Monday, December 26, 2011

Handmade Christmas Decorations

It's been a secretly harboured desire of mine for many years now. One of those 'one-day' wishes. Something which I would love but really never though it would be possible in this season of my life.

It all began several years ago, about this time of year, when I was flicking through a magazine. The image which met my eyes has been burned on the screen my mind ever since. Oh, how I wanted that picture to have been taken in my lounge room, not just a far off dream in a magazine. But every year since, no such picture has been forthcoming - primarily because the subject matter has not been available.

There are a few things in life which make my heart skip a beat, one of these is handmade lace. I began making handmade, bobbin lace while living in England several years back and my lace making supplies have seen daylight only occasionally since. Bobbin lace and young children is a hazardous mix, in my opinion. A mix which I haven't been brave enough to hazard very often. But the love of the craft remains and one hour spent twirling those bobbins so easily grows to five.

The image, which so captivated me those years back, was nothing less than a Christmas tree decorated with golden, handmade, lace ornaments. Oh, the beauty and joy. Just imagine having that tree in my home (well it's the decorations I am envious of, not the tree). What a delighful mix of an ancient, and almost forgotton, craft and a modern home, decorated beautifully. Every year since then, I have known that this dream would yet again be just that, a dream.

This year though, that dream is (almost) a reality. It was November last year, when when I made a purchase which unexpectedly included a monthly, machine embroidery design delivered to my inbox. Imagine my delight when I discovered that each and every month, all year, I have been receiving a machine embroidery design for . . . . wait for it. . . . nothing less than. . . . machine-stitched, golden, lace ornaments. I have been oogling these designs all year and dreaming of them being mine but until now hadn't actually done anything about making them real. I have put this to rights now and my table is decorated with . . . .well just have a look. . . .isn't it just beautiful!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Birthday Party.

"Is this the party food for Jesus?"

It stopped me in my tracks, these seven words spoken across the bench laden with spice cookies and icing. How do I answer such a thought provoking utterence?

"It's His birthday isn't it. Why don't we make him a cake?"

A small child seemily able to see more clearly through the tinsel and baubles than I am able to.
Well.... ummm.... exactly...... why not?

"There are lot's of Christmas songs, but none say 'Happy Birthday' to Jesus."

It's knickname is the 'silly-season'. The expectation thrown at us, from the marketing gurus at least, seems to encourage us to eat far too much sweet junk, feel over full, spend way too much money on unneccesary stuff and spend all year paying off the credit cards. Why?

It seems that the guest of honour can be lost in the pile of wrapping paper. It is HIS birthday after all.

The cookies continued to gain their colourful iced topping as Away in a Manger played in the background. It really is a birthday we are celebrating. A birth day which seems so remote from our current culture. A birth of a 'normal' baby boy. The reality of a birth which sometimes gets clouded by the images of sheep, cows and wise men.  A baby who grew into a small child, he probably played with the children of the village just like any other child. Probably came running to his Mummy for comfort after a fall resulted in a skinned knee. He was sent to earth as a 'man'. A baby born so long ago. A child who played and grew and learned. A young man finding his place in the family and world around him. A man whose life continues to profoundly touch our hearts a couple thousand years later.

Is this who Christmas is all about in my heart and family this year? Are all my plans and preperations and cooking and gift buying and meals and celebrations for the purpose of celebrating the life of Jesus?

Enjoy a blessed Christmas today, as we celebrate this Birthday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spiced Christmas Cookies

It's not cold here, but even in the sweltering humidity there is a certain comfort which comes from cinnamon and spice. The smell pervades every corner of the house as they are mixed, rolled and baked. It's a family affair this. Children helping with every stage and mess which seems to spread further than the hands can reach. Christmas music playing in the background with giggles and conversations to punctuate the quiet, concentrated effort.

It's a much anticipated Christmas tradition - making Spiced Christmas Cookies. This year a little later than others but the enjoyment was still evident. Other years they have been single biscuits in shapes of trees and stars but this year our creativity was taken to a whole new level with multi-sized flower cookie cutters. Our cookies just screamed to be made into little trees, decorated with white, chocolate fudge and bright coloured icing.

An hour spent together. Fingers which were too little to help last year, now very capably working at their task.

The end result was some gifts for special people. A few fingers licked here and there (I'm just guessing this as no one will admit it of course!). A happy Mummy, some happy Kiddos and a memory made together.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingerbread House Making

There were 10 of us around the table that night. Another table was added as we spread further and more elbow room was needed. Conversations were regularly punctuated with rumbustious laughter. The atmosphere was one of love, fun and delightful friendship. How blessed I felt to open my home to such a group of women. Women who arrived in various states of health and fragility of mind and emotions. Women who arrived and were instantly swallowed by the loving concern and fun laughter which was ever present all evening.
Children in bedrooms down the hall were trying ever so hard to be 'good' and sleep but every so often a little head would be spotted peeking round the corner. After all, these Mummies were making a lot of noise and curiosity just got the better of them at times.

As the evening progressed every tiny particle of bench or table was covered with our supplies (oh and the obligatory tea/coffee/desert/chocolate/fruit treats). The floor became less and less recognizable and even the chairs were showing telltale signs of our endeavors. In fact still today, 5 days later, I'm finding remnants of it hidden in small corners, on the bottom of chairs and in my kitchen drawers.

Oh, but what a fun evening it was. 10 of the most gorgeous women in the world (in my biased opinion anyway), more laughs than I have experienced in quite a long while and colour aplenty. It was a first for many of us but all have firmly decided it will not be the last. Some worked away with quiet concentration, while others just had to laugh - or else they would cry! Others were called over to lend a helping hand and our most experienced one was busily monitoring the activities of all.

The outcome was some beautiful friendships cemented yet further, some stresses floated away and a healthly tiredness for all. The unveiling at the end showed what we all suspected: our creations were nothing short of masterpieces - each made with laughter and love.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Colour

The challenge is to write for 5 minutes. Non-stop. Just write. Don't worry about it. Just write.Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

The topic today is: Colour

Ready. . . . Set . . . Go


The sun shimmers as it hits the choppy waves. The water is inviting, refreshing, and just plain beautiful. It's the summer season here, but winter somewhere else. Ours is reflected in the bright blue sky, the lush green grass, the bright pink rose, the vibrant yellow sun and the oozy brown mud. Theirs is reflected in white, the blanket which covers everything in its wake - snow. White is foreign to us. Ever. We never see the blank canvas which is winter white.

Life moves in seasons too. Sunny summers - bright and fresh and hot. Icy winters - cold and hard and lonely. Brilliant Autumns - bold and brazen and beautiful. Subtle springs - hopeful and new and exciting.

Some see winter white every year. Some for many months of the year. But for us it is a picture book fantasy only. It is a delicate beauty which is never brought into our lives here. A dream for many to experience at this time of year but also a stumbling block to noticing the colours surrounding us here. I look out my window and see the emerald green leaves, growing prolifically. The bold yellow, orange and bronze sunset stills me in amazement. The flowers are in every colour of the rainbow. But do I notice or do I wish for that which is far off? Do I notice the beauty around me today? It's beautiful here today - not in black and white but in full colour!


I'm joining the 5 Minute Friday fun today at Gypsy Mama.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Calming the Conflict Within

It’s the time of year for intense, but delightful, sensory overload, Christmas. It reaches us through musical notes floating through the air, smells of baking wafting through an open kitchen window offering a welcome to those still outside and all around us we find our eyes resting upon sparkling lights, glowing candles and shining decorations. Those decorations are a symbol of the time of year. They indicate that it’s time to browse the shops with the intent of buying presents and the time has come, once again, to partake in the parties and breakups which fill our calendars. Those decorations are such a strong reminder that the weeks are creeping ever closer to the new year waiting on the horizon.

I flick open a catalogue and see ‘the’ Christmas tree and decorations I MUST have. In the fresh, new colours of the season it appears to be the image of perfection. I go into a store and see ‘the’ perfect table decorations that I NEED to match my d├ęcor. I go to my friends place and notice she has made some gorgeous decorations with her children, so VERY beautiful. Everywhere I look around me finds my mind filled with awe and wonderment. It is as though all this perfection and beauty I feel surrounded by, is feeding my desire for order, beauty, traditions, memories and love. I feel the need to have it all perfect, be the perfect hostess and give the best gifts. But at the same time, I find myself retreating away from all this perfection.

Read more here

I'm sharing in the 8 Days to a Christ-Centered Christmas series over at The Feminine Intellect today.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I am Enough

The glass splinters into a thousand pieces as it reaches the floor. The floor which was uncharacteristically sparkling clean just moments before. The response which flowed from my mouth was anything but gracious. An accident at the hands of a small child, a moment which should have been met with understanding, a string of words which were not neccessary.

I am enough.

The washing machine leaves a pool of water all over the laundry. A laundry which is overflowing with washing. My heart sinks as I view the mess all around.

I am enough.
A small child leans on the sewing machine and ruins the project half made. A gift for a friend, just waiting for that spare moment to be finished. I stare in disbelief and disappointment. All my spare moments today had been given to that project, now it stands for nothing.

I am enough.

The day has been full of ups and downs. Moments I like to hold close to my heart and moments I'd rather forget. The theme has been the same, whether cuddly babies or spills and messes.

I am enough.

A smile meets my eye - a beautiful, loving, innocent smile. The words which accompany melt my heart. "Mummy, can I please help you. I want to cook just like you." A few shared moments, a meal prepared and a smile on our faces.

I am enough.

Can I ever be? The messes keep accumulating. The washing keeps breeding. The jobs still need doing. The meals still need preparing.

I am enough. I am all I need to be. What I do isn't as important as who I am. The moments shared with a giggle. The books read while snuggled on the coach. The heart moments shared. The cuddles given. The encouraging words spoken. This is what will live on and be remembered. This is what will make a difference to those around me. I know:

I am enough.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Remember. . .

The days come and go. Routines, rituals and chores are mixed with once-yearly activities. The mix of the commonplace, normal and everyday combined with the delightful yearly traditions form days and weeks which are full and overflowing. The days float by and become a memory almost as soon as they begin. The weeks creep ever faster towards the new year which is lurking on the horizon. The months are almost all ticked off the calender for this year, just one last month to enjoy and make part of the memories which become our lives. The whirlwind of breakups, Christmas parties and end of year activities is right there just waiting to swallow me up. It seems that just one step will have me falling right into the centre, into an abyss over which I have no control. Just one moment, in which I let down my guard and I will be gone, lost and fighting to come up for air.

My mind is whirling, trying desperately to hold onto each day's activities.  Trying to keep everything orderly and organized and civilized. Oh, how I wish I could stop. Totally stop, just for a moment or two or maybe three. Give up trying and for one day float as a feather in the wind. Allowing the days to come and go, flowing here and there and enjoying the stillness within.

I sit here wondering why I feel so tight and overwhelmed and I remember. I remember that I really don't have to be everything. I don't have to do absolutely everything.

The candles are flickering, it's a simple way to light the room, reminiscent of times of long ago. A simpler time. A time when taking the time to sit, reflect and remember was a part of the daily routine.

It's a reminder of the baby who was born in a simple way all those years ago. This baby, who would change the course of history, came to earth without any fanfare.

He came and brought the peace and stillness within my spirit. It is a reminder to stop all the hussle and busstle and be still and remember.

Remember the days. . . . the time. . . . the reason. . . .

Stop and give the time to being me.
Stop and give the time to living with joy.
Stop and give the time to seeing through grateful eyes.
Stop and give the time to loving the people in my life.
Stop and give the time to remember. . . .