Wednesday, December 31, 2008

there was a wedding. in my bathroom.

If you've been following this blog (or my Flickr photo stream) long enough you've likely seen things like this:

Or this:

Or perhaps even this:

The Webkinz in our home live very active lives, each with a personality as unique as its name: Samtte, Vigge, Jerry, Alana, Jacob - just to name a few. They've battled each other for world domination yet, for the most part, have a strong sense of community. The Webkinz came out in full force yesterday to witness Alana and Tommy join hands paw-and-wing in marriage. Here are a few shots from the day:

There was even a congratulatory sign hanging from the bathroom mirror:

They all signed it. (Of course.)

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

a momma needs prayer...

Some of you might be familiar with MckMama via Angie's blog. While she was pregnant with their last child, she was told at 24 weeks that he would surely die after birth. Nothing less than a miracle occurred and MckMuffin (a.k.a. Stellan) was born completely healthy. He'd been thriving and doing well until contracting RSV in recent days. (They were in the ER on Saturday and told it was likely just a cold. Things took a turn for the worse and they are back in the hospital now with Stellan fighting for his life.) Prayers a desperately needed for this family. You can follow what is happening by clicking on the "MckMiracle" link on the lower right of this blog page.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Needham Family Adoption Photo Drive

I'd recently shared some information with you regarding a $2,500 matching grant a friend had qualified for through Lifesong for Orphans. (My original post is HERE.) With the deadline quickly approaching, I want to do what I can to help ensure they receive every dime of that gift! To the first five people who respond, I am offering a free 1-hour photo session with a $50 minimum donation to their adoption fund. (Just think of it this way, your $50 donation will mean $100 for the family.) Your 1-hour photography session can be booked anytime in 2009 and will include a free 5x7 image. For those of you unfamiliar with my work, you can get to my photography website by clicking HERE. If you're interested in taking part in this photo drive, let me know ASAP (there are only five four sessions available)! Donations to the adoption fund can be made online by clicking HERE (add "Preference Needham Adoption 714" in the description) or by mail to:

Lifesong for Orphans
Attention: Needham 714 Adoption
P.O. Box 40
202 N. Ford Street
Gridley, IL 61744

If you have any questions or would like to book a session just drop me a note at acvega at frontiernet dot net.

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hanging out at the farm

Our final Christmas celebration took place over the weekend (thus, the visit with Deb). My cousin Alyssa had recently traveled to El Salvador as part of a college course and had the opportunity to share details with us at the family gathering.

This was particularly meaningful for my brother-in-law who grew up in there. Alyssa brought with her several special gifts from El Salvador, including an itty bitty soccer shirt for my nephew. Though I had trouble understanding much of what was said (they were speaking Spanish), it was fun to see the connection.

She recommended a few things to help our family better understand his culture and background. One was the movie, "Voces Inocentes" (Innocent Voices). You'll find the movie trailer below:

Powerful stuff. (Click HERE to purchase.) She and several classmates have also compiled a blog (now that's a language I can understand). Click HERE to learn more.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

a little *before* and *after*

Before growing up:

And after:

My aunt Deb is in town with her family and we had a chance to visit for a long, long time. Our relationship is special in so many ways, it's difficult to put into words the impact she's had on my life over the years. God has knit things together as only He can and I am grateful for the connection we now share through Him.

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a new MercyMe video!

The song is called "Finally Home" - from the album All That Is Within Me.

I’m gonna wrap my arms around my daddy’s neck
And tell him that I’ve missed him.
And tell him all about the man that I became
And hope that it pleased him

There’s so much I want to say
There’s so much I want you to know

When I finally make it home
When I finally make it home

Then I’ll gaze upon the throne of the King
Frozen in my steps
And all the questions that I swore I would ask
Words just won’t come yet

So amazed at what I’ve seen
So much more than this old mind can hold


And the sweetest sound my ears have yet to hear
Voices of the angels


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turn one gift into another

A friend of mine and her family are adopting a child from India. First of all, I just have to share a bit from one of her posts:

This beautiful video, created for Third Day's Christmas tour, features the song, "Merry Christmas." (The images are of former guitarist Brad Avery's family.) The lyrics are below:

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for momma's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
There the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
Make angels in the snow

But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time to celebrate the holy child
and we celebrate his perfect gift of love
He came to earth to give his life
and prepare a place for us
so we could have a home with him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And I'll tell you from my heart, and I'll you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas

Then, Jen posted THIS and I found myself all choked up over the image of their daughter's Christmas stocking hanging on the fireplace mantel in anticipation of her arrival. Abby is already a part of their family (and hearts) before they've even met! They are preparing a place for her and it will be a beautiful day when she is home.

If you would like to help, you can donate to their adoption fund online. Lifesong for Orphans is matching all donations up to $2,500 of funds raised. Click HERE to donate (be sure to add "Preference Needham Adoption 714" in the description).

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hop On the Bus Plane

Pastor Derek leaves tomorrow and after six years at Hosanna!, he's made quite the mark. We'll miss his British accent, the Alpha talks, and even the extra LOOOOONG sermons. But as he so aptly put it tonight: God's On the Move.

If you missed tonight's service, you can still catch him tomorrow before his plane leaves. Because this was one of his last sermons, he decided to fulfill a 6-year long dream... to lead worship on the big stage. And that, my friends, he did.

We grooved to the Scott Underwood tune, "Hop On the Bus" and it was good.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

I could really use another female in the house...

Really. Here are several images from our Christmas Day celebration with the hubby's family:

As always, the cousins had a blast at Grandma Lita's place. We were one auntie and cousin short of a full house because of the flu. Big bummer. We sang a few tunes during Meeley's performance, had some yummy treats, and shared stories. It was so nice to see Cindy (it's been way too long) and just plain fun hanging out.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

a few images to share...

We celebrated Christmas Eve with my side of the family. It was my nephew's first Christmas but sadly he was only able to stay for a short period of time :-(

A few changes were made to our BINGO tradition, one being that it would be the only source of gifts for adults this year. Everyone contributed to the stash and we all had a great time fighting pouring over the selection. As I mentioned earlier, Mom made BEEF STROGANOFF and Dad made his infamous beef jerky (it makes me thirsty just thinking about it). It was a very late night and another tonight! (My brain is shutting down as I type.) I'll share the Christmas Day images tomorrow!

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If Christ Had Not Come

A number of years ago, a Christmas card was published with the title, "If Christ Had Not Come." It was based on our Savior's own words, "If I had not come," in John 15:22. The card pictured a minister falling asleep in his study on Christmas morning and then dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.

In his dream, he saw himself walking through his house, but as he looked, he saw no stockings hung on the chimney, no Christmas tree, no wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort and gladden hearts or to save us. He then walked onto the street outside, but there was no church with its spire pointed toward heaven. And when he came back and sat down in his library, he realized that every book about our Savior had disappeared.

The minister dreamed that the doorbell rang and that a messenger asked him to visit a friend's poor dying mother. He reached her home, and as his friend sat and wept, he said, "I have something here that will comfort you." He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended with Malachi. There was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and all he could do was bow his head and weep with his friend and his mother in bitter despair.

Two days later he stook beside her coffin and conducted her funeral service, but there was no message of comfort, no words of glorious resurrection, and no thought of a mansion awaiting her in heaven. There was only, "dust to dust, and ashes to ashes," and one long eternal farewell. Finally, he realized that Christ had not come, and burst into tears, weeping bitterly in his sorrowful dream.

The suddenly he awoke with a start, and a great should of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing these words in his church nearby:

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come yet to Bethlehem!
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels,
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Let us be glad and rejoice, because He has come. And let us remember the proclamation of the angel: "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11 NIV, emphasis added). This excerpt was taken from "The 25 Days of Christmas" by Greg Johnson.

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my little Rock Band

I captured the hubby teaching the boys Bullet the Blue Sky by U2 before head out to my folks' house for our Christmas celebration. Mom surprised us with BEEF STROGANOFF! (I was thinking of you, Sharon.) We also played our highly anticipated game of BINGO.

The kids love this more than presents. (Well, it's probably because it involves a lot of presents.)

Merry Christmas!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

the Tour O' Christmas Lights

We spent the evening listening to holiday tunes while checking out a few favorite hot spots in South St. Paul: Angelo's, Tangletown, and Black Sheep Coffee Cafe. (BTW, you can just click on the above collage to enlarge it.) I just had to share this one up close:

My family was dropping off a food shelf donation with Santa when I snapped it (you'll see them on the lower left). We had a great time admiring the beautiful decorations and enjoyed a yummy treat before calling it a night. (Thanks Tilly for the Black Sheep idea... it was wonderful.)

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