It’s almost Christmas!

 Posted by on December 17, 2013  2 Responses »
Dec 172013
 

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I imagine many of you have your tree or trees already decorated and you’re ready for all of the holiday festivities. Some of you may have to travel and some of you may have guests coming to your home. Some of you may not have very many holiday activities planned. This may be a lonely time of year for you.

Because my family is small and scattered about the U.S. and my parents and brother-in-law have passed away, holidays are difficult for our family. But we’ve learned in recent years that family consists of more than just the ones you share blood with. More than the ones you’ve married into. Family consists of your church friends and your neighbors and for many of you, your homeschool friends. Because of this, the holidays don’t have to be lonely. We have learned to open our hearts and let people love us when our family isn’t around to do it. We’ve learned to so the same for others.

Perhaps being lonely isn’t a problem for you. Maybe you’re experiencing financial difficulties, as we have in the past and still often do. The holidays may be a time when you withdraw from social gatherings because you don’t have the money to purchase gifts for people. A simple ornament exchange can make you feel quite sad because you have to bring an ornament from your own collection because you can’t afford to purchase one. When your friends want to exchange little trinkets or gift cards, and you can’t even do that, it really stinks.

I want to encourage you to be honest with your friends if this time of year is difficult for you. If you’re lonely or struggling financially, you should be able to express that honestly to your true friends and they will understand completely. I believe that the enemy wants us to withdraw and he wants us to feel isolated during the holiday season. After all, Christmas is a celebration of our Lord and Savior. What better way for the enemy to rob us of the joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus than to make us focus on the gift giving and the parties and the requirements to bring food and packages for needy people? The holidays should be about remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made for each and every one of us. It should be about love. We don’t need to focus on the decorations or the gift giving, but instead focus on telling others about the wonderful gift that Jesus gave you.

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I promise you, if you take a moment and share with someone at the grocery store or at the post office or at the doctor’s office about the love of Jesus, your heart will swell with joy. You heart will look like a giant bow on the most beautifully wrapped package. I have spent many years feeling like the Grinch at Christmastime and it is no fun at all. So I want to encourage you right now to prepare for the holidays prayerfully and ask the Lord to get your heart ready to remember what the season is really about.

Isaiah 9:6-7

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

~ Written by Sherri

Banana Cranberry Salad Recipe

 Posted by on December 10, 2013  1 Response »
Dec 102013
 

December seems to be the month of get-togethers.  Whether it is a large crowd or a small gathering, I always seem to be busy making food for friends and family.  This particular dish is one of my favorites to make (and eat) for Christmas gatherings.  It is quick and easy and you can make it ahead of time!  It comes from a cookbook that my mom made for me several years ago; it is filled with recipes that have been passed down in my family.

 Banana Cranberry Salad

This recipe comes from my great-grandmother and has been our alternative to plain ‘ole cranberry sauce for many years.  Continue reading »

‘Tis the Season to Be…

 Posted by on December 13, 2012  No Responses »
Dec 132012
 

…Jolly…Ready for fun…Busy…Crazy…Worn out…

Or ’tis it the season to be Blessed…Thankful…Loved…Cherished…?

With the holidays upon us, many of us face crazy days of shopping, maybe a little traveling to see family members, and more than likely church events, musicals and plays to fill our evenings. The month of December can be over and done with before you even have time to get your tree decorated and the wrapped gifts placed under it.

Many families struggle at this time of year because they don’t have the resources to provide their loved ones with presents under the tree or a buffet of seasonal foods. They may not be able to travel to visit family members far away or may be estranged from certain family members. This can be a tough time of year for those who have lost loved ones in recent days or years, as my family has.

For many years, the Holidays have been my most dreaded time of the year for a variety of reasons. But I have recently begun to feel change occurring in me. I’m actually looking forward to the year end happenings.

When we pause and remember the reason for the holidays, we open our hearts and minds to receive the best gift of all. Jesus came so that we would have life and have it abundantly. He is more precious than silver and gold so He is more of a gift than anything that is wrapped under the tree. The bread and wine/juice we partake of in communion is more delicious than any Holiday ham or turkey and more satisfying than Grandma’s apple pie or Aunt Mary’s chocolate cake and more thirst-quenching than the latest trendy hot tea. He is closer than a brother and time spent with Him makes even the best family gathering seem like a day spent in jail.

When you find yourself dreading the next day in this season because you’ve got too much to do to get ready for your next holiday event, remember the babe that was born in Bethlehem so long ago and how He gave His all to others while here on earth.

But don’t forget…even He needed a break every now and then. Even He slipped away from the crowd and had to say “No” to the demands of the people. He took time to rest and to pray. He kept His relationship with His Father first and foremost in His life.

Peace be to you during this holiday season. Keep things simple and remember that you don’t have to do it all and it doesn’t all have to be done.

Sherri Wilson Johnson is an Inspirational Romance novelist, a speaker, social media junkie, and a former homeschooling mom who loves to share God with others, while sharing her life experiences with them. She is a member of the ACFW and a graduate from the Christian Writers Guild writing course. She lives in Georgia with her husband and two children. She loves to dream of romantic places and romance in general–good, clean romance, that is. She is passionate about purity and sexual integrity. Sherri is the author of To Dance Once More (OakTara) and Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara). She is polishing her novels To Laugh Once More and After the Raging Storm. http://sherriwilsonjohnson.com/

Candles and Nativity photos: http://www.kaylajohnsonphotography.com/

The Great Christmas Breakfast Debate

 Posted by on December 4, 2012  12 Responses »
Dec 042012
 

When I was a kid, every Christmas morning my mom would make a huge batch of hot cocoa and a towering pile of buttered toast. And that was breakfast. Cocoa and toast. Simple, but I loved it. I still do. But when I got married, that was one of the first Christmas traditions to go out the window. See, my husband tolerates hot chocolate and considers toast an accompaniment to breakfast, not the main course. So, while a cup of hot cocoa and a couple slices of toast might do for an average Tuesday morning, it certainly wouldn’t do for Christmas breakfast.

As much as I loved my mom’s Christmas breakfast tradition, I have to say I agree that it should be something a little more special. Now 13 years and four children later, we still haven’t settled on that one perfect breakfast. Here are a few of the options we’ve tried.

Candidate #1: Pioneer Woman’s Baked Cinnamon French Toast

I loved this one. But even after baking it for longer than the recommended time, it was still too much like bread pudding for most of my texture-sensitive crew.

Candidate #2: Blueberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake

Everybody loves this one. I’ve made it several times now. The only think keeping this not-too-sweet breakfast cake from rocketing to the top of the list is the fact that fresh blueberries are hard to find in December. I’ve made it with frozen blueberries and it works, but it isn’t as good. The frozen blueberries don’t mix well into the batter without turning the whole thing purple and the frozen berries are more tart, so they don’t work as well in the lightly sweetened cake. Still on the list though, because it is a family favorite.

Candidate #3:  Cinnamon Scones

I don’t have a photo of these one because I haven’t made them in a while. I use the Simple Scones recipe from Allrecipes and modify it a little bit. I leave out the raisins and add a teaspoon of vanilla and a half teaspoon of cinnamon. Then instead of plain sugar on the top, I sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar. Pioneer Woman also has a recipe for cinnamon scones that sounds good, but very sweet.

Candidate #4: Mimi’s Christmas Breakfast

This is the photo from Confessions of a Former Couch Potato, the source of the recipe. Mine didn’t look anything like that. I know I did a couple different things wrong. First, I forgot to put the bacon on top til after it was baked. Second, I baked it too long. But see how she hers has this nice bread layer on the bottom and then a cheesy gooey layer on top? Mine didn’t work like that. The bread floated to the top and the eggs went to the bottom, and the cheese just cooked on top of the bread. I don’t know what happened. I’m still drooling over her photo though, so I think I’m going to have to try it again.

So friends, what are your favorite Christmas breakfasts?

 

I am…Santa Claus

 Posted by on November 27, 2010  3 Responses »
Nov 272010
 

My three year old daughter brought me a picture the other day.  She said, “Daddy, here is a picture of you.” She handed me the picture.  This particular picture was taken before she was born.  In it were the three older children with a red-suited man who had a long, white beard.

Ever since my oldest daughter was old enough to understand language, I have told my children that I am Santa Claus.  I suspected that they would not believe me; I was right.  I have always told the truth about who Santa Claus is.

During the Christmas season, I have a song that I sing (to the tune of ‘Jolly Old St. Nicholas’) to reiterate my status as Santa:

Daddy is St. Nicholas,

He says so every day!

He’s always telling every soul,

What I’m about to say;

He is coming very soon;

He is a dear old man,

He won’t say what he’s bringing you;

So find out if you can.

Since the true reason for Christmas is so important, I did not want my children to wonder if the other person so closely identified with Christmas–the person whose name the holiday shares–was also a fictitious character.

So, I decided early on that I would simply tell the truth when asked about Santa Claus. This has been a source of great amusement for my children.  They get to hear their “deluded” father claim that he is Santa Claus.  They then point out all of the reasons that I cannot be Santa.

I get the satisfaction of focusing the season not on a fictitious character, but on the Great Gift–the Christ.

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