Saturday, December 20, 2014

They'll All Be Home for Christmas

Guys. Five days to Christmas.


Five days.

FIVE DAYS!

I'm not excited at all. ;) Just kidding.

Last weekend, my sister-in-law, who is one of my bestest friends, came home from college for winter break! So excited to see her! Bekah and I have been friends long before she became my sister. This was her first year off at college, and I missed her so much! You don't realize how much you take your friends for granted until they live on the other side of the country.

My baby brother also came home last weekend. Happy he's home for the holiday. I actually haven't seen my brother, Sean, since last Christmas. He's in college, and instead of coming home last summer, he went on his first missionary trip to China! That's right! I know missionary folks. :) Anyways, shortly after Christmas he is going on a missionary trip to Mexico, and then back to China this summer. Sean has always been one busy guy!

Then this past Thursday, Sean picked up my baby sister Christine from college. So happy to see her. My baby sister is one of my heroes. This past June, she had open heart surgery. She's only nineteen. She was born with a heart condition, and underwent heart surgery as a baby. Thank God, she didn't need another surgery until this year.

God's hand was upon her. My sister is a strong young woman. Christine was released from the hospital four days after the surgery, and another week or so after that, she quit taking pain medication.

Next up is my brother-in-law and his family. They will be arriving next week with their two sons for Christmas.

(Side note: Man, all I got is nephews! We really need a little girl in the family. Baby girl clothes are the cutest! My husband and I are at the stage in our marriage where we are being asked about kids a lot. Asked, or on the receiving end of "subtle" hints from the future grandparents.)

Here's what we got my nephews for Christmas.


Yeah. This is happening. ;)

The other nine guns are so the adults can play with the kids defend themselves. Sam insisted on picking out his own nerf gun. He likes it because it looks like it's being held together by duck tape. Bekah and I have been eyeing the bow and arrow nerf guns. We are all looking forward to their visit, and it's going to make for a busy, nerf-filled Christmas! :)

This is my nativity scene.


I love this nativity scene. It's made from olive wood from olive trees from Israel. How cool is that? Anyways. Our cat, Angel, likes it a lot too. She's taken up rubbing her face on baby Jesus.

Observe.

video

I have to pick out the chunks of gray fur that surround the wise men every couple of days.

So I was writing a kid blog for Snack Pack for Kidz, and I was thinking about Mary, mother of Jesus. Man, she was cool! Right? Really think about this. Most historians believe Mary to be around 14 years old when she had Jesus. Can you imagine finding out at 14 that you have to have a baby, and by the way, he's the Son of God?

Crazy.

I don't know about you, but I would have flipped a lid.

But what does Mary do?

"And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.'" Luke 1:46-47

Her immediate response was to rejoice! She thanked God! Her soul magnified him! She could have been worried about being a mommy, or what people would think of a 14-year-old, unmarried girl having a baby. Instead she choose to thank God and rejoice in Him.

I want to be like Mary!

This young woman was, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest examples of faith we could ever see. She didn't question God on the topic. Once she got over the shock of being a virgin mother, she accepted God's will for her life.

And in a bizarre twist, praised God.

I think this Christmas, we should remember to be more like Mary. This girl was not given an easy task, but she accepted it with such dignity and poise. She was happy to do it! We all should be happy to do the tasks God has give us. Goodness, we should even rejoice and thank God for them!

Well, guys. This is the last time we are going to talk this year... I always feel a little nostalgic at the end of the year. What big things happened in my life this past year?  What things am I hoping for in the coming year? How has God moved in my life? Will this finally be the year Friends comes to Netflix. You know...important questions like that. I can tell you one thing for certain: I so look forward to the year to come, and I can't wait for all the fun stuff I have in store for you guys!  This is only the beginning...

I hope you all have a blessed, happy, and merry Christmas! Thanks for hanging out with me today! I will see you all January 1st!

Next year. ;)

Merry Christmas!

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Is Coming!

Hello again! How have you guys been?

Christmas is right around the corner. My husband and I have been preparing for Christmas, buying presents and getting ready for relatives! Starting this weekend, family will start to arrive. :) We are looking forward to it! I've missed all my brothers and sisters a lot.

Really.

We have 15 days before everything is wrapped and shoved underneath the Christmas tree. So the big question is this: Is anyone done with their Christmas shopping yet? Done? Ha! I bet some of you are saying, "I haven't even started shopping yet."

Yes, Mom. I know. :)

Is Christmas shopping stressful for you? Or is it fun? Do you purchase all your presants from the comfort of your couch, or do you brave the frantic Christmas shoppers fighting each other for the perfect present? I try very hard to pick something I think the other person will like. My husband and I don't have a swimming pool of money like Scrooge McDuck, so we really have to put thought into gifts for our family and friends. That's the point though, right?

Right.

And if that thoughtful gift is a Mrs. Potato Head set for a friend who shares your twisted sense of humor, more power to you.

Which brings me to Christmas traditions. We've all got Christmas traditions. Special foods, places we go, sweet things to do. One of my traditions with one of my best friends is to buy totally random...how do I put this? Junk. We buy real presents for each other, too, but we always get a few random, strange things for fun.

My favorite place to get all this junk?

Books-A-Million, or better known as BAM! among us crazy fanatics.

If you want to find a big red button that sings, shouts, and mutters "NO!" over and over, look no further. If you have a dedicated music lover, grab the electric guitar shaped spatula. If mustaches are your thing, look no further. Mustaches cover necklaces, scarves, and note pads. You can even buy the crazy stick-on mustaches just for some laughs. If you want lip gloss that smells like bacon... Well, that's actually kind of gross, but to each their own. Oh, and the very best reason of all: books! And the coffee shop. Books and coffee - now that's the prefect present! :)

What about you all? Do you ever just see something in the checkout line and think, "Oh, that's so weird! She's going to love it!"

 Anyways.

This past Saturday, I was in major hermit mode, then my mother-in-law called me about the time for the afternoon tea we were going to that day. The donations from this tea help support the fire department in our town. 

The tea that I had forgotten completely.

Whoops.

So, I got ready really quick, and went to pick up Jasmine, one of the girls from the youth group, who was coming with us. The roads were awful thanks to the snow fall. Winter is definitely here! Thank God, we had no issues while driving, and made it there and back safely. 

Here are some pictures from the tea!

The chandelier's over each table! They did a nice job with those!

Me and Jasmine!

Me and Jasmine again!
Jasmine, my mother-in-law, and I all had a lovely time a tea. My first time at this function was last May with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. It was much more laid back and casual then the first time I went. Only a single course, and not as long. We had fun just the same, and I liked the actual tea served this time better.

It was fruity. That's the part that counts. ;)

So for any of you that read Snack Time Devotions or Snack Pack for Kidz, I apologize if this is the second or third time you've read something akin to this, but this topic has just been on my heart lately.

The story in 1 Kings 3 with the two woman of questionable morals. They each had a baby, but one night, one of the woman rolled on top of her baby, and the poor baby died. She woke up, and realized what had happened. Then she crept over to her friend's bed, and stole her baby while she slept!

Of course, by the time this got to King Solomon, it was all he-said-she-said. How was he supposed to know who was telling the truth? Was he supposed to pick the desperate, determined woman, or the frantic, hysterical woman? What was he supposed to do?

Well, you guys know the story. He had a sword brought out, and made a terrifying statement:

Divide the baby into two pieces. Each woman will get half.

The lying woman went right along with the plan, declaring that it was perfectly fair that neither of them got the baby. The true mommy screamed and begged for the child to be given to the other woman - the only thing that mattered to her was that the baby lived.

The reason King Solomon was able to discern who was telling the truth, the reason he even came up with this bizarre plan was because of the wisdom of God.

"But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand." Job 32:8 ESV

"For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity." Proverbs 2:6-7 ESV

When I was still a kid in youth group, my youth pastor (who is also my aunt) always knew when someone was telling the truth. I was always amazed at how she was able to do that. I wanted to have that kind of discernment in me, too.

It's simple. It's God's wisdom in our lives.

There is so much to be confused about in this world, especially in today's world. What's right? Who's right? What belongs to God, and what is evil? Lies so carefully cloaked and twisted that even Adam and Eve decided poorly.

It's the Spirit of God in a person that guides them and gives them the wisdom to know what's what in this crazy world. It's easy to get sidetracked and devastated with life, but as long as we got God's wisdom, then will be able to navigate this road.

That's my Biblical/Spiritual reflection for this week. :)

As I type, we are being bombarded with another winter-y storm. Lots of ice. Don't ever take warmth for granted! Sometimes it feels like we are living on the set of Frozen. Until we meet again, my friends! Have a good day, and I will see everyone on the 20th!

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, December 1, 2014

Winter and Thanksgiving

Greetings from my snowy neck of the woods! I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was good, full of turkey and gravy, and God's blessings.

First thing on Thanksgiving Day, we got to my mom's house and spent twenty minutes throwing snowballs and icicles at the TV satellite. And by we, I mean my husband and mom. I throw like a girl. There was a heavy snow storm the night before, and we woke up with over a foot of new snow.

Winter has arrived.

This Thanksgiving I attempted an egg souffle recipe that my mother-in-law gave to me at my bridal shower.  I had to use a different cheese due to the snow storm attack, but according to my family and husband, it came out very good, despite not having the same smooth consistency my mother-in-law's does.

It wasn't until I made it again this weekend that I realized I forgot the milk.




This is my second attempt this weekend. I remembered the milk this time, used a ton of extra cheese, and too much butter. What do you think? :)

This is one of the easiest recipes I have ever done, and that's saying something. I despise cooking. There, I said it. I am the one in the family who gets all the burning water jokes. Once I made a batch of muffins that tasted like pancakes. Why? I have no idea. I followed the recipe!

Anyways. Here is the recipe for the easy egg souffle:

Ingredients:
1 & 1/2 lb sharp, shredded cheddar cheese
1 dozen eggs
salt & pepper (according to taste, diet, etc.)
4 cups of milk
16 slices of white bread
1/2 cup of melted butter

Instructions:
Remove the crust from the bread, and cube it.
Alternate layers of bread cubes and cheese.

Beat eggs well.
Add salt and pepper.
Add in butter.
Add in milk.

Pour mixture all over bread and cheese layers.
Refrigerate overnight.
Bake 1 & 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.

Enjoy!

If you try it, you have to tell me what you think!!

Do you guys have some favorite recipes? What are they?

High on my Things I'm Thankful For List, is a lifelong goal that was achieved this weekend.

Are you ready for it?

This weekend.

At the store.

I was called "Ma'am," by an older woman.

Confused? That's alright. Inducing confusion is another facet of my twisted sense of humor.

I'm in my twenties and married, but with little effort, I could pass for a pre-adolescent twelve year old. I stopped growing when I was twelve, landing at 5 foot 3 inches. I have a horrid baby face, and being called cute for any reason use to result in Hulk-like rage from me. I was a classic case of 10 going on 16.

So being called Ma'am by an older, elderly adult was a very satisfying moment for me.

I'm thankful for my cute new town people.

The newlyweds!




I need help naming them. Victoria and Rohan? Lorelei and Luke? Laurel and Abram? I need thoughts, people! What do you think?

In my other blogs, I did the traditional thanksgiving message. I talked about the ten lepers found in Luke 17, and the one and only man who came back to thank Jesus. I talked about how it's important that we remember to thank God for all that He's done for us this year.

If you want to read more, here's the link: http://www.snacktimedevotions.blogspot.com/2014/11/thank-you.html

But I was thinking about anther facet of thankfulness this year.

This is my second Thanksgiving married to Sam. Both years I've had this Hallmark idea of what the holiday should look like among friends, family, and cranberry sauce.

Both years, the motion picture was not quite up to snuff due to work and life. Don't get me wrong, they have been lovely. I have an amazing family. Things just never go the way I plan it.

I think Christy Miller from Robin Jones Gunn's beloved Christy Miller Series said it best.

"It seems that when dreams come true, they never turn out the same way you dreamed them. They twist and turn and disappoint, leaving you wanting so much more. I don't know which to blame: the dream itself or the reality that dissolves the dream."

-Christy Miller / Yours Forever by Robin Jones Gunn

I think that sometimes we forget to not just be thankful for the good things (food, a house, family, toilet paper), but to be thankful for all the other stuff. Even the bad.

"And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.'" Job 1;21 ESV

"But he said to her, 'You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil.' In all this Job did not sin with his lips." Job 2:10 ESV

I'm not going to get into all the arguments/discussions/observations about Job, but at the beginning of his trials, Job really understood this principle. He understood that you have to be thankful in the good and the bad. This is one of the facets of Thanksgiving and thankfulness that God has been drilling into my thick skull.

Although, I suppose remembering that made everything a little Hallmark-y after all. :) I am thankful for my amazing family, and every moment with them.

I am thankful to have gotten my hands on these fabulous new releases!





 


I met Betsy St. Amant and Katherine Reay this past September at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. They are just so nice and fun, and so are their stories! I highly recommend all of their books. :)

These are all on my Christmas/winter reading list.



But currently I am reading:




Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay!

It's been fun catching up with you guys. God bless you all, my friends. I will see you on December 10th! :)

V. Joy Palmer