1441273_10201627269256256_1776938028_n1) Read this.   Let’s save the word “persecuted” for those who actually are. Like these people. And not just the Christians…. there are so many others. Just sayin.

2) “No” Is a just fine answer. We tend to think we have to do it all. If we can’t, we feel compelled to give a valid justification for why we can’t. We don’t have to. Sometimes, “No.” Is enough.Let’s practice- say it with me:

No, I cannot bake cookies for 14,000 elementary students.”  (Each with unique allergies, including but not limited to: gluten. nuts, milk, eggs, chocolate, fruit etc…..I’m pretty sure those options leave you with beef jerky cookies. But then there are vegans.. so- you lose. No matter what.) “No, I can’t host the Holidays this year.” “No, I can’t buy gifts for every human being I’ve ever had contact with.” No, I can’t re-decorate to accommodate my picky inlaws before they come spend the holidays with us.”  “No, I can’t donate to every heart wrenching cause just because it’s the holidays.” “No. Just No.” Pretty much- Insert whatever thing it is someone wants you to do- and add: no.” You can soften it with a “I’m sorry, I wish I could.”  Or, offer something that you CAN do. Like find a restaurant where you could all meet to celebrate, etc. However, the key is NO. Anything else is  not necessary, and opens the door for trying to convince you for how you COULD or SHOULD. “No” Is not a mean answer. “No” can be an honest and loving answer. An answer that saves you, your family and your holidays from becoming chaotic and miserable.

If saying “no” is hard for you- I give you permission to buy this. It might help. I have one. I’m wearing it for a talk on boundaries in a couple of weeks. (That was my justification for buying it:P)

Here’s the thing: We also need to ACCEPT “No’s” from others. Without guilt tripping or probing. This goes both ways. It’s called: Respect.

3) Keep the main thing the main thing. I can’t tell you what the main thing is for you and your family. however,  I suggest you make a Holiday mission statement and stick with it. If it doesn’t enhance or support the mission: See # 2.

4) Smile. Be nice. This is a season when that’s Ok. You’re not going to be at risk of being thought of as creepy. (Mostly, unless you ARE creepy. But don’t be creepy. Ever. Ok? Thnx.) Also: Don’t be that mean person who’s angry every time you have to wait during the holiday season. It’s busy everywhere. Bring a book. Google something. Wait nicely, smile and say: “Thank  you” to those who help and serve you. Even if it’s busy. Bonus round:  Don’t be a jerk- leave a tip. Tip as well as you can. Sometimes tip well even if the service isn’t stellar. It’s called “Grace.”

5) You can’t do everything. Don’t try. You’ll just make yourself and everyone around you: miserable. Trust me. I’ve tried. See again: #2.

I could go on…but really? You won’t read more and I won’t do more. As you can see by the current state of my Manger- I need to get things set straight. (The dog ate baby Jesus = years ago. Literally.)

So-  let’s try to start here. I have a feeling it could change the holidays for all of us.

Dear Lord— The holidays are upon us… and honestly? Sometimes it feels more “Game of Thrones Winter is Coming” Than: It’s a Wonderful Life The Best Christmas Pageant Ever or even Elf. Please God- help us to get things straight in our hearts and minds before we let ourselves get caught up in the crazy that can me the holidays. Let it be more Silent Night than Black Friday. I love you Lord- and need you desperately to help me make the best decisions I can and to focus on you. Let your mission be mine this year….I love you Lord- Amen. 

Readers: So what are your holiday challenges? Saying yes too much? Wanting everything perfect? Being Nice in stead of Naughty? (A snarky meanness is sometimes the soundtrack in my head.  Trust me- I get it.) Keeping focused? Feeling persecuted? Tell me….. And tell me your solutions! I can’t wait to read them!

Half baked?  Been there.

Burnt crust? Done that.

Patio stone of burnt orange stink?  Done that, too.

It can’t be my fault. I know how to cook. I can make homemade pasta, and my apple pies are epic.

At least I thought I knew how to cook until I started my saga of Pumpkin pie baking. I have found 100 ways to fail at pumpkin pie baking.  (I’m getting closer, right?) From burnt at the edges and raw in the middle… I suggested it become a pumpkin smoothie, which no one was brave enough to try. They said something about raw (ish) eggs….and food poisoning… the gall! I’v produced pies that could be used for a professional curling tournament, They were so solid and burnt that your fork begged not to be subjected to it’s doom. (Maybe thats why the dish ran away with the spoon? It feared my pie!  I’ve tried several recipes, from can backs to cookbooks, with no success.

There are rumors of a canned pumpkin shortage..  I fear I caused it by wasting more than my share in my failed attempts. Even the compost pile rejected my pies… I find them tossed to the side by the proud vegetable peelings.

The thing is, I hate pumpkin. It all smells like punkin guts to me which makes me gag.

“So why are you devoted to making a pie?”

It’s love.

Not of the squash.. (let’s face it, squash + pie is just not right.) it’s love of my people. they love the orange goo.

So I try again, every year.  I purchase the ingredients. I ask for recipe recommendations.  I set out to bake: the perfect pumpkin pie.  (Or an edible pumpkin pie, at this point my hopes are minimal.) Each year I steady my nerves with a good cup of coffee and a moment of prayer. I ask the Lord to be with me in battle, and to bless the work of my hands…

I arrange the ingredients on the counter like I’m building an altar to the pumpkin gods… or maybe the Great Pumpkin?..  I’ve tried organic canned pumpkin and the “gold standard” every-mom -uses -it -so -how- can you -go -wrong- canned pumpkin. (You can if you’re me. Just sayin. ) I’ve even tried some high end pumpkin praline in a jar. That was a pricey fail.

Each year I carefully measure and combine those ingredients.  Each year, I follow the oven time and temperature, whether low and slow or high to begin then medium to finish… and I wait the results with nauseated anticipation. (I’m never sure if it;s my nerves or the smell that does it..) And each year it’s a flop of turkey tamping proportions.

They either cook too fast, or go from raw to radioactively over done in an instant.

Yes, I’ve checked my oven’s calibration. It’s spot on. I can’t  explain what happens.

I think the pumpkin knows I hate it. I think it hates me right back. or maybe my failures have made me paranoid.

One year, I tried to trick the orange tart- I decided to go with an un-baked version that included a creamy layer…..it. was. just. wrong.

It’s that time of year again. Time to face my baking nemesis. The classic pumpkin pie. I’ve procured my offerings of sweetness and light. I’ve beaten eggs and blended spices. I’ve pre-heated,  carefully timed and mindfully watched. I’ve tested and sniffed and I’ve choked back my gag reflex and followed directions….

guess what?

I maked a pie. A pumpkin pie! I cooked it until the knife inserted in the middle came out clean. I used the standard back of the Libbey’s can -recipe. Nothing fancy- nothing creative. Just plain ole’ pie.

It may taste like pumpkin poo. I have no idea. I won’t know until after dinner. Even then, I’ll have to rely on those who are brave enough to try it. (nd if they love me- they will lie if it’s more poo than perfect.)

But- for now… I celebrate. For now- it’s my first “win”. At least, it’s pretty.

Maybe the starts aligned, Maybe God intervened. Maybe it’s the Edison effect and I finally failed enough to succeed. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m now bionic.. that did it…

I don’t know.. but for now— I’m thankful for family, friends, for walking without a limp and for (what appears to be) a well baked pie….

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Questions-

Do you have a cooking nemesis? (Or am I the only paranoid freak?) What is it? What happens?

Favorite holiday recipe?

A no-fail pumpkin pie recipe?

Part of being thankful is sharing… post away in the comments!

Continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col 2:6 b & 7

Gifts. Presents. Shopping.  Just about finished.  Whew.

Let’s face it, some people are easier to buy for than others. There are gifts that I knew immediately would be “just right” for someone, and then there are gifts- that I’ll sweat about until long after Christmas.

There are picky people- that are tough to shop for- and then there are people who are genuinely thrilled with whatever you may give them. Honestly- there are people that I shop for out of “duty, and then there are those ai shop for out of delight.  Regardless- it’s also true- that I love to give gifts. Especially to the people who are dearest to me.

I always have. It isn’t about cost- or impressing, it’s about thought and blessing. An expression of love. Years ago- I read a book- “The Five Love Languages” I was not surprised to discover- that one of mine, is “Gifts”.

I love to give them, and yes- to get them. The more thought and care that is involved- the more I love it. Whether it’s knitting slippers to warm feet on a cold December morning- or surprising someone with something they really need, want or love– I’m there.

But honestly- this has been a struggle- in my walk with God- see—I love Him… but God doesn’t NEED anything, nor want for anything….besides— what have I that I can offer? In light of the glory and sovereignty of God— I have nothing to offer HIM!  Do I?

On the way to the post office- from the back seat of the car.. I heard a little voice singing…… “Ba rum pum pum pum…. ra pa pum pum…. I play my drum for Him, ba rum pa pum pum..”  And, I think I found my answer.

As I’ve been making my way through Luke (a chapter a day for the month of December- to help me keep “Christmas in the Context of the Gospel” ) I came to todays reading Luke 21- about the “widow’s mite” and was once again reminded of my favorite “Christmas special” of all time….The Little Drummer Boy.  I think they are related.

Lyrics

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum

A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come. Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum? Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum Me and my drum.

Luke 21:1-4

The Widow’s Offering

1As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.[a] 3″I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

In these verses- we do’t really learn much about the Widow- only simply that she was a widow- and that she gave what she had to give- and Jesus saw, and took delight in it. More so than even over the extravagant “offerings” of others- why? because she gave all she had, while others gave from their excess.

I often feel like I don’t have much to offer God- I am impoverished in heart- in Spirit I am not rich. I’m not particularly talented. Yet- like the wisemen- and the little Drummer Boy— when I come face to face with all God is- and all He’s done- I want to give-  so I offer, my heart.

Re- published from December 06;) 

New post by me, will be up tomorrow, at Laced With Grace…

“Force  Bulbs, not Fun, for Christmas”

christmas gridHave yet to knit-

 A hat (copy of a Hollister Co. Hat ) (already started…fingers crossed, which makes it hard to knit, I’ll tell you that.)

Tiny little ballerina slippers for my niece.

 Have yet to do….

Oh- way too much to list here. Let’s just say I have 3 spreadsheets I’m working from…

Christmas Spreadsheets: (yeah, I’m crazy like that)

1) Christmas gifts– bought to buy and wrapped columns.

2) To do list- cleaning

2) To buy- cook/bake list for parties- (Christmas Eve and Christmas day)

 PS- have to make a trip to the vet- our girl Sami (aka: bad dog Sami) had another (much smaller) seizure this morning… please pray for our girl. thnx.