Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hope your Christmas was merry and bright

I had very good intentions over the past week of writing a lovely Christmas post and wishing all of my online friends a wonderful holiday. It never happened. Just like Christmas cards this year didn't happen. And the big Christmas meal didn't happen.

But you know what? It was wonderful anyway in a low-key, simple way.

This year, I set a new rule. If it hasn't happened by December 23rd, just don't worry about it.

That went for last-minute shopping, baking, stressing, the whole Christmas enchilada.

Hubs and I did do a good bit of Christmas Eve wrapping but not nearly as much as in past years. (The awful memory of that Christmas about three years ago when we did ALL our wrapping on Christmas Eve still haunts my memory and prompts me now to start wrapping gifts as soon as I buy them which isn't nearly as early in the year as I wish it were, but that's another post.)

The simplicity allowed us to focus more on the Giver than the gifts under the tree. It gave us time to sit around the kitchen table with our nativity set and "What God Wants for Christmas" and reflect with the kiddos on the real reason we celebrate. Time to bake cookies and decorate them. Time to snuggle on the sofa and read Christmas books. Time to appreciate all that is precious to us.

I hope your Christmas was the same, that amazing smells and people filled your home and that you made the kind of memories that will cause you and your children to smile in years to come and say, "Remember that year when ..."

I hope you feel as blessed as I do.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Soup's On!

BooMama is asking for soup recipes today, and I'm thrilled to pass along one of our absolute faves here at The Potter Place. Since this only serves 4, I usually double or triple it. It's great fresh but muy fabuloso a day or two later!

White Chicken Chili

2-3 chicken breasts, boiled and chopped
1 can navy beans, undrained
1 can great northern beans, undrained
1 can Rotel, undrained
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 t. thyme
cheddar cheese
Monterey Jack cheese

Combine all ingredients except chicken and cheeses in large pot. Simmer for 30 minutes covered. Add cheese and chicken and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Serves 4.

Head on over to BooMama's place for more souptacular recipes!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Month Before Christmas

'Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.

How the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings,
The teachers would say.
December 25th
is "just a holiday".

Yet the shoppers were ready
with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks to the floor
to be the first to get it!

CDs from Madonna, an X-box, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken and Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down,
At Lowe's the word Christmas was nowhere to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penney's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive and sensitive
Are words that were used
To intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden,
Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzer
On Boxer, on Rather,
On Kerry, on Clinton!

At the top of the Senate,
There arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus,
In all public matter.

And we spoke not a word
As they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak
of salvation and grace.

The true Gift of Christmas
was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season,
stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate "Winter Break"
under your "Dream Tree"
Sipping your Starbucks,
Please Listen to me.

Choose your words carefully,
Choose what you say
Not Happy Holiday!

Author Unknown

Monday, December 03, 2007


I'm no greenthumb, but house plants have always held a special place in my heart. My Mimmaw Snyder could grow African violets like nobody's business and always had a variety of cheerful colors brightening up her little home. My mother was fond of her Schefflera, Wandering Jew, and heartleaf Philodendron. I loved to tease her that she took better care of her plants than she did her kids.

After Mom's memorial service last September, I brought more than a dozen beautiful plants home with me. Knowing I couldn't care for all of them, I gave some away to family and friends and carefully tended the remaining half dozen with all the care that my mother gave her plants over the years.

I watered them, fed them, talked to them, gave them plenty of sunshine on pretty days, and brought them inside on cold winter nights.

And so you can imagine my heartbreak when I awakened this morning to the sight of a half dozen frozen plants on my deck where it rained all day yesterday and then dropped down to 22 degrees last night. Some of them had to have warm water poured around their bottoms to even pry free.

Disappointed, I nearly threw them out with the morning's trash, but something stopped me. Perhaps they can be saved, I thought. But then I looked again and saw no signs of life in the frozen foliage.

I left them on the kitchen table as I departed for school, planning to do something with them when I returned later.

Much to my amazement, when I prepared to toss them out later in the day, hiding deep beneath the dead black leaves, now thawed and hanging listlessly over the sides of the pots, I saw something that made me rejoice. GREEN! BRIGHT GREEN LEAVES!

With my sharpest pair of kitchen scissors in hand, I proceeded to cut away everything that the ice had destroyed from the cruel night outdoors, and when I was finished, I was left with a half dozen naked houseplants.

As I thought about the new growth that would be permitted (and encouraged) by removing the dead foliage, I thought about the pruning God does in the lives of his children to encourage their spiritual growth.

The dead leaves and vines piled up around me, reminding me of the unpleasantness that must be purged not only from my ailing houseplants but also from my sinful heart. Jesus reminds us of this when He says, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2). Doing so makes the tree bear better fruit, grow higher or to give the tree a more lovely appearance.

Just as my sharp scissors were the perfect tool for pruning my plants, God's Word is the perfect tool for pruning us. God’s Word is sharp so that it can remove unwanted branches in our lives without harming us. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

I have no idea whether my plants will survive this experience or not, but I do know that my own pruning -- as unpleasant as it can be at times -- will allow me to grow in God's character and to be more fruitful in His kingdom.