Saturday, December 15, 2012

service, the greatest Christmas gift

On a daily basis, I am blown away and inspired by the service and love of friends and family our life.  I want to be more like them. Weather it be a phone call, a dinner, or simple acts of love like, "Hey, want to hang out today?!" or "Can I watch your kid?"  They all mean the world to me.  Usually, it is the simple things that do.

But this week was different, we had opportunities to serve those we love and even those we dont know.  I had been praying for some way to love more, and wow, the Lord really answers prayers.  I learned that both serving and being served bring the most incredible blessings.

It may sound funny, but I was asked to watch several of my friend's kids this week.  It really meant so much that first, they would ask, and second, how it really blessed my life by having these sweet kiddos in our home.  We had those most adorable little boy over so his mom could go to the doctors.  Not only was Jake thrilled to have a friend come play, it made the morning go so much smoother, and this little boy taught me how important friends are to everyone.  He also is seriously the sweetest boy.

We were also able to shop for families in need. My husband's work found several families that needed some extra love this Christmas and they all pitched in to help. Andy sent me an email that we were to shop for a mom and a son in one family.  We received the allotted donations from my husband's employees, and I went to the store to shop for them.  We were able to fulfill their whole list with the donations given.  I again was blown away at the selfless kindness of those that shared some of their means. I can just imagine this sweet little boy opening presents on Christmas day.  I also wonder if he ever thought he might not receive any, but how delighted he will be to find some great toys.  It was so fun shopping for them. I know it isnt toys or things that are important at Christmas, but as a child a toy can really mean the world.  I hope it does for these deserving families. 

Today, however, my husband really just blew me away.  He spent the whole day in the service of others.  We have a family member in need this holiday season, and as we received a list of what gifts we could provide for the darling children, we were so excited to get things for them. We had planned on going shopping sometime today, but our day was seriously jam packed with many MANY things.  The first on my husband's list was going to Camp Williams (his old Marine Corps Base) and helping out with the Toys for Tots program.  His old Marine buddy called and said they had so many toys and needed help sorting them out.  I wish I could have seen it, but Andy said the whole drill hall was stock full of incredible toys.  While he was matching toys to families, the woman in charge told them if they had any families in need, that they could grab a bag and fill them with toys.  They had been given so many toys this year that they had enough toys to share.  Andy brought home the biggest smile and a HUGE black bag of toys for his family members.  My heart was seriously full that while he was serving others, he too was able to receive service.  What a beautiful Christmas blessing.

We spent the rest of the day cleaning his sister's apartment and helping them move.  I just reflected on all the time they have served us and I wanted to help them so much.  Jake was such a good boy while we all scurried about cleaning and he remained happy and joyful.  I was so thankful for that and that we could help them.  I will miss them.

My heart is full of love and full of gratitude that this Christmas, as we serve and are served we can all be reminded of our Savior, who gave his love and his life in service to us.  Christmas time just really makes it special because there is always someone who needs a little more love this season.  I am thankful for all our friends and family who serve us in countless ways. I hope only that I can be more like them!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tis the Season

We have taken full advantage of this holiday season and not wasted on minute.  We've had work parties, and family parties, and drives through the lights, time playing in the snow, and lots of time trying to look at the sights.  Here are just a few pictures of our holiday adventures with more to come!

Oklahoma Thanksgiving

I thought I would catch up on Thanksgiving this year before I wrote about December.  We spent several wonderful days in Oklahoma with my family.  Jake was deliriously happy in the airport on the way there.  He kept saying "Weeeee weeee" as we walked around and he ran so hard that when we got on the airplane he was tired and content to just sit.  Thank heavens!

The weather was so beautiful we were able to go to the park each day, and Jake really interacted with his cousins and laughed and played so hard.  They are so sweet and played with him so well.  He was so sad when we left, that the next day after we got home he kept calling out for Kate and Chase.

My parents seriously planned it right.  They did Thanksgiving and Christmas in 4 days.  We had a turkey on Thanksgiving and a ham for "Christmas" on Saturday.  It was actually super low key and not stressful and it was all the master planning of my terrific mom.  She organized each day and what we would eat, and we all pitched in the help.  My dad is on a quest to find the perfect croissant recipe, and being the scientist he is, he created two mad recipes, each with their own bonus...still he is searching for that perfect one.

Thanksgiving morning, we were running the Edmond Turkey Trot, a Turkey day tradition in my family.  We actually didnt wake up until 30 minutes before the race so we speedily jumped in our clothes and I ran in to wake up mom and dad who were sleeping so soundly I felt bad for waking them (They work super hard 24/7 so I dont blame them).  We literally got in the car and my mom and dad dropped us off at the starting line right when they shot the gun.  Andy and I ran RIGHT into the race, and ran we did! We finished super fast and I nearly threw up, but that is because my super athletic brother, who started minutes after we did while pushing a stroller caught up to us.  It was chaos at the end.  I saw my mom and dad and Jake screaming us on and then my dad said, "Uh Oh Stacey Chris is right behind you!" NOOOOoooway! Then I took off as he ran with his three kids, stroller at my heels.  Andy was so confused cause he didnt hear my dad say anything and wondered why I took off.  We all just started darting in and out of people sprinting to the end.  It was a great way to start the day, and yes, Chris beat me, three kids in the stroller and all.  I guess being 6'3" with zero body fat can allow you that kind of athletic advantage.

We took family pictures in our traditional matching shirts that my mom designed and Christine created.  What a fun idea!

We had a beautiful dinner and ate and laughed, then walked to the park and let the kids play until the sun went down.  It was a beautiful sunset.

During our visit, I was able to go to lunch with my dear friend Kristen at our favorite chic cafe, Cafe 501 and we caught up and strolled around the shoe shop next door.  It is always nice to see my dear friend. Andy was able to take in some flight lessons and sadly, he worked A TON, but a least he was still there with us.  We loved having him near.

We also helped Chris find a deer he had shot with his compound bow.  Mom gave Jake some cheetos, so he sat in the middle of the field eating cheetos while we scavenged about. We found it, and he rejoiced in his hunt for the redneck of us.

We woke up on Saturday with a Christmas tree and presents.  My mom worked super hard to get it all ready and it was magical.  The kids were so patient as we waited for Jake and baby Maddie to wake up for a nap, and the giggles and laughter when it was time to open presents was so fun! Jake was so excited I could hardly stand it.  Christmas is all about the kids now.  Forget presents for me, I just want to see the kids open them!  We loved every minute of being there, and I loved that Jake received his first pair of cowboy boots.  They are beyond cute and tiny.  They are still too big for him, but I cant wait till his toes can fit in them! They will be adorable!

We headed home on Sunday with love and joy that we could be together as a family, one of the greatest gifts and blessings of all!My dear niece, Kate, had tears streaming down her face as we left and it was really hard to leave her like that.  She always asks me for my "lip pretty" at home, so I gave her my lipstick cause I could hardly stand seeing her cry.  She is such a tender darling little girl and is starting to really understand emotions.  I guess she cried and cried before church on Sunday cause she knew we were leaving and she wouldnt eat breakfast.  Then while we ate our lunch, she wouldnt touch that and cried as we left.  I wont ever forget it.  I love my family and sweet Kate.