Personal Post – A Wedding Story


After 3 years, 1 month and 14 days of dating (half of which was long distance) the day finally came that I would become my best friend’s wife and change my last name!

An 11AM wedding on December 20th 2014! And an outdoor wedding at that! But, it was Central California so all was well!

The morning DRAGGED by!

My bridesmaids brought me some breakfast and Chrystal did my hair. Finally, my Aunt, who had made my dress, came up to help me do all those buttons up and my grandmother’s string of pearls was clasped around my neck.

Out we went for some pictures. Jeremiah and I would not see each other before the ceremony but we could get some of them done early! It was an overcast, yet pleasant morning that made for perfect lighting!

I still vividly remember my Grandpa coming up and giving me a big hug with a cup of coffee in his hand. Grandpa always had a cup of coffee if there was coffee to be had! Thankfully he had a steady hand!

Eleven O’Clock finally rolled around, guests were seated down the field on old wooden pews that once filled the little camp chapel, Uncle Craig played hymns on his guitar, I held my Pa’s arm and my bride’s maids were lined up in front of us waiting for their cue. From where I stood I could make out Jeremiah and his grooms men making their way across the field to their place.

This spot was where I always pictured my wedding taking place. My home. Below the hill with a cross standing at its peak. Surrounded by people I love. Today it was a reality.

My maid of honor reached the front, picked up her violin and began to play.

Papa and I reached the aisle and stopped there.

My Father-in-law stood with Jeremiah at the front and explained how a wedding depicted Christ and His love for the Church and how one day God the Father will tell His Son to go claim His bride and we will forever be with the Lord!

Turning to Jeremiah, he said, “Son, go get your bride!”

Jeremiah ran down the isle and there my Papa gave me to him.

Together we walked to the front where my new dad prayed for us and together all joined to sing the Doxology

Praise God from whom all blessing flow

Praise Him all creatures here below

Praise Him above all heavenly hosts

Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost

Papa them came to give us a wedding charge.

Jeremiah and I turned to talk to our guests about how we invited them to witness our vows and we want them to take the responsibility to hold us accountable to our promises.

We made our vows to each other, until death do us part.

I was slightly excited and when we exchanged our rings and I whispered to Jeremiah to make sure I was putting it on the correct hand. Of course we were miked so everyone heard and chuckled.

Before God and our witnesses we were pronounced man and wife.

Jeremiah kissed me for the very first time.

We thought it was time to make our grand exit but my Papa had other plans and pulled out a large family Bible and had our attendance sign as witnesses of our vows.

Jeremiah then picked me up and carried me down the isle! He had never scooped me up before so I clang on to him for dear life. He assured me that he was strong enough to easily carry me and that I could loosen up!

Finally, I was Mrs. Shively!

I am so thankful for the man God gave me and for how well he loves me as Jesus loves the Church!

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Applesauce Cinnamon Ornaments

Last year I was able to make these fun applesauce cinnamon ornaments at our local Moms group. Literally the only ingredients in these ornaments is applesauce and cinnamon.

I know, it sounds weird, but it works!

You do need lots of cinnamon.

LOTS of cinnamon.

The recipe is simple. Just mix together in a large bowl:
1 portion Cinnamon
1 portion Applesauce

In other words, use a 1:1 ratio of cinnamon and applesauce. Believe it or not, this combination of applesauce and cinnamon turns into a dough that can be rolled out and cut like sugar cookies! Use cinnamon as flour on the table surface to keep the dough from sticking.

At the Moms of Hot Springs gathering, there were 6-8 ladies who made ornaments. Between all of us, we used 2 large jars of applesauce and about 2 1/2 large Tones Cinnamon containers. There was plenty of dough for everyone to make at least a baking-sheet worth of ornaments.

If you’re wanting to make a small batch for just your family, you might want to start with only one or two cups each of applesauce and cinnamon.

Once the dough is rolled out to the desired thickness, use cookie cutters or get creative and make your own shapes to personalize them. Since it was Talitha’s first Christmas when I made these, I made a couple simple circles with her handprint and the year on them. They turned out super cute–I just love how tiny her hand looks!

After cutting the shapes, make a hole for the ribbon. The easiest way to do this is with a straw—just poke it into the dough, and ta-DAH! You’ve got a perfect hole, waiting for a ribbon!

Place the ornaments on an ungreased cookie sheet.

To dry the ornaments, you have two options:

1. You can let these simply air-dry for several days, turning them over every day to help with the drying process.

2. You can bake them at 200 degrees for 2 hours.

I air-dried mine, but I hear that baking these ornaments will make the house smell quite yummy!

And yes, these fun ornaments are quite durable and hardy! One of the ladies at our moms’ get-together said she and her husband made these ornaments the first year they were married–and they still hang them on their Christmas tree, six years later!

I hope you have as much fun with these as I did!


Why I Need Single Friends In My Life



Extroverted. Introverted.

Leader. Encourager.

Organizer. Planner.

Teacher. Nursery Worker.

Single. Married.

God has called each of us to fulfill a unique role within the body of Christ and we all have something to offer.

I Corinthians 12:5-6 lays this out for us. “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”

We also see in verses 13- 21 that we cannot function well if certain parts of the body are not fulfilling their part/role…or if other parts of the body are too proud to depend on others to help complete them.

If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.”

However, when every member of the body is contributing their due part we find that the whole body can function in a healthy and proper way.

In recent years I have been specifically blessed with a number of single friends whose role within the body of Christ has become invaluable to me. As a mom with three little children I have found myself craving these sweet friendships more than ever before and am often found saying “I need more single friends in my life!” Why is that, you ask?


  1. Single people know how to talk about things besides children. When I get together with my mom friends the majority of our conversation will be centered around kids. And naturally so! However, while those conversations are good and beneficial in their own way, there are times I crave conversations that don’t involve my kids. Once in a while it’s nice to know that I DO still have thoughts about things outside of teething, potty training, childhood behaviors, etc.


  1. Single people don’t add chaos to the chaos. My husband and I love hosting people in our home and a lot of times this will include families with several children of their own. Those evenings usually consist of more noise, more toys on the floor, and more opportunities to lovingly redirect our children as they learn to share. Deep conversations can be hard to come by when the train of thought is continually interrupted by one or another of the children needing some attention. So, I repeat, single people don’t add chaos to the chaos. Some of my sweetest and most refreshing times lately have been spent with single people, whether we’re chilling on the couch together or pushing my kids in a stroller and chatting as we walk. (And when my friend offers to help load my kids in the van I appreciate her even more!)


  1. Single people can stay up past kid’s bedtimes. Wanting to go out for coffee and shopping with someone while my husband stays home with the kids? Feeling a spontaneous game night after the kids are in bed? Ready to watch a chic flick with someone while sipping on a hot drink and snacking on some goodies? My single friends are the answer. While my Mom friends can also help to fulfill this role in my life they have their own kid’s bedtimes to attend to and can’t be as readily available.


  1. Single people can bring an outside opinion. Their experience of the world is different than mine and they often have valuable advice to offer.


  1. Single people can do activities without finding a babysitter and are often more flexible in regards to time. Hiking, cookie nights, house projects, etc., are much easier to do with my single friends. I can also do some of these things with my mom friends but usually there’s a time limit because “So and so is due for a feeding” or “I better get back in time to make dinner”, etc., whereas my single friends can just join my own family for dinner and then continue to work on the house project with me!


  1. Single people can pray for me. Now, this one can be fulfilled just as easily by any one of my friends, single or married, but seriously, what Mom couldn’t use more prayer warriors in her life? I certainly could!


  1. Single people can love on my kids. Single friends have brought gifts, delivered a special toy, given a postcard from Europe, etc.. They’ve sat with my kids and given snuggles and love. They’ve played and laughed with my kids. And you know what? My kids are excited when they come over! And personally, I love that my kids can have these special relationships with my friends too.


So, all this to say…reach out to the single people in your life. Not for the sake of making small talk. Not because you feel guilty that you haven’t been including them in things. Reach out simply because you know that if you don’t you will be missing out on some truly beautiful friendships. Get to know the single people in your life. Truly get to know them. Find out what they like/dislike. Invite them along on everyday activities. Include them in family traditions. Find out their love language and then love on them in that specific way. You will be abundantly blessed by the love that they can offer back.

And, if you happen to be a single person reading this…look around at the married people in your life and reach out. You might be surprised by how eagerly your friendship would be welcomed.

~ Chrystal


Favorite Christmas Recipes

It is once again that time of the year when we get together with family or friends to celebrate Christ’s birth! Here are some of our favorite recipes that put a smile on our face and remind us that, while Christmas is ultimately about celebrating the birth of the Savior, it is also a time to share love and joy with each other around the table.

Cranberry Crescent Rolls
Makes 24 Rolls

A homemade crescent roll is amazing in itself. Add warm cranberry filling and it is over the top yummy! ~Rachel

Bread Ingredients:
1 cup milk
1 cup butter/margarine
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110-115*)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
7-8 cups flour
1 can whole cranberry sauce

2 eggs, lightly beaten

In saucepan, heat milk,butter,sugar and salt until bubbles appear around the edge.

Stir well. Cool (95-100*F)

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast with warm water. Let stand 5-10 minutes.

Beat yeast mixture and egg into milk mixture at low speed. Beat in half of the flour at low speed until smooth. Mix in remaining flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Mix on low for 2 minutes. Cover with a cloth; let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Divide into 4 balls; roll each ball into a 12-inch circle. Cut each circle into 6 wedges. Scoop about 1 Tablespoon of cranberry sauce onto each rectangle. Starting with the wide end, roll up each wedge. Place on greased backing sheet. Curve ends to form crescent.

Cover loosely with a cloth; let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400* F. Brush crescents with glaze and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.


Broccoli Supreme
6 Servings

My grandmother made this dish and it has always been my favorite way to eat broccoli. ~Rachel

24 ounces broccoli
2 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1 teaspoon onion, finely diced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup butter/margarine, melted
½ cup bread crumbs
1 cup cheese, grated

Cook broccoli until crisp tender. Put in 9×9 baking dish.

Combine eggs, cottage cheese, onion, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.

Pour over broccoli.

Combine butter and bread crumbs. Sprinkle over broccoli mixture.

Bake at 350*F for 25 minutes. Top with grated cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes.


Christmas Veggie Pizza
Makes Two Christmas Trees; 8 serving each.

This recipe makes for a fun appetizer at a Christmas party or can be used as an addition to any meal. ~Chrystal

2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent rolls or 2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury™ refrigerated Crescent Dough Sheet
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups finely chopped assorted vegetables (bell peppers, broccoli, carrot, cucumber and/or green onions)
1/2 cup shredded cheese


Heat oven to 375*F. Remove dough from cans; do not unroll.

Cut 16 slices from each can. Lay into the shape of two trees (or Christmas wreath!)

Bake one tree 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute; carefully loosen and slide onto cooling rack to cool.

Bake and cool second tree. Place each tree on serving platter.

In small bowl, mix cream cheese, ranch dressing and garlic powder; blend until smooth. Spread mixture over both trees.

Decorate trees with assorted vegetable pieces and cheese.

Refrigerate until serving time. To serve, pull apart slices of tree.


Pistachio Mallow Salad

I am reminded of my Grandmother Bixby who was known for making these types of desserts. This Pistachio Fluff is especially yummy and has my family fighting over the leftovers. ~ Chrystal 

1-16 ounce carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
1-3.4 ounce package instant pistachio pudding mix 6 to 7 drops green food coloring, optional
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1-20 ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
1/2 cup pistachios or walnuts, chopped
Additional whipped topping, optional

In a large bowl, combine whipped topping, pudding mix and food coloring if desired.

Fold in the marshmallows and pineapple. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Just before serving, top with additional whipped topping if desired, sprinkle with nuts.


Christmas Cheese Ball
Makes 1 Cheese Ball

This is the only kind of cheese ball we ever made for Christmas. The crushed pineapple gives it a unique twist that most cheese balls don’t have. ~Angie

2 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup crushed pineapple, well-drained (get as much moisture out of the pineapple as possible)
2 teaspoons onion, minced
2 teaspoons sweet red pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
1/2 – 1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

Combine all ingredients, except for the nuts.

Shape into a ball and pat on the nuts.

Chill and serve with crackers.


Caramel Popcorn

Having been raised in Brazil where Christmas popcorn was unavailable to buy in the stores, we always made this homemade version of caramel popcorn. Make a big batch–this stuff is addicting! ~Angie

7 quarts popped popcorn (about 1 3/4 cups raw popcorn)
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda

Mix together the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in soda.

Immediately pour over popped popcorn.

Dump the caramel-covered popcorn onto 2 ungreased baking pans (with sides)

Bake at 250*F for about 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes. As it bakes, the popcorn will get drier and crunchier.

Note: Make sure all popcorn is popped by the time the caramel sauce is ready. The sauce hardens quickly and it will be hard to adequately coat the popcorn if it isn’t immediately poured over the popcorn.


We hope you have many opportunities this Christmas season to welcome people into your home to praise God for His Incarnation and worship Him together around your table! 


Awaited Savior, Coming King

Christmas: that time of year where we celebrate the Little Baby, born in a manger.

In some ways, Christ was just like any other baby ever born, for He went through the physical birth process every baby must go through. He had the same physical needs every baby has: He needed clothing, food, shelter, and care. And unlike some folk-tradition, He did cry and need a mother’s arms to comfort Him, just like every other baby who needs a mother’s arms to hold and comfort them.

But in other ways—very significant ways—Christ was unlike any other baby ever born.

Indeed, He was God made into the form of a man.

He laid aside His divine glory so that He might clothe Himself with the garments of human flesh and human limitations, yet He never sinned.

And with His birth, Christ set in motion the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan, designed since before the foundation of the world.

What exactly was this plan?

Way back in the Garden of Eden, God declared to Satan and promised to Adam and Eve that He would “put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

God promised that one day, One would come who would conquer Satan, the tempter, the arch-enemy of God. This One would deliver mankind from sin’s penalty that has hung as a death-sentence over us since that critical day in the Garden.

God’s promise of a coming Deliverer was the seed of hope planted in the hearts of the first two people on planet earth. This was the seed of hope given in the midst of hopelessness.

As time went on, God unfolded more details of His divine plan to crush Satan and conquer sin.

We learn a description of who this Promised One would be:

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
(Isaiah 7:14)

Then we learn of this One’s name:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:7)

Just one verse later, we learn of part of the greater purpose for the Promised One: He will establish an everlasting kingdom, unlike any this world has ever known.

“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

And then, as the prophets of old spoke according to the Word of the Lord, we learn where this Promised One would come from:

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,
yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel;
whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.                           (Micah 5:2)

Generations passed and still no Deliverer had come.

Undoubtedly, many gave up on God ever making good on His promise to send One who would set all things right.

But then that quiet night, as the humble shepherds watched their flocks under the dark night’s sky, the glorious, magnificent, long-awaited news came!

An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and joyously proclaimed to them:

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
(Luke 2:10-11)

The Savior, Christ the Lord, had come!

This is the One who was promised on that fateful day when man rebelled against God and sin entered the world.

This is the One who would redeem mankind from the curse of sin.

This is the One who would crush the Serpent’s head.

This is the One who would establish His kingdom forevermore.

This is the One who had come!

God’s promise of redemption and deliverance was no longer just a promise: It was beginning to unfold, even as the shepherds stood there in wonder at the angel’s announcement and joyous refrain of praise to God!

Christ’s birth declared to all those who believed that God was fulfilling His promise: He had sent the Deliverer.

However, while we rejoice in the coming of this baby, we still await the complete fulfillment of God’s promises concerning this Deliverer, for we continue to await the day when Christ will set up His eternal Kingdom and rule with divine justice and judgment.

This Christmas season, as we exult in the birth of Jesus Christ, let us rejoice not only in the celebration of the beginning of God’s unfolding plan, but also in the glad confidence that He is going to fulfill the rest of His promise by one day setting up His Kingdom to reign forevermore!