Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Christmas Wish

"Greeting cards have all been sent, the Christmas rush is through,
I still have on wish to make, a special one for you..."




In our home, the "Christmas magic" is upon us.  The boys are tucked away for the night and Elijah, who begged to stay up all night long, was fast asleep within minutes.  Gabriel, who is still a bit oblivious to all tomorrow holds, went to bed willingly.  Preparations for tomorrow's dinner has already begun.  The tree is lit and will stay lit all night.  The house is finally quiet.

A short Christmas memory...
We attended a sweet little Christmas "fest-ible" today.  The boys had a wonderful time playing with cousins, making crafts, and eating tooooo much sugar.  As we pulled in the driveway to come home, the power went out.  (Our town is still covered in a world of icy diamonds and cut glass from last weekend's ice storm.) At first it was a bit frustrating to come home to a home that was quickly becoming dark.  But Chris pulled out the camping lanterns and battery backup to keep this house feeling like home.  Elijah and I practiced his reading skills with a new set of beautiful flash cards.  Gabriel wandered the living room looking at the tree and garland, which weren't lit, and kept saying "uh-oh."  Our cell and home phones were useless.  The TV drained what little battery backup power we had in about 15 minutes.  I gave baths and changed diapers by the light of the lantern.  We played with the boys, wrapped our few last gifts, and simply enjoyed three hours of "no time".  It was literally as if time stood still.  Then, as Chris was reading the beautiful Christmas story from Luke, the power flickered on.  What a beautiful memory was made in our home - with no electricity.

My Christmas Wish for you...
My Christmas wish is that your life and home be filled with Christ's presence, His joy, His peace, and His grace.  May you be able to wrap your arms around the neck of a loved one and feel that love in return.  And last, but not least, may your stocking not bear one lump of coal!

He is the reason for the season! 



With all our love, Merry Christmas!
Nettie, Chris, Elijah, and Gabriel


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Giving Thanks

Over on Facebook, a lot of my friends have been listing something they're thankful for each day of November.  Believe it or not, there have been critics who post that "we should be thankful all year long" and openly refuse to participate.  Yes, it's true.  We should be thankful every day of our lives.  I agree and try to practice thanksgiving all year long.  But think about it... the very history of Thanksgiving is when the Pilgrims set aside a specific time to express their gratitude to their Heavenly Father.  Here are a few things I've listed that I am grateful for: 

Our home - I am thankful for a cozy home.  We've made so many memories inside these four walls.  I'm grateful for the hard work Chris put into this house to make it HOME.

I'm thankful for Chris.  My sweetheart.  My BFF.  God has blessed me with a Godly husband who is also a wonderful Daddy to both our boys. 

 Photo: Thankful for my sweetheart, Chris! God has blessed me with a Godly man who is a wonderful provider, an awesome daddy, and my BFF! I'm so grateful God put us together!

Godly parents - who in the toughest battles of their lives, have kept God first and trusted Him explicitly.  They are an wonderful example of Christians and parents.

I'm beyond blessed when it comes to material things... I sometimes think of all our stuff as "clutter" but the truth is, if I've ever needed anything, God has provided my needs.  And my wants too. 

Second hand clothing.  Wow.  I have been blessed to have a wonderful neighbor who passes on her son's clothing to me.  She buys quality clothing and lots of it.  Then passes them on to me at a fraction of the price.  If I took the same fifty bucks to Wal-Mart - or even a consignment store, my boys would have very little clothing.  As it is, their closets are overflowing.  I've also been blessed with two wonderful sister-in-laws who pass on their boys clothing.  I know there are people who have issues with second hand clothing, but I'm extremely grateful.  We've saved hundreds - maybe thousands - of dollars! 

Sundays.  One of my favorite days of the week.  A time to worship my Father.  A time to rest (sorta!).  A time to fellowship.  And of course, football.

I think it's very appropriate that Veterans Day falls in November.  I am so thankful for those who've given service to our country.  Their sacrifices humble me.  Who am I that they would fight for my freedom, my country, and my life?

Food.  Aren't we all thankful for food?  And I'm thankful for November sales.  I love to stock my freezer full of cheap food.  

Deer meat - not the cheapest food in the world, but seriously... I am thankful to have added 77.5 pounds of fresh deer meat to our freezer.  That will feed our family all year long.  

Opening morning's harvest  - including a 9 point buck!

And while we're on deer... I'm thankful for Elijah. He's a sweet lil 5 year old who absolutely loves to help with the deer. He is such an example to me. He patiently waited nearly two hours for us to have meat ready to grind. When he finished grinding, he immediately started helping me weigh the meat for bagging. The whole time he was singing and being silly... Making the whole job a lot more fun!! I was sad to see him go to bed (an hour and a half late because he begged to keep helping!).  This is the boy that made me Mommy for the first time.  He's brought so much joy to our lives.  I love this boy!

Photo: Deer processing!! It's a family business. I always dread it every year... But this was a small buck so it didn't take too long!! Elijah is our official "Grinder Man!"
Our lil helper!

The universe... our Creator has such a vast imagination.  I know my personal world is very small.  When I stop and think about all the amazing things God created, it really blows me away.  I'm so humbled by His creation.  Stars are just one thing that completely overwhelm me. 

Gabriel. Our little unplanned surprise.  What would I do without that little man? Today, I dressed him tiny jeans.  As he walked away in those little big boy pants, I was struck with awe over God's amazing plan to bless me with such a sweet baby.  What first seemed like such a shock has become one of our life's greatest blessings - in more ways than one. 



There are so many more things I'm thankful for.  This time of deliberate reflection on things I might have otherwise taken for granted has been good for me.  I must be one of the most blessed people on this earth.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fall Party vs. Halloween

We had quite a fun time at our Fall Party last night.  There was lots of food, crafts for the kids, a pinata, and some great fellowship.  I really hope this becomes an annual event for our church because it was honestly: a good time!  Thank you to John and Elisha Porter for hosting all of us at your home!

Elijah has reached the age where he's started asking "why can't I go trick-or-treating?"  And I'm doing my best to explain...

When I was a kid, I was allowed to dress up and trick-o-treat.  Dressing up was limited to "non-scary" costumes - although I do remember one year wearing a sheet as a ghost.  Chris, on the other hand, was raised exactly the opposite.  He tells stories of sitting at home with all lights turned out because they didn't want people stopping by for candy.  So when a couple with exact opposite feelings on Halloween marry, how do they settle their differences?  I wanted our kids to have the memories of trick-or-treating while Chris said there was no way.

As I explained to Elijah, the Halloween I knew and loved was so innocent.  There was no blood or gore. No amputated body parts. No murder scenes.  The scariest costume I remember seeing was a Frankenstein and a witch.  It was just about the candy and having fun acting out your character.   But now, even as an adult, I avoid the Halloween aisle like the plague.  Not because I'm scared, but because I'm actually quite grossed out by the amount of walking dead, zombies, blood, gore, and general ick I see.  It's been very easy for me to tell Elijah "we don't want to participate in that".  

I am not trying to change anyone's beliefs or trying to condemn anyone for trick-or-treating.  Because honestly, I'm still asking myself: what's so harmful in knocking on doors for free candy?  And what is the difference in having a Fall Party vs. a Halloween Party?  The Fall Party's I have enjoyed in the past have been basically the same as Halloween party's.  Except for one very big difference: no references to death, witches, blood, or the other spirit dimension.  So as I recited to Elijah, "whatsoever things are pure, good, lovely... think on these things"...  Of course, candy falls in that category too! Right?  Hahaha!

My lil hunters!

Craft Time!  Their hand/arm was the tree!

So careful with the glue and placement of leaves!
 
Pinata chaos!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Favorite Photos


Even though we live one block west of Main Street, the view from Gabriel's window is beautiful. Especially in the fall. In spite of the ugly pool, the colors of the tree's and sky are just beautiful!


 I went to the ladies retreat again this year.  It was a bit difficult to leave Gabriel for two whole nights, but he did so well.  Didn't cry for Mommy at all... until I got home.  Then it really upset his world to see Mommy walking out the door.  He just wanted to cuddle with Mommy.  It was sweet and of course, melted my heart.


The eastern sky at sunrise... the only nice thing about late mornings.  It is so hard to get up in the morning now that it's dark until after 7:00 AM.  But I do enjoy getting to see the sun rise.  A wonderful benefit of these cold, dark mornings.  Beautiful October sky!


One of my favorite photos... Daddy and his boys as they headed to church.  I am so thankful for a Godly husband who does a great job at being the best Daddy in the world.  He has developed a great relationship with both boys.  It's absolutely precious and priceless. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Boy... oh, boy! The joy of being Mommy!

My boys make me laugh... and cry... but lately, we've had a lot of laughs together.

10 apples on his head - at story time!

Elijah

  • Last night as we were eating dinner, Chris was trying to convince Elijah that he needed to eat.  He proceeds to tell Elijah "Buddy, you are growing so fast.  You need to eat to make you strong, and big, and smart." Elijah is agreeing heartily "oh yeah, uh-huh" until Chris got to "...smart." Then he said "oh YES.  I sooOOoo-per smart."
  • After our evening devotions, we were preparing to pray together.  Elijah became very concerned and asked Chris how long the prayer was going to be.  Chris replied "oh, not too long." Elijah, with a very sober, concerned look on his face replied, "Good. I hope it's not too long like JR's." (JR is a friend and visiting minister who spoke at our church this past Sunday.)
Enjoying a smoothie!


Gabriel
  • Gabriel is infatuated with brushing his teeth.  It may have something to do with cutting eye teeth and the toothbrush feels good on his gums.  In addition, he can now reach the toothbrush drawer.  He can't see in it, so he just uses his little hand to grab which ever tooth brush is on top.  It's nothing for me to turn around and find him with a toothbrush hanging out of his mouth.  Drool hanging down and slobber all over his shirt.  And yes, he even likes mine and Daddy's toothbrushes.  Ew!
  • He has started getting quite fed up with Elijah taking his toys, or treating him like a baby.  The other day I hear Elijah howling... and find Gabe a-whacking Elijah on the head with his cup!  I guess he'd had enough and retaliated!  (Right now they're "fighting" over a toy computer.  Gabriel keeps turning it off.  Elijah just told him "you're a bad boy.  You're going to bed!")
I looking forward to the annual ladies retreat I attend every year... and though I'm looking forward to the break, I know I'm going to miss my boys terribly.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Elijah Aaron Beard!

I know it's late, but I can't stop my mind from churning a million directions.  Memories of Elijah's birth are flooding me like the Mississippi after a week long rain.  I cannot imagine where the last five years have went.  I've been a mother for five years now.  Wow.  In fact, in 2 minutes, it will be exactly five years since the pains began.  Midnight. October 5, 2008.  I didn't deliver 10:30 PM via c-section.  A very long day, but worth every minute.  

Waiting for our little Elijah!

He's here!! And the family can't wait to meet him!

Holding my baby for the first time!


Daddy was smitten from the first moment!

Beautiful baby boy

I'm not sure if it's my tired state, or what the cause is, but I cannot seem to find the pictures of Elijah's first birthday party on my PC.  I know they are here because I see them on the photo gallery slide show/screen saver.  He was such an adorable little man!

2nd birthday - drum cake!

So excited to be celebrating!

Elijah brought such joy to our home. He loves to make people laugh and has such a grand time making us all laugh at him.  He has his father's personality.  A major cut up until you get him around strangers - then he's shy as can be.  Fortunately, the shyness only lasts a few minutes.  Then he acts like he's known you his whole life!

Birthday fun at the pumpkin patch

Big 3 year old boy!

The details Elijah remembers absolutely blows me a way.  Even though this trip to the pumpkin patch was two years ago, he can remember things about it.  I know he does because he'll tell me things about it that I know he couldn't have known, without having that memory.  Yes, indeed, this little man has an eye for detail and a photographic memory!

Scavenger hunt for birthday surprises!

Praying over his presents - asking God to make them what he wants them to be!

The coolest cake ever!
Dear Elijah;
I hope you will someday look back and KNOW that you were loved.  I hope that you will have fond memories of Mommy and Daddy loving you, playing with you, caring for you, and always being there for you when you needed us.  Parenting is still new to us and we know we will make mistakes, but know this: we will always love you.  God answered many prayers when He gave you to us.  He was so gracious and gave us the most handsome little boy on the earth.  He gave you a winning personality and a beautiful smile.  

Elijah, at this stage in your life, every day is new and it's all about fun.  There will be hard knocks ahead, but always trust and obey God.  He will see you through every challenge.  Keep your love for learning. It will take you far in life.  Keep your curious nature.  Keep trying to figure it all out.  Keep observing.  Keep trying to please God.  Keep and open heart and mind to others around you.  And above all my selfish requests: please keep being generous with your love.  I love to feel your arms around my neck.  Your impulsive kisses.  And the spontaneous "I love you, Mommy."  Keep sitting on Daddy's lap  - as long as you can fit!  Keep following in Daddy's footsteps.  Daddy will do his best to always lead you on the path of right. Keep loving on Gabriel.  Even though it's tough love at times, I don't want you to quit being the loving brother that you are. 

I love you, dear 'Lijah.  You're my baby now and always will be.  You're my sweet boy.  And even if Mommy sheds a few tears on your birthday, know that they are tears of joy and love for you. 

Happy 5th birthday Elijah!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Brothers

I'm really enjoying seeing the relationship between Elijah and Gabriel develop.  Elijah loves to play rough and tumble - and because Gabriel adores his big brother, he tries to play rough and tumble too.  It would be funny if Gabriel didn't end up crying all the time!  He's just not ready to play as rough as Elijah.   Elijah loves Gabriel so much and shows his affection on a regular basis by giving "love" in his own way.  Usually, that involves a (too) tight hug, and kisses to near bruise level.   


The picture taken at the left was at church.  They looked so handsome... but of course, I took it before church... while they still had on their ties, and shoes, and their shirts were tucked in!  Typical boys!

This week they had a lot of fun on Elijah's four wheeler.  As much as Elijah enjoys Gabriel, he still has problems actually sharing his big boy toys - especially his four wheeler.  But when I pointed out to Elijah how Daddy 'shares' his toys, he was happy to comply.  They had a blast!  Of course, curious Gabe had to try out the controls too.  


If anyone has any advice on helping your sons relationship develop, I'd love to hear it.  It's headed in the right direction now and I'd like to see it continue that way.  I pray over them and their relationship, but with the age difference, I know there will be rocky times.  


They share one love: toast!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A visit with my parents

A couple weeks back I was super excited to find out our pastor had invited Dad to speak in our church.  I think most of my readers know about Dad's accident back in December.  Needless to say, this would be my parents first visit to my home since the accident.  Actually, due to conflicting schedules, it would be my Dad's first visit since Gabriel was born!!  As I said, I was very excited. 

First step was to get a ramp built.  We started to invest in a nice permanent ramp but changed our minds.  You see, Dad is claiming a full recovery.  His faith has been so strong throughout the entire ordeal.  Building a permanent ramp just seemed to be a false statement of our faith.  So a temporary, portable ramp was what we ended up with.  Once Chris got started, it only took him about 45 minutes to an hour to build the ramps we needed.



We were fearful that Dad's hoyer lift wouldn't fit in our guest room.  Chris' parents (who live around the corner) opened up their home to my parents.  Their guest room is quite a bit larger and gave Mom and Dad the room they needed.

We had such a good time with my parents.  It was so nice to visit with them and give them a chance to be "grandparents" to the boys!  Precious memories were made this weekend.

Kisses and love from Papa


Granna took Elijah to Prairie Days to get a hunting rifle!

Playing Connect Four with Papa


Dad spoke for our church and also sang and played his harmonica.  I videoed the special but the video also included a lot of "heads" of the congregation.  I've asked a friend to provide me with her video of the special. I will post it as soon as she gets it to me.

I am claiming this verse for my Dad:


Exodus 15:26
And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt dothat which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon theEgyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Media Fast - for those who are wondering: what is that?

Last week, our pastor invited our congregation into his home to watch "Captivated".  I'd never heard of the movie before.  Chris and I were very moved by the content of this documentary.  The research behind the film is thorough and actually quite astounding.  Even though you look around and see phones and tablets of all kinds literally everywhere, to actually see the study behind the addiction was amazing.  One Army Chaplin even told a story of a soldier suffering with post traumatic stress disorder - even though he'd never been shot at or seen war.  The Chaplin discovered the cause of the disorder to be gaming.  The film also included testimony's of people overcoming the addiction of media - of all varieties.  

It was a wake up call to Chris and I.  He immediately declared a "media fast" as suggested by the film.  By media fast, I mean the TV, DVD player, Wii, even Wii battery chargers, were ALL unplugged.  We rely on the computer for schooling and bills, but it was not to be used for games and such.  We decided to keep our Facebook accounts, but significantly cut the amount of time spent on all social network and gaming sites (available on our iPhone's).  Chris wanted to try it through the end of the week.

I was asked if I could see a difference in our family since the media fast.  I answered honestly: Chris picked a very busy week.  At that point, I hadn't even missed movies or Facebook because we'd simply had so much going on and special visitors.  However, in observing our behavior the past couple days, I have noticed the following:

  1. Elijah's play time is much more creative and imaginative.  Even though we've always been very careful about screening his movies and games, I can see how they affected his play time.  Instead of acting out what he's seen, he's now coming up with his own play.
  2. We've spent more time together - making memories.  For example: this morning we had an hour of time that we were able to spend playing together, walked to the library, and the boys played outside for a while.  I can't tell you the last time I had an extra hour to simply play - without the pressure of "I should be doing other things" bearing down on me.  Which leads me to number three:
  3. I have so much more time.  It seems like I'd always use the phrase "I don't have time".  In reality, I now see how much time movies, games, social networking was stealing.  True, I may have been only watching a 30 minute episode on Netflix, or playing one or two rounds of my games... but when you combine it all together - I realize now I had hours tied up.  Since last Wednesday, I've read a book.  Hosted visitors.  Played games. Taught my son how to play Uno.  
Although the fast is officially over, the TV remains unplugged.  We've not discussed our next move.  Does this mean we won't ever watch movies again?  No.  We all enjoy watching movies from time to time, but I can tell you the movie time will be cut significantly.  Does this mean our Wii is for sale?  Honestly, I wouldn't care if we did sell it.  But that is a decision for another day.  :-)  I deleted the Facebook app off my iPhone because the little red circle with notifications was driving me crazy.  My OCD self was about at my limit with 79 notifications waiting for me.  I've thought about adding it back on my phone but I do not want to get caught back up in the Facebook game.  The constant checking, knowing what is going on with everyone around me. (I do use the Messenger app to communicate with my sisters - but even that has been cut drastically) 

I'm thankful God helped us see the path we were headed down while the boys were at a young age.  I pray He gives us the strength to keep our media usage in perspective.  I ask that He keep us aware of the tricks used by Satan.  We need His guidance in our life, every day.  

Please note this - I am not trying to condemn anyone or judge anyone who uses media.  I'm simply sharing with my readers about a significant change in our lives - but yes, it was a change for the better!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Life's Real Treasures


Since staying home, there are days/weeks where you look at the stack of bills and wonder "what were we thinking?".  Did we really do the right thing? I feel like we are still trying to find our financial footing.  I find that it's really easy to get too focused on what we don't have than what we do have. It's in those moments that I like to look around and focus on our real treasures.  You know, the priceless treasures that NO money can buy...

Mutual adoration...

Ready for deer hunting!!

Snuggle time

Learning to write!


Best Friends!


Yes, these are my real treasures.  


For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:21

Thursday, September 5, 2013

15 years... and counting!!!

15 years seems like such a monumental anniversary number. In today's secular world, it is a big number.  But when I think about Godly couples I know, who've been married 40, 50, 60, 70 years.... well, we've only just begun.  I truly want to be one of those couples who look back at their 15th anniversary and say "we had only just began!"  By God's grace, we will be!

So young

So in love


Our cake 

So handsome

So beautiful

With our parents

Jessica and Isaac

Ah... 15 years ago, I was rushing to get my hair curled, teeth brushed, veil in place... all those final details.  I remember getting up and running around Aurora with my mom, buying last minute items.  It was so stinkin' hot! Wow! Yeah... like 96 degrees!  And 250 people in the church.  I look back now and ask myself: what were we thinking?  For one thing, I know I never expected that many people to show up!!  I was wearing long sleeves... hair down.  Whew!  If I'd known then what I know now!

It was short and sweet wedding.  I surprised Chris by singing "The Waiting Is Ended" which was written by a friend of a friend.  And yes, I can remember all the words... because they're still true!

The Waiting Is Ended
(To the tune of "Thank You For The Valley")

I have waited for this moment when I would be your bride
To walk in love and honor, life's pathway by your side
I found our love increasing 
And the day is now here
And the waiting is ended, at last, oh my dear

Sweeter with each passing day
Nearer when I kneel and pray
Richer and deeper is our love
Given by God up in Heaven above
And the waiting is ended, at last, oh my love

He bawled like a baby through the entire song! Totally took him off guard.  He had no idea I was going to sing to him.  Brother Brown (the minister) laughed and chuckled through the whole thing.  He was pretty cracked up at Chris.

So much of it seems like a blur... In fact, I'm amazed at how little I remember when I look at the pictures.  I only remember bits and pieces.  I guess that's from so much happening at once. I'm grateful for the video (yes, VHS!) and photos that we have.  I've created a scrapbook and it's always fun to go back and re-live those precious wedding moments through the memories.  

In spite of the forgotten memories, the most important thing is: God blessed me with the man He knew I needed.  Neither one of us is perfect, but we're perfect for each other.  It's a miracle how God can take two totally different people and put them together.  He's quite the Matchmaker!  

Sweetheart; I love you!  I'm so thankful God gave us these years together.  You're my best friend.  My protector, provider, and the one that makes my day by walking in the room.  You're the meaning in my life... my inspiration... I'll love you forever and ever and ever!

I never want to let go of your hand!