Christmas My Favorite Things Tag

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a tag. What a great idea this one is! Such a joy to concentrate on a few of the things that mean so much to me this time of year!

Many thanks to dear Bethany at Flowers on the Dashboard!

The rules are as follows:

Share the original post, which I see comes from another dear blogging friend, Matt at Jesus Luvs All:

Christmas My Favorite Things Tag

Then:

Use any Christmas theme picture:

Perhaps one of the best moments of any Christmas moment. The reminder from the wise little Linus of what Christmas is all about.

Share your favorite things for each category.

Tag whoever you wish.

So…ok. First up:

Food:Ah, food, glorious food! I have so many loves in this area! Being a baker, cookies, brownies, and breads of all sorts are high on my list. Fudge is also a major love of mine. Add cashews and I am even happier! 😊

Decorations:

Ours are not elaborate, by any means. But, there is great sentimental value. I’d call them a happy mishmash of things collected and made from childhood on.

This is one of my favorite areas. Our beloved Nutcracker collection.:

My oldest boy fell in love with the Nutcracker ballet when he went to a production for a Kindergarten field trip and we started collecting.

It has long been his job to arrange them, but, being in college this year, he passed the mantle to my youngest. This is what he came up with. He added several friends, as you can see. 😊

Song:

Ah, another beloved area! So many…”O, Holy Night” comes to mind, as well as “O, Come, O Come Emmanuel”. And when they start up “Hark, the Herald, Angels Sing” at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, I never fail to shed happy tears. 🙂

When to open presents:

Oof. Believe it or not, a mildly sore point. Let me explain.

When I was growing up, I seem to recall the whole idea of surprises faded away rather quickly in favor of taking my brother and me to the store to pick out our own things early on in the season. My mom maintained she never knew what to get us and saw no sense in us waiting.

I guess it had its merits-very few icky sweaters to unwrap and try to give a convincing smile for. Lots of things I knew I’d use and got to enjoy right away.

Yet, there was also that deflating feeling on Christmas day of waking up to nothing to open and no thrill of someone else knowing just what I wanted, or at least making the attempt to know. A killjoy in many ways indeed.

So…ahem.Enough of that. This is supposed to be a lighthearted post.

Suffice to say, surprises for my kids are really important to me. And I admit, I still look forward to one or two myself. 🙂We stick to traditional buying for one another in secret, wrapping them up, and opening one on Christmas Eve, the rest on Christmas Day. Such a joyous thing!

People to visit:

Well, of course, this year, much has changed. But, then, I have weathered a few changes in my day. There was my single mother days of playing Santa to my little sprouts on my own. We usually hung out quietly with my mom and dad. They were still in Kansas then, in an apartment about 40 steps from ours, in fact. Beautiful, peaceful years of forging new joys beyond the times of hurt.

Then, there was the year of inviting a new member to our little group when I remarried and discovering he came from a family of cousins upon cousins, aunts and uncles galore. Over eight years later, I still don’t know the half of them. Now, we typically do Thanksgiving with my parents and Christmas with (at least a chunk of) my husband’s large family. It was quite a jolt those first few years and still a somewhat daunting task for a very shy, retiring sort like me.

But, this year, it’s back to a more intimate gathering of just our little family. A bit of a melancholy due to the reasons this day and age presents us and a pang at missing members. And, yet, there is that joy of sharing together as a family that remains and the loveliness of peace in the quieter atmosphere. It reminds me of the stillness I imagine there must have been that night the world awaited the birth of a Savior. 🙂 Which leads me perfectly into…

Celebrating Jesus:

Ah,the pinnacle of this whole season! This whole life! Without His momentous arrival, there would be no joy, no light, no peace.

We have a Christmas Eve service every year with the younger Sunday School groups presenting a play to share the great joy of His birth and the miracle of salvation through His death and resurrection. I rejoice that through a lot of innovation mixed with the necessary caution, the way has been paved for a version of this tradition to go on. It is one of my supreme joys in this season to watch our young share the Good News.

We also sit down and read the Christmas story from Luke as a family before tucking in for the night. I love the reminder of what all this celebrating is about. May we ever remember. 😊

And to all this, I can think of one category I simply must add, as this is an area I look forward to each year:

Movies:

Well, obviously, I have a fondness for Charlie Brown Christmas, but the movie that ties is “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

No movie so captures the struggle we can have in this life with feeling a failure or the shock and the joy of knowing the unexpected impact we can have. It reminds me yearly of the intense value He sees in us, in spite of us. 😊

Ok…so…nominations:

Linda Lee at A Blog About Healing From PTSD

Alan at Fuel for the Race

Mandy at Blue Collar Theologian

And, really, anyone that reads and feels so inspired!

Thanks for reading my sizable spiel here and Merry, Blessed Christmas, my friends!

There is Always Jesus

Hey, there, dear friends! School is complete for the semester and working on getting my brain in gear for exploring beloved words again.

This is just a little snippet that popped in my head. The phrase “There is always Jesus.” came to soothe my anxious heart in a downtrodden moment and it grew from that to a few simple lines I wanted to encourage you with as this uncertain path we’re on continues to unfold...

December.

As I survey the sustained chaos this month brings,

A few thoughts skitter and timelessness rings:

December.

A season of deepening chill,

A season of sweetest joy.

Flip on the screen these days

And ugly rancor rolls unabated;

Christmas or no,

It’ll still swiftly give you its fill….🙄

Ah, but turn to the truth of His Word

And find unblemished peace and love

To miraculously pour into the aching void…

For, there is always Jesus, friends,

Whatever scrolls across our lives and our feeds.

Blessed babe come to earth, ready to receive us without end,

If only we can shed the tugs of this manic world

And to His tender, urgent call give heed…

May we indeed learn when to shut off the screens, open our Bibles, and give heed to His call! Where this world will soon pass away, seeking Him while we may is our life and breath! Blessings and prayers to you, dear friends! May you each know the incomparable joy of this season! 😊❤

What’s in a Name?

Inspired by our ever changing society and the way we as humans grab at the “quick fix” and forget to seek real change through Christ.

Much ado is being made today

On the subject of branding and mascots,

As we squirm in the spotlight

Of our less-than-exemplary days.

Fiddling with age-old monikers,

Wielding a heavy broom at the past,

Banishing chapter and verse,

Seeking to make vanish

Anything remotely troubling-and fast!

Understandable? Well, yes, I can get the desperate acts of contrition.

Yet, I feel compelled to express this cautionary addition…

What exactly is in a name?,

(As wise old Will might say.)

To be sure, some rightly evoke

Centuries of grief and plenty of pain.

And it’s certainly not that I stand

Stubbornly in the camp

That such words should forever remain…

But, still, I find I must also say-

All this panicked wiping away does

No earthly good

If the heart forgets to further pursue

What it should!

For, you can change a name all you desire,

Take a scrubbing brush to history,

Sand out the surfaces of blame,

And hope ugliness will expire.

You might even extend a

Well-versed,

Expertly rehearsed apology.

But, none will ever wash the years of shame

Nor fix a broken philosophy-

Especially if we allow ourselves to plunge from one dissonance to another,

Refusing to embrace the opportunity afforded

By the Lord to lift us

From opposing forces to brother.

For what we ought to ask,

Perhaps,

Is- what’s in His name?

Meekness.

Power.

The ability to bless.

The sin-cleansing shower.

What’s in His name?

Well, friends, that’s called change.

Real change and healing.

And only in Him will ever come the

Much-needed, ever-alleviating rain.

Oh, nothing can ever replace that feeling!

May we seek after that real change in a world addicted to quick fixes. Blessings and prayers, friends! Thanks for reading! ❤

Peace Personified

I was going to save this for Christmas Eve, but, much as I love the fellowship I have found here, I honestly want to be more mindful in the moment versus being on WordPress as the special day draws near, so I thought I would slip this in a little early…

Anticipation.

Air is hushed with it tonight.

Every limb lays still.

Moon provides a gentle glow, yet bright.

Starry hosts pinpoint velvet heights,

A gathering of God’s light upon the silent fields.

Creation to the moment quietly builds,

Humming all the truth it knows.

Festivities there have been;

Festivities are yet to come.

Busy buzzes as only busy does.

But, when I pause, I join in the knowing…

I can hear the whispered

Reminder of

A promise fulfilled,

A cover over my wretched owing.

And darkest deed comes undone.

Redemption’s born,

Peace is personified.

Veils tremble, ready to be torn,

Word in flesh nestled in a manger,

Wholly humble,

Wholly king,

Wholly unable to be

Denied.

The whole earth sighs relief

As an answer arrives at long last

For its grief, and

Fresh chance for belief

Is birthed at last to the broken

Soul.

Christmas, a celebration:

Christ inhabits a newborn babe

To inhabit us anew

And in us let His peace unfold…

Merry Christmas, dear friends! May we be filled with the wonder of anticipation, the celebration of Jesus come to earth, the joy of redemption, and the promise of peace fulfilled. Much love and many prayers!

Weakness Tops Strength

I have a bigger, fancier nativity scene thanks to one of those awesome garage sale buys, but this tiny one predates it, taking me back to the struggling days of single motherhood. We had a little apartment, therefore little decorations suited. I still put it out as a reminder of what He can do with small things. Thought a picture of it here also suited perfectly. ☺

I have recently been dealing with one of the really not-so-thrilling sides of my physical woes.

Not that any are thrilling, mind you. 😏

And, oh, how I hate talking about it!

But, we’ve established I go where He directs, so…

We’ll start here:

There are so, so many components to EDS, several of which I deal with to varying degrees. And every case has it’s own face on it.

But, this particular struggle I am most coping with presently begins with a rude awakening in the night. My head has somehow shifted from its much needed, princess-and-the-pea style propped position and plunged itself into a violently swimming vortex via my inner ear fritzes.

It’s really but a few moments of vertigo. It feels a little foolish at times to be so frightened of it. However, it is intense enough I find myself scrambling for something stable to grab onto.

Usually it’s my dear slumbering husband who has been through this with me enough times to respond with tenderness, even in his half-awake state, along with a tight grip of his own to let me know he’s got me.

In this way, he also lets me know that I’m not really falling off the edge of the world, even though it feels like it at the time.

It’s much appreciated, let me tell you! Everyone needs a solid rock to cling to when the earth is shaking.

And, as I sit here in the aftermath of day-long malaise, weak as a newborn colt, body and brain still unsure of my every movement, I am reminded of how much this reflects the Christian life.

Didn’t necessarily feel like writing, but I’ll use it.

Scratch that-I’ll allow God to use it. 🙂

There are times-lots of times-when we feel like we are about the weakest, silliest thing in creation.

Powerless to make a move.

But, that is when we must remember He who chose to come down to earth to inhabit a fragile newborn vessel.

To further inhabit us with His perfect wisdom and strength when ours is gone.

It’s not a Christmas verse, per se, but I think on it now in that He didn’t come in the imposing frame anticipated by us finite folks, a fact which I love:

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:27 NIV

If ever a verse lifts my scrawny little soul, this is one.

The truth we cannot do it in our own pitiful power sounds so negative to the pull-it-up-by-your-own-bootstraps world, but, truly, it’s just… freeing!

Because, to acknowledge we aren’t supposed to be able to do this on our own is what can ultimately provide us with authentic, lasting strength.

And the realization He can yet use us if we but take all these pathetic scraps we possess to Him is nothing short of incredible!

It’s a marvel, but, you know, the more I know the Lord, the more I see it is to His express delight to take the outwardly unexceptional and breathe the breath of life into it.

To reach out His steadying hand to those of us who wobble.

And speak the comfort that needs no words:

No, my child, you aren’t falling off the edge of the world. I’ve got you. All you’ve got to do is hold onto Me.

Blessings and prayers, friends! May you rest in His strength this season and always!