The fear and wonder the shepherds must have felt to see the heavens open with bright light and creatures they had only heard stories of but have never really seen. They knew from the prophets that He would come as a child from the lowly town of Bethlehem.
I wish you all the joy, wonder and love this season can bring us. A reminder of what did come and a foreshadowing of what is still to come. May you feel His love, peace and comfort and carry it with you to share with others as you go.
GC and Sue W have created a prompt that is so up my alley. The joys and traditions surrounding Christmas are my most favorite of the year. See their prompt below to join in on the fun and share your photos.
For me and my daughter, we start preparing the week before Thanksgiving but this year we started the 1st week on November as I was due for surgery the second week and I was not going to miss out on my decorating. We are also major college football fans, so every year there is an off weekend where our team does not play. That is the designated day for Christmas decoration shopping day. Sometimes we find something and sometime we don’t but it has become a yearly tradition we look forward to with love and fond memories.
When I decided to move from the deep south to the midwest for a new job, my daughter wanted to come. He job was going nowhere and her last relationship had crashed and burned. So we moved together. We were fortunate to find the perfect house with a walk out basement and a kitchen on both floors. So she is downstairs where it stays cooler to her liking and I am upstairs. Close to each other but separated as well.
My daughter and I are both suffers of the same…”illness?!?” – YCHTMC – An acronym for “You Can’t Have Too Much Christmas”.
Upstairs I have are 3 full size trees and 3 table trees. Down stairs my daughter has 3 smaller full size trees and 1 table tree.
Below are the downstairs trees in her large living area.
I have 6 multiple pieced nativity sets in various styles, colors and sizes with many single unit nativity scenes.
My biggest set has individual lights for each house and my smallest is actually a fountain.
My daughter has 2 multiple pieced nativity sets and several single unit scenes.The reason I have more is I have been doing it longer. It is a sickness I inherited from my mother and I have several ornaments that were hers. It is a family affair. With my sons, their wives keep them in check.
I am also an angel collector and most of those stay out year round; they just get located in a different location allowing other and numerous table decorations. Plus there is the village that grew this year and now has a section located in a different spots which houses the country scenes and the Christmas tree village.
There are traditional decorations, whimsical decorations and some just silly decorations but laughter and the love of Christ is what Christmas is to me. Through November I have displayed some of my pictures so I will repost a few but you are interested you can review my other post from November.
I sincerely hope you all have a marvelous Christmas regardless of your religious affiliation. It is a season of love hope and caring and we must always be considerate and kind to each other, especially at this season. There are many hurting during this time of year and will need and extra hand of kindness shared with them so please share kindness when you can.
Do you ever really wonder what the Bible is? Where did it come from? Is it real, is it true? I have very strong, foot standing my ground beliefs to all of these questions and I think all of us need to think on these questions to figure out where we stand individually on these questions as it balances us on where our priorities lay.
My answers are – The bible is the very word of God, given to His prophets by God and the disciples to tell the world who He is, what His plans are, the history of His people Israel and how to prepare the entire world for His abundant love.
The month of December I am reading through the book of Luke and trying to stay to one chapter per night as there are 24 chapters which carries you to Christmas eve. On Christmas eve we as a family always read Luke chapter 2 to praise the birth of Jesus.
To help me not read too far ahead, I also add on the study notes at the bottom of the pages as they give you a way to wrap your head around what was happening then and how I can apply it to today. I use the NIV study bible, studying first the word and then referencing the study notes to help me understand what I am reading. And for me, each time I read the same passages I have read many times before, I get different insights depending on what is going on in my life at the time. The bible is a living document, ever teaching and ever loving.
Chapter 5:36-39 of Luke has the parable of the old wine skins verses the new wine skins and while I vaguely understood what they were saying I went to the study notes to see what they could explain to help me correlate to today. What the parable tells us is not to put new wine in old wineskins as they will burst spilling you wine onto the ground. We all understand that things get worn out but lets study that for a second. Wineskins were goat skins where the edges were tightly sewn together to create watertight bags. As the bag ages, the skin becomes hardened and less pliable. The aging process of new wine requires expansion from the gases created so you need a pliable bag, therefore, you need a new bag. If you put new wine in old bag, it will be stiff leaving no access or room for expansion and the bag will split spilling it contents.
What Jesus was teaching with this parable was the comparison of the Pharisees being too rigid to accept His new teachings of Christianity. The old teachers of the Law could not turn lose their traditions and rules to be able to accept the new approaches and structures Jesus was explaining to the people. How does that apply to us today? Well, we as Christians must always follow the word and be careful that our hearts don’t get so hard and rigid with our traditions that it prevents us from from accepting the new way of thinking that Christ brings. We need to keep our hearts soft and pliable, always ready to accept His teachings of life changing messages. You can never tell when he may drop an opportunity to share Him in your lap. Use wisdom, discernment and love in applying His truths so that others may want to come and learn.
Galatians 5:22-23 reminds us that God’s love and showing of His love to all is compared in my mind like sweet succulent grapes hanging from the vine for all to enjoy and share with others – the Fruits of the Spirit. The top of the list is of course Love. Why love? Because God is love. My favorite of the fruits is kindness. To me you cant give kindness without love, so I always close with encouragements of kindness – for those needing it and for others to remember to share it.
Fruits of the Spirit = Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control
There are many beauties we see daily in nature that give us a glimpse of what Eden must have looked like. Adam, as he named all the creatures, seeing that some were more beautiful but realizing each specie had it purpose in creation that blended with the circle of life as intended for all to be harmonious with each other. Working together as a unit of divine creation and then….man ruined it. I read an article recently listing the most dangerous creatures in the world and man was listed as one of the worst. How could we, the beautiful creation that representing God himself, strayed so far from His purpose. But this story is not about what man has done but to refocus back on the beauty of creation itself. Specifically, birds. Since I am somewhat temporarily disabled, my mobility is challenged and I have really become very fond of the birds that visit my feeder.
Yes, even the pesky squirrel is part of nature although neither I nor the birds appreciate his appearance. But the few that I admire the most are the woodpeckers and the red cardinals. With the ground now covered in snow, their bright red feathers really are beautiful.
I had remembered my sister saying that cardinals represented loved ones recently lost but I don’t really buy into that but in research I did find some interesting facts. With cardinals, they are mates for life. They don’t mind the cold weather so that is why their bright red plumage shows up so well against the snow covered trees.
In many cultures they are thought to be messengers from the spirit world. Their bright red feathers represent love, boldness and passion. Their resilience of harsh weather can bring hope for hard times. Cardinals are appreciated as good fortune bearers and they remind the followers of Christ of His red blood that was shed for us. They are also symbols of Christmas, the celebration of Christ’s birth. They bring joy, song, harmony and happiness to people’s homes and lives. I have one that sits on my tree in the living room.
As you go out in the world, open your eyes to the beauty of creation. Even the tiniest of flowers can bring a smile knowing that God placed it there for you to enjoy.
And always remember the value of kindness. Like a single bloom that makes you smile, a single act of kindness can bring sunshine to someone’s gray day.
In following along with Linda G Hills One Liner Wednesday, we add the cute monkey that represents Peace, Love and One Liner Wednesday.
Have you ever thought of how you treat others as producing fruit? Think of how you feel when someone is rough with you. It hurts like a barb from a pine cone. If you are not familiar with that analogy I promise its no picnic. Then in the opposite direction you have someone who is over sweet in action but you can tell its not sincere, I smell a rotten orange here.
I find it interesting that there are 27 references in the bible (old testament and new) that compares how you treat others as ‘bearing fruit’. Fruit, back in biblical times, was probably not as abundant as it is today so it made a good reference to help people understand the sweetness of following God. Galatians 5:22 even list the Fruits of the Spirit – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Love, I believe is listed first as this is the binding agent of everything we do. All of these fruits overlap at times but consistent use of them only strengthens our trunk. Colossians 1:10 tells us to bear fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. And Matthew 7:16 reminds us that by their fruit you will recognize them. And Jesus also reminds us in Matthew 12:33 “Make a tree good…for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”
We are God’s tree and must strive to only bare good fruit. Do we slip up and and produce rotten fruit periodically? Yes but God’s grace plucks that bad fruit and tosses it in the nearest trash can, pruning that branch to strengthen it where good fruit will again be produced. It’s a process that we must cultivate and fertilize daily.
Of all of the fruits listed, my favorite is kindness. Even when you are hurt or angry and in a dark place, if you can pull kindness from your tree, the rotten fruit trying to sprout will not be allowed to fester and grow. Sometimes your kindness may be all that is needed to break the ice of a frozen pond of fear and rejection.
October is a time when Hollywood throws out all the adrenaline rush garbage of horror movies. Me, I am not a fan but I know plenty who love a good horror movie and Hollywood keeps them coming as they make money. I saw recently on the science channel the stories of mythical beast, like flying dragons and bull/man type animals that walk on two legs.
When we see something we can not understand and try to describe it to others, they may not believe it and mythical tales can begin to take shape.Take for instance the book of Revelation and all the the things John saw that he could not explain easily where the readers would understand what he was seeing. So to some, Revelations is mythical and far fetched in nature. To Christian it is truth and we accept his vision on faith.
I want to touch on two stories that were believed truths of their time that I find almost humorous now due to our knowledge of today. One is biblical and one goes back to the 1400’s or further.
The biblical story is the Tower of Babel as told in the book of Genesis in chapter 11:4 and it says “Come let us build a city with a tower to the heavens”. Now their purpose of this tower was not to honor God but to honor themselves which then created the story we now believe to be true.
Knowing what we learned say 100 years ago, much less what we know about the heavens today, the tower would still be under construction, still not reaching even through the outer atmosphere. The size of the tower would have to cover the entire face of one side of earth and still not be big enough.
Every day we are learning more on how vast space is and just how tiny we are and for someone to think a tower could be built that could reach the heavens makes me smile. The earth’s atmosphere from ground up is about 300 miles – that would be a tall building. These are currently the tallest buildings worldwide.
Another ancient story we now scoff at is the theory of the world being flat and if you sailed to the oceans edge you will fall off and be eaten by huge monsters that live there.
Our world is a beautiful roundish ball of amazing complexity created for us to live on. If we were on Venus, we would burn up, if on Mars we would freeze.
What a magnificent blue marble we live on. May we always protect her as I feel she is very angry right now. We have not been good stewards of her beauty and resources.
And in closing I always remind us all the wonderful gift of Kindness. May we spread it like jelly on toast, thick and sweet.
We have all gotten use to the special days of recognition like Mother’s Day, Father’s day, Grandparent’s, Kids Day and then commercialization really got hold of it to the digression of Pizza day, really?
But today is World Communion Day. How awesome is that? Think about it. All Christ based churches came together today to share communion on the same day to honor our God for giving us Christ; to honor Christ for giving us salvation and to honor the act of Remembrance of Him in sharing the loaf and the cup. All denominations who honor Christ have details in their service that they do differently. Some use wine, some use juice, some have bread, some have wafers but they do it toward the same purpose – to honor our LORD and what He did for us.
All four Gospels tell of the story of the last supper and as Jesus broke the bread he explained that it represented His body and as He passed the wine how it represented His blood shed for all and that this communion between mind, body and spirit with God was to be done as a remembrance of His love.
What an awesome thing for the world to do in coming together as one as we each spread our outstretched hands of love for fellow Christians…across the world. May all feel the love He has shown for us everyday and may we come together in one heart of love for Him and fellow Christians across the world.
And in closing, as I always remind myself and others, Be Kind. Let you kindness be ripples of love as they flow across the waters of life never ceasing.