Moments 12.2023

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We ended 2023 strong, enjoying the holiday season and the beginning of ski season.

“I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass.”

Welcome to “Moments” here on JoyFoodSunshine. At the end of every month I share a recap of our family’s favorite moments! So here it is for December 2023.

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Life Lately

We spent this month enjoying many holiday festivities with our church and friends. Christmas concerts, cookie decorating, white elephant parties, school parties – so many fun and festive events that filled our hearts!


We also jumped head first into skiing this year. We bought passes as a resort very close to our home, and Ritch has taken the kids a handful of times already.

Mara took two days of lessons and then started doing greens with the rest of the kids. I can’t wait until K and Z are old enough (we might put K in lessons next month) so we can all go! But for now, they absolutely love it and it’s a great way to make the long winters exciting and fun!

Church Building

After closing in March, we finally got permits in hand for our church building (we are turning a barn into a church) this month.

Our sign is up and tons of progress is happening. It’s starting to feel real and we are so excited. The Lord keeps showing up in so many tangible ways to assure us He is building His church here in Utah!


Christmas was wonderful this year. I was so excited because Christmas eve was on a Sunday – which meant that we only had one service in the morning instead of at night (because another church meets in our building in the evenings and we wanted to make sure they could still gather on Sunday)!

It was fantastic. We went to church, and I made post-service brunch reservations months in advance. Then we went home, put on our PJs and watched a Christmas movie. It was so nice not having to wake kids up from naps, get them all dressed up and rush out the door for a nighttime service! 😉

On Christmas day we hung out in our PJs all day! We ate cinnamon rolls (of course), opened presents and let the kids play with all their gifts.

Then, our friends came over in the evening. We exchanged gifts, ate delicious food and had fun just being together. Of course, we sang happy birthday to Jesus with this Nativity cake too! A perfect holiday!

Potty Training!

It’s official. I have entered my diaper-free era and I’m here for it! After 13 years and 6 kids – often with multiple in diapers at one time – we decided to potty train Z and he’s doing so great!

Things I’m loving

Here are some things I’ve been loving lately…

  • This hair oil! My friend brought it to a gift exchange and I ended up going home with it. I put it on my hair when it’s still damp after washing and it is the softest it has ever been!
  • This sheet pan with a lid has become a go-to for me. Wether it’s actually for baking cakes, or just transporting goodies like cookies, I absolutely love this item!
  • Best Christmas Cookie Recipes. save this post for next year! 🙂
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. I made these twice this month to bring to friends’ houses for dessert. I double the recipe, bake in a 9×13″ pan and add a little sprinkle of flaky sea salt. So good!

Life & Faith

It’s typical to pause and reflect on the year as it comes to an end. I honestly have so much I am simultaneously thankful for and still healing from as a result of 2023. The very things that crushed my heart have also been used by God for good.

In our trials this year I had people wholly and absolutely betray me – as well as those who stood with me and held me close as my world felt like it was falling apart. I am grateful to God for exposing and removing the former from my life, however painful it felt at the time. And even more grateful for His precious gift of the latter.

The Lord is doing the work in my heart, to help me forgive those who aren’t sorry for things they never should have done. It has been freeing to offer them to Him and let them go. After all, He knows. He saw it all. And He is good.

If the devil never roars, the Church will never sing! God is not doing much if the devil is not awake and busy. Depend upon it: a working Christ makes a raging devil! When you hear ill reports, cruel speeches, threats, taunts and the like, believe that the Lord is among His people and is working gloriously.

-Charles Spurgeon

The grief of betrayal is real. But I have learned so much through it that I will carry with me the rest of my life. I read something that said, “People don’t like it when your authenticity is louder than their facade” and I can testify to how absolutely true it is.

After what we experienced this year, I imagined going into 2024 more guarded – an impenetrable fortress. However that is not how God made me nor who He called me to be. So I am resting in and trusting Him to be with me as I continue to authentically (not perfectly) live out my faith in ways that make much of him and (hopefully) bless others.

An End of an Era

In looking back on 2023, the change that I have wrestled with the most is not having any more babies. The grief of mourning the end of this season was a thread woven through everything in my life this year. A sadness so profound it made all the rest of the enemy’s attacks feel like cheap, cruel blows to my already fragile heart.

The 12 years I spent growing and nourishing babies were the best 12 years of my life. If you’ve been around JFS for a while, then you know that I loved and cherished every second. And it wasn’t in some fake, pithy aspirational sense – it was a deep, rooted joy from doing exactly what God made me to do.

I’m not saying I wish we’d have had more babies – I’ve never felt so sure and so sad about the same decision before in my life. I’m enjoying this new season and the freedoms it brings (like no diapers)! But I also miss the old season so much it hurts sometimes. I feel a little empty and not at all myself, without a sweet baby in my arms.

But the reality is that my “baby” is going to be 3 in a few short days. I cannot even believe it. God graciously gifted me a snuggly little guy who I believe was sent from heaven just for me and such a time as this. He is the sweetest little bear, and my absolute favorite thing he does is – as he’s falling asleep – he turns to me, touches my face and says, “Mommy, me love you.”


Some more moments from this month!

Bethany had a big assessment for her first semester of 7th grade. She drew the entire western hemisphere (mostly) from memory. I am so proud of her hard work and how much she is learning.

My big skiers!

These two did a day of ski school to get their ski legs back for the season!

They belong on the mountain!

Mara did so well we let her go skiing just her and her besties one day! She absolutely loved it!

One of our favorite Christmas activities is going to the Grand America to look at the windows. This year we went to brunch at the hotel as well and it was so fun.

I got these Christmas PJs and nightgowns from Hannah Anderson the weekend after Thanksgiving for 50% off! I will snag them at that time every year! They are on super sale right now (even more than 50% off – but sizes and styles are limited. You might get lucky though)!

Grateful for my beautiful friend.

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