Karen

Christmas Treasures

December 22, 2018 in Inspirational, Uncategorized

Many of us have ornaments, or handmade decorations from our children, or gifts from beloved friends and family that only make an appearance once a year at Christmastime. We treasure those special things and find joy in holding each one as we remove them from their protective wrappers. Seeing them in the sparkling light, a flash of memory brings back the picture of when we first received them. They are treasures that bring joy to our hearts.

Actually, Christmastime is filled with treasures as we sing our favorite carols once again, make grandma’s recipe for sugar cookies, and send love and good wishes to our friends. Silent Night and Away in a Manger bring gentle memories of days gone by, echoing their joy and filling us with peace and with the spirit of the season.

It has always been this way. When a young virgin named Mary first heard the words of the Angel, announcing God’s plan to deliver the world from sin, she pondered those words, treasuring them in her heart, most likely for her entire life. When the shepherds in the field heard angels singing in the night, they were caught in the glory of the moment and determined that they would go to Bethlehem and search for this treasure, the baby in a manger. Of course, the wise scientists of the day had been studying the stars for some time, prepared to follow His star and bring treasures of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Christmas is filled with treasures of the season, but some are only fleeting and disappear like visions of sugarplums. Other treasures, like the gift of God’s Son, will last forever. May you be blessed this Christmas with the treasures that remain in your heart from here to heaven.

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21

Karen

Over the Top Christmas

December 16, 2017 in Inspirational

I will confess that I’ve been accused more than once of going a little over the top when it comes to Christmas.  I love all the parts of Christmas, from the birth of the Savior to the generous spirit of Santa Claus.  I love to decorate the halls and the walls and anything else that I can adorn with glittery ornaments.  I love to plan the gifts I will give to my family and friends. Nothing quite delights my heart more than seeing their smiles as we intentionally take time to share our gifts of love.  I bake cookies and breads and give them to anyone near enough to receive them and sometimes mail them off as well.  My husband says I have a childlike heart and I’m pretty sure it comes alive at Christmas, like no other time of the year.

Perhaps my approach to celebrating the event of welcoming Baby Jesus is more than some people do.  Perhaps my desire to express my heart and my love is a little over the top, but it’s nothing compared to all that I receive through the year from the people who support me, encourage my work, revive my spirit, and help me to realize how much I have been gifted by their presence every day.  To those who would wish I might pull back, set my Christmas up more like they would do, I can only say, that we each must find our way to celebrate the greatest gift that ever happened to any of us.  I feel pretty certain that what God did that first Christmas was over the top. His gift was beyond measure and everyone who participated in the event lit up with great joy. Angels and shepherds and those who had long awaited the Savior celebrated in their hearts and expressed their love through songs of joy.  They didn’t hold back. They didn’t worry about whether any one else heard the angels singing or if anyone else found their way to the manger, they simply spread the joy every way they could.

This Christmas, I’m going to be a little over the top again. There will be lots of cookies, lots of presents, lots of Christmas music, and lots of gratitude for what God has done for all of us.  You celebrate however you wish, but I’m going to pray that this season you allow yourself to go a little over the top.

Big love to you all.

Merry Christmas!

Karen

You Are a Living Nativity

December 18, 2011 in Inspirational

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is the opportunity to reflect on the story of Christmas, the story of Jesus’ birth.  As much as I may get caught up in the celebration, the decorating, cookie-baking, card-writing, joy-in-the-air feeling of Christmas, I’m also caught in the story of Wise Men and Shepherds.  My sister, Donna, and I were talking about this recently and she shared the idea that we are all part of that nativity, we are still part of what brings it to life each year and each time we reflect on the story.

How?  Perhaps you become part of the story when you seek Him, each time you seek the same Star that guided those ancient astrologers from Jesus’ day.  When something stirs in your heart and causes you to want more of Him, to want to draw closer to Him, to find Him in a new way in your life, then you too become one of the wise.  You too become a person on the way to the stable.  You follow the Light.  Perhaps in those days when you feel quietly alone, like a shepherd in a desolate field, uncertain that anyone realizes you’re there, perhaps then a flutter of an angel’s wing will call you.  The starry night will beckon you to look up and know that you’re not alone, that a Spirit of Joy persists in this world regardless of how dark it can seem.  Those angels that truly watch out for you all the days of your life, will call you again and cause you to sing and smile and know that the Lord of your heart is real and that you can find Him any time you choose.  “Come to the stable,” they beckon.  “Come and share in the beautiful and perfect grace of God.”

As you begin to feel alive again in that incredible way that excites your spirit and moves you to trust and believe and become even more generous, then you like the Kings of old, offer your gifts to God.  You share your heart and your kindness with total strangers, and you offer Him gifts in doing so.  You open your pantry and give to food banks and you drop coins in the bucket of every grocery store where the Salvation Army resides.  Each time you do those simple things, like the little drummer boy, you present your gifts to the baby King.

It’s a beautiful time of year and Mary and Joseph continue to remind us that the baby born in Bethlehem was born for all of us, not as a matter of religion, but as a fact of the love of God.  As you come to the stable this year, you are all at once wiser, more generous, and more willing to share your heart.  You are a living nativity and every day you breathe in His Spirit, you continue to share the story.

May God bless you richly at this wonderful time of year.  Merry Christmas!

Karen

The Dance of December

December 1, 2011 in Inspirational

If you’re anything like me, you started the year with a simple waltz through the things you resolved to do, and now, you are actually shocked to realize that it’s December  already, when every dance is slightly faster, leaving you twirling like so many snowflakes on a moonlit night.  How did last January fade into this December?  Perhaps the only way to keep stride with the music is to be very intentional about each day.  It’s December 1st so you have the opportunity to wake up each day of this month and set the beat, write the music to finish up the year.

Personally, as a Christmas child, I am thrilled when December comes because I like it all.  I love the hubbub of dragging out the Christmas decorations, untangling the lights, finding new ways to play Santa and listening to the carols that remind me why we celebrate the Season anyway.  I love knowing that we can celebrate the gifts of humanity, of childhood imagination and kindness, and the precious birth of Our Savior all in the same wonderful Season.

Every year, I watch Jimmy Stewart remind me that “It’s a Wonderful Life” and I  have to agree.  It IS a wonderful life, as long as I stop to live it now and don’t just wait for each tomorrow.  It’s a wonderful life every time I remember how blessed I am that God intervened in the affairs of humankind and found an incredibly sweet way to bring us back to himself.  It’s a wonderful life each time I see a neighbor reaching out to another neighbor, a child’s eyes light up over thoughts of Christmas morning, and smell the sweet aromas of freshly baked cookies.  Yes, it’s a wonderful life.

If your calendar is chock full of events that surround the Season and you can hardly imagine how you’ll get through it all, if your home is bursting with things to do and things to get done, if you’re filled to the brim with Christmas hope and possibility…It is indeed a wonderful life.   So…don’t miss it.

Live each day with the intention of celebrating the glory of God, trusting He’ll be there to help you through each thing you have to do, knowing that He wants you to finish well.  Make it a December to remember, a dance of love and laughter.  Happy December!

Karen

Karen’s 12 Days of Christmas…

December 13, 2010 in Mini Moments

On the first day of Christmas,  the good Lord sent to me…one hopeful heart and a humble and warm nativity.

On the second day of Christmas, the good Lord sent to me…two happy thoughts and the blessing of a loving family.

On the third day of Christmas, the good Lord sent to me…three answered prayers, two happy thoughts and a humble and warm nativity.

On the fourth day of Christmas, the good Lord sent to me…four fa-la-la’s. Four fa-la-la’s, three answered prayers, two happy thoughts, and a humble and warm nativity.

On the fifth day of Christmas, the good Lord sent to me, Five Ways to Shine!…Four fa-la-la’s, three answered prayers, two happy thoughts and a humble and warm nativity.

On the sixth day of Christmas, the good Lord sent to me, six Bible verses and a nine foot evergreen tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas, the good Lord sent to me, seven kinds of cookies and a big pot of peppermint tea.

On the eighth day of Christmas, the good Lord sent to me, eight Christmas greetings and some love from my friends and family.

On the ninth day of Christmas, the good Lord sent to me, nine folks to pray for and a few folks to pray just for me.

On the tenth day of Christmas, the good Lord sent to me, ten gifts of promise and a heart full of hope and charity.

Ten gifts of promise, nine folks to pray for, eight Christmas greetings, seven kinds of cookies, six Bible verses…Five Ways to Shine!!!   Four fa-la-la’s, three answered prayers, two happy thoughts and a warm and a sweet nativity.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the good Lord sent to me, eleven dreams to ponder and a light sure to guide me on my way.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the good Lord sent to me, twelve special Proverbs and a Psalm just to read throughout the day.

(Sing it!)

Twelve special Proverbs, eleven dreams to ponder, ten gifts of promise, nine folks to pray for, eight Christmas greetings, seven kinds of cookies, six Bible verses, Five Ways to Shine!!!….Four fa-la-la’s, three answered prayers, two happy thoughts and a humble and warm nativity!

Okay…so you might not be able to sing your way through this whole thing…but give it a try, keep your heart light, and celebrate the God of your heart all throughout the season.  Stay warm wherever you are!

Karen

Mini Moments–What’s in a Wish?

December 6, 2009 in Mini Moments

As a long time greeting card writer, I’ve come to respect the idea of sending heartfelt wishes to people we care about.  It’s a simple way to both acknowledge and be a small part of a special celebration or event.  Most of us appreciate the considerate and kind thoughts of others.  In recent years, there’s been an odd trend to question whether or not we should wish each other a “Merry Christmas.”  This all seems like strange thinking to me.

In general, a wish is meant to say “You’re in my thoughts, I recognize something special about today, and it does my heart good to share a tiny bit of this occasion with you.”   A wish is often standing in for a prayer because the sender is really hoping that you will have real happiness on your birthday, or you will get back to good health quickly, or that whatever makes Christmas a wonderful and merry season for you will happen.  That’s the nature of wishes.  That’s the nature of any warm-hearted greeting.

The Bible talks about wishes as greetings.  Corinthians says it’s good to greet each other with a holy kiss, and the disciples were always known to greet each other with uplifting words like, “The Lord be with you or Grace be with you, mercy, and peace.”  Greetings, wishes, warm ways of addressing each other out of love and human kindness…what a wonderful way to connect heart to heart!

As we approach the Christmas season this year, planning the gifts that will bring joy to our loved ones, sending out cards and letters and emails to keep connected, let’s remember that wishes come from the heart.  Wishes are a free expression of your tenderness toward other human beings.  Scrooge may well say “Bah humbug” to everyone who walks around with Merry Christmas on his lips, but I say “thank you.”  Thank you for sharing the joy of the season, for thinking of me in such an encouraging way, hoping the best for me for the year ahead and reminding me that your friendship will indeed be part of the new year.

Wishes are born of love and I guess at Christmas I like to think of Jesus as being God’s biggest wish for the seasons of our lives and that He sent us all a message of Good News, glad tidings!  All wishes are good…Season’s Greetings, Happy Hanukkah, Joy to You…but for me my favorite at this time of year will always be “Merry Christmas”  signed with love.

Karen

Up Tight? Where’s the Light?

December 1, 2009 in Inspirational

Are you wound up a little too tight?  No big thing is really wrong, but every fiber of your being feels slightly undone, slightly at loose ends?  We all know there’s a level of stress that’s actually good for us, but what about that not so good level?  What do you do when you’re an ocean of emotion that feels on the brink of disaster?  As we close in on another big holiday, perhaps it’s good timing to look at some stress buster ideas, ways to remain at peace so we can actually see the Star that leads the way to Bethlehem.

Remembering to breathe is one of my first stress busters.  That’s right, make sure you’re actually breathing in and out, catching quiet moments to watch the waves of life and observe its flow in regular rhythms.

The next thing is to stretch…yes, reach for the sky!  Reach for your toes…slowly, intentionally, focusing on the beauty around you, the music in the background, the breeze through the window.  Watch the trees bending or the flowers dancing, but stretch and breathe and stretch and breathe.  Bending is so much better than breaking!

After that, try centering your heart and mind in an attitude of prayer or meditation.  Sit quietly and give God a chance to be God.  Be still and let Him hold you up, embrace your spirit and strengthen your heart.  Stretch your imagination so that it doesn’t stop until it is resting at His feet, breathe in the beauty around you and just be there, calmly and wholly in that moment.

When you’re ready to talk, share all the things that are weighing you down.  Write them on a list or add them to your journal pages.  Writing out your concerns gives you a place to put them that feels better than when you cram them down to your toes.  As you look at the list, select each one and send it away in prayer, knowing that you have done what you can, trusting that God will not rest until all is well with you.

Finally, for me, it’s always a matter of doing something else that keeps my mind busy.  Writing helps me, but so does taking a long walk, visiting with a friend over coffee, taking a nap, doing something out of my usual routine like creating a new recipe, or surfing the internet to learn something I don’t know much about.  Listening to music helps.  Diversion can be a good thing.

Whatever your stressbusters are, and please feel free to share them, find those things that help to give you emotional balance, mental stimulus in a positive way, or more energy. Ultimately you’re searching to have more faith in the fact that God is still in control and you matter to Him in every way.  You’re searching for peace…the very thing we wish for each other every Christmas.

I love holidays, they are precious and beautiful to me, especially the Christmas season.  Preparing to move is so stressful at this time of year.  You can be sure that I will be breathing, stretching, praying, and diverting my emotional threads daily to find the place of peace God has for me.  If you’re not moving at this season, then pack up all your cares and woes anyway and carry them to Bethlehem.  Give them up this Christmas to the One who came so that you could see the Star overhead and the magnificent light that always leads the way.  It shines even now for you!