Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Fir Tree

The Fir Tree
By Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish writer in the nineteenth century who penned many stories like the one below. His most famous was "The Ugly Duckling." While the reality of this particular story is questioned even by the author, the truth revealed by the tale cannot be questioned. See if you agree.
In a small cottage on the borders of a forest lived a poor laborer, who gained a scanty living by cutting wood. He had a wife and two children who helped him in his work. The boy’s name was Valentine, and the girl was called Mary. They were obedient, good children, and a great comfort to their parents.

One winter evening, this happy little family was sitting quietly round the hearth, the snow and the wind raging outside, while they ate their supper of dry bread, when a gentle tap was heard on the window, and a childish voice cried from outside, "Oh, let me in, I pray! I am a poor child, with nothing to eat, and no home to go to, and I shall die of cold and hunger unless you let me in." Valentine and Mary jumped up from the table and ran to open the door, saying, "Come in, poor little child! We have not much to give you, but whatever we have we will share with you."

The stranger-child came in and warmed his frozen hands and feet at the fire, and the children gave him the best they had to eat, saying, "You must be tired, too, poor child! Lie down on our bed; we can sleep on the bench for one night."

Then said the little stranger-child, "Thank God for all your kindness to me." So they took their little guest into their sleeping-place, laid him on the bed, covered him over, and said to each other, "How thankful we ought to be! We have warm rooms and a cozy bed, while this poor child has only heaven for his roof and the cold earth for his sleeping-place."

When the father and mother went to bed, Mary and Valentine lay quite contentedly on the bench near the fire, saying, before they fell asleep, "The stranger-child will be happy tonight in his warm bed."

These kind children had not slept many hours before Mary awoke, and  softly whispered to her brother, “Valentine, dear brother, wake, and listen to the sweet music under the window.”

Then Valentine rubbed his eyes and listened. It was sweet music indeed, and sounded like beautiful voices singing to the tones of a harp:

Oh holy Child, we greet thee! Bringing
Sweet strains of harp to aid our singing.
Thou holy Child, in peace art sleeping,
While we our watch without are keeping.
Blest be the house wherein thou liest,
Happiest on earth, to heaven the nighest.

The children listened, while a solemn joy filled their hearts, then they stepped softly to the window to see who was singing.

In the east was a streak of rosy dawn, and in its light they saw a group of children standing in front of the house, clothed in sparkling garments and holding golden harps. Amazed at the sight, the brother and sister were still gazing out the window when they heard a sound behind them. Turning they discovered the stranger-child standing before them. "I am the little Christ child," he said. "I wander through the world bringing peace and happiness to children. You took me in and cared for me when you thought I was a poor child, and now you shall have my blessing for what you have done."

A fir tree grew near the little house; and from this the Christ-child broke a twig and planted it in the ground. He looked directly at Valentine and Mary and said, "This twig shall become a tree, and shall bring forth fruit year by year for you."

No sooner had he done this than he vanished, and with him the choir of angels. The fir-branch grew and became a Christmas tree, and on its branches hung golden apples and silver nuts every Christmas.

Such is the story told to German children concerning their beautiful Christmas trees, though we know that this is only a fable. The real Christ-child can never be wandering cold and homeless in our world, because he is safe in heaven by his Father’s side; yet we may gather from this story the same truth which the Bible plainly tells us--that to anyone who helps another person, it will be counted to them as if he had done it to Christ himself. "In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Family Moment

Kindness. When you think of that word, what picture comes to mind? Who or what do you think of? What have they done or said that has made you feel warm and that you mattered?

Every day, we have the chance to represent Jesus to anyone God brings our way. We can be kind in what we do, what we say, even in our body language (posture, eye contact) to others who may just want to see if their lives matter to other human souls.

Ask family members how they best express kindness.

Now, ask them how they can improve a little bit more in being kind to others.

An Advent Prayer

Dear kind Lord, thank you that kindness is part of your character from which we can learn. You were kind to everyone who needed kindness. You reached out to touch  those who needed your touch; you said the right words to those who were hurting; you showed by every action in your life that people were more important than anything else on earth. Help us to learn from the examples you set for us, but help us to learn this lesson best. We want to be kind to others, for in doing so, we show we are  being kind to you. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Phase #9- CDAC Progressive Challenge

Good morning! I have been so anxious to share this card with you, I am using the Button Bear by DigiStamps4Joy and the Snow Globe by Crafty Ann's for this card. Both images are available in this round of The Progressive Challenge at CDAC.

This card was completely digitally made, the coloring, the decorated tree the bubble over the Snow Globe to give it depth......all of it!! This is the first time  I have colored my entire image digitally and I am tickled with the way it turned out, especially the paper piecing for the bears feet and bow! As you can see they match the background paper! :)  The flower however has nothing to do with the computer!!!

The petals of the poinsettia were drawn out and then cut out, adding the veins by pen and then put together as the Christmas flower! Fun!!! The leaves were done the same way using green paper instead of  red, a very simple yet effective way to make your own poinsettia. A touch of stickles in the center finish it off. 

The inside shows the Button Bear without the Snow Globe.
The ornaments on the tree as well as the garland are all Paint Shop Pro picture tubes. They were each placed on the tree separately and then the various layers were merged so I could move them around all together. I think the tree turned out great and does a good job showing off this image and shows what is possible with a little patience!
Here is a close up of the inside Christmas Recipe which finishes off the card. This was a fantastically fun project, mainly because I learned a lot about my photo editing program and how I could use it to showcase an image digitally. I hope you will give this a try. I love to color and use pencils, paints, markers, inks and every possible way to bring an image to life, but for this card I like the way the computer helped me achieve these results. Here is one more look    :)
Thank you for stopping by, a very Merry Christmas to each of you. May your holidays be Blessed by the One's whose birthday we celebrate!!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Snow Birds

This image is from Doodle Pantry, it is called Everyday Birdie and was one of the images for this phase of The Progressive Challenge at CDAC.  I wanted to tie this image into the holiday season so decided to make this sweet chick a snow bird. I hope you enjoy this project and that you will join us for this phase of the Challenge, you still have three days to play along!!

Be sure to check out Doodle Pantry, come join us at CDAC and for goodness sake play along in the Progressive Challenge!!
thanks for stopping in!!!

Cupcake Craft Challenges-Don't Look at the Light
Make My Monday-Red Ribbon
Anya and Friends-Anything Goes

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Teach the Children

In honor of my two precious grandsons!

Teach the children...
Late one Christmas Eve, I sank back, tired but content, into my easy chair. The kids were in bed, the gifts were wrapped, the milk and cookies waited by the fireplace for Santa. As I sat back admiring the tree with its decorations, I couldn't help feeling that something important was missing. It wasn't long before the tiny twinkling tree lights lulled me to sleep.
I don't know how long I slept, but all of a sudden I knew that I wasn't alone. I opened my eyes, and you can imagine my surprise when I saw Santa Claus himself standing next to my Christmas tree. He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot just as the poem described him, but he was not the "jolly old elf" of Christmas legend. The man who stood before me looked sad and disappointed, and there were tears in his eyes.
"Santa, what's wrong?" I asked, "Why are you crying?"
"It's the children," Santa replied sadly.
"But Santa, the children love you," I said.
"Oh, I know they love me, and they love the gifts I bring them," Santa said, "but the children of today seem to have somehow missed out on the true spirit of Christmas. It's not their fault. It's just that the adults, many of them not having been taught themselves, have forgotten to teach the children."
"Teach them what?" I asked.
Santa's kind old face became soft, more gentle. His eyes began to shine with something more than tears. He spoke softly. "Teach the children the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them that the part of Christmas we can see, hear, and touch is much more than meets the eye. Teach them the symbolism behind the customs and traditions of Christmas which we now observe. Teach them what it is they truly represent."
Santa reached into his bag and pulled out a tiny Christmas tree and set it on my mantle. "Teach them about the Christmas tree. Green is the second color of Christmas. The stately evergreen, with its unchanging color, represents the hope of eternal life in Jesus. Its needles point heavenward as a reminder that mankind's thoughts should turn heavenward as well."
Santa reached into his bag again and pulled out a shiny star and placed it at the top of the small tree. "The star was the heavenly sign of promise. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of that promise on the night that Jesus Christ was born. Teach the children that God always fulfills His promises, and that wise men still seek Him."
"Red," said Santa, "is the first color of Christmas." He pulled forth a red ornament for the tiny tree. "Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the color of the life-giving blood that flows through our veins. It is the symbol of God's greatest gift. Teach the children that Christ gave His life and shed His blood for them that they might have eternal life. When they see the color red, it should remind them of that most wonderful Gift."
Santa found a silver bell in his pack and placed it on the tree. "Just as lost sheep are guided to safety by the sound of the bell, it continues to ring today for all to be guided to the fold. Teach the children to follow the true Shepherd, who gave His life for the sheep."
Santa placed a candle on the mantle and lit it. The soft glow from its one tiny flame brightened the room. "The glow of the candle represents how people can show their thanks for the gift of God's Son that Christmas Eve long ago. Teach the children to follow in Christ's foot steps... to go about doing good. Teach them to let their light so shine before people that all may see it and glorify God. This is what is symbolized when the twinkling lights shine on the tree like hundreds of bright, shining candles, each of them representing one of God's precious children, their light shining for all to see."
Again Santa reached into his bag and this time he brought forth a tiny red and white striped cane. As he hung it on the tree he spoke softly. "The candy cane is a stick of hard white candy: white to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock the foundation of the church, and the firmness of God's promises. The candy cane is in the form of a 'J' to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth. It also represents the Good Shepherd's crook, which He uses to reach down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray. The original candy cane had three small red stripes, which are the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed, and a large red stripe that represents the shed blood of Jesus, so that we can have the promise of eternal life."
"Teach these things to the children."
Santa brought out a beautiful wreath made of fresh, fragrant greenery tied with a bright red bow. "The bow reminds us of the bond of perfection, which is love. The wreath embodies all the good things about Christmas for those with eyes to see and hearts to understand. It contains the colors of red and green and the heaven-turned needles of the evergreen. The bow tells the story of good will towards all and its color reminds us of Christ's sacrifice. Even its very shape is symbolic, representing eternity and the eternal nature of Christ's love. It is a circle, without beginning and without end. These are the things you must teach the children."
I asked, "But where does that leave you, Santa?"
The tears gone now from his eyes, a smile broke over Santa's face. "Why bless you, my dear," he laughed, "I'm only a symbol myself. I represent the spirit of family fun and the joy of giving and receiving. If the children are taught these other things, there is no danger that I'll ever be forgotten."
"I think I'm beginning to understand."
"That's why I came," said Santa. "You're an adult. If you don't teach the children these things, then who will?"
(Author Unknown)

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MMSC 134- Midnight Challenge

This weeks's "YOUR PICK" Make it fancy, clean and simple, or somewhere in-between. Remember to click on the sneak peek button on the side bar for the following weeks sketch each Friday.
Due to me being out of town, I we will be posting two challenges together and it will last for OVER two weeks. Have fun and here are MMSC133 and MMSC134 to play with.
Please Note: We will resume the Midnight Madness sketch challenges with MMSC135 in 2012. Stay tuned for some changes coming in the new year! Happy Holidays Everyone!
Winners will be announced when I return. ~Priscilla

Enter one style or both for the next two week.
You are more than  welcome to enter up to 4 cards during the next couple of weeks.
Just have fun and come play with us :)
Using MMSC134 as my guide here is my card for this week! Hope you enjoy!
This precious bear is from last years Christmas images, I just love working with this image so decided to bring him back for this season! He is called Christmas Bear and you can find him here!  I colored him using Prismacolors and baby oil.

The background paper I made from a psp tube, the frame, and the stripped paper as well as the embellishments are all digital. I printed the leaves and berries off and cut them out and popped them up for dimension.

The inside is a computer generated greeting and then the poem I copied and printed. The border is a strip of the paper from the background paper on the front.  Really a fun card to make!!

Visit Priscilla's Store for all you digi needs!

Creative Card Crew -Tis the Season
Papertake Weekly -Anything Goes
Forever Friends -It's All Christmas
Heart 2 Heart -Photo Inspiration

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Friday, December 2, 2011

The Parable of the Shopper

 The Parable of the Shopper
Author unknown

My feet were tired, my hands cold, my arms exhausted from the weight of the packages, and it was beginning to snow. The bus was late. I kept rearranging my packages, trying to hold them in a different way in order to give my poor arms a rest. I still remember that day as if it were yesterday, and yet fifteen years have gone by. Nevertheless, when Christmas rolls around, I remember that day on the bus.

I was tired. I had been Christmas shopping all day long. When the bus finally arrived, it was packed with holiday shoppers in the same exhausted mood as I. I sank into the only vacant place, near the back, by a handsome gentleman. He politely helped me to situate my packages and even held some of them himself.

"My goodness," he said, "did you leave any merchandise still in the stores for the rest of us?"

"I don't think so," I moaned. "Worst of all, I still haven't made all of my purchases."

The woman in the seat behind us joined in my grief and added, "No, the worst thing is that the day after Christmas we will be carrying this same armload back to the store to exchange it."

Her comment brought a general chuckle from all those within earshot, including my seat mate. As the laughter subsided, he began in a quiet, melodious voice, deepened with experience, to teach me a lesson that I have never forgotten:

"Hear now the parable of the shopper," he said, speaking gently and indicating my packages. "A woman went forth to shop, and as she shopped, she carefully planned. Each child's desires were considered. The hard-earned money was divided, and the many purchases were made with the pure joy and delight that is known only to the giver. Then the gifts were wrapped and placed lovingly under the tree. In eager anticipation she scanned each face as the gifts were opened."

"'What a lovely sweater,' said the eldest daughter, 'but I think I would prefer blue. I suppose I can exchange it?'

"'Thank you for the cassette player, Mother. It's just what I wanted,' said her son. And then aside, secretly to his sister, he continued, 'I told her I wanted the one with the automatic reverse and an extra speaker. I never get what I want!'

"The youngest child spoke out with the spoiled honesty of her age, 'I hate rag dolls! I wanted a china doll. I won't play with it!' And the doll, still in the box, was kicked under the couch."

"One gift still lay under the tree. The woman pointed it out to her husband. 'Your gift is still there.'

"'I'll open it when I have the time,' he stated. 'I want to get this bike put together first.'

"How sad it is," continued his soft, beautiful voice. "When gifts are not received in the same spirit they are given. To reject a thoughtful gift is to reject the loving sentiment of the giver himself. And yet, are we not all sometimes guilty of rejecting?"

He was talking not only to me, but to all of those on the bus. They had all gathered around. The bus was parked.

He took a present from my stack.

"This one," he said, holding it up and pretending to open the card, "could be to you." He pointed to a rough-looking, teenage boy in a worn denim jacket and pretended to read the gift card. "To you I give My life, lived perfectly, as an example so that you might see the pattern and live worthy to return and live with Me again. Merry Christmas from the Messiah."

"This one," he said, holding up a pure, white present, "is for you." He held out the gift to a worn-looking woman, who in earlier years must have been a real beauty. She read the card out loud and allowed her tears to slip without shame down her painted face. "My gift to you is repentance. This Christmas I wish you to know for certain that though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Signed, your Advocate with the Father."

"That isn't all. No, here is a big, red package." he looked around the group and brought a ragged, unkempt, little child forward. "This package would be for you if He were here. The card would say, 'On this Christmas and always, My gift to you is love. From your brother, Jesus.'"

"One final gift," said my seat mate. "The greatest of all the gifts of God--Eternal life!"

He held our minds and our hearts. We were a hungry audience. Though our shopping had left us drained, now we were being filled by his words.

"How we receive these gifts, these precious gifts from the Babe of Bethlehem, is the telling point. Are we exchangers?" he asked. "Is there really anything else we would rather have? It is what we do with a gift long after we have opened it that shows our true appreciation."

With those words he was gone. That was fifteen years ago, only a wink in time. But not even an eternity could erase the sermon, or the man.

Family Moment

We hear so often the phrase "Jesus died for me" that sometimes we forget the purpose of salvation isn't just to be glad our souls are safe for eternity; it's to follow Jesus's example--give ourselves to others. That's what the Scripture talks about in 2 Kings, and that's what Christ did for us.

The truth is, we were saved from something for something.

As a family, you can create a giving experience by going to a homeless shelter or making sandwiches to pass out, and this is a good thing to do. But what if this year you prayed for God to send a giving experience? God is more than able to answer and would delight at your willingness to be a blessing in the life of another soul--or many souls--whom he loves.

An Advent Prayer

Our Father in heaven, thank you for being the gift that holds families together, even over time and distance. Is there someone I know who needs the present and the presence of Jesus in their home this Christmas? Is there a stranger? Please show me who. I  want more than ever to give your love to those who need it. You gave yourself for me when I needed it. Help me to do the same. In the name of Jesus, amen.

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