Friday, December 28, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

The United States is one country that no longer celebrates the 12 days of Christmas as a whole. But there are families that do so in a small way, either through their church services or as a obscure family tradition that they no longer know the reason for. Epiphany, sometimes known as 3 Kings Feast, means "manifestation" and ends on January 6th, 12 days after Christmas. You can google Epiphany and find many sites to research it. It's meaning is that Christ was manifested (or revealed) to the Gentile world because of the visit from the Gentile Wise Men. That is also why we light festive candles during the Christmas season, Christ's coming means to us as Christians that He is the Light of the Gentile world. It may not be the day of the Wise Men's visit, just as December 25th probably isn't the day Christ was born, but these are the days that were chosen to celebrate them. It can be a nice tradition to mark a special event if you don't get caught up in any of the superstitious traditions that can be associated with it. Since Stevie will always be living with us, the 12 Days stocking gifts will always be fun to do.

In my childhood I grew up Lutheran, being descended from German stock. Our Christmas decorations stayed up until January 6th. I loooved this because our tree didn't get decorated until Christmas Eve. Also, when Christmas vacation ended, the slump of going back to school was lessened when I'd come home and still feel like Christmas wasn't over quite yet, at least for a couple more days.

I started a tradition with my kids of putting a small gift in a Christmas stocking each of those 12 days. When school started, looking in the stocking was the first thing to do when coming home. Sometimes it would be a regular gift that I forgot about because I hid it too well and would come across it after Christmas. I thought this helped to ease the let-down of Christmas being over, and extend the festivity in a small way.
The small gifts were just things I might find at the dollar store, or a cute novelty candy, hair accessory or cosmetic, a plaster figure to paint, a fast food coupon, or even a dollar bill.

I for one enjoy the ambiance of tiny colored lights til way after Christmas. I don't put them up right after Thanksgiving like a lot of households, more like 1 week before, so I enjoy them staying up, but sometimes it's just because I procrastinate. One time I didn't feel like taking them down until February, but I would have welcomed someone taking them down for me earlier. Steve's not into the whole decorations thing so he leaves it in my hands and I don't like to bother him with any of it, unless I need help with something tough, so as I get older there are less being put up.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Have A Merry Christmas!

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. Luke 2:30-32

Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Ever Present Issue At Christmas

A lot of us probably have loved ones who do not celebrate Christmas or maybe just not some of it's traditions, whatever the reasons may be. Even my husband and I have to find a happy medium with each other in regard to some of the Christmas traditions. This issue seems to have been around forever, so I don't see there being perfect harmony about it any time soon. Whether I agree with someone else or not I keep in mind that their self denial or celebration may be sincerely committed to the Lord. Romans 14 tells us that we are not to judge or regard with contempt anyone who finds joy in observing some days as special or those who do not regard some days as special.

There are some who do celebrate, as well as some who do not, who have become so critical and bitter toward
those who don't share their convictions that they have no spirit of kindness and make this into a matter of more importance than it really is. And then we also see others really indulging in greed and waste, and encouraging this in their children. These bad sides of the holiday can stir up in us reactions of frustration or criticism. We do not have to let all this get us down or go along with any of these practices, but keep our hearts and minds focused on our own reason for celebrating (or abstaining from) and the example of Christs love that we are setting before our children, and others who watch our lives.

There will always be discord in the brethren, none of us have grown so much that we are perfect yet, so I do think we have to keep our motives constantly in check, and let your soul be in true worship and love for Jesus who, by loving each of us, with our baggage and everything, shows us how to love each other. We are less likely to criticize others when we love and pray for them. Christ wants us to be known foremost for our love, and to consider how we would want to be treated with patience (that does not mean to be tolerant of blatant intentional sin). So count the cost of that stand you are taking, and if it truly is worth any unintended discord it may cause.

Here is a good audio Q&A on this topic (click on Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?),

Keep in mind also that, for some, the coming of Christmas stirs up memories of a painful event. Here is what one Christian author wrote to a friend in pain at Christmas:

" It's not at all surprising that Christmas is hard for you this year. The reason for Christmas is the same as it ever was, and nothing is more essential to our lives than the incarnation.

What's different for you, I expect, is that the traditions we wrap around Dec. 25 to make it different from other days, those traditions and activities are as nothing to you this year. In fact, the thought of them probably weighs like a lump of lead in your belly. That's okay!

Trees are nothing. Feasts are nothing. Lights are nothing. Music is nothing.
Only Christ matters. He is the only reason that you can be on any sort of journey with God, that you can have anything at all to do with God.

Only Jesus matters. Hold on to that. One time I told someone in hard times, "Just hang in there." But she corrected me, "I'm not just hanging in there. I'm trying to hang on to Jesus."
So please, just keep hanging on to Jesus. "

May our decorations, gifts, and festivities—or lack of them—never block our view of Him, but always point us toward Him.

Adapted Noel Piper's book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cute Gift Idea

I ran across these resin figurines that I think are pretty unique, and affordable. I gave two of them to some very special senior ladies in our church who were Awana and Sunday school teachers for many years, and were also involved with my children.
I know, I should have shared this earlier, but if you plan on getting a gift after Christmas or for next year, this may be what you're looking for.
Scroll down to "Here's the Church" and " Jesus Loves Me".

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Frugality pt. 4

I've been off the computer for a while, partly busy, partly brain freeze. But I thought I should finish up my posts on Frugal Christmas.

Here are some gift ideas for CHILDREN that may help stimulate creativity. Sorry I haven't taken the time to Google for pictures of these:
1. Terracotta flower pots with a few patio paints and stencils or sponge stamps (from craft store). You could even add potting soil, seeds and water can or mister.
2. Personalized shirt. Give a solid blank T-shirt, cap or pillowcase with a few colors of brushable fabric paint, shaped sponges or stencil. Let them draw or write what they want on it.
3. Photo puzzle. Enlarge a photo of their pet, friend, grandparents, etc, glue it to a piece of heavy poster board, foamboard or illustration board. Cut it into pieces with a razor cutter like a puzzle to fit together.
4. Art supplies. A roll of blank newspaper from your newspaper printer. Add assortment of crayons, markers, chalks, stencils & stamps. You could even add an editor's cap and apron.
5. Building blocks. If you have a table saw, make a bunch of different shaped building blocks. For the older child make pieces that will become a treasure box, bird house or other small object. Include hammer and small nails.
6. Pet & chart. If you are giving a pet to your child, include a care book and a chart of responsibilities and rewards to motivate the care of the pet. *(A hermit crab is a low maintenance pet and one that they can easily carry around. My daughter would let it crawl on her tummy while she lay watching tv, or on her bed as she did homework.)

As always, I would like to hear your other ideas, so feel free to share.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Story Behind the Hymn #2 - Joy to the World

Joy To The World - Isaac Watts
Here is an interesting story about the origin of the well loved Christmas song, which states:
"Ironically, Watts never intended his hymn for Christmas use. Instead, he simply intended to paraphrase the words of Psalm 98: "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth . . . for he comes. . ." (vs. 4, 9)."

At the same site you can find the hymn story, listen to the song, and a summary of Isaac Watts' life.

Here you'll find out that some churches felt that singing songs that were humanly composed, as opposed to scripture Psalms, was too worldly and this issue had split many churches.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Frugal Christmas pt.3 -crafty gifts

Here's another entry for Frugal Christmas hosted by Taya at Pure Joy
I plan to post more ideas in a few days, so check back. You can click on the pictures to get a bigger view.
Fridge Magnets: Wood cutouts from the craft store that you paint how you want, then glue on a strip of magnet, that comes in a roll.
Name Plaque: Decoupage a calligraphy parchment name plaque. Write the meaning of the name and then a verse. If it's for a married couple put both names on. *Another idea is to put your children's hand prints on a plaque for the grandparents. In later years the kids can compare their old prints.
Stepping stones: Most craft stores have stepping stone molds and small cement packs, also press in alphabets so you can make words. Outdoor patio craft paints make the words pop. Use cut pieces of stained glass if you know how.

Sweatshirt appliqué: Fabric cut-outs ironed on to inexpensive sweatshirts with fusible web. outline it all with thick-type fabric paint to secure edges. (this part is tricky not to touch while you're doing it. Let dry for hours and don't wash for a few days. Choose a subject of interest to the recipient.

Sachets: for drawers, storage boxes or hangers. Sew a 4"x4" square from cotton fabric and fill with your favorite dried herbs, spices (cloves, lemon peel) or flowers. Us fiber filler for volume. Stack 4 of the pillow squares and tie together with ribbon to give.

Heating bag: to warm feet when you first get in bed, or hands when you first come home, or just to snuggle with. Sew a 14"x18" rectangle of flannel in half. Fill with 4c. uncooked rice and a handful of lavender (or a Tablesp. of cloves). Write instructions to heat in microwave for 1-2 min. on high before using.

Frozen cookie dough: We usually have so many cookies around for Christmas, so make up batches of different kinds of ready-to-bake cookie dough to give as gifts that they can enjoy when all the cookies are gone. You could even pre-form into balls the size for the cookies and freeze on a cookie sheet pan. Or roll into long loaf and cut slices for each cookie. When frozen put each batch into labeled freezer bags, then into a plastic container if desired. Include the baking instructions. Keep in freezer until ready to give. Try to find out ahead of time if the recipient will have room in their freezer. They will be able to cook as few at a time whenever in the mood, or use it to save time for a party. Frozen dough will last longer in the freezer than baked cookies will.
Come back again for more frugal Christmas ideas.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Tagged Again

I was tagged for another meme last week, by Amy at Laughing Through The Tears, but didn't know it til yesterday because I've had to cut down on blogging time.
It looks like fun, but it is a little too long for me, so I might be brief, and I cut out '4 people who e-mail me regularly'. I like to keep most of my posts on the short side if possible because I have too much going on this time of year. So here goes.

4 jobs I've had:
1. Sears (in the sign printing room, back in the day when they had to print up their own product signs) (1 year)
2. College cafeteria 3x week (4 mos.)
3. College Dean's house cleaner and babysitter 1-2x week (4 mos)
4. Revco drugstore, cashier and stocker (6 mos)
I think this is the only outside work experience I've had. I had a few steady babysitting jobs for working mothers, and I've tried Avon for a few months. No Soc.Sec. checks for me.

4 movies I would watch over and over:
I watch a LOT of the movies I like many times, but I'll pick some types
1. Most classic musicals: Fiddler on the Roof, Yentl, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, Singing in the Rain
2. Movies based on classic books: Captains Courageous, Swiss Family Robinson, Old man & the Sea, Tale of 2 Cities, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
3. Period settings such as Jane Austen, Dickens, Bronte; - Pride & Prejudice, Washington Square, Bleak House, Great Expectations
4. Movies based on true stories
5. Christian movies
6. Disney
7. Old 40's super stars
Help! I can't stop!

4 places I've lived:
1. Hometown (Detroit suburban outskirts)
2, 3, 4, 5. Indiana -all within a 10mi. radius for the first 2 years we were married. Been at #5 for 31 years now As long as I'm with Steve, I'll move again.

4 TV shows I watch:
Too many to pick, check out my profile.

4 places I've been:
1. Colorado family vacation to visit a long lost relative (10 yrs old)
2. Tahquamena Falls, upper peninsula & Mackinaw Island (separate trips - 17, 42, 49 yrs old)
3. So. Carolina - "the Wilds" church camp, Awana trip chaperons with my hubby.(20 yrs old)
4. Scotland - to visit Deliverance & Josh while Josh was going to U. of Edinburgh, with my favorite companion, Steve (51 yrs old)

4 favorite books:
1. Bible
2-4. All the others (again, see profile)

4 places I'd -rather be- like to go (for now):
1. Scotland again
2. Plimoth Plantation English Village, Indian homesite and Mayflower II
3. Creation Museum, Kentucky
4. I usually would rather be on the couch !

4 things I'm looking forward to next year:
1. Getting my "catch-all" basement straightened up, at least a little
2. All my family members being alive & healthy
3. Visiting my folks in Michigan 3-4 times
4. Being married to Steve for another year

Sorry I couldn't be more interesting, it's late, I'm impatient because there's things to get done before Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas Past?

Over the last few years our society has deemed it "politically incorrect" to display or say anything remotely having a Christian influence. "Merry Christmas" is replaced with "Happy Holidays" out of respect to those with other beliefs. Now, I know there is nothing sinful about saying Happy Holidays, but I don't want to just roll over when a pushy minority is trying to wipe Christ out of society and retailers are afraid to allow their employees to verbalize anything Christian. Our government leaders tell us to support & encourage Eastern & Mid-eastern religions to publicly practice their religion so they will feel accepted and we can learn tolerance, yet the Christianity that this country was founded on must now be hidden. It makes me think that soon it will be illegal to speak of Jesus and carry a Bible in public, possibly a hate crime against those whom it offends. Wouldn't that be right in line with the other Christian influences that society is trying to ban? It has always made me cringe each time I see Christ crossed out of the word Christmas with a big X, and children learning to hold Santa in higher esteem than Jesus. Each year it has become more unsuccessful to find Christmas programing that portrays the real meaning of Christmas. So many people now-a-days think it is child abuse if some parents choose not to lie to their children about Santa Claus, or not make that and a fulfilled wish list the focal point for Christ's birthday. I once overheard one woman say that she wished such parents would have their children taken away. With that becoming a popular opinion it may not be far away from coming to light.
So far we may still display a nativity on our own private property, and most of our pastors may get away with teaching us what God has to say about our lifestyles. But, even in some of our allied countries, to verbalize Bible passages about sin IS a hate crime and Christians are in jail, lose their job and home, leaving their wife and kids to fend for themselves, or have their children raised by others that "will do a better job". It causes me to wonder how fast this will progress in our country.
We depend on the upcoming generations to be equipped to stand strong in their beliefs but it seems so many, by the time they are teens, don't know what they believe or why, so they're open to every popular idea. It's a great responsibility to teach our future adults to be discerning enough to not be swayed by political correctness, to be willing to pay the price for the stands that God expects them to take, and even to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
I would like to encourage you to greet the people you meet with "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays", have your decorations and cards reflect the real meaning of Christmas, find ways to keep your children's thoughts on the reason for the gift of a Savior, and ask everyone to practice these freedoms as long as we have them. Maybe we can make it more difficult for society to make the reason for Christmas a thing of the past.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Where does a Pit Bull Sleep?

Anywhere He wants to! (especially if he's spoiled) Awww - Scooby

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Boy Meets Girl

These are Steve and my senior pictures. 2 years after each of us became followers of Christ (in different parts of the country) and 1 year before we married. The other picture is 2 1/2 years after we married and I was 4 months pregnant with Deliverance. I have, on occasion, looked longingly at that youthfulness, thinking how fleeting it was. But actually the change took place over 34 years, so ya have to expect "life" to happen. What I need to be examining more intently is what kind of life I tried to lead since that time. Have I reflected Christ where He has put me? My most important mission field is my family, and they are the ones who really know me and I have the most impact on. One thing that impressed me about Steve is his thirst for knowledge, I knew that was important for a spiritual leader. I that hoped that my desire to keep learning of our Savior wouldn't dwindle as I got older and Steve has always kept me on track. I know, being human, we all have ups and downs, but continually desiring to get back on track and move forward, showing continued growth no matter how slowly, desiring holiness over worldly distractions takes work and encouragement. Seeing Steve continue growing, still having the thirst for God's truth through the years, and caring about where I'm at, being my overseer, is also how God has kept my own spirituality growing. Everything else we do is less important than how we impact others for the Lord, because whether we like it or not we ARE an example, for good and bad, hopefully more good than bad.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Frugality #2 - candle gifts

* * See November 30 post for part 1 * *
Another entry for the Frugal Christmas ideas hosted by Pure Joy. I will have other craft gift ideas in my next posts, this one will be about candle making. I first made this one in elementary school with the help of our art teacher, but you decide if your child is ready to help you. Give yourself a couple of hours for each candle without distractions. For extra safety, if you haven't melted wax before you will need to stand with the wax, watching it until melted. You don't need all the equipment the sites (below) suggest, but I would agree about the fire extinguisher near just as a precaution unless you are doing this outdoors. I've never had a fire since I started making candles, and it is rare, but the melted wax is flammable. Check over the sites below before you decide which type of candle you'd like to try. I won't go into detail, because there are very good books at the craft stores.
Milk carton candle. This is a simple candle (1 qt. size). You can follow directions on that link. I make some alterations adding: a taper candle -cut the bottom to size; crayons; ice cube tray; old spoon; napkins. I got old pans from Goodwill.
You can make the colored chunks in the ice tray as far ahead of time as you like. I make them with paraffin and a piece of crayon in small pot pie tins, with a little water in the saucepan like a double boiler.
When cooled all you have to do is cut and peel off the container.
I have also used a pint size round plastic milk container to make a rainbow candle. After pouring in each bright color of wax let it cool before pouring in the next. Don't forget to put in the taper candle or a wick. Carefully use a razor cutter down one side to cut away the plastic.
Some of the links below also include other types of molds, and waxes, such as gel candles. Here are a few I've made. If you add objects into your container to show through the gel candle, you have to let the gel wax cool until it begins to thicken just a little so the wax won't melt the items.
There is a link for sand candles. I used to make those in high school when they were real popular with Hippies.
If you google making candles you will have a lot of sites to browse. Here are some I've glanced through and thought have some good information. This one also has information on the care of candles (under unique candles, click on the type of candle).
* * Keep checking back for more frugal Christmas ideas