Holiday Preparations


Before ‘Enhanced’, HD, and Blue Ray — my goodness before Videos & DVDS . . .

Do you remember waiting with expectation and excitement for the Christmas Specials? 

So much is lost with the “I want it so I will buy it” mentality. Yes, we own Rudolph and Frosty along with several other ‘classics’. When we want to watch them we just insert disc, push a botton and voila — It is Christmas. It saddens me that our children missed the waiting, the begging to eat dinner in the living room in front of the TV, the pleading to stay up a little later to watch a Christmas Special. 

These clips warmed my heart and I hope they remind you of a simpler time . . .

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During my life as a mother — part of my faith journey and that of our family can be documented by the role of Santa Claus in our holiday celebrations.

Stage One:  I was a ‘collector’ of Santa Claus. I loved him!  The traditional version, the historical version, the chic version, and the classic version. Every nook and cranny had a Santa Claus. Both our girls were avid ‘believers‘.

Stage Two: Santa’s gift giving moderated. He brought 3 gifts for each child and left them in a particular chair in the living room. I stopped obsessing collecting.

Stage Three: We began transferring our daughters’ affection from Santa to St. Nicholas. At least he was real. Thankfully, I had the sense to not fall for the nativity scenes with Santa holding baby Jesus!

Stage Four: Our third child was born and he never knew Santa. I got rid most every Santa figure. We still have 4, I cannot part with them because of the memories. It was liberating to not have to suffer through the moment when your child realizes {often traumatized} that Santa does not exist.

So as my faith in Christ progressed, as I desired for my family to love our Savior and not the Santa; Santa’s role and place in our lives diminished.

I am not going to lie and say it was easy. It was actually heart-wrenching. Even this year, there is a huge part of me that is somewhat, irrationally, sad that we don’t participate with the world. I am not going to go so far as to say that Santa is sinful. But what I will say is that the whole Santa experience is representative of sin in my life.

Drawn into the glitter, the promise of joy, the desire to be satisfied, the magic, the experience,
and the world.

Dividing my heart between 2 masters.

Author, John Heywood, first used this phrase at least in its written form in 1546. The paradox means that we can’t have it both ways. If you ‘eat’ your cake then you no longer ‘have’ it.

Isn’t this what Christmas is to the masses. {Setting aside the nagging questions about even celebrating Christmas that seems contrary to reformed theology — Yvonne wrote a great post on this discussion}

Let’s just go with the flow . . .

cross-and-mangerWe want to celebrate the birth of Christ. We want to usher Him in with twinkling lights, stirring hymns, generous gift giving, donations of money & time, nativity scenes, stepped up devotions and church attendance, even birthday cakes. A worthy, hyped-up Christian response to the world-changing event of God sending His Son to live among humanity.

But what happens on December 26th —  when baby Jesus is packed away with the lights, the stockings, the nutcrackers, and the wreaths?

This is the true test of a believer’s heart; because according to the church calendar we are marching towards the death and resurrection of that precious baby.

You see, we can’t have the manger and forget/neglect the cross. It’s not even that it’s hypocritical — it is just foolish and short-sighted.

Foolish to focus all our energies on the birth of Christ when His purpose was to die — die for us. The birth is the smallest part of the story, albeit, a miracle but a glorious mean to an eternal, costly end.

‘Christmas’ doesn’t require anything of us. There are increased opportunities for sure to study Scripture, worship, love my neighbor, and reflect Christ but it doesn’t REQUIRE anything of me.

However, the death and resurrection of Jesus REQUIRES everything of me. “You were bought with a price” (1Corinthians 7:21) I am no longer my own. I am not the lord of my life.  My wants and desires don’t matter. It is all about His wants and desires for my life and more times than not — we disagree.

“But put on the Lord” (Romans 13:14) This phrase summarizes the continual spiritual process in which those who have been saved by faith are transformed into His image and likeness. — John MacArthur study notes.

May the Lord bless your celebration of  His birth and remember how much we cost the baby in the manger.

biscotti-pileMaybe it’s the word ‘biscotti’ that’s intimidating because these are quite easy, elegant, delicious and sure to please someone special. Each year, I ask myself why do I make these just once a year? They are my husband’s favorite.

These are not rock hard but somewhat soft in the middle and harder towards the edges.

~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**

 

6T. butter, melted
1/3 c. oil
1/2 cup sugar & 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 t. vanilla extract
1 t. run or butterscotch extract — I use rum extract
3 eggs
3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1-1/2 cup Heath bar bits (found alongside chocolate chips)
1/2 c. pecans, chopped

Cream together butter, oil, sugars in mixing bowl. Mix in vanilla nd extracts. Add eggs. Add dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture. Add Heath bar bits and pecans.  p1010076

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Form into 2 logs about 8″x3″.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 (check at 20 minutes) or until center is set.
Cool for 10 – 15 minutes. Slice crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.
Return slices, cut side down, to baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes on one side, then turn over and bake opposite side an additional 5 minutes.
Cool on wire racks.

p1010077

christmas1

The Night Before Christmas

by Christy Taulbee

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the home,

Children were still studying for their test on Rome.

Mom was planning, she had just an hour,

To teach ‘one more lesson’ before their night shower.  

 A whole week of vacation, the children were thrilled, But Mom saw the lesson plans, and the blocks were still filled.

“Can I stop for a day, much less a whole week?”

Just the thought of time off, made me shudder and shriek!  

 Would they remember anything, would they fall behind?
“Lord, I need your help, just give me a sign!!!”  

Then out on the sidewalk, I saw my five boys,
And I heard them say, “it’s not about toys.”

To the neighborhood kids, they explained Jesus’ birth,

And how through Jesus, not toys, we gain our worth.  

 At that point, math and spelling and learning to write,
Meant little to me as I had lost the sight

Of what teaching at home was truly about.

Then I sat at my desk and began to pout.  

 The pouts turned to sobs, “Lord what have I done?
It’s not about grades, but to follow your Son!”

“Please guide me and show me my job is to teach,

and turn them to you, and of Jesus I’ll preach.”  

 Now we’ll put away books and not open them ’til later,
We’ll focus on Jesus, our Lord and Creator.

It’s His day and so we will all celebrate,

I’ll never mention the words “behind” or “we’re late”.  

 So, Thank You, Lord, for blessing me,
With such a great husband and family.

Now homeschooling moms,

TURN OUT THE SCHOOL LIGHT!

And, “Happy Christmas To All And To All A Good Night!”

 

Thanks to Crossroad Minsitries

cake-ball-1This has to be the best, homemade, gift-giving recipe that I have EVER done! If you have more time than money this recipe is for you!

It doesn’t get much simpler:

Step 1:  Cake mix baked by following directions on box, can of store-bought frosting.
Step 2:  Crumble cake in large bowl add frosting; create ‘truffle’ size balls with wet fingers. Place on baking sheets and refrigerate for an hour.
Step 3:  Dip in melted almond bark (chocolate or vanilla); embellish with sprinkles or frosting in a cake decorating tube with small tip. This is where the ‘more time than money’ surfaces. It took about 2 hours to dip the 150 ball and will gladly do it several more times!

The possible combinations are endless. For complete instructions and creative combinations visit All Recipes.com.

cake-ball-2

My favorite is chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, dipped in chocolate! 90 scrumptious balls were created from this recipe. I also made Strawberry cake, vanilla frosting, vanilla dip. 60 melt-in-your mouth balls were created with this combo.

Slated for tomorrow: German Chocolate cake, caramel pecan frosting, chocolate dip and Chocolate cake, mint chocolate frosting, chocolate dip.

They keep well, pack nicely in small containers, and are loved by all who receive!

giftsWith lives overrun with abundance, excessiveness, and even opulence;
this season of remembering and celebrating the birth of Christ quietly
draws us to the
simplicity of Jesus.

 

We hunger for less frivolity and more meaning.

We hunger for less emptiness and more fullness.

We hunger for less mediocre and more excellence.

We hunger for less of ourselves and more of Him.

and the answer, the solution, is found in Jesus Christ. As Paul tells the Colossians:

My purpose is that they may . . . have . . . complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2,3

Yes, there is a ‘mystery of God’ to the human, finite mind but we have ‘complete understanding‘ the key, the Rosetta stone, the answer!

“namely, Christ”

Paul boldly confronts both the ancient world and our own world with these two verses. In these days, we are surrounded and bombarded with wise-in-their-own-eyes ‘teachers’ who claim to possess secret wisdom, transcendent knowledge, and hidden truths ~~ Spiritual elitists.

In sharp contrast, Paul declares that ALL and COMPLETE richness of truth necessary for salvation, sanctification, and glorification is found in Jesus Christ.

God hides His gift in Jesus Christ who Himself is God revealed.

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