Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Change is Inevitable

So the one thing you can count on in life is change....

Personally, I have never been big on change.  Although change is often a good thing - i.e., a freshly painted room, a new floor, a tasty new recipe, a new friend, a great new outfit, or losing 5 pounds - change can be, well - difficult.  

I am not one to welcome new challenges - i.e., sickness, financial stress, death, family problems, or the loss of a family member..... - but I know that it brings with it growth.  Change moves us from our comfort zone and forces us to take action.  It challenges the way we feel, think, and subsequently, see life.  It makes us reach deep inside and ask those hard questions - you know, the life changing kind.  Change often knocks us to our knees and begs us to look up to that higher power, even God, who knows all things.  It is necessary to have our rough edges knocked off so that we can be better, more loving, more compassionate, more humble, more understanding....  Such a painful process.  Sometimes I beg my Heavenly Father that I might at least catch my breath before being knocked down again - and sometimes I am granted that brief moment.  Other times, the waves just keep crashing in, until we think we will not have the strength to get up again.  And yet, we do rise each and every time.  Miraculously, although not unscarred....we ARE stronger, wiser, more like Him.  

I would wish for my children a charmed life - without sadness, or trial, or hurt - but I know that such a thing would keep them from becoming all that God intended for them to be.  It is through the awful struggle with un-welcomed change that we find those strengths within ourselves to rise above.  I pray for my children - that they will look to God through each trial, that they will view change and struggle as "gifts".  That they will come to God for peace.  I wish for them to someday go home to that Father-in-heaven that created them.

For me, I pray for the ability to stand back and allow my children to grow.  To not reach out when they need to do it themselves.  To ask for the right blessings for them - that they will realize their own potential, see God's hand in their lives and reach out for it.  I pray to be supportive, but to stand back and let them develop their own inner strength.  I pray for the insight to know what to say - and, harder still, what NOT to say.  I pray that I will be Christ-like in my dealings with my boys and their families.  I pray that they will desire to live good lives.

The past 2 years have been difficult.  Filled with change - with more on the horizon.  Although I cannot control the things that are presently happening, I know that I can control my response to them.  I pray for the inner strength to be better than I am - to have a heart big enough to weather this storm.  I pray that I will know the way to go.  This is a path unknown to me - I pray I will not falter or stray too far from the best, safest way to travel.  

I am thankful to an amazing family - for sons that are great examples to me (and so much better than I ever was at their age!) and for the strength that they give me.  I am grateful to an extended family who is always there for me.  I love the laughter and tears that we are able to share together.  They sustain me and make me better.  MOST of all, I am thankful for a husband who has stood by me through the good, the bad, and the ugly and has supported me - sometimes carried me - through the last 32 years.  I could not have asked for better.  He is not perfect, but is perfect FOR me!   He is strong where I am weak.  He is wise when I am foolish.  He is steadfast when I falter.  He is patient - and well, I am NOT!  He is the calm to my storm (and trust me, it is raging!).  

I don't know if I will ever be able to embrace change - for now I will be grateful if I can just get through this one.  My love goes out to my friends who have lifted me from the darkness so many times over the last few years.  I hope our friendship is strong enough to get through this next year.  I am hopeful that as the clouds begin to dissipate that better days will be ahead.  I know without question that God has this - He always does - and hang on the promise of happier times ahead.  May God bless us all with a brighter 2013 - may He hold us all within the palm of His ever-protecting hand and may we feel his peace.  Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Found this thought the other day that I think is appropriate to share:

Blessings

What if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you're near?
And what if trials of this life are your tender mercies in disguise?

What if?.......

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Peanut Blossoms




INGREDIENTS:
1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar for decoration
2 (9 ounce) bags milk chocolate candy
kisses, unwrapped
DIRECTIONS:
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
2.In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and stir in the milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture until well blended. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
3.Bake for 10 to12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from oven, and immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie. Allow to cool completely; the kiss will harden as it cools.

I make these every year at Christmas time and was dismayed to find I did not have it on my blog yet!  These are a bit time consuming (it's the unwrapping of the chocolate kisses and rolling in sugar that does it), but they are well worth the extra effort.

Kisses to you all!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Cobbler and His Guest


Posting today one of my favorite Christmas stories.  Hoping it will guide my actions throughout the month of December and forever.  Wishing you and yours a very Happy Holiday season.



There lived in the city of Marseilles, a hundred years ago, an old shoemaker, loved and honored by all his neighbors, who affectionately called him “Father Martin”.
One Christmas he sat alone in his little shop, reading of the visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus, and of the gifts they brought, and he said to himself, “If tomorrow were the first Christmas, and if Jesus were born in Marseilles this night, I know what I would give him”  He arose and took from a shelf two little shoes of softest snow-white leather, with bright silver buckles.  “I would give him these, my finest work.  How pleased his mother would be!  But I’m a foolish old man,” he thought, smiling.  “The master has no need of my poor gifts.”
Replacing the shoes, he blew out the candle and retired to rest.  Hardly had he closed his eyes, it seemed, when he heard a voice call his name. “Martin!”  Intuitively, he felt aware of the identity of the speaker. “Martin, you have longed to see me.  Tomorrow I shall pass by your window.  If you see me and bid me enter, I shall be your guest and sit at your table.”
He did not sleep that night for joy.  Before it was yet dawn, he arose and tidied up his little shop.  Fresh sand he spread on the floor, and green boughs of fir he wreathed along the rafters. On the table he placed a loaf of white bread, a jar of honey, a pitcher of milk; and over the fire he hung a hot drink.  His simple preparations were complete. 
When all was in readiness, he took up his vigil at the window,  He was sure he would know the Master.  As he watched the driving sleet and rain in the cold, deserted street, he thought of the joy that would be his when he sat down and broke bread with his guest. 
Presently, he saw an old street sweeper pass by, blowing upon his thin, gnarled hands to warm them.  Poor fellow!  He must be half frozen, thought Martin.  Opening the door, he called out to him, “Come in my friend, and get warm, and drink something hot.”  No further urging was needed, and the man gratefully accepted his invitation.
An hour passed, and Martin next saw a poor, miserably clothed woman carrying a baby.  She paused, wearily, to rest in the shelter of his doorway.  Quickly, he flung open the door.  “Come in and get warm while you rest,” he said to her.  “You are not well?” he asked.
I am going to the hospital.  I hope they will take me and my baby in,” she explained.  “My husband is at sea, and I am ill, without a soul to whom I can go.”
“Poor child!” cried the old man.  “You must eat something while you are getting warm.  No?  Let me give a cup of milk to the little one.  Ah!  What a bright, pretty little fellow he is!  Why, you have no shoes on him!”
“I have no shoes for him,” sighed the mother.
“Then he shall have this lovely pair I finished yesterday.”  And Martin took down the soft little snow-white shoes he had looked at the evening before, and slipped them on the child’s feet.  They fit perfectly.  Shortly, the young mother went her way full of gratitude, and Martin went back to his post at the window.
Hour after hour went by, and many needy souls shared the meager hospitality of the old cobbler, but the expected guest did not appear.
At last, when night had fallen, Father Martin retired to his cot with a heavy heart.  “It was only a dream,” he sighed.  “I did hope and believe, but he has not come.”
Suddenly, so it seemed to his weary eyes, the room was flooded with a glorious light; and to the cobbler’s astonished vision there appeared before him, one by one, the poor street sweeper, the sick mother and her baby, and all the people he had aided during the day.  Each one smiled at him and said, “Have you not seen me?  Did I not sit at your table?” and vanished.
Then softly out of the silence he heard again the gently voice, repeating the old, familiar words, “Who so shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me” (Matt 18:5).  For I was hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in.
“...Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt 25:35-40).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

And The Tree Is Up!

And the tree is finally up!  It is ridiculously hard to get it all done.  My husband, bless his heart, spent about 2 hours last night untangling my silver garland (and he is NOT a big fan of all this decorating!)  Guess he must love me LOTS!  I always look forward to hauling out all the boxes and unwrapping all the ornaments to put on the tree.  THAT is my Christmas!  Presents are nice too, but I could go without any gifts under the tree now that the kids are all grown-up and gone.  Hope the spirit of Christmas is contagious and that you are catching it!
Tree in all its glory!

Another view

Love these ornaments - they have such a vintage feel

Gorgeous picks from last year

Some of my fancy ornaments

Another snowman ornament

fun star ornaments

Santa vintage looking ornament

Another Santa with sleigh

Snowman with tree

Snowman on rocking horse

Love this ornament

Santa with child

More ornaments

All sprinkled and sparkly!
Front door with address added and funnel "tree"


Better view of address addition

Merry Christmas friends!  Hope this finds you also decked out for the holidays!  May your month be merry and bright and may God pour out his blessings upon you and your family!  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's Starting to Feel A Little Bit Like Christmas

Just wanted to share a little peek inside my front door at Christmas time ...

Front door


Fireplace Santa


Angel


Table centerpiece


New this year


Santa with bag of toys


Santa from piece of wood with bark still intact on back


Another view


Small Santa collection


Hand-carved


Also handcarved


My very first hand-carved Santa


This one was purchased with the above Santa


Found this cutie in Cali


My only one from clay


Another hand-carved cutie


Love how silly this one is - found in Cali









From my early days


Hand pieced and quilted each of the stockings


Fireplace mantel


One of my first collectibles


My sister-in-law Kelli made this for me years ago!


A little snowman love


LOVE this artist!


A few of my Willie Rayes


New nativity this year


My very favorite piece of all!


Willie Raye snowman


Living room Santa collection


Living room shelf - more Santas


Living room coffee table Santa/snowman collection


Close up of one of the snowmen


Silly Santa with horse


Funky snowman


same artist - different snowman


Kristy - do you remember giving me this one year for our shared b-day dinner?


Here's one for the wall


Family room coffee table Santa collection


Other side of the family room coffee table Santa collection


Isn't he a sweet Santa?!


Love this guy too!


I am in LOVE with this artist


Willie Raye Santa


Love the puppet


He reminds me of a chocolate Santa


Added this hand-carved Santa last year


Old world looking Santa


Another one by that awesome artist Greg Guedel


Another view


You'd better BELIEVE!


Older snowman


Also an early purchase


Feeling patriotic!


From my early days....


Believe blocks


Nativity from Olive Wood - thanks mom and dad!


Love this pic of Santa with an original artist's signature


Merry Christmas to me from last year (first time displaying it)  Even Santa knows who is the  reason for the season!


Christmas bulbs hanging from light in kitchen


I painted this Santa years ago at a neighborhood craft night


Just hanging out in the front


Greeting friends who drop by


Wagon with trees and Santa on front porch


Hanging out by the front door - just watching for naughty or nice!

Hope this helps you get into the Christmas spirit.  (Tree to follow on a subsequent post.)  Christmas is my very favorite time of year and I love all that it represents.  I love looking for ways to serve my neighbors, finding just the right gift for family members, and the wonderful calming spirit that Christmas music brings into my heart and home.  I love baking for those I love and sharing treasured family traditions.  And most of all, I love thinking about the Savior, truly the greatest gift of all time.  May your hearts be touched at this awesome time of year.  May you be blessed with an attitude of gratitude for your many blessings and may you always have "enough".  

Merry Christmas everyone!