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Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Day, A New Year. . . New Opportunity


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\ / TODAY'S VERSE from HEARTLIGHT -- http://www.heartlight.org/
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December 31, 2010


VERSE:
This is what the Lord says, ... "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."
-- Isaiah 43:16,18-19

THOUGHT:
The year is gone, finished, past. We cannot reclaim it or undo it. We cannot rest on the great distance it has brought us. If tomorrow dawns, it will be another day, a new opportunity, and the time to show our faith in Jesus as Lord. Let's journey forward, knowing that God already inhabits the future and promises to provide us refreshment on our journey there.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day


Boxing Day (Dec 26)

Give With Good Cheer

You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully.

2 Corinthians 9:7



When your decide to give to those in need, do it with a smile and much love.

Boxing Day was first observed in Queen Victoria’s England, in the mid-1800's, with servants and tradesmen receiving gifts and money. Children received small gifts from their parents, and the poor would go door-to-door hoping for treats to fill their boxes. The custom is still practiced today in England and Canada, but the concept of charitable giving is upheld in countries all over the world.

Jesus encouraged us to take care of the poor, to share our worldly possessions with those of us less fortunate. Throughout the holiday season, individuals and businesses donate what they can to ease the burdens of others. Make it a habit to think of the poor all year round. Share your material wealth and your spiritual wealth– the knowledge of God’s love. Un-box His word and share the joy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Keep These Things


Keep These Things (something I wrote a few years ago)


The gifts were many, each a treasure
Some of wealth, more of the heart.

The greetings robust, yet hushed
And filled with awe.

The star shimmered still, even
As morning neared.

Her body drained, Mary sighed, breathing in scents
Of pungent hay, and sheep, and donkey.
Her pulse quickened again at the wonder—
Her new son, her Jesus, who would be Lord.

She knew the Scriptures and held them dear.

Her stomach clenched, overwhelmed at being chosen.
Her, a common girl, not worthy, not ready.

The baby fussed, and Mary hugged Him to her chest. A breeze
Tickled the hairs on her arm, and she smiled.
She thought of the Angel’s words, the shepherd’s words.
The voices lifted in praise.

Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.
She held them dear.

Shepherds Watching

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\ / TODAY'S VERSE from HEARTLIGHT -- http://www.heartlight.org/
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December 22, 2010


VERSE:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord
appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and
they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is
Christ the Lord."
-- Luke 2:8-11



THOUGHT:
Shepherds and the glory of the Lord in the same sentence.
Shepherds enjoyed a great heritage in Israel with Abraham, Moses,
and David as notable shepherds and God being identified through
Psalm 23 as a great shepherd. But by this time in Israelite
history, they were not highly regarded. They smelled like sheep.
They spent their time with sheep. They were not really clean and
religious enough to be considered spiritual. So when God chose to
announce the birth of Jesus to shepherds with his contingent of
angels he makes his point clear: Everyone is loved by God, everyone
has access to God, and everyone is desired by God.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New Review!


Google just alerted me to a new review of "Prodigal" on the web. Thank you, Southern Fiber Reviews!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday "Karma"


Wonderful, So-True post today by Paperback Writer. I don't believe in "Karma" but this is a compelling case.


Thursday, December 16, 2010
Holiday Karma


If he picked out the expensive perfume in your stocking, prepare to smell like a mango, an opium addict or a streetwalker for the next six months.

If she picked out a special holiday sweater for you to wear, be prepared to flash, ring, shed sequins, itch unbearably and possibly have your manhood questioned.

If you bake your own cookies, no matter how carefully you plan, you will make too many or not enough. You will also burn the ones you're giving your boss but won't realize they're scorched on the bottom until he's about to take a bite.

The day after you finish all your holiday shopping someone will ask you to get a gift for someone who wasn't on your list. P.S., the recipient will be someone you don't know, someone you don't like, and/or insanely difficult to shop for.

The food item you are highly allergic to will be the secret ingredient in your neighbor's famous pumpkin bread. You will not discover this until after the emergency room visit.

The giant hole/termite infestation/occupied bird's nest in your Christmas tree will not become evident until you are putting on the last ornament.

The mail carrier you chewed out for delivering a battered box last July will assure that no gift package addressed to you ever again lands unscathed.

The mall Santa will smell like Ben-Gay, denture cream or Jack Daniels, and will go on his lunch break just as you and your exhausted preschooler reach the front of the line.

When he visits, your weird uncle will definitely ask where you've displayed put the semi-pornographic statue he gave you for your wedding.

While cooking dinner for your family you will drop something on the kitchen floor that 1) shatters into a million razor-sharp pieces, 2) creates a small lake of something nearly impossible to clean up fast (like cooking oil) and/or 3) is an essential part of the recipe for your entree, one you had to drive 20+ miles to purchase.

Visit Paperback Writer every day for more compelling insights!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Do Not Be Afraid

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\ / TODAY'S VERSE from HEARTLIGHT -- http://www.heartlight.org/
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December 15, 2010


VERSE:
The angel said to [Mary], "Do not be afraid, you have found
favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and
you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be
called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the
throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of
Jacob forever."
-- Luke 1:30-33



THOUGHT:
Jesus is identified by many names stated or implied in the four
Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Notice how Jesus is identified
in just this one passage: child, son, Jesus, great, Son of the Most
High, King, son of David, and leader of Israel (Jacob). Jesus
exhausts all descriptions, and yet chose to be limited to imperfect
descriptions by becoming human. But this flood of names and
descriptions helps us find Jesus as our Savior in every trial and
blessing of life. Jesus is Savior for all seasons.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Eve Vigil


I posted this story here years ago, after it was published in a Christmas collection. This looks like the last Christmas we'll have my grandmother with us, so I wanted to share it again.


Christmas Eve Vigil
"Mom-Mom, I hear him," I whispered, sitting up slightly in bed. With the
covers sliding off, I leaned toward the other twin bed where my grandmother
slept, or tried to, during my all night vigil watching for Santa. Cool air
touched my skin, but my excitement warmed me. "I hear something on the
roof."

I still recall the sweet scent of her beauty-salon hair-do, as she shook her
head and whispered for me to go to sleep, or Santa couldn't come visit our
house. Mom-Mom stayed overnight every Christmas Eve, it was a family
tradition. I was no more than five at the time, but the memories of that
dark night have never faded. I knew Santa was out there, somewhere, nearby,
and likely to sweep in close when I wasn't looking. I had been good all
year, and had faith that Santa knew that.

Deeper in the night, I looked over and saw my grandmother, appearing to be
sitting upright in a rocking chair. When I woke her to tell her this, she
wasn't pleased.

"Robin, please go to sleep." She still whispered, but with an edge to her
voice now. "You're trying too hard. You know he'll be here."

I tried to comply, I really did. I could then perceive that she was indeed
laying down, not sitting in a chair. But as I lay there, staring into
blackness, my belief grew stronger that Santa was with me, whether or not I
could see or hear him. Most children in our country are lucky, they will
have their beliefs confirmed on Christmas morning. As adults, we need to
keep our faith as well, our faith that God is always with us, whether we
physically see Him or not.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas, the one whom we are really
accountable too. Jesus knows who has been naughty and who has been nice.
When we stare into long moments of blackness, we need to keep the childlike
wonder fresh, and know that He could be on our roof at any time. Even better
than Santa, God is with us everyday.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Personal


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\ / TODAY'S VERSE from HEARTLIGHT -- http://www.heartlight.org/
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December 11, 2010


VERSE:
The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
-- Isaiah 7:14

THOUGHT:
God is interested in us personally. So much so, that he personally gives us this sign. Because of Matthew's explanation of the meaning of the name Immanuel, we know what that sign was - Jesus coming to live as God with us. His presence is God's presence. His life is God's sign. The miracle of his conception is God's mystery and also his statement of grace for us.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Reach for Opportunities

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\ / TODAY'S VERSE from HEARTLIGHT -- http://www.heartlight.org/
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December 5, 2010


VERSE:
Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. ... whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it the full."
-- John 10:7,9-10


THOUGHT:
Jesus came to the world to give us life. He didn't come to bring us rules, or judgement, or fear, or work. Jesus came to give us life in its fullest form. While we know that this is promised to us when we go to be with him for all eternity, John wants us to clearly hear that Jesus' promise to give us life begins right now!
Not JUST life later, but also life NOW!

PRAYER:
Almighty God, I confess that sometimes I play life too carefully, not risking failure and loss and not reaching for your opportunities and your concerns. Give me a heart that yearns to live life in all its fullness by seeking after your will, Jesus'
example and the Holy Spirit's leading in my decisions today, and always. Through the name of Jesus I ask this to your glory. Amen.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Christmas Grace


"Christmas Grace" is back! If you missed this duet of Christmas short stories, check it out now, available from Author's Den.

(A duet of short Christmas stories, original publication date: 2008)



Christmas Grace by Laura Hamby

Hannah Kelsey, now orphaned by the War Between the States, awaits patiently for news of her one, surviving brother. A life that has been anything but easy is made more complicated by the Yankee solder she finds lying in front of her cabin a few days before the Christmas of 1864.





The Scent of Falling Snow by Robin Bayne



Aideen O'Conner felt a certain twinge when Rob Novak walked into her dance studio. Was it because she thought he didn't take her seriously, or because she was afraid he would?

When Rob visits his daughter's step-dancing teacher, he makes it clear he doesn't consider the activitiy a challenge. The real challange comes when he learns the teacher's secret.