Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday

Whether you are traveling today...



...or just hanging out with your "peeps"....


I hope you have a relaxed day....


....and a wonderful weekend.

Get ready; Advent is almost here!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day

File:Thanksgiving chapel interior .jpg
Thanksgiving Chapel: Photo by DH Parks from Creative Commons

A tradition was begun by George Washington in 1789 and then re-established by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 ~ in the middle of a Civil War.  This was the tradition of the Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation, calling on Americans to stop and spend the day in giving thanks to God, and in prayer.

 I did a little research and discovered that the Pilgrim Hall Museum maintains these presidential proclamations, from Washington all the way to Obama.   It is interesting to browse through these and read what each president has had to say; I think it provides great insight into the character of these different men.

Today as you prepare to spend a day with your family and friends, as you sit down to a meal, whether it be scanty or plentiful, I challenge you to remember to give thanks regardless of your own external circumstances.  Give thanks if you are having a good year.  Give thanks for the blessing of the trials.  Give thanks for the family and friends who are with you, the ones who are far away and not able to be home, and the ones who are celebrating at God's table this year, where over-indulgence is not possible.  Give thanks with a grateful heart not only because of what He has done and given to you, but just because He is God and He alone is worthy of our praise.

Here is one of my favorite presidential proclamations:

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

The celebration of Thanksgiving Day is one of our Nation's most venerable and cherished traditions.  Almost 200 years ago, the first President of these United States, George Washington, issued the first national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation under the Constitution and recommended to the American people that they "be devoted to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be." He called upon them to raise "prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations," not merely for continued blessings on our own land but on all rulers and nations that they might know "good government, peace, and concord."
A century ago, President Grover Cleveland called for "prayers and song of praise" that would render to God the appreciation of the American people for His mercy and for the abundant harvests and rich rewards He had bestowed upon our Nation through the labor of its farmers, shopkeepers, and tradesmen. Both of these Proclamations included something else as well: a recognition of our shortcomings and transgressions and our dependence, in total and in every particular, on the forgiveness and forbearance of the Almighty.

Today, cognizant of our American heritage of freedom and opportunity, we are again called to gratitude, thanksgiving, and contrition. Thanksgiving Day summons every American to pause in the midst of activity, however necessary and valuable, to give simple and humble thanks to God. This gracious gratitude is the "service" of which Washington spoke. It is a service that opens our hearts to one another as members of a single family gathered around the bounteous table of God's Creation. The images of the Thanksgiving celebrations at America's earliest settlement-of Pilgrim and Iroquois Confederacy assembled in festive friendship-resonate with even greater power in our own day. People from every race, culture, and creed on the face of the Earth now inhabit this land. Their presence illuminates the basic yearning for freedom, peace, and prosperity that has always been the spirit of the New World.

In this year when we as a people enjoy the fruits of economic growth and international cooperation, let us take time both to remember the sacrifices that have made this harvest possible and the needs of those who do not fully partake of its benefits. The wonder of our agricultural abundance must be recalled as the work of farmers who, under the best and worst of conditions, give their all to raise food upon the land. The gratitude that fills our being must be tempered with compassion for the needy. The blessings that are ours must be understood as the gift of a loving God Whose greatest gift is healing. Let us join then, with the psalmist of old:

O give thanks to the Lord, call on His name, Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him, Tell of all His wonderful works!
Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!


Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 1988, as a National Day of Thanksgiving, and I call upon the citizens of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirteenth.

RONALD REAGAN



 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Names

I have gotten back to working on my Names Project (if you are just joining us, you may read some of the background here).  Hopefully I will be finishing up the book of Jeremiah this week. 

 

I have realized something interesting about myself during the Names Project.  I don't think I am unique in this situation, although I might be.  When it comes to talking about God, I am always a little cautious about presenting Him as a God of wrath and anger.  For a long time, I was afraid that someone might hear that and then have trouble understanding His mercy and grace.  I have finally figured out that God's mercy and grace really can not be understood apart from His anger.  You know what else?  God really doesn't need me to polish up His image for Him!

When I was little I understood that sometimes my Daddy got angry.  There was a level of anger that was reserved for those who practiced wickedness.  The people who hurt or neglected children.  The preachers who preached something other than God's word and misled their church.  A person who was consistently defiant and disrespectful of authority.  And heaven help the one who threatened or harmed one of his children.  We knew that if anyone tried to harm us, they would have to go through our Daddy to get us.  There was great security in that knowledge.  His anger was directed toward badness.  It was a tool for our protection. 

In this way (and many others), my Dad is really good at reflecting God as a Father because God's anger is directed toward evil.  It is directed toward the evil that would harm His children.  More importantly, it is directed toward the evil that comes against His honor. 

We need to understand that any and every sin is evil ~ even sinful thoughts ~ and that God can not tolerate any sin at all.  Then we come to the realization that we sin; therefore God can not tolerate us.  When we catch hold of that truth, it changes our understanding of grace and mercy.  It makes the grace and the mercy so much deeper and richer!

So my name/description for God this week is one that is found throughout the book of Jeremiah: Angry.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: You have seen all the disaster that I brought upon Jerusalem and upon all the cities of Judah. Behold, this day they are a desolation, and no one dwells in them, because of the evil that they committed, provoking me to anger, in that they went to make offerings and serve other gods that they knew not, neither they, nor you, nor your fathers.   
                                                                                                                                    Jeremiah 44:2-3

May God protect us from the sin of idolatry ~ making anything more important than Him ~ or from any other sin in our lives.

His peace to your homes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jack South

Last week I told you about our trip to South Carolina

Jack enjoyed the trip back home as much as the trip over.  In fact, I think it is safe to say that he enjoyed the trip back even more.  Probably because he got more attention.

We stopped at the rest stop just over the line from South Carolina into Georgia.  I walked into the Welcome Station and introduced Jack to the young lady who was working there.  She was so impressed with Jack that she volunteered to hold him for a picture with the Georgia Peach!

I still can't decide if it was because she was captivated by Jack's charms...
...or afraid of the crazy lady he was traveling with.

Jack was quite comfortable at the welcome station










The best rest areas have rocking chairs.
...because it is the home of the Masters' Gold Tournament, that's why.

The next stop was at the home of my dear friend Susan and her family.  Susan's Mr. Marvelous is a gardener just like mine.  Except mine grows vegetables and hers grows everything else.






Jack was disappointed that we did not have a picnic.
It was a little too cool.
Jack says he is the one who is too cool!

Jack also met my friends' cats.

He wasn't afraid...
...just cautious.

We did not stay as long as I would have liked.  If we had, I would still be there.  (as long as Mr. Marvelous were there too).

We left on a Saturday and headed back toward Alabama.  

Every time I drive through Atlanta with Mr. Marvelous, or even with Mr. Marvelous, Jr., I always bug/beg them to make just one extra stop.  I promise I would not be more than an hour or three.  Maybe six. 

They always roll their eyes and keep driving along I-20.  

This time it was just me and Jack.  Guess what?!





























 I sent these two pictures to the marvelous ones. 



















 They tried to pretend that they were not consumed with envy.














We were disappointed to find them closed.  We had hoped to at least get onto the Dahlonega Mine Train and maybe even the Scream Machine.  Maybe next time.

We left our happy place and kept on driving toward home.

Before long, we came to this.

You bet we do!  Jack does too.






Personally I thought he was a little old for this pose but he insisted.





In the south, if the temperature drops into the 50's a fire is a necessity.

And before too much longer, we were home.

Jack is excited about Thanksgiving.  He is looking forward to learning about not only the holiday, but the traditions behind it.  He has big plans so stay tuned!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Guest Post Thanksgiving 2014


The First Thanksgiving At Plymouth by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe picture from public domain
Today my favorite writer is sharing his November meditation with us.  Dr. Gordon Reed is a pastor, conference speaker, professor, and author of some of my favorite books.  He is the best preacher I have ever had the privilege of hearing and the best writer I have ever had the privilege of reading.  

He also happens to be the best Dad a girl could have!

There is a hymn we only get to sing one time each year but we really should sing much more often.  "Come Ye Thankful People, Come" is a call for God's people to joyfully praise Him for all His incredible goodness to us.  Since it is set in the context of the fall harvest, we associate this hymn almost exclusively with our national holiday called Thanksgiving, and sing it at no other time.  That is really a shame, because like so many hymns of that era, it was not only a call to thankful worship and praise, but its content also taught biblical truths we need to hear.  When Mr. Henry Alford wrote this Hymn, "Come Ye Thankful People, Come" he wanted those who would sing this hymn to think beyond the immediate fall harvest, to another time of harvest at the end of the world.  So he pointed us to the parable of the wheat and tares which Jesus told as recorded in Matthew 13.  In this parable Jesus said that the Kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field, but at night, an enemy came in and sowed bad seed.  The word "tare" is probably the weed called bearded darnel, which looks very much like wheat early on, but is host to a poison, dangerous for any who eat it.  The good seed, the wheat, is identified as true believers, and the tares as false professors.  Skipping over the rest of the story and the interpretation, at the very end, the angels separate the wheat from the tares.  The "tares" are burned with fire, but the "wheat" ~ the true believers ~ are brought into the glorious kingdom of their Father.  The last verse of the hymn reflects that hope and that longing that the Lord will come quickly and gather in His people, "free from sorrow, free from sin".  So when you sing this hymn at Thanksgiving, as many will, reflect on the deeper reasons for our praise, the final harvest when the Lord will come and call us home.

With love and thanksgiving for each one of you!


http://freehymnal.com/png/comeyethankfulpeoplecome.png
From Freehymnary.org: this hymn is in the public domain


Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday

 

It is one of my favorite weekends of the year.  In just two days I get to attend Handel's Messiah.

The Alabama Civic Chorale will do this for the 67th consecutive year.  It is the second longest running performance in the United States (the Handel + Haydn Society of Boston ~ of course! ~ holds the record having started in 1853).

Bebe Clark Kok continues the tradition that her parents began in 1947.

I began my personal tradition of attending after we moved to Alabama in 2008.  When I discovered that this free performance is available to "whosoever will", I was hooked.  I wrote about my first visit here and a couple of years later here

Sometimes other people go with me (Mr. Marvelous, Jr., my friend Bobbie and my friend Beth have all accompanied me).  Sometimes I go by myself.  I always take my own copy of the music.

Every single time they get to the Hallelujah chorus I try to sing with them.  After a few notes I can not sing any more.  The tears start flowing and I am too caught up in the glory of the music to do anything more than breathe.  I have to remind myself to do that.

Thank you, Alabama Civic Chorale.

Thank you, Mrs. Kok.

Thank you! 

I'm looking forward to being with you once again.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gardening In Winter

Winter has hit Alabama this past week.

Remember those tomatoes we were hoping to baby through the winter in the hoop house?

 

They froze.
 Oh well.

For a few years Mr. Marvelous has been trying to persuade me to agree to put plastic up on some of the windows and perhaps even around the back porches.  I was less than enthusiastic.  

Until I started worrying about the rosemary.

I had an idea.  Mr. Marvelous could build out a window ledge from the kitchen window that looks out onto the back porch.  Kind of a miniature bay window.  Then he could glass that in, add shelves, maybe put a grow-light under one of the shelves for the plants on the bottom shelf, and then I could have an herb box year-round!  Doesn't that sound like the perfect idea??!!

I still can't figure out why he was laughing so hard when I was trying to describe it to him.  I thought it sounded reasonable and well within his marvelous capabilities.

We compromised.  We (and by "we" I mean "He and Junior") put plastic up around the lower back porch one morning and around the upper back porch that afternoon.  

With supervisory help from Jack South.


The back porch is now staying consistently 10-15 degrees warmer than the outside.  That might not help the plants that much if it gets down into the single digits, but it is making a difference now.

So far we have the rosemary out there and the fairy garden.  

I'll get some lettuce planted in plastic bins and foil pans this weekend




 and maybe move the parsley in from the beds outside. 


Yes, the chickens are safely tucked away into their tractors.

They will NOT be spending the winter on the porch!

Mr. Marvelous is getting new catalogs and some seeds in the mail every week.  Some weeks that seems like a daily event!  

He'll be starting seeds in pots before too much longer.





We are planning on an extensive raised bed system this next year.  As those seeds are germinating, he will be building frames.  

To Mr. Marvelous, one of the best things about gardening is that it is a year-round endeavor.

He does love his gardens!