Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Year End Book Review 2016


Years are going by so fast these days.  But with each passing year is another opportunity to tell you about the books that I read and whether or not you should read them.  I read some good ones this year that spanned different topics.  As always there is a link to the previous reviews at the bottom of this post if you are just getting into my book reviews.  Here we go!

Lead like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges.  I had never read any kind of leadership book so this was a nice change of pace.  One of my pastors recommended it to me since I am involved in small leadership positions in my local church.  I really enjoyed this book.  One of the authors is a business guy and brings a unique perspective to leadership.  The book is biblically based and thorough in describing different aspects of leadership using Jesus' mentorship of the disciples as the framework.  While often focusing more on business leaders, the authors do a fantastic job of applying the principles to your church life, family life, and personal life.  I learned some basic things about vision and core values which has already helped the LifeGroup I lead and the Global Medical Outreach I am involved with at our church.  If you are a leader in any capacity, this is definitely a must read because it is thoughtful, practical, applicable, and humorous at times.


Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes.  This was a book that the men in our LifeGroup decided to read together and I am glad we did.  If you are a dude and you love Jesus, this is a good book to open up.  Kent Hughes tackles all kinds of issues relating to leadership, holiness, work, evangelism, prayer, etc.  It's easy to read and incorporates many good analogies and funny anecdotes.  But that doesn't detract from the many challenging points of introspection and application that conveys.  This book also has good discussion questions at the end of each chapter if you decide to read it as a group to help sharpen each other.  Definitely a good book to read with lots of points to help examine your soul.


Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce by John Piper.  I read this because of a crazy Amazon kindle deal.  And, boy, was this a cool surprise.  I really really like this book.  If you don't know about William Wilberforce you should.  Eric Metaxas has written an extensive biography of him and there has even been a movie made about his life if you want to know more.  The book starts with a brief biography to familiarize yourself with him and his life.  William Wilberforce was a smart young politician in England and after becoming a follower of Christ dedicated his life to end the slave trade in England.  So after you get some biographical information, John Piper begins to answer the question of what made him tick.  The book explores from a gospel perspective and William's own writings from letters and his work Real Christianity how this good news impacted his life and how it enabled him to overcome so many challenges while pursuing biblical social justice in an age that was blinded by political interest.  This is a great read: informative, challenging, and motivating.  (I already downloaded his book Real Christianity on the Kindle and will read it next year.)

Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards.  This was a beast.  Not going to lie.  I've always wanted to read Jonathan Edwards because he is one of colonial America's greatest theologians.  So while, this book was good and thought provoking, it was also tough.  Edwards is a very meticulous writer and goes to great lengths to correctly outline his propositions and arguments so that they will not be misconstrued, which is good, but it also makes it challenging to read because you can easily get lost from the main idea that he is defending.  But I'm glad that I read it.  He explores the question, due to a rising heresy in colonial America and one that is very much applicable today, of how does one know that they are a believer?  What is it about a christian that marks him or her as a christian? How do you know if your affections toward Christ are stemming from Christ and his glorious mercy on your life or from something else.  Bottom line of the book is a welling up of joy and awe at the grandeur and mercy and grace of God enables a believer to live for Christ.  All else is fake.  Tough read, great answers, and applicable despite it being written over 200 years ago.

God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew.  This book is great.  Quite a contrast from the book mentioned.  I flew through this autobiography.  This book is about the life and ministry of Brother Andrew, a Dutch missionary after WWII.  It is his reflection on the early part of his life and ministry after coming to Christ and being one of the early pioneer missionaries that brought God's word behind the communist countries of the Soviet Union and China.  This book has stories of intrigue, suspense, faith, and God's incredible provision.  Brother Andrew has also written a sequel regarding more recent adventures into the middle east but I would start with this book to get to know him and his story.  Out of one man's conviction that people need the Bible, a ministry was started which is still in operation today.  It is called Open Doors and the they are still bringing Bibles and ministering to believers in some of the most difficult parts of the world today.  Fantastic book.  You will want to more fervently build God's Kingdom after reading this book.

Family Driven Faith by Voddie Bauchum.  Of all the great books and fascinating stories in this years reading list, this was the highlight of the year for me personally.  Voddie delivers a gut punch to your soul: a soul punch? But man, is it ever needed in today's Christian homes. Voddie centers the book around Deuteronomy 6 and each chapter in the book is pretty much an exposition of different parts of that passage.  The main point is that secular thinking is creeping into christian families and kids which is causing young people to leave the faith.  He argues that the remedy is holistic parental worldview training to impart to their young children the deep meaning and truths to our kids.  That way, they truly know the faith and can stand against the philosophical storms our children will face as they grow up.  He encourages men to lead in this process.  He challenges many of our natural, conventional attitudes towards kids, education, and family and demonstrates how they often are unbiblical.  Voddie is honest when he writes that he has received much flack from believers for this book and his arguments that are contained it in, but I think he is right.  We may just not want to hear it.  This book is powerful, convicting, extremely challenging, but encouraging and hopeful all at the same time.  It's a soul punch, but you and I need it.  #makeourfamiliesbiblicalagain. 

Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung.  I like Kevin DeYoung.  I like his books, his writing style, and his blog.  He is funny and concise and that is what you get in this short 10 chapter book.  This book is also a treasure in the midst of so many attacks on the validity and veracity of the Bible.  This book is about the Bible.  He argues that the Bible is sufficient.  That it is clear.  That is is authoritative.  And that it is necessary.  This is not an apologetic defense of the scriptures, although he provides several fantastic references at the back of the book if that is what you are looking for.  Rather, it is a book to encourage the believer.  Kevin reminds us of the beauty of God's word and that though the world would try to undermine it, God's word will last forever.  This book will definitely help you understand why we need the Bible and also help you treasure it a little bit more than you might currently.  A great, encouraging read!

The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn.  This book rounds out the year.  This book has been sitting on my shelf for years and I finally got around to reading it and, although small, it packs a punch.  Centered on treasures and Jesus' teaching in Matthew, Randy Alcorn succinctly and vividly describes the reality that you can and should store treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed.  Everything in this world is passing away and we can't take it with us but what we can do is use and leverage everything for his Kingdom.  It echoes George Mueller's statement that we will never regret investing int he kingdom of God.  This book does not read with guilt ridden language but rather with the encouragement and hope that giving is truly an eternal investment that, for the Christ follower, you will one day see.  This book is also set up for group study with prayers and discussion questions at the end of each chapter.  Our LifeGroup is going start 2017 with this as our emphasis to continue to be focused on spreading the good news near and far.


That wraps up this years review!  Hope you found it helpful and inspires you to read.  What good books challenged you and helped you grow this year?  And as always, I've got some good reads lined up for 2017 from William Wilberforce, J.C. Ryle, and Al Mohler.  Have a happy New Year and open up a book! 

Get caught up by browsing other reviews from 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015


Jason Baareman
  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bridget Birthday Letter - 2 Years Old

Dear Bridget -

You are TWO years old! What a joy you are! You are super cute on the outside and inside. I just LOVE this age! You love to play - either by yourself, with Lucy, or with friends. You are starting to become a kid in the fact that you like to do as many things as possible by yourself, but you still retain some "babyish" things, like the fact that you can't run very well (not nearly as fast as Lucy), and you fall a lot (you aren't quite as stable on your feet). You are SUCH a talker! You have been talking to us in complete sentences for awhile now, I think you started a few months before turning 2. You always have lots of thoughts and love to communicate with any and everyone. You are very sweet and get along easily with pretty much everyone. You are very enthusiastic about life and are our little cheerleader. I've told multiple people recently that you are the most encouraging member of our family, you are constantly saying "Thanks Mom" "Thanks Dad" or "Good Job!" to us - lol. By the way, I can't figure out why you call us Mom and Dad even though we refer to ourselves as Mommy and Daddy.
 

 

Although you are very sweet and kind - you are NOT a pushover. Whenever things aren't going your way, you like to let out a scream to let us know you aren't happy - this normally occurs when you and Lucy are playing together and Mom and Dad aren't in the room. We are trying to teach you to not be a drama queen - and to use words instead of screams to get your point across.

The last two months have been very eventful around here. We have had almost constant visitors - mainly family who have visited us after Josiah was born about 6 weeks ago. You have really enjoyed playing with all of our guests. Since we were pretty much "homebound" with newborn Josiah, I decided that it was a great time to potty train you. You had seemed ready for awhile, but I did NOT feel up to it in the last trimester of pregnancy. Well, turns out you WERE ready, and you have been doing AWESOME! I love how excited you get when you go in the potty. You love to cheer yourself on. You also love the rewards you get - you never forget to remind us to give you your jellybean.






Some more facts about you at 2:
  • You didn't have much hair on your first birthday at all, but now you have a full head of dirty blonde curls! I never thought I would ever have a "blondie" for a child - but it sure is adorable! 
  • I feel like overall you are growing up "faster" than Lucy because you want to keep up with her so badly. You truly believe that you are capable of anything she does and it really upsets you when you try to do something you see that she does but can't do - today it was climbing up a giant toy frog at the mall playground. You saw Lucy do it a certain way, and could not accept the fact that you couldn't mimic her! 
  • You moved out of your crib and into your big girl bed (the bottom bunk) a few weeks before turning 2 I think. You did awesome with it from the first night. The first week or so, you and Lucy would talk and sing together while going to sleep. Now, Lucy goes to bed earlier (around 7:30) than you since she doesn't nap/sleep doing the day. So by the time you go to bed (around 8:30), we just whisper a prayer, you get a sip of water, and as long as you have some of your bears with you, you are good to go. By the way - you are still obsessesed with your white polar bear stuffed animal. You sleep/cuddle with it, and also play with it all day. 
 


  • You are a good sleeper at friends houses and when we travel now too. I don't take this for granted! 
  • You wake up around 7:30, we take you potty, and you and Lucy normally watch a show on the couch together before breakfast. Your favorite show now is Daniel Tiger. But you are pretty happy to watch the shows Lucy picks too, although they sometimes don't keep your interest as long. 
  • You like trying to dress yourself - but still need help with that. You can wash your hands by yourself, as long as I turn on the water for you. 
  • You love riding bikes outside. Your bike is the pink plasma car. You can really book it on that thing and can almost go as fast as Lucy on her regular bike. 
  • You also love the pink Barbie car that Gigi and Pops got you for your birthday. You are content to be the passenger and you press the music buttons while Lucy drives. You can't reach the pedals yet....otherwise, I'm not sure you'd be okay with this set up. 

  • You have started to like art projects a little more. Coloring doesn't hold your attention more than 5 minutes and you normally start coloring on yourself or something else that you shouldn't. However, you do really like gluing and cutting construction paper. 
  • You love playing outside on the back deck. This is a frequent activity recently with a newborn in the house. 
  • You also love the swimming pool - another quite frequent activity. After about 1-2 pool visits, you got comfortable keeping balanced "swimming" with your puddle jumper. You also like to jump in, although you don't let your head go under water yet. 
  • You love Gigi and Pops' boat and talk about it all the time :) 
  • You love your baby brother. I haven't seen any jealousy at all! You even literally tell me a few times a week "I love my baby brother Josiah mom." 
  • You and Lucy spend a LOT of time playing together. You have a love/hate relationship. Sometimes you play GREAT. Then other times it seems like it is impossible to have a peaceable 5 minutes with the two of you in the same room! The games you like to play together include Mommy (Lucy) and Baby (Bridget) and sometimes/rarely it's Mommy (Bridget) and Baby (Lucy). You are pretty believable as the baby, and make crying noises and crawl around the house. The two of you also like to pretend you are driving somewhere. 

  • You are a pretty good eater. You aren't picky at all, and eat a pretty good quantity of food most of the time. We went through a few months, where dinner time was a battle and you were in tears almost every evening. The battle was mainly over you not wanting to eat the bites we required for you to get a dessert - especially when Lucy had already "earned" her dessert. Things seem to have gotten better. 
  • You are EXTREMELY messy! Ever since we started you on baby food, you have always managed to get your food everywhere! To this day, you get food all over your body, under your bib, on and UNDER your booster seat, and all over the floor! 
  • My favorite thing you say is "I love you too" - you always add the "too" at the end <3 li="">
I'm so thankful for you Bridget! You will always be my baby girl! I love you so much!

Love, Mom

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Josiah's Birth Story

Last Tuesday, we welcomed Josiah Daniel Baareman to our family! He surprised us all, coming at 37 weeks and 5 days. Since Lucy and Bridget were both born at 39 weeks exactly, I thought he would come around the same time, so I hadn't even packed our hospital bags yet! I feel incredibly blessed to be a mother to not just two sweet girls, but now a sweet boy as well. I absolutely don't deserve any of it, and give God all the glory for this miracle of life.


Towards the end of this pregnancy, I was going 100 mph trying to do as many fun things with Lucy and Bridget as possible, since I knew our freedom was about to come to a screeching halt. In the week before Josiah was born we went to the zoo, to the pool many times, to swim lessons almost every day, etc. We had also hosted a few out of town guests. The day he was born, my sister Summer was in town. That morning we had all gone to Lucy's back-to-back swim lessons (one was a make-up), and also swam at the Y with friends afterward. Looking back I didn't "feel" like staying and swimming but decided to do it anyways so Lucy, Bridget, and Summer could have fun. I had been feeling pretty uncomfortable during the last few weeks or so but had figured that was all just part of the end of pregnancy. We got home, I made lunch for the kids, and helped Summer find all the ingredients she needed to make turkey meatballs (she was planning on cooking for us that evening).

While I was doing the dishes, I started to not feel very good and took some Tylenol - which was rare for me. Then, after all three kids started taking their nap, I started to work a little bit on a side website project I was doing. Pretty soon after I started working, around 2:30 - I felt my first contraction. I have never had contractions during pregnancy with any of my kids. From the first contraction - it has always led to a baby being born in the next 24 hours. Still, I thought that I was only 37 weeks - this couldn't be the real deal yet. Then, I realized that if it WAS the real deal, I had to get my work project finished! I started working as quickly as possible while timing my contractions. Looking back, I had about 1:00 - 1:30 hours of manageable contractions where I was timing, but still able to work on my computer. But by the time the kids were getting up from rest - 4:00 - they were definitely coming more quickly and were feeling more intense. It was at this point that I texted Jason, and my mom and sister to tell them that I thought I was in labor. Jason wasn't by his cell phone, but my mom and sister called me almost right away to figure out if they needed to start driving to Augusta. Throughout these phone conversations, and figuring out logistics, I also talked to my neighbor Liz who watched the girls for me that night. Even while on the phone I was having to pause and deal with the contractions without talking. Finally, Jason called me and told me he would be leaving work soon and asked if he could finish up his notes - which would take about 10 minutes. I said "Sure" since I realized I STILL had to pack both my bags, plus stuff for the girls and Jason! Meanwhile, Summer watched the girls for me after I turned on the movie "Tangled" that we had started a few nights before. By the time Jason got home, the contractions were really bad. I could barely pack even between contractions, so in the end, my packing job was pretty poor - haha. I did manage to get a pile of the girls clothing on the dining room table for Liz to pick up, and Jason quickly got the car seats out of the car for Liz in case she needed them. We left around 5:00 pm for the hospital. Summer watched Lucy and Bridget from about 5:00 - 6:15 when Liz picked all three of them up for dinner and hanging out at her house.

I had a fair amount of contractions in the car - and the drive was longer than our previous drives to Doctor's Hospital for Lucy and Bridget. Then, once we got to the hospital, we couldn't find the right place to park so Jason dropped me off in the lobby, and parked while I tried to figure out where to go. The website had said that Labor and Delivery was on the 7th floor, but when I hobbled over in between contractions to look at the elevator - it only went to the 5th floor! I was pretty annoyed that I was lost and couldn't figure out where to go WHILE in labor! Quite an inconvenience! I asked a nurse for directions around the time Jason got there and we found out we had to go to the 2nd floor, walk across the hospital a ways, then go up a different elevator to get to the maternity area. That walk was long and painful for me and I had to stop multiple times to deal with contractions. The first elevator that we came to was only for medical personnel!!!!! More walking, then FINALLY we found the proper elevator and made it to labor and delivery. Of course, the front desk told us that all the rooms were full, then another lady in a wheelchair who was 38 weeks along came up right behind me. I was REALLY hoping in that moment that they would find a room QUICKLY for me, and that I would get placed before the other lady, even though she was further along than me - since I was experiencing contractions and it didn't seem like she was. To my relief, they got me placed within about 5 minutes in a room that they normally used for OB surgeries. It was a really large room with two beds and a large window. It was weird for me (and Jason) that I was in labor during the day - since with Lucy and Bridget this phase all happened in the middle of the night.

The staff did a great job at getting me taken care of quickly. From the moment I was placed in the room until he was born, there was probably at least one person helping us out with something. First, it was getting my IV in and getting blood work done to qualify me for an epidural. They botched my first IV (and I still have a bruise from it), and had to try again on the other arm. The OB resident came in and checked me - which was pretty painful - although not as painful as the contractions were at that point. She shocked us all when she told us I was 7 cm dilated! When I told them that I DEFINITELY wanted an epidural, the resident told me that he was going to try and expedite things and give me one without the labs coming back since I had no health problems and a problem-free pregnancy. However, after he checked with his boss, that was a no-go and I had to endure another hour or so of EXTREMELY painful contractions. I was sitting up in the bed to endure them and would just count to 10 or 15 in my head while breathing in and out really strongly. I was doing so much huffing and puffing that my mouth was extremely dry but I couldn't drink anything. :(

It was during this point of contractions coming pretty close together and lasting a long time that I realized I might have to have the baby without an epidural! My greatest fear! I just couldn't imagine having a long enough break between contractions for my body to relax enough to be still enough to get the epidural in safely. I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would allow me to get some pain medicine in me before the baby was born. I was so scared but started quoting "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," in my head over and over. Jason also tried to prep me for having the baby naturally but I didn't really want to hear that news from him - lol. I just told him to pray that I would get the meds in time!

FINALLY, the anesthesiologist arrived with the news that I was cleared to get an epidural. Then, it seemed to take forever for him to get "prepped." I went through many more contractions while he was getting ready. I kept wondering how many more I'd have to go through before getting relief. When it was finally time, my nurse helped me hunch my back over (like a cat), and my prayers were answered. I had a really long break between two contractions that allowed him to get the epidural in just fine! I was so relieved! It took about 4-5 more sets of contractions before I couldn't feel them much anymore. Then, in no time, my OB was there, checked me, told me I was complete and asked if I was ready to have the baby! This was my first time that I was given the little button that I could push to get more pain medicine, so I pressed the button a lot right before he was born - haha.

We did a practice push and she said he almost was out! I pushed one or two times with virtually no pain and he was born! I couldn't believe that it was possible to have a baby with that little pain during the moment of birth! I guess I had paid my dues with all of those contractions! As soon as he was born they wiped him off a bit and handed him to me. It was an AMAZING moment as they handed me a beautiful, healthy, completely perfect baby BOY! The miracle of life gets me every time. Psalm 139:14 has been repeating in my head ever since he was born as I inspect his tiny body, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." God is a master artist - I have had the privilege of playing a role in bringing three of his beautiful creations into the world. I feel unworthy of that privilege, but oh so thankful.

Josiah Daniel Baareman 
June 7, 2016 - 7:49 pm 
8 lbs. 6 oz., 20 3/4 inches 

My parents got to the hospital about 30 minutes before he was born. They had been about to spend the day/night at Reynold's Plantation when they found out I was in labor. They left when they didn't hear from us and assumed he was coming quickly. My sister got there about 10-15 minutes after he was born - she had to drive further - from Atlanta. I'm so glad they were all there to meet him. 

My recovery has been pretty good overall. The only weird thing that happened is they forgot to turn off the epidural, so I had numb legs for about 2 hours after he was born, until I realized something was wrong and they turned it off! Then, the numbness took a really long time to wear off. Especially in my right leg. I didn't regain feeling in that one until about 4:00 am the next morning! So I had to have help doing almost everything. 

Since his birth, Josiah has proved to be very very sweet. He whimpers when he is hungry, then if he has to wait more than a minute or so, he starts crying. He is a really good eater and I've never had too much trouble getting him to stay awake for feedings. He lost a fair amount of weight in the hospital (went down to 7 lbs. 7 oz.), so we almost weren't able to go home on Thursday. But the pediatrician decided to let us go since I had a history of breastfeeding. We just had to have a weight check on Friday (then he was 8 lbs. 3 oz). He had another weight check the following Friday and he was up to 8 lbs. 13 oz. 

The girls were SUPER excited to meet him when they came to the hospital with Jason on Wednesday. It was my first introduction to how life was going to be with two hyper/energetic toddlers and a sleepy/peaceful newborn. They have been really sweet with him and I haven't seen any jealousy. We have just had to set a lot of ground rules for Josiah's safety. 



I'm so thankful I get to be this sweet boy's mom. I am LOVING all the baby snuggles.  Thank you Lord for this precious gift! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2015 Reflections Video

Each year Jason makes goes through all of our family videos and photos, and picks out the best ones to make a Reflections Video. Hope you enjoy!

Christmas Letter 2015


It’s that time of year when we celebrate the birth of our wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus and to reflect on the events of the past year.  He has truly been our Prince of Peace in a year filled with changes.

2015 was a very eventual year for us. In March we decided to list our house For Sale by Owner! This was quite the undertaking. First we rented a storage unit and filled it with all of our non-necessities to free up space. Most of April was spent keeping the house as clean as possible for (sometimes last minute) home showings. De-cluttering the house with two kids at home was quite the task! It normally included Lucy playing by herself in her room and Bridget playing with toys in a pack n play while I frantically ran around the house picking up toys and spraying windex and air freshener! We would then vacate and go play at a park until I got the call from the Realtor that the coast was clear! We were SO thankful when we got an offer about 2 weeks in. Our tasks then changed to paperwork and finding a new house! This was the fun part for me. We found the perfect home only about 2 miles away. It was unoccupied so we bought it early so we could do some quick renovations during the two weeks before we moved in. Of course, this time of renovations and owning two homes at once overlapped our highly anticipated yearly beach trip to Hilton Head with my family. There was no way we were going to back out of that, so I just went prepared to answer renovation questions from the beach!

This year was the year of going to the beach! We visited Destin, FL with Jason's family in late September and had a wonderful time. The weather was absolutely perfect! The girls spent most of their time making sand castles and playing in the pool. Me and the girls returned to Hilton Head in October with some of my family and it was amazing to see how much Bridget in particular had grown just in the 4 months that had passed since she first experienced the beach in May. Whereas her first trip she mainly just stuck her toes in and was wobbly on her feet, she was practically running through the waves in October!

I continue to stay at home full time with Lucy (3 1/2) and Bridget (1 1/2). I am learning to embrace this role and my days are full of tasks such as: feeding, dressing, and bathing the girls, doing art projects with the girls, doing homeschool activities with Lucy, breaking up sibling fights, etc. You can see who my life seems to revolve around... :) I have really enjoyed time getting to know my mom friends better during play dates and other get togethers. This season of my life has also given me time to cook more and learn about Christ-centered parenting, home-life, and activities to keep young children occupied. I have always hoped and prayed that I would get to be a wife and mom and the Lord has granted that desire! I count it as a true privilege to be the one who wakes my kids up every morning, plays with them at home, and gets to be there during the sweet sleep "post-nap" time.

Jason still enjoys his choice of profession as a Physical Therapist. He enjoys connecting with and building relationships with many of his patients. He has even had the opportunity to share the hope of Christ with some of them! This summer he changed jobs and now works with GRU (Georgia Regents University) Health. He has enjoyed getting to know his new co-workers and is thankful for the opportunity to continue to learn and grow as a therapist. One of Jason's passions is helping to lead and teach our Young Marrieds Life Group at Warren Baptist Church. With this group of people we have been able to work together on various ministry opportunities. One was building a well in India through the Never Thirst organization, and another opportunity was assembling care packages for a homeless ministry. Jason is a great dad and enjoys playing with the kids as soon as he comes home from work. In his (pretty limited) spare time, he loves reading and planning firework shows - the most recent "show" was for New Years Eve!

Lucy is full of personality and more talkative than ever! She amazes us with the things she talks about and remembers. She has entered the "Why" stage and her questions definitely keep us on our toes. Her favorite movie is Frozen, and it seems about half of her toys are related to the main characters Anna and Elsa. She loves arts and crafts, coloring, and helping Mommy cook. She enjoys being a big sister but still can't quite grasp the fact that Bridget is younger than her and may not play with toys in the same way as she may want her to. Although they find many things to fight about, they also play together well a lot of the time. Their favorite games include hide and go seek, playing with their babies and strollers, and making forts. She is a true joy to have in our family.

Bridget has been such a fun addition to our family. She has really mastered walking and is now really into climbing, exploring all areas of the house, and even running. She is always attempting to do everything she sees her big sister Lucy doing. She sees no reason why she can't successfully do everything Lucy does. Her favorite activities include playing outside, swinging, taking baths, brushing her teeth, puzzles, and coloring with Lucy. Recently she has started to rapidly add words to her vocabulary. It seems I hear her say 1-2 new words every day! Even though she is almost as big as Lucy, Bridget is still my baby and I enjoy cuddling with her every time she lets me. However, she won't be the baby for long, as we are expecting a third bundle of joy in June 2016!!!!!

Every Christmas I am reminded of the enormous gift of the tiny baby Jesus, born in the stable so many years ago. Because he humbled himself to birth, life, and death as a human, I have been given the incomprehensible gift of a relationship with Him in this life, and the promise of eternal life after death. I depend on this relationship every day as I'm dealing with my worries, struggles, and temptations. I'm so thankful that the God of the universe is just a prayer away and is sovereign over my life. I hope that you also know the hope that is found in Jesus Christ and that you understand the amazing love he has for you.

Check out our 2015 Family Video here.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. - 1 John 4:9-11

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