Friday, December 24, 2021

The Greatest Gift of Christmas


Pausing midday on Christmas Eve, 
on a day filled with a page-long list -
things to do, to prepare, for
our precious family coming to 
spend Family Christmas with us.

The prep is important, and I love it,
and it is needed to welcome the
23 family members joining us next week;
preparation of food, gifts, lodging.
All a joy, and a delight.

And of "first importance"
is preparation of the heart,
taking moments to ponder ...

It comes each and every year,
the Eve of Christmas Day,
and we are filled with wonder.
This year, again, and in deeper ways,
I can hardly even contain the awe
and the miracle of that first Christmas.

"See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a Son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,
which is translated
'God is with us'".
(Matthew 1:23)

"God with us,
the true gift of Christmas".
(From Gracelaced Advent cards)

"Can you imagine, God,
whose glory filled the temple,
now lay His head in Mary's arms?
Mary held God incarnate,
God had chosen to come 
into the world, free of 
temple walls and barriers, 
to dwell with man."
(From Daily Grace Advent readings)

"The Word became flesh
and dwelt among us."
(John 1:14)

JESUS ... "God with us"
I can hardly contain
the joy and the wonder
of this most precious gift.

God with us ...
in our every days, in our moments,
closer than any other.

Joining in with many, many others all over the world, marveling at the beauty of this Christmas season; and maybe more than ever, in our troubled world, we are in awe of the priceless gift of "Immanuel: God with Us"!! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Bites


I love this tasty, and also beautiful appetizer dish! It was a new recipe that I tried a year ago, and has become one of my favorites to make. It has the added plus of being a make-ahead dish. This is always important to me when preparing for the holidays, or really, for any special day.

With two dozen much-loved family members here at our home for our Family Christmas on Dec. 28, I love to do as much as possible ahead of time. It leaves more time to relax, and enjoy being together with those I love! This appetizer dish freezes well, and just needs to be heated up in the oven on serving day. 

This year, I made enough for a very special CityGroup Christmas Party that we had last night, and also have enough already made in the freezer for our Family Christmas next week. I sure love delicious make-ahead recipes, and especially one that is as good as this one.

It's quite an easy process ... after cubing the chicken, coat with a mixture of seasonings, mixing together well. Wrap each piece of chicken with a bacon piece, secure with a toothpick, and then lay on the parchment covered baking pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven to brush with barbecue sauce, and bake about 5-10 minutes more.

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Bites

Course: Appetizers

Yield: 8 servings


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into one inch pieces.
  • 12 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 12 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 slices bacon cut into thirds
  • 14 cup brown sugar
  • 34 cup your favorite BBQ Sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place chicken pieces in a medium-sized bowl; sprinkle with the chili powder, seasoned salt, paprika, garlic powder which have been mixed together; then toss to coat the chicken.
  3. Wrap a bacon piece around each chicken cube, and secure with a toothpick.
  4. Place single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle bacon-wrapped chicken with brown sugar.
  5. Place into oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from oven, brush wrapped chicken pieces with BBQ sauce.
  7. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until chicken is no longer pink and bacon is crisp.
  8. NOTE: This is a great appetizer to make ahead and freeze! Freeze in a single layer, then place in an airtight container to put back in the freezer. When using, thaw in the refrigerator, then heat up in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until heated through. (It may work well to bake straight from the freezer, but for a longer time, as well; I just have not tried this method out yet.)

(Credit: this recipe was originally shared at ... click here. Please visit to find more great recipes! I made a few changes and additions before posting here on my blog.)

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Encouragement for Christmas Prep

How are you doing at this mid-month time? Halfway through the busiest, and most wonderful time of the year? 

I started out simple ... focusing on simplicity in preparations. And for me, preparations are joy-filled and fun, for they are preparations for our sweet family to be Home for Christmas! There will be about two dozen around our tables for our Christmas Dinner, and our home will be filled up to bursting with so much love! And I do love the preparations ... 

But it's easy to get off track; easy to think that we need to do more, and then easy, to over-do, to over-work. This is where I found myself recently ... 

(copied here, from my journal entry a few days ago)
"Somehow the busyness of the season has escalated, and somehow, my days have become too full. Or maybe it's just my mindset that has accelerated with all the wonderful and lovely things that I would like to do during this season. The result is that I can try to take on too much. As a result, I become worn out, tired, and then the lies from the enemy find places to lodge in the crevices and folds of my tired, worn-out life. And I slip into a performance mode ... in my own mind and heart, and also find myself looking to others, seeking for approval, wanting attention. 
And this is not where I want to be ... " 

And I'm thankful that in these times of escalating stress, that we can pause, and listen to Him as we read His Words, that we can quiet our hearts to hear the gentle whispers of God's Spirit within. Reminding us of Truth, reminding us to choose what is most important, even in the midst of busyness. A heart of trust and rest. A heart that is filled and overflowing with God's love. This is the most important ingredient for a joyful Christmas season.

So as I am preparing food for our Christmas Dinner and for the snacking and game times, as I am cleaning our rooms and setting up bedding, as I am wrapping gifts ... I need to remember. I need to not forget the most important ingredient that needs to envelop each thing that I do. And when I find myself stressed, I need to step back, pause, and remember the most important preparation, preparation of my heart. 

A few of the nuggets of encouragement I've received this first half of December, as I have paused, and listened to His Truth ...

Am I controlled by expectations, or am I filled with expectancy of what God can do? "Expectancy sets our sights on God's promises, rather than the empty pursuit of all that cannot truly satisfy in this season." (Prepare Him Room, advent readings from Gracelaced)

"When we fret over unforeseen circumstances and fuss over impressing others, we miss what Jesus calls 'the one thing' that's necessary - a posture of worship. Jesus came that we might know His presence, not impress anyone with our own." (Prepare Him Room, advent readings from Gracelaced)

Quiet your heart in His Presence,
and wait expectantly for Him.
(Psalm 37:7 TPT/CSB)

He brought me to a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delights in me.
(Psalm 18:19)

Surrender your anxiety!
Be silent and stop your striving
and you will see that I am God.
I am the God above all the nations
and I will be exalted
throughout the whole earth.
(Psalm 46:10 TPT)

See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,
which is translated 'God is with us'.
(Matthew 1:23 CSB)

And now ... let's continue on through the rest of this month. Pausing, listening, soaking up God's love and truth. Reflecting everyday on the Greatest Gift of all, and living our days and our moments closely with Immanuel: 'God with us'

Pausing, and being filled with His peace, and His joy - in the midst of the season's activity, and in the midst of our preparations for family Home for Christmas