Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Beautiful Day

Today a prayer has been answered, a gift of a lifetime received.  As a parent you pray and hope that your child will be blessed with all the good that this life has to offer and today I know that one of my children will have all she needs. 

Todd and I believe in the power of God and we rest in the assurance of the salvation that comes from believing in His son, but we want our children to come to that same realization on their own.  We pray for their personal relationship with our maker, one that is not forced or persuaded by us.  So it has been our policy to not push but to simply love them to the Lord.  Our kids ask their own question and we answer them as best we can.  Sometimes those questions are met with no reply, we simply encourage them to look and pray for the answers for themselves.  

I believe God expects us to investigate Him thoroughly and seek out who He truly is, it is how we recognize Him in the midst of those claiming to be Him.  I have learned that my God has big shoulders, He can take me being upset with Him or forgive me if I get momentarily swayed by doubt.  When you hold the cards of truth...  fiction posses no fear and doubt has no foothold.  God can take being investigated, in fact He welcomes it.

My oldest daughter isn't someone that takes things at face value, she investigates and ask question.  She doesn't fall into persuasion easily,  she seeks things out her own way based on her own beliefs, something I not only encourage but admire about her.

After a week filled with seeking my daughter came to me today and said, "Mama I want to ask the Lord into my life today."  I gently quizzed her to find out if she really understood the words and in her matter of fact way she rolled her eyes at me and said. "Of course!"

So after service she asked me to go with her to find our Pastor to have him pray with her at the alter.  And in her quiet Kayla fashion, while all the heads were turned away.... she asked the Lord to forgive her, love her, and make her His own.

Today is the first day of her journey, one that will be filled much joy and occasionally times of sorrow.  God doesn't promise her that she won't have pain in her life, He just promises her that she will never endure that pain by herself, because when we walk with God we never walk alone.

I love you sweet little girl and I pray that you will consider every decisions in your life as carefully as you have this one.  I pray that you will always seek the Lord for guidance and direction in your life as you serve Him.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." ~ Proverbs 22:6
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Daddy The Rock Star!

Well, he may not have an instrument or even know how to play one and although he can't really carry a tune,  Daddy is a Rock Star in our house.

Since daddy is working out of town the whole house has been a little out of sorts.  But when he surprised us with an unexpected weekday arrival he was met with great fan fair!
The whole house erupted with joy.  Some were singing his name while others just chanted, "Daddy is great, daddy is great!"  Oh yes and lets not forget the multitude of fist pumps that took place.  If he had fifteen sets of ears it would still not have been enough to hear all of the stories that were flying at him at one time.  

Even my littlest was in on the excitement.  Once she finally made it into daddy's arms she wasn't planning on ever leaving.  He tried to hand her to me so he could change his clothes but she latched on with the death grip.  Really!  At first I thought she must not have seen who she was going to, that grip is usually  reserved for ONLY me... after the second attempt I realized that even she had apparently jumped on the bandwagon!

You know the rest of the world may not fully appreciate my husbands star quality but one thing is for sure Daddy is a Rock Star in our house.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Poor Santa

This post is for all of you who have tried to recreate that perfect magazine image of the well dressed smiling children in front of the perfectly decorated Christmas tree.  We can be so taken in by the pictures believing that those in it must really have it all together.  I have recently heard it said that a picture is an artificial depiction of who we really are, because it is just a reflection of a single moment in time.

So this is for all of you that are like me and have a tendency to become picture OCD.  This my friends is a true depiction of a Bramlee Family Photo shoot... enjoy!

This one is a Can You Spy Santa game.
I think Santa will be setting a...2 kid per picture limit after this one.

Anareese loved her visit with Santa.

Almost a good one.

Right about now Santa is thinking, "I am getting to old for this!"

Someone suggested that mommy and mamaw get in the picture to help things a long.

And we almost had one but the mommy ruined it with a goofy smile.
Oh well we tried!

I am pretty sure Santa was reevaluating is career choice after this one .....

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Bramlee Family Year In Review

New Years Day 2011, Laser Bowling.

January fun!
Happy Valentine's Day
It is so hard to believe that we are putting another year to rest.  It's funny how when we are children the days seem so long, it's as if time can't pass fast enough and then somewhere between adolescence and adulthood the earth begins to rotate a little faster.  Now, I search for ways to slow time down, hoping and praying that I will make the most of every passing minute.

March at the lake with our Kim~

Daddy's and his girls.
April means Spring!

We have spent this year really enjoying our family and focusing on cherishing each other and the blessings that we have been given.  I have learned to see life through the eyes of my children and to take things in stride with child-like faith and hope.  I am so thankful for everyone that has been on this journey with us, supporting us and loving us along the way.  Our family has been blessed by the hands of others so many times and we have had amazing experiences because of those loved ones.
Anareese turned 6 months old April.

May Flowers!
Family photo in May!
Dancing in June.
First plane ride for Addyson and Anareese.
First time in the sand.
Beach in July with daddy.

Playing guitar in August.
You could cay this year was full of many firsts for each one of of us in the Bramlee Family, especially for our littlest.

Our many adventures took us on planes, trains, and automobiles.  We embraced the cold... and the snow that it brought, braved the rain on our wilderness camp out, basked in the sunshine while lounging on the beach (no worries we were coated in sunscreen).
New York in October.

Philly in September.
 The youngest two Bramlees experienced flying for the first time on our way to the beach.  The subway in the city was a brand new adventure for three of my little ones, but Philadelphia and New York City were firsts for all of us.  Each child reached new milestones of their own as well.  T.C. started taking guitar lessons, the older girls danced on "the Big stage!", and Anareese crawled, walked, and said a few words.

Anareese turned 1 at the American Girl Doll Store in NYC.

Train rides and pumpkin patches in October.
We are so grateful for each and ever chance that we are given to celebrate the sweet moments of our life.
2011 was filled with so much laughter, smiles and tears and we are grateful for both, for without one we could never fully appreciate the other.

Unfortunately, with this November came the loss of a great man that meant the world to me, his love   
and generosity has forever influenced me.  I will never forget him or the legacy he left behind.

Christmas Day 2011

And now here we sit with a new opportunity to get things right.  We have 365 brand new days that are full of beautiful potential, right now at this moment we have a chance to make the choices that we should have made on our last go round.  We have a clean slate full of opportunity and possibility, but it is up to us to make the most of this gift.
This year we can get it right, this year we can choose differently, this year we can be exactly who we are suppose to be.

I pray that no ones misses out on the blessings that were intended for them and that each of us embrace the gifts that God is trying to give to us.  

Happy New Year!

Lamentations 3:22-23

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Big, Little Blessings

Today, right in the middle of my kitchen, at the end of a not so bad day, in a nothing special moment, when I least expected it... I received one the Biggest, Little Blessings of my life!  This beautiful blessing came straight from the sweet little hearts of my children. 

Here it is from the beginning....

Our core curriculum in our home has become lessons in character, teaching not only my children how to be better creatures but their parents as well.  All the homeschooling books that I hold dear emphasize teaching character FIRST and allowing everything else to fall into place.  When children are taught what is expected of them they become better equipped to deal with the world around them.  It is these characteristics that allow them to become better learners and more caring individuals.  

We are currently working on the characteristic of Obedience, and I have to say it was slow going at first. As part of this lesson the children are suppose to ask God to help them be obedient to their parents, and the parents are to be obedient to the instructions that come from God.

Obedience~ Immediately doing what is asked of you on the first request, WITH a joyful heart.

Well, I would like to tell you that my little angels were quick learners with this one, but let's face it this one is hard even for their parents (especially that joyful heart part).  So, as an extra incentive I have started to give away an Obedience Award at the end of everyday to the most obedient (by definition) child.

Today as my obedient little angels buzzed around and the, "Yes Ma'ams" filled the air, there was a presence of peacefulness that filled this house.  Everyone played nicer, talked sweeter, shared more freely, and showed genuine concern for someone other than themselves.  I was witnessing their character being shaped before my eyes, they were demonstrating true obedience.

Now, I know that this was directly related to the incentive, but regardless of the initial reason for doing their task these little ones were still learning a valuable lesson.  Repetition breeds habit and habit leads to changes in behavior, if this tactic works for negative aspects why not uses it for good?

It was very difficult for me to choose which child would receive the award (a bag filled with different privileges, the child being awarded gets to reach in a choose one).  All of the children worked really hard at being not only obedient but joyfully obedient!  It came down to my two oldest and I chose my son, he had improved the most over the past few days and deserved to be recognized.

And that's when it happened...

After my sweet little boy picked his privilege he quietly walked over to his very disappointed sister and said, "Here I want to  share this with you."  His generosity quickly spread to the other children as each of them began to make genuine heartfelt offers to each other.  I watched this beautiful little moment unfold between my children and I was truly blessed.  

If only we could all treat each other the way these little ones treated each other today, what a different place this world would be.  The lesson of the day was mostly mine and it was taught to me by three little people with Giant size character.

There was so much more learned here today than just obedience. 

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Promise Land

Where are we in our journey?
Well to be honest I feel a little like the Israelites wondering around in the desert.  We know that The Promise Land is near by but we just don't know which direction we are suppose to start making footprints. I am sure that the dry desert posed many of it's own problems but the thought of another dead end journey must have seemed unbearable to the traveling mass.  I have come to realize that we aren't much different than this brood of wanderers. I have often wondered how in the world a two week trip could turn into a forty year fiasco, I  am sure that none of Israelites intended to become discouraged or doubtful but nevertheless they did and the result was years of being lost.

 It can be so easy to become distracted by the trials of our journey that we begin to loose sight of the path that we are on and our intended destination.  
Fall 2010
As for us, we are eager to go where God wants us to go but at the moment there is a cloud of dust blocking our view of the Promise Land.  What we do know is that God's timing is always perfect and that those that earnestly seek His will with a pure heart will never be forsaken.

 Our plan:  To hold on to His word and know that one day He will reveal our Promise Land.  
And for now we will just try to keep our eyes on our cloud by day and the fire by night, knowing that no matter where we go God will be leading us.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

A Joyful Broken Heart

Today is a day that I have dreaded for many years.  All logic tells me that this is just part of life and an obvious moment that I should have seen coming and yet somehow I am still taken aback.

Kayla, Grandad, and T.C. Summer of 2010
It is so hard to say good-bye to someone you love but I must remember that is also a wonderful celebration of a long awaited moment for my Grandfather.  So it is with a joyfully broken heart that I hand this amazing man over to the God that loved him into life.  Today, I will let go of my selfish desire to hold onto to someone that loved me and supported me unconditionally.  
I know that he is finally where he has longed to be.

The world that my grandfather was born into looked much different than the world that he left.  He has seen many hardships and joys in his life which had given him a great perspective of what was truly important.  I was so blessed to have received my inheritance of his great wealth of wisdom.  My grandfather understood what true happiness was and where it could be found.  He taught me that giving provided far more joy than receiving ever could and that  great wealth was not measured by dollars but rather by love.

I was so blessed to have had such a wonderful and close relationship with my grandfather.  I spent so many years with him creating a lifetime of memories that I will carry with me.  

When Todd and I realized that he was going to peruse a career in medicine, it was my grandfather that I told first.  Before I decided to homeschool my children I called my grandfather to hear his wisdom.  There are so many decisions in my life that didn't come until after I sought the counsel of the man that I held in such high esteem.  There isn't anything that he wouldn't have done for me or any other member of our family.

Every time we spoke he made sure to share with me all the reasons he had for being proud of me and how much he loved me.  But the lesson he reiterated the most was to cherish everyday with my children because all to quickly time will pass on this season of my life.

One of the greatest men that I have ever known,
Summer 2010
Joseph Aluise was not only a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather but he was a great friend.  This wonderful man received so much peaceful joy from helping others.  We will never know the multitude of people that my grandfather touched with his generosity.  He was a silent giver, never wanting recognition for helping someone in need.  His example of humility and kindness has shaped the way I teach my children as well as the way I interact with others.  I am so blessed to have his life as an example to me and to my children.

So today I say good-bye to my hero, a measure for all men.
Grandad, I love you more than words can express, you are and always will be a great source of strength and encouragement to me.  You have provided me with enough love to last me a lifetime.

Grandad with Anareese Summer 2011

Joseph Albert Aluise
My grandfather was a man of meek stature but profound presence, humble in spirit with a servants heart, he was an amazing example of Christ's love to all who knew him.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Simple Things

There is so much that goes on throughout my day but sometimes in a sweet simple moment my kids just take my breath away! 

It really is the simple things in life that make me smile. 

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