Tag Archives: Christmas

Life After Christmas

5 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I am emerging from my Christmas fog. It began in mid December when I succumbed to a sinus infection. Since I am rarely sick, I spent quite a bit of time in denial. That might have been a contributing factor for the fog. Suddenly, it was Christmas, then Christmas eve. I do remember that we had a lovely Christmas morning with our children and grand children, then the fog descended once more.  I emerged again to celebrate our daughter’s birthday with a drive to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

The trip had been planned for several weeks but after the fires roared through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and down into Gatlinburg, it took on a poignant mood. We drove through one of the hardest hit areas, Chalet Village, and the devastation was heartbreaking. Out of respect for the owners and those who had lost loved ones, we did not take pictures.  If you would like to volunteer your time to help the hurting families, visit Volunteer East Tennessee

We ended our day in Pigeon Forge at The Island. The two big restaurants are The Timberline Grill and Paula Deen and there is an assortment of shops as well as an area with a carnival atmosphere including one of the new Eye rides. It is very pretty at night.

The Island

Two days later we drove to one of our favorite places in Franklin, Wayah Bald. Wayah was one of many National Park areas that were targeted for arson during November and December and we were anxious to see how the park fared. We knew that the roof on the fire tower had burned, but we were unprepared for the extent of the damage to the Flame Azalea plants as well as the smaller trees that lined the path. It was also odd to see green foliage next to burned tree trunks.

 I do clearly remember New Year’s Eve. We spent the evening with at least fifty talkative cousins, aunts and uncles. I love them so much! I have high hopes the fog is gone!

Snow is predicted for tomorrow night. We haven’t had snow yet this winter so I am excited and I have the required milk and bread! Hopefully I will have some pictures and a story  to share next week.

If you are in the path of the storm, stay safe and warm. If you are in Florida, you might want to pull out that sweater you seldom have the chance to wear.


Christmases Past, Present and …Future?

25 Dec


Judy Wills



Christmas, Christmas, Christ-mas….in the air… If you are ever at Walt Disney World, and EPCOT in particular in the Christmas season, stop by and hear the Voices of Liberty in the American Pavilion. The singers are dressed in Dickens-themed attire, and their songs are all Christmas, as well as a few Hanukkah songs. Totally delightful!

We have so many good memories of Christmases past. I’ve written about some in previous musings.



Christmas has always been a special time in our lives. Growing up, we usually had Christmas in our own home. Only once do I remember going to San Antonio, Texas to spend Christmas with my Grandmother and Aunt Jessie. And we were involved in a car crash approaching San Antonio! Not long after that, Granny and Aunt Jessie moved to Albuquerque.

I want share this one picture of my husband that I found.




Since he was born in February, this would probably have been his second Christmas, but he was approaching his second birthday. Did you notice the Mickey Mouse toy beside him? Wow! Do I wish we still had that toy! However, I’m sure that it went through his years, as well as his three siblings. So it might not be in very good shape by now!

After we married and began having our own Christmas celebration, we found ourselves at either one or the other in-laws’ house. That “tradition” continued even after we began our family. After our girls were a bit older, I told Fred that we needed to start staying at home and making our own family “traditions.” His initial response was that our family “tradition” was to go somewhere else! But that didn’t last long.


Since we’ve moved to Florida, our tradition has continued to be…let’s celebrate in our own home, and let the children and grands come to us. That has worked well. I believe all but about one or two of the 21 years we’ve lived here have been anywhere but here. And one of our daughters and her family will be with us again this year.



As for the future:   well, who can say? Both of our girls live in states that have tons of COLD weather, and avoiding cold weather and snow was one of the reasons we moved to Florida! It also gives our daughters and their families an opportunity to experience lovely Florida warmth at Christmas time. At least that’s our excuse!

As we all know, the future is in God’s hands…and His plan for our lives is so much better than anything we could devise for ourselves. So we will continue to share our Christmas with our girls and their families, as long as they are willing. We will continue to share the Good News of Christmas with them – that God sent His one and only Son to this earth as a baby, so that He would die on a cross for our sins, but, miraculously, by the Hand of God, be raised from the dead and grave, to give us eternal salvation.

GOD IS AMAZING!! And He is LOVE. And He is PEACE.   And He is JOY. And He is all of those things, and more, in this life, with the promise of eternal life with Him. How great is that??!!




How to find triumph in tragedy

24 Dec

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles


My son Joe’s empty stocking on the fireplace seared my heart. It had been twelve years since Joe’s tragic death.

Christmas no longer called for a celebration. Not anymore. Not when you have a vital part of your life missing. Festivities don’t have the joy they should.

And Christmas trees don’t emanate the usual scent.

Actually, my days needed to erase the Christmases, the birthdays, the holidays—all ushered pain rather than delight. They reminded me of what I once had and now what was gone.

The world celebrated, greetings of good wishes filled the room. But when tragedy turns your world upside down, no amount of cheer can bring clarity to the fog of sadness.

Strange, though, often, it’s the scorching pain that forces our eyes to open to a bigger picture. It did for me as I rewound memories of past Christmases.

Years ago, when our three sons, including Joe, were still young, I focused on providing a perfect Christmas; a perfect tree to wrap a perfect celebration. As a result, little things tended to roil in me such as a light strand that refused to shine because of a burned bulb. Annoyed at the glitch, I promptly set off to resolve it. I fussed, I rearranged, plugged and unplugged until frustration grew hot in me.

How foolish and silly. I focused on that one bulb, dismissing the glow of the star atop the Christmas tree.

I’ve done the same with light bulbs that burned in my life—from broken relationships to shattered plans. Exerting tons of energy trying to fix them, I missed Christ, the newborn King—the star that gave significance to my life. The star that covers shadows of gloom and sorrow.

Joe’s memories changed—his sweet smile, his tender hugs and his sense of humor now sit atop of my life, casting off that glow to bring back the joy.

To remind me that he’s not gone, not from my heart, not from my mind, nor have the images of his spunky self vanished.

When that void in our heart aches to be filled, it’s Christ’s star of comfort that makes it whole. When bitter sorrow robs the spirit of Christmas, it’s the star of His everlasting love that whispers joy. When a health diagnosis shakes our world, it’s His star of reassurance that shines the certainty of new tomorrows. When our finances rob our security, it’s the star of God’s provision that ushers the radiance of reassurance. It’s the same star that never loses the brilliance of hope. The hope that, through Christ, tragedies turn to triumph.

Source: How to find triumph in tragedy. | Janet Perez Eckles

Joy For All

23 Dec

From the Heart

Louise Gibson


On the final day of a Christian publishing conference in Singapore, 280 participants from 50 countries gathered in the outdoor plaza of a hotel for a group photo. From the second-floor balcony, the photographer took many shots from different angles before finally saying,”We’re through”.  A voice from the crowd shouted with relief, “Well, joy to the world!” Immediately, someone replied by singing, ‘The Lord is come.” Others began to join in. Soon the entire group was singing the familiar carol in beautiful harmony.  It was a moving display of unity and joy.

In Luke’s account of the Christmas story, an angel announced the birth of Jesus to a group of shepherds saying, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” ( Luke 2:10-11)

The joy was not for a few people, but for all. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son”.(John 3:16)

As we share the life-changing message of Jesus with others, we join the worldwide chorus in proclaiming “the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.” “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” David McCasland

The good news of Jesus’s birth is a source of joy for all people.


“Merry Christmas, dear friends. And a Happy New Year.”

Louise Gibson

I Don’t Have a Title!

22 Dec

WordPress is being ornery.

It’s stressing me out.

I have a nasty cold

My nose has become a spout.

I refuse to give in

To woe is me.

I choose to allow

Laughter and love

To reign supreme!

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!


“Help! There’s A Kidnapper in my Apartment!”

16 Dec

From the Heart

Louise Gibson



Well, not really.
But my cat is acting like one.
I set up a miniature village under my tree,
the source of a lot of fun!

There are houses, a church, commercial buildings,
and a ski slope brings a smile.
Skiers actually go up and down,
so watching them is worth your while.

Corky, my little feline friend, watched patiently-
His eyes moving from north to south.
But curiosity got the best of him.
A little man walking down the street
wound up in Corky’s mouth!

Corky didn’t know what to do.
His captive put up no fight.
He dropped him when he looked at me.
Ha! He had to make it right!

Christmas brings out the kid in me.
My heart is filled with play
as I look to our Savior,
a God of wisdom, with us everyday.

I wish you a “Merry Christmas”
Keep looking up, dear friend.
And don’t forget to look around you,
The need for love has no end!



Christmas Dinner “Take Out”

15 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

The Christmas dinner I wrote about last week, gave me an unexpected “take out.” I didn’t ask for it and would have gladly left it there, but alas, it was somehow sent home with me and for the next twelve days I found myself changed into a cough factory. To complicate matters, I decided to bring out my stubborn panties and refused to see a doctor. After nine days, I waved the tissue of surrender and visited a walk in clinic. And voila, three days later I am on the mend.

As I am writing this, the sweet Holy Spirit tapped me on my heart, reminding me that the nasty cough is a learning opportunity. The next time I get my panties in a wad, don’t wait until I am miserable before taking the problem to the ultimate physician.

Ok, moving on… At our home in the North Carolina mountains, I like to celebrate the seasons and my favorite way is with an entryway display. I am not a crafty sort of person. Well, I can be devious, but I am talking about being crafty in an artsy sort of way, so this is a stretch for me. Over Thanksgiving I asked Rebekah to help me do something special for Christmas. I have an old Windsor chair that is the central piece. ( I think my mother rescued it from a trash heap)

Usually, I add a woven basket and fill it with shiny Christmas ball and pinecones, but this year I wanted to change it up. Our town in Florida recently was blessed with a Hobby Lobby store and the abundance of Christmas stems had me itching to use them.

I wanted the items in the display to have a story and as my mind make a mental inventory of items I could repurpose, I remembered a butter churn that came from my grandparents farm. It was old and dull and the paddle was broken. It lived at my parents home. One year my mother and husband worked together to give it a fresh coat of paint and fashion a new paddle. They gave it to me as a Christmas gift, a labor of love and I have treasured it. I decided it would make a perfect “vase”.

Rebekah helped me choose white, glittery poinsettia to go with the rather dashing red and green spray-ish  stem I had chosen to give it height. In some leftover Christmas supplies I found  red mesh ribbon and we tied it around the churn and attached a glittery bow ornament. ( Can you tell I am in a glittery phase) Now the poor paddle looked naked and lonely, so I rummaged through discarded tree decorations and found some tightly wound tinsel. We wrapped it around the paddle handle and it looked good, but was missing something. Rebekah pulled out a tree topper that was too heavy for our current tree. It is made of beaten metal and the lights gleam through Mickey Mouse ear shaped holes. Perfect!

For the chair, I decided to use a precious quilt a friend had made for me out of pieces of my mother’s favorite clothes.  We spread it over the chair, then placed a white stuffed bear, a discard from a grandchild, on the seat. I thought he looked a bit bare, so I went through drawers and found a pair of Sponge Bob Square Pants Christmas boxers. They were used one Christmas when the whole family wore Christmas PJs.  I slid them on and although they are too big and droopy, I like them. Memories are better than making a fashion statement. We added a Christmas pillow and a couple of small stuffed friends and the display was complete. It certainly is not elegant but the glow I feel when I pass it, makes it beautiful to me.


If you look closely you can see the star lights on the paddle top, peeping through the shiny stem.

Ten days until Christmas!

Let the Christmas Fun Begin.

8 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 Whew!  The Christmas season is upon us and I feel as if I am five steps behind.  We are going to a Christmas performance tonight, put on by our local theatre company, but I wanted to tell you about our ladies Christmas dinner at our church, last Friday night.

Since moving to the mountains (well part-time moving) I have been blessed to attend my churches Christmas ladies dinner. It is an outreach to the women in the community and is totally free. We fund raise for it all year.  It is a fun affair and men in the church volunteer to serve and clean up. However, the women of the kitchen staff do the cooking ahead of time.

This year I volunteered to help. My job was to put tomato sauce and cheese on top of 180 servings of cream cheese pasta.  The servings go into individual dishes to make it easy for the men to serve. Once they were filled  we tucked them into a large warmer oven. It took me most of the day and I was tired!


Other ladies of the church volunteered to decorate tables, using their personal Christmas dishes and decorations. They were so pretty!

During the dinner, my husband worked in the kitchen getting the food to the servers. He said it was chaos! Imagine a group of men all scrambling to get hot food out to the ladies. We had four courses, French onion soup, cranberry salad, main course with roll and dessert. It was a challenge and I think the men did a fabulous job.

Once everyone was served, the men brought out coffee and Russian tea for us to sip while we listened to an inspiring speaker.

As you can imagine in a room full of ladies, there was a lot of cheerful noise. I loved every minute and look forward to next year.

I would enjoy reading your story too. What kind of fun activities are you enjoying?

UPDATE: In the beginning of this story, I mentioned husband and I were going to a Christmas performance. We arrived in PLENTY of time to get a good parking space. As in 24 hours early! Yes, I had the date wrong.  Can I blame it on the cold meds I am taking?

The Simple Truth, Peanuts-Style

2 Dec

From the Heart

Louise Gibson

The author of this is Jeanne Rogors.  I want to share her message.


“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you

and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

(Mathew 5:11)


For years, major television networks have featured a Charlie Brown Christmas as one of their prime time specials during the days prior to Christmas.  Audiences of all ages have viewed the 1965 classic movie.

The famous cartoon provides clean entertainment as the beloved Peanuts characters explore life’s challenges.  Each scene is honest and humorous and Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, always steals the show. It is also a favorite because the movie features the true meaning of Christmas.

Throughout the plot of the movie, Charlie Brown experiences frustration and disappointment, and eventually despairs with all the commercialization of Christmas. Guided by the five-cent, psychiatric advice of Lucy, he accepts the role of director for the annual Christmas Pageant.

As usual, he gets no respect for his leadership effort.  He voices his frustration with familiar Peanuts remarks, “Good grief!” and  “Oh rats!”

Just as he is about to give up on understanding Christmas, Charlie Brown’s friend, Linus. offers him hope.

“I’ll tell you what Christmas is all about”, Linus says.  The scene changes as Linus walks into the center-stage spotlight.  The true meaning of Christmas unfolds as the voice of a pre-school child narrates the story of Jesus’ birth.


“And there were shepherds gathered in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Fear not, I bring you good news of great joy for all the people of the earth. For today, in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you.  He is Christ the Lord.”( Luke 2;8-10)

Charlie Brown gets it.  Something happens inside his heart.  A change in attitude and behavior moves through the entire cast of characters, and their disagreeable mood transforms into celebrative joy.

In typical Peanuts style, Charlie Shultz gave a truthful solution to a dilemma that has intensified over the forty years since the movie’s creation- the secularization of Christmas. We are grateful to this  talented cartoonist who spoke a timeless, spiritual message through the lives of animated children.

This Christmas when so many messages of truth are silenced, perhaps the message of hope, told in a classic cartoon, will be heard.  May we once again experience the profound and simple meaning of Christmas; that a Savior was born “for all the people of the earth.”





Christmas in Germany

27 Dec


Judy Wills




Recently, on facebook, I saw that our daughter, Karen, has posted a picture that took me right back to our first tour of Germany. She stated that it: “brings back memories of living in Germany!”  We were in Wiesbaden, living in government quarters, which was a “stairwell” with two “apartments” on each level. And there were two stairwells in each building. We happened to live on the top floor, which we later discovered was the best place to live. No one above us…if we needed a breeze, we had it whether or not the other levels had the breeze or not. The only drawback was carrying grocery sacks up those three flights of stairs – and laundry down to the basement!

But usually, at Christmas, we were encouraged to decorate our picture window. I seem to recall there were competitions among the buildings to see who had the “best” or most elaborate decorations, or the most meaningful….you get the picture.

Therefore, this picture really reminded me of that time. Here is the picture Karen posted:


I’m sorry this picture is in black and white. However, let me show you one of the building we lived in, and what we did one of the Christmases:


Our apartment is the upper left one – the one with the silver bells. I don’t think we won any awards, but it was fun, anyway.

Here is another picture, but not of our stairwell. They may have won an award!


Ten years later, we were stationed in Heidleberg. We lived in a different “type” of government housing, with the picture window at the end of the building/room, rather than like the housing in Wiesbaden. Here is what I did for our window treatment there.



The Germans made these wonderful decorations out of wood/wood shavings. That’s what this one was. Unfortunately, I must not have packed it well enough, because it arrived in the States rather beaten up, and unusable. In any case, I don’t have it any more. But we enjoyed it while there.

My taste in Christmas decorating may not be very elaborate, but Fred and I both enjoy what we put together to decorate our house.

But more than that, many of our decorations and tree ornaments are from Germany, and we are reminded of our time there every time we decorate our tree, or put together some sort of decoration in the house. It was a wonderful time in our lives, and we are thankful God gave us the opportunity to live outside our country.


%d bloggers like this: