Saturday, December 14, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

I absolutely love Christmas music.  Yep.  I'm one of those people.  The cheesy song loving, craft making, cutesy type.  Christmas music takes me to my happy place which usually involves creative crafts, dancing (Zumba), or sipping coffee watching my kids play.  To clarify, my favorite type of Christmas music is the worshipful kind.  The kind that sings of adoring the baby Jesus, or of God's love for us.  Classics, or new songs, it doesn't matter. Instrumental or Acapella - love it. I especially love Mary Did You Know, O Holy Night, and The Little Drummer Boy.  

I often hear from God through music.  Music is part of my DNA.  It's what moves me both spiritually and physically.  I could not imagine a world without song and dance.  

There have been years where Christmas was a blur and it was full of rushing and scrambling and hectic schedules to keep.  But others have been completely content.  

When I was a young, the most memorable Christmas was one spent in Branson, MO.  It was memorable because we got a real tree, but had no decorations.  We spent hours as a family making popcorn and cranberry trains, homemade tinsel and paper cut snow flakes.  I have no idea what we got that year but I remember playing the guitar with my mom and singing Christmas carols while my sisters sang and danced.  We loved putting on "talent shows" for mom and dad. 

I remember the first Christmas as a family of three.  Aaron was almost 6 months old and the three of us were driving home from the Farnsworth family Christmas Eve party in a blizzard.  There was hardly anyone on the road and it was silent except the Christmas music playing on the radio.  In that moment, everything was perfect in my world.  I had just left my job to be a stay at home mom and I couldn't be happier. That year, the song that most impacted me was Mary Did You Know.  The idea of Mary holding her sweet baby boy, like my own, and trying to comprehend the fact that he was Emmanuel.  God with us.  The power of God, in the form of a small innocent baby.  It was enough to make me weep every single time I heard it.

This year, with a tight budget, we are giving all homemade gifts.  I've been working on them for a month now so I don't have to rush at the last minute.  At least that's the plan!  I'm even making the kids gifts too.  So far it's been far less stressful than fighting crowds at the most popular retail stores.  I may not be able to afford expensive gifts, but I can give the time that it takes to make them and the love that goes into carefully preparing goodies and wrapping them.  So when I heard Pentatonix version of Little Drummer Boy, I was covered in goosebumps and maybe for the first time, I really understood the meaning of the song.

The song, performed by 5 talented people with only their voices, is simple and powerfully beautiful.  I picture a young boy wanting to please this new born King he had heard so much about.  Without money he doesn't  feel like he has anything to give.  But he can play the drum.  Music.  Something from his heart.  He must have been terrified and filled with nerves.  But then Jesus smiled at him.  The little baby would have enjoyed that song way more than any silver or gold.  And the joy that boy must have felt when he saw how his song pleased baby Jesus.  This of course is only a song.  It probably did not happen in real life but the message is still the same.  It's about the heart.  Truly - it's the thought that counts.  

Jesus would later teach his disciples that the most important commandments are to love God and love people. (Matt 22:36-40)  And that in serving others, you are serving God.  (Matt 25:40)  So how can we honor Jesus this Christmas season?  What gifts can we possibly bring that would be fit for a King.  We can love.  Love our family, our friends, acquaintances, and strangers.  Maybe that looks like a homemade gift.  Or maybe it looks like serving a dinner at a shelter.  Or making cookies for your neighbor.  Maybe it does mean buying that special gift your son has been eyeing for months because you love him so much and want to see him light up with joy.  Maybe it's holding doors for people at the store, shoveling a driveway, smiling at those you pass, wishing someone a Merry Christmas, being courteous on the road, or praying for someone you don't even know.  There are a thousand ways we can bring gifts to our Lord.  

My prayer is that you would have a simple, Christ filled Christmas.  May you have peace and be surrounded by those you love and who love you. I will be taking the rest of the month off from blogging here to enjoy time with my family without obligations.  Please join me after the New Year.  I have LOTS of great posts planned.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Homemade Ketchup

I know what you're thinking.  I've gone off the deep end right?  I mean homemade ketchup?  Yup.  And it's sooooo yummy!  There are two ways to do this.  I'm going to walk you through both because if you are like me and have never made tomato sauce, you probably need the extra instructions.  You can cut the cooking time in half by using already made tomato sauce either that you canned yourself, or bought from the store.  Once you've tried homemade ketchup, I dare you to go back to your beloved Hunts.