Where Did the Time Go??!!!

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I was growing up, there was one statement I disliked more than any others! Can you guess what that statement was? “Where did the time go??!!”

For me time did not go by that fast! School never seemed to end, and summer break was never long enough. The joy and celebration of Christmas and New Year’s never lasted long enough. The year I got my driver’s license did not come fast enough; the year I graduated from high school did not come fast enough; the year I got married did not come fast enough! What did my grandparents and parents mean – time goes by fast – no it didn’t.

This year I was sitting with children and grandchildren around a beautiful Christmas tress. Everyone was having a great time opening presents and checking out what others got. Turkey and ham were cooking in the kitchen. The sun was shining and the temperature was 75 degrees. Who could ask for anything more??!!

I sat marveling at my grandchildren. Young, beautiful and handsome, of course. Happy, poking fun at each other. And then it happened: out of my mouth came, “Where did the time go?” My son was an adult, married and has a son of his own. My daughter-in-law had remarried (our son died in 2006) and now was a mother of 5. So many changes, and yet, it seemed just like yesterday that my sons were  young children tearing off Christmas paper from gifts under the tree. “Where did the time go?”

Today is New Year’s eve — Wow, 2016 is only a few hours away. Can time really go by fast? Yes, it can. So instead of looking at the passage of time slipping by, this is a great time to look at all that has been accomplished in our world and country and families — all the marvels of medicine and research, all the books that have been written and read, all the hours spent with family; all the blessings that have come our way over the years.

Take this New Year’s eve and savor all the joys and life going on around you. Look back at the growth and change that took place when we were not aware. Then look ahead into the new year with great expectations of what treasures will come before us.

Happy New Year to friends and family.

Today do something that will challenge you!!!

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Words from the Greatest Book of All TIME

Philippians 2: 3-6 

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ …”

As I have stated in past posts, I reread books and stories many times. Sometimes these books and stories I read each year. For instances: Corrie ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place” or Charles Sheldon’s “In His Steps.” But there is one story that I do not read silently to myself. I have shared this story over and over throughout the years with my children, my grandchildren, and every Sunday School class I have taught over the past 49 years. Today I am going to share this story with you. So get comfortable and know that this story is for you whether you have heard it before or not at all.

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin bethrothed (engaged) to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice highly favored one, you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 

Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’

Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’

And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.

Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maid-servant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her … (Luke 1:26-38)

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place when Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethleham and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 

Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. The the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them (Luke 2: 1-20; New King James Version).

There is another version of the Christmas story in the Gospel of Matthew that gives more details. But for some reason the Gospel of Luke’s story has always been my favorite. Another year has come and gone, and yet the King of Kings and Lord of Lords returns to us as a baby in a manger – pure and whole and sinless. He still calls us to follow even at the moment of birth; and many do!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May God bring you comfort and peace during this celebration of the birth of our Savior and Master.

Today do something that challenges you!

 

“A Quilt for Christmas” by Sandra Dallas

Thoughts on Books by Thomas Jefferson

“I cannot live without books.” — Thomas Jefferson (Amen to that, Mr. Jefferson!)

“A Quilt for Christmas” by Sandra Dallas

(Published by St. Martin’s Press, copyright 2014, 260 pages, cover design by Kathryn Parise)

“It was a fine fall evening. The wind carried the smell of rotting apples and wood smoke and a hint of frost that would likely come after midnight. The setting sun made the stubble in the fields shimmer like flakes of mica and sent rays of light through the clouds as if the Almighty Himself were casting down the fiery shafts. Far off were the night sounds of cattle lowing, and nearer, of chickens clucking. The wind swirled paper dead leaves across the porch,” (page 1). And so, the story of Eliza Spooner’s life in 1864 begins.

“A Quilt for Christmas” is a wonderfully told story by Sandra Dallas. The book is an easy read but shows the reader a glimpse of the Civil War through the eyes of a woman left behind when her husband joins the Kansas Volunteers to fight with the north. She is left with children to care for, a farm to run, and land to cultivate. 

 After long days working the homestead, Eliza Spooner returns to a quiet house, prepares dinner for her children and herself. There is not much food to be had, but enough to get by until her husband Will returns home. In the meantime, each day is showing an edge of winter that will soon overtake the land. Plowing and harvesting crops will go silently into another season lying dormant under the new snow.

Once the children are in bed, Eliza works on a special gift for her husband — a Christmas quilt. “She had never given Will a Christmas present, and the idea of a special gift to her husband-soldier delighted Eliza. A quilt made with loving hands, a quilt that would warm Will against the winter cold, a quilt for Christmas” (page 7).

Of course, there is much more to “A Quilt for Christmas” — a runaway slave is brought to Eliza’s home, the death of some of her friends husbands, the loneliness of living on the prairie, the story of a brutal war, and much more. 

I really enjoyed reading “A Quilt for Christmas” by Sandra Dallas. This book is a keeper and worth reading again next Christmas.

LFREETOBLOG 2016  READING CHALLENGE

If you are looking for a new reading challenge for 2016, read my blog from last week. When you read the blog you will notice there are really two challenges in one: (1) 2016 is a NO BUYING BOOKS YEAR (of course, you can buy for others — reading them before you give them away is not fair and won’t count — LOL), and (2) read from your own stash, go to the public library, or borrow a book from a friend or family member.

We all have a ton of books stacked up somewhere in our house that have not been read!! And when was the last time you went to the public library — Support Your Local Public Library!

I have cut the regular yearly reading challenges down from 52 books to 25 books in 2016. Maybe this will be less daunting — unless you are a person who reads a book a week. Use this reading challenge however it fits our lifestyle; then take a couple of minutes and share with us what you are reading. Happy 2016!!!!

LFREETOBLOG 2016 READING CHALLENGE

!Malcolm X On Reading

“My alma mater was books, a good library … I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”  Malcolm X

LFREETOBLOG 2016 READING CHALLENGE

Last month I promised to put out my very own 2016 Reading Challenge, and here it is!

During 2015 I posted a Reading Challenge from goodreads.com. I really liked the challenge and the opportunity to read some books I would not have read otherwise. I think that is the reason for Reading Challenges. We get set in our own ways and read the same authors over and over; the Reading Challenge helps us to break our comfortable “rut” and moves us on to new adventures. 

The 2015 Reading Challenge was great! Like I said, it challenged me to reading beyond my “comfort rut.” For instance: I would never have read “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars” by Max Brooks (a book with nonhuman characters), “Here I Stand” by Bishop John Shelby Spong (a Memoir), and “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White (a children’s book). 

But I found the 2015 Reading Challenge (By the way, this was not the only 2015 Reading Challenge. There were quite a few, but the one from goodreads.com was the one I chose.) was too daunting. Fifty-three books to read throughout the year was more than I could handle — I really do have a life beyond books — really I do!! For 2016 I decided it would be fun to have my very own Reading Challenge.

Here are the rules: (1) this is going to be a NO BUY BOOKS YEAR!! My heart is pounding; I am beginning to sweat; I AM A BIG BOOK CONSUMER!! I hope my husband does not read this post!!!!!!!!

Yes, the NUMBER ONE challenge is to NOT BUY ANY BOOKS in 2016.

(2) 2016  is the year you are to read from the public library or from your own bookshelves. Yes, 2016 is the year to read from your pile of books: books stacked beside your bed and your favorite chair; books that are piled high and jammd in your bookcases; books that are hidden in closets, under the bed, in drawers, and any other place that you might have stashed them.

(3) You can raid any friend’s or family member’s bookshelves. Invite them to come along on the LFREETOBLOG 2016 Reading Challenge.

Finally rule (#4): When you finish a book that you know you will not reread, give it away. Here are some great suggestions where your books can go: give it to family or friends and tell them you do not want it back; give it to the public library (Most libraries have a book sale once or twice a year selling the books the community brings to them. This is one way to support your local library.); give the book to a school (if the book is appropriate for children or teens.); don’t forget nursing homes, assisted living facilities, even to a recycle bookstore. Someone else will want to read the book you just finished.

LFREETOBLOG 2016 READING CHALLENGE

1.      Read a book you got from the library.

2.      Read a book that a friend or family member let you borrow. (Don’t forget to give it back.)

3.      Reread a book you enjoyed the first or tenth time around.

4.      Read a book of poetry. (Don’t have one? Go to the public library.)

5.      Read a book that is sitting, laying, jammed into your bookcase.

6.      Read a biography.

7.      Read a children’s storybook (You can read this out loud to your children or grandchildren.)

8.      Read a Classic book.

9.      Read about a craft or hobby you love to do. (This book could be on quilting, sewing, gardening,                                    woodworking, car renovations, house renovations, etc.)

10.    Read a book by your favorite author.

11.    Read a book of the Bible (Old or New Testament or both).

12.    Read a series you have wanted to read (Remember the public library).

13.    Read a book that challenges and stretches your current opinions.

14.    Read a fiction or non-fiction written by a Christian author.

15.    Read a mystery or thriller.

16.    Read a book that is over 400 pages.

17.    Read a book based on a true story.

18.    Read a book that is at the top of your Reading List.

19.    Read a Classic Novella (Remember the public library).

20.    Read a short story collection.

21.    Read a cookbook — yes, a cookbook. Then make a new recipe for yourself or someone else.

22.    Read a book by an author you have not read before.

23.    Read a war story (If you don’t have one, go to the public library.)

24.    Read a Christmas story.

25.    In December buy a book for someone else. OK, you can buy one for yourself.

There it is: 25 books, 2 books a month. As you read through 2016 share your books with us. We would love to see what interests you. Come join me and make space for some new books in 2017. (Laugh out loud!!)

Today do something that will challenge you!

“In His Steps” by Charles M. Sheldon

Oscar Wilde on Reading 

 “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”

“In His Steps” by Charles M. Sheldon

(Published by Spire a division of Baker Book House Company, Copyright 1896, renewed in 1984, 242 pages)

Several years ago a friend recommended the book“In His Steps”  by Charles M. Sheldon.  “In His Steps” is one of those books that Oscar Wilde would like, because you can enjoy reading it over and over. Since this book was recommended to me, I have read it every year. I know the story and its characters. I know the sacrifices the people who committed to ask the question “What would Jesus do?” before they make any decisions.  “In His Steps” is definitely a great reread!

Charles Sheldon was pastor of the Central Congregational Church in Topeka, Kansas in 1895, when he decided that he would preach a series of sermons on the question, “What would Jesus do?” Rev. Sheldon would talk about how people from different backgrounds and vocation might respond to that question. As Rev. Sheldon preached this series at Sunday evening services, more and more people began to attend the service.

The publisher of The Advance, a Chicago newspaper, heard about the interest and success of these sermons and decided to run the series in the newspaper. With increased readership, the editor offered the series to three other newspapers, but they refused to run it. In 1896 The Advance published “In His Steps” as a “ten-cent paperback edition.” Today “In His Steps” has sold over 30,000,000 copies. This book, today, is one of the best-selling books of all times.

“In His Steps” begins with the Rev. Henry Maxwell in his home office writing his sermon for Sunday’s worship when there is a knock on the door. Rev. Maxwell opens the door, and he is face-to-face with a “shabby-looking man” who says, “I am out of a job, sir, and thought maybe you might give me a lead toward something.” 

“‘I don’t know of anything. Jobs are scarce,’ replied the minister, beginning to shut the door slowly.” From that moment on, Rev. Maxwell is haunted by the shabby-looking man. When worship begins the lives of Rev. Maxwell and several members of his congregation are changed forever.

The book has its share of critics as well. Stephen Escalera (book review for Goodreads on 12-21-2010) sees a small population enjoying the majority of the nation’s wealth. He does not believe the story shows the characters making decisions based on Biblical scripture, but their own “personal interpretation.” I have to disagree with Mr. Escalera’s logic.

Granted, there is very little scripture quoted in the book. However, Mr. Escalera seems to not recogize that the environment the group lives in is Christian. The characters spend a large part of their time in prayer, searching scripture, communicating with and supporting one another. I don’t think today is a lot different from the late 1800’s. We still have a “small population enjoying the majority of the nation’s wealth.” Life is difficult today for poor families and jobs are scarce in parts of our nation just like in 1895. However, there continues to be Christians who push themselves beyond their comfort zones to follow Christ. So we can also ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?” when we have a decision to make.

And Jesus says, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. for whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35).

God bless you all during this great season of love and compassion!