Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

From our house to yours . . . .  
we wish you a very Merry Christmas!
We pray you all will have a joyous time
of celebrating and focusing on the risen Christ,
who came as a babe to be our Savior and Lord!
And may 2014 be filled with many new blessings
as we rejoice in each day that the Lord has made,
and in the abundant life He has given!! 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Our family will be taking a break from the Internet
for a month or so now!
However, we'll still be thinking of you! : -) 

So Thankful . . .

 . . . for these two little stocking feet,
(Thanks, Lydia, for the warm and cozy "slippers!)
and for the sweet blessing
of being able to add another
Christmas stocking this year!
Thank you, Jesus! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Worship and Fun Fellowship with our Church Family!

Last night was our church's annual Christmas "Talents" Program.
It's a special time of gathering with our church family and neighbors to worship our Lord
and fellowship together.
The vision is one of giving back,
and sharing the abilities and gifts
that have been given to us by the Lord,
to bring Him glory, and to be able to share His love and truth with others.
We pray that the theme of this year's program,  "Treasuring Jesus,"
was accomplished,
and that all who came to the program were very blessed!
Ted kicks it off with a welcome and introduction.

Then, Kyle opens with a prayer and the introduction to this year's "in-between-acts" quiz competition between the two sides of the congregation . . . Team 1 and Team 2.
This year's theme was "Christmas Carols!"
Kyle did a great job preparing this portion of the program
 and being the "M.C." for the evening.  
Here's one of the first questions . . . 
"The slightly demanding carolers in
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
wouldn't go until they got some . . . "
Caroline accompanied Steve for this recitation.

"It is the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year." 
What is everyone telling you?
This is a choir that comes together from our church
and two other small, local churches. 
They are always really awesome!
Finish this line from "Winter Wonderland,"
"Later on we'll conspire, as we . . . " 

Valerie's "talent" that she contributed for the intermission!
In "Do You Hear What I Hear,"
what are the shepherd's words to the mighty king?
 Bowes/Tevis ladies and their daddy leading the congregation in
"O Come All Ye Faithful" just after the intermission.   

Finish this line from "Deck the Halls."
"Follow me in merry measure . . . "

"SVCC Hillibillies" singing about being "fishers of men"
to the tune of "Beverely Hillbillies"
being played on the banjo!
In the song "Let it Snow" what does the singer bring?

This was one of my favorites for a couple reasons.
1.  We helped him pull off his performance as a surprise for his mom . . .even printing a separate program just for her with his name and song omitted, so she had no idea that he was going to sing!
2.  He had an amazing voice, and sung "O Holy Night" beautifully . . .
at the young age of 16! 

One of the trickiest questions . . .
"In the song 'Twelve Days of Christmas' what does the 'true love' give on the third day of Christmas?"

Victoria and Valerie playing an "Amazing Grace" duet
for Steve's "The Old Violin" recitation. 
After all the acts were complete, our dear brother Gale did an awesome job summarizing the evening with a call for each of us to consider if we have received Jesus' free gift
of grace and salvation this Christmas season,
and "made room" for Him by surrendering our lives to His Lordship every day of the year!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Small-town Family Fun!

Our family always enjoys a small, hometown parade!
So last night we especially enjoyed the "lighted tractor" Christmas parade!
Our whole family, including Richie and Lydia, was able to be there,
and we really enjoyed returning a hearty "Merry Christmas"
to many of the parade participants as they walked by.   

 I wasn't able to get very many good pictures of the parade.
But there were a few churches that had nativity related floats,
and a few other various things other than tractors!

 Lots of "Merry Christmas"
abounded in our small town.

 After the parade, we enjoyed having dinner with Lydia and Richie at a little burger restaurant;
 and then drove through a park that had a fun light display. 
There were many signs saying "Merry Christmas" from various local businesses.
We couldn't help but chuckle though on this one from the local college.
 : -) 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Twelve Days Before Christmas!

1.  Thinking lots about all that Jesus has done for us, and praising God for His plan of salvation!

2.  Missing our sweet friend, Marilyn.   We especially miss her sweet smile and special wave as we would often pass one another on our country road.   Still can't imagine life without her.  Praying lots for Bob, and all their family, who miss her so much . . . especially during this Christmas season.  Also, honored and thankful to have a couple small parts in her upcoming Memorial service.
3.  Delivering two sets of triplet goat kids and bottle feeding two of them!

4.   Staying warm, huddled by the fire, spending time together as a family while working on a Christmas puzzle.

5.  Planning, preparing, and practicing for our church's annual "Christmas Talents" program and outreach this Sunday evening!
6.  Wondering if any other family members will get the stomach/abdominal virus we’ve been passing around; and thankful for, but hoping we can avoid another late night at the Pediatric after-hours clinic! 

7.  Enjoying receiving our friends’ and family’s Christmas cards, and possibly getting around to sending out our Christmas photo letter!

8.  Baking, shopping and wrapping for all the upcoming Christmas festivities!  
9.  Making lists and checking them twice for upcoming family meals and gift giving.  

10.  Looking very forward  to our precious family arriving soon from Oregon and Arizona, and all the fun times we’ll have together!    
11.  Meeting 10 families that are taking puppies home just in time for Christmas!

12.Trying to savor the moments we have been given with our loved ones in the midst of it all.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.  .  ."
James 1:17a

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Shhhhhh . . . . Don't Tell Papa Bob!!!!

Thanks to Aunt Kelley for the video!!! 
This is all just a "figment"
of our imaginations!!!
It really doesn't ever snow here . . . .  
(hee, hee)
Can you spot the sledder off to the left with the yellow sled?
Swofford Pond spillway on Saturday.

Swofford Pond yesterday.
A little pond ice-skating rink we made from a spring
in the forest on our property.

Don't worry Papa Bob,
I'm sure it will look like this again
when you get here in a few days.  :-)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lives Lived Well and Now with Jesus

Friday night Richie and Lydia stopped by so that Lydia could practice singing "Treasure of Jesus" with Ted for an upcoming Christmas program.   It is such a beautiful song, and the lyrics are so fitting both for the program, and for the news we received that evening
(and last night as well). 
Soon after they finished practicing the song on Friday night,
we received a phone call from Janet, Richie's mom,
 that their beloved uncle,
a Wycliffe missionary for most of his life,
had gone home to be with Jesus.  
We were so sad to hear the news of the loss this will be to so many . . .
his dear wife, Helen;
his family;
and many, many friends all over the world. 
At the same time, as Richie re-told his amazing story,
we enjoyed reminiscing and rejoicing over his life . . .
a life lived surrendered to the Lord and for His glory.  
No doubt, as he entered into the presence of Jesus,
he heard "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
Among many amazing things that Don did in the Lord's service,
 was to be a part of the search team for
Jim Elliott, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, and Pete Fleming
in the jungles of Ecuador after their death in 1956 by the Auca Indians. 
Don and his team-mates are written about in Elisabeth Elliot's book
"Through Gates of Splendor."
He is also in a few of the photographs on pages 208-211,
wearing a Hawaiian shirt and his logging hard hat. :-)
In addition to his news,
we heard late last night that our very beloved and faithful friend, neighbor and "adopted" grandma,
suddenly went home to be with Jesus.
She also lived her life fully devoted to the Lord and to others.
These two dearly loved ones, Don Johnson and Marilyn Jerke, entered into eternity within about 24 hours of each other.
Words can't express how much we will miss them!  
What can I do
How can I live
To show my world
The treasure of Jesus
What will it take
What could I give
So they can know
The treasure He is
If I can sing
Let my songs be full of His Glory
If I can speak
Let my words be full of His Grace
If I should live or die
Let me be found pursuing this prize
The One that alone satisfies
The Treasure of Jesus
And if I can sing
Let my songs be full of His Glory
If I can speak
Let all my words be full of His Grace
And if I should live or die
Let me be found pursuing this prize
The One that alone satisfies
The Treasure of Jesus 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Brrrrr . . . It's Cold Outside!

Thankfully, we're staying toasty-warm
by our wood stove and oven!  :-)

Growing up, these cookies were always a part of my family's Christmas tradition!
My sister and I still think they are a must have at Christmastime! 
We LOVE these Mexican Tea Cookies . . . .
or are they Russian Tea Cakes????

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Great Idea ~ Memorial Box Monday

Ever since our family's most fateful day in our history, back on Oct. 26, 2006, when God miraculously worked to spare 2 of our lives from certain death, I have been convicted and convinced of the importance of documenting for future generations all that the Lord has done for us.  God's word has so much to say about passing on the stories of His faithfulness and goodness to others . . . not only for the generations yet to come, but to "encourage one another daily" (Heb. 3:13a)!

I was so convicted soon after the Lord spared my life and Joseph's life, that I hadn't documented all that He had done for us, that I was very motivated to take the time to write down some of the big and small ways the Lord has touched and blessed our lives since He brought Ted and I together.   From this, a little book was started . . .  entitled "In Big and Small Ways . . . A Mother's Memoirs of God's Providential, Loving Care Through the Years"    I must admit, it needs some serious updating since it was printed 6 years ago!!! 

So this is one reason why I was so excited about Linny's encouragement over at A Place Called Simplicity to continually "remember" God's goodness and faithfulness in our lives, and be sure to pass down the stories to the next generation.  One great idea she talks about quite often is having a "Memorial Box" in a prominent place in your house.   She has many posts about their family's memorial Box throughout her blog, which are so very inspiring, but one post that explains her "Memorial Box" idea is found here.    Such a neat idea, especially combined with writing down and printing the stories behind each little treasures/item in the Memorial Box to save for future generations.

Linny loves to encourage and inspire others by having bloggy friends share their "Memorial Box" stories by linking up to her blog.    I've decided to do this with a recent story I printed already on our family blog back in September.  But because Linny was a vital part of this particular story, in that she was the one to help open my eyes and encourage me to fast and pray over certain things in my life; and with us still needing to be continually reminded of God's mighty hand in the midst of our foster-to-adopt process, I chose to re-post and link this story to her blog.

The Wonder of God's Great Love!
"I will exalt you, My God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts.
They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness."
Psalm 145:1-7
Our loving Father-to-the-fatherless did something really extra special recently for Brielle (and her Mommy!) and I would love to "tell of the power of His awesome works and proclaim His great deeds!" as we document this special little part of Brielle’s story for generations to come!
The story begins back in April as we were preparing for our 3 week trip back east.   I was looking for a sun bonnet for Brielle to pack, and as I was digging through a box of little girl items I had saved from the time when Lydia was a baby, I found a perfect little bonnet.   It has a very old-fashioned look to it, and though I don’t remember the origin of it, I couldn’t remember any of the other Bowes babies wearing it.  I thought at the time, it is as if this unknown bonnet appeared just for Brielle!   It is so perfect for her, and I thought we could claim it for her very own, and that it would make a wonderful keepsake for her.    (I really love saving a few little baby things for each child!) 
So during our 3 week trek across the country and back, she wore it often, and I have lots of adorable pictures of her wearing it.  I was always very vigilant to keep track of it.  It wasn’t easy, as we visited sooooooo many places; in and out of vehicles and strollers; hotels and campgrounds; and through 20+ states and 7,530 miles!    But I always kept an eye on it, knowing one day that it would be a very special part of her treasured keepsakes.  
When we returned home, and after doing all the wash and having everything put away, I went looking for the bonnet.  I searched high and low . . . in strollers, in the truck and camper, in her dresser . . .  everywhere I could possibly think to look.  And I did this over and over to no avail.   I became increasingly sad about the possibility that I had lost this special little bonnet, and I prayed, knowing the Lord knew where it was.  In the meantime, I even called a few places we had been last, where I thought we could have left it, but no one had it.   Since then, I always have kept my eye out for it, as I have cleaned out her clothes and dresser often.  But after many weeks and months having passed and several times of emptying her dresser and reorganizing things, I resigned myself to the fact that the bonnet was really gone forever.
Now fast forward to a few days ago.  I went to bed Tuesday night feeling particularly troubled about Brielle’s situation with still “belonging” to the State, and many things happening (or not happening) in the foster-to-adopt process that are quite unsettling.  That particular day I was very burdened, and thought that I just needed to fast and pray about it all on Wednesday.    So I started out the day, fasting and praying through breakfast, crying out to the Lord for Brielle.   About mid-morning, I went looking for some clothes to dress Brielle for the day.   Guess what I found at that very moment in her same dresser that I had cleaned out many times in the months after our return home from the trip?  Her little bonnet was lying in the bottom drawer, amongst some of her older set of clothes!!!   I couldn't believe my eyes!  
Many times, over the course of the months of looking for the bonnet, I had come to grips with the reality that the bonnet is really a fairly insignificant little piece of fabric and ribbons, and it is just an earthly thing that will be left behind in the end anyway!  But there was always something about that bonnet that just seemed so special, and just for Brielle.   I wanted it for her as a keepsake and remembrance of how very precious she was in her infancy and always will be to us. 
Now, it will always have an even greater significance!!  Our Heavenly Father who loves Brielle even more than we do, chose this particular day and moment to sweetly remind us that she ultimately belongs to Him, and He is orchestrating His good plans for her in His perfect time.   I just feel soooooo blessed with this special kindness from our loving Father.   And I'm so very grateful that He is answering our prayers, in His good way and timing, and He truly cares about every little detail in our lives!!! 
"I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,
the deeds for which he is to be praised,
according to all he has done for us -
Yes, the many good things he has done. . . "
Isaiah 63:7a
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