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!

Nov 26, 2009

Now Thank We All Our God

Wishing everyone a day full of thankfulness to the Giver of all that is good.

Nov 22, 2009

Reaping an eternal reward...

This past week, I visited a dear lady who has been living at our local Alzheimer's facility for a while. She is now under Hospice care. I think she just turned 86.

Mary is special to me because she is someone who, many years ago, impacted my life for good. I knew her and her family because we went to the same church when I was growing up, and I was good friends with her oldest daughter.

She was a no-nonsense type of children's church leader, but she was always soft spoken and kind. Her heart's desire was to share the love of Jesus with children, which she did through telling stories, teaching songs, and offering crafts, both at church and regularly in her home.

The beginning and the end of Mary's days on earth were not easy ones. I know that she grew up in an orphanage. She married a man who grew up in the same orphanage, and together they raised four lovely and musically talented daughters. They were the ideal family, serving the Lord faithfully and with passion.

Unfortunately, after decades of marriage, Mary found out her husband was not the man she thought he was. He left her for a younger woman in another state, and left the relationships with his grown daughters as well. It was a devastating blow not only to the family, but also to the church community.

On the heels of the lost marriage, Mary began having symptoms of Alzheimer's. Slowly the disease robbed her of what was left of the life she once knew. Before she got too bad, I had an opportunity to tell her point blank how much I loved her and how much she had influenced me as a child, and how I've never forgotten the fun times I had in her home painting plaster molded plaques and singing songs and listening to her flannelgraph stories.

One time when I was about to visit her at the nursing home, her daughters told me that she no longer recognized them. I went anyway, taking along my mom and another lady friend who have known Mary for many years. We found her in the dining room area, staring blankly at the food on the tray in front of her. She obviously did not know who we were. I told her that my dad was now in heaven. She looked up at me and repeated his name, with obvious recognition, and smiled. Then it was gone.

The three of us chit-chatted for a while about "the old days" and Mary would occasionally look at us, but mostly had that familiar far-away look in her eyes. Her hands also shook, and she had a confused, worried look on her face. Finally I decided to go look in her room as I was sure she would have a bible in there somewhere, and I wanted to read her some verses.

Sure enough, I found it, and it was full of favorite passages that were underlined, and handwritten notes were all over the margins, remnants of years of bible study. I flipped through her bible, and came to the 23rd Psalm. I began reading it aloud. Slowly, the tremors in Mary's hands stopped. She became peaceful. As she folded her hands in her lap, she turned her face heavenward, closed her eyes, and there was a slight smile on her face.

Then she started reciting the familiar verses with me! Here, a woman whose mind has been stolen by a terrible disease, and who didn't even know her own loving daughters, was able to recall the Word of God that had been planted deep in her heart years prior! Tears were running down my face and I could barely get the words out. Once again, Mary was having a profound impact on my life.

The other day when I visited her, she was much more detached from her surroundings, but resting peacefully in her bed. It was hard to know what to say, but again, I found her bible and read Psalm 23. She again tilted her head upward, and with the faintest smile in her eyes and on her lips, listened to the words. This time she was quiet. Her hands only stopped shaking when they were being held.

Through tears and with a great effort to control my trembling voice, I said softly, "Mary, you have a glorious reward waiting for you. You have served the Lord faithfully all your life." In my heart, but not out loud, I said "you will see Him soon."

In this season of harvest and all the Thanksgiving holiday represents, I'm reminded that I, too, someday will be leaving this life on earth. Some day I may be too old or too sick to be busy preparing my favorite holiday recipes. Some day I may not even be able to recognize my loved ones. Some day, life as I have always known it will be non-existent.

Just as a farmer reaps the fall harvest of the crops he sowed much earlier in the spring, the day will come when we will reap an eternal reward for the sowing we did in our lifetimes. Only eternity will tell the lives that have been impacted by Mary and by the seeds that she so lovingly sowed in the hearts of young children for so many years. But there is a law of sowing and reaping that is certain and will be fully known someday.

May we be mindful of the seeds we plant each day of our lives, knowing that harvest time is coming. Be encouraged my friend, and don't grow weary.

"...he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward."--Proverbs 11:18

UPDATE: My beloved childhood teacher, Saint Mary Talbot, entered into the eternal joy of the Lord this morning, Sunday November 29, 2009. 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 16, 2009

Are you getting ready? The holidays are upon us!

graphic from

*Thanksgiving memories, recipes, and tips will be posted every day this week at and then Christmas items will be posted after that. My hope is that readers will also share their items of interest! It's still not too late to be making up a Christmas jar to give away to someone anonymously. If you don't know about it, click here:

Oh how my heart is beginning to feel the joy of the season...Thankfulness and giving. What a wonderful combination of attitudes. This year the holidays will brings lots of changes as many folks, out of necessity, will be cutting back on spending. Us included. I feel so challenged to look beyond busyness and commercialism and turn my focus to the real legacy my heart wants to leave for my children and grandchildren: a truly grateful heart for all of my blessings; giving the gift of quality time to those who are dear to me; a cheerful heart and countenance throughout the season in spite of a more crowded than usual calendar; less time spent at the mall and more time spent at home making memories; opening my eyes to see those in need all around me and doing what I can to ease someone's burden. Smile more. Stress less. Pray more. Worry less. Being more sensitive to those for whom the holiday season brings painful memories, especially those who have lost family members and loved ones. Being more intentional about keeping a sane margin around my life to save time to nourish my soul with books, music, and quiet time. Remembering with gratitude the pilgrims who sacrificed so much for the sake of religious freedom. Contemplating the old, old story of the Christ child, the shepherds, the angels, all the miracles of that holy night. Realizing that as we look forward to Christmas each year, we also look forward to the day He will come again, not as a babe in a manger, but as a victorious ruler in power and great glory!

Be blessed my friend. And give thanks with a grateful heart. Every day of this season I intend to ask God to show me something new that will help me to grow in producing the good fruit of His spirit in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Won't you join me?

graphic from

Nov 13, 2009

Angels unaware...

Angels Ministering to Christ in the Wilderness by  Thomas Cole
Angels Ministering to Christ in the Wilderness
by Thomas Cole

When I was a child back in the '50's, I remember reading a little book by Dale Evans Rogers called
Angel Unaware. It is the story of the little daughter of Dale Evans and Roy Rogers, named Robin Elizabeth, who was born with Downs Syndrome and who only lived 2 1/2 years. The title of the book is taken from the biblical passage Hebrews 13:2, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares".

A description of the book from

"Though Robin's time on earth was short, she changed her parents' lives and even made life better for other children born with special needs in the years to come. Angel Unaware is Robin's account of her life as she looks down from heaven. As she speaks to God about the mission of love she just completed on earth, the reader sees how she brought her parents closer to God and encouraged them to help other children in need. This book...changed the way America treated children with special needs..."

I think that was probably the first time I really thought much about angels, and not only has the story stuck with me, but the belief that angels are real and can take on many forms to perform their duties. Angels are referred to throughout the Bible, and I find them to be quite intriguing creations.

It's probably really hard to know for sure when we have had an encounter with a real angel sent from God. I'm certain there are many instances that we have been helped by an angel that we have been totally unaware of. But here is a story of something that happened to me and my husband a couple of years ago. I do believe it was a real life angel encounter!

Our older son and his family live in South Carolina, and especially now that we have grandchildren there, we try to run down from Ohio to see them several times a year. Unfortunately, I'm not recalling the exact date of this particular visit, but I know it was over a Labor Day weekend, and I'm thinking it may have been in 2004.

In any event, we set out to leave for home right after breakfast on Tuesday after the holiday weekend, which was approximately a 10 hour road trip. We knew the weather forecast was calling for rain because there was a hurricane moving from the Atlantic across the region (Frances?). We hoped to get a head start and head north as quickly as we could.

To back up just a bit: I am a very good traveler under perfect conditions. That means no rain, sleet, snow, fog, and no darkness. One of the demons I fight is my fear of the combination of highway speed and bad weather. It's just a big issue with me and I have no idea why. But I can have a serious anxiety attack when the conditions are "wrong". My husband is a great driver in any weather so it has nothing to do with him. (Probably more about my sense of the loss of control!)

We got about an hour up I-77N when the heavy rain started. I have never in my life experienced rain like that. It was coming down like it was the end of the world. Before too long, we could not see a thing in front of us. I was so terrified I thought I was going to die from not being able to breathe. We had to go quite a while with our wipers on full speed, not that it helped. Pretty soon, the rubber part of the driver's side wiper started inching up the metal blade. It was flopping all around and totally unable to clear the windshield to provide the least bit of visibility. Out of my side window, I thought I saw a sign for a gas station at the next exit. My husband somehow got us off the highway and we pulled into a tiny station with a little convenience store.

I was shaking so badly and I didn't even want him to get out of the car into the rain coming down in heavy sheets. But he went into the little store to see if someone had a tool he could use to try to fix the wiper blade. He came back to report that they did not. I just started to cry. I felt so helpless and scared of the long trip ahead of us. Just then, a small pickup truck pulled into the space beside me. I told my husband, "I bet that guy has some tools!"

While the man was inside the little convenience store, my husband tried one more time to fiddle with the wiper blade. Just then, the man appeared before him and asked if we needed some help. Hubby explained about the wiper and the man went to his truck to get a tool and within seconds it seemed, had our wiper fixed. We never had a chance to thank the guy...he was gone as quickly as he had appeared on the scene. All of this happened in what could not have been more than 3-4 minutes.

While I still didn't want to get back onto the highway, my husband wanted to persevere. Gradually we drove out of the heaviest rain, but it did continue to rain the entire way back to Ohio.

I really was too engrossed in the circumstances at the time to think this man could have been an angel. But looking back, I am fully convinced in my own mind. And totally grateful. What do you think?

Have you had an experiences that made you think twice about the reality of angels?

"Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?" Hebrews 1:14

Nov 11, 2009

How's your love life?

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1If I can speak in the tongues of men and even of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God's love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

2And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have sufficient faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God's love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody).

3Even if I dole out all that I have to the poor in providing food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God's love in me), I gain nothing.

4Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

5It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it--it pays no attention to a suffered wrong.

6It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

7Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything without weakening.

8Love never fails, never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end. As for prophecy (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away it will lose its value and be superseded by truth.

9For our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect).

10But when the complete and perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become antiquated, void, and superseded).

11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.

12For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection of reality as in a riddle or enigma, but then when perfection comes we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood by God.

13And so faith, hope, love abide; faith--conviction and belief respecting man's relation to God and divine things; hope--joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love--true affection for God and man, growing out of God's love for and in us, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (I Cor. 13, The Amplified Bible, Zondervan)


It almost seems presumptuous to make any of my own comments to follow one of the most often quoted and beloved passages of Scripture. I do enjoy reading passages in different versions or translations of the Bible from time to time just to get a new perspective or to "hear" something I may have missed in a familiar version.

Can we even imagine what it would be like to stand before the Lord on judgment day and hear Him say "you were a noisy gong and clanging symbol! Yes, you talked a lot about spiritual things, but you were so heavenly minded, you were no earthly good! Why didn't you share my love?"

And what about all those spiritual gifts we have, like prophesy (teaching), knowledge, faith? Elsewhere in the Bible a warning is given: "to whom much is given, much is required." (Luke 12:48)

Certainly we are called to do good works, like giving to the poor and needy. What is our attitude behind our giving? Do we serve to make ourselves feel better or look good, or because we truly love?

The rest of the verses tell us what love should look like. Are we patient and kind when the line is long at the grocery store? Or when that guy pulls out in front of us in traffic? (or do we "display ourselves haughtily"?)

And when was the last time we paid no attention when we wrongly suffered?

Are we rejoicing (publicly) with the truth or are we often afraid to be known as "one of them"?

How about this one: Are we willing and ready to believe the best of every person, or do we judge them far too quickly on limited information we might think we have?

Do we hold steadfast when life throws us a curveball, because we know that when we are full of God's love, we are able to endure without weakening?

Someday our spiritual gifts that were meant to be used in this life will all pass away. Everything we thought was of such great value will be superseded and replaced with truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the Truth! Everything we know and everything we are is, for now, incomplete and imperfect. All of that will vanish someday and we will see things clearly! We will know and fully understand! And here's the part I really like and hold on to: "even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood by God." (Amp)

Our relationship with God will remain. Our eternal salvation will remain. Our love for God and man will remain. But of the three, love is the greatest!


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