Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Memories 2014

The Christmas of 2014 will be remembered with both joy and a little twinge of sadness.  The joy comes from our family and sharing special times together.  The twinge of sadness comes from the fact that this will be the last Christmas in our current home.  My wife and I are downsizing a bit and moving back into town.  We built our current home almost eleven years ago and it is really the only home that most of the grand kids have ever known as "Nana's House".  We love this house but the time has come to make decisions that are best for us, going forward.  We will be moving in January, so packing has already begun, but the pace will pick up very, very soon!
One of the joys of the season was watching our middle grand daughter dance in a local production of the "Nutcracker".  Photos of the actual performance were not allowed so all I have are some rehearsal photos that I took a couple of nights prior to the show.
I caught Emily during a short rehearsal break and captured this image for posterity.  Then it was back to work for her.

Emily is normally pretty quiet, but put her on the stage and she lights up like a Christmas tree!  She has taken several forms of dance lessons but ballet has always been her favorite.  I think is suites her very well.
Christmas Eve found the whole family at our home.  The evening started with a Christmas Eve worship service at church.  We came home and had a very casual "Tex-Mex" dinner with some friends.  Of course there are the annual photos that will be turned into ornaments for the "grand kids" tree.  You will have to scroll back a few posts to get more information about this Christmas tradition. 

Finally there were a couple of photos taken for our last Chirstmas in this home.  It was a bittersweet moment, but there are more great Christmas memories waiting to be made in our new residence. 

The evening concluded with reading the Christmas story from the second chapter of Luke, giving thanks to the Lord for His care, mercy and grace, and opening our packages.  I hope that your Christmas was filled with those things that will become precious memories for the future.  Merry Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 28

Merry Christmas!

 Merry Christmas to all.  May the gift that is Christmas be in your home and heart on this day.  May the God of all creation give you peace, joy, and fill your day with those things that bring a smile to your face and fill your day with memories for the future.
Since we will soon be moving (packing has already begun), I will be taking a break.  I may post a couple of more times before New Years, but I probably will not post during January.  You can check back just to see if I am up and running before the first of February, but my plan is to take the month of January off and get settled as best we can in the new home.  Again,  Merry Christmas to you and your family from my family.  And now, the final videos of this marathon.  Did you have a favorite?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday/2014 Christmas Music Marathon-Day 27

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 27

Ruby Tuesday/2014 Christmas Music Marathon-Day 26


My personal all time favorite Christmas song is the Hallelujah Chorus.  Several years ago a flash mob performed the song in a mall in Philadelphia.  I would have given almost anything to have been there.  What a glorious way to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 25

O Holy Night
One of the most iconic Christmas songs ever written is O Holy NightIt has been recorded by virtually every well known vocalist in the music industry over the last 60 years.  This music marathon would not be complete without including what I consider to be the best arrangement of this song ever recorded.  David Phelps gives this song the power and majesty that it deserves.  Enjoy.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 24

Do you ever watch HGTV? Do you watch some of the remodel shows where a yard, a room or a home is transformed in a matter of days or weeks? The big moment comes when the new space is revealed to the client. Often the client is overcome with emotion by the transformation. One of my favorite shows is "Fixer Upper" I am reminded that all of us are "Fixer Uppers". As a child of God, He is preparing a place specifically designed and created for me. One day I am going to step into eternity and He is going to reveal my place to me. I know that I will be overcome by what I see. What a Day That Will Be.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Skywatch Friday/2014 Christmas Music Marathon-Day 22

A storm is coming, but the flag will fly and endure until night falls.  If it is lit from the ground then it will fly through the night and greet the morning, a little tattered, a little torn, but still reminding us of this great nation and those who gave themselves during the nightmare that is war, that we might greet the morning in freedom.

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 22

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday-2014 Christmas Music Marathon-Day 20

Angels We Have Heard On High

2014 Christmas Music Marathon-Day 20

Ruby Tuesday Too - 2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 19

 Ruby Tuesday Too

 2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 19
Today marks the fifth anniversary of my father's passing.  He comes to my mind almost daily and I still miss him very much.  I think that is true of almost any relative that passes around a holiday.  I was only recently made aware of this song by Steven Curtis Chapman and I believe it is the most appropriate song that I have ever heard.  Since dad put his faith in Jesus Christ as a young man, five years ago he did not die, he was simply "Going Home for Christmas."

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Toy - 2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 18

Christmas came a little early to me this year.  Since we have sold our home and will be moving into a little smaller residence, I have made a couple of other changes.  I sold my bass boat as well.  I know, a couple of your are now picking your jaw off of the floor.  It's okay, really, it is.  I just decided that digital photography will be my primary hobby and I don't need a boat to indulge my second favorite pass time, fishing.  I did upgrade my digital camera and lens.  I purchased a Nikon D7100 with a Tamron 16-300mm lens.  That may not mean much to some folks, but it is a big deal to me.  I am currently playing with some of the features in the new camera and I have to admit, I am impressed (that doesn't take much) with the quality of the images and some of the new features.  Virtually all of the images that you will see from now on will come from the new camera.  There is lots to learn, so be patient while I figure some of this stuff out.

2014 Christmas Music Marathon-Day 18
Each morning many of us wake up, get the newspaper and turn on the morning news show to get the latest news.  We find out what happened around the block and around the world while we were sleeping.  2000 years ago God ushered a new age into this world.  He gave the world His only Son and an opportunity to one day live in paradise forever.  There were those to whom the news was announced, but to much of the world, the birth of a Savior happened while they were sleeping.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday - Shiny

Once again Ashley has provided us with prompts that bring Christmas to mind.  So...without further delay here are my entries.

Honestly, I don't believe there is anything with more sparkle or shine than a glass Christmas ornament, hung on the tree, among all of the lights.  These are just like rubies set in the tree.

"Underneath" can mean only one thing this time of year.  What's underneath the tree and how many have your name on them?  Are you excited to see the expressions on the faces of others as they open your gifts?  Does everyone have a little bit of their childhood wonder still in them?

Even though we have downsized our celebration this year, there are still plenty of Christmas decorations around the house.  This is part of the centerpiece on the dining room table.  And yes, my wife makes all of them.  She is extremely talented in this department.

Sometimes, when looking for "Fresh" subjects to photograph, you just have to combine a few objects and create your own little vignette.  Recently, I upgraded my camera and I have been experimenting with a few of the buttons and just getting acquainted with the location of the buttons as well as some of the new features.  So far, so good.

I thought that these two little fellows were pretty colorful.  They do make me smile whenever I see them.

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day17 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 16

It's Saturday morning. Let's just let the music share the message of the Savior. Have a blessed week-end.



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Skywatch Friday-2014 Christmas Music Marathon-Day 15

The heavens are a canvas and every day God creates something different for us to enjoy.  I think He does this because He is the Creator of all things and He constantly reminds us of His love of beautiful things through incredible sunrises and sunsets.  If this is only a glimpse of what He can do and is willing to share with all of the earth, what glory awaits those who have placed their trust in Christ as their Savior.

2014 Christmas Music Marathon-Day 15
So what are we supposed to do with this information about God, His creation, His Son, Jesus Christ, and His plan for us to spend an eternity with Him in as place prepared only for His people.  God tells us not to hide our light under a basket.  Rather we are to shout it from the roof tops and go tell it on the Mountain.  Have a blessed week-end.

Bonus Video; My favorite new bluegrass gospel group Southern Raised has released another single off of their latest video.  The baby brother, singing bass, just turned seventeen.  There is a marvelous career ahead of these youngsters.  Enjoy.

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 14

If you were told that you had the power to save the world, how would you accomplish that feat?  Would you think only of this place, in this time or would you give consideration to eternal things and how people might live in paradise forever?  Would you mount up on a white stallion, leading a legion of warriors across the land to subdue each nation and people individually?  How would you save this world?  Would you do it by bringing a child into this earth?
The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but will be saved.  Every person ever born on planet earth has had the opportunity to spend eternity in paradise through faith in the Creator.
Every family is changed when a newborn babe arrives.  Schedules are altered, lives are changed and love flows from parents to child.  It is true, a baby changes everything.  But when you think about saving the world a baby seems to be a strange way to accomplish that task.  Remember God tells us that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  That's why faith is required.  Our finite minds cannot comprehend all that God is capable of doing nor the ways that He accomplishes His will.  Have a blessed day.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday - 2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 10

Scavenger Hunt Sunday - Joy

Thanksgiving is over and it's time for the season of Joy!  This week Ashley has provided us with prompts that allow us to begin to celebrate the Christmas season.  Around our house, Christmas music goes in the CD players of both cars, the house gets decorated and the holiday cooking begins.  This year there will be no exterior lights.  You see, we have sold our house and will be moving in January, so we are limiting our celebration to the interior of the house.  Yes, we are downsizing a bit and simplifying our lives somewhat.  Enough about us, it's time for some photos!
 For the Christian there can be no doubt that the source of our Joy at this time of year is the birth of the Savior.  It has been said many time that "Jesus is the reason for the season", and that is the absolute truth.  

These little angels are candle holders.  They have been in our family for over sixty years.  There are several items that serve as Christmas decorations that have now been a part of our family for three or four generations.  
The ornaments on our main tree come in all shapes and sizes, but the colors are pretty much limited to red, green and gold.  We're pretty traditional that way.  Last year my wife did the living room in gold and silver.  It was stunning, but she decided to return to tradition and I can't really argue with the results.

There are two trees in our home this year.  We have had as many as four.  This is the main tree in the living room.  It stands at nine feet tall, before you put the topper on it.  Now you know why I can't argue with the decision to return to a red, green and gold theme.  Still, my favorite tree in the house is...
  this narrow six and a half foot tree in the sitting area.  It is decorated with photo ornaments of the four grand kids.  The oldest photo will turn eighteen this year and the girl in the image is now a freshman in college.  There are also a few ornaments on this tree that are handmade and some that are now four generations old. Every time I look at this tree I am reminded of the joy of the season, the importance of family, and the bond that we have in Christ.  If we had room for no other tree, I would pick this one to put up because it is a source of great joy.
These ornaments are exactly the reason that I love this tree and they come in a variety of shapes.  For the sake of defining the limits of the tree, we have decided to take photos of each of the grand kids until they turn eighteen.  That means that this year will be the final year for the oldest grand daughter to have her photo taken and an ornament placed on the tree.  The grandson still has six more years of posing ahead of him.  Weill, that it for this week.  And now, a little music.

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 10


Saturday, December 6, 2014

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 9

Anyone who has been in the military that are deployed overseas, or anyone who has family in the military knows that the holidays can be difficult.  While it seems like the rest of the world is celebrating with friends and family, those with military family can only remember Christmas' past and look forward to being together again.  While I was in Vietnam, my mother would send me the occasional "care package".  On instance, a pretty good sized box arrived.  I opened it to find a fully decorated 3' Christmas tree.  All of the guys enjoyed having a little bit of home in the middle of the war zone.  If you have military family, or know of a service personnel that is deployed overseas, take a few minutes and send them a little Christmas.  Believe me, they will never forget your kindness.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Skywatch Friday - 2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 8

Let There Be Light!

Okay, this is NOT a Christmas song, but this is one of my favorite groups.  Their parents are friends of ours and it is a thrill to see these young people emerge as a very talented group is gospel music.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 7

Not everyone has the opportunity to celebrate the Joy of Christmas.  Their world is filled with challenges.  Sickness, death, war, poverty, hunger do not take a vacation but often serve to drive people further into sorrow, anger, and depression.  God never promised that this life would be easy, nor that we would never suffer hardship.  He did promise to be with us and to give us those things that we need to endure the hardships that we may face, strength, courage, perseverance, hope, mercy, and grace.  As long as we can look to the heavens and trust in "The Light of The World", we can say, "All Is Well."  Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - 2014 Christmas Music Marathon -Day 6

 Wordless Wednesday
Beaded Ornament

Christmas is truly a time for family.  The birth of Christ marks the time when all of us were invited to be brothers and sisters in the family of God.  It is also time for making and sharing memories.  What are your special memories from Christmas' past and what traditions do you have that your family will cherish as fond memories for years to come.
Our family gathers at the church on Christmas Eve for a candlelight ceremony.  Then we adjourn to our home for a very casual meal and opening gifts.  Prior to the opening of the presents, we take a few minutes for the grand kids to read the Christmas Story from the book of Luke and give thanks in prayer to our marvelous Savior.
Late Christmas morning we reconvene at our daughters' home for breakfast and to see what was left under the tree for the grand kids.  Since the youngest is now 11, those days are numbered.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ruby Tuesday Too - 2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 5

 Ruby Tuesday Too
The two ornaments pictured here have a special place in our hearts.  They were among the ornaments that hung on the tree forty-one years ago when my wife and I celebrated our first Christmas together.  They are satin and have a very soft sheen to them as they catch the light.  They are still in very good condition, so I expect to see them on our tree for many years to come.

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 6
An angel appeared to Mary to inform her that she had been chosen by God to give birth to the Savior of this world.  I don't know how anyone could fully understand the meaning of that news.  Mary was engaged to Joesph, not married.  They were going to have to travel to Bethlehem for the census and tax purposes.  There was a storm of controversy surrounding Mary once it was known that she was expecting a child.  Many counseled Joseph to abandon Mary and pursue another direction in his life.  Instead, Joseph listened to the voice of the Lord.  He married his betrothed and they began their journey together.  One has to wonder, how often did Mary sit alone in the evening, giving consideration to the words of the angel and did she understand the significance of the events that were soon to take place. Mary, did you know?                    

And what about Joseph?  After all, It wasn't his child.

Monday, December 1, 2014

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 4

What is your favorite childhood Christmas memory? Did you spend Christmas at a relative's home or did you wake up in your own bed and rush into the living room to see what Santa had left you. What Christmas tradition did you start or continue to celebrate when you became the parent? Many of my Christmas mornings were spent at my aunt and uncle's home in Illinois. When I got married, my wife and I, with our daughter, alternated Christmas celebrations between my parents and her parents. Our daughter spent most her Christmas mornings at Grandma's house. Our grand kids spend their Christmas mornings at their house. We go to their home around 10:00 a.m. and have a late breakfast and spend several hours just hanging out and enjoying one another. Christmas is always better when it is spent with family. Making Holiday memories are important to everyone. Have a blessed day.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday 2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 3

 Scavenger Hunt Sunday

This week Scavenger Hunt Sunday has given us the opportunity to post five of our favorite images.  Since I didn't do a true Thanksgiving themed post on Thursday, I'll post those images now.

 Since Thanksgiving is all about family, I thought that a group photo would be appropriate.  We have never had a photo taken with all of us in front of the house, ever!  There is a specific reason for this photo and I may explain it at a later date.

Wednesday afternoon the grand crew came out and spent the night.  It's always a joy when this whole crew is in the same place at the same time and that is getting harder to accomplish.  The oldest is now a freshman in college.  The next is a freshman in high school, the youngest grand daughter is in junior high and the grandson is in middle school.  What is that they are holding, you might ask.

Nana always has a group activity for them and this year it was baking and decorating gobbler cupcakes.  All of the kids like spending time with Nana in the kitchen and a fun activity like this never grows old, even for the college freshman.  There is a lot of time spent in the kitchen around Thanksgiving making high calorie treats.
The oldest grand daughter helped Nana make this pumpkin pie while the youngest grand daughter made and applied the decoration.  She made a template for the leaves, rolled out the dough, cut the shapes, applied the sprinkles. then baked and applied to the pie.

This year Nana decided to take a page from the Pioneer Woman cookbook and bake a Caramel Apple Pie with Pecans.  We're still calculating the calorie count on this masterpiece.  This is my wife's favorite time of the year.  She loves being in the kitchen making special dishes for her family.  Thanksgiving and Christmas give her all of the reasons that she needs to spend time in her favorite place, expressing her love to her family through her cooking.  We are the most grateful recipients of that love.  Well, that's it for my Scavenger Hunt.  Stay tuned, or continue reading for day three of my annual Christmas Music Marathon.  Have a blessed day.

2014 Christmas Music Marathon - Day 3

For the past several years November 4th has been celebrated by some as Blog Blast For Peace. I have participated most years. It gives me a chance to show, through scripture, that peace is the will of God. The purpose of the birth of Christ was so that there might be "Peace on earth and good will toward men." Before peace can come to this world, it must come to the heart of each individual. When the Holy Spirit of God lives in us, we possess a "peace that passes understanding" and when we refuse to accept Christ as our savior, peace will never truly be ours. Still, in a nation that is filled with violence, unrest, evil, crime, corruption, greed, arrogance, and pride, there is a heart cry for peace. May peace visit your heart this season.