The New Year and Seasons of Change

I have a special love for New Year’s.  Throughout my life I have spent the time between Christmas and New Year’s thinking about what was good in the past year, what wasn’t, where I can improve and turning my eyes towards the New Year ahead.  I love New Year’s so much that my beloved husband and I were married on New Year’s Eve!  It’s quite amazing, everywhere we go they are throwing a party for us, LOL!

This New Year finds me with some very substantial changes afoot.  My beloved agent Mark Timm and his wife Angela have made some wonderful changes for their company “Cottage Garden Collections” and have merged with Roman, Inc.  This merger has already done some amazing things for Cottage Garden with much more to come.  However, one of the changes that this merger brought, is that Mark ceased to represent me as my agent so that he can spend 100% of his time working with Cottage Garden.

After five years of working together, playing together (our trip to the Bahamas comes immediately to mind!) and growing deeply as friends and “family” it’s hard to let go and move on.  We’ve gone through thick and thin together.  Fortunately, I still work very heavily with Mark and Angela because of my wonderful connection to Cottage Garden Collections (oh boy are there some really awesome new things in the works there!!!!)  They will continue to be an important part of my life.

So there is a very special NEW in my NEW YEAR and it is my new licensing agency, MHS LIcensing.  I debated for several months which direction I wanted to go.  I have many licensing relationships that are already established and I could have made the step towards representing myself, but I always keep this one thought in mind when making plans for my career.  “Does this decision give me more or less time to paint and create?”  There is no doubt in my mind that I will have the freedom to design and create much more by being represented by as solid and reputable organization as MHS Licensing!

I decided on approaching them after talking to several of my manufacturers.  I asked them who they most liked working with.  Which agency handled things in the most professional manner and had the best artists?  The unanimous feedback I received was in support of MHS Licensing.  I am so enjoying getting to know all three of the agents I will be working with there and am looking forward to a long, fruitful and FUN relationship!

You can take a peak at the beginnings of my portfolio there at: LINK TO ARTIST’S PAGES I am the 7th artist down the page.  We’re feverishly working to get my portfolio up in time for the 2009 show season.

For those of you who are my digital clip art customers, you’ll see lots of things that won’t be available for quite a while yet, so it will be a bit of a tease.  However, you’ll see these designs in lots of other products in the years ahead so I  hope you’ll enjoy the preview.

NEW YEAR’S MESSAGE:  Do you leave 2008 with some painful regrets?  Have there been tough seasons in this past year?  Are there areas that you feel you have failed or where the year has not lived up to your expectations?  I’ve observed that the people in my life that who have the greatest difficulty around this time of year seem to be those that have the most regrets, or those that struggle with shame and/or a fear of failure.  The answer to each of these struggles can be found in the following passage:

SCRIPTURE:  2 Cor 5:17-6:1  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  NIV

COMMENTS:  Many of us are separated from those we love due to unforgiveness, disappointment, hurtful experiences and painful histories.  Some of us have been those that have been the “hurt” parties and others of us have been the ones that failed and perhaps caused the hurts.  To be reconciled to each other and to God can seem to be a huge, if not impossible task to accomplish.  It can also be one of the great longings of the human heart.

The world often feels that God wants to push “sinners” away, He does NOT!!!  He longs to gather us all in and has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him.  His part is done, He is already willing, you don’t have to guess whether or not He will accept you — IT IS ALREADY GUARANTEED THAT HE DOES.  He has reconciled to you — all that waits is if you would be reconciled to Him.

For those of us who seek to be found “In Christ” it is an instantaneous process.  We become new creations in him, all things become new, the old passes away and our sins are forgiven.  The longer, transformation part of the process then begins.  God loves reconciliation.  He reconciles us to Himself, then he begins to reconcile our past and restore the relationships that have failed.  On top of that, he gives US the ministry of reconciliation that we might bring others both to Him and to reconcile with each other. Isn’t this an exciting way to begin a new year?

Can you let go?  Can you let go of past hurts?  Can you let go of your failures?  Can you turn your face upwards to the Father above and ask him to reconcile all the loose ends of your life?  The New Year is a great time to let go of New Year’s Resolutions and instead ask God for New Year’s Transformations.  When HE changes you from the inside out, the changes last longer than a week or two!!!!

PRAYER:  Lord, I’ve approached New Year’s Day often with a long list of things I know need to be changed.  I start out with great intentions and reach the stage of failure by the second or third week.  This year I want my life to be fully reconciled to you and your ways.  Give me the power to truly become a New Creation in Christ.  Give me the ability to be fully reconciled with You and to grow into the ministry of reconciling others to you as well.  Make this New Year my best ever, Lord!  AMEN

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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Victorian Christmas Gift Bags ‘n Tags Crafting Kit

LINK TO GIFT BAG KIT IN STORE HERE

Last minute gifts to wrap?  This gift bag set will do it in style.  Featuring an elegant Victorian Christmas feel to them, these bags come with an assortment of gift cards and tags to finish off the beautiful presentation.  At $6.98 for the entire set, it’s just slightly more expensive than buying just one gift bag and tag and you can print as many as you need (within the angel policy terms).

There are 3 sizes of bags included.  If you have a large format printer, you can make a huge gift bag, if not, don’t worry!  There are letter (8 1/2″ x 11″) and legal (8 1/2″ x 14″) bags as well.

Thanks for the reminder to post this kit and Merry Christmas, Agnes!

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The Christmas Story #9

THE CHRISTMAS STORY: Luke 2:35-40
The Prophecy of Anna

36 Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, and was very old. She was a widow, for her husband had died when they had been married only seven years. 37 She was now eighty-four years old. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about Jesus to everyone who had been waiting for the promised King to come and deliver Jerusalem.

39 When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. 40 There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom beyond his years, and God placed his special favor upon him. NLT

This concludes the Christmas story in Luke, next I’ll go to the gospel of Matthew which tells a few different details.

THE CHRISTMAS STORY FROM MATTHEW:  Matt 1:17-21

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”-which means, “God with us.”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. NIV

COMMENTS:  In Israel, there was a betrothal period of about 1 year.  During that betrothal period, they were actually considered married and would actually have to divorce if they parted ways, but had not yet consummated their marriage nor did they live together.  This is was is described in the book of Mark.  To have been “found with child” would have meant that she was unfaithful to Joseph since he had been a righteous man and knew he had not touched her.  What an amazing man, that he believed what the angel told him and trusted in his betrothed.

For the rest of their life there would be rumors and snickers behind their backs — but Joseph fulfilled the role God had prepared for him and became the adoptive father to Jesus.  Are you willing to do and be what ever God calls you to be, no matter how the rest of the world sees you?  Are you willing to obey God first and worry about man’s opinions a lot less?

PRAYER:  Lord, Joseph was such a godly man that he stood by Mary when the rest of the world was turning their backs on her.  He obeyed you even when it hurt his reputation to do so.  Help me to seek your favor and be more concerned with what you think than what the world thinks about me.  Help me to be as faithful to you as Mary and Joseph were.  Help me be willing to be used by your spirit wherever and however you think best.  AMEN

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The Blog Contest Winner is…

I have to say, it’s not the same without Deb hanging around here.  She was always on me to remind me (gently and sweetly as only Deb could do) that I had once again missed the day for my free clip art drawing.  Twice a month on the 16th and the 1st of the following month I am SUPPOSED to have a drawing for a free kit or other goody for my readers.

This month is in honor of DebD.  The winner is Calikat Kay, who was the first commentor on the 12th of December (the second post of the day).  She will win $5.00 off any item in my blog store.  Congratulations Kay and thanks for being such a faithful reader!

There is no limit on how often someone can win.  The reward is for those that post comments on my posts and is drawn entirely at random so everyone has an equal chance of winning.  Thanks to all who participate!

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Christmas Story #8 (Playing Catch Up!)

Having my grandson here has been totally awesome — but not very productive for working, LOL!  I guess that isn’t the priority though is it?!  He took his very first steps here this morning and is a total joy as a baby.  One of those super easy ones that lure you to #2 and TROUBLE!!!!

It’s really precious to have a baby around the Christmas season.  It helps me to visualize and think about the amazing story that is The Christ Child.

THE CHRISTMAS STORY: Luke 2:21-35
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

22 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

The Prophecy of Simeon

25 Now there was a man named Simeon who lived in Jerusalem. He was a righteous man and very devout. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he eagerly expected the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. 26 The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Lord, now I can die in peace!
As you promised me,
30 I have seen the Savior
31 you have given to all people.
32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

33 Joseph and Mary were amazed at what was being said about Jesus. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, “This child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy to many others. 35 Thus, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” NLT

COMMENTS:  Simeon lived his life in anticipation of seeing God’s word made manifest.  He lived in search of God’s promises and developed such an intimate relationship with Him that God spoke to his heart.  God’s promise, Jesus, was being carried all throughout the temple in his mother’s arms.  There were probably thousands of people that saw him — but they didn’t have eyes to see the things of God.  Do you?  Do you look for what God is doing all around you?  If not, what amazing things might be lurking right there in front of you?  God still speaks to our hearts today.  He’s just as active in our world in 2008 as he was in 0 AD!  He’s still looking for hearts that are atuned to him and are hungry to know and experience his love.

PRAYER:  Lord, I see a story like Simeon’s and think, “Well he was a special man.”  But you see me and think that I’m a special person too.  Help me to realize that you’re just as capable of using me as anyone else — as long as I am seeking you and learning to hear your voice.  Help me focus on what (and who) is important!  Help me to see the miraculous that is happening all around me and help me to be a part of what you are longing to do in my community.  AMEN

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The Christmas Story #7

If you were following the link for the freebie it’s on the post below this one.  We’re reading the Christmas Story together to keep our focus for Christmas you’re welcome to join along or skip down a post for the giftie.

THE CHRISTMAS STORY: Luke 2:13-20
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
NIV

COMMENTS:  Can you just imagine this scene?  Stop for a moment and just imagine the sky filled with the glowing light of the heavenly angels singing in what must have been an unearthly and beautiful sound.  These angels weren’t little babies with harps or feminine wispy things like we tend to draw and portray them, they were mighty, powerful, huge and awesome creatures who’s sole existence was to glorify God.

What must the shepherds have thought?  They were so excited and filled with joy they had to run and tell people!  They went and saw the child with their own eyes and then told everyone they met that Christ the Savior was born.  This is the whole purpose of Christmas.  Are you excited that Christ was born?  Do you know that he was born for you and me?  Does that bring as much joy to your heart as to those simple shepherds 2,000 years ago?!  Then SING!!!!  Rejoice!  Glorify God!  These are the best presents we can give Him during this Christmas season.  Fill your home with hymns and SING!!!!  Even if you squawk a rather unmelodious song, God loves to hear our praises and delights in us even as we delight in hearing little children sing (he doesn’t need professional quality, just heart)

PRAYER:  Lord, Oh how I wish I could be transported to that night in the hills of Bethlehem.  What magnificent sights and sounds were brought forth to announce the birth of MY SAVIOUR.  I so rejoice that you loved me enough to send Jesus to live a sinless life and be the sacrifice necessary for MY SINS.  Wow!  When I stop to think of it it overwhelms me.  Help me to sing with joy this season and to contemplate the reason for the season with every activity I do.

And Lord, tell Deb that we’re singing with her as she sits by your side and sings her wonderfully healed lungs out!  AMEN

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A Snowy Day Freebie For Christmas!

With all the snowy winter weather spreading into such strange places as New Orleans!!!  I thought I would create an “It’s Snow Fun” Gift tag set Freebie for you!

In addition to the freebie, the art set from which it was created was uploaded into the AimeeAsher store yesterday.

TO DOWNLOAD THE FREEBIES:

CLICK ON THIS LINK and it will take you to my store in the Aimee Asher Elite Digital Store.  You will have to register in order to order from the store, but there will be no cost to you.  Also, you may choose to receive a newsletter that goes out with store specials and freebies (or choose not to receive it)  There are two freebies in my store, both with the red bow on the front cover image.  Put them in your cart and then feel free to browse the other artist’s stores for other goodies (all marked by the red bow).

It’s our way of saying, “Merry Christmas” to all of you!  We’re also having a “Happy New Year” event that you’ll find out about if you sign up for the newsletter!   The main address for Aimee Asher Elite is www.aimeeasher.com, bookmark it and check back often!  There are all kinds of activities to be discovered there.  Many of your favorite artists have groups you can join.  There’s a wonderful message board where ladies share ideas, pray for each other and have a lot of fun.

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The Christmas Story #6

THE CHRISTMAS STORY:  Luke 2:1-12
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! 11 The Savior–yes, the Messiah, the Lord–has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!”   NLT

COMMENTS:  God absolutely loves the little guy.  God loves the simple person that faithfully serves Him.  He didn’t appear to Caesar or to the Sanhedrin.  He didn’t appear to the wealthy, but to those simple shephers in the field.  Shepherds were looked down upon in their world, but not in God’s eyes.

Jesus could have been born in a palace, but he chose to be born in the lowliest of circumstances, to humble and godly parents.  God cares just as much about using those of us who lead the lowliest and simplest of lives even today.  He loves to use the teacher in the classroom, the sales clerk at the store, the housekeeper, the gardener, the plumber and the stay-at-home mother.  The world may not honor the simple but God always has.  Give him your simple place in life and ask Him to use it — to use YOU to touch and change the world.  No prayer would make Him happier!

PRAYER:  Lord, this story is so amazing when you consider how you reached out to the simple and became one among them.  I lead a simple life.  So many days I can’t imagine how you could really do anything with me and my simple world, but I ask you to do so.  Show me new ways you would like to show your Love and shine your glory in the dark and often cold world I am a part of. Enlarge my vision.  Shine your light on my path so that I can find your will and your plan for my life.  AMEN

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With a Heavy Heart…

My dear reader and friend, DebD passed away from complications connected to her COPD.  I just received the news this morning and my heart is so heavy for her husband Bruce and her mother (whom Bruce and Deb take care of).

Deb was such a sweet and carining woman.  I have a beautiful welcome sign as you enter my home that was a special gift from Deb to me on my birthday last year.  She was the queen of the unexpected gift and kind act.

Deb was my “chief nag” and took her job very seriously!!!  When I would forget to post the winners of my twice a month contest I would wake up to a sweet and funny email from Deb reminding me.

I had the privilege of talking with her a couple of times at great length and I know from those conversations that she knew the Lord Jesus Christ and resides with him now to celebrate the upcoming Christmas season.  She will be greatly missed…  Pray for her husband Bruce.

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The Christmas Story #5

THE CHRISTMAS STORY: Luke 1:56-2:1
The Birth of John the Baptist
57 Now it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, and it was a boy. 58 The word spread quickly to her neighbors and relatives that the Lord had been very kind to her, and everyone rejoiced with her.

59 When the baby was eight days old, all the relatives and friends came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”

61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they asked the baby’s father, communicating to him by making gestures. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John!” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.

65 Wonder fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “I wonder what this child will turn out to be? For the hand of the Lord is surely upon him in a special way.”

67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,because he has visited his people and redeemed them. 69 He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, 70 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. 71 Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. 72 He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant with them, 73 the covenant he gave to our ancestor Abraham. 74 We have been rescued from our enemies,so we can serve God without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness forever.
76 “And you, my little son,will be called the prophet of the Most High,because you will prepare the way for the Lord. 77 You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. 78 Because of God’s tender mercy,the light from heaven is about to break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,and to guide us to the path of peace.”
80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. Then he lived out in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. NLT

COMMENTS:  When God sends us a promise it is often, if not always, in the form of a tiny package that requires time and faith to grow into it’s full glory.  God loves small beginnings.  He loves to take that which is ordinary and pour His power into it in such a way that He and He alone will be glorified.  This one child would prepare the way for the messiah, Jesus,  who would change all of history.

God loves to do the same today.  Did you know that He could change history through you or your children or grandchildren?  All he requires is faith, trust and obedience.  You never know when God asks you to do a seemingly small and insignificant task, if that task just might touch the life of a child who will be used to change the world!  Ask Him each day to make your life significant in the light of eternity and just wait to see what He will do.

PRAYER:  Lord, I want my life to matter in the light of eternity, but I lead a pretty ordinary life — so how can that happen apart from you?  Please help me to be obedient to hear and obey your voice, to do those small things that you ask of me and then Lord, multiply the impact of those simple tasks by your power.  Help me to always be open to be used by you and to look for ways in which I can be a blessing to those who share my life.  AMEN

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Contemporary Classic Christmas and Christmas Reading #4

LINK TO CONTEMPORARY CLASSIC CHRISTMAS IN STORE

Just a reminder that there are a lot of Christmas digital clip art, crafting, card making and paper pack kits available in the store and all of them are on sale only through December 15th, 2008!

THE CHRISTMAS STORY: Luke 1:38-56
Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “You are blessed by God above all other women, and your child is blessed. 43 What an honor this is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me! 44 When you came in and greeted me, my baby jumped for joy the instant I heard your voice! 45 You are blessed, because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise
46 Mary responded, “Oh, how I praise the Lord.  47 How I rejoice in God my Savior!  48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation will call me blessed.  49 For he, the Mighty One, is holy, and he has done great things for me. 50 His mercy goes on from generation to generation, to all who fear him.  51 His mighty arm does tremendous things!  How he scatters the proud and haughty ones!  52 He has taken princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.  53 He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.  54 And how he has helped his servant Israel!  He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful.  55 For he promised our ancestors–Abraham and his children–
to be merciful to them forever.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.  NLT

COMMENTS:  Can you imagine how encouraging this must have been for Mary?  A girl in a condition of great “shame” to those not understanding what had happened, visits her aunt who without being told a thing CONFIRMS exactly what the angel of God had told Mary.  It was no small thing to be found pregnant without being married in the time and culture.  This was to be a “shame” Mary would be subject to in many eyes for the rest of her life — but within her family they accepted, embraced and affirmed her.  They recognized what God had done and encouraged her faith.  This is an important role for us to play in each other’s lives as family!

PRAYER:  Lord, what a beautiful thing it was that you spoke to Mary’s heart through the prophet utterance of her Aunt.  You confirmed the very things that You had told Mary and encouraged her in what was a very difficult time for Mary in so many ways.  Help me to be encouraging to my family members in any way I can.  Speak through me that which will encourage each heart, build faith and express unconditional love to each member of my family.  Where relationships are difficult give me the grace and strength to lead toward reconciliation and restoration.  Where they are wonderful, continue to built them year-by-year.  Bless my family through me.   AMEN

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Cookie Exchange & Recipe Card Gift Packaging Crafting Kit and Christmas Story #3

LINK TO KIT IN STORE

Specially priced only until December 15th at $3.98, this fun craft kit is so easy to print and assemble.  It’s the perfect size to fit up to a dozen cookies to give away for your yearly cookie exchange.  The kit includes a Chinese take-out style box (4″ x 4″ x 4″) with 3D accents, matching gift tag card, two additional tags and two versions of a recipe card to print with the cookie recipe that you’ve used.

There are many, many gingerbread kits that I have created which are available in the store.  These kits can be used to make additional items to match with this box and create a truly custom Christmas Gift Basket.

This is a brand new kit never before offered for sale.  Art & kit Copyright Audrey Jeanne Roberts

THE CHRISTMAS STORY: Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to bless you! 31 You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s already in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.” And then the angel left. NLT

COMMENTS:  Mary was very young, many experts believe she was around 13 or so.  She had been raised in a faith that taught their young women that they could one day become the mother of the messiah.  She would have known many of the scriptures and yet like us, would never have believed that she could actually be “the one.”  Her response shows humility, willingness and a complete submission to God’s highest purposes.  Her willingness to say, “Yes” to God is an incredible example to us who follow her.  Have you said “Yes, God.  What ever you will in my life?”

Mary’s saying “Yes” would lead to great and soaring highs and terrible lows.  She would be blessed to kiss the face of God, she would be heartbroken as she saw her son, the Lord of the Universe, hanging on a cross dieing for something she didn’t quite understand at that point.  She would see her son rise from the dead and know that he sat at the right hand of the Father.  But as a mere child of thirteen she couldn’t yet comprehend the impact her saying “Yes” would have, instead she simply trusted God.   So should we.  “Yes, Lord” should be our constant answer — it’s mine, can you make it yours today?

PRAYER:  Lord, I can’t even imagine what you might be desiring to do with my “oh so ordinary” life.  I certainly can’t imagine an angel appearing to me like Mary, and my being able to so instantly and so trustingly say “Yes” to your plan.

But my desire is to always be willing to say, “Yes” to you.  Help me overcome any reluctance or fear and give me the strength and willingness that I need to be useful to your purposes in this world.  Lord, this day I say “Yes” to your will in my life.  AMEN

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In Store Today, Christmas Ornaments Digital Crafting Kits

Today I have 4 treats for you, the Christmas Story continues at the end of this post and I have 3 digital clip art crafting kits for making your own photo Christmas ornaments using Donna Glenn’ wonderful pattern.  The links below are in the order of the photographs of the products.

LINK TO RED GINGERBREAD KIT IN STORE

LINK TO BLUE GINGERBREAD KIT IN STORE

LINK TO BLUE WINTER SNOWFLAKE KIT IN STORE

These kits sell for only $2.98 but are on sale until December 15th only at $2.38 each and with a piece of photo printing paper or quality card stock, some ribbon, glitter, and maybe some jewels and you will be able to create ornaments for your entire family.  Us them as a package topper for another gift or include them in a Christmas gift basket or as a gift all on their own.  You can easily insert the year (though it’s shown as 2007 on the kit photo it is actually blank), drop photos behind the png format print and create.  If you don’t have photos, you can add words or images into the opening just as easily!

THE CHRISTMAS STORY:  Luke 1:8-17
8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary and burn incense in the Lord’s presence. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

11 Zechariah was in the sanctuary when an angel of the Lord appeared, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was overwhelmed with fear. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! For God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! And you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice with you at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or hard liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.   16 And he will persuade many Israelites to turn to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of old. He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom.”

18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I know this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 And now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you won’t be able to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly come true at the proper time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures that he must have seen a vision in the Temple sanctuary.

23 He stayed at the Temple until his term of service was over, and then he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children!” NLT

MORAL OF THE STORY:  When an angel tells you something, don’t say, “Shut up!  You’re kidding right?!”  LOL!  If you do, he just might shut you up for a while!  Just kidding, but God always does so much more than we can imagine and he wants us to believe that he loves us enough to do the very thing that we have asked him for.  Like any awesome parent he loves to do good things for us and delights when we have a childlike ability to believe and receive.

PRAYER:  Lord, help me to not react with unbelief if and when you speak to my heart your plans for my life and I find them to be beyond what I could have asked or hoped or even thought.  It’s easy to laugh at Zechariah’s unbelief, but would I have acted any differently?  I think not!  Fill my heart with faith to believe your promises.  AMEN

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Christmas Tree in Window Gift Tag Freebie

LINK TO FREEBIE GIFT TAG HERE.

This freebie is courtesy of Kath (“the Brat”) from The Aimee Asher Community www.aimeeasher.com

Kath is such a giving person, and wanted to share her creativity with all of you.  She made this tag using my “Windows on Christmas” Digital Clip Art and Crafting Kit LINK TO KIT HERE and a kit that hasn’t been loaded into the store yet, “Victorian Rose Christmas”

This freebie also kicks off our Christmas Story reading, which begins in the post below this one.  Each day I will post a little of the Christmas Story to help all of us keep our focus in the chaos of the season.  Come bring your cup of coffee or tea, put your feet up and join all of us as we prepare for the holidays together!

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The Christmas Story

Here’s the beginning of my daily reading of the Christmas story for anyone who would like to ponder the reason for this season a little bit each day.

INTRODUCTION:  I will be going through the book of Luke starting at the beginning.  This is the introduction from Luke.  He was not a direct disciple of Christ before his death, but was a contemporary of the other disciples  He gathered his information from interviewing many of those that had been friends and followers of Jesus.  He was a physician and later traveled with the Apostle Paul.  Tradition since early in the church seems to indicate that Luke was a martyr, yet there are a few accounts that mention he died of a natural death.

THE CHRISTMAS STORY:  Luke 1:1-10  Most honorable Theophilus: Many people have written accounts about the events that took place among us. 2 They used as their source material the reports circulating among us from the early disciples and other eyewitnesses of what God has done in fulfillment of his promises. 3 Having carefully investigated all of these accounts from the beginning, I have decided to write a careful summary for you, 4 to reassure you of the truth of all you were taught.

5 It all begins with a Jewish priest, Zechariah, who lived when Herod was king of Judea. Zechariah was a member of the priestly order of Abijah. His wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and now they were both very old.

8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary and burn incense in the Lord’s presence. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

COMMENTS:  These faithful servants of God had lived a life that was often painful.  Being barren in this culture was a terrible thing and it was the woman who was looked upon as the cause of the problem.  Yet through their pain, they continued to love God and each other.  God heard their prayers but held off answering them.  However, he had an amazing reason for not answering them … YET… they were to be part of the greatest story in history and that required God’s perfect timing to occur.

Sometimes we too do not receive the answer to our fervent prayers.  Sometimes it is because God has a different plan, sometimes it is because there is  grander plan whose timing requires us to wait on God.  If you are waiting on God and are feeling that life is passing you by and with it the possibility of God granting you the miracle you desire.  Take courage!

PRAYER:  Lord, there have been many times in my life that I have seen your answers to prayer come quickly.  At times it has even been the experience of “Before you ask He will answer you.”  But there are deep desires of my heart that I have prayed for and you have not chosen to answer them yet.  Help me to not lose hope or grow weary as I wait.  Help me to trust in You, in Your timing and to see Your larger plan.

I ask you, Lord, to make my life truly a part of that amazing and powerful plan.  Open my eyes to see Your plan when it begins to come to pass.  AMEN

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