Advent, Christmas, Faith, Hope, Inspiration

ADVENT – My Hope Is in Him – Week 1

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This is a season of hustle and bustle.  I love this time of the year.  As I was out and about today picking up some things, I couldn’t help be more joyous, more polite, and more caring seeing how busy the checkers were, and I took some extra care in being kind and speaking to each one.

This is also the first week of Advent.  For so many years I did not have a clue what Advent was about, but today our church (yes, we are Baptist) celebrates the Advent season, and I’m studying along with sisters from church through the She Reads Advent series, and also participating with some of my on-line Bible study friends in Max Lucado’s Advent study.

Advent means “coming or arrival“.  It begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas.  This year it began on December 3, and I was so excited to get to church.  We had guest singers I love – Chris and Diane Machen, and they sang during our service.  The church was all decorated and the choir was just amazing.  Our preacher is amazing.

Christians around the world (including many of us Baptists) celebrate Advent.  Advent is  about celebrating the birth of a baby in a manger – our Lord Jesus Christ, and the hope He brings.

And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.  Psalm 39:7 (KJV)

The themes for the four weeks of Advent are hope, peace, joy and love.

This first week is about HOPE and the hope He brings to the World.  I love this season of hope.  For me, it’s all about His birth and how He died for me. It is about light – He is the light, and I think about that every morning when I light my candle on my kitchen counter.  It is one thing I love about the time change – it’s dark for a long time in the morning, savoring my coffee and seeing that light, and sitting here in His presence reading my Bible, doing my Bible studies and studying about Advent.  It is also dark early in the day now so double blessings in watching my candle burn.

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Advent speaks to me to slow down, savor my study time learning more about the hope Christ brings.  I love this time of year – the Christmas lights, presents, Christmas cards, shopping, decorating, musicals at church.  I don’t enjoy crowds,  but what if we paused and spoke to all we see – just a “Merry Christmas”,  “Have a blessed day”.

I wish the season would slow down because I tell you for me it just goes so fast.   Advent speaks slow down to me each day as I sit down with my books.  I love sitting here looking at my tree with all the special ornaments – ornaments my parents gave us over the years, religious ornaments with the names of Jesus – King of Kings, Lord of Lords, etc., and the ribbon I bought that also has the names.  I love walking in my office to pick up this laptop and looking over and seeing the beautiful manger my Mom gave us over a couple of years a few pieces at a time. Take a moment and see it here.  I just had to write about it this year as I pause and remember Mom and Dad.  Hoping to get to the cemetery today or tomorrow and leave a Christmas wreath on their graves.  It’s the coldest day of the year here in Texas – in the 40s and the winds make it feel really cold for this old Teas gal

No,  Christmas is not about presents, it’s not about the lights, but I sure enjoy the lights on the house.  It’s about the King of Kings.  It’s about a man who loves us, who knows us, who came and died for us, and who gives us hope.  Our hope is in Him.  He is the light – the light of the World – our light when things seem dark and gloomy.

 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.  Romans 15:13 (KJV)

Look to light today – to Bethlehem.  Share the HOPE of Christ to all you come in contact with each day.  My hope is that as you and I touch a life here and there planting seeds that we will see our World change.

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Christmas, Kate Motaung Five Minute Friday

Because of Christmas – He Is Near

Blseptember 9, 2019 | 2_00 pm | findlay residence.pngAdvent begins this Sunday.  It is about the joy we have because Christ entered the world.  That is what Christmas is all about – Jesus’ birth and Jesus in us-not only at Christmas but every moment.  Jesus is our joy and without Him I am not sure how you hang on to joy.  I know I could not.

In His presence we can find joy no matter what we are going through.  In His presence as I am working frantically to get all the decorations out of the attic.  In His presence when I am out shopping in crowds.  In His presence as I am addressing cards and praying for each family as I do.

I am savoring the moments with Him.  Jesus is my joy.  If He is not present I find no joy.  He is near if I call on Him.

He is near as I pull those ornaments out of the boxes and place them on the tree, and think about cherished family and friends that gave them to me.  Mom shared so many ornaments with us over the years.  How can I not think of her and give Him thanks for all the years we had, and I pause and remember how much she loved Christmas and passed those traditions and that love down to me.  That nativity above is one she gave us over several Christmas’ piece by piece.

In your presence Lord.   This December will not become a production in my home, in my life – it’s all about You!  May I remember that not only this Christmas season, but every day of the year.  May I reflect on YOU this day as I decorate for this season and pause to give thanks for all You have done in my life.

Joining Kate Motaung in Five-Minute Friday today.  The word is near.

 

Christmas

Shepherd on the Search Advent Activity for Children – Great Gift

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I bought two of these to give to both our children to use with our grandkids.  They are really cute, and wow the activities suggested to do with the kids while hunting for the shepherd each day are so neat.

I tell you it’s going to be fun.  I can’t wait for the toddler boys to come to my house and tell me what they did that week or day, and well I might just have to blog about it and share some pictures.

I have always wanted something different than the Elf, and finally found it.  The Shepherd will point children to Jesus.  The kit came with a Shepherd which the kids will name on day 2, and there are is a site you are sent to in order to make fun projects each day.  I can’t wait to see the names they come up with for their shepherd.

Even the box he comes in is beautiful and thick so you can put away for next year.

Here’s a link to purchase the shepherd, and no I don’t get anything for this.  I purchased mine.  My comments are based on that.

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Christmas, Stress-Free Christmas

No Stress This Christmas

Christmas Squared Event

Photo Credit – Picmonkey

So how do I keep the stress out of Christmas.  I am sharing some of my tips here, but I tell ya’ this morning I was feeling better about it than I do now.

Here are some of my tips

  1. CHRISTMAS CARDS

Start addressing your Christmas cards now or earlier.  I always start before Thanksgiving and I try to mail them the day after Thanksgiving.  May not make it this year, but I have my cards I bought on sale last year and still have forever stamps I bought last year.

Christmas cards are very special to me.  Read all my ideas about Christmas cards and see some ideas for displaying and saving here.

2.  SHOPPING

Don’t know what to buy.  I bought a few gifts early this year as the girls and I were out.

I would see something the grandsons might want in their stockings.  I bought some little grabbers for the toddlers.  Well one of them saw one in my office and I said that is Colt’s, and then Colt saw one in a bedroom later and I said that’s Cals.  They didn’t question me.

I take the grown-up kids shopping and I ask them for lists.  They may not get all that is on the list and they will have some surprises in their stockings.  Keep it simple.  Everything does not have to be a surprise, and why not give a gift they love.

3.  PRAYER and BIBLE STUDY – Get up a few minutes early and spend some time in prayer and reading the Word EVERY day.  If you are looking for a study, don’t have a church home I love, love, love Proverb 31 Online Bible Studies.  Check it out.  We are finishing one up and take a little break during the holidays, but we’ll start up in January.  All you need is your book.

4.  Find some simple tasks to do each day – fit them in 20 minutes here and there.  Today after I got dinner in the oven I went in the office and shredded and filed rather than sit down and watch the news.  Some nights I’ll file while my hubby is in the shower.

5.  Listen to some Christmas music.  I love to pull out my whole basket of Christmas CDs.  I have them playing when I’m cleaning, when I’m driving, when I’m cooking.  They make me happy and thankful for this wonderful season.

6.  DECORATE.  

I don’t usually do any decorating until after Thanksgiving; however since we are not having company this Thanksgiving day, I took my Fall decorations down this past Friday.

I got out my decorations for the kitchen because they are stored in the kitchen cabinets and pantry – at least many of them – my pitchers, cabinet decorations, and Christmas coffee cups.

Put up the outside lights before Thanksgiving.  We are working on it.  Started today but didn’t finish, and we won’t light turn them on until after Thanksgiving.  I’m glad we got it started before the weather gets cold or rainy.

Do one room at a time and you’ll start to feel less pressure. I hope to pull a few boxes out of the attic today, and do a little decorating each day rather than a decorating frenzy week after next.

7.  CLEAN.

I deep clean as I go.  Polished the kitchen countertops on Friday and cleaned my office desk.

Yesterday it was my office – cleaned all the furniture and vacumned.

Tomorrow it’s the master bedroom and the dens.   I’ll clean mini-blinds and bookcases in one of the dens, and hopefully the other den I’ll get all the furniture polished.

Tuesday it’s the laundry room and ironing.

8.  Go for a walk.  I love putting on my headphones – yes I have an old transistor radio I carry and listen to Christian music while I walk.

9.  Go to church.   I can’t wait for next Sunday and all the Christmas music to begin and our programs each Sunday evening.

Take some time to relax and enjoy what this season is about.

If you don’t go to church find one and slip in for one of the music programs.  Check out a church website near you.

10.  BAKING – I’ve never baked early because I like it fresh, but if I am successful at everything else this year well I think it will be easy.

11.  ADVENT – Study the Christmas story.  I’m Baptist and we do talk some about advent at church, but I’ve learned a lot on my own over the years.  This year I bought two sets of “The Shepherd on the Search” to give to my son and my daughter’s families.  My daughter and daughter-in-love are excited, but I think I’m more excited.

12.  MAKE SOME MEMORABLE TRADITIONS – Read about my favorites here.

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Favorite Christmas Traditions

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It’s December 8, and it is COLD outside.  Well, for Texas it is.  The high twenties this morning has been our low in the past two years, but hang on it will be in the seventies by Sunday, and that’s what I love about Texas.  We don’t have to freeze too long.

It’s cold.  I’m snuggled up with my cup of coffee and just wanted to  sit here and ponder and savor all the things I can remember that we do or have done in my family over the years, so I’ll start with traditions from my childhood.

Do you have Christmas traditions?  I have so many.  One of my favorites is Christmas cards.  Yes it seems there are fewer and fewer each year with Facebook and iPhones, and let’s face it – it takes time to sit down and address Christmas cards and for many of them to add a sweet note inside, and they are expensive even when we buy them on sale, and then there is the postage.

Why are Christmas cards so special to us?

For many years now as the cards come in they are placed on our kitchen mini-blinds.  They stay up usually for several months into late February or early March.

After Christmas we will pull a card each time we sit down to eat.  If we have company we ask them to pull a card.  We pray over that family.  Last year I added another step to that tradition.  I bought a board and now I pin the cards to that board and it stays on our fire place heart so we can continue to pray for all at once that are on that when we go into that room.  It’s in a back den so we don’t visit it every day.  Here is a picture of that board with our cards from 2015:

 

Other traditions:

Christmas Ornaments – I’ve always given the kids a Christmas ornament  from Hallmark, and now the grandkids and our daughter and son in love.  I may have to change it up a bit because well we are anxiously awaiting the birth of twin boys so that will make three in my son’s family.  Not sure I want to buy three ornaments just alike to go on their tree. I usually stuff their ornaments in their stocking.

Stockings 

I guess today children would look at a stocking filled with nuts and fruits as something not to get, but that is what my middle sister and I got in our stockings.    Today I find myself filling up the little kids stockings with caps, toys, toothbrushes, gum, and any other little thing I can think of. The big kids usually get shaving supplies and gift cards and maybe some kind of fancy candy.

Santa Claus

There is always stuff from Santa at this house even for the adult kids.  Even the married kids get Santa under the tree to this day.  Yes there are wrapped gifts, but Santa brings some nice stuff.

Jesus Birthday Cake

When the kids were smaller we used to have a birthday cake for Jesus, but I only did that a few times.  Usually though there is a birthday cake for our son-in-love because December 25 is also his birthday.

The Lord’s Prayer

Always, always at our Thanksgiving and Christmas tables my side of the family joined hands and recited The Lord’s Prayer.  We still do when we get together.  I can even remember reciting it at seven years old at my Dad’s family tables.

 

A New Dessert Recipe

I usually take a new dessert to my side of the family.  They laugh because I’ll bring that and maybe a new veggie recipe and then I make them make it after that if they want it and they usually do.

Christmas Eve with Husband’s Family

Even since we married 47 years ago we celebrate on Christmas Eve with my husband’s family.  We used to do it at his Mom’s house, but several years ago we started rotating with his two sisters so it’s at our house every three years.

 

Christmas Eve Evening Games – We love this and the adult kids do to, and now the grandsons.  Last year the two year old had a ball and I’m sure the other two year old this year will too.  We have done all sorts of things from scavenger hunts to remote cars.  We have a special surprise this year and I can’t share because it’s always a surprise and always the kids pair up as couples or girls against boys, and we give prizes.

Christmas Morning Breakfast – I usually have a Christmas morning breakfast.  It is a celebration of Jesus’ birthday but also our son-in-laws.  I vary each year, but generally we always have a Breakfast Sausage Casserole my friend Carrie gave me and I’ll add another casserole, cinnamon rolls, fruits or whatever else seems special for the year.

Christmas Lunch With My Family – Most years we do lunch with my family, but seems we always end up one place rather than rotate.

So what are some of you favorite Christmas traditions?  I’d love to hear you share.