Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, Every One!

May we celebrate this special day with joy, wonder and a grown-up determination to believe with childlike faith.

A very merry Christmas to you all!

Favorite Thing #7

I love that part of our Christmas traditions involve baking sweet treats to share with friends and family. This year Jack made gingerbread boys for his teachers at school. I helped by rolling the dough and by transporting cookies to/from pan and oven, but he did the rest!

Favorite Thing #6

Since England doesn't have the separation of church and state, and since the Church of England is the official religion of the country, in December every class in every government-sponsored (American = public) school does a nativity play.

Guess who was a Wise Man this year? (Hint: He's wearing a red robe in this picture and, during the performance, did everything BUT sing the songs he'd been practicing at home for weeks.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Favorite Thing #5

Giving and receiving gifts is fun any time of year, but at Christmas it has special significance. We give one another presents because 2000 years ago God sent Jesus to earth, the greatest and most generous gift ever.

If you're looking for a meaningful Christmas gift for someone you care about, check out Nigel Barham's list of World Changer gifts, or visit World Vision for a host of ideas on ways to honor your loved one and make a difference in someone's life this Christmas and all year round.

And maybe, just maybe, into eternity, too.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Favorite Thing #4

Especially at this time of year, I love to bask in the power of these three statements, some of my favorites in all of Scripture:

Nothing is impossible with God.

I am the Lord's servant... May it be to me as you have said.

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!

(The words of Gabriel, Mary and Elizabeth from Luke 1:37-38, 45 NIV)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Favorite Thing #3

Bedtime prayers at our house usually end something like this --

Me: Thank You, Jesus, for being our Savior and our Shepherd and our Very Best Friend. Thank You that You're always, always with us and that You never, ever change.

Jack (whispering): And don't forget to say Thank You that Jesus makes miracles.

Me: Oh yes, we thank You, Jesus, that You make miracles.

Jack: And that He never makes mistakes.

Me: We absolutely thank You, Jesus, that You never make mistakes. Thank You that we can always trust You, no matter what. It is so wonderful to know that You will always keep Your promises.

One of my favorite things about Christmas is being reminded of God's faithfulness, His predictability to do the miraculous, the extraordinary, beyond-your-wildest-dreams, whatever-it-takes to keep His Word.

* * * * * * *
To believe in a miracle is only a way of saying that God is free -- free to do a new thing. (Eugene H. Peterson)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Favorite Thing #2

Another thing I love about the Christmas season is taking the opportunity to share the comfort and joy of Jesus' birth with friends who don't yet know Him.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things (Or, my attempt to shorten the days between posts during this wondrous, too-busy season that is Advent)

‘Tis the season to do many fun things except keep up with this blog, it seems! Forgive my silence, won’t you, while I get myself all wrapped up in the comfort and joy of celebrating God-with-us.

Part of that comfort and joy, for me, is listening to Christmas music. So today’s Favorite Thing is a sampling of my best-loved lines from Christmas carols.

O come, O come, Emmanuel...
That glorious song of old...
O come to us, abide with us...
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing; O come, let us adore Him!
This, this is Christ the King!
A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn...
Light and life to all He brings...
Son of God, love's pure light... The dawn of redeeming grace!
Peace on earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled!
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care...
His law is love and His gospel is peace...
Chains shall He break... and in His name all oppression shall cease!
To free all those who trust in Him from Satan's power and might...
O tidings of comfort and joy!
Joy to the world! The Lord is come!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Elijah Update (December 3)

For new readers to this blog, the following update is about a strong and brave little guy named Elijah, born February 6, 2007. His mom and I worked together at Rift Valley Academy in 1996-1999. Elijah has Hemophilia B, but more importantly, he has a worldwide prayer support team! Since my initial post about Elijah and his mom's initial update the very next day, posting updates from Elijah's parents on this blog is a small way I can give support from far away and generate much-needed prayer for Elijah's continued growth and healing. So please, join the praying!

Dear Friends,

I was just looking over past e-mails and realized that over a month has passed since we sent out an Elijah Update. What a wonderful feeling we have when we realize that there haven't been any major, or minor, medical events in Elijah's life for over a month. God has truly blessed us and our little boy.

We did have a scheduled clinic visit with the hemophilia team in mid-November, but I don't call it an "event". It is just something we will have to do every year. As Elijah gets older the clinic team will check his joints for range of motion, they will check his bumps and bruises and his blood will be checked for inhibitors and other things that can be dangerous for people with hemophilia. All of Elijah's reports came back great, and Dr. W was "astounded". We pray that someday he will stand in awe of The One who healed our little boy, but until then we pray that God will continue to impress and amaze.

While we were at the clinic we received a visit from Dr. P. We hadn't seen her since the day we left Children's Mercy Hospital eight months ago. We were excited for her to see Elijah and know firsthand of his great health. After talking with us and watching Elijah, Dr. P said she was never so glad to be so wrong. We too are glad.

The rest of the month of November has been filled with "firsts" for our family: Elijah's first family Christmas photo, Elijah's first Christmas tree, Elijah's first non-hospital snow and, of course, Elijah's first Thanksgiving. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving Grams, Papa, Judy, Elijah and I drove about 30 miles to a Christmas tree farm to pick out our family tree. Snow was on the ground as we tramped through the field looking for that special tree. We found just the right one, cut it down and headed back to the barn for some hot chocolate. It was a fun outing with good memories. Judy and I decorated the tree that night while Elijah was asleep. It is a
beautiful tree with lots of fun decorations -- again, more good memories.

Judy speaks:
When it seems that we are heading toward a mountain top we get hit again with something new. Joel was working at the Funeral Home trying to get a casket out of the van. He knew it was heavy but thought, "Let me give it one more try." POP. Something happened to his back. To make a long story short, an ambulance came, he spent two nights in the hospital, I drove him to Hays for an MRI and then drove him back to the hospital. Praise the Lord it was not worse. The injury can be treated with therapy, so now the work begins. One week later and he is still hurting. Every day he would say, "I think I'm going to go to work today," but then he would be hurting so much he would go back to bed and forget it. Elijah and I had to walk around quietly, taking care of Daddy and playing quietly. Joel isn't allowed to pick up Elijah and was told that he cannot pick up anything heavier than a phone. He is doing a very good job of following that rule and can tell when something may be too heavy. Elijah is handling it well and smiles at his daddy whenever he sees him. He even played quietly in his chair next to his daddy who was asleep on the couch. My muscles are going to get stronger during these next months as I do the lifting and carrying Joel used to do for us. Please pray with us for Joel's back, that the Lord would completely heal him and that we would both learn the lessons He has for us in this trial.

Joel again:
During this experience, God has been good to us. As Judy wrote, the injury could have been much more debilitating. However, it seems I injured my back just enough to make me slow down and take a few days off, and over time therapy and exercise will mend the injury. Since the end of October my dad, who is 78 years old, and I have been the delivery boys for the furniture store, and it has been a busy, tiring month. Because one person just cannot deliver a refrigerator, my dad hasn't had to lift and deliver since my accident. So God is allowing both of us to relax and allow our bodies to mend. We are thankful that God has kept the funeral work to a minimum this week and the furniture store has kept busy without the need for deliveries.

These few days at home have also allowed me to see all the work Judy does with Elijah, for the house, for the flower shop and for me. She is an amazing woman. Please pray for her strength and endurance while I recover.

We pray that everyone has a wonderful Christmas and that the Lord will shine brightly in your family celebrations. Praise the Lord with us for Elijah's life and his first Christmas.

Joel, Judy, and Elijah

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Let the Celebration Begin

Finally, finally, FINALLY it’s here: December 1st.

Jack has been anxiously counting down to the day he can start opening his Divine chocolate advent calendar. A friend from church gave him one last year, and when we saw them in the Oxfam shop this fall, he could hardly wait to get another one.

My sweetie-with-a-sweet-tooth is excited about the milk chocolate heart hidden behind each day's window. I’m excited for any chance to support Fairtrade and to have finally found an advent calendar that actually -- beautifully and accurately -- celebrates the birth of Jesus, one delicious day at a time.

For those of you who live in the US, the website says they’re available at Whole Foods stores.

Merry Christmas to all!