Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Outing

I love budget-friendly family outings.  They are proof-positive that families can have fun and spend virtually nothing.

The local model train club is pretty proud of their display, as well they should be.  (Their display is open over the holidays on a donations-only basis.)  We enjoyed talking to them about local railroad history and model trains.

(My Chevy-loving family begged to differ from the Ford mini-billboard.)

The intricacies astonished us!


The girlies are fans of VW Beetles aka "Bugs."

Mommy was diggin' the bridge.

Blossom4 was grateful for Daddy's helping hands and shoulders.

Working lights!  Delightful!

Gotta love the farmer and his John Deere!

And now we're on our way for frosties at Wendy's and driving by some more Christmas lights.  Tis the season for good family fun!

What a wonderful evening in our family's Christmas season. 


We're wishing you a wonderful Christmas, remembering the Savior and His love for you.  Looking forward to chatting with you in the New Year! 

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Craziness

The Blossoms have decided that they will spend a good portion of their Christmas vacation doing the BB gun version of skeet shooting. 

During their hot apple cider break on the front porch, I had to warn them, "Please do NOT scare the UPS driver."

(Non-country folk get a little edgy about guns, even if they are BB guns.)  And, no driver expects to be greeted at the gate with three guns and cherubic, smiling faces.

Christmas Craziness

"Mama, the water in the sink is overflowing!!!!!!"

Enter sprinting, hurdling mama. 

Thankfully, they neglected to inform me that only the bowl in the sink was overflowing and not the entire sink.  And, someone (who shall remain nameless, but who arrived third in the birth order) had cranked the knobs hard in the wrong direction. 

All is well here.  Again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Craziness

You know you're a mom when you go to Trader Joe's on your birthday date.

And you know other couples who do the same. 

(Ahem, Trader Joe's dark chocolate selection is superb.  Just sayin'.)

Meaningful Christmas Eve Traditions

Milk and cookies for Santa seems so magical and anticipatory.  I just have a hard time reinforcing something that isn't real.

I was so excited when I stumbled across some old Irish Christmas traditions in a book I was reading recently. 

From what I can find, I'm intrigued by these three parts to the old traditions.  On Christmas Eve night,

A candle was left lit in the window to welcome weary travelers, like Mary and Joseph. 

The door was left unlocked for weary travelers to find shelter, just as Mary and Joseph found shelter in the stable. 

A meal or a plate of bread was left on the table for the travelers to find sustenance in their time of need. 

I'm loving the focus of these traditions. 

The candle reminds me of the verse that tells us to entertain strangers, as we might just entertain an angel sometime.  (Hebrews 13:2)  It also points back to the Christmas story, helping our children to think of the situation Mary and Joseph found themselves in.  It was hardly ideal and surely stressful.  What if the innkeeper hadn't even let them use his stable?

The unlocked door demonstrates another aspect of hospitality.  I plan on reminding the Blossoms that whatever we've done to the least of them, we've done to Jesus.  Let's welcome folks with open hearts and homes.

I plan on letting the girlies decide what to leave out on the Christmas plate.  We'll talk about leaving out protein, so our travelers feel full.  We'll talk about leaving a treat, that someone on the street might not have often.  Perhaps we'll put out milk for its nourishing qualities.  It's not that I'm on a soapbox for protein; I just want them to turn their thoughts to others, to see the symbolism of how we might treat others in the way God would want.  I want them to think of how Mary and Joseph would've liked to be treated long ago. 

I want the whole conversation to turn their thoughts again to that beautiful story, the tapestry that Father God wrought for us to discover the Savior that came that night so long ago. 

The anticipation was building as I set up the photo shoot for this post.  I'm glad.  Just because you don't believe in Santa doesn't mean you can't have magical traditions.  In fact, as I'm finding, some of the most beautiful, symbolic traditions are found in the Bible and "old time religion."  (Check out the Passover feast if you want to see the very traditions God set up for the Jews... but that's another conversation, for another time.)  We've just forgotten the glorious traditions amidst the Santa stuff.

Merry Christmas, friends,

Monday, December 21, 2015

Donuts - Christmas Craziness

Never ask a Two Year Old what she would like for dessert on Christmas Day...

A gleeful shout of "DONUTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" will not help your meal planning, but it so stinkin' cute, I must say.

Practice for a duet; Practice for life

I think Blossom1 and Blossom2's piano teacher is a genius for suggesting a duet!  They've had to work together diligently over the past week.  It is only just yesterday and today starting to sound like "Deck the Halls."  She warned them not to give up.  I think it has been a terrific exercise in working together. 

May the cooperation in our household only increase!

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Road to Eternity

I look at this blog as a snapshot of my life.  By reading here, you see what I'm like, who I am, what I stand for, who I love.  I am only sometimes overt here.  Most other times, I leave you to glean the Truth for yourselves. 

But something has been on my heart recently.  It is the road to Eternity. 

Life is a blink.  It is brief.  It is deceiving in that so much that seems insistently important is truly small, genuinely nothing.  In this busy life, we can fool ourselves.  We think that there's not much more than this - the running, the meals, the pleasures.  But there is.  There are truths that are eternally important.  When we stop, when we take a walk in nature, when we take a deep breath, when we clear away the clutter, we come face to face with something more.  So much more.

All of us have sinned.  And we have fallen short.  If you feel that stab in your heart, as you read, it is your conscience in agreement with these Truthful words.  We have missed the mark in a heart-wrenchingly disappointing way, despite every human effort we put forth.  We, and our best efforts at life, are not enough.

Death comes from sin.  Sin is missing the mark and missing the mark isn't a joke.  It results in forever away from the Father God.  Living completely separated from Him, unable to hear His voice now on earth.  And later, once you've died, forever experiencing daily death for infinity in hell.  Sobering, and real, friend.  Your sin deserves the wages, or the payment of death.  What will you do?

You don't have to remain forever separated from God.  There is eternal life offered to you by Jesus Christ, God's son dying on the cross.  It is what Christ did for you.  He took the place you deserved.  It's easy to say it was for the man you see in Wal-mart or the lady with the bratty kids, but Christ died for you (me).  He took what you deserved.

Will you scorn these truths or will you take them on faith?    After the perfect, sinless man, Jesus, took what you deserved, He won a victory over death, by not staying dead(!)  Will you believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead?  It is in your heart that you must grasp this.  Your head will cry out in revolt, but there is truly no other way to stand right, to be made clean, to be made new, before God.  No other way.  The heart must believe the Truth. 

Humbly cry out to God.  Ask Him to save you.  Ask Him to forgive your sins, to give you a new nature.  Ask Him to be the Lord of your life. 

This is the road to an Eternity unseparated from a caring Father God.  There is so much more to discover along the way ~ God's purpose for you, His plan for your life, how you can please Him every day, but the journey of a million miles begins with only one step, the step of salvation.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Follow the Star; Forget the Elf

Over on Serving Pink Lemonade, I discovered our latest Christmas tradition.  (Is it a tradition yet, if you've only done it for a week or so?  You decide.)  I've seen people do the whole, elaborate Elf on the Shelf repertoire.  That's a lot of work to reinforce something that isn't real. 

I was encouraged by Large Families on Purpose, to do whatever I can to keep the meaning of Christmas at the forefront for our family. 

Christmas is about the coming of a Savior who would change all time.  Jesus changed our relationship with God forever.  We are no longer distant, afar off.  Because of Him, we can come boldly to the throne of the Father God.  Jesus' coming revolutionized life for all peoples.  He defied death and righted the wrong that Adam set in motion long before.  So, yes, presents and trees and hot chocolate and cookies are as pale as a black and white rendering held beside the full-color, real-life scenery of an exquisite tropical place. 

When we start our Christmas decorating, we set up the Nativity scene first.  The Blossoms delight in collecting shepherds from Thrift Stores, Wal-mart and the like.  (We own three more shepherds that are not pictured in this 2013 version of our Nativity scene.) 

The wise men are set up afar off, in the eastern direction.  (The Bible outlines three gifts, not necessarily only three wise men.  We imagine an elaborate and ornate caravan coming to find the Christ child.)  And, Jesus is placed in the manger first thing Christmas morning in conjunction with our reading of the Christmas story. 

(You know our Blossoms well if you realize why they are adamant that chickens be in the manger scene.)

I am so thrilled with this new aspect of our season of celebrating.  Blossom2 lovingly crafted an intricate star.  Mommy's job is to remember to move the star to another spot in the house each night.  They scream and squeal in delight when they discover the star sometime the next morning.  Hastily, they journey the wise men to that location. 

On Christmas morning, the star will be over the manger and the wise men will finish their journey at the eastern end of the mantle, symbolizing the wise men coming to the Christ child's side.

It has been such a terrific daily reminder that this season is about Jesus' coming.  And, it vividly illustrates the wise men's earnest seeking of the Christ child.  This new traditiona has been very meaningful for all of us. 

I urge you to construct your traditions around the true meaning of Christmas. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tis the Season for Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

'Tis the season for special breakfasts and Christmas company!

This special (and versatile) coffee cake is perfect for the season.

I whipped up this coffee cake one morning as a take on's To Die For Blueberry Muffins, which had been shared with me by a homeschooling friend. 

It came together beautifully on the first try and had the Blossoms begging for more.  Frankly, they can consume a 13x9 in less than 24 hours.  I know your Christmas company will enjoy it too.


Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

makes a 13x9 inch pan

Coffee Cake Ingredients:
3 cups Flour
1 1/2 cups White Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
2/3 cup Plain Unsweetened Applesauce (or Vegetable Oil)
2 Eggs
2/3 cup Milk
1 cup Mini Chocolate Chips, tossed in 1 Tablespoon Flour (or Blueberries!)
Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup White Sugar
1/3 cup Flour
1/4 cup Butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1.      Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2.      Grease a 13x9 pan.
3.      For coffee cake, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
4.      In a glass liquid measuring cup, place applesauce.  Add egg and enough milk to reach the two cup mark.  Mix well.
5.      Gently stir into flour mixture, being careful not to over-mix.
6.      Fold in chocolate chips.
7.      Prepare topping by cutting sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon together with a fork.
8.      Sprinkle over coffee cake and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean,  approximately 30 minutes.

Happy baking,


Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday frostiness

Something about frost (and snow), makes me want to slow down.

It must be the wintertime equivalent of stopping and smelling the roses. 

This has been a tremendous week of sharing, encouraging and being challenged in my walk with God here in our little home.  It's come through various sources and outlets - the older women of our church, my friend Jessica, my sister and others too.  It's been beautiful and real and good and amazing and it makes me long for more.  It's made me realize that God planned that we'd need fellowship, that we'd need iron sharpening iron. 

It takes a little something extra though...

If only we'd stop and listen to each other more often.  If only we take that extra moment to ask a tough question or a genuine question.  If only we'd take that extra step of friendship and share something real and something heartfelt from our own lives.  If only we'd humble ourselves and meekly open up.  It's takes a little bit more.

God is helping me to grow in this area.  I know He will lead you, as well.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Not a day without a line

Journaling has been important to me for a long, long time.  Now, as you well know, my life has defined seasons.  In some seasons, I journal more than others.  Journaling factors in some way to most seasons of my life though. 

I've found that journaling helps me to process my thoughts and truly think through what God is saying to me.  When I don't journal, very little of what I read in the Word assimilates into my life.  I find that when I write about what God is saying to me, the thoughts develop.  They grow.  When I take the time to write them down, one or two little thoughts blossom into something bigger God wants to do in me.  Writing those thoughts causes me to explore them, to ask more questions, to process, to muse, to meditate, to mull and to really listen.

There's a Latin saying,

"Nulla dies sine linea."

 It actually means, "Not a day without a line drawn," referring to an artist drawing something every day.   I like the challenge in that ~ taking the regular time to just write something, just one thought, each day. To a busy mom who finds herself numbed by the grinding of daily life, just to write one thought each day would be quite an exercise, a real stretch outside our "What are we making for dinner" and "Where do the kids need to be next" thoughts. 

When the numbing of the Mommy Mundane happens, we need to wade through it and still find that precious place of a life-giving time with God. 

Read the Word.  Think about it.  Commune with God.  Ask and listen.  Write down one thought.  One thing that struck us.  One way we feel convicted.  One attitude we feel the Lord is dealing with.  One request we bring to the Throne of grace.  One desire in our walk with God.  Just one thought.  A small thought.  A seemingly insignificant thought.  Just one thought.
This helps us to open our hearts more to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (meaning, the process of making us more holy).  It paves a way for God to work in those words we read, the thoughts we think, the nudges we feel.  And, God can take it from there. 

Just one thought.  Not a day without a line.  Not a day without one thought written.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

the Tender Mundane

So much about my life can be mundane.  Most moms I know can relate.  We wash the same dishes over and over again.  We launder the same clothes repeatedly.  We wipe the same faces.  We cook the same food.  Heck, we read the same books relentlessly (albeit, possibly through gritted teeth).  We say the same things like a broken record.  It can be mundane. 

But, is mundane bad?  And, can we still do the mundane in a way that pleases God? 

Ephesians 4:32 commands us to be kind and tender-hearted... 

I've been meditating on doing the mundane in such a way that it clearly communicates love. 

A tender heart is displayed in tender actions, even if they are tender mundane actions.  Maybe what got me thinking about it is when I recently gently wiped Blossom4's face before bed the other night.  She commented on it to the effect that it was loving and she recognized it.  I don't even remember what she said; I could just tell that she unmistakably read the love in my gesture.  It spoke to my heart in a way that has stuck with me throughout this week. 

I get busy-ness.  Really, I do.  Being busy makes me rough and hurried as I wipe faces, yank shirts over little heads and go about other such "mundane" tasks.  (Might I add the little thought that gets me every time, "Whatever I do unto the least of these, I do to Jesus.") 

I CAN communicate love in those little tasks.  It is the tender mundane.  God has worked in my heart to make it tender and I believe it will come out in my actions toward the Blossoms in our house. 

(Blossom4 is purposely not photographed in the above picture because she decided to decorate the tree in only her panties. 
Clearly that is not blog-worthy attire. :)

Never think that the mundane of your life is meaningless.  I challenge you to make it tender, to communicate the love of Christ to your children in the little gestures.  They can read our gestures - think about what your gestures are saying. 

"I'm too busy." 

"I don't have time for you." 

"I don't care about how this makes you feel." 

"You're driving me crazy." 

or do they say, "I love you and Christ loves you." 
The amazing power and love of God is communicated in the tender mundane. 

I feel called to a higher plane in my dealings with the people (yes, PEOPLE) of my family this week. 

Is my mundane tender?

Monday, November 30, 2015

To look and be thankful

I'm thankful our children have the chance to be unique.

I'm thankful for vignettes that bring joy to my heart as God's beauty is before my eyes.

I'm thankful that God loves color.

I'm thankful that children really are a blessing.

I'm thankful for the out of the ordinary.

I'm thankful for the ordinary.

I'm thankful for breathtaking things.

I'm thankful for friends - people that are like iron sharpening iron.

I'm thankful for each 24 hours we are granted.

I'm thankful for inspiration.

I'm thankful that God is my Rock.