"My heart is overflowing with a good theme;" Psalm 45:1a

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


One Christmas we had an interesting experience that I would like to share.

Halfway through December we were doing the regular evening things when there was a knock at the door.  We opened it to find a small package with a beautiful
 ceramic lamb inside.  We looked at the calendar and realized that the 12 days of Christmas were beginning!  We waited excitedly for the next night's surprise and only then, with the gift of a matching shepherd, did we realize that the lamb was part of a nativity set.

Each night we grew more excited to see what piece we would receive.  Each was exquisitely beautiful.  The kids kept trying to catch the givers as we slowly built the scene at the manger and began to focus on Christ's birth.

On Christmas Eve, all the pieces were in place--all but the Baby Jesus.  My 12-year-old son really wanted to catch our benefactors and began to devise all kinds of ways to trap them.  He ate dinner in our minivan, watching and waiting, but no one came.  Finally, we called him in to go through our family's Christmas Eve traditions.  But before the kids went to bed, we checked the front step - - no Baby Jesus!  We began to worry that my son had scared them off.  My husband suggested that maybe they dropped the Jesus and there wouldn't be anything coming.
Somehow, something was missing that Christmas Eve. There was a feeling that things weren't complete.  The kids went to bed and before I went to bed, I again checked to see if the Jesus had come - - no, the doorstep was empty.

In our family, the kids can open their stockings when they want to, but they have to wait to open any presents until Dad wakes up.  So one by one they woke up very early and I 
also woke up to watch them.  Even before they opened their stockings, each child checked to see if perhaps during the night the Baby Jesus had come.

Missing that piece of the set seemed to have an odd effect.  At least it changed my focus.  I knew there were presents under the tree for me and I was excited
to watch the children open their gifts, but first on my mind was the feeling of waiting for the ceramic Christ Child.  We had opened just about all of the presents
when one of the children found one more gift for me buried deep beneath the limbs of the tree.

He handed me a small package from my former teaching companion. I had been her Sunday school teacher for a couple of years and then, when she was asked to be a teacher herself, she requested to work with me.  I had learned over time that she and her family didn't have much for Christmas.  Of necessity she and her husband focused on their children.  It sounded like she didn't get many gifts to open, so I had always given her a small package -- new dish towels, the next teacher's
 manual -- not much, but something for her to open.

I was touched when at church on the day before Christmas, she had given me this small package, saying it was just a token of her love and appreciation.  As I took off the bow, I remembered my friendship with her and was filled with gratitude for knowing her and for her kindness and sacrifice in this giving me a gift.  But as the 
paper fell away, I began to cry.  There in the small brown box was the Baby Jesus!  He had come!

I realized on that Christmas Day, that Christ will come into our lives in ways that we don't expect.  The spirit of Christ comes into our hearts as we serve one another.  We had waited and watched for Him to come, expecting the dramatic "knock at the door and scurrying of feet" but He came in a small, simple package that represented service, friendship, gratitude and love.

This experience taught me that the beginning of the true spirit of Christmas comes as we open our hearts and actively focus on the Savior.  But we will most
 likely find Him in the small and simple acts of love, friendship and service that we give to each other.
This Christmas I want to feel again the joy of knowing that Christ is in our home.  I want to focus on loving and serving.  More than that, I want to open my heart to Him all year.

May the spirit of Christ be with you and yours
 this Christmas and always. . .

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

UPDATE FROM THE COUNTRY! - What a Country Christmas is all About...

This was sent to me via email... But I wanted to share it with you. I pray you not only enjoy the story but also remember.... 

This is what a country Christmas is all about...

Better bundle up - the goose bumps will freeze you!  I think we all need to read about a real country Christmas every year around Christmas time.  I hope you feel the same way after reading this.

"Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities.  But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors.   It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve.  I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas.  We did the  chores early that night for some reason.  I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible.  I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and
went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.
Soon Pa came back in.  It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see.  We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this.  But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens.  Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house.  Something was up, but I didn't know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled.  Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job.  I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load.  Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand.  I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me.  I wasn't happy.  When I was on, Pa pulled the sled  around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed.  He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said.  "Here, help me."  The high sideboards!  It had been a bigger job than I
wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever  it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing?  Finally I said something.  "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?"
"You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road.  Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight.  Sure, I'd been by, but so what?

Yeah," I said, "Why?"

"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt."
That was all he said and then he turned and went back into  the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him.  We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it.  Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.  When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.
"What's in the little sack?" I asked.  
"Shoes, they're out of shoes.  Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning.  I got the children a little candy too.  It just wouldn't be
Christmas without a  little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence.  I tried to think through what Pa was doing.  We didn't have much by worldly standards.  Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most  of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it.  We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy?  Really,  why was he doing any of this?  Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door.  We knocked.  The door opened a crack and a timid  voice said,  "Who is it?"

"Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?"
Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in.  She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.  The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly  gave off any heat at all.  Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour.  I put the meat on the table.  Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.  She opened it hesitantly and took the  shoes out one pair at a time.  There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last.  I watched her carefully.  She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started  running down her cheeks.  She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said.  He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile.  Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up."
I wasn't the same person when  I went back out to bring in the wood.  I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too.  In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running  down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before filled my soul.  I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference.  I could see we were literally  saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared.  The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face  for a long time.  She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you.  The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again.  I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true.  I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth.  I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others.  The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left.  I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get.  Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave.  Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug.  They clung to him and didn't want us to go.  I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow.  The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals.  We'll be by to get you about eleven.  It'll be nice to have some little ones around again.  Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell."  I was the youngest.  My two brothers and two sisters  had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles.  I don't have to say, May the Lord bless you; I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold.  When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something.  Your ma and me have  been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square.  Your ma and me were real excited,  thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do.  Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again.  I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it.  Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities.  Pa had given me a lot more.  He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much  more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life."

Don't be too busy today.  Share this country Christmas message with someone.  God loves you!  Have a real country Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Greetings to one and all! It's almost Christmas, I hope everyone is ready! I still have to do a little more shopping. Unfortunately every bill was due at the same time so I have to wait until Monday when my sweetheart gets paid and this coming Friday when I get paid to finish everything. Oh well, I have always been a last minute shopper!

We have a new addition to the family. My son brought home a lab/pit mix. She's a year and a half old. And she's very pretty. She has a good nature and is well mannered. Of course Dorito has to show her that he's the dominate dog. Jack has taken a liking to her. But he likes most female dogs.

The chickens are doing well. I get eggs every day. They have a new door now. 

I woke up this morning to a dusting of snow. Now it's all gone. But I'm sure my sister in Washington has a lot of it. She usually will get more than us. In fact, she took some pictures and I have a couple to share with you. She has a beautiful view where she lives with her wonderful husband. 

This was taken from her living-room around Thanksgiving of this year. Isn't that pretty?

We got our Christmas tree up. Calvin and I went to a shing-dig put on by the internet provider in this area. We bought a real pretty Noble fir, had hot chocolate, a cheeseburger and went for a hay ride. It was a real nice evening. 

Our neighbor's son came up to the house the weekend we got the tree and he helped me decorate the inside of the house. Here are some pictures...

This deer is not Rudolf, that's for sure!

Hmmmm... can we say Calvin has big expectations from Santa this year!?!

Our Christmas tree (Try to ignore the mess!)

Another look.... yep.... it's not Rudolf... the lights are the wrong color!

My sweetheart hadn't decorated his house in a long time, so, Brodie and I thought decorating the deer heads would be good for him.... it was a huge success when he walked in the house and saw everything lit up. He got a real kick out of the lights in the deer's nose, not to mention the light strung around the inside of the house. 

The Christmas tree really does look pretty. The picture just doesn't really do it justice. But that's all right. 

I did set up a train set underneath the tree. Calvin had to help me with it because I couldn't get the tracks to lay down right. Dorito tries to bite the train when it goes around the track. It really is kinda funny watching him chase the train. Today Kima did accidently knock the train off of the track. So my honey will have to fix it. 

This has been a weird year for the holidays for me. I'm happy to be spending them with my beloved and my new family, yet, I miss my daughter and her children. I miss my best friend as well. Perhaps next year we will all be together. That would be nice. It truly is a bitter-sweet time for me. 

When I was going through the Christmas decorations I discovered I had left my decorations in Arizona and the ones I had belonged to my daughter, Minyon. It was difficult going through those things and seeing things I had given her to use to decorate her Christmas tree. At the same time I was missing my own decorations my mother had given me many years ago, that had belonged to my grandmother. 

I realize they are just decorations, but the sentimental feelings attached to them is what makes this a little hard. I feel like I have suffered much loss over the past few years that it was just one more loss to deal with, not having those decorations. What can I say, I spent one day just crying. My beloved is so wonderful though, he just held me and told me he loves me. I am truly blessed and I need to leave the loss in the hands of God. He is much better equipped in dealing with it than I am. He gave His only begotten Son for me. 

Well, now that I have made everyone else depressed.... No really, sometimes this is the only place I feel I can express myself. It really doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with me. Of if you don't really care. Here I can say what I feel and believe and am going through. And here I can express my hope and expectations and joy and just everyday living experiences. 

I do appreciate everyone who does read my blogs, and even leave comments. You really are precious to me. 

Okay... here is something that's kind of cool..... 

Calvin and I went mistletoe hunting yesterday. Mistletoe only grows in certain places, namely very tall, old oak trees around here. You can't find it just anywhere. We found some in one of our neighbor's trees. So, with shotgun in hand and a plastic bag to put it in, Calvin shot some out of this very tall, old oak tree. After shooting a few rounds and only getting a few small pieces, we decided we need bigger shot. That's this week-end's adventure.

Now, did you know that mistletoe is actually a parasite? I didn't. So I googled it. There is a whole lot about mistletoe on the internet. Oh.... Here's a couple of pictures I downloaded....

This is what it looks like growing in the tree tops

This is a picture of mistletoe and holly

Oklahoma's state flower is the mistletoe... Did you know that? I don't remember learning that, but I did read that today. It's believed the name is derived from two words meaning dung and twig.... That's a lovely thought! The parasite is carried by birds and deposited when they go... well........... you know.... and it builds up and out grows this unusual plant that only grows in winter, that we shoot out of trees and then hang in door ways to kiss under! By the way, the white berries have a purpose.... when a girl was kissed under the mistletoe, the boy who kissed her plucked a berry. When all of the berries were gone, so were his kissing privileges!

Now that you know a little about that garland you hang from your door..... I have some hanging from mine as well..... Don't think about what it really is.... dung on a twig..... (a little humor here) but what it means... a kiss with privilege! 

On that note, I do want to close this today with a Christmas blessing.... 

May the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who laid down His glory to be born a humble baby and grow to be the Perfect Lamb, who rose from the grave victorious and is returning again one day as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, may He reveal Himself to you this Christmas season. May you experience His joy, His peace, His love, His mercy and His grace. May your homes be filled with the wonder of His perfect love that He has for each and every one of you. And may you renew your relationship with Him, making Him King of your hearts and lives, Lord and Master of all. Amen.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, and angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around then, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: Yo will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hose praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. (Luke 2:8-16 NKJV)