Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Back to Normal?

So I've spent the past couple of days storing our Christmas decorations. It seems that for over a month, Christmas has been bubbling out of every corner of my house! As I was dismantling the tree and wrapping ornaments, I found it kind of sad to be putting it all away. The twinkling lights, garland, decorations and vibrant pops of color during this time of year, seem to fill my house with the essence of the holiday spirit and inevitably makes me smile when I walk in the room.

It seemed as if it took weeks for me to get everything just right and in place, but surprisingly it only took a matter of hours to take down and stash back in the box to be stored until next year.

I thought it was sweet that the youngest of my three girls asked if we could just keep our decorations up until next year, because it all looked so pretty. I have to admit that a little validation goes a long way! :-)

I haven't been to the store yet since Christmas, but I am quite sure that the shelves have been stripped of all things "Christmas" and something new is in its place. The gift giving is over, the songs have been silenced, and life is supposed to go back to normal.

Have you thought about that phrase, "Back to normal?" What does that mean. One of my favorite things about Christmas (other than the decorations) is that even people who don't normally talk about God, will openly discuss our Savior's birth. I love that!; It seems people will more openly rejoice over the birth of Jesus. They will sing songs about Him, attend services or nativity scenes.......all through December normal changes, then when January rolls around all of that goes away and life goes back to "non December" normal.

Philippians 4:4  says "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!"
Deuteronomy 11:1 says "Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always."

These verses don't say that we are to only obey them during the month of December. They say that we are to do these things "always!"   Say it..........always!
We are to rejoice always, we are to love God always, we are to obey His statutes, judgments, and commandments always, we are to keep His charge always!!  Not only when things are going well for us, or not only when things are going bad for us. 
I like to put a personal touch to the verses as I read them.......like this: I will rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will rejoice.
or like this: I will love the Lord God, and I will keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always.

ALWAYS!!

I think we should change what normal looks like! For the next 11 months we should sing louder, worship harder, praise more intensely, share more consistently, and love with the compassion of Jesus Himself. If we would challenge ourselves in this way, I believe our Christmas season next year would be even more wonderful than the one before. I also know that Jesus would be pleased.

As you look at setting personal and family goals for the new year, find ways that you can make a difference in the lives of the people you come in contact with. It is up to us to share the love of Jesus........... ALWAYS!!!!







Friday, December 19, 2014

Operation Cookie Day 2


Welcome to Operation Cookie Day 2! I hope you had a chance to try at least one of the recipes from yesterday. I know you will enjoy them! Today we managed to finish a few of the projects we began yesterday, as well as complete a few new ones! I hope you are as excited to see them as I am to share them!! 
 
Right off the bat this morning we had an injury. One of my girls was melting some chocolate for this next recipe and was burned by some steam. It was a slightly traumatic event and halted all progress until we could tend to her burn appropriately. Thankfully she only ended up with a couple tiny blisters. I can't stress enough how important it is to be careful in the kitchen, especially when you are using a double boiler method to melt chocolate.
Just a note - We started these and stored them undipped in the freezer overnight until we could dip them this morning. Then we placed them in the refrigerator.
 

Oreo Cookie Balls 

 
Ingredients:
1 pkg (8 oz) Cream Cheese
36 oreos (finely crushed)
12 oz white baking chocolate






We found it best to put the cookies in a Ziploc bag before we began
crushing them. This kept the workspace practically "crumb free."
Directions:
1. Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended
2. Shape into 48 (1") balls
3. Freeze for 10 minutes
4. Dip oreo balls into the melted chocolate
5. Place in single layer on waxed paper to dry
6. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Keep refrigerated

Don't worry if the mixture is very thick. You want it to be that way. That will allow it to roll up nicely and stay together for you to dip in the white chocolate!

video
 
Chocolate Covered Pretzels



Ingredients:
Baking Chocolate
Pretzel rods
 
Directions:
1. Break up baking chocolate and place in a mason jar
2. Melt in microwave until smooth stirring often - 1 minute intervals
3. Jar may be hot, use hot pads to remove
4. Dip pretzel rods almost entirely in chocolate
5. Place on wax paper to cool
6. Decorate if desired.
    
Puppy Chow

Ingredients:
9 cups Chex cereal (your choice)
1 cup semi sweet morsels (melted)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (melted)
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1-2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:
1. Measure cereal in a large bowl (set aside)
2. Microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter for 1 minute on high
3. stir
4. Cook for 30 seconds longer or until smooth
5. Add vanilla
6. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until coated
7. Pour mixture into large Ziploc bag and add powdered sugar
8. Shake until coated well
9. Spread on waxed paper to cool
10. Store in Ziploc bags or large sealed container

Rolo Pretzel Delights

Ingredients:
1 pkg. small pretzel twists
1 pkg. Rolos
1 pkg. pecan halves

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350^
2. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil
3. Place one pretzel for each treat desired on prepared sheet
4. Top each pretzel with one unwrapped Rolo
5. Bake 3-5 minutes or until caramel piece begins to soften ----but not melt
6. Remove from oven
7. Top with either pecan half or additional pretzel
8. Cool completely

These are so wonderful! I remember as a little girl eating a tasty treat called Turtles. My mom would get them (in a tin) and I felt so special when she would share with me. For years turtles have been my favorite "special" treat. This is a fairly inexpensive substitute for the real thing. They are pretty close in taste to those yummy dollops of goodness too!

These are simple to make too. Just make sure that you don't leave them in the oven too long. If they start to melt, they will make a mess and you may not be able to use them.

I hope you have enjoyed day 2 of our cookie/treat preparation for Christmas. We have been having a blast making them all and sharing our recipes with you.

From my family to yours ~ Merry Christmas
      

 

http://www.iahe.net/

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Operation Cookie Day 1













After a short trip to the grocery store Operation Cookie Day started off with a bang!  The goal was to make all our cookies and treats in one day. That didn't happen! We were a bit over ambitious, we did however, make 6 different cookies/treats today that I will share some pictures and recipes of.
Here is our stock of supplies
for Christmas treats!
These may be empty now, but
they will be full soon!
 Tomorrow we will have to pick up where we left off see about completing our goal!

The first cookie on the list today was a new one for us. We had not only never made it before, but we had never even heard of this recipe before. We found it on SchoolhouseTeacher.com and I believe it has become our favorite. It is simple, tasty, and beautiful!  Feel free to check out my review of SchoolhouseTeacher.com, it is a wonderful resource for the homeschool household!



Cool Whip Cookie

Ingredients:
1 (18 1/4 oz) box cake mix - the flavor of your choice
1 (8 oz) containter Cool Whip - thawed
1 egg

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl
2. Form into balls
3. Roll in confectioner's sugar
4. Bake @ 350^ for 10-12 minutes
5. Cool in pan for a few minutes before removing

This was the simplest cookie ever! We made with both chocolate and yellow cake mixes. I am looking forward to trying this cookie again with some more creative cake mixes!  :-)  Can't wait!

 
Here's a little video of one of my girls hard at work!

video


Pineapple Coconut Snowballs

Ingredients:
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese - softened
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple - drained
2 1/2 cups flaked coconut - sweetened

Directions:
1. When you drain the pineapple make sure that you remove any excess juice. I put it on a paper towel and dried it out before using it.
2. In a small bowl beat the cream cheese and pineapple together until thoroughly mixed.
3. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Roll into 1" balls.
5. Roll in coconut.
6. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

This too was a simple and yummy recipe. I have one daughter that has a bit of a cooking handicap and burns everything, so this was a great one to have her work on. No cooking needed!

 Okay, this next tasty treat is not a cookie. It isn't even a traditional treat.....but we thought we would give it a try! Let me just say this.....this recipe should be followed pretty much to the tee! I usually don't make it a habit of following recipes very closely, but as my pictures will reveal.....this one is one to follow precisely!  Now listen, you will laugh when you see the recipe that I'm talking about. You may think, hmmmm....she just must not know what she's doing. Don't be fooled by this seemingly simple recipe. It didn't turn out well with my first attempt, but if you follow it precisely, you will have a beautifully yummy treat.

Chocolate Covered Grapes

Ingredients:
1 bunch seedless grapes
4 oz Milk Chocolate baking chips
4 oz Semi Sweet baking chips
2 TBS shortening

Be sure the grapes are thoroughly dry before dipping in the chocolate mixture. Moisture will cause the chocolate to seize.

When you do it wrong, it will look
a little like this!! :-)
Directions:
1. Wash grapes. Drain thoroughly on paper towels for several hours. Line cookie sheet with waxed paper. Set aside.
2. In a small saucepan combine the milk chocolate, semi sweet chocolate and shortening. Heat and stir over low/med heat until chocolate is melted. Holding grape bunch by the stem, dip grapes partially into melted chocolate. If necessary, spoon chocolate over grapes to coat. Let excess drip off. Place grapes stem side up on prepared cookie sheet.
3. Chill until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes or up to 6 hours.

First, let me say this picture cracks me up! I asked one of my girls to take them out of the refrigerator and take the picture for me!  Look how it is teetering on the edge of the counter precariously!!!!  SO FUNNY! Second, look how pretty!! ha ha!

This is all I will be sharing today! I don't want to overload you! Tomorrow is another day.....in fact it is another Cookie Day! I will share the recipes of the other three treats we made today in my next blog, so stay tuned!  Enjoy these recipes with your family and make sure to have fun while you make them.
 
From my family to yours - Merry Christmas!











Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review




<center><a href="http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/schoolhouseteachers-com-review/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/2014TOSCREW/SchoolhouseTeachers/ST-Affiliate-300x300_zpsb38aa8ae.png" alt="SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review" border="0" /></a></center>
I am so excited to be a new member on the Schoolhouse Review Crew. So far I have loved it, and I am happy to be able to share the first project of the season with you.

The SchoolhouseTeachers.com. offers a Yearly Membership to their site, and that is what we received to review.

Right after signing onto the site, I was blown away by the resources available! There are so many options of wonderful classes available. My girls and I were so excited as we huddled around my computer and went through all the classes available to see what they would like to do. There were complete year courses like: Animal Science, Architecture, Biology, French, Geology, Guitar, Mock Trial, Pre-Algebra, and Music Theory, and more. They also have semester courses like: ASL, Botany, Creative Writing, Hands-on-Hebrew, Home Economics, Logic, Photography, Tinkers Club, Trigonometry, and more. You can also utilize these courses as fill in if you need something for unit studies to fit your homeschool needs. They also have several resources just for parents.  They truly have thought of everything! The website offers you over 100 courses taught by different teachers for you to use to fit your homeschool needs.

video


I love the fact that the membership is a family membership and there is not a "per member" charge. That way with one low rate the entire family can get the most out of the site as possible! It is packed full of opportunities.

When we decided to review this site, we went all in. I have one in Middle School and one in High School and they each picked a course to review. My younger daughter is going through the Pre-Algebra course and my older daughter is using the Creative Writing course. They love it. My daughter in Middle School has struggled with math for most of her life, and she is loving this curriculum. It is easy for her to understand, and I find her excited to get to work. We have also utilized the "Dailies" portion of the website with her. She uses the math facts section daily as a time test and is boosting her math facts skills everyday with pre-made worksheets right at her fingertips! They are easy to print and use. When you print a worksheet with SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the answers are included. They will either print on a separate sheet or at the very bottom corner of the page! How great is that!

My older daughter loves to write and is working on her first paper for Creative Writing. She can't stop talking about it. The lessons are easy and fun. You go into the course and read the lesson and then do the classwork for each day. Even as I am writing this review she is in my office telling me about the characters in her story and what their names are! She is writing a fiction story (mystery/thriller) and I know it will be great when she is done. I love it! This is what school at home should be like!

I personally decided to use the menu option in the Dailies section. There is a recipe for everyday of the year. Now granted, the recipes aren't all main dishes....they mix it up a little bit so you can try something new each day, whether that is a main dish, side dish, or dessert! In fact, I used one of the cookie recipes just the other day. We made "Cool Whip Cookies" and yes, they are great! They are simple and easy to make, and completely yummy!

SchoolhouseTeachers.com also offers a Facebook page where you can get ideas from others homeschooling parents that use this site. You can also see how other parents are able to utilize the resources in this site in creative ways in their homeschool. There is also  a Pinterest page where you can see all the wonderful ideas they share for your homeschool projects and curriculum! :-) You will want to check these pages out as well!

The cost for this unparalleled site is usually $139 for the whole year or $12.95 a month. But of course with the holiday season comes holiday savings, right!!?? So, with that being said, from now until Christmas Day you can get 40% off the monthly membership or 50% off the yearly membership. That means you can get this amazing full curriculum at your fingertips for only $7.77 a month. If you'd rather pay by the year you only pay $64.26. On top of that, you can keep that rate for life as long as you stay a member of the site. It will never go up!
STC Christmas email header

I personally love this site! You are able to pick and choose what you would like to do. You can use this as your core curriculum or use it in addition to whatever you have been using.  It is very easy to navigate the website and the options are limited only by you.  Like I said, I have enjoyed using this site, but what is more important.....or even most important is that my girls have loved it too! 
That makes for a Happy Homeschool Day!




http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/schoolhouseteachers-com-review/
 
 http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/schoolhouseteachers-com-review/http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/schoolhouseteachers-com-review/

Christmas Shopping!!


Christmas shopping is something that I usually get done way before now, but this year it didn't happen that way. So 2 of my 3 girls and I headed out yesterday with our Christmas lists in hand and a plan to get our shopping done in one day!  Yes, we were a bit hopeful, but we managed to get done and in record time!

I remember when my girls were little and getting through a store especially at Christmas time was difficult at best, but now my girls are almost grown and shopping is different now. Well, in all honesty, life is different.

One of my very wise friends made it a point to tell me to embrace every age that they are in, and live in the moment. I thank God every day for my friend and her very wise advice. I love this stage of life, and the one that came directly before it, and I know that I will love the one that comes directly after this one. I look at these young ladies that are forming right in front of my eyes and I know that I am blessed by God. Don't get me wrong, every stage of life has it's hardships, but every stage also has it's blessings. The blessings are what I choose to focus on.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I hate to shop....but not yesterday. Yesterday might have been one of my favorite days of the year so far. We ran into grumpy shoppers, we got our fair share of dirty looks, and cart bumps from the stressed out Christmas shoppers we shared our day with, but for us it was wonderful! We were together, singing Christmas Carols and worship songs focused on others. Yep! It was a great day!


Oh, by the way!!!!!  We also tried something new! These will be ornaments that we can gift. I will let you know how it turns out.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 12, 2014

Fred Hammond - I Will Trust

A Family Christian CD Review
 I Will Trust
RCA Inspiration
Release date Nov. 17, 2014
 
 
 
Wow!
 
This CD is amazing! From start to finish you will find yourself ushered into the presence of God. You can't help but worship God as listen. It is packed to the brim with impacting lyrics, inventive arrangements, rich singing and amazing musicianship.
 
The opening song, Festival of Praise, kicks this CD off with a bang! The energy is electric and that same honest electricity continues through the CD to the end!
 
The title track, I Will Trust, features vocals from BreeAnn Hammond, Fred Hammond's daughter. This song is easy for any of us to relate to. It talks about struggles of life that we face everyday, and emphasizes the need to trust in the Name of the Lord and place everything in God's hands! I love that his daughter was singing with him. She too has a beautiful voice and they sound wonderful together. I can see why this is the title song!
 
The songs range in style from reggae & electro-pop, to Brazillian & ballad, and left me basking in an atmosphere of praise and worship. Regardless of the song's style, Hammond masterfully relays his message, which is how much he loves Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. This is a worship service in CD form, and will only add to your personal time with God.

Take this CD in the car on a road trip and it will be an instant hit! It had my daughters and I dancing around the kitchen as we listened. If you love God, you will love this CD!

Follow this link to Lifeway Christian Stores and you can sample the tracks and see for yourself how great this collection of songs is. You will be blown away as you enjoy this collection of songs put together by Fred Hammond.

Bottom Line:
I was not ready for the CD to be over. I could have listened all day!
This would make a wonderful gift for someone. Everyone in my family loved it, and we found ourselves singing along even though we were hearing the songs for the first time.


Fred Hammond - I Will Trust CD is on sale now for $9.97, regularly $13.99 at Family Christian Stores. Pick up your copy today! You will be so glad you did!
 
Stay current on coupons and sales:
Stay in touch with all Family Christian has to offer by visiting their Facebook Page
 
Many thanks to Family Christian Stores. These opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.
I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this honest review and post.
 


10 Things for Teen Girls

 
[A Family Christian Book Review]
 
 
I have to be honest and say that when I saw this book, 10 Things for Teen Girls, by Kate Conner I was so excited to get a chance to review it! You see, I am the mother of three girls who are 20, 16, and 13, and mothers of teen girls will tell you that they deal with a special set of issues. Girls are unique and beautiful, and quirky and bold and scared all at the same time, all the while .....dare I say it????....sometimes overly sensitive.

Although this book is not what I expected, it is full of wit and wisdom for girls.

"Modesty is about choosing clothes that intentionally communicate
what you want the world to know about you."
 
"Modesty allows people to see the rest of you -
the best of you."
 
"Drama is an idle preoccupation, a cheap version of that which you really want,
which is to live passionately on purpose."
 
"If you are starving for validation and simulation, you are a drama-risk." 



She talks about topics like, modesty, self-worth, self-image, social media pitfalls, drama, and much more! Although all these topics would be great for teen girls and should be discussed, I feel the voice of the book is written with a point of view that I wouldn't want my thirteen or even my sixteen year old daughter to read.  I feel that this book's target audience should be High School graduates and college students.

Chapter 1: Neon Purple Leggings (Page 4)
"Boys like breasts. As it turns out, they also like other various girl body parts including, but not limited to: stomachs, lips, hair, necks, thighs, calves, feet, hips, backs, shoulders, elbows, ear lobes, and pinky toes.
Boys aren't weird or obsessive, they're just smart. Girl's bodies are beautiful."
(Page 6)
"A man's desire to look at your body does not make him disrespectful; it makes him a man. It is just as unfair to say "Every man who gapes at women is a creep," as it is to say "Every woman who has big breasts is easy," or "Every woman who wears makeup is vain." It is categorically untrue."
(Page 19)
She goes on to say: "All attention is not equal...You thing you want attention, but you don't. You want respect."

In reading the book I understand the heart of the book. The desire is for teen girls to be content and happy in their own skin. To understand that God made them unique and special and wonderful and different from anyone else in their peer group......and that is OKAY! This book is written "over the head" of young teens with the voice of intentional alarmism. I say that to say, Kate Conner, seems to write in a manner to try to capture your attention by going against the grain and riding the line on acceptability. Although I don't feel this book suits younger teens, I do believe this book  would make a perfect gift for a girl on her way to college!

Special Features:

This book has a section at the end of each chapter entitled: Think It Through, Talk It Out.
There are questions here to talk about with your teen. I believe these are critical if you have gotten this book for your teen. I believe that the topics in this book are essential for your child to discuss with you as a parent and hear you as a parent speak Godly truth on. This book can be a starting point for you to discuss some otherwise hard topics to discuss.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

10 Things for Teen Girls can be purchased at Family Christian Stores for $14.99 and if you hurry, it will still make it for Christmas.

Stay current on coupons and sales:
Stay in touch with all Family Christian has to offer by visiting their Facebook Page
 
Many thanks to Family Christian Stores. These opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this honest review and post.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Morning Devotions

Morning devotions are critical to my life, and I have to say that they have been a struggle for me from time to time. Maybe some of you can relate to me when I say that there are times that as soon as you open your eyes, things draw your attention away from quiet and into the chaos of the day that seemed to be waiting for you while you slept. It is important to fight through those rough patches and be faithful in your time with God. He is faithful to never leave us and never forsake us, and He always has something to say to us if we take the time to listen.

This morning I was reading in my "The Power of a Praying Woman Bible" in Amos and the devotion was to pray for Godly friends. Amos 3:3 says "Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?"

It is important to have people in your life that help you walk through life. The author (Stormie Omartian) does a great job of showing the different areas of friendship, with scripture references to back it up. I wanted to share my devotion with you today.

A desirable friend tells you the truth in love. "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." Proverbs 27:6
A desirable friend gives you sound advice. "Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel." Proverbs 27:9
A desirable friend helps you grow in wisdom. "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." Proverbs 13:20
A desirable friend stays close to you. "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24
A desirable friend loves you and stands by you. "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17
A desirable friend helps in time of trouble. "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up!" Ecclesiastics 4:9-10

These are some great verses to remember and put in to practice in our lives. Are we a desirable friend to those around us? It is important for us to look inside ourselves and make sure that we have the fruit in us of being a Godly friend. Are we growing in God and able to speak with wisdom when one of our friends is having a hard time?
Also, have we added friends to our lives that can help us grow in grace and wisdom as we pursue God? This too is important. The people that we seek out when we are going through something hard should be people that will tell us the truth in love.

Here are some signs of undesirable friends.

An undesirable friend is immoral and has no regard for others. "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral, or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." I Corinthians 5:11
An undesirable friend is changeable and unstable. "Do not join with the rebellious, for those two [the Lord and the king] will send sudden destruction upon them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?" Proverbs 24:21-22
An undesirable friend in frequently angry. "Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared." Proverbs 22:24-25
An undesirable friend gives ungodly counsel. "Blessed is he man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers." Psalm 1:1
An undesirable friend is irreverent toward God and His laws. "I am a friend to all who fear you , to all who follow your precepts." Psalm 119:63

Pray for Godly friends in your life that can help you grow and become who God needs you to be.
Thank you Stormie Omartian for this wonderful reminder.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Disrespectful Shoe

Being the mother of three girls I can tell you that there are times that my house has been a little emotional to say the least and at most I could liken some moments to a nuclear power plant in those critical moments right before it explodes leaving a fallout of catastrophic proportions. How many of you understand what I'm talking about?

I only mention it because we had one of those unstable moments that can lead to all out melt down today. One of my daughters left her shoes downstairs in the middle of the living room. Then without a word another one of my daughters picks up the shoes and throws them upstairs right at her sister's door.

I know what you might be thinking..... On one hand you want to give her credit and say "Way to go! Thank you for picking up after your sister. You got the job done!" There could be worse things than tossing a shoe to her sister, right?! On the other hand there was so much attitude in the shoe toss that it snatched my thoughts immediately from what I was working on and focused me on the moment at hand.

I would say that in our house the biggest key to keeping things peaceful and mostly harmonious is respect. As I witnessed my daughter muttering things under her breath while hurling a shoe (at a high rate of speed might I add) in the direction of her sister's location while making a snarly face does not qualify as respect.

 
I'm sure parents everywhere would agree with me that they wish that their kids were always behaving like this picture represents. My girls are intelligent, funny and hard working. We have laughed together, cried together, played together, and worked together. They are by far the biggest blessing my guy and I have in our lives. I think I can speak for all you moms and dads out there when I say, It is not always like this!
 
I have been witness to a lesser act of "sister on sister violence" turn into an all out frenzy, but not today! My guy and I have spent everyday for almost 21 years saying the same thing.....I know all you parents out there feel the same way. I am not saying this to give us credit for this moment of victory, I do give all the glory to God for this one. He gave us His Word which has been our source of wisdom when we felt we were lacking.
 
Our go to verse in these moments is: Luke 6:31(NIV)  Do to others as you would have them do to you. I grew up with three brothers and we heard this verse A LOT!  Come on......we all heard some version of this verse. "Treat people the way you want to be treated," that is probably the most common version. I have heard it a lot, and I have said it a lot!
 
What a simple verse!! In all it's simplicity, what makes it so difficult to actually walk out? What is it that causes us to react however we want to situations, or to seek our own vengeance? What is it that makes us feel like we have the right to throw a couple of shoes like a heat seeking missile directly toward one of our loved ones?
 
Kids aren't the only ones that don't always treat others the way they want to be treated....right? You don't have to look too hard to see that our society has a problem with respect. We can make a difference though. It is up to us to speak up for what is right and to love with the love of Jesus. We should be quick to love and quick to forgive. We should shine the light of Jesus wherever we go.
 
Today, right on the heels of this "Hulk-Smash" moment, my daughter went and apologized. I am thankful for that. Thankful that 21 years of speaking the truth of God's Word makes a difference.
 
God's Word will always make a difference!!
 



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Favorite Day of the Year



Think about your favorite day......For me, there is not much competition. I don't even have to think about which day I label as "Number 1." I have one day that tops all the rest. It is the day I think about all year long, and start planning for months in advance. Sometimes, I love the prep time for it almost as much as the day itself!! I said sometimes, because who really likes to dust all the places that you forgot collect dust?  There may be several of you out there that enjoy that, but me.....not so much.  This year I got new curtains for my kitchen during this prep period because when I put them in the washer to clean them up a bit, they sort of disintegrated. All I was left with was blue fuzz......but since those had hung there for over 10 years, I believe I was due some new curtains!  *smirk*

I happen to be the only girl in a family of brothers and I love that!  Some of you may understand what I am talking about. I have one older brother and two younger brothers. So basically, growing up, I had a protector/cohort and two live baby dolls. My older brother and I got into all sorts of trouble together. WAIT!!  Did I really say that. No, we were perfect angels and we didn't cause our parents to wonder why they had ever decided to procreate at all!!!  Ha ha ha!  I jest!! 

My two younger brothers were a blast. Each one so different from each other, yet in need of a big sister to hug, love and hold them!   I was six and then thirteen when they were born and I loved the role of big sister, and still do. I remember reading for hours to them, or taking them on long bike rides to help them get to sleep, or wrestling! (Face it....There is nothing like a sibling wrestling match!!) We grew up pretty close knit and one of the hardest things for me is that all of us live in different areas of the country and we don't get to see each other very often.

Which brings me to the best day of the whole year, Thanksgiving! It has been my honor for several years now, to host our family Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration (Thanksmas....as we call it). It is the one day that we all come together in one place and catch up face to face. I feel so content when my entire family is in one place. My house becomes full of chatter, children, food, laughter and the best thing of all.....FAMILY!

Through the entire day, every year,  I feel like I can't stop smiling! The realization of this long-awaited day has arrived and I have learned to breath in those moments. You see, when I first started hosting this celebration I was concerned about the place settings, the decorations, the food being perfect, the clean up. I loved my family being there, but I probably didn't take the time to let them know just how much it meant to me.

This year was a little different. We ate buffet style on paper plates, and I believe that this was the best celebration yet. Our focus was on each other and making every moment count. When you think about the news headlines that have been bombarding our TV screens, I find myself thankful for the love of a family.
Ephesians 5:16 says - "These are evil times, so make every minute count."

Every day, not just during this holiday season, make every minute count! Take time to share the love of Jesus in everything that you do, and not just with your family....with everyone around you! That will make this a Christmas to remember!

The 3 Girls, My Guy, and I  (and the 3 pups)
hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and
wish you a very Merry Christmas!






Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cranberry Christmas - A Book Review


Cranberry Christmas from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine may be a short book but that doesn't hold it back any. This little treasure is packed full of holiday traditions, recipes, history, stories, decoration ideas, and a few poems! Yes! This book is full of heart!

I enjoyed this book from the word "Go!" As a lover of all things historical, I truly enjoyed the bits of history intertwined throughout the beautifully written stories.  Did you know that the cranberry used to be called a craneberry? Or maybe you know what grapes, blueberries, and cranberries have in common?  We found out that they are some of the only fruits that are native to the North America. Well, this and more can be learned as you read through the pages of Cranberry Christmas.

Ever year I host our family Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration that we have affectionately deemed "Thanksmas." There are printable pages for napkin rings and placecards that will be a part of this year's celebration thanks to this lovely book. My girls and I enjoyed  the time we spent together creating place settings for our holiday table. As we created our "masterpieces," we had the opportunity to talk about the stories included in the book. These stories are easy to relate to and fun to read at any age.

The recipes in Cranberry Christmas are simple and delicious. With Thanksmas just around the corner, I have picked my favorite recipes to try out on the family. Not only will my table be absolutely beautiful, I will now be able to serve some delicious cranberry treats that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to. My absolute favorite recipe that we tried was the Colorful Slaw with Cranberries. Not only is it simple to make, it is delicious and absolutely beautiful.

It is a cinch to use this book as a unit study during the holiday season. There is something for every age. If you have elementary age children the poems and stories can be used as copy work or memory work. I found the recipes and printable resources useful when it came to my teenagers. They love both projects and cooking, so this gave us the tools necessary to prep for our holiday celebration. We also enjoyed the games inside, who doesn't enjoy a holiday word find now and then? Cranberry Christmas also goes into some detail describing how this versatile fruit is harvested, and gives a lot of ideas for hands on projects to reinforce the learning process. Cranberries can be used to dye cloth, make homemade paper, color food naturally and much more.

The most beautiful thing we created after reading this book was the Cranberry Garland. It takes a little time, but is completely worth it. Since we have dogs that were interested in making it an afternoon snack for themselves, we will use it as a centerpiece on the table instead of garland on the tree!

The thing I love the most about this book is the way that God's love shines through the pages. Not only did the author make sure to give glory to the creator of this bouncy fruit through the historical information, but the short stories show the love of God and the true reason we celebrate the holidays.

I am confident that you will enjoy this book. There is something for every age and every stage in life.

This post is a review for Schoolhouse Review Crew.
Find more blogs here: www.SchoolhouseReviewCrew.com





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Road Rage Gone Wrong!


Have you ever met a negative person? I'm sure you have....we all have. You know what I'm talking about....the person that never has a good day, and only has negative things to say about absolutely everything. If we're going to be honest with ourselves, sometimes we have been that person! OUCH!!
 
Just the other day I had one of "those" days. You know what I'm talking about. It was a day that didn't go right from the moment I rolled out of bed. It began with a migraine that kept me from sleeping much that night. If that were it I would have been happy, but my computer wasn't working right, my dryer quit, my stomach was upset and horror of all horrors.....I realized I had a hole in my pants. As if that weren't enough, it seemed that as the day progressed, I met every person in the entire city that was in a bad mood! I wanted to stop the day so I could get off!!  Have you ever had anything like this happen to you?
Positive thinking is always greater than a negative mindset.

 It's days exactly like these that  put our patience to the test. It's days like this that we must remember that it is so important to remember the blessings in our lives.
One morning, when I was a young mom I had not quite learned this lesson. My first born was only three at the time and on this particular day I was on my way to her gymnastics class. It was an icy, cold and windy day and we had a 30 minute drive from our home in a little farm town in Illinois to class in the next town over. I was running a little behind and the roads were not in great shape. There was ice everywhere, and I knew that the going would be slow.  That is when I got behind the slowest driver around! For what seemed like an hour, I tried to with no success to get around the car in front of me. The longer I drove behind this vehicle the more angry I became! When I finally was able to swing my car out into the other lane to pass the car once and for all, I was in a complete state of "road rage." I wanted the driver to know how disgusted I was at their inability to drive their car appropriately. When I pulled alongside the driver and looked into the vehicle, I noticed that it was my Great Aunt in the car.  What?! My aunt.....ugh....
I knew a few things about my aunt. I knew that she was elderly. I knew that she had health issues of her own. I knew that she traveled weekly to the nursing home to read to the residents that could no longer read for themselves. I also knew that the book of choice was the Bible. Oh how I wanted to take it all back. All the rage, all frustration, all the looks and sighs that had filled the car ride!
Talk about a wake up call!
I can honestly tell you that this moment fixed my road rage problem once and for all!
 
Philippians 4:8 says: "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
 
It is up to you what you think about. Choose to ponder this verse, but better yet....choose to put it into practice in your life! You'll be very glad you did! (You will be especially glad if this story saves you from making nasty faces at your sweet aunt.)




Friday, November 14, 2014

Sisters

My girls
Not a day goes by that I don't find a reason to be thankful for my family! I am a mom of three girls ages: 20, 16 and 13, and everyday I feel truly blessed that God has entrusted them to me! I am one proud momma! 
Although the word sister is a common part of my life now, I grew up with not one, but three brothers.... and NO sisters.  I often wondered when I was younger what it would be like to have a sister. As I got older I always listened closely when people talked about their relationship with their sisters. I've heard ladies talk about the bond they have with their sisters....about sharing clothes, shoes and purses. About how sisters stay up all night talking, getting advice, giving advice, and how your sister can know you so well she finishes your sentences for , and I couldn't help but feel like I was missing out. Although I have great relationships with my brothers, it isn't the same as having sisters. Those of you with sisters are probably nodding your head right now!
Sisterly Love

I had the honor to spend several hours with some ladies from my church family. I love these sweet ladies and our time together!  We talk, we laugh, we swap stories and recipes, and share wonderful ideas with each other. Our times together are so special to me! Some of you may understand exactly what I'm talking about....
Tonight all the ladies from church were invited to meet at a local restaurant and eat dinner together. After we ate a great dinner, one of the ladies shared her testimony. She shared with honesty and vulnerability about the transformation that God did in her life, and it moved me. I wasn't moved just by her words, but by the fact that she trusted us enough to share it.
After she spoke, we all took turns sharing what we were thankful for, and as each person took their turn she shared with the same type of honesty and vulnerability....that is when I realized that God has blessed me with a room full of sisters! How exciting!
All of us ladies have different backgrounds and histories. Some were raised in church and some were not. Some have children and some do not. Some are married and some are not. Some have sisters......some do not. But tonight, the common denominator was our relationship with Jesus and the fact that He saved our souls. That was the common starting point and in that we were forever connected. God saw to it in His perfect plan, to bring us all together and placed us in a family of sisters!
As I think about my evening with my sisters I can't help but smile. Each one is different in her own right, and amazingly beautiful with a wonderful story to share, and I am blessed with the opportunity to glean biblical truths and practical lessons from these ladies I call sister!

Me and two of my sweet girls