12.31.2008

Praying in the name of Jesus

This morning I read an article that talked about the uproar over the possibility of Pastor Rick Warren praying in the name of Jesus Christ at President-elect Barack Obama's invocation.


What is the point in leaving Jesus out?

...that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10)

Is that what people fear when they hear the name of Jesus? Truly - if Jesus was just "a first century Rabbi" why the outrage at hearing His name in public? Is it the separation of church and state? Perhaps those who use that argument should consider the possibility they've misinterpreted Thomas Jefferson's use of that phrase and what the first amendment actually says. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." So...if there is no law against praying the name of Jesus in public (and unless you want to break the Constitution, one shouldn't be drafted), why get yourself in a tizzy for what amounts to a few seconds in time? Truly...we don't have bigger problems to solve?

This country was founded ON Judeo-Christian principles (that is NOT to say everyone has to be a Christian). The families who set sail on the Mayflower were looking for a place where they could openly worship the God they served without fear of persecution. This country has always opened its doors and arms to people of every faith - no matter how misguided some may feel a particular faith is.

Personally, I do care whether or not you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I do want you to see Him as the Savior He is. I pray every day for those who don't that their eyes would be opened. However - I also know that simply saying the name of Jesus does not require you to believe that He is who I say He is. Who am I? No one. Only God has the power to change hearts, no one person does. Rick Warren is not going to convert you if he prays for the President in the name of Jesus. Regardless of whatever your fear (he isn't going to turn your children into mindless Jesus-zealots, either), he does not have that power.


Rick Warren is praying for President Barack Obama and our country as a whole. Not you as an individual. So...instead of yelling and screaming about the use of what is to you, ultimately, just a name - take that energy you're building as anger and turn it into something more positive. Go volunteer at your local Boys & Girls Club. Clean a park. Visit a nursing home. Do something that truly matters.

After all...if Jesus Christ really isn't the Son of God, it's just a name.

I'm just grateful I live in a country where I have the freedom to write what I just wrote. I can look up Bible verses and quote them. I can respectfully listen to your point of view and disagree. Perhaps we should look to what it means that he can speak the name of Jesus in public like that - there are so many places around the world where speaking against the government line means imprisonment or worse.

Tolerance - if you want it - must be extended as well. If not, you are a hypocrite.

May you be blessed. In the name of Jesus Christ, the one and only begotten Son of God.

12.27.2008

New Year's Meditations

NewYear

Laurel at Laurel Wreaths Reflections is hosting a New Year's Meditations. She's not looking for resolutions but hopes, desires, dreams for 2009. Click on the button above to find out what she's talking about.

For me, for 2009... I have been praying over this and thinking about this for the last several weeks. Thoughts are starting to formulate but I think I'll let them go a little bit longer until I have them sorted out in a way where I can actually communicate them.


Sometime between January 1 and 7 I'll hopefully get them down concretely enough to share!


In the meantime, check out Laurel's blog.

Have a blessed day!

12.25.2008

For unto us is born...

For unto you is born this day in the
city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord. ~Luke 2:11

Can you imagine that first Christmas? I try but I'm certain I come up short. The sights, the sounds, the smells... How did Joseph and Mary take it in? Did they understand all that was happening to and around them? What did their conversation with the shepherds sound like? How about when the Wise Men arrived - were Joseph and Mary surprised that the birth of Jesus elicited such a response even so long after that amazing night? Did it give them an inkling of what was to come? What happened in the intervening years - what did God tell them as Jesus grew? How did they feel as each of their additional children were born? Did they ever stop being in awe of who their firstborn was?

On and on and on my questions run. I can't imagine their life as "mundane" but I know those mundane, routine "life" things had to take place. Work needed doing, the house needed repairing, food needed fixing, children needed schooling, the weeds needed pulling... The list could grow quite long but what was it like, in the midst of all of that, to remember you were living with the Son of the Most High every day? To wait with expectation for "the" day that you knew God would choose to do whatever miracle you imagined He was going to do. The "saving" you knew was coming because, well, here was His Son as the proof.

This Christmas things have been different. My weeknights have been spent at home, quietly with my family, as we watch snowflake after snowflake blanket our homes, yards and roads. Driving has only been by necessity - to work (arriving late, leaving early) and home. That's it. Seattle is not a place that gets more than 3"-4" of snow at a time and then it's gone in two days. Since December 14th, it has snowed or been icy every day. My van hasn't moved out of the driveway in that entire time. I've relied on the kindness and indulgence of my husband to drive me to and from work every day.

So, this week, my thankful list revolves around those reminders that the importance of every day is not in whether or not I have the perfect gift for under the tree but instead that I spend time in the presence of my Saviour, who humbled Himself and came to earth as a baby all those many, many nights ago. Does it matter if it was actually December 25? No. It matters that He came and it matters that I never take that for granted.

I'm not sure I can even type my gratitude as a list this week. It is, instead, an overwhelming feeling that brings goosebumps to my arms and tears to my eyes. I am so incredibly in love with Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for and awed by our Father who has a plan for ALL of His Creation (...but when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law... ~Galatians 4:4), where each part of His plan happens in its "fullness of time," prescribed by God. Not a moment before and not a moment late and always in perfection. I am so amazed - and incredibly grateful - for the Holy Spirit who agrees to dwell within me, with all of my imperfections and constant "ick," loves me and guides me to follow the God I choose to serve. Gratitude that extends to the ability to make that choice - God gives us the free will to choose or not choose Him every moment we take breath. To add amazement to the wonder, He welcomes us back with open arms every single time we realize we have strayed off of the path that the choice to choose Him means we take.

What it cost Jesus to give up His position in the kingdom of God for the time He was on this earth is something I can't even begin to imagine. The love it took to go from Begotten Son of God to the cross is unfathomable. Yet the joy I feel because I know He did...

We sing "Joy to the world, the Lord is come... let earth receive her King... let every heart, prepare Him room... and heaven and nature sing. He rules the world with truth and grace... and makes the nations prove... the glory of His righteousness... and wonders of His love..."

We sing that at the top of our lungs, with music as powerful as we can make it and when I hear it that way I think I get a glimpse of the praise of heaven.
And I am thankful for that first Christmas.

May you and yours be blessed. Don't forget to pop over and read more Thankful Thursday posts; join Iris over at Grace Alone...


12.24.2008

Day 24 - Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve. Tonight, the world always has an expectant hush about it. It holds its breath. Tomorrow is the day... He came to earth, born a baby, laid in a manger. He came to fulfill the purpose of His Father and from the moment He was born, that is what He did.

Beautiful. Perfect. Savior.


That expectant hush...

Silent Night
The music we know so well: Stille Nacht, Franz Gruber (1787-1863)
The lyrics we love so dearly: Joseph Mohr (1792-1849)

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
'Round yon virgin mother and Child,
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heav'nly peace,
Sleep in heav'nly peace.

Silent night! Holy night!

Shepherd's quake at the sight,
Glories stream from heav'n afar,
Heav'nly hosts sing alleluia;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night! Holy night!

Son of God, love's pure light,
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

12.23.2008

Day 23 - O Come All Ye Faithful

This is a Christmas hymn I'm sure almost everyone has heard and knows by heart - at least the first verse. The other three may be tricky but you've probably heard them, too. I can't sing this song without crying tears of joy. The words just draw me to the feet of Jesus and I worship Him with utter abandon and complete adoration. I love that God loves us enough to do what He has done and continues to do and I am dwarfed by it, overwhelmed by it and in total awe of it.

O Come, All Ye Faithful... (John Francis Wade 1711-86)

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;

O Come, let us adore Him; O Come, let us adore Him
O Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

True God of True God, Light from Light eternal,

For lo, He shuns not the virgin's womb;
Only begotten Son of the Father;

O Come, let us adore Him; O Come, let us adore Him
O Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation!

O sing, all ye citizens of heav'n above;
"Glory to God, all glory in the highest";

O Come, let us adore Him; O Come, let us adore Him
O Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord we greet thee, born this happy morning,

O Jesus, to thee be all glory giv'n;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:

O Come, let us adore Him; O Come, let us adore Him

O Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.


How I pray you come together and adore Him this season. May you be blessed beyond all imagination!

12.22.2008

Day 22

Thy Little Ones, Dear Lord, Are We

Text: Hans Adolph Brorson (1694-1764) translated by Harriet Reynolds Krauth Spaeth (1898)

Thy little ones, dear Lord, are we

And come Thy lowly bed to see;
Enlighten every soul and mind,
That we the way to Thee may find.

O draw us wholly to Thee, Lord,

Do Thou to us Thy grace accord,
True faith and love to us impart
That we may hold Thee in our heart.

Until at last we too proclaim

With all Thy saints Thy glorious name;
In paradise our songs renew,
And praise Thee as the angels do.

12.21.2008

The Saga Continues

It seems like the snow will NEVER end. I can't recall the last time I've seen so much snow in one place. If it's been since 1996 or 97, I'd be surprised. That winter we had roofs collapsing on carports and boat marinas from the weight of all of the snow. The water, when that melted, was almost knee deep in places. This, I think, is going to rival that year. I cleared about 3 inches off the mirror on my van last night and there looks to be another 5-6 inches on it tonight. It has barely stopped snowing all day and about an hour ago the snow seemed to be mixed with rain. Perfect... Get it all sopping wet and then it will freeze overnight. Hopefully, though, it melts off almost as fast as it came and we can get back to our normal winter. Rain. Rain. Rain.

In the meantime, a few more pictures from our last few days...






My Rhododendrum outside the front door.




Normally, on my snowman lights, you can see the base of them and part of the post that sticks into the ground...




The birds are greatly appreciating the seed in the feeders. They usually take off before I can get a "group shot" but there are normally 6-10 of them at the feeder at a time.




This post in the backyard usually holds a birdbath. That blew off in one of the windy winter storms so the base that holds the bath is now holding snow.

Day 21 - Christmas is Coming!

Welcome, Yule! From "Salvator Mundi"

Text: Anonymous (15th century)


Welcome, Yule, in glad array,

In worship of this holiday.

Welcome be thou, Heaven's King,

Welcome, y-born on this morning.
Welcome to thee now will we sing:
Welcome Yule, forever and aye.

Welcome be thou, Mary mild,

Welcome be thou and thy child;
From the fiend thou us shield:
Welcome, Yule, forever and aye.

Welcome be thou, good New Year,

Welcome the twelve days before.
Welcome be ye that all be here:
Welcome, Yule, forever and aye.

Welcome be ye, Lord and Lady,

Welcome be all this company;
For Yules love now, make-is merry!
Welcome, Yule, forever and aye.

Noel.

12.20.2008

Day 20 - Dancing

Oh how I love to dance. Always have. Never had lessons and always wish I had. However - lack of instruction has never kept me from dancing as though noone was watching. For today:

TOMORROW SHALL BE MY DANCING DAY

Traditional English Carol, 1833; arr. Howard Helvey (b. 1968)

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance:

Sing O my love, O my love, my love, my love;

This have I done for my true love.

Thus was I born of a Virgin pure,

Of her I took fleshly substance;
Thus was I knit to man's nature,
To call my true love to my dance:

In a manger laid and wrapped I was,

So very poor, this was my chance,
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass,
To call my true love to my dance.

12.19.2008

Day 19 - Another Song

With only six days to go, I am starting to feel a bit pressured to get things together. I started early and then stalled out about October (when I got sick) and haven't really picked back up the pace. After all, the Christmas tree just got set up in our home on Wednesday and we didn't jump to decorate it. Odd for us.

The lyrics to this song remind me, though, that it absolutely is not about the packages I wrap, the tree I decorate or the garland I put on my fireplace. This season is about gratefulness to Jesus that He would come to earth, give up His heavenly position for the position of baby, dependent upon His mother and earthly father. What a gloriously beautiful picture is woven as you wander through the story of Christ. I pray these lyrics touch you, too.

In Dulci Jubilo
Text: Traditional German Carol
It was sung in English and Latin

In dulci jubilo (In sweet joy)

Let us our homage shew;
Our heart's joy reclinet (rests)
In praesepio, (In the manger,)
And like a bright star shineth,
Matris in gremio, (In Mother's lap.)
Alpha est et O. (You are the beginning and end.)

O Jesu parvule! (O little Jesus!)

My heart is sore for thee!
Hear me, I beseech thee,
O Puer optime! (O good child!)
My prayer let it reach thee,
O Princeps gloriae! (O foremost in glory!)
Trahe me post te! (Draw me next to you!)

O Patris caritas, (O Father of love,)

O Nati lenitas! (O Birth of softness/gentleness!)
Deep were we stained
Per nostra crimina; (Through our crimes;)
But thou has for us gained
Coelorum gaudia. (Joy of heaven.)
O that we were there!

Ubi sunt gaudia, (Where are joys,)

If that they be not there?
There are angels singing
Nova cantica, (New songs,)
And there the bells are ringing
In Regis curia: (In the King's court:)
O that we were there!

12.18.2008

A Day At Home

You know - Sunday was a day like today minus the missed responsibilities. Aaron & I both skipped work today. Actually, Aaron & Bruce made a command decision to close the shop for the day. I know - we live close but 164th has been a nightmare all week, add to it about 4 inches of snow (maybe more - I'm horrible about that) and we just weren't going to fight it today. From what we've been told, it was a good plan.

Instead, we stayed home. Watched the kids play in the snow and then save a few birds, finished the tree and I've suffered through a Star Wars marathon. It's been good. Real good. I think this is why God lets it snow here so much sometimes... make us all just... stop for a day and He sticks us together. We should do it more often.

The birds - C1, T & C2 had all gone to C2's school to do some sledding. On the way home they saw that they thought were a pile of leaves. Turned out to be several of these little yellow & brown birds. Not that I know what they are but probably some sort of finch. Unfortunately, a lot of them had succumbed to the weather and the others were... well... not doing well. The boys rescued five of them and it seems all five were doing well. Two of them flew away before they got them home, two more shortly after I took these pictures and the last two at some point later (we put those two in a box, put them in C2's fort out back and left them to warm up on their own. I did put some birdseed out & we have suet in the trees so hopefully we are helping our area bird population.



A few other pictures from today...









Day 18 - from Luke and Thankful Thursdays - Random

Iris, at Grace Alone... is hosting Thankful Thursday again this week. I learned we're going to do Thankful Thursday on Christmas, too! YAYY!!!! What a day to share our gratefulness!


She chose random as this week's topic. I love random. Random has me thinking back over my life in the last week and reminding me of big and little blessings God pours on me so abundantly.

1. I am thankful for the blogging community and everyone I have "met" online. The wisdom, thoughfulness and ideas I have read and learned about in this last year have been amazing. In addition to that, I have been so blessed by comments people have left when they have stopped by to say "hello."

2. I am thankful for the snow this week. Yes - it puts a crimp in schedules and makes life a bit more difficult but it also slows things down. You start to figure out what is truly important and leave the non-essential stuff alone.

3. I am thankful for Proverbs 31:20 Ministry and for the opportunity to serve with it. Last Saturday we hosted our annual Spirit of Christmas luncheon where we served almost 300 women and children from area homeless shelters and as it always is, it was an amazing blessing to see just how loved these women felt and to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their
oh so hurt lives.

4. I am thankful for my Lifegroup. Those people who come to our house Thursday evening after Thursday evening and dive into God's Word together. An awesome, incredible and amazing group of people. I love each one of them and am so grateful to God for bringing us together.

5. I am thankful for my dog. In an age of such available media when you hear of so many problems with animals and the heated opinions on both sides - leash or no leash, animals trained "mean" who attack, etc., I am thankful for a dog who will do whatever is necessary to protect his family. While I can't prove it because I do not know if this was their intent, I believe my dog protected me from men who meant harm when they came to my front door. His size, his growl, his teeth all gave pause to a young man and his partner and I believe I was spared something evil when it happened. He is a wonderful, sweet dog to us and our friends but I know he will do what it takes to protect us if needed.

6. I am thankful for both of my sons. Individual and unique but bonded as only brothers can be. I am so grateful to God for His gift.

7. I am grateful for my husband. In my crankiness and shortness this last week (I may love the snow but I am not fond of "forced" dependence), he loves me and is so incredibly patient with me.

8. Last but oh so not least, I am thankful to the God who created me, the Son who gave His life for me and the Holy Spirit who guides me. Without them, I am utterly nothing.

Please read on for Day 18 and scripture from the gospel of Luke. Also, head over to Grace Alone... for other Thankful Thursday posts.
One aspect I love about Christ's birth - God made sure the shepherds, who would have been considered the poorest and lowliest of the poor and low, were told of Christ's birth just as He made sure the Wise Men, who were kings/brilliant/rich men of their time knew of it. Christ was born not just to those with education, wealth or status but for all men - no matter their rank, position or job. Not a single detail is missed by God. Not one.

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom He favors!"

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

~Luke 2:1-20

12.17.2008

Day 17 - Love Came Down at Christmas

LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son... John 3:16
Love came down at Christmas,
love all lovely, love divine
love was born at Christmas -
star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus -
What shall be our sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
love be yours and mine;
love to God and neighbor,
love of prayer and gift and sign.

~Christina Rossetti (1830-94)

12.16.2008

Day 16 - Prayer!

It is easy, I think, to struggle with prayer. I know I do, all the time. It starts out well enough, I'm spending my quiet time praying and listening, reading the Bible. I pray when I'm in the car, I'm praying over everything and then I start oversleeping, or forgetting to pray before I do something, don't pray over a decision I need to make... and then I start forgetting to thank God for His blessings. After a while, I'm feeling distant from God and convicted for ignoring Him.
Thank goodness He is so patient with me and forgiving. As we walk through this Christmas season, let us pray a grateful prayer for a Son willing to give up all He had and who He was for us.

Celbration: The World Transformed

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive Him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold Him when He comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen ~Book of Common Prayer (1979)

12.15.2008

Christmas Meme

*scroll to next post down for Day 15 of the Christmas sharing*


Melanie at Fruits of the Spirit stopped by and commented on my snow pictures so...I headed over to her blog to read up a bit. I hadn't stopped by since Thankful Thursday. Her post on Saturday was a quick Christmas Meme and I decided to play along. She tagged everyone who wanted to play so...I'm going for it.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Most of the time - Hot Chocolate. I like Egg Nog and have a glass or two now and then but I'd rather have Hot Chocolate.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Definitely wraps!!!! He has his own separate paper and everything.

3. Colored lights on house/tree or white? Colored.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Yes - but it's fake and it doesn't hang right over a door. Haven't been kissed under it yet.

5. When do you put your decorations up? The Friday & weekend after Thanksgiving.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Stuffing. I love, love, LOVE it and it shows up twice a year (Thanksgiving & Christmas). A close second would be brussel sprouts (yes. I love the little green things)

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? It would have to be when my Nana & Pop-Pop showed up at our house. I loved being around them. Christmas is still wonderful but different since they're gone.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I honestly can't remember. I think I learned because my brother asked - I was probably prepared to believe forever.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Now we do because we spend Christmas Eve at my mother-in-law's house. We never did growing up, though.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? With ornaments given to us as we grew up. My grandmother (same Nana mentioned earlier) used to buy us an ornament every year. She bought them from the same woman for years, too. We have very few duplicates. Once I got married, my husband's decorations have been added into the mix. There is no theme but there are a lot of cherished memories hanging on our tree!

11. Snow. Love it or dread it? I DREAD it!!!! Absolutely, positively dread it. I was in a car accident in January, 1990 and you would think after almost 19 years I'd have recovered but... nope. Still panic at the thought of being behind the wheel with snow on the ground - even if the roads are clear.

12. Can you ice skate? No. Tried to learn when I was a kid. Went twice. Never been again.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? There are several over the years but I'll say year before last when oldest son took youngest son and had their pictures done together. The pictures are awesome and that my oldest put such effort into his gift for us.... blew me away.

14. What is the most important thing about the holidays for you? Reminding others and being reminded that it is the birth of Christ we celebrate. While it is not Scripture normally quoted at Christmastime, Phillipans 2:5-11 says it so eloquently: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Spritz Cookies!!!

Day 15 - From Heaven on High

Words do not describe my amazement every time I think of Jesus giving up all He had and was in Heaven to come to earth and do what He did. It is so humbling I can't hardly raise my head under the weight of it. If you do not know Him, do not pass up the chance to get to know Him. He is life changing, life altering, life affirming, life itself. Nothing compares. I pray you are blessed by these words I have been sharing from Seattle Pacific University's Sacred Sounds of Christmas.

From Heaven on High (From "Von Himmel Hoch")
Music: VON HIMMEL HOCH, Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Setting: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47)
Text: Martin Luther, translation David Anderson

From heav'n on high to you I come,
I bring good news to ev'ry home;
The joyful news to you I bring,
Thereby I say and now shall sing.

Here is a little child now born

Of tender maiden, so forlorn;
A little child, so sweet and fine,
Who's all our joy and bliss divine.

Praise, hail our God on highest throne,

Who for us gave His only Son!
With joy now sing with angels clear,
And bring to all a glad New Year!

12.14.2008

Winter Has Arrived

*scroll down for Day 14 in my Christmas sharing*

I live in Washington State. There isn't a lot of "winter" during our winter. Normally. They are saying, though, that we are in for the worst cold snap since 1990 and the second since they started keeping records in 1949 (or 40, I can't remember now). Anyhow... the cold arrived last night and it brought a little bit of snow. And a lot of ice. We'll see how long I'm housebound because of it. Trust me - I'm not complaining about that idea!!! I'm always grateful for a day or so of forced time around my house. I love it here and rarely get to spend a lot of time in it. Today, everyone is home. Hot chocolate and Charlie Brown Christmas here I come...






Day 14 - The Perfect Rose

There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue
Text: Anonymous (15th century)


There is no rose of such virtue,
As is the rose that bare Jesu.
Alleluia.

For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space.
Resmiranda. (A thing to be marveled at)

By that rose we may well see
There be on God in persons three.
Pares forma. (of equal form)

The angels sung the shepherds to.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gaudeamus. (Les us rejoice)

Now leave we all this wordly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth.
Transeamus. (Let us cross over.)

12.13.2008

Day 13

LIRUM, LIRUM
Text: Traditional English Carol

You that watch your flocks by night,
Blinded by a radiant light,
See the child of David's line
Lirum, Lirum.

Heavens rejoicing,
Angels are voicing,
Shepherds, do not tarry,
He comes for all mankind.
Lirum, Lirum

Ancient kings from lands afar,
Guided by the Eastern star,
Bring your gifts of rarest prize.
Lirum, Lirum.
Prophets foretelling,
In humble dwelling,
See the mother Mary,
Her son in manger lies.
Lirum, Lirum.

12.12.2008

Day 12 - lyrics

How Sweet is Love
Text: Dutch Carol (1599), translation by R.C. Trevelyan (1872-1951)

A Child is born in Bethlehem;

Awaiteth Him all Jerusalem.

Amor, amor, quam dulcis est amor (Love, love, how sweet is love.)

The angels above were singing then;

Below were rejoicing the shepherd men.

Now let us all with angels sing;
Yea, now let our hearts for gladness spring.

12.11.2008

Day 11 - Reading & Thankful Thursday - Praise

This Thursday's Thankful Thursday topic on Grace Alone... is praise. Iris makes the point that we are to praise God not for our circumstances but in our circumstances. The verse she references:
"I love you, O Lord, my strength.The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,and I am saved from my enemies.”~ Psalm 18:1-3
...reminds me that no matter how strong the storm gets, the Lord is my rock, my shelter, my refuge and if I remain in Him, I can weather anything. I can't do it on my own.
So ~ with that in mind, this week, I am thankful for...
1. A Lord who listens. Who knows. Who understands and who loves. He is bigger and stronger than anything I could possibly have to face and I am so incredibly thankful He is there.
2. A country where I can freely worship Him. I know it is starting to feel tougher and tougher to do but I know men and women in other countries who have been pulled from their homes, beaten and thrown in jail for 3 years. They spent their time in prison praising God and coming out of prison, they were praising God.
3. A home to welcome people into as a place to share the love of God and the gift and love of Jesus Christ. When my husband and I were looking to purchase our home, we prayed God would lead us to a home He would use. It is His, we are only stewards and we do with it what He wills. I am so incredibly grateful, though, He chose us for our home.
4. A voice to sing praises to Him. I sing - I sing a lot. I'm not very good at it but I sing anyway. I sing in my car, in my office, in my shower... I sing. All praises to Him.
5. That I am made in the likeness of God. I am created in His image. There is no greater flattery.
With that said, here is today's Christmas "sharing." Don't forget to check out the other Thankful Thursday posts! Blessings.
From On the Incarnation by Athanasius (293-373)
What, then, was God to do? What else could He possibly do, being God, but renew His Image in humankind, so that through it all might once more come to know Him? And how could this be done save by the coming of the very Image Himself, our Savior Jesus Christ? Human beings could not have done it, for they are only made after the Image; nor could angels have done it, for they are not the images of God. The Word of God came in His own Person, because it was He alone, the Image of the Father Who could recreate all humans made after the Image.

In order to effect this re-creation, however, He had first to do away with death and corruption. Therefore He assumed a human body, in order that in it death might once for all be destroyed and that all might be renewed according to the Image. The Image of the Father only was sufficient for this need.

12.10.2008

Day 10 - Sermon 187

He by whom all things were made was made one of all things.
The Son of God by the Father without a mother became
the Son of man by a mother without a father.
The Word Who is God before all time became flesh at the appointed time.
The maker of the sun was made under the sun.
He Who fills the world lay in a manger, great in the form of God
but tiny in the form of a servant; this was in such a way that neither was
His greatness diminished by His tininess,
nor was His tininess overcome by His greatness.


~St. Augustine (354-430)





12.09.2008

Day 9 - More Music

I like music. A lot. All kinds of music, actually but I love Christmas music. To me, the best are those slow, melodic, almost haunting songs that speak of that night, so long ago, when a very young girl gave birth, a girl almost completely alone except for two - her earthly husband and her Heavenly Father. And then there were three. Her own Messiah, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a feed box. I can almost feel the coldness of the night, see the brilliance of the stars and hear Mary whisper to her newborn Son.
Today, from the SPU program, I chose the song "Bogoroditse Djevo". The music was Rachmaninoff (Sergei Rachmaninoff - 1873-1943) and the text is from "The All-Night Vigil" and when I heard it, it was sung in Church Slavonic which touches your ears with pure reverence.

It was beautiful.

The text reads:

Rejoice, O virgin mother of God,
Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed are you among women,
And blessed is the fruit of your womb,
For you have borne the Savior of our souls.

Can't you just hear the words of Elizabeth mixed with the cries of the shepherds, the wise men and all those who knew who Jesus was when they saw Him?...

Blessings!

12.08.2008

Day 8 - Scripture Reading

Today's Christmas Countdown was a Scripture reading at SPU's Sacred Sounds of Christmas. May you be blessed.

My soul tells of the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour;
for He has looked with favor on His servant,
lowly as she is.

From this day forward
all generations will count me blessed,
for the Mighty God has done great things for me.

His name is holy,
His mercy sure from generation to generation
toward those who fear Him.

He has shown the might of His arm,
He has routed the proud and all their schemes;
He has brought down monarchs from their thrones,
and raised on high the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.

He has come to the help of Israel His servant,
as He promised to our forefathers;
He has not forgotten to show mercy
to Abraham and His children's children forever.

~Luke 1:46-55

12.07.2008

Day 7 - Annunciation

The dictionary ascribes only one event to this word - it is the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary of the conception by the Holy Spirit of Christ. That's it.

An occasion so monumentous it needs its own word to describe it...

From the SPU Sacred Sounds of Christmas program:

Annunciation: The Word Proclaimed

Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die yet cannot choose but die,
Lo faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie,
In prison, in thy womb: and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He will wear.
Taken from thence, flesh, which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and Brother:
Whom thou conceivist, conceived, yea thou art now
Thy maker's maker and thy Father's mother;
Thou hast light in dark and shust in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.
~John Donne (1572-1631)

12.06.2008

ANOTHER giveaway!

Catherine over at Catherine Holman Folk Art is hosting a giveaway of one of her absolutely darling paintings.


How cute is this????


Quick... go. You only have until tomorrow night to enter!! As always, please let me know if you win...




Day 6 - the Days of Christmas Continued

As I continue sharing the pieces from SPU's Sacred Sounds of Christmas, I hope you begin to see the beauty of Christmas more and more and the commercialism of it less and less. Without the gift of Jesus, what is the point? Blessings!

Today's piece:

Let Creation Praise
Music was based on a 13th century plainsong, arr. by James Curnow (b. 1943)). (it was beautiful, by the way)
Text: Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-413)

Of the Father's love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He is the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are and have been,
And the future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore.

O that birth forever blessed,

When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world's Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
Evermore and evermore.

O ye heights of heav'n adore him;

Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
And extol our God and King;
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring,
Evermore and evermore.

Christ, to thee with God the Father,

And, O Holy Ghost, to thee,
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be;
Honor, glory and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore.

Amen.

12.05.2008

Day 5

A Reading From the Catechetical Instructions of Cyril

We do not preach only one coming of Christ but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom. ... At the first coming He was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. At His second coming He will be clothed in light as a garment. In the first coming He endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming He will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels. We look then beyond the first coming and await the second. At the first coming we said: "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." At the second we shall say it again; we shall go out with the angels to meet the Lord and cry out in adoration: "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

~Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem (315-86)

12.04.2008

Day 4 and Thankful Thursdays - Christmas

I'm going to combine my daily Christmas post with Thankful Thursday this week. If you're interested in reading all of my daily Christmas posts for 2008, please click on my blog banner and scroll down to the second post on December 1 or head over to the blog archive section in the right margin and find the title "Day 1 - Counting Down to Christmas." It explains what I'm doing.

This week I am so incredibly grateful for Christmas and the reason behind it. Not for the lights, shopping, holiday parties and gifts but for what it means, who it stands for. To think of the Prince of Heaven stepping down from His throne, giving up so much - some of His power, His seat at the right hand of God, all that it must mean to be the begotten of God...to come to earth as a mere human baby renders me just speechless sometimes. I can't fathom it, I can't imagine love that deep and when I see how I behave sometimes I really don't understand it. All I can say is Praise God I'm not God and He is because if it were left to me, earth would be in trouble.

While I don't focus just once a day on that gift, I am grateful for the time that we can. Every year I pray there is some way to reach those who see this day as nothing more than a frustrating time to "get through" instead of the celebration of the most amazing proportions it should be.

While we are so busy trying to find the "perfect gift" for our family and friends, we can often lose sight of the fact that the perfect gift is the person for whom we offer birthday wishes on this special day. Nothing - absolutely nothing - can ever compare to what God offers us and what Jesus did for us. I will be eternally grateful for that gift and pray I never take it for granted.

Today's Christmas thought:

Last Days of Advent

The liturgy of Advent... helps us to understand fully the value and meaning of the mystery of Christmas. It is not just about commemorating the historical event, which occurred some 2,000 years ago in a little village of Judea. Instead, it is necessary to understand that the whole of our life must be an "advent," a vigilant awaiting of the final coming of Christ. To predispose our mind to welcome the Lord, who, as we say in the Creed, one day will come to judge the living and the dead, we must learn to recognize Him as present in the events of daily life. Therefore, Advent is, so to speak, an intense training that directs us decisively toward Him who already came, who will come and who comes continuously.

~Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

For more Thankful Thursday posts, visit Iris at Grace Alone...

12.03.2008

OH by gosh by golly... a Santa giveaway...

Unlike anything I've seen so far. You know I love giveaways (some day, if I develop a true readership and people decide to tell me they read me, I'll do one of my own) and this one is incredible.

MumovEarls is giving away a gorgeous picture of Santa Claus she has done. It's just... well.. you have to go over there and see it. She describes it and has pictures. It's gorgeous. I'd be gushing if I were telling you this in person.

As always - go enter. Then, let me know if you win!!!!!

Day 3

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
~Charles Wesley (1707-88)

Come, thou long-expected Jesus, Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth thou art,
Dear desire of ev'ry nation, Joy of ev'ry longing heart.

Born they people to deliver, Born a child and yet a king;
Born to reign in us forever, Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal Spirit, Rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all-sufficient merit, Raise us to thy glorious throne.
Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heav'n to earth come down!
Fix in us thy humble dwelling, All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou are all compassion, Pure, unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation, Enter ev'ry trembling heart.

12.02.2008

Simple Mom Giveaway

I found another giveaway. Checking out a few sites this morning, I found out that Simple Mom is doing an amazing jewelry giveaway.

She has several jewelry designers featured in this post. You should check out their sites, too. Incredible! Of course, I'm a bit of a jewelry nut and would love to win any of the pieces she's giving away. You really need to hop over to her site to see what is being offered. Incredible, lovely items!

Head on over and enter and, as always, let me know if you win!

Day 2

Today's choice from the SPU program was a reading of Scripture:

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given,
And the government will be on His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace, There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this.
~Isaiah 9:6-7 (New King James version)

12.01.2008

CD Giveaway

Win-a-CD



Laurel at Laurel Wreaths Reflections is hosting a giveaway. She is giving away a copy of the new Beautiful Faith CD. Head on over to enter and let me know if you win!

Day 1 - Counting Down to Christmas

My husband and I had the pleasure of attending Seattle Pacific University's "The Sacred Sounds of Christmas" at Benaroya Hall in Seattle yesterday afternoon. It was a gloriously beautiful two hours of music and celebration. The first Sunday of Advent and we were able to spend it surrounded by the words and music men have written to describe the beauty of Jesus and the gift He gave to us, first in His birth and later at the cross.

There are twenty-four days until Christmas and the program SPU provided for the afternoon is filled with Scripture, songs, prayers, excerpts from prayers and sermons. So many I decided to type out one a day until Christmas Eve.

May you be blessed by these as I was and may your eyes, heart and mind be filled with the glory and beauty of why we celebrate Christmas - the gift of God's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
This is from the program, my choice for Day 1:

Advent Prayer:
Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
Send Your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to
hear Your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things
look forward to Your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways
long for the complete joy of Your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of Your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To You we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"

~Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932-96)


11.29.2008

What??

http://money.aol.com/news/articles/_a/bbdp/wal-mart-worker-trampled-to-death/262342?icid=200100397x1213689134x1200929272

WHAT???? I mean... seriously. WHAT???? How - how - HOW do people do this kind of thing? How could people STEP OVER this man and consider the THINGS they were going to purchase more important than what injuries he might have??? I know - it was probably all over the news yesterday but I skipped the news yesterday - I figured it was going to be a "dooms day" report with the media telling us not enough people were out yesterday and didn't spend enough money so... I skipped it. This morning I learn about this and I just started to weep. Weep. HOW????? WHAT is wrong with us, people? How do we miss the.... oh ugh - when did we stop SEEING each other?????

Please... please pray. Pray for this man, his family, his co-workers and most of all pray for those who stepped over him, for those who did NOTHING to help this man.

How?

Happy Thanksgiving!



I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours had a small amount of drama in it but how can you have Thanksgiving without at least a little bit of drama? We ate a lot, enjoyed our company, played a great game of Monopoly, visited a lot and watched a movie. All in all the perfect day.

One thing is for sure...the conversation gave me a great idea or two for future posts. I think I might try to actually sit down and think through a serious topic again. It's been a while since I journaled thoughts and feelings outside of a Thankful Thursday post. Might need to go down that road again.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend!!

Blessings.

11.25.2008

I've Been Tagged


Mary over at Piles of Smiles tagged me today. Thanks for including me, Mary! I think the hardest part about this will be tagging seven random blogs when I'm finished. After all, coming up with seven random things about myself should be simple, right? Let's see...

1. I don't like the taste of water. If it doesn't have about 5 ice cubes in it, I can't drink it and water is what I drink 99% of the time.

2. Both of my sons are named Christopher. One is my son and one son came with my husband (But as #2 son says, he was born to be with me. That made my heart smile!)

3. I love to swim but haven't been in a pool in over 20 years. When my parents moved to California, there was no longer a pool in the backyard and the opportunity to swim without having to pay for pool access just dwindled away (and I was a single mom without much income so paying for pool time wasn't going to happen, either).

4. I collect angels because my Aunt complained one time that everyone in my family collects things except for me and she needed a category for me (that's a paraphrase but it's what it boiled down to).

5. I'm taking piano lessons.

6. I don't have "favorites." No favorite color, no favorite restaurant, no favorite food... if I'm asked, I stick to some random tried & true because it's easier than saying I don't have a favorite.

7. When I was younger, it would take me between 2 and 2 1/2 hours to get ready for work every day. I've whittled that down to less than an hour and only 1/2 an hour on weekends.

Ok - they seem random enough. Unfortunately, I've run out of time to work on this one so I need to wrap up by thanking Mary again for including me. I might have to do the random tagging of 7 other blogs as an update to this post.


Have a blessed day!

11.20.2008

Another Cool Giveaway!

Simple Mom is hosting an awesome giveaway until Saturday night at midnight
(November 22nd).
Head on over to her blog and enter.
She's giving away various versions of the re-useable shopping bag.
I don't know about you but switching to the re-useable shopping bag has been one of the best things we have done. Well...when we remember, that is. For instance, I love the discount some stores give you when you use them and I know it won't be too long before other counties follow King County in the idea of charging you for every plastic bag you use. It's only a matter of time.
So...head on over and enter. Let me know if you win!

Thankful Thursdays - Random

Good morning, everyone. This week's topic for Thankful Thursday at Grace Alone... is "random." I love the random topic because I can think about things all over the place and am reminded there is just SO much I am grateful to God for every day.


So...my list this week:


1. I am grateful that God allowed me to wake up again this morning, allowed me to kiss my husband and son, pet my dog and given me the ability to get ready and get to work.


2. I am also thankful for my beloved husband. He has been working so hard around the house and it is amazing to me how much he gets done when he has so little time to spend at home.


3. I am deeply thankful for our jobs - mine, my husband's and my oldest son's. There are so many without right now and we have been blessed with work that we enjoy, jobs we like going to and co-workers who make the days brighter.


4. I am thankful for my doctor. Since the beginning of October, I have been fighting yet another sinus infection (when did I develop "chronic" sinus problems???) and I am so grateful to have a man who has been my doctor for 10 years and knows me and what he's doing.


5. I am thankful for antibiotics!!!! At least - finding the right one! The first antibiotic I was on took about 4 days to only make me feel slightly more inclined to function. This one? Two days and I feel almost 100%!!! What a difference.


6. Members of my Coalition are having breakfast tomorrow morning with a woman who has been combatting human trafficking for 10 years. We will also get to sit down with a rescued survivor. What an amazing time of education and fellowship this will be. I am thankful for those who are combatting this evil, those with whom I serve and grateful to God for every victim He rescues.


7. I am grateful for my family. Those people who love me despite my numerous faults, those people with whom I enjoy sharing life - even if it is months between visits. God has blessed me immeasurably and I am oh so thankful that He has.


As always there are more but I will stop here. May you have a blessed Thursday and don't forget to pop over to Grace Alone... and see what others are thankful for today!


Blessings!