The greatest gift

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Here is a gift that lasts all year:

tumblr_mybmqybR0U1ron0poo1_500May your 2014 be filled with safety, prosperity and the peace of knowing that God is in control!

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Mary did you know?

I’m just going to leave this right here on Christmas Eve to help us remember Who it is we remember during this celebration and the Reason for the Season.

Christmas Eve traditions

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Our family is weird.

But tradition is tradition and when you live with autism, you cling to a tradition that works like Velcro.

Here’s what we’re doing today (although, I admit I’m limited today due to my surgery recovery):

  • Frantically cleaning every corner and wrapping every forgotten gift we can find.
  • I usually cook all day but that won’t happen this year. So I’m going to be directing traffic in the kitchen.
  • The grandchildren will be here so it will be great fun watching them lick the bowls and decorate the cookies. I put out nativity scenes that are made for little hands and I love watching them play with them.
  • Around 4:00 PM, everyone cleans up, dresses up fancy, and gets ready to go to the church Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 5 PM.

Origin-Christmas-candleAnd here’s where it gets weird.

  • After the service we go to Pizza Hut.

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Yeah. I know. Not very dignified are we?

But this has been the tradition in this wee little town since we moved here 14 years ago. We discovered that Pizza Hut is rather empty on Christmas Eve and with two boys with autism, the peace there was perfect. We could feed the kids and grandkids to the gills and enjoy one another’s company. Sometimes if someone shows up to the Christmas Eve service with nowhere to go afterward, we invite them along.

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Three of my seven granddaughters: Trinity Grace, Maggie Ellen Faith, Avery Hope

After we get home it’s time to open gifts from out-of-town relatives and friends, and the grandchildren open gifts from us before they go home. There are tons of cookies, egg nog, and other goodies to enjoy before sending them home to their own beds so they can wake up for their own family Christmases.

Do you have a strange family Christmas tradition you enjoy? I’d love to know about it!

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Autism, Christmas and Miracles

 

tumblr_my4e9nQE6g1r1vjs5o1_500Source: Facebook

I am home from the hospital recovering from surgery and I am not a very good patient. I whine, cry, moan and throw little fits.

In my defense, I am allergic to most pain medications. They make me so nauseous and dizzy I simply can’t take them. I’ve been dealing with recovering from a major surgery while on Tylenol. So, I think it’s safe to say others in my shoes may be as whiny as I. Or not.

On Saturday I was particularly blue. Very discouraged. Tired of feeling so badly. I was crying a lot. So Mr. Himself thought it was a good time to cheer me up with the gift the twins made for me at vocational school. Isn’t it gorgeous?

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It’s made from 100-year-old barn wood.

I never dreamed my boys would be able to do such a thing. Of course, they had a lot of help and guidance from their shop teacher, but still. This table is an enormous symbol.

  • A symbol of how far they’ve come
  • A symbol of how much favor they find with teachers
  • A symbol of their undying, loyal, faithful love for family
  • A symbol of taking something scarred and making it beautiful.

This table will never leave me. Until the day I die, this is my Christmas table.

Young moms with autism out there — never stop hoping and dreaming. The twins have gone from severe to mild with a ton of work and a lot of help from others.

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At vocational school. Isaac (L), Isaiah (R)

I am very grateful to the Lord for these beautiful boys. So very grateful to be their Mom.

 

 

 

 

My favorite Christmas pageant

When I was in my early twenties, my church asked me to sing “O Holy Night” while the children dressed as shepherds, kings, Mary and Joseph, took their places on the stage for the live nativity scene.

The live nativity scene included a little lamb.

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A very vocal little lamb.

That loved to sing.

(Turn the video above way up and you might get an idea of what a singing lamb sounds like.)

In those days, I was a very serious music student at Wichita State University. Music for me at that time was no laughing matter. I took every note to heart.

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Apparently, so did the little lamb. Because every time I hit a high note–so did she.

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We sang a duet while the congregation did their very best not to laugh. But you know how it goes with laughing. The harder you try not to, the more you bust a gut.

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Because I was, you know, a very serious singer, I was at first annoyed with the lamb’s audacity. But then, I thought, how appropriate, really. I mean, when the angels announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds, I imagine the singing was loud enough to wake every little lamb from their slumber.

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So, if God’s angels could be accompanied by a precious little lamb, I was honored that God would see fit to give the congregation a taste of that first proclamation even if I was the butt, er, lamb chop of the joke.

We often have idyllic notions of how things went that night. But the fact is, it probably was just as messy and imperfect as any church Christmas pageant.

At least I like to think it might have been.

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Luke 2:8-14:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

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Happy vintage Christmas!

Vintage-Christmas-Label-GraphicsFairy-1024x593I love all things vintage. I can’t help it. I was raised around my grandmother’s antiques and to this day I love looking at pictures of them and seeing them when I manage to make it to my parents’ house ever few years.

So I’ve included some of my favorite vintage free use images I’ve found around the web. You can make great gifts with these! Gift tags, cards, decoupage — the ideas are endless!

Which ones are your favorite?

I’m partial to the green Santas, the bunnies and the pugs ringing the bells. Birds, too. Anything with birds I’m all in it. Oh, and the foxes sledding. What a hoot.

But I have to be honest. I think the snowmen are a little creepy. What say you? (Tweet this.)

(Sorry for having to scroll so far down but I don’t yet know how to insert pics side by side into WordPress. Tom Threadgill hasn’t tutored me in that yet.)

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The war on Christmas giveaway!

I’m very excited to be part of the #waronchristmas book blog tour. The War on Christmas by Bodie Hodge is an excellent resource book for every  Christian Sunday School teacher, pastor, and parent.

The two chapters I’m assigned to review are Chapter 6: “Timeline of Events Surrounding Christ’s Birth” and Chapter 7: “Making the Christmas Sermon Relevant for Today’s Culture.”

These were great chapters for me to have since I’m a historian and a pastor (and a pastor’s wife). I slurped them up with great enthusiasm and will be keeping this book among my collection of Christmas books. I know I’ll be reaching for it often as I teach all ages about this wonderful story of Christ.

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In Chapter 6, we travel back through time to immediately after Jesus’ birth. We stop at circa 4 B.C., eight days, 41 days after the birth,  and the time during Christ’s first year of life on earth to early 3 B.C. There is a brief discussion of the magi and Christ’s family returning to Bethlehem from Egypt after King Herod’s death. These little tidbits of trivia are great for including in your next advent presentation.

In Chapter 7, the writer encourages pastors and teachers to share the message of Christ via the story of Genesis, the fallen state of man, and the issues of sin and death. Today’s culture touts a faulty view of God. If those listening will hear that God is the maker of all things good (he did not declare sin to be good or part of his creation), it would help them develop an accurate picture of God and one very different from the world’s secular view of Him.

The foundation of the birth of Christ is found in Genesis. From Genesis 3:15 God had a plan to reconcile us to Him. In Genesis 26:4, Christ is a descendant of Jacob. It is in Genesis that the Christmas season begins.

The author of this book believes that people don’t listen to the Good News because they don’t understand the bad news. If people know why they need Jesus, they will understand their need for Him.

What do you  think of his point of view? Leave a comment below and I’ll enter your name in a drawing to win your very own copy of The War on Christmas: Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression plus a free t-shirt! Giveaway ends December 10.

T is for Truce in the Trenches

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Imagine being in a war zone trench, just feet away from the enemy’s on Christmas Eve.

Such a thing occurred on December 24, 1914 when carols were sung between the British and German soldiers.

Perhaps it sounded something like this:

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu[N 1] sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!
They are green when summer days are bright,
They are green when winter snow is white.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!

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At sunrise on Christmas Day, unarmed German soldiers approached the British calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the British and allied soldiers feared being tricked, but eventually climbed out of their trenches and exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs.

This short cease fire also allowed both sides to retrieve the bodies of fellow combatants.

Sadly, this was the last example of chivalry between enemies. The gesture was never repeated again.

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British and German troops meeting in no man’s land during the unofficial truce (British troops from the Northumberland Hussars, 7th Division, Bridoux-Rouge Banc Sector)

Is there someone you need to call a truce with? As Christians, we are to love our enemies. All year ’round. Not just at Christmas. But if you’re human, there are probably a few prickly people in your life you may need to extend some grace to. Why not make it a goal to call a truce with these people at Christmas?

Who knows? You just might make history with your gesture of love.


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.



Christmas widgets!

I love widgets. Yes, I know, they are kind of tacky sometimes. But isn’t it fun to be a little tacky and little lampoon-Christmas-lights-crazy at this time of year?

Here are some fun Christmas goodies for your online celebrations. The hard part is picking only one!

Enjoy!

Christmas countdown widget (if someone knows how to help me make this smaller, please let us know in the comments below. I did put smaller dimensions in the code but it’s not transferring, thanks!):

How about your blog’s own Christmas tree?

Another countdown theme:

Here, have a yule log:ku-xlarge

Or another Christmas widget:

If you love pets and especially cats, you will want to check out this adorable site where a kitty teaches you how to set up and maintain your Christmas tree (Lilybits will love this one!):

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Another adorable countdown:

Days until Christmas: