The Macs » Blog

After Thanksgiving my brother-in-law brought
ROCKBAND over to my parents house.
He had bought it for super cheap at a Black Friday sale.
We all loved it.
We were hooked.
Especially my mom.
My brother-in-law was kind enough
to leave it at my parents’ house for us all to enjoy.
Little did we know,
my mom played even when we weren’t there.
She was even caught practicing the drums
into the wee hours of the night.
So, when Christmas rolled around,
my dad decided she might need her own ROCKBAND…
She was SO excited when she opened it.
Who ever thought that a grammy would want ROCKBAND for Christmas??
We even found a ROCKBAND t-shirt for her.
My niece got a ROCKBAND t-shirt too.

We spent a lot of Christmas day rockin’ down the house.
It was fun.
Lots of good memories and good laughs.
There is nothing like a rockin’ Grammy!

Oh, and someone was wondering about these bats.
They are called Mashoonga! Sabers.
My mom got them at Sam’s Club.
They are supposed to be for safe, competitive, contact play.
I am not sure if there is anything safe about this picture.
Maybe they are not meant for grown men!!
At least we know how to have fun, right?

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  • meg duerksen - THAT is unreal.
    it makes me totally want to get rockband.
    i LOVE that!ReplyCancel

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  • Sara - these pictures are so great…everyone is so serious 🙂

    i have been following your blog for a long time…don’t know if i have posted before today.

    i am still stalking your etsy store, too…

    can’t wait to see your baby!
    blessings from CA!ReplyCancel

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  • Karina - What a great picture of you – nine months pregnant, barefoot, and playing the drums with a VERY serious expression on your face! Love it. (And so impressed with that rockin’ grammy!)

    I’ll be sure NOT to tell any of the men in my household about those bats – they would LOVE them, but I’d probably have a heart attack if they did that in my living room!!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Love, love, love your Mom.
    This post cracks me up.ReplyCancel

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  • purejoy - so good to see laughter. and a sweet little baby bump!!
    rockstarbaby!!ReplyCancel

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  • Melissa - Those pictures are so fun!

    We LOVE rock band at our house! Sometimes I concentrate so hard on the screen that my contacts pop out!! Guess that’s what distinguishes me from a real musician.ReplyCancel

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  • k and c's mom - You made me laugh out loud with this post! I think I am about the same age as your Mom, so maybe I should take up drumming or something for my new hobby.
    You look beautiful and I hope you are feeling well. Glad for some happy times for you.ReplyCancel

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  • MICHELE - That is too funny! She makes that look good! 🙂
    Can’t wait to see pics of that baby! Rest up.ReplyCancel

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  • Sara - Nothing like a really pregnant drummer! I love that pic!ReplyCancel

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  • Lauren Kelly - HAHA!!! Love it 🙂 Rock on Grammy.ReplyCancel

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  • K - So cute! My parents got totally the Wii when it came out a few years ago.ReplyCancel

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  • Abby Johns - I just wanted to let you know that I think you make one stinkin’ cute pregnant lady!ReplyCancel

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  • Sherri - oh Jess, this is fantastic! Now these are memories that will last forever! What fun Christmas must have been for you and the fam.

    You and JOel look so wonderful in the pics! I can’t wait to see pics of babymac on the outside!

    PS: those bats will be at our next Christmas! Thanks for he action shots….LOVED it!ReplyCancel

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  • Alicia - So much fun!!! That is what Christmas is all about…fun and family!

    I have read your blog for a bit(don’t know if I have ever posted)…I send lots of prayers with baby on the way.ReplyCancel

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  • Utecht Family - Now Adam knows who to call if he wants a Sunday off. You’ve got a whole worship team right there!ReplyCancel

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  • Carrie Darney - I want to come play! What a FUN family! The bats…could have used those in the office today. Rock band, never played but I need too…sounds and looks like so much fun!!!ReplyCancel

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  • The Browns - All the guys in my family are the same way. They love to get silly stuff. One year they all got that farting foam (or whatever it is) & they had so much fun with it. I also got them all a silver or gold “grill” to wear in their mouths from Wal-Mart & that was a great picture 😉 Praying for you & your pregnancy.

    BonReplyCancel

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  • Heather | Cookie Mondays - again… best family ever 🙂ReplyCancel

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  • Vera - How fun! You look ADORABLE!!ReplyCancel

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  • E @ Oh! Apostrophe - Hi! Not sure I’ve commented before, but love your blog!

    Had to chime in and say- LOOK OUT!- my friend went into labor right after a crazy night of rock band drumming! 😉ReplyCancel

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  • Miranda - That is awesome! LoL!! Whoever said Grammy’s can’t be cool? Glad to see everyone have family fun together. 🙂ReplyCancel

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  • Erica - your family is SO much fun! wow!ReplyCancel

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  • Brian, Angie, Matt, Tim, and Meredith - The family that rocks together, stays together(???). 😀 My bil brought Guitar Hero to the C’mas gathering last year, and it’s become a standard activity w/n our own family during our gathering too!

    I had a good laugh, Jess, at your intent look on the drums! My face is identical on the guitar during our ‘showdowns’. 🙂

    Your mom looks *great* in her shirt; and it’s so nice to read of a family having fun together like this!ReplyCancel

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  • Liliana - Wow…looks like you all had a great time!! We just got Band Hero & like your mom…I get really into the game. It’s so much fun & a great thing for family fun night!!

    My brother alway jokes that we look constipated b/c we concentrate so hard not to miss a note!!! lol!!

    Can’t wait to “meet” your new baby!!ReplyCancel

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  • CourtneyC - Oh my goodness that is hilarious that your mom loves Rockband so much.

    Looks like everyone had a blast!ReplyCancel

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  • Shari - Rockband is very fun! Our kids got it for Christmas. Highly recommended if you have 3 or more kids because they can all play together YAY! The lyrics on the songs tho…not so much for kids. Something very disconcerting about a 9 year old singing about being drunk! We ended up buying the Lego song pack and the Country track pack for the more appropriate lyrics!ReplyCancel

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  • Amber - That is hilarious!!! 🙂 Glad you all made some great “rockin'” memories!!!ReplyCancel

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  • Nan - Okay, we totally need the Mashoonga Sabers here!! I have four boys that are always playing swords. My Dad got them some foam swords from Pottery Barn kids but they lasted only a day before they broke! Clearly they are not made for real live children! LOL

    What a fun Christmas this looks like! I think I love your family! :^DReplyCancel

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  • linda_happy60 - What a fun family. Makes me want to rock out and I’m a granny to 7.ReplyCancel

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  • Gail - Your mom must be a lot of fun!ReplyCancel

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  • Sarah - Hilarious pic with those “sabers”…I’m sure your mom knew exactly what was going to happen after all.ReplyCancel

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We spent Christmas Eve at my parents house…
Celebrating my nephews first birthday,
eating sausage subs (yummy),
and spending lots of time together.
Christmas morning we were back at my parents…

eating breakfast together,
stockings,
opening presents,
building a gingerbread house,
eating more food,
celebrating Jesus’ birthday,
and spending more time together.

These bats were one of the major highlights Christmas morning.
Every time one of the boys would get up it would turn into this.
Thankfully pregnant ladies were off limits!

Saturday we celebrated Christmas with Joel’s family…

eating breakfast together,
stockings,
new bikes for the kiddos,
eating LOTS of good food,
reading the Christmas story,
opening presents,
and spending lots of time together.

This Christmas was hard.  It still makes me so sad to look at all of these pictures and know that Cora should have been a part of these memories.  I wondered so many times what it would have been like to wake up with her on Christmas morning or watch her playing with her cousins.  We would have had so much fun.  But we were blessed in so many ways this Christmas.  Our families are so wonderful and our time together was great.  And, like so many other times this year, we felt the indescribable joy and peace that only comes from our Lord.

And…
We are still waiting to meet Baby Mac.
He/she apparently did no want to come for Christmas.
Nothing is happening yet.
Just waiting.
We will keep you posted!

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  • Sarah Furlough - Still praying for peace and comfort for you and Joel. Can’t wait to read about the arrival of Baby Mac!ReplyCancel

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  • Marla Taviano - Thanks for sharing, Jess! Praying for you and Joel!!ReplyCancel

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  • Maureen - Thinking and praying for you guys! Can’t wait to see pictures of baby!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - I need to know more about those bats! Where did you get them?ReplyCancel

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  • Micah - It sure looks like you and Joel have been so blessed with two wonderful families to love.

    Anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new little one – along with 1,000 others ;).ReplyCancel

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  • Lauren Kelly - There is so much sweetness flowing out of those pictures…. And look at the belly, looks like Baby Mac should be coming like today, haha!!! A stubborn little thing though, huh?? 🙂ReplyCancel

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  • Ashley Ann - Wow those pictures of all the guys and the bats make me feel like I am seeing my life in about 10 years….looks fun!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Love the pictures and the glimps into your world 🙂 I so wish your Cora was here with you..and she is in spirit..
    Can’t wait to meet Baby Mac..

    Thoughts and PrayersReplyCancel

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  • gwswenson - Praying for an easy labor and delivery, and can’t wait till your bundle of joy arrives!!ReplyCancel

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  • purejoy - sounds like you guys were really surrounded by lots of family and love this christmas. and cora in your hearts…
    can’t wait to meet your little baby mac and am praying for peace and joy to meet you.ReplyCancel

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  • Heather | Cookie Mondays - you have the BEST family!
    i keep hoping your next post will be an announcement!! 😉ReplyCancel

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  • Krystal - I know we don’t know each other but I’ve been praying for you and your family! Even though we don’t know each other I”ve been secretly hoping you’d have Baby Mac today, Dec.29th…it’s my birthday! So you’d better get busy ;)!ReplyCancel

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  • Karina - Thank you so much for sharing some photos from your Christmas; your families look wonderful. I am among the many checking back daily awaiting news of Baby Mac!

    I am so sad for you that Cora couldn’t be there in person. I come back sometimes just to see her face – she still has the power to move me to tears just from looking at her, but there is something strangely fortifying about the sadness she inspires. What a powerful young lady she is.ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Thinking of you and praying for you! You have an amazing family and are an amazing woman. I am certain Cora was right there beside you, watching over all your Christmas happenings, as she is in all things you do. Can’t wait to hear the news of your new arrival!ReplyCancel

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  • Stewart Family - Love the pictures. You are truly blessed with an amazing family!!

    Praying for you and Baby Mac…I am so anxious to see that post!!ReplyCancel

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  • Alison A. - I have no idea how I found your blog, but just wanted to wish you well and let you know there are many internet strangers who are thinking of you. Your blog is a work of art, as well as a great memorial for Cora.

    Wishing you and your husband the best with your labor, delivery, and enjoyment of Baby Mac.ReplyCancel

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  • Proud Grandma - Thinking and praying for you both and I can’t wait to see pictures of Baby Mac – maybe you will have a New Years Day Baby!ReplyCancel

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  • Loraine - please share the sausage sub recipe….

    please.

    yum!!!ReplyCancel

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  • The Carroll's - Thank you for continuing to share you journey with us. Praying for you often. Cant wait to “meet” Baby Mac!ReplyCancel

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  • k and c's mom - Thanks for sharing. I thought of you and prayed for you often during the holidays. Can’t wait to see and hear all about the baby’s premiere. Blessings on you. God is faithful.ReplyCancel

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  • Stef - Happy New Year! I’m anxious to “meet” your new little one. I’m so glad you had real joy and peace on Christmas Day, even in the midst of aching for Cora.

    Much love,ReplyCancel

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  • Melissa Joy - I am praying for you every day. Walking the line between grief and hope is precarious and hard! May God continue to be your strength and joy. (((hugs)))ReplyCancel

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  • Carly Winborne - so glad to see this post. i was thinking that you may have been tied up, not posting, because of your new baby. i am seriously thinking of you constantly, and thought about you a lot today. i was just convinced your baby had been born. (i know that sounds so stalkerish, but i don’t mean it that way. i just wish you were my friend in real life. what fun we could have!!!) excited to see your little one’s precious face very soon.

    praying for you and your husband, even now.ReplyCancel

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  • Carly Winborne - PS: i was having lunch with my mom today and was telling her about you, that you just seem amazing, so focused on Jesus even in your grief. she said i needed to leave a comment, even if you get dozens on every single post you leave. just know that you are so admired, even from a distance.ReplyCancel

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  • Tricia - It looks like a wonderful time was had by all. Glad to see that pregnant ladies were spared from the sword fighting. 😉
    Excited to hear of the arrival of baby Mac.

    With love and prayers,
    XO*TriciaReplyCancel

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  • capperson - Thinking and praying about y’all. I can’ wait to see pics of the baby!!ReplyCancel

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  • Jane In The Jungle - I know it was so hard wondering. But so glad you have the peace that passes all understanding.

    Can’t wait for news of Baby Mac!!ReplyCancel

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  • Melinda - You have such a lovely family – I’m glad to see that you were surrounded by so many loved ones throughout the holiday. Cora is always with you in spirit – I’m sure she enjoyed the bat game 🙂 You and Joel are in my prayers. I pray that you have an easy labor and birth – can’t wait to read about the arrival of Baby Mac!ReplyCancel

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  • Carla - I was that lady in waiting Christmas two years ago, my bundle of joy didn’t arrive til the 2nd Jan! Hope you’re getting lots of sleep and TLC, which no doubt you are, given your lovely hubbie and family. Your pics of Christmas look lovely. Its hard even as a stranger to see you there without Cora but your strength as always Jess, is a an inspiration to so many. Wishing you peace and calm in the next few days to enjoy the end of your pregnancy and not toooo many texts/emails asking you whether you’ve gone into labour yet :-). I’ll be thinking of you (when I should be fast asleep, gotta love pregnancy insomnia, hope you’re not suffering from it!)
    Hugs, CarlaReplyCancel

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  • Christina - Those are such wonderful pictures…it does look like you had some great moments, and were surrounded by loving people through the hard ones. Your family looks like such a treasure!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Praying for you out here on the west coast! May you feel the reality that the Lord is with you as you wait on Him for the birth of this precious new child and for the delivery of him/her into your loving arms!ReplyCancel

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  • Diana - What a fantastically happy and blessed Christmas for you all — such fun you had! Your smile is a ray of sunshine in each of your photos 😀

    Keeping you covered in prayer as everyone waits……..

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  • jen christians - First I must say you have an amazing eye with your camera! Second, your families are so ADORABLE, they are appear to truely love eachother…(well the bats, ha!)Third, you are in our prayers as the appearance of baby Mac draws near. I will pray for a gentle, easy labor, and God’s arms wrapping around you as you meet the beautiful child created just for you.ReplyCancel

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  • onlymehere - I know that Cora was with you in your heart. Somehow, someway I believe she is there at special moments when you need her most. I love the header and feel like it gives us all a glimpse into her personality. I’ve followed you for a long time but don’t comment too often. I just wanted you to know how your courage inspires people. I keep you and Joel and new baby Mac in my prayers daily. I’m exciting to see him/her and pray the delivery will go well for all of you. 🙂 CindyReplyCancel

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We are missing Cora like crazy today…
…but we are rejoicing with our little angel that He has come.
We are rejoicing in the good news of great joy–Jesus.
The angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior–yes, the Messiah, the Lord–has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 
Luke 2:10-11
Merry Christmas!
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  • Heidi - What a sweet picture of Cora. I know how hard today was for you and your family. I was thinking of you and have kept you in my prayers.

    Merry Christmas…ReplyCancel

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  • Roma - I’ve been reading your blog for the past couple of months and you are an inspiration. Cora is a beautiful girl. Please know that so many prayers come your way and that Cora is playing in heaven with Jesus and other little ones who were called to Him too soon.ReplyCancel

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  • Robin in Benton - What a wonderful picture and sweet memory. Thinking of you and praying for you. Merry ChristmasReplyCancel

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  • rebecca - Beautiful little Cora…. She is missed. Merry Christmas to your family and Sweet baby Mac.ReplyCancel

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  • Our Lives - What an angel she was. I’ve been following your blog since February. I’ve been thinking about you and your husband today. I found myself thinking about Cora a lot, too. Press on Macs! Merry Christmas.ReplyCancel

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  • jen christians - What a beautiful picture… a treasure… Thanks for sharing it tonight. Merry Christmas to you as well. May you feel the love of Christ in you home and heart this Christmas night.ReplyCancel

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  • starnes family - Merry Christmas! I love that picture of Cora.

    I’ve been meaning to tell you…..that I was in Dallas over the summer and was wearing a Cora pin. Someone stopped me to ask if it was truly a “Cora” original and I said it was. A random stranger….and we both talked about your sweet family. You’ve touched so many lives.

    Merry Christmas.ReplyCancel

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  • amy - merry christmas, macs! i used that verse on my blog today, too.ReplyCancel

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  • Tricia - Jess and Joel,
    You are in my prayers today, along with baby Mac. May God continue to fill you with peace and joy.

    With love and prayers,
    XO*TriciaReplyCancel

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  • Carpenter's - What a cutie pie! Those pics make me smile every time you put them on. Thank you. Merry Christmas and may you be blessed in 2010!ReplyCancel

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  • meg duerksen - love you jess.
    i have been thinking about you ALL DAY! i hope it went alright. cora was a sweet precious angel.
    merry christmas.

    so thankful for the joy we have in Christ.ReplyCancel

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  • Kahla - What an angel, I have been thinking of you this holiday season and praying that you find joy and peace. I can’t even imagine what you are feeling but I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas.ReplyCancel

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  • Julie @ Joy's Hope - Merry Christmas to your sweet, beautiful, wonderful family. Praying for you all. May God’s love and comfort blanket your hearts.ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - When I first began to read Cora’s story I read back to last Christmas and it brought joy to my heart to see that Cora was the angel for the family story of the birth of Jesus. This Christmas she is with Jesus!
    I know it is so hard that she is not here with you but because of her and the story you tell as you live your life with an eternal perspective there will be many more people that will someday enter the kingdom and sit at the feet of Jesus.

    I have prayed many times for you over the past few days and especially today and I will continue.

    Praying for JOY and continued healing.ReplyCancel

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  • The Farmers - When I first began to read Cora’s story I read back to last Christmas and it brought joy to my heart to see that Cora was the angel for the family story of the birth of Jesus. This Christmas she is with Jesus!
    I know it is so hard that she is not here with you but because of her and the story you tell as you live your life with an eternal perspective there will be many more people that will someday enter the kingdom and sit at the feet of Jesus.

    I have prayed many times for you over the past few days and especially today and I will continue.

    Praying for JOY and continued healing.ReplyCancel

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  • PamperingBeki - Prayed for you so much today.

    Can’t wait for the day you get to hug sweet Cora again.ReplyCancel

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  • Stef - Merry Christmas! prayed for you much today.ReplyCancel

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  • Stephanie - Merry Christmas to “The Mac’s”. Thinking of you during this holidays season.
    Good luck with your upcoming arrival, my heart is with you.ReplyCancel

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  • Christina - I’m crying and smiling at the same time…what precious, priceless memories you have stored up. They are treasures.
    I pray that the joy you recently spoke of is a well that is deep within you, and that never runs dry. Merry Christmas.ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - I remember seeing this picture before and it put a smile on my face to see it again today. What a beautiful little angel she truly is. I can just imagine her in heaven and playing the same role of a beautiful angel.

    You all have been on my mind for the last several days, especially today. Hope it went as smoothly as possible. Aren’t you glad we have joy and hope in Jesus?!?!

    Thinking about you and praying for baby Mac too. I keep checking back everyday waiting on the “news” 🙂 Can’t wait to find out and see some pictures. Love to you all.

    A sister in Christ!ReplyCancel

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  • Diana - Beautiful Cora, beautiful memory!

    Christmas love and blessings to you guys! You are always in our prayers!

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  • Lori - You and Joel have been on my mind so much the past few days and you were the first thing I thought about this morning when I woke up on Christmas Day. Praying for peace that surpasses all understanding! Cora is such a beautiful angel!!!!!!! Hugs to you and JoelReplyCancel

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  • Mum2twopreciousgifts - Dear Jess and Joel

    With prayers for peace and acceptance for you and your families more so today than usual. God Bless you both and THANK YOU so much for reminding us all , through your incredible blog, that no matter what happens, GOD IS WITH US.

    Good night from Australia from our little family to yours.

    Michelle xReplyCancel

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  • Carla - I thought of you all day yesterday (25th). I was hoping you were bearing up ok, its just so hard to even comprehend what you and Joel are going through. I’m glad Jesus was a comfort to you and you felt your adorable little Angel close by. Hugs, CarlaReplyCancel

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  • Al's World - What a precious picture of your angel who is singing with the angels in heaven!ReplyCancel

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  • Karina - Thinking of you and Joel this holiday season. That is a BEAUTIFUL picture of sweet Cora. Hugs to you and Baby Mac.ReplyCancel

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  • Courtney - She is beautiful! Merry Christmas!
    Courtney MayfieldReplyCancel

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  • Amy - Thought of you guys so much yesterday. How is it possible that this was just a year ago?? The joy that the two of you are able to talk about, despite all you have been through, is truly amazing. You are an awesome couple and I am so blessed to know you.ReplyCancel

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  • Melissa Joy - I was thinking of you yesterday, praying for you, weeping with you, praising with you. (((hugs)))ReplyCancel

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  • Trasie Bressler - She is so beautiful and that memory is precious!

    Your arms will be full again soon and oh what a day that will be for you. May God Bless you all and what an incredible Angel that baby girl of yours is going to be for that baby Mac of yours.

    Merry Christmas season to you and yours!ReplyCancel

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  • Amanda - beautiful beautiful Cora, OH, how we miss you.ReplyCancel

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  • texasinafrica - What a sweetheart! Praying that you will have peace in the days and weeks to come.ReplyCancel

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  • Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend - What an adorable picture…she will always be special…ReplyCancel

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  • Sue - I have been thinking of you so much over the festive season and hope that you have managed it OK. It’s over now till next year. You made it. I can’t wait to hear about the arrival of your new baby too and trust that he/she will have a safe arrival.

    Sue xReplyCancel

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  • Kristi - I have been and will continue praying for your sweet family. Thank you for sharing that picture of Cora :).ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Always in my prayers
    I feel better knowing angels like Cora are in watching over us all!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Thought about you on Christmas. Hope you were able to be comforted and protected by the holiday.
    SaraReplyCancel

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  • Heather - I read your blog often Jess, but never comment. I thought about you on Christmas and prayed for you and for the Lord to comfort you in a way only He can. God knew long ago that when He set into motion for you to be Cora’s mom that you would be an inspiration to so many and sharing the good news with ones that might need to hear it. God is using you in great ways to further His kingdom and no doubt when He sees you He smiles. Praying for you and your family, may the Lord be close to you and bring you great joy.ReplyCancel

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  • Beki - TheRustedChain - Still praying for you daily.ReplyCancel

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  • Chris - What a sweet picture of Cora .
    Thinking of you . It must be so hard for you this year without your little angel.
    Soon you will have another little one to love . He or she will never replace Cora but will sure bring joy and love in your heart again. Can’t wait to see a post that he/she is birn 🙂ReplyCancel

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I smiled to myself when I opened my HOPE book last week and realized the topic was joy.  It was just what I needed to read because I definitely am not feeling very “joyful” this Christmas–at least not in the way the world would define joy.


“The truth is, it is possible to be filled with joy and still not be described as “happy.” Sometimes we’re just plain sad, not only down in our hearts, but down to our toes…


…The Bible says, “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22, NASB).  As we savor the joy we have in Christ, we feel the healing power of that medicine.  In fact, our joy should be as consistent as God is.  It doesn’t have to be tied to the turbulent conditions of our feelings and moods.  Our joy is grounded in God.  It flows from him and back to him.  Joy is not something we can generate with positive thinking or a bit of humor.  It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our inner lives.  Joy shines forth from the life of the true believer, no matter how dark the circumstances.  Joy in God deserves our constant, courageous pursuit.” -Nancy Guthrie

How reassuring is it to know that our joy isn’t tied to the sometimes turbulent conditions around us?

It isn’t tied to how sad I am feeling as we prepare to celebrate this first Christmas without Cora. It isn’t tied to how my heart hurts when I see all these happy Christmas cards and realize again that there will be no family pictures with Cora this year. It isn’t tied to how sad I am that Cora won’t be here to welcome her new brother or sister with us. It isn’t even tied to how much love we will feel when we meet Baby Mac any day now. True joy does not necessarily equal happiness.

My joy is grounded in Christ.
And I can experience deep joy, even in the midst of sorrow,
because my hope is in Christ.
That doesn’t mean we won’t have any tears or sadness.
But, I pray that this true joy is what others see shining from my life and family,
even during this first Christmas without Cora.

Always be full of joy in the Lord.  I say it again–rejoice!  Philippians 4:4
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  • jen christians - I do see you and see joy amidst the utter sadness and ache, I see joy in your relationship with Christ. Thanks for sharing this today, it is what I needed to hear too. It makes the silly holiday “stress” I feel seem so absolutely ridiculous…instead I must focus on the true JOY of this season. God bless you as you prepare to meet your blessing, anyday now…can’t wait to hear your news…ReplyCancel

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  • oh, the places you'll go... - hi Jess. i’m thinking about you guys so so much and will pray extra for you and joel and little baby mac. love you!ReplyCancel

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  • Aja - Wow. Thank you for sharing that.. it’s so true. We can be joyful, even in the midst of pain and sadness.. How lucky are we?

    I am praying for you and Baby Mac! Merry Christmas!ReplyCancel

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  • mommaof4wife2r - ahhhhh….so true! just finished my beth moore study last week on joy and i couldn’t agree more. many prayers for you all remain.ReplyCancel

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  • Jill - i continue to pray for you!ReplyCancel

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  • Trisha Larson - Jess-

    Phil 4:4 is the verse that God has given me OVER and OVER again since Nate died. I’ve worked so hard on it. Finding JOY is hard admist the heartache of burying a child. But I believe that the JOY from the Lord is the ONLY way that any of us can move forward through our pain.

    Hugs,
    TrishaReplyCancel

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  • Krystal - I’ve followed your blog for awhile now and prayed for you and your family often.

    Thank you for these words…they are perfect! And great to hear!

    Merry Christmas!

    From TexasReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - I think that is one of the things about you that keep drawing me back day after day 🙂
    I continue to think of you daily. Looking so forward to baby Mac coming into this world..What wonderful parents he/she will have!

    KimReplyCancel

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  • Heather at All A Flutter - It’s so true, and so many don’t understand, that we can experience true joy while in the midst of painful sorrow. Know you are in the company of many and we understand!!

    Wishing you a Merry, merry Christmas!ReplyCancel

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  • Erica - well jess, i think your prayer is already answered because you show so much joy and are such an encouragement, even in the darkest of times. have a very merry & blessed Christmas.ReplyCancel

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  • Lauren Kelly - Just beautfiful, and pray during the midst of this Christmas and in the midst of grief that you can celebrate in the hope of Jesus and the blessings that surround you!ReplyCancel

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  • Sarah - I just recently discovered your blog and have enjoyed reading your story. Such a great post. I’ve been thinking a lot about this too with this being our first of many Christmases without our Andrew. I’ve also been going through Nancy Guthrie’s book and it’s been such an encouragement. Merry Christmas to you and your family! Praise the Lord that true joy can be found in the midst of difficult circumstances!ReplyCancel

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  • Andy and Cari - it’s true. last year was the first christmas we celebrated with an aching heart…caden, our daughter, died 3 months earlier…we never has a christmas with her…it would have been her first. but it was a great christmas. because God is bigger then my hurt..he comforted us and gave us peace…and joy.ReplyCancel

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  • PamperingBeki - This is exactly what you show – Joy and Hope through the pain.

    You’re incredible.
    God bless you!!ReplyCancel

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  • Melissa Joy - I just wanted to say how thankful I am for you. You don’t know me. But I know and pray for your family. And you have truly blessed me. We have lost four small babies, and your blog has helped me through some of my darkest days. And I recently began the Hope book, on your suggestion. Thank you for sharing that blessing with me!
    In this season, I have struggled with the joy versus happiness idea. People make me feel guilty for not being happy. But I keep reminding them that I *am* joyful, and that is what matters. I am going to skip ahead in the Hope book to find that portion and share it around.
    Thank you for being a conduit of grace, for sharing your home and family, and for encouraging other aching mommies even in your own pain.
    I look forward to rejoicing with you over Baby Mac, and pray for you this week as you celebrate the Savior and endure your void.
    With love in Christ!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Thank you for this beautiful post.

    Krissy Hunecke
    Batavia, ILReplyCancel

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  • The Bohrer's - Jess – reading this post made me think about something. About a year ago, I think, I learned that the Biblical definition for joy is “calmly well off”. When we are calmly well off in Christ, the result is joy. This kind of joy is impossible in our own power, but with God’s amazing power, it IS possible. The cool thing is that when others see this kind of joy in you, they see GOD! Praise God that others see HIM in you!ReplyCancel

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  • Christina - You are so encouraging…it is amazing what you are able to do, but maybe it shouldn’t be…since it is through and by Him that you are able to do it. Thank you for sharing all that you do. Merry Christmas.ReplyCancel

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  • Abby - Wow…You are such a beacon of hope and inspiration. In Thessalonians Paul said that he was delighted to share not only the gospel of Christ with the people there but his life also, and it was his life that really defined what kind of a minister he was. Every time I read your blog I am overwhelmed with your courage to be real despite pain and to be open regardless of how much it may hurt; you are the epitome of what I think of when I try to define “disciple”.

    Thank you for letting your light shine, for being real and for being relateable, because in doing so you have encouraged me, and I’m sure countless others, in my relationship with the Lord!

    Merry Christmas and I am praying for a speedy and comfortable delivery for you as well as peace that passes all understanding!

    AbbyReplyCancel

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  • katherine - I don’t fully understand how joy and happiness can exist separately, but I have also found comfort that they can. This is the second year in a row my family is facing news of cancer in one we love, but our joy at Christmas doesn’t come from circumstances. Praise God.

    Praying for peace for you. I enjoy checking your blog although we’ve never met b/c I do see that joy and peace in you through your posts.ReplyCancel

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  • Mandi @ It's come to this - It’s so true!! Merry Christmas to you & Joel … may you continued to be blessed with true JOY!ReplyCancel

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  • Townsend Crew - What an amazing post! It is simply amazing to SEE your faith… actually SEE and FEEL what true faith is like… to SEE the work you continue to do on this journey of grief and hope and healing. Your faith continues to amaze and inspire me. YOU are a piece of JOY to me… the way you demonstrate your love for God… not only in the JOYOUS times, but in these deep, hard, days of work and recovery. Thank you for your many gifts you share with me.ReplyCancel

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  • Melinda - Thank you for such a beautiful post. You and Joel are in my thoughts and prayers often.ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - such solid words…i needed to hear them!!!Holidays are hard after parting with our loved ones..i never knew how hard before.. I just wanted u to know i LOVE your blog and am inspired by you. Also love the Cora items i purchased. Merry Christmas and God bless u and your family. Can’t wait to hear about and see baby Mac! May God grant strength for each moment! LenaReplyCancel

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  • Lisa - Wow Jess! It seems so many of us needed to hear this same message. My heart aches for you today, and I have thought of you many times during this holiday season. My youngest daughter has fought a tough battle against brain tumors and the seizures they have caused, autism, and developmental delays for the past four years. Sometimes it is hard to remain “joyful” when the sadness is just below the surface. It was so good to be reminded that true joy is in knowing that we have an ever loving God who knows our every need and meets us exactly where we are at. Thank you.

    Wishing you a peace in your heart this Christmas!

    God bless you! Merry Christmas!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Jess…I wasn’t even going to get on the computer today. But I felt a promting to do so. I immediately went to your blog, and read this post. It was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you so much. God directed me here today, and your words were a balm to me. Even in sorrow God uses us, and he is using you in a mighty way.

    Thank you so much for all of the sharing you do. You are an inspiration.ReplyCancel

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  • Carpenter's - I purchased this book as soon as I saw it on your blog and it is very inspiring. Thank you for encouraging me to keep my head up in the scariest of times and have JOY!ReplyCancel

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  • The Schilling's from Cimarron - Jess,

    As I read your blog today, I cried….. I am praying so hard for you both right now I know this is a very hard time for you with Christmas coming without Cora. It still seems like we just met you yesterday and were all together! We miss you and love you so much! Please know we are thinking of you everyday! We pray for you conitued healing and happiness during the holiday!

    Love you!

    AMIEReplyCancel

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  • Cassie - What a beautiful, inspiring post. Thanks for sharing this. You and your family are an inspiration– have a beautiful Christmas.ReplyCancel

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  • Momma H - You were so on my mind yesterday, I thought maybe Baby Mac had decided to be born. Anyway, you were prayed for especially constantly the other day, for whatever was happening.
    God bless and keep you and Joel!ReplyCancel

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  • Nancy Guthrie - I’ve been thinking about joy today too—especially about my favorite line in “Joy to the World” because it reveals the real reason we can have joy living in the broken world:

    “He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.”

    It is the curse that causes cancer in a sweet, beautiful baby. it is the curse that brings death. And the best reason to celebrate at Christmas is that Jesus has come to break the curse.

    Of course, that won’t happen at his birth. That will require his death. But indeed it will be done.

    Merry Christmas, sweet JessReplyCancel

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  • Nancy Guthrie - I’ve been thinking about joy today too—especially about my favorite line in “Joy to the World” because it reveals the real reason we can have joy living in the broken world:

    “He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.”

    It is the curse that causes cancer in a sweet, beautiful baby. it is the curse that brings death. And the best reason to celebrate at Christmas is that Jesus has come to break the curse.

    Of course, that won’t happen at his birth. That will require his death. But indeed it will be done.

    Merry Christmas, sweet JessReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - MERRY CHRISTMAS Joel, Jess, Cora and Baby Mac! I have thought and prayed for all of you every single day this year. You have been a true inspiration to me.ReplyCancel

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  • Stef - Jess, I found your website through one of my friend’s websites 🙂
    I’ve been sitting here reading about your lives, since your very first post. I’ve grabbed the box of tissue and I’m having some laughs and many cries as I walk through your “blog” journey. My goodness. I don’t know where to begin. Nothing I say is going to be something you’ve not heard already, so I just want to say thank you. I want to thank you for sharing your joy in Jesus. For showing us what it is to be a true follower of Christ; to bear the heavy burdens and to undertake these amazingly difficult trials and deep valleys of sorrow, with ALL joy, knowing God is in control and has real, everlasting purpose for ALL He does. Your blog has reminding me that in ALL things, God truly is good. He is righteous and holy and can turn what might think is only bad, into something wonderful and good – using it for the furtherance of His Kingdom. I’m excited to see how He’s used Cora’s life! I’m sitting here amazed at how many lives your story has reached and touched. God has used Cora in more ways than He’s used me and I’m going on 30 years old! 🙂
    Your relationship with Christ, your love for your husband and your memory and love for your sweet Cora and excitement over Baby Mac is pure sweetness. It is infectious.

    I will pray for you tomorrow (Christmas Day). I will pray that God will bless you with joy that is unspeakable. That when you have memories of last Christmas, you will remember that Cora is celebrating in Eternity, with Christ. Someday you’ll join her and she can tell you all about what you missed 🙂

    Much love in Jesus, Stefanie Arnold (WA)ReplyCancel

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  • Kimberley - Thinking of you today and praying for peace and JOY for you both.ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - I just wanted you to know that even a stranger is thinking of you today, and praying for you and all of your family. May Cora’s love for you give you strength to get through these holidays and may you always feel her around you and within you, especially when your newest family member arrives!ReplyCancel

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  • http://joymariesboutique.blogspot.com/ - I just love your closing verse. I have been following your story for some time, and my prayers are with you and your family. Thanks for sharing your JOY. I just posted my own “JOY” message on my blog and am adding this verse…ReplyCancel

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  • Rachel - Hi Jessica,
    I have been reading your blog for years now, and I was just going through it from the beginning since I had missed the first year of it. Your faith and joy in the midst of such a difficult year are evident and beautiful.
    I am thinking of your Cora today and praying that you feel our Lord wrap His loving arms around you as you remember her too through this year, 6 years later. She is not forgotten even in Ottawa, Canada!
    Sending love from the North!
    Rachel SReplyCancel

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Here are a few of the projects I have been working on.
Both of these ideas came from Ashley Ann’s blog.
It is one of my favorites.
You should definitely check it out.
Candy Caddy

Ashley made one of these for her husband when they were remodeling their kitchen.  I adapted the idea to give as Christmas gifts.  Each bottle in the caddy had a verse about joy on it.
I also made a few individual bottles to give out as gifts.  A candy caddy would be great gift for so many things.  You can find the directions here.
Clothes Pin Magnets

This was the best part.  My sweet husband helped me glue on the magnets so that I wouldn’t have to inhale all the fumes.  That was really nice of him because he HATES crafts.  Apparently the magnets I bought were a little too strong because they kept all sticking together while he was trying to glue them on.  I tried to help, but I think I made things worse.  So, I just stood back and laughed as he yelled at the magnets.  I am sure he really appreciated that!
I was going to stamp on the cardboard (like Ashley did), but couldn’t find my alphabet stamps.  So, I just printed off the same label I used on the candy caddy.  Another cheap and easy Christmas gift!  You can find the directions for the clothes pin magnets here.

Oh, and I made some little clothes pins too.  I used these ones to hang up all my Christmas cards.

I had a few questions about some of the other projects from our craft retreat.
You can find the directions for the photo tile coasters here.
And most of the girls were using blurb for their blog books.  I have never made one, but it is on my list of things to try!
Happy crafting!
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  • anna - how fun! i love all the projects!
    and i had to comment because in the last picture, i know the family! crazy!ReplyCancel

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  • Erica - seriously you and joel are so cute together! i love how he helped you with the project and i can just imagine him yelling at the magnets- my husband would do something similar i think! 😉 and what great ideas for presents!ReplyCancel

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  • Miss G - oh really, REALLY cute and really makes me want some m&ms! KellyReplyCancel

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  • Steve - This Christmas.. get something magnificent for your female counterpart..
    http://www.twin-diamonds.com/ReplyCancel

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  • L ~ S - I am imppressed! Those are some great ideas…I will try some next year!ReplyCancel

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  • Tricia - Such cute projects! I love the soda bottles with the m & m’s. What fun, and what a sweet hubby for helping. (I think it secretly made him happy. What do you think?! 😉

    Merry Christmas, Macs.

    With love and prayers,
    XO*TriciaReplyCancel

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  • Robin in Benton - Definitely stealing some of these ideas for next year! How fun!ReplyCancel

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  • Lauren Kelly - How fun and so creative!!!!!! 🙂ReplyCancel

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  • Kristi - You are so creative!! These projects are adorable :).ReplyCancel

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  • Ashley Ann - Yeah! I am so glad you made those. Your projects turned out super cute. I love what you did with the candy caddies. This was so fun for me to see, thanks for posting it!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Awesome ideas! What kind of paper did you use on the caddy? Thanks for the ideas.

    Always praying,

    Valerie P
    bpfeifer32@hotmail.comReplyCancel

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  • jen christians - So fun… and a wonderful way to share the season!… I think that we would have to plan in advance so we could drink all that soda!!! Thanks for the wonderful ideas. You have such an amazing artistic eye!ReplyCancel

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  • PamperingBeki - So cute!

    I saw those bottles on another blog last year and loved them.

    Joel is one good man to help you with your crafting! Josh has had to do a lot of jewelry making lately and he doesn’t love it. 😉 But it’s necessary sometimes.ReplyCancel

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  • Christina - love it! love it! love it!

    I wish I had seen the clothespin one earlier…I have my cards hanging like your picture…but with paper clips. 🙁ReplyCancel

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  • meg duerksen - wow! i think…i may hava project to do today. 🙂
    you make them look SO GOOD! i love it. i’m gonna link you…it’s too cute!ReplyCancel

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  • Heather at All A Flutter - Everything looks so bright and cheery! I love Ashley Ann’s site, too. It’s a daily read for me 🙂
    Merry Christmas!!ReplyCancel

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  • Aja - WOW these are adorable! You are so crafty! I know it’s too late for me to make these for Christmas, but the I will totally have to try this out for some other fun event or party!ReplyCancel

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  • Tsquared417 - Great ideas!! I will bookmark this for next year…which will be here before we know it! 🙂 Hope you’re doing well…countdown is on!!ReplyCancel

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  • Micah - I wish I was your “friend” 😉 These are too, too cute. Too late for this holiday, but I’m totally doing these for V-day!ReplyCancel

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  • Holly - I love the bottle idea!! Awesome! And that’s really neat to hang up all the cards like thatReplyCancel

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  • Ryan, Christy, Addyson, & Braden - You are so crafty – I am very envious!!!

    Just wanted to let you know that we’re praying that God will give you and Joel joy in the midst of what has to be a very tough week. Joy in all the little things like Baby Mac’s kicks (which probably aren’t too little by now :)) and laughing together over crafty projects. And praying for Baby Mac’s safe arrival!ReplyCancel

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  • Corinne Doughan - FUN!! Thanks so much for posting this!ReplyCancel

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  • Celine - What fantastic ideas! I wish I was crafty like that. I don’t have a crafty bone in my body. Maybe I will try to step out of the box next year and try some of these ideas. Thanks for sharing! Wishing you a wonderful, blessed Christmas!ReplyCancel

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  • Amber - Super cute ideas! They turned out so fun. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

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  • Walquist - how crafty are you!! can’t wait to see you in only a week! Love to you & the fam!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - DIY Christmas gift…=Baby Mac

    I know you’ve said the New Year, but I just have a feeling and can’t wait to read the announcement.ReplyCancel

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  • Polka Dot Moon - Wonderful gift ideas!

    We think of you often and can’t wait to hear about the arrival of Baby Mac!

    Merry Christmas!
    DeniseReplyCancel

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  • Dawn - I looove what you did with your Christmas cards! I have a basket full on my floor — but it just doesn’t seem right — since there are so many cute pictures in there. I think I’ll be making some clothes pins tomorrow! Who cares if Christmas is here in a few days. I can be lazy and just swap out the Christmas cards with Valentine’s in February! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas!ReplyCancel

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  • Kristi REDISKE - Wow-thanks for the great ideas-i am going to use some of these for sure. I can’t believe how many Christmas card pictures you get-those kind are my favorite-we have been doing those for 27 years now-that will tell you I am old-in fact a grandma-love it. I am still praying for your family!ReplyCancel

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  • Mandi @ It's come to this - You are so creative!!! Those caddies turned out adorable! And the clothespins too!! Thanks for the ideas … I’ll definitely be stealing this one in the future:)ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Thanks for sharing. I’d love to know if you made the Joy labels yourself and what program you made them in.

    Thanks,
    PamReplyCancel

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  • Nan - Hey!!! It’s Andi! I miss that girl! These are such cute gift ideas! I’m so not crafty. I admire those who are!ReplyCancel

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  • Jon (dh) - I love those ideas. I might have to borrow them for next year. The trick will be to remember!…RachelReplyCancel

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  • Tasha Roe - FANTASTIC Christmas gifts!! I plan on using those all year long! Thanks for the inspiring post!ReplyCancel

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  • gifts Philippines - Good that I found your blog it was so informative I will try doing this very creative. Keep posting!

    vittonReplyCancel

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  • zafran - How fun and so creative!!!!!!ReplyCancel

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  • Toni - Fun and creative ideas! Love it!ReplyCancel

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  • Erika - I’m dropping in from pinterest. I LOVE the bottle caddy. Did you just reuse the lids?ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Hi, Do you remember where you got your magnets in bulk like that? I can’t seem to find them with more than 10 in a pack, locally. Thanks!ReplyCancel

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  • Hank hendricks - I am going to keep it in mind
    Send gifts to pakistan and will use it if i needed.ReplyCancel

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