Thursday, December 31, 2015

The last post of 2015

We are down to the final 57 minutes of 2015.  I love this time of year where you look back on the year and reminisce.  I love how Instagram and Facebook show you your top memories.  I love how TV shows highlight the best and worst of the year.  I'm a memory person so all of this is huge to me.  

I thought about doing a recap of 2015 but if you are a reader here, you know pretty much how our 2015 went.  I keep this blog pretty positive and upbeat and I don't share the hard parts of life.  (Well, most of the time!)  But, I'll tell you that we experienced some of the lowest lows this year.  We had betrayal.  We had hurt.  We had heartache.  We had pain.  And, honestly, I want to relive exactly ZERO of that.  But, as typical, our blessings and good far outweighed those hard months.  So, I'm pressing on to what is ahead in 2016.  

I've made some pretty specific goals for the upcoming months.  Oddly enough, they aren't really New Year's Resolutions because they are things I would have started/continued if the next date on the calendar was March or September.  It's not really about the new year but more about the things God has been working on in my heart.  

I've been reading and podcasting a lot.  My heart and mind have been challenged and stretched in crazy ways.  So, much of this comes from that.  

1.  Have more people in our home-  I'm being super intentional about this.  One of the podcasts I listened to was with a lady who has people in her home almost every night.  Whether it is friends of her kids for dinner, college students from church, widows, family, friends- it doesn't matter.  People know her home is open and their greatest moments have come from that.  As I listened to that on a walk one day, I remember thinking "my word, she must always be cooking and cleaning!"  Then, in the midst of that thought, she said something along the lines of "I'm not extravagant.  Sometimes all I have to offer is a bag of chips or a frozen pizza!  There is usually laundry to be folded on the couch and the bathroom needs to be cleaned.  But, people are here.  We are fellowshipping.  We are growing and learning from each other."  That was an aha moment for me.  My house doesn't have to be clean.  My food doesn't have to be gourmet.  So, as of now, I have 3 things planned for our house in the next two weeks.  But, I plan to also have friends over for playdates, have staff over more often and cycle through the entire church council/deacons for dinner.  (Maybe not all in January though!)

2.  Exercise in the morning-  I am by nature a night person.  I head to the gym sometimes at 8:30 p.m.  I like it.  But, that takes me away from some of the only time I have with Dan.  That's not good. So, I'm attempting to put exercise clothes on as soon as I wake up so I can either walk/ride my bike/hit the gym/Zumba as soon as the boys leave for the day.  My time is short because I have to get Micah by 11 but I have to make it a priority.  I'd love to say that I will get up before them and do it but I know me well enough to know that will last approximately 2 days.

3.  Morning Family Devotions-  We typically do our Family devotions at night but we've decided to get up a little early and try them in the morning.  I think it will be powerful to speak the word of God over our entire family before the day is started.  And, hopefully it will help our kids start a pattern that will carry them through their lives.  If we all state a prayer concern we have that morning, we can have something specific to pray for each other over the course of the day.  

4.  Read a book per month-  I feel like I've learned so much from the things I've read this year.  So, I'm hoping to push myself to turn on the computer and pick up a book.  

5.  Lose More Weight- This has been a big part of our year since August 15.  We made the decision to make some serious life changes when we returned from our family beach trip.  We both did the Advocare 24 Day challenge after seeing the continued life changes in Dan's sister and her husband. They did this a while ago and have kept the weight off.  They were a great example to us and we knew we needed a kickstart of sorts.  So, we took the plunge.  In those 24 days, Dan lost 13 pounds and I lost 9.  (Don't hold me to those numbers.  We are both trying to remember off the top of our heads but that ended in September and we've lost so much more since then.)  Dan is at 35 pounds and has reached his goal.  He has gone from XL shirts to M&L.  His pant size dropped from 36 to 32 or 33.  His suit size went from 44 to 42.  He's had massive changes.  

I have lost 24 total but still have 30 to go.  I'm excited that I didn't gain throughout the holiday season but I didn't make a ton of progress.  Hey, we went on a cruise and took the steps the entire cruise.  People, we NEVER got on the elevator.  NEVER!  That's huge!!!!  We both quit soda and most coffee.  We drink a Spark every morning instead.  It hasn't been easy but it hasn't been as hard as I dreamed it up to be.  We don't consider ourselves to be on a diet but we've just incorporated a lot of fruit, veggies, fish, whole grains and WATER into our diets.    

If you want to check out Advocare, we signed up to sell it just to get the discount for ourselves.  Our goal isn't to make money but just to buy the products for ourselves.  You can click here to see what they have to offer.  Also, several people have asked what we are doing now.  We drink a TON of water.  We both track every bite we eat in the MY FITNESS PAL app.  We walk (me 2-3 miles and Dan 5-7 miles) at least 3-4 times a week.  We try to do an exercise DVD at home a couple of times per week also.  I hit the gym or Zumba but Dan doesn't.  He uses dumbbells at home.  

6.  Learn to cook healthy-  I'm a fairly good cook.  But, about 95% of what I make is not healthy.  It tastes really good but it isn't so good for the heart or body.  So, I've tested a lot of new recipes over the last 4 months.  I want to get to the point where that is a natural thing for me.  If Publix tracks what we buy then they think I was kidnapped back in August because I've bought things I'd never heard of before now.  (Grapeseed oil?!?!)

I've been pinning things on Pinterest and saving all kinds of recipes on Facebook so it's time to give them a try.  If you have any good healthy stuff, pass it on to us.  But, Dan won't eat anything with peppers (red/green/yellow) or broccoli.  So, have fun finding recipes that are healthy and don't have those things.  

7.  Neighborhood/Block Party-  A couple of years ago, our neighbor 4 houses down died.  He was in his 40s.  He died suddenly of a heart attack.  We had never met him.  He lived 4 doors down and we had never had a conversation!!!  Last month, a sweet lady joined our church who lives 5 houses down from us.  We had never met her.  The next week, she was sitting in front of our next door neighbors at church.  I went to see if they knew each other.  They had never laid eyes on each other.  People, that's terrible.  So, we are planning a little block party that includes 5 houses on each side of ours and across the street.  That is 22 houses including ours.  We figure if only half of those come then we will meet 11 sets of neighbors or get to know better the ones we already know.  

We're excited about the opportunity to invest in those around us.  Our neighborhood has had a lot of influx in the last year so I know those people are looking for community and friendship.  We hope to help facilitate that and be better connected to them ourselves.  

Ok, that's all for now.  There are certainly more things I am working on and maybe I'll post about those later.  But, it's 12:35 a.m. and even though I didn't list it, going to bed earlier is a real desire.  I didn't quite make it tonight.  There's always tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Day, 2015

When the Christmas Eve post ended, Micah and Jonah were snuggled together in Micah's bed.  They were sleeping but not soundly.  Micah had coughed so much that we knew he was not resting at all.  Dan went in to give Micah a breathing treatment and that woke Jonah.  And by woke, I mean WOKE!  Dude was wide awake and ready for the day.  It was 1:00 a.m.  That was not a good time to start the day!  We encouraged him to go to his room to get some sleep.  They called for us around 7:30.  We found them waiting in the hallway.  They were super excited.  

They rushed over to see the 3 things Santa brought them and to check out their stockings.  

After looking at Santa stuff, we let them open a gift from us.  Their most requested gift came from us this year.  It was fun to see their faces as they opened the things they had talked all season about.  

Ms. Louise came over early bearing gifts and Munchkins from Dunkin Donuts.  The boys were happy to show her what they had gotten and to see what she got them.  

Micah walked into the kitchen and was shocked to find a note written to him from Phibby, our elf.  He had already left a note for the boys together but this one was extra.  And, it was attached to a bag.  

The bag had some toys in it that had been taken away by us.  Micah was not taking care of his toys and after many warnings, it was a VERY bad day when we took them to throw them away.  Bad doesn't describe it, y'all.  But, Phibby saw all of that and rescued the toys then left a note reminding Micah of why it is important to take care of the things you have and even told him about some elf friends of his who visit homes where there are NO toys.  

My favorite Christmas Decoration again this year was our tree with all of our previous Christmas cards on it.  It has every card we have sent since the year Jonah was born.  It's fun to reminisce.  

The kids spent the next couple of hours playing the toys they had opened and playing with each other.  We had to break up numerous fights and Micah was punished repeatedly.  It was a bad day.  We should have clued into the fact that this was not typical behavior but we didn't.  We kept punishing him.  He kept getting meaner and madder.  It was bad.  

They went outside for a while to fly their new toys.  I heard Micah screaming from inside.  I'm telling you, he was off.  I had never seen him act the way he did on Christmas Day.  

We came inside and they gave us their gifts.  We had a few sweet moments but then Micah was back to his antics from earlier in the day.  

They exchanged their gifts to each other from each other.  

While they played, I got lunch ready for our guests that would be arriving soon.  

Micah refused to eat one thing we had prepared so he got a lovely lunch of PBJ, goldfish and yogurt.  

Then, right in the middle of the meal, he started throwing up.  He was burning up with fever and couldn't keep food down.  Then I felt really guilty for all the punishment he had received that day.  He was sick...really sick!  He tried to perk up to spend time with our guests but he just couldn't.  
They all said their goodbyes and headed out and we got him medicated and settled in to rest for the day.  

Seeing these next pictures just make me feel even worse.  I can tell how sick he was.  He fell asleep on Dan on the couch (which never happens!!!) at 5:00 p.m.  

His little face was red and he was burning up with 102.5 fever.  He slept a solid 14 hours once we put him to bed.  
As I sat in the chair that night looking around at the Christmas decor and toys on the floor, I was a little blue.  It had not been a very magical day.  It had not been the fun and excitement I had hoped for.  And, I felt a lot of guilt over how sick he was and rather than recognizing that, we just kept sending him to his room and taking things away.  
But, as I think about it, that first Christmas when Jesus came into the world was very magical either.  They were stuck in a smelly stable with animals and probably a lot of gross-ness.  If Mary envisioned bringing the King of the World into our world, I'm sure that wasn't what she had in mind.  But, isn't that how Jesus works?  He shows up in our mess.  He shows up not as a conquering King but as an approachable infant.  It wasn't perfect.  But, that mess ushered Jesus into our world.  So, in my mess and disappointment, I'm grateful for Emmanuel...God WITH us!  The celebration doesn't matter.  The gifts do not matter.  The people present do not matter.  HE matters.  HE is with us.  Not just on Christmas, but today...5 days later when we have been cooped up in the house with a sick kid.  5 days later when the whining has been incessant.  5 days later when trips were canceled, plans didn't happen and I didn't get to buy any clearance Christmas decorations...HE IS WITH US!

That's really what Christmas is about.


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