I Do Love Winter

I DO love winter. I can say that because we generally don’t get much of a “real” winter down here in this part of Texas. The crazy thing is, we’ve had some very warm days (turn on the air conditioner) and some cold nights (down in the 30’s and turn the heater back on). That part I don’t like, but it is what it is.

I envy Vee having winter where she lives, though I do remember that when my family moved to Illinois when I was a teenager, a few years ago, okay a long time ago, winter eventually did get boring. Gray, ugly snow for 4 months. Stuck in the house playing cards and board games because it was too cold to go outside. Cold and more cold. 60 below wind chill factor, I kid you not, when the wind blew so hard.

Still, I love winter. Our winter.

Making potato soup or chili.

Drinking hot cocoa. For the first time ever I actually put a few bunch of mini marshmallows in my cup the other day. It was so good. I’ll have to keep stocked up on the marshmallows.

cocoa canister and hot cocoa mug

I like drinking hot apple cider too.

Now, if I could have a fireplace, I would seriously consider moving up there close to Vee. Or somewhere in Kentucky or Tennessee. Maybe Ohio. Anywhere that’s not suffering the drought like we are down here. Yeah, I’m still dreaming. And praying.

My favorite season is autumn. I wish I could find a place that would be autumn much longer than we have it. But since autumn is gone for this year, I’m going to enjoy our mild winter, as if it were still autumn.

Maybe this will be the year that we can sell the house and move a little farther north and east.

Husband shocked me this past weekend. He said to me, “What if we move to Australia?” What brought that up? Don’t want to talk about it. It’s what’s going on here in America in our government, and the fact that the U.S. has abandoned her God. But seriously, it’s going on worldwide. It’s the times we’re living in. I say, God is still on His throne and none of this stuff is a surprise to Him. He will take care of His own and He promised never to leave us or forsake us.

So, let’s just move to a place that is not in a drought. We’ll keep drawing close to God and love Him more and more, and love our neighbors the way God told us to.

I gotta get off this computer and unwind for the night.

Y’all take care and keep warm. Enjoy the winter. It’ll be gone before you know it.

Karen

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Daddy’s Empty Chair

From my stories archives. Just a short story. It’s a story about praying. If you don’t know how to pray, this is a good suggestion.

~~~~~oOo~~~~~

A man’s daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father.

When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said. “No, who are you?” said the father. The minister told him his name and then remarked, “I saw the empty chair and I figured you knew I was going to show up.”

“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man.

“Would you mind closing the door?” Puzzled, the minister shut the door. “I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day four years ago, my best friend said to me, Johnny, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus.”

“Here is what I suggest. Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I will be with you always.’ Then just speak to him in the same way you’re doing with me right now.”

So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.

The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church. Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon.

“Did he die in peace?” he asked.

“Yes, when I left the house about two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?”

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, “I wish we could all go like that.”

~~~~~oOo~~~~~

After all, prayer is simply a conversation between you and God. You don’t have to use a special voice or talk loud or close your eyes or sit a certain way. And you don’t have to wait until you’re in church. You can talk with God anytime and any place. You can talk out loud or talk to him in your thoughts or whisper your prayers, or talk in sign language. He will hear you, whatever method you use. The important thing is TO PRAY and pray often!

Heavenly Father wants you to spend time with Him. Not only with your petitions, but to talk about whatever else you want to talk about. Start with giving thanks for your blessings.

Thank you Lord God for the beautiful day today. The weather was a perfect 65 degrees and the sunshine was wonderful. Thank you for the food I ate today and water to drink. Thank you for my family. Thank you for my friends. Thank you for keeping me safe from harm. Thank you for my health. Thank you for my eyesight and my hearing. Thank you for keeping me company today and for leading me in the right way I should go.

Thank you for helping me at my job. Thank you for protecting me in my car. Thank you for allowing me to see that little boy riding his bicycle who was having such a good time and smiling all the way up the street. Thank you for the birds. Thank you for my pets. Thank you for the heating in our home this winter and the air conditioner in the summer.

Father, I have a friend who is going through a rough time with her health. Please help her.

Father, a family at church is having financial problems and the husband needs a job. Help them please. Go before them and make a way for them to have their needs met and make them flourish and prosper.

Talking with God is health to my spirit and soul and body. I’m thankful that I can talk directly to Him and He listens and He cares about everything that I am concerned with. He loves me (and you) and I’m blessed by that.

Karen

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Alter The Recipe

You can do that, ya know, alter the recipe. I was in the mood for the cheesy hashbrown casserole. But I had a little problem. No hashbrowns in the fridge.

So I thought, ok, I’ll use frozen and just thaw them in some water, and drain and dry them.

No hashbrowns in the freezer either.

Didn’t want to go out to the store, again.

I had some large baking potatoes. So I diced them up and proceeded with the recipe.

Salt and pepper to taste. I like to use Celtic Sea Salt.

Chopped onion.

Sour cream. I used what I had left from a small 8oz container, probably 6 ounces.

A can of cream of mushroom & chicken soup. You could use just cream of chicken but there again, I had to use the cream of mushroom & chicken another time that I made this and we actually liked it better so I’m sticking with that.

What I had left of a package of Borden shredded cheddar melt cheese and a package of Sargento shredded 6 cheese Italian. I didn’t really do any measuring, just dumped in what I had left over in the fridge. But if you like to measure…

The original recipe can be found here.

I wish you could smell the aroma coming from my kitchen. So yummy. Did I mention I put a meatloaf in the oven first?

I made the meatloaf using this recipe that is for meatballs. Only difference is that I added a heaping tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal and a 1/4 cup tomato puree into the mix and then when the loaf was almost done, I spread some more puree on top and finished baking it.

There’s the timer for the meatloaf now. I’ll take it out and let the casserole bake another 15 minutes and supper will be finished.

I usually have a couple of fresh vegetables but I’m cutting back today because of time constraints. I have a couple of things I want to get done, and some reading, so no time to prepare vegetables. I’m reading a couple of books. The Circle Maker and My Utmost For His Highest.

   

Ok, now the timer for the casserole is going off so…

It’s supper time. If I can get hubby to come in from the garage. It’s so nice out today that he wanted to putter around out there. I’ll talk with y’all later.

Karen

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A Serious Conversation

Seeing all that is going on in the nation and in the rest of the world, Islamic jihad, ISIS, etc, I have been under some stress, as I’m sure some of you might be too.

It’s very difficult to not be nervous about what we read and hear in the news. We know that there have been beheadings and torture and killing of Christians in Muslim countries and now we hear of it happening in Europe and in America too, and nobody is stopping it, surely not our liberal, ungodly government.

After all, we have a president who is Muslim and he supports the Islamic Brotherhood. He allows immigration of millions of Muslims here to America. America takes in more Muslims than any other country in the world. These are the very people who hate Americans and plan to destroy America. Remember Nine-One-One? The twin towers and the pentagon and the airplanes? The terrorists (who were Muslims)?

We Christians know we are in the last days and persecution of Christians is going to escalate. So…

I had a serious conversation with my husband.

Dear, if it should happen that we are captured by the enemy (be it our own government or the Islamic militants) and told we must deny Jesus and convert to Islam or be killed, do not deny Jesus.

Even if they make you watch as they torture me or behead me, do NOT deny Jesus!

Do NOT deny Jesus to try to bargain for my life, to try to save me. DON’T ever deny Jesus.

I have to tell you with all the love in my heart that I have for you, I will never deny Jesus, even for you. I love you so much dearest, but I can’t deny the Lord of my life. And I don’t want you to either.

If they torture and kill us, it will be over quickly and then we’ll be in heaven forever with our Lord.

Remember, He gave His life for us, to save us so that we could be with Him forever and ever.

If we give in and deny Jesus, He will deny us before our Father in heaven, and we will spend eternity separated from Him. We will spend eternity in hell.

Think about what that means. We have to remember all the wonderful life in heaven we would forfeit if we deny Jesus, just to save ourselves from being tortured and killed here on this earth.

We won’t get to see our Heavenly Father. We won’t get to live with Jesus. We won’t get to see our family. We won’t get to meet the Bible saints. We won’t get to see heaven and the streets of gold.

So, we are agreed, we will NOT ever deny our precious Jesus, not for any reason.

Yes, we’re agreed.

I hope we won’t have to experience these atrocities, but since we don’t know for sure when the rapture will happen; pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, post-tribulation, we have to have this conversation now so that we will be decided about what we will do and what we won’t do, if the dreaded enemy comes for us.

Love you, dearest hubby!

Karen

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Sharing With You

This n That

I have not wanted to let go of the holidays this year. I only just got my decorations taken down this weekend. Well, most of them. Some of the red candles are still sitting around. Like I said, I don’t want to let it go.

I’m trying to get my mind on other things. Like organizing. I guess that’s the season we’re in now.

I bought some plastic totes. I’m working on making folders for my sewing and crafts printouts. Project ideas I want to tackle – someday.

And then there’s all the project ideas I had printed off last year for Autumn and for Christmas that I need to file. I didn’t get all of them made and I decided that I can work on a couple of them through the year, while I’m sitting in front of the TV.

Also, I’ve collected clippings from magazines for my “Dream House” that I need to file; kitchen, bath, fireplaces, floorings, decorating, design. I guess there are about 25 years worth. And most recently, ideas from Pinterest. It’ll give me the opportunity to throw out the ones that I’m no longer interested in. Our tastes change over the years. I like different colors now than I did in my 30’s and 40’s.

Something I’ve never done was make New Year’s resolutions. But I am working on something different this year. The Bible says that without vision the people perish. When we pray and believe God for needs and wants, we should be specific, so that when our prayers are answered, we can give the glory to the Lord for His answers. If we pray general prayers, how do we know if He answers them? So, I am working on a vision, a direction to put my life towards. Husband and I agreed that we would ask ourselves, where do we want to go from here, so that when we pray, we can be specific.

So while I finish making folders and work on my vision, maybe you will take a look at some links that I’ve gathered over the past few months. You might find something of interest.

Trees really are pleasant to the sight.

Make a household binder to get things organized.

Some great t-shirts and sweatshirts.

How to make a probiotic detoxifying deodorant.

Learn to do some pin weaving.

Build a flagstone patio.

Do some paper stitching.

A beautiful story about aprons. I’m going to make myself several and wear them.

A delicious vegetable tian dish.

Four prayers that can change a life forever.

10 ways to earn money from home.

Those will do you for a bit.

I hope and pray that your new year has started off great.

Love,

Karen

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Gift Wrap Pictures as Promised

This will be a short post.

I said I’d show you my pictures of the cards that I put on my gifts to show you how I embellished them. I only got 3 of them finished. Husband took over my wrapping station so I’ll have to finish my wrapping tomorrow, while I’m baking. Here they are.

gift wrap 3

gift wrap 2

gift wrap 1

Remember I told you that I printed the pictures (one, two, three) off of Pinterest onto cardstock. Then I mounted the cardstock onto colored scrapbook papers. I had  a whole bunch of stickers saved up and used some of them to embellish my pictures. My friend Anna thought they were Christmas cards. That’s a great idea for next year. I always have left-over Christmas cards so I might just do that next year.

Y’all have a very enjoyable blessed Christmas! Remember the best gift that we have ever received was when Yeshua came to earth as a baby so that He could save us. Thank You Lord!

Love,

Karen

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Still Getting Ready for Christmas

Saturday we had a “gathering” with sister and her family. They will be going to Oklahoma for Christmas so we did their Christmas at our house. I was still wrapping presents when they arrived. They came early, before husband got off work, because I asked them to come whenever they got ready to.

Mom, sis and I went to do some shopping before starting the cooking for the meal.

When husband got home from work, we ate and opened presents. It was so much fun.

Yesterday, I wrapped gifts for my dear friend, because we planned to meet today for lunch and some shopping and our gift exchange. I also wrapped the gifts that I planned to put in the mail today. Yeah, I’m a little late.

Tomorrow, I will wrap gifts for Mom, brother and his wife and son. I absolutely love to wrap gifts. Every year I change my theme or my color scheme. Sometimes I put elaborate bows on. Sometimes I use ornaments instead of bows.

This year I used an idea that I got from Pinterest.  I found some pictures on my Christmas and Winter Wonderland boards and embellished them. I used some ribbon to wrap around the boxes (no bows). I cut coordinating paper to mount each picture, which I printed on cardstock. Then I taped them on the top of the boxes. I embellished mine with some stickers. Some of snowflakes. Some of nutcracker men. I forgot to take pictures and they’re gone with their gift recipients. Nothing fancy, but I think they are pretty. I’ll add some pictures tomorrow after I wrap more presents to show you how I embellished the pictures.

I used a different ribbon for each person.

Christmas ribbons

I used some silver/gray paper (no photo) and snowflake paper and green pine cone/ pine needle paper.

snowflake paper

pinecone and pine needles paper

I admit, I used a few small gift bags for some little gifts.

And I gave out these gift bags, filled with the old fashioned soft peppermint sticks AND the Inn Keepers Key.

Inn Keepers Key

I’m really enjoying myself. I’m off work this week. WooHoo! I’m pretending that I don’t have to go back to work ever. And I’m praying for snow, for one day, Christmas. It’s a long shot, down here in central Texas. A really long shot, since it’s supposed to be in the mid 60’s. But I can pray and hope. :)

Y’all have a very Merry Christmas!

Love,

Karen

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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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