Saturday, November 24, 2012

To Jocelyn, On Her 7th Birthday

 Dear Josie,
               It is your seventh birthday! So many things have happened this year, it is hard to know where to begin. I have spent a lot of time learning how to trust God: that He will keep you safe, that He will give you the things you need, that He will show me how to be a godly mom to you.

He has far surpassed my expectations. You are the sweetest, most cheerful, Jesus-loving little girl. And you aren't growing up too fast. You still have that child-like sense of wonder, while having a very intuitive awareness. You are so interested in the Bible. You are always asking me questions. (Some of which I have a very hard time answering! You asked me the other day if Satan had children-not sure where that came from!) You still love Awana, and in the spring we were both surprised to find that you were "Clubber of the Year"- a high honor for learning the most sections in your club! I am so proud of you.

You make friends easily, and you aren't concerned with whether they are older or younger, boy or girl. You aren't self-conscious, either. You think that you are pretty, and smart, and talented-but not in a boastful or proud way. Just a contentment in truly believing that God make you special. And He certainly did! Your God-given confidence is one of the things I admire the most about you.

You love to have fun! A party, a friend's house, or just jumping on me and your Dad's bed at night. You definitely have a lot of "otter" in your personality! You love to make up songs, and create things. You make the coolest crafts out of paper and tape. You made a whole "box of donuts" the other day, and you make little purses and fill them with all kinds of notebook paper accessories. It is just the cutest thing! You will play for hours by yourself-your imagination is huge and you are never limited by what something is intended for-everything has a million uses in your eyes.

You are doing so well in school this year. Last year was a struggle, but we persevered and the Lord has really been gracious since we started second grade. You love math! That makes me so happy. You love "Hairastitch Studies" (Heritage Studies, or history), too, because you get to do crafts. You love crafts! You started reading independently too. Your first chapter book, The Boxcar Children, was read on the plane on the way to Aunt Robyn's.

You have been a traveling maniac- you had your first "week away" at Grams' house, and you were so homesick I came to get you early! We stayed at Grammy's for a month, and did VBS and celebrated birthdays. Then we got to go to Aunt Robyn's in North Carolina, to be there for baby Gwendalyn's birth. You love your cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, and all the other family, so much! You cry so hard every time we leave, it breaks my heart. You love being with your family!

You love VBS,too. Miss Kelly named you honorary VBS co-director this year. You proclaimed yourself the "Queen of VBS"! You tirelessly help, and figure and plan. You get so excited that it is contagious! You attended three VBS this year- ours, Grams' and Grammy's! You could have lead the music by the end, but you never got tired of it! You are already gearing up for next year. And Mr. Jeff, the new children's minister, loves your input, too!

You lost your first tooth this year, and took ice skating again, and spent tons of time riding your bike, and listening to Adventures in Odyssey, Jamie Grace and Toby Mac. You are really liking hanging out with your Dad, and you play so well with your brother. Carson loves you so much- and you are a great big sister. It was a full, busy, but wonderful year. I can't wait to see what "seven" brings. I know the Lord has great plans for you! I love you so much, and am always praying for you.

                                                                                         Mother (what you always call me!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Cutest Thanksgiving Party That Wasn't

So, it is a really long story, but the short version is this: I had wanted to have a Thanksgiving party for a long time. I love a party that is unexpected. I had set up a play date with a family I was recently introduced to (we haven't even met in person) and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to throw a little party! The short part: they all got sick and couldn't make it.

I had already set up all the decorations so even though my guests weren't coming, I finished the rest of the preparations so you (and my kids!) could appreciate a little of my hard work. The inspiration for having the party came from these adorable (and FREE!) printables! Paper Glitter has some of the cutest stuff, and these were easy to use, too! I used their "Thanksgiving" banner and hotglued it to some ribbon, and then I used parts of the "icon" banner to add a little more color underneath. I found it to be a good use for the paper tape that my friend had given me (from Target) and I am absolutely in *love* and am now on the hunt for other uses!
I printed off placemats, and napkin "rings". I really wanted yellow or orange plates, but they were surprisingly hard to find. I ended up just going with white ones from the Dollar Store. And after my guests cancelled, I was glad that I hadn't spent too much! I printed everything on regular cardstock from Walmart, and I wasn't disappointed.
I let these little cuties make one of the snacks I had planned for breakfast. I found the instructions for these Donut Hole Acorns and they really delivered. They are just as cute as the photo and so easy to make! She suggests Nutella, but I used chocolate frosting. 4 ingredients: donut holes, chocolate frosting, pretzels, and chocolate sprinkles and you get these:

I also used the printable food labels (Seriously, don't those things have some sort of name? What is it?!)  and it worked well because I made acorns and a turkey and they had little pictures of both those things!
I got this idea off Pinterest, the link does not work but you can see my inspiration photo here. I am pretty sure that they used caramel dip in the original, but I wanted something that wasn't quite so sweet, so I just filled a little glass bowl with peanut butter. I used Granny Smith, Pinata and Red Delicious apples for the feathers. The original is cuter, I think because they used a circular plate it worked better. But mine is still pretty cute!
I was going to have all the kids make these turkey cookies. You might remember them from my post a couple years ago! I made a few changes (I couldn't find the Little Debbie Chocolate Creme Pies, so I swapped in Oatmeal Creme Pies) and I added a gummy worm "wattle" which I think was a good move, I just snipped off the red part.

We were also going to make these gumdrop turkeys- not for eating, although you could. I was going to send them home in the little paper baskets by the placemats. I found the directions here. If you don't know where to find the big gumdrops, they have them at Walgreen's (I used them for my nativity scene last Christmas.) Her directions are good, so I won't embellish them.

I also wanted to incorporate some of the first Thanksgiving story, and I liked these bead bracelets. I chose to use leather cording instead of pipe cleaners. It is kind of hard to tell from my photo, but I used light tan beads where she uses cream ones. Basically it goes:
Black- the Pilgrims
White- sails on the Mayflower
Three Blue-long trip on the ocean
Green- land, Massachusetts!
Three White-long winter
Tan-Indians, especially Squanto, help the Pilgrims to plant and harvest
The pink bead is to help make the bracelet adjustable. I liked that it was a visual mnemonic device!
For favors I made my own version of Thanksgiving Blessing Trail Mix. I put in one bag of Bugles (cornucopias), 1 movie size box of Runt candies (fruits of the harvest), 2 cups pretzel sticks (because the Pilgrims would "stick" with it and survive the long winter), 2 cups candy corn (for the corn the Indians helped them to plant) and one cup M & Ms (for the sweetness of all our blessings!).
I also made these adorable hats-both the boy's version and the girl's bonnet. I used craft foam because I wanted them to be more durable. So when it called for folding the paper on the bonnet, I just cut the foam and glued it instead. On the boy's hat I just glued the headband part at the edges of the folded up brim instead of all the way across, because I bought 12x18 foam, instead of the 24 inch paper. It worked great! I will try to get pics of my kids wearing the hats because they are super cute!
You like? I think they are adorable!
So, don't you think it would have been a fun party? I tried not to be too disappointed, there are certainly worse things than planning a party that doesn't happen, and no one can be responsible for getting sick! I am taking the bracelet, gumdrop turkeys, turkey cookies, and acorns to share with our friends' on Thanksgiving, so those are not a total loss. And I have a great plan for a wonderful party next year!



Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Ministry of Being Mrs.

I took cupcakes up to Joel's work today. That may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but it means a lot to the guys he works with. Several of them are single and don't get anything homemade ever. I take (or send) a lot of goodies to that shop. And I won't lie: I have ulterior motives for taking them. I have always pictured it as a "cup of cold water"  (Matthew 10:42) kind of thing.
But then as I was talking to Joel the other day, he mentioned that some of the guys don't believe that I really say and do some of the things he tells them about (good things, like how carefully I do his laundry, and bringing him little trays with dessert and milk). I think it surprises them that I really do care about him-what he likes, and how he feels.
I think they have been brought up to see all women as feminists-only looking out to further their own interests. And while I would never claim to be the model wife, I do really try to be a servant to Joel. And to me, that is not a negative thing.

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." (Ephesians 5:22-24)

I was raised to take these verses seriously. To me, they imply that as the Church serves Christ, humbly, selflessly, with a strong desire to please Him, that I am called to do the same. And yes, I view it as a calling.

However, I have long thought that it was mostly commanded in the Word so that we would have a God-honoring marriage that was free from strife. But I am beginning to realize that it is a big part of my witness to the unsaved world. It is how we show the world we are different and broadcast Who brought about that change.

When the guys that Joel works and goes to school with hear about how I care for him, and take care of him, they are getting a picture of what Christlike service looks like. I am, albeit indirectly, witnessing to them! They can see that Christ has made my life different, and that Joel and I love each other in a way that far surpasses the cheap imitation they have been accustomed to.

I stay at home. I homeschool, I go to Bible study, I work at church. I am constantly surrounded by believers. And right now, that is where I am supposed to be. However, just as I give money to various evangelistic organizations, and I donate food, clothes and shoeboxes,  I see being a great wife to Joel as part of my ministry and testimony, not just to him, but to those he comes in contact with. I think it kind of falls under that whole "the two shall become one" (Mark 10:8) thing.

I am not only freeing him to focus on what he needs to do, but hopefully, through seeing what a happy husband he is, and how much I respect him and desire to serve him, they will also see what real Christ-followers looks like. Hopefully, it ignites a tiny flame of desire to have that in their own lives. That is a pretty big order for a little batch of cupcakes, but I just think of it as a long-term evangelism plan that is all part of the "Ministry of Being Mrs." It is a role I am privileged to fill.


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