Saturday, December 24, 2016

Brown Family Christmas Letter 2016

(Most recent family picture, taken in Hermiston at the 1A State Championship game)

My sister, Jackie, is always so good about sending out a Christmas letter, so I guess I got inspired after reading hers. The truth is, I have no idea how to wrap up our year without writing out a page for each kid. I guess I also don't want people to think I am bragging about my children. I am proud of them, but they struggle and so do we as parents. So yes, you are getting the "abridged" version.

Steve is on the left.

Usually, I start with the kids, but I thought I would switch it up. Steve has worked for Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue for 24 years I believe. He is still the Captain of A Shift. He loves this position. He is a natural commander and it works well with his personality ;) Marcus was able to do ride alongs with Steve this year and saw a different side of his father. I think he has a whole new level of respect for Steve as he realized what his father actually did on a typical 24 hour shift. Steve is highly involved in Tae Kwon Do and is slowly getting closer to his black belt. He has a couple more belts to go. He has found friendship in his little community (class). Steve has also made it a goal to get to more games for the kids. There are a lot of them, but he realized how much he enjoys watching the kids and asks for a lot of time off so he can be there to encourage them. He made every one of the older boys football play-off games this year! Steve serves as a deacon in our church and mows the lawn during the spring and summer.

A tiny part of my garden! Love how it is filling out.

Jackie and I in Surrey, B.C.

My Miss Amanda!

Swinging in a hammock in Mexico!

I guess I'll go next. I am still a SAHM. I love being able to have this freedom. I watch a sweet disabled girl while the kids are at school. Her name is Amanda and she is an honorary Brown kid now (even though she is 26). She laughs as I make messes in the kitchen and drop things because I am in a hurry! I have recently become a world traveler! I was able to go with two dear friends to Barra De Potosi, Mexico in February. We had a wonderful time enjoying the sunshine and the relaxed pace of a tiny fishing village nestled on the Pacific by Ixtapa. Then in August, my sister and I took a trip up to B.C. and visited two blog friends. I can't believe I used my passport twice in one year! This year, I have been asked by my in-laws to go to Greece in May! My sister and I are both going, so my Christmas present to myself is a carry-on bag with swivel wheels. I never dreamed I would be able to stick my feet in the Mediterranean Sea and see the ancient city of Athens and Corinth. I am grateful to my husband who supports my dreams of travel even though he doesn't have an interest in traveling himself. I am still very involved in my church. I teach Junior High Sunday School, lead worship occasionally, am a deaconess. My friend, Kathi, and my Great Aunt and I have formed a "band". Kathi plays the drums, Aunt Esther plays the piano and sings back-up and I sing. It has been so much fun to discover new songs together and lead others in worship! My voice is stronger than ever and seems to be healed. It is exciting to be able to sing for longer periods of time without pain! It all started when we were asked to lead worship for a women's retreat at Camp Morrow in the fall. I could never have done that two years ago! My life is full. I love watching my children's games and helping out at the school when I can. Cooking, laundry and picking up after my family is a full time job, but somehow I am able to squeeze so much more in. Being an avid gardener I get so much satisfaction watching flower beds take shape!

Joshua and Marcus after a home game


Joshua turned 18 in September. He is a senior. Joshua continues to live with his grandparents about 7 minutes away from us. He is doing good there and they take wonderful care of him.  He had a ranch hand job this summer and was able to upgrade from his little truck to a small car that actually goes the speed limit! We are proud of how hard he worked this summer and saved his money so he can pay for insurance, gas, and repairs. He is learning responsibility and he isn't afraid to work. Joshua played football this year (on the team who won the 1A State Football Championship) and is now currently playing basketball. He says he is going to play baseball in the spring. He has never played baseball, so that should prove interesting. He is on track to graduate in June. School has always been a struggle for Josh, and yet he has stuck with it and he never quit. He is looking into a career as a welder.  We are proud of how hard he has worked to overcome his challenges.

Marcus watching the game (note knee brace)


Marcus turned 16 in September and is currently a Sophomore. Marcus worked for Papa last summer bucking hay and then went and worked in a vineyard for the second summer in a row. He earned enough money to buy our old car from us and to buy insurance and his own gas and repairs. He hurt his knee pretty badly in June right when school was ending and tore his ACL and his MCL. This caused huge problems in his knee and created too much play in it. He got through football season by some miracle (hurt it several different times but was able to push through) and now has had a major surgery on it a few days ago. While the doc was in there to give him a total ACL reconstruction, he found out Marcus had a significant tear to his meniscus. The doc went ahead and repaired it. Marcus has a long road to recovery but he is hoping to be back in action by August for football practice. He also looks forward to playing basketball and baseball next year since he missed out on it this year due to his surgery. Marcus loves video games and friends. He also likes the freedom of driving his car around now that he has his license. Marcus says his goal right now is to become a paramedic and firefighter like his father.

Jessica playing summer ball


Jessica is a typical 13 year-old girl. She loves make up, clothes, shoes, friends, social media, but most of all sports. Basketball seems to be her thing, but in addition, she plays volleyball, and does track. She was able to play summer basketball with the highschoolers this summer and had a lot of fun playing against girls that were much bigger than her. She is fearless! She loves camping and going on trips. She was able to go with Grandma Kricket and Larry Pop to Alvord Desert, and went with me to camp in the rain at Heppner. She is pretty adventurous and likes to ride four-wheelers. Right now she says she wants to become a forensic scientist. She is pretty quiet until you get her around her friends.

Andrew enjoying a bit of target practice at the ranch


Andrew is now 11 and is the atypical Brown kid. He is our builder and likes working with his hands. He isn't into sports but we have discovered what he really enjoys is going out to the ranch and working with Papa. We make sure he gets plenty of time out there. He has become Papa's little right-hand man and I think Papa really enjoys the company. I like knowing someone is out there with my dad in case something goes wrong and he falls. My dad broke his leg bad last year and is not as stable as he once was. Andrew is now in Junior High and has grown so much in the past year! He is a Junior Deacon and loves to help out at the church whenever he can. He is a servant and many people are blessed by how quickly he comes to their aid. Andrew has always been quieter than the rest of our kids and can fall through the cracks. So we have to be extra intentional to not let that happen. Andrew is really into guns, so I got my .22 out and we have been doing some grey-digger hunting and target practicing. He loves to be on his IPad, so it is always good when we can get him out of the house.

Jacob enjoyed helping me in concessions during baseball season.


Jacob is 9 and is in fourth grade. He is full of energy and loves music, dancing, friends, basketball, baseball, video games, and riding four-wheelers. He is a talker and likes having good conversations. He questions everything!  Jacob loves the Lord and is not afraid to talk about Him at school. He knows the importance of prayer and asks to pray for people who are hurting. Sports have been good for him as he has had to learn to get along with others and take direction from coaches. He is very independent.

Lily caught her first fish up at Camp Baldwin. Here is Pastor Tim seeing if she wanted to hold it. The look on her face is priceless!

Lily got to ride Lancer this year. Hoping next year we will find more time to ride horses out at the ranch.


Lily is now seven and is in second grade! She is a bright little thing but struggles like her mom and dad in math. She loves to please her teacher and the only thing she really gets in trouble for is talking out of turn (she got that from me too). She is beyond excited that she gets to play sports now like her siblings. She played T-Ball last spring and gets to play basketball for the first time this winter! Lily is a mama's girl and hates when mom goes on trips and leaves her behind. She would be permanently attached to my hip if I allowed it. She has so many friends at school and is learning to stand up for herself instead of always trying to keep the peace. She has such a tender little heart for hurting people and prays a lot for them. She loves, music, movies, books, and sports. She is my most enthusiastic, bubbly child who expresses herself continually! She has lots of personality.

Whew! That's why I don't do Christmas letters much anymore. That is a lot to recall. But it is good for me to see the blessings and the struggles. Makes me grateful for my wild, crazy, imperfect life!  I could have chosen something so different if we would have just had the two children we had planned but God had something different in mind. Now I pray for the energy to keep up with it all. I love having things to look forward to, like my Greece trip in May. God knows how and when to bless me with rest and rejuvenation. He is amazing!

May you remember Him and His coming to this earth this season. He came, He died on a cross and He rose again so we would have eternal life and we could be with Him forever in paradise. I cling to that promise!

 Many blessings to you and yours,

Stacie, Steve, Joshua, Marcus, Jessica, Andrew, Jacob and Lily

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Rangers Win 1A Football State Championship (Two Years in a Row)!!!

Since August, our world has revolved around football. Josh and Marcus are playing on a team that takes it seriously and it has paid off because the Rangers have won a whopping total of EIGHT State Championships!

Here is a pic of Josh #60 at Days Creek during the Quarter finals.

I couldn't help but post this!

 Before the team left for the Championship game, the community organized a pretty amazing send off! They painted the bus, gave the boys food and drink and gave them a send off parade!

 Our new Ranger sticker! I love the star!

 Ready for the Championship game! Had to drive to Hermiston for it on Thanksgiving weekend. We were dressed for freezing weather, but it ended up not being that bad after all! Several family and friends from Pendleton came over to watch!

 This shirt says it all!

 We played Crane for the second year in a row. We were down by 10 points twice in the game. It was probably one of the most intense games I have ever watched. But the Rangers never quit and pulled some unique moves to prove why they are champions! So proud of them! The starters were exhausted at the end! Josh and Marcus weren't able to play one down of the game, but they can feel good knowing that they have been part of an excellent scout team and had LOTS of playing time the rest of the season.
 Steve and I are so proud of our boys!

 This was Josh's last high school football game since he is senior. What a way to go out! Marcus still has two more years. He is getting surgery on his knee. A complete ACL reconstruction. He will be able to start football in August if he gets it down during Christmas break. It won't be a great Christmas break for him, but at least he won't miss too much school this way.

 Our whole family was able to go this year to the championship! Steve and I look so short compared to Josh and Marcus!

A pic of the whole team!

 I love this picture of Papa's proud smile! He is probably one of the Ranger's biggest fans! He missed last year's championship game because he was laid up last year with a broken leg so he was pretty happy to make this championship game!
 Russell (Josh and and Marcus's good friend). I love their numbers this year. They were easy to spot! 50, 60, 70!
Award's assembly. Their trophy was presented to them. Such a big deal for our tiny school of about 350 kids total from K-12. What a celebration for our school and community. Football has been so good for this community. It allows the Dufur people to have something in common. It is a blessing to see everyone come together and support the kids.

So that's a wrap! Congratulations, Rangers! Let's go for NINE!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Browned Butter Sugar Cookies

Browned Butter Sugar 
Yield: 48 cookies
Serving Size: 1 cookie
Sugar cookies meet snickerdoodles in these dark and chewy brown butter brown sugar won't be able to have just one! You can adjust the sugar if it is too sweet. I like to use raw sugar and S-sucanat, but this is what the recipe calls for. By browning the butter it gives this cookie and completely different flavor! Almost nutty!
·         1 ¾ cup butter
·         3 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
·         4 1/2 cups flour
·         2  tsp baking soda
·         1/2 tsp baking powder
·         1 1/4 tsp salt
·         2 eggs
·          2 TBs vanilla
·         1/2 cup sugar (to roll cookie in)
1.     Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.     Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Allow to simmer until it starts to turn an amber color and smell nutty and fragrant. Remove from the heat to a separate bowl. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
3.     In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the browned butter and brown sugar until well-blended.
4.     In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
5.     Add the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
6.     Mix the flour mix into the cookie dough, stirring until just combined.
7.     In a small bowl, combine the sugar and brown sugar.
8.     Scoop the cookie dough into balls using a 1 1/2 tbsp cookie scoop (or just scoop it into rounded tbsps). Roll in the sugar and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cookie dough, leaving 2 inches between each dough ball on the baking sheet.

9.     Bake for 10-12 minutes or until starting to set around the edges. Allow to cool before serving.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Fun Fall Memories, 2016

 I can't believe that this is the last year I can take a picture like this. Josh will be graduating this year! Every two years, I will be having a graduating senior for the next 10 years. That is a crazy thought!

 I am watching my sweet, amazing disabled young lady, Amanda while the kids are in school. This is my third year of getting to have this pleasure. She keeps me from being lonely when Steve is at work and all the kids are gone. She and I have so much fun together. Her highlight of the day is when Marcus runs home for lunch and he plays with her. It is pretty precious to watch!

Jess played volleyball this year. It was fun to watch these girls grow! This isn't her favorite sport, but I am glad she does it because she gets so bored when she isn't playing sports.

 Time to start trimming and deadheading the dying flowers around the place. I let Jacob try this year. I don't think he was quite ready, but Andrew came and finished for him. I so appreciate kids that are willing to work! Saves my arm and my back!

 There was one Saturday in October where nothing was going on. I decided I needed a little time with just me and God. I drove up to the forest and took in all the beautiful fall colors. I was thankful I took the time to do this. It was such a blessing when I asked God to delight me and on the way back a herd of elk were beside the road. The trophy bull elk was breathtaking! Another example of how God knows what we need when we need it. I just needed to know that He loves me and He sees me.

Some pictures of a quaint little creek I stopped and looked at. It is a shame that I live 45 minutes away from this area and I rarely get to get up there. I am determined to take the kids hiking next year!

 Jackie and her kids came up to watch my big boys play football. It was fun to watch a home game with her. Her kids ended up getting sick so she had to go home early. So it was a whirlwind visit. This is what we do in our hometown in the fall. We watch LOTS of football! Steve and Dad are in the background. It is a family thing!

 Here is a great picture of my boys! They have worked so hard this year. Both of them are on the line. At first they were really competitive and it was not so fun to listen to them after practice, but as the season has gone by they have developed a respect for each others strengths and differences. It has been cool to watch. ( Love Marcus's friend, Russell, photobombing them in the back. So him!)
 Marcus's last JV game. They did a great job and won every game they played this year!

The Varsity team is going to semi-finals this Saturday to see if they will play in the Championship game. Our boys are defending their title of being the 1A State Champs last year! I know we can do it and can't wait to watch them go head to head with the best teams in Oregon!

I was able to have my sister, Jackie and my mom come over last weekend and scrapbook. I got around 30-40 pages done. It was so fun to do something creative and have hard copies of some of my favorite memories. We were going to go into Portland but the anti-Trump riots were kind of scary sounding, so we opted to play it safe and stay and my house while Steve took the kids to go to the play off game.

Right now life is good. We are not without struggle but we are certainly staying busy trying to keep up with all these kids and their activities. Steve has never tried harder to try to get to all their games this year. Not an easy task for someone who works 24 hours when he is on shift! He is probably the greatest Ranger fan out there right now. He loves to root and cheer (loudly) for our kids and everyone else's kids too!

As we approach Thanksgiving, I just want to thank the Lord for the good times and the bad times. The good times are good of course because they are joyful and easy to walk through. But I am learning that the Lord redeems the bad times as well. What we think are disasters become some of our greatest victories! 

Friday, September 23, 2016

This Promise is MINE!

 Dear Mothers,

Lately, the enemy has just been harassing me. I thought I had cut the head off of fear years ago. Apparently, it has edged its way back into my life again. It frustrates me that I feel like I am back in this hole, mainly because I remember the work it took to get out of it. But at the same time, I am pressing in to the Lord, and when I do that with everything I have in me, good things always follows. What good things? Peace, and blessed JOY!

It seems like everything I am reading is about the Promised Land. But before that promise was fulfilled to the Israelites, there was a time of wandering, waiting, wandering, and waiting.

When you have teenagers, you really do have to learn to wait and it feels like you are wandering a LOT. Everything you taught them since they were knee-high to a grasshopper is not going to just suddenly manifest itself in your teen! They have a journey they are going on too. They have their own wandering to do until they realize that Jesus really is the Promised Land!

I have stayed encouraged lately by reading about other Christian parents who are raising their hard teenagers. I am not alone. I like reading about how they got to their Promised Land. It is helping me be patient and helping me also to work on me, myself and I. Boy, do I have a lot of soul-searchng to do in that department!

I have also learned to accept  just because we had a bad day, week or even month, does not mean I failed. There will be good days, that follow. Sometimes there are just several bad days in a row and you gotta grit your teeth and push through even when you see ZERO fruit and nothing but not-so-lovely conflict.

I am going to stop worrying about being scared I am displeasing my kids. I WILL ask them to respect me and if they do not, I WILL apply consequences. For Heaven's sake, why do I think I should put up with that kind of talk for a minute? Either I am too tired to deal with it, lazy, or I just want to keep the peace. Those are no good reasons to tolerate disrespect.

I read this in my devotions from "Streams in the Desert" by L.B. Cowman

"You should get into the habit of looking for the silver lining of storm clouds. And once you have found it, continue to focus on it rather than the dark grey of the center. Do not yield to discouragement no matter how severely stressed or surrounded by problems you may be. A discouraged soul is in a helpless state being neither able to "stand against the devil's schemes" (Eph 6:11) himself nor able to prevail in prayer for others. Flee every symptom of the deadly foe of discouragement as you would run from a snake. Never be slow to turn your back on it, unless you desire to eat the dust of bitter defeat.

Search for specific promises of God, saying aloud of each one "This promise is mine." then if you still experience feelings of doubt and discouragement, pour your heart out to God, asking Him to rebuke the Adversary who is so mercilessly harassing you."

Can I get an, Amen? Boy, howdy, that is some good stuff right there!

One promise I can always take to the bank is "Never will I leave you, nor forsake you." He is always there with me. He sees all, and yet He loves me anyway. I don't have to be a perfect mom! I just have to love the fact that I am forgiven and out of a grateful heart to my Savior I will try hard to please Him by teaching my children His ways and His Truth.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Stacie's Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls (Bread machine)

(Here they are inverted)

Stacie's Bread Machine Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

In Bread machine pan:

Place 1 cup of milk
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp salt
4 cups of bread flour
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1 TB sugar
1 TB active dry yeast

Select Dough cycle.

For filling:

In food processor add:
1/2 cup light brown sugar or sucanat
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBs of white flour
1 1/2 TB of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter (cut up)

Mix till crumbly.

For the Caramel Sauce:

1/2 cup salted better
1 cup light brown sugar or sucanat
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Heat till sugar dissolves and pour into a greased 10x16 inch glass pan. Or you can divide into two 9x9 pans.

When dough is done, roll out on large rectangler cutting board. Place filling on dough, then 2 cups of chopped apples.  Roll and seal. Cut the jelly-roll style dough in 1 to 2 inch sections. Place cut sections face cut-side down onto the caramel sauce.

Cover and let rise till doubled. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until light brown. While they are warm, invert onto a serving plate. YUMMY!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Like Wings of Eagles

I ran across this poem the other day and it completely made Isaiah 40:31 come alive for me.

One day when walking down the street,
On business bent, while thinking hard
About the "hundred cares" which seemed
Like thunderclouds about to break
In torrents, Self-pity said to me:
"You poor, poor thing, you have too much
To do. Your life is far too hard.
This heavy load will crush you soon."
A swift response of sympathy
Welled up within. The burning sun
Seemed more intense. The dust and noise
Of puffing motors flying past
With rasping blast of blowing horn
Incensed still more the whining nerves,
The fabled last back-breaking straw
To weary, troubled, fretting mind.
"Ah yes, it will break and crush my life;
I cannot bear this constant strain
Of endless agravating cares;
They are too great for such as I."
So thus my heart consoled itself,
"Enjoying misery," when lo!
A "still small voice" distincly said,
"'Twas sent to lift you-not to crush."
I saw at once my great mistake.
My place was not beneath the load
But on the top! God meant it not
That I should carry it. He sent
It here to carry me. Full well
He knew my incapacity
Before the plan was made. He saw
A child of His in need of grace
And power to serve; a puny twig
Requiring sun and rain to grow;
An undeveloped chrysalis;
A weak soul lacking faith in God.
He could not help but see all this
And more. And then, with tender thought
He placed it where it had to grow-
Or die. To lie and cringe beneath
One's load means death, but life and power
Await all those who dare to rise above.
Our burdens are our wings; on them
We soar to higher realms of grace;
Without them we must ever roam
On plains of undeveloped faith,
(For faith grows but by exercise
In circumstance impossible).
O paradox of Heaven. The load
We think will crush was sent to lift us
Up to God! Then, soul of mine,
Climb up! Nothing can e'er be crushed
Save what is underneath the weight.
How may we climb! By what ascent
Will we crest the critical cares
Of life! Within His Word is found
The key which opens His secret Stairs;
alone with Christ, secluded there,
We mount our loads, and rest in Him.

-Mary Butterfield

May you be blessed today as you learn to soar on "wings of eagles"!

Monday, August 15, 2016

My Firefighter

 I absolutely LOVE this picture of Steve and his "guys" (Kurt, and Hal). The tilted hats, immediately make me think of great humor and fun that these guys maintain on a daily basis while doing their job. They are on a grass fire in this picture. Steve has had his wild land gear for over 20 years! I guess the other guys just got new ones and need to break them in.

These images are of Steve fighting a house fire last month. The way the fire engine's lights were shining through the smoke was breathtaking. Another firefighter named Casey took these photos.

I am so proud of my firefighter. He works so hard for our family. Lots of overtime this summer has kept him at the station for long periods of time. I am so thankful that the Lord has kept him safe all these years...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Canadian Trip Part 2

Here is the rest of my trip...

 Camille took us around a beautiful park in the middle of the city called Stanley Park. It would be the equivalent to Central Park for New Yorkers. The park had many features and was HUGE! Jackie and Jenn are taking pictures of the ocean. This is right after Jackie dropped her cell phone down a small cliff in the bushes. I had a hold of her while she fished it out. It was pretty scary, but then we laughed hard when she found it. Whew!

This was my favorite spot in the park. It was very tranquil here.

This was a little lighthouse.

The King's Cross bridge, I believe.

 The favorite activity for me was going to High Tea at the "White House". It was owned by a doctor in the 1800's. Very quaint!

 Camille, and Jenn getting ready to have High Tea...

 The presentation was beautiful, and the food was as amazing as it looked. Such different flavors and variety!

 It didn't look like a lot of food, but by the time you got to dessert you felt like you were ready to pop!

We ate in the carriage room where the good doctor stored his carriage. Very cool! I loved the ladder resting on the rafters.

Before we left Camille's we asked if we could see their son, Austin's grave. Austin died a few years back and was an integral part of their family. Camille was very honest in her grief and has used her pain to point people to the Lord and share her testimony over and over again. I have never met any couple so eternally-minded. The love Jesus so much and they can't wait to be reunited in Heaven with their son. The was the most well-tended grave I have ever seen. Thank you, Camille for sharing your hope with us.

 Here we are back in the States. Again, other than traffic, the border crossing was a cinch.

 There was this weird art right when you got into America. I think it was made out of metal. Fascinating!!!

One more parting shot of my other half! So thankful that we took this journey together. This was the longest sister trip we have ever been able to take. We are already making plans to go on another one to visit far away friends. It cost so much less when you have someone you can lodge with and can take you around to see the sights! Traveling really can be affordable! Then you can spend your money on delicious food and experiences.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us this gift and for bringing us back home refreshed so that we can pour into our families.

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