Saturday, December 24, 2011

Promises Kept

And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors." (Luke 1:46-55 NIV)

God keeps his promises. This is the truth of Christmas.

You will receive many gifts this Christmas season. Consider giving a gift back to God--your time, obedience, and love.

Have a blessed Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011: Year in Review Multimedia Extravaganza

It seems cliche to say, but this was a very busy year for the Krosts, full of changes big and small.

In January 2011, we lost Grandma Josie. Her passing came 32 days after the sudden death of my Uncle John, Grandma Josie's youngest son. Both losses were sad and painful in their own way, and the entire family is still adjusting. But as always, God had a plan.

We learned that we would need to leave our home in Sterling Heights in late winter. We were unsure of where to go and how to preserve some sense of normalcy for Madeline and Ava. Our family approached us about occupying Grandma Josie's house. We humbly and gratefully accepted and began preparing the house. We shared some special memories with my aunts, uncles, and cousins going through Grandma and Grandpa's personal items. It was a bittersweet time.

We officially moved in during Easter break. The backdrop of Christ's death and resurrection was a comfort and encouragement to us as we closed one chapter of our lives and began to write a new one.  But we also said goodbye to another family member: our dog, Gatsby.  We found him a new family through A New Leash on Life pet rescue.  He is missed daily, but we know he's with a family better suited to handle his health demands.

We settled in to the new house and began to weave together old and new memories. Madeline and Ava met some neighborhood kids and spent many pleasant hours in the backyard, playing in the warm springtime weather. We all remarked that Grandma and Grandpa would have loved to hear children's laughter in their home again.

We had Ava's 2nd birthday party and Maddie's 6th birthday party here at the house. Friends and family from far and near joined us to celebrate another blessed year of "firsts" for the girls. Ava's first include potty training and moving to a "big-girl bed"; Madeline's firsts include graduating to first-grade, learning how to ride a two-wheeler, and getting to perform in the school's spring concert.  That's her at 1:50 reciting Psalm 139:14 in front of several hundred people!

On Madeline's actual birthday, June 14, we were in Illinois visiting Oma and Opa.  Auntie Tasha, Todd's sister, gave birth to her third child, Abigail Esther, on Maddie's birthday!  Both girls were overjoyed to hold their precious new cousin.

Maddie played t-ball for Roseville parks and rec in July. She enjoyed it, and her little sister enjoyed watching and cheering, "Go, dee dee!".
We had a bit of a scare in August when Ava had a suspected allergic reaction to eating nuts.  After a trip to our pediatrician and a pediatric allergist we were given a tree nut allergy diagnosis. She is allergic to walnuts and pecans, but we're cautious about all other tree nuts, which include almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, and pistachios. We're all adjusting to learning how to read food ingredient labels and use an EpiPen.

Maddie is currently in first-grade.  She is doing very well and makes progress every day.  She has gifts in writing and art.  She most enjoys recess, music, and computer class.  More on that later....

Ava is at home with her daddy during the day.  The two are quite a pair and enjoy going on "missions" together.  She is definitely daddy's girl.  She most enjoys playing with her babies and Barbies.  She is also a fan of dressing up.

Todd is continuing his seminary classes at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit. He is able to do this through an agreement with Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, where he is officially enrolled. He is seeking his Masters in Divinity on the path to becoming a full ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church.  He continues to serve as the Intergenerational Minister at our church, Warren First United Methodist, creating programs and events such as First Friday Film Festival, a beginner computer class, and confirmation preparation. He had the opportunity to preach several times this summer.  His class schedule fluctuates between day and evening classes, so sometimes we're "like ships passing in the night" when I'm just getting home from work and he is leaving for class. But we're excited to see where God will send our family and we invite you to keep us in your prayers.

Christina began a new position at St. Paul this year. After four years of being a third-grade home room teacher, she moved to teaching K-8 computer classes.  Click here to see her class blog.  She enjoys seeing all 500 St. Paul students, including Madeline! She mostly enjoys sharing her love of technology with her students and teaching what it means to be a good digital citizen.

One final picture...the annual Krost-Corace Family Christmas picture in front of Nana and Papa's tree, taken in early December when we celebrated Nana's birthday.

And that brings us to the present.  Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement...but keep 'em coming! We'd love to keep in touch with our friends and family near and far.  You can subscribe to this blog and get new posts through email, or you can follow Christina on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest by clicking the buttons on the left in the sidebar.  Hope to talk to you soon!  Have a blessed Christmas season and a happy, healthy New Year!

Repeat After Me...

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3 NLT)

Children are a blessing from God. Even when they're whining. Even when they're fighting. Even when they're messy. They are a blessing from our Creator who loves us. Through them, we learn more about ourselves: how to be patient, how to be joyful, how to be loving. Even when they test us to the outer limits of our sanity, they are a blessing.

Repeat as necessary, as many times a day as it takes, until you begin to feel it in your heart.  I usually feel better by my hundredth repetition.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Martha Moments

But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:40-42 NLT)

I am totally a Martha.  It's one of the things I know about myself that I really want to change.  My Martha-tendencies tend to flare up most at the holidays, where there are lots of things to do and very little time to do them.  I get so distracted by the little details of party planning and food preparation that I forget what, or whom, I'm doing the work for.  I'm one of those, "Well, somebody has to do it!" kind of people.  Then I get resentful when I'm stuck doing the work and don't get to enjoy the party.

Maddie and I were listing to an Adventures in Odyssey CD about Mary, Martha, and Lazarus on the way to school the other day.  And I was humbled.  By a kids radio program.  This particular episode covered the events in 1st century Bethany from just before to just after Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus.  It gave a fictionalized account of Martha's frustration with preparing food for guests and disciples while Jesus stayed and taught at their home, her conflicted faith about Jesus' role as messiah, and in the end, her ultimate conviction that Jesus was the Savior of the World.

I could have easily inserted myself into the story in Martha's place.  I understood who she was and how she was feeling.  I was able to see the error in her attitude, but I saw her attitude in my heart.  The episode's lesson was, "Doing things for Jesus isn't the same as being with him." So I'm adding a change of attitude to my daily prayer intentions.

So, who are you more like?  Mary, who knew who Jesus was and put things in proper priority, or Martha, who couldn't see Jesus amidst the bustle of daily life?   Are we ever truly spending time with Jesus, or just working around Him?  In this Advent time of preparation, it's easy to get caught up in details.  Let's all try to not only prepare our hearts and homes, but also find time to spend time each day with Jesus.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Eleanor the Elf

We have a new family member!  Her name is Eleanor, and she's our Elf on the Shelf. An Elf on the Shelf is one of Santa's helpers who visits your home or school during the day and reports back to Santa every night.  Each morning, he/she is found in a different location.  The #1 rule about having an elf is that he/she cannot be touched, or else he/she loses his/her magic.

Follow along with Eleanor's adventures!  I'll post a picture of where she was found each morning.

Isn't Christmas a magical time?