If I had to sum up what this year has brought me in one word it would be JOY. Not because everything has been perfect. There were some times in there that were far from it. But in God's mercy and goodness He brought us through the happy and sad times with a constant joy. Joy in His perfect providence, His unfailing love, and His undeserved grace.
I can't imagine going through life without His fatherly hand upon me and my family guiding every step of the way. And I know I never have to. I could jump out of my chair and dance all around right now with the joy that is bubbling up inside me just knowing He cares for me! I pray you can know this great joy too and if you do not know God personally that He would make Himself known to you. That you would find salvation through His perfect Son Jesus Christ and that you too would be over flowing with a love for Him that you've never known before!
So as we enJOY a little bubbly in our hearts around here we are also enJOYing some sweet comforts of home in this winter time. Karina loves her some hot chocolate. Oh and is also very happy with her little braids. :)
I tried my hand at some home made minestrone soup this week and I'm so glad I did. It made the house smell amazing and it tasted even better! I knew my sweet mom would enjoy a nice hot bowl of this so we called her up and invited her to lunch.
I even picked up a lovely red table cloth especially for it. J/K I found this on clearance the night before. :) But we did have a lovely lunch with her and enjoyed our soup again that night for dinner with Jeff but with grilled cheese that time.
I have also been enJOYing some cozy time by the fire working on some knitting for the shop. And yes I leave up my decorations well into January. I also need a little something sweet when I sit and knit. :)
Here Karina is having a good time with a gift she received from her Nana. It is the cutest little cupcake decorating set. The little/big icing markers are made to draw on the cupcakes and wipe right off when you're done. So cute!
We have also been busy writing thank you cards around here. Karina added a little art work to this one.
Our Christmas Day was filled with much JOY spending time with our family. Here is a little recap of our time with them. These aren't even close to all pictures that I took, but I don't think you need an overload of us all opening every gift either. I was so blessed that even after a night of not feeling so great Jeff was able to come out and have some precious family time with us.
Before the whole family arrived we read the Christmas story out of the bible and talked a little bit about it. It is so important to us for Karina to know the reason for this special day and that Jesus' birth, life and death was the greatest gift ever given. Our gifts are but a tiny, almost meaningless, glimpse of the love He has shown to us.
She looks soooooo grown up to me in this picture!
Before touching the big gifts this girl was ready to eat. We had fun singing and celebrating Jesus birthday with a candle and all.
After we had our own little family time and got ready for the day the whole gang showed up and with them all of these. Jeff's mom bought all new stockings this year and they are so cute! I really love Karina's with the puppy on it. It even looks like our dog Jazz.
The kids were just a little excited about these too and all the goodies inside.
Then the gift giving began. I was very impressed with how patient the kids were. You can tell they have grown in that in the last year.
It really was a blessing to have all of Jeff's family in our home this year. The day was rainy and wet outside but we had a great time just relaxing and Jeff was also able to get a good nap in while we ate our big meal. I think it worked out well that we were in our own home so that he could get that rest in his own bed.
He also decided to surprise me and Karina with a gift that I wasn't expecting. In his sneaky little way, while out buying our new TV a month ago, he decided to get a great deal on a Wii. So he tucked it away and with some new games to go with it wrapped and stuck them under the tree. I had no idea and so it was fun to find that.
I have only played it a couple times, but he and Karina are really getting some use out of it. It also made for some fun on that wet cold day with everyone over.
Lunch was cooking while we were busy doing all of that and what a yummy feast it was. With the table all set in my new linens and looking very Christmassy we were ready to feast feast feast!
Of course we had to have the music playing softly in the background. :)
I was so happy to fill this table with those I love!
All set and ready! The kids wasted no time digging in and using their new candy cane curly straws Nana tucked in their stockings.
And a toast to God's goodness and mercy! JOY written all over this!
Pappy and Ethan enjoying some home made sweet potato pie!
It was a really great day though not perfect with my sick hubby. But there was JOY just being together!
The day after I snapped the picture of Karina that I thought I had missed out on. I love to take a picture of her in front of the tree each year and look back on how much she's grown. And I hadn't done it yet. But was so glad when she was so willing to give me a sweet smile.
She sure is growing up and into such a precious big girl too. I take such JOY in teaching her the ways of the Lord and showing His love to her. Though I may not always do it quite like I should I pray He will shine His great light in her heart and she too will grow up to know the JOY He brings!