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The Rose Jesse Tree Ornament

Our church has been holding wonderful "Fun with Felt" craft nights, and at the last one I took the opportunity to start our Jesse tree decorations! I am happy with the rose I was able to create with the materials provided, and think it looks quite similar to an opened rose like this one . . . 


I felt deflated, though, when I got home and looked up the passage that is suggested for use with the rose ornament. Isaiah 9:2 -7 doesn't seem to have much to do with roses! What do you think? The only thing I thought of is that perhaps we could talk about the way flowers die quickly but Jesus' government will have no end.


Pilgrim Hill

This place was built
by the Lord of the Hill
For the relief and security 
of Pilgrims

Our friends the Baehrs are beginning a hospitality ministry in the Huon Valley called Pilgrim Hill. You can read a little more about it on Mikey Lynch's Christian Reflections blog.

A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of going up to Pilgrim Hill for a picnic. There are no buildings on the hill as yet, but it is a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon in good company.

Dave and Elnathan enjoyed father and son time. Elnathan looks very Australian in this hat, but it is actually a South African hat we bought at Stellenbosch last year!

Later in the afternoon we went for a walk up the hill. We thought Elnathan might sleep, but his eyes were wide open!


Then we enjoyed sitting together and having a family picture taken. This is one of my favourite family pictures so far!


An outdoorsy kinda guy

Elnathan loves to be outside. When he is grumpy indoors, his mood is often transformed when he is placed on a blanket on the grass. He is much happier having tummy time or lying on his back outdoors than he is indoors, and is not as insistent upon being sat up to look at everything! He is quite happy to try to grab at some grass and stuff it in his mouth. We think a few seeds may have been ingested in the process, but that is OK.


Starting a Jesse Tree

The Christmas season is a wonderful opportunity for teaching about Jesus Christ, and creating family memories. Like most opportunities, it also comes with temptations. What should be a time of focusing on the gospel together often becomes a season of stress and family conflict. To my surprise I have already fallen into some of those temptations this year, and it is not even December. I believe that most Christians want to focus on Jesus at Christmas, but deliberate efforts have to be made in order to achieve this. The amazing truth is that God became man in order to save us! How can this truth dominate our Christmas season?

One way to ensure that our Christmas is focused on Jesus is to create special family traditions that seize the opportunities the season offers. A tradition that has been recommended on many sites and in Noel Piper's book Treasuring God in Your Traditions is that of the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree tradition helps families to pay attention to the way the whole Bible leads up to Jesus Christ. Many adults struggle to understand the way the Bible fits together. The beauty of this tradition is that year after year, the images and devotions reinforce the way the Bible leads up to Christ. Giving children a deep understanding of God's plan in the Bible is a wonderful gift for them to take into life. Having a Jesse tree is a fun way to give this gift, as children will enjoy the different decorations for each day.

You can read suggested family devotions for this year from the Reformed Church of America. You can also read Lindsay's compilation of pictures and links about their family's Jesse tree. The image above is courtesy of RE at St Thomas More School. This picture represents just one of many ways to incorporate a Jesse tree into your home. I am not sure yet whether or not we will have a separate Jesse tree or incorporate the little decorations into our existing tree, bringing one out each day in the lead up to Christmas. I am sure the tradition would still be memorable, even if there was not a separate tree. I also need to work out how to incorporate our existing lovely advent calendar. We will probably just use this as an additional lovely decoration and fun visual reminder of the meaning of Christmas.


Dave's new car

On the weekend Dave purchased a new car, a 2006 model Mazda 6.

It was an exciting day, and the weather was perfect for a first drive! It felt unreal to have such a nice car all of our very own!

It is certainly an upgrade from our very reliable but less than exciting 1994 Ford Laser.

If anyone is in the market for one of these, I recommend buying ours - I would have stayed with it but my very patient husband had waited long enough for his newer car!


Windmill Educational Hobart

Windmill Educational in Hobart looks fascinating when you drive past. Despite this, I'd never been in the store until yesterday. It is a fantastic place for any family attempting to create a home that is full of learning opportunities. The only problem is that you may come out feeling like you "need" a whole lot of stuff! The products are amazing. I thought we did well to emerge only with one large dice at a cost of $5.95 - perfect for teaching instant recognition of numbers in dot form. We didn't buy the ABC puzzle, the felt pictures, the wooden nativity, or even the Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids book! We did emerge with a catalogue though, which could be dangerous!


Moroccan Red Lentil Soup

I'm excited to be able to participate in the Passionate Homemaking Crockpot Carnival! We enjoy this Moroccan Red Lentil soup at our house. Dave is not generally a great fan of soup, but this one is a winner with him. It is filling and very nutritious, full of cheap protein!

2 tbs olive oil
2 large onions
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
7 cups vegetable stock
1 can (about 20 ounces or 440 grams, it doesn't really matter) crushed tomatoes
2 cups dried red lentils, washed and rinsed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbs fresh parsley (or another fresh herb)
1 tbs chopped fresh cilantro (again, substituting is fine)

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook onions until tender, add garlic and spices (except pepper flakes). Place with hot stock, tomatoes and lentils in the slow cooker. Cook for 4 - 5 hours on high, or 8 to 10 hours on low, until the lentils are tender.

Add the final four ingredients and cook on high for 10 minutes.

Eat! Yum, yum -  and some left over to freeze!


Crafty Ideas A-Z

I have to start this blog with one of my favourite educational resources for the tiny ones! I can't wait for Elnathan to be old enough to begin these fun activities.

I first came across this book when I was working with Kinder/Prep students at Seabrook Christian School, and loved it so much that I purchased it. Crafty Ideas A-Z contains a craft for each letter and further ideas for teaching that sound. There is only one craft per letter, so it does not contain all the phonetic sounds.  However, it is a wonderful way to supplement a full phonics program. In my experience, children love these crafts! They also make lovely displays. You can see inside Crafty Ideas A-Z online!


Bay Christian Church sermons

I've been wanting to share our church's sermon archive with you for a while. We attend Bay Christian Church which is just 5 minutes drive from our home. We have particularly benefited from two recent talks, "A prayer for experience" and "Kingdom prayer". These are both available on the Bible talks page. The sermon "A prayer for experience" focuses on the need to experience God's love. Last week we found the sermon "Whose Kingdom - Mine or Yours" thought provoking, and we discussed the need to stand guard against all kinds of greed. Dave will be preaching on the parable of the good Samaritan tomorrow, and we've been working hard to prepare!


Watering with Daddy

I've finally cleared my iPhoto sufficiently to be able to use it at a reasonable pace! To celebrate, I am posting these cute pics of Elnathan and Dave watering the garden.

We are loving our garden right now. We have planted beans, corn, zucchini, tomatoes, and lots more! These pictures were taken last month and it is amazing to see how much things have grown even since that time. On warm days, the little plants seem to grow before our eyes!

Dave looks forward to getting home from work to greet his wife, greet his baby, and thirdly head straight out to the garden!

Elnathan also seems to enjoy the outdoors. In the last couple of days I've placed him in his rocker in the shade of the cabbages, and he sits there contentedly while I work. Pulling off bits of cabbage leaf and trying to eat them is a favourite occupation!

When it comes to photo storage, do any of you know of a good program that can be downloaded for free? If so, I'd love to hear your recommendations. My iPhoto is quite limited, and I'd love a program that stores many photos and allows you to edit them (for example, removing red eye).


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