Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Winter Wonderland in Oregon and Washington

"White Christmas"

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
and children listen
to hear sleigh bells in the snow...

...I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
with every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright,
and may all your Christmases be white...

We're in the Pacific Northwest (OR & WA) visiting our families for the Christmas holiday. The kids had hoped for a "White Christmas", AND WE'RE GETTING IT! From the day we got off the airplane on Dec. 17 til now, we've experienced the "Arctic Blast" a weather system that has created havoc to wide spread areas all over WA and OR. As I type this post it's snowing outside adding more snow to the 3 feet of snow we already have! The kids are having a blast playing all this "white stuff", building snowmen, sledding, etc.

The kids having fun...

Teri is thinking she likes the snow,
but does miss her Corpus Christi 80 degree weather, too.

Kirk is busy shoveling out paths so we don't get completely "snowed in".

From our family to yours...

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Celebrate Jesus

This week I'm running crazy with "busyness"... Christmas activities grouped with regular life in general. My schedule and "to do" list is full of "this, that, and other stuff" keeping me on the go.

I love the Christmas season, but do get tired each year of how easy it is to get distracted by worldly Christmas traditions and distracted from why we celebrate Christmas to begin with. The enemy can't pull me away from my Savior, but he does what he can to distract me from Him.

I am constantly being reminded by my BFF, Jesus, that it's His Birthday we're celebrating, and as long as I keep Him at the center of my activities, that's all that matters. I like to do all the fun Christmas stuff (decorating, shopping, baking, sending Christmas greeting cards... etc), but as soon as it becomes overwhelming, stressful and a burden, I know I'm getting off track. When that happens, I hear Jesus whispering to my heart... "don’t get caught up in celebrating the celebration." and the Holy Spirit reminds me of the story of Martha and Mary (one of my many favorites Bible stories!). Martha was distracted by preparing for the celebration, while Mary was focused on who the celebration was for.

Isn't that what a lot of us end up doing?... being like Martha, getting caught up in preparing for the celebration? Christ wants us to slow down and give Him time... listen to His voice... experience His presence... celebrating Him.
I fall into the "Martha" trap when I don't stay focused! It's like planning a huge extravagant Birthday party for a friend and forgetting to invite them. Or worse, Inviting them, and then completely ignoring them, making the celebration all about the decorations, the food, how well it was planned, etc. It’s o.k. to have fun in decorating, planning the party, all that, but it's not o.k. to lose focus on who it's for or why the celebration is being done.

As I am riding on my whirlwind of a week, I will focus on being "focused" on Jesus and NOT allowing myself to get distracted (Hebrews 12:2). There's a lot of great things about Christmas, but I will remember:

The GREATEST part of Christmas is the first 6 letters- C_H_R_I_S_T

Prayer: Lord, Thank you that YOU are the best gift of Christmas... It isn't about the decorations or the "presents" , but about celebrating you and being in your "presence". Help me to Love and Give to my friends, family and strangers, the way you have loved and given to all. Help me stay focused on the "reason for the season"; keep me protected against the enemy's schemes to distract me from you. Fill me completely with the fruit of your Spirit, and empty me of all things that are not pleasing to you. I also pray this for any one reading this post, for my friends in Christ and my family! In YOUR precious name, Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

For God so loved the world
he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.

(John 3:16 NIV)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Peanut Butter Fudge

I wanted to share a favorite recipe that my husband found on the Food Network in 2003 (credits below). It has become a family favorite since the very first time we made it over 5 years ago.

This "Peanut Butter Fudge" is "melt in your mouth good"! We make it at Christmas each year and often times give a plate of it as gifts to our neighbors. This candy is sinfully delicious and extremely easy to make!... so easy to make, it's almost embarrassing.
Hope you enjoy it!

Peanut Butter Fudge

1 cup butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

Microwave butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Add vanilla and powdered sugar to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Pour into a buttered 8 by 8-inch pan lined with waxed paper. Place a second piece of waxed paper on the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool (at least 1 hour). Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Cook Time: 4 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour
Level: Easy
Yield: 64 (1-inch) pieces

Rated: 5 stars out of 5 174 Reviews
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2003
Show: Good Eats Episode: Fudge Factor

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

People in my Life.

I received an email recently that got me thinking about my current and past relationships/friendships... and actually brought me comfort as I thought about the many people who have come in and out of my life and touched my heart; some even for the briefest of moments (who I personally have not met except through the internet).

This email is a reminder that, God, in His sovereignty, brings people in and out of our lives for His specific purposes, and He uses you and me in others' lives in the same way. I am SO THANKFUL for each and every person God has allowed me to cross paths with and connect with no matter the length on time...

Here's the e-mail: (Thanks Milda for sending it!)

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person and appreciate the relationship for what it is.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed (either through prayer to God or from the yearnings of your heart). They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance, support and strength, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They are a Godsend. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then at a point, they are gone; this person is no longer a part of your life. Sometimes they move away with intentions to stay in touch, but they don't; the relationship fades and no longer exists. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. There are many things that happen to disconnect this relationship, but what ever the circumstance, their work is done and they have touched your life for a specific reason or purpose, and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON. Your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh in the specific stage of life you're in; you can relate easily to each other because of so many commonalities. They may teach you something you have never known or done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. Lifetime people are the essence of family; these people love and give of themselves from beginning to end. Lifetime people are rooted deep in your life and no "storm of life" or circumstance can uproot your connection with this person. Thank you for being a part of my life. . . whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime, or all three bundled in one!
Psalm 118:24

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for being my LIFETIME person and BFF! Thank you for bringing people in my life that have taught me, challenged me, encouraged me, and touched my heart. As I reflect on each person in my life, past and present, I see your hand prints all over the circumstances of them being in my life. Many of my "reason friends" have turned into "season friends", turning into "lifetime friends"; it is by Your will and doing I have been blessed with the many different relationships I have. As time goes forward, please help me recognize opportunities You present to connect with people, and ways to make a difference in others' lives, reflecting Your Spirit that is in me; whether it's for a "reason", "season", or "lifetime", I want to glorify your name and magnify your love towards the people in my life. In Your precious Name I pray~ Amen.