When Christmas Comes

Christmas comes, whether we’re ready or not.

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I hope the speedy approach of the holiday hasn’t frazzled you. If so, may the  “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, …guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7

This holiday season has been a struggle in our family. After a long illness and some heart issues, we thought Mom was no longer able to remain on her own. I was going to care for her. I made myself willing and available, even if it meant I had to pause my work.

Love sometimes requires sacrifices and hers would be as great as mine. Since Dad died, she has wanted to remain independent and she has, to a large degree. But with the decline of her health, we had come to realize she could no longer remain in her small second-story apartment. Alone.

I wasn’t ready for any of this. I was busily dashing to and fro, chasing that perfect gift for each name on my list.

But Christmas comes, ready or not.

If the list was never finished, my family would understand. Some changes are not to be missed. I had a feeling this would be one of them.

But something happened to interrupt our best-laid plans—something completely unexpected.

I was on my way to my weekly bookkeeping job, where I intended to turn in my letter of resignation. But, my heart wasn’t in it. That still, small voice was whispering and I felt uneasy, as though something was off, but what? So, I prayed, “Father, if this is not right, make it plain to me. Help me do the right thing.”

I had just pulled in to the bank to make my client’s weekly deposit when the phone rang. My brother was on the phone. He’d just taken Mom for her weekly doctor visit when he was going to ask the doctor about moving her. But, he didn’t end up asking, because her heart rate had normalized. She was showing signs of renewed strength, and the infection she’d suffered for almost three months was finally responding well to the daily IV antibiotics.

Because of this new development, my brother felt that it would be best to let her remain where she is.

. . . [Pause to Breathe].

God had delivered a miracle to us. He had healed her most dire health issues and strengthened her will.

We are still guardedly watching her, but for now, she’s rejoicing and feels that this is the best Christmas gift anyone could give her. A Christmas Miracle.

Published on http://www.InspiredPrompt.com

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!

Hello Thursday Morning Christmas Wish

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m enjoying my favorite Christmas coffee—right here at home—Sunergos Hearth Blend (a winter blend, think brown sugar, hazelnut & pomegranate). Yum!

This is a very busy week in most of our households. It is especially busy here. Mom’s birthday is the 21st—she’ll be 85. The 21st is also our 44th anniversary. Yes, not only did we get married close to Christmas, but on Mom’s birthday. How cool is that?

Not so great when the holidays come around and you have to hustle—really hustle to fit everything in. The anniversary? Sometimes gets forgotten, or pushed aside until another day or even another month. Not a big deal when you’ve been married a while. But it’s never forgotten or neglected completely because it’s very important to us.

Christmas is right around the corner. If you’ve been watching very many Christmas movies (or reading Christmas stories), you may be in for a let-down. Though some of those films are based on true stories, most of us don’t have the magical Christmases portrayed in those tales. Don’t let it discourage you. If you think about it, you’ll find those magical moments scattered throughout your life.

My prayer for you this Christmas is that you’ll be thankful, whether you have much or little, and that you’ll truly enjoy the season for all the right reasons. I pray for those who are suffering losses that you will know God’s comfort and the comfort of those around you. And remember, Christmas is a season that comes and goes. In a few days, a new year begins. Let the Word of God renew your strength—

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.—Isaiah 40:31 NIV

If you especially enjoyed one of this season’s stories, share it with us! Leave me a comment with the title of the movie, where you saw it, and why you loved it. Here’s mine: Christmas Secret (2014) Hallmark. I know it’s an older one, but still my favorite!

 

Doing Nothing Well

I’m really good at nothing. Hello, Thursday Morning friends! I’m so glad you’re here. I’m thinking again. Uh-oh. Right?

You know when someone asks you, “What are you thinking about?” and you say, “Oh, nothing”?

Is it even possible to think of nothing? Or to be thinking of…nothing?

You might think I’m being negative when I say I’m good at nothing, but you’re wrong. I am really good at (doing) nothing. In fact, I excel at it. If not for ole guilt, I’d spend a lot more time doing nothing. Thinking of…nothing.

But guilt keeps me going. Doing everything but nothing. The problem is, I tend to take on too much. You know the feeling? It’s a problem for many of us, especially this time of year. If you’re a mom, it’s magnified. Everything has to be perfect. You want your life to be a Hallmark movie. Or at least a little bit like one.

The Hallmark movies are like reading the condensed version of a novel. You see only the high points and low points and they wrap up quickly into forever love. All the extra stuff that goes on gets cut out. Life is not that predictable.

Yes, there are moments when you get to relax and breathe and enjoy relaxing and breathing. But those moments are B-O-R-I-N-G to everyone except self. Personally, I love those moments of nothing. Maybe because I know they are only scattered here and there throughout my busy, busy days.

But I’ve noticed something very important. If you’re too busy, if you say yes too many times, you may become overwhelmed. And then you’re really good at the negative nothing. You don’t have the time or the patience to be really good at anything. Or, if you do manage to accomplish all those things on your list and/or calendar, you’re probably going to be too tired to enjoy your accomplishments.

Then you’re going to DREAD the holidays because they represent negative things like failure and disappointment.

My advice to you, right now, before it’s too late, is to take a breath. Pause between the question and the answer. “Can you volunteer to do the decorations for the dinner?” “Will you head the committee to spearhead donations for that?” “Oh, and by the way can you also (insert task here)?? You’re just so good at that!”

Take a breath. Pause. Think it through. What will you remove from your list to make room for whatever you’re being asked to do? Maybe the more important question is, what’s your immediate gut reaction to the request? Is it a cringe? Go with that. Don’t wimp out. Say the word. “NO.”

Yes, the holidays come once a year. With good advance planning, you will survive them. If you haven’t made a plan, it’s not too late. Almost, but there’s still time.

Make a list right now, of THE most important things you need to do in order to have the kind of Christmas you really want for your family. Now, include your church family, or those outside your family with whom you are connected.

Next, go back over the list and prioritize the most important things. Keep the little ones in mind (if you have them). What will make their Christmas memorable? Hint: it’s not things. It’s probably time with you. Time, and a smile on your face.

I’m not slapping hands here. I’m reminding myself. My calendar is full and I have regular work and tasks to deal with on top of those. I’m dealing with a sense of dread. It’s too tempting to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage, a blankey, and a holiday movie. I have to remind myself that’s okay once in a while, but not all the time.

Well, coffee’s ready. I’m going to spend a few moments sipping, breathing, and contemplating nothing.

My calendar is full today. And tomorrow. And the next day. But, I’m keeping my eye on the prize of a stellar Christmas celebration.

Have a splendiferous weekend. May you find time to breathe and kick back, if only for a moment.

Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.–Luke 6:35-36 MSG