Tuesday, June 13, 2017

We Miss Papa

I haven't posted on the blog in a while, because it's been hard to know how to write this post. In March, we went to Florida for a three-day visit to Jeremy's parents that turned into a three-week trip, which we really believe God planned out for us in order to have us be in Florida right when we were. Jeremy's dad, the kids' Papa, passed away on March 13, 2017.

He was such a good grandfather. My kids miss him every day. We talk a lot about Papa around here, where he is, what he might be doing, when we will get to see him again. I am glad that "we do not mourn as those who have no hope," (1 Thess 4:13), but still we mourn.

Papa becoming Papa! Meeting Iain, his first grandchild.

And meeting Cory.

Papa and Laina. They had a really special bond, these two.

Papa the teacher--always teaching something: science, building stuff, technology, history, about Jesus.

Back when we only had three kids, we spent a week at the beach with Grammy and Papa. It was the first time they met Laina.

Always a favorite Brannon family pastime.

And this one: post-marriage, pre-any kids!

Grammy and Papa with the boys at my mom's house.

One thing we've been very thankful for is Papa's Blog. He set up this blog years ago as a way to connect with the kids, and although he didn't post very much in the last few years, it's got some good (and hilarious) stuff on it. Skits, stories, lessons, pictures, it's so great to have it.

Jeremy and his dad before our wedding.

He officiated both his sons' weddings.

Meeting tiny baby Mason!

Papa and Laina after a long day spent at the Georgia Aquarium.

And meeting Ivy.

This one was during another beach vacation, two years ago. 

Papa indulging in a little Ivy Therapy.

Papa and Ivy

After Mason's baby dedication at our church.

At Ivy's first birthday party.

The whole family.

Ivy just told me this morning, three months later, that she remembered when she "sing-ed songs to Papa to make him feel better." She remembered singing the ABC song to him before he passed away. She said, "And now he feel better-ed." And she's right. Because of our inheritance in Jesus, the salvation and hope and life He secured for us through His blood, Papa feels eternally better. And we do too.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Easter Tradition Recap

So I had this other blog, but I can't keep up two right now (can barely keep up one! Big family problems...). So before the internet ate it, I copied all the posts into a word doc. I thought I'd repost this one today, in anticipation of Easter. I wrote it a few years ago, but we've kept up with some of the traditions, doing them every year. Our favorite is still the Empty Tomb.

Is there any holiday that is richer for Christians than Easter (or Resurrection Sunday, to be precise)? The celebration that encompasses so much: our salvation, our rescue, Jesus’ resurrection, our reconciliation to God, Jesus’ victory over sin, death, hell, and the grave…the list goes on and on. It is the most important day in the history of the world. Celebrating it is our privilege and our joy.
And as parents we walk in this tension: we want our kids to have the fun Easter offers (egg dyeing and hunts, Easter baskets), but we don’t want to lose the meaning and the JOY of the day. Last year, we started some traditions that are fun and meaningful ways to celebrate the resurrection and all it holds.
The Empty Tomb
On Good Friday, we will head outside to make a garden. Here is the one we did last year.

While we gather leaves and branches from the yard, we will talk about the day. What were Jesus’ friends feeling? Why is the day called Good Friday? What happened when Jesus died? What did the disciples think had happened? We will also talk about why no flowers are allowed in the garden. Flowers are for happiness, and this is a sad, sad day. This garden (dirt in a bowl with a hollow potato as the tomb) will become our centerpiece for the next few days. And the plants will begin to wilt and die. Saturday night, we will look at it again, talking about how long it must have seemed from Friday to Sunday, and how sad the garden looks.
And then.
Saturday night while the kids are sleeping, I will remove the wilted leaves and plants, replacing them with flowers. And I will open the “tomb.” Joy! He is risen! When the kids wake up in Easter Sunday, they will see flowers for happiness, and an empty tomb. Here is what it looked like last year:

Easter Baskets
We have debated Easter baskets every year until last year. While we wanted to do them because they’re fun, we’ve also been hesitant since we don’t want Easter Sunday morning to be more exciting because of stuff than because of the Resurrected Lord. But last year, we hit upon a good way to bring symbolism to the baskets. As Jeremy said, even if the kids end up thinking this is corny, at least they’ll know we tried to bring the gospel into everything.
We each took five rocks and put them in our Easter baskets. Then one by one, we took them out, naming a sin for each rock, and dropped them into one basket we called Jesus’ basket, showing how He takes our sin. Then we covered Jesus’ basket with a red cloth, because He covers our sins with His blood. So now our Easter baskets were empty.
The next morning, they were full of good things–because Jesus takes our sins and gives us good things instead. It turned out to be a good, meaningful, and humbling exercise that reminded us all of our sin and the goodness of Jesus.
The Jesus Storybook Bible
(If you’ve never heard of or read this book, you must. It tells the stories of the Bible in a way that ties each one to Jesus. It’s beautiful and rich.) This year, we’re adding a new tradition. Starting today (Maundy Thursday), we’re reading the pages in the Jesus Storybook Bible that go along with that day. Here’s the breakdown:
Maundy Thursday: The Servant King, A Dark Night in the Garden
Good Friday: The Sun Stops Shining
Easter Sunday: God’s Wonderful Surprise
Today’s reading brought tears to my eyes. “But this is how God will rescue the whole world. My life will break and God’s broken world will mend. My heart will tear apart–and your hearts will heal. Just as the passover lamb died, so now I will die instead of you…”
Homemade Matzo 
This one we haven’t tried yet, though I’d like to. There is such symbolism in the cutting and piercing of the dough, and then breaking the bread afterwards. This recipe looked good and fairly easy. While we’re not celebrating the Passover this year (although we have in the past and have loved it), this would be a good way to connect the dots between the passover lamb and the Passover Lamb.
I hope this gives you some ideas for ways to celebrate! What Easter traditions do you have? Please share!

Friday, March 24, 2017

February's Greatest Hits

I just finished a book in which the main character calls the best moments of her life her Greatest Hits. Here are ours, for the month of February, in no particular order.

Chris came to visit! He was only here one night, but we loved visiting with him. He sat and talked to Iain for a long time about Iain's stories and drawings, which Iain thoroughly enjoyed. We love Uncle Chris!

Due to the flooding in the basement right after Christmas, we moved everyone upstairs. And after sleeping with us all in the three bedrooms for a few months, we (well, Jeremy and I) decided it worked much better for our family than having the big boys downstairs. After a lot of moving, putting IKEA furniture together, and trying to find the best ways to make it all fit, we finally have it good to go! Here are the three littles in their shared space.

Jeremy got to preach at our church this month. His text was Hebrews 3, and he preached three services. He did a great job and loved doing it. And yes, I snuck this picture during church. :)

School has been plugging along. We took a week off in February, which was glorious. Besides that, we just keep on trucking. And still reading aloud a lot. We read All-of-a-Kind Family and LOVED it. And the boys and I read A Wrinkle in Time. Also great, though too scary for Laina. So far, we're up to fifteen books this school year. 

Took a walk/hike with the Whatleys and Jenna and I may have overestimated the littles' abilities. We ended the walk like this. Phew!

More schooling. Laina is almost done with 100 Easy Lessons.

Ivy teaches how to draw Europe. She said, and I quote, "Now we gonna draw a dinosaur riiiiight here!"

She loves a good princess dress.

Iain went to TeenPact One Day! (Cory was going to go but got sick.) It was surreal and very strange to be the parent at a TP event. Made me feel old. But Iain loved it. He presented his bill on texting while driving, he participated in public speaking and debate, prayed for the governor of GA in his office, and played the bodyguard in a mock election. He's a handsome dude, this guy.

Cory, who always spends his time thinking about food when he is sick, came up with Apple Day. One day during break week, everything we ate for every meal had to include apple. We had apples on oatmeal for breakfast, apples and peanut butter with lunch, applesauce chicken for dinner, and apple pie for dessert. Next up, I believe, is Carrot Day. I vote Chocolate Day. 

Here he is, the Apple Day mastermind, with no front teeth and a cute new haircut. He's so handsome.

And she's so gorgeous.

And there we have it. February's Greatest Hits. Beautiful, scrappy, messy, everyday life.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Cory Turns Nine and Other Happenings

Snow Days! Right at the beginning of the year, we got a few inches of VERY icy snow. Not great for snowballs or snow angels, but the kids had a good time. At least, the big three did. A few minutes in the cold had Mason crying frozen tears (not really--it wasn't THAT cold) and Ivy saying she wanted to go inside. Fine by me! I got some pictures,

and then I got to make hot chocolate for these darlings and watch the others play, from the warmth of the kitchen. What a deal.

 Speaking of darlings, how sweet is this little Ivy baby? She's the sprinkles on our donut.

(kitchen elf!)

For exactly three weeks out of the year, my kids are perfectly spaced. This year, it's two, four, six, eight, ten. And then, Cory turned NINE!

Last day as an eight:

This year, Cory took his dad, his big brother, and several of his friends to see the new Star Wars movie. But first, everyone came over for apple pie. Before the guests arrived, the kids made his birthday banner.

He had a great time at the movies, and we put another birthday in the books.

(first day as a nine!)

Cory, you are a quirky, smart, hilarious, responsible, kind-hearted guy. We love watching you become everything Jesus made you to be. You keep us laughing with your wit and dry humor, and you bring something special to our family. We love you, buddy!

 Cory has a collection that I think I've mentioned before. Inspired by stories of the young Teddy Rosevelt, Cory collects any natural artifacts that strike his fancy (rocks, pelts, bones, a turkey beard, etc). Unfortunately, one of his rabbit skins was ruined in the flood we had in December. Nona came to the rescue by giving him a huge and very smelly coyote skin for his birthday.

In non-birthday news, repairs on the house (inside and outside) continue. The kids got to help with the digging and gravel, which was fun.

 Mason got this tire swing for his birthday, and it, plus the rope swing in the front yard, are his happy places.

Ivy is in her happy place if she can choose her outfit for the day, especially the shoes. She loves shoes.

 And I love them!