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A Christmas Memory

I have a great memory of singing Christmas carols with my mom many Christmas Eves ago. No one else would sing with her so I jumped in and we belted out a few. Then she tucked me in bed to await Santa’s arrival. Funny the things you remember. Well, I may not be able to carry a tune but I can still have fun with those Christmas songs that I love.

christmas music

 

 

It was a Silent Night, a Holy Night

in that Little Town of Bethlehem

When Angels From the Realms of Glory

those Angels We Have Heard on High

“Hark!”, the shepherds look on high, “The Herald Angels Sing”

 

What Came Upon a Midnight Clearchristmas music2

as Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

a message of Emmanuel

who brings great Joy to the World

 

That First Noel, O Holy Night

When Unto Us a Child is Born

One Small Child, tucked Away in a Manger

joy to the worldAnd all the world, from shepherds to kings, rejoice!

O Come, Let Us Adore Him

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

who brings such Joy To all The World

 

 

 

We Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

The Carol of the Bells was played

so we Go, Tell it on the Mountains

“God sent us salvation, that blessed Christmas morn”

And brings us Joy, Joy to the World

christmas snowman

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Christmas shopping – done, Christmas baking next!

Christmas presents

My Christmas shopping is finished. Everything is wrapped and tucked away in various closets throughout the house. Not really hidden, just stashed in large bags in my bedroom or pushed into an already overstuffed closet. I am counting on everyone’s patience to wait for Christmas morning to open gifts and hoping they won’t peek under the wrappings and tissue paper. Now is the time that is most difficult for me. Shopping/wrapping done but a day or two early for baking. A day or two to be still and quiet and rest. Why is it so hard to stop spinning and just be still? Soon enough it will be Christmas with family and dinners and fun to be had but for now – be still and wait for God’s divine interruption.

Be still and know that I am God

Psalm 46:10

Shepherds on the hillside were quietly resting until their slumber was interrupted by a choir of angels. Joseph and Mary’s tiring journey was interrupted by sharp pains and a then a squalling baby. The Magi’s ordered life was interrupted by a shining star and the need to prepare for a long journey.

But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth be silent before him.

Habbakuk 3:3

 I am struggling to be still and not think of all those delicious cookies that I will be baking in just a few short days. Rather, I will try and focus on a God who reaches out to me. For now I will be quiet and read the Scriptures that tell the story. I will revel in the next few silent nights that allows me to rest up for the work He has prepared for me. For the celebrations that can be planned for as the Magi certainly did. For parties that will catch me by surprise. Those poor shepherds were still adjusting their eyes to the light as an incredible message was being delivered. Yet, they responded and ran into the village to celebrate what they barely understood. Even today, though I can barely understand what the Christmas truly means, I do know that it means I am loved and forgiven. I know that God interrupted that quiet night and changed the world in a way that is still sending ripples today. It has changed my life in ways that cause me to echo Mary’s words:

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

 Luke 1:46-7.

Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Nativity


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Doubts are easy – faith is hard

Mary on donkey

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished. 

Luke 1:45

These are some of Elizabeth’s words to her cousin Mary. Elizabeth, even as she draws closer to her due date is still amazed that God has shown her favor (Luke 1:25,43). I think that’s why I like Elizabeth. She has suffered much as a childless woman in that culture yet her faith and submission to God is inspiring as you watch it unfold in the Christmas story. She was clearly meant to be a role model and mentor for Mary during a scary and uncertain time and she steps up to the plate with quiet dignity and grace. Mary shows the same qualities when Gabriel visits her. She accepts, she adapts, she believes and then acts on what she has been told. These women still serve as role models today. They were women whose gentle strength is played out in the backdrop of the Judean countryside in a time when doubt was easy and faith was very hard. We need such role models today and I have been blessed to have met some in very illogical places in rather scary times. They have shown me that while doubt may be easy and faith is always hard, those doubts can serve a purpose. Elizabeth and Mary may have had their dark moments but those thoughts have not been recorded for us. Not in this story. But the Bible does tell the story of many others whose doubts were a part of their faith.  Doubts help us to sort out questions and fears. This questioning process can lead to a stronger faith which will become the start of a new life. At least, that’s the way it works for me.

So at this Christmas time I find myself thinking of the all the Elizabeth’s and Mary’s who have wandered through my life. I thank God for bringing them to me and for their faithfulness. I hope that I have done the same for others.

 


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I’ll be praying…

 

God-isnt-fixing-this-NY-Daily-News-JPG

To be truthful, this headline irritated me even while I could sympathize. I have those friends, who, when things are difficult, will place a hand on my arm and say, “I’m praying you.” I find it very comforting but the truth is that there are times when I could use something more concrete to help get through a crisis. Headlines like this echo that sentiment. People are saying that as nice as it is that our leaders have compassion with those who are suffering, we need action and we need it now. I agree. I get it, but the frustration that so many of us are feeling is not because we want action. It is due to our lack of understanding of a simple thing like prayer.

Many times I have offered to pray when I feel that it is all I can offer. My dear friend recently had surgery nearly 3,000 miles away from me. I couldn’t be with her physically but I was at her side in prayer as she healed. There have been times when I hear of a problem but I do not have a close friendship with the person so I feel awkward not knowing what may be needed or if my help would even be welcomed. These are times when you may feel that all you have is a prayer, but don’t discount that prayer. Sometimes we forget that there is great power in prayer.

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 

James 5:16b

Sadly, prayers can be hollow and empty if they are not backed up by action. At some point, I will find that I have to get up off my knees and put hands and feet to those prayers. Prayer should be a foundation of our actions and not the action itself. Prayer should be the start of each day and form a framework for us to work within. If our compassion starts in the heart of a prayer, then it will surface in our actions throughout that day. But if our compassion starts and ends in a prayer that we never act upon, it will fail and wither before its promise can be played out.

One more point, if I may. Prayers that are driven by compassion and a heart to help are formidable but let’s not forget how prayers should start. That helping heart must also be a humble heart, not looking for its own glory but following God’s leading. Your plans, as wonderful as they may be, must give way when God’s hands point you elsewhere. Humble yourself and seek God through prayer to find direction before taking that next step.

If my people, who are called by my name,prayer

will humble themselves and pray

 and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,

 then I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

I can understand the public anger when so many atrocities have bloodied our world. We want to see our leaders stand up and defend us. We long for the hate and fear of these days to be nothing but a memory. Let us be a country where our actions and our leader’s actions start with humble hearts leading to sincere prayers. Ask God to show us how to turn our prayerful words to actions. Don’t let this mocking headline deter us from praying – praying earnestly to a compassionate God who longs to hear from His children.