Advent Begins 2016

Amaryllis Christmas Flowers

Amaryllis Christmas Flowers – sent to me by my Mother-In-Law in Houston

I know it’s been a while since I blogged… in fact, I think this past November was the very first month I didn’t blog AT ALL since I began blogging in 2005. I am sure you can imagine, that a cancer diagnosis changes a lot of things, and I just let my blog take a back seat for a while. I still write lots of blog posts… they just happen in my mind, while I’m sipping tea, in-between juicing with my new Champion Juicer, keeping my food journal, homeschooling my busy boys, or doing dishes and cooking.

Blendtec

The kitchen has been a particular challenge for me. I find that I spend a majority of the day in there. One day it will be easier, but for now, I’m cooking a lot of things that only I will eat, and doubling up to make additional things for the rest of the family. Juices and smoothies are something my kids are not keen on yet, for the most part. All my research so far has led me to review my pre-diagnosis dietary habits and change them for the purpose of creating a hostile environment for cancer growth. Mostly, I do alkaline diet and eat purposefully (as many foods that prevent, kill, or hinder cancer as I can). I’d love to blog about all of this journey someday, but for now, I’m keeping my cancer journey in Facebook, Instagram and my personal food journal… and sharing with friends in real life. I just don’t have time to do it justice on my blog currently.

Thanksgiving 2016

How was your Thanksgiving? We really enjoyed ours. I only cheated a little bit with some turkey, some fruit and natural sugars (I put grapes, apple, and honey in my cranberry sauce), and I ate some broccoli-rice casserole with Velveeta or cheese whiz – not sure which – which I’m sure is not on anyone’s anti-cancer diet. I had a good time with family, though, and that’s really what it is all about – thanking God for another blessed year to be together and share in the bounty He has provided. I just love Thanksgiving and usually refuse to even listen to Christmas music until the turkey is eaten, at the very least!

Babushka and Jesus is Born

For today, I wanted to share about Advent. We put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving normally, but this year we had an additional feast with my dad, who came over Saturday and helped us put up the tree then. My dad has always been really big on Christmas, so we enjoyed having him and my step-mom to help with the festivities. It sure went quicker with extra hands. Crazy, but our floors are still not finished due to an issue we had to get checked out with our foundation (we were cleared to continue recently), so we ended up putting the tree in our new and re-purposed “dining” area. It is more of a junk room right now, and has been home to my husband’s bycicles and the piano lately. I like being able to see the tree from the kitchen, though. My only caveat is the new tile floors are ferocious on those glass ornaments when they fall! I may have to invest in a huge quilted tree skirt to prevent a lot of memories from ending up in the dustpan.

The Light of Christmas

One thing that I have been doing since August when I got diagnosed with stage III cancer is preventing as much STRESS as possible, so I have simplified Advent greatly. The month of December is packed already with so much stuff, that I have a simple goal for each day: spend time with the kids purposefully talking about Christmas, Jesus, Love and Light (the Light of the World kind), Gratitude and Giving. Today was our Day 25 of Advent countdown. Our Advent will end on the 22nd. We will be doing family things for a few days on the 23rd through the 25th, and then we will begin Hanukkah and continue that until the 1st of January. Pretty much every single day there will be some sort of learning experience – all the way to New Years Day. I plan to include devotional books, crafts, picture books, random acts of kindness or serving others, and just CELEBRATING the season. It really is as easy as that.

Your Advent doesn’t have to look like Ann Voskamp’s to be legitimate. I want to give you the OK to make it look like your own – because God gave YOU the kids you have, and you are the best person to nurture and grow them up in the Lord. Just be sure to celebrate and add in lots of smiles and hugs. Embrace the JOY that He longs to share with you. The Christmas story is told for us to REJOICE that God gave us the most precious gift of all time. Take it from the angels who appeared to those star-struck shepherds in the Christmas story; we should take joy in the story of God’s Son. Celebration is a huge thread in the Bible – God ordained feasts and celebrations for His people. He wants you to ENJOY Him.

Tonight we read a couple of new books we got on review. I would have done one each night, but they were both so pretty and I just HAD to read them both.

The books are here (in case you wanted to click over on Amazon and get them for yourself – if you use my links, I might eventually get a few pennies towards maintaining this site):

Babushka – A Christmas Tale by Dawn Casey, Illustrated by Amanda Hall

and…

Jesus is Born – Retold by Sophie Piper, Illustrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert

Both books have the wise men of the Christmas story in them. They went well together and brought about some fun conversation with the boys. Both books mentioned the Christmas Star, also. The artwork in both of them was awesome. I’m a sucker for a pretty children’s book. After we read the books, we walked over to the piano, where our nativity is currently residing and I picked up baby Jesus and talked about how he was God’s greatest gift to us, which is why we give gifts for Christmas. I showed them our silver Sparkle Box (I reviewed this book and box of gifts for Jesus last year).  We read through last year’s gifts for Jesus and then I took them out to archive them. I talked to them about how Babushka gave away gifts in the story out of love for others, and how we give to others to show love to Jesus. They were excited to do things to serve others to put new “gifts” in the Sparkle Box for this year.

I am not sure what all books will will read over the coming days, but I’m just grabbing one or two each day and allowing Jesus to direct our learning. He is able. It’s all about Him. As long as I’m walking towards Him, the path will come up to meet me – that’s something I am as certain of as ever now that I have seen Him walk me through the valley of death and bring me out on the other side. My health was gift-wrapped and given back to me in 2016. I feel like Hezekiah, blessed beyond the grave with more time to live and love my family. How could you not be grateful for that?!

If you are interested in more books we read for Advent, I’ll be sure to keep a list of them. Maybe next Christmas I can compile a big list of Advent, Christmas and Hanukkah resources for you all. I’m making my own list as I go. One happy memory at a time.

Something Warm

I pray you are able to sip something warm and create margins for your soul, smile at the sparkling chaos, and embrace the imperfections of the holiday season. Truly, each day is a gift, and the holidays are what we make of them. May we put Christ in this season and every day of December.

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