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Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway. ~Emory Austin


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Monday, February 11, 2019

When God Is My Happy Valentine

Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
~Lamentations 3:22, 23

I’m finally writing a Valentine’s post. It took 18 years. It’s my love story, though divorced since 2001 and not even a blip on anyone’s romance radar. But Love, unconditional life-saving Love, is.

Divorce is like decapitation. It feels that gruesome and painful. Yet, the second my X walked away there was another who whispered, “Am I enough for you?”

I protect
I provide
I am Love
Wisdom’s pride

Am I enough for you?

When your earthly protector
Provider and love
Betrayed and abandoned
All things from above
My Spirit descended
On you like a dove

Am I enough for you?

When daggers tore through
Marriage vows
And pain bequeathed
Obnoxious bows
I gave you strength
Caressed your soul
To stand your ground
And make you whole

Am I enough for you?

The sun will rise for you my love
The stars the moon will light your path
My Word is true forevermore
If you were one and only soul
I would have died for you alone

Am I enough for you?

I said yes. What say ye all?

My Valentine carried my burden when it proved too heavy for me. “The journey shall be lighter now.” He smiled and offered to walk side by side as I navigated through this icy storm. “I will always be with you. I am the Maker of your sunrise.” My Valentine wrote songs for me as I read through His Word. And over and over again he asked, “Am I enough for you?”

When I didn’t feel safe, He became my Protector. 
When I dipped below poverty level He became my Provider. 
When I felt unloved He swept me off my feet and lavished me with joy so sweet. 
When rejection flooded my inner being He whispered sweet everythings: “You are mine, Daughter, a princess, created in my image. No one compares to you.” 
When shame ate me alive He became my Redeemer, Savior, and the Lover of my soul. “I will renew, revive, restore. Am I enough for you?”

For your Creator will be your husband;the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name!He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,the God of all the earth. ~Isaiah 54:5 (NLT)

To Jesus, My Valentine

You are my Love,
My everything
My eyes, my heart,
Every song I sing
You are my first Love,
The One who’s true
My cherished Valentine
No one comes close to you,
I will worship you only
I will love and adore you
For me you died
For you I’ll live
All I have
Is my heart to give

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Assistant to the Caregiver

Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. ~Exodus 18:16, 17

Was Moses the ultimate caregiver? He must have been awfully tired, and probably losing his mind. Nonetheless, he was trying to take care of two million people who needed his advice, coveted his problem-solving abilities, and respected his direct line to Yahweh. Luckily it was God who provided daily manna (no need for Moses to do the meal planning), a plethora of quail, and a supply of clean drinking water. Moses received the Ten Commandments, therefore the burden was on his shoulder to teach the Israelites God’s everlasting morals, and he also  dished out justice on a daily basis.

His wise father-in-law observed Moses’ day-to-day activities and counseled his son-in-law that he needed help. “You’re not doing this right, Mo,” Jethro said. “You need help.”

No kidding! Don’t we all? Yes, we do. I only have two people to care for, not a whole nation, but I recognize the need for assistance. Every caregiver, to keep his or her sanity, strength, stamina, and mental health in check, co-caregivers are needed and greatly appreciated.

My daughter, bless her heart, is my great helper and Dad is a happy camper when she hangs out with him. They do love to laugh together. Mom and I laugh at them, or with them, even though we don’t understand what they’re laughing at or why it's even remotely funny. They’re just hilarious together. (As I write this they are making faces at each other.)

Speaking of Daughter, she’s always available to pick up the groceries. Our personal shopper at Walmart receives our order online and when Daughter gets the “Order Ready” message on her phone she follows the yellow brick road to where our personal shopper loads the groceries into the trunk of the car. We have got to remember to bring our own bags.

She's also comic relief, and plays nurse once in a while, and much to my relief and Mom's, Daughter has cut and manicured Dad's toenails and cleaned off dead skin. I know, TMI. 

My son is always on standby in case we need him. He forever responds with a yes, no matter what the request. This could be, “Can you go get dinner I’m just too tired to cook?” or "I could use some help with building a roof" (okay, it’s only for the bird aviary). He takes out the trash and does the heavy lifting around the house. It’s very helpful to have a “Yes Man on the Spot,” kind of son.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. ~Galatians 6:9
May the Lord bless both my children as they will eventually, probably sooner than I would like, leave us … as they should. For now, I am grateful I have them.

Keep an open invitation for family to visit. My brother and his family do their best to make the long journey here. Both Mom and Dad make a fuss before they even get here. The house needs to be cleaned, the back yard swept, and food on the table.

I chuckle at our attempts—we try—but it’s really not necessary to have a spotless house and my wonderful brother and family don’t mind. And for that matter they always bring yummy food, wonderful entertainment via great-grandchildren (another on the way), laughter, and fellowship. It lifts Dad’s spirit which stays with him for days to come.

All this to say: As caregivers we need to learn self-care, which means cherishing and asking help from others. If you don’t have family, call on helpful friends; ask your doctor for resources that will help you on this journey. Check out my page for tips on SelfCare.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hill, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. ~Psalm 121:1,2

Need more inspiration and resources check out Lori Hogan’s (co-founder of Home Instead Senior Care) website. I've included her book, Strength for the Moment, below. 

A Caregiver's Prayer

Thank you Lord that you never leave or forsake us. Soften hearts and bless those who offer help. Renew their spirit and give them joy beyond understanding. Let us never grow weary of doing good and remind us that you are our constant companion on this journey.

Beloved Caregiver

A song births
A sunrise bright
Come early dew
Reflect His light

Each note of joy
Creator sings
As dawn arrives
His glory brings

A whisper soft
"I'm always near
Never alone
No need to fear."

(Copyright, © 2019 by Deborah L. Alten)

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Wounded Caregiver and Why We Should Put On the Armor of God

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ~Ephesians 6

The holidays began with a bang, then we crashed and burned, and finally God restored and showered us with peace in the New Year. Phew, Happy New Year everyone. It’s 2019! My New Year’s resolution is to 1) have none, or 2) take it slow and easy, and 3) keep it simple, or 4) de-clutter my life. Hmmm, I guess I did have a New Year’s resolution after all.

Well then, another resolution I might have is to really dress up this year—in the full armor of God.

We survived the holidays, just barely, right? Poor Dad doesn’t do so well with company. He tends to withdraw and sleep, though he always enjoys the entertain-ment provided by his greatgrand-daughter. Thank the Lord for joyful children who are willing to share their bliss. Her laughter and sweet baby giggles stays with us for days to come.

Thanksgiving was tasty and fun; Christmas was filled with wonder, perfectly thought-out gifts, and everyone pretty much stayed off their phones. Success!

The crash and burn came a couple of days before New Year when I allowed an argument to get personal and I must have had bottled-up issues with this person as I threw my armor at unnamed person instead of suiting up.

My son reminded me later that we tend to avoid arguments and let it explode when we finally find the need to defend ourselves. I must take a deep breath as I write and agree with him.

My advice however, is when you need to stand your ground, stand firm and don’t let those fiery arrows aimed at your head get through. Honestly, if God’s armor is on, those flaming darts will just ping right off.

But an all-out war has many casualties so we better make sure we’re on the right side and find resolve. And sometimes the right side might look a little strange especially when you’re in the middle of that heated debate. Who knows who’s right when ugly words are spewed to each other armed with daggers and poison-dipped spears?

However, don’t let anybody tell you that the way you’re caring for your loved ones is not the way they would do it. We’ve probably got a lot to learn from one another but the accusatory method opens wounds and every harsh word adds salt.

We’re already tired and fighting our own battles each day. We keep God as our center to keep us balanced. But throw one stone at us and we’re likely to break … unless, of course, we got dressed in God’s armor. We look good in it, trust me. He’s tailored it just for us.

The crash and burn before the New Year, as peculiar as it might seem had to happen. My home was under attack, my parents were under attack, and I was under attack. I probably could have handled it much better, but yes, I was tired and this person brought a special kind of chaos into my home.

I went into my prayer closet as my physical body was failing under the strain of these attacks. Twice I almost fell, I couldn’t breathe, and the pain in my back was excruciating. I was not going to make it. Asking the Lord for His peace, and trying to find joy in all of this was not working. God intervened and made a quick exit of the chaos and removed it.

I wonder what God’s Plan A was? Or maybe me standing my ground and yelling for this person to get out of my house was Plan A after all. We’ll never know, I guess. But I did read in Exodus that God is a God of War. And He wins every time.

The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name. ~Exodus 15:2–3

This is our God who parted the Red Sea and took on the Egyptians who enslaved His people. It says He will fight for us. And fight He did. He ordered the Fight out of my house, albeit, He used a weak vessel namely me. But it was done. Once the chaos was removed, peace flooded back into our home. The quietness was surreal.

But I love this person on a level I don’t understand. I probably have something to learn from said person, but it’s never relayed to me in a manner I can receive it. Maybe someday we’ll figure each other out.

God did something amazing after this debacle when an old friend, Pieter, his wife, Rosemary, and daughter, Tina, came to visit us yesterday. We had amazing fellowship, ate dinner at the table with them and shared a to-die-for Dutch chocolate cake called Spekkoek.

They escorted Dad to the living room after dinner, where all of a sudden the Holy Spirit, I kid you not, took over and Dad began singing with Pieter and Rose. They prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more, cried, and laughed, and sang a bundle of old worship hymns. My dad stood up through all of this not wanting them to leave. They promised to return in May. Dad is counting the days.

This morning we are still talking about it and we’ve been trying to remember the Indonesian worship song they sang. Dad knows the words and he smiles every time Mom and I sing it. Of course, my Indonesian is zilch so my words are coming out completely wrong which makes him laugh to no end. Ah, laughter, still the best medicine. I recommend it, and pray for it. Thank you Lord for restoring the laughter and peace in our home.

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. ~Proverbs 17:22

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for the Comforter, the One who breathes peace into our homes, calms the storm, and restores our broken lives. Teach me to pray and to trust that you will show up every time even in the midst of our battles.

Off Guard

For two weeks a steady rain had battered the ancient forest. Malatthias was cold and hungry, the weight of his armor tiresome. By the time the second moon rose he wore but his tattered shirt and bloodstained pants, his sword still sheathed. A thick cloak covered him and part of his horse, Mayllyn.

Suddenly, a snarl came from above. Malatthias looked up. She was dark and beautiful and for the moment the disenchanted knight was mesmerized. Look away. He could not speak. She slowly descended toward him. “I am Kteress.” It was more like a hiss than a woman’s voice.

Mayllyn stood straight up on her hind legs, plunging the knight into the thistles and thorns. He scrambled to his feet but Kteress was on him within a blink of an eye. Her claws dug around and into his throat. For a fleeting moment when her gaze turned elsewhere, he heard the distant voice of his dead father.

“She makes men weak with lust; turns their hearts with her deceptive beauty. Men must look away. Set their minds on better things, worthy things: whatever is true, whatever is noble, right, pure, and admirable.”

But the pounding of the rain washed away his father’s words. She parted her red lips, dripping with rain drops like honey. Sharp white teeth gleamed by subtle moonlight.

It was his blood she hungered for. “Become like me,” she whispered. “Immortal.” The stare of her black eyes brought him to his knees. He struggled to breathe as he felt life fading. Kteress licked her lips as if to taste the death of this knight till he cried out to the heavens, “Grant me Your strength just one more time.”

A surging force reached into the innermost part of his being. He unsheathed his sword and thrust it through her cold heart. She flailed while her claws cut deep into Malatthias’ face: from his temple, over his left eye, beneath the bridge of his nose, down his right cheek. From his bleeding throat a horrific scream of pain and anger erupted.

as she thrashed about. Yet she could not free herself from his blade till he pulled it out, little by little. Her body convulsed in the mud and mire. As thunder roared, the ground beneath swallowed her whole. Malatthias collapsed onto this back, losing his sword to the rising puddles of water which splashed and mingled with his blood. He closed his eyes and groaned. Rain fell harder. Someone called his name, over and over again.

When he opened his eyes, many long breaths later, the rain had eased and a shadowy figure appeared from within the mist.


“Where is your armor, Son?”

(First published by Deborah L. Alten in Short Tales of Secret Worlds)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

My First Poem For The New Year 2019

Adrift the Rising Sea and Fading Suns

Distant thunder rumbles through a starless night.
Lightning flashes a frightening source of daylight.

Nabu shudders then draws her covering over head.
Dismal rain pounds a weary world and buries its dead;
A world astray
The end of days
They were alone,
The Ark a home …

Nabu and seven remain
Counting the hours
From dusk to day
Adrift a rising sea
And fading sun

Another morning flickers on
By lamps of burning oil;
Candles burn bright
In halls of fright
On haunting decks of prayer

A rooster crows below
The raven flutters its tired wings
And a dove cooes softly as she sings
“An olive branch for me.”

The creaks and sighs of gopher wood
The murmurs of pitch-stained life
She covers her ears with tattered shawl
Leaving the past behind

The wind it howls
Like wounded wolf
Fighting a bitter end  
Adrift the rising sea alone
Becoming the ghosts death sends
New shadows cheer
As thunder rears
Wrestling the frenzied waves
The ark cuts through
Defy the brew
Of violent waterways

Nabu she sings a peaceful song
Her heart it mourns for friends now gone

The sun of the morn’
Is a light forlorn

We are eight souls adrift
In a watery sift

Filled with tears
And fears
Of the brave too late,
And beloved unbelievers

Once in a while her thoughts they drown
With the memories of family and friends,
For each so wrong had turned their songs,
And labeled her not well,
So horribly deceived they said
Her mind so sad and poorly dressed
She grieves for them
And ponders when … or why
God ever chose her

The haunting wind wails with the dead.
Nabu keeps God in heart and head;
His mercies they are new each day.
Though morning came with daunting fame
Afloat a world so lifeless,
Adrift a rising sea,
Under a fading sun.

Then skies turn hues of brightest blues
The fading sun shines oh so true
A raven spreads his wings
And flies to worlds unknown

The dove she cooes and flutters by
She knows the rain repents and why
“At last a day,” the dove did say
“An olive branch for me.”

Adrift a rising sea no more
Unfading sun forevermore
How will they fare
How will they care
For a world where no one roams?
(Copyright, 2019 by Deborah L. Alten)

Happy New Year

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Depression and a Cup of Myrrh

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. ~Psalm 42:11

My soul is downcast right now. The Psalmist has asked why. So I dug deep and tried to answer. It’s Christmas Depression I said. It happens every year. However, it has twisted its feisty tentacles around my soul twice as tight. I know why … it has finally confessed that I’ve been hurting since 2001 when my then-husband decided to leave and search for greener pastures. You’d think that after 17 years that wound had closed but betrayal is a ghost hard to vanquish.

Understand then, that I’m writing this post while my “soul is cast down,” having hit that brick wall of sadness once again.

There’s a chance that the Christmas season is a bitter cup of myrrh for most caregivers. That cup overflows with an unhealthy pint of depression. So caregiver, beware. Myrrh was a gift to baby Jesus, but it symbolizes bitterness, suffering, and affliction. If we’re not careful we might be sipping from this cup.

Take note, we are tired, some of us have our own health issues, we feel alone, maybe lonely, there’s no back-up plan, we feel stuck at times, and there’s no bright shining star to direct us. We are set up for depression.

Click here to see if you’ve got the Christmas Blues:  Included is a list of how to beat it.

I’ve got my own list. I drown my sorrows in hot chocolate or a Caramel BrulĂ©e latte from Starbucks, eat way too many sweets, and take a lot of deep breaths. And most important, I think about what Christmas is truly all about—Charlie Brown!

Keeping Christmas simple is assuredly detrimental to my emotional health. Set a realistic goal, my friends, not one that has you running around creating Santa’s Village on your front lawn. The best of neighbors, which I am blessed with, will understand. As a matter of fact, let’s not care if the decorations never make it out of storage. It’s tough enough keeping a clean house. Instead let us keep a clean and healthy soul, heart, and mind.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Let me hear JOY and GLADNESS; Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right Spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence. Restore unto me the JOY of your salvation. ~Psalm 51

I did do a little decorating, however, and settled on a cute Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It fit easily on the rooftop of my Jeep Renegade. Next time you see a Jeep Renegade on the road you’ll understand how small my tree is. One string of lights, a few ornaments and we were good to go. The smallest of accomplishments is a major pat on the back.

The best thing on my list to battle the Christmas Blues is to put on that Christmas armor.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ~Ephesians 6:14–17 

When I think of the Christmas story I’m reminded that not only did He come as a helpless little one but he came supernaturally through an ordinary, but most favored, young woman who gave him birth, and he needed the help of a righteous carpenter to give him care … day to day.

And I remember the gifts of the Magi. Why the myrrh?

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. ~Matthew 2:11

Christmas Depression is like a bitter cup of Myrrh. Recognize it, and give it to the One who also received gold, a symbol of divinity, and frankincense, a symbol of holiness and righteousness. Myrrh was not a gift addressed to us, it's bitter, has suffering, and affliction. Surely Mary knew, but she kept it all in her heart, remaining calm, strong, and faithful.

What will you bring to the manger this year? Just you … come as you are.

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Dear Jesus, I come as I am, broken, sad, and overwhelmed. Take my weaknesses and give me your strength. Take my sadness, replace it with Joy, your joy. Emmanuel, God with us!

Beloved Caregiver

Close your eyes
Breathe me in
My breath is in your lungs
I give you life
I give you Joy
I give you Peace
For evermore
Receive …
Lift up your hands
Praise …
Release your tears
Worship …
The bitter cup of myrrh is mine
Let me take it from you
I am Emmanuel

(Copyright, 2018 by Deborah L. Alten)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

But What About Me?

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. ~Galatians 6:8 –10

Once in a while most caregivers might let out a big sigh and ask, “What about me?” When your family and friends get to vacation in Hawaii, or visit Israel, sail away on a cruise, drive new cars, have significant others, or have significant others who are helpful, become beloved grandmas and grandpas, eat steak and lobster on date night while you’re trying to figure out a healthy weekly menu, provide three meals a day, do laundry, draw blood, check blood pressure, drive to the ER/regular doctor visits and … Seriously, “What about me, Lord?”

It’s a pity party, I know, but be encouraged to hear that it’s okay. Consider however, the puddle of mud we wallow in and don’t stay there. Get some crying done, God is a great tear catcher. Refocus! Renew! Refresh. Say out loud, I am a child of God; He is all I need.

Relax a moment and watch this.

My personal pity party lasted a few days. Granted I was not in good physical shape, I pulled a muscle while exercising, a cold is slowly moving through my body, without warning my insurance stopped paying for my blood pressure medicines, and the ringing in my ear (tinnitus) was super loud all of a sudden. And then of course, that little disagreement I had with the folks.

We were having a lovely conversation at the breakfast table. Dad was able to tell us about a dream he had. The gate of heaven opened up for him and he heard wonderful music, a choir singing in Indonesian. He cried as he retold it a few times.

Then mom told us how the Lord had been showing her again how much He loves her and that His grace is sufficient and too wonderful to understand.

I said how awesome is it that after all we’ve learned and all the knowledge we’ve acquired throughout our lifetime that He always brings us back to the simplicity of the Gospel—He loves us, he came down for us, he died for us. Back to the basics.

Well, for some reason that got me the cold shoulder and that’s how my day started. Apparently, I shall be ignored … again. So I took my 10-year-old self upstairs, pouting all the way saying, “Fine, nobody loves me, nobody cares, I’m just dumb, and don’t know what I’m talking about.”

Even as I’m writing this I’ve got to laugh at myself. That doesn’t mean I didn’t take a walk down that dark and winding boulevard called “What About Me?”

How to deal with it? I can only tell you what I did. I went into my prayer room, then opened my Bible. I wish I could tell you that all was well after that. It wasn’t. Tears flowed, sighing happened, and everything that wasn’t fair in my life reared its ugly head. And that mean old devil had some nasty tricks up his scaly sleeves. Because, as you know, when you open that door of your heart he’ll sneak in believing that was his invitation. How dare he!

Nevertheless, everything from my past suddenly emerged and the puddle of mud became a murky pool. But God’s grace! It took a few days till I finally reached for that life-saving device and thank the Lord He was there to pull me out. My next prayer time began with, “Sorry it took me so long. Thanks for waiting, here I am.”

And He said, “Welcome back. I never left you. Eyes on Me, eyes on Me, and let’s move forward.”

Listen to these words by Lauren Daigle. 

His ways are not our ways, but … they are so much better.

By the way, if you have a friend, one of the earthly kinds, and she’s strong enough to have you share your moment of weakness, please call on her. Always remember to be a friend to her as well. Those are precious sisters indeed.

One more thing before we exit this pity party. I found profound wisdom from that little-known prophet, Joel: The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.  I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm.
~Joel 2:24, 25

There you have it, He will redeem the time you’ve given up in ministering to your aging parents, or whoever it is you are taking care of. It’s hard to see while you’re in this lonely season, but remember to keep your eyes on the One who will never leave or forsake you. If you can do that then this season shall be overflowing with wonders, miracles, joy, and even rest.

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Help me to see that you have prepared only good for me. You are for and not against me. Taking care of my loved ones is my purpose. It is a great purpose, God ordained. Thank you for being in the midst of this season. I know I am never alone. Be my strength.

Beloved Caregiver

It’s a great and mighty wonder
To stand straight in the storm
Sometimes your heart may flounder
But stays true to form
I am there, I am here
Never far, never fear
Walk with Me through the rain
I will carry all your pain

(Copyright © 2018, by Deborah L. Alten)

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Not-So Crazy, Zany, Whimsical Christmas List Post

Have we lost a little bit of that Christmas Spirit? Have we made it about the presents? Stop a while, take note, get back to basics and let’s bring our gifts to the One we’re supposed to be celebrating. The reason for the season, after all’s been said and done, so to speak, is still about Jesus. And the one gift he’s ever asked for was you/me. Yes, he came for us.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ~Luke 2:10 –14 (KJV)

Warning: Something sinister takes over my soul at Christmas time and I’m stuck on the Hallmark Channel. It’s horrifying. My writing also is affected and morphs into the whimsical realm. 

A Christmas Poem

Midnight stars illuminate
The dark he came to decimate
For sin did not discriminate
Love incarnate alleviate

To shepherds sing
The hosts on high
Peace on the earth
And to mankind

The Magi’s gifts
Of myrrh and gold
And frankincense
The cross unfolds

12 Ways For A Caregiver’s Merry Christmas

1. Breathe. I tell my Dad this all the time, “Breathe, get some oxygen to those brain cells.” It works.
2. Enjoy the season. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. Try not to OD on the Hallmark Channel. If you can write a HC movie you’ve probably been watching too much. But you should submit it anyway.
3. Sing … or hum
4. Write a list of your favorite carols to sing … or hum

  •  Oh Holy Night
  • Angels We Have Heard On High
  • Carol of the Bells
  • Do You Hear What I Hear
  • The First Noel

5. Drink hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows
6. Drink eggnog, sprinkle with cinnamon. I think that makes it healthy
7. Ask for help or receive help when offered
8. Laugh, play, read a book. Sit in front of the fireplace
9. Get some exercise. This can be a quick walk in the morning when you can see your misty breath. Oh so brrrr, but refreshing.
10. Accept interruptions to the season. It’s bound to happen for caregivers.
11. Understand that trips to the ER may disrupt holiday plans so be ER ready: pack a pretty backpack with essentials like your favorite snacks, a book perhaps, or your Kindle, a phone charger, tissues, lip balm, throw in a bottle of water, too. I find that if I have this go-bag ready, a visit to the ER is not so troublesome. It feels like you have a little control of the situation. Keep a pillow, blanket, and jacket in the car.
12. Let family be the caregivers, or at least help. You’ll be surprised how much they would like to be involved, and they’re probably good at it. My cousin and his son, who were vacationing here in SoCal, from Holland spent a day with Mom and Dad and assisted Dad with his puzzles.
I Had A Christmas Dream: I woke up one morning and remembered the dream. I embellished it a little but this is what happened. Maybe it will make you smile.

The Christmas Fairy

A dream she weaves for weary souls
When life is broken full of holes

“Imagine this, imagine far,”
She whispers to a passing star,
“Walking through a snowy forest
Where snowflakes
Never taste like porridge
But more like soft marshmallow peeps
In every bowl of cereal treats
Imagine this, it’s oh so funny
As winter trees poop drops of honey.”

A few frosty-breathed giggles escapes Kyleigh’s sparkling-pink fairy lips.

The star whispers back, “Sweet honey drops are never sticky.”

Purple flowers struggle through the frozen cracks of a cold wintry ground and finally show off their heart-shaped berries and chocolate leaves in sweet victory.

The star shudders. “Got to go, sweet Kyleigh, it’s morning time.”

Kyleigh rubs the sleep out of her big brown eyes as she waves goodbye. She thanks the trees who had lulled her to sleep with their stories. Every tree in the forest has a story and if you should have a difficult time falling asleep, for one reason or another, they would whisper their stories till you drift into a dream.

This was the last night Kyleigh would sleep till the New Year. It was her favorite time of year—Christmas.

She blows the playful snowflakes off her nose and loses herself further into her cozy blanket. “Time to rise,” she whispers. 

Through the sheer curtains, drops of honey sunshine, sweet but never sticky, fall gently into her sandy-brown hair creating ripples of golden lights. Each drop whispers her name. “Kyleigh, it’s almost Christmas.”

She shakes the layer of snow from her blanket that she flings twice around herself. Twirling ever so graceful till the blanket embraces her and fully clothes her in a royal wintry robe.

“Okay,” she mutters—eyes wide open. “I’m ready to go.” Shaking the light out of her hair and dusting off another layer of snow, which leaves a radiant blue shine all over her robe, Kyleigh catapults through the rustic arched door of the Spruce she calls home into a bright new morning.

“Brrrr,” she shouts. “I forgot my woolly booties.” With a skip and a hop she scoots back into the tree where her warm fuzzy booties slithers up to her dainty feet. Her dainty feet, however, has grown accustomed to the frigid winter days as she loves to caress the snow with her toes as if playing with warm sand on summer beaches. Nonetheless, she pulls on her woolly boots because she likes the feel of them and they help her move faster through the forest.

“Off we go then!”

More Lists ...

12 Simple Steps to Decorating the House

1. Take it slow
2. Keep it simple
3. Use Pinterest for quick and easy decorating ideas
4. Decorate for them, the one/s you are taking care of
5. Decorate an area just for you
6. Ask family and friends to send Christmas cards so you can display them
7. Christmas tablecloths are cheap
8. Use silk flowers, but real poinsettias are nice
9. Get a small Charlie Brown Christmas tree
10. Or create a Christmas Book Tree (See Pinterest)
11. String popcorn (Dad loves this)
12. Make paper chains

Furthermore, are there any family traditions you’ll be able to keep this year? I hadn’t really thought about traditions and I quite ignored the fact that we actually had some. We used to go to my parents’ church for Christmas service. This brought them much joy especially if our kids were part of the Christmas play.

We also used to receive a chocolate letter, the first letter of our names. This was a special chocolate by Verkaade, a Dutch chocolate brand. Hard to find nowadays but I’m going to do a little online research.

I’ve also convinced Mom and Dad to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life,” even though they’ve never watched a movie from beginning to end … ever. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe A Charlie Brown Christmas will be a better choice.

Try to keep a family tradition. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. And in case you get overwhelmed, go back to the basics—it’s still about Jesus. He will get you through this busy season. Let him be your peace, your joy, your provider. Emmanuel, God with us.

The Big Event: Christmas Dinner
12 Ways to Make Christmas Day Dinner Easy

For us, Christmas day is spent with my brother’s family at our house—11 adults plus one newborn and a toddler. This is my list of 12 things for a successful dinner and a Merry Christmas Day.

1. Cook what is easy. If you have to have a spaghetti dinner then by all means do so. For me, strange to say perhaps, what’s easiest is a full on Thanksgiving-kind of meal—the turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes etc. It somehow became a simple dinner hack for me. But do keep it simple.
2. My family is awesome and usually come with extra dinners, main dishes, salads, and desserts.
3. Use paper plates, paper cups, and cutlery.
4. Don’t make desserts from scratch, visit your local bakery or Walmart will do, right?
5. Do a potluck if you’re hosting the dinner
6. Ask your guests to bring the drinks.
7. You can provide drinks like simple cucumber water, lemon water, or use mint, oranges; who knew water can have so many flavors?
8. Have a place for coffee and hot chocolate with candy canes to stir. Let them serve themselves.
9. Don’t think you have to entertain everyone; keep Christmas DVDs available, or perhaps your guests love basketball. The NBA plays on Christmas Day.
10. We keep puzzles on the table. The grandkids have learned to bring card games.
11. Play worship music softly in the background
12. Leave the cleaning for the day after; or, better yet, accept any offer to help clean.

The Big Gift Exchange

Wouldn't it be a sweet thing if we had enough money to buy presents for the whole family and to be able to spend over $100 for each. Maybe you do, but it’s not in my budget. How about you? A few gift exchange ideas are as follows:

1. Draw names so that everyone has only one gift to buy. this works for our family.
2. Decide on a budget for presents
3. Ask for Christmas lists
4. Stocking stuffers will do
5. See’s candy for everyone? Maybe fruit baskets?
6. Homemade items: this list is endless. Check Pinterest for ideas
7. Gift cards. They really do love them.

Are you feeling the pinch, is it all too much for you? Find your quiet place, sneak a few moments to yourself and ask the Lord to refresh you, get your balance back. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:4 –7 (NLT)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6