The Gift of Christmas

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I’m sitting in the stillness and the silence of my morning house.  The weekend before Christmas is upon us.  Snow is swirling in the air and it glistens in the sun that is attempting to poke throughout the clouds.  I am soaked in Peace.  I am saturated in the presence of the Sprit.  I think about my week and how I was witness, again, to the Gift of God shining in the most unexpected places.

I sink into my chair, wrapped in the warmth of blanket and fire and hum two of my favorite Christmas songs.  Oh Holy Night and Come All Ye Faithful.  I pause and reflect on the words,

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Fall on your knees.  How often I am here.  On my knees.  It doesn’t take a Christmas song to bring me there on a daily basis.

Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Adore Him.  The King of angels.  The King of this World.  The King of Glory.  The King of Kings.  Adore Him..

UnknownTwo songs say it all.  Fall on your knees and adore Him.  Drop to your knees and delight in Him.  Spill to your knees and glorify, exalt and esteem Him.  Not just today, not just for Christmas….this is what is necessary… Every.  Single.  Day.

I pray that the Christmas spirit finds a way to wrap itself around your very heart, all year long.  A Gift.

This week I had the amazing pleasure of sharing this Gift with someone.  Someone who had no hope, no promise, no faith.  That which started as a day to bless others serving a hot Christmas meal with my Life Group at the Food Bank, ended with my heart so swollen, and so in awe of the mercy and grace that God gives us.  The Gift of Love.  The Gift of Redemption.  The Gift of Hope and a Future. Unknown

I saw her sitting alone, and prayed as I approached her for bold, courage.  I prayed silently as I sat, that He give me the appropriate words to say.  That I be only a vessel of his love.  What if I had not listened?  She poured her heart out to me.  What if I had ignored His provoking of my heart?  She spilled every inch of her soul to me.  What if I would’ve talked instead of listening to her words of hopelessness and grief?  What if I hadn’t taken notice to His leading that prompted me to show a simple smile, to take time to sit and have a conversation, to look into eyes that showed pain, to take a hand and hold, and to hug a complete stranger?  How often do I do this?  Pass by.  Hurry on in my day.  What if I had not listened?  This story would have ended differently.  But on this day, as I held the trembling, thin, cracked hands of a complete stranger, He held my hands,  and He had a different plan….  And as I prayed with this sweet, delicate, woman, I felt His presence so powerful, and so strong.  His mercy and grace spilling onto her.  His love splashing around us.  Completely soaked in the goodness and graciousness of God.  And when she opened her eyes, I could see a hope that can only come from one Source.

From a Baby.  From the Lover of our souls.  From an almighty God that loves us without abandon.

The King of angels.  Christ the Lord.  The Gift.

………….Oh Come Let us Adore Him.Unknown-1

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Time Out

imagesI have for the past 2-3 months taken a hiatus from social media.  IE: No status updates and/or checking FB.  (My blog auto-posts by WordPress so I don’t even have to go on for that)  It has been a breath of fresh-air.  In listening to women in my Life Group a few weeks ago, it seems that this is actually a growing trend (among my friends)…or at least should be.  I heard these women talk about feeling inadequate, feel stressed, feeling “left out” due to social media.  WHAT??  Isn’t it designed to make us more social?  In reality, a lot of times it’s a smorgasbord of competition without purpose, disguised and wrapped up nicely as a well-meaning “status update” or to just get some attention, get a “shout-out” or show someone the life they aren’t so fortunate to be leading.  It’s caused such a fracture and downward spiral in how we truly relate with one another.  

UnknownNot to mention the TIME it takes up.   Wow!  One woman said, she couldn’t believe how time consuming she allowed it to become in her life.  Then one day..she deleted, and had HOURS in her day to actually DO stuff.  Imagine that!  I realized this a few months ago.  Was I on FB and Twitter too much?  Was it consuming my time?  I didn’t really think so.  After all, I’m not even ON it a lot.  I mean, I am a weekly checker or a every two week checker.  I do not have the app on my iPhone or IPad, don’t have the desire to see “real time” updates from people ….but I realized when I took entire months off, even that minimal time of checking it once a week/every two weeks took time away from family and friends. During the time off I was amazed at the time it freed up.  What happened was I found I had more time for volunteering, more time for church activities (even threw in a quick mission trip a few weeks ago) I had more time to run and train for Ironman, more time to study for the groups I lead.  I went back to Yoga, had more time to write, to read more.  I had more prayer time and time to study my Bible and had more time for craft ideas…

After I took the time off I  deleted, weeded, “hid” posts from people and “hid” people.  Do I need to see your life’s hour-by-hour play-by-play, your vulgar jokes, what color your <fill in the blank> is?  No!  I think if we are friends….lets get out together and do life.  And that’s is exactly what happened!

I love seeing pictures of my family.  I have family all over the country and it has been a great way to keep in touch.  So before you think I’m bashing ALL SM, I’m not.  But honestly, I see some people post 5, 6, 7 times A DAY!!

What I realized is maybe some people don’t actually have friends or family that they are spending time with, that maybe they are searching for a way to validate their lives!!  images-1 Everyone needs a purpose.  Something to do, a life to lead.  I believe SM has made us less social.  I like that instead of “talking on FB/Twitter” we actually get together.  Have dinner.  Have friends over more.  DO more things.  My people talk in real-time, and face-to-face.  Imagine that!  Our laughter is heard and not through an LOL!  We see one another smile and not through the use of emoticons.  We physically hug and embrace one another and sometimes, as any true friendships do, we cry together and can actually hand one another a tissue.

I am going onto “hiatus” again.  It’s the holidays and I definitely don’t have time to take away from friends and family right now….

I’m always in search of a life less ordinary, set apart and this seems to be “less ordinary” Spending time with friends and family…..What used to be the norm has now been pushed to the back burner of society.

So instead of posting about life, (or reading what others are talking about)…I’m living life.  Learning something new.  Traveling more of this amazing World!  Cooking for people.  I even suggested among my friends (that are learning Espanol) that we do a Spanish night….I’ll cook, but we can only speak Spanish! Can you say…fiesta??

Living a life less ordinary…an uncommon life…taking time out…Luke_2_13_14(2)

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas.  I hope you enjoy your holiday season, parties, feasts, family,  friends and remember the true reason for this season…

And may your two thousand fourteen be extraordinary unforgettable!!

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Easy Vegan/Vegetarian Stuffing

Easy Vegan/Vegetarian Stuffing

One of the most favorite things I cook for Thanksgiving and sometimes Christmas is stuffing or dressing, depending on where in the US you reside.  I love how all of the spices mix together like a marriage of flavors .  And it’s one reason (other than the meat consumption) why I know I could never eat Paleo.  Bread…at least for this stuffing…..is a tradition we <I> cannot miss.photo 3

Every year, my family knows, that it will grace our table.  They wait for it.  I make a ton of it; in fact oftentimes I have to mix in my giant party punch bowl to have a big enough bowl for mixing.

There’s an art to it, but once it’s mastered, it easy peasy.  My mother in law said someone asked her this year what her favorite part of Thanksgiving was and she replied, “My daughter in law’s stuffing!”

*For this recipe I cannot give exact amounts.  It all depends on how much or how little you are cooking.  This was my recipe this year.

photo 5 Vegan Stuffing

-Cubed and dried cornbread.  This year I used about 10 cups

-One and ½ large whole yellow onion

-One whole bunch of celery

2 sticks of butter or 1 cup of Vegan Butter

-One whole bunch FRESH finely chopped Rosemary

-One whole bunch FRESH finely chopped Sage

-3/4 bunch of FRESH finely chopped thyme

-1 bag or about 2 cups of dried cranberries

-1-2 cups walnuts (usually I candy the walnuts)

-Veggie Broth

-Salt and pepper to taste

In large skillet melt butter and toss in onion and celery.  Cook until onions are translucent and celery is a bit soft.  DO NOT over cook.  I like mine a bit crunchy.

When done, mix with cornbread cubes.  With my mortar and pestle, I grind up the Rosemary, Sage & Thyme, then add it to the bread. photo Allow this to mix well together and cool somewhat.  Start adding in veggie broth a little at a time.  This part will be personal preference.  Some like a more mushy texture to their dressing.  I add just enough to coat bread well, and it starts to soften a tiny bit.  I do not like overly mushy stuffing.  After this is all mixed well, I add in the dried cranberries and candied walnuts.  This year, I did regular walnuts.  Add salt and a dash of pepper and mix well.  I really try to “fluff” it more than mix it to give it a lighter texture.

We do not stuff a turkey for Thanksgiving, so after stuffing is made, place into a casserole dish and bake it on 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until heated through.photo 1

Happy Holidays from our kitchen to yours~