Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas is over. The presents that were so thoughtfully wrapped are tucked back under the tree and the wrapping paper, well, torn to shreds and in the trash barrel.

We had a wonderful Christmas this year. Despite living "in the "minute" rather than "in the moment" the two weeks leading up to December 25th!   Both of my parents had over a week stint in the hospital (Dad the week before Thanksgiving, Mom the 2 weeks before Christmas), so 2 weeks of preparation were lost.  Hosptial stays are exhausting if I do say so myself. I was over-tired doing nothing but sitting. I am glad to say they are both recovering wonderfully and I am not as exhausted as before. It's amazing how just sitting idle, adding in stress and worry will utterly exhaust a person.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day certainly came and went in a flurry. (no pun intended as we did have snow on Christmas) And even though the retail market is promoting "After Christmas" sales, Christmas is still alive and intact at the Schwark homestead! The trees are still twinkling, the music still rings of the season... I am letting it last through Epiphany. Well, most of the decorations will last. This weekend I will start to take down the Family Room tree as we are going to be working on the back hall off the kitchen. The rest of the house - Living Room etc will continue to sparkle for Christmas!

 Jim and I are blessed beyond measure by our family. Christmas night, as we sat in front of a crackling fire in the fireplace I got a bit emotional as I thought about how blessed we truly are... One reason I really wanted a family, when we were trying to have children, was to create a magical, picture perfect holiday for a child... one with both parents living under the same roof as husband and wife, as mom and dad. (coming from a broken home that was something I truly desired). God had His reasons for not allowing us to have children of our own, however, He did provide us with the Christmas family I so desired. Jim's family, my family... it might not be what I had envisioned, but it truly is a prayer answered!  It wasn't up to me to "create" a perfect family holiday... it was up to me to respond to Christmas and enjoy what God provided for the world on Christmas Day...

Here are a few photos from this Christmas - we had so much fun!

Niece: Stephanie Ann, Me, niece: Chrissy; Great Nephew: Chase

Nieces & Nephews
Kimberly, Isaac, Matthias & Sarah

It wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't get a kitchen gadget or two...

If you knew my sister... you would understand how true this statement is!!!!

Sister Melissa got a FoodSaver... Kimberly didn't quite understand why
someone would want to save food!  LOL

Soon I will tenderly tuck away my cherished ornaments and decorations... soaking in the memories of this Christmas as well as from Christmases past.  It's bittersweet... but until next season, I will hold Christmas in my heart everyday!

I pray you continue to enjoy what Christmas is all about.  That your celebration, no matter if things went as planned or not, was lovely!  I am looking forward to the year ahead!  I cannot believe 2011 is just around the corner!

Friday, December 24, 2010

1 CORINTHIANS 12 ~ A Christmas Version


Happy Christmas Eve, my friends! Darling Jennifer from over at Smelling Coffee , shared this on her blog and it was so good I wanted to share it with everyone as well! . It's a wonderful way of keeping the season in perspective as we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child.  I pray your Christmas Eve is full of all the riches the Lord has given you!

author unknown
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling
lights and shiny balls, but do not show love,
I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned mealtime,
but do not show love,
I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home
and give all that I have to charity,
but do not show love,
it profits me nothing.

f I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes,
attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata...
but do not focus on Christ,
I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things,

believes all things,

hopes all things,

and endures all things.

Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust,

but giving the gift of love will endure.

Much Love in Him!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas...

A Blessed Christmas from my home to yours!

Each December it's something I hope for, yes even pray for at times. A White Christmas. Well this year I get one of my Christmas Wishes! We have had snow on the ground for several weeks. God replenishes and whitens the landscape every few days with a new coating of the lovely white precip! The other night about 4 inches fell and it looked as if we were living in a snowglobe that God had shaken! Gorgeous Christmas Snow!

Thousands of years ago God did a different kind of shaking. He shook the world when He sent his son to dwell amongst us. To save the world from our fallen nature. To be in very nature not just true God, but also true man! 

This past Sunday, while in church the Lord put something on my heart... Our Pastor's sermon focused on Jesus as "Son of God" the sermon text focused mainly on John 1:14-18

There was so much "meat" to the sermon - one of the notes I wrote down as I was listening was this:
God wants to be known & wants us to know who He is. He wants to grow close to us and have a relationship with us. I focused on these words from John 1:14 "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.   God sent His son not only to save us, but to show us that He desperately wants a relationship with us. He sent Christ to dwell, as flesh and bone, among us. With that I started to think about Advent and Christmas. Thinking on this time of year from a Christian perspective not just a worldly perspective. This is a time of year we prepare for Christmas Day. We shop for gifts to present to our loved ones. We prepare our homes, we prepare menus, we go to parties, we celebrate the good things the Lord has given us. This brings me to what the Spirit put on my heart during worship yesterday morning. For a Christian we are in the season of Advent - we are preparing for Christmas. Christmas, on the Church Year Calendar, begins on December 25th and lasts 12 days. From the 25th of December to January 6th (Epiphany). For the "world" December 26th arrives and boom - the sounds of the season are gone, the sale tags go up, the trees come down,  Nativity scenes are wrapped with care, ornaments are packed and Christmas is over for another year. This has always brought a bit of sadness to my heart. I thought... how can I share Christ... how can I help those around me see that God wants us to know Christ? How can I share that Christmas isn't over on the 26th? One thing I decided to do is this... I will share a scripture verse, a line from a hymn or carol, a prayer etc. during the 12 days of Christmas on my FB status. For 12 Days in a row I will post something new to my status sharing Jesus. So... what does me sharing this idea with you mean??? I would like to encourage you to do that same. Share Christ every day from the 25th to the 6th on your FB status, your blog, or wherever you can. Something new everyday! 12 days in a row! If you are unable to change your status, or blog each day - don't beat yourself up, share when you can.  Your blog posts need not be long thought out messages. They can be brief and point straight to Christ! The one thing I know about each of you is that you do share your faith on your blog, on FB, and/or Twitter throughout the year... I am thankful and blessed to be journeying shoulder to shoulder, key pad to key pad with so many faithful, Christ loving women (and men)
As 2010 comes to a close, I pray that each of you are preparing your hearts as well as your homes for the coming of the Christ child. I pray whatever burdens, hurts, fears, praises and requests you have are presented and lifted to the Lord. That each of you and your families are wrapped in the love of Christ and you experience Heavenly peace. I pray that you let Christmas live in your hearts 365 days a year... that you are able to share Him in some way each an every day of the year with someone you come in contact with. Even if it's a kind word or a smile. Someone who I hold very dear once told me "You may just be the only Bible someone will ever read"... Each one of you is so special to me. I am thankful for Blogland, email and  Facebook - it's been a wonderful way to reconnect with old friends and meet new friends. As we journey this side of heaven I am grateful to be journeying with all of you!

Even if your Christmas doesn't have snow on the ground - may you hold tight to this promise of a white Christmas:
"though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow."  ~ Isaiah 1:18 

Glory to God in the Highest and peace to each of you as you prepare to make room for Him! Christ IS the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

I Love you all!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Settling in for a long winter's nap...

It's beginning to look a lot like.... WINTER!

Temps have plummeted into the single digits, wind chill has been sub-zero the past few mornings and a gorgeous blanket of snow has covered the ground. So thankful for a warm furnace (last year we battled being "furnace-less"), the roof over our heads, and oven to cook cozy, winter meals... oh and my coffee pot! Gotta have that coffee going! The halls of our home are all "decked" and I am enjoying the sparkling lights on our trees! So happy we got some beautiful Christmas snow! I'm a sucker for snow in the winter! If it's winter... it might as well snow. I was reminded of Isaiah 1:18 as I gazed out my kitchen window early this morning. "though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow." Such a wonderful promise to reflect on during this Advent season. It was still dark and the frigid temps made the snow sparkly! A beautiful sight indeed. More snow is forecast for tonight! After I work out I will hunker down in front of the fireplace and enjoy a toasty fire and some of my December issues of my magazines! A cup of Sleepytime tea will be involved as well.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods???? How are you coming along with your Christmas shopping? Are you baking cookies? Are you planning anything new and different this year? What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? I'd love to know! I hope you are ready to settle in for a long winter's nap... as I tell my friends who complain about winter and say I wish it were spring... "don't wish your life away." There is a season for everything under God! Embrace the seasons... He designed them!
Much Love