Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks~

I have so many things to be thankful for. A new, healthy baby boy on the way, an amazing family and wonderful friends, the world's best husband, and two beautiful children...and the list could go on. Thanksgiving isn't the only day I feel thankful for these blessings, but this is definitely a day to celebrate them. My side of the family is out of town this year for Thanksgiving, so we spent time with the hubby's side of the family. There's a neat little state park not far from our house that has a wonderful restaurant. We've been there a few times for Thanksgiving in the we decided to do that. complaints here! Good food and no cooking or cleaning...perfect for this Momma!

Here's the hubby and his siblings. I love this pic!
Our two kiddos. Sophie loves to pose with her arms out...all the time. I don't really know why, but ok. : ) That's just her style.

It's hard to get them both to look at the camera at the same time! But arms out for Sophie! I love the look on her face! After we ate we went down to the playground at the park and let the kids play. The weather was great!

Out of about 5 pictures, this is the only one where most of the family was looking and no one's eyes were closed! I can see that family photos will not be as easy as they used to be.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I did. Great food, a nice, long nap, and time with the family. To top it off, I got most of my Christmas and kids' birthday shopping DONE! I was able to get the kids a few things that I was hoping to find on sale...and did! It's hard to have specific things you're looking for and find them at a discount. Thank you, Lord! I'm so glad I didn't have to leave the house this year. But I will say a big thanks to my friend, Christy, who said she would get baby wipes at Toys R Us for me that are only sold in stores (I think!). Last year I went at 6 am and got two boxes and they lasted us for almost 6 mos! I hated to miss that deal, so I am so thankful that a friend will snag them up for me! That'll really help with the new baby, too!

God bless!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

A clean closet and turkey cookies!

Here's my closet. Yes, it's a bit small...part of the deal in having an older house. Over the years I've had a tough time keeping it organized and expressed that to a good friend of mine. She offered to come by and help a sister out. This is the finished product! It's kind of hard to tell because it's so full, but it looks a ton better!
Shoes are neatly stacked on the built in shelves, where I previously had a ton of clothes stacked on. The clothes are now in bins or crates on that top shelf.

This huge piece of luggage was on the top shelf, but we moved it down to the floor and filled it...with a lot of stuff. Just so I wouldn't forget what was in there, we labeled it with some masking tape and a pen. This has been really easy to maintain! I'm so thankful for friends who will take the time to use their gifts to help me!

Shifting gears...last week was our last week of school before the Thanksgiving holidays so I wanted to do something fun. When I was teaching in Thailand one of the other teachers made these cute turkey cookies and I thought we could do that with the kids. We started off with individual bowls with the supplies. For each turkey, you need 1 Oreo cookie, 1 red hot, 1 malted milk ball, about 4 or 5 candy corns, and some peanut butter (for "glue").

You start by twisting the Oreo apart, doing your best to keep as much creme on one side. I bought these holiday Oreos with red creme and they seemed to have a little more filling than the regular ones. So the double stuff Oreos might be better. I showed them how to press the candy corns into the creme to look like turkey "feathers".

Then you put some peanut butter on the cookie without creme and do your best to prop the feathered cookie upright on top of the peanut butter. Putting the milk ball in front kind of helps prop it up. Then you take a little more peanut butter and use it to attach the red hot on top of the milk ball. Then..viola! You have a cute turkey cookie : ). These are Isaac's. They turned out so cute...and delicious!

We invited my friend (the one who helped me with the closet) and her little girl to join us. Her daughter is almost the same age as Isaac, so I thought it would be fun for him to have a little friend. These are her cookies (her Mama helped her : )).

And here are the big girls : ). The did theirs all by themselves...and did a great job! It was a fun treat!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Praying for the Persecuted

Last Sunday at church we were challenged to pray for those who are persecuted, and even martyred, for their faith. We saw a short video clip of a woman, in a country I had never really heard of, who was beaten and imprisoned for her faith in Christ. She talked about how her faith had sustained her and given her strength in the midst of severe beatings. To survive her imprisonment, she and her fellow believers would pray 6 times a day...three during the day and three through the night. How eye-opening...and what a challenge! I know that I have lived a very "safe" Christian life, never really being persecuted for my faith even though I've lived as a missionary in a country that was primarily Buddhist. Now that I'm here in the US, where we have so many freedoms, I am challenged that I should be more bold about my faith. What keeps us from sharing the truth of the Gospel when we have so many freedoms to do so?

It could be that we are too afraid of displeasing people. We want people to like us, right? We want to be nice and friendly. Maybe we feel awkward about talking about Jesus when our society rebels so much against what Christians stand for. Maybe we as Christians don't know how to approach people who look different from us, live a different lifestyle, and the list goes on. I'm challenged by this. One of the conclusions I've come to is that I want to simply share with people the love of Christ. I think before we can jump ahead and start encouraging people to change their lifestyle or ways of thinking, we have to get to the core...people need Christ. They need Him and His Word and that's what will transform them. I think that's step one. That's my thought, anyway. I know how much I need Christ's transforming power in my own life. I would love to see the lives of others around me transformed as well.

Today I finished reading another book, The Preacher's Wife by Jody Hedlund. Wow. I would definitely recommend it. I liked it because it was set in 1600s England in the time of the Puritans. Not only did I learn new historical information, but it was a great love story. It also told of the persecution of the Puritans and the lengths they went to stand for the truth of Jesus Christ. The main character was loosely based on John Bunyan, who was imprisoned for his faith. It was a great follow-up to what we heard in church on Sunday.

A few other great missionary biographies that I've read:

Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose. Great story of a woman and her husband who were taken captive during WWII.

Bruchko by Bruce Olson. Another amazing story written by Olson about his experiences with South American Indians. He began in 1961, so this story is more current.

There are so many more biographies/autobiographies written by those who have been an amazing example of perseverance and faith in Christ. They put their lives on the line to share with others the truth of Christ. Once again, it is definitely a challenge and encouragement to me.

May we all be challenged to pray for those who are persecuted around the world!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Whole Lot of Reading Goin' On!

I'm a little concerned that my Bethany House books that I've signed up to review haven't been coming. I haven't received one in quite a while, but I haven't given up hope that a nice little book package will arrive in my mailbox soon. Until then...I've been reading a bunch of freebies I picked up from Amazon!

Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

Finally! I was able to borrow my sister's Kindle while Joe and I were on our little getaway. It was a treat to finally be able to read the conclusion of the River of Time series. I have really enjoyed these books! This book picks right up where the last one left off. Gabriella is back in 1300's Italy, along with her family. They are searching for Marcello and others that they knew and loved from before. They realize they've been gone for almost a year this time, and see that things have changed. When they finally reach Marcello, it's a sweet homecoming. Shortly after, however, Gabi, Lia, and family decided to enter into a treacherous situation in order to rescue Marcello's brother. Gabi is taken and transported to Rome. Will Marcello and her family find her before she is forced to marry another man? good!

The only thing I don't like about it is the lack of a clear Gospel presentation. I know a lot of readers don't like a lot of "preachy" stuff in their books, but I do! I want the characters to understand their need for Christ. It just seems to me like there's a mixture of different religious ideas in these books and it's not really clear where some of the characters stand by the end. I was hoping for more than that. The tension, romance, and action factors are all present and done wonderfully. Even with the lack of spiritual clarity, I still enjoyed the books tremendously. There was never a dull moment!

Highland Blessings by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Highland Blessings is the story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise he made to his dying father. Bryce MacPhearson, a highland warrior, kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. While Akira's strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment when he forces her to wed him, hoping to end a half-century-old feud between their clans. While Akira begins to forgive, and Bryce learns to trust, a series of murders leaves a trail of unanswered questions, confusion, and a legacy of hate that once again rises between their families. Clearly, a traitor is in their midst. Now the one man Akira loves no longer trusts her, and her own life is in danger. Can Bryce look beyond his pain and seek the truth? Will Akira discover the threat against her before it s too late? How will God turn a simple promise into bountiful Highland blessings? (taken from

I loved this story and I loved the setting. I don't know why, but there's something about the highlands that is pretty appealing. There was action, romance, tension, surprises...all things that are good in a story. I would definitely recommend it.

Forevermore by Cathy Marie Hake

Like a dandelion in the wind, Hope Ladley blows from one farm to the next, helping cook for the field hands during the harvest. Illiterate and often twisting cliches and Bible verses into mind-boggling observations, Hope leaves widower Jakob Stauffer baffled by her unconventional ways. But her sunny disposition and unstinting love make changes of a different kind around the place. His little daughter and the pregnant sister he's shielding from an abusive husband adore Hope, and things are getting accomplished even if Hope's methods are unique. Then Jakob's brother-in-law shows up and threatens the newfound peace and happiness of the farm. With Jakob's future uncertain and his heart tangled, can the farmer convince Hope to take root and remain as his wife? (taken from

I have yet to read a Cathy Marie Hake book that I didn't enjoy! This book is no exception! At first I wondered if I could like Hope's character...her way of speaking and ways were a little different. But as the book went on, I grew to love her! Let's be honest, a lot of Christian romance is kind of predictable. It's what the author does with the story, the twists and turns a story takes, that makes it appealing. This book is appealing! I really wasn't sure what the outcome of this story would be and that made it great. I did pay for this one...99 cents! Totally worth it!

Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes

By virtue of her profession as a midwife, Tabitha Eckles is the keeper of many secrets: the names of fathers of illegitimate children, the level of love and harmony within many a marriage, and now the identity of a man who may have caused his wife's death. Dominick Cherrett is a man with his own secret to keep: namely, what he, a British nobleman, is doing on American soil working as a bondsman in the home of Mayor Kendall, a Southern gentleman with his eye on a higher office.

By chance one morning before the dawn has broken, Tabitha and Dominick cross paths on a misty beachhead, leading them on a twisted path through kidnappings, death threats, public disgrace, and . . . love? Can Tabitha trust Dominick? What might he be hiding? And can either of them find true love in a world that seems set against them? (taken from

This is the first book written by Laurie Alice Eakes that I've read and I really enjoyed it. I'd like to read more of her midwife's series. This story was filled with questions that I really wanted to read on to have the answers! The romantic tension was great. I wanted the hero/heroine to be together, but I didn't see how they could be. That definitely made things interesting. The early American setting was one that I also enjoyed.

There have been a few other books that I've enjoyed lately which include:

When All My Dreams Come True by Janelle Mowery--a story set in the wild west. Bobbie McIntyre gets a job working at Jace Kincaid's ranch. Jace is surprised to see a woman ride up for work instead of a man. He soon sees that Bobbie is a hard worker and good ranch hand...but will she be able to show her femine side as well as help Jace find who is trying to sabotage his ranch? I love westerns : ).

No Place for a Lady by Maggie Brendan--another western book set in Colorado. Our heroine, Crystal, is from Georgia, leaving behind hardship to visit her Aunt Kate's Colorado ranch. We're taken on a journey of friendship, tragedy, and even romance. I really enjoyed Crystal's spunky, determined character!

And right now I'm reading Jane Eyre...for about the third time. I love it. The movie versions are great, but through the book you see the faith of Jane, the intensity of the love she and Rochester had for one another, and her inner thoughts as the story is told from Jane's perspective. I think I'm going to go back and watch the movie again after I read it as I'll be seeing it through different eyes.

Books I hope to read soon:

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander....I love this author! Not just for her brilliant writing, but also for her sweet spirit that she pours out through her blogs and facebook. This book begins a new series for her. I've loved her books set in the west...this one is set in the south. I look forward to seeing what she does with a new setting. I've signed up to receive this one to review through Bethany House...but I'm still waiting to get it! I hope it comes soon!

The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson....I love this author, too! Melanie and I have been able to communicate a lot over the course of this year and she is so neat! A very gifted writer as well. I read her first book, The Healer's Apprentice, earlier this year and it was great. Even though it is categorized as a Young Adult book, I still thoroughly enjoyed it as an adult. Her new book, a take on the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, looks wonderful! I'm thinking... Christmas gift to me! : )

If you have any good recommendations, let me know! I've still got several more freebies on my Kindle that I haven't read yet. I'm excited about that! : ) The site Inspired Reads has some great posts on Kindle freebies and reduced Christian fiction books. You can find it on facebook or (I believe) at

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Homeschooling fun!

About a week and a half ago our homeschool group took a field trip to a place called Troupcorn in a nearby town. It was a little overcast, but the weather was perfect! We started off with a hay ride to the main area.

Perfect for kids...a giant dirt pile.

There was also a corn maze...the first one I've ever been in! Here are two of the precious little girls that were with us. Both have been adopted from China just this year! Praise the Lord for the gift of adoption!

My friend watched the two girls as I kept up with Isaac.

Too can barely see Sophie's little face!

There was also a giant inflated pillow that the kids could jump on. They LOVED this! My friend, Wendy (Bethany's Mom), even got on there with them!

And lastly, a giant box filled with hard corn kernals. Another favorite! I liked it, too. It was like the corn version of a giant sandbox...and MUCH cleaner! It was hard to get the kids out of here so we could head back.

I didn't get a picture of the port-o-potty...a first for Sophie. It was my first time having to take a child into one of those things. Honestly, I think I would rather go in the woods. It was rough. Especially after we had to wait in line to go after a big group of little kids went. Yikes! Sophie didn't seem to mind, though. I'll spare you the other gross details : ). I'm sure you get the picture.

I'm still lovin' doing things like this with our homeschool group. Such a great group of parents and kids. I'm looking forward to our next one!

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm getting...pinterested : )

A month or two ago my sister called me up and was telling me about this cool site that she found out about and wanted to invite me to be a part of it. She told me it could get addictive. My first thought was...ok...I don't need to spend any more time on the internet. I'm already blogging, facebooking, and following several author blogs that I like to read and comment on. So it sat on the backburner for a while.

Fast-forward. This past weekend my sister and I were both at my Mom and Dad's house and she asked me if I had joined yet. I told her about my holding out, so she pulled up her page and showed me some of the cool ideas she had found through it. Not only that, but I'd also seen other friends on facebook commenting about how pinterest had helped them organize, etc. Basically, I have caved. I have now joined "pinterest" and I am hooked. It's right up my alley. Basically you have a page with your "boards" on it. Your boards are kind of like a virtual cork board. You label your boards into categories. You can find pictures, recipes, ideas, etc. on other people's boards or the internet and "pin" those pictures to your boards. I am already excited about the fun little projects I've learned about. Things like a gingerbread nativity at Christmas instead of a gingerbread house, using a bleach pen to decorate t-shirts, kid's room decorating ideas...and the list goes on. Just talking about it makes me want to get on there and look for some more cool stuff to put on my I'm pitiful!

If you dare look it up, the site is If you need an invite, let me know. : )

On a side note, I was very excited today to see my Mom's caramel cake recipe that I posted a week or so ago on Tamera Alexander's blog! How cool is that!? I had that fun, cheesy grin on my face when I saw it. I knew Tamera was going to make it sometime and post about it so I was really excited to see the results! Tamera Alexander is an award-winning author of Christian fiction. I've never met her in person, but I have been following her blog for a while now and I think she is a really neat lady. She really takes a personal interest in those of us who read her books and comment on her blogs. I hope I can meet her one day!

God bless~Stacey

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Time together is a must!

We don't get to do this very often, but our anniversary is a great time to get away for at least a night. Thursday we headed out to Macon and spent the night at my parent's house. The next morning we headed out on a little getaway...just the two of us! We headed up to Toccoa Falls, GA and decided to drive around the college campus there. There is a beautiful waterfall along with nice little hills covered with fall foliage. The scenery was great...the company was even greater. Time together just to talk, catch up on life, read (I got to read Torrent by Lisa Bergren!), and relax is so essential to married life. One of the best times for us to talk is in the car. The kids are occupied (if they're with us) and it seems like we're a lot less distracted. Even though we did our side trip to Toccoa, we really tried to keep our agenda to a minimum so we could get some much needed relaxation.

We spent the night in Lavonia, GA, which was about an hour away from Athens. Joe did a summer internship there several years ago and we were able to ride by the church he worked at. We also had a great meal at a little restaurant downtown. So fun! The next day we had tickets to the UGA game. Joe is a HUGE dawgs fan...and it's growing on me : ). I was looking forward to the game, though. We have been twice before and had a lot of fun. The game started at 12:30pm and it was definitely chilly outside. Being among lots of college kids was interesting. I realized...quickly...that I'm no longer up on the fashion trends. This is what I

About 80% (I'm guessing here, but really) of the girls I saw at the game had boots on. All different kinds of boots.

Not only were they wearing boots...but many of them were in short skirts or dresses with tights and their boots. I don't know how they did it. I was pretty cold in jeans and a sweater...I can't imagine how they were warm. Then I had to think back to my college days and how I wanted to wear what was cool...but...I think I mostly just wanted to stay warm. I think I'd be one of those jean girls with the boots. Anyway...I just had to share this little trend with all of you. I hope I didn't look too weird at the game snapping pictures of people's feet : ).

The game. There's just something about being in a stadium filled with fans who are totally geared up for their team. It was the perfect day, too. Not too cold in the stands with all the people, the sun was behind us, and even though we were pretty high up in the stands we had a great view. Plus Georgia really whooped up on New Mexico State. We left after the third quarter...

Good times!

And to top it off, we stopped in a little town called Madison on the way home. We ate at a great restaurant called The Chop House, which is where we like to stop when we're nearby. Then...the best part...we go by this nice little fudge shop. They have really good fudge-covered apples! Yum! I can't eat it all so Joe and I shared it...and still had some left over.

Joe and I keep talking about how much fun we had and how much we enjoyed our getaway. Time something we definitely recommend to other couples. Even if you can't splurge and do all that we did (we don't get to do that very often!), find ways to get away on a budget. It's totally worth it!

God bless~Stacey