Tuesday, December 31, 2013

13 Memories of '13

It's hard to believe that there are only a few hours left in 2013.  Our year has been filled with showers of blessings.  I asked my family what were some of the things we remembered from the year.  Here are thirteen of the many we came up with:
With John at the hospital
 1.  John's birth ranks first on the list without a doubt.  He is such a blessing to our family and we absolutely adore him!  He is spoiled rotten but at the same time has such a sweet spirit.  It's hard to imagine 2013 without him.
Before and after: James and William play in the freshly tilled soil, and our lush garden in late summer
2.  Our garden was bountiful this year and God provided us with a good harvest.  We have had plenty to eat and share others.  And--excitingly-- we had NO tomato hornworms!  Those frightening creatures  --who usually devour our plants--vanished without a trace.
George chasing a chicken
 3.  Although this one would probably not go down under "favorite memories",  George has had quite a memorable year with animals, both "tame" and wild.  Other family and friends have been involved in many of the encounters,. but since George is both a hunter and an animal lover, these memories chiefly belong to him.  So, without further ado, here is a sampling of George's animal adventures:  trapped and killed many possums, trapped two skunks (with a strong aroma thrown in for free), shot a deer, was bitten by a mouse (it was stuck, and he was truing to rescue it),  buried one dog and got another, shot and ate multiple squirrels, helped Joy deliver twin goats in the middle of February (while Daddy was at work and Mommy was in bed with the flu), trapped, killed, and ate a raccoon (with the help of Daddy and our friends, the Moores), and--with Samuel--sold eggs to friends and family.  It makes me tired just writing about it!
At the local spelling bee
 4.  Thomas, Anna, George, Delie, and Samuel participated in our local home school spelling bee.  They all did great, and we were thrilled when Delie advanced to the regional bee in Memphis.   My favorite memories of the bee are watching George spell R-U-S-T-I-C and watching Thomas spell anything.  He was so adorable trying to reach the microphone.
Samuel after the wedding
 5.  This has been a year of weddings.  After sometimes having years with no wedding at all, we had four!  Two of Daddy's former students married in May, a cousin in June, a cousin in August, and a friend in October; and we have two more coming up this winter.  We are discovering that the typical wedding is now anything but typical, but all four were beautiful.  Samuel was the ring bearer in our cousin Sam's wedding and was so handsome in his tux.  Wouldn't you agree?
With a live alligator and a fake one (I leave you to decide which is which)
6.  After Daddy's cousin's wedding, we stayed in Louisiana with my great aunt and uncle.  And they really were great!  They showed us around downtown Lafayette, took us to the circus, toured the Tabasco factory, and fed us what must have been tons of yummy food.  But everyone's favorite part of the trip was the swamp tour.  We saw trees, flowers, birds, and more alligators than I can remember!  Thank you, Aunt Helen and Uncle Randy, for a wonderful vacation!
At our spring recital
7.  Music was a big part of our life this year.  We took instrument lessons in the spring (we took the fall off for John's birth and the National Bible Bee) and this winter I was able to play the violin with our church and the girls and I sang in our Christmas choir.  We were very blessed to be able to spend time with the ladies of our church and learned a lot about the art of singing to the glory of God.  

No cars were hurt in the taking of this picture ;D
8.  Delie and I got our permits this year, and I got my license, so driving was (and is) a very memorable part of 2013.  We have already been able to bless our family with two more drivers.  Just don't ask Delie about the time I almost walked out of the store without the items I had just paid for.  I told her I did it just to make her feel needed :D.
The beautiful building that holds an even more beautiful church
 9.  This summer, after visiting for about a year, we joined Pleasant Plains Baptist Church.  It's a small church--less than a hundred members, I believe--but we love it all the more for that.  The fellowship is wonderful, the preaching is very biblical, and we have been very blessed by this body in the past year.  From bringing meals after John's birth to teaching us girls how to heal with herbs to praying for and encouraging our family, they have shown us time and time again what it means to be the body of Christ.
Samuel and William in a tunnel at the Chickasaw playground
10.  We went camping at Chickasaw State Park this summer.  After hiking and pedal boating in and around the lake (and being rained on quite heavily while doing the latter), Mommy and Daddy decided that camping in a storm by a lake did not sound like fun.  We all heartily agreed, but now what?  We tried renting a cabin.  The rangers told us that all the cabins had a capacity of six.  So much for that idea.  We considered returning home.  No one was really excited about that. After all, it seemed a shame to unpack everything that we had packed only hours before.  Then Daddy suggested "the Farm".  His parents' hunting cabin was warm, dry, and yet somewhat primitive.  Perfect for a rained-out camping trip.  Daddy and Mommy decided on that--and it was so much fun!  It was one of my favorite camping trips ever, and sleeping in a real bed was nice--until Anna suggested that there might be mice under the blankets.  Call us cowards, but we never pulled down the quilt to find out :D.
Still, it was a great family vacation!
Anna, Samuel, George, Delie, and Joy after the Local Bible Bee
 11.  Our year was chock full of the Bible Bee.  I've said so much about it in previous posts that I'll keep things short and sweet here.  Both Locals and Nationals were wonderful, and greatly impacted my life, both spiritually and otherwise.  I can't wait 'til next year.
Christmas with the Hayeses (left) and the Mosses (right)
 12.  We spent a lot of time with our extended family over the many holidays in 2013.  From swimming at Paw Paw's house on the 4th of July to geocaching with our Moss cousins at Thanksgiving, we made lots of special memories with the people we love.
Praying around the breakfast table
 13.  And then there is the everyday life.  Working together, playing together, praying together--these are the things that we will never forget.    Two thousand and thirteen has been a wonderful year, and as we look back on God's grace to our family we can't wait to see what His plan is for next year.
See you in 2014!
Happy New Year!
~Joy, for the Mosses

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Life of Christ

At Christmas time, we tend to focus on Jesus as a tiny baby in a manger, but he was God.  He lived, taught, died for sins not His own, and rose again.  So I wanted to share with you one of my favorite Christmas songs--The Life of Christ

This song was written by dear friends of ours, Cody and Melody Curtis.  We hope it blesses you as much as it has blessed us.

Merry Christmas!
The Moss Family

Monday, December 23, 2013

Rags to Riches: how to make an old jean skirt into a new (and cute!) apron

For Christmas this year we wanted to give my two five year old cousins aprons.  Two weeks ago I discovered that the elastic in my tiered jean skirt (you know, the one that is technically mine, but Anna permanently borrowed) had rotted.

The two above sentences seem totally unrelated, but I had an idea.  Why not cut the skirt up and make it into aprons for Helen and Amy?  I got on the internet and searched for tutorials on how to transform a women's tiered skirt into a girl's apron, but found nothing.  So, being the confident firstborn that I am, I decided to make the aprons without a guide--and live to tell about it.
Helen and Amy in their matching aprons
So here's how to turn an old skirt into a new apron:

1.  Grab a skirt past all hope.  More correctly, a skirt past all your hope.  If you are fresh out of old skirts, ask all your friends and relatives.  Or go to Goodwill.  Whatever floats your boat.

2.  Use the bottom two tiers for a child's apron (or a short one for yourself) or three tiers for a longer adult apron.  You could even add a ruffle to the bottom.  Be creative!
3.   Measure how wide you want the top of the apron to be; add one inch for hem allowance.   I wanted 12 inches, so I measured 13 inches at the top of my second tier (which will end up being the top of my new apron).

4. Draw a line down to bottom of skirt to mark where bottom of apron should be.  I used pins, but for this blog post I drew it with the paint feature on the laptop.  Oh, the beauty of the virtual.  You can even click "undo" if you draw it wrong.  Real life isn't so forgiving.

5.  Warning:  This is going to be the hardest emotional step in making a skirt.  Face your fears of ruining an already ruined skirt and cut!  Remember, this skirt was going in the trash anyway, so you can't make it's fate much worse.  I cut along the side the seam of skirt on one side and down my lovely visual line for the other.  Just make sure that the sides are (somewhat) symmetrical.  All those hours of studying geometry are finally paying off.

6.  If you are making more than one, go ahead and cut out the second using the first as a pattern.  The more the merrier!

7.  Pin side seams over 1/4 inch and iron.  Fold over another 1/4 inch (to hide the edges), pin, and iron again.  Pat self on back for being able to iron and take a picture at the same time.

8.   Hem sides.

9.  For the waistband, cut a strip of fabric 3 inches wide by however long you want long.  I used 54 inches for a five year old, but it's up to you.  If you already have an apron you love, measure the ties from end to end.
10.   Fold 1/4 inch down each side of strip, and iron.
11.   Fold another 1/4 inch (to hide the raw edges).  Iron again.
12.  Baste on to the top of your apron, but make sure that the center of the apron matches up with the center of the ties.  Or don't, if you are like the crooked man of Mother Goose fame.

13.  Sew!
14.  Turn the ends of the ties in on themselves and sew securely.
15.  Cut the threads, unplug the sewing machine, and cook up a wonderful holiday meal for your family and friends!

Repeat as wanted.  I certainly intend to.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

O Come All Ye Faithful

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

O Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all that hear in heaven God's holy word.
Give to our Father glory in the Highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sugar for Christmas

We love Sugar.  I'm not talking about that white stuff that turns up in so many delicious foods (although we're pretty partial to that, too) but about our early Christmas present from Mommy and Daddy--Sugar, our new Great Pyrenees.
Ever since Snowball died last summer, our farm has been in need of a dog.  Even though Sugar is only a few weeks old--she's one day older than John--George is trying to train her to protect our chickens, goats, and children. 
Sugar is sweet.  (No pun intended.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Perfectly (im)Perfect Tree

Our family has lots of Christmas traditions.  From racing to be the first to shout, "Merry Christmas, Christmas gift!" to acting out the Christmas story with our younger cousins to all eight of us (John excluded) sleeping in the girls' room Christmas Eve night.
But one of my (many, many) favorites is the cutting the tree.
  (Editor's note:  we've had our tree for almost a week, but it took me a while to narrow down all the pictures into a reasonably sized blog post.)

We all piled into the red truck to go get our tree from...[drumroll, please]...

our very own tree farm!   We planted a hundred trees when we first moved to the farm as a possible home business, but realized that the timing would conflict with Daddy's work schedule, so we have untrimmed--but free--trees for all our friends and relations.  Get your tree here, mister!  Fresh Christmas trees to a good home!
We all took turns chopping the tree.
All, that is, except for John.  He decided that a nap was more important.  And by the way, isn't he beautiful?! 

Samuel, Anna, and John
Mommy and Daddy
What is your family's favorite Christmas tradition?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Favorite Christmas Quotes

Christmas is only a few short days away.  The tree is trimmed in true Moss style, the gifts of the non-procrastinators [cough]  are wrapped, and the desserts are coming fast and furious.  But I wanted to take some time and focus on the TRUE meaning of Christmas--Jesus Christ, fully man, fully God, fully Savior.  There is nothing wrong in giving a gift to a loved one.  There is nothing wrong with cutting down an evergreen and bringing it inside.  There is nothing wrong with getting together with family.  But when we put these or anything else before Jesus, then we are seriously wrong. 
These are my favorite Christmas quotes because they glorify the Messiah.
*   *   *   *   *
"'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests!'  That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
-Linus, in A Charlie Brown Christmas

"Hark, the herald angels sing, 'Glory to the new-born king.'  Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!"
-Charles Wesley, from the hymn "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing"

"And Mary said,
'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.   For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.  He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.'"
-Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Luke 1:46-55

"Hallelujah!  The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever, King of kings and Lord of lords.  Hallelujah!"
-George Frederic Handel, from the "Hallelujah Chorus"

"The very purpose of Christ's coming into the world was that He might offer up His life as a sacrifice for the sins of men.  He came to die.  This is the heart of Christmas."
-Billy Graham

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Meet the Mosses

'Tis the season for family.

And gingerbread.

 And icing.  

So why not combine all three into one scrumptious reunion on the big red platter?   Have fun, little people, because pretty soon you'll be nothing but a memory!

But hey, it was good while it lasted.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Mighty Hunter

Look what someone got yesterday!  George shot this doe at Paw Paw's house--his first deer of the season.  I'm so thankful that God has provided us with meat to get through the winter, and that Daddy and George were able to go harvest it.

Looking forward to meatloaf,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bible Bee Recap--Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

The last three days of the Bible Bee were busy as we tried to pack everything in.  Although we were sad that we didn't advance, it was nice not to be nervous. :)
Sibling rivalry, anyone? :)  No, they just happened to go at the same time.
We spent a lot of time in the Family Fun Room. The boys liked the bouncy things (although I couldn't convince them to bungee jump) and the rock climbing wall. 

At the top!
George braved the climbing wall, even after his bad experience with the BB's climbing wall in 2011, and made it all the way.  Congratulations, George!
George, Daddy, Thomas, and Samuel exploding coming out of the waterslide
We also went to the hotel's indoor waterpark, the largest one in Tennessee.  Although there were some things only for the older ones, even the little boys had fun--so much so that James still talks about the about how "the bell went 'dong, dong, dong', and then all the water fell down".
Under the "Starting Line"
Another fun thing we did at the Bee was their annual square dance.  We had heard people talk about how great it was in previous years, but I still wasn't sure about it.  However, so many people we knew seemed to enjoy it, so we went just to watch.  And we ended up dancing.  And it really was fun!  There was no romantic-type stuff; it felt more like a sport.   And dancing with literally hundreds of people was a really neat experience.
"Anna, in one of your 224 memory passages, what six words come before 'may (or let) integrity and uprightness preserve me...'?"  She got it right!
We also went to the Senior and Junior semi-final and final challenge rounds.  The Senior finals were my favorite part because I had met three of the five finalists and I knew the verses.  The girls and I were able to talk with Anna F. and her sister Heidi and we were very excited when Anna placed fifth in the nation.  Congratulations, Anna!
And that concludes my Bible Bee-related posts--at least until April, when I will start encouraging you to sign up for summer 2014. :)  I'm not going to post pictures of the going home trip for two reasons.  (1)  You really don't want to see any pictures of Daddy and Samuel with the stomach bug, of everyone else completely exhausted from being up late the night before, or of me driving down an unfamiliar piece of interstate and (2) I don't have any pictures because of aforesaid driving--for some reason I don't think my family would be completely thrilled by my multitasking.
In spite of all that, we still like the Bible Bee, so much so that we still talk constantly about this year and next.  And we're not the only family who has been bitten by the "Bible Bee bug".  Watch this video by the A. family, fellow Bible Bee nuts--You Know You're in Bible Bee When...--to see what I mean.  Disclaimer: unless you're in the Bible Bee you aren't going to get any of it; if you've been to Nationals you're going to laugh all the way through.
Like certain family members did.  I'm not naming names, but one of them started with a J and ended with an OY.
I wonder who that is...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bible Bee Recap--Thursday

Thursday was the big day of the test.  We had studied and memorized and meditated until our very dreams were full of the Bible Bee (ask me about Genesis 17 and the interstate).  However, Nationals still didn't feel like a competition.  Everyone realizes that--even though all will not receive monetary awards--we have all been blessed by our study of God's Word. 
I don't have much to say about the actual test.  The written test was easy (compared to the brutal local one), but the oral test on my memory verses was much more difficult.  I got to recite one of my favorite Nationals passages (Genesis 48:14-16), but I also had to say Proverbs 31:1-8, which is always awkward at best.  Delie and Anna also had to say an unusual one--Proverbs 30:1-4.  Afterward, Anna told me that she had started giggling when she got to the "surely I am too stupid to be a man" part.  It's hard to blame her!  After the oral test we waited in "the jail", otherwise known as the Family Fun Room, until we were released.  Since I was a Senior, this wasn't until around three o'clock, so we spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing and visiting with Mamie and Big George (my grandparents) who came up for the night. 
Thursday night we gathered again for the opening ceremony, a time of celebration and thanksgiving.  I love this part of nationals because, although the semi-finalists are announced, the emphasis is not on the competition but on the Lord and His goodness and grace.
After lining up with our age divisions, each contestant...
Anna waiting in line
 walked down the aisle...
Delie and Mr. W.
  received a medal...
Joy with the Senior Division (I'm second to the end)
...and stood with their division.
Then we all went back to our families and enjoyed a Scripture presentation from Mr. Tim McKenzie and music from the Wissmans.  I was having so much fun,  I forgot the climax of the of the evening--the announcing of the top fifteen in each division.  These semi-finalists got to compete again on Friday, this time on stage.  Delie, Anna, and I did not advance, but we knew many people who did, and the next best part to being a semi-finalist is cheering on your friends who are!
Exhausted and exhilarated--I know that those two words don't go together, but that's just how I would sum up Nationals--we returned to our hotel room to enjoy the vacation aspect of the Bible Bee.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bible Bee Recap--Wednesday

Okay, now that I am no longer studying or staying up until midnight visiting with family and friends (why is the Bible Bee such a late night place?) here are some long overdue pictures from the National Bible Bee.
We only got a few honks on the way, but we got plenty of stares!  Big-green-van-packed-with-people-and-luggage  plus writing-on-all-three-sides equals long-long-looks.
We hit the road early Wednesday morning--and we only had to turn around once for forgotten baggage.  Pretty impressive, huh?  Actually, we probably would have gone back at least one more time, but Daddy had to be at work by eight.  He taught a class, and then we, bolstered by donuts and jerky (brain food!), officially left for Sevierville.
We girls studied a lot along the way, and our wonderful brothers tested us on our memory verses--when they weren't asleep.  Thomas  anonymous sibling, you know who you are. 
Delie and Anna receiving their welcome packets
We rolled into Sevierville around three thirty that afternoon.  We knew we were at the Bible Bee when we saw the row of passenger vans in the parking lot.  Just kidding--sort of.   After unloading our passenger van, we left Mommy and the boys in our spacious suite and headed across the road to the convention center. 
Just like last year, registration was an amazing experience.  All of the volunteers--many of them former contestants--were so encouraging and supportive.  The Bible Bee felt like a reunion of sorts as we caught up with old friends and met new ones.   

We were very excited and nervous as we headed back to our room for the last night before the test for which we had been studying for months...
More pictures to come, Lord willing.

P.S.  You can see our registration pictures on the Bible Bee website (click here).  We were given a copy of our "family" portrait, but I've mislaid it, so I won't be able to share it here (obviously ;D).

Friday, December 13, 2013

Winter Wonder

It's good to be home.  The Bible Bee was a wonderful experience--pictures to come, Lord willing--but "east, west, home's best".  Here is a small piece of what we've been up to this December.
We had our first snowfall last Friday!  (Northern friends take note: that white stuff on our roof is snow, not frost.  Hey, it was so serious that Daddy missed a day of work and the grocery store was sold out of milk, bread, and spinach dip mix.  You've got to love the South ;D.)

It's that time of year.  The mint-oreo-dipped-in-white-chocolate-with-peppermints-on-top time of year.  And we are loving it.  Peanut butter balls, pretzel with hugs, and cake balls are on the forecast.  Don't you wish you were here?

And as the grand finale--John Philip Moss, the most precious sight of the season.  He is absolutely adorable, and cute to boot.  And do you see the pacifier?!  I never thought I would see the day when a Moss would actually enjoy sucking on those things, but he seems to like it.
John's first smile for a camera!
But he's also pretty happy without it.   He has wrapped all ten of us around his tiny fingers, and we love him almost to pieces. 
We love him, and we are so glad that God has blessed our family with our little John.