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michele and girls

Over the years I’ve written many times about my very dear friend, Michele, whom my kids affectionately call Aunt Michele. There is so much I want to say, but I’m struggling for words today. I’ll let Michele’s tribute from the memorial service speak for itself.

I would first like to thank Russ and Lisa and the rest of the Qualls family for inviting me to speak and offer this remembrance of Kalkidan. It is a distinct honor and privilege and I am very grateful. I would also like to take a moment and thank Russ and Lisa and the rest of their family for the tremendous sacrifices which they have made over the last years to provide for Kalkidan. God has seen all you have done and I am confident that He is pleased.

As I have been thinking about what I would like to say, my mind kept composing a letter to Kalkidan, so that is what I would like to share with you now.

Dear Kalkidan,

Well, here we are – most of your favorite people, all gathered in one place to celebrate your life and remember you. I am sure that that makes you happy. And if you were not in a wholly better place right now I am sure you would like to be here with us. You have always loved parties and celebrations, and just being with people. It is one of your many endearing qualities.

 

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Lord, We fall to our knees before the Wounded Healer
who cups His hands to catch every falling tear & sparrow & heart
in His palms that have our names engraved right into Him
far deeper than any of earth’s sorrow.
We pray tonight in the name of Him of who catches everything falling
so we don’t fall apart…so we are held. Amen. [Ann Voskamp]

giving thanks #1571 – 1580

my sister, Laura, who spent a week caring for us

my physical therapist who is helping my body heal

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This is what I’ve read every morning since I’ve been well enough to pick up my Bible and hold it in my hands.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height  nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 38-39

Three Sisters

I could make a stack of albums of titled, “Kalkidan’s Cute Moments.” As you know, there were plenty of hard moments, but we didn’t take pictures of those. We aren’t rewriting history, we’re just savoring the precious, joyful times with her. Her smile was amazing.

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Well friends, it’s early on Christmas Eve morning and I suspect I won’t get back here until all of the festivities are over. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Last night we realized that our water storage tank is nearly empty, which means there is a problem with the pump in our well, or something in our house isn’t working. This means: no showers, flushing toilets only when necessary, and minimizing water consumption. Talk about bad timing. Russ is going to call the well people this morning and see if they can come out, but it’s Christmas Eve, so I suspect it will be costly. Sad!

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Advent goes best when I keep my expectations low – that’s actually true of all holidays at our house. We’re one day behind on our Jesse Tree and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, and nearly a week behind on Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent. But it doesn’t matter one bit because Advent is a time to anticipate the coming of Jesus, so simply enjoying the celebration is enough.

We’ve come up with a good rhythm. On school mornings, we gather at the table at 7:30 and read Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. The kids take turns adding an ornament to our Jesse Tree, which is a gangly  and rather large branch off a bush in our backyard. I found a tall, square vase at Ross and filled it with ornaments (Katie’s idea) and small white lights. Katie put it together one Sunday and we’ve enjoyed it every day since.

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I’m giving away a copy of Ann Voskamp’s new Advent book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas!

Last week I wrote a post about preparing for Advent and mentioned that I plan to use this book with our children. The book arrived on Friday and is more beautiful than I imagined. It is colorful, large, and the story of Jesus coming to the world is told in a lovely way. The book comes with a free download for ornaments children (and adults) can color and hang on a Jesse tree.

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In the nearly 28 years that I’ve been a mom, I’ve seen my share of toys come and go. I’m not a fan of toys that break easily or only hold a child’s interest for two days. I want toys and games that will last for years.

I hope you enjoy our family favorites and find new toys and games your children will love.

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Advent begins on Sunday, November 30th, which you know will get here far more quickly than we can imagine. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, y0u know that I love Advent. Thankfully a reader sent me a message on my One Thankful Mom facebook page (thanks Cheryl!) asking about resources and she prompted me to google “2014 first Sunday of advent.”

This year I’m using Ann VosKamp’s new book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.

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We have a Sunday night tradition we all enjoy. Since we have our big dinner with the entire family in the afternoon, our evening meal is usually popcorn, cheese, and fruit. I like this for about 25 different reasons, one of which is that the kids make it themselves, and there is nearly no clean-up.

Russ was always the popcorn maker in our family. Years ago he mastered the art of popping it on the stove in our largest pot. I, however, preferred the ease of microwave popcorn…the problem was that I knew the bright yellow color and other chemicals weren’t good for us. I just didn’t want to deal with the hassle of making it in the big pot.

Enter the Wabash Valley Farms 25008 Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper- which transformed our Sunday nights.