Abundant Life Designs

Check out these totally AWESOME concrete home decorations that my friend Lisa has created and is selling! Here are pictures of a set of book ends and centerpiece.  You can purchase and see the rest of her products at Abundant Life Designs.


"31 Days to Clean"

I must confess that I am not a perfectionist by any means, but I do try to keep things as orderly as possible.  Once in a while, however, we all need a little "kick in the behind" to refocus and do what we really have to accomplish for the day or week.

"31 Days to Clean"  is a very beneficial series of blog posts that I wanted to share with you all.  It has really made me revisit some of my priorities as a working wife, yet trying to keep up on the daily/weekly cleaning, making meals, and blogging, while many evenings are filled with many different activities at home or away.

You can find all the details on Sarah Mae's blog: Like a Warm Cup of Coffee

Thanks Sarah Mae for the inspirational challenges and encouraging words.


Why Our Family Doesn't Celebrate Santa Claus

When I was growing up, we would always get asked, "What did you get for Christmas? or What did you get from Santa Claus this year?" to which we would answer, "We don't do gifts at Christmas." Then they would look at us funny and wonder "Why?"  My parents decided that instead of spending lots of money at once on gifts (which they didn't always have the money for) they would just spend a little more on gifts around our birthdays!

My parents also felt that they wanted to keep the true meaning of Christmas more valuable. We have a church service Christmas morning with a little program that the Sunday School kids would put on for families. After that, we would have a big lunch together and just have some family time together. Several different years, we would go caroling at a nursing home, which is always very rewarding.

Santa Claus:
1. Takes away from the real meaning of CHRISTmas and simply confuses kids.
2. Causes kids to focus more on getting, instead of giving of themselves and of Christ's gift to us.
3. We want kids to trust us. If we live the fantasy life of Santa Claus, take them to the mall to get their pictures taken with him, have them sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Christmas, and then later they find out that he really isn't real, it could danger their trust in parents or grandparents or hinder them from believing God - as if he wasn't real either.

Growing up, all knew who Santa was and were explained about him, but it was always as a fictional character. We never understood how little kids could truly believe that he would drive a sleigh of reindeer, fly around to everyone's house, and deliver presents to ever kid in town! We knew enough that there was absolutely no way he would ever be able to drive that fast, carry that much stuff, and climb down every chimney!

Many christian families still incorporate Santa Claus into their Christmas traditions, but I am not here to judge them. I am simply explaining the way I grew up and reasons why we did what we did.


A Reminder of Sin & the Cross?

Well, I thought I would venture into some topical blog posts on issues that we may face or on topics that I have always wondered about and maybe you have too!  I hope you will find them interesting or at least something worth discussing.

Have you ever wondered where the idea of a Christmas Tree originated?  I decided to do a little research and find out for myself.  Well, there were many different ideas, some of which were fictional legends, but I was able to come across some articles that really made me think.

Many believe that the Christmas tree was started by Martin Luther who brought a fir tree into his home as a sign of life.  Other sources, however, state that this idea is a pure legend.

In an article written by Dr. Richard P. Bucher, he explains his own research of the scholarly records to see where the true meaning behind the christmas tree began.  His sources have brought him to the conclusion that the original idea of the evergreen tree was used as the paradise tree in religious plays performed outdoors or in churches.  One of the most popular scenes was depicting creation with Adam & Eve, their sin and banishment from paradise, ending with the promise of Christ.  The tree would be the only prop with apples hanging from it, which Eve would take from and give to Adam.

After they discontinued the plays, people had grown so accustomed to the tree, that they started bringing them into their own homes and decorating them with apples (representing sin) and homemade wafers (representing communion and life).  It has slowly changed over the years to adding lights and decorative globes, etc.

I found this quote from him worth thinking about, even for those of us who don't necessarily carry the tradition of having a 'Christmas tree' in our homes.  "The tree reminds us of the tree in Eden by which Adam and Eve were overcome and which thrust them into sin. But more importantly, the tree reminds us of the tree by which our sin was overcome, namely the tree upon which Christ Jesus was crucified."

You can find Dr. Bucher's article here.

According to Wikipedia, the Christmas tree began in Germany and was a form Christianization of pagan tradition of winter solstice.
You can find the article here.

Whether these sources and others that I read have any validity or not, I feel that the modern day Christmas tree is most likely a blend of both fact and legend.  Where exactly it originated from, I still don't know what to think.  One thing is for sure, my research has really made me think.

Should I get a paradise/christmas tree?


Winter Traveling

I know many who absolutely hate winter traveling, but there are those who are willing to brave the weather.  Andrew and I traveled to Ontario this past weekend to see his family for Christmas.  We were supposed to drive home on Sunday evening, but when we saw what was being predicted for an oncoming storm, we decided to leave earlier to try to avoid as much of the storm as possible.  Driving on the Canadian side was pretty decent, but once we crossed the border into Michigan we started hitting heavier snow.  We carefully passed 19 cars that were either already in the ditch, spinning out in front of us, or off to the side for a fender bender.  At certain points along the way, the wind was blowing the snow quite hard, making it harder to see, but not quite a total white out yet!  As the day progressed, we understood that the weather would be getting increasingly worse, especially on the Canadian side, so we were glad we didn't have to experience any of it.

Here are a couple links of those who did, including a family from our church who tried to head back to Grand Rapids early Monday morning.

from the National Post

from the Detroit News

We thank God that we were spared from this weather, and that He spared the family from our church who were taken to a hotel to spend the night.


Are Homeschooled Kids Socialized?

I thought this was a cute video of what many people view homeschooling yet don't understand what truly goes on.  My family homeschools as well and the younger siblings are in just about every social connection possible, i.g. basketball teams, choir, band, drama, co-op groups, etc
It was well stated here.
Hope you enjoy it as well.


Living Room & Dining updates...

I can't say that the carpet we had in our living room and dining was bad or anything, but the vinyl in the kitchen floor definitely needed to be replace at some point.  Well, we decided to replace it all with a walnut wood laminate.  It is much easier to take care of with pets.  We chose a laminate because real wood was more expensive and wouldn't last under the toe nails of our lovely girl, Roxy, who loves to run around the house.

Completed floor, next on to painting...

We also chose one wall in our living room to be the accent wall, which I wallpapered.  We painted the walls a soft neutral, so as to not fight with the wallpaper and other accents in the room, like my red sofa! :)  Things are still a slow work in progress, as I would love to change out the area rug and a few other items in the room, but that will have to be for a different post.  Major things first and minor accent adjustments will happen later.

Painted, but without the wallpaper on the white wall

 Finally able to hang my clock and other accents


Now to focus on the kitchen...


What Every Girl Needs...

I just wanted to share with you a fun experience I had with a bunch of girls from our young adult bible study/book study group!  Last Saturday night, we decided to split up the group - guys/girls - and each have our own bonding evening together.  The guys all met at one house, had pizza, and played highly competitive games till late into the night.

The girls, on the other hand, met at a different house and enjoyed a wonderful spa night together!  We started the evening with a fresh salad that was recommended for a spa evening, some white chicken chili 'n chips, cheese 'n crackers, and topped it off with a glass of wine.  We started the evening with exfoliating our faces, by applying a face mask and letting it thoroughly dry, then we washed our faces and cherished the soft fresh feel of our cheeks! :)  Next we go busy with soaking our feet and taking turns giving each other foot massages with salt scrub, lotion, and completing it with painted toes.  After we had fully pampered each other, we finished off the night with a documentary called "Not Without My Daughter".

Here are a few pics to share of our wonderful evening!

Can't wait to do this again soon girls!!


One Man's JuNk - Another Person's TrEaSuRe! (part 3)

I have another Craig's List find for you!  Do you remember the 2 previous posts I made quite a while ago now?  You can look at them here and here. Well, I am finally getting around to continuing them and even show you a couple more deals that I have gotten since those posts.

Guess how much I paid for this sofa?  It is vinyl, not leather and still seats firmly.

Also, I found this wonderful Buffet which is on my list of painting projects.


I'm Thankful For...

I can't believe it is Thanksgiving already!  Time sure flies when you're busy with house projects and working full time, juggling being a house wife on top of it all!
I promise to post some updates of all our house projects soon... it just takes longer than one thinks, to get them all done!  Oh well.

Well, I just wanted to post ten things that I am very thankful for:

1. I am thankful to God for all the things that have happened this past year and that he has brought us all safely through it.

2. I am thankful for my wonderful husband who, despite the challenges of being a husband - trying to do everything 'perfectly' or to my satisfaction, still loves me, is ever faithful, and I can't stop loving him! :)

3. I am thankful for the house we have to live in and all the projects we have been able to work on.

4. I am thankful for God's hand in Andrew's immigration process, that everything has been moving quickly - in comparison to what it could have been - and we pray that he last appointment next Monday will go smoothly as well.

5. I am thankful for my Moerdyk and Bergsma families and the support they have shown to us throughout this past year, with our dating, engagement, and marriage relationships.

6. I am thankful for my job at Verhey Carpets!  We have been able to remain in business and I have been able to maintain a full time position there, even though other companies around us have closed their doors.

7. I am thankful for the loving friendships of other couples and friends around us.

8. I am thankful for being spared this past spring from a car accident.

9. I am thankful that both our vehicles have remained in good condition and so we save up to afford a better one for me next year!

10. I am thankful for God's gift of womanhood, the opportunity to be a Godly wife, the motherly instincts he gives us ladies, and the joys of being a homemaker.


October Update

First of all, I want to say congratulations to my friends Nichole and Mike on their wedding this past Friday night!  Nichole and I have been friends for years.  She was in my wedding here and I had the privilege of being in her wedding and sharing her special day with her as well.  I look forward to now being able to share another new step in our lives together as married women learning to be the wife that God intends for us to be and to support each other along the way.  Congrats!  So happy for you and may God bless you in this new stage in life.

Today was an absolutely beautiful fall day! Andrew and I were both home all day (for once) and had lots of time to do all kinds of chores around the house!  I organized the pile of wedding supplies that were sitting in the corner of our garage staring me in the face every day, waiting for me to have a day off!  Andrew on the other hand, worked outside cleaning up the multitude of fallen leaves and pine needles that we have accumulated on our roof top, gutters, and driveway.  He bought himself a new toy (a blower / vacuum-mulcher) to help with this process and was excitedly showing me how it worked!  So, I thought I would share his excitement with the rest of you all! :) 


Honeymooning in Cali!

Gorgeous weather and lots and lots of sunshine!  Couldn't have asked for anything better.  We both LOVED it and would love to go back for another visit someday and may take time to travel around and see more of the state.

We left the night of our wedding and flew into LAX around midnight California time (which was 3AM Grand Rapids time).  So, as you can imagine, we were exhausted.  We booked a hotel room in LA for the night, just down the street from the airport, and then traveled the next day to our destination in Palm Springs, a 2 1/2 hour drive.  Along the way, the scenery was beautiful, as we drove through the mountains to our resort.  We also drove through Windy Valley where they have hundreds of wind turbines lined up in rows and on the mountain sides.  It was interesting to see.

 Downtown LA

 Driving to Palm Springs

Windy Valley

Sunday was a relaxing day, while we wanted to make sure we still observed it as the Lord's Day, we listened to a couple sermons off from Sermon Audio.  What did they do back when Sermon Audio wasn't around?  I don't know, but it was nice to have it.  Monday and Tuesday were relaxing days spent at the poolside, enjoying the sunshine.  In the evenings we walked around the resort checking things out.

 That's me in the chair, reading a book. :)

Wednesday we went on an adventuresome trail hike up a mountain.  We packed a backpack with goodies - water bottles and granola bars, purchased a couple sun protecting hats, and made sure we were ready for this strenuous trek.  It was only a 5 mile hike, can't be that bad, right?  We have both climbed mountains before so we can do this!  2.5 hours later of beating down sun, we were running low on water, legs and feet were hurting, hitting every shaded spot possible, and we were STILL not to the top!  We both had enough!  It was time to turn around and head back down.  We had no idea how much longer it would take for us to reach the top, or even how close we were to the top!  The path snaked up the mountain side so bad that we couldn't see one end from the other and get a feel for distance!  So, back down we went and 45 min later we were at our car.  Amazing how much faster you go when you are heading down hill and knowing you are heading back to the car!  It was quite the experience, but we both still enjoyed the opportunity we had to do it.
The winding road we drove to the lookout before stopping to hike

 Sawmill Trail!

 Taking a breather in the shade!

 The road we drove in on, in the distance
 Another breather...

Thursday and Friday ended up being additional relaxing days by the pool, as we didn't have the energy to do anything else, after what we did not Wednesday.  Friday night, we headed back into LA and to the airport, as we were flying out later that night back to Grand Rapids.

 Beautiful Sunset!