Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Times They Are A-Changin'

New Year's Eve is a good time to look back and see what we've accomplished in the past year. But I'm looking back farther than that.
With the economics, technical advances, etc. there have probably been more changes in the last ten years than happened in the previous 50 years. In 2001 some people had cell-phones and computers but they were bigger, bulkier, and couldn't do nearly all our modern devices can do.
And think of all the changes that have happened in the two hundred years since 1812. We now take trains, electric lights, telephones, radios, cars, airplanes, movies, TV, washing machines, and hundreds of other things for granted that were developed during that time.
It took much longer for technology to advance beyond the invention of the wheel, bows and arrows, wind or water mills, guns, and the printing press to those inventions.
I wonder what the future will be like? Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hurry, Hurry!

The new year is about to start and there's so much to do! Oh, my goodness, how can we ever get it all done in time?
I'm already almost three hours later than usual posting this to my blog and haven't made my resolutions yet the deadline to submit an article is looming, and I still need to get ready for 2012 ... and..... and...
Okay, let's just take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Even though I saw Valentine's products when I stopped in the almost-empty store to replace my lost gloves this morning, it really isn't necessary to get everything done right away. Let's just focus on the things that really matter.
May 2012 be a year full of peace.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


I'm wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas tomorrow.
Yes, that's right. I did say everyone.
Even if you don't celebrate that holiday you have my official permission to be happy on Christmas Day, so do it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Love

Christmas is a time to celebrate love, both God's love for us and our love for each other. But what does that mean?
One of my college psychology professors taught us this definition: "When the happiness and well-being of another is essential to one's own happiness and well-being a state of love exists."
Author Gary Chapman says there are five basic ways people communicate love to one another. Those ways, which he calls Love Languages, are: speaking words of affirmation, spending quality time together, giving gifts, performing acts of service, and physical touch such as hugs, handshakes and pats on the back.
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As we gather with friends and family during the holiday season we tend to use all five love languages.
If the incarnation shows God's love for us how can we show our love for God?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hi, Ho! Come to the Fair

Last night I had fun passing out bookmarks to kids at our local holiday street fair. The weather was clear so hundreds of people came to the event.
Like nearly everyone working or helping there, I wore pseudo-old fashioned clothes, including a cape my mother made for me long ago. (Don't tell, but I still love to play dress up.)
Holiday decorations and lights abounded on buildings and stalls and people called cheerful greetings to one another. Of course seeing friends and hearing Christmas carols and music added to the pleasure of the evening.
No matter what the season, street markets and fairs always seem special to me because they have been part of human's lives for so long. Even thousands of years ago non-migratory people all over the world had events like this where crowds of people gathered, vendors offered wares for sale, and musicians and performers demonstrated their talents.
Last night as I wandered through the busy crowd, saw the lovely, often handmade items and delicious foods for sale, and heard the choirs and musicians it seemed like I was transported back in time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Books

Every Christmas Eve when I was a child my mother read the same two books to us before we went to bed.
One was a Christmas Carols illustrated by Fern Peat. The songs, which we would sing together, were interspersed with passages from the Bible telling about the Nativity. The other book was The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. I can still repeat many passages from both of them by heart.
And every Christmas morning one of the gifts waiting for me under the tree would be a book. I still have most of those from the picture books I got when I was little and later read to my own kids, through classics like Heidi and Little Women.
This year my cousin compiled and self-published a book of recipes contributed by members of the extended family, many of which bring back warm memories of holidays we spent together. She gave us a similar compilation quite a few years ago and my copy is worn by frequent use.
Are there any books associated with Christmas in your family? What memories do they bring back to you?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Winter Holidays

I hadn't lived where it snows since I was a little kid, but six years ago I moved to the Sierra foothills where we do get some snow in the winter. We've had none yet this year, but it is cold. Christmas is approaching and I've already participated in activities where friends and family sit around fireplaces and share warm food and happy memories.
Many historians think Jesus was not actually born in the winter since the emperor, Herod, would have realized people who lived in northern parts of the Roman Empire couldn't possibly travel at that time of year because of the severe weather. But many cultures have celebrations when the season of winter begins and days begin to lengthen. The Romans, who persecuted and killed Christians, were no exception. Legend says in order to avoid standing out by not partying, the Christians chose to celebrate the coming of Christ at that time.
Whatever people choose to celebrate, it's easy to see why they do it now.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another Book for Christmas

I've reviewed quite a few books that would make good Christmas gifts for kids, and here's another one.
I don't want to seem like I'm just wanting to sell my own books, but I think Secret Service Saint is a good one to help children realize the importance of giving and helping others. In a time of financial problems kids need more than ever to understand that Christmas isn't primarily about getting presents.
The book is about Nicholas who discovers the adventure of secret giving. At the end of the story kids will discover he eventually became known as Santa Claus and I hope some of them will join Nicholas in giving to help others without hoping for praise or rewards.
Secret giving really is fun, and it's a good way to experience the spirit of Christmas.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sea Turtle Summer

Two girls on a beach are amazed to watch an endangered Loggerhead sea turtle lay her eggs, although they usually only do that at night.
But a big machine is coming to clear the beach and no ranger is available. Can the children manage to protect the eggs?
Sea Turtle Summer by Nancy Stewart is part of the series about Bella and Britt, the two girls who were also the main characters in Stewart's best-selling book, One Pelican at a Time, about the Gulf Oil Spill. Like that prior book, this one not only helps readers learn to appreciate our natural world, it shows them that even kids can make a positive difference in the world by standing up for what is right.
The illustrations by Samantha Bell carry us away to the sunny beach and show us what the endangered turtles really look like.
This is another book that would make a great gift for kids.