Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Seven

On the Seventh Day of Christmas My Father Gave to Me....

...A new year with a new start!

Happy New Year, Everyone!!  

I love fresh starts.  I love fresh opportunities to redeem my time for God's glory.  I have been spending time this week working on having things in order for the start of the New Year.  Family finances and budget, Household organization, plans for a home Bible study that will be starting in the next few weeks.  Marvelous Mark and I have even been working on planning and preparing an area in our front yard for a cottage garden.  As I look over all this stuff and the work that must be done to keep the home stable and working effectively, I am comforted by the words of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount.  When I begin to get stressed over my ineffectiveness, or grow anxious about all the "stuff" in my life, I read these words again and find my peace and comfort.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."  Matthew 6:25-34

May you be comforted as well.  May God's peace cover your hearts, your lives, and your home this coming year. 

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Six

On the Sixth Day of Christmas My Father Gave to Me...

...the grace to keep going on a New Tradition!  

I am continuing to search for names of Jesus throughout the Bible and have decided to make this a "until I re-read the entire Bible" kind of project.  I have finished the book of Acts and have had some interesting thoughts about this process that I would like to share.
  1. In the book of Acts there is only one chapter where Jesus is not mentioned by name or title.  That is chapter 27 or the Shipwreck chapter.  Curious, isn't it?
  2. As I read and write names down on pieces of paper I realize that some names have more meaning for some people than for others.  For example, those with a Jewish heritage will get a lot more out of the name "Son of David" than those who do not have that background.  
  3. I began to think about how people would react to certain names.  If you were to come to my home and take a slip of paper with a name on it, how would you react to one that says, "this man"?  
  4. I realize how important it is to emphasize not just one name, but the fact that it is ALL the names that make an attempt to describe in human terms just who Jesus is.  
  5. This is not a futile, time-wasting exercise.  It helps me see my Jesus more clearly.  That is never a waste of time! I trust that God will use this activity for His honor and glory.
  6. During a time when my activity is limited, this is a pretty fun and interesting way to spend my time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Three

On the Third Day of Christmas, My Father Gave To Me.....

...A few days of forced rest.  I am getting a lot of physical rest.  I am having a lot of time to read my Bible.  I am having a lot of time to read the book about which my husband has said, "I'm not asking you to read this, I'm telling you to." ~ Waking the Dead by John Eldridge.   There have also been a few quiet, craft-y type chores, but mostly just REST.  What a gift!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Two

On the Second Day of Christmas My Father Gave to Me....

Parents and Grandparents (really, really Grand!) who prayed for me incessantly.

My grandparents began praying for each of their grandchildren twice each day from the moment they knew we had been conceived.  They prayed for us, and they prayed for our one-day husbands and wives.  When they began praying for me, my husband's parents, who were not church-goers, made the decision to put my husband in a Christian kindergarten program.  There he began to hear Bible stories and learn about prayer.  Nineteen years later, when my husband became a Christian and began to read the Bible for the first time, he could see the pictures that his teacher had used to illustrate the stories she was telling from the Bible.  Twelve years after that, when we were married and had a baby of our own, he had the opportunity to tell that teacher how she had helped him.  

My husband loved my Granny (Grandaddy died before he could meet him) and has some wonderful, precious memories of her.  However, the most precious treasure she gave him was the gift of her prayers.  

Perhaps you did not come from a heritage of faith.  Perhaps your memories of your parents and grandparents are things you wish you could forget.  That gives you the opportunity to start something new with your own children and grandchildren.  And if you have no children or grandchildren of your own?  The next time you are at church, I challenge you to take note of just one child.  Begin praying for that child.  Even if the child and his/her parents never know what you are doing for him, do it anyway.  Never doubt that God hears your prayers and will use your prayers in your life and the life of this child!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day One

On the First Day of Christmas....


Do you ever sing this song?  My mother-in-law was an Avon lady and each year my stocking was FULL of different Avon Christmas items.  One of my favorites is this set of tin ornaments that depict the Twelve Days of Christmas.  I've always celebrated these Twelve Days of Christmas.  My mother would not even think about taking the Christmas tree down before Twelfth Night.  Our neighbors may have thought we were a bit wacky but being the house with the five wild children that was nothing new! 

We have always continued our Christmas celebration into the New Year.  Twelfth Night occurs on January 6th and that is the traditional date when we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men. In our home, this means that the tree stays up a little longer.  The Wise Men do not get put in the Nativity until January 6th, and we try to keep in mind that the season is not really finished.  Because of the changes in our Christmas celebration this year due to illness, we will be exchanging gifts on Twelfth Night (What can I say; Mom did not have the energy to shop or finish her hand-made stuff!).  I'm going to do something else this year that I have never done before and I don't know if my guys will go along with this or not; it may be better suited to a home with multiple small children.  This year, I'm going to move the Wise Men around the house, hiding them each day until time for them to arrive.  If my men are interested, I'll invite them to take turns hiding them (Marvelous Mark should love that!).  A bit silly, but might be fun.

My other goal for the next twelve days is to continue writing and sharing with you here and to think together about the different gifts we have been given from our Heavenly Father.  So leave a comment if you would like, and share with us what gift you are thankful for each day.  Doesn't have to be anything earth-shaking; it can be a simple or even a silly gift.  But I will start with a serious one:

On the First Day of Christmas, my Father gave to me,
His Only Son who came to set me free.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Twenty-Four Days of Christmas: Day Twenty-Four

Lion of Judah
(with apologies to those who have read this before)
Lion of Judah, Lamb of God,
On this night the Creator of all things,
          seen and unseen,
Humbled Himself to be born,
          in a lowly condition,
And accepted for Himself a limited human body.
He who spoke the universe into existence
          Must learn to talk.
He who taught cheetahs and gazelles to run
          Must learn to walk.
He who fashioned whole galaxies with His hand
          Can barely grasp His mother's finger
          With His weak, tiny, human fist.
And He who abhors even the concept of evil,
          Must become my sin,
                    Suffer my guilt,
                              Bear my punishment
                                        For my redemption.
My praises, my worship, my exultation
          Will transcend even that of angels.
My songs will rise and spread to fill heaven.
          I am no longer captive!
This earth can not hold me, for
          This baby so tender,
                    This man of compassion,
                              My victorious Savior,
                                        My risen Lord,
                                                  Lion of Judah,
                                                            Lamb of God
                         Has made me His very own.

copyright Virginia Akin 2002
May the Lord bless you
And keep you
And give you the strength, courage, and grace
That you need each day
During this Christmas Season
And the coming year 

The Twenty-Four Days of Christmas: Day Twenty-Three


Let's see.  It is two days now until Christmas.  How is that list I am so attached to coming along?
  1.  English muffins for friends and family.  One family got a dozen
  2. Amish Friendship bread finished and delivered to friends and family.  Made.  In the freezer.
  3. Home-made candles made and delivered.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.
  4. Home-made rag wreaths finished and delivered.  Nope.  Not even finished.
  5. Gifts for my sister and niece purchased.  Again, nope.
  6. Gifts for my husband and son under the tree.  Not those, either
  7. Baking finished for my neighbors and delivered.  No.
  8. Baking finished for my guys.  Not.
  9. Everything ready for a big feast for family.  Sigh.  Nope.
  10. House immaculate and decorated.  HA HA HA HA!!!!!
So has Auntie 'Ginia gotten anything done??
  1. The Gospels finished and names of Jesus written and in my cracked pot.  Done.
  2. Time spent thinking about the names as I have found them.  Check.
  3. Time spent listening to some really good Christmas music.  Yup!
  4. Time spent with my sister going to watch a silly Christmas movie.  Done.
  5. Time spent with sweet friends going to the Nutcracker.  Yes!
  6. Opportunities to worship with my Brook Hills family.  Yes!
  7. Semi-disicplined enough to actually finish the task of blogging this month (let's not talk about the procrastination factor, please).  Yes, by God's grace!
  8. Time spent anticipating the return of my Saviour?  Oh yes!
The end of the month has not been what I expected.  I will not be attending the traditional candle-light service at my church tonight with my husband, my son, and my nieces.  Tomorrow will not include a big gift-exchange in our family.  My sister, brother-in-law, and nieces will not be joining us for a traditional Christmas dinner (this will be the first time in a number of years that I won't be fixing my usual standing rib roast and yorkshire pudding).

And it is not only OK, it is fine!  As Marvelous Mark naps on the couch over there by the tree, and Dan snoozes in his room while I type in between yawns, I am so thankful for so much!  We have one another.  We are living in a warm home and have food and water.  We are living in grace and have the gift of salvation, the gift of God's word, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Because of the birth, life, work, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven and we have been given His righteousness.  When God looks at us, He sees His perfect Son, rather than our imperfect selves.  So what else can I say, except.....

Merry Christmas!!

The Twenty-Four Days of Christmas: Day Twenty-Two


The blessing of illness...I can rest this close to Christmas without guilt!  :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Twenty-Four Days of Christmas: Day Twenty-One

Uh-Oh: Full Stop!

Well.  Day Twenty-One has brought an unexpected Christmas Surprise.  
For the past week or so I have had some allergy-type drippy nose.  Last evening, my throat started being a nuisance.  When I looked at it last night, it looked like there could be a little spot of strep.  I mentioned it to Marvelous Mark and we decided that with the holidays coming and everything closing down, I might as well go to the Doc-In-A-Box to get checked out and get some antibiotics if necessary.  So this morning I trundled down to town to the place we go when we need a doctor NOW.  

I saw the nurse practitioner and we had a nice visit.  She agreed that my throat looked a little strep-y and did a swab and a blood test.  The swab came back negative, but the white count came back elevated.  Since my normal white count is lower than average, that was fairly significant.  They decided to culture the swab for 24-48 hours and see what grew out but in the meantime go ahead and give me an antibiotic that would cover anything.  Great.  Start antibiotics, that will cover whatever, I will feel fine in a day or so, and Christmas as usual, right?  Not so fast.
I have been exposed to mono.  So I asked them to go ahead and run a mono test.  Having mono will not change how I treat this, but it would be good to know whether or not it is safe to have the extended family to our home for lunch on Sunday.  Who wants to go have dinner in a home where the cook has mono, right?

Guess what?  Yup.  Auntie 'Ginia has mono.  HUGE sigh.  Remember all that time I have had lately lovin' on my great-nieces and nephews?  Mm-hmm.  Now I have exposed them to this nastiness.  HUGE sigh.  No more time lovin' on them while they are back here; it will just have to wait until they come back for another visit or I save up my pennies and travel to Utah.  No big Christmas dinner with my sweet sister and her family.  In fact, as I look down the road of the next couple of months or so, I am thinking that my plans to swim at the Y will have to be put on hold for at least a few months.  Honestly, would you want to swim in a pool if you knew someone had been there before you who had mono??

So it's time to really think about applying all the things I have been telling you over the past Twenty-One days of getting ready for Christmas.  Do I really understand in my heart what Christmas is all about?  Or am I getting side-tracked by the cultural trappings?  As I put myself under quarantine for the next little while, and realize that I can not push myself but have to get more rest, will we be able to celebrate Christmas as a family without all the "stuff"?  Did I mean it when I said that this is a season of celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour and His imminent return?  Or is the fact that I can not finish the big house work, cook a lot of stuff, do a little more shopping for my boys, and generally play Santa going to spoil our time?

As I sat in the car a little while ago processing all of this, I knew that this was where it was going to come down to practicing what I have been preaching here.  I have to make a choice now.  Yesterday I had an unexpected visit with a nun at Walmart.  I asked her how I might pray for her and we had a nice conversation about her Christmas plans and wishes with her sisters at the convent.  Then she asked how she might pray for me.  I asked her to please pray that I could keep my focus on Jesus and not get distracted by peripheral nonsense.  Later in the day my oldest brother dropped by for a visit (that is always a special treat!).  Again, we talked about how we could pray for each other over the next week and again, I asked that he pray that I would keep my focus on Jesus and not be distracted by the peripheral "stuff".  God is answering my prayer.  May my eyes be so filled with His presence, His glory and His joy that the other stuff fades away into meaningless background!

And please pray that my babies do not get sick!

The Twenty-Four Days of Christmas: Day Twenty

A Little Shopping, A Little Family

Day Twenty brought a shopping expedition to finish that up and some time with family.  Spending time with extended family is one of the greatest gifts that I receive each year.  I am one of five children, so now that we are all married I have four brothers and four sisters.  I have eight nephews (including the two who were brave enough to marry into the family), and ten nieces (once again, including the two who were brave).  In addition, I have three great-nieces and two great-nephews (and boy, are they ever GREAT!).  This week, our nephew and niece and their four children from Utah are in town to visit their parents and all the rest of us.  They are traveling back and forth between the two sets of grandparents which means that they are having Christmas almost every day!  My oldest great-niece was given a lovely tea-party game from her Nana and Grandaddy, so we sat down and played tea-party together a few times.  Lots of hugs, lots of lovin', lots of silliness, and LOTS of fun.


Merry Christmas!!