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***Note to anyone who comes by here to listen to the music ...You will now have to scroll down to the player on the right side and press play yourself. This is to accommodate those who only come to read and are distracted by the music;}

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One Super Bowl Ad I'll want to see...

If you haven't been following this, read this story about Focus on the Family's ad featuring Tim Tebow--Heisman Trophy winner, committed Christian, and would be victim of abortion if his mother had listened to doctors instead of her courage of conviction and faith in God.

I certainly was blessed and PRAY CBS doesn't back down and choose not to run the ad...that would be just...not right and very cowardly.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I was able to spend one of my first days home with my dear friends from the Bible Study that I was a part of in PA. I hadn't seen these girls in a year and missed them so! (Shelley--I missed seeing you!) Thanks for a great time Alyson, Amy and Rebs:) I can't believe we got a picture (sort of) with all of the kids! And, don't you love the "kids table"? They look a little like teenagers to me--if their heads were above the table a little more!
On New Year's Day, our friends, Robin and Mike, with their daughter Melanie, came to visit with us. Robin has been a mentor to me and they are dear friends of Jared's family. I taught their son, Matt, who is now married! It was a sweet time with them...thanks for making time to be with us! (note: Robin got a fleece for Christmas with what her soon-to-be-born grandchild will call her, MiMi. If I got the hint, I think our dear MiMi might like something like it!(wink))
Christmas Eve, I had a bit of a whirlwind morning, with great, but all-too-short visits with some really dear friends. Below is Sarah holding Susie...she put her to sleep--it was so sweet:) Thankfully, I had gotten to spend sometime for some "girl talk" earlier in the week with her. Love you Sarah!
Here is Jess in the center and right. She and I have a "funny" history. We went through 4 years at Messiah College without even meeting??, I don't think. We both knew of each other, but didn't become friends...however, when I moved back home after living in MA, Jess was engaged to Tim, and they were going to my parents church. We became quick friends and she was there for me in the hardest season of my life--when my mom was dying--, not only was she there, but she loved my mom and my mom loved her. She gave my Dad a hug the first Sunday he came to church after my Mom died and he still talks about it. Growing up, each of my sisters brought a "surrogate" sister into the family, but not me...until Jess. I was blessed to have her in my and miss you so much Jess! Come visit me!
Top left and bottom left is her sweet second born, Brooke. I think JJ has a crush (since she's older and a redhead!)
The next two are of my dear friend, Liz. We taught together and she just blesses my life so much. JJ spent alot of time with "Auntie" Liz and PJ and Michael in the first year of his life and he still remembers it...Love you Liz! You'll always be on my list!
As an aside, JJ looks a little "rough" here...I don't know if you can see the scab under his nose, but he had fallen down the stairs twice at Jared's parents' house and then at Liz's too:( poor guy, he looked so pitiful, but he unflinchingly declared he was "tough" after each fall.
Another aside is that PJ is so big (top right) and just a great friend to JJ:) I remember him when he was little with chubby cheeks...oh how quickly they ALL grow up!

Receiving Forgiveness

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Receiving Forgiveness

There are two sides to forgiveness: giving and receiving. Although at first sight giving seems to be harder, it often appears that we are not able to offer forgiveness to others because we have not been able fully to receive it. Only as people who have accepted forgiveness can we find the inner freedom to give it. Why is receiving forgiveness so difficult? It is very hard to say, "Without your forgiveness I am still bound to what happened between us. Only you can set me free." That requires not only a confession that we have hurt somebody but also the humility to acknowledge our dependency on others. Only when we can receive forgiveness can we give it.

This definitely touched my heart...and I ask myself: "Do I receive forgiveness?" or "Do I try not to need forgiveness?" But then, I remember, "I am married and there is NO WAY I can live a day, hour or minute, for that matter, without needing to receive forgiveness." And now, I ask again, "I have a gracious husband who constantly offers forgiveness, but do I really receive it or only "seem" to and then silently beat myself up?" Well, lots for me to meditate upon...hope this holds something for you too...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Abby's Family...NJ...Christmastime

This is a good picture of the scene at my family's "Christmas gathering" this year...We've been getting together for "Keener Christmas" ever since my oldest sister got married, which I think was just 20 years this fall! (Wow Nea! I didn't make a big enough deal over this milestone for you and Glenn!)
My Dad read from Luke 2 about the birth of Christ. Then, we sang some carols and the cousins sounded so good and WERE LOVIN' IT! But then, the adults (NOT ME!!) including my father, decided it was time to open gifts??!! Seriously, something's wrong with this picture!I think the kids could have sung for a while longer...
This was also the first Christmas that we were without my brother, Jon, his wife, Sharon, and their seven children. We missed you all!

Below (top left) is Annika in the middle of the aforementioned singing...and maybe Chloe to with the Santa's hat on...maybe my Dad and stepmom, Marie, too! Don't we look like we're enjoying it!?

Cami...ok, so, my brother-in-law, Don (Kristen's husband) is blessed with four daughters. And, we can remember when his oldest, Annika, was displaying her charms (long before Cami came to be) that Don looked into his future of fathering girls (let alone the four he has!) and said, "I'm *screwed*"( i.e. "I have no chance of making it with all of the guys that will come after these girls) Well, I look at Cami and her gorgeous eyes and I have to agree! Poor Don! We'll pray for you and maybe some time in your "free" time (wink, wink) you can write a book about it!
Precious "Panucka!" as my Dad calls her...if you click on this collage, you can see in the top right a sweet smile that my sister, Nea, is getting out of her.
Play-do...JJ was new to this, but seemed to like the fish shapes I was pressing out with the mold Sara had--she has all sorts of Play-dough gadgets and given her elementary ed/special ed background--knows how good tactile learning is for kids...hmmm...might have to start doing more things like this!

Ok, I don't know if you can see JJ's tears here, but he was "toast" from all of the travel and "Mommy Sara" (as he calls her--you know we're too alike to be Aunties) told him to sit in this chair until he could be happy...we joke that she has a lot of practice with "fragile emotional states" seeing as her twin was "Queen Emotional" growing up...and just like she did with me, she was helping JJ be "tough". So much so that JJ started saying "Mommy Sara help tough." before we left...
It was so cute here though, because Owen was next to him and was reading a book (literally--he's four!) and this is what calmed JJ down.

Susie in the exer-saucer...she really did like it, but the one on the left is her tired face...I like to say she goes "0 to 60" in a milli-second;)
JJ with the twins, Judah and Layna. I have some video that I might post of JJ and Judah. Before we visited, Sara and I thought JJ and Judah would "hit it off" with the same interests in sports, etc. AND WE WERE RIGHT!!! They had their own inside was so cute! They are kindred spirits, so to speak, he is Judah Jay, so another JJ:)
I hope JJ is always close with both twins as they are only 7 months apart and depending on how things go, will probably be in the same year of school!
Susie had some extra cuddles with Mommy Sara the morning we left...we are planning on seeing each other in June...but it is so hard to be away when our kids are so young...
Miss you and love you sooo much!!!! Mommy Sara!!!! (and I won't forget Auntie Nea who is in NJ too...she is PLANNING to come and stay in April with her whole family! We can't wait!!!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jared's Family--Christmastime...

Definitely not in chronological order, but I decided I needed to "catch up" in a major here are A TON of pics with Jared's family that I will do little to elaborate on...

MiMi and PopPop with the "real" are these pics with 4 kids 3 and younger!
Aunt Judi(Jared's Dad's sister) and her daughter Denise from Lancaster to spend a couple of hours with us--we SO appreciate them!
Yes, this (I.E. TRAINS!) is what we do alot of these days and I LOVE IT!!
(p.s. notice the Eagles...sorry they didn't end well, but the family remains "die hard" fans!)
Another round of opening...
and opening...
PopPop got Susie smiling alot--I LOVE seeing him with girls--it's the sweetest thing!
The three cousins on Christmas Eve...
Notice how Marie is touching JJ's blonde hair--she was mesmerized by it!
more presents!
Jared and his brother Jason = some of the best and MOST FUN Dads EVER!!!
Gotta Love MiMi's lap...and notice Marie with JJ's hair again!
Jason's birthday in early December, but we got to celebrate together when we came home!
Again, just, so, so sweet to see this...
MiMi had some catching up to you can see, Susie loves her!

Thanks to Jared's family for a wonderful Christmas together--we ALL miss you!!!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Special Visits...

Here is my Aunt Mim who lives by my Dad and whose husband's family farm is where my Dad works and where my farm pictures come from. She is his "baby" sister and really, they didn't know each other growing up because of their age difference, but all of us girls are glad she is around to give our Dad a "hard time" when we can't. HaHa We love you Daddy!

Susie really liked Auntie Mim--she "knows the pros!"
We went to see my Poppy while there, but between EVERYTHING, I forgot my camera, so I don't have any pictures with him (so sad:() He loves babies and just kept saying about Susie, "such a puddin'". He is definitely the sweetest man I have ever known--well, that's pretty hard to say as my Dad is sweet and my husband is off the charts, but he's right up there!

I also got to see my dear Mor Mor (swedish for "mother's mother" we say Moo Moo and it's what my mom would be called). She is my mom's mom and 96. She's had a rough year, but has given the rehabilitation of a broken hip everything and is still trying to come to grips with new limitations. In a matter of a few short weeks, she lost her one bedroom apartment she'd lived in for many years and experienced several moves to different care facility and rehabilitation site locations and in spite of all of it, has still managed to be an amazing encouragement to those that she's come in contact with. When I visited her with Susie, she was so natural showing her the lights on her necklace my Uncle Dick gave her, and as you can see, Susie was mesmerized. However, she didn't relax in the time with her 105th great grandchild, because she was so concerned we take her for her roommate to see. She is a bedridden women named Rachel who loves babies and Mor Mor had "promised to bring the baby to Rachel". She couldn't rest until we had done that. Rachel was happy to see the baby and my Mor Mor wanted to have her hold Susie who isn't light--I was relieved when Rachel said she wasn't comfortable being as frail as she was, but that I could bring her by the bed for her to see closer--which I did. I was able to pray with both my Mor Mor and Rachel. I was also able to tell the nurse that my Mor Mor could read lips so she didn't have to SHOUT in her ear! (she's been mostly deaf most of her life and has read lips for years, something they wouldn't be used to because of the many who lose their hearing only later in life). Both of these things blessed me so much to be able to serve this dear woman who has been a constant inspiration to me and so many.

We were talking about what she'd been through and she said "no, it hasn't been a good year for me..." Oh Mor Mor, I will miss you dearly when the Lord brings you Home but I will rejoice to picture so clearly your reunion with so many who have gone before you, PopPop, my mom, your infant son, Jonathan, but more than these, to know that you will be free from this "tent" and will rest forever from your labors in perfect glorious fellowship with the One you have served so faithfully all these years ...

Incidentally, I just received a package from my Aunt that had a picture I had given my MorMor of her, my Mom and myself with this verse:

Isaiah 58:12
12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

I also received one of her Bibles where she had a personal note by this verse: that simply says: "touch other lives" such a practical application that my Mor Mor has done constantly over the years...

These are the things I carry in my heart and touch some of the deepest places--uprooting complacency, ingratitude, desire for life is not my own--I HAVE BEEN BOUGHT WITH A PRICE and I have been grafted into a line of faithfulness, utterly blessed and overflowing...It is blessing--FIRST AND LAST to be a part of this and to live true to this foundation.

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Early Christmas...Late Blog Post

So sorry that I have been such a slacker in "blog land" recently. All I can say is that I came back from our trip to PA pretty depleted in every way and then JJ was sick the week we got back...while I had time to get this caught up, I didn't feel up to it.

So sorry to my "blog friends" too as I'm behind in your blogs, but if you're behind like me then it may not be so hard to catch up with you! I do miss you and your lives I read on your blogs, so I'm hoping to get "caught up" soon!

Here are some pictures from the early Christmas we had the day before we travelled back to PA.

Love these pictures of JJ in and out of the tent we got him (there's a tunnel too! both are a hit!)

Here is the play vacuum we got him...he loves to pull it out and vacuum with us!

Can you tell who the main "present OPEN-er" was this year. Usually more fun than the actual gift, but each got a "wow!" anyways. He's opening Susie's too--it will be a couple of years until she minds...

The adults exchanged gifts--though we kept it low key--I am holding mine;) Jared was surprised with an mp3 player that I had put lots of music on as well as scriptures that I thought he would like to have. You can do it free--here's the info!
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chronicle of the Journey Home for Christmas...

Just decided to journal a little about our 24 hour harrowing trip home...

We began around 11:30 am from Orlando on Friday, December 18. My mother-in-law had told me the night before?? that they were calling for a sounded like it might be "something" and it surely was.

We had the best driving conditions in Florida, but started to hit often heavy rain from Georgia through North Carolina with dropping temperatures. It was around 7pm when we finished our stop for dinner--letting the kids run around (we were caravaning with our friends, the Farr's, and thankfully so...) and then continued on. I kept looking at the temperature as it got dangerously close to freezing (we were still in rain at that point). Jared and I debate about whether the snow started in northern North Carolina or in Southern Virginia, but when it did, it didn't take long for the conditions to deteriorate. We wondered if they OWN a plow in the state of Virginia as nothing was plowed! We began to see cars spun out along the road (hundreds until the journey was done) and our speed quickly went from 75ish;) to 40mph (we were south of Richmond). We were able to travel like this for a while, though we were continually wondering, "should we stop?" Our friend, Jamie, decided the state of Virginia was the last place he wanted to get stranded, and we agreed--so we continued.

The kids had entered their "sleep time". Susie did amazing--sleeping the whole night as we inched along. JJ was awake after a stop at 11pm for a couple of hours (read: "watch dvd's") and "konked" back out, woke up, and konked again until this journey was done.

We travelled along 95 the entire time--never stopping but sometimes inching along at 10-15 mph or less even. Because, as you experienced snow drivers know, you DON'T WANT TO STOP in slippery snow! There were many points where lanes were indistinguishable, several times where we found a tractor trailer and followed it's tracks. Often, every car was spun out that I could see except us and our friends...We pushed through the exhaustion. JARED DROVE THE WHOLE TIME! It was too hard for me to take over when I would be going in "blind" and inexperienced in these conditions...But, I was quite a co-pilot;) I didn't konk out...MAYBE got a minute or two of sleep and rested my eyes. In retrospect, Jared says that the "tense"ness of driving in these conditions kept him awake...and of course, in all of this, it was the Lord's grace.

I did think often, with our two precious lil ones in the car: "if anyone who loves us would see what we were doing (i.e. parents!) they would YELL: 'GET OUT OF THIS AND TO SOMEWHERE SAFE!'"

But, there came a point when we had gotten so far, (like when morning came and we actually had LIGHT!) when the worst SEEMED;) behind us and even if we stopped the kids wouldn't sleep so neither would the adults...that we knew we had to finish what we started...

It is really comical now as we kept thinking we'd get "ahead" of the storm and get to an area where it hadn't snowed. We hit areas of lighter snow, but there WAS snow everywhere once it started and til we were finished we realize we truly drove THROUGH the heart of the storm! Cities like Richmond and DC and Baltimore had record or "historic" snowfalls!

The icing on the cake was when we finally reached my dad and stepmom's street and Jared COULD NOT get up the hill to their house. After all of my Dad said, "Jared had no hills left in him!" So we went back out and tried to go around another way and Jared was talking to my Dad who convinced him to turn back the way we came and turn at the "second light". We tried to find the "second" light passing the one at his street but there was none. Here, he meant the light of the parallel street we pulled into to be the first and the second light was the same one we had come out of with the SAME HILL we couldn't get up the first time. When I told my Dad this, he said, "yes, that's right. Do it again." He was using a bit of hilarious reverse psychology on Jared who was UNDERSTANDABLY beyond "fried" in every way--to help him get past his wall. He told Jared to go faster and DON'T STOP! We did make it up that hill and were finished...AT LAST!!

Honestly, although I'd NEVER want to repeat this trip, the Lord in His goodness showed us so much more of Himself. We knew people were praying for us and I was continually asking the Lord to impress upon people to "keep praying..." When I think about other journeys we might need to take, I know I will go back to this one and how the Lord gave us His strength beyond what we could have imagined to "make it". Truly, we defied human capabilities, I think, or at least our own perceived abilities.

I thought it was so amazing how my dear Mor Mor who has journeyed with the Lord these 96+ years put it. She said, "I guess there came a point where you had decided to go on and you continued in faith trusting that the Lord would protect you as you journeyed on." And isn't this what we are always called to as we "press on toward the upward call..."

Here are some pictures of this snow...

I love this one--Jared was very proud of it too!

How can something so beautiful be so dangerous to drive in?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Susie Munchie and a little of Big Bro

This is a "tide-you-over" post as there's much to fill you in on about our holiday season including the harrowing experience of a 24 hour car trip from Florida to Pennsylvania amid the Blizzard '09...suffice it so say, "God is so good and thank you all for your prayers!"

Lots of developments lately, including Susie in "new things" like this jumper at my twin sister's house and along with it more interaction and enjoyment of one another between her and JJ. It is so fun to watch!

"Pound Baby OOsie!"

Enjoy the Smush!

Jared says this is one for a contest--what do you think??