Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean

Believe it or not, I had never heard of a Jesse Tree before this year.  I have a fellow homeschooling friend, Jenn, who has made an online Advent Idea Box, and that's how I heard of the Jesse Tree.  That's also how I found this book, The Jesse Tree, by Geraldine McCaughrean.

The Jesse Tree is a fantastic book that you can read to your children during the season of Advent.  It's definitely something I plan to use with my boys next year.  The author weaves the stories of the Bible in such a way that children of all ages, including "older" children, can enjoy them together.  In the beginning and at the end of the book is a huge 2-page spread of an actual Jesse tree, illustrated, of course, with all of the symbols that you would put on your Jesse tree.  The Introduction explains what a Jesse Tree is, in simple terms, using the example of a family tree.  A Jesse Tree is simply a tree that depicts stories of the Bible that led up to Jesus' birth.  As the book puts it, "Jesse trees were the Bible-storybooks of unlettered people" (page 8).  As you add the daily symbols to your tree, you can read the corresponding chapter from this book.  At the top of each chapter is the picture of the symbol that should be placed on the tree that day.  Here's a picture of our Jesse Tree this year....since I had never really done one before, we didn't get too creative, and we still have a couple of ornaments left to put on....although now that I know the true meaning behind this tradition, I'm anxious to get more creative on next year's tree.  The kids still had a lot of fun with it, maybe a little too much fun, as I see Jaden took the green marker to our tree. 

Anyway, the book starts out with the story of a carpenter, who is working away when a little boy wanders into the church where he's working.  As time goes on, the carpenter begins to tell the little boy the stories behind each symbol of the Jesse Tree.  Stories such as the story of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Joseph, David, etc., are told in chronological order, leading up to the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of the Baby Jesus.  As the stories weave on, told in such an imaginative and wonderful way, it seems the carpenter rather enjoys his time with the little boy, even though he might not admit it.  The story ends in a surprising way. 

The book is just full of beautiful illustrations, and I really do recommend this for any family celebrating the season of Advent.  You could get a headstart on it by getting it early and reading it for it will probably lead to many discussions with your children.  I am very much excited to have this on my bookshelf; it's a resource we will use over and over, I am sure.  You can purchase The Jesse Tree from Lion Hudson for £4.99, or from Eerdmans for $20 in the U.S.  I definitely recommend this book for all families.  It's a resource that will help you teach your children the true meaning of the Christmas season....and may lead to an even deeper meaning for yourself.

(Disclosure: I was provided this book, free of charge, by Lion Hudson.)

Christmas With the Fam

Before Christmas, we took the kids to Bass Pro, originally, to see Santa, but that's a whole other story.  

We ended up having to take them to the mall to see Santa.  Oh well, though, they didn't care.  Santa is Santa, right?

We had a fun Christmas, though....we actually made three celebrations out of it this year.:)  On Christmas Eve, we always open our presents from the Pappies and Grammies back in PA, who were very generous, but I'll show you just a couple pics.  The boys were ecstatic.

Then we settle down with cups of hot cocoa (and I wish I had pics of this year's hot cocoa, because it was too pretty to drink.  We filled our cups and put marshmallows on top, along with a big candy cane to stir with.)  Once we had our hot cocoa, it was time to settle down together and watch The Polar Express.  It was so cozy because it was supposed to snow, and we had a fire in the fireplace.  Then, of course, it was time to put the kiddos to bed, so Daddy and I could play Santa and finish getting all their presents ready.  This year was a little tough on the moolah, but we had so much fun with it anyway; don't get me wrong....we had plenty of presents.  We ended up going to Dollar Tree for a lot of the kids' presents (and hunted for bargains in other stores), and let me tell you, Dollar Tree has to be one of the most wonderful places on earth, besides Goodwill, of course.  I mean, we were able to pick up big coloring books, puzzles, toy cars (diecast ones), and more.  It was a lot of fun.  I even picked up a few stocking stuffers for Dan, including a pedometer; now I need to go back and get myself one.  The kids enjoyed every bit of their presents; I think the cheapest presents were the most enjoyed, especially the stocking stuffers.  Christmas morning was a huge surprise with snow on the ground and a sled left by you know who.:)

Of course, Jaden enjoys coloring or drawing, no matter what, even on himself (sigh).

Don't Dan and I have just the most beautiful morning looks you've ever seen?  (Just keepin' it real....)  At least, he looks great.:)

Anyway, Christmas morning was filled with all kinds of goodies, what with stockings and presents to open.

Then, Christmas afternoon, my mom and dad came up, and I hate it that I don't have more pictures....I don't know what happened there.  (Mom, you might have to send me some.)  Anyway, we had a nice ham dinner with ham, potatoes, corn, jello, homemade rolls, and other treats.  Then the kids got to open presents from Mom and Dad. (Jaden instantly fell in love with his new John Deere truck and trailer along with "Moos" (cows).

Jacob's ready to try this baby out.

Mom and Dad split a calf's worth of meat between us and my brother's family.  We were sooooooo thankful for that gift; I think it's the best gift they could have given us.  Anyway, we had a wonderful Christmas together, as a family....I can't imagine Christmas Day being any more relaxing really.  It was so nice to have Mom and Dad to our house for a change; usually, we're either at their house or with other family.  That night, after they'd gone home, we settled down to watch The Nativity Story.  What a great just kind of tie things up.  

Anyway, I think this year, just being together with family, was the best part, just being able to relax together.  I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas, and I hope the New Year will bring you much joy.        

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Invisible Woman

Wow, this just says it all....let it encourage you today.

Shine Your Light Wednesdays: Happy New Year!

This week, I decided to kinda take the week off from Shine Your Light.  Except I wanted to just put out one reminder.....

Even though I don't drink myself, I know New Year's can be a big holiday for parties and drinking, and many may be tempted to drive home drunk.  Please, I beg you, to please remember that when you drive drunk (or even buzzed), you're putting not only yourself at risk, but others, even potentially, children.  So, if you're partying this week, just pick up the phone; call a cab, or call a friend.  Heck, if you live close to me, call me; I will be there in a heartbeat.  Real friends don't let friends drive drunk; that may seem cliche, but think about it; it's so true.  Love you all, my dear readers....I'll leave you with a sad, but very thought-provoking, chilling thought (but this is real, people; don't ever think it couldn't happen because it did):

If the statistics on this video mean nothing, just look up the number of videos related to memorials of victims on Youtube.....this may seem harsh, but it's real....and as you know, I'm just keepin' it real.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Time Out Tuesdays: Link Up Your Giveaways

Well, it's the last Tuesday of 2009! Can you believe it? I just can't believe how fast time flies. Every year seems to go quicker and quicker. Enjoy today's featured posts, and link up your giveaways below!

Under the Golden Apple Tree has a hilarious post on Shop Vac Wrestling. I actually laughed out loud....

Regan Family Farm is calling all homemakers to help her with the task of frugality vs. clutter.  Can you help her out?

Who Put Me In Charge of These People??? has a post on Parking Lot Etiquette.

Author, Jody Hedlund has a wonderful post on What A Writer Wants Most.

YaYa Stuff has a beautiful post called 2010=Hope.  Don't miss it.

One more site I want to share with you is DotMine.  I actually purchased one of their family_time.mine planners (for 50% off) last night at Borders.  So far, I really like it and wanted to share their site with you, since we have a new year coming.

Short, but sweet this week. Don't forget to link up your giveaways.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Motivate Me Monday- Be a Friend

Some friends come and go, but then there are friends who are there with you through thick and thin.  These particular friends might live close to you, or they may live far away.  Whatever the case, knowing who your true friends are is nothing short of a blessing.  

These true friends may be as close as sisters to you.  They may be the ones, who when you were sick back in college, held your hair back while you puked.  They may be the ones whom you shared your most secret thoughts with.  They may know all your flaws, but they still love you anyway.  Friends may be the ones you lean on when the hard times come.....

But have you ever stopped to think, "What kind of friend am I?  Would I hold her hair back while she puked?  Do I pray for her daily?  Do I truly take the time to just sit back and listen without speaking?  Do I refrain from voicing my concerns/worries/opinions, just to open my ears and heart to her needs?"  I've been asking myself this a lot lately....

Lately, I've been angry at God, and I can't explain fully right now, but He just keeps working on me, even when I fail over and over.  Believe me, sometimes I feel like a genuine fraud on here.  I strive so hard to let everything I say and do be "real."  But I realized something this weekend.  I may not have a lot of friends, but the friends that I do have are true, and they are ones that God has sent into my life.  It's like I can feel a fresh breeze from Him when talking with them or writing back and forth.  It's as if He is right there, speaking to me through them.  This probably doesn't make any sense at all, but it does to me.  I'm learning what it means to not just have friends, but to be a friend.  Are you a true friend?

For more Motivate Me Monday, visit Sarah at The Fifth Street Palace.

Daybook for Monday, December 28, 2009

FOR TODAY... from Mel's Daybook...

Outside my window... cold with a dusting of snow still left on the ground; it is sunny, though.

I am thinking... about my to do list and how it keeps growing....I guess it's just a life thing, ya know?

I am thankful for... shows like Road to Avonlea that just take my mind off of things and help me relax.:)

I am wearing... dark jeans with a red shirt and white tank shirts are fitting a little bigger these days, as I've lost quite a bit of weight in a short time (not sure why); and I just bought this shirt too.  Oh well.

I am remembering... my two hour phone call with Nancy the other day and how blessed and thankful I am to have her as a friend/sister.

I am going... to Tae Kwon Do tonight with Jacob, and we're hopefully going to return a couple things that didn't fit.  Oh, and we're combining gift cards to get a Wii Fit Plus; I'm so excited....don't worry, we've talked it over with the kids, and they are agreeable. 

I am currently reading... still the same book, but I'm starting Levi's Will this week.

I am hoping... that God will show Dan what to do, the right thing to do; and I'm hoping to get things reorganized/regrouped for school, just need some reevaluation. 

On my mind... Nancy and Aaron and what they will face this week at the doctor's....I love you guys.

Noticing that... somehow, even though there's a lot of uncertainty right now, there's also a sort of peace, maybe not a whole feeling of peace, but a small inkling of it is there.

Pondering these words...ok, I'm actually laughing at these words from Mrs. Rachel Lynde in Avonlea yesterday: "Not so long as I draw breath, you two-faced son of a beehive."  LOL  I don't know why that cracks me up, but it does.

From the kitchen... I'm thinking the Dollar Menu tonight, as we'll be gone most of the evening.

Around the house... already cleaned, but still have more to clean up from Christmas, and since laundry hasn't been done in about 4 days, am catching up on that.:)  I love Christmas!  It was a much needed break.

One of my favorite things... definitely snow, a fire in the fireplace, The Polar Express with the kids, and a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows and a candy cane to stir it with.  Mmmmmm....

From my picture journal... (Christmas Eve in our house)...

For more Daybook, visit The Simple Woman.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to share a couple favorites with you this Christmas Day!  I love Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige's version of What Child Is This?.  It's just so beautiful.  Even though a certain Scrooge, who shall remain nameless, has enlightened us concerning the story behind the Nativity, I am still posting this.  (You know who you are.)  LOL  No, seriously, Merry Christmas, and I sincerely hope that you all have a blessed holiday with your families.  Enjoy every second....

And, of course, who can have Christmas without It's A Wonderful Life?  

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Bit of Christmas Cheer

Even though it seems our world has been turned upside down, we still have to praise God for His goodness, and even when things look grim, He's still there in the people we talk to, the friends we surround ourselves with, and the people we love.  Please keep praying for Aaron and Nancy, as he's undergoing a biopsy today.  We'll know more next week; they are doing well, and their spirits are good....but they covet your prayers.  

Now for a bit of Christmas cheer.  The other day, we were going to meet my parents for lunch, so the boys and I stopped off at Goodwill along the way.  Guess what I walked out with?  You'll never believe it....a 6 foot, pre-lit Christmas tree that was only $5!  I was pretty excited; that kind of deal doesn't come along every day.  As Jacob piped up and said, "Man, Mommy, Goodwill is the place to be!"  LOL  Anyway, I got home with it, and was digging into it, getting ready to set it up, and alas, there were no legs.  (This shouldn't have been a surprise to me, since it seems that everything is this way lately).  LOL  But Dan stepped in like a hero, and he quickly built a little wooden stand for it, and it works great!  I cannot complain.  Yeah, this tree is a slightly skinnier tree, but it's still really pretty, and how could I resist $5?  I mean, it's practically brand new too.  We even went to Dollar Tree and splurged $5 on the ornaments for it.  Then instead of tinsel, I wrapped some ribbon I had around it.  It's gorgeous, and it just lights up our bedroom quite nicely.  So, now I'm one of those crazy people who has 2 trees: One in the living room (with all its memory-filled ornaments):

and our $5 tree in the bedroom.

(Oh yeah, and my mom went and got herself a couple trees too; she got a slightly bigger one, and she got some smaller mini trees).  So, next time you're driving by Goodwill, stop in; you never know what kind of Christmas cheer you might find.:)  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Dear Friend

I got a phone call a while ago, and I've been trying to process it ever since.  It was my dear friend, Nancy, who is truly like a sister to me (we are that close).  

She was at the hospital with her husband, Aaron.  The doctors have found a mass, or a tumor, on his lung.  They are meeting with specialists tomorrow to determine what the next step is.  I say all this to just please ask you to pray.  They have a little girl who is just precious....and they just need to be lifted up right now.  This Christmas has been particularly rough, and it seems like bad news just keeps hitting us up one side and down the other until all I really want to do is go to bed and sleep until it's all over.  BUT all things are possible with Him, right?  And all things work out for good, right?  He is in control, even when it's hard to see that....(tears).  Ok, I truly am headed to bed now.  Love you all.  

Shine Your Light Wednesdays: Springfield Victory Mission

Springfield Victory Mission, located in Springfield, MO, began back in 1976.  Reverend and Mrs. Everett Cook started serving sandwiches from the back of their station wagon, down on the town square.  Their hope was to reach out to the homeless with the Gospel.  It has since grown into a phenomenal ministry, helping men, women, and children in their time of need, not only with physical needs, but with spiritual needs as well.

Springfield Victory Mission has several areas in which to volunteer or give; here are descriptions of what they do.
  • Family Ministries- This ministry involves pointing families in need to the basic necessities of life, including food, clothing, medical help, household items, counseling, etc.  
  • Victory Chapel- This area of the Mission provides nightly chapel services, along with a hot meal; there are also discipleship classes that one can attend.
  • Victory House- This ministry is aimed toward women and helps to educate them in a way that they can learn life, parenting, job, and even Bible skills.  Its aim is to help these women get back into society and become "productive citizens."  With this "faith-based" life skills/job training, these women can get out into society and make a difference.
  • Victory Square- This ministry is aimed toward men and provides about 50 men with a clean place to stay at night, as well as a sober place.  With the Victory Transitions program, they can learn life skills, attend group meetings, talk with chaplains, and make phone calls or use a computer.  The Victory Lodge provides rooms for up to 60 men, each room housing 4-6 men.  These men have to pay a small fee to stay there, but they also have to deal with fewer men and have many more "privileges."  Victory Life is another facet of this ministry, and it helps men who are struggling with sobriety; it also teaches life skills and offers Bible studies and recovery help.  They offer a new 12-step recovery program called the "12/12." 
  • Victory Trade School- This ministry helps 40 men to get an education.  After graduating from the Victory Prep program, which involves life skills, recovery classes, etc., they are eligible to begin the Victory Trade School, in which they can choose to learn either culinary skills or hospitality skills, also acquiring a national credential with ManageFirst.  The Victory Trade School students actually operate a restaurant called The Cook's Kettle Restaurant; this gives them on-the-job training.
  • Victory Vintage is sort of like a thrift store ministry, offering different items for sale.  All of the proceeds go back into the ministry of Victory Mission.  It's also a place that those in need can go to get things, including household items, clothing, toys, etc.  Victory Vintage also offers items for sale on Ebay.  You can do an advanced search and enter "wmeware" in the Seller's User ID field to see what they have listed. 
  • Warehouse/Recycling Center- This is where all of the items used to help in their ministry are gone through and processed.  They accept not only clothing items, but they accept forms of recyclables as well, including metals, cardboard, etc.  The money earned through this facet of the ministry goes back into other areas of the Victory Mission.  
  • Wishes Through Victory- This ministry is directed at helping people with developmental disabilities to receive items that they might need.  
  • Sammy's Window is a partnership with the Springfield Victory Mission.  This ministry helps to provide basic needs for children entering the foster care system.  This ministry would provide an initial canvas bag filled with basic necessities for each child, as well as stocking a bank full of these supplies, so that stress can be reduced on the foster parents.  They also want to provide a mobile unit to reach out to other local communities.
The Springfield Victory Mission provides all this and more.  They also serve seniors, as well as provide a weekly prayer meeting for local businessmen.  You can shop at the Springfield Victory Mission Online Store.  Victory Mission also has a Gift Catalog you can shop from to help the neediest in our community.  You can help by donating money or items; you can even volunteer your time.  Just $2.10 will provide one complete meal for someone who is hungry and struggling.  With Christmas in just 2 days, maybe this is a ministry that will spark an interest in your heart....Merry Christmas.  

(Reverend Jim Harriger is the Executive Director of the Springfield Victory Mission; he actually has a blog that you can read.)    

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Time Out Tuesdays: Link Up Your Giveaways

Merry Christmas, Everyone!  I hope that you can take just a few minutes to relax today, grab a cup of warm hot chocolate filled to the brim with marshmallows, and read to your heart's content.  Enjoy, and then link up your giveaways at the bottom.

Like a Warm Cup of Coffee has a great post that every mom should read; it so encouraged my heart....Why Does Everyone Else Always Seem to Have It Together?  (And "Wow!  I Am My Kids Mom!")

I Choose Bliss has a post that might start your wheels turning, Homeless In America?.

The Creative Side of Me has a great recipe for The Best Fudge Ever.  (Haven't tried it yet, but I'm aiming to make it this week.) 

Kids say some of the funniest and most imaginative things.  Check out Classless and Lovin' It for Purple Prose.

Life As Mom has a great post about things that are More Important Than Your To-Do List.

The Stiles Family Blog is announcing her 12 Month Book Giveaway.

Have you wondered what a lot of snow can do when it slams into the Eastern seaboard with a big Nor'easter?  Check out The Brouse House for Snow Storm 2009 Part One.  She has some really great pics.

The Legacy of Home has a great post on A Dangerous Mood for a Housewife.

Lastly, Measuring My Life in Love has Two DIY Christmas Gifts you can make.  They are so beautiful.

And, I found a new site this week and instantly fell in love.  Check out Bakerella.  This site is full of all kinds of yummy recipes....I can't wait to try some of them.

Now, it's your turn; link up your giveaways, using Mr. Linky below.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winner of Lilyja Lace Silver Ring Giveaway

We have a winner for the Lilyja Lace Silver Ring Giveaway!  The winner is....
Congratulations, Kathy!  Thank you to all who entered, and I hope you have a Very Merry Christmas!  Stay tuned for more great giveaways.

Daybook for Monday, December 21, 2009

FOR TODAY, Monday, December 21, 2009...
Outside my window... it is dark and cold.

I am thinking... that it's nice to be off school for a couple weeks now.

I am thankful for... Christmas, when we're reminded of our Saviour's birth and why He came to earth.

From the learning rooms...just some fun arts and crafts this week, along with some fun reading and Christmas stories.

From the kitchen... tonight will probably be something quick from the dollar menu, since we're taking Jacob to karate, then headed to Bass Pro to see Santa.:)

I am wearing... jammies and robe for now; trying to get warm.

I am creating... more Italian Sprinkle Cookies this week (hopefully, I'll get the recipe right this time) and maybe some fudge and more Chocolate covered peanut butter Ritz.  Oh, and I plan to finally make my apron over Christmas break.:)

I am going... to karate tonight and then to see Santa.:)

I am reading... still trying to finish The Power of Respect by Deborah Norville and then have to start Levi's Will by W. Cramer.

I am hoping... to relax some over break, although Missie and I have our new website to build for MamaBuzz, so early mornings will ensue (have to work while the kids are asleep).:)

I am hearing...silence and the furnace running.

Around the house...have to desperately clean today.

One of my favorite singing with the choir at church.  We just have a lot of fun, and seriously, (Pastor Hosea said about this at our banquet last week), on those Sundays when we're just so tired and feel so drug down, you can just feel the Holy Spirit begin to move through the church like a breeze.  It's like He revives us through the music and really prepares us for listening....Dan and I were both talking about that after Pastor Hosea talked at the's truly amazing.

A few plans for the rest of the week: No school (yea!); Jacob to Tae Kwon Do; baking and crafts with the kids; go see Santa tonight; church/small group; possibly go to Christmas Eve service at Remington's; library/errands; Mom & Dad coming for Christmas; writing assignments/MamaBuzz work; hopefully, some relaxation and watching more Avonlea; praying desperately for snow; etc.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...(He got these snowboots in a package last week from Pappy and Grammy, and he would not take them off for anything; oh, and it didn't help that they were Cars snowboots, his favorite, the only movie he will sit through and watch over and over and over again; at least it's a good one).  LOL

For more Daybook, visit The Simple Woman.

Motivate Me Monday- Merry Christmas

Wow, Christmas is this week; I just can't believe it's already here.  Honestly, I feel like Christmas goes throughout the whole month of December.  I guess it's just the spirit of the holiday.

The last couple weeks have been rather stressful around the Lockcuff house.  I've really been struggling with a lot of things, personally, and although I won't go into detail here, I will say this.  If your family is having a hard time this holiday season, whether financially, physically, or however, don't give up on the magic of this holiday.  Don't lose out on the memories that can still be made together.  Even though you may feel like there's no hope in sight, or maybe you've lost touch with the One Who is the reason for this holiday, don't give up.  Believe me, I've been ready to just throw my hands up in the air and totally give up in the last couple of weeks; I've even had a few meltdowns.  If you've seen a crazy woman crying hysterically in her car, that was probably me.  Dan and I have both been really discouraged.  But from me to you, one mama to another, don't give up.  Make the most of what you have, and make memories....after all, it's the memories that will last, not all the hooplah and giftwrap.  Hug your kids, and cover them in kisses. 

Merry Christmas!

For more Motivate Me Monday, visit Sarah at The Fifth Street Palace.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger templates 'Neuronic' by 2008

Back to TOP