December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

My kids have no clue about the whole "wake-up early on Christmas" thing. But I think they're getting clued in on the whole "pajamas all-day long" thing. (this may be due to it not being limited to Christmas? jury is still out)

It was a good Christmas.  And even though it was good enough for a pj's all the live long day kind of Christmas, around 2:30pm or so I finally got the boys out of their Christmas pj's (what with the sweat and all) and put them in their oh-so handsome "Chelsea Kits" that they got as presents. Lampard(9) and Torres(8).  After a brief confusion with 6's and 9's as Isaac looked down at the number "9" upside down on his leg, we were good to go.

After all that, I have no pictures of the Chelsea kits (Soccer Jerseys for you folks outside the Commonwealth). But I do have these. I hope you enjoy them...and because it's still Christmas Day in the US right now, I hope you're enjoying these in your pajamas. Its that kind of day you know.

This one never backs down from a photo-op
This one tries his hardest to get away from every photo-op.
This one holds a light saber like a boss.
Sorry you can only see my unmake-uped face in this one, but its all we have of Bird, her helmet, AND her bike. That look on my face is me dying from overexposure to cuteness.
And these are my 3 Christmas gifts. They never get old (though they OFTEN get loud). What a blessed Mama I am!

Merry Christmas!

December 18, 2012


Couple things here folks.

1. We went to America.
2. We bought a new fancy-schmancy camera.

Anthony knows alllll kinds of things about cameras and photography and light and numbers and f-stops and ISO(?) and Av(?) etc etc.
While I know nothing about all that I figure I'll probably learn eventually. (maybe) And in the meantime I'll do my best to try to get whatever is in front of the lens in focus. Baby steps, guys. Baby. Steps. I keep the house clean and kids fed. (which doesn't take long to list it out but by golly it takes all day to do it!)

So. Using our fancy-schmancy new camera and my husband's how to, I present to you our "Thanksgiving 2012" made from scratch video. Watch the video. It has just about the prettiest rural-Florida-ness of a back drop oozing out of every frame for FREE.  Plus, you get to picture my Uncle Ronnie's stories of great 3wheeler-Mexican-Orange Tree-Roman Candle-Tractor-other heavy machinery mishaps of days gone by and feel the laughter. Feel it... (the song is catchy too)...

Thanksgiving 2012 from Anthony Rivers on Vimeo.
Good, yes?!?

Gracious it was good to be home.

You can go ahead and leave a note about why you now want to be in my family in the comments section. Please no more than a paragraph.

December 15, 2012

Home Forever

We might have pitched a fit about having to eat breakfast instead of playing with cars a few minutes before this was taken. Possibly.
What a day! We woke up to the terrible news of the school shooting in Connecticut. Not exactly the start I thought this day would have.

The night before I had gone on a date with my oh-so studly husband to see the "Hobbit" and then came home and spent a couple hours reading through a "Waiting Child" list.  I was excited about today, celebrating Rivers Day. The day Isaiah was declared officially a Rivers, forever. December 15th is quite the holiday around here. I was in such a good mood that I was even looking at 4-child sibling groups and sincerely thinking that maybe maybe I wouldn't lose my mind if those were OUR girls. (our visa here prevents us from adopting overseas at the, fine, maybe my consideration wasn't THAT sincere...)

My head hit the pillow full of hopes and joy.

Then the morning rain clouds filled me right on up with hot heaping mess of despair.  "Why is it that the world is so full of crap?!" "Why do men lose their minds and do terrible things?"

Even the sweet faces I had looked at just a few (very few) hours before changed from hope to criticism when I thought of the 20 parents who will be grieving the lives of their children from today until forever. "Why is it that there are four incredibly beautiful sisters up for adoption?"  "Even if they're adopted, the years the world and the ugliness therein has unleashed upon them will stay with them, especially the oldest ones, possibly causing irrevocable damage to their lives forever!"

That's a whole lotta awful before breakfast.

 Not sure if you've ever read the verse in the book of Ephesians that says,

"When you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it."

Sealed. Sealed ever so tightly, strongly, and forever with the Spirit of God. The Spirit who Jesus said would be our Comforter.

And boy did he bring on the comfort today.

I broke out the "Special Rivers of the Day" plate (its inaugural use since being painted in America a few weeks ago) and my baby boy smiled the biggest smile when his hard boiled egg was put on that special piece of ceramic.

And mama was there ever joy and comfort in that moment!

The Comforter spoke to my heart right then, right there and here's what he reminded me of:

ALL sin- the "big" ones like the shooting and child slaves in Africa- and the "little" ones- like lying to get out of something or being jealous of something someone else has- ALL sin is wrong.

When God created the world, he intended to be near us, with us.  He would walk with us, his glory bright, us knowing him, enjoying him forever. But sin- a "little" one mind you of touching a tree and eating fruit!- entered the world and the sweet time with God was broken.

Our sin, our imperfection could no longer be in the presence of such glory and it has been causing one big ruckus after another since.

Personal feuds. Families torn apart. Greed. Lack of compassion. Whole civilizations that are so broken through one thing or another that parents cannot provide for their children. Armies destroying for the sake of power. Rape. Addictions. Racism.  You name it... this ol' world has got it.

So if God is so loving, why is there such sadness in the world?

The answer is long so I won't go into full detail. But...BUT...the answer is much more easily understood when each of us stops looking at the world around us, takes a minute, and examines our own lives. The "little" wrongs we've done. No more wrong than eating fruit from a tree that was forbidden, is it? It still means we are just as separated from God, just as unable to be in his presence.

God has perfect justice, too. Not just perfect love.

So why does he let suffering happen if he's so loving? Because he's also perfectly gracious and perfectly mercy-giving. If he sent a lightning bolt to kill the crazy man who shot all those kids because he had violated the perfect law- the justice system- of God... then that lie I told would get a lightning bolt too, because guilty is guilty. Imperfection is imperfection. He allows sin and suffering in the world because he is ALSO withholding his wrath and judgement and giving us time to come to him and accept the way...the only way... to undo all the wrongs we've done. Even the little ones.

And lightning bolts are what we've earned. Oh yes! Our view of God needs to be widened to think deeply and widely about just how awesome and glorious pure holiness and glory really is. When we try and contemplate the awesome weight of his glory, falling short of that becomes a bigger deal.

And if death is what we've earned ourselves- if that's the price a perfect justice system demands- then the only way out of it is if someone takes your place. And Jesus did just that. He took all the sin...the murders and the eating forbidden things, the genocide, and the petty theft, the lust...he stepped up to the plate and took it for us.  Separation from God. He endured his wrath. But then, because Jesus had done no wrong, death could not hold him. His perfection and holiness was stronger than death! He came back to life and is still alive today.

That last paragraph is the chance he's giving you in the midst of evil and suffering. He is offering his great salvation. The plan he made to save us from all the mess we do to ourselves and to each other. He's withholding that awful judgement that we deserve and asking for us to trust him, believe on him and his substitution. THAT is good news!  Hope like that is a game changer. (I'm sorry it takes me so long to type all this only took about 30 seconds for all these promises to run through my head and for my despair to turn to joy in hope!)

And so with that hope in mind we celebrated the rest of Rivers Day. To see a tangible example of redemption sitting there making a total mess of a hard boiled egg only solidified the promises I had just been comforted with. His adoption was finalized. Forever mine. My redemption finalized, sealed, forever.  Surely, surely something as miraculous as this sweet boy being my son, means there's hope for this ol' world afterall!

"For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world, through him, might be saved." John 3:17

I know I know, this is supposed to be an Isaiah picture...I can't help myself!

December 10, 2012

10 days into Advent...

So, I'd say things are going pretty well with Advent. I'm still using the guide I started with but have already decided it's not child-friendly enough. It's good stuff, to be sure, but I think my 3 year old doesn't follow and the 4 year old is just hanging on. It's just too wordy. I'm thinking I'll go the route of a Jesse Tree next year.

The activities have gone well.
Except for the salt-dough ornaments. We shoulda seen it comin what with rainy season and all.

We baked them but then after they were nearly dried out the humidity in the air caused them to soften again. Like mushy soft. We just keep rolling though. (Don't EVER complain about rainy season! It makes my kitchen a bearable temperature for holiday baking)

But the candles. Winners!

Oh yes, the candles are here to stay, Sandlot style. FOOOOOREEEE-VER!

We had dinner out 2 nights in a row. We got home and Isaac couldn't walk past the table without lighting those bad boys up. Fire. Boys. They just go together. Is it too pun-erific to say, "The candles will be memories burned in their minds for all time." No? I didn't think so either.
My boys are to fire as I am to decorating.
It just so happened that our dear B's birthday was this past week and that she happened to go out of town for 2 days and that her mom and I planned a surprise room makeover... it was my our Advent activity for 2 days.
Can you say "Christmas Cheer!"???? We had to work with the green walls (THAT should be a task on a design show!) new duvet cover, pillow sham, pillows, window cornice boards, rugs, and a mirror. It's a big deal turning 12!
 I was surprised how the boys seemed to understand waiting to surprise B with all her fun new stuff and waiting for Jesus to be born.  (somebody whose name starts with "I" totally tooted while we were hiding in her bathroom to surprise her)
We are getting oh-so festive around here! Christmas is coming!

December 02, 2012

Advent, Advent

As a life-long Baptist girl I'll be honest and confess that my first time even hearing about Advent was in 2006 (I was 25) when during a festive Thanksgiving talent show my two German friends recited -in German- an Advent poem.

circa- 2006. Me with one of the German's in the talent show.
After that a blog I follow - a fellow Baptist girl- talked about doing Advent in her home.

Since then I've added 3 whole children to my home and have had 6 years to slowly gather information about this traditional church holiday.

What have I concluded? That the season of Advent is intended to prepare the heart for the long-awaited arrival of the promised Savior. The birth of Jesus.

There are many ways to go about celebrating. Some are really liturgical, some completely secular, and everything in between. So I did what any novice Adventer would do and found a guide online from a fellow mom of preschoolers and am going to use that as my guide.

My main goal in this venture is to PREPARE.

I want to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Not just screech into Christmas Eve and Christmas morning unfocused with some nice decorations and a sleepy-eyed reading of the Christmas story while really my kids just wanna get to the gifts under the tree.

Here's how we'll be going about it:
We started December 1st.  This isn't traditional, but I know December 1st is an easy date to remember.  The chances of me repeating this endeavor, and thus creating years of meaningful Christmastime memories for my kids and instilling in them the sweet wonderful meaning of the Advent of Christ means starting every year has got to be easy.

Plus, I made these bags. (before our vacation to America...because I know you've been wondering where I went) And they have numbers on them. But only 24. Which means I'll be doing 24 days of it every time.
So December 1st it is.

I'll figure out some sort of Pinteresty way of displaying these and each day we'll open them up. So far they've been hanging where the plastic grocery bags, aprons, and backpacks get hung in the kitchen. We're a work in progress fo sho.

What will be inside?

3 things

1. Scripture focusing on the coming of Christ.
2. A tea light
3. A fun Christmas activity or treat.

I'll pretty much be following this guide for the scriptures. Maybe in future years I'll come up with my own or do something like what my friend April does.

Every day we'll add a light. (instead of the traditional 4 or 5 lights) Mostly because it goes with my OTHER fun pinterest project:  these candle holders

We'll be lighting our candles each night at dinner.  The significance of the candles will be that each night leading up to Christmas it will get brighter. The Light of the World, with us.

The activities will be all kinds of things. Some of them short, some involved, many involving others, all of them (hopefully) fun. Crafts, food, songs, books, movies, and other activities. Christmas is a season of great for my little ones I want some of that joy to be tangible.

I'll do my best to keep the blog updated about how it goes. We are two days into it. The neighbor kids came over today and helped make snowflakes for our atrium. Isaac is already calling the lights "prop-e-see candles." The first day was glittering the jars.

 I wanna know if you do Advent in your home. And if you have any helpful resources, feel free to post them in the comments!

And for you culture's the German Poem that started it all!
"Advent, Advent ...ein Lichtlein brennt
erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier
dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür."
(Advent, Advent, a light is burning, first one, then two, then three then four, then the Christkind stands at the door)

Happy Preparing!