Archive | Christmas

It Is Not Far To Bethlehem

{Art Print ~ For God So Loved the World by Simon Dewey}

It is not far to Bethlehem,
Where lies the newborn King!
It is not far to Bethlehem,
Where holy angels sing.

As Wise Men saw the guiding star
That led them where He lay,
The shepherds heard the heavenly song
That first glad Christmas day.

We too may go to Bethlehem
And find the Savior Child;
We too may hear the angels sing
Their hymns of mercy mild.

Our hearts are God’s new Bethlehem
When Christ is born anew.
It is not far to Bethlehem
When he is born in you!

~ J. Harold Gwynne

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Christmas Traditions

Traditions:
give us something to look forward to,
bring those involved closer together and
help us feel secure in our relationships with them,
cultivate a feeling of belonging to something special,
and help us create memories with people we love.

Interestingly, the word “traditions” is derived from the Latin word tradere
which literally means to give for safekeeping.
Isn’t that beautiful?

My sister {Cara} and I were talking the other day about Christmas traditions and how important and fun they are for the whole family. She has tried really hard to create and maintain traditions that offer a balance of some that only her own family is involved in and some of reaching out to love and serve family, friends, and community. She shared with me some of the traditions they have made ~ some they keep every year, some not every year. But they are traditions that they all love and look forward to.

Here are some of her family’s

Christmas Traditions lettering 1. They each choose someone who has been a positive role model during the year ~ someone who has positively influenced them personally, and then they find a way to thank them and do something special for that person. Example: One of her sons is putting together a collage of pictures and a letter for his high school culinary teacher.

2. Each year they gather together and make gingerbread houses and chocolate-dipped pretzels.

Cara's traditions

3. As a family they meet together for the annual selection of the perfect tree for them and then take it home and decorate it.

4. Each year they generously participate in a local Sub-for-Santa.

5. This year they are starting a new tradition ~ each of the children will choose some kind of homemade gift to make and give.

What special things do you do with your family?
I hope you have a blessed Christmas season sharing traditions with those you love.

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Our Christmas Offering

we-three-kings

{We Three Kings by Simon Dewey}

You’ve probably heard of Norman Vincent Peale. But if not, he was minister and author {The Power of Positive Thinking and many others}, and he and his wife started the Guideposts religious magazine. He tells of an experience he had on a cold Christmas Eve while shopping with his father when he was about twelve years old. In The Positive Principle Today, pages 292-95, he writes:

I was thinking how good it would be to get home, when a beggar – a bleary-eyed, unshaven, dirty old man – came up to me, touched my arm with a hand like a claw, and asked for money. He was so repulsive that instinctively I recoiled. Softly my father said, “Norman, it’s Christmas Eve. You shouldn’t treat a man that way.”

…”Dad,” I complained, “he’s nothing but a bum.”

“But he’s still a child of God,” my father said.

He then handed me a dollar – a lot of money for those days and certainly for a preacher’s income. “I want you to take this and give it to that man,” he said. “Speak to him respectfully. Tell him you are giving it to him in Christ’s name.”

“Oh Dad,” I protested, “I can’t do anything like that.”

My father’s voice was firm. “Go and do as I tell you.”

So, reluctant and resisting, I ran after the old man and said, “Excuse me, sir. I give you this money in the name of Christ.”

He stared at the dollar bill, then looked at me in utter amazement. A wonderful smile came to his face, a smile so full of life and beauty that I forgot that he was dirty and unshaven… Graciously he said, “And I thank you, young sir, in the name of Christ.”

All my irritation, all my annoyance faded away. The street, the houses, everything around me suddenly seemed beautiful because I had been part of a miracle that I have seen many times since – the transformation that comes over people when you think of them as children of God, when you offer them love in the name of a Baby born two thousand years ago in a stable in Bethlehem, a Person who still lives and walks with us and makes His presence known.

_____________________

I’m thankful for this uplifting story that reminds me, yet again, that we are all children of God, and that we have a responsibility to love, respect, and treat others as Christ would and as we would want to be treated and loved ~ The Golden Rule. Among the gifts we can offer Christ, in exchange for the many gifts we have received, are the love and kindness we show others. What a wonderful lesson Mr. Peale taught his son, Norman, that day, and Norman has passed it on so we, too, may learn from it.

I hope you’re having a blessed Christmas season.

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No-sew Christmas Burlap Table Runner and Christmas Jar Candles

Christmas Burlap Table Runner and Christmas Jar CandlesAre you thinking about your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day table settings?
Are you needing a little something new, something quick and easy, and something very inexpensive?
Well, this just might be what you are looking for.

Yesterday when I was looking at our tables and trying to visualize how I wanted to set them with what I have on hand I was wanting a new and a little bit rustic look for one of our tables. I have three tables to set and I like them all to be similar yet different. You know what I mean, right?

Well, this is what I came up with and it took about 45 minutes, tops. I saw the general idea for the table runner here but wanted to use burlap and muslin instead of burlap and satin. And I just ripped the muslin for a slightly frayed-rippled edge.

No-sew Burlap Table Runner

Here’s what you’ll need:

:: Burlap
{Measure your table to get the length you want. I don’t like my table runners to hang over the
edge of the table so I just measured the table top which was 47 inches. Then measure the width you want. I made mine 17-1/2 inches wide.}
:: Muslin
{Or Christmas fabric would be cute, too, or satin, or any fabric you want}
{Measure it the same length as the burlap. Then measure the width you want.
I made mine 11-1/2 inches wide.}
:: Scissors

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Starting with the burlap ~
1. Measure the length you want your table runner to be. Pull out one or two of the threads so you will have a straight and perfect line to cut. This also helps cut down on the massive fraying that happens when cutting burlap. Now cut the burlap down that row where you pulled out the thread.
2. Next, measure the width and do the same as above.

For the muslin ~
1. Measure the length and make a little snip with the scissors. Then rip the fabric down to the length you want your muslin to be.
2. Do the same for the width.
{If you use a different fabric you may need to cut it instead of ripping it.}

Now layer them on your table.

OK. Now on to the Christmas Jar Candles.

Christmas Jar CandlesI got the idea for these cute, simple jar candles here. I already had everything on hand. The white tray is from Cost Plus World Market and the holly is from Costco. Look around your house ~ you probably have something that will work perfectly.

Christmas Jar Candles

Here’s what you’ll need:

:: Pint-sized jars
:: Candles {I used tea lights with the metal tray removed.}
:: Twine
:: Salt
:: Scissors

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Wrap the twine around the jar {just below the ring) a few times to get the look you want.
2. Measure and cut however many lengths you will need for the number of jars you are making and then wrap and tie the twine on the jars.
3. Fill the jar with salt and slightly nestle the candle down into the salt.
4. Place them on a decorative tray and garnish with greenery.

Congratulations.
You now have a lovely new table runner and some very cute candle jars with which
to dress your Christmas table.

If you make either one of these I would love it if you would send me photos
so I can see how yours turned out.

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1944 ~ A War Christmas Story

Today I want to share a beautiful and uplifting Christmas story that my family often
listens to on Christmas morning.

It is a true story told by Michael Ballam on his “Music and the Mind” CD.

Most of the world was in turmoil on Christmas Eve, 1944. World War II was being fought and in addition to fighting in Europe, America was fighting in the South Pacific, which is where this story takes place.

On each night of the week that preceded Christmas Eve in 1944, a lot of American lives had been lost while trying to hold an island in the South Pacific. Being foreigners, the  Americans were at a disadvantage because they didn’t know the area or terrain. The Japanese, though, knew the island well and had a distinct advantage, especially at night. On each of those nights prior to that Christmas Eve night the Japanese would stealthily find their way into position where the destruction of the American troops was certain.

GIs who kept journals recorded their thoughts that Christmas Eve. They wrote down how it felt that night, knowing that it may likely be their last on earth. They climbed into their foxholes, and as a lovely reminder of home and Christmas’ past, some of them even hung stockings on their bayonets. And they waited just as they had waited each night for the past week for the stroke of midnight, gun shots, and death.

But this night would be different even though it started out very much the same. As the sun went down and the moon came up they heard the stealthy steps of the enemy approaching, positioning themselves, and preparing to fight.

Some soldiers began to pray. Some began simply to think and wonder.

As midnight was about to strike, from one of those foxholes, a beautiful voice was heard singing this song:

At first it was one voice singing, next a duet, then a trio, and finally a chorus.  It was followed by “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and ended with “Silent Night.” Three Christmas hymns brought that evening to a silent close. It was a silent night. Not a gun was fired.

“Why?”

“What caused those two opposing forces, to at least for a moment have
peace on earth and good will toward men?”

Michael Ballam asks the above questions, and then explains that “in those beautiful Christmas songs is a secret ingredient. That secret ingredient is love and it lives in divine music. When it is present hate and envy and resentment and bigotry cannot exist. Light is stronger than dark and love is stronger than hate.”

I have heard several other similar war stories that have ended with silent nights, all because of beautiful music ~ either vocal or instrumental. The hearts of enemies had been touched by Godly-inspired music and the miracle of the light of Christ. It can happen today in our world of commotion as well, if people are willing to listen to the Holy Spirit and embrace the light that Christ offers. Our Savior, Jesus Christ is the Light of the World and divine influence comes from God through Christ to give life and light to all things.

My hope is that as we celebrate Christmas around the world we will each have the spirit of Christmas and the light of Christ in our hearts and in our lives so that we can embrace others with love and good will.

Do any of you know of an uplifting Christmas story that can be shared?
If you do, I would love to post it on this blog.
Please send me a message in the comments section below
or the “Contact Me” link at the top or bottom of this page.

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