Archives for 2007

Go Ahead — Indulge

Are Christmas goodies starting to appear at your house yet? I’ve scaled back on what I make now that I’m supposed to be watching my sugar intake. Since fudge is a particular weakness of mine, I’m skipping it altogether and have just asked Kristin to bring some of hers when they come for Christmas. If I had it here all month, I would be sneaking bites of it constantly :)

I did, however, make some peanut clusters the other day in an effort to try to spread out some of the baking and goodie-making that I need to accomplish over the next couple of weeks. You know what peanut clusters remind me of? My Grandpa Barnes. I can’t think of peanut clusters without thinking of him — and Grandma, too, for that matter.

When my sisters and I were growing up, Grandpa was famous for buying peanut clusters at the Woolworth’s candy counter every time they came to town. He always shared them with us and even let us order pop at the soda fountain there. (For some reason, Mom always ordered a limeade, but I, of course, wanted pop.)

Both Grandpa and Grandma liked their sweets (maybe that’s where I got my sweet tooth!). When we visited them on their farm, we’d make sure to check out their candy drawer in the kitchen. That’s right, they had a candy drawer. They probably had other things in there, too, but all I cared about was the candy. Now that I think of it, I have a candy stash at my house as well. (Figure I might as well tell you about it before one of the girls pipes up with that bit of news as a comment!) Anyway, peanut clusters and orange slices (the candy not the fruit!) along with other old-fashioned candy treats could be found on a regular basis in Grandpa and Grandma’s candy drawer. That’s just one of the great memories I have of them.

Don’t you just love giving in to nostalgia? Christmas, with all its heartwarming memories, is the perfect time to do it, too. So go ahead — indulge in some nostalgia. If not now, be sure to take time for it later. Let your mind wander back and remember the people and places of your past. Relive those scenes, those aromas, those feelings you have tucked away in your heart. Savor your memories. And this year as you make new memories, capture moments that you can look back on in the years to come.

I’m reminded of someone who did just that over 2,000 years ago. After the baby Jesus was born and the shepherds had come to see Him, scripture says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 NIV) I wonder how many times after that she indulged in nostalgia and recalled every moment of that amazing night? Let’s take time to remember that night of all nights as well. “O come, let us adore Him!”

**Don’t forget to sign up for the December giveaway! The deadline is this Friday. Check the Dec. 2nd post for details.

Christmas Tree Joy

Do you have your Christmas tree decorated yet? Probably depends on whether you’re going to get a real one or not. If you’re like us and use an artificial tree, chances are you’ve been delighting in it for several days already.

I absolutely love having our Christmas tree up during the holidays. Excitement, joy, peace, and contentment all seem to emanate from it. Nothing makes me happier than to find a valid excuse to put the tree up a few days early, and this year was no exception. I have to admit that I don’t like the work involved, especially when I have trouble with the lights (yes, I’m mechanically challenged) and with my garland that never quite fits around the whole tree. The end result is perfect, though, and always worth the effort.

Now when I say perfect, I don’t mean magazine perfect with everything color coordinated and evenly balanced. I just mean perfect to my eyes and heart. (Did I mention before that I love our tree?!) I guess you would say the theme of our tree is “hodgepodge” — a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And each little “this and that” is dearly loved and meaningful in some way, except for a few ornaments that I am trying to convince Kelli to finally start putting on her own tree :)

About 20 years ago I bought a couple of Precious Moments porcelain ornaments that reminded me of my girls, and over the years several others have been added to our tree (most of them gifts from Don or the girls, but a few represent some lucky after-Christmas sales!). We also have a Precious Moments angel tree-topper that Kelli, when she was just a little girl, named “Carolyn” after her Aunt Carolyn. Carolyn was probably in her late teens at the time and considered very cool by her little nieces :)

The rest of our ornaments come from a variety of people and places. Kelli’s favorite (the twirly one) has been handed down from Don’s family, and Kristin’s favorites are her “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament and the one that has her picture on it as a 2-year old. Several are gifts from dear friends while many others represent vacation spots we enjoyed together as a family. We even have a couple that Dad brought back for me from his travels in Russia. Then there are those that I’ve simply treated myself to when I splurge a little while on vacation :)

Each ornament holds special meaning and memories for me. That’s one of the reasons I love our tree so much, but there is another reason as well. I know Christmas trees mean different things to different people, but to me they are a symbol of joy. They show there is a celebration going on – a celebration so big that even the trees are shouting for joy. The lights, the tinsel, the ornaments all seem to cry out “Joy to the world! A Savior has been born!” Funny as it may sound, Christmas trees actually lead me to worship.

I pray that you will enjoy your tree this year, that perhaps you’ll look at it in a new way. If you listen closely, you will probably hear it singing for joy at the miracle of our Savior’s birth. Take time to sing along and enter into that joy yourself this Christmas season. Worship and be blessed!

“Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the Lord…” 1 Chronicles 16:33 NIV

Ho, Ho, Ho! December Giveaway!

Are you wondering if I’m planning on doing a giveaway every month now? Well, the answer is “no”, but I just couldn’t let the month of giving go by without doing a giveaway! My girls will tell you that I love playing Santa so let’s just say that this one’s from Santa :)

This month I will be giving away another one of the books on my Books That Will Bless list. This time it’s The One Year Life Verse Devotional (the book that has a devotion in it that I wrote!) If you’ve already run out and bought one for yourself since you know one of the contributors :), try the giveaway anyway and bless someone with it as a gift.

To be included in the drawing, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by midnight Dec. 15th and follow these guidelines: Be sure to include your name as well as an email address if I don’t know you personally. If you have time and since it’s the month for giving and receiving gifts, tell me about one of the most memorable gifts you received as a child. (Be sure and comment by the 15th — I thought I would cut it off early this month so I can get the book to the winner before Christmas.)

If you’re like me, you can probably remember several gifts you received during your growing up years. Chances are, though, one or two stand out in your memory above the others. I’ll never forget the year I opened a tiny little package from my dad, and inside was an English walnut. He said, “A nut for a nut!” (yes, I was crazy back then, too!) Everyone roared, of course. He insisted that I go ahead open it and eat the nut so I played along trying to be a good sport. Guess what I found when I cracked it open? A five-dollar bill! I thought I had hit the jackpot. The neighbors probably heard all my whooping and hollering. Come to find out, Dad had very carefully taken the nut apart, cleaned out the inside so he could put a surprise in it for me, and glued it back together. What looked very ordinary at first glance actually held something quite extraordinary. I’ll never forget that gift.

Another gift given over 2,000 years ago looked very ordinary as well. A baby boy was born to an ordinary couple in a very ordinary stable in Bethlehem. At first glance, some might have thought He was just an ordinary baby, but there was nothing ordinary about Him. He was the Savior of the world. And the world has never forgotten that Gift.

“…I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10b-11 NIV

First Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations, Shawn! You are the first-ever giveaway winner on Cheryl’s R & R! I drew your name out of the hat — it was a bowl actually :) — after saying a prayer and asking God to give the book to the person He wanted it to go to. I’m sure Thomas Kinkade’s The Art of Creative Living will be a blessing to you.

Everyone check back soon — I’ve got something else up my sleeve :) Happy December 1st!

The Amazing Race

Know what I did yesterday? I competed in my own version of The Amazing Race. For those of you unfamiliar with it, The Amazing Race is a reality show that follows the adventures of several teams of ordinary people racing around the world competing for a prize of a million dollars. Don and I watch the show each week, and as I chronicled my day’s activities for him late last night, I finally breathed a sigh of exhaustion and moaned, “I feel like I’ve been on The Amazing Race!”

No, I didn’t get on a plane, ride a bike, row a boat, or compete in challenges like milking camels or eating unappetizing international foods. I simply went Christmas shopping. Think I’m being overly dramatic? Think again. Since we have very few places to shop in our town other than Wal-mart, I always have way too much to do when I go to T-town for my monthly writers meetings. With Christmas shopping added to the mix, I found myself running The Amazing Race, not just watching it.

I didn’t have a partner like the teams on the show do (the friend I go to the meetings with is battling bad knees right now). My only competitor was the clock, but that was enough. I went armed with my list of stops and gift ideas, knowing I had only x-amount of time to try to conquer it all. After making the drive and parking in front of my first stop, I pulled out my list, reviewed it, put on my game face, and started walking. Or maybe I should say sprinting. I move fast on marathon shopping days — just ask my family.

I didn’t stand in lines at airport ticket counters, but I did stand in lines at almost every check out or customer service. I wasn’t required to search through hundreds of assigned items trying to spot one with a special mark, but I certainly scoured aisles and shelves in store after store trying to find what I had in mind for those on my list.

While driving from place to place, I ate my lunch and plotted new strategies to deal with the roadblocks and detours that presented themselves — stores that had closed, stores that had moved, discontinued items, out-of-stock items, high prices, wrong color, wrong style, a phone call late in the day from an unnamed family member finally giving me a list of ideas… You get the picture. My roadblocks and detours were certainly different from those on the show, but they challenged and stressed me just the same.

I didn’t give up, though, and along with the frustrations, I also experienced some pleasant surprises and successes. I pressed on until I reached the pit stop for my race — the restaurant where I met my friend for supper. She can attest to the fact that I showed up looking a little rattled and frazzled, but I made it by the appointed time. Problem is, I didn’t accomplish all on my list. I guess the clock won. I did the best I could, though, and my trunk was filled with the proof :)

I would rather my Christmas shopping be more leisurely and “merry”, but sometimes our situations don’t afford us the luxury of our “rathers”. And so for now, I may have to compete in The Amazing Race from time to time. What about you? Are you in the midst of a race of some sort or faced with the prospect of one? I encourage you to put on your game face and start walking — or sprinting or whatever you have to do. Press on and don’t give up. Bet you’ll have a friend waiting for you at your pit stop, too.

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1b NIV)