Friday, December 30, 2011

Baking bread with Boyo

How I love baking bread. I used to do it all the time when my oldest 3 were my small ones and my small ones were not but a hidden twinkle in God's eye. When those dreams started becoming realities...well, I just stopped doing it. Between being pregnant and changing diapers, chasing toddlers and trying to keep up with everything else, home made bread just seemed something I didn't NEED to be spending my time on.

I have learned throughout all of the changes over the last year that what I "need" isn't always as cut and dried as I once thought it was. I have learned (with much help from both God and Big daddy) that, I am valuable on a different level than I ever even considered before. I have learned that, as a human being, it is ok for me to do things for others that don't require sacrifice on my part; things that I enjoy even. I have learned that it is not selfish to do something just because it makes me happy to do it. That's a HUGE difference in my mindset. ALOT of walls had to be broken down in my psyche to get that one little lesson through to my heart.

Thank God He doesn't give up on tough cases!!

That being said, I love to cook and bake. Bread especially gives me a kind of satisfaction when it is done that I don't get from anything else. I don't know if it just that I am doing something for my family that provides more than just enjoyment, but actual sustenance. I don't even know if it is that deep. It may just be that it's fun  :) Regardless, I love making bread.

Over the past 2 weeks I have had the awesome opportunity to help my eldest daughter, via FaceBook and text messaging, perfect her own bread making adventures. She did the work, I only provided pointers from experience, but it felt so good to do so. Anything that connects me to her feels good. Anything we can share with us being so far apart blesses my heart in a huge way. 

I have also had the opportunity to actually teach my oldest son how to make bread. It was fun! He is fun in general, but doing this, seeing his appreciation for the work that goes into it and the joy on his face when the dough rose double like it was meant to, when the loaves went into the oven and when he finally got to look at the finished product cooling on the was indescribable :) I loved it, He loved it. And after 6 fresh loaves and a dozen rolls (which we had with some ham and bean soup for lunch) everyone is still ecstatic about his newly developed skill!

This is his first loaf of sweet potato bread. Yay Boyo!!

Rolls with soup, bread with dinner, toast with pumpkin spice cream's been a wonderful experience to share this heartfelt satisfaction with my kids. I'm planning on making bread a regular thing in my life again this year. I have some recipes of my own that I want to hone and perfect.

When the 8th Square opens, whenever that dream comes true, I am sure bread will be a big part of our unique and eclectic menu.

Big Daddy said I need to invent a way to mass produce with the same thanks. I will stick to family and friends.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Letters

Do you do Christmas family letters? Are they funny, interesting, serious? Is there one person in your circle who's letter you look forward to getting every year?

For us it was my Uncle Charlie's "Dear diverse Kith and Kin" letter. I think it was the thing mentioned the most at his wake, how much we would all miss his yearly missives.

I have written a Christmas letter or two..but they never go out..I'm a flake.

This year, my cousin Bob (Hi Bob!) inspired a simple yet way longer than I anticipated Christmas letter. I have to have Big Daddy read it for approval (and editing because I ALWAYS make silly mistakes) and then, since I already have the Christmas cards AND this years Christmas ornament (I make a themed one every year) I think I might actually get them all out...and maybe even BEFORE Christmas. Go me! lol

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Martyrs and the persecuted

Advent is a time to refocus, to anticipate more than just presents, but the opportunity to better know the Babe who offers so much with such perfect simplicity. As a family we will begin this journey solemnly, remembering those who have given everything for their unyielding love of Christ just as He gave everything out of His unwavering love for us.

"A prison cell in which one waits, hopes...and is completely dependant upon the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer was an evangelist, a forward thinking Christian, a spy and member of the German resistance against the Nazi regime. He studied In Rome, Berlin and New York. He believed in a break from traditional religion which he called the "garment" of faith to a more personal relationship with Christ. That Heaven and Earth had been reconciled in the person or Christ and that revelation, through the Spirit, superseded religion. He was the sole voice for the church that was raised against the persecution of the Jew's stating that the church must not simply "bandage the victims under the wheel, but jam the spoke in the wheel itself."

Bonhoeffer was eventually arrested. He was imprisoned from April 6th 1943 - April 4th 1945. During that time he continued his work as an evangelist and secretly ministered to his fellow prisoners and guards as well as, through the favor his character and faith had garnered him, was able to send letters of Christian support and encouragement from the prison to those on the outside still fighting the good fight.

On April 8th he was condemned to death at Flossenburg concentration camp. He was executed on April 9th 1945, just 2 weeks before U.S. soldiers from the 90th and 97th Infantry divisions liberated the camp. His life is a testimony to the kind of life Christ desires for us all; one that is ever reaching towards Him, ever waiting on Him, ever ready to be with Him. When Bonhoeffer was taken for trial, directly after he preached his last Sunday service at the camp he was heard to say "This is the end — for me the beginning of life."

On our Advent journey, let us remember that this Gospel, this Truth, this Christ which we serve in faith, for some have died, and in so dying have claimed their gift of eternal life. Tonight we honor their completed race, their life, their faith as we look with anticipation towards the glorious future that God has planned for us through the opening of the prison doors of death and the grave and the freedom of our souls to dwell eternally with Him.

"A prison cell in which one waits, hopes...and is completely dependant upon the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Not to anticipate is already to moan" Leonardo DiVinci

In the Spirit by which Bonhoeffer submitted his life, let us become compassionately involved in the lives of those who still suffer religious persecution as the Jews of his time. Torture, imprisonment and death are still common in many places. Even if you cannot do everything, everyone can do something.

People may excite in themselves a glow of compassion, not by toasting their feet at the fire, and saying: “Lord, teach me compassion,” but by going and seeking an object that requires compassion.Henry Ward Beecher

At the Voice of the Martyrs there are many ideas and opportunities for all of us to do SOMETHING to help those who still suffer for their faith. As we anticipate the coming Christ child lets participate in His ministry of great compassion.

Advent snowflakes

The Awesomest thing about snowflakes is that no two are exactly alike. They all form independently. They are made of the same stuff, but they don't all come out the same way. It's like that with our Christianity. We all have the same faith in the same Savior, Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:4-6

New King James Version (NKJV)

4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you[a] all.

We all believe some basic truths, many of which are laid out in the Nicene creed.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

But even though we are all begun the same way when we enter into this new birth as a child of God, we don't always have the same understandings, the same passions, the same struggles. We are unique.

Our past experiences, our present circumstances and our future perceptions along with a whole gaggle of other peripherals become the clay with which the Spirit begins to form our lives. Who we are in Christ, who we are becoming, although one in the Spirit with all believers, is a unique and marvelous creation, precious to God, just as every tiny little snowflake has a wondrous beauty all it's own, crafted perfectly to flow and fit into this present time.

As Christians we all look forward to the celebration of our Saviors birth. Not just because we love Him and are glad He is alive, but also because we recognize how intimate a love His must be for His majesty to desire so greatly to dwell among us; His imperfect, unfaithful, often flawed humanity, that He would come, knowing what He would suffer at our hands. Oh what manner of love the Father has given unto us!

And now for some neeto-spedeeto snowflake ideas :)

Retro Ornaments

From FamilyFun Magazine

This is a fabulous idea! I love recycled ornaments, love interesting patterns and love that with a little spray glitter and pre planning this can be a perfect snowflake! :) If you paint the tubes ahead of time, inside and out then when they are all assembled use the glitter spray, wowzers! Very cool indeed :)
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These simple yet sophisticated decorations are made from cardboard tubes and pipe cleaners. Paint the outsides of the tubes before cutting them, if desired, or keep them unpainted for a natural look.

  • Cardboard tubes
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Thread or string
  1. For each ornament, flatten a 7 1/2-inch length of cardboard tube. Mark and cut it into 3/4-inch-wide rings; you'll need 10 for this project.
  2. On each flattened ring, mark dots 3/4 inches in from each folded edge. With a hole punch, make holes at the dots.
  3. Starting with the inner circle, string the rings onto a pipe cleaner. For the outer circle, twist two pipe cleaners together to make a double-long piece, then thread it through the outer holes in the cardboard rings. Twist the ends together and trim the excess. Hang with thread or string.

I like this one too :)
DLTK-Kids always has great simple stuff to do. One of the suggestions here was to use this craft for Christmas cards that can be used as gifts as well. Not a bad Idea. After the snowflake is done you could take a festive marker (a nice silver or gold one from the craft store) and write a short message right on the snowflake :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm so

Here's the afore mentioned recap...Last week was awesome and simple.  There was the awesome Community Center dinner...such fun, warms the heart. We had 2 days of school then 5 days together with the kids. Fabulous!

The Old Firehouse Community Center is a wonderful ministry started by a terrific couple, I believe, in the early 90's maybe the late 80's even.

They teach Martial Arts to kids from all over for just the most nominal fee, wrap and donate hundreds of presents to community families in need, Gather and donate school supply stuffed back packs every year, host free computer classes and Bible studies AND they put on this awesome to do every year. (the pictures are all of their graduated Black Belts)

It's a time for those who have to come and share and those who don't to come and get what they need. It's family, It's fun, it's being real with each other and the community. It's awesome :) (Our fabulous Pastor getting his grub on :)

Our Family time was spent decorating the tree and just hanging out. I loved it. My kids are such awesome company!
Moose was really groovin on the finished product
Boyo was, of course, responsible for the lights :)

All of the kids get in on the fun. 

Even our resident "Humbug" 
(every family has one.
 When I was growing up it was my Moms Brother,
Uncle John)
Got into the spirit and had some fun :)

This is one of those times where, even my shy Tabby Cat,
 Hammed it up for the camera

I even shared camera power with the less fortunate here and there.
A TRULY selfless and charitable act ;)
(These are better than the ones Big Daddy took
when I bent over to get the bottom of the tree decorated..UG!
My hind quarters strongly resemble those of a horse! lol)

Big Daddy didn't get to decorate with us..He was exhausted.
The whole Black Friday thing puts a bee in my bonnet,
so I won't get into it.
Suffice to say, he works retail (only another 5 weeks!)
Poor guy :(

Sunday we had our Thanks Giving Dinner then rehearsed for the Christmas Play. I need to take food pics..I know, everyone seems to love food pics. But I only have my little Rumor camera phone...I do what I can ;)
D.J. Nick Tunez,  J.O. (Jesus Only) Hoffman and Big Daddy share the spotlight equally throughout the play. We have so much fun it's hard to catch a look at everyone being serious .

Right now we rehearse here at the house. It just makes sense, up until this week we were just doing script familiarization. Now we are ready to block though...YAY!!!

This week we will be rehearsing at the church so we get all of the entrances exits and whatnot down. It's gonna be awesome. SOOOO excited about this one :)

Truth be told, I am always excited. The honor of being able to perform the beautiful message of the Gospel of Christ in a form that is relevant for today and filled with''s just amazing! I could not be more blessed by this calling.  I'm so grateful. I'm also grateful that God has instilled my 3 oldest kids with a love for theater and acting. They have been a wonderful part of the production ministry Big Daddy and I run.

There's the promised recap. This week proves to be more challenging already; Big Daddy starts the new job today and still has 5 weeks left of the old one. So it's double duty for him, 6 days a week until just after Christmas (Brave, valiant man that he is!), Boyo and Bubba got their new school schedules, (all a mess of course) this week and that has to be fixed. Tabby and Zabo still have chess, choir, cheer and who knows what else will come up for them...Parent conferences for Moose (so much fun) But in all the hustle and the bustle one thing stays central to all we do, and may it be so for everyone this season;

Be well and blessed my friends :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Those things I used to do....

Dad (Pastor Hoffman) was preaching today and something he said reminded me of my position in the here and now and where it is that I came from.

He was talking about how last week one of the brothers in our church gave up his cigarettes to the altar. He stepped forward, after nearly 4 decades of addiction, chose to trust God as the strength to set him free and the steadfastness get him over the physical and habitual obstacles so many who suffer with addiction face after they set their minds and hearts on being free. It was beautiful. It was inspiring. And his faith, his sacrificial faith in the Lord encouraged another member of our family to affer to do the same.

This week she struggles. Dad was talking about how awesome it was that God had set our brother free and that she also had committed to allowing God to free her as well. She capitulated. She didn't want it said aloud. I remember that feeling; not wanting to risk laying my failure at God's door. I sympathize, I really do, and I have encouragement to give her. I too was bound, I too dealt with the fear and shame. I too suffered with addiction. Cigarettes, drugs, alcahol and more. But I hesitated. I thought about what to say, but I said nothing.

Too often as a Christian, a woman who is living my faith, not perfectly, but because of and through His grace, I look at my life now, the goodness and blessing that is evident, and feel others will not trust that I understand their suffering. I am afraid they will not see the sincerity in my heart for their pain and my genuine desire to share only what God has given me, not what I read about or "expect" them to believe. Self-doubt clouds my testimony. Not doubt in God, He has already proved Himself to me. It is doubt in my lawful right to help another tortured soul. Maybe it is demonic oppression seeping into my thoughts. Maybe it's just fear of being rejected. I don't know, but to those things this is what I have to say;

I did not begin here. I used to live in darkness. I was as desperate for as I was afraid of the Light that would be my freedom. I did not The fact that I am here is glory and praise to God alone because, He is the one who saved me. He is the one who set me free. He, Jesus Christ the Son of God is my Hero, my Father and my Friend because I did not begin here.

To my sister who is struggling...Hold out! Don't give is on the way :)