Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Old Fashioned, Spiritual Christmas

"What has happened to the old-fashioned, spiritual Christmas? The cause is our disregard of Advent. The church set aside this four-week pre-Christmas season as a time of spiritual preparation for Christ’s coming. It is a time of quiet anticipation. If Christ is going to come again into our hearts, there must be repentance. Without repentance, our hearts will be so full of worldly things that there will be ‘no room in the inn’ for Christ to be born again.…We have the joy not of celebration. Which is the joy of Christmas, but the joy of anticipation."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Keeping Christmas

There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day,
and that is, keeping Christmas.

Are you willing…
     to forget what you have done for other people,
     and to remember what other people have done for you;

     to ignore what the world owes you,
     and to think what you owe the world;

     to put your rights in the background,
     and your duties in the middle distance,
     and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground;

     to see that men and women are just as real as you are,
     and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy;

     to own up to the fact that probably the only good reason
     for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life,
     but what you are going to give to life;

     to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe,
     and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds
     of happiness—

Are you willing to do these things even for a day?
     Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider
     the needs and desires of little children;

     to remember the weakness and loneliness of people growing old;
     to stop asking how much your friends love you,
     and ask yourself whether you love them enough;

     to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in their hearts;
     to try to understand what those who live in the same home with you
     really want, without waiting for them to tell you;

     to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke,
     and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you;

     to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings
     with the gate open—

Are you willing to do these things, even for a day?
     Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world—
     stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death—
     and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago
     is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?

Then you can keep Christmas.

And if you can keep it for a day, why not always? But you can never keep it alone.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Christmas is more than a time of music, merriment and mirth;
     it is a season of meditation, managers and miracles.

Christmas is more than a time of gaiety, greenery and gifts;
     it is a season of wonder, worship and wisemen.

Christmas is more than a time of tinsel, trees and toys;
     it is a season of preparation, prayers and peace.

Christmas is more than a time of festivities, family and friends;
     it is a season of generosity, gladness and gratitude.

Christmas is more than a time of carols, cards and candy;
     it is a season of dedication, direction and decision.

Christmas is more than Santa, stockings and surprises;
     it is Christ, care and concern.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Sunday of Advent

“The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton. In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart…The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.”

— Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark, pp. 2,3

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stumbling Into Grace

Humorous yet poignant stories from Lisa's life help readers relate to spiritual truths found in the life and ministry of Christ.   

Stumbling Into Grace is the diary-devotional of one woman's honest, ongoing, bumbling journey of faith and how she finds encouragement through a deeper understanding of Christ's time on earth. Within each chapter she alternates her often humorous memoir with stirring portraits of Jesus and his own encounters as recorded in the New Testament.

Both intimately relevant and refreshingly inspirational, this book will help readers to jettison the theological misconceptions, guilt, shame, and hypocrisy they struggle with, exchanging them for a vibrant, passionate relationship with Christ that results in a more abundant, joyful life.

**I was provided a copy of this book from BookSneeze. 

Today's Tidbit of "Helpful" Information: Grandma's Laundry Instructions

Some of these "helpful" tidbits are more humorous than helpful.  This one just makes me thankful for my two servants in the backroom - the washing machine and dryer!  I originally saved it because it was funny (I saved the original language and spelling) but now I'm thinking it might not be a bad idea to know how to wash clothes without a machine.  Who knows where God will send us?

Pitcure from allposters
Grandma's Laundry Instructions

  • Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water
  • Set tubs so smoke won't blow in yer eyes if the wind is pert
  • Shave one hole cake f lye soap in boilin water
  • Sort things; make 3 piles - 1 white, 1 colored, 1 pile of work breetches and rags
  • To make starch, stir flour in cool water to make smooth, then thin down with boiling water
  • Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, then boil
  • Then rub colored things, but don't boil, just wrench and starch
  • Take things out of kettle
  • Wrench and starch
  • Hang old rags on fence
  • Spread tea towels on the grass
  • Pore leftover wrench water on the flower beds
  • Scrub porch with hot soapy water
  • Turn tubs upside down
  • Go put on a clean dress, smooth down hair
  • Brew a cup of tea
  • Sit a spell and count yer blessings
**Original author unknown to me

I am in commando declutter mode around here. I have been clipping and saving little bits of helpful information throughout my married life....and that's it. Just saving them. Sometimes they are in my nightstand drawer, a folder, the junk drawer, the cookbook, etc. I know a great idea is to store them in a household binder but I am not even remotely interested in adding ANYTHING else to this house right now. So in an effort to rid my house of these little bits and bobs of paper, I'm going to post them here, like a cork own Pinterest, if you will.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Missions In Action

As you finalize your Thanksgiving prep over the next few days, cross the groceries off your list, polish the silver, make the name cards...see if there is something you can do without.  Some of our birds alone will cost nearly $38.  The amount it costs to sponsor a Compassion child.  

Maybe you're not hosting Thanksgiving this year but you're starting a list of Black Friday deals.  How about sponsoring a child through Compassion in your mother-in-law's name or your grandchild's name?  

I want to share with you a short (7 minute) video.

Missions in Action is an interactive web series that was created with the purpose to make a difference around the world. The team is:
  • traveling around the world to identify problems that people are facing.
  • highlighting the actions that individuals and/or companies are taking to help those in need.
  • providing a way for viewers to help out.

Right now, this team is in the Philippines. They have visited children and families who live in poverty in flooded villages in northern Manila.

It's kind of hard to worry about whether the orange in your dinner napkins matches the orange in your tablecloth after watching this video.  There is something each of us can sacrifice this month to find those $38.  Won't you join Compassion in helping one child find their way out of poverty?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

End of Molasses Classes

The boys and I recently listened to The End of Molasses Classes by Ron Clark.  I typically prefer paper pages over audiobooks but you simply must skip the hardback and listen to Ron tell the story.  I have been watching this man since he won the Disney Teacher of the Year award in 2000.

This book is a must-read for teachers and parents whose children go to a brick and mortar school.  Homeschooling parents can glean a lot from Mr. Clark as well.  I do not agree with everything he says, but keeping in mind his students and their background, you cannot help but admire Ron Clark and the entire staff, parents, and students at The Ron Clark Academy.

  In the audio version, Ron adds his trademark "y'all" and guffaws in his wonderful Nawth Carolina will be entertained beyond belief.  I laughed out loud at several parts and even teared up at several.  I'm not exactly sure but I'm pretty certain Mr. Clark even chokes up a little at the end. 

Check it out and see how you can get your own kids unstuck!

Monday, November 14, 2011


I recently read "Sold" by Patricia McCormick.  This was one of those books where it sickens you to read it but you can't sit by and pretend it doesn't happen.

The fall issue of "Compassion Magazine" published by Compassion International highligted this topic as well.  Wess Stafford writes, "...for a girl to be enslaved in a Bangkok brothel, an awful lot of things had to have been wrong upstream in her young life, and we at Compassion believe there is an equally compelling, powerfully strategic approach called prevention.  It may have less 'marketing' sizzle, but it is our goals to make sure children and families don't fall into that trap in the first place."

I love this thought, because the first thing you think of when you finish Sold is what you can do to help to end this awful thing that is happening, not only around the globe, but right here in our neighborhoods as well.  And the next thing you feel is defeat because you can't possibly save these children.  But God did not give us a spirit of timidty but a spirit of love, of power, and of self-control.

We can't help all of these girls (and boys), but we can help one at a time.

"There are 27 million people living as slaves in our world today. That is far more than were enslaved when William Wilberforce fought for the abolition of slavery in the early 1800s." 

"In the United States, one in every three little girls is sexually abused before her 18th birthday, and one in every six little boys."

Compassion partners with local leaders in these poverty-striken cities where "children are kidnapped or recruited for prostitution".  When children enter the child development program, they are surrounded by staff and volunteers who are trained in and committed to child protection.  Compassion is equipping its center directors and staff, with training and resources, to be able to help and protect children from sexual abuse.

Please consider sponsoring a child through Compassion today.  You can participate in the Child Survival Program, which provides prenatal care, immunizations and education to expectant mothers.  You can participate in the Leadership Development program by helping a young Compassion-assisted man or woman attain their Undergraduate degree, then return to their community to influence their family, church, community, and nation.

2 children are sold into the human sex slave trade every minute.  You can prevent this by helping a child from "extreme poverty to enough".

Today's Tidbit of Helpful Information: How Do I Clean...?

"Daily cleaning is tough enough, but it's the once-in-a-while jobs that can really stump me.  Removing the smudges from wallpaper can be just as daunting as cleaning the whole living room.  TO get through your next cleaning quandary, use this short list of quick tips so you can spring into action.

Candle wax on wood surfaces. Can be removed in two ways: Soften with a hair dryer for a few seconds, then wipe with paper towels.  Or use a stiff piece of cardboard to scrape off in the direction of the grain.

Stuck contact paper.  Wave a hair dryer set on warm back and forth for a few seconds about 6 inches away from paper.  The adhesive will loosen and you can lift the paper up.  If residue remains, remove by wiping with a soft cloth moistened with a little paint thinner.

Crayon or tar on hardwood floors. Freeze by applying ice, then crack into fragments and scrape them away with a wooden ice pop stick or your fingernail.  If residue remains, remove by carefully wiping with a damp cloth and a dab of toothpaste/

Mildewed grout. Make a paste of baking soda and warm water, apply to grout with an old toothbrush.  Let sit until dry then wipe off.  If stain persists, rub with a cotton ball soaked in bleach, then rinse well.

Grease spots behind stove. Rub with heavy-duty household cleaner and a plastic scrubbing pad.  When the wall is clean, apply a coat of paste wax.  Future spots will come off easily.

Finger smudges on vinyl wallpaper. Gently rub with an art gum eraser (found in art supply stores).

Greasy dirt on mini blinds. Put on a pair of old cotton gardening gloves.  Dip them in a mixture of household clean and warm water.  Then run your fingers along each slat, top and bottom.  Rinse.

Soap scum on shower door.  Wipe with a solution of white vinegar and warm water, or spray with laundry prewash.  If scum is heavy, scour with a nylon scrubbing pad.  Rinse.

Dirty patio door tracks.  Wrap a terrycloth rag around a screwdriver, spray with an all-purpose cleaner and make several passes along the track.

Grimy portable fan.  Unplug before cleaning.  Vacuum dust off the grille with the brush attachment.  Use a hair dryer (on cool setting) to blow dust off the blades inside.  If you can remove the grills, wipe the blades with a household cleaner and a damp cloth.  Dry thoroughly, then replace grille.

Musty picnic cooler.  Shake baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub the inside.  Rinse off with warm water, dry with a soft towel, then prop open and air-dry for a few days.  Clean the outside with a mild soapy solution.

Dusty drapes or curtains.  Remove any hooks or rings and run the window treatment through the dryer on the no-heat setting with a damp towel to attract the dust.  Rehang immediately to prevent wrinkling."

From Woman's Day magazine (date unknown)

I am in commando declutter mode around here. I have been clipping and saving little bits of helpful information throughout my married life....and that's it. Just saving them. Sometimes they are in my nightstand drawer, a folder, the junk drawer, the cookbook, etc. I know a great idea is to store them in a household binder but I am not even remotely interested in adding ANYTHING else to this house right now. So in an effort to rid my house of these little bits and bobs of paper, I'm going to post them here, like a cork own Pinterest, if you will.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Today's Tidbit of Helpful Information: Sprayed By A Skunk

I am in commando declutter mode around here.  I have been clipping and saving little bits of helpful information throughout my married life....and that's it.  Just saving them.  Sometimes they are in my nightstand drawer, a folder, the junk drawer, the cookbook, etc.  I know a great idea is to store them in a household binder but I am not even remotely interested in adding ANYTHING else to this house right now.  So in an effort to rid my house of these little bits and bobs of paper, I'm going to post them here, like a cork own Pinterest, if you will. 

Today's Tidbit of Helpful Information: Sprayed By a Skunk
If your pets were sprayed by a skunk, don't bother bathing them in tomato juice.  That only masks the odor of the skunk spray.

Instead, try a mixture of 1/4 c. baking soda, 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide and 1 tsp. liquid detergent.  This will neutralize the skunk spray, but may also slightly bleach your pets fur.  Don't worry, it won't hurt you pet and the fur will grow out.

NOTE: Do not store this mixture in a closed container.  Oxygen is released and could cause the container to break.  Mixture must be used immediately to be effective.

*From Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Local Christmas

I received this email just minutes ago and I usually roll my eyes at "Buy American" broo-ha-ha but I love the message of this.  Let's buy local, not from big box stores.  Let's buy (or even better - GIVE) services instead of stuff.  I am not even getting on my soapbox this year - just going to share what the email said.

"Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.

This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift-giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber? 

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American-owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the
summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half-dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains --this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US (Uh, Towngirl here...technically Christmas is still about Jesus), encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition."

What are some other things you can think of to give that would support your local community?  I heard of a mother who gives each of her children a cord of wood for Christmas - love it.  I still really love Anna's idea of a Christmas trip instead of gift, you can stimulate another town's economy by eating local and staying in an owner-run establishment when you are there.  I'm quite sure your adult children would love a weekend away!  How about a gift certificate to your local optometrist for an eye exam or glasses? 

Don't forget when you are buying your food and decorations for the holidays, someone that forwarded the email to me reminded me to buy flowers from local florists instead of FTD.  Can you find a local source for your turkey?  I just saw an ad in our local paper yesterday advertising homegrown turkeys plus we have a huge local turkey farm here.  It's more expensive but in the long run it's worth it.  Local eggs, pay a local baker to bake your rolls if you're going to buy them anyways.  The list could go on and on.

What are some other gifts you can give that would support your local community?