Thursday, December 30, 2010

My New Years Absolution



absolution
 
 (ˌæbsəˈluːʃən)
— n
1.the act of absolving or the state of being absolved; release from guilt, obligation, or punishment.

Every year at this time I begin thinking about what my New Years Resolutions will be.  And of course I write them down.  Otherwise I might forget them and not actually accomplish them... insert sarcastic laughter here.    And strangely enough, they are always the same.  The list usually includes a lot of unrealistic goals about the way I will eat, how much I will exercise, how early I will get up every morning so I can be super productive, how I will transform my prayer and study life, how I am going to be more organized than ever with household chores and homeschooling, and the list goes on and on...and on.  Just typing about it is slightly exhausting.  Needless to say, this is a BIG. FAT. waste of time.  That's why this year I am resolved to have only one resolution.... to daily celebrate my absolution.  

Don't get me wrong.  I appreciate new beginnings as much as the next gal.  But God is showing me that one of the awesome things about being a Christ follower is that every day is a new beginning.  Every moment even.   December 31st or January 1st, it doesn't matter, for his compassions never fail - they are new every morning!  Praise Him that Lamentations doesn't say his compassions are new every year!

2010 seemed to end on an especially frantic note for me.  I will spare you the boring details, but there were times when I was pretty sure I would drown.  As I struggled to keep my head above water, I became convicted that something had to change.  The constant striving and the never arriving... it just became too much for this simple girl.  And it is not what my Father has asked of me.  In fact, it gets in the way of
the thing he has asked of me - to love.  That's why this guilt driven mama has finally decided to accept this precious gift of absolution.  I know it will not be easy, but in 2011 I plan to operate under the truth that I am released from guilt - let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water ~ Hebrew 10:22.  I am released from obligation - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast - Ephesians 2:8-9.   And finally, I am released from punishment - Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus - Romans 8:1.  And that, my friends, is the good news that I am resolved to carry into 2011.

Do I still hope to make good decisions about how I spend my time, how I treat my body, how I teach and love my kids, how I worship my Father, etc...  next year? Absolutely!  But my fervent hope and prayer is that as my Father begins to wrap my heart in these truths, 2011 will be the year I stop being driven by guilt and obligation.  My prayer is that 2011 will be the year I begin being driven by love, gratitude, and the truth of absolution that comes by walking daily with a risen Savior.  


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas just "flu" by....

Even though 3 of us were hit pretty hard with the flu, we managed to salvage some fun this Christmas!  After all, it was WHITE!  

 Snow Fairy





 World's tiniest snowman.



 Playing Candyland







Hot Chocolate!

Three sassy gals.

 A picture is worth a thousand words.

 Elfie got into all kinds of trouble this year...

 Winner of the "Best Gift of 2010" award - A tiny rubber lizard - To Daddy, From Micah.

Sophia lovin on NaNa!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tis the season....

 .... to be too busy for blogging!  Just wanted to post a quick catch up on what's been happening with the Dixons.

Micah was an Indian in the Thanksgiving performance at the preschool he attends on Tuesday and Thursday morning.





We had a great Thanksgiving weekend in Kingston Springs.
The kids had fun taking their annual ride in the lift that dad so inconspicuously uses to put up his Christmas tree lights...



The boys learned that all who eat the Thanksgiving meal should contribute to the preparation of the Thanksgiving meal :).  


Some took it better than others.


Sophia got to love on her Ma.


Mom and Noah did the whole wishbone thing.  I think they actually ended up with the same length bone.  I didn't think that was possible...



Yahtzee!


Just because she's so stinkin cute!


Micah and Sophia's favorite new activity at Nana and Grandy's...walking to the river.



We had the extra treat of being able to spend some time with the Stites family on Saturday!


 Noah and AK :).


And now we are getting ready for Christmas!  
We had a fun morning putting up the tree with one of our favorite people in the world - Cole!  We had a yummy breakfast and the kids hung the ornaments.


We celebrated with our college students by having a great weekend of service and fun.  On Friday afternoon they split up to go and visit several widows in town and deliver fruit baskets to them.   After meeting up and eating dinner, they wrapped up gifts that they bought to bless a single mom and 3 kids who live in a house that sits right behind our lot in West Circle.  They finished it off by delivering the gifts to her house on Saturday morning and having a pancake breakfast at the Blue House.  We have the BEST college students!


And last, for now, Micah was very excited about Warm and Cozy day at Preschool.  They all wore their PJ's and had hot chocolate with "smarshmallows" AND whip cream!


Noah finished up a great soccer season and is now playing basketball.  He won his first game Saturday!

Duane closed out another great semester with our awesome college students and is now busy with things like planning Gulf Coast Getaway and planning for our home to be built.

Micah is doing his best to keep up with Noah, which often results in conflict.  He actually kicked a hole in a closet door with his bare foot yesterday.  But, in spite of some anger management issues, he is growing up to be an amazing little boy.  He loves to work!  Give him a job and he is happy.

Sophia is learning to hold her own with her big brothers.  She is so sweet and yet so strong.  I guess that's what it will take to survive around here.

I have been extremely busy with my Etsy business and my new adventure of photography.  It's been a great source of income to fund our adoption, so I am VERY thankful, but I will be glad to come up for air after Christmas!  

We FINALLY own land in West Circle! After a city council meeting tomorrow night it should be subdivided and ready to go!  We are so ready!

And finally, we are anxiously awaiting our referral which could come any day.  I find myself thinking and wondering about Selah more and more these days.  But for now we will just keep praying that she stays healthy and loved until we can get to her! Please join us in that prayer!




Monday, November 15, 2010

A Sample Recipe from the Cookbook

Our cookbook fundraiser has gone so well!!  Many people are purchasing books as Christmas gifts and it is getting rave reviews from those already using it :).  People have said that they love how the recipes are easy to follow and not too complicated.  Today, and in the days to follow, I plan to post some sample recipes from the cookbook.  Email me at jennydixon921@gmail.com if you want one!  This is one of my favorites from the "main dish" section of the book.  Our family has already had it many times.  Thanks to Jessie Daniels for adding this to the book!

Slow Cooker Mexican Style Chicken

(This chicken is best used as a filler for tacos, enchiladas, spicy chicken soup, or chimichangas… you get the idea)
This will make a good amount of chicken; serving size depends on what you want to do with it. 
For tacos, this recipe will probably serve 4-6 people.

3 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can of Rotel tomatoes
1 package of taco seasoning (add more to taste if needed)
½ c chopped onion
½ can of enchilada sauce (red or green)


Throw all ingredients in a crock pot sprayed with non-stick spray and cook all day on low. 
(If you want to throw it in at lunch, cook on high till supper).

Shred chicken in crock pot with two forks (should be really easy to shred). Let cook in juices till ready to use (at least 20 minutes to soak up the flavor). If there is too much liquid in the pot, cook on high without the lid for about 20 minutes to thicken up.  
Can be cooked a day or two in advance if necessary.

Steak option: Instead of chicken breasts use 1-2 pounds of stew meat. Follow same directions.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Wrath

Imagine this scene:  A red faced, 5 year old little boy hysterically running around a tiny apartment screaming angrily "I want to go to the Retirement Center!  I want to go to the Retirement Center!" as he throws himself onto any and every piece of furniture he can find.

 I know this won't surprise you, but it happened here today.  Let me explain.  I woke up late and slightly cranky this morning.  I would like to say that is a rare occurrence, but....well, I just can't.  Mid-morning, still cranky, I told Micah and Sophia that it was time to go sit and read books with mommy (as we often do).  Well, Micah wasn't down with this idea.  So, he decided to protest (as he often does) by throwing a fit (as he often does).  As you may know, crankiness and patience do not go hand in hand, therefore I had zero tolerance for his little display.  So, I jerked him up hastily, spouted off some cranky reprimand and took him to his bed where he was to sit until story time was over.  I  then made my way to my bed - the only place to read to kids in an 1100 square foot apartment when Noah is working in the living/dining/office/school room :).   Sophia and I cozied up and got ready to read the first book.  It's a book of bible memory verses that a sweet friend passed on to me a few years ago.  I opened it up to the first page and I was punched in the proverbial gut with this: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1.  Hmmm.  Wrath.  That's a good word for what Micah dishes out when things don't go his way.  I've been on the receiving end of Micah Wrath quite a few times.  And thats just today.  And harsh words....well, I know a little bit about those.  My kids are on the receiving end of mine more than I even care to think about.  I know this is an area of struggle for me - the harsh words - so as I'm reeling from the gut punch I once again resolve to control my mouth and my tone and quietly ask my Father to help me, as I am obviously incapable on my own.

I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon being very conscious of the way I spoke to and responded to the kids, especially Micah.  In spite of my efforts, it continued to be like mortal combat around here.

Every 1st Monday of the month at two o'clock we join with a couple of other families and visit Regency Retirement Center on the other end of town.  The kids make cards and crafts and sing songs for the residents.  At about 1:15, having just gained what I thought was another victory in another round of combat with Micah, I told him that if he wanted to go to the retirement center he would have to put on the clothes that I gave him without complaining or throwing a fit.  Clothes are one of our biggest battles.  If he has to wear anything other than "sports shorts" or stained t-shirts he loses complete control of himself.  Anyway... needless to say, when I handed him a pair of jeans and a Batman t-shirt sans stains (a very reasonable ensemble in my mind), he flipped his lid.  So, I told him he wasn't going in when we went to the Retirement Center.  That we would still take Noah and let him go in with our friends, but that I wasn't going to take him in.  Which leads us back to the scene....and the dilemma.  It's not exactly in my parenting plan to squelch the desires of young children who desire to visit with the elderly and brighten their day.  But, I'm also pretty big on "I mean what I say".  So, I sat in the car outside of the retirement center with Micah for an hour while Noah went in and visited with our friends.  For the first few minutes I sat there in unbelievable frustration.  I just couldn't believe that despite my best efforts at not "stirring up anger" with my harsh words I was sitting in the car with a child who was so explosive I was afraid of being totally humiliated if I dared take him inside.  (And let me just say, it has happened before.  Micah once had a total come apart in one ladies' room over a Hershey's Kiss.)  But the longer I sat there, the more I could hear what felt like a little chuckle from God.  He slowly began reminding me that I can't make them be who I want them to be.  All I can do is be who I want them to be.  Unfortunately for inconsistent me, I'm going to have to be that person more consistently.  I do believe that if I continue to use "gentle answers" I will see a difference in Micah's wrath-o-meter.  I just can't expect a few hours of no harsh words to transform my 5 year old into an angel :).  God certainly doesn't get that kind of response from me, and yet he is patient and loves me with a perfect love.

So, there you have it.  A fly on the wall view of a snippet of our Monday.  Monday, Monday....  Thankfully, days are made of moments and we had a few redeeming ones today too.  Guess I better go gear up for Tuesday!

Halloween!






Friday, October 22, 2010

Ornaments for Olivia

My incredibly creative friend, Anna, is selling adorable Christmas ornaments to raise funds for their adoption of a little girl from Ethiopia.  They are only 6 dollars and all of the proceeds will help them bring Olivia home to be Selah's best friend :)! 
 Go to her blog, www.annadreyfus.blogspot.com , to see all of the designs and read more about them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Holding Baby Kaylee

This past Sunday at church I had the honor of holding sweet baby Kaylee, one of the Thrasher twins, through the entire service.  Don't tell Shon, but I had a hard time focusing on the sermon.  I don't really know exactly how to describe it, but every time I hold one of those sweet girls I am overcome with a powerful emotion.  The first time I held Grace, I just cried.  I couldn't help it.  And it was more than just the sweetness of a newborn baby.  It was definitely more than that.  And sitting there yesterday holding Kaylee, all I could think about was how I was holding my story in my arms. Kaylee and Grace are adopted.  The story of their adoption is beautiful and full of God's grace.  They were rescued from their circumstances and now they are a part of a family that gives them love never ending.  That's my story.  Ephesians 1:5 says that God decided in advance to adopt me into his own family by bringing me to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. He rescued me from my circumstances.  Because He wanted to.  And it gave him great pleasure!  He has rescued me from me.  He adopted me.  I was an orphan.  Now I'm a part of a family and the daughter of a Father that gives me love never ending.  The 2 things that overwhelm me most when I hold Kaylee and Grace are this: They are so blessed and they are such a blessing.  Yes they are blessed that they've been given this life with 2 great parents who love them SO much.  But I believe even more the truth that they are a blessing to everyone who will know their story of God's grace and His hand in their lives.  And that makes me wonder if I tend to stop at just being blessed sometimes.  Or do I let the truth that I've been rescued be such a part of my story that when others come in contact with me they are faced with a powerful emotion? I wish I could answer that question with more confidence.

I can't wait for Selah to come home for so many reasons.  One of those reasons is that I know her daily presence in our family will be an ever present reminder of our own adoption story by the ultimate Father.   Please pray that our baby girl is being loved on and that we can travel to see her soon!

Monday, October 18, 2010

more than one way to set a beautiful table


This time of year there seems to be a lot of emphasis placed on the ability to set a beautiful table.  No doubt the Thanksgiving and Christmas editions of Southern Living and Martha Stewart Living will be full of helpful ideas on how to decorate and set the perfect table for the holidays.  From centerpieces to place markers, the ideas will be abundant and the photos will be lovely, yet likely unachievable for the likes of me :).  People will spend countless hours and dollars trying to set the perfect atmosphere to enjoy the holidays around the table with the people they love the very most.  Now, if I'm being totally honest (and I always try to be), I have to say that I do think it's possible to go overboard with this as far as time and money are concerned.  But, I am not at all suggesting that setting a physically beautiful table is a bad thing, especially when the motivation is the love of your family and the desire to create a beautiful space to enjoy being with each other.  I would, however, like to suggest that there is more than one way to set a beautiful table....


You see, yesterday at lunch I had the privilege of sitting at a beautiful table that I believe was set by God.  At the far end of the table the place card read "Carl". Carl is a middle aged, african american man confined to a wheelchair.  Carl came with his physical therapist and our good friend, David.  David picked Carl up for church and then brought him to lunch.  That's not part of David's job as a PT, just what he does because he follows Christ.  Scattered among the place cards of the 15 children at the table were two that read "Mya" and "Chasity".  Mya and Chasity are two beautiful and precious african american girls that we take turns picking up and that spend a lot of time with our families.  They are 13 and 15 year old sisters.  Across from me sat the Glissons, a family that recently moved to town after returning from years of mission work in Uganda.  They have lots of place cards! To the mix, they bring their 4 biological children and the 2 little miracles they adopted while in Uganda, Brooks and Ansley.  


Ok, there really were no place cards.  There were no elaborate centerpieces.  This table was long and loud and scattered with dirty napkins and Jason's Deli advertisements.  There were half eaten plates of food, melted ice cream cones and empty cracker wrappers.  In order to see the beauty of this table you had to look up...at the faces.  The faces that were black and white, old and young, rich and poor, biological and adopted, born in America and born in Africa.  As I looked up and around, I just couldn't help but feel that I was sitting at a truly beautiful table.  A table set by God with Christ as the beautiful centerpiece.  And I was filled with gratitude that one of the place cards read "Jenny".  

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Duane and Sophia!

Our sweet Sophia turned 3 years old on Saturday.  There are no words adequate enough to express the joy she has brought to our family over the last 3 precious years.  At age 3 she loves to sing, dance like a ballerina, dress up like a princess (which I am slowly coming to terms with), and color in her girly coloring books.  She knows her letters and numbers and is pretty much a genius :).  She is one special little girl and I am humbled daily that God entrusted her to us.  



Little girls with big brothers get to celebrate birthdays at the soccer field :).  We did manage to take her out for lunch at The Summit and a birthday cookie in between games.













Sophia and I strolled around the mall while the boys watched a movie to pass the time until the next game in our tournament.  She picked out this fabulous hat and wouldn't leave the store without it.  I could barely pry it out of her hands to pay for it.  And really, would you have been able to say no after one look at her wearing it?! 

Noah's team came in 2nd place in the tournament and he scored a goal in one of the games.  We ended our month long birthday celebration with one last cake on Sunday night.  I just couldn't let her birthday pass by without seeing 3 candles being blown out by the sweetest girl in the world! (and as you can see, I haven't exactly found the time to take that cake decorating class just yet)



Just a couple of days before Sophia's birthday we helped Duane usher in his 38th year!  We celebrated with dinner at home (eating dinner at home could stand alone as a reason to celebrate these days) and a cinnamon roll cake.  Daddy is pretty much a celebrity around here and we are all thankful that he is ours!

I told Noah to go stand behind daddy.  Always the funny guy.



Whew, 5 birthdays in 1 month! We are thankful for so much LIFE to celebrate!  Please keep our sweet Selah in your prayers.  It is likely that she has been born and is in Ethiopia waiting for a mommy and daddy.  Our prayer is that she will be cared for and loved on until we can bring her home to her forever family.  Please join us in that prayer.  We hope to have her photo and be making plans for travel near the end of the year.  We can't wait to meet her!