Monday, November 30, 2009

Sweet time -

This afternoon I invited the Stone girls to come over and help me decorate our Christmas tree, since I was home alone for a while. I figured having a couple sweet girls to help me make decorating much more fun, and I was right! :) Anna could not come, but Emily and Livvy did, and it was SUCH a blessing having them here with me. I put in some Christmas music and we put up all the decorations, and it looks soooo lovely. :) Thank you so much, girls, for making it so pretty with me! It meant a lot to have informal-friend time at my house. You'll see a couple pics later on in the post of the tree and the ornaments, mainly because I just organized the pics, and I don't want to drag them all the way back up here to be earlier in the post.

Girls, you just cheered up my day! I thank God for both of you!!

Before the girls came, I had whipped up some cookies and put them in the freezer to chill, and so while they were still here, we made a batch, but shocker, shocker - I only took a few pics until after they left. Yes, it's because we were too covered in flour. :)

So, here's the Cookie post! I'm going to type up the recipe for below, because these were 5 star beauties! I took a shortbread cookie recipe and put in some maple syrup for flavoring, because really, I wanted some fall reminders, as well as Christmas fun. :)

We have these adorable and tiny cookie cutters that we used.

Half of the dough, thawing out for a bit.

Waiting for cookies, taking pics of the pin.

Maple leaves, pumpkins, stars, fluted circles and hearts!
The recipe, handwritten. :) Can you read it? haha.

See those scraps? Eat them. We did. Haha.

Eating scraps is a delightful occupation.

The baking counter.

Staring at the clock and begging it to bake faster so you don't snitch yet another cookie off of the unbaked tray. Haha.
Baking -

Whilst waiting, I took pictures of the tree! Ta- DA!

Little wooden Frosty man.

Hey, look, they were both snowmen, I just realized that. *smacks forehead* This is a CB favorite of mine. :)

A Momma favorite. I want to marry a Doctor Sugar. :)

Whilst waiting, go outside and take pictures of whatever so happens to catch your fancy -

Reminders that fall is leaving -

Love it.

Oh, okay. This is me. See the flour on my cheek and nose? Yeah, okay ... I was baking. I'm sure there is no more explanation needed, right?

Mhmm hmm, and please also take note of the rogue curl on the right side of my head, and the fact that I edited this a bit Daguerreotype because I was not wearing makeup, and (cough) didn't want to look like a raccoon from the circles around my eyes.

Did you know that the name raccoon was derived by the early settlers from the Algonquin Indians, namely Chief Powhatan and his daughter Pocahontas who called it a "
ahrah-koon-em" or "Aroughcoune", meaning "the one who scrubs with its hands"? Yes. It's true. And no, I did not have to look that up on Wiki to tell you, but yes, I did have to look up the spelling.

Moving on.

Back inside.

I remembered that I wore a red shirt, and I thought, how cute would it be, if I could take one of the cookies, and hold it against my red shirt! SOO cute, I thought. The only way to take this picture and NOT drop the camera was to put it on the counter and push the shutter button, and hold the cookie against my shirt at mid torso. And so I did. It took me until I got the pictures sorted, uploaded, and starting to edit (seriously, Jean!) that I realized that it might look like it was a "loving baby-belly-pic". *slaps head into keyboard and starts laughing* This might not strike you as true if you are not A: a photographer or B: look at photography blogs all the time.

However. So ... I alternated between total hysterical laughter and wondering if I should put this up, but since it was taken in total innocence and still is totally innocent and because they have turned out to be two of my new favorite pictures because they are soooo cute and such good shots, I am blogging them. I am not pregnant. These are not baby belly pics, although, seriously, how CUTE would that be as a baby pic? Really. I shouldn't have even blogged the idea, and kept it for myself, but they are too cute not to share. Okay. So here they are.

I heart little Maple-y Shortbread cookies.

AAH! I love this picture. :) Hahahaha....going to keep laughing when I see it, though. *shakes head* Ok, ok - so the caption I was thinking as I took it was -

" I :heart: you, Anna Grace!! We missed you, love".

See? Totally fun and so not thinking like what it might look like. Haha. Forgive me? ;)

Mopsie Moosie reeeaally wanted some cookies.
I :heart: sweet little doagie Mopsie.
She :heart's: cookies.
And me, and NO, not in that order!
How dare you .... haha.
Stop feeling sorry for her. She had some.
Step Number #5(don't ask, I just picked a number)while baking - Fall in love with your French rolling pin. Take a picture of it, so you can look at it fondly, and thank God for it. Kiss the pin, and be grateful that such a wonderful thing was ever made. It made the cookies perfect.

SEE? Even the cookies :heart: my French rolling pin!
.... is this too much? Tell me now .... (laughing)

Last but not least, Momma's trusty and faintly rusty sifter.
I do believe we are buying her a new one for Christmas. :)

Viola! The lovely and charming result of, actually, not that much work!
It looks like more than what it was. I sent home 1/3 of the batch with my Christmas tree workers and to Anna with specified instructions on which cookies go to Anna ... I should probably check with them on this hugely important detail and make sure it was carried out in full.

Or not.

They were worth it. And the cookies were worth making! It was a sweet time of fellowship, a sweet time of decorating, a sweet time of singing, a sweet time for eating, and a sweet memory, thank the Lord, and thanks, darling friends! Twas a great way to end November '09.

And now ... The recipe! I got the original recipe from Martha, you can see it here. It was written up for Scottie-dog-shaped cookies, but I wanted fall leaves. So fall leaves I made. And I wanted fall leaves that tasted like maple syrup, so fall leaves that tasted like maple syrup I made. Here's the recipe, with my alterations to it - it gets 5 stars from me!

Maple Shortbread Cookies -


~ 2 cups all purpose flour
~ 3/4 tsp. salt
~ 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp (I used salted)
~ 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
~ 1 rounded tsp. vanilla extract
~ 2 1/2 tsp. of pure maple syrup or more, depending how rogue and how maple-y you want them (real stuff, no Aunt Jemima's now!)


1. Sift flour and salt, set aside.

2. Whip butter in blender, about 3 minutes or until light colored and fluffy, add confectioners sugar and cream again, for about 2 mins., add vanilla and maple syrup.

3. Add flour mix, combine on low speed until flour is mixed in and dough sticks together.

4. Separate the dough into 2 portions, and wrap each half in plastic wrap, making sure that no part is open to the air, flattening them into round discs(if you are like me, they will be rounded squares, who cares!), and chilling them an hour in the freezer.

5. Take dough out about 15 mins. before you are ready to work with it. Sprinkle flour on the counter, unwrap frozen dough, sprinkle tiny amount of flour on top. Leave it. Walk away. Do not touch, do not eat. Do not slap against counter to watch it break. Trust me.

6. After 15 mins, come back and it should give under firm pressure from your index finger, if it doesn't, give it a bit more time. Take your rolling pin, and slowly and firmly (but not TOO hard, remember this is Shortbread, delicate and crumbly) roll it out to 1/4 inch thickness (mine was about 3/8ths, but who was measuring? hahaha), cut it out with cookie cutters (dipped in flour first), and scoop up with a serving spatula (to keep from them breaking on you) upon Stoneware, or parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for 15 mins.

7. Remove carefully with spatula onto parchment paper or a wire rack to cool, or like I did, paper on top of the wire rack. EAT. Enjoy. Relish with wild abandon. Put in mouth, do not chew, and feel it melt into maple wonder. Oh my word. They are sooo good.

8. Repeat with second disc. Warning: if you plan to do both discs one after the other, while you are cutting out cookies from the first disc, you NEED to be thawing out the second one. But don't get them out at the same time, because with shortbread you want it to be firm and cold when it goes in the oven. That's why you only roll out the dough twice, or at the most, three times, cutting your edges as close as you can (no pun intended, haha), because it will warm and soften too much. And that's also why you eat the last little scraps. Because they are not worth baking. But they are SO worth eating.

If you have any huge amounts of questions, you can e-mail me. I doubt you will, though. They are really very easy, and made about 4 dozen little cookies, tea sized, but would make about 20 normal sized cookies? I'm guessing. We have about 1 1/2 dozen here, because, ahem. Someone ate some. :)

Long post, eh? Sweet times, sweet times. Thanks for readin', ya'll.

With love for sweet times,
for the Savior who loves me with wild abandon,
Whom I need more than the air I breath,
and in Whom I rest -
~ Jean Marie

A quote this morning from a dear friend set my heart to rest in the Lord -
"Through the deepest possible pain GOD IS ENOUGH. God is enough. He is good. He will take care of us. He will satisfy us. He will get us through this. He is our treasure - 'Whom have I in heaven but you? And on earth there is nothing that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever' .... God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him - in the midst of loss, not prosperity" ~ John Piper

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 -

A precious day of Thanksgiving
to the Lord Who gave us all,
Who became all,
Who giveth and taketh all,
Who bestows us with mercies
and lovingkindness,
and promises to uphold and keep us,
all of our very days,
may you so thank Him for it, today!!!

This year,
although our family is complete together,
all four of us,
we miss some very dear people:
our usual guests: Mr. & Mrs. G!
my dad's grandparents,
and some people who have now joined those
who sit at the Thanksgiving feasts of all
Thanksgiving feasts in the Heavens
with our precious Lord and Savior.

So, I'm just going to link back to last year's post.
I just read it through, and though thinking back,
to last year's Thanksgiving celebration and
thinking of today is hard ....
the Lord is still to be praised,
for wondrous things He hath done!

Thanksgiving '08, a Time of Praise

You can also see more of our celebration
from last year, complete with one darling
Sadie Beth M., our Irish lass,
who had her first Thanksgivin' last year. :)
Click here, and here for more coverage.

"Increase my love, O my God,
through time and eternity."

~ Jean Marie ~

Gourds upon a windowsill at
(Longfellow's)The Wayside Inn,
in Sudbury, MA.

Click here for an excellent account on the Pilgrim Fathers
by Pastor Marcus Serven - it's like being there with the pilgrims,
and seeing what they had, and hearing what was said! :)
Thank you, Pastor Serven for this overview of that day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful for: Promise -

"For now we see through a glass, darkly,
but then face to face.
Now I know in part;
but then shall I know,
even as also I am known."
(1 Cor. 13:8)

Thankful for -
God's unfailing faithfulness.

Thankful for promises -
for the coming joy of the day,
when at last my Savior's face I'll see,
when the glass that was dark
is no longer there,
what once was so wretched and
my deepest, darkest valley
becomes beautiful as I see it
through the eyes of the
Son of God
who redeemed it so.

One day, that dark glass,
it will not just be clear,
wiped clean with the blood of the Lamb,
it will be shattered,
the veil torn,
the stone removed,
the fog and mist cleared,
the curtain lifted ....
one day -
His face we'll see!!
How I long for that day,
more than before.

~ Jean Marie ~

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for: Light -

Today -
I'm thankful for light.
I'm thankful I can see it,
I can feel it,
I can seemingly touch it,
I can edit pictures of it,
I'm thankful it fills every single
day that I live ....
it even fills the dark days,
because the Light inside
is more powerful than
any little darkness there will
ever, ever be.

Praise be to our Father in Heaven,
Who knows our every need,
and gives us light -

~ Jean Marie ~

Sunflare - I:Heart:Faces

This week at I:heart:faces is sunflare week.
Can there be a week I love better?
I subject that into - not. :)

So, I had about 5 photos with sunflare in them...
but nothing stirred my heart's memories
as much as this cold February dusk in Ohio,
resting against such a strong and smooth tree,
that sheltered me from the 34 degree
gusting winds and
letting me rest in quiet reflection.

So it's my cold Feb. winter sunflare entry.
The streaming sun warmed me there,
like the memory does now -
soft, warm, gentle, strong.

Here's to all kinds of sunflare -
winter, summer, autumn, and spring! :)

~ Jean Marie ~
Psalm 103

.... and yes, for the whole 2 hour photoshoot,
I was freezing and laughing about the
possibility of never thawing out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

24 yrs...and counting -

"And there's no one
That comes close to you,
Could ever take your place
'Cause only you can love me this way"
(by: Keith Urban)

24 yrs. ago
Edward and Mary Ellen
on a fall CA day,
and today - we celebrate their
holy union as husband and wife!

(we also celebrate with
Tilapia and grits for dinner
and thoughts of Thanksgiving pies,
but that seems rather ...
out of the point right now)

24 yrs. ... of this:
Christlike obedience.
Serving each other.
Laying down for another.
Letting go.

Godly marriage on full display:
for their little childrens.

.... and still on display, after 24 yrs.
To their now not-so-little childrens ....

Kimberly, firstborn daughter -

Jean Marie, secondborn daughter -
May 2007

Being mutual helpmeets,
and working together.

Closeness & Hugging.
Renewing Calvinist
and most importantly -
every day.
(Ligonier 09,
holding some Winslow and Edwards)

Their marriage isn't perfect, but it is real,
and I know that they both work really hard at it.
It has taught me what a husband must be,
and what a wife must be,
and how an earthly marriage
under the grace of God becomes
such a jewel on this earth.

To 24 years, Daddy and Momma!
To many, many more
Happy Anniversaries!

You hold my love,
now and always,
through the sunshine,
through the rain,
through the storms,
and through the pain ...
You will always have my love,
and respect.

Your youngest,
~ Jean Marie ~

(A hilarious look back at their 23rd
Happy Anniversary blogpost tribute)


Oh, and Sadie Beth,
our dear "3rd daughter in England"
wanted to say something too,
per my great intellect, of course. :)
(I'm kidding....)

Dear Mr and Mrs Fambrough -

I knew it was a time for thanksgiving and for anniversaries, even before I started chatting to Jean. Tomorrow will be exactly one year since I landed in Orlando airport and was back in your loving presence. Earlier this month, it was two years since I first met you both (and, of course, Jean and Kimberly) in person. And I knew that it was almost Thanksgiving, and that last year I was there with you.

Then, Jean told me that she was working on a post for your wedding anniversary and invited me to contribute. (
Jean:Muwahaahaa!!! .... oh.)

And now, I'm sitting here, thinking about my memories of you both..... Remembering the way in which you welcomed a relative stranger (and a Brit at that) into your world, remembering Mr Fambrough's sense of humour and Mrs Fambrough's sweet words, remembering delicious chicken salad and the way in which the dishes were washed up afterwards :-D, remembering my first ever Thanksgiving - with you, remembering you both holding hands in Mount Dora, and then kissing while Jean took your picture.... Truly happy memories of you both. I pray that God would bless you both very much on your wedding anniversary, and that you would continue to bring joy to others, as you have brought it to me.

Your Sadie Beth

Holding hands in Mt. Dora.

Kissing while Jean took the picture. :)
(and shrieking with joy, I might add)

"Love never fails.
But whether there be prophecies,
they shall fail;
whether there be tongues,
they shall cease;
whether there be knowledge,
it shall vanish away.

For we know in part,
and we prophesy in part.

But when that which is perfect is come,
then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child,
I understood as a child,
I thought as a child;
but when I became a man,
I put away childish things.

For now we see through a glass,
darkly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part; but then I shall know,
even as also I am known.

And now abides faith, hope, love,
these three;
but the greatest of these is love."
~ 1 Cor. 13:8-13 NKJV ~

.... leave a comment if you'd like! :) ....

I'm thankful for you, Daddy and Momma!!

Ev'ry woe He sees -

Last night I couldn't get this old-(er) song
out of my head,
one that we used to sing
when I was young,
that used to play on Sunday mornings,
its words rang so true in my mind,
through the recesses of my heart,
that I knew I should post it here.
Some of you may know it -

"No one Understands like Jesus"(John W. Peterson)
"No one understands like Jesus;
He's a Friend beyond compare.

Meet Him at the throne of mercy;
He is waiting for You there.

No one understands like Jesus,
when the days are dark and grim.
No one is so near, so dear as Jesus;
cast your every care on Him.

Verse 2:
No one understands like Jesus;
Every woe He sees and feels.
Tenderly He whispers comfort,
and the broken heart He heals.

(repeat chorus)

Verse 3:
No one understands like Jesus
when the foes of life assail.
You should never be discouraged;
Jesus cares and will not fail.

(repeat chorus)

Verse 4:
No one understands like Jesus
when you falter on the way.
Though you fail Him, sadly fail Him,
He will pardon You today.

(repeat chorus)


"Man of Sorrows,
What a Name!
For the Son of God Who came!
Ruined sinners,
to reclaim!
What a Savior!"


The first of this week's daily
Thanksgiving posts -
on things that we might not always think of
when we say "Thank you" for -
around the holidays.

Today, I'm thankful for:
My Faithful Friend
Who will never fail me,
and understands
my every sorrow -
I'm thankful for Jesus,
the Man of Sorrows -
who claimed me.

~ Jean Marie~

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear Ethan -

Dear Ethan ...

I haven't wanted to write this post, because then it might really mean that you aren't resting in your Mama's arms anymore; but I know that tonight and every night ever after you are gazing with wonder into the beautiful and loving face of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I heard you went into the Mansions of the Lord Jesus 8 days ago, I heard you ran forth into that glorious Land to the sound of your parents cheering and praying you in, I heard you left our land to go to our true Home in the wee, breaking hours ... of the dawning morning.

"Every morning that breaks,
there are mercies anew,

every breath I will take

is Your faithfulness proved
and at the end of each day,

when my labors are through,
I will sing of Your mercies anew."
(2001 Sovereign Grace Music)

I cannot believe it has been 2 weeks since I first met really didn't want to smile at me at first, not until you saw Mrs. Serven, and you laughed as she touched your hand ... and soon afterwards, you relaxed and smiled into my face unreservedly. As I sang your name, held your hand, and brushed your soft brown hair off your beautiful forehead, you captured my heart, little man .... you and your Mama together.

Your Mama - clearly loved you to distraction .... and I watched her hurry downstairs to get a wet paper towel and wipe your little feet and hands and swipe your flushed cheeks, "gettin' all clean", I said, as I tickled your tummy, and listened to you chuckle and talked to your daddy.

I knew that every moment I spent with you was special, sweet boy, because you would see Jesus sooner than we would, and that your parents had known for a long time .... I'm sure you touched more than one life with your precious and joyous spirit, even though I only knew you for a few hours. You made a difference to me, Ethan, and I praise Jesus for you!!

"Praise Him, praise Him,
all ye little children,
God is love, God is love;
Praise Him, praise Him,
all ye little children,
God is love, God is love."

Ethan's Mama, Mrs. Y., and Ethan, and Julie K.

At first, unsure of me ...

Not so, when Mrs. Serven appeared -

... soon, you rarely stopped smiling ...

Some other people talked to your mama then, and I stepped away to get some water, but I saw you look around and occasionally, your glance would rest on me, and when I waved, you would burst into one of the most beautiful smiles I ever have seen...and I melted with love for you, little boy.
I left that day, knowing I had met you, Ethan, you who I have prayed for, and thought of, you and all your family ....

The very morning, one week ago, that I learned you left our land to enter the riches and glories of Heaven's joys, that very morning, before I learned, I had been scrolling through my pictures of you, smiling at your dear face, and thinking of the post that would say "To Mrs.Y", and then ... and now .... it is so very different than what I wanted it to say, and yet, it was everything I wanted it to say.

.... I love you, sweet Ethan, and will treasure every minute memory I have of you giggling at me, and holding onto my fingers, and the way you listened to your daddy's voice, smiled into your mama's eyes, and the very memory of your smile.

.... I know so many loved you more than I, especially your family.

.... and I take comfort, knowing that Jesus, He loved you best.

I know you listen to the angels sing and the people cry out all day long, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, and worthy is He to be praised!", but I want to post in your honor, and for our comfort, a favorite hymn of mine ....

In the comfort of our Lord,
He doeth all things well,

~ Jean Marie
Psalm 103

Dearest Y. family - I love you, and am praying for you. Many hugs to Mrs. Y. :)

"Children of the Heavenly Father" (1858)
A Swedish hymn by: Karolina W. Sandell-Berg.
"Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers,
Your Protector never slumbers;
at the will of your Defender
every foeman must surrender.

More secure is no one ever
than the loved ones of the Savior;
not yon star on high abiding
nor the bird in home-nest hiding."