Happy Second Anniversary, John and Chelsy! It was a cold, snowy Iowa day when you vowed your lives to each other two years ago.
You welcomed Axton John into the world 13 months later, and he’s such a happy, Mr. Personality kind-of-baby (all you have to do is look at that smile and bright blue eyes). You embrace God’s blessing of children, and we’re all excited that Baby #2 will join your family in June. Congratulations! We love you.
“As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.” Psalm 127:4
A week ago Sunday, we embarked on our annual caroling event.
Mom was a whirlwind machine the day before making 48 loaves of Poppy Seed Bread (see recipe at end of the post). Mary and Anna created beautiful cards to go along with that.
So, everything was set, and the crowning touch came twirling in – snow. All day the beautiful white stuff came down, and it continued as we caroled.
What joy to sing the good news of Christmas and Christ’s amazing love for us. The little kids often stood in a cluster near the front, smiling. Since we come on a consistent schedule each year (2 Sundays before Christmas), people know to expect us and tell us that they look forward to it.
But yet, in the midst of this beautiful season, we were reminded again of painful loss. At two homes, our listeners had a huge gap in their hearts over the loss of a loved one this past year. For one it was his wife of many years and the other a son who tragically died in his 30s. Our days are fleeting, and may we make each moment count for Eternity. We’re not guaranteed another day.
Because of the inclement weather, most everyone could be found at home. After we caroled in our area, we split into a smaller group (some wanted to put kiddos to bed), and piled into John’s truck (yay for 4-wheel drive: roads were very slick) and went to some friends across town. Then, we came back, and our small group grew by three as we caroled to homes in another neighborhood. We wrapped up the evening with a delicious, hot, soup dinner at John and Chelsy’s.
This yearly tradition has become very special to us.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
Mix all ingredients for 1-2 minutes. Pour into 2 large lightly greased loaf pans (in our case, we bought foil pans from the store and divided each batch into three loaves). Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until toothpick comes out clean.
Glaze 1/4 cup orange juice 3/4 cup white sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring
Cool cake 5 minutes. Then, pour glaze over cake. After they’ve cooled, we cover in plastic wrap.
On a recent Saturday, Anna and I were out with thousands of other Christmas shoppers and stopped by Caribou coffee’s drive-through. We ordered, then waited in line behind a huge, lifted Ford truck. When it was our turn, the person at the window said the man in front of us paid for our coffee and said to tell us, “Merry Christmas.” What a delightful surprise.
We have been in line at Walmart purchasing OCC items and had someone ask about the purpose of such large quantities. Then we were handed money to help us with our purchase. Those people had the blessing of receiving our expression of gratitude. The person who bought our coffee didn’t even receive that in response to their kindness as we had no way to thank him.
As believers, may we have giving hearts, not just this time of year, but all year long. Those who have received Jesus as Savior, have received the greatest gift imaginable.
Merry Christmas, Mary
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
We’re excited to share with you the 12 Voices of Christmas dramatic audio presentation by Back to the Bible. They kindly gave us permission. It’s been a family tradition to listen to this for many years, taking a special night to go look at Christmas lights while playing the 12 Voices of Christmas.
There are 12 tracks, and we’ve put them in an easy playlist below.
Important: for those reading the blog in a RSS reader, you’ll need to go directly to the blog where you can listen to the audio there.
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.” (Isaiah 40:3-4)
Last month, it was on my heart to plan a trip to Denver to spend some time volunteering at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center. My friend and I consulted schedules, and the trip was on.
Walking into that processing center last Monday, made me so grateful to have the opportunity to volunteer there. Samaritan’s Purse boldly proclaims our Lord Jesus and salvation through Him. Twice during the day, they stopped for prayer.
For those who might not be familiar with how a center works, there are stations where about 5 people x 2 (so 10 total, but the same things happen on both sides) go through a box from start to finish. The first person, called the pre-inspector, checks for shipping money which might have been included. The next person, an inspector, sees if there are any inappropriate items, such as candy, toothpaste, razors, etc. If so, those are pulled, and if fillers are needed, they can add them to the box. Then, there’s a taper, who does simply that, securing the box together. If the box has a “track my box” label, someone scans it, and then packs it in the appropriate gender/age carton. Throughout the day, I enjoyed trying almost all the jobs.
It gave me so much joy to see the thoughtfulness in boxes. Homemade items, such as hats or scarves, little pill bottles with fishing line/hooks or jewelry, tools for the young men, clothes, etc. Sometimes people added personal touches with cards or letters (and pictures!).
Most of all, it’s a joy to think of the over 7 million children who will be blessed with gifts they wouldn’t have had, and ultimately, hear the Gospel.
I’d love to hear from our readers on who has volunteered this season and what you enjoyed the most.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17
The Maxwell family and ministry blog of Titus2.com.