Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Additions

Aren't they cute? On Dec.23, I came home from town to find this beautiful Labrapoodle sitting in the arms of our girls. He has become a new guest in our home over the holidays.
Everybody that knows me, understands that dogs belong outside.
Everybody growing up on a farm understands why they stay outside.
Not this one.
He had his own special crate and seemed to enjoy most of the Christmas activities. His name is Drift Wood, so we were enjoying a leisurely stroll with him down at the river.
It was last Jan.29 that we had to sadly put down both our family horse Cheval and our family dog, Carmen. I have come to realize that loosing and grieving over our family pets has become quite familiar with bloggers.

Our family story is not only just about grandkids and pets, but we also have two wonderful daughters that have been home for the past three days.
It's so good to catch up and sit around and enjoy our favorite coffee.
Except our favorite coffee only has one more breakfast serving.

Good reason to walk to town and pick up some more.
My two daughters continue living life to the fullest. Suzanne is teaching Gr.3 at a local school in our community, an inner city school and she loves her work. Mikki is in her final year at UBC studying Occupational Therapy. Both of them enjoy the outdoors and spend time planning events with their friends. Last year they both cycled 200 miles for two straight days, (STP-Seattle to Portland) with at team of 30 other cyclists and raised over $46,000 for a school project in Rwanda.
When there not working or studying you will see them snowboarding, hiking, surfing, cycling or running.

So tomorrow, we're off to hit the slopes. I'm wondering who will get priority in our SUV, Drift Wood or me? I'll tell you later. It's fun adding new members to our family, and someday, I'm sure there will be more additions that I will be able to write about.
Meanwhile I'm learning to break a few house rules and smiling as I go along.
Now I know why I've been feeling to dog-tired.

Marg

Monday, December 24, 2007

ALL IS WELL

~~~~~~~Let me share from my heart the meaningful words "All is Well" .
This song sung by MW Smith Christmas CD has overwhelmed me once again. Years back when this CD was just new, Frank Peretti was narrating a story for these words.
I bought the story book and CD and have shared it with many friends.
I am reminded over and over that "All is Well."


Do we always see it that way?

So much of it depends where we are standing and how good the view is from where we see it.

The story goes on to talk about the challenges of a single mother and her daughter Jenny. Ruth's husband passed away and she was left alone to take care of the bills and support her daughter.

One little Jenny came running downstairs and showed her mother what she found in the attic. The memories came flooding back. She had found the little ornament. Jenny’s father had made the ornament which was blotchy and messy, but the words inscribed were, “For unto us a child is born” and and on the other side,”All is Well.” The mother knew the reason even though she may not understand.

Meanwhile the daughter is trailing her wagon through the neighbor hood trying to sell goods/junk just to help her mother put food on the table. This little ornament was stuck in one of the boxes that she was trying to sell. The neighbors reached out and saw the need and were selling this ornament back and forth to raise money for this family, to give them hope.

Ruth, the mother always encouraged her Jenny. "Keep your chin up. Think positively. Look for that silver Lining. “All is Well”
God do you care for me anymore? Ruth was sobbing and reflecting.

Where are you standing and how is your view?

Ruth knows all those things, but she remembers how come all is well. She remembers and she will tell Jenny, that God is the story teller of our lives and weaves the strings together. God has the best view of all and she will tell Jenny the story of God’s story in the manger long ago.

As I have stated on my header, life is full of challenges, twists and surprises and as I think of the things that have led up to this year again, I too have to say, I've had my questions and doubts to understanding how God is weaving this puzzle together? No matter how you hit those curve balls when they come flying at you, way down deep, I too, can say "All is Well" because we know the reason for the season. Sometimes the answers to our problems come in unique and surprising ways. Sometimes we're still waiting for the answers.

Throughout the book Frank gently reminds each of us that through the provision of our loving God and the kindness and compassion of others, we too can believe the manger story and celebrate the joy of Christmas all year long, no matter what our circumstances are.

Just hearing the words of a young grandchild whisper "How Can I hear God's voice?" Then I, too can say with thankfulness, "All is Well."

Please continue to believe that God will stay with us till the story is completed. That’s why, “All is Well”

Marg

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa's Elf Comes to Save Me

~~~~~~
Alas, the final preparations are being pieced together this afternoon. I called up my favorite little elf, invited him for an afternoon to help me put the final touches to our home so that his parents could catch up on any last minute things. My little elf was more than happy to be able to light the last candle today. Finally he got a turn!!
Then it was time to bake the last batch of "Pepper Nuts" or Pheffernusse, to make sure they would be nice and fresh, as that's the favorite when they all come home. He slapped his hands into the butter as he rolled out his long snake, then he started to cut them, all shapes and sizes, little one's for Baby M and large ones for Mommy and Daddy.

Then we put the finishing touches to the name tags under the tree
making sure no one was missed.


Opa & Daddy & Jacob & Mommy & Silas

Decorating the tree this year has been my challenge. I started with tinsel and then decided it was outdated, ripped it off and found some kind of decoration that I thought was unique, wintry and simple, and I made sure that it looked just like my little elf had help me.
I'm so greatful to my little helper.

We can't forget the Hazelnut Roll. We whipped it up and licked the whipping cream and nougat filling together! You can imagine who wore most of the whipping cream on his face.
This dessert is our family favorite which needs to be hidden, otherwise the big elves will sneak it during the night-time.
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"

By now, it was time to take a break and watch his favorite show. "A Fruitcake Christmas," by Hermie & Friends. Max Lucado is the narrator and his message is so simple and clear to help little ones understand that the true meaning of Christmas is nothing but God's gift to us.
While we were watching he says,
"Oma, Can God really talk to me?"
It's so precious to hear his sensitivity to God's voice.
Isn't that the true message of Christmas? Let's take time to let God talk to all of us this Christmas Season.

Marg



Saturday, December 22, 2007

Martha Stewart Comes to Visit

~~~~~~Christmas is always the one time of year to invite special friends over and enjoy each others' company. Our company arrived and they brought this beautiful package of home-made goodies all decorated just like Martha would do it. I was just adoring this beautiful platter and thinking about the person who had made these goodies when suddenly there's a knock at the door. I jumped up to see who was there....

You wouldn't believe it. The most gorgeous Christmas bouquet I have ever received. It was filled with flowers from the Hawaiian Islands. Someone knew that Hawaii has a special place of memories in my heart. Thank-you so much to my friend who sent these. It's been a privilege working together in Fraser Health, Elma. You have given me a challenge and opportunity, but it's been nothing but rewarding.

So we ate really quickly, so that I could set this beautiful bouquet right in the middle of my dining room table. I had to take off the table cloth just to find another one that would complement this bouquet (my favorite one from the Pottery Barn) and then we just stood there and adored this beautiful arrangement. I never thought that my table could look like Martha Stewart's table with just the right arrangements.

I love receiving surprises. Even just the surprise of fresh snow on the ground this morning. Most of us are expecting surprise visits from Santa Claus in the next few days, but there's no better surprise when it comes from special friends because as you know, it comes from the heart.

Happy Baking, Cooking and Cleaning!

Marg



Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cutting Down The Family Tree

~~~~~It was a beautiful sunny dry day, the perfect day to drive out to the end of the valley and chop down a tree. It had become a tradition way back when our kids were young to invite all the cousins and go up the mountains and chop down trees, but over the years all the regulations have changed and so have our kids.

But now we decided to started a new tradition and that's to invite the grandkids and away we go.....When I called up Big M he was ready and raring to go help his Opa cut down the Christmas tree. Without any hesitation he let us know that Baby M had to stay at home this year. He is quite protective of his time with us!

As you can see, chopping down a tree for us means having a family meeting, viewing all the trees and trying to figure out which one will fit perfectly for Marg. The discussions go back and forth, should it be a Fraser River Fir, or an Alpine Fir or a Nobel Fir?
And then what size should it be? Does it fit in our pickup?


We walked up and down the beautiful snow filled meadows until we saw
what we thought was the perfect tree.

Down on all hands and knees, both of them started
cutting and grinding away...

Cutting this tree took a a whole team effort,
until after a few minutes the little guy pipes up..

"Opa? Why don't you use a motor?"
You can see the expression on my husbands face thinking, "How does a 4-year old understand anything about motors? My husband has always had a thing for motors, that if there's a motor, then use it....Why would one stand and peel potatoes for an hour? There must be some kind of invention out there to simplify the task. I think he was totally blown away,
surprised and shocked that his grandson was thinking similar thoughts.


I'm somewhat more resistant to thinking about motors. I prefer that they still slip and slide on the ice, while I make them a cup of hot chocolate with some fresh ginger snaps.
Keep them young!!

Marg

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Two Babies in a Manger

~~~~~~~~~Last night my extended family, with siblings (26) joined us in our home for a wonderful turkey dinner with all the trimmings and we all enjoyed playing BINGO, (it became a new tradition.) Remember all ages are included, others were jumping on the trampoline with the lights, but the highlight for me was watching Big Mac play with all the figures from our nativity scene. I just put the nativity scene up this week as my finale to our Christmas decorations.

He would lay all the animals down pretending that they were sleeping and then you could hear them going clickety click as they marched off to Bethlehem. But to see his little head, heart and hands play and act out the story that we have been reading over the last weeks, was indescribable. Keep those traditions that are meaningful and keep stories and values that impact our children alive in their hearts forever.

Our family has grown up in the faith and we always count it a blessing, and yet somehow we all know the Christmas story, so in our order to keep the Christmas story alive we found this beautiful story which has a powerful impact in helping us understand:
"
that it is not what you have in your life, but Who you have in your life that really counts."
If you are looking for something, different, yet with meaning, enjoy a good read. (It's a bit long, but worthwhile.)

TWO BABIES IN A MANGER

In 1994, two teachers answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. The teachers relate the following story in their own words:

It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word.

Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city. Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel (cut from a worn-out nightgown a lady was throwing away), were used for the baby's blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the Canada.

The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6-years-old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger.

Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately -- until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad-lib.

He made up his own ending to the story as he said,

"And when Mary laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with Him. But I told him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give Him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept Him warm, that would be a good gift." So I asked Jesus, 'If I keep You warm, will that be a good enough gift?' And Jesus told me, 'If you keep Me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave Me.' So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and He told me I could stay with Him -- for always."

As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him -- for always.

And the Teachers? They had learned the lesson they had come there to teach -- that it is not what you have in your life, but Who you have in your life that really counts. We all should give thanks for the people that "keep us"- in life - and for all of God's many blessings to us: freedom from want, life, love, togetherness, and for the enduring love of Jesus Christ, the one person who keeps us warm and safe for always. Author Unknown

May you all find blessings in this Third Advent Sunday and remember that you can have HIM also.

Marg

Friday, December 14, 2007

To Do List!!

~~~~~~~~

It just seems like there is so much to do, and I want to sit down and blog and then I look at my "To Do List" and I keep plugging along. The list seems to get longer and longer, but now my hubby finally escaped to the barn and no one can watch what I do with my time...(I just have to make sure that by the time he gets back, it looks like I've done something.)
I just plugged in my favorite Christmas CD's , Groban, Diana Krall, Frank Connick Jr., Celine Dion, and Debbie Fortnum.


We're hosting the annual Schmidt House Christmas Gathering at our home and so the pressure is on, to figure out all those little details that make everybody have a memorable family Christmas gathering.

This year we're playing BINGO as a replacement for the gift exchange. Everybody can play BINGO, young and old. Our family was getting tired of the old gift exchange by number, so this year everybody will bring an unwrapped present that they would like to take home, and then when they hit the jackpot they can choose to take any gift under the tree, or choose the Mystery gift. ( I wrapped three gifts of the same value.) So as the game goes on, we'll be saying, "Deal or No Deal" Choices are always lots of fun and the wonder of an unwrapped gift will keep the suspense in the air.

Secondly, this year we have a door prize for the one with the closest weather prediction.
The Schmidt Family always engages in lengthy conversations about weather patterns, where they are developing and so, three weeks ago, they had to submit their weather predictions and now John has entered the data on the computer with lows and highs, precipitation amounts, winds, and the winner closest to the local weather network station report for Saturday, Dec. 15th will go home with a door prize.

Oops! I just saw the truck come home, he's back too early,..I'll turn on the vacum cleaner..
Anyways, I buttered him up with coffee and shortbread.

I think we're off to get the Big Turkey and finish off some shopping in town. I think I'll take my Keg gift certificate along and suggest that eating out sounds better than left overs.

"Making a list, checking it twice..."

Marg

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

THANKFUL

Somedays we forget
To look around us
Somedays we can't see
The joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give.

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be.
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see.
It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for.

Look beyond ourselves
There's so much sorrow
It's way too late to say
I'll cry tomorrow
Each of us must find our truth
It's so long overdue

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And every day we hope for
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for.

Even with our differences
There is a place we're all connected
Each of us can find each other's light

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more

There's so much to be thankful for

This is my all time favorite CD for this Christmas Season. The lyrics of this song, make me think how many times I complain about things that are of no importance. God grant me to think and bring about change. Help me to be the light!
In a quiet, classy way, this incredibly talented young man simply knows and understands that war is a reality. The rest of the music on the CD is gorgeous. Some songs have a boys' choir in the backgrond; in one song he does a duet with Faith Hill that is lovely; and the orchestra is powerful. Sip a latte and enjoy!!

marg

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Simple Things

~~~~~~~
I remember my first Christmas as a married women. We were going to his side of the family and I was all excited about traditions of the European culture.
When I walked into the dining room, I remember the table lit up with a simple wreath with four candles and their were oranges with candles placed around the table.
I asked "What's this all about?"
Well I realized quickly that there were many small grandchildren ranging anywhere from 2-12 years of age. The oranges represented table seating arrangements for the children

How festive, How simple!
(Take off the stem and push a thin Ikea candle right through the stem of a mandarin orange.)

Since then, I have continued setting oranges and candles while my children were small and today anyone who is young enough will also enjoy an orange candle.
Watch there eyes light up. "Oranges with candles?"

On Sunday I set up two orange settings, for both my M&M's
Take time to enjoy the simple things in life.

Marg

Sunday, December 9, 2007

One Small Family with a Big Heart

~~~~We often think that if we had all the money in the world,
then we could make a real difference.

This past week I had a call by my nephew asking whether he could help decorate the Emergency Ward at the our local hospital.

Young Owen, 8 years old has beautifully handcrafted his own snowflakes and wanted to donate them to a place where he could help brighten up peoples hearts.

Mother, and teacher, Andrea, is also striving to raise Owen in a
topsy-turvy and often bewildering world,
and yet helping him understand the difference that giving can be better than receiving.

Owen's Father would also agree strongly that the message of Christmas lies in rearranging our obligations and priorities which can continue to decorate our hearts with thoughts and attitudes that are worthy to welcome a King!
Owen has taught us something about inner preparations for the heart.
How do we clean our inner lives deliberately putting away the distractions that clutter our hearts and minds?

Thank-you Owen for your heart of service and you will have made someone smile today.

"I earnestly wish that every good brought into life by the Christmas Christ be yours, that you may have a heart of cheer, a spirit of hope, a life of love for every day in all the year."
George Eliot

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas Latte's in the Country!


~~~~~~~~~
Oh! If our teachers could see us again, they'd know that we were nothing but lively country girls, farmer's daughters looking for adventure. and always kaniving something.
We had so much in common.
It was way back in Grade eight that both of us met. We made so many memories riding the MEI bus, spending weekends at each others homes, and always looking for excitement. We have stayed in contact and connected through different events over the past 35 years. We've had our children, and now our grandchildren, and we're both empty nester's. Yahoo!!
It was through the passing away of a mutual friend, Hildegard Toews, this September, that really has brought us back together. The three of us were good old MEI buds. Laughed together, cried together, drove the teachers crazy, always up to mischief and yet there was never a dull moment.

Judy, do you still remember the time we were kidnapped by the hot road dragsters and landed up at the Davy Crocket Motel? Oh my, our hearts thumped that night, eh? We were so fearful our parents would find out. We learned a few good lessons that night!

Today Judy and I shared our Christmas Latte's together, talking and sharing from the heart.
Driving on her yard I saw her beautiful angels and right up front of the drive way was her Inukshuk, which is a symbol of hope and friendship. I felt so welcomed as I entered the front porch and the door was wide open togreet me. Her home is beautifully decorated and yet reflects the natural beauty of the earth. A fire in the fireplace, candles burning, and time to sit quietly, savoring the moment and sipping on our hot mocha lattes, while listening to the soft background music of Josh Groban's new Christmas album, Noel.

Before we settled down for our latte's we went for a nice long walk and enjoyed the beauties of the Mount Cheam range with it's fresh snow, but I'll tell you one thing, I've been short all my life and to this day, she strides twice as fast as I, but at least I get a better workout. So as you can tell, by the picture, I actually had to sit on a booster chair so it looks like we're both the same height.

Take time to look up friends, treasure each other's ideas, sip on lattes' and share what matters most in your lives.

The "fondest, lasting memories" don't necessarily come from "major moments" in life...the making of a memory simply happens...Kathleene S. Baker

Marg

My Little Carolers

~~~~~~

It was years back when I remember going out caroling. All the young people's would meet right after the Christmas Eve service and would squeeze as many into one car and drive out to the country to carol. Oh it was so much fun. I have such strong memories of those days. I remember one Christmas eve it was snowing lightly which is so rare, in our part of the world, but we were just stepping into the fluffy white snow, the guys were having a wicked snowball fight and of course trying to stuff the snow down our backs, and they were just thrilled that we were squealing with glee. Of course, the cars were skidding all over the roads, but you know how fun that was? Till we hit a fence and all giggled and laughed and thought it was hilarious, except for the poor driver. That was called "living on the edge" in those days. (Nobody wanted to go home.)When I talk to my kids about those times, they look at me like I'm really strange. Wouldn't it still be fun to go out at Christmas and walk through the neighborhood caroling?

One day when I was in the Christmas Craft Fair, way back in the early 80's I found the most beautiful "Carolers" . Someone had sewn them and they were just so delicately hand crafted.
I remember thinking, "Can I afford this?"(They were $20 for a pair) What would my husband think?" I drove home and told him what I had seen and he came back with me to look at them, and agreed, that they would really look beautiful in our home.

Many of our ornaments have come and gone..but this special pair of "Carolers" always have priority on our fireplace mantel...This is always a reminder of the good old days.

What are some of the new traditions we can continue to build that bring back family memories and celebrations. It's fun to hear from all of you what you treasure and value the most.

Off to celebrate Christmas Coffee with Judy and Josh Groban's, "Noel"

Marg

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Walk Across the Room


This fall our church has been reading a book by Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Church in Florida. We have really been challenged once again to take a look at those around us and encouraged to take a reality check. Who is it out there that really needs you? It is so easy to become so complacent in a world of affluence, but as I have traveled through the malls in my quest for finding the right Christmas decorations, I've been just looking at people's eyes and pondering to see if there is a flicker of light or hope.

What effort does it take to drop some paper bills in to the Salvations Army's kettles?

What effort does it take to pay the grocery bill for someone struggling financially in front of a line-up in your favorite grocer?

What effort does it take to be kind to the uptight clerk at the till because her computer is frozen?

What about in the Doctor's office or the Dentist office? What does it take to walk 10 steps across a room and this could point someone toward faith, it might just change the way you walk.

It's Christmas time and just a few steps could make an eternal difference for some one. I always struggled being caught up with everything else, but I am asking God to give me a spirit that can take a genuine interest in another human being.

It's so hard to step out of my Comfort Zone, but on Sunday I walked across the church floor and met a young lady and she asked for prayer. She was searching for a home church, for relationship and for work. What does that ask of me? YIKES! This seems overwhelming. What would you do?

Marg
Sorry readers, I had a few network glitches.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

First Advent


~~~~~~~~~
It's that first Sunday in December, that tradition brings us together and we sit down in front of a few traditional cookies and reminisce what the season is all about. It's fun to see who gets to light that first candle? No matter what age..There's always that excitement about setting up all those wonderful decorations, or deciding that it's time to get rid of them.
It's more fun to take the girls and check out how Decor West could help us update and replace some of those old relics that should stay in the attic.


December brings all the outward preparations, all that we have to do to prepare for Christmas. Advent is an invitation to an inward preparation, calling us to listen, to attend to the preparation of the heart. Advent calls us to stop-however briefly-all of the frenetic doing and invites us to come and experience the coming of the light of Christ into the world.

Allow your heart to wander on a reflective journey through the season of Advent even as you attend to the demands of December.
"The Journey begins with Advent, " wrote author Jan Richardson. "Advent is a dance set to the rhythm of waiting." The season of Advent invites us to come to a manger and experience anew the wonder, the beauty, and the glory of Christmas.

It makes me wonder, how will I reach out and make a difference to someone so that they can also experience this same journey?

Marg