Christmas Quote Fun #4

the santa clauseLast week’s Christmas movie quote is from The Santa Clause! Great work to all of those who guessed it correctly. I’ve always enjoyed the Santa Clause movies. I can’t even say for sure which one is my favorite. How about you? Do you have a favorite from the Santa Clause series?

And CONGRATULATIONS to our Christmas Quote Fun winner: Lensey!! Email me your information at bythebook724@gmail.com to claim your family Christmas movie.

A Foreign Way to Worship

martialFrom the time my middle son was five until he turned twelve, my three sons and I were involved in martial arts .Their dad joined in later, and he is the only one still practicing. But for those early years, it was me and the boys participating in classes and tournaments. We traveled to Indiana, central Illinois, and even Tennessee for tournaments. I loved watching the boys compete.
My oldest is built differently than his brothers. He wasn’t the one whose forms showed long, lean lines. He was built for power, and his favorite area of study highlighted that. More than the Tae Kwon Do forms, he enjoyed weapons. More specifically, he enjoyed the Korean sword art known as Gumdo.
My middle son was built for forms and loved breaking. One of my favorite pictures that ended up in the paper is of him doing a flying kick towards a board. He enjoyed breaking and sparring. And he was good at them.
Their youngest brother was only a little guy when he started competition. His first one was when he was about three or four. He just wanted to have fun. He knew his forms. He sparred as only a kid who isn’t aggressive can, standing there letting his competitor score all the points and being happy about it. But he could draw a room’s attention with his musical forms. He would take his mini bo staff and start as soon as the music played. It wasn’t that he was so proficient. Really, he made it all up as he went along. But he was so tiny and cute, the adults in the room would stop to watch him perform. He just wanted to do what his brothers were doing.
My boys are completely different, and their martial arts interests and styles highlighted those differences. But the great thing was that they could enjoy the competitions together. They could cheer each other on and help each other out. They didn’t have to excel in the same events. They were unique in their talents, and the competitions had a place for each of them.
I was reminded of this while reading The Christmas Bride: A Legacy of Love Novel by Melanie Dobson. In this historical fiction the main characters were part of Moravian religious group that moved to Pennsylvania in the 1700s to evangelize the Native Americans in the area. I understood their desire to remain neutral in the skirmishes between European settlers and the native people. I could relate to their passion to share the gospel with those who’d never had a chance to hear it. But from the first page, I was drawn into a story that showed a way of living completely foreign to me.
Christian and Susanna didn’t meet until their wedding day. In fact, Christian wanted to marry someone else, but the elders deferred decisions like that to the lot believing God would guide the choosing of the slip of paper that would read yes, no, or wait. Christian’s first choice received a no, but he felt led to missions work in the colonies and a wife was needed for that. Elders led him to Susanna, and the lot agreed.
But the lot wasn’t the most intriguing difference in how the people lived and served God. At a time when Susanna and Christian are strangers to each other trying to figure out how to love each other, they’re kept apart by the rules of their religious group. In effort to keep its members focused on their calls to serve God, men and women lived separately. Strictly enforced tasks kept Susanna and Christian from each other through the day, and their nights were spent in separate homes called choirs. Even children were separated from their parents to be raised by women in the group gifted for the task.
Add to these marital roadblocks to intimacy the harshness of the mostly unsettled land, the tensions between English and French settlers, and the tensions between all European settlers and the native people, and it’s easy to see why Susanna and Christian struggle to make their marriage something they can take joy in. All of this doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that the woman Christian desired to marry and still desires is his wife’s best friend who has also accompanied the group to Pennsylvania.
While I couldn’t relate to the way the people lived, I could relate to the struggle to do what God would have them do. I could empathize with Susanna when doubts and fears plagued her. I could call to mind my own frustrations as I considered Christian’s overwhelming passion to live out the calling he felt God had for his life only to be held back by forces beyond his control.
My life may be very different from the lives of Susanna and Christian, but their story was intriguing because of these differences. But just because our circumstances and choices in how to live are very different, it doesn’t mean their story was without meaning for me. As I read of their journey, I found myself and my struggles in theirs.
What Christian and Susanna or my own sons have shown me is that there is a place for differences in our faith. As long as we are sinners saved by grace through the sacrifice of God’s Son made man, Jesus, on the cross our differences don’t have to keep us apart. You may take communion every week while I may take it each quarter. You may have a rigid, methodical style of worship and mine may be more flexible. Your preacher may dress in a full suit while mine wears jeans and a polo shirt. It doesn’t matter. We’re all part of the body of Christ. We can come together to pray for, encourage, and challenge one another to deeper faith.
While false teachings and perversions of the gospel message should hinder our worship together, we need to start looking past the superficial differences in how we choose to worship. We need to start working together and caring for each other as a unified body. There’s room in God’s family for you whether you raise your hands in worship or sing reservedly, participate in responsive readings or simply listen, take communion weekly or quarterly, have small groups or Sunday School, sit on pews or in chairs, dress us or dress casual, or if your preacher remains calm or shouts and walks the aisle. We need to start loving and serving others together as a way to bring the light of God’s love into the darkness of this world.

By the Book: Do you frown on others’ worship styles because you don’t “get it” or are you open to working together for the sake of the gospel?

Traditions and Recipes #7

Sometimes you have to take a little bit of what’s worked in the past and blend it together with something new to get the results you’re looking for. And while I think the message is true in our daily lives, I think it takes on unique importance during the Christmas season. There are times when the old traditions we’ve enjoyed with our families and friends simply don’t produce the desired results anymore. But there are still parts of these familiar traditions we can salvage. And when we marry those to new traditions, we can find ourselves with new traditions to treasure for years to come.

It’s a lesson I was reminded of this week through my love of Christmas baking. I was given a bag of Hot Cocoa Flavored Hershey’s Kisses for my birthday. Milk chocolate filled with marshmallow cream is always a good thing, right? But I wanted to do something with them other than eat them by themselves. Why not make a Hot Cocoa Cookie? I make a cherry cookie every year that’s topped with a Hershey Kiss. Everyone enjoys them. And I’ve made Chocolate Snowball Cookies rolled in powdered sugar before baking. Those are fun and festive. I just needed a chocolate cookie dough for the base. Thumbprint cookies would offer the right consistency. I scoured my cookbooks for a chocolate thumbprint cookie that looked good. Finally, I found one in the Taste of Home Christmas Cookies and Candies book from 2008. They were called Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints.

I wouldn’t need the nuts to coat the cookie with or the caramel sauce for the topping. Although, I have to admit both of those sound amazing, and I may have to try them at some point. But for this recipe, I needed the base. I blended the new recipe base with the familiar elements of a couple of my traditional recipes and the results were exactly what I wanted. The finished cookies were reminiscent of a cup of homemade hot cocoa, and they were a big hit. I hope you enjoy them.

Happy Baking!

hot cocoa cookieshot cocoa

Christmas Quote Fun #3

santaLast week’s movie quote was from Santa Claus is coming to town. No, the story is gives for Santa Claus is not the story of the real Saint Nicholas, but it has some surprising times when Christmas’ true meaning shines through.

Here is the quote for this week. Remember to leave your answers in the comments. One randomly drawn name will be the winner of a family Christmas movie. Every time you answer one of the quotes correctly, you get your name entered in the drawing. You must live in the United States to win. The answer to this week’s quote and the winner of the movie will be announced next Wednesday.

Happy Christmas movie watching!

“Name.

Kris Kringle.

Name.

Sinter Klaas.

Name.

Pere Noel. Babbo Natale. Pelznickel. Topo Gigio.”

Traditions and Recipes #6

Sometimes you look at a recipe in a book or online and know it’s one you want to try. Other times you get the chance to try something at a get together and have to have the recipe to add to your collection. But there are times when a great recipe finds you out of necessity. Today’s recipe is like that.

My co-workers have always gotten to benefit from my love of baking. I can’t have all those cookies and sweets in my house. So, I bake them and take them to work with me. Then, people started requesting special orders and my baking hobby became a hobby business.

While hosting a shower for her sister, my co-worker Autumn made one such request. Snickerdoodles are a favorite of hers, and she wanted them made to look like sand dollars. I agreed, but I didn’t make Snickerdoodles. I didn’t have a tried and true recipe to use even though Snickerdoodles have always been a popular Christmas cookie.

With no recipe and a deadline looming, I hit the internet. I scoured site after site reading reviews to determine my best option. That’s when I found this recipe. It really is the best. Try it. I think you’ll agree. snickerdoodles

Christmas Quote Fun #2

Charlie Brown ChristmasLast week’s quote came from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Thank you to those who took time to answer! Remember for each right answer you get between now and December 19, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a fun family Christmas movie! The rules are simple. You must live in the United States, and please, no cheating by searching the internet. I’m trusting you on that one!

Here’s today’s quote:

“It wasn’t a hard decision to make. They chose, of course, the holiest night of the year, the night of profound love, which was the perfect night for giving. Christmas Eve? Christmas Eve.”

Remember to post your answers in the comments! Happy Christmas movie watching! And come back next week to find out which movie this quote is from!

Holiday Help Wanted!

christmasThe only thing better than getting cozy and watching the newest Hallmark Christmas movie is getting cozy and reading a great Christian Fiction Christmas book. I’d like to use my review days this month to highlight some great holiday reads.

Here’s where my “Holiday Help Wanted” comes in. Maybe you’re an author with a book that fits this description. Or maybe you’re just a person who loves to read as much as I do, and you’ve read the best CF Christmas book on the market. It doesn’t matter how you found this book. I want to know about it. It doesn’t mean I’ll be able to read them all before Christmas, but it will give me a place to start. So, think about your Christmas favorites and let me know the title and author in the comments. Thank you for your help!

Traditions and Recipes #5

There are hundreds of great Christmas traditions to choose from. Just the act of gift giving consists of more traditions than a single family could incorporate into their Christmas celebration. Some people let their children make huge lists and attempt to give them everything on it. Others choose the three gift method. One gift they need, one gift they want, and one gift to read or wear. Some open one gift on Christmas Eve, and some families open all their gifts that night. There is also the tradition of secret siblings enjoyed by many families.

Each of these traditions is wonderful. They bring their own special twist to the Christmas season. But the tradition that works for my family may not fit your family. That’s okay. We have to incorporate the things that work without allowing ourselves to feel guilty for leaving the ones that don’t to other families. Our celebrations don’t have to be just like everyone else’s.

It’s with this in mind that I chose today’s recipe. It’s a traditional gingerbread cookie recipe. I used to make it every year, but I found my family didn’t enjoy them. The ones I left for my own family would go stale before they could be eaten. It’s a great recipe, and they always turned out like they were supposed to. My family just didn’t like gingerbread. Maybe yours does.gingerbread

Christmas Quote Fun

Surprise! There is no writing quote today. In fact, I’m going to take the next three weeks before Christmas to mix it up a little bit. I love reading. My blog is dedicated to reading, writing, and faith. But I also love movies. I love comic book movies, movies adapted from books, and chick flicks/rom-coms. But this time of year, I love to watch Christmas movies. I’m addicted to Hallmark channel movies (much to my husband’s dismay). But I also enjoy more traditional Christmas movies.

So, for the next few weeks, we’re going to play a game. I’ll share a quote from a Christmas movie, and you get to guess what movie it’s from. Every right answer will get your name put into a drawing. On the nineteenth, I’ll announce the winner.

On a personal note, I had a sad moment this week. Frosty the Snowman came on. Every year when my kids were growing up we’d get fruit, popcorn, cheese cubes, and summer sausage together and make a picnic in front of the television to watch Frosty and Rudolph. They’re some of my best holiday memories.

This year only two of my kids are still at home. One was working that night. I asked the youngest who is mid-way through the teen years if he wanted to watch it with me. He said he was busy. I watched it alone.

It’s become apparent my years of sharing those simple joys with my kids has passed. Don’t forget to enjoy yours if you still have them.

Movie Quote of the Week: “It’s too early. I never eat December snowflakes. I always wait until January.”

Know the movie? Put your answer in the comments. I’ll post a picture of the movie along with a new quote next week.