Quiet and common notions...shared here...with you! Of life ~ our hearts and our home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Blessing

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It's a quiet here, this evening.  The lights are low and twinkling on the little Charlie Brown.
The littles are (soon) sound asleep... ;)
The kitchen is cleaned up after a quick and hurried dinner and from the whirlwind and flurry of cookie baking during the day.
The cards are sent and we're enjoying the ones that trickle in through our door.
It's time to "wrap up" the shopping and begin the gift-wrapping and any other last minute details... that still need to be tended to.

Not forgetting the reason for the season, in the least.

So far, we've enjoyed caroling...crafting...
and a Charles Dickens play/production... of the "Christmas Carol".
With more activity still to come.

We're also wishing, so badly, for some snowflakes to land our way...
That'd be really nice!!

In time.  They'll come...
Knowing this was coming, but never being fully prepared...
Our hearts are heavy.  The last day and a half have found us thinking of more the celebration of heaven than anything else.  Our landlord, Mr. A has entered his eternal home!  We're sad, but happy that he is free of any pain and suffering anymore.
This man - our friend - will be greatly missed.
We're grateful, we got to visit with him as much as we have.

This could also mean some really big changes for our family, in the upcoming year!
In fact, it will.

We thank you for your thoughts and prayers, in this regard.

I'll leave you tonight with this Christmas Blessing!
“Let Every Day Be Christmas”

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself.

Peace on Earth, good will to men,
kind thoughts and words of cheer,
are things we should use often
and not just once a year.

Remember too the Christ-child, grew up to be a man;
to hide him in a cradle, is not our dear Lord’s plan.
So keep the Christmas spirit, share it with others far and near,
from week to week and month to month, throughout the entire year!

written December 17th 1976
by Norman Wesley Brooks

Until next year....

Emmanuel - God with us!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Joy is never perfect!

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Yesterday, I decided I wanted to add a little touch of JOY to a corner of my kitchen.

Pulling out an old barn board, from when we visited Kaitlin and her family, back in April, was just the piece I needed...
I threw some white paint on there and handpainted the letters.  Not perfectly.

Joy is never perfect!
But how it results... is!

I like how this piece adds its touch to brighten our little corner of the kitchen.

But what I like even more... is this.

Jesus and Others and You!
What a wonderful way to spell JOY!
Jesus and Others and You.
In the life of each girl and each boy.
J is for Jesus, for he has first place.
O is for others we meet face to face.
Y is for you. And, for all that you do, 
Put yourself last and spell JOY!

A reminder for me, my children, for us...
as a family!!

May JOY brighten the corners of your heart and home this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Toffee Bars

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Everytime I serve these Toffee Bars there is a request for the recipe.  I know why, too.  They are so yummy.  A soft and chewy toffee center, smack dab in the middle of a delectable shortbread cookie crust and a chocolate coating on top.

Very simple to make, as well.

1/2 cup butter, plus 2 Tablespoons
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla
Chocolate Chips (semi-sweet are best!)

In a mixing bowl, beat 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), sugar and salt.  Stir in flour, mix. (Actually, I just cut the butter into the flour - to make coarse crumbs.. do this!!  You'll love the flaky texture.)  Remove and press into a (lightly greased) 9x13" or 7"x11" baking pan.  Bake at 350* for 15 minutes or until edges are browned.  NOTE:  If you have a pampered chef bar pan (medium/small, 7'x11" size), you'll want to use this.  It makes these bars so awesome!!!!!!!!!!

In a saucepan, heat milk and 2 T. butter, just till bubbly.  Stir in 2 tsp. vanilla.  Pour over hot crust and return to oven for another 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle (a handful or your preference) chocolate chips over the top.  Let the chips "melt" nicely before spreading over the bars.

**These can be stored in the fridge or freezer.

One of my favorite bar cookies to add to the tray - for the Holiday's!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Kisses

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I want to share something, with you,  Something that I heard on the radio the other morning.  A story that certainly brought a tear to my eye. Of course! This is a thought provoking, but beautiful story.  I have to tell you, I don't remember it word-for-word, so this is my paraphrased, colorfully added to and close-to-my-heart edited version, as it came to mind...as best as it could.

Please enjoy... Christmas Kisses!

This wasn't an "easy year". His life had turned a furious upside down.  Money was tight.  There wouldn't be much of a Christmas this year.  Tension mounted, in his soul, with every passing day. Could he feel any more scrooge-like?  It's not like it mattered.

When he noticed the empty cardboard roll from wrapping paper; last year's only remaining roll - lying on the floor with snips and shreds of gold paper by its side, he became infuriated at the thought of this completely wasted paper!!

Taking it out on his darling soon-to-be four year old, the obvious guilty party... he noticed the gold box tucked in and under the branches of their scraggly Charlie Brown.  He fumed.  Sending her to bed, that cold Christmas Eve, leaving her in tears and hard, harsh words in her ear.

He sat in fuming silence... angry.  Angry that life had taken such a turn and that his life and dreams were unraveling to a tangled mess, like any string of lights always do.  This year? Poof, his lights were out! He was doing his best, but he had nothing left.  He hardly cared any more and why should he?

The dreaded Christmas morning came and he woke to the pitter patter of his girl's bare feet.  Through sleep deprived eyes he observed she held in her hand the fated gold wrapped box, wrapped as best as any near four year old could do.  Embarrassed by last night's overreaction - he tried his best to muster a smile for his girl, especially as he realized the effort she had made to grant this gift to him. Rising from his bed, looking as disheveled as he felt. He took the gift from her hand...amazed at once by its nare rattle and lightness.

No surprise, here, that is anger mounted once more- when he opened it to find not a single thing was inside the box!

"ELLIE, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO PUT SOMETHING INSIDE", he yelled.  "You don't give empty boxes as gifts..." he continued in a degrading huff.  "Don't you know that when you give someone a gift you're supposed to actually put something inside the box?",  and he tossed it to the floor.

His little girl looked up at him with spilling tears in her eyes and said, "Oh, Daddy, it's not empty".  "I blew kisses into the box.  Lots of them! Until the whole box was filled up - all the way to the top". Her voice trembled... "all of them are for you, Daddy!" - wiping her eyes and tucking in her lip, cringing at what might come next.

However, This time the father was crushed.  He put his arms around his little girl and sobbed. Begging her for forgiveness he picked up the box, with its crumpled gold paper and held it near, almost crushing it between them as he embraced his young girl's tear-stained face again and again. His own tears failing to subside...

Later that night, as he settled his little one into her bed, he sat by her side for a long, long time. Till her sweet little breaths began to even out into deep and peaceful sleep.

How could such a little one have this great a love for him, despite his constant shortcoming and rage... a love like this?  When he was such a mess?  Christmas.

  Christmas isn't Christmas - till it happens in your heart!

He sat to his thoughts a humbled man.

Time moved on...

And for each Christmas thereafter, the father and daughter, continued to exchange that one "empty gift box" - wrapped and rewrapped in gold paper as a constant reminder of their gifts of love and forgiveness that they had for one another.  You see!  Just days before her eighth birthday - his daughter passed with an unforeseen, unexpected illness that took her so young a life.  It could have been yet another twisted turn to his already unsettled past.  But love and time had changed this man. Nothing could steal his joy!  His joy of Christmas!  Nothing.

The story goes on to relate that this forever-changed man kept that box by his bed for the days and years to come, as a ready reminder. Whenever he felt down or discouraged by life's continued unraveling - he would take out an imaginary kiss - and remember the great love of the child, his child, who had put it there.

To this day, those kisses have never run dry.

Love has come at Christmas.  
Love for us, Oh LOVE divine! 
He was born at Christmas.  
Love be yours and mine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Let's decorate... for Christmas!!

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Let the decorating and the re-decorating begin! :)

My goodness, my goodness, 
It's Christmas again.
The bells are all ringing.
I do not know when
I've been so excited.
The tree is all fixed, 
The candles are lighted,
The pudding is mixed.
The wreath's on the door
And the carols are sung,
The presents are wrapped
And the holly is hung.
The turkey is sitting 
All safe in its pan,
And I am behaving 
As calm as I can.

~ Marchette Chute

This re-decorating part... I have a feeling this will be done again and again.  Thanks to my little stinker who is behaving as calm as she can. :)  An appropriate poem for today!

Have a wonderful week!

** Linking this post with Tuesday @ Ten - Finding the Grace Within

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Seasons Come and Go :: Five Minute Friday

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"Mom!" He complained... "these really hurt", speaking of the new expander appliance he has in his mouth, which only happened to be a few hours old.  "I want to rip em out", he said, with passion!!  And - to my reply - he asked..."what's a season?", as if what he's been through has been an eternity already!

"A season is like the start and end of baseball.  The start and end of football.  The start and end of racing... the first day through to the last day of hunting season!
 Me trying to speak his language... 
"The start and end of spring, summer, fall and winter.  Here for awhile and then it stops.  On to another."

"This mouth thingy - it, too, is just a season.  It will have an end!!  Don't worry!

"The deal is - we've got to be patient in and through the season.   Sometimes we wish for it to end already and other times - we wonder where it all went?  Why did it have to end so soon?

Are you in a season of waiting, wondering and why?

I can relate to my son.  Sometimes the beginning and ending get muddy and it's hard to see or know clearly from one moment to the next... where you're at in the said season of your life.

Personally, I don't always like change, but I do enjoy the fact that seasons come and seasons go!

Update on my son:  he's already pretty much adjusted to this change in his life and riding it out with ease... for the most part!

 Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, comes to mind.. I hope you don't mind that I share these verses with you.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.


Joining up with Kate from Heading Home for Five Minute Friday
 The prompt was: season

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tuesday @ Ten :: Determined

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Determined.... or relentless?

I have a precious four year old daughter who I so badly want to refer to as Relentless Jayne!  I don't think the name would bless her, overall; I mean, what kind of name is that?  And - yet...this is what she is!!!!! If you look closely, her picture is in the dictionary under such said word. :)

 Honestly - I don't call her this to her face but I have referenced this endearment to others, in the moment.  Because, I really do love this little one.  Her "gift" to the family dynamic is strong and powerful like a falling rain that won't stop.  I say endearment because it is true... an endearing reminder that for every time this trait emerges... I should think to pray.

I do.  But, not enough, I'm sure.

My prayer for my young daughter is that this spirit of will - will not depart from her, but only grow in a more sanctified direction.
That this will ultimately be a blessing in her life.

A determination to overcome!  A will to surrender.
A temperament that will only soften but remain strong in the face of trial.
A relentlessness in prayer and petition to a loving and Holy God!
This is a beautiful thing... in the right way and context.
That these moments for her will not be for self-gain but for the blessing of others and giving glory, ultimately, to the Lord.

Oh Lord, I pray for my little one that you would continue to soften her heart...
And Lord,  I want this for me!

How can I learn from my own daughter?  What can I learn from this?
I do know my response, to her, isn't nearly as patient and sanctified as it should be - in these moments - and that right there is what and where I am determined to makes changes - and so with prayer and petition I humbly ask for help!  Lord, I so need you in this...

I found a semi-humorous quote the other day that speaks to this...

Some people think they have a strong will when rather what they have is a strong won't.

How true!

Why do we often think this all as a negative - when really it is and can be an ever more important positive aspect in anyone's life?

May the teaching moments continue...
Linking today's post with Finding the Grace Within - Tuesday @ Ten
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