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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Looking Ahead

Christmas 2015 is behind us and we're wrapping up the year. As usual, we wonder how it could go by so quickly and where the next year will take us. I'm glad we can't see the future but hope 2016 will not be as rushed as this year was. At least it looks like a slower start.
I usually have a list of things I want to do during the winter months and this year's list is short. I chalked off three things this fall and am not planning to start any new major projects. At the top of the list for January is scrapbooking my 2015 pictures. I hope to write some short stories for children but do not plan to start another book project. Have I written my last book? I don't know, but I don't have any ideas simmering that I want to develop.
It's not that I don't have any suggestions, but none I'm ready to pick up. Most people don't realize how much work it is to write a book and what is entailed in getting it published. The first requirement is that there must be a purpose or a point. If you want a memory book of your mother, do it yourself. Don't ask me to make it into a story.
If I do accept your request, whose book is this? Yours or mine? Are you going to publish it yourself? That means investing the money in having it printed and selling the book. How would I be paid for the time it takes to write a book? Am I expected to do it as a favor? If you don't want to self-publish, what is the message in the story? Is it something with enough marketing potential for a publisher to want to buy it? If not, I have other things to do with my time. Just because a book is written does not mean a publisher will accept it.
I enjoy writing stories and think it's one of the best ways to teach truth. But I can't write all the books people have suggested that were worthy of being written. I was glad to see other writers pick up some of them. I don't plan to quit but will leave it to the Lord to show me where I should go from here.
And now, I'll stop jabbering. I have an idea for a short story I want to try to write today.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ready For Christmas

"Are you ready for Christmas?" everyone is asking this time of year.
 How am I supposed to answer that? What do they mean? Does being ready for Christmas mean all the baking, decorating, mail, and shopping is done? That I have given to a charitable cause so a poor child or family can "have Christmas"? (There are certainly plenty of appeals going out for that kind of thing at this time of year.) That I have taken time to meditate and prepare my heart to worship and adore Christ the Lord?
Yes, my baking, decorating, and shopping is all done. The women in our family got together the day after Thanksgiving to bake cookies. As usual, I wound up with enough to last into next year. The radio station begins playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving but I refuse to do any decorating before December 1. And then I begin with the nativity scene, add a few candles, snowmen, etc. but no tree or anything elaborate.
My Christmas mail  was sent out the first week of December and I finished shopping then too. I did most of it online this year and think I will do that again. I will gladly pay the shipping charges to spare my feet and back the wear and tear of walking, elbowing crowds, and the frustration of not being able to find what I want. Online shopping was much easier and faster.
I haven't actually given to a charitable cause yet but we have chosen the recipient of the offering which will be taken at our family dinner on Christmas Day. We consider it our birthday present to Jesus. The offering box sets at the head of the buffet table so Jesus gets His gift before we distribute our gifts to each other. Should He not have the best and largest gift?
Our church has a special service on Good Friday, Ascension, and Thanksgiving, but for some unknown reason we have never had a service on Christmas. There is a variety of Christmas programs in the area to choose from and this year we went to hear the Lancaster Chorale in November. The first half of the program was on a Thanksgiving theme but ended with Christmas music. I was moved to tears by some of the music and it was a time of true praise and worship.
I was "ready for Christmas" early this year and it is not a frantic scramble to get everything done. That gives me time to enjoy the season and meditate on the meaning of the Incarnation.
What does the word "incarnation" mean? Carne is a Latin word that means flesh or meat. Chile con Carne is chili with meat.  Incarnation is the word we use for the doctrine that the second person of the Trinity assumed a human form in the person of Jesus Christ. The Incarnation is "God in flesh."
Jesus needed a mother to be born as a human being and have the blood that was required to be a sacrifice for sin. But his Father was the spirit of God, not a human being. If Jesus had been born of two human parents he would have had the same sinful nature as the rest of us and been unable to save us. He was both God and man, the only perfect and complete sacrifice able to atone for the sins of all men past, present, and future.
The birth of Christ was the pivotal point in the history of the world, so important that the calendar is dated BC or AD by his birth. Every time anyone writes the date, believer or unbeliever, he is testifying that Jesus was born 2015 years ago.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Perfect Job

My first job was working in an orange juice factory, but I got canned because I couldn't concentrate.
Then I worked in the woods as a lumberjack, but I just couldn't hack it, so they gave me the ax.
After that I tried to be a tailor, but I just wasn't suited for it. Mainly because it was a so-so job and seamed more exciting than it was.
Next I tried working in a muffler factory but that was exhausting.
I wanted to be a barber, but I just couldn't cut it so we parted.
Then I tried to be a chef -- figured it would add a little spice to my life but I just wasn't at home on the range.
Finally, I attempted to be a deli worker, but any way I sliced it, I couldn't cut the mustard.
My best job was being a musician, but eventually I found I wasn't noteworthy.
Mining was interesting, but then they gave me the shaft.
Next was a job in a shoe factory; I tried but I just didn't fit in.
I became a professional fisherman, but my net income was reel low.
I managed to get a good job working for a pool maintenance company, but the work was just too draining.
I got a job at a zoo feeding giraffes but I was fired because I wasn't up to it.
So then I got a job in a health club, but they said I wasn't fit for the job.
Next, I found being an electrician interesting, but there were too many undercurrents.
After many years of trying to find steady work I finally got a job as a history teacher until I realized there was no future in it.
My last job was working at Starbucks, but I had to quit because it was always the same old grind and the job had no perks.
So I retired and I found I am a perfect fit for the job!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Too Easy

I've been trying to trace the children and grandchildren of a man who died in 1757. He had 17 children and information on some of them is pretty sketchy. I had started working on it awhile back and then dropped it for other things. A couple weeks ago someone asked a question that made me pull it out and work on it again.
I made a fair amount of progress but could not find proof for the marriages of a couple of the girls. The genealogy books where they are found do not say where they got the names of the husbands. I made a list of things to look for and spent yesterday at the historical society at Lancaster looking for something to confirm those marriages. No luck. I gave up and went home convinced the names of those men could not be documented.
After I got home I went through things some more and finally pulled a book of abstracts of Orphans Court records off my shelf. And there they were! The husbands were listed in the distribution of the estate of their father-in-law in 1789. There is proof after all, and it was right on my shelf at home all the time.
I got to thinking----how often do we miss something because it's too easy? I'm studying John 3 to teach Sunday school this week. Nicodemus came to Jesus asking questions. He believed Jesus had come from God but did not understand the new birth and eternal life.  Just believe? Surely it can't be that easy. Don't we have to DO something first to be worthy of salvation?
The Jews missed the Messiah because He didn't come the way they expected. A poor man from an obscure village is the Messiah? A carpenter? A bachelor with no wife or children? A man who has no interest in overthrowing the Roman government? How is he going to save us if he doesn't fight the Romans?
Jesus did not come to set up an earthly government. He came to establish a spiritual kingdom that has no end. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."  Eternal life is a gift from God for everyone in the whole world. But you have to accept it. It's that simple!