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Anticipating Christmas – Patience part 4

Ohio’s beautiful trees took their time bursting into fall color this year. My October 22 birthday often comes during peak leaf season, but some years the trees have been bare by then.  We wondered whether 2017 would ever bless us with Autumn’s brilliance. The last day of October passed and as November arrived, our neighborhood was transformed.

I often hear people say that they like the fall season, but not what follows – the cold of winter. While I’d like to keep the days from getting shorter and colder and the beautiful leaves from falling, I’ve turned the calendar page to November and know that December is quickly approaching. And with it, Christmas.

On November 1, some folks gave themselves permission to listen to Christmas music since Halloween is over . These lovers of the holiday season may have groaned when Christmas trees appeared in stores during August, but now eagerly await an acceptable day to put up their own Christmas trees . If their window shades are down, you can bet they’re secretly watching a favorite Christmas movie well before Thanksgiving. I’m not one of those folks, however, I did practice some Christmas music with fellow flutists this week in preparation for performing at church. And I did begin to make plans with our sons and daughter-in-law for a Christmas gathering in December.

At our mall in 2014. I’m in the middle.

When you hear that there are only 48 days until Christmas, how do you feel? Depending on my state of mind, I might feel amazed that the year is passing so quickly, pleased that I already have several gifts purchased, or a bit anxious about all that will need to be done in preparation for December 25. I’m hoping that the mall holds off on playing Christmas music for a few more weeks.  I’d like to enjoy the beauty of November before seeing Christmas lights come on in our neighborhood. Some areas of Ohio have already seen snowflakes, and I know that it won’t be long until they fall. The sparkly winter season will bring its own delight.

Those who have much excitement about getting to Christmas will need some patience as these weeks pass. For some folks, patience will be needed to get through the holiday season. Perhaps life has changed in a way that makes celebrating difficult. There may be memories of happier family Thanksgiving dinners or Christmas festivities that stand in contrast to today’s circumstances. If you’re one of those people, I hope that you will know the peace and presence of God this year and will find a meaningful way to celebrate.

Having grown up in the Christian faith, my family has observed a season of waiting for Christmas called Advent. This year Advent begins on December 3. Beginning that Sunday, Christian church services will include a focus on the anticipation that ancient Israelites had for the prophesied Messiah. They waited, not knowing how long the wait would be. While we may feel impatient for Christmas to arrive each year, we can count down the days with certainty as to when we will commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the promised One, who came into the world to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10)

A second focus of Advent, meaning “coming”, is the birth of Jesus in individual  hearts and lives.  As we sing Joy to the World, we celebrate the Lord’s coming and plead, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Jesus enters into every life circumstance, whether happy or sad, and every home where He is welcome, whether it is extravagantly decorated or very humble.

The third focus of Advent requires much more patience than waiting for December 25. Christian faith includes belief that Jesus was resurrected after his death by crucifixion and ascended into the clouds after appearing to many people. The Bible contains prophecies, including the words of Jesus himself, that He will return to the earth at an appointed time that no one knows except God the Father (see Matthew 24:36). God’s salvation will be completed.

Patient waiting, accompanied by obedience to the one we have believed will be rewarded.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8,9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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32 Years and 5 Houses

August 19, 2017, was a momentous day for our family. On that Saturday, my husband took me along to our bank to make the last payment on our house. While we have been home “owners” for three decades, we have never been without one and sometimes two monthly payments due – until now.  Anticipating this goal being achieved, I prepared a gift for Dave to commemorate our house history.

We began our married life by renting half of a duplex and then moved into the big blue house pictured at the top when Dave began his newspaper career on August 19, 1985. That is where our family grew from two to four. Choosing to live closer to the school our boys would attend, we moved across town to the house in the 3:00 position in 1990. Less than two years later, Dave’s career took us to North Dakota, where we lived at 1618 Elmwood Drive in Minot for four years. I included three photos (7:00, 9:00, 10:00) of that home, with the last one showing its makeover after a hail storm.

When our kids were in 1st and 5th grade, we returned to Ohio so Dave could run the newspaper in Tiffin and spent eight years in the tan house pictured at the bottom. While we were living there, a teenager from our church visited during a youth event. He noted that I wasn’t working and asked how we could afford such a nice home and two nice cars on a “9 to 5 job.” I gave his question some thought, discussed it with my husband, and then sent him this letter:

Jerome,

I enjoyed the video scavenger hunt with the YF on Sunday.  We had a great team even if we didn’t score the highest!  You asked me a question about how we can afford our house and cars on a “9 to 5 job”, and I didn’t answer because there isn’t a short answer, and I had to think about it a little.  I do want to let you know how this is possible.

First of all, you should know that God has been very good to us and we realize that all the good things we have come from Him.  There are some “success strategies” that we have used and would like to share.

Dave and I both worked very hard in school and both went to college.  He has a degree in accounting from Tiffin University, and I have a secretarial degree from Bowling Green.  When we got married, we both worked.  We only missed work when absolutely necessary and did our very best to do a good job and earn our pay.  That often included working extra hours for no extra pay. 

When Eric was born, we decided that it was very important for me to be at home, so Dave looked for a job that paid more and had good benefits.  That job was at the Advertiser-Tribune.  We were careful with our money, spending some, savings some, and sharing some (with the church, etc.).  We use credit cards, but only charge as much as we can pay off each month.  That way, we pay no interest.  

We moved to North Dakota when Dave’s company wanted him to take a job out there.  It paid a lot more, and we saw it as an opportunity to better our family’s financial position as well as live in a new and exciting place.   It wasn’t easy to leave our friends and families, though.   Several years ago, the company moved us back to Tiffin where our parents are.  Dave is now the Publisher of the A-T.

You should know that Dave does not work a “9 to 5” job.  He is in charge of all of the employees at the newspaper and responsible to the owner in Wheeling, West Virginia.  It is his job to see that the paper makes money and serves the community.  Since his first job at the A-T when he was business manager, he has worked extra hours when needed and covered for other people when they were unable to do their jobs.  For the last few months, that has meant that he gets up at 4:30 and delivers papers until 6:00, then gets ready to go to work by 8:00  and gets home at about 5:30.

He has also had to do some traveling to work at other papers owned by his company.  There is no extra pay for these things, however, when he really goes above and beyond what is expected, he sometimes is given a “bonus”.

We have owned some new and some used cars.  However, we usually keep a vehicle for a long time until it is no longer useful to us, but can still be traded in toward a new one.  We try to have one car paid off before we purchase another one.

Another way that we can afford nice things is to prioritize.  Everyone has their own priorities, and we probably spend money on things that someone else might think is wasteful.  However, there are a few things such as alcohol, tobacco, and gambling that we do not spend on.  These are very expensive and harmful habits! 

So… good education, hard work, careful spending, and the grace of God!  That’s how we have come to own a nice home and other things.  See you at church!

In 2005, Dave accepted a position in the newspaper company’s corporate office in Wheeling. Our home is a few miles east of there in Ohio. Here is the house that we have lived in long enough to pay it off.

In 2007, I wrote an expanded explanation of our physical  and financial journey to each of our five homes. If you are interested in reading more about 32 Years and 5 Houses, you may open it here: On a Nine to Five

 

 

 

 

 

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Saying Thanks and Sharing Some Stats

What fun it was to read your comments on last week’s “Wonder” post! Collectively we expressed wonder for the delicate beauty of flowers and  amazement at creatures as tiny as hummingbirds and ants and as large as polar bears. We only need to look at God’s creation to find wonder. Beyond the things we can see and touch, the kindness of generous people and the soul-touching power of music were called wondrous. Wasn’t it good to focus on the beauty in life and tell someone else about it?

I saw this beauty on a recent walk.

I enjoyed celebrating the 1-year anniversary of Thoughts Collected By Lisa with a giveaway. The recipient of the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet gift card is Barbara Repan. She is a fellow blogger who inspired me to give writing for the internet a try. Congratulations, Barbara!

As I pick up my pencil and begin the second year of writing, I’m taking a look back and sharing not just thoughts and words, but numbers with you today.

One. That is the number of opportunities that I had to write for someone else’s blog, and that is one more than I anticipated. Thank you, Bethany Eicher!

Four to Six. The hours between beginning writing a post and hitting publish. Those hours may be spread over a couple of days and include an initial draft, looking up relevant information, a frequent re-write, getting photos inserted, and several proof readings. It’s not a small task, but it is immensely rewarding.

Seventeen. The number of countries where someone has viewed Thoughts Collected. Every continent except Antarctica is included! By far, most of the views are in the United States, with Canada, China, and Australia holding very distant second, third, and fourth places for views.

Twenty-three. The number of posts that fell into the FAITH category of my blog. The FAMILY category was a close second with twenty-two entries, some of which overlap with FAITH.

One hundred. The number of Facebook readers who have liked and/or commented on Thoughts Collected at least once. This is so encouraging to me. Thank you.

Five hundred. The number of words that I initially set as a limit for each post. I held to it for a while. Then it increased to six hundred, then eight hundred. I just LOVE words!

Nine hundred forty-eight. Number of words in my longest post, which happens to be the One I wrote as a guest blogger. Summing up 32 years of parenting and how to deal with getting older in one post was quite an undertaking!

While I’m still under 500 words, I’ll publish this 52nd post and look forward to sharing more collected thoughts with you in the coming months and maybe years. Many of them will likely relate to faith and family. My prayer is that all of them will bless you and give glory to God.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

 

 

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The Joy of Chocolate Pie and Friendship

I am an infrequent pie maker, usually only baking pumpkin pie for family holiday celebrations. Still, while I was in the book department at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet (a place I love to be), an unusual recipe book called “Pies & Tarts – How to Make More Than 50 Scrumptious Pies and Tarts” captured my attention and ignited my imagination. I flipped through the colorful life-sized photos and recipes of everything from Lemon Tart to Neapolitan Pie and envisioned myself creating each one. I justified the impulse buy when I saw the $3.99 price tag.

Later last summer, with several chocolate pie recipes in mind, I had the opportunity to taste Dove Chocolate Discoveries products and to stock my pantry with a good bit of their Chef-Series Dark Chocolate. A year went by, and I only used the book once to make an Apple and Blueberry Pie.

As my turn to host my BUNCO group for dessert and dice rolling approached, I passed over all of my tried-and-true recipes and decided to prepare something new for my guests. Looking through Pies & Tarts, I selected the Chocolate Raspberry Pie. The instructions were straight forward and I already had the chocolate. The only catch was that it, like most of the recipes in this book, was to be made in a removable bottom tart pan, something I did not own.  I decided to settle for using the glass pie plate in which my mother-in-law had created so many family desserts.

On the Saturday before my BUNCO event, my husband and I were in Columbus to celebrate Father’s Day with our sons and found an hour to visit the just-opened IKEA store.  Son Kyle came along out of curiosity and none of us planned to make a purchase.  But, I wandered off of the path (IKEA guides you through the store) to peruse kitchen gadgets and, lo and behold, my eyes fell on the tart pan of my dreams priced at only $6.99! As store closing approached, my awesome husband went through the crowded check-out area, coming out with my prize.

On Tuesday, the day before my event, Dave was headed out the door for a business trip when the new pan caught his attention. He asked me how I planned to remove the outside ring. I hadn’t planned it at all and had a vision of myself, alone in the house, holding the pie flat on my left hand and wiggling the ring off the crust with my right hand. Then I would have the ring dangling from my arm and likely have messy crumbs everywhere. “I don’t know,” I answered. He took a moment to come up with a suggestion. He would set the pie on top of an upside-down bowl and use both hands to wiggle the ring off, letting it drop down to the countertop. During that day, as I made the cookie crumb crust and luscious chocolate filling, I thought about what a wonderful gift God has given me in my husband. He cares enough to use his solution oriented nature to help me with the challenges in my life, and I am thankful. Still, I took a minute that evening to GOOGLE how to remove a pie from a tart pan. The culinary experts described the exact procedure Dave had come up with.

On Wednesday, less than thirty minutes before my first guest arrived, I set the pie on the bottom of a bowl, said a prayer, and wiggled the ring off, leaving a perfect pie in place. My BUNCO friends and I indulged in the rich, creamy chocolate pie with raspberries on the side. I was not disappointed to have several servings to put back in the refrigerator.

On Thursday morning, two friends who also play the flute came over for a trio practice. As we finished, one needed to hurry off and I invited the other to have a piece of chocolate pie with me before leaving. We sat at my dining room table, enjoying the rare chance to share leisurely conversation over a yummy dessert. She liked the pie so much that she wanted to make it for her dark-chocolate-loving husband’s birthday, so I washed the pan, shared my tips for a good result, and sent her on her way with the pie book and my pan. Hers came out beautifully, too, and was enjoyed by all at the birthday dinner on Sunday.

I was blessed with JOY during this string of commonplace happenings as they resulted in a goal accomplished, a wonderful pie, and most of all the chance to bless several friends with a homemade dessert while we enjoyed each other’s company.

I can hardly wait to use my book and tart pan again! I’ve got my eye on the Banoffee Pie recipe (banana + toffee = banoffee).

From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward. Proverbs 12:14

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