Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My wish for you

When I got to church Sunday morning, these three words were etched in the Snow along the sidewalk leading up to the church doors. 

Funny. We usually go to church on Saturday night. If we would have last weekend, I would have missed this in the dark. Or maybe the words hadn't been written in the snow yet.

In any case, I discovered these words when I did because that was part of God's wish for me.

My wish for you in the coming year is that you are granted peace, your heart is filled with hope and you are surrounded by love.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Post-Christmas Post

We all know what Mary and Joseph found in the manger on the first Christmas.
But what did I find this Christmas? 
In my woods, I found the perfect little Christmas tree. 
But I thought he looked perfect in the woods and wouldn't look so perfect in my living room. 
 In my living room, my husband had already put up and decorated the perfect Christmas tree. 
It maybe wouldn't be everyone's perfect tree, but it is perfect because it is in my very imperfect house. 
 Santa paid me a visit and brought me a treat. The only thing cuter than his treat is he himself. 
 I found a ridiculous amount of presents with my name on them. 
I may be spoiled, but I am blessed too. 
 Dino is spoiled too. But all he really wanted for Christmas was to be with his family, but he found this old bone in his toy box and that made him even happier.  
 And at the end of the day, when the sun had set, I found that the lights had come on like always.  
 I also found that I have a family who loves me as much as I love them. 
I pray you all were also blessed this Christmas and that you found what you were hoping for.
I pray you found Jesus in your heart. 
May God bless you in the coming year. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Four Days Til Christmas

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.”
They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. Luke 2:15-18

The shepherds were used to staying up all night watching their sheep. But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t get tired and bored. The message from the angels had to have startled them wide awake. They were maybe even pleased to have a little excitement, a change of pace. Perhaps they looked at each other, shrugged and said, “We better check this out.” So they left their sheep to fend for themselves and headed into town.
When the shepherds saw the baby, they knew the angel was right; this wasn’t just any baby. This little boy was special and would grow up to save us all.

How did the sheepherders know, just by looking at this newborn, that He had come to save them? Had the angels’ message been that convincing? Perhaps. But more likely, the Holy Spirit came into their hearts and minds and showed them the truth.
Have you ever had a moment where things suddenly came clear to you? Maybe you were unsure of something, and without explanation, you suddenly understood? Perhaps God’s Holy Spirit revealed the truth to you. 

(From "The Christmas Story in 40 Days", published by Life Sentence Publishing, 2013)
From the Children's Christmas program at my church last night. 

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 fiancée, 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)