Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Party at Church

Coffee Conversations party!

December week one launched me into the celebration of all things Christmas when I attended Woodland Hills Family Church, Branson, Mo., and attended their monthly Coffee Conversations. It was an evening with carol singing, games, and guest musician Clay Cooper who lead some talented children singing Away in the Manger. Oh, and there was coffee and caramel apple slices with trimmings.
My daughter had invited me that morning. She was the guest speaker, so I raced up for the event. Of course, my favorite part was my daughter, but it was great meeting people who were celebrating the Advent of Jesus Christ.
You can hear Stephanie's talk about the blessings that came into her life when she said "Yes!" when she wanted to say "No!" -Vimeo link:

The sign out front Woodland Hills was made by Stephanie and her husband, Andy. It was Andy's idea to make it, inspired by a posting he had seen on Instagram. Stephanie did the chalkboard calligraphy and Andy was the carpenter extraordinaire.
It almost didn't happen.
Andy wanted the wood posts like the ones seen on the Instagram sign and even though we live in the Ozarks, beams only grow on trees. It just happened that he was picking up a picture frame for another project, and the framer had these wooden beams, which she donated for the occasion.
So when you look at this sign that points to the birth of Christ, know that is
-a work of art,
-a work of carpentry
... but even more important
-a work of the heart.

Hope your hustle and bustle for Christmas is a joyous one!

  If you would like to make some digital tree ornaments, visit my Blog for info and download details.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dewey & Minnie - Members in Good Standing of the 50-Year Club

50-year anniversary plate from Dewey and Minnie's celebration
One of my favorite things, a cake plate from  Grandpa and Grandma's 50th wedding anniversary. Married in Friesland, Wis., March 17, 1917 - a bond that lasted through their lifetime together and begun nearly a century ago.

Simple things like a gilded cake plate take on an importance when they sponsor memories of people you love.

When I think of Grandma Minnie and Grandpa Dewey Braaksma together, I remember laughter. No doubt there were times when there wasn't laughter, but I wasn't a part of those moments. It's a theory of mine that unless there is laughter in your heart, no one sees or shares your happiness. Laughter is a barometer of the heart. So, all is well with me when I am in the midst of laughter.

However, Minnie carried laughter a bit further. There was a slight skip to her step and a tilt in her shoulders when she burst into laughter. It sprung from her soul.

Not every marriage hits the 50-year mark, but theirs did and our family is the richer for it.

This plate was gifted a second time when my aunts Ann and Jane gave it to me after Minnie's death. They presented me with the plate and a set of salt and pepper shakers saying simply they thought I might like to have them in remembrance of Grandpa and Grandma. Oh, yes. Thank you.

This morning I read a quote from the works of A.A. Milne, author of the beloved Winnie the Pooh. His words remind me of how my grandparents made me feel when I was a child.

Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

~ A. A. Milne
Grandma and Grandpa Braaksma celebrate their golden wedding anniversary.
A family treasure, hand-painted porcelain salt and pepper shakers from Minnie and Dewey's 50th wedding anniversary

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Happy Easter - Happy Forever More

Porcelain Easter rabbit and bouquet of flowers sets atop piano

This year Easter saw our family transition from an Egg Hunt to an Egg Drop

The cousins are growing older and the Dads are happy to say goodbye to the egg hunt tradition that once sent them scurrying outdoors to hide eggs, immediately following dinner. There was no time for that after-dinner nap or joining the basketball fans on the sofa—rather, they had to hop out on the lawn and magically hide 200 eggs, in a well-manicured lawn — a mind boggling chore.

The egg drop point was the tree house, the highest point in the yard, with the goal to drop the eggs to the ground without breaking them. Each of the cousins had prepared in advance a "contraption" to encase their egg for a safe decent. Some chose foam, parachutes, balloons, and even a plastic jar of peanut butter. There were several drops before a winner, including three drops off the deck and onto the slate patio. In the end, the egg cushioned in six-inches of foam that floated to the ground via a parachute, won the prize!

Our Easter hosts thought out of the box to create a perfect afternoon dinner for all

We had fajitas rather than ham or other traditional Easter fare. Since the guest list was 30 to 35, the idea was to have a simple buffet style meal, AND yummy. Jeff and Greg grilled - Jeff grilled skirt steak over charcoal and Greg grilled marinated  chicken breast, served with grilled onions and green peppers. You missed out.

So everyone rolled up all of this yummy meat in a fajita; layered it with vegetables, cheese, sour cream .... There were chips and chips and homemade Salsa, bean dip, and guacamole; and the 7-Layer Dip. Every food group was covered with the addition of two bowls of fresh fruit and sauces. And,  Lisa and Katie brought deviled eggs, a family favorite.

Easter dessert table

The dessert table was a blitz

There was the traditional lamb cake, baked by Amy and frosted by Gwen and Clara. Amy made Rice-Krispie-Treat lollipops, decorated with Peeps; I made apple pie slices and a cherry pie. Jeff made and decorated a fabulous carrot cake; all served with ice cream and whipped toppings. And Julie brought EasterBunny Chow, a recipe she found pinned on Pinterest and sure to become a family classic.

Easter morning began with the celebration of the resurrection

We don't all live in the same city, and don't all go to the same churches. Darrell and I visited the church our children attend in Branson, Mo., Woodland Hills FamilyChurch,  where they had a baptism before the service and another following the service for those who had made a decision to follow Christ during the message. It was overwhelming to see people profess their faith in Christ and follow His command to be Baptized, all on Easter Sunday.

James River Church celebrated Easter with a confetti drop
Julie took this photo at the James River Assembly service, where they celebrated the resurrection with great joy, ending the worship service with a confetti drop.

In the end, it takes a nanosecond for the family to go from church to play clothes; closely followed by dinner, conversation, naps and games, embracing the time we share on this day that began 2,015 years ago to proclaim the resurrection and life evermore. Selah!

an after-dinner nap on Easter