One small candle glows “Hope” amidst the dark reminding us to be prepared for His coming. For He will come again just as He said (Mark 13:26&27). Tonight as we light one purple candle, we pray that our hearts focus on Him, be filled with Him as we celebrate the season that commemorates His coming to earth as a baby. We pray that our hearts not be distracted by the commercialism that now drives this once sacred season. But that our hearts be driven even closer to Him as we gather ’round the Advent Wreath.
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Prince of Peace,” reads the prayer from one Advent guide we follow. “Because of Him, we have hope. We anticipate Christmas with hope because of Jesus. We anticipate and are excited about His return.”
We pray for friends and family, their needs, their health, their walk with the Lord, and any special prayer requests they may have made. Our hearts and lips lift up our own needs for the week ahead, and we are strengthened, reassured of His promise to be there with us always. Strains of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” softly fill the kitchen as we close the solemn moment of prayer. For four weeks the candles are lit. A purple one for Hope on the First Sunday, a purple one for Peace on the Second Sunday, and a purple one for Love on the Fourth Sundays before Christmas. On the Third Sunday, the sound of Joy rings out as the pink (or white) candle is lit. The waiting is half over. Hearts rejoice. The time is drawing close. As often as we can gather for evening prayer during the week, we light the advent candle, pray, and review one of the suggested Scriptures for this focus of the year.
Typically the Advent wreath is made from fresh evergreens symbolizing eternal life. Being a circle, it reminds us of eternity and God’s unending love for us. Candlelight reflects Jesus as the light of the world, bringing His light into the darkness of our lives making us new, giving us life and hope. It also reminds us that we are to be His light in this world.
When I was a little girl, my father would order a wreath of fresh evergreens each Advent from our local florist. The smell of pine filled our home. Warm memories stir each Advent as I recall my Dad’s devotion to this time of the year. After Dad passed away, I began to make Advent wreaths for our family from Christmas tree boughs. When Hubby and I married, we continued the sacred tradition. Then Oldest came along and we made some adjustments to the Advent wreath with a beautifully carved white wooden wreath displaying a saying to meditate on each week. When we moved to Arizona, I began using a wreath of artificial greens. However, traditions stick with little ones, and we have had to return to the white wooden wreath that Oldest remembers from his earliest years. What was meaningful to me during my growing up years has had to give way to what he grasps as the season’s traditions.
For more about Advent celebrations, see Ann Voskamp’s article on the Jesse Tree. A free downloadable e book.
As we contemplate this holy and meaningful time of year, I give thanks for the Lord’s multitude of blessings: 351) for Advent, a time to quiet my spirit and draw unto the Only One that matters 352) for celebrations that bring us close to family and friends at this time of year 353) for moist turkey, broccoli crumb casserole, ambrosia, and food abundant to delight the taste buds 354) for friend who dropped by Thanksgiving morning, just to say, “hi” and give me a hug 355) for oldest helping with the cooking while youngest worked during the day 356) for Hubby cleaning up behind me as I cooked
357) for Youngest’s compassionate heart reaching out to a friend’s family in need
358) for Thanksgiving’s delicious leftovers 359) for friends asking for prayer 360) for love gifts brought and tucked away 361) for cherry pie and more ambrosia~it will make it to a recipe post on Friday
362) for longtime friends coming to dinner–for Thanksgiving leftovers. It was like a second Thanksgiving filled with laughter, food, and fun in the ease of our friendship
372) Good Earth tea shared with my friend in our fancy teacups 373) All the dishes cleaned up 374) Hubby having a good time with his friend, talking guy toys
375) a cozy fireplace that encircled us with soul and body warmth
“I am the light of the world; Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV
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Right after stuffing the turkey and tucking it in the oven to roast succulently, I begin our age-old Thanksgiving family tradition. The stretching and frying of the bread dough for Italian pancakes. When I was a child, Mom would go to the local bakery and order a pound of sweet bread dough. Excitement welled up just at the thought of going to the bakery. I knew it meant a delectable breakfast treat the next morning. It was a tradition for our small family to have these cultural treats while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Because my parents grew up and married on the East Coast, watching the parade was a sentimental tradition for them long before it became popular on the West Coast. (The Rose Parade being the Queen of all parades in the west.) Early on Thanksgiving morning, I’d crawl out of bed and watch my mother carefully and gently pull balls of dough until they were almost paper thin. Then she would lay them across hot oil in the cast iron fry pan. In moments, the crisp, light treat would be draining on a paper towel. I would be drooling next to it. When ready, I’d grab the treat, shake powdered sugar on top and plop in front of the TV. Mom still in the kitchen, I would urge her to come out and see the “Rockets” or a gigantic balloon floating down the parade route tethered with thick rope to experts walking the route. Since Hubby and I married, I’ve carried on the tradition on Thanksgiving and New Year’s because I’m a West Coast gal whooping it up as the Rose Parade floats pass by. Only now, I’m the one in the kitchen pulling the dough while the family, half awake, takes in the glories of the two parades.
Sharing with you our special family tradition~may your family enjoy it as much as ours.
1 lb of either frozen bread dough (such as Rhodes) or if you would like to try it from scratch, you can make a sweet bread dough the night before and let it rise til morning. I have used a food processor recipe to make the dough a few times but most often, I opt for the frozen dough. Powdered sugar in a shaker can preferably. That way you get just a sprinkling instead of a pile! Extra Light Olive oil to fill the bottom of the frying pan about 1/2″ deep A smidgen of vegetable oil in the frying pan to cut the olive oil taste 1) The night before, lightly grease a loaf pan with butter, sides and bottom 2) Place the frozen loaf of bread in the pan and lightly brush with melted butter to keep it from sticking 3) Loosely place a piece of waxed paper across the top of the pan. 4) Let it sit out overnight on the counter. 5) In the morning, take your fist and punch the dough down in the middle, let it rest for about 5 minutes. 6) In the meantime, heat the oil in the frying pan on medium heat. 7) Divide the loaf into 8 evenly sized balls of dough and place back in the loaf pan. 8) Begin gently pulling the dough working from the middle to the outside, moving your fingers to the edges and pulling the thicker dough around the edges until the pancake is about 6″ wide 9) Place the dough carefully into the hot oil and let it fry until brown on the bottom. Use a fork to lift the pancake to determine color. 10) When browned on one side, use the fork to spear an end of the pancake and flip it over to brown 11) When browned, spear it with the fork and let excess oil drain into the frying pan. Then place on a paper towel to complete draining. I wind up using a new paper towel for every pancake. If you are going to make all 8 pancakes before serving, keep them warm in the lowest setting on your Serve warm, dusted with powdered sugar. Linking with Food on Fridays Share: Share what you have enjoyed.
|Vicki’s Holiday Tradition of Making Oreo Turkeys for everyone|
Those turkeys pop open in a facebook post and memories wash over me. I remember my days as a teaching assistant at a Christian school in California. Laughter, friendship, hearts knit tightly with love. Joy found in the everyday. Smiles brushed warm hellos between classrooms. Hands clasped in prayer over hurting hearts. God’s word the balm, the light, the prescription. “Walk the talk,” a phrase that flowed like breath, in and out. My heart reaches back with yearning. We shared our lives. The real. The truth. The hurt. The fear. The joy. The silly. Parties with outrageous gag gifts. Recipes. Classroom projects. School-wide activities. Prayer walks. Earthquake drills. Jog-a-thons. We teachers, assistants, staff bound by a call to minister Christ’s love to His little ones. To teach and educate in God’s wisdom and strength. Excellence the hallmark, academically and Biblically. Mornings gathered with little ones by the flagpole. Innocence permeated damp air. Pudgy hands spread over hearts pledged allegiance to God and country–two flags–one Christ’s, the other Stars and Stripes forever! “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey,” the pure voices sang. Tears choke as memories flash, but they give way to joy and gratefulness for the years I was blessed to be wrapped in this all encompassing love. Years and love intertwined with the name–West Valley Christian Academy.
My memories rich. My heart full of thanks.
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! “It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. ” It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing; even life forevermore.” Psalm 133 NIV What memories are stirred when you think of blessed times shared with other Christians? Linking with Imperfect Prose on Thursdays
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“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing praise to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.” 1Chronicles 16:8&9 NIV Have a Blessed Thanksgiving Share: Share what you have enjoyed.
A once-famous commercial jingle promised that “Away go troubles down the drain.” with Rotor Rooter. That must be the motto I live by whenever a major holiday is approaching. You can find me scrubbing and cleaning our home. Trying to make up for all the time I missed. Washing the troubles down the drain. Hoping the house will sparkle and shine, making everyone comfortable (especially me). While this photo may be atypical for Thanksgiving, you now see how it portrays part of Thanksgiving for me. At least the grimy part. The fun moments are yet to come! Yesterday, while I was shaking the cleanser liberally into the bathroom sinks, bleaching and grinding round and round, a thought came to me.. “If only I did something each day, the job would not be so big when a major event was happening,” the words pricked at my mind. Without missing a beat, the next thought raced in on its heels. “It’s just like spending quiet time with the Lord.” When we talk each day, the conversation is natural and flowing. I hear His voice. I come to know His presence. But when the time between our meetings is long, the quiet time is difficult. A lot of dirt needs to be ground away before I can hear Him clearly again. Before the relationship sparkles and shines once more. Convicted. Right there in the bubbling and bleaching! But He came graciously. With a nudge and a gentle invitation.(I have no idea why these thoughts have an inclination for coming while I’m cleaning.) How many reminders does it take? How many necessary chores, work, phone calls, dinners, writings, time with friends will I put before my time with the Lord of my life, the Number One Friend in my life?
Contemplating this and His many blessings~
“You are my portion, O Lord, I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.” Psalm 119:57&58 NIV
What will my heart seek this Thanksgiving and every day forward?
Just a quick note to say~if stocking shelves and feeding the hungry is still on your Thanksgiving or holiday list, please call your local Community Food Bank, Gospel Rescue Mission, or Salvation Army. Salvation Army still needs turkeys, canned goods, pies, Cool Whip, coffee, sugar, and more. May your blessings overflow.
Each of you has blessed my life with joy and encouragement. For you I give thanks.
Linking up with Tuesdays Unwrapped @ Chatting at the Sky Share: Share what you have enjoyed.
A believer in Christ, my heart is given to Him and shared with my husband, our two adult sons, family, and friends. I’m a people person with a passion to encourage and inspire Christian women and others. I write from my heart, sharing my experiences, goals, and vision for living a life centered in God.
I hope you’ll join me on these adventures and follow along as we discover the Lord’s plans for our lives and His whispers to our hearts.