19 December 2011

Pauline Burress' Chocolate-Covered Peanuts

I have an awful sweet tooth, which I somehow passed on to Avery. So one of my favorite parts of Christmastime is all of the yummy sweet treats we get to enjoy. Here is a delicious candy recipe courtesy of my Aunt Pauline. It's quick and easy. And it's a great gift for anyone on your Christmas list!

5 squares white almond bark
5 squares chocolate almond bark
1/2 12-oz. bag chocolate chips
1 can (12 oz. or 16 oz.) salted peanuts

Preparation Instructions
Melt both almond barks and chocolate chips together. Add peanuts. Drop candy onto wax paper. Let candy sit until firm.

16 December 2011

Mash up!

Several weeks ago, we enjoyed a family dinner with Chris' parents after church. Mommaw invited Avery to help her make the mashed potatoes. I think she liked using the electric beaters!

Right now, Mommaw is nearing the end of a wonderful 17-day trip in Japan to visit her new grandson. (Poppaw now is home after spending a week with the Japan Clarks.) Since Mommaw is probably going through a little Avery withdrawal, we thought she'd like to see these pictures and remember this fun day!

14 December 2011

Decking the halls

According to family tradition, we put up our Christmas decorations on the day after Thanksgiving. Usually we watch "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" while decorating. But since Chris was working on homework and didn't want to miss watching the movie, Avery and I just listened to some of our favorite Christmas CDs.

Avery had her own decorations to unpack. She spent a lot of time setting up and playing with her Fisher Price nativity set. She loves all of the animals and people, especially Baby Jesus. That little baby is carried all over the house. (And at Grandma and Grandpa's house, Baby Jesus rides on the electric train!) But thank goodness He always ends up back in the stable with His mommy and daddy.

Chris took a break from homework to help Avery hang the stockings.

Next we decorated the tree. Each year, I love pulling out the ornaments and reminiscing about the memories behind each one. This year, I got to explain each ornament's significance to Avery.

I'll share some of these memories with you, too!

Casey's wife, Elvie, loves all things Disney. So it's only appropriate that she gave us this Minnie Mouse ornament with their family picture. Now we need a new picture that includes Caden!

Although this technically is a football referee, this is still an awesome ornament. After all, how many referee ornaments have you seen in the stores?

My cousin Lori Anne gave me this adorable pregnant snowman ornament the Christmas before Avery was born. Just like the referee above, how often do you see a maternity-themed ornament? :o)

Eleven years ago, my parents and I visited my sister in England while she spent a semester studying there. In London I picked up this ornament of a Buckingham Palace guard.

I can't tell you about our Christmas tree ornaments without showing a Lucy ornament. This one depicts Lucy taking ballet lessons in the episode "The Ballet." I may have a lot of Lucy ornaments, but Chris has just as many sports ornaments!

Avery helped hang some of her own ornaments. Every year we get one dated ornament for the family and one for Avery. Her ornament this year features Curious George, one of her favorite characters.

Chris is always responsible for putting the star on the top of the tree. My arms are too short to handle this task!

Besides our tree ornaments, we have many other decorations with special meanings. I decided to share some of them with you.

After moving to Tucson, my grandma fell in love with DeGrazia, an artist who specialized in southwestern art. My grandparents featured much of his work in their home, especially in the form of needlepoint crafted by my grandma. This is another one of DeGrazia's items, a beautiful Hispanic nativity set featured inside a small glass box. Looking at this unique nativity scene always makes me think of Grandma Hromada.

Avery loves naming everyone in each nativity scene she sees.

Here's another precious nativity scene. This one belonged to my Grandma Rork. My sister and I proudly displayed this set in our bedroom when we were younger.

Chris' mom bought him this mini-Christmas tree several years ago. It features teddy bears sitting on basketballs and soccer balls. Since he's a two-sport referee, it's like this tree was made just for him!

I hope you enjoyed a small glimpse into our family Christmas decorations!

13 December 2011

BSF 2011-2012: Hebrews 11-13


It's easy to say you have faith in something or someone. Yet this is a challenging Christian doctrine. Faith is woven all throughout the book of Hebrews but especially in these last three chapters. The first verse of chapter 11 gives us the Bible's clearest definition of faith:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
According to chapter 11, we have faith in four basic things which are unseen: creation, a holy God, eternal life, and wrath and judgment. The writer then goes on to give multiple examples of Old Testament men and women who had faith in God's unseen promises. The amazing thing about each of these faithful believers is that they never received what was promised (11:39). They had so much faith in the unknown and acted on that faith, but they never saw their faith come to fruition in the birth of the promised Messiah. How blessed we are to see the full picture and have God's full revelation in his written Word!

Our faith will be tested because that's simply a part of life. But we can't give in to that testing. We must persevere. And the only way to persevere is by fixing our eyes (12:1b-2) and thoughts on Jesus (3:1). Look to Christ, not self. Where are my eyes looking?

Then there are evidences of true faith, including loving one another, helping those who are suffering and experiencing contentment in our circumstances. Which evidences of faith do others see in me?

There are three parts to faith: content (head knowledge), consent (believing what you know) and commitment (put the knowledge into practice). These are not steps we must take to achieve faith, but each part works together to help us experience true biblical faith.

06 December 2011

BSF 2011-2012: Hebrews 7-10

There is so much doctrine in these four chapters of Hebrews! I could go on and on about how Christ is the superior sacrifice, how He is our King and Priest in the order of Melchizedek, how thousands of years earlier the old covenant and sacrifices pointed to Him, and how He is in heaven interceding to God on our behalf. But there was one short verse from these four chapters that really hit me this week:
"How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" Hebrews 9:14
Because of Jesus' great sacrifice and death, not only are my sins cleansed but I also can serve the living God.

So many people today struggle through life without a purpose or plan. They wonder why we're on earth. They wonder if God really cares about us. They wonder what they should be doing with their lives. They wonder how they can experience true satisfaction and fulfillment. This verse clearly tells us that part of our purpose on earth is to serve God.

Am I being the best person I can be? Am I being what God has called me to be, and am I doing what He has called me to do? How well am I serving Him? Do I thank Him for the opportunities to serve Him? Do I ask Him for more opportunities to serve Him? How can I better serve the living God?