Friday, November 30, 2012

Make Him Room: An Advent Devotional

One of the things Jason and I have struggled with personally in our relationship with the Lord has been to set aside a regular time every day to read the Bible together, discuss a devotional, and spend time in prayer.

That's one of the reasons why I am so excited for my friend Kirsten Oliphant's new self-published book called Make Him Room: An Advent Devotional. The book is setup easily for an individual, couple, or family to spend time together each day of this amazing holiday season to celebrate the Lord and grow closer to Him.

There is one devotional for each day leading up to Jesus' birth. Each day's reading is broken up into three parts - Passages, Making Connection, and Questions for Reflection. The Passages cover the entire breadth of the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Kirsten has even included the passages directly in the devotional book in case you don't have a Bible handy. (No excuses people! ;-) ) The next session, Making Connections, helps to piece all of the passages together and share some insight to the Christmas season. Lastly, there are a few reflection questions that are appropriate for all ages to discuss as a family.

I've already purchased this amazing-steal for only $2.99 on Amazon (click here). I've also included a picture on my blog's sidebar in case you come back later and want to purchase (just click the image and it will open the Amazon page directly).

You can learn more about Kirsten and read her description of the devotional on her personal blog, I Still Hate Pickles. (She does a much better job describing her work than I can do!).

Jason and I are very excited about starting this devotional tomorrow, Dec 1, and getting prepared spiritually for this wonderful and glorious time of the year! I hope you enjoy the devotional! :-)


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Low-key 27th Birthday

A couple months ago I tried telling Jason that I was turning 26 this year. "Really", he retorted. "Because I turned 27 this year and we were born in the same year Darcy." Say what?!? Yep, I turned 27 this year (and don't worry, I did the math to make sure Jason was correct ;-). )

We had a very low-key birthday this year, which was exactly what I wanted after a busy week! We had a huge Thanksgiving feast Thursday night and Jason's Christmas dinner with coworkers Friday (read here) followed by a day of hiking around Månafosssen on Saturday (read here).

My birthday began with Jason making me a delicious breakfast sandwich before church. Here he is hard at work!

We visited a different church this week - The North Sea Baptist Church. We felt a lot more comfortable at this church and enjoyed the setup immensely. We plan to visit again and most likely will make it our church home in Stavanger.

After church we headed back to the apartment and just spent the afternoon relaxing and catching up on odds and ends. We did some laundry, caught up on going through pictures and blogged, and researched some things for our Christmas trip to London and Ireland.

We decided last week that it was silly of us not to take advantage of the days we have off for Christmas and New Year's and go somewhere. The realization that this was also our last "single" Christmas made us convinced of doing something exciting so we booked airfare to spend the break in London and then Ireland. We are very excited for the trip and welcome any suggestions for places to see, hotels to stay at, and restaurants to eat at!

We found mini cupcakes at the store earlier this week to celebrate my birthday! They were actually pretty delicious - I was impressed. Nothing like Ooh La La, but I'll take what I can get. ;-)

Jason even granted me a birthday wish and played Boggle! He almost came close to beating me with his 2 min handicap! (Okay not really, but I don't want to make him feel bad...)

And my birthday gift has been ordered and shipped to my mom's house in Oklahoma. We will get it when we are in the States next March. I'm so excited and can't wait to see it!! Jason splurged and got me a fabulous baby bag! Yay!!

Later in the evening we had Skype dates with our friends the Herns, doing ministry in Budapest, as well as the Johnsons, my mom and Jeff, and my dad and Mary. It was wonderful to catch up with everyone!

Sydney (our niece) was definitely the highlight of the day! She was allowed to stay up past her nap time to talk to Uncle Jason and Aunt Darcy. She read us a couple of books and sang me Happy Birthday. Thank goodness for technology that lets us stay in touch with our loved ones!! :-)

Now we are headed to bed and ready to begin our third week in Stavanger! Good night everyone!


Hiking Månafossen

We slept in a bit Saturday morning before getting up to take advantage of the fantastic weather. It wasn't raining and only slightly cloudy most of the day, which is a rarity for Stavanger, especially this time of year!

It was a gorgeous drive down! Here's an iphone shot from the car ride.

We picked up our friends Erica and Thad and headed south to a small town called Byrkjedal for lunch. The main attraction is a restaurant and candle factory called Byrkjedalstunet. We had a light lunch of delicious pancakes, chicken soup, and porridge before shopping in the factory.

We brought home our first Christmas decorations for the year. A tree, snowflake candles, and an embroidered centerpiece that says "Hilsen fra Norge" or "Greetings from Norway".

 Then we headed to the hike starting point. Just a few stairs to start the journey...

It wasn't a very technical or long hike - perfect for a Saturday afternoon. We were quickly to the viewing point for the falls.

We continued to hike farther to get to the actual waterfall.

Look at the amazing disappearing Erica!

And then we took this shot... actually we got about 20 pictures of this shot because Thad decided to see how long we would hold the pose and just kept taking pictures. We were not impressed.

Once we made it to the top we could see the farmhouse (closed for the season) and the valley behind the waterfall.

 We decided to attempt handstand pictures. This is when I discovered that I can no longer do a handstand. Fail.

Jason proved to be significantly better than me. Here he is with Thad -

The overall award goes to Erica and Thad. They did the best handstand!

I opted for a jumping picture instead and Erica obliged. :-)

Next we made our own trail down to the waterfall and got some great shots of the top of the falls.

Erica and I at the top of the falls -

Another jumping picture!

Oh no, I'm falling!

Obligatory BA pictures. We like to pretend we are cool. We even got multiple angles this time! Thanks Erica and Thad. :-)

Love this guy!

After heading back to Stavanger, we went over the Erica and Thad's for a delicious dinner and picture swapping before heading back home. We had a fabulous time and were excited to see some of the beautiful surroundings we are blessed to live amongst here in Norway!


Thanksgiving Feast! And Now the Christmas Parties Commence!

Thanksgiving Feast!
It definitely didn't feel like Thanksgiving this past week being at work on Thursday and not Black Friday shopping. Fortunately there is a large contingency of Expats here in Stavanger and we decided to have our own Thanksgiving Feast!

Shaina graciously offered to host our party of 14 people and everyone contributed a dish or two to help out. Some of us ladies snuck out of work early to make sure and get the turkey in the oven and cooking. I find it ironic my first full-on turkey prep was in Stavanger...

Erica was able to snag a turkey. Together we conquered the cleaning process. Let me tell you this - it was no American turkey with a bag of the insides easily prepped to just pull out. We had to get inside that bird!

It turned out beautifully and tasted amazing! Good job team!

Heather, Megan, and Shaina all tackled the stuffing. Shaina did the hardest job and chopped most of the ingredients ahead of time so that we could get straight to cooking. It was a great recipe that I know most of us will be making again!

Heather was all over the green bean casserole and her grandma's delicious appetizer recipe!

Megan attempted to help with the broccoli casserole and instead ending up feeding the dogs crackers. It still came together beautifully!

Erica made her family's gravy recipe for the turkey. After a quick consult and an assist from Heather, they got it going and it tasted incredible!

Here's the team hard at work! Fortunately Jason and I live in the building next door so we were able to use both of our ovens to cook everything. Jason also got our mashed potato dishes prepared since I was over helping with everything else. What a guy! 

We even had some time to goof around while everything was finishing cooking and we were waiting for guests to arrive. (Tom stepped in and took over the photography with a much nicer camera than my iphone and graciously let me steal his photos for the blog. Thanks Tom!)

Here's the amazing spread of food! Everything tasted fantastic and we wouldn't have been able to have such a fantastic meal without everyone's help!

Now time to eat!!

Group shot! Unfortunately we didn't get it taken before a couple people had to leave, but here's the majority of the Expat Stavanger Thanksgiving Feast!

And Now the Christmas Parties Commence!
The first of our four Christmas parties kicked off Friday night with Jason's Applications Engineering Group. We headed to a restaurant called Renaa for a fantastic meal and a wonderful time getting to visit with everyone! 

Here are the delicious appetizers and main courses that came with our Off the Grill and Norwegian Dinner menus. We had cod, venison, and gravlaks (It's a traditional Norwegian dish that's raw salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill. It used to be fermented by being buried in the sand, hence the literal translation of "buried salmon". It was delicious! I know, I know - I'm not supposed to have raw fish. I tried one small square of Jason's appetizer. And I've lived to tell the tale... ;-) )

We got to visit with some, but not all of his team since we were separated into two tables. Here is the group we sat with during dinner. We laughed the entire time listening to stories and getting to know everyone. It was such an enjoyable evening!

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