Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Eve and Christmas Blessings...and Prayers

Christmas Eve snuck up on us.   It felt like an armadillo arm wrestling a chimpanzee...weirdly unexpected.

We kept it simple.  Truthfully, we usually do.  We used a gift card from our elves (see previous post) that allowed us to purchase much of our meal.  My mom bought meats from a local restaurant and the gift card covered much of the rest (and the Christmas brunch after Church).

Our family filled the table...and more.  We have a kid's table and I'm thinking next year it needs to have a baby.  There will be three more children just within the next year...a new grandchild and two new daughters.

Ivan, Sarah, and Isabella were the only ones absent on Christmas Eve.  They celebrate Christmas Eve with Ivan's wonderful family and Christmas with us.

Ivan's beautiful family and by extension, ours too! 

This Christmas Eve it hit me, what God gave...the sacrifice Christ made coming to earth.  I look at my lovely daughter-in-love Elizabeth and find myself thinking about Mary and Joseph.  How uncomfortable Mary must have been.

I think to Sarah's labor and wonder if Mary had intense labor pains as they traveled.  Did it start with Braxton Hicks contractions (false labor) and when did Mary know she was in labor?

I can see just a bit more this Christmas.

Ben, Thomas, and Max (half asleep from a food coma...chuckle)

Tom and our beautiful Elizabeth, expecting soon.

Steve (my bro) and Anna

Jael, Me, and Gabe
What is normal anyway?

Timothy, Gabe, Bekah, and Benjamin
Gabe has learned the art of photo bombing.
We teach them young.

Jael and Timothy, two of our Asian blessings!
This is Timothy's first Christmas, most likely not just with family, but
first Christmas ever.
Christmas is also Jael's family day...a celebration of the day we
met her.  More on that in another post.

Jael, Benjamin, and Rachel
Ben looks like he's up to something.

My Mom and Anna 
Gma is learning to take selfies.

We then loaded up in our fifteen seat Mobile Ark to look at lights.  Whole neighborhoods which we had gone to in the past were remarkably dark.  Did anyone else find things this way?  

When we arrived home, Thomas and Anna went to feed some livestock of a friend.  What better way to remember the reality of where Mary and Joseph were.  (That and the enjoyment of chasing goats.  I mean, that's normal, right?)

I came home around 11:00 pm to tuck six little ones into bed and encourage the older brood to hit the hay..... and stuff 15 stockings.  

Our kids know (just our that Santa is a game we do to celebrate Jesus' birthday.  No, they don't tell other kids.  They see the fun and joy in pretending!

We kept it very inexpensive (think dollar tree mostly), but the kids love the excitement of getting up early to see what is in their stockings.

Can any parent tell me if it's possible to get to bed before 1:00am on Christmas morning?  I'm beginning to think it's virtually impossible,

This year Christmas morning was a little different, Christmas landing on a Sunday and all. It was a perfect way to celebrate Christ with some of our village and Church family though!

After Christmas we got caffeine (THAT IS HONESTY) went met everyone at our house to celebrate Christmas.

We even had a couple more than usual join us that we ADORE (Chris and Brandi)!

We chowed down on home cooked brunch and then got down to the business that the kids surprisingly had not committed mutiny for having to wait for.  Below are mainly the pictures of the gifts that came from our elves.

Timothy on his mini piano, which may 
or many not go into hiding occasionally so mommy's ears can rest (smile).

If Ben bangs this it lights up.  It's a perfect sensory toy.

Thomas and I gave this hat to Tom (with a built in beard).  He had us
cracking up.  Sarah got one with cat ears.

A beautiful friend sewed this for Bekah for Christmas.

This winter hat was a gift from my brother.  Oh my...MUCH LAUGHTER!

Ben got an amazing bear (and dog) from our elves.  He can curl up and sleep on it. 
It's HUGE!!!!

I must admit, this little girl was the best Christmas present ever (with another
to come next year).  In the back of Thomas is the only proof Sarah was  We DO have proof Ivan was there.

Ivan happens to HATE lizards.
Anna knows this.

Ummm...brilliance anyone?!!!

Rachel, such cuteness!

Now the great debate will be to build...or take apart?

Max and Ben 
Curious George is AWESOME!

Elves score with a skateboard...

...and a scooter!!!!

Max says that these shoes are SO comfortable.  
We tend to hit Payless or Walmart, so this is a huge 
treat for him!

Bekah is all girl and this was perfect.

More cuteness with Jael!

All these presents were from the elves across the United States, well except the weird hats, those were my brother and our doing.  The below pic was also from the elves, just from about a week earlier.

If you look closely you can see a baby bearded dragon (Tricho).

This Christmas was blessed, but it's not just the presents (big picture).  First and foremost it's a time celebrating our Savior as a family.  Next it was the heart behind the gifts.  So many sacrificed from their own budgets, time out of their own days, to give to our family.  The presents were a blessing, but the knowledge of love and giving that our kids learned this year was priceless.  They learned that strangers stepped forward to love them when there was a gap.  

The children are willing to sacrifice to bring their sisters home.  This is just flat out their hearts.  Never once have we heard anything but joy with the news we are bringing a new child/children in our family.  There's no fear in the children, just love.  We've encouraged them to talk about ALL feelings, but they are just flat out excited...and they know the hard...they know the trials that sometimes come.  Even now they sacrifice time as a family for the health of their little brother they cherish (Timothy's surgeries).  Our kids amaze us.  This is why the gifts meant so much to Thomas and I as well.  Our kids saw God's provision and blessing through our village...our village we never met across the United States.  
Friends, if you are reading this, we cannot say thank you enough.  Words cannot express how much it meant to see our children blessed through this time.  We have been blown away by the love you have shown them and us.  Thank you....HUGE hugs from our zoo to yours!!!! 

We ask for continued prayers for our adoption (protection) and I am also posting below the very specific adoption prayer requests right now.  PLEASE consider joining us in prayer.

*Would you pray that the next payment of $8450 comes in by the end of THIS year (2016)?  Yes, this is only three days (and this does make me gulp).  This is only the next payment.  We don't have the time to concentrate on how at this point.  We know God can and we trust in Him.
*Would you please pray that our adoption is fully funded by the end of January, 2017?  We have a lot in front of us and we are resting in faith.  To not have to wonder would be a blessing we cannot imagine.

Please also keep the three surgeries in January in your prayers.  Please pray for complete healing and success of these surgeries.  Please also pray for the one surgery (Ben's ear surgery) that is not yet paid for, that the hospital is willing to work with us on payments. (For more details about the surgeries, see the previous post.)

Please also pray for my friends Scott and Sandy Ferguson (and their youngest daughter Jenna) have been walking their daughter (and sister) Alyssa (14) through and intense and painful battle with brain cancer.  They have been praying her through...fighting her through..  With tumors growing back (and surgery to remove them many times), with treatment and experimental treatment, the tumor is back and throughout her brain.  Hospice has been called in.  Can you please...PLEASE pray for their family?  PLEASE PRAY FOR ALYSSA.  My heart hurts for them.  Though we know who holds eternity, this is beyond painful.  Please pray they feel God holding them closely through this time.

Thank you again friends for praying us through this time, giving so freely during Christmas, and all the love you have shared.  
Our village is pretty amazing.

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14

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