Christmas Means What?

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      For my animals Christmas means posing for pictures and getting caught sleeping in others. Image They do enjoy the new and different smells that we as humans can’t.   Which explains the attraction to a fresh Christmas tree by cats. Image To me it means I get to decorate! Well that’s just the fun part of Christmas, putting the village together every year and doing the advent calendar and the ornaments. Making the dog pose for the picture and the years of making my Jack Russell pose. 

Christmas means memories, happy and sad. All the memories created with loved ones make me happy. The fact that many are no longer here to create more, makes me a little sad. Some have passed on such as my Kibbie. Image  Image       Every year she would put up with my craziness and pose for the camera for over 16 years!  Image  Image  Image  

Ok enough about her, we have lost others like my Aunt Kathleen. She was so sweet and boy could she cook. Loved her Manhattan Clam chowder, stuffed shells, etc… She would call at least once a month and send cards on all the holidays. I love to watch her and her brother (my uncle) dance. “Well, dear what are you going to do? just thank God for good health and that you can pay your bills.” she would say. (sniffle) I do miss our talks  ImageImage I miss her cards and her voice and I will miss the cookies at Christmas.  

Enough Sad stuff, now Christmas means children. It’s great to watch them open their presents and scream out what they got. Adults do it too. I think it’s the one day we all seem to be about the same maturity age. 

So what does Christmas mean to you? I wish everyone could have some type of Christmas. There are some who don’t have any. It is a day set aside to celebrate the life of a child who saved us from sin (not me the other one) It is a day to spend with family and a great excuse to eat whatever.  

I can tell you that it does not mean the most expensive gifts, it is not the most lights and largest light shows, and it is not forgetting others. It should mean giving your heart to relatives, friends and maybe a stranger or two. 

Let us know what you find out.

 

 

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The Gift of Love

EarthGiftWhat was the first gift given to humans?  Many say it was love which is a great answer but take a look at Genesis (in the bible or Torah) and you will see  in Genesis 1: 29-30 it was things of this earth so we could live.  God gave us what we needed to live and prosper on this earth. It was us humans that messed it up.

Giving gifts has been a tradition since Earth was created. God gave humans plants and animals. Eve gave Adam an apple which has given the rest of the human generations,  for tens of thousands of years,  headaches and heartaches.  1 his presence by jeremy winborg portrait of mary and the baby jesus oil painting nativity Then came the first gift of Christmas which was love in the form of a baby.  In a little stable or cave when there was no Fabreeze to cover the lovely oder of the cows, donkey, goats, and chickens. God loved humans so much that he sent his son to be born as a human, grow and go through all the good and hardships humans went through and to learn how to balance being human and being God’s son.  Kids think they have it hard today, ha.

I could not imagine the taunting and name calling he had to go through. For him it was simple: he was God’s son. He also had Earthly parents that he had to respect and obey. He also was Jewish and had to follow the Earthly laws of that religion and the man made laws that surrounded each of the 10 commandments  to understand all that they went through to get to this point. All the traditions he learned and grew up with knowing that they were of the earth and man made not of the heavens. He was a child who not only had to balance chores and education, but two different realms. He couldn’t afford to get distracted by girlfriends and marriage. The bullying he went through was no picnic either.

His mother knew he was here for greater things and she could only talk to two people about it; her husband Joseph and her cousin Elizabeth. It’s safe to say she didn’t get to vent very much in her life. She had to hold it all in. She had the gift of the most understanding of mothers. She knew when he was born, his time on earth was limited and she had to share him with “the world”.  She knew she was just his earthly caretaker and she had to accept that. So she taught him about faith and answered all the questions a mother answers for her growing child. She taught him responsibility to family and friends. She showed understanding when he ran off to the temple and kind of answered back, ” Don’t you know I would be in my father’s house?”  She realized her place in his heart. So, Mary gave her son the gift of love from a mother which included patience, understanding, discipline, faith, and unspoken heartache. God knew she was strong enough to handle it, that’s why he chose her.

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So, God sent his son to endure the pains of growing up as a human. He knew what it was like to be different than the other children. He knew what it was like to be teased and probably bullied. He knew what it was like to feel like you are a disappointment to your parents. (he learned carpentry, but how good was he?).  He knew what it felt like to like girls but to stay away from them.  He knew what it was like to sit amongst people who didn’t understand what he knew and what he saw. He knew what most kids, even today, feel and think. He’s been there and done that and then he was betrayed, beaten, flogged, bullied, carried a 200 pound piece of tree for a few miles, fell a few times, got hit for falling, then had huge nails driven into his wrists and feet (splitting bone, cartilage and muscles).  If that wasn’t bad enough, the position he was in made it very difficult to breathe. He endured physical, emotional and psychological pain that we could only imagine.

God gave the gifts of the earth and  love. We should use the earth in a loving way. We should take care of the gifts that he has given us such as the animals, the trees, the plants, and the ocean.  We should seek and value our spiritual gifts whether it be teaching, encouraging, accounting, or care taking. Monetary gifts can not go with us when we go to heaven however these other gifts of love, of the spirit, they are the purposes we have awaiting us in heaven.

Quote Of The Day

Evan Sanders has a great view of life and I just have to share with you all. Enjoy!

The Better Man Project ™

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Quote Of The Day

I love this quote by Roald Dahl because he goes a few steps further than doing something that you have fun doing. It reminds me that you have to be absolutely passionate about what you are  doing. And why? Well I think it piggybacks off a Steve Jobs quote where he talks about loving what you do because when you are going after your passion things can be really difficult. So light it up! Be white hot and passionate about your craft and you will produce some incredible results. 

What do you think? 

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Holiday Traditions

Image  Every year we bring down 6-8 containers of Christmas things. One is this calendar that counts down to Christmas. Why do I have it? My parents had one that Aunt Lydia (a sweet family friend/babysitter to all) made. I have not talked about our Christmas traditions, have I?

When I was very young, living with my Mom, I don’t remember any traditions. Then at 5 I went to live with the grandparents and all I remember was a table top Christmas tree. They were quite old by then so tradition was not there. I usually went to my father’s mother’s house on Christmas Eve. That was fun. We went to church and on the way back we traveled through neighborhoods to see the lights. There is nothing like city neighborhood lights at Christmas. Then we would get back to her house and I would have to go to bed. I barely remember when my Nana would have people over for a Christmas party. I do remember the bells would ring when they left and that meant Santa was here and I had to quickly get to sleep. The next morning I would get up and go to my brother Sparky’s room and tickle his mustache until he woke. We would go down and wait for my other brother, John and Aunt Sarah (my Nana’s sister). Nana usually was up since 4am. We’d eat, then open presents, then we would go get dressed and ready for our uncle, aunt, and cousins to arrive. Uncle Lynn and Aunt Caroline would bring the Turkey. (not talking about my cousin Scott). Usually our cousins Scott and Vicki would arrive with them but in a separate car. Their sister, Wendy, moved away in 1977 to Utah, never to be seen by me again.  So, we would open more gifts, talk, eat, have a birthday cake for me, then play a game like air hockey or king in the corner. After they all left then we would play one more game of Sorry or Uno with my Nana. Then it was time to return me to my grandparents. I would then open the presents they got me and then it was bed time.

When I moved to Judy and Michael’s there were all new traditions. Christmas wasn’t just on that day, it was from the morning of the 24th until the night of the 25th. I was also introduced to what a live Christmas tree was and decorating it. There was a story behind each ornament and tradition. They were told every year. While we decorated we played “Christmas is for Children” and “All I want for Christmas is My 2 front teeth”  on the stereo and other records (anyone remember those old Vinyl discs played on a record player?) We would go to Aunt Leslie (Boo Boo) and Uncle Jerry’s house for Christmas Eve Dinner, sing carols, (Each person would choose one. That was 18 or so songs we would sing.) and then open gifts from the cousins and aunts and uncles. Sometimes we would go to the midnight service. When we got home we would put on the pajamas that Grandmother (Judy, Leslie and Nancy’s mother) gave us, then came down stairs to put our stockings up and then each of us had an ornament that Aunt Judy made and we put those up too. Pictures were taken for EVERYTHING.

Christmas Day was a full schedule. First we woke up to our stockings next to our bed and full. Next, Michael, David and I run into Mark”s room to investigate contents. We return contents to stocking and run into parent’s bed room where they “seem” sleepy. Show them everything. then we sit at top of the stairs until Aunt Judy says, with moving camera on, that santa was here and we can come down.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (we still do this with David’s children and they love it!).

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After presents are opened and thanks are given, we eat breakfast (on special china) and get dressed for church or not. Church is very casual and you bring your favorite gift. People go in their Pajamas or whatever. Uncle Michael signed our family up to open and usher, for LIFE. That means until the family line ends, we open and usher on Christmas Day. It is nice to see people who come in their pajamas, and people who have moved away (like us) coming back. After the very casual service and meditation (5 -10 min sermon ), the “who came the farthest” , “who is the oldest and youngest” and who has the most family here (our family usually wins) and singing carols (and happy birthday to Jesus and me – teens think they are embarrassed- HA!), we run back home to prepare for the Christmas Brunch and  25 or so people to arrive at our house.

Then we take an hour nap and get ready to go to Grandmother’s house. At grandmother’s we eat more (burp) and she used to make a cake in the shape of a wreath, Chocolate with chocolate pudding inside. Then we would take all the cookies that she packaged and get in cars to go caroling at the pastor’s doors and other people who may have been alone on Christmas. We come back and sit around talking and digesting and then Santa appears. he comes in telling elaborate stories about Rudolf and the others. He gives out the presents then leaves. Then at night, when I’m all tucked in bed I thank God for sending his son in human form, letting him suffer through childhood and  puberty, so as to better understand us humans.

The day after Christmas is what I call “the downloading” day. It’s when we sit around and take inventory of the things we got and the memories we made. We eat the left overs and watch a movie or play a game together as a family. It took me a few years to get used to the traditions but I finally had decided where to spend my Christmas/Birthday. The huge traditions won out. So I would go to my Nana’s the day after and not see my Aunt Caroline and Uncle Lynn  for a long time.

Most of those traditions changed.  When Nana passed, there was no more Gardiner Family Christmas. When Grandmother and Aunt Leslie Passed the Christmas eve was moved to our house and the family caroling was moved to Christmas night at her daughter’s house. We don’t go to the pastor’s homes to carol like we used to either (which could be a good thing if you heard us sing). Uncle Jerry has moved away and we are all grown up.  Nothing can ever replace these traditions and memories. The feelings that children have from these last a life time. It’s when we grow up and some traditions change but those feelings, stay the same, that you know it’s not the traditions, as much as it is the closeness and love of the family that is the best tradition of all.our family 2012

Why Should We Love God?

Well, here is a thought. You tell your child or student or niece/nephew to do something and instead of just saying, ‘yes ‘ and doing it they ask “why?” Of course your answer is “because I said so”.  Those of us who believe in God/Allah/ Yaweh sometimes are like children. So here is something that Dr. Charles Stanley from In Touch Ministries pointed out in a sermon. I added some comments to help elaborate on the lists. Let me know what you think.

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LOVING GOD

Why don’t people love God?

  1. They don’t know him
  2. They fear him
  3. They are uncomfortable with him
  4. They would have to change things in their lives
  5. It inhibits people’s conduct
  6. It makes them feel unsure about their future and their death
  7. Due to circumstances in life or in the world, questions of why does God allow things to happen.

There are some things that we, as humans, don’t need to know the “why” to just like children don’t need to always know “why” you tell them to clean or to apologize or to follow instructions. Children should just do as their parents tell them to just as we should just obey God. What we expect from our children, God expects from us.

Image Stop blaming God for Man’s blunders and problems and tragedies.

People should understand that God’s love doesn’t stop sin or human will. Bad things will always happen on this Earth. It’s how we react to it that will show our integrity, faith and love to God.

When we express our love to God we are giving ourselves to him completely so we can serve him wholly.

You know you love God because….

  1. You will want to obey him
  2. You will want to serve him
  3. You will want to share him with others
  4. You will trust him
  5. You will want to worship him
  6. You will want to give to him
  7. You will want and automatically defend him
  8. You will want to meditate on his word
  9. You will be willing to suffer for him

If suffering means getting picked on as a kid for going to church/synagogue regularly and enjoying youth fellowship, putting a cross on your high school ring, or being called “religious” in a way that makes it sound bad…. then I have suffered and survived with little to no scars from it. Let the children and others see that the suffering we endure is a grain of sand compared to what Christ went through for billions of people on this earth.

Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was and he answered, the 2 most important commandments are  : Love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. The other one is : You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 22:34-40

“What has God ever done for me?” Why should anyone love God?

  1. He Created us
  2. He sent Jesus into the world to reveal himself to us.
  3. He allowed his only begotten son to be tortured and crucified.
  4. His Commitments to us, which include:

-He will never leave us

-He supplies all our needs

-He answers our prayers

  • He forgives our sins
  • He gives us spiritual gifts
  • He fills us with the Holy Spirit
  • He has prepared a place in heaven for us
  • He is going to give us a resurrected body

5. We have created a personal relationship with him and his son.

If you live out your day doing his purpose, his will, and doing as he would do, you would be more like Christ than most because expressing the heart of God shows love. Jesus is Love.

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The Christmas Count Down

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December 1st is the start of a fun month for us. It starts with a birthday and ends with birthdays. We love Christmas time! We have no children of our own so we decorate for all the children in the area. We decorate outside and inside.  It’s our way of showing the joy in our heart regarding the reason for the season.  

The only thing we are missing from our indoor decorations is a train around the tree. We have a village that takes up 3 or 4 tables now and growing. Image  Then we do the calendar  and the hall way and the bathroom too.   I will put the newer pictures up in another posting. 

However, in all the decorations and gift buying we all need to remember that, in the end, we can’t take any of it with us. What we do take with us is the love we feel when we watch our nephews, nieces, aunts and uncles, brothers… It’s what we feel when we have not seen a relative in months or a year and we hear their voice. Christmas is THAT feeling. 

Share your Christmas memories and I will share mine. Till next time, keep reading and keep talking to me to let me know what you want to read.