Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ending 2015 and Reflecting with Thankfulness

This morning my husband and I had a very pleasant morning, one of the most pleasant mornings I have had in a while. We arose at a good hour to venture out for some errands, a quick trip to the grocery store, and a stop at a, new-to-us, local doughnut shop so we could bring home some sweet treasures for our sleepy household. I was happy to be with my husband and feel at peace. We weren’t feeling rushed. The roads and stores were still quite empty. And best of all, we were together.

When we came home, our crew was still asleep, so we settled on the couch together for a morning rest. As I sat there thinking about the end of 2015, I felt so thankful… so thankful to the Lord for what I have in life…
  • My family and friends, all of the people in my life who love and support me. 
  • My husband who is my best friend and beloved partner in life.
  • My children who fill my life with purpose and joy.
  • My church family that encourages and upholds me.
  • My house, a place I can call home, a place my family and I have cultivated and cherished.
  • The privilege to homeschool my children and be with them every day.
  • For this blog, a place for me to write and influence others and for my readers who make it worthwhile.
And the list goes on…

Sometimes life feels hard. Even the other day my husband mentioned how immensely blessed we are yet how difficult life can be! Unfortunately, that is the case this side of heaven. Life will always have its challenges and continual struggles. However, there is always much to be thankful for.

As you end this year and start a new one, I pray that you are able to have some time to reflect. I pray you are able to stop life for a moment and just think about all of the ways you are blessed.

May we enter 2016 with gratitude
and may it fuel us in the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Where is Your Focus This Week? Let Go of Perfection, Expectation, & Comparison and Celebrate!

The other day I posted the above picture to my personal social media. I loved it. My dog was still. The house was cozy. My tree was lit up and showing forth its splendor of red and gold. Everything seemed wonderful, until someone pointed out the bottom of my tree. Yes, if you didn’t see it before, you see it now… the bottom of my tree is not decorated!

When I realized that, I immediately thought of quickly grasping my photo from the realms of public notice and keeping it only for my own eyes. I felt embarrassed. I thought of some of my friends and their trees and knew that the bottom of their trees would never look so bare! I hate to admit that I even looked up one of my friend’s trees on Facebook, and sure enough, her tree was full – to the hilt!
Nonetheless, I did not remove my picture from Instagram and Facebook. There were some who loved the picture as well.

They weren’t focusing on the lack in the picture,
but the beauty.

They weren’t comparing my picture
or my tree to anyone else’s.
They enjoyed the scene for what it was.

This week, as you are finishing your preparations for Christmas, let go of some of the ideas of perfection, expectation and comparisons you have in your head.

Everyone’s situation is different. Don’t compare your tree, your gift-giving (or receiving),  or your celebrations to the gal next door.

Focus on the Lord and His goodness
and live this week with joy!

Celebrate the Lord and His birth.
Celebrate the gift of Jesus and all of the good gifts He has given and continues to give us.

Merry Christmas!

... and when you feel discouraged,
just remember the bottom of my tree. ~wink~

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Chocolate Crinkles

If you are still looking to bake some delicious Christmas (or whenever!)cookies, try these Chocolate Crinkles. I have blogged about these before, but did not lay out the recipe for you, so I’m doing that now.

The main thing you have to remember when you make these is that the dough has to sit for a few hours before you make the cookie balls. Otherwise, they are fairly simple and very tasty!

Chocolate Crinkles
Original recipe found here
Printable Version

1/2 cup veg. oil (I use coconut oil)
4 – 1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (I use a double boiler)
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix oil, chocolate, and granulated sugar.

Blend in one egg at a time until well-mixed. Then add vanilla.

Stir flour, baking powder, and salt into oil mixture.

Chill for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.

Drop by teaspoonful (a melon scooper works well) into the powdered sugar.

Roll and cover in sugar. Shape into balls and place on a greased baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. 

Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Be Others-Focused This Christmas Season

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…

Philippians 2:3-5

As I consider Christmas, the manger scene, and the blessing of Jesus, I am reminded of God’s gift to us. I am reminded that Jesus came to earth as a human, as a baby. He emptied and humbled Himself because He was looking out for the interests of others. He was looking out for the interest of humankind. He came to seek and to save that which was lost, to redeem mankind, and to remind it of its great purpose in God.

When Jesus was on the earth, His ministry was full of healing and love. He sought to touch the hearts of men and provide hope for them. His desire was for all to know the Father God. He acted out of true love and thought about others’ needs continually.

During this Christmas season, let us remember to do things in line with the true Christmas spirit, in line with the Spirit of Jesus Christ, giving of ourselves for the sake of others.

Through our decorating and baking and gift-buying and celebrating, may we keep the focus off ourselves and seek to please God first and foremost and also to touch the hearts of men, bringing light and hope with a sprinkle of peace and joy!

For some people the Christmas season proves to be difficult as they juggle heartache over lost loved ones, ruined relationships, empty bank accounts, and more. May we remember those who struggle and seek to bless them in a special way this season.

Small gestures go a long way,
and a little bit of kindness brings gladness.