Thursday, July 3, 2014

A 4th of July Tale

 

forth of july
                          I hope that you have a very happy Fourth of July! 

What a day to celebrate!  If you been here before, you may know that I’m from the South and have an interest in history, so here’s a little southern historical tale for you. 

Did you know that an entire southern town didn’t celebrate Independence Day, even in my lifetime?  If you lived in Vicksburg, Mississippi, oh, say, 38 or more years ago, you would still have to go to work on Independence Day, you would still walk down your driveway when you arrived home and find mail in your mailbox, and you likely wouldn’t anticipate a local fireworks display that evening. 

By now, this might seem like a tale for sure, but it’s not a fictional one. 

You see, this lack of enthusiasm wasn’t because Vicksburg had a problem with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  No, they just had harsh memories to deal with, and each 4th of July was a painful reminder. 

As you probably already know, Vicksburg played an important role in the Civil War.  So much that President Abraham Lincoln believed that whoever held “the key” to the city would be victorious in controlling the Mississippi River, which was a vital waterway for both the North and the South .  As a result, the Union’s General Ulysses S. Grant was a man on a mission, beginning in the spring of 1862, when he set out to clear a trail to Vicksburg.

Long story short, it took more than a year for Grant and his troops to reach the doorsteps of their Vicksburg destination.  Familiar with victory and defeat, their campaign took another unwelcomed turn after two attempts to crash Confederate Army lines failed.  But the brave in blue arched around the scenic city that stood hedged within river and bluffs, settling in for a siege, as they starved the people of Vicksburg out.  Forty-seven long days later, their plan was successful.

Confederate Army General John Pemberton strategically surrendered Vicksburg to General Grant, on July 4, 1863.  The hope was that by surrendering on Independence Day, the Union would have mercy on them.  Apparently, that is just what happened.  The southern army was paroled rather than taken captive, and the Union shared their food with the starving folks of Vicksburg.

Like leaven in dough, accounts of great suffering were passed from one generation to the next.  So from that infamous day forward, Vicksburg did not celebrate Independence Day until the Allies won WW II.  However, as the years passed, the celebrating fizzled out and didn’t revive again until our nation’s Bicentennial in 1976.  The folks of Vicksburg got their celebration on once again.  And now, if anyone unwittingly were to walk down their driveway to check their mail on the 4th of July, well, they would find their mailbox empty, which might serve as a reminder that they better hurry and fire-up the BBQ, because the fireworks extravaganza on the Mighty Mississippi begins at sundown.   

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cheater’s Grilled Chicken, Pasta, and Veggies Dish

 

Chicken and Pasta Dish


Laziness, on occasion, can generate invention. :) And this dish is definitely a way that you can be lazy about cooking, and yet have a yummy meal. 

You will need a box of Pasta Roni Angel Hair Pasta,pr_AngelHairPastaHerbs 

grilled chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A, a large onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, milk and butter.  Now your all set. 

Directions:

1. Cook pasta with milk and butter, according to package directions. (Careful not to cook too long because pasta continues to cook even off of the burner.)
2. Sauté chopped onion and bell pepper; salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from skillet and set aside.
3.  In the same skillet, sauté mushrooms.  Add to onions and peppers.  

Dish up pasta, and top with the grilled chicken nuggets and veggies.  Garnish with a little parsley, if desired, and then dig in ‘cause that’s all there is too it! 
 
For those RARE days that I behave myself eating low carb, I just forgo the pasta and it still makes for a tasty and satisfying meal.  Zucchini, or barely sautéed sliced tomatoes make good additions, too.  A sprinkling of red pepper flakes add a nice kick.   
 
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Do You Believe That, or Believe In?


Sometimes we might call ourselves Christians, but are we, in the true sense of the word?

Do we consider ourselves Christians because of the traditions that we were taught?  Or assume that we qualify because we assent intellectually to the facts?  Do we think that we are heaven bound because we go to church and live good, moral lives?  All are good, but let’s take a closer look:

There is a difference between believing that and believing in.

Believing that:

Jesus is a historical fact   
Jesus was a great man; a wise man  
Jesus had a following and was crucified
(Hardly anyone would dispute these truths.)

Believing “that”, doesn’t give us eternal life in heaven.  However, believing “in” Jesus does.     

Believing in:

Jesus the Son of God, and although our human minds may not fully understand, Jesus is God
Jesus’ death on the cross as complete payment of our sin debt, thereby removing the barrier between us and God
Jesus’ resurrection on the third day and trusting that through faith in Him, we have eternal life (faith meaning that we believe what He tells us in His Word and that He will do just what He says He will do.  He will keep His promises because God is NOT a liar.)


Those that believe in have made a deliberate decision to trust the Lord and follow His ways.  

Only those that believe in, are in the true sense of the word, Christians.  Will you choose to belong to Jesus and secure your future, today?

Just as I am

Need help?  Follow this scripture roadmap to salvation:

”For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23

Sin separates us from God.  But God made a way to Him by sending His Son Jesus, who took the punishment for our sins, because He loves us so.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

The only way to have forgiveness is through God’s only begotten Son, Jesus.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

God proved Jesus is His Son and that He accepted His death on the cross as the way for us to have eternal life by raising Him from the dead on the third day.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
  Romans 10:9-10

Jesus invites us, but He also warns us:

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3:36

So we see in the verse above how important this decision is.  Once we make the decision to believe in Him, we must also choose to allow Him to be Lord of of our lives.  It doesn’t mean that we will live perfect lives, but that we will sit in the backseat, so to speak, and let Him do the driving.     

“And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”  2 Corinthians 5:15

So what will you choose today? 

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock:  if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”   Revelation 3:20

By believing Jesus as our Savior, turning away from our sins, and making Him Lord of our lives, we can truly call ourselves Christians – true followers of Christ.  Will you pray a simple prayer and open the door of your heart to Jesus by asking Him to save you?  

It’s as simple as A B CAdmit you are a sinner
                                  Believe in Jesus as your Savior
                                  Commit your life to Him
     

Roadmap to Salvation

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Long Lived The Queen


I kind of have a thing for history.  I kind of have a thing for Victorian decorating.  I kind of have a thing for the Victorian Era.  Kind of would be better translated, I LOVE those times! 

But this post isn’t about me, it’s about Queen Victoria. 

 Queen Victoria
Now, even if history makes your eyes glaze over, and even if you think the ornate Victorian style is overdone, you still might enjoy this post. :) 

And besides, it’s in honor of Queen Victoria’s birthday.    

The Duchess of Kent and Victoria (soon to be Queen Victoria)She was born May 24, 1819, which, according to my calculator app :), that makes her 195 years old.

The English monarchy was in a sad state of affairs when the Duchess of Kent gave birth to Victoria.  And without boring you with lengthy details, the reason why is simple:

It was under the rule of immoral leadership.

As proven time and time again in history, from ancient times to the present, God does not bless immorality.  


This royal baby that was born at 4:15 a.m., would in merely 18 years, begin to carry out a legacy reigning as queen for 63 years and 7 months, which puts her in place of having the longest female monarchy in all of history.
 At only 11 years old, Alexandrina Victoria resolved that her reign would be different from her predecessors, declaring “I will be good.”Young Queen Victoria 

During her reign, she caused the people’s view of the monarchy to shift from contempt to admiration.  

Thriving under her honest rule, Great Britain reached the height of its glory.

It expanded in:
Wealth
Geographical dominion
Manufacturing achievements
Cultural achievements
Economic progress

Marriage rate and birth rates
Environmental and health standards

Mortality rates decreased.

God blesses God honoring nations! 

In Revelations 3, God’s Word refers to this time period as “The Church of Philadelphia.”  The church of Philadelphia was the church of opportunity and took place in the 18th - 19th centuries. 

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write;  These things saith he that is holy…I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”  Rev. 3: 7-8

The popular Queen Victoria recognized the source of her success. 

A visiting African chief once asked her the secret to England’s greatness.  

NPG 4969; 'The Secret of England's Greatness' (Queen Victoria presenting a Bible in the Audience Chamber at Windsor)

Oh, she could have taken him to see the great wealth and gleaming jewels, the brilliant orators in Parliament…  But she didn’t. 

But what she did do is why I am her fan. 

She presented him with a Bible, explaining to him that God’s Word is the secret of England’s greatness. 

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience…”  Rev. 3:10 

Queen Victoria represented and characterized the mindset of the middleclass 19th century English. 

In general, they were a God honoring society, God’s Word was of the utmost importance to them, and they took a stand when the Bible was attacked.  They were virtuous, loved morality, and they understood the importance of setting a good example. 

It’s my prayer that we do the same. 

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14

Blessings, my friend.  I hope that you are enjoying these first bits of summer!   

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Ramblings…and Explosions…


Is it just me, or does it seem as if we all only recently took down our Christmas trees, and here it is already April!

April 2014

Time is flying by, yet plenty is happening.  Warm days and cold, bright days and stormy…

My dear Uncle from my mom’s side died unexpectedly.  It’s still kind of hard to believe.  He died on the exact day of my grandmother’s death (his mother) 16 years before, which was really something.  We will miss him, terribly so, but we can also rejoice because not only has he gone to be with the Lord, and his mom and dad, but also his much loved son that lived only 20 years.  You might recall mention of them in my post “My Cousin had a Pet Alligator.” 

On a more cheery note, a dear friend gave birth to a sweet baby girl.  Several households of us sat up all night waiting with anticipation.  Grandmamma and Auntie kept us all informed with text and Instagram.  My oldest daughter was in another household a couple of hundred miles away, yet we all still got to share the excitement.  Oh how we breathed a sigh of relief when we got word that Mom and Baby were safe.  She is such a little doll and bringing much joy!

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Another dear friend got a big surprise with the discovery of their fourth little one on the way.  I believe God loves to give His children surprises, just like we love to surprise our children with special gifts!

This is a birthday season for us, so there has been lots of surprises and gifts in the works around our household.  I’ve also found some great little surprises at thrift stores recently.  This vintage Betty Crocker Cook Book was one such treasure that I couldn’t pass up.

Vintage Betty Crocker Cookbook

And also, for my youngest daughter’s hope chest, 36 cups and 36 saucers featuring delicate little roses in her favorite shade, violet, were a fun find.  All for only $20! 

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Children do grow up so fast.  Since she turned 16, she got to try her hand at driving…DRIVING…MY BABY!!!

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Have I mentioned that I’m not READY!?

We all got a little surprise while we celebrated her birthday when the candles on her ice cream cake were lit.  We I didn’t pay attention to the packaging, so…   

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It went like this:

“Uh Mom, why are my candles sparking.” 

“Oh, it’ll be fine.  Look at me,” I casually said as I snapped pics. 

More sparks…then lots more…as if she had sparklers on her cake…
Wait, what?…

Blow…blow….BLOW… by several of us without success as another grabbed for candle packaging and read…

The packaging may as well have said FOOLED YOU!  But it didn’t exactly.  Only it was clearly labeled “trick candles,” which I failed to notice, AND, in addition it said “no more than 10 candles per cake…” 

She had sixteen, being that it was her 16th birthday and all… WHOOPS!

Hubby grabs them ONE at a time and runs to the kitchen sink…with HOT fingers, I might add.

You can imagine how quickly he was moving, but to the rest of us it seemed as if he were in slow motion while her cake flamed and sputtered.  One at a time wasn’t getting it, since the sink wasn’t right next to the cake.  But none of the rest of us had the courage to grab them so we just all stood and WATCHED…   

Leave it to me to nearly catch the house on fire on a very special birthday…

But not all was lost…

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And the icing on the cake - well not the fire hazard ice cream cake (good thing she had two cakes this year and believe me, no trick candles on the second one!) - was that with her birthday money and a significant amount of work saving up, she finally got to buy her much anticipated laptop.  My diligent girl is good at saving. 

And she can cypher too!

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And much to my delight she has already finished up her physics book for the school year.  At this rate, she will get to enjoy a good amount of time off for summer break.  Although her pencils usually need sharpening, and last week her history textbook seemed to have dropped off the planet, I have not one doubt that she will still get the job done.  My little history buff, she is!

She got a chance to attend a Civil War reenactment several weeks ago which she always loves. 

American Civil War Reenactment

And if you ask me, she was the bell of the ball at the reenactment ball, in spite of our last minute attempt to throw together an 1860’s costume with no plan whatsoever…

The cannons at the reenactment weren’t the only explosions happening.

sunflare in window

No cannon balls came flying through the windows, and nope, not from the trick candles; Smile with tongue out 

just the furniture…  Who knew that my baby getting a laptop would somehow cause us to need to rearrange our entire house!  Does that ever happen to you?  I mean one tiny thing leads to another and another…

The desktop computer found a more discreet location in a different room with the arrival of her laptop,

which caused the TV to move to a better looking spot in the family room,

which caused a few chairs to be relocated,

which caused curtains and chairs to clash,

which caused… I could go on but I won’t. 

Needless to say, after a while, hubby and son looked about like the reenactment guy that is playing dead in my picture above. :)

Well, it’s a wonder that Pinterest hasn’t exploded, with the pinning rampage that I have been on lately (you can find me here)!

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That just about sums up life in the Smith household this spring, I think.  What you been up to? Signature

Monday, March 31, 2014

“I’ll Get It!”

 

300px-Ringtone_symbol.svgOh all the rings and dings in our lives these days... Sometimes I'm glad for them, and then sometimes, well, not so much.

Last night my daughter's tablet sent her its little "fairy ring," alerting her of something or the other. I watched as she responded to it quicker than her knee jumps when the doctor checks her reflexes. But, she was eating her supper.  A casual one, with us all gathered around the TV eating various pickins' from the kitchen, hers being her favorite frozen pizza.

This brief observation of her automatic response got me thinking how all the alert sounds of our gadgets have trained us so well to respond swiftly.

Would that describe how we respond to God when we "hear" His prompts in our hearts?

With further observation, I saw her extinguish her automatic response, because she was enjoying that pizza that was cooked to a crisp, just how she likes it.

run to phoneWay back when, in my growing up years, if the phone rang, we answered it. Without question. In this day and age of answering machines, voice mail, caller ID, screening calls is definitely an option. If I am in the middle of something, I'm inclined to not so much as check to see who is calling.

It's now so easy to ignore and screen calls. Do we do the same to the Lord?

Like those times when He sends a caution to our hearts to not do a certain thing, but yet our desire to move forward and do it anyway is so strong that we ignore the ring of God's call...

The next time I get a "God ring," alerting me of something or the other, I hope that I respond as quickly as my daughter initially did to her device. And as we all know, screening His calls is definitely not the best plan! Answering every call. Without question. Now that's the way to go!

                                                                  Hugs my friends!Signature

Monday, March 3, 2014

When We’re Lacking…

 

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An elated caller’s voice praised God with all her heart as my little sweetie and I zipped down the interstate, heading to a ballet lesson.  The voice on the radio was exuberantly joyful.  What great thing had happened to make her on such a high?  No, she hadn’t come into an unexpected fortune, which you might would have guessed if you had heard her excitement - twenty dollars was what this was all about.  She had been jobless and was finally hired.  But it was a long way from home – one-hundred plus miles away from home.  She had enough gas money to get there, but had to tap into her faith in God to get home.  On her way back, as gas was looking low, she scrambled around in her car, and managed to come up with three dollars and some change.  That amount of gas dwindled quickly.  As she wondered what to do next, she chose to trust God.  With the next stop, she saw a car that said “MERCY” on the license plate.  Humbly, and a bit embarrassed, she knocked on their window, briefly explaining that she was trying to get home and if they could just perhaps give her five dollars, she might could make it.  “Will this help?” the driver asked as she was handed a twenty dollar bill.

As I listened to her account, and heard the sheer euphoria in her voice as she told her story, I marveled at her thrill over that amount of money. 

I thought about one conversation of many that I had just had the day previously as someone I am close to fretted over the possibility of their finances dwindling.  Understandably so.  They are faced with some difficult decisions that may have a big impact on their financial future.  Investments, real-estate…were all part of the conversation.  A bounty really, when measured by this radio caller’s situation, was causing so much anxiety. 

This voice on the radio knew something that perhaps many miss.  She knew that she could trust God.  She could trust Him with her present, which was getting to work, and she knew that she could trust Him with her future, which was getting back home. 

I’ve seen it so often in my lifetime:

Having little can actually create a spiritual richness that few experience. 

Whether it is in finances, or health, or relationships…whatever I may be blessed with or lacking in, I hope that I remember this radio caller - her joy, her faith, her trust, her humility, her hope, her gratefulness for what the Lord blessed her with. 

And most of all, I hope that I remember that the greater blessing may be in the lacking…

Hugs, my friends.  If you haven’t heard much from me lately, it is because I’m having some computer trouble and don’t much like to type on my tablet or borrow my kids computers… :)

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Monday, February 3, 2014

February’s Focus

 

vintage-victorian-valentine

Frigid, single digit temperatures have been in our seven day forecast here and there lately, and right in the same week it is not unusual to see sixty and seventy degree weather.  Southern Februarys are notorious for this.  I’m sure you folks can relate, southerners or not.   

The inconsistency of Fickle February isn’t what we think about the most this month though; we’re more focused on love with Valentine’s Day on the horizon.

Both the erratic weather and Valentine’s Day have set my mind thinking about and evaluating the love that I have for the Lord.  Is it warm?  Cold?  Lukewarm (see Rev. 3:16)?  Inconsistent and all three?

Consider Romans 8:28 - “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”  Our minds tend to stop with the word “good” in this verse, and not notice that it applies only to those that love God.  Are we one of “them”?

Jesus gives us three simple words that will help us evaluate how we’re doing with loving Him in John 14:15 when He says “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  In John 14, Jesus tell us three times that love is equivalent to obedience.

Jesus not only gives us those three words, but He instructs us to love God in three ways:  with all our heart (our emotions), and with all our soul (the center of our personality), and with all our mind (our thoughts) ( see Matt 22:37).  A similar verse is in Deut. 6:5 – “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (all that is in us).

In John 21, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him three times.  How would you and I respond to our Savior’s question?

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Monday, January 27, 2014

A Family Fun App

Hey dear friends,

Just in case you haven’t played it, I wanted to share with you an app that is so much fun! 

Everyone in our household, from 15 to 50 (plus a little more!) has gotten addicted to playing this fast-paced word search game called Scramble with Friends by Zynga.

We play with each other on our various tablets and it has started numerous impromptu family game nights. 

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Each turn is 2 minutes long.  You make as many words as you can on a 4x4 grid by sliding your finger across the letters.  You can go any direction, as long as the letters connect.  

This game is so much fun and it’s FREE!  I got it from Amazon, but it is available other places too.

Have a great week, dear friends, and stay warm!  Looks like many of us are going to freeze!  But the good news is, spring will be here before we know it! Signature

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Poodles in Wonderland


I’ve been wanting to tell you about a project, and just in case you thought that I might have dropped off of the planet, I thought today might be a good day to post!

poodle embroidery project

This embroidery project was inspired by my daughter’s darling little gray poodle that LOVES cookies better than any critter that I have ever seen!

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So when I saw this vintage 1950’s Vogart pattern, I knew it was just the perfect project to make for my gal. 

Vogart Poodles 625

It stitched up so easy and was a lot of fun.  The hardest part was choosing floss colors!  Stitching it went quickly and I was able to surprise her, giving it as a little Christmas gift.

embroidery poodle
It was so hard to get myself to actually cut the vintage pattern that was still in mint condition, and even though I mustered up the courage, turns out that it wouldn’t iron on well due to its age.  So, I ended up tracing it.  NEXT time, I’ll know better, and not cut! :)

It framed nicely in an 8 x 10 frame, matted with a 5 x 7, although the fit was just a little tighter than I wanted.

Another Christmas gift for her was this 1930’s typewriter!  It wasn’t a surprise, since she spied it at a local antique store before I did, but it was a delightful, unexpected find just the same!

30's typewriter 

We discovered that ribbon is still available for it.  When we get some, she is going to type a few lines of Alice in Wonderland on vintage looking paper to display in the typewriter, because of another recent find.

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At a rummage sale one day, I found these collectors plates.  She is such a fan of Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland that I couldn’t pass these up.  I was so happy that it was the full set, and their condition was perfect.

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They’re a little busy, kind of wild and creepy really, but much to my surprise, they looked cute in her room - her sunny, bright room that matches her oh so sunny disposition!

It’s a crisp, sunny day here and we’re recovering from the flu.  It has taken forever, it seems, to get back on our feet, but I think the worst is behind us.  I hope you all are staying warm and well!  Have a wonderful day, my friends!

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Monday, January 6, 2014

The Little Tree


christmas_ornamentIt began with a red Christmas ornament.  A lone little tree sat on the side of a road in Brandon, Mississippi for months, after perhaps falling off of a truck or maybe being dumped out, back sometime in the summer.  The tree died, and had been there long enough that those that passed by regularly didn’t notice it anymore, if they ever did. 

Until one day, a shiny red ornament showed up on the crispy, dried branches of the little tree. 

The following day, the tree had a new addition; a strand of silver garland glistened in the sunlight as it curved around the branches, making the little tree with a sparse scattering of small brown leaves hard to miss.  Over the days ahead, morning commuters were filled with curiosity and anticipation as to what might adorn the tree next as they journeyed out to their tasks of the day.      

As darkness shrouded the night sky, bit by bit, evening by evening, town folks quietly added to the now endearing little tree, hoping to be as anonymous as those who had already taken part in embellishing it.  With smiles and laughter, families began to tell each other about the little tree. Who knew that one small action would grow and spread such merriment?

Before long, the little tree was filled with a colorful array of Christmas ornaments, bright red bows, beaded garland, and a set of solar powered lights.  Packages wrapped in festively printed Christmas paper appeared, each one nestled under the little tree.  Beside the tree, a small American flag brought patriotism to the scene, which to me, in a nutshell, represented what was happening in the Brandon community.   

This real life story makes me think of another little tree that is told about in one of my favorite childhood tales, as it probably does you.

deadtree

In light of the new year as I map out hopes and goals, the story of what happened with the little tree also makes me think about how if we each do our part, what a difference it will make.  With busy schedules, we sometimes neglect what is in our hearts to do.  But like the town’s people in Brandon, MS, if each of us do a little something, just think of all the lot of somethings that will happen, and what great things will be accomplished as a result!

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I hope that you, dear reader, had a Merry Christmas, and are off to a great start with the New Year.  Hugs to you, and thank you for the time that you have taken to read my posts and visit.

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