Thursday, December 29, 2011

Well, That's Different!

If you are a polite Minnesotan of Scandinavian descent you may use the above phrase when you are in a disagreeable situation. This diminishes its meaning when something really IS different.

Today, here in the frozen land of the North, I spotted two bluebirds. Really, that is DIFFERENT! I watch for their return every year, as a sign of Spring's arrival, but it seems to me they haven't just arrived----they must have never left!

It's quiet here today with just two young ones home. That's different too. We all need "down" time after the holiday melee.

Tonight is "Feed My Starving Children" night. Our church has a monthly slot to work filling packets to send to needy people around the world. I strongly recommend this organization. There is everything to like about it: low overhead, high volunteer participation, successful delivery to needy situations worldwide. I want to put in a strong "plug" for it, as it can also use financial support.


I'm plugging two other things this Christmas:

The Star

This is a plausible explanation of what the magi saw at the birth of Christ. Fantastic, convincing, and something to boost your faith.

180

This little film will touch your heart. It's taking YOUTUBE by storm, and it's a must-see.

Two issues near and dear to my own heart: life and evidence of God's work.

May you have a blessed New Year!

Draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh unto you!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

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Love Letter

Christmas is a love letter from our Lord. Practically no one can avoid it, so we must all "read" it; the carols, the lights, the smells and tastes.

As humans we have difficulty comprehending the magnitude of the Creator. We struggle with the problems of evil and sin. We hide in a daily agenda, lose ourselves in the mundane of existence.

But then comes this rush of love from heaven. Christmas.

Deep in our hearts we know the truth, but it is humbling to admit it.

What could be more loving than God wooing His creation back to Him, away from everlasting hell?

So read this letter. Respond in love. Find the true meaning of Christmas: Jesus, savior, God become man, in the most precious form known to mankind, an infant.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jansson's Temptation

So many thoughts and expectations this day before Christmas Eve.

In my home growing up, Christmas Eve was the night we opened gifts, gathered with family, and enjoyed a Scandinavian feast. Christmas day was a festive dinner and quieter activity.

We are still privileged to have my wonderful parents and partake of a true Swedish Smorgasbord on Christmas eve after attending a Christmas Eve church service.

May I describe that feast?

Every year there are hundreds of Swedish meatballs, Swedish potato sausage, fruit soup, brown beans, rice pudding (with an almond hidden inside) and Julekage (a Scandinavian Christmas cake/bread).

My mother varies the side dishes, but we usually have a cabbage/apple combination that is delicious with several salads.

And I contribute the "Jansson's Temptation."

Several years back my Swedish friend joined us for Christmas, and prepared this scrumptious concoction for our feast. I've made it for this event ever since!

Basically it is shoestring cut potatoes, onions, whipping cream, and a few anchovies with LOTS of butter.

Terrible for your heart, but truly a dish that "Jansson" could not turn down. It really is good.

After we are all borderline miserable with the stuffing of delicious food we adjourn to the Christmas tree and open gifts. The one who got the almond in the rice pudding opens the first gift.

It's a very nice tradition.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Whew!

We got through a day of fun, sights, and window shopping yesterday, all during a dentist appointment and a German final for my son. Poor boy, he had all the agony while the rest of us frolicked!

Macy's annual Christmas show (downtown) was on the agenda--"A Day in the Life of an Elf," as well as a wander through the Mall of America (our second visit this season!).

We had a wonderful time, but I think our impressions of it all cemented the dreariness of materialism on display this time of year.

It all seemed so empty.

When you are reduced to a few Christmas trees and some elves (no creches, and even Santa was behind a wall where we didn't venture!) all you have is a few sugarplums and cupcakes.

Where's the meaning in that?

It seems (for the world) that Christmas this year is nothing but an expectation of an Xbox update.

How lame.

Granted, Christmas for the world is supposedly "tight" this year. Every penny must be put toward that techno upgrade, right? (You can't help be a little cynical, and I apologize.)

I am so thankful that Christmas has deep significance.

All the pagan frills that have been overtaken by Christianity are simply pretty decor to vary the seasonal scheme.

I enjoy the beauty of a lighted tree and candlelight in this darkest of seasons as much as anyone. I love the festivity and the warmth of celebrations. I love the expectation of a sweetly chosen gift from a cherished child or friend. I love the hope of giving "the perfect gift!"

But the true meaning of Christmas, God's gift to us in Christ Jesus, God incarnate, is what gives the whole season purpose and joy.

God, in flesh, a child in a manger, Savior of the World.

May we worship Him in spirit and truth!

God bless you as you continue your preparations for this holy day.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Too Much Caffeine

My husband found an old espresso pot at the Goodwill last weekend. He paid $2 for it. Usually our trips to Goodwill are for donation alone, but he found this little gem.

My son spent a few minutes on YouTube watching how to use it, and since has made some wonderful coffee for me to enjoy.

I think it's how I made it through the week, cleaning, baking, preparing for a ladies Bible study that met here this evening.

I tend to use lots of exclamation marks when I'm caffeinated. Life just seems so exciting!

So please pardon the hyper posts this time of year. I blame the caffeine. (And the sugar-high from the the Christmas cookie samples.)

Still lots of preparation to go, all fun, to be sure.

The Bible study was on Isaiah, and I was struck with how unpopular a message he had. Yet much of what he wrote predicts things yet to come. Unpopular things.

How compassionate of God to warn us through Isaiah of what our future holds. Heeding His warning will bring us everlasting peace. Guaranteed.

Now that is something to be excited about, and perhaps we could all try to exhibit a heightened concern for people who really don't know God.

Something to ponder on coffee break tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lucia Buns

I made Lucia buns this morning because I am half Swedish, and it's fun to do it! The cardamom and saffron flavor is so delicious!

I used the bread maker, so I didn't have to work the dough by myself. I coated them with butter, egg and sugar, and popped them in the oven. They are "s" shaped with raisins in each circle.

I have the tree up and decorated, all the boxes back to storage, and the house looking rather presentable.

My husband and Cherie braved the wilds and cut our own tree this year. It is a Frazer fir, and very fresh. It may last through the month! We put (just) white lights on it. Over the years I've collected meaningful ornaments that are white, gold, silver, or glass/clear---so it looks like a tree of snow!

As we hung the ornaments we remarked that everyone's tree is so different, but each person has such a distinctive style! "Each to his own!" Certainly with Christmas trees that is true!

A few years back I got an artificial tree on an after-Christmas 90% off sale...and now we can have a colorful tree downstairs in the family room, too. The kids love that tree! Holiday splurges.


My son made Spritz today, Cherie made gingerbread. Margaret had two finals: psychology and math. She's done after tonight, and I am SO glad to share life with her again for a few weeks! My eldest son starts finals tomorrow. It's a birthday tomorrow----but we won't celebrate until the weekend. College students!


Monday, December 12, 2011

There is No Rose----Stroope

French Final

Margaret is taking her first "final" today. It's in French class. I'm waiting for her call, so I can pick her up and take her for breakfast at McDonalds (a simple pleasure!). The final started at 7:30, which seems early to this night owl family.

I threw out the invitation to hostess a women's gathering on Thursday evening, so until then it will be high speed Christmas decorating and baking! So glad the kitchen is now a lean mean cooking machine! LOVE it!

The kids are still finding their way around it, though :)

Had the joy of a sweet luncheon with my gal cousins on Saturday. I am the youngest of eight girl cousins (I think Louisa May Alcott had something like that!). My eldest cousin is the same age as my dad, so we are a spread-out batch. Only six of us were there Saturday, plus a couple of cousins-in-law, and we had such fun. I think we are all genetically influenced in the humor department. We all laugh at the same things!  We had fun.

Finals and festivities and French. What an interesting December!

Another friend lost his job on Friday. I could only say----"God provides!"

If you have a friend in need right now, help them choose to be faith-full. Help them trust that God is the Provider. That He cares.

And reach out and help however you can!

We've been talking a lot about being salt and light lately, the implications thereof. In this dark world there is a need for Christ's light.

There's the call. Off to breakfast!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hard Again-in the Pain Department

I visited a medical specialist today and got the news that my condition is worsening. I'm grateful it's just a pain issue, not a disease, but it still seems "grayish down" to me.  Living with pain and the constant strain of it is wearing.

This week has been full of a kitchen cleaning project (I emptied ALL the cupboards AND drawers, cleared all the counters, and ruthlessly eliminated the dross of a dozen years living in this house) No wonder I am exhausted and hurting!

I also got to Orchestra Hall to hear my son sing in his college chapel choir. Such a spirit lift!

Christmastime is a dark time of year. I remember coming home from school as a child, to burning candles, holly sprays, pine boughs, and cider with fresh cookies, all beautifully made. These little splurges got us all through the solstice.

Although I believe Christ was born in June, December 25 was when the Magi came to Bethlehem,when the "star" shone over that little hamlet looking southeast from Jerusalem. Christmas helps us celebrate Christ's blessed birth, just as the wise men did. It gives us hope in the hard times.

Can I say one more time (for the zillionth time) how grateful we are for my husband's new job? He loves it, it's perfect. We are feeling a way to breathe deeply again.

This time we breathe out thanks and praise, giving honor to the One who provides so richly.

Bless you this season. Bless you with Christ's love and peace, His wisdom and strength. God bless you with His salvation and joy.

It is the ONLY way to endure!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Clip about Israel

I want to Walk as a Child of the Light

Concordia Choir, Christmas 2010

We were privileged to hear the fantastic Concordia College Choir yesterday up at Moorhead, MN, performing their annual Christmas concert.

Last year we got to hear it too. This piece was so moving to me. I hope you can sing it in your heart today.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Aperture Mittens

My daughter has started blogging again. I am biased, but I love her photography almost as much as reading what she writes.

Since college life takes time, but not inspiration from her, this blog, unlike "Hello World," is less talk and more art.

I hope you enjoy her photos. They always make me smile.

Aperture Mittens

Thursday, December 1, 2011

WORDS - Northern Lights Chorale.m4v

Northern Lights Chorale, Cum Sancto Spiritu

Advantage!

" It is a tremendous privilege to have the entire Bible in our hand, and understand the prophecies from a backward look! From our vantage point, it all fits together."
Gordon Addington, Discovering the Bible

I'm going through this book this year, and I've been so blessed by the insight given! December is devoted to highlighting the prophecies concerning the first and second advents of Jesus.

We start in 1 and 2 Peter, then move to Jude and Revelation. Also the readings are from Daniel and the minor prophets.

As we see time unfold before us we can rejoice that God's plan is sure and true. Studies on prophecy keep our faith fresh, current and exciting! If you haven't started an in-depth study in this area don't wait. The Word of God has so much to direct and guide for each day. Scoffing at Biblical prophecy seems to be the mode of the day, but we believers find it to be enticingly reassuring!

It's December. What a joyful month for believers, celebrating the first Christmas, the time of the Magi bringing gifts to the Christ Child. Advantage--Christian!

King James Version

So you saw the article in the National Geographic about the King James Bible?

After skimming it I was arrested by one sentence fragment: a moral vision that is now unacceptable...

Did you see it?

Since when did Christianity become "unacceptable?"

(The text implicates.)

On the other hand, the beauty of the influence of God's Word just shines through. It can't but help it.

To those who believe it is life. To those who do not it is foolishness.

May God open the eyes of the spiritually blind.