Thursday, December 31, 2015

Our Family Christmas


After a whirlwind of Christmas festivities since early November, it was an appropriate conclusion to gather at our home in Nebraska for a weekend with the entire family. What a joy. 

Every year the family grows. Grandchildren add a new joy & excitement. Conversations deepen. 

We are so thankful! 


We kicked off the festivities by sharing our Christmas show in our hometown. The auditorium was packed to overflowing. It was especially meaningful to see so many dear friends who have literally watched our family grow. Many were babysitters during the early years. Or Sunday School teachers. Neighbors. Employers. Friends. 

People who have abundantly poured into our lives in a multitude of ways. 
It was an evening we will treasure for a long time. 


After the concert, Caden gave a short concert of his own.
The next generation of musicians has begun!


On Monday evening we had our Christmas feast -- after which, the men continued their annual tradition of caroling in harmonies while the ladies tidy the kitchen. 

What a treat to hear those rich, deep harmonies -- with the occasional creative percussion & accapella flair added for good measure!


We unofficially credited Elizabeth with the 'most creative gift-wrapping' prize this year. Her 3-part gift was made into the most adorable little snowman!


The tree, which stood between our kitchen & living room area.


We're looking forward to meeting our two new grand-babies in 2016!
Rachel @ 35 weeks
Abi @ 18 weeks


After a time of family sharing, it was time to open gifts. 

The youngest members of the family help Grandma pass out the gifts.



Andrew & Kori


Alan, Rachel, & Charissa


Alaythia, Susanna, & Stephen


The mass mayhem ensues! 


We need a sound-byte for this photo so you can hear all the squeals of delight!


Showing mommy new gifts.


I think they like this gift!?


Caden

'

Joanna


Elizabeth


Josiah & Abi


The gift of the night was Caden's own guitar. 

To say he was thrilled would be an understatement! 
Just look at that face.


He carried it around the entire night. 
And yes, even insisted on sleeping with it!


Getting pointers from Uncle Matthias.


Another fun tradition is unveiling our new individual photos. Every year Kori graciously does a photo-shoot of each family member to update our family legacy wall. She does such a great job!


Family: What a treasure. What a joy!

As we took turns sharing the Lord's work in our lives over the past year, we were humbled and amazed at His goodness. We miss the mark so many times. We have our struggles. We often need to ask forgiveness of each other. 

But God's Word gives Light! Hope! Victory over sin!

At the core, isn't that the wonder of Christmas? Jesus Christ, the Son of God, willingly coming to earth in the humblest of ways. Dying a torturous death on the cross, taking our sins upon Himself. Rising with power to forgive our sins and to give us HIS righteousness that we might live in newness of life. 

This is the Christmas story. This is the heartbeat which impacts our lives each and every day. 

Thank you, Jesus! 

“For God so loved the world 
that He gave His only begotten Son,
 that whoever believes in Him 
should not perish 
but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!


...from our family to yours! 

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, 
and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, 
and laid Him in a manger, 
because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:7

Friday, December 18, 2015

Goodbye Branson


The lights have dimmed. The stage is cleared.

The costumes, CDs, props, and signage are packed up.

Yes, the curtain has fallen on Branson 2015. The anticipation and hard work has faded into wonderment and gratitude as we saw the Lord's hand opening doors as only HE can do. It's hard to believe the seven weeks of intensive Christmas music is in the books. We're left amazed.

After our final show, we packed up and said our goodbyes until next year.

Thank you all for your prayers as you joined us on this journey!

Here are a few, random shots from our life in the Branson cabin:


The younger ones had to be very diligent to stay on track with their studies.


Mother/daughter devotion time. 


Finding time to un-wind: needlework and replacing instrument strings.


A bird's-eye view of our busy kitchen


We're so thankful for this cabin: it may be small, but it's such a blessing to have a real kitchen...laundry area...and, you get the idea! 


Mealtimes


Each opportunity to share was an opportunity to be stretched. To grow.

To reflect on the timeless message of our Savior's birth. 
O come, let us adore Him!


Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father, 
Now in flesh appearing!
- John F Wade

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Butterfly Palace



The wonder of little things. 

As seen through the eyes of little people. 

The discovery. The excitement. The awe. 

I'm amazed at how easily I can dismiss the every-day miracles all around me. The incredible complexity and beauty of God's creation. 

Then a child enters the scene and suddenly the world is bathed in amazement, color, and laughter!   Their eyes light up and their minds overflow with questions. They eagerly reach out to touch, taste, listen, and fully soak in the wonders around them. 

How much I can learn from their simple, infectious joy!



Last week we had a visit from Bethany's family. Getting to explore Branson with her little people, Arianna & Caden, was a genuine treat. We paid a visit to the Butterfly Palace here and Bethany captured some of their playful discoveries:




I can SEE you!


The aunts enjoyed getting in on the action with safari-fashion.


Arianna was quite enamored with her binoculars.


So many butterflies!


How does this thing work??


Up close & personal with these beauties. 



Getting some help from Grandma. 


Notice the stunning detail of those wings!


Charissa & Arianna with their new 'friends'.



Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods?

Who is like You, glorious in holiness,



Fearful in praises, 

doing wonders?
Exodus 15:11

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The First Snow


Does your family have well-beloved traditions? 

One of our favorites involves the first snow of the season. Growing up, we'd eagerly watch the forecast. We'd watch out the window hoping for snow flurries thick enough to guarantee us the delicious treat of the year. 

Donuts. 

The first snow of the season is always heralded with a large batch of mouth-watering, glazed, homemade donuts. Can't you just taste them, melting in your mouth?! 

This year the first snow occurred in Branson while Josiah & Andrew's families were visiting us. The more, the merrier?! Once Mom agreed that the snow was heavy enough to be dubbed our official 'first snow', the production began in full force! 

Mmmmmmm! 



Joanna tried making donut snowmen out of the dough.



Glazing the 'holes'


Taste, anyone?!