Archive for the 'Holidays' Category

Happy 4th of July!

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On July 2, 1776, the American Colonies legally separated from Great Britain by a vote of the Second Continental Congress in closed session, approving a resolution of independence. The day before, in a letter written to his wife, John Adams predicted,

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

So how come we celebrate on the 4th? Because having voted for independence, the same congress immediately went on to draft a formal explanation of their decision and didn’t complete and approve it until the 4th. Since that date is clearly evident on the document itself, which itself had been widely publicized, by the time the next year came round it was the 4th of July that stuck in Americans’ collective memory, not the 2nd, and thus, that is the day we have celebrated our freedom ever since.

 

Who Will Call Him King of Kings?

I LOVE this song, written and first sung by Sandi Patty way back in… well, a long time ago! I especially love it for Easter, and thus I’ve posted it as my “Happy Easter” to you all. I put the lyrics first, the “video” second, since the latter is not a video, but a photo of her with the audio.

In cold despair
They’d laid Him in the tomb
The body of their Master fair
Third morning came
As they returned to pray
Light was shining everywhere
But Jesus’ body was not there

And as they gazed at an empty grave
The earth around began to shake
And they were so afraid
But voices of angels filled the air
Their shouts proclaimed “He is not here”
And you could hear them say

Who will call Him King of kings
Who will call Him Lord of lords
Who will call Him Prince of Peace
Such a wonderful counselor, Mighty God
Who will call Him King

Their spirits soared
As fear was turned to joy
Standing there before their eyes
Jesus clothed in radiant white

And with a voice they’d heard before
He told them “Go and tell the world that I’m alive”
They ran as fast as feet could fly
“The Lord is risen” was their cry
And you could hear them say

We will call Him King of kings
We Will call Him Lord of lords
We will call Him Prince of Peace
Such a wonderful counselor, Mighty God

Just like He said
He is risen from the dead
And the people say

I will call Him King of kings
I will call Him Lord of lords
I will call Him Prince of Peace
Such a wonderful counselor, Mighty God
I will call Him King
I will call Him King
I will call Him King

The Confiscated Dog Toy

Since my eye is still giving me problems — ie, I can’t work on the computer for long without getting it all upset — I’m going to put up some photos for a day or so.

The first is a gift my daughter in law brought for Quigley the first year she met him. He was still a puppy. It’s an adorable dog toy Santa, with a squeaker in the hat and crinklies in the legs:

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Fortunately (for me, but not for Quigley) she was at my mother’s house when she gave it to us/him.  Quigley was still in the tear-everything-up stage at the time, and it was so cute, I decided to wait until he was more mature.

Well, he’s more mature now, and can actually have toys without tearing them to shreds in two minutes flat ( though he still has to be supervised). The problem is, he has weird saliva. It’s very gummy and sticky and thick and once he gets it on the toys… eeeeuwww!  So. I’m not yet ready to turn the cute Santa decoration into the slimed and gross Santa toy, so he sits on our bed. Every now and then Quigley eyes him hopefully, and I know he would LOVE to have him… but…

Maybe next year…

Give Thanks to the Lord

When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you…

… you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant, which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

OH, give thanks to the LORD, for HE is good; For his lovingkindness is everlasting…

Let us give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,

And for His wonders to the sons of men!

***

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

 

Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:10,18; Ps 107:8

4 July 2012

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~ John Adams*

Today, as we celebrate the freedoms we’ve enjoyed as a nation for over three hundred years, freedoms which seem to be eroding away because of the very elements Adams notes in the quote above, let us remember that while human freedom is weak because it depends on fallen humans for its maintenance, the spiritual freedom we have in Christ cannot be touched by anyone.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:17

*The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31

What Price Freedom?

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A lone U.S. Army bugler plays Taps at the conclusion of the First Annual Remembrance Ceremony in Dedication to Fallen Military Medical Personnel at Arlington National Cemetery, March 11, 2009

The following is excerpted from Freedom Through Military Victory by R.B. Thieme, Jr.,  Pastor of Berachah Church, 1950-2003:

“If a nation wishes to perpetuate inviolate the priceless privileges and blessings of independence, warfare is inevitable. Every generation must face the crucible of war.

Freedom is bought and paid for by the blood of individuals who set a higher value on their liberty than on life itself. If one generation is not prepared mentally and spiritually to defend such values, if enough individuals in a national entity reject the principle of freedom through military victory, liberty languishes.

Despite man’s zealous efforts to achieve freedom through peaceful means, wars will continue until the end of human history when Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, reigns on earth for one thousand years (Is 9:6 cf Eccl 3:8; Micah 4:1-3; Mark 13:7; Rev 20:4)…

Until then, any nation that desires autonomy, must maintain a military force trained and equipped for war.

The freedom the United States possesses has been purchased through the sacrifice and suffering of courageous men. We as a people have a right of self-determination because of military victory. We as Christians have the privilege to assemble in public worship services and to evangelize unbelievers without persecution courtesy of the military. Since 1776, we owe an immeasurable debt to all our gallant fighting forces, especially to those who gave their lives that we might remain a free people.”

Memorial day is a holiday set aside for us to remember the dedication and sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price for the many precious and amazing freedoms we still enjoy in these United States; and having remembered, to reaffirm our devotion to the cause for which they gave so much…

Liberty is a gift; nations whose people take it for granted, will eventually lose it.

Let us not lose by apathy, distraction, ignorance or political chicanery what so many of our men and women in uniform down through our history have giventheir lives to preserve for us.

 (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Released, acquired through Beverly & Jack’s Photostream, Creative Commons, Flickr)

Happy 2012!

Happy New Year everyone!

May 2012 be a year of continued blessing and growth for all of you.

I can hardly believe it’s been over a month since I last posted.

Then again it seems like forever since December began. A lot has happened since then. Last summer, after 30 years of submitting applications, my husband finally drew the single 2011 Desert Bighorn Sheep hunt permit for a unit in the eastern portion of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in southern Arizona. The season began December 1 and ended December 31. Since he will never get another chance to hunt Desert Bighorns,  he has since August been making the four-hour drive out to hike the arid, empty, forbidding lands of the Cabeza Prieta seeking to get a sense of where he might find the sheep.

As a man who’s always looking for adventure, he found it in spades.  In an area bordered on the south by Mexico and on the north by the Barry M Goldwater Bombing Range he encountered violent thunderstorms, and gale force winds, blazing heat, frigid cold, solitude, bad roads, dust storms, illegal smugglers of people, drugs and guns, the discovery of human remains, A-10 and F-15 fighter jets strafing and bombing the nearby range  in training runs that shook the air and ground for miles, and a never- ending parade of Border Patrol officers wanting to know what he was doing. With his access limited to three roads, each miles from the areas where the sheep were, and camping prohibited throughout most of the refuge, he faced a long walk out at the end of the day, no matter where he was.

And that was just the lead up. He worked his last day of work for 2011 right after Thanksgiving, taking off before opening day to prepare and get settled in his camping area before the season actually started. Five friends met him out there to help.  He was prepared to hunt the entire month if need be. I had no idea if we were even going to be able to do Christmas.

Plus, with my mother gone, my sister decided to stay in New Mexico, and with our son and daughter-in-law due to stay with her family in Tucson for the holiday, even apart from the hunt, Christmas 2011 was certain to be a radical departure from our accustomed traditions.

Since by the weekend of Dec 11th my hubby was still at it, I gave up on the idea of getting a tree, put up a small one in the piano and put Santa hats on the animal mounts we have in our living room.  Here’s our full sized Gould’s turkey with his tiny hat. It makes me laugh…

As it turned out the ram was taken over that same weekend,  and shortly thereafter my kitchen was co-opted for meat processing for about a week.  No Christmas baking to be done then!  Instead I spent the time working on the Christmas letter and ordering presents (first time in a loooong time we had to do so without lists!)

Once the butchering was done, my husband develped a weird staph infection under the skin of one of his fingers, so we were off to Urgent Care two days in a row right before Christmas. The treatment was a shot of antibiotics followed by a 10 day pill regimen of the same along with daily soakings in betadine and epsom salts. It’s better now, but for awhile it was very nasty — swollen, painful and after awhile black. (Which was really just a scab beneath the skin, though we didn’t know it at the time)

We ended up having the kids at our house for Christmas morning, then went over to join Kim’s family for the Christmas dinner that afternoon. It made for a very nice –and festive –holiday after all. I’m thankful they invited us!

Here’s Lily with her new stuffed puppy, which looks — ahem — a lot like Quigley. Imagine that…

Then we left for California to visit my 91-year-old stepmother (and her 92-year-old sister)  for three days and by the time we returned I was exhausted and had picked up a cold — most likely from the seven story hotel in which we stayed (on the seventh floor) (with Quigley) along with about 100 marching band members from Japan and their supporters, all of whom were apparently housed on the third floor!

But! on the way home New Year’s Eve, on the road somewhere between Yuma and Gila Bend around 8:15pm we saw the New Year’s Eve meteor!  It had nothing to do with the Quadrantid meteor shower that was supposed to begin  on the 3rd, but was instead a random meteorite from somewhere out by Jupiter.

It started as a bright light coming at us out of the east. What in the world???Then it sprouted a tail that turned green with red around the edges and we realized it was a meteor. It looked like it was going to crash into the ground right beside the highway, but just before it did, the head vanished and the tail slowly faded. Turns out it wasn’t that close, but streaking low on the horizon, visible to people in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. Others also thought it was going to hit the ground or a building, but we were all deceived I guess by how bright and low on the horizon it was. Fantastic experience. We could hardly believe we’d seen it. It’s the first one I’ve ever seen, apart from the little white streaks way way up in the sky from “shooting stars.” If only I’d had the camera out and ready I might have been able to get a shot.

Instead, I’ll have to settle for this picture from Wikipedia that shows what a bolide looks like. It’s very similar to what we saw. Ours had a fatter, greener tail. Still — Very Cool! And it seems symbolic somehow, though I haven’t figured out how, yet.

Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us and not we ourselves.
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations.
~Psalm 100

Happy Thanksgiving!

(I’ll be back next week with Part 3 of my Journal Entry series)

Halloween

Years ago, in the distant past, when I was a young girl, I couldn’t imagine not wanting to go trick or treating on Halloween. I fretted ab0ut growing up and not being able to do it any more, because it wasn’t a thing “grown-ups” did. I loved running around in the dark from house to house, especially when one of the houses was “spooky”. I loved the wind, the dark scary shapes, the huge orange orb of a full moon. Oh what a sacrifice that was going to be, not to be able to do that. In fact, I thought, maybe I would never give it up!

Later, as a Christian and mother, and Sunday school teacher, I hosted Halloween parties at our house for the Sunday school kids and their friends. They dressed up, dunked for apples and played other games, ate pizza and then I and some other moms escorted them about the neighborhood so they could run in the dark from house to house and enjoy the scary effects some of the neighbors devised. (Too scary in some cases — one man, dressed as a gorilla with glowing eyes, came to the door to hand out candy and my son wasn’t having a thing to do with that… WAY too scary for him at his very young age.)

It was a time to get together, dress up, play games, carve pumpkins and run about in the night geting candy. Harmless. We all knew what we believed with regard to the spiritual realm and it wasn’t like we were worshiping the devil or anything. It was just a fun, cultural thing….

And yet…

And yet as the years have passed my acceptance became ambivalence and lately, the ambivalence is turning to active dislike.

I read an article the other day that  Halloween is now the second biggest holiday celebration — in terms of money making —  in this country, second only to Christmas. (There’s something disturbing about that juxtaposition.) When I went looking, I couldn’t find that particular article, but turned up another, written today (Sunday, Oct 30) that cites the National Retail Association as their source for this same claim. According to Neilson research, we’ll buy about 600 million pounds of candy for this day, and spend even more decorating our homes and buying/making costumes.

People say we love Halloween so much because we’re still kids inside. Because we love to dress up. Because it’s a time to be together, something to do as a family. As a neighborhood.

Others say everyone loves to be scared.  Sorry, no. I detest being scared. I detest having horrid, bloody images burned into my brain that will float around with me for years. Which is why I won’t go near the chain saw massacre haunted house things. But those are huge money makers as well.

Yes, I did say above that I liked spooky houses, but that’s fake spider webs with fake spiders in them, grinning jack-o-lanterns, shadows, fake bats, spooky ridiculous music, and glowing eyes that are electric and not set in the skull of some powerful predator slowly stalking me. In other words, it’s really fake-scary. I like pretending something is scary. I have no use at all for things that are really scary.

Fear is a sin. Anxiety is a sin. So is being terrified. Yet we have as the second biggest money maker, a holiday that celebrates fear. Or is it fake fear?

And yet… for all the scary stuff, kids get candy. And, at the same time, they learn gradually that all this scary stuff… zombies, witches, monsters, vampires, devils, demons, evil spells, evil powers, mummies, ghosts… aren’t real. That all that supernatural evil stuff is just silly, harmless stuff.

Well, I don’t believe in ghosts or vampires or zombies, but I do believe there are witches and evil, clever, powerful supernatural beings at work in this world. The Bible says there are:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of this wickenss in the heavenly places (atmosphere).”  ~ Eph 6:12

Halloween makes all that seem silly and ridiculous. Satan is reduced to an absurd figure with horns, a forked tail and red skin, who roams about in a red cape with a pitchfork. Witches run about with long noses and pointed black hats. Everyone laughs and has fun. Kids get candy.

It reminds me of the post I did on Hopi religious ceremonies for the kids, where every time the kachina shows up, the kids get the equivalent of candy. Thus they come to associate the kachina with gifts and good things and pleasure. So Halloween, I think, moves kids to associate demons and dark forces and witches and vampires and even death as not real, and also, as fun, as something pleasant and tasty.

And there’s just something off about that. When I think about us as believers in Christ being royal priests, being in union with the God of the universe, children of God, beneficiaries of His grace and created to be the means by which God would solve a great battle waged against him by evil angelic beings… it doesn’t seem right to engage in a holiday that seems deliberately crafted to meld the real with the make believe, and wrap it all in the guaze of fun and togetherness and the Pavlovian reward of … candy!

Not that I’m going to go on any anti-Halloween crusade. I just don’t like it. But I think I may have some legitmate reasons for feeling as I do.

UPDATE: While dinking around on the internet after posting this, I came across this blog from a former Wiccan, now Christian who wrote a series on the origins of Halloween in Samhain, a Celtic religious end of harvest festival. Very interesting. You can read Part 1 HERE.  There are three parts and they’re all quite interesting, especially where she points out the counterfeits with Christianity.

A Christmas Tradition

When I was growing up, and to this day, my family had a Christmas tradition that was unusual. I say that because when asked what we did “on Christmas” there was always a degree of shock in the asker when the answer was, “we spent all day opening packages.”

Maybe people thought we had SOOO many gifts it took us all day to get through them, but that wasn’t/isn’t the case. We didn’t have a big family — mother, stepdad, sister and me — we had a ritual. A couple of them actually.

The first was Christmas eve where we had lasagne for dinner and then arranged packages around the tree. When all was in the most “artistic” arrangement, we turned off the lights except for candles and tree lights, got some egg nog and sat listening to Christmas music and looking at the beautiful tree. Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Andy Williams’s Christmas album and more recently, Narada’s Medieval type music created a delicious “Christmasy” feeling. Mostly we just looked and sipped and listened and didn’t do too much talking.

All of that, I understand now, are typically introverted pleasures. We were soaking up all the stimuli — tastes, smells, colors, lights, the glory of the tree in the darkness, each individual ornament (and most were unique), the music, the holly berry scent of the candles, maybe a warm blanket…

Next morning we came out, looked at it all and then began our second ritual. One person would be designated the package distributor and each person would receive a gift to open. Then one by one we went around the circle, each opening in turn, noting the paper, ribbon tag, carefully unwrapping the gift in almost the same order it had been wrapped and finally opening the box to reveal the gift within. At which point considerable conversation would ensue, regarding the story of acquiring the gift, or why it was wanted, or other such things, some related and some not… This was not forced on any of our parts. We liked to draw it out and drink it in. To savor and enjoy all aspects of the process.

After a couple of “rounds” we’d go make breakfast and eat it. Then back to finish up the remainder of the packages. By then it was early afternoon and time to start dinner.

Given what I’ve seen in movies as well as what seems to have been the holiday modus operandi for most people who I’ve come in contact with is to rip into the gifts in a wild frenzy all at once, the whole thing over in half an hour.

That seemed so terribly unsatisfying to us, but our way certainly did seem to be “weird.” We’ve continued a reduced version of it into adulthood, though my husband being one of those who, growing up in a family with 8 kids, came from the ripping frenzy tradition had some adjusting to do. He has been tremendously gracious in adapting and taking part in the full spirit of the thing (though at times he does grow drowsy!). Anyway, he reported similar responses from people when they asked and he told them how we did it — weird!

Then, a few weeks ago I opened a book call Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe, the same day I’d received it from Amazon to read this in the Introduction:

“I was number nine out of ten bright, creative, and mostly LOUD kids. My dad, an eccentric genius, had wall-sized speakers in the living room that blared out classical music. When the family sang together, we sang five-part harmonies of the uncompromising Handel’s Messiah. On Christmas Eve, we had a talent show and family service, and later tore into our presents all at once, paper and ribbons flying everywhere and voices crisscrossing the room shouting out “thank you!” and “just what I wanted!” These are happy memories, because there was a part for each of us. But instead of ripping paper and shouting, I sat in my corner with my pile of gifts and handled each as a treasure, slowly and carefully opening them, preserving the paper and lingering in the delight of discovery…..”

Whoa! I was absolutely astounded. There it was. Just what we did, without all the flying paper and yelling!

She went on…

“However, when there were no gifts to open and everyone was competing for airtime, I felt invisible and became overstimulated and anxious. My anxiety was not about the pressure to socialize; there were more than enough bodies to take care of that. I became anxious because I couldn’t think, and, without my own mind, I felt like I was disintegrating. My solution was to retreat to my room and write. In my solitude I could regain contact with myself and become solid again.”

Thankfully I didn’t grow up with nine siblings, but I have certainly felt this sense of being unable to think, especially recently where I’ve had so many things demanding my attention. But the retreating to my room to write and imagine stories… Yes! I couldn’t wait to get home from school and do that. She goes on to say she wrote science fiction (ditto) and developed secret codes (ditto) to share with her sister (I shared with a friend)… the entire introduction continued in this vein, highlighting things about myself I knew existed but had never really recognized as part of introversion. Nor had it ever occurred to me that there were reasons why I was always exhausted after social interactions, even those I enjoyed,  and that it wasn’t because I was bad, or defective or just plain ornery, but part of how God made me to be.

I have been so excited to read both this book and the other one I ordered, The Introvert Advantage, and I hope to share a bit of what I’ve learned from them both this week. The challenge will be to distill the most important bits from the wealth of things I could say about it all.


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