The Handmade Ones

OrnamentHandmadeToday’s ornaments are all handmade by my aunt Susy. An abundantly creative lady. She has stiff with me from the beginning. I love her spirit, her sassyness, & her strength. Each ornament in this collection holds special memories. She is the one that has been there for every valley and every triumph. If I were to write down every story, we would need to publish a novel. We walked the hardest journey when my uncle passed almost 10 years ago. There will always be losses in our lives, this one wounded us all deeply. Reading one day after his passing, I had been crying out. The pain was so deep. These words sprang out and touched my heart: “thus says the Lord, the God of David, your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you.” These words, spoken to Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:5, went straight to my heart. He reminds us each that He hears our prayers, He sees our tears, He will heal us. So powerful. 

I long for the day that Isaiah spoke of: “In Jerusalem, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will spread a wonderful feast for all the people of the world. It will be a delicious banquet with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat. There he will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth. He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people. The LORD has spoken! In that day the people will proclaim, “This is our God! We trusted in Him, and He saved us! This is the LORD, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation He brings!” ‭Isaiah‬ ‭25‬:‭6-9‬


The Starbucks One

OrnamentStarbucksThe infamous Starbucks Christmas cup. I got this years ago, one of the first years they came out with ornaments. Sbux was selling them in 2 packs – one regular style cup & one Christmas cup. I picked this up and split it between my friend, Sheri, and I so we each have one on our tree. 
We used to meet at Sbux at least once a week (many times more) when the kids were little. We would get coffee and take the kids to the park where they would play and we would visit for hours. I miss those days when life seemed so stressful and yet, in reality, were so carefree. We have shared a lifetime of memories and I am so grateful for a friend who loves me dearly during good times and ugly ones. In life, people come and go in your path. Many times you learn more about yourself than them. The ones who are in it for the long haul will bring with them lessons and memories and love that will make life just a little easier in the hard times and even more exciting during the joyful ones. My friend and I have walked some great paths together. We have watched each other’s kids grow and fall and rise again many times over. We have walked together during our own mistakes, trials, & triumphs. In the end, life is more complete with her in it and I’m a better person for her friendship. 
May we always say of our dearest friends, “Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.” (‭Philemon‬ ‭1‬:‭7‬)


The Angel One

AngelOrnamentThis little angel is an ornament that we made for my sisters wedding. She loves seashells and beachy things. So for her wedding, we got together with the family and made centerpieces in glass bowls with sand, shells, & candles. Then, we sat and made a shell angel for each one. 
My sister & I have always had a chaotic relationship. We are both very strong and opinionated. We both say stuff that is sometimes hurtful – albeit unintentional. In the end, we have always come back together stronger each time, & thankfully, more mature. We have shared quite the journey together and I’m glad that she is a part of my life. She pushes me to strive for better and to continue to move on when things seem hopeless. I will always cherish the memory of preparing for her wedding with the family and the friendship that has bonded us together for life. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect & complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
We have met our trials and have become more steadfast each time. In the end, we shall lack nothing.


The Galatians One

TheFruitOne“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. Against these things, there is no law.”
This ornament was received during a present exchange game one year. The game got a little spicy and folks were having a little fun with it. Things were said in the heat of this silly game – about the gifts that were given. This ornament was one of the “unwanted” ones and had been traded around and bantered about. My gift had been “stolen” and replaced with this one. Needless to say, in the passion and comradery, I was not gentle or kind in my joking. My friend gently leaned over to me and quietly said, “I made that ornament.” Immediately I was humble, thinking of every joke that had been said and every silly thing bantered about the room – especially the ones that I said.
My friend, Kelly, and her husband had moved here from out of state a year prior to partner in a business venture. Once here, thru a series of very hard circumstances, the partner took the business and they lost about everything. She daily, faithfully, waited on God’s provision as they walked a precarious tightrope, making sure their 3 small children had food and shelter every day and not knowing always where it would be coming from. I had learned snippets of God’s faithfulness, patience, goodness from watching her each day. I was crushed at my words – at the unintentional slap of my friends handiwork. She wanted to participate in this gift exchange game and couldn’t afford frivolous things, so she made a glass ornament with the fruit of the Spirit painted on it. It’s a beautiful reminder each year of the lessons learned then, God’s patience with me, & a sweet friend that God brought into our lives for a moment that gracefully taught lessons for a lifetime.

I love this ornament and think of her family every year as I set it always high on the tree – where God’s Word should be in our lives.


The Pink One

ThePinkOne

This little ornament on my tree is from my grandparents house. My grandparents were the neatest, most beautiful people you could have ever known. My grandma was the things collector. She would collect little tiny things from her adventures. Everywhere my grandma went was an adventure. She had a joy and love for the world and knew how to see the wonder in all of life. She would collect little rocks from all our trips, many from the bottom of rivers while she snorkeled around. I picked this little ornament up while we were cleaning out their life from the south gate house. It reminds me of my grandma and her joy, love, & grace she had for each of us as we were all her precious collectibles of life. My grandparents showed me God’s character here on this earth and I think of them when I read Psalm 103:8-10 “The Lord is merciful & gracious, slow to anger & abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” This encourages me to keep on growing and striving to one day be a woman of grace & peace, knowing that it can be achieved as I have seen it done in them. I miss them both deeply every day but I know I will see them again one day.


Ornament Stories

I do love getting out the ornaments each year. Every ornament on my tree holds a memory or has a story. Many are handmade. As I open them up and set them around the tree, I remember each person who has made an impact in our lives. I am thankful that God brought each one into our lives.
 ChristmasTree

guilt

This past weekend, guilt was my best friend. we snuggled up together & gathered my thoughts & figured out the amazing ways that i could feel poorly about every decision that i made. we talked about things that i might say, things, i did say, things i might do, things i might not, we decided that there was guilt to be had in everything. guilt made sure that i knew he was my ONLY friend & reassured me that others would not be close or ever want to be.
Guilt is a very selfish friend.

Allowing this friend into my life makes me miserable, but more importantly, he makes everyone else miserable, chases everyone away, causes arguments, alienates family and friends, and a host of other self-destructive issues that come along with his friendship.

Sometimes i wonder if guilt is a better friend because i allow him more access than the God that i love so much. Guilt makes sure that i know how little we deserve a relationship with the God who created us. Guilt makes sure to keep me alone so that others don’t try to pull me out of his closeness. Guilt makes sure that the only friends that are allowed in are self-loathing, hate, pity, and regret.

Like little minions, they surround the mind. Taunting. Laughing. Reveling in the brokenness of it all.

The only solution, the only way to fight this battle, is to turn to the One. Take the help that He offers. Take up the armour that He offers freely and FIGHT. Actively speak the words of life. Demand that guilt return to the pit from which he arose and take back the battlefield. Quit making guilt comfortable and demand that he leave the property. He will keep trying to return, so this battle will take a lifetime. But the One who battles with you and for you will never lose strength, never lose heart, never lose faith, never lose hope. He is the One who comes to break the chains that bind your mind and tear down the walls of steel and brick to free you from hate, sin, regret and give you hope & life more abundantly.

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled. ~Hebrews 12:12-15

Today i pray for those whose minds are riddled with guilt, who are plagued by regret, & those that cannot break free on their own. i pray that God would free their minds and release their burdens and give them life and light in the battle. i pray they would have the strength to put on the whole armor and to speak the words out loud in their own lives and in the lives of others.


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