Merry (Post) Christmas 2017

Can I just say I love getting all the cards and letters this time of year? I love hearing (and seeing) how your families are faring. I may still get something out to people, but I am waiting on my in-house graphic designer (ahem, Stephen) to make some tweaks to pictures.

Christmas found us on our own this year. We didn’t go south and my folks went to my sister’s house in MA. The littles got sick so we did not get together with my brother’s family either. I’d love to say that we were miserable, but we had a great Christmas together- making our own memories. It has been the perfect wrap up to our whirlwind of a year.

For starters, as most of you know, we rung in 2017 expecting…. later in January we would find out there would be TWO joining our family. After several stages of disbelief passed, we got ready for these two blessings. They arrived on May 2 (Natalie’s 13th birthday) and spent about a week in NICU, but have been so healthy ever since. Owen and Delaney turned our world upside down, but I cannot imagine life without them. The kids are so great with them, and they are the exclamation point to our family.

Natalie (13) is still playing soccer in season. She is such a hard worker and has really stepped up in helping me out. She loves to cook and spend time with friends and watching Badger football (On Wisconsin!). She is a diligent student as well. It is hard to believe we only have 4 more years before she moves on to college or whatever God has for her.

Meredith (11) enjoys baking and shopping and just getting out and about. She’s got a great sense of humor and an eye for fashion. She is doing well with her video classes for school this year. I love having her organize things…. she is really good at it.

Sophie (9) is still my free spirit. Life goes at a slower pace with this one. She has become a voracious reader this year, and while she’d rather chew glass than do chores, she steps up when needed. Her heart is so big and her smile is infectious. And if you need another player in a board game, Sophie is your gal!

Ethan (8) has his life planned out… it just involves legos and dirt and heavy machinery and not school. He loves having a brother, and for all his manly ways he is great at taking care of the twins. Behind the tough exterior is a tender heart and a goofy grin.

Evelyn (3) cannot stand to be in clothes longer than necessary. She still loves baths and watches these videos of people opening toys, much to our confusion. She loves to play and her laugh is the best. Evie gives us all a run for our money with her high energy and staunch opinions. She’s a great snuggler too!

Delaney (<1) is chubby. She loves being so and we have no intention of putting her on a diet. She is standing and wants to be big and makes very loud noises as often as possible. Her smile lights up a room. Laney will always win in a cage match with Owen. Always.

Owen (also <1) is a charmer. His bright red hair and chiseled features melt the hearts of all he encounters. He’s a content little guy, happy to play with a toy on the floor or sit perched on Natalie’s arm like a baby sloth. Anything Ethan does in his presence is a source of amusement and joy.

Stephen had a banner year at Able Signs and Lighting. He was able to do more custom design builds, which he loves. He still leads singing Sunday mornings and serves as a Trustee at our church. When he is home, he is usually taking care of a baby or washing dishes or maybe putting his feet up. He is just an amazing guy and I am truly blessed that he’s mine.

I am busy. Like, busier than ever before. Remember all those times I said I was busy? I really wasn’t. I just thought I was. Twins, a toddler and homeschooling four keeps me on my toes almost 24 hours a day. I also help with the family business doing accounts receivable. Sadly, I have had to hand over most of my church responsibilities at this time but only for this season of life.

With all the business in this household, I will add that we do love company. Our house is not ready for an IKEA cover, but it is fun. And there is coffee. And we always enjoy fellowship with friends and family who stop in. There is always time for people.

You know, Christ made time for us. He came from Heaven to Earth to save us from ourselves. I was just thinking that if Christ had not come, I would have nothing that I have today. Stephen and the kids, joy and contentment, peace and hope… all are because of my Lord. And while my life is far from perfect, every perfect thing I possess is because I possess Him. Do you?

MERRY (post) CHRISTMAS and have a happy, healthy and joy-filled New Year!!!

With Love,

The Franklins

Ponderings: Christmas

I have finally come to grips with something that has taken me seven years to grasp – Christmas comes early in our house. It has to since Stephen is the choir director. He has to “get into the mood” so that we can plan the cantata every year. And since I have grasped this truth, I have learned a few things from it.

Thing 1: We keep Christmas in a box.
It’s true and I have done it my whole life. We have parameters for when Christmas starts and ends. We are sickened when we see Christmas merchandise out right after school starts. Christmas music and movies cannot be listened to before Thanksgiving. And the tree? Gone by the first week of the new year.
Why do we do that? Isn’t Christ’s birth central to our salvation? Shouldn’t it, then, be central to our lives and not confined to one month of the year? Shouldn’t the spirit behind Christmas and Easter permeate our being all year. I know Christmas has become highly commercialized, but to Christians we shouldn’t let that bother us. We can rejoice a little that it does become a big celebration, as it should be! Non-believers are not going to appreciate Christmas as we do… or ought to.

Thing 2: We do not prepare for Christmas properly.
I don’t know about you, but it kinda sneaks up on me. This year, I have been reading already and preparing my heart to celebrate this season in the hope that I will treasure and savor it more. Gift buying is great and shows us how God gave us the gift of His Son. If you are good at buying well in advance, that’s great! But I am going beyond having your cookies baked and frozen in November. We need heart preparation. We need to dwell on Christ’s birth and its different aspects. It ought to convict and change us so that spirit of “goodwill toward men” lasts all year.

Thing 3: The highlight of Christmas is usually the day itself and not the Savior.
It is human nature to be excited about receiving things, and I do not want to take that away from anyone. But I must ask, do we look forward to the presents most, or to aspects where we get to celebrate Christ’s birth? Do we look forward to Christmas programs, caroling and other ways to celebrate through service, or are they just forms of “token worship” that we perform to show others that we took time to think about Christ. Is it something we do because we are supposed to or because we want to? I had to ask myself these questions, and I didn’t like how I answered them…

So I have made a conscious decision this year to celebrate our Savior’s birth early this year… in my heart. Where it counts. It has been a blessing to me so far… Will you join me?

Valentines Past

Valentine’s Day has never really been a big deal to me. I like getting things, to be sure. But I never was depressed if I didn’t have someone to celebrate with and I do not really grill my husband about getting me something. I think it is a nice excuse to go out with my hubby… if we get the chance.

On the other hand, I have had some memorable Valentine’s Days in my life. All of them have to do with Stephen, and really remind me of how wonderful he is. So I thought I would share some of them with all of you.

Before I start, one thing. I really enjoy when my husband is thoughtful. I never have cared about WHAT he gets me. It’s more about how much THOUGHT went into whatever he does. From other ladies I talk to, I sense that thoughtfulness is a resonating theme. It doesn’t have to be over the top, just thoughtful. Okay, now I’ll go on about Valentines past… sorry about the soap box.

First memory – We weren’t even dating yet and I was super confused as to where we stood. Was he or was he not interested. Cause if we were just friends, that’s cool, but I needed to know so I could put him out of my mind as a potential husband. Well, my question was a little more answered that Valentine’s Day. He sent me a nice card and a tape of TV shows that he recorded. Huh? Well, he knew that we didn’t have TV or cable at that time, so I couldn’t watch any shows. So he sent me some. Some were things he liked, and some were things he thought I would like.
See – thoughtful.

Second memory – The next year came along, and things had changed big time. We were engaged. For Valentine’s Day he came from FL to visit me. We made wedding plans. Spent more time together. And that was enough for me, because it was downright painful to be so far away from him as it was.

Third memory – By this time, we had two girls and one on the way. Valentine’s Day was a blizzard, which meant that Stephen had to get up early and plow. And then he’d have to go out later that night to plow again. But he came home with gifts and flowers for all of us after his morning route. And he took us out for dinner. The girls were so excited to go on a “group date” with Daddy. It was really special, and I didn’t mind sharing him at all.

Fourth memory – Last year, we went to see a brass concert performed by some of his music teachers from college. It was like going on a date for artist series in college. Yet, I was pregnant. It was fun to pretend to be childless for a night. I know it was really special for him to get to see his professors again and catch up with them too.

So, what is a favorite Valentine’s memory that you have?

New Release: The Four Weeks of Christmas

Blogging hasn’t been my priority lately. There. I admitted it. But I cannot tell you why. I will someday, but not today. ANYWAYS… Christmas is almost here and I just had to write to say “Merry Christmas” to anyone who actually reads this thing. We have had a busy season so far, and I am really, really, really, Really, Really, REALLY looking forward to a break in a few days. I am going to try to relate the holiday season to you in song… hope you enjoy.

The Four Weeks of Christmas

On the first week of Christmas tradition happened here
Gingerbread house making with the fam

On the second week of Christmas we froze in a parade
With a glowing ABLE Elliot (That’s our fancy schmancy bucket truck)
And Meredith turned two, such a big girl!

On the third week of Christmas songs did fill the air
With our church’s annual canata,
Another big huge snowstorm,
And a box Florida navel oranges.

On the fourth week of Christmas we finally get a rest
After our Sunday School class program
Two big huge snowstorms,
Last-minute Christmas shopping,
Did I mention we will finally get a rest?

Thanksgiving List 2008

A woman in our church last night gave a testimony about how counting one’s blessings really does make a person remember what is really important. I agree. Every year, I intend to write them out on this blog for the whole world to see what I am thankful for. They may not all make sense to you, but hold great value to me. Enjoy your Thanksgiving with your loved ones, and if you have time, share your Thanksgiving List in the comments section below.

What I am thankful for….

God’s glorious Word – it is my guide, the answer to every question about life, a love letter, my single source of comfort, and truly more necessary than food.
My gracious heavenly Father – He still hasn’t given up on me, a year later. I have given Him much grief and not always been the obedient child, but He still daily loadeth me with benefits.
My incredible husband, Stephen – We celebrated 5 years of marriage this year. He has always sought to lead our family in God’s ways, and not man’s. He’s a great father to our girls, and really my greatest earthly friend.
My 3 beautiful girls – Natalie is my little helper, Meredith is my little snuggler, and Sophia is my little sunbeam. They are happy, healthy, and love to sing and learn about God.
My church – We have gone through some heartache this year, but I know that God is in control of this flock. We have grown to become more of a family and source of accountability this year, not worried about the praise of men, but the smile of God.
My parents – They are not just my folks, but our business partners, and do a tremendous job of it. My children love their grandma and grandpa, and I am glad that they have this opportunity to know them.
My in-laws – Rachel (my sister-in-law) and I were just telling someone that our mother-in-law is our greatest advocate. 🙂 Despite being far away, they really stay in touch with us and are involved in our lives. Their godly example is still being felt in our family, even with the distance.
My sister – I know two things about talking to my sister: 1- she will not judge me when I am discouraged 2- she always seeks to give me Biblical advice. You would be hard pressed to find two sisters who are as close as we are.
My brother – Mitch has spent the better part of the year getting trained to protect our country. I am proud of our Marine, and grateful for the work that God is doing in his life.
Grandparents, both Stephen’s and mine – We love that our children get to know their great-grandparents. Mine live close by, and the girls love to be with them and I am thrilled they get to watch their wonderful example as I do too!
God’s Timing – Sophia’s birth, the purchase of our home, and so many other instances remind me of how perfect God’s timing really is!
God’s Provision – It doesn’t make sense, this very minute, why our needs are still being met. But they are being abundantly met! Jehovah Jireh is the only answer I can give.
A fun extended family – We may be quirky, but it is a blast to be together.
My brothers and sisters in laws – They are all great to be around, godly people, and we are all pretty like-minded. I am thankful for each and everyone of them that God has placed in our family.

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