Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty!

If ever there was a day to praise God and give thanks, it is today, and I am afraid if I don't get this down now I will forget the important details when I tell my children this story when they are older. It started out ordinarily enough. But after lunch when Ryan went to the grocery store for a few things, his card was denied. This was very strange to us because he had just done some handyman work yesterday and I had tuned a piano, (Did I mention I do that now? I love it!) so we knew we had money in the account. Until I checked and realized that an automatic credit card payment had gone through, completely wiping out our funds. Suddenly, we were in a mess. A downright ugly, menacing mess. And suddenly we were overdrawn, panicking, and having to face making some difficult choices. Like not going to visit family in Albuquerque for Christmas. Like using part of another credit card we have been working so hard to pay off to get us back in the positive. This afternoon we had $5 in our account and only one appointment to bring in some extra cash flow. Our outlook was very bleak, indeed.

Ryan had plans and Samuel came and picked him up. I got the girls all settled with a movie and then I went to my bedroom where I let the tears flow freely. I was so disappointed and overwhelmed! We knew Ryan had a job in the Air Force, we just didn't know when he would start or where he would go. We had no direction, basically. After working towards him finishing his degree and getting into the Air Force for the last four years, we really expected to have more answers than we do at this point. Anyways, all I could do then was fall to my knees and start praying. I felt like the weight of uncertainty would crush me. All I could do was think His name, "Heavenly Father..." because I didn't even know where to begin. He had blessed us with so much already, with Ryan's paperwork being approved and finally making it to MEPS. But I finally just prayed and poured out my heart to Him. I didn't see how we were going to make it. There were three bills that were threatening to break us, two credit cards and one utility. While I was on my knees, trying to listen for an answer, all that came was an unexplainable calm. It made me think of the scripture that talks about "the peace that passeth understanding". I've always loved that phrase, because of what it suggests. That even though things seem awful and desperate, that there is still a peace that can come to your heart. And that's what I felt. I honestly had no idea how we were going to make ends meet.

Then I thought about a blog post I read a few weeks ago, on my friend Becky's blog. It was about Corrie Tin Boom and her sister giving thanks in all circumstances and giving thanks for fleas in their bunks. So after pleading my case to Heavenly Father I started to think of my blessings. And I thought about how, if the electricity did get shut off, our rent was paid through the month. So we still had a roof over our head. And we have a fireplace. We could move the entertainment center to another wall. And we have a ton of wood on the side of the house from all the projects Ryan had been building. And we have a decent food storage stored up. We could heat cans of food in the fire if we really needed to. If everything we had got shut off, it would not be comfortable, but we could still survive. And I thought about an offer from one of my dearest friends that if things got so tight that we couldn't pay for everything, that we could live with them until Ryan got his orders. And I thought about all the family we have that I know would be to our side in a heartbeat if we asked for it. I thought about the love of three precious little girls, that is mine unconditionally. How excited they were to tree attack someone's door. We didn't need extravagant treats for that. We could still do a lot of things together that were 100% free, and 100% service oriented. And then I started to pray that I could remember joy, and optimism, and hope. That when I left my room, I would be able to smile genuinely with my beautiful girls.

Ryan came home, sent out a text and we discussed maybe getting a payday loan. I had looked into them, but with APRs of 608%, I was considerably reluctant. We are still trying to right the wrongs of some very, very stupid credit card mistakes we made years ago. But very quickly, we were running out of options of getting the money we needed in a hurry. He could get a job, but the first check would be two weeks after the electricity got shut off. So, I went to my friend's house to print out a bank statement. While I was there, Ryan called and told me he'd sold his guns for quite a bit more than what we needed. I knew this was a huge sacrifice for him. H.U.G.E. And he was willing to sell his XBOX 360. Thankfully, I was able talk him out of that. After we got the girls all in bed, Ryan went back to the grocery store. This time, an NMSU alumni chatted it up with Ryan in line and commented on Ryan's Aggies hoodie. He congratulated Ryan on graduating this semester and recollected his years at school and then paid for our groceries!

So two of the bills that seemed insurmountable were cleanly taken care of, and we had enough to pay the electric bill for this month and next and have some extra. We benefited from the kindness of a stranger, which we will pay forward, and we saw directly the hand of God in our lives. We avoided adding a nasty bit of debt and we will be able to see our loving family this Christmas! I've missed them so much! AND, thanks to the help of wonderful friends spreading the word for me, I have four more pianos scheduled to tune before the end of the month! All of this happened in just a few hours' time. How often does that happen that your prayers are so beautifully answered so quickly? We might have to wait another week or two to receive orders we were promised a couple weeks ago. But I feel like this was Heavenly Father's way of letting me know how very much aware of me and my little family He is.

My most favorite hymn is "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty". There are so many wonderful turns of phrase in it that are absolutely beautiful.

"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,
The king of Creation.
Oh my soul praise Him
for He is thy health and salvation...

All that hath breath
join with Abraham's seed to adore Him...

Ponder anew, what the Almighty can do...

Hast thou not seen
how all thou needest hath been
granted in what He ordaineth?"

And, of course, I also think of "Count Your Many Blessings":

"Count your many blessings
Every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing
As the day goes by."

I'm not entirely certain that last line is right. But it sure fits how I feel. I still don't know how we are going to make it all work. The Air Force personnel in charge of orders could still be slow even after the holidays. We may be in limbo for far longer than we anticipate. But I know that God is aware of us, and I know that we will be taken care of, whether it's under this roof or another. We are so very blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. It is no accident that we are where we are with who we are with. God is over all!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Leah's First Haircut

It was time. Leah's hair has gotten really long, and as a busy 3 year old, a little bit in the way. Not to mention her big sister cut a chunk of her hair in the middle of her forehead for her because Leah asked her to. I know. So, I pulled out the shears and cut bangs for her and evened out the rest of the length. I think it turned out adorably!
EDIT: I should have taken before pictures, but her hair was down to the top of her tushy. I cut off four inches from the length of her hair. When her hair is dry it's a lot shorter because she has natural waves and curl. 

First Snow, Part 2

We convinced the girls to wait a few hours til there was enough snow to play in because they were constantly wanting to come in and out. So, for about 4 hours, Monica and Leah were glued to the windows. They were mesmerized. Jillian thought it was pretty cool, too!

The First Snow of the 2011-2012 Winter Season- Part 1

We got snow a day earlier than expected. And it was awesome. Monica got them all bundled up, except for gloves, and they were so giddy and happy trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues.

The timing of the snow couldn't have been more perfect. I was starting to reach my limit for needing a mental health day and this was just such a perfect photo opportunity. There is something about taking pictures of your children that reminds you how beautiful and innocent they are. That re-opens your eyes to the part of them that makes your heart pitter patter for them, instead of the part that is making your hair fall out. I think I've found my new form of therapy! These girls are so fun and their laughter is so infectious. How can I be frazzled when looking at these sweet smiles?!

Holly, our Elf on the Shelf

Guess who came from the North Pole to visit us this Christmas season?
Her name is Holly. 
And she's an elf.
And she sits on the shelf.
Or the fan.
Or the fridge.
Or the Barbie house. 
She's all over the place!


Nothing makes us all laugh more than when Jillian just randomly does this...in the kitchen, the living room, under the table, in the hallway. So funny!

Jillian is One Year Old!

It seems like every year of each of my children's lives goes by faster and Jillian's first year is no exception. She is blossoming into such a fun girl! She loves cats, her big sisters, wrestling with Daddy, and smiles so sweetly. She also loves to wave and pretend she is talking on our phones. She gets her feelings so hurt if you put her down when she is not ready, or if you sternly say "no" when she smacks your face. It's really endearing. For now. HA! She also really loves to empty drawers, and plink the keys on the piano. 

We so love our silly Jilly! She makes us laugh and brings such joy with her. 

This year, we kept it simple. We really couldn't go all out like I wanted to. So we had cupcakes together as a family. Jillian really liked hers! She attacked that cupcake with ferocity. She wasn't too smiley because she was ready for a nap. But it was so much fun to watch her devour her cupcake.

Jillian's Birthday

After the cake, Jill needed a little cleaning up. 
She thoroughly enjoyed her cupcake.

For Jill's birthday gift, I found this fun drum/percussion set. I figured it was about 9 toys all wrapped up in one. And ALL the girls loved it. Loved it.

Nana and Papa sent this beautiful dress, some onesies, and super cool walking toy that I have pictures on my phone, but not my nice camera. I'll get some of those up soon. 
Happy first birthday, sweet girl!

Thanksgiving- Part 1

We had so much fun for Thanksgiving!
Jeff and Jodi came down from Ramah on Wednesday and were able to stay with us until Saturday. It was a great time, playing Canasta, having a mini Harry Potter marathon, and Black Friday shopping. Thanks for coming to visit, guys! We love you so much!

Thanksgiving-Part 2

One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the chance you have to reflect on all your many blessings. And this year it was even more special by getting to spend it witnessing one of my most favorite families be reunited. 

Chase and Lesa

Ashlynne and Lesa

I've never been able to watch from the tarmac. 
Welcome home, Doug!!

Isaac and Lesa.

There he is. Seconds away from...

Love you, Millers!

Thanksgiving- Part 3

The kids had so much fun for Thanksgiving and the weather was perfect for them to run around and eat outside.