Christmas Stories

I love reading Christmas stories. First, the Bible account of the birth of Jesus in Luke.

Then I like to read my favorite blogs to see what they have to share.

You’ll need tissues for this one. Well, I did anyway. I read it to my sister on the cell phone and cried then too.

Here’s one I found in my archives. Hope it touches you like it does me.

~~~~~~~ *** ~~~~~~~

A Country Christmas

“Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned that the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible. Instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house.

Something was up, but I didn’t know what. Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.”

The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on. After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. “Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?” “You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I’d been by, but so what? “I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.”

That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. “What’s in the little sack?” I asked. “Shoes, they’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.” We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence.

I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?” “Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?”

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp. “We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out. “We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said. He turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.”

I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people. I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you.

The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.” In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it. Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes. Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn’t want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We’ll be by to get you about eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles. I don’t have to say, May the Lord bless you; I know for certain that He will.” Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do.

Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.” I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensen’s, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.”

~~~~~~~ *** ~~~~~~~

Tonight I made a huge stockpot of chicken vegetable soup. Perfect for this cold weather. We’re watching “Christmas Miracle” and enjoying some rest on the sofa. I find it very difficult to sit and rest. I keep thinking of all that needs to be done. Make gift tags, wrap gifts, mail gifts, watch more Christmas movies, pray for snow, thank God for His wonderful gift, Yeshua!

I have one more work day and then I’m off for 9 days. Yippee!

Y’all have a very Merry Christmas, and I pray God’s blessings for you and your family now and in the New Year.

Love,

Karen

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Christmas Is Coming!

What happened to the past 2 weeks? It whizzed by so fast that I didn’t get to take a breath, hardly. Then yesterday I took sick. Cold. Flu. I don’t know. I haven’t been sick like this in 13 years. I did finally break the fever sometime this morning. Feeling a lot better. Just a little weak. I doubled up on my vitamin C and I’m drinking orange juice and taking SuperFood. I’ll get well pretty quickly. This isn’t the time of year to be sick.

I still have some Christmas shopping to do. Gotta decorate the tree, which is sitting in the living room, bare naked. Haven’t even brought in the decorating totes from the shed yet. I’ve been having trouble getting in the Christmas spirit. Once I open up a couple of my decorating totes, I’ll get the Christmas spirit. I’ve been making some gifts. I found this Inn Keepers Key idea on Pinterest and I’m making some for family. I have the supplies to make the Message in a Bottle and the Snowflake Gift Tags and Jingle Bell frame.

Last year I made a mason jar Winter scene. Something similar here.

Christmas snow globe   Christmas snow globe 02

And here are some pics from 1959. Yes, me and family.

1959 Christmas 01

1959 Christmas 02

1959 Christmas 03

1959 Christmas 04

This was back in the day when we put the tree up about a week before Christmas, instead of a month before.  Most everyone put tinsel on their tree. We thought it was beautiful. And most everyone had “real” trees. I guess the fake trees became popular later on.

Christmas memory: We went to my aunt and uncle’s for their Christmas party. Their tree had plastic glow-in-the-dark icicles. They turned the lights out so we could enjoy the pretty icicles.

Are you enjoying your holiday festivities? I sure hope you take time to really enjoy your family and friends. Don’t spend all your time being busy, busy, busy, ok?

Love,

Karen

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Wonderful, Slow, Joyful Saturday

I have been really enjoying this day. A wonderful, slow, joyful Saturday.

Been doing some baking for our church Thanksgiving lunch which is tomorrow.

I committed to making a Hershey cake and a casserole. I love this hash brown casserole. My dear friend, Anna, suggested it to me. The recipe is on the back of the Simply Potatoes shredded hash browns package, found in the dairy. I doubled the recipe for our gathering.

Decided I’d put a Christmas movie in while I work. I might not watch it all, but I can listen to it.

It’s “A Grandpa for Christmas”. You can click on the box and see it. Having trouble with getting this link to show the picture.

I started off by making the Hershey cake. I couldn’t figure out why it took 1 hour 45 minutes to bake. The last time I made this cake, I had the same issue. I finally figured it out. I used an aluminum baking pan. When I make this cake for us here at home, I use a 9×13 heavy ceramic pan or one of those dark coated pans, sometimes a Bundt pan, and it cooks in about an hour.

cake & icing recipes

I’ve been baking this cake for most of my adult life and never had this problem, until last year when I made the cake in the same type of thin aluminum (throw-away) pan. Anyway, I finally got it baked.

Restart the same movie, watch listen to it again.

Then I baked the casserole, which is now cooling in the kitchen.

casserole out of oven   casserole cooling on trivets

Which I put on these trivets to cool before I put them in the fridge for the night.

autumn trivets on counter

Some refreshment while working in the kitchen. See what’s standing in the background? A couple of pilgrims.

Pilgrim figurines & Dr Pepper

I had to go out to get some sour cream for the casserole. Forgot that I was going to double the recipe and I didn’t buy enough sour cream. I did a little bit of shopping while I was out. Another few gifts. Purchased some more crafting supplies to finish up some small Christmas projects, which I found on Pinterest here and here.

I decided to put in a different movie.

I also had to put the icing on the cake. Had powder sugar all over the counter, and on my cell phone.

left-over icing  banana dipped in chocolate icing

Did some taste testing, after I finished icing the cake. Does that look disgusting to you? It actually tasted pretty good. First time I ever tried a chocolate dipped banana.

I so enjoyed my day today.

Think I’ll finish up with a bowl of ice cream and a hot cocoa. Yeah, that sounds perfect.

Hope you’re enjoying the festivities of getting ready for Thanksgiving. Remember, enjoy the wonder and the joy of the holidays. It’s about cherishing family and friends and the gifts that God has given us. Give Him the Glory and praise for all that He has done!

Love,

Karen

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When We Were Kids

When we were kids…

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags; of course, they built cars better back then.

Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

Our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day.  No cell phones.

We played dodge ball and sometimes the ball would really hurt.

We got cut and broke bones and broke teeth, and there were no law suits from these accidents. They were accidents. Remember accidents?

We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank sugar soda but we were never overweight…we were always outside playing. We shared one grape soda with four friends, from one bottle and no one died from this.

We did not have Play stations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, video games at all, 99 channels on cable, video tape movies, surround sound, personal cell phones, Personal Computers, internet chat rooms…we had friends. We went outside and found them. We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s home and knocked on the door, or rung the bell or just walked in and talked to them.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live inside us forever.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. It didn’t cripple our psyche or stop us from trying again next time. Some students weren’t as smart as others or they didn’t apply themselves at their studies and homework so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade. Tests were not adjusted for any reason.

Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. There was no one to hide behind. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

Those were the good ole days, right? Too bad we can’t turn this generation of kids back to those good ole days. They would be a lot better off. They would be happier. They would become responsible, well adjusted adults. They would be a credit to society. They would have respect for others and others’ property. They would be genuinely concerned about the needs of their neighbors and friends. They would value LIFE.

It’s something to think about.

Karen

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Giving Thanks Framed List

2014 Gratitude List

I’ve been working on another project for a couple of days now. This is my framed list of just some of the things in my life for which I’m grateful. I’m sure I’ll think of many more that I can put on a new list for next year, the Lord willing. I think I’ll make this a new tradition – write a gratitude list every autumn, for our Thanksgiving celebration.

Giving Thanks List

Giving Thanks List closeup

Giving Thanks detail

Giving Thanks

I drew pencil lines on the paper so I could write in a straight line. I used beige paper because I thought white would be glaring in the frame that I picked out (Walmart). I used a brown ink pen to write the list. When I finished writing the list, I let the ink dry completely and then I erased the pencil lines.

I bought a large tip orange marker because I wanted to be able to read through the words on the glass. I printed the words “Giving Thanks” in the font that I liked best from my computer and sized it to the largest size, and laid the paper behind the glass so I could trace the words on top of the glass with the orange marker. I don’t have the prettiest hand writing so I cheated on that, though I did hand print the list. I wanted to have something in my own printing because I think that adds to the charm of a project like this. I could have printed it on the computer but I liked the hand printing better.

Lastly, I tied a sheer bow around the frame with a coordinating ribbon. I thought about an orange or brown sheer ribbon but I think the beige sheer worked best.

And, of course, I found this project on, you guessed it, Pinterest. I am so grateful for God’s blessings. He is so good to us.

1 Chronicles 16:8 Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.

Psalm 7:17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.

Gotta go. More projects to organize. Talk to ya later!

Karen

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A Quick Fall Project

I found a quick fall project that took just a few minutes to put together.

I plugged in the glue gun so it would heat up while I gathered my supplies.

A glass container that I already had in the pantry.

Some pine cones and acorns.

A reel of fall ribbon from another project.

A silk leaf.

A pair of scarecrow figurines.

glass container of pine cones 02

glass container of pine cones 01

fall ribbon

pine cone container decorated 01

pine cone container beside fall figurines

And there I have another fall decoration for my kitchen counter.

I do love fall. And today it actually felt like fall, 60 degrees. I got to wear a sweatshirt jacket. And now I am going to fix myself a hot apple cider and sit down with a book to enjoy the rest of this Saturday evening.

I just want to share with you that God is so very good. We prayed in church last Wednesday for my brother to get a job. Well, we’ve been praying for awhile. Not only did he get a job but his wife and their son also got jobs. God does answer prayers. Especially when you pray in faith.

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be thou removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever  things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.  Mark 11:22-24 NKJV

If you are going through some tough times, take it to the Lord and trust Him. He loves you and cares deeply for you. Have faith in God, just like Jesus said.

Praise the Lord! We are so thankful for their jobs.

Hope you all are enjoying this wonderful autumn. I sure am.

Love,

Karen

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A Quick Hello & Promised Pics

This is just a quick hello. I promised some pictures of a project that I was working on. I found this on Pinterest and adapted it to suit myself. We all do that, right? I do it with recipes too. Anyway…

Burlap fabric cut to size
ribbon in autumn colors
leaf cut-outs
pinecone jewelry trinket
sheer ribbon for bow
tags to write words on
orange sharpie
list of Thanksgiving words

glue gun

silverware pocket supplies

silverware pocket

silverware pocket close-up

silverware pocket close-up 02

silverware pocket 02

This is one of my autumn bucket list items, to make these silverware pockets for our Thanksgiving celebration. One down, 11 more to go. That is, 11 more pockets to make. Lots more autumn bucket list things to do yet.

I’ve never written a bucket list before. I always thought a bucket list is a list of things that you know you are going to do, eventually. Not the same as a wish list where you may or may not achieve the list. But a list that you fully intend to do. So I made an autumn bucket list because I intend to do the things on my list. I might or might not get them all done but it’s a list that I can  accomplish, if I can make the time for them. And I want  to do them all.

The past 6 months I have been even busier at my job and I want to start making time to do some things that are enjoyable. I love the fall and I’d like to have some restful time to do some fun things, get my mind off of work. Learn to enjoy life again.

Maybe next time I’ll share my autumn bucket list with you. Have you ever written a bucket list?

Tonight is the second of a tetrad (4) of eclipses (solar and lunar) that are blood moons. One in the spring and the fall of this year and next year, all on Jewish feast days, Passover and Tabernacles. The 2015 fall blood moon is supposed to be a Super Moon and Israel will be able to see it clearly over Jerusalem. You can check it out on the NASA site. I recommend this book to read more.

That’s another bucket list thing, take a picture of the blood moon.

So, I need to get to bed. The blood moon is early in the morning. Talk to y’all later.

Karen

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Autumn is Officially Here!

Autumn! My most favorite season is officially here. It might not feel like it yet but it soon will.

Weather Bug says that the highs will be the upper 80′s in the next 10 days. That’s way better than the upper 90′s. I so envy all of you who live in northern climates. I have to use my imagination for what it’s like in your area now. All my favorite colors of leaves falling. Temps in the 70′s and 60′s and even 50′s. Sweaters and boots weather, right?

Time for hot cocoa and hot apple cider.

And time to bring out the autumn decorations.

I’ve been bringing mine out, a few here and there.

orange bead pumpkin

Count Your Many Blessings framed print

pumpkin and fox

pumpkins, owl, fox

I think I have as much autumn and Thanksgiving decorations as I do Christmas. I keep the breakables in the house and the rest out in the shed. I should ask my sweet husband to bring in the orange totes from the shed so I can put out some more pretty’s over the next few weeks. Tomorrow. He’s been working hard this weekend at tidying up the garage.

Not all of my autumn stuff is house décor. Sometimes it’s edible décor.

fall cookies

Fall cookies and owl trivet

That’s another thing I enjoy about autumn. The comfort foods and drinks. I love hot cocoa with a bit of instant coffee and Redi Whip. And I am partial to vanilla latte with a caramel drizzle. And homemade soups. Do you like comfort foods and drinks too?

I’m working on making some things for our Thanksgiving celebration. Silverware envelopes (I don’t really know what else to call them), my own version, and dinner napkins. Just a bit of sewing, nothing too hard. I’ll show you when I get them done.

I love dragging out the autumn lap quilts too.

We’re having a family get together this year. One of my sisters and her husband and son will be joining Mom and husband and myself. My brother might also be there with his wife and son and possibly grandson. We’ll have fun down at Mom’s. She lives in the country with lots of trees. It’s so peaceful and quiet there. It does my soul good to get away from the city to peace and quiet and family.

Almost every year since I left home to go off on my own, I’ve gone home to Mom’s for Thanksgiving. Mom bakes the best turkey and dressing. I love Thanksgiving at Mom’s. We spend hours preparing the meal, talking and laughing, and playing cards or dominoes. Sometimes walking around the property, shuffling in the leaves, enjoying the cool, and sometimes sitting on her big covered front porch just visiting and talking about Christmas coming.

Can you tell, this is my FAVORITE  time of the year. There’s just 67 days til Thanksgiving and I’m going to savor every waking hour of every day till we get there.

September 22, 2014 is the first day of autumn!!! Yay, it’s here!

Y’all have a blessed and wonderful week!

Love ya,

Karen

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