Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas, Grace & Molly


This is Molly.  Her glasses are broken, her nose is a bit scuffed and her sweater has been snagged on numerous occasions.  Collector's item, she is not.

I love her.

I love her for many reasons, but the biggest reason is because of the way she came to me.  It's one of my favorite stories.  I want to share it with you.

I was 10 years old that Christmas.  The entire year I had poured over the American Girl catalog and I knew Molly was my girl.  She had glasses (like me), she could be a bit clumsy (like me), and she was always daydreaming (like me!).  I had read every one of her books from the library and had started saving my money so I could have her as my very own.

As Christmas approached, I knew the only thing I wanted was Molly.  But I also knew she probably wasn't in the budget.  The 7th little Zeller had been born that year and my mom had undergone surgery on her wrists.  I didn't know any of the budget details (my parents rarely talked about money) but in my heart I knew that $85 spent just on me would be a stretch.  So I decided to become enthusiastic about a (much cheaper) toy horse set I had seen at the local grocery store.  I even told Mom it was what I wanted for my "big present" and that I didn't want anything else.  But for some reason, I kept my hopes up.  Mom knew me well and surprises do happen at Christmas!

Christmas morning came and we rushed down the stairs to tear into our stockings.  I noticed a box about the size of the horses underneath the tree and I had a small sinking feeling.  "It's okay,"  I thought, trying to work up excitement through my disappointment.  Our parents woke to join their squealing brood and after we settled down and Mom put the traditional sticky buns in the oven, we sat to open our presents.

I don't remember the exact order, since I was oldest I probably was last.  When my turn came, I had decided to do this courageously and not show a speck of disappointment.

As I tore off the paper and saw the "American Girl" emblem on the box, I was in shock.  "It's HER!!"  I screamed as the rest of the paper flew off and I pulled up the lid.  On top of my precious Molly doll was a letter addressed to me in a strange hand.  Before I could touch Molly, I read what it said,

Dear Hannah,
There is a woman in the Bible with whom you share a very special name.  She wanted something in her heart so badly that she prayed and prayed and finally received her answer in the form of her son, Samuel.

When your Mommy mentioned your heart's desire to me, I began to pray that God would somehow honor your request. He moved my heart to provide this special gift for you, His special child.

When you see this gift, I'd like for you to remember the grace of our loving God.  You did not have to work for this gift, nor do you deserve it.  It is simply given to you, in the same way God's love is given to you.

Hannah, you are precious to God and to me.  God bless you, this Christmas and always!

With much love!

Mrs. Pizzi

I was in shock.  Me?  Why had a family friend chosen me?  At the age of 10, I was just beginning to not like myself.  My stick straight hair bobbed at the shoulders, thick glasses and crooked teeth.  I wasn't artistic like my sister, Marie.  I didn't do well in school like my sister, Heidi.  I wasn't even cute and charming like Clara.  Why me?

And I asked my Mom, "Why me?" She responded, "Mrs. Pizzi was the eldest in her family, too.  She wanted you to have Molly."  And while the tears came, I ran upstairs to write a thank you note, all other presents forgotten.

I carried Molly everywhere for months.  Her hair became ratty with all the brushing it received and her clothes saw many washes after playing outside.  As the years have passed, she has spent more time in a wicker basket, joined by other childhood treasures.  But even after she has been replaced by my other pursuits and now real dollies of my own, I will never, ever forget how special I felt that Christmas.

But the truth is, every second of every day, I am loved even more.  God didn't just give me a Molly doll, which He certainly did through dear Mrs. Pizzi, He gave me His life.

He gave up being King of the Universe and became a person.  A baby that could be cold and hungry, a boy that could fall and scrape his knee, a man that could be hated and then killed in the most excruciating way possible.  

Christmas is a cozy, joyful time.  I love it.  But the crazy grace and love shown to us by our God at Christmas should not only make us feel cozy and joyful, but leave us spellbound, not understanding, running to say thank you.

And asking "Why me?"

Because we did not have to work for this Gift, nor do we deserve it.

It's the grace of our loving God.


Molly is now loved by another little girl, my little girl.  But the letter I opened and read in disbelief so many years ago I have stored away in a special memory box to cherish forever.  I read it every Christmas.

Repost from December 2010

A sweet friend, after hearing this story, has had my letter framed so it will not fall apart any more than it already has. 


Friday, December 23, 2011

Anticipation!





The presents you see behind the extremely excited princess is from some sweet friends of ours.  She asks if she can open it every day.  You should have seen her eyes when it came through the door.  It's as big as her!


We're all getting ready for the festivities of the weekend.  The community is gathering for a Christmas Eve dinner, we'll have a Candlelight Service that night and then in the morning - a Christmas Service! 

Hopefully, we'll be fully packed by the end of today so Doug can take the loaded suburban on the 5 hour drive from here to Livingston to Billings to the Pilot parking lot tomorrow morning.  That way, we can snowmobile over the pass and be on our way to Colorado by Christmas evening.  Having a 20 minute drive become 5 hours due to the unplowed pass to our East is a tad complicated but nothing we can't handle :-)

Time to make some of these for Christmas morning.  Enter at your own risk.  Thank you forever, Pioneer Woman.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ladies Day Out (Cooke City Style)

Today, I joined two friends on a last minute shopping trip/hair appointments.  This involves a few steps:

1) On a glorious, sparkling, pristine morning when it was precisely 1 degree according to our thermometer, we loaded the family in the suburban and drove a couple miles into town to where the highway is no longer plowed.

2) I met my friend on her snowmobile and we drove 12 miles over Coulter Pass. 

3) Stopped at the Pilot parking lot where we left the snowmobiles, scraped off the car, loaded up and drove another 70+ miles over another (very icy) pass and arrived in Cody, WY.


 4) Ate lunch, shopped at various stores, did various errands, made sure to arrive at our own respective hair appointment with the same lady.

5) Bundled back in the car, drove back to Pilot parking lot where we loaded up the snowmobiles with our goodies and started back over the pass. 
 
- It was a freezing and exceptionally clear night so the stars were amazing and I might have had to flip up my foggy face shield to stare at them - only do this if you are a passenger.

- Also, I had to hold onto a large box of rolls for the Christmas dinner and we...uh...lost the sled carrying all our groceries and had to turn around to reattach it.

6) Arrived back in town where my husband helped load all my groceries.  Drove a couple miles down the road home to snuggle my sweet babies and eat chili.

I might have mentioned it before, but I will again:

I LOVE COOKE CITY!!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bashed

As is tradition before a holiday in which multiple pictures will be taken, my precious baby boy took a face plant into the concrete floor of the local Exxon gas station last night during the snowmobile club's progressive dinner. You can't really tell because, of course, his glorious brown eyes are detracting from it, but his top lip is distended and looks like hamburger while the surrounding area is a purplish hue.


Arnica is becoming a dietary supplement for this kid.  
Just kidding.  Well, maybe.

(If you go to the Exxon link, they have a live webcam of our main street.  Look for the green suburban with a huge grill on the front.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Catch Up

Have you ever seen "Marley and Me"?  (Proceed with caution: could cause inconsolable weeping.)  Anyway, there is a part when John Grogan tries to cover the span of a year in naming highlights at lightening speed for about 2 minutes.  Well, this isn't a year, it's really only about two months, but that's how I felt posting this. 

Since the middle of October,
We carved a pumpkin,


 Joined the Cooke City School in a Field Trip to Rocky Creek Farm,


and for their Halloween party.
Brandt was a leopard,


 Charissa was a cow,


and we went trick-or-treating with the five other kids in town.
The hotel owner unlocked the vending machine for them.
Only in Cooke City.


Fall was glorious,


There was a "Girls Only Sleepover",


 and Doug and I went on a date to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
(our first date since getting here in June!)

 

Brandt loves green applesauce,



 Playing in the snow,


 And playing with big sis' things
...much to her chagrin.


 He also wears the cutest Sorel snowboots ever known to mankind.


 Charissa is beautiful and insightful,


She now knows and writes every letter of the alphabet in order.
I am thanking the brains God gave her and LeapFrog for this development.


 She loves crafts,


 And writing letters.


 She also loves to "read" her Bible with a flashlight before going to sleep.

 

We have snow everywhere,



A grizzly at the workplace,


Four moose at our salt lick,

 

And a buffalo out our window.


We even got a picture of all smiles for the Christmas card
which I actually sent this year.


God is good and He continues to bless us!

Thoughts

Lately I have stepped back from blogging to seek more perspective on what I am doing here at Treasuring It Up.  

I am truly blessed beyond any reasoning.  I love to share my family and the amazing daily moments.  But sometimes my blog becomes entirely me-focused and I know it shouldn’t be so.

I paused because I want this blog to be more than what it is.  I wanted to up the ante and really DO something.  I even transferred my entire blog to WordPress but through a series of unfortunate events decided that now was not the time to confuse myself with learning a whole new system.

I had started to feel that I wanted to be a newer and popular and socially accepted woman when what I truly needed to do is go deeper and seek after the only One who can make my joy complete.  I need to be marinating myself in God’s Word to truly be full.  

The only way to be new is through Christ’s blood.  

Popularity was never on Jesus’ agenda.

I am accepted on Christ’s work alone, not by trying to be something I’m not.

After prayer and conversations, I’ve realized I want to give more than I can right now and it would be wrong to push otherwise.  Seasons of life come and go and perhaps someday this blog will be a beautifully designed resource with its own dotcom.  Now is not that time.

I’m the wife of a loving and dedicated pastor.  I am a mommy to my daughter and son.  I am keeper of this home – something I don’t take half as seriously as I should.  Charissa is so eager to learn to write and read; I’m trying to give her the time she needs in homeschooling.  I’m a part-time employee at Antlers.  Starting in January, I will be teaching a Bible study on Philippians.  Starting in February, I will begin an online class with CCEF – which is only possible through a wonderful scholarship – and will hopefully be able to continue for certification as a counselor.  

All of that to say: my plate is currently full.  

Treasuring It Up will continue with pictures of my favorite places and people, little things that bring joy or inspire, and an occasional babble about current events.  It isn’t anything that will get me nominated for the Bloggies, but I’m not here for that.  I’m here to share a bit of my life and what God is doing through me. 

He sure has His work cut out for Him…but you know that already. 


(And thanks for sticking around, whomever you might be)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Our Bonifide Vacation to the Black Hills (which was already over a month ago...)

It is snowing for the third consecutive day, so I'm in a bloggy mood but my conscience keeps pricking me and saying I need to update the church website and church blog before I attend my own blog.  But updating would require scanning pictures and our scanner is slightly dying and when I try to upload pictures to the website it freaks out and the pics vanish and I say "forget it! I'll go to my blog!  They love me there!"  I can't tell you how often that has happened.  I'm not complaining....well, okay, yes I am.  And I'm making horrible excuses.  So, anyway, moving on...because I won't be guilty to update my own blog.  So there.  I think.

October was a very busy and happy month.  The biggest highlight was that we went on vacation.  This is truly amazing.  I don't think we have been on an actual vacation as a family since Charissa was one.  For a couple years, there, we would only go on vacation if Doug could talk a couple family members into coming up with an odd job or two and/or our vacations would coincide with some kind of event be that a holiday or graduation or some such.  So we went on an actual vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.  It was the perfect time of year to be there.

Playing at a park in South Dakota on our way to Hot Springs where we spent the night.


The hotel we stayed at the first night had a buffalo in the lobby.  
Brandt about flipped his lid.  
(Notice his pursed lips - "Whoo-whoo!!")

 
 Charissa and Brandt arrive at Mt. Rushmore.



 Charissa planks a bench at Bear Country U.S.A., which is a very cool place, by the way.


It's a drive-thru park with all kinds of animals but especially bears.


They have a little zoo afterward with baby animals and the smaller critters that would be hard to see just driving by.  Here are the baby bear cubs sound asleep.  Sorry it's such a bad picture, but see the blonde bear?


A buffalo welded out of random metal - notice horns made of brake handles.


 A fishery in Spearfish, SD.  The metal box is spraying food into the water.  See the feeding frenzy?


 Right along the SD and WY border - I love all the colors!


 Devil's Tower, WY!  Talk about a strange formation!  
It was made from the cone of an extinct volcano that has had much of the base eroded away by the nearby river. 


 The Sundance Kid meets Doug in Sundance, WY.


We had such a wonderful time and saw lots of neat sights.
The best part, of course, was being together.
(Although Charissa would probably say it was the hotel hot tubs...)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can't Help Lovin' That (little) Man

 Brandt stands in the living room, eyes riveted to "The Tigger Movie", his plaid shirt partially covered by his ever-present overalls.  In his hand, a limp piece of bacon he has snitched from the table.  He absently lifts it to his mouth where six little chompers manage to take a tiny bite.  By the looks of the bacon, he is actually making good progress.  Chuckling, I take the bacon and wipe his hands with a paper towel.  I ask if he wants to sit in his chair and he slowly backs up until his fat diaper bumps into the little chair.  


He sits down.  His eyes never leave the screen.

I love this kid.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pumpkin Puree! (repost)

 I thought with our current season and the shortage of canned pumpkin, this would be a good one to repost!  I've been blogging for over a year now so I can look back at all the archives.  It's fun ;-)

Enjoy!



I love pumpkins.
I really do.  They are so iconic of all things fall.  They make me feel comfortable.  And hungry.

A couple weeks ago, a group of my friends got together and we took our kiddos to a pumpkin patch.  The kids had a blast and I was able to gather four pumpkins, cut fresh from the vine.  Mmmmm...


I love having fresh pumpkin puree for cakes, pies, breads, soups and baby food.  Now, people recommend baking your pumpkins all sorts of ways.  Some bake them upside down without water, some cut them into wedges and bake them upright but both result in dry and tough pumpkin.  And the words "dry" and "tough" have no place in pumpkin puree vocabulary.  

This is how my Mama taught me.

*****************

 Wash those pumpkins then cut them in half.  Let your toddler hold the knife and feel the power.
Or not.  My knives are extremely dull - but I guess they are sharp enough to cut a pumpkin.


So pretty :-)  Scoop out all the seeds and SAVE THEM.
Do not throw out the pumpkin seeds.  They are delicious roasted.


Take your scooped-out pumpkin halves and place them cut side down in a 9x13 baking pan.
Run a good inch of water into the bottom.


Place the pan into a 350* oven for an hour.  They will be nice and golden brown.  I had to do my 4 pumpkins in two batches.

If you want to let them set for a while, the cooling will create a vacuum and all the water will be sucked into the pumpkin hollow.  It makes a nifty sound when you pull out the pumpkins. 


Anyway, lift them out and let them cool for a while.  Save that water!  Once they are easy to handle, scoop out the innards with your left hand as you try to take a picture.  Then get pumpkin goo on your camera and wonder how actual food bloggers do it.


All's you have left is the shell.

"Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater, had a wife and couldn't keep her.  
He put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well." 

I have a toddler, mm'k?  Nursery rhymes are my life.


Put all that delicious pumpkin goodness in a bowl along with the saved water from the pans.  You DID save that water, didn't you?  I like to use the same water because it contains nutrients from the pumpkin - so why waste it?


Set up your food processor then have a stroke of genius and use your immersion blender.  


Oh, how I love thee, immersion blender. 

It took a while blending, but it worked quite well!  If you don't have an immersion blender, buy one right now, you can use your food processor or a blender.  A blender might require some additional water.


Here is the finished product.  My four, smallish pumpkins produced 16 cups of puree. That's four cups per pumpkin.  Not bad for $2 per pumpkin!  That means $0.50 a cup.  It's cheaper than the canned - and it's far fresher than anything you can buy in the store.

I like to freeze my puree either in wide-mouthed glass jars (appropriate for freezing) or quart ziplock bags.  If you put it in ziplocks, be sure it's completely chilled first, so all those weird plastic-y things don't leach into your puree!  I've heard you should use it before a year passes, but I've never had a problem with that.

Now go forth and bake some scrumptious pumpkin goodies!  
You can certainly use this as baby food.  Just make sure it's completely blended before serving.

If you want to roast those seeds, mix them up with some coarse salt and a light drizzle of olive oil.  Put them in a pan and bake at 350* for about 15 minutes.  Once they are toasty brown, they are ready.  Eat as a snack, throw on salads, use as a garnish on soup - get down that yummy fiber!