Decking the Halls?

I have been so neglectful of my blog. I just have no time to sit alone and "think". And during the time I can"think", I'm not thinking about the blog. Although, I need to update more as looking back on my posts encourages me because I can see "progress" being made.
We had a really nice Thanksgiving with my Mom, step Dad, our kids (most of them anyway) and some friends.
Looking at this now just makes me smile because
it was the first Thanksgiving for Arielle and we really do have a lot to be thankful for. When she first came home I walked in a daze thinking about the loooong road ahead. And it was a rough one indeed. Our time in China was frightening to me. I had no idea why God would lead ME to such a task. I had no idea where  to begin. But I purposed in my heart each day to look FORWARD not back. And now...oh, more later.....back to Thanksgiving.

Meals like thanksgiving make me nervous and a bit stressed. I hate cooking. I'm not being extreme. I really hate it. I don't mind preparing small unimportant meals... but Thanksgiving is important. And I always feel like everything is cold before I can get it all on the table. How does one bring it all to the table HOT at the same time! All in all it worked out fine. We even had Chinese dumplings but I think I'm going to skip that next year. They just seem to prolong everything even more. Made the food even colder :)

A picture of my son and his new fiance', in the perspective of our 6 year old....who took the picture. We have a wedding to look forward to in 2012! April!
We actually decorated a Thanksgiving Tree this year, which then transformed into a Christmas Tree a couple days after Thanksgiving. Arielle LOVED the decorating. There wasn't much about the holidays she didn't love :)

This is our living room tree, skinny, and made fun of quite often. But I like it. It spins to show ornaments on all sides. And it's skinny, keeping my living room clutter free and roomy! Brad is trying to secure the Angel!
I also had a birthday in Dec. Arielle was very excited to give me my gift. She almost opened it for me!
I think Asher's favorite part of Christmas is making cookies, and EATing them! Mine too!

We also have a Family Room Tree that's big and fat and real to make the rest of the family happy :)
Evan is so big this year. I look at Christmas pictures of last year and he looks so old to me now. My baby is growing up!

We lit our Advent Candles this year all at once because we are so inconsistent. And the kids loved doing it this way. We've been lighting the candles during the season since the older kids were little... maybe 1993 or 1994.  It's one of those traditions that keeps us focused on Christ throughout December. It's so easy to get distracted through all the craziness of the season. I found myself overwhelmed at times this year, But God is good and drew me back to what is necessary.
I've been telling the kids for 28 years that Daddy is Santa. This year they believed me. Finally, hehehe!

We had a rough time the week before Christmas. Asher developed pain and then a fever and I thought for sure he would be spending Christmas at the hospital. But praise God he recovered! After a multitude of prayers I'm giving God all the Glory!
back to what I was saying before....Christmas Eve. This picture is out of order, but  I look at it and see how far we've come. We are having Arielle evaluated in January. She has some learning issues, which may have been part of her problem when she first came home. Little by little we are all learning, and she's matured leaps and bounds. The biggest plus about an older child adoption: they truly understand the importance of "family". She's never had a family before, it's obvious she's thought about it all her life. She understands and appreciates having one now and is willing to learn and change some things in her life in order to be part of it. She also understands that it was Jesus who lead us to her. It was Jesus who brought her home. And as she grows in knowledge we teach her more and more  what salvation is all about. She is still reading her Bible everyday. I can't say it isn't hard, because it IS HARD, but so worth is to see her heart changing. I'm curious to what God has for her future.

Making Christmas cookies to leave for Santa Daddy :)

There is an awesome place close by where several families decorate there homes and yards with holiday lights. And every inch of it proclaims that Jesus is the Reason for the Season. We make it a point to go every year!

Many years ago, when the "bigs" where little, we started a tradition of cutting ribbons before we went into Christmas. The kids get up, find a stocking left by Santa somewhere on their bed, open the little gifts inside (this gives us time to wake up and make some coffee!) We gather together and read out of Luke, and Pray. Then we cut the ribbons to enter Christmas! I originally did this to prevent the kids from going downstairs before we are up. Now it's another tradition. It's changed a bit throughout the years but still basically the same. We tape up ribbons to decorate the doorway opening, then each child gets a turn to cut the ribbons.  Another first for Arielle :)
I think she got everything she wanted!
And the boys got really cool scooters this year.

 Levi got a scooter too but he wasn't so excited, he said he would fall!
 I was also sad we didn't get Amy's "happy" christmas face this year but we did get this one! not really sure.....
 The best present!
 Daddy Santa is really tired after being up all night flying around the world!
 Brad and Melissa unwrapping their presents.... our last Christmas with our son at home... times are changing. But change is good, right?

Next post will most likely be 2012! Hope, and a time of fulfillment! that's what's been on my heart, I believe that for 2012, I believe it!


kayder1996 said...

Arielle's story just warms my heart. Older kid adoption is something I hope we get to do. ...I think.... It sounds so daunting but then I read stories like yours that are hard but full of goodness and joy and that makes me think maybe someday.
Merry Christmas!

Kathy C. said...

I've never adopted a child older than 5 so I haven't been through what you have. We did try to move a step child into our family when she was 11 and there was a lot of manipulation, lying etc but that was a whole different situation. I imagine there are some of the typical teen issues added to getting used to a family, a new culture etc. I bet there are times you are totally overwhelmed. If you're like me, those are the times you are overly tired. Sometimes I wonder what in the world I've done, but once I'm rested it looks more manageable.

Blessings to you and your family. Hope the new year rocks for you.

Blessed mom said...

Thank you Terry for the post. It's so good to see Aerielle adjusting so well. Just by looking at the pictures, you can certainly tell she is very happy to have her own family. She's a sweetheart!!!

Tracy said...

Terry it looks like an amazing Christmas! Cant wait to talk to you about it. Luke and Arielle can discuss what they loved about Christmas! I think Luke loved EVERYTHING about Christmas! Our kiddos are growing and changing and maturing! I pray for your family often Terry and love to see them on Sunday and see all the changes! See you soon!