Thursday, December 23, 2010

What a Month!!

It's been quite a busy month for the Loughrys, as I am sure it has been for you and your family too.  I hope that you all have had time to remember why we celebrate Christmas...that God gave us the biggest gift ever and that without Jesus' birth everything else wouldn't matter.  His birth led to our salvation, our hope, and our reason for living
Merry Christmas!

We spent 2 quick nights in KY on our way from TX to WV. We got to have breakfast and open gifts with Matt and Rachel...

...spend a bit of time with forever friends Riley (pictured) and his family...

 ...Palmer and her family...

...Lauren (pictured) and her family...and MANY more!!

 After 20 hours of driving, we ended up in snowy West Virginia.
We have had fun playing games, wrapping last minute presents, going to CandyLand, and playing in the snow!

 Before we left for WV, Donny and I went to his company Christmas party.  We enjoyed our first date out since Donny left in May, dancing, eating yummy food, and winning $75 in gift cards!  :)

 We also had fun decorating our new house (our first mantle ever!) and putting up a new tree, in 80 degree weather!

 We baked and decorated gluten-free sugar cookies and reindeer brownies with our g-free friends Gillian and Luke.  All the kids loved that everyone could eat all the cookies!

 I spent time this month reading Mary Beth Chapman's book Choosing to See.  It has been an amazing and tough read about the loss of their precious Maria.  It is a story of grief, tragedy, and hope.  When I finished reading her account of her daughter's death, I was just had to go and pray over our the kids and take their pictures as they slept.  I know our kids are God's and we have dedicated them to Him but the thought of really sending them to Heaven before we go is tough.

 Oliva had a Literacy Night at her school last week.  The kids all wore their pajamas, had milk and cookies with Santa (the art teacher) and Mrs. Claus (the gym teacher), read books with flashlights in the darkened library, played a memory game, and listened to Mrs. Miller, Liv's principal, read a book.  (Boston refused to have his picture with Santa...)

It's been a great month spending time with new and forever friends, having Donny and the kids on vacation, and seeing family.  We hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas and wish we could have seen ALL of you this month!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Miscellaneous Junk

Well, I've been mulling around that phrase "miscellaneous junk" for over a week now.  You see, last week during Bible study at church, I saw a box at the front of the room labeled "MISC JUNK."  I leaned over to Ruthann and asked, "Did you see that box?  Why are they keeping miscellaneous junk??!!"  The idea seemed ludicrous. 

At the top of my Bible study, I wrote, "MISC JUNK-Why keep it?" and have spent this week "blogging in my head" about how we all keep things that we just don't need - college textbooks that we barely even opened while we were IN college, a single sock just in case we ever find the other, broken items that we plan to fix "some day", empty cardboard boxes in case we ever have something to fill them with, fifty of the same pictures our kids drew-when one would suffice, junk mail that we "may go back to sometime"...  You get it, the list can go on and on.  I didn't even include all the "extras" that we keep around that we don't really need that could benefit others.  I, like my mom, am a "thrower/giver awayer."  I like neat and orderly spaces, shelves that are not too cluttered, and empty space on the closet floors.  Junk stresses me out.

I don't think that Jesus intends for us to keep miscellaneous junk either.  I'm sure he doesn't want us to hoard when we could be offering our "extras" to others.  However, I also think he doesn't want us to carry around all the miscellaneous emotional junk that burdens us either - what someone years ago said about how you dress, how someone yelled at you and put you down, our regrets from the far past or even yesterday.  He wants to clean us and carry our burdens.  Why do we insist on carrying all our junk around instead of just laying it at his feet?

You know what?  I think we like it.  In a distorted and somewhat sick way, I think we like having some "pity me" things to fall back on.  Things that we can use as excuses for not finishing a job or for saying/treating others unkindly or to reason our way out of serving others.  Is that too harsh?  I don't think so.  Stop and think about it.  What junk are you carrying around that you should have "donated to Jesus" a long time ago? Is your junk harming someone else?  Could Jesus use you more if you weren't carrying around such a load?  Probably so.


All that said, however, something happened on Sunday that made me think about miscellaneous junk a different way.

Sunday after church we went to my grandpa's to celebrate Christmas with him since we won't be here on the 25th.  We brought lunch, a filled stocking, baked good, and a few presents.  As we prepared to give him our gifts he said we needed to wait a minute and then shuffled down his hall to his room.  He came back with wrapped gifts for each of us.

Now, I need to stop for a minute here and explain.  If you haven't had the chance to hear about past Christmases involving my TX grandparents, you may have missed what I just wrote.  He had WRAPPED gifts.  While growing up, my grandma would send gifts either unwrapped and we would try to guess who they were for or wrapped in paper towels and tube socks.  No joke!  So, to see the crude way that my grandpa had wrapped these gifts in red and green paper, just made me choke up.

After he made it to "his chair" we gave him our gifts, excited that he was happy and really seemed to like or need each one.  Then he proceeded to give us our gifts.  I couldn't believe he had taken time, energy or emotion to think through gifts for each of us.  He gave Donny a worn fleece and a used screwdriver.  He wrapped up a blanket he was given on his recent DC trip and an apron that was given to my grandma years ago to me.  He gave Boston a train set that he had purchased at his friend's estate sale 20 years ago.  Boston ran and hugged grandpa - another site to make me tear up - and was overjoyed.  Grandpa was just thrilled at Boston's reaction.  For Olivia, he had a Dream Catcher and a small white bunny that he bought from Goodwill years ago to use in a magic show.  She was all smiles and immediately named Hunny Bunny and told grandpa bunnies were her favorite animal.  Again, on grandpa's was the image of pure satisfaction.

What does this have to do with miscellaneous junk?  Well, all of his gifts to us were things he just found in his house.  For many of us, most of those items would be packed up and given to Goodwill or stored in the corner of an attic.  However, on Sunday, Grandpa's miscellaneous junk turned into treasured gifts for our family of four.  The picture of him slowly moving through his home to find each of us the "perfect" gift and then struggling to cut and tape the wrapping paper around our gifts is priceless...a Christmas to hold dear.

Do you think that when the shepherds approached to the old "barn" that Jesus was born in, they wondered if they had made a mistake?  If they had just followed a star leading to miscellaneous junk?  I sure am glad they took the time to go inside and investigate.  What they found in that dirty manger was the most amazing, priceless, generous gift that anyone has ever been given.

Thank you, Jesus, for taking the miscellaneous junk we carry around and giving us new life and hope in you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

JOY. Do You Have It?

I was working on the lesson for KidzView (our church's kids' program) last night and came across this "blurb" in the materials.  [It's not mine, it is from 252Basics.]

When you think of God’s character, does joyful come to mind? We may think of a powerful God, a stern God, even a loving God, but joyful? (1) Joy can be defined as finding a way to be happy, even when things don’t go your way. (2) Have you ever thought about what makes God joyful? His creation? (See Genesis 1:31.) Our regard and respect for Him? (Read Psalm 147:11.) Someone—just one person!—turning away from sin? (Check out Luke 15:10.) God, the Creator of joy, (3) wants us to have joy, even when times are tough: “Let us hold firmly to the hope we claim to have.” Why? Because “the One who promised us is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23, NIrV). In other words, we can expect God to keep His promises. In a sense, that’s what the birth of John was all about: God keeping His promises. (4) When you have joy in the middle of your struggles, people will notice. They’ll wonder why you’re happy, and you can tell them it’s because God keeps His promises. This week, help kids realize that even though waiting can be hard, like it was for Elizabeth and Zechariah, the perfection of God’s plan is always worth the wait.

So, do YOU have that kind of joy?  Do I? Made me stop and think.  I seem to have more joy in times of true, tough trial and then in the everyday humdrum of life I get caught up in trying to "fix things" or questioning "why."  Waiting is tough.  Whether we are waiting for the work week to end or for chores to be finished or for a cake to bake or for prayers to be answered--waiting is not fun.  But did you read what the above passage said?  "We can expect God to keep His promises!"  Let's have joy DURING the waiting and EXPECT God to do what He has promised.  Joy and expectation during the waiting...let's strive for that.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

We are Thankful For...

We just finished a delicious (if I do say so myself!) Thanksgiving dinner here in TX.  Donny and Grandpa are watching the Cowboys play, the kids are watching "Snow Paws", and I am here blogging with you before I finish mapping out my shopping plan for tomorrow!  (I actually just posted another one too so be sure to scroll down!)
We wanted to let you know that we are so thankful for YOU, among other things.  The kids made little place cards for the kitchen table this morning and then we each took time to tell what we were thankful for.

Here's a little snippet of our thankfulness...

 Olivia Jade, 7 1/2
 "I am thankful for fishes, you guys, and so many other things." 
(Not sure where the 'fishes' came from?!)

 Boston Franklin, 4 1/2
 "I'm thankful for my monster truck, Olivia, and my toys."

 "I am so thankful for all the blessings that God has given us."

 "I am thankful for the health of family, a good job, making new friends and keeping old friends, a good house, a fun family, and Mommy." 

 Grandpa, 90
 "I am most thankful for family in Texas and for good neighbors.  I have so many more things to be thankful for.  I have relatively good health too."

(Don't let that little angel look on the left fool just can't see his tail feathers that make him a little turkey!)

Thanksgiving Feast!

Boston was so excited last week to have me attend his Thanksgiving Feast at his school.  The three 4-year old classes sang songs, told the "Thanksgiving Story", and sat with their guests for a small feast.  Boston was a complete ham for the video camera I brought.  He was so proud of his first "on stage performance!"

All of the parents were made "head dresses."  I was so lucky to be able to wear such a lovely construction paper Pilgrim bonnet while eating with my little Indian.  :)

Boston made this cute little turkey and that morning before school, we made g-free apple pancakes, mini pumpkin muffins, and popcorn to bring so that he could have the same feast food as his peers. He loved it all!

To wrap us a sweet Mommy & Son Day, Boston's dinner prayer brought me to tears.  He said, "Dear Jesus, thank you for this food and thank you that Mommy could come to my feast.  Amen."  For a mama who has always wanted to do the things that "stay-at-home-moms" get to do, that prayer was another confirmation that we are so blessed and are in God's palm.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Terrbile Injustice...

I'm ashamed to say it. Donny and I have committed a terrible injustice when it comes to our children. I was unaware of it until I took them outback today to play a bit of baseball. Olivia has been playing kickball at school so I thought, "Oh there are similarities, this should be easy." WRONG! I laughed so hard for an hour that I almost...well, you get the picture. :) Now, mind you, both our kids have gloves, and we have bats, and balls. We have played catch and had them practice hitting for years. I guess, however, that we have never really tried to play an actual game. Probably because it's hard to play with just 4 people. Even harder with just 3, let me now tell you from this afternoon's experience. Especially when only one of those players understands the rules! At the beginning, Boston was up to bat, Liv was in the field, and I was the pitcher. I had the where-with-all the have them hit AWAY from the pool but that was where my wisdom stopped. As the "game" went on: Bos was calling "Stripe one, Stripe two,...", Liv was running the bases carrying the bat, Boston carried first base with him as he ran, Liv hit the ball (an awesome hit) HARD right into my gut, Bos had his glove on upside down, Liv was standing at home plate in a ballet stance as she tried to hit, Bos was running around "the outfield" showing off his new Cars underpants, Liv was pitching to me so high that I felt as though she thought I was a giraffe, Boston was "relieving himself" in right field, the ball knocked a branch off a banana tree and a light bulb off a solar light in the garden, Liv "tagged Boston out" while I was holding the get the picture!!! All that said though, there was never one argument, one time of drama or tears, one moment of throwing something in frustration, one unkind word muttered or yelled. It was an absolutely perfect afternoon! And to top it off?? It was sunny and almost 80 degrees out! So, yes, the kids need work on how the game of baseball is played, but overall, I see the afternoon as a total success. We had fun, we laughed with each other, we came in with dirty hands and knees, and we can't wait to play again another afternoon. Who cares if we don't really know how to play? I bet we had more fun in an hour than many of those "professional" teams do in an entire season. PLAY BALL!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lots Going On!!!

Olivia sculpted all of us out of Play Dough! She absolutely LOVES art, in any form!!
Gillian and Olivia at the 2nd grade Square Dance Performance. They did great!
Olivia, the square dancer. She was so talented! Seriously! She and her partner, Jeremy, were great! They did three dances for the "parent audience."
This is far away but it gives you a picture of her gym and her gym teacher, Ms. Hartwell, there on the right.
I thought you may like to see a bit (I didn't put on the entire thing) of Olivia's first "published" book. You will have to come to TX to read the rest! :)
(When I took the pictures of her book, she hadn't finished illustrating yet, but I wanted you to see this sentence about the brother! Hillarious!)
Boston is also growing as an artist and writer. He worked hard on these pictures to send to his former babysitter's three children. Since Halloween is close, he taped a piece of candy on each one too! :) This is a picture of Shelby.
For Natalie he drew flowers...and I guess the one for Trey of an RV didn't make it on here! Ooopps!
We went to the Santa Fe Festival to see the Native Americans who live in Santa Fe, Texas dance and craft. It was amazing. The kids made teepees, tasted some foods, and were amazed by the large head dresses worn!
This is a picture of some of the men doing a tribal dance. I couldn't take time to get a better one because Olivia was too nervous with the chanting and drumming so we had to "move on."
And last but not least...Today at Boston's school is Texas Day!! Is he the cutest cowpoke you've ever seen or what? :) This morning he kept touching the brim of his hat, looking at me, and saying, "Hi there, litle lady!" :)
So there you have it...a bit of an update from TX. Our friend, Melanie, comes to visit from KY today and I'm not sure who is most excited to have her arrive. The kids want her to be the one to wake them up in the morning! So sweet! We are anxiously awaiting the arrivial of the rest of you down here too! =)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Picture Update

We have been unpacking boxes like crazy and I think that the Carrollton Public Works Department carried off the last of our cardboard boxes and packing paper today! Yahoo! We still need to hang things on the walls, get a kitchen table and chairs, and a dining room set, and many other things here and there but it is coming along nicely. For someone who doesn't know how to decorate and, for years, has relied on her friends to "set up house" things are looking pretty good. I will take pictures of the house this weekend but first wanted to fill you in on some things we have been doing in the past two weeks... We watched Zoe, Boston's friend from preschool, and her brother, Titus, for the afternoon. The kids got a kick out of dressing poor little Titus up!
Wednesday, October 6, apparently is National Walk to School Day. The weather was perfect for it - about 58 in the morning and 90 in the afternoon. We met "Walking School Bus B" (really just a mom holding a poster shaped like a bus) at a corner near our house and walked Liv to school about .8 miles one way. The kids were all given blinking reflectors, had Carrollton police officers on motorcycles as their crossing guards, and were given bananas and bottled water when they got to school. Liv's favorite part was that all the walking students got to sign a banner that is now hung in the cafeteria.
We have unpacked TONS of boxes! Poor Boston has felt the brunt of this since he is home most of the time. However, he has enjoyed climbing in the boxes and drawing on them.
We have been swimming. The kids love to come home and swim after school. The water is a bit cold (75 degrees) now for my liking since the nights are cooler, but they are still jumping in almost every afternoon! (Yes! Those are banana trees and palm trees in our backyard! We are researching how to care for them...)
The kids have helped Donny head "out to the field." Are they not TOO CUTE??!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Busy as Bees!!!

I know it's been a while since I sat down and told you what was going on! Actually, I sat down last night and posted a few pictures and wrote a beautiful narrative =) about what each person in our family has been doing. However, when I pushed the "publish post" button...all was lost! Ugh!
Tonight, there is a lot of laundry to be folded so I will have to make it shorter but wanted to give a quick update! (I will put house pictures up soon.)
We are still unpacking boxes but we are seeing more floor so that is a good sign! Donny worked so hard on the garage this weekend and by week's end we will be parking in the garage! We have gone through every box with a fine tooth comb and have trashed, donated, reunited lost parts, and organized. Once everything is finally unpacked, it will feel so good to have "purged" and be rid of junk! (You know I love to get rid of things that we don't use...sometimes to a fault...)
We are getting quickly involved in our church, Valley View Christian Church, and also getting to know people better. I am writing and planning curriculum and lessons for the K-5 classes on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. It is the perfect balance of getting my "fix" of teaching and writing lessons without having to be gone from my family full time. God is good! Donny has been helping on the Creative Arts team which works on the stage and prepares for each new sermon series. The kids are getting used to their classes and are making friends. MANY of the kids at church are home schooled which makes it a bit harder for them to relate to Liv and vice versa. Here's the reason why----The kids are all in the same co-op so "breaking in" is tricky but Liv is awesome (!) and I am so proud of how she continues to go and nurture friendships.
Both kids love school and I am working hard to provide play dates at least once a week for each of them with kids from their school. It helps me get to know the mamas and the friends they are making. Having a pool has been such an easy way to invite people over. Until we moved here, and had to "step out of our comfort zones" we had not really talked to our 7 year old and 4 year old about being witnesses but that has become a daily conversation now. It is so different here. Schools are different. People are different. We are no longer wrapped snugly in our protective group of friends like we were in KY. We are being challenged to really think about and explain our faith, daily. I can't wait to see how God is going to use our family, our children, here in Dallas. I think we are all growing deeper with Jesus through this. Our after-dinner devotion and before-bed conversations with the kids have been in depth and eye opening. Their questions are amazing and challenging. Donny and I are so glad to have our kids talk to us and want to start NOW with open communication.
Shoo...I can get long-winded! All that to say, we are doing ok. We miss KY. Boy, do we miss it and talk of it and our "peeps" there daily but we are looking with wide-eyes at the present and to the future to see what God has in store for us...
We'll keep you posted! (hehee!)