Category Archives: Family News

Random Life

Life is full of sweet times. From ice cream with a sister-in-law, to picking apples and then processing them, to walks with the nieces and nephews, to ministry with family–we are abundantly blessed.

May we treasure each moment the Lord has given us!

Love,
Sarah

Summer walk with lots of great company
Celebrating Melanie’s birthday

Apple processing!
Cleaning the slide
Grandpa and Drew playing trains
Jesse’s birthday
Talk about lots of little helpers!

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1

Preparing for the Implausible, The Importance of a Fire Safety Plan Part 2

We’re happy to bring you the second and final part on the importance of a fire safety plan (Part 1 is here). As was shared in the first one, it’s easy to think it’ll never happen to us, but that is not a wise “plan.” We must be prepared. It could mean the difference between life or death!


I went into the children’s bedroom and yelled, “Get out! Fire.” Some woke faster than others. The smoke alarms were about ready to scream. The children were dreamy and confused, but they had practiced this drill before. They grabbed nothing. They didn’t hesitate. They didn’t ask questions. They didn’t argue. They were obedient. They all went together down the stairs and out the front door. They continued on to the barn in the middle of a frigid, dark February morning. They didn’t even have socks on as they stood waiting on the frozen ground. But, four of them were there waiting. It was so dark that my wife couldn’t see them, and in terror, yelled out their names to find them while on the phone with the 911 dispatcher. She had already placed two children in the car, as well as the two dogs, but in the utter chaos, our disoriented four-year-old left the car to head back into the house, inadvertently letting the confused dog out also. God truly did orchestrate every moment of that night. I was running to the front door to throw my wife the car keys when the dog and four-year-old came strolling back in. By God’s grace, I was at the right place at the right time to return them to safety. We had a fire plan, but God had a rescue plan.

As part of a fire plan, we had very important pictures and documents in three places that could be easily carried out just in case. All of our family photos, videos, titles, birth certificates, etc. were retrieved quickly, since we had them in one movable chest just for such an event. We had a fire extinguisher, and I ran upstairs to attempt to fight the flames. The smoke had already infiltrated the room, and opening the attic door could make things much worse. I ran back down stairs to remove several other items. Smoke rolled down the stairs behind me. The bearded dragon and hermit crab were not going to make it. I covered my nose with my shirt to get the guinea pigs, but the smoke was much more powerful than I ever imagined. It was much different than a campfire. It was so toxic to my lungs that I could not tolerate even the smallest amount. The guinea pigs would be gone.

In less than 10 minutes after seeing the first smoke, the entire house was impenetrable. How much time would my children have had upstairs? The sound of 10 smoke detectors blaring on a quiet, country night will never leave my mind. The fire department arrived. The movies make it look so easy. There’s flames and some smoke, but, unless one has experienced a residential fire, the darkness of the smoke is hard to fathom. When the flames come through the roof and the firefighters continually spray endless water into your upstairs windows, the reality hits.

I needed to retrieve one item after the firefighters were finished. It had taken several hours and required multiple departments. They escorted me into the dining room where I had just been hours earlier enjoying the flames from the stove. Water was running out of the door like a river. Reality hits.

Through all of this my family was safe at the neighbors. We had all made it out of a 1am house fire. We’d find out later that somehow the guinea pigs had lived, too. God had a plan. I believe He set that plan on our hearts for just that night.

What is God planning for you? Have you felt the urge to check your smoke alarm batteries? It could be the Spirit giving you the nudge.

Have you felt the need to create a fire evacuation plan for your children? Could it be the Spirit whispering in your ear because He knows something that you don’t?

It’s overwhelming to consider how many events needed to unfold that day to place me alert and awake on the couch at 1am. I believe there was an intruder in our attic that night. It was the Holy Spirit. He wasn’t there to destroy, but to save. Even through it all, we have nothing but thankfulness. We serve an awesome God, and we owe him all the glory! We earnestly pray that everyone will listen for the Lord’s plans in their own lives. If you have never set in place a fire escape plan or practiced fire safety we strongly encourage you to take the time to do so!

Cody

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7

Happy 23rd Birthday, Jesse!

Jesse Maxwell

Happy birthday to my amazing brother! I’m so grateful for the Lord’s gracious gift of Jesse to our family.

This guy is genuine, has an incredible heart for Jesus, is extremely creative, takes his work seriously and diligently, and loves to minister and share the gospel.

We hope this next year is one of great blessing! Happy birthday, Jesse!

Please leave a comment below with your birthday greetings!

Jesse Maxwell

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;
(for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider
one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”
Hebrews 10:23-24

Easy Homemade Chocolate Syrup for Mochas

I want to share with you this super easy homemade syrup that I use in my mochas.

It’s simple. 1 cup cocoa, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, a little salt, and vanilla
Add cocoa.
Sugar.
Stir.
Salt.

We use this baking cocoa purchased from either SAMS or Costco.
Heat to boiling and then let boil (still stirring).
The finished product: oh so good!
Store in a glass jar.
Drizzle on top of your mocha too!

Chocolate Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (or a little more)

 

Turn burner on medium heat, and combine cocoa and sugar in saucepan. Immediately add water and whisk. Add salt. Stir occasionally until mixture boils. Keep stirring as it boils, and allow it to boil for at least 1 minute. This will help the sauce to thicken. Remove from heat, and add vanilla. This rich chocolate syrup is perfect for homemade mochas or any type of hot (or cold!) drink. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

How much should you add to your mocha? It depends if this is the only sugar and how sweet you like it. I, for one, like my drinks sweet!

Enjoy!

“My meditation of him shall be sweet:
I will be glad in the Lord.”
Psalm 104:34

Preparing for the Implausible, The Importance of a Fire Safety Plan Part 1

We feel this blog reader’s story is critical for others to hear and take to heart. A fire safety plan is so imperative to have and practice!


“It will never happen to us. I’ve seen house fires on the news
before, but they’re so rare. The probability of having one is so low
that it’s basically implausible!”

This is what I used to think, and partially, I was right. If one crunches the numbers, it’s unlikely one would ever experience such an event. Nevertheless, if it did happen, what could be the consequences?

This story not only emphasizes the importance of having a fire safety plan but also the importance of recognizing God’s working in our lives. Our own plan helped us through that terrible morning, but it was the Lord that saved us.

When I was younger, I was so good with fire that I was named the official fire starter in my Boy Scout troop. I’d been living in wood heated homes for most of my life. Cutting and splitting wood in the freshly fallen snow was a favorite family tradition. The highlight of winter was starting our wood stove in our dining room and watching the flames through the glass door. I’ve never smelled anything better than the aroma of hot black cherry coming from the chimney on my walk to the barn on a frigid winter day. Now, I have anxiety just smelling smoke.

I’d like to think that my wife and I were so smart that we came up with our annual safety plan all on our own. We lived in an old, two-story farm house, heated with wood, and had all six of our kids sleeping upstairs, so such a plan would seem wise. But, more than that, we were convicted in the Spirit. It was the Lord’s providence that set a plan in our hearts. We never thought that we’d actually need one. He had a plan, and we listened.

The fire plan was as simple as possible, since under the conditions one might get confused, and time would probably be critical. If the smoke alarms went off, they would yell “fire!” and wake all of their siblings. They were not to leave anyone behind. They were to take nothing … no blankies, no stuffed animals, no pets, no toys. Making sure everybody was awake and together, they’d make their way to the safest exit … down the stairs, out the landing window above the porch into the bushes, or via the window escape ladder they had in their own room. We hadn’t actually practiced the latter option, since it was quite terrifying!

Once they were out, they were to all meet in front of the barn and stay there until an adult came. They were not to go anywhere! If, after a time, it seemed that an adult was not coming, they were to run to the neighbors for help. We’d rehearse this every year in the fall before I’d start a fire. I’d quiz them intermittently on what they were going to do if they heard the smoke alarm. I had about 10 smoke alarms in the house. That seemed excessive at the time, but now one per room is the minimum. I made sure that they were all working. Are those square batteries expensive? I used to think so.

I had worked that Saturday, and my wife had returned home late from her extremely postponed family Christmas dinner. Presents filled the living room, and everyone was exhausted. The kids were asleep, and we made our way to bed. Everything was exactly how it was every other night; the stove being no exception. At about 1am, my wife wakes me to talk.

Only a few days before the event.

She said she’d had too much caffeine from the party and couldn’t sleep. Typically, this would be completely inadvisable, given my nighttime and morning demeanor! But, that night I was conversational. Shortly after, my three-year-old daughter comes strolling in to sleep in our queen sized bed with the two dogs and our one-year-old, who had already awoken to nurse.

I made my way to the couch and had just laid down when I heard a very peculiar noise. I got up and checked the dining room for a cat that was not supposed to be in the house. I looked around the dining room, found no cat, and laid back down. Then, there was a very loud “crash” from the attack. Intruder! Robber! Thief! Someone was in the house. They’d been hiding in our walk-in attic and tripped over all the junk trying to sneak around. I grabbed my weapon of choice and ran up the stairs. My heart was pounding, not knowing what I was going to see when I turned the corner to the landing. The light was already on, instantly revealing the enemy. Smoke was rolling in around the attic door. The house was on fire.

Cody


Look for Part 2 next week, you won’t want to miss this ending.

Cody, his wife, and their sweet children!

“He shall cover thee with his feathers,
and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night;
nor for the arrow that flieth by day.”
Psalm 91:4-5

A Day in the Life of Sarah Maxwell

The day starts out at 6 am as the alarm goes off. I take Ellie outside and prepare for Bible time at 6:15.

I recently completed a Bible read through, so I decided to work through some random places. Isaiah is so good! I like to journal my favorite verse, something I learned from Sweet Journey.

I’m done with Bible and prayer at 7, and next up is exercise! Anna plans a great workout complete with dips, pushups, pullups, squat jumps, and other exercises.

This sweet, energetic dog is really cute to stay in that little corner while we workout.

Any morning it’s possible, I try to take Ellie on a walk. This particular morning, the temps are amazing. Like autumn. Think pumpkin, sweaters, and maple syrup candles. Mmmmm.

When I get home, I enter Titus2.com orders in for Mary to pack. This involves putting each customer’s order into QuickBooks and then printing labels. I try to do this right away each morning so they’re ready for her, as she likes to pack them while she’s drinking her breakfast smoothie.

Now, I’m finally ready for the day, and I have a great, homemade mocha to enjoy too.

I do bookkeeping for 4 different companies, and today, I am focusing on one in particular. I work on invoicing and a credit card reconcile.

I love opportunities to enjoy the wonderful weather, and I go outside to say hi to the kiddos Mom is playing with during her scheduled time. They love Ellie!

Ellie is a great work buddy, staying with me most of the time, unless it’s her once-a-day special milk bone treat from Dad. In that case, she hangs around in his office until she gets it.

You never know who might be or not be at lunch. Today’s group is small (Jesse is taking the picture).

We have a new friend. We’ll have to share about him later, but he’s really taken to our family.

More invoicing! Yes, I actually use a ball as a chair. I’ve done so for several years and much prefer it over a regular office chair. It’s very comfortable and easy on one’s back. I really should be writing the Mom’s Corner newsletter to be sent soon, but I don’t get that in.

 

I aim to post at least three blog posts each week. This means that every other day, I’m working on a post. Today, I’m finishing out Colorado. Here’s how I produce a post. I use Adobe Lightroom to organize and work on my pictures. In this instance, I already had the pictures imported and flagged. But in a normal instance, I sort through the pictures, flagging pictures I Iike or rejecting photos I don’t. Next, I apply a filter in Lightroom to only show flagged pictures. I toggle through each one, deciding if I like them all still. Sometimes I have WAY too many photos, so I might ask Anna or Mary to help me narrow them down. After that, I will retouch photos. Generally, I apply a bit of brightness, darken the blacks, and add a little clarity and vibrance.

A peek into my Lightroom setup

Finally, I export the images to a quality that is good for the blog. Then, I upload the pictures. I do the best writing a post in WordPress (our blog interface) itself. Sometimes if I don’t have a good Internet connection, such as in Colorado, I’ll write the post first in Pages. But to be honest, that’s hard. I just don’t think so well unless I’m in my blog interface.

Working on a blog post

Next, I insert pictures where I want them in my post. I’ll preview the post also to check and see how the formatting looks or if I’ve missed something. The featured image (on the header) can be tricky to pick out as it has to be landscape and narrow, but it adds interest to the post.

I finish out the day with family dinner on the back deck, Bible time, a walk, and more blog work!

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into a day in my life.

Love,
Sarah

“Commit thy way unto the LORD;
trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
Psalm 37:5