Christmas Eve Encouragement

Tonight is a night we focus on the memory of Christ’s birth, a quiet joyful night usually with candlelight. The candlelight represents His light coming into the world and as we share the flame from candle to candle, it shows how we should share His light from person to person.

Christmas means that God is interested in the affairs of people, that God loves us so much that He was willing to give His Son. Billy Graham

In my Christmas village I have an observatory and it reminds me we should always remember to look for His star, His light, as it shines on us and the rest of the world.

The Hope Observatory, may we all feel the hope of His light

I wish you all the very best Christmas. If this is a joyous time for you and your family, I hope it continues to shine brightly. If this time of year is sad for you, I hope the light of Christ finds you so that you understand just how much you are loved. He came for all of us to find His love and peace.

Merry Christmas

The Gift of Joy

Good morning friends. I come to you this morning to explore some more through the Advent devotional book “The Gifts of Christmas”.  This week we are celebrating the beauty and power of Joy.  The candle we light is pink because this color represents joy. This candle is meant to help us enjoy the remembrance of Jesus’ birth. This candle is also called the Shepherd’s Candle as it represents the joy of the shepherds. 

I can not imagine how the shepherds felt when all of a sudden the sky erupted with angels, but they told them not to be afraid. The gift of joy that had been promised of old had now been born.  It is a gift of caring love and of strength.

And while this world around us can be quite scary, we have an inner joy that is stronger than any fear through Jesus our King.  The Wiseman from foreign lands had studied the stars for years and knew of the prophecies. They felt a powerful joy the star appeared and went to seek it out.

As our pastor explained to us during Sunday’s sermon, joy is not a feeling, it’s a choice. Happiness is a feeling that can come from joy but if circumstances are dire, you can still have joy, it is a gift from God that comes from within. 

There are many scriptures concerning joy, so it is a very important gift for us to embrace and hold tightly to.  The psalmists remind us to be glad in the joy that has been bestowed on us.

May you feel the Joy of the Lord in all that you encounter. Have a blessed weekend and remember through this season of joy to always be kind.

Always Be Kind

2021 Holiday Doors

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature, hosted by No facilities, allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

His post this week of Ginger bread houses inspired me to show some favorite doors from the village I painted with a friend way back in 2000. We wanted to have a small village for Christmas but could not quit finding cute houses. So now 48 houses later, I have my village. The village gets put out every year. We won’t talk about the 10 I gave away as Christmas gifts. Wish I still had them. But alas it is what it is. The first pictures are a few of the ones I painted that have more interesting door features.

The next set of pictures are from a new village I started this year. These structures are only 3 inches high against those above that are 5 inches or higher. I call this little village the Candy Cane Village. They feature Mr. & Mrs. Claus and I did not make these. They are actually supposed to be ornaments, except for the Mr. & Mrs. They were my mom’s.

If you enjoyed these, I will post more village pieces this weekend. Have a great end to your week and remember to always be kind. It shows the sweeter side of you.

The Fun Side of Christmas

Good morning friends. So far I have shared my living room tree, more on the elegant side; and my bathroom tree, the down under tree. Today I am sharing my bedroom tree, the kitchen tree and the woodland animals tree. Its the fun side of Christmas or at least my quirky side.

My bedroom tree is the more personal tree. It has the ornament that my children made when young, happy ornaments that make me me smile and it is fast becoming the S’more tree.

I know as kids we all ate S’mores, or should have, but over the past 20+ years, I have collected S’more ornaments. Its my kids fault, they started it – I have just kept it going. My S’more ornament this year made me chuckle when I saw it, so, yes I had to have it.

A Graham Cracker truck, lol

Below are some of my more favorite ornaments from this tree because I cant show them all – they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t a favorite of some sort.

Moving from the bedroom to the dining room and you have the Woodland Christmas including a cabin, the outhouse with cow, woodland animals and the hedgehog Christmas.

Then from dining room to kitchen, yes no room was left untouched by Christmas, we have the rest of the critters celebrating Christmas. All enjoying the fun of the holiday, singing, playing instruments and playing in the snow.

On Thursday I will share the Sunroom Christmas that has the big tree and the Christmas Village. I added a side village this year – the candy cane village. Until then, I hope you have wonderful week. Stay warm, its 12 degrees here in Iowa and remember to always be kind. It shows the very best side of you.

Fandango’s Story Starter #22

Fandango’s story teaser today was too delicious to not participate. It could go in so many directions. Because it is the “season” for me, I chose to go there. Hope you enjoy.

The Garden Shed

Samantha leaned against her car and stared at her Grandpa’s house. The love and life that once oozed from this building brought life to any child; especially at this time of year, Christmas. She had not been back to visit the house since he passed five years ago. What would be the point. He was gone. He had turned the house over to the city to be used as a museum and library for children. Her brother Gerald was in charge and the place looked great. The large rolling lawn was decorated for the season and a smile creased her saddened face.

“Sure do miss you, Grandpa.”

“Samantha,” called a voice from the front porch.

“Hey, Gerald. Merry Christmas.”

“Its been awhile since you came by. You ought to come see the new children’s wing. It would have made Grandpa James proud.”

“Maybe later. I just came by to walk the grounds. Is the garden shed still in the back?”

“Yes. But it’s not used. We turned the large two car garage into the new garden center. Its where we have some planting seminars and during Christmas, we have crafts. I know it was special to you but too small for what we wanted to do. But it’s still intact. We air it out each spring and place fresh cut flowers on his desk for the spring tours of the gardens. Come by inside when you are done.”

As Samantha came around the side of the house, she saw the beautiful gardens. Christmas trees had been scattered about and were fully decorated. Behind them was the small but adequate garden shed. Her memories went back to the summers of laughing and playing in the dirt with Grandpa James. Such a magical time.

The windows of the shed were dusty and hard to see through so she opened the door to see in side. The door creaked a bit and drug its bottom across the wooden planked floor. She saw no sign of life in the room except the smell of her grandfather’s tobacco filled the room. He smoked a pipe with a very distinct brand and she loved smelling it as she snuggled close when small.

“How in the world can that fragrance still be so strong,” she mumbled as she walked over to his desk. Everything was exactly as he had left it. His ratty old note pad laid open with a pencil laying across it and someone had written on it. Her initial thought was anger that someone had used it but then she read the note and recognized his hand writing.”

“I will always be close to you.”

“Hey,” said Gerald as he entered the shed realizing he startled her. “Oh, I am sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I just wanted you to know we have hot chocolate with peppermint sticks. I know its your favorite.”

“Oh, its okay. I was just down memory lane. When did you find his notepad?”

“His notepad? What are you talking about?”

“This. Do you not recognize it?”

“No, sorry. I don’t. As far as I know, there was nothing in here. Where was it?”

“Right here on his desk. Right where he always had it. Do you mind if I keep it?”

“No. Does it have anything in it?”

“Not really. How does his tobacco smell stay so strong when you air this out in the spring?”

“You smell his tobacco?”

“Don’t you?”

“No.”

“Interesting,” she said as she walked past him out of the shed.

“Hot Chocolate?” he asked closing the door behind him.

“Sure.”

A New Look for Christmas

New Look

Christmas is coming but it will be sad you see

It will seem empty, like the Charlie Brown tree

There will be no traveling or family good cheer

No hugging at church to wish in a new year

But the people of Whoville seemed to have it right

For they dance and sang around the tree so bright

Christmas is still coming even with a virus so bad

It’s coming even though we are depressed and sad

I encourage you to feel the love of this great season

For it was Christ that came to give us the reason

The reason we love to make all this fuss

Is because we believe in the Magic of Christmas

This is a monumental and challenging year especially now at Christmas. But we can’t let this virus and fear define us. We can still wave at a distance, give lots of air hugs, and remember we all have many things to be thankful for. Do I make light of the situation we are in as a world people, by no means. I spent my concerning time in quarantine, I am fully aware of the danger, the risks and the possible outcomes. At my age it is even more dangerous but I refuse to not shine my light of love and kindness in the ways that I can that are safe. This year in defiance of being shut up inside, I decorated two weeks earlier and added another tree…in my bathroom. That brings me to 4 trees. Since my bathroom has a beach theme, so does the tree. So I have posted my pictures below and hope you enjoy with a smile. Do we need to be careful, yes, but do we need to be sad, no, disappointed, yes but this hopefully won’t last much longer. So spread your cheers through the cyber ways, enjoy this wonderful season and always be kind.

Names at Christmas

Good evening friends. When we as parents knew a child was coming to join the family, much work went into making sure the name fit the child, that it would carry the child courageously through this life. But then in life, nicknames come about that are sometimes more dear than the actual name and the nickname will stick. Names are just something people call you by. Even treasured family positions get nicknames like Gramps, Nana, Pop to name a few. I like Pop. We think of Pop as a nickname for Father and what better Father do we have other than our Heavenly Father. I think of that nickname lovingly as an acronym when I think of Jesus. Pop – Prince of Peace…

The Peace He brings us with nothing else can, it can’t be measured. Isaiah 9:6 reminds us that even at this writing, Jesus was not born yet but it was no mistake that He already existed. Wonderful Counselor – someone we can go to in an instant for much needed advice or assurance; Mighty God – The all powerful creator of everything, the guider of all paths and the one who creates extra paths for us to travel on when we take a wrong path where He hopes we will get back on His designed path; Everlasting Father – Everlasting, forever and ever, not ending, never quitting, always present Father, ultimate caretaker.

THIS is the endearing reason for this season…

In today’s message Jesus Calling, Sarah wrote as Jesus… “I am the Prince of Peace. As I said to my disciples, I say also to you: Peace be with you. Since I am your constant companion, my Peace is steadfastly with you. When you keep your focus on Me, you experience both My Presence and My Peace.. Worship Me as King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Prince of Peace.”

It is His Peace that allows us to face any given situation with courage, conviction and hope. And with this hope we can then follow His guiding hand with assurance.

I got tickled this morning with my pastor’s morning devotion on having that one favorite ornament that helps you focus on the meaning of Christmas making us revitalize our love for Him. To some of us we can’t just focus on one. It’s like training your dog to sit and a squirrel runs across the yard…as I spot yet another ornament and run across the store to see if it is one I just have to have. For now it doesn’t matter which room I go in, it all makes me smile…even the bathroom. So as we face these uncertain times that are all over the world, remember the true reason for this season. He came because His love for us is overpowering, so and let His love flow over you as you enjoy the symbols we use to honor Him on His celebrated day. 

Now that I am FINALLY through tinkering with the big tree(1 of 4), I give you my sunroom at night. Have a blessed evening and always remember in all that you do show the kindness of Christ.

Evening Encouragement, Thankfulness

While we can’t tell by the temps outside, this is the month of November. Iowa has been hit with the craziest bough of Indian summer that I am still in a t-shirt. I had the AC on yesterday and tomorrow its supposed to be in the 30s. Welcome to the midwest.

November is the thankful month and we all try to focus daily on the many blessings we have and make it a point to be thankful for them. That is something we actually need to do throughout the entire year.

Sometimes when life is zooming so fast around us, we get lost in the “goings on” that we lose our focus and forget to be thankful…in all things. So we need to purposely slow down and be deliberately thankful. In bible study we talked about how we do things sometimes not requiring or expecting a thank you, we do it out of love. But man, how a thank you can make us walk a little lighter, smile a little brighter and be all the more willing to do it all again. It’s the same with God. He knows we are thankful, those who love him, but He still likes to hear it. I look forward to His brighter smile.

Having a thankful heart, brings you peace, it gives you courage and fills you with hope; hope will give you the strength to survive whatever ordeal you face, so then you are able to give thanks in all you do creating a continuous circle with God in the middle of it.

I fully understand we have not had Thanksgiving yet but I am ready for the joy and thankfulness of Christmas. So I am decorating early this year, and the very first thing that goes on the big tree(yes there are more than 1) is The Christmas Nail. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with that tree trimming tradition but I have been doing it well over 40 years. The Christmas nail is a nail shaped similar to the nail used to hold Jesus to the cross. The Christmas tree foreshadows the Christ-tree that He decorated for us with nails like these and the lights we put on the tree remind us of His light that shines for us and through us.

The red ribbon represents His blood that was shed for me. I can not think of anything more powerful to be thankful for…daily. The nail is to be hung inside the tree by the trunk where it is only known by the family who hung it there, whose hearts are fully aware of the significance of why it is there. Especially this year with so much stress, anxiety and uneasiness of tomorrow, the nail’s message is ever stronger for us. So I encourage you tonight to reach out to God in thankfulness for all that He has done for you in the past and will do for you in the future.

And in all that you do, do so with kindness. Kindness reflects the light of God, the love of God and the thankfulness we have for what He has done for us.

Escapist Coloring Club Prompt

I am not sure if I am allowed this type of coloring for this month as I used paint instead of pens/pencils. The month of October is the month of getting crafts ready for Christmas. This year I ordered large wooded ornaments (18″ diameter) to hang on my fence outside. There are 11 of them but I thought I would post my favorites as my escapist coloring for the month. I hope you enjoy them. I really enjoyed doing them. Here is what they looked like before painting. I have posted some earlier but now that they are varnished, I thought I would show them finished. When I hang them with the garland, I will show the fence off, but its still early for that. The trees are not finished as I am making an tribute to the local police, fire and ambulance services that keep us safe. I will post those when done. I have someone making me a Merry Christmas text stencil to paint to put under them.

This one is probably my favorite because it is colored like my dogs.

Daisy Mae has a white tipped tail and nose, Mimi is solid black
I cheated a little on this one as I found a picture I liked and traced the outer edges

This next one is my other favorite as it shows the wise men heading to Bethlehem.

Holly is a symbol of Christmas representing the future for the Christ baby with the pointed leaves to represent the crown of thorns and the red berries to represent His blood.

And you got to have reindeer for Christmas and this one has a cardinal on it antlers. The cardinal is called the Christmas bird representing the beauty and warmth of the season. This year more than most, we all need to feel a little warmth and good cheer to surround us and bring us hope.

I hope you don’t mind me not fully following the Coloring Prompt rules and I look forward to getting back into coloring some soon. Thanks to Linda for setting up a prompt that allows us to having fun and sharing it with others on Escapist Coloring Club.

And remember, especially now with the chaos surrounding us all, try to always be kind. It helps us to manage this mess a little easier.