Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best Christmas Ever

Today is New Year's Eve, so I thought I'd better share about our Christmas before 2012 is officially over!
The weeks leading up to Christmas were a little up and down.  I tried to be very intentional about putting Jesus at the center of the season for our family, but it was kind of hard when my 2 and 4 year old were surrounded by santa, elves, reindeer, candy and presents, and they heard "you'd better be good for Santa" at least once every day!
We did a few things to focus on Jesus, like a Jesse Tree, reading Bible verses and doing a few Advent activities, and we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas day, but the kids didn't think those things were quite as fun as making treats for Santa, or counting down to Christmas to see what Santa would bring.
I understand that.  Those secular Christmas activities really are fun!  And who doesn't like getting presents?  Looking back, I feel pretty good about my efforts in making Christmas fun while focusing on Jesus.  And I'm not saying Jesus can't be fun, but I learned that there may not be such a thing as truly balancing secular Christmas activities and Jesus.  All the secular acitivties seem to do is take away from the importance of His birth. 
I will, however, continue to try.  After all, my kids are very young and can't even come close to grasping the ramifications of Jesus birth yet!  So we'll start small.  And hopefully they're internalizing what I teach them about the Gospel, even if it'll take them a while to truly understand it.  I'm creating a foundation.  I can already see it in my son.  Praise God!
Although I can't be sure how important Jesus' birth is to my children yet, I do know they had a great Christmas this year filled with friends, family, and love.  My son made me sure of this a few days ago when he said, "Mommy, this has been the best Christmas ever!"  It melted my heart to see the look of joy on his face as he said it!  And the feeling of joy I've felt this year is greater than any other time in my life, because it's from Christ!  I pray he and my daughter feel that same joy someday too.
I really do think this was the best Christmas ever!  I hope it was for you too.
Here are some pictures from the season:

 My sweet kids by the tree!
Fun with Santa!                                           Little one favored Mrs. Claus!

I love this one!  My husband and I and our son are on the left, my sister and my niece are in the middle, and my sister's fiance and my daughter are on the right.  Great family photo!
The kids and my nephew.  Those are some super cute kids, don't ya think?!
Making cinnamon ornaments - they loved using the rolling pin!  And the little one liked sampling the non-edible dough...
Opening presents!

Fun in the snow!                                     ....or not...
Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year, New Plan

My husband is a goal-setter.  If I were to make a list of words describing his character, "goal-setter" would make the top 5.  Maybe even the top 2.  And he's even better with his follow-through!  I've always found this quality admirable and it's one of the things I love the most about my husband.
Probably because I'm nothing like him in this way.  "Goal-setter" would not be found on my list!  I stink at setting goals.  I stink at achieving goals too.  It's funny, because I love to make plans and come up with new ideas.  But I guess I never get to that end point where I can specify a goal and outline steps to achieve it.  Or when I do actually set a goal, I stop short of reaching it more times than not.  I am a pro at leaving projects unfinished! 
I'm kind of in this neverending state of doing something or planning something without finishing anything.  I read a devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries last week that pretty much summed it all up.  The writer, Rachel Olson, wrote "the crux of my problem was waiting for everything to be perfect before I moved forward. If I didn't feel I could do something 'right,' I often didn't do it at all. If I couldn't control each move, or the outcome, I waited rather than began. And that meant a lot of things sat either un-started or unfinished."
Do you know what happens when a lot of things sit unstarted or unfinished?  You get overwhelmed.  You get discouraged.  You give up...leaving even more things on your to-do list unstarted or unfinished.  And how can anything be accomplished if it's never started?  "Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap." (Ecclesiastes 11:4)
Well, next year I'm going to break this cycle.  I'm going to start making goals.  More importantly, I'm going to achieve those goals.  But I'm not going to wait around anymore for "ideal conditions."  I will continue to plan things, because I believe having a game plan can be helpful, smart, and sometimes necessary.  However, I'm not going to waste half my days planning instead of doing.  And I'm not going let making and following plans keep me from enjoying things that aren't a part of the plan.  We all know that life doesn't always go according to plan!
I think I need to remind myself here of the old saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."  Proverbs 16:9 provides us a Biblical reminder of this:  "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps."
(Click here to read another great Proverbs 31 Ministries article about the dangers of overplanning.)
So here's my plan for 2013:
~Set goals.
~Follow through on said goals.
~Be flexible when things don't go as planned.
~Be okay with imperfect progress*.
And most importantly:
~Ask God to reveal what personal goals He wants me to set and for the tools to achieve them.
I'm so excited for my new plan for the new year!  What are your plans for the new year?  Are you making goals?  Resolutions?  Maybe a bucket list of things/activities to check off?  Or even just one thing you've always wanted to do?  I'd love to hear about it!
*The phrase 'imperfect progress' is from Lysa TerKeurst's most recent book, Unglued.  It means making a change (or achieving a goal) takes time, and there may be setbacks, but any progress is good.

Monday, December 24, 2012

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

Tomorrow's the big day.  And tonight's the big night for little ones anxious for a visit from Santa!  I don't know about you and your house, but my house is stirring with excitement!  I woke up today to two little faces peeking in my doorway flashing ornery chocolate-covered smiles, quickly followed by "Can I tear the 2 off?  Can I tear the 2 off? (referring to our Christmas countdown chain)!"
For me, today will be filled with finishing last minute details.  Cooking, cleaning, wrapping, assembling, and more are all in the order of the day.  I'm even making a sure-to-be hectic trip to Walmart before they close this evening - something I don't think I've ever done.  (Wish me luck!)
But this Christmas season has been very different for me this year.  I have never anticipated Christmas day like I am this year, except for maybe as a young child.  But it's not the same kind of anticipation.  Yes, I am excited to see my babies' faces full of joy over their excessive perfectly appropriate amount of presents.  Yes, I'm excited for wrapping paper covered floors, a too-full belly, and a cup of eggnog.  And I'm excited to participate in my in-laws' Christmas traditions for the first time since my husband and I have been married.  (This will be our 5th Christmas as a married couple!)  But that's still not it.
This year I have read, reread, and studied the Christmas story from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke like never before.  I also participated in an Advent Bible Study which was all about staying focused on Jesus.  I truly feel like I am about to witness a miracle tomorrow and see the Christmas story unfold first hand even though it happened so long ago.  I have never felt so close to the story and experienced the joy and hope it offers like I do now.
This is what it's about.
I've always known the reason for the season is Jesus Christ, but now I feel it.  I pray you feel it too!  If you're not quite feeling the joy and excitement you want to feel this Christmas, I urge you to read the Christmas story.  Really read it.  Find a quiet place, light some candles, and pray for your heart to be opened and that God will make each word you read come to life.
Read Luke 1:26-56, Matthew 1: 18-24, Luke 2:1-21, and Matthew 2:1-12.  I promise you will be blessed if you do!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Run for Joy

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
-Hebrews 12:1-2
This was last Friday's Scripture for Good Morning Girls' Advent Study.  As I was "" it (writing out scripture, observations, and applications, then praying), I found myself writing a lot more than I usually do.  It stirred up a lot of thought and emotion, so feeling limited by the space on my sheet of paper, I hopped on the computer to write more here.
First of all, last week's theme for the Advent Study was joy.  Looking at Hebrews 12, we see the word "joy" in verse 2.  But we'll get there later.
Let's talk about sin.  We all do it.  Sometimes we don't mean to, sometimes we don't even know we've sinned, and sometimes we choose to sin, even when we know better.  No matter how or why we sin, we can be sure there'll be consequences.  (Understatement of the year!)  Sin opens up a great big can of worms in our lives.  It leads to more sin.  It traps us.  It entangles us, as we see in Hebrews 12:1. 
Haven't we all been there before?  One sin leads to another, then another, and another...before we know it, we're entangled in sins and can't figure out how we got there.  Sometimes it only takes one sin to entangle us, and we can't move anymore.  We become immobile.
Now look at the next part of the passage:  "And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."  How are we supposed to run a race when we're immobile?  And it's not just any race.  It's THE race.  It's God's will for us.  He has it all marked out for us, and all we have to do is run.  Hard.  With perseverance.  God knows it's not always going to be easy, but He tells us how to do it:  don't let ourselves become entangled in sin, and keep our eyes on Jesus.
Jesus, "the pioneer and perfecter of faith," showed us how to keep our eye on the prize.  He had great faith and you guessed it, JOY.  Joy in the promise of eternal life with God in heaven, and joy in saving us sinners so that we might recieve the same promise.  "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down and the right hand of the throne of God."  Joy was his prize, and Jesus, who brings us true joy, is ours.  And that joy let him not just persevere, but even scorn the obstacles in his path.  What great obstacles they were!  And he scorned them.  He was able to ignore them because he knew better.  And so do we.
We know that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle.  And we know that true joy only comes from accepting Jesus.  And if we choose to follow, our race is already marked out for us.  We just have to run.  Hard.  For joy.  And don't look back!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God is the Solution

Last week something terrible happened in our nation.  Innocent lives were lost.  Young lives were lost.  Lives that had barely begun.
I was in my car on the way to get my kids when I first heard the news of the Sandy Hook shooting on the radio, and I can't begin to express the sadness I felt.  At first the news was awful to hear but seemed somewhat distant.  Then I heard the number of children lost and exactly how young they were and I was overwhelmed with grief for all those affected by that horrifying incident.
I couldn't wait to pick up my sweet babies and hug them long and hard.  Their Daddy called me right before I walked in the door and told me to do the same for him.  I can't begin to imagine how it must feel to lose a child of any age, but losing a young child must feel so unfair, especially in this manner.
Then the media started chiming in and running stories asking "Where was God in all of this?"  I can assure you God was there, waiting for those children with open arms.  I can also assure you that God wanted to be there in a bigger way, but our nation has pushed Him out.
During my Sunday School class a couple mornings ago someone said, "What do you expect when God is pushed out of the schools?"  Another person said they'd seen a comment about how Bibles were banned in school but pushed in prisons.  Now that seems a little backwards, doesn't it?
I came across this speech delivered by Darrell Scott after his daughter's life was lost in the Columbine shooting.  Unfortunately, this speech wasn't widely circulated as it was found offensive by the listening parties.  Scott's words are so powerful and honest, and more than anything, they're true.  I think they need to be shared:
"Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers."

"The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart."

"In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent."

"I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy, it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best."

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You've stripped away our heritage,
You've outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question "Why?"
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!

"Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs -- politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts."

"As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America , and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA -- I give to you a sincere challenge.. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone! My daughter's death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!"

- Darrell Scott

Please say a prayer for those affected by this tragedy, pray that our nation can begin to see the need for God in our society and recognize Him as the solution, and hold your loved ones a little tighter today.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mommy Moment Monday: Happy Birthday to my Sweet Girl

Today my baby girl turns 2.
I know every Mommy gets sentimental on her kid's birthday, and we all say the same things, like "they're getting so big!" and "they grow up so fast!" and "I remember when they were this big!" (as we hold our hands about 20 inches apart).
Well, I don't care if every other Mommy says the same things.  I'm going to say them too!
My little girl is getting so big!  And over the last few months, I can't believe how much she's changed.  And I do remember the day she was born like it was yesterday.  Such a precious moment!  I was so proud of her then, and I'm so proud of everything the she is today!
Okay, sentimental Mommy gush over.
We had our daughter's birthday party over the weekend and I wanted to share some photos with you.
Here's my favorite picture of the night:
The Birthday girl in her Minnie ears!
As you can tell, the theme was Minnie Mouse! 
Here some other pictures:
The centerpiece.
Birthday treats.
The gift table.
Minnie door hanger.
Opening presents.
Showing off her pretty necklace!
                          Not so sure about us singing to her...                       Blowing out the candles!

 Tastes good!
Now it's time for a Minnie Mouse lollipop!
She had a lot of fun at her party, and I did too!  It was a great time spent with family celebrating my daughter.
Happy birthday baby girl!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mommy Moment Monday: My Kids and Christmas

I don't know if I'm having writer's block or what, but I have totally been slacking on this blog!
I guess with both my daughter's birthday party and Christmas fast approaching, my mind is consumed with recipes, favors, decorations, presents, Advent activities, and a million other things besides blogging.  It's unfortunate, because blogging has been such a great release and just a great experience for me so far.  Hopefully I'll get more consistent again as all the birthday and Christmas details come together.
Despite the holiday busyness, my sanity has been ensured by the attention my kids and I have given to keeping Jesus' birth at the top of the importance list this Christmas season.  I cannot say enough how amazing the Good Morning Girls' Avent Bible Study has been in keeping my heart focused on Jesus.  I have been so blessed by the daily readings and family activities!
This week's family activities deals with the Nativity scene.  Each day I'm supposed to wrap a character from the Nativity scene (I'm using a felt sticker set from Hobby Lobby), then have my kids unwrap it and discuss it with them.  Today they unwrapped the three wisemen.  It makes learning fun for them and my son has been excited all day for tomorrow's "present."  On Friday we'll take all the characters we unwrapped throughout the week and put the whole scene together.
Last week was about loving others, and loving others at Christmastime usually means giving.  I helped the kids write thank you notes to give to a few people, we made it a point to do something nice for someone else each day, and our big activity was visiting the bell-ringers at Walmart.  The kids loved it!  The bell-ringers that night happened to be a couple ladies from our church who let the kids ring the bells and took pictures of them putting money in the bucket.  It was such a fun experience for them!  And me too!  ...Even if my daughter then proceeded to throw a fit, scream, and yell while I picked up a few things inside...Life with a toddler!
Speaking of life with a todder, my toddler was boucing off the walls today!  I was looking at my to-do list for this week and feeling quite productive, and then I took my daughter to gymnastics.  She yelled in the car most of the way there.  She wasn't upset, she just wanted to yell for fun.  Then when we got there she decided to run around in circles rather than participate in her class.  I chased her around the entire 30 minutes and I don't think she's ever laughed harder.  She was hilarious!  But oh so exhausting.  On the way home she screamed "Lights!" every time she'd see Christmas lights.  It was cute, but a Momma can only take so much screaming!  My productivity kind of went away by the time we got home.  Anyway...
We've also been keeping up with our Jesse Tree.  Both the kids really like coloring the ornaments and putting them on the tree.  Today, however, my daughter had a major meltdown when I told her it wasn't her turn!  We started out strong in reading the scripture listed for each day (for about the first 2 days), then the kids started getting bored and I got frustrated, so now we compromise.  We talk about each picture and I read a little from the Bible, but instead of reading verbatim I try to put it in story form.  The kids respond much better to this!
We've all enjoyed our fun Christmas activities and have been able to include Daddy in some of them.  We do our Advent activities during the day while he's at work, but we try to do our fun activities with him in the evenings, like playing Merry Christmas Bingo, making Jelly Bean bracelets, and having a movie and popcorn night.  Next on the list is making cinnamon ornaments and maybe some fun fingerpainting projects!
So things may be a little crazy right now, but I am having the best Christmas season I think I've ever had and I'm confident my kids are learning about the importance of Jesus' birth.  I am so proud of my son and the things he's learning about Christmas.  He is so smart and I pray our activities are building the foundation for a Jesus-focused heart and life.  If nothing else, I hope my kids are learning to associate Jesus with Christmas, even if we're still a few years away from them truly understanding the significance.
I hope your Christmas season has been great so far and I hope you can embrace the busyness while remaining focused on Jesus.  It's possible and it's wonderful!  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Be the Church

Recently I came across this question someone had posted on Facebook:
"Do we (in the church) sometimes confuse relationship with the church and relationship with Christ?"
Good question, isn't it?!
Then I saw someone share this image in response to the question:
Photo: i grabbed this pic just b4 reading your post about relationships...
This really got me thinking, and it made me realize that I've been struggling with this for a while now.  I realized that I found so much of my identity in my church back in Illinois as well as the people in it.  All of our friends were from that church: mine, my husband's and our kids'.  We saw those people at church related activities 3 times a week and saw some of them more often than that.  Before we moved we were getting to know more fellow members and were trying to get more involved.  We had a great relationship with our church.  And I think I really did equate that with a relationship with God.

I do think a relationship with a church can be associated and somewhat telling of a relationship with God, but they are not equal nor interchangeable.
When we moved, I thought my life would make perfect sense again when we found a new church.  I knew we probably wouldn't find something as special as what we had before, but I thought we'd find something that felt right.
Well, it didn't happen right away.   And I'm not sure that it has, although we've been regularly attending a church for a handful of months now.  I even call it "our church" when I talk about it, but I don't feel any deep ties to it yet.
However, I do like it.  I want to be there Sunday mornings.  My kids like it.  And I have met a lot of wonderful people, many of whom I think will be lifelong friends.  But the church doesn't offer many of the things we'd like - many of the things we had before.
Over the last few months I've found myself thinking we'll always go to church, but we'll never have a church.  I've felt very discouraged and wondered if we'd ever find a place for our family - a place where we "belong".
Have you noticed yet how self-centered all of this sounds? 
"I thought." 
"Our church." 
"I want." 
"We'd like."
So again, "Do we (in the church) sometimes confuse relationship with the church and relationship with Christ?"  My answer to the question is "yes!"  Not everyone confuses them, but I have.  I've got it backwards.
Since the church we're attending doesn't offer all the same things we used to have, I've been trying to make up for it on my own a little bit.  I've started this blog, which requires me do some Bible study and some soul searching.  I've been following online Bible studies.  I've read a couple Christian books that were really great.  (Ask me if you want to know which ones!)  And I've actually learned a lot!
But I've been holding back.  I've been waiting to find the "right" church before I felt like everything was right with me and God.  Like my faith depended on finding the right church.  And that's just not true.
Jesus is the truth.  And he is the way and the life.  There is no other way to God and eternal life than through Jesus (John 14:6), no matter where I go to church.
I will continue to make ties in church.  I will continue to be involved.  I will continue to worship with fellow believers.  And someday I hope to find a church to place our membership in again.  Maybe it'll be the church we're attending now.  I don't know.  But these things are important to me and I believe these are things I should do.
But now I understand that none of this necessarily means I have a good relationship with God.  It may be a good indicator, but it means absolutely nothing if I'm not right with God first.
Matthew 7: 21-23 says, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?'  Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!'"
Does this scare you?  I does me!  I don't want to be a false disciple like in this passage.  And I definitely don't want to be turned away by Jesus.
So how do we ensure our priorities are right?  The answer's simple:  Love God.  Study His word.  Share His word.  Pray continually.  Live for Him.  Love others.
Then everything you do will be the Lord's will!  And you won't just go to church; you'll truly be His church!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mommy Moment Monday: Let the Countdown Begin!

Twenty-two days.
That's it.
That's all there is, and then it's Christmas!
I'm sure many of you are sharing this sentiment, but where did the time go?!  I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner!
And I have this countdown chain (however cute it may be) hanging in our living room, relentlessly reminding me of the quickly approaching holiday!
We made this from construction paper and this cute printable from Confession of a Homeschooler.
It never fails that I spend days, weeks, and even months planning for Christmas, then one day I wake up in a panic that I'm about to run out of time!  You'd think with all that planning I'd be perfectly calm and prepared, but no.  It never works out that way.  Today was that day for me.  Maybe the fact that not only is Christmas quickly approaching, but my daughter's birthday party is in less than 2 weeks, aggravated the matter just a little.
But that's okay.  Everything always works out in the end.  And this year I'm trying hard to focus my attention as well as my kids' on Jesus rather than "stuff," so I have to keep reminding myself that all the "stuff" that goes along with preparing for Christmas and the "stuff" that end does and doesn't end up under the Christmas tree isn't really all that important.
However, it's really hard to keep the kids' focus on Jesus when we're lighting candles and reading Scripture one minute, and writing an "I want" letter to Santa the next. 
(Any tips on having fun with Santa while making sure your preschoolers know the importance of Jesus' birth would be very welcomed!)
I will say my husband and I seem to be more "in the spirit" than the last few years.  I think seeing our kids' excitement brings out the kid inside and make us a little more excited!  My husband took the kids out earlier tonight and had them "help" put up our icicle lights.  They had a lot of fun, and it was adorable hearing my 4 year old sing 'Christmas Lights' (his made-up song) to the tune of Jingle Bells.  And we went to a drive-through lights display last week and had so much fun we've decided we want to go every week until Christmas!

The most exciting thing about this year so far is that I've seen my son learn a lot about Jesus and his birth.  He's learned from Sunday school as well as our Jesse Tree and the Advent study I'm doing.  Half of the time I feel frustrated because he doesn't seem to be paying any attention, but then I ask him a question and he tells me everything I said.  I am so unbelievably proud of him!  Last year we made sure he knew Christmas was Jesus' birthday, but this year he's actually learning the details of the story.
So really, among all the hustle and bustle, I think we're counting down to what's going to be our best Christmas yet.  My hope is that each year gets better and better.  I pray that as my kids get older they can appreciate what Christmas is really about - that they can fully grasp what Jesus' birth meant so long ago, what it means for them now, and what it means for their future.
I know my kids are young and it'll still be a while before they reach that point, but until then, I hope we can make it a fun-filled, Jesus-centered holiday for them!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent Activities

Okay, so yesterday I briefly explained what Advent is and what it's already meant to me this year.
Now I want to share some ways you can participate in Advent!
First of all, I recommend the Advent study from Good Morning Girls.  The Scriptures are short, the activities are easy, and they've already put everything together for you.  You can do it on your own or include your family.  Personally, I've enjoyed the family activities and my kids have too.  Today we made peppermint bark and you should have seen my kiddos whacking those candy canes to bits - they didn't stand a chance!
If you don't want to follow an actual study, you could read Bible verses related to Jesus' birth each day in December leading up to Christmas.  Nothing brings you closer to Jesus than reading about Him in the Bible!  Here's a list of 25 Christmas related Scriptures.  And if you have kids, you can print this list out and make it into a Christmas countdown paper chain!
One of my favorite ideas is a Jesse Tree.  According to Christmas Your Way, a Jesse Tree is an Advent activity in which you place one ornament each day on a Christmas tree of your choice.  Each ornament has a picture which represents "a bit of lineage of Christ," beginning from creation and traveling through the Old and New Testaments to Jesus' birth.  The inspiration comes from Isaiah 11:1, which says, "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit."  Jesus is that Branch.
 Christmas Your Way has a super kid-friendly printable ornaments that your kids can color each day and place on your Jesse Tree.  The illustrations are blank and look like pictures from a coloring book.  (This is what we're going to use this year!  Now I just have to come up with a Jesse Tree by tomorrow...)
I found more printable ornaments from A Holy Experience which are already colored and look a little more grown up.  Or you can print them off in black and white to be colored by your kids.  (Or you.)  They even offer a downloadable Jesse Tree Advent ebook with short devotionals for each day.  You should check it out!

You could make an Advent wreath, or make/buy an Advent calendar.  The possibilities are endless with a calendar!  You could choose to buy one (believe me, there are a TON out there!), or you could make one.  I've seen a Nativity calendar on which you add a part of the scene each day, ending with Jesus on Christmas day, and I've seen one shaped like a Christmas tree on which you add an "ornament" each day.  I've even seen a handmade Santa calendar on which you place a cotton ball each day to complete Santa's beard by Christmas.  (Thank you Pinterest!)

 Some Advent calendars are made to hold something small for each day, like little gifts or candy.  My sweet friend over at More Sweet Tea Please? is filling hers with slips of paper containing random acts of kindness which she's planning on doing with her 3 year old.

 And if you don't have an official Advent calendar or countdown to use, you could always just come up with a list of 25 activities to do.  They could be acts of kindness, Christmas crafts, baking, or fun family activities.  Or a combination!  There's a lot of freedom here.  I've started a list for my family and tomorrow we'll be kicking things off by making a coundown paper chain.

So I've shared just a few ways to celebrate Advent.  I encourage you to find a way to celebrate by yourself or with your family!  Any Christian would benefit greatly by making it a point to focus on Jesus this season.  We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but celebrating Advent, however you choose, can prepare your heart to fully feel the hope and joy of the miracle of Jesus' birth, the love and grace we receive every day, and the promise of His return!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
-Romans 15:13

What is Advent?

A few months ago I participated in an online Bible study through Good Morning Girls and I loved it! 
Then I saw they were doing an Advent study which they claimed would prepare my heart for Christmas.  And it included family activities!  I've never done anything special to prepare my heart for Christmas, and now I have kids who need to know the true meaning of Christmas, so I decided to sign up.
But what exactly was Advent?
I'd heard the word "Advent" before, and I knew it was some sort of Christmas tradition involving candles and a countdown calendar, but that's it.  I had no idea what it was about.
I still don't know everything about it, but I think understand the important parts a little better now.
The Advent study began this week, but before it started Good Morning Girls shared a post titled What is "Advent" Anyway...  Perfect!
It explained that the word advent means "the waiting on the arrival of something important."  At Christmastime that 'something important' is, of course, Jesus.
But Advent isn't just a time to celebrate Jesus' birth, it's also a time to prepare for Christ's return.
The post went on to say that it is a time to see God "in our past, our future and our present," and that "Advent is a deep daily focus on Jesus."
There were also two vidoes that explained Advent even more in depth which I found very helpful.  One of them said that Advent is "expectant waiting, hopeful anticipation, and cheerful preparation."  The other said Advent is a time to feel great joy that Jesus came and that He's coming again!
I'm only four days into the study, but I know I'm already more excited and focused on "The Reason for the Season" than I ever have been before.  I've always known what Christmas was truly about, but I have never been this deeply focused.
Yesterday I read the daily scripture which was Jeremiah 33:14-15 -
" 'The days are coming,' declared the Lord, 'when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.
" 'In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land.
As I read I felt excited and hopeful about God's good promise!  About the righteous Branch!  About Jesus' impending arrival!
Then I laughed a little and thought, "Jesus already came!"
I felt like I was about to witness a miracle, but in reality I already have!  I'm already a part of that miracle - that good promise from God.  We all are!
I felt a little disappointed in myself for not having felt that excitement and hope before.  And not just at Christmastime, but every day of every year!
Because yes, our Savior did come, but there's still more to this story:  He's coming back.  Praise God!
I hope this makes you as excited as it makes me!
I encourage you to take part in Advent, whether you actually call it "Advent" or just "getting into the spirit of Christmas."  There are so many ways to observe Advent and to keep Jesus in the spotlight this Christmas.  And it's so easy to include your kids!
Tomorrow I'll share some ways to celebrate Advent, and most of them are kid-friendly, so check back soon!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Real Courage

Courage [kur-ij] noun  1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery (from
In the past few weeks, two women I know displayed great courage.  They didn't face a life or death situation, but they did face their own problems.  Even more than that, they shared their difficulties with others.  They opened up and they were honest.
Sometimes honesty takes a whole lot of courage.
Because being honest means letting your guard down.  It means no secrets.  It means showing others the good...and the bad.  It means opening up the possibility of a negative response.  That takes courage!
It's not that these women were dishonest to others in some way and then had to come clean.  That's not what I mean at all.  I mean they owned their problems, dealt with them (and are continuing to deal with them), and then shared their problems as well as their progress. 
And they held nothing back.
Let me tell you, I admire these two women greatly!  They are such an encouragement and inspiration to me!
They could have easily kept everything to themselves, dealing with their problems on their own, and avoiding the possibility of judgement from others.  They took a risk.  A big risk.  And their honesty had a huge impact on me.
Their raw honesty represented hope to me.  Hope of overcoming difficulty.  Hope of moving on.  Hope of second chances.  Hope of change.  Hope of a softened heart.
Their honesty was also a comfort to me.  To see these women who had gone through something, who had learned and grown from it, and then were confident and brave enough open up and even use their experiences to encourage others...and then to be totally accepted.  I find that very comforting!
What if I'm in that situation some day?  What if I'm the one sharing my heart and being completely honest about my struggles?  I know I'd be nervous and scared, and would probably be devising multiple escape plans! 
 I also know I wouldn't want to be judged, looked down upon, or gossiped about.  I would need a lot of courage to be honest on the level these women were.
And you know where that courage comes from?
Isaiah 41:10 says, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Joshua 1:9 says, "...Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
That's what made these women truly courageous.  They turned to God, and God strengthened them. 
And God used them to encourage others. 
...To encourage me.
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..."
(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


No, I'm not talking about the popular vehicles-turned-robots from another world whose sole purpose is to establish peace...although we have plenty of them lying around the house...
I'm talking about my kids.
It never ceases to amaze me how different my kids can seem from one day to the next.  They change constantly.  They transform.  It's such a bittersweet (and sometimes frustrating) but beautiful thing to see!
They're my little transformers.  But I don't get to twist them here, bend them there, and change them into something new!
I do have a major influence on their development, but they are their own little persons.  They change.  They learn.  They grow.  (And if anyone is getting twisted and bent into something new, it's me, not them!)
I get to help shape them, but regardless of what I say or do, a part of them will keep changing and transforming all on its own - and I pray it's according to God's will for them.
God made each of my kids unique, and He made them just as He wanted them to be.
He also made plans for them (Jeremiah 29:11).  So just like a toy transformer starts out as one thing and then converts to another, I believe God had a specific transformation in mind for each of my children when He first thought of them.
But let's point out that transformers are not shape-shifters.  They don't turn into anything they want.  They don't morph into something entirely different from what they started as.
Every single piece of them moves and shifts and rearranges into something new, but all the original parts are still there.
I believe my first job as their mom is to love and embrace each and every one of their "parts."  My second job is to then teach them to love and embrace all that they are.  Then we seek God's will and let the transformation begin!
As any parent would, I hope and pray I get to see my kids transform according to God's plan.  I want to know they've become what God planned for them to be.  But I know it's probably not going to be that simple.
Their transformations probably won't be seamless.  Sometimes it takes a few tries and a few wrong moves to figure out how to transform that vehicle into its robot counterpart.  And sometimes it's confusing and frustrating and the transformer is left in an awkward inbetween state.
I'm pretty sure I've been in that awkward inbetween state for a long time!  And maybe everyone else is too.  Maybe life here on Earth is one long awkward inbetween state and we're not fully transformed until the end of our days.
In that case, the important thing is to recognize God has a plan for us.  And even if we can't recognize exactly what that plan is, we must have faith and allow God to slowly transform us, one piece at a time.  
The alternative is to end up as an unrecognizable jumbled up mess, stuck somewhere in the middle, and I know I don't want that for myself or my kids!
And just as it's a beautiful thing to see our little ones constantly changing and growing before our eyes, God must love to see our progress, not matter how imperfect it is.
And as parents, let's remember that God's plan for our children is more important than ours.  Let us fully enjoy every little change we see in our kids, all while encouraging them to seek God's will and to let God transform them.  Let us pray to God that our plans for our children never get in the way of His.  And let us not forget that we're also still a work in progress!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give Thanks

I'm not going to say a lot today.  I shouldn't even be saying this much!

I am scrambling around (as I'm sure many of you are too) doing dishes and laundry, packing bags, cleaning, and taking care of any other last minute thing that needs done before a trip.  It's amazing how much work goes into leaving the house for just one night!  Throw a couple kids into the mix and things get really crazy!

Anyway, I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and remind everyone to take the time to truly be thankful.

Before you sink into your turkey coma and then apply your war paint a few hours later for Black Friday, just stop and count your blessings.  Be grateful for your family and friends you get to spend time with.  Be grateful for a warm house and great food.  Be grateful to be alive!  

There are so many people who will be spending Thanksgiving alone and many families with nothing to eat.  So go ahead and eat as much as you can, but remember to be truly grateful for the abundance of food in front of you.  And before your roll your eyes and get annoyed with that off-the-wall relative you only see once a year, remember to be truly grateful you have family to spend the day with...then it's fair game :)

And please please please remember and recognize who you're giving thanks to!

Everything we have comes from God.  Our God is good and He provides!  He provides us with so much more than we could ever ask for...yet we sure do ask for a lot sometimes.

And many of us will be asking for a lot on Friday and spending our hard earned money at the Black Friday sales, which is okay, just remember to be grateful you have the means to do so!  Don't let your thankfulness end at 12 midnight when the first store opens and the craziness begins.

I know you already know all of this, but sometimes it's easy to forget.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Operation: FAILED. Almost...

Okay, so this year I decided to fill and send two shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  I was so excited to do it, and even more excited to include my kids in the process.

If you don't know what Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is, follow the link above and check it out.  It's a really neat ministry, and it's so fun to be a part of! 

Here's OCC's mission, as stated on their website: "The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ."
Two Sundays ago I grabbed a couple shoeboxes and immediately started telling my kids all about the OCC ministry.  I decided to do a girl age 2-4 box and a boy age 2-4 box to make it more personal for us.  We've talked about it every day since then and I've been especially proud of my son, who's really been interested and trying hard to understand the concept that other kids aren't as fortunate as he is.
I went shopping multiple times throughout this past week for items to fill up the boxes, and spent a lot of time packing and re-packing them (after my kids "helped" me) to get everything to fit just right. 
Yesterday was the last day to drop off the shoe boxes, and I finally finished and was satisfied with ours Sunday evening.  I hadn't intended on waiting to the last minute to drop them off, and there was suprisingly no procrastination on this project.  (I'm normally a HUGE proctrastinator!)  I just really put a lot of time and thought into the boxes and wanted to get them perfect.
Yesterday morning the kids and I slept in a bit, ate a late breakfast, had company over mid-morning, then ate lunch, got ready to leave (we were all still in PJs at this point), waited for a friend to drop something by the house, and finally pulled out of the driveway at 2:30.  For those of you who were more on the ball about Operation Christmas Child than I was are saying "You missed the deadline!  It was at 10:00 am!"
Ugh.  What a disappointment!  Not only for me, but for the kids I've been praying for that were supposed to receive our boxes!  Status of our operation:  FAILED.
Now here's where my husband comes into the story.  He is always trying to fix problems and comes up with 4 answers for every question.  And it's always so obvious to him.  Most of the time it drives me crazy!  But yesterday I was so grateful for this characteristic!  He simply said, "Once the boxes are picked up from the drop-off location they have to go somewhere - so find out where they go and ship your boxes there."
So that's what I did.  I found the address for the OCC headquarters and shipped our boxes this morning.
So now 1 more little boy and 1 more little girl will get a shoebox full of gifts this Christmas.  And more importantly, they'll hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Amen!
For those of you who are interested, you can still be a part of Operation Christmas Child.  They take donations year round, and you can send a packed shoebox year round as well.  (You can find all of this information on their website.)
Or you can pray:
-Pray for the processing and shipping of the boxes. 
-Pray that God directs those boxes into just the right little hands. 
-Pray that God uses OCC to bring joy to kids facing poverty, sickness, or war. 
-Pray the boxes will open doors for those children to hear the Good News. 
-Pray for all the people helping making this ministry possible - the volunteers, contributors, the  National Leadership Team - and every hand who touches one of the shoe boxes.
-And pray for those children, those beautiful children, whose hardships we can't even begin to imagine, and who will surely be blessed by the OCC ministry!
"...for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.' And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." (Mark 10:14b-16)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Today I'm Thankful For...

So here we are on November 16, over halfway through 30 Days of Gratitude.  I'm assuming by the number of "thankful for" posts I've been seeing on my Facebook newsfeed that many of you are doing this, or something like it, as well.
Hasn't it blessed you? We've been doing it as a family and it has definitely blessed us!
My husband and I thoroughly enjoy hearing what our kids say they're thankful for each night.  They say the most precious things!  And they really put some thought into it, too.  Our not-even-two year old has contributed every night, which has surprised both my husband and me...even if sometimes she seems to look around and say the first thing that comes to her mind (like teeth, and light), and even if she's said the same thing for the last 5 days...
And our 4 year old has been so enthusiastic about the 30 Days of Gratitude that he says things he's thankful for throughout the day, unprompted, and then at night, when we do it together, he makes sure I write what he says down...right there, right then.
Now my husband and I, on the other hand, seem to get so excited to hear what our kids are thankful for that we sometimes forget to write something down ourselves.  That happens a lot as parents, doesn't it?!  We get too busy focusing on our kids that we forget about ourselves.
But this is important for us too!  In fact, I think it's more important as parents to have a truly grateful heart!  No matter how often we have our kids say something they're thankful for, they're probably not going to fully understand the concept unless they see Mommy and Daddy showing honest gratitude.
And as adults, parent or not, I think it's so easy to get caught up in the things around us and lose sight of all that we've been blessed with.  We complain, we worry, we work hard for bigger and better things, and we forget that our God has already given us everything we need and more.
So today, among many other things, I am thankful that God provides.  And I'm thankful for the privilege, honor, and responsibility of being a parent to two beautiful children.  I pray that I can show them what it looks like to have a thankful heart and that I can instill gratitude in them.
I am also grateful to be back on the internet today and sharing my heart again; it's been too long!  Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Month of Gratitude

My Facebook newsfeed has been taken over by posts of gratitude since yesterday!
I enjoy reading what everyone is thankful for, but isn't it interesting we all wait until November each year to give thanks consistently?
Now I'm not about to claim that I know how grateful or ungrateful the next person is throughout the rest of the year, because I don't.  I'm also not claiming I am grateful every day, all the time, because I'm not.  All I know is that if we took the time and effort to focus on and share with others what we're grateful for on a daily basis - WOW, would our general attitudes towards life be different!  Can you imagine?!
Just think about it.  It's positive psychology: you think positive, you feel positive.  Or in this case, you think grateful, you feel grateful.
Paul tells us in Colossians 3:17 that "whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Notice he says "whatever" you do, not "some things" you do.
This is reinforced in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 - "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
ALL circumstances.
Psalm 118:24 reminds us be grateful we're here and alive.  It says, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

That's every day - not just 30 days out of each year.
And more than just giving thanks, the Bible tells us to have "thankfulness in [our] hearts to God (Colossians 3:16)."  We are to be genuinely grateful and thankful in our hearts to offer honest thanks to our Lord.  So again, we think grateful, we feel grateful.
I want to have a grateful heart, all the time, in every circumstance.  So I need to start by thinking grateful, like so many others are doing now.  I probably won't publicly share something new on Facebook each day, but I did find a great little printout over at Motherhood on a Dime.

printable gratitude journal

It's a 30 day gratitude journal that the blogger created to use with her family throughout the month of November.  I love the idea of doing this with my family!  She says, "the idea is to simply get in the habit of saying thanks to God and to those around us."  And my hope is that if my family can do this together for 30 days, we can remain grateful each day after.  It will be our mindset, and it will be in our hearts.

I can't wait to get started!  I especially can't wait to see what our son says when I ask him what he's thankful for.  But I'll begin by sharing what I'm thankful for right now:  My family, and the God-given opportunity to think grateful, feel grateful, and change our hearts together.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

From House to Home and Beyond

I have none.
Okay, maybe a little.
But not much.
So here I am today, feeling like I'm about to make a New Year's resolution...on November 1st.  (There's nothing wrong with getting a head start, right?)  I, Carrie, resolve to have a more disciplined life!
Last week I got to read and review an eBook called 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life, and I absolutely loved it!  It was such an easy read and had some great, practical tips for achieving more self-discipline in your life, which is something I desperately need!
I truly believe the tips and suggestions in the eBook are very feasible - if you actually follow them.  But that's where my problem is.  I have a million things in my life that I'd like to be more disciplined in, and I say over and over again with all good intention that I'm going to change my habits...and then I just don't do it.
Then I read this eBook, and as soon as I finished it I was inspired enough to get up and accomplish something - right then!  So I tackled a project I'd been ingnoring for a while and really made a lot of progress.  Since then, I've not really done anything else.
So here I am again, starting over.  I'm re-reading the eBook, and following the 21-Day Self-Discipline Challenge, which I am so excited about! I'm go glad for the bloggers who organized this challenge, which is inspired by 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.
The challenge for Day 1 is to complete a small task that has been nagging me, choose a "mega project" to work on over the next 21 days, break it down into 21 bite-size chunks, and then complete the first chunk.
Just typing that sounds a little overwhelming, but I'm not backing down.  Chapter 1 of the eBook puts it plain and simple:  "I am the problem, but I am also the solution."  Convicting, yet encouraging...So no excuses this time!
Since we officially sold our old house last week, we finally have everything moved.  And "everything" is a lot!  But there's this one laundry basket that has been sitting in the corner of my bedroom for weeks now, so I chose it for my nagging task to complete.  I finally found a place for everything in it, and I am so glad to see it empty!  (Now I can actually use it for the 20 loads of laundry I do each day!)
Now, my mega project:  No, it's not unpacking all the boxes from the move - although it probably should be!  I want to decorate our house.  Most of the walls in our new place are completely bare, and I am more than ready to make this place look like a home, not an apartment.
So each day for the next 21 days, I am going to get materials for decorating projects, work on those projects, and watch our house get a whole lot more "homey."  Today I have no materials (just a ton of ideas), so the first chunk of my mega project is simply choosing which pictures from our recent family photo shoot to print and display.
Easy enough, right?  And the way things are broken down, each day should be pretty easy.  Then, after 21 days, I'll have accomplished a lot!  Not only will my house look more like a home, I'll have completed a project, from beginning to end.  I'll have achieved a little more self-confidence and self-discipline.  And I honestly believe it's going to overflow into other areas of my life and encourage me to keep going strong.  This is just the beginning guys!
Follow me over the next 21 days - once a week I'll give an update on my progress.  Better yet, follow the 21-Day Challege button below and start your own journey to a more disciplined life!
21 Day Self Discipline Challenge

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat

Today I want to share an email I received recently.  It had a "trick or treat" theme to coincide with the upcoming holiday, which is here today!  Happy Halloween!
But before I get into our Halloween activities...the email:
It started out by saying how relevant the phrase "trick or treat" is - not just for Halloween - but for our everyday lives.  A newborn sleeps through the night for the first time - trick or treat?  Workloads are reassigned - trick or treat?  A particular statement said on any given day - trick or treat?
I never really thought of life that way, but it's so true!  We're constantly questioning things around us and wondering if things are for real or not.  (At least I know I am!)  My kids wake up in a happy and in a good mood - trick or treat?  Someone does something nice for me - trick or treat?  Something good happens or I can see some light at the end of the tunnel I've been going through - trick or treat?
When I thought about it, I started feeling bad about all the things I question in life, but then I realized something:  Nothing about life on earth is certain, so no wonder we question it so much!
The email ended this way:
" 'I am the first and the last,' says the Lord God Almighty, who is, who was and is to come.
The trick is to put our faith in God and recognize our overflowing bag of treats!"
Don't you love that?  We really do have an overflowing bag of treats, don't we?  God is the only thing that is certain and the only person or thing we should place our trust in.  God does not change.  He is consistent, and He is good.  We can, and should, trust in Him, always!
Okay, so now on to the Halloween festivities!
First of all, my kids were little skeletons this year - they were so cute!
Our first Halloween activity was a Fall Festival and one of the churches here in town.  We ate hotdogs, played games, and watched a shadow box show, which the kids thought was really neat!
Then that same church had a Trunk or Treat later that evening...which we kind of missed...  We showed up with 30 minutes left, but they had already broken things down and left.  I guess the flow of kids came right at the start and died off rather quickly.  Luckily, a few of the volunteers were still around filled up the kids goodie bags even if we did miss the Trunk or Treat experience!
Yesterday the kids had a Halloween party at playgroup and had a blast!  ...Although by the end they were exhausted,  loaded up on sugar, and majorly acting out...SO much fun.
Last night we celebrated Halloween here in town.  We went to another Trunk or Treat (to which we actually arrived early!), and the kids loved it!  There were also a couple of bouncy houses and some games for the kids to play, and then they got their picture taken in front of a really cute Fall background - can't wait to see it!
After that we went trick or treating at my in-laws house, a few friends' houses around town, and ended up at another friends' grandma's house where we stayed the rest of the evening.  She cooks lots of yummy food and treats each year and friends are invited in to just sit and enjoy each other's company while the kids play.  It was so much fun!
This morning we went to story time where the kids got to feel the inside of a pumpkin and go "trick or treating" through the library, and tonight we're ending the Halloween season with some pumpkin carving!
It's been fun (for the most part), but I'm glad it's almost over.  Now I just have to figure out what to do with all the candy!
Here are a couple pictures from the Trunk or Treat:
Enjoying a sucker!
Checking out the Rt. 66 trunk.
Hope you all had/have a great Halloween this year, and remember what our real treat in life is!