Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord

The Lord Giveth, He Taketh Away…Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord! I believe that more than anything this past year, the Lord has shown me this to be true. This isn’t always the easiest of  lessons that the Lord has ever shown me, but His plan is always perfect and with love. I have shed many a tear with this lesson this year, but my tears were not alone. There is no doubt that when God gives you trials, it may be the hardest times to praise His name, but I have found that if you come to Him with everything, He will make a way.  He is with us through everything! Earlier this month, the Lord saw it fit to take away something from dear friends of ours -their home. It was early morning, when the reality hit them that their house could not be saved with just the water from a garden hose, and they escaped the flames that begin to rapidly engulf their beautiful, God-honoring house. With only the clothes on their backs, Jon and his three children (Eliza, 5, Olivia, 4 and Aiden, 2) and Jon’s sister, Jeana, watched the flames rip through each room and destroy everything. Tabitha, Jon’s wife, had just received the call to come home immediately. ( She was working her shift at the hospital as an RN.) I could only imagine her fear and distress as she begin to arrive closer and closer to her neighborhood only to see firefighters surrounding her home and flames destroying it. When she and I spoke the next day, her words gripped my heart…

“I jumped out of the car and ran down the street screaming and asking anyone I could, “My babies?? My family?  Please, where are they??”  No one could answer.  I kept running til I saw my sweet husband, my hero, standing on the side of the road barefoot and cold, watching our home burn.  I collapsed at his feet.  “The kids?” I was still hysterical.  He pointed to a white vehicle and I ran.  Inside I saw the most amazing site, my three beautiful babies, barefoot and in their pajamas sweetly waiting with their Aunt Jeana.  “MOMMY!!!!”, the sweetest sound I have ever heard. I grabbed all three of them.  The warmth of their skin and smell of their hair at that moment was almost more than I could handle.”            

Tabitha’s words and were so sincere and almost frightening, that I pray that no one I ever know will have to experience those emotions. As I mentioned earlier, it is the hardest time to give praise to a wonderful, merciful God, when you just don’t understand why, but she and her family have not only given the Lord all the praise to be given, but have also given hope and understanding to those around them who may have not had it before. They have been truly wonderful examples of  those in trial having FAITH!

Their beautiful family was able to spend yesterday (Christmas Day) in a temporary rental home (they will be leaving as medical missionaries to Togo, West Africa this coming Fall) and she has shared that their family has been truly blessed with help and generosity from loved ones, friends and complete strangers.

I couldn’t help but open my presents and clean up the Christmas aftermath with a more humble heart this year. I actually went upstairs and took a peek at my beautiful wedding dress hanging in its bag (Tabitha said hers was a complete loss) and made a few bows for Landrey with a  little more love put into them. I have thanked the Lord these past weeks a little harder for Landrey and Jason and hope that Tabitha and Jon’s faith and trust in our wonderful, glorious God will be contagious for your family this coming year, as well.

http://groeneveldfamily.blogspot.com/

Sweet Giggles, Frilly Bows and Dirty Toes

Several “boo boos”, hundreds of bows, an occasional tantrum and lots of hugs and kisses later, we have a TWO year old in our house! These past two years have, without a doubt, been the most challenging and the most rewarding years I have ever experienced. While some days, I couldn’t see straight due to lack of sleep, other days were filled with so many giggles and laughing, my cheeks hurt! I am so thankful that our Lord decided to bless our family with little Landrey.

As a human, many believe that they are deserving of being a mother and having children. As a Christian, I know I just the opposite and it’s only by His grace and mercy that He blessed our family with a child. I have no explanation of why some do not receive the blessings of children, nor do I have an explanation of why God sometimes chooses to take some children before they ever know the comfort of their fathers arms or the sweetness of their mothers kisses. I just have to trust that His plans are perfect and decisions are sufficient for me. I do know, however, that through our trials and disappointments, He longs for us to draw closer to Him and brag on his blessing that He HAS bestowed upon us. My family is my blessing.

This year, for Landrey’s birthday party, we decided to keep it small and simple and have it be a family event.  (All 20+ family members) 🙂 The day was perfect! Perfect weather, no fevers or sickness mysteriously popping up that morning (why does that always happen the morning of a special day?) and nearly all our family was in town to help us celebrate. And the cake….. absolutely gorgeous! (Thanks, Mrs. Della.)

This year, I particularly enjoyed her birthday party. Mainly because she could participate, sing along to “happy birthday to you…” and actually blow out her little candle on her cake.  http://vimeo.com/30233613 She was able to unwrap her birthday presents and went around to each family member and thanked them with a hug and kiss. I was one proud mamma! During these past two years, her interests have changed from rattles and bottles, to ponies, babies and playing dress up.  I have to admit, I am enjoying playing dress-up, too! 🙂 With that being said, her gifts of “my little ponies”, dress-up clothes and baby dolls were perfect!! There wasn’t a toy she set aside or that she didn’t love when she unwrapped it. Her excitement was contagious! Finally, her special present from her Nana and Papa came through the door.  Her face was priceless. She instantly caught her breath  and with excitement boiling over, tears came to her eyes and she hasn’t stopped playing with her kitchen since. The day was perfect.

Happy 2nd birthday to our Little Princess, Landrey Elizabeth. Your mommy and daddy are over the moon to be your parents and have loved you from the moment we knew you existed. God smiled on us the day you were born and we pray that you follow His perfect plan for your life, as we are trying to do for ourselves. Trust Him, Follow Him and you will never be disappointed. He loves you more than we can ever dream. We look forward to sharing this upcoming year with you, your sweet giggles, frilly bows and dirty toes. :

My Goal For God, Not My Resolution

Welcome 2011!!! It just seemed like we were welcoming 2010 and here we are in 2011. WOW! I guess the saying “Time flies when you’re having fun” is true!

Did anyone make any New’s Year’s Resolutions?? Can’t say that I have ever made any, due to the fact that I would break them, but it’s always fun to hear other peoples. A friend of mine said that her local gym was already packed just a few days into the new year!! For some reason, that makes me laugh. Come Feb. 1, 2011, it will be cleared out again. 🙂

I am really looking forward to this year. I am so excited to see that God has planned for our family and I can hardly wait to see what Landrey will do next. Can you say FUN?? That little girl is a blast!! Jason and I are really enjoying this stage in her life. Sometimes I wish I had a “pause button”  for her, just so I could soak up everything she does and says. What a little blessing she has been for us both.

This past Christmas was a perfect example of how I wish I could freeze time. She was the life of any gathering and a real scene stealer.  Our Christmas Card photo says it all.

Her big personality makes for some great photos that I am sure she will laugh at as she gets older.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lately, it seems like we have been spending a lot of time indoors. I am one that loves the feeling of the sun on my face and even the feeling you get when you get as you sit down in a car that’s been in the sun all day! But here in NC, the snow just keeps coming down. Pretty as it may be, it is COLD! And with the cold air comes Cold and Flu season. All three of us have been battling colds, but let’s pray no one gets the Flu! Yikes! Not fun!

As some of you know, I am a part of our town’s MOM2MOM group. What a blessing it has been for me and so many other moms from our area and church! We have a great group of mothers ranging from stay-at-home moms to full-time working moms, to moms of 1 child to moms of 4+ children. This go around, we are diving into the book ‘The Power Of A Positive Mom’ by Karol Ladd. It is very easy reading with powerful messages and wonderful, encouraging words of scripture. A great book for any mom, really! Jason found my book, new on Amazon for only $8.00 including shipping. I have heard of it going for $4.00 including shipping, so if you are interested in this book, it’s very affordable and would be a great book to start your New Year off with!

I am also going to try and read the Bible through this year. Not a resolution, but a goal for God. I am ashamed to admit that I have tried previously and became “distracted”. I once read somewhere that the Bible is really a “love letter” to me and I never forgot that. I plan on reading every word of His wonderful “love letter” this year! Some have committed to reading in 90 days! WOW! Not very practical for a mom with a very active 16 month old, but nevertheless, in 90 days or 365 days, I will get it done. Want to join me?? Having an accountability partner is a great way to accomplish this big goal! I would be happy to do it, or ask a friend to join you and you’ll be surprised how that really pushes you to succeed!

 

 

 

 

MOMents in time…

Where did the time go? People said from the moment you were born that time would fly. I would just smile and nod my head, having no idea how right they were. I have enjoyed you so much this past year. You are such a good baby and never once could you smile with out making me smile back, even to this day. Your grin is contagious and your laugh, heart warming. I would hug my big belly when I was expecting you and wonder what you looked like. I would long to hold your little hand and feel your soft skin against my lips as I kissed your little face. Your Daddy and I wanted you so badly and loved you even before we knew you existed.

I will never forget the moment I found out about you.  The test read positive and I felt my heart grow bigger. From that second on, I would always love you. Whether you would grow to become our child, or if the Lord decided to take you Home before we met,  I knew I would always love you. It was a really magical moment knowing that the only people that knew of your existence were me and God. I will always cherish that moment. The reality quickly set in as I looked at the positive reading on the test again. My heart raced and tears came to my eyes. I was going to be a “Mommy”. That day, you filled a deep desire of my heart…to be a Mommy.

Healthy, hungry and GORGEOUS is how you arrived 9 months later. On September 29, 2009, I was finally able to hold your little hands, feel your soft skin as I kissed your sweet face and at last, I was able to see what you looked like…YOUR DADDY!!!

Yep, just like him! Not even a little like me.. ALL him… (sigh) All that work for you to look like him. Oh well… At least I think he’s good looking! 🙂

I actually think it’s really sweet that you look like him now. When he holds you in his arms and you both have your eyebrows frowned as you two watch T.V., it is adorable. Many of your facial expressions are his and many of your stubbornness is his, too!   But I wouldn’t want it any other way. God perfected everything about you, down to the details of your nails and hair. What an awesome God we serve.

You are now a year old and we love you more than we ever thought we would. You are a true blessing to our families and we pray that you follow the marvelous and perfect plans that God has for your life. I cherish every MOMent of our days together and am so proud to be your Mommy. We love you!!!

So much to say..So little time

I am back!! I have really missed blogging. At night, I found myself thinking about all the things I needed to blog about, which always leads to insomnia! I would have to tell myself, “Got to sleep, Ashly!”  Well, today is a new day and I am following through with my blogging. Mainly so I can sleep at night!
Since my last blog, much has taken place and changed. The gorgeous season of Fall has set in and Summer seems to be just a memory.  Before I post some of our recent pictures, I thought I would share that Jason and I had a fantastic Summer and really enjoyed sharing Landrey’s  first Summer with her. Although we did manage to make it to Myrtle Beach, we were unable to capture it with photos due to absolute downpours of rain for days and days! Maybe next year…   We did, however take advantage of Jason’s parents generosity in allowing us to spend a week at their lake house at Lake Gaston. What a great week. Beautiful weather, nothing on the agenda and our most difficult decision was which restaurant to eat at that night. Don’t you just love vacations? Landrey and I hung out at the boat deck and swam in her little kiddie pool every day.  Nap time was wonderful. Let’s just say Landrey and I felt well rested when we got back  home. Love taking naps with my baby!  Jason enjoyed himself by relaxing by the TV or casting a fishing line out every once in a while. The highlight of our evening was when  Jason took us for our “evening boat ride”     around the lake every afternoon. I I have to admit that would look forward to that  all day.  Zooming around open water, sneaking into little coves to scout for fishing holes, wind blowing in your hair…Love it! Landrey loved it, too!     Well, that is only if she could drive.

We even took in the local sites and restaurants. Nothing like a good Flea Market in the morning and then a  hometown Italian restaurant for dinner!!

Before I knew it, the Convention was here. Each fall,  a convention is sponsored for teachers, principals, pastors, and board members primarily for NCCSA schools.  Workshops and general  sessions are designed to benefit every area of the Christian school ministry.     Vendors display the latest programs and services which are available to teachers and schools.

Every other year, the NCCSA joins  Georgia Association of Christian Schools and S.C. Association of Christian Schools to host the Southeast Christian School Convention at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Nearly 2,500 Christian Educators and over 150 exhibitors attend this very popular event.

It is an incredible event, if you have never been. Tons of people are there, from teachers to administrators to pastors to vendors selling the latest educational tools. Quite amazing. (In fact, I had  to take the last two paragraphs from Jason’s website. It is the best way I know how to describe what the Convention is for those who do not know. )

Last year at that time, I was due any minute with Landrey, so unfortunately, Jason was unable to attend. Shortly after it’s ending, Landrey Elizabeth Haas was born.  The funny thing is that when Jason and I begin thinking about having a child, we decided that any time of the year would be fine to have one, just not during the convention. That was very important. It’s Jason’s busiest time of the year! Well, God has a very funny sense of humor. Needless to say, little Landrey’s birthday will most likely fall during the convention week every year now. Looking at the bright side of it, we’ll always be somewhere fun. (Myrtle Beach, for example, this year. ) She’ll never have school on her birthday. We can always go out for dinner for her birthday. And she’ll think she’s the attention getter because she’ll be the “Birthday Girl” every year. She’ll end up loving it!

During Jason’s busy time, Mrs. Jan and I were able to get away and do some shopping! Why is it so much more fun to shop for kids than yourself? No one told me having a girl would be this much fun! 🙂

And They Lived Happily Ever After…

 

Last Saturday, June 5, 2010, was a very special day for our family- Jennifer got married!! Yay! The wedding was very elegant and the reception very classy. Jennifer chose a black and white themed wedding with accents of apple green and black and white damask fabrics. All of the bridesmaids wore long black satin dresses with trains and were given beautiful pearl bracelets to wear. Gorgeous! Jennifer has an eye for detail and  it showed! Great job Jennifer!! The wedding was outstanding and I can honestly say that I have NEVER seen a more beautiful bride. You were just stunning!


The day began early, but ended with two wonderful people committing themselves to one another for the rest of their lives. All the preparations and planning, decisions and stress seemed to be worth it by the look on Jennifer’s face at the end of the day. From the moment she slipped that incredible gown on to the moment they drove away in a hot rod car, she was smiling.

 

 

We are so happy for you guys and pray that the Lord lays many blessings on you both. We love you guys!!

Welcome to the family, Michael!!! Congratulations To Mr. and Mrs. Michael Paramore!!!

 

Pools and Floats and Fun..OH MY!!!

These past few months have been filled with many firsts for Jason and myself, to say the least. Jason and I have experienced the birth of our first child, our first move into a new home, and first time experiencing planning EVERYTHING around a naptimes, feedings and bedtime… What wonderful first they have been, though.

About two years ago, Jason gave me a great camera for Christmas…or was it for my birthday???  Hmm… Anyway,  I never used it. Seriously! I wasn’t sure how to use the zoom, it had all these fancy effects you could use that I didn’t know how to use (and I didn’t much care to know how either) Let’s just say I was glad to have a camera just in case I needed it and that was about it. Jason was constantly saying, “I wish you used your camera more.” Yeah yeah yeah… What did he want me to take pictures of… us laying on the couch?

After our little Landrey arrived, all that changed. I now know everything that camera does. I have even mastered the video recorder option. Sometimes, I find myself getting carried away taking pictures. Of the trees, the sky, well… you get the picture.  I now realize what a wonderful gift that camera has turned out to be. I know it’s over 6 months away, but my Christmas list has only one thing on it: A fancy, new digital camera!!  (Jason probably just cringed as he is read this.) hehe…

This Summer has just begun and that camera has been busy, busy, busy! Landrey seems to love water. Any kind really. Water in the tub, water in the sink, rain, sprinklers. With the temperature heating up quite fast in North Carolina, I couldn’t wait for her to experience a pool. A couple from our church always graciously offer to let me use their pool while they are out-of-town on Summer weekends. What a blessing, especially on those HOT summer days! I am so thankful for them and their generosity.

This past weekend they allowed us to use their pool while they were away on Memorial Day. This was going to be Landrey’s first time in a “Big Girl” pool and those camera batteries were fully charged!

What a great time the three of us had! The weather was beautiful and Landrey’s  legs never stopped kicking under the water! She splashed and played until Jason and I were exhausted. Noticed I said Jason and I. I think she would have played for hours, but her toes were so shriveled that we thought she needed to get out.

Landrey’s Aunt Julie gave her the most adorable Starfish floaty as a gift last year and it has been a blessing! It gave her a little bit of independence while in the pool but really it gave our arms a much needed break! I don’t think I have seen anything much cuter than her  floating around the pool while kicking her legs, smacking the water with her little hands and giggling all at the same time. 

Well, maybe I’ll add just one more thing to that Christmas list… A pool! 🙂

So Pretty!

On June 5, 2010  my sister-in-law, Jennifer, will be getting married. Everyone is so excited and we all love her fiance, Michael. Planing a wedding, to say the least, is exhausting! It’s the kind of exhaustion that you can only understand if you have planned a wedding yourself. Hang in there, Jen. It will be here and gone before you know it!

Jennifer has asked that Landrey be a Miniature Bride for her wedding. How exciting!! Jennifer’s other three nephews, Evan, Pierson and Ethan, will be dressed in little tuxedos and Landrey in the littlest wedding gown you’ve ever seen! I can hardly wait to see the four of them going down the aisle together.

Landrey’s dress arrived and I was right- it was the littlest wedding gown I had ever seen. Just adorable! I immediately put in on her.  Surprisingly, the length was perfect, but it needed just a few alterations on the straps. I had never seen  anything so adorable!

Off  to the seamstress we went. While we were there, Landrey’s Aunt Julie (aunt JuJu) was there having her bridesmaid dress altered. (By the way, I cannot wait to wear mine. They are beautiful!) Thankfully, Julie thought about taking pictures of Landrey’s first alteration. What kind of mother am I..??..forgetting to take pictures of Landrey’s very first alteration, and for a very special occasion?  I did, however have my camera handy. Funny how I NEVER leave the house without it now.

Mrs. Chong has for years, done alterations for the Haas family. Julie and Jennifer remember her fitting clothes for them when they were young and Jason doesn’t take any of his suits to anyone but Mrs. Chong. She has altered throughout the years, countless clothes for all of us, Julie’s wedding dress, my wedding dress, Jennifer’s wedding dress, and now Landrey’s first alteration in her little dress.  Thanks Mrs. Chong, for making some of our most memorable times in our lives perfect!

(Keep an eye out for a blog proceeding Jennifer’s wedding. I’m sure with 4 small children in the wedding, something is bound to happen! 🙂 )

New York, New York!!

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My fondest memories of my childhood are spending the summers with my grandmother in Connecticut. I use to count down the days until school was out so that I could fly and see her. I did this from age 5 to about ages 13 or 14. (This was back when a flight attendant was my “babysitter” and I could even help fly the plane in the cock-pit with the pilots!!) Boy, lot has changed since then! I use to accumulate little plastic, gold pilots wings after every flight  and by my last flight, my carry-on duffel bag was covered with them!

It really didn’t matter if my grandmother and I went for a walk around the block, or if I went with her to the store, but I loved everything we did together. Being so close to New York City, we use to go into the city and just take pictures. The train use to pull right out of her town and about an hour and a half  later, we were there!!  I have some really great pictures of us in front of the Twin Towers, on top of the Empire State Building, in the Subway.We loved exploring places together. Needless to say, New York has always been special to me.

Many years later, it would be New york City that Jason would ask me to marry him – sealing the love I had for the city.  Living in North Carolina, hopping on a train and spending the day there really isn’t an option, but a few months ago, I learned of a bus that leaves Friday night and comes back early Sunday morning. That would mean I would leave late Friday night, sleep on the bus that night, shop and sight see all day Saturday and then leave late Saturday night in order to be home for church on Sunday morning. Could I do it?? I was going to try.  And so were my three sisters-n-law and two other friends!!

I had never been that far away from Landrey before. And on top of that, Jason had never kept Landrey for more than 45 minutes at a time, tops! But I was certain he would do just fine. And if all else failed, both my mother and his mother were close by…(God is merciful! ) haha…

Friday night, all six girls got onto the bus and we were headed to New York City!!! It had been almost six years since I had been there and I was so excited. I was trying to think about all the fun things to do! And I would be able to keep thinking about all the things to do while I lay awake while everyone else on the bus slept!! It was around 11pm and from my row back (I was approximately half way to the back) everyone was sleeping, including the girls I came with. The rows in front of me were wide awake! Some genius decided to play the movie AVATAR at 11 PM!! Did I mention that I had a speaker right above my head and the volume was turned up to a very LOUD setting. Attempting to get comfortable, the bus stopped. I politely asked the trip director to lower the volume and she said no problem. She was planning on doing that so she could sleep, too. “Good”, I thought, “I can get some sleep.” By 2 AM, the movie was still playing and still very loudly in my ear. How long was this movie, anyway!!??!!! At around 2:30 AM, the movie ended and I got my answer: 3 and 1/2 hours long!

At around 6am, we stopped at a rest stop to use the bathroom, change and attempt to look decent for the day ahead. This was where we had to share an outlet for our straighteners and curling irons and share sink and mirrors for  make-up and brushing our teeth with the rest of the bus and about 3 other buses!! Haha! That was fun.

(Clockwise from left: Melissa, Me, Emily, Julie, Lauren and Jennifer.)

About 45 minutes later, we were pulling into New York City!! The city was already booming with people and cars were everywhere. They’re right, that city never sleeps! First stop, The TODAY show and then shopping in China Town!

By around 11 am, the 6 of us were starving. Shopping makes ya’ hungry! We came across this interesting  italian place called Da Gennaro. Great food. We really enjoyed ourselves and even left room for some real italian pastries at a little pastry place around the corner. Yummy!

While 4 of the girls went to a show, Melissa (my sister-in-law) and I went sight-seeing. Melissa had never been to NYC before, so off we went to see and explore. We saw some amazing sights and took pictures of everything and everyone! We saw The Statue of Liberty, Battery park, Ground Zero, Wall Street, street vendors, a few stores, men with snakes around them, a beautiful garden, and some amazing architecture. Needless to say, we really enjoyed ourselves. Nothing like seeing the city, then to walk every block of it.

With the day coming to a close, we were all anxious to sit down on the bus and get some sleep. Especially me! As the bus pulled up to meet us, I turned around and took one last picture. I actually had one foot on the bus and realized what I was looking at. It happened to be The Empire State Building right in front of us , all lite up and just beautiful. It seemed that it didn’t matter where you looked, there was always something there for your eyes to marvel at. What an amazing city…

I am so blessed to have been able to share New York with nearly everyone I love.  As a child, my grandmother. As a newly engaged woman, with Jason. And now, with my sisters-n-law and friends. What wonderful memories New York City has given to me. I get excited just thinking about taking Landrey there one day. I’m sure we’ll have to forego the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the American Girl store or FAO Swartz, but I am looking forward to making those memories with her.