It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A quote I like

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

All is calm, All is bright

Ah, Christmas night.  Time to just relax and savor the day and the Christmas season before we slip into the week between Christmas and New Years. I really do love this season and I hate to see it end.  I have to admit that I have found myself looking at it a little differently this year.  As I posted earlier I am mindful this year that in the midst of joy there are those who are experiencing sadness and pain and need comforting.  I've also come to view the Christmas story a little differently, too.

My Sunday School class studied a book with a DVD series.  I didn't agree with everything the author presented, but it did provide some thought provoking ideas.  It also caused me to re-read the story as presented in the Gospel of Luke without thinking of all the traditional thoughts and perceptions of the story.  It is a simple story with few details; if we had more details I think we would lose the mystique and the intrigue of the story.

The last lesson centered around the shepherds.  If you re-read the story you will note that it does not say that a big angel with a white robe and wings appeared in the sky fluttering its wings.  It does not say that a huge choir of cherub like angels appeared in the sky either.  It is very simple, an angel appeared to (or stood before) the shepherds.  As the author pointed out, the angel could have just walked across the hillside, right up to the shepherds.  There is no description of the angel either.  The choir is just referred to as "a multitude of the heavenly host" praising God.  Were there a thousand or maybe just twenty of them?  Were they in the sky or were they standing close by on the hillside?  The story doesn't tell us.  We just know the shepherds were directed to the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph by an angel and his companions. 
Think of Christmas simply, read the story just as it is, and know that God loves us all.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I know it is Christmas when...

the nandina berries bloom!
I've posted several pictures of these berries during the last few months, Nandina Berries and P.S. to the Nandina Berries post.  Now here they are, not as red as they are in some years but good enough for me.  Sadly, these were just about the only ones on the bushes this year (I'm sure the birds enjoyed the others!).

And, totally unrelated to Christmas but I'm posting anyway, remember the tomato plant that surprised me with the little green fall tomatoes?  Here are the four tomatoes, three are ready to eat, one almost.  I had almost forgotten about them when I went out one afternoon last week to prepare for a light freeze.  There they were, wearing their Christmas red colors.  I ate one in a wrap and it was delicious! A nice surprise! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


My manager tried to get me to agree to take off on Christmas Eve day this year.  Our office is only open a half day and he was kindly trying to offer me some time off (I've worked enough lately and appreciated the offer).  But I declined and then told him that I actually enjoy working on Christmas Eve.  The morning will go by quickly and then I'll have the afternoon to get ready for the actual Eve.  It is usually a quiet day, everyone will be relaxed and in the holiday spirit.  There will be a different attitude in the office, a sense of what is to come will hang in the air.  Anticipation. 
After our conversation I thought about why I like Christmas Eve.  In a way I think I like the day before Christmas even better than the big day.  Maybe it is the anticipation thing, looking forward to the big day.  That reminded me that that is what Advent is all about, really.  Looking forward and preparing for the coming of Christ.
Monday night I dropped by Cameron's house for a short visit (actually I was dropping off a large present for his parents to store for me).  He was so cute, dressed in his little pajamas and ready for bed.  I asked him if he was ready for Christmas, and, with a big smile on his face, he replied yes.  I then asked him if he was excited, yes again he answered (me, too I replied!).  I asked him if he was being good so Santa would come.  He hesitated, but still smiling, nodded his head yes.  There was excitement on his face, in the big smile.  Anticipation.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A week to go

It has been nice to have a long Christmas season this year.  I woke up this morning enjoying the fact that Christmas Day is a week away, most of my to-dos are done, and most of my major social commitments are done.  I actually feel like I can enjoy this next week, which is the way it should be. 
So, it's time to sit down with a hot cup of tea (or Gluhwein) and listen to Christmas carols while watching the lights on the tree.  I don't need the hustle and bustle, nor standing in lines in a store.  I don't need another party (after a while aren't they all the same?).  I've still got presents to wrap, grocery lists to make and maybe a batch or two of ginger snaps.  
Christmas is a beautiful time.  I'm thankful for a little time to enjoy peace and good cheer.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How Can There Be Joy?

Last week I had been rolling some thoughts around trying to get them organized into a post.  Simply put I was struggling with the thought of sad things that happen at Christmas time.  Several things happened during the week that caused me to be thinking of how we are wrapped up in the joy of the season but not everyone can experience joy because of events in their life.  A co-worker's military son was missing; a friend of Stephanie's from high school gave birth to a baby with complications that have left a lot of uncertainty about the baby's future; a Christmas card from one of my mother's cousins told of her daughter losing her job after 33 years.  How do you celebrate Christmas when there is sadness in your life?
And then on Friday came the horrible news of the shooting in Connecticut.  Stunned and horrified I had no clear thoughts, and certainly no words to write.  How do you explain the joy of Christmas when there is something this awful in our world.  How can you celebrate Christmas?
And, then today a friend sent me a prayer written by Max Lucado.  In his simple, easy to read style he brought it all into focus.  A Christmas Prayer
Jesus was born in a dark time; the Roman Empire was brutal and poverty was the norm.  But he came to bring light to a world cloaked in darkness and evil.  There is hope, there is peace, and there is joy. 
You just have to look beyond the darkness and see the light.
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;on those living
in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned
Isaiah 9:2

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And now...

Christmas can begin!

Now I feel like I can really start getting into Christmas and the Holiday spirit!  What's been wrong?  What's been standing between me and enjoying this wonderful season?  Well, I had this spreadsheets class I was trying to finish.  It should have been super easy but, wow, it was a doozy.  It was my fault that I got behind, and there was much work to be done.  I've done nothing but spreadsheets for the last 2 1/2 weeks.  Tonight I submitted the last project.  I'm done, it is finished.  I feel like a weight has disappeared from my life, I'm free!
As I celebrated this feeling of freedom tonight I realized that I understand why some people dread the Christmas season and feel so weighed down.  It is hard to get into the spirit of the season when you have something that is occupying all your thoughts and all your time.  If there is an obstacle in the path it blocks your way; same thing with Christmas. 
Now I can enjoy the lights on the tree, the glow of the Dicken's Village, think about making a new wreath and mailing out those cards.  Oh yes, there are a few parties and a Christmas concert to check off the calendar before Christmas Eve.  Most importantly, now that my thoughts are cleared I can focus on the real meaning of the season - celebrating the gift of the Savior.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When simple is better

I've cooked a few meals in my life, ha ha! I've done numerous large Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter meals over the years.  While I don't like everyday cooking, I do enjoy preparing a good meal to be shared over a table with family or friends.  One thing I've learned is that simple is better when it comes to a meal.  Planning, preparing, and cleaning up is more efficient when you begin with a simple plan.
After several Thanksgiving meals where I literally over did the food (lots of food, lots of complicated dishes, lots of calories) I decided that it was time to re-think the whole process.  This year's Thanksgiving meal I think I got the process under control.  It was very easy, I just had to remind myself that simple was better.
I made a cheese ball and crackers to munch on while we all gathered, note that you don't need several appetizers!  Of course the turkey was the main dish. I buy a fresh turkey every year; they are scrumptious! I resisted the temptation to order a 20 pound turkey this year and only bought a 16 pounder, much better.  I still had sufficient leftovers for sandwiches, soup, and some to go in the freezer.  I even made a note to myself that I could probably go even a little smaller next year.
Sides were limited to 9 x 12 inch dishes:  dressing, gratin potatoes, and a green bean casserole made by Stephanie.  Erin brought a spinach salad  and Carole brought brownies (made with our mother's recipe, they are sinful to say the least).  Let's see, what else.  Cranberry sauce, gravy, and rolls rounded out the meal.  We opened several bottles of wine starting with the presentation of the cheese ball, too!
That was all we had, and we all had plenty!  The dishes weren't complicated, they all blended together, and we didn't have an excess of eating or storing away leftovers.  It was an enjoyable meal and left all of us with a pleasant memory of Thanksgiving Day.  Simple is better.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Leaves on the pavement

November went by way to fast for me.  Just about every morning on the way to work I complained to myself that it was a beautiful November morning (my favorite month of the year) and I wouldn't have time to get out and enjoy the day.  Now it is December and the Christmas rush is gearing up.  I've really appreciated having an early Thanksgiving this year; it gave me a week to savor the days after Thanksgiving before rushing into Christmas.  It has been nice but I still felt that I missed out on November.

As I've posted before our fall color coincides with Thanksgiving and early December.  I've come to enjoy the combination of the two seasons; red bows with orange leaves are beautiful (add in a little yellow for accent and it's fabulous!).  Driving to church this morning it was a grey morning.  As I glanced down one of the side streets in the neighborhood I felt like it really was fall.  The sky was grey and the asphalt was grey.  But there on the asphalt were yellow and golden colored leaves scattered in groups up and down this street.  The trees overhead were various colors and completed the peaceful scene.  It started to mist a little, the finishing touch to a quick, beautiful glimpse of the season!