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Archive for December, 2010

Saying Thank You

This is the time of year when many of us take stock, make plans, and yes, we usually make New Year’s resolutions—all in good faith and with fresh determination to see them through.  And I’m just like all the rest:  making resolutions each year that often fizzle out before the year is half spent!  But still we try again; year after year after year.

This year my first and foremost resolution I have decided to share with the world!  My goal is to be more conscious (and quick) to say those two precious words we all love to hear:  ‘thank you’.

All of us need to know that we are appreciated.  And my goal is to let others know just how valuable they are—not only to me, but to the world in general!  Some of the ones I intend to make special effort to thank are:

*meter readers

*trash collectors

*mail deliverers

*grocery baggers

*magazine editors

*neighbors (who help keep an eye on our neighborhood and who are quick to chat over the fences and share flower starts, etc.)

*ministers

*worship leaders, instrumentalists

*store clerks

*receptionists

 

I’m certain my list will grow as the year progresses!

Besides saying thank you, I intend to smile more, help others more, give more, listen more, and talk LESS!!!

The only One who will see me talking more this year, is my Heavenly Father!  He never seems to grow weary of all I have to say, and is always ready and glad to listen and chat with me!  He has SO much to teach me and I love chatting and listening to all He has to say!  He has such a delightful sense of humor!  Some days He makes me laugh out loud!  But, that’s always when I’m listening—not when I’m talking!  So, my resolution with Him is also to listen more!

And to each of you, dear readers and friends:  Happy, happy New Year!  May all your resolutions be fulfilled and may you be thanked faithfully all year long!

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The Christmas Gift

Several years ago I was working at a college near where we were living at that time.  There was an older woman whose desk shared the same room with mine.  This woman had been at the college for a number of years, but was unhappy and made everyone around her miserable.  Indeed, the woman refused happiness and joy completely.  She wanted to be miserable, and that was and still is hard for me to understand.

Naïve as I am, I thought that perhaps I could bring some cheer into her life, and I tried for all I was worth.  But the more I tried to befriend her, the more hateful and bitter she became.  She had me in tears more than once and my heart became heavier and heavier with the dread of being in her presence.  She was the first I had ever known—in fact the only one—that cloaked herself in hatefulness and misery, while claiming to be a ‘Christian’!

One Christmas during those years as I was working in my kitchen on a Saturday morning I was praying for change–either in my heart or in my circumstances.  As I stood looking out the kitchen window through my tears, suddenly large snowflakes started falling softly through the trellis above our large deck and as I watched out beyond the deck to the back yard, the orchard, and the field beyond, that silent snow seemed somehow to reach its peacefulness into my very soul.

I remember as I watched it sifting windlessly to the ground I spoke out loud:  “The snow sifts softly to the ground, making not a single sound…”  Quickly I ran to get a pad of paper and jotted down the lines as God put them into my heart and head that day:

The snow sifts softly to the ground

making not the slightest sound.

The sky is white and cold and still—

it makes me hold my breath until

I feel the Spirit in me move

and warm my very soul with love.

And now He comes and warms my heart—

so battered, bruised—it falls apart!

I think of all the gifts He brings

to me—the very many things!

Of all His loving gifts to me

the Babe in manger quietly

becomes the greatest gift of all—

a KING—from one so very small!

And so I watch the quiet snow

and in my very heart I know

the Baby left His Spirit here

to fill our hearts with Christmas cheer;

to give us hope when days seem grim—

this very special Gift from Him!

When my pen stopped writing, I read the words again and again and knew in my heart that God had given me a special gift.  He had given me Hope!  And I knew in my heart that the days would not always be as grim and miserable as they were at that moment, but that deliverance would come.  And it did!

Within that very next year, I was able to leave that job and begin the job that was the dream of my life:  writing!  And it was the writing I had always dreamed of doing:  writing books!  And God had a wonderful publisher prepared who would work well with me and get the books out there for the world to see!  Such amazing gifts He gives!  (Book number THREE went to press yesterday and will be available just after the first of the year!)

Through those years of misery, my constant strength and solace was my early morning time with the Lord.  He alone was my hope and my joy.  When my way seemed hopeless, I clung to Him.  I knew He had a plan for my life.  And oh!  Such glorious gifts He gives!  I cannot thank and praise Him enough for all He has done for me!  He IS my joy and my salvation!  And I pray that this Christmas, He will also fill your heart with His perfect joy and peace!

Merry Christmas!!!

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Christmas Sweaters

Have you ever been frustrated by the dictates of ‘fashion’?  Whether we like it or not, almost all of us are affected by fashion in one way or another.  Especially if you find a piece of clothing (undies?) you love and that fits you perfectly and a few years later they stop making that style because it is out of fashion!  Now, I ask you, who in the world cares if their underwear is fashionable?  Why would anyone care?

I realize I am really parading my ‘ignorance’ here, but I’ve come to hate fashion!  I like something because I like it!  And I do NOT like it simply because ‘everybody’s wearing it!’  In fact, I tend to be that rare breed that if everybody’s wearing it you can be pretty certain you will NOT see it on me!  I don’t WANT to look like everyone else!  I want to look like me!  God created me to be unique, and I’m determined to be that way until the day I die!

Years ago when appliquéd sweaters were quite popular for Christmas wear, I saw one in particular that really caught my eye.  I happen to love decorating our house, our garage, our gardens, and myself in celebration of this most glorious of holidays.  And when Christmas sweaters became popular, it happened to fit my way of thinking and I loved them!

One year my husband surprised me at Christmas with a particularly gorgeous one that he had seen me admiring in the department store and I don’t care HOW out of fashion they become, that one remains in my drawer!  However, even though I despise fashion’s dictates, I am human enough to not parade something that is particularly ‘dated’ – even though I personally happen to still love it!

But tonight I threw caution to the wind and wore one somewhat subtle Christmas knit to a small party of friends and found I was not alone at all!  We had all decided who cares!  What fun it was!  We were gorgeous!  Young and old, fashionable, and those like me who really have no real appreciation for fashion—we paraded the holiday in bold and subtle design and color and it was probably one of the best parties I’ve attended in a long, LONG time!

Obviously, by now you realize that whether or not I like it, fashion DOES impact my wardrobe—to a certain extent.  Especially when I can no longer find what I like in the stores.  But I’ll keep on gritting my teeth and complaining and sighing.  And before long I will have reached the age where I can get away with whatever I want to wear.  No one will care.  (I hope.)

Now, if we can just do something about those naked legs!  Guess we’ll have to tackle non-fashionable nylons next!  Or then, maybe I’ll just stay in my slacks!

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My Kitchen

In many ways, a kitchen is the heart of the home, and I have lots of fun memories of times in my kitchens through the years.  I’ve never had a really modern kitchen since we tend to like older homes, but I love giving an old kitchen a new twist that is unique to me.  Anyone that has been in one of my kitchens would tell you that they are always quite–well, distinctive– without a doubt!

Sometimes Rick and I talk about building a new home for our retirement years.  A while back we even bought a lovely little piece of property (just a few acres) with that in mind.  Will we?  Who knows for sure.  But if we do, I can pretty much guarantee that it will NOT have a modern kitchen with all matching cupboards.  Yes, those are lovely, and I do admire them.  But it’s just not me.  I want a kitchen with lots of character—my kind of character with old pieces mixed in with new.

We currently live in a cottage built in the 60’s (twentieth century this time around for those who remember the one built in the 1860’s—my very favorite of all our homes!)  It has cupboards on two walls and the rest of the kitchen was open—probably with a kitchen table in mind, but that’s not me.  So I have it filled with antique pieces and just plain old pieces that no one else wanted, but to me it has character.

One of my favorite pieces is an old pulpit that was from one of the churches we attended in Indiana.  It’s a solid-built pulpit, but someone through the years stripped it of its finish and then quit.  I absolutely LOVE this look!  When Rick and I moved here and needed a work island in the middle of the kitchen, I eyed that old pulpit.  We moved it into the kitchen and I coaxed Rick to knock the podium part off of the top of it.  Voila!  It’s exactly counter height!  I bought some peel-the-back-off self-sticking linoleum squares and we had a wonderful island, complete with storage underneath!

However, frequently I wished for more counter space and often I wished for a place for guests to sit with a drink while I finish a meal.  A couple of weeks ago I eyed that pulpit again, and then we called my cabinet-maker-cousin and placed our order.  Today Jeff brought my new top and I now have my dream island with room for two or three bar stools on the far side and lots of room to knead bread dough or roll out cookies!   We don’t have the bar stools yet, but I’m sure I can find some mis-matched ones that will give me just the look I want!

And tonight, as Rick and I caress the top of it and grin at one another, we are both imagining the fun of next Thanksgiving as the grandchildren cut out Christmas cookies on that top!  Yes, it’s just right for me.  It doesn’t match another thing in the kitchen, and it looks just right!

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Latest Book News

In response to the questions I’ve been getting in emails:  YES!!!  My most recent book in the ‘Hand of God’ series is available for purchase on Amazon.com and Christianbooks. com.  The great news is that the purchase price is $4 cheaper on Christianbooks.com than on Amazon, in case you’re interested.  I believe the shipping is a dollar more, so the savings would actually only be $3, but still…However, if you’re ordering more than one, I believe the shipping is free on Amazon.  Not positive, but worth checking out.  Anyway…I wanted to let you all know and to thank you for your inquiries!  Where would a writer be without readers, after all?

Now for a note about Christian bookstores:  I am encouraging anyone that cares to help the cause to inquire at your Christian bookstore if they would please stock the book.  They can order direct from the publisher (OakTara.com) if they need the information.  If we can get it to start showing up in bookstores, it would also help.

And in case of anyone knowing of a bookstore or other institution that has interest, I am glad to schedule readings and would be happy to talk to them.  Please have them email me at judi@ehresman.org and I will respond promptly.  I will give a free book to anyone that can get my book into a bookstore, or get a solid reading scheduled for me!

I have greatly appreciated all the kind emails and phone calls and other contacts from readers and friends.  You are the ones that make it all happen, and I cannot tell you enough how very important you are to me!  Thank you all from my WHOLE heart!

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Christmas Cards

Late in November or early December each year I start thinking about Christmas cards; cards that we send, as well as cards that we receive.

I love the tradition of Christmas cards!  I’ve heard ‘scrooges’ say that it’s just a commercial ploy to get us to spend more money, but I offer to you that it’s a very inexpensive gift from ourselves to those we hold dear.

When I turn that calendar over to the December page each year, something in my heart starts that joyous expectation of hearing from dear friends from our past with whom we’ve been separated by time and space, and yet we still hold dear in our hearts and cherish warm memories of our times with them.  I love hearing from those that send letters (yes, even mass-produced letters) that tell of their family and experiences.  I love sitting down at the end of a busy December day to read over the lovely letters and envision them with their families.  And, being such a visual person, I absolutely LOVE all the very beautiful Christmas cards also.  I hang the festive cards on a wall or door and I do NOT take them down when I take the other Christmas decorations down.  Usually they hang there until late winter and I go back and read them over and stand and admire the lovely artwork over and over.  Such a splendid gift.

Ok, I’ll tell another secret!  Even after taking the cards off the wall, I stack them somewhere (usually in the laundry room) and read them over and over throughout the year and look at the lovely cards.  I absolutely love beautiful artwork, but Christmas pictures have always been at the top of my list!

I have friends from college and high school, my hometown and from the early years of our marriage with whom we never seem to connect except at Christmas with our exchange of cards and letters.  I look forward to those letters and cards eagerly!

So, I ask you, my friend:  where else can you get so much joy for a buck?  All added together, I’m guessing the card, letter where applicable, stamp, etc. probably costs a dollar or less each, but the joy it gives is worth SO much more!  I always budget the cost of the card-sending habit with our other Christmas gifts, so it doesn’t seem to bite us as it would otherwise.

Today I hurried with my chores and soon after lunch was ready to start on my own stack of letters and greetings again.  It’s a ‘chore’ that takes several days, but I start the afternoon with a cup of really good coffee and Christmas music and each card is signed with such affection and love that it’s almost as good as hugging that loved one in person!  I love choosing just the right cards and coordinating letterhead, as well as postage stamps that all look lovely together.  What a wonderful tradition Christmas cards are!  What tremendous fun!  I’m thankful to whoever began the ritual, and I pray it never stops—at least not in my lifetime!

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