Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas is finally here!

Christmas Eve is finally here. I think that I am ready! Today was the first day I really felt the peace of Christmas. I woke up this morning to snow falling down. Beautiful, fluffy snow. It is perfect snowman and snowball snow!
I have been reading the book The Christ of Christmas by Calvin Miller. It has been helpful and refreshing. I needed to focus on Christ, not on me or my situation. The book talks about praise lifting us from our own selfishness. About focusing on the Christ-child, our Savior and King. In the moments that we do that, we are truly experiencing the gift of Christmas.
I have put some picture on of our Christmas adventures.
Here I am, at the Candlelight service of the Evangelical Free Church of Mt. Morris. It was a very nice service. The adult choir and the children's choir sang.Our Pastor, Bruce McKanna. The Adult Choir, Brett singing bass. I didn't get to sing. I couldn't really stand up well and it was hard enough just to be there. But it was very nice! The snow on Christmas eve. It is so pretty. Although, for those who have to shovel, it isn't so nice. I always think of the the hymn, Whiter than Snow.

Our backyard. The dog is up to her chest when she goes out.
We have at least a foot on our porch roof!
Many Blessings to you and yours this Christmas Eve. I hope that when you read the Christmas story, you are impressed again with the joy and love that came down at Christmas!
Much love,
Cindy and the boys

Sorry about the lack of a tuba video. It is awaiting editing by Brett. Then I will post it as soon as possible.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas time is officially here!

I don't think that the Christmas season really begins at our house until the Christmas sugar cookies get made! It is a big deal. We use Grandma Arnold's (I think) is great! They are thick and chewy and really, really addictive! Then there is the decorating! I mix, roll and bake but I don't frost by myself! Sam and Brett helped this time. Sam and I are pretty fast, but Brett likes his cookies "just so".

"Cookies, yay!"

Sam and I are ready to go!

We cut them out first. We did stockings, snowmen, trees, stars, bells and people.Ready to frost!
Partly frosted. It takes a long time....
Sam is tired of frosting. But at our house if you want to eat them, you frost!

I always try to make Brett a big cookie. This year was a tree. He was a little sad because we didn't have red hots.
First, you frost...then add the sprinkles and other good stuff!


Now it is Christmastime for sure!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

25 years!!!

Yes, today is the 25th Anniversary of my wedding to my best friend, Brett. Wow, 25 years goes by really fast when you are having kids, moving around the country and being busy with ministry. I thought I would share just a few pictures of our life together. Mostly because we can laugh at ourselves...and believe me, that has saved our marriage many times!
First a picture of the day it all started!
The whole family was involved in this wedding. From left to right: Seuzi and Dave Conlee (my brother), Mom, Me, Brett (yes, that young looking man), Dad, Mike and Sue Gumm. Sue was pregnant with Robyn, Cherie and Valerie are in the front. It was 1983, so forgive the big hair!
Then we morphed into this....
Boy, that was a long time ago....
Melanie and Mervyn are our "other selves".

And Finally.......

I love this picture...
I must go now, but will post more later.
Thanks, Brett, for the best and most interesting and entertaining years of my life....
I love you!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Christmas Spirit...

I haven't had much Christmas spirit lately. I think it is because of the move, being away from family and the general "blah" I have felt lately. I decided I better try something to get some spirit, so I decorated my house....didn't work. I made cookies...didn't work. I shopped a little...really didn't work. So, I sat down and wrote Christmas cards. That helps - I remember people and things that happen and it makes me feel better, but I still wasn't in the mood. So I watched a movie. I spent two hours one afternoon watching "The Nativity". Although the movie isn't completely accurate, it is the best movie about the birth of Christ that I have seen. It was a good reminder of the reason we celebrate Christmas. My favorite characters in the movie are Joseph and Elizabeth. Joseph is such an honorable man. And I love the part where Mary washes his feet while he is asleep and tells her unborn child that he will have an honorable man to raise Him and that Joseph will always put other people first.
Being the romantic that I am, I love to watch these two people fall in love on the journey to Bethlehem.
Elizabeth (and the wonderful actress who portrays her) is my absolute favorite. She is so amazing and when she greets Mary the lines are right out of the Bible. That scene is so powerful and I think it is because it is God's Word.
Needless to say, watching this movie made my Christmas Spirit a little brighter. I highly recommend it. The music is marvelous and the photography is wonderful. There are lighthearted moments that just prove to me that Mary and Joseph were human, just like me. Yet they were faithful to take the gift that God had given them and trust Him to see them through it. It is a powerful movie. Take the time to watch it.
No pictures to post, but check out Brett's blog
He has some new pictures on there.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Family Portraits

We decided since we were all together this last week to have a family portrait taken. It was very hard to do, mostly because everyone sort of has ADHD or something akin to that. Getting everyone, even the adults to stand still was a huge job....Getting Andrew to smile, without looking like a halloween pumpkin was even harder! but we succeeded in getting one.
This one.... We look good....
This one looks like we really look.....

The Belleque's
We have shrunk over the years.
Both my boys are taller than me.
I love this picture, it looks just like them.
I title it "Brothers". It sort of looks like modern art.

Wyoming Scenery!

Normally, I am not a big fan of Wyoming. I love going to see everyone, so I guess this picture is my idea of great Wyoming scenery, but the following pics are probably the really scenic ones! All the gang, playing UNO Attack. Me, Lindsay, Jasmine, Alena, Nick, Sam and Thomas. Kris is taking the picture!
This is heading into Gillette Wyoming at sundown. Gorgeous! I love the reflection off the hood of the car!

Fire in the Sky.

This is the view from Ed and Linda's house. It is the Wind River. When I first came in 1983, the river wasn't even visible, but the brush has been cleared away, and it is this view now.

Kris and I took a walk on Thanksgiving Day and found these deer crossing the river.
It must be cold!

Thanksgiving fun!

We had a great time visiting with all of the Belleque family during Thanksgiving week. All the kids were there, and the grandparents and some cousins. We even had Tasia, the honorary Belleque! It was too short a time together, but we had some good times crammed into 4 days. Alena and Andrew always like to be together...Ty enjoyed the time too.
Tasia is playing cards, just thinking or sleeping...I am not sure!


Thomas and Kris really liked the wedding photo album that Linda and Alena made for them.

Nick, kicking back with the dog...

This is one serious UNO game!

waiting for the cards.

Andrew got into the action too....I am not sure what is going on here, with the underwear on his head... I think he just wanted to make us all laugh...which we did.

The Great TV Move!

Well, here is a story for you, in pictures. It was a nice day for moving a GIANT television upstairs to Nick and Alena's "apartment". You see, Linda and Ed had bought this tv for Nick and Alena to have upstairs, but when they brought it home, they realized that it would take alot of muscle and ingenuity to get it upstairs. So, I took pictures of the event!Thomas, showing off the muscles he has....?

This is 32" screen tv. Up those narrow, steep stairs....

Thinking, thinking....then deciding "this is gonna hurt!"

" ooof."

Suck it in, Thomas!

One, two, three.....Hernia!

They made it....but just barely.

Christmas Project

Wow, Hard to believe that it is already December! I think the year is racing by. We have snow here, and our tree is up! But these are the Christmas project I have been working on for months. I made huge stockings for the older kids. I will make Andrew and Sam's, but I wanted to finish these so that we could deliver them on Thanksgiving. They look good hung by the fireplace!
Thomas's blue stocking.

Nick's has jingle bells on it so he can't peek!

Kristine's angels.

Alena's Victorian style.
They were fun to make and made me think creatively. Brett wanted them big so lots of stuff could be put in them. Stockings are big at our house, literally!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, I thought I should at some point wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I know that I haven't posted anything new lately, we have been pretty busy, and quite frankly, there hasn't been a whole lot of photo ops going on, but we have had a good week or two.
Sometimes Thanksgiving gets overshadowed by Christmas, but this year I don't want that to happen. I must confess, I did get out the Christmas music! But I only listened to ONE CD and it was an instrumental, so I don't think that should count!
We are headed to Wyoming to see the kiddos. I am very thankful that we can do this. It will be good to see them, but too short a visit. I miss them alot. So instead of getting sad about how much I miss them, I will write a list of what I am thankful for. It won't be comprehensive!
1. I am thankful for my family. All of you!
2. I am thankful for my husband (and for my mom and dad, who made us get married even when we got cold feet and cancelled the wedding on Thanksgiving day 1983)
3. I am thankful for Thomas -who married Kristine. He completes her. They are definately better together than apart!
4. I am thankful for Alena - who married Nick. She loves him just like he is. I remember thinking after I met her the first time, "she should meet Nick." Remarkably, I had nothing to do with them getting together.
5. I am thankful for Andrew - he allows me to grow and see Christ everyday.
6. I am thankful for Sam - he makes me laugh and reminds me that God knows exactly what He is doing even when I didn't want to be pregnant with my fourth child.
7. I am thankful for my church family - those in Oregon, Montana,Wyoming and even in Illinois. Today was the first time Brett and I stayed after church visiting with people. It proves we know people now.
8. I am thankful for the missionaries and Regional Directors and Home Office staff of AMF. They are dedicated people, eager to spread God's word, even if it means doing the hard thing.
9. I am thankful for my relationship with my family - my sisters, my dad, my brother and my own kids. How great to have a family who loves each other. (no fistfights at the holiday gatherings).
10. I am mostly thankful for my relationship with Jesus. It never ceases to amaze me that He loves me in spite of my complaining, whining and general sinfulness. I am like pure, white snow in His eyes. Thank you, Father, for the love of Your Son.
So, that sums up my Thanksgiving thoughts. Sorry it was long, but I hope that it makes you think about what you are thankful for!
Have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fall is...falling!

Well, the big maple tree in the backyard finally decided to drop it's leaves, right on to our roof. Which means lots of leaves on the ground and lots of leaves in the gutters. For Sam it means a legitimate trip up on the roof!!This big tree overhangs the balcony of the house and half of the rest of the roof. It is really gorgeous, but makes for lots of leaves.
Sam looks like he's the Captain of all he surveys.
He's not.

Sam went up on the balcony, swept off the roof and cleaned gutters. He was going to go up higher, but I thought I'd wait until Brett got home, then he could watch out for him.

Scooping out the gutters above the office.

He's the MAN!

Meanwhile, the demon squirrel of Emily Street watches from a nearby tree.

(My camera has such a good zoom on it!)

He knew I was taking pictures because he posed for this one, then turned tail and ran!

And he's gone.
Enjoy the fall. We sure have been.