Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Fun and Festive December

This December has definitely been a fun and festive one for our family! Normally we don't get too crazy over the holidays, but this year we did a few things that we normally don't do. I have probably mentioned that Faith is in a homeschooling group called Inspire Collective. She has been having so much fun hanging out with other kids and becoming friends with some of the girls in her class. Four of these girls are involved in Northern Plains Dance and this year we were invited by one of the moms to come and check out their performance of the Nutcracker.

We had never actually seen the Nutcracker before and the three of us absolutely loved it! The music, the dancing, the acting, and the costumes all made it a really good production. I'm so thankful we were able to experience it. Who knows, it just might be a new tradition for us!

Faith waiting for the Nutcracker to begin
Having a fun time at the ballet!
The next weekend we had to get ready for the Inspire Christmas program. The kids did a rendition of a play called "The Reluctant Innkeeper" and the music teacher was kind enough to add in a part and a few lines just for Faith. She played the angel who said, "Fear not for I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto is born this day in Bethlehem, a savior who is Christ the Lord." Faith put a lot of time and energy into memorizing all the songs and not only her lines, but the lines of everyone else as well! One time after practicing at home, she yelled, "I am the greatest actress in the universe!"

In the days leading up to the program, she kept asking me if I was going to be on stage with her and I kept telling her no. Thankfully, one of her friends got to stand right next to her during the production so she was chosen to get Faith on the stage and make sure she was in the right place for her lines. Faith actually seemed very comfortable on stage and didn't seem nervous or anxious at all. She was mostly excited and had a lot of fun.

Faith was glad that her grandma and grandpa, along with her great aunt came to the program. Her grandparents and aunt from Canada were able to watch it online. Her grandmother said she watched it with "happy tears."

Some of the Inspire kids on stage
Faith in her angel costume
Faith was so glad Grandma and Grandpa came to her program!
 During our time at Inspire this year, I have loved watching Faith grow, mature, and become a little bit more independent. She has made some good friends and looks forward to going each and every week, even when she's really tired or not feeling the best.

After the program, Faith started a 3-week break from Inspire, which she was pretty sad about. She can't wait to get back to it. I for one am glad for the break however, especially in light of the below zero temperatures and all the windchill warnings that have been in effect. It's a good thing we have had some visitors that have helped to pass the time. One of her favorite visitors was the newest addition to our family!

Faith meeting her newest cousin, Malachi Daniel

Rob and Marla hanging out - she thought our remote was a phone!
Thankfully, it wasn't so cold on Christmas Eve, which is when we went to Grandma and Grandpa's. Three out of four of my siblings were there, along with most of Faith's cousins, and her three baby cousins. We didn't stay long but it was nice to see everyone, even if just for a little bit and to get some fun photos.

When we got home, Faith was excited to play with one of her Christmas gifts - the latest and greatest version of Wheel of Fortune on the PS4.
Parents and siblings, including Todd

The 3 of us at Grandma and Grandpa's on Christmas Eve
Faith with her little cousins
My niece Justine and great niece GracieLynn
Christmas Day was extremely cold so we stayed in and opened presents and had a nice dinner, which included a turkey breast, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans w/ feta and walnuts, and stuffing. We also had a nice conversation with our family in Canada.

Having fun with Faith

It just wouldn't be Christmas without a new Tim Horton's mug from Canada!

Last week, I got the chance to hang out with my sisters when we went out for lunch, and even though it was freezing cold outside, we braved the weather to make it to my niece's baby shower. It was a fun time of games, food, and lots of gifts for my great nephew who will be born any day now!

Sister time!
My sister and niece at the baby shower
Faith, Rob, and Malachi
Tonight as I type type this, it is New Year's Eve and once again we are experiencing frigid temperatures. Right now it is -16 degrees with a windchill of -31. Rob braved the temperatures to pick up Applebee's for our dinner and for the rest of the night we're going to be watching our new favorite TV show, Heartland along with Spider-man Homecoming.

It has certainly been a fun and festive December! We pray that everyone has a warm and safe New Year's as we say goodbye to one year and transition into the next.

Happy 2018!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cari Jean's Thankful List 2017

On Facebook this month, I did a #30DaysOfThankfulness and posted each day what I am thankful for. I wanted to compile my complete list in one spot - so here it is!

Day 1: I really am thankful that God took me, someone with a past of swearing, alcohol abuse, rebellion, and other types of sinful behavior, and made me into a new creation, which can only truly be done through JESUS!

Day 2: Thankful that even on more challenging days, there is always something to be thankful for, and today I'm thankful for chocolate!

Day 3: The first snowfall of the year always reminds me of this Bible verse. Thankful that all the promises in His word will come to pass.

Day 4: I watched a movie yesterday called The Last Face (it's a tough movie about the civil war that took place in Liberia). I found myself feeling more thankful than ever that we live where we do and that all of our basic needs get met each and every day. Not only does my family have a cozy apartment that shelters us from the cold and provides a peaceful place to sleep, but we always have food to eat for every meal, hot water whenever we need it, and transportation to get us where we need to go. It's easy to take those things for granted, but we need to remember that not everyone has some or all of these things.

Day 5: Today I'm thankful for knowing that when my time on Earth is up, I will get to spend eternity with Jesus. Praying for all those affected by the horrible tragedy in Texas.

Day 6: Thankful that I have a daughter who has the gift of encouragement. We have befriended an elderly widow in our building and every time Faith sees her, Faith has an encouraging word for her. It is definitely one of Faith's super powers!

Day 7: It has been a desire of our hearts for Faith to find a group of kids that she could comfortably socialize with and I am so thankful she has found that at Inspire Collective! Thank you so much Nicole Elliott and also her teachers, Melissa Hyatt, Beth Eidahl, Julie Hathaway, and all the other moms involved for doing this every week!

Day 8: I used to want to have a lot of friends but now I realize the quality of friendships is much more important than the quantity. So thankful for the few good friends I have that I can be completely honest with, laugh with, pray with, and cry with.

Day 9: I'm thankful for my marriage and that my husband is a prayer warrior who loves God's word and seeks His truth. I pray that God continues to use the two of us together to advance His Kingdom.

Day 10: Thankful that even though Faith has a bad cold and her back molars are making her feel even more miserable, she is still trying to maintain a positive attitude. Please say a prayer that she gets a good sleep tonight.

Day 11: Thankful for all those in the Armed Forces that have served or are serving in the military. Our nation is blessed to have the many freedoms that it does and much of it is thanks to our veterans and the sacrifices they have made.

Day 12: I'm truly thankful for the opportunity to gather with other believers and worship the King. There is nothing like His presence and it is always encouraging to hear so many amazing testimonies! Blessed beyond belief to serve such an amazing GOD!!!! 


Day 13: I am super thankful I have not caught Faith's cold (like her dad has). I'm doing everything in my power - including lots of prayer - not to get sick! 

Day 14: Sometimes I think it would be nice to have certain gifts, like the ability to sing, or to play an instrument really well. But then I realize I need to be thankful for the ones God has given me and that He wants me to use those particular gifts for His glory. So today I thank God for gifting me with the ability to write. I hope and pray that He allows me to minister and bless others through this gift He has given to me.

Day 15: Faith went to the dentist today and I'm very thankful she has such great teeth, not to mention a beautiful smile!

Day 16: I have to admit I don't rest very well - there is always something I "should be doing." But today I'm thankful that since wasn't feeling the best, I was able to do just that!

Day 17: Faith has had a lot of struggles with getting good sleep through the years so I am very thankful her sleep has greatly improved and now sometimes she'll sleep for 10 straight hours, which used to be unheard of for her. At one time she had memorized the following Bible verse and used to recite it before going to bed.

Day 18: Thankful for my husband and daughter supporting me in my freelance writing endeavors - especially in the midst of always helping me to meet my deadlines!

Day 19: I'm so thankful that God never fails to meet my needs. 

Day 20: Thankful that God sees me and all my struggles and that He's always just a prayer away.

Day 21: This is one of my favorite Bible verses and I'm so thankful, not just today but every day, for all the truths it contains.

Day 22: Even though it's definitely a challenge, I am thankful that we've decided to homeschool our daughter. It's just so awesome to see the progress she is making!

Day 23: Today and every day I'm thankful for my parents whose love and support throughout the years have meant the world to me. I'm blessed that they live so close and that we can go to their home for family gatherings to eat, laugh, relax, and just enjoy each others company. I'm also very thankful that each of them are in good health so that they can fully enjoy their grandchildren and great grandchildren! I pray God continues to bless them abundantly!

Day 24: Thankful to serve a God who can restore what has been broken and take what the enemy meant for bad and turn it into something good. 

Day 25: Every time I hear my daughter sing, I'm thankful. One of the reasons I'm so grateful is because at one time we weren't even sure she would be able to talk, let alone sing. We were told she would be nonverbal, but God had other plans! Hearing her sing (especially worship songs) truly fills my heart with joy!

Day 26: Feeling thankful to have such an amazing mother, father, and sister-in-law. They truly are treasures and I'm so glad to have such a wonderful relationship with each of them.

Day 27: It's never fun to go through tough situations or experience difficult challenges. That being said, I'm thankful that God does allow us to go through such things because sometimes it's the only way to become the person He has destined us to be and instill in us the qualities He desires for us to have.

Day 28: I'm thankful for good days (like today) when things are so peaceful and everything goes according to schedule.

Day 29: I am thankful for my husband and especially his words of affirmation and the encouragement he has given me through the years to pursue God's plan for my life. His prayers give me strength to continue to fight the many battles that have come our way and to never give up! 

Day 30: Ever since I was a baby diagnosed with a congenital heart defect I have had many people praying for me. I can honestly say that the prayers of those righteous men and women were effective! I am so thankful for the people that continue to pray for me, and also for my daughter.