Monthly Archives: November 2011

Great Expectations

Looking forward to…..

Anticipation….

Regarding to something that is likely to happen…..

To look for with reason…….

Great Expectations.

What are your expectations regarding Christmas?

Gifts?  The latest “gotta have” thing?

Perhaps, I have gotten old.  I don’t think of Christmas in terms of things.  It is love.  It is a time of remembrance.  It is a time of reflection.  It is a time to be most thankful.  It is a time for family and friends.  It is a time to think about Christ’s second coming.

God sent Christ as a gift for eternal life with Him.  He didn’t come to meet our expectations but our needs.  Think about it.  The Messiah was expected to be a great king, a great battle winning warrior, a savior from all suffering, and a leader to all Israelites.   However, in reality, He came to us as a babe, delivered in a manager, and unnoticed by so many. Trumpets didn’t sound.  Glorious fireworks didn’t explode with His arrival.  Quietly Jesus was born.   Humbled into this world.

We needed a gift of love and God met that need.  So, should our expectations be any more for Christmas?  Share love.  Not stuff.  Share Christ.  Not things.  Praise God.  Not selfishly finding satisfaction in giving.

That is what I have to remind myself every year.  Christmas should not be of this world but of spirit.  I do tend to stray from that thinking sometimes.  It is hard not to considering that Christmas decor makes it way into the stores as soon as the last firecracker is sold in July.  And now we are facing just a few days until it is here.  Sigh……  time to train my mind when I think “I gotta get” to “I gotta love.”

God bless…….

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Shoo Fly Pie

Being a southern gal, I had never heard of “Shoo Fly Pie.”  Until, I met Mark.  It is his favorite pie….. ever.  Mark’s mom graciously gave me the recipe when I married him.  Being the sweet wife, I made it for him.  It did not turn out like Mom’s.

I never baked one again.

But, our baby girl has been taught by Grandma the art of Shoo Fly Pie.  She’s quite good at it.  Mark is thrilled!

Shoo Fly Pie is from Pennsylvania….. Amish country that is…….  It has been said that when William Penn (Founder of Pa) conducted his “holy experiment” in attempt to have a godly society, the Amish came from Germany and Switzerland and settled in Lancaster County.  While they traveled from their “mother lands” they brought flour, brown sugar, lard, molasses and spices with them.   Since they landed in the fall, they were forced to survive on what they brought.  The women created this coffee cake like pie that is known as Shoo Fly.

How did it get its name??  Well, there are several speculated reasons.  The most popular reason is simply the fact that flies are attracted to the sweet molasses.  And well, we all know we have to shoo them away!!

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Enjoy…… God bless…..

Weekend of Wonder

A tragic death clouded my heart last week.  I listened to the cries of a dear friend. I sent heart felt condolences to Ms. Sisson’s daughter, a friend of yesteryear.  My heart cried out “Why the senselessness?”   A daughter’s response, “Let’s focus on Christ and His good.”

Profound.

Perfect.

God Sent.

My eyes brimmed and my heart burst as I watched beautiful earthly angels dance Saturday.  Their bodies limited but their hearts soared.  A dance recital for I Can Dance broke free my snared heart bound by senselessness.  Those wiggles and smiles melted my soul.  “Praise God” whispered throughout the audience.  Proud parents, grandparents and friends watched with love through their own tears of joy.

Senselessness dissolved and hope entered.

Profound Hope.

Perfect Hope.

God Sent Hope.

Saturday evening, love filled the air.  Dear friends celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  Sixty years of devotion, care, and wisdom.  Sixty years that produced three daughters, son-in-laws, grandchildren and countless friends.  Sixty years celebrated.  A man and his bride danced cheek to cheek bursting with love.

Profound Love

Perfect Love.

God Sent Love.

Sunday morning’s worship service lead by beautiful angelic voices soothed my weary soul.  Their youthful smiles and joyous sound echoed in the deepness of my heart.  The Holy Spirit aroused my molecular body and energized me.  My heart overflowed with joy. Then the message filled ears and encouraged grateful hearts to beat.

Profound gratitude.

Perfect gratitude.

God sent gratitude.

I pulled into the drive of an overcrowded funeral home.  The mother/aunt taken earlier in the week lay resting within that building.  The out pour of love represented by the multitude of people eased so many hearts.  Daughters and family wore red to symbolize the love and honor felt.  Comfort and peace adorned the room.  God’s holy presence felt by all.  Ms. Sisson pulled from the grips of anger and fear and engulfed in Christ’s mighty arms.  A peaceful end to a horror unimaginable.

Profound Grace.

Perfect Grace.

God sent Grace.

The weekend of God’s wonder closed with a community Thanksgiving worship service.   Giving thanks to Him for blessings.  Giving thanks with a grateful heart.  Giving thanks for a strong Christian community.  Giving thanks for His son.  Giving thanks for all things.  Glorious fellowship.

Profound Ending.

Perfect Ending.

God’s sent Ending of a perfect weekend of wonder.

God bless…….

 

Getting Ready!!

As soon as the dishes are put away on Thanksgiving Day, I will be finding my Advent wreath!

Check out this 2009 “First Week of Advent” activities:

The first Sunday of Advent is known as the Prophecy Candle which symbolizes God’s planning for Christ’s birth long before it actually happened.  This week’s Advent activities will have a “get organized” theme.

God planned the birth of Jesus.  He picked the family and tribe in which he would be born.  He arranged the timing of his birth, the place and eventually Jesus’ death.  God has already destined Jesus’ second coming…. or second Advent if you will…..God announced his plans long before it actually took place.  Just like the second coming….. He has already announced how the end will come……

So, here’s my pondering question…… Do you plan your Christmas?  Would it be a perfect Christmas without all the planning you do ahead of time?  Around my house, we are planning Christmas in like…..January!!  So this week let’s plan our hearts to be centered around Christ during our Advent activities!!

First Sunday Home Ceremony:

At our house, we like to have this Ceremony prior to dinner.  The table is set and we gather around the table.  Our ending prayer will bless the meal.

1.  Describe Isaiah:  Who was Isaiah?  What did he do?

2.  Talk about the Book of Isaiah.

3.  Read Isaiah 11:1-10

4.  Talk about the passage.  What did it mean??

5.  Light the first candle

6.  Sing a Hymn.  May I suggest, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

7.  End in Prayer

First Week’s Activities:

During the week, we try to do the activities just after dinner.  As the kids are clearing the table, I am gathering my notes and my activity objects.  Then we gather around the table to do our activity.

Monday:

Item:  A brick

Readings:  (We each get a scripture)  Nehemiah 1:3, 2:18, 6:15-16   Malachi 3:1  and Revelation 22:20

Discussion:  The brick represents the Wall of Jerusalem.  The wall was all around the city.  The wall was torn down and all of God’s people were scattered and taken as slaves into different lands.  In order for Jesus to be born, the Bible says that the people would return to Jerusalem.  And 400 years before Jesus’ birth, the rebuilding began.  When the wall was finished, the waiting for Jesus began.  It took many many years for the people to be ready for Jesus.  Are we ready for Jesus to come to us this Christmas??

Tuesday:

Scripture:  Proverbs 4:26

Items:  pencils and paper

Activity:  The Bible says that we should plan things carefully.  Just like God planned things very carefully for the first Christmas, we are going to plan for this Christmas.  We each have a piece of paper and a pencil.  When we are done, we are going to discuss the ideas we have written about Christmas and we will make a plan….. and stick with it!

Three things we did last year for Christmas that I’d like to do again.

Three new things I’d like to try for Christmas.

Wednesday:

Scripture:  Matthew 25

Item:  Dirty Clothes (really nasty dirty)

Activity:  Plan a special gift for someone outside of your ring of family and friends.  Perhaps, it is the lady who checks you out at your local grocery store.  Perhaps, it is for a family in a homeless shelter.  Perhaps, you can contact your local school and get information about a student who needs items.  Or focus on a shut in from your church……and I don’t think you have to shower them with gifts…. perhaps just a little reminder that they are loved.

Thursday:

Scripture:  3 John 13-14

Items:  Things to make a Christmas card.

Activity:  Make Christmas cards for family and friends who live far away.  John wrote to his friends that he could not be with them…. so we are sending God’s message of Christ to our family and friends far away.

Friday:

Scripture:  Luke 1:1-20

Item:  Envelope with card in it… the card will read:

What was it like for Zechariah to be unable to speak?  To help us understand what he felt, we are going to eat supper without speaking…. total silence.  There will be no talking.  His silence was broken only by prayer after his son John was born….. ours will be broken by prayer after we eat.

Activity:  Eat in silence.

Discussion after prayer:  retell Zechariah’s story.  Read verse 20.

Saturday:

Scripture:  Matthew 2:1-11

Activity:  Star gazing

Discussion:  Talk about the Magi seeing and following the star.  Talk about how God had to plan the star to shine.  It appeared at the right time and at the right place.  Take the family outside and really look at the stars.  Go inside and have hot chocolate!!  YUMMY!!

I  really hope you will join us in celebrating the Advent season.  You will be amazed how you and your family will make lasting memories that will last a life time!

God Bless…..

*** resources:  Christmas Out of the Advent Box, by Benjamin R. Husted25 Days, 26 Ways, by Ace Collins ; and The Advent Jesse Tree, by Dean Lambert

Why?

Job questioned God’s presence when all came tumbling down……

God replied, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”  Job 38:4

Habakkuk Complained……. Habakkuk 1:2-4 Msg

God, how long do I have to cry out for help 
   before you listen?
How many times do I have to yell, “Help! Murder! Police!” 
   before you come to the rescue?
Why do you force me to look at evil, 
   stare trouble in the face day after day?
Anarchy and violence break out, 
   quarrels and fights all over the place.
Law and order fall to pieces. 
   Justice is a joke.
The wicked have the righteous hamstrung 
   and stand justice on its head.

The Lord answered:

Look around at the godless nations. 
   Look long and hard. Brace yourself for a shock.
Something’s about to take place 
   and you’re going to find it hard to believe. Habakkuk 1:5 Msg

Jesus petitioned, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

God’s heart broke.

My friend asked, “Regina, why did this horrible crime have to happen to my family?”

God heard. God consoled. God reached out.

My words fail.  My heart breaks.  I understand “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Why?  There is no answer….. except God knows when and how we die for He laid the foundations.  He is going to do something that will be hard to believe.  He sacrificed His son.  He knows the violence in which we live.  God suffered just like we do.

I don’t have the answers to these faith shaking moments.  The best I can do is to explain to seek God’s comfort and peace.  Seek Him.  Seek and find Him.  Seek and climb up in His fatherly lap and cry.  Cry out to Him.  He understands. He’s been there……..

Please keep my friend and her family in your prayers.  This is such a tragedy.

God bless…….