Today represents the last day of 2011. An evening traditionally associated with celebration, parties, and remembrance.
· Will you take time to reflect on the year past?
· Who will you spend your last hours of 2011 with?
· What will you be doing – watching the ball drop? Playing a card or board game with friends? Sleeping? Working?
· Where will you be when the clock strikes Midnight?
· How will you welcome in the New Year? With goals and resolutions?
Why is there so much effort put into the celebration of the year’s end? The Bible tells us there will be an end to our life here on earth. Are we spending as much time in preparation for Jesus’ second coming? How much time is spent purifying our hearts and listening to Him as He guides us through this life? Are we wearing our Sunday best throughout the weeks, months, and year to bring Him the glory?
I wish everyone a Happy New Year yet I challenge you to dedicate some time and energy into preparing your heart, home, family, and life for the return of Christ ~ this will be the greatest celebration of all times! A kiss from the King will be better than any kiss you might receive this year. Enjoy the transition to 2012 with Jesus in your heart.
No one knows about that day or hour,
not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,
but only the Father...
I have started my lists of “Things to do, accomplish, and/or start” for 2012. As the list seemed to be spread from one sheet of paper to three separate pads of paper I realized it was time to do some math. In order to be the best wife, mother, daughter, teacher, writer, speaker, and woman God has called me to be…I need to work on my math.
2011 was an amazing, busy, overwhelming, and blessed year for my writing career. By year’s end I added “speaker” and found such joy and healing through the preparation and presentation. The overflowing of blessings that followed is the cherry on top of a fabulous, God orchestrated sundae. I love people, always have. I think that is why waitressing at Dahl’s Diner is still one of my favorite memories in life. We are all so different yet at the heart, we are so similar.
One of my goals for 2012 is to secure at least one speaking engagement a month. This is a wonderful way to meet people, share my story, Heidi and the hope and healing of a relationship with Jesus with so many that hurt. While it might be one or two evenings out, it is hours of prayer and preparation for a successful evening. In connection with the speaking engagements I hope to participate in some more craft shows and bazaar, I met so many wonderful people during Christmas in Mexico. This was a great time of networking and of fellowship with my readers.
I want to continue to blog daily, revise/edit – “Where’s Heidi?” while working on two other books I’m playing with. And of course all this while wearing my wife and mom hat, working full time as a teacher’s assistant, volunteering at church, staying involved with my daughter’s life and school, and being there for my parents, family, and friends. This all requires time.
If you have ever read any of the books about love languages, my primary is definitely “quality time” with “acts of service” and “words of affirmation” in a close tie for second. I think acts of service require time so maybe it is a tie for first, hmm, anyway – everything on my list requires time. In order to accomplish the goals and hopes for 2012, I MUST look at the sum of all the lists and divide. If I am going to be successful and achieve any of my goals with grace and joy I will need to eliminate something on the list.
I won’t do eenie-meeny-miny-mo for something this serious (but maybe to pick between two great books at the bookstore I would, just ask Alex) so I will take it to God in prayer. With my current lists I will present them to Him and let Him guide my lines of elimination so I am doing and striving to be all I can be in His name, not my own.
The best thing about dividing your list of goals is you never know when this division will actually multiply the blessings God has in store for you this coming year.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Hello! I pray you had a wonderful Christmas and are still enjoying the blessings of the season. His love and provision amaze me. I’m thankful for a job that allows for me to enjoy the week following Christmas too. With my author hat on, the Dunkin Donuts coffee brewed, and the ideas racing in my head ~ I retreat to my writer’s cottage. (aka – my space)
Each day as I start to write I pray for God’s leading and blessing in all I write, speak, and share. This morning the Lord blessed me with Psalm 19:14, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Wow…This is my prayer everyday as I venture into the world of author and speaker. Can you think of anything better than everything we say, think and feel being “pleasing” in God’s sight. I can’t.
With the New Year in a few days I have noticed a common theme from advertisements on the television and radio to the blogs I follow. It is the time of year when most reflect, contemplate, and make a plan for the coming year. I am no different. In years past I have listed my goals for the year. My goals have ranged from losing twenty pounds to some virtual impossible transformation in my home or life.
Last year I was inspired to select one-word and a Scripture verse for the year. It took me most of January to determine each but I did and the reward was far beyond anything I could have imagine. My word and verse appeared in the most bizarre places and each time, I was blessed. A new, New Year’s tradition has been birthed. If you’ve never thought of this, I encourage you to. This coming Sunday and Monday I will reveal my one-word and Scripture for 2012.
In addition I made a list of my writing goals. I gave a copy to my parents, my husband, and placed them strategically throughout the house and my notebooks so I wouldn’t lose sight of my goals. With the exception of a book contract for Where’s Heidi? The Search Begins, I achieved my 2011 goals. This year I will list my writing goals once again and I know the publication of this book will be on the top of the list.
Writing is joyful and inspiring. The publication process requires patience and heart, both of which the Lord has been doing a mighty work in my life. We celebrated our 18th Christmas without my sister, the same number of Christmases we celebrated with her. As I look to my goals for 2012, I pray to keep HOPE in my heart. Hope for Heidi, for Healing, and for God’s will on my writing and speaking. May my goals, lists, dreams, and life glorify Him.
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
As I sketched out my outline for this week I prayed for a way to encourage you, to not only set goals for 2012, but for a way to implement your good intentions from January through December. I wasn’t sure how to do this but I know God is faithful when we pray and trust Him to answer.
Today as I read Paula Davis’, A Peace in the Puzzle of Life blog I recognized an answer to my prayer. Paula’s post titled, “Christmas Letdown?” triggered a thought for this series and looking at our New Year’s resolutions and goals.
Paula shares her perspective of carrying the Christmas generosity, love, and hope into our lives throughout the year, not just in December or the days surrounding Christmas.
“Let’s look ahead towards how we can carry Christmas with us throughout the coming year. Take a few minutes in the coming days to think about what kinds of things you and your family can do to bring the spirit of Christmas to others each month. Then make a plan…” Paula details a 3-step plan to achieve this goal through simple yet powerful thought to action process.
With Paula’s permission I’m sharing the link to her blog:
As you reflect on your goals, resolutions, and plans for 2012 I challenge you to write them down.
“Goals that are not written down are just wishes.”
Don’t dream for 2012…set goals.
What goals have you set for yourself this year? Feel free to share.
My mother has talked about and looked into purchasing a Kindle for herself for the past few months. We (Mom and I) decided we would look at them after Christmas to determine what the best version for each of us would be and then save up for it. Well….my husband was blessed with overtime so we decided to surprise Mom with her very own Kindle. Not only was she surprised but even more excited than we could have expected and then she saw the gift card too ~ she was one happy kiddo this Christmas.
We charged it for her so all she needed to do was register her Kindle, add her Kindle gift card to her account, and let her loose. She has a couple games and books downloaded but as we “searched” around the Kindle Store we noticed they have Blogs.
“Lisa, is your blog here?”
“I doubt it but we can look...No its not. I wonder how this works.”
Famous last words of the first-born Type “A” personality. A short time later and some Internet searching it was determined I could link my blog to Kindle. Ed, my parents, and I discussed the process and “selling” my blog. I write for God, Heidi, and to help others – not to make money yet everything I do, costs me money. Our conversations were from the heart with all of you in mind.
“People can still follow your blog online for no cost, right?”
“Why would someone pay $.99 to follow your blog on their Kindle then?”
“It does allow the busy follower an opportunity to read whenever they have a chance because once I post, the update automatically appears on their Kindle.”
“Will they want to be bothered every day?”
“I have people asking me for daily updates but it isn’t available through my web provider yet, this helps me meet the needs of my readers.”
“Are you doing it for the money?”
“No. I’m writing today for the same reason I started this journey in July 2010 ~ for God, Heidi, and to help others. What if this option opens my blog up to more people than I could ever imagine reaching? Like Ephesians 3:20 -21 tells us.”
“We didn’t think you were, just wanted to hear your answer.”
“I’ll pray on it.”
With discussions complete and some time in prayer, I completed the necessary information and submitted it to Amazon/Kindle before going to bed last night. I received an email stating if my blog was approved, it would be available in 48 – 72 hours. Less than 24 hours later…my blog is available through the Kindle.
If this is an option you are interested in:
1) Go to your Kindle Store on the Kindle or
2) Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/Lisa-M-Buske/dp/B006Q3ZE6U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324942226&sr=8-1
Thank you so much for following my blog, for your feedback, prayers and support. Please know I am not trying to sell you my blog, it is available here online, for free daily yet some have asked for a way to be notified and have it on the fly due to your busy schedules. I hope this helps to meet your needs.
Note: To the best of my knowledge, at this time you can ONLY READ the blog on your Kindle – to post a comment or read the comments of others, you will have to access it through the Internet.
This post is not an attempt to sell Kindles and I am not receiving any payment from Amazon or Kindle for today's posting. This is an annoucement of my blogs availability via their device for $.99 a month if this is an option you are interested in.
On this final Christmas memories blog I would like to reflect on the Christmases spent with my wonderful in-laws. In the years past my mother and father in-law hosted the annual Christmas Eve party, following Midnight Mass. You heard me, the party started after the Midnight Mass and usually went until just before my husband and his siblings awoke on Christmas morning.
Oyster soup, baked goods, and a time of fellowship filled the house. Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and neighbors flooded the house to share in the joy of the Christmas season. This tradition continued even after my mother and father-in-law moved to a senior housing apartment building, but at the various relative’s homes. This year was no different with the family gathering at Ed’s sister’s house.
While the extended family doesn’t tend to come anymore, my husband’s siblings and mother are always in attendance. I was raised in a home of four so their family functions have always brought an overwhelming smile and joy to my heart. Even the wildest of gatherings in my family are quiet in comparison to those spent with a family of ten. (Reminds me of the oil and vinegar analogy from a previous post, lol, he is the cutie sitting on the floor and his Mom is in the kitchen behind him)
Regardless of the Christmas tradition, the size of one’s family, the amount of gifts under the tree or the supply of food in the kitchen ~ the true gift is Jesus. I’m blessed with all of these. I pray you are too! Merry Christmas!
Tomorrow’s blog will start my “2012 Traditions” series. Our pastor told us earlier in the month, “Watching and waiting require action!” As you watch 2011 wind down and wait for 2012 to arrive…this week’s blog series will prompt you into action for a positive and fruitful new year.
Merry Christmas Everyone! I pray your Christmas started with joyful memories yesterday. With the exception of my husband having to work yesterday, the day was near perfect. My daughter enjoyed two hours at church rehearsing for last night’s service, cleaned her room, and helped with “wrapping” up the loose ends, literally. Five loads of laundry, five batches of cookies, the finishing touch on my Dad’s gift, and Christmas movies on the television. A great day to say the least.
Once we were all home a pizza was ordered for dinner, delivered to my parent’s house and we enjoyed some time with them too before heading to church. The Christmas Eve service was beautiful, the girls did an amazing job with their songs and readings. (AMAZING! I’ll say it again) Pastor read to us with the illustrations on the big screen. There is something powerful listening to a read aloud, even when we are adults. He read the legend of the candy cane, shared from his heart with tears in his eyes and then gifted each of us with a candy cane to share the legend with our friends and family this Christmas Season.
Following our service we visited friends for a couple hours before joining my in-laws for the annual Christmas Eve Party, after their Midnight Mass. Good food, fellowship, and family into the wee hours of the morning. Christmas hugs, hope, and memories were shared over the traditional oyster soup. Me? I fell asleep on the couch this time until my husband gently woke me up to say, “It’s time to go home.” More hugs and Christmas wishes and we were off.
“Can we open our gifts when we get home?” my daughter chimes. “But of course.” The majority of our gifts are waiting for us at my parents yet the special ones between only the three of us were tucked near the tree in our living room. With tears and thanksgiving in our hearts we closed our eyes till morning.
This morning started with freshly ground Dunkin Donuts coffee and hazelnut creamer (Thanks honey!) before joining our church family for Sunday worship. To attend or skip was the question for an ever-so brief moment – would we skip church because Christmas fell on a Sunday in order to keep tradition? Although I didn’t like my answer, we know in our heart we need to be in church. Jesus gave his life for me, the least I can do is set aside Christmas traditions for one year and celebrate His birth in worship and celebration this Sunday morning.
I’m anxious to be at my parents for our traditional Christmas breakfast, which is now a brunch and spending the entire day with them. Jesus is the greatest gift but my Mom, Dad, Ed, and Mary are next in line. MERRY CHIRSTMAS EVERYONE!
I found a reading of this same story, with illustrations on YouTube (below) for your enjoyment. I pray you open your heart to receive the greatest gift ever given…Jesus. May you not only enjoy the sweetness of a relationship with Jesus but also share it with all you meet. Merry Christmas!
Someone close to me shared this beautiful poem and said "Keep the faith". Christmas isn't about commercialism, it is about Jesus, love, hope, and faith. Merry Christmas!
As Heidi creeps down the stairs and sneaks her hand in the stocking she is caught by the camera. Notice her tongue sticking out as she concentrates in reaching the treasure hidden in the toe of her precious stocking?
What treasure will you pause and search for today? It doesn't have to cost a penny, the best treasures and gifts come from the heart. Share your treasure with someone near and dear to you and watch your treasure bless their lives too.
Feel free to post the treasure you've discovered and shared with another. A small way we can inspire and encourage each other with the multitude of creative ways to bless someone other than ourselves during this time of giving. Jesus was the greatest gift yet we each have something to offer and share. Keep the faith!
Luke 2:19 tells us "...Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." The mother of baby Jesus listened to the shepherds talk about her precious newborn baby and "treasured" their words. Even words are a treasure...
Now a bunkhouse is a barren place
Not all like a regular home
No fancy stuff, no gewgaws
It’s Spartan to the bone
Christmas in the bunkhouse
Was never much to see
Some mesquite and prickly pear
Was all we had for greenery
I think it was young Tim‘s idea
“There’s somethin' that we need.”
So he went out with his lasso
And roped a tumbleweed
He dragged it in and set it up
In a corner by the stove
It wasn’t much to look at
But we weren’t either, I suppose
“The thing looks down right scrawny,”
Was what Lefty said.
“We need to spruce it up with stuff
And took his spurs off of a peg.”
He hung his spurs on the tumbleweed
The rest of us did the same
Then we added silver buckles
And it didn’t look so lame
Cookie showed us all a trick he’d learned
Over at the old Bar Bee
He cut some stars from a pie tin
And hung them on the tree
“Be nice to have some tinsel”
“We got barbed wire in the shed”
“You can’t use no barbed wire”
“Why not?” the cowboy said
“Cause Christmas ain’t about fences
Fencin’ out or fencin’ in
Ain’t you never heard the sayin’
Peace on Earth good will toward men?”
So we didn’t use barbed wire
And that was fine with me
As we stood around admirin’
Our cowboy Christmas tree
“Somethin’s missin’,” said a fellow,
“She needs somethin’ at the top”
The guy was right, we scratched our heads
What else have we got?
There were boots and coats and jackets
For it was as cold as it could be
There were guns and tools and lariats
But nothing for the tree
“I’ve just the thing,” said Cookie
Not the sharpest mind in the pack
And he walked over to the closet
And pulled out his new white hat
He went over to our humble tree
And stuck his hat on top
And though we weren’t looking for perfection
Perfection’s what we got
Now cowboys are a resourceful bunch
Uninhibited and free
Who else could turn a tumbleweed
Into a Christmas tree?
Reprinted with permission by the author, Harris Tobias:
I started this “Christmas Memories” blog series last Thursday by sharing the kissing ball hung in center the Heidi Allen Remembrance garden, located at the intersection of State Route 104 and 104b in the town of New Haven. It was beautiful and brought hope and smiles to those passing by until the wind storm hit that very same evening. Although the kissing ball hung a day before the blog, its life was short lived. This symbol of hope was ripped to shreds by the Northeastern wind with only shrapnel of hope scattered about the yard surrounding the garden.
Meanwhile in my writer’s cottage I was struggling to upload the photos for Friday morning’s blog. The blog was written, edited, reread and uploaded only to sit without its supporting photos. So as not to be late I phoned my Dad, “HELP!” Neither of us could figure out the issue and determined it was with my Internet provider so until they finished their update (or whatever was going on) I would need to wait. With a heavy heart I arrived at work only to hear, “Lisa the kissing ball was destroyed by the wind.” It was the cherry on top of a rotten morning and all I could do was cry. I walked to my room, removed my coat as I prayed for the strength to endure this day and get out of the funk I was in.
The funk passed and I enjoyed our “Secret Santa” reveal and breakfast. My heart was heavy and I couldn’t shake the despair of this symbol hope being destroyed. I asked the woman who made it if she could make a new one but she was “...out of the boxwood”. With the checkbook at zero and a heavy heart, I prayed for God’s love, strength and provision. I apologized if the placing of the ball was selfish and thanked Him for the couple evenings of light in the garden.
THANKFULLY God is in control, not me. Over the weekend a Christmas wreath arrived at the store. It was beautiful and brought happy tears to my eyes. Thank you Jesus, right? No, there is more. God wasn’t done. Monday morning came and so did another kissing ball. A friend and colleague had asked the woman to make me another one and not tell me. (Sneaky, sneaky) More tears, but this time of joy and thanksgiving. As if this wasn’t enough, solar lights for each point of the star have appeared too. The garden is more beautiful this Friday than it was a week ago. Thank you my Christmas angels, you are messengers from God and you have brightened my Christmas ever so much.
God is so amazing. I pray you experience His love for you first hand. Earlier this week I received a message from a friend, “I have something for you, give me a call.” Hmm…What is she up to? Come to find out the person behind this blessing was actually her son and she was the messenger. Well actually the entire family was in on it after they heard his idea. I’ve anxiously waited our getting together but if finally came today.
We met at Dunkin Donuts bright and early this a.m. for coffee, fellowship, and the big reveal. I was not prepared for the generosity and heart expressed through their gift. More happy tears flood my eyes as I read the card with Ecclesiastes 3 on the front and then I open it. Oh my goodness. Anyone who says teenagers don’t care has not met Austin who inspired this beautiful necklace you above. My friend, her husband, son and daughter were at the Believers’ Chapel North on December first. Her son made this statement after returning home, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could come up with a Purple Heart badge for Lisa...I know (she was in battle) the battle for her soul.” Silence…
I am encouraged, motivated, inspired, humbled, wowed, awe struck, and overwhelmed. God’s timing is perfect. I wore my purple heart with such thanksgiving in my heart today. A family of four Christmas angels brought more blessings to me and my entire family this morning.
To all my Christmas angels ~ Thank you for everything. These two little words cannot express the amount of hope, love, and faith you have instilled, uplifted, and grown over the past week. Blessed…I love you all!
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11a
Prior to the release of the “new” Smurf movie, most children wouldn’t have known who these cute little blue and white creatures were. At school when the student’s mouths would be all blue after lunch I would ask, “Did you eat a Smurf for lunch?” With a blank stare in reply, “No…I had a popsicle. What is a Smurf?” ugh…They can describe the newest Call of duty game but they don’t know about these miniscule bundles of joy that worked together, helped others, and shared love with all they met. (Even Gargamel) I have not watched the new movie but the scary looking Smurfs on the commercials make it easy for me to save the $50 and a trip to the theater. YET I know if my sister was with us, she would have taken my daughter regardless of how scary or computer looking they might be.
My bed was adorned with Garfield sheets, stuffed animals (the few I had in life), and posters BUT on the other side of the wall atop all the purple flowered wall covering were Smurf posters and empty packages that once held a Smurf. Heidi had Smurf’ bedding, pillows, stuffed animals (way too many), and anything else marketing came up with to sell. Heidi’s goal was to own at least one of each of the over 100 Smurfs. I think she was close too.
In the early eighties, we watched the Smurf’s cartoon on television EVERY day. If you are familiar with the Smurfs you will remember Gargamel had an orange cat, Azrael. And what color is Garfield? Hmm…Do you know where this is going? You know where this is going don’t you? That’s right; Garfield would chase down the Smurfs and eat them. I would laugh until I nearly wet myself while Heidi cried and ran to tattle on me. It was great until my parents figured out how to even the score.
Today’s photo is an illustration of the oversized Smurf given to Heidi for Christmas one year. A Smurf “big enough to even eat Garfield” my Dad said. Heidi’s typical joyful smile went to one of revenge and scheming – do you see it? She ran upstairs and started to attack every Garfield smaller than her gigantor Smurf. Oh my gosh, I laugh just thinking about it. From that Christmas on – Garfield and I were more cautious before entering the land of blue and white because one never knew where the Smurf on steroids might be hiding.
So much fun!
What is your favorite sibling tease as a child?
If you need a Smurf review: (Be warned adds pop-up)
The memories flood my brain during the holidays. Does this happen to you? The most festive and momentous times of the year tend to take our brains and hearts on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Some remember their loved one with a saddened heart but know they will meet again one day in heaven. Others mourn their loss because they don’t plan on seeing their special someone in heaven. While others are tossed about in confusion – Do we remember her, at the age of eighteen, when she was kidnapped? Or do we pray she is at least warm and cared for during the holiday? Depending on the day, hour and sometime minute, where I am, and sometimes the time of the month will determine my emotional state and clarity of thoughts. Regardless of where my emotions might be, one thing is a constant – I love my sister, choose to remember her, and share her with the world. We MUST move forward. Our loved ones don’t want us hiding in the darkness of despair, or physically hiding in the darkness of our homes – God designed us each with a purpose. He loves us and wants us enjoying life, not running from it.
At first glance the top photograph appears to be a typical Christmas morning in the Allen house. This is true but what it doesn’t tell you directly is that we are pack-rats. Do you see that mint green storage container with the white lid? I still have this in my attic. My mom gave Heidi the mint green set and me, a burgundy set. (I wonder if this is where my obsession for cleanliness and order stems from. LOL) these were the best and twenty years prior to the “storage box” age. Of course the selection wasn’t as vast as today, but we were organized. I still love storage containers but in my fabulous forties, I tend to like wicker and baskets (especially the ones with lids) to organize the house BUT those first remnants of organization, both mint green and burgundy are in the attic in case I need them.
Isn’t she the cutest? This picture just makes me smile, I LOVED our Christmas hats. Mom and Dad took us to Enchanted Forest, the Land of Make Believe (I think that is the name or maybe Fairy Tale Land) and The North Pole one summer when we were little. Besides a photo album of memories there were these great hats, hats I believe we wore until that Christmas. Heidi is so excited in this picture, I’m not sure what gift had her so excited but she must have been jumping up and down. She loved the holidays. Anyone close enough to see her smile and here that laugh, regardless of their previous mood – left joyful.
The hat might be gone but the smile is continuous and contagious. I’m quite sure if Heidi were to know I know only have blogged these photos of her she would have some sisterly love for me, BUT I know for a fact she would be plotting the revenge for sharing this photo declaring her unbrushed hair, glasses and jammies of Christmas morning for the world to see. Since there are far worse pictures of me, she would not have to look hard to get even. Lol Just the thought of a sisterly season of pranks makes me smile and almost laugh. We had so much fun together.
Thankfully, aside from the usual sisterly disagreements, Heidi and I were best friends and enjoyed each other’s company. We spent every Thursday together – whether it be shopping at the mall or simply hanging out to watch old movies. Thursday was our day.
The Lord blessed me with another “Sister Day” this month as I shared my story, writing, and Heidi with the community on December 1st, a Thursday evening. I don’t believe it was coincidence, God gifted me with an opportunity to speak for Heidi on our “sister day”. This photo (below) was taken at my bridal shower, at Gram’s and Aunt Nancy’s house. Heidi was my maid-of-honor and I…was blessed to have her by my side.
Sisters are a gift from God. I lost my one and only sister on that fateful April 3rd morning, yet when I accepted Christ as my Savior – I was blessed, and continue to be with so many more sisters. No one will ever take Heidi’s place yet it is a blessing (and probably miracle), I am happy and overjoyed to say – I love all my sisters! Merry Christmas to my wonderful sister-in-laws and sister’s-in-Christ – May God bless you this Christmas season.
If you could tell your sister ONE thing, what would it be?
For beloved sister, Heidi, I love you, you'll never be forgotten!
Today's clip - one of our favorite movies. I can still see the two of us singing it at our Grandma and Grandpa Allen's on Christmas day, and all through our house each Christmas season. Still one of my favorite movies today.
This fabulous and vibrant lady is my Aunt Kay ~ the hostess-with-the-mostess, to say the least. I have often wondered if the Hogan girl’s invented the “party”. Although a Christmas dinner at Aunt Kay and Uncle Buss’ home was an anticipated event, I was blessed with seeing her nearly daily at my Gram’s house. Gram, Aunt Kay, and my Aunt Judy would sit around the kitchen table and visit for hours. They talked of childhood memories, parenting memories, and their hopes for the future. I looked forward to the day Heidi and I would be retired and gathering daily to remember all the good times and the stories of our children…this day did not come. Thankfully, I have many great friends and a big family so I’m never at a loss for company.
The aroma of the traditional Christmas dinner and Aunt Kay’s spaghetti greeted everyone as we climbed the steep cement steps to their main door. Laughter spilled from every cracked window and the lights were so bright, Niagara Mohawk probably sent her a Christmas card in thanks. A short hallway and then we entered one of the most joyous and celebrated family events. The first room to walk through was the kitchen with my great-aunts gathered in deep conversation (and sometimes “discussion”) yet they always stopped to wish a Merry Christmas to whoever might be crossing the threshold. Hospitality is genetic and vital to the survival of family, and community.
This is a photograph of my Aunt Ellen and my Gram sharing in another Christmas tradition, bring a gift, and get a gift. It was great. Of course the gifts were not nearly as much fun as the coloring sheets, crosswords, and assorted activities Aunt Ellen arrived with. (Now as a teacher I realize she had cleaned out her classroom before leaving to enjoy Christmas break, lol) Regardless of the gift within the wrapping paper, it was the thought that counted.
Although Christmas dinner was served on her good china, this was not the best part about her using the china. She let the kids use it too!! You heard me. Aunt Kay believed everyone – young and old, should celebrate with the best she had to offer. Those that arrived late earned the privilege of paper products or washing their own dish to use a real plate. I’m glad we were always one of the first ones there. My cousin Mark blessed me with these precious, love-filled, and beautiful plates after Aunt Kay and Uncle Buss both passed away.
Once again, my Gram Mary. Gram was ALWAYS quoting nifty sayings and statements. We would kid her about “writing them all down” so we didn’t forget. Her response, “I don’t need to write them down, you need to remember them.” The more I read my Bible, the more I realize Gram was quoting Scripture at me daily! Sneaky, creative, and God loving woman that she was knew if we read our Bibles we would realize her words weren’t all that new but instead quoted from the Greatest Author of all times, God. I’m thankful for my Gram, for the seeds of faith, love, and family she instilled in me and all those around her. She lived out God’s Word without preaching it or hitting someone on the head, even I deserved it sometimes. I can’t wait to hug her in heaven one day. (That is if she can stop celebrating with her beloved siblings long enough, lol)
Christmas is about family, celebrating the birth of Jesus, and taking time to reflect and remember all we have to be thankful for. God gave His One and Only Son for you and me. The least we can give is our time. This time might be spent delivering food to shut-ins, helping a friend in need, serving at the soup kitchen, preparing dinner for your family, or it might be spent sitting alongside your family for the Christmas Eve service and again on Christmas morning. Remember, there wouldn’t be gifts under the tree if Jesus wasn’t born – the least we can do is celebrate with the spunk and energy of the Hogan clan this Christmas season – sharing Jesus’ love for each of us with everyone we meet.
Do you have a favorite family tradition or place to go for Christmas Dinner? Have you ever enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs as your feast? Feel free to share a memory below.
Today’s blog is dedicated to Heidi and Shawnacy – who both lost their lives tragically within a year of each other. They are forev in our thoughts and prayers – I pray to see them one day in heaven. (The photo of them was taken at Aunt Kay and Uncle Buss' one Christmas in the late 80's)
One of my favorite Christmas memories are contained within the four walls of my Gram’s house. Each year the Searles family gathered at Gram and Aunt Nancy’s for a Christmas “breakfast” like no other. The aroma of turkey, ham, homemade stuffing, rolls, and assorted other foods filled the house and met ones nose before even opening the door to enter.
Christmas morning always started with a full Christmas “dinner”. Gram believed family came first, not gifts. No one ever complained and the only reason anyone went to the tree before they fixed their plate, was to hide one last gift for Gram or my aunt without them knowing. I remember watching from my parent’s kitchen window for my aunt’s bedroom light to turn on. Once the light was on, the nagging began. (Yes, I nagged my parents on Christmas morning.) I enjoyed being the first one at the house so I could help my Aunt Nancy wake the house from its slumber with each flip of the switch.
There was a friendly, neighborly rivalry between my Gram and Mr. and Mrs. Leishman. The first half was “Who will have their lights up and on first following Thanksgiving?” and the second part, “Who’s lamppost and house would shine the brightest?” It was a common joke that brought both laughter and good cheer to everyone directly involved and those blessed to enjoy the majesty of lights. Thankfully it never got as out of control as some of the newer movies highlight.
Back to Christmas morning: Usually within minutes of having the last of the lights on and the turkey coming out of the oven, the cars start to pull in the driveway. With the darkness gone, so was the silence. The din of children sharing and proclaiming their gifts along with the adults discussing what time they went to bed. (Why weren’t they in bed earlier? Didn’t they know they probably slowed Santa down?) Once all the food was on the table, it was time to eat.
With the first of two Christmas dinners settled in our stomachs we flood into the living room to watch Gram and Aunt Nancy open their gifts. Gram always sitting in “her” chair, Aunt Nancy on the end of the sofa, either Uncle Jim or Unc in the recliner (depending on who got in their first) and the rest scattered about. The children, well we hovered near the tree in hopes of handing the first gift.
After the final gift is exposed and shared, thanks given to each one personally – Gram shares one final “Merry Christmas” before sending us all home to enjoy our gifts, nap, and shower and prepare for the next dinner. I could have stayed there all day yet I knew in a few short hours we would all be together again.
Christmas morning started with a mere twenty or so – aunts, uncles, and cousins. Christmas night brought these same relatives along with my great aunts, great uncles, and 2nd and 3rd generation cousins together at my Aunt Kay and Uncle Buss’ home. Looking forward to sharing more tomorrow –see you then!
I’m not sure what I like most about this photograph. Is it the golden rod colored carpeting with coordinating flowered wallpaper? Is it my Barbie van tucked behind the dining room table? The tree covered with handmade ornaments? The dollhouse made by my Uncle Tom adorned with the furniture chosen by my mom? Or the multiple sets of encyclopedias on the shelf? I don’t know…all bring a smile to my face and memories flooding my mind.
Each year my mom sat ever so patiently with Heidi and me to “make” our annual tree ornaments. When we were little Mom came up with the best crafts with our Christmas ones being our favorite. From snowmen to snowflakes and as we got older, Santa coming out of the chimney – this one required pushing two little pins on either side of each “brick” to hold it on the Styrofoam chimney. I believe I have one of the most patient mothers, I’m not sure I would do that with my teen more less two elementary age children. I’m thankful she did though – she was the best.
Creativity must run in the family. My Uncle Tom, Mom’s brother used to build nativities and dollhouses (to only name a couple). We loved our doll house so much. First, because it was bigger and had more rooms than any of our friends but mostly because we knew Uncle Tom had put his heart and sweat into it. An expert carpenter building and creating. There were multiple occasions I watched my daughter play and rearrange the furniture in “Mom and Aunt Heidi’s” dollhouse. With tears in my eyes and hope in my heart...the gift keeps giving. One day, I’ll watch my grandchildren play with this same dollhouse. Priceless.
Do you see the multiple sets of encyclopedias on the bookshelf? I loved to look through them. A treasure lost in the digital age. I could lose myself between the covers for hours – sometimes to visit another country or maybe to learn a new custom. One of my favorite assignments over a break (or anytime, probably, lol) was for a research project. This meant I had a purpose and direction to flip through the entire alphabet. Often I couldn’t find the information I was looking for so I would walk to my Gram’s and Aunt Nancy’s house so I could look through their sets. I loved it. I would take meticulous notes and most were saved until after graduation. Thankfully I purged in the transition from home with my parents to owning my first house with my husband. We would have a room full of “notes”.
One last item is the yellow sled. The sled I believe is still nestled in the rafters of my parent’s garage. Tattered and grungy yet another memory of a childhood of laughter, joy and a family of four. Although Heidi might not be in the photo – it triggers the memories from playing together at the dollhouse to fighting over who would have the bigger bedroom in the upstairs. LOL
Do you have a favorite “homemade” gift you were given at Christmas? Who gave it to you? How old were you? Does the memory bring you joy? Will you share your memory with us today?
Reflect, remember, and share. There is healing waiting to happen…will you let it?
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Psalm 147:3 - 4
The series prior to Easter was such a success I’ve decided to dedicate the days leading to Christmas with memories of Heidi and me once again. This time focused around some of our Christmas memories specifically. I pray you enjoy and are blessed as you learn a little more about me, my beautiful sister and our relationships with each other and our family.
When I saw this photograph an instant smile plastered my face. She is so cute. I’m not sure what has my attention so captured that I couldn’t look up for the photo but that is alright. The wrapping paper carpeting is wonderful. My mom wrapped EVERYTHING. I honestly believe my parents enjoyed watching us open our gifts more than to see us engaged with the gift a month later. Don’t get me wrong, they liked to know we used the gifts but their smiles and exchanged glances while we opened and tossed wrapping paper everywhere…were, and still are, pure joy.
There was another photo of Heidi and me posing in front of the tree for the traditional Christmas morning photo BEFORE we could open any of the gifts. As a mom, I understand the beauty of a photo before the gifts are open yet as a child it was nothing less than torture. So many gifts waiting to be discovered and we had to stop and pose. Thank goodness we did, the photos now retain my memories.
The archery kit behind me was my “big” gift for the year. We learned how to shoot with a bow and arrow during physical education class in middle school and I became infatuated with learning how to shoot. With my very own bow, arrows, and target I was excited to get started. Of course Dad made sure I knew all the safety rules, proper posture and holding, and that I could focus (a skill set I struggled with, lol) before he would release me to shoot.
The hours spent outside with my dad “learning” how to shoot are priceless gifts ~ far better than the actual gift. Time is definitely one of my love languages. Thanks Dad for always making sure we knew and understood the rules and safety precautions in all aspects of life, not just at Christmas.
I pray you have happy memories of Christmas with your family, friends, and loved ones. Memories of joyful, laughter filled, time together. We were and are blessed with each of these daily – we don’t wait for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
No one knows what tomorrow will bring; only God does. We chose to savor and cherish our time together making it like Christmas every day.
Christmas 94’ was difficult. If you have lost a loved one, you understand the apprehension and fear associated with the notion of “celebrating” the holiday without them at your traditional festivities. We lost Heidi on Easter Sunday with other deaths between her disappearance and Christmas. The only gift my parents wanted for Christmas was the return of Heidi to their lives.
This past April I blogged about the Christmas tree my husband and I bought for my parents. They only let us bring it in to make me happy and then it was set outside to die yet when the Spring came and Dad planted it, it not only grew but it flourished. That first tree following Heidi’s kidnapping was a sign of hope and today it stands over thirty-four feet tall.
http://lisabuske.weebly.com/1/post/2011/04/it-wont-make-it-yet-he-planted-itfor-me.html to view original post of inspiration
Little did I know back in April but this very blog inspired my parents. As I moved on to write the next blog, they started to plan my Christmas surprise for 2011. Although the tree stands proudly on my parent’s property, it was loaned to me for this Christmas. During the first snowfall of the season my father, husband, and brother-in-law worked to string lights and two angels on the tree to surprise me when I got there.
1994 represented the first Christmas without my one and only sister. Eighteen years old when she went missing and this will be our eighteenth year without her laughing and unwrapping alongside us on Christmas morning. This is the first timeline indicator to recognize Heidi has been missing for as long as the Lord gifted her to us. A concept I struggle with.
My parents know me so well. Eighteen years ago they needed hope and joy at Christmas. The very tree that helped them get through continues to bring me a smile every time I drive to my parent’s house after dark this year. There is no darkness in Heidi’s family this festive and beautiful Christmas season – there is Light! Thirty-four feet of stringed light guarded by two angels to remind me and anyone who might travel past – Heidi will NEVER be forgotten.
I love my Christmas gift and it is a constant reminder of God’s (and my parent’s) love for me. They knew I needed some extra “light” this holiday season. We will be celebrating and remembering this holiday season. I pray you will do the same.
For the next week and until Christmas Day I will be doing a blog series, “Christmas Memories” to remember and honor Heidi. I pray you’ll take time to visit the blog daily to share a memory and more childhood photographs.
Turn your lights on – Jesus Christ's birthday is a joyous occasion! Let's celebrate together...
For the past couple weeks, since the white roses and pansies realized they were blooming out of season, the Heidi Allen Memory Garden located at the intersection of Route 104 and 104b in New Haven has been dark and full of death. The array of beautiful flowers and greenery have shriveled and died. The lilac trees appear to be sticks more than trees. Thanks to daylight savings time, the garden is surrounded by darkness when I go by in the morning and when I drive past later in the evening. The darkness in this place of remembrance was starting to get me down, “Lord, is there a way to return light and joy to Heidi’s garden during the winter?”
Not only did He answer, He answered the same day while I was at school. During lunch one of the teachers shared of her talent to make wreaths, miniature trees, and kissing balls. “What is a kissing ball?” I ask. She explains it and then one of my friends tells how she hangs them at the cemetery for Christmas instead of a wreath. Thank you Jesus, you are so good.
I ordered one and left school with a little pep in my step knowing there would be a little Christmas joy in the Heidi garden. I couldn’t wait to hang it on my shepherd’s hook for those traveling by to see. A visual reminder, we haven’t forgotten Heidi and there is still hope. She brought it to school and I took it down after dark so I could see the transformation, only to be leave disappointed. The garden was so dark, you couldn’t see it.
I shared the surprise with my parents and then the disappointment. The following day they found a way to bring light to the garden. It is beautiful. Thanks to John at Sun Up #7 and my father’s creative electronics, there is a light shining on the kissing ball now. Instead of darkness, there is light. Instead of despair, there is joy.
Merry Christmas Heidi
and our beloved
New Haven Community!
A little history of the “kissing ball”
“…The kissing ball comes to us from that time, too. During the Middle Ages, villagers would wind together twine and evergreen branches into a ramshackle ball shape. In the center of this conglomeration of evergreen boughs they would place a clay figure of an infant to represent the baby Jesus. These "holy boughs", as they were called, would be hung from the ceiling along passageways in castles and big houses to render blessings and good luck to all who passed under the bough and the holy infant…” http://jeannegrunert.hubpages.com/hub/The-history-of-the-Christmas-kissing-ball
Beautiful with meaning – blessings and good luck to all that pass by the Heidi garden this holiday season from our family to yours.
One of the blogs I follow is "Diane Estrella: That's What I'm Here For". On her blog she posts book reviews and snip-its of life that always bring a smile to my face. This past Monday she posted a blog titled "In Memory of..." with a beautiful photograph of her mother and shared some of her memories.
She invited those following the blog to "link up" and share our stories to remember our loved ones during the holidays. Elaine W. Miller blogged shared ways NOT to be depressed during the holidays, but instead - JOYful! One way I think is to remember the people in our lives that made us smiles for so many years.
After meeting some of my family I chose to remember during the holidays and throughout the year (because they helped to make me who I am today) ~ I invite you to "link up" to Diane Estrella's site at http://dianeestrella.com/?p=7578 to meet some other wonderful people today.
Merry Christmas Everyone! A "Christmas Series" begins tomorrow, Mom and I have been going through the old albums again. Get ready...
In remembrance of my beautiful sister, Heidi M. Allen who was kidnapped on April 3rd, 1994 while working alone at the D & W Convenience Store in New Haven, New York. Heidi is still missing today but never forgotten. We continue to pray she will be found. (left)
In remembrance of my joyful cousin, Shawnacy Searles who was killed in a motorcycle accident the following year after Heidi's kidnapping. (right)
In remembrance of my Gram and her siblings, my Great Aunts and Uncles. From left to right: Aunt Judy Spencer, Uncle Bob Hogan, My Gram Mary, Uncle Bill Hogan, Aunt Kit and Aunt Ellen. With the exception of my Great Uncle Bill who celebrates his 90th birthday next week on Christmas, this portion of the wonderful and fun-loving Hogan clan are celebrating in heaven.
In remembrance of my Uncle Tom (black suit/white shirt on the right) and my Aunt Nancy (far right with white and red on). Uncle Tom the year after Heidi disappeared and my beloved aunt passed away after a valiant battle against cancer.
In remembrance of my Grandma and Grandpa Allen, my dad's parents. They were still holding hands in their retirement, this photo was taken while celebrating Christmas in Florida with my Aunt Bev and Uncle Don. They were too cute.
In remembrance of my Gram Mary and Grandpa Searles. (my mom's parents) Grandpa died when I was in 3rd grade during "test week" so I still had to go to school and couldn't attend the funeral. Haven't forgot that. Gram passed away in 1998, thankfully after meeting her great-grandaughter. One of my daughter's name sakes.
In remembrance of my wonderful cousin Terry Downing (above, dancing with my Great Aunt Judy) and my father's best friend, Wick Duell.
There are so many I wish to share a photo and introduction in their honor yet the blog would be too long. To mention but a few - my cousin Tracy, Uncle Pete, Uncle Buss, and the friends, neighbors, and family near and far that have blessed me and helped to make me who I am today. Thank you and you are never forgotten.
During this advent season as I read my devotionals, Scripture references and listen to Pastor’s messages to prepare my heart for the celebration of Christ’s birth this Christmas there is one aspect that continues to catch my attention. Jesus Christ was not born at a spa-like hospital with His own sweet and birthing room but in a manger. Jesus Christ didn’t take his first slumber in the luxury of a crib from the name brand store you prefer to shop at but instead, he lay in a feed trough. Nestled and warm. Loved and blessed.
Five years ago I followed the Holy Spirit’s leading and chose to be baptized again. I was first baptized at the age of fifteen, alongside of my sister at the Catholic Church in Mexico, New York. Yet after accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior I realized I had been baptized for all the wrong reasons so I decided to be baptized again. This time, full submersion.
In front of my church, family, and friends the pastor baptized me in a feeding trough full of ice cold water. Thankfully the ladies at church were ready with warm towels and wrapped me in both the warmth of the towel and their love. The minimal seconds underwater were amazing and felt like minutes.
If those few seconds beneath the cold water of baptism in the feed trough are even a sneak-peak into the peace and beauty of eternity with Jesus...wow! I missed the hidden blessing until now, anyone can be baptized in the lake, a pool, or a baptismal tub
One of the greatest gifts you can give God, others, and yourself this advent season is time with in prayer, thanksgiving, and admiration of Jesus – the reason for the preparation and excitement.
Set aside some time this week and read the first non-fiction story of Christmas:
· Matthew 1:18 – 2:23
· Luke 2:1 - 39
Do you have a favorite advent tradition you would like to share? A favorite devotional or Scripture reading plan? Feel free to share in a comment below.
Thanksgiving is near. I start my morning devotions by giving thanks for all I have, all I have endured, and all the blessings I don't even recognize. I pray you take time to reflect and recognize the blessings in your life. Here is a small list of praises this Thanksgiving season.
Birth of our Savior fast approaching
Christ's death on the cross
Dedicated to doing what is right
Ed - my wonderful, goofy, & loving husband
Freedom to say "I'm a Chrstian"
Gift? Well Jesus is the best one of them all
Hope I will see my sister again one day
Integrity - His Word provides ways we can live as men and women of integrity
Jesus Christ - suffered,died, buried and rose again
King - Jesus the first King
Love all around me
Mary Margaret - our miracle baby
New skills and gifts revealed when we obey
Old friendships - reunited
Parents who encourage and model values
Qualities strengthened through my relationship with Jesus
Reborn - a new beginning
Salvation - the gift available to everyone
Trust - it is possible to trust again after tragedy
Understanding God didn't take my sister
Victory over the fear, hurt, anger, & loss
Writing for Him - a privilege and gift
X'ellant and awesome God
Yearns to spend time with us
Zoo - we may be a wild mix of human beings of all different personalities and color yet this is the beauty of mankind - "God made each of us in HIS image!" So really, are we that different after all?
What does your alphabet of praises look like? I pray you take time to develop your own list of praises.
Thank God for all He has blessed you with and thank those in your life God might be using as a vessel to deliver his blessings.
I invite you to share one of your praises of thanksgiving with your family, friends and your fellow bloggers. Who knows, your praise might be another's encouragement today.
"With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid."
Lisa M Buske
P.O. Box 323