Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fruits of a Year

Illustration of the Barren Fig Tree

Then Jesus used this illustration: "A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed.  Finally, he said to his gardener, 'I've waited three years, and there hasn't been a single fig! Cut it down.  It's taking up space we can use for something else.'

"The gardener answered, 'Give it one more chance.  Leave it another year, and I'll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer.  If we get figs next year; fine.  If not, you can cut it down.' "

Luke 13:6-9

This year has brought knowledge, changes, growth and varied experiences to our lives.  We have been blessed with health, a warm home, enough food to eat and a loving family. Not every thing has been easy.  Life at times can be challenging, difficult and down right frustrating, but through it all we have grown to lean on our Savior more. These are experiences are God's fertilizer for our lives.  He has used trials and blessings to mold us to be more Christ-like.

Sometimes I fail Him miserably, but He is always there with loving arms, ready to hold me when I finally give Him back the control of my life.  He fills me with his love, His special attention, so that I may grow and produce abundant fruit.  Fruit that will be reaped by my husband, my children, my family, my friends and by strangers I may meet.  He loves me and is therefore willing to take the extra time to guide me, challenge me and teach me, so that I may produce fruit for His glory.

How about those in our lives who are like a barren tree?  They seem lost- searching for something, they may be harsh, they seem selfish and lacking in love or maybe they are just hurting and in need of direction. These are the people that need our special care. 

A gardener doesn't just plop a plant in the ground and then walk away hoping for good results.  No, a gardener tends to that plant.  They get down on their knees, eagerly working the soil to prepare it for the new plant.  Then the gardener supplies it with a gentle sprinkling of water and a good dose of fertilizer.  As the days pass the gardener visits that plant.  If it needs pruning the job is done with utmost care.  It the plant needs staking to keep it upright, the gardener supplies a good straight rod. A gardener sees potential in that small plant and therefore gives it special attention, because the gardener knows of the beauty to come.

This is how we need to see the world.  Those around us need our special care and good dose of fertilizer that only God can provide.  I'm ready to face the new year.  I have my spade, watering can, box of fertilizer and lots of tender loving care to give.  How about you?  Let's work together and tend to those in need. Just imagine all the wonderful fruits that will be reaped if we work together for our Lord and Savior.  I can see the blossoms already!

Monday, December 29, 2008


100_4106 I woke up to a big pair of brown eyes staring into mine. I slowly turned my head to glance at the clock, it was 2:30. I mumbled something about it being to early and that he needed to get back in bed.  I gratefully slumbered on, snuggling deeply into my pillow. At 5:30, I felt a presence standing next to me. I opened my eyes and there he was again wondering if it was time to open presents. I gave him a hug and shooed him out of my room. Around 6:00, I heard animated whispering coming from the living room.  I knew how excited they were, I used to be the same way as a child.  I would be so excited that I couldn't sleep. My sisters and I would congregate on the living room floor staring up at the tree and wondering what was inside all the gifts that surrounded the tree.  We would count the minutes until 6:00 and then we would all rush into my parents room to waken them for Christmas. Now I see Christmas through the eyes of my children.  I don't get so excited that I can't sleep, but I anticipate the joy of a blessed day with my family. Finally at 6:30, I consented and I rolled out from under the covers.  The boys quickly called their grandpa and grandma, who had been up since 6:00 (I think it must be ingrained in them), to come over to celebrate with us.

My mom and dad soon arrived with a basket of gifts and breakfast goodies.  The excitement continued to mount!  There was a lot of prancing and bouncing going on as they patiently waited for the adults to organize themselves. As soon as I had the coffee brewing (an essential ya know),  we sat down to see what was in the stockings.                                                          










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Lauren picked out a sucker right away and ignored the rest until we prompted her to keep looking.  After that she quickly got the concept of Christmas down and we were hard put to keep up!


All was going well until Grandma mentioned that she would love to have a picture of them in front of the tree. The boys gladly obliged grandma, but Lauren refused.  We coaxed gently, but the two-year-old with the will of iron prevailed.





Seriously, how can you fight with that on Christmas Day?  So, grandma got a nice picture of the boys, while Lauren laid on the floor ignoring us all.


After the gifts had been opened we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with my parents- Cinnamon rolls, Carmel rolls, Cresent wrapped sausages, and a delicious fruit bowl.  Then we spent the rest of the day just relaxing and playing with the new toys that the kids had received.  I treasure being able to focus on family and Christ's love for us on this special holiday. To me staying in and surrounding myself with my husband and children is the best way to celebrate the most wonderful gift of all.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve Review

Usually on Christmas Eve we celebrate Christmas with Joel's side of the family.  This year however, traditions were altered because of this...



Jacob came down with a funky virus. Like we haven't already been sick enough the past two weeks.  He ran a high fever, was itchy, lethargic (he took two naps in one day, highly unusual for high energy boy) and broke out in this crazy rash.



So, we postponed out Christmas celebration to another day so that my nieces and nephew wouldn't be exposed to this phenomenon.  We spent the evening at home cuddling and reading the Christmas story.


After 3 tries to get a good picture of my crew and me we gave up!  I'm lookin' a bit ragged in this photo. We were having trouble coordinating the smiles and keeping our eyes open as you can see. I'm giving out a Christmas wink to you all!


100_4126When I was a little girl my mom would take a picture of us each Christmas Eve before we went to bed.  This year I decided to continue that tradition.  Princess Lauren threw a fit because she was dead set against the whole idea.  I finally got her to get up off the floor where she was laying, wailing in protest.  She wouldn't drop the phone, so I gave up and just took the picture. I guess it just wasn't our night for perfect family photos!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!


To all my blogging friends,

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!  I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your families.  Tomorrow evening, we will be snuggling up around the Christmas tree and reading the Christmas story together; remembering and focusing on God's perfect gift to us, of His son Jesus.  I pray you and your families will know the awesomeness of God's love this holiday season.   And may we all share freely of the wonder of Christ's birth and His ultimate sacrifice for us.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6


From our family to yours~ We wish you a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Craft

*We did this a while back, but I never got the chance to post it. Thought I would share it with you today.

  100_4071                                                                                                    Today we felt a little bit artsy so, we made up some pretty Christmas balls.  We started with craft foam balls. Using Elmer's glue that I had watered down slightly, we attached small squares of fabric.  It was a fun project and not horribly time consuming.  The worst part was the glue.  I told the boys not to be stingy with it. To make sure they covered each piece.  Oh boy, did they take that to heart.  There were puddles of glue on the table.  It was running down their arms and of course we had some pretty sticky fingers.  But despite all this, we had a fun time and the our Christmas ornaments turned out beautiful! 

Take a look....


I set the ornaments on parchment paper to dry over night.  While they were still sticky with glue I wrapped coordinating ribbon around each of them. 

TA-DA! The finished project. 

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I like these so much I will be making a few more to add the Twisted Willow branches in this vase.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Sorry for the extended absence,the dreaded stomach ick has chosen our family as its next victim.  At first I wasn't posting or reading anyone else's posts because its hard to type in a de-contamination suit.  Then I was struck down.  It wasn't fun my friends, but my dear, youngest children had the worst case of the crud I have ever seen.  It is now day 6 and I still have one throwing up occasionally.  Please pray that the rest of my family doesn't get this nasty stuff.  I will try to catch up with all of you when I get done bleaching every teeny-tiny surface in my house.

Friday, December 12, 2008

O Tannenbaum


This is our Merry, Merry Christmas tree which leans to the left!  Oh well, it hasn't crashed to the floor...yet.

When I was a little girl, my mom would buy each of us a new ornament each Christmas. I now have a box full of Christmas memories.  Now I do the same for my children.  Each year when we are putting up the tree they get so excited to see what their new ornament will be for the year.

Some of the other traditions we have are watching a children's video about Jesus' birth and reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve.

We also celebrate Christmas with my husband's family on Christmas Eve.  We share a wonderful evening Christmas meal and then gather around the tree to open gifts. 100_4017

A new tradition that I added this year and hope to continue is having the boys read parts of the Christmas story, throughout the weeks of December, for their individual Bible study.  They also will be memorizing verses that proclaim the good news of Jesus' birth.








To view more Christmas memories head on over to We Are THAT Family.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Beauties

Last week I posted an awesome picture of my husband on Christmas morning 1993! This week I thought I had better post some pictures of myself. This way I will be less likely to endanger myself by having my hubby find embarrassing pictures of himself plastered on the web. First, I must add this little disclaimer... To my dear sisters and brother, so sorry you are being featured in this post, but if you hadn't been standing next to me this wouldn't have happened!

So with out further delay...

Christmas 85

Here I am with my sisters and brother. I am the one on the left sporting the glasses 10 times to big for my face and a feathered doo! My mom took this picture on Christmas Eve right before we hopped into bed for the night. Check out the matching flannel nightgowns my sister and I have. I'm sure my mom made those for us!

Christmas 1985

A couple of day later this picture was taken with me holding my baby sister Katie. She was born on Christmas day and was the best Christmas present we ever received. Notice my brother still in the same PJ's. HMMMM...I wonder how long he wore those before we peeled them off him!

Fast Forward a few years....

Christmas 90

Christmas 1990- Here I am nonchalantly sucking on a candy cane sportin' the newest hip look- Garfield P.J.s. And no I am not the height of Goliath! I think I must have been standing on a footstool or levitating, I'm not sure which!

Finally we have Christmas 1991:

Christmas 91

Once again we are all gathered for a Christmas photo. I am the one holding my little sister and trying to peer through the hair in my eye!

Just one final note, to my brother and sisters, P-l-e-a-s-e don't despise me for posting these beautiful pictures of you all! I LOVE you and you all know you were just adorable back then!

For more great memories visit Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In Other Words- Christmas


I have often read other ladies blogs who have participated in this weekly theme. Today I thought I would join in.

*Please overlook the layout of this post. I am having technical difficulities!


How easy it can be to fall into feeling like the Grinch this time of year. The pressure to have the perfectly decorated home, send out oodles of Christmas cards, bake 10 different varieties of Christmas cookies and at least 5 types of sweet breads, buy the perfect gifts for each one on you list, attend parties and plays, and

do it all with a cheerful heart and smiling face.

How easily we forget what Christmas is truly about. I am guilty of this myself. Just this morning, as I was trying to get each of the boys settled into their school work and telling Miss Thing, at least 50 times, to be quiet, I started to feel angst. There is so much to do and so little time. I haven't finished purchasing gifts. Christmas baking? Forget it. Christmas cards, oh boy, I haven't even started. How am I going to provide a Merry Christmas for my family, when I can't even tackle my every day to-do list? The ironic thing is I just wrote a post last Monday on how I was going to keep Christ in Christmas. But with my attitude this morning, I am far from accomplishing that. I am feeling more like a yelling at the top on my lungs BA HUM-BUG!

I think, if Christmas is going to mean a bit more this year, I need to focus on doing less. I will not worry about Christmas cards this year. I will take time to focus on Christ's birth. I won't bake hoards of Christmas goodies. I will bake just enough to share with our elderly neighbors. I won't decorate like Martha Stewart. I will let my children decorate the tree. My goal will be to focus on the beauty of the season and finding ways to do it simply.

If I am going to make Christ the focus of the season, then I need to put Him first. I can't do that if I allow myself to get caught up in the non-essential traditions. I desire to help my children see that Christmas is more than gifts, cookies and cards. It is about giving your heart to the Lord Jesus who came as an infant to this world to save us from our sin. Jesus provides so much more than what can be "bought in a store."

For more "In other words" visit Lori.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

No Pressure!

AARRRGH!  Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system. I have had a tremendously busy week.  For this homebody it has been something nigh to a marathon!  And it hasn't ended yet.  Today I have two separate parties to attend.  Tomorrow we will be going to church in the morning.  Then I will rush back home to get the noon meal on the table, because we are having our families over to celebrate Isaac's birthday. Then its back to my parents church for a Christmas program in the evening.

This isn't really what got me in a tither.  What got me wound tighter than a 10 day clock, was the baking fiasco I encountered.  Yesterday, after I had finished my bi-weekly cleaning of the neighbors ladies house, I came home to tackle the long list of  food items I was going to be preparing for today and tomorrow. 

I dumped all the ingredients for French bread into my bread maker.  No Problem.  I mixed up the cinnamon roll dough. Check. I moved onto Isaac's birthday cake, normally I would just use a boxed mix, but not this time.  I was doing alright until I put in a 1/2 Tablespoon each of baking powder and baking soda instead of the 1 teaspoon it called for.  OOPS! By the time I realized this, it was too late. I put the cake in the oven and hoped for the best. I successfully began to brown the meat and onions for the spaghetti.  However, when I went to check on the cake it looked funny, partially cooked around the edges with a couple dozen bubbles in the center.  I opened the oven door and noticed the oven temperature had fallen to 250 degrees.  I got on the floor and checked on the pilot. No flame.  I shut off the gas and then turned it back on.  It started back up. Five minutes later, you guessed it, no flame.  I called my mom for advice.  She lovingly told me she would just bake another cake and that I could bring the bread down to bake at her house. 

As I was retrieving the dough from the bread machine pan I noticed, to my dismay, that for some odd reason there were hard clumps of unmixed dough at the bottom.  My shoulders slumped as I dug out the worst of it and worked the dough into a loaf.  I took the lumpy thing to my moms.  She once again came to my rescue and said she would make another loaf of bread.  Just in case!

My oven is toast.  Joel removed the burner and there is hole in it.  We are hoping we can get a part to replace it.  So today I will be bringing 2 pans of unbaked cinnamon rolls to a party. Thankfully the hostess has offered her oven to finish up the job.

As for the birthday dinner, I will be able to use my slow cooker and stove top to finish up the meal.  And my mom, who I believe deserves sainthood, will be bringing the rest!

Oh, and by the way, my boys loved the cake.  My sweet guinea pigs ate huge pieces of it last night and declared it scrumptious, even if it was a bit ugly.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas 1993

Christmas of 1993, it was our first Christmas together in our apartment, which was above my husband's parents home. It made for an interesting year, but that is another post entirely!

I loved being domestic and making our apartment a home. So, when Christmas rolled around, I was especially ecstatic to decorate and cozy up our home.

First Christmas

The photo quality is poor, but you can see I'm in full decorating mode! Boxes everywhere and a shop vac just in case, because you never know. And check out that full head of hair! If the picture was better you would see that my hair was tight ringlets that fell all the way to the middle of my back. This was no perm, people. It was all natural and at that exact moment- poofy!

first tree

TA-DA! What a masterpiece! You must take notice of the two silver disks on either side of the tree. I do believe this was our handy-dandy way of tieing down our live tree so it wouldn't tip over. I'm surprised we didn't just duck tape it to the wall!

Now for the piece de resistance...

Joel Christmas

My stunning, young, oddly dressed, showin' a little skin hubby, on Christmas morning! Yes, we were of legal age to be married, even if he does only look about 12! Now, for those of you who know me in real life and read this blog let's keep this little gem to ourselves, shall we! Or I will pay dearly for sharing this beauty with you all!

For more ancient memories that will make you laugh visit We are THAT Family.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Birthday!

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My Boy,

What a joy you are to me! You are my gentle boy with a tender heart. My first born, my treasure. My heart fills with love for you today and every day. What a blessing you are to our family.

You bless us and others by your willingness to give a helping hand to those in need. Ever since you were old enough to walk you have been a hard worker. When the other children at church were playing tag you would walk around the yard picking up sticks and piling them up for disposal!

You still don't shy away from physical labor. If there is hard work to be done here at home, at Grandpa's or the neighbors, you are in the midst of it all. When I ask you to do a small job for me, never do you complain or try to extract yourself from the chore. You jump right up and accomplish the task. This attitude will help you tackle the difficult times in life. It will strengthen you and those around you.

I cherish your easy smile and laugh. I love that we can joke around with one another and you actually "get" it! When you chuckle over something it makes me giggle. And before you know it we are both bubbling over with laughter. You brighten our home with your cheerful disposition.

Even though you are growing and becoming more independent, you still take time to give me a hug now and then. I treasure these times when you come to me for reassurance and comfort.

You are changing into a young man. I see evidence of this daily. I pray that you will allow God to guide you in the years to come. Let Him shape you into a Godly young man by following the path that He has laid out for you. Always seek His will for your life and you will know true joy. Yes, there will be hardships, but they will only strengthen your character and strengthen your faith in our Lord. I pray you will give your heart fully to Him each day, so that you will know His love for you.

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy!

Love you,


Monday, December 1, 2008

Keeping Christ in Christmas

At the Well topic: Having a "Mary" Christmas: Keeping "Christ" in Christmas with Practical Ideas.  Hosted by Tracy from Thirsty for Him.

Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year at our house and probably yours too.  There are cookies and sweet breads to deliver to the neighbors, play practices, extra events at church to attend, gifts to make and buy, decorations to put up, and family functions to enjoy.  All  this takes place within a few weeks.  With all the hustle and bustle we can easily lose the true meaning of Christmas.  I don't want our family to miss the deep spiritual significance of the season, so this year I am hoping to slow the pace as much as possible.

Every year I try to make changes so that we can focus more on Jesus and less on busyness and material items.  Some of the events scheduled for December I can't or won't cross off the list, but I won't be adding any extras.  The activities that we will be doing this year will be centered around the true meaning of Christmas.  We will be in the Christmas play at our church.  We will attend and work at the Christmas functions are church is hosting.  We will bake for the elderly in our neighborhood.  All these items on our list will help each of us remember Christ's birth and ultimate sacrifice. 

This year we will be doing something I have wanted to do for the past several years.  I have added an Advent Calendar to our December days. 100_3998

100_4000Our Advent tree calendar and ornament counters.  Nothing fancy, but it will be functional and fun for the kids.

We will be counting down the days to Christmas and giving a bit or ourselves each day.  Our Advent activities will be simple and take little time, so this project won't add any more stress to a full schedule, but it will hopefully place a spirit of giving in our home.  The goal for this simple 25 day project?  To help each of us celebrate Christ this Christmas.

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