Emma and Eli: December 2019

By far the most exciting part of December 2019 was the opportunity to get settled into our new home. We are so grateful for what the Lord did in our journey to find a house. As always, He far exceeded what we could have ever hoped or imagined for a place to raise our family (Ephesians 3:20). Christmas is such a fun time to get settled into a new place!

We are finding that the kitchen is one of our favorite places because of the island that naturally draws conversation and lingering over meals. I hope that is always the case. Right now we look into the eyes of a 7 year old and an 11 year old and realize that in the blink of an eye, that will be Emma and Eli home from college…in town from their new job…and coming home to bring their own families. Our hope and prayer is that we will always share those conversations and hear what matters most to them!

December started off with a chance to celebrate Emma’s first tennis season at school. She LOVED Middle School Tennis. She enjoyed learning a new sport and had a great time making friends with her teammates. Most of all, she LOVED getting to know Coach Swank because of the way that she invested in and encouraged Emma. The two of them bonded quickly! At the end of the season, Emma was so honored to receive the Coaches Award for the girls team.

We celebrated Eli’s 7th Birthday in style at Mercedes Benz Stadium to cheer on the Atlanta Falcons. Eli and Clint went to a game last year as well, but this was the first NFL game for Emma and me! We were so glad that our friends Jim and Jack could join us for the fun!

Christmas held lots of fun opportunities for us. We hosted the entire Upper School faculty and staff for lunch to say thanks to our friends that we are so blessed to be in ministry with!

We had a big bonfire to burn the last few moving boxes.

We enjoyed Emma and Eli’s Christmas piano recitals and Eli’s Lower School Christmas Program all at school.

It was a blast to surprise Clint with tickets to Mac Powell and the Family Reunion’s 3rd Annual Christmas Party at the Strand. We had a great time and it was a wonderful Christmas date!

One of our favorite parts of Christmas this year doesn’t include any pictures. We got to help out with Project Christmas at church this year. Project Christmas is an opportunity to bless families in our community with gifts for their children at Christmas. They wouldn’t otherwise have gifts for their children on Christmas morning. Our church gave folks the chance to sign up and shop for specific families. Our family shopped for a family of three kids. We had the best time picking things out for some of these families. On the night of the gift distribution, we saw the family that came to pick up the gifts we shopped for. My heart melted (and leaked out from my eyes) to see how excited my kids were for those kids. Our family’s prayer is that those gifts might bring encouragement to those parents and lift that family and point them to Him.

Our Christmas Travels took us to North Georgia to celebrate Christmas with Clint’s family the weekend before Christmas, all over Acworth, and to Memphis for a few days after Christmas to spend time with my family. Christmas Eve at Cedarcrest followed by Waffle House for dinner continues to be a favorite tradition. Our kids sang in the Christmas Eve choir again this year at church and had a great time with it! I LOVE the way that our church includes kids in actually doing ministry.

One of the best things we did as a family over Christmas was to tour the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

The museum has done an amazing job of telling the stories of generations of people who consistently did the right thing to love their neighbor well, even when they were being treated horrendously in many situations. I learned a lot today and was reminded that I have so much more to learn. Clint and I want to be intentional about having these conversations with our kids. I was so grateful that both Emma and Eli had so many questions and wanted to talk about what they saw and learned. I’m particularly mindful of the opportunities that my son…and our whole family…has because of people who took a stand for people to be treated fairly. And we still have a lot of work to do in that arena.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! – Psalm 139:23-24

We returned home just in time for a really fun day. For Christmas, Eli received a day at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta with Dad while Emma received a day of baking with Mom. This really captured their current interests and provided some awesome one on one time with our precious kids. It was an INCREDIBLE day! Emma’s baking went so well that she actually made it two days…much to our delight!

Over the course of each calendar year, our family collects tickets and little momentos from as many of our Strange Adventures as possible and toss those into a huge Mason jar we keep in the kitchen. On New Year’s Eve, our family empties the jar and goes through each item talking about what we enjoyed the most about that trip, meal, game, museum, activity, etc. We do this in order to remember and recognize that God continues to bless our family beyond our wildest imagination. We have learned, grown, journeyed, and experienced things that have drawn us closer to each other and most importantly, drawn us closer to Jesus. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for 2020!

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3

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