Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Young Family Christmas Letter

I had a cool newsletter made in Word, but I couldn't copy and paste it here, so I reformatted it.

Merry CHRISTmas!

2012 Highlights

*In June and July, around 100 kids from the Liberty area went to Ponca Bible Camp over the course of 6 weeks!  Many of these boys and girls made decisions to trust Jesus as their Savior for the first time.  Numerous others committed to living boldly for Jesus when they got home.

*This fall we started a Ponca and Beyond Bible Study for kids in 4th-6th grades.  We have 15-20 kids come each week!

*We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on September 29.

*Coralyn had a Dr. Suess themed birthday party when she turned THREE on October 6.

*Kellah turned ONE on December 17 and had a bright, cheery rainbow party.

*We put our house on the market as we feel  God's calling us to move to the Kellybrook Area.

Watching and Waiting

That seems to be the theme of our lives throughout this year.

Right now, we are watching and waiting for someone to buy our house.  AGAIN.

In the meantime, we are watching and waiting for opportunities to reach out to the students and their families.  God has faithfully given us several chances to do that, and we are watching and waiting to see the results:     
     *Lawrence is meeting one-on-one with a former student once a month.  
     *He is also the leader of the Boys to Men Club, teaching about 25 5th grade boys about the character traits of “real men.”  
     *Sarah is looking to start a Moms’ Prayer Group.

Every quarter, I am watching and waiting to hear from couples who want to take natural childbirth classes.  God was so faithful to provide, and I got to work with 20 couples, preparing them for their babies’ arrival.

In December, I was watching and waiting to hear from a couple to let me know it was “baby time.”  When it was, I got to be their doula and actually help them welcome their baby boy to the world!

No matter what our circumstances, though, I feel like God has been teaching us to watch and wait for His return.  The world seems to be falling apart as we are surrounded by evil and the devastating results of sin.  Each day, I long for Jesus to come back, to take us home.  While we watch and wait, God is giving me time to mold my heart, transforming it so that I am more and more like Christ.  He is teaching me about what is most important, to invite Him to be a part of all that I am doing every single day – even if it is changing dirty diapers and folding laundry.  He is also reminding me that life is short, that I don’t know how long I have with those I love.  And so I am realizing I need to make the most of every day.  I am giving out more hugs and kisses, stacking more blocks, reading more books (if that is possible), and dancing across the living room like no one’s watching!  And the smiles and laughs I get from my girls make it all worthwhile!

Still, I say, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

Looking Back

As is the case with most families here in the United States, we kept busy this past year.

Lawrence is in his 7th year of teaching 3rd grade.  He has a great class of 25 students this year.  He is also coaching gymnastics at Edge one night a week.  His team girls recently competed at a meet and took home first place.

Sarah is working at home, providing daycare for 2 precious boys.  She has done a little tutoring for a 5th grade girl as well.  Her “side job” is teaching natural childbirth classes and serving as a doula (birth assistant).  She got to work with 20 couples this year to help prepare them for their babies’ arrival.  Two of those families asked her to be their doula and help welcome their baby boys to the world!

Coralyn is now three and LOVES to read.  She is extremely observant and has an excellent memory.  She knows all her letters, shapes, and numbers (to 10).  She enjoys making crafts and playing make-believe with the daycare boys and Kellah.

Kellah just turned ONE and is walking – and climbing – all over the place!  She is starting to talk, saying Mama, Dada, ball, duck, down, and a few others that only we can probably understand.  She already has a great sense of humor and enjoys making us laugh.

As a family, we spent time at Ponca in April for work weekend and then again in July for two weeks of camp.  Once again, we were amazed at how God worked in the lives of the kids who came to camp.  We are already excited to invite them, and new ones, to come in 2013!

What's Next?

As we get ready for 2013, we are praying for God to keep showing us the plan He has for our family.  We are looking forward to what He has in store for us.

Lawrence will start taking grad classes again and should be able to get his Masters degree in School Administration by the end of the year.  

Sarah is going to add another child to her daycare and will keep on teaching childbirth classes.  She is working on becoming certified as a lactation educator and wants to doula more often too.

The biggest change we are anticipating is moving to the Kellybrook community.  We are just waiting for our house to sell and for God to show us the exact house where He wants us to live next.  We feel a heavy burden for the students and their families as we see their need for Jesus and want to help make Him known to them in a personal way.  This need as only been made all the more apparent after the school shooting in Connecticut.  The only way to truly prevent things like this from happening again, anywhere, is to introduce people to salvation that comes through Christ alone.  As people invite Jesus into their lives, He will fill them with love, peace, joy, and good qualities that the world simply cannot offer, no matter what kind of deal or sale they try to convince us will fill that empty spot in our hearts that is meant for Jesus.  

On a positive note, we have seen God at work through the Boys to Men Club that Lawrence does with the 5th grade boys and in our Ponca and Beyond Bible study.  We long to be more involved with the boys and girls on a daily basis, mentoring and discipling them so they can learn to love Jesus passionately and live boldly for Him.

Whatever God has for us, we want to do it well, bringing Him all the honor and glory due His name!

Merry Christmas!

This morning, I carefully slipped out of bed, making sure I didn't disturb Kellah as she slept so peacefully on top of my legs.  Her Christmas present to me was sleeping from midnight to 6 am, and then going back to sleep when I brought her into bed with us...still sleeping soundly when I slipped out from under her at 8!

Evidently, Coralyn and Kellah talked it over, because Coralyn fell asleep within minutes of going to bed last night, all snuggled up in her blanket and pillows, and didn't make a peep until after 8:30 this morning!

And so, I got to start the coffee, put the egg casserole and cranberry muffins in the oven to bake, and even sit down with a hot cup of coffee to journal by the lights of the Christmas tree before anyone was up to start the Christmas festivities.  Now that is what I call a once-in-a-lifetime gift!

As I sat and wrote, I thought about how we were "supposed" to be in our new house today.  I "could" have been sitting by the fireplace, looking out a huge window into our backyard below.  I "could" have been using a new oven to make our Christmas brunch.  Earlier this week, I "could" have used that same oven to bake Christmas cookies and breads to deliver to our new neighbors.  When it snowed, we "could" have gone sledding down the fairly steep hill by the house.

Last night, when the girls opened their stockings after the Christmas Eve Service, we "could" have done that by the fireplace.

In order to get Coralyn to wear her actual Christmas dress, I had to promise her she could wear this other one when we got home from the Christmas Eve Service and opened their stockings.

Multitasking: playing the harmonica and bouncing the slinky

Kellah taking a turn with the slinky

And then, this morning, they "could" have woken up and come down the stairs, excited to find their presents under the tree.

Lots of "could have been's."

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda....but DIDN'T.

At least that's how the saying goes.

Instead of focusing on all that "could have been," God reminded me to set my eyes on Him and remember all that He HAS done for us already, even without moving into a new house, no matter how badly we wanted that to happen.

Instead of wishing for what "could have been," God challenged me to be thankful for all that IS.

As I turned my attention to the may blessings I have already, Coralyn woke up and walked into the living room.  She might be the only child who cried this morning when she was told, "Breakfast isn't ready yet, so let's open presents first."

Just as she calmed down and was assured that she would indeed eat this morning, Lawrence and Kellah peeked their heads around the corner.  We chased them back into the bedroom and tickled them on the bed to wish them a Merry Christmas.

Then, we made our way to the tree to open presents.   Our family tradition is for the girls to each get three presents, to remember how the wise men gave Jesus the three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  We got them something practical, a clothing item, and then a toy or "fun" gift.

Coralyn's fun item: a Rapunzel dress, as she is very into princesses right now

Kellah's clothing item: a ruffly, frilly orange dress to wear for her one year pictures

Coralyn's clothing item: a sparkly silver dress to wear for sister pictures

The girls' practical items: fleece blankets I made them, to go with the decor they will have in their new rooms

Kellah's fun item: a truck with two balls that make noise, as she is very into balls right now

After the presents were opened, we ate brunch -- cheesy egg casserole with green peppers and deer sausage, gluten free cranberry muffins, yogurt, and orange juice.

Then, with our tummies full, we headed back into the living room to set up a play castle Coralyn got last year for Christmas, that way she could pretend to be Rapunzel in her new dress.  With a little love and duct tape, Lawrence put the castle together, and the girls were happily playing together -- bringing all their new toys into the castle, peaking their heads out the windows, and crawling through the tunnel Coralyn made out of an empty box.

We're still in the living room, soaking up this precious time together as a family.  We don't really have any other plans for the day.

We already celebrated Christmas with Lawrence's family this past weekend...

The three red-headed cousins
...and won't be traveling to see my parents until this coming weekend.

The day is just beginning and already my heart is full of joy as I realize how blessed we are!

Coralyn wanted to see if Kellah would fit in the stocking like she did last year.
Kellah may be small, but she didn't fit but up to her knees :)

I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful day too as you enjoy the time with your family and celebrate the birth of Jesus.  For that, by far, is the best gift we have all been given!  Like I read this morning in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (not me, as my mother-in-law questioned when Lawrence's sister gave her the devotional book in her stocking this year):

As you wait attentively in My presence, the Light of the knowledge of My Glory shines upon you.  This radiant knowledge transcends all understanding.  It transforms every fiber of your being: renewing your mind, cleansing your heart, invigorating your body.  Open yourself fully to My Presence; be awed by My glorious Being.

Try to imagine what I gave up when I came into your world as a baby.  I set aside My Glory, so that I could identify with mankind.  I accepted the limitations of infancy under the most appalling conditions -- a filthy stable.  That was a dark night for Me, even though angels lit up the sky proclaiming "Glory!" to awe-struck shepherds.

When you sit quietly with Me, the process I went through is reversed in your experience.  As you identify with Me, heaven's vistas open up before you -- granting you glimpses of My Glory.  
I became poor so that you might become rich.  
Sing hallelujahs to My holy Name!

Now that is definitely a gift worth singing about!  Even if you are like me and can't stay on pitch to save your life!  Or you're like Coralyn and just "learning" to play the harmonica! :)

Merry Christmas from the Youngs!!!!

This is the best family picture we got last night before the Christmas Eve Service

Coralyn did an EXCELLENT job taking pictures this year -- no tantrums or melt downs like last year!

How precious is that!

Kellah wasn't really into sitting still for a picture of just her by the tree

Friday, December 21, 2012

Because Tomorrow May Never Come

Since the world is supposed to end today, I figured I might as well let the girls get dirty.

I am in charge of dessert for the Young Family Christmas tomorrow.  I am bringing cheesecake.  I decided to let the girls help me bake it this afternoon.

First, we had to unwrap the cream cheese.

Then, we had to mix in the eggs, whipping cream, vanilla, sugar, and M&M's.

Next, I melted the butter and crushed the graham crackers.  I mixed those together and formed the crust.

Finally, I poured the batter into the springform pan and put the cheesecake in the oven to bake.

The fun was just beginning!  We just had to lick the beater.

And then the spoon!

Who could forget the bowl?!

Coralyn then decided to rub her belly with the batter.

That lead to artistic dancing.

Kellah was much more interested in getting every drop of cheesecake batter possible.

Needless to say, the girls had fun!  And were both a sticky, ooey, gooey mess afterwards. 

So, we promptly took a bubble bath, which was also lots of fun!

And since the world didn't end today (at least not yet anyway), we might just have some more fun tomorrow!  In the form of opening Christmas presents at Grandma and Papa's house.  I am looking forward to capturing those precious memories on camera much more than I am in opening my own presents.

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