Faith

Encouragement for the Weary

2-gloriousworld

Another year is drawing to a close and the year-end holiday season is upon us.  But amid all the gaiety, thanksgiving, feasting, and gift-giving many of us suffer depression and weariness.  Christian blogger David Qaoud offers five inspirational quotes for John Calvin, a sixteenth-century theologian and pastor who himself suffered physical infirmities, criticism, and heartbreak.  You can read Mr. Qaoud’s post here.

Dark though the world may seem, all can enjoy God’s salvation, love and provision.

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

Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. . .  Hebrews 3:7, 8

Wishing you all a happy and blessed holiday season!

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Photography

Photo Fun: Christmas Ghost?

ChristmasGhost

This apparition showed up on the wall behind my Christmas tree.  At first glance it sort of resembles a Christmas angel.  To others, it might be Mary.  However. . .

My little ceramic Christmas tree had seen a few too many moves and, during one of them, ended up in three pieces.  I glued the tree back together as best I could, but could not quite close the crack on one side.  The light from the little bulb inside the tree cast the above apparition on the wall.

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Life

The Most Cherished Gift

Poinsettia and GiftFor Christians and non-Christians alike, Christmas is the gift-giving season.  Shoppers flood the malls and internet airwaves, searching for the latest and greatest electronic gadgets, designer dolls, or whatever is on their loved ones’ lists; or, for something they think (or hope) that that someone who has everything will enjoy.  Sure, we all love that gaily-wrapped gift, thoughtfully chosen by someone dear to us.  But what about a different kind of gift, not material and at no cost whatever, except in time.  One the giftee would probably cherish far more than anything material.  I’m not talking about presents, but presence.

I used to play my accordion at nursing homes throughout the year.  Some were quite pleasant, tastefully decorated with individual apartments and lovely common areas. Others resembled institutions, with bare ugly walls painted a drab gray, quarters that looked more like a college dorm room, and a social room consisting of a television and sometimes a piano around which residents were positioned in easy chairs or their wheelchairs.  Pleasant or drab, both often lacked the same element: Family.  The familiar faces of loved ones.  In facilities where families turned out to celebrate the monthly birthday parties, holiday festivities, or just dropped in during the week, even the drab facilities seemed not so bleak.  The residents had something–mostly someone–to look forward to.

I made it a point after my performances to sit and visit with the residents, many of whom became dear friends.  Most loved sharing their stories; but my heart broke when, more times than I could count, they broke down in tears because their children, for their parents’ “own good,” placed them in these nursing homes and then forgot them.  Their children–whose tears they had wiped away, whose owies they had kissed, whose milestones they had shared and dreams they had encouraged–had gone their own way, abandoning the parents who had sacrificed so much and loved them more than they could have ever imagined.

If your parents reside in a nursing home, I encourage–no, I challenge–you to pay them a heartfelt visit, not just to drop off a present and say a quick hello.  Spend the afternoon, or at least an hour.  Their hands may shake, their feet may falter, their memories may have dimmed, or they might be bedridden.  But their faces will light up when you walk in that door and sit down beside them.  Give them the gift they will cherish forever–yourself.  In doing so you will have given yourself a gift to cherish as well.

Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.  Exodus 20:12

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Photography

Photo Fun: Snow and Trees

IAspenAgainstSky

Mother nature blessed us night before last with six inches of heavy wet snow, and this morning I couldn’t resist a mini photo crawl around the yard.  I especially love the intricate, lacy pattern these aspen branches made across the sky.

IAspenSnowSky

 

This rosebush looks more like a gigantic porcupine:

ISnowyRosebush

 

Even weeds look pretty under a flocking of snow; in fact, kochia or a big tumbleweed sprayed with white flocking and then decorated make beautiful Christmas trees.

ISnowFlockedWeed

Having made lots of homemade candy, our family is kicked back enjoying the fruits of our labor.  Between mouthfuls I am busy writing my novel, Castle of Blood.  With luck it should be out this spring.  In the meantime, for you fantasy lovers out there, the Kindle countdown sale for Warrior Queen of Ha-Ran-Fel has begun.  I have also updated my Pinterest board with pins that lend a feel for the story’s setting and action.

Wishing you all a great day!

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Life

What Christmas is All About

This post originally appeared on everthedreamerblog.com.

I love Christmas.  I have always loved Christmas, although I must admit that in my younger years it was the presents, decorations, and festivities I liked most.  I grew up hearing the Christmas story.  I knew all about the baby in the manger.  I knew all about how He was crucified, died and was buried, and then rose again on the third day.  But it was not until October of 1991 that I finally met Jesus Christ and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.  Christmas took on a whole new meaning after that.

I still enjoy the decorations and get-togethers with family and friends; but I detest the commercialism and the “gimme, gimme” attitude so often marring the season.  You rarely hear the old Christmas carols anymore and when you do they’ve been jazzed up with a rock ‘n roll beat.  And, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men?”  These seem to get thrown out the window when the stores open on Black Friday.  I’ve heard of people actually trampled to death and seen footage of shoppers punching each other’s lights out while struggling over a last available item.  And at a Walmart in a neighboring town, a driver shot and killed another driver over a parking space–right in front of the victim’s young son.

Peace on earth. . .Good will toward men.  Replaced all too often by, “me first.”  Christmas is not about presents, decorations, or parties.  It’s not about things or how much we can get.

So what is Christmas all about?

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

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  Luke 2:8-14

That’s what–or, rather, Who–Christmas is all about: Jesus Christ, God’s Gift to mankind, graciously extended to all who will accept Him.

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas!

Cross and Sky

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