All posts in Holiday

It’s Not Just a Hallmark Event

I love Christmas as much as the next middle-aged, menopausal, woman. But perhaps I don’t love it for the same reasons as most.

Christmas isn’t just about Hallmark, or gifts, or Black Friday, or Cyber Monday.

You know what I am going to say next…

It’s about Jesus.

But I am not even sure, when I mention His name, we are thinking about the same person. Yes, Jesus was born in a manger and it makes a terrific story, and a great nativity scene with cute little lambs, staffed shepherds, and mysterious wise men.

Here is what I celebrate. Jesus came as a baby yes, but He came to die.

That is the real story.

Humor me a bit with a long Scripture passage from the New Living Translation:

Christ Is Supreme

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

All those inspired words are great, but I would like you to pay special attention to the last verse. God reconciled and made peace with us by means of Christs’ death on the cross. That is great news.

Why?

I’d like to give you an example from a sermon I heard from J D Greer. He asked the listener to imagine themselves with binoculars on a hill observing a terrorist camp. You knew their plan was to devastate thousands of innocent people. You watched them practice use of their guns, and even may have seen a form of torture, but when they all sat down to have lunch. One of the terrorists noticed his buddy didn’t have anything to eat. This generous terrorist cut his sandwich in half and shared it with his buddy.

In any other circumstance his act of sacrifice would be considered good.

But not in this situation. The over-arching-evil somehow negates the good.

The human race is that generous terrorist. The Bible states we are born in sin. Enemies of God. And He is just and right to condemn us because compared to Him, our meager good is like filthy rags.

And then God Himself comes as a baby to die on a cross.

That is the Christmas I celebrate.

I hope you do, too.

Over the next few weeks, on Fridays, I’d like to talk with you more about Jesus as a Prophet, Priest, and King. I hope you will join me in celebrating Christmas that is much more than trees or ornaments or presents.

Let us celebrate the real reason for the season.

How’s Your Voice

“All human beings have an almost infinite capacity to take things for granted.”

Aldous Huxley

If you can wade through the blow up Santa’s, 5000 different kinds of Christmas lights, and fake trees, you may be able to find a few token Thanksgiving items.

The Salvation Army even starts ringing the bell for the famous red kettle before the last Thursday in November.

But Thanksgiving is important. Not just one day a year, but every day, especially for followers of Christ.

Sunday, our pastor spoke from Luke 17. Ten lepers cry out to Jesus from far away. Grotesque, smelly, voices raspy and weak from the disease, they beg, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

And He does. In fact, He tells them to go and show themselves to the Priest, and as they obeyed, they were healed. Nine of the ten continued on their way, ecstatic over their physical healing. After approval from the High Priest, finally, they could eat a meal with their loved ones, sleep in their own bed, and worship in the temple.

Physically healed, they were satisfied.

Here is what Scripture states about one of the lepers,

“Then one of the, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16.

Turned back is another word for repentance in the Bible. Turning from our own way, we turn to Christ for salvation–for healing. This man knew there was more to Jesus than the healer.

Then, he cried to Jesus with a loud voice. Not only were his sores healed, but his voice became strong once again. With that new, strong voice, he began to praise God.

After he returned to Christ, he fell at Jesus feet gave thanks, and worshiped.

Christs’ response is surprising. He asks three questions of the crowd, pointing out that the man is a foreigner from the half-breed Samaritans. Jesus also notices that nine were healed and only one came back to give thanks.

But it is His last statement that is astounding. “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

All ten experienced healing in this life, but only one was saved for eternity.

How’s your voice? Is it raspy and weak? Is your body infected with sin. If so, you need healing. And the healer waits. John 6:37 states, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Some need physical healing, but all of us need spiritual healing. Friend, don’t let Him wait any longer, Turn back, repent, worship and be healed.

Those of us who have experienced the transforming work of the gospel in our lives, use your strong voice to praise. Give thanks. Don’t take that miraculous salvation for granted!

So duck under those fresh cedar trees, get to those Thanksgiving plates, and when you sit down to your meal this Thursday, really, really, give thanks.

A blessed Thanksgiving from a very very close-up shot of the Hyltons. (Couldn’t delete it…please don’t look at the wrinkles.)

Where is Waldo? Michael’s Replaced Him

Is it just me, or is Michael Strahan–like Waldo–on every channel at all times of the day or night?

I don’t watch a lot of TV. My mom owns our only one. It’s mounted in her 10 by 13 square foot room. So to watch the TV, Tom and I have to sit on her wheelchair, or wall hugger, or hospital bed.

Sports are our favorite and when I mention sports, I mean American football and American baseball. Rarely do we watch an entire game since we’re usually busy farming. So we satisfy ourselves with snippets of this and replays of that.

We commit to NCIS and reruns of it. Gibbs is timeless and Dinozzo is a hoot.

But since Mom has been weaker and needs more care and company, I’ve tuned in to Kelly and Michael. I have to admit, I love them. If I were on their show and took the quiz of identifying other actors and actresses for $50 a shot, I’d have to declare bankruptcy since I’m clueless.

But I can identify them. Especially Michael.

I enter Mom’s room while her other caregiver is there. Who do I see but Michael, happy to have a good tasting laxative bar. Or he’s chowing down on a footlong. On Sundays, he’s commentating on the game–giving his opinion about this player and that team. And he’s good.

In the evening, I peek in on Mom and there’s the spot about St. Jude’s hospital. Michael’s smiling with the signature space between his teeth. He makes me smile.

Smiling is important.

So is laughing. Kelly and Michael make me laugh. And laughing is essential. Especially if you’re caregiving. Or at a difficult job. Or in a hard marriage. You may be coming to the end of your life, like my 94-year-old mama and need a good chuckle. Kelly and Michael will give it to you if you still have your hearing.

Today is New Year’s. Since it’s below 30, farming has come to a screeching halt except for feeding the chickens, pigs, and dogs. So TV is on my to-do list.

I’ll begin with the Rose Bowl Parade, then I’ll flip to college football. Michael might show up on the screen. And then there’s NCIS reruns all day. So I might catch a few episodes of those. I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael becomes the fourth member of Gibb’s team.

The man is everywhere! Michael, do you sleep?

Kelly and Michael, keep it clean, and thanks for making America smile.

We need it.

A Romantic Gift Idea for Christmas

Hello All! Christmas is approaching but I haven’t put up a tree or decorations. I’m gonna get busy, but for now, you can plan your own private holiday celebration with your spouse. NowU Online Magazine has a short gift idea I wrote. It’s about a special night Tom planned for me.

Check it out at:

http://www.nowu.com/article/connect/gifts-of-a-lifetime-romance-at-home/20322181/

A Girls Trip to Paris

So finally, I had a chance to write about my mystery trip to Paris. I hope you enjoy!

http://www.nowu.com/article/travel/two-moms–two-daughters-take-on-the-city-of-love/20257061/