Sunday, December 31, 2006

Christmas Pictures

Click on Rich's Blog at the right of this page and see the pictures of our Christmas as a family. It was such a joy being with them for one whole week!


New Year's Resolution

As this last day of the old year passes, our minds naturally ponder what the new year may hold for us. We that know the Lord can put our days in His hands and trust that the new year will bring days that will honor the Lord and His plans will be carried out in our lives as we surrender our will to His will. However, it does not happen automatically. We must put time into studying His Word and praying and listening to His still small voice leading us into right paths.

As a Christmas gift, I was given Beth Moore's "Believing God Devotional Journal". The first paragraph in the journal is something that we should all take to heart personally and strive to make it our goal for the new year:

"I am totally convinced that nothing is more valuable in our lives than time spent quietly with God. Everything else flows from this deliberate experience of sitting with Him, reading His Word, hearing His heart, and rising up to live what we believe. From our marriages and families to our jobs and daily responsibilities, everything of value to us is charged with new meaning by the time we spend letting God teach us who He is---and who we are as a result of His limitless grace."

"Live what we believe" is a very significant challenge----do we believe God enough to obey Him? If we truly believe that God is all He says He is and will do all He says He will do, then our lives should reflect that belief in a much more defined way so that others can see the difference in our lives. My resolution this year is to strive to know God more and more and to live my life more pleasing to Him. What is your resolution this year?

A blessed New Year to you!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rainy Day

Our house is socked in with low clouds and rain, the winds blowing outside, a little gloomy. The day sorta matched my mood when my son and his family left just a couple of hours ago. The house is eerily quiet, and the silence deafening. I already miss those two little active boys that brightened up our home with such laughter and fun for a whole week! But I will not allow the gloom to take away the wonder of a whole week with my family! It was truly a blessing that will remain in our memories for long years to come. It was a very special Christmas and I thank God for each and every prayer answered, and for His watchcare over us.

God instituted the family when He made woman for Adam and told them to be fruitful and multiply. His desire for the family is always to be one unit glorifying God in all that they do. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church; the wife is to be that helpmate to her husband that allows him to be all that Christ wants him to be; and the children are to be obedient to their parents as the parents teach them how to be Christ-like in every aspect of life. God loves the family; He rejoices when the family unit operates in the way He intended from the beginning. It's a shining example to the world when the family unit operates in the way God designed for them to operate. God is grieved when the family unit breaks down and separates into dysfunctional parts. We need to pray that families this coming year will recognize their purpose in God's plan and work at making their family unit strong in the Lord!

Thankful for family!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Christmas is past, the packages are open, the wrapping is gone, but the warmth of the day is still lingering behind in my heart. It was the best Christmas for me because I am surrounded by family and I revel in their presence. It was so good to attend church together and fill a whole row of seats at the Christmas Worship Service the day before Christmas. Then the next morning it was so fun to watch the expressions of each face as we opened our gifts together, to hear the laughter of the boys throughout the day playing with their new toys, and the men joining in beside them whenever they wanted to get in on the fun, sitting around the dinner table as we ate our Christmas dinner, then doing dishes with my daughter-in-law and sharing in our thoughts of family and life together, playing a card game that my niece taught us, watching "Cars" DVD late in the evening after a wonderful day. Family----all under the same roof together! It was pure joy for me!

In Revelation, God tells us that one day we will be a part of a greater family with God as our Father and with joys unending!
"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Can you imagine the unity, the joy, the togetherness, that we will be a part of in that glorious future? Until then, God has allowed us to taste the goodness of it all in our own families here on earth. Choose to allow this new year to bring you and your families closer as a unit, to share in each other's joys and sorrows, and love each other as never before!

Grateful for God's promises of togetherness!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Today is Christmas

We are so blessed to be able to spend this day with loving family and experience all the joy and laughter that Christmas offers at this time of year. However, there are others who are not so fortunate. Think of the homeless person, alone perhaps, perhaps hungry and cold on a street corner in any large city, or the soldier holding guard over his watch on a lonely battlefield, or the older man or woman in a nursing home who waits silently for someone to come and visit him, but no one comes. Or the teenager who decided to run away from home a year or so ago, who yearns for his or her family and yet too afraid to call home and ask them if he can return. Or perhaps a single person who may be in a midst of a crowd, but longs for close companionship and fellowship with another person, but can't seem to find that special person. Maybe a patient in a hospital who was diagnosed with a serious disease and finds themselves in the midst of painful treatments with no one else around to care. So many other examples of people that need a human touch, a gentle word of encouragement, a hug, or just a smile to brighten their Christmas morning.

Romans 12:1 says: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--which is your spiritual worship."

We as Christians can be that "body" that reaches out in Christ's love to comfort and console those who are lonely, lost, hungry, cold, widowed, or in physical or emotional pain. Christ in us wants to assure those who do not know him that He is there for them and will not leave them or forsake them. God was so merciful to us when we discovered Him as our own personal Savior. He does not want us to remain silent about that mercy. He wants us to share it with those that He places in our sphere of influence.

This Christmas Day, enjoy your family thoroughly and completely, but look for doors of opportunity in the future to give someone hope and share Christ's love with them. God is knocking on the door of hearts, and He may want us to be that vessel He can use to show them how to open that door and ask Jesus in!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


As a noun, "present" is something you give to another or receive from another."
As a verb, "pre-sent" is the act of giving something to someone else"

My family arrived from Oahu yesterday full of the Christmas spirit, especially the boys (ages 12 and 8) so excited to share their excitement with Nana and Papa. About midday, the inevitable question from our 8-year-old came as he kept looking at all the presents under the tree: "Can we open presents now?" Anticipating that overflowing enthusiasm, I had hidden one gift for each boy to find somewhere in the house. Giggling and scurrying hither and yon, they finally found it and opened it and together as a family, we played "Christmas Bingo" around the fireplace last night.

On Christmas Day aroundd the world, presents will be given and received. Paper will be torn away from the packages to reveal the treasures inside. Then hopefully, the receiver of that gift will present thanks to the giver either in person, by phone, or by note acknowledging the spirit of the giver for the gift.

Long ago, presents of gold, frankincense and myrhh were brought by the Magi to Jesus. They presented themselves along with the gifts humbly bowing before Him recognizing Jesus as the Messiah sent by God to redeem the world. Are we this Christmas overflowing with enthusiasm and humble hearts presenting ourselves to our Savior this year---a present God would receive wholeheartedly and enthusiastically?

May the gifts you give signify your love of your Savior!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Soaring with Eagles

I miss my dad this Christmas! He went home to be with the Lord in March, and there hasn't been a day go by that I haven't thought of him fondly since then. Living in Hawaii and he and Mom in West Virginia was always hard. Every time I'd call and Dad would come on the phone, almost his first sentence would be "When are you coming home?" Even though there's a void in my heart this year, it is marvelous to remember that Dad is HOME! God finally said, "Omar, come home!"

Dad was a preacher, and many people expressed to me at the funeral services that they still remember so many of Dad's sermons, especially a sermon based on Isaiah 40 about eagles. His favorite verse in the Bible was Isaiah 40:31: "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint." It is good for me this Christmas season to visualize Dad soaring with the eagles. He is free, wondrously free!

Christ came to a little town in Bethlehem as a baby so that at the proper time, he would die on a cruel cross as our sacrifice for payment of our sins. He conquered death and rose again from the grave so that we might not taste of death, but have eternal life with him. Now that's freedom! We are free, not bound by sin, but free to experience all that God offers us through His Son! Let us humbly bow before Christ and thank Him for allowing us to know Him as Savior and Lord this Christmas. We, too, will soar with the eagles one day, all because God sent His Son as a little baby to be born in Bethlehem!

Praising Him!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Excitement is Building

Only one more day until we go to the airport to pick up our son and his family to join us for the holidays! My heart is aflutter just anticipating time with Bry and Brad who are 12 and 8. As I prepare for little surprises for the boys while they are here, I recall so warmly all the Christmases we had with Rich when he was a little boy. I trust in his heart somewhere are memories that are lasting and bring to mind happy moments. Christmas is meant to be a time of family togetherness, a time for us to gather to remember that a "Child was born unto us." Although we spend so much time in periphery preparedness that help to make the holiday memorable, our focus needs to be centered on how to make Christ real to us as a family. That only happens when hearts are open to receive the message of the season.

May Christmas be a joyful time for you and yours as you celebrate the wondrous birth of a Savior!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Good vs. Bad

I love Christmas! I love everything about it. It's a season where people think of others' needs and wants and go out of their way to select that special gift for the ones they love. I love the sounds of Christmas, the wonderful old carols that are so familiar to all of us waft through the air when you shop at the malls, or turn on your radio or your stereo at home. The colors of Christmas are bright and shining on the streets, on houses, on rooftops, in the shops, in the yards all over the islands here. I love the smell of Christmas--the smell of pine from the trees and wreaths, the cinnamon smell from the oven as you bake cookies, the potpourri simmering on the stove, the candles flickering on the tables. I'm like a child in my giddiness and anticipation of Christmas Eve when we attend our church's candlelight service and I can't wait for everyone to awake on Christmas morning so we can gather together around the tree to open our gifts. It's a season meant for joy and peace and goodwill, for family love, and time to remember and to give thanks to God for His unspeakable gift of His Son.

However, I've noticed the flip side to Christmas as well which is very dark and sad. It's the time of year when suicides are at their highest, where people act out their frustrations because of finances, or marriage breakups, or use of drugs or out of loneliness and fear. Yesterday my son's truck was broken into in the wee early morning hours. We don't know the person's intent---was he trying to steal the truck, or steal something inside, or siphoning gas from it? My son's truck alarm went off and scared the perpetrator away before much damage was done, but it was an intrusion in my son's life at Christmas that shouldn't have happened. Crime at Christmas----a reality that is with us as humans. We can look at the situation as a real bummer and let it rob us of joy, or we can commit it to Christ and ask Him to work out His will in the perpetrator's life and leave it in God's hands after following the dutiful obligation of reporting the crime to the police. We can't let Satan rob us of the joy of the Lord. There are so many reasons for us to be grateful about this situation---that my son or his family was not harmed physically and that the perpetrator didn't accomplish his purposes by stealing the truck. Our instincts are to lash out---God says "love your enemies." Wow!

May you experience only the good of Christmas!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Unsearchable Greatness

"Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts" Psalm 145:3-4

We will spend eternity (forever and ever) learning of God's greatness and still will never be able to search out the depths of His wisdom, love, mercy, and grace toward us, his created beings. But with what wisdom He does impart to us here on earth while we are here, it is our obligation and responsibility to pass on the knowledge of God to the next generation. This Christmas season, tell the good news of Jesus' birth and His resurrection to others, especially to your children and grandchildren. Pass on to them the wonderful truth that they can know the unsearchable riches of God if they but seek Him and and His kingdom above all else. They can know the true meaning of life that God intended for us to know when He created us for everlasting fellowship with Him. This will not be revealed to you easily, it takes effort on your part to know Him, the One and Only true God. God has hidden every precious thing in such a way that it is a reward to the diligent, a prize to the earnest, but a disappointment to the slothful. Don't go through another day of your life without seeking to know a little bit more about the Savior who was born as a babe in a manger and died as your sacrifice so that you might have eternal fellowship with Him. A little bit of knowledge added here, or added there, will add up to greater knowledge of the unsearchable riches of His greatness.

Let us keep searching for the precious treasures of life.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Mary's Song

Off we go this morning to hop on a plane and head for Oahu for a three-day weekend. We are especially looking forward to tonight when we go to our grandsons' school Christmas program to watch them perform. In programs past, we have been so blessed by Christ being the central theme of the program and by hearing the sweet, melodious voices of so many precious small children singing Christmas carols and other Christmas-themed songs they have learned. We are so blessed by their smiles and enthusiasm. It has been awhile since we've seen our grandsons, Bryan and Bradley, so it'll be great to feel those little arms around our necks again.

I am reminded that long, long ago, Mary had a song in her heart when she was told that she would be the one to give birth to the Messiah that she and her people had so long been waiting for. Can you just imagine what emotions must have welled up inside her with this news? As she was carrying this little child in her womb and during her visit to her cousin, Elizabeth, she sang this song:

"My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for hee has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me---holy is his name!"

Even before his birth, she was able to see the great magnitude of what this Christ child would accomplish in his short earthly ministry and how he would bless the world for generations and generations to come. We should have a song in our hearts and be humbled as we ponder this wondrous birth!

Glory to God in the Highest! Peace on earth goodwill to men!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

My Shepherd

As we near the celebration of Christmas, we will hear much about "shepherds abiding in the field" and how they followed a star to Bethlehem to worship the Baby Jesus when he was born. Rightly so, for a King was born that day in a manger and the shepherds knew in their hearts that Jesus was to be worshiped and praised.

Today we who are Christians also know in our hearts that "The Lord is my Shepherd." We know He is to be honored, worshiped and praised every day of our lives. Our Shepherd is personal and knows us inside and out. He desires to shepherd us in all areas of our lives, and because of His promises to us in His Word, we can trust Him wholly to do just that. Let us ponder together Psalm 23.

In Psalm 23, He promises that "we shall not want."
I shall never be thirsty or in need of water because "He leadeth me beside the still waters."
I shall always have his forgiveness and be righteous before him because "He restoreth my soul."
I shall always have a guide who will give me direction and I know the path he leads me will be the right path, "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness."
I shall never lack for a friend or a companion "for thou art with me."
I shall always be comforted and consoled "Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
I shall never lack for food or nourishment "Thou preparest a table before me."
I will always have deep joy and contentment in my life "Thou anoinest my head with oil."
I shall never lack for anything, anything at all "My cup runneth over."
I shall never lack for anything at all in this life "Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."
Lastly but certainly not least, I shall never lack for anything in eternity,, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

The shepherds on that night long ago followed a star and found their Shepherd and fell down and worshiped Him. I pray you have found The Shepherd, and you can truly say, The Lord is MY Shepherd. If so, you have so very much for which to thank Him. If you do not know Jesus as your Shepherd, Christmas would be the perfect time to bow down before him. He promises you so very much---how can you resist Him?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Jars

I just finished reading a wonderful little Christmas book that we could all glean a valuable lesson from: " It is more blessed to give than to receive." The book is by Jason F. Wright entitled "Christmas Jars." I will try to capsulize the story for you.

It begins with a very young couple just married not having enough money for each other a Christmas gift their first Christmas together. They came up with the idea of putting all their loose change in a jar every evening for the whole month of December and whatever there was in the jar at Christmas Eve, they would divide and use the money for each other a gift to put under the tree. The first year they only saved $13.00 for each other a gift. However, they decided to continue the tradition for each subsequent Christmas after that starting earlier and earlier in the year so they would have more to spend when Christmas rolled around. After they had their first child, a daughter, they divided the change in the jar including her as well. One year when their daughter was about six years old, they were taking their Christmas jar to the bank to get the coins turned into dollars. On the way to the bank, the daughter sees this woman sitting on the curb crying. She goes to her side and talks to her, then quietly leaves the Christmas jar filled with money by her side. The mother and father could not scold her, but gently told her that was a very sacrificial thing to do on Christmas Eve. Then it was decided year after year by this family to follow the tradition of giving their Christmas jar to someone needy. The blessings were so many to recount that at the end of the father's life and after his funeral, so many people came to pay their family tribute for helping them out in dire times by bringing jars and jars to their doorstep with many many stories of how that Christmas jar gave them a new start and new outlook on life.

Giving is so prevalent at this time of year----but is it truly sacrificial? I think God would approve of us giving in a sacrificial way to one of his needy children. There are thousands of ways to give other than money. Maybe God will lead you to figure a way to give sacrificially this year to someone who is less fortunate than we are. Giving of our time to someone who is lonely in a nursing home, helping feed the hungry at a mission house, giving a toy to a child who would otherwise not have one, decorating a tree and taking it to a home who could not afford one, volunteeering your time to a young mother with small children to allow her time to herself. So many ways to let other people know you care and wish for them a merrier Christmas and a blessed new year.

Maybe even the idea of a Christmas jar for next Christmas appeals to you---all it would cost you is your small pocket change every evening placed in a jar. God will show you who might be blessed by that small change next Christmas. If you have small children, it would be an excellent way to teach them that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

May your Christmas be merry and bright!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Virgin's Womb and an Empty Tomb

Today my daily devotional in The Daily Bread was so poignant and thought-provoking that I decided to print it here today in its entirety in case you don't read The Daily Bread. I hope it moves you as it did me:
During this Christmas season, it's good to keep a firm grip on the reality of Easter. While the two events are celebrated at different times and in very different ways, they are both integral parts of God's initiative in His grand plan of salvation.

Peter Larson wrote: "Despite our efforts to keep Him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin's womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked 'No Entrance' and left through a door marked 'No Exit.'

James Edwards echoes this theme in his book The Divine Intruder: "{God} breaks into this world, even when He is unexpected and unwelcome. God joins us in our weakest and worst moments. There is a Divine Intruder among us."

The stable in Bethlehem and the cross of Calvary remind us that "when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." (Gal. 4:4-5)

The Lord did not wait for an invitation to enter the world. Clothed with humanity, He lived as our teacher, died as our sacrifice,, and rose from the grave as our Savior.

Christmas is coming---and so is Easter.

This joyous season of the year
Should prompt us to recall
That Jesus' death on Calvary
Provides new life for all.

Jesus' earthly life is framed by two impossibilities----a virgin's womb and an empty tomb!"

I pray you were awed as I was by this wonderful truth!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Happy Feet

Yesterday after church my husband and I decided to go see the movie "Happy Feet", a delightful film depicting a penguin that was born different than all the other penguins, and because of his difference, he was not accepted as a gainful member of their penguin society. However, it was his very difference in the end that was able to save the whole penguin population from starvation. This little penguin showed courage and tenacity to go beyond the ridicule of his peers and to use his difference to do what in his heart he knew he could do to save his fellow penguins. This little movie held so many lessons that we could glean from as Christians. Here are a few---ask yourself these questions:

1) Our differences can be the very thing God uses to bring about His purposes in our lives and in others' lives. Do we fight to maintain conformity to the world or are we willing to step out and be different for Christ?
2) Am I willing to face ridicule and do what is right or will I follow the crowd and be silent?
3) Can the world see that I am "different" because of my beliefs in Christ, or am I silent among non-believers?
4 )Does my difference make a difference? How much do I desire to be different for Christ?
5) Do I ridicule others that are different or do I accept them as God's creation and willing to accept their differences as part of God's plan?

"Happy Feet" was a delightful movie that made your heart dance at the end of it. There's a verse in the Bible that says, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" Isaiah 52:7

May you dance the good news to others!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Blustery Day

The tradewinds have been gusty and heavy at times here in Maui today. Our yard is filled with many branches that will have to be picked up and hauled away once the winds die down. Some days our lives seem to be "blustery" with the winds of adversity, don't they? You wonder if the adversity will ever go away or die down. That's when we must remember that God promises to be our refuge in the times of trouble. Here are a few verses to remind us that God is our refuge and strength:

"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, O Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9:9-10

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:1-2

"God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea." Psalm 46:1-2

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes."
Psalm 118:8-9

"For you have been my refuge, a strong tower aganst the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings." Psalm. 61:3-4

I trust you will only have calm during this holy season!

Friday, December 08, 2006

With Every Christmas Card I Write....

For the past two days, I have been addressing cards to family and friends all over the world. My greetings have gone to faraway places, such as Australia, China and Japan, and they have also gone to near neighbors and friends as close as my backyard. Christmas is such a special opportunity for us to reconnect with many people that we do not hear from any other time of the year. I LOVE the tradition that has been started of adding a Christmas letter to cards. The letter allows me to know the news that I have missed since I last heard from that person, and allows me to know what is important to them. Often the news imparts the love of family that is evident in their lives and/or activities that allow that family togetherness. It allows me to picture them in their particular setting of the world and gain insight into their lives so that I may know them better as friends or family. Oftentimes, the cards convey to me the love of Christ that is evident in their lives, which always thrills my heart. Christmas cards are an indication to me that someone out there still thinks of me enough to take the time to let me know that they are thinking of me! There is no greater blessing than to know that someone out there cares!

The Bible is a series of letters---letters to you and me to let us know that Someone cares about us! The letters impart personal knowledge of Almighty God who loved us so much that He sent His Only Son to earth to provide a way for us to have eternal fellowship with Him. The letters speak of such love for us that often times great suffering had to take place to get the message to us, but despite the suffering, the message was given! How grateful I am to those dear old saints of God that paid such a great price so that I might have that written record today. Those letters of the Bible give me strength, encouragement, hope, wisdom, faith, joy, peace, perseverance to live my life today in obedience to God's words to us.

This Christmas take the time to remember your friends and family by your Christmas cards, let them know you are thinking of them, and care about them and love them. Also remember to thank God for His written word to us, the Bible. There is no greater message than that written in the Word of God---

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Happy Writing!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Lights of Christmas

I love the lights of Christmas! At the end of the day, and darkness comes outside, the Christmas tree lights are turned on in our house, candles are lit, and often a log is put in the fireplace for a soft warm glow. The reds, greens and whites of the tree lights flicker and are mirrored in the windows, the candles flicker softly, and the red oranges of the fire in the fireplace crackle and pop. My husband even put a giant star that twinkles in the night on top of our roof for the world to see as they pass by the house. The lights of Christmas! What warmth it brings to my soul!

The lights of today should bring thoughts to THE light that was brought into the world centuries ago. In John 1:9 the Bible tells us, "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." The shepherds saw a great light in the sky as they were watching their flocks by night. That light led them to the true light that they were seeking. They found the Baby Jesus lying in a manger. When Jesus grew up, he spoke to the people, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." He wants us to lead others to the Light that they may rid their lives of the darkness and forever have the light of life burning in their hearts. Ahhh, the lights of Christmas---a baby born in a manger to take away the darkness of the world! May your tree, your candles, your fireplace bring you warmth this season as you are reminded of the True Light that takes away the darkness of men's souls!

Shine brightly this Christmas!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thorns of Pain Resulting in a Sweet Refrain

A poem I had tucked away in my Bible---thought it was appropriate as we focus on our Savior's birth. Can our current pain result in a sweet refrain, as we trust God in the circumstances?

"Once I heard a song of sweetness as it cleft the morning air,
Sounding in its blest completeness like a tender, pleading prayer.
And I sought to find the singer whence the wondrous song was borne,
And I found a bird sore wounded, pinioned by a cruel thorn.
I have seen a soul in sadness while its wings with pain were furled,
Giving hope and cheer and gladness that should bless a weeping world.
And I knew that life of sweetness was of pain and sorrow borne,
And a stricken soul was singing with its heart against a thorn.
We are told of cruel scourging of a Savior bearing scorn,
And he died for your salvation with His brow against a thorn.
You are not above the Master. Will you breathe a sweet refrain?"

Psalm 32:7: "You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance."

May your heart sing to the Lord and He, in turn, will send you wondrous songs!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Expectations of Others

I read a sentence today that brought to my mind something I personally need to take to heart this Christmas season. It was this: " May our expectations of others be tempered by an awareness of our own weaknesses."

I come every year with such anticipation of Christmas with full blown enthusiasm and high expectations, not only of myself but of others. I dream of the "perfect" Christmas and put all my efforts into making my expectations come to pass. Often my expectations do not come to pass and I get very discouraged and blue wondering why my hopes were dashed. That is MY weakness. I cannot blame or judge others for MY unfulfilled expectations. My actions cannot be based on what other people may or may not do. My actions at Christmas should be done out of the love of my heart and the joy of the season leaving all the consequences of those actions to God alone. It would do me well to pray that my actions are done purely out of the joy of doing, rather than expecting to see results.

Some people face Christmas with dread because their expectations have never been fulfilled, and they dread to face those unfulfilled expectations once again. The suicide rate is higher during the holidays than at any other time in the year. It would do us well if each of us kept our eyes and our hearts open to such individuals this season and reach out to those that do not have family or loved ones to be with during the holidays. Ask God how you can be an instrument to brighten someone else's Christmas to give them hope or lighten their load a little.

Reach out to others this Christmas!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hushed and Holy Season

On my calendar beside my desk for December, I read these words:

This is the hushed and holy season,
When we leave the confusion of our busy world,
To seek a star, and a stable, and a manger.

I can identify this morning more with the "confusion of our busy world" than I do the "hushed" and holy season. My morning has been filled with wrapping Christmas gifts, then wrapping them again for mailing, doing laundry, watching my husband put our outside lights around the eaves of the house, and making macaroni salad, and it's not even noon yet!

But despite all that "busyness" of the morning, there is an excitement deep down within my soul that is building. I LOVE the preparation of Christmas and all that it brings. The house seems warmer with all the bright colors of red and greens, golds and silvers. My Christmas tree is always very traditional having over 300 angel ornaments hanging from its branches, ornaments that have been given to me over the years by good friends and family members. What a warmth comes from the remembrance of each individual as I hang them on the tree. I hung seven little stockings up over the fireplace this morning, each one representing my family, each thought of them individually causing the excitement to build for their arrival right before Christmas.

However, with all the excitement, I want my heart to be "hushed" and in awe of the reason for the season. Just think of the awesome truth that God Incarnate came to earth as a little babe for the sole purpose of providing a way for you and me to spend eternity with Him. He was the Only One that could sacrifice His life in order to pay my sin debt. He was the Only One that loved me so much! He was the Only One that could take my confusion and turn it into saving faith. He is the Only One that deserves my praise and my gratitude and my surrendered life at this Christmas season. He is seeking you----are you seeking the star, the stable and the manger? There you will find the Christ Child that came to pay your sin debt and wants to be your Savior!

May your heart be "hushed" as you ponder the reason for the season!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Mother and Me

Today is my mother's 85th birthday. She is so special to me and I love her dearly. There is only 19 years difference in our ages, and growing up, she was my best friend. Every day after school I sat down with her and told her everything that happened at school. She was interested in every detail. Today is no different. Even though we live 5,000 miles apart, I still call her every day to find out how she's doing and she wants to know what I've been up to, as well.

She just lost the love of her life this year. My dad passed away in March. They were married for 66 years. She feels a little lost, quite lonely, and insecure now that she lives alone. She has my sisters to watch over her every day, and Dick and I spend six months out of the year with her in the summer. However, that's not the same comfort that she felt with Dad.
I pray for her peace and her security to come to her through Christ. She is doing remarkably well for her age.

I miss her today. I wish I could be with her. A phone call will have to do. But I know she knows my heart is sending those hugs that she needs today. Happy Birthday, Mom. May God bless you with so many more years on this earth for your girls sake, but I'm sure Dad is waiting in heaven for the day you will be rejoined together with him in God's timing.

I love you, Mom!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Faith vs. Worry

"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

Yesterday I was told I was an "optimist" and I had to smile, because all of my life I've had to fight great battles against pessimism. I come from a family of worriers who taught me to always look for the other shoe to fall when something good happened--"it won't last." If there was beautiful sunnshine out today, then I was told "Oh, but it's supposed to rain tomorrow." When I became a Christian, ridding myself of the propensity to worry was one of my greatest challenges.

Worry is the exact opposite of faith. In fact, God tells us so many times in His word, "Do not worry", "Do not fret", but BELIEVE. Faith is the direct opposite of worry. We cannot worry and have faith. We cannot have faith and worry. It's impossible. God tells us not to worry about tomorrow. He wants us to enjoy and rejoice in today. "This is the day the Lord has made; rejoice and be glad in it." Enjoy the sunshine of today. If it rains tomorrow, then you can enjoy the rain, for it will then be "today." Worry pulls tomorrow's clouds over today's sunshine.

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Matthew 6:27. Worry just takes the joy out of your life and causes health hazards. Stress is one of the largest medical hazards to health these days.

Optimism in life is to be anchored by faith and hope if it is to be long-lasting. We can be optimistic about anything short-term, but it is optimism based on belief in God's Word, and our faith and hope in it, that is lasting and forever.

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Flu Vaccination

Today my husband and I are going to get our flu shots----a little late but better late than never. Flu shots are a preventive measure to keep the dangers of the flu from becoming rampant and widespread and from the symptoms from being so hard on the body, if later we do contract the flu. There is a saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." We, as mothers, know this to be true. That is why we expend so much energy and so much of our time in trying to keep our house germ free. We scrub our toilets and sinks and spray Lysol all around, we make sure our floors are vacuumed, our furniture dusted, and how many times a day do we tell our kids, "go wash your hands." We want to prevent our little ones from being sick.

God also has His Word to help prevent the dangers of sin to corrupt our lives. It is easy for us to deny the temptation of sin will do us any harm and we fail to "wash" our hearts clean of the sin that could so easily destroy us. In Proverbs, the wisdom of these words rings true---"My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are LIFE to those who find them, and HEALTH to a man's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." In Psalms 119:11, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against thee."

If we could but realize that all of God's words to us are preventive measures on His part to keep us from harmful decisions that would destroy us in body, soul and spirit. Just as the flu vaccine is given to prevent sickness in our bodies, God's Word is our vaccine to prevent us from sin and its harmful effects. In our denial, we can be stubborn and say they are just a bunch of rules to ruin my fun. However, we all know that is not true. Look at the results of sin in our society who thought a little smoke here won't make a difference, or a little sex won't matter, and it so often ruins our lives forever. The results of sin gone rampant is ugly and vicious. How much better to follow God's words and be protected, secure and healthy.

Be vaccinated with God's Word today!