Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Piece of the Puzzle

Today I found a puzzle piece in the couch.  It was not a corner piece, in fact it had pieces cut from it on every side so I assumed that it was from somewhere in the middle of the puzzle.  It was interesting because by itself it was not much of anything, in fact I couldn't even tell what type of picture it was from by looking at it.  I am sure that in its place, it completes the puzzle and makes perfect sense.

The puzzle was incomplete as well and would of remained so without this piece that had been lost.  A lost puzzle piece leads to an unfinished puzzle and an incomplete message or picture.  So in both ways, the puzzle needing the piece and the piece needing the puzzle, there is need and want for the other.  Without either the other is incomplete.

In a lot of ways this puzzle and puzzle piece represent our lives.  Each of us has our own puzzle that we are putting together.  The pieces revolve around our job, family decisions, relationships with people, hobbies, sports teams, vacations, money decisions, homes, food, clothes, and things that we own.  Each decision we make or thing that we buy are a piece in our puzzle of life.  We make decisions based on wants and needs and those decisions help us to piece together life. 

Another piece to our puzzle is our piece that represents our relationship with God.  Sometimes this is a big piece that is some where in the middle of our puzzle.  Sometimes it is a smaller piece that is located along the edge of our puzzle, where it is easy to find and not as important as a center piece.  Unfortunately I think a lot of people loss that piece of the puzzle.  They lose the piece that keeps them building a relationship with God and when they lose it they lose the relationship they have already built. 

I think a lot of us loss that piece even if we attend church weekly or go to Sunday School or Youth Group.  We stop building a relationship with God.  We don't pray or worship in a way that is from our hearts.  Instead we lose that piece of our puzzle and our puzzle of life is not complete.  We are incomplete and nothing is worse than an incomplete puzzle.  When we lose that relationship with God piece, the rest of the pieces don't fit as well.

So it is time to comb through that couch , amongst the lent, and food pieces, find that piece of your puzzle that is stuck to the bottom of the cushion.  Pull it out, dust it off, and put it back into your puzzle.  Cement it in by building upon your relationship with God.  Don't ever allow yourself to lose it again.  Keep your puzzle of life complete.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Keep It All The Year Long

Well another Christmas has come and gone.  I got a lot of great things, a new computer to write on, a kindle to read books on.  I got a some wonderful clothing, socks, and movies.  It is so exciting to get wonderful presents and enjoy time with family.  We had wonderful food and and good conversation.  We watched movies and football and had wonderful family time.

On Saturday afternoon we went to church and enjoyed a wonderful service.  We sang and worshiped as we celebrated Jesus' birthday.  That was our chance to truly remember what the season is all about.  The ending of the service when we sing Joy to the world is truly wonderful.  I sing out so loud when we hit that part because I want to express my love and gratitude for what God gave us on Christmas day.  There are so many people in church that day.  People come from all over to be in church on Christmas Eve.

The thing is they do the same thing during the Easter season as well.  They are here for Easter and Christmas, but what happens the rest of the year?  People have a tendency to disappear from church.  God seems to take a back seat in their lives to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  It truly is a shame.  I wish people would realize just how important it is to have God in your life the whole year and not just on the holidays that are the polar opposites of his life, the beginning and the end.  It is kind of fitting that that is when they choose to come but it also very sad.

In the Christmas Carol, when Scrooge realizes what he has done wrong all his life and decides to make a change, one on the lines is that he lived everyday keeping Christmas in his heart:

"and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! "

Scrooge kept Christmas in his heart all the year long in the sense of taking care of the poor and hungry, taking care of society, which my not have been worship of Jesus but it truly was a good way to live.  We must keep Jesus in our heart all the year long and keep him close to us.  We must do it all the year long instead of twice a year.  We must not be Chiseasters.  People that only go to church on Christmas and Easter.  We must keep it close to us in our hearts always.

God bless us, everyone!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 1: Jesus

Jesus is born!  Happy Birthday and praise the King of Kings! 

This could be the end of blog entry for today because that is all that needs to be said.  I am currently seating right next to the Christmas tree writing this on my new laptop with my new kindle plugged into it charging.  The other presents from my Christmas are at my feet.  My brother's, Mother's, Father's, and Sister in law's present surround me as well.  Christmas music is on the radio and we are just relaxing and enjoying the day.

It is hard to believe that it is over.  There is such a build up to get to this day and just like that it is done.  It goes so quickly when you actually open the presents. Some of us got gifts we didn't want or that will be gone before you know it because they are eatable.  Some will break or wear out over time while others may actually last for a while.  Some of the gifts might not even get opened because it was something they didn't want.

Gifts are great, but you must remember that the most wonderful gift of all was given to us today.  Jesus was born for our sins to be forgiven and to show us how to love and care for one and other in the way that God intended.  We are so blessed but like other gifts we have been given, we often take it for granted that Jesus was born and that he died for us.  We need to keep that close to our hearts. 

He was born in a manger to human parents, he grew up being taught as a carpenter, he taught in the temple and was baptized by John the Baptist.  After teaching and preaching to the people and to his disciples, he was crucified, died, and was buried.  On the third day, he rose and ascended to heaven where he sits now at the right hand of God the father.

I may not know how the Christmas story really went or what people felt or thought, I only know the way that I pictured it, and you know what, that is enough for me.  I am so thankful for Christmas, for the time with family and for the many gifts I have received.  I am most thankful for the greatest gift that God has ever given me, Jesus. 

Happy Birthday Jesus!  This celebration in 2011 has been wonderful and I can't wait to celebrate again next year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 2: T'was the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night before Christmas,
And all through the Church,
Everyone was stirring,
For a seat I did search,

The choir was singing,
The advent candles were lit,
The preacher was waiting,
I was late I must admit,

I found a seat,
On a row towards the back,
There was only one person,
He didn't talk smack,

He looked over at me,
And gave me a wink,
He had a white beard and red coat,
Which made me start to think,

I settled in for the service,
I picked up my book,
We started to sing,
But at this man I couldn't help but look,

His face full of glee,
His beard pearly white,
He had a big round stomach,
Off him I couldn't take my sight,

We finished our song,
And before he started to preach,
Up quickly I rose,
And for this man's hand I did reach,

As I passed him the peace,
I told him my name with a smile,
He said his name was Nick,
Smiling and laughing all the while,

He said he was visiting,
Just for the night,
For a little later,
He would have to take flight,

I stood in awe of this little old man,
Could he be the one,
On this night of all nights,
Brings presents to everyone,

I sat back in my seat,
And listened to the story of Jesus and his birth,
For on this night,
He was born for all on the earth,

After the service I watched,
This little old man in the red,
As he exited the church,
Up the stairs he fled,

I followed him up to the roof,
Where he turned and stopped,
That's when I knew who he was,
And my jaw did drop,

He was Santa for sure,
For his sleigh was right here,
With gifts and toys,
And all his reindeer,

He entered his sleigh and,
and looked ready to go,
When he looked over and saw me,
He yelled out a whoa,

I walked over to him,
and asked with fright,
Why he stopped at church,
On such an important night,

He smiled and chuckled,
And looked down at me,
And he explained very carefully,
but full of glee,

He said that nothing was more important,
On this special night,
Then to stop and worship,
Before he takes flight,

A baby was born in a stable,
For all of us he exclaimed,
In a stable in Bethlehem,
And Jesus he was named,

For he is the only present we need,
Please be clear,
For without him in our lives,
They would be full of fear,

So every Christmas Eve,
I find a church to stop,
And praise him and worship him,
Before on my sleigh I do hop,

Because he is the King of Kings,
And the Prince of Peace,
Of Christmas,
I am just a small piece,

I smiled at Santa,
As he told me this story,
And reminded me to God we should,
Give all the glory,

Then me smiled back at me,
And told his reindeer to go,
And off they went,
His altitude did grow,

He whipped around the church,
And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of site,
Merry Christmas to All,
and to All a Good night!

25 Days of Christmas: Day 3: Mary

I was scared but now am so excited.  I was worried but now I know am calm.  I was a daughter but now I am a mother.  I was a believer but now I have found favor with God.

How crazy has my life been.  I was told by an angel that I was pregnant, I had to tell my soon to be husband that I was pregnant from the Holy Spirit, I got married, I traveled a long distance to Bethlehem for the census, we didn't have a room at the Inn, I told him to make that reservation weeks ago with the room overlooking the pool, and now I have given birth.

It sounds like a story out of a book, but it is my life and I am so happy.  I lay here on the bed made of straw and blankets and hold my newborn baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.  We had to lay him in a manger because there was no place else for him to sleep safely.  For now though, I have him laying here with me.  He is so beautiful.  It is hard to believe that he is the Son of God.  I am sure that he is going to do so many great things and be a savior to the world we live in.  Jesus is his name.  I would of liked to be able to name my first born child but I like the name Jesus.

It seems to really suit him.  He is just a baby but the world we soon know who he is and why he is here.  Joesph seems to believe that this star he sees in the sky above us is telling people where we are so that they can come and worship our new born King.  I don't know if that is God's plan but it would be nice to have some company.  The Inn keeper's wife has been so helpful and the little drummer boy was such a delight, but it would be nice to have visitors.   

What more can I ask for, I have a loving husband, a newborn baby, and a new life ahead of me.  I guess I could ask for a room because this stable is drafty, but other than that I am really happy.  I hope that I can be everything to him that he needs.  I want to be a good mother but I have never been a mother before and this is the Son of God.  I hope that I do what needs to done and that we can raise him the way that God wants.   

We shall see...  I am going to lay him down for a nap.  Hey look, here come some shepherds.  I wonder what they want.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 4: Joseph

WOW!  The last year of my life has been so crazy.  I go from a meager carpenter, working hard to put food on the table and a roof over our heads, Mary and mine, to being the father of the Son of God.  That has been a difficult thing to digest.  I had a hard time believing Mary at first but after the angel visited me in my dreams, I was good to go.  I will never second guess Mary again. 

After all that happened, there was a census and we had to travel to my home town which is Bethlehem.  It was a long journey with a pregnant wife.  After many days on the road me made it safely to Bethlehem.  Unfortunately though, I forgot to make the reservation at the Inn.  Mary wanted a room that overlooked the pool and inside, we ended up with a pool side room because we are in the stable.  The animals here seem to know what is happening because for the most part they have been well behaved and very in tune with what is going on.  The Inn keeper's wife has been very helpful too.  I have been surprise just how helpful she has been.

Last night, a star seemed in hover in the sky directly over the Inn.  It was crazy how bright the star was, It was almost like daylight.  It seemed to be a beacon to where we are.  I wonder if it was showing people where we are.  After the star appeared, it happened.  Mary went into labor and before I knew it, I was trying to help her breath while the Inn keeper's wife helped us to deliver the baby.  It was very loud and a little bit scary.  I have never witnessed a birth before.  Mary was scared and hurting but she was so thankful that I was there with her.

Now, I am holding him in my arms.  It is so amazing.  He is beautiful. Mary wrapped him in the swaddling clothes that I was given from the lady in the marketplace yesterday.  We cleared out a spot in the manger where we could lay him.  The animals aren't too happy but they will get over it.  I keep looking into his eyes and wondering what he is going to do to change this world he live in.  How should I raise him?  All I know is how to be a carpenter.  I hope that will help him achieve what he sets out to do.  He is so beautiful, precious and helpless.  The baby Jesus is helpless and I have to take care of him.  I have to help him grown and learn.  I have to teach the Son of God. 

No pressure...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 5: Silent Night

Silent Night, Holy Night...

Do we really believe that it was a silent night?  With everything going on and people being visited by angels and bright stars hanging in the sky, Mary giving birth in a stable full of animals and Joesph not having taken any Lamaze classes having to help with the birth.  He was a carpenter not a doctor.  If the Inn was full I am sure there was all kinds of loud noises and crying of children.  Being outside there were people out and about even though it was probably pretty late.  Maybe somebody had the night shift or was keeping a watch over their flock by night.  Who knows what all was going on but I am sure that it was no where near silent.

We can dream that it was and that everyone was happy and in awe of the newborn baby. We can think that on this high holy moment, everyone stopped what they were doing, the world stood still for a little while and with easy and comfort, Jesus came into the world to be the best thing that ever happened for human kind.  Jesus was born of flesh and of a human mother.  He was the Son of God in human form.  In order for that to be true the whole experience needed to be authentic.  In order for that to happen there had to be labor pains and Mary telling Joseph that she didn't want to have this baby.  She did want to get pregnant even though she knew what a great gift it was.

Joseph was surly scared out of his mind.  Not sure what to do or how the help.  Hopefully he had help from the Inn Keepers wife who probably saw a lot of births at the Inn and knew how to handle the birth of a child.  He was excited and scared all at the same time, not calm at all.  The animals I am sure were going crazy with all the noise and screaming coming from Mary.  I am sure she muffled it but anything out of the normal would of gotten a rise out of the animals.  They would of been trying to get out of the stable or figure out what was wrong.  I am sure some of the animals even wanted to comfort Mary as many pets do when they know something is wrong or you are in pain.

The Shepherds were up on a hillside when an angel appears.  I am sure there were gasps and screams.  The sheep probably got loud and scared.  Then there was a choirs of angels with I am positive was as loud as a football crowd.  They were proclaiming the good news.  I am sure that it was a far cry from a simple gazing that they shepherds were doing.  They were scared and then became excited and rushed to see the new born King.  That was far from a silent night.

Although I am sure it was not a silent night by any imagination, it by far was one of the holiest nights in the history of the world.  It was a time in which the world changed, a time when God wanted to take a different approach to helping us here on earth.  He gave us an opportunity to learn and to be saved from our sins.  He put his Son here on earth.  That night, in a stable, Jesus was born. 

When that happened and Jesus was laying in his mother's arms and Joesph was standing over her smiling and looking down on the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, I am sure for a brief time all was quiet.  All was right with the world and God gave us that silent moment when no sound was made and we knew what had happened here on earth.  We knew that the Prince of Peace was born and was laying in a manger.  So that brief period of time was when there was a silent night, but the whole night was a holy night!  That is for sure.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 6: Shop Keeper

I run a small stand in the market.  We don't have much but the few crops that my husband is able to grow on our land outside of town mostly figs and olives.  It is just the two of as I was never able to have children.  I always wanted children but we never were able to conceive.  Now it is too late in life, but I enjoy listening and watching the children in town play.  It is exciting to watch them grown up around us.  Business has been good, it has been hard to keep the stand full with all the people in town for the census.  Why are we doing this census away?  It doesn't make sense to me.

It was been an interesting couple of days.  Last night I noticed that a star has seem to be hovering over Bethlehem.  I know that sounds crazy but it really has been just sort of sitting over top of us.  I have never seen this star before but it is extremely bright and stays in one place all the time.  My husband things I am crazy but he goes to bed very early so he can get to the fields at dawn and doesn't really see this star in the sky.  I wonder if it is a sign of something.  Well, only time will tell.

Today as I started to put out the food on the stand, a young man came around the corner.  He looked very tired, like he had been traveling a long distance.  He came up and started to look at what we had available.  I told him that I was sorry that we didn't have more but with everyone coming to town, it was hard to keep anything in stock.  He smiled, and told me he understood.  He said that he was looking for something for his pregnant wife who was staying with him in the stable at the inn downtown.

I was horrified when he said they were staying in the stable.  He explained a little more and although I understood why, it just worried me so that a pregnant woman and her husband were sleeping in a stable.  He said they were fine and had plenty of blankets and hay to stay warm.  He picked out a few items and reached in his bag to get out his money.  I refused it.  I told him to take what he needed with my blessing.  I wanted them to be well fed.  He was so grateful.  I reached down to a low shelf behind the market stand, and picked up a small blanket.  I handed it to him. 

I told him how myself and my husband could not have children but while we were trying, I made this baby blanket.  I told him that I wanted him to have it, that it would help to keep the baby warm.  I said that it wasn't much, just so swaddling clothes, but it was from the heart and would help in the cold night air.  Again this gracious man thanked me with all of his heart.  He said that God had blessed me by being so thoughtful.  I smiled and as he walked away, I wiped the tears from my eyes.  There was something special about this man and his wife and baby.  I don't know what it is but I just feel it.  It was such a powerful feeling that I knelt down and prayed right there in my market.

25 Days of Christmas: Day 7: Ain't No Mountain High enough

"Ain't no mountain high, ain't no valley low, ain't no river wide enough, to keep me from getting to you."

I think that song was actually written about the shepherds and wise men.  There was nothing that was going to keep them from getting to see the newborn baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger in Bethlehem.  They were following stars and listening to angels.  That actually sounds like a rock song too, "following stars and listening to angels."  The wise men traveled for day across rough terrain following that yonder star.  They were not going to let mountains, valleys, or rivers get in their way.  Not only did they travel to see the newborn king, they carried gifts for him.  They were willing to do whatever it took to see the Son of God.

The shepherds dropped everything they were doing, left their sheep on the hillside and traveled to Bethlehem because an angel appeared to them and told them to do so.  I am sure they also saw the star in the sky which had centered over the stable where Jesus laid.  They too had been given the gift of knowledge of this glorious event that was taking place in front of them.  They traveled, probably running, to see the child born no far from where they were keeping their sheep.

"My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart
If you ever need a helping hand
I'll be there on the double
As fast as I can"

Singing songs of joy and love, the wise men travel knowing that whatever needed to be done they would do it for the newborn king.  They traveled as fast as they could looking for help along the way to find the baby in a manger.  One can only imagine if you were given the opportunity to be a part of the greatest gathering in the history of the world, you too would pledge yourself to help in any way possible. 

The shepherd and wise men were invited to a birthday party, the greatest birthday party ever.  The joy and love overwhelmed them but I am also sure they were scared and confused.  It would of been hard to nail down an emotion.  I only hope they were able to be in the moment.  They were able to feel the love and glory that God was bestowing on the earth that day.  I hope they realized what they were in store for and that they knelt and prayed a thank you prayer to God that day.

"Don't you know that
There ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you!"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 8: The Star

Oh, star of wonder, star of light, star of royal beauty bright. 

It hung in the sky and moved slowly along showing not only the wise men but anyone who looked for or at it where Jesus was going to be born.  It is interesting that such a bright star hanging over the small town of Bethlehem didn't bring more people to find the baby born in a stable.  It was the biblical version of a GPS device.  It served them with guidance and preciseness.  The only thing it didn't do was say "right turn ahead."

What a glorious thing that was chosen to lead everyone to see the savior of the world. A star that produces light which is one of the purest elements on the earth.  A beacon of hope and love that hung brightly in the night sky.  There is a reason why most of us have a star at the top of our Christmas tree.  The star hung over Jesus, Mary and Joesph and displayed their love and belief to the world just as it does when it hangs on our Christmas tree.

One can only imagine what it must of looked like to see the star.  I imagine it being almost as bright as the sun.  I am sure many people at the time thought that something huge was happening and that the earth was going to end.  Maybe they thought it was flying toward earth and was going to destroy it, or just believe that there was a second sun that was coming out at night.  Although I can't imagine what it must of been like to see it, I can imagine with the limited technology and history of the world that it scared most people and the last thing they were thinking about was the fact that the Son of God had been born here on earth.

I myself would of wondered what it was for even if I was a true practicing believer at the time.  Without the visit of the Angels or knowing what to look for from readings or prophecies, I would of determined it to be some sort of end of the world or unexplained occurrence.  Of course people besides the wise men and shepherds had to of seen it.  It was a star in the sky.  It was moving and showing directions to a group of people so others would of had to see it. 

Like a lighthouse that directs ships near dangerous coastlines, the star steered believes toward the Christ child.  It showed them the way and where to go to worship the newborn king. I am sure it was a sight to see.  I love just to look up into a clear night sky away from the lights of the city and see all the shining, twinkling stars in the sky.  There are millions of them up there, and just think, out there in those millions of stars we see one of them was the star that grew so bright and so close to the earth that it guided believers to find the baby Jesus. 

May we be that star for others always but definitely during this Christmas season.  We need to be the guiding light that guides others to Christ.  Shine brightly for this last week, remember the true meaning of the season, and be a shining star for those in need.  Channel your inner star!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 9: Camel

I really wish Gaspar wouldn't eat so much.  He seems to get heavier every time we stop.  I wonder if I am just tired.  I have never been on such a long trip before.  I have always been close to home.  I would take my master through the town and load up with goods from the market, but I never traveled far from home.  We have been out here for weeks it feels like following yonder star.  I wonder why it is so bright.  It seems like it is right here on earth with us instead of up in the sky.  At least I know what direction to go in.  I am not sure which way to go if it wasn't for that star and having never been far from home, it is kind of comforting having the star to follow.

I am lucky that I have these humps to store water in.  We have had water breaks but they have been few and far between.  I can't imagine what it would be like if I didn't have this extra water.  Food has been hard to find, although I did eat and drink very well when we stopped in Jerusalem.  There was so much it was like I was in a royal stable.  Come to find out I was in a royal stable.  I overheard a couple of the stable handlers talking about how much so guy name Herod was upset about us looking for the newborn King.  They said that he wanted him dead.  I was shocked to hear it.  It is a shame I can't communicate with humans because I would tell my master and his companions about what I heard.

Luckily when we got back on the road, Balthazar talked to them about what he saw and felt and told all of them that they would not return through Jerusalem to see King Herod.  This made me feel much better.  The thing is, I don't think humans realize that we animals know who God is.  We know of the great creator who made all things, animals, and people.  We know of his great love and power.  I am just as excited as they are to go and worship the newborn King, the Son of God.  This is history in the making and if I ever have a son I can tell him about the time his father was able to visit the Son of God and play an important role as I carry a very wise man to see him.

The star has gotten even brighter.  We can see that it is over Bethlehem and centered even over a certain section of Bethlehem.  It won't be long now.  Before you know it we will be there and able to see him.  I hope that there are other camels there who can tell me what has been going on this whole time.  I hope that I get to see the baby.  We have been following this star of wonder, star so bright for such a long time.  It is only fitting that it is centered over where the baby lays.  We are almost there!

Friday, December 16, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 10: Balthasar

Wow, that what a day that was.  We finally reached Jerusalem after traveling for what felt like 2 weeks but was probably only a couple of days.  Upon arriving, we were the guests of King Herod.  It didn't like it much when we were asking questions about the newborn king, the Son of God.  He was really short with us and very shifty in his movements.  He kept consulting with a couple of guys when we mentioned the star.  I was noticing his every move.  Unlike my companions who are dedicated to the science of the stars and maps, I am dedicated to the science of people.  Don't get me wrong, I love the stars and help them every way I can, but there is just something about studying people that truly gets my blood flowing.

I told my companions as we were leaving Herod's palace on the second day how his mood and mannerisms changed from day to day.  On the first day he was angered by our questions and wanted answers to questions we were asking him.  He shifted on his throne quite a bit and at dinner was extremely quiet.  On the second day he greeted us in the morning and had a wonderful breakfast spread, he was nice and cordial and very relaxed in his movements.  He told us to continue following the star and when we find where the baby is to return to him so that he too could go worship him.  It was interesting to watch.  I don't trust him.  Although my companions seem to be oblivious to his behavior, they too agree with me that we will not return to see King Herod.

Are camels are well rested and we are well on our way to the birth place of the King of Kings.  The star is even brighter now and can be seen during day and night.  It is almost like a second sun that hangs lower in the sky.  We calculated at our last rest break that we believe the star is hanging over Bethlehem.  There we will find him. Each of us have brought him a gift.  I chose to bring Myrrh.  It is something that has been passed down in my family and I wanted to continue the tradition by passing it down to the Son of God.  It will be so interesting when we finally get to see him.

I wonder if he will be in a crib of gold surrounded by many important people.  He should have everything he needs and wants if he is the Son of God.  It will be interesting to study him as well as the other people that are around.  I bet they tell a great story.  There is talk amongst my companions about a pool at the Inn.  I really hope there is a stable for us to put our camels in after such a rough, long journey. 

I see it now, that little town of Bethlehem on the horizon.  The stars rays shine directly on the city.  We will be there by midnight tonight and bask in the glory that is the newborn King. This shall be an interesting couple of hours as we finish our long journey.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 11: Gaspar

We are on our way.  It was slow moving at first as we tried to determine the best route to take to follow the star.  I have never seen a star so bright before and I have been following and watching stars for a long time now.  I can tell you constellations and formations of stars even without the maps or the looking glass.  This is exciting, although I am older and wiser in years than my younger days I have never ventured far from our home city. 

I was always studying and reading books.  I had to take care of my mother she was really sick when I was younger.  In between studying and working to help support the family, I would do whatever my mother needed.  She was such a loving woman and it was hard to watch her get sicker.  One day when I was about 13, I came into her room with dinner and she told me she had something for me.  She reached under her bed and brought out a bag of Frankincense.  Frankincense is used for many different things but mostly it can be used for its frequencies to create perfumes.  My mother wanted me to do just that so that she could wear perfume which was extremely expensive at the time while she was still alive.

I spent many days working on the perfume until I perfected it.  It made her so happy to get the perfume.  She wore it everyday.  I came into her room one day and found her eternally sleeping, she was so peaceful and I could smell the perfume on her as if it was like any other day.  I think that is why I have chosen Frankincense my gift to give the Son of God, because Frankincense will always remind me of my mother and the day she went to be with God.  Frankincense is an expensive reminder of her love and of her life, she was a very giving loving woman just like I am sure this new born child will be.  It will be so exciting to see him.

As we ride, the night seems to be getting longer as if hours as being added.  I can't be sure but I think the star is even brighter.  We plan to stop in Jerusalem and visit with King Herod with the hope that he can tell us where to find the baby so that we know we are on the right path.  I can't wait to see the baby and met the king of kings, the Son of God.  Melchior said something about an Inn with a pool.  I love to swim so we will see what it is like when we get there.  Man it is getting colder I think.  We should be in Jerusalem soon. I can't believe how close we are!

I just realized something, it sure is quiet out here, it is definitely a silent night...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 12: Melchior

Today started as any other myself and my two friends were tired from a night of watching and tracking the stars in the sky.  As dawn broke, we retired for some rest.  Around noon we awoke from our slumber and headed out into the city to find food and water.  We were making plans to again watch the night sky this evening.  We had word from a profit that a star would rise and when seen would lead us to a child that will be born the Son of God.  We have studied the sky for many nights but have yet to see this star. 

After some time in town, looking at the various shops and spending some time at the well conversing about the planets and stars with a couple of other local gentlemen, we headed back to our home or observatory as we like to call it to get ready for another viewing of the stars.  As dusk approached we readied ourselves for another long night.  As the sun set, there came on the horizon a bright light.  At first we thought it was the moon but upon closer examination we determined it was a star.  It was a star that we had never seen before.  I charted it and looked at our maps to try and determine what star it was.

 Gaspar took some calculations and measurements.  We definitely determined that this star was one that we did not have record of.  We tracked it for a little while but it seemed to hold steady over a certain area.  We determined that this was the star we were looking for and it seemed to be located somewhere over Jerusalem or Bethlehem.  We decided that it was the star that we were looking for and that we would start our exhibition tonight to follow it to find the new born king. 

Quickly we packed our things together, gathered our maps and star gazing devices mounted our camels and took off in search of where this star lead.  As well as our food, water, and astronomy equipment, we each decided to bring a gift to give the new born king.  I decided to bring Gold because it is a precious metal just like the Son of God is.  It is pure and extremely valuable, again just like the Son of God will be.  He will be pure and full of the Holy Spirit and he will fill us with valuable knowledge and God's love.  It will be amazing to witness his presence. 

We stared out on a journey that we had no idea when it would end.  We packed light so that we could travel faster, but we brought with us plenty of money to continue to resupply no matter how long the journey takes.  This will be an exciting adventure and I truly believe that this star will guide us.  I love the stars because they shine for us no matter what.  They are a shining example of God's creation.  Some people seem to forget that and don't enjoy or study them the way they should.  I have never gone on a long trip from home even though I have lived many years on this earth.  I sure how where ever this star leads us there is an Inn with a pool or least a stable to keep our camels.  Who knows what we will find...

25 Days of Christmas: Day 13: Shepherd's Girlfriend

I was in my house, just finishing up cleaning up dinner when they came running down from the hillside.  All the shepherds who were up  on the hillside that night were running toward town.  I couldn't believe it.  I thought it must of been a wolf attack or something because why would all the shepherds come running down leaving the sheep unattended.

I have been betrothed to a Shepherd for a while now.  He is a loving kind man but honestly not the brightest candle in house if you know what I mean.  My parents aren't very happy about the situation but unlike those that are richer and have an arrangement situation, I got to pick my husband and after years of sitting on the hillside, watching the sheep as well as the stars, I chose him.  We are happy together and ready to start our lives together.  Once we are married we will have our own house and possible own some of our own sheep.  But it is not time yet and we must wait a little longer.

As I watched the shepherds run through town, yelling Praise God and screaming about needing to get to Bethlehem, I saw my boyfriend come running toward me.  He was smiling ear to ear and was out of breath when he reached me.  He tried to speak but had to catch his breathe before he could say anything.  I could see the excitement in his eyes when I looked at his face.

Once he caught his breath, he explained what had happened out on the hill tonight, he talked about the star in the sky and the angel followed by a heavenly host of angels.  He was talking so fast that I had to calm him down so that I could understand what he was saying.  He said that the angel said that a baby was born in Bethlehem tonight and that he is the Son of God.  He said he was instructed to go and praise him.  He said he just wanted me to know where I he was going.  I smiled at him and although one might think it would be hard to believe such a story, I knew that he was a simple honest man and that he would never make up such a story. 

I ran into the house and packed some bread for him.  I grabbed my fathers walking stick and gave both of them to him.  I told him to go to Bethlehem and see this baby.  I told him to come back and spread the good news that the Son of God has been born.  He hugged me and kissed me and off he ran following the other shepherds.  Before we knew it you couldn't see them any more as they crossed over the hill.  You could however see this extremely bright star hanging over Bethlehem.  I just smiled and went inside to pray.

After I prayed, I gathered some things, some food, a blanket, and a crook and headed out of the house.  As I was walking, all the other wives and girlfriends joined me as we headed up the hillside to see if the sheep were ok.  When we reached the spot where the sheep were, it was amazing.  Not a single sheep was missing, they were all together in a group grazing like there were being watched by an unseen guardian.  Having spent time on the hillside with the shepherds before we knew where to stand and how to watch the sheep.  We kept watch over the flock until our shepherds returned.  I sat and watched the night sky, every star in the sky moved as the night went on except for that star over Bethlehem.  I wish I had been able to go with him to see the new born baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger.  Maybe one day I will.

Monday, December 12, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 14: One of them Shepherds

In the later evening when the sun has set and the sheep are moving toward sleep, I like to lay on the hillside and watch the stars in the sky.  Sometimes they seem to shoot across the sky like they are falling.  It is such a neat thing to watch.  Tonight, I had some left over bread from dinner so I decided to snack while laying on the hillside taking my break with the other shepherds watching the sheep.  As I laid there I watched the stars grown brighter as the sun faded away.

I couldn't help but to notice tonight that there was a star that was much brighter than the others tonight.  It fact it seemed to but out such a bright light that it almost seemed to shine like the sun.  The star was in the direction of Bethlehem.  I know that because sometimes I go there to stay at this great Inn that has a pool out back.  There is also a great carpenter and his family there than can fix almost everything.  It is amazing to watch them work.

The light is interesting because it sort of shows you the way to Bethlehem.  I watched that star for awhile and it never moved unlike the other stars in the sky that seem to move as the night rolls on.  As I was watching that star, I started to fade into sleep.  It is a tiring job watching the sheep and I don't always get a couple of hours break.  I dozed off for a little while. 

I was awoken by a bright light and loud singing.  Brushing the sleep from my face I got to my feet with my crook in hand and spun around to see my fellow shepherds standing in awe at what looked to be a man in a white robe.  I hurriedly arrived by the side of my friends and looked on with amazement at this man with his what seemed to be glowing white robe. After starring at him for a few minutes on the us shepherds asked him who he was and what was he doing there.

The man smiled and told us that he was an angel.  He told us how a child was born in the City of David, Bethlehem tonight and that that child was the son of God.  He told us that he was in a stable wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger.  As he said this a host of angels surrounded him and praised God.  Honestly they said something about Glory to God, and that was about all I caught because even though he told me not to be afraid, I was shaking a lot and having trouble believing what was happening in front of me. 

After a few moments, all the angels were gone and we were left standing in the dark on the hillside.  The only light that could be seen was coming from the star that was over Bethlehem.  We talked about what just happened and decided that we needed to go see this baby for ourselves.  It is not everyday that angels appear on this hillside.  Heck we rarely ever get visitors.  It doesn't take long so we should make it there pretty quickly.  I just need to stop in town and tell my girlfriend where I am going.  Hopefully she will believe me.  Might have to leave the angels out of this discussion...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 15: My Shepherd Experience

Today we had the children's Christmas Pageant at church.  The kids did a wonderful job and were great! They are so cute and funny delivering the lines.  When I was a kid, I played a shepherd in our Christmas play.  I must of been a 2nd grader or 3rd grader when I played my starring role as Shepard number 3.  I only had one line in the entire play.  The play is called The Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever.  Basically the storyline is based on a church kids group putting on a Christmas pageant.  So we were a group of kids that were putting on a pageant that was about a group of kids putting on a pageant.

In my scene, the director was telling us shepherds that we needed to bring our father's bathrobes as our costumes for the pageant.  As she is asking this question, I am frantically raising my hand wanting to say something, she finally calls on me and my one line was:

"My dad doesn't wear a bathrobe, he walks around the house in his underwear."

I don't remember what her response was or what else I did besides help sing the songs.  I just remember my line because honestly it was really the only pageant that I was in or at least that I can remember.  I think it was really cool though that I got to play one of the shepherds.  I think the sheperd are such an important part of the story.  They are visited by an angel and they make their way to see Jesus.  They leave their sheep on the hillside and head to see the baby laying in a manger. 

They are humble people that make a meager living watching the sheep of the town or village that they live in.  It was often long hours of probably alone time as they had to watch and protect the sheep.  I feel that way sometimes when it comes to my Youth.  I am never alone but I always want to watch over them and protect them.  Although that was a side note, to me it is a statement that goes right along with the Christmas story.

I am their sheperd and they are my sheep.  My ultimate goal is to lead them to Jesus in every way possible.  If they follow me they will have Jesus as a part of their lives.  I think that just like the shepherd was led by the angel to see the baby Jesus and to worship and praise him.  My youth are led to Jesus to worship and praise him.  I think we all need to be shepherds for Christ, whether we are wearing our bathrobe or just our underwear!  It doesn't matter to him what we wear as long as we lift him up and worship him.  May we continue to remember that through this holiday season!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 16: The Manger

A manger is a feeding troth that is used to feed animals. It could have any kind of food in it from hay to pig slop to feed the pigs.  The manger is often associated with the Christmas story because Jesus was put in a manger when he was born.  It makes it sound so wonderful and glamorous, but it's not.  It is dirty, it is where leftover food from the animals would of been, and I am sure that it smelled and was never cleaned.

Mary and Joseph had no other choice than to accept the room in the stable and therefore everything that came with it.  They would of made a bed out of the hay and the noises of the animals would of been all around them.  The donkeys, cattle, and sheep would of helped to keep them warm at night.  Who knows how long they had to stay in the stable but when it came time for Mary to give birth they had to have a place to put the baby.  I am sure Joseph or the Inn Keeper's wife would of filled the manger with hay and made it as comfortable as possible for the baby.  They wrapped him in clothing before laying him in the manger.

When the different people were told of the new born king and came to see him, he was not in a fancy crib or a rich house.  He was in a stable and laying in a manger.  That adds a little more to the story because it shows us that Jesus was an everyday person.  Through his humble beginnings we get a glimpse into the life of our savior.  He went from humble beginnings and laying in a manger to dieing on a cross.  Is it ironic that both the beginning of his life and the end of his life involved wood in some way?  Were they both made from the same type of wood? 

Cyprus is a very common wood during that time, so maybe both the cross and the manger were made from Cyprus.  Does that have significance?  I don't know for sure.  This Christmas season has been a blessing to me as I work through my 25 days of Christmas.  When we think of the Christmas Story, we need to remember that Jesus started his life in a stable and more importantly in a manger.  He started a life in a manger that feed animals which is very symbolic because Jesus fed the world.  He was and is the bread of the world.

This is my body, broken for you, do this in remembrance of me...

Friday, December 9, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 17: Little Drummer Boy

I was so excited today when I got back from helping my uncle in the fields.  My father gave me a present.  It was a little drum he had using cow hide for the top and bottom.  Last week he caught me banging on some of the pots and water containers in the house. Dad said I had really good rhythm but mom thought otherwise and wanted me out of her kitchen.  I went into our sleeping room and banged out a beat on the floor.  I wish I had written some of it down.  My dad stood in the doorway and watched me with a big smile on his face.

I was covered in dirt when I came in the front door and my dad was standing there grinning from ear to ear.  He was holding something behind his back.  I was so surprised when it brought it around from his back and it was a drum.  I grabbed it out of his hands and hugged him tight.  He told me to make sure I practiced and that it was probably smart if I did it somewhere other than the house because mom would be mad at the noise. I of course didn't listen and began banging out a tune.  It had a strap around it that I could hang from my neck.  I marched around the room playing the drum.

Dad was right, mom came bursting into the room and told me if I didn't take the drum somewhere else she was going to take it from me.  I quickly ran for the front door and the street.  I walked up and down the street playing my drum.  It was so much fun but the neighbors kept yelling at me to keep it down.  I didn't want to, I wanted to bang it harder and louder so I went toward where the businesses are in town thinking that most of them would be closed for the evening.  I banged my drum there as well.  It was such a great melody that was coming from my little drum.  Again however, shop keepers told me to go somewhere else or stop playing that drum.

I walked toward the edge of town where the Inn is and I played me drum.  It was dark now but I didn't want to go home yet.  I wanted to play my drum more.  I was toward the back of the Inn where the stable is when I man and a woman on a donkey came around to the back of the Inn.  I was playing a beat when I saw them coming toward me.  I quickly stopped and started to walk away because I knew what they were going to say, but as I turned to walk away the man asked me to stop.  He called me little drummer boy and asked me if I would play a soothing beat on the drum because they had just been on such a long journey.  I smiled at the request and began to lightly tap on my drum.  The lady smiled at me as she started to get the stable ready for what looked like their bed for the night.  The man clapped along to my light tapping.  I played through my new song until the Inn Keeper's wife came out to take care of her newest customers.

She told me to run along.  The man told me I did a great job and asked if I would come back tomorrow and play. He also asked if I would play for the baby that his wife was having when it was born.  I of course said yes and hurried home to tell my dad.  As I ran home, I couldn't help but have this feeling that something amazing was happening or going to happen in Bethlehem and that I was going to be a part of it.  I couldn't wait to get back there tomorrow to play my drum again, because I was the little drummer boy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 18: The Donkey

This trip has been tougher than the normal trips from Bethlehem to Nazareth.  Normally I am carrying a pack with clothes and food and water for my master as he makes his trip to see his betrothed.  This time however, I am carrying his wife to Bethlehem so that they can be counted in the census.  For such a tiny women she sure is heavy. 

The road is rocky and very hilly.  In places there is barely room on the road for my master to walk next to us. He has to lead me along to make it through.  The days are hot and the nights are cold.  It is hard for me to make it long periods of time without stopping for a break.  My master does a great job of getting me water and food.  I don't know where he gets the hay from but it keeps me strong and moving.

There are long stretches of the trip where we walk in silence.  The master is concentrating on the road and although I am not sure because I can't see her I do believe that his wife is sleeping.  Every once in a while they will have a conversation and talk about where they are going and what they are going to do when they get there.  Every night when we make camp, I see them praying to God.  They are really thankful for something and but I can't seem to make out what it is for.  They keep me tied up a little ways away from the camp so it is hard to hear.

This trip normally takes about four or five days when it is just the master and me.  For some reason it seems to be taking closer to a week.  It is day six and we are running out of food and water.  I am starting to drag and as each day passes my passenger seems to be getting heavier and heavier. As the afternoon hits the sun is blazing and I can't go any further, I have to stop.  Master pulls at the rope but I am not budging.  We donkeys can be very stubborn.  As his wife is lifted off of me by my master, I fall to my knees.  Exhaustion has set in and I don't think I can make it any further.

I look up to see master's wife crying and him consoling her.  I look closer at them and for the first time I realize that she is pregnant.  I wondered why she was so heavy.  She continues to cry and I am not sure if it is for me or because they are stuck here if I can't continue.  I lift my head and with every ounce of strength I have I get to my feet or hooves.  I walk over and put my head down between master and his wife.  She looks up at me smiling.  I nudge her with my head and push her toward my back until she realizes that I want her to get back on.

She gets back on and we continue down the road.  We are going to make it Bethlehem because I just feel like there is something really important about this baby.  I will walk all day and night if I have to carrying this mother and child.  Maybe the baby is what the master and his wife have been praying about.  We will arrive safely in Bethlehem.  I will make sure of that!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 19: The Stable

When I was a young Cyprus sapling raised from a seed, my mother told us stories of the great Ark that Noah built and how many of our ancestors were honored to be used as the wood for that Ark.  My brother trees and I would often get in deep discussions about how we would end up being part of some great ship or building that would ultimately change the world.  We talked about how we would be such a valuable part of a structure so important that the stories about events that happened there could not be told without mentioning the structure itself.  We dreamed of the day we would be used to construct something important.

Many years passed and then one day some men came and chopped myself, my brothers, my mother, and some of the other trees down.  We were hauled off.  You can only imagine our excitement as we neared the town of Bethlehem.  What great and majestic structure would we help to create?  We couldn't wait, but alas, we were taken and placed behind some carpenters workshop in the little town of Bethlehem.  Most of us stayed there for years, sometimes being used to mend a fence or a roof of a local house.  Slowly my brothers and my mother disappeared and I was alone with some of the other trees from the forest. 

One day a local Inn keeper came to see the carpenter and told him that he wanted to expand his stable.  He explained how he wanted to make it bigger and more useful for his family as well as his guests.  A price was agreed upon and I was sold to the Inn keeper.  With the help of the carpenter, we created an addition to his stable.  It wasn't anything fancy, just some extended walls and a new roof to help keep the animals warm.  I was placed on the top of this stable and was used as a support beam for the roof. 

This was not where I was supposed to be.  I was bound for greatness.  I was supposed to be used as a magnificent finishing touch to a grand structure,  or the supporting beam of a ship or temple, not this tiny stable in the town of no wheresville Bethlehem.  Here I was though, at the top of a stable looking down on the donkeys, chickens, pigs, and that food troth, or what I believe they call a manger.

For a year I looked down upon the straw and hay, the donkeys and camels that visited the Inn.  I watched animals eat from the manger and even saw the Inn keeper come out and nap in the hay every once in a while.  It wasn't a very fascinating job but it was my job. 

One night however it got interesting. It was the week of the census that was being taken and a lot of former residents and their families came to Bethlehem.  The Inn was full, I could tell by all the donkeys that were in the stable and the loud noises that came from inside.  There was also extra hay in the stable because of the addition animals and people.  As it got dark outside, I noticed two people, a young man and his pregnant wife come around to the stable.  To my surprise, they put their donkey aside and started to make a bed out of the hay.  The Inn Keeper's wife came out and helped.  She brought food and soup, blankets and a lantern.  It was kind of exciting to actually have some people staying in the stable.

They both were really tired and fell asleep quickly.  I wonder if she will give birth in the stable.  I wonder if the baby will be important.  Could this be the reason why I was chosen to hold up this roof? 

Is this my shining moment, a part of this small stable in Bethlehem?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 20: The Inn Keeper's Wife

Things have been so crazy around here.  We are packed to roof with people.  I mean I literally saw people sleeping on the roof last night.  I warned my husband about this last year and told him to add an addition to the Inn but he wanted that stable.  We would have so much more room if he had added it and could fit even more people.  His brother added on to his Inn in Nazareth last year.  Maybe with the money from people staying here for the census we can get that nice carpenter family in town to add a new addition. 

For some reason there were people outside swimming in that hole in the ground behind the Inn that we use to water the donkeys.  They kept going on and on about the pool.  I wonder where they got the idea that we have a pool.  I made some bread and soup today and was able to sell a lot of it to our customers.  Maybe I could open a small restaurant next door to the Inn and call it No Room at the Inn.  We could advertise that since there is no room at the Inn for a restaurant that you should come next door for food and fun!  That would be neat but I already have my hands full running this Inn. 

My husband doesn't like to say No to people because he looks at the potential profit to be made by having them stay with us.  Well, that is not totally true, he also has a kind loving heart and he is a sucker for a smiling face.  This evening, he was finishing up some stuff and getting ready for bed when there was a knock at the door.  It was this kind young man.  I watched from the back of the room holding the lantern.  The man had his wife on a donkey.  I couldn't see her but I heard him say that she was pregnant.  My husband told them that there was no room in the Inn.  The man was very kindhearted and asked if there was any place they could stay.  My husband told them that it wasn't much but they were welcome to stay in the stable in the back of the Inn.  I smiled a little when he said it although I was terrified that they would be sleeping in the elements.  I was just happy he offered them somewhere to stay.

After my husband closed the door I went over and kissed him on the cheek and told him what a wonderful thing he had done.  He hugged me and said that it was all that he could do and was sorry there wasn't more room.  I told him I was going to get them some blankets and and a lantern.  I quickly gathered the blankets, a lantern and some leftover soup and bread and took it out to them.  The wife was a beautiful young girl and the husband a strapping young man.  I helped to get them settled and made a bed out of hay and blankets for them to sleep.  I gave them the soup and bread and tended to their donkey so that they could rest.  They were so thankful for everything but so tired for the long journey from Nazareth. 

I keep telling people we need a camel express line for here to Nazareth but no one ever listens to me.  Sorry, sometimes I get on a soapbox.  Anyway, they curled up together and before I left the stable, the young man was asleep.  The woman thanked me again and closed her eyes. 

I wonder when she will give birth.

Monday, December 5, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 21 The InnKeeper

This week has been crazy.  I don't think this Inn has ever been so full.  So many people have come to Bethlehem because of the census.  I have families of 10 or more in rooms that fit 2 people.  It is a good thing we don't offer free continental breakfast because I don't know how I would feed all these people.  One person did get mad because the ditch in the back of the Inn that we fill with water doesn't look like the pool in the brochure, but I fixed that with a complimentary sandal cleaning and a free copy of Bethlehem weekly magazine.   I think they were pretty happy. 

We don't have any more space in the Inn but I think there are a lot more people that will be coming in and needing a place to stay.  I wish I had listened to my wife and built that addition last year.  She said she thought a census would be coming soon, but no I didn't listen.  Instead I upgraded the stable so that people had a place to keep their donkeys and we would have a safe warm place to keep our animals in the winter time.  It does stay pretty warm year in there but I could never rent it out because it is so small.  I guess I could call it a studio apartment and get a few coins for it, but who would want to stay outside with the pigs, sheep, goats, and donkeys? 

Today started out as any other day.  I did my chores, went and got water from the well for our guests to clean themselves, fed the animals and worked through the books.  There is some nice income coming in, but there is no privacy in this Inn.  I actually took a nap out in the hay today just to get some peace and quite.  The funny thing is with all the people in here it smells worse in here than in the stable and that is saying a lot.  I can't wait till people are counted for the census and go back to where they came from.  I am getting a little claustrophobic.  It is so hot in here.  I think I will go for a walk.

Tonight as I was finishing up a few things and getting ready to head to bed, there was a knock at the door.  I went and answered it and this really nice young man was standing there.  Behind him was a beautiful young pregnant woman sitting on a donkey.  He asked me if there were any rooms available and showed me the frequent renters card he had from my brother's Inn in Nazareth.  It looks like he goes up there a lot either on business or to visit.  I usually honor these cards because my brother honors my cards.

Sadly I couldn't offer him a room because there was literally no space in the Inn.  He was very persistent and stated that his wife was about to give birth.  He asked so politely.  I had to tell him no again but I told him about my recent nap in the stable and told him that if he was truly desperate he could stay in the stable.  I told him I wouldn't charge him since he had the card and all I had available was a drafty stable with lots of animals.  He was so very grateful and thanked me several times.  He then took hold of the donkeys harness and led it around to the back of the Inn to the stable.  I smiled and said good night as I shut the door. 

I hope they sleep well tonight and don't get too cold.  I will make sure I go out to check on them in the morning, but for now it is so late and I am so tired, I am headed to bed.  Tomorrow will be another long day, an Innkeeper's work is never done!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 22 Bethlehem

Joseph and Mary have to take a long journey to Bethlehem because of a tax census that his being taken. It was probably a very hard trip with a pregnant Mary but they were able to arrive safe in sound.  Bethlehem is Joseph's home town.  He works there as a carpenter fixing things like roofs and doors.  He is a handy man in a city that probably had between 500 and 1000 people.  This probably would of made it hard to find work sometimes. 

As they approach the city, Joseph probably has a realization.  He realizes that with everything going on, the baby, the angel, the census, that he forgot to contact his family to let them know he was coming home with Mary and needed a place for the two of them to stay while they were there to be counted.  Because he forgot to do this, I am sure that a lot of his relatives have come into town to be counted in the census.  After such a long trip he probably went from door to door visiting the family that is already there and asking if they can stay there.

Of course the family would have to turn them down because there was no where to sleep or for that matter have a baby.  All the their relatives houses were filled with friends and other relatives that have come for the census.  If he would of called first or sent word that they would need a room, people would of known.

The other thing that might of kept him out of relatives houses is the fact that Mary was with child and that would of been a hard thing to explain to your relatives.  You know how hard it is to talk to relatives.  Nothing gets by them, they seem to notice anything that is different or ark just the right questions to get information.  Who would of believe Mary and Joesph when they said that she was pregnant with the son of God.  How crazy would of that been to explain.  It took an Angel to tell both Joseph and Mary about the situation.  I am sure that Grandpa Saul or Grandma Rebecca might of had a hard time believing or understanding that! 

So here they are in Bethlehem and they don't have a place to stay.  Joseph didn't make a reservation at the inn.  A pregnant Mary who is exhausted from riding a donkey and Joseph who has walked all this way and whos feet are tired and probably badly in need of a pedicure.  After they tired all his relatives houses, they are standing at the end of the road looking down at the inn.  Joseph decided that even though the census is happening and a lot of people are in town, he would try to see if he could get a last minute room at the inn. 

I wonder what the Inn Keeper thought and said to him?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 23 The Census

After Joseph's visit from the angel and his acceptance that Mary was pregnant with the Son of God, he found out that there was a census being taken and that he needed to return to Bethlehem with his wife to be counted for the census.  This census was ordered by Cesar Augustus for taxation purposes. This would of been a very long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  Mary being pregnant would only make this trip harder. 

When you take in all the factors that would be involved in this trip, it is amazing that they even made it to Bethlehem.  We believe that Mary rope on a donkey while Joseph walked leading them along the road.  The road would of been bumpy and hard on the pair as they traveled.  It would of not been easy for Mary if she hadn't been pregnant but she was and who knows what it would of been like. 

I have taken plenty of long youth trips with the girls of youth group and one thing that takes place on all those trips are bathroom breaks.  OK, I have to take them for myself too, but again with the pregnancy I am sure that they made more than one stop along the way.   On top of that you might have had morning sickness or even motion sickness.  They would have had to stop for that as well. 

When a women is pregnant they have a tendency to have weird food cravings that make them want certain foods in combinations that you might never heard of.  Joseph may have been made to stop to find some foods that he may never thought he would of had to find.  This would again tack on time to their journey. 

Although I joke about all of these things that might of happened, it is true that this journey to Bethlehem was tretrious and without Enterprise rent a car or Southwest, who doesn't charge bag fees for the baby bag they had to carry, it was a hard, long walk.

But Joesph was able to lead them to Bethlehem safe and sound.  Unfortunately he forgot to make his reservations through Priceline or Expedia so they didn't have a room when they arrived.  They had to find a place quickly because it was nearly time to Mary to give birth.  What would they do?

Friday, December 2, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 24: Awkward Conversation!

After Gabriel meets with Mary and tells her the wondrous glorious news, he leaves and Mary is then set with the task of telling Joseph what is going to happen.  After the visit from Gabriel, Mary goes to visit Elizabeth. She probably does this because she doesn't know how in the world she is going to tell Joseph the news that she is pregnant with the son of God.  Elizabeth is so excited for her  and she helped to fill Mary with excitement and love. 

Maybe some of conversation was whether the conversation with Joseph should be indirect or direct.  Maybe they talked about not telling him at all.

"Maybe he won't notice because he is so busy with his carpentry work,"  said Elizabeth.

 "That is something that would be pretty hard to miss," said Mary. 

"How about you just sort of slip it into conversation.  Fix him a nice meal, have him lounge in front of the fire in his favorite recliner while you finish cleaning up, get him a cup of warm goats milk and rub his head.  While he is relaxed and enjoying himself, with his eyes closed, just slip in oh by the way, I am pregnant with the Son of God and you are going to be a Dad, see you tomorrow and walk out of the house," suggests Elizabeth.

"No, I don't think that's it either" says Mary.

Ultimately  Elizabeth and Mary knew that Mary had found favor with God and that this was a wondrous joyful thing that Joseph would ultimately see and praise the Lord for the wonderful gift he had been given.

Still it would of been interesting to see what that initial awkward conversation was like.  What if they had reality TV back then?  Mary comes home, who knows if she is showing at this point, finds Joseph and they have the conversation.  Joseph looks at Mary and says something about her eating well while she was at Elizabeth's house. Although this was a dig at Mary's weight, let's remember you should never say something like that to a pregnant woman, she was probably very direct with Joseph.

Mary would of told Joseph that an Angel of the Lord came down to her and told her that she was pregnant with the Son of God.  She probably didn't beat around the bush like some people do.  I wonder if Joseph's first reaction was something like a scene from an episode of Jerry Springer.  It would of been so hard for him to believe.  If he could of he would of asked for a paternity test.  This was probably a long conversation with Joseph trying to find a way out of his relationship with Mary. 

It takes an angel coming to Joseph in his dreams to help he understand and fully accept Mary's explanation.  It is only fair that he had the divine birth announcement just like Mary.  He became excited and joyful that he was going to be the father of the Son of God, that is until he realized that there was going to be a census and he would have to take a pregnant Mary on a long donkey trip.  You know how pregnant women are on long trips.  Stopping for the bathroom or exotic food cravings.

 I wonder how that went?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 25: The Angel

26: God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a decendant of David.  The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angle went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are hightly favored!  The Lord is with you."

                                                                                                              -Luke 1:26-28
God calls Gabriel to him to have a discussion.  During this discussion he explains to Gabriel that he is to go down to the town of Nazareth and tell a virgin there named Mary that she is pregnant with the son of God.  I am sure that Gabriel didn’t question God’s request at all but can you imagine what must have been going through Gabriel’s mind?  Who knows what kinds of feelings and emotions angels have.  They might not have any and just go about the work they are told to do, but then again, they might have a say or at least an opinion about what they are asked to do.
Here is what I would be saying to myself if I had been Gabriel and had to deliver this news. 
(Remember this is just my thoughts):
I am supposed to go down to earth.  Fly on in to good old Mary’s house.  Scare the heck out of her through that action alone and then stand there and tell her that not only is she, a virgin, pregnant but that the baby is the son of God and she has to name him Jesus.   She doesn’t even get to pick the name.  What if she wanted to call him Bubba or Frank.  I guess Bubba sitting at the right hand of God wouldn’t be a good name.  Jesus is probably the best name. 
I know that we just recently helped Elizabeth to have a baby at her age, but at least she is married.  Poor Joseph, not only does he have the stress of getting married but now he has to raise a kid that isn’t his.  I am sure he will do a wonderful job but is he going to believe Mary when she tells him what happened?  One can only imagine what he might think or say.  I might have to make a bonus flight over to his house and tell him what is going on.  It would be cool if I could do that in a dream sequence because I haven’t visited anyone in their dreams in a long time.  I might have to check with the big guy first and see what thinks, we may want to play it out and see what happens with Mary talking to him first.  If there are issues, either I or another angel could go have a chat with the groom to be. 
Well, I guess I should get ready for the fight.  Do I get frequent flyer points if I have to make more than one trip down?  I should, those things rack up and I could get a new harp with the points.  That old one I have has a couple of broken strings.  Or maybe I could get…. Oh wait, I need to go, I’m wasting time.  It’s off to Mary’s house!

I think it probably went more like this:
Gabriel goes to see Mary.  I envision this being at night.  Maybe Mary gets up to get a drink of water in the night and has to go out to the town well to fetch water.  As she walks to the well, the wind howl, sand starts swirl around her and it becomes so thick she can’t see.  The wind knocks her down and sends her water container crashing to the ground.  A bright light appeared and through the sand and wind, all Mary can make out is the shadow of a figure standing in front of this bright light.  The wind dies down and the sand stops, Mary gets to her feet and sees that before her stands an angel of the Lord.  The conversation starts with Gabriel explaining to her that she is highly favored and that the Lord is with her. 
From there the conversation between Gabriel and Mary would continue.  After Gabriel leaves, that would leave Mary with one of the hardest things she would have to do, outside of being the mother of the Son of God, telling Joseph.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Well, I took a couple of weeks off to get over my sickness and enjoy the holidays.  I was pretty good over the holidays but it is time to start back!  Tomorrow I will kick off with my exercise program, eating program, and my daily blog updates!  Tomorrow I will start my 25 days of Christmas blog series.  Each day I will write a blog about a character involved in the Christmas story whether they are written into the story or not.  you will see what I am talking about when I write it :)  It will be fun and thought provoking all at the same time!  Thanks so much for following my blog! 

Time to get things going again!  I missed writing everyday!  Have a good night!  See you tomorrow!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Just a game

Last night was the coldest football game that I have ever been to.  It was below 20 degrees with the wind chill when the game was over.  Virginia Tech won but they definitely tried to give the game away!  It was not a pretty football game.  In fact, this is the first football game that I have ever left halfway through the 4th quarter.  Carolina scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make the game close.  It was an exciting finish and a little too close for comfort. 

When we got home I watched the highlights to the game.  Carolina scored first and with about 3 minutes left in the first quarter they have the ball on our five yard line ready to score another touchdown.  If they had put that ball in the end zone, they would of put that game out of reach.  The short yardage running back came into the game and he was given the hand off.  He ran in toward the goal line and when he was hit by the defender, he fumbled the football.  Virginia Tech recovered the ball and we were able to start a drive down the field to score a touchdown to tie the game.

As I watched this again on TV something caught my eye and my heart.  After the fumble they flashed to the sideline to show the quarterback for Carolina embracing the running back after the fumble.  Another shot then showed the running back with tearing running down his face.  The minute I saw that, I was reminded that this is just a game and those are college students.  They are not payed to play the game.  They are out there working for their education.

I felt bad for him.  Carolina really was in charge of the game, they were going in for a score when he fumbled.  He probably felt like he let the whole team down.   He made up for it later in the game, but that picture of his face, with all his football gear on and his helmet in his hand is burned in my head.

I love football, I even watch other games besides Virginia Tech.  I want Tech to win so badly that it is easy to forget about the fact that there are people out there that want the same thing for their team.  I wonder sometimes if we place too much emphasis on the game and not enough on the college kids. 

You could easily take that crying football player and put him in many different situations that would make you feel more sympathetic to the fact that he is crying.  Like if he was at a funeral for a loved one, lost a family member that was a troop, starving from hunger, or searching for help to problems that he has.  It changes some because he was on a football field and crying because he lost a football, but we should just remember that he's just a kid.

We should all remember that the next time something happens in a football game that benefits our team but is detrimental to the other team.  We never know who it is going to affect and what the long term effects are of it!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Game Day!

For only the second time this year i am in Blacksburg to see the Hokies play.  It has been an up and down season but I have been pleasantly surprise this year.  Although I want to win this game as always!  We will still have a chance to win the coastal division by beating Virginia if you lose to Carolina.  I am just going to try and enjoy the game and the 35 degree weather.  It could be a really exciting game.  I hope we show up.

I love game day but its the anticipation that kills me.  I can't wait for the game to start. I want to hurry the day along so that we can get to the game.  Not that the hours before the game are a waste, but I want so badly to see the game and cheer on my Hokies!  It will be exciting when game time gets here but at the same time, it will quickly be gone.  Three hours sitting in the freezing cold and watching the Hokies not play to their potential.  There will be frustrating times and exciting times.  It may be a great night or a huge disappointment.

Often in life we have these situations come up, whether it is a concert, going the amusement park, a movie you can't wait to see, sporting events, or other activities.  We want to rush through life to get to these events and we waste time.  We don't pay attention to the time that we have before the game or event.  We need to slow down sometimes and realize that the time before a game or event is just as important to us as the actual event.

Get excited for events and games, but be excited about life in general.  Don't allow it to get away from you or miss out on opportunities or hours in the day.  We only get so many of them.  Do something fun, or productive in the time you have before your big event.  I am getting ready to take Coleen and Shannon on a tour of Blacksburg, Virginia.  That should be fun and exciting as well as spending time with people I care about! 

I can't wait for the game!  Go Hokies at 8pm tonight! Until then let's go Coleen, Eric, and Shannon! 

No time to waste!

Have it Your Way

This past weekend some youth and I had lunch at Burger King.  Burger King has the tag line, "Have it your way."  The first couple of order went fine but then Sarah stepped up to the register and asked for the garden salad and a large fry.  The lady behind the counter snapped at her and said "We don't have salads!"  I was standing behind Sarah and this threw me because looking up at the menu above me there was a huge add for the Garden salad.  Sarah just got some fries and a drink.  I placed my order and then Selena stepped up behind me and placed her order.  She asked them to mix chocolate and strawberry in a shake for her.  Again, the lady snapped at her and stated "we CAN'T do that."  I just sort of stared at her and then my order came.

We talked about it at dinner.  It was interesting to listen to them discuss how disappointing it was to not get what they wanted for dinner. Our pastor recently spent some time talking about how people want it their way. He actually showed a Burger King commercial during the service.   There was also a clip called the ME church which was a fake commercial about what the church would do to get members to come. 

I think too often we get caught up in the its all about me scenario.  This seems to happen because advertisers and businesses what us to buy their products, so them make it seem like we can have it any way we want.  The reality of this is actually pretty harsh because honestly, very often we don't get it the way we want to.  Often, it is the exact opposite and we have to deal with the it.  Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it is a bad thing.  What we want may not always be the good thing for us or the people that are important to us.  We may think it is but often we are wrong.

I have said that God doesn't give us what we want, he gives us what we need and it is up to us to figure out how to make that work.  That may seem wrong but honestly, we don't need it our way.  The me factor of life often needs to take a back seat.  Of course when it comes to things like deciding where to go out to eat, or what movie to see, you are going to choose something you want to eat or something you want to watch.  Where you get your hair cut or car worked on are other good examples of the me factor.

When it comes to a decisions that effect others around us or groups in general, that is when we need to put the me factor to the side and work for the common good.  It is easy to forget what is best for the group when it comes to our own needs.  It would be easier to work about ourselves.  The selfless people in the world live much richer lives that the selfish. 

So you many want a hamburger or fries with that, but what about the person on the corner with nothing to eat?  They may just want some rice or ramen.  It's up to us to choose to selfless or selfish. 

Do you have to have it your way?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Giving Thanks...

Next Thursday, families all over the United States will be sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner.  A time of food and family that marks the beginning of the holiday season.  A time when we eat more than we should, watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, NFL football, and that night Christmas movies.  We see family members maybe for the first time all year.  Yep it is a great day right?  A day full of food, fun, and that 3:00 after too much turkey nap.   

I think what gets lost in the shuffle is the giving thanks part.  Although Thanksgiving isn’t a religious holiday, there wasn’t a turkey in the stable, it is still a time when we can give thanks to God for everything we have.  Life goes by pretty fast, we go to church on Sunday, we attend bible studies, Sunday school, and other church functions, but do we actually stop to thank God for everything we have?  Do we really?  Yes, we pray every week in church but does that allow you enough time to thank God for everything you have?  I know that I get caught up in a lot of things when I pray.  I pray for healing for myself and others, to sell my house, to help me with issues and problems, to reveal himself to me, I ask for things when I pray, I ask for forgiveness and love, I ask him to watch over me, and I talk to him about life.

The thing is I don’t think that I really just spend some time in the presence of God and thank him for everything he has given me.  A time to be in deep conversation with my Lord and tell, “Thank you” for my life, that is truly what we need to do.   I want to thank him for the people he has put in my life.  For my friends who are by my side when I need them most.   My youth that provide me with daily smiles, love in my heart, and teach me something new every day.  My job that allows me to do something that I love and get paid to do it.  My co workers who support me and the youth program with loving open arms.  I want to thank him for my mother and father for their love, support, trust, and compassion.  For my brother and sister in law who I don’t get to see much but think of them often.  For all the parents that support our program and watch over each of our youth as if they were their own.

I want to thank God for the abilities he has given me, for the video making skills and the love and passion to use it.  For the awesome ability he gave me to do my job and love every minute of it.  I want to thank him for the roof over my head, the car that gets me from point A to point B.  For the food on my table even though I eat too much sometimes.  I want to thank God for the shoes on my feet and clothes on my back.  I want to thank God for the compassion heart he gave me that makes me cry at the end of movies or after reading a sad or happy story.   I want to thank God for the blank pages of my book, and the ability to fill them with anything that I want too.

There are so many things that I am thankful for, the problem is that I have never sat down and thanked God for it all.  Writing this blog entry I have been able too, but it’s not enough.  I want to encourage you to take the time and energy on Thanksgiving day to show your loving and thankful heart to God.  Take some time to pray and mention even the smallest of things that you are thankful for.  Let him know how much you love him by praising him for what he has given you.  I will eat turkey and watch football.  I will watch the parade and start to think about Christmas, but most of all, I will thank God for his never ending, all encompassing, unbreakable love that he has for me, and I encourage you to do the same because that love he has for me is the same love he has for you.