Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
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God, The Saviour of Men

 And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people.  For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord.’  Luke 2:10-11

While taking care of my work the other day, I listened to the excellent sermon I’m about to link to, courtesy of the Grace To You app on my phone*. Taught by John MacArthur, it is part of his “The Promise of Christmas” series and could not be more lovely or appropriate to the season. Believer or no, I encourage you to look it up on the app or just follow the link and listen to (or read) Pastor MacArthur teaching  “God, the Saviour of Men”. (The messages “The Announcement of Jesus’ Birth” are excellent, too.)

The God of the Old Testament was known to His people as a Savior.  Israel knew God as a Savior.  Now that was not the way it was with gods, the gods of men’s making.  There’s only one God, the one true and living God, the eternal God, and He is by nature a Savior, He is a saving God.  To use another word, a synonym, He is a Deliverer.  He delivers people from threatening things.  He is a rescuer, that’s another synonym.

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Posted in God

A December Home-going

My Grandmothers' Bowls

Both of these yellow bowls are family heirlooms, if something so simple can be an heirloom (to me, the answer is very much “yes”).

The sunny Pyrex bowl in back belonged to my paternal grandmother, who died before I graduated from high school. A month after my grandfather died, twenty years later after Grandma, just a few years ago now, Dad brought a box of things from their home to me, including Grandma’s Pyrex bowls. They’re actually a gift from my beloved Aunt Judy, who knows I, like herself and my grandmother (her mother, of course) and great-grandmother, love cooking and baking, and kindly wished me

1953

My paternal great-grandmother and grandmother, working on the family farm in Iowa, 1953.

to have them.

Those who’ve known me for a while have surely heard me talk about my Grandma Sally and endured my tales of her simple but fantastically good all-American cooking and baking, and her well-used bowls gained an instant place of pride in my kitchen—not incidentally, beside the pale blue Fire-King given to me by the aforementioned great-grandmother.

The butter-yellow stoneware bowl in the foreground belonged to my maternal grandmother, who it seems I christened “Nannie” when a toddler still learning to talk. Her first name is my middle. She didn’t enjoy cooking and baking as quite as much as Grandma Sally (I’ve told you about the still semi-frozen Christmas turkey that finished cooking in portions via the microwave to the sound of chuckling and giggling, right?), but among other fine characteristics, she did appreciate lovely things, and filled her home with them; some were practical, like the bowl, but of course, as women are often wont to do, others were just there to grace the home with loveliness.

I don’t know where this simply pretty and very sturdy bowl came from, but it fit the home of my maternal grandparents well and I’m sure dished out all kinds of good food. It was given to me last summer, when my grandfather, preparing to sell the home they’d lived in for so long, suggested the family come pick up anything they’d like, and was also given an affectionate place of honour in my kitchen.

Monday, Nannie went home to be with the Lord.  Continue reading

Bitty Christmas CD Recommendation

Hit play and enjoy as you read!

I’ve some strict rules in my life, and one of them is ironclad: No Christmas anything until the day after Thanksgiving. On this day, my own family’s tradition has been to put up and deck the tree and home for Christmas, a tradition I’ve carried over into my own homes since striking out. Of course, at that point, it is no holds barred celebration, because if God coming to earth to live a perfect, God-honouring and -glorifying life and then dying an awful death to pay the penalty for my wickedness so that God might declare me righteous is not cause for going all out…what on earth is?

(Needless to say, the “understated Christmas decor” trend is not for me. It’s tasteful, but you can’t miss it around here.)

Anyhow, that rule about no Christmas extends to music, much as I love so much of the Christmas music, both sacred and secular. But surely you, too, have noticed that the Christmas stations have become nauseatingly repetitive, no matter where you may be. And it’s not as if the catalog of Christmas music—in the States, especially—is paltry. It is enormous. You could  probably have a station of solely 1930s-40s Christmas tunes and not repeat a single song for many days. But here we are, I can’t stand the thought of Brenda Lee’s party or Karen Carpenter’s Christmas cards anymore (sorry, gals), and long to hear the superb Nat “King” Cole and Bing Crosby sing the other songs

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Photographing things in my car since I don’t care to say how long.

they sang so beautifully, so last year, began buying up Christmas albums.

One of them is “A Magical Christmas*” (it seems I lucked out, paying under five dollars for the set at a used bookstore!), chosen for its blend of the aforementioned sacred & secular and lack of songs Hubby and I can no longer bear. You’ll have to track it down at a used CD or bookstore, but it’s quite worthwhile, so if you see it, snap it up. There were two numbers we both found particularly enjoyable, from the two-dozen plus numbers (only one or two of which we considered clunkers—not a bad percentage!).

One was the opener, “Christmas Medley” by Harry Belafonte, at the top of this post. Lovely, yes? A perfect and enjoyable beginning to the collection, plus, one hears “O Little Town of Bethlehem” so rarely on the radio these days. That said, for us, the real standout happened to be a song one doesn’t usually think of as a Christmas carol, and was once in fact a regularly heard worship song, but one oh so rarely used by worship leaders anymore. But it wasn’t just the song, it was the singer performing it. Kids, it’s Bobby Darin singing “Holy, Holy, Holy”, and it’s beautiful.

Isn’t that marvellous? And we’ve nothing against Darin; it was an unexpected delight. So I hope you enjoyed it, too, and that you also find this CD for well under the apparently suggested seventy dollars. These two tunes alone are worth finding this for, and honestly, I think Darin’s “Holy, Holy, Holy” is worth the price of admission all by itself.

(You also get an Elvis very influenced by doo-wop, some Mario Lanza, of course Bing and Nat and Frank, Dean-o, Ella—albeit one solitary song, but her Christmas albums are all worth having—Doris Day, Peggy Lee—oh, and a fun little novelty song performed by Bing with the Andrews Sisters about toys throwing a party for Santa; the Bing-as-Santa laugh makes it worth a listen.)

I’m not a professional music reviewer, but I do enjoy good music, a laugh, and have gotten old and cranky and therefore cannot stand a majority of the contemporary stuff.

* Affiliate link. Please see my affiliate note at the bottom of the page, but hey—we have to keep our beloved senior collie in treats somehow, yes? 😉

Bitty Garden Tour

Bumblebee & Borage

Oh, who am I kidding? This post is likely to have 527 photos.

I'm a Liar!

The Kiss

A sad sight greeted my eyes last week (do pardon the tardiness—I also had surgery last week and recovery is taking a bit longer than anticipated): the first hard frost of the season, covering the grass and nearly-denuded trees and, of course, my veggie garden. Ben and I headed out to grab the last (green) tomatoes from the vine to ripen in the garage or be turned into some sort of preserve.

Last of the garden (methinks)

While most of the plants are indeed done for the season, my darling nasturtium actually doesn’t look bad and the youngest borage plants—borage being my other garden flower love—look as fresh as can be, and the same can be said for, of all things, the dill! The Brussels sprouts are fine, too, of course, and will probably taste all the better for the frost.

But for all intents and purposes, 2017’s growing season is over. This weekend I’ll put it to bed, though leaving up the still-blooming plants for as long as I can. Since it’s done for 2017 (my hopes of a winter garden setup having bitten the dust for the coming winter), why not a little tour? Continue reading

Pocketful of Nasturtium

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After a fashion, I suppose. After an unexpectedly exciting (read: wild and wooly) morning (all is well), Ben and I checked the garden for anything that ought to be brought inside. (Reading Proverbs 10 earlier this week, it must be said, played a part in encouraging me to be more diligent about such things—two of my tomato plants have been very disappointing this year, so I sort of dislike wandering into the veg garden at the moment.)

My nasturtium—which I adore and grow several varieties of—continue to thrive as we stride further into autumn, but there are plenty of seeds to gather from my many nasturtium plants. I just grab them as I see them and roll them into my apron pocket; once inside I spread Garden Tour: Nasturtiumthem out to dry, and once this is accomplished, will toss them into a canning jar with the hopes of seeing them come to life next year. This will be my first attempt at doing so; I’ll have to let you know how it goes.

It’s hard to tell from my phone-shooting-into-my-apron-pocket-at-high-noon photo, but nasturtium seeds look like tiny brains. Fun fact in case you need something quite unusual for Halloween. 😉

For some reason, I don’t seem to have any photos of the blooms themselves! Truly bizarre—but then I’m spending as much time watching the hardworking bees as anything in the veggie garden. Ooops.

At any rate, most of the seeds I’ve gathered in so far are of a nice size indeed, but some of the very small ones remain in the apron pocket; as we walk about the property, I’ll toss them into Garden Ben!the woods along our pathways and drive, and see what God decides to do with them. (Yes, whether or not any of them produce at all is up to Him, but these semi-rejects will be far more obviously on their own.) Who has ever been disappointed by nasturtium popping up in unexpected places? Not this gal, and not anyone she knows. Including, presumably, Ben.

Pray for the first responders, too

All too often we awaken to the sort of news that cruelly greeted us this morning. No doubt you, as I, said at least one prayer, if not many more, for those murdered in Las Vegas, for their families and friends. But I would like to ask that we also keep in our prayers the first responders—the police, the EMTs, the doctors and nurses in local hospitals and medical centers.

When the nightclub in Orlando was subject to a heinous terror attack last year, I found myself thinking not only of the lost and their loved ones, but of the unimaginably awful carnage police and medical personnel had to confront as they tried to find any who might still be alive and savable, as they worked to understand what had happened that awful night, and how their souls must have churned when they stepped through the doors of Pulse. These are things that human eyes ought never see, that human minds ought never have to contemplate or try to understand, but here we are, in this utterly broken, fallen world, and increasingly too many of our fellow beings have to see such things (consider the knife attack in Paris this weekend, or the attempted truck attack in Edmonton).

The effect on these men and women—mentally, spiritually, and physically—is surely beyond awful. So please: pray for them, too. In a way they are peripheral victims, and though they deal with human evil just about daily, events like this are certainly on another level—human evil nakedly undeniable, expressed in blood and death and loss and forever-wounded hearts. Thanks.