Happy New Year 2014, Family and Friends! Is the end of January too late to post a Happy New Year card? Probably. Here's the excuse...we've been a little busy. You know, the usual...shopping for gifts, trying to keep Jesus the focus, the Nutcracker, Christmas, and oh yeah, a new baby. The normal December stuff. We pray you all had a blessed 2013 and that you are tackling 2014 with a renewed joy and hope for whatever the year may bring. Don't give up on that one year Bible plan yet...you can still catch up!
Two teenagers…a preteen…an elementary kiddo…a busy preschooler…and a newborn. 9th grade, 7th grade, 4th grade, 1st grade, preschool, and a three-week old. We are all over the place emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually at this stage of life. Talking of dating (Umm, no…because we said so!), learning through friendships (Just be nice!), dealing with temper tantrums (Have some self-control, little girl!), fighting some fears (Have we ever been late to get you at soccer practice? Wait, don’t answer that!), and analyzing whether the preschooler’s active imagination is crossing into a complete detachment from reality (How long do we let him tell this story before we remind him that it’s not real?). There’s some serious fun and some serious confusion within the walls of this house. Joyfully, we are certain that with the size of our family, we will qualify for a group therapy rate.
Eighteen years of marriage and a baby on the way, seemed the perfect excuse for Preston and I to escape to Hawaii alone for a couple days this fall. We vowed to not talk about the children…so we spent several days in silenceJ. Actually, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip and we continually praise God that He somehow has preserved our family through many ups and downs and still allows us to find joy in just being together. The A-10 once again faces funding cuts, yet Preston continues to promise that he will fly this airplane until its last days. Plan B? Graciously, he’s volunteered to pay my way through medical school so I can support the family in our later years. So thoughtful. One reminder that this would mean that he would have to stay home with the kids motivates him to test for his commercial pilot license in the very likely event that the A-10 has its last flying days during his watch. He spent his free time working with Awanas and coaching Zach’s high school football team’s offense. In his next life, he’d love to be a full-time football coach. Me? Six kids stretch my managerial skills and time. Juggling schedules, rides, food, laundry, homework, attitudes, discipline, hugs, more food, and more laundry, requires mainly the skill of battling my very real struggle to serve others JOYFULLY J! I do love running (to burn off the “who appreciates me?” attitude), I love blogging (to process the “who will serve me?” attitude), and I love reading classics with friends (to escape the “where’s my glory?” attitude.) In my next life, on a good day, I think I’d do it all againJ.
ZACH, the Peacemaker, gracefully adjusted to a “real” high school this year. He played varsity football as safety and still continues to swim and play/ref soccer. His attention to his studies (he loves writing and history) leads us to believe that his threat to live with us FOREVER is merely a ploy to mess with our minds (which it does.) God knew Zach was the right McConnell to be the leader of this crew as his love for the Lord and his siblings constantly brings peace to our chaotic home. A mock trial class last spring gave him the “skill” to stick up for his siblings in a more “official” manner. “Your Honor, this woman who calls herself their mother is badgering the witnesses!” Teenagers...so fun. Sigh.
JOSH, the Focused, is quick about everything he does: quick to start his studies in the morning, quick on the soccer and football fields, quick to smile, quick to speak, followed by quick to apologize, quick to encourage, quick to recognize faults in others, quick to recognize his own faults, quick to have a great day, and quick to have the worst day EVER (I totally get that.) He’s our only kid that has stuck with piano (he actually practices) and we enjoy the nights that his music fills our home. He can turn a tense moment to hysterical laughter with one comment and enjoys teaching Noah songs to share with his preschool friends during church (and they aren’t hymns!).
SAVANNAH, the Tender, bravely fought through many fears and tackled some new things this year. She played soccer, danced in the Nutcracker, and learned to give presentations during her homeschool meetings. This coming year, we are praying strength for her to participate in new things without the prepared pep talk and ceremonial tears. Fortunately, she brings her own “you can do it” section wherever she goesJ. She’s gentle and compassionate and loves making other people happy. Her favorite playmate is Noah and she constantly makes sure that his love for sports is counteracted by a good game of Barbie Dolls. She’s still a cuddler and has heart for serving others and our family.
NOAH, the Entertainer, has the voice of the most excitable broadcaster and the imagination of Walt Disney. He talks from the moment his eyes open to the moment they close at night and has yet to finish the run-on sentence he started 2 years ago when he began talking. His personality is much bigger than his size and we continually joke that he’s an old soul. He idolizes his big brothers and while they used to pretend to be “Tim Tebow,” Noah puts on his football gear and pretends to be “Zach McConnell, for the SCA Eagles” or “Josh McConnell, for the Lee’s Summit Pirates.” Watching him imitate the older brothers touches all of us and hopefully puts a little pressure on those brothers to be GOOD EXAMPLES for the little eyes that are constantly watching them!
HOPE SELAH, the Gift, was born to us on Christmas morning at 2:00 am. Could there be a sweeter Christmas present? We rejoiced the early hours of Christmas morning over the birth of our Savior while marveling at the gift of this precious baby girl to us. As we are still getting to know her, her name speaks our prayer for this year. Have HOPE. And SELAH “pause and worship.”
That’s our prayer for our family and for all of you this year. That you might HAVE HOPE and SELAH...PAUSE and WORSHIP, our Heavenly Father who loves us so unconditionally.
We thank God for each of you.