Thursday, February 26, 2015

Christmasy Happenings!-December Update Part 2

December continued to be a busy month, filled with lots of activities and festivities leading up to Christmas and New Years!
This year mom felt there was an appalling lack of nativity scenes around here so we bought a simple set, Dad set up the lights and Daniel built a stable for it!
 Not too long after that we had the Kellers, a couple from church, over for lunch and fellowship! We really enjoyed vising with them and getting to know them better-they ended up staying till near dinnertime!;)
 After the Kellers left we went to the Night In Bethlehem with Opa, who had also come to visit later, at Liberty Baptist Church..
 Filling out census papers before entering "Bethlehem!"
 The "tour" ended with the quiet nativity scene and our "tour guide" sharing the gospel....
While browsing through their bookstore, mom came up with the idea for this picture. This is the only "santa" we believe in!;)
 We enjoyed seeing a hand choir perform with a song talking about how Christmas is really ultimately about the cross, and then they served cookies and cocoa!
A sweet picture of Daddy and Mommy from the evening....
At the beginning of the tour they take a complimentary picture, so here we all are with Opa! We all enjoyed having him there, especially the little ones!
Some friends from our old church invited us to go pack shoe boxes with Operation Christmas Child, so the five eldest went and we all had a great time working and visiting! Our team was all girls, except for Ryan, Daniel and Isaiah, who we were all grateful for, as we needed heavy lifters and they kept the experience full of good humor and lively!;)
 One Sunday evening, the Orange Circle (a few blocks from our church) was having a Tree Lighting Ceremony, so several of us went to that before having the regular service!

 The choir of a nearby church sang many very God-honoring Christmas hymns led by a Christian man, Mr. Smith knows, who conducts for Disneyland's Christmas celebrations! It was super neat!
The guys were given fandango gift cards for graduation, so we went as a family to watch an advanced screening of the last Hobbit movie, to keep the tradition Dad began with the first one. It was fun to be together as a family, but most of us prefer our own home "theater" to the public ones...;)
Then there was Faith Baptist's Christmas party!! Daniel and Micah are playing with spectator Ryan and commentator Amy!
We played a super fun game called "White Elephant" and ended up having more gifts than people!
Isaiah opens a gift of pringles as onlookers decide whether or not they want to "steal" his gift when their turn comes or not....
After that, we had several, exciting and hilarious round of Pictionary! Some of our group is talented at drawing but for the most part we were often stumped and it led to some great guessing, causing the whole room to explode with laughter!;) We had a great time, though it was smaller this year and we were missing people!
Not long after that, it was time for cousin Sofia's annual birthday party! This is a day the kids look forward to, as Uncle Dan and Aunt Rocio invite all the relatives, and usually rent a jumper!
Eating cake!
We often do not get to see Uncle Johnny as he is so busy with work, so it's always a treat to have him! He, Dad and Uncle Victor are three peas in a pod and always have great fun together!
Being the spontaneous family we are, several of us decided to go to dinner at Mexi Casa, after taking the kids to look at Christmas lights!
Daniel, Isaiah, Janelle and Caytlin all really enjoy hanging out together whenever we are with the relatives...;)
I think the staff at Mexi Casa are getting used to us bringing in such large groups to eat, as they often give us the same tables and we usually don't have to wait too long.....;)
The whole group......we had a really nice time! It seems like life can be so busy even with family! We were glad to have this spontaneous get-together!
Here we are, all 18 of us!:) God has sure blessed our family!!
Saying goodnight with a group hug-literally!

The next morning was our church's Christmas program! The young people had been preparing for it over the months and it went very well! Unfortunately we didn't get any pictures during the performance!
Christmas gifts were handed out after the service! Evie loved unwrapping the little packages!
We had a fun surprise visit from the Chrispens later that evening, and enjoyed pizza very snugly seated, around the table!;)
Another fun outing was having lunch with Auntie "Lola" (Filipino for aunt) while she was visiting from Utah! GGP and GG came as well!
The grandparents gave us these beautiful Christmas stockings made by GG and personalized for each member of the family. They said it was time to make it "official" as all the other relatives have ones! What a special gift!!!:)
They also gave Evie a monkey puppet which she loves!!
After lunch, Auntie Lola insisted on getting ice cream, which we enjoyed at a park!
We've all really grown fond of her and she sure loves Daddy!;)

Finally the time had come for Opa's annual visit, and this year he came and spent Christmas Eve Day with us!
We ate a quick dinner as we were going to open gifts before we left for the Christmas Eve Service!
After dinner was finished we all raced to the garage and after getting everyone in order, Daddy commenced the long, awaited, activity!
Evie got a dollhouse-which was soon opened and set up for her long before the last gift was opened!
Finally!;) (Opa always has us buy our own gifts, so the kids usually know what's in their package making it extra hard to wait!)
More legos for Joshua!
And still more!!;)
Cargo pants...
A necklace chain for Caytlin!
Another tool to add to his collection for woodworking!;)
More cargo pants....;)
Carmex and a new purse!
Mom didn't expect a gift because she had spent her Christmas  money on shoes, but we surprised her and Daddy bought her a jewelry, music box that plays Great Is Thy Faithfulness!;) She was delighted with it!
For Daddy, we had to make it a bit more interesting....we gave him another treasure hunt with clues leading up to his gifts...
A mug and 5 Christian movies were the "treasure!"

As time was ticking away, we had to get going to the Candlelight service and Opa would be leaving soon, so we said a quick goodbye with lots of hugs and "Merry Christmas's!" After that we all jumped in the van and headed to church! The service consisted of the singing of several Christmas hymns, the reading of the Christmas story, remembering the Lord, and as the men handed out and lit candles, we closed with Silent Night.:) It was a really special time!
Having fun with the candles after the service! We blew them all out shortly after this picture was taken...;)
Enjoying chocolates, peppermints and fudge after the service, and visiting!:)

Before we knew it, Christmas morning came! We spent a nice cozy day at home, and watched some of the movies Dad had gotten as gifts. We also opened our stockings which Daddy kindly fills for us every year! We didn't really get any pictures, but that's just how some days are-lots of fun and no pictures!;)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 
                                            John 3:16-18

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Birthday And Gradutation-December Update Part 1

Another birthday I missed while in CO, was Evie's! So we celebrated the day I got home, which was two days after her actual birthday!  
 It's hard to believe she's three now!:)
We enjoyed singing to her and she really, really, enjoyed eating her own mini cake by herself!:)
A few weeks later, much to our joy the guys, Ryan and Daniel graduated from high school! In their honor, Faith Baptist had a graduation ceremony and celebration on a Sunday evening! It was a very special time, and we were blessed by all who came to be a part of it and show their love and support to both guys!
 We started the evening off with prayer and a few hymns!
 Susanna and Nathaniel Smith, and I playing along with the singing like we normally do for service....
 On the last verse of For All The Saints, Ryan and Daniel walked down the aisle....
 Giving their speeches with slideshows in between....
 After the guys shared all the men in our church spoke. Here Mr. Randall and Mr. Smith were sharing on, joy in Christ, the importance of putting God first and always reading His Word.
 Mr. Keller and Mr. Nyer, challenging the guys in their commitments and walks with Christ....
Dad shared how grateful and proud he was for two such fine sons, admonishing them to walk with the Lord. Pastor addressed the guys, reminding them of the absolute necessity to look to Jesus Christ and their relationship personally with Him before any other earthly ambition.
 Finally the moment arrived for the handing out of diplomas!;) Ryan was first up....
 ....then Daniel!
 Turning their tassels.....
 keep going!
 Congratulations, Class of 2015!!!!:D
 I thought this picture was so perfect as it really captures the guys and some of their best friends whose lives they have invested in during their school years..:)
 Visiting with old friends....
 Receiving line...;)
 A picture with cousins, Janelle and Tina, and her husband Miguel.......
 Uncle Kenny, congratulating the guys!;)
 They were both so glad to have the speeches over with!;)
 The little building was fairly bursting with people, so many were there!
 ...we even had people eating outside!!
 ...and in the nursery we had fun visiting with the graduates! After the busyness of the day, it was really nice for the guys to be able to take off their caps and gowns and sit down and relax!;) I do believe that all the laughter coming from our table was due to the fact that many of us were low on sleep preparing for this exciting evening!
 Thanking Mom for all her hard work over the years!
One last picture with the cake!
Congratulations, Ryan and Daniel! Only the Lord knows what the next years hold, and He will guide them both to where they need to be! A verse the boys kept receiving was Jeremiah 29:11, and we have found that verse to be comforting even now in the new year, as the guys are praying and waiting on the Lord for the next step. How comforting it is to know God has a plan and purpose for our lives, even before we have thought to worry about it!;)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
                                                                                                                                   Jeremiah 29:11-13