Mom, I need you in the kitchen NOW!!!
There is an add on at the end of this post.

Those were the words I heard as I was for once sitting in the family room watching TV; Katie and I were watching the finally of "The Biggest Looser".

I was not overly moved by the comment until it was repeated at a higher level.
I arose off the couch and turned to look in the kitchen. To what did my eyes see but the toaster oven on fire!!!!!

Thankfully I did not freak. I cried out for Jesus and unplugged the device. Then I grabbed oven mitts and promptly took the flaming object to the back yard, where my son who caused all of this trouble used the fire extinguisher slightly on the oven and also on me!!!
The stuff in those canisters does not taste very good.

Here is a picture of the
now burnt offering.

I declare we have had enough excitement for this week, actually for the rest of this year!!

I will have to address the toaster need at a later date. Today I go to Virginia and will return very late tonight.

Has anyone else had a story like this?

I am sure there are some good ovens out there, let me know what your favorite is.


I mean literally. It was exactly a week ago that I was in Philadelphia, PA for a business trip. I am here again, at the same hotel next to the room I was in this day last week. It was cold and rainy last week too!!

I have nothing against PA, it is just that I have not experienced the best weather here yet. Last week I had to do some training and catch a flight to meet Allan at a Christmas gathering. Guess what, I am doing the same thing this time too. I have to catch an afternoon flight to get to our churches Christmas Banquet, of which we are hosting and decorating for. I seem to be good at cutting things close lately.

An update on Allan's hand; he is doing well. He will be in a brace for a few weeks, but should be fine in the long run. We are very thankful. This means we get to continue to live indoors and eat!!! The joys of self employment. Truly I would not have it any other way. The flexibility far out weights the faith walk of depending on God to provide.

We still do not have a tree yet, the hope is to accomplish that this weekend. I will let you know.

I pray that you are all enjoying this precious season.


A holiday heart warmer
I am going to post a story that I received in an email. It is a wonderful illustration of what this precious season is all about. Please enjoy and invite others to read it too.

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible; instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though; I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this

But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load.

Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "Why?" "I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt."

That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.

When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. "Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunnysacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy?

Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, and then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp. "We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.

She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children---sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too.

In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs.. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away. Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, "'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough.

Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunnysacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensen's, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night; he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

Don't be too busy today...


And the Winner Is!!
The winner from my "Mr. Linky give away is "New Every Morning". Please leave me a comment with your email so I can get your mailing information to send you the book. Congratulations. I hope you will be encouraged.

An update: Allan is feeling better. He will have the hand immobilized for a couple of weeks. He has been a trouper. Yesterday he ended up driving to and from school 4 times and handled all four kids while washing clothes. He is a super hero!!! Thanks for your encouraging comments.

Have a wonderful day.


12 Days of Christmas
Hi to everyone that has come over from Karen Ehman's blog. I am so glad you stopped by.

For those that are also in the "Mr. Linky" contest the play went well. My husband and I cried a ton when Katie did her death scene. She was Beth from "Little Women". I knew she had to do it, but when I actually saw it, oh boy was it hard!!

I thought I would share a couple of photos from our annual ski trip and Christmas tree shopping day. It was yesterday and it was eventful. Most things seem to be when it comes to our family.

The day started out perfectly. We arrived at the mountain to a frigid 19 degrees and wind gusts up to 40 mph. We got everyone dully covered and set with skis, we put the youngest two children in classes to start with; the rest of us headed to the top of the mountain. All was well until Allan took a spill. He is the one who never falls in our family!!!! He had this unusual look on his face when I got to him to give him back the pole he lost. He said his thumb was a bit sore, all else was fine. By the time we got to the bottom of the mountain I knew his hand would need to be looked at. After a visit to the First Aid room, a little oxygen and a bandaged hand later; he was sent to the fire place for the rest of the day.

The rest of the family had a great day, good runs and total fun. Here are a couple of pictures of Sarah.

Here is Ryan our 13 year old and our next door neighbor Pam and her daughter Jacqueline (their family joined us for our adventure today). They are sitting in front of the fire place keeping Allan company!!!

When it was time to leave and get the tree sympathy for dad and the need to have further evaluation on the hand set in. We scratched the tree run and decided to get home. We will go to a local farm and get a tree this week.

Allan went to an urgent care center and has a temporary cast. There are no broken bones, but he needs to see an Orthopedic doc to make sure the joint is stable.

Karen asked the question of how I handle the craziness of the season. I think it takes flexibility and willingness to improvise. As you are reading this today I am either on my way to Ft. Lauderdale or already there working; I will be home late tonight. Please pray for my hubby today. He has the kids and needs to get some reports out for work, all with his left hand out of commission.

Blessings to all,

It is Mr. Linky time again

Hi to everyone.

If you are coming by from Lysa's blog welcome.

I am glad you have stopped by. I hope your weekend is relaxing.

Our oldest daughter Katie is in a production at school tonight. The drama class is doing their rendition of "Little Women". I am excited to see it, but also a bit apprehensive; Katie is playing Beth. This means I get to watch my daughter die on stage.

Tomorrow our family will embark on their annual snow ski and Christmas tree search . I will post some pictures and details early next week.

My prize for "Mr. Linky" Christmas Giveaway is going to be a copy of "Ten Minute Time Out's for Busy Women".

It is a wonderful devotion book. I gave away my copy and need to get another one, so I thought I would share it with one of you too. I will pick a winner on Tuesday of next week.

See you next week.

Take some time to laugh at this!!
Okay, I am stealing someone else's idea today. If you are participating in Karen Ehman's 12 days of Christmas you will have already enjoyed this great video.

She asked about favorite Christmas songs. I would say that mine is Silver Bells; but this video is so cute I had to show it too.

Sorry for being a copy cat today. But why reinvent a great thing!!

Celebrating with a friend and a story too.
I am so excited. One of our She Speaks graduates is publishing her book!!! Kristen Meyers was in my evaluation group in 2007. Visit her blog today to see how the story unfolded.

We have been trying to get the house decorated for Christmas the past couple of days, so it looks like we are participating this year. As I began putting up the lights and testing them I was met with much resistance; from the lights anyway. I apparently have multiple strands and decorations that no longer light up. I should not be overly surprised as they are at least 10 years old. But I did not necessarily plan for any expense in those categories.

So I am changing up my decorating this year. I am placing items in different positions (I am one that has everything in its special place each year for that certain look I want). This is a new thing for me. I am sure there is a lesson in this somewhere (check back after Christmas and I am sure I will have it).

I decided not to stress over unmet expectations and let things look different this year.

In my email this morning was this really neat story, I thought I would share it with you.

Psalm 55:22 --- you really need to read this.
'Friends are God's way of taking care of us.'
This was written by a Metro Denver Hospice Physician:

I was driving home from a meeting this evening about 5, stuck in traffic on Colorado Blvd., and the car started to choke and splutter and die - I barely managed to coast, cursing, into a gas station, glad only that I would not be blocking traffic and would have a somewhat warm spot to wait for the tow truck. It wouldn't even turn over. Before I could make the call, I saw a woman walking out of the 'quickie mart' building, and it looked like she slipped on some ice and fell into a gas pump, so I got out to see if she was okay.

When I got there, it looked more like she had been overcome by sobs than that she had fallen; she was a young woman who looked really haggard with dark circles under her eyes. She dropped something as I helped her up, and I picked it up to give it to her. It was a nickel.

At that moment, everything came into focus for me: the crying woman, the ancient Suburban crammed full of stuff with 3 kids in the back (1 in a car seat), and the gas pump reading $4.95.

I asked her if she was okay and if she needed help, and she just kept saying 'I don't want my kids to see me crying,' so we stood on the other side of the pump from her car. She said she was driving to California and that things were very hard for her right now. So I asked, 'And you were praying?' That made her back away from me a little, but I assured her I was not a crazy person and said, 'He heard you, and He sent me.'

I took out my card and swiped it through the card reader on the pump so she could fill up her car completely, and while it was fueling, walked to the next door McDonald's and bought 2 big bags of food, some gift certificates for more, and a big cup of coffee. She gave the food to the kids in the car, who attacked it like wolves, and we stood by the pump eating fries and talking a little.

She told me her name, and that she lived in Kansas City. Her boyfriend left 2 months ago and she had not been able to make ends meet. She knew she wouldn't have money to pay rent Jan 1, and finally in desperation had finally called her parents, with whom she had not spoken in about 5 years. They live in California and said she could come live with them and try to get on her feet there.

So she packed up everything she owned in the car. She told the kids they were going to California for Christmas, but not that they were going to live there.

I gave her my gloves, a little hug and said a quick prayer with her for safety on the road. As I was walking over to my car, she said, 'So, are you like an angel or something?'

This definitely made me cry. I said, 'Sweetie, at this time of year angels are really busy, so sometimes God uses regular people.'

It was so incredible to be a part of someone else's miracle. And of course, you guessed it, when I got in my car it started right away and got me home with no problem. I'll put it in the shop tomorrow to check, but I suspect the mechanic won't find anything wrong.

Sometimes the angels fly close enough to you that you can hear the flutter of their wings...Psalms 55:22 'Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee. He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.'

What kinds of changes are you making this year?


12 Days of Christmas
As we return from a wonderful week away in sunny Florida with my family and turn our focus to the next holiday I find myself back to juggling in full force.

I have to fly to Philly on Thursday with a return on Friday just in time to meet Allan at a Client party. He has to be in
Charleston, SC (4 hours away from us) on Thursday as well, so we are in the process of scheduling coverage for the kids!! Saturday Katie is in a Christmas production, then on Sunday we go for our annual ski trip (more on that later).

Then I fly to
Ft. Lauderdale and back on Monday.

Okay, I am exhausted and it is only Monday morning.

I wanted to make you aware of a great blog event going on.

Starting this week m
y friend Karen Ehman has put together a Twelve Days of Christmas give-away.

I'll let Karen describe it in her own words.

So, beginning next Monday, December 1st, I’ll be hosting a 12 Days of CHRISTmas giveaway right here on my little ole’ blog. Each day December 1-12, in addition to giving you some of my most requested yuletide ideas and easy recipes, I’ll also be featuring one of my fellow Proverbs 31 speakers in a short profile and asking them a holiday question. Then, you answer the same question by leaving a comment and you will be entered into the giveaway. Each day will have a different present for you; a helpful book, an inspirational cd, a fooffy-girly gift or giftcard for a Starbucks. The purpose is to give you ideas and a small cyber-break from the hustle and bustle at your house.

Please stop over there and get in on some of the fun!!!

About Me
I am taking some time away from speaking to glean more from God and draw closer to Him. I need to be at home more with my children for a season. I will continue to post on my blog and update you all. I covet your prayers during this new season.
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