Wednesday, December 24, 2008

To all our family and friends whom we will not be celebrating Christmas with this year Phillip and I wish each of you a VERY Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We'll have a blue Christmas without you! You will be in our thoughts and prayers. May your Christmas celebration be graced with the presence of God's Son. We trust you will have a blessed New Year from beginning till Christ Return. God Bless, Everyone! We love you.
This is what Christmas is all about...

(Better bundle up - the goose bumps will freeze you!! I think I need to read this every year at Christmas. )

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.
It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.
After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what..
Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.
After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what?
Yeah," I said, "Why?"
"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. Shoes, they're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."
We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, some we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern.
We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?"
Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.
"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.
"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak.
My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.
I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."
In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.
Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.
Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.
At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.
Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will."
Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that,but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.
For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.
Share this inspiring message. God bless you!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Luke 2

At this time of the year all over the world there is a commercial emphasis on Christmas tempting people to buy a lot of useless and unnecessary things. As far as Christmas decorations are concerned, one trade magazine says that nativity scenes are the popular choice of decoration, outselling those of Santa Claus.

As I read that article I could not help but ask, " Why is this so?” When you read the statistics of the number who attend church and see that more and more churches are closing because of lack of support and attendance, why then this sudden interest in the nativity ornaments?

The question that keeps coming to my mind concerning these people caught up in this trend, "Is it the appeal of the babe in the manger and nothing more?" For them is the Babe still in the manger? Is this all that Christmas means to them?

We sing ‘Away in a Manger’, but so many do not go much further in their thought processes than the manger. There are those who, because of the turmoil in the world, grasp at this small fragment of the angels' message when they sang about ‘peace on earth’. They just see the Babe as a symbol of that peace -- peace they desire to be established in the world -- missing the fact that peace can only come through accepting the complete message -- a Savior, not a military leader. No ordinary man – no matter how he tries -- can bring peace to the world. The only One who can bring true peace on earth is the Babe – the Christ Child. By His coming, His life, death and resurrection, He is the only One who can forgive sin and give His peace as a result of a right relationship with God.

When we continue to keep the Babe in the manger and fail to allow Him to grow and accomplish the task for which He came, we will never know His peace in our hearts and lives.

A couple of years ago people were saying, ‘Put Christ back into Christmas’. I wonder if this sudden desire to purchase nativity scenes is not an outcome of that slogan. Perhaps they see this as a means of doing just that, yet missing the whole point. In reality those who began the saying, ‘let us celebrate the true meaning of Christmas' - did not want us to forget why He was born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger so long ago.

Do we only think of the manger scene for just one month of the year and as soon as the Christmas season is over, pack it up and put it away for another year along with all thoughts of the real meaning of Christmas?

Let me ask you, “Is the Babe still in the manger”? Do we only think of the Christ Child as a Babe in the manger and leave the thought of Him there? Or in our hearts and minds do we allow Him to grow into manhood so that He can accomplish the task that God the Father had planned for our Salvation?

When Mary was first visited by the angel Gabriel, he said unto her, “You shall have a Son, and shall call His name Jesus…He…shall be called the Son of the Highest". Later when the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream concerning Mary and the child she was carrying said that he was not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel said, “Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins”.

God never intended that His Son, the Babe, should remain in the manger. Unfortunately too many are continuing to do just that.

As we approach this Christmas, it is my prayer that each one will think afresh on the true significance of the coming of the Christ Child.

Do we truly believe in our hearts that He was born as the angel said to Joseph, “to save His people from their sins’, or as told by the angels to the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”?

If you have any doubts concerning what the Christ Child means to you, come, bow down and worship Him. He will reveal Himself, not just as the Babe of Bethlehem, but as the Saviour for all who will truly believe that He is Immanuel – God with us -- the Savior of the world.

May the Christ of Christmas rule and reign in your heart, filling it anew with the glory and wonder of His coming.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas in Our Neighborhood
Sarah, Tony, Abigail, Zachary, & Hannah came to our home for supper and to exchange Christmas gifts.
Hannah read the Christmas story after supper and Abigail led in prayer as we thanked the Lord for blessing this past year and His protection on the year to come.

Tony is ready to challenge anyone to a game of Uno Flash

Or perhaps he is talking on a challenge. He has the tools for it.

Zachary is learning to play the trumpet.

Well it could be the violin...he hasn't decided.

Zachary can always fall back on his profession as firefighter if being a musician doesn't work.

For brother/sister time there's now Bible Bingo.

A new picture for Sarah to decorate the house with if she will put aside that new Karen Kingsbury book. Plus a skirt, a rug, a candle, etc.

Abigail can send messages now with her new Text and Talk Set. She can order snacks from her room.

This is her Yorkie puppy that actually breathes but it doesn't have to be let outside for a potty break. Do you think she will trade her poodle (Cuddles) who does require this attention? Don't think so.

This is one of her doll sets. Actually the other doll was a guy doll from Hannah Montana. You'll have to ask her the name I'm still stuck in the Barbie and Ken era. She also received a Barbie Lantern, & Microphone.

Here HE is......Mr. Americaaaaa!

Zachary went to Santa's workshop at school and did his Christmas shopping. He bought Naomi and me one of these cute little snowman pins. Naomi was also thrilled to receive a Bible Cover and tapes as well as fun pads.

Hannah has new MICHIGAN slippers, a skirt, a Bible, a set of pillows & socks.

No, we did not have a robbery while we were exchanging gifts. My husband is all ready for the freezing temperatures that began today with his new face mask. He also got several packs of Peppermints and a black shirt.

A cute flashlight from Zachary that has "grandpa" stamped on it.

These are my new slippers. They are SO warm, I love to send birthday/anniversary cards to my aunts, uncles, and family so I received 3 boxes of cards, perfume,a lace wall hanging, and a keychain that says "grandma." I'm sure I have left somethings out but we had a wonderful time with our family and we would like to say THANK-YOU to each of them. We love you all and praise God that you are all part of our lives. God bless you. Phillip, Naomi Ann and I will be leaving Wednesday evening to go to my mother's home for Christmas. Family time is one of the best parts of Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

1. If you eat a Christmas cookie fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookie is the test and thus calorie free.

2. If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories.

3. If a friend comes over while you're making your Christmas cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Because your friend's first cookie is calories free, rule #1 is yours also. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone and, being the friend that you are, that makes your cookie calorie free.

4. Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.

5. Any calories consumed during the frosting of the Christmas cookies will be used up because it takes many calories to lick excess frosting from a knife without cutting your tongue.

6. Cookies colored red or green have very few calories. Red ones have three and green ones have five - one calorie for each letter. Make more red ones!

7. Cookies eaten while watching "Miracle on 34th Street" have no calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one's personal fuel.

8. As always, cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breaking causes calorie leakage.

9. Any cookies consumed from someone else's plate have no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to their plate. We all know how calories like to CLING!

10. Any cookies consumed while feeling stressed have no calories because cookies used for medicinal purposes NEVER have calories. It's a rule!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Bunny's Day in the Snow
Abigail & Zachary

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cassady Christmas Concert

Friday evening we were privileged to attend a Christmas concert given by Stephen, Nicole, Blake & Chloe Cassady. They were a blessing as they sang for the Glory of God. It was an inspiration to hear the children sing with all their hearts. If the Cassady's are singing within driving distance plan to go and you won't be disappointed. Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

View from our front Door

Didn't God do a lovely job of decorating our lawn?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Decorating for the Holidays

Monday, December 01, 2008

Cowboys & Indians

Indian Jason

Ninja Jason

Indian Zachary

Pool Babies

Luke by the Pool
Christmas at Thanksgiving

Exercise Room

All Our Grandchildren

Naomi's turkey craft
at the Decatur Children's Museum
Aaron's headband craft

A bike for two

Santa's Reindeer

Stven, Jason, & Aaron
Timmy, Luke,

Steven making bubbles

Timmy at the train table

Zachary at the train table

Aaron at the Lego table


Who's the Pilot here?

Time for a new muffler

Twin Mechanics

Grandpa is this how to change it?