Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Making All Things New

Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

I'm game.  How about you?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

We Don't Have It That Bad

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
 She wrapped him in cloths 
and placed him in a manger, 
because there was no guest room available for them.
Luke 2:6-7

My daughter and I were talking the other day about the delivery of her first child.  The hospital was so crowded that they sent her home to wait out her intense labor.  When she couldn't stand it anymore, they went back to the hospital, waited in the waiting room a long while and then in the hall and finally in a partitioned room with about three others...all in labor.  Everything worked well, praise the Lord, and she delivered a beautiful little girl.
When I think of those circumstances as compared with the birth of Christ, I realized that she really didn't have it "that" bad.

  I'll can never begin to understand the emotions that must have swept over Mary at her first child's birth...not at all what she had dreamed...not at all what the picture above depicts.  Yet, in that humble and very dirty cattle stall, she delivered 
The Mighty King.

Antique Christmas card from personal files

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Finding the Peace

As the deer pants for streams of water, 
so my soul pants for you, my God.
Psalm 47:1

In all the bustle of the Christmas season, I get way too busy...yet that still, small voice continues to call me to find rest in Him.  When I take the time, I'm quenched.  He remains faithful to his Word.  It's me that is the problem.  I hope you find that rest as well.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Lights of Christmas

Christmas Lights:

The lights in the eyes of a sweet granddaughter just turned seven;

the first Christmas lights seen by a six month old, the baby of a dear friend;

the lights and delights of remembering loved ones who now live with the Lord.

Christmas carries many joys...and sorrows...
 but it's still Christmas, 
the birth of God's only Son, Jesus.
On With The Celebration!

Photos from the personal files of Jennie Hughes and Jennifer Ragan.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How Majestic!

Picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr
earthincolors free pictures

Lord, our Lord, 
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
What is mankind that you are mindful of them,

    human beings that you care for them?
Psalm 8:1,4

In scouring Flickr for photos of winter...a most glorious season...I found this one that I think is outstanding.  Lo and behold, it is taken in Norway...the country of my roots.  Yes, the photographer is amazing but God is Majestic.  Without Him he wouldn't have this photograph.  Enjoy the beauty around you, friends, for we have a creator who loves us.Read the sermon by Ben Mandrell from whom my idea for this post came here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Feeling Insignificant?

Bethlehem today

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.
Micah 5:2

Never underestimate the Lord.  The smallest may become the greatest.  The least of all may become the most.  Just when you think you have nothing to give, God gives you abundant blessings.  When you have been spent, He renews your strength.  When you have lost all hope, He gives you a purpose.  When you feel your prayers are hitting the ceiling and going no further, God amazes you with himself...
just like Bethlehem. 

Who would have thought?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Where Is Integrity?

God is very forthright when He speaks about honesty and integrity.  It's very difficult to find a person as described by the Psalmist in the passage below.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
    Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
    but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
    and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
    will never be shaken.
Psalm 15

I was reading a sermon about Ananias and Sapphira and how they tried to trick the disciples into believing they did what they had promised.  It's found in Acts 5:1-11.  God does not take lying lightly.
You can read the sermon here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Family Fun...or Is It?

I will commit myself to you forever; 
I will commit myself to you 
in righteousness and justice, 
in steadfast love and 
tender compassion.
Hosea 2:19

I love Christmas. This is a photo taken about 5 years ago. Boy, have things changed. We've added two more and another is on the way.  
Just being with family members is so much fun.  We play, tell stories about our lives, eat, share presents and laugh until our cheeks hurt.  We get along well but no one is perfect.  Sometimes there are misunderstandings, struggling over toys, feeling sorry to lose a game or even some resentment.  We try to remember that love should be "steadfast"...never failing...the love that comes from Christ.  It's the glue that keeps our family together...that common bond.  It takes commitment and compassion to be a loving family...and sometimes sacrifice...but it's worth it.

We're looking forward to being with all of these lovely people some time during the Christmas season.  I can't wait to see each one.  

Photo from my personal files.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


The tempest comes out from its chamber,
    the cold from the driving winds.
The breath of God produces ice....
Job 37 8-9

This is actually a picture of an ice storm we had last year on the path we walk behind our house.  So far we've escaped the worst of the tempest.  Another is to come tonight after a predicted cold but sunny day.
I'm thankful for winter.  It's time.  God has it all arranged so I'm all in.

Photo from my personal files.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Fading Leaves

You will be like an oak with fading leaves,
like a garden without water.
Isaiah 1:30

The leaves are almost gone.  Summer has past into Autumn and Autumn into Winter. 

It is supposed to be 70 here today and then we'll have a cold blast with all the vestiges of Winter. 

 Things don't last long so I'll enjoy each as it comes.  I'll praise the Lord as He has given me breath to do so. 

Photo is from my personal files.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Meeting the Neighbors

 Love your neighbor as yourself.
 I am the Lord.
Leviticus 19:18

We've invited our neighborhood to our house tonight to meet them and share Luke 2 together.  Of course, I'll have food. 
 I've really stepped up lately with hospitality (a weakness of mine in the past) and because I haven't been crafting as much as usual, I've been able to keep my house in pretty good shape...neat-wise.
We've lived here a year this month and have only met a few of our neighbors.  Everyone seems to be cloistered and not too friendly.  I guess they've heard about us Northerners invading their neighborhood...or that my husband is a minister.  Whatever the reason, we're reaching out.  May the Lord be honored.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Seeing The Light

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

Looking forward to the coming of Christ.
  He brought me out of my darkness into His glorious light. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

So whether you eat or drink 
or whatever you do,
 do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

I'm so thankful that we will be able to have some of our immediate family here for thanksgiving dinner today.
I'm so thankful for our family.
The scripture is my reminder to not overdo the eating portion of thanksgiving day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Not Just Saying It

 Let the message of Christ
 dwell among you richly 
as you teach and admonish one another 
with all wisdom 
through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, 
singing to God
 with gratitude in your hearts.
Colossians 3:16

I've been around 10 of my 14 grandchildren this week and have observed the teaching of Thankfulness.  I remember doing the same things...instilling the politeness of saying "thank you."
True thankfulness, however, comes from the heart.  When one is truly thankful, even the little things have mega-meaning.  Thankfulness should be genuine and not just superficial...not that teaching politeness is not important, it is.  The world is way too impolite today and saying "thank you" does make one aware of another's acts of goodness.  True thankfulness, on the other hand, can only be experienced through the working of God in one's heart.  
I'm going to try and find the simple things for which I'm thankful...things I take for granted on a day to day basis...like a simple breakfast...so basic yet enjoyed.  Everything I have comes from God, even the bad things, I just don't acknowledge His goodness enough.

By the way, Lord, I'm really thankful that I was able to be with those 10 grandchildren and thankful for the 4 I didn't get to see...
what gifts!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Family Roots

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,
 continue to live your lives in him, 
 rooted and built up in him, 
strengthened in the faith as you were taught,
 and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7

Looking forward to this Thanksgiving season. 
 We'll see many kiddos soon. 
 I'm truly thankful to God.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Practicing Messiah

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.
Psalm 95:1-2

Our church choir is performing Messiah for our Christmas offering this year.  I'm playing the organ, a very insignificant base to the orchestra but it still is taking a lot of practice.  It's not time to play with the choir yet so in the meantime, I'm singing with them.  It helps me to get the tempo of each section and learn the nuances of the conductor.  I never get tired playing or singing Messiah, though the practice is demanding.  This will be the first time I've ever played with an orchestra and I will only have one session with them before the dress rehearsal with the choir so everything has to be performance-ready--no pressure here.
Like all my musical endeavors the past year and a half, I've called on God to help me concentrate and learn.  I feel it is important to present the best I can because what I do is an offering to God for His goodness in letting me still be involved in His work.  Practicing Messiah is one of them.
Come to think of it, all Christians need to "practice Messiah."  We need to live a life of Christ in all we do even though it is tedious at times.  Everything we do is an offering to Him for all He's done for us.
Off to the organ.

Photo Credit: bigbirdz -- Pyungam Church Gloria Choir

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Let the Earth Be Glad

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
    let the distant shores rejoice.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all peoples see his glory.
Psalm 97:1, 5-6

I'm praising the Lord today for his glorious earth.  I take too much for granted and sometimes forget that God rules.  He can even bring mountains to rubble if He so chooses.  I'm happy I have a house and family today and thank God for His wonderful graciousness.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Blessed Be Your Name

"...Every blessing you pour out 
I'll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord,
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Blessed be your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Blessed be your glorious name..."

Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.  You are the Lord God.

Nehemiah 9:5-7

Devastating storms hit Illinois and Indiana yesterday leading to death and destruction.  One was very close to where we lived in Central Illinois for 17 years and two were in Southern Illinois, both close to where we were raised.
How does one bless God in such circumstances?
According to the scriptures...you just do.
He is the author of our lives and knew the day we were born and the day we will leave this earth.  Everything is in His hands and he has dominion over all of it.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.