Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Christmas is Coming (and there’s nothing we can do about it.)

How’s your December going? Everything on schedule? All decorated and wrapped, just waiting for the big guy to make his appearance?

Is anybody out there waving your hand, yelling, “Me! Me! Me!”? If so, come on over to my house.

I need help.

(Big surprise.) (Not.) 😀

One thing I am staying on top of is my daily reading, “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. I have to fight myself to keep from reading ahead.

If I ever met this woman, I’ll have to give her a big hug.

I do have one tree up and decorated. It’s the wild tree with ornaments from friends and from my kiddos when they were small and ones I’ve made and they’ve made. It’s my favorite tree.

My other tree is also my favorite tree. It has Grandmother’s ornaments on it. And some antique ornaments I’ve collected. I can’t share it with you today because it’s not up yet.

I will share some of my ornaments from my Everything Tree. They aren’t my favorites, because I don’t have favorites. Trying to chose the one I like best would be like trying to choose the friend I liked best. Or my favorite Bible verse. I just can’t do it.

But I can share some with you.

treeThis one was made by a friend.

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A can lid, turned into a beautiful tree by one of my kiddos. (Trash to Treasure. A miracle of Christmas.)

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Another treasure, made by one of my kiddos.

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Dirty Santa ornament exchange with my writing sisters. I love, love, love these.

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Three of my best gifts ever–Danny, Matt and Brad.

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A friend was taking a stained glass class the year I got this one. It’s too heavy for a “real” tree, so I had to start buying fake ones just so it could be on it. 😀

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From my secret sister once, years and years ago. That friend was a sweetheart and I miss her terribly.

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I bought this bunch of unbreakable ornaments the year Danny was 11 months old on Christmas. The still give me a smile.

I have OSU ornaments from when my boys were in college, a dog and cat ornament because we’re pet people, and lots of stars. I love stars. They’re a great reminder. Read Philippians 2:15 and see if you can guess just one of the reasons why. Of course, you’ll need to read it in the New International Version to see what I’m talking about. 😉

My absolute favorite thing at Christmas? The best gift. The best feeling. The best anything?

There's only one gift better than this.

There’s only one gift better than this.

nativity

The gift of salvation.

Any hints for getting everything done, finished, baked, wrapped and gorgeous before Dec. 24th? I need all the help I can get!

 

 

 


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True Christmas

The Christmas Season is on us. Are you ready? I’m not. Rarely am before Christmas Eve. And then, I’m usually afraid I’ve forgotten, missed, messed up or lost something important.

Because I want Christmas to be perfect like mine was when I was a kid.

Hopefully, though, this year is going to be different.

Yup. I say that every year. I know I do, but this year I mean it. (I hope!)

Since one definition of crazy is doing things exactly the same way and expecting a different outcome, I had to change something. So this year, I’ve added to what I’m doing this Christmas Season.

While some people might think doing anything extra during this hurried, harried time of year is just nuts, I’ve added in a new Bible study that’s not just something to get through. It’s a time to slow down and remember what the Christmas Season is truly about.

It’s called, The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. I bought it last year, and ended up saving it until this Christmas because I didn’t have time to catch up. Sigh.

Ann starts at the beginning of the Bible and leads us to Jesus. She teaches us about the Jesse Tree, which I’ve never heard of before. And about Advent, which I’ve heard of but never observed.

The funny thing about the study is that I can’t just zoom through it. If I’m in running mode, I can’t hear what she has to say. I have to slow down and breathe to read her words. (If I want them to make sense.)

Today, she talked about Jacob when he had the dream about the angels going up and down the ladder to Heaven, and the Lord was at the top. (Genesis 28: 10-16) Remember?

In her words for today she writes,

If, just for a moment, you stand in the doorway, linger a bit in front of the tree

(My tree isn’t up yet.–ss)

it’s strange how you can see it–how every Christmas tree is a ladder, and Jesus is your ladder who hung on that tree . . . so you have the gift of rest. When you are wrung out, that’s a sign you’ve been reaching for the rungs. The work at the very heart of salvation is the work at the very heart of Christmas: simply rest.

Here is holy.

The wonder of all this–God looks at you at your lowest and loves you all the way to the sky.

God carries you all the way home.

Like Heaven opening up slow everywhere.

Wow. Just, wow!

Imagine, someone telling us to relax through Christmas. No worries. No stress.

And she has a sticky note for each day. You can see them here.

I wish I’d read this study a long time ago, when my children were small or even when my mother was young and running herself ragged to have a perfect Christmas for all of her kids.

But maybe she didn’t need it. Mom worked hard to get Christmas right (even sewing dresses for all her girls most years) but she had a calm, inner peace that I sometimes forget and don’t think I inherited.

Some of us just need a hand from others like Ann Voskamp to have the real joy of Christmas.

I’m not asking you to buy her book. I’m just asking you to slow down and celebrate True Christmas.