Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Christmas Game

In our split-level house, I decorate along the stairs with a fun nativity.  Every year this set finds itself on the passageway in and out of our home.

The fun part of this is that I arrange the pieces a certain way and almost daily, the pieces get re-arranged.

The Husband and Kidlet Three both shook their head "no" when I asked them if they had moved the pieces. 

They probably thought if they confessed I would be upset with them...

It has become a game.  I re-arrange the pieces.  Someone arranges them differently.  I arrange them in yet a different way.  They are arranged different still.

Here are some snapshots of the ever-so-subtle different "poses" I've found the nativity in:

It is almost like a "where's Waldo" game.  Some of the changes made were slight and I had to pay attention.

A Christmas Game...I think Jesus would be laughing with us on this one!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Trimming the Christmas Tree

Usually I keep my Christmas tree up for at least two weeks after Christmas.
Not this year. 
There is a long story about how the Christmas tree came to our house,
but just know a love-hate relationship had developed
between me and this tree two weeks ago.
The only picture I have of this year's trimmed tree is in this photo.
Our Christmas Day evening meal with the tree in the background. 
All the while we were eating, this is what was happening under the tree...
 Pine needles.  I'd been vacuuming almost daily under the tree
This year, the day after Christmas, we decided the tree had to come down.
The Husband and My Dad threw around some ideas and finally
decided to cut the tree into pieces right in the livingroom.  Any attempts
to carry this shedding mess out of the house would make my house
look like a pine tree forest. 
 The guys went to work with their snipping tools and slowly
and literally trimmed the tree.
 Just touching a branch would cause needles to shower down.

 The sheet was doing a great job capturing most of the needles, but we
also scrapped the floor and filled an ice cream bucket.
 Here is the poor, naked tree in my livingroom.
The Husband decided the star should go back on the tree for a final photo.
 The 2010 Christmas Tree
 And a close-up of the painted trunk
I am convinced this was a dead tree that had been
painted to sell.
 Some final fun for our tree trimming day.

Tree trimming.
Takes on a whole new meaning now, doesn't it!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Silent Night

Merry Christmas!  For some of us, our family celebrations have taken place but I know there are many still planning get-togethers.  So Merry Christmas's can still be said!

We had the honor of having my Dad and Mom travel from the Far-North-Town to stay with us several days before Christmas.  They traveled to Our-Bigger-City to visit a medical institution.  Dad has been having back pain with leg numbness and was diagnosed with a ping-pong ball sized cyst on his spine.  No wonder he has been in pain!  Many prayer partners were called upon this past week to pray on behalf of my Dad.  Prayer along with procedures and treatments by the medical staff have brought relief to him.  Praise God! 

Christmas Eve was spent with The Husband's side of the family.  I know I said this same thing last year, but this year's Christmas was the best with Grandpa able to be with us.   My Favorite-Father-in-Law (FFIL) has had many health scares this past year and praise God, FFIL celebrated his 88th Christmas.  I adore him. 

Our evening was filled with great food, laughter and an appreciation of the fact we could gather together. 

It was LATE when we arrived home. Pulling into our driveway, we were thrilled to see that Neighbor Steve has lined our sidewalks with ice luminaries that he'd made.  Each luminary had a candle lit and burning.  It was quiet as we stood on the snowy sidewalks, gazing at the beauty these lights cast.  It was a Silent Night.

 Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sights of Christmas III


Can you tell what this is made of?

Baby food jars!

The jars are glued together and then a strand of Christmas lights are stuffed in them along with garland.  A nice cardboard backing is placed over the back side with more garland glued around the outside.

My brother made this for me years ago.  It must be some super super glue because it has stayed together for over 10 years.

This Christmas tree sits on the kitchen counter year after year.  And looks beautiful day and night!

Amazing lights!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sights of Christmas II

A mini nativity sitting on the window ledge by the kitchen sink.  I love this little set.  And with all the time spent in the kitchen these days, it is good to have the Reason for the seaon right in front of me as I wash dishes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sights of Christmas

Over the next few days, let me share a few sights of Christmas.  I'll start with last Saturday.  During a blizzard, Neighbor Jack came over to help me make sugar cookies.

 Baking cookies with a buddy is way more fun than baking by myself. 

Neighbor Jack is an amazing cookie decorator!  And he thinks like me.  When I asked him how many cookies we each should eat, he paused and thought for a moment and then answered:  5.

I love that Neighbor Boy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

I've had several requests for the Baked Potato Soup that we enjoyed at Thanksgiving. 

Here is the recipe:

3 bacon strips
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbls. flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 cups chicken broth
2 large potatoes, baked, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
1 cup half and half cream
Minced fresh parsley (or dried parsley)
Shredded cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp.  Drain, reserving 1 Tbls. drippings.  Set bacon aside.  Saute onion and garlic in the drippings, until tender.  Stir in flour, salt, basil, and pepper; mix well.  Gradually add broth.  Bring to a boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes.  Add the potatoes and cream; heat through but do not boil.  Garnish with bacon, cheese and parley.  Yield 4-5 servings.

Hints:  I cooked up a rotisserie chicken we had purchased from the supermarket. Most of the meat was gone but I cooked what was left in water and used this as the chicken broth for my soup.  The meat that I was able to rescue, I used in the soup also.  Also, I left the peel on the potato. 

This is an "amazingly" good soup recipe!


Friday, December 3, 2010


Okay, time is just flying by these days!  It has been a week since I've posted!

Uff da!

Oh we had such a lovely Thanksgiving Day.  My brother joined us for a simple Thanksgiving lunch. 
 Our meal consisted of Honey Oatmeal and Tastefully Simple beer bread...nummy!
 I made Baked Potato Soup and a Gone-All-Day Beef Stew. 
 Kidlet Three poured the milk and we dug in.  Such an enjoyable lunch.  It was little weird not having the traditional turkey, but it really is all about relationships.  My parents live in a Far-A-Way town so spending the day with my brother was a treat.
Here I am...So Amazed and Wonderful Brother! 

I hope you had a most enjoyable Thankful Day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Campaign Day 5

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Campaign Day 4

Continuing on from History of Thanksgiving...(please note I've added the bolding for emphasis):

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.

Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.

In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition. In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

Did you hear that big thud?

That was me falling off my chair.

Did you catch the word "campaign" in that story?

Honestly, I tell you the truth, I had decided to call my blog posts "campaigns"  before I read the whole Thanksgiving story from the web site I'm using.


Oh, our God is so clever!  He SO wants us to get this!

I believe He has stirred up inside of me a need to express to you, Dear Readers, this campaign to bring back the truth about Thanksgiving.

Oh, that He would use little, old me (okay, not so "little"...) to tell His story.

It seems that Sara Josepha Hale had an issue with the fact that Thanksgiving wasn't being given its true worth.

She was passionate about establishing the circumstances that occurred so many years ago, as a national holiday.

Perhaps she understood the passion the Pilgrims felt to worship freely.

In a way, the Pilgrims were on a campaign to find worship-freedom.  They were on a campaign to find God without the Man-Made-Rules in England's church.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm feeling a little of that passion.  That today, America would stop and acknowledge the real reason for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Oh, God!  May we hear You.  It seems You want us to recall Your faithfulness to the first Pilgrims.  They endured great hardships yet they did not give up their pursuit of You.  Despite the circumstances they pushed on through death and famine to establish a land where they could freely worship You.  This land of America.  Thank you, Lord, for Sara Josepha Hale who wouldn't give up.  For 36 years she fought to have the testimony of the Pilgrims honored.  Thank you for the Presidents that have acknowledged the need to have day set aside for this pivotal event.  Thank you for a people that wanted to worship You so they gave up all to sail to a new land.  Thank you for Squanto that remained kind and loving despite difficult circumstances.  I know You bring all of this together.  You are the One to be worshipped and adored.  Stir up a passion in each one of the readers of this blog.  A passion to give You glory and honor in their lives.  A passion to push through circumstances and to allow You to make good out of what may seem bad.  The Pilgrims, Squanto, and Sara Josepha Hale give testimony of Your greatness.  I want to do the same.  Praise You!  With a heart of thankfulness, I say I love You!  In Jesus's name...Amen. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Campaign Day 3

Thanks for coming back!

Maybe you, too, are hungry for more Thanksgiving in your life?  Let's pick up the story from yesterday (from

In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.

Did anything jump out in that story for you?  There were a couple of things that amazed me:
  1. "They were greeted in English by an Abenaki Indian." 
  2. "Several days later he returned with Squanto, who had been kidnapped...sold into slavery in London...escaped and returned to his homeland."
  3. "Squanto taught the Pilgrims...He also helped the settlers forge an alliance..."
  4. "Harmony between European colonists and Native Americans."
Right now I am shaking my head in disbelief.

As Americans, we have watered down this Thanksgiving story to be convenient and nice.  When we tell the story it goes more like this:

There were these people that wanted their own church so they got on a ship and sailed to America.  The Indians greeted them and they had a huge party.  They had turkey, stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin or pecan pie.
I've certainly told the story in that way, haven't you?  It seems, however, that we've missed a few crucial, important facts from the first Thanksgiving.
Like Squanto being kidnapped, brought to London so he could learn English, he somehow escaped and he made that trip across the ocean again, and the Pilgrims "just so happened" to land in the same location that Squanto lived so he could speak English to them while he helped them.

Squanto could've been angry about being kidnapped and having been sold as a slave.  In his anger he could've fed each of those Pilgrims poisonous plants instead of teaching them to avoid the plants. 

Today I see such a correlation between this story and Genesis 37.  See, there was this man named Joseph.  His own flesh and blood, his brothers, sold him to be a slave.  But God had mercy and a big plan for Joseph.  It wasn't an easy road for Joseph.  He was accused and put in prison for things he did not do.  He was forgotten.  Yet he didn't get bitter or angry.  After years in prison, favor is shown upon him and he gives God the glory.  He uses the gifts that God has given him to bless someone that had persecuted him.  He is then put in a position of authority and when his brothers come to him needing food that Joseph has power to give or withhold, he gives.  He has no animosity. 

Just like Squanto.

Do you have any Joseph or Sqanto-type situations in your life?  Circumstances that seem not fair and way out of control?

I'll let God reveal it to you for yourself.   

It just might be that there are circumstances that you and I think are horrendous and will bring nothing good of it.  God can take those situations and turn them totally around for His good.  He is great at that.  Look at Joseph and look at Squanto.

May we be like Joseph in Genesis 45:1-8:

Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Campaign Day 2

From Merriam-Webster:  Definition of THANKSGIVING DAY

: a day appointed for giving thanks for divine goodness: as a : the fourth Thursday in November observed as a legal holiday in the United States b : the second Monday in October observed as a legal holiday in Canada
It is important that we stop for minute and get on the same page.  Just why was this fourth Thursday in November set up as a legal holiday. 

To the internet I went and from, I found this information:

Thanksgiving at Plymouth

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English....(there is more but you will have to wait)!
  • Ponder this with me:  why were those people on a ship?
they were seeking a new home where they
could freely practice their faith
  • And then ponder this:  what do you suppose was the deciding factor for a husband to tell his wife and children to leave everything they owned, probably leave family and friends, and get on this ship to sail to an unknown land?
they were seeking a new home where they
could freely practice their faith

  • What Carnival cruiseline did they take on this voyage? 
 Small ship, 102 passengers,
after a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing
that lasted 66 days...

  • Upon their arrival, were they greeted by the American concierge to help them get settled?
most of the colonists remained on board the ship,
where they suffered from exposure,
scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease.
  • And then..
Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers
and crew lived to see their first New England spring

Right here I want to you (and I) get this?  Because of a conviction to worship God freely, this group we call Pilgrims gave up everything.  They suffered.  They died.  Because of the need and conviction to worship God in truth.

Thanksgiving Day did not occur when they landed.

Thanksgiving Day did not occur in the first month after landing in America.

Thanksgiving Day happened AFTER the first spring.  After the sickness.  After the death.  We'll read more tomorrow about the hard work and learning they had to experience in this new land.

Thanksgiving Day came with a cost.

they were seeking a new home where they
could freely practice their faith

I find it amazing that they shared this cry, and probably climbed in a boat with these words on their lips:
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I'm on a campaign.

(Did you just sigh?  This is NOT a political campaign, I promise)!

What a special time of year this is.

A time our nation has chosen to set aside as a holiday.

Work stops.

People gather together.

Hopefully laughter rings out.

A day to celebrate a vision of freedom.

Thanksgiving Day.

Where did it go?

Almost every store has Christmas decorations up.

Store fliers can't seem to get to my house fast enough.

So I am on a campaign to put holidays in their proper order.

Thanksgiving Day first. 

And then Christmas Day (and despite the feeling you might get reading this, I am not a grinch).

Would you like to campaign with me?

For the next five days...five days until Thanksgiving.

Let's focus on that Holiday and what it stands for.

It also means choosing to not get caught up in the Christmas stress/rush.

Five days of relishing in the thoughts of thankfulness.

That sounds more inviting than stress/rush to me.

Check back here daily.

Join my campaign.

Be thankful and lead a life of thankfulness.

You'll be amazed at how good you feel.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Put On New Glasses

This morning I read a blog update about a 6-year-old girl that I've been following.  She was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor over a year ago.  This little one has had multiple surgeries, chemo, ups and downs in this past year. 

Prior to reading this update I'd been muttering to myself about some selfish thing.

Muttering about how rough my life is.


After I finished reading that blog, I sat back in my chair and wept.  This little girl is actually home from the hospital and is in school.  She is doing really well and just had a good report after an MRI to check her brain.  Again.  Scans and tests every three months are needed for this aggressive cancer she was diagnosed with. 

And I was muttering about laundry or the stacks of dirty dishes.  Something non-life threatening.

I wept over the fact that I can become so self-focused on small things and can miss the big issues that face people in this world.  This family has been through some of the scariest and unpredictable things our troubled world can hand us. 

And then the God Nudge came.  I "saw" myself wearing these glasses with pin hole lenses.  I can only see through the pin holes.  There is no way I can see the "whole picture" through pin-hole glasses. 

I need to take those glasses off and put on new glasses.  Get a new perspective.  Get a bigger picture.  And, once I have better vision, quit muttering!

The parents of this little girl I read about know and love Jesus Christ.  God has been their sustenance before the cancer diagnosis and through the ordeal of this past year.  They have never stopped trusting Him, clinging to Him and begging the readers of the blog to pray for their daughter.  They could've put on pin-hole glasses and become self-centered and self-focused.  But they didn't.  They have prayed for other families and even did a Christmas present outreach project while their daughter was in the hospital.  

The temptation will always be in front of us to put on the tiny vision glasses.  Because we do have a tempter in this world that wants to keep us as selfish and self-sufficient thinking as possible.  See if you 'think' your problems are worse than anyone else, that no one else will understand, that you can't trust anyone so you might as well do it yourself, and the "lies" go on.....than you don't need God, do you. 

Those lies come from wearing pin-hole glasses.

Put on new glasses today.  I bet you'll find you have a lot to be thankful for.  And the need to mutter will be diminished.  Because quite honestly, I'm going to enjoy doing my laundry and while I do, I'm going to thank God for His abundance in my life and I'm going to pray for strength, courage and healing for my little blog friend.

The new view is amazing. 

What glasses do you have on today?  Pin-hole vision or a full-lens view? 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Baked Pork Chops with Stuffing

4 pork chops or steaks
3 cups soft bread crumbs
1/3 cup chopped onion
4 T. butter, melted
1 tsp sage
2 cans cream of condensed soup
2/3 cup water or sherry

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the soup and water or sherry. Mix well and set aside.

Pan-sear (brown) the pork chops.

Place in a greased baking dish.

To the frying pan, add the soup mixture and heat. Stir to get the browned meat bits into the sauce.

To make the stuffing, cut up the bread into bite-sized pieces. I had some dinner rolls that were on their last eatable day that I cut up.

Put the bread in a bowl and add the chopped onion, melted butter, and sage. Toss well.  

On top of each browned chop, heap on stuffing.


Pour the soup mixture over the stuffing and chops.

Bake uncovered until meat is done. My chops were so thin, it was only an hour

Oh, I wish you could smell this right now.  The golden-brown delightful dish is ready to enjoy.
We enjoyed ours with fresh garden green beans, some brown rice and the pork chop with stuffing.

Deliciously Amazing!