One of my favorite places to visit is My Quiet Corner. It is a place of quiet reflection and inspiration. Today she is giving us the opportunity to share our Christmas traditions.
Our children are grown and gone – the nest is empty. Some of the traditions remain as we have welcomed precious grandchildren into our family and some have changed. When our children were little and we lived up north, one of our traditions was to go with a few other families from our little church and cut down our Christmas trees. We would drive out to the tree farm with the kids so bundled up in snowsuits, hats, mittens and boots they could scarcely walk and begin the search for the perfect Christmas tree. Usually there was snow on the ground and the kids had a great time playing in the snow while the Dads cut down the trees. Then we would load them up and head to someone’s house for hot chocolate and cookies.
Another tradition that centered on our little church was to load up the old school bus we used to transport those without vehicles to church on Sunday and go to the Nursing Home to sing Christmas Carols. I believe we each received much more of a blessing than we gave. The sweet looks on the faces of those precious people would have to have warmed even the coldest heart. After we made several more stops it was back to our friends’ home for hot chocolate and Christmas goodies (we knew how to have a good time!).
Our kids have such wonderful memories of those times. We still talk about them when we gather together for Christmas.
There are several traditions that have continued. My daughter and I always bake sugar cookies (in addition to the traditional ones I bake every Christmas – Cookie Bars, Pecan Tarts, Thumbprints, Russian Tea Cakes, Sour dough Cookies). The recipe makes dozens of cookies so the deal is I bake the cookies and she does the decorating. In recent years we have added the grandchildren to the cookie decorating detail. They ice and sprinkle to their hearts content.
I started baking a birthday cake for Jesus when the kids were young and that is another tradition that continues. One year I mentioned that I might not bake the usual birthday cake and my son looked so stricken I quickly reassured him that on second thought I would bake it. We have it after the traditional lasagna dinner (everyone being tired of turkey by then). I like it because I can prepare the lasagna in advance and all I have to do is heat it up on Christmas day.
We have always attended Christmas Eve service – sometimes a candle light service, other times singing in the choir. It is a drawing closer to the Lord – a remembering the miraculous gift He wrapped in the form of a tiny baby over two thousand years ago. It is the underpinning of what makes our traditions special – this knowing why we celebrate. How empty it would be if all it was was the exchanging of gifts. How rich and full it is knowing that we have The Gift within our hearts.
My thursday post is at Laced With Grace. It's all about kicking rocks. See you there!
21. I find it sheer joy to listen to my four (soon to be five) year old granddaughter Hannah. Her conversation is so earnest. She has so much she wants to share. The big thing this time was her tooth. She lost her first tooth last week and received four quarters from the Tooth Fairy. When I asked her what happened to her tooth, she said (in a very matter of fact voice)- "It got fairied away." Grandma should have known that. I treasure these little conversations and store them in a special compartment in my heart.
22. The warmth of sitting around a campfire in the chill night air and quietly watching the flames dance.
23. The laughter that comes even in the face of difficult times.
24. The sound of fallen leaves crunching under the tires of my bike.
25. Knowing that someone is praying for me.
26. The comfort of a hot chocolate and a good book.
27. The love and faith that binds our family together.
I have enabled my comments once again. I thought it would be all right. If, however, I let things get "unbalanced" again I will know I need to turn it off. Please know that I try to read all your posts. I just don't always comment. You are very dear to me.
This is the little cabin we called home last week. It was cozy and warm (for those of us who don't really like to rough it - it came equipped with a.c. and heat - lovely).
The first few days it was warm enough to eat outdoors.
We had plans to have fish prepared over an open fire. Alas, the fish were not cooperative. This is our son Todd and his younger daughter Hannah.
Our granddaughters, Lauren and Hannah, patiently waiting for a nibble.
On Wednesday night a cold front blew in. We dragged out our winter clothes and went for a hike on Thanksgiving morning. Here is Hannah with her walking stick, ready to take on the elements.
Our daughter Lisa trying to keep warm. She drove my Mom and Dad up to the campgrounds on Thanksgiving Day.
We had a wonderful time. We had been through a very difficult week leading up to the trip and we needed the peace and rest of this lovely place. These are just a few of the precious blessings God has so generously poured into my life. They are the loved ones that fill my life with joy.
Our older son and his family were planning to join us on Friday, but an emergency appendectomy changed their plans. Our twelve year old grandson Jared had to have his appendix removed in the early morning hours the day after Thanksgiving. He is doing well. We are very thankful.
I pray you all had a blessed Thanksgiving.
"Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks unto the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.
And now let the weak say,' I am strong',
Let the poor say,' I am rich', because of what the Lord has done for us.
Give Thanks." (Don Moen)
We will be celebrating Thanksgiving in little cabins in the woods this year. We leave tomorrow morning and will be gone several days. Have a blessed week, and I'll see you soon.
Thank you so much for the help. I knew you would all come to my rescue. They're back!! I didn't do a thing. All of a sudden they just appeared. I am so happy!
You are just the sweetest, dearest people in the world. Thank you for your help!
Tomorrow you will find me here. It's a devotional about "Surrender".
I have nothing brilliant to share right now. We've had a difficult week. My bathtub is filling with hot, bubbly water, and I plan on a nice long soak. Perhaps tomorrow I will be feeling more creative.
I seem to have lost all my bloglines. I don't know if its me or if something is (hopefully) wrong with them. So I won't be visitng anyone for now. If I can remember all the blog addresses I had, I will begin tomorrow. See you then...
posted at 8:38 PM
I will try to get down here occassionally to read email and try to read a few blogs during my alloted time. I really miss my little computer. Hopefully Dr. Geek will have it back to normal in no time. In the meantime, I will probably get lots more done around the house! Probably not a bad thing.
I'll be back as soon as I can.
posted at 2:32 PM
On Monday morning you will find me here. It's a little devotional about a plant I have which has had a very interesting life. Please join me there.
posted at 8:32 PM
To be grateful is to be “appreciative of benefits received”. Ann, whose beautiful posts make me think of the singing of an angelic choir, has invited us to participate in expressing our gratitude to the Lord by keeping a list of “One Thousand Gifts”. As I have read through her lists, filled with the little blessings the Father pours into our lives on a daily basis that we sometimes either take for granted or don’t notice at all, it has filled my own heart with a kind of joy that is warm and uplifting.
And so I begin recognizing those blessings, writing them down and recording them periodically in my own little corner:
1. The little lane I see as we ride our bikes along a country road. It is a dirt lane with grass growing down the middle. There is a sweet little gate at the end. It looks like something out of the “Secret Garden”.
2. Calling out “Hi Girls” to the cows who sit under the oak trees lazily chewing their cuds and watching as we pedal our bikes furiously up the little hill.
3. The fluffy white clouds against an impossibly blue sky.
4. The green fields of the farmer filled with huge bales of hay that look like giant empty spools scattered across the field.
5. Watching my husband ride with strength and grace for this day far ahead of me and then turning back to meet me and ride along side.
6. Spending the day with my Mom – working together to make beautiful wall hangings of Christmas angels.
7. Watching my Dad, feeling better and happily working on a carpentry project in his garage.
8. Conversations with my grown children.
9. My little granddaughter, cheeks flushed from playing hard, at the end of her soccer game.
10. Singing in the choir and sensing the presence of the Lord as we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” and everyone rises to their feet.
11. The first touch of cooler weather; opening all the windows in the house and letting the fresh breezes flow through the rooms.
12. Delicious homemade cookies my daughter sent home with her Dad after he worked for two days doing repairs on her home.
13. The smell of newly cut grass.
14. Butterflies brightening the way with their colorful, delicate wings.
15. A new puppy having the love of five children lavished on her.
16. My little granddaughter, seeing us coming and running with open arms to meet us.
17. The warmth and comfort of my bed on a chilly night.
18. Being called “Sweetie” and still feeling like a little girl when I’m with my Mom and Dad.
19. Looking into the sky on these clear, crisp evenings and seeing the numberless stars and knowing He knows each one by name.
20. Hearing my son called Pastor.
What love You have lavished on us Father!
posted at 1:07 PM
I will be sixty-one years old this month. For all but ten years of those sixty-one I have been a Christian. I came to know Him at the age of ten. It has been a journey with so many twists and turns because I have allowed fear to overshadow faith and because I have put self before surrender far too often.
A couple of years ago I came to a place in the road where the Lord said that it was here we would deal with these issues once and for all. He put a wall of circumstances in my path that I absolutely could not get around on my own. It was here that we would deal with the issues of trust and surrender. I was powerless to move that wall or to climb over it or to walk around it. I prayed for that – fervently – as I had never prayed before. The wall remained. I became angry and disappointed and decided to walk away. I lived buried beneath the weight of that wall and my self-imposed separation from God for months. I didn’t even pray, but there were others who were praying for me.
I finally came to the realization that even if I didn’t get my way in this thing, I couldn’t live apart from Him. There was nowhere else for me to go. There was no one else to turn to. I had to make a choice to trust – to surrender everything I held most dear – into the hands of a God who seemed so distant. I would have to give up trying to control my world and give it over to Him.
It began slowly, the process of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is all He has said He is. As I gradually released my tight-fisted grip on the controls of my life, He drew me in. Tears would course down my cheeks as I confessed my own selfishness and willfulness and acknowledged that He is good, loving, merciful, kind, forgiving, patient, gentle – all the time.
He did a work in my heart I cannot explain. One day I realized that where there had been tremendous anxiety there was peace; where there had been a dark despair there was hope, where there had been mourning and tears there was joy and laughter. Oh, what a loving Father He truly is.
I would like to say that from that time on I have been a perfect example of trust and surrender. Oh that it were so. There are so many areas that require my giving up of self and surrendering to His greater purposes. I am continually amazed at the way He works in my life. In my quiet time this morning I prayed once again for forgiveness in the area of self-control. My time, my eating, my service, my giving – they are all areas where I struggle. I always fight that fear that if I completely surrender there will be something too difficult required of me. I also confess to thinking foolishly far too often.
Here is what my little devotional said today:
“All the fears from our sinful nature and all the enemy’s lies are ignited to keep us from helplessly depending on God, who is our life!...In fact, our progress in the Christian life is in direct proportion to the degree we humble ourselves in complete, dependent abandonment up on Him.
Every time we lay aside what we want to do in our flesh and decide instead to let the Lord have His way through our self-giving, a few more links in the chains that bind us are broken. So instead of the annihilation we feared, we are released to live the life we were designed to live.” (Darien Cooper)
I had prayed just moments before reading that, that Jesus would take the chains that bind my heart and tear them asunder. I asked that He would give me strength and grace to walk in the victory that He has already given me. Wasn’t He kind and loving to answer me in such a clear way?
Oh Lord – You have loved me with an everlasting love. I am such an unworthy vessel of such love, but You are molding me into a vessel that is fit for Your service. How I thank You.
posted at 11:25 AM