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Category Archives: Christmas

15 Minute Art Challenge ~ Luke 2:6-16

This week’s 15 Minute Art Challenge was definitely a challenge.  It’s sort of difficult to get a picture out of your head and on to paper in 15 minutes from a large selection of verses…

So… I grabbed the highlights of the scripture reading and used pen and paper then linked them up at:

http://mavisdavis.wordpress.com/ 

Luke 2:6-16

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

Luke 2: 6-16

 

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15 Minute Art Challenge ~ Isaiah 9:6

Ok, so I was getting all creative this week and I felt really excited about drawing with colored pencils this morning.

Um, so that drawing?  It’s in the trash … some things work well in colored pencils – dark colors just don’t work well – yet.

So, a drawing pen and the sketchbook and a few new doodles for embellishments that I’m learning and finding that I like to draw.  Like, over and over.

Did I mention I’m REALLY NEW at this????

Our scripture verse was one of my absolute FAVORITES… In fact I sing it all the time and so did Mom

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will

be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9 6 drawing

 

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Five Minute Friday ~ Reflect

On Fridays… we “shush” the inner critic and run amok with our words.  Allowing to exercise our free-flowing words with a word prompt from our fearless community leader Lisa Jo Baker.  Then we join together and encourage each other – kind of like a Flashmob for Writers.

www.lisajobaker.com

Reflect

At my age, and with all the places I’ve been and with all the people I’ve met there is always something to reflect upon in my mind.

Many times those reflections are from the happiest of occasions.  Especially at Christmas.

It happens the minute the tree comes out of the box.  It doesn’t have to be strung with lights or decorated … it’s just a signal to my family and me to reflect on the best place we’ve ever lived

~ Giebelstadt, Germany ~

Giebelstadt Zobelschloss

Zoebel -Schloss

There isn’t a single bit of those three years of living there that doesn’t bring happy thoughts and reflections.  And as the calendar pages turn … and it’s 2013 … I can hardly believe that we moved back to the United States in 2002.

ELEVEN years??? Really??? It was just yesterday to us.

Shopping downtown in the cold, brisk air.  Carrying and eating our warm, carmelized almonds or stopping for brats.

That wonderful song from the Sound of Music – My Favorite Things?  We really did love those brown paper packages tied up with strings!  And sometimes those strings had a handle on them – because that’s how you shopped …

Snow Fun  Berchtesgaden, DE

I could go on and on reflecting on the food, the fun, the long and sunny Summer days, and the darkest of Winter nights.  But it was more than that … it was the warmest, homiest place on earth and every Christmas, we dream and remember and smile.

Grüß Gott – A farewell salutation meaning God greets you

 

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Grandma’s House and the Big Flood

The coffee is just short of too hot to drink, but I sip it anyway.  I’m not too crazy about the flavor.  But when Dad dips Grandma’s sugary molasses cookie into his cup – I know it’s for me.  I’m very little and sitting on his knee and enjoying the tiny kitchen and the smells and the family time together after church.

It wasn’t long after this time in Grandma’s kitchen that our town was flooded from a devastating hurricane and their house was ruined and needed to be torn down.  They stayed with us, and eventually we moved what was left of their belongings into their new home.

Dad and Me

Grandma and Me

Somehow my grandparents got very old after that memory.  They seemed more crabby and gloomy after that.  They moved into a nice little ranch house complete with a cozy, little eat-in-kitchen, but I remember, things just felt different.  Everything felt new there.  The carpet, the walls, the bathroom fixtures, even the concrete floor in the basement.  It just didn’t “match” with my grandparents… It just wasn’t “their” house.  It was a radical change.  It seemed too modern for such a turn-of-the-century set of grandparents.

In the next few years we would celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and soon after that my grandfather would pass away.  I remember sitting on my Dad’s lap and feeling him cry.  It hurts when you lose a parent.  I know.  I really know too well now that both my Mom and my Dad are gone.

At some point in our lives – in our marriages, or in our family relationships – something brings about change.  It can be a major upheaval, like natural a disaster, job loss or a death of a loved-one.  Small things happen too, and if not handled properly, they can bring drastic and unexpected changes also.

For some of us – it’s at this major turning point in our lives – that the changes grow us and make us different.  For the better OR for the worse.  It may begin small and almost not perceivable, but the change occurs nonetheless.  And the biggest surprise of all???  It can happen AT ANY AGE.

We don’t always have a choice in the fact that we will experience these upheavals, but we do have the ability to direct how we will allow them to influence us.  It can make us BETTER or make us BITTER.

I’ve allowed many things to make me bitter, but I am never going to be too old to re-direct that into some thing better.  I understand all this better today as I finish this blog than I did when I started writing it in the beginning of May – this year (2013).

**I had to clearly identify the upheaval in my life – it can be a little deceiving where the roots of the problems lie…

**I had to figure out how it had changed me in a negative way, and of course, how it was affecting others.  That is usually where we throw our bitterness.  It may grow inside of us, but it spreads like the plague onto others.

Bitterness and all the mess that comes out of it can come from our circumstances – but it’s also inside of us.  We each have a little piece of it.  I’d identify this as original sin.  We need just the right formula to get the black bitterness to grow.

We have the ability to nourish and feed bitterness and take our punches and bruises in the midst of it all and then maybe eventually wallow in self-pity.  I call that depression.  I know that area VERY WELL.

But we also have the ability to lean on the Grace and Mercy of an Everlasting God and have Him nourish our problems and show us the way through the mess – and to be BETTER on the other side of it.

No mystery here though – we will endure some sort of battle, and we will have scars.  The Devil, who is our enemy, will revel in those scars and poke them to get us back on his trail of destruction.  We must continue to stand against him… most effectively by kneeling before God as many times as needed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are hard pressed on every side,

perplexed, but not in despair;

persecuted, but not abandoned;

struck down, but not destroyed.

That scripture didn’t feel real to me a few months ago …

I felt the despair.

I felt destroyed.

I did not, however, feel ABANDONED … In other words, I never COMPLETELY believed ALL of Satan’s lies.

Satan’s lies are like reeds in a basket that are tightly woven.  Those lies and the defeat that they bring upon us are somewhat waterproof and impenetrable.

2 Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in jars of clay

to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

After many devotions on broken-ness that I have read lately, I believe that being broken is a powerful thing.  And that God uses that broken-ness to show His power.  His power pours out of that clay easier than that tightly woven basket that Satan would have us live in.

In other words?  Jars of clay have cracks and imperfections and they sort of break easily and are more open.

Tightly woven baskets can be symbolic of a closed-off and controlled life that God can’t use very well.

There are some big lies out there.  So this lesson isn’t just for me.  And I don’t have a grip on all of it some days.

Because it’s easier to lie down and take the punches.

It’s easier to accept defeat.

But God desires more than that.  He CAN and WILL pick you up and help you dust yourself off and show you how to realign with him …

To be used by Him …

For His Glory …

Because Satan is a liar and a thief and he is already defeated.  Enough said.

I’d LOVE to share another recipe with you… This one is for a molasses cookie that literally reminded me of my Grandmother’s cookies.  I hope you will try them and enjoy them.  Maybe they will evoke memories of your childhood as well! 

Giant Ginger Cookies

(make them small, or they take forever to cook inside)

 

Ingredients
4-1/2    cups all-purpose flour
4     teaspoons ground ginger
2    teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2    teaspoons ground cinnamon
1    teaspoon ground cloves
1/4    teaspoon salt
1-1/2    cups shortening
2    cups granulated sugar
2   eggs
1/2    cup molasses
3/4    cup coarse sugar or granulated sugar

***********************************************************************

DirectionsCombine dry ingredientsBeat shortening on low for 30 seconds to   softenGradually add the 2 Cups of granulated   sugar

Beat in eggs and molasses

Gradually add as much of the dry   ingredients with mixer

Add the rest of dry and mix with wooden   spoon

Shape dough into balls

Roll balls into the 3/4 Cup granulated   sugar

Place 2+ inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet

 

Bake at 350 for 12 – 14 minutes

Cool for 2 minutes, remove and cool on rack

 
 

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Advent – Reflections on Love

advent wreath week 4

Love.  Isn’t that the really ooey-gooey feeling you have when you first meet the man of your dreams?

Love.  Isn’t that the way your heart melts when you hold that new baby of yours?

Love.  Isn’t that a card covered in pasted paper hearts that hangs on your frig till it’s dusty?

Love.  Isn’t that the bouquet of roses he gave me when we couldn’t afford them?

Love is all of those things, but there’s more.

When I asked about thoughts on love around my house, I heard some wonderful answers.  Talk about some loving individuals…I can hardly believe a few of those opinions came from my children that I raised…considering all the mistakes I’ve made with my limited parenting skills.

Ideas like: 

Unconditional – a willingness to give up your life to save someone else.

Caring through medical means or by making someone a meal.

Doing something nice for someone who does not have the capabilities to do it for themselves.

Wow!  I am in awe of such mature ideas and the best part is that I’ve seen them in action first-hand.

1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us.

That is where it started and it’s how we know what Love is…

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13 Tells us that…

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

13 And now these three remain:  faith hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

John 3:16-17

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Love is about the Son of God, stretching out his arms on a cross, reaching as far as they will possibly go and saying “This is how much I love you.”

THAT is the best Love I could ever ask for!

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Christmas

 

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Advent – Reflections on Joy

advent wreath week 3

John 15: 9-11

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love. 

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Joy, by definition, is a source or cause of delight

Joy – fulfilled by obedience, completed in love.  A spirit-filled, God-given gift.

The pages of my bible concordance are filled with topics that are alphabetically poised at the top of each page.  As I flip through looking for joy, I see the subject of joy on every page.

Contentment, judgement, useful, understanding, training, tested, surrounded, purity.  These words jump out at me as I see difficult words like judgement and pleasant words like proclaiming.  All these opportunities and promising words that guide us through to joy.  A complete joy – found in a life lived for our God, our Creator.

Psalm 5: 11    But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.

Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

May the joy of the LORD be found in you this week!

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Christmas

 

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Saturday’s Sweetness

cookies 2 cookies 1

Oh, the smell…and the warmth!!  My kitchen is a Christmastime delight.  It wasn’t about writing or reading today – nothing came to my mind, or needed to be said when I went to my writing space.  There was, however, a ball of dough wrapped like a gift in my fridge waiting … waiting to be warmed, kneaded, floured and rolled.  Oh, and cut, with the cute little cutters that have been waiting on my counter all week!  The sweet smell wafting from the oven, the timer chiming repeatedly, the rolling, cutting, and placing them on the cookie sheet, all in a sweet dance back and forth about the kitchen.

It was about me, in the kitchen, feeling pain in my neck and simultaneously feeling an exceedingly warm joy inside my soul.  I had arrived – my appointed time and place to make cookies – finally!  It might seem trivial, but on some days this is declared as a major accomplishment in my mind.  Doing something I love to do, regardless of my body’s limitations that nag at me.

Making the kitchen my focus, I listened to Christmas music and ruminated in my mind over the box of old pictures that arrived in yesterday’s mail.  The box contained a collection of photographs which are the last of the parental household belongings that needed to be divided and sent out to my siblings and myself.  Pictures that brought great memories of childhood, birthdays, holidays, old friends and family members.  Priceless memories.

So, somewhere in the midst of this “cookie day” focus in my kitchen, I had time to reflect in the quiet and realize this cookie day tradition was absorbed from my husband’s family.  A merging of family memories and traditions into my own personal household on this day, made me smile.  A deep, fulfilling joy in my soul, which smelled a lot like sugar cookies, was greatly present.

I had to have my hands busy to activate my mind to write what’s on my soul.  Where’s a picture that shows you the flour on my hands, pen and page?  It’s literally here, all over my notebook and on my apron and all over the counter.  It’s sweetness that is being dripped, poured out, measured and flung around till it escapes from my soul through my hand, into the pen and onto the paper…

Tomorrow I will remind myself to “have courage to write, have the courage to remember the memories that seem too difficult to handle, and to have courage to do the things that need to be done.”  Tomorrow will be another opportunity to leave behind a memory or a tradition for my children and their families that are still yet to be…

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2012 in Christmas

 

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