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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Why the Wise Men Were Really, Really Wise

Contrary to most nativity scenes that are displayed and for sale during this time of year, the wise men (or Magi) didn't visit baby Jesus at the manger.  (By the way, the Bible also never says there were three men, but three gifts.....so we really don't know how many there were.)  But the past few days, I've been thinking about just how wise those wise men were.

Think with me for a little bit about the things that made the wise men really, really wise:

The wise men saw the star that appeared when Jesus was born and they left the "East" to go find Him.  Where was the "East"?  How far was it from the "east" to Bethlehem? How long did it take them? We don't know.  The Bible doesn't say.  What it does say is that they went to Bethlehem for a very important reason.  They went to worship Jesus.  What wisdom!

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi  from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east  and have come to worship him.” 
Matthew 2:1-2

King Herod wasn't too thrilled about this news about this new king being born, was he?  He questioned the wise men to find out exactly when the star had appeared and more about where the child was to be born.  He instructed the wise men to go to Bethlehem and search for the child so that he could go and worship him, too.

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
Matthew 2:7-8

In my research I found that the distance between the two towns was six miles, so not too far - even if on foot or by camel or donkey.  However, what makes the wise men even more wise is #1 that they continued to search for Jesus, #2 that they continued following the star, and #3 that they knew that they couldn't trust King Herod, but could only trust God.  It seems apparent that God was guiding the wise men, doesn't it?  It certainly does, but just like with us, the wise men could have gone against the will of God.  They could have stopped following the star.  They could have given up on the search of Jesus.  They could have believed King Herod and gone back to him with the information he was seeking, but they didn't.  The were really, really wise, and after they arrived at the house (house....not manger) and worshipped Jesus and gave Him their gifts, they went back to their country using a different route.  What wisdom!

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:9-12

That is the last time we hear of the wise men, but all of these years later, they are still showing their faith and trust in God as an example to us because of what we read in God's Word.  We can see for ourselves just how wise they were.

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

   So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
  When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Matthew 2:13-16 


So, what can we learn from these wise men?  How can we be really, really wise?  By doing what they did!

#1 - By continuing to search for Jesus and when we find him, to continue to seek Him.  Seek Him with all of our hearts for all of our lives.
#2 - By continuing to follow the star....Jesus.....the light of the world!
#3 - By trusting in God in all things.  Not letting the ways of men or the ways of the world get in the way of trusting and following him.

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Be WISE!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Surprise Wedding!

December 21 was my maternal grandparents anniversary date.  If they were both still living, this year they would be celebrating their 72nd anniversary.  They did have 51 years together, which was a blessing. Actually, all of our children's great-grandparents were married around 50 years.  Only death kept them from reaching more years.
Grandpa Gene and Grandma Sibyl had an interested wedding, that I thought you might enjoy hearing about.  They were engaged to be married on January 14, 1940,  but the town of Hollis, Oklahoma, was hosting a special event to pick a surprise couple to be married on December 21, 1939.  My grandparents were selected as the winning couple! 

Here's part of the newspaper article about my grandparents' special day: (Notice how many people were at their wedding!)

Nearly 6,000 residents of the Hollis trade territory jammed city streets Thursday night for the climaxing even of a Christmas season packed "to the brim" - a secret wedding, which became a secret no more when Eugene Francis and Sibyl Nell were revealed as the bridegroom and bride.

The couple first appeared before the crowd in masks.  Exclamations of surprise burst from the audience, indicating the "secret" had been well kept by the few persons handling arrangements for the event.  Vows were read publicly by A.D. Tweedy, minister of the church of Christ at Hollis.

The couple "set sail" on their marital cruise with the blessing of the entire throng, and with $200 worth of household supplies, provided by twenty-nine city merchants, tucked away among their presents.
My grandpa wrote a letter to his oldest sister about the wedding on December 17, 1939.  Here's part of it:

Dear Myrl:

     I thought I would write & tell you that me & Sibyl are going to get married on the street Thursday nite at 9 o'clock thought maybe you & Sam would like to see it.  It will take a lot of nerve but I can stand anything for $200.00 worth of stuff.  I don't have to pay for nothing, not even a ring.  It is supposed to be kept secret but I thought I would tell you all.

     Well, I will close, so if you want to see me faint Thursday nite be sure & come.
                                                                                                           Love, Eugene

***** (I can hear my grandpa's voice as I read that letter!!)

I love weddings and everything about them.....the decorations, the colors, the photographs....everything.  Wouldn't it be neat to have a surprise wedding in your town???!!  Maybe I should plan one for someone :).

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Matthew 19:4-6

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thoughts from my daughter.....



From Lori: I got a text this afternoon.  A BIG, LONG text!  Good thing we have unlimited texting!! :)   My daughter was waiting for her dental appointment and looked through magazines as she waited.  Below she shares what she thinks about one of the articles in the magazine.  She is truly a blessing in our lives.  On this GRATITUESDAY, I am grateful for her example to us, to her three brothers, and to those around her.  Love you, girl!


******  
While waiting at the dentist, I took the time to read through a Family Circle magazine. I got to a section where mothers ask the designated magazine employee for advice on their children's problems or their concerns about their children. The problem is that the magazine employees' answers never have anything to do with God. 

1st, the parents with concerns have most likely not disciplined their children effectively.

2nd, there's no advice about what God would want about the situation. It's just women stating their own OPINION. Meaning it could be right OR wrong, based on the situation.

In this crazy and corrupt world we live in, I think parents should stop and take time to think about where their children are headed. And what they need to do to better their children's 'acting up'. Teach your children about Gods love, grace, and salvation. Let them know what's right and wrong according to God.

Now, I think that kids should take into consideration the aspect of respect for ALL adults....whether you like them or not. They still have authority over you. Kids should stop and realize that life is NOT all about them and that being with their friends isn't always where they should be. Know that good comes from God and only God.

Lastly, EVERYONE needs to take into consideration that you wont be a kid very long. Spend time together with your family. Pray, sing, play games, watch movies together. Let God know that you are thankful for the times you have together.



*****
Good job, Lauren!


“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)


Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Elementary Christmas Party - 2011

Thursday was the elementary Christmas party for grades PK - 5th.  The event is sponsored by our Parent-Teacher Organization.  This year's party was a snowman theme.
During the party, students decorate homemade theme-shaped sugar cookies at one of the stations.  I had bought mini chocolate chips for the snowman's eyes and mouth, but my daughter accidentally forgot about then while she was helping in that center.  Oh, well, the students didn't seem to mind!
Santa stopped by the school during the party.  Children had their picture taken with him and were given their pictures after the party.  This is my youngest child on Santa's lap.
Of course, we couldn't forget class pictures with Mr. Claus.  This is the 3rd grade class.  Each class rotates through four party stations, staying at each station for 25 minutes.  Pictures with Santa were one of the stations.
Each year after Christmas, I buy a lot of the supplies we will need for the next year's party.  I store the boxes for the whole next year.  It cuts the costs of party supplies by quite a bit.  I usually wait and buy the party plates and napkins right before the party.  I could buy them in advance, but it's always fun seeing the new designs for the season.  These plates and napkins were from Hobby Lobby.  The little snowman mug, snowman gift bags for the centerpieces, and marshmallow packs (they had the saying "Snowmen Come Unassembled") are all from Oriental Trading, as is the big snowman in the first picture.
This was one of the funnest activities we've ever had at the game station.  The classes were divided in half, then the snowman making group were divided into teams.  The teams selected one person to become the snowman and the others to create the snowman.  Students were given two rolls of toilet paper to wrap around the person, plus they were given construction paper noses, hats, mouth and bones. *Note: Be sure to leave a space at the mouth and nose for the child to breathe.
The other group of students played a "snowball" game with cotton balls.  After both groups of each class were done, they switched games.  They seemed to be having a great time!
My daughter and a friend read for the book station of the party.  They chose to read two or three stories from several different snowman books.
The children enjoyed hearing stories about the snowmen.
Each year the students make a homemade Christmas ornament.  This year they made paint stick snowmen.  I ordered plain paint sticks from an online company, that were actually a little shorter than regular paint sticks, then painted the top parts of them black and the bottom of them white.
The brim of the hat are front short tongue-depressor shaped sticks painted black.  The students used glue dots to secure the brim, finishing off the snowman with Sharpie marker drawn-on eyes, mouth, nose, and buttons (Several years ago they did this same ornament, but used foam pieces for those parts.  Both ways look great!).  Finally, add a fleece strip of cloth around the snowman's "neck" for a scarf.

The Christmas party is one of my very favorite events of the whole school year.  It's so much fun to "treat" the students to fun activities and special memory-making times.  

After the party was over, a small group of junior high students came to the cafeteria to eat lunch.  I had some marshmallows left over, as well as some hot chocolate.  I asked them if they wanted some and they certainly did!  They were really excited about it!  One of them commented how he remembered those Christmas parties and how much fun they were.  I thanked him for sharing his thoughts with me.  That is why it's important to me for the students to have a special Christmas party each year. I want them to have those special memories, and I want them to have some special keepsakes from their childhood that they can look back at when they grow up.  I want them to know that I, and all of the others who take the time to help at the party, care about them.  

So.....all that's left from the party are the memories.....and a few sugar cookies :).  Now.....on to thinking about next year's party theme:  Gingerbread Men!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Married or not.....Read this.

This morning, I was working on a post about the elementary Christmas party.  As I waited for pictures to upload, I read this story on Facebook.  Needless to say, when I finished reading it, my thoughts weren't on the Christmas party photos, but on the power of this story.  I had to post it to share with you.  The Christmas party pictures can wait.
****
MARRIED OR NOT, you should read this.... When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I’ve got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes. Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly. She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why? I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! 


That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her! With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Jane so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.


The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane. When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again. In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage. This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day. She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request. I told Jane about my wife’s divorce conditions. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully. 


My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mommy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don’t tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office. On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! 


Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her. On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me. On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn’t tell Jane about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger. She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily. Suddenly it hit me… she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head. Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it’s time to carry mom out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day. But her much lighter weight made me sad. 


On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy. I drove to office…. jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind…I walked upstairs. Jane opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore. She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Jane, I said, I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart. Jane seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away. 


At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us apart. That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed -dead. My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push through with the divorce. — At least, in the eyes of our son—-I’m a loving husband…. 


The small details of your lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves. So find time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage! If you don’t share this, nothing will happen to you. If you do, you just might save a marriage. Most of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top 5 Most Important Things your Child Needs for Christmas

If you are a parent, most likely you've had a handwritten list or a verbal list of gifts your child/children would like to get for Christmas this year.  I usually have just a verbal list, but as my children are getting older (and I am, too!) I asked them to write down their list this year.  It's been helpful as I've purchased items off of it for the past month.

Instead of focusing on physcial gifts, I want you to imagine what a child might write down if they could concentrate only on what would be good for their emotional well-being.  Of course, these are not things that children (or most of them) will recognize as something they need, but mature adults certainly will. 

Here are the Top 5 Most Important things your child needs for Christmas.  You'll notice that this list doesn't actually have anything to do with "things", though.  It only has to do with the relationship between a child and his parents.  This things might seem to be "cheap" as far as money goes.  You don't have to go to a store or buy online.  But, these things are priceless.  There is no way to purchase them.  They are gifts that parents and children give each other, but their worth is immeasurable.

1.  LOVE
Children need love.  Unconditional love.  Love that will not change dependent on either persons' moods, struggles, or anything else.  A love a parent has for his/her child, should mimic the love that God has for His children.  God may be disappointed by our actions, our choices, or our behavior towards Him, but He still loves us. 

As parents, we may be disappointed by the actions, choices or behavior of our children, but we should still love them. Love isn't buying gifts.  Love isn't spending lots of money or going on vacations all of the time.  Love is being there.  Love is caring.  Love is kindness to one another.  Love is action.

We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19

Love is patient, love is kind.
1 Corinthians 13:4

2.  DISCIPLINE
Almost as important as love, is discipline.  That may seem strange to some, but it's true.  "Why?" you may ask.  Let me explain.  Children only feel loved when they feel secure.  A home without discipline feels insecure to a child.  A child may resist the very boundaries he/she craves, but that is normal.  They need the boundaries and they need those boundaries to be unmovable.  Boundaries that are ever-changing and movable aren't stable.  Homes without discipline aren't stable, either.

I once had a friend tell me she was always jealous of me because I had rules to follow....because I had curfews to obey.  I thought that was so strange at the time, but she explained that she didn't feel loved in that way, because her parents didn't care what time she came in or have any certain guidelines about many things in her life.  As a parent, I now understand what she meant.  My children are thankful for the boundaries that are in place.....even when they may try to move them.

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod
and save his soul from death.
Proverbs 23:13-14

Whoever spares the rod hates their children,

but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
Proverbs 13:24

3.  TIME
You can't love someone like you should, without spending time with them.  It's almost impossible.  Of course, with today's technology, there are ways to stay connected without actually being face to face, but remember (this is extremely important!):  CHILDREN NEED TO SEE YOU FACE TO FACE!  THEY NEED TO TALK TO YOU FACE TO FACE!  No cell phone, Facebook page, Skype chat, or anything else can take the place of face to face time.  Never!  Ever!

Our hectic, busy lives can leave little time for family, if we're not careful.  Make plans to be together.  If you are like our family, sometimes it's a treat just to all be in the car together!  Sounds strange, but it's really rare!  We have to work hard to have time together, but it is extremely important. 

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19

4.  FAITH
Your faith in God is your own.  Your faith in God....your trust in Jesus....will not get your child to Heaven.  Only he or she has the ability to make those decisions on their own.  However, I strongly believe that your faith - or rather your lack of faith - can have a huge role in whether your child does NOT go to Heaven.  Yes, it is still up to he/she to make those decisions, but without a foundation laid by the parents, it just makes it so much harder for them to be seeking God.  Sadly our society, as a whole, puts more emphasis on careers and success than it does in faith and salvation.

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:26

 A child who is raised up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4) knows about God.  He/she has most likely been told the Good News about Jesus and been a part of His church.  Children who are learning about faith from their parents are learning how to cope in trials and struggles with God's mighty hand guiding them all the way.  They will be self-sufficient because of what they know they can do, but only because of Christ....not because of themselves.  They have a God-confidence, not a self-confidence.  They grow to have a faith that no one can destroy!  What an awesome gift!

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
I Thessalonians 2:11-12

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”
Deuteronomy 4:9-10

5.  VALUE
It's amazing the expectations some parents have for their children.  So many parents expect their children to be the best player in their particular sport.  Maybe they have to score a certain number of points or strike out a certain number of batters, etc. Some expect their child to be the very top in academics in their class, have straight A's, etc. It's a hard thing for parents NOT to do.  I know!  We've struggled as parents with some of that, too.  It's not that it's bad to be the sports star or the academic whiz.  There's nothing wrong with those things at all.  The problem is when their are unrealistic expectations or when the parent is trying to live out their past (possibly unsuccessful past in some situations) and want their needs/desires met by their child's fame.  That's when the child's value is placed on their performance rather that for who they are as a person.

It's also a problem if we care more about the fact that our preschool children can say their ABC's or read or whatever, yet care less if they know anything about the Bible - the books of the Bible, the stories (true stories!) in the Bible, or about creation of the world.  What are you showing your child that you value?

Value God. Value Jesus. Value your child.  Value each other.  Honor each other.  Praise each other - not in a superficial way, but genuine, heartfelt praise.  Praise that isn't dependent on how many touchdowns he made or what score she made on an exam.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord , children a reward from him.
Psalm 127:3

So, you see.....these top five gifts of what your children need are simple.  Simple, yet oftentimes hard.  Hard and difficult, but very, very much worth it.

Merry Christmas to YOU!

Monday, December 12, 2011

JESUS IS THE REASON....

for EVERY SEASON!!!

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:15-17

Christmas is recognized as the celebration of the birth of Jesus, but do we always think about the fact that Jesus is the reason for EVERY season - not just Christmas? 

The Bible actually never says when our Savior was born.  Some have speculated on his actual birthdate, but it's ranged from the fall months to the spring months.  So, in other words, no one is really sure!  But, at least during this season of Christmas, more people have their focus on Him.  We must use this time to remind them of the fact that this little sweet baby grew up and taught the world about His purpose and His Father's plan.  This man went to the cross and died to be the Savior of all who will obey Him and His Father.  We must remind people to not put the baby Savior back in a box on December 26 and just forget about Him the rest of the year. Use this special time of year to share Jesus with others in a way that they might not have ever heard!

So about Jesus' birth date.  Does it matter when He was born?  Does it matter if we know the exact date  Apparently not, or the Bible would tell us "when".  However, it does matter WHAT we DO with Jesus.  Do we only let Him be the reason for just the Christmas season, or just the Easter season, or do we make Him a part of every season of the year?  He should be the reason and the hope for every day of our lives.

In Genesis 1:26, God says, "Let us make man in our image..."  Who is the "our" in this verse?  God himself, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  John 1:1-3 also tells how Jesus (the Word) was with God in the beginning:  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made."

Jesus has always been and will always be the reason for every season.  Without Him there would be no hope of any season.  Let's all do our best to recognize that fact each and every day.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Take 5

I just read our small town newspaper.  After reading my daughter's article for this week's "Tiger Times" (the school page section of the newspaper), I had to share it with you.

Take 5
So many people enjoy watching movies, including me.  Most movies are about one and a half hours long.  But how long did it take to make the movie?  Most take about three to six months to film.  The producers make up a list of scenes and when they want to film them, but most scenes have to be re-filmed, which is where "takes" come in.  

Life is similar to a movie, in that we fail over and over so many times.  Just like in the making of movies, we go through the motions.  Take 1.....Take 2.....and so on.  John 14:1 says, "Trust in God."  If you put your trust in God, maybe you'll be able to move to the next 'scene' in your life instead of starting over.  And, someday you will have completed the making of your movie.

Note from mom:  Great job, girl!  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It Just Feels Right

Last night I was headed to a basketball game out of town.  The dashboard lights weren't lit up, so I couldn't see how fast I was going (Perhaps that had something to with the fact that I had run the car battery down yesterday morning???? Yep....probably so!).  I was cruising along and thought I should check my speed, just to make sure I wasn't over the speed limit.  I turned on the dome light and guess what?  I was right, exactly on 65 miles per hour!  Not over....not under.....right on the money!

I was struck by that fact as I drove along and thought about "why" I was going the right speed.  I finally realized why:  because it felt right.  It seemed like the right speed because I always drive the speed limit.  It was natural for me.

But, then, as I kept driving, my mind drifted to more "feels right" things.  What in my life feels right?  What things seem natural?  Well, there are lots of things that feel natural.  Loving God.  Loving Jesus.  Loving my husband.  Loving my children.  Loving the rest of our family and friends.  Taking care of my family.  Worshipping God.  Praising Jesus.  Meeting together with my brothers and sisters in Christ at every opportunity.  And there are many more.  Those are good things, even great things.  It's good that these things come naturally for me.  For many in this world those things don't come naturally.

On the flip side, though, what things in my life "feel right", but they are not good things?  Unfortunately, there is a big list here, too.  There are many things that don't come natural for me.  Exercise, healthy eating habits, drinking water, thinking before I speak at all times, relying on God's guidance and taking the time to pray before committing to things, etc.  Each of these things I listed are great things, yet I struggle with each of them.  And there are many other things I could add to the list that are daily struggles.

So you see, the phrase "it just feels right" can be a good thing, but it can also get us into some trouble.  It can even lead to sin.  What feels right to us may be wrong in God's eyes.  The Bible will guild us and prayer will help direct us as we strive to make what feels right be right.  Little by little, what feels right will become what God desires instead of what we desire.  Striving to draw more and more closer to God?  Yes.  It just feels right.

A man’s steps are directed by the LORD.
How then can anyone understand his own way?
Proverbs 20:24

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy 9th Birthday, Tyler!

Yesterday was our youngest's 9th birthday.  I'm sure I say this with every child's birthday post, but it really doesn't seem possible.  The years really do fly by....even in our children's eyes.  That must mean it really is, because I don't remember thinking that when I was a child.  Do you?

Tyler wanted pancakes and bacon for breakfast.  He's daddy actually cooked breakfast yesterday.  (How nice!)  Tyler wasn't quite awake in this photo!
Tyler likes to talk like Mickey Mouse quite often.  He's his favorite Disney character.  When my daughter and I went to Disney World in early September, we bought him this Mickey hoodie.  I saved it for Tyler's birthday.  
He wasn't quite sure what kind of birthday theme he wanted, but Sunday night he finally decided on just a Christmas theme.  I was so excited!  He had a reindeer party at two or three, but I never pushed any other Christmas-type of party.  This was super-easy to put together quickly!  I knew I had some Christmas shaped cake pans stored in the garage, but was surprised to see this snowman shaped pan. It turned out great!  He was excited!
Tyler and his siblings.

Close-up of the snowman cake.
These three pumpkins were saved from the family pumpkin bash to be painted and made into a topiary-type of snowman.  I had them painted already, so decided to make three snowman heads for the table centerpiece at his party.  I may just keep them in three.
Blow out the candles!  My husband picked up these colored flame candles.  Kind of cool!

Tyler,

We are truly blessed to have you in our lives.  Sometimes you realize how that if certain circumstances hadn't not happened in our lives, you wouldn't be here. (Read here for the Caleb story.)  God wanted you in our family and we are so very grateful that He did.  

We look forward to watching you grow up physically, mentally, and spiritually during this next year and for the rest of your life.  Thank you for spirit and personality, that brightens up the lives of others.

We love you,
Mom & Dad

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmast Party with the Elementary Church Youth

Last night we hosted the Kindergarten through 6th grade church kiddos for a Christmas party at our home.
Instead of having a dessert all ready for them, I decided it would be more fun (and save me time!) to let them decorate their own cupcakes.  My daughter divided up candy and sprinkles in small containers for each table group to share.  Each child got a small cup of icing of their own.
My husband helped out by baking the cupcakes.  He overfilled some, but no one seemed to mind: Just more to eat!
While my husband went to pick up pizza (the order was late) the kids played Christmas bingo and decorated their cupcakes.
They had a lot of fun decorating and not too many tried to lick the icing :).  It was hard to wait for the pizza, but this passed the time really well.
One of the cupcake creations.
More decorating...
After pizza, the kids played "Dirty Santa".  I wasn't sure how it would go, since the possibility of a prized gift being taken away might be traumatic for some.  It turned out that the only trama was that no one was taking some of the gifts away!  Not too many problems, thankfully.  The kids did well!  I think that game is a good lesson-learning game for children, actually!
A favorite gift!
The Dr. Pepper and chocolate was the most traded gift at the party.  It was "dead" early!
A cool gift!
More party pics...
Another traded gift....a furry tiger.  She's hanging on to it!
The kids had a great time laughing, talking, and enjoying their time together.  Surprisingly, even with 23 youngsters and 7 adults, it really wasn't that loud.  In fact, when our three teens came in from their youth group Christmas party, they were surprised that it was quieter here than at their party.  Yay for fun and special memories (and not too loud :) with some very special children.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Chronicles of Biscuit - "It Always Works Out"

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Stories about our youngest son, Tyler, whose nickname is Biscuit.

If you remember my post Monday, I was stressed about some things.  As the day progressed, some things got taken care of and, as expected, some didn't.  The best part of the day was when my husband took one of my responsibilities away from me and did it for me!  Wasn't that nice of him?  Yes it certainly was!

During that day Biscuit was home sick with a cold.  He didn't go to school.  Something came up in the day and I made some statement about how something worked out.  Biscuit's response was awesome!  He said, "Mom, things always work out, don't they?"  I paused at his wisdom and replied, "Yes, it really does!  Thank you, Biscuit!"

He wasn't sure why I was thanking him, but I tried to explain it to him as best as I could, paying special attention to the fact and impressing on him especially that GOD is the reason things always work out!  What an awesome thing to see....to realize.....to know!

Are things always good?  No.

Are things always pleasant?  No.

Are things always positive?  No.

Are things sometimes stressful?  Yes.

But do things always work out?  YES!  With God - and ONLY WITH GOD - they DO.

Why is that?  Because God promises that things will work out for the good of those who love him.  And that's enough.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Christmas Activities and Crafts

Oh, this time of year has some of the cutest ideas and activities you can do for gift-giving or as a way to make memories with your children, your grandchildren, or just on your own!  It's so much fun and there are so many neat ideas out there in magazines, craft books, and on the web....not to mention the new hit site of Pinterest!  My mom, sister, and I have some ideas on our recipe/craft blog.  I've posted links below to each of those crafts and activities, so that you can enjoy them, too!

Click on link to go to craft/activity.

Gumdrop Trees
12 Days of Christmas Gifts
Christmas Canvases
Christmas Stockings
Christmas Pillowcases
Family Memories Christmas Tree Skirt
Christmas Countdown Crafts
Lighted Snowman Jar Craft
Popsicle Reindeer Ornament
Snowball Ornaments
Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

So, here are just a few ideas to get you started with some Christmas projects.  Have fun and happy crafting!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Overwhelmed

Do you ever have that feeling that everything is piling in on you - including your house?  I do.  I'm there.  Today.

It's as if everything in the entire world is hinged upon today.  Everything is needing to be done - TODAY!  And it's a bit overwhelming!

Without giving you a play by play of what my day is looking like (and adding further stress in my own mind!), I decided to post about it.  I decided to think out what I should do about this day and share it with you.

#1 - To plan out today to make the best of it and to tackle all that it entails, I must have a peaceful spirit.  The ONLY way I'll have that peaceful spirit is by praying to God to help me in this day and for Him to grant me that peaceful spirit. Only God can help me make it through the day and to be at peace with the day.

#2 - To get the most done today that I can, I must manage my time wisely, but also realize that some things can be left undone.  This is perhaps the hardest thing.  I don't like leaving things undone!  I want things done when I want them done, don't you?  I suppose we're all that way, but it can't always be that way.  Some deadlines must be met, but some are just deadlines in my own mind and they can wait.

#3 - Keep calm and carry on.  I keep seeing that phrase on little home decor plaques, and I really like it!  Much of what happens today will be totally out of my control.  Much of what happens today will happen whether I get my "list of things" done or not.  So, I can either allow myself to get in a tizzy and out of control about everything, or I can keep calm.  The question I must ask, is which attitude best reflects the example of Jesus to those I come in contact with and to those in my family?  Obviously the "keep calm and carry on" attitude.

#4 - Pray some more!  Most likely throughout the day, I'll forget who is in charge of my day.  I'll try to be in control.  I'll try to take things into my own hands.  I'll try to get my way.  But, then I'll remember to pray.  Then I'll remember that only God is in charge and I'm just along for the ride. 

Thank you, God, for your patience, grace and mercy.  I know I will need it today, just as I do every day.

Well....I'd better go get busy!  Have a wonderful, peaceful, prayerful (and productive) day!

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."
James 4:13-15

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

Monday, November 28, 2011

Memories of Thanksgiving 2011

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  It's amazing that the fall season - my very favorite season - is over.  I was a little disappointed to get rid of the pumpkins and hay bales this year, but I kept a few to make a pumpkin snowman!  If it's successful, I'll post it on my recipe blog.

What is your favorite part of the Thanksgiving holiday?  Family time, friends, food, traditions, memories, shopping, football?  Realizing how God has blessed us all?  All of the above?  Yes, most likely it is all of the above.  It's a great time!

Our Thanksgiving begins on Wednesday night when my husbands' family comes in for a congregational singing.  There are lots of other visitors from out of town, as well.  I had requested that the songs "Someday" and "There's a Stirring" be led by family members.  Two of my brothers-in-law led them.  They are two of my very favorite songs!  Thank you, Ken and Dan!  I wish we had recorded the songs.  It was beautiful. All of the songs were beautiful!  That is my favorite part of the weekend.
After the singing, we gather at my in-laws for food and games. My kids help me cook all day Wednesday and even some on Tuesday evening. Everyone enjoys getting together and enjoying the fun and fellowship.
Of course, there is more food to come on Thanksgiving Day, but not before the annual Turkey Trot. It's a 5K (3.1 mile) run that now even the youngest run the whole way! Congratulations to this year's winner - Justin!

I didn't get a regular food picture, only the dessert table.  I made a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake (pictured to left) and it was a big hit.  It is a great recipe from a Junior's Cheesecakes Cookbook, and I'll begin posting it tonight on the recipe blog (Life's a Bowl of Cherries - link to right on home page of this blog).
The annual Pumpkin Bash in our field was a lot of fun! Some of them were so rotten that they caused quite a bit of "splatter" all over the person. That's always fun (if you're not that person!). My brother-in-law, Ken, served as the pitcher again, but he wasn't expecting getting hit by a little pumpkin right in the forehead! Thankfully he was okay!
Friday the family went to see The Muppet Movie. I've always liked Kermit and especially like the songs in the movie. They used the "Rainbow Connection" song that we used to sing a lot when I was younger. I'm not a big "Miss Piggy" fan at all, but it was really a cute movie!
Saturday was a special treat because our high school football team was playing in the semi-finals to compete to go to State in Class C football.  What an exciting game watching them win and advance to the finals!  It was really cold and really windy, but really worth it!  Best wishes on your quest for the gold ball, Tigers!
Unfortunately, due to illness, we didn't get to see my family like we had planned to on Sunday, so we stayed in town.  However, it was neat because my brother-in-law (the same one that got hit by the pumpkin!) was the guest speaker and then our nephew spoke that evening.  

Now it's back to reality:  laundry, some dishes, laundry, Christmas decorating, laundry, kids' homework, ballgames, and of course, more laundry!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Today, I Am Thankful For....

T - The truth found in God's Word

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
John 8:32

H - Heaven

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."
John 14:23
 
A - Abundant Blessings

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3

N - Never-ending Love

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1
 
K - Knowledge of God


His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
1 Peter 1:3

S - The sacrifice for our sins

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 2:2

G - God's gift of eternal life

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

I - Integrity of fellow Christians

I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. 
1 Chronicles 29:17a

V - The vine - Jesus

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:5

I - Inheritance for children of God

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
Hebrews 9:15

N - Needs met by God

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

G - God's grace

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8

To see what others are thankful for, visit Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Underdogs

Do you enjoy rooting for the underdog?  Many people do.  It's fun seeing someone not expected to excel or win, excelling or winning.

Friday night our high school football team traveled almost four hours north to compete in the quest for the gold ball in Class C 8-man football.  We were playing Deer Creek/Lamont Academy (DCLA), the number one ranked team, who hadn't been beat in 23 straight games and who was last year's Class C State Champs.

Our Tipton team was ranked seventh, after loosing two games in regular season play.  They played well in the first playoff game, advancing to the second round.  All sports websites and reports predicted Tipton would lose badly, but they didn't know what was about to happen.  They didn't know that our football team was determined to win and didn't care if they were predicted to lose.  They didn't know that our team didn't feel intimidated by playing the number one ranked team and defending state champions.

But now they do.  Now they know because our boys BEAT DCLA - 13 to 12!!!  In the first quarter, Tipton scored a touchdown, making the score 6 to 0 early on.  At that point, DCLA was at a place where they hadn't been in two seasons of play.  They were down!  And they stayed behind the whole game.  The Tipton Tigers have advanced to the state semi-finals and our town is extremely proud of the boys for their hard work, dedication, and determination.  We'll be cheering for them Saturday night!

Underdogs.  Not any more!

As I thought about the Tipton Tigers being the underdogs in Friday's game and what they were up against going into that game, my thoughts turned to another underdog.  An underdog in the Bible.  I thought about David (1 Samuel 17).  Young David was a shepherd and didn't have experience fighting, except for killing some animals that had threatened the sheep, but he was willing to fight the over nine feet tall Goliath.  His faith to win the battle over Goliath wasn't because of what he thought he could do, but in what God could do through him.  Yes, David was an underdog, but he relied on the power and strength of a mighty God!  And, he won!  He defeated Goliath!!  With the help and power of the Lord!

So, best wishes to the Tipton Tiger football team as you play Saturday night!  We can't wait to cheer for you!! Interestingly, in the David and Goliath story, David cut off Goliath's head and he took it to Jerusalem.  The Bible doesn't say what happened to the head after that, but it seems it was kind of like a trophy (an odd trophy, but a trophy!).  Tigers, we want you to bring home a GOLD BALL!  (No heads, please!)
 
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