Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The View From My Window

"the window of my house"
Proverbs 7:6

Okay, so I made an interesting decor choice over the Christmas season.  And it led to an interesting realization.

I have a basic "regularity" when it comes to decorating my house.  Certain decorations always go in certain places, because that's where it makes sense, or that's the only place where it will fit.  It's a fairly small house, after all.

The nativity scene goes up on the piano where it will be safe from the cat (and the kids, when that mattered).  The ornament balls hang from the plate rail in the dining room.  The international Santas go on the mantel in the living room.  Et cetera.

But I also felt the urge to do something different this year.  So I looked at a few things online, and flipped through a few magazines looking for ideas.  {And I incorporated a few ideas I got from my sister's house last year!  Thanks, B!}

And one of the things I decided is that I wanted to swap out my curtain in the living room for something Christmassy.  So I looked through my Christmas fabrics, and found a couple pieces to incorporate into my decorating, but nothing big enough for a curtain. 

And then it occurred to me that I owned just what I needed ~ a tablecloth.  A red and green plaid tablecloth, hanging from the curtain rod, with a red and green ribbon cinching it during the day.  And it was perfect ~ just what I'd been picturing.

The only problem is, that I had a tablecloth in my home, being used as a curtain, albeit in a window that can't be seen from the front.  But not exactly Martha Stewart, you know what I mean?  Not that I have an inordinate amount of pride in my home, but my mother has set a very high standard.  Her home is beautifully decorated.  Not magazine-perfect, or too fancy to be comfortable, but she is creative in her design.  So I was afraid that using a tablecloth for a curtain would get a good-natured eye roll out of her.

But I brought it up anyway, joking about this silly solution I had found.  And my sister ~ also a bit of an aesthete ~ spoke up, telling me that she has a tablecloth performing the same function in her home. And then ~ get this ~ I walked upstairs to my mother's sewing room, and guess what I saw.  A tablecloth hanging in her window.  I realize I'd known it all along, but I'd completely forgotten it was there.

I was judging myself on the basis of my belief that I'd be judged by someone else ~ even good-naturedly.  I thought that someone in my life would not approve of something I had done.  How often does that happen to you?

There are things we do that we shouldn't do.  And hopefully there are people in our lives who will tell us so.  But there are also things we do that others tell us we shouldn't do, even though it's just their opinion.  It's important to know the difference. 

Give heed to the people in your life that you trust to hold you accountable.  Have friends who are wise, and go to them.  More than that, go to God.  Pray and read the Bible and ask Him for wisdom.  He promises to give that liberally, you know.  And when you do feel He has given you guidance, move ahead confidently.  Don't worry about what others think.

And even if it's just hanging a lovely tablecloth in your window for Christmas, be who you are.  He is your only Judge.

~ "For the Lord is our Judge,
 The Lord is our Lawgiver,
  The Lord is our King" ~
Isaiah 33:22
~

Monday, December 30, 2013

On Re-gifting

"giving food and clothing"
Deuteronomy 10:18

And so the holiday of gift-giving has come and gone.  I have had the fun of shopping for others, and the fun of receiving what others have gotten for me.  The interesting about gifts is how they sometimes seem to reveal something about the giver, too.  In my family, we generally jot down a few ideas for ourselves, so that others don't have to guess what we might want.  So when I decide what I want to buy for someone, I check their list first.

But even then, I don't want to get them just anything off their list.  I want to get them something I want to get them, you know?  Sometimes you can get a gift and tell without looking who it's from, because it's homemade, and you have a loved one that does that kind of thing; or it's very sophisticated, and you know which relative that is.  So I know that often my gift is going to represent me, especially to my sisters or my parents.

Sometimes my family gives used gifts.  My older sister gave my younger sister a Christmas decoration this year, that came from her house.  Last year, when we were all at B's house for Christmas, L admired that item, so this year B wrapped it up and gave it to her.

Or maybe my mom might decide to give each of us an ornament, or other heirloom that was a favorite of ours growing up.

I got into a conversation with some friends this Christmas season, about re-gifting.  Some people think it's wrong, but to me it depends on the circumstance.  If you're just grabbing something you don't want off of your shelf to give to me because you feel you have to give me something, then yes, there's some sincerity missing there. 

But really, all giving is re-gifting.  I hand a clerk money, and she hands me an item.  At that point, it is mine to do with as I please.  Generally, what I please is to give it to the person I was thinking about when I bought it.  I could keep it if I want.  Or I can change my mind and return it if I decide I'd rather have the money.  Instead, I choose to give it to the person I thought would like it.

Not to mention, we have nothing that wasn't given to us by Him.  We simply cannot give out of ourselves ~ we have nothing.  The thoughtfulness, the intelligence, the ability to make or choose or buy a gift, all come from Him. 

It's nice to remember, I think, when I'm grateful to a friend or loved one for a gift they've gotten me.  I'm grateful to Him, too.  Perhaps I should be writing two thank you notes!

~ "If you then, being evil, 
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven
  give good things to those who ask Him!" ~
Matthew 7:11
~

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Lesson From My Exhausted Dog

"those who wait for their master"
Luke 12:36

This is my backyard. 


Actually, this is the side yard.  That's our apple tree, and all the leaves it has dropped in the past few days, because sometimes Autumn doesn't happen in Southern California until late December.  The leaves have taken their time turning colors (those that are going to) and then they all fall off when we get a week of Santa Ana winds. 

So there they all are, making a beautiful carpet on the concrete that surrounds the tree and its planter. 

And that white line through all the leaves?  That's a pathway created by our dog.  See, we've been gone a lot the past few days.  Family and friends came to my folks' house by the dozens, and we were there to spend time with them.  Which means we were not spending time with our dog. 

We don't always put her outside when we leave the house, but the weather has been nice, so we gave her food and water, and let her roam the backyard.  And as you can see, roam she did.  This pathway runs from the back door of the house, to the side gate, from which point she can see the driveway. 

Now, occasionally we have had to put our dog outside for a time, even though we're home.  She's not very stranger-friendly, and she likes to bark.  This makes it hard to talk to visitors, so sometimes we put her outside, as if we're leaving the house, and close the drapes so she can't see us inside.  And if we peek outside at her, we can see her running from the back door to the gate, then back in the other direction, over and over again. 

It must be exhausting, if good exercise.  When we do let her back in, she'll lie down next to one of us and fall asleep.  A very sound sleep. 

It's slightly pitiful, how dependent she is on us.  But at the same time, it's admirable.  She is focused, and devoted, and will not give up looking for us.  I, however, am in a similar situation, but do not react the same way.  The Bible tells me that Jesus will be coming back, and even tells me to be watchful, but for the most part I don't really even think about it, much less watch.  I live my life and go through my routine and do things that are all about me.  Oh sure, I pray and read the Bible.  It's not that I'm not thinking about Him.  But His return is not my focus. 

I get the distinct impression that my dog thinks of nothing else when we are gone, but our return.  Oh sure, she eats the food we put down, and I'm sure she drinks, too, and then takes care of other business.  But it's hasty, and with her eyes always looking. 

Is that too hard for me?  To do the things my life requires but with my mind frequently returning to Him, and hoping for His return?  I guess, in a way, I need the priorities my dog has.

~ "But the end of all things is at hand; 
therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers" ~
1 Peter 4:7
~

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Lesson From Mixed Nuts

"the garden of nuts"
Song of Solomon 6:11

We had mixed nuts for dinner tonight.  A lot of them. 

No, we didn't eat them ~ that's who came to dinner.  Mixed nuts. 

My sister made a comment while we were preparing dinner and getting out appetizers.  She took the box of mixed nuts out of the cupboard and joked about how that box represented our family:  deluxe, premium quality, many varieties, but all nuts. 

The quality of the nuts?  Premium.  The quality of the picture?  Not so much...

 We've seen a lot of family in the last two days ~ immediate family and in-laws; aunts and uncles and cousins; second-cousins and third-cousins and family friends who have been around so long it seems like we're related. 

The variety of personalities is vast.  Outgoing and introverted, upbeat and mellow, gentle and smiling and laugh-out-loud.  Liberal and conservative, religious and irreverent, Type A and Type ~ well, everything else.  Not to mention Baby Boomers and Generations X, Y and Z.

But somehow, when you get them all together, it works.  You spend a little time chatting with those who are a lot like you, and then you sit down and eat with someone else, and maybe you have nothing in common with them but your genes, but it's interesting and fun and a little educational.  And then you get up for dessert and coffee and sit down next to someone else and maybe find out how much you're like them.

I like almonds the best, but if I'm sitting in front of a bowl of mixed nuts, and I'm gonna eat a little of this and a little of that.  Variety is good.

Especially since I'm a little nuts, too.

~ "the best fruits of the land...
a little balm and a little honey,
spices and myrrh,
   pistachio nuts and almonds" ~
Genesis 43:11
~

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Aftermath

"you are like whitewashed tombs
which indeed appear beautiful outwardly..."
Matthew 23:37

I was so proud of myself.  Well, not so proud, I guess.  But proud. 

We were gone for twelve hours yesterday, and of course the one thing we did do, while we were home, is make a giant mess in the living room.  Boxes, bags, tissue paper etc.  Of course, much of it was fairly neatly stacked, each of us having made a pile of our wrapping paraphernalia.  The crumpled wrapping paper was all in a hefty bag over in the corner, but it was still there, in the living room.

I was the first one up today, the day after Christmas.  The rest of my family still slept, exhausted from a busy but fun day of gifts and eating and family.  I came out in the living room, and I cleaned.  I threw out the trash, and separated the gift boxes from the gift bags so I can put them all back in the cupboard in the garage.  I folded all the tissue paper and put it back in the box I keep it in.  I picked up a few tags that had been cut off of new clothes.  I folded up the blankets we had snuggled under yesterday morning while opening presents. 

{I know; it's Southern California.  It was not so cold we had to turn the heater on, but it was cold enough that a couple of us needed blankets.}

And the room looks good.  Still a little disheveled ~ throw pillows not quite in place, and the stockings still need to be re-hung so they'll look nice for the few days until we pack up all the Christmas decor.  But overall it's clean and neat.  And so I was feeling good about it. 

And then, a little while later, I walked out of the room and headed to my bedroom, and I happened to glance behind my chair.  And I saw a pile of boxes and tissue that I'd put back there during the opening.  I'd been getting it out of the way at the time I put it there, but then I'd forgotten about it.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Without realizing it, I found myself a whitewashed tomb.  Or maybe ~ I shudder to think ~ I've been one all along.  Whitewashed tombs are dangerous.  They look nice and clean on the outside, but they are still tombs, and inside are the bones that are unclean.  This is what Jesus was warning the Jews about.   Being clean on the outside, but unclean inwardly.  That's why they're dangerous ~ not only to the one who is a whitewashed tomb, but to everyone who interacts with them, thinking they're safe, but not knowing they are not what they appear.

The lesson is twofold ~ first to be aware of ourselves.  Yes, I cleaned the boxes and tissue in the living room, but I didn't search all parts.  I wasn't thorough.  This applies to my heart, mind and soul, too.  When I seek to clean up my life, I need to look at all parts, not just the ones other people see.

But also we need to be wary of others, that we think are safe.  Like the Pharisees.  They knew so much about the Law and the Word, they certainly seemed like people to be emulated.  But they had mutated the Law ~ adding and interpreting it, confusing and burdening the Jews.  Not all who write or teach (or blog) about the Bible are to be heeded.  Learn for yourself what His Word says, and pray for understanding when you read and study. 

Clean inside, clean outside, learning and growing.  Little by little.  Becoming ever more like Him.

~ "distinguish between the unclean and the clean" ~
Leviticus 11:47
~

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cooking Cookies

"celebrate yearly"
Esther 9:21

I'm going to start with the answers to the Christmas carols, because I know I promised them yesterday, but, well, you know, things happen!  Like Christmas!

So here are the answers:

1.  O Little Town of Bethlehem
2.  O Holy Night
3.  O Come, All Ye Faithful
4.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
5.  Silent Night
6.  Silver Bells
7.  Santa Claus is Coming to Town
8.  The Twelve Days of Christmas
9.  We Three Kings
10. We Wish You a Merry Christmas
11. What Child is This?
12. Winter Wonderland
~

I hope you enjoyed your Christmas celebration with your family.  You know what I found myself thinking about today?  Not the presents, not the wonderful meals we have together.   Cookies.  Cookies of all different kinds.

Chocolate chip and oatmeal and some kind of chocolate/powdered sugar thing I don't even know what it's called.   And chocolate fudge and peanut butter fudge and peppermint fudge.  And Linzer Torte cookies and Hello Dolly bars and chocolate covered pretzels and toffee.

And more.

It's interesting to me that we have more sugared goodies than all of us could possibly eat.  They're just sitting out on the counter on beautiful plates (along with some tangerines and grapes) and we nibble on a little something when our sweet tooth calls to us.

But why so much?  Two or three batches per couple adds up to a lot of cookies, but we do it anyway, every year.  And I think it's because we each want to bring something special to the gathering.  It's either a case of bringing something automatically (like the peanut butter fudge) because it's a family favorite, or you know someone in particular loves it.

Or it's a case of finding something new that sounds interesting or tasted delicious, and you think others will love it too.   It's showing love, in a very sincere way, and wanting to share happiness with family.

Sometimes getting together is hard.  It takes work to be patient with a house full of people with conflicting needs and wants and priorities.  It's hard to try to constantly think of others, especially when giving one person what they want means not letting someone else have what they want.  So we don't always succeed in "doing unto others".

But bringing something yummy is our way of bringing our best.  We go to the effort of researching recipes, and buying and baking and carefully packing and shipping or carrying them on an airplane, all to share them with others. 

We can't always give our best to those around us, but we can still give.

~ "you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it" ~
Leviticus 24:5
~

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Unto Us

"and the government will be upon His shoulder"
Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas.  I wanted to share some words that have been especially sweet to me this Christmas season.  They are song lyrics, from two different songs.  One of them is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," which was written in 1863 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  He wrote it on Christmas Day, at the close of a year that included both the serious wounding of his oldest son in the Civil War, and the death of his wife in a fire. 

The poem has a despairing tone to it, which is understandable when one knows the circumstances in which it was written.  But I think we can feel the same way, sometimes, when we look around at the world we live in today.

But the beauty of the poem, and the song, is that it takes on a tone of triumph and faith in God and His power.  It's a wonderful reminder that we believe in the victory He will bring.

The other song is a relatively new one.  It's called "Winter Snow" and it's on Chris Tomlin's album, "Glory in the Highest" and he sings it with Audrey Assad.  It compares Christ's coming to earth with the beauty of falling snow.

These two songs touched me this year, and they seem to complement one another, because the reason for our faith in Him (as sung about in the first song) is because we know His power and His incredible love for us (as sung about in the second song)

I hope they bless you.

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

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men."

Could've come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could've come like a forest fire
With the power of Heaven in your flame

You could've swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we've scarred

But You came like a winter snow
yes, You did
You were quiet,
You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Your voice wasn't in a bush burning
Your voice wasn't in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small
it was hidden

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail
The right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men"

~

Celebrating with you ~ Mary's son, God's Son.... baby, yet Savior... King, to be crucified... For us He came.  Hallelujah!


~ "In that day 
"HOLINESS TO THE LORD" 
shall be engraved on the bells" ~
Zechariah 14:20
~

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Do You Know What I Know? ~ Part 3

"from the ends of the earth we have heard songs"
Isaiah 24:16

Okay, well, Christmas is almost upon us.  I hope it's a wonderful day and a wonderful week for you.  I'm praying for each of you, and my heart is glad that He knows each of your names, even if I don't.

I wanted to finish off the last of the "Christmas Carols by Another Name" so put on your thinking cap, and sing along!

1.  "Miniature Municipality in Judea South of Jerusalem"

2.  "In Awe of the Evening Characterized by Religiosity"

3.  "Those of You Who Believe, Come Here"

4.  "The Antlered Quadruped With the Cerise Proboscis"

5.  "Nocturnal Time Span of Unbroken Quietness"

6.  "Stainless Steel Inverted, Metallic, Resonant Cups"

7.  "Kris Kringle Will Be Arriving in the Municipality"

8.  "One Dozen 24-hour Time Spans of the Yuletide Season"

9.  "Me, Plus Two Other Male Monarchs"

10. "We Pray You Will Enjoy a Pleasant Celebration of Christ's Birth"

11.  "What Diminutive Human Am I Looking At?"

12. "A Place of Delicate Beauty or Charm in a Season Reckoned Astronomically from the December Solstice to the March Equinox"

Answers tomorrow ~ Merry Christmas Eve!

~ "Break forth into joy,
        sing together!" ~
     Isaiah 52:9
~

Monday, December 23, 2013

Appreciation for Everything

"God provides by His hand"
Job 12:6

Several years ago, while driving home from church, my ten-year-old car died on the freeway.  We had it towed to our mechanic, and we began that agonizing, "Is it time to buy a new car or do we spend the money to repair it" conversation.  We prayed, we looked at new cars, we got advice, and we decided to repair it.

A little over a month later, as I drove home from Bible study, my car died in the middle of an intersection.  I pulled over and it started right up again, but something had changed for me.  I no longer trusted the car.  I no longer felt it was reliable for me and my kids.  And that night, sitting in church, my prayer to God was, "Lord, please, I'd like a new car."  It was respectful, but it was bold.

He knew I wasn't saying, "Gimme, gimme," but that I was expressing my desire to Him, and humbly asking if He would bless it.  I knew it would be tricky for us to rework our budget to add in a car payment, but I knew there were things we'd be able to drop.  It was not going to be easy to afford, but I was asking God to make it possible.  That was a Wednesday.

The following Sunday, we met my in-laws for lunch after church, and they had a surprise for us.  My husband's great-aunt, who knew nothing about our car situation, had cashed in an annuity, and decided to gift us.  And there, in our hands, was the money for a new car.

God provides what we need.  Always.  We recognize that in our food and clothing and shelter ~ and transportation.  But it's more than that.  He provides grace and salvation and the ability to forgive.  And He asks obedience of us, and then provides the faith that enables us to obey.  And He provides the blessings that result.

Every day there are beautiful reminders that God is our Provider.  Jehovah Jireh.  But if there's one day we can forget that, I think, surprisingly, it's Christmas Day.  I'm always grateful for all the blessings on that day ~ fun and wonderful things that I unwrap ~ but those are generally things I want, not things I need.   On Christmas Day, I'm grateful for the gifts He has enabled us to have, and I think I lose track of all things I need, that He has provided. 

And I think that's okay.  He knows I'm thinking of Him.  I think He's forgiving of the fact that there are things I'm forgetting to thank Him for, when I'm thanking Him for so many other things.  But I have to remember that the things I need keep coming, even when I'm not thinking about them.

On that day, all those years ago, when my husband carried in his wallet that check from his great-aunt, we went out to dinner.  Not the Ritz or anything, just California Pizza Kitchen.  And sitting there, looking at the menu, I felt a feeling I had never felt before.  I felt rich.  And I married an artist, so it was not something I ever expected to feel!  I thought, "I don't even need to look at the prices!  I can order an appetizer, dinner, and dessert!"  I felt freedom; a complete lack of worry.  And I felt as if God said to me, "This is what you're supposed to feel like all the time."

He provides things we need, and He provides things we want.  What we provide is appreciation for all of it.  Every day.

~ "in everything give thanks;
  for this is the will of God
     in Christ Jesus for you" ~
1 Thessalonians 5:18
~

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Counting Saturdays

"day and night shall not cease"
Genesis 8:22

It's Saturday as I write this.  The last Saturday before Christmas.  And the penultimate Saturday of 2013.  Number 51 of 52.

I read an article this year, about counting Saturdays.  The author's point was that life is short, and the way he illustrated that was by talking about how few Saturdays we have in a year.  Just 52.  And the average American life expectancy is, what, 85 or so?  That's only 4400 Saturdays.  Give or take.

The author was concerned with enjoying his kids while they are young and he's healthy, but it didn't really hit me that way.  After all, we homeschool.  I'm with my kids pretty much 24/7 (and enjoy every minute of it!)  So for me, the point of the article was about getting the most out of every day.  You know, not getting so caught up in my routine and daily busyness that I forget to think of Him, and appreciate the blessings He gives. 

Every day has something to appreciate.  Every day is special in some way.  But even if you live to be 100, you'll only get 100 Christmas Days.  Only 100 First Days of Spring.  Only 100 Kentucky Derby Days. {Or whatever else might be important for you!}

I hope, on the day you read this, it's a good day for you.  It might be just one of many days, but it's entirely unique.  You are one day wiser than you were yesterday, and one day closer to eternal life.  What are you doing with this day?

~ "This is the day the Lord has made;
       we will rejoice and be glad it in it" ~
Psalm 118:24
~

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Comfort and Joy

"those things we need"
John 13:29

Christmas is coming. 

But you knew that already. 

Which means family is coming.

You didn't know that, but you probably guessed.

And if family is coming, it means this is coming, too:


Now, if you don't know what all of that is, take heart.  I don't know either.  All I know is that it has to to do with coffee. 

Every time my sister and her husband come for a visit, they bring all of this and set it up in the kitchen.  Near as I can tell ~ and judging by the amount of equipment ~ they are growing, roasting, and grinding their own beans, before brewing their coffee.

It's possible for one to think it's impractical for them to bring all of this equipment with them every time they come.  After all, coffee can be made simply by heating water in the microwave, and then adding a spoonful of instant powder. 

But coffee is obviously very important to them.  And so, though they are away from their own home, and their own bed, and all the things that make their home warm and comfortable and personal... they will have their coffee, just the way they like it.

Our lives are full of little things that bring us peace or joy.  Sometimes they confound those around us, if they are even aware we've got them.  I'm grateful to God for the ways He allows us to feel serenity and solace in a world that sometimes seems determinedly unfriendly.  I hope you recognize these things in your life, too, and praise Him for His thoughtful gifts.  And I hope you're looking forward to seeing your family as much I'm looking forward to seeing mine.

~ "It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink,
and to enjoy the good of all his labor" ~
Ecclesiastes 5:18
~

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Debt Unpaid

"what is just and fair"
Colossians 4:1

We've pretty much wrapped up our Christmas shopping ~ which is good, cuz it's nearly Christmas.  Now my hubby and I have to do that sort of Christmas "fair and balanced" thing, to make sure we have pretty much the same for both kids.  It's not something I ever want to stress over.  I've known people who have to make sure they have the exact same number, or spent the exact same amount on each of their kids. 

I've never wanted to be that concerned.  We just have fun shopping for our kids, and helping them shop for each other, all while paying attention to our overall budget.  And then we just make sure it's not too lopsided.  Never does work out evenly, though.  And my kids would insist it's always me who gets the most  :-)

And I thought today, about a few years ago, when my hubby and I bought extra-special gifts for our kids.  Extra-special as in "pricey".  Their phones.  Our daughter had already had one for a few months - an old, cheap one of mine.  But when we decided our son needed one too, we decided to get her a new one at the same time. 

The thing is, the phones were a little outside our budget.  So we decided to pay half for each child.  We bought them and wrapped them and when they opened them on Christmas morning, we explained that we needed their help in paying for them.  They were thrilled, and agreed.

Our daughter had a steady babysitting job at the time, and had a little money saved up.  Not her full share, but some.  Our son doesn't really have any money.  Our budget is too tight for the kids to get allowances, so he only gets birthday money, and maybe a little something for helping my folks around the house or something. 

So, really, we knew that they would have trouble paying us back.  Or, that they might not pay us back at all, if it took awhile and they forgot.  And we forgot.  Which I think is pretty much what happened.

In retrospect, maybe it was unreasonable to think they'd be able to come up with that money.  And I think deep down we knew it.  It was a bargain, and we made it with them, even though there was a good chance they wouldn't be able to keep up their end of it. 

Sound familiar?  I hope so, because it's God's arrangement with us.  If we are faithful to Him, He will be faithful to us.  Except we fail at our part, on a regular basis.  He gave us the two great commandments:  Love Him, and Love Others.  We want to obey.  We try to obey.  And we fail.  Repeatedly.

The good news is that His faithfulness is not based on our faithfulness.  He is who He is, and He cannot be less loving, or forgiving or merciful.  The beauty is that His faithfulness to us is based on our desire to be in His will, not in our performance.  That's important, because along with being loving and forgiving and merciful, He is also just.   Which means His faithfulness to others - the ones who don't desire to be in His will, is based on their intentions, too. 

We knew our kids would give us the money if they could.  And we, not being omniscient, thought maybe they would.  But even if they didn't ~ and they didn't ~ we were okay with that.  We were acting out of love.  He, too, reaches out to us in love.

Failure is okay in His eyes, if it's accompanied by trying, and by a heart given to Him.  He's okay with an IOU ~ even one we can never pay.

~ "If we are faithless,
   He remains faithful;
       He cannot deny Himself" ~
2 Timothy 2:13
~

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sing, Sing a Song

"all the sons of God shouted for joy"
Job 38:7

Well, obviously, I've been listening to Christmas music nonstop.  It's that time of year after all.  And I've got a pretty eclectic mix.  Partially that's because I keep music on my iPod for the whole family, so I've got a little something that appeals to each of us.

But also, it's just my way.  Doubtless yours, too.  You've probably got some variety in whatever form your music collection takes:  iPod, cd's, 8-tracks, whatever... My music spans the gap from today's Christian artists to country, from soundtracks to show tunes, from classic rock to classical. 

But I realized the other day that the range of styles of my Christmas music is even more varied than my every-other-season music.  I've got artists my parents listen to, and artists my kids listen to.  I've got music in the styles of country, jazz, folk, and rap... soft rock, medium rock, and hard rock.  I've got songs featuring pianists, drummers, guitarists, steel drums and bagpipers.  And I've got surfers, Tenors, Muppets, and one song in which the soloist is my sister.

And unlike my regular music, there is a variety of languages.  I have Christmas carols in English, French, Spanish, Hawaiian, Samoan, Celtic, German, and Latin. 

And the commonality of them all is the message.  The celebration.  The songs of Christmas unite us, despite our denominations, hometowns, languages and personal traditions.  This relatively small collection of songs is common to all Christians ~ and even to those who don't believe.

There is comfort and unity in seasonal traditions.  And I know some of these songs are about reindeer and snowmen, not the birth of Jesus, but for those songs that do celebrate Him, we must make a beautiful sound in His ear.

~ "all who believed were together,
        and had all things in common" ~
Acts 2:44
~
Answers to yesterday's quiz:
1. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
2. I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
3. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
4. I'm Getting Nothing for Christmas
5. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
6. I'll Be Home for Christmas
7. It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas
8. Joy to the World
9. Let it Snow!
10. Little Drummer Boy
~       

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Do you know what I know? ~ Part 2

"the singers sang loudly"
Nehemiah 12:42

Okay, we're only eight days out of Christmas (as my sweet boy keeps joyfully reminding me) so I thought I'd lighten your load, just in case the cultural expectations of the season are starting to weigh on you.

So.... another quiz.  More Christmas carols by other names.  (Here's the original quiz.)  Dig into your thesaurus and see how you do!


1.  "The event occurred at twelve o'clock on a night with visibility unlimited"


2.  "Personal hallucinations of an alabaster December 25"


3.  "Testimony of witness to maternal parent's smooching Kris Kringle"


4.  "Anticipation of this noel's mementos: nil"


5.  "I listened to the tintinnabulations on the day of the celebration of Christ's birth"


6.  "I will return to my abode for the celebration of Christ's birth"


7.  "The approach of the holiday commemorating the birth of Christ is becoming evident"


8.  "Universal elation"


9.  "Allow for precipitation in the form of ice crystals formed from the water vapor of the air at a temperature of less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit!"


10. "The diminutive male of less than adult age who plays a percussion instrument"

~

Hope your days are filled with comfort and joy!  Answers tomorrow!

~ "singers accompanied by instruments of music,
       stringed instruments, harps and cymbals..." ~
1 Chronicles 15:16
~

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Him, in the midst of it all

"ox and sheep, camel and donkey"
1 Samuel 15:3

We enjoyed one of our favorite holiday traditions this weekend ~ no, not the shopping, although we did that, too.  We went to a "Drive-Thru Nativity" at a local church.  We've been visiting it for over fifteen years now. 

It's a cute idea.  Members of the church dress up in costumes to play the different roles, and they bring in live sheep and goats and a camel or two.

The little drummer boy

The whole thing takes place behind the church, and in their parking lot and the parking lots of the surrounding businesses.

The line of cars is usually quite long.  This year it took us about 40 minutes to get all the way through it.  Probably 20 minutes of that time is waiting in line, and 20 minutes to actually go through the nativity. 


I know you can't read that, but it's Isaiah 9:6.  Trust me.

There's a lot to look at ~ sometimes on both sides of the car, sometimes the action is concentrated on one side or the other.  But for some reason, as we snaked our way along this year, I found myself looking around a little.  Normally the Apple of my Eye drives, but I offered to this year, so he could just enjoy looking, without worrying about keeping an eye on the cars.


The angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary.

And so, in between looking at "travelers" and "angels" and "sheep" -- no, wait, those are actual sheep... I found myself looking at a bank, and a dental office and some other generic buildings.


On the way to Bethlehem

Now here's the funny thing.  You can get surprisingly caught up in the "show" when you're watching someone perform.  You lose yourself in the people and the setting, and kinda forget the world around you.  Happens to me every time I see anything performed onstage.

But then, when I saw those office buildings, it brought me back to reality.  Where, to be honest, I didn't particularly want to be.


"Sorry; no room.  But there's a stable down that way."

And I thought how often that happens in life ~ that my head is about Him, praying, or singing the worship song that's caught in my head, or pondering what I just read in the Bible...

And then I look up to see what time it is, and I realize I need to be somewhere.  Or I walk into the kitchen and see the dishes that need to be done.  Or the phone rings.  Or et cetera, et cetera.  You know how it is.


A camel.  And a wise guy.  And oh look, a real camel!  Honestly, it's beyond me how anyone sits comfortably on one of those things...

Keeping our eyes on Him takes focus ~ even in this season where we're constantly reminded of His great gift to us.  Maybe it requires more frequent Bible reading than usual.  Maybe we need to talk about Him more to our families, acknowledging blessings and loving others out loud.

It would make a nice prayer, though.  One He'd love to hear.  "Lord, help me to think about You more today.  Keep my heart on you."  I'll bet those simple words would accomplish more than we think, cuz when we want what He wants, we take a giant step closer to "Thy will be done."





~ "You will keep in perfect peace
       Whose mind is stayed on You" ~
Isaiah 26:3
~

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mary Didn't Know

"she brought forth her firstborn Son"
Luke 2:7

Are you familiar with the Christmas song, "Mary, Did You Know?" ?  It's such a beautiful piece, that I first heard when my babies were little.  I think it struck a chord with me, as a young mother, thinking many of the same thoughts Mary must have thought as she held her new baby.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you've kissed your little baby, you've kissed the face of God.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I Am.

We sang that song in church today, and I got to thinking about what Mary might have been imagining as she looked into her Son's future. 

She knew who He was.  God's Son, called Jesus.  He would be great, and would be called Son of the Highest, and He would be given the throne of David.  He would reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom would have no end. (Luke 1:31-33)

And let's assume she was doing this imagining after the shepherds came to visit.  Luke says that after their visit, Mary "kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."  So let's assume that during that pondering, she was giving some thought to what His future would look like.

I think it's very likely she imagined some of what the song mentions:  healing the sick and the lame, enabling the blind to see and the deaf to hear.  I think she imagined miracles.

I think she might also have imagined some of the pain in His future.  She herself had experienced societal disapproval for the work of God in her life.  She might have seen it coming for Him.

But still I believe she could not possibly know much of what would be her Son's future.  And the reason I say that, is because there is no way I could have predicted the people my kids are becoming.  I mean, some of it is fairly predictable, but there are so many surprises.  A great sense of humor... amazing artistic ability... unpredictable compassion... unexpected patience... the ability to play the piano, untaught. 

The ability to remember details of things that happened years before.  A gentle heart that forgives the pain others have caused.  A love of learning.  Unbelievable, unstoppable, unyielding perseverance in the face of fears and difficulties.

I could have predicted my kids' hair and eye color, and maybe even some of their characteristics, based on those of my husband and myself, and our families.  But children are too wonderfully complex and individual to predict how amazing and fascinating they will become. 

I love thinking of all Mary might have imagined as she lay with her new baby on those first few nights.  But even more than that, I love the thought of how much she must have enjoyed watching Him grow.

~ "And the Child grew and became strong in spirit,
filled with wisdom;
and the grace of God was upon Him." ~
Luke 2:40
~

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Gift

"every good and perfect gift"
James 1:17

I'm thinking today, about the people I love the most.  My parents, my sisters, nieces and nephews; my in-laws, and of course my hubby and kids.  And the reason they are so much on my mind is because of all the shopping I did today. 

There's something fun about being out and about, and looking for just the right thing for someone.  There's the challenge of finding something you're sure they'll like, and yet that they don't have.  Or finding something that will surprise them, and remind them that they are thought of. 

And of course it's hard to think about love, and gift-giving, without remembering what the holiday is all about ~ Jesus' gift to us.

It's the greatest gift of all, I think for two reasons.  First of all, the complete selflessness of leaving His heavenly home to become so much less than He truly was:  human.  And secondly, the reason He did it ~ love. 

Almost everyone we love in our lives, we love for a reason:  what they've done for us, or how they make us feel.  The closest thing I think we can come, to understanding His love for us, is in loving our children, because we love them immediately, even though they've done nothing for us, and even though, a matter of months ago, they didn't even exist!

But Jesus took it one step further.  He loved us, knowing full well how we would ignore Him, insult Him, and steal the glory that is His.  He knew we'd disobey, and think only of ourselves.  And still, in His infinite grace, He lowered Himself to our level, to die like one of us, and offer us eternal life with Him.

There is joy in giving gifts to those we love, but there's even greater joy in accepting the gift from the One who loves us.

~ "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, 
and we beheld His glory, 
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, 
full of grace and truth." ~
John 1:14
~

Saturday, December 14, 2013

When it comes to God, less is not more

"every man should eat and drink and enjoy"
Ecclesiastes 3:13


We got a beautiful Christmas card from some friends today ~ a wintertime photo of their home in the mountains.  This was the home I visited with my Bible study group for a retreat.  So I've been there twice, last year and this year, but both times it was only for a day and half, and we had a pretty packed schedule.

We have a couple of teachings, some game-time, and some meals, of course.  And some quiet time and a little free time.  But not much else time.

Which meant that in the beautiful, well-equipped vacation house, there were so many things I didn't get to take advantage of.

I didn't have the opportunity to snuggle under a blanket reading a book or watching something good on TV.

I didn't have a chance to take a long walk in the woods, collecting pine cones and rocks and interesting leaves and flowers.


I didn't have time to go shopping in any of the charming shops in the nearby village.

I didn't get to sleep in late, snuggling under the lush covers in bed.

I didn't get to enjoy a fire in the fireplace.

Or enjoy a barbecue on the back deck... Or sit quietly on the upstairs balcony and watch the sun set... Or play pool in the game room...

I was very wistful about all this when I was there, wishing I could experience more of what that beautiful home had to offer.  And generally, when I'm feeling strongly about something, I know there must be a lesson there.  So I asked myself what there was to learn from the fact that I couldn't take advantage of all the great things about that house.

And what I decided is that maybe I'm not fully appreciating God, either.  He is so beautiful and fulfilling.  He is grace and truth and wisdom and knowledge and love and understanding.  He is everything good in me, but He is also every good thing I'm lacking.  And I don't take advantage of it.  I don't know if it's because I just don't think about it, or if it's because I think I can handle things alone.

I wonder how hard it would be to change my perspective.  I don't think we can ever fully appreciate all there is to Him ~ and maybe it's enough that we're aware of what He's giving us at any given moment, without even thinking of all else that He is.  You know, like when I need patience, He gives me patience, and I'm appreciating the patience without thinking about how He also gives me strength, when that's what i need.  {Hope that made sense!}

But I think I can do better.  I think while I'm busy appreciate His gift of patience, I can also be thinking about His gift of strength, too.  And His love for me.  And I'll bet, the more I appreciate, the more I'll realize how much I need of Him, and how everything I need, He is.


~ "The Lord,
  the Lord God,
merciful and gracious,
   longsuffering,
     and abounding in goodness and truth..." ~
Exodus 34:6
~

Friday, December 13, 2013

Not Missing What's Missing

"my yoke is easy"
Matthew 11:30

Quiet day today, after a few busy ones.  The kids were with my folks for a lot of yesterday, helping them put up and decorate their tree, and then they all went shopping.  They brought the kids home in the evening, about the same time the Apple of my Eye got home from work.  Then he and my girl went to her volleyball practice, and the boy and I went out to dinner with my folks. 

It was a great dinner.  Just a mostly-pizza place around the corner, although this is the second time I've been there, and I've yet to eat their pizza.  Last time I had shrimp tacos, which were very good.  This time I ordered pot roast with mashed potatoes, and enjoyed it thoroughly.  Nothing better than comfort food on a cold evening, right?

Today, we had no reason to leave the house, so we stayed in our jammies a little longer than usual, and we dug in for a packed day of schooling.  Some days, like yesterday, are lighter, cuz I know my boy is not going to have time to do a lot of homework in the afternoon.  So then on a day like today, we need to do some catching up.  (My daughter sets her own schedule, and adjusts accordingly.)

There's other light days, besides Christmas-shopping days.  There are sick days and family-in-town days and Daddy-got-the-day-off-so-let's-skip-school days. 

Homeschooling is wonderfully flexible, after all.

A lot of those days we still do school, but I make it a little lighter for him.  Maybe more reading and less math.  That kind of thing.  But for the most part, I doubt my son notices all that much.  We don't do every subject every day, so if he realized a subject was missing, he'd probably just think it wasn't the day for it.  It's not very often he is appreciative for a light day.  He just accepts it and moves on with his life. 

And I don't mind that he doesn't notice.  It's not that I'm feeling that my thoughtfulness is under-appreciated or anything like that.  But it got me to thinking about times I'm that way with God.  You know, just not noticing"The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away," after all.  But sometimes He blesses us by what He doesn't giveth. 

I had a vision once ~ not a spiritual, dreamlike circumstance, just an imagining ~ of my complaining to God about the difficulty of the path He had laid out for me, and I imagined Him saying in reply, "This is the easy path.  You should have seen the other path."

Sometimes the thing to be most thankful for is what's missing.  There is no clunking sound coming from my car's engine; no leak coming from my roof, and no blood coming from anyone I love.  And I'm thankful for every one of those things missing from my life.

~ "For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly." ~
Psalm 84:11
~

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fond Memories

"Oh, that I were as in months past."
Job 29:2

I'm thinking today, but I'm not thinking about today.  That is, I'm thinking today about how yesterday looks today.  Or rather, how we look at yesterday, from the viewpoint of today.

Memories... you know what I'm saying?  Not a day goes by that I'm not trying to remember something I was supposed to do, or something someone said to me.

And yet, not a day goes by that I'm don't find myself remembering something, too.  Something pops into my mind unexpectedly, or I see something that makes me think of something.... you know how it goes.

It's especially common at Christmas.  Nearly every ornament on the tree reminds me of someone or someplace.  Most of them very sweet memories of old friends or wonderful vacations.  Decorations around the house were gifts from loved ones, or maybe even made by someone I miss.

And I'm struck by the wistful tone in today's quote.  Of course, Job has good reason to be wistful.  He well remembers a time when his life was good.  Very good.  But often, when we look back, it's with a not-quite-honest point of view.  Charles Spurgeon wrote, "(We) view the past with pleasure, but regard the present with dissatisfaction; (we) look back upon the days (passed) as the sweetest and best (we) have ever known..."  But it isn't always true.


There is danger in looking behind.  There is no such thing as Camelot.  There is good and bad in every day, in every season.  What we remember as better or wonderful or perfect is simply the result of selective memory.

Fond memories are nice.  They are a gift.  But they can also be a distraction to our here-and-now.  That's why they say, "You can't go home again."  Because what you remember wouldn't be the same.  Or you wouldn't be the same. 

Praise God for now, even while you're fondly remembering then.  Praise Him for who you have become, because of who you were

And be sure to anticipate the wonder of what's to come!

~ "Jesus Christ is the same 
      yesterday, today and forever." ~
Hebrews 13:8
~
Answers to yesterday's quiz:  
1.   All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth
2.   Angels We Have Heard on High
3.   Carol of the Bells
4.   Deck the Halls
5.   Do You Hear What I Hear?
6.   The First Noel
7.   Frosty the Snowman
8.   God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen
9.   Go, Tell it on the Mountain!
10. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
~

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Do you know what I know?

"joy and songs"
Genesis 31:27


Okay, here's a little something fun for you... These are names of Christmas carols, but "in other words".  Can you guess which song is being named? 

For instance:  "In a Distant Bovine Diner" is "Away in a Manger".

Ready?

1.  "My Sole Desire for the Yuletide Season is Receipt of a Pair of Central Incisors"


2. "Cherubim and Seraphim, All of us Listened to, Above Us"


3.  "Tintinnabulation of Vacillating Pendulums in Inverted Metallic Resonant Cups"


4. "Embellish the Interior Passageways with Large Sprigs of Berry-bearing Evergreen"


5.  "Are You Detecting the Same Aural Sensations I Am?"


6.  "The Initial Instance of a Letter Missing From the Alphabet"


7.  "Ice-Cold, Obese Personification Fabricated of Compressed Mounds of Minute Crystals"


8.  "Omnipotent Supreme Being, Grant Respite to Joyful Distinguished Males"


9.  "Be off; Announce It From a High Geographical Formation!"


10.  "Listen to the Celestial Messengers Produce Harmonious Sounds"

~

Hope you're enjoying the season!  Answers tomorrow!

~ "our mouth was filled with laughter,
      and our tongue with singing" ~
Psalm 126:2
~

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Underfoot

"who have purposed to make my steps stumble"
Psalm 140:4

So, the tree is up.  The lights are hung on the eaves, and the stockings on the mantle.  It's fun to see treasures from the past pulled out of boxes and put on display for a month.  A beautiful angel my aunt created years ago... the nativity scene my mother-in-law painted for me even before my husband I were married... not to mention sweet little Christmas crafts my children made when they were young. 

But it does make the house a little crowded.  A little furniture has to be moved to accommodate the Christmas tree, and because of a few of the larger decorations, there's a little less floor space in the house than there was. 

Which means, with my propensity for bumping into things, I need to watch my toes!

The other obstacle in the house is the dog.  Now, she's pretty much always a danger underfoot, but since the house is a bit more crowded than usual, she's even more of a hazard.  And I keep thinking about a friend of mine who owns two dogs, and a conversation we had years ago, about underfoot pets. 

There's a difference between underfoot cats and underfoot dogs.  Cats move slowly, and stop for no reason.  They saunter and stop to clean themselves, and they manage to get their twitching tails under your foot very suddenly.

Dogs on the other hand, just want to be near you.  They run alongside you ~ unless they hear a can opener in the kitchen, in which case they abandon you and head in that direction.

The other thing dogs do, though, in their attempt to be near the one they love, is walk ahead of you.  This is what my friend was talking about, tripping over her dogs and finding herself saying to them, "I have so much to do, and you're in my way!  You don't even know where I'm going ~ why are you in front??" 

I laughed with her because it was so true, but then we talked about maybe God saying the same thing to us.  We want to be near Him ~ we read the Bible and pray and study ~ but still we move ahead of Him, making plans, making decisions, taking steps... and only occasionally looking back to see if He's with us.  We are eager and sincere in our hearts, but foolish in our actions.

My command to my dog should be, "Heel!"

God's command to me?  "Follow."

~ "And when he brings out his own sheep,
he goes before them;
and the sheep follow him,
for they know his voice." ~
John 10:4
~

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tiptoe through the family gatherings

"walk circumspectly"
Ephesians 5:15

Busy weekend for us.  Saturday my husband and I went to a Christmas party.  My sweet kids stayed home and listened to Christmas music and watched a movie and ate pizza and cleaned up the mess I had made in the kitchen while making homemade pumpkin pie.  And lunch. 

The kitchen was really a mess. 

I really have awesome, amazing kids. 

The party was fun.  Some munchies, some chitchat, some exchanging of Christmas presents.  But I'm not a terrifically social person, so I have to work hard, sometimes, at having fun when maybe I'd rather be home, wearing comfortable shoes, in my comfy chair, watching a movie with my amazing, awesome kids. 

Then Sunday we had a family thing.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, and some other people I'm not really sure how to.  Or if I'm related to them.

Anyhow, that was fun too.  More food.  (This was our extended family's faux Thanksgiving.  We can't all see each other on the real Thanksgiving, so we hold a second one so that everyone can see their "other" families on the actual day.)  I'm pretty sure we're not the only ones that do that, so I'm sure that made sense to a lot of you.

Family, friends, occasional exhaustion, and lots and lots of togetherness.  Sometimes more togetherness than one might want...

And I found myself thinking about this verse in Ephesians ~ "Walk circumspectly," or in some translations, "Look carefully how you walk."  The holidays can be stressful.  People with not much in common, except their DNA, come together after a long drive, or stressed by their finances, maybe irritated by overactive kids (their own, or someone else's) and relatives boldly sharing their opinion on religion or politics because they've had a bit too much to drink.

We have to be slow to speak and slow to anger.  Patient, and non-judgmental.   And always on alert for anger, bitterness or worry, and for the the temptation to be critical, irritated or unkind.  Even if it's like walking through cactus, walk mindfully, listening to Him, and always thankful for His blessings on you.

~ "Therefore, as the elect of God...
put on tender mercies, 
kindness, meekness, longsuffering;
bearing with one another
and forgiving one another." ~
Colossians 3:12-13
~

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Operation All of It ~ Psalm 136

I got a message from a friend today.  She sometimes sends out little uplifting thoughts to her friends, or a Bible verse.  They give a smile at unexpected times of the day.

This friend doesn't know anything my Operation All Of It, wherein I am reading the whole chapter of any Bible verse I come across.  But her message today said this:

"Praising God for blessings extends them;
praising God for troubles ends them."
(Read Psalm 136)

Now, I wasn't entirely sure I agreed with the sentiment.  I mean, praising God for our troubles doesn't mean He's going to take them away.  Although, it will certainly help us to change our outlook, and then maybe we won't see our troubles as troubles anymore. 

But anyhow, whether or not I agreed with her pithy thought, there was an instruction there that seemed just for me:  "Read Psalm 136."  So, of course, I did. 

And it was glorious.  One of those readings that somehow makes you feel like you're seeing a bit of Scripture for the first time.  It's longish, but so full of praise, and with frequent reminders of the most important thing about Him.  I hope it blesses your Sunday...

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
    For His mercy endures forever. 
 Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!
    For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
    For His mercy endures forever:
To Him who alone does great wonders,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who by wisdom made the heavens,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who laid out the earth above the waters,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who made great lights,
    For His mercy endures forever— 
 The sun to rule by day,
    For His mercy endures forever;
The moon and stars to rule by night,
    For His mercy endures forever.
To Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn,
    For His mercy endures forever; 
 And brought out Israel from among them,
    For His mercy endures forever;
With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who divided the Red Sea in two,
    For His mercy endures forever;
And made Israel pass through the midst of it,
For His mercy endures forever;
But overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who led His people through the wilderness,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who struck down great kings,
    For His mercy endures forever;
And slew famous kings,

    For His mercy endures forever—
Sihon king of the Amorites,
    For His mercy endures forever;
And Og king of Bashan,

    For His mercy endures forever—
And gave their land as a heritage,
    For His mercy endures forever;
A heritage to Israel His servant,
    For His mercy endures forever.
 Who remembered us in our lowly state,
    For His mercy endures forever;
And rescued us from our enemies,
    For His mercy endures forever;
Who gives food to all flesh,
    For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!
    For His mercy endures forever.
~