Saturday, December 25, 2010

God Can Touch and Change A Child.

This week I have been remembering back to the first Christmas sermon I can remember. I was about five years old. I was so excited because the paper mural, which was huge, had been put on the wall behind the pulpit. There were life size shepherds, angels and wisemen along with Mary, Joseph and the precious baby Jesus. The guiding star was bright in the night light showing everyone the way to the manger. I thought it was a beautiful picture and it signaled the change of focus in the church. The wire had been strung across the front of the raised platform and dark burgundy curtains had been hung so that a three act Christmas play could later be performed by the teenagers. All of us little ones simply memorized short verses to recite. The big gas stove had been lit to keep the church warm and I enjoyed seeing the flames and feeling the heat.

I loved our minister. We called him "Preacher John" and I can remember him always opening his arms to me and lifting me high into the air. He called me, "Sambo". He was in his late twenties and was still attending seminary. He and his wife had three young sons. Often they would come to our home after church to eat lunch and visit until it was time to return for evening service. Sundays seem to last at least twice as long as they do today. No one was ever in a hurry to go home.

But I must tell you about the sermon, the one that has been etched in my heart for over fifty-five years. Before Preacher John began to speak my oldest sister (by sixteen years) who was home from college for the holidays, came up front and completely from memory told the story of "The Littlest Angel". I was enthralled, I was amazed, I was proud. My big sister could tell a story with no book to read from and the congregation could hear her. I could hear her with my ears and with my heart. It is a beautiful story.

Then Preacher John read the Christmas story from Luke and his sermon began. He intertwined there being no room at the Inn for Jesus with the story of the "Little Match Girl". I heard him, I felt Mary and Joseph's pain that there was no where to have their baby, I felt the little Match Girl's hunger and freezing hands. For a moment I felt what it was like to not have a mother or father to take care of me. God used this sermon to touch my heart and changed it forever. This message prepared me to open my heart, my life and my home to adopt a baby girl whose birth mother had no home or time to give her when I was twenty-five years older. I actually thought back to that Chistmas message when our Kati was coming to us.

Can you imagine that a sermon from the heart of one person can make an imprint so large on a young child's heart? It did. When my father died thirty years later and Preacher John was asked to return to officiate the funeral, I had the chance to tell him what a difference he had made in my life. I am grateful for that opportunity. So often time passes and the chance to let another person know they touched us slips by.

Mother use to tell me, "Some of us will plant the seed, others will come along and water it, and yet others will see the harvest. None of these works are more important than the other. If you feel God nudging you to do your part for another person by word or deed, don't question which role you play. Do what God asks of you and know that you are part of His plan".

Thank you for letting me share my stories with you from time to time. As I do I get to experience the joys and the memories one more time. Merry Christmas to each of you and may all of our lives and hearts continue to be touched in this special and holy season.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ring The Bells....Let The Whole World Know!!

I have wanted to ring the bell for the Salvation Army for more than thirty years. You may wonder why it took me so long to do it. I would think about it every Christmas and wonder who one contacted to be a bell ringer. I had never met anyone that had rung a bell to ask them so I just procrastinated over the years. I thought about calling the main number to ask if anyone outside their congregation could do it. As with all things, the time passed so swiftly with me continuing to take action. That is until this year! A gentleman stood up one Sunday during worship, rang the bell, and said something to the effect that if we really want to feel the Christmas Spirit sign up and ring the bell for one hour at Lowe’s Food Store in King. Ah, finally my answer after so many years of wondering how this process worked. I approached Don after the service and asked if he had the 3:00 slot open. It was his last one open; further assurance to me that this was meant to be.

I showed up that Saturday afternoon with a folding chair in hand. I knew how tired my legs could get standing on cement for an hour. I talked with the people I was replacing. They had enjoyed the experience. People had been very nice to them. It was fairly cold in the shade of the overhang at Lowe’s but soon my thoughts were a long way from where I was standing. My eyes were overflowing and tears were running down my face as I saw, in my mind’s eye, children shivering when they got out of bed in the morning. I “saw” fathers and mothers that were hungry, tired and worried about letting their children down at the holidays because they was no money. I “heard” them thank me for not letting them remain invisible. They “told” me that when we ring the bell, we are their voices and they are no longer forgotten. I don’t have adequate words to describe this moving and powerful spiritual experience. I can tell you that it was overwhelming and meaningful.

Observing humanity for one hour was an interesting experience. What I observed was that the better dressed people did not make eye contact with me nearly as often as those who appeared to have very little. The folks who seemed to have the least hurried to the bucket to make their donations, as parents they used it as a learning experience to teach their children about sharing, and often they would thank me for giving my time to ring the bell.

The experience was worth the wait, I felt my heart expand enough to allow more of God’s love to fill me

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Thrifty Christmas

We have a rather unusual custom that has developed over the years at our house for Christmas! You may have figured out that I love garage sales, antique malls....pretty much anywhere a bargain can be found. Years ago when our girls were in their teens and were getting pretty picky about what they liked, I decided that I would place all the bargains on the table. They could take turns picking out what gift they wanted, they could trade gifts after all the choosing was over. There was a lot of laughter and fun (and oh the money that was saved). Sometimes, the gifts were wrapped and they had to just gamble on what was in it but always they could trade. It is a fun way to celebrate and not spend much money. If I do say so myself, some of the bargains (thought slightly used) were still divine.

We found it is the spirit of the gift and not the price tag or the look for perfection that seems to matter the most to us.

Merry Christmas to each of you!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas.....I Remember Mama.

I Remember....

When the seasons are about to change and Fall and Winter are on their way; when the school bells chime and the buses are out in full force, I can expect that my thoughts will return to my home in the mountains and memories of long ago.

It was a cold, blustery night and the snow was beginning to come down. At 6:00 pm it was already dark. Daddy was not home yet but we had already eaten dinner. It was good to be inside where it was warm. I was about five years old. Things were quiet in our house. My sisters were doing homework and Mom was cleaning the kitchen. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. It was seldom that someone came to the house after dark. Mom turned on the porch light and there was a man and three little girls at the door. The man explained that he had no job and that his children were hungry. “Could you spare some money or some food?”, he asked. Mom brought them to the table and heated up leftover food from our dinner and added canned applesauce and lots of milk. I had never seen anyone be so hungry. I hung back in the shadows and watched. Mom offered seconds and thirds and still they ate with vigor. She packed food that she had canned and made sandwiches. She talked with them, hugged them and they returned to the dark night.

Before she cleaned the table, she lifted me onto her lap and started to rock me in her rocking chair. “Terri”, she said, “you must remember this, when people are hungry, feed them, make sure before they leave that the children are full. Sometimes people have alcohol problems and if you give them money they might buy liquor and the children will continue to be hungry. The Bible says that there are times we care for angels unaware. I think that is who knocked on our door tonight”.

I remember it like it was yesterday, my heart pounding with the loud knocking on the door, the strangers coming in to our home, the children so tiny with huge eyes filled with hunger and the how humble their Daddy was. I remember with pride my Mom stretching food and giving them plenty to take with them. She treated them like family, like there was nothing unusual about their requests.

About twenty-five years later I became a foster parent in West Virginia. Again I saw the faces of hungry children; kids who were eight and nine years old that had never been asked if they wanted seconds on milk or food. I had to learn as an adult that hunger still existed in this country and it was within a few miles of my home. I remembered my Mom’s words as I too treated these children as though their hunger was not unusual and tried to make them feel at home. My Mom planted the seeds in me to help the hungry when I was just a little girl. I hope I passed this compassion on to my girls. I hope someone, somewhere touched your heart in this way too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Bit Like Christmas.....

Come on in and make yourself at home in our home for Christmas. I am just starting to get things together enough that you will hear and see Christmas in the air, at least I hope so.

I am really trying to simplify Christmas decorations this year. The old stained window out of an older NC church beside pottery and glass Christmas trees speak to me of the holy and sacred and call my spirit to prayer as much as any nativity set ever has (though I still have a nativity in another room).

More pictures coming in another post.....I still have to finish decorating my tree with oranges and candy canes. Oh, did you see the Cardinal in the wreath??

I found the huge round iron centerpiece that is shaped into pine branches and pine cones with red candles in a copper pot in the middle at a "sale" for a song. I added Magnolia branches to it this evening.

I hope you are having a good time decorating for Christmas as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the sacred birth of Christ and ultimate Love.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Is There Something Special About A Simple Christmas?

Hmmmmm, I am wondering and I wonder if you are wondering too? At Christmas, maybe more than any other time of the year, is there something special about keeping it very simple, very natural? What about real pine with a few real pine cones thrown in? Did you know you can go to nearly any real Christmas tree lot and they will GIVE you all the branches you want that they have cut off the bottom of trees? I've been doing it for nearly 40 first out of necessity and then out of love! I make boughs and tie with a pretty ribbon or fill an old rusted bucket or a huge basket on the front porch.....add some Magnolia branches and berries and voila.....even a florist can't beat it and oh, the scent. Heaven.

Last year a friend told me all she put on her tree was white lights and under it?? Just old toys (unwrapped). Keeping it simple she said.

I've been dragging out tubs of Christmas decorations this year but have decided to sell most. They just don't make my heart rejoice. I saw a post this Fall on Nester's blog and the only thing on the dining table was a dough bowl full of pine cones. The picture has haunted me for months.

Simple decorations, real not plastic or silk or twinkly or showy (no judgment here), a lit candle, some traditional Christmas music. I don't know about you (but I would like to) but it calls my heart to a simpler and perhaps for me a more spiritual time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Open House My House Part Two!!

In a perfect world where I knew what I was doing when blogging I would have been able to put both of these blogs into one post but I don't so I didn't. I hope you will go back and read the post before this one so get the full story:)

I invited friends over to shop.....5-7 on Friday evening and 2-4 on Saturday afternoon, this is never carved in stone. People came Thursday morning and Thursday evening and after 7pm on Friday and throughout on Saturday. I serve hot tea or chocolate and homemade cookies and brownies and we just have a good time. Some people stay ten minutes and some stay two hours. Some people dig and shop and walk in circles 3 or 4 times and others just glance and pick up what they want.

I love my home being filled with women laughing and telling stories and having a good time. The house echoes their voices for days and my mind and heart flood with the good memories.

Open House My House Part One, See Part Two Too!!!

This is the fifth year I have had a Christmas/Fall open house in my home and invited friends to come and shop. I have some more pictures to add and may have to do another post:)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Selling At A Church Bazaar!!

Sometimes strange things seem to happen to me or maybe they are not so strange after all. A friend asked me if I would like to rent a space and set up at a school function and sale some stuff. I did it. A month later I went to their Fall festival and a woman who had bought from me at the sale asked me if I would like to set up and sell at her church's bazaar. They had never rented out spaces before but would like to give it a try. I was willing and today that is exactly what I did. I had been going to this particular Bazaar at the Methodist church every year (8) since we had moved here. Standing in line with grinning, chatty women trying to stay warm until we could get inside and begin shopping. But not this year.....I was special and would have prior admittance:) Perks! I'm telling this woman all that and explained to her that the first thing I always grab is a homemade cherry cheesecake, she blushed, she giggled, her eyes twinkled, and she said, "I make the cheesecake every year". And just like that, we had a connection...we are friends finally meeting. Today she brought two, one for me and one for a new "friend" she will meet when she least expects it.

I had fun today, I met women and laughed and shared stories and I felt right at home. I am so glad to feel good enough to prepare the things to sale, have my husband carry them into the church (every woman can use the help of a strong guy once in awhile), display everything and then enjoy the people looking, sharing and buying. My kids ask why I would "put myself out at my age?" and I have the answer, "I really, really enjoy it!" So, why not?

I hope whatever age you are and whatever your physical limitations may be that you are doing what you enjoy and bringing joy to others along your path. Isn't that one of the things Life is about?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pilot Mountain Peddlers Christmas Open House

I have been to Peddlers twice this week taking in Christmas treasures and marking down the bit of Fall decorations that are left. The open house is 4:00 PM, Friday, November the 12th. Shari (Homespun and Primitives) will be bringing in hand made items next week. I can't wait to see all that she brings. I am really looking forward to the open house. The Fall one was such fun but nothing can compare to the magic of Christmas. I have gone to these open houses for years before I moved into a booth there and I love them. I see some of the same women every year and even though we don't know each others name we recognize that primitive spirit within each other and the love of the holidays. Tammy, as did Sherry the owner before her, do a wonderful job of making the shop look like an old time wonderland of simpler days. Mark your calendars now and if you are not to far away, have a girl's night out and join the fun.

Do you love Christmas open houses, Christmas church bazaars? Isn't it fun to get out and see all that creativity women have to share? I don't have to buy a single thing to bask in the glow of it all:)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Caught Between Two Worlds

more pumpkins & scarecrows Pictures, Images and Photos


Surely I am not the only one feeling the tug of Christmas just as I am beginning to enjoy Fall and knowing that 60 days from today it will be the day AFTER Christmas.

Most of you know I have booths in 4 antique and craft malls which keeps me hopping. Today I went to two of them and marked all the Fall/Halloween stuff way down and started putting Christmas in. Gee, I am not in the mood. Surely not everyone has had enough of Fall yet, bought every permanent (not fake) pumpkin, scarecrow, etc. already, have you? The Christmas music was playing and I am trying to think Christmas and make it pretty but really I would rather think orange a couple more weeks but the shop owners say it is time. So I am digging out Jim Shore, Hallmark, Handmade and you name it Christmas goodies, sequestering Fall into a tiny corner for another week at the shops and letting the show go on.

Please check out my other blog "Spiritual Inspiration" for more about being caught between two worlds:)

Thank you for stopping by to visit. Are you already thinking Christmas??

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall Around The House!

I took a few pictures around the house today. I'm not sure they are good enough to is really hard to get a good picture inside so my admiration has increased for you all that do it so well.

I decided less is more and took a bunch more of my stuff to the antique malls to sell so my decorations have definitely been simplified.

Thanks for coming to visit. I appreciate you leaving me a comment or question so that I know you are really out there:)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Only Have Two (2)) Ears!!

Ears Pictures, Images and Photos

I went to my first antique show many years ago and last night I thought about an interesting woman I met there. She had set up an eclectic booth full of treasures but what fascinated me the most (other than her beauty, her tailored and perfected clothing and the scent of liquor on her breath mingling with her designer perfume) was her showcase full of 14K gold and Sterling earrings.

As people sometimes do with me, she started telling me some of her life story (and I was intrigued) and it made me comfortable enough to ask her why she was selling so many really good earrings. Her answer was succinct, "I finally realized that I only have two ears so one pair of signature gold and one of silver should be enough".

I have been working on simplifying my life for several years now and I still have tons of work to do in that area (and trust me, plenty other areas as well). I still think getting rid of some earrings is a good place for any of us to begin.

Thank you for taking the time to come visit me today. I appreciate any comment you leave or question you ask.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Missing Picket's Place and Mostly Picket!!

Flickering Candle Pictures, Images and Photos

This evening I just wanted a good cry. No particular reason, I could just feel the tears behind my eyelids and I wanted to let them fly. And the strangest feeling came over me.....I longed to talk with someone I have never met....Picket. Do you know her? Know her Blog? It seems to be gone. I want to reread every post. I need to laugh as I read her funny stories and I need to weep as she encourages me to be more than I am, just by sharing the stories of her and her family.

Can you help me find her? I won't stalk her or intrude in any way. But isn't there someway I can read her old posts and in doing just that hear her voice and her advice again?

Thanks, you know what I'm talking about if you ever read her stories and heard her laughter and tears in the words she typed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall At Home Part Two!

I know it must be confusing when I do two posts in one evening but I don't know why I can't download more than 5 photos at once. Does anyone know the answer?

I am glad you came by to visit and if you came by twice to catch both of these posts, well, I am just twice as glad.

I love to read your comments and suggestions. They are a help to me!

Thanks for coming by!