Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Plans...Hopes and Dreams

Plans…Hopes and Dreams

Growing up in Europe with Advent has always been so special to me.  
I remember our readings took place when it was already dark outside and we would read by favorite!! 

They weren’t nights rushed with Christmas deadlines and demands by the outside world, but they were quiet moments carved into the evenings leading up to Christmas morning.  I would describe them as soft, tender memories likened to that of a quiet dusting of a midnight snow fall.

I think I especially loved it as it was such a visual of the anticipation of Jesus’s birth!!

Advent is defined as follows:  “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.  It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.
The term is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming”.

I don’t know about you, but every time Christmas rolled around, I looked forward to the Christmas commercials.  You know which ones I’m talking about.  The ones with perfect homes, perfectly dressed hostesses with aprons that matched their shoes, happy children before the feast…which we all know is not reality…at least in our home…and a perfectly fat, glazed butterball turkey on the large oval platter with no nasty prep dishes anywhere in sight!!

Somehow, I bought into it.  I found myself  t h e r e…striving for the perfect tree that everybody happily agreed on.  I wanted everybody to want the same thing I had envisioned.  I would cringe at the thought of colored lights. Handmade ornaments from the children would be “re.arranged” behind the ones of “real” beauty.  You know, the ones that were all the rage at the time.  No matter how hard I tried, I would find myself trapped in a scene that would give Chevy Chase a run for his money!!

There were pick.up trucks that broke down at the Christmas tree farm, a purchased tree that was the comfortable home to thousands of flying beetles, falling trees that somehow toppled down in the wee small hours of the morning…crushing the gifted ornament with my husband’s brother’s cremated ashes {who thinks of these gifts anyway??!!}and the infamous trip…traveling away from home and forgetting the diaper bag.  You get the picture. 
NIGHTMARE situations, in my book...far from what I was striving for.

All this to say, it’s easy to get discouraged and disheartened when things we plan end up being much less wonderful and much less full of delight than what we had hoped and dreamed for.

Reality is harsh at times, and the idea that things are insignificant when we selfishly pursue our own interests is TRUE, but it is entirely possible to gain true JOY in this life, with a deep purpose when we humbly submit our most cherished hopes and far.fetched dreams to Jesus!!

Advent hones us in.  
It re.focuses and brings into view that which is important.  
It offers incredible hope for tomorrow.

Mary anticipated her ADVENT.
She, too, was a momma…with a heart…just like us.  She looked forward to the arrival of her Son.
I have often wondered how she nested… 
How she planned. 
I wonder how she hoped… 
How she dreamt. 
And once she delivered God’s gift…
I wonder what she was thinking as she rocked the Savior of the world.
I wonder about the lullabies she softly sung into the same ears that would hear the aching, desperate prayers of all mankind.
I wonder how she would gently stroke and pat the tiny back that would one day carry the weight of the world.
I wonder if her heart beat full of fear for what was sure to come as it would beat against the same heart that would one day be broken for the lost and for the fragile in this broken world.

She H A D to know that her plans, her hopes and her dreams were shattered and would be forever altered the very minute the angel appeared to her…and I’m pretty sure this was not her plan and most likely a world away from how she had envisioned it, don’t you think?

As I was looking at ADVENT, I was re.reading Luke 1 and as soon as the angel announced to Mary that she would give birth, Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.” “May your words to me be fulfilled.”

Again, she H A D to know that while nothing was going according to her hopes and dreams…she would indeed be given the strength to rest in Christ…where she would find her greatest significance.  It would be in Him that she would find true fulfillment.
She was willing to lay down her “perfect” plans, hopes and dreams as she laid that little tiny baby in the manger.

So, as we face our own disappointments and maybe our less than stellar plans, hopes and dreams, I challenge you to find joy and meaning in the unplanned, in the uninvited, in the undesirable and in the unexpected as you anticipate celebrating life’s greatest gift…the birth of Jesus…

It’s described as a SILENT NIGHT.  Pure, messy, chaotic yet PERFECT!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Classic Boursin {the perfect little hosteess gift}

Happy December!!
One of my very favorite things to come up with every year is hostess gifts!!  They need to be simple, beautiful and budget.friendly.  This year's is one of my favorites to date.  The Classic Boursin cheese spread is an old favorite, but the packaging is a new obsession of mine.  The tin, the grey, the WHITE, and the wreath is just so lovely and Christmassy...minus the green and red.  BUT, if you need the green and red, a  velvet red bow and a sprig of greenery would be perfect!!

 Classic Boursin

Lisa Pearson

½ cup salted butter, room temperature
2  8oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature {full FAT}
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
Start by blending the butter and the cream cheese together until it is nice and creamy. 
Add the spices and mix well.
Serve at room temperature with a few different kinds of crackers.

Sprinkle a bit of dill weed on top for a festive presentation!!

{I like using fresh garlic in this recipe, but to make it super fast and easy I opted for the granulated garlic this time!!}

I placed the Boursin into two small paper soup containers, then packaged two different kinds of crackers into crisp cello bags.  The cheese spread will keep for quite a while in the fridge and the crackers will stay fresh for a long time, too!!