If you need a little Christmas music playing while wrapping presents, check out this FREE offer from Spotify and Redbook! I’m listening to Mariah right now … and loving it! Click the link and sign in to Spotify or create a free account, and then the beautiful music will begin to play! Enjoy!
Earlier tonight I put on some Christmas music from a musical we performed at church a few years ago. Surprisingly, I remembered almost all of the words to the songs! As I organized my house for the upcoming Christmas festivities, I sang my heart out to every song on this CD, just pouring myself into each word that I would sing. Then one song came on that stopped me in my tracks. I remembered it was a favorite of mine before, but this song really spoke to me tonight. Allow me to share some of the words with you, and as I do … imagine Mary speaking …
God gave me arms to cradle His glory
Some saw star light … I saw the Light of The World
Some felt the wind sigh … I felt the wings of love unfurled
The sky held the stars … Hope held my heart
But I sing … for I held the King of kings
Shattering the darkness with God’s amazing light …
Blessings to one and all!
Light, Love, Hope
As we are leading up to Christmas morning, I would like to share a few things that have been on my heart, as well as sharing a few ideas that I really like and will be implementing this weekend with my children!
A little old lady lives down the road from us with her little Pomeranian dog named Tippy. She walks up and down the street with Tippy daily. We have stopped to chat with her from time to time. This little lady lives alone, and that in itself tugs at my heart knowing that she is alone. I’m sure she has family and friends that love and care for her, but just to know that she is alone for the most part day in and day out with her little Tippy just tugs at my heart strings.
I’ve had this little lady on my mind for a few weeks now, and I know that was God leading me to do something for her. I should have acted immediately on this when she came to mind. Sadly, I did not obey right away. 🙁 I’m sure every one can relate with the busyness of the season, and in my busyness, I did not act upon this when I should have. God still had a hand in this, though. He must have put me on this little lady’s heart as well at the same time. Isn’t God amazing?
I rushed home one afternoon and pulled up to the mailbox as usual to gather the mail. When I entered the house and began shuffling through the mail, I found a large envelope actually with her address on it but with a note that said, “Keep this one.” The envelope had already been opened. My curiosity got the better of me at this point, and I cautiously peeked into the envelope, then pulled out a beautiful Christmas card with a 2014 calendar. I read the note penned inside the card and instantly knew that God was at work. God placed this little lady on my heart at around the same time that He placed me on this lady’s heart as well! She took the time (I am feeling the sting of guilt and shame here) to let me know that she was thinking of me. She gave a simple gift of a calendar for the new year with wishes inside a Christmas card for me and my family. She thought of us, and she acted upon this. I asked God for forgiveness for not immediately acting on it when He placed this lady on my heart. Then I gathered the Christmas gift bag and tucked little treasures inside for her along with some Christmas goodies and a card from our family to her. I did not hesitate in telling her in the card that God had placed her on my heart and that apparently He placed us on her heart as well, and how comforting it was to know that we were thinking of each other at the same time wanting to wish each other a Merry Christmas!
This sweet gesture from our neighbor blessed my heart. It has also awakened me to the fact that I need to act when God calls me to do so. I’m so glad that my God did not give up on me even when I pushed through and allowed the busyness of the season to take over. He still found a way to show His hand in all of this and most definitely got my attention! Thank you, Father. Thank you for the precious gift of my neighbor reaching out to me through her card and sharing her calendar with me. I will smile with every flip of the page this coming year and think back to this little lesson given to me at Christmas time.
At this time when I have been thinking of the gift given to me through what was left in my mail box, I stumbled upon a blog that listed several ideas for Creating Christmas Traditions which also included an idea of leaving something special in other people’s mail boxes! In this post, Courtney from WomenLivingWell.org offers a beautiful suggestion, which is below for your review and consideration:
Spread the love of Jesus while driving around looking at Christmas lights. Every year before we leave the house to go look at Christmas lights, I have the children color 5-10 pictures of baby Jesus. (click here for coloring pages to print) Then as we drive we search for homes that are displaying the nativity. Each time we find one we clap and cheer. Then we roll down the back window and allow the children to take turns putting their picture in the mail box. I write on each picture “Thank you for displaying the reason for the season.” We hope it blesses them as they have blessed us!
I am printing these coloring pages out for my daughters, and we will begin this tradition this weekend! Imagine the smile that will spread across the faces of every one that opens their mail boxes to discover pictures colored so beautifully by precious little children thanking them for displaying the reason for the season! Courtney, thank you so much for this idea!!
Another wonderful idea that Courtney posted, which we will add to our traditions beginning this year on Christmas day, is as follows:
Read the Christmas story before opening presents. Every year on Christmas day we get together with my extended family. Before the presents are opened, we read the story of Baby Jesus to the children.
Each year we purchase a birthday cake to celebrate the birth day of Christ, our Lord. We gather around and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!! This year, I will proudly read the Christmas story!
Be intentional this Christmas season. Be a blessing to some one. Do something for them, even if all you have to give is a calendar, they will smile and feel joy deep within their hearts that you thought of them. Gather your children in the car and look at Christmas lights all through the town while singing Christmas carols. When you see houses that proudly display the nativity scene, leave your beautifully colored pictures for them to bless their hearts! Gather the children on Christmas morning and read the Christmas story! Include Jesus in the celebrations – buy Him a birthday cake, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, let His light fill your hearts, lives, and souls this holiday season and all year through!
Blessings to you and yours!
Light, Love, Hope
Today my oldest daughter and I “unplugged.” Yes, we did! We spent the day together and focused more on each other than on a screen of any kind! We were present for each other, and that is a gift that is so rarely given these days. Normally you see people with their heads down staring at their phones as they totally ignore the people sitting right there with them. We see this going on in stores, in restaurants, etc. The truth is, we seldom give others our undivided attention. Today, though, my daughter and I did just that. We tucked away the phones, ipods, and computers … and we were present for each other!
We started the day bright and early with going out for breakfast together, and then it was time for some shopping! We really focused on each other, taking the time to enjoy the conversation, the laughter, the inside jokes. We even went to look at prom dresses. The only time any electronic devices came out was when I begged for pictures of my daughter in those dresses. We are just starting out on our search for THE perfect dress, but in our search, we will begin by documenting today! Oh, she looked so lovely in the dresses she tried on today. She made those dresses look amazing! I am not being biased when I say that she was stunningly beautiful. I wish for just a little while that my darling daughter could see herself through my eyes. She is beautiful inside and out!
We made memories together today. Memories that will forever be a part of who we are – a part of the mother/daughter bond that we share. I am forever grateful for moments like these. My daughter will soon be 17, and oh how the time has flown by. It seems like just yesterday I was holding my newborn baby in my arms for the very first time, and now we’re shopping for prom dresses, getting ready for her high school ring ceremony, and ~gasps of horror~ looking at colleges! My baby has grown right up on me! She will soon be an adult. Oh how I hold on to these times with my baby as tight as I possibly can. I am not ready yet to let her spread her wings to fly. I know it’s coming, but this Mama is just not ready to let her go out into this cruel world. I want to shield and protect her from all harm … always! I know she has to grow up, and I am so incredibly proud of the young lady she has become. I just know I want more time! Our roles are shifting from caring for her every need, teaching her how to walk, fixing scraped knees and playing dolls with her to now her becoming so independent working a job just because she “wants” to but certainly not because she “has” to – just to know she has the desire to work lets me know that she is spreading her wings like the beautiful eagle as she begins to take flight. She is slowly venturing off on her own while still returning to the nest for a little while longer. And I choke back the tears and hold on a little tighter now.
I had the BEST day with my daughter today … focusing on each other, living in the moment, being present for each other … what a gift! One that I treasure …
Be present for someone in your life today. Push the computer aside after reading this, turn your phone off, and intentionally focus on the person that is IN FRONT of you. And thank God for them and for this moment in time, for this wonderful gift of being present and making memories with them! I know I am thankful – oh so thankful!
Blessings to you and yours,
Light, Love, Hope
This is the third week of Advent with the bible study plan courtesy of Good Morning Girls. The topic this week is choosing joy.
As we’ve posted previously, a lot of people are hurting at this time and are finding it hard to choose joy. Whether they are grieving and mourning over the loss of a loved one, have health concerns, have not been able to find employment, the list goes on and on as to why people are struggling this holiday season. We have to make a conscious effort to choose joy every single day. It is hard, believe me, I struggle myself and am missing loved ones at this time, too. However, it is a time of celebration!
Do you realize that the enemy’s sole intent is to steal, kill, and destroy? He does not want us to celebrate this holiday season or ANY season, especially not because we are honoring Christ, Our Lord. Please do not let him win! He goes up against us at this time, in particular, because there are celebrations going on far and wide as people every where are celebrating the birth of Jesus! There are more celebrations during the month of December with Christmas parties, cantatas, and plays being performed in churches, just to name a few. It is hard to force a smile when our hearts are hurting. At this time, especially, I would like to encourage you to be intentional in your thinking. Be careful what you meditate on. If you find your thoughts trailing off down a negative path, grab the reigns and pull yourself back on the positive road instead. Try to stop the negative thought and focus on something a little more positive. It is easier said than done, I know. But, please at least try to be more aware of the thoughts that you are thinking throughout the day. Be careful with the negative self talk also as you can be your worst enemy at times. Would you speak to a friend the way you speak to yourself in your head? I think not! Why beat yourself up? Try to let go and let God at this time more than ever. Choose joy, dear ones. Please focus on the birth of a beautiful baby boy born in a lowly manger. How can your heart not smile at the thought of a precious little baby? Can you imagine looking into those beautiful eyes of baby Jesus and not smiling deep within our being? I know I can’t! Shift your focus to Jesus as I’m sure you’ve heard a million times before, He truly is the reason for the season! It’s true! He is!
Let’s look at some scriptures that Good Morning Girls picked out this week to help us focus on choosing joy.
And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10 NLT
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 16:11
More specifically for the holiday season:
When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! Matthew 2:10
The above verse is, of course, in reference to the star that appeared and lead the wise men to the manger where Jesus was laying shortly after His birth.
The birth of Jesus calls for celebration!
As we prepare our hearts and minds, I encourage you to choose joy. Even in the mist of your storm, even when your heart is hurting terribly, lift up your hands and praise God. Just praise Him. Thank Him for coming to this earth in the form of a tiny baby to bring His light into such a dark world.
Even if all you can do is cry at first, cry out to God. He will meet you there, and He will comfort you as only He can. Maybe a good cry is what is needed – let it flow. Allow those feelings to come, acknowledge them, feel them, and give them to God. He cares sooooo much for you! Jesus laid down His life for you. When His arms were stretched out and nailed to the cross, He was proving His love for you. Imagine Him saying, “This is how much I love you!” as His arms are stretched as wide as they will go. He did it for you and for me. He loves you, dear one. He loves you.
If you are having trouble finding joy this holiday season and need someone to pray for you, please email me at email@example.com – I will pray over each email. I will pray specifically for you. I may not be able to instantly restore your joy, but maybe it will help as you release some of what you are feeling. I will be here for you, and I will listen. I will pray.
Blessings to you and yours,
Light, Love, Hope
I have seen several posts now about how women especially do not want to be in a lot of photographs as they do not like the way they look. I did not want to jump on this bandwagon since others have already written about it. However, I am jumping on this morning after seeing a news story that brought me to tears. They showed two pictures side by side. One was a picture of a woman and a man partially hidden behind a set of doors with one on one side and one on the other. The next was a picture of a child and a man positioned in a similar manner behind those same doors. The first picture was of a bride and groom. Sadly, his wife died from cancer and left behind their daughter, who is in the second picture with her father. These pictures brought me to tears because this little girl will only know her mother through pictures. The little girl, who was three years old when this picture was taken, lost her mother at the age of just a year old! The father and daughter were moving out of the house that held so many memories, and these pictures were taken in an effort to hold on to those memories in that old house.
Take the picture, ladies! Despite what you “think” you might look like – no matter if you think your hair isn’t perfect, your makeup isn’t “just right,” or if you didn’t lose the last few pounds you wish you had prior to someone bringing out their camera at an event – take the picture any way! These are precious memories in the making right here, and one day your loved ones will want to look back on pictures of you and fondly remember what every one was saying and doing in the pictures. They will look back at the pictures of people laughing wildly and wonder what was so funny when this shot was taken. Don’t let your children or loved ones flip through a photo album and not find a single picture of you in them! Your loved ones only want to see YOU! And you know what? YOU are far too hard on yourself. You pick yourself apart when others are just happy that you are there and are a part of the occasion, that you are a part of their lives!
Very early on I realized that I was busy taking pictures of every one else in the family with my new born baby, but no one was taking pictures of ME with my new born baby! Then I started taking “selfies” long before “selfies” were cool. Now that seems to be all we see on Facebook and Instagram, but I started taking these self portraits of me and my daughter just for the simple reason that I wanted her to have pictures of me. Should anything happen to me, I wanted her to have those pictures that she could look at and so that she could know me through those pictures. I wanted her to see me being a part of her life! Imagine my delight when I purchased a camera a few years later with the self timer mode! I can’t tell you how many “family pictures” were taken by ME previously, and since I was the one holding the camera, guess who was left out of the “family pictures?” I was! With the self timer, though, those days are no more as I press that button and race to find my place right along with the rest of the family. People laugh when they see me scrambling to get into position, but it is important to me to capture that moment in time, those memories with my family, with ME in the picture, too!
Do I ever take a bad picture? All the time! Do I ever wish that my hair was different or I had a chance to fix my makeup? You betcha! But, the important thing is that I’m in those moments right along with my children having fun despite what I may look like – there are even some bed head photographs of me with my pajamas on laughing and acting crazy with my children … but you know what? Some times THOSE are the best kind of pictures!! It’s great to have the beautiful family portraits with everyone on their best behavior looking all neat with their almost plastered on smiles … but the ones that really provoke laughter and smiles are the ones where we are acting as silly as we possibly can! THOSE are fun pictures to take because we’re laughing so hard and cutting up in the moment – the fun moments with my children – the fun moments my children will remember me being a part of! Yes, THOSE types of pictures are the best ones!!!
Do people groan when I take out my camera? Sometimes! BUT, what is important is that despite all of the “Ah man …” and “Really?” and “Awww, Mom!” comments, they will grow to appreciate these pictures in years to come! I know from experience. I love looking through old photographs! My children do, too! We can spend an entire day going through old pictures and letting those memories linger in our hearts and minds. There are days that I take down the baby photo albums of both of my girls, and we’ll flip through together and oooooo and ahhhhh over those adorable little baby pictures! It means a lot for my girls to see these pictures … and yes, to have me in them!
So please …
This holiday season, take the pictures! Get in there with your family. Make those memories and capture them in photographs that your loved ones will look back fondly on in years to come. Remember: Having YOU in the pictures is all that they truly care about – not your hair, not your weight, not your make up. Nothing else matters except that you were there sharing in that moment in time with them.
Take the picture!
We love free stuff around here. How about you?
Dr. James Dobson has a list of free downloads on his website that we’d like to share with you. From building self esteem and confidence, to raising children, to love, marriage, and family life, there is something that you are sure to enjoy. He has other resources that you can have mailed to you for a donation, but the downloads are free.
When you click on the link above, it will take you to the website. Be sure to click on the “Free” tab for those downloads we mentioned.
Enjoy! Blessings to you and your family!
As I sit in my recliner tapping away on my laptop sipping ice cold Coke Zero and munching on cheese straws, I let my mind wonder to the events of this past weekend spent with family and friends. With the sound of my little feathered friends chirping happily away at the feeders just outside my window, I soak in this moment in time and pause to thank God for the gift of another beautiful day! It is a cold, crisp December day. The sun shines brightly outside my windows, but I am not fooled. I know the bitter cold that will greet me when I step outside of my home, my safe haven, today. Although I am not a big fan of cold weather, I am a HUGE fan of the one that created it! Thank you, Heavenly Father, for all of Your wonderful blessings that You have sent to me and my family. Thank You for the gift of another glorious day to sing Your praises!
I have been in deep thought about the holiday traditions that my children will remember in their adult lives. Looking back, I want them to smile and fondly remember the times we gathered to decorate the Christmas tree. Our tradition is to begin with decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving each and every year, although this year my husband was anxious to get into the Christmas spirit so we put the tree up the day before Thanksgiving! I am not one to rush the holidays along, as I was enjoying preparing for Thanksgiving. I am also not one to turn down a helping hand either, so we stepped outside of our tradition this year and put the tree up early! But, I want my children to look back with delight as they think of the times we put on Christmas music and danced around happily in the kitchen being as silly as we possibly could as we eventually made our way back to the tree to add another ornament. I want them to smile with delight as they think of all of the presents wrapped with love under the Christmas tree. I hope the twinkle in their eyes will still be there as they remember the Nutcrackers purchased just for them as they were both each in the Nutcracker Ballet production! Those were good times for us. Hectic times as we practiced from October to December for this performance, but wonderful times as we shared this tradition.
The Nutcracker is near and dear to our hearts for a couple of reasons. You see, my oldest daughter expressed an interest in ballet way back in 2001. At just four years old, we took her to see her very first Nutcracker Ballet. Her face clearly expressed all of the joys and wonders she was experiencing that day as she watched in amazement. This ballet production held the attention of our four year old throughout the entire performance! She was entranced, and from that moment on, ballet was a part of her. We enrolled her in ballet lessons in January of 2002. She worked hard throughout the year, and when that October rolled around, she auditioned and was accepted for two roles in the Nutcracker Ballet! She could hardly contain her excitement. Our evenings were filled with “silly time” which consisted of dancing around the living room with tutus and on our tippy toes, smiling, laughing, and attempting to fly through the air and land gracefully as we had seen the ballerinas twirl ever so lightly on their toes. Boy do they make it look a lot easier than it truly is! My darling daughter was looking forward to her roles in the Nutcracker when one day the teacher approached my husband and I asking if we would assist in “the party scene” in the opening act. Oh my! We had never been on stage before in our lives, so imagine the horror we felt with not only being asked to be on stage during this performance but also being asked to dance in “the party scene.” Our daughter’s eyes sparkled and shined when she learned that we would be joining her during this performance! It would truly be a family affair!
The weekend of the performance came, and we all dressed up in our finest costumes provided by the ballet company. With our hair fixed “just so” and our make up, too, we attempted to calm our nerves before we went out on stage. Since the Nutcracker truly ran all weekend long, it gave us a chance to become more comfortable with performing our little parts, which seemed grand to us at that point having never done this before, to overcoming our fear and actually enjoying ourselves tremendously by the very last showing. We were actually sad when the weekend came to an end!
My daughter continued on with ballet lessons for several more years. She was delighted to be a part of the Nutcracker for several more holiday seasons as well. Then after my youngest daughter was born and as she grew, she expressed a desire to participate as well. She got the chance she had been waiting for, and she, too, was a part of the Nutcracker ballet production! Those were good times!
I look back on this time in our lives and am thankful that once upon a time, the Nutcracker was a holiday tradition in our family! I have the pictures stored in an album to reflect back on any time I desire, and I have those memories tucked fondly away in my heart.
Another of our holiday traditions has been to see as many Christmas lights as we possibly can in our neighboring cities. We have traveled to see the lights along the coast, as well as traveling upstate to view their beautiful “Winter Wonderland” of lights. From enjoying hot chocolate around a fire roasting marsh mellows to decorating crafts and visits to sit on Santa’s lap, we try to pack in as much fun as we can during the month of December. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!
There are plays in neighboring cities that churches put on for the public for free! We have attended several over the years, but one has become our all time favorite. This particular play tells the story of Jesus from His birth in a lowly manger, to being nailed to the old rugged cross, moving through His death, to His resurrection, and ultimately to when He ascended up to Heaven. We have seen this play several times now, and it touches our hearts and brings tears to our eyes each and every time. We have fond memories of our oldest daughter as a child running down to the end of the stage looking up at the character portraying Jesus. She had such delight in her eyes as she came back to exclaim that she had just seen Jesus! We later explained that he was portraying Jesus in this play, but this was not the real Jesus. However, it thrilled our hearts that our little girl truly knew who this man called Jesus was! Our youngest daughter had a very similar reaction when we took her when she was old enough to understand the meaning behind the play and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!
Another of our holiday traditions is, of course, baking holiday treats. My youngest daughter has a fascination with eggs and just HAS to be the one to crack open those eggs each and every time we bake. If she acts disinterested initially, all I have to ask is, “Who would like to crack the eggs?,” and she comes running with a huge smile on her face! I love baking goodies in the kitchen surrounded by my girls! This year we actually baked a spoon in our red velvet cake. Ha! My oldest daughter was mixing the batter when I noticed the spoon slip down and disappear into the batter. I mentioned this to her, assuming that she would take the spoon out. She assumed that since I mentioned it that I was going to be the one to take the spoon out. Much to our surprise, when we took the cake out of the oven for it to cool and then flipped the bunt pan over, we felt the cake as it stuck at the top on one side. As we lowered the pan to find out exactly why it stuck even though it was thoroughly greased prior to adding the batter … there it was … lo and behold, we noticed the shiny spoon sticking out from underneath the layers of cake. No wonder a piece stuck to the pan! Lucky for us that it did or we may not have discovered the spoon until our guests cut into the cake at dinner! Are you laughing yet? We certainly had the biggest laugh over that! Boy did we ever make memories with that one?! This is surely a memory that they will reflect back on later and laugh so hard until their sides hurt! I know I will!
This year, in addition to adding the new tradition of “spoon cake” (I’m kidding), we are adding an Elf On The Shelf as a new holiday tradition in our family! My youngest daughter has been begging all month long for an elf! She just “really, really, really, really, REALLY” wants an Elf On The Shelf. So … not wishing to disappoint our princess, we have purchased an elf … she came packed in a box with a delightful book to read along to our little one that tells all about the Elf On The Shelf. We purchased a girl elf, for obvious reason since we have two girls, and since she looks so close to the male elf with the exception of the lipstick she is wearing and the earrings, we purchased a tutu for our little girl elf to wear. We will let our daughter name her, of course, and then year after year we will enjoy the antics of our Elf On The Shelf. We have seen a lot of debate on this subject this year, though. Our desire is not to make messes with this little elf and not to have our elf in all kinds of mischief. Our desire is not so that the elf will report back to “Santa” on whether our daughters have been naughty or nice. No, instead, we would like our elf to be used for good things. For example, we would like our little one to wake up one morning and find her little elf reading the bible to all of her little stuffed animal friends who are gathered around listening attentively to every word she reads! Or, we would like our daughter to find her elf with strips of paper all around with ideas of how to show a random act of kindness to someone that day. These are just some of the ideas we have for our little Elf On The Shelf. She will be a part of our family tradition for years to come, and we want it to be fun but also to be in honor of the King as we prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate His birth!
Last, but not least, our holiday traditions consist of a birthday party for Jesus! Yes, we have a cake decorated that says “Happy Birthday Jesus.” We all gather around as we light the candle and sing “Happy Birthday To You” … then we pause for a moment and blow out the candle. This year I would like for us to break out into “Silent Night” or “Oh Holy Night.” We want to remember and honor Jesus on His special day! After all, He IS the reason for the season! Our holiday tradition and celebration would not be complete without His birthday party.
What are some of your holiday traditions? What do you do to celebrate the month of December leading up o Christmas as you wait in anticipation for Christmas day? We would love to hear all about your holiday traditions with your families. Feel free to post a comment below.
It is so hard to believe that this holiday season is just flying by! There is so much excitement all around us as we take in the sights and sounds of Christmas. The children are anxiously awaiting Christmas morning to tear into their presents. There are Christmas parties underway, Christmas Cantatas at churches all around, and school will be getting out for the Christmas holidays this week! Yea! At the time of this writing, there are only ten more days until Christmas!
Please do not let this holiday season go by without considering the real reason for the season. Please remember the little star that lead the shepherds to where precious Baby Jesus was laying in the manger. Celebrate the birth of Christ, Our Lord! Jesus is the reason for the season, and the gift He came to bring to us all was the gift of being forgiven for all of our sins, the very sins that nailed Him to the cross. He came to bring us the gift of salvation, for if we only ask Him into our hearts and believe in Him, He will give us the gift of eternal life in Heaven! Oh Glorious One! Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace.
As the to-do lists grow longer as the days to Christmas become shorter, stop for a moment and meditate on the real reason of the season. Gather with friends and family, yes. Celebrate and enjoy the wonderful times with others, yes. Take in the sights, sounds, and enjoy all of the parties, songs, celebrations …but , *please*, keep Christ in Christmas. Keep the message alive in your hearts and minds. Remember that Jesus came as a little tiny baby in the manger, knowing his fate and his destiny, knowing that He would die a cruel death on the cross for all of our sins. Tis the season, and Jesus Christ is the reason! He was born into this world, walked the face of this earth in human form, was tormented, tortured, and then died the death of a criminal … He did it all for you and I. He did it for the gift of eternal life. He rose again on the third day … He’s alive! He is alive! Thank God Almighty that Jesus Is Alive!
This truly is the most wonderful time of the year in my book! I love Christmas! I love all of the sparkling lights and beautiful decorations. I love watching the little children with wide eyes and looks of wonder on their faces as they take in all of the sights and sounds of Christmas!
Thursday night we attended a Christmas program at my daughter’s school. They have been working hard for three months! The night had finally arrived for them to strut their stuff on stage. They have been anxiously awaiting this day, and it was finally here! All of the parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, and friends gathered in the auditorium in great anticipation. With cameras and video recorders in hand, we all waited together counting the minutes before the program was to begin. These little ones beamed with so much pride and the joy that filled their hearts spilled out into the audience onto all of us! If any one entered that auditorium feeling less than happy, I can guarantee that they left revived and with new joy within their hearts after seeing these children on stage. From the opening act which included the high school teens strumming on their guitars making beautiful music, to the elementary school choir singing as they were positioned in the form of a Christmas tree, to the “dancers” on the side moving in rhythm to the music and signing beautifully to the words of the song, to the solo pieces, to Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds, the angels, right down to the closing number … it blessed my heart and soul completely! I was so happy to be a part of that evening. You see, before we knew the date of the Christmas program, we purchased tickets to another event out of town. When my daughter brought home the school schedule and we realized the conflict with the dates, there was just no way that I was going to miss my daughter’s performance! We talked about it, we tried to sell the tickets and even tried to give them away but there were no takers, and then finally we resorted to begging and pleading with the ticket office explaining that our precious little one was performing on the SAME night. “Please, oh please, is there ANY thing you can do?!” When they looked on our account and realized the purchases we had made previously, they said they would give us the price of the tickets back! Yea!! Even if we had to take a loss on the cost of the tickets, we would have because I just could NOT miss my daughter performing in the Christmas play at school! No matter what my children are involved in, it is of the utmost importance that I am there to support them! It means a lot to them to look out in the audience and see us smiling back at them, giving them the “thumbs up” and recording their every move with our video cameras. They feel encouraged and inspired to do their very best. I am proud to be a part of this moment in time with them!
Last night we attended a Christmas party with our classic car club. We enjoyed a delicious meal hot off the grill, then played a few games, had lots of laughter and fun, and then ended with a Chinese Christmas gift exchange. That was great fun in and of itself. We had never been a part of the Chinese Christmas before until last year with the club. If you haven’t ever heard of it, the way we play it is that you draw numbers, and of course the number one goes first … but they also go last, too, which means that after every one else opens their gifts or decides to “take” a gift someone else has opened as their very own instead, the person that drew the number one gets to go around to all of the gifts (unless they have been retired, meaning the gifts have been “taken” from someone else having exchanged hands three times) to take their final pick that will go home with them. We laughed so hard as people “took” gifts from each other. Just seeing the surprised looks on their faces when it was happening provoked laughter in every one of us. My mom, at first, said, “Can you believe they did that last year with taking our presents?” I explained how the game was played, and she understood better this year why that occurred last year so they were totally in to the game this year with my dad even getting up and creeping on every one else’s presents, “taking” one from someone else as his very own when it was his turn. That was great fun! My husband was the lucky number one last night, so when it came time for his final selection he leaned in to me to ask if there was any thing I would like out of every one else’s gifts. I saw one of our members with her arms stretched out and hands clasped over a pretty little red ceramic cookie jar in the shape of a Christmas present with white polka dots on it and tied with a fluffy green ceramic bow on top. Every time my husband would walk closer to her, she would nervously wring her hands together while looking away as if no one would notice. I noticed, though. ~giggling~ It was great fun when he came back to me one final time to ask if there was any thing I’d like to take home that evening. How sweet of him to consult me when it was HIS selection to make. I already had my present, but he was asking if there was any thing else I’d like to have. Well … there was one … that pretty red ceramic cookie jar!! He made his way slowly back over to the area where this lady was sitting, and when he reached out to “take” the cookie jar from her, the look on her face was priceless!! The room was filled with laughter at this point as he claimed that cookie jar for his own. It was all in good fun in front of everyone, but after the Chinese Christmas gift exchange was over I did tell her in front of some of the others that we just HAD to do this to her when we saw her sitting over there like that. I told her that she could really have the ceramic cookie jar back if she wanted it, but we just could not pass that opportunity up! She said that was what it was all about, having fun and making it interesting, and in the end she was okay with what took place and did not really want the ceramic cookie jar. So … upon my arrival home, my daughter so graciously accepted the gift of the cookie jar and made it her own with immediately placing a little bag of cookies inside. Sweet!
Tonight we are heading to a church in another town to hear the Singing Christmas Tree. We have heard a lot about this but have never attended before until this year. We are extremely excited and know that it will be a beautiful evening with our lovely family and wonderful friends. We originally had a group of 11 going, but sadly, two are now unable to come. We will miss them greatly.
In all of this that we do this holiday season, we are doing it for the fun, yes, the laughter, yes, the gift of being with others sharing in this time of the year … while also keeping in mind the REAL reason for the season – Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior!
We had the privilege of ringing the bell outside of a store in another town for the Salvation Army this Christmas. It is something that my husband’s company does every year. This year I was able to join him in doing this. We were not sure how we would be received by the mass of people going in to and out of the store. A lot of people do not want to make eye contact with you simply because they do not wish to give any thing to any one at any time, especially someone standing there ringing a bell no matter what their donations would be going toward. Meanwhile, there are others that almost race up to us with huge smiles on their faces and proudly place their heart felt donations into the bucket. We took great pride in telling each and every person that we came in contact with, yes even those that would not make eye contact and would not grunt a “hello” in return, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” So many people are changing to something they claim is less offensive like “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings.” Not us, though. We proudly and very loudly say, “Merry Christmas!” to each and every one that we can this holiday season. It IS because of Christ that we even have this precious holiday season to celebrate in the first place. IT IS BECAUSE OF CHRIST! The response from some was just amazing. Some that originally were stone faced not wishing to make eye contact turned completely around, smiled, and fished around in their pockets until they produced something, anything that they could drop into our little bucket. It was game changing that day. It made us sooooo proud to be standing there ringing our bells and saying those two words, “Merry Christmas!” They realized that WE made a conscious decision to KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS!!! We hope that you will do the same.
Very few people know what this day signifies to our family. Of those that do, even fewer acknowledge it. I am well aware, and have been for years now, that the world does not stop for our broken hearts.
People care even less today than they did before about their fellow man. How sad! In a world of billions of people that are taught that we need each other and just how important community is, only a small number will let you into their circle. Community is hard! Few take the time to show others that they care.
When you’re searching for that special gift to give someone this holiday season, consider this. You can bless someone’s heart and life not by the money you spend but by simply caring for them, showing concern and compassion for someone. You can include them! Take their heart into your hands and shield it and protect it while it is in your care. Give the gift of friendship. Reach out and touch someone’s heart with your own.
All of the above mentioned “gifts” are FREE gifts that we could very easily give to others. How many choose to do this? It is discouraging that the greatest gift we have to give is often kept to ourselves. People do not have time any more to show others that they care. It is heart breaking in this day and age that when people need others more than EVER before that they, instead, feel alone and isolated.
Be the gift. Be the encouragement. Be the one that stops to take time to love on someone else. Step outside of yourself and your comfort zone a little and think of others that may be hurting, then be intentional on sharing the loving kindness that you have in your heart with them.
Just because someone has a smile on their face does not mean that happiness dwells within them. They could be, and often times are, putting on a mask that says to the world that they have it all together, that they are happy, that they are loving life. Meanwhile, they could be dying inside, wondering what their purpose is in this life. They could be filled with such overwhelming sadness, hurt, and pain, but with the smile, no one would ever guess what was truly going on behind the smile. Some hide it so well. Some reading this have been there. Some that are reading this are there right this very minute. Some have perfected the mask wearing with the most convincing of smiles. I know because I am one of the many mask wearers out there.
Today as I remember my sister’s birthday, I will do something to celebrate her life; the very life that blessed mine for 32 years while she was on this earth. I will remember with great joy the times that we shared together. I will appreciate the gifts she gave to me; gifts that touched my life and heart; gifts that did not cost a thing as she gave them freely from her heart.
So far today I have had TWO people acknowledge what day it is for our family. Two. Although many more know, few care to reach out, to take the time, to acknowledge with us, to show their love on a day when our hearts are hurting because when we should be celebrating with my sister, we can’t because she is in Heaven.
Yesterday when I was hurting, I chose not to wear a mask but to instead reach out to a few people that I thought would receive me with open arms and would love me through this. Knowing the way the world is today, I should not have been surprised or even hurt by what happened yesterday. But, I was. It takes soooooo much strength and courage to admit that you’re hurting, that you’re struggling. It takes a brave person to share their heart with another and ask for loving kindness in return. When we build up these walls and often times just want to hide behind them, it is hard to tear those walls down and allow someone to see the pain inside. Then when they do and people do not respond at all … it compounds the pain they were already feeling. I was a member of a “support” group that was supposedly for the sole purpose of being “there” for your grieving heart after losing a loved one. You know what? I posted in that closed group admitting that I was having a hard time that day. I shared my heart, and do you know that not ONE person in that mega large group of people would take the time to tell me that they were thinking of me? NOT ONE! No one responded. Period! I reached out, and NO ONE was “there” from that “support” group. I posted in another secret group specifically for women of faith, and they responded with such love and care offering prayers and their support, which was appreciated more than they will ever, EVER know! I reached out to an email friend who did not respond until this morning with a hurried “love to give this the attention it deserves but I’m busy with …” Imagine the sting of that response from someone that proclaimed to love me and be there for me. But it is the world we live in today. I reached out to a lady that I have just had the pleasure of becoming more acquainted with who showed the most compassion and love for my hurting heart. She loved on me. She let me know that she truly cared. She touched my heart with her own in the beautiful words that she shared with me. She took the time. She showed that she cared about me, about my pain. She spoke beautiful words over me. She genuinely cared! Tears streamed down my face as I was greeted with such love!
Take the time, people! It does not cost a thing to love on someone and show them that you care. I only wish more people had done this when my sister was still on this earth. You see, my sister took her own life. When my sister felt alone, in her deepest, darkest depression, when she felt no one else was there for her, I know that my God was with her.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.
If you have never heard of Jim Brickman before, he is America’s Romantic Piano Sensation! We have been to several of his concerts, and we have enjoyed each and every one. From the romantic tunes to the Christmas specials, you are sure to enjoy hearing him tickle the ivories! Jim is offering free downloads of five songs from his live tour, The Magic of Christmas. When you click the link, it will take you to a page where you enter your email, name, state and zip code. Once you submit, you’ll see the link for the free downloads. Click that link, and the beautiful music will be downloaded to your computer for you to enjoy all season long!