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Resolutions

I used to make resolutions every Jan 1.  When I was younger a few of my resolutions were to study harder in school and to do my chores without complaining. As I got older it changed to dieting, keeping my house cleaned, not grumbling too much or reading my bible more, along with many other goals.  And without fail by February I was back in my normal habits.

So eventually I stopped making New Year resolutions and instead decided to stay focused on God’s Word.  Without a reading plan or study guide I let the Holy Spirit guide me into the different aspects of Spiritual Discipline.

Soon a few minutes reading a 5-min devotional each morning turned into meaningful prayer time.  Eventually my prayer time was expanded and included worship and more in-depth devotions.  Now, I get up earlier just to spend quiet time with God.  The time is spent reading, listening to worship songs, praying and even coloring.

This year again I will not make any resolutions and will continue to walk confidently in faith and being content in my circumstances. Instead of diet plans and goals I choose to pray unceasingly and serve God by being the Light of Christ.

By February I know I will be struggling to get up early on a cold winter morning, instead opting to stay snuggled under the warmth of blankets.  But then an opportunity comes to worship as my alarm goes off and Pandora begins playing praise and worship songs.  What a blessing – I can stay in the warmth of the bed God has provided and worship Him in song.

When spring arrives, the warmer weather and the smell of fresh clean air will bring distractions that will tempt me to stray from my faith journey. Yet, another opportunity will come to praise God when I see the first Robin and watch the squirrels frolicking in the warm breeze. The first crocus to bloom brings hope and a new abundant life as we all rejoice winter is over and spring has arrived. The scripture from Isaiah says it beautifully, I paraphrased, “The (winter and frozen ground) shall be glad; (the bare trees) shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.” (Here is the original scripture verse – Isaiah 35:1-2a ESV)

There will be struggles, disappointments, sorrow, and hardships in the New Year.  But each new day will bring the peace of Jesus; beauty and hope; laughter and love.

We do not know what the New Year will bring, so let us honor and worship God our creator wherever we are, whatever our circumstances and whenever the opportunity opens before us.

Let our lives bloom in 2018 wherever God plants us.

Where is God planting to you?

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Pictures from google.com
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It Is Beginning To Look Like Christmas

Picture unknown artists
Picture unknown artist

It is now the day after Thanksgiving here in America so it is now the official start of the Christmas season and to celebrate it I thought it fitting to post to the song by Bing Cosby,

It Is Beginning To Look Like Christmas

So rejoice everyone – the Christmas season has begun! Whatever you do for the Christmas season celebrate every moment from baking dozens of cookies to shopping for or making that perfect gift.  Don’t let the naysayers get you down, it is time to celebrate the holiday of our Saviors birth. 

What is the first thing you do to kick off this joyous holiday?  For us it has always been decorating the house and putting the tree up.  I worked retail and waited tables for many years, so depending on when I worked we would either put the tree up on Thanksgiving or the first weekend I had off which was usually the first day of advent.  And of coarse you already know, by now I have been listening to Christmas  music!

Let me be the first to wish you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Giving Tuesday

Giving-Tuesday-BannerWhat is “Giving Tuesday“?  A few weeks ago my denomination, the Presbyterian USA issued a challenge to all of its Synods, Presbyteries and Churches to participate in Giving Tuesday. I had no idea what this was, but the more I read the more excited I became.  It is one day set aside from the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping to donate money for worthy causes.  One day to take the focus off of ourselves and to focus on the needs of our churches and communities.  Isn’t this what the Christmas season is all about?  

Although it is a very worthy day, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we do this all year long?  Imagine how many families, homeless people, abused women and children that we can help not to mention the many people we can feed when the food bank donations around the country go down after the holiday season. 

My challenge to you is to participate in Giving Tuesday on December 2 and then to continue that giving all year long.

The following two quotes are from the #GivingTuesday and the PCUSA Giving Tuesday webpages.  Click on the links for more information.

“We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.” {quote from Giving Tuesday.org}


“How refreshing to start the Advent season with a focus on the blessings we have been
given by God. Your gratitude for God’s blessings can be reflected as a
gift to support our mission.

GIVINGTUESDAY is a global initiative devoting one special day to Giving.
We invite you to make a donation on this special day and don’t stop
there…encourage your family and friends to also make a donation.
Here’s the challenge – On Tuesday, December 2, join us online anytime
during the 24 hours to support your church or the Presbyterian Church by going to PresbyterianMissionExchange/GivingTuesday”  {quote from PCUSA Mission Exchange}

giving tuesday

Thanksgiving Traditions

Norman-Rockwell-Thanksgiving-thanksgiving-2927689-375-479Here I am getting ready for the second holiday season without Tom. In 35 years of marriage we have only missed two wedding anniversaries, two Christmas’s and one Thanksgiving and one New Year. Not bad for a military wife, but then he only served active duty for part of our marriage before serving the rest of his career in the PA National Guard. Lets face it, although I am proud of the National Guard and all the work they do in their states and across the sea, it is a lot easier being married to a weekend warrior then a full-time soldier.

In that 35 yrs we have made some new traditions while keeping some of the old traditions. When I was growing up we did not have many old family traditions.  Coming from a military family and a grandmother with “itchy” feet my father’s family was thrown to the four corners of the earth. My mother being from Germany never celebrated Thanksgiving so it was a new experience for her. My father was raised in the depression had a very difficult life so I always thought it was his dream to have the traditional Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.

Dad would always buy the biggest turkey, no matter how tight the household budget. He would cook everything in that turkey including the bone for his turkey soup. To this day I cannot eat stuffing, turkey soup or homemade gravy after I helped him one Thanksgiving – he literally used all the “extra’s” that come with the turkey, for flavor he would say, but that did not encourage me.

Now mom on the other hand was not a turkey connoisseur , I can still hear her say why do we have to eat turkey? But always wanting to become American she adapted. I am sure dad taught her everything she needed to know to make the best roast turkey this side of the Atlantic Ocean. She never did understood the concept of eating turkey only once a year. I always assumed they compromised for Christmas by having ham instead of turkey or the Christmas goose.

There is a clip in a movie “Avalon” which is a movie about Polish Immigrants that reminds me of my mother. Change the accent to German and I can almost hear my mother say “I don’t understand this holiday…we don’t eat turkey all year why do I have it eat now”.

movie clip ~ I will never understand this holiday

So our Thanksgiving holiday was a table filled with all the traditional Thanksgiving Day foods and our family of 5 would eat leftovers it seemed for weeks, although I am sure it was only days afterward.  My sister and I would normally argue over who was to wash or dry the many dishes dad left for us.  Dad would say you can tell a good cook by how many dishes and pots he used…well if that is true, then my dad was a master chef!

Tom comes from a traditional American family, big dinner of turkey and ham, tables filled with food that everyone brought, family gathered around, cousins running all over the place, along with a kids table, I am sure. He was amazed when I told him I was not that fond of turkey. Poor guy did not realize he was not going to have turkey for Christmas, ham would become our  traditional Christmas dinner. He never complained as long as he had his homemade pumpkin pie, his favorite holiday pie. Being newly married and wanting to impress him since he said his mother never made homemade pies I made my Aunt Marty’s pumpkin pie from scratch…from then on I would bake all my pies from scratch using love as my secret ingredient. For 35 yrs, we would have pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and one year I surprised him and made him one for his birthday!

The only time we did not have turkey was for our first Thanksgiving, we had chicken. This was before you could buy turkey breasts or smaller turkeys. I would start baking my pies the day before and instead of homemade stuffing we had stove top. Although I do remember the first time I made homemade stuffing I burnt it…don’t ask me how, I followed the directions and sticking to my convictions I used store-bought broth instead of making my own.

It is time to make new traditions but keeping the many happy memories of the past Thanksgivings.  I remember my parents, my brother and Tom with tears, laughter, and smiles. My traditions are not like the Norman Rockwell pictures or from what is shown in holiday movies.  But like how all traditions are started, both my old and the new ones my children and I will make together, they all start from the love I have for them.

My children and I will still have turkey with all the trimmings and instead of pumpkin pie this year I am making a pumpkin roll. Instead of football it will be watching all the traditional Christmas movies, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, It Happened On Fifth Avenue”, “Christmas in Connecticut” and to keep things silly “A Christmas Story”. 

What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? I would enjoy hearing about all the different ways we celebrate, including my Canadian friends.  For my friends across the world, do you also celebrate a thanksgiving holiday?

The Day After Thanksgiving

I dedicate this song to everyone who waits until Thanksgiving to play Christmas music, decorate and start their shopping!

You can thank my son for giving me the CD – now I will think of all of you with smiles as I listen to this song and secretly sing to you “It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas”!!

You know I love all of you! 😀 

“The Day After Thanksgiving” by Brandon Heath
 
There’s still plenty of leaves
Golden on the trees
Hoodies, blue jeans and football
Bonfires and school nights
Scarecrows and hayrides
It’s fall everywhere except the mall

I don’t want to hear about Santa Claus coming
No silver bells or a dozen drummers drumming
I don’t want to see an inflatable nothing
Till the day after Thanksgiving
(And not a day early)

Don’t plug in those electric candles
Or dangle those stockings from the living room
Those tangled up lights are more than I can handle
Till the day after Thanksgiving

Then oh let it snow
Go and tell everyone you know
That Christmas is here
Every day between now and new year

Don’t deck the halls with the tinsel or the holly
You can make me grumpy but you can’t make me jolly
Elves don’t even make curly haired dollies
Till the day after Thanksgiving

Then oh let it snow
Christmas card, everyone you know
Then pour on the cheer
Every day between now and new year

I want the cookies and the mistletoe kissing
Angel on top of a tall tree glisten
Wrap it all up in a pretty red ribbon
The day after Thanksgiving

(You can put antlers on your car for all I care)
As long as its the day after Thanksgiving

Here Comes Santa Claus

CharlieBrownChristmasUpdate.JPG-675x550It it is time to start thinking “Christmas”.  Actually I think of Christmas all year-long as I reflect the birth of Jesus.  Then as I start sing Hark the Angels, Joy to the World and other favorite Christmas classics, soon I am singing, I Want A Hippopotamus, Nestor the Christmas Donkey, Deck the Halls, I’ll Be Home For Christmas and of course Here Comes Santa Claus sung by my two favorite singers, Doris Day and Gene Autry.   I could type a list of all my favorite Christmas songs.  You name it I love it!

I know everyone is going to comment that it is not Thanksgiving yet and you are right!  Years ago I thought how sad that we get to only listen to Christmas songs for 30 days out of the year.  So  I decided to started listening to Christmas songs the first day of school to celebrate the children going back and having the house to myself!

Then the movement of the stores to have Christmas in July came and I was hooked in bringing out the Christmas songs in July. 

This year I did start a bit later than usual only recently switching my regular CD’s over to Christmas.  But I am proud to say my daughter is following in my footsteps and is also listening to Christmas music. 

And you realize that with the Christmas music comes the Christmas movies. 

So call me crazy and you would be right because I am crazy for Christmas all year-long!

Enjoy your first Christmas song of the season…now you can get back to thinking about Thanksgiving as I get back to listening Christmas songs on Pandora.

But remember Christmas is only 88 days 7 hours and 37 minutes away (as I write this).

 

 

 

 

Remembering Dad

Dad and PattyFather’s Day ~ 2014

Before I was born my father had wanted to name me Patrick,  assuming I would be boy.  Since my brother and sister were already named for his father and closest sister, he wanted to give his next child a name he always liked.

After I was born there was a uproar about my name though. My father decided Patricia would be just as good a name as Patrick. Besides he had always liked the nick name Patsy. But my grandmother had wanted to name me Elizabeth Grace after her little girl who died in infancy.

We all know who won the argument and I was called Patricia. The story goes that my grandmother had come up to help my mother before and after I was born. After it was decided on what my name would be she got so mad at my mother and not only refusing to talk to her, she would not even hold me. Actually I have a picture somewhere of her holding me with a scowl on her face.

My mother told me that she was alright with the name Elizabeth, it was the middle name that had her in a tizzy. Grace…such a pretty name right?

My mother just in this country for a little over 1 year, was still learning the English language, thought my grandmother wanted to name me Elizabeth “Crazy”. She thought Grace was the word for crazy! Of coarse my father loved to tell the story and would add, “little did we know the name would have fit Patty perfectly”! Once my mother understood she told me she always regretted the misunderstanding of not realizing why the name meant so much to my grandmother.

My poor mother, although she was blamed for me not being Elizabeth Grace, it was in fact my dad who put his foot down and wanted his Patricia. I quickly became Patty, although I was never told why I was never called Patsy.  On occasion he would call me Patsy, and I might add he was the only one who was allowed to do so. He did not call me that often, but when he did it was always with a joke, a smile and a twinkle in his eyes.

He died suddenly when I was 14, four days after his birthday. I never had the chance to speak with him adult to adult, or ask him about his life as a young boy leaving home to help support his mother and sisters. When I started to learn about World War II in school he would fill in the gaps from the history books, teaching me “what the history books would not”. Those were some of the best talks I had with him.

Dad saw things during his tour in Europe in 1944-1945 that we will never be able to comprehend. Those things had haunted him all of his life. He never again found the peace in his life that was lost on the battlefields of Belgium and the Rhineland.

Growing up we had good times and bad times. Through it all we knew we were loved. I had the privilege of having him for my father, although I only knew him for such a short time.

He was far from perfect; he was a man who lived through many difficulties, being a young boy during the Depression, he had left home to support his family. He also witnessed the horrors of the brutality of what one man was capable of doing. Some of the problems and trials were of his own choosing, yet he was a gentle man, a caring man, and a man of courage. Dad was just a troubled soul – trying to find his place in this world.

Dad held many jobs one of his first jobs as a young boy was with the CCC.  After that he also worked a short time with the Ringling Brothers and Bailey Circus, if memory serves me right he told me his job was to help set up the tents.  He was a diesel mechanic and a draftsman. But his most memorable career would be his service to his country for 25 years, with the United States Army.

And that is how I like to think of him. As a soldier and a father who loved and cared for his family the best way he knew how.

Happy Father’s Day Dad ~ “Sarge”!

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Easter – Gods Love For Us

Religion_0046a_small_small Easter is a holiday full of mixed emotion for me.

It is a joyous event – Jesus has come to the end of His ministry as He confirms He is the Son of God promising us life with Him and God the Father. He brought healing to the lame and sick, He fed the hungry and poor and He raised the dead to life, to prepare His Disciples for His death and resurrection and to prepare us today for His return so will know and understand His power over death.

It is a heartbreaking event – Jesus has come to the end of His ministry in pain and suffering to death on the cross. Jesus the Son of God who was sinless and for 33 years had a close relationship with God our Father, there was nothing standing in-between Jesus and God, now for the first time He will find Himself separated from God as He took our sins upon Himself. Jesus became our spotless pure Lamb in the most horrific type of death.

But His ministry does not end there….

Jesus willingly went through to the cross with one purpose – to pay the price for our sins. By taking our sins upon Himself, Jesus went through a double death; first, His painful physical death on the cross and then the painful spiritual death of being separated from God.

All is not lost – Jesus has Risen! Three days after His crucifixion a group of women came to find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.

That is Easter to millions of Christians all over the world, celebrating Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. What love God has for us, that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to this earth to die on the cross paying the penalty for our sins and to conquer sin once for all time, but it didn’t just stop there. He rose again to show He had conquered death for all time. He rose again so that we could have eternal life. God sees us as justified, forgiven, and holy. God sees past the imperfect people we are and sees the perfect spotless Lamb, His Son, who took our place so that we do not have to pay the ultimate price for our sins and if we accept Jesus Christ – the Son of God, and His Sacrifice, we are redeemed and will have eternal life.

Today, Easter Sunday let us remember what our Savior has done and what He went through for us,  so we can have a restored relationship and eternal life with God our Father.

Jesus Christ has RISEN today, Hallelujah!

 

Christmas Reflections

nativity-w-blue-backgroundLast year I started a new tradition as I celebrated the Advent season.  On the first day of Advent I started a journal listing all the things I have learned through my Advent devotional.  They were things that I already knew but needed reminded of and some things that God put upon my heart which shaped my life for the upcoming year.  And there were a few gentle words that spoke directly to my soul – just between God and myself.

So this year I continued with the tradition and through my Advent devotional God has indeed blessed me with His wisdom again.  My Christmas wish for you is to take at least one and lay it upon your heart to reinforce the hope found in the baby Jesus and to bless your life in the New Year:

*   As I have lost my way this past year and allowed the busyness of life get in the way of my relationship with Christ, He gently reminded me I needed to go back to the beginning so that I will be able to move forward.  I needed to return to the manger on my knees – to reflect once again on Jesus, on His life and ministry and to prepare my heart to welcome His return.

*   Developing a faithful prayer practice.  “Prayer is the path that unites our hearts with God’s heart.” {unknown}

*   Thanking Jesus for allowing me to try to do things myself and making the wrong the choices. Praising Him for picking me up when I fall and gently guiding me in the way I should go.

*   “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach” Deuteronomy 30:11  No challenge is too big when Jesus is beside me.

*   Finding Jesus in my everyday tasks.

*  Enjoy the quiet moments.

*  Keeping the joy of the Christ Child in my heart all year long.

*  Letting go of those things that are keeping me separated from God and from having a relationship with Jesus, my Lord.

As I go forward into the New Year Jesus is preparing me to make some changes; I am going to stop procrastinating.  I have started to organize my life by setting up blocks of time to handle the big tasks and not allowing distractions to overwhelm me.  I am reminded again to remain focused on where Jesus is leading me and to what needs done not only in my life but in serving others.

These 24 days of the Christmas season has brought me closer to God through the gentle words of His Son, Jesus.  It is His birth we celebrate but it was I who received the gift of His love, His forgiveness and His promise of eternal life. May you all experience all the richness of these gifts.

I have also learned from Jesus, that when He went off on His own, to reflect, pray, and rest, He was preparing Himself for the task set before Him.  That is what I will be doing, I am taking the next week off to spend time with God and His Son, Jesus and to be with  my family.  I will be resting and preparing for those changes in my life and for the task God will set before me. 

I look forward to another year of writing, reading your blogs and meeting new friends. 

So until next year ~ 😀

Merry Christmas and may your New Years be full of God’s blessings, lots of laughter, joy and love.

The Parakeet

parakeetAs I read everyone’s posts about Christmas memories I am reminded of my own memories.  The year my sister and I both received exactly the same doll house. The Christmas I received my first ring from my parents.  I still have it.  It is tarnished and the stone out of date, but it is now an antique being over 40 yrs old! 

I think one of the best Christmas gifts I have received came from my husband.  We had just moved back to Pennsylvania and getting settled back into a semi civilian life.  We now owned our home and so we enjoyed filling our home with pets; we had fish, a rabbit, eventually a hamster and of course our dogs.  I had always spoke of the parakeet my cousin had and how much I enjoyed it when I was younger and how eventually my mother would purchase a parakeet for me.  I always talked of the parakeet that I named Bubbi after my cousins parakeet and how much I enjoyed hearing him sing. 

You know how our memories are, they are selective, so I neglected to describe the mess and the work involved with caring for a bird or the fact that less than a year we gave the poor thing away.

So my husband being a sweet sensitive guy (which he won’t admit) decided to buy me a parakeet for Christmas.  We both love birds and he thought this would be a perfect gift.  And it was, until we realized Bubbi Jr did not sing.  We tried everything.  All it ever did was eat and poop and poop and poop.  Lets not get into the shells from the bird seed, they were everywhere.  I never mentioned to my DH (dear husband) that I was not really enjoying the little guy. It was not Bubbi’s  fault, I was working full-time, taking care of the house in addition to our pets and our two little ones that kept us running.  So the day came when little Bubbi died.  I hate to admit it but I was relieved, and being such a good wife, I “grieved” with my husband over Bubbi. 

Then Christmas came and my sweet sensitive husband knowing how much I “missed” Bubbi bought me another one, much to my dismay.  Again I was “happy” with my gift.  And to his credit he bought me one that sang but I think it was an attack signal.  That bird would attack the hands that fed it.  I could not change the papers without that little innocent looking bird coming for me and forget about feeding, he mistook my fingers for food.  I am sure that bird was part of  a meat-eating variety of parakeet.  So after a few weeks of being attacked I told DH he needs to care for Bubbi. 

Bubbi used the sweet sound of his singing to get back at us.  The dogs barked he would sing, the phone rang ~ he would sing.  We would talk and he would sing.  Then Jurassic Park came out on video.  One of my sons favorite movies.  The dinosaurs would roar and the little bird would go nuts. 

Then the day came and he also died.  DH started talking about getting another one. I had to confess.  I had to tell him as much as I appreciated him buying me the two birds, I pleaded with him no more birds.  So to his credit he did not buy me a Parakeet for Christmas, instead he bought me a ceramic Blue Jay – to go with the Cardinal he bought me years earlier because he knows they are my two favorite birds.

The reason that Parakeet is one of my favorite Christmas gifts because they were given in love.  DH may not be a romantic and a tough ole Sergeant but he shows his love for me in so many little ways, even buying me two parakeets to remind me of happier times from my childhood.

Another thoughtful present he bought me was an antique Army Ike Jacket that the soldiers wore in WWII,  searching on eBay until he found one with the Third Army patch on it, the unit my dad served in during WWII. I had mentioned a few times that I like those uniforms compared to the ones today.  My house is full of gifts he purchased for me over the years, each with a story and a memory attached. 

And so through the years I have learned to be careful telling my DH what I like because one day I may find a zebra or a giraffe under the Christmas tree! 

I wonder what is under the tree this year?  thinking-woman