Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful Tree

A crinkly brown paper tree is still adorning one of the doors in our house, reminding us with hand-shaped leaves, the many things we are thankful for!  Keeping things really simple, I explained to Grace Louise that Thanksgiving was a time to tell God "Thank You!" for the things we like or need.  I mentioned the pilgrims, indians, mayflower, and turkeys, but I don't think she was able to put all that together just yet!  Keeping the main thing the main thing, she did get the idea of thankfulness. And for that I'm... well, thankful!  A few things that made her list this year? The sky, SCOBY (that makes our Kombucha tea which we love so much), her parents, Play-do, food, and her toys.  

We spent Thanksgiving afternoon visiting Jimmy's family and enjoying this beautiful fall weather!  We took our annual Hurst family photo and captured a few other fun moments too!  Then it was hurry back to put a turkey in the oven and one in the fryer! We hosted my family and a few special friends for dinner that evening.

See last year's photo here, and the year before here, and the year before that here
Bittersweet to see our family change and grow.

 I love this picture! So genuine. These two have lots of love for each other!

 Jr., III, and IV

Hurst Boys!

 Ring around the rosie (I'm sure this was Grace Louise's idea... one of her favorites!)

And we all fall down!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Strider Biking

Enjoying this Thanksgiving weekend with family- a little hunting, a little football, a little outside play time with our girl. She's improving on her strider bike, picking up her feet and exploring her balance more and more. We took her to a hill in our neighborhood this morning. "I think I can handle it," she said taking off. "You think you can?" I asked. She shrugged. "I don't know... We'll see." Little turkey!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cinderella gets saved!

Playing paper dolls with Grace Louise this morning has been magical! I love seeing her imagination at work!

"All have sinned and fall short, love Cinderella."

I could not believe my ears. Well, at least she knows her Bible verse! And even princesses need Jesus!

"All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Play time!

Saturday mom and I took the kids to Common Ground park in Lakeland for a birthday party.  Grace Louise was thrilled about playing and equally thrilled about singing Happy Birthday to our friend!  The last time we came to this park, Grace Louise was almost a year old.  Two years later, this big three year old is running and exploring at WIDE open speed!

 Jamesy's first slide!

Stopping to smell the roses.


Oh so thankful for this.

Like many families I know, we long to make the most of holidays like Thanksgiving, pondering what we can do with our kids to really drive the meaningful points home.  We created a Thankful Tree and have been adding leaves of thankfulness, "Grace Louise, what do you want to thank God for today?" I've also been reading friends' daily Thankfulness posts on Facebook and agreeing in gratefulness on many of the same blessings- family, freedom, faith, food (randomly starting with F).

I got a phone call from an old friend last week.  Hearing her voice and sweet words of encouragement reminded me of former seasons of life and just how God has lavished His love and grace undeservingly upon my life.  Suddenly, I'm overwhelmed with thankfulness not only for this love and grace directly from the Father, but also through friends and people I have connected with along the course of life.  Tears streaming.

God, that you would be so involved in every turn of life, placing people and experiences exactly where they should be.  For your glory, not mine.  My deepest gratefulness right now is for this.

Thank you, Lord for opening my eyes to the blessing of your divine sovereignty.  For reminding me that you are mindful of me and, despite myself, desire to use my life for your greater purposes.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sweet Smiling Boy

This big hunk of baby sweet meat is 3 months old today!  

I pour my heart out to my babies in letters several times a year and last night was my first time writing to James H. since he has been earthside.  I love getting to know him more everyday.

My sweet Jamesy boy!  I am thoroughly loving my time with you.  I gaze at your sweet face so many times a day and think, “Can I just breath him in?  Take a little bite? Somehow get even closer than skin?” 

You have a tiny mouth, but a huge grin! Dimples. Dimples. Dimples. Pretty blue eyes and daintily curled lashes.  You love to hold my hand, especially when you are sleepy... I bring your hand to my lips a hundred times a day, kissing and smelling, just drinking you in.  You love mama’s milk, think Sissy is funny, and alas, have almost grown too big for her to hold.

You are getting stronger, pushing yourself up with your legs.  A backbend already?  You take a binky, sucking, looking like a little rabbit with a twidgeting nose...You have the sweetest little feet, snore a bit and have a raspy ninny breath.

You are a sport, tagging along wherever we go, though you aren’t fond of the car seat.  “Num Num Num” and my reached-back arm coming from the front seat.  Anything to keep you happy for the ride.  What can I say, you prefer to be next to mommy, snuggled warm and sweet.

Your funny giggle makes us smile.  “Ticky Ticky” on your ribcage almost always gets a chuckle, although the past few days you’re finding humor in mommy’s silly sayings… "aaaachooo!"  "Hey there monkey boy!"  Oh yes, and when mommy gets your neck meat. 

Sissy said it best, bidding you Good Nite all on her own.  “I love you Bubby.  To the moon and back.  As deep as the river.  Forever and ever.” 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Renaissance Faire

One of the joys of our homeschool group is the organization of great field trips!  We recently drove to Tavares for the Renaissance Faire.  Grace Louise wore a dress reminiscent of the medieval times, brown and turquoise with ruffles and bell sleeves and even had her first taste of cream soda!  Full metal jousting, horseback riding, sword fighting, and magicians were among our favorite events!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Third Birthday Slideshow

The past two birthdays I've put together a video slideshow of pictures capturing highlights of our year.  I forgot to show the DVD to our party guests on Saturday like I intended.  So here it is!  Happy Birthday Darling Grace Louise.  We love having you in our lives!

Our Birthday Princess is 3!!!

This post deserves some effort because we just had the princess party of the year!  

Even though her mind changed several times during the planning process (to Barney, Dora, and then Hello Kitty- where did that come from?!) Grace Louise's first request was a Princess themed birthday.  Keeping with the theme we treated our birthday girl to dinner at Jay Bee's on Thursday night.  (Isn't that where royalty dine?)

Friday night some special guests arrived bearing many gifts in perfectly blue and shimmery Cinderella wrapping paper.  Hmmm... wonder what that could be? The fairy godmother and her little mouse helper, ahem, CaCa and Rachel, provided this little princess with the movie and every piece of Cinderella's ensemble. Dress, crown, jewelry, gloves, shoes, and even birthday eve pajamas with matching satin tutu!  And the most special gift of all, a Cinderella doll set. [See the unveiling (and naming) in the video post below].

Saturday morning our princess awoke, bright and early as usual, and dressed for her guests.  Just look at her... (can you tell she was really celebrated?!)

We eagerly awaited the arrival of Princes, Princesses, Queens, and Kings from all around (cousins, a few friends, and their parents).

 The Princess and Fairy Godmother

The Princess and the Queen

Two (armed) princesses and a pirate!  Argggh, matey!

Anyone who knows our little girl, knows how much she loves singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles.  She often has pretend birthday parties just so we can all gather around and sing her beloved song.  Here she is singing to herself (along with others) and blowing out the candle on her precious princess cake.  

Everyone had a ball!  There was a tea party, sandcastles, pinata, crown decorating, wagon rides, water gun battles (per the Princess' request), and a surprise visit from a darling pony, fit only for a princess!

(Play baseball much?)

 What's that coming around the corner???
"Can I keep it?"

 Princess Grace Louise leads Princess Addi Fann

 Feeding Pretty Boy a carrot

This party was too much fun!  Guests of the royal family really showed up in making this a special day.  Thank you for celebrating our girl with us! 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Fun (never thought I'd say that!)

Well, maybe that's a bit misleading... I had tons of fun dressing up and trick or treating as a kid.  Except for this one year... I was convinced that trick or treating was the devil! and launched an anti-trick or treating campaign in the 5th grade.  At least one of my friends skipped out on the previously adored tradition, (so sorry, Brook) and I myself fell victim to peer pressure.  I couldn't resist the call of candy.  So sad.   

The reason for my Halloween abstinence as an adult is not so legalistic.  My understanding of grace and freedom in Christ allows me to see this and similar issues in a different light.  Unlike the Pharisees who erred in creating laws upon laws to help them obey laws, Christ desires for us to walk in freedom, obeying His word and loving people, not spending our time creating blanket rules. In Christ, in certain areas, we are free to embrace and free to restrain.  Romans 14:1-23

Halloween has an interesting history, although most people who participate in the holiday enjoy the commercialized candy and costume-centered version (which is way better than the appease-the-evil-spirits-by-setting-out-treats version).  Nonetheless, the "scariest" part of Halloween, in my opinion, is desensitizing people to the spirit realm.  

With an opportunity to serve in the Lake Wales neighborhood that arguably gets the most trick-or-treaters, Jimmy and I decided to get our heads out of the sand and give coffee, bottled water, hot chocolate, cookies, and of course, candy... all in the name of Jesus.  It was for His glory that we would love on people, be nice to their kids, offer them bug spray, give them yummy treats, and invite them to church.  And we had a blast doing it!  

Grace Louise, wearing a last minute Micky Mouse costume, served with a loving heart.  We protected her from the spirit of fear and reminded her frequently of our mission to serve and love.  

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. 
-Colossians 3:1-2 (MSG)