Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Senior Night

I'm taking a break from my series on Setting and Accomplishing Goals to share about some family fun and memorable moments!

Saturday was Senior Night for the basketball players at Joe's school.  (He transferred to a Christian school in 9th grade, after being homeschooled up to that point.)  It's hard to believe he's a senior!!  Joe was honored along with three senior girls:

Here are a few pictures of Joe that were taken by a student photographer and used in the Senior Presentation.  I really like these photos of my boy, especially this first one!  Isn't it awesome??  ;)

The boys' team is young and has had a challenging season, plagued with injuries. At times, they've only had five available players!! (The guys on the bench all had casts, splints and crutches!) That means those five guys had to play the entire game, without a rest, and guard against foul trouble, or they were down to four on the court!!  Saturday's game was a real heart breaker when they played hard and well, and then lost by 1 point.  :(

I took the following picture of Joe Saturday night during warm ups.  While it is not the quality of the ones above, I still think it's a pretty cool pic!  Don't you?

I guess you can tell I'm pretty proud of Joe!  :)  And no, it's not because he is a great athlete and star basketball player.  It's because he's a team player, quick to pass off the ball so others can score.  It's also because he's humble, patient, caring and compassionate, hard-working, determined, loyal, dedicated, and a great leader.  It all comes down to character.  That's what really molds a boy into a man.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why We Fail to Accomplish Our Goals

After discovering my list of Lifetime Priorities and Goals, along with my specific objectives for the year 2000, and in considering my goals for this year, I have been doing a lot of thinking about what it takes to accomplish our goals.  Specifically, I've been trying to figure out what it is that keeps us from doing what we set out to do.  I thought I'd share some of the insights I've gleaned from all of this pondering (other than a headache!)  ;)

What hinders us from accomplishing our goals:
  1. Unrealistic goals.

    One problem is that our goals are unrealistic.  Anything that we commit to do every single day without fail is likely unrealistic.

    A goal may simply be so ambitious that it is impossible.  An example of an overly ambitious goal is, "I'm going to lose 100 pounds before my son's wedding in May!"  ;)  (As much as I wish I could do that, I decided to scale down that goal to a more realistic 30 pounds by May!)   

    An objective may be unrealistic because it is unattainable or it may be that we have simply neglected to break a larger goal down into smaller goals that we can realistically meet.  As everyone knows, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time!  :)

  2. Too many goals.

    Goals require focus and commitment.  If we list a gazillion goals under each priority, we will defeat ourselves before we even get started.  It is better to narrow our focus to a few well-defined goals.

    I know I'm often guilty of setting too many goals, but I'm afraid it comes with the territory.  As women we wear many hats.  Many of us are Christians, wives, mothers, (and perhaps grandmothers), home managers, home educators, business owners, daughters, friends, and individuals with unique and varied interests.  We are trying to juggle many things at the same time, and do them all well.  It is hard not to come up with a long list of goals!  However, I've realized that if my goal list is as long as my grocery store receipt, it's time to scale it back!  ;)

  3. Perfectionism.

    Being perfect is a goal that no one can achieve.  A desire for perfection often leads to an "all or nothing" mentality, which can prevent us from seeing success.  We must learn that something is better than nothing!  I love this mantra that I heard maybe twenty years ago and has stuck with me through the years -- "Use what you have.  Do what you can.  Trust God to perfect it!"

  4. Resolution Mentality.

    Unfortunately, resolutions have earned a bad reputation!  Many people make a long list of New Year's Resolutions that don't survive past January.  (Ever compared the crowd in a gym in January to the one in July??)  While New Year's Resolutions start on January 1st and are theoretically intended to apply to that calendar year, did you know that goals can be made at any time??  That's shocking, I know!  :)  Of course, the start of a new calendar year or school year is an excellent time for setting goals and making a fresh start, but we can make goals any time of year!  We can also "start over" at any time of the week, month or year!  (No, you don't have to wait until a Monday or until the first day of the next month to begin again!!)  ;)

  5. Lack of character. 

    Change is hard.  It requires an investment of physical and emotional energy.  We need determination, perseverance, self-control, diligence, and more in order to change bad habits and create new, healthier habits in any area of life.  Attempting to accomplish our goals will stretch us and reveal character deficiencies we didn't even know we had.

  6. Not a priority.

    Sometimes we fail to accomplish our goals because we fail to make them a priority.  My daughter, Tiffany, is a serious pianist.  She told me recently that she had failed to accomplish her weight loss and fitness goals because they weren't as important to her as her musical goals.  I think this is a very insightful statement.  Many times we do not accomplish our goals because they really aren't high enough on our priority list.  In some cases, we need to move them up the ladder to a higher priority (at least for a period of time), and other times, we just need to accept that a particular goal is not important enough to sacrifice other things in order to accomplish.

  7. Life happens. 

    Sometimes major upheavals get in the way.  There may be a job loss or move that interrupts our best laid plans and causes us to lose momentum.  Or it may be, that we break an ankle, or have to care for an aging parent who breaks a bone.  (Yes, I have first-hand experience with all of these scenarios!)

    Other times it is just daily life that gets in the way of our goals and plans.  I have the perfect example of this -- I had every intention of completing this post and putting it up on my blog on Monday morning . . . and here it is Wednesday night and I'm still trying to finish it up and get it posted!!

    A busy mom of a large family encounters many obstacles to her plans and goals each and every day!  However, many times these "obstacles" are actually higher on the priority list and take precedence (such as, the needs of my husband or children or a woman that is hurting and needs to experience God's love).  Other times, they are just those annoying interruptions that we all experience from day to day!!

  8. Not making room for new habits.

    A huge problem is that we often don't make room for new habits in our lives.  Unless we alter our daily schedules and routines to make a place for new habits, it is unlikely we will accomplish our goals!  Every goal that we identify has to be slipped into the nooks and crannies of our days.  Some goals will require major overhauls to our schedules!

    All of this takes time and some learning by trial and error, as we continually tweak our schedules to try to squeeze everything into the time we have.  We must ask ourselves the hard questions -- Will we wake up earlier?  Stay up later?  Start school at a different time? Work through lunch?  Eliminate something else to make room for something better?  

    The bottom line is, unless we make an action a habit (through repeating it often enough), and unless we make that habit part of our routine, and unless we make room for that routine in our daily schedules, we won't be able to sustain the new action for very long!!

  9. Trying to do it all in our own strength.

    I am guilty of thinking that failure comes from not trying hard enough.  Perhaps failure comes from not abiding enough.

    John chapter 15 teaches us that we must abide in the Vine if we hope to bear fruit in our lives.  Verse 5 makes it very clear that without Christ, we can do nothing!  However, when we abide in Christ, we can accomplish far more than we ever dreamed!

    Philippians 4:13 says,
     "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

  10. Lacking God's vision.

    It is so easy to get so pre-occupied with the good things we want to accomplish, even the things we want to accomplish for God, that we leave God out of our plans!  That's sad, isn't it?  The devotional, Jesus Calling, has helped me see how Jesus wants to be intimately involved in our lives.  He is calling us to be aware of His presence at all times, not just during our "Quiet Times."  He wants to be included in our goal setting sessions as well as the living out of our plans.  When we set goals according to His will, then we can be confident that He will help us accomplish them.

    Proverbs 16:3 says (in the Amplified version) -- "Roll your works upon the Lord (commit and trust them wholly to Him: He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will), and so shall your plans become established and succeed."

    Our goals, although well-intentioned, may not be God's goals for us at that time.  Dawn, of One Faithful Mama, recently blogged about this matter of replacing our goals with God's goals here.  She said, "His goals for me will change my life.  They won't make me skinnier, or healthier, or happier.  But they will make me holier and isn't that the main goal?"

What do you think?  In your experience, have any of these hindrances prevented you from accomplishing your goals?  If so, how have you overcome them??  I'm very interested in exploring ideas with you for overcoming these obstacles and achieving success!!  Please leave a comment sharing secrets you have discovered to accomplishing your goals.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Making Progress the Slow and Steady Way

In the same notebook where I discovered my Lifetime Priorities and Goals, I also found my goals for the year 2000.  I had listed several specific goals under each of my priorities that I hoped to accomplish that year.

Looking back at that list, I see that I did not accomplish all of my goals for that year, nor any year since that time, for that matter.  While at first glance this may seem deeply discouraging, it actually encourages me!  That's because, looking back, I realize that I did make significant progress towards fulfilling most of my Lifetime goals during the past twelve years.

That means that even when we fall short of accomplishing all we set out to do, we can still be making progress toward our overall goals!!!  Isn't that encouraging??

Sometimes, as women, we can be too hard on ourselves, scrutinizing our failures and shortcomings and overlooking our victories and successes.

Based on this exercise, I see the wisdom of identifying our lifetime goals.  Then, even if we fail to reach our short-term objectives, we can still be encouraged by our overall progress.  I remember a story that my mom used to read to my children hundreds of times when they were little.  It was a Disney version of the classic fable, The Tortoise and the Hare.  In the book, Goofy often quoted his motto for life: "Slow and steady; steady and slow. That's the way we always go."  As we all know, it is the one who makes slow and steady progress who ends up winning the race!

However, I must confess that I do see some areas where I've failed to make slow and steady progress through the years, and that makes me sad.  I wish I could go back and make different choices in order to have been successful in these areas of my life.  One key area would be that of weight loss.  Yes, it was on my list of goals for 2000 -- except the number was much smaller back then.  :(  In other words, if I had been successful with that goal at that time, I wouldn't have such a huge amount to lose now.  :(

(Hey, I think I'm feeling inspired here -- what about this?  "A pound in time saves nine!!")   ;)

Seriously, I'm reminded of these incredibly wise words by my role-model, Charlotte Siems, who lost over 100 pounds and 9 sizes with the help of the T-Tapp workout:

The little things you do every day matter.  Even when it doesn’t look like they matter.
A choice to exercise, even for five minutes.  A choice to skip exercise.  A choice to eat three cookies….or not.
The trick is that even when you make the right choice, you don’t see the results right away, today.  Maybe not even in two weeks.  But you'll see the results in two years.
We are so used to instant results in our modern world.  Email rather than snail mail, microwave rather than campfire, car rather than covered wagon.
All those daily choices have subtle, tiny effects.  By the time you see the results, the choices are ancient history.  At the time you made the choices, nobody noticed but you.  But everybody will notice the eventual results.
We want to tell ourselves that the little things don’t matter.  But before we know it, the days pass and the months fly by and we’re left wondering how we got here. 

To read the rest of what Charlotte had to say about how to be successful in weight loss and in life, click

So, I've been doing a lot of pondering about priorities and goals and actions, trying to figure out why I've made progress in some areas of my life and not in other areas.  What's really the key to achieving success??  In my next post, I'll share some insights that I've gleaned.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Lifetime Priorities and Goals

I recently discovered something quite interesting -- a notebook containing my Lifetime Goals and Priorities, which were based on the passage I shared yesterday in Titus 2:3-5:

"The older women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed."
These goals, listed in order of priority, were written about 15 years ago, and have given me a framework for my life.

1.  Relationship with God

Goal -- to become a woman who knows and fears the Lord, whose adornment is my meek and quiet spirit, and to be conformed to the image of Christ and live in intimate fellowship with Him.  (Proverbs 31:30, 1 Peter 3:1-5, Romans 12:1-2)

2.  Relationship with my husband

Goal -- to be a submissive, loving wife, willing to put my husband's needs above my own, and to be like the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31, whose husband was known in the gates when he sat among the elders of the land.  (Ephesians 5:22-24,  Proverbs 31:23)

3.  Relationship with my children

Goal -- to be a godly mother to as many children as the Lord chooses to give me, committed to loving and shepherding them, training them in God's ways, leading them to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, training them to be mighty in spirit, instilling in them godly character, and teaching them to base all of life, including academic knowledge, around Christ and His Word.  (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 2:2-3)

4.  Keeping my home

Goal -- to make my house a home -- a haven from the outside world, a warm and inviting place where my husband and children, family and friends, and whomever else God sends my way will feel welcome and comfortable.  Also, to maintain a consistently clean, orderly and peaceful home, to the glory of God.  (Titus 2:5, 1 Corinthians 14:40,  Proverbs 31:27)

5.  Ministering to other women

Goal -- to become a Titus 2 older woman who is qualified to teach the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and obedient to their own husbands, so God's Word will not be dishonored.  Also to teach these qualities now by my spoken and written word and by example.  (Titus 2:3-5)

6.  Personal growth

Goal -- to increase my knowledge in areas that will enable me to better serve my family and to minister to other women.  Also to maintain personal disciplines that will help me be strong, healthy, and attractive to my family.

7.  Outside activities

Goal -- to take on outside interests and activities as the Lord leads and as I can handle without taking away from my home and family.


I've made a few interesting observations from discovering and reading these lifetime goals and priorities, which were written so many years ago.

1.  I should have had these goals in a place where I would read over them on a regular basis to make sure I was staying on track.  Initially, I did that, as I had neatly printed these priorities and goals in a section of my Daytimer planning notebook.  The problem is I grew tired of carrying a cumbersome notebook and eventually replaced it with something smaller.  Unlike many modern women, I haven't quite graduated to an electronic planner, but I'm sort of straddling the world of electronic calendars and reminders and the good old-fashioned daily planner.

2.  Even though I have not had these goals and priorities before my eyes these last several years, I still find that my life has been directed by them.  This is probably due to the fact that they were all based on my life verses, which I have reread and rehearsed often through the years.

3.  Obviously, I have fallen short of my goals and priorities in many ways; however, I'm still pleased to see that I have stayed on course, and that I could easily adopt the same lifetime goals and priorities today, fifteen years later.

4.  Clearly, it was not a waste of time to identify and record these goals and priorities for my life, as they have proven to be a trustworthy framework on which I have built, and continue to build, my home, my family, my life, my heritage.

"Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands."  ~ Proverbs 14:1

How about you?  Have you identified goals and priorities for your life?  If so, how has that exercise affected your life?


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Life Verse

Do you have a Life Verse?  A passage that God has impressed on your heart that has helped to guide you and shape your life??  If so, what is it?

My life verses, ever since 1990, have been Titus 2:3-5:

"The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."  (KJV)

 The Amplified version sheds light on these verses by translating them this way:

"Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers or slaves to drink.  They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble, so that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited)."

This pivotal passage has given me direction and helped to shape my life for over twenty years.  It has guided many decisions about how I would spend my time, my days, my life.

I started off trying to follow this verse as a young woman, intent on following God's blueprint for my life by loving Him, loving and honoring my husband, loving and training my children, and managing my home.  I was challenged to live wisely and to make sure my choices brought honor, not dishonor, to God and my husband.  I found this to be more than a full time job!!

Today, I find myself still trying to pattern my life after this key passage, but now from the perspective of the older woman.  Not quite sure how it happened that I transitioned from one to the other, but I think it is safe to say that I'm now on the other side!  ;)  While I'm still striving to love and honor God and my husband, to manage my home, and to spend much of my days (and nights!)  loving/teaching/coaching/encouraging/helping my children and young adults, I also find that I am now branching out beyond the walls of my home to minister more to the women around me.  I love encouraging younger women in the spirit of Titus 2, and find that the internet greatly facilitates this process.  One of my goals for this blog is to encourage the young women who read it to love their husbands, love their children, and keep their homes, all to the glory of God.

Tomorrow, I plan to share more about how this passage has shaped my priorities, my goals, and my daily habits over the years.

linked up with:


Friday, January 13, 2012

When Failure is the Pathway to Success

I recently saw a cartoon that went something like this:  One character asked another, "What is a New Year's resolution?"  The other one answered, "A To-do List for the first week of January."  :)

There is a lot of truth in that quip!  Most New Year's Resolutions don't last past the first month of the year, even if they do make it past that first week!

Many of us women are perfectionists, which means we have an "all or nothing" mindset.  We make a goal to exercise every day and when we miss a day due to illness, a crazy schedule or our own laziness, we just quit exercising all together. Or, we make a goal to eat more healthfully or follow a certain diet, and when we mess up and discover that we just ate a whole bag of M&Ms, we either throw out the whole diet, or we pig out for the rest of the week and say we will start over again next Monday!  (That's because a perfectionist never starts over in the middle of the week or the middle of the day!!  It's an unwritten rule that can't be broken!)   ;)

The problem is we feel that if we can't do something perfectly, we just won't do it at all.  This is a tried-and-true recipe for failure!  We must learn to succeed in spite of our imperfections, inconsistencies and failures.

I love these words from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, found on January 5th:

"You can achieve the victorious life through living in deep dependence on Me.  People usually associate victory with success: not failing or stumbling, not making mistakes.  But those who are successful in their own strength tend to go their own way, forgetting about Me.  It is through problems and failure, weakness and neediness that that you learn to rely on Me."

If we have identified goals for ourselves that cause us to form new habits that involve denying ourselves and saying, "No" to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16), we will find that we don't get very far without crying out to God for strength and relying on His power to resist temptation.  (John 15:5b - ". . . for apart from Me you can do nothing.")

Fortunately, for the Christian, God promises that where we are weak, He is strong!  In fact, His strength is made perfect in weakness!  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So, when we fail to meet up to our own expectations and fall short of our carefully made goals, we should follow these steps to success:

1.  Make sure our goals line up with God's goals for us.

The same entry from Jesus Calling goes on to say, "True dependence is not simply asking Me to bless what you have decided to do.  It is coming to Me with an open mind and heart, inviting Me to plant My desires within you.  I may infuse within you a dream that seems far beyond your reach.  You know that in yourself you cannot achieve such a goal.  Thus begins your journey of profound reliance on Me."

Goals for self-improvement or accomplishing grandiose plans are great . . . but only when they line up with God's goals and purposes for our lives.  God's plans for us may actually be much bigger . . . . or smaller . . . than what we had in mind.  At times He has us in the "day of small things" and at other times He wants to accomplish more than we could even dream of; however, in every season, His desire for us is to simply be faithful to whatever He calls us to do.

2.  Cry out to God for help!

God delights in helping us when we come to home in humility and utter dependence on Him.  He will give us the grace and power to accomplish what we could never do alone.  As I already stated, where we are weak and unable, He is Strong and Able!  Through relying on Him to strengthen us, we can actually become Strong in our areas of Weakness!

I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.  ~ Philippians 4:13

3.  Seek to learn from our failures.

Back to Jesus Calling again, that entry finishes up with these words:  "This is not a path of continual success but of multiple failures.  However, each failure is followed by a growth spurt, nourished by increased reliance on Me.  Enjoy the blessedness of a victorious life, through deepening your dependence on Me."

I think we can learn something about ourselves through our failures.  Like Edison, we can learn 99 ways that don't work for us, and we will be that much closer to achieving success, especially when we are trusting God to guide us.  In every area of life, we will make mistakes, but a wise woman learns and grows from her mistakes.

4.  Make back-up plans for success.

In order to succeed, we need to have a Plan B, and possibly a Plan C, D, E and F!  ;)

Practically speaking, this means if we over sleep and don't exercise in the morning, we have a Plan B to exercise during our lunch break, or a Plan C to squeeze it in before bedtime.

If we are famished and have a pounding headache in the afternoon, and end up raiding the pantry in an attempt to feel better (like I did yesterday!), we come up with a plan to prevent that from happening the next time around.  Our plan may include eating something healthy and balanced every few hours, so we don't reach the point of being overly hungry and having our blood sugar drop.  It may also include keeping a healthy snack in our purse or vehicle to help when we are away from home (as I was when I first started feeling bad).

Another element of having a back up plan might be to establish a minimum that we will do regardless of the circumstances.  Maybe we wake up too late to do our entire workout routine, so we just perform a 5-minute routine that is better than nothing and keeps our workout habit in place.  Or, if we don't have time to read three chapters in our Bible, we can read one chapter . . . . or even a verse or two.

If we are ever to accomplish our goals, we must reach the point where we realize that something is better than nothing.  Perfection is like a mirage -- it keeps us wandering in the desert trying to reach something that doesn't exist.  The illusion of perfection prevents us from ever being refreshed by the waters of accomplishment, because we always fall short.  The crucial first step to being successful . . . and feeling successful . . . is relinquishing the idea that we have to be perfect and rejoicing over each step of faithfulness on our journey to reach our goals.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Red vs. White

I've long been a fan of chili, especially when the weather can be described by the same word, but I've always made the red variety.  I grew up with my Dad making a magnificent, manly pot of chili using red kidney beans and ground beef.  It was delicious and I always looked forward to it!  This fall, I branched out and tried an adventurous, but delicious, pumpkin chili.  It may sound a little strange, but family actually loved it!  I've seen recipes for a white chili, and always wanted to try that, so yesterday I finally made my first pot of white chicken chili in the crockpot.  It was yummy!

White Chicken Chili


3 15-oz. cans Great Northern beans
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
3 1/2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped yellow, red, and/or green bell peppers
2 jalapeno chili peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 ts. dried oregan
sour cream
grated cheddar cheese
tortilla chips


Combine beans, chicken, chicken stock, onions, bell peppers, and spices in slow cooker.  Cover. Cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4-5 hours.  Ladle into bowls and top individual servings with sour cream, grated cheddar, and chips, as desired.

Even though it was very good, and a nice change of pace, I still think I prefer a good pot of chili made with red kidney beans and ground beef, like I grew up eating.  How about you?  Which do you like better -- red chili or white??

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bringing in the New Year

Whew!  My new year has been a whirlwind thus far!!  How about yours??  

I wanted to post these pictures from our New Year's Eve Celebration, before it got any later!

This is my niece, Amber, making a pumpkin roll, which is something I never make, so it was a real treat!

Here's proof for her Mom that she got her hands dirty!!!  ;)

The pumpkin roll was delicious!

And pretty too!!

Amber also helped me make Wassail, which is a hot, mulled cider beverage that we enjoy drinking during the holidays.  Recipes for wassail abound, and vary quite a bit.  Here is our favorite version:

Holiday Wassail:

2 quarts apple juice or cider
1 pint cranberry juice
3/4 cups sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 orange, studded with whole cloves

Mix all together in crock pot.  Cook on high for 1 hour or low for 4-8 hours and serve warm.  (We double this recipe.)

We enjoyed bringing in the new year with some friends from church.  Love this pic of Maddie, wearing her "Happy New Year" headband.

After dinner and dessert, we played some games to help us stay awake until the ball dropped -- several rounds of Dutch Blitz followed by our family's favorite -- Catchphrase!  What is your favorite family game?

On January 1st, we were blessed to start off a brand new year in the Lord's house -- worshiping Him and being reminded to put Him first in the year ahead.  Back at home, we took down the Christmas decorations, watched football, and ate a delicious New Year's meal of ham, black-eyed-peas, sauteed cabbage and macaroni and cheese.  Do you have a traditional New Year's Day meal??

The next day, January 2nd, was a big day for my guys -- their favorite college team -- the South Carolina Gamecocks -- won their bowl game!   There was a lot of hooping and hollering and celebrating . . . and push-ups for each touchdown!!  :)

The guys like to stand up when a big play is underway.  (Anyone else notice how Bethany is standing exactly like Taylor????)

Some Victory poses!!  :)

If you follow football, I hope your team won . . . but if not, there's always next year . . . .  ;)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Portrait of an Average Family

We took advantage of having everyone together on Christmas Day to grab a family picture after church.  We tried to catch everyone before they changed clothes, but Bethany had already rushed upstairs and put on her comfy clothes.  She wasn't too happy about changing back into her church dress -- so I didn't stress over it.  (That, my friends, is the difference between a "well-seasoned" mom and a young, idealistic mom!)  ;)

You might like this picture -- where we appear to be a nice, normal, "average" family of twelve!  ;)

But, appearances can be deceiving!  :)

So, maybe you prefer this picture where we went for the "group hug!"  I think this pose reveals our true colors!  ;)

So, which one do you like best??

Monday, January 2, 2012

He's Official!

Joseph -- our 5th child, and 3rd son -- turned 18 the week before Christmas -- but he was out of town (bet you can't guess who he was visiting!), so we didn't celebrate his birthday until the day after Christmas!

Fortunately, Joe is very laid back and easy to please -- and never complains that his birthday celebration gets intertwined with our Christmas preparations and/or celebrations!

New shoes -- just what he asked for!  :)

Lookin' good!

Despite what it looks like, his cake was not on fire!  Just glowing with 18 candles, which of course, he easily blew out in one breath!  :)

Not only did he get the usual "Happy Birthday" song, but he got it sung to him in Chinese, too!  :) Now how many people (other than the billions who live in China!) get sung to in Chinese for their birthday??  :)

Christmas Day at Our House

Christmas Day was on the Lord's Day this year -- which was totally a Blessing, but altered our normal Christmas Day traditions to some degree.

We did start the day with our traditional Christmas morning Breakfast Casserole, cinnamon rolls and eggnog -- but instead of our normal leisurely breakfast, we rushed through our meal so we could run out the door for church!

Our church service was a blessing, turning our hearts to the Greatest Gift of all, and reminding us of the true meaning for Christmas!!

After church, we gathered on the front steps to take a family picture.  Several attempts later, we changed clothes, ate some leftovers from our Christmas Eve party, cleaned up the kitchen, and straightened the house a bit. Then, mid-afternoon, we finally gathered around the Christmas tree to open our presents.

Our tradition is to start with the youngest child and proceed to the oldest, and then go through the order again until all gifts are opened.  We usually make it through four to five rounds before the gift pile is exhausted.

Bethany started us off!  She was thrilled with her "comfy socks."

Matt was thrilled with these Star Wars PJ's!!

Oops!  No pictures of Luke opening presents!  Not sure how that happened!  Sorry Luke!  :)  He got lots of WWII "legos" and some gym shorts!  (Alan said, "Now we know what you'll wear every day this year, Luke!")  :)

Hannah got some books that were on her wish list.

New jeans and an American Eagle shirt for Chris!

Random cute pic of Hannah, Tiffany and Chris!

Oops!  Another gap -- no decent pics of Joe and Josh opening presents, so moving on to Tay!

Some new jeans and an American Eagle shirt!

Amber's turn!  (It is fun having my niece here with us!!)

A new coastal Georgia T-shirt (because she only has heavy winter clothes!).

Ashlyn got some bread pans and some Dunkin' Dark coffee!

Another pic of Ashlyn. . .

opening a crock pot!  She's still setting up housekeeping since moving to a house this fall.

Tiffany was excited to get a book about one of her favorite concert pianists, Lang Lang from China.

Cozy jammies for Hannah and Tiffany!

After the children opened their presents, we cleaned up the mess and rested for awhile.  Way too soon, it was time to get our Christmas dinner on the table.  (I was reminded of why I like to have the big meal mid-day -- by evening I'm just too tired and and my motivation and enthusiasm for putting together a big meal and making it special are definitely lagging!)   Nevertheless,  I managed (with some help) to get a nice meal served.  Alan prepared the main dish this Christmas -- a pork loin stuffed with sausage and spinach, which was Delicious!!   I added mashed potatoes and gravy, sauteed green beans, and sweet potato casserole to round out our Christmas dinner.

I wanted to show you a picture of the place cards that Hannah and I made this year.  Inspired by an idea we saw on Pinterest, we made these candy cane place card holders.  Aren't they too cute??  Unfortunately, I don't think they were intended for warm, humid climates, because they were quickly a sticky mess!!!  :(

So, that wraps up Christmas for another year!~!  How was your Christmas??
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