This is just a blog about my thoughts, my family, my everyday life. Because I am a Christian and have ups and downs like everyone else, I hope it will encourage others to either turn to Christ for the first time, or lean on Him when times are rough. Often life is just random and funny. I started this blog after many years of writing to my church about our vacations. They began to encourage me to blog and finally I am. Thanks for reading.

"Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!" Nahum 1:15

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. John Piper

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Manger Scene Undergoes Some Transformations

As time passes, my manger scene has taken on some strange, but humorous appearances.  Each time I would pass by, I took a picture, wondering how long this would go on.  Some in my household confessed to their shenanigans and others remain silent.  I am sharing them with you.

Marching right

An Army man guards the manger.

Notice the bird
  Dice, anyone?

Missing animals

Worship the Savior!

M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S !!!

Bare Branches

I just love this picture and had to put it in my blog.  Now I need a subject.  Winter comes to mind.  Bare branches are just beautiful.  They speak volumes to me.  Trees and shrubs have shed their coverings, only to reveal another side of who - I mean what - they are.  This picture was taken in Massachusetts.  I think those are crab apples?  Somebody help me here.

Berries never look so appealing as they do when brightening up an empty branch.
Each season holds its own treasures in nature.  Each one has unique qualities that distinguish it from the others, but when the earth begins to sleep and the plants rest, it is the loveliest of times...often going unnoticed, unappreciated.  Snow covers the ground and takes precedence, hiding a portion of the world that is in hibernation.  So as the trees drop their leaves to the ground and ready themselves for colder climates, I for one, will recognize and admire them.  Bare branches are when attached to the Vine.

John 15:4-5  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.   I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Do Not Look For Another!

Figures from my mom's and grandma's nativities.
When the prophets of the Old Testament told of Jesus' coming, they did not mention His name. (Wouldn't it have been easier for the Israelites to accept Him if they had?) But, no. The Israelites were looking for that special Moses when he delivered them from bondage with the hand of God waving plagues upon the Egyptians. They never thought that Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace would be a Baby in Bethlehem...raised by a carpenter. No way.
Their Messiah was coming not in splendor and glory, but in lowly manger. No one told them that He would lead by serving instead of ruling.  Many still look for that messiah. Messiah has already come!
He came to show us Love.
He came to give us Hope.
He came to offer Peace.
He came to bear sins.
He came to suffer for our sakes.
He came to be the Last Sacrificed Lamb.
He came.
Do not look for another...this Jesus is He.
Matthew 11:2-6  Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me." 
Thank you LORD, for giving us a Savior that we can relate to...One that understands our pain because He has experienced it, One that has suffered slander, physical abuse, humiliation, great sorrow. Thank you that in His very birth, we are shown meekness and humility.  Thank you that man's grand ideas are folly to you.  You sent us Love.  Love is that Baby in the manger, that reigning King at Your right hand.  
Do not look for another!!  Jesus Has Come!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Six Days 'Til Christmas

It is December 19th, 5:35 a.m. - six days before Christmas.  Six days.  Six days for me to prepare for that day.  I can't help wondering what Mary was doing six days before the event that would change the world for all time. She was a vital part of that miraculous day.  She had no idea what was in store.  She did not know that angels were waiting to announce the birth of her Baby...that unknowing shepherds were to be a part of that night...or that all of this would take place away from her home, in a stable.
This humble birth would bring forth a King for all time. He was not elected and will never lose dominion.  She had no idea that perfect peace, faith, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and redemption would take on a new perspective - by the Author of peace, faith, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and redemption.
A Baby wrapped in cloth, lying in a manger and celebrated by angels.  A Savior.  People were looking for a Savior.  They had been told of His coming for hundreds of years...and hundreds of years later, man still needs this Savior, most desperately.  Those that do not know Him need Him.  Those that know Him need Him.  He sustains, redeems, makes intercession, gives peace and purpose to life, forgives.  He is the Source of all goodness and it is unending.  
Do not get lost in holiday madness.  Do not scream about the fact that the true meaning of Christmas is absent, invisible in much of the world around you...when you have not stopped to worship the One in the manger.  Stop now.  Celebrate His birth...with personal intent and devotion.  Run to the manger as the shepherds did...with eagerness, determination, and anticipation.  Stay and worship Him.  He reigns forever. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  
Six days beforehand, Mary may not have known everywhere this simple birth would lead...but she did know that her Baby would save...and that she was to name Him "Jesus."  One day, all will bow before that name.  Let's begin now.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012


Headline news...tragic and heartbreaking and senseless...lives taken by a violent act in a place thought to be safe.  Families turned upside down. Their anguish has been so public, being captured on film by those eager to be the first to tell each detail. Then it quietly hides - away from the eyes of the nation...into the secret places where every day they shared meals, helped their children with homework, tucked them into bed, made their lunches.  Those daily routines are changed forever.
Names of people we have never heard of, will never know.  I could continue to write about Christmas...because it will still happen. Life's amusing episodes will still take place and make me laugh.  All of my children and grandchildren will be here this holiday season...and more than ever I will cherish each moment we have together.
The One who sees it all will someday make something good out of this.  I cannot see it now and would not even suggest that they try. My heart aches for them.  I grieve with them and for them.  Their pain is an open wound that will not heal.
May the Lord of peace, comfort, and love surround these that have lost precious loved ones...and may He be so very real to them, even now.  Father, please do what only You can do...and show them Jesus.
Psalm 46:1  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Three Gifts

Three gifts.  That is what the Christ Child received from the wise men.  But it was not on the day of His birth.  It was when He was around two years old.  Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were living in Bethlehem at the time.
Guided by a star, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and approached Herod, the king, 
Matthew 2:2-6  "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."  3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;  4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.  5 They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:  6 "' And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'" 
They followed the star until it stopped over the house of Joseph and Mary.  What an unusual star! What a divine plan.  The kings of the east brought gifts of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.  Such elaborate gifts for a baby...but not too elaborate for a King.
Because of Herod's decree to kill all baby boys, two years old and under, Joseph was told in a dream to take his family to Egypt where they safely stayed until Herod's death. They then returned and settled in Nazareth.
So, if you could give a gift to Jesus, what would it be?  Perhaps your most beautiful, prized possession?  What about the idols of your heart?  He wants them all...everything revealed and everything hidden.
These kings brought gifts to the King of Kings, who offers the matchless gift of eternal life to all who will believe.
Every year I ask the children in my Sunday School class - a room of first through third graders - what gifts they would give to Jesus. They have the best bike, my Legos, my dolls, my baseball cards, my computer, my Wii...the beloved things they own.  Their precious treasures.  May we be like our best to Him....because He gave His best to us.

On a personal note: Last year we switched our giving plan from all out frenzy to three gifts each.  I know each family has their own plan to celebrate Christmas.  Ours had become more than it should be and I take the blame because I like to give gifts.  Bringing those urges under control (yes, I really said that) makes me a better steward of what He has given us.  So we are sticking with the "three gift" theme.  It is centuries old and has passed the test of time.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Reason for the Season

It is Jesus. You have heard that catchy phrase. It can be found on Christmas cards, ornaments, all things red and green. But wait...isn't He is the Reason for every season?  
Sometimes days go by without me noticing (that's when I say "it just can't be December!)...because I allow the world to creep in with all of its enticements begging me to find my joy, my pleasure in external trappings and I drift far away from the One who owns me. I am undone on those days until I remember - there is only one source of joy.
If my happiness depends on anyone else, anything else - I am always in danger of losing it. Unless it is of eternal value with an everlasting substance, it fades. No one, no job, no new found affection, no attained goal, no 'pretties', no updated version of whatever. None of it will bring me the lasting peace and contentment I so desire. In fact, they will rob me of it.
You know how the batter flies off of the electric mixer when the beaters are spinning? That is I spin and all else flies away from me until there is nothing but me left...unclean me.  God is the mixer, the potter, the sculptor.  In one sense, I am the batter, being made into something good...but then I am also the metal beater...being spun around until I am cleared of all I was stuck in, the world with its bits of residue staining me. I am incapable of cleaning myself. He spins me clean and shows me that when I am in a thick mess I am hardly useful and when I am ejected into the sink, I am undone. It is the connection to Him that makes sense of my life and I find purpose. Apart from Him I am void...incomplete.
What is this Reason we celebrate Christmas? What is the Reason we live?  What is the Reason I get out of bed every day, stay home or run errands, clean dirt from my surroundings as all women do (sooner or later), make list upon list, cook, fix, organize life into segments I can deal with...why am I doing this every day?
Days can be mundane, routine, and unrewarding unless I do all for the One who was born for me. He makes Reason happen in all my seasons. I am forever grateful that He is my Reason...for it all.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Christmas Miracle


The very origin of Christmas Day was the one true Miracle...God coming to live among us, dying on a cross, bearing the sins of all who trust Jesus as their only Savior, with the promise of eternally living with Him. THAT is the real meaning of Christmas.
Yesterday at church, there was another "Christmas miracle".  The children were amazing!  They did it!  How in the world?  From craziness to loveliness.  May He alone be glorified.

And on to the Nursing Home


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Caroling and Chaos

Every year, our junior high and high school kids along with some parents go caroling to the homes of some of the older folks and widows of our church.  A few years ago, I began inviting all of the ones that lived near us  over for dinner in order to save them some gas and time.  This year was the same.  We had about 14 people come and eat and enjoy the voices of the young.  It sounds so simple as I write it down....and it was everything but.  If you had been a fly on the wall, you would not have believed it.  I was here and I don't believe it. There are just some events that leave you speechless.
Amy and Clint were supposed to arrive at 4:30 with the youth.  We waited awhile, but that was ok, because busy things were happening in the kitchen.  I had decided to serve the young people brownies and little bottles of water.. Sounds easy enough.  However I doubled the brownie recipe and did not allow for extra time cooking.  When the timer went off, I put the brownies on the counter, thinking they would set.
The carolers arrived close to 5:00.  Everyone went outside to listen. In my corner were George, Margaret, Kristen, Corey, Mom, Shirley, Anna, Bruce, Susan, Leonard, Leon, Tamrynn, Tommy, and me. There were 20 young people and about 5 adults singing.  It was great.
As they neared the end, I ran in to dish out messy, undone brownies, top them with Cool Whip, and serve them in cups.  Kristen came in to help me. (Chocolate and Cool Whip go together anytime, anyway.)  I could only fit 15 on my tray so I headed outside while Kristen fixed the rest.  As I was handing out the desserts, one of the young ladies - Elizabeth - stepped in dog poop and then in ants.  I turned and gave the tray to Tamrynn, grabbed her shoe and went in to wash it in my bathtub.  Ants were crawling on my hand as I used baby shampoo - the handiest thing - to wash the shoe.  Susan comes in the bathroom and says, "George is eating the potpourri."  She is laughing.
I say, "Stop him, please!" and I go to check on George.  Kristen meets me in the kitchen and says, "I just dumped my tray of dessert all over the floor."  I told her to make more.  Margaret is asking me why George is spitting stuff out into the trash and I am looking for shoes for Elizabeth to wear - thankfully we wear the same size.  Her legs are ant bitten but she says she is fine.
The garlic bread is burning in the oven and Shirley (my mother in law) grabs a knife and begins to scrape all the black off the bread. Finally, we sit down to eat.  That's when I realize it.  Older people are really fun.  They are not phased when chaos happens.  The do not "lose it"...they laugh.  I love children...and that is what they are...big children.
The conversation at the table was quite note worthy.  George told us all how to clean Pampered Chef stoneware. Margaret and my mom told how to get rid of squirrels in the attic. Margaret and George explained how to cook squirrels.  Anna told us how to do everything.  She is one of those that has a remedy for putting castor oil on eyelids for dry eyes.
All in all it was an eventful, unforgettable, informative evening.  If I had not been here to witness it all, I might not believe that it all happened in such a short period of time.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!

Friday, December 7, 2012


I recently found a box in the bottom of one of my closets.  It was full of things I had taken out of my mom's cedar chest when she gave it to me - her keepsakes. I thought she would like to have them...since they are hers anyway. Even though she can no longer see, she remembered each item in detail.  A black Bible given to her by my grandmother, grandfather, and uncle.  An old math workbook dating back to 1942. Cards from each holiday...bags of them, belonging mostly to my grandmother, Bessie. (see post entitled Bessie) My birth announcement.  My grandpa's stamp book. A framed painting that my brother did.
Be still, my 'stationery' heart!
Moms keep things like that.  My children's keepsakes are in the attic in containers marked with their names...Lee, Luke, Jana, and Denny. Each one is filled with the secrets of younger days and younger ways.  Baseball cards, dolls, stuffed animals, school papers, achievements, trophies...small indicators of who they were and what they loved. Someday they will enjoy looking through those things, but until then, they will remain safe in my care.
It is easy to become attached to our possessions...our belongings.  They represent us in a way, telling our story back to ourselves lest we forget...and we do forget. Smells, pictures, books we read, can often take us to another time that we once visited.  As precious as our aging treasures might be to us, they will pale in comparison to the unfading, ageless, imperishable ones given by the Father. He keeps our treasures...laid up in heaven, where moth nor dust corrupts and where thieves do not break in and steal.  They are in His care, waiting for us.
No matter the gifts this Christmas - remember that these earthly things pass.  Eternal riches are just that...eternal.  The best Gift is the One that gives back timelessly. Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Words Fail Me...

Really, they do.  Tonight was the last practice before D-day...the last hurrah...the last hope for something that resembles order.  It just is not going to happen.  What will happen?  No one knows.
Here is a list of some of the things that might take place.
1. Mary will kiss the shepherd on the cheek. (I caught her just in time.)
2. We told the boys "no camo."  They argued, "but it's green!"
3. The angel will flap her wings and tell her brothers what to do while they are singing.
4. The aim-n-flame will not work for the candles.
5. Two of the three year olds will grab the mike and go for Elvis.
6. Etc,etc,etc.

And all will be well with the world and Christ will be glorified with the best we have to offer.


Simple word.  Magnificent meaning.  "A strong feeling of pleasure; gladness; happiness."  It is seldom used in our everyday language.  We use it much at Christmas.  We sing it often then.  It is so much bigger than our expression of it.  It wells inside until it bursts forth in praise to God.

John 15:11  These things I have spoken to you, that my JOY may be in you, and that your JOY may be full.  (See - JOY is to be is inside us.)

Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my JOY and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

James 1:2-3   Count it all JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Luke 2:10-12  And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great JOY that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song several years ago and the chorus is so beautiful..
What kind of JOY is this
That counts it a blessing to suffer?
What kind of JOY is this
That gives the prisoner a song?
What kind of JOY can stare death in the face,
And see it as sweet victory?
This is the JOY of a soul that's forgiven and free.

This is best kind of JOY.  It is the JOY that can be ours only through Christ's death, so it matters most.  The JOY at His birth was immense and immeasurable.  Great JOY are the best words to describe what was happening on that night in Bethlehem.  It would change the world.  Unspeakable JOY.  But His death brought another everlasting one.  It is my JOY and it can be yours, too.


Monday, December 3, 2012


Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus
Just when you thought you were in good shape physically, babysitting proves otherwise.  Just when you thought you had a grip on life, you find you have no grip on anything, and probably won't...without some kind of pain.  I kept three of my grandchildren overnight and we have had a busy the house due to rain. Now, I am fun.  Really, I am, but not after I have slept with Emma. No one really sleeps with Emma, except Emma. No way.  She steals into the room around 3 a.m. and asks if I will pray that she won't have bad dreams...and I do, but upon turning, she asks if she can sleep with me.  I in turn throw Tommy out and Emma gratefully and gleefully climbs over me and snuggles next to me...did I say next to me?  I meant not a flea could fit between us.
I stare at the numbers on the clock as they turn, minute by minute. It's 4:30 now.  She wakes at 6:45 and asks if she can get up.  I tell her no...until I decide she is better off in the other room and her life is spared for another day.  Tommy is my hero.  He knows I am needing a few minutes more of shut eye and I am grateful.  I have always been one that needs sleep to function, but I pray that our day will be full of fun things to do.
It is raining.  Hmmm...plan where did I put plan B?
Ok, we have dressed as Joseph, Mary, and Jesus...had a picnic on the living room rug, colored banners for me and mommy (who is frolicking in Chicago with my daughter), made magnets, watched a little tv, and sang our version of  'Carol of the Bells.'  Yes, we have some skills.  The thing is...I must have some kind of invisible stretchy string that connects me to them.  No matter where I go in the house, they appear with toys in tow.  Oh well, one day they won't want to sing with me, dance with me, color with me, help me feed fish, or type with me.  Bella is in my lap asking me why I am not typing the letter "B".  So there...I did.
Luke and Emma are at my feet on some kind of electronic gadget they are sharing.
Last night we went to Dairy Queen for ice cream and then to Deer Park's light show at City Hall.  It is outside and a yearly tradition for us.  I am posting pictures below of our fun.

Oh yes, and Emma wrote a letter to Flag, Uncle Luke's and Aunt Yuyu's dog...and we mailed it.

Luke and Emma said they were spies in Dairy Queen with fake noses and glasses.
Bella and Mimi

    My Carol of the Bells video would not post.  Too bad...        

Born to Die...and Still He Came

 From the moment Jesus was conceived and an actual being here on earth, His goal was to die.
Man is appointed once to dieHebrews 9:27-28   And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him) and from the moment we are all born, death is certain....(except in the event of Christ's return.)  Can we say death is our goal?  No, death is a 'later' thought.
  Jesus knew all along that His death was imminent, even planned since the beginning of time in heaven.  A death like no other....and still He came.  An innocent Baby, an innocent Child, an innocent Man.  And still He came...willingly, purposefully - yielded to a plan made by no man.
 What made Him do it?  Some things cannot be explained or grasped fully, at least by me.  I DO know that all the Father does is for His glory alone.  He is the Father.  He can do that.  Out of His mercy and loving kindness, He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross, bearing the sins of believers past, present, and future.  It took the shedding of blood to remove our sins from us.(Ephesians 1:7-8 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight )
 I don't know if Christ was really born on December 25th, February 1st, or the 4th of just doesn't matter.  What does matter is that He came.  He came to redeem lost souls - like me - that trust in Him.
 Jesus our Lord left the glories of Heaven in order to manifest the unfathomable love of God for man. He was born to die...and still He came.  That is why I celebrate Christmas....every day.  Won't you join me?

What Wondrous Love Is This

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!
American folk hymn

Thou who wast Rich Beyond All Splendor

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendor, all for love's sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender, sapphire paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who was rich beyond all splendor, all for love's sake becamest poor.
Frank Houghton


Saturday, December 1, 2012

More Play Practice

The picture of enthusiasm
Okay, so our Christmas play is about 9 days away with only one more practice....I shudder to think.  My choir director Amy agreed with me that this is the most unprepared we have felt about a Christmas play.  It will be interesting to say the least. It has been my experience that at times like this the only thing to do on as if anything that happens was exactly what we wanted to happen.  The children will be wonderful and they can really sing...if they can remember the words..and no, no sheet music allowed on stage.
We are doing an advent Christmas, with reading of the word, lighting of candles - (a real opportunity for disaster to step in), and one angel, one shepherd, and one wise man to represent all that went on surrounding the birth of Jesus. (The wise men actually did not show up for a couple of years later.)
So here are a few pictures of our most recent practice.  Pressing on...

Little ones signing "Away in a Manger"

Mary and Joseph

                    Some of the Readers and Candle Lighters

Matthew 18:3-4   "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.