My Family

My Family
Summer 2015

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Gingerbread Journey..

Back in 1999, with two completely crazy boys at my feet, while living in a tiny 1,000 SF house....I thought it would be a great idea to design and build a gingerbread house.  Sir Jacob was almost "2" and Isaac 4 1/2.   I'm pretty sure someone should have tried talking me off that ledge right then and there,
but no...I had a plan there really was no stopping that train.

I'd like to make an excuse for my insanity and say the kits to build-your-own-house were not a readily avaialbe as they are now.  But, there really is no excuse, and at that point in my life I often got obsessed with my plans...hmmmm

I remember thinking how I wanted to start a new tradition just for our family.  Good intentions really.
I'm pretty sure I had visions of Sugar Plums in my head--as in ... a mental disorder...

But, I set out to create the design with graph paper,
I found a recipe (which I promply lost for future years)
I made the dough,
I rolled it out,
I cut out all the pieces by hand
then baked it
I made the frosting,
then came the assembly...

not quite as easy as you would imagine...
But, finally we got to the fun part...
the decorating
I had ideas about how it "should" look. (recall the Sugar Plums in my head???)
guess what?
none of it really turned out quite the way I had planned...

I may have said a few choice words under my breath (or out loud) that I may have regretted.
but, truthfully this little house has carried many lessons for me over the years.

1999--the boy on the right is a sweet neighbor boy that came to help decorate the first year.
Isaac is on the left and Jacob in the middle.

There was a tad bit of Pride in this little house even though it was far from perfect.
But, God would soon call attention to that little issue...

On day 2....
yes, just 2 days after we finished this new tradition,
our adorable crazy Jacob
climbed up onto the couch we had sitting near the counter where the Gingerbread House was resting, and he punched a hole right in the roof.
A few days later he broke off more pieces.
double ugh!!
So one week to the day after we made it-yes 7 days post construction, I got so frustrated with the brokenness of our house that I decided to take things into my own hands...
I figured Peter could maybe help me repair it.
So I took the whole thing, including the cardboard base it was glued to, and set it up on a cabinet near the back door of our kitchen.

This back door of which I speak, opened inward---just as an aside...never really took that into consideration...

That night, Peter came home from work and walked into the front door...
the boys greeted him with hugs, then he got a phone call on his cell phone,
which had very poor reception in our house
so he immediately headed for the back door to get better reception outside.
I didn't realize the gingerbread house was overhanging the cabinet by about 2" and was obstructing the doorway....
the WHOLE THING WENT CRASH to the floor from about 6 feet in the air...
Jacob immediately plopped his sweet little butt right in the middle of the mess and began eating all the scraps.  Isaac was not far behind.

I could have just cried.
maybe I did...

All those plans..
I had such good intentions
I just wanted to create a special memory and new tradition...
I did note in my journal that I actually chose laughter.  What else was there really?  At that point, everything had fallen apart in regards to my original plans anyway...

Well, we did succeed in one area.
Because here we are in 2011-
13 years and 11 gingerbread houses later. (I did offer myself "grace" 2 years)
A tradition begun back then, and carried on to today.
Even with the disaster of a house that fell apart, a new unexpected tradition began.
Every year either on New Year's Eve or soon thereafter we make a big deal about "smashing" the house.  It's a good way to hit the "reset" button on a New Year and also is just plain fun -- even for teenagers...

Every year I write just a little journal entry about the house--who helped us build it, decorate it, etc. The journal is full of memories as I try to recount what is going on in our lives each year and capture the essence and meaning for each Christmas.

Our "house" has been a reflection point for us each year.  Join me on a Gingerbread Journey....

That first year I reflected on our little house that we lived in and how sometimes I'd wish we had a bigger house.  Now I look back at those years and treasure each moment because those are really the years we had with Jacob. That cramped little space, 2 crazy boys, the noise and the mess.

year 2000...

The Aroma of Christ --

This year, I reflected on how the aroma of the gingerbread filled the house.  I love that smell.  It started out not so sweet smelling as I started out frustrated because I lost the recipe,
but I learned:
How to depend on the most basic cookbook (Betty Crocker Red Cookbook)-just as God often points us back to His most basic Word when we think our plan is better than His.

The recipe almost flopped.  My attitude was not pleasing at this point.
Lesson learned "It's not about You honey..." This process you are going through is so you will eventually see "Me" (God)

Jacob was right by my side the whole time.
Lesson learned:  how to treasure every moment with those you love around you.

The dough got crumbly and appeared useless.
Lesson learned: even out of our crumbly mess and our stubbornness, God does NOT give up on us.

After finally working the dough with patience and warm hands, it became more malieable.
Lesson learned: In much the same way, God works with our stubbornness and forms even us into something useful for His service all the while pateintly teaching us about His Character.

I had extra dough that year--We ended up building a new tradition--we added a train to the house.  Lesson learned:  Following God's lead, Reading His Word, and allwoing Him to work, will help us to see things through His eyes and may even add to extra blessing.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.  For we are to God THE AROMA OF CHRIST among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."  1 Cor. 2:14

2001...(Isaac, friend Christopher, and Jacob)

In 2001, I recalled how I needed to see each person in our house for their unique abilities--

Mom--Chief Planner-basic construction, sentimentality, absorbing moments with kids
Dad-Chief Rescuer-When the house came tumbling down he found a way to rebuild it and give support (w/popsicle sticks)---he held it all together.
Isaac-Chief Decorator-likes final touches but not the prep work.  Made it look great, needs friends to make it fun
Jacob-Chief Helper-Servant Heart, Needs to be part of Entire process,

1 Cor. 12:18
"But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be."

Superman and his "assistant" in destructo mode....(post 2001 house)

House in 2002 (Christopher, Isaac Jacob, Sarah and Dawn)

This was our last year in our "little" house I wrote:

"The house doesn't matter, it's the people that make it a home."
"New memories are ok and good.  As we follow Christ, the house doesn't matter it's the love and relationsip of those within it's walls that matters."
This year was also unique in that I had no idea as we were building the house that year that our house would really come crumbling to the ground with the news on Dec. 10 that Jacob had cancer.  Life truly took a shift that year and the meaning of what makes a house a home and people and family had new meaning.

2003--The House That Love Built--(Isaac, Jacob)

I did not journal this year because it was so chaotic.  But reflecting on the year we were continually reminded of God's hand in our family.  In yet another attempt to keep things as "normal" as possible, I held tight to the tradition of building our gingerbread house even though we were not home.  We were staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Memphis. I think I will simply say...the other name for this house that we shared with several other families that Christmas was:
"The House that Love Built" .... It was on the side of their building.  Need I say more?

2004 (Jacob died 4/2004)
"Once again this year our house is different...I miss my kitchen helper...I've bought the candy but had such an ache in my heart even thinking about doing this...Once again we're in a different place--a different assembling 'place' a different emotional place, just a different place"... but our sweet friends Jack and Hannah came to help bring a sprinkle of joy to our house.
(Picture for 2004 is currently unavailable.  If I find it I will post.)

possibly because of the painful memories of last year, we didn't start this house until 2 days before Christmas.  The recipe was a mess due to changing a few ingredients...the pictures look great, but the was a hard year to build a house.  We decorated it late on 12/24...
I almost didn't do it, but when I mentioned it to Isaac he was very sad.  We've created a tradition, and he wanted to have at least 'something' that felt normal.

me, my mom, and Isaac

2006...could not build a house.  just too hard this year for some reason.  Too much heartache and Jacob memories??  I think the lesson here is that God offers Grace.  We often get ourselves wrapped up in what "should" be...but the Truth is ... He offers Grace to us even when we fail, fall short, or just don't have the strength or energy to do it on our own.  I am so thankful for Grace!!

2 Cor. 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."

2007 (Isaac, Jack and Hannah Cz.)

As we began, Isaac said "wait, I have to get something".  He ran upstairs and seemingly out of nowhere came downstairs into the kitchen with Jacob's Build-A-Bear bunny.  He said "Jacob wants to help".
I wrote...
"Funny thing about traditions--they carry bittersweet memories sometimes.  This was never meant to be a bittersweet memory when it started."
I also noticed an evolution over the past 8 years of doing this...I was a lot more mellow about the process this year.  Perhaps "life" has taught me to let go of the unimportant and embrace the important things in life.
just a note...I made my first entries about our sweet "Emma" --that we were waiting for with our adoption from China pending.... (that would be Lucas by the way--God changed that plan!!)

2008 No House---putting another house on the market to sell for our move from WI to GA---Had to stay "clean" and pristene (not my normal mode and not Gingerbread mode for sure- so had to skip the house cuz it reflects a little too much of "me")  More reminders of God's Grace this year!!  No "shoulds"

Our first year in Georgia--Our 3rd house since we began this tradition.  Quiet was the word of the year.  Left family and sweet friends behind, Isaac started public school so my days were very quiet.  But, we did have our wonderful friends (Cz's) living in our backyard...Our home was really shared with them.  (notice Hannah and Jack--also in pictures from 2007 in WI =)  We invited other small children in to help spread the cheer.  God has offered much Grace and healing over the past several years.  We still are waiting for "Emma"  (sorry Lucas, we just didn't know God's plans would be different)
(Isaac, Alex, Hannah, Paul, Jack, Nathan, David--friends brought cheer and laughter to our house)

2010 (back: Hannah, Isaac
Front: Paul, Alex, David)

the year of many many changes and missing our dear friends in our backyard.  See this post: 
But, watching our other "little" friends the Fedeles grow up with our Gingerbread house now is so fun.  We had our first Gingerbread "graveyard"...One of the kids bit the head off a gingerbread man and then buried it in a gumdrop graveyard...very funny.  
(Little did we know that in 2011 these kids would become some of our Lucas's best friends...)

This is an example of the "smashing" event that occurs in (January 2011)...
Isaac enjoying this evil little display of wonder....

 Even after all these years, Isaac loves this part.....

and finally we come to 2011
...we've added chaos once again to our home....and we are lovin' every minute of it...
Peter said, "It's been a long time since we've had someone in our house this excited for Christmas!"
Lucas has definitely added a sparkle to this Christmas.

this stuff never ends well.....but there was a lot of laughter....

and a few tears from Isaac.

 decorating with the friends...


I guess I will end this post by saying that this year is all about God's Provision. 

"for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance." Philippians 1:19

To God Alone Be the Glory as we celebrate the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ!  
Let us remember All Things Work Together for our Good and His Glory!!! 

I hope you enjoyed the Gingerbread Journey....May your house be filled with sweet memories and the Aroma of Christ as you celebrate His birth.

Merry Christmas to All!!


  1. I absolutely loved it. Well, what I could read through the tears. Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories and lessons learned through the years. Why oh, why does it take us so long to learn this? God is showing me so much, too. Lessons about myself and Him. Merry Christmas!

  2. I'm still learning and still needing reminders...When I reread my journal entries I often think about how I'm still working on these issues and clinging so desperatlely to His Word for reassurance and encouragement. It has definitely been a journey and contiues to be one.