Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I Am Dreaming of a White Hodge Podge....NOT!

Welcome to the weekly Wednesday Hodgepodge. Nobody has anything else they should be doing today, do they? So why not join the party here? As a reminder the Hodgepodge will be on Christmas vacation next week, so no questions/answers on Dec 23/24th. We'll be back to ring in the new year together the week after, December 30/31.  If you want to read everyone's answers or participate then jump over to Joyce's blog and check it out.

Here we go-

1. Time magazine has selected The Ebola Fighters as their person of the year for 2014. Do you agree, and if so who do you think is a close second? If you disagree with their choice, who do you think should have been chosen?  I am glad it is at least someone/some group that has made a positive impact on the world.

2. This question comes to you courtesy of Susan who blogs over at Stew Mama Says. She knows we have a wedding happening any minute now and she asks, "What's your favorite something old? Something new? Something borrowed? Something blue in your home? Be sure you hop over and say hi to Susan today!  Something old? My grandfather's Tater Bug mandolin.  Something new? My 2014 monogramed ornament that Miss Wendy made for me.  Something borrowed? An Amish Christmas book borrowed from Miss Jane.  Something blue? The blue candle Renee gave me for my birthday.

3. Fudge-yay or nay? Your favorite flavor? Do you make it yourself? With nuts or without?
Not a huge fan of fudge....I like fudge, but don't love it. It is way too rich. I enjoy a sliver and that's enough. My favorite flavor is just chocolate and walnuts and preferably from Mackinaw Island.   

4. December 17th is Wright Brothers Day, commemorating the first successful flights made by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. How old were you when you made your first flight? Do you like to fly? Have you ever been to Kitty Hawk or other parts of the North Carolina Outer Banks?  I flew to see my grandparents when I was 9.  I actually got wings from the stewardess for this flight.  I like to fly...prefer to drive so I can see more.  I have been to Kitty Hawk and loved it.  
5. Do the people in your family tend to follow a particular career path, and if so what's the path?
Most of my family are in some form of the medical profession.  There are a few of us who teach.....but no one really has followed any particular career path.

6. What is one thing you absolutely, positively must accomplish today?  Make sure all my semester exams are graded and entered into my gradebook.
7. This Christmas I hope______________________________________.  I have to agree with Joyce on this one.  All is calm. All is bright.  
8. Insert your own random thought here.  Are you finished shopping?  Remember there is just one week until Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2014

God Gave Us Angels

About The Book:  “What do angels do all day, Papa?”  When Papa finds Little Cub looking for angels, it gives him a chance to tell his beloved child about those that may be in their midst, even when they can’t be seen.  Exploring their exhilarating Arctic world as they talk, Papa lovingly answers all of Little Cub’s questions about angels—and as usual, she has a lot. She wants to know what they do, how they look, how they guard God’s loved ones, and best of all, how they serve the Creator of the world.  “God really created angels to serve him more than us, Little Cub.  They love him and would do anything for him.”  This uplifting tale will encourage young hearts by exploring the glory and design of God’s messengers, while turning toward him with praise. 
Also available:
God Gave Us You
God Gave Us Two
God Gave Us Christmas
God Gave Us Heaven
God Gave Us Love
God Gave Us the World
God Gave Us Easter
 Over two million copies in the series sold!

About The Author:  Lisa Tawn Bergren is the best-selling author of over thirty novels, children's books, and nonfiction books. She's currently working on a teen time travel series called River of Time. Lisa and her husband Tim reside in Colorado with their three children.
My Thoughts About The Book:  I LOVED THIS BOOK!  It reminds me of the children's book, The Littlest Angel.  This was my first read of the series and I am going to have to buy the rest.  This is a great bedtime read for your small children, your grandchildren, or just for the inner child in you.  A definite 5 star book in both writing and illustration. 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Blogging For Books and Edelweiss as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Counting The Days Til Hodgepodge

Welcome to another week in the Wednesday Hodgepodge. If your week is like my week, you're busy, so thank you for taking the time to play along today. Here we go-

 1. What is one new holiday tradition you'd like to establish, or one you've established recently, say in the last year or two?  Celebrating Advent in the house  We do it at church, but I would love to celebrate it each day at home.
2. It's the second week of December. Have you sipped a cup of eggnog yet this month? Wrapped a gift? Opened a gift? Kissed someone under the mistletoe? Lit a candle? Eaten a Christmas cookie? Seen Santa in person? Watched a Christmas movie or special? Read scripture relating to the birth of Jesus?  I have not had my traditional one cup of eggnog yet.  I have wrapped a few gifts and have several others to do.  I am behind just like Joyce. I have opened two gifts yet. No to the mistletoe, but I'm not opposed to it-ha! I burn candles year round, and my home is full of them at Christmastime. I bought some new ones from Celebrating Home and have really loved the Apple Pie one.  I've sampled a few Christmas cookies  at a couple of Holiday gatherings, and have also seen Santa.  I have  watched  just about every single movie Hallmark Channel has to offer.  I read scripture relating to the birth of Jesus every day during the month of December. I am a preacher and this is my favorite time of the year.
3. Do you think it's better to be an adult or a child at Christmastime? Explain.
I have loved both ends of this continuum.  I loved being a child and getting gifts and experiencing the magic of the season.  I love being an adult and making Christmas happen for those I love and those I don't even know.  My biggest kick this year was sending Christmas to Moldova for a child.  I would do without a gift myself for that kind of feeling. 
4. It's often said, 'Good things come to those who wait'...agree or disagree? Why?I am 100% with Joyce on this one.  Sometimes. And sometimes you snooze you lose.  It depends what we're talking about, but yes I think it can be true.  I think waiting is something of a lost art.  As it relates to Christmas, the waiting for it to get here is one of my favorite parts. 
5. What's the last sweet thing you baked? Did you keep it, take it to a party/event, or give it away?I baked two batches of pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving.  I also made Grannies Pecan Cornbread for Thanksgiving....and baked a few dozen Tollhouse Cookies.  I took most of them somewhere else.  I have a few new recipes I am planning to try out once I get out for the holidays.  I got a new bean pot from Celebrating Home and I can't wait to give it a whirl.
 6.  This question comes to us courtesy of Jhona who blogs over at The Red House at the End of the Lane. Everyone hop over and say hi to Jhona this week!  Here is her question... "I heard an actor talk about how he makes a conscious choice to talk to people in elevators.  He chooses to connect, make eye contact, and converse. Do you talk to people/strangers when you're in an elevator or any other place where you might have to wait together? Why or why not?"  I will talk to  anyone....anywhere....anytime.  Most people that know me know that I have an invisible neon sign I wear on my forehead that says..."If you talk, I will listen." 
7. Are you on the naughty or nice list this year? What put you there?
I am probably riding the fence this year.
8.  Random Thought - Today is Human Rights Day.  Many of you know that my daughter and her husband are missionaries in an orphanage in Moldova.  Talk about Human here and visit the Christmas video for Stella's Voice.  This was the answer to my number 3 from above.  If you want to know more about Stella's Voice just google them.  You can learn all about what they are....

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Forever Christmas

About The Book:  This Christmas will change Andrew Farmer’s life forever.  Andrew can’t remember the last time he spent Christmas away from work. The end of the year is crunch time for literary agents. But when your career is your life, your life starts to suffer . . . beginning with your marriage.  When a heart-wrenching accident in a Christmas Eve snowstorm jars this high-powered agent from his obsession with success, a Christmas miracle will give him a second chance at love, life, and gratitude, but only if he can put aside his own ambition and learn to appreciate each moment.  Sometimes it takes a tragedy to change a man’s life—and to teach him to treat every day as if it were his last.
About the Author:  Robert Tate Miller began his writing career with homespun essays of small town life that were published by Reader's Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. He moved to Los Angeles in the late 1980s and wrote successful family-oriented telefilms for NBC, ABC Family, and the Hallmark Channel. Robert lives in Northridge, CA, with his wife Gina and stepdaughter Chloe June.
My Thoughts On The Book:  This was one of those books that captures you in the very beginning and holds you until the very last sentence.  Miller is an excellent developer of his characters and you feel as if you have know them forever.  I found myself getting angry at Andrew and his selfishness and feeling so very sorry for his wife and her found her selflessness refreshing.  I don't want to spoil the story so I will leave you with the fact that this is not one of those books where you know the ending by page ten.  This ending comes entirely from left field.  I have not read anything my Robert Miller before but I promise you I will read him again.  This is a must read for Christmas!  I gave this book 5 stars and I HIGHLY recommend it.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from BookLook Bloggers  as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Quilts of Love Series: Swept Away

About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About The Book: Sara doesn't think she wants love. But her grandmother has other plans.
Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her ailing, stubborn grandmother. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don't always go as planned.
Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past---and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but his heart is as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane's grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between Drew and his new employer's granddaughter.
Still, it doesn't take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn't what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts researching him online. What she discovers could change her life---and her heart---forever.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.
About The Authors:  Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning author and a professional book reviewer. A stay-at-home mom and home school teacher, Laura lives with her family in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. 
Cindy Loven is active in the church and writes from her home in Conway, Arkansas, where she lives with her husband and their son.
My Thoughts About The Book:  Swept Away was a book I struggled with.  It was amazing, but the story line of Alzheimers really touched me.   The authors did an amazing  job in character development.  I felt as if I knew each one of them first hand. This book is one of the Quilts of Love collection yet, it is a stand-alone.  I have read all of the series to date and was delighted by each one.  This book contained several crafty ideas that were very interesting.  The ballad quilt drew me in, I am now planning my own ballad quilt for a tune my grandfather used to play called Maggie.  Drew's homemade brooms with the faith connection were such a neat way to weave in the faith part of the story.  I loved the Grandmother best of all.   This is a must read!  Loved it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse and Abingdon Press as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Second Sunday of Advent

Today is Communion Sunday AND the second Sunday of Advent.  I think that makes it especially nice.  I am excited about communion today because it falls during the Christmas season.  It is a time to reflect a little deeper about our lives and what we have done.
     ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ (Luke 1:4)

Some scholars believe that John had known from very early in his life that the Event of the Ages was at hand, and that he had been born to herald its arrival. Reared in daily view of Mt. Nebo, from whose heights Moses had viewed with longing eyes the Promised Land and spoke of the Promised Messiah; overlooking the Jordan where Joshua had crossed, and Jericho whose walls had fallen at Joshua’s blast; living in the same region where Amos had pastured his flocks and had dreamed of a coming Davidic King who would rule all nations; often visiting the brook, where Elijah had been fed by the ravens; John meditated deeply on the history that was now heading to its climax, and he waited for the call of God.  Sensing he was to be like the Elijah of prophecy, John intentionally, perhaps, copied the habits and dress of Elijah.  He lived on locusts and wild honey. Locusts had been used as food from earliest times. They were roasted, or sun-dried, and eaten. It is said that they taste like shrimp.  When John was 30 years old his call came. The nation, groaning under the cruelties of Roman bondage, was electrified by the voice of this strange, rugged, fearless hermit of the desert, crying on the banks of the Jordan that the long-foretold Deliverer was at hand.  The burden of his cry was “Repent.” His preaching experienced immense popular success. The whole land was stirred. Great multitudes came to his baptism. John had great influence over the people, who seemed ready to do anything that he should advise.  John was at the height of his popularity when he baptized Jesus, and proclaimed him the Messiah. Then, his mission accomplished, he passes off the stage. He had roused the nation, and presented the Son of God. His work was done.

     Advent heralds the arrival of GOD with us. It is the time when GOD comes to earth to live as we live. It is the time when GOD shares his love with us as we should share our love with Him and among ourselves. Advent prepares us to welcome the arrival of GOD - The Teacher - who by example shows us how He would like us to live. How we should share His love between our Lord God and ourselves and, more importantly, between you and me, between our neighbours and ourselves.

     Last Sunday, we lit the first of the Advent candles - the candle that represents preparation. It should symbolize our preparation for God’s coming again.  "The great day of the LORD is near - near and coming quickly" according to the profit Zepheniah.

     Advent gives us four weeks to ponder where we are in God’s creation of things. Advent can be the time when we, as individuals, as members of the whole family of God, should turn a mirror on ourselves. And we should look at that reflection of ourselves and ponder our place within this large and wonderful family.  Isaiah expresses Advent’s hope: would that GOD would come and find us mindful of him.

     In the Gospels, Jesus suggests that because of the demands our life can put on each one of us, it is very easy to forget what our life should be all about - that we are, because of GOD; that we have, because of GOD. We are the benefactors of a truly wonderful God. Without our belief in our GOD, this world would certainly be a different place in which to live. God is the best thing to ever happen to the people of this planet.

     Advent is four weeks when we should reflect on how we might need to heed John’s call to the people. Advent is four weeks when we should balance our busy schedules with times for stillness and reflection.  Stillness allows things that matter to rise up in our hearts. And Reflection gives us the room to ask ourselves questions that we may not otherwise hear.

Questions like:

What do I believe?

Why do I believe it?

What difference is it making in how I live?

What do I give to GOD?

What of mine belongs to GOD?

Advent should cause us to do two things: watch and wait. Staying awake and being alert are two Advent behaviors Jesus calls us to.  Jesus is not coming to Bethlehem this Christmas. Bethlehem is history. Bethlehem has moved. Bethlehem is now located wherever WE are: wherever we love, trust, laugh, cry, and take a stand, wherever we tell the truth, forgive, or just wait on GOD to teach us what to do. We are the new Bethlehem! That is God’s gift to us or, rather God’s challenge to us. What we do with it is our thank you to GOD.

     GOD has given us the means to do his Will. What we do when GOD calls upon us, is our thank you to GOD.  But we have to know ourselves well enough to be aware of when He is calling us. And we need times of stillness and reflection to hear Him! We need times of stillness and reflection to put all this together, to appraise where we are in this God-thing.

     God gives us the opportunity to do something for Him in our lives. Always there is sufficient space for the human work and the human will. We are here as short term tenants, and we have the freedom to decide on what we will do and how we shall spend our time. We can decide to not respond to God’s call, for a while we have the initiative and we have some control of our hours and labor. If we choose to not respond, if we choose to ignore God’s call - where is the good? Communion today is a good time to reflect, be still, and revive ourselves don't you think?



Saturday, December 6, 2014

God's Grace

This is my Children's Moment for Sunday.  I was going to do the Advent wreath only with them, but decided that they needed something they would understand.

Scripture:  For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

Do you know the song "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town?"  In the song it says, "He's making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty and nice.  Santa Claus is coming to town."  I can remember when I was a little boy I used to worry about which one of Santa's lists I would be on.  Would I be on the "Naughty" list or the "Nice" list?  Kids today don't have to wonder about that anymore.  With our modern computers, you can go to Santa's web site at and you can find out which list you are on.  This week I decided I would go and check it out to see which list I was on this year and this is what I found out.

• MR. K - "Nice!" Matter of fact, one of the nicest years ever! Really helped the family and friends when they needed it. Is always polite. Extremely honest. What's more, adds a good sense of humor to situations, which is always a "nice" touch. Don't go overboard on the sweets though.

While I was there, I decided to check up on a few of the other staff members here at church and find out which list they were on.  Maybe I shouldn't have done that, but I did and here is what I found out when I put in the name of:  (the names have been changed to protect the guilty.)

  Pastor - Nice, but has been naughty at times. Neatness and politeness have been very good over the last two weeks. Shows proper respect for others. Shares well, but could always be better. With a little more effort could be near top of "nice" list.

• Associate Pastor - Nice, but has been naughty at times. Neatness and politeness have been very good over the last two weeks. Shows proper respect for others. Shares well, but could always be better. With a little more effort could be near top of "nice" list.

• Nursery Coordinator - Nice, with a few naughty marks. Neatness needs improvement. Behavior has been good sometimes, not so good other times. Manners could still use some attention. Was very nice last Monday.

• Youth Minister - "Nice" and getting better all the time! Has shown great improvement with manners and cleaning up his room. A good friend who usually gives good advice. Still has a naughty tendency to leave his socks on the floor

• Youth Intern - Nice, but has room for improvement. Could be better listener. Has a kind heart. Often sets a good example for others. Was very nice last Saturday!! Hopefully, will keep up the good work!

• Church Secretary - Nice, but needs to be good all year, not just around Christmas time. Makes others happy. Could share more, however. Politeness is sometimes very good. Can be great listener.

• Custodian - Overall, niceness outweighs naughtiness. Was good a lot last month! Politeness often good, but has room for improvement. Could help around house more instead of watching so much TV.

You know, I think a lot of people think God is like Santa Claus.  They think He sits on his throne up in heaven and looks down to see if we are being naughty or nice and if we do more nice things than naughty things, we get to go to heaven.  That isn't the way God works at all!  When God looks down at us He sees that ALL HAVE SINNED AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD.  None of us deserve to go to heaven because of our own goodness.  That is why we celebrate Christmas.  God sent His Son, Jesus to be born in a stable and to die on a cross to save us from our sin.  If we put our trust in Jesus, then God writes our name in the Book of Life and it can never be erased!  That is the real meaning of Christmas!