|Icon "The Nativity", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012|
For the first time, this year I ended up with two new icons of the Nativity. Normally, I just have one which I have prepared to use for both my Christmas card and my icon calendar. But this time I had two and couldn't decide which one to use. Finally I made the decision to use both. The icon above I decided to use for my Christmas card. Below is a copy of the face of my "official" 2012 Christmas card.
|2012 Official Christmas Card|
Instead of trying to print the cards myself as I usually do, I decided this year to use Vistaprint as my publisher for my Christmas cards and my calendars -- both the icon calendar and the flower calendar.
I have been very pleased with their work in the past and continue to be pleased with the work they did for me this year.
The icon below (The First Kiss) I used for the month of December on my 2013 calendar. Those of you who have either purchased an icon calendar or been on my birthday list for icon calendars can check December of next year and, hopefully, you will find the "First Kiss" icon there -- looking much as it does on the scanned page below.
|Icon "First Kiss" in 2013 calendar (December)|
As I stated above, each year since I began "writing" icons, I have had one Christmas/Nativity icon which I used throughout the Christmas Season. I got myself in this predicament this year by not being completely satisfied with the first Nativity icon I undertook -- the "First Kiss".
I will have to be very careful in the coming year or else I might end up with three or four Nativity icons and then what will I do?!!
|Icon "The First Kiss", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012|
THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENTWhen Braden and his parents came to visit on Sunday and celebrate Christmas with me, I was so excited -- as you can imagine. We exchanged gifts and I must say that Braden's parents truly gave me some wonderful presents -- one in particular -- but nothing that I unwrapped could even begin to compare with the joy of being able to see and hold Braden. He is truly adorable -- growing quickly -- getting very strong muscles -- full of life and energy. I must admit that being able to hold him and watch him with his parents was truly the best Christmas present of all.
|This is the man of my dreams!|
|Here I am trying to hold on to a wiggle-worm! He is at the stage of standing on his tip-toes and bouncing up and down on your legs. He is already so strong.|
My "Coming Home" Story (continued from previous posting)
I could see a large crucifix hanging above the altar, but no sign of another human being. I begin to remember the horror stories I had heard while growing up about the Catholic Church and started to fearfully wonder if perhaps they had priests watching all the time and when a non-Catholic came into the Church they would kidnap them, feed them only bread and water until they were able to force them to become Catholic! What did I know?
Thankfully, about this time Loretta quietly came up behind me and called my name, asking me what I was doing. Her voice at my ear really startled me and it was a moment before I could speak. Then, I told her what I was feeling and asked her if there could be someone behind the altar watching us – from what I had heard about Catholics, it seemed to me to be a real possibility!
Loretta smiled and shook her head, saying quietly: “look around you, Sallie, obviously there is no one else in the Church but us.”
But I was not satisfied, the feelings were too strong and I whispered in reply: “I refuse to leave until I figure out what is going on.”
While we were standing there, I noticed that there was some kind of container sitting under the crucifix which had a golden top and was covered in a beautiful lace “skirt”. Hanging above and to the side of this golden thing was a candle in a deep red, glass container, burning brightly. I pointed towards the container, asking Loretta what that was for, thinking to myself that maybe it held some kind of hidden camera (remember, this was long before the high-tech world we live in today, but hidden cameras were the stuff of those early spy movies of the 1960s). I know all this business about cameras and hiding priests sounds terribly paranoid, but you must remember that I had grown up in a culture where I had been taught that Catholics were the enemy who, along with their "anti-Christ" pope, were trying to force us Protestants back into their religion full of terrible superstitions and demonic practices.
When Loretta saw where I was pointing, she quickly made the sign of the cross and softly said, "That is the Tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is kept."
"Where the what is kept," I responded?
"The Blessed Sacrament," she replied.
"What on earth is that?" I queried, thinking to myself “here is one of those superstitions I had been warned about.”
The words she next spoke changed my life forever.
(to be continued)
SUKI AND SALLIE
|Suki's response when I try to awaken her!|
What exactly is the behaviour I am talking about? It is Suki's apparent attempt to hibernate! This is very puzzling behaviour -- first, because cats do not hibernate and second, because it hasn't even been that cold outside. But every time I turn around lately, I find her curled up in a tight ball, usually in her bed, lost in a deep, deep sleep. When I attempt to awaken her, she opens her eyes ever so slightly, seeming to say "why are you bothering me?" and then immediately going back to sleep.
Three or four times a day she does awaken to eat. In the past when she would be ready to eat, I could satisfy her with a small serving of her food. Now, however, she wants a big serving of food. If I try to get away with one of those small servings, she will eat that and then put herself back in my way, almost tripping me, until finally I feed her again in self defence!
Once she has eaten as much food as she can "worry" me into giving her, she returns to her bed. After a thorough bath, she settles down and falls back into that deep sleep for hour after hour until her internal clock tells her it is time to eat again. She rarely plays anymore even when I try to entice her with some of her favourite toys.
So, what can be happening? She seems to be healthy in every way I can measure such things. She can also be very affectionate still although this occurs less frequently due to all the sleep she seems to require. If she were older, I could put it down to old age, but she is still relatively young. If any of you "cat people" out there have any suggestions, please pass them along. At the present, I am worried that I may awaken one morning to find I have a small black "bear" wearing Suki's collar and sleeping at the foot of my bed!
Now, as for me, everything remains basically the same. The 21st is almost upon us which means I will finally see the surgeon about my eyelids. I do remain hopeful that he will see the need to correct my eyelids as urgent since it is causing me so much discomfort. I am just trying to leave it with God, trusting that He will provide me with exactly what I need.
As for the other nerves in my face, there seems to be little, if any, improvement. As we reach the two month mark, I am trying to accept the loss of nerve sensation on the sides of my face and around my ears and eyes plus my droopy lower lip. All of these I can live with fairly easily as they do not interfere with normal activities -- although they do make me look a bit funny.
I am really hopeful that once my eyes are repaired, I will be able to regain my feeling of well-being and maybe even return to the gym soon after that. My friend, Karen, has predicted that I will be back at the gym by the end of January. That is a prediction that I hope will come true.
Speaking of predictions, I gather that there are some people out there who actually believe that the world is coming to any end on the 21st! Is that right? According to our Lord, no one knows the day or hour other than God Himself and He has shown no signs of sharing that information!!
May the peace of God be with us all so that no matter what happens in the days ahead, we can trust Him to shelter us under the "shadow of His wings" (Ps. 91). And, as we draw ever closer to the end of Advent and the beginning of the 12 Days of Christmas, perhaps those of us who are Christians (Catholic or otherwise) should ponder this question: "what am I planning on giving our Lord Jesus for Christmas" -- after all, it is His birthday, isn't it?