Looking back on my life really, but focusing on Christmases, so much has changed. I remember Christmases with my parents and my sisters…simple times with just our family. After we opened gifts in the morning, the house would begin to be filled with the wonderful smells of the coming dinner. While things were cooking, we were playing with our various toys and such. While the day was relaxed and fun for my sisters and me, I’m sure it wasn’t quite as relaxed for my parents, who would spend most of the day with meal preparations. Nevertheless, they lovingly prepared for that dinner, and before very long, dinner was ready…and what a dinner it was. My parents could really cook. I can still taste all those wonderful foods.
Later, with the marriages of my sisters and me, the dinners became a little more complicated, meaning we would need to incorporate the in-laws’ side of the family. Still, it worked out, with a little bit of time management. We somehow managed to go both places and eat two meals…were we ever full sometimes!! With so many good foods, it’s hard to take a small sampling of them, and walk away from the rest. The day usually ended with us feeling like beached whales as we crashed on the couch or the floor. Nevertheless, the kids enjoyed the day, and really, wasn’t that what it was all about, after all. As the next generation grew to marriage age, we had to try to combine again…this time adding the new set of in-laws to the mix. That usually meant dinner at the grandparents’ homes with multiple generations all crowded into the house. Still, togetherness was the key to it all. Now, it was the great grandchildren we focused on, because they were the new little ones, and the excitement centered around them.
The next change that happened was when our parents went home to Heaven. That was probably the biggest change of all…and the hardest to accept. Now we have a big family Christmas party a week or so before Christmas or on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day we go our separate ways to celebrate with our own families. We are the great grandparents or grandparents now, and it’s our children who have to work around the in-laws in their own way. Some trade years, others go both places, and others celebrate on two different days to make it easier on everyone. Who could have known all those years ago, when this all got started, that Christmas could be so complicated.
With all the complicated holiday situations, it is important to remember the real reason for the season…the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While God is all for giving gifts, He always hopes that we will remember the greatest gift ever given…Jesus!! Were it not for Jesus, we would be doomed. So, while the gifts are nice, and the food is great, let’s not forget why we celebrate this day…the birth of our Savior. Happy birthday Jesus!! Thank you coming to Earth and saving the world!!
My great grandnephew, Jaxx Harman is such a sweet boy. He is the youngest child and only son of my grandnephew Jake Harman, and his wife Melanie. Having two older sisters doesn’t bother Jaxx one bit, because he is well able to hold his own against the girls, Alice and Izabelle…should he ever need to. Nevertheless, Jaxx and his sisters are really good friends too. They might pick on him some, but he picks right back, so it’s really no big deal. Their household is really a rough and tumble world. The kids enjoy the teasing and are all really good sports about it all. The really fun thing about having kids who love to tease and are fie with being teased is that the house is always filled with laughter.
For Jaxx, his daddy is his favorite and his best friend. Once Jake gets home from work, Jaxx is quite literally glued to him and just loves playing kingdom hearts with him. They spend lots of time doing things together, and if Jake is doing something, you can be sure that Jaxx is too, or will be just as soon as he is old enough to do so.
Jaxx is also very helpful to both his parents, and a very loving little boy. He just randomly gives hugs and kisses, and that just makes the day of the receiver. I love it when little boys don’t mind hugs for family members. Some boys are rather resistant to public displays of affection, so when you have one that loves hugging those he loves, it is a really special blessing in your life. Jaxx also loves to tell those he loves that he loves them. He instinctively knows that you really should let the people you love know that you love them. It makes their day, and that is important. Jaxx’s his true best friends are his mommy, daddy, and his two sisters.
Now, don’t assume that because Jaxx is very loving, and full of hugs and kisses, that he is in any way a wimp. Jaxx is all boy, and he loves to wrestle and climb on everything from the furniture to any tree that he can get up in. I find it so hard to believe that Jaxx will be in Kindergarten in the Fall. Where have all the years gone? It seems like just yesterday that we were waiting for him to arrive, and now, he is growing up so much and so fast. I know that Jake and Melanie are both so proud of their son, like the rest of the family is too. Today is Jaxx 5th birthday!! Happy birthday Jaxx!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Some men are Boy Dads, which in no way means that they wouldn’t be good with girls. Some men are Girl Dads, which in no way means that they wouldn’t be good with boys. the truth is that any good dad can be a good dad to boys or to girls, but there is one thing that I think my sisters and I would all agree on with our dad, Allen Spencer. While he would have been a great dad to boys, his girls needed him to be our dad. Maybe a girl dad or a boy dad is just blessed with the gift of one or the other, because they have a particular way with one or the other.
Our home was filled with so much love and dad understood the needs of girls…like giving up the bathroom quickly so we could get all dolled up. He understood that when camping, the fire needed to be kept going…”to keep the bears away.” There were so many other things that Dad instinctively knew about girls and our girly ways, and he always made us feel loved, special, and safe. We were his princesses, and Dad loved all his princesses and much as he loved his queen, our mom Collene Spencer. Yes, our dad was definitely a Girl Dad, but it was we, his girls, who were blessed because he was our Girl Dad.
Dad did all the normal “dad things” that all dads do, like working hard every day to support his family, taking us on more vacations that almost any of our classmates got to go on, and I’m not bragging, just stating a fact. Dad loved to travel, and he loved this country; and he wanted his girls to be able to see as much of it as possible, because there is no greater nation on earth, except God’s chosen nation…Israel, and I think he would have loved to take us there too. For our dad, the greatest gift he could give his girls is the gift of faith in Jesus as our Savior. Faith was something he was given as a child, and I remember reading his letters home from World War II, written to his mom, Anna Spencer, in which he and his mother encouraged each other with God’s promises, given to us all in the Bible. Dad was very protective of his mom too. She was another of the women in his life who were blessed to know the love and protective nature that was always our dad, her son.
Dad went home to Heaven on December 12, 2007, and we miss him every day. There was so much more to Dad than the things he gave us or the special way we were treated, there was the love that dad gave his girls. Dad may have been blessed to be a Girl Dad, but it was really his girls who were blessed, because he was our dad. Today would have been Dad’s 98th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. Have a great party with Mom and the rest of the family. We can’t wait to see you all again. We love and miss you very much.
In a time of world chaos, one thing stands out…Jesus. We all need Jesus. It’s hard to believe that a sinless man would be willing to carry the sins of the world. None of us could or would do that. We would most likely fear death too much…at least at such a young age. It is believed that Jesus was about 33 years old. Most of us would feel like we had too much to live for at that age, and yet, Jesus endured the scourging, the “trial” that was nothing more than a lynch mob, and the horrible suffocating death on the cross, because He saw joy set before Him…JOY, how could that be? How could Jesus see the torture and death that was coming to Him as joy, because mankind could still come to Heaven…that was His joy.
He saw the joy of a world that could be back in right standing with God. Something we could never have achieved on our own. This world was in a seriously horrible place…even more so than the chaos we are in right now. The wages of sin is death, and we had all sinned. It was going to take the death of a man to pay for the sins of the world, but that man had to be sin-free. In the beginning, a sinless man sinned, thereby giving away his birthright of eternal life. So that meant either all mankind had to die and go to Hell, or a sinless man had to die to pay the price for all of us. Enter Jesus, and thank God He was willing to pay that price for us.
That was what Jesus did for us when He went to the cross on Good Friday. I don’t know if many of you really know what scourging is, but let me tell you. The Romans were famous for their horrific types of torture. The “whip” they used to beat (scourge) Jesus usually had nails or pieces of metal or glass attached to them. The purpose of these things being attached to the whips tails was to rip the flesh off of the victim. By the time they were done, internal organs were often visible. Then they took Jesus, after making Him carry His own cross, and nailed Him to that cross. The way they nailed Him to the cross meant that He had to push up with His feet to be able to get air into His lungs. The more tired the victim became, the less they would be able to raise themselves up so they could breathe. It was a matter of slow suffocation. That was what Jesus endured to give us the opportunity to have eternal life again. Nevertheless, it was and is still our choice. I just can’t imagine how anyone could choose not to receive that totally free gift of God. I know I will not refuse that gift.
After being in the grave for three days, Jesus arose from the dead triumphant with the victory, and the keys to the kingdom, which He gave back to us. We can have it all…because He lives. He is risen!! He is alive!! And because Jesus lives, I can face tomorrow, no matter how ugly this world looks today. Victory is mine!! Heaven belongs to me!! I am free, because Jesus paid the price for me…and for you too…should you choose to receive. Praise God…Jesus is risen!! Happy Resurrection Day everyone!!
People are free to call it whatever they want to, but I prefer to follow the Biblical version, in which Joseph was warned in a dream, to move his son, Jesus to Egypt, because the Pharaoh was looking for Him so he could kill Him. Joseph heeded the warning. and the family moved immediately…like in the middle of the night, while those who were a danger to him were sleeping. Thankfully Joseph heeded that dream. Just imagine our world if he had not.
There have been other people who have had dream warnings, or prophetic dreams, whether a warning or a great blessing that was coming their way. I believe that our dreams can be a matter of God talking to us. President Abraham Lincoln was one of those people who had a prophetic dream, and it has been well documented through the years, for those of us who have chosen to listen. President Lincoln had his dream on April 4, 1865, and the dream was so troubling that he actually told it to a number of people including his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln and his former law partner, Ward Hill Lamon on April 11, 1865.
According to Lamon’s recollection, President Abraham Lincoln dreams on this night in 1865 “of ‘the subdued sobs of mourners’ and a corpse lying on a catafalque in the White House East Room.” In the dream, Lincoln asked a soldier standing guard “Who is dead in the White House?” to which the soldier replied, “the President. He was killed by an assassin.” Lincoln woke up at that point. On April 11, he told Lamon that the dream had “strangely annoyed” him ever since. Ten days after having the dream, Lincoln was shot dead by an assassin while attending the theater. Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth while attending a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC on April 14, 1865. His assassination was the only successful leg in a conspiracy that also intended on capturing or killing Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward.
Interestingly, Lincoln supposedly later insisted to Lamon that the body on display was not his own…so he, himself did not view the dream as a warning of his own death. Some historians have discounted Lamon’s account, which was first published in the 1880s, nearly 20 years after the assassination. Nevertheless, Lamon claimed to have reconstructed the incident based on notes he made in 1865. I suppose the historians believe that since neither he nor Mary Lincoln mentioned the dream right after the president’s murder, it must not have been true. I believe that it was true, and that they were in such shock, that it never occurred to them to bring it up. Still, it is well known that Lincoln was a dreamer and was apparently quite interested in the meaning of dreams and what they have to say about future events both positive and negative. Proof of his curiosity lies in an 1863 letter to his wife, who at the time was in Philadelphia with their 10-year-old son, Tad. Lincoln writes that Mary had better “put Tad’s pistol away” as he “had an ugly dream about him.” Moreover, members of Lincoln’s cabinet recalled that, on the morning of his assassination, the president told them he’d dreamed of sailing across an unknown body of water at great speed. He also apparently revealed that he’d had the same dream repeatedly on previous occasions, before “nearly every great and important event of the War.”
The Secret Service was formed as a result of that assassination, but just imagine if they had all heeded the dream warning and placed a better guard around President Lincoln. If those he told of the dream, had considered the possibility of missing the play, or posted guards around the president, how different could have been the outcome. The world will never know, because one of our greatest presidents was gone before he could finish his second term in office. Lincoln was a very popular president. In his run against Democrat, George B McClellan, Lincoln carried all but three states (Kentucky, New Jersey, and Delaware), and won 55 percent of the vote. He won 212 electoral votes to McClellan’s 21, which goes to show that most of the people approved of his anti-slavery policies, as opposed to the Democrats, who wanted to keep slavery, and who fought against the slaves and minority races…and still do, even to this day.
Depending on who you talk to, you will hear a variety of thoughts on Christmas, from it being a pagan holiday to it being a Christian holiday, to Jesus being born in the spring…which is interesting to me, because my nephew, Barry Schulenberg celebrated his December 11th birthday on June 11 for a long time so that it wasn’t so close to Christmas…thereby spreading his gift receiving out over the year. Noe a bad idea. Really, my point is that the time of year really doesn’t matter. It is the fact that you are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior. I don’t think He cares, one way or the other, if we have the date wrong. Birthdays are often celebrated on a day other than the actual day…and Christmas has also been celebrated on a day other than the 25th of December, due to work schedules, illness, and distance.
The point is that Christmas…on whatever day it is celebrated…is the celebrate Jesus’ birth. Our Savior, the Son of God, the Word of the Trinity, took on flesh to become a human and gave up Heaven to come to Earth to die for us, that we might live in Heaven with Him and that we can become the Righteousness of God, even here on Earth. That is the reason we celebrate Jesus, and the reason we always will. People can call Christmas whatever they want to, but those of us who serve the Lord will always know exactly why Christmas is important. They can never take that away from us.
Jesus was the greatest gift God ever gave to the world, and that is why we give gifts to this day It is to remember the greatest gift ever given, because of a love that is beyond anything we can possibly imagine. If you want to really understand the love of your Heavenly, remember how much your parents love you, and then multiply it by infinity. That is the love of God. The Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life.” God is Love, and He gave His Son for us. Praise God, Happy birthday Jesus, and Merry Christmas to all of you.
Today would have been my grandniece, Hallie Joy Moore’s first earthly birthday, had she not moved to Heaven shortly after her birth last year. I have been thinking about how different her life, and that of her family, has been because she is not here with us. For Hallie, I’m sure that her life now is more exciting than we could have ever imagined. We can only imagine what it would be like to live with Jesus in Heaven, but she is living that wonderful life right now. While she would just be learning to walk here, she would have mastered that skill immediately following her move to Heaven last year. There is no sadness there, so she has been very happy, and looking forward to having her family join her there one day, so she can show that all of the amazing things there are to do there. Her excitement about their future move to Heaven must be off the charts, because that’s just how kids are…always excited…about everything.
Hallie was a beautiful little girl. I think she looked a lot like her mommy, Lindsay Moore, with some of her daddy, Shannon Moore sprinkled in, and maybe some of her big sister, Mackenzie Moore in there too. It was a beautiful combination, for sure. She was born about two months before she was supposed to arrive, and I suppose that was just too early. While it made us all very sad to have her leave us, we also know exactly where she went, and that part makes us very happy…for her anyway. Hallie’s name was chosen for her with much love and happiness in mind. Her name Hallie means “Praise the Lord” and Joy, of course, means “happiness.” Both were perfectly chosen for her by her loving parents, and I think they are beautiful names. I can’t wait to meet little Hallie when I go home to Heaven. Today would have been Hallie’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Hallie. We love and miss you very much.
For a while now, in my Bible study, I have been studying about Jesus as the good shepherd. While that may not really remind most people in our family of my husband’s grandpa, Robert Knox, it does remind me of him. Jesus’ stories about how a good shepherd would do what it takes to keep his flock of sheep safe, are really true of any “good” shepherd. The whole job of a shepherd is to fight off the coyote, mountain lion, bear, or any other predator that might harm or even kill the sheep. In Biblical times, and maybe even to this day, the shepherd is often the only one with the sheep, because as we all know, sheep are a fairly docile animal. Predators…however, are definitely not docile. They are ravenously hungry, and you, the shepherd, are the only thing that lies between them and their next meal. That puts you, the shepherd…in the way.
At this point, you might be wondering how that applies to Grandpa Knox, but it does. Grandpa was a shepherd for a time in his working days, and he had an even bigger reason to keep predators away from his flock. While many shepherds were along with their flock, Grandpa was not. He had his wife, Nettie and their three-year-old daughter, Joann Knox (Schulenberg) with him, and it was his most important job to keep them safe. I can’t say that he ever wrestled a coyote, mountain lion, or bear, but it’s possible that he had to kill a few with a gun.
Grandpa Knox did not really seem the type to be a mighty hunter or killer of predators, but I suppose he would have had to become that in the event of a situation. The Grandpa Knox I met when I joined this family was more the gardener type. Grandpa spent much of his summer hours tending the garden on my in-laws place that provided our family with lots of great vegetables. I thought that the biggest predator Grandpa handled was a stray cow or maybe a hungry bunny rabbit. I suppose he did handle those too, but once upon a time, he protected the sheep in his flock, just like the stories Jesus told us about the shepherd and the predator. Today is the 113th anniversary of Grandpa Knox’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa Knox!! We love and miss you very much!!
When we look at the different nationalities and cultural groups, one thing that seems always to stay the same…difference. These groups always have their own ideas about milestones that should be celebrated. Where many people might celebrate things like the baby’s first tooth, rolling over, smile, word, crawling, steps, and such, the Navaho Indian tribes in the Southwestern United States, who call themselves Diné, have a very different idea of what should be celebrated. This tribe have picked up on the most fun part of life, as the reason for celebration…that first laugh.
We all know how great it is to hear a baby laugh for the first time. It’s great fun, and if you happened to be the one to coax that first laugh out of the baby, it’s even more fun. The Navajo believe that a baby’s first laugh demonstrates their readiness and willingness to fully join their families in life and love. The Navajo people believe that the person who makes the child laugh is also very special. That person is given a great gift…they get to plan the party. It is that tradition, and it stipulates that the person who provoked the baby’s laugh hosts a ceremony and dinner to mark the occasion. The party is called a First Laugh Ceremony (A’wee Chi’deedloh). According to Navajo national Jaclyn Roessel, “This whole ceremony is really meant to show the baby how we’re supposed to be as Diné, as very generous people.”
When I first learned about the tradition, I thought…naïvely so, that it could almost be viewed as a “punishment” for being the one that made the child laugh…depending on the financial status of the person or the size of the family that would be invited. Of course, that is silly. The Navajo people consider it an honor to be that one that brought the laughter. They become very special. I suppose it could almost be like becoming the child’s godparent. In the Navajo tradition, it goes deeper than that. The Navajo believe that newborn babies first live in the world of the Diyin Dine’e, the Holy People. Tradition has it that they stay in this temporary place before they can join their earthly families. As the tradition continues, the Diyin Dine’e are the first people, subjects of the most important myths and stories in Navajo culture. When a baby is first born, the Navajo believe the child lives among the Holy People, until the first time the baby laughs. The act of laughing is a sign the child is transitioning from the spirit world with the Diyin Dine’e and is ready to fully join his or her family in life. This might seem far-fetched, but many people believe that babies and children have the unique ability to see Jesus and the angels. In fact, in Christian belief, many people believe that these children, when they are seen specking to an “imaginary” friend, are actually speaking to Jesus or to their angels. The two beliefs are not really that different. I believe that the “holy people” are, in fact, Jesus and his angels.
Because of the significance that a baby’s first laugh holds in Navajo tradition, family members watch, wait, and listen intently to hear that first utterance of a giggle. Parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, and just about anyone who is close to the family will try their best to get that first laugh, from silly faces to tickles, and everything in between. I guess they have already planned fo any cost and are already planning the whole thing in their heads. Then, when that special time arrives, when that precious first laugh comes, it’s time to celebrate the journey to their earthly family and welcome this new life into the community with a Navajo First Laugh Ceremony!!
As Easter (Resurrection Day) arrives, I find myself thinking first of Good Friday. As a Christian, I have always felt quite saddened about the need for our savior to die on the cross, and yet, we were a lost and defeated world. We had no hope of salvation, or freedom of religion…whether we knew that or not. Prior to Jesus coming, the world’s religious views were very mixed up, with the worship of Pagan god’s and other beliefs that would get us a one-way ticket to Hell. Jesus came to show us the one true way to Heaven. The Bible says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus was our way out of the horrible mess we had gotten ourselves in. Though guilty of no sin, Jesus became sin for us that we might be saved. And…it is a free gift to us!!
I always thought of the horrible crime that was committed upon Jesus on Good Friday, and wondered how that awful day could be call “good,” but that is what God calls it…Good Friday. It was the day that everything was made right again, and it was a reason to celebrate. Jesus came to Earth, was scourged, bled, and died…for us. It was Jesus finished work on the cross that gives us victory over every situation in our lives. God knew we could never fix our present situation on our own. We needed a savior to change things for us, and Jesus came to be that savior.
As we celebrate this Easter season, better described as Resurrection Day, we all need to be mindful of the sacrifice our Lord and Savior made so that we can live a successful life full of day of Heaven on Earth, and when our days are done, we know that we can have the promise of eternal life in Heaven after we pass from this life, and it’s all because we have placed our trust in Jesus…the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is Risen!!! May you all have a wonderful Resurrection Day…and God bless you all.