Archives For December 2012

108552102It’s that time of year when many people get the itch to organize their spaces.  Many of us decide we need to get things in order by purging or saving items throughout our house.  I love to organize.  Yes, I am one of “those” people.  Throwing things away is something I specialize in but is a skill that is considerably unappreciated.  Teachers write “save” on papers that will be needed at a later time as I may or may not be guilty of pitching several homework assignments.  Organizing the kid’s toys has initiated numerous questions such as “Where did my stuffed ice cream go that I won at the fair 7 years ago?  I need that!”  Not even the hubby is grateful when he finds some of his clothes suddenly “lost.”  I can’t understand why everyone gets so testy when I simply say I want to organize.  153493425

Now before you think I’m only chummy with the trash can, I want to proclaim I am also friends with the storage box.  I save items such as the story my son wrote about 10,000 babies following him to school and causing such a ruckus, they are all asked to leave.  Now that’s a keeper.  I also have crayon drawings, clay creations that I can’t identify, and itty bitty shoes my kids wore as infants that I just can’t relinquish.  I’m just very particular about an item’s worthiness to save.

stk130592rkeYou may not be as maniacal as I am when it comes to saving and pitching but when you organize, there is a need to deliberate over material possessions and whether to keep or pitch.  Choosing to save or pitch items and getting things in order improves our spaces.  But we shouldn’t stop at only our living quarters.  Just as we set aside time to contemplate our material possessions, we need to take time to ponder our inner selves.  Our character traits.  Some traits are beneficial and worth saving while others are worthless and should be pitched.  Let’s not only look to improve our outer spaces but also our inner character.

Here are 12 character traits that are worthy of saving or worthy of pitching:

1.  Pitch worry – “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”                   ~ Matthew 6:27

2.  Save trust – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  ~ 1 Peter 5:7

3.  Pitch gluttony (overeating) – “For drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”  ~ Proverbs 23:21

4.  Save self-control – “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

5.  Pitch judging – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”               ~ Matthew 7:1-2

6.  Save love – “..for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..”  ~ Romans 3:23;  “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  ~ 1 Peter 4:8

7.  Pitch unforgiveness – “If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you.  But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”    ~ Matthew 6:14-15

8.  Save compassion – “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  ~ Ephesians 4:32

9.  Pitch laziness – “A farmer too lazy to plant in the spring has nothing to harvest in the fall.”  ~ Proverbs 20:4

10. Save exercising mind and body – “Christ gives me the strength to face anything.”         ~ Philippians 4:13

11. Pitch guilt – “How far has the Lord taken our sins from us?  Farther than the distance from east to west!”  ~ Proverbs 103:12

12. Save innocence – “But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.”  ~ 1 John 1:9;                                                                             Prayer:  “Lord forgive me of my sins.  Thank you for Jesus dying on the cross to take the punishment for my sins.  I accept Him as my Savior today.”

These are traits I will be dealing with in the coming year.  Will you join me?  This process may be ongoing.  We may have to “pitch” and “save” daily but every day is a new day.  The past is past so let’s forgive ourselves of the mistakes we made yesterday and give our best to today.

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Will you be blessed to have the family home on New Year’s Eve?  Looking to start some new traditions?  Here are 10 ideas for your family to enjoy at home.

  1. Decorate your space with streamers, balloons, and ribbon.
  2. Buy New Years Eve hats for each person and ask everyone to dress as if they are going out to a New Year’s Eve party.
  3. Hold a dance party. Let the kids play DJ, clear the furniture, and dance the night away.  Depending on the kids taste in music, you may want to have some Tylenol on hand.
  4. Share your own “Family Year in Review.”  Watch the family videos made and look through pictures taken in the past year.
  5. Ask each person for their highlights and lowlights of the year.  Catch it on videotape to have a lasting record of what happened throughout that year.  A popular New Year’s Eve tradition in Mexico invites each person to write the negative things that have happened in the past year and then burn it, letting go of all those past feelings and problems.
  6. Provide paper and pens so each person can write the goals they would like to accomplish over the next year.  Place a copy in each person’s stocking.  When the Christmas tree is decorated next year, each family member can review and determine the progress made on his/her goals.
  7. Play games.  Nothing brings a family together and provides memories like playing a game.  It can be an indoor game, board game, or electronic game.  Your family may even enjoy having a tournament with many different types of games.
  8. Eat!  Provide lots of treats, goodies, and foods to choose from throughout the day.  Make sure items that need refrigeration don’t sit out for more than 2 hours.
  9. When midnight rolls around, leap into the New Year by jumping off the kitchen chairs.
  10. Toast in the New Year with sparkling grape juice.

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©2012 Connie Davis Johnson

Turtle Bars

December 27, 2012 — 2 Comments

Chocolate, pecans, caramel?  Yes please!!  Of course, I could have stopped at “chocolate” and been happy!

101_4914Ingredients:

1 package crescent roll dough (8 count)

2/3 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

8 ounce chopped pecans

12 ounce package chocolate chips

Directions:

1.  Press crescent roll dough in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.  Be sure to pinch edges together.

2.  Melt butter and brown sugar in saucepan, stirring constantly.  Boil for 1 minute.

3.  Pour mixture over crescent roll dough.

4.  Sprinkle chopped pecans over dough.

5.  Bake at 375° for 15-18 minutes.

6.  Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then swirl to melt.

7.  Refrigerate 1 hour before cutting.

8.  Cut into bars and store in refrigerator.

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Spirit of Christmas

December 26, 2012 — Leave a comment

 

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Merry Christmas

December 25, 2012 — Leave a comment

 

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Good News!

December 24, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Broken OrnamentChristmas morning came and two of our three children were sick.  Only 2 and 4 years old at the time, it was miserable for all of us.  The Christmas morning I envisioned of excited kids bounding down the stairs tearing into presents was replaced with kids dragging down the stairs, collapsing on the floor, not caring about the gifts under the tree.  It was heartbreaking.

Reality had once again collided with my expectations and won.

My expectations are always grand for holidays.  However, they rarely turn out as imagined.  Hospital stays, burned dinners, temper tantrums, broken toys within an hour of opening, forgotten batteries for electronics, Christmas trees falling, napkins catching on fire from candles, and many more ludicrous happenings have played into destroying my well laid plans.

However, even when the ridiculous happens, the holidays can still be wonderful and memorable.  When chaos threatens your holiday plans remember:

  • The holiday is not ruined – Think back to some of your most treasured memories.  Are those memories because everything went according to plan or were they made in the midst of chaos?  Many of our cherished memories are rooted in the center of craziness.  We may be forced to change or even postpone our plans but that does not mean the holiday is ruined.  Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus.  This can be done by attending a church service or simply reading the Christmas story from the bible.  When we celebrate Jesus, it’s a successful holiday no matter what happens.
  • There’s always Plan B – Being a mom, I sometimes feel like I live in Plan B mode.  A night curled up on the couch with hot chocolate and a movie is almost always interrupted with, “Mom I need a ride to so and so’s house,” or “Mom, I have to chart every star in the sky for Science on fuchsia poster board and it’s due tomorrow!”  When Plan A turns to chaos, we automatically kick in with Plan B.  Holidays are no different.  When my father-in-law was in the hospital on Christmas, we postponed our celebration until he was released after the New Year.  Another year, when dinner was burned, we laughed and got out the lunchmeat.  There’s always Plan B when we look for it and most times can be just as fulfilling or even better than Plan A.
  • Celebrate “Now” – The past is over, the future is not yet here.  All we have is “now.”  Live in it and accept it for what it is without disappointment over what could have been.  Memories are made in the “now” moments.  Make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in at that moment.  Concentrate on the people around you at that moment.  Release your need to control the situation at that moment.  Taking control of thoughts and not allowing the “if only’s” to enter our minds, we avoid disappointment and welcome the joy of that moment.

Jennifer Rothschild, a Christian speaker and writer who went blind as a teenager says, “It may not be well with my circumstances but it is well with my soul.”  We, of course, need to plan for the holidays.  But if those plans go awry, all can still be well with our soul.  When we realize the holiday is not ruined, we welcome Plan B, and celebrate the “now” of the moment, we can find joy and even make lasting, precious memories.

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Traditions change over the years but they always stay near and dear to our hearts.  Here are 20 Christmas tradition ideas:

  1. Listen to Christmas music every day throughout the season.
  2. Shop!  Although, this would NOT make my husband’s list of favorite traditions.
  3. Sled – if there’s snow.  Or go grass sledding.
  4. Make hot chocolate and watch Christmas movies while cuddling on the couch.
  5. Eat Christmas goodies.  Lots and lots of Christmas goodies!
  6. Drive through a local light display.
  7. Volunteer as a family at a local soup kitchen.
  8. Leave an anonymous gift on a neighbor’s doorstep on the night of Dec. 5 for Saint Nicholas Eve.
  9. Open one gift on Christmas Eve.
  10. Play family board games Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
  11. Give each child a new ornament every year.
  12. Read The Polar Express and Twas the Night Before Christmas as a family.
  13. Track Santa at http://www.noradsanta.org/en/
  14. Christmas Eve slumber party.  Allow the kids to sleep in one room together.
  15. Leave cookies and milk for Santa and scatter magic reindeer food.
  16. Attend a Christmas Eve service.  My favorite tradition growing up was the 11:00 pm candlelight service at church.  Beautiful Christmas music, the Christmas story, and sharing it with family and friends.
  17. Read the Christmas story from the bible in Luke 2.
  18. Share a candlelight Christmas dinner.
  19. Enjoy cake and ice cream to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
  20. Blow out a birthday candle and sing happy birthday to Jesus.

What would you add to the list?

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Christmas Mess

December 19, 2012 — Leave a comment

 

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I have a wonderful husband who makes this pie for me each year on my birthday in December.  Although it would probably be more appropriate at Thanksgiving, I’m not complaining.  This is my favorite pie.  Unfortunately, my kids love it too.  So I always request 2 pies and he happily obliges – once a year.

101_4907Ingredients:

3/4 cup cold milk

1 package (4 serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling

1/2 cup solid pack pumpkin

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups Cool Whip whipped topping (thawed)

1 (6 oz.) ready-made graham cracker crust

Directions:

 

1.  Pour milk into mixing bowl.

2.  Add vanilla pudding and beat with wire whisk until well blended (about 1 minute).

3.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

4.  Blend in pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, chocolate chips, and the whipped topping.

5.  Spoon into pie crust.

6.  Chill for 4 hours.

Store in refrigerator.

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