Monday, December 29, 2008

Advent isn't just for Advent anymore

Tonight I went to a meeting about my upcoming mission trip to Haiti. While praying about ways to raise money the Lord showed me something new.Well not all the way new..but new to my understanding. This Christmas we took part in the Advent Conspiracy ( . I got into my spirit and changed me. But what Jesus was telling me today is that this in not a once a year thing. Worship more, spend less and give more are for all times. Relational giving is for every day. So what does this have to do with Haiti?? and raising money. Here is what I am seeing: The Lord says what do you have in your hand?? Maybe you like to take photos or maybe you like to cook or maybe you are skilled at preparing taxes. God has put something in your hand that He wants to use to in His kingdom work. So maybe I could go to a manicurist (Sp??) and simple ask for a donation OR I could go to her and say will you donate two hours of your time to support our trip to Haiti? A second person can now go to the her making a monetary donation to the trip and have the benefit of her service and the benefit of the time spent together. The point being that not everyone has money but everyone has something. I would love to hear comments about creative ways to use this truth..What is in your hand?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Hands of Jesus

I am feeling very grateful today for my mother and the way she taught me the important things. She taught me that if you go walking on the beach on a cold afternoon you can find beautiful shells AND that if you add glue and a little glitter your Christmas tree will one of beauty and delight. She taught me that the things that we have are the things that God will use to bless. Christmas does not have to be expensive to be bountiful. This year was very different. The Advent Conspiracy had a big impact on me. I did worship more, spend less and give more. It was hard sometimes because I love to give gifts to my children and grandchildren. The temptation was real and often to spend more, and then some more. But today as I looked under my tree the pile was not very high. And if was alright. My daughter Gretchen has a little saying she uses about her Christmas shopping for the children "Something you want, something you need, something you wear and something you read." So between her three children that means 12 gifts. But her gifts were creative and the children were not one bit deprived or disappointed. Gretchen made a beautiful dress for Katie with a matching one for Katie's doll. Jon made gun that shots rubber bands for Micah. It was so cute to see Micah all dressed up in his Christmas suit carrying that gun around. Gretchen took a used flower girl dress, added glitter, a crown and some sparklie shoes and Abbie became a princess.
We spent the afternoon at the nursing home. It was awesome. Abbie was so loving toward the residents there. She sang to them and patted them and hugged them with real hugs. The kind of hugs that stick with you. She sat on one woman's lap for quite a long time. When i neared time to go I spoke with Abbie about what she did and thanked her. I asked her if she could see Jesus' hands. She said no and we talked about Jesus using her hands to be His hands.I think she got it. This truth my mother taught me. It is so exciting to see this lived out in this new generation.
So this year there is not a lot of wrapping paper to throw away or sweaters to exchange. The gifts this year are far more enduring and while they will not be exchanged they will be passed on and on and on....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

She makes me smile.

After we got the tree up last week our three yr. old grandaughter Abbie came for a visit. No sooner did she see the tree than she we laying on the floor with her face inches from the manger under the tree. A few days later she was over again. This time there were also wrapped gifts under the tree. Including gifts for Abbie. I expected her to ask what I thought was obvious "Nanny is there a gift for me?" Instead this little blonde beauty said "Nanny, are these gifts for the poor children?" She never did mention gifts for herself. I am so blessed to be able to have this granddaughter who thinks of others before herself.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Little Bit of My far

I have had such a wonderful Christmas season. I have had some great relational good times. Thanksgiving with Jon and Gretchen hosting started things off and here on Dec 20th I still have good times with people I loved planned for the next week. My best girlfriend Candy and I traveled to PA the first week in Dec for a whirlwind holiday celebration. Eight hours in the car and we never ran out of things to talk about. On Wed afternoon we went to The Miracle of Christmas at the Sight and Sound theater. It was wonderful...angels flying, camels on stage and the best line of the show was "I am going to be God's grandmother!" Candy and I laughed and cried and for a few days we were free of the responsibilities of our grown up lives. On Thurs. night we were my son in law Chris' guests at a Point of Grace Christmas concert. We had dinner and all access passes and great seats. What a happy time this was. Melody is such a great hostess and Evie such a dear baby and were so blessed to spend a little time with them. We got home just in time for the Christmas tree lighting in downtown Manteo where Gretchen was singing and directing the community choir. Abbie rode the yule log. Several hundred people from the community gathering to celebrate. Josh and Jenny were down for Jenny's bridal shower and Josh helped Katie decorate the play house. I've watched Bernstein Bears Christmas at least three times, The new Miracle on 34th Street and I am now watching Elf. I Elfed Myself about a million times and made for than 30 dozen Christmas cookies with family and friends. I've been caroling with the youth group.I decorated the display case at the Post Office and I've decorated our Christmas tree twice.(it fell down!!!) I worked on a special project with Katie, Micah and Abbie and tomorrow I will go to their Christmas program at church. THEN on Monday I get to go to Raleigh and see Gwenn and Nick do a program at their church. Christmas lasagna of course! And so this year I can say without a doubt that the best gifts we can give are the ones that are given of our time, love and our commitment to celebrating each other as we celebrate the one who gave of himself on that first Christmas.
So tell me ...all of my two readers..what is making this year a memorable one for you??

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pray it Forward...the waiting room

So today I gave my friend Candy most of what is left of our 50-60 bottles of vanilla. Now we wait to see how God will work this. Sometimes I wonder "did I just think this up or did I hear from God about this?" The answer comes and says "The good you know to it." So in faith I believe that these bottles will do what they were intended to do. Not because I came up with some catchy idea but because God is faithful when we are obedient. This is my prayer for this project:
"Abba in faith I am believing that you gave me a plan and a task to complete. I thank you for the vision and for the people you have put in my life who made this possible. I thank you for the blessing of spending time with people I love making cookies. I thank you for Nicole and her teacher and their willingness to put in the time and effort needed to print up the fl yer. I thank you for the people who are actively endorsing the Advent Conspiracy who first got my attention about this. Lord I ask you to pour out your blessings on each person who has so far touched this project and for each hand it will come in contact with in the future. I ask that you would meet all of their needs according to your riches in glory. I ask that you will give them hearts to obey you and that they will minister to the Haitian Children's Home and to Gwenn and Nick as they seek to care for the orphaned children in Haiti. Lord you know each need, each care and each desire. Lord meet them where they are and minister your peace to them. Jesus I thank you that you love me and that you love the person who may be reading this right now. Use our efforts and multiply them for your glory. I praise and thank you Jesus."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pray it Forward- is moving forward

Thanks to Nicole Mills and her teacher at the High School we have offically begun to Pray it Forward. They put together the flyer to go in with the cookies to explain this project and did a great job.The tins are being passed out and prayfully we will see God's hand move in all of this. I was so blessed to be albe to pray forward three tins yesterday afternoon. One to a grandmother, one to a young mother and one to a teenage girl. I was so blessed that this girl has asked for money gifts for Chirstmas so that she can share what she is given to bless others. I know that is idea is not my own and was given by God and I know we will see the fruit that He has intended. This is an exciteing time! I would love your to hear how God is recreating Christmas for you this year!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cousins Chirstmas

I love this picture of a bunch of my cousins. We always shared the holidays together. It was a happy time.In this picture is Karen and Steven Cancellieri, my sister Janice, Ricky Muller, Jimmy Aery, me, Mosey Muller and Margie Aery. This picture was taken at the Aery's house I believe. Note the cigeretts and matches just sitting on the table in front of us. This summer all of us except my sister were together for a little reunion party. This is only a small part of our cousin group. There were 26 in total counting the Arey's who were really second cousins. And that was only on my mom's side of the family! So the youngest in this group is about 50 now. Even though I don't see any of them much I still love them. I am so blessed to have been raised in a family that knew the importance of family.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Raise a Cup

I sit at the kitchen table and raise a cup to the memory of my father. Hot choclate with whip cream. In a Santa mug. Not the one he gave me, that is long gone. The undressed Christmas tree waits it adorment. It's crooked. Worst things could happen. The play house sparkles in the evening shadows. The Chirstmas lights on it's porch and roof match the big house. It's sweet.My husband's guitar music drifts through the house with Chirstmas music and random riffs. The two clocks tick. My life if good.

Tomorrow Pray it Forward will be ready to go. I pray that God will use this to His glory.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pray it Forward- the first day of advent

What a joy and a blessing today was! Today, gathered with my daughter, three of my grandchildren and close friends we rolled, and shaped and sprinkled and baked more than 30 dozen cookies! And so Pray it Forward has begun. We prayed over the process and forward to those who will recieve and those who will give. Our conspiracy has begun. I can say that exhausted as I am that already I see the fruit of this effort. God visited with us today in the process and this is only the beginning!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nana Ree's Dump Together Cake
1 Cup cocoa
2 eggs
1 Cup butter
2 Cup flour
1 Cup sour milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp baking doda
2 Cup sugar
1 Cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease NINE inch cake pans. Put all ingredients in ,icing bowl in given order. Do no tmix until last item is added, then mix well. Pour into NINE inch cake pans. Bake for 30 min. Note: if you don't have sour milk on hand, add 1 TLBS of vinegar to milk before you begin' let sit until it's time to add milk to vecipe.
Very rich, dark cake. The only choclate cake recipe you will ever use!

OK, so I'm thinking about this cake thing. God is showing me something here. Listed here are all the things needed to make the most wonderful cake in the world. But alone the ingredients are not all so tasty. The cocoa alone is bitter and dry. The raw eggs are slimy and plain yucky. The milk well that starts out pretty good but then you sour it. Vanilla alone- not so good. You get my point? It is not until you follow the directions carefully and add ALL the ingredients that you make this wonderful cake.
The life of a Christian is a cake. The Lord takes all the things in our life and blends just the right amount of ingredients together to make us something wonderful. It takes the bitterness of our tears. It takes the sadness of having something that was once good that sours. It takes the sweetness of healty realationships. The heat to blend and purify. All these things brought together in our lives make us beautiful in the sight of God. HOWEVER- without the baker (God) all these experiences would just be a list of experiences. It takes the hands and intent of our loving Father to make and bake our "cake". Without Him we are a just bitter, slimmy,sour mess. Our life goes from one experience to the next. We are never able to make sense of the pain and disappointment. We have moments of what we may think of as happiness but then we have to deal with yet another disappointment/With Him we our lives make sense. We see how He can and will use all things together for our good.When He has done His work in us we look good, smell good and taste good.But only because of the hand of the baker. When we allow Him to take carge of all the things in our life He WILL create something that is attractive to others. Just like a choclate cake. They will want some for themselves. And why does God want us to do?? Like a cake, we should feed others .

chirstmas madness

this is reposted from my daughter gwenn's blog

A different way.
So I read this headline today:
Wal-Mart worker dies in rush; two killed at toy store
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Man, THIS WAY is looking better and better.Advent starts tomorrow.Last year, Nick and I wrote a family devotional for our church for the advent season.If you are interested in having it, email me at and I will email it to you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pray it Forward. My Advent Conspiracy

Christmas 2008
I love Christmas. The music, the lights the bangles and bells, the Christmas pageants and candlelight services.But it seems that as each Christmas approaches I DO things to try and capture or recreate that sense of wonder that I had as a child. I never seem to really meet that expectation and always seem to fall short of that childlike excitement and enthusiasm. This year something has happened to me that has changed all that. My daughter Gwenn sent me a link to a short Youtube video called “The Advent Conspiracy”. I am not sure exactly what happened but it changed my whole out look on Christmas. I gave me back the desire to give creatively . I find myself asking God how He can You use me in a more effective way and He is filling my my and heart with His Christmas. So is born Pray it forward.
This is how I see this working. I have several jars of wonderful vanilla that my daughter and son-in-law brought home from Haiti. I am gathering together with my oldest daughter and her children and my best friend and her daughter. We will spend the afternoon on the first day of advent making Christmas cookies. Then I will package up as many batches of cookies as I have bottles of vanilla. I will prayerfully decide who should get these and then I will pray for them before I give them this gift. For each gift I give I will make a donation to the Haitian Children's Home. I will enclose information about this mission in the box with the vanilla. Those who receive this gift will be asked to use the vanilla to make a treat for someone on their gift list and then "Pray it forward." If each person were to make a donation instead of buying a gift then even the smallest of donations would grow and bless in a big way. I will also encourage those who pass forward this blessing to pray for each person down the road who will one day receive this bottle of vanilla. Just as Jesus said "I do not only pray for these, but for those who will believe after them." (my paraphrase)
I will use this blog for people to post pictures of their baking projects, testimonies and maybe even a running total of donations given.
I know this can work. I believe God gave me this idea. I am hoping Gwenn can bring me more vanilla but for now I will begin with the 11 bottles I have.
Do you remember when God asked Moses "What do you have in your hand?" (refering to his staff) I believe that God is asking this generation of His children to use that which is in their hand, no matter how big or small, to bless the world. We can use our talents and passions to bless others. My neice has an aution on ebay right now where she is auction an original art work to help raise funds for the Haitian Children's home. Our God is a creative God. Children are dying and we CAN make a difference. You don't need vanilla. You need a heart that is ready to say "Lord what would you have me do?" He will show you. This Christmas can be different. Don't let THEM tell you otherwise. So I ask you.."What is in your hand?"

Friday, November 21, 2008

did i mention i love Christmas? and Jesus and grandchildren?

Finding Baby Jesus

Finding Baby Jesus
By Denise Goodale

Christmas can be a pretty hard time for me. Not because I don’t like it- but because I do. Working at the Post Office often 6 or 7 days a week does not leave me with time to do the my regular chores much less to have the time to do the fun and relaxing things that come with the season. So, I make lists. Unlike many other people who make a daily list, my list may continue for days or weeks. I am always adding to it the things that I need or want to get done. I even write down the most obvious things like cook dinner or do the laundry so I can reward myself with at least crossing off something. I even go so far as to break down the laundry into sub-lists: wash, dry, fold and put up are on the list because that way I have four things completed instead of one. It was this list that the Lord used to get my attention this Christmas season.
One afternoon I was climbing around in the attic pulling out the Christmas decorations. I unearthed the box with the wooden nativity that has been a central part of our Christmas celebrations since my daughter Gretchen was two years old in 1977. My mother bought this particular set for us that year because she thought how great it was that the kids could touch it and it wouldn’t break. Early in the season on the first day of Advent we set up the stable on one side of the room and Mary and Joseph on the other side with the kings even further away. The shepherds were positioned close to the stable where they would keep watch over their sheep. Each night during Advent the characters got closer and closer to Bethlehem until finally on Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph arrived at the stable. On Christmas morning the children took turns putting baby Jesus in the manger. We then would sing Happy Birthday to our Savior and have a time of prayer before any gifts were exchanged. We have continued this tradition now for 28 yrs now with my grandchildren now stepping into the role that their mother played. Needless to say, this little wooden nativity set is a very dear to my heart. Its monetary value is not very much but it is priceless to me. So this year when I set up the stable I was beside myself when I got to the bottom of the box and the one-inch baby Jesus was not there. What could I have done with him? Not really having time to look other places, I added this task to my list.
Days past and the list grew, Put up the tree, go to Belk, order Micah’s gift, laundry –wash, dry, fold put up. Copy Christmas card photo. Bank, call so and so. Some things got crossed off my list only to make room for other things. Then – last week I stood at my kitchen table, exhausted and cranky I scanned the list this time only one thing jumped out at me “FIND BABY JESUS”. It hit me like a ton of bricks. All these other things that I had on my list were really of no importance. That was the only thing that mattered. It occurred to me that just as this wooden nativity piece was hidden somewhere in my attic in some box coved by some Christmas stuff that I was doing the same thing with my Jesus. I was so consumed with all the Christmas stuff that I had lost Jesus. As with the wooden nativity piece I guess I just thought that I would find Him on the way. We are surrounded by reminders of Christ at this time of year. If we are not careful it can all become just stuff to hide Jesus under. We and the world can sing Joy to the World or Silent Night and not find Jesus there. We will not necessarily just come upon Him because it is Christmas. The Bible tells us that if we search for God we will find Him. This is not a passive search but an active search. When the angel told the shepherds that Jesus was born they did not say “Cool, we will have to see if we run into him the next time we go to town for food.” It was not enough for them to just know that he was there somewhere. The shepherds left everything that was important to them and they went “AT ONCE” to Bethlehem to see this thing that the angel had told them. They searched for Jesus until they found Him, they worshipped him and they went out telling others about him. Likewise, the wise men knew that it was not enough just to know that Jesus was born – they didn’t just hope that someday they would see him. They searched for him for a long time until they found him. They worshipped him and gave to him gifts that they had prepared for Him. There was nothing passive about it. These men deliberately set out to find Christ. That is was Jesus is teaching me. I must set my heart on finding him. I cannot let the radio, TV or even my pastor tell me about Him and accept that as Christmas. I must take the time, even if this means cutting down my list and letting some other perhaps very good things go. If you set out to find Him, intent on searching until you do- you will. If I had been more careful when I put the nativity away last year I never would have lost baby Jesus. I must be careful not to put myself in the place where I cannot seem to find Jesus. I am sorry to say that as of yet I have not found my wooden nativity piece I am so glad to tell you that Jesus is right here with me.
Post Script. Christmas came and went. January arrived. I took out the box to wrap up the wooden nativity set, less the one inch baby Jesus. I picked up the stable and heard something drop to the floor. I cried tears of delight as I saw him! Somehow, someway that I will never understand baby Jesus was there all the time. I hadn’t lost him at all but the lesson I learned will be with me always. “ I will be found by those who seek me.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Sometimes a moment in time can be permentally etched on the mind and heart of a child. It can be a good moment but very often it is the opposite. That moment can alter the way they view other people and can alter their thinking or feeling or acting. Two months after my fourth birthday I learned to hate.

My parents had just separated. My mother, my brother, my sister and I moved in with my grandparents and my great grandmother. Our cat escaped from the car on the way to Nanny's house never to be seen again. We had to give our beloved dog Lobo, a beautiful white shepherd, to our aunt.Nanny made a game of me sleeping in the crib. We both knew I was far too big for that , and my brother and sister shared a bed.
I don't remember exactly when we moved in but we had not been there long when the Christmas season arrived. I could cry now thinking of how very hard that Christmas must have been for my mom. When she gave my father the choice, he choose the other woman. So there she was with three little kids, no car....not even a driver's license, no job, no home and I imagine it must have seemed like no Christmas. As a four year old I only knew that I missed my dog, my cat and my Daddy and that Mommy was very sad.
One afternoon my great grandmother was watching us children. We were all in the kitchen and I was allowed to stand on a chair as I sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on my buttered toast. I was enjoying this new thing that my great grandmother was teaching me .The door bell rand and I jumped off the chair to see who it was. I reached the door first and the room exploded with shrieks of joy as we saw through the glass panelled door that Daddy was there!In a split second the glee was drowned out by the high pitched screams of my great grandmother. I don't recall her exact words but they were full of anger and rage. As we were pulling the door open to get to my Daddy she was pushing it closed and telling him never to come back. We were all crying now and calling out to our "Daddy!"Just before the door snapped shut my father was able to pass a brown paper bag through the opening.
I find myself crying as I write this so deep and powerful was the pain and fear and love and hate that I knew at that moment.
We watched my father descend the three porch steps and disappear down the street. We opened the bag and pulled out three Santa Claus mugs. You've seen the kind. The handle is formed by Santa's hat. You would think that after 49 years they would stop making them. They don't. And every year at this time that brief moment comes back clear, and strong and alive. I never loved my great grand mother after that. I never even liked her. I hated her. Now that I am grown and can better understand why she was so passionate in her anger but I still can not find any affection for her memory.
I know this is not a happy little Christmas blog. But to me it is an important lesson. We adults have the ability to teach the children in our lives so many things. Most of what they learn is caught and not simply taught. Kids are forgiving for the most part but sometimes if we are not careful we will teach them things that we never indented for them to learn. The Bible says to "be angry but sin not". How we act, even in justified anger will touch the lives of the children around us.
They are watching and they will remember...
The following is an ebay post for a painting that my neice Trina is auctioning off the raise funds for Gwenn and Nick and the Haitian Children's Home. This is in such an honor for me to post here. Trina, my first neice, I count as one of "My" kids. She was the first baby I feel in love with. As her 12 yr. old aunt we were joined at the hip. Her mom was only 16 so she didn't know better and let me babysit for Trina from the time she was 10 days old! How is it that my little Sunshine is more than 40 yrs. old now! She is a successful artist in Southampton NY..(yep... the play ground of the rich and famous and my home town :) I am so proud of her for her heart of compassion and willingness to give of herself to bless others. So check out her auction- what a great way to spend money this Christmas!

Original “Becky” painting to be auctioned
For those of you who are familiar with "Becky" you know her purpose in life, for those of you who are not..." Becky" was created to "surf a higher purpose" now, we (Becky & I ) are starting on a small scale, donating paintings to the Rell Sunn surf contest cancer benefit & ebay auctions for relay for life, but I believe that good things come from good actions. That said, the next Becky ebay auction will begin on NOVEMBER 19th and run for 10 days ...ending NOVEMBER 29th!!!
100 percent of the money raised will be donated to the Haitian Childrens Home .
A few words about The Mangine Family (My cousin Gwenn, her husband Nick & their kids)
We are Nick and Gwenn Mangine. We believe very passionately that one family can make a difference. We want to be one of those families.
In May of 2009, we are planning a move to the southern coast of Haiti where we will open the second family home at the Haitian Children's Home. Once there, we will open our home and our family to 20 orphaned and abandoned children. We will accept them and care for them and give them the opportunity to grow up in a secure, stable environment with access to opportunities EVERY child should be afforded—food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, and, of course, love.
But we can't do it alone. Look around. Hear more about the vision. And then consider supporting us.
If you have questions and for the ebay item # go to Thank you! Trina


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And so it advent conspiracy

I have blogged for a long time on myspace. But this is different. I want to start something here. I'm not quite sure where to begin so I will just begin...
I have chosen my title because at the heart of this blog is my love for my grandchildren. And for all grandchildren.
When my daughter Gwenn sent me a video clip about The Advent Conspiracy something inside of me began to melt. I have long been a lover of Christmas and have raised a family full of rich and beautiful traditions. But still as Christmas would approach each year it was as if the wonder I knew as a child was fading. The excitement of the surprises and the hidden treasures, the chill in the air suggesting it just might, could possibly, "O God please let it snow for Christmas!" was slowly being replaced with the adult obligations of parties and cleaning and cooking and all the extra work at the Post Office. The schedules that demanded we participate or it just wouldn't be Christmas. Overspending, overeating, over stressing and forgetting...forgetting the simple things and the priceless things. Forgetting that our children are not blessed by the newest, the biggest, the brightest or anything that comes from a TV ad promising to make all their dreams come true. Those things will be gone tomorrow..and not remembered in a month. The children will be blessed with the time we invest to let them be kids. So what I'm saying is I'm getting off!
I am back! The world can not, will not , rob me of my joy! I have a mission and this blog is where I am choosing to begin.
I am working on a "Pay it Forward" kind of plan. As this plan develops I will share more. I am so excited and hope to use this blog as a venue for people to post how God is using this plan..
For now, because I love Christmas I post a question to you. What is your favorite Christmas memory from your childhood? What is a loved family tradition?
Oh and one more thing.. I hate spelling and back off it's my blog!