One Word for 2017: MORE {or less}

We’re at that pondering stage of the holidays; recounting Christmas, accounting for our year and looking forward to what’s in store.

A few years ago I started to join the trend of bloggers who were choosing ONE WORD to focus on for the year. Instead of resolutions and goals, a word helps us to focus generally or specifically on an area or many areas of our lives. I skipped last year and recently have found myself wondering about a word for this year.

Funny thing, the word ” MORE”  keeps coming to mind. And even though I tried to push it aside as something selfish and excessive, I have come to relish the thought of MORE for this year.

MORE blogging, less thinking about it.

MORE reading books(less internet reading)

MORE exercise(less sitting down)

MORE painting(less PINTERESTING)

MORE creativity(less critical thinking)

MORE time with family(less alone time, although I still need that)

MORE water(less of everything else that isn’t water)

MORE home baked from scratch(less processed crap)

MORE dates(no comment necessary)

MORE joy (less sorrow)

MORE peace(less worry)

MORE laughter(less seriousness)

MORE adventures(less fear)

MORE travel (less boredom)

MORE family( less of me)

MORE time with friends(less time apart)

MORE country(less city)

MORE cuddles(less seclusion)

MORE board games(less TV)

MORE sunshine(less shade- this is an ongoing issue for me — the one who wilts in the hot sun).

MORE camping

MORE backyard fires

MORE listening(less talking)

MORE loving (less fighting)

MORE hearing(less judging)

MORE time (less busy-ness)

MORE sit at the table meals(less meals on the run)

MORE grace

MORE love

MORE hope

MORE joy

MORE gladness

MORE gratefulness

MORE of Jesus every day.

 

I could go on and on. I need more, not less. I need bigger and better, not smaller and worse.

May today be the beginning of more.

Have you thought about your WORD for the year?

 

How To Keep Your Christmas Tree from Ruining Christmas

2015 Update!

I wrote this blog about real Christmas trees 4 years ago. To date, it continues to be one of my highest read posts. As we near Christmas, the searches that lead people to my blog become more desperate and alarming. Things like ” how to revive a dead Christmas tree”  or ” what to do when your Christmas tree is dried out”  …..

So here’s the quick news you probably already know. THROW IT OUT.  Seriously, if you forgot to cut off the trunk, haven’t watered it daily and it is brittle dry…it is a FIRE HAZARD.  People die every year because of dry trees that are lit up with warm bulbs.  Please don’t do that. Please, remove the tree from your home immediately. There is still time to get a new tree and have a lovely Christmas.

 

Here’s another trick I saw today:  use a wrapping paper tube to water your tree. So easy and efficient! I just did it myself today as we have a real tree for the first time in 10 years!  I check the branches every day to make sure they are still pliable and getting water.

christmas tree watering trick

***UPDATE*** After numerous Google searches with people frantically trying to revive their sad and pathetic trees, I must interject and let you all know that #2 is SO CRITICAL to the health and life of your tree. It cannot be said loud enough or often enough….YOU MUST CUT OFF at least 2 inches  off the base of your tree before you put it into your tree stand with water. The bottom is sealed tight and opening up the trunk is the only way for water to get to your branches and needles. If you don’t do this, your tree will die and that’s really all there is to it.  Happy tree trimming and tree hunting!

I’m sad to admit that I have a very high mortality rate with any living plant in my house. I just can’t seem to have a thriving greenish type of thing that isn’t plastic, silk or otherwise fake.   And when it comes to Christmas Trees…well, I’ve killed my fair share.

Needles all over the carpet, ornaments too heavy for brittle branches, even trees that topple in the night due to pathetic hydration.

I grew up on a farm and we had a real tree every year. My mom would use a coffee can to hold the water and I really had nothing to do with it from there. I just cared about tinsel and shiny balls all over it along with the multi-colored retro LARGE bulbs.

We had artificial trees when we moved off the farm and my husband and I only started with real trees in our 5th year of marriage.  I killed that tree early too.  And then next one.  I couldn’t figure out how to prolong its life.  Until I asked my mother how it was that we always had our tree up for at least a month on the farm.  Ginger Ale.  Say what?  Yes.  You know the saying ” a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down”? Well, it applies to evergreens too.  Seems that the sap in the tree blocks up all the pores when you cut it down. Sort of a life preserving technique but it makes it pretty tough to absorb any water.  So here’s the tricks I learned and let me tell you, it works and you can even revive a nearly dead tree!

  1. When you buy your real tree or cut it down , you must let it “settle” in your warm house before it can be decorated. It may take hours or up to a day.  But you cannot leave it inside without putting it in water.  So set up your tree stand(or coffee can) and fill it half full of water.
  2. CUT OFF the bottom of the trunk. Regardless if you have cut it down in the forest yourself or not, the sap will have solidified on the bottom of the trunk and you need a fresh cut to absorb the water.  I have even had to take down a tree and cut the bottom off after I’ve started to decorate just because I forgot this step. Not fun.  Also, trim off  those straggler branches on the bottom. You don’t need them sucking up the water before it gets a chance to travel up the trunk.
  3. Add equal parts of Ginger Ale(I like Canada Dry myself) and water to your tree stand.  Watch the water level~ in the first couple of hours the tree will suck up most, if not all of the liquid and you will need to top it up. After the first day you can go to a 1:4 ratio of ginger ale to water.
  4. You MUST check your water level daily. If you live in a dry climate, have a wood stove, have forced air heat it will dry your tree out quicker.  Also, if you have a vent near where your tree is, consider closing it off for the season to avoid it blowing directly on your tree.
  5. All trees shed needles a bit at first.  You are going to want some sort of proper tree skirt that will catch most of them so that you aren’t still vacuuming needles in July.(been there)
  6. Check your tree daily. It should smell, needles should be pliable and not brittle.  Keep the water level up at all times and you will enjoy your tree through New Year’s! ( I also have used a spray bottle mister sometimes to add a bit of moisture to the upper branches but that’s not really necessary if you’re watering properly)

I don’t have a real tree this year…but next year….OH YES I WILL!

*** NEW**** if you don’t have ginger ale, sugar water will work too! But my experience has shown the gingerale works faster/better??? Not sure why. I’m not an arborist or chemist.

A Viral Post and Holy Ground

Dearest readers,

I don’t even understand how this has happened. Last week when I hit “publish” on a post that I barely thought through, I was hoping maybe I’d get 200 views. Not because the number 200 is magical and a fantastic goal to strive for, but because that’s a little more than the number of friends I have on Facebook and I happen to know that most of them are suffering with various ailments, dilemmas, hardships, worries and struggles.  I prayed, “Lord, just use me to share your love and your message.”

What happened since then has been THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of hits and shares with my daily totals topping the 10’s of thousands and only growing. I am dumbfounded and in awe.

Lately, I haven’t blogged much. Actually, 2014 saw very few posts from me. I have so many in my drafts folder but I’m overly critical at times, think way too hard, or don’t think at all and then they sit there.  Unpublished. Wasting away in a forgotten corner of the interwebs. Blogging has always been , for me, a virtual journal of life and journeying through. Sometimes inspiration strikes me in the oddest of places at the weirdest of times.

And then Thursday happened…..

I have felt like I’m walking on Holy Ground. And I “know that there are angels all around…”

I didn’t want to really post a response. I didn’t want to edit. I wanted it to remain. Jesus is coming…….and the brokenness and waiting is part of the preparation.

So, I’m not adding to that message. I didn’t want it to be cynical. I didn’t want anyone to feel that all hope is lost. It’s not.

Jesus is here. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is moving and speaking and whispering to His people. Through His people.

May I instead, point you towards more inspiring posts to encourage you? You may not feel it at this moment, but there is a place for you to rejoice this Christmas. It is okay to laugh unexpectedly in spite of your situation. It is okay to giggle at silly gifts and look forward to a big feast. It’s okay to stay home and watch stupid movies and play games. Or maybe, just smile in line at the grocery store. It’s all okay. And you know what else is okay? You are. You are here. You made it! 2014 is almost over and you’re still standing. Maybe you’re wobbly. Maybe you’re hurting. But you’re here. And you will be okay.

Sarah Bessey is one of my favourite author/bloggers and she tells stories like nobody I know.  Please go read this:

The sacred and holy moments of life are somehow the most raw, the most human moments, aren’t they?

But we keep it quiet, the mess of the Incarnation, because it’s just not church-y enough and men don’t quite understand and it’s personal, private, there aren’t words for this and it’s a bit too much.

the rest of the post is here: http://sarahbessey.com/in-which-we-get-this-part-of-the-incarnation/

Then there  is Ann Voskamp who completely levels me every time she writes. This post today is such a poignant follow up to my own Merry Broken Christmas. It is a must read for sure:

What if Christmas was about seeing Christ in that family member you think just stinks —- seeing Christ in that neighbour you’re tempted to be offended by, in those politics you’re offended by, in the people you’re offended by, in the point of view you’re offended by? 

What if Christmas gave us the Gift we need to walk through suffering, live for justice, lay down prejudice?

What if Christmas demonstrated how to overcome suffering and evil with good, demonstrated how God overcame the world’s suffering and evil forces by willingly laying aside His power and becoming a helpless babe, demonstrated how the strong turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, seek peace – quietly lay themselves down so that there might be peace on earth and good will toward men.

see the entire post here: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/12/how-even-pain-division-cant-steal-our-merry-christmas-with-a-spoken-word-poem-an-advent-lament-a-brave-merry-christmas/

And then, a few of my own posts. Christmas is my favourite thing to talk and write about. I do it a lot. Honestly, there isn’t enough Christmas in the world.

A couple of years ago I did a 31 Day series on Redeeming Christmas. It continues to get views at this time of year with some posts being particularly popular.

The Ones Who Hate Christmas

The Secret Giver

It’s Complicated 

Christmas Eve message~Merry Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIENDS! May the peace of Jesus be the greatest gift you receive.

Why I’m Not Cool Enough to Watch Downton Abbey~ A post of Confessions

I thought my first post of 2014 should be memorable and profound. This probably isn’t it.

I’m not playing the resolution game. Honestly, it’s too much work and makes my brain hurt. It’s not that I don’t have goals or dreams. I have many, actually.  But I’m not keen on sharing most of them. I’d rather just work them out and let the results speak for themselves.

But in an effort to be more transparent and less cryptic, I’m going to tell you a few things about me; a few things that may shock you or disappoint you. You see, as much as I like to read, as much as I like to be current and on top of pop culture and “with it”, I’m really not.

For example, I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice. Ever. I’ve never watched any of the films about it.

I’ve never read an entire C.S. Lewis from front to back. I have several on my book shelf and I’m hoping to get through at least one this year.

I haven’t got a clue what all the hype is with Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Pardon me if my time is better spent on living people and more worthy causes.

I do, however, cry if I miss an episode of Parenthood. Seriously THE MOST UNDERRATED television show of all time. Maybe because it’s actually like real life? Instead of meth-head teachers and talking zombies. Maybe.

I never did see the entire movie “Titanic” from start to finish. I get kind of crabby when movies come out that are so over-rated, over-publicized and “everyone must see them”.  All I can think about is the old adage “if your friend told you to jump off a bridge would you do that too?”  Don’t worry, in chunks and bits and here and there I have watched all of the movie now- over the years- I get it. Spoiler alert:  people drown.

I have quinoa in my pantry but I’ve never cooked with it. I think I’ve eaten a quinoa salad once. It was okay. I just find rolled oats, rice and tapioca more natural.

I’ve NEVER eaten a pomegranate. I don’t know how to shop for them. Don’t know how to eat them. I’m actually afraid they’ll be horrible and everyone only says they like it because it’s supposed to be healthy. You know, when I grew up, there were no pomegranates. At least not here in Western Canada. We ate Velveeta cheese by the truckload though. I haven’t died of cancer.  I don’t get all the rage with the cool , trendy, “nature’s gold” foods. I mean, it’s great that we have shipping that allows us to try everything but at $5-10 a pound, I’m kind of  “meh” about it all.

I’ve never touched my feet in any ocean. I would love to go to the east coast. Maybe someday.

I don’t own a coffee grinder. If I did, I wouldn’t know what kind of coffee beans to buy or how to grind them perfectly. I have no clue.

I never go to Starbucks. I went there once about 8 years ago and had a hot chocolate that cost me over $4 and wasn’t even that good. I don’t actually get why people line up and pay so much for something so prevalent at any and every shop.

I know there are people out there reading this, shocked, confused, maybe feeling betrayed. Why would I confess to such things in 2014 of all things? Well, here’s the thing:  I kind of think I’m more normal than the current pop culture fanatics have led us all to believe. I don’t think you have to be an infinity scarf wearing, tall leather boot sporting, Starbucks coffee drinking, quinoa crunchy hippie eating, pomegranate seed chewing hipster who only watches Downton Abbey and reads her kids poetry at bedtime. I mean, if you do all that…well…..yay for you. But I actually don’t know anyone like that. Except on the internet. If the internet is right, then that is exactly who 87.3% of the bloggers I follow are.  But I don’t think the internet is right. And I’m blowing up any notion that someone HAS to watch British public television to be in the “in crowd”. I’m sure it’s a lovely show. I’m sure the characters are rich and rife with passion and intricacies. But I’m not there. I might never be there.

I like my grilled cheese made with Kraft slices on white bread.

I like homemade lasagna with lots of cottage cheese.

I like mandarin oranges at Christmas-time and no other time. The rest of the time I prefer navel oranges cut in quarters spraying juice in the eye of my neighbour.

I don’t shower very often, I prefer baths.

I miss mini-series like North and South, The Thornbirds and The Winds of War.

I watched Anne of Green Gables, the Waltons, Little House on the Prairie and Three’s Company when I was a kid.

I think one of the best movies ever made was You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and if that means I have to turn in my movie-going card for the rest of time then so be it. A close second is Pretty Woman. Yes, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts can walk across my screen any old time and I will stop cooking, cleaning and paying attention to everyone in order to hear THAT laugh and see THAT dress.

 

 

 

I may not be the blogger you thought I was. I probably say Downtown Abbey more often than I should because in my mind this is about a large church in central London, a vicar, his choirboys and the mistress he keeps in the back. Wrong? Oh well.

 

 

 

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Giving Thoughtfully {Day 10 of Redeeming Christmas}

I’m way up in the northern part of Alberta, watching the snow fall gently on the trees. The wood stove is loaded for the day and there’s no one else around. It’s the perfect time and place to think about my loved ones and
consider the special things I can do for them for Christmas. Here’s my post from last year on giving thoughtfully.

Once Upon a Prairie....

This may be the most important advice I can give you when it comes to what kinds of gifts you should give.

Mark 12: 28-33

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.  To love him with all your heart, with all your…

View original post 1,437 more words

An Open Letter To TroubleFace Mom

It seems all of the internet has gone mad.

First of all there’s all these open letters to bloggers and authors and people you love and people you love to hate and good grief…..what the what??

So, I decided to write my own.

Dear TroubleFace Mom,

You know who you are. You are the one with the 266,000 + hits on your blog in the past 12 days. You are the one who apparently knows all the things about Halloween.

And for goodness’ sake, what’s up with all the trolls commenting? OH, wait, they’re not trolls? They’re REAL people? People actually think that way?

Heaven help us.

So this is what happened in my little blogging world last week:  I was limping along through my 31 Days of Facebook 101(incidentally the dumbest topic EVER for 31 days) . I was behind on posts and I wasn’t reading any other blogs like a good little blogger should. When all of the sudden I get messages from YOU of all people asking me what the heck is going on with your blog. I assumed trolls. I assumed spammers. Well, I assumed wrong.

It seems your little post from a year ago struck a nerve with someone. And they told two friends and they told two friends and so on and so on and……

And so you and I proceeded to weed through comments and figure out what to do with this and how it would play out. You were sure on Thursday that it was waning and that everyone would forget.  I was thinking it was only the beginning.  On Saturday when your Facebook page reached 300(after only 100 the weekend before) I was impressed with the level of civility among your new followers and friends. Good group there.  And then yesterday, you crossed over the 600 FB likes and I sat here dumbfounded.

How does this happen?

How does one go from internet obscurity to being the poster-girl for viral blogging in one week?

I know the answer- one has to be sassy without being cocky, brave without being rude, truthful while being diplomatic and gracious without being a doormat. You’ve answered the call and done it brilliantly.

And now you know what? I have new followers? Poor them. What will happen when they realize I’m not nearly as clever or witty as you. What will they say when they learn I post about lame things like school lunches and final exams for teenagers? 

And that OTHER little blog we started in the spring? The Mothering Well– all of us mothers have neglected our posts because I’m sure we’re all mothering WELL….right? Are we?  The fact that your name is on our blog has now sent us new followers there too.  So what are we to do TroubleFace mom?  You know that look your kids give you when they’re in trouble? Well, that’s the look I’m giving you now.  So now you are TroubleFace Friend.

I’m just glad you can’t ditch me for my lack of blogging prowess or less than diplomatic gracious comments on your blog.  You can’t because you’re stuck with me for life. Lifers we are.

But can you do me one favour?  Share the wealth? I mean clearly you have WAY too many followers to keep up with…so send a few over to me: Once Upon a Prairie . This is me shamelessly using you to further my agenda. That’s what friends are for, right?

TrobleFace Mom, our friend Donna on her wedding day in August 2011 and ME!

TrobleFace Mom, our friend Donna on her wedding day in August 2011 and ME!

Oh, and if I haven’t said it already, let me say it here: thanks for being friends with the old ladies- you keep us young and thinking! 😉

Sincerely,

Prairie Juan of Once Upon a Prairie