Mary Did You Know?

  This post from 2010 started getting a lot of hits mid November.  I have no idea how it was found or how it got so much traffic, but I went with it and decided to repost it again this year! 🙂

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”?

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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.

May Jesus be real to you today, as you prepare to celebrate His birth.

~T

Mary Did You Know

[Originally written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene]

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

  Don’t miss post 1 for today: “Dear Abby”.

  So let’s say you were having a super tough, running late, kids are disobeying so you ground them from the play closet until further notice, phone ringing off the hook, “WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES?!?!?!” kind of Monday.

  Let’s also say you were 20 minutes late when you started your drive to Preschool.  In your goal to accomplish two days worth of work in one day, you push your foot a little harder on the accelerator, the list of To Do’s racing through your mind: get the Chicken in the crock pot by 10 or it won’t be done by supper time, make fudge so it has time to set up before 11 so you can finish up holiday goodie platters for the teachers, edit wedding photos, write tomorrow’s blog post……

  You are so busy with the list in your head, that you are not looking at your speedometer when, YOU SEE HIM….

THE COP.

  Oh boy.  This is not going to be good. 

    Nope. Not Good at ALL.

  So, I went home, re-did my eye makeup, and ate 3 pieces of fudge for a morning snack, and lived happily ever after.

The End.

Let’s do a little math and review the situation:

Christmas Time + BIG Ticket = Bad. 

Sad Tonya with tear streaked makeup + White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge = Good.

  See, math is fun!  And White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge is FANTASTIC! 

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

adapted from Girl Who Ate Everything

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  • 3 bags (11 Oz Each) Ghirardelli White Chocolate (I Wouldn’t Do Off Brand This Time)
  • 3 containers (16 Oz. Each) Vanilla Frosting
  • 1-½ teaspoon Peppermint Extract
  • 12 drops Red Food Coloring
  • 6 whole Candy Canes, Crushed

Line jelly roll pan (or oversized cookie sheet) with wax paper.
Melt white chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave, stirring often
While still warm, stir in frosting quickly before chocolate starts to set up. Add peppermint extract, stir.
Spread into prepared pan evenly, then drop food coloring over the top of the fudge. Swirl with a knife.
Add crushed candy canes and press lightly to set.
Cool for an hour in the fridge.
Remove from pan using wax paper and cut on a cutting board into small squares.

  This makes a nice large pan of fudge, supposedly about 70 pieces. I didn’t count, but we did 14 goodie platters with this batch and had some leftovers to enjoy, but it all depends on how small you cut them.

Very simple, creamy and just plain GOOD!

  Our Goodie Platters are almost complete, just need ribbons tied on them yet before delivery.

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Here’s to hoping my Tuesday goes better than my MONDAY did…..

Happy day to you and yours!

~T

Dear Abby,

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.

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  Do you ever really stop to think about Mary as a real person?!  I real teenager with a REAL dilemma on her hands.  This “Dear Abby” letter was shared Sunday at church by our pastor, and I knew I had to pass it on.  I brought everything home for me.

I “got it”. 

  We know the last chapter, 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. 

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Blessed be the name of the Lord,

~T

Don’t miss Post 2 today, White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge.

Hello There, May I Offer You Some Coyote Poo?!

  This is Post 2 for today, be sure to head back to Post 1: I {Heart} Library Day.

   Sooo, this is just the most disgusting recipe title ever!  It was actually Coyote POOP, but Destiny panicked: “MOM! We don’t TALK like that!!!!!!”, so Poo it is. 

 (still gross, sorry!)

  Let me tell you, this may be the weirdest recipe I have ever made, but my goodness, were the results amazing.  These are sweet, savory, cheesy, crisp and crunchy, chewy and CRAZY good, all at the same time!!!!!!!

  I give you……………..

Coyote Poo

(As always, click on title to be taken to Tasty Kitchen to print)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Butter
  • ¼ cups Light Corn Syrup
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 15 ounces, weight Cheetos Cheese Curls

Pour Cheetos into a extra large bowl. 
Generously spray a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan. 
Bring sugar, butter and syrup to a boil. Stir for 5 minute without stopping. Remove from heat and quickly add baking soda, stirring rapidly.
Pour over Cheetos, carefully stirring them, so they are well coated.  Pour coated Cheetos on to prepared baking sheet and separate them a bit so they don’t overlap too much.  Make sure to eat all the leftover caramel bits in the bowl, then b
ake at 125* for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately dump out on to clean cookies sheets or foil lined counter tops to cool before placing in Tupperware to store.

 Or you could save yourself a step, and just fill a giant bowl with them and eat them all during movie night with your sweetie.

  Not that I would know or anything……

Enjoy! Coyote Poo is FABULOUS! Who knew?!

~T

I {Heart} Library Day

  I love, love, LOVE to read and want my kids to be good readers too.  We promote this by limiting TV time to an hour a day, and requiring quiet reading (or looking at pictures if you can’t read yet) every day during nap time. 

  I could go on to list 1,001 reason that I love Library Day, but I am pretty sure the photo below says more than I could ever articulate:

Do you hear that?

SILENCE, except for the occasional turned page.

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Where is Paxton you ask?  Oh making mischief I am sure.  Let me go find him…..

“Paxton!  What are you doing on the train table?!  And why must you destroy the kids Nativity set everyday?” 

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  Guess its time I put down the camera and go read Paxton some books………

I {heart} reading!  🙂

~T

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Be sure to head to Post 2 today for the weirdest recipe EVER:  Coyote Poo!

Define Necessity

  Have you read the Bernstein Bear’s Book called “The Greedy Gimmies”? 

Every family should own this book, so it can be pulled out and referenced to our kids.

 America has a BAD, BAD case, of the Greedy Gimmies.

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  This selfish need for stuff……for more, more, more.  Overflowing closets, toy baskets and towering garage sale piles prove it.  How about Christmas trees with gifts so stuffed below it, that it threatens to tip over? 

  Couldn’t that money be better spent on someone who struggles DAILY to feed their family?  To someone across the world who doesn’t have the privilege of clean water at their disposal? 

  We are SPOILED ROTTEN and we are blind to it.  Cupboards full of food and clean running water, soft beds and shoes on our feet are a PRIVILEGE and we should be thankful to have our daily needs met so easily.  Somewhere across the world a Mommy longs for food for her children’s growling tummies, or water from a source other than the muddy stream, and you want another knick knack for your shelf? A bigger TV?  A softer mattress?  $170 Ugg boots?

   There are so many GREAT options out there for Gracious Gift Giving:

  Like Samaritans Purse, who sends out a WONDERFUL catalog each year with items like: “Feed A Hungry Baby for A Week – $9” or “Buy a Family A Months Worth of Milk- $18” .  I wrote about it last year:  Check it out here.  

  You can purchase these items and many, many more, in honor of “Aunt Sue” or “Uncle Jim”, and Samaritans Purse sends a lovely card, so they know just what your gift to them did for a family in need.  A gift like that keeps on giving the entire year, long after our Christmas trees are tucked away, our knick-knacks put up on the shelf.

  How about using Christmas as a Season of Compassion and adopting a child from Compassion International? 

 We are big believers in their ministry, and sponsor 2 children each month from Uganda.  We’ve sponsored Bampata John for 8 years now, and Nahabwe Deborah for 5ish.

Bampata John

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Do you know how good it was, for my kids to realize that the Birthday money we sent John, went to buy him a BED?  That the Christmas money we sent, bought his family a COW?  Life changing items to his family who needs so much.

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   So what does this post title mean: “Define Necessity”?

  Saying “No” to our kids is a hard thing to ask a parent to do, but since when does purchasing things equal happy kids?

  IT DOESN’T.

  Now, don’t get mad at me here for coming down on you, I’m totally talking to myself in this post too.  Our toy closet is full!  Even though we don’t buy toys just because we step foot in Walmart, it has still slowly filled up.  We don’t buy 20 gifts for each kid at Christmas; they get 3 from us, just like Jesus received from the 3 wise men.  (This helps limit our spending, as well as their need for MORE.)  Yet, the toy closet is so full it makes me angry every time I step foot in there. 

  I’d rather have 1 toy my children can play with 7 different ways, than 7 different toys that can only be played with one way.

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We live in a See It, Want It, Buy It generation. 

  Commercials flash across the screen, designed to grab our children’s attention and create a need in them.  It’s a trick, and I won’t fall for it.  We rarely watch TV, but when we do, you better believe the commercials get muted and kids sent off to brush teeth or something. I won’t have it, it makes me too mad to watch them invade my home with the intent of screaming:

 “BUY MY PRODUCT, you know you WANT too!!!!!!!!! You NEEEEED it.”

  What are we doing to protect our children from this nasty cycle of “Stuff”? 

What are we doing to teach them to SAVE their dollars and work hard for what they want, rather than watching mommy pull out her credit card once again to get them what they “HAVE to have”?

In a time of a low economy, job losses, recession and foreclosures, we need to teach our children to appreciate what they ALREADY have!  To play creatively with toys that don’t whir and spin, sing and move.  What happened to good ol’ fashion fun under a sheet-covered dining room table?  Or basic wooden blocks to create castles and entire towns out of?  What about a trunk of old clothes and shoes, just begging for an afternoon tea party in full costume?

Let’s get creative, and you don’t need new toys to do it!  Let’s finger paint with pudding.  Let’s bathe dolls or float boats in a kitchen sink chock full of bubbles.  Let’s get out a bowl of water and a paint brush and paint the bricks out front.  Let’s give those well-worn books another read.  Let’s make shopping trips a rare treat, not the norm.  Let’s use gift buying as a way to bless others or reward a month-long “Job Well Done”, or when a child finishes filling their chore chart with stickers, not to quiet a fit in the middle of Target.

   Don’t we want our kids to learn to be content as they grow up?  Are we creating a generation of Greedy Gimmie Kids who will enter the work world expecting to have all their demands met when they stamp their foot?

YES.  And it’s time to stop. 

  There is nothing wrong with buying a few Christmas gifts for your children.  It’s the taking it OVERBOARD that is killing us!

  Have you ever watched a child surrounded by 12 new toys?  They can’t focus or enjoy one, too distracted by the other, then the other, then the other, never really enjoying them to their full potential. 

  Let’s teach our kids first to GIVE rather than receive, then, let’s limit what we choose to give them in order to teach them to appreciate what they have.  Let’s reach out to a family in need to make our children aware of how much harder someone has it out there.  How blessed we are to have full tummies and soft beds.

  Let’s stop the Greedy Gimmies in their tracks……….let’s get our kids back to the basics. 

Let’s

Define necessity

Starting now.

It’s past time…..

~T

Foodie Cravings & Holiday Baking

  We’ve established I’m a Foodie, right?!  Cooking, sharing and eating food just makes me happy!!!!!  Guess it’s fitting then, that my most popular boards on Pinterest are 4 little Fergusons Food & Proud to be a Foodie. 

Come see me: http://pinterest.com/4littleferguson/

  So, here are my latest Foodie Cravings: 

(And no, I am NOT pregnant, when you are a Foodie you have cravings pregnant or not.)   🙂

Manchego Cheese:

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  At $8 a package, this craving will have to be far and few between, but thanks to the generosity of Dale’s momma, I have a whole block to enjoy and savor.  This cheese is salty, a bit dry and tastes amazing on crackers or shredded over a salad. YUMMMMMMM!

Blue Bell Ice Cream:

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Christmas Cookie

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Hello beautiful

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Tiramisu

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  This is Dale’s bucket, but it sure is good.  Tastes JUST like the dessert!I have to be careful with this one though, because I don’t do well with caffeine.  Like bounce off the walls, jitter all night kind of problems. 

Which brings me to THIS, may latest Foodie Favorite:

My friend Lori swears up and down she doesn’t like to cook. You’ve met Lori recently in THIS photo session with her sweet twin boys and hubby. She is ALSO the Lori that shared the “Can’t Leave ‘Em Alone Bars” with us. For not liking to cook, she sure comes up with some amazing recipes to bring to our Sunday school functions!

Cheddar Bacon Dip a.k.a “Crack Dip”

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Ingredients
  • 16 ounces, weight Sour Cream
  • 1 packet (1 Oz.) Ranch Dip & Dressing Mix
  • 3 ounces, weight Real Bacon Bits
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate 24 hours. Serve with chips and PREPARE TO BE AMAZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  So we are starting our Holiday baking this week and will continue into next week, getting ready to give out Goodie Platters to friends and teachers. The kids LOVE to help!  We make things after school, or when daddy is home & supper is in the oven.  This year we are making:

Christmas Kisses

Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies-maybe

Spritz Christmas Tree Cookies

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Spiced Crackers (Dale’s favorite, so we do these every year)

AND last but not least……………………..

a batch of Coyote Poo! 

  And man, was it DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELICIOUS!

 This last one wasn’t necessarily for our Christmas goodie platters, but I HAD to try this recipe I found from Mama Bennie……

Now, if any are left by next week, they WILL be gracing our Goodie Platters, because they are THAT good!  Savory and sweet, crazy and will be the unique pop, or poop, I guess, on the platter.  Poo poo platter.  tee-hee  🙂  That’s so gross.

I will be posting this recipe soon, as well as the others, IF they get the stamp of approval!

Hugs & Happy Snacking!

~T

Keeping Christ in CHRISTmas

Reposted from Christmas 2010, but still straight from my heart:

  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.

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 the other night!

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 ipod, 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 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 sticky 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)

~T

Tex Mex Brats & Beans and Nana’s Perfect Cornbread

This is post 2 for today, be sure to check out “Keeping It Local” for gift giving ideas in post 1.

 

I don’t remember when or how we came across this recipe years and years ago, but I can tell you one thing….you are going to LOVE this!

  Sweet BBQ meets smoky brats with a variety of colorful beans, all this topped with a bloop of sour cream and fresh snipped cilantro…A-MAAAAAZING!

  Tex Mex Brats & Beans

{click for easy printable}

  • 2 cans (15 Oz. Can) Northern Beans
  • 2 can (15 Oz. Can) Kidney Beans
  • 2 cans (15 Oz. Can) Black Beans
  • 10 whole Johnsonville Brats
  • 8 ounces, fluid Tomato Sauce
  • 1 cup Your Favorite BBQ Sauce
  • 1 can (4 Oz. Can) Chopped Green Chilies
  • 1 cup Salsa, You Decide The Heat Level
  • ¼ cups Brown Sugar

Drain and rinse beans. Slice brats diagonally in 1-inch pieces. Combine remaining ingredients in your slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Just before serving, sprinkle with some cilantro, cheese and sour cream. 

You are gonna LOVE this!

Tastes great with Corn bread, and I just so happen to have a favorite Corn Bread Recipe to share with you, straight from my Momma’s kitchen!

Nana’s Perfect Cornbread

060

  • 1 cup flour (we used whole white wheat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt

Preheat oven to 425*.  Mix dry ingredients well.  Stir in corn meal.  Beat eggs, then add eggs, milk and oil to dry ingredients.  Beat just until smooth.  Pour into 9×9 baking dish or deep dish baking stone. Bake for 15-20 minutes.  We grew up putting butter, honey or syrup on our cornbread.  It’d be good crumbled up in the above Brats and Beans recipe too.

~T

This post shared with:

Melt In Your Mouth Monday

Ultimate Beans & Rice Party

Keeping It Local

Got this in an email this week and thought I’d pass it along!  Make sure you head to Post 2 for Tex Mex Brats and Beans.

~T

Christmas 2011 — Birth of a New Tradition

Some thoughts on gifts…..

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — Merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamin’s on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

  You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

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