Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Dance of Grief and Joy

I've heard it many times before, and in lots of different ways. You won't feel complete in this lifetime. You weren't meant for this world. There will always be an emptiness this side of heaven. There will remain an ache, a void... It's true. All of it.

And lately I'm finding myself stuck in the aching.

I still cry over our failed adoption last fall. I have known grief before, but this somehow feels different. More final. Maybe this is God saying No when I really want to hear a Yes. Then, this fall, another big loss that I can't share just yet. And what I'm struggling the most with now is how to balance that dance of grief and joy. I'm struggling to savor the moments- and the people- right in front of me because the emptiness inside feels more encompassing. I know this isn't how God wants me to live, this dwelling on loss, and I don't want to live this way either.

I want to be fully present and alive and joy-filled with my family! Something in my heart isn't reaching what it's in my head. Or vice versa. I want our moments to count, to really count, and not just go through the motions. I don't want to waste our time together wishing things could be different, always focused on what feels like is missing. Because then I miss out on everything that's right in front of me. And I have been given so very much.

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
Psalm 18:28

'In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'
John 16:33b

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Party Like It's... 2014

I can't believe our December birthdays are now officially behind us. I feel like if those would just slow down, then Christmas might slow down, then New Year's, and, well, I guess that somehow time would just miraculously stand still for a little bit.

We celebrated Isabelle and Caleb last weekend with a small party with their grandparents, and then Caleb's best friends came over on Saturday afternoon. The weather was beautiful!!, so they all played outside for a bit, which was just plain fabulous after having doped them up on sugar sugar sugar, ha! Caleb had the incredible act of turning 10 on 12/12/12, and this year he turned 12 on 12/12- both very cool!

When we have boys over, I've learned to keep things simple. There's lots of food, of course, and some element of competition/adrenaline. Other than that, I let them be. And then I just smile and don't sweat the small stuff.  =)

Since my birthday is the day before Halloween, obviously I have grown up with everything fall and halloween-related for my brithdays. One of these years I'm going to celebrate my half birthday and have an outdoor fiesta...or maybe my 3/4 and have a pool party? These two will never know their birthdays without Christmas things, and I wonder about whether they'll always like it or not.

Anyhoo. Here are a few pics I'm sharing:

I've learned a few things with all the parties that go on around here!  ;)
One thing is to add color- anywhere you can!

 I was super excited to see the SUN again! This has been a dark and kind of dreary winter so far! The balloons on the front porch or lamppost have become a tradition for him.  =)
 I doubt anyone else gets quite as enthused as I do about these silly little decorations. I just love them all over the counter and tables!

 So thankful for such a nice group of boys! Here they are working hard at transferring marshmallows into the tiny cups with chop sticks. The next round they could use only one hand to hold the sticks...their "opposite" hand, ha!

I always have a few games or activities planned out ahead of time. Nothing says NOT fun like the pressure of trying to make something happen that you aren't prepared for...when a bunch of kids are all waiting on you!

 Shooting stacks of cups is always a favorite. Here they are heckling the shooter to distract him. It worked! They tried with a marshmallow gun and then a nerf gun. So fun!

Since we have outgrown the themed party stage, there is really no need for a specific cake. Caleb happily agreed to a football ice cream cake and - this is sort of a family joke at this point - the old standby snowman cake, typically already marked down on clearance. Nothing but the best for my family, ha! And I didn't have to bake yet another cake, so...yay!

Here is my big 12-year-old when we celebrated with our parents. I just love him to pieces. He requested a chocolate cake with pepperminty-chocolate icing, so we crunched up some candy canes for the topping. It was yummy!

And this pretty birthday girl. She wanted a pink cake and said to "surprise" her with the frosting. HA

I love celebrating them. But, honestly, it's bittersweet. No one told me it was going to be like this before I had children. So wonderful but so painful at the same time.

I don't normally post pictures from Instagram on here, so if you want to see more, look me up as roseandruffle. And say hello- I'm always looking for friendly and interesting new people to follow!  =)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Easy Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Dipped Mini-Chip Mexican Wedding Cakes

Good morning! Since I've been spending lots of time in the kitchen lately, I thought I'd share some of our favorite Christmas recipes. I've posted about these little cookies before, but they're too good not to share again!

You're welcome.  ;)

Don't be fooled by their size- these little cookies are big on fabulousness!
I've adapted the recipe just a bit from my beloved
Best Ever Nestle Cookie Cookbook.

Chocolate Chip
Mexican Wedding Cakes

1 C (2 sticks) butter, very soft but not melted
1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 C all-purpose flour (we use unbleached)
2/3 C finely chopped nuts
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 C semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, divided
Please note that omitting the nuts will make this dough extremely 
coarse and dry, and is therefore not recommended.
  • Beat butter and powdered sugar until creamy
  • Add vanilla
  • Gradually add flour, nuts, and cinnamon 

{the dough will be rather coarse/crumbly once you add in the flour- that's how it's supposed to be}
  • Stir in 1- 1/2 C morsels
{again, the dough is not uniformly smooth- you'll have chunks and's still all good}
  • Carefully pat or press dough into 1" balls with your fingers, and find a cute helper! **Sometimes the dough gets too crumbly, and I find it easier to scoop up a much larger amount than necessary and sort of squeeze it into shape- the extra (unnecessary) dough "falls away," leaving the perfect-sized ball shape**
  •  Place on UNgreased baking sheet or use parchment paper

This is great dough for little hands to work with because it isn't sticky and it's easy to shape.
It's kind of like play-dough.  ;)

  • Bake in 350 F oven for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown on bottom
  • They "puff" but do not spread
There is much anticipation, I tell you. 
  • Let stand 2 minutes; place on wire racks to cool
  • Next, melt remaining chocolate (or use a baking chocolate bar to melt if you prefer)

  I add a small dollop of shortening to about a half bag of morsels and microwave on high in 30 second intervals. It usually takes about 2 minutes to melt everything. Stir together until smooth.

If you want to "dip" the cookies in chocolate, I find it easier to hold the cookie in one hand and gently spoon the melted chocolate onto half. Let the extra dribble right back into the bowl. Place cookies on waxed paper to set.
If you're running short on time, drizzle them! Line up the cookies on waxed paper and spoon out some melted chocolate and drizzle over the tops. Repeat in the opposite direction so cookies have lots of chocolate "lines" on them. There will be giant chocolate globs too, but I've never heard anyone complain about that.  =)
 Store in airtight container at room temp. Makes 3 or 4 dozen, depending on how big your cookies are.
They are sooooo yummy!

I'm planning on sharing some other fun and festive recipes soon, so check back! But for today, I'll be working on preparations for my baby boy's birthday (tomorrow, and he is turning 12, so... not exactly my baby anymore) and party with his friends on Saturday. Have a great day!