Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Neislers!

Merry Christmas everyone!

As I looked through the year's photos, trying to find a good one for our "Christmas Card", I was reminded of what a great year Josh and I have had together in 2008. Starting in January when my little sister Emily came to Louisville to go to college, attending T4G in the spring, summer travels with Josh's family for the weddings, my big 3-0 at the end of the summer and SURPRISING news when we found out we were going to be parents this fall! Those are just the events, but the day-to-day and weekly blessings of fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ we've found through our church, the uplifting times of encouragement in our small group, and excellent teaching we receive both in school and through Clifton Baptist are highlights that aren't often photographed.

So the picture I chose is from the summer, but I liked it because the happiness you see on our faces reflects the joy in our hearts when we think about how richly we have been blessed during this year. Christ has become more dear and the gospel more precious. Our relationships with brothers and sisters have become more intimate. Our times with our families have been thoroughly enjoyable. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, and continues to pour out His favor on us. I am so humbled when I pause and reflect on blessed we are to be anticipating a baby on the way, and many, many of the other good gifts God continues to send our way.

Just a few weeks ago we had some troubling news about my heart from a cardiologist. To make a long story short, I was born with a congenitive heart defect, and the doctor was concerned that I was in trouble because of my pregnancy. God's grace and kindness have never been so close to me during those f
earful, unknowing days. I would wake up each morning thinking "thank you for today", and the Lord would pour out His grace, and make me REALLY APPRECIATE each day. His Word was like honey dripping to my tongue, and many of the Psalms I read each morning would come to mind throughout the day and even when I would wake up at night. He has been my Song in the Night, singing over me with Salvation. We were really baby-stepping along, until last Thursday when I had another consultation with a pediatric cardiologist who gave me the opposite diagnosis as the first one. We were in AWE of God's mercy to us, and overjoyed to hear the news, of course! We know He is the Giver of Life, and were so thankful that He had us walk the road of dependence on HIM for every beat of my heart (and the baby's!). PRAISE HIM for His goodness to us!

Please rejoice with us as the year wraps up by reflecting on the GIVER of all good gifts -- our sovereign, merciful God.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

7 Shopping Days until Christmas

I'm so sorry I neglected to post a book suggestion yesterday on the blog. I started writing it, and ran out of time. I taught last night at church, so I spent my lunch hour prepping for that rather than finishing my blog post.

Today's suggestion is a Christmas book. I know some of you enjoy getting out special Christmas books to either display in your home, or for the kids to read. I know a family that has all these lovely Christmas gift books on their coffee table that have been given to them from the same family over the years. A Christmas book to pull out year after year can be like an old friend -- especially if it contains the message of Christ's first advent!

The book I'm recommending is One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham. This book is a cross between a children's book (I'd say it is meant for kids, but lots longer than most picture books) and a gift book. It begins with a boy being lost in a snowstorm and finding his way to a kind old lady's home where she takes him in, and tells him the story of redemption, starting with creation, and tracing the need for Christ all the way until His coming. She tells him about Christ's death and resurrection, too. This book is rather long, and beautifully illustrated (though there's not a picture on every page). Last year we had people asking to buy it at the bookstore, and were not able to get it, but this year, we're selling it for $5! I've been recommending it as a hostess gift, or a small add-on gift to unbelieving family or friends. Some of the girls I know here are nannies for nominally Christian families, and I thought it would be a simple gift for the kids. Or maybe you would like it for your kids!

I'll be back tomorrow to complete my week of books-for-gifts recommendations.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

9 Shopping Days until Christmas

Today I want to feature a book that is for kids, but would make an excellent family gift, or for someone who is a book lover. It is Dangerous Journey: the Story of Pilgrim's Progress by Oliver Hunkin. This children's version of the Christian classic is well told and amazingly illustrated. If you'd like to look at the inside, here is the link to the Amazon reader. However, I would never advise you to endanger your local retailers by buying online! Please check with your local bookstore or bookstore chain and see if they can get this wonderful book for you.

We have been reading Pilgrim's Progress with our small group this year, and I have found it to be so insightful and encouraging. I know several families that read Dangerous Journey together as a family, or with the children before they go to bed, and the timeless story of Christian's travels never grow old! I LOVE this book! Perhaps you'd like something classic like this to give as a gift to a family that means a lot to you, or you're looking for a meaningful gift for your own child or niece or nephew -- this is the best suggestion I can think of!

Monday, December 15, 2008

10 More Shopping Days Until Christmas!

I've decided this week to feature a book each day in case any of you are looking for a great last minute Christmas idea! Maybe you are behind the game a tad (like I am), and still have several hard-to-buy-for people on your list. Hopefully I can give you some good suggestions.

Today I want the feature the NEW ESV Study Bible! This study Bible came out in October, and is FULL of great notes, color maps, articles, and comes with a free on-line study aid that you can only use if you own the Bible. My friend Pam claims the on-line part is her favorite part of the ESVSB because you can make "notes" in the margins, search the text and articles, etc. My pastor, Tom Schreiner, was the editor for the New Testiment of the ESVSB, and wrote the study notes for several of the books, as well as quite a few articles. The layout of the Bible is beautiful, easy to read, and useful.

Here's the great part! Right now, my store is featuring the ESVSB in hardback, simulated, bonded, genuine and calfskin leather ALL at 50% off their regular price! This is an AMAZING sale, especially right before Christmas! Please let me know if you are interested in having one of those in time for Christmas, because I'd be glad to ship you one (if you live out of the area), or hand deliver (if I will be seeing you before Christmas!). You can contact me through e-mail, or call me at work (502-897-4506).

Check back tomorrow for the next book in my Christmas countdown!

Friday, December 12, 2008

World's Easiest (and YUMMY) Christmas Cookies!

I have probably share maybe ONE recipe on my blog so far (as much as I like to cook, that's not usually what I use my blog for). But I had to put this up for you. In the spirit of saving time and enjoying the Christmas season, you may want to try these very easy and fast cookies. I made them this afternoon in about a half hour.

I got this recipe from a girl at church after eating WAY too many of her cookies at a VBS meeting. I told her how great they were, and she immediately wrote the recipe down for me. I have used it one time and can give it to you from memory:

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

2 cups Bisquick
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cups peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together the 3 wet ingredients, then add the Bisquick. Roll into balls, and roll in sugar (it's surprisingly not sticky). Bake 8 minutes at 350. Press a Hershey kiss in the middle of each cookie right when it comes out. These seriously are BETTER than most PB kiss cookies I've had (and I am a HUGE PB eater -- love it!). It saves time because of the few ingredients, and little measuring. Plus no sitting out butter to soften, or chilling the dough.

Save some time and make a batch of these!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Enjoying the Season

This year I've really been enjoying the Christmas Season. Maybe I'm procrastinating, but I haven't been caught up in racing around everywhere this year, but have been taking the days slowly and enjoying them one at a time. God's grace is so sweet to me right now, and I'm enjoying quiet mornings sitting by the light of the Christmas tree in His Word. We rearranged our living room so that it would fit in there this year, and I'm so glad we did. I love the tree to be very well lit (I think I inherited this from my dad who inherited it from his dad -- those are some LIT UP trees). My tree has 100 lights per foot. This picture is taken with no other lights on in the room and no flash on the camera! It really only looks this bright when it's dark out, but I just love the soft warm glow in the morning.

I have a few gifts bought (but not wrapped), one batch of cookies made (and nearly all eaten), and have listened to hours of Christmas music. It has been great taking it a bit slower this year and just enjoying Christ and the season! Here are some links to a few really great posts by GirlTalk on planning your time during the Christmas season so you can focus on Christ. May Christ give you joy in your preparations!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pictures in which I look pregnant!

Holding the McCurdy's baby at Johanna's wedding (my sister said "don't show that to anyone! you look pregnant!")

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Post I've Been Waiting to Write

Guess what?

I've picked up some new reading material (side bar soon to be updated).

But sadly, I've been way too sick to read a whole lot lately. If I'm not crouching in the bathroom losing my lunch, I'm laying on the bed hoping it will pass.

And I've been falling asleep earlier, and having a harder time getting out of bed, which cuts into the reading, big time.

But that's okay! I feel like it's worth it. 6 months from now, I'm REALLY sure I'll think so.

We're pretty happy.