Saturday, December 31, 2011

A new year...

A new year begins tomorrow...

full of promise...

free from mistakes...(at least so far!)

full of possibilities...

a blank calendar full of 
365 days 
of opportunities 
to live, laugh, love 
and enjoy 
every moment...

image courtesy of jscreationsz at

full of occasions 
to share your faith...

to pray...

to grow...

to believe...

to forgive...

to turn around...

to come back...

A year of great potential for new beginnings...

See the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.
Isaiah 42:9

And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 

Revelation 21:5 ESV

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Our Christmas Eve Tradition...

Ever since Precious Girl was little, my husband and I wanted to set our own family traditions at Christmas.

Every Christmas Eve, before the Christmas Eve Service, our family packs into the car and drives to the National Christmas Center in Paradise, PA. (Here's a link to their website!) They have beautiful displays of Christmas celebrations from around the world. We really enjoy looking at the different traditions. The wax figures are amazingly lifelike! This year, we'll be looking for Baboushka from Russia - we just read a Russian folk tale about her from Story of the World.

This museum also hosts an amazing collection of antique Christmas ornaments. It always amuses my kids that some of the ornaments and toys that my hubby and I remember from our childhoods have already made it into the museum...(and, no, I'm not that old...). Does anyone else remember those Christmas Lights that bubbled???

But our favorite part, by far, is the journey to Bethlehem. At the end of our tour, we walk a road to Bethlehem, just like Mary and Joseph walked. We get to hear the edict by Caesar Augustus in Latin, and see what a home and a marketplace would have looked like. We hear an innkeeper tell us, in Aramaic, that his inn is full. And then, just after we pass the tools of a carpenter, we end up in the stable with lifelike wax figures of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.

I am always moved to tears by the beautiful simplicity of that setting.

There were no twinkling lights, no wrapped presents or Christmas Trees, but it is perfect in its simplicity. Jesus came quietly into the world in the humblest of settings, a manger for his first bed, surrounded by his loving parents.

God came to Earth on Christmas.

Every year I am reminded that this first Christmas gift, 
a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, is the only gift I need.

Merry Christmas!

Final Christmas Reading 12/23/11...

Christmas is just 2 days away, and this will be the last Christmas Reading that I will post. I've really enjoyed spending time in God's word with my family - learning more about who Jesus is.

Today we will finish in the book of Colossians. Here Paul tells us that Jesus is the image of God who existed before the world began. Paul words read like a hymn of praise to the supremacy of Jesus Christ. When you read Paul's words, allow your heart to sing along.

Colossians 1: 15 - 20 (link here)

It is my prayer that your eyes would be fixed on Jesus this Christmas.

God bless,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jesus is calling...

Jesus is calling...
do you hear Him?

image courtesy of Frederico Stevanin

He's calling you away from the wrapping, shopping and baking...
He's calling you to his presence...
not your presents.

image courtesy of Naito8 at

He wants to fill you with His peace today to keep you from going to pieces.

Are there quiet moments in your day?
He's waiting.

Precious one, he wants to take you by the hand and lead you to green pastures and beside still waters to a place where your soul can be refreshed.

image courtesy of Dan

Seek His face as you order your day...

Abide in Him as you make your plans...

Rest in Him in full confidence that 
He will never leave your side...

He's calling you...
Can you hear Him?

image courtesy of Frederico Stevanin

His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Nothing you have done will surprise Him...
or repulse Him...

He loved you from the beginning of everything...

image courtesy of bulldogza

You are His child. 

His precious creation. 

Created for a purpose, created with more love than you or I can ever imagine.

He's waiting for you...

Linking up:

Christmas Reading 12/22/11...

Today's reading contains some of my favorite verses...

John 1: 1 - 18
(link here)

Perhaps it is because I have a writer's heart, but knowing that Jesus is The Word, speaks to me in a way I can't quite explain.

John's Gospel begins by telling us that Jesus is the embodiment of God's presence with us, his people.

Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us.

Jesus is the word made flesh.

In him was life, and that life was the light of men... (John 1: 4)

Image Courtesy of Dan


Reading Plan taken from The Family Reading Bible by Zondervan.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Very Crafty Christmas Project #3...

Welcome back for Project #3 in A Very Crafty Christmas!!

If you're like me, you are long on ideas but short on funds and time to do them. This next project is a bit more complicated than the others, but well worth the extra effort! And, it is still a very inexpensive craft. 

Without further ado...

Project #3...
Fabulous Picture Frames!!!

These super-cute frames are just ordinary wooden frames from A.C. Moore spruced up with a bit of scrapbooking paper and, you guessed it, Mod Podge!

Here's what you need to get started:
Plain wooden frame (I used one with a 4X6 opening, but they can be any size)
Paint brush
Mod Podge for Paper (I really should get an endorsement deal or something for all these plugs!!)
Bone folder
Scrapbooking paper
Sanding Block

1. Trace your frame onto the BACK of the paper, leaving a bit of a "margin"(use your ruler to determine the thickness of the sides) - this extra should be enough to wrap around the sides of your frame to make it look super cute from the side.

2. Measure the "margin" you need to cover the inside edge of the frame as well - that way no wood will show around the picture.
3. Cut the outside edges of the paper. Using a paper cutter makes it very easy to get straight cuts!

4. Cut the middle out of your paper. REMEMBER: use your "margin" line, NOT the frame line.
5. Using a small scissors, cut a diagonal line from the corner of your margin line to the corner of the frame line. This will make it simple to miter the corners of your frame, making it look neat and tidy!

6. Use the bone folder and a ruler to score the edges so they crease right around your frame. (Sorry, this was a two-handed step, I don't have any pics of this!)
7. Lay your frame inside the folded edges to check the fit. Adjust the folds if necessary.
8. Apply mod podge to the wrong side of the paper, and then carefully lay your frame on top. Fold the edges around the sides of your frame, being careful to neatly fold the mitered corners.

9. Let the mod podge dry as directed on the bottle.

10. Sand away any excess paper on the inside and outside edges of your frame.

11. Apply a few coats of Mod Podge to the newly-covered frame to protect it. (let dry in between coats!)

12. Add your favorite pic and enjoy!

You can use the paper you cut from the middle of the frame to make a cute gift tag.


Happy Crafting, everyone!

Christmas Reading 12/21/11...

The Magi are mysterious to me. I've wondered who they were and what they thought they'd find for as long as I can remember. Were they followers of God in a distant land? Did they become followers after they met God's son?

This passage in the Bible always reminds me just how big my God is. He can put a star in the sky that is so amazing that it calls men from faraway lands to find out what it means.

Photo courtesy of Rawich,

As you read Matthew 2: 1 - 18 (link here) today, join with me in worship of the God of Wonders!

Blessings to you today!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Merry "little" Christmas...

I have that nagging pain in my lower back again...

Maybe you have one of those little "reminders" too? You know, the pain that is brought on by stress...

...self-inflicted stress??

As I spent time with God this weekend, I heard him tell me to "scale back" my to-do list.


Image Courtesy of Rawich, Free Digital

I had a million excuses reasons why I couldn't shouldn't would rather not...

But God, I've only baked Molasses Cookies...You know I always bake dozens of cookies and give them to people on beautifully decorated plates...
He said, "but you had a wonderful time baking Molasses Cookies with your husband"...
Yes, but, I didn't make any hand-made Christmas Cards or gift tags...Truth be told, I haven't even sent any store bought cards...
He said, "but you sat and watched a movie with Little One today"... 
Yes, but, I...
and then it hit me...
Oh dear, I've really become enslaved to my to-do list again, haven't I?
Image courtesy of Naito8, Free Digital
Let's face it, perfectly-wrapped presents and dozens of cookies on pretty plates are nice, but they have nothing to do with Jesus. God wants us to celebrate the birth of His Son, and share that Good News with a dark world.

So when did it become about cookies, cards and the billion other things we've made Christmas about? I got so focused on making this a wonderfully memorable season of preparation for Christmas, that I forgot to seize opportunities to make memories...

So, I'll scale back....And I'll delight in imperfectly wrapped presents, Christmas Carols a little off key, cookie crumbs on every surface...

...but most of all, I'll remember this Christmas as the one that freed me from my own expectations.

Linking up:

Chatting at the Sky

Christmas Reading 12/20/11

Christmas is coming!

I think I am more excited this year than ever before. We've deliberately scaled back so that we can focus more on the birth of our Savior. It's exciting that all of my kids (ages 3 - 11) are old enough to understand what the birth of Jesus means for them. Little One is very excited to celebrate Jesus' "burffday" on Sunday. Little Man commented how cool it is that on Jesus' birthday WE get presents.

In today's reading, Mary is visited by an angel and told that she will bear God's son. Just imagine, for a moment, that you are Mary...

Out of nowhere, an angel appears and tells you that, although you are a virgin, you will become pregnant and bear a son. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High." (Luke 1: 32)

Mary's humility and submission is beautiful. "I am the Lord's servant...May it be to me as you have said."

May we all model that kind of unquestioning obedience to God!

A link to the text is here: Luke 2: 1 - 20

This reading plan is taken from the Family Reading Bible by Zondervan.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Out of the mouths of babes...

For the past several years at Christmas, our family has written or drawn (depending on the age of the child) "What Christmas Means to Me." 

This year was Little One's first time to re-tell the Christmas Story during school time. She told a hilarious version with her window clings, but we worked on some of the details since then. (Funny version here.) My eyes filled with tears as I looked at her pictures and saw evidence of her growing faith. 

As I looked over her shoulder as she drew (she told me what to write, she's only 3 1/2), I was reminded of the command in Deuteronomy 6: 6 - 8.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 

I'm so thankful as a homeschooling mom that I have the opportunity to speak truth (directly from God's word) to my children all day long. I feel very blessed when I see those very truths take root, blossom and bear fruit.

Have a blessed Monday!

Christmas Reading 12/19/11

Matthew 1: 18 - 25

Today the reading is about the dream of Joseph. He was understandably upset to find out his betrothed was pregnant and it took an angelic visitor to convince him that Mary was truly carrying a child of the Holy Spirit.

Now, as Christmas is just a few days away, I am caught up in the wonder of what it would have been like to be Mary and Joseph in that little stable, far from home, when Jesus entered the world. I am so glad that he did!

Have a wonderful Monday!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Reading 12/16/11

Today's reading foretells the birth of Jesus. It is found in Luke 1: 26 - 56.

I don't know about you, but my heart always beats a bit faster when I get to this part of the Christmas story. I've often wondered what it would have been like to be Mary and have an angel of the Lord give you unbelievable news...would I have been as humble and submitted to the Lord's will?

The reason these Bible readings still thrill us today is that they are our story. These are the stories that our children will grow up reading and knowing and then pass on to their children. God's word is so awesome!

Remember ...

"For nothing is impossible with God."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dark Chocolate Mint Pretzels...

Tired of all the same old Christmas Cookies? Here's something a little different...

Dark Chocolate Mint Pretzel Chips

Thanks to Precious Girl for the awesome pictures!!

These are super easy and VERY tasty...They'd make a really neat hostess or teacher gift!

Here is what you need to get started:
Candy Canes 
Pretzel Chips
Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)
Double Boiler
Aluminum Foil
Whisk or Spatula

Put your candy canes in a small ziploc bag. 
(I used 5 for the amount of pretzels I made).

Have your super-cute assistant smash the candy canes using the bottom of a pan. (I decided that little man + hammer = danger)

This size pieces worked fairly well.

Assemble all of your ingredients and cover your work surface with aluminum foil.
(You'll need to move quickly once the chocolate is melted.)

Place the chocolate pieces in a double boiler...


Place a stainless steel bowl on top of a pot of boiling water. Be sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.

Melt the chocolate pieces and stir with your whisk or spatula. 

Remove the bowl from the heat.

Dip the pretzel pieces in the melted chocolate and place them on the aluminum foil. Then sprinkle the pretzels with the candy cane pieces. (Do this step in small batches so the chocolate doesn't set before you get the candy canes pieces on!)

Take them off the foil after the chocolate hardens (if you can wait that long)
and store them in an air-tight container.

Delicious and simple!

Linking up: 
Manger Mondays

and here:


Christmas Reading 12/15/11...

Only 10 days until Christmas! I sincerely hope you've enjoyed preparing your heart and mind for Christmas. Reading these Bible passages has certainly opened my eyes to the wonder surrounding the birth of our Savior.

Today's reading is from Luke 1: 5 - 25. This passage foretells the birth of John the Baptist, a special messenger. God used John to preach repentance so that people's hearts were prepared for the Good News that Jesus brought.

Happy Thursday!

This reading plan taken from the Family Reading Bible by Zondervan.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Very Crafty Christmas Project #2...

Welcome back for another easy and inexpensive Christmas Gift idea... I was going to wait until Friday to post this, but then I looked at the date...only 11 days 'till Christmas...Let's get crafting everyone!!! 

Project #2:

Photo Album

Supply List:
1 cheap Photo Album (Don't worry about what the cover looks like - you are going to cover it up anyway!!)
Mod Podge for Paper Matte Finish (this really does work better for paper and it costs the same as the other stuff)
A paintbrush or sponge brush to apply the Mod Podge
Scrapbooking papers and embellishments


1. Cut front cover paper to size. 
2. Brush the Mod Podge onto the back of the paper (be sure to get the edges!).
3. Gently place paper on the cover of the album.
4. Use your hand (or a rolling pin) to push out any bubbles from the center out to the edges.
5. Let the Mod Podge DRY!!! (Trust me! Impatience leads to ruin with this!)
6. Embellish to your liking. I added paper strips in a coordinating color. You could use ribbon, buttons...the possibilities are endless!!
7. Brush several coats of Mod Podge over top, letting dry between coats. This will protect the cover and really adhere it to the photo album.
8. Repeat the steps for the back cover!

There you have it, a beautiful, custom photo album ready to fill with pictures of your family!

More easy-peasy projects to come...

Linking up:


Christmas Reading 12/14/11

Today we will read more prophecy in the Old Testament about the birth of Jesus. In Micah 5: 1 - 5 we can read the prophecy that predicted Jesus' birth in Bethlehem.

Praise God with me that:

He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be their peace. (Micah 5: 4)

May the peace of Jesus be yours today!

Reading plan taken from the Family Reading Bible by Zondervan. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A little dove...

Christmas is a season of joyous celebration of our Savior's birth with family and friends. It is a season of joyful gatherings and hospitality. I love to decorate my home, to make it warm and inviting and I especially like to pull out my Christmas decorations each December. The tree is my favorite part - it fills my home not only with the wonderful scent of pine, but with a sense of anticipation and wonder.

This year my kids decorated the tree by themselves, and did a beautiful job! Little one was so excited and hung so many ornaments on one limb, they started to fall off. She patiently picked up the fallen ornaments and carefully put them back on until they all stayed. (I have to admit that I did fix this after they went to bed. I just couldn't stand to have 5 gold ornaments on one limb.)

my decorating crew

There is one ornament, though, that I hung by myself in the post-bedtime quiet. I needed to be alone when I put it on the tree. It has always been accompanied by many tears. 

This silver dove is a reminder of the tiny life we lost in 2007 - a precious baby gone before our arms ever got to hold her. The dove has long been a symbol of peace, but to me, it only stood for our loss and my grief.

This year was different. There were fewer tears shed as I hung it on the tree (near the top so I can see it). I was even able to smile a bit as I thought about celebrating Christmas in Heaven...

This year, I was able to have peace in my heart when that little dove was on the tree.

This year, I can look at it and smile in the reassurance that I will meet this little one my heart misses.

This year, I can remember, not with the pain of regret, but knowing "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for..."

This year, I can claim that his grace IS sufficient. I lived it, I know it.

It is well with my soul.