Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

I want to wish all of you out there, a very blessed and merry Christmas. I'm so fortunate to be a part of this blog group and share with my writing sisters and readers some of the things going on in my life.

I've written this post early because our granddaughter Rainy is once again seriously ill and in the hospital. We may well be heading to Kansas City for Christmas in Children's Mercy Hospital. At this point, I thought it might be best to get my blog done early.

Children are such a precious part of Christmas. Our neighbor's across the street are so cool. The father works in construction so during some down time he put in an ice skating rink in their yard. I thought it was so neat that this father of 3 little girls and a baby boy on the way, would take his time to build his kids an ice rink. Here's a shot of one of the kids out there skating. How cool is that.

Another neat part of our Christmas is the snow and mountains. I'm so blessed to live here in Montana. I do enjoy the winters - mainly because I can stay inside and write and watch it snow. :) Here's a shot from my front yard.

Last but not least - we have enjoyed a beautiful scotch pine Christmas tree and holiday village display. I actually let my 20 year old son set up the village and each day he seems to add something new. You'll note in the picture on the left - Batman is visiting the village. In the picture on the right - the church is being attacked by a dragon and a black panther. It's always exciting at our house.

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday with those you love spending time near to you. God Bless You!

Friday, December 18, 2009

In Case You Missed It

In case you missed it, December 13th was St. Lucia's Day. Since my husband's family is of Swedish ancestry, I made it my business to better understand their traditions. Over the years I've learned that Swedes are among the most stubborn (my husband says it's tenacity - not a matter of being stubborn), hospitable (always have a pot of coffee on the stove and are ready for conversation), and have never met a stranger (my father-in-law could have gone to outer Mongolia and made friends).

If you've never been able to attend a Swedish St. Lucia Day festival, I highly recommend you find one next year. In Stockholm and many other places in the world - including the wonderful little town of Lindsborg, KS, St. Lucia Day celebrations are traditional Christmas season festivities.

St. Lucia was actual Italian. She lived about 283 AD and converted to Christianity during a time of pagan worship. When she refused to marry the man her deceased father had arranged for her, the groom-to-be turned her into the authorities as a Christian. She was put to death, and for years nothing much was said about her.

Legend tells that Dec. 13th-St. Lucia's Day was eventually celebrated by Christians as a counter to the pagan celebration of the winter solstice. The tradition was said to be made official, however, when during a terrible famine in Sweden a mysterious white ship appeared on December 13th just when the people were ready to give up. There was a beautiful young woman on the bow, dressed in white with a wreath of lighted candles on her head. When the people approached the ship, they found it filled with much needed food and supplies. Of course the young woman was no where to be found, but the people were certain this had been St. Lucia bringing them a gift of food.

(This painting is by Carl Larsson, one of my favorite artists.)

Today in celebration, the eldest daughter of the family dons a white robe, symbolizing purity, and wears a red sash to remember the blood shed. On her head she wears a wreath of candles ringed with lingonberry or holly. The Swedes associate Lucia with light, since her name comes from the Latin word lux, meaning light.

She will bring the elders of the family brewed coffee and warm saffron St. Lucia coffeecake or buns in bed, all the while she will sing Santa Lucia. The focus is on "bringing the light" during the darkness of winter night, and in parts of Sweden the darkness is quite lengthy during the winter. In some places the sun doesn't even shine for a time.

I think about Jesus bringing us the light. We were in darkness--hungry and filled with despair just as the Swedish people were during that famine long ago. Jesus came and offered us light and filled us with hope and nourishment. He didn't come to impose it upon us, however, it was a gift--freely given. I hope this Christmas season, you are celebrating the light of Christ--the hope that is within--the joy of our Saviour's birth.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Things My Grandma Used to Say

Being a person of history, I'm always asking questions about my family. Who was who, what did they say, how did they live, what did they like?

My mother's mother was a nifty woman named Georgia Irene Butler Williams. I love the above photo of her. She hated her name - especially the middle one - but she was a real corker. My best memories of Grandma Williams was her gardening and canning. She was an extremely productive woman. During World War II she had 5 children (there were 6, but one had died in 1936 from meningitis). She had to find ways to keep her family fed in Kansas during the time of rationing. She set goals to can 100 quarts of everything possible - and that's exactly what she did.

The gardening my grandparents did was huge. I know for sure it engulfed a good portion of the backyard, but it also took in the entire portion of land that now houses the neighbor. Every square inch of idle land was planted for as long as my Grandmother was able to get out and plant. Some was in vegetables, some in berry plants, and lots in flowers. I remember when some of the land was sold. It seemed a very sad moment to me. But I digress.

What I wanted to share was my Grandmother's colloquialisms. Grandma used to talk to me while we gardened. Gardening was a family affair that I didn't appreciate at the age of six, but learned to later be very grateful for. Grandma used to put a stake at either end of the patch we were working, then tie a string from one stake to the other. This gave her very straight garden rows. She would then drag the hoe under the line or have me do it and then we'd plant. She'd tell me, "Christians sometimes have a hard row to hoe, but if they keep their eyes on the mark--they will always go straight." I would work awfully hard to keep my eye on that string as I pulled the hoe to make the planting row. It was a matter of pride on one hand, but I definitely wanted to please my grandmother.

My grandmother had a lot of other colloquialisms and it makes me smile to think about them now. She would often tell my mother, "Sleep on it, and it will look better in the morning." "The darkest hour is just before the dawn."

One of my favorites was, "If it's dirty--it's doubtful." Meaning if it's questionable - don't do it.

She talked about being as "poor as church mice" and that "the bigger the battle, the bigger the victory." She was a dedicated Christian woman and pressed through most any problem to conclusion--as did many from The Great Depression era--with her focus on the Lord. I'm grateful for that influence, and I still giggle when I remember her exclaiming, "Oh my stars and garters!"

At Christmas time I really miss her. She was a special woman who blessed me and today I honor her memory. Here's a photo of her with my aunts and uncles. My mom is in the front on the left.

I can hardly wait to see her again in heaven. She'll greet me as she used to with our little funny French greeting. Bonjour! Comment allez-vous? and I was then to say Très bien, merci. Et vous? and she would laugh and say, "Oh, très bien, merci." Such fun memories.


Friday, December 4, 2009


Today is the big day. My husband and son are both having surgery. My husband is getting his right rotator cuff repaired (later he'll have to have the left one fixed) and my son is having his right thumb tendon reconnected.

Yes, you heard right. My son was going to need knee surgery, but that's on hold. Erik loves swords and has collected them since he was young. Unfortunately life has overwhelmed him and he's going through depression and has been drinking. He was cleaning one of his swords on Tuesday night and slipped. I happened to be out with ladies from our church when it happened so Dad got all the fun of going to the emergency room. Now today they will have father-son surgery by the same surgeon. He said it was a first for him. It's a first for me.

I was feeling rather overwhelmed with it all when a friend shared a paper of Scriptures and thoughts she had written down out of the clear blue. Now neither she nor I believe in coincidence so I know God put this on her heart for me. The top of the page starts with:


My son and husband both have dealt with depression and anxiety on and off for most of their lives. Jim has managed to deal with a lot of it, but Erik not so much. It's a burden that weighs horribly on me, yet through getting counseling, I'm starting to see the situation for what it is, and to realize the battle belongs to the Lord.

This isn't an easy post to write, but I knew you would all understand when I asked for prayers for my family. I know God has a plan - even in this.

My friend wrote to me - "I was thinking of a song and scriptures that really helped me when I needed to sit back, stand still and allow the Lord to fight my battles for me." Then she references Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."

How precious that verse is to me. I can rest in Him and be still. He will take control. I don't need to worry. Such peace comes in that thought. I can face anything knowing that God is nigh--that He has already made provision and will not forsake me.

My friend ends her letter with quotes from the song The Battle Belongs to the Lord. I leave you with the same thoughts. Words and music by Jamie Owens-Collins.

"When your enemy presses in hard do not fear...The battle belongs to the Lord. Take courage my friend your redeption is near. The battle belongs to the Lord."

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