I was asked, recently, what I do during the week between Christmas and New Years. My answer? I clean house.
I do mean this partially in the literal sense. The tree comes down, boxes get recycled, etc., but that’s just the beginning. For me, this is a time of transition. I don’t want to wait for January 1 to start making changes; I plan for those changes now.
Spiritually, it means spending a lot more time talking to God about how things have gone this year and how He wants me to change things for next year. It means assessing my habits, heart, and hindrances to my walk as well as my successes and all of the progress I’ve made. And it means thanking Him a LOT for all He’s brought me through and the promising vistas I see ahead of me. It means setting my spiritual goals and making plans for how I can accomplish them.
In the physical, it means getting my office in order so I’m better prepared to grow increasingly serious about my writing and the business of Tammy Cardwell Publishing. I’ve been organizing and spray painting (The easiest solution when expensive solutions aren’t an option.) and organizing some more. I’m also studying. Merciful heavens, but there is a LOT to learn right now!
And, with the help of my ever-creative, genius son (Pixel Drip Studio), I’m working on a whole new website that will include this blog and a lot more. He’s pushing me, and I love it. This morning he was tossing out words like “timeline” and “milestones.” I’m 60 years old now and #owning60. I’m proof that you’re never too old to launch into something new.
Our church had an outreach this past Sunday. We took loaded stock trailers and trucks carrying hundreds of bikes and toys into 8 or 9 different neighborhoods so we could bless as many kids as we could reach. It was amazing. I saw so much gratitude, so many tears, and such excitement on kids’ faces. And, oh, how fun it was to watch dozens of blissfully excited children riding their brand new bikes!
And then there were the ones who weren’t raised like I was. I was taught that when you are given a gift you show gratitude. It didn’t matter if I absolutely hated the gift I was given. I wasn’t thanking the person for the gift itself; I was thanking the person because they cared enough to give it.
It shouldn’t have surprised me to hear the other stories, like the one about the mother who came back demanding that her son’s toy be exchanged because he didn’t like it. Her anger over the team’s inability to accede to her request shouldn’t bother me, but it does. No wonder the little boy insisted on an exchange; his mother thought he had every right to exactly what he wanted even if the gift was free (and, I might add, nice). While other parents were glowing with happiness over the fun their children were having, she was pitching a fit and couldn’t see any good.
My heart hurts for her, and for people like her, and even more for the kids she’s raising to think just like she does. There is very little joy in that kind of life.
Do you need a hand with your Christmas list? Do you want to start 2023 off right, or help someone else do the same?
Getting into the Bible can feel intimidating, but it shouldn’t! The Bible is literally the most awesome book on the planet, and for the Christian’s growth it’s as much a necessity as food is to the body.
So if you want to give a truly amazing gift this Christmas, give a Bible and, if you want to lend the recipient a hand, I suggest pairing it with my book. It’s both a guide and journal, and in it I strive to take out the intimidation and turn on the fascination.
You can purchase Experiencing the Bible right HERE!
It’s December 2nd, and I’m reading a chapter a day in Luke leading up to Christmas. It’s convenient how Luke “happens” to have 24 chapters.
So in chapter 2 we encounter the shepherds, and today I found myself asking, “What about them? What happened to them?” The story of Jesus’ birth is so exciting that it’s easy to gloss over the part of the shepherds even as awesome as it is. But these weren’t just characters in a story; they were living, breathing men whose lives were touched by the supernatural in a way that had never happened before. I mean, they were the first to see the long awaited Messiah, and they were sent to His birthplace by an angel!
So what became of them? What became of their children? Surely they told their kids about their experience! Did they or their children follow Jesus once He entered into His ministry? Were they among the 5,000 men (plus women and kids!) who were served by Jesus and His disciples? Did their children, and maybe grandchildren, lay palm branches on the road as Jesus entered Jerusalem? Were they among the first Christians?
Or did some of them, as time went on while they were waiting for Jesus to grow up, lose that heavenly vision? Unlike Mary, who “kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often” (Luke 2:19), did they lose track of Him and His significance or, worse yet, figure that by the time He was old enough to do anything they would be too old to care? I hope not.
At church tonight, several people shared their favorite Christmas memories. Of course such things make me think, and I had an epiphany.
My two favorite memories are about getting “nothing.”
I don’t mean that literally, but close. The first was the Christmas after my mother left an abusive marriage. We had so little money that we had no Christmas decorations. On Christmas Eve, after my sister and I went to bed, Mother went to the tree lot and bought a little white-painted stick for next to nothing. Then she laid out our two small gifts each as if they’d come from Santa.
My dismay when I saw the “tree” on Christmas morning probably hurt Mother’s feelings, but the love I felt… We may not have gotten much, but we were grateful for what we got and were even more thankful for the fact that we were safe, secure, and together in our own home.
The other memory… I think I mentioned it here at some point. My favorite place to be, Christmas or not, was my grandparents’ home. They weren’t rich, but they made each of us feel like we were their favorite and always chose gifts they felt we would appreciate. That year my gifts were a pair of socks and a plastic dime store nativity scene snow globe. It spoke love to me, and still does today even though it was destroyed years ago.
As parents, we so often feel the need to produce for our children. Maybe, instead, we should take time to look at the memories that mean the most to us. I honestly remember very few gifts from my 58 Christmases, but I remember a skirt, a piece of candy, and a plastic snow globe – because they spoke of love.
At one time, I was very much into Victoriana. I read period fiction, collected ephemera and other items from that era, subscribed to Victoria magazine…
That was a long time ago, or so it seems. I’d already moved in other directions when we pretty much lost everything we owned in 2010. Since then, the busy-ness of life and the demands of life’s necessities have drawn me even further away from that time of my life.
So it would seem inappropriate for one of my oldest and dearest friends to send me a copy of Victoria’s AWoman’sChristmas formybirthday. Itwould seem…
I picked it up and was instantly drawn in. I was… actually… transported. I suddenly found myself back in those days when our boys were young and Christmas was still a magical time for me, when I could hardly wait to put up the tree and spent months planning and shopping for just the right gifts.
Those days are gone-hopefully not forever, but to be honest I’ve had a hard time finding the magic of late. So I am very grateful to my friend for empowering me to touch it again. Bless you, Marilyn, for sending me such an appropriate gift.