Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Study and Christmas Tree Choppin'

Advent... what a beautiful time to prepare our hearts for the Christmas Celebration of Christ's birth! Christmas-time feels different, smells different, looks different than any other time of the year. As Christians, we need to focus on celebrating Christmas differently than the world. We need to be set apart... for Christ.

Mrs. Miiko Gibson has a wonderful free Advent Study on her blog. We went through it day-by-day last year and just loved it.

I pray that studying God's Word in preparation for Christmas not only deepens our understanding of how His Birth has redeemed those who have trusted in Him for salvation, but also brings us to celebrate Christmas in a Christ-focused way, rather than conforming to the World's-way of over-spending, over-indulgence, holiday "stress", etc.... "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

The day after Thanksgiving, we drove out to Wintergreen Farms in Van Alystyne. They have a HUGE tree farm that you can stroll through, pick out and chop down your own tree. We just love it!

Caroline, Mommy and Ava getting chuferred by the tractor ride out to the tree farm.

After searching, and searching... we find the "perfect" tree!

Of course, we have to pose cutely in front of it before we chop it down.

Ironman is choppin' it down. He was going to use his bare hands, but he didn't want to blow his cover. I complained that I couldn't see his cute face...

There it is!!!!! LOL! :)

TIMMMMMBERRRRRRRR! (My camera takes great action shots, doesn't it?!)

Nothin' like a man's work of choppin' down and haulin' off your own Christmas Tree! Fun times!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So Thankful...

I have so very much to be thankful for...

My husband who is such a Godly leader, my precious children who give me such joy to teach, my wonderful friends and family that give me such wonderful memories, and my God who has given me blessings beyond measure in my eternal salvation and security through Jesus Christ.

Isn't Nicole Nordeman's song Gratitude just perfect for Thanksgiving?! I just love her

In lieu of the upcoming holiday, last night we made our Pumpkin puree from organically-grown pumpkins. It was so fun... messy, but fun! You can look at The Pioneer Woman's blog for more details and pictures of how to make your own pumpkin puree. She also has lots of Thanksgiving Recipes that look scrumptious!

Here are the soon-to-be carriages, I mean, soon-to-be pumpkin purees. (Our Fairy Godmother was busy, so we had to make a plan B)

Singing "The Farmer in the Dell"... "we chopped off their tops with a carving knife"

Caroline and Ava scooped out all the yummy (or should I say yucky) insides. We saved the pumpkin seeds so we can roast them later to eat. Yummy recipe here!

Ava showing off her hollowed out pumpkin. (she really wishes it had been a carriage)

Caroline showing off hers, too. (she's not thinking about carriages... only the pumpkin pie)

We then cut the pumpkin into quarters. Ironman (aka Daddy) had to use his brawn to get the job done. (Isn't he cute?!)

We roasted the pumpkin quarters in the oven on 350 for 45 minutes...

Then peeled and cut off the skin...

And chopped it up in the food processor to make the yummy puree. (Of course, Ava had to eat some of it immediately)

We measured out the puree in cupfuls, and bagged them up. (Notice Ava's dish-washing gloves she's donning).

Next, we will make homemade pumpkin pie with our purees... oh, and I have to go make the crust. I guess it would defeat our purpose of making all the ingredients from scratch and then pour it into a pre-made crust. We're going to try Mrs. Klause's recipe for the crust. Whew!... more baking fun upahead. (how did the Pilgrims do it all?!)

I found out that Mrs. Fuentes has a precious recipe for the cookies pictured below. This will be the girls' fun project while I finish brining and preparing the turkey.

This morning, the girls and I awoke to finish our Thanksgiving day preparations... we pulled out our recipes, started making a plan of action, and then I said:


"We are trying to prepare for Thanksgiving without preparing our hearts first!"

So, Caroline grabbed some pillows and we curled up by the blazing fire place and read 1 Thess. 5:16-18: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

We discussed how we can be joyful, prayerful and thankful... always. Ava, who is our voice of reason, kept telling us that we can't do it always. But... we CAN!! We are AmeriCAN, not AmeriCAN'T!! (rip off of Beverly Hills Chihuahua... lol!)

So, we made a list of everything we are thankful for. I won't publish the whole list here, but I'll recap a few of them:

Some of Ava's thankful list: Mommy, Daddy, Caroline, ability to read the Bible, Jesus, home, dogs, friends and family.

Some of Caroline's thankful list: Mommy, Daddy, Ava, Jesus, pets, a mommy and daddy that teach her the bible (Awwww!), a mommy that homeschools her (double Awwwww!), food, safety, home, friends and family.

And we ended our devotion by praying to God thanking Him for all He has given us, as well as asking Him to help us when we complain or are ungrateful about things we want and don't have. We asked for help to replace those thoughts with a thankfulness for everything we do have!

What an Awesome, Loving and Giving Father we have... may we choose joy, prayer-fullness, and a heart of thanksgiving... in ALL circumstances... ALWAYS!

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We are just sheep


n. pl. sheep
-Any of various usually horned ruminant mammals of the genus Ovis in the family Bovidae, especially the domesticated species O. aries, raised in many breeds for wool, edible flesh, or skin.

1. Leather made from the skin of one of these animals.
2. A person regarded as timid, weak, or submissive.
3. One who is easily swayed or led.

Something funny happened the other night when Erich and I were at the movie theater watching Fireproof (Awesome movie by the way. If you haven’t seen it, run to the theater RIGHT NOW and go see it… no, really, stop reading this post and GO!)

After the movie was over, I started clapping (yep, I was being cheesy). But, I kept clapping even though I was the only one doing it in the whole theater (I was determined to get the whole crowd following my lead). After a good 5 seconds or so of my "clapping solo", sure enough, the other “clappers” came trickling in. One by one they came until almost the entire theater followed suit and we had a chorus of clapping.

Erich looked over at me, rolled his eyes, shook his head and with a sigh, he said, “Just a bunch of sheep… following the crowd,” And he was so right!

In this case, it was harmless clapping that they followed (or since it was me, should I say awesome clapping?!… lol). But, how often do we follow the flock when it’s not so harmless?

~How often do we allow our children to participate in activities just because everyone else is?

Especially when it’s not beneficial to the family’s purpose in discipling the children, giving the gospel to the community, and glorifying God?

~What about the trends and fashion of the season?

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a pair of UGG boots. I literally went “Ugh… those are weird looking!” Now that I’ve seen them worn by so many people for a while, I think they’re cute and I want a pair… gosh, I’m such a sheep! :)

So, what about the clothes that aren't honoring to our husband, role-modeling respectfulness to our children, or representing Christ? Do we wear them to follow the crowd? (or even try to draw attention from the crowd?)

~How about the things we purchase and get into debt due to the commercials we see?… the body image we think we need to have by looking at the "super models"… or even... the way we think our life is supposed to be because, well, don’t the advertising slogans tell me that I should “just do it” and “it’s all about me”? Note to self: they must be right… they wouldn’t be leading me astray, right?... WRONG!

The list goes on and on... you can fill in the blank with whatever we choose to imitate and follow.

Whether it’s our actions or our thoughts that follow the crowd… in the end, we’re just a whole bunch of sheep following the flock. No doubt, as sheep, we’ll follow somebody, so we better choose to follow the only Good Shepherd and His ways.

We need to set our minds on things of Him: "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Col. 3:2

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

You see, God’s calling of us as “His sheep" and "His flock” describe perfectly our character flaws as weak, helpless beings in need of a Shepherd. We will follow the flock, even if it leads us to the wolves’ den. We get anxious when we are away from the flock, and even more important, without a shepherd, we will go astray and be in imminent danger.

Left to our own sheepish desires… well, here’s what the Bible says: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Prov. 14:12

We need to have a total dependence on our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15

My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." John 10:27-28

~So, Mr./Ms. Sheep: Who is the Shepherd that you are following…?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled... Cucumbers?

I did it... or should I say, we did it!!! The Klause family came over and we pickled cucumbers! Good Times! :)

We used the organically grown dill from our garden and yummy "pickling" cucumbers from Costco. (along with a few other ingredients, of course)

Yee-haw!... I'm ready to move out to the country and milk some cows now! If I can make homemade pickles... and I mean GOOD-TASTIN' homemade pickles... anyone can!

The girls had so much fun cutting the cucumbers and preparing the ingredients! And the end result was ABSOLUTELY delicious pickles (11 jars of them to be exact).

Here's the recipe we used from Mrs. Klause's blog:
Homemade Pickles Recipe

Have a blessed "dill-filled" day! :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fall is here! (at least it should be despite the warm weather)

Can you just hear the "Little House on the Prairie" theme song as you look at us?

We went to the Pumpkin Patch to get our pumpkins (which ended up being rotten, but never mind that). I'm thinking Ava was hoping that pumpkin would turn into her royal coach and whisk her away to the ball.

Mommy and her two precious girls!

Daddy, Caroline & Ava on the Hay Ride. (We had a "lurker" in the picture, but thanks to "photo shop", his face is removed. You can still see his legs poking out... he must have turned into the "Headless Horseman")

My sweet hubby and me. :)

FYI: Erich was originally cast to be the star of "Ironman" before they picked Robert Downey, Jr. You can see why in this picture. lol!

Again, amazing brute strength displayed... those pumpkins must have weighed 250 lbs. each!!!

We went on a field trip to the Dallas Arboretum. It was pretty weather at first, but we ended up getting rained out. Here, the girls pose in a cottage window.

It's Pumpkin Land!!!

The girls in the Pumpkin House

Caroline and Ava amongst the pumpkins

Gotta love that missing tooth! :)-

Sitting pretty...

Here are all the cousins! It's so nice to be a part of a large family.

Ready for school (and proof that we don't school in our pajamas... lol)

OK... this is our dog Fly... he is a boy... what a shame that he allows Caroline & Ava to dress him up otherwise. :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

John Piper and Election Day

*In order to not have Nicole Nordeman singing over John Piper, you'll need to pause my "Playlist" music box (scroll down the page and it's on the right side) before you click play on the YouTube video. Unless you can multi-task and listen to both... :)