Thursday, November 26, 2009

Praise God from whom All blessings flow...

You know the holidays are here when it is time to make buckeyes!
I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen over the past few days...
baking muffins, making buckeyes, apple and pork sausage stuffing, pecan green beans, baked artichoke dip...all of the goodies that go around the thanksgiving table...
The kids helped me with the buckeyes. We even dipped raspberries and banana slices in our leftover dark chocolate...delicious!
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. I was long overdue for a visit with my family. This year we went out to my sister's house in Saline for an early (noon)
Thanksgiving dinner.
Berlyn was well-loved. Natalie snagged her first, but all of her cousins and aunts and uncles, and her grammy jo wanted to get a piece of her sweetness.
Brayden and Wyatt---two peas in a pod.
(aren't they handsome little dudes?)
My brother Greg and his fiance Sonn
My nephew and niece (Mitchell and Madison)
let's gather around
(we were blessed to have my Gram and Matt's Grandma join us too)
(and a surprise visit from my cousins Meg and Beth who were able to meet Berlyn for the first time)
One of the best parts of Thanksgiving (besides the food) is being with my family.
Here's my brothers and sisters and I:
(Me, Jeff, Sarah, Greg and Emily)
It's times like this that I am so thankful I come from a large family...
It's one of the reason I wanted a large family of my own (if i was younger, i would have a 4th in a hearbeat!)...for my kids to grow up with siblings, so that they could experience life and the holidays the same.
because we always have a lot of loud and a lot of fun when we are together... Always. (my sister sarah, in gray, is almost 6 months pregnant...here we are all doing the "prego" pose...
but she looks much cuter than any of us)
I look forward to this day for months.
Siblings with spouses
Mama Jo with her kids
and all the carter kids with their families.
Too much fun...that doesn't last long enough...
before we are off to our Thanksgiving Dinner Round 2
(5pm with the Schrieber side)
back to Macomb...for more turkey and more fun with more family.
Aidan, Jackson and Brayden playing the Wii
Abigail and Brooke
Berlyn going with the flow...
taking in all the scents and sounds of the season for the first time.
She was a trooper...such a busy, packed day and she did so well.
and for the second year in a row, the kids enjoyed decorating gingerbread houses
(I feel a tradition coming on here)
This year Brookie did not want any help or advice.
She wanted to frost and decorate her house all by herself.
I am not sure if more candy ended up on their houses or in their tummies.
Great job boys!
And probably the highlight of our day was born out of the heart of my husband...
Two days before Thanksgiving he approached me with the idea of making lunches and taking them downtown Detroit on Thanksgiving day to pass out to the homeless or those in need.

In theory, I thought this was a great idea and I love his passion and his servant's heart. But, I must admit there was part of me that was wondering if Thanksgiving day was really a good day to do this. I already knew I had a lot of cooking/prep-work ahead of me for our long day of traveling back and forth for two Thanksgiving dinners. I loved the idea but was thinking that it just might be too much to fit into one day. While I wanted to do the Detroit lunch thing, I really had dismissed it from being in our day's agenda.
And Thanksgiving morning I woke up early so that I could get started in the kitchen before we had to leave for Saline by 10:30am. Before I started, I took a few minutes to have some quiet time and in my devotional reading for the day...I began to get convicted to the core. God's timing is no coincidence and I am so thankful that this reading was given to me at just this time...on just this day.

In this day's reading, Spurgeon references Ecclesiastes 9:10
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."

He describes whatever "thy hand findeth to do" as things that are possible...and then describes the many things our heart findeth to do, while useful, as things which we never actually do.
He then says that "ONE GOOD DEED IS MORE WORTH THAN A THOUSAND BRILLIANT THEORIES." That we shouldn't wait for great opportunities, for perfect timing, or for deeper spiritual maturity...but to serve God now..."to endeavor now to bring forth fruit." To do it promptly and not fritter away our life thinking about what we intend to do tomorrow....that no one ever served God by doing things tomorrow and if we honor Christ and are blessed, it is by the things we do today...And by doing it with all our might- throwing our soul into it for Jesus.

This devotional reading was short and my heart was convicted instantaneously. When Darcy woke up, I gave him a thumbs-up and said "let's do it! I don't care how it's done, but we must do it today!" I told him about my reading and we got to work. He had already printed up a note with scripture and a Happy Thanksgiving blessing on it that was to be attached to each bag. He ran up to Kroger and bought some groceries and it became a family affair.
Grandma made all of the sandwiches and the kids helped put everything into all of the bags.
On our way out to Saline, we detoured off the highway and started randomly driving through the streets of Detroit. We prayed that God would lead us to those in need. I could write an entire post on just this experience alone. I immediately felt the Lord working in and through this entire situation. I felt he led us to each and every individual we encountered. It was beautiful. My heart broke for Detroit...a city and a people marred and broken. What we were doing didn't touch even a fraction of those who are in need...but I know a little bit of light is stronger than the darkness and we were offering a little light.
After our dinner in Saline, we headed back to Macomb and stopped once again downtown Detoit to distribute the last of our lunches.
It was a simple act. I know we are not supposed to boast about our good deeds, but this was a reflection of my husband's heart. It also pointed out some of my own weaknesses (having great ideas and intentions but not acting on them...seeing a need but not always acting upon it in a prompt manner...I also learned the importance of supporting and encouraging my husband more with his ideas and plans). And if sharing this story spurs others on to share God's love, do good deeds, and put their own intentions into action, then it was worth sharing.
Groceries: $23.00
Mouths fed: 22
Being the hands and feet of Jesus: priceless
Thanksgiving night, while tucked into our bed, Darc and I agreed that this was one of our best Thanksgivings yet.
Much to be thankful for.
I really can't think of anything to complain about.
Life is good.
The things that matter- I have.
I have more than enough.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crayola Creations

Today my in-laws were telling me about a "crayon-making" toy that is being sold at Costco now. It made me think that this would be so easy and fun to do at home with our own broken and abandoned crayons. So, while Grandpa and Grandma were at a banquet tonight and Daddy was out with the guys, Brayden and I got busy and began peeling away our old crayons to make new crayola creations.
Let me just say this is a tedious process. If you are stashing away old broken crayons, I recommend tearing the paper off right away instead of waiting to do it all at once. The first bunch of crayons was fine, but after a while we were ready to move on to the fun stuff.
My fingers were a bit raw once we were through...and you can see in Bray's face that he is deep in concentration, attempting to remove the stubborn paper from these crayons. All part of the process to get to our intended goal of "one-of-a-kind-wax-y wonders."
At last....the real fun begins!
The kids had fun selecting and creating their own color combinations.
Beautiful Brayden...nice work!

READY.....
SET.....

BAKE!

After a little melting and freezing we get...

our very own handmade crayons.

of course we must try them out immediately

our creative concoctions work!

a fun and free project!

and anything that'll bring a smile to their faces puts a little more love in my heart.
Loving these moments of simply being a Mom.

Monday, November 23, 2009

a little of this and that...

Most of these photos were taken last week...a few moments worth sharing.

Berlyn loves sucking on her fists...that, sleeping, eating and smiling seem to be her favorite things to do these days.
and she is enjoying her activity mat too
(thank you abigail for outgrowing it and lending it to me!)
in this photo above berlyn is actually swatting at one of the hanging toys that makes noise...she knew she was doing it, she was aware and listening each time she touched it.
oh the concentration!
that's big stuff for a 12 week old!
more moments lovin on daddy
she reminds me of her cousin natalie in these photos...natalie's hair was just like this when she was a baby
and here's my proud big guy displaying his masterpiece.
he has recently gotten into putting together lego creations...looking at and reading the directions step by step all by himself (with a little help from mommy- we've been enjoying doing this together lately). he's growing up so fast.
Brookie is still such a great helper and big sister. She loves to hold and feed Berlyn.
I think she looks really pretty in this photo (gives me a glimpse of what she will look like as she gets older).
and older she is getting. above we have a "brookie hair creation." she loves to do my hair (and her own). on this day last week, she begged me to wear and leave my hair like this...so i did...all day long, going out in public too. she was proud. i looked a bit silly...but that's a mother's love, right?
and my little girls today....
berlyn turns 3 months old this wednesday. she has been sleeping through the night every night for over two weeks now.

12 weeks of precious right here.