My Favorite Christmas Legend

stable animals

Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem exhausted. They searched and searched for a place to sleep and a place for Mary to possibly give birth since it could happen at any time.  No one in the town had room for them until finally, an innkeeper gave them space to rest in his stable.

Joseph did his best to make Mary comfortable as the red cow, shaggy sheep, and roosting doves looked on. The animals looked on the little family with compassion and gladly shared their hay with the worn out donkey that had carried Mary so many miles.

Even though it was crowded, the town of Bethlehem settled down to a peaceful quiet as the night grew darker and colder. The stars began to stretch and flicker to join the night sky in its glorious display. The red cow, chewing her cud, lifted her eye toward the window of her stall and saw a strange star in the east, one she had not seen before. She wondered at the sight and looked toward the man and the pregnant woman and had a feeling that something very special was about to happen.

As the night grew on the sheep could tell that Mary was cold and uncomfortable, so they gently moved closer and lay beside her to give her warmth. The red cow gladly shared her milk to give Mary strength for her labor ahead. Feeling warm and full, Mary and Joseph drifted to sleep to the soft cooing of the doves.

The animals could hear the soft, rhythmic breathing of Mary and Joseph and in the warmth of the stable, the animals all drifted off to sleep one by one.

The red cow heard it first – the whimper of a human baby. Then the sheep and the doves. They all watched as the new mother gently wrapped her baby in strips of cloth. The saw the gentle, caring husband laugh with tears in his eyes. He took the baby from its mother and hold him up so the animals could see. He laughed and said, “It really happened as the angel told us! This is Jesus, the Son of God! This is our Messiah!”

At the stroke of midnight, the animal’s moos, bleats, and coos all turned into human words and phrases as they praised God for the miracle that they had the privilege to witness! The serpent had the power of speech in the Garden when it tempted Eve and so did all animals, but when all of creation was cursed because of man’s sin, they lost their ability to speak. But God said that one day, his Son would break the curse and at that moment, on Christmas Eve, at midnight, the animals could speak once more to be able to praise God for the One who was foretold. Mary and Joseph laughed in disbelief and joined the animal chorus giving glory to God!

In the distance, the rousing voices of the shepherds could be heard coming in search of the One the angels had told them about. Slowly the voices of the animals began to fade as their voices once more returned to their moos, bleats and coos. Mary and Joseph were amazed at this miracle. One more sign to them that their Son truly was the Son of God. And Mary treasured the moment in her heart.

It is said that at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve that all animals are once again given the power of human speech just for a few moments in remembrance of that night in Bethlehem. If you stay up and are patient and are very, very quiet you may witness a miracle.

Merry Christmas!

Jill

 

 

The Most Amazing (Amateur) Christmas Light Display!

Right around the corner from our house is a home that has the most amazing display of Christmas lights I have ever seen on a private residence.

IMG_3532From a distance, you can see it lighting up the night sky! It looks like every inch is covered in lights!

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There are all kinds of stuff! A buffalo statue, the Statue of Liberty and this display of uniforms.

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There’s even a pumpkin. I don’t get it. But it’s festive! IMG_3544

Crazy!

Hope your holiday is merry and BRIGHT!

Peace,

Jill

Christmas Treats

Maybe it’s a holdover from my teaching days. Maybe it’s just having grandkids, but I got the hankering to make some fun treats for Christmas.

So off I went to Pinterest and found the instructions for these cuties! I pinned them to my board called “Christmas Food” if you want to try them yourself.

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I love the kind of project that is quick and easy and is like already half made. Chocolate dipped Nutter Butter Reindeer and Vanilla dipped Rice Krispie Treats are right up my alley.

Merry Christmas Treats!

Jill

Making Mini Houses

Years ago, I mean years ago, I made some little houses out of an old 2×4. I don’t know what happened to them.

Recently, I saw some little ceramic houses on Instagram that caught my eye. Amanda Banham is the artist’s name and her little houses are awesome!

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They reminded me of my little 2×4 houses so I got a hankering to make some.

I had Husband cut out some houses for me because his shop is not set up yet and I knew if I didn’t have a proper workbench I’d risk cutting off my finger. So, he cut and I sanded and painted.

I gave the houses an undercoat of gray and the roofs an undercoat of black so when I distressed them the colors would show through. I wanted them to look old and worn.

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We got 16 houses out of the one 2×4 so I stuck them all over the house. I’ll probably give some to my girls if they want them.

Fun little project.

Peace,

Jill

I Hate Wrapping Gifts!

I don’t know what happened to me through the years. I used to love wrapping gifts. It was creative and fun but now, YUK! I especially hate it when I put it off and I have a hundred gifts to wrap at the last minute in an hours-long wrapping marathon. UGGGH!

Remember that I told you that I had already finished shopping? I still can’t believe it! And since I did most of my shopping online (because we live so far from good stores now) I’m getting a package almost every day. In order to stay on top of the chore, I have promised myself that I would wrap the gifts as they come to the mailbox.

And as a preemptive measure, I’ve been watching gift wrapping hacks on YouTube for inspiration and encouragement and hopefully some tips to take the pain out of it. Here’s a LINK to a good tutorial by Hermione Chantal.

I have found making my own gift bags for those awkwardly shaped gifts especially helpful this year. I really hate buying gift wrap AND bags. So, this solves that problem. It’s really not that difficult to do and I think it looks pretty good.

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Happy wrapping – if that’s possible, haha!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

The Family Christmas Questionnaire

My son had a Secret Santa Questionnaire he had to fill out at work and he posted it on his Instagram so people could see his answers. He’s pretty funny, eclectic and a really interesting person, so it was fun to see his answers. And, I actually learned some things about him – I didn’t know he likes peanut M&M’s!

When I read his answers, I realized that his tastes and interests have really changed in the last 20 years! No kidding, huh?  When you don’t live with your kids anymore and unless you really talk deep and often to your family members there are a lot of things that you miss. Things like their favorite candy or what tv shows they watch. I mean, in the short time that we’re together, we don’t often get down to finding out these things about each other. If I don’t know these basic things about my own children, I know even less about my in-law children. My grandboys are little and they change so quickly that one questionnaire a year is probably not enough for them.

Then, I started thinking about myself and realized that I change, too. Sometimes my tastes and interests change from year to year or even more often. So, it’s not that I don’t pay attention or don’t love my family if I don’t know the answers to questions about their favorite things, it’s just that people change and we sometimes don’t have enough time together to find these things out!

So, I created this Christmas Questionaire that I’m going to give to my family! And I’m not going to be embarrassed about it at all!

The ChristmasQuestionnaire

If you’d like to use this, you can! It’s free! Here’s a link to the PDF you can download:

The ChristmasQuestionnaire

Happy Holidays!

Peace,

Jill

 

A Healthy Soup To Keep You Going Through The Holidays

soup

 

The weather’s turned cool here in Magnolia and I’ve been feeling a bit run down lately. Not sick, just rung out. So, I made this soup and packed as many nutrient-dense foods in it that I could. I thought it would make a good go-to soup for the holidays to keep you shopping, decorating and celebrating. So, I thought I’d share. I don’t think it would make a great soup to serve for a dinner party, but just a pick-me-up meal to fill your tank with good nutrients to ward off sickness.

The base is a basic chicken soup – the scientifically proven cure for what ails you. So, start by making a basic chicken soup stock. I do it this way:

Either a whole chicken or pieces with bone and skin (that’s where the goodness is)              Onion, chopped                                                                                                                                      Celery, chopped                                                                                                                                      Fresh Garlic                                                                                                                                            Carrot, chopped

Saute the vegetables in olive oil and add chicken. Cover with water and cook until the chicken is done and falling off the bone. I usually let it simmer for quite a while.

Once it’s all done, pull everything out and strain the stock to clear it of big pieces of veg or chicken. Put the stock back on the stove.

Add:

More chopped onion, celery and carrot.                                                                                          Add the cooked chicken                                                                                                                    Then add: chopped cabbage, kale and parsley                                                                                I add some poultry seasoning, salt, pepper to season it

Let it simmer until the flavors marry.

Now, since I really like the Asian way of adding fresh vegetables to hot soup, I added fresh julienned spinach, thinly sliced mushroom and Steave added halved cherry tomatoes. You can add any other vegs that sounds good or you have on hand. I would’ve added avocado if it had been ripe.

My husband loves spice, so he added cayenne pepper which is great if you have a cold. Clears out the sinus!

I was in an Asian mood, so I added some soy sauce and a spritz of lime juice.

You can take this basic soup in so many different directions – you could even go Tex-Mex and add peppers and crunch up tortilla chips to add some texture. Experiment!

Wishing you a healthy holiday season!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

 

 

Advent Resources!

I’m in a Facebook group where a mother was asking for help about celebrating Advent with kids. So, I put together a list of resources that caught my eye. Just click on the blue text to get the link.

This is a great resource from LifeWay with a free downloadable Advent guide.

Advent, advent candles, advent wreath

This is a list compiled by my friends who are Pastors at Faith Methodist Church in Georgia

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This is from Coffee Cups & Crayons and it gives you ideas for “24 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness.” Cool ideas for doing nice things for people during Advent.

Free printable Random Acts of Christmas Kindness calendar for 2018! December version available too! #24racks #actsofkindness #kindnesscalendar #christmasactsofkindness

 

Here’s another service-oriented Advent idea which I love! It’s from Nourishing Joy. It gives some really unique ideas for serving others during Advent.

Wanting an Advent calendar that helps your child connect to the larger purpose of celebrating Christmas? This DIY Advent Calendar provides simple ways to serve throughout the season - and can be used again throughout the year!

 

If you have time and you just need a calendar and not the readings or ideas to go with it.  AND you love Legos, how about building a Lego Advent Calendar? This is so creative and awesome from Frugal Fun 4 Boys, but I’d have to get my son to build it, haha!

Here’s one more link to Kids Can Light The World Advent Calendar from Mother’s Niche. More great daily ideas to celebrate Advent.

And one more. If you’re into sharing your family stories and want your kids to know your family history, I’ve written an Advent Celebration just for you! Yes, I’m shamelessly plugging my own book! Haha!

raising disciples advent cover

 

I hope that helps! Enjoy the Advent season!

Peace,

Jill