It's hard to believe another year has drawn to a close. It was a year full of many blessings, both great and small. Here are a few of the gifts that highlighted our year together...
The gift of finishing school-we graduated our first student from homeschool! I remember when I first started teaching at home, highschool graduation seemed so far away. Now looking back, the years went by oh so quickly. I used to stress out about scope and sequence and making sure they learned everything they needed to know. I have learned that our children will fill in those gaps- and usually pass us by in the process!
Laina worked for a while and stopped at the end of the summer to do some traveling. She especially enjoyed a trip back to Montana to visit friends and decided she still really likes it there. She continues to work on her writing, is a HUGE help at home, works at times with her dad in construction (hey, she'll be well-rounded!) and is seeking God's direction for her future.
The gift of marriage.This past year also marked our 20 year anniversary. Twenty years later, and I still love his rugged hands that work so tirelessly to provide for our family, the smell of wood shavings on his clothes, the comfort of his deep blue eyes, and how he wears his cowboy boots with everything. Twenty years of making 11 houses a home together, plus one on wheels for much longer than we thought we could ever endure. Twenty years together experiencing the excitement of 9 pregnancies, 10 births and learning this thing called parenting. Twenty years with times of prosperity as well as many days of wondering how we were going to pay the bills. Twenty years with times of indecision, heartache, broken relationships, long days, sleepless nights and tear-filled moments. But scattered throughout are the many blessings of encouragement, love, true friends and treasured memories that keep us going.Twenty years of growing in the Lord together and learning to stand on our convictions. Twenty years of praying for wisdom and striving to serve the Lord in our lives together, despite our many flaws and imperfections. After all of these years, there isn't any other person on earth I would rather be with!
The gift of children. I never would have thought 20 years ago that we would have a large family. In fact, I probably would have run the other way if someone had told me that I would have 10 children! God certainly has changed my heart and I continue to be amazed at these incredible children he has blessed us with- all so very different and unique. We love to watch them grow up into who God is calling them to be and to see their different talents emerging...What a privilege to be their parents!
The gift of growth. We love to see each of our children grow physically and spiritually. We are especially encouraged by the growth we have seen in our daughter, Eva. After attending Brain Balance for a few weeks and doing therapy with her at home for that same duration, we are seeing a lot of positive changes already. The most encouraging one is that she is finally praying on her own! We daily pray as a family around the room. With the little ones we have them repeat sentences until they can verbalize their own prayer. All of our children can pray on their own by age 3. Eva has wanted to pray but has been unable to verbalize her own prayers even though she recently turned 5. A few weeks ago she said she wanted to pray and to my utter amazement she quietly spoke a sincere prayer from the bottom of her heart. Her eyes sparkled with her accomplishment, and this mama's eyes were sparkling with tears! We are trusting the Lord has great things in store for this little girl so full of life (and mischief)!
The gift of grandparents. After many years of living away from family, our children LOVE spending time with their grandparents on a regular basis. During the school year my parents take turns having the grandchildren over one day a week. The girls enjoy arts & crafts, like knitting and card making, while the boys work on various projects as well. In the summer we enjoy their community pool with the cousins.
My mom has a room dedicated for card making and my girls love to make cards with her. Here are a few of the cards they made...
Haven LOVES to swim. Even now that it is winter time, she still asks to go to the pool!
Cort bought a Miata this past year, and here Opa and Oma are enjoying a drive around the block!
This month our boys also had the privilege to go to Florida with Opa (grandpa). My mom decided that she has done enough traveling for a while and encouraged my dad to take some of the grandkids instead. No having to coax any of them- they were ecstatic! They enjoyed Epcot, Cape Canaveral, Sea World, an amusement park, swimming and going out to eat everyday, which is a rare treat for them. Luke and Edmond decided they wouldn't mind moving to Orlando, but Cort was ready to come home and get back to work :)
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies