Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wrapping Up 2013

In 16 or so hours we will ring in 2014. I am ready. I love a new year, a fresh slate, a empty notebook full of blank pages to write a new story. And if I am honest, 2013 has been a year of growth. God's stretched me in ways that I am pretty sure I will feel for the rest of my life. I don't really feel the need to join a yoga class any time soon!

So as 2013 comes to a close, I want to give thanks for the things God allowed me to experience….

January- soul-friends Jason and Jaime Brewer and their sweet kids left us to live in PNG as aviation missionaries with JAARS/Wycliff. The first few months they were gone was brutal as we had little to no communication. Now, we communicate daily thanks to email and other modern technology. So thankful to have this connection. 

February- I tendered my resignation for the 2013-2014 school year. I loved teaching at KIDS Central but I am thrilled that God has allowed me this opportunity to stay at home! I am enjoying being more involved at church and ministry as time allows. I finished out the year strong with my first grade class and look forward to going back to teaching whenever God says it's time!

March- Our church hosted our annual Mission's conference. I am always moved and motivated during this time. This year's guest were so special and there were bonds made that will be eternal. Enjoyed a visit to GA to attend my sister's bridal shower. 

April- I had the opportunity to attend the Gideon's Pastor Appreciation Banquet with Bruce. What an awesome ministry and what a great work they are doing distributing God's Word around the world. It was impressive and also convicting to hear how many have received a copy of God's Word in their own language and to hear how great the need is still to reach the Bibleless nations. My sister got married so we made a quick trip to GA to celebrate with them.

May- We bought a new (used) car. We survived and finished school! The kids also tested for their BLUE belt in TKD.

June- We bought 2 acres of land…and this is like a dream come true. God has truly given me the desire of my heart. We're in the process of paying it off and hopefully 2014 we will break ground on our new home. We also hosted our annual VBS at church. Loved the outreach events and getting to see a long time friend, Joe Schmidt. 

July- Our family was on the road constantly in July….first camp for Savannah and Georgia for me. Crazy busy but good. My step dad had hip surgery so a friend and I went to help for a week. Fun…but exhausting!

August- We packed up again to head to Wyoming for a church missions trip. Great time of growth and outreach for our friends who pastor there. Fun time with our church family. Savannah turned 11 years old.

September- School started back! I started homeschooling both kids from home…first time ever! I've home schooled Savannah since kindergarten but it's been a very unconventional style. I'm liking this more traditional style. Enjoyed a quick visit with my sister. 

October- I survived blogging about all the beautiful things in my life. This was life changing as I have learned from my own life that some beautiful things come disguised and ugly, old and worn out! We hosted our annual fall festival at church and it was a huge success! God blessed as we ministered in our community.

November- Spent the month praising God for his goodness. Enjoyed a beautiful visit with my mom and step dad. A full house of church friends and family for Thanksgiving lunch. Loved it!

December- Filled to the brim with Christmas programs and events. All which I love. Many unfortunate deaths in our church family during this month, which certainly put the glorious HOPE that we have in Christ into perspective. 

What a year! Thanks God for all these gifts…and so many more!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Update on Christmas '13 Bucket List

I rarely reach my goals…either I aim too high, succumb to laziness, lose motivation or change my mind. But this Christmas was different. Bucket list kicked to the curb! I managed to achieve all the goals I had set! YAY!!!

Here's how:

1. Plan and prepare a no-stress Christmas meal.  I enlisted the help of Bruce to bake the ham and make Paula Deen's famous Lady Mac and Cheese. Debbie (SIL) and Jo (MIL) helped by bringing pink salad and broccoli and rice casserole. I made green bean roll ups, cornbread casserole and chocolate delight. Thanks to friends we also had enough candy and other holiday goodies to open our own candy store and thanks to Sister Schubert…we had yummy rolls. If you haven't met Sister Schubert….you are missing out. She lives at Walmart in the frozen food aisle. Go now and meet her.

2. Go Christmas Caroling This was something that I really really wanted to do. I've tried the last two years and because of illness it never came to pass. So…I called a couple of friends and made a list of a few people who I thought could use some holiday cheer and weren't too particular on pitch or musical accuracy. We loaded up our daughters and the seven of us went caroling. Next time I'll invite everyone…visit more people and make a big night of it. It was so much fun. 

3. Watch lots of Christmas movies with the family Thank you Hallmark Channel, Family Channel, Lifetime, ION, Up and various other networks who helped me achieve my goal. My DVR won't be clear of Christmas movies until July 4th.

4. Bake for the church staff I love these people. They are hard workers who deserve more than my baked goods. Lucky for me they are easy to please. Snickerdoodles, Ultimate cookie bars, pumpkin and heath candy bar muffins and raspberry bars….delivered just in time for Christmas. 

5. Make a few handmade gifts  For Christmas I made homemade napkins, a really pretty gift book for my mom, helped the kids make nativity blocks and a pillowcase. Nothing too exciting but I really enjoyed making them!

6. Buy less I bought less…and honestly I didn't like it. I love spoiling loved ones and friends at the holidays. But focusing more on the season allowed me to reach these goals and that was part of the success. So….I will buy less again next year if it means I have time, effort and energy to do the more important things.

7. Take a decent family Christmas photo  Thanks to my friend Felicia and the awesome Christmas program background scene at church, my family got a fantastic Christmas photo….it was like a Christmas miracle.

8. Read and meditate on a portion of the nativity story each day of December  one more day…but I have to say this was very instrumental in helping me get through the holiday season with the right frame of mind. We had 7 funerals within 2 weeks that Bruce and I had a part in. Most were people in our church. Broke my heart to see so much grief and sadness, but every single one of these families had the HOPE that is so clearly represented in the nativity story. What a gift at Christmas. 

9. Take my time in Walmart…ignore the long lines and just breathe  I did this….it was hard…but I just decided that at 10pm, when the crowd was smaller, I could be nice and happy and choose to not complain. And I actually enjoyed shopping!

I hope you accomplished all your holiday dreams and are ready to tackle the new year with your own Bucket List for 2014!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Pinterest Success Story

This recipe just might be my new favorite. It's a great alternative to your regular green bean casserole. But just about 1,000 times better. I made it at Thanksgiving and it was a big hit!

Green Bean Corn Casserole
Rating: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 10-12 servings
Serving Size: --
  • 3 cups buttery crackers (such as Ritz), crushed and divided in half
  • 2 14-ounce cans French-style green beans, drained
  • 1 14-ounce can shoe peg corn, drained
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 8-ounce container sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 stick melted butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Layer 1 1/2 cups of the crushed crackers in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle the green beans evenly over the crackers, followed by the corn and then the onion.
  4. Mix together the soup and sour cream. Spread over the green beans, corn and onions.
  5. Sprinkle the cheese over the soup mixture and then top with the remaining cracker crumbs. Drizzle the butter over the crumbs. At this point, you can refrigerate the casserole (covered) overnight or bake immediately.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly.

Thanks to www.live.charbroil.com for the yummy recipe! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas '13 Bucket List

1. Plan and prepare a no-stress Christmas meal.

2. Go Christmas Caroling

3. Watch lots of Christmas movies with the family

4. Bake for the church staff

5. Make a few handmade gifts

6. Buy less

7. Take a decent family Christmas photo

8. Read and meditate on a portion of the nativity story each day of December

9. Take my time in Walmart…ignore the long lines and just breathe

What's on your Christmas Bucket List this year?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

For the last few years I've been making my own cranberry sauce at the holidays. Now don't get me wrong, the slithery jelly goop that you shake from the end of an aluminum pan is enticing, I know, but the aroma of homemade cranberry sauce....oh my word.

Here's what you do:

You'll need:

1 bag of fresh whole cranberries
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar

That's the basic recipe ingredients. Now if you want to step it up a notch...and I assure you, you do....add some of these:

pecans or walnuts
mandaran oranges

First you boil the cranberries, water and sugar. The heat will help burst the cranberries open. You'll keep these simmering at a low boil for about 10 minutes.

After boiling, pour cranberries into a shallow dish. And start mixing in your other ingredients. You can leave it plain and it will taste 1000 time better than the can cran. But, why do that when you can add all these spices and fruits and make it an indulgence that you can't resist. The smell of all the flavors coming together is AMAZING! And it's pretty too.

After you've mixed in your goodies, place your dish in the refrigerator so that it can gel. Once it is set good, you can cover it. I make this a day ahead of time.

See how easy that is? Make your next holiday a #nocancran holiday! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Nativity Blocks- Pinterest Success

A few months ago I saw a pretty easy wood block craft that I thought the kids and I could do together for some of our toddler aged friends. These nativity blocks were super fun and easy....here's our project in pictures:

I sent Bruce to Lowe's and asked him to buy me the largest 2X4 he could and after he paid for it, to have the cut the wood for me in the lumber department. This seemed doable and efficient in my head...but just so you know, Lowe's does not but wood in anything less that a 6 inch length. And since I needed 3 inch blocks this wasn't gonna work. So my sister in law asked the shop teacher at the high school if he would do it for me (I think I owe him some cookies) and he said "yes" so within 48 hours we had a basket full of 3 inch blocks that needed to be sanded.

After all the blocks we sanded, we took out our paints...all different colors, and painted each block...all sides.

Then we sanded the edges down to give them a little distressed look. Then we applied nativity stickers. I divided the nativity scene into 5-6 blocks and used the stickers in groups of 5-6.

After the stickers were applied I covered each block in modge podge just so the stickers would not peal off easily.

And there you have it. A pinterest success story!

Total Cost was $7.94 for the 2X4. I had all the other supplies.