Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Ride To Remember

I was twelve the winter fourteen inches of snow swooped down on our small Tennessee town. An unusual, but lovely sight just before Christmas. Our family of nine lived in a community where everyone knew everyone. Daddy worked on a riverboat and was gone a month at a time, so the care and discipline of the rowdy brood was placed in Mama's capable hands.

A large family living in a rural area is forced to conjure up its own ideas for entertainment. Money was always in short supply, but our creative juices weren't. What one child could not think of, the other could.

Jewell, the sister, older than me, Paul, three years younger, and I, were middle-born children, who thrived by living on the edge. Handy with a saw and hammer, Ralph, an older brother, possessed a genius for creating items from wood. One year it was a raft. The previous winter he had constructed a crude sled, using 2 by 4s as runners. Then he stretched several 1 by 4s across the top and nailed them securely. The 1 by 4s were strategically spaced at four -inch intervals. The completed work resembled a wooden pallet, sturdy, but too heavy to glide on "soft" snow.

That had not discouraged us the previous winter. When the cumbersome sled would not cooperate, we found a discarded wringer-washer lid, unscrewed the knob, and enjoyed ecstatic hours skimming down the steep, wooded hill at a speed that would make a gazelle blush.

But the three of us wanted a vehicle that could transport us together. After all, what good is an adventure if it can't be shared? Hurriedly, we layered on coats, scarves, and toboggan's, to perform the farm chores. We waddled about like over-stuffed penguins in our bundlesome garb. After the chickens and livestock were fed and loads of wood were wheeled to the porch, we found the sled. The trio knew it would meet the criterion when the deep snow crunched beneath our boots and sloshed over the tops, on our way to the slope.

The slope was a steep, wooded hill near our house. Halfway down the incline, a gnarled root jutted out from an oak stump. It served as a ramp to shoot the sled and its occupant up and off "into the wild blue yonder." This made for an exhilartating experience, even if the landing was sometimes rough, and often ended in the shallow creek a the foot of the hill. No worries that particular day since the creek was frozen.

My sister and I pulled the sled to its destination while Paul followed, the washer lid wedged under one arm. We took turns skimming down the hill on the round lid, to pack the snow for our heavy sled. The rush of the wind stung my face as the lid and I hit the root and sailed through the cool, crip air to land softly, and glide to a stop short of the creek. Exhilarating!

After each had take a turn on the circular lid without incident, we thought it safe to climb onto the sled. Eagerly, we boarded the cumbersome vehicle. Paul sat up front, I took the middle, and Jewell gave us a strong hard shove-off and jumped on the back. Downhill we sped faster and faster until the sled struck the massive root. Whoosh! Our sled flew up and we were airborne. Sis and I managed to keep our grip, but Paul shot forward through the air head-first. He thudded to the ground face up, before we swept over him. Jewell and I hung on to the sled for dear life while the speeding demon gained momentum. The only thing we could see between the slats was our brother's terrified eyes as he cried, "Stop! Stop!" But there was nothing we could do except hang on for the duration...and laugh. It shouldn't have been funny, but we shook so hard that we almost fell off the sled.

Finally, we struck the ice-covered creek, skidded a few feet, and came to a screeching halt. We heard a cracking noise before the ice split and the sled upended like the Titanic. Jewell and I pulled the cumbersome object off Paul's battered body, and brushed the snow and ice from his clothes. Since he was near to tears, we tried to look somber. Then Paul started to wail, "I'm ne-v-ver doin' thi-is ag-ai-n-n!"

When giggles erupted, he stammered, "It's no-o-t fun-ny! I'm go-ing back to the h-hou-u-se!" Shivering and soaked, Paul crawled up the hill. After a few slips, he reached the peak of the slippery slope and slogged back toward the warm Morning Stove and a mug of hot cocoa.

A few more rides rides and Jewell and I were exhausted. We called it a day. Tomorrow we would beging again, and who could tell what thrills awaited our daring trio. Or was it now, "our daring duo."?

The cataclysmic sled ride would always be remembered--though a bit differently from Paul's perspective. And though the years have flown, each Christmas our family gathers around the kitchen table after a delicious meal to recount that day with hilarity.

Paul never grasped the humor, but Jewell and I still giggle when we reount our little brother's glazed eyes as he glared up between the boards on the makeshift sled. And it is with amusement each Christmas Day, that we relive the memory of this rare moment in time.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Real Meaning of Christmas

Well, the hustle and bustle is over, gifts are open and put away and as we get ready to slide into the new year our thoughts will be far from Christmas - or will they? Many people take advantage the after Christmas sales in anticipation of next Christmas.

Whether you are one of those people who start early and plan your celebrations in advance or one who waits until at least November to get started - please keep in mind the True meaning of Christmas and Teach your Children......

Just a week before Christmas, I had a visitor. This is how it happened. I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door of the front room, and to my surprise, Santa Claus himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his fingers over his mouth so I would not cry out.

“What are you doing?” I started to ask, but the words lodged in my throat as I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone…gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know.
He then answered with a simple statement of “teach the children”.

I was puzzled. What did he mean? He anticipated my question and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood there bewildered, Santa said again, “Teach the children. Teach them the meaning of Christmas…the meanings that Christmas nowadays has forgotten.”

I started to say, “How can I…” when Santa reached into the toy bag and pulled out a shining star.

“Teach the children the star was the heavenly sign of promise long ages ago. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was a sign of the fulfillment of that promise. The countless shining stars at night, one for each man, now show the burning hope of all mankind.” Santa gently laid the star upon the fireplace mantle and drew forth from the bag a red Christmas tree ornament.

“Teach the children red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all the people by the Savior. Christ gave His life and shed His blood that every man might have God’s gift of Eternal Life. Red is deep, intense, vivid…it is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of God.”

“Teach the children,” he said as he dislodged a small Christmas tree from the depths of the toy bag. He placed it before the mantle and gently hung the red ornament on it. The deep green of the fir tree was a perfect background for the ornament. Here was the second color of Christmas. “The pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round,” he said. “This depicts the everlasting hope of mankind. Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. All needles point Heavenward, symbols of man’s returning thoughts toward Heaven. The great green tree has been man’s best friend. It has sheltered him, warmed him, made beauty for him.”

Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound. “Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring for a man to return to the fold. It means guidance and return. It further signifies that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord.”

As the soft sound of the bell faded into the night, Santa drew forth a candle. He placed it on the mantle and the soft glow from its tiny flame cast a glow about the darkened room. Odd shapes in shadows slowly danced and weaved upon the walls. “Teach the children,” whispered Santa, “that the candle shows man’s thanks for the star of long ago. Its small light is the mirror of starlight. At first candles were placed on the trees. They were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green. The colored lights now take over in remembrance.”

Santa turned the small Christmas tree lights on and picked up a gift from underneath the tree. He pointed to the large bow and said, “A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the brotherhood of man. We should remember that the bow is tied as men should be tied, all of us together, with the bonds of goodwill toward each other. Goodwill forever is the message of the bow.”

Santa slung his bag over his shoulder and began to reach for the candy cane placed high upon the tree. He unfastened it and reached out toward me with it. “Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd’s crook. The crook on the staff helps bring back the strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane represents the helping hand we should show at Christmas time. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brothers’ keepers.

As Santa looked about the room, a feeling of satisfaction shone in his face. He read wonderment in my eyes, and I am sure he sensed my admiration on this night. He reached into his bag and brought forth a holly wreath. He placed it on the door and said, “Please teach the children the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love; it never ceases, stops, or ends. It is one continuous round of affection. The wreath does double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors. It should remind us of all the things of Christmas.

Please teach the children.

I did not write this story, have no idea who did but whoever you are - THANK YOU and May God Bless you for reminding the world the true meaning of Christmas.

May you ALL be Blessed in the New Year to Come!
Pamela S Thibodeaux
"Inspirational with an Edge!" (TM)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Reaching Out Across the Miles

My grandson Andrew joined the Air Force when he was seventeen, just a few days after graduating high school. He spent his birthday in basic training in Texas, and I felt so bad for him. He'd always been my special grandson, a little man when he was barely able to toddle. We took vacations together from the time he was three years old. He kept me laughing with his wonderful sense of humor.

As Thanksgiving grew closer this year, he fell into a depression. It would be the first Thanksgiving he hadn't spent with his family. We all felt so bad, but knew it would be in his best interests for him to stick it out, though he talked about quitting. He decided to talk to the Chaplain. What a joy to get a call after he left the Chaplain's office. He said the sun looked so much brighter and he felt as if a weight had lifted from his shoulders. Our prayers had been answered. God had been watching and working in his life.

Then Christmas drew nearer. I worried that he might get depressed again. We all prepared packages to send him for Christmas. My hubby and I hosted a family get-together and I videotaped the festivities. Each person said a special message to Andrew. We also went to church and had members who knew Andrew say a few words on video. We coordinated the mailing so that all our packages arrived on the same day. Andrew called us to thank us and said that he had to change uniforms before going back to work because of the tears of joy at having the scents, tastes, sights and sounds from his family "back home."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Story by Janelle Ashley

Many years ago a wealthy family had a christening for their longawaited baby boy. After the ceremony all their friends and familycame back to their home for a party. Since the baby was sleeping theyplaced him on a bed and went about the business of celebrating. Aftera long night of drinking, eating, singing, and visiting, someone askedto see the baby. The mother hurried to the bedroom to get him, todiscover the bed piled high with coats and wraps and gifts. Shefrantically dug through them to discover the baby--smothered.

This true story is heartbreaking and tragic...not only for the poorfamily, but for the millions of families all over the world who get socaught up in the business of celebrating the birth of a baby that theyforget all about Him.

I love Christmas and all the wonderfultraditions that go with it, but after hearing this story years ago, Ihave tried my best not to let the traditions overshadow who we arecelebrating. Jesus didn't stay a baby, he grew into a man who laidhis life down for us. The manger story is just the beginning, but onewe should never forget.

In our family we have added the tradition of reading the story ofJesus coming to earth before we open our presents. You don't have todo that, but I encourage us all to not allow Jesus to be smotheredunder the tokens of our celebrating His birth.

Luke 2: 10-12 "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bringyou good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today inthe town of David a Savior has been born to YOU; he is Christ theLord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped incloths and lying in a manger.'"

Merry Christmas to All!
Janelle Ashley

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ready or Not by Karen Cogan

This is a reprint from an inspirational story that was published several years ago in Evangel Magazine. I'd like to share it with you.

Ready or Not

I geared up like a general going into battle. I made lists and scanned the sale ads for special buys. I even ordered gifts for out of town relatives so that I could mail them early. I was proud of my efficiency, but something seemed to be missing. Too busy to question what it was, I pushed the nagging sensation from my mind.

Perhaps when we went out as a family to choose our tree, I would get in the mood for Christmas. We took great care in selecting just the right tree. It was tall, full and impressive. We brought it home and worked together to place years of homemade decorations, tinsel, garland and lights on the branches. We plugged in the lights and admired the effect. As I closed up the empty ornament boxes, I felt relieved that this major task had been completed. As the days sped by, I hurried to finish the extra baking and cleaning that always seemed to be a part of the holidays. Each night, as I unplugged the lights on the tree, I counted down another day less to accomplish my tasks.

Too soon, the Sunday before Christmas arrived. I settled down for the sermon, still thinking of several gifts I had yet to buy. My distracted thoughts were brought into focus by the recounting of how Jesus' disciples were gently reprimanded for their lack of perspective.Matthew 26:7 describes how a woman came to Jesus with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume which she pouredon His head. When the disciples saw this, they were outraged. They chastised the woman, saying, "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor" (Matthew 26:9, NIV).

When the two sisters, Mary and Martha, invited Jusus to supper at their house, Jesus,took another opportunity to teach this truth. While Mary sat at Jesus' feet to listen and learn, Martha came to Jesus and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to come help me."

To Martha's request, Jesus replied, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-41, RSV).

Was I so busy cooking, cleaning and buying gifts that I was missing the better portion? The shopping, cooking and cleaning I would always have with me. The sermon reminded me that my opportunity to appreciate this Christmas was passing and would never return.I had begun to take Christmas for granted. In a few days the beautiful tree in the living room would be gone. Perhaps other blessins that I took for granted would be absent with the pasing of another year.

Sadly, I had been so set on fulfilling my tasks, I was losing sight of both my blessings and the reason for the celebration. The joy of Christmas was being crowded out by the thousands of tedious chores and obligations that demanded attention. Communion with my husband, children and even God, was becomming lost in the tyrany of accomplishment. But whatever satisfaction I got from my actions could never be worth missing the spiritual blessing of the season.

That evening after supper, I watched my 5-year-old kneel beside our manger and gingerly finger the figures. She was the third generation to enjoy this family treasure. Her fascination brought back emeories of a quiet time when I was childlike in my wonder of Christmas. I left the dishes and sat beside her on the floor to hear her tell me the story of Jesus' birth. And in that quiet time of wonder, as I set aside all other tasks, I regained the joy of Christmas.

Merry Christmas All!

Karen Cogan

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Yummy Dessert

Here is a recipe my family loves. I'm making tonight as I type this because my new daughter-in-law requested it for Christmas. I believe it's the start of new a tradition in our home during the Christmas season. I hope you try it and enjoy it too.

Merry Christmas,
Rose Ross Zediker


Cream Puff Dessert


1 cup of water
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of margarine
6 eggs

Mix water & margarine, bring to a boil. Add flour all at once. Stir rapidly until mixture forms a ball and leaves side of pan. Remove from heat & cool. Once cool, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Spread in ungreased cake pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool completely.


2-3oz packages of instant vanilla pudding
4 cups of milk
1-8 oz package of cream cheese
1 large carton of Cool Whip

Mix pudding & milk, blend in cream cheese. Spread onto crust. Top with Cool Whip. Chill

Oh Holy Night

Eight years ago I lost my vision after a long bout with progressive blindness. Devastated and despondent, I enrolled in a 16 week rehabilitation program for mobility, personal adjustment and the use of a computer with adaptive software. Part of the reason I was reluctant to enroll in a program for the blind and visually impaired was because I feared these people would be ignorant and uneducated. I was an artist, a legal secretary, a professional. What could I possibly have in common with “those people?”

I was wrong. They were all ordinary people with extraordinary problems, just like me. We were all thrust into a living nightmare due to circumstances beyond our control. I met doctors, nurses, teachers and paramedics, all with some type of eye disease that had or was robbing them blind. Many had the added burden of facing marital problems because a spouse could not accept the pending blindness. Through this program, we formed an unbreakable bond. We laughed and we cried. Together, we faced an incredible journey filled with endless challenge and heart-wrenching pain. Words can never describe the feeling of being fitted for a white cane, the fear of being in the onslaught of traffic without sight, traveling the long and bitter road from denial to acceptance.

As fate would have it, I was at the program during Christmas that year. We pitched in and had a party, all of us taking part in the celebration. In a huge kitchen, we made cookies and appetizers. But through it all, there was a silent humming that echoed off the walls…depression. For the most part, this was the first Christmas we were facing without vision. Some broke down, others lost their tempers and stormed out of the room, unable to cope with the dark depression and feeling of being segregated and alienated. But then something happened. One woman stood and walked over to the pianist and began singing like an angel, “Oh Holy Night.”
The result was miraculous. Her melodic voice sliced through the depression. When the song ended, there was a moment of silence where you could truly hear a pin drop. And then the applause rose to the heavens, bringing the house down in glorious exultation. Nothing will ever compare to the sheer beauty of that moment. Every time I hear O’ Holy Night, I tear up and remember a time in my life when what didn’t kill me made me stronger.

Oh Holy Night!
Oh Holy Night!
The Stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

Long lay the world and sin in error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by a star so brightly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land

The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace

Change shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ringing in Christmas

I was practicing the hymns and carols we'll sing at Midnight Mass, and thinking about the service. I love Midnight Mass. I think it's the best Christmas service. Our church is always packed. People begin to arrive around 10:30, and the choir invites the congregation to sing Christmas carols from 11pm to midnight. (Yes, at our church Midnight Mass really begins at Midnight. :) ) And then the service begins and the Proclamation is sung. I get goosebumps every time I hear it. Just the thought of the legacy that is passed to us is awe-inspiring, and this condensed version of all salvation history being intoned lyrically rather than merely read seems to bring Christmas into an acute focus that's unique to the very moment. I share with you the Procalmation of the Birth of Jesus Christ:

The twenty-fifth day of December in the 5,099th year of the creation of the world from the time in the beginning when God created the heaven and the earth, the 2,957th year after the flood, the 2,015th year from the birth of Abraham, the 1,510th year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt, the 1,032nd year from David's being anointed king, and the 65th week according to the prophecy of Daniel and the 194th Olympiad, the 752nd year from the foundation of the city of Rome, the 42nd year of the reign of Octavius Augustus, the whole world being at peace, in the sixth age of the world, Jesus Christ, the Eternal God and the Son of the Eternal Father willing to consecrate the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary being made man, the nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

I pray you all have a blessed Christmas holiday. As my Christmas gift to you, I will give a complimentary copy of my short story, Forever from Paris, to anyone who comments on this post. It's not a Christmas story, but it is a story of hope amid tradgedy--and isn't that what Christmas is all about: Hope. :)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Nut Gift

My father-in-law loved Christmas. He was known for saying that he tried to live as if it were Christmas every day. He meant that he tried to live with the joy and generosity that seem so abundant at Christmas. I do believe he succeeded at that, too. These days he's spending Christmas with Jesus, and I'm sure, enjoying every minute of it, but we still miss him and my mother-in-law as well.

He was also very proud of his Danish heritage and we observed some of the Danish traditions when celebrating Christmas with my in-laws. One of the traditions was to pull the Christmas tree out into the center of the room. Then we'd form a circle around it, join hands and sing Christmas carols while dancing around the tree.

The children loved the tradition of the "nut gift." After Christmas dinner, everyone received a dish of pudding. If we were going for authenticity we would have had rice pudding, but my mother-in-law always made chocolate. Good call on her part, in my opinion.

One of the dishes of pudding has a nut hidden in it. Whoever gets the nut receives a special gift. Usually the gift is candy or cookies. Once the gift was a beautiful and fragrant eucalyptus wreath.

I'm told that in Denmark, the nut game was played before the meal. During tough times, this caused guests to fill up on cheap rice pudding, allowing the hostess to get by with less of the expensive foods, like stuffed goose.

Whatever your family's traditions are, I hope you will have the opportunity to enjoy this Christmas and remember the awesome blessing we celebrate.

Merry Christmas,
Kara Lynn Russell

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Stockings

Christmas isn't just about opening presents on Christmas Eve. When I was a little girl my mother started a tradition of having Christmas stockings to open on Christmas morning. She didn't want us to feel like Christmas was "over". So she filled our stockings with candy, small toys, and lots of love.

Both my brother and I have continued this tradition. I introduced it to my husband and later to my son-in-law. There is something about watching others open their small gifts, eat their candy or drink their hot chocolate that come out of those stockings that touches my heart.

Does your family do Christmas stockings? If so, what do you normally find them?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Hope

In this cold world, peace was a stranger
When God sent His Son to be born in a manger.
Angels rejoiced as they welcomed His birth,
Shouted, "Glory to God, and to men, peace on earth."

The "Light of the World" He was destined to be,
As He broke sin's bonds to set captives free.
He bore our infirmities, carried our sorrow,
Filled us with joy and a promise of tomorrow.

How could we question God's boundless love,
Who gave us His precious gift from above?
His light scatters darkness to show us the way,
So we might see clearly that He is our stay.

As you enter this season, remember Christ's birth.
For God sent His Son to a desolate earth.
Keep Him alive in your celebrations,
Jesus is our only hope for the nations.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Pageant-What a tradition

Annual Christmas Pageant

Our small town in Arizona has a unique tradition that is over 50 years
old now. We put on a Christmas Pageant each December. This pageant is
a live reanactment of Jesus' birth. Everyone is welcome to be a part
of it, and everyone is welcome to attend. We do it in the desert,
which our pastor believes is very similar to the place where Jesus was
born. High school students make up most of the cast, and local
ranchers bring in animals. Mary is usually riding a donkey into the
scene and the shepard boys are herding sheep and occasionally, the
goats start wandering into the audience looking for food. In past
years, the Three Wise Men showed up with camels in tow. The chorus is
made up of anyone who wants to share their voice. It really is an
inspiring, spiritaul and magical tradition not to be missed.

This pageant is very near and dear to my heart. When my son was an
infant, he played the baby Jesus. That weekend was amazing. For years,
the pageant coordinators had used a doll. On this year, a hush came
over the audience when they realized that Jesus was a real baby. I can
still remember the excitement and awe in a little girl's voice as she
announced it to the whole crowd. This year, he's old enough to be cast
as a shepard. And in a few years, my daughter will be able to be an

In it's entire history, the pageant has only been cancelled twice.
Once when my daughter was an infant so she couldn't have her chance as
Jesus, and last year because of torrential rain. Our wish is that God
keeps smiling down on us so that we may continue to this incredible
tradition for many years to come so that all can experience the
awesomeness of Jesus' birth.

So what kind of Christmas traditions do you have?

Kim Watters

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Keeping Tradition

For as long as I can remember we opened presents on Christmas Eve. My father owned a business where he held an open house each year on December 24th. He’d bring home the extra food combined with whatever my mom had prepared and our family of four celebrated by eating and opening presents. But not just any eating, we kids got to pick exactly what we wanted for this once a year celebration. If it was a plate of cookies, then that was dinner. When I was very little, Santa Claus came and left gifts for my brother and me on Christmas morning.

When I married, I wanted to continue the same tradition for my family. My husband was a Christmas morning present opener but I convinced him by Christmas Eve of our first year that the twenty-fourth was the appointed day. It is also a very special time, just for the immediate family. There is no extended family or friends, just us surrounded with memories and love.

After my girls’ arrived, the institution was maintained with their own special additions. They are now adults and have yet to start their own families but they have added their own traditions for Christmas Eve. One of them gets to put baby Jesus in the manger and they keep that straight from year because I’ve long since lost track. They have to have exactly the same amount of gifts from us, which I didn’t figure out that was a “has to be” once they were grown and it has sent me scrambling late in the shopping season to keep things even.

And in the custom set forth by my father many years ago, we each fill our plates with “whatever” and enjoy the real meaning of the season.

Monday, December 15, 2008

T'was the Night Before Christmas

Every year at Christmas, my church sponsors a Sharing Tree for the less fortunate. The tree is decorated with paper angel ornaments. Anyone who wishes to participate chooses an angel, buys a gift and brings it back the following week, beautifully wrapped. These angels have no family, and whatever gift they receive from the church is their only present. While this is a wonderful tradition, as you might imagine, it can also present quite a challenge. We are given very little information about our angels. Let me share with you my first experience with this tradition.
The first year I participated in the Sharing Tree, my angel was an elderly woman, a 90-year-old shut in. The first problem I encountered was trying to figure out precisely what a shut in was. After doing a little research, I learned a shut in is a person who is unable to leave the house. I also learned my angel was in a nursing home and hated Christmas because she had no one to share it with. The nursing home was relatively close to where I lived, so I asked if it would be all right if I delivered it in person. I thought it would be a nice gesture to show her someone out there cared. The staff thought it a marvelous idea and said it would make her day. But that still presented the problem of what to buy a 90-year-old shut in.
She’d have no need for a warm scarf or a pair of gloves. And clothes were out of the question since I didn’t know her size. A toasty pair of slippers might be nice, but again. HMM. What size? There were books, stories of inspiration. But what if she had cataracts? Or maybe she didn’t like to read. What to do? Out of options, I decided on a Christmas coffee mug filled with chocolate candy. Pleased with myself, off I went to meet my angel on Christmas Eve.
The elderly woman sat upright in bed, all dressed up in a pink bathrobe. She was all smiles, her cheeks glowing with excitement. I introduced myself and extended my hand. Nothing. My heart sank. Slowly but surely, I realized she had no use of her arms. And here I was, ready to hand her a coffee cup filled with candy.
Asking God for guidance, I briefly panicked. But within a few seconds, it became obvious it wasn’t the gift that mattered to the woman, my angel. She wasn’t a child waiting for Santa. She was a woman waiting for a visitor, a friend, someone to share Christmas with. I set the gift down and said nothing. Then I recalled something the nurse had said when I told her I was coming for a visit. She said the lady was an angel, a patient who never gave the staff any trouble. She said if she was guilty of anything, it was her love of sweets. Then it occurred to me. The nurses probably fed her.
Unwrapping the gift, I showed it to her. Her bright blue eyes lit up, spotting the chocolates. Not wanting to go against any nursing home rules, I wagged my finger and told her she’d just have to wait until Christmas morning before she could open the candy. She smiled, a girlish giggle escaping her lips.
I left the nursing home feeling like I’d just visited an angel. She taught me a valuable lesson. It’s not the gift that matters. It’s showing that you care. We are all God’s angels. Let’s spread the cheer this Christmas.

A Christmas Poem for You!

From My Heart to Yours
© 2004

In this season of giving and good cheer, I've a message for all to hear!
Good news and glad tidings sent to all men, for a Savior was born in the town of Bethlehem.

Christ the Lord came down to earth, born in a manger, from holy to lowly by birth.
Throughout His life He chose to live right, to be and example of God's power and might.

To die on a cross in just a few years, but never FEAR!
For in victory He rose from that awful grave.
To give Life to all those He came to save.

So in this time of giving and season of cheer...Remember, Christ is to be praised all through the year.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and Happy New Year!

Pamela S Thibodeaux
"Inspirational with an Edge!" (TM)

Friday, December 12, 2008

More Holiday Favorites from Victoria Pitts Caine

Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies

2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In large bowl with electric mixer beat peanut butter and margarine until smooth. Beat in sugars, then eggs and vanilla until blended. Add flour mixture.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. On ungreased baking sheets, arrange balls 2 inches apart. With fork dipped in sugar gently flatten cookie and press crisscross pattern into top.

Bake 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on wire rack, store in tightly covered container. Makes 6 dozen small cookies; 3 dozen large

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Homemade Gifts

What do you give when money is tight? How about a piece of your heart?

As a writer I’ve found a way to do just that. I’ve written poems for new parents, anniversary, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas.

You may be thinking that’s nice, but how do you give these poems as a gift?

The poem for new parents, color in pink and blue, add clipart, personalize, and put in a pretty frame and you have a wall plaque. Same goes for the anniversary, Mother’s Day or Father’s day poems – use a pretty font, add clipart, print on nice paper and frame.

But what about Christmas?

Make tree ornaments!

Create a document with 4 copies of the poem in red and green font on page one and a cute Christmas picture on page two – which is printed on the back. Laminate the pages and cut each individual poem out. You can use special scissors, Christmas cookie cutters (the large ones), or just your imagination to design each one. Lace, ribbon, colored pipe cleaners, tiny boxes, and stickers make cute accessories. And of course, you’ll need a small hole-puncher to add the hook.

Simple, inexpensive and a gift that will be treasured by family and friends for years to come!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Christmas Grouch

'Twas the night before Christmas and out slipped the Grouch
To search each crevice in each family's house.
With a plan to spoil the season's good cheer,
He whispered grumblings in everyone's ear.

He devised and schemed in evil mirth
To steal Christmas away from all the earth.
He approached the Creator to get permission.
If the Grouch won his debate, he would set off on his mission.

He filed a complaint and prepared his case,
Stated his arguments, and started to pace,
To and fro in front of God's Throne,
His raspy voice a wearisome drone.

God granted his request, but it would quickly be stayed
If the Grouch found just one who gave thanks while he prayed.
Smirking and sneering, he left with a nod
And laughed at how easy it was to fool God.

Not a moment to waste, he sped through the city
Invaded each home, decorated so pretty.
He lurked in the shadows and watched as each said,
"I am so weary. I must get to bed."

Folks were too busy, so much on each mind
That time with the Father was so hard to find.
The Grouch slinked through each bedroom delighted, amazed.
Not one took time to offer up praise.

Dauntless and smug, He boasted to himself,
"My case has been won, and with so much time left.
One more stop and it will be in the bag,
Then I will bombard heaven to gloat and to brag."

He glided through town on that cold winter's night
Wait! A movement through a window caught the Grouch's sight.
He slithered inside. Oh what could this be?
A tiny child, hands clasped, down on his knees?

Thanking the Father for Jesus' birth,
Saying, "Good will to all and peace on the earth."
As the child whispered, "God bless everyone,"
The Grouch knew his cas would never be won.

Enraged and furious, he yanked out his hair,
Stamped away shrieking, "It's not fair! It's not fair!"
The Creator smiled down, said, "You do not understand.
Salvation exists because Christmas began.

"I longed to show each soul its true worth
So Jesus was born on desolate earth.
And as a result of My gift from above,
Christmas is eternal, and so is My love."

Authors note: I hope you enjoyed it. Five years ago--two weeks before Christmas--I awoke with the first two stanzas on my mind. As the day lengthened, so did the poem.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lead us to the Guiding Light

Lead us to the Perfect Light

With the frigid weather and the snow falling outdoors, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. At my house, we begin our Christmas Eve dinner by breaking wafers with each guest seated at the table. Not only is this said to bring good luck, but it is our way of sharing what we have with one another.
What makes Christmas special to me is the traditions passed on from generation to generation, instilling in me a strong sense of hearth and home. After the breaking of the wafers, the well wishes and cheers, and the feast prepared by many hands, we reminisce over coffee and dessert. Sooner or later, one of us will bring up the good old days when we were kids and put up our train set in the basement, our own little Santa village.
It all started on Thanksgiving weekend, the entire family trooping downstairs like little elves, each with a designated task. My dad and brother put up the platform, carefully nailing the track down, hammering away like Santa’s helpers. My sister and I were in charge of going through box after box of houses, telephone poles, street lamps and tunnels, dusting them off and making them shine for “Light up” night.
After a few hours, the insatiable aroma of sugar cookies wafted from the kitchen, and before long, Mom brought down a platter of the oven-fresh cookies, our family dog hot on her heels. We’d dust off our hands, turn off the lights and watch our little village come to life while sipping on hot cocoa and holiday treats.
A week or so before Christmas, the freshly cut tree went up, filling the house with the heady scent of pine. We strung popcorn and trimmed the plump tree with bright lights and shiny ornaments, icicles and the angel tree top. The Nativity Set was placed below the tree, the cardboard lid staying closed until Christmas morning when the Christ child was exposed, along with the Holy Family, The Three Wise Men and manger animals. Before we opened our gifts, we’d kneel down and wish the Baby Jesus a Merry Christmas.
One Christmas Day, we went to my aunts for dinner. To our amazement, she brought out a birthday cake with no candles. Her entire family sang “Happy Birthday Dear Jesus, Happy Birthday to you.”
This memory has burned a lasting imprint in my brain, one I often reflect on when holiday stress gets the best of me. How easy it is to get caught up in the madness of the season, the shopping, the baking, the business. Year after year, the true meaning of Christmas is lost in the shuffle.
I’d like to start a new tradition this year in honor of my aunt. In these trying times, let’s find it in our hearts to remember why Our Savior was born—to lead us to the perfect light.
“Happy Birthday Dear Jesus, Happy Birthday to you!”

Have a comment? Please leave one.

My favorite will win a prize—to be announced on Christmas Eve. Wishing you a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

Sharon Donovan

JANUARY 7, 2009

FEBRUARY 25, 2009

MARCH 18, 2009

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday cheer from the kitchen of Victoria Pitts Caine

My family won't let the holiday season go by without their favorites. This month I'll be sharing them with you.

Giant Gingersnaps.

2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp baking soda
¾ cup soft vegetable shorting
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
¼ cup light molasses.

Heat oven to 350

Sift flour with salt, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and baking soda.

In large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed, cream shortening until light and fluffy, gradually adding sugar. Blend in egg and molasses. Stir in flour mixture until well blended.

Shape dough into 1 ½ inch balls, roll in granulated sugar. Place 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with fingers; sprinkle more sugar on top.
Bake 8 – 10 minutes.

Cool and store in tightly covered container. Makes 18

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Celebrate Christmas with Us!

Hi Friends,

White Rose Author, Cindy K Green is hosting a White Christmas Jubilee over at her blog!

Here are the details:
Come one, Come all to a special Christmas Book Giveaway Event!
December 8th to the 14th -- 14 Authors ~ 14 Holiday Book Giveaways

Monday, December 8th – Rose Ross Zediker & Jan Scarbrough
Tuesday, December 9th – Pamela Thibodeaux & Linda Swift
Wednesday, December 10th – Cindy K. Green & Sarita Leone
Thursday, December 11th – Kara Lynn Russell & Anna Kathryn Lanier
Friday, December 12th – Marianne Arkins & Stacey Joy Netzel
Saturday, December 13th – Nan Jacobs & Teri Wilson
Sunday, December 14th – Stacy Dawn & Carla Rossi

Also: Your favorite White Rose Authors are celebrating Christmas all month long right here on the White Roses in Bloom Blog!

Free Books, Holiday Recipes, and Excerpts to warm you to the tips of your toes.

Make sure to pop in everyday for a chance to win. There will be lots going on everyday--all day long.

Who knows, you may even receive a gift for posting a comment :-)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kids, family and Christmas.

Ah, Christmas. In the media hype of giving that special gift, I feel that the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, is often overlooked. He the reason for the season and I make sure my children know it. Yes, I let them believe in the magic of Santa Claus, but I also stress the importance of His birth. When it comes to gift giving, I also stress the 'it's better to give than receive' mantra, and that it's important to pick the right thing. The three wise men gave Jesus meaningful things. I make sure my children do the same with their aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and godparents. My children make their gifts for the family, which makes it personable and from the heart. Yes, it takes time, but anybody can go to the store and pick something out. My kids love the creative process and effort involved and love to hand out the gifts themselves. Just as Jesus shows His love for us every day, each time a family member looks at that smudged handprint on the side of their coffee cup, or that crazily hand-painted ornament on the tree, they know they are loved and blessed with the best gift of all.

Holiday Baking

Good Morning,

Baking for the holidays is a tradition in most homes, so that's why I incorporated it into the story in Through The Eyes of Love. Today I'd like to share a recipe passed down from my Grandma Ross. This is an easy and quick recipe that requires no cooking or baking so it's great for little hands to help with!

Creamy Chocolate Pie

1 small box of instant chocolate pudding
1 cup of milk

Mix together with whisk until thick. Add 1 1/2 cups whipped topping(lite doesn't work well). Pour into premade graham cracker crust. Top with the remaining whipping topping and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

I hope you enjoy this pie as much as my family has over the years.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

White Rose Christmas Celebration

It's time to get out the tinsel and the mistletoe because the White Roses in Bloom are ready to celebrate Christmas! Watch for special posts all through the month in which your favorite White Rose authors share stories, tips, recipes and more to help you get ready for Christmas. You won't want to miss it. It will be much more relaxing than a trip to the mall.

Come back often this month to join in the celebration!