Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Memories...

So where does one begin?

I have a rush a memories flooding my mind -good and sad ones all mixed together, but...i'll stick with the sweet ones.

Okay, so here we go...
--One Christmas I really wanted a particular baby doll. She had a plastic head, arms and legs, but her body was soft-I think she was called, "Baby so Soft." anyway, I really wanted her, but I found out later that my mother said she would not buy me another baby doll. well, when one of my sisters heard that i wasn't going to get the one thing i really wanted for Christmas she saved up her money and bought it for me. my mother, who would not stand for being 'out shined' ran out and bought me one too!  so, on Christmas morning i not only got the dolly i wanted, but twins!!!! it was the best surprise. i delighted in my twins for years. (how amazing to me that the Lord gave me twins in real life too!).

--another story--i remember when i was twelve years old my sisters boyfriend (whom she later married) asked me what was the one thing i always wanted for Christmas and never got. I quickly pulled out a magazine and showed him a picture of a dollhouse. (i remember the first time i saw that dollhouse -i had to have been in the third grade). anyway, he told me that that would be a really nice gift, but there was no way he could afford it. i completely let the idea of ever having my own doll house go.

Christmas morning came and in he walked with the biggest package i had ever seen! with tears in his eyes  and the happiest smile he looked at me and said, "merry Christmas ellie." I slowly opened it. i was too afraid to dream. as i unraveled the paper my dreams came true. i fell in love with it at once. as i stared at it in awe. i heard him say how sorry he was that he couldn't afford the one i wanted, but how he hoped this one would do. then my sister said, "ellie, he designed and made this one for you." i tell you my heart was completely overwhelmed. i felt so loved. ---since that time i have made three dollhouses and refurbished one.  (-two of the dollhouses i have given to my own daughters).

--i remember the first time i ever saw the movie, "it's a wonderful life." it had been a long day of our regular chores on a saturday. i was so tired. my sister made hot cocoa and sat me down to watch the movie. i was glued from the very moment it started. i didn't know who jimmy stewart was or how famous the movie was either, but i did know that God was watching out for this guy, george bailey. i was so touched. so moved. so encouraged. so filled with hope. a hard day turned into a day of joy. best movie ever. i have watched it every Christmas season without fail and my husband even made a movie of it staring himself as george and me as mary. we have a wonderful life, know it and thank God for it!

--as an adult i just loved the first Christmas in our own home. it was a Christmas of alot of  'firsts"
--it was the first Christmas living out of ny,
--first Christmas in a house that my husband and i had recently bought and
-- our first child's first Christmas.
i remember waking up on Christmas morning with more delight and excitement in my heart than ever i was a child. i skipped over to my son's room and scooped him out of his crib. we all went downstairs, played Christmas music, lit a fire in the fire place, and opened presents. the joy, the freedom to be loved and to love. each Christmas that we have had a 'new arrival' join in on the fun it has felt as fantastical as that first one. each Christmas sitting around the den and watching the children open presents, honey video tapping, music playing, fire burning,-- has reinforced how very blessed i am.

so there you have it- just a few memories of Christmas past. i find it is always good to sit and remember. to see how very much the Lord has blessed you and take time to thank Him.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What was Christmas like in Your Home Growing Up?

i'd love to hear about all your
- traditions,
- memories,
-favorite movies,
- your favorite present ever!
or -whatever you'd like to share-

I think it would minister to so many if we all just take a moment to share one, two or as many things that come to your heart that made Christmas special.

and then i'll share mine ;)
by the way...Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Most Powerful Words You'll Ever Hear (part 2)

Jesus spoke the most amazing, powerful words. I already mentioned some of His life changing words, but Jesus had alot to tell us and it was all powerful:

Jesus said: "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:44-45  
(Are you kidding me?!!-It's more like hate my enemies and gossip about them behind their back-Why not? they hate me anyway! I have, obviously, been personally convicted by this Bible verse).

Jesus said, "So the last will be first, and the first will be last." Matthew 20:16
(What!!! It's is all about ME being first. I grew up being told to, 'Take care of # 1'-me).

Jesus said, "You cannot serve both God and Money." Matthew 6:24 
(Really??? We are a nation of people who love money- we love new cars, new clothes, a Martha Stewart style home, the best of everything).

Jesus said,  "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." Mark 9:35
(I was taught, by watching my father, that if you are a leader you lord your power over those under you- you make the servants do all the work. how is it possible that the head serves the foot???).

These words are radical, powerful, life changing, convicting and yet- still not the most powerful words you'll ever hear. The absolute most powerful words you will ever hear is this:

Jesus said,
 "It is finished."
John 19:30

"It is finished." amazing. done. complete...but what does it mean?

Our sin, our mistakes-our "mistakes" done on purpose- all of it, makes us imperfect. God, however, is perfect. Perfect-no sin, no mistakes, no unjustified  anger, perfectly patient, perfectly kind, perfectly loving, perfectly joyful, perfectly at peace, perfectly wise, perfectly self-controlled. Our sin-our 'not-perfectness' separates us from God. nothing we do can ever change the fact that we are imperfect and He is perfect. we can't make ourselves perfect. sure, we can try, but it's of no use.

We can go to church every Sunday, we can be in ministry-even be a missionary, we can give up drinking, smoking, drugs. We can give up promiscuity, stop having fits of rage, lying, stealing, basically- stop breaking the ten commandments, but if we haven't come to the place where we believe that Jesus paid for our sin by dying on the cross -that He took the punishment for all our 'wrongs' well, then, it is all for nothing. All that hard work of trying to be good, trying to earn our way to heaven is for nothing. We can't not be a sinner- we are sinners! We sin in our thoughts! In our words! In our actions! and like any good parent knows, if you disobey the father--there will be a punishment.

Jesus, who was perfect -who never did wrong, took the punishment for our wrongs so we wouldn't be punished. When He uttered the words, "It is finished" He was saying, 'My children who believe in me will never, ever, ever, ever, know punishment. They will not know the threat of being punished or carry the fear of being punished- it is over- it is finished.'

 When the enemy whispers to you and says,
"Jesus will never forgive you for that!"
 it's a lie because,
 "It is finished."

When you have guilt over doing something so dreadfully wrong,
you know why?
"It is finished."

If "religion" is keeping you from believing
understand- this is not religion-
it is the very words that came from
Jesus' mouth-
He said, "It is finished." not man.

And I think what adds to this amazing statement is that when Jesus died on the cross over 2000 years ago all our sin was in the future then- which means all our sins- past, present and future are taken care of- He took the punishment for it all- for everyone--forever!!! "It is finished!"

"It is finished" are the most powerful words you'll ever hear
 for it carries freedom for the whole world!

"Don't be afraid; just believe." (Mark 5:36)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Last Prima Famiglia Thanksgiving-The Beginning of the End.

It was 2001 and it was the worst thanksgiving day of my life. I couldn't remember a time, prior to this event, that I had ever cried so deeply and so long. I had no sign of when the pain and ache would end. I honestly felt as if I would cry myself to the death.

Growing up my sister, five years my senior, and I were very close- as close as two sisters could be in my home. She was older than me and sorta watched over me, but she also used me as her little side kick-- and honestly, I was okay with that. She was the only one that paid any attention to me on a day to day basis. I did whatever she said. If she wanted go to the 7:30am church service on a Sunday morning, I went. If she wanted to spend an entire day mowing, front and back lawns, picking weeds, and planting flowers, I was her man-I mean I was her 7 year old kid. If she wanted to go shopping and didn't want to go alone- I was there holding the bags. If she wanted to watch 'knot's landing'-I was there watching a show I couldn't understand. If she was frightened of the thunder storm in the middle of the night, I was the one who allowed her to crawl in my bed and made her feel safe. I was also the one who agreed with her in everything. If she said to jump, I asked, the proverbial question of "How high?" and I loved her with all my heart. She meant the world to me - because--she was my world.

She was also an artist and I looked up to her. She would draw amazing Christmas scenes on eggs that she blown out. She made beautiful things with shells and crab legs that we had found on the beach. She had this sweet tender side, but that was not the side of her you would often see or that she let just anyone see. She was mostly bossy, aggressive, forceful and if she didn't get her way-brutal. She was not a girl of many words-fists with punches behind them were her language. I fell out of line a few times, but it didn't take me long to get back in line and start marching right behind her. No, she was not one you would ever say no to or cross. For she knew just how to make your life miserable. So with me in line, being quiet, as her servant, little, puppy--we got along great.

I knew everything about her life. I can't say she ever really knew me though. I can't remember a time where she asked me how my day was, or asked me why I was crying. Funny though, I loved her still. At that time I was so grateful to her. I cannot express that gratitude towards her-maybe, I guess, it was the fact that she allowed me to watch her. I learned so many of the plain day to day things of life from her. (You see my mother and father were in their own world's -so this particular sister was like a mother to me--and I guess one just loves their mom no matter what--flaws and all).

So in 2001, we were grown adults. She and I were married. She had three children and I was pregnant with my second. My husband, one year old and pregnant self traveled from our married home to my childhood home to be with my side of the family for Thanksgiving. When we arrived there was a 'cold air' about the family, but we were happy to be visiting and looking forward to the day's events.

We woke up early on Thanksgiving day, bundled up and headed into Manhattan for the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. It really was alot of fun, but inside-- my stomach was doing flip-flops. I knew I must have 'gotten out of line' with my sister some how, didn't know what I had done, but knew that the 'punches' were on their way.

On the car ride home from the city I sat next to her on purpose hoping to get a chance to confront the issue, say my apologies and continue with the day, but I soon realized that it was not that simple. Essentially I was told that the family "finally saw me for who I really was" and they hated me for it. She listed my cowardice and shyness as offenses to the family.

When we arrived back to my childhood home, my mother was in complete agreement with the 'airing of grievances.' My sister continued to tell me of my 'sins' against the family. My confusion was great and  I couldn't see any of it as sins in the least. Then the final blow came...she said, "None of us have ever loved you- we have carried you along because you are blood."

The words hung in the air. At first my mind asked, 'Could this really be true? Could she really mean what she is saying?' Then I knew it was true. All those relationship only service. My mother walked by again, glad the words were finally being said and kept going.

My brother and his beautiful family had not arrived yet and I knew that they were not a part of this census--I remained silent.

Thanksgiving day went on as scheduled. food, wine, smiles, guests. I was broken. I tried so hard not to cry, but at last I went into the bathroom and the flood of tears began. My mother came in and yelled at me, "Pull it together!! How could you be so absurd to ruin Thanksgiving!!!"

I did pull myself together, I wiped my face, went downstairs, got our things, and my new family-husband, baby and I walked out the door.

(Part of the Prima Famglia saga)

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Most Powerful Words You'll Ever Hear (part 1)

Jesus said some pretty powerful words to people---

-Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.
"I am willing." he said "Be clean!"
Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.
 (Matthew 8:3)

-Jesus said to the centurion, "Go!" It will be done just as you believed it would" (Matthew 8:13)
-"Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." (Matthew 9:2b)

-"Take heart, daughter, he said, "your faith has healed you." (Matthew 9:23)

"When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
"Friend, your sins are forgiven."
 (Luke 5:20)

-Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said,
"Young man, I say to you, get up!"
The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother."
(Luke 7:14-15)

"But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
"If you can?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
(Mark 9:22-23)

Now just imagine if you were one of those people Jesus said these words to. Imagine if you had a son who died, a daughter who died and Jesus said to YOU, "Go!" It will be done just as you believed it would" Can you imagine within the next moments your son or daughter rose from the grave? Jesus spoke some mighty powerful words.

Imagine you had leprosy or an issue of bleeding and Jesus said to YOU  "I am willing. Be clean!" 

Those are pretty powerful words. I gotta say if any of these words were spoken to me-or these things happened to me not only would my faith be strong-stronger--I'd be radically changed. I believe that the Word of God or the Bible is as true today as it was thousands of years ago. I believe that the true life stories that were written down by the apostles and disciples of Christ are for US today.

What do I mean...

Okay, so I believe that God inspired the apostles and disciples of Jesus to write the true account of Jesus' stay here on earth. -all the stuff He did and said--people He healed--His teachings--things that God the Father wanted us to know.  Why? What can we glean from the healings Jesus preformed for other people?

 Was it so that we would merely know that Jesus was our healer
 is it so that we would know Jesus IS our healer? 

I truly believe that Jesus is our healer today. We read these amazing and miraculous stories not so we would say, "Man, I wish I could go back in time and have Jesus heal me -that guy was lucky." That would be rough.  Jesus wouldn't do that- Jesus gave us the Bible to build our faith. As we read these accounts of healing- faith rises up in us and it strengthens our resolve that we will be healed too. 

I also think it's neat how the apostles didn't take an account of the names of the people healed. No names, isn't that interesting? Important enough for the writers to record the story, but not important enough to write the names? Jesus says things like, daughter, you are well. Son, your sins are forgiven you. No names. Is it so we can put our own name in? "Take heart, Kelly, your faith has healed you." We don't have to wish for Jesus to say these words to us- He has said them-directly to you.

You may have something in your life or some sickness in your life that wasn't mentioned in the Bible and it's hard for you to believe that Jesus will heal you of  that particular thing. Well, it says in the Bible, He healed all their diseases. If the Word of God is as true today as it was 2,000 years ago, then I gotta say that God can heal you now and from whatever disease you've got.

"Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. " (Matthew 4:23)

These are powerful words- powerful truths--we need only believe.

"Everything is possible for him who believes."
(Mark 9:22-23)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Family...A Precious Word.

Family.- A group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head.
             Basic unit in society consisting traditionally of two parents rearing their children. (Webster Dictionary)

Mishpachah - (Yiddish) The entire family network of relatives by blood or marriage (and sometimes close friends).

These scholarly definitions are not truly defining family for me. My idea of family is so much bigger, and I think so much better.

So, here's my definition of family...

Family- begins with two people, a man and a woman, who love each other very much and are blessed to have children. Their children have children and their children have children. And they are there for one another. No matter what they are there for one another. Family looks out for one another. Family listens. Family helps. Family understands. Family prays. Family loves. They love with hugs, and squishes, and presents, and words of affirmation. Family is always excited to see you. A family member's door is always open. You are never turned away.

Family doesn't notice if you are wearing make-up, and hair is 'depoofed.' Family laughs with you, not at you, for the chub line around your middle and sometimes they laugh at their own chub too. Family talks about who got dad's chin and eyebrows while so-and-so got mom's hair and freckles.

Family takes your phone call no matter what the time of day or night. Family talks on the phone for two-to-three hours or minutes or just hangs up when they hear the baby is crying in the background and you just had to go-no explanation is needed.

In family the older ones pass down the family traditions, wisdom, and Godly advice and the family recipes. Family loves to eat together. They love to eat the same food that they have enjoyed together for years. nothing new, but always good.

Family loves your child from the moment they know the little one is inside of you.  They tear-up with joy to hear the words, "we're having a baby." Family loves to smell your children's hair and toes and kiss their bellies. Family loves to call each other by their nickname. Family loves the new words that are added to the family vocabulary like "shew-shew" for shoes or "tutle" for turtle or "that's fa-diculous" for 'that's ridiculous.'

Family thinks of you and buys you little chakas 'just because.' Family travels eight or so hours just to see you. They sleep in sleeping bags on the floor and cram in together just so they can get every possible minute together. Family plays games like Guesstures- acting out silly things and die laughing together. Family remembers the inside jokes and those jokes can last for years and no one tires of the retelling.

Family remembers your heartbreak. Family cries with you. Family suffers with you. Family sticks by you. Family never forgets you. Family knows who you are and loves everything about you. Family hopes for the best, prays for the blessings, and never lets you go.

So, if your family isn't perfect- an aunt is annoying, mom bugs you about something, grandpa makes obscene noises at parties, a possible competition going on between sisters or brothers, financial worries, feeling like you don't necessarily fit in...remember that you at least have family-that you have been blessed with family. With all of it's quirks and hick-ups - they are still family and no one and nothing can take the place of family.

My definition for family is possibly a bit too long for "Webster," but if you are to define a word, I say, you best get it right.

(part of the "Prima Famiglia Saga")