Christmas, Jesus

The Light of the World

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It was a clear, cold December night as Martin Luther was walking in the woods preparing a sermon. As the forest darkened Martin headed back home and noticed light through the fir trees. Stars illuminated the night sky. That beautiful starlight made Martin think of Jesus coming down from heaven to earth.

He was so moved by his experience in the woods that Martin brought a small fir tree home and placed candles on the branches. The lit tree in his house was a reminder of God’s light to the world. This was an unusual thing to do in 16th century Germany. Over time, others began to follow Martin’s example and decorate small fir trees with candles. 

The story of Martin Luther, the infamous protestant reformer, lighting a tree is well known. Though it may be just a story, it still inspires. I can’t help but think about God’s light piercing the darkness as I imagine Martin looking through the trees to the starry sky. I love nature and it speaks so loudly and clearly to me that God made it all, and He holds it all together. 

The lights on my Christmas tree aren’t just a pretty decoration. Each time I look at the tree in my living room all lit up, I see Jesus. He is the light of the world. Jesus came from heaven to earth as a tiny baby to save us from our sin.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” 

John 8:12, NASB 

Light came into this dark world to save us. Without Jesus there is darkness, spiritual darkness. It can be a bright sunny day, yet totally dark without knowing Jesus as Savior. His beautiful light lives in those of us who have said yes to Him. It doesn’t matter how gray the skies are, or how dark the world is, Jesus’ light lives in His followers because He is the light. That’s a miracle.

“If a man could travel so fast as always to follow the sun, of course he would always be in the light. If the day should ever come when the speed of the railway shall be equal to the speed of the world’s motion, then a man may so live as to never lose the light. Now he that follows Christ shall never walk in darkness.” 

-Charles Spurgeon 

Every time you see a Christmas tree strung with beautiful lights may it be a reminder of God’s light. God’s only son, Jesus, is the light of the world. His glorious light lives in each of us who have received Him as Savior through faith. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? His light can live in you too if you trust in Him today. 

Merry Christmas!

Love and blessings to all of you,

Meghan 

If you need prayer just drop me an email. Go to my contact page for info. 

Christmas, Food

Gingerbread Cookies

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You can’t help but smile when you see a gingerbread cookie smiling back at you. I have been baking all kinds of cookies for years, but I never made gingerbread cookies until now. My youngest son loves gingerbread so this was the year to make them. I’m so glad I did. 

These gingerbread cookies are chewy, slightly crisp on the outside, with a nice soft interior. I do not like super soft cookies. I like my cookies on the crisp side. This gingerbread cookie is a good combo of both. The spice is not overwhelming, and there is just enough to know you are eating gingerbread. 

Any child would have fun making these little people, and decorating them. I used a very simple royal icing, but you could just as easily use buttercream icing. Even big kids will enjoy decorating these cookies. Everyone will love this sweet spicy gingerbread cookie. They are really good. It’s a nice addition to your Christmas baking. You’ll be smiling too.

Merry Christmas!

Gingerbread Cookies 

Ingredients 

¾ cup butter softened

1 cup brown sugar

¾ cup molasses

1 egg

2 teaspoons ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

3 ¾ cup all purpose flour

Instructions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° 
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment or just leave them ungreased.
  3. Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl, or stand mixer, using the paddle attachment until it’s creamy and fluffy.
  4. Add the molasses and the egg. Mix on medium speed until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl add ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and flour. Mix with a whisk.
  6. Gradually add the four mixture to the wet dough. It will be thick and sticky. Mix until combined.
  7. Divide the dough in half, and wrap in plastic. Flatten the dough into disks. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour, up to overnight. 
  8. Roll out prepared dough on a lightly floured surface to approximately ¼ inch thick. It can be crumbly. Press firmly with the rolling pin but not hard. Cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Be careful as you transfer to your baking sheet. The dough can crumble easily. 
  9. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. Larger cut outs will take about 10 minutes, smaller sizes will take about 8 minutes. Shorter bake time means softer cookies. Longer bake time means crispier cookies. They should be slightly brown and a little firm. 
  10. Leave the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a cooling rack. They will continue to bake as they sit. 
  11.  Once the gingerbread cookies are completely cool, decorate with royal icing and sprinkles. 
  12. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days. 

Notes:

  • Spray your measuring cups with cooking spray beforehand and the molasses will come out much easier.
  • It’s OK if your dough is crumbly. Just push it together when you roll it out. It will still bake nicely.
  • Adjust the spices and add more or less to your liking.
  • This recipe makes approximately 30 medium size cookies.

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Royal Icing 

Ingredients

6 tablespoons (3 oz.) pasteurized egg whites

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

4 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, or stand mixer, add egg whites and vanilla. Mix using whisk attachment for about 30 seconds until it’s frothy. Add powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Switch to high and mix until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks have formed. This will only take a few minutes. Add any food coloring and place icing in a pastry bag to decorate cookies. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Tips:

  • Add water if your royal icing is too thick.
  • Add powdered sugar if royal icing is too thin.
  • Let the icing sit out at room temperature for a bit after it’s been refrigerated.
  • Royal icing should completely dry in about 2 hours.
  • You need to work pretty quick when using this icing because it starts to harden up right away. 
  • Add a different flavor like peppermint or almond.

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Authors, Christmas

SEEING Christmas

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Does the holiday season feel too overwhelming or materialistic to you? Are you searching for a way to make Christmas more meaningful for you, and your children, or grandchildren? 

Come take a look at Christmas through a different set of eyes. Come see the season in a whole new light. Be inspired by noticing Jesus in places you may not have seen Him before, hiding in every detail of the most wonderful time of the year!

I am so pleased to share this lovely book with all of you. Karen Stacy wrote this poem for her family, and eventually turned it into a book. It’s beautifully illustrated by Joel Schoon-Tanis. SEEING Christmas is a wonderful story with fresh new insight on this holy season.

I won SEEING Christmas last year through a contest on Instagram. Immediately, I fell in love with this delightful story. It’s a great addition to my Christmas books, and I highly recommend you purchase a copy, or two or three, and give them away. It makes a great gift for friends, family, and churches. 

Read more about Karen Stacy here:

I originally wrote SEEING Christmas as a poem to be read to my family on Christmas morning. At that time, it seemed like everyone was saying Christmas was too materialistic, and I just didn’t see it that way. I could see Jesus in all of it, from the tree, to the gifts, to the toys, and much more. So I put together a poem to share with my adult children and grandchildren, in the hopes of inspiring a new perspective on Christmas for them. 

When I read it to them, they immediately said I needed to make it a book so the message could be shared with everyone. The process of turning my little family poem into a beautiful hardcover picture/gift book, has been a true labor of love. My hope and prayer is that it will bless and inspire everyone to see Jesus in ALL things Christmas, not just the manger.

Karen Stacy is a wife, mother, grandmother, and avid Jesus follower. She seeks and finds Him in every detail of life, and is passionate about sharing her vision with others. A lover of birds, rainbows, anything tiny, and all things home, Karen also treasures her morning run and her afternoon Starbucks. She and her husband Mark live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where her greatest joy is time spent in their home together with their kids and grandkids, especially at Christmas. 

Purchase the hardcover book here:

https://littlebirdpressonline.com

Purchase the Kindle version here:

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Christmas

A Christmas Without Decorations

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

My in-laws garage was packed floor to ceiling with our stuff. We moved into their house a few weeks before Christmas that year. They had generously offered for us to stay with them while Tom finished school. I stood there with my two young boys looking at the big pile of boxes that represented our life. Buried in that pile were all of our Christmas decorations. 

There would be no normal Christmas that year. I was sad. I love Christmas. I love the decorations. I love the lights. I love it all. I was looking for something that was familiar in all of the change. Anything that was secure was gone, except for my husband and kids. Christmas and all of the decorations had always brought me so much happiness. That year it was missing.

As much as I wanted to be surrounded with all of my favorite Christmas things, I couldn’t. It wasn’t even possible. I had to come to terms with where my life was at that moment in time. A choice had to be made. I could feel sorry for myself, or I could make the best of the situation. I chose my faith over my feelings.

We bought an inexpensive artificial tree. Dylan, my oldest son, and I made a red and green paper chain for garland. We made ornaments cut from construction paper and covered in glitter. Our very simple tree was beautifully decorated. The boys were happy, and a new memory was made. No, it wasn’t a fancy, perfect, from a magazine kind of tree. It was made with love and a little creativity.

Christmas came and went that year just like it does every year. Though it was not the holiday I had dreamed of, we were all together and that was what mattered the most. I held on to the fact that we would have a normal Christmas again one day. It took a couple of years, but it did happen.

Your Christmas may not look ideal this year. You may be grieving the loss of a loved one, or dealing with illness. Our entire world was turned upside down because of a virus, and nothing has been normal. We can still celebrate the birth of the Savior. He is worthy to celebrate.

Maybe you’ve just got a simple paper chain like I did for your tree. It’s still beautiful. You may have the best of every kind of Christmas decor. Your tree is Instagram worthy, yet you are hurting, or sad, or lonely. Jesus came to save us. He can comfort you in your pain. No matter where you are at in your life. If you call on Jesus He will answer.

The year I had no Christmas decorations God met me in my sadness. God lovingly showed me that He is still there no matter what. It’s not about the decorations. It’s all about Jesus Christ. 

Jesus came into this harsh world as a vulnerable baby. He was born in a feeding trough. Not ideal. Jesus was not born in a palace, or a hospital birthing suite. Jesus was born where animals eat. The King of Kings came to us in the most lowly, humble circumstances. No fancy decorations. Precious Jesus was a tiny baby among animals and dirt. 

The angels rejoiced over Jesus’ birth. 

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

    and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”   

Luke 2:13-14, NIV 

We can rejoice over Jesus’ birth too. No matter our circumstances. We can choose to focus on Jesus. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. Jesus is worth it.

Love you all,

Meghan