Through the Valley
Our Family's Miracle Journey
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December 2008

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December 1st, 2008
Over two thousand years ago the night seemed like any other night!  Mothers kissed their children as they slumbered within their beds.  Shepards casually watched their flocks.  All was calm, all was right. So many went about their nightly routines without even an inkling of the miracle taking place. I wipe away the tears as I think, They couldn't even find room for our dear Lord!  God had planned that night before the world even began!  It had been prophesied for thousands of years, the signs were in abundance, yet most lay warm in their beds missing out on the greatest miracle ever to bless our world.  He was pushed to the side and left unnoticed! They couldn't even find room for our dear Lord!  Only a few were wise enough to see the signs, only a few stopped to listen as the angels declared.  There were but a handful of people in tune enough with the spirit to know! I often wonder how their eyes could have been so blinded.  How could their ears have been so deaf?  How could they have missed such a glorious happening? God the Father's proudest moment!  All of His creation must have been dancing in celebration.  The north star shining brightly.  Yet I'm sure there were those who probably stumbled out of their beds only to close the curtains to block the light.  Oh what a glorious celebration they must have missed for only a few hours of rest!  So many missed out on His birth, so many were ignorant to His crucifixion and so many will miss the trumpet when it sounds again!  Oh the thought pierces straight through me!  How easy it is to become entangled in this world!  How easy it is for our sight to become cloudy, For our ears to become muffled! How easy it is to take just one step away from the sound of God's voice! How often do we fill our lives with worldly concerns until there isn't any room left for our Savior?  How often does He go unnoticed? Only a handful will hear that trumpet sound! Only a few will see those clouds part!  The signs are in abundance! God has planned that moment before the world ever began! We've been warned for thousands of years. Yet most will lay warm in their beds without even an inkling!  As I celebrate the birth of our Savior, I am drawn to realization that He WILL return again and SOON!  My heart longs to draw closer and closer to Him!  I want to be safe within His midst!  I long to be so near that I will hear even the faintest whisper. Lord, let me hear you whisper! I pray that my eyes and ears stay wide open focused on only Jesus, so that the things of this world may not weigh me down.  My heart fills with excitement at the mere thought of joining our Savior in the clouds for an even more glorious celebration! A celebration I desperately do not want to miss! The moment draws nigh!
Will you be dancing, or will you be sleeping?
We must all search our hearts daily! Christmas is the time to rejoice and Every day is the time to rejoice while we prepare!

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given;  And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace There will be NO end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom. To order it and establish it with judgment and justice. From that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this." Isaiah 9:6-7

"So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.  To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." Hebrews 9:28

"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come; he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.  Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Matthew 24:42-44

December 4, 2008
I have made no secret of the fact that our little miracle loves to run around all naturale'.  I have mentioned on a couple of occasions the difficulty we have in trying to keep clothes on the little rug rat. It seems they only weigh her down and she's much to active for that!  Well as you can imagine this comes as quite a problem while we are in the process of potty training.  Reni's little streaks have been causing quite a few messy incidents, about one a day on average.  So after spending all day going from one toddler mess to another, you know spills here and there, I'm sure you understand my discontent when a bare bottomed Serenity interupts my dish duty to announce, "Mama I pooped!"  OH GREAT! (BIG SIGH) "Okay Reni, Show Mommy where you pooped." Her tiny little hand clutches my finger and off we go!  To my pleasant surprise she leads me into the bathroom, then with great excitement points into her Royal Potty Chair and blurts out, "Right there!"  I lean over and peek inside, Sure enough, Right on target!  "YAY RENI --- What a Big girl you are!"  I didn't have to ask her every five minutes if she needed to go!  I didn't have to wait half an hour watching her short little legs dangle as she sat on the potty, only to leave having accomplished nothing and return ten minutes later to do it all over again! I didn't even have to clean up "an almost made it!"   NOPE! She did make it and she did it ALL by herself!  Chalk up one more milestone conquered by God's miracle blessing, we call Serenity! Every little accomplishment is appreciated so much more,  knowing just how far she has come! Amazing!  Mommy and Daddy are so proud! Now if we can just get her brother to do the same! He's half way there! He goes peepee in the potty almost every time.  Well sort of, he kind of reminds me of that sprinkler toy you use to play with as a child.  You know the one that looked like a funny little guy with crazy hair.  As soon as the water was turned on, his hair would fly around in all different directions spraying water on everything within 10 feet.  Yeah, that's the one! Eli's our little sprinkler baby!  Anyway, we have one that goes number one and now one that goes number two.  Maybe they can teach each other! Ha, that's actually another funny story I'll have to tell later!  Complete potty training all in good time, I guess! It's just that after 10 continous years on diaper patrol, I'm sure looking forward to those diaperless days! You know, the day when I can finally breathe through my nose again! (Another Big Sigh) Oh Well!  Right now we are just going to celebrate steps in the right direction!  Yay Reni and Eli!   We are so proud of you both!

December 6th, 2008

Why Does Christmas Really Matter?

By:  Dana Burk


Why does Christmas really matter?

Presents and toys while families gather

Sleighs and reindeer with a ho ho ho

Hats and mittens and lots of snow

Cookies and Candies, bellies growing fatter

But why does Christmas really matter?

Stockings and Chimneys, Church bells ringing

Decorations on Trees and Carolers singing

Stories and Games, homes filled with laughter

But why does Christmas really matter?

Drives and charities, donations to give

Parties and raves our own lives to live

Dancing Sugar Plums that arose such a clatter

But why does Christmas really matter?

Cards and Pictures, mail to send

Checks and credit cards, money to spend

Pushing, Shoving, shoppers scatter

But why does Christmas really matter?

A baby boy in a manger with an innocent cry

God on Earth, born just to die

As Savior of the world, for love He gave all

Only to be replaced by a sale at the mall

Tortured and beaten for you and for me

He gave His life to set us free

In return, recognized only with idle chatter

Now answer me this, Why does Christmas really matter?

Fire and flames a never ending burn

Tortured forever a tough lesson to learn

Eternity would be lost, all hope shatters

This my friend is why Christmas really matters!!

December 8th, 2008
 Do you know what my greatest pet peeve about the Christmas season is?  It's something that has bothered me ever since I was a little girl, and the irritation only grows with age. Something that bothers me so much in fact, that I will actually remove my business from places that participate.  This certain thing completely removes our Lord and Savior from the Christmas season! I have seen rich folk, poor folk, non-Christians, Christians, department stores, even Bible Book stores and Churches do it. (that bothers me the most, seeing organizations who should know better)  Have any guesses as to what it might be?  Need another clue?  It has to do with a certain word and the removal thereof! Ahh, now you know! Yes, It's the absent minded use of the word, (I have a hard time even typing it) xmas!  I know that most people do it only out of ignorance to the real meaning behind the jesture.  It's become a convenient, quick, space saving way of getting their Seasons Greetings across!  However, just like all devised plans of the enemy, convenience is his greatest weapon against righteousness.  For just a few seconds of time saving a person can completely remove Christ from the celebration of His own birthday.  For you are literally crossing out the word CHRIST in Christmas.  AH HA!  I know there are probably a few light bulbs going off right now as well as a few, "I didn't realize." But now you know and hopefully your hearts will be sadden for our Savior everytime you see that word used.  For how horrible is it to throw a huge celebration for our Lord's birthday and not even invite Him to the party? I pray that all remember the true reason for the season and join in the celcbration of,  not xmas or even kris-mas but (what we call at my house) CHRISTmas!

December 9th, 2008
Christmas is in the air!  The first snow of the season lightly dusts the ground and our family snuggled close for a good movie while scarfing down a box of Krispy Kremes. These are the moments that I am so very grateful!  Even with all the chaos of our large yet young family, I am so very grateful. The girls argued over their favorite seat, Noah argued about them arguing, Dad argued about everyone arguing so loudly he couldn't hear. Then they all argued over who was going to sit with me. The babies were doing their normal routine.  Serenity chased Eli around the Christmas tree, threatening him with a hard plastic baby doll.  Eli RAN! For but a moment I glanced out the window and watched the snow fall! Suddenly I was taken back two years earlier to a much more complicated time.  Later I searched for an old journal and read the entry for the day that reminded me of today.  Here it is:

November 30th, 2006
As I look out the window watching the snow cover the ground,  I can't help but think about Christmas. The kids are worried that we might not be home, since we missed Thanksgiving.  I long to be there with all of my children playing in the snow or baking Christmas cookies! I want to be hiding Christmas presents and taking pictures around the tree! I want to be a family again! The doctors seem to be certain that we will spend Christmas in the hospital.  I know that Reni is healed! With every fiber of my being, I KNOW she is healed! Now I'm believing that others will know what I know BEFORE Christmas!   Against all odds, and the doctors predictions, Reni is doing wonderful off the vent this time. God is definitely already at work.  She was awake for several hours today.  I was blessed with the opportunity to spend some quality time with her.  We sat and listened to Christmas music, watched a Veggie Tales Christmas special and talked about All the fun we are going to have when she comes home for Christmas.  I reminded her once again that she only has a few more weeks to prove to those doctors that she is healed....... She smiled at me!  God is so good!  That's all I can say, just Praises to His name!  Thank you Jesus!

                  At Home Christmas 2006

As you can see, we did make it home in time!  Yes, even at the most stressful times as a mother, I still feel so very grateful!  As Reni chases Eli around the tree, I feel so very thankful!  I am so blessed! At night when I lye in bed with a baby within each arm and I'm surrounded by their silent healthy breathes, I'm overwhelmed! It's a brief moment so completely incredible that words simply could never describe its wonder.  At that moment, I feel so,, unworthy of the miracles that God has blessed my life with! Which only makes me praise Him more, thanking Him that we don't have to be worthy of His blessings!  We just have to be willing to accept them!

December 12th, 2008

Twas the month of Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, EXCEPT for that annoying mouse! 
Okay so for several days we chased this little mouching rodent in our home.  We set trap after trap, but the smart little guy slipped through our fingers every time.  He would eat every drop of the bait off the traps and never set them off! He would run around the glue pads and never get stuck.  Then one day Tom had the idea to put about half a pound (okay maybe not quite that much) of peanut butter on the trap, thinking that if he stayed there long enough surely he would set the stupid thing off.  Well the next day I checked and do you know that the ENTIRE glob of peanut butter was completely finished off and yep you guessed it, the trap was still perfectly set.  I was just about to lose my patience when I noticed a few feet away, laid a dead rodent.  Not a cut, bruise or even a scratch on him, just dead for no apparent reason at all.  Ironic isn't it?  I bet we are the only people in the world to ever kill a mouse by over feeding him!  :)

December 14th, 2008
My, Oh My!  Who possibly could have sabotaged this pretty little present carefully wrapped in Minnie Mouse paper?                       
                   Minnie Mouse Unwrapped

What a mystery! Have any guesses?  What?  Did I hear you correctly?   You think that our innocent little Serenity may be the onery one who peeked before Christmas! Why, how could you think such a thing?  I mean, really!  She is far too innocent for such aaaaa,  Well,,, then again,,,  

                      No, No, Reni!  No peeking!
             I guess there is a possibility that You may be right!!!

December 15th, 2008
Serenity calls from the other room, "Mom!"  Mom calls back, "Yes Reni!" "Mom whacha doin'?" "I'm cooking supper, what are you doing?" There is a slight pause then Serenity answers with, "I'm NOT making a mess!" Mom thinks to herself, Oh, well that pretty much means that you are,  doesn't it? Mom stops what she's doing and briskly walks into the next room.  Serenity stands over two separate cups both containing a mixture of ice tea and milk.  A big puddle surrounds them both.  "Oh NO Serenity, what a mess! Where is your Dad?!"  A now honest Reni shrugs her shoulders and replys with, "I dunno! He's not watching me."  Mom sighs.  Evidently!

Later Update:
Splendor comes in so many forms, even a slim frame of 22 lbs. A few hours later, I find a sweet Reni knelt gracefully in front of the Christmas tree with only the light of it's bulbs to illuminate around her.  I stand silent and watch her in awe. She looks so angelic and peaceful, a near perfect moment.  Then with the first note of a well known tune, that perfect moment instantly becomes complete as her soft little voice begins to sing,  "Hap Birfday Jesus, Hap Birfday Jesus, Hap Birfday baby boy Jesus. Hap Birfday to me."  So close yet so far away. :)  I am so thankful for all the splendor God continues to bless our family with. She may be a little live wire but my life means nothing without her spark.  I would clean an infinite amount of messes for just one perfect moment of splendor!  Thank you Jesus for the opportunity to witness splendor Serenity in all her wonder!

December 17th, 2008
On the first day of Christmas Nanny and Papa gave to me - a life sized Minnie under the tree!              

               "Well Hello Minnie Mouse will you hold my hand?" 
                            Minnie, Will you hold my hand?
    "Thanks! Wow, you're very pretty but what's that behind your ear?  Do you have ticks?  We better check you over before Mommy makes you sleep outside with Lucy our dog!".
                             Whats that behind your ear?
              "Nope! Your good! You get to snuggle me tonight!" 
                           Merry Christmas!
            Merry Christmas from Reni and Minnie!

December 22nd, 2008
Run, Run as fast as you can! You can't catch me! I'm the Gingerbread Man!
The kitchen countertops are covered in powered sugar gingerbread land snow after an evening of fun decorating. The kids had a blast once again this year. 
                    Gingerbread Fun!
Although the older three did most of the work, the babies also contributed by eating over half the decorations. Crys of frustration echoed throughout our home as time and time again the project had to be reconstructed.  Complaints consisted of "Mom the babies ate the door knob," "OH NO, Reni just bit off the top of our tree!" and  "Mom they broke the roof AGAIN!"  After many, many "No Reni!" and "Stop that Elijah,"  this was finally the finished result;
                         Time Well Spent
It was quite an experience, but once again they created a home that would make any decent gingerbread man proud! :)

December 23rd, 2008
 Serenity the little Monkey:                  

                         "Mom!  Mom! Mom! Watch this!"
                          Watch this!
                    "Mom! See what my can do? Mom! SEE?"                  

                       Nice comfy landing
                                        "WOW!  That fun!"

Believe it or not, a few years ago when Tommy and I went shopping for new bedroom furniture, this scenario never even made the pro and con list.  You would think after four previous children we would have anticipated this a little more. But then again we never had a Serenity before!  :)

December 24th, 2008
What do you get when you add one Mom, one Dad, five children each who are involved in several gift exchanges, three uncles, four aunts, numberous cousins, two sets of grandparents, two great-grand dads and one great grandmother?
                      Proof that we are truly Blessed!!!

Christmas Eve has been the day my family celebrates Christmas ever since I can remember.  We all gather at my parent's house for a huge dinner and gift exchange. So now I'll ask,  what do you get when you combine the above with a Nanny and PaPa who have to buy for four children, their children's spouses and 16, yes I said 16 grandchildren plus one new grand daughter in law and one new serious boyfriend? 
                    An Entire room full of blessings!

                    (which believe it or not a large portion just happened to be gift cards this year)

"It is shall come to pass, if thou shall hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all the nations of the earth.  And ALL these blessings shall come on thee, and OVERTAKE thee if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be coming in and blessed shalt thou be going out."  Deuteronomy 28:1,2,6

December 25th, 2008
                         Merry Christmas!
Our Christmas was filled with lots of food,
And Fun!
Everyone got exactly what they asked for.  Even Tommy! The nice guy just mentioned to his mother in-law that all he wanted for Christmas was her homemade dinner rolls.  Well you can imagine his excitement when he opened his carefully wrapped present under her tree.

But everyone got her back, for we also answered the age old question,                              Nerf Gun
  Marshmallow Blaster
This challange proved to be quite entertaining.  Everyone, and I mean everyone got involved.
Unfortuately for my parents the Marshmallow Blaster won!  They will be finding marshmallows from now until next Christmas.  :0

Serenity LOVED opening presents.  Except for the ones that weren't wrapped in her favorite wrapping paper! If it wasn't wrapped in Minnie Mouse she would bring it back to me nearly untouched and say, "I don't want this one!" I would reply with, "How do you know you don't want it? You don't even know what it is!"  Then with a frustrated look on her face she would puff out, "Cause MOM! I don't like it."  Of course I would make her open it anyway. Then she would end up loving the surprise inside.  She had SO much fun!
Everyone did! 
Kayleigh and Noah were even so happy that they were able to show each other some Christmas love.
Even though we had lots of fun giving and getting this year, we have not forgotten the true meaning of Christmas and the important things that we have been blessed with.  As we snuggle on the couch to watch our annual tradition of National Lampoon's Christmas vacation, I silently give praise for the miracle birth of our savior and the miracle bliss which we call family!
"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" Luke 2:10-11
Praise Him for all the joy this Season brings!  For He IS the good tiding of great joy to all people! 
        Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Journal Continued on January 2009 


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