CHOSEN

Just a short little post today…..something that caught my attention.

For Christmas, two of my dearest friends gave me a necklace that was handmade by an artist one of them knows.  They had been to her studio and picked out a piece, so they got me one, too.  (Oh, I like it when friends think like that!)

So here’s a picture of the necklace…

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Then, today, while I was scrolling through my Pinterest feed, I came upon this verse.

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Wow!  Isn’t it amazing to think that Almighty God cares enough about little ole me to choose me..to want me in my sinful nature…to appoint me to do His work on Earth…and to set me right smack down here in Dothan, AL.

Well, I don’t know about you, but that just makes me feel all kinds of special!  The God of the Universe, the Creator of Life, The Mighty Savior, The Great Protector…He…yes He did all this for ME!

Oh, I’m so undeserving and so unworthy…but you know what makes me feel better?  He doesn’t think that about me!  He cherishes and adores me!  And, I thank Him with all my being!

And I’ll tell you a little truth…..He did the very same thing for YOU!

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January 20, 2017

Because this is posted on my personal blog, I can voice my opinion on whatever topic I choose.  Isn’ it amazing that we as Americans have such freedom?  Not only  personal blogs,of course…but Facebook and Twitter and so many other opportunities.

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Now this post won’t matter a dime to anybody but me…but I get so burned up about it…I need to say my piece.  Do you ever feel like you just have to speak the words inside you that are begging  to get out?.  Matters not if anyone agrees or even hears…they just need to be verbalized.  So many times in this world all people want is validation.  Just to know their voice is heard.  It may not change anything, or even be thought wise or worthy, but it has been spoken aloud.  We all have a point of view.  We all should be heard.  (Blogs are perfect for that…you can write it and put it out there.  It may get read or it may not…But, you’ve said and its there forever!)

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I think all these folks that are saying they won’t sing for the inauguration, won’t play their music, won’t pray, won’t speak are silly and childish.  OK, so you don’t like DT.  Well, I didn’t like BO.  But, if I had been given the chance to attend his inauguration, I would have surely gone!  What a majestic presentation to be a part of.  What history is taking place each time we change leaders.  BO had his chance to change the world.  You get to decide if he did or not.  However, as far as him achieving the honor of POTUS, I respect that.  And I respect the office of President.  If I had ever had the chance to meet him, you better believe I would have gone.  I am a Christian.  I should show respect to others.  Do I admire him?  No.  Do I think he’s honest and truthful?  No.  But, he was my president in spite of all that.  And, I prayed for him for 8 years. If we call ourselves Christian, it is our honor to behave as Jesus would have.  It is our mandate to show God’s love to others.  It is our privilege to conduct ourselves so all will know what we stand for.  (And, for the record…8 years ago, none of us knew how we would view the man 8 years later.)

People are refusing to attend by dropping out of lifetime careers.  Just saw where a women quit the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, for Heaven’s sake!  And, the Rockettes.  How hard did they have to work to get there? And, they are dropping out.  Band members and directors refusing to play or lead for the parade. Treating a young 17 year old girl so unkindly because she gets it.  She sees the honor it will be to sing for the inauguration of the President of the United States of America!   And, now there’s uproar because a black university from Alabama is playing in the parade and they are getting all kinds of threats!  We just had a black president, people!  But, this director understands what an opportunity it is for his students to be a part of the historical value of this day!  Good for him and good for his students.

So DT may not have been your choice.  He wasn’t a lot of peoples’s choice.  Did we even really have much of a choice?  I certainly do no want to debate that.  I’m just not smart enough.  However, we do owe him the respect of the office.  I think he’s rude and quite bullish at times, but I sure respect what he’s done in business and with his family.  I don’t respect all he has done personally, though.  But, I don’t know if things reported are true.  Who am I to say?  Or you?  Wouldn’t you and I both hate it if people were crawling through everything we had ever done to find some thing to criticize us for?     But, a good leader is one who surrounds himself with the right kind of people as helpers and advisors.  So far, he’s done quite a nice job, I think!

Where is people’s sense of fairness?  DT will be president.  Let’s wait and see what he does.  We may think we know…but politics has surprised me many times before!  He will show us who he is.  He will show us what kind of leader he can be.  He’ll show us how much he loves America?  He’ll show us if he’s fair and honest?  He’ll show us if he truly loves and respects the differing people groups.   BC showed us.  GB showed us. BO showed us.

And those refusing to be a part of the inauguration…I think you are petty and silly.  I think you are passing up the opportunity of a lifetime!  Regardless of all the accolades and achievements DT has received up to now…he is the president elect of The United States of America…the greatest country in the world!  He should be proud!  And, he deserves to have a fantastic inauguration.

But, all these people who are against him are trying to show the rest of us what a mistake we made.  According to them.  Who are them?  Mostly those in the entertainment industry who depend of the people of the USA to go to their movies, buy their music, watch their theater, etc.  It seems to me they have forgotten something very important.  They were not elected by us.  They have their positions for whatever reason they do. We have our favorite actors and actresses…we have our favorite type of music, favorite musicians…we have our favorite talk show hosts and even newscasters.  But, those people are in my life to entertain me.  To make me cry at a movie, or laugh out loud.  They are there to sing songs that bring up sweet memories or make me feel like moving across the floor.  They give me information if I chose to turn on and hear…when I decide.  Other than that, I don’t care about their opinions or political persuasion or what they do in their own homes.  I don’t want to hear their religious views, or who they cohabit with.  I have never thought but a very actors had enough depth to them to do any real thinking.  If they did, they would be smart enough to realize DT will be our President…like it or not.  And, instead of trying to divide our country more…why not use their platform to help bind wounds, heal hurts and bring us together.

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So…when DT’s people call me and invite me to attend, I’ m gonna say yes!  Don’t know if he wants me to sing or dance or play music. But I’ll be there!  Just a seat filler ?  I’ll be there.  And, you can bet I would thank God for the opportunity and sing The Star Spangled Banner to the top of my lungs…..with the rest of the crowd, of course.  

So, I’m just gonna wait here and hope my phone rings!  I can be ready on a minutes notice!  I already have enough clothes to wear.  Yep…when it happens…you’ll be the first to know!

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OUR CHRISTMAS IN PICTURES…2016

fc66It was a grand and glorious two day celebration!  Our Adam (who is a paramedic) had to work on Christmas Day.  So we had our immediate family celebration on Christmas Eve!  Because of God’s great goodness, Alex was feeling well enough to be up with us the whole evening!  He so enjoyed time with his brothers, as they did as well!  Isn’t it wonderful how God just drops in a miracle to give us joy and happiness.  We all truly doubted Alex would be able to join us.  But, God came through.  Praise His name!

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A little African drum solo to add to the merrymaking!

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Remember the old Operation game?  It’s still fun!

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Me and my boys….

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The whole crew…look carefully…Don is in mirror!

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On Christmas Day, Don and I attended worship service at our church.  It was lovely!  We sang all the old Christmas carols, had an inspiring message, and then shared communion as we departed.  How blessed to be able to attend worship on Christmas Day!

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Back home, Ian and Don and I began to prepare dinner for the extended family.  I had put in my JENNIE-O COOK IN THE BAG TURKEY  🙂 in the oven before I left!  (By the way, it was as delicious as ever!)

Family began arriving around 4 and from there on it was a cacophony of laughter and squeals and paper tearing and singing and love…lots of love!  (Alex was here in spirit, but unable to be up today…we missed him so).

First order of business, make the little boy’s pics in their Christmas pajamas!  They were really not in the mood to pose for pictures…but we cajoled and threatened and promised and managed to get a few good ones!

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Photo bomber!!!

 

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Silly boys..climbing around like monkeys!

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Joy and her girls…

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The keeper of the trash!  Thanks, Ian!

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And to our parents, who are celebrating Christmas in heaven…we love you and honor you and miss you everyday…and especially at Christmas.

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Thank you, God, for sending your dear son, Jesus, to us on earth.  He is the reason there is love and hope and happiness in the world.  He is the one we strive to be like.  He is the one who cares for us and cherishes us and forgives us and saves us!  To Him be all glory and honor and praise!

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GOOD KING WENCESLAS

Once a teacher, always a teacher!

I have always loved the music to the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslas.  It has an odd, moody sound that carries me to a cold, dark winter’s night…snow on the ground and a full moon casting shadows all around.  It also makes me think of those Old World Santas that are so elegantly clothed with layers upon layers of clothing and a big hood covering the head.  But, here is an artist’s rendering of what King Wenceslas looked like…

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Not quite like the Santa figure, I’d imagined!

I must confess that I have learned the words to the first verse only by osmosis.  I’ve heard it a lot, but it is not one that I can ever remember singing.  Hearing it so many times in my lifetime, I guess those words just stuck.  But, since the words are very unlike today’s spoken language, I’ve just never bothered to read more of the verses or learn about the song.  It certainly is not among the more popular Christmas songs.  And you may have only heard it in a collection of Christmas music.

King Wenceslas was a Catholic and was martyred…assassinated by his brother Boleslaw and his supporters.  His Saint’s Day is September 28th, and he is the Patron Saint of the Czech Republic.

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The words to this carol were written by John Neale in 1853.  The music itself comes from Finland some 300 years earlier. King Wenceslas was the King of Bohemia in the 10th century.

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What is most unusual about this Christmas carol is the fact that there is no mention at all of the birth of Jesus or any of the Nativity story.  St. Stephen’s Day is September 26, which is why this song is sung as a carol.  The words do lead you, however, to see a miracle occurring and it reiterates the Christian values of aiding the poor and needy.  Interesting how the King went on this mission himself and didn’t just send his page to deliver the goods.

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Good King Wenceslas looked out

On the feast of Stephen,

When the snow lay round about

Deep and crisp and even.

Brightly shone the moon that night

Though the frost was cruel,

When a poor man came in sight

Gath’ring winter fuel.

 

“Hither, page, and stand by me

If thou know’st it, telling,

Yonder peasant, who is he?

Where and what his dwelling?”

“Sire, he lives a good league hence

Underneath the mountain

Right against the forest fence

By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

 

“Bring me flesh and bring me wine

Bring me pine logs hither.

Thou and I will see him dine

When we bear him thither.

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Page and monarch forth they went

Forth they went together

Through the rude wind’s wild lament

And the bitter weather.

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“Sire, the night is darker now

And the wind blows stronger

Fails my heart, I know not how,

I can go no longer.”

“Mark my footsteps, my good page,

Tread thou in them boldly.

Thou shalt find the winter’s rage

Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

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In his master’s steps he trod

Where the snow lay dinted.

Heat was in the very sod

Which the Saint had printed.

Therefore, Christian men, be sure,

Wealth or rank possessing,

Ye who now will bless the poor

Shall yourselves find blessing.

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And, that’s today’s lesson.  Merry Christmas!

SERENDIPITY

Oh! My! Isn’t it just the most glorious thing when you experience a serendipitous moment!

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I have been helping out at the preschool this week helping to get the place all spiffed up for Christmas! It really is such a joyful place to be! And, I do so love decorating with the children (and parents and teachers) in mind. So, I had almost finished and just lacked a couple of things to put the finishing touch in place. Since it was ‘Levi’ day, I decided I needed to make a run to ACS (a  certain store) before he was out of school. I also needed to pick up a gift for a Christmas Wish our Sunday School class was doing.

So off I went with my list of 4 …just 4…things. Found them all quickly and for some unknown, crazy reason…turkeys came to mind. Perhaps the adventure from Thanksgiving was on my mind, or perhaps I remembered that I usually get my favorite turkey at W M. Any way, I made my way from one side of the store to the other.

Now, I don’t know about you…but it is dangerous for me to be turned loose in ACS. I just pass by so many things that I had forgotten I needed. (I used to favor the one with the big red circle and still like it better than ACS, but that’s another story for another day. Sure do miss that store. ) Anyway, by the time I had made my way to the other side of the store, I had picked up a blanket, 2 candles, a box or two of cookies, toilet tissue, paper plates, a magazine, 2 candy bars, 2- 6 packs of Coke, 1 -6 pack of diet Dr. Pepper, 6 bottles of Fanta orange, 8 bottles of regular Dr. Pepper, a gallon of Gold Peak Tea, and a bag of white mini doughnuts and 2 containers of chicken salad and a box of Wheat Thins! Along with the 2 robes for the Christmas class, and 4 tiny trees for school…and a ‘partridge in a pair tree‘! Why there was scarcely any room for a turkey if I did find one!

I looked around and didn’t see any turkeys at all! Finally I asked a lady who was in the process of putting something out in the freezer section.  WAIT!  I held my breath and said a prayer at the same time. “Ma ‘am, by any chance would they be Jennie-O Turkeys? “, I asked. “Honey, I don’t never even look at labels…they’s just turkeys all I know.” she replied. So, I thanked her and stood back by the cheese counter and waited for her to open the box. She had to go and find a box cutter! Of, course! And, I had to pick up Levi in 45 minutes! Back she came…she opened the boxes and began heaving turkeys over her shoulder and into the freezer section. I stepped closer and ‘what to my wondering eyes should appear…but 5 Jennie-O turkeys…right there! so near!’  Then, just as fast as my heart soared…it fell to the floor. There they were…Oven Ready Jennie-O turkeys…CAJUN STYLE ! CAJUN STYLE ? Who ever heard of a Cajun Style turkey?  (Yes, I know many of you would like that!)  She turned to walk away and I asked her if that was all. She looked at me with weary eyes and said, “Nope, these 4 boxes is filled up with turkeys. But, I bout threw my back out putting those in so I think I’ll go on my break before I finish.” I decided to be bold and asked her if they were all Cajun Style. She sighed and said, “I don’t know…but if’n you want me to, I’ll check.” “I would be so appreciative, ma ‘am…if you don’t mind…”  She sighed and began opening the boxes.  First…more Cajun Style…Second…Cajun Style,  Third…Jennie-O, but not the Oven Ready.  

She opened the last box and little blue birds flew down the aisle…and the top of the store opened up to a cloudless blue sky and the sun shone brightly…I even think I may have…perhaps…possibly, heard an angelic chord or too! And, there was my Jennie-O turkey. Oven Ready. Just snip 5 holes in the top of the bag and put it in the oven and stand back and bask in the compliments! “That’s my turkey!” I said. “Well, good for you,” she said…not at all as if she really meant it. She then asked how many I wanted.  “Only one, “ I answered. “Huh, figured you want 4 or 5 way you ’s waiting around and all. These any good?” And, I started to tell her my story…but I could tell she really wouldn’t be amused…so I just said, “The best I’ve ever cooked.” “Humph, “ was all she said.

I thanked her profusely and asked if she needed any Tylenol for her back.  She had some.  I told her again how thankful I was for her.  And, then I said, “You know, I’ve searched everywhere for these turkey…for several months.  I even prayed about finding one.  I think the Lord just planted you right here in ACS today to answer my prayer!”  She smiled, “Well, to be sure, no one has ever said I was an answer to their prayer before!”  And, since the opportunity was there, I asked her if she was a Christian.  She said, “Dearie, I don’t know much about much.  I’m tired and don’t have much money and got a bad back.  I got children to feed and bills to pay.  I wonder every day about making it on to the next.  But, I’m shore of one thing…I will see Jesus one day!  He saved me and He saved my children.  And, if that’s all I ever have, then it’s fine by me!”  I said, “Wow!  what a testimony!  Not only did I find my turkey, I got an uplift to my spirit.”  I told her I would pray for her…and she said, “I wisht you would.”  Then I slipped some money into her hand and walked away.  She said, “I can’t take this.”  I said,  “It’s to buy yourself one of these turkeys…and not the Cajun Style!”   And, I quickly slipped down the next aisle.

I practically floated to the check out aisle. And, this is how I know it was a God thing that happened to me.  When I got to the checkout… I didn’t have to wait in line!!!!! I have never in the 44 years I’ve shopped at TCS, ever walked up and paid and didn’t have to wait. See they have about 25 registers, but only about 3 or 4 people working  them….strangest thing.

Anyway…come Christmas time…I’m ready. No thawing. No heat gun. No patting. No dancing with my turkey by the moonlight…she cooks from the frozen state.

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Friends, I don’t like to cook. I don’t even like to be in the kitchen. I despise grocery shopping. But, I am smart enough to know that of the things I do cook well…it’s best not to go trying to change them up. Stick with what you know. And, wait for the turkeys to finally make it to the store.  And, perhaps, if you’re lucky…the Lord will meet you there with one of his angels!

QUESTIONS

A few days ago,11-7-16,  I gathered Levi from school and we picked up some lunch for he and I and Alex. As we were sitting in the kitchen eating, The following took place…out of the blue…

Levi…Uncle Alex, have you always been sick and hurting?

Alex…No, Buddy, I always had bad headaches even when I was a little boy like you. But, I got really sick when I was about 14 years old.

Levi…Well, did you tell your Mother.

Alex… Yes, I told her.

Levi…Did she do something for you?

Alex…She took me to a doctor…then another doctor…then another doctor…and we went to lots and lots of doctors…all over the place.

Levi…You couldn’t find one to fix you?

Alex…No, we haven’t. But, they do give me medicine to help me feel better.

Levi…Why can’t they fix you, Uncle Alex?

Here’s where I stepped in.

Tonja…Levi, all kinds of people get sick…all kinds of sick…and all over the world. Sometimes there is medicine to help people get well. But, sometimes there is not any medicine. Some times medicine just helps you feel better…but not get well. And, there are times that God chooses to heal people that are sick. But, there are also times that He doesn’t heal them.

Alex…That’s right, Levi, sometimes even with medicine you still don’t get well or you could get sicker.

Levi…Why did God say Alex couldn’t get healed?

Alex…Levi, God has a plan for everyone that lives. But, we don’t always know His plan. I just know that God has a plan for me. He loves me and He doesn’t plan for me to be healed right now.

Levi…But, do you have to stay sick and hurt?

Alex…yes, I do…unless God changes his mind and heals me.

Levi…then we have to pray for you everyday. Do you pray for you everyday, Uncle Alex?

Alex…yes, Levi, I ask God every day to heal me if He thinks it is a good idea.

Levi… I love you, Uncle Alex, I want you to be well. I will ask God every day. You do to, OK?

Alex…I will, Levi. I will.

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I share this with you, my friends, to tell you of the absolute positiveness I have in my heart of hearts that God is working every hour of every day…in you and me…and in little 5 year old boys and their 34 year old uncles.

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Levi has heard about Jesus forever.  He was prayed over at conception.  He was bathed in prayer as he developed within his Mother.  He was sick and nearly died the first two weeks of His life.  But, God stepped in.  And he has learned at church and learned at school and he has learned from his parents and both sets of grandparents, and his extended family.  He has been wrapped up in the love and stories of God the whole time he has been in this world.  He has heard and learned.  And, today, this question came.  Alex and I answered him as honestly and as plainly as we could.  Telling him truth in words he could understand.

May, I step out here and make a quick observation…

There will be other questions along the way.  But, a child needs to have an atmosphere around him where he can ask any questions, about anything, at anytime.  No question is frivolous.  No question is silly.  And, I don’t think any subject is taboo.  I raised my own boys with this idea…and they took me at my word.

If a child or even an older child has questions…about anything at all…there should be adults around to answer that question then and there with no hesitation or embarrassment.  Because, they will get the information somewhere.  And, who better than you?

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This exchange today at once made my heart soar with  proudness as well as break with sadness. I felt proud  of the way Alex was so gentle and careful answering Levi’s questions.  And, I am proud of the man that Alex has grown into.  He lives the life God planned for him with kindness and gentleness and grace.  But, I am overcome with sadness at what the reality of the situation of his life is.  I break in two when I think of what Alex lives with every day…what he has endured all his life…and the prognosis of the future.  I’ll tell you straight out…I’m no saint.  I hate it!  I don’t want to shoulder it and I don’t want him to suffer.  It awful for anyone to live like this.  I can say it’s not fair…but I’m not in charge of the fairness of the world.

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But, if I believe that God is who He says He is…then I believe that He does what He says He will do. My faith is not what I am feeling in the minute.  I’m human…I’m weak.  And, above my whining and complaining….I know He knows what he is doing.  He created this beautiful blond little boy to carry out a plan in our world.  I make a conscious decision to trust in His life course for Alex…even if I don’t like.  His plan for my son has everything to do with His goodness and wisdom…it does not depend on whether Alex or Don or I agree or not.

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Perhaps his job is to be an example to all of his family.  Perhaps his job is to be near to answer honest questions from his nephew. Perhaps his job is to be an encourager to the rest of our family.  He lifts me up and is always ready to help me when I’m having a particularly bad day.  He gets out of his sanctuary to see about me.  He treats me with kindness and respect and gentleness.

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Today is his birthday.  He turns 35.  He is my middle son.  He is my hero.  He is my example.  He is my sunshine.

dscn1037_1I am beyond proud of how he shoulders his life .   I love him with my whole heart.  Happy Birthday, Alex!