This year is drawing to a close. As we think of spending Christmas with our family, our thoughts also go to the reflections of 2021. This year has been full of mostly joy for our family, with a few exceptions here and there. We gained a son-in-law this year! That was one of the highlights of the year as our oldest daughter married the love of her life. Our youngest daughter was busy being awesome and being inducted into the American Christian Honor Society. What a distinct honor, as it not only reflects her incredible grades but also her impeccable character as well. Ah, sweet blessings from God above!
While we were protected from Covid-19, others have not been so lucky. They either came down with it themselves or had a family member with it. There has been wide debate on both sides for and against the vaccines, with each side having their reasons for being passionate about their perspective.
We lost our precious teacup Yorkie this year, which crushed my heart completely. Baby was nine years old when she passed. We were told early on that due to her smaller organs, she would not live as long as other pets. Even still, we made sure to pack a whole lot of love into those years we had with her.
A family member was urged to have surgery and not put it off any longer, so that surgery will take place in the beginning of 2022. Please pray for no complications, God’s hand on all staff treating and tending to them, and a speedy recovery.
Sadly, we have either lost friends this year or have drifted away from those we were once close with. Things happen, and relationships either stand the test of time, or they don’t. Either way, we are thankful for the lessons learned. We hold the memories made close to our hearts, and we wish them well on whatever path they have chosen to go down without us by their side in life.
Family trips were taken, and we basked in the warm sun on beautiful islands! From frolicking on sandy shores in Florida, South Carolina, and even Hawaii, too, we embraced travel once again when we were so limited in 2020 due to Covid emerging and shutting places down, crippling the economy.
Love was shared. Happiness was found in hearts. God brought us safely through it all, and here we are preparing to celebrate His birthday.
Let your heart not be troubled as you think of Christmas and reflections of 2021 with your family. God is still in control, just like He has always been. He’s still there on the mountaintop, and He will still be there when we go through valleys.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful, beautiful life and the family and friends we share it with. May we keep Christmas in our hearts all year through.
The holiday season is such a wonderful time. As we approach Thanksgiving, right on through Christmas and New Year’s, there is such a joy and sense of warmth surrounding us. I wish we all could keep this feeling throughout the entire year.
If you’re having trouble, as some folks do, getting into the Christmas spirit, Arlene Pellicane has written 25 Days of Christmas to help! Consider not only downloading and reading her free e-book, but put her ideas and suggestions into practice with your own family. Include your little ones, and your husband, too, as you go through this devotional that links activities along with her personal memories. There are even cookie recipes found within the pages, and I plan to put those recipes to good use! (Thank you, Arlene!) Together with your family and Arlene’s suggestions, you are bound to create memories this holiday season!
Arlene has provided 10 devotionals, 10 family activities, and five ways to serve this Christmas season. Assuring Christ is the center of this season is of the utmost importance, and Arlene gives us scripture to consider as we take in the sights and sounds around us and prepare for Christmas day. As you go through this e-book, you will see that it’s more than a daily devotional or advent calendar. Busy families will benefit with these meaningful opportunities to celebrate the birth of Jesus and connect together as a family on a deeper level this holiday season.
If you like what you read in Arlene’s e-book, check out The Happy Home Podcast/AccessMore podcast network!
Many thanks to AccessMore for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and not influenced by monetary compensation.
My oldest daughter has a wide variety of Sharpie pens in the prettiest colors. She also has gel pens, calligraphy pens, and quite frankly, a pen obsession!
She loves doodling on any scrap piece of paper, and just recently she started writing cards with her calligraphy pen set.
She has always had an obsession, but now there is a full drawer of her nightstand dedicated to nothing but pens! I kid you not!
With Bible journaling being the latest trend, she is the first person I thought of when I saw these beautiful art journals! I smiled thinking of the fun she would have writing in the prettiest of handwriting, with the determined look she always gets on her face when she’s striving to get every letter just right!
She has always been artistic, as is my youngest daughter as well.
Perhaps they will share the journals together? Or, maybe we will choose which of the three is our absolute favorite, that way we can each have a journal to write our deepest thoughts in as we feel lead to do so.
Wouldn’t these journals make the perfect Christmas gifts?! YES, THEY WOULD!
If you have someone on your Christmas list just like my daughter, let me assure you, your friend or family member will be in writing/doodling heaven with these art journals!
I loved running my hand over the hard cover of these journals, feeling the indentions of each word as I looked at the array of colors on the front. One journal in particular has a turquoise rubber band type closure on the right end, which I took great pride in slipping off and running my fingers through the pages. There are pages within this journal with samples of art, with instructions and places in which to try your hand at illuminating your journal with art!
The second journal I picked up is a coloring Bible journal. Oh, the fun one could have with that. Like a little child that sits before their coloring books, determined to color within the lines and have the colors jump off of the page at you. I can see us relieving stress by coloring as we once did when we were young. Who doesn’t need a little childlike fun in their lives?!
The final journal that I waited until the very last to admire was Faith & Lettering. And it did not disappoint! The hot pink spine of the book also matches the hot pink FAITH banner across the cover. That is what first caught my eye, but as I looked further, I noticed it also has an elastic black band at the top of the spine to secure your finest writing pen. There are pages within this journal that remind me of graph paper with the dots, which allows you to unleash your creative talent within those very pages. They have styles of lettering you can copy, with places for you to practice until you perfect the creative writing style. You can choose bible verses to write as creatively as you desire, or letters from a poem to make them look so elegant on the pages of this journal. I can see hours of meditating on God’s word and just being One with Him, as you write out bible verses.
I’ll never forget my grandmother’s bible. Although the cover was worn, you knew it was because she carried that bible faithfully to church with her, and she used it throughout the week studying her bible lessons. While she didn’t doodle in her bible, she did write dates of sermons that she loved based on particular bible verses. She’d also write little prayers for her family in the margins. These things came to mind when I saw these journals.
To me, my bible was sacred. I feared I would tarnish it in some way if I wrote in it. Highlighting with pink seemed to be disgraceful, too, so I stayed safe with the yellow highlighter, if I dared to take anything to the pages within my bible. Now I don’t have to feel this way at all with the freedom these art journals provide!
Be sure to check them out at EllieClaire.com – they would be just PERFECT for the creative one in your life!
Classic Christmas songs can be heard floating through the kitchen as the tunes seem to dance right out of the speakers.
o/~ o/~o/~ o/~o/~ o/~
“It’s the … most … won … der … ful … time … of the year … “
For some, this rings true. However, have you stopped to consider that for a lot of people, though, this time of year brings a tremendous amount of pain with it? As people are rushing here and there getting in the Christmas spirit, others are mourning the loss of loved ones and are finding it hard to greet the day let alone finding Christmas cheer.
Just this past weekend, a precious soul was lost. No one truly knows what another is going through. While there was speculation, no one can confirm or deny except for the person themselves or God above. Regardless of the reasoning, this lady took her own life. And the community is at a loss as to why this beautiful and vibrant 77 year old would do such a thing. Now, instead of planning for the holiday meal and wrapping presents, the family is making funeral arrangements.
Would you please pause for a moment and offer up a special prayer for people EVERY where that are hurting? It seems to be magnified at this time of year. Hearts are hurting all through the land.
There are those suffering with the loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, or even not sure how they will make ends meet. Others are struggling mentally with things or are physically dealing with an illness. Regardless of the reason, they need our love and prayers. We need to show compassion and speak softly around others because we truly do not know what they are dealing with or when they might be at their wits end. Some may be holding on by a thread, and your kindness toward them can make a world of difference as to what they decide their next step in life will be.
Will you join me in being an encouragement to those hurting in the community at this time of year?
Where ever you are, please pray for all the hearts that are hurting this holiday season.
Bright colors leap off the page now when I flip through the bible. When once I felt I was disgracing the Holy Word by doodling in my bible, it has actually become a trend for the vast majority in this day and age. Bible journaling is gaining in popularity.
I’ll never forget my grandmother’s bible. The worn cover opened to reveal notes she wrote in the margin. While I imagine some were written as she was listening to the preacher behind the wooden podium, others were written as prayers from her heart to God. These prayers were for her family. Ah, she was forever praying for and over her family.
We didn’t fully come to realize the messages she some times scribbled in her bible until it was given to us after her death. It was then that my line of thinking started to shift, and I realized how truly special it was to write in the bible.
Now, as I pick up my colored pencils, I realize that one day my children and perhaps even my grandchildren will hold my bible in their hands reading the words that I have written.
With this in mind, I slip the colored pencils out of the pouch and go to work. I quickly find that purple and red have become my favorites as they, to me, symbolize royalty and the blood of Jesus.
There are all kinds of things you can write and include inside of your bible. Whether you choose stickers, or if you just want to write out bible verses in multi-color like I started to do, your bible will really come to life.
My children enjoy using the gift set, although I have not allowed them to claim it as their very own. Yet … anyway. ~smile~ As Christmas is approaching, this would make a GREAT Christmas present for a family member or good friend! Click here to purchase this Bible Journaling Kit, OR click here to enter a giveaway!
While I received a gift set from Propeller/Fly-By Productions, the opinions expressed here are my own and were not influenced by their gift.
She slid the red hardback book from the box and held it in her little hands. Revealing her delight, she whispered, “Wow.” Sitting Indian style on the hardwood floor, she placed the book in her lap and started to read. Never looking up or pausing, she read the book cover to cover in one sitting. Although she’s heard the story of Jesus’ birth many times through the years, she sat engrossed in this book soaking in every word. I watched as she carefully removed each letter from God at the end of the story. Without a doubt, those letters, full of God’s promises and love, touched her heart completely.
Are you one of the parents that started the tradition with your little ones of giving them a new pair of pajamas and books on Christmas Eve? If so, this book would be perfect to add to their collection. The book I am speaking of is Christmas Love Letters.
For me, I never tire of hearing about the birth of our Lord and Savior. As we are approaching this holiday season, what an appropriate time, now more than ever, to share the story of how Jesus came to this earth as a tiny baby boy. His entire goal, mission, and reason for being here was to save us all. That is the greatest gift you could ever receive right there.
I encourage you to consider purchasing this book for your little ones this holiday season. It is sure to be a favorite of theirs. I’ll admit that I took a sneak peak inside the book myself, and it touched my heart, too.
Imagine your child getting a letter from God. Now, they can! Consider Christmas Love Letters for your little one this holiday season!
Pulling out of our driveway tonight, we saw lights coming toward us. As we waited, we realized that the vehicle was that of our elderly neighbor just down the road from us. She stopped, and we got out to greet her. She had gifts in hand and thanked us for our gift of Jim Brickman CDs and a candle that we left in her mailbox just the other day. I don’t give to receive, though. When I give, it is a gift from the heart with no strings attached and no expectations.
We chatted briefly, and then we got back into our vehicles to go our separate ways.
This lady lives alone with her dog and cat. My heart goes out to her as, while I don’t know this for a fact, she appears to be all by herself. She could have a huge family that she visits often, but I rarely see vehicles at her house. That is why I have drawn this conclusion.
Often times, I think of my grandmother who lived alone for several years before she passed away. She lost my grandfather a few years before, and she was so very lonely. I can almost hear her now on the phone as she talked of how lonely her days were. Sure, we would visit, but I know it wasn’t as often as we should have. We did what we could, though. I imagine that is why I have such a strong desire to let this lady up the road know that she isn’t all alone in this great big world.
When we returned home tonight, we opened the gift bag and manila envelope that our neighbor had given us a few hours earlier. My youngest daughter was so excited to see what goodies our neighbor shared with us. There were several items that could have looked “recycled.” But … that may have been all that she had to give, and she chose to give them to us! For that … I am grateful. She thought of us, and I appreciate her thoughtfulness and the kindness she has extended by remembering my family and I at this time of year.
For me, I don’t look at the recycled gifts in a bad way at all. I appreciate the calendar she gave as well as the Angels Among Us literature. There was even an article about how beautiful Heaven is. She had a few of what looked to be her old costume jewelry which consisted of bracelets, necklaces, and rings in the mix. My daughter was thrilled and began putting every single one of them on. I smiled inside and out as I watched her excitement. Our neighbor did a wonderful thing, and my heart is grateful.
At Christmas time, I hope you will consider those that may not have much to give. I am sure they feel bad about giving what little they do have, but to me, it was a blessing to be on the receiving end of such kindness and generosity. I remember a few times being right where our neighbor is and not really being able to afford to buy for all. I did the best I could and hoped the recipients knew I was giving from my heart even if my wallet was not able to give as grand of a gift as I would have liked. It is all about the giver’s heart, and I know that my neighbor is a very sweet, kindhearted lady. And I am blessed by her thoughtfulness.
I hope that you will appreciate the heart of the giver this holiday season. If someone gives you a gift that you may not have chosen for yourself, please be gentle and kind. It truly IS the thought that counts. They have big hearts, even if they do not have big wallets to go with it.
For me, I received a blessing tonight. I hope you will receive your very own blessing this holiday season.
Yesterday on Twitter, I was invited to participate in a link up. (Thank you Hope N. Griffin!) I was extremely excited and flattered that I received this personal invitation.
The topic everyone was to write on was how you’re finding joy in every day. She posed a few questions, then reminded us that Advent is about peace and resting in the joy of the Lord.
I took some time to ponder on what she wrote in an effort to get my creative juices flowing. I seem to be lacking in that department these days, and it has dawned on me that it is because I am not feeling peaceful in my soul. I’ve lost my joy in the past few days. If I am completely honest, the troubling blue funk was attempting to take me down this past weekend, immediately after Thanksgiving.
We have so much to be thankful for, as I covered in a post just last week. So why the blue funk?
Everyone is busy with their Christmas shopping now that this special holiday is upon us. But, that isn’t what is troubling me.
You see, my sister’s birthday is December 13th. It should be a time of sweet celebration, yet … this time is filled with sadness as she has been gone 14 years now. And what’s more, just when I think I’ve overcome the struggle to get through the holidays without this bothering me … I realize that it has all but consumed me. I’ve been on edge due to this being in the back of my mind. I’ve been short, snapping at my loved ones, or irritable for no reason, or so I thought. Other times, I’m extremely quiet and withdrawn. Then it hit me today as I was thinking of what Hope asked on her blog.
Every year, on the first Saturday in December, we attend The Angel of Hope Ceremony. Here, gathered with others who have lost loved ones, we honor their memory. We have been doing this for several years now, and this year will be no different. My sister’s plaque is on the wall at The Angel of Hope Monument in our town.
It is hard to visit the cemetery at times, so here, we find some comfort standing beneath the large angel statue in the garden. Even if it is just a piece of stone with my sister’s name itched into it, it is there as a reminder that she lived, loved, and touched a part of our hearts. Her memory will live on forever.
So how will I get my joy back at this time?
The same question can be asked for people every where that are struggling at this time, as I know I am not the only one having trouble during the holiday season. There is a young man, close to our family, that is struggling after losing his granddaddy a few short months ago. His pain is still fresh and new, as I believe this is the first holiday season they have had without this very special member of their family. There are others that have lost valued friends, and they are trying to cope as well. I know another gentleman that lost his mother and sister, so I imagine his pain is great during this holiday season, although he won’t mention it. A lot of people internalize their pain, holding it close to them, while others are afraid to acknowledge it for fear of it hurting more if they do. Others will eventually speak about their loss, but the majority of the time, people will suffer in silence and try to deal with their pain alone.
For me, I am choosing to reflect on the good times and the wonderful memories I have of my sister. To take back my joy and push this blue funk cloud right on out of here, I am choosing to reminisce about the time I took my sister to Folly Beach. She wasn’t one to frequent beaches, as her milky white skin reflected. On the off chance that she would, she returned looking like a lobster. Yet, on this particular day, she wanted to go with me to the beach, and so I took her to one of my favorite beaches of all time. There, I watched my sister smile, deep from her soul, as she jumped the waves that were crashing in. I can still see her standing with her back against the waves, feeling self conscious at first, allowing them to move her slightly forward as she resisted against their strength. Finally, she gave in and allowed the child within to play, jumping each wave as they rushed in.
Now, each time that I’m tempted to focus on her absence, I will, instead, try really hard to focus my attention on fond memories I hold close to my heart of her. I encourage anyone else who is struggling to find joy this holiday season to do the same.
Your loved one would not want you sitting around crying over them. Instead, they would want you out and about enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season. So, go. Get out of that chair, leave the gloomy room in your house where you sit and overthink things, analyzing it until you feel worse … and focus on having fun in their honor. Talk to them along the way, or even comment in the presence of others what your loved one would have enjoyed about the activity that you’re sharing with them. Or do something to celebrate their life. Don’t focus on how they died (which is really hard in my case, since my sister committed suicide). Instead, focus on how they LIVED!
To those missing loved ones this holiday season, I’m right there with you. But, we have to turn this sad sack train around and jump on the Polar Express to happier times, even if that is by taking a stroll down memory lane each time our thoughts derail.
Thank you, Hope, for inviting me to join in. While I’m almost certain this isn’t what you had in mind when you invited me, thank you for allowing me to write what has been troubling my heart. Now that I have acknowledged it and shifted my focus, I will pray for God’s peace and joy as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in just a few weeks.
Before there was Christmas music all around, I was listening to Chris Tomlin’s Christmas CD Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship.
This album just released on October 23, 2015, and I had it playing at work shortly thereafter. Music relaxes me while I work, and what better way to go about your day than with worship music floating out of the speakers on my desk?!
I’ve been a fan of Chris Tomlin for a long time, often using songs for our praise and worship interpretive dances when I was the director at our church a few years ago. Chris Tomlin always brings about a worshipful experience in the way he presents the songs. From the music to the words ushering us into God’s holy presence, any time you listen to Chris Tomlin, you will feel like it has been a worshipful experience. His Christmas music is no different!
If you would like a copy of his latest Christmas CD, now is your chance to enter our giveaway!
Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller/FlyBy Productions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
We all go through difficult times when we feel lost and that there is no hope. I have been through that many times in my life. Occasionally God sends us something that renews our hope and spirit. Something that touches our lives in ways we can never forget. Each year as the holiday season begins, I am always reminded of one of those times when God sent a special gift our way; a Christmas Angel.
It was my sophomore year in high school. My parents had been divorced for five years. Things were difficult for mom as she had two growing kids to feed and clothe with only a small child support check to help out every two weeks. Mom worked two jobs and I was working one day a week to help with the household expenses. But as sometimes happen, that fall several things needed repair and that put mom behind with all the bills.
As the holidays approached, with no knowledge of what was going on, my sister and I began to decorate the house as usual in anticipation of the wonder of the Christmas season. Mom had signed us up to create banners to be hung in church each Sunday in Advent. It was a wonderful family project where the three of us would gather around the dining room table on Saturday night to come up with ideas for a banner to go with the scripture lesson that Sunday.
It was the second week of Advent and we were around the table talking about ideas for that week’s banner. Julia and I noticed something didn’t seem right with the way mom was acting. After about a half an hour of trying to come up with an idea for the banner, mom sat us down and told us that there wasn’t any money for the holidays that year. Things were so bad that we were in danger of having the gas and electric turned off. Mom started to cry and held the both of us for a while. There was a feeling of being lost and alone with no hope for the future that was felt by all three of us.
But mom wouldn’t let that get in the way of us getting the banner for the services the next day. As we began to glue the letter and symbols on to the banner, there was a knock at the front door. It was rather late on a Saturday night, around 10pm or so, so we paused before heading to the door to see who was there. Mom opened the door, but there was no one there only an envelope that was stuck in the screen door with mom’s name on it. Mom walked out on the porch but did not see anyone.
She came back in and sat down at the table staring at the envelope for several minutes. When she finally came to open it, she found $300 inside. There was no note; just cash. We all sat there in silence. God had brought us a gift delivered by an angel. We never found out who the person was or where the money came from. Mom was able to pay the bills and provide us with a nice holiday dinner with the money in the envelope. There were no gift for us that year. But that didn’t matter. We were safe and provided for by God’s spirit and the thoughtfulness of an unknown stranger; a Christmas Angel.
I am sure some of you may be thinking, it’s not even Thanksgiving and you are posting about Christmas already. I am posting this now because I would like to introduce our little holiday contest. We have a gift bag full of surprises to give away during the holiday season and we just couldn’t wait to get started.
So here is how this works. Christmas is the season of giving. We run around looking for the perfect gift for those important people in our lives. Then we run some more for those office gift exchanges or Secret Santa’s we always seem to get into. What we here at Light, Love, Hope want to know is what do YOU want for Christmas; what do you REALLY want for Christmas?
We have a bag full of stocking stuffers to give away. So post your Christmas wish as a comment on our Christmas Wish page or on this post on our Facebook page. We will be picking random winners throughout the next several weeks. You have until December 15th to get your wishes posted.
To get things started, I will share with you what I really want for Christmas.
Over the years, I have been told that I am a very hard person to know what to get for Christmas. I can see how people would think that as if I see something I want I just get it for myself. My family rarely asks what I want. They know that I have a passion for popcorn, but that is the one thing they never buy for me. That is a mystery to me. I will admit much of the time I tell them that there isn’t really anything I want. That is not really a true statement. There is something that I have always wanted, but it is not something that you can buy in a store. It is something that I missed greatly from my childhood.
Each year during the holidays, we would decorate the whole house with lights and candles. We had a very nice fireplace that we would decorate with holly and lights. Each Saturday night we would light a fire in the fireplace, have only the Christmas lights on, and have Christmas music playing on the stereo. We would sit there with our Advent calendar and read the passage of the day in front of the fire. We then just sit by fire for the evening listening to all the wonderful Christmas melodies playing softly in the background. I miss that a lot.
So here is what I would really like for Christmas. I would like to spend an evening with someone sitting with some music playing (a fire in a fireplace would be nice but not necessary ) who would let me lean my head on their shoulder and hold their hand. That is it. That is all I want.
Do you experience it, too? The after Christmas blues?
You know what I’m talking about.
There is so much hype leading up to Christmas Day. This year the stores started bringing out Christmas decorations in October! People joked on Facebook that it was Hallothanksmas because Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas items were filling the store at around the same time! There was no time to focus on just one occasion. They just went straight into the big holidays when we were buying costumes and candy for the big night of Trick-or-Treating!
After counting the loot with bags full of candy on Halloween, there was a brief mention of Thanksgiving, but the main focus was Christmas … shelves were lined with Christmas ornaments, wreaths, trees, etc.
Then we started hearing Christmas carols on the radio, and it just seemed to lift our spirits.
Things are better when everyone is getting in the Christmas spirit. People are nicer! They are more patient and kind during the holiday season.
Then, suddenly, Christmas comes and goes … and we’re left with the after Christmas blues.
I sit here, after getting my house back in order, admiring the nice tiny nooks and crannies of my house where just yesterday sat lots of Christmas decorations, our tree with the shiny white lights and ornaments that meant something to us all and signified memories in our lives with our children. There were mangers scenes in another corner as my daughter couldn’t just have one, she had to have two this year. And then, who could forget our snowman! I absolutely adore snowmen, and we had a lit one indoors just because I love them so much.
Now … all is quiet … and clean … spic-n-span …
And the after Christmas blues set in.
Because the special-ness of the season has come to a close.
People will be returning to work on Monday, December 29th, and will lose the loving kindness they displayed leading up to Christmas day.
Now, I realize that not everyone will fall into this category, but the vast majority will. And that saddens me.
I don’t want to lose the special-ness of Christmas. I don’t want it to go away. I want it to last longer …
And it can.
Will you carry the way you felt leading up to Christmas with you long after the season has come to an end?
More people need this feeling all through the year, not just for a few short weeks or a month even.
Christmas needs to last … and it can, if we carry it in our hearts all year through.