Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Blog Format

If you lived with me, you'd know that on any given morning I'm apt to wake up with a relentless need to rearrange the furniture.  The same goes with my blog.  I've dolled it up with new colors and design, giving it an entirely new look for 2012.

"We will open the book.
Its pages are blank.
We are going to put words on them ourselves.
The book is called Opportunity,
and its first chapter is New Year's Day."
~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Symbol 15 - A Colorful Coat

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th!

Genesis 37 tells how Jacob loved and favored his second youngest son, Joseph, more than any of his other children.  Jacob felt that God sent Joseph to him and Rachel as a gift in their later years.  His favoritism toward Joseph screamed loudly when he gave Joseph a beautiful coat, unlike the functional outer garment worn in biblical times.  This coat was colorful and probably more in keeping with what royalty wore.  When Joseph's brothers saw this glaring gesture of favoritism, they became jealous and hated Joseph and never had a nice thing to say to him.

Kids instinctively pick up on another brother or sister getting more affection and attention from parents.  Favoritism is not something a parent can hide.  The resulting rivalry between siblings lasts a lifetime.  It never goes away.

If there are stories about parental favoritism in the Bible, we know that the problem has been around for a very long time.  The Bible warns us that favoring one child over another will eventually bring pain and suffering to the whole family.

The symbol from this story is......

A Colorful Coat

Genesis 37
This is the last symbol for this year's Jesse Tree.  It's been my seasonal and spiritual way of paying respect to the ancestry of Jesus.  May each of us be guided through life by the stories and moral teachings of the Holy Bible.  Have a truly blessed Christmas from our home to yours.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Symbol 14 - Falling Leaf

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th

"And the sound of a falling leaf
will chase them,
and even when no one is pursuing them
they will flee as though from the sword,
and they will fall."
(Leviticus 26:36-37)

This verse is a powerful description of the way it always is for those who do evil things.  They become paranoid, thinking someone is out to get them.  They are in constant fear of being found out and can no longer experience peace of mind and peace of heart.  Even a falling leaf will frighten them.  These imaginary fears will continue to terrorize.  They will trip over one another in their desperate efforts to escape their haunting illusions.

Conscience is not an outside voice.  It is a capacity that God installed in us humans to monitor our behaviors and moral respect for all creation.  There's a mighty high price to be paid for violating the laws of right and wrong that God handed down to Moses on two tablets of stone.

Today's symbol for my Jesse Tree is a.......

Falling Leaf

Leviticus 26:36-37

Friday, December 16, 2011

Symbol 13 - Age of White Hair

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th!

Isaiah 46 compares the idols of Babylon with the tender care of God, in carrying his people from the beginning of life and delivering them safely in His arms to the end of life.

"Listen to me,
all you who are left in Israel.
I created you
and have cared for you
since before you were born.

"I will be your God
throughout your lifetime--
until your hair is white with age.
I made you,
and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you.

"To whom will you compare me?
Who is my equal?

"Some people pour out their silver and gold
and hire a craftsman
to make a god from it.
Then they bow down
and worship it.

"They carry it around on their shoulders,
and when they set it down,
it stays there.
It cannot even move!
And when someone prays to it,
there is no answer.
It has no power
to get anyone out of trouble."

Aging puts us on notice that life has a beginning....a end.  The older we get, our outward appearance and our physical being deteriorates.  The mirror shows us noticeable wrinkles, it shows us an 'interesting' re-distribution of our body fat, along with thinning and graying hair.  We are easily offended when we're not asked to join the younger crowd anymore, and the word "old" blares like a trumpet in our partially-deaf ears.  We worry about something happening to our life partners, leaving us to fend for ourselves.  We become increasingly curious about death and what happens to us after we die. When we reach our 60s, a whole bunch of new challenges jump out at us.  Our world tips upside down, and we shouldn't expect young persons to see the world through our failing eyesight.

This Old Testament story reassures and comforts.  God authored us.  God wants to finish our story.  It is only He who knows our path and the obstacles that He chooses to place in it.  All we have to do is keep trekking along, taking what comes, and making the best of it.  We need not be anxious about our remaining days or years.  God will provide all things necessary for us to reach the last page of our life book.  It is He who will know when it's time for the Amen.   

Isaiah 46 eases our fears about aging and all that goes with it.

The symbol I place on my Jesse Tree today is.....

Age of White Hair
Isaiah 46:3-7

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Symbol 12 - Song Book

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th

The Book of Psalms, 150 religious songs, is about man talking to God in times of joy and times of sorrow.  When we read these songs, we realize that we are never alone in how we feel, whether it be happy or sad or somewhere in between.  God universally planted the same emotions and feelings in each and every one of us, no matter what race, color, or creed we may be.  

Biblical scholars say that we are given a psalm for everything......
  • To find comfort - Psalm 23
  • To feel closer to God - Psalm 103
  • To learn a new prayer - Psalm 136
  • To learn a new song - Psalm 92
  • To learn more about God - Psalm 24
  • To understand yourself more clearly - Psalm 8
  • To know how to come to God each day - Psalm 5
  • To be forgiven - Psalm 51
  • To feel worthwhile - Psalm 139
  • To understand why you should read the Bible - Psalm 119
  • To give praise to God - Psalm 145
  • To know that God is in control - Psalm 146
  • To give thanks to God - Psalm 136
  • To please God - Psalm 15
  • To know why you should worship God - Psalm 104
My Jesse Tree symbol for today is a.....

Song Book

The Book of Psalms

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Symbol 11 - Ants

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th!

The Book of Proverbs is the closest thing to a Life Handbook we have.  It contains proverbs, parables, wise sayings, and riddles shared from the wisdom of Solomon. 

Chapter 6, verses 6-8 reads,

"Go to the ant,
you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise.
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest."

The Universe follows a routine pattern through Mother Nature.  Night follows day, the same as our adulthood follows birth.  It is sad that the person who doesn't make maximum use of their summer years pays a heavy price in their later years.

The tiny ant understands that the seasons are not all the same and that it must prepare and store up its food in summer.  The ant knows enough to save and plan for the future. 

This proverb teaches us, "Either we play now and pay the price later......or we pay the price now and play later."

My Jesse Tree today wears a new symbol....


Proverbs 6:6-8

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Symbol 10 - The Owl

Before King David died, he chose his son Solomon to be the new king of Israel.  Solomon was still a teenager and asked God to give him the wisdom to be a successful King.

One day Solomon had an opportunity to test his wisdom.  Two women came to him for help.  Both women had babies.  One of the babies died.  One mother switched babies with the other mother during the night.  In the morning the mother woke up and found a dead baby beside her.  She looked at the baby and knew immediately that it wasn't hers. 

Both mothers argued back and forth that the baby was theirs.  How was Solomon supposed to know which mother was telling the truth?

Solomon ordered that the baby be cut in half and each mother receive half the baby.  Wisdom inspired Solomon that the real mother would not let her baby be cut in half. 

One mother screamed and begged Solomon not to hurt the baby, while the other woman agreed that the baby should be split in half. 

Solomon knew immediately which mother was telling the truth.  He gave the baby to the woman who didn't want harm to come to her baby.

My Jesse Tree symbol today represents wisdom.......

The Owl

1 Kings 3:16-28

Monday, December 12, 2011

Symbol 9 - Potter's Hands

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th!

God sends Jeremiah to watch a potter working in his shop.  The potter places wet clay on a wheel and begins to shape it.  Something goes wrong with the clay, and the pot or bowl is ruined. 

The potter doesn't throw the clay out, but rather takes it off the wheel, kneads it into a ball, puts it back on the wheel, and begins shaping the clay into a different piece of pottery than what he tried to make the first time.

Jeremiah learns a lesson from watching the potter......that a person, or a nation, is merely clay in the Great Potter's hands.  Only He has the skill to design us all according to the image in His own mind.  If we go morally astray, The Potter will reshape us.    Never are we broken to where He can't fix us. 

To my Jesse Tree, I add the............

Potter's Hands

Jeremiah 18:1-6

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Symbol 8 - Baby Basket

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th!

The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt and multiplying in number.   As foretold by a prophecy, the Pharaoh feared one of the Israelite boys growing up, threatening the Pharaoh and liberating the Jews.  To prevent this from happening, the Pharaoh ordered all new-born Israelite boys be thrown into the Nile River.

Jochebed, a descendent of Levi, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.  She loved him so much and couldn't bear the thought of him drowning.  She wove a basket in the shape of a tiny boat, covered it with a tar-like substance, and set the basket in the reeds along the Nile River.

This was the place Pharaoh's daughter went to bathe.  When the Princess came to clean herself, she heard a baby cry and asked her handmaidens to bring the basket to her.

The baby became the son of the Pharaoh's daughter.  She named him Moses, which means 'drawn from the water.'

God is always looking out for us, just as he saved the baby in the basket.  God saved Baby Moses, because He had a purpose for Moses.  We all have equal reason for being here, a job to do while we're on Earth.  God needs each one of us to help Him carry out His plan for mankind.  Sometimes we may feel like we don't matter in the grand scheme, but we can't allow ourselves to think that way.     

Today I place on my Jesse Tree the central symbol from this story, a........

Baby Basket

Exodus 2:1-8

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Symbol 7 - Arm (Cubit Ruler)

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th!

Genesis 6 tells how mankind's corruption had turned into wicked proportions.  God warned He would to send a flood to destroy mankind, except for one righteous man, Noah.

God instructed Noah to build an ark to keep his family and the animals safe.  God gave Noah instructions how to build the ark, with a length of 300 cubits, width 50 cubits, and height 30 cubits.

A cubit was the variable distance between an adult elbow and tip of the middle finger.  Most Hebrew scholars believe the Ark was built using an 18" cubit, making the ark 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.

To put this in perspective, the ark would have had equal the capacity of 569 modern railroad cars.  This would be more floor space than 21 standard college basketball courts.   

The remarkable element to the story of Noah's Ark is its God-given formula for a 1:6 construction ratio (length x width x height) of 30 x 5 x 3.  Our modern-day science of naval architecture has confirmed this to be the most stable ratio for an ocean vessel.

Today's Jesse Tree symbol is the.....

The Arm--The Ancient Cubit Ruler

Genesis 6:5-22

Friday, December 09, 2011

Symbol 6 - Stone

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th

Life can cruelly shove us up against unexpected situations that challenge our faith and endurance beyond limits.  I truly doubt we can get through life without knowing what that feels like. 

In the Old Testament Book of Job, Job ponders the cause of his undeserved misery.  In his anguish, he pleads, "What strength do I have, that I should still hope?  What prospects, that I should be patient?  Do I have the strength of stone?"

Stones and rocks are mentioned over and over again in the Bible.  They, in part, symbolize great strength and resilience in a person's personality to overcome whatever lies in its path.  For that reason, today's Jesse Tree ornament is the......


Job 6:11-12

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Symbol 5 - Silver Cup

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th!

Joseph's half brothers betrayed and sold him into slavery.  Seventeen years later he meets his brothers, but they don't recognize him.  Joseph devises a plan to test his brothers to see if they are still capable of betraying one another.

Benjamin, youngest of the twelve, was Joseph's only full brother.  Joseph asked his servant to hide a silver cup in Benjamin's grain sack.  He then sent his servants to "find" the cup and arrest Benjamin.  Joseph wanted to see if his brothers would stand by Benjamin or betray him, too.  That was a way for him to find out if his brothers had changed their morals since they betrayed and sold him into slavery.

Joseph finds that his brothers had changed their ways and stood beside Benjamin, so he felt free to reveal himself to them and make amends.

The lesson in this Old Testament story is that we cannot judge what people are now, by what they have formerly been.  Nor can we judge what they will do, by what they have done.

My Jesse Tree symbol for today is a......

Silver Cup
Genesis 44

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Symbol 4 - Ladder

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th!

Genesis 28 tells how Jacob, grandson of Abraham and son of Isaac, is running away from his twin brother, Esau, who has vowed to kill him because he has stolen Esau's birthright.  Jacob cheated his brother and lied to his father.   He is all alone, homeless, without money, on the hillside outside the city of Luz.  It's getting dark, so he stops and finds a stone for a pillow.  One can only imagine the troubling thoughts going through his mind.  Eventually he falls asleep and has one of the most famous dreams in all of history.  He dreams that a ladder stands next to him, reaches up to heaven with angels ascending and descending the ladder.  God stands at the top of the ladder and talks to Jacob for the first time. 

The story of Jacob and the Ladder reassures us that there is an open line between heaven and earth.  God is with us and watches over us wherever we go. 

On my Jesse Tree, I place a.......


Genesis 28:11-16

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Symbol 3 - Palm Tree

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My Jesse Tree
Started December 4th

To my Jesse Tree I add a.....

Palm Tree
Judges 4:5
Deborah was the only woman judge mentioned in the Book of Judges.  A judge in biblical Israel was a leader with authority to settle problems in time of peace and gather defenses in times of war.

Deborah was also a prophet, one of the few women in the Bible to bear that title.   A prophet wasn't someone who could tell the future, but rather was able to 'hear' messages from God in some way and then relay those messages on to the people. 

Deborah gave her judgments and settled disputes while sitting under one special palm tree.  It coud be considered the equivalent to a modern-day courthouse, where judges go to settle legal diputes.  

Monday, December 05, 2011

Symbol 2 - Sheaf of Grain

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My Jesse Tree
Started on December 4th...

Today's symbol for my Jesse Tree is the.......

 Sheaf of Grain
Ruth 2:1-23

The 2nd chapter of the Book of Ruth tells of an old custom known as gleaning.  Israelite landowners were forbidden to pick their fields clean.  Harvesters were supposed to leave any grain that dropped to the ground. Religious law specified that a corner of the field had to be left for the poor.

This was the way early society provided some kind of an economic safety net for the poor.  Gleaning was based on the idea that the land does not really belong to anyone other than God.  Humans may have possession of it, but only if they used the land with respect for the laws of the real landowner, God.  The division between the rich and poor was there, like it is today, but gleaning made it clear that the rich have an obligation to the poor. 

Gleaners worked very hard for the grain they gathered.  It was probably harder than harvesting, because it involved picking up individual pieces of grain rather than whole sheaves.  It was a workfare program (not welfare) where people worked, bent over, looking for bits of hope.

Ruth was a gleaner in the fields of a wealthy farmer named Boaz.  Because of her obedience and loyalty, they married and had a son, Obed, who later becomes the grandfather of David and an ancestor of Jesus.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

My Jesse Tree

From now until Christmas Day, I will decorate a Jesse Tree through my blog.  

A Jesse Tree is Jesus' family tree.  Jesse was a key ancestor of Jesus.  Making a Jesse Tree is a fun way for children to learn about Jesus' ancestors and what life was like for them.  The tree can be an ordinary tree branch put in a container of sand, decorated one ornament a day with symbols representing Old Testament stories.  The symbols can be drawn or cut out of magazines, or any other idea you come up with.

Symbol 1 - The Harp

1 Samuel 16:23
A young shepherd boy named David, Son of Jesse, was chosen to play his harp for the King, who was terribly tormented with depression, fear, and unhappiness.  The soothing music from David's harp was the only thing that could ease the King's misery and make him feel better.

It's easy to visualize the young boy spending his days in the hills guarding his father's sheep from prowling beasts.  David loved music and filled his long hours patiently learning to play the harp that he carried with him.  His patient perseverance paid off as his fingers grew wonderfully skillful on the harp.  After awhile he began making up songs to go along with his music.  One of the most beautiful of his songs is, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

Saturday, December 03, 2011

How to Enjoy the Christmas Season!

  1. Dig through your closets for something Christmas-y.  If it glitters or lights up, wear it.
  2. Nonchalantly locate the "kiss-me" twigs hanging over doorways.  This is prime time to nuzzle-hug and smooch that guy/gal that gives you the goosebumps when he/she walks in the room.  Kissing is good for the heart and is considered preventative medicine.....I think. 
  3. Loiter near buffet tables.  This makes nibbling easier, and you can eat more.  If someone wants you to move, don't.  You have your party rights. 
  4. If your hostess serves celery sticks, leave.  She does not know the true spirit of Christmas.  Find a party where they're serving real food.
  5. Eat freely of the fudge.  FDA findings have recently validated Chocolate as Vitamin V-Z.  Doctors found it mood-elevating, because it induces verve, vibrancy, vigor, vim, vitality, vivacity, zest, zing, and zip.  
  6. It's okay to eat gravy.  Boldly put a puddle of it in the mashed potatoes, ladle it over everything but the pie, and savor every slurp. 
  7. If you should discover that the mashed potatoes were made without whole milk, cream cheese, sour cream, and butter, don't eat 'em.   Would you buy a sports car if it didn't have a stick shift?
  8. Whatever you do, for god sake, don't eat fruitcake.  There is only one fruitcake on Earth, and it's passed back and forth and forth and back. It is old, moldy, and someone should have the guts to throw the frickin' thing away.  I remember when I was in my 20s, an older female co-worker was jealous of how fast I could take shorthand.  When it came to our office Christmas party (our spouses were invited), her husband got my name for the gift exchange.  Three guesses what he gave me.   
  9. Think outside the box when it comes to exercising during December.  You should burn off enough calories circling buffet tables, carrying heavy plates of food, and raising glasses of holiday cheer.
Oh, by the way, did you hear about the man who goes to visit his doctor with celery stalks stuck in each ear and carrot sticks up his nose? 

He mumbles, "Doc, I'm just not feeling well."

The doctor replies, "Maybe you're not eating right."

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Witty World of Words

Like I've said many times, my Mom was an avid reader.  I don't know how many times she told me that when something bothers me, I should get a book and start reading.  Reading will get my mind off my problem.

How right she was.  But, there was a bonus to my burying my brain in a book.  I unknowingly became a wordsmith.....I love words and like to know everything about them, for instance.........

The word "alphabet" came from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet....alpha and beta.

The word "news" came from the first letters of the words North, East, West, and South.  This was because information was being gathered from all different directions.

The word "queue" is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.

"Underground" is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters "und."

There is a seven-letter word in the English language that contains nine other words without rearranging any of its letters, "therein."  -- the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere,  herein.

"Stewardesses" and "reverberated" are the two longest words that can be typed with only the left hand.

The longest word that can be typed using only the right hand is "lollipop."

"Skepticisms" is the longest word that can be typed using alternate hands.

The only word that consists of two letters, each used three times, is the word "deeded."

There is a word in the English language with only one vowel, which occurs six times:  Indivisibility.

The letters H I O X look the same if you turn them upside down or view them from behind.

The letter W is the only letter in the alphabet that doesn't have one syllable.  It has three.

The abbreviation for pounds weight "lb" comes from the seventh sign of the zodiac, Libra, meaning balance, and is symbolized by scales.

The word "sheriff" came from "shire reeve."  During early years of monarchy in England, each shire had a reeve who was the keeper of peace in that shire.  When the term was brought to the United States, it was shortened to Sheriff.

Thank you from my heart, Hubby,
for the most beautiful poinsettia
to ever grace our home!
Personally, I think it's better to put love into action, rather than put it into words!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Holiday Lights

Late afternoons now, we trolley out to look at Christmas lights. I put a sweater on the fuzzy one, and away we go. Some homes are lavishly adorned, like this one, while others are humbly decorated with one string of lights. To me, each one is an individual contribution to the outdoor winter art gallery.

When I was a little girl, my family put up a tree a couple weeks before Christmas.  Every year we put it in the southwest corner of the living room.  There was no insentive for it to be in the front window, because our house was a quarter mile away from the main road.  I'm trying to think where we got our Christmas trees, but daddy most likely cut a cedar tree from along a fence line.

The strings of lights we draped on the skinny branches back then were big red, green, blue and yellow bulbs.  It seemed we were always replacing them.  Sometimes we didn't have extra bulbs, so they just didn't light up.  Mom kept the glass ornaments in a box with cardboard dividers, and experience taught us to be very careful with them.  They'd break into smithereens when they hit our linoleum floor.  We saved the silver strips of tinsel and reused it year after year.  Depending who hung the tinsel, it either hung like icicles or in funny clumps.  That fussy kind of stuff didn't matter to me back then.  I was just so excited to have a real tree in the house.

This ceramic tree came to live with us soon after we were married.  It was hand-painted, winds up and twinkles "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful."  Precious.

I see snow flurries...wouldn't be surprised to see a change in the weather.  Our feathered weather forecasters are busier than normal at their feeders.  After all, it is December and time for the angels to shake out their pillows and let the feathers drop to comfort the Earth.

Be cozy.  Ta-ta.