Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

Happy New Year 2013. 
Slow. Down. Time.  How can it be time to celebrate another New Year?    I’m not ready.  Our children are growing up and they aren’t properly trained!    Ahhh.  We haven’t finished (or even started) what we wanted to get done in 2012, so how can we be ushering in another year?   The tension constantly exists between wanting to hang on tightly to our family as we know it, yet somehow keeping our hands wide open to allow time to do what it does…and change things.                   

God never changes.  That’s our anchor as every year we realize that life is constantly changing.   New ages, new phases, new attitudes, new trials, new successes, new sorrows, new joys.  Just life. The ever-fluid dynamics of life lead us craving our Heavenly Father, who always stays the same.   His Word doesn’t change--the rules in our home do.  Our Lord is dependable—we’ve been known to disappoint. God richly supplies all our needs, plus more--we meet needs according to the budget.  God is Sovereign--we pretend to be.  God is patient…we can be quick-tempered.  God whispers…what’s a whisper?  Thankfully, we can point our children to an anchor that is steadfast, loving, and always faithful.  Because our consistent inconsistencies would surely ruin them otherwise J.   

Could it be any wonder we had some spiritual hurdles this year?   Savannah accepted Christ as her Savior.    Hallelujah!    The very next day confirmed her need for a Savior when she proudly taught her preschool class the song, “We’re Sexy and We Know It!” (Clap. Clap. Head wag.)    Noah assured a preschool helper that in fact Spiderman WAS stronger than Jesus because Jesus does not have any REAL super powers.     And Madelin.   Sweet Madelin told her co-op class that prostitution (she meant persecution) spread the early church.    Sexy dances.   Powerless Jesus.   Prostitution .  The lessons are limitless.

Our year was full.    A family trip to the beach.    A new niece (Finlay Michelle...but I’m not proud J).   Friends.  Family.  Colorado.  Georgia.  Lake weekends.  Service at the church.  Youth group.  Gymnastics.  Dance.   Soccer.  Swimming.  Football.   School.  Work.  Tears.  Laughter. Groans.  Praises.    Living life is so daily.  The sinfulness and goodness bound up in our children continue to amaze us, and every part of our daily life leads plenty of opportunity for both to be seen.    The sinfulness of their selfishness.  The goodness of their selflessness.   The sinfulness of their greed.   The goodness of their generosity.   The sinfulness of their pride.   The goodness of their relationships with the Lord.   Yep, we can say with certainty, they are taking after their parents.   

Does it seem exhaustive that our Christmas update each year describes each child?  With five children, they are so often lumped together as “one of the McConnell kids.”  To us, they are so much more, and each year we love introducing them and their own unique personalities and roles within our family.           

The teenager.   Zach, 14, loves deeply, provides comic commentary, leads quietly, and tests the rules.  He’s an excellent brother and friend, and values people above all else.   Watching the transition of boy to man has been exciting and humbling for us.   He’s active in his youth group and seems to have a gift for reaching out and bringing others in.  Football, soccer, and swimming are his sports.   Writing…and well, more writing are his favorite subjects.  His future plans may include going to the Air Force Academy…or living in our basement.  The verdict is still out, but here’s a big cheer for Plan A.

The rule-follower.   Josh, 11, shares feelings honestly, lives energetically, focuses intensely, and speaks openly.  He’s a rule-follower and task tackler by nature and loves to be in our good graces (Amen!).  Soccer, football, swimming, and piano are his activities.  Josh is gentle off the field playing beautiful pieces on the piano, but quite the touchdown runner with a football in his hands.  He gathers friends and loves people.   Math is his favorite subject.   He will “NEVER” live in our basement, but will possibly “allow his parents to someday live in HIS basement.”  Retirement…done.      

The middle-child.   Madelin, 9, loves, loves, loves being the middle child.  (What is wrong with her?) She loves playing “up” with her big brothers and playing “down” with her little siblings.   She competes with the boys, yet plays make-believe with her sister.  She’s a dancing soccer player, who happens to have a pretty good freestyle in the pool.   Madelin blessed us with many mornings of cinnamon rolls, and well, music. She’s our resident DJ.   Her sweet spirit softens our home and her spunkiness refreshes us.        
The drama queen. Savannah, 6, is lovely, tenderhearted, and oh-so-dramatic. She loves dancing, baby dolls, and playing with her little brother.   Homemade cards for us appear all over the house and she’s very quick to believe the best in others (including President Obama—she’s a closet Democrat.)  She’s fearless on snow skis and the boogie board, yet simple tasks like hair-brushing end in hysterics, “I’m going to leave this town!” (What?) Reading is…coming along.  Before any test we give her in school, she asks, “Are you judging me, now?” Child, a test is different than a judgment.  But yes, we are judging you, too.          

The story-teller.   Noah, 3, is articulate, animated, and bright-eyed in all that he says and does.  HE SPEAKS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.  He masterfully weaves Jesus, Spiderman, and sledding into believable stories that leave us begging for more of his tales.   He runs with the boys (always wearing his cowboy boots,) plays Barbie’s with the girls (maybe in a Batman mask,) and drinks coffee with me (with lots of cream.)   He’s everyone’s buddy, and we work tirelessly to be his favorite.   Noah reminds the bigger kids of the fun in having an imagination, and reminds his parents of how quickly childhood flies. 

Preston began the year in Afghanistan focused on protecting the guys on the ground in his A-10.  Do I really need to say again that he loves it?  Their deployment sign said, “The Mission is the 18-year-old on the ground with a rifle.  All else is support.”     I have my own version of that motto.    “The Mission is the husband, and the 14, 11, 9, 6, 3 year-olds in the home.   All else should be hired outJ.”  I’m mostly kidding, but I do often daydream about having a full-time housekeeper, cook, driver, and scheduler, so I can sit and simply read to my children all day.  Apparently, I still need my mom.        

Preston read the entire Bible this year.   I gave up in March.   Preston boogie boarded.  I snowboarded.   Preston volunteers for Awanas.   I find subs for my nursery shift.    Preston turned 40.   I think I got a new wrinkle (Savannah assured me it’s not new.  It’s always been there.)    Preston talks to the neighbors.   I shut the garage door quickly.     He likes movie night with the kids.   I like reading night with the kids.  It would seem both of us are needed in this house.          

Seventeen years.  We stand amazed that 17 years have passed since we said our vows.   We had no idea what we were in for all those years ago, and we stand amazed at God’s faithfulness to us.   Amazed He has preserved our family.  Amazed we are finding joy in the journey.  Amazed that His grace could really be that great.   We HOPE in Jesus…the author of our faith…the joy of our salvation…the secret to peace in this crazy world.   Our HOPE in the Lord will NEVER disappoint.   

We pray that same HOPE for you in 2013.    

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