Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bloggin' Friends

I love reading blogs!  There are so many out there - food blogs, health blogs, craft blogs, and the list could go on.  My favorite ones to read are those by fellow missionary wives.  It is so interesting to take a look inside their home life, family, and ministry where God has called them.  What a blessing it has been to "meet" other missionary wives through blogging.  There are several ladies I have never met in person, but I would consider them dear friends.

I have never met Maria, but I've followed her blog for a while now.  I love the way she writes....she's so real!  Her love for her family, their ministry, and the Lord is obvious.  Plus I enjoy seeing what missionary life is like on other mission fields.....hers is Jamaica.

Why not visit Jamaica today via Maria's blog?

A while back Maria started the "Take the Time To...." Challenge.  (Also known as T' Time)
I was honored when she recently asked me to be a part.  If you are interested, here is my T' Time Challenge.

Welcome 2012

At 11:45 p.m. our family and a lady from church headed to the town square.
Many people had gathered in anticipation of fireworks.
We were not disappointed.
Fireworks are so beautiful and festive! 

We took a different way for our short 10 minute walk back to our apartment.
Since we passed a small park, the kids asked to stop and play.
They had a blast!
(probably because playing at the park in the middle of the night is more fun than being in bed)

While we were at the town square, we saw many people who were drinking and those who were already completely drunk making fools of themselves.  My heart broke and I was reminded why we are be a light in the midst of darkness.  To bring hope where there is hopelessness.  To show Christ's love to people who are hurting.  It's a big job and we have a lot of work to do.  "Brethren, pray for us".

Of course, Sunday was church!  Many of our people were out of town or busy due to the holiday.  Personally, I can't think of a better way to start the new year than in church.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas Day 2011

(I know that Christmas is over, but things were busy during the holidays to fit in blogging too.  So, please bear with me.  This blog is a journal for me and it's important to record these important times.  It is also for the benefit of our family - though distance separates us, they are in our hearts.)

Christmas Day is a special time in our house.  We have traditions that the kids look forward to each year.  Our stocking are opened while still in our cozy pajamas.  Then everyone starts getting ready for the day while breakfast is being prepared.  Ron is usually in charge of breakfast, but he has lots of helpers.

After breakfast is cleaned up, we head to the living room to open presents.  The kids are so anxious to see what is in the presents with their names on them.  I too am excited..........for them to see the gifts that we picked out specially for them.
Before any gift are opened, we take a few moments to read the Christmas story from Luke 2.  Then we thank the Lord for the greatest gift ever given -  Jesus.

Present time.... 
Caleb is ready to get started

Dutch Blitz for the family - one of Sarah's very favorite games (which is why she opened this gift)

an mp3 player for Andrew - something nice for our upcoming furlough

a comic book of the Bible
 Ron surprised me with a.....
I was so excited!  Now instead of carrying stacks of books when traveling, I just tuck this in my bag and I have all my books at my fingertips. 
It will be a blessing on this side of the world as well.  Since so many books are in ebook form, I can get them on my Kindle and have immediate access.  Not only will this be convenient, but it will save us the cost of shipping books.
On top of all those wonderful features, I have found many ebooks for FREE!
In the last 5 days I have added 9 books to my Kindle absolutely free - a saving of almost $100 + shipping.
I am still figuring things out and have lots to learn as I have time. 

my Kindle Fire
Ron got this cordless drill and flashlight set from me.  It was on sale for a great price.  Don't you just love how God provides like that for us?  Ron has already had the opportunity to use his gift too - putting up shelves in our closet.  He was happy to get to "play with his new toy" and I was happy to get shelves.

Ron's new "toy"
 We were blessed with so much this year!
God is good and we are thankful.

Our family received several packages from the states filled with very thoughtful gifts.
It felt as though the windows of Heaven were opened right over our house,
then God poured out His love and blessings through others.
Christmas time can cause you to miss family a little more than usual,
but God made sure that we knew we were loved.....a bunch!

Later in the afternoon, a couple of our church ladies came for a delicious Christmas dinner.

the kid's table

the adult table
 In the evening we went to church for our Christmas service.
We enjoyed pumpkin pie and fellowship afterward.
What a nice way to finish up Christmas Day.

a Christmas tradition - a picture of the kids in front of the tree holding a sign with the year

Christmas cookies

I love the smell of cookies baking!

Each year at Christmas we make lots of cookies.
Many of them are for Ron's English students,
some of them are for church,
others are for any Christmas parties we attend,
and of course, we need to keep some at our house......just because it's Christmas.
After smelling the delicious aromas of cookies baking, it's only natural to want to taste them too.

This was my first year to try Cinnamon Stick Cookies.  I was very pleased!  They were pretty simple, made lots, and were not real sweet.  Perfect to munch on while sipping coffee, tea, or cocoa.

Cinnamon Stick Cookies
 Minty Chocolate Crinkle Cookies are a big hit with everyone.  They are delicious!!!  These are definitely on our family's list of Christmas cookies to make each year.  In fact, I probably won't wait until next Christmas to make them again.

Snowballs are another favorite with our family and anyone who tries them.  Sometimes I wish everyone didn't like them so much....then there would be more for me.  On January 2, Ron and I were watching some football (about 11:30 p.m.) and I remembered that there were 3 Snowball cookies left.  The perfect snack while watching the game.  They were so yummy....too bad there were only 3.

You can find the recipes for these cookies here.

Minty Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
 The traditional Sugar Cookies not only taste good, but are lots of fun to decorate.  Last year we started "painting" our icing on with paint brushes.  It's much easier than a knife for younger kids and more fun too (even for older kids).  I mix up different colors of frosting, stick paint brushes in the bowl, and set out sprinkles.  All the kids (5-12 years old) and I have a blast.  This year daddy even painted some cookies. 

What are your favorite cookies to make?

Christmas tradition!

Last year we made our first gingerbread house.  It was so much fun that we decided it would be a family tradition.

If you would like recipes, gingerbread house patterns, or just ideas you can take a look here.  This site has been helpful to me, so I thought I would share it with you.

This year we made three smaller houses, rather than one large one.  Each of the older kids had their own and Caleb helped Andrew.  After I helped them "build" their houses, they went to work decorating.   

Making gingerbread houses has become a highlight at Christmas time.  It is such a great activity to bring out  each child's creativity and to work together.  There is always lots of laughter, sneaking tastes of frosting and candy, and a huge mess - but most of all an evening of fun and memories.

Monday, January 2, 2012

December Memories

Christmas seemed to sneak up on me this year.
As I look back, I think it was partly because it didn't "feel" like Christmas.
Why is that?  Well, we have had precious little snow.
We had even heard that the weather was forecasting NO SNOW until the New Year.
Of course, we were disappointed to hear such news.
I reminded the kids that God is in control of the weather and we should continue to pray for snow.
We were specifically praying for a white Christmas.

Just a few days later, we got a little snow - enough to build a snowman.
It didn't last long.
Then just a couple days before Christmas it snowed again!
The Lord answered our pray and gave us a white Christmas.

The kids were very excited when we found a waffle maker.
We used some Christmas money that was given to us and bought it!
Sure makes some yummy waffles.
The kids love them...........that makes mommy happy.

Caleb had a great time counting down the days until Christmas with this festive Christmas calendar.
We talked with my parents via Skype on Christmas Eve.
Caleb excitedly told grandpa, "Christmas is tomorrow!"
Grandpa replied, "No it's's next week".
Caleb ran for his tree to let grandpa know that Christmas really was tomorrow.

In our cozy living room warm and snuggled on the couch with the Christmas lights on......
we read Christmas stories.
"Christmas Day in the Morning",
 "Twas the Night Before Christmas",
and "Twas the Night Before Jesus Came"

Even though my kids can read on their own, they like to read books and stories all together once in awhile.

The kids drew names this year to buy gifts for one another.  They did some extra chores around the house to earn money to buy their sibling a simple, yet thoughtful gift.  Of course shopping for the gifts were fun.  It was special to me to see how excited each of them were to pick out a gift, keep it a secret, and wrap it.  But most of all they were so excited to GIVE their gift.  It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of getting gifts.  Yet, the Bible tells us, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
It was fun to work together wrapping presents, adding ribbon, and making name tags.   

Another fun evening.....
Hot chocolate, sugar cookies, and Christmas cartoons.  Can it get much better than that?

Thanks to Pinterest I found some great gift ideas.  (In fact, I already have several ideas that I plan to use next year.)  I first started looking for something simple to give to all of Ron's students.  These cinnamon stick tree ornaments caught my eye right away.  I enjoyed making them and think they turned out great.  Along with these ornaments, we gave each of the students a Christmas book marker with a Bible verse in English. 

Another idea from Pinterest that I adapted for what I jars for our church people.
I bought plain jars, filled them with goodies (nuts, tic tacs, hot chocolate packets, and candy), then used pretty wrapping paper to cover the lids.  Some festive ribbon tied around the lid with a card completed this simple gift.

A month full of memories that are tucked in my heart!


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