Two Amazing CT Articles on Forgiving Castro and Your Children SHOULD Believe in Santa

Today I read two articles, one from CT (Christianity Today) and the other from CT Women (Christianity Today Women), which I must share!

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The first on forgiveness — specifically, forgiveness of Castro’s astrocites — blows me away.

Forgiveness is difficult on any level, but I have never experienced anything as drastic as the forgiveness this author has faced.  Amanda Martinez Beck wrote I’m Trying to Forgive Fidel CastroShe begins by reiterating the statements on Fidel Castro’s death made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Obama, and President-Elect Trump, and declared Trump the most truthful.

She states, “The gospel of Jesus Christ requires that I recognize the humanity in people whom I greatly dislike or am opposed to, people who hate me and wish me ill, even people who have directly wronged or harmed me and my family.”

The wrongs committed against me are nothing compared to the suffering Amanda’s family faced.  Any forgiveness, large or small, is difficult.  In my case, forgiveness literally dropped out of the sky.  If you are having a difficult time forgiving someone in your life, read this article!

Amanda gives you the tools you need to be able to forgive.

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The second article is near and dear to my heart.  I am one of those people who will always believe in Santa. Believing in Santa is not a sin.  It is a step to believing in God.  Remember — The real Santa was a SAINT!  Saint Nicholas.

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Keri Wyatt Kent begins by stating, “Myths … are time-honored methods of communicating truth through story, and the Santa Claus myth is no exception.”  She maintains teaching children about Santa does not conflict with raising our children to know Jesus.  She thinks the Santa myth and the Nativity story have more in common than we admit.  St. Nicholas lived the Christian values we hold dear and teach our children to emulate.  When sometimes, we, in our exuberance to negate the Santa myth, inexplicably forget some values we should be honoring as Jesus followers.

The author maintains Santa is not the problem; it is the retail business which has stolen Christmas causing children to have a long list of wants for Santa to bring instead of one gift from Santa.  She shows us that C.S. Lewis believed in fairy tales as a means of teaching.  A child wrote to Lewis saying he thought he loved Aslan more than Jesus.  Lewis responded that the boy loved Aslan for what he said and did, but it was actually Jesus who said and did those things.  This is a must read!

This Christmas, let’s forgive the political leaders who have hurt us and revel in the generosity of Santa Claus.

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Celebrate St. Nicholas Day This Year!

New statue of St Nicholas

A statue of Saint Nicholas in Myra, Turkey.

December 5 is Saint Nicholas’ Day.  He was the original Father Christmas whom we call Santa Claus today.

The real St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop, lived in the 4th century in Myra, a town in Turkey.  He died in 343 on December 5.

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(Photo taken from Santa Are you for Real?  by Harold Myra, published by Thomas Nelson Inc., c1977.)

St. Nicholas is the “Santa Claus” of Sir Clement Moore’s poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

My uncle, who was a missionary in Germany for many years, celebrated St. Nicholas Day with his children.  As I understand the tradition, children would put out their shoes on the eve of St. Nicholas Day — December 5.  In the morning, if they had been good children, they would receive candy in their shoes.  If they had been not-so-good, they would receive coal.  One year, my uncle played a trick on his kids and put coal in their shoes.  In the morning, that was soon replaced with candy.  What a trickster!

St. Nicholas is the originator of giving gifts anonymously.  In one of the favorite stories told about him involves a poor man with three daughters who wanted to marry.  But, in those days, the bride’s father had to give a dowry to the young man who wanted to marry his daughter.  Without the money, marrying a decent man was not possible.  St. Nicholas knew of this situation and tossed a bag of money into the father’s home for the first daughter’s marriage, and later for the second daughter.  When it was time to marry off the third daughter, the father stayed awake to learn who their benefactor was.  He caught Bishop Nicholas and thanked him profusely.  The Bishop begged the father to not give away his secret.  The father kept the secret for a long time, but he must have eventually  shared the secret, since we know the story today.

Wouldn’t it be fun to secretly give a gift to someone in need this year?

Sources:

http://www.xavier.edu/jesuitresource/online-resources/St-Nicholas-Quotes.cfm

Myra, Harold. Santa Are You For Real?

 

 

 

 

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Grief at Christmas and Remembering the Joy

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So many of us have grief memories to deal with at Christmas.   Some find the grief so overwhelming that there can be no celebratory spirit for what is termed the “happiest time of the year.”

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Christmas is my favorite holiday, as it is for many.  I begin celebrating early in November, and it lasts until late January.  The true meaning of Christmas cannot be squelched by the loss of loved ones.  I would be thinking of them anyway at Christmas, no matter what time of year they died.  But the memory seems a bit deeper, more searing, more important, more gripping when a loved one died at holiday time.  Actually, I am glad to have this time of year to celebrate their lives along with all the other hoopla of the holidays.  It makes this time of year sweeter, more meaningful and precious.

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Mom, Dad, & brother David

I lost my parents twelve years apart at Thanksgiving time.   I lost my oldest brother mid-December 1994.  Then my daughter graduated to her “Crowning Day” on December 15, 2008.  My son’s birthday is two days before Christmas, and my birthday three days after Christmas.  Plus I was born on the burial day of my great grandmother, a very special lady to my mother.  Her emotions must have been off the charts!

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Daughter Karin in 1978

Holiday time, from the approach to Thanksgiving until Epiphany on January 6, is full of special memories, both sad and glad.  Actually, I am grateful the demise of four dear souls, so entwined in my heart, fall at this happy time of year.  It encourages me to celebrate their lives with joy for their contribution to my life.

If you are suffering loss at this time of year, I pray God will help you to see the positive aspects resulting from your losses.  Revel in the impact of their lives on yours and others; then rejoice they are celebrating with God with whole, heavenly bodies.

 

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Make It a Good Thanksgiving — Give of Yourself to Others

One of the blogs I follow is Ann Voskamp’s “A Holy Experience.”     She has just published a new book —The Broken Way.  After reading Chapter 6 — “What’s Even Better than a Bucket List,” I decided that chapter alone was worth writing a review!

She was flying with a rabbi sitting next to her.  As their conversation began, he said to her, “You may believe in God, but never forget—”It’s God who believes in you.”  What a heady thought!  God does believe in us.  I am reminded of that often when God answers my simple prayers.  And then Ann reminds us that, with God IN us, how can He help but believe in us when He is ready to assist in any way we ask.

Ann’s signature writing style is her uncanny ability to use the same words with different meanings or squeezing words to elicit new ideas.  Example:  “We in our brokenness believe in God—and God believes in us through our brokenness.”  Scripture tells us God has chosen us to be His children—”For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.” I Thessalonians 1:4.  If He has chosen us to be His own, He has to believe in us!  But we falter on accepting we can be that loved by Him. Since He has promised His Spirit will live within us, an “abundant life” is readily available.  She reminds her reader “Jesus still walks on water.  He didn’t just calm one storm—He can calm all our storms.”

That is important today—Thanksgiving Day 2016.  There are many blog posts and articles being written about family conversations on this day as we sit around the table with our relatives who have very different ideas about the recent contentious election.  I have seen several posts with ideas for topics of conversation to keep us from the antagonistic subjects.  But we all know Uncle Harry thrives on combativeness and will do his best, whether purposefully or instinctively, to ruin our holiday.

The world is broken and suffering for all of us.  Ann suggests that by thinking of others, not just our own needs, we can replace our brokenness by our “brokenhearted love” for others.  Ann declares, “life is about purpose and passion and meaning… We aren’t here to one-up another, but to help one another up.”  She contends our life will improve by simply helping others.

The rabbi made his point visual using his full water bottle.  He suggested we all want more, but the only way to get more is to first pour some out.  Ann turns that visual around to express:  it’s not a bucket list we need to be fulfilled, but an empty bucket—“the givenness of pouring out.”

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The Sears Saga of Simple Salespeople and Sage Superiors

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Deciphering Life, my title/theme for this blog is based on trying to figure out why life is so crazy.  Or maybe I should be asking why PEOPLE are so crazy!!  Why can’t everyone be like me?!  ;-)   I am level headed, try to be gracious, and even loving thus extending God’s love, to all around me.  Sometimes it takes extreme efforts, but I usually succeed.  I do not want to be known as a hot head, but certain situations test my limits.

For instance. . .  I recently moved.  My seventeen year old washing machine bit the dust, but my seventeen year old dryer continues to hum along.  I went to the local Sears store for a new washing machine.  I have always purchased my appliances from Sears due to their readily available repair.  The salesperson told me my old dryer would have a three prong cord, and needed a new four prong plug to be installed in my newly constructed house.  So I bought the $25 cord.  He did not point out that it had to be returned within thirty days as he didn’t expect it would need to be returned.  My mover’s installer came with a new four prong plug, so did not use the one I bought.

I tried to return the cord thirty-five days after purchase.  Five days over the limit!  I asked for the store manager.  After a call, she was at lunch, but another senior person came.  No.  Thirty days is the limit.  Period.  They even called over the salesperson who sold it to me.  Despite him having told me I “needed” the cord, yet since I did not need it, what could he do?  I told these guys I would be contacting the Better Business Bureau as I was forced to buy a cord I did not need.  I said it with a smile hoping they would see I am not angry.  I expect justice.  Their negative to my simple request did major damage to my impression of Sears. What ever happened to the adage – “The customer is always right?” How could they fail to realize they were losing a loyal customer, when an easy return would have restored all faith in their brand.  They chose a stone wall.

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When I tried to register a complaint against Sears on the local BBB site, they automatically switched me from their site to Sears’ headquarters in Chicago.  The person who handled my complaint sent a message saying she would give me equivalent Rewards points if I called back to accept them.  Naturally, reaching her was impossible.

Meanwhile, my Kenmore vacuum had been damaged in my move.  The repair would take three to four weeks; it was now five weeks with no notification.  Since reaching them by phone continues as an impossibility, I drove out of my way and walked into the store.  My vacuum was ready.  As I turned to leave, a woman walked by who looked familiar.  She even remembered my Toby and asked if he was with me!  She was the woman who had helped me carry my vacuum into the store a month ago.  And who was she?  None other than the Store Manager!  So I vented my four prong story on her.  After walking to my car with me, we noted scuffs and scratches all over my canister.  Her description:  “It looks like they used it as a bowling ball.”  She was disgusted, took me to her office, sat at her computer, and transferred the Rewards points to my account in seconds.  She said, “See how long that takes to do?”

I indicated I would spend them that day on vacuum bags.  She walked me to the bag display, I selected my bags, and she handed them to me saying, “You still have your Rewards points.”  That is how you retain customer loyalty!

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By the way, it took Sears three days from the day I picked up my vacuum to call me and say it was ready for pickup.  <sigh>  We live in a broken world.

 

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All Saints’ Day

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November 1 is All Saints’ Day — the day following All Hallow Eve.

Who are Saints?  In the Catholic Church, simplistically, they have a hierarchy which must be achieved during life.  After death, the Church decides who, among the worthy dead, is a Saint.

Protestants take Paul’s word at face value.  He refers to Christians as Saints. (Romans 1:7).  If you believe Jesus is the Son of God and ask forgiveness for your sins, you are a Saint, while living and after death.  A very easy process.

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Not all Protestant churches celebrate All Saints’ Day.  But those who do, name the church members who died within the past year since the last All Saints’ Day as a remembrance of them.  Sometimes a bell will toll as each name is read.  It is a solemn service of honoring our deceased brothers and sisters in Christ.

The night before All Saints’ Day was known as All Hallow Eve — hallow being a synonym of saint.  All Saints Eve or All Hallow Eve eventually shortened to Halloween.*

In Hebrews 12:1, Paul writes we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Thousands upon thousands of saved saints look down upon us.  Abraham, Hannah, Job, David, Joshua, Martha, Paul.  Your grandparent, your uncle, your neighbor, your coach. They are part of “the great cloud of witnesses” pulling for you and cheering you on!  My daughter calls from my cloud of witnesses!  They, while experiencing God’s grace, continue to pull for us to endure and reach the mark of success. Can you hear them calling to you: “Keep going!”  “You’re doing great!” “The prize is before you!” “Don’t give up!” “Keep trying!” “You will make it!”

Take heart!  Think about your loved ones who are with Jesus today!  Someday you will be cheering your grandchildren, other relatives, and loved ones in that saintly cloud of witnesses.  Steve Green sings about this great cloud of witnesses.  Listen!

*Taken from Wikipedia.

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Writer’s Block from Being Too Busy, Trusting God for Survival

Purple QuillAll writers eventually experience a slump, a dry spell, or just too busy.  Actually, in my case, the first two result from busyness.

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I may have moved into my house on October 4, but that means boxes filling 3/4 of an 18 wheeler were dumped into my small house, and not always left in the room marked on the box.  I have “settled” (meaning it is live-able but not finished) all rooms I live in, but the tuning before fine tuning is still in progress.  Last weekend, my grandson and I took out all the boxes and bins placed in the attic.  Basically, I want only holidays and finances there, plus a few others.  We found several missing items.  Then I replaced all the Christmas bins in an orderly, logical fashion.  When I went to the garage, I discovered several more Christmas bins.  Now the attic is a total disaster again.  Even though I disposed of many Christmas items before the move, now I must take everything out of the attic again, rethink the value of the contents of each bin, and create an organized attic.  That project can wait a week or two.

Day by Day

A cousin sent a reminder to me that God shares his wondrous and beautiful creation proving his power.  Those of us who have faith, that God created everything and everything is within his control, can withstand the criticism of the unbelievers who call us fools for such belief.

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“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23  God will help me through this dry period of settling, adjustment, facing new challenges, and rebuilding a life in a new area.

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