A New Year, A New Blog Home!

I’ve been between worlds with my blog for about a month now, and with the new year, I’m ready to make the move official. I’m blogging at my own domain now – the new address is www.grace-and-glory.net. Please come join me at the new place and share your thoughts on the new year!

Christmas Hymn

Gloucester Cathedral Choir and congregation sing In the Bleak Midwinter
Beautiful and moving.
Does He have my heart today?

I’m setting this up in January – thank you for grace if there are gliches upon its scheduled appearance.

A Free Gift for your Advent Worship

I am thrilled to be able to offer you a free gift to aid your worship of the Savior this season. Our family has been deeply blessed by the use of the Advent Wreath, and I pray that this offering of a free e-book will bless and aid your worship as well, whether you are worshipping alone or with a house full of family.

Just right click on the following link and choose “Save Target As” to save the .pdf file to your computer.

Anticipating the Savior – The Advent Wreath as a Tool for Worship

I would be delighted for you to share this book with your friends and family. Would give me the grace of directing them here to share, please?

If you would like a link-button for your site or blog, feel free to use the code found on this post at my new (really still in-the-works) website:

A Free Gift for your Advent Worship

Quick shopping list for your Advent Wreath:
Four candles for the outer ring of candles. They can be tapers, votive, pillars… or whatever works for you. Depending on preference and availability, you need three purple or blue, and one pink or red. You might consider purchasing an extra set in case the first burns too low.
One white candle for the center Christ candle. I like to use a pillar, but find what suits you.
Candle holders for safety. I use simple individual candle holders for my tapers, and a small glass plate for my pillar.
Greenery of some sort for your wreath. An actual wreath, a length of garland, live evergreen branches… the form is much less important than the heart!

Still here!

I’ve been a bit distracted from blogging lately…

We’re on our second round of chicken pox currently. Unless Andrew ends up getting them in a third round, we will have lifetime immunity for seven out of eight Blessings. It’s been a doozey, and we were gifted with a stomach bug in the midst of it, but I think we’re going to pull through. Do please pray for Katie, though. She’s just getting started on her case, and I’m thinking there was some basis to the article I read that said that kids with eczema and other skin problems are likely to have thousands of pox as opposed to hundreds. She’s not up yet today, but from the way she looked last night, my mama-heart is very concerned for her.

I started dreaming last year of making available an Advent Wreath resource that folks could download for free, and that project is almost done! I hope to have it available in the next few days. This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, so I’m a bit down to the wire. If you would like to try using an Advent Wreath as a tool for worship this year, consider going ahead and picking up the needed candles while you’re out this week. You’ll need a white candle for the center (I like to use a pillar for this), and four candles for the outer ring (I usually use tapers) – three purple or blue, and one pink or red. What a solemn and estatic joy it is to celebrate His coming!

Our dearly loved dog Juilin died last week. He ran out in the road one too many times, and he did not make it. It was an honor to have him breathe his last with his head resting on my leg. We will miss him. I enjoyed going through our family pictures and picking out some of Juilin. If you like pictures of sweet adorable dogs, you might enjoy looking at them.

Our apples are all canned. I don’t have a final count yet, but hope to post more on our appling with some numbers and pictures. We did six bushels this year and tried some new stuff. I think we all enjoyed it.

And now, I must work on finishing that Advent Wreath book!

Wonderful Merciful Savior

We’ve been busy this week with the chicken pox. Four out of eight of the Blessings have them this round, and we’re hoping there won’t be too many more rounds to finish off the business of building lifetime immunity. We’re doing lots of cuddling around here.

These two don’t have the pox, but they sure look sweet cuddling!

I’m not feeling very wordy, but I’ve found these words to this song resonating this week.

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and Friend
Who would have thought that a Lamb
Could rescue the souls of men
Oh you rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we’ve hopelessly lost the way

You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne

You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Listen here if you’d like

When All Seems Cold and Silent

I opened my inbox this morning to read of a infertility/adoption heartache of a friend of a friend. Fourteen years on knees, beseeching the Father for children, willing to accept even the honor of bringing an unmet soul into existence. Barren womb, run-away mothers, empty arms. Such grief.

And when He seems to not be answering, what then? When He says no, what then? When all seem cold and silent?

Ann spoke beautifully to this yesterday. A small snip from her heart-tugging, heart-growing post:
She whispers it, “God does loves us, doesn’t He, Mama?”

And I nod and this is always the question and maybe this is all our faith really is — Faith is this unwavering trust in the heart of God in the hurt of here. Unwavering trust all the time though I don’t understand all the time.

God is always good and we are always loved.

Loved enough to be shaped into goodness of Christ Himself.

Oh, but the molding can hurt so. Can’t it? It’s hard to see the Son sometimes…

And we question His love, His goodness.

And He brings us back to the knowing with the little things.

Years ago, it was a simple line that brought me back to the knowing of His love after years of dark doubting. It’s been the embrace of a friend, the tears of a loved one, typeset words, handwritten words – His words or the words of His people. Other times, it has been the counting of the “small” gifts with which He fills my life.

He loves. And even when He seems silent, He knows. (Listen, please. I still cannot seem to embed.)

Here are some verses that I shared with my friend this morning, praying that they would strengthen her heart and help her as she seeks to help her friend to the knowing of His love. If you are in a silent time now, may they bless you today. If the silence is later, may He remind you of His unending love when you most need it. And may we learn to see His beauty and love, even in the cold and the silence.

Psalm 27:4-8,13,14
(4) One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
(5) For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.
(6) And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
(7) Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!
(8) You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
(13) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
(14) Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!

Psalm 84:10-12
(10) For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
(11) For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor (grace and glory!).
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
(12) O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Psa 73:25-28
(25) Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
(26) My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(27) For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
(28) But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

Rom 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or
danger, or sword?
(36) As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
(37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us.
(38) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
(39) nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again
to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
(4) to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you, (5) who by God’s power are being guarded through faith
for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
(6) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary,
you have been grieved by various trials,
(7) so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold
that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result
in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(8) Though you have not seen him, you love him.
Though you do not now see him, you believe in him
and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
(9) obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
(34) “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
(35) “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
(36) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory
forever. Amen.

Psalm 56:1-13
To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam
of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.
(1) Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
(2) my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly.
(3) When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
(4) In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
(5) All day long they injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
(6) They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life.
(7) For their crime will they escape?
In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
(8) You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
(9) Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
(10) In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise,
(11) in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
(12) I must perform my vows to you, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
(13) For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Happy Reformation Day

Eh? Reformation Day? Is that some holiday that the non-Halloween crowd invented to have something different to celebrate on October 31?

Actually, no. Though I had thought so myself until just recently. And it is nice to have something to talk about besides Halloween.

October 31 is the traditional date for Martin Luther’s posting of the Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, commonly known as the95 Thesis on the door of All Saints Church at Wittenburg in 1517, an event that is often credited with sparking the Reformation. There is record of church celebration of Reformation Day as early as the 1560s, so the observance is nothing new.

We have participated in extensive Reformation Day celebrations in the past (fun memories!), but this year we will simply be talking some about the Reformation, singing A Mighty Fortress is Our God… and starting to put up apples (which is totally unrelated).

For a surprisingly well documented (for wiki) collection of Reformation Day information, see this article. I found this quote particularly interesting:
The fact that Reformation Day coincides with Halloween may not be mere coincidence. Halloween, being the Eve of All Saints’ Day might have been an entirely appropriate day for Luther to post his 95 Theses against indulgences since the castle church would be open on All Saints’ Day specifically for people to view a large collection of relics. The viewing of these relics was said to promise a reduction in time in purgatory similar to that of the purchase of an indulgence.

Have a blessed day!

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