Archives for 2011

Still Little Girls at Heart

My big little girls are still at it. Still trying to capture the magic under the Christmas tree. As you can see, this year Kristin and Kelli sported elf hats while the Peanut M&M man even got in on the fun :)

These sweet girls of mine will probably still be taking this shot when they’re my age because when it comes right down to it, they’ll always be little girls at heart. Little girls that I love — at Christmas and always!

I’ll be back with regular posts on Sunday. Enjoy the rest of your holiday week!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Just popping in long enough to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and to share one of our annual timed photos. Christmas just ain’t Christmas at the Barker house without some timed photo fun. As you can see, a family from the North Pole dropped by this year :)

Enjoy the days of Christmas! May God bless you in amazing ways!

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us.” Psalm 67:1

*I may post another photo or two during the holiday week, but then I’ll get back to my regular blogging schedule the first of the year. If you missed my annual holiday poem, “A Song of Christmas Praise”, just scroll down to the next post and enjoy!

Return Trip

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:20

This final verse in Luke’s famous account of the birth of Jesus struck me differently than it ever had before when I read it last December. I’d always thought the phrase “The shepherds returned” meant they returned to their flock, but now I see an entirely different scenario.

If you’ll remember, the verses preceding this one tell how after hearing the angelic announcement of the birth of a Savior, the shepherds hurried off to Bethlehem to find the babe. After they saw the Son of God, “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.” (v. 17)

Now if they spread the word, they certainly must have gone out into the community and beyond to tell everyone they saw what they had seen and heard. So when scripture goes on in verse 20 to say “The shepherds returned”, might it mean that they returned to Bethlehem to see Jesus once again?

I think that might be what happened. After they spread the news, I think they may have felt irresistibly drawn back to the Babe. I think they may have wanted to come close to the Savior again. Their return trip might just have been back to Bethlehem instead of back to their flock.

Let’s plan our return trip even now. After we travel to and fro, celebrating Christmas—the birthday of the King—with family and friends alike, let’s make sure we return to glorify and praise our Savior in our daily lives when all the holiday hubbub is over. Let’s return to worship Him year round.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you . . .” James 4:8a

*Flickr photo by rahego, Creative Commons License

The Constant of Christmas

The holiday season can be a difficult time for many. Heartaches hurt more, burdens feel heavier, and changes can be more challenging to accept. Loneliness looms larger and disappointment runs deeper as well. At times, Christmas joy can be hard to find.

Where do you find your Christmas joy? If you search for it in people—family and friends—those can change or disappoint. If in new possessions or extravagant treats, those can be stripped away or give only short-term fulfillment. If in well-laid plans for the perfect Christmas, a winter storm or unexpected illness can topple those in an instant.

Only in the manger can we find unchanging, unfailing Christmas joy. Oh, we can and do experience holiday joy with our families and friends, with our activities and traditions, with music and feasting. But the deep, abiding joy of Christmas—and of our lives—that no circumstance or human failing can touch can be found only in the constant of Christmas. Only in Jesus.

Let’s look to the manger this holiday season. Let’s let Jesus anchor our Christmas joy. For He is a rock like no other. He is the constant of Christmas.

“‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matthew 28:20b

*Flickr photo by jeffweese, Creative Commons License

Fun Christmas Questions—and a Winner!

Let’s have some Christmas fun today! Announcing a winner is always fun so let’s start with that. The winner of The Spirit of Christmas (a Christmas book with one of my stories in it!) is Kristin! Congratulations, Kristin!! This sweet girl of mine started entering my blog giveaways back when I started blogging in 2007 and never had any luck winning one until this year. And now she has won two. Yippee for her! :)

Now for a little holiday fun. Christmas offers us a natural time to celebrate our favorites, whether traditions or treats. Let’s see if we have any of the same favorites. I’ll pose the questions and give my answers, and then you chime in by answering any or all with a comment. *Warning: Choosing favorites may prove to be next to impossible! :)

1. What’s your favorite Christmas movie? I LOVE White Christmas, but I also love While You Were Sleeping (set during the Christmas season). My newest favorite is Christmas with the Kranks. I so identify with this one now that our girls live away from home.

2. What’s your favorite Christmas dinner menu item? It’s a toss up between my Mom’s mashed potatoes and homemade noodles and the birthday cake I make for Jesus—our family’s famous Fresh Orange Layer Cake.

3. Do you have a favorite Christmas book, story, or poem? I’ve gotta go with the greatest story ever told—the birth of Jesus as recorded in Luke chapter 2. Another favorite, for nostalgic reasons, is Clement Moore’s classic poem “The Night Before Christmas”.

4. How about a favorite Christmas candy? Fudge! The Kraft Marshmallow Creme label recipe. Yum!

5. What’s your all-time favorite Christmas song? I love so many Christmas songs, but if I have to choose just one, I’ll say “Silent Night”. I’m a classics kind of gal :) I love all the fun Christmas songs, though, too. Love the sound tracks from the Home Alone movies.

6. When you’re not eating your favorite Christmas candy, what’s your favorite Christmas cookie? Mine is another family favorite—Christmas cut-out sugar cookies made from a recipe that a long-time family friend, Joyce Lee, gave my mom many years ago. It’s called Mary’s Sugar Cookies.

7. Do you have a favorite Christmas tree ornament? Another hard choice because of so many favorites. I have several Precious Moments porcelain tree ornaments, though, and my favorites among those are the first two I ever got (back when my girls were little). One is a ballerina that I bought because she reminds me of Kristin, and the one that reminds me of Kelli is a little girl in a nightgown and nightcap holding a strand of cutout hearts.

8. Not counting your main Christmas tree, what’s your favorite Christmas decoration? Mine is a lighted porcelain church that I place on top of our piano. Love the way it glows and fills my heart with a spirit of worship.

9. What store/shop do you most love to visit during the holidays? I love to go to Williams-Sonoma and see all their nifty holiday items and also to get tastes of their cider and peppermint bark. Double yum! But I also like to go into Dillard’s or Macy’s and score a box of Harry & David Dark Chocolate Truffles from the holiday display :)

10. What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? Our traditions have changed since our girls have grown up, and my favorite tradition now just centers around having them home (along with their hubbies) for a few days right before Christmas—just hanging out, eating, playing games, etc. Throughout the month, though, one of my best-loved traditions is watching our favorite Christmas movies. I also enjoy including an original Christmas poem in my Christmas cards each year. Have been doing that for nearly thirty years now. Does that make me old? :)

Your turn now. Share some of your Christmas favorites!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1

*Flickr photo by wsilver