Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Remembered

It was a very traditional Christmas around our house this year.  Last year the tree was all decked out in silver and gold because my wife was hosting a bridal luncheon during the holidays.  This year the decorations returned to the traditional green and red.  All is well.  I'm also playing with the remote shutter on my camera.  As all family photographers know, the photographer is hardly ever in any of the holiday photos because we're behind the camera.

After the Christmas Eve service at church, the family gathered at our home for dinner and opening the gifts.

Prior to opening our gifts the we read the Christmas story in the book of Luke.  It serves as a reminder of what this celebration is really about.  Each of the grandcrew take a turn reading a portion of the scripture.  It's a family tradition that we started many, many years ago.

I posted this earlier during the music marathon.  It is the grandcrew about eight years ago.

Well, here they are today.  The oldest in now seventeen and a senior in high school.  No. 2 is a freshman.  The youngest grand daughter is celebrated her twelfth birthday in November, while the "Big Guy" turned 10 in September.  I trust that your family had a Christmas to remember and that 2014 will be your best year yet.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday/2013 Christmas Music Marathon Day 27

Happy Birthday Jesus

And that's a wrap.  I truly enjoy searching the web for music that really tells the story of Christmas and the reason we celebrate the birth of our Savior.  I've got a busy week ahead, so I may be absent from the blog for a few days.  I hope each of you have a Christmas blessed with the peace and hope that can only come from the Light of the World and may 2014 be your best year ever!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ruby Tuesday/2013 Christmas Music Marathon Day 26

There is a baker's rack in the sitting area that is the perfect place for these red Christmas dishes.  I don't think we've ever actually used them, but they do make a festive display.

I know that this Ruby Tuesday is Christmas Eve and many folks have traveled to visit friends and family during this season.  I feel fortunate that my family lives in a relatively rural part of this great land.  While Christmas can be celebrated in the most crowded of urban environments, I just think there is something special about Christmas in the country.  In the midst of all of your hustle and bustle this year, take a few minutes to find a Bible, turn to the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2 and read about the event that is the reason that we celebrate the Birth of our Savior.  Merry Christmas to one and all.

On that cold winter night outside of Bethlehem God provided a light to guide the shepherds to the Light of the World.  He is the Light of Hope.  He is the Light of Love.  He is the Light of eternal life.

Everything that is worthy of our praise and worship, we owe to the beautiful Star of Bethlehem.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 Christmas Music Marathon Day 25

Our daughter gave my wife a white poinsettia for her birthday in early December.  The other day I snapped a few images of the blooms (it is huge!) and decided that is would make a nice Christmas greeting.  Merry Christmas all.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Scavenger Hunt Sunday/2013 Christmas Music Marathon Day 24

This year we got 9" inches of snow a few days after I got the Christmas lights put up on the house.  It really adds to the holiday spirit.  Nearly all of it is gone now, but I have this photo as a memory.

If you follow this blog for any length of time you know my wife has a gift for decorations and Christmas is her very favorite time of the year.  Our tree is 9 feet tall and is one of three that we put up each year.  The other two are smaller, but all contribute to the joy of the season.

Another one of my wife's creations is this three foot diameter wreath that sits over the fireplace mantel.

Makes Me Merry
As I grow older, memories make me merry.  Here is the Grandcrew from about eight years ago.  The oldest grand daughter is now seventeen and will graduate from high school this spring.  The baby brother is now ten and loves to fish and play baseball.  I'll post more recent images later next week, so stay tuned.

 On the Door
It goes without saying that the wreath on the door is another creation from the hands of my most talented wife and head elf.  In fact, at Christmas, she almost makes Will Farrell's Elf look normal. I helped with this by installing the garland.
2013 Christmas Music Marathon
I know that everyone is busy with last minute details, so before I forget, I am going to post my two all time favorite Christmas music videos.  I would give anything to be at the mall when this flash mob breaks out.

There are a lot of popular vocalists that eventually record a Christmas album. Sooner or later many of them take on "O Holy Night". Well, in my humble opinion, this is the best arrangement ever, by a voice that can truly sing it as it was intended to be sung.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Skywatch Friday/2013 Christmas Music Marathon Day 22

By watching the skies very closely we can have some indication of impending weather.  We can see cold fronts.  We can see storm clouds rolling in.  We can know something about how the day is going to be impacted by the weather.
Those who were watching and waiting for a Messiah looked to the skies and saw a star.  It told them that a Savior had come.  Many were expecting the Son of God to make a grand entrance.  Instead, He came as a babe in the straw.  I think God wanted us to know that He was approachable and a God who desired to have a relationship with His creation.  I think He wanted to confirm to us that we are created in His image.  I think we wanted us to love His son and much as He loves us.  After all, who doesn't love a baby?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ruby Tuesday - 2013 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 19

Once upon a time my wife dabbled in ceramics.  This Santa ornament was one of her efforts.  I think that the rosy cheeks on the jolly old elf are perfect.  We have one tree that is decorated in nothing but family ornaments and picture frame ornaments of the grand kids.  It's my favorite tree in the house because of all of the memories that it holds.

2013 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 19


Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 18

My wife gave me the bear years ago during a job transition that required us to be apart for several weeks.  The rocking chair is from my childhood.  I refinished it a few years ago and someday it will go to the grandson.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Scavenger Hunt Sunday - 2013 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 17

I haven't participated in Scavenger Hunt for a few weeks.  Time, travel, and other things just seem to have gotten in the way.  I don't know how that happens when you're retired, but it does.  Well, on with the prompts.

Weather Today
Last week we got nine inches of snow in our area and the temperatures plummeted into the single digits at night.  The temperature did not get above freezing for six days.  That's unheard of in Northwest Arkansas.  So, the weather is cold and snowy!  This image was captured at a creek about three miles from the house.

  "R" is For...
 "R" is for the Red Ribbon that my wife used to decorate this wreath for my office door last year.  She has a gift for making beautiful arrangements.

These little ceramic trees are a part of a table top display that features family Christmas photos.  It's always fun to look back at past Christmas celebrations, but it's hard to believe how fast time flies.

 Nothing brings more joy to the life of a grand parent that the grand kids.  Time spent with them is precious.  Even though we live only a few miles from ours, it seems like we don't see them as often as we would like.  They are growing up now and finding time to fit us into their schedule is becoming more difficult each year.  Believe me, we will find a way to stay involved in their lives.  They are just too important to us.

On a chilly winter morning there is nothing better to drink than you're favorite coffee in a vintage cup, from Frankhoma pottery, with a dollop of whipped cream on top.  All I need now is to build a fire in the fireplace.

2013 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 17

Friday, December 13, 2013

2013 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 16

These two ornaments are among the very first Christmas decorations that my wife and I purchased as a young married couple to decorate our tree nearly 40 years ago.  They still make a lovely addition to our latest tree.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Skywatch Friday - 2013 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 15

It is pretty obvious that this image was captured in the early fall.  Right now the ground is snow covered, the trees are bare, and the temperature is in the low 20's.  However, this image reminds me that even a cloudless sky can be beautiful when it provides a perfect background for a colorful display of nature.
It also reminds me that there will come a day when those of us who call on the name of Christ for our salvation will live in a land of unclouded days.  Four years ago my father lost his brief battle with cancer and went home to our Creator.  A couple of years ago a friend of ours was diagnosed with cancer and yesterday the family began saying their goodbyes. Hospice has been called and the battle is nearly over.  In both cases I am reminded that God gives us the strength to face the circumstances that are placed before us.  Our friend has been a beacon of faith, strength and courage to hundreds of people throughout this journey and her legacy will continue long after she has gone home to her Lord and Savior.

Christmas is a particularly difficult time to lose a loved one.  It is a holiday that celebrates the birth of our Savior.  It is a holiday that celebrates God's love.  It is a holiday that celebrates the family and the love that we have for one another.  Even though none of us would wish additional pain and suffering for our loved one, deep down inside we quietly ask the God who loves us for the gift of just "One Last Christmas."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ruby Tuesday Too/2013 Christmas Music Marathon Day 12

If you have stopped by this blog very often, you know that fishing is one of my two favorite hobbies.  As a part of our Christmas decorations, there is a table top tree in the study that has a rustic outdoor theme.

There are several of these little bear ornaments, few fishing lures, and of course...
multiple fishing Santa's.  Everyone knows that Santa likes to fish.  When he's not supervising the toy making, checking the naughty/nice list, or feeding the reindeer, you can find the jolly old elf with a rod and reel, trying to land "the big one."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

2013 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 11

This past week has been a very cold, snowy week for the residents of Northwest Arkansas.  We have had freezing rain, nine inches of snow, and the temperature has dipped below zero for the first time in several years.  I must say though, it does put one in a bit of a Christmas mood.  We prepare to spend time with friends and family.  We like to sit by the fire. We like to watch the old movies and we like to hear the classic Christmas carols.  I trust that you and your family are preparing to spend time together this Christmas season and enjoying the gift of family that God has given to each of us.  Families are special people.  I know, some are not easy to get along with.  Others are a bit quirky, and a few seem to be from another planet.  But they're family.  God created each of us and gave us a unique personality and set of skills.  He then placed us in a family.  It is true, we don't get to choose our family.  God chose our family and like all other gifts from the Creator, our family was given to us for our benefit.  Each member of a family can make every other member in the family a better person if everyone allows God to be in control.  That's easier said than done, because natural man has a rebellious spirit and a sinful nature.  There is only one cure for this condition.  God loved us enough that He gave his only Son to die for our sins.  We have to give our lives to Christ by inviting Him into our hearts.  The best gift that you can give the Savior, is your heart.  He will change it and make you a better person than you ever thought possible.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2013 Christmas Music Marathon Day 10

In the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke the Bible tells us of a man named Simeon.  He was a devout man and was looking for the coming of the Messiah.  Through the Holy Spirit, God promised Simeon that he would see the Messiah before he died.  Simeon was in the courtyard of the temple the day that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to be circumcised, according to the Law of Moses.
"Simion took the child in his arms and praised God by saying, "Now, Lord you are allowing your servant to leave in pease as you promised.  My eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared for all people to see.  He is a light that will reveal salvation to the nations and bring glory to your people Israel."  Luke 2:29-32

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Skywatch Friday - 2013 Christmas Music Marathon Day 8

I've always been a bit of an early riser. That is, if you consider some time between 6:00 & 6:30 a.m. early. There are days though, that if you're going to catch a great sunrise image, that you have to be in your photo-taking spot by 6:00 a.m. I look forward to sunrises and sunsets because they almost always make the most interesting images. For some reason fall and winter seem to be the best of the best. I don't know why that is.  If you can get to your favorite sunrise picture taking spot before the sun peeks over the horizon, you get to experience the anticipation of what the day will bring.
One day, the Son of God will rise from the eastern sky and reclaim this earth for Himself.  It is no coincidence that He will come from the east.  That day will be the culmination of Gods plan for us and it all started with a babe in a manger.  One can only imagine all of the thoughts that were going on in Mary's mind when her Son was born.  Did she truly understand what had happened and her role in God's plan.  Wouldn't we all like to ask the question, "Mary, did you know?"

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 Christmas Music Marathon Day 6

One of my favorite decorations around our house at Christmas is this simple manger scene.  I can look at it and only imagine what was going on that night of Christ's birth.  Not far away there were shepherds watching over their flock of sheep.  Suddenly, the sky lit up like daylight and a host of angles proclaimed the good news to them.  What was that like?  How would you react to such an event?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ruby Tuesday 2013 Christmas Music Marathon Day 5

Very soon the house will be filled with the decorations of the season.  We're getting a late start because we were out of town for Thanksgiving.  Add to that, the fact that there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and you can see that we are behind schedule.  Not to worry.  We may have to work a little harder, but we will get it done.  And we will enjoy the holiday as much as ever.
Our youngest grandchild is now ten years old.  Kids are the best thing about celebrating Christmas.  Their joy is real.  Their emotions are honest and they know how to celebrate.  We have several friends that have new grandchildren this year.  They now understand, that when it comes to Christmas, "A Baby Changes Everything."

Sunday, December 1, 2013

2013 Christmas Music Marathon Day 4

Man has always aspired to a better life.  He has always labored to make life better for himself and for his family.  There has never been a parent that didn't want their children to have a better life.  The best life a person can possibly have is a life that is controlled by the Creator.  God created us in order that He might have fellowship with us.  When we break that fellowship, we break His heart.  God provided a way for man to restore the fellowship with his Creator.  God brought His only Son into the world, allowed Him to be crucified and raised Him from the dead in order that we might experience the abundant life.
At the time of Christ's birth, Israel longed for the coming of the Messiah.  They looked forward to the day that Emmanuel would deliver them.  Unfortunately, many did not recognize the Savior when he came.  Man still needs a Redeemer, a Savior, and he has accepted all sorts of substitutes for the true Salvation.  We have reached that point in our society when many believers long for the return of Christ.  More than ever you can hear them singing, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."