When the New Year Begins with Troubles

God is in Control. Mary DeM

The New Year’s beginning lacks uplifting moments.  In fact, my last post about the coming New Year having disappointments and sadness portends too much fact.  We have barely completed two weeks, and my heart breaks with the events of this year.  I have known for several weeks that a very dear, dear relative has cancer without much time left.  She has lived a long, good life wherein she has always been happiest while serving others.  I learned this week that a couple whom I love beyond words had a court date this week for a divorce.  I don’t understand how that could happen!  I missed all the signs that their life together did not bring them happiness.  Yet what could I have done to improve their situation?  I prayed for them daily, but for something other than the real root of the dysfunction.

Joy

Later this month I am enveloping myself in a writing intensive course to kickstart my desire to publish legacy stories.  The leader of this course has asked each of the twelve students accepted into the program to come up with, not a New Year’s resolution, but a single word to describe what we want out of this year.  Considering my circumstances, mine came easily:  STAMINA!   I need stamina to survive the slings and arrows of life destruction.  Honestly, I do not see myself struggling to survive.  I know God is my co-pilot and will guide me through these rough waters.  Life will go on.  I have complete trust that God controls each situation.  Everything will work out for His good and His glory.

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I will share with you an incident I recently experienced.  Since my daughter died, I have had similar visions of God communicating with me.  This time, the vision came of my mother looking like she did when I was very young.  She said they know my dear relative is about to leave this world;  “We are watching out for her and will care for her.”  “We” = “the cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 12: 1-3.  That “cloud of witnesses” includes our beloved family members who have preceded us in death.  I told my precious relative that story.  She responded she had told her children that day — “Soon I will be in the cloud of witnesses watching over you.”  God gave me stamina to listen, absorb, share.

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A New Year is About to be Born

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The common wish is for a Happy New Year.  We all know there will be happy moments, but there will be sad moments as well.  Also disgusting moments, heartbreaking moments, Cloud 9 moments, and much more.  It will be a full array of feelings, hopes, dreams, realities, and disappointments.  Although, we hope, for our friends and for ourselves, to have more pleasant moments outweighing the wearisome ones.

I am reading emails tonight talking about running out of time, procrastination, limited time remaining, the American economy is headed for a catastrophe, build a better life, I am being missed – they want me to come back and buy more of their stuff, etc.  None of these inspire me to move out of the doldrums into glorious light and wealth.  Yet a quasi goal is —  to have more productive energy in a day.  I am not making a resolution. I never do, because I know I wouldn’t keep it.  And, at my age, am I really going to have more energy?  Likely no.   Maybe what I want to say is that I want to use my energy in more productive ways.  Yet, I have never been one to waste time.

All of this rambling to say:  I hope we all use our time to the best of our abilities and create the best life for ourselves as is possible.  Remember — all good things come from God.  By pleasing God, we have a better chance of having a happy new year!

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Happy New Year!!!

 

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Glory to God

Holley Gerth graphicglorytogod

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Christmas Things

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  1. Christmas Carols.  I love playing Christmas carols on the radio, from my digital media, and especially making my own music on the piano!  I love singing Christmas songs around the house, in the car, and at church with the choir.  If you were to ask me my favorite, that would be difficult.  But I will try. . . (Though, I might change my mind in 10 minutes!)
    1.  Christmas song: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  I memorized every word of this song when I sang in the Cosmopolitan Singers in St. Louis.  For several years, I had the privilege of singing with the St. Louis Symphony under maestro Richard Hayman for the series of Christmas Pops and the series of summer pops concerts at Queeny Park.
    2. Baby Jesus song:  Away in a Manger.  When my children were small, I sang the third verse with them as a goodnight prayer:  “Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay Close by me forever and love me I pray.  Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and take us to heaven to live with Thee there.”
    3.  Christmas hymn:    In the Bleak Mid-Winter.   I adore the haunting melody of this hymn.  I was intrigued to discover today, it was written by Gustav Holst, a well-known British composer most known for his work, The Planets.  The equally memorable lyricist is Christina Rossetti; the last stanza of the hymn has been memorized by many:  “What can I give him, Poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a wise man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give him:  give my heart.”
    4.  Santa song:  Up on the Housetop.  A great action song for kids.  And I am a die-hard Santa lover!  The idea of Santa came from  imitating a priest, St. Nicholas.
    5. Christmas Carol:  Angels We Have Heard on High.  I am not an alto, but I always sing the lovely rolling alto part in the chorus.
    6. And Handel’s The Messiah!  The ultimate in Christmas and Easter music! The Christmas portion is highlighted by “For Unto Us a Child is Born” and “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth.”
  2. Decorations.  For me, Christmas begins November 1, as soon as Halloween is put away.  The first things to come out are the lighted candles in each window of my house and my Spode china — Christmas Tree.  As I have time, other decorations follow.  Since my daughter died December 15, 2008, angels and harps remind me of her.  I have large and small angels and harps inside and outside my house.  I have two trees; one an adult tree, with only blue, silver, and white decorations with many ribbons.  Another tree is more appealing to younger kids with colored lights and an assortment of decorations collected over the years.  How long does Christmas last?  A minimum of 12 days — until Epiphany on January 6.  Nothing comes down until after Epiphany when I like to host a dinner party for close friends.   Then I slowly begin to put Christmas away.  The candles in the windows remain throughout January.  In the bleak mid-winter, I need their brightness to keep cheery in spite of the weather.
  3. Christmas Cards.  They have almost become something from the past.  Most people are too busy or too digital to buy, address, and write paper Christmas cards.  I think just about everyone on my Christmas card list is a Facebook friend.  This year, so far, I have received only five paper cards but several digital cards.  However, most people on my Christmas card list do not know my new mailing address as of this fall.  Friends may be waiting to hear from me before sending.  I spent this morning selecting recipes for the holidays and making a grocery list, followed by practicing my ice skating until there were too many crazies (kids and adult men who knew nothing about skating).  I left while my bones were still intact.  Arriving home earlier than planned, I had time for Christmas cards.  Then I read Ann Voskamp’s blog post — “A few of my favorite things:  2016 gift guide” listing homemade items, many from third world artisans, therefore helping people who really need the support.  The list of “favorite things” rang a bell with me, so I scratched the Christmas card idea and wrote to you!
  4. Christmas Books and Movies.  My favorite Christmas book, Skipping Christmas by Grisham, was made into a movie, Christmas with the Kranks.  Hilarious story in word or picture!  But there are two classics which have to be mentioned!  The novel is Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.  That is a story which MUST be seen on stage or screen, or read EVERY year.  It embodies the Spirit of Christmas.  Then another movie which ranks as a classic — the crazy-funny, A Christmas Story with Ralphie receiving a beebee gun for his 9th Christmas.  My son received a beebee gun for his 9th Christmas, the year after the movie came out.  I can’t leave out How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  Awesome story whether in the short Dr. Seuss book or the elongated motion picture.
  5. Wishing you the Merriest of Christmases!!!  Thank you for reading my ramblings.

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I Discovered a New Christmas Song this year!

 

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We all know Jesus was sent to earth to be our Savior.  He came to be the sacrifice for our sins, if we only believe.  John the Baptist was the first to call Jesus “The Lamb of God.”  John 1: 29 records John the Baptist “saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  John 1:35-37 declares,”The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!'” 

So, since man has known for eons that Jesus came as “The Lamb of God,” it is confounding that no one was astute/creative enough to write a Christmas song about Jesus being born in a stable, because lambs ARE born in a stable!  As the Lamb of God, God’s metaphoric and symbolic plan was for Jesus to be born in a stable!  The place where lambs are born!

Lamb

This wonderful carol, “Where Else Would a Lamb Be Born?” was written by Steve Amerson and Lowell Alexander, copyright 2009 by Amerson Music.

Click here to hear Steve Amerson render his marvelous song.

The lyrics can be found here.

Verse One
No proper place
No regal palace
To receive a royal birth
God’s gift of love
Wrapped in an blanket (Infant)
Would be His way to reach the earth

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Chorus
A bed of straw became a cradle
Embracing God in human form
One would expect more than a stable
But where else would a Lamb be born
But where else would a Lamb be born

Verse Two
No stately house
No noble mansion
Where He would reign in majesty
The path He chose
Led to an alter
Where He would give His life for me

Chorus
A bed of straw became a cradle
Embracing God in human form
One would expect more than a stable
But where else would a Lamb be born
But where else would a Lamb be born

Bridge
He is the great I AM

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The sacrificial lamb
Who takes away the sins of the world

Chorus
A bed of straw became His cradle
Embracing God in human form
One would expect more than a stable
But where else would a Lamb be born
But where else would a Lamb be born

Where Else Would a Lamb Be Born?
Written by Steve Amerson & Lowell Alexander
© 2009 Steve Amerson Music (BMI) & 716 Music Publishing (ASCAP) (admin. by Evergreen Copyrights)

 

 

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The Softening of Grief – Remembering My Daughter

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A young woman who lost her twin, Danny, a close friend of my son Greg, wrote to me a few months after Karin’s death about the hole in their family’s hearts, with the comforting words of “Karin was beautiful inside and out.”

 She continued, “The hole is never going to be filled, But over time you understand that you will be with her again and what Jesus did for us is really the most amazing part of life! There really will be that moment when you are face to face again.  And all of the people whom you love and the new additions to your family will give you the will to survive. I always tell people to watch for special blessings in their life… I am sure Karin had a few ideas to help you all along!


“After Danny died, Greg was there to help me through some of the hardest moments in my life. The others were suffering and unable to give me what he did. And for that I am forever grateful! People are the greatest treasures this world holds… So we know that God has never left us alone!”

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I responded at that time, “We are so proud of her, as you are of Danny. I understand the hole in your family’s hearts. It will always be there, and I never want it to get better.” 

Now eight years later, the pain has softened from a jarring, searing pain, to one of sweet memories including thankfulness she is not alive in this age of Isis.  Eight years ago, she found the world’s situation so upsetting that she tried to ignore the world news as much as possible.  Instead, she sits in the courts of heaven, worshiping God, playing her golden harp, and enjoying being with her deceased relatives/ancestors, friends, and pets!  Something all Christians anticipate.

 

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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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