Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!

  I am taking a blog break until January, so I can properly enjoy having all my babies home from school, and my hansom hubby home from work. To say I am SO excited, would be an understatement!!!!

We have lots of fun planned; games by the fire, movie nights, sibling sleep-overs, arts & crafts and a whole lotta NOTHING, too! :)

Hope you all have a fantastic CHRISTmas, celebrating with those you love, and have a safe & Happy New Year!

See you all in 2013!

Hugs, T

4 little Fergusons

Creamy Mushroom Soup & Weekend Potluck #47

Welcome to Weekend Potluck! Where Friends & Foodies meet and eat all Weekend long.

Weekend Potluck Christmas

First up, Flashback Friday, because some things are just worth repeating!

Flashback Friday

Creamy Mushroom Soup

So buttery and delicious! Click title to be taken to the recipe.

Creamy-Mushroom-Soup.jpg

Now, let’s take a quick peek back at last weekplease note that there will be NO Weekend Potluck next week!  But, we’ll see you in the new year!

The recipe with the most clicks was ~

Cherry Pie Bars

Cherry Pie Bars by Julie’s Eats & Treats

Recipes that caught our attention ~

Christmas GIfts From Your Kitchen

Christmas Gifts From Your Kitchen by My Biscuits Are Burning

Flavored Butters

Flavored Butters by Your Home Based Mom

And, a personal favorite ~

We made something similar to this last year, and they were melt in your mouth amazing!

Peppermint Meltaway Cookies

Peppermint Meltaway Cookies by Steph’s Silver Boxes

Your hostesses ~

Remember that when you link up, it shows on all FIVE blogs. Plus…

We TWEET. We PIN. We LIKE.

Linky Guidelines:

If you wish to be a featured recipe or for us to promote your recipe either on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, you MUST follow these instructions.

  1. Please link up to your exact post and not the main page to your blog.
  2. LINK BACK HERE from your post so that others can find the fun. (Need help linking back? Read this or watch this great instructional video.) You can use the button below or a direct link within your post.

When you are kind enough to follow our guidelines, we work hard to get you as much exposure as possible so that your time here is well invested. We want this to be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone!



Born In Me

  In preparation for Christmas, I have been trying to keep my posts Holiday centered this week.  Today, I want to share with you, a very well done video of a BEAUTIFUL song called, “Born In Me” {Mary} by Francesca Battistelli.  Please take a moment to watch!

I know I have been sharing a lot from the archives for this countdown to Christmas week, and I hope that doesn’t bother you. Sometimes, you just can’t say it better than the first time! :)

May Jesus be real to you today, as you prepare to celebrate His birth in the coming days….

Hugs, T

From the Christmas archives:

One Family, One Journey. One Child who would change the world forever.

photo credit

Have you seen the movie: The Nativity Story?

It was so good for me to emotionally go on that journey with Mary & Joseph. It made things very real to me.

I mean, can you imagine how difficult it was for Mary, an unwed teen, to be scoffed by her friends who think she’s nuts, when she says she has never been with a man, but is pregnant anyways? Or how about having to tell her parents the big news: Did she wait until she was showing, or tell them right away?

How about feeling the threat of DEATH by stoning looming over her head, should Joseph choose to file charges against her?! I wonder, since her parents choose Joseph as her betrothed, does she even know him that well at this point?

Or love him?

Does she know enough about him to think he’ll believe her story? How scary to not know what will happen next!

Although Joseph’s initial reaction was to break the engagement, totally acceptable in that day, he treated Mary with such kindness. What a gentleman! He didn’t want to cause her further shame, so he decided to act quietly. I am so glad God chose to send an angel to Joseph in a dream, to verify Mary’s story, that way, he could be reassured that his marriage to her WAS God’s will after all.

When the angel explained that the child within Mary was indeed conceived by the Holy Spirit, that his name would be Jesus and that he was the Messiah, God with us, did he freak out!? Did he sit in wonder and awe? Don’t you think he lay awake the rest of the night, thinking of what his life with Mary was going to be like?

 Parents of THE MESSIAH?

That is some heavy thinking for the middle of the night! He willingly took Mary to be his wife, knowing they were being looked down upon in their town. Maybe this noble quality is one of the reasons God chose Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus.

And later, as they are married and traveling to Bethlehem, I was shocked to see footage of Joseph’s bloody, calloused feet. I had never thought of this before, but why wouldn’t they be? They walked the approximately 60-90 miles to Bethlehem, where the census was taken.

Poor Mary, riding or walking that long journey, big and pregnant. I bet her baby pressed on her bladder, making them stop often, I bet the heat was unbearable at times, I bet nights were spent in discomfort, sleeping on the hard ground.

How about going into labor in a town far away from her mother and all things familiar? A newly married young woman, who had never been intimate with a man, giving birth to her first child, who also just happens to be the Savior of the world!!!!

Do you remember that feeling, as you realized you were about to give birth to your first-born? I mean actually bring them into the world.  Those emotions you felt, as you anticipated, yet dreaded the labor part. Did sweet Mary cry for her momma? Did she squeeze Joseph’s hand as hard as she could as she contracted? Was he a good coach? Did she trust him to help safely deliver this precious child in a stable, or was she afraid even though the angel said, “fear not”?

Nativity

photo credit

Oh, the joy she must have felt, as she lifted that precious child in her arms, counted his ten tiny fingers and toes, and marveled at all that had just occurred.

How overwhelmed she must have been, as she looked around their humble dwelling, wondering what she had to offer the King of Kings?

Wondering about this babe, who would grow into a toddler full of questions:When would they know, that he knew, He was the King of Kings? A look in his eye? The words from his mouth? Did she wonder what kind of challenges that would create?

And what about when all those stinky Shepherds showed up? Exhausted and emotional, what was she feeling as they came and touched her new baby? You know how protective first time moms are! Did she wish she could have them wash up first?

As the shepherds left, they were still praising and glorifying God, but sweet Mary kept quiet, treasuring their words and pondering them in her heart. Don’t you think at that moment, it must have been beyond her ability to grasp, that sleeping in her arms—the precious child she had just worked so hard to bring into the world—was the Savior of the World. Wow!

How real everything becomes, as you watch in this movie, and see those precious little lives lost, as Herod in fear of the newborn King, commands all the baby boys under the age of 2 to be killed. Oh, the heartache of those mothers, screaming as their baby sons were ripped from their arms and slain, I just wept and wept.  Such mourning happened in those towns in the months to follow, as broken-hearted mothers put back the pieces of their shattered lives.

I have to wonder, as Mary and Joseph were told by the angel to flee in the night to safety, how old was Jesus at the time? A little boy full of questions? Or still a newborn babe?  Did Mary’s pumping adrenaline kick in?  Did those ‘mother bear’ instincts get her through? Or was she paralyzed with fear, and have to be prompted by Joseph to, “Stop crying and pack!” so they could get going? How did she manage? I can’t imagine what she was feeling, still in a foreign land, far from home, now fleeing to Egypt to be refugees there!!  And wait, Mary’s journey isn’t done yet, still later, another dream tells them to return back home, FINALLY!  Who knows how many years later this occurred?! What a STRONG woman!

Watching this movie was eye-opening to say the least!  It is my hope, that this Christmas, you will celebrate the humble beginnings of our Lord and King. and remember, just how real this was to a newlywed couple in Bethlehem, who experienced a life changing, WORLD changing moment…..as they held our Lord and Savior in their arms and kissed his sweet head.

 

Dear Abby,

This is post 2 for today, be sure to head back one post for Bacon & Swiss Salad, a MUST HAVE at all our Family Holiday Functions!

From the archives:

Dear Abby,

Everything in my life is going wrong! What seemed like the ideal dream has become an unending nightmare. Only a few weeks ago everything seemed perfect: I had just graduated from school with honors. My girlfriend and I got engaged the same day my father made me a full partner in his construction business. I was so pumped . . . and definitely in love. Life seemed complete. Even my faith was at an all‑time high.

It all started falling apart one Friday when my fiancée met me after work. She looked like something was wrong . . . but I couldn’t get her to talk about it. So we went to a basketball game that evening, but my head wasn’t in it. My imagination was running wild.

Didn’t she love me anymore? Did she want to call off the wedding? Did she have cancer?

The questions kept coming. I was a nervous wreck. Afterward, we went out for dessert. She didn’t say anything for a long time. Finally, she whispered the words I hadn’t even dared to think:

“I’m pregnant!”

Then she burst into tears. I was stunned.

“You? But we haven’t even . . .”

A wave of nausea hit me as I realized the horrible truth: Since it wasn’t me, it had to be someone else.

“Who was he?” I forced myself to ask.   I couldn’t decide if I really wanted to know.

She looked down, “I can’t tell you,” she said, “You wouldn’t understand. I just want you to know I still love you and want to be your wife!”

If you loved me you wouldn’t be in the condition you’re in,” I snapped.

I couldn’t help seeing the love in that face I’d come to cherish. Abby, I knew I still loved her with my heart, that’s why I hurt so much. How could I continue to love someone who slept around? I was too shocked to say anything the rest of the evening. I paid the bill, took her home, and drove away.

Although I’ve never been very emotional, I cried myself to sleep. I woke up early the next morning angry & full of questions.

How could she do this to me? Didn’t she love me? Hadn’t we promised to save ourselves for each other? Who was he? How long had they been sleeping together? How could they manage to see each other without me even suspecting? Didn’t she believe in the standard God had set for relationships?

I went all week without seeing or calling her. I just couldn’t. My heart ached. My stomach burned. My head pounded nonstop. Then she showed up today just as I was closing shop.

 ”I’ve made arrangements to leave town for a while,” she said. “I think it’s best for you & me & for our families. I’ll be staying at my cousin’s place downstate.”

I must have been frowning because she added, “Don’t worry, my love, I’ll be in good hands.”

She handed me a piece of paper with a phone number where I could reach her & then left. I haven’t heard from her since, and that was 3 months ago.

Abby, what should I do now? I can’t imagine going ahead with the engagement. My trust in her has been destroyed. Still, the thought of walking away leaves me even more confused. The shame and embarrassment of being pregnant and not married in our small town would make her the target of endless harassment.

On the other hand, if I stand by her & pretend that the child is mine, I’d destroy my reputation . . . something I don’t think I’m willing to risk to cover her selfish mistake.

My gut feeling is to break off the engagement & try to forget what happened. I care too much for her to make an ugly scene. Maybe I could tell our friends that it was my idea to break up & she had to get out-of-town to escape the pain of my decision?

Abby, I want to do the right thing. But I just can’t decide. Should I stay with her regardless of what others think? Or should I quietly break off the engagement and try to get on with my life?

Signed,

A Devastated Boyfriend

And then came the reply:

Dear Devastated Boyfriend,

Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. What’s conceived in her is from Holy Spirit, Christ is in her. You’ll see. Just open the door of your heart to Mary, you’ll begin to experience the wonder of Christ’s presence firsthand.

Signed,

Abby

—————————————————————————————————————————

Do you ever really stop to think about Mary as a real person?!  A real teenager with a REAL dilemma on her hands.  This “Dear Abby” letter brought everything home for me, I got it.

We know the last chapter of this story, but poor Mary didn’t.  She feared for her very life, as she could be STONED for her “indiscretion”!  Would you, as her parents, have believed her?  Do you know how HARD that must’ve been for all of them?

As we approach the Christmas season, remember the reason we celebrate, remember a young unwed mother, great with child making a journey to a land not her own, away from her mom and everything familiar.  Remember her FAITH, even though she didn’t know the Happily FOREVER After was to come for all of us.

mary_2

Blessed be the name of the Lord,

~T

Bacon & Swiss Salad

I mentioned on 4 little Ferguson’s facebook page, that I had 30 cups of lettuce ready, because I was making THE Salad.  As in the only one I ever take to Holiday functions or Dale’s family would eat me alive.

For real.

It’s that good, and a nice change from your typical dinner salad.

Bacon & Swiss Salad {aka THE Salad}

{click title for easy printable}

Bacon and Swiss Salad

Ingredients

  • 10 cups Mixed Greens, We Prefer Spring Greens And Spinach Leaves
  • ½ whole Red Onion, Thinly Sliced
  • 2 packages ( 3 Oz Each) Real Bacon Bits
  • ¾ cups Miracle Whip {or mayo, but miracle whip adds a nice zip}
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 cup Shredded Swiss Cheese

Clean lettuce and pinch into bite sized pieces. Slice red onion very thin. Combine lettuce, onion, and bacon in a large fix ‘n mix bowl. Toss well.

Make dressing (can be made ahead) using miracle whip/mayo, vinegar and sugar, mixing ingredients well.

Just before serving toss dressing and shredded Swiss with salad.

Enjoy!

~T

Head over to post 2 for today:“Dear Abby”

Keeping CHRIST in Christmas

{Re-posted every year from the 4 little Ferguson’s Christmas archives}

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and with it can come a sense of panic, a need to rush into town, push through the crowd towards near empty shelves, and snag those last few items on your Christmas shopping list. Standing in long lines, being told “Happy Holidays” by the greeter as you leave, rushing around to prepare for office parties & family get-togethers, addressing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, and on the busy-ness goes……

Somewhere along the way, the peaceful, quiet days of Christmas past were lost. Somewhere along the way, Jolly Ol’ St. Nick, stole the limelight from baby Jesus, and the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, replaced the leisurely gift shopping of days gone by. Instead, it seems, we celebrate materialism, indulgence and the idea that we need more, more, more.

As a kid growing up, I recall knowing who Santa was, I think he even signed a couple of our packages under the tree a time or two, but I can’t EVER recall a time, that I didn’t know it was really my parents.

I have great memories of Christmas growing up, but you’d be surprised at the ones that stand out most.

I remember the year dad went back to college, and we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree, so we decorated the artificial fica tree that stood in our living room, instead. Tiny red apples, red velvet bows and empty mini raisin boxes hung from its branches….To my little girl eyes, it was beautiful!!!!!

There were very few presents under the tree that year, but I don’t remember thinking much of it. Mom kept us busy with special baking and craft projects, and dad kept us in hysterics on Christmas morning, sticking his new electric drill up his nose, stating it could also double as a nose hair trimmer.

As we got older and became teenagers, our finances changed, and my parents got more and more creative in their gift giving…..

One year we went on a family vacation to the Bahamas instead of getting gifts. Another time, Hawaii. One year, we got cash to spend after Christmas at the big sales, teaching us the value of the dollar, and that it could be stretched much further by waiting for a sale day after Christmas to shop. Another year, after my dad sold his trucking business, and things were incredibly tight, we did intangible gifts. We wrote letters of appreciation to each member of the family, and that Christmas morning was not spent under a pile of wrapping paper and boxes, but quietly seated around the fireplace, reading those letters of love & affirmation to each other.

But, the Christmas that stands out the most in my mind, was not the tropical vacations, not the new boom box or new car…..

No, it was the year we adopted a family in need, through a local church. We were given an address to deliver our goodies to them, in person.  So we all loaded up, driving further and further into the oldest part of town, until we arrived in front of a very humble home. Arms loaded with boxes of goodies, we walked to the front door. Once we were done with our “good deed” for the day, we could go back home and have our own Christmas.

We knocked on the door, and were welcomed in broken English. Stepping inside, the first thing I noticed was the home was sparse in furniture. Mattresses serving as beds lay on the floor, and open cupboard doors revealed they were indeed, bare. My heart softened. My “good deed” for the day, suddenly turned into so much more.

Oh, the joy on their faces as we unloaded box after box of groceries, clothing, toys and necessities. I recall tears streaming down the mothers face, as she thanked us over and over in broken English. The father reached out his work-weary hands, silently grasping ours, tears in his eyes telling us how humbled and thankful he was for this, though no words were spoken. Their children ran circles around the old sofa, the language barrier not stopping our interpretation of their squeals of excitement and joy!

Tears filled my eyes, as I looked at the space around me….thinking of the home full of stuff we had left just 10 minutes ago, the gifts waiting under the tree, the food filling 2 fridges. This families Christmas blessing, was my every day life!

I didn’t know a day without food.
I didn’t go to school without a coat, because we didn’t have the money for one.
I never walked to a cupboard to find it bare. We had so much, and they had so little.

Why did I even need the few gifts waiting for me, under the tree at home?

It was then I knew what God was showing me…….

THIS is what Christmas is about.

Giving to others in need, showing them the love of Christ, not receiving! Why, when I had such an abundance, did I need anything? I became more convinced than ever that Christmas was going to be forever different at our house!

Fast forward 15 years, I now have 4 little ones of my own, and the huge responsibility of establishing my families traditions….

From the very beginning Christmas morning has been Jesus’ birthday, nothing else. We feel Santa “waters down” what we are trying to do with Christmas. Our goal is to keep it about Christ, and His birth, and in striving towards this goal, of keeping Christ in Christmas, we chose to exclude Santa from any of our celebrations.

Don’t get me wrong, the kids know who Santa is, and that he is part of the general season of year. In fact, the older two, were playing reindeer and Santa one night!

Playing Santa

That doesn’t bother me a bit.

Neither does letting them watch the evening Christmas specials on tv, about Rudolph or Frosty. What a special treat! But there is one rule and requirement of evening TV watching……

Commercials MUST be muted.

I can’t stand how they try to grab my kids attention and stir up the “Greedy Gimmies” with the ads for the “coolest toy ever“!

But, when it actually comes to Christmas day, does Santa have a part?

Nope, not around here. We want Christmas Day to be sacred. It’s special. It’s a quiet, calm. A peaceful celebration of the birth of Jesus. It’s not wrapping paper piled knee-high on the floor. It’s not toy fire engine sirens, crying baby dolls and whirring helicopter toys, drowning out all other sounds of worship of our Lord and King, the whole reason we celebrate in the first place.

On Christmas morning, you won’t hear shouts of ”Santa came!” Instead, shouts of, “It’s Jesus birthday!” are heard. {Followed by arguments about who gets to blow out Jesus’ birthday candle after we sing Happy Birthday to Him!} :)

After reading the Christmas story, we give each child 3 gifts, representing the 3 gifts given to baby Jesus by the wise men. Buying only 3 gifts for each child, keeps Dale and I in check, as we are doing our Christmas shopping, and allows the focus to remain on Christ, not the need for more, more, more.

Later, as our children get older, we will deepen the significance of these gifts, by assigning a meaning to each one:

Frankincense: A gift for spiritual growth. (A new devotion book, Bible or Christian CD.)
Myrrh: A practical gift. (A new pair of jeans, a coat, a laptop for school, a car emergency kit.)
Gold: A gift that fulfills a want. (An ipad, shopping certificate, jewelry, bike, MP3 player etc.)

We celebrate Christmas based on God GIVING us His one and only son, who later GIVES His life as a living sacrifice for us! We want giving and not receiving to be the focus of Christmas. This is why we choose to adopt a family in need, or participate in filling individual shoe boxes, when our church adopts a local school.

What fun it is to stroll through the store, with each of my children clutching a paper in their sweet little hands, with a name.  A name of a special boy or girl, about their age, who we can be a blessing to.

I love to see their faces as they figure out that no, these new toys aren’t for them to keep, they have enough toys at home. These gifts are for a little boy or girl, who might otherwise have nothing new at Christmas!  Granted, sometimes its hard to pack that giant bouncy ball, or sparkly nail polish in the box, for the other child. But, it doesn’t take long for them to grasp, at their level of understanding, the kindness and love they are showing to another child. To understand that Christmas is about giving to others, not asking, begging and pleading for the latest and greatest new toys.

It is my hearts desire for our Christmases to be SO focused on Jesus Christ, from my children’s first memory of Christmas on, that they don’t know it ANY other way!


Keeping Christ in Christmas goes much farther than a “Merry Christmas” greeting to a cashier, only allowed to say “Happy Holidays”. No, it comes from you, Momma, as you set the tone of your home for each and every holiday tradition to come!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2 (NLT)

It’s all about finding a happy balance in YOUR home, for YOUR family.  This is what works for us!

~T

This post shared with:

Mercy Ink Heart & Home

Dear Jesus,

I had a different post planned for today, but instead, I’d like to take a moment acknowledge what happened over the weekend, in a small “we are like family” town in Connecticut.  My heart is deeply saddened by this tragedy, and I went through the motions of a busy weekend, with a heaviness on my shoulders.

My hearts cry is….
Oh Jesus, come quickly. ♥  Our world is such a fallen place.

My arms ache to hold my babies close and never let them leave my side, to plug their ears and shield their eyes from the ugly world they live in.  To keep them home with me forever! Tonight I kissed their sweet cheeks extra much as I tucked them in.  Hugged them a little bit longer.  Prayed over them with a little more urgency for safety, protection and a long, full life on this earth.

The Bible promises, that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

You know that last words and actions, that fateful morning before school, will play over and over in the minds of those left behind, daddy’s and mommy’s wishing for just a few more hugs and good-bye kisses in the chaos of a “regular” school morning.

Christmas will be quiet this year for those Sandy Hook Elementary school families who lost precious children: presents under the tree will go unopened, Christmas plays will be missing key roles.

It is my fervent prayer, that as they fall to their knees in grief, they will find Jesus there, with open arms, holding and comforting them.

Heavenly Father, be with those precious families in the days to come, we know you understand grief and loss, as you sent your one and only Son to die a slow and painful death for us.  Draw us near to you in the days to come, that we might feel your comfort.  This nation needs you, now more than ever.  I am sorry we push you away at every turn.  In God we still trust.  Amen.

Rest in the arms of Jesus, little ones.

little ones

No more sorrow, no more tears.

156115_10151120380095738_748048219_n (1)

~T

From author Max Lucado:
Dear Jesus,
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
Hopefully,
Your Children

Nana’s Tomato Soup & Weekend Potluck #46

 Hi and welcome to Weekend Potluck! Where friends and foodies meet and eat, all weekend long!

Weekend Potluck Christmas

First up, Flashback Friday, because some things are worth repeating!

Flashback Friday

Today is Nana’s Tomato Soup! Mmm mmm good.

Tomato-Soup.jpg

Now, let’s take a quick peek back at last week

The recipe with the most clicks was ~

Colorful Swirl Cookies

Colorful Swirl Cookies by Walking On Sunshine

Recipes that caught our attention ~

Candy Christmas Lights

Candy Christmas Lights by Kelli’s Retro Kitchen Arts

Basil Garlic Goat Cheese Schmear

Basil Garlic Goat Cheese Schmear by Sumptuous Spoonfuls

And, a personal favorite ~

Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie

Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie by Kitty’s Kozy Kitchen

Your hostesses ~

Remember that when you link up, it shows on all SIX blogs. Plus…

We TWEET. We PIN. We LIKE.

Linky Guidelines:

If you wish to be a featured recipe or for us to promote your recipe either on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, you MUST follow these instructions.

  1. Please link up to your exact post and not the main page to your blog.
  2. LINK BACK HERE from your post so that others can find the fun. (Need help linking back? Read this or watch this great instructional video.) You can use the button below or a direct link within your post.

When you are kind enough to follow our guidelines, we work hard to get you as much exposure as possible so that your time here is well invested. We want this to be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone!

A New Kind Of Party

  Yesterday we talked about a simple $5 Family Gift Card exchange, by playing the reading the “Left-Right” stories.  While we are all thinking on the idea of DEFINE NECESSITY, lets talk about Office and Christmas gatherings with friends.  

This year, when you draw names, try this idea:

  Pick names and keep it secret. You purchase a gift/toy for that person’s “inner child”.  What you think they may have liked to receive when they were a child, OR even what they might have wanted to be when they grew up. Wrap it up, and put the person’s name on the gift tag. 

  At the party, everyone gets to unwrap their gift, one by one. Be prepared for lots of laughter and enjoyment! You’ll see everything from a doctor’s kit, to an artist’s kit, a basketball, plastic golf set, apron and chefs hat, a fishing pole, a lava lamp, a feather boa and tiara…….you name it!

  Once everyone has had their fun, and unwrapped the wonderful toys, a designated charity receives these great new toys for their Christmas gift giving! It’s fun for all, and makes for a very meaningful gift exchange with good feelings all around and a great outcome!

This idea is a great way to have some fun, but also pay it forward to others!

Collage 2 fav text

What are some of your ideas for Defining Necessity and keeping CHRIST in Christmas this year?

~T

Shared with the Home + Heart Link Up

$5 Family Gift Card Exchange

  I talked to you last month, about paring down your gift giving before Black Friday.  

About giving to those less fortunate, rather than giving Uncle Bobby another pair of slippers or cheese of the month club subscription he didn’t want.  

  I am encouraging families that still do MASS present buying for all the cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, friends dogs neighbors {you get the idea} to DEFINE NECESSITY and keep it simple.

How about each family member brings to Christmas, a $5 gift card?  

Starbucks, Target, Hastings, Gas card, Visa gift card, Walmart, Groupon, Amazon…to name a few.

Then have everyone sit in a circle, holding the card they brought.

Have someone read the following story, passing the gifts cards to the left or right each time the words are spoken:  

Right Left Christmas Game Nativity Story

In those days, Caesar Augustus decided to count everyone LEFT living in the whole Roman world. Joseph LEFT, taking Mary with him RIGHT to his town of Bethlehem to register.

When they arrived, there were no rooms LEFT. All of the inns in Bethlehem wereRIGHT full. There was just nowhere LEFT for them to stay. Finally, someone offered to let them stay RIGHT in their stable.

Mary was pregnant and while in Bethlehem the RIGHT time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a boy RIGHT there. RIGHT there in a Bethlehem stable, the Savior of the world was born. Mary wrapped him with LEFT over strips of cloth and laid himRIGHT in a manger.

Some shepherds who lived RIGHT near Bethlehem, were out at night RIGHT in their fields watching over their sheep. RIGHT then, they saw a bright light. The light was so bright that they had to close their eyes. When they opened them again, a beautiful angel was standing RIGHT in the sky RIGHT above them with his arms LEFTopened wide. The shepherds looked RIGHT at each other and were LEFT feeling very afraid.

Then the angel spoke RIGHT to them. “Do not be afraid. I’m RIGHT here to bring you the good news LEFT for all people. Today RIGHT in Bethlehem a baby has been born, He is the RIGHT one, the one that will save the world. You will know the RIGHT baby because He will be LEFT wrapped in cloths, and laying RIGHT in a manger.”

RIGHT then, a large group of angels appeared RIGHT there, and they said, “Glory to God, and peace be to all people LEFT on the earth.”

The shepherds were LEFT amazed and excited. They had to go RIGHT away to see this baby the angels were talking about.

They LEFT as fast as they could, and soon found Mary, Joseph, and baby JesusRIGHT were they angels said they would be. The shepherds fell RIGHT to their knees when they saw Jesus, and were LEFT filled with joy that they had found the Savior. They stayed for a short time and then LEFT . As soon as they LEFT they began shouting RIGHT in the streets and telling everyone LEFT in town about what they had seen.

RIGHT after Jesus was born, wise men traveling RIGHT on their camels noticed a very strange star RIGHT in the sky. They knew that the RIGHT One who would save the world had been born.

RIGHT away King Herod got very worried. He assembled all of the important peopleLEFT in the area and asked them where this baby had been born. The people replied, “RIGHT in Bethlehem.”

RIGHT then King Herod called the wise men to meet with him RIGHT away. He asked them to go and find the child RIGHT away. “RIGHT as soon as you find Him,” he said, “ tell me, so that I can go to Him RIGHT away and worship Him.”

After the wise men spoke to the King, they LEFT to find the baby. They didn’t knowRIGHT where the He was, but followed the star LEFT in the east until it hung RIGHTover the place where Jesus was. When they found Jesus, and they bowed RIGHTdown and worshiped him.

RIGHT after that, they opened the gifts they had brought Jesus… gold, frankincense and myrrh. Then they LEFT to find a place to sleep for the night.

That night the wise men all had the same dream RIGHT as they were sleeping. They were not to go RIGHT back and tell King Herod where they had found Jesus. King Herod wanted to kill Jesus because he was jealous of Him. So, the wise men LEFT for home another way so that Herod would not know the RIGHT direction they had come from. They also decided RIGHT then that they would not tell King Herod anything about what they had seen.

When the wise men LEFT , an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Arise, take Jesus and Mary, and run RIGHT to Egypt. Joseph got up RIGHT away and woke up Mary. She quickly picked Jesus RIGHT up and they LEFT in the middle of the night for Egypt where they would be safe.

RIGHT after King Herod died an angel appeared again RIGHT away to Joseph and told him to go RIGHT to a place called Nazareth. And that’s RIGHT where Jesus grew up.

Or this one:

Twas the LEFT Night RIGHT Before Christmas

Twas the night RIGHT before Christmas when RIGHT through the house
Not a creature was LEFT stirring, not even a mouse–
The stockings were hung RIGHT by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be RIGHT there.
The children were nestled RIGHT snug in their beds,
while visions of sugarplums danced RIGHT in their heads,
And mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled RIGHT down for a long winter’s nap,
When RIGHT out on the LEFT lawn there rose such a clatter,
I sprang RIGHT from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the RIGHT window I LEFT like a flash;
tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
LEFT a luster of midday to objects RIGHT below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleight and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver RIGHT lively and quick;
I knew RIGHT in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came;
and he whistled and shouted, and called them RIGHT by name:
“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! 
On Comet, on Cupid, on Donder and Blitzen!
To the RIGHT top of the porch! To the LEFT top of the wall! 
Now dash away, dash away, dash RIGHT away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
when they meet RIGHT with an obstacle, mount RIGHT up to the sky,
So up to the housetop the coursers they LEFT flew, 
with a sleighful of toys and St. Nicholas, too.
And then in a twinkling, I heard RIGHT on the roof,
the prancing and pawing of each little RIGHT and LEFT hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning LEFT around
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, RIGHT from his head to his LEFT foot,
and his clothes were all LEFT tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung RIGHT on his back, 
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His RIGHT and LEFT eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples‹how merry! 
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was LEFT drawn up like a bow,
and the beard LEFT on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held RIGHT in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a round little belly, 
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was RIGHT chubby and plump, a RIGHTRIGHT jolly old elf, 
and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.
A wink of his LEFT eye and a LEFT twist of his head,
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went RIGHT straight to his work, 
and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk
And laying his finger to the LEFT of his nose,
and giving a nod, he LEFT‹up the chimney he rose.
He sprang RIGHT to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
and away they all LEFT like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he LEFT–out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all‹and to all a good night!”

I found these by googling Christmas ideas, and neither website sited an Author, so I will just say:

{Original Author unknown}

When the story is over, the card you hold in your hand is now yours!
There are many many more stories here and ideas out there, or maybe write (RIGHT) your own?

Simple and fun!  With all the money you saved by not buying 17 people gifts, adopt a family in need or give to your favorite charity.

It is truly is more blessed to give then receive!

Hugs, T

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