Silent Night

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It’s Christmas and my cups are out! Can’t help but smile when you sip hot coffee from a cheerful Christmas mug. This year as part of my own devotion I plan to read a Christmas carol each day. The words are so rich, and I don’t want to miss the message behind the words. Often they were composed with a specific purpose, other times written from a moving experience of the heart, but they always tell the story of salvation in the language of music. Who doesn’t get teary eyes watching little boys in bath robes and sweet little girls with crooked halos singing “Away in a Manger.”

Today the song on my heart is Silent Night. Most of us know the story of the broken organ in a small Austrian village. Joseph Mohr, the priest, had just watched a troupe of traveling actors present the nativity play and his heart was deeply moved. Rather than going home he walked in hushed silence to a hill overlooking the little village. His heart swelled as he reflected on the birth of the Messiah in the stillness of the snowy evening. “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” Could he visualize the events that quietly took place so long ago in another small villiage in Israel? In Bethlehem? “Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild.”

Suddenly that tranquil night was filled with light and angels! “Shepherds quake at the sight!”

The next day he shared this moment and poem with his friend and fellow priest, Franz Gruber. Franz composed a simple melody on the guitar and Silent Night was sung in the tiny little villiage of Oberndorf, Austria, at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Silent Night

By Joseph Mohr & Franz Gruber

Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

 

Silent night, holy night, Wondrous Star lend thy light;
With the Angels let us sing Alleluia to our King.
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

The first verse ends with “sleep in heavenly peace.” I hope today you will sing all of the verses to this beautiful carol and may you also sleep in heavenly peace, because he came.

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“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NKJV)

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Sunday’s Comin!

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Today has been one of those days where everything seemed a little hopeless, a little dark. Outside my window I could see that winter still had it’s grip on the earth. No leaves on the trees, no flowers blooming, neither snow nor ice on the ground either. Just another day of nothing in particular.

Ever had those days? “What are you expecting today?” “Oh, nothing in particular.” And that is what you get: Nothing in particular.

I did the usual things to wake my spirit up to His goodness and love, but….by afternoon I was still not feeling it. No spark of joy when I read my devotion; no revelation as I read the Word. So I just did the usual things you do. I was tired, and wanted to take a nap.

Finally, I walked out into my yard. It was a delightful day outside and I decided to go for a long over due walk around my neighborhood. Rather than call one of my children and talk as I walked, I listened to music. One of my fav is Gungor’s “The Earth is Yours.”

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The upbeat sounds began to sink in my soul and my step picked up a little bit. I found myself smiling and singing along. Then I began to see. The sun was going down and the beautiful pinks and purples and oranges were filling the skies through the stark branches of the trees. The yellow bells were beginning to pop out of bare stems that just last week had no life at all. Sort of like from my lifeless heart a little flicker of unexpected joy began to rise. Not so much, mind you, but a tiny spark slipped out!

One neighbor had put in some new landscaping that looked so nice and manicured. I liked that. New neighbors? When did they move in with their cute little purple playhouse and the trampoline in the back? I watched as the youngster did a flip and throw her hands up in victory. I shared her imagined moment of triumph as she received a ‘10’ for the Olympic gold! Was that a surge of joy I felt? Oh Yeah! Now I’m feeling it!

Suddenly I began to see the signs everywhere: The tender little lily pushing up the hard soil; The green buds getting ready to burst open on the Japanese magnolia and the buttercups. The hope that comes as signs of spring begin to emerge from the dormancy of winter was slowly awakening from the hidden places in my soul.

It was then that the Holy Spirit whispered quietly, “It seems like Friday night, But Sunday’s comin!” The Friday night after the Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross seemed very dreary, hopeless and dark. Jesus’ followers went into hiding as fear rose in their hearts. The one they had looked to for deliverance was now dead and buried in the grave. Oh yes, my friend, that was a dark Friday night. They just didn’t know that Sunday was coming!

I didn’t get the winter snow that I love so much. There are still no leaves on the trees, the days are short and my flip flops are tucked away in the deep recesses of my closet. My day started off a little dark and dreary too. But just as these little signs speak of the hope of spring, my heart shouts “It may feel like Friday night, But Sunday’s Comin!”

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His world is a beautiful place full of hope, joy and beauty, even in the winter. And even in the winter season of your life. But don’t despair,

Sunday’s comin!

and so is the spring.

THE EARTH IS YOURS!

by Gungor

Winter, Where Did You Go?

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Love winter

I love the cool, crisp air of winter! I love sitting by my fireplace, drinking coffee and just ‘Being.’ I love to watch breath freeze as others are talking and laughing and perhaps even building a snowman, although snowmen are rare in North Mississippi.

Basically I enjoy all of the seasons! but winter is my fav. Two weeks ago we had snow, ice and temperatures in the teens. Then POW! it turned to spring. after only one week of winter. Today the temperature climbed to 73 degrees, with a promise of the same tomorrow.

The scripture ‘be ready in all seasons’ takes on a whole new meaning. Get out your coat and gloves. Nope! Find those tee shirts I had already put away. This morning I felt a little grumbly because I wanted it to be cold weather. It is January, for heaven’s sake! I felt the quiet nudging of the Holy Spirit to shift my attitude to gratitude. Be thankful, even when the winter doesn’t feel like winter. Be thankful for the small window of cold and snow a couple of weeks ago.

Looking back over the seasons of my life, I find that many of the seasons I enjoyed so much were over way too short also. One minute I was getting a grip on being the mom of toddlers, and Boom! They were teens. I blinked and we were planning weddings and having grand babies. Just like our short week of winter, I miss those short seasons too. But rather than complain, I am grateful that I did have those seasons, as short as they seemed.

Today, I will remember the good seasons of my life and be grateful for the sweet memories. And I will choose to be grateful for 73 degree weather in January, smile and remember that we DID have at least one week of winter!

Soon it will be Spring. Then Summer. Then Autumn. AND THEN it will be winter again!

Actually I love all the beautiful Seasons!

A Little Texas Boot

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“It’s just a little Texas boot Christmas ornament.” Tom said as he placed it in my hands at the Fort Worth Cattle Stockyard.

img_1392-1We were visiting our friends in Arlington, Texas, and they wanted us to see ‘the real Texas’ just like in the olden days. A cattle drive at the FW Stockyard.

The smells, the sounds took me back to a time in my childhood and I remembered my daddy’s beautiful red cows with snowy white faces. It was a big day in the tiny village of Walthall when he moved the cows from one pasture to another. Anyone who could ride a horse joined in the fun.

But the best day of all was the Cattle Sale. Daddy would round up the calves to take them to theimg_1411 sale, and many times my older sister, Chalie, got to go with Daddy. She came back talking about the auctioneer and how he rattled off words so fast it sounded like a he was yodeling. She ate hot dogs and drank Coca-Colas for lunch. Oh, My! It sounded like a grand day. I was assured that one day I’d be old enough to go to the sale too.

That day finally arrived. All week, Daddy had said I could go with him. My excitement soared as I tried to decide how many hot dogs I could eat, and for sure at least two Coca-Colas.

Early that morning I could hear the heifers lowing as Daddy loaded the calves into the trailer. My day had arrived. I ran out to be sure he didn’t forget me, but Mama stopped me at the door. She told me that one of Daddy’s friends showed up and wanted to load a couple of his own calves with Daddy’s and there would not be enough room for me in the truck. I must stay home this time.

Crushed. Disappointed. Shattered. Those words hardly scratch the surface of my wounded heart. I ran to my room, crawled under a table and cried and cried and cried. Mama was so sweet to me that day, knowing how disappointed I was. When Daddy came home he brought me a present, but somehow it just didn’t make a difference any more. I had missed the big event. And life moved on.

I don’t remember dwelling on it, but for years I noticed a huge fear of disappointment. It seemed that the pain of disappointment for me was a little out of proportion. At a restaurant, if my order was incorrect I would be so upset I could hardly eat. Or if someone didn’t fulfill a promise, I was deeply wounded. Rationally I knew this was ridiculous and I was always asking myself, “What is wrong with me?”

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And then Tom Schleuter placed a little Texas boot in my hand. Suddenly tears came to my eyes and I could hardly talk as I felt the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit. This little boot was a gift from my Heavenly Father.

I heard that gentle voice speaking tenderly to my heart. “Your Daddy didn’t realize how disappointed you were that day. He had a job to do, herding cows to the sale, and he did it. But I saw every tear under that table. I saw and I grieved for you.”

“I am a good Father, Ruthie.” He continued. “I have brought you to the most famous sale of all: The Fort Worth, Texas Cattle Stockyard! It doesn’t get much better than this one. Spend this delightful day with me watching the people have a good time; listen to the music of guitars; see the sidewalk bronze stars like Wild Bill Hickok; breathe in the smell of the cows and horses. This is our day together at the Sale. Enjoy this day to the max! Release the pain of that little girl crying under the table. I’ve waited a long time to bring you to the best cattle sale of all.”

After that trip to Texas, I took a morning alone time with my Father. Oh what a delightful  time remembering every step of that day at the Stockyard. I laughed, I cried, I praised and I worshiped as I held that little boot. I realized once again how specific our heavenly Father is and how extravagantly he loves us. There is never one tear wasted, nor hurt so small that he does not notice. I had actually forgotten that day under the table, but my Father had not. When Tom placed that little boot in my hand it all came rushing back, every detail so vivid, but no disappointment. What joy to see how my Father remembered all the details and met every expectation of my heart.

Since that time I realize that when I am disappointed, it just doesn’t hurt quite so deeply.

After all, my Dad took me to the Cattle Sale at the Fort Worth Texas Stockyard and healed my heart.

And I have the boot to prove it!

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Thanks, Tom.

 

Would Jesus know the score of the Texas/Notre Dame Game? Recreation creates Community

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David Hartwig Photo

 This morning as I listened in on a conversation between my husband and his friend Roger, their joy and laughter peaked my interest. Were they talking about a church service? A great move of God? Both love with Lord with all their hearts, what were they enjoying so much in their conversation? They were rehashing the Texas/Notre Dame game from last night. “Mmmm, not so spiritual,” I thought. But maybe I was wrong.

Would Jesus know the score of the Texas/Notre Dame football game? In the reality of the Kingdom of God, this is probably not even on the list, but the joy, camaraderie and fellowship around a football game? Maybe so.

Recreation creates community-it’s a God thing.

Recreation means, “Activities done for enjoyment, when not working.” My friend, Julian Goddard, an awesome man of God, studied Recreation at ORU. He explained it this way: “We were created spirit, soul and body. When we break down the word recreation, we get Re (to renew) and Creation (our physical body and soul). Recreation is a spiritual component of the whole man.”

Recreation is close to God’s heart. He and Adam enjoyed one another’s company as they walk in the garden. Perhaps they investigated the new bean crop, checked on how the pecan trees were producing, laughed and raced to the barn to see the new colt with wobbly legs. Recreation and communion at it’s finest. Adam had worked all week tending the garden. On Sabbath, he and God strolled, chatted and enjoyed the Creation together. This refreshed Adam’s spirit for the coming week, rested his body, renewed his mind and also enhanced the relationship between the Father and Adam, building the first community.

Recreation creating community-it’s a God thing.

Jesus fished, laughed and enjoyed recreation so that he could connect on a different level with his friends. Recreation creating community.

For me, there is nothing more invigorating than a brisk walk on a cool crisp autumn morning. It clears the cobwebs from my mind so that I can hear a fresh word in my spirit or not. It allows me to just ‘be.’ But it’s always better when I walk with neighbors, chatting about recipes, children and the beauty of Fall. Recreation creating community.

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Ronald Saunders

I love the exhilaration of accomplishment that comes from a good work out-that is, when I do it. But it is much easier when someone else is there to spur me on. Watching a great football game with friends or any time spent with my grandchildren as they swim, play soccer or baseball is recreation. Cookouts, luncheons, football tailgates. I have a long list of fun things I enjoy. Most involve food, but that is for another day. Recreation creating community.

What do you do for fun? What makes you laugh? What refreshes you and connects you to others in the joy of community? What refreshes your soul, re-creates you?

Enjoy recreation with a friend today. Laugh together because laughter is like a good medicine. High five when your team scores. Go for a walk or run with a neighbor. Pull away from the busyness of life, clear the cobwebs and have some fun. Be RE-CREATED with the Joy of the Lord in community.

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Recreation creates community-it’s a God thing.

 

 

 

Bayou Bible School, Little Milly and the Snake!

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Mildred Bean, an amazing Bible teacher and dear friend grew up in the Bayou Country of Louisiana. Recently she called and, tongue in cheek, told me she was developing some new teachings called Bayou Bible School, because she realized that some of her foundational lessons of life came from the Bayous of Louisiana. I have asked her if I could blog some of her tales. I think you will enjoy hearing the story of little Mildred and the snake!

“About one third of Jesus’ teaching was in parables, brief stories from everyday life told by way of analogy to illustrate spiritual truths”. (New Spirit Filled Life Bible)

Bayou Bible School Lesson 1

“Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.”Psalm 85: 13 (NKJ)

I began to go hunting at an early age (6-7 years of old) with my dad. Today I realize that it was not because I liked to hunt – I had no clue at that age- but is was because I wanted to spend time with my dad and I liked what he liked.

05-bayou-pop-top-ladyThe woods in central Louisiana bayou country are very dense with trees, briers, thorn bushes, palmetto (thick fanned shape plants), with scattered boggy water holes during the rainy fall and winter months.

I remember that my dad made certain I dressed properly for the hunt, not so much for me to be camouflaged, but for my protection as I followed him through those thick, brushy woods. Thicker pants and a long sleeve shirt or hunting jacket was my attire. When the briers would try to tear at me, I was protected. And of course I needed good boots, not only to keep my feet dry through the muddy water holes, but also and more importantly, for protection against snakes.

11041145_10205882926688196_1187870115772654674_nMy dad loved to tell stories of my first few hunting adventures with him. On these grand exploits he would walk directly in front of me to forge the path through the thick undergrowth, protecting me from the briers or Palmetto branches that would want to flip back into my face. Being taller, he could see where we were going and where to step carefully. I knew it was very important for me to step where he stepped. On one particular adventure a snake suddenly appeared on our path and my dad stopped dead still. Fear gripped me and I began to run, back through the woods, away from my dad and this deadly snake! After a brief run through the thick brush I finally heard my dad’s voice shouting at me to stop. And I did. My Dad would laugh and enjoyed telling the fact that, first of all this was not a poisonous snake but a blue runner, and that I was running side by side with the snake. He couldn’t decided who was more afraid, the snake or little Mildred!

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The Holy Spirit began to speak to me through the remembrance of this tale. “In this season, you will be walking through some ‘dense places’. Your Abba Father has made sure you are clothed correctly for this journey. It is important to walk directly behind your Father, stepping in His footsteps. He knows where He is going and can see when you can’t. He will forge the path ahead of you so don’t let sudden fear lay hold of your heart and change your path. Don’t run with ‘fear’ or with snakes, for that matter! Walk in faith and trust! Stay next to your Father, listen to His voice, and obey Him.”

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP  

No One Else like you-You are Unique!

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DNA STRANDS    –      www.Scitechdaily.com

A friend, Donald Jones, sent this to me yesterday. It was so encouraging I just had to share it here. Hope this blesses you as it did me.

You are unique!

Think what a remarkable, unduplicatable, and miraculous thing it is to be you! Of all the people who have come and gone on the earth, since the beginning of time, not ONE of them is like YOU!

No one who has ever lived or is to come has had your combination of abilities, talents, appearance, friends, acquaintances, burdens, sorrows and opportunities.

No one’s hair grows exactly the way yours does. No one’s finger prints are like yours. No one has the same combination of secret inside jokes and family expressions that you know.

The few people who laugh at all the same things you do, don’t sneeze the way you do. No one prays about exactly the same concerns as you do. No one is loved by the same combination of people that love you – NO ONE!

No one before, no one to come. YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE!

Enjoy that uniqueness. You do not have to pretend in order to seem more like someone else. You weren’t meant to be like someone else. You do not have to lie to conceal the parts of you that are not like what you see in anyone else.

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You were meant to be different. Nowhere ever in all of history will the same things be going on in anyone’s mind, soul and spirit as are going on in yours right now.

If you did not exist, there would be a hole in creation, a gap in history, something missing from the plan for humankind.

Treasure your uniqueness. It is a gift given only to you. Enjoy it and share it!

No one can reach out to others in the same way that you can. No one can speak your words. No one can convey your meanings. No one can comfort with your kind of comfort. No one can bring your kind of understanding to another person.

No one can be cheerful and lighthearted and joyous in your way. No one can smile your smile. No one else can bring the whole unique impact of you to another human being.

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Share your uniqueness. Let it be free to flow out among your family and friends and people you meet in the rush and clutter of living wherever you are. That gift of yourself was given you to enjoy and share. Give yourself away!

See it! Receive it! Let it tickle you! Let it inform you and nudge you and inspire you! YOU ARE UNIQUE!

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Author Unknown

The Author is Unknown but the CREATOR is Not! He is your Father God and He loves you just the way you are.

After all, You were His BEST IDEA!