Top Ten Christmas Activities

What are your top ten Christmas activities?  I’m listing mine below  (in no particular order) and would love to hear from you!  Merry Christmas, and God bless us, everyone!

window_wreath_Christmas

Decorating the Christmas Tree and our whole house for Christmas.

I so enjoy home décor, period, but I get so much joy in pulling out meaningful ornaments and making my Christmas trees pretty.  I had planned to buy another tree for my dining room, but they were so expensive that I decided to wait for the after-Christmas sales.

Fortunately, my next-door-neighbors were tossing their tree because the lights weren’t working anymore.  They said I could have it, so I drug it across the street and put new lights on it.  I used only silver ornaments, while we used the other ornaments on our living room tree.  My “silver tree” is so beautiful–one of the prettiest I’ve ever had.  It lights up the whole dining room with it’s white lights and silver elegance.  (At least I think so!)

dish_foliage

Hearing my husband read the story of Jesus’s birth in Luke 2:1-20.

The story of Jesus’s birth is so beautiful.  The verses are like a balm in their rhythm and the hope they give us in our world.  I think people are more generous and kind at this time of year because so much is focused on our Lord, the Light of our complex world.

church_ornament

Baking Christmas goodies

.
Grandmother Lindsey (who lived just across the pasture from us, when I was growing up in rural south Alabama) used to always make the best in sweet Christmas goodies.  My favorite were her date balls, fudge, and divinity.  When I was supposed to be practicing the piano, I’d go swipe a piece between songs.  But I think she knew about it! 😉

Shopping for Christmas gifts for everyone.

Carefully selecting Christmas gifts for everyone is a favorite hobby of mine.  I like to get the best gifts at the best prices and be a good steward of my cash.

Santas1_edited-1

Crafting hand-made presents for family and friends.  Being crafty in wrapping gifts.

I am in my element, my happy place, my zone when I’m making presents for family, friends, and Princess Buttercup’s teachers.  Furthermore, I like adding just a little bit of creativity when wrapping my gifts.  I’d better get on it, actually.  I’ve got only 2 weeks till show time!

Singing Christmas carols.

We went caroling last year.  I did that for the first time when I was in college and loved it!  I want to get a brave group to sing in our new (as of June 2016) neighborhood.  Any volunteers?

Spending time with family and friends.

Spending time with those I love makes Christmas a special time for bonding and building memories.  It’s the time of the year that Lefty takes time off of work, and Princess Buttercup and I love that!

Opening presents.

I’ve gotta be honest…opening presents is just plain fun!

silver_ornament

Silver snowflake, a gift from my friend Kibbers.

Attending all the parties and eating all the good food!

We southerners are known for our food.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without the feasting.

SouthernLivingChristmas2017

Smiling and saying, “Merry Christmas” to people I meet.
</h1>Like I said for my second activity on the list, people are so much friendlier around Christmas time.  True, traffic can be a nuisance.  And true, we’re southerners, and people from other places say that we’re friendly, anyway.  But I think people are kinder around Christmas because so many more are thinking of the Light of the world, Jesus Christ.

A Trip on Noah’s Ark

lefty_stephanie_ark

“Ark Encounter is the largest timber frame structure in the world, built from standing dead timber, in part by skilled Amish craftsmen.*”

This past weekend, Lefty, Princess Buttercup, and I took a road trip with about 190 of our closest friends to board (wait for it…)

Noah’s Ark!

We all filled three charter busses (some drove) and made the 6-hour pilgrimage to northern Kentucky.

On Saturday morning, we loaded up and visited the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY.

After visiting the museum, we attended a devotional and finger-food fellowship

On Sunday, we all filled up the church to worship and enjoy a delicious fellowship meal (thanks so much, Grant County church cooks!). We then boarded the busses and drove to the Ark.

One of our ministers, Kyle Massengale, said that he was “awestruck” when he first saw the Ark from the entrance. “We could see the Ark in the distance on another ridge, and [our tour guide] asked us to estimate the distance between where our bus was located and the Ark. Some travelers were guessing 300 yards, and some said maybe a thousand yards, but when he said that we were over a mile and a quarter from the Ark, it was just overwhelming to then understand how large and massive the undertaking was.”

Kyle noted that the trip was very faith-validating. He said, “With Christianity being on attack at every turn, it seems, having a trip like the creation and Ark event really solidifies faith and shows that the Bible is consistent with science and the things we know concerning our world today.”

noah_ark_mockup

“510 feet long, 51 feet high, and 85 feet wide.*”

My take-away from the museum and Ark information:

While creationists and evolutionists are given the same evidence and facts, they approach them with two vastly different world views.

If you approach the facts (the fossils and other evidence) with a belief that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God, then the evidence unequivocally points to the universe being designed and created by God. However, if you are an evolutionist, the facts are skewed in a different direction.

Both world views require faith. The decision is ours. One of our members is a nuclear physicist who received his PhD from MIT. His career includes the Los Alamos National Laboratory & NASA. He was an atheist prior to a lovely story of his conversation in college. He points out that if we believe in God, then our world has meaning. If we believe in atheism, then we are just a bunch of molecules thrown together that react to stimuli, just like lumps of coal in a camp fire.

* SOURCE: https://arkencounter.com/exhibits/

husb_wife

What a “private” Ark room may have looked like.

down_the_deck

Huge wooden beams down the center of the Ark.

ark_ribbing

Wooden ribbing.

10 Bible Verses to Jump-start Your Week

2bible_oct25I don’t know about you, but my Monday is getting off to a very s-l-o-w start!

The weekend was so much fun, filled with family and friends, and now it’s back to work.

Never fear, here are 10 verses (or a collection of verses) to start our week out great–even if you are having a slow start, too!

  1. Romans 10:12
    “…the Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him…”
  2. II Corinthians 4:16
    “…Our inner man is being renewed day by day…”john14
  3. II Corinthians 5:20
    “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
  4. II Thessalonians 2:16-17
    “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
  5. I Peter 1:17-16
    “Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'”
  6. Isaiah 40:29
     “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”dumb_bells
  7. Psalm 7:10
    “My shield is God Most High who saves the upright in heart.”
  8. Psalm 9:1-2
    “I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you. I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.”
  9. Galatians 6:10
    “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”
  10. Philippians 4:8
    “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”

azalea

Communion

wine_communionI stand with the 900+ and raise my voice in song. The voices–a gentle, melodious roar.

Comfort that I’m surrounded by others with the same beliefs, same values as myself and my family. The words of the songs reflect a common goal: praise, worship.

We sit in unison and center our minds to a singular focus: the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord.

The prayer is said.

Silence. The wail of a child interrupts. Reminds me that somewhere in the gathering are young parents bent on raising their children like I’ve tried to raise mine. Affirmation.

A polished brass plate passes from my husband’s hands to mine. I break a piece of bread between my fingers. All over the world–maybe not at the exact same time–others are doing the same.

I feel the dry wafer in my mouth and consider the significance of this small act. I swallow how many times a day? But this time is different. Holy.

communion_bread

Silence again. I work to focus my mind.

Another meaningful prayer.

This time a polished brass tray is passed from my right. From my husband, who joins me as we take small plastic cups and lift them in solidarity. The plastic rim presses into my lips. A small taste. Bitter. Sweet. Like the death of our Lord.

It is over too quickly. Too quickly.

The most important moment of our week.

wine2_communion