Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Joy On Christmas Eve

I've been reading through this book this season.

It was a gift from someone a few years ago and is full of Bible verses, stories, song lyrics, quotes, and interesting facts about Christmas.  It has been a treat to read!

I love the Christmas season.  Absolutely love it.  And one of the quotes from this book really captures how I feel about the celebration of our Savior's birth and the sheer wonder of it all.  I have read and reread it often.  It goes as follows...

"Christmas at its core is larger than life, grander than we can begin to comprehend.  We cannot even imagine the scenario - God, the Son, wrapping himself in human flesh and being born in a humble stable to parents of little worldly consequence.  Perhaps that's why Christmas never loses its wonder year after year.  The story simply cannot be taken in at once.  It takes a lifetime of Christmases, and even then we remain starstruck, still unable to understand fully what God has done for us, what He has given us.

This Christmas, hold nothing back.  Look up and hear the majestic angelic choir, look out into the night in search of the brilliant Christmas star.  Cherish every expression of Christmas love, joy, and peace - immersing yourself in the wonder if it all!  Don't worry about going overboard.  In a million lifetimes, you could not grow weary of it - it's a truly eternal story."

An eternal story it is.  Because it is about Jesus, the One who was and is and is to come.  And it is a truly joyful story - because Jesus is joy!  And He is hope, and peace, and rest, and laughter, and celebration, and sacrifice, and the ultimate love, and everything we could want or need.

I hope you allow yourself to fully enJOY the celebration and be completely captivated by the wonder!  Most of all, I hope you know Jesus, because He will change your life.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, wherever you are!

May it be meaningful and merry and wrapped in love!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How To Build A Southern Snowman

For years my mom would get an annual Southern Living Christmas idea book ~ did anyone else grow up with those hardback books around their house?  I remember her setting up the card table in our family room, making homemade gifts and decorations late into the night using ideas she got from those books.  One year when I was in middle school we found an idea to make cookies that looked like a piano keyboard...I have played the piano since I can remember, and upon seeing the photo wanted to give them to my music teachers.  I remember her helping me make those cookies.

I now have a few of those old books and like to browse them when Christmastime rolls around.  The other day I was looking at the 2003 edition and saw an idea I remembered seeing years ago.  It was to make a "Southern Snowman" using grapevine wreaths.  My husband helped me put it together on the stoop outside our front door, and this snowman is just too cute!

Jimmy wired the three grapevine wreaths together and hung the snowman on the house.  I threw one of my scarves on him, set out an old pair of rubber fireman boots from Trevor's preschool days that I couldn't bear to part with, and cut a hat out of chalkboard crafting paper.

And just like that we had built a snowman, right down here in the South!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Simple Thanksgiving

Together, we gathered and gave thanks.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name; 
Make known His deeds among the peoples!

Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!

Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!

Psalm 105:1-3

It was a simple, relaxing Thanksgiving this year - from the quiet, cold morning to the gorgeous, outdoor afternoon to the chilly, fireside night.

I have so much to be thankful for.  A Savior, Jesus, who gives me peace and hope and joy in a chaotic world; a husband who is my dearest and best and most faithful friend; children who add sparkle to our world and who are growing in their faith; a family who lovingly shares life with us; a small but sweet, supportive circle of friends; a caring church family and the freedom to worship; a cozy, comfortable home full of love; provision after provision; blessing upon blessing; gift after gift; grace upon grace.

Even the difficult things are reason to give thanks when I really stop to consider.  Yes, there have been circumstances that have been challenging and people who have been hurtful and personal failures and painful moments.  No, I wouldn't choose every trial, but I must acknowledge that they draw me closer to the heart of God and make me passionate for truth and driven to seek God's wisdom.  They make me stronger and more resolute in my relationship with Christ and with Christ-following friends.  They make me long for Heaven.  And I have full assurance of my home in Heaven, which alone is such a reason for gratitude.  Hope eternal.  Peace everlasting.  Glory awaiting!

Yes, we gave thanks on a beautiful November day.

And still we give thanks. Our hearts seek the Lord, and we rejoice!

Caramel Apple Dip

The weekend before Thanksgiving I made a simple Caramel Apple Dip for a church gathering and it was such a yummy treat to share with friends and family that I wanted to share it with you, in case you want to include it in your holiday gatherings!  I made this dip in a cozy pie plate and served it with gingersnaps and apple slices.

Caramel Apple Dip

2 eight oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
12 oz. jar caramel ice cream topping
3/4 - 1 cup chopped peanuts

Mix cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla with mixer until blended.  Spread into 9 inch round pan (I used pie plate).  Spread caramel topping over top.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts over caramel.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.  

This dip is sweet with a touch of salty, and excellent with gingersnaps 
and apple slices!