Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reprise...by Popular Requests.

Thirty years ago as a new wife, awaiting her first baby in her new home, I was attracted to a "Twelve Days Of Christmas" wall hanging I saw in a magazine ( Better Homes and Gardens?) Anyway, with all kinds of time on my hands I made one for our new home.
I didn't realize what a fond, childhood memory it had become before my now grown children, looking through the small mountain of Christmas Past photos I put out every year commented on how they loved it and "Where is it now?" There were howls when I said I had long ago sold it in a garage sale or donated it to Goodwill. I made a mental note that this might be a good idea for future Christmas gifting for the kids. ( These creative thoughts most often burst brightly in my noggin and then evaporate or common sense and reality remind me to "GET REAL!")
But...four weeks of THE flu and couch recovery time late this fall gave me plenty of time on my hands to take the plunge. I found an old photo of the original hanging on the wall in our first home and Steve blew it up and made a copy. I hand drew patterns for all the figures and details along with some of my own embellishments not in the original. Becky took my order for "a project for the kids" and picked out a variety of felt from Field's and I began cutting. ....and cutting...and cutting!
Thirty years causes one to forget painful circumstances...like labor and delivery. (We called it "natural" and did it totally drug free for our children in those days.) OR cutting 70 gazillion pieces of felt for three wall hangings ( The prerequisite for a child to get one of these is attaching themselves to a spouse...so I still have one on the drawing board. I borrowed my neighbor,Kathy's FIVE Harry Potter videos and along with other television, watched all five TWICE while I worked on these.) I did recall that the original had a felt backing which torqued and didn't hang correctly. I corrected that by gluing the felt pieces to a stiff canvas type fabric AND by inserting 3/4" oak dowels ( thanks, Steve!)in casings top and bottom.
These are big...36" wide by 42" long.
...and...all worth it on Christmas Day when Steve brought them from their hiding place and presented them to the Becky and Derek, Megan and Avery, and Adam and his Caity. Merry Christmas from Mom and Dad!
P.S. MY favorites are the "Eleven Lords A'Leaping"...blue with their little bright red vests and golden crowns akimbo.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Once upon a time,in God's perfect timing, there was a young Jewish girl named, Mary. Mary was engaged to be married to a young carpenter from Nazareth named, Joseph. Mary and Joseph didn't have lots of money. They weren't important people, as the world looked at them, but they were both devoted to God and willing to be obedient to whatever God told them to do, no matter how difficult being obedient might be for them. When an angel came to Mary and told her that she was going to have a baby, THE ONE, God's own Son, the Rescuer of all people,Mary trusted God and said, "I am God's servant. Whatever God says, I will do!"

The angel was right! Joseph and Mary were on a trip to Bethlehem when the time came for Mary's baby boy to be born. There was no place for them to stay and they ended up in the only available place,an old stable. That's exactly the place God chose for His son to be born! Mary and Joseph wrapped him in cloths to keep Him warm and laid him in the soft straw of the animals' feed box. They named Him, Jesus, just as the angel had told them.
That same night, shepherds were camping in the dark, peaceful hills. The only sounds were the crackling of the campfire and the snoring sheep.ALL OF A SUDDEN!!!...the sky lit up like never before and an ANGEL appeared! Understandably, the first thing the angel said was, "Don't be afraid! I bring you the most joyful news EVER announced and it's for EVERYONE!" Then the sky filled with angels all singing so beautifully, "Glory to God in the highest and Peace on earth for all those pleasing Him!" The angel told the shepherds that they could find God's promised Son in, of all places, a manger in Bethlehem; that they should follow the bright star in the sky and run to find Him...and so they did. And so they found Him with Mary and Joseph, just as the angel had told them! They knelt down in the straw and dirt of the stable and worshipped the Baby because they knew He was The Light of the whole world... a Light to put an end to darkness forever!

There were, far, far, far away, kings, called Magi or "wise men" who studied the skies and when they saw the same star as the shepherds. They knew the star was a promised sign that a King had been born. They had been waiting for this sign and quickly packed special, precious gifts, gifts a king would give a great King, like frankincense, gold and myrrh on their camels and started out on the long, long trip to worship The baby King. Imagine their surprise when the great star in the sky unmistakably led them to a rundown stable in a shabby little town named, Bethlehem! But when they saw the Baby Jesus, they KNEW there was no mistake, and they took off their glittering, jeweled crowns and knelt in their beautiful robes in the same dirt and straw as the shepherds before them.
What an adventure Mary was on! The Bible says "Mary treasured all these things, and pondered them in her heart"

and for us, for ANYONE who seeks God's greatest Gift for us, His Son, our Rescuer. For us, for ANYONE who trusts God and responds to Him, "I am God's servant. Whatever God says, I will do."
For Anyone who will reach out to take it God will give them this wonderful ETERNAL Gift!...reborn to be the person God always intended us to be from before the beginning of time...OURSELVES, just as He created us!
Every other gift pales in comparison!

Friday, December 11, 2009


"Re-Set" was a word thrown out by one of the kids this year. Originally it was an exclamation used just after the grand babies were put down here for naps to signal a rapid effort scramble to pick up and put away the twisted mass of pulled out toys and books affording the adults the optimal quiet, organized, oasis of peace that oh so precious nap time provides.
But lately, I have found myself appropriating the term for many other areas in my life. For example,the never ending,irresistible "re-set" of interior design; of putting away all the pumpkins, Indian corn, and colored leaves and pulling all the Christmas decorations from under window seats and staircases, from stacked basement storage, closet shelves and drawers to transform our living spaces to a Christmas "RESET"
After our vacation to Nashville we returned to Avery's meticulous handiwork...our lower level "re-set" in Benjamin Moore Sandy Hook Grey. It was worth the eight years of indecision to have the area, as Becky so well put it, "the way it was always meant to be." It was so rewarding to gather pieces of furniture and accessories from around the house to complete the metamorphosis.
In the midst of Christmas cookie baking mania this week, "reset" was a welcome intermission period of washing all the bowls and utensils, cleaning off the kitchen counters and putting away all the ingredients and clutter to afford a renewed enthusiasm to pull out another recipe and plunge back into the sweet smelling fray.
"Re-sets" can be physical and emotional, too. Two days after our return from Tennessee I came down with THE flu, and was down for four weeks before I returned to "life". Three weeks on the couch. Three weeks of wondering if I was really ever going to feel better. Three weeks realizing that for people with chronic and terminal conditions, there is little or no hope for the day they will wake without their symptoms. When my day of finally feeling better arrived it came with a much deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation.
Finally, but certainly most primarily (essentially, chiefly, principally!) I am noting the strong work of the Holy Spirit in a "re-setting" of spiritual aspects of my life. Last year I felt the clear, familiar sense of God "calling me out of Bible Study Fellowship" involvement for this year. As has always been the case in these "sabbatical years", God has filled my time with a variety of "Independent Studies". He is powerfully "re-setting" my spiritual frame of mind in a wonderful variety of ways, providing continual, profound instruction through my quiet times in His Word as well as through a stack of potent books, among them, "Let Go" by Francoise Fenelon,"Seeking Him" and "Choosing Forgiveness" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, "God's Plan To Protect His People In The Coming Depression" by David Wilkerson,"Boundaries" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, "Speaking The Truth In Love" by Ruth Koch and Kenneth Haugk, "The Love Dare" by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, and "The Practice Of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence. My journal has been filled this fall in an effort to record and remind myself of Him speaking to me through outstanding sermons and conferences and seminars on applying what I am learning in LIVING with a growing focus on Christ; filtering my challenges through His model for living, not the worlds'. Perhaps sweetest, in the past year, He has brought, one after another, no less than twelve old friends back into my life. The times spent with these special people have taught, encouraged, challenged and healed me. I am MOST in awe of this precious method of "re-set" in my life and reminded that God knows us better than we know ourselves and always knows the "key" needed to unlock the closed doors in our souls. I am so very thankful for the great gift God has given me in these interactions...these INTERVENTIONS in my life!
The concept is simple and exciting...just push that RE-SET button, but EVERYTHING is a choice and most correct choices in life are NOT easy or painless....just essential since acquiring knowledge without applying it is useless without hitting "RE-SET" in my life.