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The Greatest Gifts Aren’t In Pretty Boxes

Credit: Home. Life. Encouragement

Sweet Thoughts on this Christmas Week:

Some of the greatest gifts don’t come in packages, but in lab coats instead.

For anyone who has ever experienced a bad doctor, you realize with a quickness to cherish the good ones.

As I sit here waiting for Kiddo again in this large parking lot, I’m praying that God will touch the hand of Dr. Ben-O’ and that his treatment plan today will break this vicious migraine cycle and she will receive the best gift in life and that would be to be pain free for Christmas.

Thank you God for placing this amazing doctor in Kiddo’s life and for giving him the determination to not give up despite the great difficulty in treating her.

Remember, as we draw closer to Christmas Day and you are finishing up your shopping and wrapping of all the gifts that will be placed under the Christmas trees, that the most precious of gifts are not wrapped up in pretty boxes, but in those we are with all through the year.

Today my greatest gifts are those who wear lab coats. Three in particular. They are Dr. Ben O’, Dr Jeff, and Dr Malone. These three men have never given up on my daughter and for them my heart is eternally grateful!!!

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“Where’s The Line To See Jesus”

“Where’s The Line To See Jesus” – Becky Kelley
https://youtu.be/OExXItDyWEY

I am sharing one of my favorite Christmas songs with you today. Click on the link in the above image to listen to this beautiful song.

This is one that touches my heart year after year. It is also one that seems to be overlooked, but I don’t know why.

Where’s the line to see Jesus?

Is He here at the store?

If Christmas time is His birthday,

Why don’t we see Him more?

Lyrics excerpt from Becky Kelley’s song, “Where’s The Line To See Jesus”

As many of us grow more tired and weary from the hustle and bustle of this very busy season, I want to encourage you to take a moment to warm your tired and weary heart with the sweet lyrics to this Christmas song.

I also want to inspire you to take a moment to sit back and breathe. Enjoy the twinkling lights, the soft sounds, and the sweet smells of the season that you brought to life for your family and friends.

Lastly, I want to remind that it is ok to take a moment to open your heart, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Merry Christmas to each and everyone of you.

May you find a sense of peace and joy in the few days left of the Christmas season.

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Merry and Bright

Credit: Home. Life. Encouragement
Today’s Encouragement is to remind you of the importance of showing kindness, being tenderhearted, and forgiving of those who are around you.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 ESV

God’s standards are higher that what we place on ourselves.

First, Kindness.

Think about this for a minute.

Is He all of the above?

Is God kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to everyone of us every day?

Does He show kindness towards us even when we are least deserving of it?

How many times do we act out irrationally towards others, whether we feel they deserved it or not? However, does whether they deserve it or not count as a valid reason in God’s eyes?

No, because God shows us kindness as well as mercy and grace even when we have messed up the most and deserve it the least.

So instead of judging others to determine if they deserve our kindness, we need to think about this verse and how He was very specific about what He was saying. God said, “Be kind to one another.” That simple.

Now I want to challenge you to think about this the next time you are sitting in traffic or standing in line (6′ apart from one another, thanks to Covid), think about just one random act of kindness that you could bestow on someone in that moment.

If while you are sitting in traffic, could you show kindness by letting the person who is struggling to merge over into your lane?

Could you hold the door open for them, say a simple hello with a smile or assist a person you see struggling?

The random act of kindness can be as simple or as complex as you make it.

Next, Tenderhearted.

Is God not tenderhearted towards us when we keep making the same mistakes over and over again?

Think about being a parent, a teacher, or someone who instructs people to do things all day long. How many times do their constant mistakes begin to grate on your nerves. Sometimes even your last one.

Well, God is simple in this reminder here. He instructs us to be tenderhearted.

He knows how important it is for us to have and use a soft and tender tongue and equally how important it is for our hearts to reflect that same tenderness. For what our words are is a reflection of what is in our hearts.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31:26 ESV

So before you get frustrated with your situation, take a quick breath and ask in that moment for God to soften your heart so it can be tender towards the one in need of it.

Lastly, Forgiveness.

Is He not all forgiving, even when we don’t deserve it?

God asks for us to be forgiving just as He, Himself, is forgiving. This however, for most of us, is actually the hardest one of all.

Think about a situation you may be facing that requires you to have a forgiving heart.

Think about how much better you would feel if you just gave up the fight and allowed the forgiveness to take over your heart, instead of the feeling the anger, jealousy, bitterness and hurtfulness that has consumed you.

So many times we allow the ugliness from the wrongful act to consume us. We ask ourselves, “Why would I forgive that person for “x”? Then we justifly ourselves in believing we do not have forgive them because “they were wrong!” We convince ourselves that is it perfectly okay to not forgive them by saying, “I’m not going to do that. I don’t have to. It wasn’t my fault.”

Does any of this sound familiar?

Now stop for a moment and think about who is really being hurt by those thoughts and feelings.

Not the person who did you wrong. Not the person next door or the people you are living with. No, only “you” pay for the hardened feelings and raw emotions that go with this anger and vengence.

Are you not more important that the wrong that has been done to you?

Now, take a moment and think about the “Reason for the Season”.

God created His Son to come to this world to not just to walk around the streets of it like we do today. He didn’t come to be your best friend or neighbor next door. He sent His Son to this world to die an ugly and horrific death on a cross, not because He didn’t love Him, but instead because He not only loved Him, but He loved us. He sent us His Son as a living sacrifice for each and everyone of us. He says very clearly, “for those who believe in Him will not parish, but have eteranl life.” This requires us to ask God to forgive us of our sins and in turn we are guarenteed our Home in Heaven.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 NIV

Did you catch that very important part? God doesn’t think about what we have done by checking off blocks on a score card of sorts. No, He promises to forgive us of our sins and wrongdoings.

In turn, God’s command to us is simple, it is to forgive one another just as He forgives us.

He didn’t put stipulations with it. Well, forgive if they __________ (fill in the blank) or don’t forgive if they ________ (fill in the blank).

No, His command was to forgive one another, just as Christ forgave you.

So as we close out today’s encouragement, let us be reminded how we can show kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness towards everyone, during the hustle and bustle of this busy Christmas season.

Have a wonderful day, dear Friend!

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Wishing You A Merry Christmas Eve

Credit: Home. Life. Encouragement

Merry Christmas Eve!

There are so many people who find today to be solemn and somber for a whole host of reasons. It is my prayer God will provide you a peace and comfort today and the days to come.

To those who are celebrating it is my prayer God will bless you with sweet memories you will cherish in the years to come.

From my home and heart to yours, Merry Christmas! 🎄

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The Real of Holiday Survival

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I am going to reveal the “reality” of my not so perfect holiday season with the hope if your holiday season was not all you wanted it to be, that this will encouraged you to know you are not the only one who struggled to get through a less than perfect Christmas season.

“Revelation and reality gives us the strength to conquer the messiness of life. ” HD Benson

We often times find ourselves comparing our lives to the perfection of the lives we see around us. When we watch Hallmark movies, we see everything is perfectly decorated and all the homemade Christmas treats are perfectly made and decorated. Then there is the perfection we see on FaceBook and on Instagram posts.

My Friend, this is not a reality. Do not compare your life to what you see in others. They only show you what they want you to see. They do not show you what is real and messy.

Now, I am going to show you my real and my messy with the hopes of encouraging you if yours looked anything like mine, it is okay because we all survived and got through another holiday season.

This week has been a week where I found myself in need of rest from an incredibly exhausting past few weeks and a grueling holiday season.

Once we finished with Thanksgiving, I decided to help my daughter who was extremely sick, finish her college semester in school. As her mom, who knows all she had gone through with her health and watched her struggle with pain and sickness for two straight months, I could not watch her fall into a pit of darkness and failure.

Instead, I put on my cheerleading clothes and drug out the pompoms and went to town. She was in desperate need of encouragement and strength and “mom” support, which I did for her. I stopped everything Christmas, stayed up late with her, got up early and she finished. She not only finished, but she finished with amazing grades. I am super proud of her for what she achieved in her first semester of college. I am praying for her health becomes better managed and her semester to come, is a much better one for her.

Once she finished her last class, it was time to jump back into Christmas mode, which I had avoided to give her everything she needed to get through this semester. I avoided the calendar to see how close we were getting to Christmas. I did everything possible to remain stress-free to keep my family happy and grounded during this crazy holiday season. However, when it was all done and I looked at the calendar, it was not pretty. I had one week to get five weeks worth of work done. I had to shop (as I had not bought one gift for anyone). I had to make the gifts we were giving away and I had not baked my first Christmas dessert yet. I told myself I had to do all of this with the minimalist amount of stress to keep the holiday cheer in my house.

What I have not mentioned was the really bad cold my daughter had, went through all of us. I had to take her to the doctor twice, my husband twice and the night of his first Emergency Room visit, I ran a fever that night and I ended up catching it as well and became extremely sick, but I fought my way through it to make Christmas happen.

With the strength God gave me and with His guidance to get through it all, I finished everything at 11:40 on Christmas Eve. It was all done and I could breathe again.

I wish I could say this all happened with no stress, but I can not. I did, however, make every effort of minimalizing it and that I feel like I accomplished it. I also have to confess that I was only able to pull off the first five days because my doctor put me on steroids as well as a steroid injection and an inhaler which enabled me to get a lot done because I do not handle steroids and sleep.

As a result of the steroids, I did begin to feel better and they gave me the extra energy that I needed to finish Christmas in time, but the exhausted crash that came afterward has been horrible. I needed this week to just rest and sleep to get caught back up.

This is the “real” and the raw of how my holidays went this year. I am, however, extremely thankful to hear back from not only my family but from my mom as well, that this was one of our best Christmas’s we have had in a long time.

Despite the sacrifices I made early on to help my daughter, they paid off in the end. It was not a traditional holiday season for me, but it came together in the very end and thankfully it all turned out well.

My friend, it does not matter how yours looked, whether it was wrought with challenges or it went smoothly, all that matters is that you tried and it is all done now for another year.

Now I will wish you all Happy New Year. It is my prayer this coming year will be one of peace and joy, changes if you are in need of them and the grace to accept everything that comes your way.

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Merry Christmas

Christmas Note of Encouragement

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

It is my prayer you will be encouraged by this quote,

“When we remember a special Christmas, it is not the presents that made it special, but the laughter, the feeling of love, and the togetherness of friends and family that made that Christmas special.”  Catherine Pulsifer 

Now today is here, savor every moment while embracing it for the special day it is. If you are celebrating with your family and friends, forget about all the hard work, the frustrations, and the exhaustion it took to get here. Instead, be present enough to make new memories that will last a life time.

If you are celebrating alone, it is my prayer you will not get lost in the feeling of loneliness, instead that it will be a day of reflection on your memories of the past. I am also wishing you a quiet day of peacefulness and rest. Take some time to snuggle up with your favorite book and some hot cocoa or your favorite Christmas movie and enjoy the quietness of the day.

To my friends who are celebrating a difficult Christmas this year because you are experiencing the loss of a loved one, you especially will be in my thoughts and prayers. It is often times hard to break through the sadness in order to celebrate joyous occasions such as these. I have seen first hand how the darkness of grief can rob you of your joy during the holidays, but it is my hope this Christmas Day you will be able to see past the grief, pain, and loneliness and embrace your cherished memories of the past.

Christmas is a Holiday that brings many unpredictable emotions out of people, some are joyous while others are not, but because everyone’s life is so different, it is hard to place everyone in the same category.

Not everyone is married to the perfect spouse and has a loving family with multiple children and therefore celebrate the stereotypical perfect Christmas. Christmas is not always the “Hallmark TV” perfect Christmas because it comes with so many variations of life experiences that not everyone’s Christmas is a happy one. If you can relate to this, please know you are in my thoughts and prayers today as well.

No matter what your life experiences are and no matter if today is an easy one or a difficult one, I want you to know there is someone who can empathize with how you are feeling today. I have experienced my share of joyous and not so joyous Holidays.

In conclusion, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! To those who are truly celebrating, have a happy day filled with lots of opportunities to make memories you will cherish in the years to come. If you are experiencing one of grief, sadness, or darkness, it is my prayer you will find peace in your memories of the past.

Merry Christmas!
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Seize The Moment To Make A Memory

Christmas Note of Encouragement

I want to share this inspiration with you this Christmas Eve Day,

”You are amazing, you are brave, you are strong.” 

Unknown Author

As you start this day, the last one before Christmas and you are feeling worn out, exhausted, grouchy, and maybe a little emotional, I want you to remember this quote, “You are amazing, brave, and strong.”

You did a great job this Christmas Season to get to here. Many of us may not be ready yet because we may still have a little shopping left to do, or a last minute gift to make or gifts to wrap, but my suggestion today is to make some time to slow down and quietly sit still and bask in the lights of your tree, enjoy some soft sounds of the season, or put on a favorite Christmas movie and just enjoy a little bit of time with your family or even maybe just all by yourself because once tomorrow arrives, it will be all done. Today my is the last day to enjoy the build-up and the magic of the season.

Slow down, my friend, and enjoy your family today!

You will not regret it. Let that moment be the memory you make for the years to come. Seize the day, seize the moment to cherish what you have.

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Apple Cinnamon Rolls

25 Day Christmas Countdown

Day 24

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Apple Cinnamon Rolls

This is a Christmas morning recipe to make for your family so you are not feeling stuck in the kitchen cooking while the family is enjoying the festivities of Christmas.

My picture doesn’t make them look pretty, but they are delicious. One thing with my baking, cooking, and blogging, what you see is what you get. I am what I call raw and honest. I do not just post what looks pretty or what looks or sounds good all the time. Life as well as baking and cooking is sometimes messy. You will get what is real and if this is not so pretty or down right ugly, this is what you see as you continue to follow me.

Ingredients

2 apples (peeled and diced)

Pie Dough

2 1/2 c flour

1/2 c shortening (coconut oil works too)

1 Tbsp flaxseed

dash salt

3/4 cup Cashew milk (any milk of your choice) (add enough milk to make dough sticky)

Cinnamon Sugar

1 c sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 c flour

Egg Wash

1 egg yolk for white wash

1/2 tsp water

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Peel and dice apples.

Make you cinnamon sugar by mixing sugar, cinnamon, and 1/8 cup of flour together and set to the side.

Mix all remaining dry ingredients together. Cut in the shortening until flakey, add milk a little at a time until dough is sticky.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch in thickness. White wash with egg mixture and add cinnamon sugar mixture on top of egg wash. Gently roll the dough into a log. Cut into 1 inch rolls and place on parchment paper. If you have any remaining egg wash brush on to each individual roll.

Place in preheated oven and bake for approximately 20 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack and enjoy.

I’m very sorry I didn’t get this posted in time to use it Christmas morning, but it can be used any morning or New Year’s morning as well.

Happy Baking!

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Gingerbread House

25 Day Christmas Countdown

Day 23

Amazing Gingerbread Houses 
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I didn’t get one made this year, but we made this one last year. My daughter and a sweet adopted family friend made an amazing one that I am very proud of. I will add the directions to make it from scratch, The directions I will share will give you the recipe (which I will add as always), the house template, the supplies, and a royal icing recipe.

Happy baking and constructing! I hope the memories you make while doing this will be wonderful and happy in the years to come.

When you see my picture you will see it constructed in the shape of a log cabin. This was done on purpose. If you wish to do the same then roll your dough out in the form of a square or rectangle and when before baking use a ruler and pizza cutter and cut into blocks.

Ingredients

Note: This is a double batch to make an amazing house from.

1 c butter, softened

1 c brown sugar

1 1/3 c molasses

4 eggs

8 c all-purpose flour (divided)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

Frosting

2 lbs confectioners sugar

1 tsp cream of tarter

6 egg whites

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the molasses and eggs. Combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, baking soda, salt, all spice, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger; beat into the molasses mixture. Gradually stir in the remaining flour by hand to form a stiff dough. Divide dough into 2 pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes (if you want bricks, cut with your ruler and pizza cutter now. Place pieces 1 inch apart onto parchment lined cookie sheets.  Refrigerate for 15 mins.

Bake for 8-10 mins in a preheated oven. Cool on a baking sheet for 5 mins before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing

In a medium bowl, sift together confectioners sugar and cream of tartar . Blend in egg whites. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat for about 5 minutes, or until mixture is thick and stiff. Keep covered with a moist cloth and plastic wrap until ready to decorate.

Enjoy the fun of baking and making this amazing Gingerbread house!

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Slow Down, Breathe, and Find Rest

Christmas Note of Encouragement

This is your gentle Christmas Reminder.

Find some time today to rest your mind, body and soul from the hustle and bustle of the crazy busy of the season. If you do, God will bless you with the time to get everything done.