Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Christmas Season of Great Joy


It is always amazing to stand at the pinnacle of the ending of one year, 
looking forward to the year that approaches, 
then backward at the year that was, 
and wonder at just how quickly the days passed 
that brought us to this place.  

Once a year, we have a special day set aside to remember the miraculous night over 2000 years ago when the Savior who spoke this world into existence wrapped himself into the confinements of a fleshly body, and made himself of no big fanfare or fancy attire and surroundings, but chose the setting of His birth to a young virgin and a carpenter in a lonely outcast stable where animals were the only witnesses to His birth.  The greatest birth in the entire history of the world took place in a most unassuming and simple way.  For that reason, we never want to forget the love of our Creator, who came knowing His purpose was to die, and who humbled himself to the limits, burdens, and cares of humankind, just so He would truly understand, and know our every heartache, pain, hurt, care and deepest needs. My heart rejoices to know that our precious Lord did this for me!  

And so the busy-ness of the season and all that comes with it descends upon us every year, but may we never forget Jesus, the reason for the season! 

I was so thankful that the clouds parted on December 21, when the alignment of two planets came together to possibly create the same star formation the wisemen may have seen that led them to Bethlehem 2000 years ago.  It was a cloudy day, and most people were not able to see the star in our area.  I walked right at sunset, and the skies parted, and I was able to glimpse this beautiful formation in the skies! In the picture, if you look under the "B" you can see the star.  

As I walked that night, the most incredible sunset appeared in the skies.  Truthfully, we had not even seen the skies for days, as clouds and fog had set in.  It was truly miraculous as I walked to see the skies unfold, the clouds roll back, and this magnificent sunset to preclude the Bethlehem Star.  
Did you get to see this star? 

As I watched the sunset unfold before me, I thought it might be a good opportunity to get a good picture of the dogs.  Well... you can see that didn't go so well... I had to chuckle at this picture! 
Perhaps you have a good caption for this photo? Do share, if you do!
(My dogs don't like to look at the camera, and that is really why they weren't looking at me, ha!)

There is something about this picture that just speaks of peace and tranquility to my heart.  This is of a neighbor's home viewed from the back acreage of our property.  

Another beautiful sunset... no snow! We've had no snow for several weeks, just heavy fog and frost. 

I had saved some of my pumpkins from my garden to
make Christmas pumpkin pies (my family's favorite pie!) 

Sliced pumpkins just out of the oven, which is how I cook them, before I puree them for the pie. 

I let this pie cook a little longer as the puree seemed watery, and I wanted to make sure the pie was done.  I can tell you, this pie tastes just so amazing! There is no comparison to pies made with the pie filling you get from the store.  In fact, I've heard that the pumpkin pie mix is actually mixed with other squash varieties besides pumpkin.  This is purely pumpkin puree and the flavor is so good.  I love to grow my own pumpkins just for this reason... my family's favorite pie! 

My chickens enjoying the veggie scraps from all my pie and Christmas baking! 

I made this platter of cheeses, fruits, and nuts to set out for Christmas Day
for us all to nibble on... as if we needed any more food {smiles}

What's Christmas dinner without homemade rolls? I don't know, as it has always been a tradition at our home to have fresh homemade rolls. I use a 30-minute roll recipe.  It has been a family favorite. 

Our family enjoyed a traditional Christmas dinner with turkey, creamed potatoes and gravy, broccoli & cheese casserole, homemade stuffing, glazed carrots, Caesar salad, and homemade cranberry sauce.  It was a feast indeed... and we enjoyed our time together so much.  I kept the desserts simple this year - pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and apple pie.  However, I neglected to get any pictures of pecan or apple... but we enjoyed them heartily.  

As we opened our gifts shared with each other, it was wonderful to spend the time with our kids and a special gift to us this year, was the addition of a new son (in-law) to our family.  We are so thankful for Zak, and enjoyed a special day celebrating with our kids, and remembering Jesus, our Savior and Lord who has blessed us abundantly beyond measure.  

As this Christmas holiday season continues into this week with the New Year approaching, my heart is deeply grateful for all the many and rich blessings of the Lord.  I know that this year has been such a tough year for so many people, in so many different ways.  

However, when we think of blessings, we often think of good things that don't hurt or feel painful.  But when I remember our Lord's admonishment in Matthew 5 when he begins to share what blessings really mean in His kingdom... perhaps we can look at things in a different light. 

Matthew 5:1-12
1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: 
and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,  
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. 

If this year has been a difficult time for you and you identify deeply with any of the "blessed" above, then perhaps you may understand that the Lord looks at the difficulties our human nature faces, and sees that the difficult things that come into our lives are used for a greater and higher purpose, which has a deeper weight of blessing in our lives than just material or earthly things.  

So let your heart be encouraged, whatever you may be facing, our Lord didn't shield himself from pain and suffering as He came to this earth in a most difficult position and circumstance.  He never hid himself from the pain of humanity but rather immersed himself in it, and He understands and knows far more of what your heart's cries are than any other.  Do not be afraid to call upon Him, turn to Him, and seek His face in the midst of the turmoil found in our world today... His peace passes understanding, and His joy is rich and full in spite of circumstances, and His greatest gift is eternal life with Him.  How grateful I am that we have such rich promises to hold onto and trust in!

I pray the peace of the Lord Jesus, and the joy of what His coming meant to this earth will bless your hearts, and sustain you today, and throughout the remainder of this year, and into the coming New Year 2021! 


  1. Beautiful photos, Marilyn, and such encouragement for us as we face a New Year. Yes, we need to keep our eyes and hearts tuned into Jesus; He will see us through all the turmoil and uncertainty in this world. Thanks so much for your Christmas card and the thoughtful gift tucked inside!

  2. That last photo is breathtaking! And I loved them all. Pass those rolls to me and I would just make a meal out of them! So yummy! Happy New year!

  3. Marilyn, you take such stunning photos. I did see the Star of Bethlehem too. I waited outside for 45 minutes waiting for the alignment. My photos aren't as good as your though because we're too close to Spokane's city lights. That sunset. Just WOW! God is SO good!
    I'm glad you had a wondrous Christmas and your words in this post touched my heart. You are such a gifted writer. What a blessing that is for the rest of us.
    Our Chloe won't look at the camera either. I wonder why that is?
    Take care Marilyn. I'm praying for God's peace in the new year. Who knows what the year will bring, but we do know one thing. He will never leave us or forsake us. He promised us that.
    Blessings and hugs,

  4. Happy New Year, Marilyn. Your images of sky and nature, table and peace always touch my heart, give me cause for pause and gratitude.

    Looking forward to connecting in the year ahead ...

    Bless you!

  5. The sky/cloud photos are amazing and make a nice background for the dogs with whom I can sympathize because I'm not fond of having my picture taken either.
    Wishing you and your family a blessed New Year.

  6. The pictures are gorgeous! Thank you for another beautiful post and words of encouragement! I love that verse from Matthew and it always lifts me up when I read it!

  7. Looks like you enjoyed a memorable and meaningful time at Christmas! Praying God prepares us for whatever lies ahead!

  8. Lovely photos. all that food looks so delicious and even though I am not hungry, it made me want to try some of it. 2020 has been a year of changes for me, mostly good changes, but I am more than ready to have restrictions lifted around here.

  9. Oh my - I am speechless at the beauty of your photos today! I'm glad you got a glimpse of the star. It was so cloudy here, so we couldn't see it.
    Your meal looks so good. Would you share the roll recipe if it isn't a family secret?
    Those are great verses to end this year with. We truly are blessed.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing. It blessed me very much.

  11. An absolutely wonderful post and a blessing to see the photos! Thank you for taking the time to write these beautiful words of inspiration. ๐Ÿ’–

  12. The sunset photos are AMAZING!!!! Love you, my friend!

  13. Oh Marilyn... you've caught such stunning sky photos.... it's as if the Heavens were welcoming the Bethlehem Star that night! or putting on a show just before it occurred. We didn't see it as was cloudy. Had been clear earlier in the day but the clouds rolled in and blocked it. I don't think I've EVER seen such beautiful skies as these photos you've taken - and that you got to witness it is so magical! And your dinner and pies.... you say it was "simple" but I think making pumpkin pies from scratch is not simple! nor is apple pie and pecan pie! And homemade rolls! wow.. I would LOVE some homemade rolls but I can't eat gluten at all. My mom used to make homemade cinnamon rolls which we would have on Christmas morning.. such a wonderful tradition for us. I've tried homemade yeast rolls that are gluten free, but they just don't turn out well at all. Sigh. I'm glad you were blessed to be able to have your children with you and your son-in-law too. Such a blessing our families are to us. Sending much love.....Marilyn J.

  14. Such amazing sky photos - the colours are wonderful! What an artist God is. It sounds like you had a good Christmas. We missed being with family. Yet there is hope and joy because of Jesus.

  15. What a wonderful and encouraging post for me to read today dear Marilyn. Your pictures as always are simply stunning and girl...could I ever use a slice of that pie with a cup of coffee! I hope that your New Year is all that you could dream for and then more. Blessings upon you dear friend. Cindy

  16. Hello Friend,
    WOW, the last photo is amazing.
    Thank you for the encouraging post.

  17. Blogger just ate a giant comment sorry Marilyn this will be brief ..
    Trying to include the blessedness with the 21st century frustration I'm feeling, on mobile as time is short.
    I really need to dwell more there.. in the blessedess.
    Love where you love and as for the dawgs! Laugh! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚
    Sensitive little vegemites...๐Ÿ˜‰
    Praying every blessing on you and yours as we wait our coming King.
    Thanks for sharing, and may God bless and keep you and all whom you love safe and well.
    Prayer hugs, Shaz in Oz. X

    {Wonderful Words of Life - Shaz in Oz}
    {Calligraphy Cards - Shaz in Oz}

  18. Wow, those sunset pictures are amazing! And yes, I see your STAR, and I saw it here too. It was a beautiful sight. I took lots of pictures, some that turned out very interesting when I enlarged them and added "light" to them. I may have some on a previous blog post. Your dogs are so funny. They don't like to look at the camera! That is funny. I know some people like that too. Your dinner sounds wonderful and looks delicious. I bet those pies were so good. I've never tried it that way...and maybe someday I will if I can find any good fresh pie pumpkins. Mostly all we get here in Florida are the big ones. Have a blessed and wonderful New Year. Love your beautiful posts.

  19. I loved reading your precious words of encouragement today, sweet friend. And, those pictures! I am just amazed! They are beyond gorgeous. You all see the most beautiful sights in the sky and sunsets. I didn't get to see the star here. I was so sorry I missed it. Thank you for all you do and for your dear heart for the Lord. I love and appreciate you so much.

  20. Happy New Year, Marilyn! ♥

  21. I did enjoy both reading your words and seeing your photographs, they are stunning.

    Sending my thoughts and good wishes for a happy and healthy 2021.

    All the best Jan

  22. your beautiful words have healing power and soothing affect on my soul dearest Marilyn :)
    what an uplifting and comforting post my friend ,i felt serenity showering through your thoughts and captivating peace smiling smoothly through your images which are beyond just beautiful as i am STUNNED with natural beauty you live within :)
    i found photo of dogs artistic and lovely :) oh i love the chicken image ,your chicken always take me so quickly to the yard of my native home where mom's chicken were quacking and wandering with their chicks :)

    this is great that you were able to have whole family together for the celebration ,such a blessing :)
    food looks splendid and inviting as always !
    last image is magical ! i love the way you share your area beauty in all seasons !
    thank you for inspiring blogging dear friend!
    wishing you a happy ,prosperous ,peaceful and joyous year ahead !

  23. Oh my, look at those skies! They are truly amazing. What a beautiful sight. Your pumpkin pie looks Yummy. I wish I had a piece to go with my coffee this morning, as I'm catching up on delightful blogs. Your pecan pie sounds really good too. I haven't had it in a long time, and have been craving it. It looks like you had a very special Christmas with your family, Marilyn.



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