Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas From the Brittons!

Our first annual Christmas letter:

Dear Family and Friends,

The Christmas tree shimmers in the foreground, the delightful scent of a cinnamon candle wafts through the air, and soft carols play in the background as I sit down to write you this letter.  Growing up, one of my favorite aspects of the holiday season was receiving so much mail from friends and loved ones around the country, especially when their card included a letter full of the year’s news from their family!  When Nathan entered my life, one of the ways his mom helped me get to know their family better was to send me a packet containing a collection of all their Christmas newsletters from the past twenty years.  It was so much fun to see their family’s history unfold in year after year of letters!  And so it is that this letter comes to you; the first of many, we hope, as we would love to tell you what God has been doing in our lives this last year as well as begin documenting the history of our new little family.

What a whirlwind of a year it has been!  Here’s just a quick overview:
January - we met, February - we were engaged, May - we were married, June - we learned that we were expecting our first child, August - we moved to a new state and ministry, August through October - we fixed up our first home, and currently, we are making preparations toward the arrival of our baby in February.  How’s that for a year of change and adventure?!?!  I can’t help but chuckle as I reflect back to where I was last Christmas working in an orphanage in Bolivia, South America and wondering what the new year would hold.  Never in my wildest imaginations could I have dreamed up a story like the one God has written for us in 2012!  Through it all, He has been so faithful to lead us, provide for us, and strengthen us for each new experience.

We love our new home here in the quaint town of Taos, New Mexico, where Nathan is the pastor of First Baptist Church.  Living in a small town surrounded by beautiful mountains is quite the refreshing change after big city life!  At the same time, we have found Taos to be very much the mission field right here in America.  Out of 5,000 plus residents who make their permanent home here, only about 5% of the population would identify themselves as evangelical Christian.  That leaves a lot of people in need of the truth of the Gospel!  When we first arrived, the church had been without a pastor for over seven months and was nearly to the point of having to close their doors.  Attendance had dropped to about 15-20 people on most Sundays.  Since that time, growth has been slow but steady, with anywhere from 30 to 50 people in church on Sunday mornings, depending on the time of year and how many tourists are visiting.  Nathan is doing a wonderful job preaching and teaching the Word of God, and we have been working diligently to build relationships within the community as we are able.  It is a slow process here, but we are making progress!  Our main prayer for the ministry right now is that the Lord will draw to our church family those whom He knows need to be here, and that He will allow us to cross paths with people who are genuinely hungry for Truth.

In addition to pastoring, Nathan has also been serving as the volunteer coach for boys’ basketball at Taos Christian Academy, a small school in town.  He only has seven players, but what they lack in number, they make up for in desire to win!  So far, the Crusaders are 4-1 here at the beginning of their competitive season!  Nathan has done a great job helping them get in shape and learn the game of basketball.  He is enjoying not only the outlet for active exercise that coaching has provided him, but also the opportunity to invest in the lives of these young men and their families.

On the home front, my days are full of keeping house, cooking for a husband who likes to eat, extending hospitality, teaching a piano student, participating in the church’s music ministry, making house calls with Nathan, and growing a baby.  Being a wife and soon-to-be mother has proven to be so fulfilling, and I am loving this new season of life in which God has allowed me to be!  We are very grateful to report that everything is going well with the baby’s development.  If his activity in the womb is any indication, he is going to be one active little boy!  (And yes, it IS a boy, for those who haven’t yet heard!)  His arrival at the end of February draws closer and closer, and we are so excited to meet this special gift God has given us!

As we close this letter, it is our hope that the Christmas season will be a blessed time for you and your family of remembering the ultimate Gift God provided for all mankind: His Son, Jesus Christ!  He truly is “Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)  And He is coming again!  Not as the baby of Bethlehem, but as the King and Judge of all the earth.  What a wonderful truth and great cause for celebration for all those who have been saved by His grace through faith!

Merry Christmas with Love!
Nathan, Katrina, and Baby Britton

Monday, December 24, 2012

Homemade Christmas Gifts

Instead of the usual bean soup in a jar, Nathan and I decided to make something a little more unique to  give away as Christmas gifts.

Behold: S'mores In a Jar!
They turned out so cute and delicious!

24 jars ready to go.


1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
1 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup brown sugar
(Teddy Grahams are optional if you want the cute factor!)
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

Layer ingredients in a 1-quart mason jar.

Attach a tag that reads:

1. Combine jar contents with 1/2 cup melted butter and 1 tsp. vanilla.
2.  Press mixture into 8 or 9 inch square baking dish.  Place marshmallows on top.
3.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
4.  Let cool completely and refrigerate before cutting.
Makes 12 yummy bars.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ladies' Christmas Luncheon

This past Saturday, six women from church came to my home for a Ladies' Christmas Luncheon.  It was the first of such events I have hosted since we moved here to Taos.

We ate and fellowshipped over lunch...

...which included a delicious "red velvet cheesecake" prepared by one of the ladies!

We played a white elephant gift exchange.

And we made beaded bracelets.

A fun time was had by all!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Walking In a Winter Wonderland

This is what our world looked like yesterday afternoon as we received our first real snow of the season!

And this is what we woke up to this morning!

I took a little walk to buy a newspaper this morning, so I decided to snap a few pictures along the way of our glorious winter wonderland!

Beautiful, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Little Christmas Music

Enjoy this most beautiful rendition of one of my favorite Christmas songs!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Decorating for Christmas

Last week, a couple from our church offered to take Nathan and me to their property near Black Lake in order to pick out a Christmas tree.  Not only did we find one for our house, but also for the church (pictured above) and for another family.

A truckload of trees.

John cuts down the biggest one for the sanctuary.

Meanwhile, I tried to capture the beauty of the countryside we were surrounded by, but my camera just couldn't do it justice.


A Christmas tree in all is natural, rustic beauty.

In order to load this tree in, Nathan and Justin had to unload all the other trees first...

...and then heave it into the bed.

All aboard and ready for the long drive home.

The next evening, Nathan and I went shopping for Christmas decorations.

This being our first Christmas as a married couple, we didn't own any decorations except for a box for each of us containing ornaments collected throughout our growing up years.  It was fun to go shopping together!

As it turned out, our Christmas tree was just a tad too tall, so Nathan had to do some trimming at the top!

In the meanwhile, I put together a wreath for the door.

Then, with Christmas music playing, a cinnamon candle filling the room with a delightful smell, and the fireplace crackling in the background, we decorated the tree.


Nathan spruced up our little palm tree with some lights, too!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

May this season and all it contains bring much JOY to you and your family!

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Visit from the Jamesons

Last week, Nathan and I greatly enjoyed a holiday visit from our good friends, the Jamesons!  They came all the way up from Houston for the week to see us and help in the ministry.  We had a fun time together and were blessed by their presence in so many ways!

(All photos taken by the Jamesons during their stay.)

Spaghetti dinner together following their arrival on Monday afternoon.

After dinner, Nathan decided to whip up a batch of peanut butter fudge.

He had quite the excited audience!

Tuesday was our work day.  The older children, together with their dad and Nathan, painted the two church offices - including the ceiling!

Sarah Jane also did some trim painting in the hallway of the fellowship hall.

Meanwhile, Josiah, Jonathan, and Jeremiah took turns helping me in the kitchen as we baked yummy treats for Thanksgiving goody bags to deliver to neighbors and friends.  They were great chefs!

Jane helped the littlest ones decorate the bags with handprint turkeys.

Judah taking a break to play outside.

Jeremiah and Jubilee enjoying the beautiful, crisp weather!

Joy Elizabeth was a diligent painter!

She also helped later in the day to tie dozens of tags and ribbons on our various goody bag items.

Jane put the finishing touches on the bag decor and made them look so cute!

Jonathan and Josiah baking more cookies.  These boys worked hard ALL day!

Joseph painting Nathan's portion of the office.

After a full day of work, the Jamesons kindly treated us all to a delicious dinner out!

Back at home, it was time to stuff the bags!

Pumpkin chocolate chip bread, molasses ginger cookies, homemade hot cocoa mix, and a letter from Nathan including a Gospel message completed the packages.

On Wednesday, we went around town and delivered the bags to the police station, the fire station, the mail lady, our next door neighbors, church members and their neighbors, and others in the community to whom we wanted to be a blessing.  The bags were well received, and we pray that the message they contained planted seeds in people's hearts and lives.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and we had a delightfully relaxing morning as we prepared food and played games together.

Kelly did a great job cooking and carving the turkey!

Our scrumptious spread: turkey and gravy, stuffing, corn casserole, broccoli rice casserole, mashed potatoes, and cranberry jello salad.

Josiah excited to get a turkey leg!

And let's not forget dessert!

Mmm...Jubilee helped bake the pumpkin pie and Nathan made the apple bars.

After lunch, while the little ones napped, Nathan gave a special, two-hour Bible study to the Jamesons at their request covering an overview of the story of Scripture as well as a chapter-by-chapter explanation of the book of Revelation.  We all enjoyed the teaching!

Then it was time for a hike!

Jubilee and Nathan, her hiking buddy.

The gang's all here!

Story time before bed.

The Jamesons left the following morning to return home.  We are so grateful for their visit and the blessing they were to us and so many others!