Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

My sister Sara with Marissa

My niece's son, Peyton with Trenton

Sara with Bethany

We have been visiting family out east and this morning I had to go pick up my Hunny at the airport. (The kids and I drove out here 4 days ago.) So, of course, this morning the roads were icy and dangerous. It took me almost 2 hours longer to pick him up and 4 hours longer to get back to my grandparent's house. There was a horrible accident, so we are thankful that we are home safely. Although the hours in the car made us all a little stir crazy.

We are having a good time and have seen many family members and friends. I grew up in this area, so there are lots of folks to visit. The kids are doing well and enjoying the extra attention from aunts, uncles and grandparents.

This evening we are having a big gathering of family to bring in the new year. I'm not sure I'll be able to stay awake until midnight...showing my age, I suppose. Or maybe the fact that I've been awake since 4 a.m.

It is interesting to think that 2007 is past. The years go by faster and faster. I'm thankful that the Lord has our days ordained and planned. I take comfort and peace knowing that He is in control. Happy New Year everyone! May God bless you and keep you in 2008.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas Day. We had a birthday party for Jesus. The kids had lots of fun opening their gifts.
It'll be hit and miss until the we get back on schedule. Have a good week!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Prayer and the Nativity

So much to write about and not enough time to write it. However I will share a few things now.

I'd mentioned Elisha in my post here. On Friday, he went home to be with the Lord. Please keep his dear family in prayer.

Saturday we finally put up our Christmas tree. It was a lot of fun. The kids are having fun with the nativity set we have especially for them. In fact, you may not have known this, but Mary and Joseph along with the shepherds arrived in Bethlehem in an SUV.
Sunday we went to see a Balloon Nativity. It was amazing! A creative worship team at a church designed this nativity out of over 1500 balloons. Here is a small part of of the nativity. My kids really enjoyed seeing this.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Making Gingerbread Houses

Icing, candy, and graham crackers...what's not to enjoy?

Here's a recipe for the icing:
3 Tablespoons of powdered meringue
6 Tablespoons warm water
4 cups confectioner's sugar

Beat for 7-12 minutes with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
Keep icing covered with a damp cloth when not using to avoid it getting hard. If the icing does get too stiff, just add a little water.

We used graham crackers to make our houses. Using a small ziploc bag as an icing bag, I cut a small hole in the corner and away they went. We let them set up for 30 minutes of so before adding the roof tops. Then we took our creations to a homeschool event where each family brought a bag of decorating candies. The girls decorated their houses showing a lot of creativity and personality.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Soft Ginger Snaps

These cookies are a favorite holiday treat around our house. I make them a lot for friends and neighbors, too. They are soft which may take them out of the "snap" category.

Ginger Snaps

¾ c. butter softened
1 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
½ c. molasses
2 ½ c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. ginger
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. salt
granulated sugar

Cream butter and first amount of sugar well. Beat in egg. Mix in molasses.
Stir flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt together.
Add to butter mixture. Mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls. Roll in sugar and place on greased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.

Make sure they don't bake too long or they will not be soft.


For more Works for me Wednesday ideas check out Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

Craft Sale

Our homeschool group had a kid's craft sale last night. Here's a picture of Bethany at our craft table. We made all sorts of Christmas crafts and even some chocolate covered pretzels. The whole experience is fun for us all.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thankfulness Disguised

Lately I've been held captive. I believe the captor is God Himself. I've shared in the past that I've been studying about His holiness. This study continues to deepen my awe of Him and sharpen the awareness of my own sinfulness. On top of that, He is using the words of others to stir in me a strong compassion for the hurting. Some blogs, some emails, some phone conversations, all words of others in need of prayer. Some have lost babies (iddy, biddy ones), some have cancer, some are facing financial strain, some of their marriages are in trouble and yet there are still others. The reality of pain and suffering has made me rely on HIM all the more.

Alistair Begg, in an article titled Pain: God's Megaphone said, "Each of us must recognize how easy it is to think little of God when all is well on the outside. But what a change occurs when, for example, the biopsy comes back positive. A sharp blast of anxiety comes to shatter any illusions of self-sufficiency. How kind of God to rouse us and bring us to the place of dependence."

My heart is tender for these ones who have gone through such suffering and pain. They have walked through trials deep and dark. Their testimony is sweet, still honest about the hurt. They know that God is on the throne. That He has a plan for their lives. That He will carry them.

I am learning from them.
I am learning an utter thankfulness for each day I have with my hunny and children.
I am so thankful for good health and I do not want to ever take that for granted.
I am learning to pray earnestly for those whom I don't know--or know only through the blogosphere.
I am thankful for God, my Rock and my Refuge, in whom is my Hope.

If you are so inclined read some of their stories. Pray for some of their hurts. Get ready to be changed.

Joseph--a 3 year old just diagnosed with an aggressive tumor called anaplastic astrocytoma.
Tristan--a 6 day old little boy born with a genetic disorder (trisomy 18) that will most likely end his life shortly.
Poppy Joy--a blog dedicated to a sweet baby girl who is now in heaven. Her parents share their amazing testimony and journey down a road they never thought they'd travel.
Elisha--7 years old, just had his second heart surgery. He and his family are missionaries in Alaska.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Golden Potato Soup and Honey Wheat Rolls

We are having a carry-in lunch after church tomorrow. The theme is soup and bread. So I'm bringing this combination.

Golden Potato Soup
3 c. potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped onion
15 oz. can chicken broth
2 carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. chopped ham OR 1/2 c. cooked and crumbled bacon

In a large stock pot, combine first 6 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until vegetables are tender. In separate bowl, mix flour and milk. Once it is well blended, add to soup mixture and cook until soup becomes thick. Stir in cheese and ham and simmer until cheese is melted.

[Note: I omitted the celery and the ham/bacon with good results.]

Honey Wheat Rolls
8 oz. warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 c. honey
1 large egg, beaten (or 2 egg whites)
2 c. bread flour
1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon dry yeast

Put the ingredients into your bread machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Set on "dough". When it is finished shape into rolls (about 12-18 depending on size). Let rise and bake until done.

These rolls are a favorite of our family. The recipe is especially precious to me because my friend Julie shared it with me. The recipe card is in her handwriting. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her. I miss her.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sweeties

Do you love chocolate and peanut butter? Then you are in for a treat with these sweeties!
Plan ahead because they need to chill.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sweeties
1 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. butter
3 c. confectioners sugar
5 dozen pretzel twists
1 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
1 T. vegetable oil

Beat peanut butter and butter together. Mix in sugar until well combined. Shape into 1-inch balls. Press onto pretzels. Place on wax papered baking sheet. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

In heavy pan, melt chips and oil. Dip peanut butter ball into the chocolate while holding onto the pretzel. Place back onto baking sheet. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Makes 5 dozen.

Oh, so yummy!

Christmas Gifts for Kids

This idea came through our homeschool email loop. I'd heard of this before and thought I'd share it here.

"We give our kids 3 presents for Christmas just as the Wise Men gave Jesus. Frankincense was burned before worship, so the gift is something that pertains to how the kids spend their time with God (a new worship CD, bible, Focus on the Family magazine). Myrhh was an annointing oil so the gift is something to annoint their bodies (fancy soaps, sparkly lotion, bathrobe). Their gold gift is the gift they've really been wanting (special toy, CD player). You can take this even further and wrap the presents in special papers. The kids have enjoyed it, it sure helps mom's budget, and it passes the true story of Christmas in a hands-on way."

Friday, December 7, 2007

First Sunday of Advent--Hope

I intended to write this post sooner, however it's here now and still before the Second Sunday of Advent. :) I'll try to get a picture of our wreath to show you.

I made an Advent wreath (styrofoam flat circle, candles--3 purple, 1 pink and 1 white, and greenery wrapped around it). Each Sunday we light a candle and read selected Scriptures. This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent. We lit the first purple candle and read Scriptures about hope. [Hope--confidence, trust, eager expectation, longing.] For example: hope through the prophecies of the coming Savior (Genesis 49:10, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Micah 5:2-4 and Matthew 2:6). Each evening of this week, we've read more Scriptures about hope~examples of hope-Noah, Abraham and David, hope in the Christmas story-Joseph, Mary and Simeon and Anna.

This coming Sunday we will light the second candle along with the first. The second purple candle is for peace [completeness or soundness resulting from God's presence and forgiveness].

The third Sunday is joy and the pink candle. [Joy--delight, gladness, contentment and cheerfulness that focuses on the character and acts of God.]

The fourth Sunday is love and the last purple candle. [Love--the very nature of God, shown by His Son and put into the hearts of His children by His Spirit.]

Christmas Eve--the Christ Candle which is a little taller than the rest and is white. The Christ candle represents the One who is the center of the whole celebration and the center of our lives.

This Advent celebration is a time that we all look forward to. It certainly focuses our thoughts on Christ.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Quick Meals

Today's Works for Me Wednesday is a "What do I fix" Edition. This is a great idea because as Shannon has said--we all have those days when it's 5:00 and we have no clue what we are going to make for supper. So, new visitors, thanks for stopping by and checking out what I make for supper in a pinch. I hope you feel welcome and at home. Come back anytime!

Before I share what I fix when I have no plan--I want to say that I was hoping this was going to be "Backwards WFMW" because I have a question. If you are so inclined, leave an answer in the comments and I'd be so grateful. My question: Is it acceptable and dare I say, perceived as loving and thoughtful to email our family Christmas newsletter? The list of family and friends that we send Christmas newsletters and pictures to is around 100. It can't be shrunk. Let me know what you think, please.

Okay, on to my quick meals...

Chicken and Stuffing
Preparation time is 10 minutes, cook time 30 minutes. You will need chicken (boneless, skinless, brea*sts), stuffing, and cream of mushroom soup. The recipe is linked with the title. Good!

Breakfast for Supper
Pancakes or scrabbled eggs are fair game for supper at our house. I have an easy recipe for pancake mix.
2 c. any combination of flours (I like to use whole wheat and oat, other options rye, white, rolled oats, wheat germ, cornmeal, etc.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix these dry ingredients. [You can make several batches of this recipe and store in freezer sandwich bags or containers in the frig. or freezer until ready for use.]

Add these ingredients when you are ready to make the pancakes:
2 c. milk
1 egg
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey

Mix until just until blended. Pour on hot sprayed griddle.
Other easy meals:
  • spaghetti (sometimes I have already browned meat in the freezer, sometimes we eat it meatless.) Bag of ravioli that Shannon mentioned is a quick pasta meal too.
  • Egg noodles cooked according to package directions, then mixed with a can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup (sometimes I have already cooked, cubed chicken in the freezer, sometimes we eat it meatless). A frozen veggie, like peas or broccoli, can be added.
  • Salad with chopped chicken, carrots and croutons
Here are a couple things I do to try to AVOID the "5 o'clock and no plan for supper" syndrome.
  • Cook and freezer batches of ground beef and chicken. I usually freeze them in 2 cup quantities. Label with date. I try to do this every couple months.
  • Plan for supper by 10 a.m. Get meat out of freezer, put bread in the bread machine, etc.
Well, I think that's it for now. It's 10:40 a.m. and I need to go plan for supper. :)

Thanks Shannon for hosting. Be sure to go to Rocks in my Dryer for more quick meal ideas.

Jan Brett Website

If you enjoy Jan Brett's books (like The Hat and The Mitten), you will love her website. She has tons of free coloring pages, activities, games, e-postcards, etc.
Go check it out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Holiness of God a study continued

I've continued to study the holiness of God. This morning I compared Isaiah 6:1-4 with Revelation 4:1-11. The worship of the seraphim (in Isaiah) and the living creatures (in Revelation) is nothing short of deeply intense. In Revelation the living creatures never stopped saying
"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of His glory!"

and their worship prompted the 24 elders response of:
"Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
To receive glory, and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created."

The study guide asked me to compare my worship (personal and corporate) to the worship in this passage. Is there any comparison? Truly "Woe is me." Privately, I often come to Him in a routine, dutiful way that lacks any real praise and worship of Him. It's almost as if my time with Him is a chore I need to check off my "to do" list. Corporately in church, I find that music is a good catalyst to help me focus my thoughts on Him. I can usually block out the things on my mind and think about Him. Taking notes as the pastor is speaking is another way that I honor Him and focus. Especially when I go back over my notes during the week. Still I certainly lack the fervor and passion exuded in Revelation by the living creatures and 24 elders.

Why? I have so much to be thankful to Him for, so much to praise Him for, so much to need Him for. Sometimes I feel removed from the presence of God. I see His handiwork, His works of faithfulness and grace, but the creatures and elders were RIGHT there beside the throne. How can I sit there? Of course, like Isaiah (and much more so) I'd fall on my face--covering my head and wanting to hide. But to be there....

A.W. Tozer said:
We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of. God's holiness is NOT simply the best we know, infinitely better. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible, and unattainable. Only the Spirit of the Holy One can impart to the human spirit the knowledge of the holy.
So that is what I pray for. I pray that God would impart to me the knowledge of His holiness and that this knowledge would invoke in me the realness of my sin and His utter holiness.

The Nativity

Bethany and little Boy are enjoying acting out the Nativity. Bethany is the director, for sure, however she is kind and loving in her attempts to get her brother to play along.

Bethany and I made the paper scene of the shepherds "abiding in the field" (Luke 2:8-14). It was easy with the patterns from Life of Jesus Activity Book by Anita Reith Stohs. Today we will add on with the manger scene. Just a note about the book, it is recommended for ages 8-12 as it has some more difficult word puzzles. However this activity was just right for Bethany and mom to do. When we were finished, Bethany exclaimed, "Mom, this is awesome!"

We also started the "Jesse Tree". We received ours from God's World News, a magazine for kids. The magazine has different magazines for different ages, ending with the "World". It contains world news and events presented from a biblical world view.

Our Jesse Tree is actually just a poster, however I'm loving the simplicity of it. Maybe next year, we'll get more creative.
I googled "Jesse Tree" and found these results for those interested in seeing what it is or making one. Note: I did NOT investigate these sites thoroughly.
Making a Jesse Tree

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Yesterday I finally succeeded at making Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments. I have made them in the past years, but for some reason I couldn't get these to turn out right. I figured it out---DO NOT USE UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE! I ruined 3 batches, tried 2 different recipes and frustrated myself and the girls before I realized that in the past I've used Aldi's applesauce~sweetened and full of preservatives. The girls and I finally rolled out the dough and made sweet little ornaments which we will sell at our local homeschool craft sale (next week). Here is the recipe:

1 cup applesauce *sweetened and store-bought
1 cup cinnamon
1 Tablespoon of white school glue

Mix applesauce and cinnamon together with hands until well mixed. Add glue and mix again. Roll out dough on wax paper to about 1/4 inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes and put a hole (either with a straw or skewer) allow to dry for 2-3 days. Turn once a day or so to avoid curling.

One last note, make sure that your hunny doesn't have plans to turn off the water during this project. Prolonged exposure to large amounts of cinnamon and applesauce will make the dry skin on your hands hurt. We speak from unfortunate experience.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Colossals

I did a bunch of baking yesterday. I made banana bread, chocolate chip cookies and these peanut butter oatmeal cookies. The recipe makes around 5 dozen cookies, depending on the size you make them. I found this recipe years ago in one of those church recipe books.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Colossals

1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. chunky peanut butter
6 c. quick oats
2 1/2 t. soda
2 c. chocolate chips

Mix first 6 ingredients thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Drop a rolled teasponful into powdered sugar, then place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

These cookies freeze well and are so good.