Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve, 2011

2011 has flown by faster than any year I can remember.  I think in part that's because I spent so much time focused on our adoption- filling out paperwork, making phone calls, reading books, doing research, etc.  This year will still be focused on our adoption, but hopefully I can do a better job of keeping focused on spending as much time as possible with Jayde, Alana, and Easton, too. 

At this point in time we have been waiting for a referral for over 5 months.  I would like to think that by next Christmas we will have 2 new children in our home.  However, while watching other families from our agency go through the process this year, I have come to the conclusion that we may not have them home in the next year.  Waiting stinks.  But I also know that God has appointed certain children for our family, and we will not receive a referral until those children are available.  It is hard to think, though, that our children are already born, because of the age we are requesting, but they may be alone right now or stuck in an orphanage somewhere at this point in time, we just don't know.  We are not waiting for a baby to be born. We are waiting for a child to be abandoned.  That is a horrible thought.  To imagine the pain that they are going to have to go through to be a part of our forever family is difficult. But what a beautiful picture of God's grace! 

I'd like to leave you in 2011 with a passage from the Bible that talks about what God wants from his people.

Isaiah 58:6-11 says, "Is not this the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share our bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?  Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.  Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.'  If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and our gloom be as the noonday.  And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."

Christmas Day 2011

Christmas Day was on Sunday this year, which was exciting because that means we got to go to church on Christmas!  Anyone who wanted to could come to EPC in their pajamas.  So we did, of course!  Poor Alana was sick with a virus and fever, so Alan had to stay home with her. 

I took Jayde and Easton to church in our jammies and slippers. I didn't even get a picture of the 3 of us.  But I did get a picture of everyone in the church who wore jammies.  Not that you can tell who anyone is!
I have had the same pastor since I was nine years old.  This April, Reverand Don Mason will be retiring from our church.  This was his last Christmas to preach at EPC.  He wore his pajamas and robe for the occasion. 

Even our praise team wore p.j.'s:
This is me with my friend Jennifer:

Jayde posed with our music director, Merideth.  Don't you love her cap?

I had to get a picture with Mr. Mason on his last Christmas Sunday with us!


After church we came home and opened gifts with the children.  Each of our kids receives 3 gifts because Jesus received 3 gifts.  This keeps us from overspending and keeps the kids from getting too many things they don't need.  They still receive presents from their grandparents and some other family members, too.  We ate lunch with Alan's family and opened gifts there, too.  I realized too late that I didn't take any pictures at their house.  In the evening, we drove to my parent's house to have supper with them, then opened gifts again there.  My sister and brother-in-law were in town with their new baby, Bode.  What a wonderful gift!
Here is Alana's place for opening gifts (remember, she was sick):

Ryan and Ginger let me hold Bode during the opening of presents:



My dad is the official distributor of gifts:


One of my gifts was a label-maker!  I love labeling- such a nerd, I know.

We tried to take the sweet cousins picture in front of the tree.  I don't think Bode was very happy.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday, Jesus!



My favorite church service of the year is the candlelight Christmas Eve service.  We partake of communion with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, listen to beautiful music (even though she was sick, Alana fulfilled her dream of playing the piano on Christmas Eve this year at church), hear our pastor speak, then the lights go out and the candles are lit as everyone raises their candle and sings "Silent Night".  It's breathtaking. After the service, our family and some friends come back to our house for a birthday party for Jesus.  


This is Easton with my miracle-baby new nephew, Bode.  They were both dressed in a vest and tie.  Aren't they handsome?

At the party, the children get boxes from the set, "What God's Wants for Christmas".  We open them, tell the Christmas story, and make them into a manger scene.  Easton was not making the peace sign, he had the box #2.  Haha.



Then we light candles on a cake and sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.

Then we open gifts.  Everyone receives a pair of pajamas.  Berlyn and Sydney did not want their pictures taken, but I snuck a couple in.

Alana's jammies were "so sweet", just like her.


I think I caught Jayde at an awkward moment, but she loved her John Deere pajamas.

Easton and Mozart opening their jammies:

That's right, girls, gotcha!

Stella was rockin' the "most popular" jammies.

My niece, Kelsey, came all the way from Alabama for her pajamas!
We are big on family traditions. Love having the family together! Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Christmas Lane

The week before Christmas every year, we go visit Christmas Lane with our family in Dover, FL.  If you live in the Plant City area, you should check out Christmas Lane.  It's a donation-only ministry to the community put on by Lane Wetherington. Here'a link to an article so you can plan to take your family next year http://brandon.patch.com/articles/crowds-flock-to-christmas-lane#photo-8758685


We took a picture on the sled (Jayde was thrilled, can't you tell?)

Newlyweds Courtney and Matt on the sled:
The annual family picture in front of the gigantic Christmas tree:


Our family:

Easton and his friend Tiffany in front of the "snow machine" (it's actually little bubbles):

Alana with "snow" in her hair:
Christmas Lane makes everyone smile.  Thanks to Lane Wetherington and all his volunteers for making the Plant City area's holidays a little brighter!

Garrels Girls Family Christmas Party

My mother is one of 7 girls.  When the whole family gets together with all the kids and grandkids, there is a passel of people!  Our family is diverse and that diversity = fun.  Every year my entire life, our family Christmas party has been held at my Uncle Johnny and Aunt Penny's house.  I cannot think of a childhood Christmas without their house in my memory.  This year, they passed the baton to Alan and I to begin holding the annual party at our house.  What an honor! 

We eat together and hang out together:









This is my Grandmother, the matriarch of the family, sitting with my mom:




The highlight of the night for the children is the arrival of Santa (a.k.a. Uncle Mark) and his wife (Aunt Wendy).  Santa chose a unique way of entry from the North Pole - a tractor!








Mr. and Mrs. Claus:

The gifts begin:



















Even if they don't want to see Santa, they still enjoy the presents!


Santa ends the evening with gag gifts.  Alan received a kit for staying on the roof and calling for help, since the last two years he has had trouble hanging lights.

Joey received a bucket of ornaments, since he has used the excuse in the past of having no ornaments as reason to not put up a Christmas tree.


David had a run-in with an oven in the form of a fire this year, so he was given some gifts to help him in case of future fire :)

My cousin, Andy, made a presentation to my Aunt Penny and Uncle Johnny.  They were given the George Mcmullen award. The award was named after my great-grandfather. It goes to someone in our family for a great achievement each year.  Johnny and Penny have hosted our family so much over our lifetime and made sure that everyone got together to see each other, so they received the award.  

All of my cousins who grew up going to their house stood with Andy to present the award.

I'm so thankful for my family!