Friday, December 31, 2010

End of Year Book List

Just for my own personal are the books I completed in 2010:

* Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling
* Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J. K. Rowling
* The Pursuit of God - A.W. Tozer (HIGHLY RECOMMEND!)
* Reforming Marriage - Douglas Wilson (HIGHLY RECOMMEND!)
* A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - Mark Twain
* Twilight - Stephanie Meyer
* New Moon - Stephanie Meyer
* Eclipse - Stephanie Meyer
* Breaking Dawn - Stephanie Meyer
* The Tangible Kingdom - Hugh Halter
* Grace: God's Unmerited Favor - Charles Spurgeon
* Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

If I don't get another post in this year, I would just like to say that I am delighted to say goodbye to 2010. It was a pretty rough year. But...I am optimistic and hopeful for 2011. :)

Blessings to you and yours in the New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 Christmas Photos

Our very talented friend, Zach McNair took our Christmas pictures this year. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them! Here are a few of my very favorites.

the Christmas card photo winner

triple kiss that one

Thanks again, Zach! And thanks Candice for letting me borrow your sweater! ;)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Wreath Make-Over

'Member the burlap Christmas wreath I made? Well, it was looking a bit droopy and I did not enjoy looking at it when I approached my front door. So...I ripped those little flowers off the burlap, whipped up a few more and gave my front door a new look.

I'm happier with this one, I think, although I just realized that I didn't mix up the old and new buttons very well. Dang! Gonna have to get the glue gun out again! UGH! :/

------- 5 Minutes Later -------

There! Switched a few buttons around.
Now I love it! :)

Common Cures for a Cranky Christmas Spirit

This year the Christmas spirit seems to be evading me. I think its because last year I started working on Christmas in January, so by the time December came around I was as cool as a cucumber...thinking about Jesus, memorizing Bible verses, preparing for Advent and doing all kinds of Christmas activities with Braelyn. Sigh::: It was lovely.

This year has been nothing of the sort. I'm a chicken with my head cut off...scrambling to get gifts done, only doing about 1/2 homemade, Braelyn and I are using LAST year's memory verse! and I get a big fat F for Advent activities this year.

Last year ruined me, friends! It ruined me! Cause now I know what Christmas CAN be and SHOULD be. Knowing what I learned last year, and not putting it into practice this year...has just made me a bit of a Grinch.


The Christ Community's 1st Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Christmas Party brightened my Christmas spirit!

Feast your eyes, my friends, feast your eyes!

Now...I know my Christmas outfit is not what it should be for such an occasion, but I didn't want to spend money and you would be surprized and appauled at how few ugly Christmas sweaters there are these days. But don't worry friends...I will be on the hunt all year long for next year's ensemble! (Cynthia...Please take no offense! I love my green scarf and wear it for real all the time...I was just trying to be Christmas clashy. ;)

Casey, however, looked like a complete idiot in this turtleneck. I wish you could get the full effect from the picture.

C3M Girls.

With Sarah...the female winner for sure!

James...the male winner...without a doubt. That's his mom's sweater. She added pompoms just for his benefit! GENIUS!

What Casey ended up with for the White Elephant Gift Exchange. Lucky!
(I'm just kidding about being lucky to have this book. I hate having it in our house. In's in the closet outside.)

By far, the most awesome gift! Christina painted a Cease family portrait! Our friend Rope is the lucky winner of this precious work of art!

Recreating the painting.

Lori and me...just for fun.

All of us who participated in the Ugly Sweater part of the party. I know...some of us need some's gonna get better and better...just you wait!

See?! Who could be Grinchy after all that Christmas fun?!!! Being silly is such good medicine! Oh and do know what else is good medicine for the Christmas blues?...Not gonna lie...Diet Dr. Pepper. Yeah...I've fallen off the wagon a bit...but who can blame me?! How else do you make it through the mall in THE WOODLANDS? AT CHRISTMAS TIME? I'm pretty sure it's not possible without a Large Diet Dr. Pepper.

So if you are feeling down this Christmas Season...remember...
1. Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater out in public.
2. Grab a large Diet Dr. Pepper and nurse that baby all day long!

You're Welcome! ;)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If I Were on Twitter Tuesday

My Tuesday Tweet:

The Ceases LOVE getting Christmas cards!!! If we are on your Christmas card list, but don't have our new address (because I was never on the ball enough to send out "We've Moved" cards) email me at stephcease(at)gmail(dot)com and I will be happy to give it to you!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If I Were on Twitter Tuesday

My Tuesday Tweet:

Just bought some sassy new music (Dave Matthew's Band Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King) to listen to in my SASSY NEW CAR!!!!!!!

My sweet daddy just retired from the Houston Police Department after 35 years. So to celebrate he thought he'd buy some new cars! And I just got mine today...a cherry red Mazda CX-7.

I'm a happy girl!

My favorite feature...this very sturdy, non-shaky center console with cup holders! This was the most important selling point.

There she and sound in her new home!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Daddy! Love you!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Church Pics

I wanted to post a picture to go with that last post, but I didn't really have a great picture. So, last night I made everybody cozy-up for a group photo.

See...we have a real, honest-to-goodness church goin' on! :)
And yes...Casey and I are the oldest by several years. :( That's not my favorite thing about our church.

And while we are on the subject of church and photos, I thought I'd post a few pics from the Girls' Night we had last Monday. Super fun...Christmas Craft Night!

L-R: Candice, Beth, Sweet B & Jenn
Lindley and Yours Truly

And just for fun...this was my project. Copied this craft from here, a great little craft blog I have recently started following. I think one of you bloggers turned me onto this little gem. Thanks for that! :)

Burlap Christmas Wreath

Go here for instructions on making this wreath.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

C3M (Christ Community Church of Magnolia)

This post has been a long time coming...but, it seems fitting to post this on Thanksgiving. There is much to be thankful for. It's been a long 6 months, but good and necessary. So here's the first few chapters of the C3M story. As you read you should know that there have been a lot of tears and long nights and a few days here and there that I felt like packing my bags and moving back to Brenham. However, you should also know, that I feel confident in Casey's calling and ability to plant this church, in our marriage and the fact that we are well loved by God and His people. We rest in Him. We trust in Him. We press on and face the day armed with the truth of God's Word and a healthy sense of humor.

Church Planting Rule #1: Have a Bible and a sense of humor with you at all times.

After about 6 months of trying to build a core community long distance and living in two places at once and nearly losing our minds, we finally packed up our sweet little country lives and moved to The Woodlands/Magnolia area (WoodMag for short) in June. By this time, C3M had been having Sunday night services for several months. They were small and simple services, but complete with music, preaching, communion and a growing community. Things weren't perfect by any means, but we knew that many of our kinks would be worked out once we actually lived there. In the meantime, we had to cut ourselves a little slack for the good of our family. We didn't want to be burnt out before we even began. We continually asked our people for prayer and patience while we were in that transition. It seemed like our core was behind us and as anxious for us to be there as we were. Needless to say, when we got settled in WoodMag we were ready to hit the ground running with our core group and really begin the hard work of church planting.

Well...our reception to WoodMag wasn't quite as warm as we would have hoped. Where was our welcome home banner? What, no balloons? No casseroles? Nope...instead we began a series of hard conversations, which I affectionately refer to as the "It's Not You It's Me" conversations. I won't get into the dirty details, but basically we got dumped. 3 or 4 times actually. Thankfully, it wasn't for being blasphemous or heretical or anything. (Phew.) Some folks just decided that they weren't called to commit to C3M.

Yeah...those weren't super fun meetings. I might of started repacking the flatware during one of them, but just one. Anyhow...we made it through the lot of them. We prayed a lot. Learned a lot. And for sanity's sake...laughed at ourselves a lot. We made it through our first real planting had begun.

Church Planting Rule #2: Don't start a church unless you live there first.
Church Planting Rule #3: When other church planters tell you that the majority of your core group will probably leave you...believe them.

Soon enough the smoke cleared and we were able to assess the damage. Our numbers were pretty low. We did have a precious few that were with us 100%, but to continue with a full service would have been a little awkward and just unnecessary. After seeking lots of wisdom, Casey decided to transition back to a small group setting. We started meeting in our apartment over a meal and Casey started ingraining in our church the essential elements of authentic community, serving over consuming and ordering our lives after the mission of Jesus. It was a bit like starting over, but we all sensed that this slower, simpler, more intentional way of doing church was going to produce healthier fruit in the long run. God knew what He was doing. What seemed like 3 steps back to us at first, was just God moving us to better road altogether.

Church Planting Rule #4: Remember that what looks like a setback may very well be God's kindness and protection. Be thankful.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this church planting business, our little family took a hit of its own. For a brief moment we were pregnant, and then...we weren't. But I already wrote this chapter a few months ago. I called it Consider it Joy.

All things considered, it was a humbling time. A season of refinement. And while there's not too much to laugh about in this chapter, I am thankful for what we learned and how God grew our faith.

Church Planting Rule #5 (and general life rule): Share the Gospel with yourself.

For several months now C3M has enjoyed seeing the hand of God at work in our community. Something special is happening. We still meet on Sunday nights in an apartment and share a meal. Each week we discuss the Sermon on the Mount bit by bit and spend time in prayer for one another. Usually there's a group that hangs out at our apartment after church till all hours of the night which is good for community; bad for Monday mornings. We also have a community group that meets on Tuesday nights.

Casey and I are so encouraged by what we see happening on these 2 nights and throughout the whole week. One thing is for sure...God is building His church. Here are some things we are thankful for:

1. Our group is growing steadily.
2. Our people are adjusting their lives to be a blessing to others and live out the Gospel.
3. A new friend came to faith and is being baptized in a couple of weeks.
4. Our people are living with the Great Commission in mind and spurring others on to do the same.
5. Our people are eager to share and help and give and participate in what we are doing.
6. There's never a shortage of people in our apartment. We spend a lot of time laughing and hanging out.
7. The few conflicts we have had have been handled in a gracious and Biblical manner.
8. Our people are generous.

Church Planting Rule #6: Share a meal creates a family.

So that's our story so far. I will be anxious to share the next chapters with you. We have learned so much in such a short time...I can't imagine what the next year will hold. Come what may, Casey and I humbly ask that you pray for C3M and for our family.

This Thanksgiving Day we praise our Father in Heaven for His precious Son, for His Church, for C3M, for our friends and family who love us and support us unconditionally and of course...for laughter!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If I Were on Twitter Tuesday

My Tuesday Tweet:

I have been meaning to write a post about our church - Christ Community Church - for like 2 months now. If it doesn't happen by Thanksgiving, I'm shutting this whole blog down! I mean it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If I Were on Twitter Tuesday

My Tuesday Tweet:

I am super excited at this moment, as my future sister-in-law, Kelley just asked me if I could make the ring bearer pillow! What a special project this will be! Now, I'm off to do some inspiration gathering. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Coffee & Crochet

I recently learned how to crochet!
My new friend Lisa taught me and I LOVE IT. She and I met up at Starbucks this morning and we sat and drank coffee and chatted and crocheted for a good 2 hours. Sure, we looked like little grandmas sitting there, but who cares! What a great way to spend time with a friend! I'd love to coffee and crochet with you sometime! :)

This is the beginning of a scarf. Let ya know when it's done!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

If I Were on Twitter Tuesday

My Tuesday Tweet: A bit of a soapbox today

It always surprises me when I hear a couple say that it's been months or even YEARS since they've had a date night. My oh my, this cannot be, all you married folks out there! Date your spouse, and date them often. It does a family good! :)

This is a very important subject in my opinion and deserving of a full post, but for now I've only got time for a tweet. So...just take my word for it, and we can get into the whens and hows and whys and do's and don'ts another time. ;)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

Halloween Crafting:

I always like to do something fun with my pumpkins and this year I chose to do Martha's Glitter Pumpkins. They were so easy and it was a super fun project to do with B. She did a pink one...of course.

Then we gave these little guys a try. I got the idea from the gals at Our Best Bites. SO So fun, and again, a good project to do with B! She could cover her own jar, but I did help with cutting out the face pieces. That purple guy is her design, as is Madam Pumpkin face down there. (The nose ring was my genius, however :)
I wish I had a shot of them all aglow, but I don't.

Halloween Playdate:

Thanks to my fabulous friend Brandi, we had the wonderful treat of seeing just about all of our Brenham friends at a Halloween Playdate.
Such precious friends. I gotta tell you, I was a little teary-eyed on the drive home. Friendships like that don't happen everyday, do they?

Halloween Night: The Christ Community Halloween Garage Party

The folks at Christ Community got together and threw a little outdoor Halloween shindig for any passer-by trick-or-treaters. We had popcorn, free glitter tattoos (which are awesome!), a photo booth, we projected It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on our garage door, and of course, candy, candy, candy. For our first go, I would say it was a wild success.

Ke$ha & Medusa

the photo booth

gals in costume

the movie

And of course...the Queen of Hearts and Sleeping Beauty.
(Dad had no costume, can guess what happened to him ;)
Alright, one holiday down. A few more to go.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

If I Were on Twitter Tuesday

My Tuesday Tweet:

2010 Halloween Costumes:
Braelyn - Sleeping Beauty
Steph - Queen of Hearts (Thanks to a red bridesmaids dress)
Casey - Uncertain (My vote...Fred Flintstone. Alternative ideas welcome.)