Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken

Lemon and Herb Chicken Roast Chicken at HouseofHills.org

It’s snowing here at the House of Hills. Yes, I said snowing. In Georgia. An anomaly to be sure. When it snows, I cook hearty meals. Last night was Chocolate Chili, and tonight I made Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken. When I posted a picture, I got immediate requests for the recipe. So, here you go!

To be honest, I jumped off a recipe for Roast Chicken from Tastes Better From Scratch. However, I had to tweak it to make it Low FODMAP for Maggie. That meant eliminating the butter and onion. Onion is a hard one to eliminate because there is so much flavor there. So, I had to think about how to bring the flavor. This is where I landed.

I layered the bottom of the pan with celery and carrots that had been in my freezer. I pulled them out a couple hours before prep time so they could thaw. I throw all my carrots, celery and peppers left over from veggie trays into freezer bags and toss them in the freezer. I read that on the Internet somewhere. The idea is to then use them to make broths and such because you’re not going to eat them so it doesn’t matter if they’re mushy. I knew we weren’t going to eat the celery and carrots, so I figured using the frozen was okay.

Then, I sliced a whole lemon into rings and laid those on top of the veggies. I love lemon rings don’t you? They’re so pretty and remind me of summer.

After that, I filled the cavity with another lemon I’d quartered and full sprigs of herbs. (I used rosemary and thyme.) And, I didn’t do that gently. I like just shoved whole sprigs in there with the lemon. Poor chicken.

Finally, I rubbed the chicken with melted ghee combined with chopped herbs and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. Oh, and I threw a few more sprigs of herbs and some parsley around the chicken in the pot. Ghee is this really expensive stuff that I’ve never bought before. I bought for Mags at Sprouts because I wanted to make sure I had the flavor of butter without any lactose or chemicals. This is the first time I’ve used it, and it appeared to be happiness all around. No tummy aches and a delicious flavor.

Then, I baked for about an hour and twenty minutes at 425. You want to bake until juices run clear and it has a nice brown, crispy skin.

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IT WAS DELICIOUS and a hit with Maggie, which is a huge thing.

This is what the pot looked like after I pulled everything out of the chicken.

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I ended up putting all of that in the trash. But, the chicken that was in that pot. That, we devoured. There wasn’t that much left!

Here are your step by step instructions for Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken.

Ingredients:
1 Whole Chicken (3.5 to 4.5 pounds)
Celery and carrots for flavor (can be frozen)
2 Lemons
Several sprigs of fresh Rosemary
Several sprigs of fresh Thyme
Fresh Parsley
1-2 Tablespoons Ghee/Clarified Butter (Or butter)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Rinse the chicken and remove the innards. Pat dry.
3. Remove the leaves from one sprig of rosemary and one sprig of thyme. Chop them up as fine as possible.
4. Melt ghee/butter and mix in the chopped rosemary and thyme.
5. Slice one lemon into rings and quarter the other.
6. Line the bottom of your baker with celery and carrots. (Spray first if needed in your type of pan.) Layer the rings of lemon on top of that.
7. Place your dry chicken on top of the lemon, celery and carrot. The breast side of the chicken should be up.
8. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the quartered lemon, rosemary and thyme sprigs and a small amount of fresh parsley.
9. Rub the outside of the chicken with the ghee/butter and herb mixture. Get some under the skin if possible.
10. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
11. Place additional sprigs of rosemary and thyme as well as parsley around the chicken.
12. Roast uncovered in oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until skin is golden brown and juices run clear. Allow chicken to rest 10-20 minutes before slicing.

Y’all this was so tasty and was great on a salad.

Enjoy!

Posted in Low FODMAP, Recipe | 1 Comment

It’s Been FOUR Years

It’s February 15th. For many, that means it’s time to run to the store to get all the Valentine’s Day merchandise for half-price (and I will be hitting Target later today).

However, for me and many of my closest friends, it’s a day to stop and reflect. I time to mourn. I time to remember an amazing lady, my Katie.

ItsBeenFOURYears_01 Four years ago my Katie breathed her last breath. Four years ago two awesome kids lost their mama and a wonderful friend lost his true love. Four years ago the world lost an absolutely amazing woman of God.

But, what I’ve come to realize is that we didn’t really lose her. She’s not really gone. Oh yes, her physical being is no longer here. But, her spirit… her spirit is alive and strong. The relationships God used her to orchestrate are stronger than ever, and they do MIGHTY things for His Kingdom.

That picture above wasn’t taken when Katie passed. It was taken just two months ago when we got together to celebrate Katie’s birthday. The Sisters were brought together by the one and only Katie. Our friendship formed in the wake of her death. She knew we needed each other and that her family needed us, and she worked to make that happen.

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I was reading the Eulogy I wrote for Katie’s service like I do every year on this day, and a few things I wrote popped out at me.

God did something very special in that small group. He was already planning for today.

She made sure that you [Scott and kids] were surrounded by people who love you very much. She wanted to make sure that you always had plenty of hugs and plenty of love. I think she did a pretty good job of that don’t you.

God knew when I met Katie that her life was going to be cut short by the evil that is cancer. He knew, and He orchestrated relationships and circumstances so that she would be taken care of during her illness and her family would be loved after she was gone. As I look back on it today, I am in awe of it all.

And, I am thankful. I am so very thankful that God was able to take something horrible and make something wonderful. I’m so very thankful that from the devastating loss we experienced together a stronger faith and community was formed. And, I’m so thankful that these kids get to grow up together knowing how much Katie loved each of them.

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Posted in Faith | 1 Comment

Why #HOHGetsFit

HOHGetsFit

If you follow me on Instagram (@kathill29), Twitter (@kathill) or are my personal Facebook friend, you’ve seen the hashtag #HOHGetsFit over and over again. You may be wondering “Why #HOHGetsFit now?

Well, God orchestrated an interesting combination of events… a perfect storm if you will. 

About mid-January, I was gearing up for the annual “I can’t believe my Katie’s gone” pity party.

For those that don’t know my sweet Katie went to dance with Jesus on February 15, 2011. Her birthday is the day after Christmas, and that day marks the beginning of the countdown to the anniversary of her passing. By mid-January, I’m usually entering my “funk phase” where I’m thinking and mourning. And, with that phase comes some serious digestion of chocolate and all forms of comfort food.

Anyway, this mid-January something happened that stopped the annual food fest. My daughter came home from school and wanted to go to the new gym that’s been built across from our neighborhood. Apparently, it’s where “everyone” goes. So, after making a few phone calls to friends who had coupons, we were all of the sudden members of a gym. And, I was paying money. If I was paying money, I was going to use the facilities. 

Then, I got on the scale and actually thought about the number I saw. It made me sad.
You see, it’s MUCH higher than the number that it was before Katie passed. MUCH. 

This is me in the fall of 2010.

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And this is me this January.

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Obviously, a bit fuller (ahem) in the face and other areas.

I did a little math (with the help of the My Fitness Pal App), and realized that I’ve steadily gained weight around the anniversary of Katie’s death. I mean, that’s not surprising right. Since I was eating ALL the time during this season, it kinda made sense that I would gain weight then.

This crazy realization along with the fact that I’d just joined a gym and my daughter wanted to workout with me was the catalyst for #HOHGetsFit. I snapped this picture one of our first days working out and gave it the hashtag #HOHGetsFit.

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I put several more pictures on Instagram over the next few days with this hashtag, and discovered something awesome. I have a lot of friends out there that want to see me succeed, that love me, and that are willing to take time out of their day to tell me “good job.” I kinda love that.

You know what else I loved? I loved that by hashtagging my workout every day I felt more accountable to get it done.

So, the hashtag #HOHGetsFit will continue on. Hopefully, I’ll use it every day – either in reference to a workout or a healthy meal.

Oh, and this year instead of gaining wait in the days leading up to February 15th, I’ve actually lost weight. Eight pounds to be exact. I’ve got a long way to go, but it’s going to be a fun journey.

You can come along. Just follow #HOHGetsFit

Posted in HOHGetsFit | 9 Comments

The HOH Valentine’s Day Box

The HOH Valentine's Day Box - HouseofHills.org

As I watch my Facebook feed tonight, I see exhausted moms perfecting their children’s Valentine’s Day boxes and cursing Pinterest for its cuteness factor and for raising the bar on moms everywhere.

And, I’m so very thankful!

You see, I was an elementary mom before Pinterest, and kids didn’t know you were supposed to have adorable Valentine’s Boxes that were themed to something you liked and that were actually sculptures made out of a shoebox and cardstock and sometimes other things that I’m so impressed these moms even find!

This was Maggie’s Valentine’s Box. 

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We made it when she was in the three-year-old preschool class. 

She used it until she was in the third grade. 

Once she hit fourth grade, her teachers had gotten smart and they just had them decorate paper bags to collect Valentines. There wasn’t room in their classrooms for thirty adorable, yet space sucking boxes.

Ya, Mags and I, we got one of Daddy’s shoeboxes and cut a hole in the top. Then, we wrapped the whole thing very tightly with white tissue.

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Then, Maggie herself added foam shapes. She put her unique stamp on this box. There is no other one like it in the world. Not even on Pinterest. This is a total Maggie original.

We saved this box after the first year and then just pulled it out to take to school the following years. She decorated it a little bit more each time she pulled it out, apparently adding some stickers she found around the house.

It was the sturdiest box in Valentine’s history. It’s still going strong and is safely put away in the memory box. (At least I think it is. It might not have made the move.)

When we were packing to move, I opened the box because I heard something rattling around in there. It was ALL the Valentine’s from her last collection. STILL IN THE BOX!!

Obviously, the actual cards were VERY important to her. Ha!

So mamas, if you’re still fretting tonight…looking for that perfect Valentine’s Box on Pinterest…

Take a deep breath.
Go get an old shoebox and some tissue paper.
Create an awesome Valentine’s box that is an empty canvas for your child’s creativity.
Wake your child five minutes early tomorrow and hand him some markers and stickers if you have them.

In five minutes, your kid will have the most awesome and unique Valentine’s Box ever to take to school.

 

Posted in Parenting | Leave a comment

Dear Disney Cruise Line – THANK YOU

Dear Disney Cruise Line,

This is just a letter to say thank you. Just, thank you for being you. We recently returned from our trip on the Dream (left Cape Canaveral on January 2, 2015), and I’ve spent the days since our return singing your praises.

Oh, I knew we were going to have fun, eat well and have great service. This was our fifth cruise after all. But this was our first cruise since Maggie (our 12-year-old) was diagnosed with IBS.

This was our first cruise with her on a low FODMAP diet. And, I was nervous.

I have plenty of friends who have sailed gluten free. I wasn’t worried about the gluten. But low FODMAP isn’t just no gluten. It’s no dairy. No soy. No onion. No garlic. No high fructose corn syrup. No apple. No… and the list just keeps going.

I shouldn’t have been nervous. Disney Cruise Line was amazing.

When we got on the ship, we went to the sit down lunch in Enchanted Garden rather than the regular buffet up in Cabanas. We knew that by doing so we would have an actual server, and that he would be able to help us withe allergies. No sooner did we say allergies than the head server was whisked over to our table ready to assist us. He walked through the Enchanted Garden buffet with us and then asked what Maggie wanted to eat. Pretty much everything on the buffet scared her so she asked for what she knew would be okay. She asked for beef and got a steak. Win!

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(Side note: We learned after this meal not to eat the fries. They are flash fried in soybean oil before being frozen. Soybean oil is a big no-no on low FODMAP. This is true of ALL fries in any Disney location from what we can tell.)

Then, as we were eating, Selo, the head server, came back over to our table to see what he could do to make sure she was set for the cruise. This man spent at least ten to twenty minutes with us trying to understand all that she had trouble digesting. He took a copy of the list I had brought with us (I brought MULTIPLE copies just in case) and studied it closely. He took a picture of the list so he could attach it to an email to send to the other head servers. He brought over another head server (Robert – thank you Robert for checking on us multiple times during the cruise) that would be in the same restaurant we were scheduled to be in that first night. By the time Selo left our table, I was literally in tears. It was going to be okay. She was going to be able to eat and have fun.

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The smartest thing Selo did was pre-order Maggie’s dinner for that night. He wrote it down on his pink slip, (You get to know the pink slips well when there are allergies.) and promised to turn it in for us. In fact, he gave it to Robert since he was going to be in our restaurant that night.

When we got to dinner, there was a little bit of confusion because our server didn’t know we had pre-ordered. However, once we told him Robert had the pre-order, all was fabulous and her food was on the way. (Note to future cruisers: It’s very important to know who you told what to. They will go find that person and get it taken care of, but you need to remember their names.)

This is what Maggie pre-ordered:

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And that is what she ate EVERY night of the cruise. EVERY night. Not an eye was blinked when she asked for filet mignon every night. Filet mignon… EVERY NIGHT. Would they have made her something different within her boundaries? ABSOLUTELY. However, she loves steak (raw by the way – yuck) so why not eat it while you can get it.

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With their little pink slips, our amazing servers, Frank and Nova, and our head server, Szilard, took AWESOME care of us. Because of these amazing people, I did not hear, “Mom, my tummy hurts,” one time. Well, that’s not entirely true. The first day, she at too much. That’s a different kind of hurt, and she knew the difference.

Here are our awesome servers Frank and Nova:

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And this is the only picture of Szilard I have! How is that?

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Oh, the reason I had a picture of his name tag? Because that first night when we were deciding where we would eat the next day, he told me to go to wherever he was, and he would make sure I was taken care of. He was going to be in Cabanas (Deck 11 – buffet) all day the next day, so that is where I went to get Maggie’s food. And, I needed to remember how to say his name. So, I took a picture of his name tag. Smart thinking right?

Let me tell you something about Szilard. This man is amazing at what he does. We watched him orchestrate all kinds of awesomeness around the dining rooms. He seemed to be everywhere. But, when he was talking to your table, you felt like he was only thinking about you and your needs. And, he was all about meeting those needs. Even when you decided you needed three hard boiled eggs during crazy lunchtime so your daughter could have a snack for later.

So, thank you Selo, Robert, Szilard, Frank and Nova for making our Disney cruise even more magical. Because of you, this mama didn’t have to worry about what her child was going to eat, and that made all of us enjoy our trip even more. In fact, because they were so diligent on the Dream, Maggie’s tummy feels better than it has in over a year.

Thank you Disney Cruise Line.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

We can’t wait to take this picture again. (Already booked for 2016!)

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Posted in Disney, Low FODMAP | Leave a comment

Christmas Letter 2014

 

Merry Christmas from the HOH

I sit here on Christmas Eve and try to sum up our year in one post. This post is taking the place of the Christmas letter that I have dutifully sent out (sometimes late) every Christmas for the last fifteen? years. I LOVE getting Christmas letters, but I have had to let some things go, and Christmas cards and letters are one of them.

Instead, I’m doing a digital Christmas card!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

We began 2014 celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary. The actual day is December 12th, but there is never any time to celebrate our anniversary during the Christmas crazy, so we decided to do it big in January. David and I went on a three night Disney cruise (on the Magic) ALL BY OURSELVES. We missed the girl for like five minutes, but had an amazing time just hanging out with each other and eating really good food.

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The end of January brought crazy snow to the ATL (twice!). I’m sure you heard about it on the news even if you’re not in town. We were thankful that David got home safely on the day the city shut down. His fifteen minute drive became three hours, but that was nothing compared to what friends experienced. We had a nice, warm house and plenty of food. There were even opportunities for fun sledding and snowman building.

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February brought Maggie’s big Off Broadway Kids show where she played the god of water, Agwe, in “Once on This Island, Jr.” It was her hardest role to this point, and we were so proud of how hard she worked. It was her first solo, and her first opportunity to take curtain call all by herself. These are big steps in the musical theater world. The troupe took a twenty minute portion of the show to the National Performing Arts Competition at Disney and WON!!!! (You can watch the twenty minute performance HERE and HERE.) Not only did the troupe win, but Maggie, along with her fellow gods, won individual awards for their performances. Because the troupe won the competition, they were able to perform on the stage at Downtown Disney. (You can see her solo HERE.) Such an honor!

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Disney Stage

Spring found us facing our biggest change of the year. David’s job transitioned to one that doesn’t have a role on Sundays meaning he now works Monday through Friday and is free to go to church with us on Sunday. Mother’s Day was the first day we went to church together as a family in over a year! It was a happy day indeed.

HOH Mothers Day

You can now find David’s work online presence on Facebook and Twitter. And, be looking for some exciting new web developments in the future. In addition, he continues to play an important role in the campus bookstores and during conferences held at North Point Ministries.

Kathy continues to work for Orange, and helped host over 5,000 ministry leaders at the annual Orange Conference this year. There are now over 3,000 churches using the First Look curriculum she helps produce. It’s amazing to see what God is doing around the world through the work Orange does.

Orange

Maggie did several jobs for Orange this year. She is on the new preschool Dance Moves DVD. (That was a CRAZY shoot.) And, she continues to be one of the Bible Story DVD Clubhouse Kids. (You can get an app that has these Bible Story videos for each week of the year.) She has a blast teaching preschoolers how much God loves them.

Dance CVD

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Maggie is not only in chorus classes at school, but in the Chamber Choir as well. She auditioned in the fall of her sixth grade year and was one of a handful of six-graders invited to participate. This spring, they competed and blew away the competition with a score of 99, which is CRAZY good. They had a great time on the trip and brought home a huge trophy.

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Maggie is truly blessed with a fabulous chorus director who pushes them to do new and harder things each quarter. Their spring concert blew us away. Mags even had a solo that you can listen to HERE.

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And, just like that, the sixth grade year was over. Here’s the obligatory last day of school pic.

Last Day of 6th

The summer months brought lots of fun.

There was Woodlands Camp. This was her fourth year attending with her friend Olivia D. This year, Olivia M. came too. These are truly life long friends as all the mommies were pregnant together!

Woodlands

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Maggie and Kathy went up to Camp Kidjam in North Carolina this year. This camp is organized by Orange, and is truly AMAZING. Mags loves hanging out with the interns and Ms. Colette usually lets her get on stage at some point. She also loves hanging out with Mr. O’Brien, who is even crazier than her daddy.

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There was a trip to Edisto Island to visit Grandpa and Grandma Dot and hang out with the cousins from the Hill side.

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Then, later in the summer, we celebrated all three of their birthdays together with Nana.

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Maggie did a summer camp where she played a MOSTLY HYSTERICAL Captain Hook in “Peter Pan, Jr.” You seriously need to go watch one of her songs HERE. I mean, her comedic timing, awesome. So much fun.

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She also did a drama camp at CUE52, where she was one of three girls to play Elle. This was a really fun production that they pulled off in just a week. You can see her monologues HERE and HERE.

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The biggest fun this summer was had at the Nestleroth (Kathy’s mom’s side) family reunion over the Fourth of July. It was great to have all the Wileberger cousins in town as well as family from all over the country. Maggie really helped with the food preparation this year and has now learned family recipes including deviled eggs and brownies.

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The reunion was the first opportunity I had to use my NEW CAMERA too. LOVE IT!!

Speaking of cameras, Maggie had her first set of head shots done this summer. We’ve not signed up with an agent yet, but we’re thinking about it. And, we’re ready!

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We finished off the summer with a trip to Lake Lanier Islands with the Wileberger cousins. Such a great day!

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Finally, it was time to go back to school. Mags started SEVENTH GRADE! How is that even possible?

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She celebrated her 12th birthday with theater friends at home and then her cousins at their pool. Hard to believe, but next year’s Christmas pictures will have a teenager in them!

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Off Broadway Kids started up again in August, and Maggie was cast as Jojo in “Seussical, Jr.” They’ve been working VERY HARD on the production and will perform at the Off Broadway Theater the last weekend in January and the first weekend in February. If you’re local, you’re going to want to get tickets. They’ll then take this production to competition at the end of February.

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This amazing group of kids not only accomplish much on the stage, but they banded together twice to serve others this fall. A large group of them walked in the Walk to Defeat ALS. Then, in November, they packed 25 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

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In fact, the HOH packed EIGHTY-EIGHT shoeboxes this year for Operation Christmas Child for Kathy’s Birthday. It’s one of our favorite traditions of the year.

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In October, the HOH headed to their favorite place on earth to celebrate Halloween. This was our first time going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Maggie dressed as Smee and they had a special moment during the parade.

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Maggie was very creative this year and made one-of-a-kind Mickey ears to wear with her outfits.

IMG_6320 EPCOT_ECENTR2_7071431990MK_BELLEVILLAGEBRIDGEICONNC_7073641812We had an awesome time like we always do and, of course, can’t wait to go back. In fact, we’re heading out on the Disney Dream cruise ship very, very soon.

Maggie and Kathy continue to serve in the preschool area at Browns Bridge Church. Kathy is a “coach” over two rooms, and Maggie leads preschool worship. There is nothing like leading 100 preschoolers in singing songs about Jesus. So much fun.

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Finally, the most exciting thing that happened this December is that Maggie was asked to help with the Christmas Opener at North Point Community Church. Now, NPCC Christmas Openers are a thing of legend in the church world so this was a HUGE HONOR. We spent this past weekend hanging out in the greenroom (which isn’t green by the way) at North Point while she performed in six services that were seen at the main campus and online. She brought tears to our eyes multiple times with her performances, and we truly couldn’t be prouder of how she is using the gifts God gave her to glorify Him. You can watch her performance (and the rest of the awesome opener) HERE.

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That brings us to this day—the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We couldn’t be more thankful for the blessings we’ve had this year and the friends and family we get to celebrate with in this season. We pray that you and your have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

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Posted in Family | 1 Comment

31 Days of OCC: Packing Party

Everybody likes a party – right!? Well, almost everybody. Extroverts like a party. And, we’ve got TWO of those living in the House of Hills. So, several years ago we decided that we’d celebrate my birthday with a party—an Operation Christmas Child packing party!! We even had birthday cupcakes supplied by My Katie.

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Now, we’ve got the packing party down to a science here at the HOH. In fact, I did a whole Top Ten Tuesday blog post on having an Operation Christmas Child packing party. Make sure you click over to see the details.

The important things are these:

  1. Decide who is supplying the box contents. Is it you, your guests or a combination?
  2. Have a festive environment so that everyone has a good time.
  3. Be sure to collect the shipping money.
  4. Pray over the boxes.
  5. Know where you’re going to take the boxes once they’re packed.

That’s the basics. Then, it comes down to the details. I typically collect items throughout the year and then ask my guests to bring more age specific items to complete the boxes. Before the party, we line the hall with every container we can find in the house and sort all the crazy stuff I’ve collected throughout the year.

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When my guests arrive, they take a box (I order mine from OCC, but you can use shoeboxes too.) and start filling it with what I have in the hall. Then, they finish it off with the items they brought with them. Finally, they print a shipping label through the OCC website (we have a computer and printer) set up in the living room and attach it to the box. They all end up in the back of my van and get taken to my church, which is a drop off location.

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I love the site of my van filling up with boxes. It makes me happy every year.

Now, don’t think your packing party has to be a big, huge one like mine. I kinda like to do parties up, and now it’s become a tradition that people calendar months in advance. (Seriously, my friend Angela asked me in July when this year’s is so she could get it on her calendar.)

Your packing party can be just your family or yours and the one that lives next door. Or, maybe you are in a small group through church, and you want to get those families together to pack boxes. Or, your Bunko group might want to pack boxes before the next Bunko night. Oh, what about that playgroup that meets once a month—maybe they’d like to pack boxes. It could even be those friends from high school that you’ve been meaning to get in touch with, but needed a purpose to call them.

Whatever group you pull together, be it large or small, remember that what you’re doing will impact someone’s life forever. That’s why it’s important to pray over the box. That box that you pack at the party will end up in a child’s hands halfway across the world. They will open it and know you care and that there is a God who loves them.

So, who are you inviting over? When’s the party?

Have you been following along with the Write31Days series. Be sure to check out what other bloggers are writing about.

Posted in 31 Days, Christmas, Faith, Family, Serve | Leave a comment

31 Days of OCC: Why OCC?

31DaysOCCatHOH_HouseofHills.orgSometime in the last few years, I’ve become known in my circle of friends as “the lady who does OCC parties.” A question arises about OCC, and people say, “Ask Kathy, she’ll know.” The closer we get to collection week, the more tweets and texts I get with people asking me questions, “Can this go in the box?”

You wanna know a secret? I kinda love it.
I’ll answer any and all questions, and if I don’t know the answer I’ll find out.
I’m that passionate about it.

What started out as something that was fun to do around Christmas turned into a full blown, year-round endeavor in 2010. That was the year I decided that for my birthday I wanted to have an Operation Christmas Child party. So, I posted it on the blog and asked friends and family to give me box packing supplies instead of gifts. And, I invited anyone and everyone to participate.

We had a GREAT time that first year so we’ve done it every year since!!!!

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But, why OCC? Why shoeboxes?

That answer’s easy. My love languages are acts of service and gifts. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to give gifts. Ask my friends. When somebody says they like a particular candy, I write it down to make sure they get it soon. When it’s a special occasion, I like to mark it with a gift. Actually, my favorite gifts to give are “just because I love you gifts.” Those are awesome.

So, what better way to show someone half-way around the world that God loves them than by giving them a gift. A shoebox is a tangible way of saying, “I may not know you personally, but God does. And, He cares about you.”

A shoebox is something those children can hold and treasure and share and love. Each item in a shoebox communicates God’s love to these precious children. Toothbrushes and toothpaste show that He cares about their physical being. A plush friend shows His love through snuggles and cuddles. Toys show that He cares about joy and fun.

Then, there is that one item that He puts in each box that He’s picked out just for them. I’ve heard story after story of children who opened their shoebox and found just what THEY needed. Maybe it’s hair clips for a little girl who’s never had her own. Maybe it’s a new shirt arriving just as the one the little boy’s wearing is too small. Maybe it’s a needed pair of shoes or a sewing kit or a hammer and nails. Whatever it is, that one thing speaks into that child’s life, and God whispers, “I know  you. I love you.” 

It’s the stories of those whispers that bring me to my knees in gratitude and awe. My heavenly Father loves me as much as He loves these little people a world away. And, I know how much He loves them as I’ve watched Him orchestrate hundreds of thousands of people to bring them joy in the form of a shoebox.

That’s why OCC.
That’s why I pack shoeboxes EVERY year.
That’s why I’ll do it until I can’t do it any more.

I pack shoeboxes to give the gift of God’s love.

Won’t you join me this year?

 

Posted in 31 Days, Christmas, Family, Serve | 2 Comments

31 Days of OCC: The HOH Loves OCC

For the last four years on the second (or third) Sunday of November, the trunk of my van has looked something like this.

31DaysofOCC_HouseofHills.org

Isn’t that AWESOME!?!?!

The HOH loves OCC (Operation Christmas Child), and we’ve ushered in the holiday season (and celebrated my birthday) with a huge party right before collection week since 2010.

In 2010, we packed 89 boxes.
In 2011, we packed 110 boxes.
In 2012, we packed 75 boxes.
In 2013, we packed 50 boxes.

Like I said, the HOH loves OCC, and I want to share that love with you, my Internet friends. I’ll be talking about OCC here on the blog for the next 31 days. We’ll talk about the history of OCC, how to pack a box, what to put in a box, how to get a box where it needs to go and so much more.

So, get ready to pack some boxes friends, because by the time the month is done, you’ll know exactly what to do… just in time for National Collection Week! This year, National Collection Week is November 17 -24, and I’ll be hosting my annual party on November 15th. I can’t wait to share all the fun with you!

So come back every day in October to see the newest 31 Days post. I’ll be linking up to #Write31Days along thousands of other bloggers. It’s going to be an awesome month.

31DaysOCCatHOH_HouseofHills.org

Posted in 31 Days, Christmas, Serve | 1 Comment

Parent CUE App

Friends! I realized I’ve never shared this AMAZING resource with you!

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It’s the Parent CUE App that my company, Orange, created a few years ago.

There is a section for preschoolers and a section for elementary. When you purchase the app, you get access to both sides!!! Awesome right!?!

There is a weekly video Bible lesson and then activities to do with your kids several times during the week that correspond with that lesson. There’s also support resources for parents. The App is designed to supplement churches that use the Orange curriculum, but anyone can use it.

My favorite part is the videos. They are so well made and perfect for when you just need to distract the little people for a minute at the doctor’s office and also for when you want to sit as a family and watch them together. I mean, if they’re going to watch a video while getting a haircut, even better if it’s a Bible story – right? Oh, and the preschool videos…. every few months there is a cute blonde girl named Maggie that shows up.

House of Hills

She’s my favorite.

If you’ve never looked at the Parent CUE App, you should check it out. It’s a good one.

Disclaimer: I work for Orange, but get no additional benefit from selling the App. I just think it’s great.

Posted in Faith, Family | Leave a comment