Christmas

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Snippets of ‘Comfort & Joy’ at Our House

I wanted to share a few pictures of all the things that make our house ‘us’.  The structure helps create the brick and mortar part but there is so much more to this house.  It is the place that we are creating  family culture that is unique to the Stoltzfus’.  It’s also the place that we so love to come home to!! I don’t say that lightly.  We are so blessed and just love our simple, little house we call home.  It initially was not my dream house (although my dream house was probably a little unrealistic) but we so clearly saw the hand of God in our lives when purchasing this house that there is no mistake it’s ‘the perfect house for us’.  In that I feel so taken care of!  Here are a few of the things we did this season to make it a place of ‘comfort & joy’ for us!

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The lights in the windows flicker. It’s one of my new favorites at our house!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas stays extra long at our house.  It is one of my favorite times of years. I have been reflecting on where my love of such richness comes from.  I know it was imparted to me from my Grandmother to my mom and now from my mom to me.  We always had tubs and tubs of ‘Christmas’ in the attic.  Even the orange lights in all 20 windows bring back warm yummy feelings.  It then morphed into blue lights in all the windows until years and years ago my mom changed to all white.  There is still nothing as inviting as driving into her lane at Christmas and seeing her house aglow with lights!!

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I hope this  Season you have found a sense of ‘joy’  in creating beauty and life for all who enter your home!

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This holds all our beloved Christmas greetings!

This holds all our beloved Christmas greetings!

Cheers!  Dawn

A Saturday Morning Brunch & Community

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I love hosting!  It requires work, true! But there is nothing so rewarding as offering myself in the form of service like this! Last Saturday was no exception.  It was for a special group of ladies.  Ladies I have laughed with, shared with, cried with, prayed with and ate with in the past year.  They are the ladies that form my accountability/support group.  We have been in community for 3 1/2 years.  So there is a lot of life that happens in that time period.   

Colors of Christmas

Colors of Christmas with a spot of yogurt

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It was simple.  It needed to be because the night before I had helped my hubbs with his work Christmas Banquet.  We were working on a tight budget so that required super, duper creativity!  We needed to decorate the tables and have appetizer and punch for 81 people on a $92 budget.  Yeah we did it!!  Anyway, back to the menu!

Whole grain Croissant Sandwiches with egg, cheese and bacon

Whipping Cream Potatoes (page  121 in the cookbook)

Fresh Fruit with Vanilla Yogurt (green grapes, kiwi, red raspberries & pomegranate arils)

Red Berry Pavlova Tower

(thanks to Southern Living for their creativity)  Mine didn’t turn out as pretty white as theirs did but it was still so yummy!

Coffee Bar

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The table all pretty:

IMG_0122And I am famous for picking my camera up once and not again.  This happened again at this event.  So there are no foto’s of my lovely guests.  Sigh! 

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The Coffee Station

More important then the brunch and all it’s pretty foto’s is the relationship that has been forged with these woman.  As woman we need each other.  I am pleading with you to fight the tendency to do life alone (in our heads we don’t think we want to do life alone but sometimes in our hearts we can feel so alone in a sea of people)!  Don’t wait for woman to call you and ‘form’ a group like this.   It won’t happen.  Be intentional. I am not talking about your friends who you would call to go shopping with although they may be a part of it. I am talking about woman you can share your hearts with, woman you may not generally rub shoulders with but woman you want to learn from. While Bible Study with woman is good, this goes beyond that.  Pray! Seek out the woman the Lord gives you faces to.  Be diligent in your seeking before Jesus. 

We started with 6.  You may want to start smaller.  Trust me, we are all so different. You will want to be flexible in the context of your group. We have changed our format up every year.  We started meeting during the day with our kids.  It was chaos.  Now we meet at night.  We meet once a month from Sept-May.  And in between those meetings time we have access to a closed Facebook group and we text a lot back and forth. We are always available to pray together. 

I think what is so beautiful to me is the fact that we are learning from each, we are growing from each other.  We have left our meetings with this stark realization we are not alone in our parenting struggles.  Satan would want us to think we are and before we know it has tripped us up!  It has been so good to hear real, in flesh woman be honest with their hearts not just some words I read over the computer off a blog or heard on a radio show.  I share this next story with my hubbs permission and we share it because I don’t think woman really understand the beautiful, grace-filled power they can have in relationship to their husband.  I didn’t!  During an incredibly difficult time for my hubbs and I, one of the ladies in our group challenged me to go home and move towards my husband sexually.  I thought she was out of her mind because that was the absolute last thing I felt like doing.  But the most beautiful thing happened in our marriage during that time after I pondered what she said to me.  We had a break thru like never before.  It still is just such a precious time as I look back and reflect over that time period.  The ‘hard’ dynamics that we were dealing with DID NOT change but my husband opened up to me in such a beautiful, powerful way that was just beyond comprehension.  Had I walked alone during that time I would have turned inward and not experienced the truly beautiful place that the Lord wanted to take my husband and I!!!  I am so grateful for deep, close community and this brunch was only a tiny reflection of the true beauty that is in the hearts of these woman I so love!!

Cheers sweet friends!

Dawn

Happiness is

coming home from a LONG day and I mean long day of shopping and errands (with 3 little kiddos) and finding a sweet package on my front porch!

From a person who loves me well and shows it.  It was simple, fresh holly berries to pretty up my house because I have none and love them so and a button garland.  She remembered last year I was scurrying all over her house looking for white buttons so that I might make a button garland to put on my tree.  My mom really is the best!

IMG_0068There was a red cup of jo shared with my sweet friend Audrey!

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And then there are pretty white vases that were just waiting for me to come home with some fresh fleurs to fill them up with!

IMG_0093Now to find a home for them and they can cheerily welcome in my Saturday morning Brunch guests.  I really do love Christmas!

IMG_0096But you know JOY TO ME really is this:

Taken from Isaiah 9:2 & 6.  ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned. For unto us a child is born…..And HE will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty GOD, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’  These words are so powerful.  He dawns in my heart in so many little ways, in so many big ways!  And then He counsels me and offers me peace when my heart is fearful.

Today I am marveling in the happiness and joy my heart knows! And you?

Cheers!

Dawn

Minty Mocha’s. Yummers!

My mother makes this for me. I love it.  I finally got the recipe a few weeks ago.  I would like to share it with you.IMG_4684

1 cup water

1/3 cup sugar (or less)

6 Andes mints

Mix together in a small saucepan, stir on medium heat until dissolved.

Stir in:

3/4 cup half & half

3/4 cup milk

Heat just until heated, DO NOT over heat (you won’t like the results :-), trust me on this one)

Add 2+ cups strong, hot coffee.

Serve in your favorite mugs.  Add whipp if you like and Andes also has these cute little mini peppermint chips that are great for garnishing as well.  Be sure to grab someone to enjoy this with you or simply sit and breathe in some of the wonder of the ‘Christ child’.

May your heart be filled with JOY today!!

Dawn