Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas in France!

A friend, who I love dearly, recently shared with me how she wisely saved her money to accomplish and fulfill her dreams!  She said part of the fun of wanting to do something new in life was the dreaming!  I thought that was pretty neat, especially the part about saving for the dream. Dreaming actually costs us nothing but time and when we dream our imagination can go wild!  This is something I always tried to encourage in my children, dreaming BIG!  There are truly no limits in life.  A dream for me began as a desire simply to visit my daughter, Kara, when she and her husband were married and living in England.  At the time, I had never traveled abroad so I spent several months planning and dreaming and learning.  Today, it is my joy to share with others how simple it is to travel abroad and learn new and beautiful cultures different from our own, yet similar in many ways.  Along the way, I fell in love with France and truly all things French!  So.....come on along and let us learn together about Christmas in France!

In France, heralding the holiday season is St. Barbara's Day, December 4th, when water soaked wheat grains are placed in dishes and set to germinate.  An old Folk legend predicts fast growing grain to mean good crops for the coming year. *

The religious accent is strong upon all French Christmas customs.  A miniature nativity scene, called a "Crèche" is arranged by the children and placed in the home.  The crèche is artistically lighted for the magnificent religious services when age old hymns are sung, incense burned , and bells rung.  Following the midnight mass, all partake of "reveillon", a luxurious meal of oysters and special wines and sauces.

A giant wicker figure, "Melchior", named after one of the three Magi, has a basket on his back and is dressed in fantastic garb.  Strapped to a donkey, he is paraded from door to door to gather whatever foods the generous May give.  A candle is lighted at the church which beckons all the poor of the parish to come and receive of these gifts brought to the church by Melchior.

YES, I do love France and all the beauty of this blessed season reminds me once again that no matter where we live, giving in a generous way is still what makes us human and truly extending the hand of Christ Jesus.  May we all have an opportunity to share Christmas blessings!

Today on my blog I am giving away a mounted photograph I took in Paris of the Eiffel Tower!  Just send me an email at for a chance at the drawing!  I will select a winner on Friday, December 20th!

*source: Ideals, published in 1949

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Giving the GIFT of LOVE......

Christmas is just a week away now!  Most of us have written our sentiments in our Christmas cards and addressed them to friends and family!  Gifts have been selected and wrapped or, if you are like me, waiting to be wrapped!  This is the time when last minute touches are being carefully finished around the house and afterwards it seems the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree take on a wonder all of their own!  All around us, people are in the hustle and bustle.  This year, like every year since Jesus was born in a manager in Bethlehem, there still are some people just too busy to hear the greatest story ever told!  The story of how Angels proclaimed that Christ had been born!  Mary, had brought forth her first born Son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manager, because there was no room for them in the Inn.  No room for the Savior who had been born gloriously to redeem the world from sin.  The Angels proclaimed good tidings of great joy which was for all people then AND for all people now!  God's gift of glory, Jesus, had come to earth and every Christmas since then, men and women of Faith continue to lovingly proclaim the message of LOVE and of HOPE and redemption found in Jesus!  The Holy Scriptures teach us that all those who heard then and hear now marvel at this truth told by the Shepherds who were simply going about their business on that glorious night of tending their sheep.  Yes, they were on the job, so to speak, but their hearts were soft and tender enough to hear and to witness and BELIEVE!  Oh, how I want to be available to hear when God sends a message of HOPE!  Let us draw near and be still so we can hear!!!

May the next few days leading up to Christmas give a desire for a full spirit of LOVE for the Lord Jesus! The greatest gifts we can share cannot be wrapped in a box with paper. Our greatest opportunity is to give of ourselves!

Psalm 92:4 "For You, O Lord have made me glad by what You have done.  I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands!"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Simple and Beautiful Change......

The Lord knows our names, the number of our days, and where we are to spend each one of them!  Sometimes it seems He just gives us too few days to spend with someone dear to us.  "The Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want.....He guides us in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."  Psalm 23

I admit, I am a sentimental person.  It's hard for me to part with people I love and care about and it is hard for me to let go, but I do and usually, it's finding something productive in my life that helps me to move forward and exclaim....."everything will be okay."  Change is good for all of us in our lives.  The ocean is a wonderful analogy of is constantly moving and the tides and waves roll in and out and bring a freshness and a calmness that change can be beautiful if we take the time to stop and look and especially listen.  It's almost soothing and can lead us in those paths of righteousness that David was speaking of in the 23rd Psalm.  There is a renewal that accompanies change.

Change brings me to this picture.....someone needed a change and decided to part with this table!  Can you believe it?  My husband has an eye for vintage and antique furnishings that he knows I will bring back to life, of course with his help.  When he first brought this table home, it was cracked across the top, two legs were broken and it looked like it had seen it's better days and where it would spend its future, discarded...... While furniture comes and seems it rarely does with us!  We find something, and decide to  try and make something beautiful out of it!  Swedish furniture is often times painted and it seems that we have really been into painting furniture lately!  Painting does cover the unsightly blemishes of something with a bit of age, plus it gives the piece depth and detail. This is exactly what we found with this table and every detail appeared as we painted it for the ultimate dinner table for entertaining.  I've prepared the table for an early dinner with a wonderful friend.  As you see, it doesn't have to be an elaborate production to be a beautiful evening.  Something small and modest can be very nice.  Yes, simple can be lovely.  Entertain your family and friends for truly, we do not know how long they will be in our presence!

I leave you with a beautiful thought by Mother Teresa. "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God's kindness."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lighting A Candle.....

Have you ever faced a difficulty so large that the impossible lurked in your mind? Perhaps something you've been praying for is delayed. Maybe you've looked at the situation, considered the options and felt overcome. The children of Israel faced a similar delay when God spoke to Moses and told him to lead the Israelites to the promised land to a place flowing with milk and honey. Joshua and Caleb were two of the mighty men sent to spy out the situation they were facing as they sought this new land. Caleb declared, "Let us go up at once and take possession for we are well able to overcome it." Numbers 13:30 What faith! He knew they had the power to overcome, a capacity to prevail and succeed. However, the spies Caleb sent to survey the situation brought back a bad report, complaining about giants in the land who were stronger than them. They wanted to give up! But Moses and Aaron after hearing of these giants in the land of Canaan, fell on their faces before the Lord. These faith filled men did not deny the difficulty of defeating giants, but sought instead the POWER OF GOD in the face of their problem. Caleb stood his ground and later, even though delayed, ultimately brought victory. God is able to bring you through any situation into a land flowing with milk and honey. In my own life, I have seen it! We have been faced with situations that seemed impossible to overcome, but we did with the salvation of the Lord. Let the power of the Living God work in your life today.... "They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed." Psalm 34:5 The Christmas season brings much hope and joy because Jesus has overcome a cruel world and we too can have the peace and joy right now...even a prayer request has been delayed, an answer will come. God will find a way to meet your every need. As you go out, take your faith and the Light of Jesus with you! Even a small gesture, such as lighting a candle in your home can be a reminder to you of God's good and shining light and that He is faithful in every situation. He is shining bright! Blessings to you dear one during Christmas and always!!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

San Francisco and Napa Valley......Celebrations of LOVE!

 I spotted this table and loved the French influence!
Beauty everywhere in Napa Valley!

My husband and I are blessed with a large and sweet family!  We love being together, although the times seem to be rare the past two years.  We make the most of the times we are all together!   For someone like me, who enjoys elegance and preparation for a dinner party, I must say I enjoy the spontaneity our children bring to our lives!  They are so fun when they are all together! 

I met my husband, by accident (another story), when I had just turned 18.  I was a freshman in college and really  had planned only to finish out the semester and transfer closer to home and my family! But........ He was so much FUN from the beginning!  Fast forward forty years and here we are today, five children, five spouses, and six grandchildren.  Blessed totally!  Our five children planned a wonderful holiday for us to San Francisco and Napa Valley, California to the Napa Wine Country!  We had a wonderful time and we appreciate so much the spouses giving of their time for the weekend also!  The highlight was just being together, laughing, enjoying San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Sausalito, California for it's wonderful seafood and the beautiful homes and the views!  Listening as they shared their memories of childhood, the memories of the teenage years, the wonderful spouses they all share their lives with now, and their children were the topics of the weekend!  So much thankfulness fills my heart!!!!  We have been blessed, truly!  Families are forever! 

 "I sing for JOY at the works of Your hands"  Psalm 92:4 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Looking UP......

Early this morning on my walk, I was thrilled to see a beautiful rainbow, which honestly just appeared! I so wished I had carried my camera!!!   It was vibrant and unexpected. It appeared for about ten minutes and disappeared....long enough for me to thank my Heavenly Father for the beauty.  Another two to three minutes passed, and another one popped up on the opposite side.  I am sure it was the same rainbow but only visible one side at a time.  The glorious beauty of the rainbow at times can be overwhelming for me.  This is the time of year filled with busyness.  People are shopping, partying, eating and drinking and enjoying every possible event on the list!  These are wonderful activities and they can be so fun.

Home and being with family and friends still is my favorite place to be during this Christmas season. We must slow down in order to hear and see all that our Heavenly Father has to give us as His gifts in life.  My heart is to serve HIM and to KNOW HIM in all his fullness!  This morning as I was looking UP,  God's GLORY appeared in the sky!!!  May you have a beautiful day and may you look UP!!!

"My voice you shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to you. And I will Look UP!" Psalm 5:3