Nearly 150 women gathered with anticipation to hear local expert Denise Lopez share about opening your heart and home to others during the Christmas season. She gave great ideas for overcoming the usual excuses for not hosting: I’m not the type, I don’t have time, I don’t cook, my house doesn’t measure up. Wrapped into her message on hospitality, she offered creative tips for decorating (placing fresh greenery, adding cranberries and cut limes to your water dispenser or pitcher, layering items for added interest and depth) and cooking (making take-out look homemade, easy Mexican that everyone loves, great cookbooks). She made us all want to rush out and buy a cake stand to make that Walmart Bundt cake look amazingly homemade—especially when freshly drizzled with icing we can make with powdered sugar and milk (or water). To top off her segment, Denise selected several giveaways that each woman received in a hand-painted Christmas bag … a Magnolia-style apron, an instructional book to learn fancy lettering, prayer cards for each room in your home, Advent scripture cards, and a leather Dignity bracelet that helps support women in Southeast Asia.
After enjoying Virginia’s magical homemade bread pudding and peppermint brownies, we heard the inspirational message Keeping Christ in the Center of Christmas with Becky Williamson (read a portion of her message in this month’s Devotional Thoughts). It was a wonderful reminder that focusing on Jesus, being selective about activities, and adding an Advent emphasis can being the hope, faith, joy, and peace that we truly desire in our lives.