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Thursday, November 25, 2010

What We're Serving (Recipes Included)

This year since we are in the beautiful Mountains for Thanksgiving we are having quite the spread. It is something I look forward to!! We love to divide all the dishes up and each cook our specialties. I'm including the links to a lot of the recipes (thanks to Denise Probst)! So...here's the big divide:

Elisa - Ham, Sweet Potato Casserole (recipe to come soon for this one), Cherry Cheesecake, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese
Ricki Anne - Broccoli Casserole, Buttermilk Pie, Butter Peas
Denise -
Granny's Dressing, Red Velvet Cake, Corn Casserole, Brownies
Me - Turkey,
Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake (Since this is Kevin's side of the family...they do all of their traditions and I don't cook quite as much as I do when I'm with my side.)

Hope you are having as great of a time as we are!! So many things to be thankful for this year and always.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What We're Up To!

On our third day here in the Smokey Moutains of TN, Kevin decided to take Kameron on his first ever golfing trip. Here are Justin, Hank and Kameron on the course (Creekside). Kameron was really anxious to go...not to play, but to drive the cart! He's not quite old enough to grasp the concept of golf (and not to grab the flags out of the holes and go off running with them!!), but he did know driving a cart would be involved...so he was all GAME!
Driving the cart seemed easy after all the times Daddy has let him drive the car through the neighborhood at home (nearly giving Mommy near heart attacks each time). Kameron looks like a natural!I am so very thankful for our DVD player, because I don't know where we would be without it. We used it in the car on the ride up here, and then we made him a little pallete on the floor of the cabin so he could watch (with his Iron Man headphones of course). It has entertained him a lot and has enabled us to do what we like to do...Play cards! We have really enjoyed playing a lot of Phase 10!! Here I am with Justin playing a round of Phase 10. Alivin is in the background watching TV. It has truly been so relaxing for us to be here. Just doing nothing and having fun being with family. I feel so truly blessed to be able to be here. I am so lucky to have such amazing family and friends. Thank you, Lord!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Here We Are!




Being in Gatlinburg is one of the things I most look forward to each year. It is a time of fun, games, family, eating, shopping, laughing and playing. Today is our first full day here. We are actually staying in Pigeon Forge at Barefoot Lodge Cabins. Here is the cabin that we have stayed in the last four out of five Thanksgivings. It has become like a second home to us! We love it. Today, Kevin, Hank, Justin and Adam went to play golf and the other ladies went shopping (which I would have loved to do, but I have Kammers!) So, Kameron and I decided to go to the aquarium in Gatlinburg. It was very educational...I almost feel like I could count it as a school day. Here is one of the exhibits. Kameron had a fun time pressing all of the buttons that explained the insides of a fish. He learned about the spleen, kidney, intestines, brain, gills, heart and more! Each time he pressed a button he got an explanation from the fish itself. He was very attentive and was able to repeat what each thing was when he was finished. He loved the many hands-on activities the aquarium had to offer as much as viewing the fish.
Another fun experience was Shark's Cove where all sorts of beautiful (and not so beautiful) fish swam above us while we moved slowly on a conveyor belt. Here is one of the sharks as he passed over us...look at those teeth!Here is a beautiful turtle who was swimming among the sharks that Kameron loved. It was almost like being in the water with the fish! We also got do see a feeding demonstration of sting rays. Kameron was fascinated to see a diver hand feeding the fish who were literally sucking the food right into their greedy little mouths. Perhaps his favorite thing was a new exhibit...the penguins. He was able to crawl through a tunnel and virtually have only a glass separating his nose from the penguin's. All the way back to the cabin he kept pretending he was a penquin named Carpiggio. (Don't ask where he got the name from...he has quite an imagination.)
So, it has been a great first day and we're looking foward to several more. How thankful we are to be able to do this!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Won't be Waiting on Superman.


In September a documentary was released entitled Waiting On Superman in which the public school system in America is explored. Saving a school bus full of children from immediate danger, Superman rushes onto the scene with grace and ease. These school children are not in danger of being involved in a bus crash. What danger they are involved in can be viewed by looking at the public school system under a magnifying glass. If you look closely, you can't help but notice the most tragic way the education system is failing children today. Don't believe me...look at this:
The Washington Post recently reported: "U.S. 15-year-olds trailed their peers from many industrialized countries. The average science score of U.S. students lagged behind those in 16 of 30 countries...The U.S. students were further behind in math, trailing counterparts in 23 countries." I could go on and on with statistics that continue to confirm this fact, but most of you already know this because of opinions you have formed for yourself based on experience and things you've read or heard. With all of the technology and advancements we've made in America, why do you suppose our school systems have been neglected? The No Child Left Behind act instituted several years ago has in fact become nothing short of something to snicker about. So what if your class has a smartboard in it? If the teacher who is in charge of the class is nothing more than a tenured teacher drawing a paycheck who can't even speak proper English him or herself...how is a smartboard going to help the innocent students who deserve a proper education?

Putting education itself aside for a moment, let's focus on social experience in America's public school system. Did you know that a congressional report released in 2007 estimated that about 1 out of 10 kids "are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade...and many abusers have several victims"? Also, reports show that bullying is on a rapid rise as well. The majority of children face some sort of bullying...it cannot be escaped! In fact, "54 percent [of students] were harassed verbally and 51 percent socially (excluded or ostracized)" according to a report from 2005.

What is the answer? According to
Waiting for Superman it is "changes" the school system needs to make (smaller class sizes, new technology, longer school days...). According to me it is private education, better yet, homeschooling. I know everyone cannot afford private education, and some say they can't afford to home school either because it would require one parent to stay home instead of producing an income. I say...where there is a Will...there is a Way! It is our children we are neglecting in order to acquire STUFF! Who needs stuff? Our children's education, socialization and well-being are at stake here. We have been given children as gifts from God...not to ignore and hand to someone else for mistreatment.

Soon a counter documentary will be coming out entitled Indoctrination: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America. It will be released early in 2011. I would encourage you to watch this and
Superman in order to be well informed. Indoctrination will explore homeschooling and lay out biblically what it says about educating our children and our responsibilities as parents.

I'll leave with one more startling statistic. A 20-year study that involved about 60,000 students who come from Christian families showed that, " [nearly 9 out of 10] youth...attending...public schools...[once they get to college] are consistently abandoning the Christian worldview in favor of the humanist/socialist worldview." This means they are rejecting the God they grew up knowing and hearing about after being indoctrinated by secular college professors. On the flip side of this, less than 4 percent of homeschooled youth disown their faith by their first year of college. If nothing else, those numbers right there solidify in my mind what I need to do. Yes, it is about the education here on earth, but more than that, my biggest desire for my son is where he will spend eternity.

You can wait on Superman if you want. I'm going to take matters in to my own quite capable hands.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wait!

After hearing Kevin's message at church this morning, I have decided I definitely have a "WAIT" problem. (You can check out his sermon notes HERE.) I think this week's message really hit home to a lot of people. He spoke about the process that God often allows us to experience of simply waiting. It is not because God is not capable of giving us an answer, but yet it is because He has something to teach us while the waiting is going on. There is an issue in both Kevin and my life right now that we are waiting on an answer about. Several times we've been tempted to take matters into our own incapable hands in order to at least not have to wait any longer. Yes, we've prayed about it. Many times. But I know that it is the experiences we are going through right now that are shaping us for when God is ready to reveal the answer to us. Not one time in my life has God left me on my own when I needed his advice or his direction.
I am thankful that I have a God that cares enough about me to not give me everything I want and/or to not give things to me all the time at the time I want them. Like a loving parent, He knows what is best for me...and He cares enough to teach me to wait for it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Lesson Learned

Do you ever struggle with being content? Do you ever think, "I would only be happy if...?" God's word says that we are often taken through trials in life in order to refine us and sharpen us. I will never forget when I was first dating Kevin. There was a local area art festival in Columbus and he took me to see the wares and get a taste of what it was all about. As we walked from booth to booth, I was amazed at how talented people in the area are. I'm not very artistic myself, so I'm easily impressed with others' talents. I remember vividly walking to one particular booth that didn't have a lot of people visiting it. The first thing I remember drawing me to it was the sound. A steady clink.......clink.......clink.......clink. Yes, it was the sound that first got my attention. Next, as we neared the booth, I felt an annoying heat emerging from a source unidentified. It was the middle of summer, and if you live in Columbus, GA, you know that summers here are H-O-T to say the least! At first, the booth didn't interest me in one bit, both because of the sound and then of course...the heat. I started to pull away and go a different direction, but Kevin gently tugged my arm and led me closer to the exhibit. He had a look in his eyes that I now easily recognize.

My husband worships God through nature and the world around him. He can easily spot an illustration for a sermon (partly because he's always looking) in everyday things. He can see God in a deer beside the road, a gently rolling stream, a trip through the woods and the call of a bird. I remember once being completely amazed when he told me of a vivid dream he once had about his deceased father. In the dream his father was visiting him and taking him through a journey in a beautiful forest. When Kevin described the dream, he told me of the different colors of green in the trees. I honestly had never in my life taken the time to notice, much less care, that trees were varying shades of green. Since, I've looked and noticed he's right! My husband even wrote a poem about his experience with his father in the dream.

So, knowing how my husband can spot an illustration in nature and in life, I saw that look in his eyes that summer day at the art festival. Already an analogy about what he was seeing was forming in his brain. As he tugged me, I walked closer and we gathered around a man who had an apron fastened around his middle and sweat was pouring down his brow. From a raised fire pit, embers emitted heat and flames. He was a local blacksmith. In his hand he had a hot poker and on the edge of the poker was a horse shoe. He would extend the poker to the fire and the metal shoe would heat up to an orange/yellow color. The artist would then remove the shoe, place it on an iron mold and begin shaping it with a mallet right after it had been removed from the fire, when it was easily molded. Then, the steady
clink.......clink.......clink.......clink sounded strong and clear.

As I stood watching, Kevin started gently whispering in my ear, "Shannon, this is like what God does to us. He puts us through the fire because, like this blacksmith, He is shaping us. Each time we are put in the fire we become more of the thing He wants us to be."

It is true. So, whatever trial we may be going through or whatever discontentment we may feel, we must know that God is shaping us, molding us into what He wants us to be. Hebrews 13:5 states, "...be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"

Ecclesiastes 7:14
"When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one as well as the other..."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Five Years Ago...

Five years ago the most wonderful thing in the world happened to me. I became a mother. One day I'll write the whole story, but for now, I'll shorten it. My husband and I traveled to Orem, Utah after breathlessly waiting for Kameron's birthmother to sign over custody. In the wee hours of the morning on November 2, 2005, we entered a hotel room where a social worker handed Kameron over to us. I will never forget the first time I saw him, smelled him, felt his warmth and heard his cry. He was three months old and I fell instantly in love! Since that day my life has been filled with such ... LIFE! His energy, personality and love for life are one of the things that make my world go round. Thank you, Lord, for this most precious gift, and for allowing me to be Kameron's mother!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gatlinburg...Here We Come

For the past three years (not including last year) we have journeyed to Gatlinburg, TN for Thanksgiving. We actually stay in Pigeon Forge, TN, but a lot of our musings are in Gatlinburg. There are several reasons this trip is so special to us. First, Kevin and I were married in Gatlinburg...almost nine years ago! So, it goes without saying that we are naturally fond of the place.
Another reason we adore this trip is for the simple reason anyone would crave a getaway...we are TIRED and need a break! My husband is working two full-time jobs it seems. He teaches full-time at Calvary Christian School
and is the associate pastor at our church.
Those two things bring with them a lot of hours. Not to mention he has a five-year-old son who absolutely adores him and wants to spend every minute with him when he's home! I homeschool and work part-time at the church too, so, we're pretty tired!
Perhaps the thing that we most adore about our Gatlinburg trip is family. We get to hide away in the beautiful Smoky Mountains and be with those people we love. Interestingly, we spend our time there with Kevin's ex-wife and her husband along with the two sons they had together in his previous marriage. One son is married and she and her parents come too. Strange, I know, that we can all get along...but by the grace of God, we do! In fact, we adore these people. Sadly, when life happens we don't get to spend nearly enough time with these people...but each year at Thanksgiving we are together.
I am truly looking forward to this time of relaxation, family, feasting and shopping! I am thankful for good family and the ability to be able to make this happen.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins


Yummy! I LOVE it that it is finally getting cooler here in Georgia. It makes me want to cook up some delicious comfort goodie
s! I had several left over pumpkins from Halloween, and instead of throwing them away this year like I normally do, I decided to find recipes where I could use the meat from the pumpkins. I've never done this before...normally I just toss them after the mildew gets just too gross. This recipe called for LIBBY'S Solid Pack Pumpkin...but I used fresh instead. Here's how to make your own fresh pumpkin:

Take your leftover pumpkin and
slice it in half, cutting the stem and pulp. Spoon out the seeds and lay them flat in a baking pan to dry so you can make roasted pumpkin seeds later! (Yummy!!)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Put the pumpkin halves face down on a cookie sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for an hour and a half. Cool, then use a spoon to scoop out the delicious meat inside. You can store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it or freeze it for later.

Now...on to the Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Cup milk
1/2 Cup LIBBY'S Solid Pack Pumpkin
(I used fresh...see above for how)
1/4 Cup margarine or butter, melted
1 egg
1 Cup (6-ounce package) NESTLE TOL
L HOUSE (or other) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1/3 Cup finely chopped nuts (I left these out because my family doesn't like them)


Let's Do It:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 12 (2 1/2 inch) muffin cups.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder cinnamon and salt; make well in center.

In a small bowl, combine milk, pumpkin, margarine and egg; add to well in flour mixture. Add morsels;

Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon into prepared muffin cups using a 1/4 C measuring cup, filling each muffin cup 3/4 full.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon nuts over each muffin.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks. Makes 12 yummy Muffins!