Christmas Traditions

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This blog was first posted on December 8, 2017.   Over the next 5 weeks as the holidays and my life transitions, I will be sharing some of my favorite Christmas time post.  I hope you will enjoy these past post over the holiday and the new year – 2019 will bring a new life and new post of God’s Blessings.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

Christmas Season

Christmas music is playing now everywhere I go and the lights are shining bright.  The season is here.  I want to enjoy more and stress less as Christmas day approaches.  I want to remember why we celebrate this season.  I always find myself this time of year thinking about the past. Thinking about Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my girls.  The fun, the laughs, the surprises, and most importantly the family traditions we have created together and continue to create over the years.  I believe that traditions are important for families and can be past down to the next generation.  Paul reminds me of the importance of traditions in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”

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Family Traditions

My family has a few old traditions like the mouse calendar countdown to Christmas.  Our girls would almost fight to get to move the mouse each day.  They loved for the one whose turn it was to forget, so later in the day the mouse would secretly be moved. This simple purchase so many years ago has brought so much joy to our family.  Even now my husband takes pictures of Harley moving the mouse and sends it our now grown daughters.  It is a special memory and tradition in our home, and one I hope continues in the homes of our daughters one day with their children.

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Jesus Birthday Cake

Another great tradition for our family is baking Jesus’s Birthday Cake and singing Happy Birthday to him on Christmas Day.  Today my girls bake the cake and decorate the cake together instead of me, but I enjoy watching them back home together in the kitchen having fun carrying on our family tradtion.  We still gather round the cake on Christmas afternoon and sing and eat his birthday cake!  This is definitely one of my favorite Christmas memories and traditions!  “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

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Even the Cake Decorations are important to our family.

Sharing Traditions

As an educator, I could not help but wonder about the traditions of my students, so I asked them to share favorite Christmas traditions with me on a Chalkboard in the school library.  It is special to hear them talk about the little things their families do together that are important to them.  Here are a few from this years board:

  1. Enchiladas for Breakfast on Christmas morning.  Why?  Her family is from Guatemala and this is just something her grandmother has always done.
  2. Crab Legs for Christmas Eve.  This student was super excited to share how much the night means getting to eat the crab legs!
  3. Lights.  One student just shared how much she enjoys lights and lots of lights.  She and I have that in common.
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These are just a few shared on the board and in discussions with my students.

Over the years I have heard some wonderful traditions that families share.  Some I wish I had even thought of.  Some that brought a great laugh but was still so important to the student.

  1.  One tradition that I wish I had known and started is only receiving three gifts for Christmas.  “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11
  2. Several years ago a student shared that on Christmas Eve they had to eat their meal with a different utensil from the kitchen.  This was a long family tradition and brought lots of laughter around the table.  Who knew what you would get?  How do you eat with a whisk?

The Gift of Jesus

Traditions are important in families and even school communities.  God shows us how to celebrate him Everywhere.  This is a like a tradition.  Praise the Lord in all that we do as Psalm 150:1-6 exclaims, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!…”

During this  Christmas season with traditions being shared and even created remembering the reason we have this season is the most important.  God loved us so much that he gave us the greatest gift of all.  He gave us His Son.  He gave us Life.  ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.

Closing Verse: “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”  1 Corinthians 11:2

Challenge: During this Christmas Season full of traditions don’t forget God’s traditions and gifts in your life.

Thankful

Family

As Thanksgiving passes once more, my family realizes that this maybe one of the last Thanksgiving that will not be a homecoming.  So, I am thankful we were all together to share in each others lives as our children have grown into wonderful young women.  God is Good!

Closing Verse:

Courtesy of Youversion

Challenge:

Count Your Blessings, I am counting mine.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11.

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This verse has always been one of my favorite verses and now I am leaning on these words from God more than ever as a new season of my life is beginning.  I look back over so many years of my life, so many good times, and I know that this will just be another great chapter.  As always a new season brings apprehension and uncertainty.  As I sit at this juncture and look back at the past chapters and how God has worked then I know that he will walk with me once again through this time.  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105.

Walking back through God’s plan for my life 

 

I guess my adult story begins with meeting my husband.  God placed a great man in my life.  As I continue to walk through life with him, I pray that I am the mate that he always wanted because I am more than thankful and blessed to have him.  Our story began in May of 1989.   “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24.  When we reflect on this time in our life now, we wonder how we made it.  Sometimes being young makes you more resilient.  Although we struggled as a young couple, we endured and entered that next phase of our life in November of 1991 when our first daughter came into our lives, and again in November of 1994 with the birth of our second daughter.

 

Babies

November 1991 and 1994 our family grew and changed me so that I was no longer just a wife but a mother.  God blessed us with two beautiful daughters who to this day we are so proud of.  They are now strong independent woman.  “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 2:6.  Learning to be parents as a young married couple is both challenging and rewarding.  We learned many years later the reward was they left our home while we were still young enough to enjoy life and each other.  Life continued to change as they grew up, entered school, played sports, danced, etc.  While they were still young, I took the steps to receive my Masters in Library and Information Studies.  Leaving the classroom for the school library was a big step but one that has made my career a special place.  I have loved my job.

Next Phase for Everyone

Sometimes their busy lives consumed ours and as they entered high school, my husband and I realized we needed to find each other again.  No regrets on our children and our time with them, but we needed to reconnect.  This became easier as they were older and heading toward high school graduation.  During this time we added Harley to our lives, a new puppy.  Our daughters had lived on a farm with dogs and horses, but never experienced a puppy.  We all fell in love fast!

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Each transition in losing a child from the home was bittersweet, but we reveled in watching them soar on God’s wings.  “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.  High school graduation came for them both and off to college they went.  Both in different directions to different types of schools.

 

We began enjoying the life as empty nesters and learning to enjoy each other again.  This chapter of our lives was watching our daughters grow into adults and soar while reconnecting with each other and enjoying life to the fullest!  College graduations came and went.

 

 

Our oldest daughter married and entered graduate school while working full time.  Our youngest entered graduate school working full time and Mom and Dad are just not as needed in their lives anymore.

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Next Step

Now, here I stand again at a major life change and a new chapter to write.  But as I wrote these few memories and dug out these pictures, I was able to revisit so many memories from horses to motorcycles, Myrtle Beach to the Caribbean trips, and all those special memories from Christmas to soccer tournaments and golf state qualifications.  We have had so much fun.  Then the memories of my career.  Remember above I spoke of entering the school library and becoming a school librarian.  This career is deeply planted in my soul.   I love the kids, literacy, research, and the learning that happens in a school library, but it is time for me to write another chapter of my life.  I am ready to  hand over these reigns and enjoy day to day life with my husband.

I am planning retirement….

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Yes, I am excited about the future, but torn with the deep love of my job.  I didn’t know it would be this hard to let go, so I lean on my verse again.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11.   I know that God has plans for my future and has already written these chapters.  I trust in him as I walk this new path.  I trust in him as I venture into the unknown.  I trust in him to show me his glory and that I might have opportunities on this new adventure to share his love and grace with others.

Closing Verse:

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Challenge:  God knows the plans he has for you.  Walk in his Word.

Good Morning, Lord

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Mornings

Recently, I read a blog post from IBelieve.com about praying before getting your day started and before getting caught up in the day.  Making that connection with the Father first thing in the morning.  After reading this blog, I thought about my mornings because I try to connect with the Lord before I start each day.  I strongly feel taking this time makes me a better overall person, wife, mother, friend, and employee because I started  my day working on my relationship with my Lord and Savior.

How does my morning begin?  I start each morning not just with a workout and walking my dog, but by spending time in God’s Word.  I open my day with devotion and prayer.  I stop and thank him for all the good he has given me in my life.  I count my blessings.  I find joy in the morning which carries me through the rest of my day.  This time lifts me up for the rest of my day. “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”  Psalm 143:8.  As I was writing this blog post, I ran across this picture on Facebook.  This is another reminder of why we should begin our day with the Lord and thank him for his blessings.

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Spreading Love

My mornings have changed over the years, sometimes I have been real exact in my time and other times I let the Lord lead the way.  There have been times when I focused on others in prayer and times when I have focused on my needs from the Lord.  There have been times where my devotions have been guided and other times where I just opened his word.  I have always tried to find his love for my life and then spread his love to others.  The only way I have found to make this impactful in my life is to begin the day with Him.  “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” Psalm 90:14.

 

Closing Verse:  Lamentations 3:22-23

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Challenge: How do you begin your day?  Consider beginning your day with the Lord. and see the way he will bless you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good, Good Father

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Summer is Almost Over

As life starts to get busy and summer is coming to a close, I think about the many different openings to school I have had over the past 28 years.  I have always loved watching the excitement of students, even my own, as a new school year begins.  Everyone is ready and excited about the new year, new experiences, and new relationships.  As students begin a new adventure in a new classroom, the excitement of searching for answers and writing a new chapter of their lives seems reachable as a new school year begins.  It gets me excited about what is to come.  For some reason this experience brought the song Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin to my mind.  I guess just watching students at the middle school level searching for who they are and who they want to be just reminded me that God is where all the answers really lie.  “But test everything; hold fast what is good.”  1 Thessalonians 5:21.

I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

Searching for Answers

I love watching middle schoolers search for their identities and acceptance.  This can be such a hard time for so many and sets them down particular paths in their lives.  I pray for the students that I get the honor of building relationships with each year.  I pray that God will somehow shine through me and they will find hope and strength in who they are.  These students are seeking so many answers for their future.  I pray that those who need a Good, Good Father may find the peace of God sooner in their lives.  “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”  Jude 1:2.

I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only you provide
‘Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you                                                                                                                     It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Love Speaks Louder Than Words

As this new year begins and students enter my life one more time, I pray that I will bring love and peace to their lives.  That they will see a deep love within me that they will want to seek for themselves.  I pray that I have the opportunity to plant seeds and share his love.  As I watch students walk through a day with little love in their eyes and in their lives, I know that I might be the only person to call their name or smile at them that day.  This is a reality for many children.
1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love
Because you are perfect in all of your way                                                                                You are perfect in all of your ways                                                                                                You are perfect in all of your ways to us
You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
Closing Verse:
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Challenge:  Share the Good Father with those who need Him.

 

 

Final- Searching For a New Heart

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Renewed Heart

God knows our heart, but it is still our heart.  Scripture does provide me with so much hope for a heart that can be renewed!   Reading how God works in our lives provides so much hope and comfort to me, especially in a world full of hate and evil where our hearts can run wild. Watching this horrific tragedies that unfold around the world make me thankful that I am putting my heart in God’s hands.  I fear the evil that it can bring.  I honestly wish the news was filled with the stories of heroes and their compassion which touch my heart and soul.  God is Good!

God Searches the Heart

I pray for a heart like Lydia from Thyatira.  Acts 16:14 tells us of her heart, “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God.  The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”  My prayer is for an open heart to hear God!  God opens hearts and hardens hearts scripture has revealed, so I pray for an open heart from God.   As I have said earlier the heart leads and shows what is important in our lives.  Just thinking of those in our society with hate in their heart should stop us all in our shoes.  Where are their hearts?  God has searched them just as he has ours.  1 Chronicles 28: 9 reads, “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.”  I am shaking.  Be Still.  Lord please open my heart and make it yours to love and understand.

God Knows the Heart

I want to pass the “heart test” found in Jeremiah 12:3 “But you, O Lord, know me; you see me, and test my heart toward you…”  I want to pass that test for the Lord.  I know there is much work to be done in order for me to pass the test of God searching my heart, but I long of that day.  The Lord’s testing is sometimes difficult, but he always knows!  He knows where my heart will take me.  He knows me through my hearts.  Psalms 44:21 reveals this secret to us; “would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.”  I want God to look at my heart and see Jesus holding it in the palm of his hand.  I want my heart to lead me to Jesus.

God’s Light Shines

2 Corinthians 4:6 shares with us the light God wants to shine from our hearts.  “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  I want to be enlightened by my Father, and for that to happen I must also be patient and willing to wait on my Lord.  The Lord has work to do in my heart and I must trust that work.  In Psalms 27: 14 it is written, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”  I am waiting Lord and will be still and follow my heart that I am giving to you.  I will wait Lord in order that Jesus has prepared my heart for you.  I have opened my heart to be yours…..

 

Closing Verse: 1 Thessalonians 3:13, “so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”

 Challenge: May God’s will be done in my heart and yours!

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Count Your Blessings

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I haven’t spent as much time in the car listening to the radio this summer and since I have been working this past week once again my drive includes listening to KLove.  I have these moments when listening to music sometimes and it goes like this, What is the name of this song?  Who sings this song?  I really love the message of this song!  I need to Shazam this song?  So today I am sharing a new song for me and the impact while driving to work as I thought about the meaning.
Count Your Blessing
Rend Collective
I was blind, now I’m seeing in color
I was dead, now I’m living forever
I had failed, but you were my redeemer
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure

Blessed

If there is one thing I have fully determined this summer, it is that I am blessed.  God has given me the time to disconnect from the world and focus on Him and what he has given me.  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  James 1:17.  I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters who are hard working and independent.  I have been blessed with a loving husband who has loved me now over 30 years with all my faults and failures.  I have been blessed with a career that touches children and (I pray) I have changed some of their lives.  God is Good, but this summer He asked me to really look and appreciate the beauty he created and blessed me with.  Although, I understand the words I was blind and now I see in color as being saved, the past month showed me that color in 3D.  I really see the colors now, Lord.  I see what is important.  I am living and want to continue to live both here and forever with you.  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” 1 Peter 5:6.

Treasure

I was lost, now I’m found by the father
I’ve been changed from a ruin to treasure
I’ve been given a hope and a future
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Letting go and trusting when I cannot see
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Surely every season you are good to me
Oh, you are good to me
Oh, you are good to me
God is showing me the treasures he has stored up for me.  “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33.  I want to focus more on trying to live out this verse.  Sell, share, and live with less in order to experience God more.  He is allowing me to taste heaven here on earth, and I am thirsty for more.  I want to experience more of his beauty and grace.  I want to not just count my blessing but enjoy my blessings.  I want to enjoy a future that is full of both my Father in heaven and my remaining days here on earth.   Luke 12:34 states it best, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Strength

You were there in the valley of shadows
You were there in the depth of my sorrows
You’re my strength, my hope for tomorrow
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Letting go and trusting when I cannot see
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Surely every season you are good to me
Oh, you are good to me
Oh, you are good to me
I have walked through valleys and across mountain tops and I know that my life will be filled with both.  Yet, I have hope in God’s strength, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13.  As I walk through the life God is giving me and count the many blessings, I know that I continue to need his strength to make the decisions and walk his path.  I know that the only strength I can rely on is that which the Lord provides.  Driving and listening to this song, I feel my Lord’s strength which I will need and promised to me in  1 Chronicles 16:11, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”
Surely your goodness pursues me
Surely your heart is still for me
I will remember your mercies all my days
Through every storm and gale
Closing Verse: “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.
Challenge:  Take the time today to stop and count your blessings and lean on the Lord’s strength for your life.

 

Songwriters: Gareth Gilkeson / Chris Llewellyn / Bridget Herron / Ali Gilkeson / Will Herron / Steve Mitchell / Patrick Thompson
Counting Every Blessing lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group