Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Golden Potato Soup

from 'More-with-Less-Cookbook' by Doris Janzen Longacre
Recipe submitted by Ruth Sommers, Kokomo, Ind.

Sometimes I write about what I am cooking on facebook.
My niece, Katrina, says my status always makes her hungry.
I did it again.
So here's the status recipe for those who are ready to come right over,
via plane, car, or superman.

Golden Potato Soup

Saute slowly in saucepan until yellow:
(I like to almost burn mine.)
2 T. oil or shortening (I use butter)
1/3 cup finely chopped onion

Blend in:(whisk)
1 T. flour
1 tsp. salt
dash pepper

1 cup water
(I use potato water or chicken bouillon dissolved in water)

Boil 2 min., stirring constantly.

1 cup or more leftover mashed potatoes
(I make mashed potatoes just for this soup.
I use alot of mashed potatoes in the soup.)
2 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated cheese

Heat slowly until cheese melts.
Do not boil.
Garnish with parsley or croutons.
(and/or crisped bacon)
(I add dill weed and garlic salt as well.
I also always cook my potatoes with some cloves of garlic.)

This soup is my friend Judy's favorite.
She makes happy noises when she eats it. :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Life's Sunday Sermon-Dec. 27, 2009

My friend, Lindsay, took notes on Sunday and sent them to me and said, "Yes" when I asked if I could blog them. Since I wasn't there, I will pretty much just write what she wrote. Thank you, Lindsay.

Pastor Rob preached today from 11 Kings 4:8-37 and 11 Kings 8:1-7.
Sermon Title-"Am I Ready?"

There was a nameless woman; a Shuni.
She built Elisha a room and he tells her she'll have a son.

(Just a thought. Perhaps you should read the scriptures first...)

The first thing the woman did was position herself to hear from God.
She recognizes the man of God and associated herself with the godly.

Law of magnetism: the way you are is what you will attract.

Does God have a room in my life?
Have we given Him the best room and place He deserves so we can hear more from God?
The Shuni woman positioned herself to hear from God.

"Pastor Frank should be in NASCAR."
(I'm not sure what that was about but she wrote it so I did too. ah)

She had a mind to bless.
When your wife has a mind, just say yes!
Correction-When you wife wants to bless, say yes! Thanks Lindsay!

11 Kings 4:30, she was tenacious/dogged with her pursuit for godliness, understanding, and learning.

Abe Lincoln was a tenacious dude.
Most people forget that failure is a good thing-it tells us what not to do.

She was obedient in the face of sacrifice.
Are we willing to pay the price for personal growth?
She obeyed immediately.
She got her house in order.

The result of all of this?
God protected and elevated her.
His timing was perfect.

God gave her a legacy.

The battle goes to the determined; not the dramatic.
So what?
If you want to be a part of what God is doing, then get ready.

"My prayer is that I wouldn't be a big splash, but that I'd raise the water level."
Mark Briley

If you want to read some very good writings by Pastor Rob, check out his blogsite-www. . He is a good teacher with a great imagination and brings the scriptures to life.

Quotes My Mother saved for me

My mother gave me a large manila envelope full of articles and quotes she has saved over the years. She thought I might like to blog them. She thought right.

Here are some quotes by G.K.Chesterton.(Born 1874; died 1936)
It was his book, "Everlasting Man," that was responsible in leading C.S.Lewis to Christ.

"The supreme stamp of the barbarian is the sacrifice of the permanent to the temporary."

"A martyr is a man who cares so much for something outside him that he forgets his own personal life. A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything outside him that he wants to see the last of everything."

"Humility is the realization that to the universe, oneself is not I, but he."

"It is not bigotry to be certain we are right, but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong."

Paul Claudel says of Chesterton,
"His essential quality was a kind of triumphant common sense."

Check out the nearly 100 books and thousands of articles he's written on a variety of subjects.

Hertzler Doings-Dec. 28-Jan3, 2009-2010

Mon.-Wash. Wash. Wash. Got groceries in Appomattox and saved alot with the 10% discount and with Michael's discount. Went to Lori's to pick up rabbit and frogs. Made sweet and sour bear/venison meatballs and rice for supper. Found out that J's rash is shingles! To bed early.

Tues.-Made pureed fruit smoothies for breakfast and pureed vegetable soup to try to get my system back in shape after eating many big meals this past week. Diane H. called and we talked for over an hour. We reminded each other to spend time with those who will weep at our funeral. Watched 'Night at the Museum #2' and mended 3 of Phil's jeans and one shirt. Made some Christmas napkins from Christmas material someone gave me years ago. Still sluggish and tired.

Wed.-Sewed more Christmas napkins, cleaned house, and made mashed potato soup.

Thurs.-Ran out to Appomattox to give a Weaver's fruit basket to some friends. Stopped at Krogers and Southern States. Judy and Lindsay came with their girlies at noon for lunch. (Mashed potato soup, cheddar biscuits, bacon wrapped shrimp that Susan made, carrot sticks, lemon poppy muffins from Judy, cookies, popcorn, and drinks.) We watched 'Julie and Julia' while the girls entertained themselves with toys and each other. Sammy Jo was fascinated with Emma's belly button. I guess she has never seen her own. Angel barked loudly when 'Julia's husband, Paul, said some bad words. This is my third time watching it and each time Angel thinks we are telling her to 'sic 'em' and she barks and runs off the porch to do just that. Made some fun food to dip tortilla chips in for supper. Alli, Phil, Freeman, Michael, Susan, and I played "Imagine If" until Mike and Suz left for our church's annual youth group lock-in. I can't imagine deliberately staying up all night. They took some Vitamin B and some money for some energy drinks or sodas. Philip went to Liberty's Winter fest. Alli and I made Auntie Anne soft pretzels and Phil and Freeman were kind enough to let us watch 'Julie and Julia'. Every time I see it, I hear more swear words, and I really didn't catch them the first time through. Every time I see it, I want to cook more and blog more. I also gain at least a pound with each showing. Alli has never seen the ball drop so we are trying to stay awake for another hour and 7 min. in order to watch the new year come in with her.

Fri.-Washed clothes. Played Dutch Blitz with Susan. Made some split pea and ham soup with some of the leftover ham Mickey brought today. Thought about New Year's Resolutions. Took a short walk. Freeman and Philip went hunting. Michael slept. Susan couldn't sleep. Phil spread manure. Signed up for Dave Ramsey's class at church. Going to bed early. Thinking alot about the book I'm reading, "Quitting Church".

Sat.-Took down Christmas tree and some other decorations. Kept up manger scene display. Played more 'Dutch Blitz' with Susan. Freeman, Susan, Phil and I went to Grunerts from 3-9. Good times, good food, with good friends and other southern Hertzler family. Philip went hunting with Christi. Michael working at Krogers and homework. Wrote 1400 words in 4 hours.

Sun.-Meaningful church service. Home around 2. Alli and Freeman here. She and I are going to make lasagna for dinner. Susan lounging sleepily on sofa. Phil and I napped and now he is out walking in this cold weather. Philip out in Fville for children's ministry meeting. Michael and Chace here. Other guys will join them this eve. Weather is frigid.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday Service-Dec. 27, 2009

We spent our Sunday morning at Hopewell. Anne sang with the worship team and a group of about 8 children signed and moved to the words. It was really beautiful.

Prayer excerpt-"Not only are you the light of the world but you have called us the light of the world..."

John S., the pastor, encouraged his flock to step it up and take their relationship with God to the next level. These are my notes from his sermon.

1 Tim. 4:7,8-"Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is good but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and the life to come."

The challenge for 2010 from the pastor is this: Resolve to train yourself to be godly.

Discipline is doing what you need to do now so you can grow stronger.

Gal. 4:19-"Oh, my dear children. I feel as if I am going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives."

My hope is that Christ would become fully alive in you.

11 Cor. 3:17,18-"Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

Where does the Holy Spirit live?
Where He lives, there is freedom.
Are you experiencing freedom the way Jesus wants you to experience freedom?
Do hurts color your life?
Are you bound by a habit?

If the Holy Spirit lives in us, we should be free.
It is God's work but we do have a responsibility.

People like to blame God or the church but Paul says, "Train yourself."
We make a decision to be godly, surrender ourselves to God, and ask Him to take control of the change and transformation in our lives. Embrace it and take personal responsibility for your journey with Christ.

Hebrews 12-The Greek word for 'train' is the same as the word for 'gymnasium.'

The most basic and foundational thing we can do for our own growth is the read the Bible.
You would be surprised at how many people do not read the Bible on a daily basis.

The Bible is different than any other book in the world because it is God's Word. There is no substitute for it. If we hide His word in our hearts, we will not sin against Him.

11 Tim. 3:16-"All Scripture is inspired by God-useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us what is right."

Heb. 4:10-"The Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, joint and marrow..."

We have a tendency to dissect the Bible. I want to allow the Bible to dissect me.(J.S.)

The Bible is omni-relevant. God takes the same scriptures and makes them personal for each individual.

Pastor John challenged us to follow the reading plan they provided and read through the New Testament in 4o days, asking God through His Holy Spirit to teach us as we read.
He said that the church is planning to pray and fast from Jan. 10-31.

The spiritual disciplines that he highlighted included:
Bible Reading
Meditation and Contemplation
He recommended starting a journal and writing down what God is doing in your life.

Highlight for me was to see some dear friends...Bev and her Julie, Janet and Janet, Loretta, Lisa, Audrey, Tom and Wendy, Pat and Kel, Shelly, Andy and Lucille, and many more...and to sit behind Chris and her family and hear her say that her last scan came back showing that she was cancer free. It was so easy to enter into the worship service after hearing that good news. It helped while we sang Johnny's funeral song, "Blessed Be your name", while watching Anne and feeling for her while she sang in the dress she wore as a bridesmaid for Johnny and Janelle's wedding. The sweet and the bitter. Life. Blessed be Your name...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Book You must read

"Sacred Pathways" by Gary Thomas is a must read book for anyone who loves God and wants to understand the way people relate to Him.

Gary explores nine different spiritual temperaments and explains how these temperaments affect the way we walk with God.

This book helped me tolerate my own and others style of approaching God. The tendency is to confine ourselves to others who travel our same pathway to God, but this is unfortunate. If we develop tolerance in the church body for these differences, we will be all the richer for it.

Let me try to explain the nine different temperaments.
You will recognize yourself and others as you read.

(It is understood that Christ is the only way to the Father.)

#1-Naturalists-Love God best when they are out of doors. They see the natural world proclaiming, 'God Is.'

#2-Sensates-Love God with the Senses. They love to bask in the awesomeness and beauty of God. They take in what they see, hear, and smell, etc. and use these senses to send their hearts soaring. These folks enjoy a liturgical and majestic form of worship.

#3-Traditionalists-They love God through symbols, sacraments, sacrifice, and rituals. They need structure and may appear to others to be legalistic. They find depth and historical rituals to be life-giving and full of the discipline that they crave.

#4-Ascetics-Love God through Solitude and Simplicity. They love to be alone with nothing to distract them. Even as they are part of a group, they may seem isolated from others. They tend to be introspective and do not enjoy atmospheres that keep them from being able to hear God and enjoy His rest.

#5-Activists-Love God through Confrontation of injustices. They are energized by conflict and believe in telling it like it is.

#6-Caregivers love God by loving and serving others. Mother Teresa is a good example of a caregiver.

#7-Enthusiasts-They love God through celebration and mystery and are cheerleaders for God. They think something is missing if they are not moved by the experience of God's power in the midst of body life. They don't want to just know things about God, they want to experience Him, and desire to motivate others to experience God's power as well.

#8-Contemplatives-They love God through adoration and view God as a loving Bridegroom and/or Father. Like Mary of Bethany, who sat at Jesus' feet, these folks want to love Jesus like she did. They do not focus on obeying, serving, or doing great things for God. They just want to love Him and adore Him.

#9-Intellectuals-Love God with their Mind. They love to study and live in the world of concepts. They feel closest to God when they understand something new about Him.

The balanced Christian will display many or all of these temperaments in one way or another. When you understand which temperament fits your souls pathway to God, then you can nurture that pathway. For example, if you are an intellectual, then feed your soul with good books. If you are a naturalist, make sure you have time alone outside. If you are a contemplative, guard your private life from too much activity.

Each temperament has its strengths and its downfalls. If we want to serve God faithfully for many more years to come, we must feed and strengthen our temperament and tend to the garden of our souls.

Some of my favorite quotes from the author are the following:

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's spiritual walk. After all, it's his, not yours. Better to discover the path God designed you to take-a path marked by growth and fulfillment, based on your unique temperament."

"Because some very helpful activities in the history of the church...have occasionally become polluted...some Christians have thrown most of them away. We have cut too far, however, amputating the arm because we fear an infection in the finger."

"Faith" today is often seen as a tool to get something special from God. Historically a man or woman of faith is one who was willing to give something precious to God."

"Solitude is a tool when we use it to recharge; if we neglect "the town," however, we won't be able to reach those who most need our message."

"Our lives take us through many different seasons and we must learn to adapt our spirituality and even our spiritual temperaments to meet the different demands of our changing life situations."

"Without rest, activists may adopt the self-defeating motivations of hatred and anger instead of love and compassion...When our activism is oriented around the love of God, it is as acceptable to God as the contemplative's prayer. If it is oriented around confrontation for its own sake, we may be feeding a sinfully divisive spirit rather than serving the unifying Holy Spirit."

"Contemplatives simply want to bathe in the ocean of love God has for His children, while the rest of us seem unfortunately content to experience that love drop by drop."

Well, I can barely stop. I love this book. I know you will too.

At the end of each chapter there is a list of questions to help you rate your spiritual likes and dislikes which helps you figure out what your temperaments are. I think you should just go out and buy a copy. I borrowed mine and since this is a re-re-read, I will have to get my own.
I'll leave you with a final quote.

"There is one thing that each individual Christian can do that nobody else can: give our personal love and affection to God."

This book has helped me understand the differences in the way my fellow believers worship God and I appreciate our differences in a new way. I gather the differences to my heart and I say, "Show me the way you love God best and I will learn from your ways and love Him more."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hertzler Doings-Dec. 21-27, 2009

Mon.-Today, Susan and I watched 'Julie and Julia' again. We watched for 30 min, worked for 30 min, watched for 30 min. and so on. I was so inspired that I made a double batch of cornmeal venison scrapple, a batch of homemade rolls, 6 lbs of venison sloppy joe mix, and a very large turkey. Susan is working on her rabbit cage. Suddenly, their are two rabbits who are very pregnant and she needs to make sure they are separated.(Post note: We now have 13 baby rabbits.) She is diligent in her care for animals and documents the things she learns. We watched 'Christmas with the Kranks' in the eve. before Phil and Philip got home( around 8:30.)

(I am rethinking the reasons that I blog. After viewing the movie about the girl who blogged through Julia Child's cookbook in a year, and checking out my friends 12 favorite blog sites, I realize that I don't come close to being a really good blogger. But do I want to have a wide readership? Didn't I start this with the intention that my family would have something special to read when I am dead and gone and hopefully before that as well? I have a few close friends who read what I write and that is gratifying but what if no one read what I wrote. Would I still write? Would I write for myself and would I write for God in case He wanted me to write the things on His heart and His word? I would. I would still write. And I must move beyond the desire to hear a word now and then about whether what I write means anything to anybody else. At the right time, God will give me that reassurance. Meanwhile, I pray that if there is something that I write that someone needs to read, God will lead them to my blog on that particular day, and they will be blessed and learn to trust God more and not give a hoot about the one who wrote the words. Blogging without receiving feedback, is one more way of being invisible. And that is a lesson I am learning at this stage in my life. )

Tues.-Susan and I spent most of the day with Betty and Kelly in Farmville. It's our Christmas tradition. We met at Amy's to get our hair done. Lindsay showed up with Addison to get her ears pierced. I held her on my lap while Amy got the earring gun ready on one side and Kelly F. was on the other. On the count of three, they pulled their triggers. Adi stayed relaxed in my arms and gave one little whimper while her good mother hid behind a large hand-held mirror and fought the guilt feelings that the Walmart clerk sent her way when she purchased the stud gun. "You are not going to pierce the ears of that child, are you?" she asked with an 'it is my business' attitude. Adi's ability to remain unfazed helped Lindsay get over her guilt feelings quickly and Adi looked so adorable in her little diamond earrings.
We went to Macado's for lunch and we gave Betty and Kelly some consumable chocolate candy and Betty gave the girls identical frog fleece pajama pants. Kelly gave Susan a WOW CD and Betty gave me a movie. I thought that our getting together was our gift to each other, but since Betty's love language is gift giving and mine is most likely 'quality time', the appearance of our gifts looked different.
We then went to The Daily Grind where I picked up Michael's gift for Freeman and Betty picked up a package left there for her as well. I had a good talk with Nanette. What a treasure she is.
Then we went to 'The Sleeping Bee' and 'The Wooden Heart' and Walmart. Oh my. That was crazy but it had to be done. We parted ways there and Susan and I went to the Shoe Store and got her some warm boots. We went and picked up some goodies at a friend's house and stopped in at the Bantons to check on Adi's ears and borrow some movies. Susan and I came home and put away our things and watched the Hoosier movie which was really well done. Michael and Philip went to Christi's party at Harvest and Philip shot Nerf bullets at the guys in Christi's Quatemalan pictures. (She showed pictures of her time over there.) Soon after we went to bed, I discovered that we had no water. And I had no water in the tub!

Wed.-Philip fixed our water problem this morning before going to work. He just flipped a switch and it came on. Running water makes life so much easier. I was about to fill the toilet tank with snow. The Edmonstons came over and we showed them how to take care of rabbits, cattle, and the wood stove. We took Susan's needy rabbit and her frogs to Lori who fell in love with the cuddly bunny. Made monster cookies for the boys-Chace, Erik, and Daniel P. were here in the afternoon. The boys made a fire down at the river and roasted some venison steak. Philip browned burger and added cheese dip and salsa and kept it warm in a crock pot. They came in the house and ate it with tortilla chips. Dan's folks lived in Morgantown years ago and moved out to Wisconsin. He's so easy to be around. He told Philip the story about his brother Derek. Derek and Philip were in the mother taught preschool at Conestoga. We were at the Petersheim farm and were looking at their pond. I was on the dock with Derek and heard a noise. I turned around and he wasn't there. Looking into the water, I saw him struggling, wide-eyed, to get to the surface. I reached down and pulled him out with his hair. Dan, Chace, and Erik are boys I would be proud to call sons along with my own. Made 12 turkey sandwiches for road trip tomorrow.

Thurs.-Left Va. at 10:45 and arrived in Elverson 6 hours later. Got to talk with Karen about Robert for awhile. Met at Mom and Dad's with 50 other family members and neighbors and went Christmas caroling from 7-10. At one point, 2 snowmobiles full of people pulled up to our cars and asked if they could have the experience of caroling with us at one place, so we went to Phil's cousin Dave's place right across the road. My highlight of the eve. was the opportunity to sing for Arnie, Esther, and Rachel. Esther looked so good, even after her surgery on Monday, and she sang all the words of the songs with us. It was an emotional experience to see her after knowing bits of her struggle after the fall that injured her brain, her rehab, her surgeries, etc. She's going to make it and have quite a story to tell.
After caroling, we went to Jim and Debra's for food and fellowship. It was good to catch up with some of our friends. Got to bed around midnight.

Fri.-Merry Christmas! Went to Mom and Dad's for our noon meal of turkey, filling, gravy, green beans, cole slaw, cheesy carrots, mashed potatoes, cranberry salad, raspberry fluff, rolls, butter, jelly, Karen's three desserts....We sang carols while we waited for Dave and Anne and incorporated their names in a song as they walked in the door. "Glory be to comes Dave and Anne..." We had 33-34 people in Mom and Dad's kitchen. We exchanged gifts in the afternoon and played 'Now you have it, Now you don't'. Janelle gave us a promise of a copy of her book coming out in March-"Seasons of Solace". The kids played the Farming Game, Monopoly, pinochle, etc. The adults sat around and talked. Paul showed me Katie's honor solo of 'O Holy Night' on his laptop. So beautiful and pure. Spent some bittersweet time with Annie, hearing and experiencing some of her life's story. Susan spent the night at Jim's, sleeping in the LR with her cousins.

Sat.-The boys went and visited some of their friends and ate breakfast at Shady Maple. Phil, Susan, and I went to see my mother, where I experienced another highlight. She looked great! She is down to 3 mg. of prednisone a day compared to 60 mg in August. It's been a rough year for her. She had a fever for 5 months and the finally diagnosed her with vasculitis in her lungs in Aug. Then we went to see Anne and Dave's house near Bowmansville and piled in their vehicle and went to Weaver's store where Phil bought some boots and hard pretzels. We stopped at King's store and got some bean dip, tortillas, cole slaw, and orange gumdrop slices. After we got back into our own car, we went to Walmart to get ice cream, batteries, and firm toothbrushes. Came back to Joe's. Susan had a little time with Grandma H. before we went to my oldest brothers place in Lanc. My brother is a gourmet cook among many other things. He served clam chowder and salad as appetizers. Philip ate 6 bowls of the soup and saved the turkey, ham, oyster filling, gourmet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, harvard beets, jello salad, celery and olives, rolls, butter, jam, dried corn,etc. for the rest. Everyone brought cakes or cookies and we were filled to the gills. Kelly and her husband came and little Noah gave me a hug right away. My brother has two grandchildren too and my sister's son and his family from Ohio were also there . Five great grandchildren for my mom. I remember my great-aunts and I hope that I can be as great of a great aunt to these children as they were to me. I helped mother with the traditional game with the grandkids-'Now you have it, now you don't.' It's been 7 months since my nephew's death and my sis-in-laws, my mother and I, spent some bittersweet time with my sister, as she talked about him, and showed us a hard back creative memory book about him that a friend had put together. She also showed us what his gravestone looks like. It is black and etched with a wildlife scene. The words, 'In His presence is fullness of joy...' is also etched in the granite. She reminds herself about where he is and what he is experiencing and that helps a little when she misses him the most. His absence has left a big gap in our family and I am filling my own personal Abie-gap with the awareness that every living person around me is more precious than ever, and I want to treat them with great love, because really, I don't know how long I will have them. While people are alive is the time to show them how important they are to me. We got back to Joe's around 9:30 and went straight to bed.

Sunday-Nice leisurely coffeecake breakfast with Joe and Karen. Church at Hopewell at 10:30. So wonderful to see our friends. How lovely to hear the voices of those across the aisles singing during worship. Good sermon, too. The Mast family gathered at 1:00 in the Fellowship Hall for their annual Sunday after Christmas reunion. Everybody brings food and place settings. Each of the Mast siblings got up and shared a highlight of their 2009 year and a childhood memory and then led in a Christmas song. There were 8 siblings represented. We've been without Aunt Miriam for two Christmas's I think. I noticed several things. First of all, there really is "Love at Home"-the song Uncle Milford led. And, every grandchild is handsome or beautiful. And, they can all sing. And they are all nice and responsible individuals. I had mothers talking about their daughters and saying how wonderful they are. We all exclaimed over each other's children's growth. One of the cousins had finally adopted two children...a court battle of 4 years. We ate lunch with Jitter and Freda and Jit gave Phil a book of hunting stories to read for a Christmas gift. Oh-we were about to leave but then some of the cousins asked Phil to please sing, 'Forever Young' so the Hertzler boys got up and asked Anne to come up too, and first, they sang, "Stand by your Anne..." which they sang at Dave and Anne's wedding reception. Then they sang 'Forever Young.' Some of the relatives told Phil that this is their highlight every year.
We left around 3:15 and got home around 9. Unpacked everything and got to bed around 10:30.
Dave and Anne are hoping to come see us in Feb. Katie-end of March, and Karalee in Aug. John and Terry are hoping to come in Jan. Last year, we didn't have as many visitors from Pa. but there was a wedding and several funerals...Maybe this year, I won't get as homesick, with family coming down to visit and mother doing better.

Men's quartet

Yesterday, church was cancelled, and we decided to have our family 'Christmas' even though our gifts weren't all under the tree. We read the Christmas story from Matthew and sang songs, each choosing our favorite. We sang 'Joy to the World' and 'O Come all Ye Faithful.' Michael sang the first verse in Latin-"Adeste Fidelis". We sang the traditional Mast Family songs; 'There were Shepherds abiding in the Fields..", "Silver Star", "O Beautiful Star", "The Message", and our version of "Silent Night."

Susan has a terrible head cold and couldn't sing, and I still couldn't sing from having bronchitis. So we listened to the four men sing. It was beautiful. Michael and Philip were singing the melody line, slapping each other's legs to keep the time. Freeman sang bass and Phil sang tenor. It was so beautiful that I wanted the moment to last forever. I tried to hide my tears, but Phil noticed.

I got the sense that we will never get this moment back-that nothing will ever be the same again. Not that I think I will lose a child or a spouse or that they will lose me. I am just aware that precious moments fly by and they can be replaced so quickly by sadder moments or even happier moments but this moment will never come around again.

Phil shared with us a Mast Christmas Dinner memory. After the Christmas dinner, the adults and older children would sit around the table, and each one got a turn at requesting a song. They'd sing all of the verses to every Christmas carol. Sometimes, there would be 30 people around the table, and they sang for hours and everyone enjoyed it.

And so each year, we continue the tradition. When we get together with the Hertzlers, they will sing around the table too. I hope our grandchildren will know these songs and I hope I'll hear them singing. "Glory be to God on high...Peace, Goodwill to mortals...Christ the Lord is born tonight...Heav'n swings wide its portals..."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Interesting Story

Today I read in interesting story in the book of Judges, the third chapter.

Here's a bit of background to the story.

Joshua had passed away.

The generation of those who experienced the mighty
works of God in delivering His people out of Egypt
and through the wilderness have also passed away.
The next generation did not know the Lord
or what He had done.
(Somebody should have been giving their kids some history lessons.)

They began to do evil in the sight of the Lord.
They forgot Him and served other gods
with weird names like 'Baal' and 'Asherah.'

And God got very angry with them.
He hadn't delivered them and given them
the Promised Land and made life good for them
so they could go on their jolly old way
and play around with other gods.

So, He sold them into slavery.
After about 8 years, they got sick and tired of being slaves
and cried out to God,
and He sent a deliverer who happened to be
Caleb's younger brother, Othniel.

He was a good judge and the Spirit of the Lord was on him.
He went to war and God not only delivered His children
from the king of Mesopotamia,
He delivered the king into their hands.

And they were good to go for 40 years.

But then,
Othniel died.

And the children of Israel began sinning again.
So, God raised up an enemy king, Eglon of Moab,
to defeat them and take their land.
And this time,
they were in bondage for 18 years before they
began to cry out to the Lord for deliverance.

And this is where my story begins today.

God raised up Ehud, a left-handed Benjamite.
The children of Israel would send Ehud
into the presence of King Eglon,
to pay their tributes to him.

Ehud made himself a double-edged dagger
about 18 inches long and fastened it on
his right side, under his clothes.

He went into the king and gave him the tributes
and then he said,
"I have a secret message for you from God."

The king sent everyone out and stood up to receive this message.

Ehud came close
as if to speak secretly.
He reached his left hand across
his body, took the dagger,
and thrust it into Eglon's belly.

Have I mentioned that Eglon was a very fat man?

Even the hilt went through his body,
and the fat closed over the blade
and his insides came out.

That is so gross.
I apologize.

Ehud went out through the porch
and shut the doors behind him,
locking them as he went.

After he left, Eglon's servants came back
and discovered that the door was locked.
They figured the king was taking care of his private business
and waited until it was too embarrassing to wait
any longer.

They got a key, opened the door,
and saw their master,
dead on the floor.

Ehud escaped while the servants
were politely waiting around,
and he went back home and blew the trumpet
and gathered together the children of Israel.

The Israelites followed Ehud,
seized important property,
and killed 10,000 of Moab's
most stout and valored men.

Not a man escaped.

Vs. 30 says, "So Moab was subdued that day
under the hand of Israel.
And the land had rest for 80 years."
No small thing.
Well, that's my story.
I know this blog is already long,
but I thought of a few valuable lessons
to be learned from this account.

1)-Cry out to God when you are tired of worshipping other gods and are weary of the enslavement that accompanies that activity.

2)-If you want to kill a very fat enemy, make your own dagger.

3)-Lose weight if you need to.

4)-Don't be alone when someone says they have a Word from the Lord for you.

5)-Watch out for left-handed tribute payers.

6)-If you've used your dagger, escape quickly.

7)-Don't wait too long to open a locked door, especially if you know that there are no reading materials in the 'necessary' room.

8)-People will follow a brave leader who can blow a trumpet and make his own weapons.

9)-Most times, there is a battle before there is a victory.

10)-Most times, there must be a victory, before you have rest.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just a few days Ago

A few Sunday's ago, Pastor Frank noted that a thousand years is like a day in the eyes of the LORD. Therefore, he said, it was just a few days ago that Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead!

I've been thinking about this every day.
It makes the gospels come alive.

Just a few days ago, Jesus fed the 5,000.
Surely, He will feed me today.

Just a few days ago, He healed the blind man,
and cleansed the leper, and made the deaf to hear.

It makes faith come near.
This just happened in God's eyes.
It's not something in the distant past.

When I was a little girl,
I thought Jesus was crucified every year.
I would get sad at Easter and think about Him
dying on a cross somewhere out there.
I remember where I was and where I was standing,
when my older sister told me that He died once,
a long time ago and that He never needed to die again.
I was so relieved!

I never want to crucify Him again.

It can be done.

In Hebrews 6:6,
it speaks of those who have experienced His light, His gifts, the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and His power.
All of those things were given to the church because He was crucified and rose again.

But if we've experienced the power of the cross and then decide to disown Him, deliberately abandoning our faith,
it says that is impossible to renew our repentance, since we crucify for ourselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

I wish it didn't say those words.
But the blood of Christ is precious
and cannot be misused.

Having doubts,
being unsure,
being hurt and pulling back for awhile
is not the same as deliberately disowning Him.

we experience a crisis of faith,
and we are not sure of Jesus and God and His Kingdom.
like in marriage,
we experience an ebb and flow
in our relationship with Christ.

Faith is a process
and sometimes our belief systems
do get broken.

Christian people turn their own people away from faith in Christ because of their hypocrisy and cruelty and lack of compassion.

I think Jesus weeps when we do that to each other.

But even though Christians have wronged us
and life circumstances have disrupted our neat
little boxes of faith,
we can still love God
because He first loved us.

He didn't do anything wrong.

Why should we leave Him?
Why should we abandon and disown Him
because of those who bear His name?
Why should we not believe in Him
just because He does things differently
than what we think He should?

Please don't crucify Him again.
Seek Him. Ask Him to help you know Him.
Tell Him your faith is in a cave.
I have done this.
He has helped me.

When the women went to the cave to put spices on Jesus' body,
they did not believe His words that He would rise again. Their faith was in a cave.

One does not bring spices to preserve
the body of a living Christ.

He helped their unbelief.
He showed Himself to them.
He reassured them over and over.
He'll do the same for you.

After all,
it was only 'yesterday'
that their 'crisis-of-faith-cave'
became an empty tomb.

Sunday Service-Dec.13, 2009

In 11 Sam. 23, we read about David's recognition and accounts of his mighty men of valor. When David first fled from Saul and took refuge in a cave, others began to join them. These were people who were depressed, discouraged, in debt and in all sorts of trouble.

After these men spent time with David in the cave, they came out as warriors; mighty men of valor; all because they spent time with the king.

We come to Jesus, just as we are, and He spends time with us and we become mighty men and women of valor. Our passion for Him causes us to do whatever needs to be done for Him.

One of the 'mighty' was a man named Benaiah.
He was a valiant man who had done many deeds.
He killed two lion-like heroes of Moab.
He went down in a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.
He also wrestled with a spectacular Egyptian man,
took his sword from him,
and used it to kill the man.
Benaiah was honored more than the thirty other men of valor,
and although he did not attain to the first three great men,
he won a name among those top three men.

David appointed Benaiah as captain over his guard.
David knew that Benaiah would be there
when he needed him.
Being in the cave with David,
the true king of Israel,
changed the way these men thought
and the way they interacted with their world.

The Word of God does the same for us.

1) The Word of God reframes our focus.

For example, it takes the subject of persecution, trials, and death
and reframes how we perceive them.
Through the light of the scriptures,
these things become a blessing.

"Blessed are you when you are persecuted for righteousness sake."
"Blessed are you when men insult you...and call you evil for My sake.."
"Consider it all joy when you experience trials of every sort."
"Oh, death. Where is your sting? Where is your victory?"
"It has been granted to you on Christ's behalf, not only to believe in Him,
but to suffer to His sake."

It's as if God is saying, "I am doing you a favor by allowing you to suffer."

The frame we look through is structured with the purpose and plan of God that shows us the victory in the midst of the sorrows of life.

We overcome in life by the blood of the Lamb
which has been shed in the past,
and by the word of our testimony,
which is a present and daily opportunity.

2)-The Word of God remodels us.

When we break a bone, something called 'osteoplast'
comes to our aid in the natural.
It surrounds the bone with extra
nutrition in order to repair the bone
and make it stronger than it was before.

God's word does that.
In an area of brokenness in our life,
God comes with His divine 'osteoplast'
and remodels our brokenness
and makes us stronger in that area
than had it never been broken in the first place.

(It reminds me of that verse in Psalms 51:8-
"Make me to hear joy and gladness,
that the bones You have broken may rejoice..."
David wrote those words after Nathan the prophet
had confronted him regarding his sin with Bathsheba.)

3)-The Word of God reconditions us.

Ivan Pavlov taught us about conditional responses.
Suppose a dog is trained to expect a treat
whenever he hears a bell ring.
Thereafter, when the dog hears a bell,
it will begin to salivate,
in anticipation of the food he thinks he will receive.
The dog is conditioned to respond to the ringing of a bell in that manner.

In life, we experience failure.
Sometimes, we are conditioned to be reminded of that failure.
Sometimes, we hear a certain song,
or see someone who reminds us of another,
and our senses translate this stimuli
into a reminder of our failure or bad experiences.

Remember when Jesus told Peter that before the rooster crowed,
he would have denied Him three times?
From that time on,
every time a rooster crowed,
Peter would be reminded of his denial of His Lord.

Perhaps, Jesus reconditioned Peter
by meeting him on the shore that day.
Jesus asked him three times if he loved Him
and Peter reassured Him three times that he did.
Perhaps, each reassurance,
erased one painful denial of His Lord.

I wonder if the rooster's crow
from that day forward,
reminded Peter of God's grace
instead of his failure.
"For the love of the King,
be reminded of God's grace
and not your failure."
"Live a life worth telling stories about."
Don't stay in survival mode.
Don't allow past failures to haunt you
and make you run away and weep
when the rooster crows.

Allow God to reframe, remodel, and recondition your life.

Allow Him to take the guilt away that you've been conditioned to feel
whenever the rooster's crow reminds you of your sin.
Allow God to turn the noisy crow into a joyful sound
that reminds you of His grace.
These are the notes I took Sunday morning and my perceptions of what I heard.
(disclaimer for PF)
I really love this sermon.
I love it more now than when I heard it the first time
because I was distracted by where I was sitting
and my schedule.
I find it especially enlightening after I heard the sermon this morning
on the Kingdom of Heaven. (recorded in the blog before this)

He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Be careful what you hear, Jesus said.(Mark 4:24)
With the same measure you use,
(in hearing), it will be measured to you;
and to you who hear,
more will be given.

I want to hear what the King of our Kingdom is saying to all of the citizens in His country. If He is speaking, I want to hear what He has to say.
The more I hear,
the more He will give me to hear.
Oh, Jesus. Please, help us hear what You are saying to us.
It is of vital importance.
Give us a hunger and thirst for your kingdom and your righteousness.
Give us an ear to hear Your voice
above all other voices.
Let us be still and know that You are God.
Open up your Word to us
and reveal to us Your character and Your ways.

Blessing and honor,
Glory and power,
Riches and wisdom
To the Lamb that was slain.
Holy. Holy. Holy.
Holy. Holy God.

Words from a Doctor

I heard this teaching today from Dr. Myles Monroe.
Sometimes, I forget this truth.
There is nothing more important than an idea.
Dead men rule the world.
Ideas are generational. They live on.
An idea becomes your ideology
which becomes your philosophy
which becomes your way of life.

Is your idea right?

It's important to believe the right idea.
Your life becomes what you believe.
If your idea is wrong, your whole life will be wrong.

The Word means logos: an expression of an idea.
God is the original idea and through His idea everything exists.

What was God's original idea?
He wanted to colonize earth with Heaven,
so the culture of earth would look just like heaven.

Too often,
instead of seeking God's ideas,
we ask Him to bless our ideas.

It is important for believers to understand the concepts of God.
"Teach me your precepts."
Precepts precede concepts.
Precepts is the original idea.

For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

The Bible is about a King and His kingdom and His kids.
The King wants His invisible kingdom
to be made visible through His kids.

Other religions, including Christianity,
are focused on getting out of earth
and going to a better place.

God wants His kingdom to be manifested on earth.
A kingdom is a country. Jesus wants to establish
His kingdom on earth as a colony of Heaven.

The greatest opposition Jesus had was from religious people.
Could it be His teachings were so non-religious
the the religious people couldn't handle them?

His first public message was
"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
Matt. 4:17

The prophets foretold that the government
would be on Christ's shoulders...
the increase of His government would have no end!

In a Kingdom, every citizen becomes like the King.
They reflect the King's nature and values.
It is not a democracy.
'If you love Me, you'll obey my commands.'

We are in the world, but not of the world.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast.
Yeast is influence.
Yeast is introduced into dough.
The yeast never becomes dough;
the dough is infiltrated by the yeast.
God wants His Kingdom to influence and infiltrate the whole earth.

There is no law in the Bible
that is bad for the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven.
But we've made it a religion instead of a culture.

What should we do?
Two things.
1) Seek first the Kingdom of God
2) and His righteousness
And all these things shall be added to you.
Matt. 6:33
Most of our faith is focused on prayer about things.

How do I become a citizen of this country?
We have to be born into it.
We need to be born again.
We need to be born of the Spirit.
We must embrace the laws of the country and obey them
so there is no dysfunction between us and the King.
The words 'submit and obey'
are words found in a kingdom,
not a democracy.

It is His obligation to take care of you
as a citizen of His kingdom.
You focus on seeking His kingdom
and right standing with Him.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
We have complicated things, haven't we?
"Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth, as it is in Heaven."

And as citizens of this kingdom
we can call Him,
"Our Father..."
and ask for our daily bread...
forgiveness of sins...
For it's His kingdom,
His power,
His glory,
forever and ever.
Amen. ~A


I am resting today on my easy chair. I turned on the TV and heard some teaching as I rested. Perhaps you would like to hear it as well?
The arrow that flies by noonday-Ps.91:5-comes at a time when your life is successful and you are being elevated. The psalmist says that we will not be afraid of those arrows.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Hosea means salvation.
Gomer means Beloved.
When Gomer was behaving badly,
Hosea still called her Beloved.
~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Those who come from an alcoholic home are often addicted to drama.
Drama (addiction to crisis) is an assassin meant to rob you of life.
To overcome, we need the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, The Word of God, and prayer intercessors around us.
We need Secret Service friends to protect us for where we are blind.
We cannot see everything at once.
We need good people around us who are watching out for us.
(And those who are willing to love us enough to risk pointing out our blind spots and help us to see.)
Don't tell all of your business to everybody.
Mature people are transparent to those who are trustworthy
and discreet with those who are not.
Be careful with whom you are in covenant with.
The church is made up of broken people who Christ is putting back together.
Although we are dysfunctional, He makes us functional, restored, and recovered in life. We are not meant to remain dysfunctional.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hertzler Doings-Dec.14-20, 2009

Mon.-2 hour delay due to icy conditions. Sat down with Mike and Susan and watched an Eloise movie. Drank coffee and rested. Wrote Hertzler grown up names on the cinnamon ornaments I made earlier and threaded them with pretty cord. Mom asked me to make the name places for Christmas this year. On one side, I wrote their name; on the other side, I wrote a gift from God for them. Wisdom, strength, faith, comfort, joy, hope, love, a song, honor, riches, favor, healing, etc. It made me feel close to our family. Bought chocolate gold coins for the kids-nieces and nephews- and wrote their names on it. Went to doctor. Have acute bronchitis and sinus infection. She prescribed very strong antibiotics, an inhaler, and cough syrup with codeine. The antibiotic is hurting my stomach. Got Susan's gifts for Jane at the store and she wrapped them so beautifully. She wrapped a teddy bear tie that I bought at goodwill awhile ago for Dr. H. She is going to be all innocent when she gives it to him. Not sure what he'll do with it.
Went to Kroger's today and was treated so kindly by the cashier. I recognized her name as someone Michael talks about as being really nice. I told her that he appreciates her and that I was his mother. She had a line of people after me, but she came over to me and looked me right in the eye and said, "Michael is one of the nicest, politest young men I have ever met and I am including my own. He's a keeper." I said, "He sure is. I love him dearly." I thought of the verse in Proverbs where it says that your children will rise up and call you blessed and today I experienced the fruit of those words.

Tues.-Rested. Blogged. Rested. Michael went to New Life's basketball game in the eve. Someone was talking to him afterwards and was asking him what school he goes to. "Cornerstone Christian Academy" in Appomattox,"he replied. "Isn't that pretty much a college prep school?" they wondered. "Pretty much," said Michael. This pleased him.

Wed.-Have I mentioned that Philip's girlfriend, Christi Plank, is home from her missions experience in Guatemala? She was there for 3 1/2 months, working with little children. It's so good to have her back home safely. Today I made Snickers fudge-long process but looks divine, peanut butter chocolate fudge, and homemade marshmallows which I will roll in Christmassy sprinkles. Did 4 loads of wash and blogged a bit. Am feeling better but still can't talk or sing much. I don't miss talking, but I miss singing. Went into town early with the kids to do some shopping before church. Stopped at the bank and then went to Belks. As we were walking in, Michael realized that he didn't have his wallet. He went back to open the car and here his wallet was on the edge of the roof. He had taken it out to get his checks to make a night deposit at the bank. We were so thankful that it hadn't fallen on the roof on our drive over the Belks. Christmas party at Vertical Edge. I ran into Mattie and Steve at Walmart. They said that during the Christmas musical, they would watch the crowd behind the curtains when Freeman performed his Elvis type song. Mattie said the older women were beside themselves...practically swooning is the impression I got.
Phil went to Harrisonburg today to pick up supplies for job in Richmond. He came back to the job and then found another connection in D.C. He and Philip went to D.C. to pick up supplies and got into their room at the Abbey at 4 this (Thurs.) morning. Freeman's been staying out there all week. Phil and Philip have been home some eves.

Thurs.-Susan home from school with miserable head cold. I'm making biscotti, chocolate covered peanut butter Ritz crackers, chocolate covered coconut cream Ritz crackers, chocolate covered peppermint cream Ritz crackers, chocolate covered pretzels. We'll see how far I get. My friend, Dianna, had surgery on her foot today. Praying for her. Made lots of plates and gift boxes filled with candy, etc. for teachers, doctors and dentist in Appomattox, hostess gifts, and Phil's work friends. Angel growled at electric company guy today. He came to the door with a crowbar and was threatening to hit Angel if she bit him. She was growling and very unset with him. I told him that she was growling because he had a crowbar. A bit unsettling.

Fri.-Went to Krogers and battled the crowds. Weather forecast is calling for 12-18 inches. Waited in line for 15 min and made a new friend. Went to school for the Christmas brunch.
Got lots of gifts from students. Half day today. Dropped off candy for Dr. Wright and Dr. Tom and Dr. Harvey. Came home and tore around, cleaning up trash outside, filling up pitchers with water, doing wash, making food,sprinkling salt on porches, etc. Freeman and Michael are busy cutting firewood. Phil and Philip in Richmond, racing the weather. Church staff party tonight at Potters...Missed the party. Heard it was nice. Started snowing around 4.

Sat.-Woke up to 8 inches of snow...10...12...14 probably. Still snowing Sat. eve. Philip shot two doe for crop damage. Michael tried his hand at 4 wheeling but its too deep. Freeman busy in shop all day making something special. Susan, in and out of house, talking with friends, playing in snow, playing card game with me. She took the Dutch rabbit and laid him on his back in the snow and he laid there with one leg shivering. Michael asked me to feel his gloves later on in the day. They were sticking out of his hoodie pocket. I thought they were cold so I touched them and screamed. The dutch rabbit was in his pocket. He couldn't stop laughing and I told him that I was too old for that kind of thing and that I was going to make him pay. :) I told Freeman that I told Michael that I was too old for that kind of thing and he said that half of the women at church hope they look as good as me when they are 40. Phil was out plowing for several hours. I made caramel corn for our kids for Christmas and fruit balls for my mother. ( Made out of dried fruit, nuts, and OJ concentrate and maple syrup.) So good. Slept in afternoon. Watched 3 stooges. Made twice baked potatoes and broccoli and salad for supper. So nice to have electricity. Church has been cancelled for tomorrow. We decided to have our 'Christmas' tomorrow, even though we don't have all our gifts. We'll tell each other our presents after we have a nice breakfast together and read the Christmas story.

Sunday-Church at home. Made an egg casserole. Phil read the Christmas story and we each shared something that stood out to us and what it means in our lives. We each chose a song or two and sang for awhile. Then we gave each other the gifts we had and told each other the gifts we have yet to get. They watched some more Three Stooges while I cleaned up the dishes and dipped pretzel rods in chocolate. Decorated them with Peanut M&M's. In the afternoon, Philip and Michael were outside sledding and four wheeling with some of their friends. Chad, Daniel, and Joel came into the house while Philip and Michael made them venison steak sandwiches. They watched 3 stooges while they waited. Susan and I watched the movie Michael gave to me-"Julia and Julie" or vice versa. I loved it. I grew up watching Julia Child and I love to cook and write. Started looking through some cookbooks. Maybe I should blog through the Little House Cookbook. Got my gifts ready to send to my 'shore' girls. Now we'll all have the same necklace made from trellis yarn. Phil stole my 'Gods and Generals' book on the civil war, but I think he will finish it before I miss it. (He finished it. Came to bed and said it was too sad. Thought I shouldn't read it. Almost made him cry.) Played some games with Susan in the eve. Freeman took gifts over to Alli and she sent back two homemade scarves for Susan and I. So thoughtful and I don't know when she had time to make them. Beautiful too, and I will wear mine as soon as possible.
Talked with Judy for awhile. She said she feels sorry for anyone who does not have a friend like me. For one thing, you are really smart she said ..and insightful. How sweet of her. She always says something that builds me up. Thank you Judy. She called earlier in the day when our family was singing so I just pushed the speakerphone button when I saw it was her. She thought she had gotten the answering machine. We finished up our song and then she told all of us how she had gotten Sammy Jo a stuffed cat that meows whenever you walk past it. SJ is bent on finding the cat in their house and it is wrapped and under the tree.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Potpourri

I found something I wrote for a devotional many years ago.
It's about Christmas so I thought I'd share it here.
It is Luke who goes into detail about the story of Elizabeth and Zachariah.
Mary and Elizabeth were cousins.
Luke uses words a doctor would use:
barren, womb, mute, etc.-
physical descriptions and an orderly
account of these events.
Luke, the Beloved Physician.
When the angel told Zechariah that Elizabeth
would bear a son that would be a forerunner of the Messiah,
he reacted in disbelief.
He asked for a sign.
The angel told him that the judgment for his unbelief
would be muteness.
He wouldn't be able to talk
until his son was born.
But God, in His grace,
made the very judgment of muteness
the sign
that Zachariah was looking for.
Because he was mute,
he knew that what the angel said
would come to pass.
When Mary was approached by the angel Gabriel,
and was told that she would bear a son,
she wondered how this would come to pass.
And God told her.
She didn't wonder 'if' it would come to pass.
She wondered 'how' it would come to pass.
And God gave her an honest answer.
When she had a bit of an understanding to
the matter at hand,
she said, "Be it unto me according to Your Word."

Those words...where did they take her?
She almost lost her beloved Joseph.
She lost the security of her roots and became a fugitive;
traveling where she needed to be for her son's safety.

Those words took her to the temple
to hear Simeon's words of blessing on Jesus
and his solemn words to her,
"A sword shall pierce your heart as well."

They took her back to that same temple 13 years later,
in search of her teenager,
only to hear His words,
"Why did you seek me?
Did you not know that I must be about
my Father's business?"

They took her in search of
a thirty year old Jesus
as He spoke to the crowds
that gathered around Him.
When He realized that His
family was looking for Him,
He said, "Who is my mother,
my sister, and my brothers?
He who does the will of my Father
in Heaven-the same is my mother
and sisters and brothers."

Those words
took her to a wedding,
where Jesus performed His
first public miracle
at her insistence.
He turned the water into wine.

Those words,
"Be it unto me according to Your Word"
have created a halo around her head
in nearly every picture painted of her.

But she was human, not divine.
She was afraid and not confident.
But she trusted anyway.
She was obedient.
She is to be envied and blessed above all women,
for she bore the Savior of the world.

God was her husband.

He who created her
was born through her.
He chose the genetics of His mother.
He chose her personality and the color of her hair.
He chose the beauty of her eyes.
He chose who His earthly father would be.

Where did they take her-
these words?
They took her to the cross
where a sword did indeed pierce her soul.
They took her to the home of John the Beloved.
They took her to a place of honor above all women.

Where will they take you?
When we hear the word of God saying,
" I am come that you might have life
and have it more abundantly,"
we say, 'Be it unto me according to Your Word.'

"My plans for you are for good and not for evil..."
'Be it unto me according to Your Word.'

"He that would be my disciple
must first take up his cross and follow me..."
"If a man strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also."
"Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."

"Be it unto me according to Your Word."

Those words are a blanket statement for all of the Word of God.
We don't get to pick and choose which Words we want to keep.

But if we say these words and mean them,
we will catch a glimpse of the adventure that
Mary had, and we too,
will experience selflessness, the cross,
and a place of honor.
Immanuel-God with us.
The God who was with the Israelites in
the pillar of fire and the cloud
and the ark of the covenant,
was now with them in flesh
through Jesus Christ
and is with us now through
His Holy Spirit.
Immanuel-God is still with us.
When the angels came to the shepherds they said,
"Fear not. I bring you good tidings of great joy
which shall be to all people. A Savior is born-
Christ the Lord!"
And then a multitude of the Heavenly Host
joined that same angel in praising God.
Nice little Christmas programs
with children chanting in sweet unison,
"Glory to God in the Highest..."
have stilted the magnificence
of what happened that night.

Imagine a sky full of angels
praising God individually
in multiple angelic voices,
crying out, "Glory to God
in the Highest, and on earth peace,
Good will towards men!"
They were excited.
They were all praising God
and they were most likely not
shouting their praises in unison.

Have you ever been to a prayer meeting
where everyone is praying and praising
at the top of their lungs?
This may give you a small flavor
of the glorious sounds
coming from the sky that night.

Later, on that same night,
Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus,
had many visitors,
because the shepherds went about
telling everyone what the angel
had said. "For unto you this night...
a Savior is shall find the babe..
wrapped in swaddling clothes,
and lying in a manger."
Once again,
Mary pondered these things in her heart.
What a woman of discretion was Mary,
the mother of Jesus.
She could have raised her other children
with the awareness of who Jesus
really was.
they did not believe in Him
until after His resurrection.
The book of James is thought
to be written by Jesus' brother.
He later died for his faith.
Mary could have told everyone
what she knew,
but instead,
she pondered these things in her heart.
And the wisemen?
Educated, Gentile wisemen probably from Mesopotamia,
sought for a Jewish king.
They traveled for months to find Him,
following the star at night,
and reading the story it told.

When they saw the star resting
over the home of Jesus,
they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
Rejoice means to turn around and around
with estatic praise.
What did that look like amidst a
group of wise men?
We've gotten stuck on the idea that
there were only three wisemen
because there were three gifts,
but most likely,
there were many wisemen
and others who were in their caravan
as they traveled across the desert.
Surely they had men along to protect them
and their gifts.
They must have had numerous pack animals
carrying the food they needed to make
the long journey.

And when they saw Jesus, they fell down
and worshiped Him.
What did that look like?
Wisemen, falling down before a
two year old.
What did Mary think?
Just at the time in her life she may have
been getting a little tired of changing
Jesus' diapers,
wealthy wisemen come through
the door of her humble abode,
and fall on their faces
in front of her son.
Talk about getting your perspective
restored quickly.

And the gifts? help ease their way a bit
and to remind Him of Heaven's streets. incense to burn;
symbolic of prayer
and communion with God. oil that could be used
in perfume, incense, and medicines;
symbolic perhaps, of His destiny-
a reminder of His death and burial
and subsequent healing for the nations.
King Herod was troubled by the
grand visitation of the wisemen.
He was afraid of a baby king.
When the wise men were warned
by God to head home another way
to avoid giving Herod any information,
he set out to destroy all male babies,
two years of age and under.
These babies were the first martyrs
for Jesus and I am sure that they were
given a royal welcome in heaven,
even as their mother's wept.

Mary and Joseph fled with Jesus as well.
The seeming detour of Jesus' journey
from Jerusalem to
Egypt to Nazareth because of the evil kings,
was not God's permissive will, but His perfect plan.
Matthew records the words spoken by the prophets,
"Out of Egypt have I called my Son,"
and "He shall be called a Nazarene."

It is interesting to note that nowhere are the words,
"He shall be called a Nazarene" recorded
by any Old Testament prophets.
Nazareth was such an obscure town,
it was never mentioned in the Old Testament.
It was considered an unlikely place to raise a Messiah.

But in Isaiah 4:2 and Zechariah 3:8,
the Messiah is referred to as
'The Branch' and the Hebrew word
for branch is 'Nezer.'
God kept this a secret
in the O.T. prophecies,
most likely to protect Jesus'
young life.
It was written in code;
a riddle.
And finally,
the word 'peace.'

Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah
would guide our feet in the way of peace.

The angels said,"Peace, goodwill towards men."

When Simeon saw Jesus, he said,
"Let your servant depart in peace
for my eyes have seen Your salvation..."

And Jesus is described as 'The Prince of Peace'
by Old Testament prophets.

But Jesus, of Himself, said,
"I came not to bring peace, but a sword,"
referring to family relationships.
Those who accept Christ are opposed
by those who reject him.
"You will be hated," He said,
"by all men for My sake."

Externally, because of Christ,
there will be strife between yourself
and others.

But within yourself,
those who walk with Him,
shall have peace that passes understanding.
He chose a discreet young woman
to give birth to Jesus
and a small, insignificant town
in which to raise Jesus.
Heavenly beings shared exuberant
news to faithful shepherds on a hillside
and Gentile astrologers
traveled long and hard
to find and worship this Jewish King.

Where do you fit in?

Are you discreet and able to quietly ponder the things of God?
Can God trust you with His secrets?

Do you come from an obscure place?
Are you willing to be unknown?

Do you walk humbly and faithfully?
Do you travel far within and without to seek Him?

you identify with Him in one or more of these ways,
and most certainly,
He identifies with you.

God is with us.
Have a wonderful Christmas month.

Random Thoughts

When Jesus saw the multitude, He was moved with compassion. He was not, however, controlled by the masses. He sometimes left them to go be alone or to give more time to a chosen few. He often involved His disciples in the process of caring for others and then He came home to them. He gave them special care and friendship for three years before He gave them the charge to make other disciples. In the feeding of the 5,000, the disciples ate too.
Sometimes, I wonder, if we focus too much on having an open front door in our churches. If the emphasis is always on reaching the community, believers might not invest the time in becoming disciples of Christ. And when things get uncomfortable for legitimate or false reasons, it is too easy to go out the back door, because everyone is focused on the front door. Numbers may stay the same, but faces change. And sometimes, no one even notices.
Everyone needs to have a place to go where it is all about them.
That place would be home.
Jesus said," I go to prepare a place for YOU
that where I am there YOU may be also."
Everyone needs to have a place to go where it is all about them.
A gift given by one who is of a controlling nature, makes the receiver feel obligated to be grateful. The gift is meant to control the other person's behavior. It was not given to show love.

"Pain that is not transformed is transferred."
Richard Rohr
"Crows go in flocks and wolves in packs,
but the lion and the eagle are solitaires.

Strength is not in bluster and noise.
Strength is in quietness.
The lake must be calm if the
heavens are to be reflected on its surface."
(Streams in the Desert)
"There is no such sweet singing as a song in the night."
(Streams in the Desert)

"You Make me Feel Normal"

The other day, I was eating lunch with a friend. I had ordered a rice and bean tortilla and the rice and beans were falling all over me. When I apologized for my mess, my friend said, 'Oh, please. You make me feel so normal.'

I've been thinking about those words.

Aren't we attracted to the qualities in others that make us feel normal?
We think we have to be perfect and have it together but its the lack of togetherness that actually endears others to us.

I worship the majesty of God my Father,
but I am endeared to Jesus who became flesh
and dwelt among us.

I am endeared to His tiredness
and His need to be alone.
I feel His vulnerability in His words,
"Take this cup from me"
and "My God, why have you forsaken me?"
I love His dirty feet and His smelly robe
after He's spent a day in the sun with crowds
of once-sick people.

He bleeds like we bleed.
He sweats like we sweat.
He dreads like we dread.

His mother had to change His diapers, too.
He learned obedience through the things He suffered.
He was tempted in all areas of life just like we are.

And so, I worship God in His majesty,
and I love Jesus in His humility
as the Son of Man.

The other day,
I saw a man's hands shake from nervousness,
and I felt compassion for his humble humanity.

I heard a woman say that she developed an ulcer
during a time in her life when she should have trusted
God more and I was drawn to her humble humanity.

I berate myself sometimes for not having it more together at my age.
I think I should stop doing that.
When I have it all together,
I'll be dead.

I am human
and it is so much easier
to be humbly human
when I recognize that others
are humbled by their humanity
as well.

We can make people feel like we have it made
and that no one else can be as good or as excellent
or as smart
as we are.

Or, we can make them feel normal
and pave the way for friendship.

So go ahead and take a bite
and spill your rice and beans.

Be humbly human
and enjoy your life.

Lessons and Carols, Dec. 6, 2009

Cornerstone Christian Academy held its annual Christmas Program entitled, "Lessons and Carols", on Dec. 6, Sunday afternoon, at 2:00.

"Lessons and Carols" is, I believe, an Anglican tradition of over 100 years. Nine different scriptures are read which point to the coming of Christ and His second return. Christmas songs are sung by various classes in between the readings. Every year has the continuity of the scriptures along with the creativity of different songs. The first song, 'Once in Royal David's City' is a constant. A soloist sings the first verse and the students and congregation join in with the other verses as the students file in and sit down.

This year's highlights for me were as follows:

Select Choir's singing of 'O Holy Night' and 'The Lord's Prayer'. The four girls, Clarissa, Mikayla, Sydney, and my Susan, sang with such beauty and unity that people were moved to tears. Mikayla smiled as she sang and I am so glad that her Bell's Palsy is almost a distant memory. What would the world do without Mikayla's smile?

During practice, only one little kindergarten girl held a baby Jesus during their song, "Away in a Manger." The other little girls looked longingly at the baby and I told Cynthia that they all need to have a baby. "Four baby Jesus's?" she wondered. "Yes." Fortunately, Stacy had five baby Jesus's and all of the little girls happily cuddled Him in their arms while they sang during the program. (How do you spell the plural of Jesus?)

The Shorter Family sang, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Larry accompanied Susan, Logan, and Cameron on the guitar. It was hauntingly beautiful and had me in tears during practice.

K-2 sang "Little Drummer Boy" and "Silent Night." I loved the certainty in their voices when they got to the 'pa-rum-pa-pa-pums'.

3-5 graders sang 'The Wisemen Followed the Star' and they sang it like they loved it. They then sang 'Here I am to Worship' and it was truly worshipful. A number of people commented on that song.

6-12 graders sang 'Emmanuel', 'Come Thou Long Expected Jesus', and 'Joy to the World.' We sang 'Joy to the World' in four part harmony. Mikayla sang alto. Henry and Gavin sang tenor and Michael sang bass. It was nice.

There were a number of Christmas carols sung by the congregation while the students came up and took their places.

I loved the way Caleb read his scripture.
I told him that he's a 'preacher man' and he said, "Thank you."
I also love to listen to my Michael read. He reads with authority and understanding and I think everyone else pays as much attention to his words as I do.

The whole school sang, 'Sing the Glory of His name' as our Grand finale, followed by 'Adeste Fidelis'-Latin for 'O Come All Ye Faithful'. The students filed back to their seats as the sang.

Afterwards, the PTF had a huge spread of food for everyone to eat. There must have been 300 people there. The older students had to keep bringing in chairs during the program as people continued to come in.

It was a great day.
The church service in the morning filled my spirit.
The noon meal filled my body.
And 'Lessons and Carols' filled my soul.
I ate a continual feast all day
and I am full.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sunday Service-Dec.6,2009

Our family attended Christ Church in Appomattox this past Sunday. Christ Church is an Anglican church and meets in the chapel at Cornerstone Christian Academy. Dr. Geoffrey Hubler is the pastor.
I enjoyed the beauty of the hymns and the responsive liturgical readings. The following is Dr. Hubler's sermon based on John's Gospel, the sixth chapter.
Dr. Hubler is preaching a series on the "I Am's" of Christ.
He reviewed last week's message based on the story of Christ walking on the water of a storm swept sea. The disciples were frightened when they saw Jesus but He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." The words "It is I" are another way of saying, "I Am He."

Life has its fearful circumstances.

When God comes close to you it is a frightful thing to see Who He is and all that you are not. We learn the fear of the Lord as we approach God and are approached by Him. We also need to learn the release of fear and move on from being afraid of Him.
The words from the song, 'Amazing Grace' aptly phrase that concept: "Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved."
Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two small fish. When everyone had eaten and the leftovers were gathered up, some of those who had been fed wanted to come and take Jesus by force and make Him king, so He went off to the mountain to be alone.

The next day, after the event on the stormy waters, people came looking for Him on the other side of the sea. Jesus told them that they did not come looking for Him because they saw miraculous signs, but because they had eaten their fill. He exhorted them to labor for food which endures to everlasting life by believing in the one God sent.

They asked Him for more signs in order to believe in Him.
He told them that He was the bread of life sent from God.
(He was the sign.)
But even though they saw Him, they did not believe.

They wanted their free lunch.

We are alot like them.

We like to fit God into our lives which is different than enthroning Him as the God of our lives.

What do we pray for?
Do we pray about the Kingdom of God and His righteousness?
Do we concern ourselves with the Bread of Heaven?

In the midst of His dialogue with these people, Jesus said,"I have come down from heaven,..." He went on to say other things, but they could not hear anything else. "What does He mean when He says ' I have come down from heaven? Don't we know His family?"

And they were offended in Him.

Jesus had said that whoever comes to Him would never hunger and would never be driven away. He said that He would lose none that the Father had given Him.

The great irony is this:
Because of His hard sayings, many of His disciples 'walked no more with Him.'
They were ready to make Him King the day before because they had eaten their fill.
But when they heard His teaching that He was the Bread of Life and that they should feed on Him, they turned away.

How should they have responded?
How should we respond?

The sick woman reached through a crowd. "I'm going to lay hold of this man."
Jacob wrestled with God and his name changed from Jacob to Israel. "I will not let you go until you bless me."
God, please give me to Jesus because He will not cast me out.
Too often we do not hunger for the Bread of Life. We go through life without a sense of alarm because we are not hungry.
We are passive.
O God, please give me a hunger for the things of God and for the Bread of Life. Give me a thirst for You.
The people got stuck on one spoken line and didn't hear the rest. The metaphor was lost on them. Jesus' body was broken and His blood was shed for us. We have to have the faith of the cross.
The Bread of Life is the message of the cross.
His broken body is God's provision.
After his sermon, Dr. Hubler invited us to the communion table to share in the Bread of Life.
He said, "Come Beloved; all is prepared."
And we went up and received the symbols of Christ's broken body.
He laid his hands on the foreheads of the children who had not yet been baptized and blessed them.

We were blessed to be part of this service.

I want to write the words,"Come Beloved; all is prepared" on one of the pieces of wood salvaged from the old barn that fell on our property.
If I should never get around to doing that, no matter. Those words are now engraved in my heart.