VOLUME 12 - ISSUE 10 / DEC 2016 VOLUME 12 - ISSUE 10 / DECEMBER 2016
Photo by Terra Bailey Photography
INSPIRATION ~ EDUCATION ~ MOTIVATION
from the By Judy Smith
y decorations are all in place, most of my Christmas buying is completed and some are wrapped and under the tree. The Macy’s parade is past and I must say, it did not disappoint. My little heart was just thrilled with it all. I love parades and every year, during the holidays, I try to see as many as I can. So that means I have a little time just to reflect on Christmas. It is my favorite time of year. There are a lot of traditions for me and my family during Christmas. We always go to see the Festival of Lights at Tanglewood in Clemons, NC. There are many times we even go more than once. We love the light show but we LOVE the marshmallow pit! Okay, it is just a huge fire pit but you can buy marshmallows and have fun perfectly roasting them for that sweet delight or, like some do...just have fun burning them. I know money can’t buy happiness but one dollar can buy you four marshmallows to roast and that is the same thing. Then it is into the gift shop we go. Guess who’s there!!!!! Mr. and Mrs. Clause. You can sit on his lap and tell him what you want for Christmas. I don’t do that any longer though. My husband said I was too old for that.
Popcorn. Do you smell it? Most of the nights we are home, we are watching a Christmas movie, sometimes more than one and sometimes more than once each. There are the old traditional ones like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story (which my husband can quote word for word) and A Christmas Carol, just to name a few. Then there are the newer ones like The Nativity Story, The Santa Clause, The Santa Clause Two, The Santa Clause 3, The Santa Clause...oh, wait. That one is not out yet! Of course I cannot leave out The Charlie Brown Christmas and Elf. Those Elves with attitude crack me up every single time.
I have been thinking quite a lot about that first Christmas. Have you ever considered that God, the creator of the universe, created Himself in Mary’s womb? That He allowed himself to become human, to be born of a woman? He became a baby, completely dependent on human parents to feed Him, to swaddle him, to provide for Him and to love Him. God gave Himself a human body with all the same feelings of our bodies including hunger and most of all pain. God came down to us. We spat on Him, mocked Him, humiliated Him and tortured Him to the point of death. Yet that was not enough. We hung Him on a tree to torture Him some more, to take His life and what did He do? In His last moments, He cried out: “FATHER FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO”. One thing for sure is I don’t have that much love. Yes, I would die for my children and my grandchildren. I might even die for a few other folks. What about you? Your answer would probably be the same as mine. Jesus’s mother Mary, said she was “going to ponder these things in her heart”. Have you pondered them in your heart? IMMANUEL...GOD WITH US. Thank you Lord. No matter your Christmas traditions, let’s focus on the ONE TRUE MEANING. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND MY PRAYER IS THAT YOU KNOW MY JESUS.
Yet with all the fun things, I know the real reason for Christmas and
Merry Christmas from all of us at
Judy Smith : Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Child of God Inspirational & Motivational Speaker with a little humor thrown in for good measure. firstname.lastname@example.org
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phie Woman’s Magazine
Contents Message from the Heart
Reaching Your Full Potential
Girlfriends in God
Me, Myself, & I
By: Judy Smith
By: Kim Fletcher
P.O. Box 1393 22 South Main Ave. Newton, NC 28658 (P) 828-466-0122
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Judy Smith 828-466-0122 email@example.com
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By: Nicole Greer
By: Mary Southerland
By: Sherre Demao
Cover Feature: Sunrise Appliance
Featuring: Charlynn Bowman
He Said, She Said
The Scrawniest Christmas Tree
Live God’s Word
Christmas is a Time for Giving
By: David & Amy Washco
By: Jan McCanless
By: Nina Heck
M arketQuest Media, LLC
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REACHING YOUR FULL POTENTIAL: Choose With Hope
by Kim Fletcher, Life Coach, Speaker, Author
“Thoughts are real, physical things that occupy mental real estate. Moment by moment, every day, you are changing the structure of your brain through your thinking. When we hope, it is an activity of the mind that changes the structure of your brain in a positive and normal direction.” Dr. Caroline Leaf The inspiration for this article came today as I waited to vote with my coffee in hand. Don’t worry … I am NOT going to talk about the election. I want to take a quick look at the POWER of our own life choices.
Dr. Caroline Leaf is a renowned Neuroscientist that has impacted my thinking. Her book titled Switch On Your Brain has awakened me to the degree to which our thoughts and our decisions actually alter the structure of our brain. Thirty days ago, I made the decision to fast and pray leading up to the recent election, in part having been impacted by Lou Engle who leads The Call. While I chose to fast from several of my favorite foods, I also made the decision to fast from the noise. I listened to no news (a choice made much easier by my decision a few years ago to rid my home of television), and avoided negative conversations. I made a few observations during this season that I hope you will be able to apply to your own decision making processes:
First, I was reminded that as humans, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. In other words, if we are not careful, we will blindly make the same choices we see others around us making without really listening to our own inner voice. A few of the pit falls to avoid here are peer pressure, bullying, and apathy. In order to make wise, well informed life decisions, ponder who or what is influencing you and whether that influence is healthy or unhealthy.
I also noticed that this election seemed to be more about who people were voting against rather than who they were voting for. This season has reminded me that many of us are making choices in one area of life out of a reaction to something we don’t like rather than really figuring out who and what we stand for. As you make daily decisions, you want to do so out of a pure heart that has forgiven and released past offenses. Some of the most devastating life decisions are the ones made out of an angry, confused or frustrated place. One example might be someone who walks away from a job as the result of a disagreement without considering the outcome of that choice. I noticed something else. I became quite aware over the past month that people often perseverate on a minor issue which is
pg 6 | Sophie Woman’s Magazine | December 2016
actually distracting them from focusing on the real issues. In life, the warning here is to not allow yourself to major on the minors. Rather, we need to discern what is truly important in life and determine to make decisions that lead us on a clear path toward our desired outcomes. This is a great point on which to review your own life vision, your values and your core beliefs. These, coupled with your faith, will act as a compass to guide your decision making.
After I voted, I sat down outside St. Luke’s Methodist Church on a wooden bench near the entrance to the sanctuary to finish my coffee. I became aware of the glorious fall weather and colors surrounding me. Then I noticed something a bit odd. While I has assumed today would be busy and chaotic, I realized that the atmosphere felt unusually peaceful. Traffic seemed to be passing slower, there were only a few people at this voting location and most were chatting in hushed tones. I quietly asked God what was responsible for the stillness when I had actually expected a lot of “noise.” I felt impressed that His reply within my spirit was that this is the quiet that ONLY COMES when people choose to get quiet. Election day marked the ends of months of discussion. Today, the decisions are made and the conversations are over. Now, we wait.
I want to invite you into this place of peace … get quiet within your own heart and take time to wait. More and more, I am coming to realize that life lived from that chaotic and busy place is not only stressful, but it actually sets my brain up to make the wrong choices for my life. We need to get quiet enough to be able to hear God echoing gently within our spirit. This season of endless chatter has reminded me that sometimes, we must go against culture and choose quiet over constant action. In the stillness, answers and insights come that will never be heard above the clamor. As I was leaving the voting area, a kind man came in asking to register to vote. He was politely told it was too late, that you have to register prior to the election. That leaves me with one final challenge … don’t wait too late to begin living in a way that restores hope and direction to your own life. Never underestimate the power of a decision!
Choices and Decisions can alter the outcomes of your life and your organization. Kim launches clients toward their true IDENTITY and DESTINY. As a coach and leader of global impact, Kim seeks to make a lasting difference as she shares principles of true transformation with individuals and groups internationally. All new coaching and speaking clients who partner with Kim through the end of 2016 will receive a FREE COPY of her award-winning book titled The Tension Point. Email: email@example.com
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are Radically Generous
By Nicole Greer, PPCC Founder and Principle Coach at Vibrant Coaching
A good deed brightens a dark world. This is evidenced by a radically generous “yes” to an unfathomable situation. Mary was instructed to bear the son of God. She was confounded and concerned. Her future and the possibility of a future husband at risk, Mary accepted the opportunity to be generous. In fact, she celebrated with a magnificent song of praise. Mary gave glory to God that she was given the opportunity to give the world the greatest gift in history. She declared God’s generosity! “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” Luke 1: 46-55 And then, in a manger, miles away from home, Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus. This epic event changed the world forever. Generosity was demonstrated, declared and defined as the most divine characteristic an individual can exercise. We are Sophisticated Women. We understand that our role is to develop our own ability to be generous in a radical way. As we celebrate this event in our Christmas “Holy”days, we, too, can take on the stress, the risk, and the heaviness of giving with praise and thanksgiving. Yes, we have a to-do list a mile long including: cooking, cleaning, shopping, decorating, mailing, coordinating, and caroling but, we also have been entrusted with a heart that can accept this responsibility in a radically generous way. Albert Einstein stated, “True religion is real living: living with one’s soul, with all one’s
pg 8 | Sophie Woman’s Magazine | December 2016
goodness and righteousness.” As the season unfolds, be cautious to see the season as gift from God and not a series of tasks that you are stuck doing for everyone else. Remember the heart that gives generously gathers to herself memories to ponder in the years to come. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19 Being radically generous this Christmas season does not mean you need to decorate like Martha Stewart, cook as demonstrated in the pages of Southern Living, wrap presents like at the mall or dress you and the family in co-ordinating outfits. Instead, try these ten acts of generosity. Ten Ways to be Radically Generous 1. Smile at the cashier and wish them a Merry Christmas when you are checking out after a long wait for your turn. 2. Bring an extra gift to the party, just in case. 3. Pay for the person’s meal behind you in the fast food lane. 4. Skip the teacher present and send a nice note thanking him or her for the gift of knowledge. 5. Leave a heartfelt comment on someone’s social media post. 6. Decide to recycle and save your part of planet earth. 7. Give a positive piece of feedback, especially if you witness a radical display of generosity. 8. Pass on copies of the pictures you take to the people at the party/event. 9. Give up your seat at a crowded event. 10. Pray light love to SHINE forth in the world! Have a Vibrant Christmas!
At its deepest level, working with a coach frees you to identify your birthright gifts, discern your deepest passions, and fulfill your highest purpose. A coach can pry you off dead center. As Principal Coach for Vibrant Coaching and Workshop Leader for The Lydia Group, LLC, a collaboration of individuals focused on work, life and spiritual growth, Nicole is on a mission to impact, energize, and influence people to lead a Vibrant Life by engaging the possibilities. As a life and business coach and workshop leader, Nicole views her role as a conduit to release all that you want to achieve. www. thevibrantcoach.com and www.thelydiagroup.com
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Will You Please Give It A Rest? by Mary Southerland
The LORD is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul. Psalm 23:1-3
Friend to Friend
We once had an Australian cattle dog named Dallas. Australian cattle dogs are extremely loyal to a master of their choice. Dallas chose our son Jered to be his master. When Jered came home from school each day, Dallas would greet him at the door and follow him wherever he went. If Jered did homework in his room, Dallas curled under the desk. When Jered ran an errand, Dallas rode shotgun. Dallas instinctively knew that the only place he would find genuine rest was at the feet of his master. The same is true in our lives. But … I am not very good at this rest thing. Life is so daily and often filled with uncertainty, a reality that can make me very nervous. I want to know what the plan is and how that plan is going to be implemented. Details! I need details! Instead, God calls me to leave the details up to Him and rest. I don’t want to rest. When I rest, I feel guilty. I have places to go, people to see, and important things to do. But I hear the quiet whisper of the One who knows me best and loves me most, “Mary, it is time to rest.” I have tried to ignore that whisper more times than I care to admit, but it is only a temporary maneuver on my part. The Lord is my Shepherd and is well acquainted with the antics of stubborn sheep like me. He will lovingly make me lie down in green pastures and firmly lead me beside quiet waters. Why? He wants to refresh my soul. He wants me to experience the peace that can only be found at His feet. Rest is not really an option. It is a spiritual discipline that we need to make a spiritual habit in our life. Many of us have bought into the lie that who we are is based on what we do or don’t do. We fill every waking moment with something or someone in order to prove our worth. After all, we must be worthy if we are doing worthy things, right? Busyness does not always equal productivity. When we admit our need to rest, we are acknowledging the fact that we are imperfect and that our human power is limited. For years, our family vacationed in the mountains of North Carolina in order to escape the brutal heat of South Florida where we lived. We all had our favorite thing to do while on vacation. Dan loved to read and take long walks in the cool, green forests. The kids loved wading in creeks, looking for gold nuggets. My favorite activity was shopping for antiques. Now let me define antiques and antique stores according to Mary.
pg 10 | Sophie Woman’s Magazine | December 2016
The best antique stores were nestled in the mountains on some remote dirt road, and the antiques were what most people would call junk. It’s all a matter of perspective. One year, I walked into a shop and stopped in my tracks when I saw the yoke hanging on a wall. Matthew 11:28-30 is one of my husband’s favorite passages of Scripture where Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and you will find rest for your souls.” For years, I searched for just the right yoke to give Dan as a special gift. But every yoke I found was either too big or too small and in less than stellar condition. The yoke before me was in perfect condition and was just the right size and price. Upon closer inspection, my excitement faded. Yokes have two loops of leather or wood attached to a sturdy wooden frame. Two working animals wear the loops around their necks in order to bear whatever load they are given. The loops on this particular yoke were not the same size – one larger than the other. When I pointed out the flaw, the shop owner said, “It’s supposed to be made like that. The stronger animal is placed in the larger loop to help the weaker animal pull the load.” Boom! I bought that yoke and gave it to Dan, but it is really a gift for me as well – a beautiful reminder that a shared load is a lighter load. Are you tired and exhausted from trying to live life on your own? Come to Jesus and find rest in Him.
Father, thank You for the promise of rest we find in Your presence. It seems like I am always tired and every step is hard. Please forgive me when I turn to You as a last resort instead of running to You first. Today, I turn to You, Lord, for rest.In Jesus’ Name,Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
• Read Genesis 2:2. How does this verse apply to your life? • Read Job 33:26. Notice every “action” word in this verse. What does God promisewhen we choose to apply the steps He outlines in this verse? • Identify the areas of unrest in your life. Bring them to God in prayer and seek rest in Him.
More from the Girlfriends
You can’t eliminate stress, but you can learn to control stress before it controls you. Mary Southerland transforms the promises of the Twentythird Psalm into easy-to-implement, practical steps that will hand you the keys to stress management. Escaping the Stress Trap is a story-filled, humorous, and helpful approach to dealing with the pressures of life. The chapter-by-chapter study guide is ideal for both personal and small group studies.
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7 Productive Reflections from 2016 As this year comes to its end, it invokes a desire to look back to reflect on all that was experienced, accomplished or left undone. Too often, we tend to only focus on what was left undone. A better way to spend your time in reflection is to embrace what you have learned, appreciate what went right and how you can replicate it, and then look forward to the promise and potential the year ahead with true anticipation. 1) Let Go of the Past: Whether it is something from years ago, or something that continues to monopolize your thinking that occurred this recent year, realize the strength that comes from letting go of what you cannot control or change. Focus on the here and now, and what you can do moving forward to create a future that delights you. 2) Change Your Mindset About Money: Realize that when you only focus on the money that you don’t have, you diminish the value of the money you have received, either through your hard work and efforts, or the consideration of friends or family who have treated you to special surprises or outings, and businesses that have blessed you with coupons, rewards or perks resulting in savings or extras that would have otherwise cost you money. 3) Appreciate What You Already Have: In striving for “more,” don’t lose sight of what you already have already realized. Take some time right now to give thanks and appreciate even the simplest of things — a special treasured memory, people in your life, your home, your health, your work, your family, your pets, your modern conveniences, and the list goes on and on. Focus entirely on what makes you smile and feel good. 4) Celebrate Your Accomplishments: Reflect on what you have accomplished and still desire to accomplish and refine what you really want for 2017. Most important, make note of the key factors that contributed to what you accomplished, and reflect on how these same factors could help you succeed in other areas still yet to be conquered.
pg 14 | Sophie Woman’s Magazine | December 2016
5) Allow Your Passions to Motivate You: If this past year has left you unmotivated, then re-ignite your mojo by putting your focus on what you are most passionate about doing or enjoying. Reward yourself by treating yourself to a passion that is nurturing or fulfilling. Consider how you can incorporate what you are passionate about into your work or your everyday living. 6) Say “No” With Conviction: If the year has left you feeling pulled in a million directions, give yourself permission and the gift of saying “no” to what you really don’t want to do or focus upon. Decide what is really important and then let go of the need to say “yes” to every request. Help others explore other options so your time can be freed so that you can focus on your priorities. 7) Take Risks to Grow: If you feel as though you have been doing the same-old, same-old as you reflect upon this past year, then explore the possibilities of getting out of your comfort zone to learn something completely new or take on an intriguing challenge. Don’t view it as a risk, but rather as an opportunity to expand your horizons in new and exciting ways. As a quote from proverbs states, “Every ending is a new beginning.” Allow this final month of 2016 be a celebration of YOU as much as a celebration with family and friends. Embrace what you have learned over this past year that has made you stronger, more assured, more compassionate, more focused, and more grateful. Empower the possibilities that exist and will come into being in 2017 with anticipation and confidence because of all that you gained from living, loving and learning this year.
Bio: Sherré DeMao inspires people around the globe through her monthly columns, weekly Insight eZine and national contributing writing. Her books, Me, Myself & Inc. (www.memyselfandinc.com) and 50 Marketing Secrets (www.50marketingsecrets.com) have received national acclaim as Top Business Shelf picks and must-reads.
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Front Cover Feature
Life is a Kitchen Put on your prettiest
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Since 1955, Bowman’s Sunrise Appliance has offered the Catawba County area a great place to shop for appliances. And now it’s only getting better! Charlynn Bowman, owner and operator of Bowman’s Sunrise Appliance would like to welcome you to their new, and much larger showroom on Highway 70 across from the Valley Hills Mall. When you walk in their showroom, you are almost always welcomed with the smell of fresh popcorn and/or fresh baked cookies. Charylnn invites you to come in “to an expeciece” at Bowman’s Sunrise Appliance and see what they have to offer. Charlynn believes that in order for you to get a real “at home” experience before you buy, you should come in and see their FIVE working kitchens. This will enable you to get a true perspective on how you would want your own kitchen to look, feel, and perform. Are you thinking about renovating your kitchen? Charlynn and her staff can help you design the kitchen of your dreams also. They have years of experience and can help you remodel your existing kitchen.
Charlynn Bowman Owner of Sunrise Appliance
In fact, not only can Charlynn and her team help you design your kitchen, they also offer cooking classes throughout the year. So you not only learn to cook some new and exciting dishes for the family, but also how to use some of the newest gadgets on the market to make cooking easier.
Photo by Terra Bailey Photography
Charlynn along with her husband Paul believe that if you are going to live in a comunity, you need to be involved. “I’ve lived in this area my entire life”, Charlynn says, “From the beginning, being involved with a family owned business gave me deep roots to help meet our customer’s needs and to care for the community.” So the next time you are in the market for appliances or you have some spare time on your hands, stop by and check out Bowmans’s Sunrise Appliance. It’s an experience you will not find in a big box store. You will instantly know this before you even walk in, because on the front of their store are the words, “All Great Change in America Begins at the Dinner Table”. Food for thought, don’t you think?
pg 16 | Sophie Woman’s Magazine | December 2016
You will experience a Boutique style atmosphere when you walk in our showroom! • Five Working Kitchens • Small Appliance Stations
• Cookware Stations • Kitchen Utensil Stations
will off WeWe will bestart offering our popular ourcooking popular classes again in the cooking classes Springagain of 2016 and in 2017. will continue quarterly. www.sophiewomansmagazine.com | pg 21
Photo by Brandy Watkins Photography Photo by Brandy Watkins Photography
Our knowledgeable in-store experts will help you every step of the way, and our professional delivery and installation experts will assure that your new products arrive safely, are installed properly and that any questions or needs you have are handled promptly. And of course if service is required in the future, you can rest assured of the same dedication to prompt professional assistance with our service department as well. Visit or call us if you have any questions or would like more information. We look forward to meeting and helping you with your appliance purchases.
pg pg18 22| |Sophie SophieWomanâ€™s Womanâ€™sMagazine Magazine| |December December2016 2015
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He Said, She Said
I “Feel” Christmas by David and Amy Washco
he older you get the more the years seem to race by melding into a mostly happy, sometimes sad but always messy tangle of memories. For some, all it takes to snap into the holiday spirit is Christmas music. For others, it doesn’t feel magical until a very specific “something” occurs. That “something” ranges from the tangible to more abstract sounds or smells. While often unique for each person, all the “somethings” have one thing in common. They made an emotional imprint so deep that no other substitute evokes the same feeling. In other words, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without it. She Said I descended from a family of knitters. Each time a child was born, my great Aunt Margaret would knit them a special Christmas stocking. It was long and skinny with a fuzzy white Santa and a bell on the tip of the toe. As special as this stocking was, seeing it hanging on the fireplace didn’t make it feel like Christmas. It didn’t feel like Christmas inhaling my parent’s second hand smoke or listening to my dad utter every curse word untangling the tree lights either. Some years there were more presents under the tree then others. It wasn’t the number of wrapped packages that brought the magic. I knew it was officially Christmas when a large wooden bowl appeared in the center of our kitchen table. That bowl was filled with the most wonderful smelling oranges, walnuts and brazil nuts. That bowl would sit untouched until Christmas day when those oranges and nuts would magically find their way to the bottom of our stockings under the toothpaste, shampoo and Band-Aids that surely every kid dreams about. The challenge of breaking into those nuts by hand kept us busy. (I think my father purposely hid the nutcrackers.) Years later, my mom admitted that the oranges and nuts were a poor family’s way of filling a stocking and a belly! Funny how that bowl of oranges and nuts came to mean so much more to me. This tradition is so important for me that to this day my husband and I buy a bag of nuts and keep them in a large bowl for everyone to enjoy during the holidays. We don’t hide our nutcrackers though. He Said Each year, Christmas began the day I would hear the doorbell ring, open the door, and see the mailman standing there holding a brown box from Scranton, PA. Actually, I am pretty sure this was the beginning
pg 20 | Sophie Woman’s Magazine | December 2016
of Christmas for my entire family. No one was allowed to open the box until every family member was present. This proved to be difficult some years, as my dad was a pilot for TWA. The contents of this box made even the most difficult child become a choirboy. The box was from my Hungarian Grandmother. She was the sole owner of the family recipe for Kiffles. Kiffles are traditional Hungarian cookies made from cream cheese dough. They are filled with various delicious pastry fillings. It was these cookies that made it much easier for my sister and I to send a “Thank You” card for the Christmas presents of socks, underwear or scarves that would arrive a few weeks later. My Grandmother was a strong and stoic woman. She only had to say something once. If she said “No”, she meant it! One year, my parents tried to use my innocent looks and charm to ask my Grandmother for the family recipe. My chances of surviving in a pit of lions would have been greater. When I was older, my parents decided to travel over Christmas. While they were gone, I stayed with my Grandparents. Since my Grandmother was getting up in years, surely she wouldn’t want her recipe to go with her to her grave. I asked her once again if I could carry on her legacy and have her Kiffle recipe. The answer was still no. She intended to take that recipe six feet under – well at least that’s what she thought. While I was visiting, I met her sister from Hungary. She was a lovely lady with a great sense of humor. She was kind enough to give me the family recipe, however, she wrote it in Hungarian! In the end I am more like my Grandmother than I like to admit. I kept the recipe secret from my parents and my sister. Each year, my daughters get to enjoy my childhood Christmas memory, and they don’t have to wait for the doorbell to ring or for me to die to get the recipe.
David and Amy Washco are survivors of divorce and serve as relationship advocates. With a financial and marketing background, they are married and live in Hickory, NC. David and Amy are parents to 17 year old Savannah and 9 year old Riley.
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by Jan McCanless
Jan McCanless is an award winning author of 13 books, a freelance columnist, and premier southern humorist. a retired teacher. She is grandmother to 9 cherubs and is a commissioned lay minister of the Lutheran faith.
s a child, I felt that Christmas should be celebrated year round, in every room of the house, forever !! I think every child feels that way, - -- until we learn better.
When in Junior High School, we lived in a big, two story house with lots and lots of rooms, my brother and I had bedrooms upstairs, with a sun room between us. I loved that place, and spent a great deal of time up there.
and went, New Years, Valentines Day, and we were charging towards Easter, and that tree was still up in my room. I was proud of that tree, to me it was beautiful, and it reminded me of Christmas and the joy of the season. Mama, however, was afraid it was becoming a fire hazard, as it had turned a lovely shade of brown, and was pretty dry by that time. In fact, needles were piled on the floor where they had dropped off. It was, unfortunately, the scrawniest looking thing you ever saw, but, I continued to take pleasure in looking at my own Christmas tree.
One year, I got the bright idea I wanted my own Christmas Tree, with lights and decorations, and I wanted it front and center in my bedroom, which was a generous size. So I went to the Christmas tree seller at the corner, and bagged a tall, scrawny looking , spindly tree from him. I dragged it home and up to my room for set up. It already had a couple wooden slats for a stand, so, all I had to do was stand it in the corner, which I did, with, the scrawniest side to the wall. Then I grabbed a string of lights from my parents cache , and proceeded to string them along my tree. Next, I needed ornaments, and not having any of my own, I also “borrowed “ some off our big tree in the downstairs sunroom. What I lacked, I made myself.
All things must come to an end, as did the life of this tree, and it was a sad day in early spring when I eventually took it down, dropping dry, brown needles all the way out the door. I don’t know why I needed that tree so much that year, but, I did, and it gave me comfort and pleasure every time I looked at it. As I’ve gotten older, like the Grinch, I too have learned that Christmas trees, ornaments and bright lights do not make Christmas, and the lack of them doesn’t stop Christmas from coming. Christmas is a warm, fuzzy feeling brought about by love in the heart; not for all the presents you’ll receive, or all the cookies and fruitcake you can consume, it’s love in your heart, and a feeling of great joy over the Christ child,and the true meaning of the holiday.
As I stood back and admired that tree, I saw that it leaned a little to one side, and didn’t look particularly full or pretty, but, it was mine, and I loved it, as if I had planted, grown and cut it down myself. Well, I did get it home, up the stairs,and set up all by myself !!! Christmas came
I’ll never forget that pretty little tree of mine, but, Christmas has an entirely different meaning to me now. My wish for you this season is a heart full of love and happiness, as you celebrate the birth of our Lord, and forge onward towards a bright new year.
pg 22 | Sophie Woman’s Magazine | December 2016
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LIVE GOD’S WORD by Nina Heck
This series is designed to take your Christian walk to the next level! You may believe in God, but do you truly believe His word or even know how it is relevant in your life today? Each month we will look into God’s word and find answers to many of the questions you may have about God, who He is, how He wants you to live your life, and how to have a more personal relationship with Him. Together, we will not only read God’s word, but find out how to “Live God’s Word” everyday! Materials provided for this study by: Chuck Huskins of Reconciliation Church
How To Hear God’s Voice Here’s the question : Does God still speak to people today? I was speaking to a friend recently and told her God had impressed on my heart three times that day to call her and share this specific scripture with her. She thanked me and then commented, “What do you mean when you say God impressed this on your heart - does He actually speak to you?” She just looked at me in disbelief when I told her, “Yes, He speaks to me all the time.” Then, her next statement broke my heart....With such a sad expression she said, “God has never spoken to me but I sure wish He would.” I reassured her God was speaking to her - she just needed to learn how to be in tune with Him to recognize His voice.....God has never spoken to me in an audible voice - but He does let me hear His voice in a lot of other different ways. You must open your spiritual eyes, your spiritual ears and your spiritual heart so you actually begin to recognize when God is speaking into your life. Here is a breakdown of the different ways God allows you to hear His voice : 1) God Speaks Thru Our Thoughts : For God to speak into your life you must become attentive to the voice of the Lord - To be “attentive” means to be observant; to be very aware of what is happening around you. God will often speak to you thru “flowing thoughts”. These are thoughts that run thru your mind and continue to come into your thoughts even though you may not be focused on that train of thought at the time. I have learned that God will continually bring the same thought back to my mind to get my attention. John 14:26 states, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”(NIV) Be very aware of your flowing thoughts and attentive to what the Holy Spirit may be impressing on you. 2) God Shows Us : Acts 2:17 states, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will
pg 24 | Sophie Woman’s Magazine | December 2016
prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”(NIV) A “vision” is an experience in which a thing or an event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present. A “dream” is a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep. God uses both visions and dreams to speak into our lives and show us things intended to change our thoughts, teach us truth or guide our decisions in a certain direction. 3) God Impresses Things On Us : In Acts Chapter 2, as the people listened to God’s message from Peter it states, “ When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter, “Brothers, what shall we do.”(NIV) The word “ impress” means : to affect deeply in mind or feeling; to urge someone into action. God impresses things on us through our feelings. Sometimes these feelings may affect us spiritually, emotionally or even physically as God speaks into our heart. 4) God Instructs Us : God has given us an instruction manual to give us wisdom and direction in our lives - His word - the Bible. Joshua 1:8 states, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”(NIV) God speaks to us thru His written word as we read and follow what He instructs us to do. God’s desire is for your heart to hear His voice, believe what He says, and then act on what you hear. Just be still and listen....I promise God is wanting to speak to you today.
Nina Heck has been married to her husband Kim, for over 30 years. Their greatest joy is their family - Amber, Austin and his wife Rachel, and their grandchildren Allie, Alek and Ellie. A retired hairstylist, she now has more time for her true calling - teaching God’s word in a way that will make it relevant and easy to understand. You can reach her at email@example.com
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is a Time for Giving by Letty Lozano
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. – James 1:17 If I were to ask people what comes to mind when they hear the word “Christmas”, I wonder how many different answers I would get. I’m sure I would hear things such as Christmas trees, decorations, family dinners, shopping, gifts, church, pictures with Santa, parties, school plays, vacation, and the list would go on and on. And although Christmas is about all those things, I would be curious to know if anyone would even mention the true meaning which is the celebration of the “birth of Jesus”. Every year that Christmas comes around I can’t help but look back on all the memories of past Christmases and realize that some of the traditions from way back when, have managed to stay in the family. My dad didn’t make much money but one thing he did manage to do was to send all his 6 children to Catholic schools. It was there that we learned the true meaning of Christmas. Every year during Christmas, we had a Christmas play, so we took part in the story of Jesus’ birth. I made that same sacrifice in that I sent my own children to catholic schools so that they would learn the same things about the meaning of Christmas and take part in similar activities that pertain to some of the most important aspects about the celebration of Christmas. I remember when my children were young and the fun we had picking out our tree, decorating it, taking the kids to see and take pictures with Santa, listening to Christmas carols, attending church, driving around looking at the Christmas lights, witnessing the joy and happiness of the wonder in my children’s eyes, leaving milk and cookies for Santa and waking up on Christmas morning to the excitement of the kids as they looked at what Santa brought them. One of the things that has changed is the focus on gift giving and the overwhelming amount of money spent on materialistic things. My sisters and I were used to sharing things that we received for Christmas. If there was one bike under the tree, we were happy and grateful and we didn’t mind that we were going to have to take turns riding it. We learned how to share and we appreciated the things we received even though it wasn’t much by today’s standards.
pg 26 | Sophie Woman’s Magazine | December 2016
I tried to give my children a little more than I had, and it seems that this new generation is trying to give their kids even more. It’s not that I don’t understand their good intentions of wanting their kids to have more than they did; it is just that “more is not necessarily better”. When giving a gift, the amount of money it costs is not as important as the thought that was put into the gift. A celebration so beautiful and simple has gotten a little more complicated and stressful. I would prefer to give something from my heart, something that is significant to me, something made by me, written by me or something someone truly needs. Instead of “more is better”’ I’m in to “less is more”. Less stuff, less clutter and less money spent unnecessarily. I prefer more meaningful gifts such as doing a good deed, sharing of a talent, more giving to the less fortunate, more ways to make peace, having compassion, loving unconditionally, being generous with time, and showing kindness. In other words, things that money can’t buy. I guess, as I’ve gotten older I’m just not as materialistic as I used to be. I may not be one of those parents or grandparents, who buy my children and grandchildren everything in the world, but I love them more than anything in the world. Material things will be bought, and forgotten about over time. Gifts from the heart make long lasting memories and perhaps traditions that will be passed along for future generations. Christmas time is a special celebration and all people everywhere are welcome to celebrate. Find your own unique way; ways that will be remembered and cherished by others whose lives you have touched. This Christmas, I will picture baby Jesus lying in the manger, surrounded by everyone who was present, and the three kings carrying gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. As I meditate during this Christmas season I will picture the beautiful shining star and I ask myself, “ How can I be a shining light in the life of someone else”? And then I trust that God will show me the way. Letty Lozano is a writer and author of her first Memoir, “Traveling Blind.” As a survivor of a loved ones suicide, her memoir was born out of the responses she received from readers of blog entries written during her painful journey from utter despair to a renewal of her faith and enjoyment of life. She believes only God the creator can provide the comfort, strength of mind, and encouragement required by survivors to travel blindly into the future full of confidence and renewed joy. www.lettylozano.com
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Ponder Truth Ponder Truth The Hidden Life football SW The Hidden Life
by Julie McGrath
Huddle to Remember
heart and mind with withsome shallow andyou temporal things things without parting things no longer need,–you can’tthat justwon’t stuff last?Christ “ Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything the of Christmas into an already overloaded heart and schedule.
bymother’s Julie McGrath I was girl, Itime, loved my garden. All account.” – Hebrews 4:13 everalhen years ago aat little Christmas I received a wonderful lesson What needs to go so you can prepare Him room? she grew all sorts of vegetables carrots, from through my five the yearsummer, old daughter. It came unexpectedly and– left me radishes, cauliflower and green peppers. I remember one year she grappling with my own heart’s priorities through the whole season. heart and mind shallow temporal things –renewing things that won’t What am I with doingexpectations? with myand spare moments? Am Iare myabout mind it3.Martha Stewart Is it lies you believing planted something new – pumpkins! I wasofsothis excited at theand thought of Is As Christmas approaches, I am reminded precious simple last? “ Nothing in all creation is hidden from sight.teaching Everything in God’s truth every day? Am I serving people in God’s need…and our piles of gifts that your children need to have a good Christmas? Is growing own pumpkins to pick and carve for the fall. We planted the is uncovered and laid before the eyes of focused him to whom we mustGod, give lesson andour hope it gives you, too, something to ponder. family to serve? Am bare I using my time well, on honoring bitterness with a family member that you are holding on to? Is it henI Ipatiently was a little I loved myslowly mother’s garden. All it the seeds and waitedgirl, while the vine spread across the account.” – Hebrews 4:13 physically and emotionally – so I am ready staying healthy – spiritually, on what you don’t have, instead of what you do? through thewe summer, she grew and all sorts vegetables – carrots, garden bed. Finally saw blossoms, tinyofgreen pumpkins soon focusing One of my favorite things to have on display in December is a child- to bless others? “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise radishes, cauliflower green peppers. remember yearbugs. she followed. Sadly, most and of them didn’t make it;I the victim ofone garden 3. What I doing Ambecause I renewing wise, am making thewith mostmy of spare everymoments? opportunity, the my daysmind are friendly manger scene. I like to have one that the little ones can touch, so but as planted newperfect. – pumpkins! I was so thegrew thought of Ievil.” But one something pumpkin was It was orange andexcited round at and bigger friend, throw out everything that hinders you from inencourage God’s truthyou, every day? Am I serving people in need…and teaching our – Ephesians 5:15-16 they can get to know the people who were so significant in the Christmas growing our own pumpkins to pick and carve for the fall. We planted cherishing by the day. the most precious Christmas, is Emmanuel family to serve? Am I usingmessage my timeofwell, focusedwhich on honoring God, story. Well, my 2-year-old daughter loved to “rearrange” all of the figures the seeds and I patiently waited while the vine slowly spread across the -staying “God us!”fate youpumpkin can to “prepare Him room” settling your healthy – Do spiritually, physically emotionally –hidden so I amreality ready Justwith as the ofallmy wasand doomed by theby (mostly pile them up), so Isaw asked Gracie shetiny would mind setting garden bed.around Finally we blossoms, green pumpkins soon At last, October 25th, the dayifand came when it was time tothem pick thoughts on theforces tender and of realities the to destructive bless others? “Beunder veryreverent careful, holiness then, how youseason. live—not as unwise of ground, the hidden of our lives will up again. She joyfully got to Iwork. followed. Sadly, most of them didn’tout make the victim garden bugs. the long awaited pumpkin. went theit;garden patchofand – Oh the is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give
But one–pumpkin perfect.looked It waslike orange and round andballoon!! grew bigger horror! my prizewas pumpkin a deflated orange In Idisbelief, glanced at her finished up withitcuriosity. this? beneath All of by the day. I picked it up tosetexamine – and whatWhat did Iwas discover the figures had their backs toward me with their faces turned inward, it? A large gopher hole. At last, around October 25th, the day came when it was time to pick forming a little football huddle of manger people. the While long awaited pumpkin. I wentmy outpumpkin the garden and on – Oh I was faithfully watering andpatch checking all the horror! –clues my prize like deflated In external about its health and well-being, I was orange unaware of a hidden Hmmm…it was not pumpkin the pretty looked display I hada envisioned and Iballoon!! almost said disbelief, picked toschemes examine it –several and what did I discover beneath threat: theIto underground of hungry and unwelcome something her. itI up went over to investigate and looked it? Athe large gopher gophers. The real hole. story the life of that garden turned out to be very over shoulders of theinlittle figures….Of course! different fromcenter the reality of what I observed There in the of it all was baby Jesus,onthethe surface. What was While I was pumpkin on tunnel all the really going on faithfully was my gopher city – anchecking extensive main attraction. Iunderground smiled towatering myself, touched by and externalofclues about its health and well-being, I was unaware of a hidden system a whole family of gophers. Gracie’s innocence and her new set up. threat: the underground schemes of several hungry and unwelcome gophers. The real story world” in the life of thatme garden turned out to be very This hidden “gopher reminds of a profound truth in each As I went from back the to my kitchen sink,Ithoughts different realitythat of Iwhat theinsurface. What was of our lives. The person really observed am is whoon I am the hidden person about my ownthe conflicting priorities this timethe really going on underground gopher city – an reality extensive tunnel of my heart, one only God was sees…and hidden is the true of year of filled my mind. really the system a whole family Is of God gophers. reality.
center of my holidays? Can anyone tell that I prize thehidden gift Christ dullforroar This world” reminds me a profound truth in each “…for Godof“gopher sees not above as manthe sees, manoflooks at the outward of hustle fills my schedule? ofthe our lives. and The bustle person that I really am I am –in1the hidden person appearance, but thethat LORD looks at is thewho heart.” Samuel 16:7 Does reality Godonly coming earth gripthe my hidden reality is the true of mytheheart, theofone Godtosees…and heart withtruth awecalls as it me should? wonder… reality. This to theIhighest of standards: integrity before God.
It calls me to remember that His perspective and estimation of my life God sees not as sees,I spend for man at the outward the“…for truewhat one. Iiswonder God thinks of man the way mylooks time….I appearance, the LORDopen-handed looks at the with heart.” – 1 people, Samuelas 16:7 wonder if I am asbut generously other A few questions to ask He has been with me...I wonder if I carry withourselves: me the precious Christ of This truth megoing standards: integrity before 1. What iscalls really in the of quiet meditations of my heartGod. and Christmas everywhere Itogothe atonhighest Christmas time… It calls me to remember His Am perspective and estimation oflove my and life what is coming out when Ithat speak? I thinking about God, His is the true one. His ways? Am I honoring people, especially those closest to me? ….or is At church? I would say yes. there prideMost or jealousy or bitterness in my heart that no one knows about At home? of the time. A few of questions to and ask ourselves: but me? “May these words my mouth this meditation of my heart In the car in the midst of holiday traffic? Some of the time. 1. What in is your reallysight, goingLORD, on in the quiet and meditations of my heart and be pleasing my Rock my Redeemer.” – Psalm At the mall? Hmmm…not so much. what is coming out when I speak? Am I thinking about God, His love and 19:14 His ways? Am I honoring people, especially those closest to me? ….or is Ithere wonder… or when bitterness in my heartAm thatI no one knows about 2. pride Whatorisjealousy going on no one sees? loving and serving but me? “May words of my and this of time my heart my family wellthese in the privacy ofmouth our home? Ammeditation I spending still Oh, howGod, I want to be different! I'm so formy the music of Christmas be pleasing inpraying your sight, LORD, mythankful Rock Redeemer.” –toPsalm before to Him, reading His and Word and attentive what that fills our home andAm draws me back thoughts of Christ. my 19:14 He is teaching me? I honest withtohim, confessing sin One and of asking favorites is “Joy theheart? World!” call mefilling back my to Him to show metomy …orI love am I how busythe andwords neglectful, the most precious priority of Christmas: “Let every Him 2. What is going on when no one sees? Am I heart lovingprepare and serving my family well in the privacy of our home? Am I spending time still room!” a great word for us! pg 24 |What Sophie Woman’s Magazine | October 2016 before God, praying to Him, reading His Word and attentive to what He remember, is teaching just me?asAm with him, confessing and closet asking But youI honest can’t nicely put new clothes sin in your Him to show me my heart? …or am I busy and neglectful, filling my
pg 24 30 || Sophie Sophie Woman’s Woman’s Magazine Magazine || October December 2016 pg 2016
but as wise,find making most of every opportunity, because the days are eventually theirthe way to the surface. Have you considered lately,
evil.” Ephesians We allis–have influence a life song that is heard today and echoes of what going on in5:15-16 your- hidden person? that song that will be remembered tomorrow. I hope you take the time Justwe asconsider the of my was by thetime. hidden reality As the eyes of God, for integrity and What sincerity to consider the fate message ofpumpkin your lifesearching songdoomed at Christmas do of our destructive forces ground, hidden ofand ourmessage lives in lives, each humblethe ourselves inmelody the deepest placeswill ofpeople hear? may May itunder beofaus beautiful and simplerealities eventually find their way theearnestly surface. Have considered our hearts is and Maytowe toyou please Him in lately, every Christmas allminds. about cherishing the gift ofdesire our Savior, Jesus Christ. what is(Col. going on inMay yourthat hidden person? way. 1:10) beautiful hidden reality be what nourishes and sustains We our can mostlearn precious priorities the motivations of a lot from Maryand as refines she cherished the coming we consider the eyes of God, searching for integrity and asincerity our As hearts. Onlyofthen, will the fruit of our lives (like maybe big fat the Savior. “So they hurried off and found Mary and in our lives,bemay eachand of us humble ourselves in the deepest places of pumpkin!), healthy lasting. Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. our hearts and minds. May we earnestly desire to please Him in every When they had hidden seen him, they spread the word way. (Col. May reality be you what “You did not1:10) choose me,that but beautiful I chose you and appointed sonourishes that you concerning what had been told them about this and sustains ourand most precious priorities andlast…” refines –the motivations of might go bear fruit—fruit that will John 15:16 child, heard(like it were amazed at our hearts. Only then, will theand fruitallof who our lives maybe a big fat what the shepherds said to tolook them. But Mary pumpkin!), be healthy and lasting. Fruit that will last forever…now, that’s a harvest forward to!
treasured up all these things and pondered
in heryou heart. The shepherds “You did not choose me, them but I chose and appointed you soreturned, that you Going deeper… God–for all15:16 the things might go and bear glorifying fruit—fruitand thatpraising will last…” John they had and seen, wereIsjust as they What are you filling your heartheard and mind withwhich each day? it helping Fruit thatwith willGod last and forever…now, that’s a harvest to look had told.” your walk thebeen growth of good and lasting fruitforward in your to! life? Goingyou deeper… Have let something in that eventually destroy the– good This has creep become mywill prayer at Christmas and fruit that is growing in thethe garden yourI life? timepondering to dig up throughout year of – that mightMaybe be likeit’s Mary, What areset you filling your andof mind with each day? Is itpoint helping the dirt and some things inheart order. and treasuring up the wonder the Savior – the whole of your walk with God that and if theI’m growth of goodwith and lasting your Christmas! I know not careful, all thatfruit callsinout forlife? my ThanksIagain theit opportunity! affections, mightfor miss altogether. I would love to be a part of the Have let something creep that will eventually destroy the good efforts of you Sophie! With JOY, JulieinMcGrath :) fruit that is growing in the garden of your life? Maybe it’s time to dig up Like my little girl, let’s gather around Jesus, making sure we are giving the dirt and set some things in order.
Him center stage. Looking back, I am so thankful for her childlike simplicity and for I Julie wouldn’t change her football huddle is the wife oflove John the Thanks–again the McGrath opportunity! I would to and be amanger partproud of for the anything! momJOY, of six. She loves to sing, write and encourage efforts of Sophie! With Julie McGrath :) others to simply love Christ more! Her favorite verse is Psalm 119:32 “I run in the paths of your commands for you have set my heart free!” She Julie is theofwife of JohnOur and Mothering the proud is theMcGrath co-founder Making mom of six. aShe loves to to moms sing, write encourage Significant, ministry of alland ages. others to simply love Christ more! Her favorite verse is Psalm 119:32 “I run in the paths of your commands for you have set my heart free!” She is the co-founder of Making Our Mothering Significant, a ministry to moms of all ages.
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