Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jesus came to save us. He died but at the same time He conquered death. He put an end to what we fear so much. He took it on and conquered it. So be of good heart, my friends. What has already taken place in Jesus will also take place in us. Listen to those who have triumphed and now live where death is no more. Hear Paul saying, "When what is mortal has been clothed in what is immortal and when that which will die has been clothed with that which cannot die, then the Scripture will come true: 'Death is destroyed; victory is complete! Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?'"
St. Augustine

Please continue to lift the Davis family up in your prayers.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Our dear friends called us last night to let us know that their father had suffered from a heart attack and they weren't sure if he was going to live through the next hour. After much prayer and reflection, we quietly sat in our living room waiting word from the Davis' in California. The doctors were able to stabilize him, but last we heard, he was still unresponsive. Please keep their whole family in your prayers, that Mr. Davis might be completely restored and that the infinite grace and peace of our God would surround their family right now.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

"In Christ Alone" by Stuart Townsend

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Well, in Texas, people would be getting their Spring plans out, making lists of items to put in their garden come March. Well, here...we can plant things in pots!!!! I was in the waiting room at the doctors office the other day waiting for Caleb's appointment to finish up, so I read the Better Homes and Garden January issue, the Martha Stewart Winter issue and some other "home" magazine, and they were all talking about starting your now I'm in this Spring kind of mood, pulling out the herb books, garden plans and such and...

...this is what our yard looks like...

A few months ago, this is what it looked like. Isn't that just beautiful?

Yeah, I think I'm ready to do this again... know, I think Jessica is ready too! ;-)

Yup...even if it means getting odd sunburns again because the weather is so nice, we don't realize the sun is shining on us...;-)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

So a few weeks ago, we were invited to a surprise birthday party for Ashton. For what seemed like forever, we were bubbling over with excitement and had to be very careful not to give it all away. :) We were scheduled to arrive at the Bandy's home 15 minutes before him, so, we all parked our cars, er...vans, in the alley near their home and waited ever so patiently for the guest of honor to arrive. Some of the children were posted upstairs as spies waiting for that one car to arrive. After two false alarms, Mr. Bandy called Ashton to see where he was. Finally, his car came in sight, so everybody took their hiding positions and the rest of the Bandy family acted as normal as ever. :)

Ashton walked in and was greeted by his family, and all of a sudden...31 loud and very excited people jumped out from several rooms shouting and yelling, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ASHTON!!!!!!!!" From the pictures I took, 'twould appear that he was quite shocked. :) All I can say is, I'm glad it was him and not me. :) Here some pictures for your enjoyment. I didn't get very many that night since my memory card was being used for other purposes, but I think these will give you the general idea. :)

L-R: Emil, Caleb, Nathan, Elita, Zach, Elaina and Derek acting as spies.

Back Row: Susanna, Jessica
Front Row: Adrianna and Lenna
Hiding and waiting for the planned moment...

Elita and Naomi look ready to burst...

I don't remember exactly what he said at this moment...

...but in this picture I was thinking, "Oh! Don't spill the Starbucks!!!" ;-)

And so I leave you with a picture of a very excited and happy Naomi...don't you ever wish you had that much energy? ;-)

Happy 19th Birthday, Ashton...can we do this again next year? ;-)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Well, I can't believe that the New Year is here already. It seems like it was only yesterday that we had a New Years party with some new friends. This year, we had a similar get together with the same families from last year, as well as three others, who are all now, dear friends. The evening was a smashing success ~ lots of tea, cookies, mom's Cajun Red Beans and Rice, Mrs. Sanford's fudge, Sierra's brownies and wwwwwaaaaayyyy more that would take forever to mention. :)

We had rigged up a surprise for the families coming and had the hardest time keeping it from of that follow. We topped off the evening with a New Years toast over sparkling apple cider, and a song that Jessica and I wrote. Here are the lyrics. While you read them, keep the Marines Hymn tune in mind. :)

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli.
People make New Years resolutions, to be happy, healthy free.
They will pledge to lose a thousand pounds and to walk ten miles a day.
They will save their money so they can buy a car on Black Friday.

Out the West side of Peoria, lives a family out of norm.
Dad will fix the fence in record time, mom will learn to knit with yarn.
Tiffany will smuggle fireworks, into IL next year,
And Melissa will appreciate hair on dad’s face called a beard.
Jessica will see a physiologist for her bug-a-fobia,
Caleb will take out the garbage, on his own and wont complain.
And the little girls will dust their rooms and they’ll keep their closets clean,
And little William will be potty trained and he’ll share his black beauty.

Down the hills of Allentown until you reach Schmidgall and a turn.
Mr. Candler won’t be scared of snakes, Mrs. Candler will drive in snow.
And Josiah won’t mind dirtiness, and Sierra will learn to sew.
Lenna will drink raw milk everyday so she won’t wither away.
And Elita will make bread each day, and will even grind the wheat,
And Hannah, she will learn to read, she read all of War and Peace.

Down Route 9, past Pekin in Tremont, where the Riggenbachs do live.
Mr. R. will purchase cell phones, Mrs. R will raise a pig.
Lily will perform her dance routine to “What a Comforting thing to know”
Gretel, she will get a cat for each character from Hornblower.

Out in Downs, outside of Normal, where some friends of ours reside.
Mr. Sanford he will sell their home, and a Pekin one he’ll buy.
Mrs. Sanford won’t drop cameras, Josh will learn to fly a plane.
Garrison will change his mind about the United States Marines.
And Melinda, she will memorize, more than Mr. Price next year.
And Susannah will join the church band, and she’ll play the flute by ear.
Derrick he will get the lead role, in our Reformation play,
William, he will take a sabbatical from dessert each Su-un-day.
Peter, he will sing a solo at the Pekin Manor thing,
Adrianna will learn the Italian tongue and she’ll speak it fluently.
Zach will cream the guys at paintball, along with Nathan at his side-
For they are a band of brothers, they will live and do or die!
Victoria, Elana and Becca will rise before the crack of dawn,
They will make the coffee, breakfast and go out and mow the lawn.

Way down yonder down in Texas land, Daniel and Christa abide.
Daniel will teach his son baseball, and he’ll teach him not to cry.
Christa will see a physiologist for her vacuum obsession.
And they’ll take an after dinner jog, all around the neighborhood.

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli.
People make New Year resolutions, to be happy, healthy, free.
They will never lose a thousands pounds, and won’t walk ten miles a day.
But they won’t buy stuff from China, only from the U.S.A!!!

Dad and his "Little Man" go for a sled ride down our "hill."

Christa, William and Daniel decided to go for a ride too...we figured this hill was safe enough for Christa. :)

William goes for his first ride alone...

...and he loved it!

We can't remember how many times he went down, and each time, he brought his sled back up with him.

This cute little guy kept coming up to the door and telling us he needed a nose wipe. :)

Late last week, we had this marvelous idea of decorating our "ball room." Daniel was so kind and took the lead in making our dream a reality. We decided to keep this a secret from the families coming...which was a real test of our patience. :)

Daniel hanging lights.

Lights! The Camera! and Action! come later...

"Can I dance too?"

" should we decorate the banister?"

Yeah, I think that'll do. :)

After dinner was consumed and the kitchen was cleaned up, Daniel and I went down to set up the camera and get the computer plugged in. We called back up to the house, and Melissa and Jessica led everybody out. When the reached the overhang, we had everybody close their eyes, come inside and line up. Once everybody was in, we told them they could look, and...well, I think the photos do a better job explaining their reactions...

Surprise is written all over their faces! We had the hardest time keeping this from them! :)

"Hey! Who put that mistletoe up?"
Lily had to break it to her and tell her it was actually a holly. :)

And the dancing began. We started with a dance from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. We learned it sometime last week, found the music and have been aching to teach it to everybody else. :)

Hey look, they're matching...

...hey look, so are we...scary...


The Gents line during the "Barley Reel." One of these days I'll beat the "gracefulness" part of the dance into their heads...

Gar and his sister, Becca, Polka-ing at the speed of light!! I'm glad I sat out for this one...

Dad and Grace dancing the Polka. I'm thinking maybe we should get rid of all the items on those shelves so we can get rid of the shelves...then we'd have more room to Polka!! :)

Hey look, it's King Richard in modern can tell he goes way back...he's still using a Canon. :)

Garrison thought it would be a good idea to do a solo ballet dance for us.

Jessica and I demonstrating the "Virginia Reel" done football training style.
Special thanks to the Thomas' for the fabulous idea!!!

Dad spends some time with Emma, most likely coaching her for the football dance. :)

And there she is....the Belle of the ball!! Emma was on the girls side, but after reeling the set, she got a bit confused...

"GO! GO! GO!" My dad acted as our head coach and did a marvelous job! :)

Daniel asking Christa if she's sure she doesn't want to Polka...

The longer you hang around the young people at our church, the more hand motions you use...

During the Potsies Jig, I heard somebody clapping. When I looked up to see who it was, I saw Emma.

She was so cute, I couldn't resist getting another photo of her. :)

And here stand two of the football coaches, Mr. Candler and Mr. Sanford. I'm almost positive one of them was in the military...:)

Gangsta's in da hood? ;-) A.K.A. ~ Those of us left at the end of the of these days we need to get a photo at the beginning of the dance...

Counting the minutes till the New Year...

Counting down the seconds till the New Year...

"To the New Year!!!!"

And so I close with a picture of our handy-dandy-man-of-all-work-brother-in-law. Thanks, Daniel, for all your hard work! And thanks Mom and Dad for everything y'all did to make this party come to life!