A Season to Praise God

by Carole Brown

During this holiday season, when so much of our attention is on the commercialism of the day, let us direct our attention to the real reason we celebrate this time of the year. Let us follow our Lord’s example in word, action and deed by praising our God. Here are a few thoughts, and I’m sure you can add to this list. 

 

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  • With our voices. Sing aloud to our God. Show him we love him by letting the adoration we feel pour from the very depths of our souls. Shout aloud our praises.

 

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  • With our actions.Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” By doing so with a heart full of love for God, we show him our sincerity and love for him. Labor for the church. Witness. Be kind. Turn the other cheek. Pray without ceasing. Do good to those who hurt us. Hard? Yes, but not for God, and if he does indeed live inside us, then we are strong through him. Amen.

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  • For victory! Praise him this year, this season for what he has brought us through in 2016. Praise him that we have yet another opportunity to enjoy this month, to share with others the blessings he’s given us, the lessons we’ve learned, the battles we’ve fought and won, and to rejoice in all that. “Yea, we are more than conquerors!”

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  • For Christianity. Praise God for sending his only begotten Son to earth to be a Savior for mankind. Who else could love humans but a Supreme Being so fully, so deeply, so extensively but the God of heaven?  “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten so, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

 

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  • For a future. Bleak days may be before us, but we have an assurance. We have a hope, an eternal home awaiting for us. We have a captain who is strong and wise and experienced and knowledgeable. What awaits for us in 2017, and even further down the years, whether good or bad, sad or happy, we know without a doubt that God is able and will provide the strength we need to see us through. As the old song goes, “We’re just passing through.” and scripture says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you…

Many wonderful seasons of praise wished for you today. Merry Christmas!

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A Season for Fun

by Carole Brown

There are numerous reasons for holidays, but one of the reasons is for fun! Enjoy life, appreciate what you have or that things could be worse, and praise God. Here are a few ideas for a season of fun:

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  • Cut your own tree or decorate it. Make it an adventure. Whether you do this by yourself or have children, have fun decorating. I always believe in decorating the tree for children, but whether you choose the more elegant look of white lights, shimmering big bulbs and lots of ribbon or go with a more traditional look of old, cherished ornaments and/or handmade ornaments, enjoy this activity.

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  • Take time for relaxing moments or quiet reading sessions, hot chocolate or tea (or coffee) a delicious dessert in front of fireplace (if you have the privilege of one). Sit down and challenge your family to a favorite game. Relate fond memories with your children and other family members. 

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  • Take a mini vacation. Go see the light displays on neighborhood houses or light shows in parks, city businesses, and small towns. Go to the zoo and wander around. Many of them have light shows to enjoy while seeing the animals. Take walks in the park. Go ice skating, sled riding or horse drawn sleigh riding covered with a thick blanket and snow flakes on your nose. Walk in the woods. Go to a mall and check out the decorations they have in the main center. Go to neighborhood concerts and Christmas pageants.

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  • Go shopping together. Hold on, and I’ll explain what I mean. If you have mini-items to purchase, or your children have their own money to spend, and you shop at the discount stores, then help them make lists, go with them and encourage/advise them on their choices. Relax, and don’t stress out! Sometimes their thoughts are far different (and above) an adults. Help them make the right choices but don’t allow this time to turn into a battle. Children learn by mistakes. Their smiles and pride at gifts purchased is well worth another bottle of “unloved” cologne they might have chosen. 🙂

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  • Worship together. If children are old enough to behave, then allow them to attend with you. Show them your enthusiasm for the older favorite Christmas hymns; allow them to sing and praise God (encourage and guide them gently) with the congregation. Attend other church functions such as Christmas programs and plays, and suppers. Let them help with dinners for the more unfortunate. Consider sponsorships to worthy causes to help the less fortunate. Re-read the old, old story of Jesus’ birth together and help them understand the real reason we celebrate this time of the year.  

 

I’ve mentioned several items that can be done with your children or grandchildren, but I also understand that many do not have this blessing. Consider adopting (in actions) a child and sharing what you can with them–moneywise or timewise.  Many schools have grandparenting programs. I’ve seen the results when the children love that little bit of extra attention. Teach Sunday School classes. Offer to help teachers host parties. Volunteer at various groups. 

 

Most of all, enjoy the season. Don’t let anything rob you of the peace, love and joy. 

Merry Christmas!

Featured Novel Michel the Fourth Wise Man

katheryn-yellowKatheryn Maddox Haddad is our featured author today. Katheryn was born in the north, but moved to Arizona where she doesn’t have to shovel sunshine.  With a BA degree in English and Bible, she earned part of an MA in Bible, including Greek studies.  Every morning she sends out an inspirational thought to some 30,000 worldwide.

You can find Katheryn at her website or on Facebook.

haddad-coverMichel the Fourth Wise Man

Michel follows the footsteps of his Jewish ancestor, Daniel, and is a magus to King Phraattes of the Parthian Empire. He decides to buy the Garden of Eden where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet. It is now completely under water where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet, and the home of marsh people. He becomes the laughing stock of his friends.

He sacrifices everything to get it—his warrior father, his wife, and his estate. His dream is to replant the Garden of Eden and draw pagans on pilgrimage to it so they will learn about the one true God. Then perhaps God will walk the earth with them in the Garden as he had with Adam and Eve.

He is interrupted by a star that appears for awhile, then disappears. The other magi believe it is a sign a god was born. King Phraattes demands to know the meaning of the star, fearing it is an omen his kingdom will be taken from him.

Michel and his friends travel the world delving into the holy writings of world religions, trying to find the meaning of the star. How Michel hates this interruption.

After a year of searching, they give in to Michel’s appeals, and find their answer in the Jewish scriptures. They go to Bethlehem where Michel realizes God has already come and is walking on earth through the boy, Jesus. He goes into a meltdown. He has lost everything to buy Eden. What can he do now?

Moravian Christmas Traditions

img_1022By Tamera Lynn Kraft

In my novella, A Christmas Promise, I write about Moravian missionaries in Schoenbrunn Village, circa 1773. The Moravians brought many Christmas traditions to America that we use to celebrate Christ’s birth today. Here are a few of them.

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The Christmas Tree: Moravians brought the idea of decorating Christmas trees in their homes in the early 1700s, long before it became a popular tradition in the United States.

 

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Christmas Eve Candlelight Services: Most churches have Christmas Eve services where they sing Christmas carols and light candles to show Jesus came to be the light of the world. The Moravian Church has been doing that for centuries. They call their services lovefeasts because they also have a part of the service where they serve sweetbuns and coffee – juice for the kids – and share Christ’s love with each other. For candles, Moravians use bleached beeswax with a red ribbon tied around them. The white symbolizes the purity of Christ and red symbolizes that His blood was shed for us.

The Moravian Star: In the 1840s at a Moravian school, students made 24 point stars out of triangles for their geometry lessons. Soon those Moravian stars started making their way on the tops of Christmas trees. The star as a Christmas tree topper is still popular today.

The Putz: The putz is a Christmas nativity scene surrounded by villages or other Biblical scenes. Moravian children in the 1700s would make a putz to put under their Christmas tree. Today, nativity scenes and Christmas villages are popular decorations.

achristmaspromise_medA Christmas Promise

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

“Revel in the spirit of a Colonial Christmas with this achingly tender love story that will warm both your heart and your faith. With rich historical detail and characters who live and breathe on the page, Tamera Lynn Kraft has penned a haunting tale of Moravian missionaries who selflessly bring the promise of Christ to the Lenape Indians. A beautiful way to set your season aglow, A Christmas Promise is truly a promise kept for a heartwarming holiday tale.” – Julie Lessman

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A Season to Remember

by Carole Brown

It’s such a pleasure and privilege to remember the past–the good times that encourage us we can move one, keep on, be better, endure again, and make it. Here’s a few thoughts that might give you a smile and urge you to remember your past Christmas good times.

 

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  • The children’s faces. Their smiles, eyes and expressions of wonder.

 

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  • The trees–the good and ugly–the Charlie Brown ones and the big city, breath-taking, eye-popping gorgeous ones.

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  • The meals–simple soups, luscious deserts and finger foods. The lavishly delicious dinners with people being proper and elegant.

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  • The quiet times of devotion, cuddling our children and babies, reading and exchanging of thoughts and ideas.

May you have a special memory to enjoy or share with family and friends.

A Moravian Christmas in 1773

achristmaspromise_medA Christmas Promise

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

“Revel in the spirit of a Colonial Christmas with this achingly tender love story that will warm both your heart and your faith. With rich historical detail and characters who live and breathe on the page, Tamera Lynn Kraft has penned a haunting tale of Moravian missionaries who selflessly bring the promise of Christ to the Lenape Indians. A beautiful way to set your season aglow, A Christmas Promise is truly a promise kept for a heartwarming holiday tale.” – Julie Lessman

A Moravian Christmas in 1773

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

img_1022In the wilderness of Ohio in 1773, a small band of missionaries and Lenape Indians celebrated Christmas at Schoenbrunn Village, the first settlement in Ohio. They’d come to this wilderness and started the village a year earlier to preach the Gospel to the Lenape, also known as the Deleware.

The missionaries, both white and native families moved from a town in Pennsylvania called Bethlehem. Moravians had come to Bethlehem years earlier when a preacher named John Wesley had donated the land to them. But the Lenape had been forced west as more white men had moved into the area, so the Moravians decided to move west with them.

Life was hard in Schoenbrunn. Cabins were quickly made and community gardens were planted that included beans, corn, and squash. Most villages also planted potatoes and turnips next to their cabins. The rest of their food came from hunting. But the real danger came from the many Indian tribes surrounding the village, some of them hostile.

img_1023They didn’t have time to build a fence to keep out varments and the first Ohio church until Spring, 1773, but they did manage to build a school, the first built in Ohio. The school taught both boys and girls, a first for the colonies, how to read the Scripture in their native language and in English. The Moravians printed a Bible in the Lenape language.

The village council was led by David Zeisberger and including white Moravians and Lenape converts. The rules for the village were established by the Lenape Christians. These missionaries did not consider the native converts to be beneath them but instead brothers in Christ.

vector-christmas-candle_f1gwjyl__lAfter a year and a half in Schoenbrunn, the villagers were excited to celebrate their first Christmas. They had many traditions that we still use today. They would have a candlelight Christmas Eve service called a Lovefeast. During this service, they sang Christmas hymns, shared sweet rolls and coffee together, and prayed for each other. The service concluded when they gave each child a bleached beeswax candle and a scripture to hang on their trees at home. The white candle symbolized the purity of Christ and the flame showed that Jesus is the light of the world. A red ribbon would be wrapped around the candle to symbolize how Jesus shed His blood for a lost world.

schoenbrunn-cabinIn every home in Schoenbrunn, families decorated artificial Christmas trees with candles and papers with scriptures written on them. The trees were made by putting together a wood frame and decorating it with real pine branches. The family would also make a putz, a nativity village that included the nativity scene, the wise men, and other Biblical scenes and place it under the tree. Most Moravians gave small gifts at Christmas, but resources were so limited that the children in Schoenbrunn were happy with their candles they received at the church. After a Christmas feast, the family would read the verses hung on the tree and talk about God’s blessings at Christmas.

Schoenbrunn Village has been restored and is open to tourists. Find out more at this link (http://www.ohiosfirstvillage.com) .

 

My Favorite Things…

by Carole Brown 

Ah…tis the season! A beautiful, exciting, and wondrous time of the year. So to start off the season, I thought I’d list a few things that inspire me and make me happy. I’d LOVE it if you all would share some of your very favorite things too in the comment section. 

Here goes!

  • brown paper bags with simple, even homemade pictures on the front! L-o-v-e!
  • handmade nativity scenes–well, actually, beautiful nativity sets period! Lol

 

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  • Christmas trees, live, artificial, colored and plain, and the “chore” of cutting a live one.
  • cards that speak to the heart. That includes handmade ones.
  • New snow.
  • People who dress up for the festivities
  • church programs, especially the children who lisp and stumble and forget. I’m sure God smiles with indulgent love!

 

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  • forgiveness and peace
  • Christmas music. Swoon! (I did an MRI last week and it was the easiest yet–I requested Christmas music. I wonder what the techs would say if I ask for it in summer?)

 

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  • Crackling fireplaces
  • Tastefully decorated homes
  • Lovely set tables

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  • fragrant pine cones
  • Picking the “just right” present for a favorite person
  • Taking pictures
  • candlelit Christmas services with hearts lifted in praise to God!

 

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  • Saint Luke chapter two!

There you have it. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but these were at the top of my list. NOW, let me read yours!

Merry Christmas!