Friday, December 9, 2016

A Winter Sunset

Another wintery day.  The low this morning was 10 degrees.  By 2 p.m., the sun had brought a warmer temperature of 32.  One could feel the 22 degrees difference.

There is only so much that you can do inside of your warm home.  There is the comfort of baking cookies and feeling the warmth from the oven; reading by the fire, relaxing on the sofa and listening to Christmas music in the background.

Needing some fresh air, I bundled up and headed outside.  The warm sun had melted the snow on the sidewalk.  Since it was later in the afternoon, the sun was beginning to go behind the mountains.

As I walked along, I observed the doves and hawks in the trees trying to stay warm and that there was a quietness among the birds.

To the west, I was in awe of the sunset.  With the barren trees and the whimsical clouds and pastel colors of blue and pink and gray clouds, one wondered when would spring come.  I know that spring is in three months.  For the time being, I need to treasure this season of my life.  I need to allow my body to relax and rest during this winter season.  There is a reason for all the seasons.  I shall take time and enjoy!


Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Wintery Day

I know that the first day of winter is not until December 21st, but for me the last two days have officially begun the winter season.

Yesterday, I woke up to an overcast, snowy day.  During the night, it had snowed about five inches. As I looked outside in the early morning hours, I noticed that no one had driven down the street.  The solid white snow, with no blemish of tire marks, looked like a winter wonderland.  With no one stirring, there was a calmness in the air.

It snowed off and on during the morning hours.  As I looked out of my office window, I was so thankful that I had a warm, comfortable home and that I did not have to drive to an office.

Later in the afternoon, the sun did come out and I bundled up and headed outside for a walk.  With my cap on, knitted gloves and the three layers of clothes that I had on, I was able to handle a thirty minute walk through the neighborhood.  There were others out for a walk as well.   It felt good as the warm sun hit my face.

One could feel the change in temperature as the sun began to set in the west, so I began to walk faster. I made it back to my warm home before the sun set.

This morning I woke up to a -11 temperature and a beautiful sunrise, which was a yellowish, pinkish color.  All I could think of was how majestic God is!  "I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the wonderful things you have done."  Psalms 9:1

With the sun out, it did seem warmer, even though the temperature only reached 20.

Winter is officially here!  With snow on the ground and the colder temperatures, it does feel like Christmas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Seventy-five years ago, more than 2,400 Americans were killed on a U.S. Naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Japanese fighters attacked in the early hours of December 7, 1941.  The USS Arizona, a massive battleship, was destroyed by a bomb, which sunk the ship and killed the 1,177 people on board.  The Navy decided to leave the ship and the men who had perished on board.  They would be considered buried at sea because it would be too difficult to remove them in a respectful manner.  The ship still leaks 2 to 9 quarts of oil each day.

The United States entered World War II the next day and President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered this speech, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941-- a date which will live in infamy-- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan..." The United States was at war with Japan.

There are very few survivors left.  As Americans, we need to remember this date, as this was a turning point in our American history.  Tom Brokaw's book "The Greatest Generation" talked about these men and women who survived the Great Depression and then went and fought in World War II and survived.  He stated that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the "right thing to do".

May we continue to share this history with the next generations so that they will know what previous generations have done to give us the freedom that we have!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Tree in NYC

This will be my first year in five years not  to be in New York City for the Christmas season.

One of the photos that popped-up on Facebook today was the photo of the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center.  There is something about the tree that just mesmerizes you.  The beauty, the lights and the thousands of people that surround you.

This year's Norway spruce is 94 feet, 57 feet wide, weighs 36,000 lbs. and has over 30,000 lights(about 5 miles of strands) on the tree.  After the tree comes down after the 1st week of January, it will be donated to Habitat for Humanity and made into lumber that will then be used to build homes.

The tradition of the Christmas tree began on Christmas Eve in 1931.  Workers at the Rockefeller Center construction site decided to pool their money together to buy a 20 foot balsam fir Christmas tree.  They decorated it with handmade garland from their families.  The men lined up at the tree to receive their paychecks.  It was two years later, that the Rockefeller Center decided to make the tree an annual tradition and held the first official lighting ceremony.

The collection of the white lit metal wire herald angels in the Channel Gardens sets the stage for viewing this spectacular tree.

Eighty-five years later, the Christmas tree draws people from all over the world.  The tree has been seen in so many movies throughout the years.  Some of the movies that I think of are the "Elf", "Miracle on 34th Street"; "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York"; "Scrooged" and so many more.

As you make your bucket list, make sure you put Christmas in New York City.

Enjoy the rest of the month and "Merry Christmas"!

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Twelve Days of Christmas"

Last week I had the opportunity to enjoy "The Twelve Days of Christmas" at the Arboretum in Dallas, Texas.

The evening was just perfect.  There was a chill in the air and a light mist of rain(which didn't last long).  My sister and I wrapped up in our light-weight coats and gloves and cap strolled through the gardens.  Due to the weather, there were only about 300 people.  The volunteers said that normally, especially on the weekends, there are about 1,200 people each evening that attend this event.

The Twelve Days of Christmas are set-up throughout the 66 acres.  In each location, there is a gazebo set up with it's specific theme.  Little white lights are displayed throughout the acres.

I found out that the arboretum begins to set up for this event in September.  The local firemen come in and set up each of the 12 gazebos.  After the gazebos and the trees are set-up, the designers from the Performing Arts Center begin to set-up the actual displays.

The Twelve Days of Christmas is opened to the public from November 6 - January 8, 2017.

By the time, my sister and I walked to each of the gazebos and listened to the various singers throughout, we were singing the words for the "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

"On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree....
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two turtle doves.....
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three French hens....
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four calling birds....
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me five golden rings.....
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six geese a laying....
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave me seven swans a swimming....
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave me eight maids a milking....
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave me nine ladies dancing......
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave me ten lords a leaping.....
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave me eleven pipers piping....
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave me twelve drummers drumming....

I could visualize each day.  It was a great way to learn this song!

Some pictures from the Arboretum:

"Partridge in a Pear Tree"

"Twelve drummers drumming"

Lights and the gazebo for "four calling birds".

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"What Child is This?"

This morning as we sang "What Child is This?" and other Christmas carols, I reflected on the season and the meaning behind it.

As the pastor approached the podium, he stated that Christmas was one of his favorite holidays.  He loves everything about it; the Christmas tree, caroling, driving around at night looking at the lights, the social gatherings, etc.  But what he really loves about Christmas is telling the story.

His lesson for today was "The God of History" or "His-Story".  He read Matthew 1:1-17 and stated that these verses were the true meaning of Christmas.

These were his words, "Matthew begins his telling of the Christmas story not with the well-known event of an angel visiting Mary, but with a long, seemingly tedious genealogy instead.  Forty-two generations are covered in this genealogy and although each generation was unique, there were common questions they all wrestled with:  Is there a point to human history?  Do my failures disqualify me?  Can God be trusted?  Matthew begins his account of the Christmas story with Jesus' genealogy not to fill space, but to answer the fundamental questions we face.  And so in this genealogy Matthew reveals the God who rules history, the people who are part of God's story, and the reason we trust God with our story."

Wow!  I had never thought of it that way.  I can't tell you how many times I have by-passed those seventeen verses and went straight to verse 18.  I will now appreciate those seventeen verses.  Those forty-two generations before Jesus were people just like me with failures and sin in their lives.

Those forty-two generations made up 2,000 years.  When we begin to think, does God really care about my life, my 62 years of living?  The answer is "yes" He cares.  He cared about those 2,000 years of people's lives.  He cared about their failures.  He invites us as "broken" people to be apart of His story, which is all about "grace".  Bottom line, He cares about me.

We cannot judge God's character by our calendar.  God may take His time, but He always keeps His word.  He is always there for me.  And that my story is just as important as the story of Jesus, because without Jesus I wouldn't have a story.

Now as I read the Christmas story and sing the Christmas carols, I understand that those forty-two generations is what gave us "Christmas".

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Cards

Another cold morning!  17 degrees to be exact.  Today, there was sunshine compared to yesterday with it being a dreary day.

I was able to get in my 10,000+ steps for today.  Yeah!

Also, today I began to address envelopes for our annual Christmas Card.  I have been doing Christmas cards for as long a I remember.  My list has grown throughout the years.  The past several years I have been sending out from 275 to 300 cards.

In the past, I did an annual Christmas letter, but currently I send out a card of about 5 to 7 photos on it.  These are photos of Kenny and I at the various places that we have been at during the year.  This is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family.

As I address each envelope, I say a prayer for that person and their family.  I also reflect on how we met and how they have touched my life throughout the years.

Once again I googled "history of Christmas cards".  "The custom of sending Christmas cards was started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole.  He was a government worker who had helped set-up the post office and wondered how it could be used more by ordinary people.  Sir Henry Cole sent the first card."

"There are more than 3,000 greeting card publishers in America.  15% of Christmas cards are purchased by men.  Over 2 billion Christmas cards are sent in the US each year.  Around 500 million e-cards are sent each year."

People still enjoy getting mail in their mailbox.  It is so much better than receiving bills.

I hope people will take time this Christmas season and send out cards to family and friends and just let them know how much you love them and how much you appreciate them being apart of their lives.

Get in the Christmas spirit and send a card!  Merry Christmas!