Thursday, November 24, 2011

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

It's Thanksgiving and a great time for reflection over the past year.  Most people reflect on their year at New Year's, but this year it only makes since to reflect on Thanksgiving.  It was 1 year ago today that we found out that we had lost our tiny baby in the womb. 

When I look back on the past year, it will be as a year of growth.  I have never grown more in a single year than this particular one.  What started on November 24, 2010 triggered a series of events that forced me to depend on God more than I ever have before, and not all of those events were bad. 

As a quick recap, here is what we have been through in the past year.
  • We lost the baby
  • My body took 5 1/2 months to recover from the miscarriage
  • I got pregnant again the first month my body was back to normal
  • The early stages of pregnancy were filled with anxiety
  • We found out the baby I am now carrying may have Downs Syndrome
  • Ryan's Grandmother had a stroke and passed away
  • Ryan's family dog passed away
  • Our dog Libby passed away
  • We found out that Ainsley has a gross motor skill delay
  • We found out that the baby I am carrying now more than likely doesn't have Down Syndrome
  • The end of this pregnancy has been drastically more difficult than my pregnancy with Ainsley
And when I look at that list and see blessings and struggles, what I see more is God's grace.  Through each of those circumstances, God has taught me so much about His grace and His love for me.  He has used His Spirit, His People, and His Word to minister to me. 

I am calling this past year my Ebenezer year.  I am putting a stone on the ground in my memory of this year so that when I look back at my life, I can always remember God's goodness and mercy.

Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Thus far has the LORD helped us. 1 Samuel 7:12

And seeing that it is Thanksgiving, my heart is overflowing with thankfulness.  Thankfulness for struggles.  Thankfulness for blessings.  And most of all, Thankfulness for a God that loves me. 

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love. 

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood. 

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart,
O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Celebrate the Harvest

Every year for the past 5 years I have thrown a Christmas Dessert party.  Seeing that I am pretty pregnant, I opted to move it to November and call it the Celebrate the Harvest Party.  It was kind of fun to put all the fall decorations together.  All the people that come to my house yearly, only see the Christmas decorations.  And while I love my nativities, I do love my house as it normally is.  It was nice for a change of pace.  Here are some pictures and recipes!

The Drink Table
We served Beer, Wine, Apple Cider, and Coffee.  That copper container was Ryan's Grandmothers and a perfect addition to the drink table this year

Just a Fun Fall Decoration
I saw this decoration idea on Pinterest.  Ainsley, Anne, and I went out to a local farm and picked up all the gourds and pumpkins.  Ainsley was responsible for the small gourds.  I actually didn't even look at them until we got home.  She did a great job picking them out.

The Dessert Table
I loved the "pumpkin" centerpiece.  Since the addition of the new red curtains, I didn't want to go overly orange.  I found a bunch of white and green pumpkins that looked so fabulous. 

Pecan Pie Bars
Think pecan pie but in smaller bites.  It was so gooey though that the cupcake liners were necessary. This recipe came out of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
I found this one on Pinterest.  Brownie on the bottom, Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough on the top, a splash of chocolate on top of that.  What's not to love. 
Here's the recipe for those that have asked.

Chocolate Ginger Twists
These were an attempt to use some puff pastry dough that I had.  I wanted a different flavor and this one hit the spot.  The addition of Crystalized Ginger was pretty cool

Chocolate Chip Turtle Cheesecake
I would have to say this may be my signature dessert.  It has been at every party I have ever thrown.  It's amazing. 

Plain Cheesecake
Sounds boring but I think it's the best plain cheesecake I have ever had.  The recipe calls for a fruit topping but honestly you don't need it.  My stomach wasn't feeling great last night and this was the only dessert I actually ate.  Oh my heart is this good.  Thanks Ina Garten
Here's the recipe for this one:

Pumpkin Cookies with Cinnamon Icing
These cookies are so yummy.  Fall in a cookie.  Mmmm, mmm, mmm.  I didn't cook them as long and made my icing a bit thicker.  Both improvements.
Here's the recipe:

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes
These were a surprise hit of the party.  I actually only had 3 left.  I must say that they are pretty good.  Again, thank you Pinterest.  The recipe said to make them as full sized muffins but the smaller size suited the party better.  I cooked them for 20 minutes and it was perfect.
Here's the recipe

Cappuccino Mousse Trifle
I love a good trifle.  Ever since that episode of Friends, it's an excuse to say that I did not put meat in the trifle.  It's really just layers of goodness.  I added a little Kaluha this year to the milk you pour over the pound cake and it worked really well.
Here's the recipe:

And while I had a blast throwing this party, I am glad that it is over and I can concentrate on the last 8 or so weeks of pregnancy.  I have some sorting and washing to do.
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