Monthly Archives: November 2019

Last Day of November, End of the Year

Today, the Christian year ends. Tomorrow, December 1, is the first Sunday of Advent. It is also the end of the month of writing for many people: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month) to name a couple of challenges.

I hadn’t participated in NaBloPoMo in several years and decided to come back and try it again. I didn’t write every day of November, but I did manage to write most days.  Tonight I am grateful for the the challenge to write, but also for a time to reflect on a year of Gratitude and prepare for a new year with Advent.

All over our nation the Christmas decorations have been out for a long time and the ads have been running non stop to encourage all of us to shop more and buy more for Christmas. Of Course for Christians, Christmas is still 24 days off. We begin with Advent, a season that invites us to wait, reflect, hope and pray for love and joy and peace to come in Emmanuel, God-with-us.

Waiting is hard. Truthfully, the Christmas is short: from December 25 until January 6. Twelve days in fact, for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. As much as I want to jump into the Christmas, I long every year for Advent. To pause each week and ponder the themes of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy is a gift to my heart and soul.

It is often hard for me to slow down and enjoy the pace of the season. There is so much to do on the calendar, at church and at home. Preparation is at the heart of Advent. Preparation takes time, but in terms of Advent, it takes intentionality as well. Pausing is the invitation of the season: to breathe, to read, to reflect on the gift of God who comes to us in a tiny human baby.

On this last day of November, and and the end of the Christian year, I am grateful for the season of Advent. I am promising myself a more reflective time, and a more intentional time of waiting and preparation. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

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Friday after Thanksgiving

For many, today is Black Friday, a day to shop and see how many bargains or deals they can get for Christmas or just for themselves. Its history goes back to President Roosevelt and his setting of the Thanksgiving holiday. President Roosevelt wanted to help merchants sell more products for Christmas and boost the economy.

The truth is, I have never been into Black Friday shopping. When I was younger and my kids were younger, I never had the money to do the Black Friday blitz. I know the whole point of the Black Friday is to save money, but the things that are usually the best deals are always expensive: game systems, televisions, computers. The other things are often what ever is the hottest toys and again, often pricey.

My sister and I would occasionally go out on Friday morning, not early, usually mid-morning and would people watch. We might purchase a roll of wrapping paper or something equally mundane, but the sales had no allure for us.

Now, Black Friday sales started at least two weeks ago if not three weeks ago. The ads have popped up on my computer and my e-mail inbox is full of “deals.” I still do not go out and shop, nor do I do online shopping.

Instead, the day after Thanksgiving, my husband and I take down all the Thanksgiving decorations and begin the process to of decorating for Christmas.

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One of the perks of staying home is leftovers! There is nothing better!

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Today was no different. We have brought up all the boxes. “We,” by “we” I mean Andrew brought up all the boxes (I am not sure how many, but Andrew counted 45 Thanksgiving and Christmas!)

We have several trees (okay maybe more than 20), plus garlands, and two sets of Christmas dishes.

So, we are preparing for the season of Advent, a time of waiting with hope and faith for the coming of Christ. For me, that means putting away all the fall decorations and beginning to decorate for Christmas. Lights will be everywhere, inside and out, to ward off the shorter days and the longer nights. This process will take several days, but so worth it!

Advent begins Sunday, but I am already preparing. I am ready to begin this new year looking once again for the hope, peace, joy and love promised in Emmanuel, God with us.

 

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On This Wednesday before Thanksgiving

Yes, I am grateful for many things. Today has been a mix of activities and keeping my feet up some. Wednesday is my day to make hospital calls and I did that. Was prayed for by one person I was visiting and had a wonderful conversation with the other before the doctor came in. I promised real Thanksgiving dinner, not that awful hospital food!

I have been prepping for dinner tomorrow: ham is smoked (actually Andrew did that), Turkey roasted and ready to be carved.

Three pies baked: Pumpkin, apple and a bourbon chocolate pecan.

Seven layer jello salad made.

I also made another pan of lasagna rolls and a crockpot of taco soup for my neighbor who just had a baby….a cute CUTE little girl. I took her two pans of lasagna rolls, some precooked ground beef and three dozen precooked meatballs. She and her family will be her for dinner tomorrow. I can’t wait!

I love having people over for Thanksgiving. I love the way the house smells and the warmth that comes from the kitchen.

I am grateful! I am grateful for the food for the feast, for guests coming over and to be able to cook and share. I am grateful for a time off work to cook and to enjoy friends and to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends.

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Finishing the Christian Year and a Year of Gratitude

I am not sure where the year went. One year ago I challenged our congregation to a Year of Gratitude. In January I added a gratitude jar. These challenges were not to create guilt, but to encourage a different way of living, a lifestyle change that embraced thanksgiving as a way of life.

Today in worship, I talked about how in Deuteronomy Moses exhorts the Israelites to not to forget, to remember God who has made it possible for them to flourish. I believe those are important for us as well. Giving thanks and offering prayers of gratitude helps us open our eyes and hearts and spirits to what God is doing in the world

You can find the worship service or the sermon alone at this link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Old Tradition, New Tradition

So it begins. This week, in the United States is Thanksgiving. The fourth Thursday of November, this year it falls as late as it can in the calendar. It means Advent is just barely over three weeks long.

I love Thanksgiving. I love the fact that the whole purpose of the holiday is to give thanks and for some of us to cook and eat. I love preparing a big meal and having lots of people around the table. As far as I am concerned, the more the merrier.

Now, I realize for some, that is stressful, but for me, it is pure bliss. With my family scattered across the country, the “big” meals are mostly a thing of the past unless there are other friends that want a place to be. This year, I am hosting a neighbor family and I am so excited.

In years past, when my children were young, I took the week of Thanksgiving to begin my holiday baking for Christmas. I usually had a Christmas Open House the second Sunday of Advent, so I worked to get lots of things baked and in the freezer early. Now, my Open House isn’t until Boxing Day, December 26, so I do not bake much the week of Thanksgiving.

Imagine when my surprise when I found out, that tomorrow, November 24, the last Sunday before Advent was actually a holiday! Stir Up Sunday  is a British tradition that according to the article goes back centuries.

Cooks would “stir up” Christmas puddings and cakes on the last Sunday before Advent. Many of those so called puddings and cakes we would recognize as fruitcake, often the most hated dessert of the season. I actually like fruitcake, not the stuff that passes as fruitcake in the grocery store, but real fruitcake, that is filled with dried fruit and nuts and sits in rum or brandy for days if not weeks.

Stir Up Sunday is a holiday I was part of without even knowing. In the article it states:

An article published in Spaniard’s Bay in the 1950s argued that Stir-up Sunday was important because it challenged apathy, reminding us to slow down and not take things for granted. I can get behind that idea. It’s a good reason to take a day and put it aside for holiday baking.

According to Andi Bulman, the author, “It’s the spirit of the tradition, of feeling grateful, of enjoying the company of loved ones and taking time…in some homes, each member takes the spoon, and makes a wish.”

My Sunday won’t allow me this tradition, but I want to find time before Thanksgiving to make something and have people take a stir. I appreciate the idea that the communal nature of Stir Up Sunday invites me and others to pause, to slow down, to create a memory and something good to eat. This old tradition will not be forgotten soon by me, as I intend to make it a new tradition in my home.

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R.I.C.E.

Mostly this has happened today: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevate. Today was not a busy day at the office. The plan had been to work on decorating for our Open House on December 4.

I did NOT decorate. I was taking my doctors advice to rest. I went to church, elevated my feet as much as possible while finishing work needed for next week. With Thanksgiving almost here, the church will be closed Thursday and Friday. So, I needed my study guide finished so everything could be run off next Monday.

It got done. As well as some e-mails and other “stuff.” What didn’t get done was my attending an event that I was really looking forward to attending. Instead, I came home mid-afternoon, got comfortable, let Andrew cook (Pizza Hut knows him by name!) and watched movie, worked on some embroidery and kept my feet up.

This is hard for me. I don’t like it, and I want to be “doing” more. It is hard for me to take my own advice that give again and again when I visit people recovering from a variety of surgeries and illnesses, “healing is hard work.” Healing IS hard work and my body will appreciate my willingness to not push it to the limits.

So I have been doing what is necessary and letting go what is not. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevate. My feet are up, I am resting and trusting everything else will work out.

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Taking a Load Off

I am not good at “taking it easy.” Even most days I call Sabbath, I am busy doing something. So to say I hate getting sick would be an understatement. To have to take time to recover “irks” me to say the least.

It’s not like I haven’t had to slow down before: a back surgery, a broken right foot and a couple of other illnesses here and there. Perhaps you can understand if admit I just hate slowing down. Time is always so precious to me, even if I do not know why.

So, a couple of weeks ago I took a fall at my home. I was walking out to the car and stepped off the deck and turned my ankle. The rocks walkway was covered by leaves and  so I stepped into a crack. Down I went, hit my knee and then jammed my other foot into the stones.

Of course the ankle was a bit swollen and sore as was my knee and other foot. I backed off walking a little bit (read, not very much, but slowed down a little.) Both feet continued to hurt and throb a bit. I decided that was normal after a twisted ankle.

Finally, today, I decided I should see my doctor. My feet continued to hurt and after doing some yoga this morning, I put on my shoes to go to the gym and walk and I realized I just couldn’t go walk. My left foot hurt too much in too many places.

The good news is that neither of my feet are broken. The not so good news is that the doctor has asked that I wear an ankle brace and take a “load” off. Elevate and ice and get off my feet as much as possible.

No 5k on Thanksgiving day, back off walking and yoga a couple of weeks, take it easy. I am not incapacitated, I am challenged to take it easy in order to allow my feet to heal and  get back to my wacky and weird need to be productive all the time. I can be on my feet, but for a few days, I will back off and do my very best to just be.

 

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