10 Things that Impact Me about Easter

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

There are a lot more than 10 things that impact me about the Easter story, but here are ten of them.

10. I’m amazed at how quickly the people turned against their Messiah. In Luke 19:36-38, they were shouting Hosannas and waving palms. In Luke 23:18-25, they were shouting crucify Him. But it also amazes me how I so quickly turn away at times.

9. I’m amazed that the disciples are arguing about who is the greatest, and the greatest one of all, the Son of God, washes their feet. I’m also amazed at how much I try to promote myself when One greater than me lives inside of me. John 13:1-20

8. I’m amazed that Jesus knew Judas would betray him, yet He still washed his feet and shared a meal with him. Jesus also died on the cross for me knowing how many times I would betray Him. John 21:21-30

7. I’m amazed that Jesus weeps over Jerusalem when He knows they will murder Him and reject Him as their Messiah. How many times do we weep over the lost? Luke 19:41-44

6. I’m amazed at how one moment Peter is willing to die for Jesus, but the next, he’s denying Him. The saddest part of this story is Luke 22: 61 “The Lord turned and looked at Peter.” Imagine being Peter and knowing the Lord saw you deny Him, that He was standing right there. He sees when we deny Him too. He’s standing right there. Luke 22:54-62

5. I’m amazed that the soldiers could bring themselves to arrest Jesus after He declared Himself I AM, and they fell down under His power. Then after Peter cuts off Malchus’ ear, Jesus heals it. How did they bring themselves to do it? John 18:1-11

4. I’m amazed that Jesus carried His own cross after being beaten to a pulp and that He was willing to do that for me. How can I refuse to carry my cross after knowing that? John 19:1-17

3. I’m amazed by what Jesus suffered to reconcile me to God. John 19:16-24. My only reasonable response to that is to surrender everything to Him. Romans 12: 1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

2. I’m amazed at how gently Jesus dealt with Peter’s denial. First He tell Mary at the tomb to go tell the disciples and Peter He’s alive. I believe He singles Peter out because Peter no longer feels like he’s worthy to be called Jesus’ disciple. Then Jesus cooks fish with Peter, deals with His sin with probing questions, and reinstates him. I’m also amazed at how gently and thoroughly Jesus deals with my sin. Mark 16:7, John 21:15-22

1. I’m amazed at Jesus’ Resurrection power. He took death captive when He rose from the grave and proved He is I AM. Matthew 28

I am amazed by one more thing. I’m amazed at how much He loves me.

The Irish Tidbits

by Carole Brownireland-castle-free

I love Ireland. Beautiful country, interesting history, and remarkable people. I thought it would be fun to list a few blessings and thoughts from the Irish. Enjoy!

May the strength of three be in your journey.

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A toast to your coffin. May it be made of a hundred-year-old oak, and may we plant the tree together, tomorrow. 

May the most you wish for be the least you get. 

May you have walls for the wind, and a roof for the rain, and drinks beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, and those you love near you, and all that ireland-sheep-freeyour heart may desire. 

May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.

May your hand always be stretched out in friendship and not in want. 

And one more…

For the test of the heart is trouble, and it always comes with years. And the smile that is worth the praises of earth, is the smile that shines through the tears. 

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The History of Saint Patrick

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, is a day everyone loves to celebrate by wearing green and having parades, but most don’t know the spiritual significance of the man named Patrick. It is a story of adventure and mystery.

Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland in the year, 387. His parents were Romans living in Britain and named him Maewyn Succat. At the age of fourteen, Patrick was captured by a raiding party and taken to Ireland to herd sheep. Ireland, at that time, was populated by pagans and druids. Patrick, during his captivity, learned the language and culture of Ireland. He also used his captivity to grow closer to God.

Six years later, at the age of twenty, Patrick had a dream from God to leave Ireland. In the dream, he was told to escape to the coast. When he arrived at the coast, a ship from Britain was waiting for him. He returned home to his family.

Later Patrick studied for the priesthood, became a bishop. He had a vision of the people of Ireland begging him to return and tell them about Jesus. Patrick became a missionary to Ireland and preached the Gospel throughout the land. He lived there for the rest of his life, and many were converted. He died on March 17th, 461.

There are many legends surrounding Patrick. Because there are very few snakes in Ireland, one legend says Patrick banished the snakes. This legend has a grain of truth in it if you consider the snakes paganism that plagued Ireland. By the time Patrick died, Ireland was on its way to becoming a Christian nation. Another legend says an Ash tree would grow wherever Patrick poked his stick into the ground.

The reason the shamrock is used to represent St. Patrick is because he used the shamrock to illustrate the trinity. Since the shamrock is green, that color is also used to represent Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day.

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!

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.

Guest Author Gail Kittleson Talks About the Season of Advent

gailI’d like to welcome guest author Gail Kittleson. An Iowa author, Gail writes World War II Women’s Fiction, with heroines who face tough odds, make-do and ask honest questions. She and her husband enjoy the Arizona mountains in winter. Gail delights in word play and quotes, and facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats.

http://www.gailkittleson.com

The Season of Advent

by Gail Kittleson

O come, oh come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel…

The Season of Advent is upon us. While these forty days once meant waiting for Epiphany, when the Magi visited the Christ child, God Incarnate, with a focus on the His Second Coming, the Roman Christians began to associate this season with the birth of Jesus.

Advent means the arrival of someone or something. These early December days have turned gloomy in Iowa—the sun has gone AWOL, and a daylight savings time five p.m. seems like ten o’clock. It’s good to switch on the lights our granddaughter arranged atop our piano on days like this.

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This energetic eleven-year old transformed our abode into a haven of lights and words last weekend.

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They help me recall the hopeful meaning of Advent. Today, what will come to us? Will we connect with someone whose kindred spirit encourages us? Will an unexpected gift arrive through something we hear or read? Or perhaps we’ll plot the perfect scene to show our characters’ resolve?

Whatever happens, an attitude of expectancy can make all the difference. This year has brought me new readers—even a few that qualify as fans. What a blessing their kind words have proven on my writing journey—thank you Irene and Jean and Ann and Lisa.

It’s hard to put into words my delight that Addie’s story, In Times Like These, has touched readers’ hearts and lives. One even says she’s earmarked passages that help her in her personal challenges right now. It doesn’t get better than that!

2016 has also provided great editing for the sequel, With Each New Dawn —thank you, Amberlyn and Ann. I look forward to this new release in February, and to new WWII stories to meld into a third novel with Kate, Addie’s best friend, as the heroine.

What lies ahead in the new year? Not knowing creates expectation. We keep expecting, one day at a time, and our lives unfold. The lights around us brighten our spirits in the shadows, and good memories shore up our anticipation of even better experiences ahead.

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Every day, I seek words and light. Note how our granddaughter brightened my reading nook.

The other day my morning devotions contained this: “All the best to you from THE GOD WHO IS, THE GOD WHO WAS, AND THE GOD ABOUT TO ARRIVE…” Revelation 1: 4 MSG. The God about the arrive … what a great approach to every single day.

How will the divine manifest in our lives during the next twenty-four hours, our present, allotted time on this earth? As writers, we can count on words coming to us, and light.

gail-bookIn Times Like These

Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war.

But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father’s stoke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God’s punishment.

When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits.

Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future?

Top 10 Christmas Movies of All Time

Christmas movies and holiday classic cinema and TV flicks with a red clapperboard and a Santa Clause hat white fur trim as an entertainment symbol of the winter film industry cinematic releases on a white background.

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

These are 10 classic must watch every year Christmas movies. Since everyone has their favorite version of A Christmas Carol, I didn’t include those movies. To see my favorite 10 renditions of A Christmas Carol, check next Wednesday’s blog.

10. Remember the Night

Released 1940

Directed by Mitchell Leisen

Starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwick

A prosecuting attorney asks for a pretty thief to be let out on bail for Christmas. When the thief is placed in his custody, interesting things occur.

9. The Homecoming: A Christmas Story

Released 1971

Directed by Fielder Cook

Starring Patricia Neil and Richard Thomas

This movie became the pilot of the TV series, The Waltons, and tells of a family during the depression.

8. Santa Claus, The Movie

Released 1985

Director: Jeannot Szwork

Starring David Huddleston and Dudley Moore

The best film that tells the story of Santa Claus.

7. 3 Godfathers

Released 1948

Director: John Ford

Starring John Wayne

A Christmas western where three outlaws must get a baby safely to the cow town of Bethlehem while running from a posse. This is my personal favorite John Wayne movie.

6. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Released 1992

Director: Chris Columbus

Starring Macauley Culkin

Best of many movies about a boy accidentally left home alone at Christmas time. Our president-elect and the twin towers make appearances in this movie.

5. White Christmas

Released 1954

Director: Micheal Curtiz

Starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye

Best Christmas musical ever made with great singing and dancing features the song, “White Christmas”.

4. A Charlie Brown Christmas

Released 1965

Created by Charles M. Shultz

Animated

This animated classic helps Charlie Brown learn the true meaning of Christmas. The best part is where Linus tells the Christmas story word for word from the Bible and ends with “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

3. Miracle on 34th Street

Released 1947

Directed by George Seaton

Starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gween, and a very young Natalie Wood

This is the best movie made about believing in Santa Clause. It also featured the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

2. A Holiday Affair

Released 1949

Directed by Don Hartman

Starring Janet Leigh and Robert Mitchum

This is the best Christmas love story ever filmed. It’s sad more people don’t know about it.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life

Released 1946

Directed by Frank Capra

Starring James Stewart and Donna Reed

This touching story of an ordinary man who sacrifices his own ambitions for others is my all time favorite Christmas movie.

Christmas Carol Adaptations are not included on this list. Check back next Wednesday for them.

Honorable Mentions: Elf, A Christmas Story