thirteenth day of christmas: life and death

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i attended a memorial service. not exactly something you expect to do less than two weeks before christmas. but my childhood friend’s grandpa passed away and i wanted to be there for her.

i found myself thinking about life and death during the service. here we are getting ready to celebrate the birth of our savior and instead we are mourning the death of a loved one. yet as the service progressed, it was easy to see that this wasn’t a death to be mourned but instead a life to be remembered. everyone that shared spoke about a man that loved the Lord and shared his faith with others.

this is a poem originally written by henry wadsworth longfellow and a song by casting crowns. i really like the melody. but driving home from the memorial service, i was actually listening to the words and struck by the simple beauty.

sometimes i start thinking there is no peace on earth, nor will there ever be. that’s what heaven is for. but then i realize that there can be peace on earth…as a believer i have peace that is just a little glimpse of the peace in heaven that is to come.

i don’t know what surrounds you this holiday season but i would encourage you to rest in the peace of a Savior sent to earth to grow up and die on a cross for you and me so that we might be in relationship with Him once again!

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men
And the bells are ringing
Like a choir they're singing
In my heart I hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth good will to men
But the bells are ringing
Like a choir singing
Does anybody hear them?
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they're ringing
Like a choir they're singing
And with our hearts we'll hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they're ringing?
The life the angels singing
Open up your heart and hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, Peace on earth
Peace on earth, Good will to men

the twelfth day of christmas: a christmas party

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we had a christmas party. it was my parents, sisters, husband and children + aaron, cacey, spencer and emma. it was perfect. mom cooked a crockpot ham and although i don’t love ham, this ham was pretty tasty. we watch a michael buble christmas on nbc (thank you, dvr). one of the guest was justin beiber. i gotta say, that kid has a good voice. and i had no idea i liked michael buble’s singing so much, but it was awesome. the kids were glued to the tv and at times couldn’t contain themselves and would leap up and start dancing. it also helped that oscar the grouch made a guest appearance!

mercy loving on her auntie cacey

silver bells + grammie


the eleventh day of christmas

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we baked.

sarah came to visit so we did some cooking. we made peanut krackle, chocolate peanut butter balls, caramel cookies, fudge and cranberry bliss bars. it wasn’t all perfect but is mostly tasted good. the fudge flopped…for the record, if you get to walmart and have forgotten your tried and tested fudge recipe, don’t google and pick a random yet similar recipe. stick with tried and true. the caramel cookies were a success, in both the gluten-filled and gluten-free version. the chocolate peanut butter balls were delish. the peanut krackle was of course a little bite of heaven. but the cranberry bliss bars…well, my husband asked me to marry him all over again. whew, i was worried.

this is a recipe for them. they are supposed to mimic starbucks cranberry bliss bars. christian thinks they are better.

preheat over to 350 degrees. use a kitchen aid or something similar, because this is thick dough! mix 1 c. butter, 1 1/2 c. brown sugar, 2 eggs and 2 t. vanilla until smooth and creamy. add 2 1/2 c. flour, 1 1/2 t. baking powder and 1 t. salt and keep mixing until it is thick and sticky. if you use gluten free all-purpose flour (red mill) like i did, you might want to get a little nervous and add an extra egg to make sure everything sticks together. lastly mix in one bag of white chocolate chips, 1 1/2 c. dried cranberries, the zest of one orange and 1 c. chopped pecans. whew. butter a 9×13 really, really well and spread your cookie mix into it. bake. i wish i could tell you how long. i think i set the timer for 20 minutes + 5 minutes + 2 minutes, but i could be wrong. yep, this is how i bake.

keep using your kitchen aid (but do wash it first). mix 1/2 c. butter with 1 8oz. cream cheese, 1 c. powdered sugar, 2 t. vanilla and the zest of one more orange (but save a pinch for garnish). oh yeah, the butter and cream cheese should be softened some. mix into a creamy, smooth frosting.

after your cookie has lightly browned (clean toothpick test) and thoroughly cooled, spread the frosting on top. on top of that sprinkle your saved orange zest, 1/3 c dried cranberries and if you want, drizzle a little melted chocolate. it really turns out beautiful. i’m not really sure who to credit. i need to look into it more.

i would like to say i took a picture. but around this time, i realized i had about two minutes to get the kids dressed, ready and out the door to meet cacey in colfax for santa pictures with cousins. sad to say, by the time i thought about taking a picture, it was already over half gone. i do plan on making it one more time and hopefully with take a picture this time.

here is a good picture. my little helped who really didn’t help much. she did taste everything in sight and currently has scarily strong cravings for sugar right now.

oh holidays.

the tenth day of christmas

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hmmmm, a glitch in the twenty-five days of christmas. oh well, here are days ten, eleven and twelve all in a row!

finally, a finish to the puzzle craft. if you remember from a few days ago…on thursday we took a bunch of missing puzzle pieces and painted them. after they dried, we ended up covering them in sparkly glue-paint also. who doesn’t love sparkles?

after it the pieces are dry, you cut a frame from the side of a cereal box. you could use other cardboard, but this really is the ultimate recycling craft. oh and this is a kix box, in case you were wondering.

paint the frame and then glue puzzle pieces all over it. on the back tape a photo.

lastly glue a piece of construction paper on the back, inscribe it for a special someone and glue a ribbon to hang it by. i think they turned out pretty cute!

off to the post office tomorrow!

the ninth day of christmas: a devotional

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i know, i know….today is supposed to be part two of the puzzle craft. but this morning i read this devotional by spurgeon and wanted to share it instead. have no fear, the craft will be finished tomorrow!

taken from blue letter bible

The Infinite Became An Infant

“The Lord Jesus Christ was rich. We all believe that, though none of us can truly speak it forth. Oh, how surprised angels were, when they were first informed that Jesus Christ, the Prince of Light and Majesty, intended to shroud himself in clay and become a babe, and live and die!

We know not how it was first mentioned to the angels, but when the rumor first began to get afloat among the sacred hosts, you may imagine what strange wonderment there was. What! Was it true that He whose crown was all bedight with stars, would lay that crown aside?

What! Was it certain that He about whose shoulders was cast the purple of the universe, would become a man dressed in a peasants garment? Could it be true that He who was everlasting and immortal would one day be nailed to a cross? Oh! How their wonderment increased!

They desired to look into it. And when He descended from on high, they followed Him; for Jesus was ‘seen of angels,’ and seen in a special sense, for they looked upon Him in rapturous amazement, wondering what it all could mean. ‘He for our sakes became poor.’

Do you see Him as on that day of heaven’s eclipse when He did ungird His majesty? Oh, can ye conceive the yet increasing wonder of the heavenly hosts when the deed was actually done, when they saw the tiara taken off, when they saw Him unbind His girdle of stars, and cast away His sandals of gold?

Can ye conceive it, when He said to them, ‘I do not disdain the womb of the virgin. I am going down to earth to become a man’? Can ye picture them as they declared they would follow Him! Yes, they followed Him as near as the world would permit them.

And when they came to earth they began to sing, ‘Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.’ Nor would they go away till they had made the shepherds wonder, and till heaven had hung out new stars in honor of the new-born King.

And now wonder, ye angels, the Infinite has become an infant. He, upon whose shoulders the universe doth hang, hangs at His mothers breast. He who created all things, and bears up the pillars of creation, hath now become so weak that He must be carried by a woman!

And oh, wonder, ye that knew Him in His riches, whilst ye admire His poverty! Where sleeps the new-born King? Had He the best room in Caesar’s palace? Hath a cradle of gold been prepared for Him, and pillows of down, on which to rest His head?

No. Where the ox fed, in the dilapidated stable, in the manger, there the Saviour lies, swathed in the swaddling bands of the children of poverty!”

–Charles Spurgeon, “The Condescension of Christ”

blue letter bible also has this compilation of advent resources worth reading!

the eighth day of christmas: crafts

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we are doing crafts around here!

last year i collect twelve kids crafts and put them in a binder. i gave a copy to my sister-in-law, cacey. i titled it, “twelve days of christmas crafts.” cacey has done a few with spencer, emma and addy when she was watching addy for me.

finger puppets:

advent wreath + one candle, hope:

addy has also been doing a lot of coloring. we like coloring around here:

today, we watched spencer and emma and i decided to do one of the crafts from the binder. it is an awesome craft to use up puzzles that are missing pieces. this is just part one. part two will come tomorrow!

paint the cardboard sides of random puzzle pieces:

let the pieces dry:

check back tomorrow for the rest of the craft!

the seventh day of christmas

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i will be honest. today was a challenging day. i don’t know why. maybe it had something to do with the girls waking up early. and grumpy. maybe it had something to do with me not feeling good and my mouth hurting (thank you dental work). maybe it just has something to do with it being forty days until we move. i find myself on a roller coaster of emotions. one minute i am excited about moving. the next minute i find tears streaming down my face. how can something be so exciting and yet so heartbreaking all at once?

my sister-in-law, cacey invited christian and i to go with them to a christmas party. i almost changed my mind this afternoon. mercy was fussy and clingy and hadn’t napped well at all. addy was being naughty above all else. i had pretty much decided to cancel and then i realized that i just needed to buck up and go. i’m pretty sure i will have many more days of naughty children.

so i went and i was blessed. i hung out with a bunch of awesome people…old friends and new friends. i enjoyed food, games and fellowship. i celebrated the holidays and had a great time.

that is what today, the seventh day of christmas is about.

take time.

i don’t know what you are up to this holiday season. maybe it’s fun. maybe it’s stressful. maybe it’s sad. i am a mixture of all three. but i want to enjoy the next forty days. i don’t want to say my (emotional) goodbyes too soon. i want to take the time to enjoy the holidays with my friends and my family. i want to be where i am fully committed to the moment.

here are a few pictures of the christmas tree at the home of the christmas party. i love looking at other people’s christmas decorations. so unique to each person.

matthew 1:23
behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.”

the sixth day of christmas: a paper chain

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every kid loves a paper chain. they are the perfect visual representation of time. last week, i attended a ladies christmas brunch and got this idea for a paper chain with a twist.

the idea is to print scriptures out (mine are really simple, toddler approved) and then cut them into strips of paper and make a chain…one link for every day left until christmas. (the adorable christmas blocks spell “believe” and are from costco.)

every day we take off a link, cut out the scripture and glue it on to a piece of construction paper. then i print a coloring sheet out (i google images) that goes with the scripture. as addy and i color the picture, we talk about the scripture.

we hang them on the way. so the chain gets smaller and the scriptures on the wall grow!

in other news, this christmas baby keeps up on our toes. three weeks into crawling, this stinking kid is fast! she now crawls after me as i walk away from her.

she grabs my pant legs and tries to pull herself up.

she gives me this adorable look…

and this adorable look!

oh and this one is pretty good too. this is her “talking” to me.

by the way…life isn’t always perfect in the burtt home. this is a three year old melt down…this picture is “extreme” disappointment, in case you can’t tell!

and this, well yeah this is mercy eating my shoe. i told you she is fast.

p.s. these are the scriptures the ladies’ brunch suggested:
proverbs 23:11
psalm 9:1
colossians 3:13
james 5:16
1 corinthians 16:14
romans 12:11
colossians 2:8
colossians 4:5
ephesians 4:29
thessalonians 5:16
philippians 4:16
1 thessalonians 5:11
1 thessalonians 5:15
philippians 4:18
ephesians 5:10
philippians 4:6
i john 3:18
1 thessalonians 5:18
philippians 2:4
psalm 105:3
philippians 4:5
john 14:15
ephesians 4:32
galatians 6:9

the fifth day of christmas

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Christian and I were blessed to go away for the evening/day…without kids! It was made possible with the help of Grammie, Pops, Auntie Dora and Auntie Cacey. Yay for family! Grammie sent me this adorable picture of a certain little Santa. If you don’t have a small, fake Christmas tree…you need one! There is nothing better than decorating a mini tree with unbreakable kid ornaments. Last year we set it right in front of the big tree and it helped Addy (who was two) not touch the big tree. This year Addy gets to have it up in her bedroom instead and yes she is very proud of it!

the fourth day of christmas

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I found this website, called Why Christmas. As far as I can tell, I really like it. I like it for the following reasons:

1. I actually think it is an outreach website, telling the true stories behind Christmas and Christ’s birth. However, my disclaimer is that I just recently found this website and have only read a few of the pages and links.
2. My family is multicultural and we represent many different holiday traditions.
3. We are moving overseas next month, soon to be learning new traditions.

All that to say, here are a few of the fun tidbits I found on this website.

Christmas in Romania

In Romania, Christmas and mid-winter celebrations last from 20th December to 7th January. The 20th is when people in Romania celebrate St. Ignatius’s Day. It is traditional that if the family keep pigs, one is killed on this day. The meat from the pig is used in the Christmas meals.

The Christmas celebrations really begin on Christmas Eve, 24th, when it’s time to decorate the Christmas Tree. This is done in the evening of Christmas Eve. In Romanian Christmas Eve is called ‘Ajunul Craciunului’.

Carol singing (known as ‘Colindatul’) is also a very popular part of Christmas in Romania. On Christmas Eve children go out carol singing from house to house performing to the adults in the houses. They normally dance as well. The children get sweets, fruit, traditional cakes called ‘cozonaci’ and sometimes money for singing well. Adults go carol singing on Christmas Day evening and night.

A traditional Romanian Carol is the ‘Star Carol’. The star is on a pole and made of colored paper, often decorated with tinsel, silver foil and sometimes bells. In the middle of the star is a picture of baby Jesus or a nativity scene. Carol singers take the star with them when they go carol singing. The words of the Star Carol are:
“The star has appeared on high,
Like a big secret in the sky,
The star is bright,
May all your wishes turn out right.”

Other popular carols to sing include ‘Oh, What Wondrous Tidings’ (‘O, ce veste minunata’) and ‘Three Wise Men coming from the East’ (‘Trei Crai de la rasarit’).

In many parts of Romania, it’s also traditional that someone dresses up as a goat, with a multicolored mask, and goes round with the carol singers. The goat is known as the ‘Capra’ and it jumps and dances around getting up to lots of mischief!

Another Christmas Eve tradition is a drumming band or ‘dubasi’. This is normally made up of un married-men. A band can up to 50 or 60 men in it! As well as the drums there’s often a saxophone and violin. The band will practice for about a month before Christmas so they are really good! The go round the streets and are given presents.

In Romanian, Merry Christmas is ‘Crặciun Fericit’. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.

In Romania Santa Claus is known as ‘Moş Crăciun’ (Old Man Christmas), ‘Moş Nicolae’ (Old Man Nicholas) & ‘Moş Gerilă’ (Old Man Frost).

Traditional Romanian Christmas foods include Roast Gammon and Pork Chops (made from the killed pig!), ‘Ciorba de perisoare’ which is a slightly sour vegetable soup made with fermented bran and pork meatballs; ‘Sarmale’ cabbage leaves stuffed with ground pork and served with polenta; ‘Cozonac’ a rich fruit bread; Romanian doughnuts called ‘gogosi’ and cheesecakes.

New Years Eve is also an important celebration in Romania. It’s sometimes called Little Christmas. Traditionally a small, decorated plough called a ‘Plugusorul’ is paraded through the streets on New Years Eve. It is meant to help have good crops for the following year.

On New Years Day, children wish people a Happy New Year while carrying around a special bouquet called a ‘Sorcova’. Traditionally, the Sorcova was made of twigs from one or more fruit trees like apple, pear, cherry or plum. They’re put into water in a warm place on 30th November, so they hopefully come into leave and blossom on New Years Eve! Nowadays often a single twig of an apple or pear tree is used and it’s decorated with flowers made from colored paper.

Why is Christmas Day on the 25th of December?

The Christmas Story

South African Lekker Pudding

Enjoy looking around this website and let me know what other fun things you discover!

the third day of christmas

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we decorated the tree tonight. finally. we cut it down last monday and then put it up on tuesday. i believe we put lights on it on wednesday and thursday. i guess you could say it was a process. the tree alone is beautiful…the ornaments just add to the beauty.

addy has four new princess ornaments that daddy bought her…this is rapunzel (aka tangled):

this is a snowflake that one of my grandma bell’s friends made me when i was little. my brother aaron has the matching blue snowflake ornament. when we were little, my mom unwrapped all the ornaments and gave them to us to place on the tree. i remember each year waiting in excitement for my purple snowflake to be unwrapped.

i found this ornament last year after christmas. my mom had a chatty cathy doll that i remember playing with.

this is my baby ornament. if you look closely, it says “1981.” it was stepped on a few years back and painstakingly glued back together. ah, memories!

have you put up your tree yet? do you have favorite, special or new ornaments?

the second day of christmas

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advent means come. the idea…preparing for the Savior’s birth. this post isn’t for debating. i have seen christians be as materialistic as the world and i have seen christians absolutely refuse to participate in anything chritmas. i don’t want to be either. i want to start teaching my children now the gift of giving…the reason for the season…about the birth of their Savior. here is a really cool website i found: a holy experience. it actually starts november 29th, but don’t worry because you can do a little catch up! this is their advent, a daily reading:

November 29

It is Advent. Come

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 11:1-2 (NIV)

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD

One bite of a fruit right there in the Garden and our tree of life fell.

Our hopes all crashed to the earth and the whole planet groaned and we’ve lived our whole
lives like stumps. Cut off from God.

And then out of our fallenness, out of our cut-down tree, springs this singular fragile shoot.
It’s the only hope we’ve got.

Out of a family line of obscurity, poverty and small account, comes a King.  God is in the
business of clothing the neglected and unexpected in royal robes.

And out of the last and forgotten son of Jesse, comes forth one tender branch that will grow
into a crown of thorns…  a rugged cross….  our ladder back to God. Jesus will go to
impossible lengths to rescue us.

It’s out of the stump of that fallen tree, watered with the living waters that flow from His
grace, that a twig sprouts that will be the sceptre that defeats sin… and lets us grow again.

Today we begin Advent. Today we begin the season of waiting… yearning.  Today we can
feel it coming already – this new life stirring.

Lord God, let there come forth out of this fallen tree New Life, and cause me to see it
today – new growth in people all around me, even in the dead of winter.

Unwrapping more of His love in the world:  Plant wheat or grass seeds
today for every act of love and kindness you do today. Continue planting seeds for
kindnesses throughout the Jesse Tree Journey. Keep watering the sprouts until Christmas
Eve. You’re growing straw for the manger of the coming King! Love and New Life are coming!


and a corresponding picture to cut, make into an ornament and hang on a jesse tree. ours is a beautiful manzanita branch that my mom made for a thanksgiving tree. this picture is from the author’s website:

your kids might be a little young but they will still learn something. if you decide to do this advent, let me know…i’d love to see pictures!