... Even the worst heartaches can become heartstrings to God's hope, comfort, encouragement, joy, peace and love...

Welcome! As a fan of the cartoon character Maxine, I enjoy her witty remarks. But when I
read my blogs & other writing to her, she's not very responsive- even when I'm wearing my bunny slippers like hers! She just doesn't get it!
Although she's funnier than I am, I do pray that this site will bring encouragement to your day! I'd love to hear from you! Unlike Maxine, you can leave me a message via the Comments. Shalom, Connie


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Missing for a Day

I went missing for a day- not really 'cause I knew where I was!
Unexpectantly I stayed an extra day with my grandchildren & their Mommy. We baked my grandmother's Christmas cookie recipe, decorated plastic snowflakes with colored glitter, read stories, sang & danced The Reindeer (Hokey) Pokey, played hide-and-seek, and had a tickle match. I left happy and exhausted.
Yesterday I slept 'til almost noon. Aahh...
Today I am catching up with my e-mail messages, including special ones from my writing instructor and publisher.
Tomorrow I return to my daily plan for writing, but before I settle into that routine I want to have one more dish of peppermint ice cream, finish putting the fringe on my daughter-in-law's scarf, and finish my Christmas mystery book.

I am thankful for all the Christmas cards and notes that I have recieved-each day I will read one and pray for the sender.

Shalom, Connie

Monday, December 25, 2006

With Child

a gasp, a cry
an exhausted mother’s sigh
a father’s teardrops
a heavenly umbilical cord cut and tied

a sweet aroma of fresh hay
a tiny gurgle as rosebud lips find milk
a whispered prayer
a naming as God commanded

a squeak of rafters as birds and mice gather
a gentle breeze to fan the fire
a clip and clop of a donkey’s feet
a quiet baa-aa and a hushed moo

a ray of starlight
a flutter of angel wings
a silence
a moment realizing God’s sacrifice-
His only son

a yip of a sheepdog on the hillside
an owl’s hoot as he hunts
a rowdy laugh from the inn
a braying camel on the dusty road

a mother and babe sleep
a father watches
an angel guards
a world waits

© 2005 Constance Gilbert

May you and yours have a blessed Christmas Day.
From the heart, Connie

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Anticipation

Mr. And Mrs. Santa had invited me to the Christmas Eve Family Mass. Not realizing how popular this Mass was, I almost couldn’t find a seat when I arrived. The old church was decorated with evergreen boughs, holly, and red bows; candles flickered in the stained glass windows. The organ played softly and an occasional tiny bell would ring somewhere in the pews
followed by a parent’s whispered “Shhhhhhh, not yet.”

As I looked around, there were children everywhere. Little girls in red dresses sat on their Daddy’s lap trying to see around the grown-ups. Little boys in Christmas sweaters wiggled and moved from Mommy to Daddy to Grandma and back. Older children tried to help with their younger siblings, but excitement was in the air. All the children had small jingle bells on a red or green ribbon, which were so hard keep from ringing.

A hush ran through the pews as the altar boys lit the candles; Father Fitz’ entered and knelt before the altar as the choir began to sing. The mass had begun.

In place of the homily, a tiny Mary and little Joseph slowing came down the middle aisle. By the time they reached the front, a manger and bales of hay had appeared. Once again, our attention went to the aisles as equally small shepherds with stuffed sheep and wooden staffs joined the nativity scene. As they arrived and knelt, I saw a baby doll in the manager. Looking back, the kings, minus camels, carefully carried gifts adorned with “jewels” as they tried to look straight ahead and not lose their crowns.

Father Fitz’ asked, “Who’s birthday is it?” Children yelled out “Jesus ” and Father Fitz’ smiled as a few “Santa Clauses” mixed in and were quickly hushed. “I think we should have a birthday cake for our celebration, don’t you?”

Heavy bells rang along with “Ho, ho, ho and Happy Birthday ” There was Mr. Santa ringing his bells and Mrs. Santa carefully carrying the birthday cake toward the altar. All the children’s bells were ringing now.

As Santa reached the front, he quietly spoke to the priest as Mrs. Claus laid the cake on a small table. As she knelt before the altar, the bells ceased to ring so Santa could speak. I do not remember his exalt words but he explained about St. Nicholas and that Christmas was all about Christ. And giving a nod he ascended the steps and knelt to pray before the manger.

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the church it was silent. A violin softly began to play “Away in a Manger.” The lights dimmed slowly until only candlelight remained. Father Fitz prayed as the lights slowly came back on. Santa was gone. The mass continued, but I don’t remember any of it. Just like the children, I was awe struck when Santa prayed at the manger.

When the mass was over, children received a cupcake with a candy cane as they hurried out; some to open gifts, others to be tucked in bed. For me, Christmas had already arrived. I sang “O Come, Let Us Adore Him” and “O Holy Night” all the way home.


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Goodies

Today I will be baking my grandmother’s Pecan Fingers and I have a recipe for a wonderful English Toffee Dessert, which is good if you have many guests or family to serve. Enjoy

Pecan Fingers

Cream together: 1 cup of butter ( do not substitute with margarine)
3/4 cup of powdered sugar.
Add: 2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. ICE water ( I always use filtered or spring water)
1/8 tsp. salt
Roll with palms of your hands into finger-lengths.
Bake @ 325E F. For 20-30 min. until golden brown- watch carefully.
Roll in powdered sugar while warm.
Cool completely. Store in covered container, if they last that long.

English Toffee Dessert

Crumb mixture- Combine: 4 1/2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
1 3/4 cups chopped nuts
1 ½ cups butter, melted
Filling mixture- Combine: 1 cup + 2 tbsp. soft butter
4 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 cup powdered/dry milk
8 egg yolks
8 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Place ½ of crumb mixture into 9 x 13 baking pan, then filling followed by remainder of crumb mixture. Refrigerate and chill for several hours or overnight.

Quick & Easy Fruited Chicken/Turkey or Ham

1-2 lb. pre-cooked ham, chicken or turkey, sliced (Good use for leftovers)
Marinate in Spicy Cranberry Salad Dressing overnight or for several hours.
Combine: 1 can no-added sugar cherry-pie-filling
1 20 oz.can each crushed pineapple
1 15 oz.can mandarin oranges, drained
1 15 oz. can peaches, plain or spiced, drained & cut into small chunks
Pour over meat with marinate, garnish with thinly sliced almonds, pecans or walnuts. Serve cold.
Good with stuffing muffins (your favorite stuffing mixture baked in a muffin pan) & green salad.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas In the Summertime

...the wise men went their way. Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. (Matthew 2:9 NLT)

One of my most memorable Christmas celebrations occurred during the summer of 1983 when I attended a Singspiration Music Conference. Music conferences are special because almost everyone there is in music ministry, many as choir directors and worship leaders. Attendees get a preview of all the music for the next year- often by the people who wrote it.

Everyone becomes part of a choir either for an Easter or a Christmas cantata. In 3 days, you learn the music then present it in an evening concert. My group, that year, sang Derric Johnson's A Song, A Star, A Son. As musician's we learned the music quickly, so could concentrate on how to present the cantata. We discussed the words and their meaning with the man who wrote them, from his heart, with the help of God.

As a mother of one child, a son, I was deeply touched by these words: A song... a simple song; a star... a single star... a Son, God's Son- the perfect one, God's only one.

When we arrived in our long skirts and the men in their suits, the auditorium had been transposed into Christmas. Composer, lyric writer Derric Johnson walked on stage in a tuxedo and bowed to the choir before acknowledging the audience. We were excited to be presenting the world's first performance of A Song, A Star, A Son. We were eager to please Derric and to bring God glory.

Before the Finale, we sang, Quite a Little Baby. It reminds us that the little baby in the hay was born to die upon a cross and Derric asked us to dramatize the end of the song. At measure 87 every other person slipped their music on top of the music of the person to their left. In half time we sang with a slow, but building crescendo, He spread His hands out wide___. (rest) Then from double forte to double soft and (rest) died. The was a soft gasp from the audience as every other choir member stood with their arms outstretched. Derric Johnson had tears streaming down his face as he mouthed, Yes That's it. It was as if all 150 singers were on the cross with Jesus.

The accompaniment tape was stopped and we waited... truly angels hovered near for we were on Holy Ground.

All arms went down at his signal and we finished the song; at double forte on high B-flat, we sang, Jesus Christ, the Lord as if it was Resurrection morning

The words and the music stirred a part of my soul that needed to experience the true miracle of my Lord's humble, earthly birth. It was awe-inspiring, magnificent, impressive yet simple. The applause went on and on- music ministers, deeply touched, offering their praises for God's work through Derric Johnson.
If I never sang again, it would have been enough to have sung A Song, A Star, A Son, that evening, but at the same time I wanted to sing it again and again. And I do, every year during Christmas week.

It is my prayer that Derric Johnson's words will stir your soul.

What makes the difference is our heart's response to the song... and the star... and the Son. Christmas means He came to you; salvation means you come to Him. Christmas is the Son of God becoming the Son of Man so that the sons of men become the sons of God.

Come and worship, Come and worship, Worship Christ, the New Born King


Shalom, Connie

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lonely Or Alone

...Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. (Luke 2:19 NLT)

Like Mary, I was in a strange town; I had lost my job, and my family would be out of state for Christmas. Instead of jingle bells I was hearing bill collectors ringing my phone. Depression was keeping me in bed or watching TV so I could turn off reality. It didn’t work.

Then I remembered a story about two men breaking into the apartment of an old lady. They tie her to a chair while they search for the jewelry and Christmas gifts. She insists that there are none. She tries to explain that she made a choice not to have Christmas so she wouldn’t be lonely and sad.

I, too, had a choice to make. I could be alone or I could be lonely and miserable.

If you are alone or having difficulties this Christmas season, I want you to know that Mary, Jesus’ mother, knew loneliness that first Christmas Day even with Joseph at her side. She delivered the Holy Infant Son of God miles away from family and would not be able to return to her home in Nazareth for several years. Everything she and Joseph planned was null and void when the Census was announced. The cradle, Joseph had lovingly made in his workshop, couldn’t go to Bethlehem. Nor could the specially woven basket and layette Mary made- only basics could go with them. She knew she had the responsibility of raising God’s Son- a task she could never sit around and talk about at the neighborhood MOPs group. As devoted a father as Joseph probably was, the burden still fell upon Mary, who would eventually be kneeling at the foot of the cross when Jesus died.

When we think of Mary, our perspective changes. Christmas, often, doesn’t measure up to our expectations and most of us are too busy to enjoy the celebration. We can make a choice though to establish our own traditions based on what we have. Not, what we want. This year I retired and am on a fixed income; once again my traditions have to be altered. I can still bake and knit, write letters, go to Christmas Eve services and play my favorite music from Christmases past. I will have High Tea using a dainty china cup. If I must dine “alone,” I will create a special meal as my way to celebrate Jesus as my guest and even set a place for Him.

As long as you celebrate with Jesus, you are never alone, and never lonely.

Lord, Help us to make this Christmas one of meaning and joy regardless of circumstances. Show us someone to demonstrate Your love to, and help us to keep our focus on You. Amen.


Shalom, Connie

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nativity Traditions

Over the years there have many 1,000's of storybooks, pageants, musicals, school and Sunday School children's programs, poems, dramas, and films telling the Christmas story of the Nativity. These renditions have become the norm for many of us. Unless we go to scripture, it's easy to mix the stories with what scripture and history tells us.

For instance:
1. Who told Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem?
2. How do Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem?
3. What did the innkeeper tell them?
4. Where in Bethlehem was Jesus delivered?
5. Who helped with the delivery?
6. What animals were present?
7. How many angels spoke to the shepherds?
8. What did the angels sing?
9. How many wise men came to see Jesus?
10. Who were the wise men?
11. Where did the wise men find Jesus?
12. Is the story of Jesus birth recorded in all 4 gospels?
13. Who told Joseph and Mary to go to Egypt?

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11- Scripture does not tells us.
1. Caesar Augustus
7. One; then an army of angels appeared
8. Scripture says they praised God, but doesn't state that it was in song.
10. Note: it is believed that the magi were astrologers.
12. Only in Matthew and Luke.
13. An angel in a dream to Joseph.

So where does a donkey, a stable full of animals, 3 kings and camels, etc. come from?
From our need to try to visualize this awesome event.
As a former children's choir director, I have presented about 10 Christmas musicals. Each one different, each one meant to help us understand how special Christ's birth was for each of us.
And I have sung or watched over 100 adult and children's Christmas dramas, programs, cantatas, pageants, and musicals. Each one has caused me to think anew what Christmas is all about.

My desire is that you, too, will see Christmas in a fresh, new way this year. Whether it's through little shepherds in bathrobes, spectacular kings riding in on real camels with a royal entourage, or a simple song like "Silent Night," open your heart to a heavenly touch.

The words of "Go, Tell It on the Mountain" take on new meaning as I look out my window at the snow-topped Cascade mountains. Three climbers recently perished there. Climbing real mountains is no easy feat; neither are the mountains and valleys within our lives.

No matter what the circumstances are in your life, I want to shout it from the mountain top that Christ was born so you could have Hope! Peace! and Joy! They are not found under a tree, or in a stocking, at a party, or even in a church- only in a manger when the Creator of the universe came to earth as a wee baby in a small, sleeping town.

Selah- think on these things...

Shalom, Connie

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Angel 4 & An Army

After Baby Jesus was born, an angel appeared to shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem. They were told where to find the baby; then a company of heavenly host- an army of angels- appeared praising God and saying "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14 NIV)

A very humble birth in a smelly stable for animals; an awesome birth announcement from the throne of God made to sheep herders. Do you wonder about these contrasts like I do?

We know from scripture that Abel was the first shepherd. Then came Abraham, David, Jacob, Moses, and Rachel. From Israel's history we also know that shepherds were of the lowest class; they could not be witnesses in legal cases and were seen as sinners, like tax collectors. In the summer, the sheep were moved from field to field for fresh grass and water. The shepherds usually brought a goat skin bag with food in it, a sling and a rod or stick 2-3 feet long with a knob on one end for protecting the sheep from wild animals and thieves, a flute to calm the sheep and for entertainment, a staff for sheep handling and as a walking stick, and a cloak. A pretty simple life and very lonely; the number of shepherds depended upon the size of the flock- from one to many. In the winter, the sheep were brought into shelters. Apparently it was not winter when the angel appeared.

A cute Christmas story says that a little angel asked God if they could clean up the stable. He responded, "No, it is as I planned, but you can go and announce My Son's birth!"

More than any royal decree, the glory of the Lord shone around the lowly shepherds. Maybe, they were the only ones who would go to see a poor newborn in a manger; maybe they were the only ones able to believe that the Savior was born; maybe God was telling that Jesus would become the Good Shepherd. I do not know the mind of God, but I would have liked to have been in that field that night.

Shepherds, did you know?


Shalom, Connie

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Family Tree

The baby born to Mary would become "a man of sorrows... familiar with suffering." (Isaiah 53:3) Those hardships began before he was even born.

"Why now?" thought Joseph as he slowly walked home. He dreaded telling Mary that they would have to go to Bethlehem for the census reporting; it was going to be hard on her so close to her time. All the things she had made for the baby, the cradle he had made- none of it could go with them. Just a change of clothes and some food for the journey... they had room for no more. No family nor the old, but good midwife of Nazareth would be there to help Mary through the birth. "Why now, Lord?"

Gracious, sweet Mary reassured him that God would take of them. Holding her aching back she went inside to prepare for their journey. It would take a long time to cover the 90 miles to Bethlehem.

All was as planned- one writer said, "Taxes were as good as any reason to get the Holy Family to Bethlehem" for God had said through Micah that the Savior of the World would come out of the little town of Bethlehem and would be a relative of Kind David. (Micah 5:2)

Indeed both Mary and Joseph were of the house of David; their family tree is listed in scripture. By the way, that tree contained David, whom God loved, and Boaz, a righteous man, married to Ruth, a gentile. Even Jesus' lineage indicated that He came for all the world.

Joseph and Mary may have joined a caravan of other travelers also going to the place of their ancestry, but still it would have been a rugged trip. Whether walking or riding, Jesus was bouncing safely within Mary's womb. God would protect them, but that did not include making the trip any easier.

More tough times were ahead: no place to stay in Bethlehem, no easy birth, no royal garments,
Joseph would have to find work, Mary would feel all alone. Then another trip to escape into Egypt while the innocent male babies under 2 years old were being slaughtered by Roman soldiers.

The Christmas card nativity scenes do not show the reality of Jesus birth. Joseph muking out a stall and lining it with clean straw, the smells and sounds of the animals, a rural town unprepared for the large number of travelers, limited food and water, only strips of cloth to wrap the baby, the fear when smelly shepherds arrived.

And Mary pondered these things and tucked them away in her heart ...


Shalom, Connie

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Angel #3

Joesph truly loves Mary and was barely managing the long wait between engagement and marriage, when she tells him that through the Holy Spirit she was pregnant. An unwed mother is a disgrace and subject to stoning. Joseph wants to protect her, but how can a man believe such a story. He was older than Mary and understood about birthing- sheep, goats, donkeys, cows, and people required a male to begin a new life. How could Mary have done this? He will have to divorce her- quietly if possible.

How very sad and angry he must have been.

He knows the rabbi well. Tomorrow he will talk with him; and Joseph falls asleep grieving for the loss of their marriage.

Angel #3 may have been Gabriel, but we know that an angel was sent, once again, by God.
This time he appears in a dream and tells Joseph that Mary's story is true and she will bear a son. Joseph is to help raise the Son of God and is to name him Jesus.

I imagine that Joseph awoke relieved, confused, and wondering if it truly was an angel from the Lord. When Mary returns from visiting Elizabeth, Joseph knows the truth and takes her home to live with him.

The gossipers are still talking at the well, but Mary and Joseph begin their life together with love and a precious secret. Mary glows as she shows him the baby clothes she and Elizabeth made. She bubbles with joy when she feels the baby move. She giggles in delight as she lets out the seams of her gown. Joseph hums as he builds a cradle of the finest wood; he will carve it with a design fit for a king.

But the Christ child will never lay in that cradle or wear those tiny clothes ...


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Angel #2

Gabriel, God's warrior angel, visits a young teen, a Hebrew girl, telling her that she has been chosen by God to give birth to the long awaited Messiah. She doesn't offer excuses, but I am sure she was overwhelmed in the presence of this heavenly visitor. She agrees saying, "I am the Lord's servant."

What an honor! All young girls dreamed about the King, who would save Israel.

What a nightmare! Yes, it had to be both horrible and wonderful.

Wonderful to know that the Messiah was coming as promised. Wonderful to realize that God had chosen her.

Yet it was also the beginning of many horrible obstacles. Telling Joseph she was pregnant not by a man, but through the Holy Spirit. Telling her parents that she, their sweet and innocent daughter, was carrying a child that was not Joseph's. Dealing with the gossips in town who were sure to judge her & treat her as a sinful woman. Then, as the pregnancy became real with morning sickness, a growing belly, and the confusing emotions, she realizes the heavy responsibility of raising God's Son.

Mary leaves Nazareth for Judea to visit with her cousin, Elizabeth. As Mary arrives and calls out a traditional greeting, Elizabeth's baby "leaps for joy." Elizabeth not only knows that Mary's pregnant, she knows Mary's the chosen maiden to bear the Christ child. There had been no cell phone calls or telegrams, it was within her spirit that Elizabeth knew these things.

Elizabeth, in her old age, also cannot hide that she is in her sixth month, and Mary also rejoices in her blessing.

For three months they help each other through the symptoms of pregnancy; they talk excitedly about being mothers; they talk about Joseph and silent Zechariah; they sew baby clothes and prepare the rags for childbirth. They talk about their boys growing up to serve God. Little do they know what lies ahead...


Shalom, Connie

Friday, December 15, 2006

The First Angel of Christmas

An angel told the old priest Zechariah that his wife would have a son. He was to be named John & would be filled with the Holy Spirit at conception for he was to prepare the way for Jesus. Old Zechariah did not believe that he & Elizabeth- after all these- would get pregnant.
The angel bearing God's message rermoved Zechariah's voice until John was born. Elizabeth was so stunned that she remain in hiding for 5 months until she was absolutely sure that she was indeed pregnant.
Woman were to bring babies into the world; those like Elizabeth, who could not, were considered in disgrace. I can see her walking to the well with her swollen belly. Her disgrace removed, she smiled and hummed as she drew the water; nodding to the the other woman, she returned home to prepare for the arrival of a miracle. The woman of the town would have much to talk about. They would make opportunities to visit Elizabeth- bringing a bit of extra cloth, some carded wool, clothes their children had worn. She would thank them and smile with a special glow.
Speechless Zechariah would have much to say and would sing a song of praise upon John's birth-day, but for now his doubt made him silent.

No, it wasn't a dream. It wasn't an illusion. It wasn't phantasmagoric. It was God's plan.
Tomorrow we will meet angel #2.


Shalom, Connie

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I just finished reading a mystery by Elizabeth George. Near the end she used phantasmagorical to describe the Detective Inspector's trip to find the woman he loved.

Writers should not use words like that; they stop the reader and can distract them enough to lose the flow of the story. However, it was near the end and I was focused on whether it would end "happily ever after;" and did not stop reading. But I looked it up in the dictionary.

It means dreamlike, illusionary, or as an event swiftly changes; change the ph to a f and you'll recognise it as fantasy-like.

Because it is Advent and I am contemplating the wonders of Christ's birth, I thought of Mary when the angel, Gabriel, told her that she was the chosen one to bear God's Son. I also thought of Joseph as Gabriel told him that Mary was telling him the truth; and of the old priest, Zechariah, when an angel told him that his barren wife Elizabeth, Mary's cousin, would bear a son. That son would be called John; he would prepare the way for Jesus' ministry including baptising Jesus.

Each event must have been phantasmagorical. If the foretold births had not taken place, Mary, Joseph, and Zechariah would have thought the angel was an illusion, a dream, a fantasy of the imagination.

and the angel, visiting the old priest, were messengers of God, who were preparing for God's mercy and love to be demonstrated through the birth and death of Jesus, God's only Son. A part of Himself had to come to earth for there is no sin in heaven... no death. He came to remove our separation from Him... to bring us back to Him, who created us.

"Amazing love, how can it be ..."


Shalom, Connie

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Light Bulbs

Why is it that light bulbs all burn out at the same time? Climbing up on my stool and stretching to reach is not my idea of fun; then one of the screws fell out! Where is my 6'4" son when I need him?

He & his family are in Iowa to celebrate Christmas with the in-laws; happily they'll be back before Christmas. The price of plane tickets was too high to go Christmas week- never thought I'd be excited about expensive tickets!!!

Yep, the prices fluctuate and bulbs burn out, but God is never changing. He is my stability. He walks with me always.


Shalom, Connie

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Calories or ???

Wow, what a week I had! While everyone is busy with Christmas preparations, I had to set all that aside as I helped friends in crisis. As a Parish Nurse, I keep a log of my hours- last week's totaled 119. No cookies were baked, no cleaning done, no writing finished; and I had to cancel my Cookie Exchange.
But God is faithful- needs were met, crises were resolved with good outcomes, and prayers were answered.
I'd say that was better than all those cookie calories!

Shalom until tomorrow, Connie

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

In the Twinkling of an Eye

In a moment life can change forever. That happened tonight to a man, the uncle of my neighbor. She came knocking on my apartment door immediately after receiving the phone call to come to the hospital ER. "Can you watch the baby? I have a family emergency."

That is what neighbors are for; especially Christian neighbors. I grabbed my keys and a mystery paperback & followed her. 21/2 hours later she was sent home. Her uncle is in critical condition in ICU. Join me in praying for this family, please.

Although I do not know this man, I do know that life, as he knew it, took a sudden change. AND the same thing can happen to us and/or our loved ones any moment.

A Heads Up to be thankful- life is precious for how ever long we are blessed with it.


Shalom, Connie

Monday, December 04, 2006

Change in Plans

Today I had the privelege of spending all afternoon and evening at the hospital.
As a Parish Nurse, I try to be available to the folks from my congregation and friends whenever the need arises.

Today a friend had an emergency heart catherization and a stint was placed in a narrowed artery, which was causing her chest pain. Although it is a lot of hurry and wait, it is a privilege to pray for my friend and all the staff caring for her.

Didn't get my scheduled things done, but had the precious time of hours in prayer to the Great Physician. I never can figure out who is blessed more, my patient or myself?

Shalom, Connie

P.S. My friend is doing just fine.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cookie Exchange

Cannot chat long today, I'm getting ready for a Cookie Exchange next Sunday.

It's one of the highlights of the Christmas season for me.

I live alone & I am on a limited income, so this is a great way to have a party. All I bought were red paperplates, cups & napkins at the $ Store. I already have Christmas decorations, the basics for making cookies, tea, cider, cocoa & coffee.

So I am cleaning with anticipation of decorating and filling the apartment with the smell of cookies.

If you're in theneighborhood next Sunday, drop in! :)

Shalom, Connie

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Choices Matter, part 2

Naomi and Ruth lived in Bethlehem after the famine ended. It would have been a time for Ruth to care for her aging mother-in-law, and to learn from her about the God of Israel.
Ruth meets and marries Boaz; they have a son Obed. Naomi accepts Obed as her grandchild, who becomes the father of Jesse the father of David.

Coincidence? No, I believe that it was part of God's plan. BUT Ruth, like us, had a freewill; she had the choice to follow Naomi's God or to return to the gods of Moab. God could have accomplished the line of Jesse another way, but, indeed, history would have changed.

As we approach Advent and the birthday of Jesus, let's remember that Jesus' birth was planned ahead- for generations. And that an ancestor of Jesus was a gentile, a Moabitess. Didn't Jesus come for the whole world?

I close with Isaiah's words:

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the
throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the
Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!
(Isaiah 9:6-7 NLT)


Shalom, Connie

Friday, December 01, 2006

Choices Matter

Do you remember Ruth in the Bible? Usually we recall her words to Naomi, "Where you will go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16b NIV)

Naomi and her family had left Judah due to a famine. They had crossed the Jordan into Moab where there was food. Her sons marry Moabites, Naomi's husband dies and then her sons die also.
The famine ends in Judah so Naomi is returning home to die. Out of love for her daughter-in-laws, she gives them her blessing and tells them to return to their mother's house.
(Tradition tells us that Naomi probably had no male relatives because they would have cared for her and married her daughter-in-laws.)
Orpah & Ruth accompany Naomi to Judah. Once there, Orpah kisses Naomi good-bye and returns home weeping. Ruth also wept, but refuses to return to Moab.

Now in Bethlehem, the love story of Ruth and Boaz begins. And I wonder, "Why Bethlehem?"
The end of the chapter answers my question.

Ruth is to become the great grandmother of David thus fulfilling Isaiah's words that the Messiah would be from the house of David. Micah foretold that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.

Today let's think about Naomi and Ruth relationship. First, Naomi gave Orpah & Ruth her blessing, which indicates her love, wisdom and grace. As a Jew, she continued to follow God while in Moab, which must have included teaching her daughter-in-laws. Ruth desired to follow the God of Naomi even though she was a gentile.

The question to ponder today is do we demonstrate God's love as Naomi did? In our actions and relationships do we reflect God's grace, wisdom, and love? Does He shine through me? Through you?

Naomi's choice mattered; if she had returned to Moab, history would have changed. Tomorrow, we'll consider why.


Shalom, Connie