With Christmas only a week away, I pray that we each may find time to reflect on Jesus. May He give our hearts an even deeper amazement of what it meant for Him to come to earth and dwell among us. May we be completely enthralled with His beauty as we see the beauty of the season all around us. And if you would like to learn more about the manger and the significance of it (it will amaze you), you can read a recent devotional I wrote for our women’s small group: The Manger. (more…)
(The following is the devotional for the week that I sent to our small group.)
Only 14 days until Christmas. Wow. I find if I don’t take time to meditate on Jesus during this season, the time totally slips away from me!
I loved Brad’s sermon this past weekend about the shepherds (if you missed it, check it out here: http://www.tworiverschurch.org/700215.ihtml). Jesus came in such a way that even the most outcast of society still had access to Him. The way He entered this earth is nothing short of miraculous and significant.
If you go to Bethlehem today, you can enter the cave where Jesus was born. However, since the early church built on that site, it looks nothing like it used to. But not far from the Church of the Nativity is an area called The Shepherd’s Field. They have many caves there, left in their original state, so that you can imagine what it was like that night that Mary and Joseph welcomed a wailing 8-pound bundle of flesh into the world. (more…)
This is the gift catalog for STEPS Girls’ Home in India that I mentioned in my latest Update. Please consider giving to them this Christmas season. Thank you!
These thoughts are excerpts from my journal from my trip to India:
Tara and I started out the morning by giving the girls a few of the items that the team and I brought over. She explained that they don’t get everything at one time because she wants them to appreciate it all. So we gave them a few things: hairbrushes, hairbows, a few new dresses, some candy. It felt like Christmas morning – it was so much fun to see their reactions to it all. They kept saying “Thank you Akka!” while touching my face and giving countless hugs.
These thoughts are excerpts from my journal from my trip to India:
This morning we got up early for church. We left the house by 7:45am. I got to ride with the girls in the van – oh, were they excited! Well, I was excited to ride with them, too. On the way to church we passed a store that had some Christmas decorations out, and they had a big tree out front… the girls saw it and went nuts! I guess we just get so used to seeing Christmas decorations everywhere this time of year that it doesn’t affect us as much. But when you live in a nation that is only about 5% Christian, Christmas decorations are few and far between. But their joy in seeing the tree was just too precious. “Akka, look! A Christmas tree, Akka! Did you see it, Akka?” Such contagious joy!
In church I sat with them, too. They were so well-behaved and quiet. But after about 40 minutes they left for Sunday school. I was rather sad to see them go.
Merry Christmas everyone!
I came to the quick realization today that it is already the 22nd! Where did December go? It seems to always have a way of flying by, but it went by especially fast for me since I spent the first 10 days in India, then the last two weeks recovering from the jet lag!
I will be traveling home to IL tomorrow for my Christmas break. I hope to get to see some of you along the way. I am praying that everyone has a safe and joyful Christmas season as you celebrate Jesus with family and friends.
I don’t know what it is about packing that makes me think of every other possible thing to do… including blogging. After all the traveling I’ve done, you’d think that packing would be easy for me and I’d be done in 10 minutes. But somehow that is not the case. I find a million other things to do, just to get out of packing: refolding my sweaters, picking up my room, putzing around on Facebook, flossing my teeth, reorganizing my books, laundry, lining up my shoes, flossing the cat’s teeth. Ok, so maybe not the last one, but I seem to go to extreme odds to avoid packing – I even blog about how much I don’t want to do it.
I am leaving in the morning on a 12-ish hour drive to go home for Christmas, which I am very excited about. And packing for home is a lot less stressful that packing to go to somewhere like Israel (and I have picture evidence that everything fit into one suitcase!). Packing for home is so much easier, because I still have things at home, or I can borrow from Mom. Or running across the river to Walgreen’s is just so easy. So why am I still procrastinating?? I do have a few theories on this phenomena (which in and of itself is yet another way to avoid packing). (more…)
Benjamin Franklin said:
“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!”
I find this rather interesting since history and biographies tell us that Benjamin Franklin did not believe in a God who was active in the world – the God he believed in was far off and distant. I find myself wondering how such a brilliant man could be so misled about God’s activity in the world around us. But how often do I do things my way without even a thought, acting independently, not listening for if God would have me do something another way – I just get so wrapped up in what I’m doing. I know He walks beside me, He’s in me, He’s with me every step of every day. It’s just that it is so easy to get caught up in life, especially around Christmas, that it takes effort to focus on Him even though we’re surrounded by Christmas through music, sermons, decorations, etc. Things get busy and it’s harder to make the time to sit at His feet and just be still, to listen, to be filled. But I find that this time of year, I have to be more intentional about seeking Him so that I stay in communion with Him. So in an effort to be intentional this year, I came up with A Joyful Plan (I blogged that a few posts ago). (more…)
I really enjoy making these muffins! They are perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And they are so yummy that they disappear quickly.
A couple of handy notes:
1. You will need a rather large bowl to mix the batter in, because one batch makes 3-3.5 dozen muffins.
2. You may want to substitute plain applesauce for the oil (it is a 1:1 ratio) if you do not want to use that much oil. It works – I’ve made them both ways. (more…)
With the triptophan comas wearing off signaling that Thanksgiving is winding down, the Christmas season is upon us. I’ve been asked by quite a few people in the past week if I am going to be up early in the morning to shop the Black Friday sales. Can I just say “YUCK!”? To those of you who love to get up with the mobs of people and run around in the cold, more power to you. I however, will remain snug in my bed, wake up with a purring kitty, and greet the start of the Christmas season with a relaxing morning to be followed by Christmas tree decorating and spending time with my family. This will probably be accompanied with Christmas music, hot chocolate, and a Christmas show or two on TV. (A Charlie Brown Christmas, anyone?) (more…)