Sunday, December 29, 2013

Angels

I've been thinking a lot about angels lately.

I suppose it has to do with my reading and studying of, "Angels: Agents of Light, Love, and Power," by Don Parry.  After more than twenty years of research, Parry concludes that even though the ministrations and operations of angels are largely unknown to mortals, they still move about the earth conducting the Lord's divine work.  Wondrously, they serve, minister, and mingle among mortals.

One of my favorite quotes is from the brilliant and poetic Jeffrey R. Holland.  He said, "When we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil.  Some of them we walk with and talk with--here, now, every day.  Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods.  Some of them gave birth to us...  Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."

I decided to create a challenge for myself.  For the past couple of months, I have made a concerted effort to notice and celebrate the angels in my life.  And something wonderful has happened...  I have discovered angels among us.

I awoke early one Sunday morning to the sound of a scrapping shovel on a sidewalk.  I peeked out my blinds and saw my neighbor shoveling the snow.  He was busy shoveling the walkways for all the people on our streetAn angel among us.

On September 24th, after a dreadfully long day in the hospital, I offered a prayer to heaven.  I told God I was ready--ready to be a good mother, ready to love the choice spirit that would grace our home and family.  With tears running down my cheeks, I asked Him to send her down; from His hands to mine.  Within minutes, I felt pressure and a strong urge to push.  I gave birth to an angel that day; an angel among us.


A woman I've never met, who has supported me in my talents for some time, sent a package in the mail.  When I opened the box, I found a baby gift for Bridget and a bottle of pink nail polish for me.  Her sweet card made me cry.  An angel among us.


Angels are husbands who offer hugs in the midst of sadness.  Angels are daughters who wave from cars as their daddies take them to school.  Angels are grocery store cashiers who treat customers like friends and who pay sincere compliments.  They are sisters-in-law who bring meals and ease burdens.  They are strangers in a Costco line, who pay for the items in a young family's cart.  Angels are fathers who "answer the call" (or text) when one of their fold is fearful; lost in the dark-gray fog of postpartum depression.

What have I learned?  As I've prayed to recognize the "angels" in my neighborhood, in my life?  That our loving Heavenly Father is a keeper of promises:  "For I will go before your face...and mine angels around you, to bear you up."

They are among us.
They are everywhere.

You just have to look.  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dear Santa

Dear Santa:  All I want for Christmas this year is for my daughter to finally remember to flush the toilet after she uses it.  Thanks and love, Aleisha


Dear Santa:  I have changed my mind.  For Christmas this year, I would like a filter.  So I don't just blurt out whatever kooky thing comes to my mind.  Oh!  And I want a hearing aid for my mom.  So when I tell her, "I'm asking Santa for a filter," she doesn't ask, "Why do you want a futon?"  Thanks and love, Aleisha


Dear Santa:  For Christmas this year I would really like a mermaid costume.  My daughter, Lilly, has been running around in hers all weekend and....well....it just looks like a lot of fun.  Can you help a girl out?  Thanks and love, Aleisha

Dear Santa:  You guessed it...I've changed my mind!  All I want for Christmas this year is for children to be kept safe while attending school.  Much thanks and love, Aleisha


Dear Santa:  I just thought of something else I would like for Christmas.  Last night, I watched "The Holiday" while wrapping some Christmas gifts.  That Jude Law is gorgeous!  I want him.  Thanks and love, Aleisha

Dear Santa:  Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...I have changed my mind AGAIN!  I hesitate writing this letter since my request may be deemed "controversial" by some.  Nevertheless, I must tell you that all I want for Christmas this year is for that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad song, "Christmas Shoes," to go away.  Far, far away.  And never come back, ever!  Can you grant me this single Christmas wish?  I would be most grateful.  (And I have a hunch that MANY others would be grateful too.)  Love, Aleisha, who is not a Scrooge

Dear Santa:  I was in the kitchen making some Christmas goodies when James walked up behind me and started singing "White Christmas" in my ear.  Did I mention he was doing it in his best Neil Diamond voice?!  I laughed, turned around, looked up at his ridiculously good looking face, and realized I already have everything I could ever want for Christmas.  Thank you anyway!  Good luck tonight.  Love, Aleisha 


Merry Christmas From The Mama! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

If I Had Been In Bethlehem...

I remember the labor and delivery nurse who attended to me while I was having Lilly.  She was a young mom herself, with pretty blond hair, light eyes, and a warm smile.  She catered to my needs and treated me with kindness and understanding.  She kept me informed of all that was happening in my delivery room; valuable information when you are about to embark on something that is both scary AND unknown.  I appreciated her tremendously, and was grateful she was there for me.


The labor and delivery nurse assigned to me when I had Camren was older--her children were grown and the mention of her grandchildren put a smile on her face.  She was funny and easy to talk to, and I knew we'd hit it off the moment I saw her short, "rock star" hair.  She had tremendous experience in the delivery room--as a mother of six and a nurse of over twenty years.  I was grateful for her "matter-of-factness," her calm demeanor, her humor, and her wisdom.  When it came time to bring my baby boy into the world, she was the one who said to me, "You can do this.  You're going to be amazing."


Women administering to other women during the birth of a child is a common, age-old practice; a beautiful service that dates back to biblical times.  It is among the earliest and most widespread functions in human society.  According to the “Jewish Women's Archives,” midwives were present (and significant) in ancient Israeli society.  They were expected to provide comfort, pain relief, and encouragement to the woman giving birth.  They performed rituals and prayers that would protect the woman and her baby.  Before each birth, they prayed that God would assist the expectant mother, that she would birth quickly and safely.  Ancient Jewish midwives aided in the actual birth of the baby, as well as supervised aftercare for the mother and her newborn.  And most wonderfully, Jewish women and midwives exhibited a deep reverence for childbirth, that stemmed from an understanding that birth is Godly in nature.

The day Bridget was born.
Typically, a woman giving birth was surrounded by women she knew and trusted—her relatives and friends.  Her loved ones would gather around her-- working in shifts to massage her or to wipe her face and body with damp cloths.  Birth usually took place on birth stones or on a birth stool, and the laboring woman was supported under the arms by other women.

The laboring woman was supported by other women.

As Christmas approaches, I reflect on the holy mother, Mary.  I wonder if she experienced moments of fear, anxiety, and pain as she prepared to give birth to our Savior.  I wonder who supported her.  Joseph must have offered her great solace and love...but had another woman been there, to administer to her, to help her?  To aid in her delivery and to stay by her side?  To pray for her and her precious, perfect baby?  To wipe her brow?  To hold her hand?

If I had been in Bethlehem on that sacred Christmas night, I know exactly where I would have wanted to be.  I would have wanted to be with Mary.  I would have wanted to encourage her with loving, positive sentiments--as an inherently nurturing woman and as one who sympathizes with the experience of bringing a child into the world.  And I would have wanted to honor her in quiet reverence, for being a most choice sister in humankind's eternal family. 

I would have wanted to be the one to take her in my arms and say, “You can do this.  You're going to be amazing.”    

Monday, December 16, 2013

HUGE Holiday Baking Giveaway!!

Holiday Baking Giveaway and Cinnamon Roll Kabobs by www.whatscookingwithruthie.com

We are excited to share our Holiday Baking Giveaway and Cinnamon Roll Kabobs with you!

A group of your favorite bloggers got together and wanted to share a bit of Holiday cheer with all of our readers because we LOVE you! AND we all love baking and sharing yummy-delicious recipes too! Be sure to enter below to win a $100 Kroger gift card, Kroger Baking gift pack, Le Creuset Stoneware Bakers, Apron and Oven Mitt, Non-stick Silicon Baking Mats, and Rachael Ray Kitchen Tools!   

Holiday Baking Giveaway and Cinnamon Roll Kabobs by www.whatscookingwithruthie.com

Photo by Ruthie Knudsen of Whats Cooking with Ruthie

Plus, have you been searching for a Christmas morning simple and easy breakfast idea??   Look no further!  These Cinnamon Roll Kabobs are just the thing you've been craving...

Holiday Baking Giveaway and Cinnamon Roll Kabobs
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Ruthie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 (12oz) grands jr biscuits
  • 1 (3.5oz) private selections cinnamon brown sugar sweet finishing butter
  • 10 wooden skewers
  • Glaze:
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1-3 tsp milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. Coat half sheet pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. On a piece of parchment paper, roll out one biscuit to approx 3x4 rectangle.
  4. Spread 1 1/2 tsp finishing butter on biscuit.
  5. Roll up dough length wise, cut into 4 mini cinnamon rolls.
  6. Skewer the cinnamon rolls, place on pan, repeat with remaining biscuits.
  7. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  8. Brush with additional cinnamon brown sugar finishing butter.
  9. Drizzle with frosting and serve hot.
  10. Frosting:
  11. Combine butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a small mixing bowl; mix until smooth.
  12. Add milk 1 tsp at a time- looking for drizzle but thick enough to hold on rolls.
  Happy Holidays and Happy Baking!! Fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below to enter to win the Holiday Baking Giveaway! Best of Luck and Thank You so much for following our blogs... a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fancy Woman; A Giveaway

It was a frigid afternoon.  Lilly and I were busy "Christmas crafting."  I was making a holiday banner out of festive scrapbook paper, and Lilly was actively assembling penguins from a foam cut-out kit.  She was making a penguin to represent each member of her family.

"Mom," she said, "I made a mom penguin for you." 

"You did?," I excitedly asked.  "Let me see."

She held up the penguin and said, "I put a sparkly green scarf on your penguin.  You know...because you are a fancy woman."


A FANCY WOMAN!  Ha!  That kid cracks me up!  Nevertheless, I'm proud to say that she knows me well.  I DO like things that sparkle.  I DO like to adorn myself with pretty and interesting accessories.  (And I have a perfectly healthy obsession with glitter!)

If you would like to "get fancy" this holiday season, visit bluenile.com!  My goodness, their jewelry is beyond gorgeous.  You can take their "Leave Nothing to Chance" quiz on their site--a new app they launched--to get a personalized infographic about your style and "likes."  The best part?  After you answer a series of questions, you are given product recommendations that would best fit your style!  Fab!

The darlings at Blue Nile would like to give one VERY LUCKY Mama Leisha reader a $50 gift certificate.  ***insert squealing and jumping up and down here***  Merriest of Christmases to one of YOU.  Entering is easy; fill out the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ALSO, as if that wasn't enough, Blue Nile is graciously offering a discount to my readers!  You can get 10% off a purchase at bluenile.com, until December 31st.*  Simply use the code:  BNAPP2013  You will enter the code into the "Reference Code" box at checkout.  THANK YOU, BLUE NILE!

As one fancy (ha!) woman to another, I hope you will "get your fancy on" this holiday season!  You deserve the extra sparkle!





*Valid on select regularly-priced jewelry excluding loose diamonds, settings and Build Your Own Diamond Jewelry™. Offer not valid on sale merchandise, gift certificates, Monique Lhuillier jewelry, back-ordered items, polishing cloth, and jewelry cleaner purchases. Reference code BNAPP2013 must be entered in cart or mentioned over phone at time of purchase. Offer may not be combined with any other offer, cannot be applied retroactively, and applies to US customers only. Void where prohibited. Offer expires 11:59pm PST 12/31/2013. The offer terms and conditions are subject to change at any time without prior notice. Other restrictions may apply.



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas From Heaven; A Special Giveaway

I had never had children beg at my feet before.

But then, many years ago, I found myself traveling through very rural areas in China with some friends.  One particular area was eye-opening to this Utah girl who had never been to a severely poverty-stricken place.  Women were cooking their meals outside, over open flame.  Bathrooms were makeshift sheds located several feet from tiny homes.  Barefoot children, with dirt on their beautiful faces, were playing games in a dusty, unpaved street.  When they saw our bus, they came running.


I was to learn that the Chinese children would follow my American friends and I everywhere we went.  Some wanted pictures with us, some were curious and just wanted to look at us, others wanted any change we could spare.  There was a common thread amongst them all--they wanted our "American" candy.

I would watch their faces light up--eyes sparkling like stars, mouths turning upwards to smiles--when I handed out my Starbursts!  It was humbling.  It was life changing.

There's something universal, binding, simple, innocent, and lovely about a sweet treat.  No matter the language, no matter the culture, children respond joyfully to "sugary" acts of kindness.


The new book, "Christmas From Heaven," tells the true story of Lt. Gail Halvorsen, the Berlin candy bomber--a man who exhibited great love for the children of Germany by showering them with candy.  Literally, as he (a young US Army Air Corp pilot) dropped parachuted candy from the sky while flying over Tempelhof Air base.  He saw how they would gather at the fence of the air base--these young survivors of a war-torn land--and knew he had to do something for them.  The idea to "bomb" Berlin with candy sprang forth, and as the press release states:  "Lt. Halvorsen's small idea became a great symbol of hope not only to German children in a bombed-out city but to those who yearned for freedom."

The book is beautifully illustrated by Robert T. Barrett and includes actual photographs of Halvorsen.  (I thought this added detail was wonderful!)  The book also comes with a CD; the story being read by the incomparable Tom Brokaw.


If you would like to purchase this touching and emotional Christmas book, you can do so here:   http://deseretbook.com/Christmas-Heaven-Tom-Brokaw/i/5108410  OR, you may enter the drawing to win one; a true Christmas treat from the amazing people at Deseret Book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I hope you will remember to show genuine kindness this holiday season, as Lt. Gail Halvorsen did.  I hope you will remember to see joy this month, as I did in those rural Chinese villages.  And I hope you will remember that love matters and charity never fails.

The candy--albeit delicious--is not required!  
            

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

To Be A Fly On My Wall...

Scene:  My kitchen, with the fabulously red accent wall.  Dishes are in the sink, but who cares, because there are pumpkin bagels on the counter!  James and I are standing by the magnet-adorned refrigerator.  Lilly is sitting at the table, doing her math homework.

Me, to James:  We heard you singing.
James:  You what?
Me:  I was upstairs with Lilly, helping her out of the bathtub, and we heard you singing down here.
Lilly:  It was really funny, Dad!
Me:  It made us laugh.  You were singing like a total rock star.
Lilly:  Yea...or like a goober.

 


Friends, I hope your day is rockin'!  
(Speaking of rocking...time to pay a visit to my rocking chair, to put a wee babe down for a nap.)