Thursday, December 29, 2011

Caffeinated Randomness - Resolutions

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It is here again: the New Year.  We all knew it was coming.  The signs were there.  Thanksgiving came and went.  We all turned our clocks back (with the exception of my Saskatchewan friends).  We put up Christmas decorations and some of us braved Boxing Day sales (Canada's version of Black Friday).  So, why am I shocked that 2011 is almost gone and 2012 is on its way?

A lot of things have happened this year.  We met autism and discovered its effect on our lives.  We made the decision to move to a province with better funding for children with special needs.  We slowly watched as Sam needed a patch to correct a lazy eye to full surgery to correct the issue.  We have struggled with depression and frustration.  New schools and old job.  Throw in 4 boughts of stomach flus in which the 2nd one took out our old washer and you have a fraction of what our 2011 looked like.

I am hopeful that 2012 will be better.  I am getting pumped at what the New Year will look like.  I have been inspired to look at Resolutions as changes I want to make.  Not the typical eat less, lose weight, etc.... resolutions, but actual habits.  Last year I participated in the 3 in 30 Challenge for the first few months.  I looked each month at a spiritual, emotional and physical habit to work on.  I will be doing the same this year.  I am going to choose a few habits and exercises that I want to accomplish this year.  I don't want to set myself up for failure.  I want to set myself up for success.  

Spiritually I will be working on reading the Bible chronologically, memorizing scripture and continuing participating with my Good Morning Girls Facebook group.  I also will be tackling at least one non fiction book each month.  I have promised myself that I will not buy any more books until I read the ones that I have already.  I have a lot so I may not be able to buy any books until 2013.  I feel these are some easy goals to complete.   I have been getting up at 6:30 am to do my devotion time (OK, so I make it up at least 3 times a week).  I also will be watching less tv during the day.  Most of what's on during the day is just ridiculous and time wasting so I can fill it with other things or if I need a break, I'll read some fluff.

Physically I am going to try to make getting active a regular routine in my life.  I am pretty sedentary (well as sedentary as a mom can be).  I live behind a park and a walk way and watch people walk by all the time.  It's time I get out and walk.  I can take advantage of the days where it is just Sammy and me,  put him in a stroller and walk for a while.  There's a bakery/coffee shop about a 20 minute walk from my house.  I'm sure that I can talk him into  going there.  On days where I can't get out I have a treadmill that sits alone in my basement, rarely used.  I need to start using it.  Over the last few days I have struggled in watching the kids watch TV or play their video games.  I remember when I was a kid and played outside all the time.  But then my family was outside a lot.  How can I force them to go out and play if I do not exhibit it myself?  I am hoping that by my getting out and about that the kids will be encouraged to do it as well.

As I have said before 2011 was draining.  In 2012 I want to focus on the positive.  Not in a false Pollyanna style but in a way that encourages those around me.  I want to be honest about my feelings.  When I am not doing well, I want to be able to tell people that and it be OK.  I don't want to wear a false smile and say "Great!"  Sometimes things aren't OK.  I think we need to be open with the people around us.  When we are struggling, we need to let them know.  People who read this blog know more about my struggles than people who I see at Church each week.  That's wrong and I am going to end it.  I cannot be emotionally healthy unless I am willing to be honest with not just myself, but with those around me.  Life is hard.  It's not easy and again, that's OK.  

As you may have noticed this year I was a little up and down with the blog.  I was wondering if I was even going to continue the blog or not.  This past week I have been really inspired and lead by God regarding the blog.  I have a tonne of ideas that I need to get on and posted.  I am not going to say that I will be blogging daily, but I will be blogging more than I have in the past few months.  I even am going to set some time each week to work on my blog.  I have someone coming in to do respite with the boys and I may use that time to blog or clean or just sit and drink coffee peacefully.

As you can see I am excited and hopeful for 2012.  I really feel like I may be seeing the light at the end of the valley of the deepest darkness.  What are your resolutions this year?  What are you going to be working on?  



Come join in the random fun.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday's Voice - Iran


Officials Frantically Deny Spread of the Gospel
The Iranian media is desperate to refute claims that Christianity is spreading among Iranian youth and through cities considered to be almost exclusively Islamic. The government-supported Jomhouri-e-Eslami daily newspaper is calling the spread of Christianity an unfounded rumour, but there are definite contradictions in fact to this statement. On October 2, the government-supported news website, Javan-Online, acknowledged that the acceptance of Christianity was becoming a trend and reported 200 house churches were discovered in just a few months in the traditionally Islamic city of Mashhad.
Moslehi also cryptically announced there will be a new effort to fight the growth of house churches in Iran, and there are serious concerns that this Christmas season could bring intense persecution for Christians. Last Christmas season, authorities from the Ministry of Intelligence raided house churches and the homes of believers in Iran arresting hundreds of Christian.
Pray the Body of Christ will continue to multiply and mature despite persecution. 

Pray the government will be open to change and allow full rights and protection for non-Muslims. 

Pray that those who flee Iran will find refuge and help. 

The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray (Samuel Chadwick)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I'm a Geek!

I am a geek!  Only a geek would get excited when our Pastor announced that the Bible League of Canada Devotional Day Planner was in and available.  I managed to grab one of the last ones available.  I actually got a little nervous I wouldn't get one when I saw so many of the ladies with them at coffee.  This lovely planner has daily devotional readings, an area to write daily prayer requests and several reading plans.  This year the main reading plan is a chronological reading of the Bible in a year.


Last year I attempted to read the Bible in 90 days with Moms Toolbox.  I made it through to Luke.  That's the furthest I have ever made it in one go.  I justified that I have read Acts to Jude on my own before and in other studies.  So the only book I haven't read is Revelation.  Note how I put "justified".  I feel bad that I didn't finish the B90 challenge.  I enjoyed reading and learning more of God's word and the history of God's people.  I feel like a "drop out. "B90 drop out, no graduation day for you....."  I can hear Frankie Avalon singing it to me while I sit in a nice church pew (think Grease, without the pink hair).  

This fall I decided not to try the challenge again.  I wanted to focus on  getting up and studying daily (I'm still working on this) with Good Morning Girls.  I've met a great bunch of ladies who I have become close to even though I have only met one of them in person.  But.....I still feel lead to read my Bible start to finish.  

This fall I also discovered this and have been coveting it ever since.:


I love the look of this Bible and since I do not currently own a NKJV translation, it is definitely the one I will be ordering in the future.  It comes with maps and articles about the historical context.  It also is in full colour.  

Because I do not believe in coincidences, but believe in the leading of the Holy Spirit, I feel lead to read the Bible chronologically this year.  I will be posting a weekly reading plan on my side bar and posting each Thursday what God has been teaching me or leading me in my reading.  The reading plan I will be following is from the Devotional Day Planner.  If anyone is interested in joining me I may post a link each week after my post.  

I can not wait to get started and can not wait to see where God leads me in this journey.  Won't you join me?

I'm linking up with Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood at Finding Heaven. 



Friday, December 23, 2011

Caffeinated Christmas - It Was the Night Before Christmas and Other Stories...

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I love Christmas books.  In fact we have a whole box of Christmas books that get brought out the day the decorations come out.  The kids get excited when they see the books.  Some of the books are tradtional.  Some are contemporarary.  Some focus on Santa.  Most focus on the Nativity.  Some of these books are new.  Some we have picked up at second hand stores.  Each represents Christmas in some way.  I thought this week that I would share my favourites with you.

Shortly after being married and becoming a Christian I heard the writer of "one silent night", Janice Chaffee being interviewed on her book.  It was a compilation of various Christmas stories of women of all walks of life.  Some are well known Christians and some were just ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances.  It's a great reminder that we only see the outside of people and never truly know their whole story.


Every household needs a version of "A Night Before Christmas".  The one we own is the original poem by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by Cheryl Harness. 


While I read this to the kids, I often start singing as I sang this in elementary school.  I still remember the tune for 3/4 of the book.  

"Twinkle Twinkle Christmas Star" by Christine Harder Tangveld is another book that I sing to.  You can't help it when you read it.  Sam can now hum to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, so I read it to him often.  I love how the star gets bigger and bigger as you get closer to the end.  The focus is on the Star of Bethlehem and all who follow it.


A book that I feel will become a classic is "We Believe in Christmas" by Karen Kingsbury.  I love the flow of the book.  It's a great reminder of what we are really to focus on during the Christmas season.  Sometimes it's hard for us to explain to our children why we believe.  This book helps us explain to them why.  The illustrations are also great in that it depicts an average family traveling to Church for their Christmas Pagent with views along the way of the outward visuals of Christmas. 


One of my new favourie holiday books is "Llama Llama Holiday Drama" by Anne Dewdney.  Sometimes as adults it is easy to forget how our holiday stress can affect the kids.  We drag them shopping with us, we get them to help decorate and bake.  They are eventually going to blow.  I love how this book reminds us that just being together is what makes Christmas so special, not all the hoopla that we think we need.  The Mama Llama is very smart.  I want to be like her when I grow up. 


My kids favourite book isn't even really a book.  It is the Usborne Advent Nativity Book pop out board book.  Each day of December the kids get to pop out one of the participants of the Christmas story.  They get very excited about this and do not miss a day.  Nicole will often read the story to Thomas while they put up the scene.  So far it has been the best Christmas book purchase.


These are our favourite books.  I can't wait to add to our collection.  This year Nicole is receiving "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson.  I can't wait to read it with her on Christmas Day.

Come share your favourite Christmas reads or other randomness with us this week.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Caffeinated Christmas - Visions of Sugar Plums and other Christmas Goodies

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What is it about Christmas that makes us think of cookies and chocolates?  Not that I am complaining.  It just seems a lot of work for once a year.  I keep reading on Facebook about how many of us are spending full days dedicated to Christmas Baking.  Some have even posted as to how they are going to keep the goodies safe from being eaten until Christmas.  I was also starting to stress about this this year, until I made some shortbread cookies.  I realized how easy they were.  I for some reason forget this fact.  I made 4 dozen and let the family eat 2 dozen in 1 day.  I did freeze the rest, but only because I double batched my gingerbread recipe and knew that I was going to have them eating these this week.  Why do we save our best for this time of year?  Why don't we bake like this more often?  Just things I am pondering.....

In the past I have hosted a Christmas Cookie Exchange so that I don't have to spend quite as much time in the kitchen.  I have very strict rules:  must be baked, must not be a chocolate chip cookie, and must bring 8 dozen.  I try not to invite too many people so that we can each get as close to 1 dozen of each as possible.  One year there was just 4 of us and that was a good cookie year.  I have had people actually get upset over my rules and then send store bought cookies.  I just rolled my eyes (privately, that is) and accepted them graciously.  I don`t understand why people wouldn`t want to bake 8 dozen cookies once and then have most of their baking done in one day.  The last exchange I had (2 years ago) was well attended and we had a lot of variation in cookies:  lime sugar cookies, chocolate coffee shortbread cookies, pfeffernusse (say that one 5 times fast).... We each went home with 8 dozen cookies of some variation and they didn't last long.  I had to fight the middleman for the good ones.  

Some of my take from the Last Cookie Exchange.  The chocolate dipped ones were yummy.


I usually make Eggnog Cherry Loaf for my participation in cookie exchanges.  I know it's not a cookie, but its festive and yummy.  It's always nice to have one available for when guests come during the season.  My Evil Twin now makes this recipe every year and gives them to her day home parents as gifts.  I am thinking I may be giving these to the teachers as gifts this year,  as well as a coffee card.  Who doesn't love Christmas Baking and coffee?

Eggnog Cherry Loaf
My gift to you this year is the Eggnog Cherry Loaf recipe.  My grandmother got the recipe from a Christmas card one year and made it on a lark.  She then had to send the recipe to me so I could try it and I did.  It is quite simple and as I said before, yummy.   I hope you try this recipe and share it with your family and friends.

Eggnog Cherry Loaf

2 1/2cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cup eggnog
6 Tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2cup chopped candied red cherries
1/2cup chopped pecans (optional) 
 
Preheat oven to 350 F for 45-50 minutes

Mix dry ingredients together.
Mix wet ingredients together, with cherries and pecans.
Mix dry and wet ingredients together until just moist.
Place in prepared 9 x 5 prepared loaf pan. 
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

Come join in the Caffeinated Christmas with your favourite recipie or randomness you would like to share.

PS:  Next week we will be discussing The Night Before Christmas and Other Stories....



Friday, December 9, 2011

Caffeinated Christmas - Seasons Greetings

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Did you know that the oldest Christmas Card was first published in 1843.  It was actually very controversial too as it showed children drinking wine.  Not the first card I would run out and buy.  In fact, I often wonder why we send out Christmas Cards.  Did it start out as the lazy easy way of letting your family far away from you know that you might be were thinking of them without actually writing a full letter. 

I'm fascinated by Christmas cards because I stress about them every year.  I either have to many or not enough.  Which ones do I buy?  Should they be festive, religious or fun?  Should I make cards or should I buy cards?  Should I just produce a photo card?  The final and most important question:  Who gets the cards?  Do I have to give a card to everybody at church?  Which family members get a card?  Do I send one out just to the siblings or should I send cards to our grown nieces and nephews?  Do I have to include a Christmas letter in each of the cards or just to those close and intimate friends and family?  Do you see my dilemia?

My husband comes from a large family and extended family.  My family is quite large as well.  We have many friends and acquaintances.  I always start with a list of names and then count how many people are getting cards each year.  This year it is over 60 cards.  That's a lot of postage.  I do cheap out with postage as I try to hand deliver as many as possible and I try to batch up my family's in one evelope to my Grandmother, where they all eventually go on Christmas day.  But the writing..........I have learned over the years instead of writing a personal message to each individual to just write a short and simple verse or saying.  Last year was easy because we did a photocard with a verse I chose on it.  I just shoved them in the mail and away they went.  

Last Year's Card
 
This year I decided not to do that and to just buy cards.  I then struggled with religious or not religious?  This is the argument I have with myself every year.  As you know, if you have visited before, my family is not religious in anyway and I'm always afraid I'll go too far with the religious conatation.  Every year, I decide to just be true to myself and share what I am called to share: the TRUE reason for CHRISTmas.  Not the commercial Santa Claus version I grew up with.  Every year I pick out a verse and add it to the card if there isn't one already or if I have made the cards.  (Yes, one year I did make the cards but I massed produced one design for my own sanity.).  





I searched some eCard sites like Dayspring and Crosscards for a bible verse and came up with :  Behold....I bring you tidings of Joy Luke 2:10.  I felt this was appropriate as the inside of the card was already "May your holiday sparkle with joy."   I wanted my verse to reflect where we should be looking for our joy, something I sometimes I have to remember myself. 
I'm know every year my list changes.  People come and go from our lives.  I may stress about the Christmas Cards.  I may even wonder why I continue this tradition.  I think though that with so many people connected via the social media networks there is still something personal about receiving a card in the mail and a small handwritten note as a reminder that we are thinking of the person and praying over them.

I can't wait to see your Christmas greetings.  I know originally I had said that this post would be about favourite, funniest, strangest, etc... Christmas greetings received over the years, but I just felt moved to write about the whole phenomena.  I can't wait to see what your greeting post will look like.  Come and link up this week with your greeting randomness.


PS:  Next week we will be discussing Visions of Sugar Plums and other Christmas Baking......
Friday, December 2, 2011

Caffeinated Christmas - All I want for Christmas is...

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All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, my two front teeth, oh my two front teeth.....


No I don't want my two front teeth for Christmas, Santa Claus.  I have those.  But there is a lot of other things cool I would like.  I pin on Pinterest and love marking down my wish list when I am on it. (Please feel free to add me as your friend if you pin.  I love repinning other peoples finds.)  I thought I would share some of things that are on my wish list  this year.

1.
PAMELA   ( colour - black and grey)
I love this t-shirt.  It's more than a t-shirt, it's a statement.  I found the designer on Etsy.  I like all of her pieces, but this is my favourite.

2.
I would really like an e-reader.  I am getting tired of carrying around 5 novels from the library weekly and when we travel.  It would be nice to have something I can just carry around.  Plus, it is quicker to get ebooks from the library system than waiting for books through the regular hold system.  I really want to read the new book in the Inheritance Cycle series but am afraid to see the number of holds on it.  By the way, I am unsure whether I should ask for the Kobo or a Kindle.  If you have any thoughts let me or Santa know.

3.
I used to have a steam mop and I miss it.  Nothing gets a floor as clean as a steam mop.  I have tried microfibre clothes systems and they just don't do as good a job.  The steam really gets rid of any dirt and any film on the floor.  I am very fussy about my floors and get annoyed at myself when they are not as clean as I would like.  Plus, steam mops don't take as long to clean the floors.

4.
We have the Xbox 360, now we need to get this handy little attachment.  It is a visual remote and analyzes your body so that your body becomes the controller.  It would be fun to play games with the kids or just dance games with myself.  I'm thinking Black Eye Peas Experience game.  We could all get silly and show our best moves.  I would even vlog it for you guys.  LOL.  I don't know if I actually would go that far.

5.

I think every mom should get this every year - a day at the spa.  I would like the works: manicure, pedicure, massage, facial, etc...  I want to be pampered and waited on.  I want total relaxation without any interuptions.  I can already picture myself there.  However, I don't want to go a healthy spa, I want my snacks to involve wine and chocolate.  This isn't about me getting physically healthy, this is about my mental health.

6.
My goal next year is to read the whole Bible chronologically.  I ran into this version via Christianbook.com.  I was excited, because it has maps and historical content and it is in NKJV.  I have been waiting for the right bible to get in that translation and I think this is the one.

I hope you enjoyed reading my wish list.  I can't wait to read yours.  Next week we will be discussing Christmas Greetings.  Sharing our favourite, funniest, strangest, etc... Christmas greetings received over the years.

Come and link up today and share your wish list or just share your randomness.  Merry Christmas Everyone. 


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Alberta, Canada
I'm a 39 year old (oh yeah I'm telling you my age) Stay at Home mom. A former Bad Girl now reformed sinner, I'm married to my Y2K guy and raising 3 great children from God. Proudly Canadian, however, missing the West Coast, I currently live in the prairies watching the farmers fields produce as I learn how God produces the fruits in me.

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