“The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’” (Exodus 33:14 NIV).

I yawned  and groaned as I glanced at my goals and my to-do list. Instead of getting shorter, the lists seemed to be growing—exponentially. The past year had been insanely demanding.

In a regular year I would have worked a job, invested time into writing on evenings and weekends, and farmed my small acreage. Enough to keep a single woman hopping. But this last year I added designing a cottage and barn to build on my farm.

Then I acted as a general contractor, supervising the crews of men, and had the cottage and barn built. My energy meter registered an all-time empty. Worse yet, I felt I hadn’t done justice to my job, writing, or my crop.

Setting the to-do list aside, I picked up my Bible and whined at God.

All I want is to rest. As I read God’s word I had a crazy thought. You heaped this on yourself. Don’t go whining to God.

All my life I’ve been an active person, striving to accomplish more than the year before. But, as I prayed for God to reveal to me what to do this year, I was impressed that I was to put a new resolution on the top of my list for 2020–REST.

The past few weeks have been a struggle as I have endeavored to rest physically, getting enough sleep and taking down time; rest emotionally by stopping my run-away to-do thoughts; and rest spiritually, knowing that God desires to give me rest and it’s up to me to choose to do it.

Lord, help us to remember in this performance-driven world that Your desire is for us to rest. Amen.

Rebecca Ondov:  evenings and on weekends of 2020 Rebecca Ondov of Hamilton, Montana is planning adventures kayaking mountain lakes and horseback-riding Rocky Mountain trails with Sunrise, her golden retriever, trotting by her side. She invites you to connect with her on her Website: RebeccaOndov.com and on her Facebook author page, where nearly every day she posts a quote to inspire you, which she calls a “Morning Pondering.”

 

 

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No need to put away favorite holiday traditions just yet! I have more to say about the Yule Log tradition. In a previous post, “The Christmas Yule Log (part one)” I explained the origin (see December 23).

Since most homes now have central heat and gas fireplaces, the Yule log custom has been replaced by a log-shaped cake called Bûche de Noël. In my new book Sara’s Surprise, a Bûche de Noël cake was Sara’s special Yule Log wedding cake.

The name Bûche de Noël originally referred to the Yule Log itself, but was transferred to the dessert after the custom had fallen out of use during the first half of the 20th century. By 1945, Bûche de Noël referred to the cake.

A Yule Log cake (or Bûche de Noël) is a traditional dessert served at Christmas, especially in the United Kingdom, Catalonia, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Lebanon, and other French colonies. It’s resembles an actual Yule Log.

The original Yule Log recipe developed during the 19th century. It is traditionally yellow sponge cake baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll pan, iced with chocolate buttercream frosting and rolled to form a cylinder, then iced again on the outside. Often the icing is flavored with liquors or espresso.

Yule logs are often served with one end cut off and set atop the cake, or protruding from its side to resemble a chopped-off branch. Dragging a fork through the icing gives it a bark-like texture, and powdered sugar is sprinkled to resemble snow. It can be decorated with actual tree branches, berries and ivy, or these can be made from marzipan.

Consider making a Yule Log decoration a tradition.

To make a Yule Log to adorn your table, you’ll need the following (real or bought at a craft store):

  • A log about 14 – 18 inches long
  • Pine cones, dried berries, such as cranberries
  • Cuttings of mistletoe, holly, pine needles, and ivy
  • Feathers, cinnamon sticks
  • Festive ribbon (use paper or cloth ribbon, not the synthetic or wire-lined type)
  • A hot glue gun

Wrap the log loosely with the ribbon, leaving enough space that you can insert your branches, cuttings and feathers under the ribbon. You might even want to place a feather on your Yule Log to represent each member of the family. Once branches and cuttings are in place, glue the pinecones, cinnamon sticks and berries.

Use it as a centerpiece for your holiday table, surrounded by candles and holiday greenery. You may ask each family member to write down a wish for the upcoming year and insert notes into the ribbons. Then you can talk about your hopes for abundance, good health, and happiness in the next twelve months.

Susan G. Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network and a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale; two children’s picture books; stories in a dozen compilations; and hundreds of published articles. She lives in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her husband, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.

Website: www.SusanGMathis.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susangmathis

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

 

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This Christmas season, my wife and I went to the beach, a post-Christmas, Merry-Christmas-to-us present. We arrived on Friday afternoon and talked about what we could do and where we could go for our fortieth anniversary in 2021. We continued the discussion the next morning until we received a series of text messages. They came from our middle daughter, whose family was staying with us. A tree had fallen and wiped out our power line.

Pictures depicted how the line had bent the mast pole, yanked the lines out of the meter box, and fried the inside to the point the metal leads had burned all the way through and separated. I called our daughter, and she said somehow there was still partial power to the back of the house. I then instructed her on how to shut down the main breaker. And hurry!

We spent the majority of Saturday—from our hotel room—calling the power company, calling electricians, calling family members who could help get all the food out of our two fridges and find a home for the stuff, and make sure nothing else needed to be done (Hurricane prep in action!). Needless to say, it wasn’t how we planned our weekend, and it did put a damper on things.

However, we were thankful the house did not burn down. Had our daughter not been there, it probably would have.

Later that Saturday evening, feeling bummed, I watched the LSU/Oklahoma game from our hotel room. When I heard the heartbreaking news about Steve Ensminger’s daughter-in-law and the plane crash, I felt horrible for them and a little ashamed that I thought our circumstances were so bad.

God has a way of crashing your pity party and allowing life to reorient your perspective, doesn’t He (cf. Matt. 6:25-34)?

C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

Kevin Thompson is an ordained minister, and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, the first in a continuing series. His latest novel, The Letters, will be released Feb. 18, 2020.

Website:                                  www.ckevinthompson.com/

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:            www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com/

Facebook:                                C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page

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It’s almost time for a New Year—and a new decade! How will your life be better in 2020 and beyond? What choices will you make to do things differently?

Most New Year’s resolutions come and go like snowflakes on hot sand. They don’t seem to last. Instead, why not take time to reflect on and reevaluate your life so you can make better choices next year? Here are some ideas to get started:

Reflect. Review the past year. What went right? What do you want to improve?

Pray. Take time to get away by yourself to think and pray for a bit. Ask God what is on His heart for this new year and the future. Take time to be still and listen. This will be foundational and time well spent for the months ahead.

Plan. Think about the various areas of your life. Jot some notes about what you’d really like to do in 2020. Even one or two things in each category can be a start. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Here are some ideas.

Spiritual Life – I want to find (or lead) a small group or Bible study. I want to pray bolder prayers.

Relationships – I want to spend more quality time with my close friends. I want to really listen to my spouse and kids.

Health and fitness – I want to walk every day for at least 15 minutes. I want to find recipes that are easy to make and healthy.

Emotional life – I want to be more joyful. I want to let go of the past. I want to live a life of gratitude.

Finances – I want to get out of debt. I want to start saving or saving more. I want to be a generous giver.

Writing life – I want to finish the book proposal and sample chapters I’ve been working on and submit them to my agent by March 1. I want to attend at least one writer’s conference.

Believe. Lastly, believe that things really can be better. That God has a good plan for your life, not just everyone else’s. He knows and loves you so, and wants His best for you.

My prayer is that 2020 will be a positively amazing year for you. Here’s to believing for the best!

Jackie M. Johnson

Jackie M. Johnson

Jackie M. Johnson an author, blogger and freelance writer who inspires readers worldwide to grow a better life with hope-filled, encouraging content. Her books include, Power Prayers for Women, the breakup recovery guide When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty, and Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. Jackie blogs for singles at “Living Single” on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk website and at the “Growing a Better Life” blog on her website, www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com. “Goals 2020” photo credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay. 

 

 

 

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In Sara’s Surprise, a Bûche de Noël cake became a special Yule Log wedding cake. For Sara, it was the perfect cake for her Christmas wedding. But where did the Yule Log tradition come from?

The custom of the Yule Log goes back to before medieval times. It was originally based on the Nordic tradition of Yule, a Winter Solstice festival. Burning the Yule Log was one of the most widespread Christmas traditions in early modern Europe, with the first recording of its appearance dating to 1184. For the Christian feast of Christmas, the Yule Log symbolizes the battle between good and evil. “As the fire grows brighter and burns hotter, and as the log turned into ashes, it symbolized Christ’s final and ultimate triumph over sin.”

The traditional Yule Log was originally an entire tree carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year’s log that was carefully stored away. Then, the Yule Log was slowly burned throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas.

As Christianity spread through Europe, the Yule Log tradition became part of Christmas Eve festivities. The father or master of the house would sprinkle the log with libations of mead, oil, or salt. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from evil spirits. On Christmas morning something green, a leaf or the like, was brought into the house before anything was taken out. A piece of the Yule Log was then saved to light the next year’s log.

In Provence, France, the whole family helps to cut the log down and a little bit is burnt each night. In the Netherlands, the leftover log is stored under a bed. In some eastern European countries, the log was cut down on Christmas Eve morning and lit that evening.

The custom of the Yule Log spread all over Europe and different kinds of wood are used in different countries. In England, oak is traditional; in Scotland, birch; in France, cherry wood is sprinkled with wine before it’s burned so it smells nice.

In Devon and Somerset in the UK, some people use ash twigs instead of a log. This comes from a local legend that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were cold when the shepherds found them on Christmas Night. So the shepherds collected twigs to burn and keep them warm. In Ireland they use a large candle instead of a log that’s lit on New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night.

In France, the Yule Log is bûche de noel where a custom required that peasants to bring a log to their lord. In Burgundy, gifts were hidden under the log. In Brittany and in Provence prayers were offered as the log was lit, a custom still widely observed called cacho fio (blessing of the log). The eldest male parades the log around the house three times. Then it’s blessed with wine and lit with the ashes of the previous year’s log.

Susan G. Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network and a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. Learn more about The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise at www.SusanGMathis.com. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale; two children’s picture books; stories in a dozen compilations; and hundreds of articles. Susan lives in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling globally and Skyping with her four granddaughters.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susangmathis

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

 

 

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