Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Cole Family 2009

Well, this is a first. I'm not sending out Christmas cards via the mail this year. I'm sending them out via this blog. Last year was a first, as well because I didn't send out Christmas cards at ALL! I've ALWAYS sent out Christmas cards, so it felt kind-of weird not doing it last year. Last year time just got away from me in all the stresses of life. But this year, I'm thinking that with Facebook and blogs these days, sending out the annual Christmas letter seems to be rather obsolete anymore. With that being said, I'm finding myself still wanting to share the highlights of the past year (or 2 years) and there are still a few of you who I'm not "Facebook friends" with or who might not even have email (horrors! :-) ), so I guess I'll still be sending out a few Christmas cards the old fashioned way via "snail mail" so that you'll still know that we're alive! :-) Anyway, here is a quick synopsis of the past 2 years of our lives.....

2008 highlights:

Rachel graduated from 8th grade and took part in the homeschool 8th grade graduation that our state homeschool organization does every year. It was a wonderful ceremony and needless to say, we are quite proud of Rachel for reaching that milestone.


2008 also was the year when Bob lost his one and only client with his computer consulting business. We had known it was coming for a while, but it still was extremely difficult when it finally happened. More on what's been going on for us since then a little later in this update.

Hannah skated in her first regionals competition as a juvenile level skater! This took place in Anaheim, CA and it was quite exciting for her to finally be at this level of competition. She also found out, however, how much more competitive it is at this level, and even though she didn't come in last, she also didn't come in the top, either. So it was both exciting and somewhat disappointing for her. However, she still skated beautifully, and Bob and I couldn't have been more proud of her!


2009 highlights:

Sarah graduates from highschool. Our 1st homeschool graduate! Our state homeschool organization also puts on a senior high school graduation ceremony, and Sarah was able to take part in this. It was a truly a shining moment in her and our lives! The ceremony was very moving, and we watched with great pride as Sarah marched in, wearing cap and gown, and then received her diploma later on in the ceremony.


2009 was a big year for Sarah, as she also turned 18 years old! At the same time that she turned 18, she also left on a 6-week tour with the Continental Singers! Yes, our daughter was gone on her 18th birthday! I was just a little sad on that day, to say the least! Sarah had a wonderful time touring with the Continental Singers, however, and helping spread the gospel of Christ. This was considered a mission trip, and many of you helped her go by sending in monetary support, and for this we greatly thank you! Sarah came back from this tour a changed person, in many aspects. She now has a "Continental Family" that she loves keeping in touch with, and she even met a special "friend" named Matt, with whom we are waiting to see what God works out in both of their lives. :-)




2009 wasn't all about Sarah, however. :-) Hannah skated in her 2nd regionals competition, still didn't do as well as she'd hoped, but she's learning a lot about the realities of life! She also had an important birthday when she turned 13! Yes, we now have 3 teenagers in our house now! Yikes! In all truthfulness, though, we are loving this stage of being parents of teens just as much as we've loved each and every stage of being parents to our 3 beautiful girls. :-)



Lest you think that Rachel hasn't been doing anything during this year of 2009, that simply isn't true! She has been quite involved in community theater and also has been helping (and getting paid to do so!) with the drama camps that our Performing Arts Center has been holding for younger kids. Some of the plays that Rachel has been in this year have been "Beauty & the Beast", "Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory." She also was able to take part in a drama camp put on by an organization called Christian Youth Theater and they performed excerpts from Godspell for us at the end of camp. Rachel had a great time doing this and especially enjoyed making some new friends. She is hoping to be able to take part in some full productions with this group in addition to staying involved in our local community theater.




Oh, I guess I should add that Sarah was also in "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory", and she was in "Beauty & the Beast", as well. And Hannah made her acting debut in "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory", which means our whole family was involved in this one since I was doing stage makeup and Bob was the producer! :-)





So that pretty much gives the highlights of our past 2 years. We have much to be thankful for, and yet, it's also been a very hard and trying 2 years, as well! As previously mentioned, Bob lost his one and only client in June of 2008. Leading up to that time, we knew that his client was changing software, and for a while we were hoping they'd keep Bob on and he'd just learn their new software and continue being their support person. However, that didn't happen, so in July we received our last check from his client, and ever since then, Bob has not had steady work. We've used what little equity we had in our house (and it has since gone upside down in this economy), went through all of our savings including retirement savings, and are now surviving, by the grace of God, with basically nothing now. I am selling as much as I can on eBay, Craig's List and I also have an online store (http://azmomstore.ecrater.com/), and Bob has started working for a company that does financial services, however, there is no pay for that, yet, as he has to build up his own team and clientele. And that will take some time. So he's also been searching quite diligently for a job. I've also been searching for a job and Sarah is trying to find a job where she can work more hours (she currently works for Chick-fil-a and is lucky to get 10 hours a week of actual working time). We are truly learning what it means to live one day at a time and to leave the rest to God. We are not able to pay our mortgage right now, so we may also have to short-sell our house and move into something smaller. Hannah has had to take a break from her ice skating lessons, Sarah has already been taking a break from her horse back riding lessons. Thankfully community theater doesn't cost much, so we are thankful we can all still be involved there. We crave your prayers as we go through this time of trial, but also please know, that as hard as this has been and still continues to be, we know without a doubt, that God is in control and that He has great things in store for us. There are days when we feel beaten down, fearful and scared, but then God always reminds us in some tangible way that He is here with us and to just keep trusting Him. And at this time of year, it is a time to rejoice, no matter what our circumstances, because we are celebrating the birth of the One who is our life saver. The One who came and died for us so that we might spend all eternity with Him. Now THAT is something to look forward to! :-)

If you aren't already Facebook friends with us, what are you waiting for? Facebook is such a great way to keep in touch! You can find my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pam.cole. Of course, you can also email us. Email addresses are as follows:
Bob - bcoleinQC@msn.com
Pam - im3grlsmom@aol.com
Sarah - AZhorselovrSarah@aol.com
Rachel - ImaAZDramaQueen@aol.com
Hannah - AZIceSkatingGirl@aol.com

We hope you all have a wonderful and Merry God-filled Christmas!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November Already?!!



Ok, so I'm still not very good at keeping up on this blogging thing, but I'm getting better! This time it's only been about 6 weeks since I last posted! :-)

Since my last post a few things have been going on. First, Hannah, my "baby girl" turned 13 years old! Wow! HOW did that happen so fast?!!! I still remember the day she was born SO clearly! It couldn't possibly have been over 13 years ago now, could it?! I know I don't look any older! LOL. Anyway, she had a very fun sleep over party and is very happy to be the newest teen in our household! And btw, we now have THREE teens living under our roof! Yikes! LOL. Seriously, though, I couldn't be happier with the relationship I have with my 3 teenage girls. They all still talk to me and listen to my advice and they enjoy being with our family. I couldn't ask for much more then that!

The other pretty major thing going on in our life is our financial/job situation. My faith and trust are in God with all this, but it's really hard right now to not fall into complete fear! We are in our 1st month where we don't have any money to fall back on. Our savings, including our retirement savings, are all gone. We've gotten some money from our church, but it doesn't cover both our mortgage and the bills that are due this month. So our "storm" increases in intensity and I feel like I am holding on for dear life! I have NEVER been a "morning person", but God has been waking me up at 5:00 and 5:30 (today at 4:15!) and I have been using that time to fall on my knees and come into His presence and pour out my fears to Him. I don't know what He has in store for us, but it seems like maybe He wants to strip us down to nothing because the time has now come for us to seriously consider putting our house up for sale. I can hardly bear the thought of having to go through all the prep and then the "model home" lifestyle we have to live while the house is on the market. I also really don't want to move again. But I am learning to just give it all up to God, my Savior and Creator. It's all His anyway, so if He wants it back, so be it. In the meantime, Bob is looking for work, I am looking for work, Sarah is looking for more work and we just do our best to trust in His faithfulness. We covet your prayers at this time and ask that you keep us lifted up and covered in that area. Thanks so much!

Another event that has occurred since my last post is that Hannah competed in her 2nd figure skating regionals competition. It was a bittersweet time for her and us, because now that regionals are done, she is having to take a break from regular skating practice and lessons due to our severe financial instability. She lives and breathes figure skating so this isn't easy for her, but we are all trusting God that He will provide a way for her to stay on the ice at least part time. And in fact, it looks like she may be able to help teach the younger kids skate classes at one of the nearby rinks in exchange for skate time. So already God seems to be providing a way for her to continue skating. Still no lessons for a while, though. But we're trusting God that He will provide that for her when the time is right, as well.

There is one other exciting thing that I am looking forward to. I think I've already said that I sent in an application to tour with the Continentals Encore group next summer in Alaska! Well, this past Friday, when the Continentals tour came through town, I auditioned while they were here and was accepted on the spot! But I now have to raise support in order to go, so if you would be willing to donate for this wonderful mission trip I am accepted to go on, I would SO appreciate it! I will be setting up a website soon where you can donate and when I do, I'll be sure and post it. Sarah and Hannah are also still working on fund raising for their tours, as well. Here are their donation websites:
www.firstgiving.com/sarahcole2010
www.firstgiving.com/hannahcole
These donations are tax deductible, too. :-) Also, there is a Continentals tour that is right now ministering in Thailand. They just arrived there today and will be there until November 21st. Please keep them lifted up in prayer for their protection and safety, and also that lives will be changed as a result of their tour there. They toured through parts of the United States before they left for Thailand and we were fortunate enough to have them come through Phoenix so we were able to hear their concert, and it was SO uplifting and just totally blessed us! Some of the same kids that Sarah toured with last summer are on this tour, so she especially feels a connection to this tour. Especially since her "special" friend, Matt, is one of the ones on this tour! If you go to my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pam.cole you can see pictures of this current group that is now in Thailand. I will also post a few pictures here, as well.

Well, that is the latest for us for now. So until next time, I pray God's blessings on you all! :-)


The Continentals Group who are touring Thailand
















Matt and Sarah

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Catching Up!


Well, I haven't been very good at keeping up this blog this year. But I am going to try and do better from now. So here is my attempt to catch up from my last post which was in January right after my 2nd daughter's 15th birthday! Let's see.... since then my oldest daughter applied for and got accepted into the Continental Singers for their summer tour. After a hectic 2 months of fund raising for her, she left the DAY before her 18th birthday for a 6-week tour of the United States! In the midst of the fund raising, she also graduated from our homeschool high school, taking part in the homeschool graduation with about 130 other homeschoolers, including Scott MacIntyre's sister (an American Idol finalist from last season in case you don't watch it). So as I was saying, she left the day before her 18th birthday and had a wonderful time touring the United States and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through singing. She had SO much fun, in fact, that she's going to do it again next summer, and my youngest is going to be touring with the Young Continentals. Oh great, MORE fund raising! :-) So, with that being said, if you would consider donating toward their mission trips for next summer, we would SO greatly appreciate it! ANY amount is very much appreciated whether it's $5.00 or $500. And speaking of $500, both Sarah and Hannah need to raise an initial $500 each very quickly. This secures their spot on the tours for next summer. And if they can raise this amount by September 30th, the Continentals will add an additional $200 to Sarah's fund and $100 to Hannah's fund. So your donation will go farther if you donate right now. I will include info on how you can donate at the end of this blog entry.

This year has also been "interesting" since my husband has not had steady work since June, 2008! Talk about a faith growing year! God has been faithful, though, and we are still in our house, not behind on any payments and Bob is now working on a new business through a company called Primerica. We are praying that this business will soon be bringing in the income that we so badly need. There is also a possibility that he and a colleague in CA will be able to sell their software to a company in CA which will also bring in some money for us. Prayers are appreciated as we continue to trust in God and pray for a much needed income. While Bob has been looking for work, I have stepped up my selling on eBay (except for this summer when sales are pretty slow) and also opened up a couple of internet stores. I sell a conglomeration of items on eBay and also in one of my internet stores, and then my other internet store is figure skating related. Right now I am selling some of Hannah's old competition and practice outfits that I have made, and I hope to be making some new outfits soon to also add to my store. I will include those links at the end of this post. Right now I don't have anything listed on eBay, but that will changing very soon as we start to get into the Christmas shopping season!

So, that's my life in a "nutshell" since January. Hopefully now I will be able to discipline myself to keep this blog more updated. More coming VERY soon! :-)


Info for donations for Sarah and Hannah's Continentals mission trips (all donations are tax deductible):

To donate by credit card:
http://firstgiving.com/sarahcole2010
http://firstgiving.com/hannahcole

To donate via Paypal:
http://sarahcole.chipin.com/sarah-and-hannahs-continentals-mission-trip

To send in a donation, make checks payable to Continental Singers & specify it's for Sarah and/or Hannah Cole and mail to:
Continental Ministries
P.O. Box 6972
Ventura, CA 93006-6972

My eBay website: http://shop.ebay.com/merchant/azmomof3grls
My general internet store:
http://azmomstore.ecrater.com
My figure skating internet store: http://iceskatingfashionsbypam.ecrater.com/ or http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6870779


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rachel - My New 15 Year Old :-)


I should have written this on Rachel's birthday, which was January 8th. Well, it's only the 11th, so I'm only a few days late! :-)


I so well remember the day my sweet Rachel, who is my 2nd daughter, was born. It was a Saturday and I woke up early in the morning (around 3:30am) with a certainty that she was on her way into the world. Actually, I didn't know she was a "she" yet, in fact, I was pretty certain that she was going to be a boy because of how active she'd been throughout my pregnancy. She was flipping around and turning somersaults up until about 2 weeks before she was born! So when she made her grand appearance at 7:01am on January 8th, 1994, I was amazed when they said I had another daughter! Amazed and very happy! She was healthy and beautiful and I was instantly in love with her as they put her on my chest. How can that possibly be 15 years ago?!!


Rachel is such a blessing to our family with her sunny disposition... well most of the time it's sunny with the exceptions being when the hormones kick in every so often! LOL. But she has always been the ray of sunshine in our family and adds an exuberance to our life that keeps me smiling.


This year she is singing with the Jr. High and Highschool band and worship team at church and of course is always involved at our community theater's latest production whenever it's the season for that.


I am truly grateful for the blessing of this daughter, and I am thankful that she loves God and desires to follow and serve Him! Happy Birthday, my sweet Rachel. May God be with you and bless you as you start another year of life!