Saturday, December 24, 2011

O, What an Amazingly, Holy Night!

Every Christmas I hear the old carols and am in awe of what Jesus has done for us. This song, 'O Holy Night' is...I have no words...awesome?! It was composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 and I think it is my absolute favorite carol...well, the hallelujah chorus is up there too!!!

O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth--------I love it!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining-----so sad...
Till he appeared-----------------------it's like --drum roll please...
And the soul felt it's worth-------------we realize we need Him
The thrill of hope------------------the hope is swelling inside of us!
The weary world rejoices----------------hallelujah!!!
For yonder brinks a new and glorious morn--it's a new day!
Fall on your knees------there is nothing else to do, but to bow before our King
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night, o night divine

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. ---can you imagine!? I wouldn't have been standing!
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wise men from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;---this gets me every time...
In all our trials born to be our friends. ---God of the universe wants to be our friend!
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger, --He knows our weaknesses, or needs-He loves us!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! ---it says it all...
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another, ---Love- the fulfillment of the law.
His law is love and His gospel is peace. ---His commandment is to love-
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.--He came to free us-and become sin itself for us.
And in his name all oppression shall cease. ---Only He has the power to break the enemy's hold
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, ---Praise Him!
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

May we live each day remembering all that Jesus has done for us- He left heaven, was born as a baby in a stable, lived among us, chose to die for us, set us free from sin and sickness, and offers us eternal life with Him!!!

                                     Happy Birthday Jesus!!!

Merry Christmas and may God bless us all everyone!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is it a Wonderful Life?

I just finished watching the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." (If you haven't ever seen it i highly recommend it. If you haven't seen it in a long time-revisit it).  It is a movie that always makes me cry-in a good way. Cry because God answered George's prayer waaaay above what he ever thought or dreamed of.  It's a movie that proves that our God is generous. It's a movie that proves that God has a plan for each person's life. It proves that God uses all things for His glory. It proves that God is aware of the things that matters to us. It proves that God does not abandon His people. It proves that God's plan is a good one-even if we can't see it.

So the basic premise of the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life," is that the character George Bailey wants to leave his home town, travel, go to college, be an architect, become a millionaire and do great things for the world-even possibly become famous, but none of his dreams for his own life come true. He grows weary, working hard and not accomplishing the things he deems important for his life. Then his Uncle Billy does the unimaginable--he looses $8,000!

George states to Uncle Billy, "One of is going to jail! Well ain't gonna be me!!"
George is terrified of the future. He's discouraged over his past. Life is no longer worth living. Then he prays a simple prayer,
"Dear Father in heaven i'm not much of a praying man,
but if you're up there and you can hear me show me the way.
 i'm at the end of my rope. show me the way."

A simple prayer-that some might even say - a prayer without faith-but God answered him.
Part of his prayer is answered when he meets his guardian angel-Clarence.

Clarence gives George the chance to see what life would have been like if he had never been born. Absolutely incredible! Can you imagine being able to see this life if you had never been born?

When George sees how badly the people in his life turned out without him Clarence says:

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives.
 When he isn't around he leaves an awful whole doesn't he?"

 He also says:
You see george, you really had a wonderful life.
 Don't you see what a mistake it would be
 to throw it all away?

When george realizes this for himself, he prays again:

"Clarence-help me, get me back, i don't care what happens to me,
please, I want to live again.
please God let me live again."

George goes back to his life and everything is exactly as he left it: He'll still be arrested for loosing $8,000, he's poor, he has no college degree, he's not an architect and he's still in the very town that he always dreamed of leaving- BUT he's happy. He sees how wonderful God had blessed his life with a wife and children. He sees how God worked through him to touch so many lives and how the whole town stayed pure because he was able to fight the town's nemesis-Mr. Potter. He sees how God used him to do great things.

I love how in the beginning of the movie he says: "One of is going to jail, but ain't gonna be me!! But by the end he's found to say: "Isn't it wonderful? I'm going to jail! different perspective-only God can do that!

One of my favorite quotes of the movie that always makes me cry is:

 "It's a cable from London-
" Mr. Gower wired you need cash. stop.
 My office  instructed to advance you up to $25,000
- hee-haw and Merry Christmas. Sam Wainwright. 

God is never late. God is never worried. God always has a plan. God never abandons.

So, why have I told you about a movie that you already know so much about? Well, my husband was trying to explain part of what motivates me to do the things I do or the passion behind the things I do them to a dear friend. He said of me;  "Ellen wants her life to count for something. After all she’s been through, she believes God rescued her for a reason. Her heart is that of the person who has been forgiven much – she loves much, and wants to love God with all her heart by loving His people with all her heart." So, I guess I'm a 'George Bailey' of sorts. I want my life to count for something. I really do believe that that statement, "wanting my life to count for something" was at the heart of George Bailey desires. Not wanting to do the daily grind without a purpose-without a heavenly goal.

I, personally, want to give back to others what God has so freely given to me. I want to share the hope I have, the love I have, the freedom I have experienced with others because without the touch of God in my life I would have none of it.

Like George Bailey, I still have dreams. I still have hopes of being used by God. I have something in me that wants to do something big. I have no idea what that might be, but I know that I'm not done yet. Don't know if I've even really started- I'm still looking, but for right now, I know I'm right where God wants me and my heart is full. And because of that- I can say confidently, 'It's a Wonderful Life!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's Happening...It's Really Happening.

After posting this picture I sat looking at it and just loved it.
 It really made me smile.

As I stared at them I saw myself in the one on the left
and my sweet daughter on the right.
My snowman has lost its glitter, most of it's felt buttons
and it's simply worn.
My daughter's snowman was made with materials that will last
and it's pretty.
 They are clearly not the same.  

And I will say, as worn out as I am, as much as trouble or heartbreak has broken off little pieces of me.
As much as the enemy has wanted to destroy my very life-
I am still standing! I am still here! I am still serving. I am still hoping to be made new some day.
I am still watching the Creator of me -change me, form me, recreate me and make me into that new creation.

(i know when He sees me He sees the "new creation," but when someone 'pushes' one of my insecure buttons i don't feel very "new creation.")

I am looking forward to the day when I will look less worn out-less weathered in spirit, and more free, more joyous, more wise. I look forward to the day that I am truly a new creation in mind, body and spirit. I believe it will come-and I am expectantly, and hopefully, looking forward to it.

Another thing about these little snowmen
is that when I saw them together
 I thought about my childhood.
 Thought about my daughter's childhood.
Our childhood's are as different as these two snowmen.
and I realized that, that's a good thing.
 Actually, that's a great thing. 

How glad I am that my daughter will not experience the pain I have. How glad I am that her life is being built out of things that will last. She is growing up knowing the Word of God. Knowing the love of Jesus. No matter what she goes through she will not be moved-or changed.

Sure, she will have her own issues to work through, but by God's amazing grace she is saved from so much.
The generational sin, junk, is not being steadily passed along. The richness of knowing Jesus is growing and there will be a heritage of believers in my family. I claim it!

My little three year old asked Jesus into his heart on 12/12/11. How amazing is that???
My son from his tender years will know and grow in the love of Jesus. There is hope. God is turning one worn out life into something new. God is taking said- worn out life- to create life that knows Him.

It's's really happening.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Little Snowman...A Great Memory.

On my Joy School blog I mentioned how I went to 'Joy School' when I was little --here's what I said...

 "Well, when I was three years old some ladies in our church started a little school for me and my friends- they named it Joy School. I have never forgotten how very excited I was each week to attend Joy School- to sing songs of Jesus, and make crafts. I'll never forget the Christmas party they threw- even the parents were invited. My mom came. I sat on her lap throughout the whole party. We made a snowman ornament craft (that I still hang on my Christmas tree each year) and ate pfeffernusse."

it's true I still have the snowman...

and here it is~

(the cute handwriting of a four year old =)

Every year that I have taken that snowman out it really brings back sweet memories. Memories of the church basement being decorated for Christmas. The tables had white table clothes, beautiful dishes and cups, hot cocoa, marshmallows, (of course), treats and craft material set out.  Memories of my friends and I being so excited. Memories of my mom showing up and allowing me to sit on her lap. Memories of Christmas songs being played. Memories of trying pfeffernusse for the first time, loving it, and being allowed to eat as much as I wanted. Memories of making a craft that I could be proud of.

So over the years, when Christmas time came along, I would always look for the craft materials I used to make that snowman. As a teacher I wanted it so I could make the snowman with my many students over the years. I have never found it-- until this year. Just the other week I was in the veterans thrift store with the girls, when in their Christmas craft box, I saw a craft kit for a snowman- it looked kinda like what I had as a child and for a dollar I bought it for my seven year old.

The other day I took out our Christmas crafts and set my daughter up to make her snowman. I showed my husband and said, 'Hun, doesn't this look like the craft from when I was four years old?" He picked up the package...

read the publication date and it said it was made in 1973! (I made my craft in 1974!) how funny is that!? Not only that, but it was made in Bronx, NY! I laughed! who knew I had to travel eight hours from my birth place to find what was made back there?! LOL!

Honestly, I'm not making this up, my daughter has absolutely loved making her snowman. Her snowman is different than mine- her's has sequence and pretty beads and she has enough beads left over that she is covering the back too!

 How neat is that? isn't it pretty?

I know so many times I want to completely throw the towel in on my childhood memories and say,
 'Lord, please take them all away--there's too much pain.'
 but then He lets me see that it wasn't all bad. and somehow God has allowed me to remember these sweet times, to treasure them in my heart and be able to repeat them with my daughter.

 I treasured today. I treasured being able to put on Christmas music in my home, sit with my daughter and make a Christmas craft. I hope and pray that today will be remembered by her and that she will desire making special memories or even crafts with her daughter.

Thank you Lord for Christmas. Thank you for allowing there to have been a time in my life, Christmas time, to be filled with sweet memories and sweet times. Thank you Lord that it wasn't all bad. thank you too for those ladies, whoever they were- I have no idea, but bless them for creating a place that was safe for me, that showed me how people loved you with joy. I am blessed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hark the Herald Angels Sing...Now That's Something.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." I had no idea who wrote the song, but I knew it had to have been someone who really loved Jesus and totally understood the reverence of Christmas.

 I think it wonderful that this song is taken from the perspective of the angels. We've seen so many cartoons and movies made that cover Christmas from the view of: Mary and Joseph, a lamb, a donkey, a drummer boy, etc. but from the perspective of the angels- now that's something. The angels knew Jesus. They were in heaven with Jesus. They knew not only who He was, but  that He was coming and why He was coming.

Well, I won't hold you in suspense any longer, although, I will add I hope to raise Godly children like Mr. and  Mrs. Wesley one day. The writer was the brother of John Wesley-Charles Wesley. I thought that was pretty neat. Charles wrote the song and William H. Cummings worked on the music written by Mendelssohn to fit to the song hark the herald angels sing. 

I've sung this song so many times and have never really looked at the meaning of the song-sure it's a Christmas song, but what is Charles Wesley proclaiming? When I simply read over the words the song no longer felt like a song, but rather a declaration or a statement of what I believe.

The song begins with "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" hark- means to pay close attention to or listen- and herald means an official crier or messenger, one that precedes or foreshadows: one that conveys news or proclaims : announcer  : one who actively promotes or advocates.--isn't that amazing! he starts the song with the angels telling us to,  'pay close attention because we are official messengers announcing news.' and the news follows: the KING has been born! Glory means: worshipful praise, honor, and thanksgiving. Praise God for what He has done- He has come to earth!

Now why praise God for coming to earth? Well, he tells you in the next several lines:
'Peace on earth' has come for the Prince of Peace is here!
'God and sinners reconciled' - because of Jesus' sacrifice of coming to earth and dying on the cross we can be in relationship with the God of heaven!-
I love the next lines:
'joyful all ye nations rise- Jesus came for ALL nations-every tribe, every nation! so rejoice!
'join the triumph of the skies-with the angelic host proclaim'  join with the angels singing!
'Christ is born in Bethlehem'!

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"

Hark! The herald angels sing              
"Glory to the newborn King!"
Christ by highest heav'n adored      -Jesus came from heaven -(don't forget that).
Christ the everlasting Lord!             -Jesus is the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come         - Jesus is NEVER late-He born late in the night
Offspring of a Virgin's womb          -He was born of a virgin-a miracle-faith
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see      -He was born flesh-to be among us
Hail the incarnate Deity                   -the world will tell you different-but God was flesh
Pleased as man with man to dwell-    and happy to do so
Jesus, our Emmanuel                        -Jesus IS our 'God with us"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!    -Praise the Prince of heaven for coming to earth
Hail the Son of Righteousness!            - Praise the ONE that is 'free from guilt or sin'
Light and life to all He brings                - He brings life to ALL of us
Ris'n with healing in His wings             -HE brings healing to us all
Mild He lays His glory by                     - He laid His kingdom down to come to earth (WOW!)
Born that man no more may die             -His purpose in coming-to die for us
Born to raise the sons of earth              -He is born to raise us up with Him
Born to give them second birth             -He is born to give us a second birth in Him
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
i cannot imagine ever being able to write a song like that! all of that is in my heart, but to get in down in words like that-amazing.

in the few days left until Christmas -take some time to sing this song and so many others that proclaim what Christmas is really all about. proclaim it like the angels did that precious night of our Savior's birth. proclaim like a declaration of what you believe. God has come to earth for US!
 He loves us.
He loves you.
Merry Christmas!