Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not the Same

Ok. I have it. A bad case. Practically incurable. It’s Christmas Fever. Very common this time of year. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had it this bad before. I don’t remember the little details of the Christmas season bringing me this much joy before. The decorations are prettier, the town square twinkles brighter, and the songs sound sweeter! I even put up my very first adult Christmas tree! It’s a four foot tall white tree with white lights and black and red balls on it. A smile leaps upon my face every time I look at it. I might have even told it goodnight last night when I unplugged it.

So why do I have such a bad case this year? Beats me. I’m not going anywhere different for Christmas. Just going to mom’s house like usual. I’m not expecting any kind of amazing gifts this year. I don’t have obscene amounts of money in which to lavish my children with extraordinary gifts. We keep it simple. I haven’t lost anyone, we’re not gaining anyone. There is nothing new this Christmas.

Except maybe there is. Maybe I’m not the same person I was last Christmas. Maybe I’m the something new. Maybe knowing that I can get my son everything he asked for this year is different. Maybe knowing that I can surprise my other son with my newfound knowledge of what is cool this year is new. (I am SO not cool. I learned where to find good advice.) Maybe my own joy in doing something I love has changed Christmas for me this year. Maybe my heart has been changed this year. I’ve got through a lot in the past year. Seems like I do every year. But I really do feel like the Grinch whose heart has grown three sizes! I always thought that I had a big heart that was capable of loving anything, but Christmas just wasn’t at the top of my list.

And now it is! And it’s not the presents, or the songs, or the movies, or decorations, or where I’ll be. It’s as simple as the Lord reaching down and placing his hand on my heart with the message that Christmas is important. It is important for me to walk around with joy in my heart. It is important to have a smile on my face. It is very important that everything I do this season reflect my love of God and his Son. I know all of this. I always have. But sometimes it’s hard to show it. Sometimes me is more important than Him.

But not this Christmas. This Christmas my spirit will reflect His glory. I will be a joyful happy follower of Christ. I will show others just exactly what makes me so happy. I will be faithful to my God. And my challenge is to not do this for Christmas only, but for the rest of my days!

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Memory

{Written by Mollianne Eckart. MJ is the daughter of Linda, Charlotte's younger daughter & Mollianne's sister. Thank you, MJ, for sharing this memory with us!!}

Though I have many Christmas memories, there is one I remember very well. Before we moved to Texas, my mom, dad, sisters, and I would take the beautiful drive up the mountain to my Meme and Pappy's house. I knew we were very close to their house when we drove through the tunnel of aspens that surrounded the only road to reach the house. I enjoyed seeing my dad's side of the family, and even though we aren't blood related, you would never have been able to tell. The McCormack family has considered us as McCormacks for as long as I can remember. We aren't guests at their house, we are family.

We would step out of our car and be greeted at the door, by whoever saw us drive up first or hear our knock on the door. This most often was Meme and Pappy. We would go through the usual greetings of hugs and smiles. It was always exciting to see my Aunt Kellie, Uncle Sean & Aunt Leslie, Uncle Mike & Trish, Uncle Kevin & Aunt Amy, and even sometimes Christopher.

But there was one Christmas that I remember very clearly. It's not a joyful memory, just one I look back on and laugh because it seemed like such a "me" thing to do.

Leading up to Christmas Eve, when we go to the McCormack's, my mom had me and my sisters practicing the song "The Night Before Christmas" on her Amy Grant CD. Every time we got in the car, we practiced. When we were at home, we practiced. Just me, BobbieJo, and Sami, singing along to the music. We were going to sing it in front of everyone on Christmas Eve.

Well, it was Christmas Eve, and everything was going as usual. We had eaten one of Meme's delicious meals, and we had just finished opening presents (which we always did on Christmas Eve, then we had stockings on Christmas). And then, it was showtime, what me and my sisters had been practicing for. We were standing in front of everyone at the house, about to begin the song. Well me, being the shy little girl I was, wasn't too fond of having to stand in front of everyone and sing. Suddenly, I started to cry and cry. I told my mom I didn't want to do it anymore. In a sympathetic voice she asked, "We have been practicing forever, why are you scared?" I shrugged, and then she told me to go sit with my dad.

Again, I have no idea why I remember this so well, haha, but it makes me laugh every once in a while.

I know my story wasn't anything near Aunt Mollianne's, or my Munner's, but I thought this blog deal was cool and wanted to participate.

I love you all, and love reading all the stories(:

-Mollianne Jordan Eckart

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wanna Know a Secret?

{Meet Paulee ... Beth's younger daughter. She's absolutely enchanting and has a wonderful secret to share with everyone today!! Enjoy!!}

Want to know a secret? You can't tell.

I like cookies.

I like Granny Sue's cookies.

I want to tell you how to make cookies. Momma said no. They are a secret. I said "Don't tell me no!" And I'm going to tell you anyway. But don't tell Mommy. She'll spank me. Then I'll be mad. And have to yell at her, "Don't pank ME!" Then I'll have to go sit on my bed. And when I sit on my bed I scream. And cry. But Mommy won't come get me 'til I don't scream anymore. Then I can get down. But I'll still be mad.

So don't tell.

I found Jeffie Jean making cookies with Granny Sue and Gwynn.
She looks just like me. And she was messy!

{the next three pictures are from Christmas 2002}

I got to roll out the cookie dough. I don't get messy.

Terry helped too.

I like to lick the spoon.

So does Anderson. Doesn't Daddy have a BIG spoon?
(He likes the dough the most!)

Remember this is OUR secret!

Granny Sue's Christmas Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup margarine
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour

1 tsp margarine (softened)
Approx. 1/3 bag powdered sugar
Add milk to desired consistency (I like it like a this syrup)

Cream margarine and add the vanilla. Gradually add the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add in flour until it is well blended. Chill the dough for several hours, or even overnight. Roll chilled dough 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick on a floured surface. Cut into desired shapes. Bake at 375* for 10 minutes. Do not let edges brown. Remove immediately to racks to cool. Frost when completely cool.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Memory

{Casiday is going to introduce this post ... written by her "twin cousin" Jeffie ... they were born exactly one week apart in February 2000. }

Every year that I can remember, we pack up at night, and leave at ten o'clock and we drive to Granny Sue and Papa's house. We get there at seven o'clock sometimes just in time for breakfast.

When I first learned how to stand, I helped Granny Sue make sugar cookies, and every Christmas since then. My favorite part is getting messy with the flour! My favorite is the star shaped ones. Last year at Christmas, we took Gwynn back home to Missouri. I got lotion, body wash, a notebook pack and some cards from Granny Sue and Papa. Oh, and we saw Big Mama and Big Daddy too! The best part was making more sugar cookies with Granny Sue and Big Mama too.

And I can't wait to get there this year and make them again with my Granny Sue and this time with my little sister, Paulee too! Paulee's going to have fun getting flour all over the place!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sweet Daddy!

Today, December 16, marks the 79th anniversary of the birth of My Sweet Daddy. I have already told you that I am the self-proclaimed Queen of Daddy’s Girls, so this day is very special to me. I love my Sweet Daddy for many reasons and in many ways. We share a very special relationship, and I can only hope and pray that you share a similar relationship with your Daddy.

My earliest memories are of My Sweet Daddy. He rocked me to sleep when I was little…and even when I thought I was pretty big. Until I started school, he would rock me after lunch in a big green rocking chair as I fell asleep for my nap. He sang to me Liza Jane and I Love Little Willie are two I remember, as well as hymns. He sang I Know Whom I Have Believed when I was afraid of storms and hold me close to his chest, where I heard his heart beating and felt safe and warm.

Daddy was a history major and he taught me American History by telling me stories. All in the first person, I might add. When he taught me about George Washington, he would say “George and I.” He might say, “When Lewis and Clark and I went west to the Pacific….” I believed that My Sweet Daddy held the paper for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, walked with Johnny Appleseed planting trees, helped Davy Crockett load and re-load at the Alamo and cooked the first Thanksgiving Feast at Plymouth. I really did. Imagine my dismay when my kindergarten teacher told me that he didn’t REALLY do those things. My grief was akin to that of a child who learns that Santa doesn’t really have a sleigh that flies.

As I grew, My Daddy had not only my heart and my love, but also my respect and admiration. He is a man of God, a man of integrity and a man of principles. His word is his honor. He was often…okay he was always firm with us. But I have never once doubted that he loved me. Never have, never will.

He wrote letters to me when I left home. Every Monday for years and years. Long before the age of email and instant access, I looked forward to the mailman at the end of the week. Very few weeks went by that I didn’t have a letter from my Daddy, full of news about the family and the church. What I treasured about those letters was not necessarily the news, but the assurance that life was going on and no matter where I was…home was still there.

My Daddy has a rare intellect and is one of the smartest people I have ever known. Not only book smart, although he is that in spades, but he also possesses a common sense that is rare in our culture today. He continued to quietly encourage me as I plodded and plodded toward my college degree. What an honor it was for me at the age of 45…just a few days short of my 46th birthday, to have My Daddy and Mother (as well as my husband, both my children, my daughter-in-law and my grandsons) in the seats as they called my name and I walked across the stage to receive my Bachelors Degree. Showing my diploma to him and having him look at me and tell me how proud he was of me is one of the highlights of my adult life. My graduation honors were not quite as high as his…no adjectives before the Cum Laude, however the greatest graduation honor for me was his very evident pride.

I get up every morning with the assurance that My Sweet Daddy will pray for me, probably before the morning is through. He joyfully shares with me the good things that happen, and shares my sorrows when things don’t go so well. Recently when I had surgery, he sat by my after day. We watched old westerns together. It was such a comfort to wake up and have him there close by.

So, on this day in the midst of Christmas preparations, I want to celebrate another birtht That of My Sweet Daddy. I am so thankful that God gave us to each other. Daddy, you have nurtured me, taught me, loved me, teased me, disciplined me, comforted me and loved me. I love you, My Sweet Daddy. Happy Birthday to You!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Finding a Treasure

{Today's post is by sweet Beth, my sister-in-law. This week you'll meet both of her daughters ... the three of them survive in a home with SIX males. Yep, Heath & Beth have seven children and each one is absolutely precious!! Anyway, Beth is an amazing sister/friend and I adore her. In addition she can sew absolutely anything. She blogs at Sew Anyhow and everyone should read her blog! Thanks, Beth, for being the sister I longed for all my life! I love you!! ~ Teri Lynne}

When Heath and I got married, we were given a journaling book about your family's Christmas. One of the entries was to be about Christmas traditions. I honestly just stared at the page. Heath and I didn't have any traditions yet, and my family didn't either. I asked Heath, and he looked about as blank as me. Nope. We apparently were non-traditionalist. That is SO far from what I thought. I thought everything I did was buried in tradition, history, and the age old "this is how we've ALWAYS done it".

But then over the next month (We were married the second of November. On my grandparents 50th anniversary. Talk about traditions and family ties!), we began to talk about Christmas and we discovered my Christmases were really steeped in tradition. Every year since 1977 (the year I was born) we traveled up to the afore mentioned Grandparents' farm to have an entire Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve. My Grandma would have cooked everything under the sun, Grandpa would teach me some new way to play with my food (ever seen a toddler eating black olives? They make the BEST finger caps, and are great to suck right off!), my Uncle Terry was at my brother's and my beck and call, playing anything we wanted, and my Great-Grandmother would regale us with stories. It was always a surprise as to what tree my Grandma would put up each year. Sometimes it was white, once it was silver, and then there were years it was a real tree. One year, Thomas and I got to stomp through the pastures for hours to help cut one down! The ceramic nativity Grandma made would be in it's place on the half wall bar, and Grandpa would save me a seat right next to him in his recliner (it was always a joke to see if we fit!) We would open presents that evening, take baths, and wear Grandpa's t-shirts home.

Once home we snuggled into bed, and were sworn to NOT get Mom and Dad up before a certain time. No alarm clocks were aloud, and we spent a good portion of the next two hours giggling, being hushed, and finally threatened before we settled down. The next morning Thomas and I would sneak into one or the others room, check the time, "quietly" wait for the clock to strike the hour, and then sing to wake up my parents at the top of our lungs. Of course they had been up for a while, but we didn't know. Present time again, and then came the biggest tradition of them all. Daddy went into the kitchen to make our Christmas breakfast. I'm not sure how or why this got started, but it is a big deal! Daddy made us pancakes. Completely from scratch. The only pancake I will eat. And oh are they good.

The afternoon was always spent at my Dad's childhood home, with his parents, and siblings. And all the cousins. And of course there was the huge Christmas dinner. With a turkey AND a ham. 'Cause I don't like turkey. And we had to wait FOREVER before it was all cleaned up and we could open presents. And we would stay until all of us little ones fell asleep, full of food, joy, and family.

This was how we still did Christmas when Heath and I married. And he and his family was gracious enough to let us continue in these traditions. But then the year came when Heath wanted to be HOME for Christmas. Not just during Christmas week, but Christmas day. I really couldn't complain. We had been married for three years, and he had let me cling to my family. So this year we packed up our one year old, and drove for 10 hours to spend the week with Terry and Sue. Heath was so content, and I was SO pregnant! JJ would be born in just two months, and I was in full waddle. And minus the one phone call I made on Christmas day to shout "Merry Christmas" to all the family on Christmas day, it was a completely sad free trip. We laughed over a grandson and his Papa. I found that Sue's couch was a wonderful place to take naps. Grandparents got to watch their unborn granddaughter jump and kick. And I got to share my family tradition with the Busters. Pancakes on Christmas morning. And we started a new tradition as well. But even though that was the year it started, it's not my story to tell. You'll have to wait a day or two for that one.

So don't misunderstand me. While this was a hard first for me, it is one I cherish as well. I love every minute I get to spend with Heath's family. Sometimes, there can be little bit of sadness with it, just because of things missed. I think that is how it goes with most people as well. Twinges of sadness over Christmases past, family that has gone home, ones that couldn't make it that year. But that's how it was the very first Christmas as well. There was a sadness at a Son that was not home, and a sadness over the time to come. But oh the joy over the birth of the King. The shout of angels as they proclaimed the fulfillment of prophesy. The Messiah has come. And no matter where your Christmas is spent, that is still the Joy that is heard, felt, and shared.
So this Christmas, I share with you my Christmas treasure. Pancakes may not seem a treasure to most, but those made with my Daddy's hands, and out of his love for us, are priceless to me.

Daddy's Christmas Morning Pancakes

1 egg (seperate whites from yolks)
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Separate egg whites from the yolks. Beat the whites until fluffy and soft peaks form.

Add approximately 3/4 of the buttermilk to the dry ingredients and then add teh oil and egg yolks.

Stir the mixture, adding enough buttermilk to obtain a semi-runny texture (this usually requires adding more buttermilk than listed for me). Should the mixture become too runny, add enough flour to correct the texture.

Fold in whipped egg whites.

Wipe a slight amount of oil on the griddle (or pan) and cook over medium heat until upper side of the cooking pancakes begin to break the bubbles that have formed. Flip and finish cooking the pancakes through.

Makes approximately ten 4" pancakes. (I triple this for my family. But we are huge. And the kids eat like they may never eat again. But growing up with just the four of us, Daddy would usually double the recipe. You just can't help grabbing one everytime you walk past the plate!)


Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Mom

{Written in honor of my mom, Marian Sue Reagan Buster. Married for 38 years to the youngest son of Charlotte, Molli's brother, Terry. ~ Teri Lynne}

Three generations ... Momma, Casiday & Me

Where do I even begin? We don't ever get to spend Christmas together ... we live so far away from home that it's just not feasible. But my mom always sends presents or waits until we can be together to celebrate. She's never made me feel guilty about not being there ... she's just always said, "Christmas isn't a day ... it's when we are together!"

My mom is an amazing person! She's more beautiful and talented than she will ever understand. She's funny and smart ... and I love her!!

In February of this year, she and my dad were able to come and spend a week with us. We had an amazing time. My mom and I shopped and laughed. And we talked ... really talked.

You know those totally great talks that happen between parents and their grown-up children.

It was an incredible week. I cried when they left ... I wished they could just stay forever.

My mom is a fabulous Granny Sue! Casiday adores her ... and every year in August when the Costume Express catalogs start arriving at our house, Casiday picks out her Halloween costume. And Granny Sue makes it for her. This year she was a gypsy ...

Clearly, Granny Sue goes all out for her grandchildren.

But there's something else you should know about my mom ... she's real. She's broken and fragile yet strong and capable. She's honest ... and she loves deeply. She has this "realness" ... that is open to new challenges and new ideas. She admits she's not all she could be ... but she's also not content to stop growing.

I was once asked what the most important lesson I learned from my mom was ... I've thought about this a lot and my answer might be a little surprising ... but I learned that failing at something doesn't make you a failure. My mom taught me, through her words and her life, that not accomplishing a goal isn't the worst thing that can happen ... it's never setting the goal that is the failure.

I'm thankful for my mom ... I'm thankful for her friendship, for her love, for her support. And I am thankful that she has always let me be me ... even when she didn't understand!

I love you, Momma!! So much!!

And I'm sharing with all of you a Christmas staple at my mom's house ... her mom used this recipe, Momma and I both make it every year. Casiday will become the fourth generation to make fudge from this recipe. I hope you enjoy it!!

Mom's Fudge Recipe
(from her mom, my Mema)

3 c. sugar
2/3 c. cocoa
1/8 t. salt
1-1/2 c. milk
1 stick butter or margarine
1 t. vanilla

In heavy saucepan combine sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat. Stir constantly to FULL boil. Boil without stirring to soft ball stage. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Beat until thick and no longer shiny.

This is without question the best fudge recipe ever!! I know not one person who has tasted it who has disagreed with that assessment! Enjoy!!

My Cherished Christmas Memories

{This sweet post is from Gwynn ... who will soon be 13! She recently made her stage debut as the Queen of Hearts in her school's performance of "Alice in Wonderland." Gwynn is my oldest niece ... she is the daughter of my older younger brother ... and she is one of the most amazing people I know. Gwynn loves family ... deeply. She is tender and kind, smart and hilarious! Thank you, my beautiful niece and sort of namesake - GwynndoLYNNE - I love you!! ~ Aunt Teri Lynne}

Here is our very serious Queen of Hearts ... isn't she beautiful?

My most cherished memories from Christmas are when Aunt Beth, Uncle Heath, and all of their kids come down.

I remember one year all of us kids were laying upstairs in the Snow White room, on our blow-up matresses on Christmas Eve. Everyone was really hyper... Except for me! I was WORN OUT!

So, to get everyone to go to sleep, I said:
"Hey guys!! The quicker that you go to sleep, the quicker that tomorrow morning will come!!"

and so, of course, Malc replied:
"Not really!! Morning will come at the same time that it always does!"

So I said:
"Yes, but it will seem like it will come quicker!!"

It must have worked, because about 10 minutes later, everyone was fast asleep!!

That is my most cherished memory from Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Crack and other addictions

Everyone has their own special family traditions ... things that make the holidays, well, YOUR OWN. And since Scott and I are no exception. One of my favorite parts of the holidays is the candy making! I'll be sharing my mom's fudge recipe on Friday as well as a few more of the yummy things I like to make and give to special friends during the holiday season. So, be sure to check back on Friday! Oh & be sure to stop by tomorrow ... my brother Tim's sweet daughter Gwynn (who will be 13 in January, which I am vigorously protesting!!) will be sharing a very sweet Christmas memory. Thanks, as always, for giving our family a portion of your day. We feel honored that you stopped by!! ~ Teri Lynne

Today I'm sharing a recipe that Casiday & I make. It has earned the name "Christmas Crack" because of its addictive nature. I say that as a warning and a promise that this stuff is so good you MUST make it!! But just make a lot!! A whole lot!!

Christmas Crack

1 package white almond bark
1 jar roasted peanuts
1/2 bag of pretzel sticks, crushed.

Melt the almond bark and add the peanuts & pretzels. Stir until well mixed. Spread or drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Wait until set ... and then prepare to eat it until you feel absolutely sick ... and then go ahead and eat some more.

Now for the said other addictions ...

We have a thing about Christmas trees.

It's a fairly serious thing.

We have a lot of them.

A whole lot of them.

Like double digit a lot.

Here are some pics ...

Here are a few ... kitchen, master bedroom, guest room (which remains Christmas all year!), and our main tree grouping ... which is three trees, a 7 foot, a 4 foot and a 3 foot.

My favorite is the one in our bedroom ... beautiful and romantic ... a perfect way to end the hectic days we seem to have throughout December.

The trees with collection of ornaments ... "Hope" and Santas.

The tree in the den ... Casiday doesn't like this one because it's half-hidden by the TV. :-)

More collection trees ... Rudolph (for Scott), Pooh (for me), and Auburn (for us all).

The police tree in memory of Scott's dad who was the Police Chief of Muscle Shoals and passed away in March 2001. The picture is of David and Casiday right after she was born.

And, Casiday Hope's tree in her room ... pretty and fun ... just like our girl!!

So there you have it ... our Christmas obsession ... candy & trees.

What about your family? What are some of your Christmas collections, "must haves", and traditions? We'd love to hear!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Christmas Tradition

{Written by sweet Casiday Hope ...
this post is also on her own blog "The Princess of Quite a Lot." Enjoy!!}

My favorite Christmas tradition is dancing in "The Nutcracker." What I like about doing "The Nutcracker" is that even if you mess up, no one will ever know!

This year I was a Flower and a Soldier. It was so much fun.

What else is fun is being backstage. We can bring snacks, play our Nintendos, listen to our iPods, and just sit there by yourself (I did that for a minute or two this year).

What makes our Nutcracker special is that we tell the true gift of Christmas ~ Baby Jesus. Just like the nutcracker was a special gift for Clara, Jesus is a special gift for us.

{A note from Mommy ... Casiday is privileged to dance at a Christian performing arts studio and so we have a drama that goes along with the ballet each year. This year, Scott was asked to share the Gospel at the end of both performances ... what a blessing to use the gift of dance in such a God-honoring way! This picture is of the prayer before the show ... that's Casiday and her fellow soldiers joined together in prayer. I am so thankful that she is learning to use her abilities and passions in ways that bring glory to God and share the blessed hope we have in Him!!}

Christmas Surprise

{Strangely, this is the first post I've written for this blog. Not sure how that has happened. But this week is devoted to my part of the family and our stories ... well some of us ... we take two weeks!! So, this week and next you'll read stories & recipes from the wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters of Terry, Charlotte's younger son. We do hope you are enjoying this little glimpse into our family. ~ Teri Lynne}

Don't ask me the year ... can't tell you.

I was probably in late elementary or middle school.

But my parents planned the best Christmas surprise ever.

Late one December afternoon we piled into our car ... all five of us. This was before the seat belt laws so I'm sure two of us kids had seats and one laid claim to the floor. I'm sure we all had on our pajamas and were well-stocked with blankets, pillows, books, and maybe a stuffed animal or two.

And we "hunkered down" for a trip through the night.

We drove from rural Oklahoma through the Kansas plains and into Colorado.

Reaching our final destination ... Bigmama's house!! Oh I loved that house! It seemed so big and wonderful. Situated in Widefield, Colorado, with a big fenced in yard and lots of room to play. The basement had a big room with a beautiful Christmas tree. I loved going into the room off the laundry room ... now we'd call it the "craft room" but to me ... it was just this magical place with fabric, ribbons, glue, buttons, sequins ... a wonderland!

But that year ... we surprised them! Bigmama - who is truly larger than life in personality and love - was overwhelmed! I'm sure the entire Colorado Springs metro area heard her yelps of delight!

I can't tell you a single gift any of us opened ... I'm not even 100% sure who all was there ... but I know this ... I learned a lesson that Christmas that has been with me ever since ... there's no gift greater than being with those you love!

This Christmas, I hope you find yourself surrounded by those you love ... and if you, like my little family of three, will spend Christmas Day away from family, I hope you will do as we will ... seek out those who will also be separated from family and invite them to join you. All the guests at that first Christmas in a stable were unknown to Mary and Joseph ... those shepherds were the forgotten, the unimportant, but God Himself invited them to join the celebration. How like our Father are we when we take time to include the forgotten and unimportant in our celebration of Christ's birth?

Any Christmas surprises in your family? Share them with us!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Sweets

{These are some of Molli's favorite Christmas recipes ... foods she makes every year - or close to it. Enjoy!}

Cool Whip Candy

3 (8 oz) Hershey bars
2 cartons Cool Whip
1/2 cup vanilla wafer crumbs or cookie crumbs or chopped nuts

Melt chocolate in microwave. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Stir in Cool Whip. Drop by teaspoons into crumbs or nuts. Place on waxed paper. Store in refrigerator.

Sugar Bacon
{Yep, bacon for dessert ... does it get any better?}

1/2 pound bacon at room temperature
1 cup (okay, who am I kidding, I always use more!) brown sugar
  • Roll, pat, or shake the bacon in brown sugar. (I coat it big time!)
  • Place bacon strips in flat pan with sides.
  • Bake at 300 degrees until bacon is well done, 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Remove with tongs and drain on brown paper bags.
  • As it cools, bacon will get hard and can be broken into smaller pieces or served whole.

Tiger Butter

1 pound white chocolate or white almond bark
1 (12 ounce) jar of peanut butter
1 pound semisweet chocolate, melted
  • Combine white chocolate and peanut and melt in microwave.
  • Spread mixture onto a wax-paper-lined jellyroll pan.
  • Pour melted semisweet chocolate over peanut butter mixture and swirl with knife.
  • Chill until firm.
  • Break into pieces.
  • Store in refrigerator.

2 & 2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
  • Heat sugar, corn syrup and water in a 2-qt saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved.
  • Cook, without stirring, until temperature on a candy thermometer reaches 260 degrees or until a small amount dropped into very cold water forms a hard ball.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  • Continue beating and pour hot syrup in a thin stream into egg whites.
  • Add vanilla; beat until mixture holds its shape and becomes slightly dull.
  • Drop from a buttered spoon onto waxed paper.

We hope you enjoy these recipes. Check back every Friday for more of our favorite holiday sweets and treats.

What are some of the favorite foods in your home at Christmas?

This post linked up with the ever so delightful Lisa at Stop & Smell the Chocolates! Go visit her for more dessert ideas ... Teri Lynne has linked her Red Velvet Cake recipe there!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Peaceful Rest

Several years ago, we had quite a Christmas at our house. Not only were the usual suspects there (Ed, Mollianne, Annie, Forest, Malcolm and Sean) but also my sister’s family (Linda, Joey, BobbieJo, MJ and Sami), my parents (Bob and Charlotte) my step-daughters (Danika and Angel…both with boyfriends who are now ex-boyfriends), my brother-in-law and maybe a few more. Who could count them all?

I remember 2 things in particular. The first is that it was noisy. You can’t have that many people (especially people in my family) in one house and not have a lot of chatter, giggling, laughing, screeching and loud over-talking. Just can’t do it. No way. No how. It was loud. When Ed and I slipped away the nights we spent at a friend’s house, we commented on how quiet the quiet was when we got there.

The second memory is that I was sick. I used to get sick every Christmas, but it had been quite some time since I had been this ill, much less at Christmas. I woke up on the 23rd with a scratchy throat, but went on to Church and sang in the Christmas program. I opted out of the annual ‘Cutting of the Christmas Tree’ and tried to get a nap on the couch. By the evening, I was running a pretty fair temperature and feeling awful. With a house-full of company!

I woke up on Christmas Eve with no voice at all, and was coughing a deep and horrible cough. It was official. I was sick. Really sick. I had to call the Music Director at church and tell her that I would be unable to sing my solo at the early Christmas Eve service. Actually, I whispered to her, but she got what I was trying to say. I think she had caller ID and figured out who was calling and managed to get to the bottom line from my croaky whispering.

As the day progressed, I felt worse and worse. It began to get dark and everyone was scurrying to get ready for church. I was on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket trying to hold my eyes open. There was no way I was going to get dressed up and go to church. If I went at all, it would be in the clothes I was wearing. As I observed the pandemonium in my house, my Sweet Daddy came and sat close to me. He brushed the hair back from my face and whispered, “Would you like me to stay home with you while the rest of them go to church?” Would I???

I should tell you that I am The Self-Proclaimed Queen of Daddy’s Girls. I have found comfort in his arms more times that I can count. I tried to open my eyes enough to focus on his face and croaked out a very weak, “Yes sir!” He sat down beside me and I leaned into those wonderful arms that have been a haven to me for over 50 years. We were both asleep before the last of the church-goers left the house.

We were still asleep, with my head on his shoulder when they burst in from church. I’ll have to say that they came in loudly, but I guess you’d have figured that out!

What a sweet Christmas memory, but it blends into so many other memories of times when my Sweet Daddy was there for me. I am so blessed to have an earthly father whose life has continually pointed me to my Heavenly Father. How easy it is for me to believe that My Father loves and cares for me when I’ve lived my whole life knowing how much my Sweet Daddy loves me. If he cares for me so…how much more does God care for me?

How wonderful to rest in The Father’s arms, with all of our burdens, weariness and busy-ness of the season when we celebrate the birth of His Son!

What burdens are you carrying? Has the Christmas season already got you down? Do you need the arms of a loving Father to give you rest?

All you have to do is ask and He is there. His wonderful promise in Matthew 11:28 is this: Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest. (International Standard Version 2008)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Christmas Shuffle

Annie & Molli ~ newborn and recent college graduation

{Today, I get to introduce you to Annie ... beloved daughter of Molli, granddaughter & namesake of Charlotte, and cousin & grown-up friend of mine! Annie's story is so beautiful ... as is she. You'll be hoping she makes many more appearances here on our blog. Thank you, Annie, for sharing what Christmas is for you and for shining so brightly ... I love you! ~ Teri Lynne}

Christmas Traditions?

Ha! I laugh in the face of such things!

I deny even knowing what they are!

I have faint memories of a Great Turkey visiting when I was young and bringing Capt’n Crunch. That was a tradition. But it hasn’t followed me.

I remember cutting down live Christmas Trees and nobody being happy with what we got. That has kind of stayed on. Ed takes the boys to cut one down every year, but that’s not MY tradition.

I’m sure that in my infinitely horrid memory, there are traditions that I don’t know about. But all tradition went out the window the day that I became we.

The arrival of Malcolm changed Christmas in a way that I would have never imagined. And no, it’s not seeing the day in wonder through the eyes of a child. It changed because that was the beginning of the Christmas Shuffle.

Annie and Malcolm (10 days old)

Ahh, yes. The Christmas Shuffle. Probably well known to some of you. It was brand new to me in 1998. I was at my home with my baby boy enjoying my mom and dad, doing Christmas things, and then…Shuffle! Off to his dad’s house. I had to give up the one thing that made this Christmas so much more wonderful than any other I had ever had.

And it wasn’t just my Shuffle. My step-sisters were doing their own version between their mom and dad. It was chaotic. It was not fun. Family was not together. It wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. But it was the way of our lives. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. Nobody was completely happy. Nobody was feeling fulfilled. Christmas just wasn’t as good.

And then there are those who are not shuffled but still have to suffer the consequences. My dear Sean is heartbroken every year as his brother gets shuffled away. They might fuss and fight when they are together, as brothers do, but I’ve watched the Sean half of the Shuffle. It’s like he loses half of himself and he’s not happy again until the Shuffle is reversed and his Malcolm is home. It’s the heart breaking outcome of a “modern family.”

Now I’m not bashing my family, nor would I wish any of them away. I believe that if it was different, my family wouldn’t be the family it is and my life would not be complete. I wouldn’t have my boys. Wouldn’t have the Amazing Rocket Man as a father. Wouldn’t have my Forest as a loving, caring husband. I would not have gained a compassionate spirit for the needs of others. I would not have learned flexibility. I would have not learned the importance of family. I wouldn’t have learned the Shuffle.

Annie & Forest

So while my Christmas tradition might be very different than others, it has taught me so much about Christmas. It’s not about presents, or when they are opened. It’s not about the things that are or are not done. It’s not the food that is or is not cooked. It is about loving family and loving the time that you have together. It’s about knowing who family is and being truly blessed by them. It’s about keeping the spirit of Christ in your heart no matter what life throws at you.

Forest, Annie, Malcolm & Sean

And that is my Christmas Tradition.