December 26th

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

There’s been a large box under the tree with my name on it since before Thanksgiving.

I’ve known what it is, and the suspense has been building (and killing me) for the last month.

In fact, I’ve been holding off on making Christmas Cookies because I knew this wonderful gadget would make it that much more fun. So when I finally opened it yesterday morning, I knew I’d have a special date with it at home today.

It is big, shiny, powerful, and beautiful.

Ladies and gentlemen: A KitchenAid Stand Mixer. After taking a picture of myself in the pretty shiny mixing bowl, I made a small batch of chocolate chip cookies this evening, and they were perfect.

We can also purchase additional attachments like a corer/peeler/slicer, which we may look into because of the amount of apples we froze from our neighbor’s trees this fall.

This pretty thing may have become my new best friend.

December 24th

Monday, December 24th, 2018

Merry Christmas Eve!

While we won’t be having a white Christmas this year, the big positive about the weather being mild is that all of the ice has melted.

The big thing that stops Paul and I from riding outdoors in the winter is fear of ice; even with a layer of snow on top, you don’t know what’s happening underneath and the idea of our horses slipping and sliding is not an appealing one. Especially since our horses are not in peak shape by any means right now, so pulling a muscle is a real possibility with too much of a slip or slide.

Since the ground is dry because of the weather, over the past couple weeks we’ve been going out on short but wonderful rides down the driveway. The boys basically put their halters on themselves they’re so excited to get out, and it’s a great for everyone to get some fresh air and exercise. It’s great for their mental state, too, as they get to go out and take in new sights that they don’t see in the pasture. Our boys aren’t big fans of riding in the arena, so it’s great bonding for all of us to go out and do a ride everyone wants to do.

In addition to all of that, with a busy day tomorrow it just seemed right to spend Christmas Eve in the barn, the site of Jesus’ birth, with livestock, Jesus’ first witnesses.

What a beautiful place for reflection on the reason for the season. What a privilege.

December 23rd

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

We started going to a new church this spring, Eagle Brook, and have really enjoyed it.

Although the church is large – with seven campuses they could even be called the “mega-church” of the Twin Cities – the way they handle services makes it seem small. It used to really bother me that we were going to a “mega church,” but I’ve realized that there’s a reason they’re so large, and that’s a good thing. Many people just like me and Paul really have connected with how they teach.

Their music is what sold me the first time we went. I love good music, the kind that rocks you. It’s like a concert, and I don’t know how they nail it every single week but they do; it never fails that tears fill my eyes each week.

And the pastors are great, normal people. I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so much in church before.

Anyway, we attend the Anoka campus, and between yesterday, today, and tomorrow, they’re hosting nine Christmas services. NINE. Pastor Bob said today in his message that throughout all seven campuses, Eagle Brook as a whole is hosting 57 Christmas Services.

Think of all the people connecting with Christ this weekend just at this church. That’s mind blowing.

At the beginning of the service today, they showed a very emotional video of a family and how their Christmas changed from year to year. Deaths, new relationships, resentment, joy.

I was proud of myself for holding it together to be honest.

Then our campus pastor took the stage and welcomed everyone. In an abbreviated nutshell, he said this: Merry Christmas, we’re glad you’re here. We know that Christmas isnt always an easy time of year, and we’re so glad you chose to come and spend your time with us. God sent his son so that we could have eternal life. He moves mountains. And I believe you being here today is not coincidence, that you were brought here today for a purpose.

I had noticed the two women sitting in front of us when we originally took our seats but didn’t think much about them. Looked to be a mom and daughter about my age.

However, at that moment in the service I watched the mom reach out and place her hand on her daughter’s knee. The daughter firmly took her mom’s hand as they exchanged a very emotional look and sat there together.

That was my trigger, and had a hard time keeping it together. I wasn’t the only one though – I watched them wipe tears from their eyes throughout the rest of the service,

What was their story? What brought them here? What words were they there to hear? How was God moving through them?

It was powerful.

 

December 3rd

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

If you know me, you know I’m not a crier.

But Stephanie made me cry today.

She asked if I could come help her trim her bunny, Dwight’s, nails this afternoon, but when I went it was a setup. Instead, after hearing about my sadness with hanging up Burke’s stocking this year, she (and Dwight) gave me this beautiful ornament as an early Christmas gift to hang and enjoy on our tree.

It was a total surprise, and had me in tears instantly (if I’m being honest I’m crying again now as I type this). It was so thoughtful, and it was exactly perfect and exactly what I needed.

Now, I can hang this ornament instead of his stocking, and still have a piece of him there to celebrate with us.

And he always loved the tree, so it just makes sense.

Thank you , Steph – I love you!

November 24th

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…”

One of my favorite things to decorate for the first year we lived in our house was Christmas. I went to Target and splurged on Christmas lights, stockings and these cute little reindeer stocking hooks for our mantel. All of those things are still some of my favorites to set up.

This year was a little different.

I pulled out all of my garlands, ornaments, my advent calendar, and our beloved stockings and started setting up. It felt wonderful until I got to the bottom of my tote, and I came across Burke’s stocking. A cute little stocking more than likely meant for a baby, but it was perfect for our little furry peanut.

It’s our first Christmas without him, and it brought a flood of feelings.

He used to love when I decorated for Christmas – sitting under the tree was his favorite thing. Ever since he was a babe, he had a thing for snoozing under Christmas trees. The picture below is Burke only a couple weeks after I got him under our Charlie Brown apartment tree. He was only a couple of months old here!

376344_10150980014520344_1281866133_n.jpg

I almost didn’t hang it up, but I thought it was a great way to remember him through.

It’s been seven months since that nugget last wiggled his little nose at me, and I miss him. I think of him often, and how much joy he brought. My sweet sass master, my little bun with a big heart. He got me through a lot, and was there for so many big life events. The first animal who lived in my home with me, who became a part of my daily routine.

30724956_10160313072845344_7426924913589485568_o.jpg

So now, I’ll smile when I look at his stocking hanging over the fireplace. Each season brings it’s own “without yous,” but soon we’ll reach our one year mark, and each benchmark will get easier and easier.

 

December 14th

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

This time of year is my favorite.

The coziness of snuggling under a blanket as the wind blows and the snow falls. The high spirits of twinkling lights on eaves. Wafting scents of yummy comfort food coming from slow cookers.

Traditions, friends, family.

One of my favorite traditions is Christmas cards. I absolutely love making them each year, and I love the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas when happy envelopes fill our mailbox.

Paul and I have an area near our entryway where we hang all of our cards, and it is overflowing this year. Each day as I pin another one or two up, I can’t help but reflect on all of the smiling faces from all of the cards on our wall. So much joy, so much love. Such a wonderful reminder of how full our lives are, and how blessed we are to know and love so many.

What’s your favorite Christmas time tradition?

November 16th

Thursday, December 16th, 2017

Ugh, I hate to do this to you guys, but today’s image is a secret.

I took an image of a Christmas gift Paul and I purchased for my parents, and didn’t really stop to think that I can’t share it because my mom (hi mom!) reads my blog.

However, we are exchanging early gifts on Thanksgiving, so I promise to come back in and update the image. I’ll be sure to make a note in Thanksgiving’s post that I’ve updated this one.