Merry Christmas!

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"Open your hearts to the love God instills... God loves you tenderly. What he gives you is not to be kept under lock and key, but to be shared."
~ Mother Teresa

This is a two-part contest, but don't worry, you need only enter once.

How to Enter: Send me an e-mail either sharing how someone encouraged you during this difficult year, or what you need courage for as you face the coming days, weeks, months, and year ahead.

I'll post some entries in a future update.

A Cozy Christmas

Contest is over

Titles include: The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere, From Rome with Love by Kate Lloyd, Christmas Ideals 2020, and The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

Courage for 2021

Contest is over

What can I say about 2020, except that it has not been the year I expected.

In November, my 20-year-old granddaughter and I embarked on a journey to find some hope for all the heartaches and disappoints this year brought.

I wish I could give each of you this wonderful Bible study we discovered. Unfortunately, I can only offer one study kit to a special someone.

In her seven-week video series, through the Old Testament book of Haggai, Jennifer Rothschild shows how to seize courage, rebuild, and move forward in the midst of our circumstances.

Take Courage by Jennifer Rothschild includes the seven-week video series and study guide.

*** U.S. entries only please

Sharpen your Word Skills with this Fun Game!

Write Christmas Candle at the top of a blank sheet of paper. Now see how many words you can create from the letters. Don't duplicate letters unless there is more than one, as in the case of "s" and "c".

You can play this game in every season by using one or two words, like Summer Vacation, Thanksgiving Turkey, or Thanksgiving Prayer.

Form teams with family members, friends, or class- mates. See which team comes up with the most words in fifteen minutes.

Hint: Having at least one "e" will increase the number of words you can make.

2020 ~ A Year Like No Other

Like many of you this year, our family has experienced joys, laughter, disappointments, grief, and deep sadness. We celebrated the wedding of our oldest granddaughter, a joy for sure. We've also grieved over the chronic debilitating disease of two young family members. Wearing masks, we've attended our church guarded by police and armed security due to threats of violence.

In the face of our changing world, and in this year of uncertainty, I reaffirm my faith in The One who for a season surrendered his heavenly place and humbled himself to be born a baby so he could identify with all that it means to be human.

As my husband, Loren, so often says to me, our children, and grandchildren, "Though we don't always see or understand, yet we choose to believe and to trust."

Charles Wesley, an English minister and evangelist, witnessed the extreme poverty, living conditions of orphans, and division of the classes in 1744, England. Moved by the suffering of his fellow countryman he penned the poem, "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus."

His poem reflected on the birth of Jesus and also pointed to his second coming. Known as the Advent Hymn, the poem was later set to music and included in Wesley's hymnal, Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord.

Come, thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel's Strength and Consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart

Born Thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne

This Christmas, from my heart to yours, may you also experience renewed faith, the joy of Jesus' birth, the light of his glory, the hope of his glorious return for his church. And may the presence of his abundant love fill your heart to overflowing.

Peanut Butter Bars

A favorite with our family

1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 cubes melted butter
1 cup chunky peanut butter

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Pat mixture into a 9x13" dish.

In a small sauce pan melt together 12 0z. chocolate chips, 1/4 cup milk, and 3 tablespoons butter.

Spread topping over peanut butter mixture and let set until firm. Cut into bars and enjoy!

Readers Share Holiday Plans in a Challenging Year

Barb - Reading interactive Holiday books (Thanksgiving & Christmas) w/ my preschooler grandsons! 4, 2½, & 24 months!

Wendy - I'm going to do my best to keep the traditions my family has done for years. If we cannot due to the virus, we will select a date when we have the freedom to visit each other and have Christmas. The date of Christmas is not the important part. What we do to celebrate the birth of Christ is what matters. We live in neighboring states. So, we have to do what our states require. This year we may celebrate Christmas in March.

Merry Christmas to all!

Lydia - We usually gather with our children and grandchildren, but this year we will all gather on our own. I am making part of the meal and my daughter-in-law is making some of it. I'll drop off the foods I've made and pick up some sides my daughter-in-law made. This way we won't each have to prepare a complete Thanksgiving dinner. I may tuck in a Thanksgiving card and surprises.

During the day, I may call my out-of-state siblings and drive by and drop off a treat for local ones since they are isolated in retirement communities. It is more blessed to give than to receive. I am thinking of ways to cheer others.

For neighbors, I may drop off flowers. I'm saying may, because I also want time to spend time with hubby, rest, and read.

Cindi - I plan to do things a little different this year for the holidays. I care for my elderly father who hates to ask for help, yet he needs it desperately. I've decided to give him a coupon book as gifts. Each coupon will have something specific on it. All will be different.

Some examples:

  • Coupon good for chili for dinner. (it's one of his favorites)
  • Coupon good for weeding the garden.
  • Coupon good for a bag of favorite candy.
  • Coupon good for dinner out at a restaurant of your choice.
  • Coupon good an outing to a park.
  • Coupon good for washing the car.
  • Coupon good for a drive around an area to take in the sights

You get the idea. I plan to do the same for others too. Of course, each coupon book will be adapted for each person's needs or desires.

I hope you have a wonderful fall and enjoy the beauty that God has blessed us with this time of year.