As I sit here, lap top propped on my knees, I’m staring out the window near my bed. It is snowing. Actually it is coming down fairly quickly. It was gray this this afternoon when the family got home from church. When I was fixing lunch it was barely spitting snow. After lunch I was in the bedroom for just a few minutes and when I returned to the kitchen I saw a winter wonderland outside! How did that happen? And how did it happen so fast?

What is it about snow that is so lovely? The softness of it? The quiet stillness that the snow brings with it? The way that it blankets the ground and covers up the brown, winter ugly, ground? When it snows the outside becomes a fairy land….where everything seems crisp and still. The snow makes a bluish haze as the light of the day begins to wane.

Sure, I know snow can be a nuisance when one has to shovel it, or when one has to get out of the driveway after the snow plow has gone through and blocked you in. When the dogs pee on it and stain it yellow, or when it gets tracked inside to make puddles all over the laundry room floor….then it can be a pain. BUT, I’m not thinking about that now.  I’m choosing to ignore those things. So there.

Winter Morning Poem
by Ogden Nash

Winter is the king of showmen
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes
Smooth and clean and frosty white
The world looks good enough to bite
That’s the season to be young
Catching snowflakes on your tongue
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going

Things That Go Boom In The Night!

Early on Christmas morning I was awakened by a loud crash. When I say early, I mean exactly 3:05 am. The reason I know this is because the crash was loud enough to wake me straight out of a deep sleep, but wouldn’t you know that it didn’t seem to bother my husband at all? He slept right through it. Go figure.

I laid there for a minute listening to loud “movement” noises. It sounded like a giant was sliding on the metal roof of our house and then a LOUD crash. Scared me to death. What in the world could that be? Maybe huge, terradactyl like birds living on our roof? I didn’t recall reading about Ohio having any left over prehistoric creatures, so that idea was out.  Besides, if that were the case wouldn’t I have heard them before now?  Hmmm…..genetically altered squirrels that were playing on the roof? Santa’s reindeer? Oh no, maybe Santa slipped on our metal roof and crashed to the ground!  I did not want to be known as “the one who killed Santa”, so I peeked out my bedroom window…and just so you know, I’m not nuts. I was not thinking clearly. Did I mention it was three something in the morning? Okay, then.

Nothing so exciting. No scary birdlike creatures, no mutant squirrels, and certainly no jolly elf.  Several days earlier it had snowed at our house. We had icicles the size of swords hanging off our deck roof. It all looked so Currier and Ives. Well, in the wee hours of Christmas morning God sent us torrential rain. Nothing like Noah’s Ark kind of raining for Christmas! The ice and snow on our roof started to melt because of the pelting rain and big, glacier size pieces slid down our metal roof and WHAM! They crashed on our deck railing and the ground surrounding our deck. Just so you know…packed snow and ice can be VERY loud. Believe me. I know. At 3:05 in the morning. Ugh.

Merry Christmas:)

Mary Did You Know?

I love the song, Mary Did You Know?.  This beautiful song always reminds me that Jesus chose to leave Heaven as part of God’s perfect plan and come to this earth as a baby. He came to this world knowing that He was born to die. His life for ours. He took our place so that we could have life.

Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth. It is His entrance into this world.  Yet, we would be remiss if we only celebrated Christmas, without remembering Easter. Christ’s death and resurrection… is this event that makes the journey complete. Jesus was born, He died….but praise His name! He lives! And it is because of His sacrificial death and resurrection that we too can live!

“Mary Did You Know”

[Originally written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene]

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know.. Ooo Ooo Ooo

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

Am I The Only One?

I’m going to admit to something. You’ll probably think I’m nuts. Sometimes (okay, most of the time) I imagine what it would be like to be IN the Christmas movie. I think I’d like to live in the big old house in It’s A Wonderful Life…the one where the newel post topper keeps coming off. I believe I’d like to be a citizen of Bedford Falls and be friends with George and Mary. I want to visit the inn and celebrate a White Christmas. I want to be in Vermont when they open the barn doors and it snowing. I want to visit with Santa on 34th Street. I want to be friends with Cary Grant aka “Dudley” in The Bishop’s Wife. Wouldn’t it be neat if we could transport ourselves into a Currier and Ives print or a Christmas Norman Rockwell? Come on! Who wouldn’t love to be all snug inside the cottage in a Thomas Kinkade painting, with the snow quietly falling down outside?

No, I’m not really psychotic. I know that the scenes in the movies are straight out of Hollywood. The characters aren’t real. They are paid to act that way. I know. I know. I know. BUT, why do you think that certain Christmas movies or prints are forever in people’s hearts? I’ll tell you why. Because of how the movies or pictures make people FEEL. Family ties, blessings, friendships, memories being made, heartwarming traditions, solid values, character, and warmth.  The things in life that really matter. The things that the majority of people forget for most of the year….then Christmas rolls around and people remember again.  The majority of people are kinder at Christmas. Their spirit is different. It’s just nice.

So, tomorrow I’m having a movie marathon with my family. We’ll we watching the movies that I fell in love with years ago, while we drink our hot chocolate and eat popcorn. Making new memories and cherishing the old.  Hey…..I wonder what the weather is like in Vermont for tomorrow?

“They call me CHURA… God calls me DAUGHTER.”

Those words are Shafia’s.  Shafia was kidnapped, raped, family members killed….she lost so much. But she did not lose her faith in Jesus Christ. Her world could take everything that she had, but it could not take away her Jesus.  Scripture tells us, ” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 37-39

I got my Share Their Voice kit from Voice of the Martyrs yesterday.  Stories of Christians around the globe…modern day martyrs for their faith. Stories of Christians in China, Turkey, North Korea, and Sudan. Christians in Pakistan, and Columbia. People that are kidnapped, raped, tortured, imprisoned, lose their families, their homes….everything. Some people even lose their lives. All this because they refuse to deny Jesus Christ. Their love for Him far outweighs what mere man can do to them. When I read their stories, stories that the main stream media will never tell us, my heart cries out! Lord, forgive me in my selfishness, my excess, my ambivalence to those brothers and sisters in Christ that suffer around the world for You. I am so ashamed that it is easy to forget them as I go on with my daily life. Help me to share their stories with others, so that their voices won’t be silenced. Father, I know that You will never forget them…. that You know each of these souls intimately.

These countries are considered restricted nations: Cuba, Belarus, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Libya, Egypt, northern Sudan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Oman, U.A.E, Qatar, Kuwait, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan,  Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, China, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bhutan, Maldives and Bangladesh.  In these countries there are government policies and practices that deny Christians the ability to obtain Bibles or Christian literature, also laws against Christians that cause them to be harassed, imprisoned, killed, or deprived of their possessions or liberties because of their witness.

These countries are considered hostile areas: Chiapas (Mexico), Columbia, Turkey, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Mindanao (Philippines). These countries have large areas where governments consistently attempt to provide protection for the Christian population, but Christians are victims of violence because of their witness.

Remember the Christians in these countries mentioned. Even if you don’t know them by name, God knows them. Many times pain cannot be avoided by these warriors for the faith, but you can pray for them to have  strength and determination until their journey is done. Pray that no matter what may befall them, that they will be found faithful.

“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”  Hebrews 13: 3

A Heart Tug

Today I was out in the dining room….cleaning the house.  I was doing my usual stuff, vacuuming and dusting when I turned around and my eye was caught by the Christmas cards I’d hung around the entrance going into the kitchen.  We have lots of Christmas cards.  LOTS.  I stopped what I was doing and re-looked at the cards.  My heart was tugged and my eyes started to get moist (as my son likes to tell me happens often) as I read the messages on the cards.  This year has been a difficult year for my family. Building a house out of state, moving to a new area, totaling my car, my husband’s job loss in the midst of all this…. We’ve learned a lot this year about what it really means to depend on God to provide for all our needs. One thing that I was reminded of today while looking at the cards was how much God has truly blessed me with family and friends. Each one of the signatures on the cards lets me know that there are people in my life who love me. I am not alone. I know that we have hundreds of people all over the country–even the world, that care about us, and have been praying for us throughout this year. That in itself is a gift beyond compare.

I was worried back in the Fall that we wouldn’t have much for Christmas this year. I LOVE Christmas and was sort of depressed thinking that because of our finances we wouldn’t get to do much or give much this year.  It made me sad. But, you know what? God is good. He is good all the time, no matter what the circumstances. He already gave me the wonderful gift of His Son, which we celebrate this time of year. That alone is enough!  BUT, I believe that God knows my heart. He knows I love this time of year. He longs to bless me. As a parent I enjoy giving things to my children–how much more does God wish to do that for me…for His children? God has “gifted” me with friends who have invited us to their homes for Christmas parties and fun dinners. We have a church family that loves us and we are involved with. I have a mom who sent us a goody box filled with treats to bake throughout the holiday season, family that has sent us gifts or gift certificates so that we can get something special, also gifts for the kids. My heart is tugged when I realize I have so much!  My cup runneth over. And over. And over.

North Pole

If you have young children that still believe in Santa then this is the site for you! It really is cute.  Santa’s village has all sorts of activities going on. There is of course, the section for children…but, they have a section of recipes, stuff for teachers and parents, games, and a place to click on to learn how to make Christmas crafts. All this fun is free, which goes right along with the spending less money for the Christmas experiment thing I’ve got going on.  Have fun on your trip north!

Christmas In Historic Rugby

I lived in Tennessee for 23 years.  Though I was not a native of that state (having been born and raised in Maryland) I grew to love it. Tennessee became my home and it will always hold a special place in my heart. One of my favorite things to do was to visit Rugby, TN. during one of the first two weekends in December. Rugby was a good couple of hours from my home in Knoxville…but well worth the drive.  Unless one knows about Rugby it is sort of difficult to find. As you wind your way through the mountains of east Tennessee, you head towards the Cumberland Plateau.  I remember driving on a two lane road through a forest of trees, when suddenly it opens up and there you are in Rugby. Rugby is a town that was settled by European colonists in the 1880’s. Thomas Hughes was the founder and he had plans for Rugby to be a kind of Utopia.  You can read all about the history of the village, here. You can click on the history, pictures, the Christmas activities page…just look around.

This village is very interesting and beautifully decorated for Christmas, just as it was in the 1880’s.  One feels like they have been transported back in time to a Victorian village where ladies wore long dresses and carried hand muffs. The men had coats with tails, and stopped to wish you a Merry Christmas as they walked down the street. You might hear carolers in the distance, or stop by the lantern lit church to hear the Christmas story.  Maybe you want to visit with friends while you sip some hot wassil.

Rugby is not just a historical museum, like Williamsburg, VA. There are actually houses that real people live in. The houses have to look the part, so to speak.  But I think it would be quaint to live in such a place.  There are no grocery stores near by, or movie theatres, or Walmarts. I supposed the residents have to drive if they need the more modern conveniences. The decision to live in a town that prides itself in its history would have to be weighed against being isolated from the more modern conveniences I mentioned.  Still, to visit is a real treat for the senses.  So, if you are ever in east or middle Tennessee during the first couple of weekends in December, why not take a trip back in time? You might just find out that you like it there!

Christmas Nostalgia

Last night I was looking up Woolsworth online.   I remembered that store from my childhood and the Santa house that always sat in front of the store during the month of December.  Isn’t it interesting how one remembers little things?  I found out that Woolsworth closed it’s doors forever in the United States in 1997.  It had a fascinating history. There is even a book written about Woolsworth, that I believe I’d like to read. It was the best five and dime store, long before Walmart ever thought about being a discount giant!

So anyway, I was thinking about Christmas and remembering things from my childhood. I surfed the internet and found a blog that this lady had written about her childhood in the 50’s. She talked about what Christmas used to be like before all the electronic gadgets and gizmos.  I really enjoyed her story telling.  It made me nostalgic thinking of my own childhood Christmas’. (not from the 50’s though!) My childhood Christmas memories took place in the 70’s and early 80’s.

Every Christmas Eve my Mom and Dad, and my sister and I would go to my paternal grandparents house. So would all the other  relatives from that side of the family. The downstairs was decorated (which my sister and I had decorated a few weeks before —like putting a big red nose on my grandfather’s deer head that was mounted on the wall) the food was laid out as far as the eye could see! After the kids ate we’d all sneak back upstairs to the living room with the big Christmas tree. We’d “oh and ah” over all the gifts…..because we always got to open our gifts from Mammaw and Pappaw on Christmas Eve night.  Before any gift opening went on we all went to the Christmas Eve service at church.  I remember how beautiful our little stone church looked when decorated for Christmas. The stained glass windows, the greenery and candles…..and it was quiet. There was a hush over the congregation on this very special night.  I remember singing Silent Night, and Joy To The World.  Then it was back to my grandparents for more eating….and opening of presents. Woo hoo!  I remember how exciting it was as a child–the anticipation was half the fun!

Christmas morning my sister and I woke up to gifts under the family tree. There are some “interesting” pictures of us on Christmas morning, with some serious “bed head” going on.  The kind that only young children can pull off!  Pictures in front of the tree….and boy did we have some doozies of live trees. One year our tree looked like a big evergreen bush instead of a tree. The truth is that with decorations and lots of tinsel (which my mom always said needed to be “placed” and not thrown on the tree–which was my idea of how to get it done) the tree looked pretty.

I remember my mom had several big Christmas albums (were they called 78’s?). I loved it when she’d get the albums out and put them on the stereo (which was in a huge wooden cabinet). Nat King Cole and Mahalia Jackson would sing songs of Christmas. I can still hear them even all these years later.

After our gift opening—we got dressed and headed to my mom’s relatives houses. We ate breakfast at one aunt and uncles, brunch at another, lunch somewhere else and then desserts at yet another. This gave us ample opportunity to eat and visit and look at everyone’s decorated trees and gifts they had received. It was a huge day-long extravaganza. I was blessed enough to have all my extended family living near by. I loved that as a child, but oh how much more I appreciate the opportunity I had,  now that I am an adult with my own children!

I remember my Mom’s sausage and cheese on rye breakfast treats,  my Aunt D’s seafood dinner, my Aunt B’s desserts…I could go on and on, but I’m making myself hungry.Looking back over my blog I see that we did a lot of eating during the holidays.  It’s true, but man was it good stuff!

Christmas memories. Good times.

Vintage Christmas

I just finished reading an interesting article on vintage wrapping paper. The lady writing the article is an artist. She started collecting the paper in the 1980’s–and found quite the treasure trove through her own family members. The paper from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s is especially interesting. The paper can be used for art projects or if someone is really special they might get a gift wrapped in the special paper.  The cheery, simple patterns are a preserved memory of yesteryear. I enjoy that. There is something about the simplicity of the patterns and pictures that appeals to me. I was born in 1968 so I wasn’t around in the 40’s, 50’s or most of the 60’s…but I still enjoy the movies, decorations, and spirit of the holidays from that time period. I suppose I just have an old soul.

Some of the same pictures on the paper, mirror actual decorations from that time period. I do remember as a child, the Shiny Brite glass ornaments my mom had for us to decorate the tree with. ( I don’t know for sure, but she probably bought them at Woolsworth.) Wow, if I knew then what I know now! Those glass ornaments are valuable now…for collectors, yes….but, much more valuable for the memories. My mom had some beautiful pink, icicle-like tree decorations that were her favorites. I wonder whatever happened to those? Also, I remember the little choir singers in red and white gowns. They were wax candles. (but mom never burned them….they were “for decoration only.”) We had a nativity scene that was always a treat to unwrap each year.  One year baby Jesus’ arm got broken, and I think a camel lost a leg. We just glued it back on. I suppose Mom could have gone out and bought a new nativity, but it wouldn’t have been as good as the old one. One that had been loved on.  Mom, if you are reading this…whatever happened to that nativity? Do you still have it? Just curious. Just remembering.