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Tag Archives: Christmas

Rusty Can Be a Beautiful Thing

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So the words went here originally and I pressed all the right buttons but somehow I had a tagline that I didn’t like and Poof, the words were gone.

That’s alright though.  I can look at this picture and tell you that rust accompanies beautiful objects in the desert.  Turquoise and rust seem to go together everywhere I look when I’m in the southwest.  I yearn to touch the rust and walk past the artistic structures that oxidize on purpose all over town.  I yearn to dwell in the desert.

On this vacation though, I yearned to be home.  I was ready to be back on the airplane, sleep in our apartment, decorate for Christmas, see my girls, hike my trails and bake some cookies.  It took 14 years to call this part of the South my home.  But I finally did.

There’s lots of green here.  Lots of trees and some big hills and waterfalls and trails that I love and places that I know I’ll hike soon and I’ll love those hills too….  And my girls are here – all 3 of them – and that’s why they say Home is where the Heart is…

But I still love rust and turquoise … and creosote, cactus, sky islands, lizards, and the sun …

 

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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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15 Minute Art Challenge

I’m just a little late getting an artful drawing out this week to link up with MavisDavis.com but today I finally had time to sit and be still and just draw.

I had 2 minutes to spare after using the colored pencils so I did it in ink too…

I’m enjoying this immensely and like to hang these on my wall to see.  My crafters brain wants to be more artistic… so this is really helping.

This weeks verse is Luke 1:26-38.  Verse 34 stood out the most to me..

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

madonna 2  madonna

 

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The Holiday Season ~OR~ Hold On To Your Hats!

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Take a deep breath ~ Relax

You are about to have an imperfect holiday season.  Trust me.

Are you ready?  Are you all geared up?

Before the extra Halloween candy is bought and dispersed and consumed..

{the panic and the rush begin}

I know this because I’m really adept at observing the junk mail and the internet.  My mailbox has been filling with innocuous flyers and the news has begin to whisper the dreaded words of “Early Holiday Shopping”

{Run, Run NOW!}

~I’m going to apologize here and now – this might become a rant of sorts~

Have we all become stark-raving mad?  (Rhetorical question, of course)

In a season of thankfulness, how can we possibly be thankful and enjoy ourselves when we feel the pressure coming on as we start filling our calendars with?? …

office parties

ornate meals

gift purchasing and giving

church decorating

home decorating

mailing cards

school plays

church plays

extra choir music, rehearsals and performances

We really have to “pick our battles” here… or where we can best spend our time or things can get out of hand…and everyone ends up tired or aggravated or both.

**I’ll take a pause right here**

  **A quick sanity check if I might**

I would have gotten this written and finished last week except I had to add an emergency to all those things that HAVE to be done because the refrigerator broke.  (and of course, it involved WATER leaking)

I quickly shopped and found a new one.  It was delivered today while I was trying to do laundry.  (I’m purposely ignoring that last, wet, heap in the washer right now that beckons me to hang it up)

Now I’m tired.  Mostly for having to remove and replace all my magnets.  The food too, although I had “HELP” from the kids.  Thank goodness they are off this week and underfoot – how else would I know it was almost Thanksgiving???

**Another sanity check**

Did I mention that a change in plans means I’ll be shopping for {last minute} and cooking Thanksgiving dinner?  I am, and I just found out last night.  It’ll be ok, the kids said I could drink the sparkling grape juice while we cook together.

I think I need a blood pressure check, or perhaps I could just have an anxiety attack now, before the stress induces it?  I mean, if we are scheduling things for every day… why not an anxiety attack?

Please don’t get me wrong here … I love the holiday season -Thanksgiving AND Christmas.  I enjoy feasts and gifts and spending the day in the pajamas if necessary.  I really love letting loose and playing games all day or building with Legos.

I enjoy decorating a tree and adding extra lights around the house to take the edge off of the dark evenings.  And lighted garland?  Oh, I wish I could hang it everywhere – or even better…get some of the real stuff that emits that lovely {real} pine aroma.

But I’m tired.  Already.

Just thinking about some of the holiday stress of the past gives me a case of the “vapors.”

Thankfully, I gave up that list a few years ago.  I learned that if we were going to squeeze in family time, it had to come first.  And I mean – only relatives living under this roof – usually.  Because those days of having them sleep, shower, and eat here  – those days are seriously running short.

And when I began to focus on salt dough ornaments, or sugar cookie baking here at home… the importance of family drew very precious.  Next thing you know, we were making cookie dough from scratch instead of the refrigerated kind.  It tastes so much better and it’s worth the extra time.

My advice?  Pick your events wisely.  Go about your activities with a good attitude and less rush and those memories will last longer in everyone’s mind.  Seriously…Take a DEEP BREATH before you grab the keys and the casserole.  There will be way more smiles, laughs and silliness to look back upon for years to come.  And occasionally some really goofy gifts and weird food.

I’d like to share an excellent recipe for sugar cookies … be sure to make this ahead of time and that way you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and take it out when you are ready to make the cookies – even a week later!

Sugar Cookies – shaped or dropped

1 ½ Cup confectioners’ sugar

1 Cup butter

1 Egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp almond extract

2 ½ Cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

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Cream Sugar and Butter with mixer

Add Egg and Mix until blended

Add Extracts and Mix until blended

Combine dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar

Add dry ingredients gradually into Wet mixture

Roll into large ball and wrap in plastic wrap

**Chill minimum 3 hours****Can prepare Days Ahead**

Set dough out for about 30 minutes

Flour surface and work chunks of dough until soft

 Roll out and Cut (not too thin)

Lightly grease cookie sheets

 *Bake in Oven at 375°  10-12 minutes

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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Holidays, Life, in general

 

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Advent – Reflections on Love

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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

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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

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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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Advent – Reflections on Peace

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Peace

Language and English skills are funny, especially homonyms.  When you hear the word peace – without any context clues – you could picture all sorts of things.

Piecework, as in quilting

A piece of pie (yum)

Or how about pièce de résistance?  Ok, so maybe French isn’t on EVERYONE’s mind!

And then there’s Peace during the holiday season, which brings the thoughts of peace on earth, good will to men. 

The days drawing close to Christmas in America don’t often reflect peace or quiet.  But, when we lived in Germany, towns stopped, shut down, and became totally motionless – even quicker than usual if there was snow coming down.  Our last Christmas in Germany was exactly like that – but rarely does that occur here.  Even if there’s a huge snowfall, eventually there will be the noise of a snowplow.

But this particular Christmas of 2001, found us experiencing a full-blown blizzard in the late afternoon on the 23rd of December.  We had spent the afternoon out with friends and as we traveled home, the snow blew and drifted across the B-19 highway.  It was a slow, creeping drive home, but thankfully we made a safe arrival.

Anybody could clearly see it was snowing hard and piling up, but it made no difference to the Germans because they were officially on holiday and wouldn’t be plowing anything.  Their Christmas celebrations would begin the next day on the 24th – steeped in Catholic, Protestant, and local traditions alike.

So, the snow fell silently.  The cars that sat parked on the street, began disappearing in the fast-falling flakes.  It was like a blanket of soft peace was being layered over every home.  Occasionally you could hear the muffled sound of a sidewalk being cleared by a lone shovel…

If you stepped outside, homes with lit windows glowed warm and inviting.  Families were together and everyone was where they needed to be.  It was time for everyone to enjoy their privacy and no one left home that night. 

When I reflect back to that December evening, I feel a stirring and a longing in my soul to keep that image of peace and stillness in my thoughts each day.  It truly is a peace which transcends all understanding… Phillipians 4:17a. 

Hopefully, as I grow in my walk with God, I will allow that peace to reside fully in me each day.  Like the warm, quiet, peaceful blanket of a Christmas snow.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Christmas, Life, in general

 

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