The Morning After Christmas

Judging by a couple of our Christmas gifts to each other, Hubby and I think along the same lines.

Hello, Thursday Morning! I hope you had a wonderful holiday.

Though my family was a bit scattered this Christmas, we still managed to see everyone. The gift exchange is still in progress since some were out of town. Mom is still in the hospital, so she was unable to join us for the holiday celebration. When I got up this morning and headed to the kitchen, I found an “unintentional smile” waiting for me on the table.

I had packed all Mom’s gifts from the family in a box to transport to Lexington. You may think it’s silly because it actually is, but it gave me a reason to smile this morning. Sometimes, it’s the small things…

“It never hurts to keep looking for sunshine.” — Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday was very un-Christmasey for our neck of the woods. It was well over sixty degrees and sunny. Most of my family spent their day with the other side of their family, so Hubby and I had a quiet dinner. I was reminded of another Pooh-quote: “Any day spent with you is my favorite day. So today is my new favorite day.”

Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. I could have given in to sadness that we spent the day alone when so many others had a grand day filled with family and fun. But I made the choice to be happy in the day I was given and rejoice that I was not alone but spending the day with my favorite person.

As we enter the last week of 2019, my prayer for you comes from Psalm 20:

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings
    and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah

May he grant you your heart’s desire
    and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
    and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions! – Psalm 20:1-5 ESV

As always, thanks for stopping by!

 

Joy in the Morning

Joy. I just can’t seem to drop that theme.

Hello, Thursday Morning guests! It’s a fresh start moment. A new day. Glory awaits you.

Maybe it comes in the sunrise. Maybe in the first smile from a precious infant. For me, it’s the glow inside my heart. I can’t lose this feeling, and that’s a good thing.

It started with, “and when they saw the star…”

That was enough to get me started because I knew what followed. They rejoiced with great joy!

The coming of the Savior resulted in joy filling those who understood. Even before His birth, His presence within Mary’s womb filled the unborn John with such joy, he leapt in Elizabeth’s womb.

Okay, that’s joy, pure and simple.

Though our observances of Christmas can result in a temporary joy, gift-giving is a small part of the true celebration.

It’s the gift that has already been given that results in true joy.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” [1 Peter 1:8-9]

This is the season for joy. Maybe it keeps popping up for me because I was struggling. I dreaded the season. I wanted it over. You may feel that right now.

But when I saw the star…

When I read the scriptures and listened to my favorite Christmas songs, joy stirred within my heart. If you concentrate on you and your feelings, you’ll be depressed, plain and simple. So bundle up and step outside on a clear night. Look for the star.

Look within your heart. Lift a prayer to God. Read scriptures that instill joy and peace. Find a devotional to help prepare your heart for the holiday and beyond. These are things I did to get past the “woe is me.”

Once I stirred up the joy—true joy in my heart—peace followed. My prayer for you is that you will find that same peace and JOY and comfort. You are loved.

Note: Check out these devotionals in YouVersion (an online Bible app): A Jolt of Joy, (Carol Mcleod) and Ann Graham Lotz’s Jesus in Me. Or, you can find full versions of these on most bookstore sites.

A Thankful Heart

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m back after a short break. I haven’t had a blog post for a couple of weeks. But, hey! Time is rushing by so fast, you probably didn’t notice.

Today is one of my favorite days, Thanksgiving!

Early in the morning, I’m up, preparing the bird for the oven. Yesterday, I baked pies and made a couple of family favorites, anything that could be done ahead of time.

So, today, it’s all about the turkey! And family, of course. I love watching their faces as they bite into the food I’ve spent so much time preparing.

I’m so thankful for this time to spend with those I love. I know some of you don’t have that, and I’d like you to know, you’re on my mind and in my heart.

How to Write a Christmas Movie

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! The very busy month of November is now upon us. Can you believe it?

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and the air is filled with … Christmas music.

Are you a fan of Hallmark Christmas movies? I have to admit, I love watching some of them. Some. Of. Them.

I have to be careful not to overwatch because it eats up a lot of time that should be spent reading, writing, cleaning, cooking, etc.

There are benefits to watching Christmas movies. They can help you prepare mentally for the onslaught that we call “the holiday season.” They provide Christmas decorations so you don’t have to. Honestly, if I didn’t have grandkids, I wouldn’t bother.

I am not a Christmas fanatic. I tend to endure the holidays. Those roots run deep, and I really can’t tell you why.

But, I do enjoy the movies. Maybe I’ll write one someday, so you could call it research. 🙂

A pattern has emerged as I watch, and I’ve decided there must be a checklist involved in writing those things.

At some point in the story the couple:

  • Heads over the meadow and through the woods to cut down a tree (or maybe just the tree lot in town).
  • Puts up the tree.
  • Decorates the tree (may or may not involve the girl falling from a ladder into the guy’s arms).
  • There’s a snowball fight.
  • They build a snowman.
  • They create a gingerbread house, which may or may not involve a contest.
  • They make snow angels together.
  • Ice skating!
  • Enjoy hot chocolate together, often after ice skating or snowman building.
  • The “almost kiss”—that first kiss is always interrupted.
  • The small town they live in has a tree lighting, usually on Christmas Eve.
  • The town Santa is really Santa (in disguise). He knows things no one else could know and is often a matchmaker.
  • There’s mistletoe, often in unexpected places.
  • Snow falls, even in locations where it never snows, like Florida, or southern California (Christmas miracle!).

If I’ve left anything out, please feel free to comment!

And now, just so you’ll know I’m not a total grinch, my favorite Christmas movie among the Hallmark offerings is The Christmas Secret.

The casting is spot-on. I love the story and the small town of Wilsonville and Betty’s Bakery of course. I can almost smell those cinnamon rolls! Wilsonville is also the setting for another Hallmark Christmas movie, The Christmas Note.

Last-minute addition: A brand new movie this year, Two Turtle Doves, moves into my list of favorites. It’s heartwarming and intelligently written. I will be watching that one again.

Are you a reader or a watcher?

Would you rather read a holiday story, or see it in movie form?

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Have a blessed weekend!

Annabelle’s Oatmeal Cookies

Drought scarred maple tree and black cat.

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! This morning, I’m looking out at a maple tree that is trying its best to show off, even after forty days straight with no rain. We’ve since had a good bit of rain, but you can still detect the scars of drought on the tree’s leaves.

Can you see the black cat? It belongs to a neighbor, and I suspect it is watching for birds and squirrels at my feeder.

Just in time for Fall, I’m sharing a recipe from Annabelle’s collection. She loves to make these, because her neighbor, Tom Franklin, loves them.

If you’re new here, you may not know who Annabelle is and you may be wondering about it. She’s a sweet, middle-aged lady from the 1950s, who lives in my Kinsman Redeemer series of novels.

What’s so great about this recipe is, you can make the dough and put it in your fridge, then bake them later. You can even freeze the dough. The cookies are thin and chewy, kind of like lace cookies. They are wonderful served with hot tea or coffee. If you’d like a printable recipe, you can download it from my Facebook group page here: Betty Thomason Owens Readers Group.

Annabelle’s Oatmeal Refrigerator Cookies* – an old-fashioned, chewy, oatmeal cookie!

Ingredients:

½ cup lard (I prefer softened butter, but you can also use your favorite vegetable shortening)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1-1/2 tbsp. molasses
½ tsp. vanilla
7/8 sifted flour (that’s ¾ cup + 2 tbsp.)
½ tsp. soda
½ tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups rolled oats

Sift dry ingredients (except the oats) into a bowl and set aside. Combine the first seven ingredients (shortening through vanilla) in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon (you can also use a mixer). Add the sifted dry ingredients and stir well.

Add the oats to the mixture. Using hands, mix thoroughly. Note: Annabelle preferred the hand-mixing method. You can continue with a mixer or stir with a spoon.

Additions: Tom Franklin loves these cookies with raisins, so Annabelle mixes in about ½ cup of plumped raisins (she soaks them in hot water for a few minutes to plump them). You can also add chopped walnuts or pecans at this stage.

Mold the dough into a long, smooth roll about 2-1/2” in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper (or plastic wrap). Chill until stiff. This usually takes about three hours, or you can leave it in the fridge overnight.

Heat oven to 400°

Unwrap dough and using a thin, sharp knife, cut in thin slices 1/8” or 1/16” thick. Place slices on a greased baking sheet. Note: I prefer to use parchment paper on my baking sheets. It’s just easier! And I use a serrated electric knife to slice it. It works best if you have left the dough in the fridge overnight.

Bake until lightly browned (about 8 – 10 min.). Annabelle’s note: Watch these closely, you don’t want to burn them.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

[You can slice these thicker to make larger cookies, but they really spread, so leave lots of room in between]

*This recipe is adapted from one found in the 1950 version of the Betty Crocker cookbook.