Saturday, December 31, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Good Morning -- or rather -- good afternoon, sweet girls. Today it is our pleasure to announce the winner or the lovely scarf giveaway that we held this month. After a quick prayer, and a random drawing from random.org, we drew ~

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~ drum roll, please!! ~

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Congratulations to Miss Emily Ruth!
We will be contacting you very soon!

Thank you all who entered!
Bethany Ann & Johanna Rose

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Reflecting Grace :: Pondering in our Hearts


Bethany >> I've often considered how little details of Mary's life the Bible shares and wondered why. I truly believe Mary to be a wonderful example for all Christian women, especially those who are younger, so I've always wished there were more details on her life and how the Christmas story took place. But of all the things the Bible does say about Mary, the writer was sure to include this "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." {Luke 2:19} So we do know that this was obviously important enough to share. Basically this is the only spiritual insight we have into what Mary's character was like and I think it is something she was wise to have done.

So what does it mean to "treasure up and ponder in our hearts"? Well I believe it is a way to remember things of the past and keep them close to you. One thing that definitely comes to mind is remembering all the things the Lord has done for us. Our salvation, times of protection, times of joy, times of provision, etc. One way to keep things close at heart is to record them in a journal. I've not been a very faithful journal-er {As Miss Johanna well knows :)} but I've often tried my best to record special things and events in my life that I will want to be able to look back on later. Another idea is to keep either a prayer or devotional journal were you chart your Spiritual progress. This way you can look back later on and see how you have grown, which is a big encouragement!

When we treasure something, what does that mean? Well if you had a diamond ring that your grandma gave you then it would be treasured. You would keep it safe, you would love it and admire it, you would think of it often, you would above all treasure it. The same is true with memories. We must be careful to not let things the Lord had done for us slip out of our memory, but rather we must think of them often, praise Him for them, and share them with others.

May you Be Blessed This Christmas Season!

Celebrating His Birth!

~ Bethany
Johanna >> Looking back over the Christmas season, a joy encases my heart as I reminisce about the numerous activities which took up my days, and sweetened each hour. From sipping hot cocoa in the evenings beside a crackling hearth, while listening to carols play softly into the night; to baking fifty gingerbread, one-hundred sugar cookies, and countless other holiday treats; to Christmas day, in which gifts are opened, door-bells are wrung, hugs are given, and embraces exchanged. Each and every moment was savored; each filled with thrilling delight; these are the moments of which I love to look back upon throughout the year.

Yet, while these are the moments which we often resort to when thinking of the Christmas season, or indeed any joyous season in our life, they are indeed not the only moments which made our days 'merry and bright'. No, indeed. I believe that, while these moments are wonderful in and of themselves, they would not be all that they were, if it was not for those quite moments in which we spend in deep reflection and repose. The moments we never speak of, yet are very precious. 

For example, moments that I have not yet mentioned would be those spent in Jesus' presence; moments in which I talk one-on-one with my Savior, and thank Him for all He has done; moments spent immersed in the word of God, grasping the treasures found therein; moments spent in pondering the love of God; moments spent in quite, moments gone by in silence, moments in which thought reigns and speech is banned. These are the moments which are never spoken of, yet, perhaps are the most valuable of all.

In Luke 2:17-19 we read --
Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
While these verses may be familiar to all who love the Christmas story, it may be that perhaps the depth of this verse is often skipped over. Here we see that the Shepherds who had seen the baby Jesus went out and "made widely known" of His coming; yet, in contrast to this we see that Mary, the chosen maidservant of God, "kept all these things and pondered the in her heart." What an important lesson we can learn from this! While so many people around us are so eager to be heard, and slow to be silent and ponder, it is easy for us to loose sight of this beautiful gift of silence. Yet, here, within the Christmas story, we see a lovely portrayal of Mary pondering things within her heart.

Sisters, while it is often hard to find a spare moment, I encourage you to take the time to stop, and just ponder in silence what the Lord has done for you! I find that the moments where I am willing to stop and listen, are the moments in which Jesus can be heard whispering within my ears, and touching my heart. Let Him speak.

Blessings,

-- Johanna

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Unselfish Christmas

Pinned Image{Written by Bethany Ann}

     There was once a girl who was found one December's day looking through a catalog. Her family had received many a catalog from various company's who all shared one desire: to make more money. All of these catalogs were filled to the brim with things that every child would want, books and toys and craft supplies. 
     But on this winters day the catalog which this girl was pouring her heart into was not like the ones we have listed. No, certainly not, for this catalogs title read "World Vision" and on the front cover there was a picture of a African child, whose skin was a brown as chocolate and whos face was solemn with the look of never satisfied hunger. Dear reader, this catalog was not filled with things such as jewelry, books, toys, and the like, most certainly not. This catalog was instead filled with sad pictures of those who were lost and without any hope-they were at the depth their despair. As this girl sat down and looked int the heartbroken faces of mothers who had to watch their infants slowly die for malnutrition, she saw young children who were left to defend and provide for their younger siblings since their parents died long ago of AIDS; she saw teen aged girls who had been used terribly and you could clearly see how all hope and joy had been drained out of them with each passing day without even so much as a shimmer of hope or help; she saw Christians, pastors, who had been persecuted for their belief in the Lord. She saw girls who had been burned because they would not denounce their love for their Savior who once suffered much the same as they. 
     As the girl peered deeper into these pictures she began to see past herself and saw her selfish nature. She thought of how prosperous America was and how sad was the fact that the people of this land didn't even realize that there were others who were perishing most miserably on the other side of the world, yet wouldn't help because money had already been dedicated to their most recent spa trip. As this girl looked into the catalog she saw such more than needy people, she also saw a selfish nation. All of a sudden that book which she wanted didn't seem so important or so necessary for survival. Her life was changed -- or was it?

~*~
    
Pinned Image
     Dear sisters, this story was not a fiction one, but rather a very true one, one that continues on today.  This girl was me. This December mentioned was only last year. This heart-wrentching discovery and new found desire to help others was sprouted not long ago. I remember so well the tears that misted my eyes as I realized how blessed I was -- and how unfortinate they were. How selfish I was to want everything I saw and delighted in, and yet ignore the call to help. How easy it is to want, yet how difficult it is to give. It is true that it is more blessed to give than to receive, but honestly, is this America's motto? To me it is as if America's motto is "get more" and "what you do have is never enough" and with each pasing new Christmas season, and with each passing World Vision catalog, I realize more and more how it isn't all about me.

     Yes, though Christmas day was only yesterday I feel as if the Christmas season is never over since we celebrate Christs' birth not only on December 25th, but every day. But I've often wondered what it would be like if every first looked to the needs of others instead of their own first each Christmas? How different this world would be with the unselfish people.

     With this world view of what Christmas is through their eyes, it is so easy to get caught up in the rush of it all. A long time ago christmas was more focused on spending time with faily and celebr the birth of christ instead of how it is now-getting as many gifts as possible. While I am not saying that gifts are "bad" since I don't think they are! It can be a reminder of Christs' free gift of salvation to us-however sometimes we get in the worlds view without even knowing it. We try and think of everything we would li christmas and make a long list. We focus on what we can get instead of what can give. Christmas is truly about Christ-who gave eveything to us freely-even when we didn't deserve it. So we as "Christs' reflectors" must reflect that light and grace shown through Jesus and be a giver instead of a receiver.

    This Christmas lets bring our focus to the TRUE meaning of christmas and focus on Chrit birth more than any gifts we will get. May we all keep the true meaning of christmas in perspective this year and ever one after that!

Merry CHRISTmas!
Bethany

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Craft Tutorials

Of all the times to craft, Christmas-time is the best! Today I've made a list of neat looking tutorials that you may enjoy trying this Christmas season! So turn on the Christmas carols, grab a sibling and some craft supplies and get to crafting! Christmas blessings! ~Bethany Ann

Paper Snowflakes
Simple Stocking
Reindeer T-Shrit
Ragged Fabric Wreath
Cinnamon Gift Tags/Ornaments
Felt and Wire Angel 7
Felt & Wire Angel Ornament
Tissue Paper Christmas Tree
Scrappy Fabric Christmas Tree Cards
Coffee Creamer Bottle Snowman
Paper Dollie Christmas Angels
Snowflake Finished 1
Beaded Christmas Ornaments
Triangle Gift Box Made From Greeting Cards

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Book Reviews

book cover of 

Kate's Choice 

by

Louisa May AlcottKate's Choice
By Louisa May Alcott
{Review By Bethany}
Description: "In this 150 year old Christmas classic by the beloved author of Little women, English Kate is faced with a life-changing choice. Orphaned at 15, she tries hard to fulfill her father's dying wish: deciding which of her four American uncles' families she will live with. But how can she make such a decision?"

I really enjoyed this long-loved, heart felt story about Kate, who has a choice to make as to were she will live after her parents die and leave her an orphan. It was a sweet story about the tight bond between a grandmother and her grand-daughter. It was very refreshing and a relativity quick read {It took me one sitting to read it}. This is a wonderful fire-side reader! Note: This edition has two other Christmas stories, those of which I did not read...I am only reviewing the first story, Kate's Choice.} I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

White Christmas Pie
White Christmas Pie 
By Wanda E. Brunstetter
{Review By Bethany}

Description: "Abandoned by his father, Will Henderson was raised by an Amish couple. Now he's about to marry Karen Yoder but is having second thoughts. Can Will overcome the bitterness of his past in order to secure his future? Karen cannot break through the barrier her fiance has suddenly constructed around his heart. When she seeks the advice of an old boyfriend, Will begins to see green. Has he already lost his chance for happiness?
When an accident threatens Will's life, the strength of blood ties is tested. Will a recipe for White Christmas pie contain the ingredients for a happily-ever-after?" {Taken from Christian Book Distributors}

I have recently began to read Wanda's books and have really enjoyed this sweet Christmas story! It was a great love story, without too much romance. Although their was a bit of romance {The main character is engaged, however there was no kissing scenes, which I appreciated}. It was very suspenseful and had the most wonderful ending and I really enjoyed reading it! If you enjoy Amish fiction and are looking for a good Christmas novel then I would definitively encourage you to read this book! I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Beside a Crackling Hearth

{Written by Johanna}

As I write, I wish to share with my readers a small glimpse into my home. Just now, I sit beside a crackling hearth, enjoying the pine-wood scent, relishing the sound, and immersing myself in its beautiful warmth. The hearth is a place which I often resort to in writing my posts. A place which holds warmth in more ways then one. 

To my right sits the beauteous Christmas tree, decked in hundreds of twinkle lights and many shimmering ornaments; the story of the candy cane re-visits my mind as my eyes wander from one striped candy to the next.  

Christmas carols ring within my ears, and the harmony of piano, harp, flute, violin and I know not how many more instruments, come together in the lovely tune of Holy Night and Oh Come All Ye Faithful. Each song is as beautiful as the one before, and all sound with a spirit of Christmas joy. 

My eyes meander to each face in the room -- how blessed I am to call these people mine -- my very own -- family. I ponder what makes Christmas time such a special time of year. What is it about this wintry season that brings such joy to the heart, and such peace to the spirit? While there may be more then one answer to these tacit inquires, tonight I feel the answer to be family. What a blessing this time of year brings, in which a family can draw even closer together by the warmth of the hearth, and bask in fellowship and love. What a blessing indeed....


Family is truly a gift from God! This holiday season, amid all of the fun activities and pass-times there can be found so many lovely ways to grow closer to your family members; whether it be Christmas baking, or holiday decoration, or perhaps just chatting over a steaming cup of hot chocolate. 'Tis the season to become closer with your family! Cherish them today; cherish them tomorrow; cherish them everyday.

With the joy of Jesus in my heart,
-- Johanna

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beautiful Inspiration

Mandie and the Forgotten ChristmasMandie & The Forgotten Christmas
A Movie Review {Review by Bethany}

Description :: Thrust into the unfamiliar world of boarding school, Mandie finds herself plagued by rules and regulations---and constantly in trouble with the headmistress, Miss Heathwood. Taking refuge in the school's attic, she stumbles upon a mystery that could unlock memories of a long-forgotten Christmas. But is Mandie willing to lie to find out the truth? 107 minutes.{Taken from Christian Book Distributors} Rating: G

I have seen the other two Mandie movies and really enjoyed them, as did my siblings. So when I heard about the new Christmas movie we waited until the library had it and eagerly brought it home and watched it together!

However when we finished the movie I was honestly a bit discouraged and disappointed. The thing that struck me strongest was that Mandie lied once, and then continued to lie to cover the previous lie, and in the end she is justified for lying and it makes one seem as if lying wasn't such a bad thing. Lying is obviously such a bad thing in Christs; eyes that He told everyone not to do it and put it in the Ten Commandments and the movie seemed to lower that standard. There were references to God and two praying scenes, but this makes it all the more sad that the character prays for guidance and then chooses to lie and then to continue to lie and consider it God's guidance. 

But on the positive side this movie was a sweet Christmas movie about helping others no matter the cost. Other than the lying and a few rule breaking scenes, there wasn't anything else I didn't agree with. The movie was sweet however it not really one I'd want to watch again. I found that after watching the movie I felt it easier to disobey or disrespect my parents since I'd seen the character do these things many times in the movie...so this is one thing to think about before watching this movie. Overall I give it 2 out of 5 stars.
~*~
Today Miss Elizabeth, whom most of you know from Joyful Jewels 4 Jesus blog as well as Septembers feature for our monthly interview {Read the interview HERE!}, has submitted a Christmas article in hopes that it would be an encouragement to you! Elizabeth has been such an encouragement to both Johanna and I and we are most pleased that she was willing to share with you all today. Thank you Elizabeth and may the rest of you enjoy and be blessed! ~Bethany


My skirt rustles as I hurriedly skip up the stairs and clip back my locks of hair into a big jaw clip. Grabbing my camera and tying on my striped apron, streaked with remnants of recent baking endeavors, I begin. My warm sweater is now laid on my chair, not wanting to spoil it with the flour that now dusts around the mixer and the sprinkles of ingredients, some of them unhealthy, so I wince. Later, as I finish up putting the last dishes in the washer, wipe the counter clean, I am surrounded by cooling cookies and treats, and the delicious aroma wafting through the air…and am anticipating sharing them with others.

{Miss Elizabeth in the snow}
            Scrumptious winter-y treats are almost always a delight –but even more so when shared! Some ideas for blessing others and sharing the love of Christ:
Baking goodies for times with other brothers and sisters in Christ (the above scenario was when I was baking some for our upcoming chapel’s kids choir practice)  
Package up some treats with ribbon and a scrap booked or typed tag with Scripture or tract & deliver to neighbors and/or extended family. (Around Thanksgiving last year we went around with baskets of homemade pumpkin bread to our neighbors and it was a neat opportunity. We wrapped and brought into a bow chunky strands of yarn around the plastic-wrapped loaves.) 
Some Christian homeless places often welcome treats for their meals with open arms and gratefulness.

Here are two special recipes that I would be delighted to share with you:


. M&M Cookies .
Blend together:
1/2 c. Crisco
1/2 c. Brown Sugar
Beat in, one ingredient at a time:
1/4 c. Granulated Sugar
1/2 t. Vanilla
1/4 t. Water
1 Egg
Sift and Add:
1 cup and 2 tablespoons Flour
1/2 t. Baking Soda
1/2 t. Salt
Mix well. Stir in 3/4 cup M&Ms (Christmas colored for Christmas). Drop from teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Press 3-4 M&Ms into each cookie dough ball. Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies. Enjoy!

Note: We usually make a 4x batch (10 dozen!) if we are bringing cookies to a lot of places.

 . Chocolate Pretzel Delights .
you will need // pretzels // rolo chocolates // M&Ms or other //
step 1) Place pretzels on a pan (lined with parchment paper…sprayed with cooking spray if you don’t have parchment paper)
step) Unwrap rolo chocolates and place one in the
center of each pretzel.
step 3) Bake at 250 degrees for around 4 minutes, checking often. Chocolate should be soft, not melted.
step 4) Take out of oven and press colored M&M, chocolate chip or pecan in centers while chocolate is still soft. Take off cookie sheet and put on wax paper. Let cool and harden overnight or for a few hours. Enjoy!

      As daughters, lessons can be learned in the kitchen, such as:
  • Diligence in cleaning up after ourselves (especially a huge blessing to our moms!)
  • Blessing others with the gifts God has given us
  • Investing time in furthering our homemaking skills (Proverbs 31:17: “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”)
  • Learning to spend our dollars wisely. I am interested in couponing and have a long ways to go, but I love learning simple tips. Money Saving Mom is an excellent resource. Look for coupons or sales—bless your family!
  •  Use it as an opportunity to be a bright witness for Christ. Conversation & tracts {Click HERE} (love this one by the Mally family) are wonderful!

 May the Lord bless you with sweet blessings as we serve Him together! Blessings as we rejoice together in our dear Savior’s birth!

-Psalm 34:8-
“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”

With Joy in our Savior,
Elizabeth

{Elizabeth is a young lady who loves the Lord with her heart and is learning to trust His perfect timing and plan for her life. Her life is pleasantly full and she thanks the Lord for that! God’s Word, journals, music, family, handmade creations, the color blue, photos and most of all...her Savior, the Lord Jesus, are a few things she loves. Her website is: www.joyfuljewels4jesus.blogspot.com}

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monthly Interview | Miss Grace

Today I am so blessed to be interviewing one of my very dearest and best friends, dear Grace. She has had such a huge impact on my life since I first met her, and the Lord been truly good in making our friendship so very strong and unbreakable. I pray that the joy which radiates within her heart will be reflected and related to our sweet readers today as you encounter the words she has to share. -- Johanna

Miss Grace | 2011


Reflections of Grace | Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you come to know Jesus?



Grace | Hello, dear ladies and sisters in Christ! What a joy and honor it is to be interviewed here on Reflections of Grace. First off, I want to specially thank Miss Bethany and dear Miss Johanna for inviting me to write this {you two are the sweetest friends!} and I pray that what I write here to-day will encourage your walk with Christ.

     Well, I want to start by saying four simply words that describe me :: I am not perfect. Far from it. I struggle with many things on my walk heavenward {and the first thought that entered my mind when Johanna asked me to do this was, “I am so unworthy to do this!”}, but it is through God’s endless love and forgiveness and the overwhelming encouragement from my dear readers and sisters in Christ that I write this for you to-day.
     About me? I’m a small town girl, living in a content and cozy home with my dear parents as well as my black cat Lily and bunny Oakley in the sunny Central California. As a home-educated sophomore student, I have the blessed opportunity to be with my dear mother who is such an amazing homemaker! My dearest Daddy is a wonderful provider for our family, having a commute of 1 ½ hr. {{one way}} to work without breathing a word of complaint. God has blessed me with such a wonderful family! 
     Personally? I am a fifteen years of age young lady {as of October 25th}, adopted from China at six months old, and most importantly, a daughter of the King of kings. Overall, I am…a dreamer of whimsical fancies, a writer, a classical music violinist, an avid reader of historical fiction, a lover of old-fashion things, a letterer, a gardener of herbs and lavender, a drinker of tea, an obsessed blogger, a crafter at heart, and so much more!
Grace and her Daddy
     I came to know the Lord when I was very young, however; it was not until I created my garden walk that I was inspired to renew my personal relationship with our Savior as well as just recently doing devotions with a dear, dear friend. How often I give my thanks to the Lord for connecting me with the most amazing Christian young ladies including Miss Johanna and Miss Bethany, who have most definitely played a huge part in inspiring my walk with Jesus Christ!


Reflections of Grace | How are you able to focus Christmas on Jesus, when there are so many worldly distractions?



Grace | Oh, dear! I struggle with this. I admit, it is extremely difficult to focus completely on Christ during this busy holiday season. I do get very much carried away with decorating and especially making//wrapping gifts, but we always have to remember that past the lights, trees, music, sales, and frantic Christmas shopping, that the heart of Christmas is Jesus’ birth. God gave us a THE most priceless gift, and we celebrate His Son’s birth by giving and sharing in return. 



Reflections of Grace | Is there a favorite Christmas tradition that you and your family look forward to?



Grace | Ah, dear cheery Christmastime! Indeed, there are plenty of traditions that my family and I have to celebrate Christ’s birth, but particularly an evening festival that is named by our community, “Victorian House Showcase,” but we simply call it, “Vine Street.” Each year, our community gathers together evening in the month of December on a particular street called “Vine” lined with old Victorian houses. In front of each house, there is a booth run by different business that occupy the homes and buildings where they give out candy, cookies, hot chocolate, cotton candy, soup, apple cider, etc. Also in front of a lot of the booths are live nativity scenes, Victorian carolers, and people playing instruments. Our church even sometimes participates in front of one of our member’s tiny bungalow.

Grace and her Mom
     I have made so many sweet memories during the event, including performing a Christmas carol duet with my good friend as well as adopting a stray kitten {{Lily}} into our family!


Reflections of Grace | What is your favorite pastime during the Christmas season?



Grace | Well, let me see…my favorite pastime during the Christmas season would have to be either decorating the tree, knitting, wrapping presents in brown paper, sewing a cranberry/popcorn garland, or baking. Sometimes a sweet lady from our church invites me to come to her house and bake a huge batch of traditional Italian cookies called biscotti. She always makes such a special time out of it by making a big cup of hot chocolate and a tasty luncheon {{usually homemade chicken soup}}. Times like these really do make the Christmas season very special. 



Reflections of Grace | Do you have a favorite Christmas story?



Grace | Although I have not read many Christmas-themed books, perhaps, some of my favorite Christmas stories are A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens {which I hope to read a full copy of it this month}, An Old Fashion Iowa Christmas, and of course Jesus’ birth in the Bible! I also love watching Hallmark films during the Christmastime season with my family.




Reflections of Grace | How do you share the joy of Christmas with others?



Grace | We give! The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to give. As it is written in the book of Matthew, “Freely you have received, freely you give.” Mother and I once a year gather a few little “goodies” to be shipped all the way to our sponsor child {well, she is older than me} living in China. Some years we also gather more goodies, place them in shoe-boxes, wrap them up, and send them to a company that distributes them to children all over the world. Along with this, I play Christmas carols on my violin for a local retirement home where my grandfather used to live and this year I shall hopefully be playing for Vine Street again.



Reflections of Grace | How do you fill your home with the Christmas Spirit?



Grace | Some years we set up our Christmas tree; some years we just put up a garland on our fireplace mantel. I always try to persuade my weary father to put up the tree every year as it gives a cheerful, Christmas-like atmosphere. Usually, on a weekend we set aside a day in December to set up all our Christmas decorations, when my Daddy is home. After that, Christmas music fills the house as well as delicious scents from the kitchen and a cheery fireplace in the hearth. 

Grace & Johanna
Reflections of Grace | What is your favorite Christmas Carol and why?



Grace | O Holy Night. Most definitely. Perhaps, ‘tis the way the beautiful voices of the Celtic Women sing it. The lyrics are truly beautiful, as it announces Christ’s birth! I also enjoy “What Child Is This?”, “The First Noel”, and “Do You Hear What I Hear?”



Reflections of Grace | Is there a special message you would like to share in closing?



Grace | In closing, I want to end with a note of encouragement all the lovely young ladies who are reading this. Life gets busy and difficult and believe me, it’s not always perfect, but it is always beautiful because we have a Heavenly Father with us every step of the way. Never fear to be different, because you make a difference by shining His light; it may surprise you, that people will respect you more for boldly taking a stand even if they do not agree. God will give you the right people in your life, and always has the best plan for you in mind. And always keep your eyes heavenward, even if a storm rages around you.


     To Miss Bethany and dear Miss Johanna, thank you so much for inviting me to do this. You two are very special young ladies as well as the dearest of friends, and I always am thankful for the Lord bringing you into my life. Your faith is so inspiring, to me, and I know, to many girls out there. Keep shining your lights for Him.

     I also want to wish everyone a very blessed Christmas as well, and keep your eyes focused on Christ this holiday season!

     For young ladies who would like to learn a little more about me, I am the keeper of the garden at :: gracesgardenwalk.blogspot.com, and would LOVE to hear from you through e-mail, comment, or even a letter. Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mary :: A True Godly Example of Biblical Daughterhood

                                    {Written by Bethany Ann}
As Christmas time comes even closer with each passing day, I am reminded of my favorite Christmas past-time :: studying the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Each time I take a look into what the Holy Bible has to say about her life, I am amazed that such a young girl could do so much for the Kindom of God. It is encouraging to know that our single years as ladies DO matter and that they CAN be used for the glory of Jesus Christ--no matter what our age--if we allow Him to use us and live through us. Today I'd like to share with you some things I've learned about Mary and reasons why she is one of my favorite female Bible characters.

Mary was an encredible godly young lady. She is what all Christian daughters should desire to be like. God choose Mary, out of all the other women in the world to play the ever-so-important role to be a mother to the Holy Son of God. I can just imagine how close her relationship was with the Lord and how much she desired to serve Him, that He would choose her above all other girls. She, a virgin. She, a young teenager. She, just another of the many ladies living in that time. But He choose her. What a provelige it must have been to be trusted wih such a gift, such a treasure, such a blessing. Sometimes it is hard to relate to people recorded in the Bible, becasue they are men, or older than we are. But through Mary's example the Lord is showing us that those in their youth can make a difference--those who are chosen regardless of age or talent, but for the amount of their heart that is yearning and forming to the Christ-likeness. Dear sisters, it isn't about age, and it isn't about beauty or talent or wealth. No, indeed not. The Lord used Mary, she was certainly young, probably not the wealthiest of people and to Him, beauty didn't matter near as much as the heart. 

Some Character Traits I've Found in Mary That We All Should Try To Perfect ::
  •  Humility :: Mary had to be very humble to have been the mother of Jesus. The Lord delights in humble young people! Zephaniah 2:3 urges us to "Seek righteousness, seek humility" 1 Peter 5:5 tells us that "In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  One way that Mary might have been humble was in the way that she of all women was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. So she could have easily boasted about her high position--her God given position. She probably worked for her family and served her family at home, and this is a  job that takes much humility! Luke 1:48 gives us a portion of her song to the Lord were she declared  "for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed..."
  • Fear of the Lord :: Mary obviously served the Lord with her whole heart and obeyed Him faithfully-or else He would have chosen a more God-fearing lady. Mary was obedient to His commands wereas she kept herself pure for her husband and waited to do anything physical until after the marriage vows were taken. {Matthew 1:25} She was faithful to obey the command even when it wasn't easy. {Luke 1:38} She was obedient and presented Jesus to the temple {Luke 2:21-24} and Fled to Nazareth with Joespeh and baby Jesus when she was commanded to do so {Matthew 2:13-15} in obedience to her Lord.
  • Purity :: As I explained above, Mary was pure. {Matthew 1:25} Not only in the physical sense but also spiritually. We know that Mary had never had relations with anyone even while she was engaged. This is true purity! Most women of today cannot say that they have saved themselves for their husband! This is sad and should not be this way. We ladies must take a stand, even when others arent, to purity just like Mary did! Look at how life turned out for her when she obeyed God in that area of her life!
  • No Fear of Man :: Imagine how terrifying it would be to know that althought you are a virgin, you are pregnant and engaged! The punihsment for this action before marriage was being stoned to death! This was one way Mary could have fretted over what would happen but she trusted the Lord. When she has to leave the land with her husband and baby Jesus in order to save their baby, yes she was scared! {Remember that she was still a teenager and a new mother and wife!} We can all learn a lesson from Mary and her ability to not fear what men can do, but rather to trust in God. "In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?" {Psalm 56:11}
  • Trust in the Lord :: This certainly ties in with the above character. Mary trusted in the Lord to provide for her and make a way for her to escape the death sentance she was in! She truly trusted that no matter what, He was in control of her life and she was willing to submit even when it might have cost her life! What a faith! Mary was young when all these events began to unfold yet she still had a faith that went beyond some of the older people in her time! May we all learn to trust the Lord as Mary did! "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." {Proverbs 3:5-6}
  • Strength In Her Youth :: What a blessing it is to be strong for the Lord in our youth! Mary diligently showed this and was a wonderful example! By the time she was a teen-ager she had had a baby and traveled many miles with her husband-and this is only of the accounts the Bible gives us, what more happened that we know not about due to Bible space? Mary was strong for the Lord, and so must we.
  • Treasured What The Lord Had Done :: We are told that "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." {Luke 2:19} Often times we forget to take time to remember what the Lord has done for us and thank Him for it! In these busy days its sometimes difficult to find the time to get quiet and remember, but I think this is one of the best faith-builders there is! We need to constantly be remembering what the Lord has done for us. Keeping a journal and reading over it later is a wonderful way to do so. You could even do a scrapbook! Be creative to find ways to remember what the Lord has done for you! Johanna and I will be writing more about this in our Reflecting Grace post {formerly titled Royal Council}, to be published later this month.
  • Joy :: We find that Mary sang a song to her Lord, so we know that their was joy in her heart. What I find amazing is that not only did she obey the Lord but she went the mile further to be joyful in it! just remember that the next time the Lord asks you to do something! Here is what she sang, take note of her joy for the Lord dispite her difficult sercumstances:
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” -Luke 1:46-55


     Recently I enjoyed reading a wonderful book entitled Two From Galilee by Majorie Holmes, a now out of print book. This book is at least 30 years old yet holds much treasure. The book is a novel based on the life of Mary and Joesph before they married and had baby Jesus. It was such a wonderful book and gave many details I often overlooked or didn't even think of. Things such as how it must have felt to have to journey through a busy town while about to give birth, how it feels to be mocked and scoffed at in your pain. How embarrassing it must have been. How it felt to have to stay in a stable for days on end after Jesus was born, how it felt to not have very much and need to continue to get by with food on the table {or hay in this situation-there was no table!}. These were things the book brought to life and I realized how easily we miss exciting or interesting details because we are not willing to allow our mind to "travel" there. So this Christmas I encourage you to study the life of Mary, delve into the details and imagine how it felt, dear sisters, what it must have been like! It definitely brings the Christmas story to life!


~*~


We can certainly learn much from the humble life of Mary. She truly took a life that most would consider insignificant and used it to the fullest for the Lord's glory. I encourage you to further study Mary's life in depth during this Christmas season, you will be inspired, amazed and in awe of what you find! May the Lord bless you an yours this Christmas!
Rejoicing in Jesus birth, both now & always,
~Bethany Ann

Friday, December 9, 2011

Grace at Home

In the twinkling light of Christmas' close arrival, we thought it quite apropos to share a few of our favorite pass-times which occupy us during the season of Christmas. One of our very favorite ways to spread Christmas cheer is to have an abundance of handmade lovelies on hand for wrapping up and giving away, or perhaps to set on a nearby table! 'Tis so much fun to light the fire, and bring your craft box down with your siblings and put things together to send to friends, or for your home while listening to Christmas Carols. We pray you will be inspired by the 'lovelies' we have compiled below! 

Blessings, 
-- Bethany & Johanna


Spicy Old-Fashioned Pomanders

You will need >>
One Medium Orange
Bottle of Whole Cloves
Masking Tape (optional)
Ribbon
Powdered Cinnamon
and Nutmeg
powdered orris root (optional)
1 nail

Start by placing the strips of masking tape around the orange to "reserve" space for the ribbon. Make one circle around the middle of the orange or two circles at right angles to each other. Now stick cloves into the remaining surface. Use the nail to make holes in the orange skin, then push the long pointed ends of the cloves through the holes. Leave a little space between each clove (about the size of another clove). When the fruit is full of cloves take off the tape. Mix the spices and orris root together in a bowl and roll the pomander in the mixture. Put the pomander in a cardboard box or paper bag somewhere where it is warm and the air circulates, like a high kitchen cabinet. Every day for a week, take it down and roll it in the spice mixture. In a few weeks it will be dry. Then you can glue on the ribbon where the masking tape was. You can even add bows, dried flowers, spices, and of course a ribbon loop for hanging!

Dried Citrus Ornaments

You will need >> 
Citrus fruit such as lemons, limes and oranges
Wire ornament hanger or string
Oven

Slice citrus fruit about ¼ inch thick. Place fruit slices on cookie sheet and bake on lowest setting. Leave oven door open and flip fruit periodically. This step can take several hours and must be closely monitored. When the slices become slightly dry and rubber like to the touch, they are ready. Remove slices from oven and punch a hole near the top. Insert metal ornament hanger or string. To personalize your ornaments paint them with glitter or a frosting glaze. {Source}

Homemade Cinnamon Ornaments

You will need >>
1/2 c. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. applesauce
Mix 1/. ground cinnamon and 1/2 c. applesauce until it makes a dough. Sprinkle cinnamon on work surface and roll out dough. You can place dough between wax paper and roll out. Cut desired shapes with cookie cutters. Poke hole in shape with toothpick for hanging the ornament; for a larger hole, use a drinking straw. Place in dehydrator or 150 degree F oven until dry. Use string or ribbon to hang your ornaments.

Postscript :: please use discretion when visiting the above links; we do not claim to endorse all views.


White Christmas Pie 
{Taken from White Christmas Pie by Wanda Brunstetter, book review coming soon!:D}

  • 1 tablespoon Know gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped until stiff
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 3 {9 inch} baked pie shells
In a small bowl soak gelatin in cold water, set aside. In a saucepan, mix 1/2 cup of the sugar, flour, salt and milk. Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture come to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, remove from heat. Stir in gelatin. Cool. when partially set, beat until smooth. Blend in vanilla, almond extract, and whipped cream. In a separate bowl beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff. Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold in gelatin mixture, and the flaked cocnut. Place in pie shells and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Makes 2 9-inch pies.

Little BABY on the hay,
Soon there'll be another day
When NAILS SHALL PIERCE
Your hands and feet
As You provide our SIN'S DEFEAT.
RISEN JESUS on the Throne,
WE LIFT OUR PRAISE TO YOU ALONE-
For YOU'RE the gift that we receive
The moment that our HEARTS BELIEVE.
{Roy Lessin}

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Giveaway {Spoonfuls of Sugar} + Product Review

Greetings, daughters of His grace! Today Reflections of Grace is back with our monthly giveaway! Today we have a very special shop feature/giveaway and the shop owner has also so generously allowed us to review an item from her shop! So lets get started!

About The Etsy Shop ::


This months lovely shop sponsor is Spoonfuls of Sugar! Owned and managed by Miss Corina. Lets take a look into her lovely shop!

Burnt Edge Tiered Headband - GOLD beads
{Listing}
Braided Spiral Headband
{Listing}
Three-in-a-Row Headband : Black/Pink
{Listing}

PINK Zipper Flower Headband
{Listing}

The Product Review ::


Miss Corina was so sweet to allow me {Bethany} to review one of her pretty headbands! I choose this lovely pink one. I got great service and the headband was very quickly and efficiently mailed.






The headband and the flower were securely sewed onto each other to make sure they stay in place. Since I've got long, thick hair {my hair touches my elbows} this headband is perfect for something that isn't too big but it still feminine and pretty and keeps my hair out of my face, yet allows it to be down. I just love it and would definitely recommend this shop and the products it sells to anyone! Thank you so much, Corina for letting me review this lovely headband!!!


The Giveaway ::
Today Corina is going to give away a lovely scarf-and the winner will get to choose their color! Here are the available colors to choose from:

Circle of Fringes-WHITE
Circle of Fringes-BLACK
Circle of Fringes-BLUE

Circle of Fringes-PINK

Circle of Fringes-GREEN

How To Enter ::
{Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry, or it won't count}

MANDATORY:: Follow Reflections of Grace publicly.
  • Post the giveaway on your blog {leave your link}.
  • Spend a moment in prayer for our ministry.
  • Visit Spoonfuls of Sugar and let us know your favorite item. 
  • Heart Spoonfuls of Sugar on Etsy {For those of you who have an Etsy account}
  • Follow An Old-Fashioned Girl {Johanna's personal blog} publicly.
Additional Information :: Please leave a way for us to contact you in each of your comments (blog address, email, etsy user name, etc). Giveaway ends at noon, on the 30th of December, and {Lord willingly} the winner will be announced the following day!

Blessings,
~Bethany Ann & Johanna Rose~