Recording Session #2

We would appreciate prayers as again, this afternoon/evening/late evening, the next recording session will be going on. This time, we are able to start two hours earlier. Thank you for praying. We are so grateful!

The Maxwells

“For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me” (Psalms 31:3).

“She’s Not Heavy, She’s My Daughter”

Some of the guys have been doing a push-up challenge, which means they have a certain number of push-ups they do each day (increasing by the day, beginning December 1st and going to December 31st). Recently, Nathan had one last set of fifteen to do, when a delighted Abby asked for a “ride.” Even though Nathan was worn out, he happily agreed to let his little girl on for a “ride” if she would hold on tight. We thought it was so precious, we (Sarah) did a little photo session of the “push up ride” with a daddy and his little girl.


“Aunt Mary, is your daddy going to help you too?” This was the question posed after Abby was told that Aunt Mary was going to make a gingerbread house.

The background to the story is that Nathan makes it a priority to spend time with Abby, and he’s quite creative with how he does this. Last week, they had a special father/daughter time making a gingerbread house. So, when Aunt Mary said she was going to put a gingerbread house together, Abby naturally wanted to know if Aunt Mary’s daddy was going to help her.

We have loved to see the priority Nathan makes in spending time with his family. His work schedule can be demanding at times, so that means it just has to have a special emphasis to make time with the family happen. One way he does this is taking Abby on as many errands as he can. He also makes pancakes with his little girl every Saturday morning. They are pretty cute together for sure.

Dads and Moms, are you allowing the busyness of the season to crowd out spending precious time with your children? Even a small thing such as making a gingerbread house can create wonderful memories that your children will remember for years.

All of us children have fond memories of special things we do each Christmas season, and it’s such a joy to celebrate together!

Merry Christmas!


“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7).

A Funny Twist for a Small World

I like to strike up conversations when I’m out. A while ago I was at the grocery store in the produce department. Specifically, I was picking up some parsley. I had it in my basket when a man caught my attention. He was a little over sixty, wearing worn bib overalls that had seen better days. What surprised me was he was looking at bunches of collard greens with real scrutiny, picking up one and then another. Finally, he had the right one and put it in his cart. Now this man did not look like the typical healthy eater. With a big smile “in hand” I nudged him and said, “Are you really going to eat that stuff?”

With an even bigger smile, he said, “No way! They’re fer my guinea pigs at home.”

I laughed and then confessed, “Well that’s what my parsley’s for too!”  You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Never in all my life would I have assumed that man had guinea pigs. He was probably thinking the same thing about me.


“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Peanut and Butter
Posing for the blog picture (out of their cage).

Anna’s Graduation

It was with great joy that our family gathered together for the sixth of our homeschool graduations last Saturday evening. This one was for Anna, who was our first child to graduate early. She has worked hard on her school requirements, and she was able to complete them several months before her normal graduation time, which would have been next May.

Anna wanted to have the same family graduation that several of her siblings have chosen. This graduation included not only our family, Gigi and Grandad, Nathan, Melanie and their girls, but also Christopher and his new wife, Anna Marie.

Anna chose the menu for our dinner. After eating, we had our family Bible time and then moved into a season of blessing, challenge, and prayer for Anna. We each had a verse written out to share with Anna, and then we prayed individually for her. Even 2-year-old Abigail had a verse from Psalm 1 that she quoted. This is the highlight of the graduation for all of us as we reflect back on the thirteen wonderful years of homeschooling Anna and look forward to what the Lord has for her future.

I am amazed at the importance the children have placed on prayerfully selecting graduation gifts for their graduating siblings. They invest heavily in these gifts, and their choices reflect a great deal of love and thoughtfulness. We all enjoyed watching Anna as she opened her graduation presents.

At the end, there was one present left, but instead of opening it, Anna brought the present to me. Then she proceed to read me the most touching three page letter sharing how much homeschooling her had meant to her. She and I both cried as she read it aloud – maybe everyone in the room was crying with us. Anna had looked long for the exact gift she wanted give – a Precious Moments figurine of a young mommy in a rocking chair holding a Bible and another book with two children sitting at her feet. It is now a cherished possession sitting on my dresser.

As we see the work the Lord Jesus has done in Anna’s heart and the delightful young woman He has grown her into, we rejoice in who she now is and what she will still become as she follows and serves Him.

We are also blessed beyond measure that our adult children, who could choose to leave our home when they turn eighteen, want to live here and continue to be a daily part of our family until the Lord gives them a family of their own. We love each other, we enjoy being together, we build each other up in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in that atmosphere, they want to remain.

Trusting in Jesus,

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Anna had homemade peppermint patties and ice cream for dessert.
Playing with Abby and Uncle Joseph while dinner cleanup was done.
Bible time
Nathan (the first graduate many years ago) and Abby
Abby and Aunt Anna (I -- Sarah -- will tell you in another post why I was working with Abby on posing.)
John praying for Anna after sharing his verse. By the way, for those who have noticed our mantle is plain this year, we discovered that our garland with plaques became too hot last year near the fire. Dad's figuring out a way to put them up.
Anna and Mom
Dad and Anna
Grandad sharing with Anna
Mary gave Anna a photo book she worked hours on, with pictures of Anna throughout her childhood years.
Anna received a beautiful dress watch from Joseph.
Taking the gift to Grandma.
Reading her letter to Mom.
Nathan did the calligraphy on both John and Anna's diplomas.


After consulting our schedules for the month, it appeared we were going to need to take Wednesday, December 8th, as our caroling day: rain, snow, or no snow, warm or cold. For the past two years, we had waited for the snowiest day in December, and last year, we definitely experienced a memorable evening. In fact, this time, people were mentioning how much better the weather was then the last time we came.

The weather was dry as a bone, and mild, with temperatures around thirty. Some of us didn’t even wear ear bands! It felt different to not have to bundle up. Late morning, Anna began the baking adventure. It was decided this year to make Poppy Seed bread, and the process was much less time-consuming then the yeast cinnamon bread. Thanks, Anna, for all your work. 🙂

We are greeted with enthusiasm and smiles as we carol, with people commenting about “last year” or your “group is growing.” I guess it must have seemed like we were increasing in numbers, but somehow, that wasn’t the case this year. Nathan ended up having a work emergency he needed to deal with, and Melanie stayed back with Bethany. Grandad and Grandma’s health does not allow them to come anymore, so it was the eight of us, plus Christopher and Anna Marie, and we had the privilege of bringing one of our adorable nieces along, Miss Abby.

If you haven’t taken the time to go caroling as a family, we’d encourage you to consider it. We visit anywhere from 30-40 homes, singing one Christmas carol and then ending with the standard “We wish you a Merry Christmas” chorus, give the recipient the treat with a card from us, and bid them a “Merry Christmas” as we leave. We hear from our neighbors how meaningful this short visit is and how much they appreciate it. It certainly is a blessing for our family that we look forward to each year.

Sarah for the rest

Jesse stopped in to see how things were going.

Putting the glaze on.

Caroling to Grandad and Grandma, a semi-sweet time, as we remembered all the years we did it together.

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23).


Poppy Seed Loaf

3 cups flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/8 cups oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons Poppy Seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons almond flavoring
1 1/2 teaspoons butter flavoring

Mix all ingredients for 1-2 minutes. Pour into 2 large, lightly greased loaf pans (in our case, we bought foil pans from the store and divided each batch into three loaves). Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until toothpick comes out clean.

1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring

Cool cake 5 minutes. Then, pour glaze over cake. While warm, remove from pan.