Christmas

A Christmas Without Decorations

green pine tree with red fruit
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 

Guest Post

Listening to Our Kids Is Important

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I had the privilege to write a guest post for Jessie Mattis on the importance of listening to our kids. We sure tell our kids a lot, but what about taking the time to listen to them? Everyone just wants to be heard, and our kids are no exception. Please go to the link to read Listening to Our Kids Is Important – How to Listen Well.

Faith, God, Uncategorized

He Named the Stars

stars
Photo by Philippe Donn on Pexels.com

 

According to NASA, our sun is one of about 200 billion stars in our galaxy.¹ That’s more than any of us can see with our eyes. I am overwhelmed by the few stars I can see at night. The most stars I’ve seen at once was at the Grand Canyon. I wish I could have captured that beautiful view. It’s forever in my memory, until I lose my memory. Hahaha!

We can never reach any of the stars, besides our sun. Proxima Centauri, our closest star, is approximately 4.24 light years away. A light year is 5.88 trillion miles.² Yeah, we’re never going to get up close to a single star. And we are not supposed to. Each star is exactly where it is meant to be, far, far, away.

God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. Genesis 1:16, NIV 

There is no doubt in my mind that there is a God when I look at the night sky. But when I think about the fact that God named the stars, my mind is officially blown. Only God, who made billions of stars, also named them. 

He determines the number of the stars

and calls them each by name. Psalm 147:4, NIV 

 

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:

    Who created all these?

He who brings out the starry host one by one

    and calls forth each of them by name.

Because of his great power and mighty strength,

    not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26, NIV

God made and named each and every star. Not one star is missing or out of place. 

God is in the details of the universe and the details of our lives. 

Do you feel like He has forgotten about you? Do you ever wonder if He sees you and what you’re going through? Does God really care about me? Yes, God really cares about every heartache, trial, and pain you experience.

God made every single part of the universe and He made you. He knows everything about you. He even numbered the hairs on your head. He doesn’t just count how many individual hairs you’ve got. God numbered your hair. Reach up and touch a piece of hair on your head. Maybe that’s number 1000 or 50. Who knows? God does. 

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:30, NIV 

God has intimate knowledge of us. He is not a far-off, too busy for us, God. The God who made us also deeply loves us, and deeply cares about our needs and sorrows. He is in the details. 

Whatever you are going through today, or tomorrow, He cares. God cares so much that He wants you to trust Him, to talk to Him, and give Him all your concerns. He will take care of you. It may not be your way, or your time, but He will provide. 

As for God, his way is perfect:

    The Lord’s word is flawless;

    He shields all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30, NIV

The God who named the stars, and numbered your hair, loves you. Trust Him. Cry out to Him. Praise Him, and thank Him. Spend some time with Him. He loves hearing from you.

 

Love you all,

Meghan 

 

¹ https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/other-solar-systems/en/

² https://www.britannica.com/story/how-do-we-know-how-far-away-the-stars-are

 

Do you want to know how to photograph the night sky? Read this informative article from Pixpa filled with great tips. 

https://www.pixpa.com/blog/guide-to-astrophotography

 

Food, mustard seed sentinel

Canned Tomatoes

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We had a large tomato harvest in our backyard garden this summer. There were so many that a quick decision had to be made on what to do with the tomatoes before they spoiled. Enter the canned tomato. This was my first time canning, and I loved it. 

There is something so satisfying about preserving food that you’ve grown. Even the basil in each jar is from our garden. I have a whole new respect for the generations before me who had no choice but to preserve their food for those long winter months. No wonder not a drop of food was wasted back in the day. Each morsel meant hard work was involved.

A few things to consider before you decide to take the plunge on this endeavor. It will make a decent sized mess in your kitchen. It will take at least two hours of your time. You don’t need a canning pot. The only tool you should purchase or borrow is canning tongs, and of course jars. 

If you have ever wanted to try canning, tomatoes are a great way to start. They are probably one of the least fussy foods to preserve. You will still need to sterilize your jars and lids, but there is less concern over botulism because tomatoes are a high acidic fruit. You will have your very own tomatoes on hand to make sauces, soups, stews, or any other tomato based recipe. 

I love trying new things and canning tomatoes surprised me with happiness. Tomatoes are a staple in my cooking, and now I have my own canned supply from my garden. If you decide to take the leap into canning like I did, send me your pictures. I’d love to see what you accomplished. You can do this!

Happy Canning!

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

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Canned Tomatoes

 

Ingredients

  • ½ to 1 lb. Roma tomatoes per each 16 oz. jar
  • 1 bottle concentrated lemon juice
  • fresh sprigs of basil

 

Instructions

  1. Prepare canning jars. Place jars and lids in simmering water for 10 minutes to sterilize them. The rings do not need to be sterilized and just need washed in warm soapy water. To make it easy, just leave the jars and lids in the warm water until you’re ready to fill them. 
  2. Remove the skins from the tomatoes. Wash tomatoes and make an “x” shape with a knife on the bottom of each one. Bring a large pot of water to boil and place scored tomatoes in the pot for a minute or two. When the skins start to tear, scoop out the tomatoes and place them in an ice water bath. Remove the skins, cut out the core, and slice the tomatoes into quarters. 
  3. Cook the tomatoes. Place one fourth of the tomatoes in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Crush the tomatoes with a potato masher. Add the remaining tomatoes (do not crush these tomatoes) and boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Fill jars with cooked tomatoes. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice concentrate per jar and one sprig of fresh basil. Fill jars with cooked tomatoes leaving ½ inch head space. Wipe the rims and place lids and rings on each jar until finger tight.
  5. Process jars in a hot water bath. Place the filled jars in a warm water bath covering them in at least an inch of water. Bring the water to a rolling boil and start timing. 40 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts. Process times can vary depending on your altitude. https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_03/tomato_water_pack.html
  6. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when the center is pressed. You should hear a popping sound when they cool or even while they are boiling. Store canned tomatoes for up to a year. 

 

Notes:

  • Make sure to use canning tongs. It will make your job much easier and safer.
  • I used a stock pot when processing my cans since it was deep.
  • My jars are pint size (16 oz.) 
  • A wide mouth canning funnel is quite helpful when filling jars.
  • Use bottled lemon juice to ensure high enough acidity.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for quart size jars.

 

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Click on the link to get all of my recipes. Go to More and scroll down to Meghan’s Corner. Mustard Seed Sentinel is an online magazine filled with all sorts of fantastic articles. The contributors are accomplished, talented writers. Check it out and subscribe.

https://www.mustardseedsentinel.com

Authors, Joey Flynn's Extraordinary Tale

My Author Interview on Novel Thoughts

stack of thick books on table
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

Hello,

I hope and pray you are doing well. Just wanted to pass along my recent author interview. My friend and fellow author, Sharon K. Connell, included me in her monthly newsletter. Sharon’s newsletter, Novel Thoughts, is filled with all sorts of good information like poetry, art, writing tips, funny stories and recipes. One of my recipes is also included in July’s newsletter. So, I’m very blessed to have such an opportunity.

Sharon is an accomplished author with quite a few books to her name. Her genre is Christian Romance Suspense. The links to her books are included in Novel Thoughts.

Please go to the link and read all the great content Sharon has in her newsletter. Also, you can read my interview and find out about my writing process, and a few other fun facts about me.

Thank you!

Meghan

 

Novel Thoughts, July Edition

https://mailchi.mp/1873f80052ae/july-edition-of-novel-thoughts