gives us all we need to live!  He gives forgiveness, He gives mercy. He gives us strength, comfort and joy.  James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

A friend on facebook put the words to “He Giveth More Grace” on their page, and I looked the song up on itunes because it had been so long since I had heard that amazing song.  I downloaded Brett Williams recording of it.  It is such a great song.  As soon as the song started playing, tears were burning in my eyes.  I am so undeserving, but He giveth, and giveth and giveth again.

Play this song and praise the Lord for his amazing generostiy towards you. He is so worthy.

Opinions, Posts, and Likes, oh my!

There is no shortage of opinions and access to them in this day and age.  Want to tell someone what you think about anything whatsoever?  You need only a facebook or twitter account…then at your fingertips you can share and like and comment and post to your heart’s desire.

But with this type of instant information and opinion overload, we best be sure we are going to God’s Word MORE consistently than we are to the internet.  God’s Word is the only true compass for life.

We can read what other people think our role is with refugees…what the governments role is for refugees…you can read opinions about gun rights and if a Christian should carry a gun or not and why….and you can read articles on these topics from Christian leaders that both think they are right, but have completely opposite takes on the subject.  And in this election year coming up there will be more people sharing their opinions about who is the best person for the job as President of the United States.

Same with home schooling, for instance.  I read so many articles on home schooling as I go throughout a regular week.  I like to hear what other people are trying…what worked for them…what didn’t.  I like to be challenged in the way I am teaching and leading my kids.

Whatever topic interests you, there are hundreds of blogs and posts to read on it.  Some may be exactly what you want to hear; others may greatly step on your toes

If there is anything I have learned from living with Josh these past almost 15 years, it is that it is good to be challenged with hard questions.  If I am right, well great.  If it ends up I am wrong, then I should be glad I had to grapple with the tension of the question.

So it is great to share your opinion.  It’s great to hear other people’s opinions. It is also fine to read a book you don’t agree with completely.  You should be strong enough to stand on your beliefs/convictions/ways of life even when challenged.  You should also be teachable enough that if the truth is clear and you’re not in line with it, then you can make adjustments and get right. None of us are going to be right all the time on everything.

But I guess my point is that The Word of God, as a believer, must be your truth.  It must be where you go when you find yourself unsure about the tension of a subject.  Read, read and read some more.

With all of the differing opinions on some pretty major topics these days, I was realizing more than ever how desperately I need the wisdom from God’s Word.  I focused in on the Proverbs in addition to other reading from God’s Word and have been so blessed by them.  And humbled.  So humbled.

One day Proverbs 20:3 stood out to me and helped me with my kids.  They have been arguing a lot lately.   A lot!  I would intervene, fuss at them for fussing, and then think that it’s just normal for kids to fight so what is the big deal?!?  But this verse gave me some truth to bring to them as I confronted them about their arguing: “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool with quarrel.” Even verse 11 of that chapter was helpful; “It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself, if his conduct is pure and right.”

Personally, I had responded rashly to several situations.  I knew I was wrong to overreact and feel the need to show how I was right and the other person was wrong.  And these verses helped me confess and get right and gave me a specific truth to pray: “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger and it is his glory to overlook a transgression” Proverbs 19:11.  The 18th chapter of Proverbs had these jewels to share with me: “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.” “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.” “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

It didn’t stop there.  Proverbs 17: 27-28 says, “He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.  Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lip, he is considered prudent.”

And in my quiet times, while I have had truth speak directly to my situations, I haven’t been overly emotional.  I haven’t had goose bump moments most mornings.  I have prayed that I would hear from God, and I believe I have, but I am speaking of those overwhelming mornings when you just know God sent that Word right to your heart.  HOWEVER, Proverbs 16: 20 encouraged me to keep on keeping on in The Word, “He who gives attention to the Word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.”

I could go on with how the Word of God has instructed me, guided me, encouraged me, rebuked me, and taught me.  It is unchanging.  It is divine, God-breathed!  The internet and all of the opinions on it are not.  They just aren’t.  Are there godly men and women that share truth?  Yes.  Are there great articles used to spur us on in our faith?  Yes.  But nothing…I mean absolutely nothing…can hold a flame to the beautiful Words of God.  I hope you treasure them every day!  Be challenged by them.  Be changed by them.  Be encouraged by them.

 

Sweetest Nativity Ever

Mack did something special for me the other day. He knows I love nativity scenes.  We have one from Indonesia, Israel, Armenia, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Cancun, and the good ‘ol USA.

And now I have one built of LEGOS!

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Ta-da!  I love it.

Of course, there is Mary and Josep and baby Jesus.  Then, you have the three wise men that look a little like burglars.  Bottom right shows the shepherd with sheep dogs and maybe that is Santa Claus on the horse.  Not quite sure.  But I do love it.

We made some sugar cookies yesterday in preparation for our sweet friends coming over to decorate with us.  I can’t wait to see my college room mate and wonderful friend and her girls!

And we babysat Georgie-poo.  He cracks us all up.

And last, but definitely not least…Ruby’s piano teacher sent this picture of Ruby to me from their group lesson the other night.  I am so proud of how Ruby is playing the piano.  A few years ago we asked her if she wanted to take lessons.  She said, “Nah.  I don’t really want to learn all of that stuff.”  But NOW?  She is loving it! Ruby likes to be alone.  She always has enjoyed playing by herself with her doll house or reading outloud all by herself. So I think this helps her with practicing.  She thrives being alone with her keyboard. She has been playing Christmas carols for weeks, and I just love hearing it sound throughout the house.  Such a big girl. Growing up so fast!

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relaxing

I have so enjoyed this break from our regular routine.  We decided to take off of our regular school work schedule beginning with our NYC trip since we would come home, have a week and then the week of Christmas would be here!  It was a good decision.  I have been doing a little bit of Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, staying on top of laundry, and all of the other household responsibilities.  BUT more than that, I have been enjoying my kids.  I mean, not every second, but more than usual. 🙂 We get to read together unhurriedly.  We have watched Christmas movies on the couch together.  We are having my college roommate and her two girls over to bake and decorate sugar cookies.  I have listened to Ruby play her piano.  I even had enough room in my brain to have the thought of moving her keyboard downstairs to the school room (we are filling that room slap up! Molly also wanted her sewing machine downstairs many months ago….I guess they like it when we are all together!).  We are still plugging away on the puzzle I bought for this season, a nativity scene that I hope we get put together!).  Josh and I have a day date planned for knocking out those last few gifts we need to purchase, and I am so excited about that.

I am just thankful for this time of year!  Time to reflect on all the blessings of 2015.  Time to think about how Jesus, God in flesh, came to live a perfect life on earth, show us how to live, and then die for my sins, be raised to life after three days–conquering death!  What peace and hope He brings to those who believe.  Time to give gifts!  That is always fun.

We had our class Christmas party, and I didn’t take very many pictures this time!  I had my hands full of a sweet baby for lots of the time.  Such a good baby he was!!

We went to a concert the other night at church.  We didn’t stay the whole time because we are old and got tired, but it was fun while we were there.

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Disclaimer on Molly–she had her fifth grade class party before the concert and decided to dress somewhat festively!  Love that girl.

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It’s always more fun with friends!  These sweet friends won’t be here for much longer, but we sure have enjoyed catching back up with them!  Mack gets to go to Sunday School with T and has loved having another boy around!

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Today we ran some errands and then I treated the kids to Bahama Bucks because, well, it doesn’t exactly feel like Christmas time here in Georgia!  So shaved iced was totally appropriate.

The store had a bunch of board games to choose from, so they played a game, ate their ice, and laughed a lot.  Mack was not underdressed at all.  The girls were overdressed…it is warm here!!!

So that is what we have been up to during our break.  I am so thankful.

NYC, day 3

We started our day off fueling up for more walking and exploring.

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I won’t lie.  It took a bit to get them out of bed.

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We took a taxi to The World Trade Center Memorial.  It was a sobering sight.  All the names were overwhelming.

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This is Freedom Tower…a building they built nearby the location of the memorial.

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Then, we walked over to St. Paul’s Church that is filled with memorabilia from 9/11.  All of it was overwhelming.

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We walked over to Wall Street and saw the Stock Exchange and the location where George Washington gave his inauguration speech.

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And of course, we needed to refuel at this point.

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Then, we walked over to the Statue of Liberty area.  We didn’t take the ferry out to the statue, but being in this area was enough.

While we were waiting on Josh to figure out where to get our subway card, we snapped a couple of pictures.

I asked these nice firemen if Mack could get his picture taken with them.  They were so nice and let him get inside and wear a Fireman’s hat!  These guys looked like kids to me.  It is crazy to think that they might have been young teenagers when 9/11 happened.

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After this we were ready for our subway experience.  Kids loved it.  And now that we know, next time we go back to NYC, we can broaden our exploration and check out other parts that we couldn’t walk to and/or didn’t want to drive to in a taxi.

The man in the bottom right picture was telling Josh about the subway.  He is a carriage driver in Central Park.  He was also in the South Tower on 9/11 when the planes hit. Josh was listening to his stories while at the same time having moustache-envy.

We went to Columbus Circle next and did some shopping…after a pretzel on the street corner.  At this point breakfast and the donuts were no longer providing fuel, and yet we couldn’t find anywhere we wanted to eat.  As it turns out, even though we were all starving, the waiting was well worth it.

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We shopped some more, went by Rockefeller Center again and stopped in a bakery before heading back to the hotel.  We had a super early flight, so we were getting in the taxi at 5am Thursday morning!  Yikes.

Can you tell we were pooped?

Thankfully, we had an amazing trip and enjoyed every minute of it! And at the same time, we were super happy to see baggage claim and get in the car to come HOME.

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Til next time, New York!

NYC, day 2

After a good night’s sleep, we were all ready to start our second day in the big city of New York!  A good breakfast was their top priority…

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Then, we walked to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes.  Wow!  That was so fun.  It was a great show.

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The end of the show is alway the best!  A beautiful nativity scene.

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This was the coldest day, but still not bitterly cold by any means.  The food at the diner was delicious!  We were in need of lots of walking, so that is what we did…to Central Park.

The buggy ride was one of our favorite times!  It was beautiful everywhere you looked in Central Park.  And it was nice to not be surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people for a little bit.

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The third picture above shows a tall white building;  our carriage driver said Madonna lives in the pent house.

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We went shopping around town for a little while…saw the long line to get in Saks Fifth Avenue, the three story American Girl Doll store, and other fun places.

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We went to a restaurant for some dessert…Burger Heaven was the name.  And then we decided to walk to Times Square.  Ruby was not a fan.  At all.  She thought it was all ridiculous and wondered why her dad thought it was a good idea to bring his family to this area.

We made our way back to the hotel and the kids went directly to the room where they keep the cookies…lol!

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Back in the room we let the kids watch HGTV, which they love but don’t get to see regularly.  And I watched Fox News, which I love but don’t watch regularly.  It was neat to see Megyn Kelley sitting at her news desk with Radio City right behind her.  We were so close!IMG_2839

Day two, a success!

 

New York City, day 1

We had a fabulous few days together as a family in NYC!  This was the first time for the kids to be in this amazing city, and they had a blast.

I am the self-appointed annoying picture-taker.  Many times I am confronted with groans and eyes rolling when I request or command that we take a picture.  HOWEVER, what do they want to do in the evening?  LOOK AT MY PICTURES!  So, they can be annoyed if they want to, but I will continue to take pictures, pictures, pictures. (I may or may not have used this statement….”You never know when one of your family members won’t be here anymore and at that moment every picture is a treasure.”)

So without further ado, here we go….

We had an easy trip to the airport.  The kids were beyond excited about getting on the plane.

And then we landed at LaGuardia, and we spotted Coach Spurrier (actually, Josh spotted him because I would have never recognized him).  I approached him gingerly because I thought he might be gruff and mean and tell me he wouldn’t take a picture with anyone.  He was wearing dark sunglasses and talking on his flip phone.  He rode coach with all us normal people, too.  Interesting. He was super nice and did have about 45 seconds of small talk with Mack and me.  We spotted him a few days later walking the streets of NYC…so we’re basically best of friends at this point.

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We made our way in a taxi to our hotel.

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We spotted the NYC Chick-fil-A!

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Mack wanted to run through every revolving door like Buddy in the movie ELF.

We got settled in and tried to figure out our new selfie stick, of which I never imagined myself purchasing, but it came in handy…except for the many times we didn’t know how exactly to use it, exasperating all of the non-enthusiastic picture takers I was traveling with.

So off we went!

We stopped at Rockefeller Center next.

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We continued walking and shopping and decided to find Serendipity 3, one of my favorite spots! We stopped at Central Park for a bit and just looked all around at the sights and lights and people.

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spotted this adorable manger scene in a window of a shop

 

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BRIGHT lights in the city!

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And that was just our first night in NYC!  This is what the kids thought about it all once we got back to the room…..

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So funny!  I must admit, after the second full day my legs were sore!  By the end of our third day, I was glad our trip was over.  I could not have kept up with Josh’s big ‘ol steps through that busy city another second!  But our first day was a total success.  Perfect weather, perfect food and wonderful family time!

 

 

Around Here

Not much has been going on around here, aside from some serious discussions about Mark Richt and how his leaving UGA will greatly affect our life.  Kidding.  Though we have talked about it quite a bit.  I am a Miami fan now and need to find a Miami cap to wear to support Richt!

This will be a random post about this, that and the other…but I feel the need to post something.

We started our Christmas Devotion, “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp.  It is always great to read the Scriptures and focus on Jesus. He is so good to us.  We are so thankful for His mercy and grace in our lives on so many levels.

We have been working on our new nativity puzzle little by little, which I enjoy.  Usually a kid or two will come over and help me and chat with me.

This past week we finished up our school for the year!  December is such a full month with lots of fun opportunities that we decided this was a great decision.

I am reading a book called The Phases of Learning by the DeMilles.  It has been such a great read so far.  Lots of great encouragement and reminders about home schooling and what is truly important.  If you are a home schooling mom or dad, I would strongly encourage you to read this book.

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The kids have been in shopping mode lately, so one night I took Molly out to buy gifts for the family.  It was a fun time!  She enjoyed every bit of the one on one time….Panda Express was a nice bonus for her as well.  We came home after shopping and wrapped up the gifts before the others came back.

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Ruby and I went the next night and had a fun time together, too.  Her little bonus was a milkshake from Steak N Shake.  She is so fun to be with.  She has been taking piano since August and is doing so well.  Seems to be enjoying it so much, and I love to hear the Christmas music playing from her keyboard.

Mack plans to go with Josh soon to shop for his sisters. It’s going to be hard for him to buy for the girls…he is always so aware of what HE wants to buy for HIMSELF.  haha!  I am glad that Josh has that responsibility.  It will not be a quick shopping trip.  I can guarantee you that!

Josh snapped a picture of Mack and me the other night.  Mack loves to be with people (mainly with me), but he just likes us all to be together.  If I find myself sitting down for some rare reason, most of the time a little boy named Mack finds his way to my side.  And talks!!  Wow.  He talks.  He always, always has something to say.

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So that is an update on things around here.  Sounds kind of boring, but trust me, it’s not.  Cooking and cleaning and laundry and walks and talks and paying bills and reading and chauffering to this and that.  Life is good.  I am thankful.  Even in the midst of quite unsettling times in our country and around the world, there is a peace in my soul…His name is Jesus.  The Prince of Peace.  Without Him, I would be an absolute mess.

There’s also a gun in my purse, but that’s another topic for another day.