Archive for November, 2010

Tuesday Topic: Under the Pile

Do you have any time or energy saving tips to pass along to us moms feeling under the pile? Even if it saves just a few minutes, pass it along!

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)


Anticipating Christmas

My friend made a very special advent calendar last year for her kids, and when I saw it I immediately knew I wanted to incorporate it into our family’s traditions!  She made little envelopes for each day from December 1st to Christmas Eve and inside she wrote something special that the family would do together on that day as they looked forward to Christmas Day… and the birth of Christ!

For example, on Day 1 she wrote: “Jesus is the light of the world!  We will have a surprise tonight to celebrate that!”  Then that evening they lit a special advent candle that counts down the days until Christmas.  She tried to include Bible verses as much as she could to go with the theme of the day.  She waited to put each insert into the next day’s envelope until the night before, in case plans changed.  She also incorporated things that they were already doing on many days (like a team Christmas party), so as not to make things stressful or crazy.  Her kids loved opening each day’s envelope, and it was a special way to count down the days until Christmas and to focus on Christ.

Here are a few ideas for things to do each day:
– invite over another family and make Christmas cookies together
– decorate the Christmas tree
– make thank you cards to use after Christmas
– watch a Christmas movie in bed as a family
– eat dessert before dinner
– open a present early
– do something kind for a neighbor
– see how many friends and family members you can skype with in a morning
– bathtime with green colored ice cubes
– ice skating or sledding
– visiting the city square to look at ice sculptures

I’m excited to begin this fun tradition this year with our family!!

Do you have any special ways of celebrating Advent?

(Post by: Jami)

A Season of Emotions

I was just standing at the sink washing some left over dishes from a post-Thanksgiving meal that we had tonight with our team and was struck by how emotionally spent I am feeling. I don’t mean that negatively, though. It’s the good kind of spent- the kind that comes from experiencing a range of strong emotions in a short span of time and from having truly given my heart and strength in celebration. In recent years for several reasons I have grown to love 2 Corinthians 12:15 in which Paul says, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” So often in this phase of life I am spent. How grateful I am, though, that there are so many opportunities to do this gladly and with purpose.

The emotions for me this week have been all over the place, but all so deeply felt. There was the gratitude that overflows as we take this special holiday to focus both on the many things that we are thankful for and on the One to whom we give thanks. There was the joy of helping our kids celebrate, and understand, and learn to treasure this tradition as well. There was the blessing of time spent enjoying dear friends. And there was also the stress of cooking loads of food while taking care of 3 kids and trying not to burn anything… and thankfully the delight too that everything turned out just fine. And of course there were the feelings of homesickness that always come as we talk to our dearly loved family, thousands of miles away from us on a day where more than anything we would desire to be close. Feelings also came as I remembered again what a cultural anomaly we are here. One day I am celebrating Thanksgiving, and the next I am watching a performance and drinking tea with my daughter at her pre-school while being honored for Russian Mother’s day! So many emotions!

Allowing this feeling of exhaustion to wash over me caused me to desire to pray for you, all of you dear moms who also likely are or will sometime this season feel spent as you experience your own vast array of emotions throughout this season. It is a joyous time and at times a difficult one, especially when we find ourselves removed from loved ones and the loved and comforting traditions of “home.”  No matter which type of emotions seem to take the forefront, these months are nearly always rife with feeling.  Know that you are being prayed for this season as God works in your heart through the emotions evoked during this poignant time.

How are you feeling after Thanksgiving? Do you care to share any of the joyous or difficult emotions that these days of celebration have brought about in your life? Is there any way we can be praying for you this holiday season?

(Post by: Ashley)

Tuesday Topic: Thanksgiving!

This Tuesday topic is two-fold. First, what are you doing to celebrate this year? Do you have any special traditions that you are carrying on? Secondly, what are 3-5 things that you are thankful for? Can’t wait to hear your replies!

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Holiday “Starbucks” Everywhere

Last year I posted a recipe for pumpkin spice lattes that has since become a favorite of mine. This year I’ve tried a few other things that I thought I’d share! Enjoy!

Peppermint Mocha:

Key ingredients- milk, espresso or very strong coffee, chocolate syrup, peppermint flavoring, and perhaps some extra sugar and whipped cream.

You can find a recipe for chocolate syrup on the recipes page if you cannot buy it at the store where you live.

The peppermint flavoring could be a bit more tricky, but there are a couple of options.

Option 1, Peppermint syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoons peppermint extract

Instructions: Boil water and sugar and mix until dissolved, then mix in extract. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Option 2, Peppermint tea bag: This is bit strange but surprisingly good. You can flavor your coffee with a peppermint tea bag. Don’t leave it in too long though. Just dunk it until it gives the coffee a nice minty aroma. I tried it and it is actually quite delicious!

To make your mocha, combine your preferred proportions of milk, coffee, chocolate, and flavoring and voila! To make it even more festive, add whipped cream and red sugar sprinkles to top it off!

Gingerbread Latte:

Key ingredients- gingerbread syrup, espresso or strong coffee, milk, whipped cream, ground nutmeg

Gingerbread Syrup
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*(follow the basic cooking instructions for the peppermint syrup)

1/2 cup fresh espresso
8 ounces milk, steamed (with a little foam)

whipped cream
ground nutmeg

(Gingerbread latte recipe found here)

Starbucks Peppermint Brownies

I shared this recipe last year and made them again this year! Yum! Be sure to start with a rich, fudgy brownie recipe though!

Happy holiday feasting!

Do you have any other festive holiday treat ideas to share for those who might be missing Starbucks?

(Post by: Ashley)

Pondering Prayer

Most moms pray for their kids. I do. Every day… sometimes many moments of a day are spent petitioning the Lord, interceding for my children… or begging Him for wisdom, insight and discernment regarding so and so about such and such. Sometimes my prayers are flung like arrows – short, quick pleas fired desperately upward, often in crisis moments… Sometimes they are intense times of intercession where the Lord has impressed upon my heart a particular passage linked to a particular child and I pray Scripture over and for my child… Sometimes my husband and I pray together as we work together parenting the crew God has gifted to us…  or often a friend and I bow our hearts before the Almighty on behalf of our children, united by the Spirit. One certainty: my daily survival as a wife, mom, missionary, teacher, and person depends on prayer. The more I walk the road of this life, the more I find that I need to…  I desire to… pray more:   more continuously, more “Scripture –ally,” more ardently.

My prayers have changed as my children have grown.  Maybe that seems obvious; after all, children grow and mature. Their weaknesses, strengths and needs change. But my prayers haven’t changed for that reason, and as I’ve reflected on this, I must say that the realization astonishes me. When I became a parent, I often prayed for temporal and obvious things usually related to safety, protection from all the big and little “owies” of life and good health… I still pray for those things, but they are no longer the focus when I pray for my children. Rather than primarily centering my attention on those – the scary things that tend to jump immediately to my mind when I worry about what bad might happen to these little people I love so much – the Holy Spirit has begun interceding, guiding my intercessions, and sometimes He leads me to pray hard things for my children.

I’d like to share a few morsels from my menu for prayer. It is neither a recipe to be followed, nor a list of items to cross off (in fact, this is the first time I’ve actually penned any of this in black and white). I prefer to think of it as a selection of things that have been branded onto my heart, things that I’m led to pray repeatedly and fairly frequently for some or for all of my children. As I spend more time quiet before the Lord, in that silence I am learning the Spirit wants to intercede, leading my wandering, helter-skelter prayer paths… directing and guiding petitions so that instead of simply praying God’s Word back to Him or praying through a list I’ve scratched out in my finite thinking, I allow Him to plot His points for prayer, bringing yet another area of my life into submission to the Lord.  I pray that

·         when my children sin, they get caught… and that there are consequences that leave a lasting impression.

·         they learn, first to recognize and then to abhor any appearance of deceitfulness or pride, in themselves.

·         my children experience loneliness so that they begin to learn that Jesus is the One and Only best friend.

·         they have courage to walk differently from their peers if those peers are not following Jesus.

·         they have courage to walk difficult paths with their peers who are seeking to please the Lord.

·         God shows them clearly where they are weak so that then, they can see Him prove Himself strong.

·         they are content with this missionary life, thanking God continually for how He has chosen to use our family.

·         if someday God trusts any one of my children with suffering for His name’s sake, they will recognize the privilege that has been entrusted to them.

·         At tender ages, they trust God with and thank Him for their moments of pain (I’ve learned not to pray that the Lord spares them from the sting, either). Those moments will come – and the stakes only get higher as they get older.

Do you find your prayers for your children changing with time? How? What does the Lord lead you to pray, specifically, for your children?

(Post by: Richelle)

Tuesday Topic: Being a Help-mate

From Kara: What has God taught you about being a help-mate to your husband?

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