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Candle in the Night

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

31 Days to Christmas Day 6: Christmas Music

As many of you know, music has a special place in my heart.  I grew up in a family who loved to sing together, took piano and violin lessons, and married into a family of professional musicians.  Music is a huge part of my life.  I love many styles of music, but stick to listing to primarily Christian music (with a John Denver song sprinkled in here and there).

Christmastime for many is a time that music fills the house.  The day after Thanksgiving, I started looking for a radio station playing only Christmas music.  I found that the station that used to play exclusively Christmas music from Thanksgiving to Christmas was no longer doing that.  There is another station taking that place now.  Unfortunately, neither of those stations are Christian and I find that there are more songs about Santa Clause than Jesus.  There are three Christian stations in the area that I keep on my favorites list and between those three and the one playing continuous Christmas music, I can usually find someone playing the kind that I like. 

When I’m at home rather than in the car, I put three CD’s in the stereo (I know, I’m behind…I should have them all on my MP3 player) and put it on shuffle.  Then, I enjoy Christmas music all season long. 

What is it about the Christmas music that puts us in the Christmas spirit?  When I was in high school, I had an experience where I realized that the kind of music I listened to had a huge impact on my spirit.  I won’t share that now, but suffice it to say that I stuck to Christian music from then on.  Music is like a line directly to the soul.  Talking is nice, reading is nice, but music fills us up from head to toe. 

So as you listen to your Christmas music this year, let it fill you.  Let it become part of you.  And make sure it’s the kind of music you want your soul to be filled with.  Music that exhibits the true meaning of Christmas.  Because if your soul is filled with the true meaning of Christmas, that is what will shine forth from you. 

Below is a non-traditional Christmas song.  I love this song because it reminds me that we Americans aren’t the only ones who celebrate the Christ child.  It is a great expression about the joy that all men feel (or should feel) that Jesus came to live and walk among us. 

Candle in the Night


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

31 Days to Christmas Day 5: The Star

If there was any question in Mary or Joseph’s mind at the time of Jesus’ birth, the new star blazing in the sky would have sealed it.  This was their Messiah.  But I don’t think the star was for Mary or Joseph’s benefit.  The star was there to lead others to the Christ child. And just like the star led the wise men, we need to seek diligently the true light of Jesus and let it lead us to Him.

Below are the words to a hymn that I really love.  I pray that this Christmas, “like the wise men, we are led in the still night unto Christ.” 

Silvery Star
Silvery star, 
Precious star, 
Shining over Bethlehem 
Guiding Wise Men from afar, 
In the still night leading them. 

Starlight and song 
All the night long, 
Heralds of morn, 
Jesus is born

Beautiful song,
Wondrous song 
Kneeling shepherds wept to hear, 
Chanted by God’s holy throng, 
Singing peace and joy and cheer.  

Baby Savior, born at night 
In the ages long ago, 
Angels sang and stars gave light 
For thy humble home below.

Lo, we hear the song o’erhead! 
Lo, we see the star arise! 
Like the Wise Men we are led 
In the still night unto Christ.

The song in the video below is one of my favorites.  What if, like the wise men, we left everything with a fervent desire to find Jesus.  Just to get a glimpse of Him and offer Him our gifts.  If only we all had such desire.  As you watch the video, it's easy to focus on the wise men's story, but try to also think about your life.  How has God led you to true wisdom?  

Candle in the Night


Monday, November 28, 2011

31 Days to Christmas Day 4: Mary

After having two children, I have an entirely different view of what it must have been like for Mary.  You know the song, Silent Night?  I’m guessing it wasn’t at all like that.

I think about Mary, a young girl, not even quite ready to be married.  Possibly just barely interested in boys.  She finds herself engaged to Joseph, a just man, and thinking about being married to him.  She probably sees herself keeping house, cooking, cleaning, raising children.  She looks at the women around her and is sure her life will be no different.  It might even be better than theirs since her husband is a good man. 

Then, the angel comes and nothing is ever the same again.  As he describes what it is that God has chosen for her to do, her mind spins.  If she accepts this task, she could be thrown into the street and stoned.  Even if that doesn’t happen, Joseph will certainly not marry her.  What would her parents think?  But she trusts God.  She knows the possibilities and trusts Him in spite of everything. 

In fact, Mary trusted God so much that she rejoiced before she even knew how it would all turn out. These were her words to Elizabeth, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoiceth in God my Savior.  For He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden; for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For He who is mighty hath done to me great things; and I will magnify His holy name, for His mercy on those who fear Him from generation to generation.  He hath showed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.  He hath put down the mighty from their high seats; and exalted them of low degree.   He hath filled the hungry with good things; but the rich He hath sent away.  He hath helped His servant Israel in remembrance of mercy, as He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.” 

You see, not only did Mary trust God, she saw what was going on.  I think we often see Mary as a weak child.  And maybe she was before the angel’s visit, but she wasn’t afterward.  She knew that God had chosen her.  I see her in my heart sharing these words not only with Elizabeth, but with her parents and Joseph as well.  She was convinced.  There was no doubt in her heart and she knew that God was using her to take her people, “them of low degree”, “the hungry”, to a place of high standing.  He was using her, a lowly handmaiden to bring down the proud, and send the rich away. And praise God, the angel came to Joseph too!  God did know what He was doing and granted Mary a companion for this journey!  

But I have to think that perhaps her heart wavered at some point on the way to Bethlehem.  I’ve been in labor in a car and would not want to do it on a donkey’s back.  I’m sure at some point, she wondered what God’s plan was for her.  Laboring with a man she barely knew, without her mother near, without a midwife.  Laboring in a cold dark stable.  Laboring with her first child.  I imagine there were times she wondered what God had in mind. 

But I believe that as soon as she looked into the face of that baby, her Savior, she knew that God’s plans were the best.  As she watched the shepherds come and worship, heard the angels singing, and saw the starlight, I’m sure she knew that His plans for her were the best. 

So where are you in life?  Are you still that quiet, shy child?  Or have you broken out and trusted God with everything.  I am sure that most of us have far less to fear than Mary, but what do we do with the fears we have?  Do we hang onto them, asking God, “How are you going to take care of this, Lord?” or do we let them go, declaring, “Lord, you are amazing!  I know that however you take care of this is going to be incredible and prove your existence to the world!” 

I know I tend to be the scared child, but this Christmas, as we think about Mary, let’s make it a point to follow in her footsteps and rejoice in knowing that God is bigger than anything we could possibly need.

Luke 2:19
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.  

Candle in the Night


Sunday, November 27, 2011

31 Days to Christmas Day 3: The Wreath

The Holly Wreath
The Holly Wreath symbolizes
The crown of thorns worn by Jesus at Calvary.
The red berries represent
The blood He shed for the forgiveness of our sins.
The endless circle is
Eternal life through Him.
It’s amazing how year after year, we celebrate Christmas, Easter, Christmas, Easter, Christmas, Easter.  But how often do we connect the two?  And yet, they are so interwoven that the question should be how could we not connect the two?  If there were no resurrection, there would be no Christmas.  If there were no birth, there would be no Easter.  So this Christmas, as you look at the wreath, thank God for being willing to send His Son, not just to be born, but to die.  For you. 

Candle in the Night


Saturday, November 26, 2011

31 Days to Christmas Day 2: Christmas Tree

31 Days to Christmas Day 2: Christmas Tree
I know the Christmas tree is the subject of great debate in the Christian world.  After doing some research, I really believe the scripture in Jeremiah used as the reason for not decorating a tree to be referring to idols.  Although the Christmas tree was originally used in pagan traditions, if we were going to throw everything out of our lives that originated from pagans, we wouldn’t have much of a life.  I prefer to think on the scripture about God taking things that we meant for evil and using them for His good purposes.  That being said, if you and your family don’t put up a Christmas tree, please don’t let that keep you from continuing to read the posts in this series.  I knew that this post might be somewhat controversial, but I just couldn’t leave it out. Growing up, the Christmas tree provided me with many great memories and I felt like that deserved a place in this series. 

The Christmas tree holds special meaning for Christmas.  Each part is a symbol, something to remind us of what it is we celebrate.  As you set up your tree this year, think about each symbol.  If you have children, be sure to talk about it with them.

The Tree:  
The tree is an evergreen.  It symbolizes life that never ends which is what we have because Jesus came to earth for us. 

The Angel: 
Some people choose to have an angel at the top of their tree, others have angel ornaments.  Wherever you have your angels, think about the angel that came to Mary, the angels who visited the shepherds, and much later, the two angels outside the tomb who proclaimed that Christ had risen. 

Jesus came to be a light for all mankind.  He is the light that leads us to our Heavenly Father and we are to be lights for Him. 

The star atop the tree reminds us of the start that led the wise men to the Christ child. 

Garland or Tinsel: 
Most people have silver or gold tinsel on their tree.  This can be a symbol of the gifts the wise men brought to the manger and how we are to bring God our very best. 

Many people have animal ornaments on the tree.  The cows, horses, sheep, and donkeys can remind us of the humble stable where Jesus was born.  Other animals can remind us of the wonder of God’s creation. 

Candy Canes: 
Candy canes have a beautiful story that we’ll look at later.  For now, we’ll just say that they can be a reminder of the shepherd staff that Jesus uses to gently bring us (His sheep) back into the fold. 

Paper Chain: 
A neat idea I've seen is to put names of our family on each link and talk about how God has brought us together to be one family. 

Musical Instruments: 
Harp, trumpet, bells, cymbals, lute, lyre, clarinet, flute…  These and many more are instruments referred to in the Bible.  As you place small instrument ornaments on your tree, think about how these must have sounded when played the night of Christ’s birth.  And reflect on how they will sound when He comes again.  Also, if you have children who play instruments, this might be a good time to talk about how we should do everything to the glory of God and do our very best to please Him. 

We don’t put real candles on our trees anymore, but we do put fake ones on and have real ones around the house.  As you light the candles, reflect on how Jesus wants our lamps to be full so we can be ready for Him when He comes back to us. 

Bells have long been played to call people to worship.  As you place bells on your tree, reflect on how God is calling this Christmastime to be a time of worshiping Him. 

As you set up and decorate your tree, try not to get too caught up in getting it done that you forget to focus on the meaning for it all.  Let Jesus speak to your heart as you do things that are there to remind you of Him. 
John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
As you set up your evergreen, remember that Christ came so we could have everlasting life. 


Candle in the Night


Friday, November 25, 2011

31 Days to Christmas Day 1: Nativity Scene

The story of the first nativity scene or “creche” tells of a church too crowded to hold Christmas Mass, a cave, set up with a manger, cows, and sheep, and people rushing to the scene singing songs of praise.  It’s a beautiful story and although most of our nativity scenes hold tiny replicas, they are there for the same reason.  The original scene was set up by St. Francis of Assisi and as St. Bonaventure tells it, after the people gathered in, “Then he (St. Francis) preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem.”  What a beautiful story. 
File:Gerard van Honthorst 001.jpg

This is the purpose of our nativity scenes today.  In my family, the nativity scene was always the first of the Christmas decorations to go up and the last to come down.  As children, we would open the box and unwrap each character, and as we did, a sense of awe would settle into the room.  Mary, Joseph, a camel, a shepherd.  Each character was placed in or near the stable.  The last to go in was the “Babe of Bethlehem.”  And thus Christmas begins at my house still.  The nativity scene is set up to remind us of His love for us.  To remind us what the season is all about.  To remind us that our King, the Lord of lords was born in a stable, wrapped in rags, and placed in a manger full of hay. 

As you set up your nativity scene, make it a point to reflect on the beauty of His coming to us, a babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 

Luke 2:7
And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was none to give room for them in the inns.

Candle in the Night


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

31 Days to Christmas

Two days from now, I will be launching my first series, 31 Days to Christmas.  I'm super excited about it and as I've done the prep work, I've become more and more excited about this coming Christmas.  (I know, I know, I'm not supposed to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but I kind of had to to prepare for this!)  The purpose of this series is to bring you closer to God as you prepare for the day in which we celebrate the birth of His Son.

Each day of this series will have its own theme (see list below).  There will be a section devoted toward drawing our hearts to Christ through common Christmas traditions, a scripture, and a song with a video.

My prayer is that each of us will experience a joyous Christmas season and that through 31 Days to Christmas, you'll be brought closer to the Savior who came as a child to us.

Visit this page to read a specific day's post.  These will be linked to each individual post throughout the series.
Daily Themes:
Day 1: Nativity Scene
Day 2: Christmas Tree
Day 3: The Holly Wreath
Day 4: Mary
Day 5: The Star
Day 6: Christmas Music
Day 7: The Advent Calendar
Day 8: Joseph's Journey
Day 9: Christmas Cards
Day 10: Displaying Christmas Cards
Day 11: Candles
Day 12: Holly
Day 13: Isaiah's Prophecies and the Shepherds
Day 14: Mistletoe
Day 15: Scents of Christmas
Day 16: Los Posadas
Day 17: Lighting the Windows
Day 18: Gifts
Day 19: The Manger
Day 20: Christmas Bells
Day 21: The Poinsettia
Day 22: Silent Night
Day 23: The Wise Men
Day 24: Christmas Pageants
Day 25: The Candy Cane
Day 26: Luminaries
Day 27: The Christmas Feast
Day 28: Christmas Caroling
Day 29: The Lamb
Day 30: Christmas Eve
Day 31: Celebrate the Child!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Staycation Day 4: Burr Oaks

Okay, so I know it's been a while since I last posted and my Staycation was a couple weeks ago, but the girls both got sick and I about went crazy and we didn't finish our Staycation, so this will be my last post about it.  Sorry it's such a long time coming, but here it is!  :)

M enjoyed laying on the floor and H enjoyed finding her nose.
Wednesday, we had planned on going to Burr Oak Nature Center.  The weather was supposed to be cold that day, so we were just planning to visit the nature center and not walk the trails, but when we left the house that morning, it was beautiful!  I was excited to take H and M for a walk on the trails.  My sister, S, and nephew, E were planning on joining us.

H "sliding" sown the frog.  This frog was not meant to be a slide
like the one at the zoo, but that didn't stop H!  It was actually more
of a topple off the frog, but she didn't mind.  

We pulled up to the entrance of the park and there was a ranger standing there guarding the way in.  I stopped and asked what was going on.  Evidently, they were having a hunt in the park that day, so all the trails were closed.  (PLANS THWARTED AGAIN!!)  We were told to walk directly from the parking lot to the nature center and back when were were done.  No dilly-dallying around or leaving the parking lot.

E was quite excited about something!  :)

Well, I must say, this was kind of humorous.  After the frustration of the day before, I just laughed this off.  :)

H enjoyed looking at the books.  

The kids had a fabulous time in the nature center!  It's a good one...if you've not been there, you should definitely visit.

E checking out his newest cousin.  And M loving the attention!

Our Staycation was cut short by sick kiddos, but I was so glad I did it.  I know H won't remember it, but I will!  It was a good break from "real life" and just what I needed!

Cousin love!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

AVON: My New Business

Yes, I've done it.  I've taken the leap.  I'm been thinking about selling AVON for a while now and I finally signed up to do it!  I'm really excited as I've always loved their products.  Now the only thing to do is make sure I don't spend more than I make!  Wish me luck!!  :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Staycation Day 3: FAIL...

Day three of our staycation, we planned to go to the pumpkin patch.  I was super excited to let H play on the playground, visit the petting zoo, take a hayride, and pick her own pumpkin.  We planned to go with Brian as soon as he got off work.

He got home around 4:00 and we waited until H woke up from her nap.  We arrived at about 5:00 and were greeted with a sign that said "WE CLOSE OCTOBER 31".  Ugh.  It was November 1st.  I tried not to be disappointed, I really did.  But I really was.  I tried to just be thankful that H didn't know what she was missing, but it's really hard to not be disappointed when your plans get thwarted.

I must confess, I was a little mopey on the way home.  Brian tried to cheer me up, and it helped some.  We ended up going to HiBoy and getting shakes and going to a different park than the one we go to all the time.  It was fun.  H really enjoyed sliding with Daddy and M enjoyed walking with Mommy.  Overall, it was a relaxing, fun time for everyone.  Am I still disappointed?  A little.  Will I make sure to get to the pumpkin patch before October 31st next year?  You better believe it!  Am I happy?  Of course.  My little family enjoyed our time together despite failed plans.  So was it really a FAIL?  I don't think so.  :)

At first, H went down the slide with Daddy.  That was lots of fun, but... was even MORE fun to go by herself!


Then we tried the BIG slide!

She really enjoyed them until we took her to the curvy slide.  Then, she lost her balance
and got a little slide burn on her cheek.  After that, she was ready to go back to the smaller
slides or go down with Daddy.  She was still pretty happy though.  

M enjoyed riding around with Mommy in the sling.  

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Staycation Day 2: Zoo

The Zoo is probably the most exciting place on earth to an 18 month old.  H just soaked it up!  She noticed small details, enjoyed watching the animals, and noticed and imitated their behavior.  It was so cute!  I'm so glad I got to take her there.  It's nice going now while I still only have to pay for me. :)
The tigers paced back and forth, back and forth.  Every time one of the
two would go out of sight, H would say "Mon!"  (Come on)
"What's a monkey say??"
These birds kept grooming themselves... H imitated.  :)
We all loved the kangaroos.  H wanted to walk right out there with them!
This guy was LOUD!!
These poor guys wanted out!
These monkeys were our favorite!!  Yes, he is "reading" the paper.
Too cute!!
Even M liked to watch the monkeys!
H, M, and Mommy watching the monkeys.  

M did enjoy the zoo!  :)  
The monkey's nose says "beep!"
Too cute!!
H going down the frog slide.  Weeee!
This snake was HUGE!!  The picture does NOT do it justice!
Our Zoo's newest attraction is the polar bear.  He didn't do much while
we were there, but I've heard he's great fun.  He mostly just walked around.  
This was the extent of his "playing".  And it only lasted about 15 seconds.
A bit disappointing.  I guess he was too cold to go swimming.  :)
H enjoyed watching him anyway though!
And Grandma was there too!  :)  I'm so glad!  She was a HUGE help and H
loves having her grandma!