Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Safer Than a Known Way

"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
'Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown.'
And he replied;
'Go out into the darkness and 
put your hand into the hand of God,
that shall be to you better than light, 
and safer than a known way.' "
~M.L. Haskins~

Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010 - Hope, Joy, Peace

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."  
Romans 15:13

This is our prayer for 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Earnestly Desire the Greater Gifts

We all made Christmas lists this year.  It was a family tradition when we were growing up... we had to have our "list" ready on Thanksgiving (or we didn't get Thanksgiving dinner).  O.K. maybe that's a little weird, but that's the way my grandparents did it.  So, we made our lists.  My kids circled the things they want MOST.  I made my list reluctantly.  Yes, there are things I would like, but mostly I just want my family together (and getting along!). But then in tearing off the next page in my Bible verse-a-day calendar (that I actually gave to my Dad last Christmas but then kept it after he passed away) and it said "earnestly desire the greater gifts".  For my kids, that would be expensive electronic "toys".  As I thought about it, yeah, this is what I want... LOVE.  I noticed a lot in the past year how often the phrase "Give thanks to the Lord for He is GOOD, His FAITHFUL LOVE endures forever" occurs in the Old Testament.  I/we have experienced His faithful love to us and His goodness, in spite of the very difficult, confusing and painful experiences of this past year.  I am asking God to help me love in the way He loves.  I earnestly desire this greatest gift.

The Way of Love
 1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

   Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.
 8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
 11When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
 12We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
 13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Politically Correct Greetings

(Borrowed from a friend)

To all my Democrat friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wish.

To all my Republican friends:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It's Christmas-Eve-Eve!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas gift suggestions

Borrowed from my friend, Alida:

Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Music

In my line of work I am around music ALL the time.  It's been a joy this season to be hearing the words to wonderful Christmas music (over and over and over... grin).  I've mentioned other times how much the words to hymns and songs touch my heart.  I'm so thankful for these deep rich words put to music. 
I know I don't have many readers, but those one or two  of you who do... take some time to really look at the words to the Christmas hymns (I'm not talkin' "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer") this week.  Let the words wash over you as you consider all that God has done for us.

"Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King!" 
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful all ye nations, rise!  Join the triumph of the skies!
With th'angelic hosts proclaim, 'Christ is born in Bethlehem!'
Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King!"

"Gloria in excelsis Deo!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Own Shoes

I’ve been thinking about shoes lately.   My predecessor apparently had awesome shoes.  When I asked one of my students about the former accompanist, one of the first things she mentioned about her was her shoes. Apparently she had quite a collection of them, one that was noticed and admired by the students.  I was suddenly embarrassed about my own shoes… black clogs…. very well worn and faded. I felt a little sheepish with such un-awesome shoes. But, they are comfortable. They fit me well. I have to walk around in them all day long and my feet don’t hurt me at the end of the day. In another way, my predecessor left very large shoes for me to fill. I’m realizing as the time passes at my new job just all that she did.

It reminds me of a story I heard a few months ago. A very large church in Northern California had a very well known pastor. The pastor died leaving quite a legacy. A new pastor was eventually selected and was being shown around the grounds. He heard the many stories of his predecessor, all the wonderful things he did and the many people he touched. As he ended the tour of the grounds, the elder showing him around turned and said; “You’ve got some mighty big shoes to fill!”  The wise pastor responded; “I’ve got my own shoes”.

Jesus came with his own “shoes”, too. When He came, others expected Him to wear the shoes they had for Him… the shoes of an emperor, a king, a liberator, a politician, a priest… But Jesus came with His own shoes, His own way of doing things, led by His Father. He did not fill the shoes others had for Him, yet He did exactly what He was called to do. He did not fit their image of what He should be yet He was exactly who they (and we) needed! Thank God He did not change His shoes and wear the ones others had for Him.

Sometimes churches have different “shoes” that they want their pastor to fill.  The shoes might be flip-flops (a more casual personality and approach to doing things), they could be sneakers, penny loafers, or hob-nail boots, whatever the shoes, and they are not “right” unless they are the pastor’s own shoes. Trying to wear someone else’s shoes can cause painful blisters, sore feet, and even difficulty standing and walking. It could throw the whole body out of alignment by wearing the wrong shoes. Trying to wear someone else’s shoes feels un-natural and uncomfortable. It’s best to let people “wear their own shoes”. Let them be who they are. This goes for pastors, accompanists, teachers, husbands and wives. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we don’t have standards. I’m just saying; let people wear their own shoes. Trust the ones who are wearing them to conduct their lives according to God’s plan and purpose for them.

Let’s give each other room to be ourselves! I’m glad I don’t have to wear the shoes left for me by my predecessor; they wouldn't fit me anyway. I have my own shoes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Happy anniversary to us!  19 years ago today I married the greatest, most wonderful, gentle, kind, loving, godly man ever!  We are hoping and praying for many, many more years together! 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Past, Present, Yet To Come

 "The Collector", "Jacob Marley", and "Martha Crachit".

Three of my kids are in the local High School production of "A Christmas Carol".  Last night was the first performance, tonight is the second.
Ever the pensive one, I begin to think of Christmases past, of Christmas present and Christmases yet to come.
Past: I have a few regrets, but none related to family except that I wish we hadn't let other things  distract us from family and focusing on Christ at Christmas. We needed to say "no" more often.  We also needed to say "it doesn't matter what people think" more often!
Present: It's good, but just sad because of being "orphans" as it were.  We have no more parents.  We're "it".  Thankfully we have siblings! I'm so thankful to have my little brother and his family nearby!  We enjoy our family traditions during the Advent season.  One of the things we do is to light our Advent candle and read a small section of a story each evening.  It helps us re-focus and bind us together more as a family.  I'm hoping my children will one day carry on this tradition with their families!

Christmases Yet to Come:  Like most people, we hope for good... (who would hope for bad?!) I look forward to happy Christmases with family and friends.  I long to have my children and (someday) grandchildren around us celebrating together.  I long for Christian friends who will simply reflect and celebrate with us "the reason for the season" (boy is that quote over-used!  But it says it well).
As Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, everyone!".  

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christ[mas] Presence

Last night we spent part of the evening at Exeter's downtown "Open House".  This is an annual event on the three Thursday nights before Christmas.  It's a very festive time... the stores are open late and most of them have food out for the patrons.  Our Madrigal choir did some "Caroling" downtown.   The local fire department was giving rides on old fire trucks for the kids, and "Santa" was there for photos with children.  All in all it's a great "home town" Christmas time.   But something was missing this year, the presence of a church at the downtown event.  For the past several years our church had a table downtown and gave away free cocoa and Christian literature as well as little "goodies" for the kids.  I wish we could have done that this year!  It makes me sad.    No Bibles, no books, no tracts were given out... no visible presence in the community of a church that gives freely at Christmas (because we have been given so much!)  We may not have done everything right, but we did care and we did reach out.  Now we care and reach out in smaller more quiet and individual ways.  Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be after all?  That will be our Christmas "presence" this year. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Writer's Block

I installed a counter to see how many people visit my blog.  Since I deleted what were perhaps the most "offensive" posts hardly anyone has gone on here!  I guess if I don't write something controversial or offensive no body even looks at my blog.  Hmmm... what to do?  Don't worry I won't go the "offensive" route.  I never mean to offend anyone anyway! Did you know that I once wore blue socks with black pants and brown shoes?  (Gasp!! In public!)
So... controversial topics:
How 'bout the Raiders this year?  (OK, I'm not into sports so I won't go there)
Obama's health care plan?  (where is that smiley face that looks like it's gagging?)
Global warming?  NOT!
Whether or not to say  "Merry Christmas!"  (I have "Merry Christmas" scrolling across my computer as a screen saver!)
I just can't think of what to write.  Sorry.  Maybe I'll be inspired tomorrow.