Sunday, December 10, 2023

Let Every Heart Prepare

 


For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. ~Isaiah 9:6-7


By this time in December, I expect you have at least some, if not all, of your decorations up and ready for the coming of Christmas Day.  It has been several years since Danny and I put up a tree; without family coming to visit, it didn't seem as meaningful to do so.  But this year, we buy a 7' artificial tree to replace our monstrous one that Danny has had for over 32 years!  Fewer decorations, yes, but tasteful and manageable all at the same time.





The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, framed by our mantlepiece garland.




And what home would be complete without an Advent calendar?



Hung in anticipation of Christmas cards on the way.


I'm still preparing mine for mailing.


I'm wondering, in this economy, we will even receive many cards this year.  I can always hope, and time will tell.

Last, but never least, our Nativity scene adorns the hearth of our fireplace.



May each and every one of you enjoy the peace and rest that the Advent season invites you to enter, and prepare your hearts for the joyful arrival of our Lord and Savior, Christ the King.

Amen!

54 comments:

  1. I have a stack of cards to write out...it's just been a little difficult emotionally (just keeping it real). I love your tree, we keep saying we are going to get a smaller one, and the one we have had for over 30 yrs will not last etc...nope...still have the big one. smiles--wishing you a beautiful day, friend.

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    1. I hear you, Linda - the holidays can be emotional for a whole load of reasons, and I know it can't be easy for your husband and you. We are really enjoying our new tree, too. Hope you can find a smaller one down the road.
      Love and blessings!

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  2. Your tree is lovely!! I see what looks like some vintage ornaments and wonder if they belonged to your parents or if they were yours. I love the old ones. And your nativity scene is gorgeous!!! I love the fireplace mantel/stockings, and your Advent Calendar is so fun. I am just beginning to work on my cards. I've already received two from other bloggers, so I know I need to get a move on! I know, it is getting very expensive to send cards and it didn't help that Walmart didn't even carry any boxes of cards this year. Thankfully I was able to order some online and they came right away. I will try to remember that for next year and plan ahead a little better. (famous last words). LOL. Praying you and yours will have a blessed and peaceful Christmas. Yes, Jesus IS the reason for the season!!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment here, Pamela! The ornaments aren't vintage - they are designed by Piconi, and they do have the illusion of being older than they are. We really love them!
      I finally got my cards finished over the weekend and will mail them out today. When I read your blog about not being able to find boxed cards at Walmart, I was really surprised. I needed some extras, too, and did find some cute ones at Walgreen's. Next year, however, I'm going to order them early.
      Enjoy this most wonderful season of the year!
      Love and blessings!

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  3. I gave up the struggle with real Christmas trees a couple of decades ago. Our artificial tree has some age on it, but it is stil; serving its purpose. How it's decorated over the years has changed a bit. We still have a few ornaments from our first tree in 1973 -- hand-painted wooden ornaments from a Sears kit. But the decorations reflect children, grandchildren, vacations, neighbors, and friends -- it's become a kind of memory tree.

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    1. I do love how you've saved your ornaments over the years, Glynn, and they bring back so many great memories for Janet and you. Those are the best! I do have some other ornaments, but they didn't make it onto the tree this year - maybe next?
      Love and blessings!

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  4. We all have out little traditions. In our house we have always put up a real Christmas tree we have bought, one with roots so we can either pot it on for next year or put it in the garden to grow on. Though my two lads are adults now I still hang a stocking on their beds, (they live at home) and my wife started putting a stocking on our bed over 40 years ago when we first got married. they have been filled with goodies ever sence. Christmas does not seem like it used to be.

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    1. I grew up with a fresh tree every year, Billy, but when Danny and I got married, he already had the artificial one, so we've just stayed with it. I do miss the smell of spruce, though. Nice to know that you buy a tree that still has roots so it can be replanted.
      I do like that you continue to hang stockings; some traditions are just hard to give up, aren't they?
      Love and blessings!

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  5. It all looks perfect, Martha! Somehow years ago my family ornaments were lost/misplaced, never to be seen again. I only hope they bless whoever found them. Aside from a raggedy Angel, we elected to leave our tree bare and simply enjoy the twinkling lights.

    PS - I can't stop staring at your beautiful river rock fireplace. I had one very similar back in West Texas that I loved. You've created a most welcoming home!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words here, Myra! Losing beloved ornaments can be so troubling and sad. In cleaning out my mother's home, Danny and I never came across the ones she had; I'm wondering, to this day, what became of them. A while back, I gave some of the ornaments my kids grew up with to my daughter. I think she's still using them.
      Yes, I adore our fireplace! It really is quite unique.
      Love and blessings!

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  6. Thank you so much for inviting us into your beautifully decorated home, Martha. If for no one else, the tree was a means of passing the blessing and warmth of your home to us who celebrate this miraculous and monumental step in the redemptive plan of God for all of us. As a bonafide country redneck, I love the colored lights. A decade or two ago, nearly everyone around us in the area we lived in shifted over to white lights only. I felt like it was Christmas decorating heresy but Diane thought it looked clean and elegant--neither of which had anything to do with my general approach to life. Eventually, though, she'd let me put some of my gaudy looking colored lights back up. When we moved down here to middle Tennessee a few years ago, (unlike the staying power of Danny's tree) our old one was worn out and not worth dragging along with us. Our new, high tech model lets us change from all white to gaudy with the touch of a button---now I can sing, "Joyful, Joyful, we adore thee" with an added dose of enthusiasm :). Thanks, my spiritual sister, for the visit and for standing up for the truth in this season where delusion and deception reign in so many ways.

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  7. I'm so glad you accepted my invitation, Ron! Since this is a new tree, it is also equipped to do the light switch from colored to white. How much fun is that? Although I have to agree that white lights give a more elegant feel, the colored ones evoke a true sense of "merry and bright." Growing up, all we had were colored lights, so they bring back great memories for me.
    I am wishing both Diane and you the happiest of Christmases!
    Love and blessings!

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  8. We had an artificial tree the first Christmas we spent in our home. We gave it to a single mother with four children after the trailer they lived in burnt. We also gave her most of the decorations we had amassed over the years.
    I missed having a tree for several years. When I received my great-grandmothers library table. I bought a small (*18" tall) It didn't have lights. It was cute. People kept giving me ornaments. This year, I decided I wanted a new Christmas tree. It sits on that table from my great grandma. This one has lights, battery powered, with a timer. Jim seems to like it. I gave the 18" one to a friend at church along with about half the ornaments I had been given.

    I love it that you have a big tree. It looks very pretty. I can't wait for our son, Roger, to see it. Peace and blessings to you \and yours.

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    1. I enjoyed hearing about your tree journeys, Cecelia! And how sweet that you are using the table that belonged to your great-grandmother to display it. We do love our big tree, although it's no where near as huge as our former one was.

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  9. Dearest Martha Jane,
    No tree up here, since we moved to Pennsylvania we gave away then all our Tree, lights and such and later we also donated our outside garlands and lights. For us it is purely Christmas as a religious feast.
    Happy 2nd Advent to you both!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. I hear you, Mariette. It's a lot of work to even put up a tree with decorations, knowing it will have to taken down eventually. And if that distracts you from the full meaning of Christmas, better to not venture there.
      Love and blessings!

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    2. Takes your mind away from the true meaning of Christmas.

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  10. I'm working on my cards. I've been dragging my feet lately and am ignoring the fact that Christmas is coming - fast!! December is always busy, but good busy with loved ones and get-togethers. My little tree is a 3-foot table top now. It works for me! I'm excited that my neighbors are joining me and my sister for Christmas dinner!! I love a crowded table for the holidays! Hugs!!

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    1. I just finished my Christmas cards and mailed them out on Monday. I'm so glad you will be surrounded by friends and family on Christmas Day, Terri. That is one of the beautiful joys of the season. Hope you got the birthday card I sent!
      Love and blessings!

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  11. Beautiful tree Martha. I think this may be the last year for ours. It has most definitely seen its better days. Jo decorates simply but tastefully. As she has gotten older it has become less and less. I'm okay with that since Tami lives with us and the Ohio crew doesn't come. But as you well know, Christmas is not about the trappings.

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    1. It certainly isn't about the trappings, Bill. We both know the real reason for the season, and we can celebrate Jesus in our hearts all year long.
      Love and blessings!

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  12. Your tree is beautiful, Martha I love your Advent calendar and decorations. We stopped having a tree years ago when our daughter moved. We still decorate our place with ornaments and bits and pieces from years ago. For us it is a beautiful and quiet time of year. I'm always thankful for the memories we have created through the years.
    Blessings to you and your family!

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    1. Thank you, Bill! Even if you don't put up a tree, it sounds like you've found ways to be festive at this season. And yes, Christmas is the time of year for reflection and quiet times in the midst of all the hustle and bustle.
      Love and blessings!

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  13. What a cozy Christmas home you've created, Martha! We also chose to downsize our tree--when we moved into a smaller house upon retirement. You are absolutely right; it's just as festive, and sure is a lot less time-consuming to decorate. I love the memories each of our "vintage" decorations brings to the surface!

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    1. Thank you, Nancy! The older I get, the more I find sweet memories being stirred up in my heart for Christmases past. It sounds like you have just that with your vintage ornaments. Downsizing, necessary of not, is often times the way to go to keep things focused and joyful at the same time.
      Love and blessings!

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  14. Amen to your wonderful thoughts. What beautiful decorations you have. We've put out the decorated trees, ornaments and Nativity scene. With the price of postage I doubt we'll receive many cards this year. But e-mails are already on the way.

    God bless you and your family, Martha.

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    1. I'm so glad to hear that you've got your decorations for Christmas all set up, Victor. I'd have sent you a card, but the cost of overseas mail is absurd. Know that I keep you and yours in my prayers.
      Love and blessings!

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    2. I agree, the cost of postage is very high over here too. This year we've sent mostly e-mail cards and we said the money saved (cards + postage) has been given to charity instead. Most people have accepted our decision with grace. Those who know me think I'm a mean Scrooge anyway. Bah humbug!!!

      Thank you so much for your much needed prayers, Martha. We're praying for you and yours.

      God bless always.

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  15. Love this, Martha. That's one of my favorite passages, your new tree is beautiful, and the navity is so lovely. God bless, Karen Friday

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    1. Thanks so much, Karen! I love that passage, too. Hope y'all's Christmas is merry and bright.
      Love and blessings!

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  16. As you know, my dear, I'm not the thoughtful card sender that you are, as it all became so overwhelming to me back in the day. And when the kids grew up and left the nest, we stopped it all- with the exception of celebrating Jesus with Luke 2 recitation.

    This year a Norfolk Island Pine will suffice as our tree. It's tall and its branches are lovely. As for the cards, I so love receiving yours. Hats off to you for your kindness and maintenance of the old-fashioned practice. And, oh, your place is charming and festive.

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    1. Thanks so much, Debra, for your kind and thoughtful words here. For many years, I didn't send cards either, but now, I guess I do it for reasons of nostalgia and friendships that I treasure.
      Your tree this year sounds like a perfect beauty. Maybe, you could post a photo of it on your blog?
      Love and blessings!

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  17. Merry CHRISTmas Ms. Martha Jane. May the coming year be filled with good health and great blessings.

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  18. Hi Martha Jane, lovely decorated tree. My favourite of your pics are the nativity - exactly what CHRISTmas is all about. God bless you with a happy time celebrating HIS birth.

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    1. Our nativity is special to me, too, Brenda. It was carved and hand-painted in Guatemala; Danny and I bought shortly after we got married. It is what Christmas is all about.
      Love and blessings!

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  19. I love your colorful tree. We have a very small house, so never had a tree here. But when we were in the USA, we had one in every room :) Have a blessed Christmas season, enjoy the family time!!

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    1. Trees are so magical, Marja, but I certainly understand not having room for one where you currently live. Christmas is still Christmas, even without one!
      Love and blessings!

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  20. I love those ornaments, Martha. I especially love that hand carved and hand painted nativity set! Love and blessings of a hope-filled and peaceful Christmas season!

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    1. That Nativity scene does take the cake, Trudy. We couldn't believe our luck when we found this at a local shop for a very reasonable price. We've treasured it ever since.
      Glad you loved the ornaments, too.
      Love and blessings!

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  21. Feliz Natal, Martha. A sua árvore é linda, o presépio também e todos os enfeites, desejo um ano novo cheio das bênçãos de Deus, um forte abraço.

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  22. Thanks so much for your kind words here, Lucinalva. Merry Christmas to you!
    Love and blessings!

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  23. Your tree and decorations are beautiful, Martha. We put up our decorations, then both got covid so no one has even stepped foot in the house to see any of them. ha. But Jeff and I have enjoyed seeing the change in decor ourselves.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear that Jeff and you have had a struggle with Covid, Lisa! It is absolutely NOT fun in any way, but especially around the holidays. Hope you're both feeling much better now. Enjoy your own decorations!
      Love and blessings!

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  24. Love your tree and nativity scene.
    Your Advent calendar and decorations are beautiful, Martha.

    Hugs and blessings

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    1. Thanks so much, Veronica! I'm glad you enjoyed seeing them.
      Love and blessings!

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  25. beautiful decorations. I think I am about ready - Bill does the wrapping. I have a couple of stocking stuffers to get yet. I like to have things done early enough to relax and enjoy and savor Christ's birth without fussing and distractions. Merry Christmas, Martha!

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    1. Good for you being ready in so many ways, Jean! We don't have too much left to do as we won't be having any large family gatherings. I sure hope we can spend next Christmas with the grand.
      Love and blessings!

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  26. As you can see, I am trying to catch up on blog reading this morning! Your decor is so pretty! I especially love the nativity by your fireplace. Speaking of Christmas cards, I got your sweet message and answered it. Thank you for thinking of my family and me, sweet friend.

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