Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Memories 2010

This year was really not much different than other years as far as how we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day. We are blessed to live close to both sides of our family which means we get to see everybody for each holiday. For our family, we spend Christmas Eve with my side and Christmas morning at home. Then at some point Christmas day, we head down to Matt's side. This year was no different in that manner.
The girls in front of our tree

There was one slight difference. At first we felt odd about it, but now that I look back, that might have been my sweetest moment besides my gift from my mom. My brother-in-law, Mark, loves to cook. He comes up with some amazing dishes. This year for Christmas Eve dinner, he prepared a crown roast for our KING. He had not done this before so was unsure of how long it would take, but knew it would be awesome! So we hung out, talked and waited. Ate some more snacks, talked, waited. Although no one said a word, I know we were hungry little elves. :) As the time clicked away, we realized we were not going to make it for our church service at 8 because the meat finished at 7:15. So we headed home around 9:30 and had our own service at home.
We took turns lighting the advent candles and read scripture that went with each one. We sang some songs and had a lovely time of prayer as a family. It was the sweetest service. After that, we did what we always do on Christmas, give our gifts to Jesus. We use this little green box/ornament:
....after prayer time, we really spend some time considering what it is that we want to give Jesus that year. We write it down and place it in the box and place the box on the tree as a reminder to us that Jesus is the best gift ever given. By the time we finished our service, prayer and gifts to Jesus, it was well past midnight. The girls started begging to open their stockings as they buy for each other's stocking. We agreed.
Stocking time!

No matter how you celebrate Christmas, I pray that you found it to be as precious as mine was with having moments of tender conversations with family, sweet cuddles and snuggles, treasured heirlooms passed down, delighted children and most of all, moments of worshipping the one true King of all, Jesus Christ.
Bean and Daddy having a sweet moment. :)

Doodle giving me a cheesy smile over the rug for her room...which came in the mail in a clear plastic wrapper. Did I mention she got the mail that day?!
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Warm Thoughts

I love my mom so much! Truly I adore spending time with her alone and get that time very seldom as she is still teaching and very busy with her 8 grandchildren. So when she asks me to join her on any venture, I am game! This time, she just asked if she and Dad could have some time tonight with me and my sister. I was very excited to see what they had in store for our time together. My mind went all over the place. My sister and I were like little school girls trying to guess what was in each package beneath the tree as we waited for the night to unravel it's plans.

Once at their home, my mom told us that we were not going to be going anywhere as she had planned. Sadly, our timing of the evening messed up her plans, but she then went to the closet and brought out a bag. In it, a hand muff for each of us as well as earmuffs made from our grandmother's mink coat which we all loved to "pet" during her stays with us at Christmas. None of us would ever want to wear this coat yet having this piece of our heritage with Gram brought both of us to tears. Our Gram passed away 4 years ago and we miss her so much. My mom's plan was to take us downtown for a carriage ride and pull these out to keep us warm. While that would have been more than precious, I think the way she did it allowed us to be more intimate and not worry about the fact we were weeping ladies! While the muffs will never replace our Gram, it is a sweet memory we all have and one day will be able to pass on to our kids. I am grateful that my mom gets the importance of making memories and not just filling a package under the tree. This night was precious and most likely the best gift of Christmas...but that is left to see! :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Great Tree Hunt 2010

Our favorite Christmas tree spot went away a few years ago and we have struggled to find an adequate replacement since then. We loved how many choices they had as well as just how nice the guys were that worked there. They seemed to understand that finding the right tree was also about making memories with the family and not just stopping by some store to grab and go. Well, I must say, my honey spotted this place not too far from home and we were totally blessed by our visit.

Matt and girls on the hunt for the "perfect" tree.

God added to our venture out for the perfect tree as it was snowing beautifully. Just enough to make it sweet and not so much to be a problem. :) God is good!
The girls enjoying searching.....
We did get the tree we went looking that is not "sticky" as the girls say about the trees that have sharper needles. One that is chubby as we love our trees to be big! And one that has a good shape. So with all those requirements, we ended up with our tree.....

The tree with lights only.

After Matt placed the lights, the girls and I got busy decorating like crazy. We have so many little traditions that have come about by chance really. The girls love it though and really they are the ones that make those things happen. As we decorate the tree, we have Christmas music playing...Bing Crosby is a must! After, we watch White Christmas with only the tree lights lit. I love that our girls have made things we just did when they were little into part of what we now do. (does that make sense?) I never set out to have a tree tradition beyond having a tree! yet somehow, it has happened. The hunt for the tree, the decorations, the movie and cuddles after are all precious. Finding this new place to go adds to the hunt indeed!

The finished it!

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Precious Heart Indeed!

Doodle in her white costume

Doodle has been a part of a dance ministry group for three years now. They are a group of committed girls who meet every Saturday morning (usually) through the school year to prepare dances to perform at churches, nursing homes and such. Their leader, Miss Pearl, has a heart like few others. She has taught these girls how to use what God has given them to glorify God. This year, as with the past two years, the group was a part of a local church's Christmas program. This was the first year, the Precious Hearts dancers wore the white outfits which was amazing to see my girl light up the first time she tried it on. She has watched the older dancers who wear these outfits for years and to finally see that happen for her was precious!

I totally enjoyed watching Doodle get ready for her big show each day. Granted the driving back and forth at times was a bit much, but to see your child excelling in something they adore, well that is just a gift!

Doodle in blue costume...second from left

Most of all, I am grateful for Miss Pearl's heart in taking on this ministry for years now. I adore her passion and tender care of our girls' hearts.

Doodle and Miss Pearl
I pray that Doodle always remember for whom she dances and never stops praising her God in such a beautiful way. As she dances, she truly blesses those around. She has a reverence that can not be taught. It is truly a gift and I am forever grateful.
Precious Hearts Dancers~ Doodle in backrow far left.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Run the Good Race

The Miller Girls

Our homeschool co-op has been blessed with a mom who is a natural coach. She loves to encourage the kids to run and be active The past two years, she has had our co-op hold a cross country meet. This year, they even had two meets. One with just our group and then another where we hosted other co-ops. It was a great experience for the girls.

On your marks...get set...GO!!!

I am not a runner at all. While their daddy is, which makes it nice for training. The three of them will head over to the track or just out on a run close to where we live. I love that they can do that together.

Bean running on the trail

Just like in most areas of their lives, our girlies are totally different in their running styles. While Bean is my sprinter. (Go fast or go home!) Doodle is more of the long distance runner. (Slow and steady.) Neither is better, it is just the way God made them. I find it amazing that the way they run is similar to the way they handle most things in life. Bean is quick to make decisions and get something done. While Doodle is much more determined in her steps. It takes her a long time to decide on something and she really likes to take her time and "do it right".

Doodle running along....SMILING!!! Wow!

The other thing that blessed my heart, as I watched the girls, was to witness a sweet friend of Bean's step up and help when she was feeling as if she would like to quit. This friend had not planned on running this race. She didn't have on tennis shoes, or cool running shorts! :) Nope, she was just watching and saw her friend struggling. So, she did what came naturally....she started running with her friend. She ran the rest of the race with Bean until the very end where she walked and let Bean run through the finish line alone. That moment really choked me up. I kept thinking, isn't that what Christ does for us! He is there for us the entire race but in the end, we must cross that finished line on our own and stand before the judge alone. Wow! What a beautiful example of the Christian walk. What a great race!

Bean and her buddy running the race....BEAUTIFUL!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Top 10

Happy Thanksgiving! I know I am a silly girl, but I think we should take time out to be thankful daily and not just one day a year. Regardless, at least we all take time to really think about just what blessings we have this time of year. So, today I am thrilled to be able to count my top 10 blessings in my life at this time.

I am thankful for~

10. Chocolate and chai tea....simple and yummy!

9. A home that is filled with laughter and love more than heartache and hurts. Not saying we never hurt each others feelings, but I am so thankful our family has more times of laughter than of tears.

8. Friends who love me and support me in all my endeavors. Not only supporting me, but pouring their lives into my girls hearts! I love that my girls have supports from all around them in all areas they are involved. Those women in my life at co-op, girls' dance classes, church, small group, scrapbooking buddies, lifetime friends...I adore your hearts!

7. Generous in-laws who have shown me that stuff is just stuff

6. Sunrises and sunsets that remind me of what a Mighty God I serve

5. Sister and brother who still giggle with me over our childhood jokes and also that we support each other in our endeavors regardless of how different we all are. No judgement, just love. :)

4. Parents who showed me the way to Christ and loved me enough to teach me that the best gift they could ever give me was to love each other well. I am grateful my parents did not try to be my friend when I was younger but were my parents who loved me enough to discipline me and teach me to do things the "right" way. :)

3. Being blessed to be called Mommy~ a word I never thought I would hear. I am thankful to have two beautiful girls who bless me with laughter, joy and love daily. These girls have a love and knowledge of God that I am in awe of daily.

2. Being married to a man who I adore and adores me. Having a marriage that is never taken for granted and where we see God's hand throughout. I am grateful Matt understands this woman's heart.

1. Having a God who loved me enough that He laid down His life for mine. While I was still a sinner, He died for me. He did if for you too.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Are you up to the challenge?

Recently, my husband has been on a kick to make some life defining changes around here. I love to see his passion at work and his vision going like crazy. However, there are moments I just want to put on the brakes and scream STOP!!!! I love being comfortable and I realize that is what makes us work. While our personalities are usually so much the same...we differ when we decide it is time to make some changes. It cracks me up that usually I am the one who wants to make changes and he is the one who puts on the brakes. Not this time.

This change, which I can not share the details of quite yet, will mean a job change for part of the year as well as extra hours from the family. It will mean that we have to stop wasting time and make a schedule that we all can adhere to which is not something we are blessed at doing to be honest. This change has all of my feelings of protection and that momma bear wanting to keep her young close to her up and ready to pounce.

Yet, with all that being said, I see in my man a glimmer in his eye. I see a spark of excitement which I want to honor. So as the wife, I want to move forward and see what God can do using my man in this life change. As the mom, I want to grab him and smack him! LOL! Not really! I just want to make sure that what the girls have now, an active Daddy, will always be true regardless of life changes. So, for those of you who know us personally, please pray for us over the next few months. When I feel I can share more details, I will. Until then, we just need prayers to make sure we are doing what God wants for our family and not what we desire. I also want to be open to the walk God has for me and not put brakes on something that would be His will. I have full faith that God is good and more than able to make all this come out for good. I just want to make sure it is His will first! Oh, now look what I've done...I've gotten all worked up about this issue again! Better go pray through it again!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Words

Do you ever have those days, weeks, months or even maybe years where you feel you are just in a funk and not be effective for God no matter what you do?! I know that is a lie straight from the pits of hell and I also know that choosing to stay at that place keeps us from growing closer to God or doing what He has called us to do. Sometimes I am able to snap out of that mode very quickly with a great Quiet Time, song, prayer time....whatever helps me focus on God and off myself.

However, this week, God used a student at our co-op to reach out to me and grab hold of my heart. This has been a very stressful and emotional week as the Teaching Day Coordinator at our co-op. We have had a lot of decisions to make about some touchy issues. I will not go into the details but trust me to know that I am not good at confrontation and God is stretching me. So when I got on my Facebook account this afternoon I had the following post on my wall:

Hey Mrs. Miller!! :) i just wanted to tell you how i much i love you and how much your familia means to me! ♥ thanks for bein' such a model of Christ and always liftin' me up towards Him and encouraging me. i love bein' around yall...i just want you to know im prayin' for you. and that i love you so very very very very much ♥
Those words were just what I needed to hear today. This week has left me feeling weary to do what God has called me to do yet I know that when God calls us to do a work, no matter what that work may be, He also equips us. So today, God used a sweet 16 year old girl from our co-op to reach out and touch my heart, restore my faith in what I am doing and encourage me to not give up the good fight. So, if you are reading this post, sweet girl...thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping my focus right were it needs to be...on God and off me. :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

School Pictures

One of the ladies at our co-op is a gifted photographer. She has taken the girls pictures over the years for yearbook or back to school shots. I love them! This year is no different. I am hoping to get some more done of the girls before it gets too cold. Just thought I would share what we have so far. Love them!

Doodle and Bean with the individual shots

The many shots of the Miller Girls! So hard to decide which one will end up on my wall!

ok, I will admit it...I think I like this last one the best. ;)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Big Question

With it being Halloween today, I thought I would repost how our family handles this day that causes many Christians much debate~
The Girls busy baking cookies and packaging them up.

I love fall in Indiana! It is probably my favorite season, but I am one of those weird women who enjoys all four seasons. So while I adore fall colors, raking leaves and crunching through them with my girls, one thing I do not enjoy about this season is the inevitable discussion on halloween. I have found over the years that fellow Christians are the most opinionated about this topic and are not afraid to speak up if they are doing something you don't or vice versa. I love how some of my friends have tackled this day in their homes. One friend has renamed it calling it "HallowHim" and hosts a festival for her children's friends at their home. They do dress up but with no scary outfits. They play Christian music, have a dvd playing, games, candy. All to grab back a night that was intended for evil.

The kids with my grandma for her last "Dress up/Cookie Night"

Another friend dresses their kids up in Bible character costumes and spreads the Good News that way. I see that as a great witness when the kids share who they are dressed up as to their friends.


We choose to not participate in the halloween typical festivities for various reasons which are between us and God, however, I can tell you this...a long time ago, a dear friend of mine and I were discussing the fact that we did not want to keep taking away these childhood activities without replacing it with something equally fun for the kids. We feared our kids would resent that one day. Putting our heads together, we came up with the heart behind Halloween was greed..."how much candy can I get" or at least it was for us as kids. So the opposite heart would be to give. So we brainstormed ways to give on this day. What we came up with was renamed "Dress up Cookie Night" by the kids. The kids all help us bake cookies the week up to halloween and we put them in baggies with a scripture greeting on the baggie. We let the kids dress up in outfits we have in our own dress up boxes before heading to the area nursing homes. We pass out cookies to the tenants who are forgotten much of the year. So what was intended to focus on getting and on children, we managed to flip for just the opposite...focus on the elderly getting. Our kids love this tradition! They can't wait for it and plan their outfits well in advance each year even at the ages they are now.


I guess I am posting this not to shine a spotlight on our family's tradition but on the fact, as Christians, we have choices. Each family has to decide how they want to handle these days. That decision should be between them and God and not be based on feeling inadequate, judged or pressured into doing it the way another family does. If we make sisters and brothers in Christ feel judged, how in the world do we think we make the non-Christians feel? One thing I know for sure, no matter how you decide to handle this day, this day will never be won back for Christ as long as we are judging others way of celebrating it or not.

P.S. We started this in 2002 before digital cameras entered our home...I am so trying to figure out a way to upload those precious pictures as they are just way too cute!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Habits are Hard to Break...or Start!

I have been trying to change some bad habits lately and replace them with healthier ones in effort to be a healthier momma! Man, is that ever tough to do. We sure do get set into a routine of how things run around our homes pretty quickly and then it is just tough to break the cycle in our homes as well as in our minds. So, a friend of mine has offered to help keep each other in check that we are starting our days off with quiet time and exercise. I am struggling to get out of bed! I love this friend's willingness to get up and text me as accountability. We have both had days we struggle so it is nice to know we are not alone.

After getting going though, I do find I am a more focused momma and a softer spoken one as well. So far, week two, no weight loss...sad reality to my female issues...I just don't lose weight easily...however, that will not deter my working to be making healthier choices. I believe if I keep going, God will bless my efforts with the weight coming off but as of yet, not so much, which some days makes me so frustrated. Regardless, I am praying that I can be diligent in these new plans and that in a few months, I will be able to write that I have a new habit I need to get off here and get busy!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's a BIG Day!

To some people, today feels no differently than yesterday. They will awaken to the same morning routine, head off to their various tasks/jobs of the day and not give it another thought. However, in our home, today is a BIG day. Today is Bean's Adoption Day, which is the day when we walked into a court room 10 years ago and stood before a judge stating what we had already committed to the first time we laid eyes on our girl...that we would be her forever family! That day cemented on paper what we knew earlier and had thanked God for each was His completion of our family.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Bean at age 4. Way too fun!

So, in honor of the way God chose to bring our family together, we do celebrate Adoption Day with our girls. We allow them to choose what they want to do, within reason. Some years we go ice skating, some years it is a movie, some it is play at a park with a couple friends. Whatever they decide, we always do it with all four of us together since that is what this day really celebrates....the day we all became "The Miller's". I am not sure what Bean has decided she wants to do and we do have school, dance to contend with but I am sure whatever it is, it will be fun! I am so thankful for being given the gift of this child in my life and the honor of being her mommy...forever! What a precious honor! :) Love ya, Bean! Happy Adoption Day!

This is another favorite after she lost her first tooth. Look at those curls! :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Doing Life Together

Several years ago, we started this small group through our church that, at the time, consisted of three couples. One couple had three children and were expecting their fourth. Another couple had no children that we knew of and then there was us, who had the two girls. At that time, my girls were 2 and 5...I think that is right. Anyway, what I didn't know then that I know now is that the love we shared in that little group would stick with me through some of the toughest days for all of us and also through the most joyous of days to come.

Both of these couples have since moved away. One is within an hour and the other is two hours away. Yet that does not stop the phone calls, texts, emails from coming. These couples will remain our strong faith friends as we walk through life. They know our hearts. They share our pain. They know our joys. We know theirs and share in them with them. Distance has not taken away that feeling of sharing life together and what a joy to know that is true. True, it is not the same as when we all lived so close together, yet it is sweeter now because now there are years of life shared and with that comes wisdom and comfort.

We just spent the day with one of the families mentioned above yesterday. The couple who we thought had no children. We later found out they not only had a child, but that he was with the Lord now. The pain of watching them struggle to conceive again and carry a baby to term was truly painful to walk through with them, yet yesterday as I sat by and watched their now 6 year old daughter be baptized, well, tears of joy! I remember being at the hospital holding her and her little sister and now they are the ages of my girls when we started this group.

What a blessing to have been given this group years ago. Little did I know then, that these couples would be in our life forever. I am so grateful that God lead each of us to that small group and that we all stayed and did not let first impressions give way to letting God move. :) Love ya guys!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grand Canyon Adventure 2010

Last Sunday, a group of men from our church, including our pastor, took off on an adventure of a lifetime. They had decided they didn't just want to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim like other people do. They needed to do that in one day! No matter how crazy it sounded to anyone who heard what they were doing, they all were determined they were going to accomplish this quest. Their first leg of the trip was to fly to Vegas, get vans and head to Bryce Canyon, where they stayed in the only hotel of the trip. The next day, the hiked in Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon

After hiking there for two days, they moved their camp to Grand Canyon. They camped on the north rim the first night.

The next day, they awoke early (4AM) and headed out for their big adventure. Thirteen of the fifteen headed down into the canyon while two of the guys took down the camp and moved it to the south rim where the men would join them later that night.

Matt at the bottom of the canyon at Phantom Ranch

Matt thought this was cool. It was hanging outside on the gift shop wall.

The men all finished their jaunt and without great injury. Sure they had some blisters, chaffing, sore legs but no one had to be taken away on a stretcher! I know for Matt this was a great goal he had set before him and to see it completed was very fulfilling. While they all finished, no injuries and great times by all, they all have said they would never do that again! It was the toughest thing they have ever done.

Guys in our small group (Matt in blue shirt)

Euchre buddies

Over all, I think they all would say this was a great adventure. I am thrilled to have my man back home with me. He has had so many stories to tell and pictures to share that he is like a kid in a candy store trying to decide what to share next! Why do I enjoy having my man make these trips? Well, send your man on a trip with the guys and find out!!! ;)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Studs of the Canyon

Matt and his hiking buddies just returned from their big venture to hike rim to rim of the Grand Canyon in a day. They accomplished this task, which is amazingly tough. Now that he is home, I am enjoying hearing all the stories and seeing all the pictures. This one is one I personally enjoy...his friend sent it to us. It is three of the 13 hikers showing their "guns". Gotta love it!

Matt (in red) and his buddies, Chuck and Bill showing their guns. They are the studs of the Canyon indeed! :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sweet Talking Time

Recently, I was blessed to get to take my 13 year old daughter, Doodle, away for some much needed Mom/Daughter fun. On the agenda this trip was the much needed purity talk. So I purchased the Passport 2 Purity kit from Family Life before leaving. I knew some of the information in this kit would really not bless my daughter as she is extremely innocent by choice. When she hears things that make her uncomfortable, she leaves the room. When cousins speak of boyfriends/girlfriends, she really gets uncomfortable and comes to sit with me. She is not at all interested in boys other than friends, and I am so fine with that. So, sitting down with Mom to discuss just how it all fits together was not on her agenda of fun for sure, however, it was time. We have always talked about God's design for sex, pregnancy and their changing bodies at age appropriate levels dependent on interest. I figured they would ask when they are ready to hear the answer. However, at 13, I knew it was time to force the issue and make sure she knew all the facts so she could protect herself as well as make decisions for her future with boys. Since this was so shocking, I knew I needed to find something to make her feel safe, comfortable and a kid still, so we started off the weekend together going to see Mary Poppins on stage and boy, did it not disappoint at all! Great show!

My "practically perfect" Doodle
Upon arrival at the hotel, Doodle was so excited to see we had a King-size bed that she ran and jumped on it face-first. It reminded me of Princess Diaries! Sweet!
Excitement over the big bed!
Before we could go shopping, which was the fun part of our weekend, we listened to some cd's and talk through what was said. After listening to two of them, we decided to head shopping. Doodle ran to the restroom really quickly before leaving. When she came out, she said," This is the hotel we are suppose to be at, Mom. All the toiletries are named Purity!" I had to see it myself. Cracked us up that God would be so cool!
God is so cool...Pure inside and out! :)
One of the sweet moments was giving Doodle her new Bible. Being 13 has it's perks! She has a beautiful new NIV study Bible with her name engraved. It is sweet to see her more excited about a new Bible than new clothes, even at 13! What a sweet spirit!

Doodle showing off her new Bible and digging into it the next morning.

The best part of this weekend had to be the date with Daddy. We packed up and headed out to meet our guy. True to character, Matt was standing by the restaraunt of our choice with a single rose for his girl. He looked so sweet and maybe a bit scared. I think they both worried that now that she knew all about those "yucky" boys, she would somehow feel odd around Daddy or that for her Daddy would treat her differently. I think all were relieved to see that it was just the same. :)

Doodle and Daddy on our special date.

At our dinner, we discussed the plans we have chosen for our girls when it comes to dating and such with Doodle and listened to her great ideas and heart on the same topics. I am thrilled to see that she has such a great heart on this topic and knows which friends are going to help her keep this goal of purity. I am just thankful that my girl has set a great plan in motion, respects our guidelines and desires to seek after God's plan for dating and marriage. I am also a tad bit biased, but I think her date was just too stinkin' cute! :)

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