Posted tagged ‘Christmas’

The Shepherd’s Tale

December 29, 2014

I posted this poem and drawing a couple years back as my Christmas gift to you.  I haven’t written a Christmas poem since, so here it is again. Enjoy, edify, encourage.  Merry Christmas!

 

 

 A Shepherd’s Tale

The city below was hushed and dark,
and starlight lit the hill.
The sheep were sleeping soundly,
and the night around was still.

Then in the quiet came a light,
and we lay in awe and fear.
The angel of the Lord had come,
and we our dooms did wait to hear.

But he bade us be not frightened,
for his tidings were only good.
A savior had been born he said
in Bethlehem which nearby stood.

A sign he gave us ere he left
to help us know the child.
We’d find him wrapped in swaddling clothes
in a manger – and we smiled.

No sooner had he finished
than a multitude appeared,
who sang a song of praise and joy,
and then the heavens cleared.

A moment thus we sat and gaped
then one by one we stood.
We ran as one to find the babe,
and share these tidings good.

We found them, as the angel said,
and gathered round the manger.
With Mary and Joseph we worshiped there,
then ran to tell the neighbors.

Many heard but couldn’t believe
that shepherds such as we
Would ever have been favored so
that angels we should see.

So we went back to find our sheep
all there and sleeping still,
And many nights we sat and sang
the angels’ song upon the hill.

Year Break

January 2, 2014

Snow on the ground, the thermometer’s cold
The ball drop is over, the party grows old

A new year is dawning, resolutions are rife
Weight loss, a new job, or to end war and strife

Plans at their brightest, shiny and new
Yet many the same ones we had last year too

So what truly is different, save a tick of the clock,
A change in the date, and a new party frock?

If the old year hasn’t taught us one single thing
No light can it shed on what the new one will bring

When the hoopla dies down what will remain
Is a world growing weary, tired, and mundane

Yet we face the world with hope in our hearts
That the story of the last holiday, Christmas, imparts

Tidings of joy and peace to the Earth
For we celebrate once more our Savior’s Birth

~Homeschool Graduate

The Gift of Memory

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!  The holiday season is just about over, except for cleaning up the confetti and pine needles, which could take months.  In my house, the only thing left to do is take down the Christmas tree, which will happen today at some point.

Christmas may be over, but I will carry many memories away from this year’s celebration of Christ’s birth.  Some of the stories from this Christmas season are only the prologue to longer tales, and one of these is what I’d like to share with you now.

Remember not so long ago I wrote about the lunch conversations my siblings and I have so enjoyed?  Well, one of my gifts this year consisted of two letters, written by my mother, each sharing some of the wisdom she has previously shared verbally.  Along with these letters was a promise that she is going to add to the collection, sometimes writing to one child, sometimes to another, but we’ll each get a copy to add to our binders.

I can’t begin to express how special this gift was to me.  The memories it conjures up alone are priceless, and when you add in all the counsel the value of this gift skyrockets.  I usually get one gift that makes me so teary-eyed that I cannot speak, and the letters were it this year.

But that’s not the end of the story.

I was not the only one given such a gift.  My sister also got the gift of memories, only in different form.  She has already been dubbed the Family Historian and is the official keeper of the family newsletters, so this year, Mom began writing out the family stories.  Beginning with the story of how our family got started – how she met my dad.

We’ve heard the story before, but it’s special to have it written down in her voice, and we can share it with our own families someday.  Again, the idea is that Mom will continue to write the stories, and we will all get copies of them.  She seems to have found a topic for that book we keep joking that she should write when she retires from homeschooling . . .

And the story is still not done.

3G also got a gift that will be treasured by each of us.  My father has been teaching, whether in a Sunday School setting or a Bible study, for as long as I can remember.  More recently, he began a practice of writing out his notes so that he could share them with our college siblings while they’re away.  So what was 3G’s gift?

3G’s binder was the fullest of the bunch, because he got the first copy of Dad’s notes from the Kingdom books (Samuel through Chronicles).  Once more the idea is that we’ll get installments as the years go by, and we are all excited about this gift too.  By the time he gets done, we may have a whole commentary!

I feel like the cup that is running over with blessings.  With all that blessing, however, comes responsibility.  It doesn’t matter so much how much you’ve been given, but what you do with it.  All these blessings will not do me much good if I do not turn around and use them, and share them.

So, I’d like to leave you with a thought.  As you’re going forward in this new year, what memories of this Christmas will you take with you?  What lessons from childhood?  What teaching that God gave you last year?  How are you different from the person who began 2012?

May God richly bless us in the coming year, and may we learn to appreciate His blessings more fully with each passing day.

Happy New Year!

To Carol, or Not to Carol

November 23, 2012

Okay, so it’s after Thanksgiving now; we can safely move on to Christmas themes – and Christmas music, right?

As I’m sure you’re all aware, many stores have been playing Christmas music for weeks now.  I’ve been hearing mixed reactions, and while this isn’t the first year I’ve heard the “it’s too early for Christmas music” line, this is the first time I’ve seriously thought about it.  Not that my opinion has or needed to change, personally, but I wanted to see the other side (if possible).

Why would people have such a problem with Christmas music?  Actually, I think the problem is partly just that they’re not ready for it to be Christmas already (and again).  For crying out loud, summer just ended . . . and now it’s Christmas already!  I also heard one radio DJ complain that it was taking the focus away from Thanksgiving, not allowing us the time to truly be thankful.  I can sympathize, to some extent, although Thanksgiving has always come without needing that much in the way of music to herald it.

Another complaint is that all this music commercializes Christmas.  Yeah, I can see where the stuff that stores play is pretty much all the secular stuff that would indeed commercialize Christmas, especially the ones about Santa bringing us stuff.  Let’s face it.  Why would stores and radio stations be playing Christmas tunes this early?  To sell more, of course!  If we start thinking about it earlier, maybe we’ll end up paying more by the time we get to Christmas.  Whether it’s that we end up buying more overall or just that we have that much longer to talk ourselves into paying more for that gift we really want to get that special friend or family member, listening to Christmas music probably gets us more into the spirit of giving, or more importantly buying, and more of it.

So why do I still not have a huge problem with Christmas music this early?  Well, to tell you the truth, I started even earlier.  And I’m not just talking about the Christmas Cantata that I’m a part of at church.  We started rehearsals for that in October.  But I’ve been singing Christmas music, some secular but mostly sacred, since . . . last Christmas.  And the Christmas before.

You see, I never really stop singing carols altogether.  They just become more infrequent as I give myself space to sing all the other good music out there.  And I’m not the only one for whom Christmas is an all year deal.  A lot of people I know will say that Christmas is for all year round.  And my boss will walk down the halls either whistling or reinventing “Deck the Halls” in the middle of July!  Other people complain that it’s too early for him to be whistling that, but I just grin.

Maybe I like Christmas, and Christmas music in specific, because in my expectant hope of Christ’s second coming, I enjoy looking back to His first coming.  As One Small Child, Away in a Manger, In the Little Village of Bethlehem.  Having played an angel many years ago (not necessarily any more of a typecast now than it wasn’t then), I like to imagine myself on the hillside as a whole choir of angels sang.  I’ve long been in awe of the way God brought the wise men to Bethlehem, bearing gifts that must have been, well, a Godsend, when Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt with our Savior.  And just as I joy in the first coming and all that happened, I look forward to the next coming singing “Joy to the World.”  You do know that one isn’t actually a first coming song right?  It’s about the second coming!  And I love it just as I do all the rest of God’s music.

So, while I have to say that those folks complaining that it’s too early for Christmas music have a point in terms of the commercialism it breeds, I am as guilty as anyone else.  And I’m not likely to stop my year-round habit any time soon.  So what if we have a whole month to remember the birth of Christ?  The rebel in me simply wants to remember it all year round!  After all, it was the most important thing in our history so far, so why not!?

My Christmas Gift to You!

December 25, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Shepherd’s Tale

The city below was hushed and dark,
and starlight lit the hill.
The sheep were sleeping soundly,
and the night around was still.

Then in the quiet came a light,
and we lay in awe and fear.
The angel of the Lord had come,
and we our dooms did wait to hear.

But he bade us be not frightened,
for his tidings were only good.
A savior had been born he said
in Bethlehem which nearby stood.

A sign he gave us ere he left
to help us know the child.
We’d find him wrapped in swaddling clothes
in a manger – and we smiled.

No sooner had he finished
than a multitude appeared,
who sang a song of praise and joy,
and then the heavens cleared.

A moment thus we sat and gaped
then one by one we stood.
We ran as one to find the babe,
and share these tidings good.

We found them, as the angel said,
and gathered round the manger.
With Mary and Joseph we worshiped there,
then ran to tell the neighbors.

Many heard but couldn’t believe
that shepherds such as we
Would ever have been favored so
that angels we should see.

So we went back to find our sheep
all there and sleeping still,
And many nights we sat and sang
the angels’ song upon the hill.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

‘Tis the Season to be Singing

December 16, 2010

In my book, it is always a season for singing, but Christmas time just doubles my vocalizing for some inexplicable reason ;)!

I’ve always loved Christmas songs, especially carols.  I remember the excitement of my first years as part of our church Christmas plays, pageants, or choirs.  Some years we had a play based around Christmas, and I sometimes got to act, which I also enjoyed, but I loved the years we had a choir.

Standing on stage for the performance looked nothing like all the rehearsals.  For one thing, rehearsals tended to be during the day, while performances were in the evening.  Speaking or singing to a darkened sanctuary sent a tingly feeling up my spine.  And then there were people out there!  Sure, I knew there would be people, but the size of my church never came home so dramatically as when I got up to perform in front of a couple hundred eyes.

I still have fond memories of the first solos I sang for Christmas.  One year, I sang “Away in a Manger” as a trio, but the next year, they chose a different girl to sing with the two sisters I had performed with previously.  I was then asked to sing a verse of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” all by myself.  After being disappointed in not getting to sing in the trio again, I was floored and a bit nervous to get a whole solo!  Later, I was also asked to sing a trio with my two siblings.  While I wasn’t that much of a singer back then, I meant what I sang, and I did my best, two things which cover a multitude of wrong notes or mistakes.

I’ve sung solos in each church after that, sometimes in Christmas cantatas, sometimes in Easter cantatas, and sometimes just for fun.  My favorites, however, are the Christmas songs.  I didn’t think of singing Twila Paris‘s “It’s the Thought” until much too late to pull it together this year, but maybe next year I’ll have the time.  For this year, my solo in the Christmas cantata is enough.

Although carols are my favorite, there are a select few other Christmas songs I like.  Bing Crosby’s version of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” is fabulous, and I was caught by something in an old rendition of “Silver Bells” that I like.  I’ve even gotten to like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” after seeing the Fred Astaire movie of that name.  Of course, my favorite modern Christmas song is Mark Lowry‘s “Mary, Did You Know?”  That’s because my father sings it most years, and although he doesn’t sing it like Lowry, his version is as good or better!

Christmas time is a great time to sing because the songs of Christmas revolve around . . . you guessed it, Christ!  I can’t imagine anything better to sing about than God’s gift to mankind.  Sure, there are a lot of parts to that gift, from the manger to the empty grave.  I love to sing about them all, but as I like to say, my favorite song is the one I’m singing right now!

Season for Snow

December 1, 2010

I love snow.

Despite the trouble of shoveling, despite the damper of difficult travel, despite the reality of a cold nose and ears, I love snow!  I love to look out and see everything covered in snow.

The first snowfall each year takes me back to the days when I would see flakes falling and run to our back slider door.  Lying on my back with my head at the door, I could look out and see dark blobs falling from the sky.  They looked so funny, not like snow at all!

I also remember the year we took black construction paper onto the deck to see the flakes falling on it.  Each was different, of course, but they all had the same six point design.  Isn’t it amazing how many designs God has for snowflakes?

Perhaps one of the reasons I like snow so much is because I was a winter baby.  More likely I like snow because to me it symbolizes several things.  First, in my mind snow is associated with Christmas.  I’ll have to write another post on that one!  Snow also makes me think of renewal, because it helps cover the grass during the cold winter months, protecting it from the sun while it cannot grow.  Come spring, the snow will melt and the grass will come out again, looking all the greener for having slept under its winter blanket!

And as white as snow is, it always reminds me of how my sins have been washed whiter even than snow.  Knowing a small portion of how black my sins were (to know the full extent of their sins would daunt anyone, which is why God in his mercy never allows us to see it), I am continually amazed by the wonder of God’s wonderful gift, making me white and clean again!

Okay, and the last reason I like snow?  All right, all right, it’s probably not the last, just the last one I’ll bore you with right now.  Snow gets me in the mood for singing Christmas Carols!  I sing them all year round, actually, and singing in my church’s Christmas Cantata always gets me started early, but something about snow on the ground makes me even more tuneful.  I love to hear the old carols, and it’s even better to sing them!

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men

I thought how as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said
For death is strong and mocks the song
Of Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
“God is not dead, nor does he sleep
The wrong shall fail the right, prevail
With Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men”


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