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Hymns Of Christmas — Silent Night!

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When was the last time you had a truly silent night? Or afternoon? Or five minutes, for that matter?

Silence is something we often take for granted. We fear it, or we try to fill it, or we keep moving so quickly that we don't even notice it's there int he background.

But that first silent night, the one we sing about at Christmas every year, was perfect in its holiness. The calm came from the presence of the Lord with us. The brightness came from the Light who would walk among men.

The heavenly peace that descended on the night of Christ's birth was heaven-sent. Even if we turn off the television, mute the radio and get everyone around us to stop talking, it won't be the same as the quiet in our hearts that comes from God alone. That's the peace they experienced that night in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

Whether you have five minutes or five hours, fill your heart and your mind with the silence that comes from peace with the Lord. Allow His calm to fill you and flow…

The Eagles Have Landed

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One of the amazing things about living in Iowa is our beautiful feathered friends. All along the Des Moines River, you can find stopovers for eagles, pelicans and several other species of migrating birds.

This weekend I took a drive down a road I've never featured down before. Just a few miles from our home is a spot where the trees open up to an amazing half-mile section of river.

On the other bank were four gorgeous eagles. I pulled over, turned off the car and snapped a few photos. Then I just sat and watched them while they watched me. We'll see if they go tell their friends that they finally spotted a girl in a red car.

If you're out and about in the days to come, stop and see what surprises you'll find. Take some pictures and take some time to slow down this holiday season.

A 1960 Christmas Flashback

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Everything new and modern isn't always for the best. If we look back at Christmases past, it wasn't about buying a bunch of stuff. It wasn't about having the perfect picture to post on social media. Look at these pages from a 1960 cookbook, and I'm sure you'll see what I mean. 

Decorations were made from supplies the family already had. Ribbon, cloth, candy and a tin can lid or two were turned into some festive memories.

Imagine trimming the tree with beautiful fresh fruit instead of mass-produced decor that everyone will have. A tree covered with artificial flowers was a special, one-of-a-kind centerpiece to the holiday season.

We've gotten away from wrapped presents, turning instead to bags and gift card envelopes. Almost 60 years ago, creativity was key. Upcycling wasn't a catch-phrase: it was what you did to show how much you cared.

Parties were about fun, friends, family and lots of great food. And at Christmastime, they were planned with something gr…

Are You Taking Care Of Yourself This Christmas Season, Too?

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This time of year is notorious for its busyness. Combine the things we want to do with the things we need to do, and there's probably a full calendar in front of you.

Instead of letting this season drain us, let's use the holidays as an opportunity to take care of ourselves in the same way we're apt to care for other people.

How much spare time do you have today? It may be 10 minutes, or you might have a whole afternoon. Here are just a few suggestions for ways to practice a little self-care in our busiest days.

Ten Minutes:
* Make a cup of something warm to drink.
* Cuddle and love on your pets.
* Read a devotion and meditate on the Scripture references.

Half an hour:
* Pick out a book you've been dying to read and curl up somewhere quiet.
* Paint your nails.
* Look through your closet and put together a few fun holiday outfits for those upcoming events.

Two hours:
* Bake your favorite cookies.
* Go to the library and browse the stacks.
* Watch a classic Christmas mo…

Words For Wednesday

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Help Your Friends With Christmas Treats Portion Control

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If you had to make a random guess, how many cookies, cakes and candies do you think you eat during the Christmas season?

Are you a grazer - do you just eat your way through the holidays?

Do you just give up and eventually accept any and every yummy treat that comes your way?

If this mentality sounds familiar, you can assume there are many other people who feel the same thing. This Christmas, let's take a stand and help each other find moderation with all the goodies.

What can you do? It can be simple.

* If you're making and giving lots of sweet treats, practice portion control. Small plastic containers, especially ones with compartments like the ones pictured here, are the perfect solution.

* Instead of making full-sized loaves of bread or quick bread, make several mini loaves. More people can receive one, and you'll give smaller portions.

* Choose small gift plates rather than dinner plates. You can fill them fuller and still give fewer treats.

* Give treats out at the e…

Upcycle Your Christmas Cards Into A Garland

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When you bring out your Christmas decorations or when you do a little winter organizing, you probably come across Christmas cards from days gone by. (Or years gone by, as the case may be.) Today's DIY will give you an idea for turning the images from those cards into an adorable garland.

Start by punching out large circles from the fronts of the cards. I used a 1.5-inch circle punch. You can make the three circles all from the same card or mix and match them as you please.

Keep punching until you have 10 or 12 sets of three pretty pictures.

Use adhesive on two sides of one circle and attach the second circle on one side.

Add the third circle, so now there is a little triangle with an open side.

Cut a length of ribbon or yarn and slip it through the open part of the triangle. Use one more piece of double stick tape or more glue to close up the triangle. Continue until you've attached all of your pictures. They'll spin so you can see all three pictures on each one, and you …