Monthly Archives: December 2011

Our Christmas Card

Each year as Christmas cards with letters attached come in from friends and family, updating us on what has happened in their lives in the past year, we think maybe we should send a letter out ourselves. And each year, we decide that no one would really be interested anyway. The people that care already know.

This year, I decided maybe people do care and are interested, but instead of mailing them, I would post it here and people will be free to read as they wish, but don’t need to feel obligated.

So, here it goes..

2011, sped by at record high pace. As the children get older, we get busier and life seems to whirl around us…but I wouldn’t want to miss a second of it.

Hunter started the beginning of the year as Farm Manager for an onion farm, Bland Farms, NY. The company is based out of Georgia, but has a farm here in Cato. It has been great to have his job so close to home. He has worked hard this year to continue providing for our family, so that I am able to stay home and tend to the kids and the house. His heart’s desire is to have his own farming operation. This year he was able to rent some land and plant soy beans. The crop wasn’t looking good to start with, but by harvest time we had a good yield. This coming year he is hoping to expand it some more and the goal is that in the next two years he will not need to have a traditional job at all. Last week, he was very unexpectedly laid off from work until April. Please pray that God will continue to guide us and give us wisdom and direction in the next several months and that Hunter will have a special kind of peace with these new circumstances.

I continue to stay busy at home. Whether it be laundry, dishes, or vacuuming, there is always something to do. I volunteer several days a week at school. I enjoy being able to help out in the classrooms. And of course, what mom doesn’t have her own taxi service. Carting the kids here and there is a full time job in itself. Most days I love my job, but you will find the occasional day when I feel overwhelmed with it all.

Justin will be turning 14 in February. He is in 8th grade, his last year in middle school. He is growing into an amazing young man. He loves sports and seems to have natural talent. In the spring he ran track, and he enjoyed his last year of modified football in the fall. He just ended a basketball season and wrestling starts soon, along with another basketball league. He is quite the athlete! He started taking guitar lessons in the spring. He is really enjoying it and is learning quickly. He is hoping to play in the worship band at church after the new year. I think his favorite thing by far though, is helping his dad with the farming. He is really enjoying the time that they have gotten to spend together on this new endeavor. Over the summer, he was lucky enough to be able to spend some time in Virginia at Grandpa and Grandma Cook’s home. He had a good time helping out on the farm and spending time with his grandparents, whom he doesn’t get to see often. Justin has a big heart for others, I am so proud of the young man he is becoming!

Darren is 12 and in 7th grade. He has awesome leadership skills and is very strong academically. He maintains high honor roll status every marking period, with little effort. He also enjoys sports, though for him it’s more a mind game than a physical strength. He does well at anything he sets his mind to. In the spring he played Little League, which he loves. He played football in the fall also. He was able to play as quarterback, which he was very excited about. He played on the 7th grade modified basketball team and played really well for his first year. He too, will be wrestling and playing in another basketball league. Art is one of his favorite past times. He is neat and tidy and a great organizer. I have no idea where he gets that from! Darren has been blessed the past two summers to spend some time in Baltimore with his great-uncle and aunt, Mark and Linda Cook. They were kind enough to host him and take him to camp. That has been a great experience for him!

Garrett is 9 and in 4th grade. This is his last year before moving up to middle school. Garrett continues to surprise me with his witty humor. He is very strong academically. He enjoys history and science and also enjoys reading. He is on an Odyssey of the Minds team for the second year now. He is great at abstract thinking, which I’m pretty sure he gets from his dad, because I’m definitely stuck in a box. He is a sweet and sensitive guy, who has a big heart for others. He tries hard to keep up with his brothers. Physically, he doesn’t stand a chance, but mentally he can give them a run for their money. Garrett isn’t as fond of sports, but he did play Little League in the spring and is improving each year. He was also able to spend some time in Virginia with Grandpa and Grandma over the summer. He was excited to help Grandpa milk.

Taylor is 8 and in 3rd grade. She loves anything girly, yet isn’t afraid to catch frogs and dig for worms with her brothers. She does her best to keep the boys in line. She played softball for Little League in the spring and did very well. She really enjoyed it! This year she is also part of an Odyssey of the Minds team. She is shy and quiet, but has some good ideas if we can get her to open up a little bit. She is very strong-willed at home, yet quite reserved everywhere else. She is my special girl!

Ryan is 7 and in 2nd grade. He is full of energy and life. He chose to play soccer in the spring, but was one of the oldest kids in the league and tended to run circles around the other kids. I can see that he will be quite the athlete when he gets older. He was able to go spend part of the summer in Baltimore with Darren this year also. He was a little homesick to start, but that soon wore off and he had a great time at camp. He enjoys playing games and building legos. He also collects baseball cards, which is one of his favorite things. He would love to play many more sports, but we will not allow him to until he is a little older. I’m trying to hard to slow down the growing process, but it hasn’t worked so far.

As we head forward to 2012, with the new circumstances with Hunter’s job, we are forced to have a new dependence on God. In areas of our lives that we try to control ourselves, we will undoubtedly have to lean on Him. I often say that Hunter is the sole provider for our family, but in reality God is the provider of all. Pray that we learn to depend on Him for all of our needs and that we find new strength in Him. Please, pray God’s peace and wisdom in our lives and for continuing growth and knowledge in His Word.

May the new year bring you a new-found peace and hope in Him.

The following video is our year in photos…


Update on our Giving

We were able to buy gifts for Golisano’s Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. The kids had a great time choosing gifts. We allotted them a certain amount of money and let them choose the gifts. They really enjoyed it! It was great to see the thought that they put into their choices. We delivered the gifts to the hospital a week before Christmas. We weren’t able to give them directly to the kids, which we understood before we began. All in all, it was a great experience for the family to be able to give to others in that way.

The Heart of a Child

It never fails, every year at Christmastime, I am humbled by my children. I know some people get tired of hearing mothers “brag” about their kids, but there are definitely times when we are entitled to bragging rights, and I feel this is one of them.

Each year, when I request Christmas lists from my kids, I am blessed by their precious little hearts.

Here are the lists I received this year – word for word.

    Taylor’s Christmas List

0 CDs Kids Worship
1 Radio that works with CDs
2 Sneakers (hers are worn out)
3 Stroller for my baby dolls
4 To Obey

And to
nice, kind and most important one is number 4 to obey. Please help me with that. Love,Tay

    Ryan’s Christmas List

Lego City things
Bey Blades
Baseball Cards

    Garrett’s List

sleeping bag
alarm clock

When I received Garrett’s list, I said ” Hey bud, you have pillows, a sleeping bag and lots of blankets, why are they on your list?” His reply was “Yeah, I don’t really need anything, but an alarm clock.”

    Darren’s List

1 Capo
2 music stand
3 mp3 player ( note he didn’t ask for an iPod)
4 Hunter’s safety course with Dad

    Justin’s list

new drawstring backpack
paint ball/air soft stuff

As the kids get older, their lists tend to get more complicated and pricey. I am so proud of my two older boys. Justin and Darren are highly deprived compared to today’s “normal” middle schoolers, or so the world would say. They don’t have cell phones, iPods, laptops or any of the things most kids have today. They don’t have an xbox, a Playstation and a ds. We don’t have TV. They don’t spend hours playing video games or texting friends. Although they would like to have some of these things, they are respectful of our decisions and appreciate and understand the reasons we don’t allow them to have everything their little hearts desire.

If you read my blog “Giving and Thanksgiving”, you know that we received an unexpected check in the mail last week and are planning to give it away. With everything that was in me, I did NOT want to let go of it. When we talked to the kids about this money, I told them how difficult it was for me to accept that God wanted us to give this money away. It is a great learning moment when kids see that their parents are imperfect and they can confess their shortcomings and struggles. We asked them if they had some ideas of what we should do with the money, and they did. They came up with two ideas. One was take gifts to a nursing home, the other was a children’s hospital. We didn’t mention either of these, they came up with them on their own. What big hearts they have!! In the end, they decided that they would like to buy gifts for the kids at the hospital. I have called twice, but haven’t gotten any response. I’m hoping this will work out. I know it will bless their hearts. I’m so proud of my amazing children and their desire to help others!

We as parents are supposed to be teaching our children, but so often, I learn from them. We have set guidelines for our children and expect them to abide by them, however many times, we don’t live up to these expectations ourselves. Example: I don’t like the kids to listen to secular music. I believe it fills their heads with garbage, yet there are times when the kids aren’t around and I turn the radio to a secular station. Do I think that I am somehow above the negative influence of secular music? Of course not! Why then, do I do this? Why would I watch a movie that I don’t want my 13-year-old to watch? Do I feel I am above being influenced by secular culture? Do I put others before myself, others outside of my family?

Let’s humble ourselves before our children and before God. Mark 10:15 says “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

God, soften my heart and open eyes. I long to have a child-like faith. Thank you so much for blessing me with five wonderful children. I give them all to you. Continue to fill their hearts with a strong love and compassion for others and a desire to be kingdom builders. I know You have great things in store for them. Give me strength and wisdom as I raise them for You!! Each day is a new challenge. Give me courage to rise above the day-to-day battles and overcome the challenges you have set before me. Give me a contented heart so that I may have true joy in this life You have given me.

December Resolutions

Family: Pursue Peace

☐ Remember I love them and they are mine.
☐ Remember they love me.
☐ Show them my love.
☐ Let it go.
☐ Don’t harbor hurt feelings.
☐ Touch base once a week.
☐ Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11

Occasionally we have moments when we don’t want to claim our family. There is something they do that embarrasses us and we would rather not be associated with them. This month my resolution is to focus on the good qualities and attributes of my family, from my grandma all the way to my kids. Occasionally we need to remind ourselves why we love them. For this reason, my first resolution is to remember I love them and they are mine.

The people we love the most are the ones that hurt us most and vice versa. Not they we intentionally hurt each other, but when someone you love disappoints you, it hurts. If a friend or acquaintance disappoints us, it’s much easier to let it go because we don’t have as much invested in that relationship. When family members hurt us, it’s easy to feel unloved regardless of the fact that we KNOW they love us. My second resolution is to remember they love me.

Often we think of how we want others to treat us and have high expectations for others and yet don’t hold ourselves to the same standard. Resolution three is to show my love.

Resolutions four and five go hand in hand. Let it go and don’t harbor hurt feelings. This is not easy. When someone hurts you it’s hard to let it go and it’s even harder to leave it there. We tend to hold on to things. Even if we have apparently forgiven someone for hurting us, it’s easy down the road to pull that back out and dwell on it. This month I want to examine my heart and ensure that I am not harboring past hurts and that I really let them go for good.

I am embarrassed to say that I have gone months at a time without talking to my brothers or having any contact at all. To maintain my innocence I acknowledge that they don’t call me either, so I shouldn’t feel bad. In the end, I still end up feeling guilty. Touching base once a week will allow me to build stronger relationships with my family.

It’s easy to allow little things to hinder a relationship. It’s hard to let go of hurt feelings. This month my resolutions are meant to remind me to encourage and build up my family. Friends come and go, but your family is yours for life.