Over the years, I have watched my niece, Jenny Spethman grow in so many ways. Of course, I’ve seen her grow from a little girl into a teenager, adult, wife, and mother, but those are simply the normal changes we all go through in life. Jenny has changed in so many other, more important ways though. Growth can take on very different and complicated forms, but the greatest growth is in the area of the spiritual, and it is in that area that I find Jenny to have almost literally exploded. I have watched her faith in God grow by leaps and bounds.
Life has not always been easy for Jenny. She has had her share of heartaches, as those who know her can attest, but through it all, she and her husband, Steve Spethman have never faltered on one thing…their faith in God. When people lose a child, often the first thing that is questioned is to ask God why He did this, but not Jenny and Steve. They knew that this was not God. And they then doubled their focus on God’s word, and his promise that they will see their baby girl, Laila in Heaven, and until then, she is in the arms of Jesus and enjoying time with family who have also gone on to Heaven. Jenny and Steve have been blessed with their three sons, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, as well as their daughters, Laila, and now Aleesia, who is almost 2½ years old. Every day is viewed as a blessing beyond measure, even though they miss Laila terribly.
I had really never thought of Jenny as a morning person, although I don’t know why, but these days, at least, she cherishes the early morning hours, as a time to see God’s great sunrises and reflect on His teachings and promises to her. She also loves to see the moon and stars, again because she knows that God has blessed her life with such enormous beauty. I think that it is in these quiet moments of reflection, often before her family wakes up, that Jenny has grown closer and closer to God. She knows that He is not only her Father, Lord, and Saviour, but in all reality, her Daddy and friend. A friend that sticks closer that all others, and no matter what life brings her.
Jenny has grown in so many ways, and each area of growth has made her a more and more beautiful person, both inside and out. I am so proud of her and all that she has become. I look forward to the time to come when I will see her grow even more, especially in her walk with the Lord. Today is Jenny’s birthday. You are an amazing woman, and one I am proud to call my niece. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Many people, myself included, believe that our country was founded and populated in an effort to escape religious persecution. Looking back on several branches of my family tree, as well as that of my husband, I see the personal accounts of a number of people who dealt with persecution first hand. People such as my Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren, who makes not of it in her journals when she speaks of her father, my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher’s return trip to Germany to visit family members who were still living there. During that time, the German government was doing it’s very best to force people to deny the very existence of God on any level, and their lack of any need for a god to lean and rely on. So often, I think of religious persecution, such as we have in the United States today, as being a problem of the current times. I suppose that is because it feel very personal to me at this time in history, but in reality, I suppose it is nothing new. In fact, the Bible says that there is no new thing under the sun.
When my great grandfather made the trip back to his homeland, he had plenty of time. His visit was extended for several months. It was most likely during that time that he became more and more convinced that his move to the United States was the right one for him. While he was free, or at least relatively so, to practice his faith in his own way, there was, nevertheless, a number of incidences whereby doing so could be frowned upon to say the very least. That fact would not be something that would deter my grandfather from standing on his faith, and it would renew his love for his new country, and his reasons for coming here to it.
I have run across many other ancestors, particularly on the Knox side of the family who suffered persecution from people in their homeland over their choice of religious beliefs. It’s strange to think that when someone receives a revelation concerning God’s word, that they are immediately looked upon as severely brain damaged. Why is it that people would assume that we humans, with our small minds would somehow have the capacity to know everything God intended for us to know…that there couldn’t possibly be anything else for us to learn from His word. And yet, that is exactly what we do. That is why our forefathers left the old world, and came to America in the first place. The churches they were forced to be a part of, or the removal of any kind of religion from their lives had left them with no choice but to leave the country they have called home all their lives, and move to an unknown world.
I don’t know how many immigrants arrived here as a result of religious persecution, but I do know that our nation has somehow lost sight of why we first began to exist. There are so many religions in the world today…especially Christians and Jews who are bring brutally persecuted right now. I still believe in freedom of religion. I may not agree with some of the religions in the world, but each person should have the right to believe as they choose. And no one should ever have to pay for their beliefs with their lives. I know that this world will probably not change that until Jesus returns, and I think that is very sad.
As Christmas arrives, I am reminded of so many Christmases from the past. As a kid, I think the earliest memory I have of Christmas was the big celebration we always had when decorating the tree. The day we decorated the tree became a family party. We made snacks and played Christmas music. We sang Christmas carols, laughed, and munched. We always had a real tree in those days, because artificial trees didn’t exist, as far as I know. That meant that the first part of the evening was spent with my dad cutting the trunk of the tree to remove any unneeded height. The fragrance of the spruce tree filled the air. It was an incredible scent, and one that I still love to this day. The real tree lives in the past for my family now, and I can’t say that I’m totally sorry about that, because they are messy, and a fire hazard. I will take the trade off, and the fragrance of the spruce tree will have to live in my memory files.
Christmas eve was another family night, with singing, and of course, the one gift that we got to open that night…our new pajamas. I’m sure that was to add a nice fresh touch to the Christmas morning pictures, but it didn’t matter, because we loved getting those pajamas…and the excitement if opening just one gift on Christmas Eve was what it was all about anyway. These days with my children grown up, I’m not the one to give pajamas, although, we did it when our girls were little. Now they always know that at Grandma’s house, they will receive an ornament, so what is the mystery in that. Well, it is what kind of ornament, of course. I try very hard to be creative with those, and I think I did great this year. We had gone to Alaska on a cruise this past summer, and the kids all received an Alaskan ornament. I was so excited about those, that I had to get one of my own.
Christmas day always brought excitement and awe. It didn’t matter what you got, it was just so exciting to open the long anticipated gifts to see what you got. It always seemed that at this time of year, people were listening carefully so they could hear what you wanted, and then they headed out to get it and surprise you with it. My favorite years were the ones where we got something extra special for my parents. It was amazing to surprise them with something they never expected that we could afford…like the toaster we got them when I was the only one with a job. The rest of the gifts were hand made. They were so shocked. Then there was the year that we were sending them on an Alaskan cruise for their 50th wedding anniversary. We got them a video camera for the trip. They were so excited. Yep, I think the best Christmases are the ones where you give amazing gifts. It is about giving rather than receiving. I guess that was how God felt too. After all, He gave us the greatest gift of all…Jesus. And that is the greatest Throwback Christmas of them all. Merry Christmas everyone and may the greatest blessings God has to offer be yours this Christmas and all year long.
It’s tradition…looking at your life on Thanksgiving Day, to give thanks for the many blessings that you have received over the year, and the years past. We take stock of everything. The sad things are set aside for review on another day, and we focus on our family, friends, homes, and jobs. And we look to the future and what it promises to bring for us. It isn’t all about things, and in fact, things are often the furthest things from our minds. We are much more focused on our loved ones. Of course, this isn’t the only day we give thanks for our loved ones, nor should it be, but sometimes we find ourselves so preoccupied with our daily lives, that we don’t really notice the blessings that are all around us every day.
This tradition was felt to be so important, that on October 3, 1783, President George Washington issued a proclamation making the 26th day of November as a national day of prayer and thanksgiving…a day to give thanks to Almighty God with grateful hearts for all He has done for us. While the date has been changed to the 4th Thursday of November now, the tradition has remained intact. Somehow though, many people have forgotten the prayer and thanksgiving part of the day, and remember only the food part of the day. There is nothing wrong with feasting…in fact God set aside feast days for His people too, but we must remember that the feast part of the day is supposed to coincide with the prayer and thanksgiving part of the day.
It is my belief that most people are thankful for what they have, but there is a difference between being thankful for things, and giving thanks for things. I believe that difference is acknowledging the one who gave all these things to you…God. I suppose that people who don’t believe in God would see no reason to be thankful to Him, but for me, with my deep faith in God, blessing couldn’t come from anywhere else. God loves me and He is the one who blesses me. Therefore, it is to Him…Almighty God that I give thanks on this Thanksgiving Day. I, like so many other people, neglect the need to thank God in the way that I really should, and maybe having a national day of Thanksgiving, will give us all the opportunity to step back from our busy lives and take a good look at all we have been blessed with. And maybe we can all take a few minutes out of this day to acknowledge God’s grace and loving kindness toward us…and give Him thanks for all he does for us. Happy Thanksgiving to all…and thanks be to God for His loving kindness and all the blessing He has given me and my family.
Every Easter families gather together to eat a big meal and enjoy each other’s company. Most of us use just about any excuse to have a huge meal filled with all the best dishes we can think of. The meal often consists of ham and brisket at our house. And of course, what Easter dinner would be complete without eggs in some form…usually for breakfast and dinner. All those eggs the kids colored had to be used in some way, after all. In our family, the eggs are called angel eggs, because for obvious reasons, we don’t like the term deviled eggs. I really don’t want the devil involved in anything in my family…even the eggs.
But, more importantly, as Christians, we come together to remember the sacrifice our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ made to save us from our sins. We were in a horrible mess. We had all sinned, and there was no way out of going to Hell…not that we could manage anyway. Nevertheless, God is a loving God, and His children really are His life. He devised a plan to save us from the mess we were in. He sent his son, Jesus, who left His home in Heaven to come to earth, as a man, to live a sinless life, and then to die on the cross anyway, because it was the only way out for us. A sinless man had to die to pay the price for a world of sinners.
I saw a post yesterday on Facebook with the message, “Friday happened, but Sunday is coming.” That is so true. There is nothing we can do about the fact that our sins caused the need for a Saviour, Jesus to come and die to save us. That is in the past, but our future is eternal in Heaven, because of the selfless act of our Saviour. It is God’s love, grace and mercy toward his children that allows us to walk away from the punishment we all deserved, and live forever with Him. We can never thank Him enough for sending His Son. We can never thank Jesus enough for choosing to come and die in our place. All we can do now is rejoice!! Friday happened, but Sunday came three days later, because God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son!! Jesus willingly paid the price, defeated the devil, and the rose again to proclaim that victory!! Sunday is here!! He is risen!!! Jesus is alive!! Rejoice!!
On Sunday morning, our congregation was treated to my niece, Kellie’s debut on the piano. Kellie is an accomplished singer, and loves music ministry, but this was the first time she had ever played the piano in public. She told us that she loves playing the piano, but until that day, she played in her home…alone. Kellie is a little bit shy, when it comes to performing solos, but she really shouldn’t be, because she has the voice of an angel, and she plays the piano very well too. She told us that God has been leading her to play the piano as part of her music ministry, and I for one hope she will follow that leading and play more often, because it was beautiful. Her God given gifts are many, and her spirit is so beautiful. It is a wonderful mix that makes her the blessing she is.
As I listened to Kellie sing, I once again found myself totally amazed at the woman she has become. Sometimes, it is hard to imagine what a child will become, as you are watching them grow up. Then, when they are grown, and you see what an awesome individual they have become, and you are somehow surprised at what great things they are doing now. I really shouldn’t be, because Kellie has always been this same way, but when I hear her sing solos, and now play the piano too, the beauty of it just brings tears to my eyes. It doesn’t matter how many times I hear Kellie sing, because each time is like listening to an angel in a choir. She puts such feeling into the songs and you know that even though she did not write them, they are just how she feels in her heart. It is God singing through her, and it is beautiful.
Kellie has always been such a sweet girl, and as she has grown into womanhood, her faith has grow to amazing levels. I love the faith filled posts she puts on Facebook, because they are from her heart, yet they minister to so many people. It’s amazing that somehow the things she posts are just the things I needed to see. She is a blessing to anyone who knows her, and an asset to our church. As her aunt, I couldn’t be more proud of her if I tried. From her sweet spirit to her angelic voice, she is amazing. I love you Kellie!!
Christmas has become so commercialized that we stress for weeks and even months over what gift to buy this one or that one, not to mention all the planning for dinner and places we need to go. Christmas wasn’t always this commercialized, but it still could have been pretty stressful in days gone by. People didn’t necessarily run out and crazily shop all over town, but if money was tight, they tried their best to figure out a way to give a gift of some kind. Even if money was not tight, some people came up with ideas all year long…because some gifts take a little bit of time. Those are the homemade gifts, and usually some of the most awesome gifts a person will ever get. Some people think that a gift that is homemade isn’t as good as a gift that is store bought, but I say they are very wrong.
When my Great Uncle Dennis Dunahee, who always went by Burt, and his son, my cousin Raymon, decided to make Christmas gifts, they did it in grand style. The gifts they made reminded me of the kind of gifts you might see the people on “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons” make. Were the Dunahee gifts homemade with love…absolutely!! Were they stunning…absolutely!! It occurs to me that there are a number of carpenters in the Spencer family who are capable of making beautiful furniture. It’s strange the things you never knew about your family. It turns out that one of this family’s best kept secrets is something quite beautiful indeed.
Christmas in times past was not only less focused on time spent in the mall, it was more focused on the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not that we don’t think about the real meaning of Christmas in today’s world, because we do, but sometimes it is easier to get distracted, by the rush to get our shopping done, gifts wrapped, and dinner planned. By the time the day arrives, we can easily be too exhausted to give thought to what this day is all about…the birth of our Saviour!! The reason we give gifts is to remind us of the greatest gift ever given, but in all our giving, we need to remember that the greatest gift ever given…Jesus, is far more important on this day that the gifts we give and receive. Today, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and I pray that you take time to be thankful to God for the gift of His precious Son…Jesus!!
Today, I give thanks to God for all of the wonderful family and friends he has blessed me with. What would life be without all of the wonderful people in my life. This day is not about the turkey and stuffing, or the days off from work, but about all the ways God has blessed and enriched my life. The blessings He has bestowed on me are too numerous to list here, but be assured that they are to the level of overflowing. My extended family has grown exponentially this year, and that has been a blessing beyond words. To all my cousins, the new ones we have found, and those who we have known all along…you are a greater blessing than you will ever know…I love you all.
I am especially thankful that all of my family members are healthy again, and those who haven’t been are getting better and better every day. Being in good health is vital to life, and so I give thanks to God for good health for me and all my loved ones.
I thank God that in a time of recession, all of my family members have jobs. We don’t think too much about jobs, until the economy goes bad, and then that is a very important part of our thoughts, but God has protected our jobs, and blessed us all financially.
On this wonderful holiday, it is my hope that all of my friends and family are as blessed as my family and I have been. Praise God for all His goodness, grace, and mercy in our lives. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!
God saw that this world was doomed, because the wages of sin is eternal death and separation from Him. Still, because God is love, he made a way in which all those who would follow his plan could live even after they had sinned. The price had to be paid. There simply was no other way. Sin had gotten us into this mess, and a sinless man was the only one who could pay the price to redeem a lost world. But where would this sinless man come from?
God saw a problem, and then He devised a solution. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. The very Son of God had agreed to leave all the glory of Heaven, be born to a human woman, live a sinless life, and then pay for our sins as an innocent sacrifice. He hung on that cross to pay the price we could not pay. Had the devil only known what he was doing, he would not have crucified the Son of God. By the time the devil figured out what he had done, it was too late.
Jesus marched into Hell…victorious and took back the keys to death and Hell, which the devil had been given through Adam’s treasonous act. Jesus paid it all and through His sacrifice, we have been put back in right standing with God again. There is nothing we can’t ask of God now. The curtains have been ripped in two, and we have been given access to the Holy of Holies. We can come boldly before the Throne of God and ask what we will, with the name of Jesus, and he will give it to us. We are his children now.We have been adopted into his family. Our debt has been paid.
On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead to show the world that He was victorious…even over death. There is nothing that we need to fear. Death has been defeated. The devil has been defeated. Sin has been defeated. By the grace of God, our lives have been spared. We cannot earn it. We didn’t deserve it. Love gave it to us. God is Love. Jesus is our Savior, and He is risen. Jesus is alive and sitting on the right hand of God! Believe on Him and you will be saved.
My niece, Susan was in town recently with her girls, Jala and Kaytlyn. I find myself amazed every time I see the girls, at how fast they are growing up. Jala is a tall slender girl with lots of energy, and while Kaytlyn is 6 years younger than her big sister, she wants to be all grown up like her big sister, anyway. As the girls played, I watched Kaytlyn try to imitate everything Jala did.
Still, as Kaytlyn grows, I can see that she is coming into her own too. She loves to dance, and whenever she finds herself at a wedding or other party involving music, Kaytlyn gets out there and struts her stuff with the best of them. It doesn’t matter if she has a partner or not, she can dance either way. And, she doesn’t mind teaching some other little girl how to dance too.
Kaytlyn is a girlie girl, and she likes to do things that make her feel pretty. Dancing is always something that makes little girls feel pretty. It’s funny that when kids are little, they dance without inhibition, and later, when they aren’t little, they feel self conscious, so watching these little ones dance is always so much fun. Of course, some of these little kids have pretty good rhythm, and that makes for good little dancers.
Never the less, as the evening wears on, even the most energetic kids, finally get tired, and they have to take a break. Being a dancer can be exhausting and these tiny dancers are usually in bed much earlier than the rest of us. Before it gets very late, Kaytlyn is too tired to dance any more and just wants to find her bed. There will always be another opportunity to dance at home tomorrow. Today is Kaytlyn’s birthday. Happy birthday tiny dancer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!