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Saturday, December 22, 2012

God With Us

The concept of Emmanuel or God with Us has been on my heart a lot this season.   And, I seem to be finding it wherever I look, so it must be important to share.  This is not exactly a Christmas song, but it has a powerful message.  And, that is what we are celebrating this season--when God came to Earth to be with us.  It is important to me that we remember this all year long--God loves us so much He came to Earth to be with us and then died on a cross for us to pay for our sins and make it possible for us to spend eternity in Heaven with Him.  Thank you Jesus for your sacrificial love.

What does Emmanuel, God With Us mean to you?
How do you experience God with Us in your every day life?
What name/aspect of Jesus really tugs at your heart right now?

O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  While we celebrate His first coming, may we never stop anticipating His second coming.

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Thanksgiving for today
317.  Presents made with  love at school
318.  Christmas lights at Cedar Bluff
319.  Dinner by Christmas light
320.  Watching a demonstration and learning the name of the martial arts stance of the TMNT McDonald's Toy
321.  Seasonal flavors
322.  YouTube
323.  The nation responding to tragedy with Random Acts of Kindness
324.  Smelling like a candy cane

Friday, December 21, 2012

The End of the World

Well, people have been saying today is the end of the world.  I don't remember anyone saying what time of day though, so maybe we're not there yet.  Anyway, I don't for one second believe it is the end of the world.  The Bible is clear when it says, "But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows"  Matthew 24:36  (Message).  When my children asked me if the world was going to end today, I would quote the above scripture and tell them "not the 21st--maybe today, or tomorrow, or the 20th, or the 22nd.  No one knows.  Our job is just to be ready"  But, what exactly does that mean I should be spending my remaining time here on Earth doing?  I am ready--Christ is in my heart.  But, what is my responsibility while I'm still here.  Keep reading in Matthew through chapter 25 and I believe He gives you the answer.  In Matthew 28:19 He says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  

So, what should I be doing with my time here on Earth?  I should be "making disciples" or as the Message says, "Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you."  Everyone we meet.  Not just those in our home or church.  EVERYONE!!  What does that mean to you?  

It is interesting to me that before we are given this command or Great Commission, we are told in Matthew 25 to carefully invest the talents we are given and reach out to those in need.  
"I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me."
Maybe, just maybe, before someone is ready to be "trained in this way of life," we must meet their needs.  We need to be showing not just telling about the love of Christ.

How do we do that?
How do we stay focused on Christ and others?
How do we show His love not just talk about it?
This is what I feel I need to be spending my remaining time here on Earth doing (no matter how long).  None of us is promised tomorrow.   I know that better than most.  I woke up from my car accident still here on Earth and want to make my time left here count.  I am working on having the courage to be obedient and stay in constant conversation with God.  What else should I be doing?  How can we best support each other?

Curtis Flax posted this on his Facebook page today
"Maybe this is what the Mayans predicted. Not an asteroid, or a solar flare, but the end of what we are. We no longer cherish life, or other people, even the earth or the animals and resources put on it. War, genocide, abuse, senseless mass murder, animal cruelty, gluttony, greed, waste and lust... Look around you, the end of the world is already here"

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Thanksgiving for today
311.  Carpet  cleaning specials
312.  Willingness to volunteer to be "on call" over the holidays
313.  Kiddos knowing to avoid "yellow snow"
314.  Inter library Loan
315.  Snowball Fights
316.  Friendly Greetings

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Song History

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and  Jingle Bells
“Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” is said to be based on the tune from “Jingle Bells.”  Both are said to be loosely based on Pachabel’s Canon in D.  Fun fact about Jingle Bells.  It was not originally a Christmas song at all.  It was written for Thanksgiving.  And, it was originally titled “One Horse Open Sleigh.“  But, since it is about winter fun and could technically be sung all winter, it has been adopted as a Christmas song.

Joy to the World
“Joy to the World” wasn’t originally written as a Christmas song either.   Isaac Watts originally wrote it to celebrate Christ’s return.    It is thought that the melody was written by George Frederick Handel.

We Three Kings
Finally we come to a song written for Christmas.  “We Three Kings” was written for the General Theological Society of New York for their Christmas program.  Ironically, the wise men were not at the stable.  They were on foot and traveled a great distance.  Jesus was probably between one and two when they finally got to him at his house,

Go Tell It On the Mountain
This next song was actually written for Christmas and actually tells of  Christmas events.  It was a spiritual written by slaves.  Spirituals were often sung acapella as an expression of spiritual devotion, as a way to alleviate boredom, and a way to pass on or teach truths.

Good King Wenceslas
“Good King Wenceslas” is based on a true story about a historical figure.  This is actually written about the Feast of St. Stephen (or Boxing Day) which is held on December 26.  Wenceslas went out to share the feast with a man “gathering fuel.”  When the page with him began complaining of the cold and snow, Wenceslas encouraged him to keep going and follow his tracks.    Perhaps we should follow Good King Wenceslas example and give our abundance to those in our path.

Away In A Manger
Some would say “Away in a Manger” was written by Martin Luther, but this is just a fable.  It may have been written to honor the 400th celebration of his birthday.   There happen to be two melodies to these words.  .

Angels We Have Heard on High
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men'" (Luke 2:13-14)
“Angels We Have Heard on High” was translated from a French carol.

Silent Night
“Silent Night” is a Christmas Carol with an interesting history.  It was originally written in Austria (which is my favorite part of Europe BTW)  It has been translated into approximately 140 languages.  It was sung simultaneously in French, English, and German by troops in the Christmas Truce of 1914.
It has been recorded by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Manheim Steamroller, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Boyz II Men, Christina Agiulera, Cee Lo Green,  Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and Justin Beiber to name a few.  I challenge you to go home and see how many of your Christmas recordings include “Silent Night.”  I have 14 recordings on different CDs.  I haven't checked my cassette tapes yet.  :)

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” has become the traditional last song of many Christmas concerts or caroling events.  It is our last song here tonight.  The original carolers of this song came demanding treats.  “Now bring us some figgy pudding”  They weren’t about to leave until they got their treat. “We won’t go until we get some.”  Legend says that if a house did not have a treat for them, they would just take whatever they wanted.  Today, the song is considered much more innocent and usually only one verse is sung/played.  That is the case today and we don’t have any figgy pudding for you.

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Thanksgiving for today
307.  Ice melt
308.  Snuggling with kiddos
309.  Snow boots
310.  Sock puppet plays

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Programs

Christmas is the time for great music and great programs!!  This year my kiddos got to be in three--the school program I posted about earlier, a piano recital, and the church program.  Hard to say which was my favorite--they were all great.

The piano recital was definitely the most work for me (and my son says for him too:)  )  It was the recital of my students and they all did amazing.  It was work because although they are few, they each played at least one solo--sometimes more and one duet.  All the duets ended up being with me although they were originally planned with each other.  It was a lot of work for me because I researched every song played so I could give some history before each song.  It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun and I learned things I never knew.  (I'll post what I learned in another post.)  It was the kind of preparation and event that when it is over you just want to CRASH for a couple of days.  Unfortunately, that was not possible for any of us.  The next morning was the church program.

May I just say the church program was AWESOME!!!  (I'm not the least bit prejudice or anything)  :)  I absolutely love hearing the Christmas story as told in Luke and in Matthew.  Both were part of this production with lots of comedy.  Giggles are a necessary part of any children's production, but it is even more FUN when they are supposed to be there.  My wise man did his silent part perfectly and even knew the words to "Silent Night"--the only song he got to sing.  I was also proud to watch him at the end of the performance singing "Just As I Am" and "Family of God" with the congregation.  He must be paying attention to know them by heart.

My daughter was a member of the angel choir and knew all the songs by heart (not to mention everyone's part).  She sang her part of the trio perfectly and remembered her lines (after she got over stage fright).  We're so thankful her voice was back before performance--it was gone during dress rehearsal.  I'm so thankful for a stage FULL of kids willing to share the true meaning of Christmas with others.  I'm thankful even the little ones were allowed to express their joy and wonder at this story.  I'm thankful for everyone's hard work and dedication.  I'm thankful the church was packed enough to cause stage fright.  I'm thankful there were so many people there new tables and chairs had to be brought out for lunch.  I'm thankful for the focus on Christ, the reason for the season.

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Thanksgiving for today
299.  KDOT
300.  God inspiring all who plan Sunday services so it all fits together
301.  Childlike Faith
302.  Hearing downtown Christmas music from our front porch
303.  Weather cancellations early
304.  Day for Christmas baking
305.  Getting cookies delivered before snow hit
306.  Facebook Birthday reminders

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our Whole World's About to Change

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Thanksgiving for today
291.  Peppermint
292.  Gingerbread
293.  Veggietales
294.  Finding and using items you forgot about because you put them away for "safe keeping"
295.  The Voice (TV Show and Bible)
296.  Sleep Number Bed
297.  Focusing on others
298.  Planning ahead to be able to stay inside during the forecast blizzard

Monday, December 17, 2012

In a Deep Pit

There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”  Corrie Ten Boom

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Thanksgiving for today
282.  Children's freedom of worshi
283.  My son knowing the words to songs like "Just As I Am" and "Family of God"
284.  Having to add tables at the church dinner
285.  Enough people in the audience to cause stage fright
286.  Healed voices
287.  Instrumental Christmas music
288.  Peppermint Hot Chocolate
289.  Putting cookies in boxes to give away
290.  Finding all necessary ingredients