Advent ~ Layers of Fragrance

Advent ~ Layers of Fragrance
It seems when an idea comes that I feel I should follow-up on, then I see things that I might not ordinarily see. This was one of them. When I see them, I also get an idea at the same time, which is why I take the picture. Here’s todays:
I know you have had the experience of an onion sitting in a bowel or basket in your kitchen, and you don’t smell it just sitting there. But, if you start pulling off the layers of the onion, or cut off the end, the fragrance fills the air and can even make you cry. But it doesn’t happen until you start to work with the onion.
Just as this pine cone ornament has layers that make up the pine cone, so Advent has layers of the fragrance of Christmas. A pine cone has fragrance that comes from the inside out. This reminds me of the fragrance of Christmas. There are layers of Advent, such as, what we see…lights, gift ideas in windows, busy people, candle light, nativity scenes and Christmas Trees. Then we have the smells of Christmas… pine and spruce, hot chocolate or cider, and baking of cookies and goodies. But the deeper fragrance for a lot of us, is the peace that Jesus brings to Christmas. He came to this world with the smell of hay and animals around Him in the barn, and the visits of the wise men bringing gold and frankincense and myrrh. The layers of simplicity and yet the many layers of complexity that He would surround His birth. We are still learning about the layers of God and His love for us as He sent His Son to earth. If we focus on the real meaning and fragrance of this Season, we can enjoy the simplicity of loving each other and being together.
We are like that pine cone. We might need to shed some of our outer layers of experience and hurts, in order to let the real fragrance come out in us. The pine cone becomes much more fragrant once it is off the tree and comes in to the warmth. Allow God to work and peel off some of the layers, so that, we can be fragrant and reflect the joy and peace He wants to give us. On that starry night, his messages was, “Peace on earth, good will to men!”
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me…
Until next time~
JoAnn
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Advent ~ Light and Reflection

Advent ~ Light and Reflection
 
Today’s ornament is a bit bigger and is something for the steps entering my home. Why? I want to remind myself that as I come and go, the representation of the light and it’s reflection gives me light unto my path. A light that reminds me of simpler times, and that I don’t have to have everything perfect to enjoy Christmas. But what IS important, is that I look for the light that God shines on moments of each day so I can watch for God working in every situation of my day. It’s also about love…
 
This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!!!

Bubbling Joy

Advent ~ Bubbling Joy

This vintage Christmas light reminds to have joy that bubbles up from my heart and soul and spills over for others to see. “What is it about you that you are always living with joy??” Well… we have a reason to bubble over with joy…it’s that sweet baby Jesus born in a stable. Let that joy flow freely in praise for the gift of Jesus.

I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my ♥️ heart!

Advent ~ Welcome the Heat

Just as this vintage ornament needs the heat of a light to move its reflector, so we sometimes need the heat of the Holy Spirit, who prompts us to move forward, even when we would rather just hang around where it’s comfortable. It can take a little heat to get us moving out of our comfortable place sometimes. Today, let the prompting of the Holy Spirit lead you to follow the Star… to where ever He wants you to go. Take the journey.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,

Fill me with life anew,

That I may love what Thou dost love,

And do what Thou wouldst do.

PS. I guess I am supposed to share a song each time too, because one has come to me each time I’m posting. 😊

Advent ~ Light a Candle

Advent always starts with a candle for me…a special one. Something I light each day. It reminds me that baby Jesus came into this world to be the Light of the World and to save us from all our sins. We too, should be a light in the darkness. Let our light so shine among men…

Jesus is the Light, he’s the Light of the world…remember that song? (Boom boom boom)

How about this one?

The Lord is my Light, and my salvation, whom shall I fear, Whom shall I fear…

Thanksgiving After

Today as I write about my last several days, my heart overflows with all the love and caring that I have experienced this year around my birthday.  With this last week being Thanksgiving, it has made me even more thankful for everything in my life.

I know many who don’t want to think about birthdays and another year, but I have always enjoyed my birthday; the fact that I have been blessed to live another year with my family and friends.  Thanksgiving always gets mixed up with my birthday…but I have always just rolled with it.  It has never really bothered me because I always had my family around to help me celebrate!  I might have to celebrate a day or two early, or sometimes on Thanksgiving and I am cooking, but I didn’t really mind.  This year was no different…my birthday was two days after Thanksgiving but my boys were here to visit and I had family and friends from all over wishing me a Happy Birthday!  It doesn’t get better than that!  Cards and messages that say deeper things that are sometimes harder to say face to face, my son working hard to give a special birthday/Christmas gift to me and hubby, and celebrating my special gifts from my sweet man.  So much to be thankful for.

The day after, we slept in a bit and Aaron did some work again on the house.  In the late afternoon the boys and I went to a movie together.  I hadn’t gone to a movie at a theater in like thirteen years!  So fun…they bought me the ticket and popcorn and Aaron and Ethan shared a pop and Jesse and I shared a pop.  And oh!!!!  Red licorice;  oh yes.  I have taught them well!!  So much fun to have that time together with them.  When they were young, I found things that I could have in common with my boys.  We collected sports cards together, comics, and all things Bruce Lee.  So we watch the Marvel movies, and Bruce Lee and they have memorabilia from it all.  I love that we can still enjoy that together.  Now we enjoy target practicing together also!  On Friday we had a movie morning together with laughs and relaxing times.  We made a last-minute decision, typical of our family, to bag the bad weather and just go out and target practice.  I got to shoot my new hand gun that was a gift from my hubby.  We put up a canopy and were fortunate to have just a few showers, and had a super time.  Stayed out until dark and then went back into town for pizza.  Great way to spend a day!

In between all the fun times, Aaron, my middle son, worked on the changes in our bathroom and hallway.  We got a shower door put up, trim work on the floor and ceiling and also a completed shower wall cover above our shower.  It’s all kind of a rustic look in that room.  It is looking nice.  There is still a couple of things to finish, but it looks great to have it more complete.  What talent he has!  I’m so proud of him and what he can do.  I pray God blesses him for all the help he gives his momma!!

I would love to say that living in thankfulness is more the norm than not the norm in our world.  But that isn’t the case.  We have people complaining about weather, traffic, and someone too slow in front of us, or things just don’t go the way we think they should go.  We hate this or hate that.  I have found that thinking that way doesn’t do anything to make me feel any better, nor does it help anyone around me.  However, living with a thankful heart means its hard to be negative.  When we think about the good things, we can’t think about the negative at the same time.  It has always been my goal to live with a thankful heart even in the hard  stuff.  I have visited places where people don’t have homes, or if they do they are living with whatever they can find for walls and a piece of tin if they are lucky, for their roof.  Food is scarce if they have any.  The change of clothes may be non-existent.  When I came back home, I couldn’t believe people complained about the very blessings they have.  I came back home vowing that I would never complain about things.  If I do, the Holy Spirit taps my shoulder right away.  I am so blessed; rich actually in terms of other places in the world.  Today, if you are reading this, you are breathing, you can see, you have a computer or phone to read this, you have a place to sleep and food to eat.  You may even be able to go out to eat at times you choose.  You have provision.  Remember those who don’t.  Not everyone is out there without a home or provision because they want to be.  The unexpected happened, and that changed their lives.  I know hard.  I have a first-born son, whom I love deeply, that has chosen, for over 14 years at this point, to not be a part of our family.  That is a deep hurt.  I know also that some do not think that is as hard as losing a person to death.  In many ways for me,  I think it is worse…a very helpless feeling.  But I pray for him daily and one day his heart may soften to see what he is missing by not having relationship with his family, especially his brothers and nephew.  I pray that is so.  God knows.  I leave it in His hands.

As the day ends today, the lights dim on one special day, and I turn the lights on for the Christmas Season.  Every year, it is my goal to enjoy the Presence of
Jesus in my life more than the presents under my tree.  I am thankful for those also, but I’m just as happy with something done for me as I am for anything else.  For me, I celebrate Christmas because of what Jesus has done for me.  THAT is my focus and I try to keep the right focus and remember to relax to enjoy all the facets of Christmas.  Just having my family together is my present.  I love light as you know, so just looking at a Christmas Tree with the lights on blesses me every night.  THAT feeds my soul.  I don’t put it up and then ignore it.  I take it in every time I look at it.  I enjoy each ornament that is on our tree because each one has meaning to me.  Don’t let the times of hardship keep you from seeing the blessings in your life as well.  It is always hard when we have lost something or someone, in our lives, and the holidays approach us.  So… I am praying for you this Season.  If you need help or a person to talk to, find someone who you can share your heart with.  It’s ok to ask for help.  However, Jesus is always there.  I pray that you will find comfort in Jesus, and allow Him to walk through this time with you.  Maybe you will share a tradition of the lost one, clip a picture of

them on your tree, tell a story about their life, or plan a get-together with a friend so you aren’t alone, or even invite someone to share a coffee or dinner together with you during this Season.  Share the love with someone and you will be the one blessed.  Do what you feel most comfortable doing for this time in your life and where you are.

So with a heart bursting with gratefulness, I leave you with a sense of gratitude I have for each of you who come to visit with me here on the blog!  I love it when I hear something has been encouraging to you.  I’m no different from you. I have the same struggles as you may have.  But I do have a Savior who never leaves me.  Never!  THAT is something to shout about!  Keep it simple and enjoy the Season.  Let the lights of Christmas remind you to take a deep breath and enjoy the moment… truly realize how blessed you are.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

A Wrapped Present ~ The Other Side of the Door

Sometimes we have to walk through open doors whether we feel courageous or not.  Open doors…  Have you experienced an open door recently?  Did you walk through, or did you stand outside the door and think about all the reasons you don’t think you should open the door and walk through?

If we weren’t afraid or unsure of what we are hearing or feeling, it would be amazing what we could do; and do it in confidence.  I have never been afraid to go through a new door, for the most part.  I’m open to new experiences and doing something different.  But one of the things I have discovered is that I can’t depend on even what the closest people to me may say to me about it.  What I need to do is remember that it isn’t them that God has spoken to.  He told me.  They may not be able to see what I see, or hear what I hear.  Nothing wrong with that in particular, but it’s more about where I am at the present time in my life.  In your case, God may be speaking to you, and He wants you to follow Him.  The crazy part is that if God can put things in the world together and keep it going like He does every day, that is the same God who is asking me to follow Him through the door!  Why would I say no????  It’s scary walking through the door, but if He is encouraging us to go through, He is on the other side with His hand extended to me to walk forward with Him.  I know it can be a lonely time too because you are walking though the door by yourself.  You have to be the obedient one. It may isolate for you for a while, because He has something to teach you.  But you will have peace, because you have done what God has set before you.  That brings peace and the circumstances together.  He is a comforter of my soul.  If I am in His will, I will have peace and joy deep within.

This time of year brings with it a sense of expectation; being together with family, traditional foods,  shopping, good music, and giving and receiving gifts.  It is all about anticipation.  Here is an example:

Just two days ago, I received a big box in the mail from Norway.  I was told to expect it.  So I WAS expectant!   Then it came!  I was so excited that I opened the big box right away.  Inside were wrapped presents.  I am terrible about that kind of thing.  I can’t wait to open them, and I can’t hardly wait for a person to open a gift from me either.  That is especially true when I KNOW I have found the perfect gift for them!  I found one gift that said “Happy Birthday” on it and thought, “Yes!!!!  I can open this one since it is ALMOST my birthday!” So I opened it and found a lovely antique teapot from Norway.  Wonderful!  What joy!!!  Later on…I kept looking at those other packages.  I thought that I really needed to get a grip and just leave the packages alone.  I could never tell her I opened them, so that helped for a while.  But then… I would see them again and I really wanted to see what was inside.  After a while, all I could think about was seeing what was in the packages!!  Weeellllll…  I have to put myself in a corner for time out, because…shssssh…don’t tell my cousin, but I opened my packages and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE everything!!!  Oh my!  So awesome!  It made me cry because of the thoughtfulness in the gift selections.

This, my friend, is how we should feel when God opens up a door for us…we should anticipate what it can mean to us and to our future.  It’s like the unopened package that is sitting there waiting for us to open.  It draws us in.  We should be excited for something new in our life IF we believe God wants only good for us. Some don’t go through the open door and unwrap the present because they are afraid of what may lay ahead.  I say, “Go ahead and open it!  Walk through that door!”  God has a plan for you and He loves to see us excited about what He is doing in your life.  That door may be that you have to find a “new” way of doing life.  But whatever it is, He wants you to know that He is on the other side patiently waiting for you to open the door.  It’s like a song I sang for church many times, “You must open the door.  When Jesus comes in, He will save you from sin, but you must open the door.”  No matter what the door in your life is, you are the only one who can open it.

So…as the time of be thankful in tangible ways approaches us, let’s ask God where He wants to take us as we go into this time of  year.  Be expectant about what He may have for you.  Just like the gifts that are going to be under your tree are wrapped up all pretty, remember that God has a gift waiting for you to open.  Trust Him.  Trust His wrapping.  Trust the gift.

And…don’t be afraid to let the child in you be excited about the door in front of you.  Open it and let the light shine in!  See where it may lead you.  It’s a beautiful thing!!

Until next time…

~JoAnn