Dear 2011


Dear 2011. You seem to have come and gone so quickly. I feel as if we were just welcoming you in, wondering what you would have in store for us. You brought many things our way. Struggle, joy, trials, triumphs, excitement, exhaustion, but most of all.. growth. We met many milestones this year.. I turned 29 30. Our youngest learned to walk. We went from 2 in diapers to 1 {woohoo Coen}. Our oldest started kindergarten. Our church moved into their new facility. It was the first year I have not been either pregnant or with a newborn in 5 years! Many monumental moments for our family have taken place in 2011! This year I also lost my grandfather and gained a nephew. Jeremy and I celebrated 8 years of marriage. I embraced my love for photography, and this little blog Jane Mabel came into existence! I pray that I would glean good from it all as I reflect on the events that took place this past year..

Dear 2012. I look to you with the same, if not more, anticipation with which I received 2011. The only resolution I am making for this new year is to walk closer with the Lord. To listen even more intently to His voice, His call, so that I may see all that He has in store for me in 2012 and every year after...

Dear Readers. I pray that you would not look back at this year with any sense of loss, but that you would look ahead with hope in hand and trust in your heart, looking towards the One who holds it all!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

Brandy Jane Mabel



2012 is going to be epic!!

A bit of Christmas..


Just a few of the special moments...

Rest in the busy...


We had an insanely wonderful Christmas, and I am praying you all did too. Our days are still being filled with activity so if I am a little absent here this week don't worry, I will be back in full swing soon!

In all the business I want to be sure to stop and lay all distractions aside. To reflect on the past year. On God's goodness. I look back and see how His hand has led us and is leading us still. I want to tuck myself under His wing. Seek His presence, and find His rest..

Wishing you..


She is the one...

She is the most precious little girl in the world to me.
She is the one with a strong will and a bright spirit.
She is the one who wears her heart on her sleeve.
She is the one who loves to be heard.
She is the one who gives her all in everything she does.
She is the one who will always be my baby.

She is the one who has forever changed who I am and who I long to be.

Today she turns 5. 

Happy birthday Sienna Rae.

Letters and Justin Bieber?


Dear Husband. We have lots of work to do tonight. Wrapping gifts, writing cards. Lets make some hot chocolate and maybe watch a Christmas movie while we work. Sound good?
Dear Sienna. I can not believe you are turning 5 tomorrow. You are such a little lady, and you are so so special to me.
Dear Ashley.  Thanks for all of the Justin Bieber posters on our wall. Jeremy loves them ;)
Dear Readers. This is what happens when you excessively tease one of your friends about having Bieber fever {which she claims she does not}.
Dear Jesus. Thank you. There are no words to express my gratitude for your wonderful grace on my life.
Dear Readers. {you get 2 letters today} Praying you all have a wonderful Christmas.  Remember, Christ's birth has changed everything. We have received the greatest gift ever given!

Love, Brandy Jane Mabel


In a perfect world..


We decided not to put our Christmas tree up this year.

I have mentioned a few times this week that we had not yet found time to put out tree up. It seemed a daunting task that I just did not want to approach. Our tree is not pre-lit. Untangling the lights and trying to string them symmetrically (I'm OCD when it comes to symmetry) requires patience which I could not seem to conjure up in the ever-exhausted state which I've been functioning in lately. I did, however, long to see the enjoyment found by my kids to see it all lit up and decorated to their liking.

In a perfect world I would be the "Martha Stewart" type.  My house would be decorated top to bottom with strands of garland and glittering lights galore. My tree would be fit for magazines, expertly color coordinated. My children would be so well behaved that they would not tear off even one of the perfectly placed balls. The table would be filled with the most delicious homemade goodies, and there would be beautifully wrapped boxes filled with those goodies to hand out to all our friends and neighbors.

I do not live in a perfect world, however. Maybe one day I'll get there. Maybe I won't, and that is okay with me. Before you go thinking I am the most awful mom for not setting up our tree, we did come up with a compromise for this year that I think worked perfectly for our family. We placed the kid's small PRE-LIT trees all together in our living room. The kids still got to have a great time decorating. Houston had a great time throwing the balls around. Jeremy and I had a great time not arguing about bent limbs and uneven lights. Can you say win-win?? I guess this is our perfect!!

Love my GIANT arm!

Black & Golden


Ok.. making up for my enormously wordy post yesterday, today I am linking up with Wordless Wednesday over at Faith, Hope, and a Whole Lotta Love!

The Journey


A Christmas Story from young Mary's perspective. 
This was spoken at our ladies' Christmas Banquet. I did not write this, but Sue was kind enough to let me share it. It is lengthy, but so beautiful to be reminded...

Based upon:  Matthew 1:18-2:15, Luke 2:1-20

I am weary, bone weary.  This trip has taken more out of me than I thought it would.  I guess that being nine months pregnant will do that to a soul.  Perhaps it is time to crawl on the donkey again, but even that is not comfortable.  Nothing is comfortable.  If I get onto the donkeys back then Joseph will have to take the bags on his back again, and they are heavy.  He has been so patient with me, but he must be tired of travelling so slowly. 
My sandal strap broke miles back and has slapped my ankle with every step leaving behind a blister that is broken.  Every bone in my body aches, never have I been so tired. 
“How much further” I call to my husband. 
“Almost there” he replies.  “Maybe an hour or so.”
An hour seems like forever to me but I don’t say anything to him.  He has been so uncomplaining throughout this endless journey.
I remember being so distressed to learn that the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus had ordered everyone to return to the place of their ancestors to be counted for a census for taxations purposes.  It meant a five day journey to Bethlehem from Palestine, the home of Joseph’s kinsmen.   I had hoped that the baby would already be born, but the time came to leave and no baby yet.   So we packed for the journey with extra supplies for the birth.
Because of the decree, there were many travelers on the road.  Our custom is that the men and women travel separately.  However, Joseph was very protective of me, and during the day we often traveled together.
Before we left on our journey my mother took Joseph aside to explain what to do in case the baby was born along the way. How to catch the baby, cut the cord, wash and wrap him.   She has not always been so supportive, but she is excited about this grandchild. 
I remember when she first suspected that I was pregnant.   The anger and accusations towards me and Joseph cut me deeply.   I told her again and again that the baby belonged to God himself, but she did not believe me.     It took time and my marriage to Joseph for my Mother to accept the pregnancy.  Now she can hardly wait to hold her grandbaby.    She cried bitterly as Joseph and I started off towards Bethlehem, I know that she will worry greatly until we return. 
The sharp pains are continuing in my stomach, I have suspected for hours now that my labor has begun.  So far I have been able to keep it from Joseph but this time the pain is sharper and catches me by surprise.  I almost double over with the strength of the contraction.   Joseph notices and hurries to my side. 
“Is it time?” he asks.
I wait for the pain to subside before I answer.  Breathing slowly as my mother taught me.  “Yes, I think that it will be soon.”  I respond.
“Right now?”  He asks his face turning very white. 
“No,” I said “babies can take some time coming I think that we will make it to Bethlehem.”   Although I don’t really know how much time we have before the birth, I don’t want to worry Joseph any further.
 Joseph quickly starts to unload the donkey of its bags and says “You need to get back on the donkey so that we can get there sooner.”
I comply, and I crawl on its back once again.  I am sure that I am a comical sight as I half crawl and half roll onto the donkeys back with Joseph’s help.    Joseph grabs the bags and urges the donkey into a faster pace.   I am as anxious as is he to get to Bethlehem.  I don’t really want to have this child on the side of the road.
It seems like forever before we see buildings ahead and we know that we have come to the town.  My contractions have continued but are not all that close together yet so I know that we still have some time.  Every time my stomach tightens Joseph stopped the donkey and let me work through the pain.  I could see that my husband was getting more and more anxious with each contraction. 
We are very grateful when we finally see Bethlehem and immediately we went for a place to stay among Josephs kinsmen who lived there; but because so many people had returned to town every home was full.  We then went to the centre of town and stopped at the local inn.  Joseph asked for a room, but they were already occupied.    The keeper of the inn noticed me sitting on the donkey and had pity on us.
“I do have room in the stable out back if you like?”  He said.  
Joseph quickly replied “We’ll take it.” 
 At that time I felt the beginning of another pain rip through my abdomen.  They were getting much stronger.  Joseph thanked the innkeeper and hurried the donkey to the stable which had been carved out of the hillside.  He hastily helped me down from the back of the beast and sat me on one of the hay bales.  He began to unpack the saddlebags and clean spot on the ground for me. 
Another contraction seized my body.  I let out a groan and doubled over with the strength of the pain.  How I wished that my mother was here. 
Joseph laid out the blankets and eased me onto them.  He does not say much as he unpacks the bags and gets ready for the birth.  I know that he had hoped that we would be back in our own home when the baby came, but babies have a way of coming when they want to.
“I am going to go find a midwife.”  Joseph said.   
“Don’t go, the baby will be soon.”  I say.
The pains come faster and stronger.  Soon I am pushing and my screams are startling the animals in the barn, but I can’t stop them.  The pain is excruciating, I feel like I am being split in two. 
Joseph calls “I see the head Mary, push, push.”
I press will all my might and feel the baby pass from me.  I wait, and listen.  Finally I hear a loud cry, he is healthy and whole, I cry with joy.    Joseph brings him up so that I can see him, he is perfect this little son of God.   Joseph then takes him and cleans him, and brings him to me before he wraps him.  I count all the fingers and toes.   
Joseph continues to clean up and then comes to sit with by me.  He watches me nurse the child. 
“What shall we name him.” he asks.
“Jesus” I respond.
“Of course” he replied.  “He is the son of God.”
“Oh Joseph, I don’t feel worthy of this.”  I say.
“Mary, God choose you for this.”  he says.  “I will love him as my own and we will do this together.” 
I transfer Jesus into Josephs waiting arms and I can see the love for the child in his eyes. 
“Rest now Mary.”  He says as I drift off into sleep.  
Later I awoke to a clatter of noise.  It seemed that some shepherds from a nearby field wanted to see Jesus.  So Joseph very proudly showed them my son.   We listened to their amazing story of an angel who told them about him.  They were so excited to see and hold the baby and after their visit they went off to tell others about the birth of my son.   
I know that Jesus he came from a holy conception, and that there is a holy calling on him.  I feel such an enormous love for my child.  As I hold my precious child in my arms I can’t help but wonder at his future and what it holds.  I pray a silent prayer that I may be strong enough to raise this precious Son of God. 
Written by Sue Merta 


Christmas is coming quickly! Praying you all find some quiet time to reflect on what the Lord has done!

Holiday Bokeh Party




Here is my son.. He's pretty special!

Dear Santa..


Dear "Santa". Wow. That is pretty much all I can come up with to describe our experience with you yesterday. It was so kind of you to chat with someone on the phone for a whole 5 minutes while ten families with small well-behaved kicking and screaming children stood and waited {exhibit A}. Also, I thought a job requirement for becoming good ol' Santa was a measure of Jolly. I'm sorry to say that you were seriously lacking in this department. Your barely-there smirk made a quick appearance for the picture {exhibit B}, which I am grateful for, but that was about the only ounce of cheer you exhibited. I am thankful that my kids know you are not real anyways {sorry santa lovers}, so their expectations weren't very high to begin with. To be fair though, you did give them candy. That makes you a winner in any kids eyes!

{exhibit A}

{exhibit B}


Houston, we have a problem..


Where is the cheer?


I have been struggling to gain any type of "Christmas Spirit" this year. I'm just not feeling it. Not in the way that I am used to anyways. I have loved the opportunities and moments created by the activities of the season to teach my kids about giving and about the real reason we celebrate, but the traditional Christmas stuff has been a stretch for me. Our Christmas tree was put up in mid November the past few years. It is now mid December and we have yet to even try and make time to put it up! I totally skipped buying the chocolate advent calendars {which I just realized now}, and I haven't come up with one good thing to get for my husband {which is nothing new cause he's the hardest person in the world to buy for}. I'm hoping to get myself in holiday mode sometime this week. Any good holiday-feeling type things you can think of, send 'em my way, ok?

While I haven't come up with anything good to get my husband, I have dropped a few subtle hints as to what I would like this year. I'm all about the practical, baby..

Untitled #2

That's what I want. A curling iron, a tripod, and eye bag cream. Anti-aging eye cream is practical, right?


I did have a Christmasy time at our church Christmas banquet this past weekend.. It was beautiful and sparkly. I snapped a few pictures of these good friends, and I thought that they would love if I posted these here for all to see.. Love these crazy ladies!


Also, I came across this today. It may have moved my Christmas Cheer meter up a tad.. Happy Wednesday!

Glad to be his wife..

8 years ago today, I married this man.

We've been on adventures, walked though trials.
We have been broke and been blessed.

We have grown, we have fought.
Most importantly, we have forgiven.

All while falling more in love.
I'm so thankful he picked me.
I am so thankful God picked US, together.
Marriage is beautiful.


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