Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Race

Here we are again. Today is the last day of the year 2011. Another year has raced by us. Even though many days are long, the years are indeed short.

Christmas has passed. We enjoyed spending the weekend with family and friends. There was a lot of food and laughter. One good laugh was at the expense of my sister Jean. She was proudly modeling her new American Eagle jeans, turned wrong and threw her back out. She spent Christmas day on the sofa. You have to laugh not to cry. When you get older seems you can’t sneeze without hurting yourself!

Last night Dan and I settled in by the fire and watched The Help. It is extremely rare for him to sit still that long. We actually managed to watch the entire movie with eyes open. We will see how we fair tonight as we attempt to ring in the New Year with friends.

Life is full of success and failures, sadness and rejoicing. Some days it seems life is just a rat race. We run just as hard as we can but seem to go no where. Those times we wonder if we have the strength to endure.

I was sitting a friend’s memorial Christmas week asking God why to many questions. I was grieving the loss of a precious friend and many other things. I was comforted by a friend’s statement, “Just think what kind of Christmas she is having in heaven.” Her race was finished.

I had one of those crystal clear visions. Not like those dreams you remember but quickly dismiss. It was one of those “God” dreams. I saw myself running down an aisle just as hard and fast as I could. At the end of the aisle were my mother and father; smiling, waving, clapping their hands as they cheered me on toward them.

As you might imagine, I felt very comforted and loved. On those days I feel discouraged; I hope to revisit this image in my head. We are never alone or forgotten. We are forever surrounded by a cloud of witnesses cheering us on.

Blessings and love for the New Year!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12: 1


Monday, December 26, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas - The Meaning Behind The Song

The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days between Christmas Day, Dec. 25th, the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, Jan. 6th, the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi (Wise Men) and the revelation of Christ as the light of the world.

The Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" may sound silly and contrived to many of us. But it actually had its origins in religious symbolism - and with a serious purpose.

It dates from a time of religious persecution. The song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," was written as a kind of secret catechism that could sing in public without fear of arrest - a learning or memory aid to Christians in fact.

The song can be taken at two levels of interpretation - the surface meaning, or the hidden meaning known only to the Christians involved. Each element is a code word for a religious truth.

1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.

2. The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.

3. Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.

4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels.

5. The five gold rings recall the Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.

6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.

7. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.

9. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

10. The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.

11. Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles.

12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed.

If you think Jesus being symbolized as a partridge in a pear tree sounds blasphemous, remember:

"Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so." (Luke 13:34 and Matthew 23:34)

The "true love" in the song refers to God Himself.

The "me" receiving the gifts is every Christian.

So that "silly" song we sing at Christmas time has more meaning than we thought.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


       It is Dan’s fault. I had said my goodbyes and shared Christmas blessings with the Lunch Bunch, finished my errands, including my honey do list and was on my way home. I received a call from sweet Hubby asking for one last errand.

Gracie and me!

             Whenever I am in this particular neighborhood I was dispatched to, I pop into a little shop just to see what they may have of interest. I kept hearing puppy sounds but did not see the source. My curiously got the best of me. The next I know, I am buckling in a new friend for the trip home. Dan wasn’t sure when he saw Gracie, as I immediately named her, perched in the front passenger seat. Within a few minutes, she was sitting at the dining table panting and making both of us laugh. Angel dog does not yet share our excitement. When Gracie raises her ears, so does Angel dog, but the latter with disdain.

Who would NOT fall in love with this face!

          I am so happy Dan is falling in love with Gracie too. Good thing; as I quickly pointed out it was his fault for sending me into that area of town. Sometimes it is just mutual love at first sight. We cannot wait to take Gracie to visit family over Christmas! I know she will be the hit of the festivities!

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

                               Dan, Linda, Angel Dog and Gracie!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


            For a few minutes I thought I had stumbled into the wrong gathering. Usually the group of friends I meet for lunch each week are upbeat and positive. This week they, as one described their mood, had their knickers in a knot over uncompromising demands upon family time, gifts and gatherings.

A new heating and cooling system - an unexpected "gift".

           Dan and I just recently had a conversation about how so many difficult situations seem to develop around the Christmas season. We personally have been hit with unforeseen expenses, friends with life threatening illness, deaths and other issues. Tragedy, stress and sadness seem to be head line news all around the globe.

           The reason is obvious. Circumstances can take our focus off of the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Personally, we have made a conscious effort to de-stress holidays as best as we can. Instead of the hustle and bustle of shopping for that perfect gift and racing from one house or event to another, we are making every effort to keep it simple. This year, we decided not to stress out trying to find anything that our children and grandchildren do not already have. We are giving more “practical” gifts and making donations to charities in their names. Of course, practical can have a broad definition in grandparent land. We are asking simply for gifts of time with family.

          We were thrilled that our daughter in law and son began Thanksgiving Day with a family 5K fund raiser for a local food bank. (Though we have yet to see the footage, it is rumored that Nana and five year old grandson Joshua finished dead last.) They understand the importance of teaching children the value of giving. Even more importantly, they understand the value of teaching them about the only perfect gift.

"Jesus, What Happened"

          At Bible study this week, after confessing her obsession of buying a gift for herself each time she purchased one for the person on her list, our leader began the lecture with the word perfect. Webster’s first definition: complete in all respects; flawless. Why do we even attempt to purchase perfect gifts? The perfect gift of course is Christ. His gift to us: complete in all respects, flawless!

For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.... Lo, I have come to do thy will... And every priest stands at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifice, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God ... For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Hebrews 10: 11-18:

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Twin Houses

Several years ago God sent a precious young friend into our lives. Nene worked for our optometrist. In the course of conversation we discovered one of the things we had in common was breast cancer. I remember a phone call from her that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. She was thankful she had received an encouraging oncology report. She spoke of how God was blessing her even during this most difficult time. God had brought a man into her life she believed was to be her life long partner. She knew he was a Godly man because he loved her with the love of God; even with her bald head and ravaged body.

Twin Houses: just like human twins they are mirror images of the other.

Nene lived in the cutest little cottage ever. She shared the story of twin sisters who had built these two cottages side beside. The twins wanted to be close but not under the same roof. They decided to build a connecting deck between the cottages. Each felt they could share this common ground.

We were both shocked and devastated when Nene passed away a few short weeks after our long conversation. It was difficult to understand why God allowed this precious Godly and pure young lady to leave this earth so soon. She shared concern for those she loved; particularly her father. Her mother had succumbed to cancer at the same age of 35.

Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. God however is still in control. Nene, in her short life, left more light in this world than many of us do in a life time. We miss her, but know she is rejoicing with her Mom in heaven.

Like the twin sisters’ deck, the same things that connect us can also separate us. This can be especially true among family. Things that should bring us together in commonality; often divide. We all deal with hurt in our own way. Some of us cope in denial, and anger; others seek truth and healing. I am so thankful for God’s gifts of people like Nene. They encourage me to keep trusting God to turn hurts and disappointments into a deeper genuine love and understanding of others; particularly those closest to our hearts.

In the meanwhile, I am reminded of the words a friend penned to me from The Help; "You is good! You is smart! You is somebody!" I quote another friend, "God is crazy about His girls!" Nothing quite tops that now does it?

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  Matthew 5:44-45