Sunday, December 14, 2014

Eleven Days Til Christmas

So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendent of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was pregnant. Luke 2:4-5

The people in Bible times placed much importance on their family line, and they were expected to return to their ancestors' hometowns for the census. Various characters throughout the Bible have whole lists written of their descendants. It would only make sense to them that if they were all going to be counted, they would go to the hometowns of their ancestors.
Looking on a map, Nazareth appears to be fairly close to Bethlehem, approximately ninety miles away. It would’ve taken them at least several days to walk that distance, especially with Mary being pregnant. We picture Mary riding a donkey with Joseph walking beside her. There’s no mention in the Bible, however, that she rode a donkey. Since they were relatively poor, it is possible that she walked right along with Joseph.

When we take a trip somewhere, we make plans. We study a map and pack our bags. Things were different in Jesus’ time. There was no GPS, no triple A, and no spacious SUV. The donkey might have been their only luxury. Maybe. If they had a donkey. Imagine taking a week-long trip without any of the comforts we are used to. Now, imagine being pregnant besides.

(From "The Christmas Story in 40 Days", published by Life Sentence Publishing, 2013)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Christmas Photo Challenge

This month's challenge from the personal photo challenge blog is Christmas Scenes. Maybe not the most original theme for December, but certainly a fun one.

It was hard to pick just a few photos from my archives, but I finally whittled it down to these three.
This beautiful figurine was up at our church a few years ago. I remember asking someone where it came from, but I can't remember what the answer was. For me, it captures so much of the first of Christmas.
I took this at church the same year.
I know. I kind of changed gears in a hurry, didn't I? For many years the hubby has dressed up as Santa. He had some Santa-gigs for a few years, and when that dried up - well - I couldn't get him to stop growing that beard and donning the red suit. In this picture, I had to touch up his beard with white hair paint, but each year his beard has come in with more white. This year, I don't think it will need any help. I will share pictures after his big day. 
Isn't the expression on his face priceless? Or something? 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Decorating for Christmas Past

Over the weekend, I dragged the totes full of Christmas decorations upstairs. And that's all the further I got. I thought that maybe if I looked back over some of the pictures from past Christmases, I would get inspired to start decorating. Hasn't worked yet. I'm thinking more like I should just blow these pictures up and set them around the house! Think anyone would notice that the stuff isn't real? 
Peanuts all over the piano.
 Those animated snowmen from the Hallmark store. It is double-duty when I put them out, as I have to find batteries for them as well. 
 One shelf for penguins and one for snowglobes. 
And two whole shelves for the Snowmen. 

And this isn't even all of it. There is the wall full of stockings and the mantel for the real stockings. The random stuff I hang on the dining room wall. Don't even get me started on the tree - I hate the tree. And I totally forgot the table full of Nativities! 
I guess it will still be "bah-humbug" for a few more days. 
I will get it together by the 23rd. Promise. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

18 Days Til Christmas

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Luke 1:26-27

What do we know about Joseph and Mary? Tradition tells us that Mary was young, a teen-ager, possibly as young as fourteen. Joseph was older, maybe thirty years old or more. That was a common age spread for the time. We have a hard time putting that into our modern view of marriage. In addition, this was most likely an arranged marriage. Mary and Joseph probably knew each other through family ties, but they had never dated, as couples would today. They almost certainly hadn’t spent any time alone together.
But at that time, being engaged was the same as being married. It was a lifelong commitment which could only be legally broken by a divorce or death. The one difference between engagement and marriage at that time was that the couple was not yet living together.

How different marriage during biblical times seems to us. However, there are places in the world today where such traditions are still practiced.

If you are married, how long did you know your spouse before you were engaged? If you are single, how long do you think you should know someone before talking about marriage? And would any one of us not want to know our spouse until our wedding day? What does this tell us about God's definition of love compared with how the world views love?

(From "The Christmas Story in 40 Days", 
published by Life Sentence Publishing, 2013)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

I know that it has been a long time since I walked the streets of my town and shared about it here. I admitted a while back that I am just not as fond of winter as I used to be. And if I am outside, I will be wearing mittens, which are not conducive to photography. Yet here I am. One last time this year. (No guarantees what the new year will bring.)

A week ago Saturday night was the yearly Christmas parade downtown Tomahawk. The parade covers an entire two blocks. I know, how crazy-huge is that! And there were probably more people in the parade than were watching it. Sometimes I wish I were living in the 60s again where these home-town things were cool (and not just in the physical sense).

Anyway, so here is the line-up getting ready.

The horse-drawn sleigh bringing Santa to town.

Lastly, there is a Christmas tree Winter Wonderland in the empty lot behind the Rodeo Saloon. Any group or organization can sign up for a tree and decorate it, then the trees are donated to needy families or other charitable causes.

The hubby had made an appointment for my car at eight this Friday morning. The forecast was to be somewhat reasonable, so I thought I would use that time to take in the wintery sights of downtown. Here is that tree lot with most of the trees gone.

For the outdoor winter enthusiast, I would say that miniature golf is out.

I don’t think there will be any horse-shoe throwing at the American Legion either.

Luckily, though, the city crew is always out getting the snow off of our streets.

The dreary-looking morning didn’t clear up before my car was finished and I was able to head home.

If you don’t hear from me before the 25th, have a Merry Christmas. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Psalm 136

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
4 to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.
(New International Version)

For the month of November, I have been blogging about 30 things I am thankful for. Last time you joined me here, I was up to number 25. Each verse of beautiful Psalm 136 gives us ideas of more things we should be thankful for. Here are the five remaining things I’d like to give thanks for, all of which I have pulled from this chapter of the Bible.

Number 26 I am thankful there is One True God and that His goodness and mercy endures forever.

Number 27 I am thankful that my One True God has made the heavens and the earth. He made these for all mankind, for our survival and our enjoyment.

Number 28 I am thankful that my One True God has made the sun to shine down on this earth during the day, to keep us warm and to grow our plants. And I am thankful that He placed a moon and the stars in the nighttime sky, to guide us when we are lost and alone in the still darkness of the night.  

Number 29 I am thankful that my One True God has made food and drink to sustain us. I am thankful that He has granted me such a wealth of items to pick from, from healthy to decadent.

Number 30 I am thankful that my One True God sent His only begotten Son to die for my sins so that I will not suffer eternal death, but instead will one day join Him in my eternal home in paradise.

And so we head into the Christmas season. 25 days from now we celebrate the night the world welcomed this Savior. Give thanks for that event today and every day.   

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Six More Things to Give Thanks For

It is the last week of November and I last posted the number 18 and 19 things which I am thankful for. That leaves me 11 things and since I have only been writing about this topic on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I better get going.

Number 20 – I am thankful that my parents took us on vacation every summer and that I got to see so much of our country.
Number 21 – I am thankful that back in 2005, God put it in my heart and in my head that I should travel to other countries. I am thankful that I had the chance to volunteer in Kenya twice and in Peru once.
Number 22 – I am thankful that the hubby gives in to my wanderlust, and that he even at times is willing to join me on my travels. I always have such a good time when he comes along.  
 Number 23 – I am thankful that God gave me such an active imagination. Sometimes, it gets me in trouble such as when I can’t stay focused or when I find humor in something very serious, but overall, the crazy things which pop into my head are the things which keep me going.
Number 24 – I’m thankful for my health. Hah! Have you seen me in the last three days? My back went out on Saturday morning and I have not been able to straighten up and at random times my back goes into spasms which drop me to my knees if I am not hanging onto something (so I try to always hang onto something coz I do not want to end up on the floor. “I’ve fallen down and I can’t get up.” I do not have Lifeline.). But at the beginning of the month, I wrote up a rough draft of things I am thankful for so I wouldn’t forget anything. I am still thankful that overall I am very healthy. When my back isn’t out, I can still walk, run, exercise, do crazy stuff my fifty-something year-old body maybe shouldn’t do. I don’t have high blood pressure, my cholesterol and blood sugar are excellent (hard to believe when you see what I eat). So I really can’t complain, but this did cause me to think of one more thing that I am thankful for.
 Number 25 – I am thankful for technology. Some of the technology out there is scary (please don’t ever let them put a micro-chip in you), and some of it is dumb (exactly why do kids text their friends who are in the same room with them). But a lot of technology is really improving our lives, even saving lives. Example: Over the last few days I have been so thankful for my Kindle. When I am lying flat on my back in bed on the heating pad, it is so much easier to hold a Kindle and keep my place when I drop it when I am trying to shift my position than to hold a book, which is heavier, really hard to hold open with one hand, harder to turn the pages with one hand and if I drop it, I don’t know what page I am on. I also gotta love my laptop today coz it is not painful at all to sit in my office chair with my fingers on the keyboard.  
(As a side note, I am thankful that I had all of these pictures already in the computer and that they all belong to me so I never have to worry about copyright infringement. Number 23 is very helpful. And by the way, that is a picture of cookie dough.)