Friday, March 27, 2009


Oh, my goodness.  What a week!  I am home again for a few days.  We left on March 18th, and went to my parents' house where Briana lives.  My sister and 2 nieces were there visiting as well, so we enjoyed Wed. night and Thurs. visiting.  Thursday night was Briana's opening night.  James and I went, and it was WONDERFUL!  I loved it, and can't wait to go back.  (I plan to go at least 2 more times.  Since they gave us 5 free tickets, and the younger girls are not going, I can go twice for free!)
The musical is set in the Shenandoah Valley of VA during the Civil war.  It is about a family trying to stay out of the war.  The first half is fun, and the 2nd half is sad.
Briana had the opening dance solo, so she was the first one out on stage. I was crying before she ever got out there.  : )

Opening number~

Briana is on the right next to the flag bearer~

In church~
Fire scene~  Briana is on the left beating out the fire.

Next to Lovin' I Like Fightin' ~ fun song

Preparing for the wedding banquet.  Briana is on the right holding the tablecloth.~

1st battle scene.  They are being shot at, as they run across the stage, screaming.  : ) Briana is in the center.

 Second Battle scene.  Briana is symbolic of the Union.  Standing in the midst of the war. 
See the Confederacy (at the bottom) is dying.
 These guys all around her (4, I think) are shooting blanks from real guns.  It's very loud!!  She still jumps every time at the first shot.  LOL. 

The Union stands and is victorious, though ragged and tired.  Briana is waving the flag in victory.

2nd dance solo~ 
This man in front of her has the lead role.  He has been in numerous tv shows, and has worked with many famous actors, including Tom Cruise, Carol O'Conner, Andy Griffith, etc.

In this musical, Briana was chosen as what they call "The Dream Child".  They have someone in every musical who is symbolic and "the chosen one"  haha.  That's why as all of the families are being reunited after the war, she is alone in the center, as she watches the father in his grief. 

Yes, I am just slightly proud of and for her.  This has been a dream come true for her.  One that she was a little afraid to dream.  This is a great theater, that does some great productions.  In fact, they were the first theater licensed by Disney to do Beauty and the Beast.  I am also thankful to my parents who have given up some things to allow her to live with them this year. 
Tomorrow (Sat.) will be the 5th show of Shenandoah, and she has 32 more to go before it closes on June 14th. 
Thanks for letting me share my excitement!

Monday, March 16, 2009


Only 3 more days!!!!!!  until Briana's opening night for her first adult musical.  And, only 4 more days until I see her for the first time in 4 1/2 weeks.  I am so ready.  I've called her quite a bit the last week.  Email just wasn't enough.  We also have Skype, which is wonderful, because I can see her and talk to her on the computer for free.  Of course, I will only get to see her a few hours on Thurs. before the show, a short while after the show, and a few minutes the next morning before we are off to MS for James' scout reunion. 
  She's really getting excited, I think, about opening night, although she's got some long days ahead of her with tech and dress rehearsals.  I can't remember if I said here before, but she was given the dance solo to open the musical, which is totally, amazingly COOL!  LOL.  (can you tell I'm excited?)  She also does a smaller solo toward the end.  There has been just one catch this weekend......they put her in a hoop skirt!  It's kind of hard to do high kicks and dance in a hoop skirt. So, the choreographer is "working on it".  She said they may change her costume. 
   Ashley and I are on antibiotics since last Tues.  We never could kick the sinus junk.  This is the first time I've been to the dr. sick in 6 years.  I got sick with a sinus infection on the plane coming back from adopting Daniella.  We're doing much better....until today.  I'm still on the antibiotics, but I am sinusy again, scratchy throat, running a low grade fever again, and completely drained of all energy.  I guess I'm trying to get something viral on top of the other.  Ugh.  I've got to get some energy to pack!
  Ashley started her next 2 college courses (8 weeks courses) this week.  This term she is taking Missions and Theology.  She's going to be quite bogged down in reading I do believe.  At least it is interesting to her.  She made a 95 in college Biology last term.  I was so excited for her because science is not really her great interest, and the first week was overwhelming and HARD~lots of chemistry.  Once she got past that, though, she actually enjoyed studying deeper about the human body. 
  We're plugging away here on homeschooling.  I have hit a problem with Daniella in math that I don't know how to explain to her better, and she is not comprehending.  I'm going to let her Daddy have a shot at it tomorrow.  If she's not ready for it yet, we'll just move on and come back to it.  I could tell today that she was feeling down on herself because she couldn't understand.  She's good at math, and I am not going to hinder that.
  As you know, Ashley is on our church praise dance team.  They are dancing in the Easter production on Palm Sunday.  They let younger kids do 2 dances this time, though, so Marissa and Daniella are both doing praise dance this time as well.  They are really excited, and I'm very amazed that Marissa is enjoying it.  She's not typically the dancer type.  We just found out today that James is going to be the narrator.  If you'd told me 3 or 4 years ago that my husband would be narrating a production and acting in the VBS dramas, I would have laughed at you!  I guess once he danced in the Nutcracker a few times with his daughters it broke the ice for him.  LOL.
Here are a few pictures from our homeschool~
We studied Ben Franklin, and part of that was about his newspaper.  We took alphabet pasta, inverted it, painted it, then pressed it on to another paper.


The only problem was that the pasta soaked in the paint, and it was hard to keep them wet enough to get all the letters coated.  If you put too much paint on, it filled in the holes.  They thought it was fun, though.
Marissa's said, "Marissa loves her cat."

Marissa loves to take pictures of absolutely anything and everything~ the carpet, door knobs, stuffed animals, acorns,close ups of comforters, notebooks, you name look through her pictures is quite humorous.  But, sometimes she captures some pretty cool pictures.  One day, I think she will have a really good eye and be quite a good photographer.  Here are just a few~

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Spring Days

Alas, tomorrow it will get cooler again (okay, I know the 50's is very warm to some of my blog friends), but we have sure enjoyed the last several days of 70's in the southeast! 

Had to include Marissa's poor cat, Shadow.  He is crippled from a bear attack a few years ago, and still greives that he can't go outside.  He sits at the open window and sniffs the air, and stands at the door and cries.  So sad.  I want to get him a tunnel or cage so he can go out, but he bit Marissa before when she took him out for a while, because he didn't want to come back in.  Have you ever seen such a fat cat? 

After the girls got home from homeschool baseball yesterday, we all went out and worked a short while in the yard.  James is working on a huge pile of logs from a tree we had cut down.  He got a little help. 

Marissa's face when she heard that the wood was cracking that she WAS actually splitting the log!  LOL.

The girls have spent most of the last week here.  We designed, and James built, this playset 2 springs ago.  This week they've added old sheets all over the top to make walls and a roof.  They like to sit up there and color and draw. 

They LOVE the "dizzy disk" in the middle.

There are 2 decks with a bridge connecting them.  They want to add a pulley system on here to lift all their stuff up.  : )  Daddy is still working on the design of that one.  You can also see we added a hammock underneath the bridge.  It's a great place to snuggle in with a book.

Also yesterday afternoon~

Daniella's hands~



Friday, March 6, 2009

Doubting God's Goodness

This is Ashley's March email devotional. 
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13

John the Baptist knew who Jesus was. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that Jesus was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” , and John himself had repeatedly declared to the people that Jesus was the Messiah. If anyone was positively convinced, it was John! (John 1:29)
But there came a day when he doubted. When circumstances got dark, disappointing, and confusing, and Jesus was not meeting his expectations, John questioned Him, “Are You the Expected One, or should we look for someone else?”
Have you ever been there? I have, very recently, experienced something similar to what John the Baptist did. I know and believe that God is who He says He is. But in times that are dark, discouraging, or painful -- or when God doesn’t do what I think He should have done -- questions and doubts arise. My question isn’t necessarily “Are you really God?” like John’s was, but instead, “God, are You really good?”
To me, one of the most encouraging things about this story is that Jesus did not condemn or rebuke John for his doubt. There isn’t even a hint of that. Neither does He condemn you and me.
But, Jesus didn’t give him a direct answer either. There is no record of Him saying, “Yes, John, I am the Messiah.” What Jesus chose to do instead was to show John the evidence. Look what is happening, John -- blind people are seeing, dead are being raised to life, the poor are hearing the gospel…here’s the evidence; now do you believe?
He wanted John to believe in Him, just as He wants us to believe Him. But I think He knew that John’s faith would probably be stronger by seeing the truth, rather than just being told, “Yes, it’s Me.” So instead, He called John’s attention to the miracles that were happening, reminded him of the Scripture that predicted these things about the Messiah (Isaiah 61:1-2), and in this away assured him tangibly that yes, He was indeed the Expected One.
How does this play out for us when we’re questioning God? Well, He’s probably not going to just say, “Yes, Ashley, I’m good.” Or He might. But chances are, He’s going to show me or remind me of the evidence that He is good and loving.
In fact, in the recent weeks that I was struggling with these questions, I can look back and see His loving hand. Some good things were happening even in the midst of the bad things. There were little reminders of His love for me and for others. I didn’t see some of them until after the “storm” was over, but even then, it’s like He’s saying, as He did to John, “Here’s the evidence; now do you believe Me?” There was tangible evidence to assure me that even in the dark times, His heart is full of love and compassion toward His children. And I chose to believe it.
John wasn’t the only one in Scripture who questioned. I think of Moses, who questioned God’s calling and his ability to carry it out. God gave Moses special abilities as evidence that the Lord was with him. And how about “doubting Thomas,” the disciple who refused to believe that Christ had risen from the dead? What did Jesus do for Thomas? He did not condemn him, but gave him tangible evidence of His resurrection to help him believe.
Finally, Jesus said to John the Baptist, “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me”. I’m sure He probably knew that there were some people who would be offended at His teachings and refuse to follow Him, and He wanted to help John not to stumble in his faith. Jesus will never fit in our “box” (Matthew 9:16-17), but He is who He is, and we must make the choice to believe Him no matter what our eyes see that doesn’t fit our expectations. As Christ said to doubting Thomas, “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed . (John 20:29) (Matthew 11:6)
Praise God who cares enough about His children to take the time and loving care to prove Himself to us! He proved His love in the greatest way possible on Calvary, and tells us again and again in His Word, but in the weakness of our human flesh, we still doubt sometimes. Yet, “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” . When we doubt, may the Lord open our eyes and hearts to see the evidence He shows us daily of who He is… and believe and love Him more as a result. (Psalm 103:13-14)

Please share any comments, prayer requests, or suggestions.  Have a great month (can you believe it's March already?!) and God bless!  ~Ashley
(Matthew 11:3).

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Tour of the White House

Marissa and I have been enjoying a look at the White House~ a tour through some of it's rooms, the history of the White House itself, along with some interesting facts about Presidents, First Ladies, First families (and their pets), and their role and life at the White House.
We were able to tour the White House in Sept. 2001, just a few days before 9-11, and we really enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, now you must have a group of 10 or more to schedule a tour.  Marissa, my history buff, is dying to go to D.C., and I  hope that I can talk to our congressman's office to figure out some way to get her in one of those tours whenever we go.  I may have to start calling people to go with us on our trip! 
On another trip to D.C., we were able to see President and Laura Bush sitting on the south Portico with two other people.  We think it could have been the president of Mexico and his wife since they were visiting that week.  We also saw their dog, Barney, playing with a staff member on the lawn. 
The book is a fun, historical look inside if you've never been, if you are planning to go, or even if you've been already to see and read about places you saw.  And, it's an easy to understand guide for children. 
This is Ashley, Briana, Marissa, and me in front of the north portico in Sept. 2001.  The corner of the picture has paper and a star because I had to scan it out of my scrapbook!