Book Review:Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins

Christmas

All about Traditions of  Christmas

What Christmas Traditions are your favorite?  Have you ever wondered where on earth we get the traditions we use when we celebrate Christmas?  You know, things like Christmas Cards. Advent, and Christmas trees just to name a few.  Well, Ace takes us back in time to the times and places that these traditions became an indelible mark on our holiday celebrations.  26 chapters you will learn about the history and heart behind each of these traditions!.  Ace definitely did a lot of in-depth research that left us with some very interesting facts.  The chapters are short and could easily be read each night leading up to Christmas.

Some of the interesting facts learned in reading this book :

  • Many of our Christmas traditions were started or carried on through the Vikings.   Especially since the Vikings had the reputation of being a brutal people group. But after the Vikings became Christians it became very important that they made remembrances of their faith.
  • Christmas Seals.  They have been talked about and I never knew what they were-Stamp like stickers used on Christmas envelopes and I most certainly had no idea what they were used for.  Well, they were used for raising money in helping people beat the disease Tuberculosis.
  • Boxing Day and Epiphany- As Americans we don’t usually celebrate these but it was fascinating to earn about these traditions and I must confess I have mentioned to my husband that celebrating and teaching on Epiphany would be neat for our family!

My Thoughts-

Well, I enjoyed this book immensely.  Though I didn’t get it finished in my timeline I will say that it really doesn’t matter when you read this book.  I do think it would be cool to read a chapter a night with our family in the days leading up to Christmas.

It’s so amazing just how much of our Christmas traditions are tied back to the Birth of Baby Jesus too.  It’s a great teaching tool for kids, and it’s easy to understand.  And it would also be very simple to turn into a teaching tool for even younger kids!  ANYONE can enjoy this book.  It is a delight to read for sure.

I also appreciated the few times throughout this book when the author admitted that he just didn’t have the answers to when exactly a tradition started.  Sometimes details like a specific person, place or time are not available and I thought it was neat that he admitted to not knowing.

I honestly cannot wait till next Christmas season when we will delve into this book as a family!

I give this book 5 Christmas lights! Check out this book on Amazon. 

And a super Big THANK YOU to BookLook Bloggers for giving me a free copy of this book to review!  I always give my honest review and am expected to do so!

 

Jesus, Me and Nehemiah- It’s a Heart Thing

It's a Heart thing

Jesus, Me, and Nehemiah- It’s a Heart Thing!

I have been here in our camper for the last four days. 

Just me…ALONE, me and Jesus that is.  And we have been working.  Yesterday I began reading a PDF book I received in my Ultimate Homemaking Bundle a few months back.  The title is Revival by Christi Gee.  She walks you through portions of the book of Nehemiah where Israel is transformed.  One of her thoughts really struck me and got me thinking…

Christi Says about Nehemiah 8 & 9:

Israel went through a process to experience confession and repentance. In that process the Israelites spent THREE HOURS listening to the law being read  and the history of Israel’s failures and sins by Ezra and that brought them to their knees crying out, confessing to their God for repentance for ANOTHER THREE HOURS! (paraphrased from Revival)

MY THOUGHTS:

It took Israel concentrated and extended time in God’s Word to experience growth and yet in today’s American churches we complain, moan and groan if the pastor goes over his “allotted” 30 minutes by 15. I have even read discussions from pastors on reducing preaching to 15 min total. We as Americans have lost sight as to why we NEED church (Church is for the teaching of believers.  Instruction in how to live the Christian life and encouragement to keep fighting the hard Battle for Jesus!). It’s become a deed we check off our “good Christian checklist” so we can get on with our week. 

There are People groups in this world who “count it  all joy” to be taught God’s word for hours at a time, there are even churches (though they are few and far between) in this country that still sit and listen to their pastor teach from God’s word for an hour or more. We sit in churches week after week and we say to ourselves “I’m so thankful we live in a Christian nation,” when in reality we lie to ourselves, not only about being a Christian Nation BUT being in a Christian Church.   Let’s be honest with ourselves. Churches today look more like social gatherings than sitting at the feet of our teachers soaking up truth because we need it to thrive in our daily walk as believers of Jesus. It was their  fuel that kept them motivated to keep walking forward rather than running and hiding in fear of persecution.   Yes our country was founded on Christian principles, but our forefathers sat in church each week from about 9 in the morning til noon.  They then took a break for lunch and came back for another 2-3 hours of teaching depending on the pastor and time of year. That is what a Christian nation was built on. That was the foundation that was laid. 

(Did I mention that in many of those churches the people stood all of that time and others sat on hard wooden benches with no backs- thats dedication)  

Continue reading »

Thankfulness Challenge- My Pastor Husband Pastor’s Appreciation Motnth

husband

The  missed oppertunity

I have been re-reading some past blog posts, and do you know what I realized?  I don’t blog very much about my husband!!  That’s mostly because I respect his desire to not be put into the spotlight  and it’s not that I am choosing to disrespect his wishes today BUT there are some days that you have to give credit where credit is due.

I was doing some prep work for a blog post for later today and I was overcome by the amazingness of my husband.  The things not everyone gets to see . The things this man does and I get to support him in. The things I am sometimes  guilty of taking for granted.

His Many Hats

He wears many hats and God has gifted him the ability to do them well.  He and I have been married for almost 15 years.  We have 4 kids ages 12,11,alomst 10, and 7.  One has Autism and another has a learning disability known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder.  This is a huge part of his life but the other huge part is his calling to be pastor.   We have been at our current church for almost 9 years.  I have watched him spend countless hours ministering to people in some very unconventional ways.  He has the unique ability to meet people where they are, work side by side with them and create a relationship with them.  My husband is so dedicated to his call that he is constantly seeking to grow in it,  to learn and grow deeper his relationship with Christ.  I have watched him pour countless hours into people, to shed tears on their behalf and still treat them with the love of Jesus when he is hurt by them.    He is a real leader who can lead without an iron fist or micromanage the people he is leading.  He also takes time to to fix broken things at church. He runs errands for church.  he runs errands for home and as I looked at the calendar page for October I noticed there were things missing from his weekly activities

  • Phone call
  • emails
  • texts
  • visits
  • people in crisis
  • emergencies
  • last minute meetings
  • Prep for sermons
  • prep for 2 Bible studies  a week

And this doesn’t even begin to cover family things like convent care trips and the like.

He as a person

Though he will tell you otherwise he is intelligent and skilled in communicating the word of God.  I have watched him painstakingly pour over God’s word sometimes changing his sermon multiple times to be sure to bring God’s truth, even if it stings deep within his own soul.  and with that goes transparency of his heart sharing both from the pulpit and in private his struggles.  He does not view himself as higher or better than another.  He has strove to continue to grow in his education, that enables him to sharpen and fine tune his skills.

One of the greatest things about this man that I count as a blessing from God is his desire to do whatever it is he has set his hand to, and to do it well.  Many people don’t get a chance to see this, but I count it a privilege to get a front row seat.   To the countless hours counseling in person at our table, on the phone and via text message (yes that really can happen). I get to watch him wear himself thin as he goes from one meeting to the next, ones where he spends hours, days and weeks praying for and pouring over.  I count it a privilege to  Get to be the one who shares in his greatest joys and his deepest sorrows.  I have watched him help others try to pick up shattered pieces of great disappointments.

People are important to Him

He makes time for everyone though that is rarely seen .  It is done  in secret to protect those who are hurting.  He holds so much  between him and God even I do not know all that he has been told.  He drops his plans, and desires to run to the aid of another.  He changes  his work schedule to meet others needs and has done so, most jobs would have fired him.  And this is why  some days our grass is not mowed or the garbage has not been taken to the transfer station.  He views our cars and home as not our own but those things belong to God, things to be used for His service. They are just on loan to us to be used for God’s work.

Care for our family

Most people don’t realize that he is the sole driver of our family.  Something he committed to nearly 16 years ago when he asked me to marry him.  He knew it was highly unlikely that I would never be able to see well enough to drive.  So sermons are prepared as I take care of kids appointments, emails are sent and visits are made in-between  all the craziness.  He is an amazing multi-taskr.  he uses every spare moment he can.

A week  ago I posted this picture of something that is rare.

pastor husband

We had already

  • y picked up kids at 11:45
  • ate lunch
  • took headache medicine to the other child at school
  • gone to two parent teacher conferences
  • worked
  • sermon prep

The poor guy had a migraine.  And had about a half an hour before we had to eat dinner and leave for Awana.  When I posted the picture to social media it was about the cat.  She doesn’t snuggle with just anyone.  She likes him a lotAnd there were very supportive comments on social media.  BUT comments came outside of social media that were not so kind. And that is sad.  For a  man who rarely if ever takes time for himself, who pours so much of himself into others.  Who seeks to build community and build others up.  Who gives everything he has and then some. Who bends over backwards for anyone who asks his help.

I am truly sorry I posted it….for the flack he has taken.

So Grateful

  1. So for all of this I want to take the time to thank God for all that he does both the seen and the unseen.  The 80+ hours per week for church the 10-20 hours a week for his other job and the countless hours for our family.  His ministry is so far deeper than most can imagine, even within the community.
  2. I am grateful that he loves us and takes care of us.  Enough to step up and provide in different ways.  that he makes sure we always have working vehicles. that he makes sure that we are cared for.
  3. I am thankful that I get to watch.  I get a front row seat to his ministry, our ministry together.This also means that sometimes the seats up close see the messy things too.  Those moments when people are so wrapped up in themselves to see what is really going on.   Im so grateful he includes me.  so many pastors and wives live two separate lives. I saw it while we were in seminary. Couples who did their own things, separately.  When I am leading Bible study, he is watching the ladies kids.  He helps  with the RGT conference.  He has mentored young men alongside me at the Pregnancy center, reaching deep into the messiness of our community.
  4. I am so grateful to get to watch him grow into the man God always knew he would be.   It’s huge blessing to see him step out and try new things to gain boldness.
  5. To watch him give his whole life to Jesus in service.  That he holds nothing back. To sacrifice.

To My Pastor

In Short during this month dedicated to showing appreciation to  our pastors.  I want to say a great BIG thank you.

Thank you for being a selfless example of what a godly man should be, not only for our own children but to the kids who know and love you!

Thank you for reaching me every Sunday , and every other day what the Bible teaches.  I love sitting under your teaching and I learn so much.

Thank you  for teaching me how to show love and grace through the good, the bad and the ugly.

AND THANK YOU for asking me to be apart of this journey with you 15 years ago.  Thank you for seeing me as God does, as a women with potential NOT just as I am a broken imperfect person.

I will gladly serve with you another 15 years and until God sees fit to call us  Home!

1 comment

Write 31-Day 1 – Why Confidence?

ConfidenceI know I know, it’s day 2 and I am already behind.  That’s because I have been wrestling with….you guessed it a lack of confidence.  It has been something that I have wrestled with since I was very young.  And I must confess right here and right now that some of this has to do with my personality and then some of that REALLY has to do with circumstances that have happened as well.

And that leads me to tonight’s topic, WHY CONFIDENCE?

Well last year at this time I was beginning to really contemplate my word for the following year.  But life was about to get CRAZY!  We went from a household of 6 to a household of ten.  The circumstances of that change is not something to be discussed on the internet, but it was something both hubby and I felt very strongly that hubby and I were called to do.  And to this day we will stand by that decision and we are glad we did!  But in all of this I came to become glaringly aware that I doubted almost all that I did.  But as I prayed about this new found fear that gripped my life I began to pray….HARD! And you know what I realized?  It has ALWAYS been there.

Fear of doing the wrong things ruled my life.

Fear of making people angry.

Fear of disappointing people.

Fear of failure.

Fear of Failure to make the wrong choice.

Fear of ruining someone else’s life.

FEAR ran my life.

Fear is the antithesis of confidence.  Fear gives control to someone else. HMMMM.

I cannot pin down the moment that confidence became my word in January of this year but I knew it two or three weeks into January when the lightbulb finally went on.  Then came the study, searching out the verse that would become my verse for the year and I landed in the book of Jeremiah

Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

7.  “But blessed is the one who trusts the Lord,

whose confidence is in Him

8.  They will be like a tree  planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.

WOW WOW WOW

Did you catch all that verse  said?  Well Have no fear, WE ARE GOING TO BREAK IT DOWN!

Because this is so important for ALL of us to understand.

So That is why confidence.  I needed confidence .   But not just confidence in myself either.  I have NOTHING to offer.  Despite all my friends thinking I am the strongest person they know, That is a direct quote people .  I stand back and I look at myself in the mirror and I see this weak, broken person who doubts every  little thing.  I needed a bigger answer.  I needed God-fidence .  It did me absolutely no earthly good to have confidence in me.  I had nothing to offer outside of what Christ has done in me.  I was fearful.

Now the thing is I am still fearful.  I am 9 months into this journey.  I have not arrived and I have to give that fearfulness over to God, and realize He is far bigger than me.

So even though I lack confidence when …

I am fearful, He is  all-knowing and all-powerful

I am weak, He is strong.

I fail, he ALWAYS succeeds.

I am not enough for whoever, He is always enough for everyone AT ALL TIMES!

I am imperfect, He is perfect.

And there is so much more.

I know this word places a high value on self-confidence.  Even the church does.  Because only the self-confident will stand up for themselves.  But I am here to tell you that standing up for yourself, tearing another person down to get your point across and voicing your pet peeves is NOT a biblical principle.( NOTE:: There  is a difference between  fighting for your  ” self imposed rights” versus  your physical safety.  If you find yourself in danger LEAVE!!). Fight for what God says is right not what you think should be right!  That is called entitlement.

Time and again we are told not to fight for ourselves but that God will fight for us.

Bible Knowledge .Com lists out 29 verses that Talks all about relying on God  to fight for us!

May I encourage you to look at the verses tonight and tomorrow.  Then tomorrow we will delve into my verse for the year and we will be discussing what God-fidence REALLY looks like.

And then hopefully later tomorrow I will get caught up with Day 3 and we will look at the differences between self confidence and God-fidence.

Have a GREAT NIGHT

Blessings

Mary

Happy Homemaker Monday 9/252017

6-12-2017

Happy Monday to all my wonderful friends I wanted to say sorry I haven’t been around in quite a while I was reluctantly forced into a blogging break as we have been running into a crazy schedule and then (GASP) my computer kicked the bucket…for good! so I had to wait for my new one!  so she is here and it has been so much fun getting aquatinted with her!   you will get to catch a glimpse of her further down!  Well I hope you have a wonderfully splendid week…I hear it is actually supposed to turn fall like by the end of this week!

So on with the Happy Homemaking

The weather:::  HOT! As in the 90’s  The hottest it has been all summer long (AND it is a few days into fall)

On my reading pile::: My Bible One thousand Gifts And a bunch of others

Movies or Shows I watched this weekend::: Fixer Upper

On my TV::: A Movie on PureFlix

On the menu for this week:::

Monday Cheesy Chicken Pasta Bake
Tuesday- Beef Stroganoff
Wednesday-Chicken and Dumplings
Thursday-Grilled Cheese and soup
Friday -Beef Stew
Saturday- sandwiches before the hayride, hotdogs after
Sunday-Meatball Subs

On The To-Do List::  What’s not on the to-do list.  Life has been so incredibly busy that I just kinda feel like everything needs looked after right now!!

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::  I am working on decorations for The Raising Generations Today Conference next month….watch for a sneak peek in the next couple of days…EEK I am so EXCITED!!!

Happening this week:::CRAZINESS…church haired. Bible studies at least three and RGT planning meeting and the list goes o and on

Looking around the house::: I’d rather look outside to be honest

From the camera:::Happy

The new laptop and her lovely accessories

What I’m wearing today:::well I have had two outfits on today  Both of which included my walk for Life T-shirt and I had khakis on for little beans appointment and then I changed into blu capris when I got home

One of my simple pleasures:::  sitting outside.  I don’t care what I’m doing but I love to sit outside and enjoy Creation

Bible verse, Devotional:::   This week I will be meditating on my verse for the year

Jeremiah 17:7-8New International Version (NIV)

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”

For More Happy Homemaker Posts Check out Diary of a Stay At Home Mom

2 comments