Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ring Out Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light;

The year is dying in the night,

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new

Ring happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go.

Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,

For those that here we see no more,

Ring out the feud of rich and poor,

Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,

And ancient forms of party strife;

Ring in nobler modes of life,

With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,

The faithless coldness of the times;

Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,

But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,

Ring out the narrowing lusts of gold'

Ring out the thousand wars of old,

Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,

The larger heart, the kindlier hand;

Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

This seems to have been written in 2011, but he lived 1809-1892

A Scripture for 2012...

"Behold, the former things have come to pass,

Now I declare new things;

Sing to the Lord a new song,

Sing His praise from the end of the earth!"

Isaiah 42:9-10

A challenge for 2012...

"It's never too late to live happily ever after!"

A poem found written in my mother's tiny handwriting...

"Thou broadenest out with every year

Each breath of life to meet.

I scarce can think Thou are the same,

Thou art so much more sweet.

Changed and not changed,

Thy present charms

Thy past ones only prove.

Oh, make my heart more strong to bear

This newness of Thy love.

Jesus, what hast Thou grown to now?

A joy all joys above--

Something more sacred than a fear,

More tender than a love.

With gentle swiftness lead me on,

Dear God, to see Thy face;

And meanwhile in my narrow heart,

Oh, make Thyself more place!


Avery and Ella, my seven year old granddaughters, read to me out of their baby book an entry when they were preschoolers...

Ella, "What are you doing? Why are you rubbing your chest?"

Avery, "God is so big, I'm trying to make my heart stretch to make more room for Him."

Make room in your heart for your Lord in 2011. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

"Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

I Corinthians 10:31

Thoughts for the new year...

"Life can only be understood backwards though it must be lived forwards."

Soren Kierkegaard

"Will I be submerged again...not only by distractions but by too many opportunities? The multiplicity of the world will crowd in on me again with its values weighed in quantity, not quality; in speed, not stillness; in noise, not silence; in words, not in thoughts; in acquisitiveness, not beauty. How shall I resist the onslaught? I will have to substitue another sense of values,. Island precepts, I might call them. Simplicity of living to retain a true awareness of life, Balance of physical, intellectual, and spiritual. Work without pressure. Space for significance and beauty. Time for solitude and sharing. Closeness to nature to strengthen understanding and faith. A few shells must be my island eyes." Anne Morrow Lindbergh, "Gifts of the Sea"

"She turns away from luxury and ease to the plainer home, the simpler life, the humbler surroundings, without a murmer."

J.R. Miller

Exercise patience,

Indulge a creative spirit,

Focus on what's important,

Receive graciously,

Experience joy,

Open up to love,


"Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect.

It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!"

(Paul) Galatians 6:11

Christmas letters, especially those with photos and newsy updates from dear friends are one of the joys of the season. None was cherished more than the one signed Callie whose script seemed to still be quivering from her tremulous 92 year old hand.

I grew up a PK, preacher's kid, far away from extended family. God provided gracious grandparents to adopt. Callie & John Young were there in the church my dad planted in North Kansas City. Everytime my parents went away to district meetings, up till the age of nine and we moved to California, I stayed with them. Earliest memories include having a bath in their farm kitchen sink. Callie has not failed to send a card for every birthday since then and, of course, Christmas cards. John passed away a few years ago, but Callie is still sending her precious Christmas letter with the help of her children. She relates how her favorite thing to do during the holidays is to have them read her all the letters and cards which have been sent to her over the years which she has kept and treasured. When I thought about not sending cards for the first time this year, I thought about Callie. Postage Stamps haven't gone up that much that I would deny her the pleasure she has given me over the years, letters. I don't write them by hand anymore like the Apostle Paul, but I refuse to let letters become extinct.

"More than kisses, letters mingle souls."

John Donne

"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved."

Victor Hugo

"I take God's letters, as I've done so many times, read them once more and allow them to become light on my path, for love is life with a pulsing heart...straight toward God."

Ingrid Trobisch

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thoughts for the new year...

Before you talk, listen.
Before you react, think.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.

Respond vs react.

"Always maintain a kind of summer even in the middle of winter."
Henry David Thoreau

"Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can." John Wesley

"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. BEHOLD, I WILL DO SOMETHING NEW, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it?...The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise." Isaiah 43:18-21

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.

Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.

Christ of the mysteries, I trust You to be stronger than each storm within me.

I will trust in the darkness and know that my times, even now, are in Your hand.

Tune my spirit to the music of heaven, and somehow,

make my obedience count for you."

The Prayer of St. Brenden


Daniel was given a vision of impending war and he went into mourning for three weeks. He ate no "choice food," no meat or wine. This has been called the Daniel fast. John Wesley wrote,

"First, let (fasting) be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on Him.

Let our intention herein be this, and this alone,

to glorify our Father which is in heaven."

Fasting is described in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus talks about prayer and fasting.

Look up on the internet like Jentezen Franklin on fasting or or Campus Crusade guide to fasting at -guide-to-fasting/index.htm.

Scriptures to read...

Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 9:14-15, Luke 18:9-14

There are many different ways to fast. Ask God to guide you. Some choose to fast entertainments such as electronics, shopping, special foods, etc. Others choose to forgo meat; others give up caffine as well, and desserts. Some choose to fast all but liquids for a limited time.

It can be a special personal time set aside for spiritual growth seeking God as well as a time in the body of Christ to call upon God for spiritual victories. You answer only to God. Many will begin this spiritual journey, like Daniel, for three weeks starting January 2.

"Thou wayfaring Jesus, a pilgrim and a stranger

exiled from heaven by love at Thy birth:

Exiled again from Thy rest in the manger,

A fugitive child mid the perils of earth--

Cheer with Thy fellowship all who are weary,

Wandering far from the land that they love;

Guide every heart that is homeless and dreary,

Safe to its home in Thy presence above."

Henry Van Dyke, 1852-1935

Monday, December 26, 2011

"As for me,

I am poor and needy:

but the Lord careth for me."

Psalm 40

Note on a baby left at the Foundling Hospital

18th Century

Today I was nursemaid Grandma since the twin babies as well as their mother and sister were sick. The greatest joy, the reward of a baby's smile, only takes the simplest pleasure like "peek-a-boo" or "patti-cake." These brought laughter that none of the new toys newly unwrapped from under the tree did. It makes me wonder what's our heavenly Father's pleasure since He has gone to great lengths, stretched from heaven to hell, to bring us everlasting joy. I believe, as with infants, it's the relationship that matters most, not the bells and whistles.

"Assuredly, I say to you,

unless you are converted and become as little children,

you will by no means enter the Kingdom of heaven.

Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around nhis neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

Matthew 18:3-6

Two things to do about the Gospel:

1. believe it.

2. Behave it.

Susannah Wesley writes that she told her daughter not to do something, her daughter did not listen. It was late and she and her mother were sitting beside a dead fire. Her mother said,

"Pick up that bit of coal."

"I don't want to."

"Go on, the fire is out."

"I know that. I know it won't burn me, but it will blacken my hands."

"Exactly," said Susannah. "That thing you wish to do won't burn, but will blacken, leave it alone."

In This House...

We believe in second chances,

We pray,

We never give up,

We try to do better,

We say, 'I'm sorry,'

We show respect,

We think of others first,

We trust in God,

We tell the truth,

We say, 'I love you.'

We are family.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Christmas Candles in windows bright

Send a greeting in the night..."

Marie Irish

"She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger..."

"Hush, my dear, lie still and slumber

Holy angels guard thy bed!

Heavenly blessings without number

Gently falling on thy head.

Sleep, my babe, thy food and rainment,

House and home thy friends provide,

All without thy care or payment,

All thy wants are well supplied.

How much better thou'rt attended

Then the Son of God could be,

When from Heaven He descended,

And became a child like thee!

Soft and easy is thy cradle;

Coarse and hard thy Saviour lay,

When His birth-place was a stable,

And His softest bed was hay.

-Isaac Watts

"Such common things of everyday

Like lowing cattle, fragrant hay,

Stars flung across a velvet sky,

And shepherds watching night go by

Such common things, and yet they hold

The greatest story ever told

The story of a Saviour's birth

And hope for man and peace on earth."

Virginia Blanck Moore

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Czechs call Christmas Eve "the very rich night." It is never enough. The Christmas season is never long enough, never enough of the music, or the beauty of the celebration. But the evergreen dies. The wrappings are tossed. The goodies are but stale crumbs. The toy box is full as well as the closet. Ornaments and lights will be packed away. Yet, one more night and a joyful morning remain. He has come into the world, and we are never the same having come to worship Him.

"Whence comes this rush of wings afar,

Following straight the Noel star?"

Carol of the Birds

"Oh! lovely voices of the sky

Which hymned the Saviour's birth,

Are ye not singing still on high,

Ye that sang, 'Peace on earth?'"

-Felicia Hemans

"Bless the Lord, you His angels,

Mighty in strength, who perform His word,

obeying the voice of His word!

Bless the Lord, all you His hosts.

You who serve Him, doing His will...

Bless the Lord, O my soul!"

-Psalm 103:20-22

"Glory to God in highest heaven,

Who unto His Son hath given!

While angels sing with pious mirth

A glad new year to all the earth."

Martin Luther, 1524

"Let us remember the foundation of this joy,--

the fear, the journey, the refuge, the birth, the revelation."


There was no room in the inn, but He leaves the light on for us.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Babe, barn, hay

Oxen, donkey, stay.

Dove, lambs, sheep,

Careful watch do keep.

Joseph and his Mary,

Angels, shepherds tarry,

Stable by candlelight

enamored by the sight.


In the bleak midwinter

Frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak midwinter

Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him,

Nor earth sustain;

Heaven and earth shall flee away

When He comes to reign:

In the bleak midwinter

A stable-place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty

Jesus Christ.

Jesus on His Mother's breast

In the stable cold,

Spotless Lamb of God was He,

Shepherd of the fold.

Let us kneel with Mary Maid,

With Joseph bent and hoary.

With saint and angel, ox and ass,

To hail the King of Glory.

Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894

A Stable Church

Imagine if one could visit the manger where Christ lay. Truest worship this side of heaven would be offered at the tender sight from a heart bursting with love. If money was no object and I could design a church, I've always envisioned a barn like structure. It would seem that if Jesus was born in a shelter for animals, a church could be at home in one. Tonight I accidently came across the new Billy Graham Library on the internet, a beautifully luxurious barn building. It looks like the church I imagined. I think it could be simply done, not as elaborate as this. The Scriptures painted on beams are lovely. Since we missed the first manger scene, wouldn't it be wonderful to worship in such an atmosphere. Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, all is bright.

"Before the paling of the stars,

Before the winter morn,

Before the earliest cockcrow,

Jesus Christ was born;

Born in a stable,

Cradled in a manger,

In the world His hands had made,

Born a stranger.

Priest and king lay fast asleep

In Jerusalem,

Young and old lay fast asleep

In crowded Bethlehem:

Saint and angel, ox and ass,

Kept a watch together,

Before the Christmas daybreak

In the winter weather.

A breastful of milk

And a mangerful of hay;

Enough for Him whom angels

Fall down before,

The ox and ass and camel

Which adore.

Angels and archangels

May have gathered there,

Cherubim and seraphim

Thronged the air;

But only His mother

In her maiden bliss

Worshipped the Beloved

With a kiss.

What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb,

If I were a Wise Man

I would do my part,--

Yet, what I can I give Him,

Give my heart.

Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894

Thursday, December 22, 2011

When Jay was two or three, my folks were able to spend Christmas with us. Jay was at a tender impressionable age excited for Santa's arrival on Christmas Eve. My dad took some sleigh bells outside his window and "jingled bells." It scared our young son so badly, he shook and cried because reindeer were outside! It took him a long time to settle down for his long winter's nap.
But reindeer really can fly, or at least He can make our feet as hinds' feet...

"The Lord God is my strength,

And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,

And makes me walk on high places."

Well, maybe not fly, or land on roofs, but we are equipped to reach heavenly heights...

"Whom have I in heaven but you?

And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you."

Psalm 73:25

"When we were children

We were grateful to those

who filled our stockings at Christmas time.

Why are we not grateful to God

for filling our stockings with legs?"

G.K. Chesterton

"The holly's up, the house is all bright,

The tree is ready, the candles alight:

Rejoice and be glad, all children tonight!"

P. Cornelius, German carol

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bread of Life

In the spirit of giving, Laura's neighbor gave her home-baked Christmas bread. In the spirit of sharing, Laura shared some with us. When Robin took her first bite, she was transported immediately back to when she was a preschooler and staying with her adopted Grandma Oro.

The recipe was the same as she would make every Christmas.

Since grandparents lived far away over the mountains and through the woods, our children grew up with adopted nanas and papas. Ora and Paul in their eighties offered to take our little children once a week so we could go for a date. Memories are made of sights, smells, and tastes burned into deep recesses which step out from behind a curtain suddenly without warning.

John describes Jesus saying, "What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled concerning the Word of Life..." I John 1:1 When we see a newborn, we want to hold the soft, wee thing, and breathe in the special smell of an infant. A wiff of baby scent instantly sends us back to a happy place to a longing fulfilled in the past or a hope for the future. I can imagine shepherds' gnarled hands reaching out to stroke a soft cheek or a wrap a curl of hair around their finger, or little pink fingers grasping their calloused ones. Mary would be transported by a whiff of hay, or by the smell of unwashed sheep herders or the smell of frankincense or myrrh to another time and another place. To the disciples, the smell of a certain perfume broken and spilled out on the Saviour would trigger a longing for his presence.
What creates a sensation of longing for you? Is it the worn leather Bible smell and feel. Is it the smell of grape in the communion, the varnished smell of pew or altar? He can come to us instantly, in a heartbeat, because the curtain has been torn in two: He is always waiting and beckoning.

"They all were looking for a king

To slay their foes and lift them high:

Thou cam'st, a little baby thing

That made a woman a woman cry."

George MacDonald


Light of Wisdom

"The Nativity, O Jesus, Came to the world

As the Light of Wisdom, For at Thy birth

They who worshipped the stars

By a star were taught to worship Thee,

The Sun of Righteousness,

And to know Thee, The Orient on High

Glory to Thee, O Lord."


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Because of the tender mercy of our God,

With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us,

To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death..."

Luke 1:78-79

This is part of Zacharias' prophecy of why Jesus would come.

Good tidings of comfort and joy to those who mourn. Our sympathy goes to the family of Tommy Bolton today as they go through the shadow of death. The sunshine is on the other side where Tommy is spending Christmas with his Saviour whose birth was so that death was not the final word.


As a child

Orphaned in this world,

Peering through a glass darkly,

Seeing only where the rub of tears wash clean

A glimpse of glory through panes of pain

Beholding a table set, straining for the dinner call.

A door opens, light beckons,

A father bends to extend a tender invitation,

"Come and dine."

The Father of Lights has stooped down to child-size,

Lifting the faint one,

Warming the cold one,

Carrying over the threshold the lost one

Into a home fragrant with evergreen life.

He shares the bread

In close communion

So that this one washed clean, partaking,

May belong in His family

As a child of God forever.


Monday, December 19, 2011

"Love and Joy Come to You..."

"It's Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air."

"A person wrapped up in themselves is a very small package indeed."

"This Christmas may your heart be a manger to hold the gift of God's love."

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."

"Christmas is Love tugging you back to God with the powerful clasp of a tiny hand

reaching out from a bed of straw."

Paul & Leslie Lewis

"Only two classes of people found the Babe: the shepherds and the wise men;

the simple and the learned; those who knew that they knew nothing, and those who knew they did not know everything. He is never seen by the arrogant; never by the man who thinks he knows. Not even God can tell the proud anything! Only the humble can find God!"

Fulton J. Sheen

If you had been a guest in Bethlehem's Inn that night, would you have complained to the management about a baby's crying disturbing your sleep, about too bright a light shining in your window, or about what you saw when you got up to close your curtains--too many undesirables coming and going outside at all hours of the night doing heaven-knows-what out back in the shed? Celia

Zacharias' Prophecy

"To grant us that we...might serve Him without fear,

In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days."

Luke 1:74

One of the fulfillments of prophecy brought by His birth is that God wants to grant, give us the ability to serve Him in holiness and righteousness without fear: fear not! What a gift!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Just a short, beautiful drive, and the mountains air is crisp and smells of pine. Victorian Christmas in Nevada City is inviting. Yet, it has been several years since we were there last: it was a dreamy snowy evening full of Christmas cheer. Today's cool sunshine beckoned many more, and the streets were packed. The street musicians were the icing on the cake. First was a lovely, young soprano with a natural vibrato of an angel. Then there was a harpist and her sister playing a recorder. It is not every day you walk past someone playing a harp on the street, not just once but twice in one day. The second harp was paired with a chello. Further down was a lively fiddling and banjo plucking couple. A different corner was claimed by a guitar and madolin duet. A tuba is a cold instrument to play on the street, but a brave young boy was taking it on alone, his case open as others for donations. Another lad picked a guitar handily looking quite the picture from times past. A small sax band played "The Grinch" and "White Christmas" while a baby sat mittened hands in the air transfixed by the magic of music. Climbing the steep stairs, we were greeted by the sound of singing. Upon entering the historic Methodist Church, old, nearly forgotten Cornish hymns were heard. From the morning's children's songs in church to the afternoon skirting crowds to hear lovely notes in the open air, it was a day of Christmas music to remember.

"Let the cedar fill the air

With its spicy sweetness rare.

Wake the carol--sound the chime--

Welcome! Merry Christmas Time!"

Helen Chase

"The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?

My God, no hymn for Thee?

My soul's a shepherd too; a flock it feeds

Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.

The pasture is Thy Word;

the streams, Thy grace

Enriching all the place.

Shepherd and flock shall sing,

and all my powers

Out-sing the daylight hours."

George Herbert

"Lord, make my heart a place where angels sing!

For surely thoughts low-breathed by Thee

Are angels gliding near on noiseless wings;

And where a home they see

Swept clean, and garnished with adoring joy,

They enter in and dwell,

And teach that heart to swell

With heavenly melody, their own untired employ."

John Keble

"Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."

Ephesians 5:19

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Recipe for a Children's Christmas Program

Late summer begin musing. Look through catalogs and find files from last year's unused ideas. Eliminate and get inspired. September: order a sample...reject can do better. Write your own play and just add new music sound track. Order costume chef's hats and begin collecting aprons & cookie cutters. October: start practicing music with the children. November: choose parts and begin script practice. Take God thrift store shopping: 8 Christmas aprons for $1.50 each! Those who sing most exhuberantly get permission to be microphone hogs. Relax and enjoy when they say, "In the days of Herold the King, Maggie came from the East and found the children with Mary." Make sure you have batteries in your camera and go worship the King!

Reward them with sticky goodies and then send them home.

"He who gives a child a treat, makes joy-bells ring in heaven's streets."

John Masefield

"At the break of Christmas Day,

Through the frosty starlight ringing,

Faint and sweet and far away,

Comes the sound of children, singing."

Margaret Deland

"But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple...they were indignant and said to Him, 'Do You hear what these are saying?' And Jesus said to them, 'Yes, Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise'?'"

Children have a place of praising Him in His house! They have "perfected praise!" Come join them. He will be there!

Friday, December 16, 2011

"He has filled the hungry with good things."

Luke 1:53

I've made a crockpot full of candy, baked a batch of Mexican Tea cakes, and have eaten dark chocolate covered pretzels to my heart's content. My son has begun to devour the gingerbread house he brought home from school today. Derrick's last day of school was "perfect," meaning it was all about peppermint sticks and Christmas cookies and movies. Isn't this a wonderful verse for the season!

This prophecy from Mary's mother-song has deeper meaning than just celebrating with good things which are not on our diet. We recognize the promise that He will fill those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. The whole beauty of the Christmas season is to create a holy longing in our hearts.

"He deigns in flesh to appear,

Widest extremes to join,

To bring our vileness near,

And make us all divine."

Charles Wesley


1 cup of friendly words

2 heaping cups of understanding

4 pinches of time--add more as needed

4 heaping teaspoons of patience

dash of humor

Measure words carefully. Add heaping cups of understanding.

Be generous with time and patience.

Keep temperature low--do not boil over.

Season with the spice of life, humor

Serve in individual molds

Easy Breezy Recipes...

Crock Pot Candy (Trisha Yearwood's cookbook)

layer 2 lbs salty dry-roasted peanuts

4 squares (4oz) German sweet chocolate (I will use dark chocolate next time)

1 12 oz pkg semisweet chocolate chips

2 1/2 lbs white almond bark.

Put the nuts in the bottom of 4 quart crockpot.

Layer chocolate over nuts beginning with the sweet chocolate,

then add chips, then almond bark.

Set on low & cook 3 hrs.

Do not stir (check to make sure it is not scorching) till after the 3 hrs

Drop the candy into cupcake liners (2 T./liner).

Cool completely

Simply Divine Chocolate Cake

1 chocolate cake mix

1 12oz pkg semi sweet chocolate chips

1 jar hot fudge

Mix chocolate cake as labeled. Add chocolate chips and bake as directed.

Heat jar of hot fudge and pour over warm cake.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"There was no room for them in the inn."

Luke 2:7

"God often would enrich, but finds no where to place His treasure,--

nor in hand nor heart a vacant space."

Richard Chenevix Trench

"By rooting out our selfish desires, even when they appear to touch no one but ourselves,

we are preparing a chamber of the soul where the Divine Presence may dwell."

Ellen Watson

So much of Christmas is in getting gifts, decorating, overindulging, how do we simplify, purge, to make room for Him? Time is the essence. I am looking forward to time with the boys home for Christmas break, time with grandchildren, time to slow down, to put a mute or pause button on the white noise of our life. In the stillness, the awe and wonder of this wonderful gift can truly be reverenced in our heart.

If Christ was to be born in my barn--oh, since I don't have one, I guess it would be my garage--what clutter do I need to clean out to make room in my life for him?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"The hinge of history is on the door of a Bethlehem stable."

Ralph W. Sockman

Baking is a traditional part of Christmas. Those aromas stay in the memory almost as real as the enjoyment of the warm yeast rolls out of the oven or the sugar cookie iced with powdered sugar frosting. The smell of warm bread beckons me.

Bethlehem means the house of bread, fitting for the birthplace of our Manna from heaven, fitting as we break bread in remembrance of Him whose body was broken for you. To me the smell of a stable, hay and saddle leather, meant pleasure: a horse to ride. To Mary, those smells would ever after evoke provocative remembrances of a desperate labor, crude comfort to a little homeless family, and strange starlit visitations.

Thus the prophecy, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler of Israel whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting." Micah 5:2

"New Prince, New Pomp"

Behold a tiny, tender Babe

In freezing winter night,

In homely manger trembling lies,

Alas! a piteous sight.

The inns are full; no man will yield

This little Pilgrim bed,

But forced He is with silly beasts

In crib to shroud His Head.

Despise Him not for lying there,

First, what He is inquire:

An orient pearl is often found

In depth of dirty mire.

Weigh not His crib, His wooden dish,

Nor beasts that by Him feed;

Weigh not His mother's poor attire,

Nor Joseph's simple weed.

This stable is a Prince's court,

The crib His chair of state;

The beasts are parcel of His pomp,

The wooden dish His plate.

The persons in that poor attire

His royal liveries wear;

The Prince Himself is come from heaven:

This pomp is prized there.

With joy approach,

O Christian ...

Do homage to thy King;

And highly prize His humble pomp

Which He from heaven doth bring."

Robert Southwell

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,
"Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

.R.R. Tolkein

It is supposed to get down to 20 degrees tonight, quite cold for our valley.

The garden is done and what was still green will bear frost as if snow fell.

The fire is flickering, beautiful Christmas music is playing

thinking of Him who was purest but lay by the glitter,

Wandered far from heaven to come to the stable cold,

The strong became weakest, frail babe,

My heart goes deep to grasp,

the incomprehensible.

"Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child, make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,

Within my heart, that it may be

A quiet chamber kept for thee."

"My soul magnifies the Lord,

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior."

Luke 1:46-47

Monday, December 12, 2011

The angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men

with whom He is pleased."

Luke 2:14

just as Zacharias had prophecied that the child would,

"guide our feet in the way of peace."

Luke 1:79

After Eden and the first pair of siblings, one killed the other.

The picture didn't get prettier with the world so bad that God sent the flood.

Only Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

We need peace in our hearts, in our families, in our nation, and in our world.

Since we haven't made it back to Eden or to heaven, what did the promise of peace on earth mean in this nasty, heartbreaking world?

I think it means when the pressure squeezes from the outside, God's peace on the inside can equalize the pressure and keep us from collapsing. He can guide our feet in the way of peace. He will give peace to those with whom He is pleased. I can't imagine world peace, but I can have peace in my heart, and pray for those in need to have peace that passes understanding. Jesus said, "blessed are the peacemakers."

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.

Share a piece of peace this Christmas

even if it is a prayer breathed

into a difficult situation.

On the trip to Colorado,

I observed on the flight over snowy mountains hidden by thick clouds,

the sun was indeed shining above it all.

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart

and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

Sung to "Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)"

"I cannot tell why He whom angels worship

Should set His heart upon the sons of men,

Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wanderers,

To bring them back, they know not how or when.

But this, I know, that He was born of Mary

When Bethlehem's manger was His only home.

And that He lived at Nazareth and labored

And so the Savior, Savior of the world is come.

I cannot tell how silently He suffered,

As with His PEACE He graced this place of tears,

Or how His love upon the cross was broken,

The crown of pain."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"I believe the nicest & sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."

"Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simplicity,

to think freely, to risk life, to be needed."

Storm Jameson

"We all need to think of ourselves as gifts to be given

and to think of others as gifts offered to us."

John Powell

"Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall,

the genial flame of charity in the heart."

Washington Irving

I've strung the beads of friendships and laughter, oh the joys!

Today I added the beauty of worship with the songs of girls and boys.

Christmas memories are added slowly, one at a time,

Worn close to the heart, a gift that's divine.


"My spirit rejoices in God my Savior."

Luke 1:47

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food, & warmth,

for the touch of a friendly hand,

& for a talk beside the fire.

It is the time for home."

Edith Sitwell

Tonight we will go home to home to eat and fellowship and laugh together.

Here are the recipes for the soups I am bringing:


2 lbs ground beef, 2 c. diced onions, 2 cans pinto beans, 2 c. frozen corn, 1 can Mex. style stewed tomatoes, 1 cup mild salsa, 32 oz beef broth, 2 pkg taco seasoning: slow cook 6 hrs. Add 1 med. pkg mild mexican velveta cheese cubed. Add tortilla strips and sour cream as desired.


1 bag potatoes, peeled & cubed

1/2 cup sliced celery

1/2 cup grated carrots

8 green onions

Saute the above 3 veg. in 2 T. butter

Add the rest of the cube of butter & cover with water to cook till all is tender.

Saute ham & dice into cubes and add

Add 1/2 gal. half & half, ( I used fat free) and add a pint of cream is so desired.

Add 16 oz. plain greek yogurt of sour cream mixed with 1 can of cream of chicken soup

Add 3 cups grated cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Stir & be careful not to scorch


"For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food,

For love and friends

For everything Thy goodness sends."


Ralph Waldo Emerson

"A thankful heart hath a continual feast."

W.J. Cameron

"You say grace before meals. Alright.

But I say grace before the play, and the opera,

And grace before the concert and pantomime,

And grace before I open a book,

And grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;

and grace before I dip the pen in the ink."

G.R. Chesterton, mid 1890's

"Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel."

"Gratitude is heaven itself."

"Gratitude turns what we have into enough."

"Gratitude is the memory of the heart."

a French proverb

"It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich."


"Tired I am, I'll go to rest,

Safe folded in my little nest,

Heavenly Father, may Thine eye

Above my bed watch very nigh.

Forgive the wrong this day I've done

For Jesus' sake, Thine only Son;

And may His blood, once shed for me,

From all that's sinful make me free.

Bless father, mother, brother, dear--

Each whom I love both far and near;

Bless all Thy children, great and small,

I pray Thee, Father of us all.

To wounded hearts, and eyes that weep,

Give rest and peace and gentle sleep--

And o'er the gloom of heathen skies

May soon "The Star of Bethlehem rise."

As we celebrate His coming, humbling Himself to come from heaven to earth, we should remember that His nursery was a stable. Then his family became refugees in a foreign land. Jesus was homeless during His ministry which he described as follows...

"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests;

but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

Matthew 8:20

"So Christ, who 'is in heaven,' has clothed Himself in our flesh, so that by stretching out

His brotherly hand to us He may raise us to heaven with Himself."

John Calvin

Friday, December 9, 2011

"The rooms were very still while the pages were softly turned...the winter sunshine crept in to touch the bright heads and serious faces with a Christmas greeting."

Louisa May Alcott, "Little Women

"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!

How much sooner one tires of anything than a book!

When I have a house of my own,

I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library."

Jane Austin

My widowed grandmother's retirement pittance for pastors was not enough to give presents as she would have desired. How cherished are the gifts she gave, beautifully hand stitched dresses for our china dolls, a quilt for each grandchild, delicate watercolor illustrations for her lovely poems, and books. The queen of regifting, Gram belonged to a book club which enabled her to read and then give a beautiful hardback book to her children or grandchildren. Generations remember fondly her husky voice as she read aloud to them, often brought to tears from moving passages.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God."

John 1:1

God gave His son to be a helpless baby who could not speak a word. His book is the Bible. The Word Himself is the best gift of all. Pass it on.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Once again, we had sweet fellowship tonight. One of the best things about the fellowship of believers called the Church is the way it brings us together as family regardless of our backgrounds. God puts His adopted children into families. Pedigrees don't matter in the family of God; only the grace of God makes us all related. We love to be together, worship together, play together, eat together, and pray together.

Unlikely fellowship: a very young unwed mother, shepherds, Wise Men, and elderly prophets.
Imagine the special place shepherds had in Mary's heart after the angels sent them birth announcements and they were the first to see the newborn King. How she pondered the Wise Men and their visit, who came so far to see her son (where do you park your guests' camels?). As for Anna and Simeon in the temple who prophesied over the Christ child, her mind must have been swirling until it spilled over into her heart.

"His mother and father were amazed at the things which were being said about Him."

Luke 2: 33

"Of all the old festivals, however, that of Christmas awakens the strongest

and most heartfelt associations. There is a tone of solemn and sacred feeling that blends with our conviviality and lifts the spirit to a state of hallowed and elevated enjoyment."

Washington Irving

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Happy, happy Christmas,

that can win us back to the delusions

of our childish days;

that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth;

and transport the sailor and the traveller,

thousands of miles away,

back to his own fire-side

and his quiet home!"

Charles Dickens

"The Pickwick Papers," 1836

Many Christmas times we drove "over the mountains and through the woods to Grandmother's house we('d) go." We have been stopped by blizzards, whiteouts, have spun-out on winding icy roads, carried kitty litter for traction to dig out with, and a thermos, and plenty of snacks, and below zero sleeping bags, and blankets in case of emergency. There was that tug on the heart that wanted to go home for Christmas. It was a long way from California to Colorado, but a beautiful time of a Rocky Mountain Christmas with a loving family made it all worth it.

Now is the time to make those memories for the grandchildren here.

This world is not my home. Sometimes I feel that tug on my heart to go to my real home that is prepared for me. Just as my parents have moved there, so too will I someday. I hope my children and grandchildren will want to come spend Christmas together there someday and forever. It's a long trip but the passage has already been paid. Jesus came to us, beginning in the stable, but left to make us mansions. Where He wants to live, abide, is in our hearts open wide.

"...they shall call His name 'Immanuel,'

which translated means,

'God with us.'"

Matthew 1:23

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Fairy tales are more than true;

not because they tell us that dragons exist,

but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

G.T. Chesterton

"There is such a place as fairyland-

but only children can find the way to it.

And they do not know that it is fairyland

until they have grown so old that they have forgot the way.

One bitter day, when they seek it and cannot find it,

they realize what they have lost;

and that is the tragedy of life.

On that day the gates of Eden are shut behind them

and the age of gold is over.

Henceforth, they must dwell in the common light of common day.

Only a few, who remain children at heart,

can ever find that fair, lost path again;

and blessed are they above mortals.
They, and only they, can bring us tidings from that dear country

where we once sojourned and from which we must evermore be exiled.

The world calls them its singers, poets, and artists, and storytellers;

but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairland."

Lucy Maude Montgomery

Perhaps it is the magic of Christmas that we once again hear the call of the old path to the star lit rude stable where a baby lies among soft-eyed animals whose breath mingles with the smell of the hay. It is childlike faith in God in a manger.

"And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 18:2

"Teach us delight in simple things."

Rudyard Kipling

Monday, December 5, 2011

Today was going from sick children to sick children. Not exactly what I had planned for the day, but it was a precious time rocking and looking into the wide, then sleepy eyes of twin grandbabies, Ezra and Addie. It's a joy to hear them practice their new sounds and watch as they show us their patty-cake tricks before drifting off to sleep. Love turns ordinary into extraodinary moments of motherhood. Imagine how Mary must have felt looking into the eyes of the infant Son of God, looking deeply to see if He resembled her, or if He resembled His Father in heaven.

"How domestic, how ordinary! The magi follow a wonderous star 'til it stops over 'the place where the child was.' (Matt., 2:9) and what is that place? A house. That's all just a house. The magi discover the Messiah, the Son of God, in a 'house" (Matt. 2:11). They find him in ordinary circumstances, with an ordinary-looking mother." unknown

"Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Luke 2:19

"How often do we go looking for Jesus in places that are not ordinary, on a mountaintop of one kind or another? This can be good sometimes, but not if we forget that the most likely place to find Christ is in ordinary circumstances. We find Him in our homes, in our workplaces, in gathering of friends and other words, the holy is in the ordinary; that's one of the most basic meanings of the Christmas season." "Mary in a Martha World"

"No sudden thing of glory and fear was the Lord's coming; but the dear, slow nature's days followed each other to form the Saviour from His Mother one of the children of the year."

Alice Meynell

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas is the busy, hussle, bussle, hurry, scurry, worry, making a list and checking it twice time of year. Have you been naughty or nice? In the book "Being Mary in a Martha Kind of World," reminds us Jesus said,

"There is need of only one thing.

Mary has chosen the better part,

which will not be taken away from her."

Luke 10:42

This was His friend Mary whose sister Martha (as in M. Stewart) was upset that she was sitting worshipping at Jesus feet instead of in the kitchen helping her bake Christmas cookies, or something like that. I have a mug that says, "Martha Stewart doesn't live here." The author reminds us that "busyness by itself breeds distraction. The world applauds achievement; God desires companionship." Have we chose the better part? What in our preparations brings an attitude of joyful worship and what is frantic force of habit? Is our celebration of our Lord bringing us closer or with less time for Him?

"Be still and know that I am God."

The book continues, "He showed me that we often fill our lives with spiritual Snicker Bars--things like friends, books, shopping...Maybe good things, completely innocent things, but they take the edge off the hunger for God."

"I have so much to do that I spend several hour in prayer before I am able to do it."

John Wesley

"I don't believe in hurry.

Tasha Tudor's Christmas book, "Take Joy"

We still have the invitation, "Come...adore Him."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

When the children were little they loved to participate in the "Activity Scene," you know, with the angels, shepherds, wise men, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. The first Nativity scene was preceded by much preparation, not layettes and bassinets, but of fulfilling of prophecy, angels delivering God's good news, the setting of the stage in the theater of all history, a stable. Tonight is the Marysville Christmas Parade with Jesus as the Wonder of "Winter Wonderland" theme. If it's not too cold, our new great grandbaby will play His part, Oliver's parents as Mary and Joseph.

Other community activities to look forward to...

Nevada City Victorian Christmas,
Grass Valley's Cornish Christmas,
Crossroads Community Church, Drive-Thru Nativity

"This is the one fairy hour of life when the world seems all of light

For the thought of woe, or the name of a foe never darkens the festive night."

"While the Christmas Log is Burning," 1871

On my bucket list is to sing in the "Messiah" someday. We've always said we'd do it when the children are grown: adopting kids at a later stage in life, I will probably be silver haired like most of the silver-throated singers in our town. We went to our community choir and orchestra's performance last night and it was truly beautiful. One of the great mysterious of life is how sopranos can sing so high. My high notes are achieved only when screaming which is not nearly appreciated as much. Handel wrote what is, most agree, the most magnificient music ever written. It is all Scripture, prophecy and the birth narratives. Listening with my eyes closed, the words of Isaiah 40:11 entered my heart, "He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." The Lamb of God, born in a barn, will gather the lambs into His arms be gentle with pregnant mothers. What a beautiful picture of prophecy of our Saviour.


Perhaps it was absurd;

The stable set apart,

The sleepy cattle lowing;

And the incarnate Word

Resting against my heart.

My joy was overflowing.

The shepherds came, adored

The folly of the Lord,

Wiser than all men's knowing.

Madelaine L'Engle

Thursday, December 1, 2011

When I grow up, I want to write and illustrate children's books. I was offered a job at Hallmark in Kansas City, but we were leaving for our first pastorate in California. Growing up, I fed my soul with the likes of the miniature world of creativity and the beauty of Beatrice Potter, the original Winnie the Pooh, Tasha Tutor, and Laura Ingells Wilder and illustrator Garth Williams. Laura's second grade teacher read "The Polar Express" to her class. Today's children are immersed in a Spongebob kind of world and many have not heard "fine literature." Some of their hearts were stirred: one little girl said, "I feel like my heart opened up and the words are going deep down inside." Another girl said, "Yeah, I feel like my heart just had a whole bunch of baby butterflies," while a boy added, "One time my mouse had babies!"

Augustine understood our need for beauty and began the creche tradition in Italy with a live nativity so the villagers could imagine the "glorious, scandelous night" when Christ was born.
"'The whole life of the good Christian," said Augustine, "is a holy longing,' Sadly, many of us have been led to feel that somehow we ought to want less, not more. We have this sense that we should atone for our longings, apologize that we feel such deep desire. Shouldn't we be more content? Perhaps, but contentment is never wanting less; that's the easy way out. Anybody can look holy if she's killed her heart; the real test is to have your heart burning within you and have the patience to enjoy what there is now to enjoy, while waiting with eager anticipation for the feast to come. In Paul's words, we 'groan inwardly as we wait eagerly' (Romans 8:23)...And so
George Herbert prayed,

Immortal Heat, O let thy greater flame

Attract the lesser to it: let those fires,

Which shall consume the world, make it tame;

And kindle in our hearts such true desires,

As may consume our lusts, and make thee way.

Then shall our hearts pant Thee."

"The Sacred Romance," Brent Curtis & John Eldredge

Advent is making room in the heart, preparation, anticipation, expectation of the joy and celebration of the humble birth of our Saviour, Emanuel, God with us. I yearn for the beauty of the season. Let hearth and heart prepare for Christmas!

"And as that widom had decreed,

the Word was now made flesh indeed,

and took on Him our nature.

What comfort by Him do we win,

who made Himself the price of sin,

to make us heirs of glory.

To see this Babe, all innocence;

a martyr born in our defence:

Can man forget this story?"

Ben Jonson, 1573-1637

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Swift autumn

like a bonfire of leaves..."

E. Wylie

Autumn is unofficially out the door while Christmas is knocking waiting impatiently to come in.

Something about the season inspires creativity and a search, a longing for beauty. It began with paper chains & paper plate & cotton ball Santas. Even cooking takes on a special flair. How is it at your abode? The empty toters are back in the garage, and Christmas is spread over the whole house as if an avalanche of ornaments, lights, nativities, garlands, and candles has swept in covering everyday life.

"The creative adult is the child who has survived."

Ursula K. Le Guin

"True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done,

the zest of creating things new-"

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Creativity is contagious. Pass it on."

Albert Einstein

"Everyone is born creative;

everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten,

Then when they hit puberty, they take the crayons away

and replace them with dry uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc.

Being suddenly hit years later with a creative bug is just a wee voice

telling you, I'd like my crayons back, please."

Hugh MacLeod

"So you see, imagination needs moodling longer,

inefficient, happy iddlings, dawdling, & puttery."

Brenda Ueland

"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser."

John Gardner

"May gentle breezes refresh your soul

and all the days of your life,

may you walk gently through the world

and know its beauty."


"It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive.

There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them."

George Eliot

Be inspired, decorate, create, restore, invent, bake, paint, mold, sew. We were made in the image of a divine Creator of all. The urge is strongest at Christmas. Bring Him your gift of your creative self even if it is in childlike simplicity.

...opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts..."

Matthew 2:11