“Family Trip” 2014 ~ Destin Florida

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I wouldn’t consider this trip a vacation, with a toddler who was waaaaaaay of sleep schedule and overstimulated and a 4-month old. Instead, it’s a “family trip.”  Memories were made and we were blessed to be together. That’s what’s important (and not the fact that I got LESS sleep and didn’t get to relax as much as I wanted to)!   Enjoy! IMG_0092IMG_0063 IMG_0066   IMG_0080IMG_0082 IMG_0073IMG_0089IMG_0058  IMG_0093 IMG_0105 IMG_0108 IMG_0119 IMG_0161 IMG_0166 IMG_0239 IMG_0289 IMG_0299 IMG_0325 IMG_0328 IMG_0336 IMG_0349 IMG_0362 IMG_0374 IMG_0376 IMG_0377 IMG_0385 IMG_0387 IMG_0401 IMG_0085 IMG_0327 IMG_0363 IMG_0370

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Emanuel ~ “God with Us”

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{Since Brett and I have been married, it has been tradition to send a Christmas picture card with a letter updating our family and friends on the blessing and trials that occurred that year. However, this year we decided to use our blog to inform our loved ones due to the fact that we will be sending out birth announcements in May!}

Immanuel : Emmanuel : Emanuel ~ “God with us”

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” ~ Isaiah 7:14

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” ~ Matthew 1:23

Another year has come and gone. We have become a year older; Kherington has grown physically, mentally, emotionally; we’ve said goodbye to our beautiful dog, Faith; an addition to the Varvel family is on its way; we’ve finished a feature film; ran a half-marathon; faced financial uncertainty; laughed; loved; fought; cried; prayed.  And through it all, one thing has and always will remain: “God with us!”

While the production of The War Within occurred throughout 2012, post-production has been the focus of 2013. Brett has spent thousands of hours editing, applying visual effects (which include rotoscoping, 3D animation, visual effects composition, 3D title work, and special effects), and working with the talented artists at Aire Born Studios for the music, sound effects, and dialogue of The War Within. Brett and his brother, Drew, did what hundreds of people do to complete a film.  On June 8th, we premiered the film to all cast, crew, and donors at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Tobias Theater.

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Then on June 26th, we presented the movie to the rest of our church body, encouraging them to invite family and friends. About 800 people attended. After premiering the film twice, The War Within has proven to have a deep impact on those who have seen it. God is at work with this film! We know of at least 5 people who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior, and so many Christians whose lives have been changed by viewing this film. Praise God!

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Since then, Brett has been fine-tuning the film to its final release state.  He has had the privilege of working with elite musicians to record the film’s score. He also had the exciting opportunity to work with Visual Effects Artists in North Carolina and GREECE! We are close to signing with domestic and foreign distribution companies to release the film on DVD. We are praying that churches across the country will have exhibitions of the film to help spread the message in the movie “God is all you need.” Please pray with us that the Lord will lead us to the right production company to distribute the film with the same mission as House of Grace Films: to further spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nationally and internationally. Watch the trailer here.

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After the June 8th premiere, Brett and I escaped to a romantic cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for a few days. (The location was a complete surprise to me until we pulled up to the cabin!) It had been a rough few months leading up to the premiere as Brett had been locked in his office working long hours while I played the role of “single mom” at home. Needless to say, we immensely enjoyed the peace away from the stress and demands at home.

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In July, we loaded up the van and headed to Outer Banks, SC for the Osenni Family Reunion. Grandma and Grandpa Osenni celebrated their 80th birthdays and 60th wedding anniversary. All 23 adults and 7 children stayed in a massive beach house. It has been several years since the entire family was together! What a blessing to celebrate my grandparents’ lives and marriage because of their unconditional love to another. Not only does our family share an earthly heritage but also a spiritual one because of my grandparents’ faith and perseverance in Jesus Christ.

MasterFamilyCompI have continued to enjoy the title of SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), while working very part time as the Nutritionist/Wellness Advisor for Peru Community Schools in Peru, Indiana. I had the privilege this semester to teach over 700 3rd-6th grade students the importance of eating healthy.  I have learned that I cannot be Super Woman and juggle all my responsibilities, so after 5 years of working at Health and Nutrition Technology I decided to step down from my Health Educator position, although sub as needed.  A goal I have always had is to run a half-marathon. The timing of my life seemed right, so after many miles and hours of training (and developing an Osgood-Schlatter on my knee), I finished the Geist Half-Marathon in May.  It truly was a great feeling, even hobbling across the finish line in pain and rain!

geistKherington has grown significantly this past year, not only physically but mentally. By the time she turned 2 years old in October, she is able to recite and recognize on paper her ABC’s and sound each letter out.  We might have a reader on our hands like her Mommy. Her vocabulary has exploded and some of her favorite phrases are: “O my goodness.”; “What IS that?; “Oh, come on!”; “Mommy, let’s go!”; “Awesome!”  She makes funny faces like her Daddy, and her laugh brings so much joy to our home. We love her more and more each day. We are cherishing every moment with her before our lives soon change…

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In May, Lord willing, we will be bringing our second child into the world. We found out the week before Christmas that we are having a boy.  Deep down we had hoped for a boy, but either gender would have been a blessing. All I ask is that he better look like his Mommy!!! 🙂

GenderReveal5x7And his name shall be called, Damon Emanuel Varvel. Emanuel: God with us. Emanuel is my Dad’s and Grandpa Osenni’s middle name. Emanuel with one “m” is the Italian spelling. Either way, Emanuel: God with us.

As I close this Christmas Letter (Blog), may I ask, is God with you?  Our prayer is that if you have not chosen to accept Emanuel, Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior, that this 2014 year will be when God is with you now and for all eternity.

All our love,

Brett, Christina, Kherington Mae, and Damon Emanuel (in the womb)

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To read what the Lord has done with my friend, Megan, and her beautiful family this past year, check out her blog, Meg’s Five.

From Where I Stand {Christmas Traditions}

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I put up the Christmas decorations today. I always wait to decorate the house and listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. My mom always waited, so like most things I do, I follow in my mom’s footsteps.  I do believe over the years, the holidays arrive earlier and earlier. I now see Christmas lights out right after Halloween. And don’t get me started on the earlier Black Friday start times….

Here is Kherington pointing to her letter K ornament. I was surprised that right after she noticed the K, she looked around and said, “Where’s H?”  That was the first time that she put those two letters together without my help, the start of her name!  I’m a proud momma right now!

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I decorated the tree during her nap. When she came out, she was full of “wow’s” and said “pretty tree.” Then she of course kissed many of the ornaments. Last year when she first saw the tree, she stared at it for about 5 minutes and kept saying, “Wow!” over and over again. We are a fake tree family – Brett’s choice. His family had fake trees while my family always did the big family outing to cut down the real tree. Even though my sister is allergic, she always insisted (and still does on the real one).  It Brett wants a fake one, then he’s in charge of setting it up and fluffing it.  I asked him if he ever wants to get a real one, and he said, “Never. Too much work.”  So today as he is figuring out what color branches we leave out (the bottom row) and digging out gloves so he doesn’t get all scratched up, I say, “Are you sure this isn’t more work then cutting one down!?”  Nope. And then he comments that he should be putting up a life size manger scene with animals rather than a dumb tree. Ha!

My favorite part of our decorated house is this little Christmas tree. I have been collecting the Precious Moments ornaments since I was 3 years old. (I have every one since 1989, plus Our First Christmas 2008, and Baby’s First Christmas 1986 and 2011, for myself and Kherington). I just added 2013 to my Christmas list that Brett’s been bugging me to make for him!

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As I think back to my childhood Christmas celebrations and traditions in central Pennsylvania, the most memorable moments did not have to do with snow (which we got a lot of), snow sledding (which we had awesome hills for), or opening gifts (which now after watching home videos of my older sister, Laureann, and I surrounding by presents, we realized, “Wow, we were spoiled brats who did not appreciate our parents’ sacrifices!!!”)   No, the place that we spent almost every Christmas was surrounded by palm trees, sunshine, and swimming…..Florida! My Gramma and PaPa Adsit live in Florida, and as many Christmas breaks as I can remember were spent with them.

My family would open our gifts a day or two before Christmas Day. L and I of course were up before my parents, and we couldn’t go downstairs. So once we woke them up, we would sit on the steps until they were ready for us to come into the family room. Mom would turn on Christmas music and pour everyone a glass of Egg Nog, while Dad was setting up the massive camcorder to tape our reactions to opening presents (aka the spoiled brat moments – one year I opened up a notebook and said, “Why did you buy me this?” Yikes!)  We would come into the living room, ooh and ahh, and then sit down to read Luke 2:1-14, a special tradition Brett and I have kept.  My mom would buy us pajamas every year for Christmas, so L’s idea was to wear the pajamas we received the year before.  I have either bought or received pajama pants the past few year and I still do this tradition!  Wearing the same pajamas Christmas morning is a big no-no! 🙂

Once we finished opening presents, we immediately packed up the van or cool Taurus station wagon that my dad would receive as his company car, and down south we headed surrounded by all our new toys we just opened.

The car trip had its own memories.  In the station wagon, our biggest cooler would be placed in the middle of the seat between L and me.  Most the trip, we were either playing our Game Boy, reading a book, or trying to sleep while shoving the cooler back and forth and arguing over whose side it was more on.  Ha!  I’m surprised my parents didn’t want to leave us “home alone” some years.  I remember one year we packed up our van and started towards warmer weather.  We had a small TV which my dad hooked up to our massive camcorder so L and I could watch VHS Disney movies during the trip.  We were probably enjoying a movie when Dad pulled over at a gas station to look over the van. Something was wrong with it. I vividly remember sitting in the van praying that it wasn’t serious. Well, God wanted us home that year, because the van wasn’t going to make the trip so we turned around for home!

This picture was taken in December of 1999 in Florida.

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Christmas was one of the few times we would see my grandparents since they lived so far away. My Grandpa and Grandma Osenni lives at Myrtle Beach, SC during the winter, and sometimes we would stop on the way home from Florida to stay with them for a couple days. I remember being in their hotel apartment one year for New Year’s Eve.  Unfortunately, once Laureann and I went to college we stopped the Florida Christmas tradition.  However, for the past 2 years in February my parents made room in their van for Kherington and myself to spend time in Florida to see my Gramma and PaPa.  So maybe that will be a new tradition! 🙂

Since Brett and I have been married, we have our own Christmas morning (even though it may not actually be on Christmas Day like when I was a kid). I make a breakfast casserole that bakes in the oven while we open gifts. As I said before, we read Luke 2  to remember the real reason why we even celebrate Christmas, which can be so easy to get lost in the busyness and gifts of the season. Since we do not have a fireplace (a must in our next house since I grew up with a real one), we put in a DVD that plays music and shows a fake fire!  The fire slowly dies as the music plays; it even crackles! Love it!

Our first Christmas in our apartment as newlyweds, 2008

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We then divide up the week and spend time with Brett’s family and a few days with my family at my parents in Illinois now (was Cincinnati the last 8 years). Of course, it’s more about the grandkids now!  And yes, L and I even put Carter, Caden, and Kherington in “last year’s” pajamas (meaning the pajamas we bought on sale at the end of last year to fit the kids this year! hehe!) Gotta keep the traditions going, right?

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Kherington is still pretty young and does not understand who Jesus is and what “Christ”mas is truly about. However, as our family grows (numerically and physically), I’m excited to start our own family Christmas traditions that primarily focus on Jesus Christ, the perfect Gift of all (like the life size manger scene Brett wants! 🙂

I know this was pretty lengthy, but even if not very many people read it, I can always come back to this post to remember my Christmas traditions.  I joined a “circle blog” with friends, which we named From Where I Stand.  So if you are looking for ideas or want to hear more about my friend Megan’s Christmas traditions, check her out: Megs Five

Varvelicious Begins

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Welcome to Varvelicious.  My name is Christina and I am married to my wonderful husband, Brett.  We’ve been married for 5 years now, yet together as a couple for 11 years. Yes, high school sweethearts going strong!  We currently have one daughter, Kherington Mae (2), and another child on the way due in May 2014!  We live in Indianapolis, making Brett an IU basketball fan (insert puke here from me…the Purdue graduate), and of course committed Colts fans (while still rooting for Peyton Manning…except when Broncos play Colts)!

I am a Stay-at-Home Mom and wouldn’t change it. Do we make sacrifices to do so? You bet. Still wouldn’t change it.  While “Mommy” may be one of my most important and time-consuming roles, I am also a Registered Dietitian (RD), passionate about nutrition and helping people glorify God through eating.  I currently am the Nutritionist/Wellness Advisor for the Peru Community School Corporation in Peru, Indiana. I love this job because it is very part-time (I control my hours) and can do most of it from home (working before Kherington wakes up in the morning or during nap time).

I’ll tell you a little about Brett since I’ll be posting a lot on what he does. He is the Executive Director of House of Grace Films, Inc., a non-profit organization. House of Grace Films is dedicated to producing biblically based films with excellence to further the Great Commission. More on this in posts to come. Lots of big things happening!  Until then, check out the website and/or Facebook page.

Well, I could keep going, but I guess you will have to continue to come back to check out what’s happening in the Varvelicious household. (Sign up to receive email updates on the left).

Will I have a theme in this blog? Probably not. Our life is random as we “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  And a very creative writer once said, “You write what you know.”  So that’s my theme; I’ll write about my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, my family, and my passions, because that’s what I know best.