Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The CHRISTmas story

Today will be the last post until the new year!  2012 - WOW!  My husband is counting down the minutes until he can leave to come home today for some much much needed time off.  With the exception of a brief meeting next Wednesday, we hope to have him home until the new year begins.  Us girls are so very excited.  Just another reason I love Christmas so much.  Please have a wonderful time of family and presents and eating and laughter and eating again and more presents!  But, most importantly, make room for time with the ONE we are celebrating!  Seek Him today as the shepherds did.  Seek Him and glorify Him and praise Him during this time that we celebrate His birth!

My oldest daughter needed a boost to put the angel on our little felt advent calendar today.  She said, "Mommy look look, only three more to go!  We only need to put up Mary, Joseph, and then we put up Baby Jesus, and it will be Christmas."

Wow!  Three more days!  Christmas comes faster every year.  My big girl did a wonderful job in her school performance last night.  She sang and rang bells and smiled so big; she was beaming.  There were songs of Santa and Christmas fun, but there were more importantly, songs of Jesus and His birth and the true CHRISTmas Story!  It always bothers my husband and I when someone refers to "The Night Before Christmas" as the Christmas story.  The true CHRISTmas story refers to the birth of our Savior.  My husband started the wonderful tradition of reading from Luke 2 on Christmas morning before the presents are ripped open.  We all snuggle in the bed and read from the Bible, and we remember why we get to have all the fun stuff that comes with the enjoyment of Christmas day.  I know as the girls grow older, this tradition might come with some moans and groans, but it is important we all keep our focus on Him the whole day.  I pray they will grow to be thankful for the reading of the birth of Jesus.  I pray they will keep Him first in their lives.  I pray they will love Him and serve Him always.  I pray they will cherish the CHRISTmas story, and all it means to us.

So, although there are a ton of cute Christmas poems and stories and songs that could be shared, this last day I would like to simply share the true CHRISTmas story.  Please have a Merry Merry Christmas!

Today's Verse
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:  and the government shall be upon his shoulder:  and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

Luke 2

   1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
   2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
   3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
   4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
   5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
   6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
   7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
   8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
   9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
   10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
   11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
   12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
   13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
   14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
   15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
   16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
   17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
   18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
   19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
   20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

His way is the best way!

The story I would like to share today is not so much a "Christmas" story, but it does have meaning to the story of the birth of our Savior.  I have read different versions of this story, and I tear up every time.  This is a more condensed version that I chose for time sake (I know you are all busy wrapping and baking).  I have a great friend that gave my oldest daughter a book about this story, and it is one of her favorites to read.   This story is filled with hope and a promise that the Lord can use us all.  No matter where you are in life right now, what dreams you  might have, what your heart desires, or where you might be headed, just remember God has a plan for you.  His way is the best way!

Three Trees 
Author Unknown

   Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carvings and everyone would see the beauty."
   Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull." Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me."
   After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter," and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.
   At the second tree the woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
   When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don't need anything special from my tree, I'll take this one," and he cut it down.
   When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark.
   The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams. Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time. 
   Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said "Peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.
   Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.
   The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined. We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

Today's Verse
"And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known:  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.  These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."  Isaiah 42:16

Monday, December 19, 2011


I have to say I can't believe we are in the final week before Christmas.  Oh how excited my two little ones are! And as their excitement builds, so does mine.  It really is a special time.

We watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special this weekend.  It always makes me so very happy to hear them read the true Christmas story every year on TV.  I love how excited my oldest daughter got this year as we watched the short little program.  I know it will be a favorite tradition for her always.

One of my favorite traditions growing up was listening to my Reba McEntire Christmas cassette tape.  I can tell you every word on that tape.  Unfortunately it broke a few years ago, but I was overjoyed when I found the CD in a $5 bin.  I now love playing those songs as I ride around in the van, and sharing my Christmas memories from my childhood with my girls.  I cannot really pick a favorite off the CD.  I love "Happy Birthday Jesus" and her beautiful voice singing "Silent Night".  But, if I was forced to pick a favorite, it would probably be her reading the poem "The Christmas Guest".  I can say it along with her word for word.  And it brings tears to my eyes as I have grown up really understanding the meaning of those words.  So, I am sure you have all read it or heard it, but our Christmas story for today is the beautiful poem by Helen Steiner Rice.

The Christmas Guest 
by Helen Steiner Rice

It happened one day at year’s white end
Two neighbors called on an long-time friend
And they found his shop so meager and clean
Made bright with a thousand boughs of green.
And Conrad was sitting with face ashine
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched a twine
And he said "Old friends at dawn today
When the cock was crowing the night away
The Lord appeared in a dream to me
And said "I am coming your guest to be"

So I've been busy with feet astir
Strewing my shop with branches of fir.
The table is spread and the kettle is shined
And over the rafters the holly is twined
And now I'll wait for my Lord to appear
And listen closely so I will hear His step
As He nears my humble place
And I open the door and look on His face”.

So his friends went home and left Conrad alone
For this was the happiest day he had known.
For long since his family had passed away
And Conrad had spent a sad Christmas day
But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest
This Christmas would be the dearest and best.
So he listened with only joy in his heart
And with each sound he would rise with a start
To see the Lord standing there
In answer to his earnest prayer.

So he ran to the window after hearing a sound
But all he saw on the snow-covered ground
Was a shabby beggar who's shoes were torn
And all of his clothes were ragged and worn.
But Conrad was touched and opened his door
And he said "Your feet must be frozen and sore
And I have some shoes in my shop for you
And a coat that will keep you warmer too."
So with grateful heart, the man went away
But as Conrad noticed the time of day
He wondered what made the dear Lord so late
And how much longer he'd have to wait.

And then, he heard a knock he ran to the door
But it was only a stranger once more
A bent old woman with a shawl of black
With a bundle of kindling piled on her back.
She asked for only a place to rest
But that was reserved for Conrad's great guest
But her voice seemed to plead "Don't send me away
Let me rest on Christmas day."
So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And asked her to sit at the table and sup
But after she left he was filled with dismay
For the hours of Christmas were slipping away.
And the Lord hadn't come as He said He would
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood

And then, in the silence he heard a cry
"Please help me, and tell me where am I!"
So again he opened his friendly door
But stood disappointed as twice before
For it was only a child who had wandered away
And was lost from her family on Christmas day.
Again Conrad's heart was heavy and sad
But he knew he should make the little girl glad
So he called her in and wiped her tears
And quieted her childish fears.
Then he led her back to her home once more
But as he entered his own darkened door
He knew that the Lord was not coming today
For the hours of Christmas had passed away.

So he went to his room and knelt down to pray
And he said "Dear Lord, why did You delay?
What kept You from coming to call on me?
For I wanted so much Your Face to see."

Then soft in the silence, a voice he heard
"Lift up your head, for I kept my word
Three times my shadow crossed your floor
Three times I came to your lowly door.
For I was the beggar with bruised, cold feet
And I was the woman you gave something to eat
And I was the child on the homeless street.
Three times I knocked; three times I came in
Three times I found the warmth of a friend
Of all the gifts love is the best
I was honored to be your Christmas guest."

Today's Verse
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  Matt 25:40

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Who doesn't love singing the Twelve Days of Christmas carol?  Getting to scream "FIVE GOLDEN RINGS" is every child's delight.  My oldest daughter is just learning this carol.  Her Nanny had the ornaments that went along with the song, and she wanted to learn it.  I told her about singing that song when I was a little girl.  My mom had a special Christmas place mat for me that had all the pictures that went along with the song.  One of my best friends and I would take that place mat and record ourselves singing the famous carol.  Now, as I have said before, I do not make any type of joyful noise when singing, but it was lots of fun.  I would give anything to find that old tape.  I am sure we thought we sounded like true pop stars back then.  We would laugh and laugh and start-over about a thousand times.  It is a fun memory, and I think of us singing together every time I hear that song.

There are other versions of that song now.  The one that is called the Twelve Pains of Christmas does make me laugh.  The people singing just sound so funny.  I do not agree with all the "pains", but I can relate to some. The link for the lyrics is  My girls love Max Lucado's character Hermie.  He has a wonderful Christmas video that truly teaches little ones the reason for Christmas.  There is also a  book that has Hermie's own version of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  It goes through all the bugs that live in the garden.  The girls enjoy checking it out of the library around this time of the year.

My wonderful aunt :) sent me the meaning behind the Twelve Days of Christmas song.  So, I wanted to share as our Christmas story for today...

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.-
-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching,Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness,Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Today's Verse
"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."  
John 15:11

I am joyful today because I do not have to hide that I am a Christian.  We do not have to have code words for our faith.  My family does not have to worship in secret.  We have the freedom to love God and celebrate His Son's birth.  Let's make sure our joy is full today!  We have so many reasons to be joyful!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jesus Was and Is Love

As I sat proudly watching my niece and nephew perform in their church Christmas play this past Friday night, my heart was full of emotions.  As I already said, I was super proud and so happy as they sang their little hearts out.  I was laughing at the cute script and all the little actors that did a fantastic job.  I was overjoyed at the meaning of the play and how it really showed the importance of the birth of Jesus.  The play was so perfect for the season as the kids had a Christmas spelling bee spelling the many names of Jesus.  What an awesome idea!  But I was also secretly a little sad.  I was secretly wishing my family were involved in a church Christmas play this year.  I was longing to be preparing the final touches to props and having the big dress rehearsal.  I was wanting my oldest daughter to have something to be excited about.  She loves singing and performing, and she has been missing our "usual" church events.

The first year I committed to directing the Christmas play at church, I was very pregnant with our littlest one.  It was overwhelming, but the joy of watching those kids perform is in my top ten best feelings ever.  My daughter wanted a "script" so bad.  She was only two and a half, but she HAD to have something to say.  She was part of the caroling group, and I finally gave in and had her and the other little ones scream "Merry Christmas" after their first set of songs.  She was very satisfied with that.  On the day of the performance, when it was her turn to get on stage, she would only face the side of the audience that our family was sitting in.  She refused to face the center of the stage like she had practiced.  She was so adorable as she proudly sang directly towards her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  She was so happy.  I miss that joy this season...but we are confident we will have it again.  And hey, maybe the Lord will have us settled somewhere permanently just in time for an Easter celebration!

With all that said, here is an adorable story about a Christmas program I had to share!

Christmas Love 
by Candy Chand

Each December,  I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful

experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card 
writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.

Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the 

precious  family moments, and of course, the true meaning of

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year.  It was an 

exciting  season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant."

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of

the production.  Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with
his teacher.   She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the
morning of the presentation.  All parents unable to attend that evening
were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed 
happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes 

early,  found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around
the room, I saw several  other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class,

accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by
one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to

The holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun,
commercial entertainment - songs of reindeer, Santa Claus,
snowflakes and  good cheer. So, when my son's class rose to sing,
"Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in

fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.

Those in the front row- center stage - held up large letters,

one by  one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing 
"C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the  letter C. 

Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until
each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, 

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed
her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M"
upside down -  totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little

one's  mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her,
so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter
continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it 
together. A  hush came over the audience and eyes began to 

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we

celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the
chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud 
and  clear: 

"C H R I S T W A S   L O V E"

And,  I believe, He still is.

Today's Verses
1 John 4:10 "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
1 John 4:19 "We love him, because he first loved us."

These verses are found in the section which my Bible entitles "God is Love" 1 John 4:7-21.  These are wonderful verses about the love of our Heavenly Father.  When Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world, HE WAS LOVE!  And He is still Love today.  As the song my daughters love to sing says, "Praise Him, praise Him, all you little children, God is love, God is love!"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jesus is my Shepherd

Busy Busy Busy Bees...I know that is what we all are.  The count down is on and it is less than two weeks until the big day.  I know many will not have time to read the blogs.  And I know my time is short on typing.  So I will be sharing popular Christmas stories on the days when I can post.  They will be sure to warm our hearts and help us remember what this season is all about.

My daughter warmed my heart today as we prepared the final touches for the gifts we purchased for another family.  She wanted to give away one of her Christmas story books about our Savior's birth.  It is just a simple paperback book filled with the true reason for us to celebrate.  She was really concerned that the little girl that will receive our gifts and her family might not know about the reason for Christmas.  "Mommy I want her to have this book in case her family does not know about Jesus.  They need to know about Him." were her sweet words to me.  So we slipped the book in a bag along with the candy canes story and a couple of those delicious peppermint treats.  I pray my daughter always has a heart for sharing about Christ's love, and I pray for this family we will probably never meet.  I pray they will learn about His love and His sacrifice if they don't already know Him.

Today's Verse
"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want"  Psalms 23:1

The LEGEND of the Candy Cane 
A Candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would help us remember who Christmas is really about. So he made a Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.
He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. White to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus. Hard candy to symbolize the solid rock, the foundation of the Church, and firmness of the promises of God.
The candymaker made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the name of Jesus. It also represented the staff of the "Good Shepherd".
The candymaker then included red stripes. He used three small stripes and a large red stripe to represent the suffering Christ endured at the end of his life.

The true meaning of the Candy Cane

Look at the Candy Cane
What do you see?
Stripes that are red
Like the blood shed for me

White is for my Savior
Who's sinless and pure!
"J" is for Jesus My Lord, that's for sure!

Turn it around
And a staff you will see
Jesus my shepherd
Was born for Me!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When it rains...

Who can finish that popular phrase?  When it pours!  Is this true in your life right now?  We all have those days, weeks, months or maybe even a whole year when we feel like everything is just falling apart.  Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.  Everything that can break, is falling apart.  If we hear one more bit of bad news, we just don't know if we can take it!

My husband has heard this phrase several times this week by several different people.  You see, he is in the middle of a big ordeal at his job this week.  I will not go into the details seeing as how it goes way over my head  and would be too tedious to explain.  But to put it simply, it is a big deal.  And everyone is using this phrase in trying to find all the solutions.  When something is figured out, something else happens, and it is, to use another popular phrase, a never ending cycle right now.  The bad news is pouring!

I feel like it is pouring at our own house right now also.  My youngest daughter was extremely sick a few weeks ago.  She and I had to miss the Rockettes performance that we had tickets to.  Well, yesterday my oldest daughter got up with a 101.7 fever and after nap it was up to 103...scary for this mom.  And as you might have read, we had plans to bake cookies and attend the Disney on Ice performance yesterday.  We all missed the show and our daughters' hearts were crushed again.  I couldn't help but have a quick, "Why is this happening again Lord?" thought pop in my head for a minute.  I didn't want to miss the show, but more than anything, I did not want my girls to miss the show.  My oldest daughter had been counting down the days to attend.  She was heart-broken and devastated...which made me heart-broken as well!  Among all the other negative things, these two big disappointments have really added to the feeling we are in a downpour on right now.

How are we suppose to stay positive when surrounded by so much negative?

The girls and I were reading a beautiful version of the birth of Jesus today.  It was found in one of their children's devotion books.  As I was reading, I had a thought.  Do you think Mary felt like it was pouring in her life?  Here she was, young, newly married, pregnant, not sure what was going on with her body, knowing this was the Messiah she was about to give birth to, the taxes were due, traveling was involved, this Baby was to be born at any minute, AND to top it all off, there was no room for them anywhere.  Mary was giving birth to the Savior of the world, and there was no place for them.  They had to settle for the stable.  They had to deal with not having a comfortable place to have this Baby.  They had to deal with smelly animals.  They had to deal with the itchy hay.  They had to deal with the cold night.  They had to deal with the negatives and focus on the most Positive thing that has ever happened!  God had provided the perfect place for His perfect Son to be born.

Today's Verse
"For with God nothing shall be impossible."  Luke 1:37

We read the above verse in the midst of Mary finding out she is pregnant with Jesus in Luke 1:26-38.  Verses 30-32 say "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary:  for thou hast found favor with God.  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: ..."  How overwhelming?  How awesome?  And nine months later...and there is no place for Him to be born.

If it is pouring where you are, stay focused on Him.  Stay focused on the positive.  Stay focused on the fact He has a plan for every little thing that is going on right now, even the negative things, He has a plan and a reason for it.  And stay focus on the promise that "with God nothing shall be impossible."  He can and will get you in out of the rain.  It might be some place smelly, but you will be out of the rain, and it will be the perfect place.  We can focus on His love and His security, even when it is pouring.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I wanted to briefly share a refreshing occurrence, or several actually, that happened this past weekend.  The first weekend in December is full of parades and shopping on our calendar, and this year was no different.  The weather was perfect for standing on the streets listening to marching bands, watching floats, waving and saying "Merry Christmas" as we picked up the candy being thrown our way.  And we were of course watching to see who might appear at the end of all the marching, good old St. Nick himself.  Parades are so much fun, and my girls had a blast at both the parades we attended on Saturday.

After the fun, my husband and I then had our annual "date" that includes dinner for his birthday and lots of Christmas shopping.  I could not help but be completely delighted in the service we received this year.  Mostly, we were greeted with many smiling waiters and sales clerks, most of whom were teenagers, and they were all very enthusiastic and helpful.  They all seemed to be in good cheer and the best part of all, they all wished us a "Merry Christmas".  In a society were we see Holiday trees and Winter break and Snow Days parties, these teens all did a wonder to my heart.  Yes, there are those who, despite what society tells them they should do, still says "Merry Christmas".   They were very refreshing.

I know it is hard to keep a smile on our face as we look for a parking space, the perfect gift, and the best check out line to get in, but let's vow to try our best to be refreshing to others this Christmas season.  I know together we can put the "Merry" in Christmas for those we come in contact with over the coming weeks.  Think of ALL the many blessings we have to be "Merry" about!

Today's verse
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."  Luke 2:11

PS - I know I told you my husband's birthday meal was a beef roast.  Check out the Leftover Queen page to see what I did with the leftovers!  Mexican fiesta without the dining out bill, anyone?

Disciplining - No Guilt Allowed

Oh how the days and weeks to come are being filled on the calendar with exciting events, parties, shopping and baking.  There will be fewer posts as the to do lists grow longer and the big day creeps closer.  We will be busy baking in the morning at Nanny's, and then we will be heading to see Disney on Ice tomorrow afternoon.  This is a tradition with my Dad's side of the family, and is always looked forward to with great anticipation.  This will be our fourth straight year, and we know it will be spectacular as always.

My littlest one is still trying to grasp exactly what all is taking place.  She and I tried to wrap presents today while Sissy was at school.  Unfortunately that did not go over too well.  I am not exactly sure how that task is going to be completed, nor how those presents will make it without her ripping them open before the recipient gets the chance.  She had done well not touching the tree until today.  She managed to tear off about twelve ornaments in a two second time period.  Thankfully none were broke, but the little scolding she got with the wag of my finger sure made her little feelings break.

Funny how in my Bible reading today the importance of disciplining children was the topic that stuck out the most to me.  I know I felt guilt after disciplining her this morning.  But, if I do not correct her, who will.  It is my job.  Yes I feel a little guilty when my girls want something, but I will not give it to them.  Or when they lie, and I put them in time out.  Or when they throw a tantrum, and I sharply say, "NO FITS!".  Or when they pout, and I send them to their rooms to cry.  Or when they talk back, and they get something taken away.  And the list of crimes and punishments could go on and on.  My guilt could cause me to stop disciplining but, we know the saying, "Spare the rod spoil the child".  We know there is evidence of this in the Bible.

The actual verse this saying comes from is Psalms 13:24, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (promptly)."  We discipline because we love them.  We discipline because they need to learn right from wrong.  We discipline them because we want them to be the best they can be.  We discipline them because God tells us to.

The Bible story I read today is found in 1 Sam chapters 2-4.  This is where God is calling Samuel to be His prophet and servant.  There are other things going on as well.  You see, Eli the priest had two sons that were  doing very rotten things.  They were actually called "sons of Belial" or worthless men or scoundrels.  If you recall our last topic/post where things were "heard" in the Bible times, this is another example of that.  The difference is, the things that were "heard" in this Bible story were not good things at all.  We read in 2:22-24, "Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Isreal;...And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.  Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear..."

This is not the kind of things anybody should be doing, but what made it even worst were these were the priest's children.  Eli had "heard" of their evil acts.  Nobody wants to "hear" their children are disobeying.  And then to make matters even worst, besides that little questioning series, Eli did nothing about it.  He did not discipline them.  He did not rebuke them.  He did not punish them.  And as verse 25 says, "they hearkened not unto the voice of their father...".  My Women's Study Bible says, "The case of Eli's sons demonstrates the need for firm parental instruction and supervision...".

Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, all died in the end of chapter 4.  They died because God told them He would have to judge them "for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not."  1 Sam 3:13.  Eli knew of their wrong doings, but he did not discipline.

It is up to us to correct our children.  It is up to us to show them God's way is the only way.  We must pray for wisdom on how and when to properly discipline our children.  But, the key is we must do it and we must do it promptly.

Today's verse
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  Prov 22:6

You probably guessed that was going to be our verse.  And yes, I know there are cases of children rebelling even in very loving Christian homes.  There are prodigal sons and daughters out there now, and their loving parents are praying for their safe return.  But when they have The Truth in their hearts, and they have been trained and disciplined the way God has called us to, I fully believe God can restore them.  Our children are His first.  Our jobs as parents is to teach them the right path. We are to show them God's love with correction and loving discipline to help them not depart from the right path.  No guilt allowed, we are doing what God has called us to do when we teach right from wrong.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Word of Mouth

My dad loves to think he is a cowboy.  He loves to watch the old western movies, wear his boots, and even occasionally his cowboy hat (much to the dismay of my mother).  I am not a fan of the old westerns, but I liked watching a couple of the more modern shows when I was a teenager.  Our family used to watch "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" and "The Young Riders".  I loved both shows and looked forward to watching them every week.  "The Young Riders" was about a group that rode for the Pony Express.  They carried letters and current news and events all over the west.  It is hard to imagine that was how news traveled, but it was the case back then.  There were no telephones, TVs or radios were not invented, and certainly nobody even thought of computers with internet.  You had to wait to learn what the happenings were.  You would find out, it might be a month later, but you would hear about.

This was true in Bible times as well.  When I was thinking about how fast we know about things in our current society, a few Bible stories popped in my mind.  People heard things even in the Bible times by word of mouth.  News travels fast, as the saying goes, and even though it was not instant like today, news still traveled to other parts of the land.  One might call it gossip, but for this instance we will just call it relaying the facts.

The first story that came to mind was when the famine had struck the land.  Thanks to God's ultimate plan for Joseph, Egypt had prepared and was able to help even the surrounding areas with providing food.  In Genesis 42:2 we read, "And he (Jacob - Joseph's father) said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt:  get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live and not die."  God had a plan to bring this family back together.  It involved heartache, famine, and forgiveness, but the plan was carried out to God's will.   And by word of mouth, the reuniting of a broken family took place.

The next example is found in Joshua and is a favorite of mine.  It is the story of Rahab.  She hid the spies in Jericho and was able to protect her family from destruction in the process.  We read in 2:9-11, "And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.  For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and earth beneath."   She "had heard"; they knew just by word of mouth that their Lord was "God in heaven and earth".  Talk about having faith by hearing.  Rahab's family was spared because they heard the miracles and believed in the One True God.

Today's Verse
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."  Rom 10:17

That is a good and popular verse.  We have to hear about God in order to have faith in God.  What is the best way for us as Christians to hear about God? ... to read our Bible.  We have to seek time with Him in order to increase our faith.  How can we get others to have faith in God? ... by word of mouth.  We can't hope they are going to decide one day to go on the internet and search for "How do I ask Jesus to come into my life?"  We have to be out there spreading it by word of mouth.  We have to be talking about Jesus' love.  We have to be showing His light through our words and actions.  I am saying that stuff to myself right now too.  It is so hard for me to start that conversation with people.

It has been hard not having a church to invite people to.  We are still not sure where the Lord is leading us, and so how do you invite someone to church when you are a visitor yourself?  We usually have Christmas plays or special services that were easy to invite neighbors to.  I always loved going into Food Lion this time of year and saying, "Our church is right next door, I hope you will come see the play."  Now, I have to find a new way to tell others by word of mouth.  I need to seek wisdom from God, and He will show me other ways to tell of His magnificent blessings.  By word of mouth, we need to be showing and shouting His love for the world.  Rahab believed by word of mouth...others will too...we just have to open our mouths to get the conversation started.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy B-day!

Excuse me while I gush a bit.  I have to say a BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the love of my life, my true Boaz, the man only God could have placed in my path...thank you honey and happy birthday.  We are just returning from the long treacherous trip to his job.  He travels 62 miles one way everyday of his life, and we are very thankful for all you do for your girls! We do not make the trip to his job very often, but it is a definite treat when we get to go.  Our oldest daughter got to stay for the rest of the day, and I know she is feeling like daddy's true princess right now.

I must be brief, seeing as how we are having our usual "surprise" party for Daddy when he gets home.  The usual ice cream cake is in the freezer; his favorite beef roast is in the oven; the party hats have been made, and balloons and signs adorn the kitchen.  We just need the man of the day and his biggest princess to arrive home to enjoy.  I wanted to share an email I received this week.  Take the time to look up the verses for a true blessing.

Ten Ways to Love
1) Listen without interrupting - Prov 18:13
2) Speak without accusing - James 1:19
3) Give without sparing - Prov 21:26
4) Pray without ceasing - Col 1:9
5) Answer without arguing - Prov 17:1
6) Share without pretending - Eph 4:15
7) Enjoy without complaint - Phil 2:14
8) Trust without wavering - 1 Cor 13:7
9) Forgive without punishing - Col 3:13
10) Promise without forgetting - Prov 13:12

Today's Verse
"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet (a helper comparable to him) for him."  Gen 2:18

I am honored to be your help meet my dear!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Scars that heal scars

We all have them.  Those little, or even big in some cases, reminders of a boo-boo or burn that occurred, or a surgery that had to take place.  I am talking about scars.  There is a chicken pox scar by my left eye, a scar on my big right toe that happened at a pool when I was three, and my most precious scar that is from the birth of my children through a c-section surgery.

There are emotional scars as well.  Those past hurts and pains that have come along in our lives.  We all have those as well.  Some are deep.  Some can still cause us to wince and cry when we think about them.  Some are fresh.  Some are possibly decades old.  It may seem that we will never fully heal from some scars, and in all actuality, we won't.  That is why they are called scars.  Scars last forever on these earthly bodies.   One of the definitions of the word scar is "the lasting aftereffect of trouble".  It is "lasting", never going away.

What can help with our scars?  Who can help us handle the pain they cause?

There is only One who can truly comfort us in times of pain.  He will carry us through the hurts.  He will listen when we cry, even if we are crying over something that happened twenty years ago.  In our times of need we can turn to Jesus, the One who has the ultimate scars.  His scars can help heal our scars.

The disciple Thomas has the reputation of being a doubter.  In fact, we could say Thomas, A.K.A - Didymus, A.K.A. - Doubting Thomas, when talking about him.  He had not been with the others when Jesus had first appeared resurrected.  John 20:25 says, "The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord.  But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Talk about lack of faith?  Thomas had to see the scars to believe.   I have thought to myself before, "Would that have been  my reaction?  Would I have doubted the others too?"

When we keep reading we find that Jesus did appear to him eight days later.  In verses 27-29 it says, "Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side:  and be not faithless, but believing  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed:  blessed are they that have seen, and yet have believed."

Have you believed?  Do you know He died for you?  Have you accepted Him and placed your life completely in His hands?

Why do you think Jesus appeared with His scars?  He was God; He did not have to keep His scars.  He was perfect, and He could have appeared in perfect body before them.  I personally think that it is a reminder that He was God made into man.  Jesus was God on earth.  He faced trials; He faced temptations.  He remained perfect through it all, but we can relate to Him because He has scars as well.  We can rely on Him to help with our pain because of the ultimate pain He experienced.  Hebrews 2:18 says, "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor (aid) them that are tempted."  He can help or aid us through any situation because He walked this earth as well.

Today's Verse
"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."  John 20:31

We have to give Him our lives.  We have to believe in Him and know He can and will make a difference in our lives.  We have give Him our scars.  We have to ask Him to help us through whatever has caused scars in the past or whatever is causing scars right now to form in our lives.  Let His scars heal your scars today!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Keeping HIM first

I trust everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Our's was full of food, fun, family and fellowship.  We are forever grateful for all our blessings!

For our family, the days after Thanksgiving involves decorating for Christmas!  What a joy and what a dread, all wrapped in one pretty package!  I dread dragging down the boxes of decorations, but the joy and beauty of it all after the job is complete is priceless.  My oldest daughter really got into the decorating this year.  She played a vital role in decorating her great-grandmother's tree, her aunt's tree, and of course our own tree.  I love to see her enthusiasm and excitement; it reminds me so much of myself at that age.  I can tell you memories from every Christmas starting at the age of three.  I always loved decorating, and my ornaments played an important role in my excitement.

My ornaments did not cause excitement  for my husband when we were first married.  You see, my mother and I collected the "Keepsake" ornaments.  Every year after Christmas (we were frugal and always bought on clearance), we would head to Hallmark to pick out an ornament or two.  I loved this tradition and have started it with my own girls.  I also had a collection of Coca-Cola, ballerina, painted glass and homemade ornaments.  The problem was, I liked to keep my ornaments in their original boxes, much to the dismay of my husband.  Thankfully we made a few compromises, and after eight years together, we now have an ornament system that works for us both.  Some stay in boxes; some are simply wrapped and stored. :)

I do cherish my ornaments, and this year my daughter really got into the stories about them.  I teared up when she brought one to me and said, "Mommy this is my most favorite!"  It had been my favorite too as a little girl.  It was from 1989, and though it only looks like a small walnut, when you open it, there are Santa's helpers working inside.  She truly understood just how special these little treasures were to me.

Unfortunately my youngest daughter does not quite understand how fragile these special things are.  She proceeded to take two of the painted glass ornaments and bang them together.  And yes, one did break.  Thankfully she did not get hurt in the process, but we are definitely going to have to keep an eye on her this year.  She has been told of a couple of plastic ones she can play with, and it seems to be working.  She has a favorite nativity scene ornament that "moos" and plays music that has been deemed "hers".

All this decorating caused me to look up some of the reasons why we put up the tree and things...I wanted to share what I learned.  I found a lot of interesting and historical information.  Below is an excerpt from an article "True Meaning of Christmas Symbols" by Sherri Osborn.

·         The Star: A heavenly sign of prophecy fulfilled long, long ago - The shining hope of mankind.
·         The Color Red: The first color of Christmas, symbolizing that Savior's sacrifice for all.
·         The Fir Tree: Evergreen - the second color of Christmas shows everlasting light and life. The needles point up to heaven.
·         The Bell: Rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold, signifying that all are precious in His eyes.
·         The Candle: A mirror of starlight, reflecting our thanks for the star of Bethlehem.
·         The Gift Bow: Tied as we should all be tied together in bonds of goodwill forever.
·         The Candy Cane: Represents the shape of the shepherd's crook, used to bring lost lambs back to the fold.
·         The Wreath: A symbol of the never ending eternal value of love… having no end.

Share these symbols with the little ones in your life this Christmas.  As we are decorating our homes this year, let's not forget why we are celebrating to begin with.  As I told my girls this morning during devotion, yes the toys are exciting, the decorating is fun, the goodies are delicious, but we are doing this for our Savior's birthday.  It is easy to get caught up in the glitz of this season, but we are to always remember we are celebrating the One who came to save us!  As the parties start, the gift buying begins, the baking has to be done, and the church cantatas have to be sung, let's remember to keep Christ first during this Christmas season.  

Today's Verses
"Thou art my God, and I will praise thee:  thou art my God, I will exalt thee.  O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:  for his mercy endureth for ever."  Ps 118:28-29