It was a very nice meeting -quite brief as far as the meeting itself goes -but a very nice, and quite delicious meal, that much is for sure! Chicken divan, another chicken/vegetable casserole, pork barbeque sandwiches, a baked bean casserole along the lines of "Cowboy" beans, brownies, fruit cake, jello, banana split cake and my neighbor and good friend, Shirley, had brought a special Swedish food item called "panakaka". This is not a really flavorful dish, actually it is a somewhat bland baked custard, but in our church circle, it is very much a favorite item at almost all pot luck dinners. I make it on occasion for my family and they all like it -a lot -and I love it. Traditionally, if one is to do this right, it is supposed to be served with a healthy serving of lingonberries over it but last night, as there were no lingonberries available, I put a nice big helping of some homemade cranberry sauce on mine and trust me when I tell you this, it was delicious!
I've been working my little fingers practically to the bone, trying to complete the 50x50 tablecloth I've been working on for about six weeks now. I'm getting close to finishing it and that is quite a relief. The cloth is a red cotton/polyester type blend fabric and in the center there are four poinsettias, with a poinsettia in each outer corner; a ribbon-type design around the outer edges too with a small "bouquet" in the center along each outside edge of white blossoms -with gold trim around them. A lot of satin stitching in this piece -and I do mean a LOT! But the most difficult part of the whole piece is that a lot of the flowers have centers that are done with gold filament thread and that ribbon edging along the sides? Well all of that is also outlined with the blasted gold filament thread too! And, for the record here, let me just say that I try to avoid -like the freaking plague -anything that requires using either gold (or silver) filament thread because it is an absolute bear to work with!
So anyway, needless to say, I am very happy that I am closing in on finishing this piece fairly soon -hopefully by this Sunday anyway!
Also, last night at our meeting, each person attending was to bring a gift suitable for a child (up to age 18) -either clothing or a toy -new, unwrapped and for approximately $10 in value. Mandy and I took six of the little tee shirts I purchased last Friday in my Black Friday shopping expedition as our gift(s). The items given will all then be turned over to a gift program in a nearby town (I think it is sponsored by the YMCA there but it may be through another church. I'm not positive which but at any rate, it's a good program and there were many things given that will help some families in the region who are having a hard time providing basics, much less Christmas gifts, to the young folks.
But the thing I really wanted to share tonight is something I got in my e-mail this morning from my dear cousin, Ruth Ann -down in Austin, Texas. This is one of those "forwards," but I really liked this one -liked it a lot, as a matter of fact. And I do think the words and message it contains are very good in the "food for thought" department. Maybe I feel that way because it is very much the way I think about the thoughts presented in it.
But read it, if you will please, and then give me your thoughts on any or all areas mentioned.
Letter from Jesus about Christmas --
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.
Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.
If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:
1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up... It will be nice hearing from you again.
4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.
7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families
8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.
9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.
10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.
Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :
I LOVE YOU,
Personally, I prefer to say "Merry Christmas" but hearing someone say "Seasons Greetings" or, "Happy Holidays" isn't going to ruin my day nor do I think the person extending a greeting like that is going to rot in a really warm place someday either. I also have always enjoyed seeing Christmas lights, a big special tree all trimmed too in front of the courthouse in our county seat, as well as the nativity scene too. But I also recognize that not everyone around me in my little corner of the world is going to appreciate the same things I do either so, to keep peace for those individuals -who have rights just as I do -I do understand why many places opt to omit things like this considered to be based on the Christian religion. And, if that is something I feel so strongly about, then I could -and then should -have my own decorations at my home that reflect my sentiments there.
Those things are not what this beautiful holiday is ALL about anyway -they are just images -sometimes religious yes, sometimes things that actually have their origins elsewhere but which people over the centuries have incorporated as part of the meaning of Christmas. Nice traditions for those of us who believe in that but they are not what I absolutely must have to make my own celebration complete.
Actually, considering the bickering that sometimes accompanies displays, religious music and such at this time of year, I consider that to be a total detraction -the contradictions, that is -and chose to focus elsewhere than on those elements then.
Just a little of my thoughts with respect to the message in that forward and maybe someone will read it and think there are some good points to ponder.
Actually, since part of my ethnic background is Swedish (the other half is Scottish), the traditional greeting usually exchanged between members of my extended family is the Swedish (and this is not going to be technically correct because I don't know how to get the little marks over the letters as is done in the Swedish language) expression "Gud Jul."
And that is what I am hoping my family and I will have and I'm extending that wish to each and everyone of you reading this piece too!