In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the entire inhabited earth should be taxed. This taxation was first made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to his own city to be taxed. So Joseph also departed from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to the City of David which is called Bethlehem, in Judea, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be taxed with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So while they were there, the day came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in strips of cloth, and laid Him in a … [Read more...]

  How often do you hear the statement, "I just want her to be happy." Happy.  Happiness is great... but what if we instead would say, "I what him to have joy."     Joy, to me, seems supremely greater than happiness. Joy is something my heart deeply desires.  It isn't dependent upon circumstances.  It's that deep abiding sense of well-being that transcends our situations. Meeting an old friend on the street, hearing a humorous joke, or watching a comedy may induce the feeling of happiness.  Yet, if that old friend were to meet you for lunch and you were to have a true heart to … [Read more...]

  Peace.  We all want it. Peace for the world.  Peace in our hearts.  Peace in our homes.  Peace in our relationships.     Often, our struggle looks like the kitty here.     Let's take some time together for a few reflections on peace.   For several years, I hosted an annual Christmas open house in my home. One of the attendees had been there for quite a while when she said to me, "I love being in your home, it's so peaceful." How is it that my home was a peaceful place when ladies were coming and going and eating and laughing and chatting? … [Read more...]

  What are you hoping for? A good test result? An interview? A mended relationship?     Hope is a funny word.  To me, it's kind of a nebulous word for a nebulous idea or feeling. How many times do we say, "Oh, I hope so!" To your spouse or child, you might say, "I hope you have a good day." or "I hope you have a great time!" It's kind of like a wish.   Other times it's an expectation for something to happen or for someone to make something happen. We often put our hope in things, in people, in events. Recently, a lot of people placed their hope in a … [Read more...]

  Thankful. Today I got up and chose to live a thankful life.  Funny thing is... I did that unconsciously.  And with abandon. I wanted to go down to the lake to see the waves.  The wind had been howling all night, there were snow squalls, and winds were said to be gusting 40-50 mph so I knew there would be big waves. But, first, I need to purchase a new baking dish. It's a thankful dish.  A name brand  9x13 baking dish that was all of $6 at the dollar store.  At least half the price of the supermarket on steroids. Why is it a thankful dish?  I'm so glad you … [Read more...]

  Students on college campuses across the country were so filled with fear and anxiety following the presidential election that exams were postponed, cocoa was served, crayons and Play-Doh were given out, and counselors were made available. Fear spills out of every news channel as well as our Facebook news feeds. So many people are worried about their future, their children's future, the future of our country and the world. Yet, Jesus said in the midst of very tumultuous and troubling times... not unlike ours...   "Don’t ever worry about tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will worry about … [Read more...]

  You are so very blessed. I'm not talking about the roof over your head, the family that sits around the table with you, or any of the "stuff" of life. It's all good. But there's better.     As we embark on the season of Thanksgiving I am so taken with the knowledge that God takes joy in doing good to us. I will make an agreement with them that I will not turn away from them. I will do good to them, an agreement that will last forever... I will have joy in doing good to them. Jeremiah 32:40-41 Our good is His good. Our joy is His joy. It is His forever promise to … [Read more...]

  Do you remember that old saying, a smile is a frown turned upside down? The other day I found myself sitting at a stoplight and noticed that my mouth was set in a frown. What?!  At that moment I realized my happiness had gotten up and left. If I'm in charge of my happiness... how did that happen?     Before I answer that question, I need to ask... What is your happiness quotient? On a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the state of supreme happiness... where do you sit? Are you happy with that spot?     I don't think I'm the only one who has … [Read more...]

  On this absolutely perfect fall afternoon, we took two neighbor kids on a hike. There was so much delight in discovery that Sarah said, "This place is a palace!"     Not 100 steps from our home and we were in another world under the canopy of oaks and beeches. We took them on an incredible adventure... it was if we entered Narnia. As we left the palace of the pines we entered a mighty swath of dune grasses.     At 6 and 10 their imaginations were in full force. "Where are we?" we heard multiple times.  And multiple times we answered. Not a … [Read more...]

  Have you ever had a problem with yellow-jacket wasps at your house? At our first house we had ground bees one summer... but never bees or wasps IN our house.     For the past few months, we've been living in an apartment.  It's in a nice wooded area and we see turkeys and deer across the road regularly. That's how I like to enjoy wildlife... with a little distance between us. So, when I got stung on my foot in my apartment a few months ago, I immediately let the owners know, and informed them that there was a nest in the back outside wall.  We later discovered that there was … [Read more...]

  Have you ever wondered how to pray for someone? Maybe someone in your family or a close friend has gone off to college for the first time. How do you pray for him? Maybe your friend is in a new job... or maybe they are in an old job that has challenges every way they turn. How do you pray for her? There are so many scenarios.  Someone needs prayer and you're at a loss. I have a prayer for you to pray and it comes straight from the Bible....   This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see … [Read more...]

    That got your attention. Good grief... we're taught not to shout. So how in the world will shouting bring happiness?  Good question. These verses from the Book of Psalms opened my eyes... But make everyone rejoice who puts his trust in you. Keep them shouting for joy because you are defending them. Fill all who love you with your happiness. For you bless the godly man, O Lord; you protect him with your shield of love. Psalm 5:11-12     The psalmist pleads with God to "make" all who trust in Him rejoice. That's such an odd thing.  Doesn't it seem like … [Read more...]

  Today is the 15th Anniversary of one of the most dreadful days in American history... 9/11. So much has been written and read... I don't know that I have much to add other than my personal story and my personal call to action.     My story is one of a distant bystander. That fateful morning I had a lazy morning at home.  I had the day off and was lounging in my pj's, reading the latest home decor magazines, enjoying a cup of tea, and watching the "Today Show" on TV. It was a most spectacular day with the brightest blue sky and I had plans to get outside and enjoy every … [Read more...]

  This week was a double header. No there wasn't any baseball involved. However, I did enjoy two celebrations in one week. And a really big one too.     Tuesday was my birthday and then five days later we celebrated our anniversary.  It's a big milestone kind of anniversary.  One for which you gather your friends for a party or take a cruise or celebrate by purchasing a new fun car.     I'm sure you know our budget isn't capable of  even thinking of such extravagances.  So we did little things... like split a yummy pretzel sandwich and soda at cute … [Read more...]

  If August had an official flower, I think it might be the sunflower. They stand tall.. stretching for the sun... bravely holding their seedy heads high. As our days grow shorter and the sun sinks lower in the sky each day, the sunflowers with rays of brilliant yellow brighten our spirits.     How is it that we see emotion in the sunflowers? Do you think we just might be transferring our feelings? I know, it's a crazy thought, but we anthropomorphize animals and birds all the time, so I guess doing that with flowers isn't too far-fetched. Maybe we see happiness … [Read more...]

  We live along the Lake Michigan shoreline.  In less than 5 minutes we can wriggle our toes in the sand... watch the stillness or the crash of the waves... and stand or kneel in awe of the colors of the setting sun.     After being away for so many years, each night that we could, we'd go to the beach to watch the sunset and stand in absolute awe.  Humbled that our Creator would night after night "paint" the. most. gorgeous. colors across the sky and place thin and thick clouds to catch the colorful hues of the setting sun. Our hearts were grateful. Some nights we would start … [Read more...]

  Let me tell you about the day I settled for second best... It wasn't pretty.     It was one of those days. You know... the kind where you take one cookie... and before you know it... you've had six. I've never thought of myself as an emotional eater. But SIX cookies?!!     Cookies don't make me feel better... in fact... they give me a pain in my stomach.  My stomach was NOT designed for SIX cookies. (Six peanut M&M's, maybe.) So why did I eat them? Because at the moment... their sweet and chocolaty goodness gave me a brief … [Read more...]

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