Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Thanks for following along....See you in 2018!!! 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Light of Christmas

I don't think it was by accident that I as I was sharing my feelings (regarding yesterdays post) to my mom she too was able to add to the "feeling" of Christmas time. She to had gone to church Sunday morning and heard a message about the "Light of Christmas." Thankfully for today's technology I was able to automatically listen to the message from Sunday. It was preached by the pastor of my home church in Cape Girardeau, MO. 

Joy or Happiness 
Which do you have? 

Surviving your suffering...
There are 2 ways: 
the difference between the 2

"1. ones who want someone to relieve their suffering
there are ones who want to be happy in life 
they wanted the circumstances to change

then there are: 

2. one willing to give of theirselves to help others 
those who had meaning and purpose in the midst of their suffering 

So think about ones who want to find happiness are takers 
they want someone or some experience to do something for them that will satisfy the longing in their heart to be fulfilled 

Then there are ones who want meaning and purpose in life...the givers. 
The ones who HAVE received but are willing to give it away. 
The ones who have the perspective to find the fulfillment and meaning in their life.

Which are you?

In the pain and suffering that you are it that you want to be happy and you want it to go away OR is it in the pain you are able to find meaning so you can experience TRUE JOY.

Happiness is an emotion that comes and goes. Happiness is a moment. We all like and have "happy moments." That's not where we can place our hope. That's not where we will find joy. We want to find the next thing, spend money, go places, and all the rest...which isn't bad in itself as long as you have the perspective those things aren't going to bring fulfillment in your life. 

It is the JOY of knowing Jesus can bring the only fulfillment in life. "
-Brother Mark

Luke 1:48 

He references Luke Chapter 1...He talked about Mary, Jesus's mother. How she found JOY in the midst of her circumstance. 

This brings me back to what I referenced the LIGHT for Jesus. 
Don't ask for anything just know the true source of JOY for our lives. 

I mentioned about how Wyatt was so innocently raising his hands and worshipping the Lord. It was such a great reminder to stop and refocus on where I get my joy. 
Am I looking in the right place? 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Be the Light

It's the Christmas season...a season that gives me "all the feels." It's a time that even people who don't normally attend church or have "feels" get the feels. ;) My heart has been so heavy lately and I still haven't been able to pinpoint it. The more I think about it the less I think it can actually be pinpointed to ONE thing. We have all "stuff" going on. We all have the baggage that comes along with the life we live. (And isn't it funny as humans we all think we always have it the worst!?!? LOL)

It was no coincidence as I sat down in church Sunday it was just what I needed to hear. "Be the Light." We woke Sunday morning tired and with crabby kids but we didn't let Satan win. We made a deal with the kids that they could sit with us in "big church" instead of going to their classes since it was the Christmas service. (proof God is ALWAYS in control)

As we worshipped at the beginning of the service I watched as our 7 year old closed his eyes and raised his hands... he sang ever so sweetly. He was being a light...when no one was watching. (and even if they were he didn't care) Why as adults do we shy away from being a light?

As the service went on we referenced Matthew 5:14

Paster Shawn stated, " Don't withdraw, don't fake it, BE REAL. Let others know we have flaws but we still love Jesus." The entire sermon can be viewed HERE

So as we finish out this Christmas season I am challenging you to join me as we BE THE LIGHT and SHINE....(see the entire song HERE-flashback to youth group early 2000 ;;)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Copycat Panera Kitchen Sink Cookies *tweaked*

It's Tuesday talk where we can talk about any topic...anything that makes us happy. Well, I love to bake and I decided to share a fun recipe I have been baking like crazy....head over to Erika and Ashley's blog as well and see what they are talking about today. 

A few weeks ago I was asked to bring a dessert to a Christmas event. Mark mentioned wanting me to bake the "kitchen sink cookies" from STL Bread. I did what anyone would do I headed straight to Pinterest. I found THIS recipe and ran with it! 

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, browned
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea sat + more for sprinkling
  • 3/4 cup broken pretzels 
  • 1 cup caramel bits 
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips 
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips 

(browning butter is an art...just FYI;))

  • Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. *I sprayed the cookies sheet and didn't use any paper** Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  • To brown the butter: In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, whisking as it melts, foams, bubbles, and eventually little brown bits form and it turns amber. Immediately pour into a large, heatproof, bowl, and use a spatula to scrape all the little brown bits into the bowl.
  • Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the vanilla and sugars into the butter for a couple minutes **I set a timer for 2 mins,** until it lightens a bit.
  • Beat in eggs for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and about a third of the flour. Mix slowly, add another third of flour, mix, and add the last of the flour until just combined. 
  • Stir in the pretzels, caramel bits, and chocolate chips **plus the extra chips listed above** until evenly distributed.

  • Scoop out very large balls of dough (at least 1/4 cup, but could be bigger, up to 1/2 cup size) **1/4 was perfect but NO SMALLER** and place on prepared baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between (will need to do multiple batches.) Add more broken pretzel pieces, caramel bits, and chocolate chips to the tops of the dough balls to preference. **I didn't add anything but salt on the top** Sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Bake 13 minutes (this will vary, though, according to the size of your cookies), until golden around the edges. Remove and allow to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Then, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  **this is always the make or break...the cookie will continue to bake on the hot pan even when out of the oven. I baked for 12 mins then let them stay on sheet for 5 mins. **
  • Serve warm! Store leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They will also keep, frozen, in a ziptop freezer bag for up to 3 months.
**This is copied from the site linked above with my adding in what I changed**

Monday, December 18, 2017

Weekend Fun

This weekend went by way. too. fast. ;( It was filled with Christmas events but we had so much fun! Friday night Sloane and I went on a little date night. We surprised her with tickets to the Nutcracker Ballet. We had so much fun and I loved the one on one time with her.

Meanwhile....the boys ate Taco Bell and built a new LEGO. ;)

Saturday morning Sloane and Wyatt were invited to a bowling b-day party. They love to bowl, pretty sure Sloane was the overall winner on her lanes. LOL! I can't believe Jake is EIGHT!!! 

Saturday evening we went to see Star Wars with Kyle and Shelly. The kids love seeing movies with their cousins. It was a GREAT movie!! 

Sunday morning we let the kids sit with us for the Christmas service. It's for sure one of my favorite services of the year. Singing Christmas songs as a congregation is the best! 

Sunday evening was Christmas with some of Mark's family. Presents, food, and games....a party that never ends with these people! ;) The kids were excited to open a few gifts too! Instead of multiple small gifts Mark's aunt/uncles get the kids one (or 2) more costly gifts. It's such a great idea and helps with the overabundance of presents. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Favorites

It's Friday again and I am here to link up with Erika, Narci, and Andrea. I have a few favs from the week...

Wyatt had his Christmas program this week. He did so well! He mentioned being a little nervous but smiled and sang his little heart out on the stage. #proudmama  Even though it wasn't her program she did mention how she looked like a "Christmas princess" as she came down the stairs.  #sendhelp

Sloane started K only going 1/2 she has been slowly working her way to going all 5 days all. day. long. After Christmas break she will be going all day everyday.... we are enjoying our last few 1/2 days together. #cantgetitback #timeslowdown

The elf kinda slacked last night...somehow they got a little comfy the night before so they were in trouble. The went big tonight....

Early Christmas present for the win....#nerdhusband #noshame 

My brother is literally the cutest ever...he works super hard but plays hard as well. I mean, he hunts for play but look at this AMAZING post from this week. #mybrotheriscoolerthanyours 

This kid....I don't have words. He is too grown.  ;( 

I posted about our fun gingerbread house decorating this week. It's one of my favorite traditions!!! 

Speaking of traditions...STL Zoo Wild Lights is another fav. This year they really stepped up their game and we had a great time together. It was a SUPER cold one but totally worth it!!! 

Happy Friday!! We are so excited to start our Christmas celebrations this weekend..... 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Tree

It's that time of year again...we love to bake around here! Sloane is a SUPER big helper too. A picture popped up on my time hop the other day with the fun cupcake Christmas tree we made last year. I wanted to share again because it was such a fun and easy dessert to take to a holiday party!

I shared all the details on this blog post. It was a big hit!! 
If you like to bake or have a little that does you should totally attempt this fun dessert. 

Please feel free to "pin" this post so you can refer back to all the fun details! 
Merry Christmas and happy baking! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Espi the Elf...

Phew, we are totally lame with this Elf thing but goodness it's a lot of work! I plan to get a little more creative these last few days. The day they arrived Espi (short for Espionage which means spy-name given by my nerd lovely husband) brought a special friend....HER name is Sparkles. (Totally orginal right?!?! I name her. ;)) 

They have a list of new places to hang since we have changed locations this year. 
There are A LOT more options!! 

Maw Maw got creative and St. Nick also brought a few fun items as well.....

They have been so silly this year! Always high up but where they can watch at all times...

Where do you put your elf? Are you crazy fun or do you have a boring elf too? 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wild Lights 2017

Last weekend we continued the tradition Mark and I started way back in 2006. ;) He proposed at the STL Zoo Wild Lights event. 

We still go every year and it has turned into a tradition with some of his family. In the past we have ended the evening at our house but since we don't have one this year we enjoyed pizza together at his sister and BIL's. 2017: 

And for fun...2006 Engagement night:

Last year the night we planned to go they canceled due to bad weather. There was an ice storm that hit STL. We still hung together and it ended up being the last "get-together" at our house. Such a memorable night...Hot Chocolate Bar

Monday, December 11, 2017

Gingerbread Houses 2017

This weekend we checked a few fun things off our Christmas season to do list. ;) It was a GREAT weekend! We have events and fun but also had some time to relax as well. I love that we are doing a better job of saying "no," because it has totally become our BEST YES.

Saturday morning we were slow to get going due to a late Friday night. After breakfast I sets the table and Wyatt and Sloane decorated their gingerbread houses. I thought about only getting one house but decided on 2...I am so thankful I did. ($6.99 houses from Aldi for the W.I.N.)

I love using the brown paper as a table cloth. This is something I have been doing for a while. We use is when we do crafts, bake, and a ton of other things. I get a roll from the $1 store and it does 2 stripes for 2 separate times. TOTALLY A WIN! It's super fun when we are finished they always end up drawing all over it. I wish I would. have kept the doodles or at least taken pictures of them including Mark's super fun drawings. ;) He is actually really artistic when he wants to be. 

I set up a fun little area for both houses. Yes, I am totally the mom that hot glues the houses together BEFORE we decorate. Judge away...I don't even care! They have a blast added the touches and don't have to worry about pushing too hard LOL!!! 

They are super serious about this. I love watching how different they each are...I think Wyatt might have had 3 things on the actual house but let me tell you the landscape was top notch. Sloane enjoyed making the roof "look cute." 

And because I love to compare you can see 2016 Gingerbread House HERE. We also decorated in 2015 and you can see it HERE. And if that wasn't fun enough you can see Wyatt's VERY 1st house HERE.  Happy Monday!!!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Donuts with Dasher 2017

Last weekend I was a co-chair for our Donuts with Dasher event at Wyatt and Sloane's school. It was our first year putting this event together. It was work but totally worth it!! We had so much fun!

We decorated the table with paper that could be written on...we set crayons out on the table. There were sheets for letters to Santa too! We had the raffle info. on each table as well. 

There were 60 dozen donuts ordered and served them with milk and juice. Santa makes a special visit and gifts each child a book when they sit on his lap. 

There are stations set up around the gym....

decorating gift bags, making reindeer food, fun games 

There is a LARGE toy raffle that is at the event as well. It's something both Wyatt and Sloane have really started looking forward during this season. It was a GREAT way to kick off this holiday season. 

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