Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you WILL perform it until the day of Jesus Christ"

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Christmas 2015

2015 has been an adventure, as always! Peyton and Paige turned 15 and took driver's ed. They have been driving us around most of the time since March. I am not sure if we are more scared to have them get their licenses this next year or relieved. Paige and Peyton, James and I took a quick trip to Chicago in the spring. It was a fun few days of walking, shopping, fighting public transportation, fighting, eating, etc....

The girls did not go to summer camp this year but kept very busy. Paige did some babysitting and helped out a few weeks at Camp Assurance. Both girls enjoyed spending time with their friends. They ended their freshman year and Reese completed Thursday school. There was much time spent in the pool this summer, late nights with teenage girls who didn't care that the water was cool at night. We had a dog adventure. Our 12 year old Shih tzu, Ella wandered away one sunny day when we were out by the pool. We looked for her frantically and had given up on seeing her again when TWELVE days later a neighbor called and had found her in her yard. We were thrilled to get her home. Strangely, her skin was in the best shape it had been in for years! (James thinks it was a Paleo diet). Both dogs are showing some age, we are blessed to still have them both with us. We had a few projects this summer. For the first time we painted the huge living room. We hired this done, and I am very happy with the orange and tan walls. We (James) also put new flooring in the downstairs bedrooms, making the house less stinky and more (old) dog friendly. Late in the summer, Grandma Joyce Snyder's illness took a toll on her. She had been on hospice for awhile (but still driving herself everywhere). She took a fall in August and then grew more short of breath and weaker in the coming weeks. On August 17 one of the family started staying with her 24/7. It was one of the most difficult but rewarding month we spent together and with her as she went through the stages of readiness to go to heaven. She was very ready, she was not scared and she was at peace. She had a sweet testimony of God's grace in her life and we couldn't help but be happy for her to be at Home with her Lord, her beloved husband, son, and other family members she had lost. It was a blow to us, though. Grandma Joyce had been very active and was very important to Reese. The transition to not having Grandma with us has been hard on that little girl. I am so proud of the entire family during her illness. One of my girls seemed to always be at her side. Peyton stayed nights with me there and often helped me to move her. Aunt Cheryl, who completely put her life on hold to care for her mother, was a trooper and learned so much about hands on nursing care in a short time. I can't say enough about the supportive hospice nurses, CNA's, chaplains, etc. I am so proud of my husband as he cared for his grandmother and spoke of her at her memorial. Such a blessing!

In November, Reese turned 6 and we surprised her with a new bed and new bedroom furniture. James had built the bed for her, a beautiful loft bed. The best part of the year was the secret James and I kept from the girls since early in the summer. We planned a trip to Tucson to see our good friends, Dan and Jess. The girls were told we were going to Florida, just the 5 of us. We surprised them the night before our plane left in the hotel in Chicago. They were thrilled to go and visit the friends they loved and missed. While Tucson was strangely cold, we still enjoyed the beautiful scenery and many exhibits for locals and visitors. You could go somewhere different for weeks and not see the same thing twice there. Of course, spending so much time with friends was the favorite activity!

I am still in graduate school. I was happy to finish the first year and am now halfway through year two! The program is a four year one, so there is still plenty of time to go. Paige joined the fire department as a cadet and is spending time with James learning at the fire station in Bismarck, she continues to study the guitar and also took horseback riding lessons this past fall. Peyton continues to be part of the praise band at church and practices her drums. Peyton is an avid reader, also. Reese started kindergarten at the home of a friend who is homeschooling her son. It is a good arrangement, plus she goes to Bismarck Grade School and participates in music and PE. Reese is highly social and enjoys all the time with friends she can get!

Now another Christmas and new year is upon us. I am excited for the holiday. While I love July 4th the best as family holidays go, Christmas Eve is a close second. I love the day with extended family at my parent's house. My Uncle John always reads the story of Jesus's birth from the Bible and we sing, laugh, eat and enjoy the time together. For those few hours, it is like my childhood is back and I relish it! This year, James does not have to work so we will complete our Christmas festivities all on the Eve with Christmas day being low key, with James working. Prayers for all Law Enforcement, EMS, Fire Departments, and hospital staff who must give of their holiday to be available for others. Also for their families who must be flexible.

I close with two of my favorite quotes from this time of year:
"And, lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them....Shazaaaaaammm!"
(Gladys Herman, The Worst (Best) Christmas Pageant Ever)

And in despair I bowed my head: 
"There is no peace on earth," I said, 
"For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor does He sleep,
For Christ is here; His Spirit near
Brings peace on earth, good will to men."

When men repent and turn from sin

The Prince of Peace then enters in,
And grace imparts within their hearts
His peace on earth, good will to men.

O soul amid earth's busy strife,

The Word of God is light and life:
Oh, hear HIs voice, make Him your choice,
Hail peace on earth, good will to men.
(I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day)