Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas :) :)

Well, as you might have guessed from my lack of blogs, a lot has happened this month. In fact, so much as happened that as I sit here trying to recall everything I find myself at a loss. So I guess I will just tell you about the few things I do remember doing :).

SCHOOL!!! 3 weeks of school and so much to do!! As the Semester raced towards finals my pen raced to keep up with it and the requirements of a large research paper, 2 speeches, and other finals-type activities. In the end it only cost me one night of absolutely no sleep and the whole week averaged out to about 4 hrs a night. But it is over and we have 2 weeks off :) :) :)

Sports: Basketball has been fun. We have played 1 game (loss to Gem State Academy) and we have 4 more games this week in a Christmas/New Year's tournament (yay!!.... well, playing at 9 am= not yay ;) ). I have also been doing Indoor track and had a race last week :). Volleyball practices for city league are starting soon :) :) :) :) :) :) .... as you have probably guessed, I am dreading the start of volleyball.... ;) :).

Singing/ Piano: I was able to participate in 2 caroling groups this December!!! I have never had so much fun as I did getting to sing out with all my heart to my Savior!! I also had a Piano recital... it went ok...

CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Christmas is one of my most favorite times of the year. Not because of all the presents (although those are super cool), but because of the meaning of Christmas: Jesus. This Christmas Season has been one of Spiritual difficulties... but, then again, isn't that what Christmas is all about? Showing us that we cannot even begin to think we could run our lives, that Jesus is the only way to true peace and happiness.

This Christmas, my family hosted our 2nd annual Christmas Eve Brunch. It was truly an amazing time and I thank God for all the people he brought!

Christmas day was quiet and family oriented... my favorite :) We went to a church service and then opened presents. The afternoon was a time for games :) and then we got a quiet time for sleeping and reading :). Our friend, Dave, was able to come over in the evening and we played more games and just had a merry time!!

I was not expecting many gifts, but for some reason I ended up with a pile on my lap :)
My brother, Josiah, surprised me with a super cool breast collar for my horse! My parents got me lots of books :) (of which I have already read one :) ) Liberty got me some pretty cool yarn that I have already started using to make a baby blanket :). From friends I got: a coffee mug, a necklace, hot chocolate mix :), a super cool scarf (green :)), a china tea cup, and an assortment of clothes :).

Random facts of the month:
Most random question I was asked: At a Christmas program, the photographer asked to take a close up of my shoes.
Got to see my first 3d movie: Hugo :)
Was told twice in two days by 2 different people that I would be in their prayers :)

Book Review:
"Doomed Queen Anne" by Carolyn Meyer 230 pg. Youth historical fiction.

This book traces the life of Anne Boleyn, her rise to power and her descent to death for treason.
Written in the first person, you enter the mind and heart of Anne, the younger sister in a power- hungry family. Her father sends her to the dutch court at age 6 and the French court at age 8. He is willing to sacrifice everything, even his daughters, on the alter of ambition just to rise one more rung on the ladder of influence.
Anne, the ill-favored child, with dark hair and other "blemishes", who has always been hated by her sister Mary, the pretty one. With Jealousy and hatred against her sister and her family, smoldering in her heart, she decides to use everything in her power to capture the heart of the most sought after King of her day, Henry VIII.

This book does an excellent job showing how Anne turned all her friends into enemies on her way up to the position of queen and so when she got there she was utterly alone. There was only one person that was not yet her enemy and with her "failure" to give him a son and her consequent rising panic she succeeded in turning him against her as well.

The author does a very good job at showing at the beginning, Anne as the young and beautiful sought after belle and Queen Catherine, the old, forgotten woman and at the end Anne is the forgotten one as King Henry has moved on to others.

The other thing that is clearly shown is the fact that power does not satisfy. Even though anne is queen she has no friends and no Savior, in essence, she has nothing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas & the "Rest of the Story"

From David Barrett...

A Story for Christmas

Years ago, I was introduced to Paul Harvey by my wife's grandfather. Paul Harvey was a conservative radio commentator that had a daily news program and a daily story telling program called "The Rest of the Story." There were no other radio programs like the Paul Harvey programs then and there are no programs like them today. They were definitely unique, entertaining, and informative.

At Christmas time, Paul Harvey would often tell a story - a modern parable, he called it - that captured a key facet of why we celebrate Christmas. The story is better heard than read, and if you would like to hear the 1965 Christmas Day broadcast, you can use the following link:


Below is the script of the story: "The Man and the Birds"

I have designated this as my Christmas Story of the Man and the Birds. You know, THE Christmas Story, the God born a man in a manger and all that escapes some moderns, mostly, I think, because they seek complex answers to their questions and this one is so utterly simple. So for the cynics and the skeptics and the unconvinced I submit a modern parable.

Now the man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man. "I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized, that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him. "If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm ...to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand."

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells - Adeste Fidelis – listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.

This is exactly what God did. Philippians 2:5-7 tells us this fact:

"…Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men."

He became one of us; He became a man.

But, He did not enter this world as a fully grown man. No, He came in the delicate, fragile form of a newborn infant. He was born to Mary, a poor, lowly young lady, and his first bed was a manger – the feeding trough for animals.

It amazes me that God would enter the world in this fashion. We cannot fathom the humility it would entail to move from God of the Universe to a frail child among sinful mankind. Most people today are embarrassed to be around someone who is of a lesser "status" in society than themselves. But, there is not a status change in the economic, social, academic, or any other area that can be used to compare with the change of condition with which Christ had to undergo.

Yet, God, in Christ Jesus, did just that. He came to the earth to dwell among mankind. It is His birthday, into humanity that we celebrate.

And, now, as Paul Harvey would so often say, "The Rest of the Story":

As amazing as it is that God would become a man – what theologically is called the "incarnation" – to celebrate that act alone misses the true Christmas story. Just as the man in the parable above had a purpose for wishing he could become a bird, God had a purpose in becoming a man. The man in the parable wanted to provide a way for the birds to be saved from the winter blast. God, in Christ, had a purpose in providing salvation for mankind from the onslaught of sin.

God’s purpose for man's salvation, however, would require something never mentioned in the modern parable, and something likely never imagined by the man in the story. Philippians chapter 2, though, does include this most significant fact.

"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Phil. 2:8)

Jesus came to the earth as a helpless baby in order to grow to be a man and die on the cross. If he had not died on the cross, then the real purpose for becoming a human being and being born in the Bethlehem manger would not have been fulfilled. If Jesus had been born and lived among mankind, but never died on the cross, then God would have spent time with man, but man would never be able to spend eternity with God. Only through the death of Christ on the cross is the penalty for man's sin paid, and the way for man to dwell with God opened to him.

Remember this Christmas season, that the celebration of the birth of Christ, God incarnate, is not the complete reason for our joy. Yes, Christ, God in the flesh, dwelt with mankind. That is an amazing and joyous thought. But, He came with a purpose which He did fulfill. Matthew, in his Gospel record of the birth of Christ told us of that purpose in the words of the angel who spoke to Joseph.

"…behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." (Matt. 1:20-21)

The baby born in the manger, became a man, and the man Jesus freely humbled himself to death, even the death on the cross, that you and I might live.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas time is here!!!!

December is finally here which means that most people start "checking off" their Christmas lists, decorating their trees, setting up nativity scenes, and getting ready for Christmas in general. Does this mean that this is what Mercy Faith is starting to do??


Why is that?

Well maybe because she STARTED getting things ready for Christmas in.... oh.... September :P

Seriously though I am very Excited for Christmas.... (just ask HBC)....
but more than Christmas I am excited for all the things that Christmas represents... Jacob coming home in 10 days...Christmas Eve brunch with Family and Friends (held on December 24th :P)...lots of music (especially TSO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHioIlbnS_A&ob=av2e).... Family and Friends and everyone generally "jolly".......

But why is this time of the year SO special? Why do we give gifts? Why do we get together at this time of year? Why do we decorate? Why are we so happy? The answer to all these questions can be summed up in 2 words.............. JESUS CHRIST. He is the reason this time of year is so special; as believers we celebrate His birth because it represents the whole of his existence here on this Earth that culminated in that never forgotten 3 days in history in which He died AND rose again. We tend to be more joyful than usual because this time of year gives us cause to look at all the things He has given us, the most important being the gift of eternal life. When we look back and take the time to remember this last year, the last 10 years, the last 100 years, even to the beginning of time, we are just overwhelmed with his abiding Love and Mercy for us! Christmas is that time of year that God gives us as a special blessing to celebrate HIM with family and friends.. without HIM there would be no reason for this and it is all in vain. In the same way, if we let ourselves look away from Him and look to ourselves there is no reason for it all, it is all in vain, and we are left in a worse place than we were....

Last weekend and this weekend I was able to watch "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scarlet_Pimpernel_%281982_film%29) for the 6th and 7th times (oops... did I really admit that.. ;) ) and I thought that I would provide all of you with a review that would encourage you to watch it for yourselves... I am warning you that there are some spoilers in here so if you would like you can watch it for yourself starting right now with this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU2RLwEsxT4

As the movie opens we are met with these daunting words "Paris, 1792 The Terror Begins", in the backdrop to these words is an even more ominous sight.... Madame la Guillotine. We are thrown into the midst of the French Revolution with its mass murder of the aristocracy by the New Republic which shouts for "Liberty, Egality, Fraternity!" and then looks the other way searching for more victims to send to the Guillotine. They have the bourgeoisie so stirred up that they care not for the river of blood that runs through their streets out of their own hearts.

Yet in the midst of this madness, a single group of men headed by a man who chose "nothin' more than a simple, wayside flower" to be their emblem, stand against this river and seek not only to change its course but to stop it all together. "Who is this elusive Scarlet Pimpernel?", is the question on everyone's tongue from the poorest beggar to the man who yesterday was an aristocrat and today is sitting in the Temple prison; from the man who directed the executions to Citizen Robespierre himself. One man is commissioned to find out the answer to this question.... Citizen Chauvelin.

Ah, citizen Chauvelin with his scheming mind and injured heart. His mind filled with images af siting on the Committee for National Security. His heart full of scars from the recent turning of his love Marguerite St. Just to that idiotic fop Sir Percy Blakeney, Baronet. But, of course, it is his money, more money than Chauvelin could dream of. Driven by his will for revenge on Marguerite and hatred for Percy, he will stop at nothing to get to the Scarlet Pimpernel... even when it could mean the death of the woman he once loved.

Sir Percival Blakeney, Baronet.... now here is a man who knows all there is to know about.... fashion and style and nothing else... with enough money to get everything he needs, except a wife, ... until he meets the beautiful Marguerite St. Just, who is not as enamored with his money as she is with him... With his identity as the Scarlet Pimpernel firmly masked, he confidently woos and wins "the most beautiful Actress in France" all the meanwhile, saving as many aristocrats as he can from Madame la Guillotine's bloody hands.

Marguerite St. Just, a simple bourgeois girl who has risen to fame as an illustrious actress in Paris. With her world spinning as she realizes her love for Percy and the man she seeks "behind the mask", she also encounters the twisted heart of Chauvelin and his unquenchable desire to ruin her... She is caught like a fly in Chauvelin's tangled web of deceit and try as she might, she cannot break free...

Alongside these three stunning characters, you also encounter their friends, each interesting in and of themselves.... Lord Antony Dewhurst, Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, Lord Timothy Hastings, Armand St. Just, and many others... each of them playing their part in this suspenseful story.

It is a story full of love and hate; envy and suspicion, courage and cowardice; and most importantly noblesse oblige.