Full House and Happy Hearts

Last weekend, we were in Kansas, celebrating Christmas with the extended family Saturday, the 23rd. What an incredible, growing bunch they are! You should have heard all the happy talk, laughter, little kids, and joy.

This year, we tried something a little different. Each adult (excluding Dad + Mom) was in a pool of names, and they gave to just one person. Then, the cousins each gave to one cousin plus an aunt or uncle. Some of freely shared who our person was, while others kept it a secret until the day. We really enjoyed being able to just focus on two people! Dad and Mom gave and received gifts from everyone. One thing I especially loved was hearing how the little ones came up with ideas for the aunt or uncle they bought for all on their own.

I’m grateful for family.

And now we are in Iowa, gathered for John and Chelsy’s wedding!


Dad and Drew

Drew knew what he wanted to buy for Uncle Joseph: work rubber boots! That little guy was so excited!

John went to Iowa the day before to spend time with the Bontragers + extended family, and then he and Chelsy came to celebrate with us Saturday!

You probably don’t understand how special of a gift the above was! Andrew had Ruthie, and he wanted to get her glasses, as Ruthie loves Tina’s glasses. That look is priceless.

Liddy had Mary!

Calia’s love of animals came through with her gift!

A selfie going on here.

Ruthie knew she wanted to get me a hat and a pink one!

Drew making use of his new dump truck.

My sweet “puppy.”

This is an extremely practical gift: a director’s chair for Mary to use with face painting.

Melanie did an incredible job with calendars for Dad and Mom. I love looking through them.

Mary’s labor of love making cards for GiGi!

Some rested in the afternoon, and some of us played games.

We did our traditional Christmas program in the evening.

“The meek shall eat and be satisfied:
they shall praise the Lord that seek him:
your heart shall live for ever.”
Psalm 22:26

Sunflower’s Christmas Miracle in Real Life

My Christmas season has been all the sweeter hearing feedback via e-mail and letters from those who are enjoying Sunflower’s Christmas MiracleI’m very grateful for the Lord’s grace during that exciting writing season, and after having caught up on work (yay!), I’m ready to jump back into writing.

Enjoy some Titus2 blog reader pictures!


“By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God, and keep his commandments.”
1 John 5:2

The Unexpected Gift

Friday morning, Melanie took her children to the Dollar Tree so they could shop. The girls love planning and buying gifts for others. Nathan and Melanie have done an incredible job of cultivating a giving heart, an example set just by how they live.

As Melanie and crew stood in line, each one with their purchases separated, Melanie helped Tina count out her money. Suddenly, the man behind them said, “I’ll take care of hers.”

For a moment, Christina didn’t realize what this meant, and Melanie explained that the man was buying her gifts for her. Tina thanked the man very much, and Melanie told him that what he’d done was a lifetime lesson for her children. The man had only stopped in for a few items, and he paid triple what he had begun with to bless a child in a way she’ll forever remember. What an overwhelming example. This touched me deeply. Simple acts of kindness have far-reaching impact.

Merry Christmas!



“… It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Acts 20:35

Caroling, A Long Lost Tradition

Sunday late afternoon, we embarked on our yearly tradition of caroling to neighbors. We first started caroling almost 25 years ago with Grandad and GiGi to the route GiGi delivered Meals on Wheels to. Over time, we began doing it in our neighborhood. We’re guessing maybe 10-15 years. Whomever in the family can come is welcome, and this year, everyone was able to make it (including the 10-days-away-from-wedding-date groom).

Without question, Sunday evening turned out to be our best ever! It seemed most everyone was home, the temperatures moderate, the joy on our friends’ faces amazing, and the little ones sang out like never before. Truly a sweet time to share Jesus’ love through Christmas cheer, smiles, and Poppy Seed Bread! Mom was an amazing gem to make all that bread, and Anna and Mary worked hard on creating beautiful cards to go with them.

I encourage you, if you have children old enough to sing, start this tradition! It’s worth it.


Ellie came this year. She was on pretty high energy mode. Out with all her fave littles and going to new places!
Praying before we began

Anna managed to work with all the little ones and somehow keep track of who could ring the doorbell next. It wouldn’t be too neighborly to have the bell rung 5 times!

Liddy liked Jesse to carry her around.

Such a good-looking couple! And Ellie looks like a natural with them.

The Maxwell Family–LOVE you ALL!

Quite a bunch of littles!

Calia was totally into any house that had an animal.
After our main caroling, some of us drove and caroled to some other friends.
And then Monday evening, a small number of us caroled to others in a different neighborhood.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you
good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
Luke 2:10

Christmas Random Life

One week from today is Christmas! It’s probably cliche to say where did the time go? But it’s true. Where did it go?

That aside, it’s Christmas time, and I love that. I want to give you another peek of random life. Everyone here is balancing work, Christmas activities, and for John, house prep, wedding, and work. We’re grateful for how the Lord has filled our time, and I can’t wait to share with you later about our annual Christmas caroling last night.

I’d love to hear 1 special Christmas tradition you enjoy!


Brunch with sweet friends.

Making a Christmas gift to send to a friend!

LOVE this one! We watched Calia one night, and this was the set up during Bible time.

John Maxwell and Teri

An early morning help-John-clean-up-before-carpet-came session!

A Nathan Maxwell family outing!

Nathan’s birthday

Arnold kind of gets himself into fixes sometimes.

Nathan’s kiddos concerned when their neighbor had to be taken to the hospital. I love Nathan and Melanie’s hearts for their neighbors!

Betsy with white-chocolate covered Oreos.

Surprising Nathan with decorating outside, something he hadn’t had time to do.

This was a special make-pizza-with-Daddy night. Something Christopher does annually with his children! So sweet.

Anna took Betsy to the store to get a wreath for Grandad’s grave. Sweet aunt + niece time.

Remembering Grandad.

Yep, that’s Benjamin! Cute little guy.

Out shopping.

This was a really great photo–Ellie and Arnold. Hmm. Looks like something is up?!

Anna worked on caroling cards.

Dad, Mom, and Anna tackled a huge basement organizing project Saturday.

And Mary and I went to Kansas City to go Christmas shopping. On what was likely the busiest day of the season, but when one’s schedule doesn’t work to go earlier, well, you take what you can get! We had a delightful time, talking, getting coffee, and shopping!

We do a lot of our shopping online! 🙂

Bless Mom’s heart. She made over 40 loaves of Poppy Seed Bread. That’s a lot!

Finishing out with smiles from Betsy and me!

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”
(Matthew 2:10)