Archives for November 2009

Tis the Season…for Christmas Books!

Some people decorate for the holidays with Santas and snowmen, but me — I decorate with Christmas books! Okay, I decorate with all the other Christmasy stuff, too, but holiday gift books hold a prominent spot in my Christmas decor scheme of things (though not all in one group like the photo above — that’s just for this post).

Christmas books offer us more than most other traditional Yuletide displays. Not only do they appeal to the eye, they appeal to the spirit as well. Somehow they call out, inviting us to pick them up and delight in the treasures they hold.

Some of the books I place throughout my home during the holidays feature the work of master artists as well as the endearing words of writers, old and new. Years ago, I bought Christmas at our House, written and illustrated by Donna Green, in hopes of starting a new family tradition — an after dinner holiday family time. That year went well because the book also served as a memory book, giving us spaces to write in our own favorite holiday memories and traditions. In later years, however, the girls balked at some of my attempts to continue after dinner holiday family time. Imagine that — teenagers not enjoying family time! :)

Other favorites include Thomas Kinkade’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, which features quotes and selections from classic authors alongside his trademark paintings of warmth and light, and Charles Schulz’s The Joy Of A Peanuts Christmas serving up some of our best loved characters’ never to be forgotten Christmas humor. Also on my favorites list are books that feature spiritual thoughts and reflection, and Joni Eareckson Tada’s A Christmas Longing more than fills the bill.

Christmas books, if we’ll take the time to enjoy them, can lead to wonderful family times as well as meaningful personal time as we worship the One whose birth we celebrate. Let’s spend some time this season with a great Christmas book. Let’s spend some time with Him!

“…’We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.'” Matthew 2:2b

*Question for you: What are some of your favorite Christmas books? (I’d love to get some suggestions for some Christmas fiction this year…)

**Great Suggestion from Annette for a Christmas Outreach: When sending your Christmas cards, send at least one to this address: A Recovering American Soldier c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center 6900 Georgia Avenue NW; Washington, D.C. 20307.

A Winner — and "A Thanksgiving Offering"

Today’s the day! Time to say “thanks” in a mighty big way to one lucky subscriber of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter (sign-up to the right). After drawing one name totally at random, the winner of the Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is Keith H! Congratulations, Keith! There will be a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble on its way to you soon. Wish I could send each subscriber a gift card — I appreciate all of you!

Since I’ll be getting ready for Thanksgiving like the rest of you of this week, I won’t be doing my usual midweek post. Instead, I’ll wish you all a happy holiday today by sharing an acrostic piece of mine that was published in Evangel a few years ago. Hope you enjoy — and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

A Thanksgiving Offering

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:8-9)

Think of your many blessings, tell God daily you’re grateful, talk about what He’s done for you, and thirst for a life that pleases Him.

Humbly give glory to the most high God, honor Him for His deeds, hold His name in high esteem, and help others like He has helped you.

Acknowledge the Giver of all you have, appreciate the gifts He gives, ask for His continued blessing, and adore Him every day.

Name God’s mercies in your life, notice Him at work around you, nourish your spirit with thoughts of Him, and never forget His kindnesses.

Keep as memories God’s wonderful deeds, know His limitless grace, kneel before Him in love and devotion, and knit your heart with His in times of sweet communion.

Sing because of His love so amazing, sacrifice your praise to Him, see the Light behind the clouds, and simply live for His glory.

Anything special you’d like to give thanks for today? Share with a comment!

*Flickr photo by mathewingram, Creative Commons License

A New Adventure

As Kristin’s mom and dad and right-hand moving team (don’t get me started on how many times we moved her while she was in college), we got to be on-site this past weekend for the new adventure she and Shawn are traversing. Along with Shawn’s parents, we helped our kiddos load up their belongings, say good-bye to the first home they had known together, and then journey on to part two of their story as man and wife.

Leaving family, friends, and all that’s familiar to move to a new community hours away from loved ones is probably one of life’s biggest challenges — especially for sentimental types, like our girl Kristin, whose attachments run deep even after a short time. Books and kitchenware aren’t the only things that have to be packed during a move. Memories and desires have to be boxed up, too, and that’s much more difficult to do.

Once the letting go is past, though, the beginning again can start in earnest. And this is where Kristin and Shawn face an extra measure of challenge. Because of her commitments at the university, it will still be nearly a month before they can be together full-time in their new home. They’ve already faced over three weeks of seeing each other only on weekends while Shawn started his new job at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. In this regard, I guess you could say it’s been a rocky road to Little Rock :)

But it won’t be long now until that part of the journey is over. Soon they can settle into regular routines and begin navigating the challenges of a new community together. Lots of finding will be going on. Kristin will need to find work while they also find a new church, new friends, new doctors, a new hairdresser, a favorite new grocery store… and the list goes on. Hopefully, they’ll be able to sell their home in NW Arkansas soon and move out of the rental pictured above and into a permanent home in Little Rock. And yes, the old right-hand moving team will be at the ready again :)

Perhaps some of the rest of us are in the midst of a new adventure or having to begin again. We may be traversing our own rocky roads or having to box up memories and desires dear to our hearts.

Like Kristin and Shawn have done and will continue to do, I’m sure, let’s turn to the One who will make the journey with us each step of the way. Remember, He has promised, “‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5b). Our God is always at the ready. Let’s be sure to call on Him for each new adventure we face.

**Last chance: Current and new subscribers to Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter, will be included in a drawing for a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Sign up by noon (CST) Sunday on the sidebar to the right for a chance to win! See Nov. 1st post for details.

Pumpkin Cookies, Anyone?

Since we’ve been out of town all weekend helping Kristin and Shawn move, I needed a pre-planned post for you, and what could be better during the month of November than passing along a pumpkin recipe?!

I admit I haven’t tried this recipe myself yet, but my friend Cheryl J., who hopes to open her own sweet shop someday, has made these cookies to rave reviews so I know you won’t go wrong in trying them. Cheryl said she got the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies 2009 and that it makes about 60 cookies. Happy early holidays!

Melt in Your Mouth Pumpkin Cookies

2 cups butter softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 15oz can pumpkin
4 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, beat 2 cups butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat until combined. Add eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla: beat until combined. Beat in pumpkin, and then flour.

2. Drop dough by heaping teaspoons ( I use a big cookie scoop) on ungreased cookie sheet ( I use a stone). Bake about 10 – 12 minutes or until tops are set. Cool

3. For frosting: In a small saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread on cookies and if desired sprinkle with cinnamon.

If you try these, leave a comment and let us know what you thought of them. If you have a yummy cookie recipe you’d like to share, please do so in the comments. Everyone will thank you, I’m sure!

By the way, know what else is melt-in-your-mouth sweet? The Word of God. Be sure and partake of that, too!

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Pslam 119:103

**Current and new subscribers to Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter, will be included in a drawing for a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Sign up by noon (CST) Nov. 22 on the sidebar to the right for a chance to win! See Nov. 1st post for details.

Love Gives

Every now and then, when things are super busy for me for one reason or another, I like to share some great quotes with you. Our menu for today is love. Consider it a little midweek morsel here on Cheryl’s R&R. I pray these thoughts will bless and challenge you at the same time. Enjoy!

“Love is extravagant in the price it is willing to pay, the time it is willing to give, the hardships it is willing to endure, and the strength it is willing to spend. Love never thinks in terms of ‘how little,’ but ‘how much.’ Love gives, love knows, and love lasts.” — Joni Eareckson Tada, contemporary artist, writer, and speaker.

“Joy is love exalted; peace is love in repose; long-suffering is love enduring; gentleness is love in society; goodness is love in action; faith is love on the battlefield; meekness is love in school; and temperance is love in training.” — Dwight L. Moody, 19th century evangelist and publisher

“‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends… This is my command: Love each other.'” John 15:12-13, 17

Flickr photo by Candida.Performa

**Current and new subscribers to Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter, will be included in a drawing for a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Sign up by noon (CST) Nov. 22 on the sidebar to the right for a chance to win! (See Nov. 1st post for details.)