Friday, December 3, 2010

We're-Happy-To-See-You Gift

Constant use will not wear ragged the fabric of friendship.  ~Dorothy Parker

It has become a tradition in our family to take a few days -- with our friends, Mark and Eleanor -- to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Holidays.  Their daughters, Katie and Kayla, are Emily's best friends and we love being with Mark and Eleanor so it's a win/win situation.  The tradition was started to celebrate Katie's birthday.
Katie was married in October; she and her husband, Ivan, live in North Carolina.  Past years we have gone to Chicago, and since we weren't willing to give up Katie being along, was an easy pick to decide on Gatlinburg.  A 3-hour trip for them and 6 for us.

We rented a cabin that sleeps ten, complete with fireplace and game room.  We're having the best of times.  I wanted to take Katie a We're-happy-to-see-you gift.  My mother and I brainstormed and came up with baking-in-a-can.  It was fun getting it all together.  I found a youthful tin and matching Christmas tea towel. Gingerbread and sugar cookie mixes, peppermint crushed candy, holly sprinkles, cup cake picks and polka dot napkins...  with a fun Christmas spatula tied on top.  It made an adorable gift -- and giving gifts to Katie is so much fun becasuse she gets so excited about every little thing. 

Another idea for the tin: cookie cookbook (I wanted one but couldn't find one to fit in the tin).

I love giving gifts in a sort of random way --  without the celebration of specific holidays.  Do you know a newlywed who would love a baking tin?  What would you include? 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blessing Turnaround

In friendship's fragrant garden, there are flowers of every hue,
Each with its own fair beauty, and it's a gift of joy for you. ~Friendship's Garden

This past summer my husband, Shawn, who owns his own business, was asked to hire another worker. A young man, Nathaniel, who was just graduating from Bible College to become a pastor, planned to begin his internship at a local church.

Nathaniel would also be marrying this same summer and would be in need of housing. I was able to meet both him and his fiance, Annalisa, when they came to view an apartment Shawn had available for rent.

Months past. Then one evening at supper Shawn told me that since Annalisa had been a missionary kid
during her teen years she hadn't gotten a driver's license. When she applied after getting married,
thinking they would have a permit in hand soon, she discovered the law requires you wait 6 months for your permit.

So, that left Annalisa at home all day, alone, until her husband returned from work and took her to do whatever shopping needed to be done. A few weeks later I started to think that maybe I could help Annalisa.  I brought the idea up to Shawn and, of course, that is when he told me that was the main reason for him telling me Nathaniel and Annalisa's situation.

Thinking of helping Annalisa felt "right" -- like God had given me a way to bless someone.  Little did I know that blessing Annalisa would take a turn and start blessing me! Since I am eight months pregnant, it makes it nice to have someone help deposit groceries into the trunk if need be. Plus, I am so sick that it is hard for me to get out of the house, so knowing I'm scheduled to pick Annalisa up does help me get my shopping done. Plus, it's keeping our fridge and pantry stocked.

The Sewing of Friendship. WOW! Whether we have a garden full of friends or if we have a small cluster or maybe even one dear friend, we all started the process the same way.  In my case, I first planted the seed by calling Annalisa and asking her to join me on my grocery shopping run.

Second, I faithfully watered the seed by making our grocery shopping a weekly habit. Thirdly, I watched as the seed sprouted while we grew comfortable with each other (didn't take long) and now our friendship has blossomed into a beautiful relationship.

Are you happy with your friendship garden? Is it producing healthy friendships? Or do you feel as if the friendships are drooping and some are even dying? Go forth and plant a seed! I am sure it will encourage someone and, like it has me, will become a huge blessing for you.

P.S. This also includes my two younger children getting to be a part of helping someone. They are not bothered by the fact that we have a "tag-along" to the store - they actually get to go out more because of it. And oh, did I mention Annalisa has a dog? Now that makes her really special in their book!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tradition for the Grands

Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can't even describe, aren't even aware of.  ~Ellen Goodman

I can never think or say the word tradition without hearing the Fiddler on the Roof song, Tradition, Tradition!  So much of what we do is tradition--even if we don't recognize it as such.

Before Ethan, our oldest grandson, was born, I decided that I wanted a tree the grandbabies would love to see each year.  I love elegant trees, so I do have one in my bedroom that conveys the same.  But for the "big tree" I decided on a Nativity theme.  It's such fun to see the kids delight in each ornament on the tree.  They love to discuss the Christmas story, find the wise men, point out Baby Jesus and listen to the explanation of why a cross is on my Christmas tree.  

Some of the pieces have portions of the Christmas story inscribed on them.  This year Ethan will be able to read them all, and I'm really anticipating the joy of hearing him.

I seem to be unable to pass up a Nativity (I think Emily counted nine in the living room).  We have a small wooden manger a friend made for me and small porcelain figures just for the kids to move and play with.  I want them to enjoy all the Nativities as a way to emphasize how accessible Jesus is to them at all times.  They shake the big globe and turn on the music boxes as we read the books about the real reason for the season.

Yes, Shawn and Melanie have taught the childen the true meaning of the holiday, and it warms my heart to know they love to come to MawMaw's house to be intrigued by the myrid of Nativity scenes.  This year Ethan will quote the first part of Luke 2 with his class at the school Christmas program.  They won't be just words -- they will come from his head and his heart as the most treasured part of Christmas -- the birth of our Savior.

This post is linked to Twelve Crafts Till Chrismas: Traditions

Monday, November 29, 2010

All Wrapped Up

The best of all gifts under any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.  ~Burton Hills

Many of us are fully aware of the differences between men and women.  Take this scenario:  A man does not get excited about shopping for things he needs let alone just something extra and fun.  A woman does get excited about just the necessities, and anything above or beyond that is glorious.  Let's say you needed a shirt.  I am sure in the end you might have purchased the shirt, and possibly a matching skirt and beautiful shoes to complete the look.  And maybe a purse...  You see, women get wrapped up in every detail of what we are doing at that precise moment.

Melanie speaking at Woman of Worth
 Well, gifts tend to be the same.  Men seem to unwrap their gifts with little emotion and barely crack the teeniest smile when they finally reach the gift.  Now a woman, let's see...She comments  on how long the box might be, or possibly how cute and dainty the little square box appears.  Next, she exclaims how beautiful the wrapping paper is---"Better not tear it...ooh what a perfectly matched ribbon and bow, and look!  There's even an ornament attached to the top--I love it," she exclaims.  Have you noticed we haven't even made it to the actual present yet?  Yes, this scenario gives us a glimpse into the fact that women are different than men.  One man found out the hard way.  He shared his story: "I made a terrible mistake last Christmas.  My wife made me
promise that I wouldn't get her a fancy gift.  And I didn't."  Oops.

Now, I understand, not every woman is the same.  But what I am trying to point out, is, that no matter how many different types of women we have right here, we all enjoy something well thought out, crafted carefully, and displayed beautifully.

You might ask, "What if I enjoy looking at a beautifully wrapped gift, but have no desire to have more glitter on me when done wrapping than on my freshly wrapped gift?"  Or you just might not be as creative as your friend.  You feel like Leslie Grimutter who said, "Sometimes imagination pounces; but mostly it sleeps soundly in the corner, purring."  So what kind of ideas are out there for me?

Glad you asked!  I have some store-bought wrap that is more expensive and also some inexpensive -- who says beauty needs to cost a lot?  All you need is your mind.  Listen to what Dr. Seuss wrote in his book, Oh, the Things You Can Think.  "Think left and think right and think low and think high.  Oh, the thinks you can think if only you try!"

Do we need expensive wrapping?  Did Jesus come into the world with the whistles and the bells and trumpets announcing His arrival into this world?  No, He was lain in a lowly manger bed.  So simple, yet so elegantly planned and just right.

So you ask, Why go to all that bother?  Hang on.  God also enjoys beauty.  After all, He was the One who created the world and all that is in it.  Take this scene:  After Jesus was finished suffering for our sins on that cross, God chose to make a beautiful eye dazzling production--in the form of thunder and lightening.  Talk about catching your attention!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sheltering Your Spouse

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.  ~Emily Brontë

Way back in 1972 I had a friend who told me she didn't think I'd ever love anyone more than my daddy.  My daddy was (is!) my hero and I measured each boy (and at 15 they WERE boys) by the yardstick of Daddy.  I proved her wrong--I found RB.  I'm not sure if I fell in love with his keyboard excellence or him first.  I was 15 when we began our 3-year courtship, 18 when I walked the aisle as his bride.
Although I married a talented musician, an artsy guy, a make-you-laugh funny boy, a romantic gentleman, his character and integrity is what keeps me in love with him. RB is the spiritual leader in our home, and his attention to honesty, kindness and compassion is unbeatable.   He's hardworking, unselfish and intelligent.

I married RB thirty-five years ago (today, in fact!) and I would do it all over again.  God's Word tells us to "...take delight in honoring each other" (Romans 12:10, TLB). 

Here are three ways I honor RB:
  •  My mother gave me the best advice: Never criticize RB in the presence of others (emphasis on never!)  It's a gift I give him.
  • Prepare his environment.  RB teaches online most evenings.  I try to make sure desk is inviting with a candle burning and fresh flowers.  I prepare a snack for his late evening munchies attack.
  • Brag on him.  Men love to hear their wife bragging on them.
Three ways RB honors me:
  • Delivers fresh iced tea each morning.  Strong, in my yellow travel mug if I am planning on being out--in one of my one-of-a-kind goblets if I will be home.
  • Lives the "in sickness and in health" portion of our vows.  Chronic pain doesn't just affect the hurting, but also those who care for them.  He's always heating corn bags, wrapping ice packs in towels, and helping with household chores.
  • Encourages my dreams and gives me opportunity to realize my desires.
How do you bless your spouse?

 RB's Favorite Snack: Ranch Crackers


3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (1 ounce) package dry Ranch-style dressing mix
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (12 ounce) package oyster crackers


  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, ranch-style dressing mix, dill weed, lemon pepper and garlic powder. Pour this spice mixture over the crackers in a medium bowl, and stir until the crackers are coated. Arrange the crackers on a large baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the preheated 275 degrees oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

This post was linked to

Blessed With Grace