Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 2013 Our Highlights

The Month of December has become so crazy that usually by the 15th or so I am just exhausted.
Both boys play basketball at different schools and they overlap schedules this month.

We have 3 School Christmas programs.

Several Piano Recitals

And last minute parties and events.

I finally squeezed in Christmas shopping just in the nick of time.

One week before Christmas we got the flu. All of us but one. And the day Jason and I had it we also got a little unexpected call from the school.... There had been an incident. Micah got a tooth knocked out in his last basketball practice of the season. It was quite a day.
It was a bit of extra excitement that we neither asked or planned for. But it gives us a story to tell. :)

We started a tradition of Pj's, Donuts and lights night a number of years ago and the kids do love it. So we sneaked it in just a few nights before Christmas.
 The trip to get the sweets.
 2 Dozen free donuts from Krispy Kreme... Good grades + 4 kids gets free donuts. Yay!!!

And the beautiful lights.

We had The Troyer Christmas a few days before Christmas.
It appears we've turned a corner in this family....
The kids cleaned up the dinner dishes. What a fabulous gift!! (I'm hoping Micah is not spit washing that glass* maybe he's just making sure his tooth is still in there :)) (notice all the cameras in the background. It's obviously an unusual event:))
 Cindy made pillows for all of us out of Benji's old clothes. Such a neat idea!

I'm sure many tears anointed these pillows as she sewed them together. A very thoughtful gift!!

We also made gingerbread houses. Which was super fun!
Dale judged... He had a little trouble making the final decision with all the influences trying to help him decide.

We Christmas Caroled for my aunt.

It was the kind of Christmas that in so many ways I would hope to have.
No travel. No unexpected sickies.
Nothing big and over the top. Just low key with my little family and a few extras.

Jason's brother shared Christmas With us this year.
We did some singing with the piano.
After our yearly Crab legs and Shrimp Alfredo with a ringing in of Christmas, and the Christmas story, the kids opened their gifts.
On Christmas Morning we had our sweet friends Mahlon and Dorothy join us for brunch.
This was our first Christmas at our new house. 
 We sang some songs.

And played lots of games.
 The kids get a bang out of their uncle Clair.
 Sophie and Mahlon giving high fives.
 And for Christmas evening  Jim and Shirley and Meg joined us for some homemade pretzels and games.

And then us girls had a little sleepover in my bed on Christmas Night. 
Thanks Jason for being a sport and sleeping in another bed. 
It was just like sleepovers I remember... Lots of movies, talk, and little sleep. 

I sure do love making Christmas memories. 
But what I didn't post was this... 
We also had some fights to break up. Some tense moments. Some misunderstandings. Some things that didn't fit. Lots of mess. Some hard news.
It's not really the stuff we like to talk about or remember but it happens here just like anywhere else. I like to focus on the good things but just so you know we don't do perfect. My highlight "Real" is not always pretty.
Here's hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas (at least moments of wonder) in the middle of the chaotic,  as you remembered the best part of it all. 

Emmanuel God is with us. 
Here's wishing you The Merriest of Christmas and a Hopeful and Blessed New Year

Monday, December 9, 2013

When Birthdays are Hard

This past weekend we celebrated a birthday.
It was like all birthday parties... we had balloons, punch, shrimp cocktail and chips.
We said nice things about the birthday person and celebrated his life.
Except at this party we were missing the guest of honor.
And we all wept as we stood around the place we buried him last spring.
The holes in our hearts seem to be getting bigger... Not smaller.
We know you are having the best birthday ever. But we just miss your little face!
We miss your laugh.
We miss your spirit. We miss sleepovers and your raspy voice. We miss your jokes. Your smell. Your hands. Your Friendship. Your loyalty.

We wish it would be different for our sake. But not for yours. We know you are right where you are most at peace.
When we get too caught up in connecting the small dots...we can't see the big picture. 
So we will continue to hope for brighter days as we dry our eyes and we hold your brothers and mom and dad and each other close and remind each other to live out of  what we have learned through your life and the journey God led you through.
And to be faithful to our King until we can celebrate together again. 
We love you Benjamin Ross
Happy Sweet 16.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


There she stands, on the playground.
 Her piggy tails hang down on each cheek and she instinctively holds on to one brushing the hair against her hand. She is nervous but still trys to appear casual.It's one of those moments where everyone is silently holding their breath...all but the best friend of the captain. She knows she's in. But everyone else...we all just hope we aren't chosen last. 

And then  we outgrow the playground and we move to a tad more sophistication in our choosing games. We plan parties and choose who should attend. And still... it's not so important what order we are chosen...just as long as we get an invite to those places we wish to belong to.
But then we graduate and we are told it will all be different. People are more mature and they will not pick and choose like they did on the playground, with such blatant rejection.
But unfortunately, it never happens like that does it?
We all want to feel chosen. 
It's in each one of the created to  feel like they belong.
And it's humbling when we aren't invited in. Or sometimes told to leave. It stings.Sometimes we cry. At times we react in unhealthy ways in return of the rejection.
And it takes us back to the play ground....You pick me...Next time I will pick you. But... If you don't pick me?
What will we do with that?

As I think of the coming of the king, one thing that I have been pondering is how His action of coming to this world was the most beautiful display of choosing us even when we rejected him. Knowing the outcome of his life on earth would be one of complete rejection.
And still he came.
Out of a perfect love...
He Chose You.
And he chose me.
He chose us before we chose him.
And he still keeps choosing us.
Did you need to know you are chosen today?
No matter the rejection you are facing.... God Chose You. First.
Your family may reject you. Your spouse may have turned their back. Your friends may fail. You may have been overlooked for that promotion or job. You may not feel like one person would pick you first.

But he did. He does. And he will.

You have been Chosen.

Live with that confidence today.
Joy to the World The Lord is Come.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The love twist

I make my way up the steps to the upper level which is her haven. Because of busy schedules connecting has to be intentional even if its at 12:30 at night. I want to make sure she knows I am interested in her joys and struggles. I want to use this time wisely making the most of any opportunity.

I go to be an ear and to use my words when asked, but this night it is her words that sink deep into my heart. How can such wisdom come from one so young?

You see we have been led to believe that when someone fails us its best to get it out. To speak of it instead of letting it rot us up and fester like poison in our bones. We have been told to believe that when we are harmed  we should be able to defend ourselves to others around until they realize the mistreatment or betrayal we have endured.
We have believed it because it takes no effort to partake in the practice of it.
And yet, all the talk and taking sides and competition of who is right and who is wrong leaves very little room for love.
As she speaks of her pain and her heart stirrings she finishes her sentence with ... "I have found the more I speak of this the harder it is to love."

It was a moment I don't want to forget. Causing me to stop and stare at her with awe. Wondering at how I got so fortunate to hear my own flesh be so insightful. God in her.

Yes that's it. The more hurts are repeated and remembered the harder it is to love out of the abundance of a heart of thankfulness and gratitude for what we have been given.
The more we place it foremost in our mind we set it up as a god and we bow down at the idol we have come to serve. Not because it brings us joy but because we revel in the fact that we are so right and they so terribly wrong. We serve it because there is temporary satisfaction in hurting another the way we have been hurt.

To love more fully. To have a deeper understanding of what it means to extend open hearts of love to our offender. To give, out of what I have received. To pray for those who have mistreated. To be kind when we have been treated unkind. To place my hope not in horses or chariot or man who will pass away... but to place my hope in Jehovah Jireh, The provider of my every need. Jehovah Rapha, the God who binds up the broken hearted and heals the hurts we carry.

These are my earnest prayers Oh God.
Make me pure in heart.

*I want to add that I do believe in Good Christian Counsel. This is not what I refer to when I am writing. Unfortunately to often we are not seeking Counsel in our conversation but seeking vengeance. Maybe we have fallen into a victim mentality or perhaps looking for validation from others because we are co-dependent.  I need to ask myself honestly If I am seeking to grow and move out of the pain into healing?Or if I am stuck in the hurt and letting it engulf my thoughts and words, I must consider if I may have set it or them up as a god in my heart.*

Monday, November 4, 2013

He is the Source of life

I woke up early yesterday with a heavy heart. Just blah. Nothing earth shaking had transpired and yet I just felt drained. You know that feeling? Like the life somehow had been sapped from me as I slept. 
I got up and went to church and still felt heavy. 
I worshiped, served, was challenged and fed but still... something hung there over the emotional door of my heart asking me to accept its pill.
I served lunch and took my nap hoping I would wake up alive again. 
Still it was there beckoning me to fall into a pit of self pity and blame.
We took an afternoon hike and enjoyed the beautiful time of year. Then took the little one for a date to DQ where we ate ice cream and played cards in the corner booth. It's her love language and her cup seemed to fill as we played. 
When I got home I took a long hot bubble bath. As I did I decided to play an old pod cast that I hadn't gotten to yet. And there it was.... The thing I couldn't put my finger on all wrapped up in a 40 minute message. 
"Codependency is when we plug into people places or things as the source of life....So when my life isn't going so great I blame _____ for being the source of my problems.
And When My Children are the source of my life... I use them to impress others.
Or When my Parents are the source of my life...I make decisions based on how they think or feel.
How about my spouse? When we make them the source of life we will blame them or try to control them.
How about waiting to be recognized by a boss or someone else I feel the need to gain the favor of but they continue to ignore me so I begin to find fault in them or manipulate them.
These are some of the examples the speaker gave...
And I knew it's what I needed to be reminded of.
When I am not taking personal responsibility to get my glass filled by the one who is my true source of life I will blame and feel offended and want to control every.single.time.

So this morning I wake with a new song of Thanksgiving that the Source of all Life dwells with me. He fills me with his presence and is the defeater of the enemy of my soul.
I am beyond blessed that the one who painted this picture above desires  to be my  closest friend. He wants to spend time with me.
That's kind of a heady thought.
If you are waiting to be recognized by people of this world remember that the only one who can truly fill those empty spots in your soul,every day, is the maker of this sky.
What a great way to start my week..
God is the source of my life... Not others.

This link below is one of my favorite songs right now....
I choose Jesus

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Joys and another birthday

School is well underway now.... The first report cards have come out and we have a quarter of the school year under our belts. It's so nice that they can help each other in math because after about the 5th grade I'm dead to them when it comes time for math.

Here is an inexpensive project I did this fall.
 I got some cheap dollar store pumpkin shaped gourds.
 I Took my spray paint can and gave them a good coat of paint.
Added some stencil letters to spell "Thanks".  My Simple pleasures.

This boy has been playing lots of football and had his first touch down this year.

I will miss watching this bunch of boys play together. I love that number 88
 My oldest turned 18 at the end of September... This is a money tree that we gave her for her birthday. I am trying to not let my heart run too wild with emotion at all the lasts this year.
 I know life will change next year without her presence in our daily lives.
 But I have no doubt she is ready to fly.
 She is my adult child now. So hard to believe.
 And I think I may just hold on to this moment instead of thinking about next year.
 We celebrated at Olive Garden with her siblings.
I am sure we will have many more moments to celebrate.
I love you princess Malaina. You are all I dreamed you would be. And then some.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Gideon Ladies

For 2 months this fall they have been gathering in my living room once a week. These Ladies (plus a few who weren't pictured here)

I have so enjoyed the richness of friendships old and new.
And God's word has just been pouring over my soul as we make our way through the story of Gideon.
Gideon is found in the book of Judges.  One of the many truths from this story is how God used some very unusual vessels to accomplish his purpose. It was such a good reminder to me that God usually uses weapons for his kingdom that look very different from my weapons.
He takes whomever and whatever he pleases and makes something amazing. He is especially glorified in our weakness because in our weakness others can see that it is not us but him who is doing the work.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.* ICOR 12:9

Lessons to be learned were plentiful. One was clear. He has his eye on each of his own and loves our humility. If your desire is to please your Lord he will use that in very significant ways. Listening to his voice and acting when he speaks. No matter how small you feel or how minuscule the task may seem, if he is in it, it is a thrill to be part of his idea and his army. 

I am so grateful that in his grace he pulled me up and gave me a new name. Where I felt fearful he called me warrior. He reminded me that my identity is in him not in what I do or haven't done. Where I felt a lack of hope he gave me reason to sing again. When I felt defeated he reminded me he wins in the end. 
Unusual weapons to fight this battle. Weapons like his Word. And listening to his Spirit who always speaks truth. Weapons like weakness and small people who might seem most insignificant.

I love the One who gives me all I need for this life and the next. 
How can I keep from singing his praise? 

Summer Camp 2013

We had our Family Camp out at a camp in Syracuse.
We were all a little sad thinking about our first family camp out without Benji. 
He loved these weekends and he leaves a big hole in our family.

We did have a good weekend  planned with lots of fun and activity.
To begin with we had bbq with a square dance in the barn.

After doing that for a couple of hours we were ready to sleep.
The next day we got divided into teams and played games.

The first mission was to find a soft shell for our eggs that we would drop later.
 Then we got busy with relays.
 And balloon crush.
 And random requirements we drew from a bag
 Here are the team colors
The Egg Drop

Here are some of the other activities of the weekend

 Slip and slide down the hill
 Head exams by Dale
 Riding the mini bike
 Dale doing his thing... "cuttin up"
Card Games

Corn Hole

And playing with hair.

 WE are glad these guys are back in the area. 
 And Megan sleeping so peacefully and smilefully
 On Jason and my little adventure on the 4 wheeler we spotted this beautiful Hawk... Eating some rabbit.
And just to spice it up  a bit we got some of the rooms locked that didn't have keys. So here was the locksmith who came to try to help... But couldn't.

 It's always important to find places to get away for some alone time :)

My mom and her sister, with a cute little face in the middle. :)

On Sunday at our church service we enjoyed my dad giving the input on Proverbs. It's always good to hear what he has to say. And Mike and Hanna led our worship time. At the end some of us sat around singing songs from our past. It was a glorious sound in this echoie room.

A place to belong... I am blessed to feel that from this clan.
My prayer is that God will use us for his kingdom not just for our sake but for the sake of many more.

And in the end we left with more good memories and sleepy people.