"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017

I'm feeling tired tonight.


And happy.

Christmas began on Thursday when we celebrated with all our kids and grandkids.

Friday morning, bright and early, Sierra had her wisdom teeth pulled.

I got a cold/flu/fever virus sometime in the middle of all of that.

So, I played nurse for both Sierra and myself.

Christmas Eve my entire crew (minus Krissy's family) attended church together.  Oh, how peaceful and happy moments like that leave me. In the evening, Chad and the kids celebrated with the Hoff side of the family.  (I stayed home, trying not to share germs.)

Christmas Day we had a delicious brunch, hugged my momma, sister-in-law, and niece good bye as they flew away to Ethiopia, AND had the rest of the Flachs over for gifts and supper.

It has been a wonderful celebration.  Restful with soooo many movies!  Good food.  And delightful company.  Though I have not felt well, I have savored: the noise and laughter, the endless nerf gun wars between Jamison and Joshua, the snuggliest of snuggles from Mataya, and ALL the conversation that fills my home when all the kids are here.

These moments, exhausting though they are, fill up my soul.

Little Sophie-girl
Busy as he is, Wyatt is usually good for a quick hug and snuggle.

 My rule is NO gifts until I get a couple of group photos. (I learned this from my Grandma Regner.) This year I added to that rule, stipulating that Joshua had to smile.  It resulted in the best photos I have taken of this bunch in a few years.  

Above is our original 6.
 This one is all the "kids" although Ida is not quite official yet!

And yes!  Jamison is aware that we are ready for her to be an official family member.  His sisters definitely put on the heat! 
 Our whole crew!

Chad is not the easiest guy to help - but once again, Brenna figured out just what he needed.  They are a good team.  And we all enjoyed the cinnamon roll pancakes and sausage they prepared for breakfast on Christmas Eve!
 Post surgery cheeks!

Mataya looked through all the pink dresses on Kohl's website and chose this one.  Unfortunately there were not any shoes she approved of to go with it.  So - she wore her stinky summer shoes.  Mataya and socks and shoes are not friends!  She is our barefoot beauty.

 Before opening her stocking she chose to take a bath and enjoy a piece of Grandma Great Hoff's banana bread!  Paper tearing did not begin until after 8!

Grandma Regner always said that all little girls need a new baby doll on Christmas.  That is a tradition I intend to keep.  Both Sophia and Mataya received dollies from me this year, as they will until they are about 13.

She loved this cash register.  She played with it the entire day!
Their first Christmas together!

Most of us had chocolate dipped strawberries.  Mataya made a superb strawberry sculpture instead.

Our dear friend, Fran, joined us for brunch on Christmas morning.
At one point Sierra said,  "Why are those two ALWAYS cuddling?!?"

Because they can?

Don't you miss being young, in love, and not having dishes to wash?  (Or any of the other million and a half tasks that come with real adulting?  I do!)

 I just love him.
 Birthday cake for Baby Jesus like my Grandma Flach used to make.
He has not taken these off.  
He even slept in them.
Ice packs and cold cash from Grandma and Grandpa.

Pinochle party to end a very fun day.
Grandpa Scott loves pinochle and is doing his best to instill that love in a new generation.  I have no patience for that game, however Chad, Jamison, and Ida are catching the bug.  They played several times over break.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Is He REALLY Good?

Last weekend I was texting someone I love about a serious medical emergency she had witnessed.  Things ended happily, and her response was "God is good."

Which made my stomach ache.

You see, I struggle with that statement.

God is good.

Is He?  Or more like is He always good?

Sure, I see His goodness when things end happily.  In those moments when my children laugh, a medical test comes back negative, a car accident is not fatal, a bill is miraculously paid.

But how about those other moments. . .

When a mom in her prime is fighting for her life?

When the bills are not paid and there is no job in sight?

When a child is dying?

When an accident changes one's path forever?

In those moments, can I still raise my heart and say, "God is good."

I once watched a man I respect immensely sing that song, "God is good all the time. . ." as his first born was struggling for her life in an ICU room.  The memory is seared in my brain because my heart and my head just could not reconcile those words.  I remember standing in that sanctuary asking God to forgive me because I just could not understand.

Just this week, I was studying the book of Mark.  Mark 9:24 is one of my most frequently whispered prayers.  "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief."

I SO identify with the father in that story who is seeking the help of Jesus.  He knows Jesus can heal, but yet. . . 

That "but yet" is where I hover so often.

Jesus could BUT will He? 

Do I believe in Him enough to trust His decision even IF it is not the one I think is good, right, best?

In a commentary I read about the passage the author says, "I am still learning to trust God to define what is good for me."


Oh, me too!

Oh, Lord Jesus.  I believe.  Help me overcome my unbelief.  Help me to trust You to define what is GOOD.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Concert Ready

 It was one of those momma moments that take your breath away.

My Brenna-girl glided down the stairs looking so grown up, poised, and stunningly beautiful.

And I thought, "How does this happen?  I savor each stage.  Leave my house as rarely as possible. Live as fully present as I can.  All so I don't miss anything.  And STILL there are moments like these.  Moments when my children surprise me.  They are all of the sudden years older than my heart is ready for them to be.  And so incredibly beautiful."

In moments like that, I grab my camera.  

Oh, Brenna-girl.  What a joy you are.  On the night these pictures were taken, you sang in your first high school Christmas concert.  You were the only freshman girl to be featured in any way.  You sang in a trio with two young men during "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman."  You sang as beautifully and with as much poise as one would expect given your loveliness.  Many people told me what a good job you did as I left the concert hall.  And then we went to Wings and Rings with Grandma and Grandpa.  I soaked up every moment, knowing next year you will drive, which means the post concert treat will be with peers instead of with me.  You are a gift, precious daughter.  And although I make many mistakes as your mom, however, one thing I do right is taking joy in every moment.