What is Important to You and Your Family This Christmas Season?

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“Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall,
the genial flame of charity in the heart.”

~Washington Irving

It seems we grow so very busy around Christmas time.  What are we busy with?  Is it shopping, cooking, cleaning, worrying that we aren’t buying enough…doing enough?  Could it be that maybe, just maybe, we need to rethink the whole month of December?
What’s most important?
Who’s most important?
Can we make a choice and a plan right now to focus on those two things?
The goal is to spend this month doing those thingsthat really matter with those who really matter.

First, set some time aside, fifteen minutes, an hour, and afternoon, whatever you have.  Use this time to brainstorm what is most important to you and your family this month.  This will be different for each family.  It may even be different for each family member.  Now is the time to get your thoughts on paper; then, speak with your husband and even your children.  Consider traditions, hospitality, giving, creating things, cooking, Advent activities, church activities.  Which things are most important?  Which things are you ready to let go?  Think about how much time and preparation each of those things will take.

Next, think about who’s most important.  Your husband and children are a given.  Extended family?  Friends?  Church members whom you don’t know well but would like to get to know?  Your children’s friends?  Business associates?  Your best girlfriends?  The new family in the neighborhood, strangers?  You get the idea.  Who do you want to make sure that you make time for this month?

Now, think about your home, family, homeschool, business, and church activities.  How do they fit into the calendar?  Do they meet the most important criteria?  Is there anything that needs to be pruned for a season? 

Now’s the time to think and plan for all these things.  Fit these things into the calendar leaving white space on your calendar for quiet evenings at home and for spontaneity and rest.  This will be challenging but worth it.  You can do this.   You can make this the best Christmastime ever by doing what is most important to you with those who are most important to you.

Be blessed,

Laura

Happy at Home

Modest Mondays – Mom’s the Word

A Thrilling Christmas Miracle on the Frontier

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“A Thrilling Christmas Miracle on the Frontier”
by ‘A Pastor’s Wife’

I remember a day one winter that stands out like a boulder in my life. The weather was unusually cold; our salary had not been regularly paid and it did not meet our needs when it was.
My husband was away much of the time, traveling from one district to another. Our boys were well, but my little Ruth was ailing and at best none of us were decently clothed. I patched and re -patched, with spirits sinking to the lowest ebb. The water gave out in the well and the wind blew through the cracks in the floor.

The people in the parish were kind, and generous too, but the settlement was new and each family was struggling for itself. Little by little, at the time I needed it most, my faith began to waver.
Early in life I was taught to take God at His word, and I thought my lesson was well learned. I had lived upon the promises in dark times until I knew, as David did, who was my Fortress and my Deliverer. Now a daily prayer for forgiveness was all that I could offer.

My husband’s overcoat was hardly thick enough for October, and he was often obliged to ride miles to attend some meeting or funeral.  Christmas was coming; the children always expected their presents. I remember the ice was thick and smooth and the boys were each craving a pair of skates. Ruth, in some unaccountable way, had taken a fancy that the dolls I had made were no longer suitable; she wanted a nice large one, and insisted on praying for it.

I knew it was impossible, but, oh! how I wanted to give each child his present. It seemed as if God had deserted us. But I did not tell my husband all this. He worked so earnestly and heartily, I supposed him to be as hopeful as ever. I kept the sitting room cheerful with an open fire, and I tried to serve our scanty meals as invitingly as I could.

That morning before Christmas, James was called to see a sick man. I put up a piece of bread for his lunch–it was the best I could do–wrapped my plaid shawl around his neck and then tried to whisper a promise as I often had, but the words died away upon my lips. I let him go without it.  That was a dark, hopeless day. I coaxed the children to bed early, for I could not bear their talk. When Ruth went, I listened for her prayer. She asked for the last time most explicitly for her doll and for skates for her brothers. Her bright face looked so lovely when she whispered to me, “You know I think they’ll be here early tomorrow morning, Mama” that I thought I could move Heaven and earth to save her from disappointment. I sat down alone and gave way to the most bitter tears.

Before long James returned, chilled and exhausted. He drew off his boots. The thin stockings clipped off with them and his feet were red with cold. “I wouldn’t treat a dog that way; let alone a faithful servant,” I said. Then as I glanced up and saw the hard lines in his face and the look of despair, it flashed across me that James had let go too.

I brought him a cup of tea, feeling sick and dizzy at the very thought. He took my hand and we sat for an hour without a word. I wanted to die and meet God and tell Him His promise wasn’t true–my soul was so full of rebellious despair.

There came a sound of bells, a quick step and a loud knock at the door. James sprang to open it. There stood Deacon White. “A box came by express just before dark. I brought it around as soon as I could get away. Reckoned it might be for Christmas. ‘At any rate’ I said, ‘they shall have it tonight.’ Here is a turkey my wife asked me to fetch along and these other things I believe belong to you.”
There were a basket of potatoes, and a bag of flour. Talking all the time, he hurried in the box and then with a hearty good night, he rode away.

Still without speaking, James found a chisel and opened the box. He drew out first a thick red blanket and we saw that beneath it, the box was full of clothing. It seemed at that moment as if Christ fastened upon me a look of reproach. James sat down and covered his face with his hands. “I can’t touch them,” he explained. “I haven’t been true, just when God was trying me to see if I could hold out. Do you think I could not see how you were suffering? And I had no word of comfort to offer. I know now how to preach the awfulness of turning away from God.”

“James,” I said, clinging to him, “don’t take it to heart like this. I am to blame. I ought to have helped you. We will ask Him together to forgive us.”  We poured out words of praise–Bible words, for nothing else could express our thanksgiving.  It was eleven o’ clock; the fire was low and there was the great box with nothing touched but the warm blanket we needed. We piled on some fresh logs, lighted two candles and began to examine our treasures.

We drew out an overcoat. I made James try it on–just the right size–and I danced around him, for all my lightheartedness had returned. There was a cloak and he insisted on seeing me in it. My spirits always infected him and we both laughed like foolish children.

There was a warm suit of clothes also and three pairs of woolen hose. There were a dress for me and yards of flannel, a pair of arctic overshoes for each of us and in mine a slip of paper. I have it now and mean to hand it down to my children. It was Jacob’s blessing to Asher: “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days so shall thy strength be.”

In the gloves, evidently for James, the same dear hand had written: “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  It was a wonderful box and packed with thoughtful care. There were a suit of clothes for each of the boys and a little red gown for Ruth. There were mittens, scarf, and hood, and down in the center–a box. We opened it and there was a great wax doll!! I burst into tears again and James wept with me for joy. It was too much! And then we both exclaimed again, for close behind it came two pairs of skates. There were books for us to read–some of them I had wished to see–stories for the children to read, aprons and underclothing, knots of ribbon, a gay little tidy, a lovely photograph, needles, buttons, and thread, a muff, and an envelope containing a ten dollar gold piece.

At last we cried over everything we took up. It was past midnight and we were faint and exhausted even with happiness. I made a cup of tea, cut a fresh loaf of bread and James boiled some eggs. We drew up the table before the fire. How we enjoyed our supper! And then we sat talking over our life and how sure a help God always proved.

You should have seen the children the next morning! The boys raised a shout at the sight of their skates–Ruth caught up her doll and hugged it tightly without a word; then she went into her room and knelt by her bed.  When she came back she whispered to me, “I knew it would be here Mama, but I wanted to thank God just the same, you know.”

“Look here, Wife, see the difference!” We went to the window and there were the boys out of the house already and skating on the crust with all their might.  My husband and I both tried to return thanks to the church in the East that sent us the box–and have tried to return thanks unto God every day since.

Hard times have come again and again, but we have trusted in Him–dreading nothing so much as a doubt of His protecting care. “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”

Reprinted by permission from Lizzie at A Dusty Frame.   She typed it up from a very old book, The Sword Book of Treasures by Dr. John R. Rice, published in 1946 gem.

Do You Celebrate Advent?

 

Christmas Tree 2013Do you celebrate Advent?

Advent is a personal thing.

Perhaps you attend a denomination that celebrates with certain liturgical rituals.  That’s great.  Rituals bring meaning and reverence to our worship.  Perhaps your church doesn’t celebrate Advent.  Perhaps you’ve never even heard of Advent.

Advent is simply a way to focus our thoughts and our hearts on Jesus and the celebration of His birth, death, resurrection, and His offer of salvation to us.  It’s a time of reflection and heart searching.  It is a personal, holy thing.  What you do isn’t as important as what you do in your heart.

We light candles on an Advent wreath each night in December, read our Advent Book, pray, and on good nights, sing a carol.  Do we do it every night?  No.  We miss a few, but that’s okay.  We just pick up the next night and keep going.

I encourage you to focus on Jesus as the excitement of Christmas continues to mount.

Christmas Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage,

Laura

Christmas Gifts for Children… Precedence, Disappointment, and Gratefulness

I heard some mothers talking the other day about how their children were disappointed when they didn’t receive a lot of gifts for Christmas.  It saddened me.  I have a word that has guided my gift giving with my children.

Precedence…. What does that word mean to you?

I looked it up on http://www.dictionary.com/. As I was looking for definitions, most were related to law precedents. That tells me it’s a pretty strong word. I am most interested in the first definition that the American Heritage Dictionary presented:

“An act or instance that may be used as an example in dealing with subsequent similar instances. “
This is the definition that has been a guiding thought for me. In the past, my family has been much more affluent than we are currently. Nevertheless, I have always thought about the precedents that I am setting with my children when we give gifts for celebrate special days and holidays. For instance, even when we could afford it, and wanted to give my children their first bicycles, I would not buy such a gift for Christmas or a birthday. We don’t give many big gifts; we never have.

During the year, I look for gifts that I think they will enjoy. I put them away in a box until their birthdays, Christmas, or an I Love You day. Because I don’t give big gifts, they don’t expect them. Because I don’t give them often, they are thrilled when they receive one.

Does this mean my children are disappointed with their Christmas gifts?  On the contrary, they are happy with what they receive.  Thrilled in fact.

When we don’t set a high precedence of expectation, our children are free to be grateful for the gifts they do receive.  They can truly enjoy their gifts without thought of cost or quantity.

I love my children.  I am not required to give them gifts.  I want to give them gifts.  They know that.  They are thankful and enjoy the gifts because they know I am giving them out of love.

Just something to think about…
Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage
Laura
Keeping it simple for our Savior

More Christmas Writings…

Hello Friends,

I know we’re all busy with Christmas preparations and celebrating.  I invite you to take a break, grab a cup of eggnog or hot tea and spend a few minutes reading my Christmas writings.  I have two blogs, Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage and Harvest Lane Cottage.  I have Christmas writings on each of them.  The links to the Christmas writings are below.  Happy Christmas Friends!

Harvest Lane Cottage Christmas Writings

Laura of Harvest Lane Christmas Writings

Enjoy your Christmas preparations! 

Laura

Happy and Blessed to Be at Home with Family