"It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you ... yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand."
- Mother Teresa

Cozy Winter Reads Contest
(a $75 value)

Drawing December 12th.

How to Enter: Send me an e-mail sharing some of your family's special holiday traditions! I'll post some entries in a future update.

Titles include: To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon, A Letter from Lancaster County, signed by author Kate Lloyd, Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Book of Christmas Miracles, Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber, and The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett.

*** 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.

Simply the Best

Perhaps the gifts you give this Christmas won't be ones purchased from the store, wrapped in shiny paper, tied with fancy ribbon, and placed under a tree. Maybe the gift you give this year is You - Your time, your presence, your smile, your laughter.

You are worth far more than anything you could ever find on a store shelf.

When was the last time you made cookie cutouts with your adult kids? Why not invite your family over and share a bowl of popcorn while you watch the old B&W version of A Christmas Carol, read the Christmas story from the Bible, or celebrate Advent together... .

Because the best gift you have to give is you!

Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.
- Lucinda Franks

"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
- Luke 2:11

Readers Share - The Kindness of Others

Sherri - A friend of mine showed up one time several years back just to say hi, and said she had been at the store and saw a beautiful mum in my favorite color (purple) and knew she had to buy it for me. I actually cried that someone had thought to give me something special, it really touched my heart.

Sonja - Our church youth group decided to gather items for refugee families. The plan was to completely furnish a family's home. The response was amazing. I found it most touching because, I too, was once a refugee from East Germany.

Janet - The kindness I received was very unexpected. I was a caregiver for my Mom who was suffering from Alzheimer's. My friends, Pat H., Pat N., Lorna, and Jen got together and made me a quilt. I can feel the love and hugs when I wrap it around my shoulders.

Lydia - I experienced kindness today when my neighbor brought me dinner. She knows I went to the doctor today because I have a painful leg and each step hurts. So she shared her meatloaf and baked potatoes with us. So thankful.

Sue - While we were building our brick cottage this summer many family, friends, and acquaintances pitched in and helped. All these acts of kindness blessed me, especially since many gave up workdays to donate time to our project. What truly surprised me was when a local contractor came by and donated a whole day to work with Bill to put up the soffits! We had just met this Christian man and were blown away by his gift of time. God Bless him and all those who helped us.

Linda - When I came out of a meeting at school, I was feeling pretty down. I was accused of doing something I didn't do and I couldn't clear my name. I thought, what am I doing here and why do people have to be so mean and hateful. As I left the meeting room, one of my students approached me with a little card that said, "You Are Special". Little did he know what I had just experienced and I just looked at him and said, "You will never know what you just did for me, and how much your card means to me." He just smiled down at me and shrugged his shoulders. I will never forget his act of kindness to me, and his card is still on my desk.

Lucy - I'm sharing a kindness my hubby has been doing while he is laid off. He brings my thyroid med and water to me in bed and tells me to read while he gets the fire going. Then he brings me coffee in the living room a half hour later. I'm enjoying it, but please pray for him to get called back soon. Thank you. I'm blessed.

Janet - When I had knee surgery last year my sister came & spent 3 weeks with me and my husband. I hadn't seen her in 4 years but we talk on the phone often. It was so nice having her spend time with us & she took such good care of me! When I woke up she had coffee & toast made for our breakfast. We would sit & talk & enjoy each other's company. It made having surgery less stressful because we were making memories together as I healed.

Ruby Gems

1/2 Cup softened Butter
1/4 teasp. Vanilla
1/4 Cup brown Sugar
1/4 teasp. Salt
1 egg yolk
Zest of 1 Orange
1 1/3 Cup Flour
1 Cup toasted pecans
1/4 Cup Raspberry fruit spread

Toast pecans on a cookie sheet for 5-6 minutes in a preheated 350° oven.

Cream together butter, vanilla, and brown sugar. Add egg yolk, reserving egg white in a small bowl. Mix in thoroughly flour, salt, orange zest, and 1/2 cup coarsely ground toasted pecans.

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls. Dip balls into slightly beaten egg white and roll in remaining ground pecans.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using fingers shape a well in the center of each ball.

Bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Cool slightly on pan, then remove cookies to a plate. Put about a 1 teaspoon of Smucker's raspberry fruit spread in center well of each cookie. Makes 18 cookies.

I Thank Thee

O Thou whose bounty fills my cup
With every blessing meet!
I give Thee thanks for every drop -
The bitter and the sweet.

I praise Thee for the desert road,
And for the riverside;
For all Thy goodness hath bestowed,
And all Thy grace denied.

I thank Thee for both smile and frown,
And for the gain and loss;
I praise Thee for the future crown
And for the present cross.

I thank Thee for both wings of love
Which stirred my worldly nest;
And for the stormy clouds which drove
Me trembling, to Thy breast.

I bless Thee for the glad increase,
And for the waning joy;
And for this strange, this settled peace
Which nothing can destroy.

- Jane Crewdson (1860)

Welcoming a New Year!

As we look forward to 2018 with all its challenges and possibilities let us remember;

God everlasting sets mercies over against miseries! His interventions are never mistimed. He never comes at the wrong season. God has the affairs of the world in his hands. In your blackest crisis the angel presences are doubtless in your neighborhood!
- Joseph Pearce from Springs in the Valley by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman