Cinnamon Puppy Chow

A delicious twist on a Holiday Classic……because sometimes, I amaze myself with my Ah-ha! Grocery Store Moments.

  Ok, ok, fine.  

  I am sure, someone, somewhere, has made this into a recipe…

  BUT, I was standing in the cereal aisle getting ready to buy some regular Chex for Puppy Chow when I saw the Cinnamon Chex.  I was like HMMMM, Chocolate and cinnamon are amazing together, I think I will sneak some into this years Puppy Chow.

  Needless to say, Dale went crazy.  “What is in this? Something is different, but it’s SO good!”

Thankyou, thankyouverymuch.  

Cinnamon Puppy Chow

{click title for easy printable}

Cinnamon Puppy Chow txt

  • 2 boxes Chex Cereal: 13 Oz Cinnamon Chex & 16 Oz Corn Chex {18 Cups Total}
  • 2 cups Chocolate Chips  {What about some cinnamon chips?!?!?! I think so!}
  • 1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar

On the stove top, melt butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips together at low heat. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
Working with 9 cups of cereal at a time in a large bowl, pour half the chocolate peanut butter mix over your Chex and carefully stir.

Transfer to 2 gallon zip-lock bags. Add the remaining cereal to your bowl and the rest of the melted chocolate peanut butter mixture. Stir carefully then transfer to 2 more gallon zip-lock bags. Divide 3 cups of powdered sugar between all 4 bags and shake away.

Store all together in one large Tupperware making sure to stir the coated cinnamon chex in to the regular ones very well.

OH MY Cinnamon-y Deliciousness!!!!!

~T

Butterscotch Bites

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We have been Christmas Treat baking FOOLS at our house lately!!!! We are making Christmas Kisses, Rolo Candy Pretzels, Caramel Roll Cookies, Chocolate Dipped Spritz Cookies, Buckeyes, and of course, Spiced Crackers.  I’d be dead meat if I didn’t make … Continue reading

{Guest Post} God’s Love: The Greatest Gift of All

Mary Kate contacted me and asked if she could share a Christ-based object lesson with you all today. I thought that was a fantastic idea!  Kids love object lessons, and this one would be great to do with the cousins at Christmas, in Kids Church, or a Sunday School setting.

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Mary Kate writes at Christianity Cove, please make her feel welcome here at 4 little Fergusons! :)
Hugs, T

gods love the greatest gift

God’s Love – The Greatest Gift Of All

Jesus’ life certainly had humble beginnings. It’s important during the holidays to portray greatness, not in the amount of gifts we get, but in allowing God’s love to fill us, like it filled Jesus throughout his birth, life and death on the cross.

Materials

  • Balloon, not blown up (but you can stretch it out by blowing once)
  • A bouncy ball, the size of a volley ball (easily purchased at the supermarket—and you can put it under the tree for your own child!)
  • A safety pin

Preparation

Hide the bouncy ball.

Lesson

Hold up the un-blown balloon.

Jesus’ life started very humbly. You would not have known him from anybody else. In fact, you might have thought he was less fortunate than others.

Shake the balloon a little and let it wilt over your hand.

He was born in a manger. He had no clothes. His parents were essentially homeless, having left Nazareth to go to some census. Mary and Joseph were working class. They were often sweaty and grimy and worried about the economy. Why do you think God chose people like this to bear his only son?

Because God doesn’t care about things like riches or prestige. He looks at people’s hearts.

Mary and Joseph had very good hearts. If Jesus had anything in his favor, coming into this world as a baby, that was it.

Blow into the balloon. Depending on its size, blow a little or a lot. After nine blows, you want it close to its full size without popping. Pinch it off.

Looks can be deceiving. The baby Jesus actually had a lot going for him. In that region, there were shepherds watching over their flocks by night. And an angel of the lord appeared to them and said, “Do not be afraid. For lo, I bring you tidings of incredible joy. For born to you this night, in the City of David, is a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Blow into the balloon. Pinch it off.

And suddenly appeared a multitude of angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest!”

Blow into the balloon. Pinch it off.

The shepherds came to see this miracle baby. And coming from afar were three Wise Men, bearing gifts of gold, frank incense and myrrh. They were following a star that shown brightly over Bethlehem.

Blow into the balloon. Pinch it off.

And Joseph was warned in a dream that King Herod might try to kill Jesus, knowing he was the Messiah. And the family escaped to Egypt.

Blow into the balloon. Pinch it off.

And when they returned, the boy was raised humbly, in Nazareth, a working class town containing nobody special.

Blow into the balloon. Pinch it off.

Except one. The king of kings. But you wouldn’t know it to look at him. Nobody knew! Not until he started performing miracles as a grown man. And he healed the blind and the sick.

Blow into the balloon. Pinch it off.

And he walked on water and calmed a storm.

Blow into the balloon. Pinch it off.

And he fed 5,000 in one place and 2,000 in another on a couple loaves and some fish.

Blow into the balloon. Pinch it off.

You would think this man would now be so loved and so famous. His own disciples thought he was going to ascend the throne in Jerusalem and they would be…

Tie a knot in the balloon and hold it up.

princes and royalty, who would serve out a royal kingship forever! What started with a humble quiet Christmas should have ended with bigness and greatness. But lots of men were jealous of Jesus. They wanted to take his powers away. They wanted to…

Pick up the pin, stick it in the balloon, and break it.

kill him. And they did.

Hold up the broken balloon.

A humble life starts on Christmas and ends on Good Friday, 33 years later.

Lay the balloon down with some sadness.

Or does it? We’re here today and we celebrate Christmas every year in hope. We know that humble beginnings make for great endings, no matter what. We’re waiting for Jesus to come back. Only this time, He’ll be in a different form…

Bring out the bouncy ball.

Matthew 24:42 says, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

Bounce it a couple times.

Let’s remember that the best gift we get on Christmas is a chance to be humble, to be like Jesus, who is coming back great…and who will make us great too! We just have to believe.

Have the students form a circle and bounce the ball to each other, thanking God for something “simple” with each bounce.

  If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out my Ultimate Mom Challenge Christian Parenting Cheat Sheets! It’s an extensive guide of challenges designed to help your family put Christ and His love and joy back into various holidays throughout the year!

Mary Kate Warner

Mary-Kate is a regular blogger at Christianity Cove. You can often find her writing about Christian Motherhood, Homeschool Teaching, Bible Study and Sunday School Activities, Faith and inspiring children to love God.

4 Frosty Little Fergusons

  Over Winter Break we had our second snow of the Season and it came down on and off for 2 days!  It was SOOOO beautiful! 

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The results of Paxton’s first Snow Ball Fight:

Something is cold and yucky on my face……..

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I don’t like it!

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Get it off! {sniff sniff} Please?

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I don’t think I liked that game very much.

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  Push us down the hill, Daddy!  Ahhh! NOT BACKWARDS!

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  Hey, that was fun, do it again! 

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Be still my heart.

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Dale: “Hey guys, want to know what happens when a Squirrel lands in a tree?”

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That was AWESOME!

Pax: “Whatcha doin’ guys?”
Kids: “Do it again, Daddy! DO IT AGAIN!”

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Pax: “Cold!”

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  I figure if we are going to have cold temps, it might as well be white and GORGEOUS outside, right?!

~T

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Back to Life, Back to Reality

    I have the song stuck in my head today: Back to life, back to reality.   Ugh.  Winter Break was great and I am SO sad to see everyone back to school and work routine! 

  I think I enjoyed this break extra much, because after a busy end of the year push, I am all caught up on photo editing for the Season.  That means I am actually enjoying taking photos of my own family again. {This is something I want to take into consideration next year when taking sessions.} 

  After all the Christmas Celebrations passed, we had lots of time left to just enjoy each other before the break was over and Daddy had to go back to work.  We didn’t make any big plans, just hanging out, reading, doing crafts and playing games.

We introduced the kids to the game Guessturesthat my mom has from back in the day. They still make it, so it must be a keeper.  It was so fun!

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  There was lots of Lego building and Lincoln Log constructing over break.

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Thank you Sock Bun, for making it look like I have time to curl my daughter’s hair!

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Wednesday night church party:

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Dale decided to teach me Texas Hold ‘Em over break.  Lets just say I kicked some booty!  I like Beginners Luck!  Poker Collage txt
Second and third night we played? Not so much beginners luck leftover, bummer.

The girls got this cute kitchen for one of their Christmas gifts from us.  After they went to bed one night, I decided to play a trick on them.

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I had their Dolls trash the kitchen and raid it of ALL it’s sweet things!

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 Oh such NAUGHTY little girls!  I think they have tummy aches.
My girls thought it was pretty stinkin’ hysterical!

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  We went to the library for new books, and I even got some!  I spent a few quiet nap times with a bowl of soup and a super good Christian fiction.  Oh, how I have missed reading a grown up book!

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  There was plenty of time for Crafts after 2 days of beautiful snow, YAY!  I will share more about this particular snowy day craft another day.  

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There is always time for a chapter book before bed, this time it’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle

And lets not forget all the Plays that were put on!

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Tomorrow will feature 4 frosty little Fergusons, from our snow day fun!

Snow day

~T

Christmas Break: Part 2

  This is post 2 for today.  I KNEW WordPress was going to be grumpy at me for all those pics! I just had to try 4 times to get it to stick.  Smile  It is so important to me to document all these special moments, because I would still love to someday print off these blog posts in a book for my kids.

  Anyhow, for the 2nd time ever, we had a quiet Christmas at home on Christmas day. We LOVED it!  We used to have to have everyone dressed nice, food prepped, presents opened and never played with, to be out the door by 11.  This time, we had a leisurely brunch and Birthday party for Jesus, followed by the Christmas story, presents and PLAYTIME!  After nap we headed to be with the family.  It was just right!

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  If you follow us on 4 little Ferguson’s Facebook page, you will already know this story, but I sent out an SOS for uses for Rhode’s Rolls.  Dale and I had gutted and cleaned out our huge chest freezer, and for some reason, one basket got left out…..OF COURSE, it was the Rhodes Roll basket, so the next morning he brings in 3 BURSTING bags of Rhodes rolls for me to quick figure out what to do with.  You all were so helpful!  In the end, I made a double batch of these yummy Bierocks, some Pigs In A Blanket for lunch, and a Cream Cheese Tea Ring for Jesus’ Birthday party the next day.  This suggestion came from Liz, over at that Skinny Chick Can Bake. She has such great recipes, and this one did NOT disappoint!  It is SO pretty and not too sweet, either.  Well, hers is so pretty, mine was NOT. 

  Go check out her post for the recipe, I think you will want to make it!

Holiday Cream Cheese Tea Ring by That Skinny Chick Can Bake

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The kids played while we cleaned up the kitchen…..

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Then it was time for the Christmas story.  Destiny was proud we used her Bible this year.PicMonkey Collage 3

Things started off well and everyone sat quietly….well, kind of.

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After a brief talking-to by Daddy, and a punishment of sitting on their hands to learn to keep them to themselves, story time continued…..quietly this time.  Smile

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Next, Tylan shared the Symbols of Christmas, that he made in school.

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Look Mom, J is for Jesus!

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Present time! 3 for each kiddo, just like Baby Jesus….and I am proud to say, nothing required batteries this year, so it was a peaceful Christmas. 

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Oh, forgot Paxton’s tractor flashlight. Guess it needed batteries, but everything else did not.

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Thanks to some Dog loving friends of ours, even Sophie had a present under the tree this year.

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About this time, Destiny noticed our cat, Stripes crying at the window.  She felt it was such a shame he couldn’t join in our Christmas fun, so we let him in for a bit.  He was in Cat HEAVEN, Sophie was NOT impressed, but they did end up napping together for a bit.

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   Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good night!
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  Tomorrow is Weekend Potluck like normal, but on Monday, I will share some photos of the fun things we did on our break, and the first good SNOW of the season!!!!!

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Hugs, T

Christmas Break: Part I

  I have my babies home for 17 WHOLE DAYS this Christmas Break and I absolutely love it!  Yes, its noisy, yes, pre-vacuuming, the carpet looked like I hadn’t swept in a month, yes, there are moments of sheer chaos that can make me lose my cool, but overall? I’d keep them home with me ALWAYS.  Bonus: Dale takes the week off before Christmas and through New Years since no one really wants to see their insurance agent, so we got to enjoy him home, too! :)  It’s ALWAYS more fun when Daddy is home!

  We had several Christmas celebrations and events that I am sharing with you today via a bazillion pics. :)  I know, I know, you aren’t surprised! 

~T

Destiny and her cousin Brooklyn, singing solos in Sunday service.  They did fantastic!Collage 1IMG_7134

Preschool Christmas service, my little shepherd boy only made it as far as my aisle.  He then feel asleep on Grandpa’s lap. Collage 1

Christmas with my side of the family…plus, my Uncle and Aunt from Phoenix were in town!  It was fun to see them, and Great Grandpa got to come home from the Nursing Home to be with us, so it was extra special!  My kids LOOOOOVE to go to Uncle Dan & Aunt Gena’s house!

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Siblings minus one

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Grandpa’s buddy

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Uncle Dan’s infamous “swing”

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I told Great Grandma, Nana and Aunt Gena, NO TOYS this year!  So they were clever and thought of really neat gifts for the kids.  Nana got us an early gift of Adventure In Odyssey Cd’s for our trip to Georgia.  Great Grandma got the kids pencil sharpeners, erasers and a neat chair stacking game, and Aunt Gena made coupons for the kids to go see The Music Man play with her when it comes to town. COOL!

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On the eve of Christmas Eve, we always have Dales dad and siblings over.  We made a delicious Coke Ham, so easy and so yummy!

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Uncle Mike got Paxton this HUGE Sock Monkey to add to his collection of bedtime friends.  He LOVED it!  “Beeg BEEEG Monkey,” he says.

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Ty and Avery have a built in cousin friend about the same age, so they had soo much fun playing together.  The boys played with the race track and the girls, well they musta been having fun, because we didn’t see them much!

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All this playing is hard work!

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Time for a Christmas movie before heading home….

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All the cousins in jammies!

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  Next up, Christmas evening at Grandpa Kirk & Grandma Eileen’s house. Grandma Eileen picked up these darling horse marionette puppets for the kids. They had fun dancing them around and making them gallop on the kitchen floor.

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I didn’t get another shot after this, guess I was having too much fun laughing until I cried, playing Loaded Questions.
I am telling you, that game is HYSTERICAL for a group, I highly recommend it!

That’s enough pics for this post!  Head on over to the next post of our Family Christmas. Smile

Born In Me

  In preparation for Christmas, I have been trying to keep my posts Holiday centered this week.  Today, I want to share with you, a very well done video of a BEAUTIFUL song called, “Born In Me” {Mary} by Francesca Battistelli.  Please take a moment to watch!

I know I have been sharing a lot from the archives for this countdown to Christmas week, and I hope that doesn’t bother you. Sometimes, you just can’t say it better than the first time! :)

May Jesus be real to you today, as you prepare to celebrate His birth in the coming days….

Hugs, T

From the Christmas archives:

One Family, One Journey. One Child who would change the world forever.

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Have you seen the movie: The Nativity Story?

It was so good for me to emotionally go on that journey with Mary & Joseph. It made things very real to me.

I mean, can you imagine how difficult it was for Mary, an unwed teen, to be scoffed by her friends who think she’s nuts, when she says she has never been with a man, but is pregnant anyways? Or how about having to tell her parents the big news: Did she wait until she was showing, or tell them right away?

How about feeling the threat of DEATH by stoning looming over her head, should Joseph choose to file charges against her?! I wonder, since her parents choose Joseph as her betrothed, does she even know him that well at this point?

Or love him?

Does she know enough about him to think he’ll believe her story? How scary to not know what will happen next!

Although Joseph’s initial reaction was to break the engagement, totally acceptable in that day, he treated Mary with such kindness. What a gentleman! He didn’t want to cause her further shame, so he decided to act quietly. I am so glad God chose to send an angel to Joseph in a dream, to verify Mary’s story, that way, he could be reassured that his marriage to her WAS God’s will after all.

When the angel explained that the child within Mary was indeed conceived by the Holy Spirit, that his name would be Jesus and that he was the Messiah, God with us, did he freak out!? Did he sit in wonder and awe? Don’t you think he lay awake the rest of the night, thinking of what his life with Mary was going to be like?

 Parents of THE MESSIAH?

That is some heavy thinking for the middle of the night! He willingly took Mary to be his wife, knowing they were being looked down upon in their town. Maybe this noble quality is one of the reasons God chose Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus.

And later, as they are married and traveling to Bethlehem, I was shocked to see footage of Joseph’s bloody, calloused feet. I had never thought of this before, but why wouldn’t they be? They walked the approximately 60-90 miles to Bethlehem, where the census was taken.

Poor Mary, riding or walking that long journey, big and pregnant. I bet her baby pressed on her bladder, making them stop often, I bet the heat was unbearable at times, I bet nights were spent in discomfort, sleeping on the hard ground.

How about going into labor in a town far away from her mother and all things familiar? A newly married young woman, who had never been intimate with a man, giving birth to her first child, who also just happens to be the Savior of the world!!!!

Do you remember that feeling, as you realized you were about to give birth to your first-born? I mean actually bring them into the world.  Those emotions you felt, as you anticipated, yet dreaded the labor part. Did sweet Mary cry for her momma? Did she squeeze Joseph’s hand as hard as she could as she contracted? Was he a good coach? Did she trust him to help safely deliver this precious child in a stable, or was she afraid even though the angel said, “fear not”?

Nativity

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Oh, the joy she must have felt, as she lifted that precious child in her arms, counted his ten tiny fingers and toes, and marveled at all that had just occurred.

How overwhelmed she must have been, as she looked around their humble dwelling, wondering what she had to offer the King of Kings?

Wondering about this babe, who would grow into a toddler full of questions:When would they know, that he knew, He was the King of Kings? A look in his eye? The words from his mouth? Did she wonder what kind of challenges that would create?

And what about when all those stinky Shepherds showed up? Exhausted and emotional, what was she feeling as they came and touched her new baby? You know how protective first time moms are! Did she wish she could have them wash up first?

As the shepherds left, they were still praising and glorifying God, but sweet Mary kept quiet, treasuring their words and pondering them in her heart. Don’t you think at that moment, it must have been beyond her ability to grasp, that sleeping in her arms—the precious child she had just worked so hard to bring into the world—was the Savior of the World. Wow!

How real everything becomes, as you watch in this movie, and see those precious little lives lost, as Herod in fear of the newborn King, commands all the baby boys under the age of 2 to be killed. Oh, the heartache of those mothers, screaming as their baby sons were ripped from their arms and slain, I just wept and wept.  Such mourning happened in those towns in the months to follow, as broken-hearted mothers put back the pieces of their shattered lives.

I have to wonder, as Mary and Joseph were told by the angel to flee in the night to safety, how old was Jesus at the time? A little boy full of questions? Or still a newborn babe?  Did Mary’s pumping adrenaline kick in?  Did those ‘mother bear’ instincts get her through? Or was she paralyzed with fear, and have to be prompted by Joseph to, “Stop crying and pack!” so they could get going? How did she manage? I can’t imagine what she was feeling, still in a foreign land, far from home, now fleeing to Egypt to be refugees there!!  And wait, Mary’s journey isn’t done yet, still later, another dream tells them to return back home, FINALLY!  Who knows how many years later this occurred?! What a STRONG woman!

Watching this movie was eye-opening to say the least!  It is my hope, that this Christmas, you will celebrate the humble beginnings of our Lord and King. and remember, just how real this was to a newlywed couple in Bethlehem, who experienced a life changing, WORLD changing moment…..as they held our Lord and Savior in their arms and kissed his sweet head.

 

Dear Abby,

This is post 2 for today, be sure to head back one post for Bacon & Swiss Salad, a MUST HAVE at all our Family Holiday Functions!

From the archives:

Dear Abby,

Everything in my life is going wrong! What seemed like the ideal dream has become an unending nightmare. Only a few weeks ago everything seemed perfect: I had just graduated from school with honors. My girlfriend and I got engaged the same day my father made me a full partner in his construction business. I was so pumped . . . and definitely in love. Life seemed complete. Even my faith was at an all‑time high.

It all started falling apart one Friday when my fiancée met me after work. She looked like something was wrong . . . but I couldn’t get her to talk about it. So we went to a basketball game that evening, but my head wasn’t in it. My imagination was running wild.

Didn’t she love me anymore? Did she want to call off the wedding? Did she have cancer?

The questions kept coming. I was a nervous wreck. Afterward, we went out for dessert. She didn’t say anything for a long time. Finally, she whispered the words I hadn’t even dared to think:

“I’m pregnant!”

Then she burst into tears. I was stunned.

“You? But we haven’t even . . .”

A wave of nausea hit me as I realized the horrible truth: Since it wasn’t me, it had to be someone else.

“Who was he?” I forced myself to ask.   I couldn’t decide if I really wanted to know.

She looked down, “I can’t tell you,” she said, “You wouldn’t understand. I just want you to know I still love you and want to be your wife!”

If you loved me you wouldn’t be in the condition you’re in,” I snapped.

I couldn’t help seeing the love in that face I’d come to cherish. Abby, I knew I still loved her with my heart, that’s why I hurt so much. How could I continue to love someone who slept around? I was too shocked to say anything the rest of the evening. I paid the bill, took her home, and drove away.

Although I’ve never been very emotional, I cried myself to sleep. I woke up early the next morning angry & full of questions.

How could she do this to me? Didn’t she love me? Hadn’t we promised to save ourselves for each other? Who was he? How long had they been sleeping together? How could they manage to see each other without me even suspecting? Didn’t she believe in the standard God had set for relationships?

I went all week without seeing or calling her. I just couldn’t. My heart ached. My stomach burned. My head pounded nonstop. Then she showed up today just as I was closing shop.

 ”I’ve made arrangements to leave town for a while,” she said. “I think it’s best for you & me & for our families. I’ll be staying at my cousin’s place downstate.”

I must have been frowning because she added, “Don’t worry, my love, I’ll be in good hands.”

She handed me a piece of paper with a phone number where I could reach her & then left. I haven’t heard from her since, and that was 3 months ago.

Abby, what should I do now? I can’t imagine going ahead with the engagement. My trust in her has been destroyed. Still, the thought of walking away leaves me even more confused. The shame and embarrassment of being pregnant and not married in our small town would make her the target of endless harassment.

On the other hand, if I stand by her & pretend that the child is mine, I’d destroy my reputation . . . something I don’t think I’m willing to risk to cover her selfish mistake.

My gut feeling is to break off the engagement & try to forget what happened. I care too much for her to make an ugly scene. Maybe I could tell our friends that it was my idea to break up & she had to get out-of-town to escape the pain of my decision?

Abby, I want to do the right thing. But I just can’t decide. Should I stay with her regardless of what others think? Or should I quietly break off the engagement and try to get on with my life?

Signed,

A Devastated Boyfriend

And then came the reply:

Dear Devastated Boyfriend,

Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. What’s conceived in her is from Holy Spirit, Christ is in her. You’ll see. Just open the door of your heart to Mary, you’ll begin to experience the wonder of Christ’s presence firsthand.

Signed,

Abby

—————————————————————————————————————————

Do you ever really stop to think about Mary as a real person?!  A real teenager with a REAL dilemma on her hands.  This “Dear Abby” letter brought everything home for me, I got it.

We know the last chapter of this story, but poor Mary didn’t.  She feared for her very life, as she could be STONED for her “indiscretion”!  Would you, as her parents, have believed her?  Do you know how HARD that must’ve been for all of them?

As we approach the Christmas season, remember the reason we celebrate, remember a young unwed mother, great with child making a journey to a land not her own, away from her mom and everything familiar.  Remember her FAITH, even though she didn’t know the Happily FOREVER After was to come for all of us.

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Blessed be the name of the Lord,

~T

Keeping CHRIST in Christmas

{Re-posted every year from the 4 little Ferguson’s Christmas archives}

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and with it can come a sense of panic, a need to rush into town, push through the crowd towards near empty shelves, and snag those last few items on your Christmas shopping list. Standing in long lines, being told “Happy Holidays” by the greeter as you leave, rushing around to prepare for office parties & family get-togethers, addressing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, and on the busy-ness goes……

Somewhere along the way, the peaceful, quiet days of Christmas past were lost. Somewhere along the way, Jolly Ol’ St. Nick, stole the limelight from baby Jesus, and the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, replaced the leisurely gift shopping of days gone by. Instead, it seems, we celebrate materialism, indulgence and the idea that we need more, more, more.

As a kid growing up, I recall knowing who Santa was, I think he even signed a couple of our packages under the tree a time or two, but I can’t EVER recall a time, that I didn’t know it was really my parents.

I have great memories of Christmas growing up, but you’d be surprised at the ones that stand out most.

I remember the year dad went back to college, and we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree, so we decorated the artificial fica tree that stood in our living room, instead. Tiny red apples, red velvet bows and empty mini raisin boxes hung from its branches….To my little girl eyes, it was beautiful!!!!!

There were very few presents under the tree that year, but I don’t remember thinking much of it. Mom kept us busy with special baking and craft projects, and dad kept us in hysterics on Christmas morning, sticking his new electric drill up his nose, stating it could also double as a nose hair trimmer.

As we got older and became teenagers, our finances changed, and my parents got more and more creative in their gift giving…..

One year we went on a family vacation to the Bahamas instead of getting gifts. Another time, Hawaii. One year, we got cash to spend after Christmas at the big sales, teaching us the value of the dollar, and that it could be stretched much further by waiting for a sale day after Christmas to shop. Another year, after my dad sold his trucking business, and things were incredibly tight, we did intangible gifts. We wrote letters of appreciation to each member of the family, and that Christmas morning was not spent under a pile of wrapping paper and boxes, but quietly seated around the fireplace, reading those letters of love & affirmation to each other.

But, the Christmas that stands out the most in my mind, was not the tropical vacations, not the new boom box or new car…..

No, it was the year we adopted a family in need, through a local church. We were given an address to deliver our goodies to them, in person.  So we all loaded up, driving further and further into the oldest part of town, until we arrived in front of a very humble home. Arms loaded with boxes of goodies, we walked to the front door. Once we were done with our “good deed” for the day, we could go back home and have our own Christmas.

We knocked on the door, and were welcomed in broken English. Stepping inside, the first thing I noticed was the home was sparse in furniture. Mattresses serving as beds lay on the floor, and open cupboard doors revealed they were indeed, bare. My heart softened. My “good deed” for the day, suddenly turned into so much more.

Oh, the joy on their faces as we unloaded box after box of groceries, clothing, toys and necessities. I recall tears streaming down the mothers face, as she thanked us over and over in broken English. The father reached out his work-weary hands, silently grasping ours, tears in his eyes telling us how humbled and thankful he was for this, though no words were spoken. Their children ran circles around the old sofa, the language barrier not stopping our interpretation of their squeals of excitement and joy!

Tears filled my eyes, as I looked at the space around me….thinking of the home full of stuff we had left just 10 minutes ago, the gifts waiting under the tree, the food filling 2 fridges. This families Christmas blessing, was my every day life!

I didn’t know a day without food.
I didn’t go to school without a coat, because we didn’t have the money for one.
I never walked to a cupboard to find it bare. We had so much, and they had so little.

Why did I even need the few gifts waiting for me, under the tree at home?

It was then I knew what God was showing me…….

THIS is what Christmas is about.

Giving to others in need, showing them the love of Christ, not receiving! Why, when I had such an abundance, did I need anything? I became more convinced than ever that Christmas was going to be forever different at our house!

Fast forward 15 years, I now have 4 little ones of my own, and the huge responsibility of establishing my families traditions….

From the very beginning Christmas morning has been Jesus’ birthday, nothing else. We feel Santa “waters down” what we are trying to do with Christmas. Our goal is to keep it about Christ, and His birth, and in striving towards this goal, of keeping Christ in Christmas, we chose to exclude Santa from any of our celebrations.

Don’t get me wrong, the kids know who Santa is, and that he is part of the general season of year. In fact, the older two, were playing reindeer and Santa one night!

Playing Santa

That doesn’t bother me a bit.

Neither does letting them watch the evening Christmas specials on tv, about Rudolph or Frosty. What a special treat! But there is one rule and requirement of evening TV watching……

Commercials MUST be muted.

I can’t stand how they try to grab my kids attention and stir up the “Greedy Gimmies” with the ads for the “coolest toy ever“!

But, when it actually comes to Christmas day, does Santa have a part?

Nope, not around here. We want Christmas Day to be sacred. It’s special. It’s a quiet, calm. A peaceful celebration of the birth of Jesus. It’s not wrapping paper piled knee-high on the floor. It’s not toy fire engine sirens, crying baby dolls and whirring helicopter toys, drowning out all other sounds of worship of our Lord and King, the whole reason we celebrate in the first place.

On Christmas morning, you won’t hear shouts of ”Santa came!” Instead, shouts of, “It’s Jesus birthday!” are heard. {Followed by arguments about who gets to blow out Jesus’ birthday candle after we sing Happy Birthday to Him!} :)

After reading the Christmas story, we give each child 3 gifts, representing the 3 gifts given to baby Jesus by the wise men. Buying only 3 gifts for each child, keeps Dale and I in check, as we are doing our Christmas shopping, and allows the focus to remain on Christ, not the need for more, more, more.

Later, as our children get older, we will deepen the significance of these gifts, by assigning a meaning to each one:

Frankincense: A gift for spiritual growth. (A new devotion book, Bible or Christian CD.)
Myrrh: A practical gift. (A new pair of jeans, a coat, a laptop for school, a car emergency kit.)
Gold: A gift that fulfills a want. (An ipad, shopping certificate, jewelry, bike, MP3 player etc.)

We celebrate Christmas based on God GIVING us His one and only son, who later GIVES His life as a living sacrifice for us! We want giving and not receiving to be the focus of Christmas. This is why we choose to adopt a family in need, or participate in filling individual shoe boxes, when our church adopts a local school.

What fun it is to stroll through the store, with each of my children clutching a paper in their sweet little hands, with a name.  A name of a special boy or girl, about their age, who we can be a blessing to.

I love to see their faces as they figure out that no, these new toys aren’t for them to keep, they have enough toys at home. These gifts are for a little boy or girl, who might otherwise have nothing new at Christmas!  Granted, sometimes its hard to pack that giant bouncy ball, or sparkly nail polish in the box, for the other child. But, it doesn’t take long for them to grasp, at their level of understanding, the kindness and love they are showing to another child. To understand that Christmas is about giving to others, not asking, begging and pleading for the latest and greatest new toys.

It is my hearts desire for our Christmases to be SO focused on Jesus Christ, from my children’s first memory of Christmas on, that they don’t know it ANY other way!


Keeping Christ in Christmas goes much farther than a “Merry Christmas” greeting to a cashier, only allowed to say “Happy Holidays”. No, it comes from you, Momma, as you set the tone of your home for each and every holiday tradition to come!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2 (NLT)

It’s all about finding a happy balance in YOUR home, for YOUR family.  This is what works for us!

~T

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