Dear Laina Rose,

I want to remember you just this way at just this time.  Everything about you is so much fun.  If I could freeze time with you, I would choose now.

I love how you wake up and I hear you saying, "Mama".

I love how you play peek-a-boo with Dad over my shoulder. 

I love how you play peek-a-boo all by yourself and smack your head silly covering up your eyes.  Not one of us is able to keep a straight face when you do this!

I love, love, love when you lay your head on my shoulder and give me a sweet snuggle.  Makes my day every time.

I love how you scrunch your nose when you smile.

I love how your eyes so easily sparkle.

I love how you dance to music and sing "Buzz Buzz."

I love singing "Lida Rose" to you from the Music Man, inserting your name instead.  You have no idea what I'm doing but someday I hope you think it's special. 

I love watching you with other kids.  You are not the least bit intimidated by anyone, no matter their size.  Your friendly personality is contagious.

I just love holding you and squishing you as tightly as I can.  As hard as I try to not think of you as my baby, you are.  And I'm sorry to tell you that this probably won't go away soon.  I already tear up thinking of you starting school someday and not being home with me all day.  So just be prepared for when you're 16 and want to drive and date.  It's not going to be an easy time for either of us!

But for now, this is you and I love the now with you.


5 Things...

Here are five things I want to be sure and remember about this Christmas:

1.  Reading a devotion with the kids first thing Christmas morning and instilling the real meaning of Christmas in their hearts.

2.  The way Laina's eyes twinkled in the Christmas lights.

3.  How every one of our kids did a super job waiting for their turn to open presents and said thank you to each gift-giver.  I couldn't have been more proud.

4.  This look on Hayden's face as she opened her "Tinka-bell"! 

5.  How the words to "O Holy Night" took on an even deeper meaning to me this year and how I want my New Year's Resolution to be that I "fall on my knees" every day in 2011 because my soul has "felt its worth" since He appeared.  I pray that you have received this incredible gift too.

I hope you and your families have had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Just in case you haven't made your cookies for Santa yet, here is my very.favorite.ever sugar cookie recipe.  I just made up a batch for the kids and I to decorate tomorrow.  We have to be prepared when the big guy makes his appearance at our place Friday night!

Christmas Eve Cookies

1 cup butter/margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cup sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter with sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg.  Dump in the flour, salt and baking powder and mix well.  Stir in vanilla and mix even better than before.  Cover and chill 1 hour.  Roll out on floured board and cut with cookie cutters.  Bake on ungreased sheet at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

We always make some vanilla frosting and decorate according to our shapes.  Seriously, these things are so EASY which is one of my favorite parts about them.  Another favorite part is eating the dough....I could probably eat the entire bowl before I even baked the cookies!  This recipe is from my Grandma's church cookbooks.  In my opinion, church cookbooks are the very best place to find yummy recipes, don't you think?

So don't read any further....Go!  Make some cookies for Santa!  And if Santa just so happens to be you, well, enjoy!!

Photo Shoot

These two are










My girls

Man, I love these two.

Well, this won't do much good....

Jake went out before church yesterday to fire up the snow blower for the first time in, well, a few years, actually.  The only problem was, the snow blower did not want to fire up!  So Jake, being the great guy that he is, decided he would shovel our drive.  The good, old fashioned, get blisters on your hands even though you have gloves on chore of shoveling.  The only problem with that was this:

About two shovels of the heavy snow and the darn thing broke.  I guess we weren't in the market for a clear driveway yesterday...or today for that matter!  We are home from school today on our first snow day of the year!  I don't know about you, but I'm always thankful for a good snow day where we can all just bundle up together.  It just makes the day feel a little more special and fun sometimes!

Prayers Answered!

Well, friends, it's been a long time!  I am happy to report that I am back in the land of the Internet!


Jake and I have moved into a nice little home in Sparta, the next town over from good ol' K.C., and have been prepping our home for holiday fun ever since we stepped in the door.  I have been praying so hard for a place of our own since Jake's parents so graciously allowed us to live with them.  I have to be honest, though...we bring a lot of loot with us since we have four little ones and a lot of time, our "loot" can be in the form of some pretty awesome tantrums.  It is NOT easy being consistent and dealing with those things in someone else's home.  So now, we're all cozy in our little house where I can allow "screaming it out" galore!  Ha!

Boy, has it been a crazy few months.  My last post was a sincerely sad one about my friend Amy.  Three weeks later, we got a call from a former student of ours, saying that another dear friend had passed away.  This news was devastating.  Our friend, Larry, is "Miss Donna's" husband, and dad to one of my best friends and favorite students.  We spent the week with the Krygiers and are so thankful that my parents could watch the kids so we could have that time with them.

A couple more weeks later, my dad was in a very scary car accident.  Thankfully, everyone was okay but there was definitely concern to be had.  I sat in my in-laws' backyard and cried so hard.  All of this tragedy, Jake not hearing anything on a job front and other surprising events happening in loved ones' lives around us - it was a time that I started to doubt God.  Not His existence, but whether His plan really was perfect.  Why wasn't He moving the way we needed Him to?  Was Jake being punished for stepping away from the ministry position he had?  Would we ever be in ministry again?  Would these hearts, so aching, ever be mended?

Of course, God always proves that He is never-changing, never-failing, and always perfect.  He's always working behind the scenes.  While we see a dry desert before us, He sees every grain of sand and how they are all pieced together.

Jake and I had come to a point where we could depend on no one else but God.  I think - no, I know - God really likes it that way.  We knew we had to get into our own place by December 6th for family reasons (which you'll see in a moment).  Check out what's happened just in this last week:

  • Would you believe that He gave us a home on December 5th?!  We fit perfectly in our 3-bed ranch!
  • Jake began working at a factory on the 6th as a temporary job.  He was pretty much guaranteed to only have a week of work.  We were nervous about what would happen in January when we had no income.  THEN - Jake was given at least one more week of work and most likely two!
  • Jake received a call and some emails from a few different churches who are interested in him!  We were really wondering how long it would be before we'd be back in full-time ministry - a passion and love we just can't be rid of!  We are super excited to see where all of this goes.
God is so great.  He does always provide RIGHT when we need it.  He knows so much better than we do what is best for us.  I seem to need this reminder constantly.  Could you please join with us in praying for a couple of things?
  • Jake also has a couple of tests to take for a job with the city of Grand Rapids which will more than cover all of our monthly bills!  Please pray that he passes these tests and it's the Lord's will for him to have this job.  We would know that we would be financially secure for the next few months then....although, depending on the Lord to provide for our daily needs is a pretty exciting adventure.  :)
  • That the kids would adjust well to their new home.  So far, they're loving it but we still need to settle in a bit more.  I am really praying that having our own place will allow us a bit more consistency with them and that I can find a good routine for all of us again.  These last few days have been a bit tricky.
  • Please pray that something might work out with one of these churches.  One in particular is incredibly attractive to us and they are being so supportive with us wanting to stay here until Cole finishes his school year.  This particular church is in the Milwaukee area.  While we don't want to be far away from family again, we are really missing serving God through full-time ministry and pray that our wait won't be long.
 Here is our newest blessing that came on December 6th, just as planned!  My sister-in-law, Emily, and her husband, Matt, had their firstborn son, Jameson Matthew Teesdale!

I'm so happy for them!  I am thrilled beyond measure that we live close to them now so we can snuggle this little guy as often as we want.

And Cole is loving that he has another boy cousin!

Isn't he just precious?  Congratulations, Emily and Matt!!

A New Spark

June also brought with it a somewhat new adventure for Maurah.  She joined MainStage Academy of Dance in the winter and showcased her work t...