Dec 26, 2009

Christmas interrupted...

After celebrating the early part of Christmas Eve with our friends, which I will post about later, my hubby and I went to pick up his 83 year old mom to take her to her church for the 11 pm Christmas Eve service, which has become our tradition ever since his dad passed away. We found her not feeling well and having trouble breathing. We called EMS and spent the rest of Christmas Eve in the ER with her, till about 2:30 am when they finally got her into the critical care unit. Turns out she had a completely collapsed lung and her oxygen level was not where it needed to be.

So...I went ahead and baked the ham Christmas Day and had the (in town) kids and grandkids over and went through the motions of opening the gifts, but we didn't even set the table and make the rest of the planned food. My mom went to my brother's house instead. Hubby and I hurried off to the hospital since they have restricted visiting hours in critical care.

We are quite exhausted, and not sure where this is all leading right now.

I'm so happy I had faithfully and joyfully "kept" Advent, and I am being so blessed by the 90 day on-line study group discipline I've been doing. Also I'm grateful for the many many hours I was able to spend with two of the grandchildren and also with my mom and friends during the month before Christmas, living "in the moment" and not stressing over the holidays, but joyfully anticipating and contemplating the meaning of it all, and joyously singing Advent hymns I hadn't looked at in a long time.

While none of this was a surprise to God, we are sort of like the deer in the headlights, stopped dead in our tracks. When I get a chance, I will share our adventures of playing Santa and our "You've Been Gifted" and "Christmas Jars" stories. The season has truly been a blessing. Tomorrow is my family's big party, with four generations getting together. I hope we will be able to be there. Then our SC branch of the family will be arriving on New Year's we still have much joy to look forward to.

I'm looking forward to hearing all of your stories as well. I have a feeling after the first of the year there will be a flurry of activity in the blogosphere! In the meantime, may God's peace be with you all.

Dec 22, 2009

Memory-making in progress...

Please go over to my other blog to see what's been going on with us lately. And if I don't get back to blogging for a few days, I want to wish everyone the merriest Christmas ever! I'm grateful for the new friendships I have made through this amazing technology! Looking forward to getting to know you all better in 2010 and catching up with your blogs as well. God bless us, everyone!

Dec 20, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Advent Meditation

Tonight my husband and I are relaxing in our family room in the peaceful glow of the four lit candles on our advent wreath. It's hard to believe that Christmas is only a few days away. I still have a few things I need to get done, but I've been trying to pace myself this year and simplify as much as I can.

This year I made a 90-day commitment to an on-line study group which basically has been a spiritual discipline of reading a book and Scripture, journaling, prayer, and listening to or singing godly music each day, with the accountability of a weekly "check-in". I started this in mid-November, and I am so grateful that I did. I thought it would be a good way to help keep my inner life focused on spiritual things as I moved through the holidays and into the new year. I have not found it to be difficult at all, and I usually do it first thing in the morning before my day gets ahead of me. The whole discipline takes me about 45 minutes at the start of each day.

Now you know why I've posted so many Advent hymns lately. Along with my book, my Bible, my journaling notebook, I have kept a couple hymnbooks nearby, and I've enjoyed singing songs I haven't sung or heard for a long time.

So here is one more song that we don't hear too often in churches anymore, but I thought I would share these words with you tonight, and I pray that you will find room in your heart for Jesus in the midst of the busyness of this holiday season. Think on these words as you go through the last few days of Christmas preparations. Save room in your schedule for the King!

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word,
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

When the heav’ns shall ring, and her choirs shall sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”

My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

(Listen to the melody here)

Dec 17, 2009

read about random acts of kindness!

I previously wrote about our church's goal of "gifting" 5000 people in our area through random acts of kindness of our members this Christmas season. (Previous post.)

I just wanted to point out that you can read about some of these on our church's website. The stories will keep coming in, so check back now and then! Go to and click on the yellow "you've been gifted" tab when it comes up.

I have been so blessed to participate in this kind of giving this Christmas season, as well as doing a Christmas Jar. Read about that here.

I hope some of you will share some of the ways your eyes have been opened to look around and see others you've been able to bless with a random act of kindness.

"Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
Hebrews 10:24

*graphic courtesy of Penniwig's

Dec 15, 2009

Of the Father's Love Begotten...

What could be the oldest known Christmas carol is also one of my favorites. Sadly, it is not heard very often in Christian churches today. I'm grateful that I learned this hymn. Singing it somehow makes me feel united with the saints of old.

The author of the words, Marcus Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, was born in the year 348 in a Roman province in what is now northern Spain. Originally it was probably sung as a chant. The words were set to music in the 11th Century, and translated from Latin to English in the 1800's.

It is said that music is the universal language. I think that is because it has the ability to reach into the depths of the human soul. While the words of this hymn are filled with praise to God, the music is almost haunting, as if to say, "How can you not believe? This is love eternal!"

Take a few moments this Advent season to join your voice with those ancient believers and feel the power of God pull you to Himself. Be blessed! Evermore and evermore!

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be, He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He, Of the things that are, that have been, And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

At His Word the worlds were framèd; He commanded; it was done: Heaven and earth and depths of ocean in their threefold order one; All that grows beneath the shining Of the moon and burning sun, evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know, That the race of Adam’s children doomed by law to endless woe, May not henceforth die and perish In the dreadful gulf below, evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace, By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race; And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord; Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word; Now He shines, the long expected, Let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing; Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King! Let no tongue on earth be silent, Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Righteous judge of souls departed, righteous King of them that live, On the Father’s throne exalted none in might with Thee may strive; Who at last in vengeance coming Sinners from Thy face shalt drive, evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men, thee let boys in chorus sing; Matrons, virgins, little maidens, with glad voices answering: Let their guileless songs re-echo, And the heart its music bring, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee, Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be: Honor, glory, and dominion, And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

Listen here:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Dec 13, 2009

please read...

Dear friends,

Please find time, I ask you, to visit this blog:

written by my blogging friend, Lori. She has a great perspective on her life, which has been, as she says, "interrupted". She also refers to two other excellent blog posts that are well worth the read.

It's all about love, and we should never forget that! Thank you Lori!

your friend,

Third Sunday of Advent Meditation

Traditional Advent Candle Wreaths have three purple candles and one pink or rose colored candle, and often a white candle in the middle. The color purple symbolizes both royalty and penitence. Today, the rose colored candle is lit. This color represents joy, which we can experience in the midst of our sorrow for our sin, because we know the Light of the World has come. The white candle is not lit until Christmas Day, and is called the Christ candle. Evergreens surrounding the candle wreath symbolizes everlasting life.

As we have move through the Advent season and contemplate the wonder of Christmas, we become one with those who have waited in darkness for the revelation of God's light and those who dared hope that God's salvation would come in the birth of a child. We are challenged to avoid those things in our lives that distract us from truly celebrating God's gift of love in Jesus. All that we do this season should reflect that love and our celebrating and giving should extend beyond our immediate circle of family and friends, to those who most need a touch of love and caring.

Take a moment to visit this link and enjoy one of my favorite Advent Hymns, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel:

Dec 11, 2009

just can't help myself...

Had the two grands here four days this week, with my camera always at the ready. Please indulge me just a few more pictures!

Elylah and I are reading and listening to a CD. This book is "Grandpa's Magical Accordian" by my dear blogger friend, Jessica Errico and the music is by her husband, Tony Errico. Check it out here: This would make a wonderful Christmas present for the little people in your life!

I am so filled with joy to see the world through the eyes of a child. Ethan is very close to walking on his own...and he loves to inch his way over to the tree! I can't believe he is my 4th grandchild! How'd THAT happen so fast??

Here he goes, sneaking up the steps...

But what goes up, must come down...he's "sliding"...

This photo came out a little dark, but it was so precious. It was only 15 degrees here in NE Ohio, and though they were excited to see a light snowfall, there was no way we could play outside!

Elylah begged me to promise she could do a few more cookies after a little nap. She is using her equipment and apron that Aunt Ellie gave her last year...I love having a helper in the kitchen after raising two boys and no daughters!

I helped her quickly whip up some frosting, and to save time, she just frosted and decorated some store bought, already baked sugar cookies. Worked for her, worked for me! She has her children's recipe book and I heard her muttering "Step One", "Step Two" etc. as she worked. She is just turning four on Christmas Eve, so she's not really reading yet. It was so cute!

I think part of the joy of grandparenting must come from the experience of seeing how fast our own children grew up and left the nest. (sniff, sniff)... I treasure each and every moment I have with the little ones, knowing how quickly it all will be a memory (sniff again). My SC family can't come up till New Year's weekend, with Andy have responsibilities at the church. So we will just be extending our Christmas season out another week or 10 days! I can't wait till they all get here and share some more pictures.

Dec 10, 2009

The Many Names of Jesus

A dozen years ago, I made up a list of 50 names of Jesus (there are others but I only took 50) and typed them, along with their Scripture reference, on nice 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of parchment paper and framed them for Christmas gifts. Each name was typed in a different font. I'm not able to do that here, but you can get the idea. I will list the names I used. Feel free to copy them and use your creativity to do something with them if you like with your word processing program. I titled mine "And Thou Shalt Call His Name" and at the bottom in small print I put "Fifty name of Jesus taken from the King James Version of The Holy Bible" and "Merry Christmas 1997 from Bob & Jacque Stager"

(If you see any errors here, please let me know.
I don't have it saved on my new computer so I just quickly retyped this.)

Jesus Matt. 1:21
Immanuel Matt. 1:23
Wonderful Counselor Isa. 9:6
Mighty God Isa. 9:6
Everlasting Father Isa. 9:6
Prince of Peace Isa. 9:6
Son of the Highest Luke 1:32
Light of the World John 8:12
Son of God John 1:34
Messiah John 1:41
Savior II Peter 2:20
The Root and Offspring of David Rev. 22:16
Lion of the tribe of Judah Rev. 5:5
Prince of Life Acts 3:15
Lord of All Acts 10:36
I AM John 8:58
The Bright and Morning Star Rev. 22:16
Advocate I John 2:1
Word of Life I John 1:1
Lamb of God John 1:29
Chief Cornerstone Eph. 2:20
Holy One of God Mark 1:24
Dayspring from on High Luke 1:78
The Door John 10:9
Son of Man Matt. 19:28
Shepherd and Bishop of Souls I Peter 2:25
Prophet of the Highest Luke 1:76
Faithful Witness Rev 1:8
Governor Matt 2:6
The Resurrection and the Life John 11:25
Horn of Salvation Luke 1:69
King of Kings and Lord of Lords Rev. 19:16
Head of the Church Col. 1:18
Man of Sorrows Isa. 53:3
Lord Jesus Christ Acts 15:11
High Priest Heb. 8:1
The Chief Shepherd I Peter 5:4
Prince of the Kings of the Earth Rev. 1:5
The firstborn of every creature Col. 1:15
Good Shepherd John 10:11
The Living One Rev. 1:18
Sun of Righteousness Mal. 4:2
Author and Finisher of our Faith Heb. 12:2
The Way, The Truth, and The Life John 14:6
Righteous Judge II Tim. 4:8
The First Begotten of the Dead Rev. 1:8
Bread of Life John 6:35
The True Vine John 15:1
The Almighty Rev. 1:8
The Alpha and Omega Rev. 22:13

"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
(Phil. 2:10-11)

Dec 9, 2009

Getting ready for Christmas and having so much fun!

Here are just a couple of recent photos of what's been going on at my house. Enjoy!

Elylah helped decorate the tree last week...

finding a pretty angel in the box...

Thirty three years worth of ornaments!

Ethan takes it all in!

And decides he doesn't want to be left out!

Found these plaster ornaments at JoAnn Fabrics for only 33 cents each...

First we painted them, then added the glitter and a clear finishing spray

Yesterday we decorated pre-baked gingerbread cookies, which I bought at the end of the season last year for about 80% off the original price...

I was amazed at how easy it was to do, and a lot of fun...

As soon as I got the mess cleaned up, Elylah decided we should do the tree, too!

Today we will wrap some of Elylah's ornaments for gifts, and also make some candy-filled "crackers" with empty toilet paper rolls! (
And now I need to go put some Christmas music on!

What's going on at your house??

Dec 6, 2009

Second Sunday of Advent Meditation...

This year I've been hearing a lot about how Christ came into the world in the "fullness of time." That means that He made His appearance in history at the appropriate time, or at just the right time. The Bible tell us this:

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. " (Galatians 4:4-5, ESV)

I am sure there is much more deep theological meaning to this phrase "fullness of time" than I have a handle on. But I've been thinking about the times of the Roman Empire, and all the roads that were built during that time. This made it possible for the Gospel of Christ to be spread far and wide like at no other previous time in history. Amazing. What mankind thought was something of his own doing to show his own power and glory, God had another idea.

Today we have the internet. Again, a genius invention of mankind. In "real time" people can be in touch with each other instantly though separated by thousands of miles. But this tool has also enabled the Gospel to spread to the far corners of the earth like never before. God had another idea.

Another thing that is happening in today's world is that many countries have become officially "closed" to missionaries bringing in the Gospel in the former ways. But at the same time, people from some of these countries are free to move to other places for the purpose of education or business. There, they can freely hear the Gospel and many have responded. God had another idea.

During the Advent season as we recall the first coming of Christ, we also look to his return, or Second Coming. It is no longer difficult to imagine how the whole world will have an opportunity to hear the Good News of Christ before He comes again. And it will be just at the right time. God has it totally in His control. We live in an amazing time in history, when the fulfillment of time as we know it surely cannot be too far in the future.

Are you getting ready for His coming?

Dec 4, 2009

A random act of kindness...

Our church has started a tradition at Christmas time called, "You've Been Gifted". We have "business" cards available to pass out to folks we want to gift in restaurants or coffee shops. On one side, the cards say:

"You've Been Gifted. At Hudson Community Chapel we believe the greatest gift that God has given the world is Jesus. This gift for you is our way of sharing the gift of Jesus. We pray you enjoy it."

The other side has our church's website, service times, and location. (

The idea is to do this anonymously by having a waitress bring someone else's bill to you and leaving the church's card with them instead.

Believe me, with over 3000 folks attending our services each weekend, we are really not doing this to scout for new members. (We've had to turn people away for lack of parking spaces, and we have a shuttle service for members willing to park off-site to create more spaces.)

Last year our church received many thank you letters from those who had been gifted by members...and there were all kinds of heart-warming stories. This gesture simply flies in the face of what our world is all about, especially during a frenzied holiday season. People are stopped dead in their tracks to think that a stranger would pick up their bill. It's a random act of kindness that brings a smile to someone's face and softens their heart.

I can't wait for my husband and I to have the opportunity to do this. It will be a lot of fun. Perhaps I'll look for someone to gift who seems all frazzled and stressed out. Maybe a young family with whiney kids. Or perhaps a senior citizen who is alone. Blessing someone in the name of the One who has blessed us so much. Anonymously. Because of love. I can't wait!

Dec 2, 2009

The King Shall Come...

This Advent season, more than any other I can remember, I have been thinking not only of the birth of Jesus when He first came to earth, but also of His second coming, when He will return to take His own to be with Him in heaven.

The phrase "He's coming soon!" is one I've heard all my life. Some have grow weary of waiting, after all, it's been over 2000 years since He ascended to His Father. Others have tried to predict the date of His return. But Jesus told us that He Himself doesn't even know, only the Father.

Actually the word "soon" is a little mistranslated. The meaning is more like "quickly". When Jesus comes again, it will be a sudden event. The curtain will fall on history as we have known it, and we shall at last see the light of Christ in all His splendor.

The words to this old Advent hymn say it so beautifully:

The King Shall Come
John Brownlie (1859-1925)

The King shall come when morning dawns
And light triumphant breaks,
When beauty gilds the eastern hills
And life to joy awakes.

Not as of old a little child,
To bear and fight and die,
But crowned with glory like the sun
That lights the morning sky.

Oh, brighter than the rising morn
When Christ, victorious, rose
And left the lonesome place of death
Despite the rage of foes.

Oh, brighter than that glorious morn
Shall dawn upon our race
The day when Christ in splendor comes
And we shall see his face.

The King shall come when morning dawns
And light and beauty brings.
Hail, Christ the Lord! Your people pray:
Come quickly, King of kings.

Nov 29, 2009

First Sunday of Advent Meditation

What is Advent?

Advent is the season in the Christian calendar that precedes Christmas. It is a time of anticipation and waiting to celebrate the Nativity of Christ. It is at once a time of joy and penitence, as Christians prepare their hearts to remember the incarnation of their God. It is also a time to anticipate the second coming of the Lord, a future event that Christians believe is just as certain as His first coming. The first time He came as a babe in a manger, born of a virgin, God in human flesh. When He comes again, He will come in power and great glory and His kingdom will reign forever.

Love Comes Down

"I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your glory dwells." Psalm 26:8 (King David)

In Old Testament times, the glory of God dwelled in the Holy of Holies in the Temple, a most sacred area that was behind a curtain. Only the high priest could go in there and only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, to offer a blood sacrifice for the sins of the people. So sacred was that place where God's glory dwelled, that the High Priest had a rope tied around his ankle in the event he would drop dead, so that he could be pulled out.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us...

For years, the ancient prophets foretold of One who would come to be the Savior of God's people, Israel. His name would be called Emmanuel, which means, "God with us". God Himself would come to dwell among the peoples of the earth...not hidden behind a veil but as a man who would live and die as one of us.

... We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. " John 1:14

John's Gospel records that he and other eye witnesses of Jesus Christ had seen and recognized the glory of the One who was begotten of the Father. At just the right time, God intervened in human history. The glory of His grace is demonstrated in His condescension. The purpose of His coming was to die. Simple, yet profound. Long expected, yet rejected. Mysterious, yet revealed. Emmanuel, God with us. Love came down.

"Savior of the Nations, Come"
by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

Savior of the nations, come,
Virgin's Son, make here Thy home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.

Not by human flesh and blood,
By the Spirit of our God,
Was the Word of God made flesh--
Woman's Offspring, pure and fresh.

Wondrous birth! O wondrous Child
Of the Virgin undefiled!
Though by all the world disowned,
Still to be in heaven enthroned.

From the Father forth He came
And returneth to the same,
Captive leading death and hell--
High the song of triumph swell!

Thou, the Father's only Son,
Hast o'er sin the victory won.
Boundless shall Thy kingdom be;
When shall we its glories see?

Brightly doth Thy manger shine,
Glorious is its light divine.
Let not sin o'ercloud this light;
Ever be our faith thus bright.

Praise to God the Father sing,
Praise to God the Son, our King,
Praise to God the Spirit be
Ever and eternally.

...present with the Lord

My beloved childhood teacher, Saint Mary Talbot, entered into the eternal joy of the Lord this morning. All four of her daughters were with her during the holy time of her passing. As I stated previously, only eternity will tell the number of lives she touched. May God be praised!

Nov 27, 2009

Highlights of a busy month in pictures...

Before I move on to Christmas things, I want to document a little of my life between the buns in the past month by posting some photos of the highlights. With this post I will officially say "good-bye" to a wonderful autumn season. I have been blessed by reading many wonderful blogs and seeing beautiful pictures that many have posted. I am so thankful for this technology that offers the ability to join lives across the nation and even around the world. I'm also very grateful to those more techy than I who share their gifts so generously. A heart felt THANK YOU to all who have chosen to link your lives with mine in the blogosphere. You have blessed me more than you can know! This past month has been an extremely busy one, as you can see by these highlights!

Here are some cute trick-or-treaters that came to our house...

Even the OSU coach stopped by...

And we met some new neighbors...

My grandaughter Elylah loved being Sleeping Beauty...

And my grandson Ethan was a skeleton...

While I was busy passing out candy to all these sweet children, a familiar car pulled into my driveway! My other two grandchildren arrived from South Carolina to spend a long weekend with us! I was so excited to see my daughter-in-law, Ellie, grandson Deacon (Thing One) and grandson Owen (Thing Two)!!! Wasn't she brave to drive 10 hours with the two boys? My son Andy couldn't get away this time.

So, here's the bunch that keep me young, or at least young at heart!

From left: Deacon, Elylah, (both 3) daughter-in-law Joanna, son Sam holding Ethan, (just turning one) daughter-in-law Ellie holding Owen (who will be two in Jan.)

While the boys were here, there were plenty of nice days left to play outside in the backyard. This picture of Deacon is one of my favorites:

And you can always count on Owen to smile for the camera:

Ethan won't fit in the baby swing next spring!

How about some "fall ball" with Deacon?

Elylah would really rather play in the leaves!

Three little monkeys...

Two budding artists...

Lunch with Amma Stager

And a visit to GG's condo...

(Deacon and Owen with my mom and my hubby)

How awesome they have two great grandmas here in Ohio!

Pretty soon, I will be taking all my techy questions to Deacon...

or to Elylah...

Shortly after the kids returned to SC, I had a friend over to make cut out cookies...
She has cerebral palsey so it was a bit of a challenge...but we managed and had a great time.

But the real challenge came when my son and daughter-in-law went away on vacation for 5 days and 4 nights, and we kept the two kids. We played musical beds, and they ate ice cream for breakfast one day. (I know, I can't believe it either!)

We baked cookies for Pre-School...

Made Christmas ornaments with GG...

Generally played and made lots of messes...

And at the end of the five days I definitely needed some rest! was time to celebrate Ethan's first birthday...

We had the party at my house, and Joanna and her mom furnished all the (yummy homemade Asian) food. Here I am with the other Grandma as Ethan enjoys his cake.

A few days later, it was Elylah's Pre-School's Thanksgiving luncheon and program.

And then, last but not least, Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in the party room of my mom's condo this year. It was different, but it worked out well. There ended up being 26 family members present. Before dinner, my nephew Robby gave a devotion.

Then he had each of us come up one at a time to place a piece of fruit in the cornucopia and tell one thing we were thankful for.

We had an elegant dinner on one side of the big room...
and there was plenty of space for all kinds of activities on the other side.

It was really a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

This morning we woke up to this beautiful scene from our front door:

Our first snowfall of the season...

Which makes it easier to say good-bye to a lovely fall and begin to focus on what is ahead. I can't wait to get decorated for Christmas!