Unfortunately our camera is not functioning currently and our silly computer crashes every time I try to upload pictures. So, this time you'll just have to read without looking at adorable pictures. I had written a note in Face book, but I know several don't have that, so I thought it best to put it in here too. I am continually amazed at how the Lord provides for us beyond just the needs!
I marvel each and every day at how our Savior provides for the needs and the deep desires of our hearts. A few days ago we pretty much figured Christmas gifts for the kids this year was going to be very scarce if at all due to finances and such. Yet, I truly believed and began praying that the Lord would provide something little to wrap and surprise our munchkins. Ma and Pa Carpenter (our dear Southern parents) have a fun play kitchen that our kids love to play with every time we go for a visit. Andrew would stand there and "cook" for hours if we let him---takes after his momma! Brian and l looked and tried to price them, but were too overwhelmed and just began to pray that the Lord would provide a nice one from a thrift store or something. Ma called me Friday night and said that they picked one up for us for only $8! I couldn't believe it, and then I thought again-"Why are you so surprised?"---The Lord always seems to give me more than I ever ask or think. That was just the beginning of what seemed to be a waterfall of blessings all for Christmas morning.
Twice a month I go to a Baptist church about 30 minutes away to a Clothing closet. I am able to get a package of diapers and wipes for each child along with 2 pairs of shoes, socks, outfits, jackets, blankets, snack foods, jars of food, and the list can go on. The first week I went I got a double seated stroller---all for free! It is set up like a normal thrift store and you walk around and take what you need. Anyhow, I went today after not being able to go the last two times due to sick children and Andrew's surgery. I just expected the normal routine of sitting in line for a while and waiting for my name to be called. I was the first one there and soon realized that they had a separate sign-up sheet for Christmas toy shopping. Hmmm is all I said and had no clue what I was getting into, but signed my name for 11:15 (the first available time). It was 9:30 when I got there and they don't open til' 10 so I knew we were in for a long morning of waiting. Because I hadn't been here the time before people had already signed up for the earlier spots, but that's okay, I figured they are being a blessing to me, I can patiently wait. It was sad to watch all the crabby people. It's hard to believe how ungrateful people can be to individuals who are bending over backwards to be a blessing and meet very specific needs. But, because of my patience and my children's behavior they escorted me downstairs (before my turn) and told me to do my shopping. I was so excited, being patient and kind definitely paid off. I entered their fellowship hall and my mouth probably dropped to the floor. I had thought the toys were hand me downs or donated items like the clothing closet. Nope, I was indeed incorrect! There were tables stuffed packed of beautiful Walmart and Target toys. They had a table filled with snacks, muffins, hot chocolate, juice and much more for us to enjoy. In the far corner was a whole section of games and toys for the kids to play with while their parents shopped. Andrew and Chloe quickly found a nice elderly man who played Lego's with them the entirety of my shopping experience. I was first able to pick out 2 stocking stuffers for each of the kids. I grabbed 2 matchbox cars, crayons and a book. Then Chloe's age table I was able to pick two things. I got some fun learning toys and blocks for her. Then off to the bigger toys for the older kids. They had so much to chose from. I was allotted 10 points and could pick from any of the toys. They had trains, but not Thomas stuff, so avoided that table for something different. We had just talked yesterday about trying to get him a baseball bat and balls. He loves to swing things at his balls in the house. Well, there it sat in the center of the 10 point toy table. A t-ball set! I snatched it up, and was overwhelmed with joy and a true understanding of thankfulness. Wow! On top of that they gave us a roll of wrapping paper and sent us on our way. The kids wanted to stay and play, but I knew I still had shopping to do---upstairs in the clothing closet. We put the gifts in the car (neither of the kids saw any of them) and headed back inside. I got two packages of diapers, wipes, a few pair of pants, 2 pair of shoes for Andrew in beautiful condition, tights, sweaters, a cute Gap sweatshirt for Chloe, a bunch of applesauce and other jarred food, a train book for Andrew and a cute santa hat for Chloe. I walked away with so much stuff and didn't have to pay a penny! It is so neat to be a child of the King and watch Him provide for the needs and "silly" desires.
This past weekend was our Church's cantata. It was amazing and we saw many visitors attend. Sunday morning was the Children's play. For the past week and a half, we have diligently worked on Andrew's stuff with him. Grandma Swaringen is the best Sunday school teacher ever. It is easy to entrust my little ones to her. She does amazing and truly has been blessed with a special gift for working with children. Andrew's class was to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and a cute action play about Mary and Joseph. Andrew did great every time we practiced at home, but I was a little concerned he'd get on stage in front of a couple hundred people and just stand there and goof off. I was praying hard! We had a hard time explaining to him that he had to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and not to him. He kept saying Happy Birthday to ME instead of you (Jesus). His birthday is Monday, and we have been getting him pretty excited for that, so that is what his almost 3-year old mind is continually on right now. The first time they sang it he did amazing. He sang it correctly. Then, Grandma Swaringen said that they didn't sing loud enough so they were going to sing it again. Before they sang it she asked, "boys and girls, whose birthday is it?" You guessed it! Andrew threw up his arms and yelled, "My birthday!!" It was hilarious and utterly cute, and yes, of course, everyone laughed. He regained "seriousness" and sang the song only this time, he sang Happy Birthday to ME! He did great with all the motions and most of the words for the little play. We were so proud of him. He was able to get a special treat from our prize trunk at home. All his Grandparents would have been so proud of him. Brian did get video and will try to upload it sometime in the near future.
We are getting ready for a few very busy weeks. We have been doing a great deal of baking for Christmas parties and such. Our Nu Delta teens are coming over all this weekend, and I am getting very excited. We are having a gift exchange and party on Friday night and spending most of Saturday on missions projects, playing, verses, and a yummy Christmas ham dinner. It is always a time of fun and memories!
Andrew's birthday is Monday, but we decided to go ahead and celebrate on Sunday after church. He wanted a few of his friends over so we are getting set for that. He begged me for a black choo choo train cake! We talked him out of black and settled for lots of different colors. So, I will attack that after the teens leave on Saturday night. We were going to play pin the tail on the donkey, but I really wanted to do something with trains. So, I drew my own rendition. We are calling it pin the conductor in the train. It is really cute, and will be loads of fun.
Chloe and Andrew are doing great. It is a rainy day today so we are just relaxing. We decorated our little tree yesterday and wrapped our presents and are ready for Christmas. For those of you who we will not see may the Lord give you a Blessed Christmas. We love you all so very much! Til' next time...