Advent ~ Homemade Treasures

Advent ~ Homemade Treasure 
 
This ornament is a true treasure. Not only was it made by a very special man, but that man was the uncle to a very special friend. That friend shared this ornament with me. I’m nostalgic like that. Many items in my home have special meaning that is triggered by the memories attached to the item I have. The fact that this is homemade makes me happy. This ornament would have to be around 50 years old.
 
Let what is around you feed your soul today and quiet your spirit. Every time I see this ornament, I think of the hands that made it and the hands that shared it. And…I am very grateful for both.
 
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart…down in my heart to stay.
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Advent ~ Stockings

Advent ~ Stockings
 
How many of you grew up with stockings hanging on the fireplace or wall or someplace that was available? I did. The presents were opened on Christmas Eve, and the stockings were opened on Christmas Morning at my house. It was exciting to see what goodies could be fit into the stocking! Our stockings were surprisingly filled and left for us while we slept. What fun to get into those! Some times it was a small toy and fruit and nuts. Not like today where the stocking filers can be as expensive as the gifts. I did that for my kids growing up with small items they could use. However, I haven’t done them for years. The “small things” have gotten pretty expensive.
 
I have always felt that it is the thought behind the giving that counts most. I can’t see spending so much money on gifts at Christmas, that I am in debt after Christmas. That’s not how it is meant to be…trying to outdo someone. I don’t want my kids to feel the need to do that either. I am happy that we can be together. That’s my gift.
 
This year, I have went back to that type of giving. Things that have meaning to them, and some things I made. I want to share with them that I know they will like, but makes it fun for me, not stressful. Home made gifts or special treasures. Even sharing with them something that they may not get until “later” is fun for me! I like to see them receive it. THAT is what Christmas is about.
 
So now I have shared my kids’ stockings with them, except for one. So they can hang them for decorations or a keepsake. But in my house, the stocking reminds me to stick with what counts most…being together and sharing a meaningful gift. Keep it simple.
 
All the stockings were hung by the chimney with care…
Until next time…
JoAnn

Advent ~ Angels

Advent ~ Angels
 
It’s great to know that I have angels protecting me through out my day. Who knows what I would have experienced had they not protected me. This little angel reminds me of that and the fact that my help is a prayer away. Angels watch over us, protect us, and all at God’s command. That is comforting to me. He loves me enough to give me angels to protect me, and the Holy Spirit to live in me.
 
When we are going through “stuff”, angels are at war for us in the spiritual realm. It is my prayer that when they see my feet hit the ground in the morning, that the devil says, “Oh no! She is up again!” Yep! Watch out!!
 
Be led this Christmas week by a loving God who loves you enough to send His only Son. THAT’S a special gift!
 
Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plain.
Until next time…
JoAnn

Advent ~ In The Little Things

Advent ~ In The Little Things
 
I had fun giving Ethan, my grandson, the smallest Christmas present. And I made it one of the ornaments on the tree that he had to look for. Of course, something he got wouldn’t work without it. He thought it was so fun to have the littlest gift ever! It’s amazing that something so small can be so vital to a piece of technology now, but it is!
 
Another little…That “little babe” in the manger did something amazing…God sent His only son to come to earth in the form of that little baby. That small babe did miraculous things during his time on earth, and for us eternally.
 
It can also be a little thing such as a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa or cider that can bring joy. It may be a scene out your window, on your computer or phone. It can be the lights we see all around us. But those little things can make the world start turning again in your life if you are having a difficult time. Ethan was quite joyful to open the littlest gift and find his card for the camera he received. That little gift made his world start turning.
 
That little thing made my heart swell. So we went outside and made “little thing” memories.
 
One for the little bitty baby.. born, born, born in Bethlehem.
Until next time…
JoAnn

Advent ~ Traditions

Advent ~ Traditions
 
This Scandinavian heart was my first Norwegian ornament. I was fascinated by how they were formed, and then of course, I like hearts too, so it was perfect for me. I was quite young when I got it. It is on my tree every year.
 
Traditions are activities we do that are special to us. They are ways to celebrate our heritage and our family life. We grow up with them. If asked, we all have traditions that were part of our growing up years. You may have chosen to make your own as you got older. But they are a part of our lives all year-long, but especially meaningful to us on holidays.
 
You see, some are given to us over and over. Some we see later in our lives and so we incorporate them into our lives. Here are just a few of mine:
 
~Christmas Eve is Lutefisk and usually ham for non Lutefisk eaters.
~Lefse is served.
~I make traditional krumkaker, which is my favorite.
~Other traditional cookies and goodies.
~I have a wood piece with advent drawers for 25 days of Christmas.
~I always enjoy setting a cozy table scape.
~I have a Santa and Mrs Santa that my mom painted but never finished and I display it each year.
~We always toast of thanks with special cider before we eat.
~We open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve.
We don’t go all out on each other for gifts. Often times, it is something we can do for the person. Christmas Eve is the special celebration for us.
~Easy and lazy morning Christmas Day and usually at home.
~I have candelabras that are in two of my windows, since I only have two so far. This is something I finally found in the last few years and started with one and I hope each year to add one so I have it for all the windows.
~I’m big on candles, so I have several lit throughout my house.
~I put up my dad’s Christmas Tree every year and light it.
~The smell of pine in the house.
~It’s become hard to do now but I used to make Kringler cookies and we all sat at the table and rolled and made them.
~I also make Chinese Noodle Chocolate/Butterscotch cookies that if I don’t make, the guys ask where they are.
 
Those are just a few from my house. Fun memories. Traditions are good for us. Don’t be afraid to start new ones either! It can be hard during this season also for those of you who are alone, or lost a loved one, because of the traditions you enjoyed together. That’s ok. In the future, you may find you are able to come back to some of those traditions. Also, if your normal traditions seem like it’s too much to do, make a new one that is easier to do this year. Sometimes it is the most simple things that your family remembers. Start something new with your family, and they will take that with them when they have their own place. Quiet your soul so that you can enjoy Christmas… that is for what it means to you right now, this year. It is such a wonderful time to be thankful for all He has done.
 
It’s your story. Pass it along, not just in the doing but in the telling of why it is a tradition. Think about what you are doing as your traditions and then share how it came to be or why you have chosen to keep the tradition. We each have a story…don’t forget to tell yours!
Until next time…
JoAnn

Advent ~ Friends

Advent ~ Friends
 
This ornament hangs on my tree because of a friend that shared it with me as a Christmas Gift. I love it for many reasons…its red, it reflects wonderful light, and it is LeCreuset, which I love cooking with, and also because of the thoughtfulness of the gift. But most of all, I love it because it is from a very dear friend.
 
Friends are important to me. Because of that, I try to be the best friend I can back to them. This ornament reminds me that this time of year is a time to be grateful for all God has given to me, and friends and family are tops on my list! My friends have seen me through a LOT! I also have been with them through a LOT! What a blessing and treasure it is to have them in my life! So… when I see something on my tree that they have shared with me, or I use something they have given me, my heart is full. Every. Time.
 
Remember your friends at Christmas. A special hand written note to tell them how much you appreciate them. A phone call if you haven’t talked in a while. We never know where they are at in their life. It may look fine from the outside, but there may be some real tough stuff going on in the inside. Your note, or call, or cookies, or visit, may be just what they need to lift their spirit. God is timely like that… He will bring them to mind. Don’t just say, “Yes I should….”. Do the thing! It’s the time of giving…giving of yourself is FREE!
 
Lean on me, when I’m not strong. I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on. (It isn’t a hymn or chorus, but perfect just the same).
Until next time…
JoAnn

Advent ~ Open Doors

Advent ~ Open Doors
I loved finding this ornament several years ago because to me at the time, it represented my home; especially my office. Today in this home, it represents my cabin/office. It represents invitation, welcome, and expectation of what is to come. I wrote JoAnn’s Studio on the picture to personalize it for me. (And Mail on the mail slot :)) It is my study place, reading spot, my creative space, and my escape.
Did you know that Doors are one of the languages of God? So this year that made me excited when I saw this ornament in my box. I decided to use it to share. Maybe during this Season of Advent/Christmas, it is sadness, or fear of the future, or not knowing, or maybe unanswered prayer that makes you keep the door of your heart closed. Satan likes to get us discouraged, I think, especially this time of year because He knows if we catch the real meaning of this Christmas Season, and live by it, we will be changed for more than this few days of December!
What ever it is, swing wide the door and welcome it! Don’t fear it. If you are a believer than the Holy Spirit is IN you! That means we have nothing to fear. Just call on Him and He will answer. He gave us the Holy Spirit to be in us, so we can call on the Holy Spirit to take over the situation. Trust Him…answer the knock…open the door.
When Jesus comes in, He will save you from sin, but YOU must open the door…
Until next time…
JoAnn