A GATHERING OF MOMS

There are wonderful mothers in most families,,,mine included.  These are the women who help lay the groundwork for the way you were raised.   Much of what you and your grandchildren are taught to respect and hold dear, comes from the mothers who have moved on to another place.  I can joyfully say these women who have physically left this earth are in heaven and waiting for me to join them there.  How blessed I am to come from such a legacy.  Here then is a gathering of the mothers who helped shape me.

My mother’s mother…Annie Mariah Tew Merritt….when I was just a baby…

 

 

 

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Here she is a few years before she passed away…Granny Merritt…

 

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Here is the sweet mother of my Daddy…  Ester Lillian Hallman Townsend…..Granny T…

 

 

 

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And this is a picture of Don’s Daddy’s mother…she passed early in our marriage…Ola Owens…

 

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Sitting with my young boys is my mother in law and Don’s mother Sarah Elizabeth Meadows Owens…..

 

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Elizabeth Owens…she was a kind and gentle soul who loved her Lord and her family greatly…..

 

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Here is my mother a day after I was born…Elosise Merritt Townsend….

 

 

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With me, ready for church….

 

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With her grandchildren, Ian,Lori, Alex, Adam, Tara, who learned and loved so much from her…

 

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With Joy and I on one of our fun trips together…

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My beautiful mother, whom I miss every day….

 

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Joy and I holding our precious grandsons….Levi Hampton Owens, and John Thomas Bush

 

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My Sister, with her children…Joy Annette Townsend McKibben with Lori and Tara

 

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Me, with my children…Tonja Lynn Townsend Owens…with Alex, Ian, Adam…

 

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And the next generation….Tara Suzanne McKibben Bush with John Thomas

 

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Suzanne Michelle Horne Owens with Levi…

 

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HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

THE MERRIEST CHRISTMAS 2014

THE MERRIEST CHRISTMAS DAY…2014

The last car has gone from the yard and the house is too quiet!  But, OH! MY! the fun that has gone on within the walls of the Creekhouse during the past few days!  I think it was the best Christmas ever!  (But, I say that every year).  But, this one was surely among the top!

Christmas Day started bright and early with me getting the turkey in the oven.  Then finishing the meal prep with Don’s help, and getting dressed and ready for the fun!  First to arrive was Tara and Will and John Thomas, followed by Lori, and Tommy and Joy and Pop!  We knew Tina and Ian and Jackson were on the way, but were going to go ahead and start eating!  We held hands around the table and prayed together.  As soon as we said “AMEN”…in they walked!  So, we quickly added a postscript to our prayer and thanked God we were all together and for safety in their travels.  Alex was able to be up and enjoy the family, too!  Thank you, God!   (Adam had to work…and Suzanne and Levi were joining us after lunch at her parents.)

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After lunch, Adam and Suzanne came in and I followed the advice of several of my friends.  Last week I posted a pic of our 3 little guys made on my front porch steps.

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Several of you suggested I make this an annual photo of the boys and I thought that was a wonderful idea!  So here is CHRISTMAS ON THE STEPS…2014

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We had a big surprise for Levi, and as soon as we had snapped these boy’s pics, we took him into the garage where he had this waiting for him!  He was ecstatic!  We were trying to give him a chance to ride it a little before it got dark!  He jumped right on and the other boys hopped in too!  Off they went…down the drive, and all the way to the bridge!  What made it even more special was that Adam and his work partner happened to be free and swung the ambulance by the house in time to see Levi’s big surprise!  Thank you, Lord, for working that out!  As it turned out, we all went outside for the big ride…and made lots of pics while there.

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We gathered in the den to share some gifts.  Pop blessed us all by donating gifts to Heifer International, in each of our names.   This organization provides animals to those who live in deep poverty around the world.  By using the animals, goats, sheep, chicks, cows, pigs,  rabbits, etc., they are able to have milk and eggs for their family, and some to sell.  They then can breed the animals, as well.   By suppling a few families in the poorest of villages, soon they are able to help each other out and help provide for the village as a whole.  This is a Christian organization and well worth supporting.  Also donations were made to Clean Water and Smile Train.  This is such a worthy gift and honors us greatly.  Pop and Mom started doing this years ago, and it has become a blessing to our family.  To know that we, who need so little, are helping many who are in such need, is humbling.  Thank you Pop for having such a giving heart and for being so willing to share so others may have a better life.  You lead us well!

Levi sang ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus’ for us, and we all sang some Christmas songs together.

Then the little boys dug into their gifts and had a ball!  Too soon, we were all stuffed and sleepy and the  celebration came to an end!  It couldn’t have been any sweeter!

THE MERRIEST DECEMBER 26….2014

Because Adam could not join us on Christmas, we extended our family celebration into the next evening.  Oh, what joy it was for me to have all my children and all my grandchildren and Don and I in the same room at the same time!  Adam and Alex and Ian had fun just playing and sharing tech stuff.  They laughed and danced and sang and I watched it all with pride and happiness!

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Levi finally gave out on us and the night had to come to a close.  BUT…I had told the whole group I was getting pictures of my boys and nobody was leaving until I did!  So, grudgingly, I got the boys and Don and I in three quick pics!  Treasure, I tell you!  Treasures!

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You’d think folks would be glad I made a few photos of the day, wouldn’t you!  They all like to have them after they are made!  And, most of the family is cooperative….but these guys?  Party poopers!

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Can you believe it?

Jackson got his bath and posed for a sweet Christmas picture in his Christmas PJ’s beside my tree….gladly, I might add!

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And, a few minutes ago they pulled out of the driveway, heading back to Birmingham.  Levi is spending the day playing with his new toys, at home with Adam and Suzanne.   Alex has retreated to his apartment to recuperate, Don is watching a movie, and I…I am here…documenting it all.  I love to record the happy memories we make.  I want my children to be able to look back on these posts one day and remember just how sweet the times were.  I want my grandchildren and grandnephew to remember how blessed they are to be in a family that loves and adores them.  I want us all to remember this is not by accident.  It is by the grace and mercy of our Lord.  Thank you, God.

“It is God who gives us these times of joy!”  Nehemiah 12:43

 

 

THE MANGER

MANGER….a box or trough in a stable or barn from which horses or cattle eat.

A week or so ago, Joy and I went to Birmingham for a few days….to shop, yes, and just to get out of town, mostly!  We have our favorite places we like to go and sort of make the rounds until we hit all the places on our list.  We sort of criss-cross the whole city!.   One of our favorites is a gift shop in Hoover.  It’s a must on our list each time.  Joy let me off at the door, went to park the car…because she is a good sister who always looks after me!  The minute I walked through the door, my eyes rested on a little manger made of wood…with straw, shoved under a table full of much finer things.  A little doll lay on the straw.  I didn’t pick it up to check the price…I didn’t touch it at all.    I didn’t even ask Joy if it would fit into her car!  I went straight to the checkout desk and told the girl there that I wanted it!  She said that that was the last one they had and they did not have a box, so they would have to pack it up for me.  “Fine”, I told them, “I’m in no hurry.”  I found several other gifts for family and friends, and then went to check out.  They had folded it all together and packed it into a small package.  And, it fit into the car just fine!

Then we began looking at the doll that was to represent Baby Jesus.  It was not a pretty baby.  It was very strange looking, actually.  And, its eyes would not close…so I knew we could not sing ‘Away In A Manger’…since the’ Little Lord Jesus’ could not go to ‘sleep on the hay’. That would not do, at all.  And so we added a baby doll to our list.

Now, I know nothing about baby dolls.  Raising 3 boys, it was never on their lists!  Even though they did have on old baby doll they played with when they were toddlers…but I don’t even know where it came from. Forgive me boys for telling your secrets)   Dolls are strange.  Some have the saddest looking faces…and by sad, I mean scary.  I don’t know why they would even make some of the ones we saw.  We looked in several places and finally found one that had a sweet face and eyes that closed.  And, the best part was that it had a soft squishy body instead of a hard molded one.  Never mind that it had on a pink ensemble with matching hat, booties, and bottle.  Once we got rid of those things…there was no evidence of gender at all.  (OH MY!  I’ve probably offended someone!  So sorry!)

I am a big believer in ‘hands on’ learning.  You can see pictures and read books and talk about it…but when you actually feel the rough wood, and place the pieces of hay, it becomes clearer.  Swaddling clothes…what does that mean to a little one?  Not much…until you show him how the strips of cloth were wrapped around Jesus’ little body when he was born.  I dare say, he will never hear about a manger again without thinking about what it really looks and feels like.  He knows now that ‘it wasn’t soft’.

I could hardly wait for Levi to see it!  I set it up right beside the tree, and put all the items on the floor around it.  There was a mossy mat, and straw, and a piece of torn blanket, along with a book and the doll.

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Now this piece of blanket was no where near what we would call ‘swaddling clothes’.  So, I tore several long strips from an old sheet and added them to the mix.  And, waited for Levi to come.

It was the sweetest thing.  I showed him all the pieces and he went right to work.  First he put the little mat in the bottom. (“Hang on, Baby!”)

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And then he added the hay (straw).

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He put it all in and then felt of it with his little hand and said, “Lulu, this is not soft.”  I told him that when Baby Jesus was born, he did not have a soft bed, and that all he had was somewhere hard to lay.  He thought about it for a minute and then set about finishing.  First he sorted through the pile of cloths and got the biggest one.  He laid the doll on it and wrapped him up tightly.

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And then he laid the doll in the bed and covered it with the piece of blanket.

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He took a few piece of the straw and laid them on top of the blanket.  Then he looked down at him and said, “Go to sleep now, Baby.”  And, as he turned to go back to play with his toys, he stopped and looked at me again and said, “It’s just not soft.”

He’s right.  Our King came into this world in the lowliest of ways.  He didn’t have a soft bed.  He had hard wood, or maybe even stone, and the smell of animals, and the itch and sting of hay.  But, he had a mother and father who loved him, and who did the best they could with what they had.  His first visitors were among the bottom of society at that time.  Shepherds…whose job was to tend to animals.  And more visitors came later.  Kings…who were wise and brought gifts that showed how important the child was to our world.  The lowly and the exalted…he came for all!

My wish is for this little manger to be seen by the 3 little boys in our family every Christmas.  Right there with all the presents and the ribbons and lights.  A reminder that the first gift was…and will always be…the best gift!  This has always been the focus of our family and it will continue into the next generation.

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“I WISH YOU THE VERY MERRIEST CHRISTMAS !  MAY IT BE FILLED WITH LOTS OF FUN AND LAUGHTER AND GOOD FOOD.  AND MAY THE MEMORIES YOU MAKE LAST A LIFETIME !” 

(Please forgive the blurriness of these pics…it was very hard to get him from an angle to see what he was doing.  And, he was into fixing it just right…not in posing for pictures!  Which is exactly the way it should be!)

 

A FLING IN TENNESSEE

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With my partners in the hunt for all things old and rusty and distressed, Shirl and Tina and I headed north to Franklin, Tennessee for a few days of fun, shopping, catching up, good food and …shopping.  This was the weekend of the City Farmhouse Pop-Up Show in Leiper’s Fork, TN, close to Franklin….close to Nashville.

First of all, Franklin is such a neat town…with lots to do.  Cute little shops and terrific places to eat.  We spent two days exploring the shops and discovering little antique stores…finding little treasures all along the way!  We all did some Christmas shopping…both for giving and decorating!  Here…a few pictures from around town.

 

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Look…It’s MY store…

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Great lunch here…

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The bottles say…FAMILY and FRIENDS…perfect!

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Acting silly in a Christmas store…we all bought a hat for our grands…but we had to make sure they were cute first!

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Oh, what fun this was!  Over 150 vendors from all over the U.S.  It was everything we love!  The grounds were beautiful and it was just delightful being out in God’s beautiful world!

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city-farmhouse-basketAll too soon, Sunday rolled around…

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…another fun adventure in the books…sweet memories made…and friendship bonds stronger than ever!  Till next time, friends!

 

*********Picture credits…..#1,9,14,17,18,19,20,21….The City Farmhouse…..all others…Tonja Owens.**********

 

LABOR DAY WEEKEND 2014

What a wonderful weekend in beautiful Laguna Beach!  Don and I, along with Levi, set out early Friday morning.  Destination…The Sand Castle!  Suzanne and Adam joined us early evening.  I have just gotten a new vehicle and it has the built in DVD player.  Levi was all excited about watching ‘Frozen’ on the way to the beach!  Ironic, much?

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First job is to do a little cleaning up around the place.

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Checking out the dead bugs on the car…Oh, the things that fascinate little boys!!!

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Suzanne and Adam arrived and Levi took Adam straight to the dirt to play with his new car.

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Then a bucket load of rocks he found made their way into a delightful design on the front porch…all placed ‘just so’ by Levi.  I love how he curved it in two places!

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Wearing my favorite beach shirt, after his bath!

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Next morning, it’s off to the beach for Suzanne, Adam, Levi and Don.  I’m still having foot troubles, so under doctor’s orders to stay out of the sand.  “No fair!”  I sent my camera with them and instructed them all to make many, many pictures!  And, they did!

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Play time over…warm bath…and nap time!

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Adam and Suzanne decided to go out and eat…so Don and I took Levi out, too!

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Then, while I ‘people watched’…Levi and Don found some rides just fit for a little boy!  And, since I was not with them…no pics!

Morning came too quickly!  Time to clean up and pack up and head home to Dothan!

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And, though we were separated by about 300 miles…it made us happy to know that Ian and Tina and Jackson were spending fun time together.  They went to a ball game and then spent today at an arcade with skating and other fun!  Ian even had on skates!  Missed being together with them this weekend.  Was so hoping to get lots of love from sweet Jackson.  But, soon…

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Alex was not able to be with us either this weekend…and he was sorely missed, as well.  Joy and all her family went to the mountains and rented a cabin .  They have had a ball,too!

FAMILY…isn’t that just one of the sweetest words in our language?!

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So good-bye to summer….even though here in South Alabama, the heat will be with us till at least November!  We will certainly ready to feel a little ‘nip’ in the air!  Time to get out the pumpkins and the fall leaves and the scarecrows.  Here comes school days and football and festivals and heading straight into the wonderful seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

 

JOY IN THE JULY JOURNEY

DOTHAN…July 1, 2014

As soon as my foot was released from its hard cast prison after 5 weeks…I progressed to an air cast.  Told to wear it all the time, except to take a bath, I took that to mean that big ole bathtub in the backyard would be fine, as well.  And, first thing Tuesday morning, I donned my swim suit and carefully waded into the pool.  Soon I was joined by the two cutest little boys in town, along with their mother and aunt.  Oh, we had such a great time!  Following are some pics from the day.

 

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Loving my new camera!

 

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It make pics underwater!  And, it will not break if you drop it!  Camera heaven!  Everyone has had a ball using my camera to make these great pics in the pool.  Today is the first day that I got to use it.  However, these underwater pics are courtesy of Suzanne…I have to practice a little more!  It probably would help if I could open my eyes underwater! 🙂

LAGUNA BEACH…July 2-3,2014

Oh what fun Don and I had with Suzanne and Adam and Levi for 2 days…We crammed as much in as possible!

 

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Sweet Levi is not a fan of the ocean.  He likes to run in the sand,  and pick up shells, but does not want to touch the water.  However, he loves to swim.  A friend had told us about a wonderful public water park here in PCB.  It is the Frank Brown Recreational Complex on Back Beach Road…just past the ‘Y'” going toward PCB.  There is a website you can go to learn more info.  It is a fantastic park.  Plenty of playground equipment, picnic tables, fishing, and 2 wonderful pools.  One is dedicated for children, but parents are welcome to go in with their little ones…there are all sorts of climbing equipment and sprinklers and slides.  Such fun.  And very well kept up.  $8.00  adults…$5.00 kids.

LAGUNA BEACH/ PANAMA CITY BEACH…..July 11-14, 2014

Joy and I, along with Tara and Lori and John Thomas took a long week-end trip to the Sandcastle.  We all needed a little break from ‘real life’…and the beach seemed to be just what we needed.  We ate out and slept in.

 

 

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John Thomas and Tara and Lori took in Shipwreck Island, and Wonder Works…while Joy and I took our time on the couch and the front porch!  To each his own!  They all managed a trek down to the beach and some swimming in the ocean…my foot said,” Stay right where you are…on solid ground!”  And, so I did!

 

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John Thomas and I did a little painting.  He painted a ‘goldie fish’ to grace the walls of the SandCastle.

 

 

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Suzanne and Adam and Levi joined us for the day on Monday.  We all headed back over to the Recreational Complex I mentioned above and had a wonderful day, playing and eating and swimming…with lots of fun and laughter!

 

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DOTHAN…7/16/14

Today Levi stayed with Don and I for the day while his parents were busy.  First Pa cooked Levi his favorite, ‘baconeggs’…and then they went to ride the toys.  Finally, a little newspaper reading was in order while they cooled off! 20140716_094116-1

 

 

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Then I managed to snap some good close-ups of the little man while we played outside waiting for Suzanne to come!

 

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JULY 21-24, 2014

Officially, this isn’t on my list, because I was not there.  But, family was.  And, since this is my blog, I get to make the rules!  Love how that works out!  Anyway, Jackson and Tina were able to spend a few days at the Sand Castle.  Word from them was a great time was had, even amidst the rain.  There was still swimming and fun to be had.  And, fried crab claws, too!  I only wish i could have spent some of the time with them.  They are so dear to me!

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Today Suzanne started back to school…crazy, huh?  So I’m back to Levi and Lulu time!  It has been such a fun day.  But, boy is our schedule ever off!  We’ve got some work to do to get back in our groove! Don is out of town, so Levi said he could not eat ‘baconeggs’…so we had bananas, toast and blackberries.  He was too excited to eat, I think.  Cause he knew what I had promised him we would do when he came to stay again.  Paint! art-quoteHe had seen my paints out and had been wanting to paint and I kept putting him off…but today was the day!  First, he donned his new painting apron.  Look!  He wrote his own name!

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We started with the watercolors.  He did well for the first time.  It’s not easy to remember to dip the brush into water between each color…but he finally got it.

 

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I title the above finished painting…”Just A Little Brown”. ( The bottom pic in photo below).   After he had finished painting such a pretty mix of blues and greens, he looked at it and said, “Gotta put some brown right here.”  And, so he did.  Wonder what that thought process was.  Maybe he just has an artist’s eye!

 

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His second attempt turned out beautifully, I think.  I think it looks like wet cupcake sprinkles!  Don’t you just love how the colors blend in together…no matter what color is used? Next we moved on to fingerpaint.  He was not quite as sure about this.  After he realized it was just fine to get paint all over his hands, he began to enjoy it.  We eventually moved it to the floor.  And decided the best picture of all was Lulu and Levi’s hand prints all over an old towel!

 

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We decided then that the best way to celebrate our art was with a swim!  And even Uncle Alex and Finn joined us for a while!  Such a beautiful day to be in this glorious world created by the Master Designer!  After all that and a quick lunch, I was ready to rest.    I was just happy to put my feet up!  Well…at least this little man got some dream time in.

 

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And so ends our short journey through the month of July, 2014.  Could life be any sweeter?  God is just so good and gracious to our family.  All is not roses and candlelight…and we go through our tough times.  Things happen that we want to run from.  We are affected by circumstances that we have no control over.  We still deal with illness on a daily basis.  But through it all…God brings the joy!  We are not thankful FOR all things we go through…but we are thankful IN all things.  Because the only way you get to appreciate the joy…is to taste some of the bitter.  The promises of God are always true and always steadfast.  He will never fail.  Thank you God, for allowing me to know this in my heart of hearts!

 

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