Simple Woman's Daybook...My Favorite Week of the Year!

FOR TODAY...December 28, 2009

Outside my window... Cold and sunny, with lingering patches of our Christmas Eve snow.

I am thinking... about the ways God prepares us for each season of our lives through the lessons of the last, and wondering what the preparation of the last few years is leading up to for our family.

I am thankful for... God's grace and blessing through the Christmas season, with beautiful reminders of His great Love Gift and wonderful worship opportunities.

I am wearing... Razorback sweats, hiking socks, and warm slippers.  It's 52 degrees in the house right now. :)

I am remembering... the simple beauty of our Christmas Eve worship service...I'm so thankful for the focus on reverent worship in our church, and even more so as I realize how rare that is becoming in today's churches.

I am going... shopping with Bay in a bit for her friend's birthday gift.

I am currently reading... new Christmas books!  The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Eat to Live (anyone else amused by the irony in that combo?? :)), and John MacArthur's The Jesus You Can't Ignore.   Also reading Restoring Broken Things, by Steven Curtis Chapman and Scotty Smith.  

I am hoping... that the roads don't get bad with the predicted snow tomorrow night.

On my mind... plans for the new year...looking forward to some time to get them down on paper in the next few days!

Pondering these words... "The  only basis for any real and lasting hope--about anything--is that Jesus died for our sins on the Cross, was buried in a tomb, and was raised from the dead on the third day, inaugurating the greatest restoration project imaginable.  Jesus has promised to make all things new, and He has also given us His word that He will return one day to completely rid the world of every expression and evidence of death and sin..." ~ Steven Curtis Chapman, Restoring Broken Things

From the kitchen... Meatballs in the crock pot for supper, with plans for Pioneer Woman's Monkey Muffins for dessert.  Yum!

Around the house... Christmas decorations are still up at the moment..we'll see if they last until the new year. :)  Tradition at my house was to leave them up until after New Year's Day...I always wanted them to stay up until my birthday on the 31st.  Billy's from the "take it all down the day after Christmas" camp.

One of my favorite things~ this week between Christmas and New Year's!  It's always been my favorite week of the year.  That probably started due to my birthday falling on the 31st, but now I love it because it has a different "flavor" than any other week of the year.  There is still a lingering of the beauty of Christmas, with a continuation of holiday spirit due to the coming New Year's celebration.  The shopping, cooking, and preparation deadlines of Christmas are over, and it is usually a "slow" week commitment-wise.   And what a week for a "planner/list-maker", as goals and plans for the new year are being created!

From my picture journal... 

(Our new chihuahua/rat terrier mix puppy.  This was my surprise Christmas gift from Billy. :)  Isn't she cute???  Her name is Wilhemina Rose.  I didn't *want* a dog...but I couldn't resist her when she showed up.  She was about to have to be taken to the shelter, and she came with her own food, carrier, and all her initial vet stuff done.  How could I say no? :))

For more Daybooks, visit Peggy's blog.  


In "Other" Words...Unraveled

“When the trials of life unravel
the fabric of our plans.
When we face the deep confusion
of painful circumstance.
When our feeble strength is broken,
and we stand with empty hands.
That’s when the Father whispers
‘Trust the pattern I have planned.’ “

Lyrics from song, The Weaver

It's amazing to me how music brings back such vivid memories.  I've blogged before about certain songs that seem to almost transport me back in time when I hear or sing them.   It happened again as we have been preparing for this year's Keyboards at Christmas presentation (which was incredibly amazing, by the way! :)).  

"Come, remember what God has done!  
Sent from Heaven His perfect Son!
Now the Spirit of love will raise
A great outpouring of praise!"
~ Claire Cloninger and Gary Rhodes

I'm not sure what year we first sang those words as part of the musical "A Christmas to Remember".   I know we've sung them several times in the intervening years.   My first realization upon singing them this year was that I still had the whole song practically memorized...words, notes, rhythms, the whole thing...which I found ironic, as I was having a hard time with music we had worked on much more recently.   I know that I have a harder time these days learning music than I used to...but it was odd to me that I could remember previously learned music so clearly, when my memory seems to be so faulty these days in so many areas. :)

My second realization was much deeper and more relevant. :)  As we worked on this song, I found myself once again transported back in time.  I could almost hear voices of certain choir members who aren't here anymore, and I felt odd sitting in the "wrong" place in the choir, although it's been years since the move was made.  And I could see my dad, dressed in his red sweater, singing those words with joy on his face.   For just a bit, every time we have rehearsed or sung this song this season,  the years disappeared, and I was for a few minutes back in what seemed like a completely different life.  

And then, almost as a cartoon character on TV who has been floating around in a dream, I suddenly came thumpity-bumping back to earth.  

There are the normal changes...choir members have come and gone, the church carpeting is different, and I have a few more children...and a lot more gray hair...than I did in those days. :)  But when I come thudding back to earth, it is not those changes I notice so much.  The first, and most obvious, thing I notice, is my dad being gone.  How I miss him!   He's been gone 5 years and one week, and while the grieving is much, much less intense than it used to be, this time of year always brings back so many, many memories.  But there are other, less public, changes that hit just as hard if not harder...and in the moments after the "thud", the feeling that descends is truly a feeling that things have completely come unraveled.  

Never in a million years, back when we first sang this song, would I ever have expected our family to experience the things we have experienced in recent years.  Our lives have veered so far from any plans we had in those days, that when I'm taken back to that time it almost seems like I am a totally different person.  If I let myself (and to be honest, I occasionally do), I can put together a pity party fast thinking of "life then" and "life now" and how different things are than what they were "supposed" to be.  

But thankfully, God is working, and those pity parties are fewer and further between than they used to be.  As we've sung "Come, remember what God has done", He has reminded me over and over of the amazing things that He has done ~ of the blessings of His faithfulness, love, goodness, and sovereignty.  He is continually reminding me that the true blessing of Christmas is hope ~ the hope we have in Him through salvation, and the hope that He provides in *all* circumstances that He is working for His glory and our good.   Yes, our  lives are vastly different than we would ever have imagined, but we have seen His glory in ways we would never have imagined as well.   Those glimpses of His glory are worth all the confusion, the painful circumstances, and the broken strength.

Loni selected the above lyrics from "The Weaver" as this week's In "Other" Words quote.  I haven't read her post yet...I wanted to get mine typed out before reading everyone else's...but I know that Loni has been through some serious "unraveling" herself, including her teenage son's death five years ago this month, and her daughter's heart problems.  I am so thankful for her selection of this quote this week.  I have so needed to ponder it in the midst of many memories *stirring* on many fronts, as well as facing another "layer of the onion" being peeled away in an ongoing extended family situation.  

And I am thankful for the ways that God keeps reminding me, through it all, that He is faithful, and sovereign, and all-sufficient.  For the hope He's given even this week in an answer to a 3 1/2 year long prayer.  For the reminders of the blessings I have...a wonderful, Godly husband who spoils me rotten and who has been my rock through it all;  four adorable (I hope Peter doesn't read this...not sure he'd appreciate that!), usually-happy, healthy children;  friends who have become like family (and who get me hooked on Mike and Ikes or make me play multiple pieces of music in 5 sharps...ahem! :-D);  a precious church family we love, with a pastor who is committed to preaching the truth no matter what, and a minister of music who is devoted to excellence and true worship in music.

Most of all, I am thankful for the assured hope of salvation and of His good and perfect plan.  

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand;
 and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
~Romans 5: 1-5

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
~Jeremiah 29:11

For more thoughts on this quote, please visit Loni at Writing Canvas.  Thanks to her for hosting and for a great quote to think on this week!


Blog Tour ~ The Familiar Stranger

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Familiar Stranger

Moody Publishers (September 1, 2009)


Christina Berry


Single mother and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time to write from her busy schedule because she must tell the stories that haunt her every waking moment. (Such is the overly dramatic description of an author's life!) She holds a BA in Literature, yet loves a good Calculus problem, as well. All that confusion must have influenced her decision to be team captain of a winning team on Family Feud.

Her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, released from Moody in September and deals with lies, secrets, and themes of forgiveness in a troubled marriage. A moving speaker and dynamic teacher, Christina strives to Live Transparently--Forgive Extravagantly!

Her work has also appeared in The Secret Place, The Oregonian, and Daily Devotions for Writers.


Craig Littleton's decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise . . . if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him.

They embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, they discover dark secrets. An affair? An emptied bank account? A hidden identity? An illegitimate child?

But what will she do when she realizes he's not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Familiar Stranger, go HERE

My thoughts: The Familiar Stranger is one of the best fiction reads I've read this year. New author Christina Berry grabbed my attention on the first page and never let go until the final one. This was one of those books that tempted me to ditch commitments and stay home to read it straight through (I didn't! :) But it definitely tempted me!) I will definitely be watching for Berry's next novel.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher for review purposes.


The Christmas Lamp~CFBA Blog Tour

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Christmas Lamp

Zondervan (October 1, 2009)


Lori Copeland


Lori Copeland has been writing for twenty-five years and has over three million copies of her books in print. She began her writing career in 1982, writing for the secular book market. In 1995, after many years of writing, Lori sensed that God was calling her to use her gift of writing to honor Him. It was at that time that she began writing for the Christian book market.

To date, she has more than 95 books published, including Now and Always, Simple Gifts, Unwrapping Christmas, and Monday Morning Faith, which was a finalist for the 2007 Christy Awards. Lori was inducted into the Springfield Writers Hall of Fame in 2000.

Lori lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband Lance. They have three sons, two daughter-in-laws, and five wonderful grandchildren. Lori and Lance are very involved in their church, and active in supporting mission work in Mali, West Africa.


Christmas trees, twinkling lights, skating in the park, and holiday displays are the hallmark elements for celebrating Jesus birth for the sentimental residents of Nativity, Missouri. Will fiscal responsibility replace Christmas their traditions when times are tough? Though their priorities and methods clash, Roni Elliot and Jake Brisco want the same thing, for the town to prosper. As the two get to know each other better, each begins to gain a new perspective on what the real wealth of Nativity and the season might be.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Christmas Lamp, go HERE

My thoughts: Unlike many of the books I've read for review purposes recently, this one was written by an author whose novels I've read often. I know that she is a master story-teller, and I enjoy her often-slightly-quirky characters. I have to admit that I wasn't particularly interested in reading this Christmas novella until I noticed the author's name...but I'm so glad that I changed my mind. I've been in a season of more "serious" reading...even much of my fiction reading recently has been a bit on the "heavy" side. The Christmas Lamp was a refreshing break from that pattern. Light, but not total "fluff" (as Christmas novellas can occasionally be :)), it's perfect reading for a cold night by a warm fireplace after a busy day of holiday activities.  

Disclosure to comply with new FCC regulations for bloggers: I was provided a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the review purposes.


In "Other" Words...God With Us!

Welcome to today's In "Other" Words!   Please join with us in sharing your thoughts on the John MacArthur quote below.  After posting on your blog, come back here and post the perma-link (the link to your In "Other" Words post, not the main page of your blog) in the Mr. Linky.  If you have trouble with Mr. Linky, please post your link in the comments to this post. Also, if you don't have a blog, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments here.  Thank you for joining us today!

“If we could condense all the truths of Christmas 
into only three words
these would be the words: 
'God with us.' 
We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. 
The greater truth of the holiday is His deity
More astonishing than a Baby in the manger is the truth that this promised Baby is the 
omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!”

~ John F. MacArthur, Jr.

God with us!  Such an amazing truth to ponder.  Even His name was to remind us that this was no ordinary baby born in such humble circumstances, but God, come to be with us:

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name 
which being interpreted is, 
God with us. 
~Matthew 1:23

This past Sunday evening, our Children's Choirs presented the musical The Best Christmas Present Ever.  All four of our children were in the musical...Peter, Bayley, and Emlyn had speaking parts, and Ammah Grace and Emlyn had solos.  Billy and I were both involved as well...Billy working the sound and me as an accompanist.  All of that to say, we've been pretty immersed in this musical for the past few weeks/months.

It was a perfect combination of humor and *teary-eyed* spots, with great music and excellent drama.  But in between the howls of laughter and the "Awwww...how sweet"s, the message was very clear.  The main character, an arrogant news anchor, makes it quite plain that he sees no way that a "2,000 year old guy" could be relevant today.  Only naive children could believe anything different.  The children and their teacher explain that the "Good News" is that God gave us the greatest gift of all...He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to be born in a manger.  But...we have a choice to make...to accept the gift of salvation He provided through His death and resurrection, to give Him our hearts, and acknowledge Him as our King.  

At the end of the musical, the anchorman reports that the "2,000 year old man" has changed his life~He has saved him and given him the best Christmas present ever!

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the "sweet little baby Jesus" aspect of Christmas.  As I've heard several times lately, the people all over the world celebrate His birth...whether they truly acknowledge it as such or not.   But when we actually stop and think about the fact that that "sweet little baby" in the manger was "the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth", it gets a little harder.  That requires a more serious response from us than "Oh, how sweet!"  It requires a choice from us...a choice to accept the gift of salvation He offers, a choice to give Him His rightful place as King of our hearts.  It demands reverence, and worship, and obedience.  

But...not only is that realization a bit harder, it is also infinitely more wonderful!  If it was just a "sweet little baby" born in the stable that night, it is little more than a beautiful story.  But the fact that the All-Powerful God of the universe was in that manger is Something indeed!  He loved us so much that He chose to come to earth in human form, be born as a baby, grow into a man, and then be beaten and tortured before He took our sin on Himself and gave His life on the cross.   But then, because He *is* the Almighty God, He rose from the dead on the 3rd day, and now sits in Heaven at the right hand of the Father, offering the free gift of salvation to all who will accept it.

For those who have not yet accepted that gift, the most wonderful thing that could happen this season is to accept that gift of salvation.  For those who have already accepted that gift, we too have choices to make this season.  Is he truly Lord of our Life?  Are we truly worshiping Him as the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth?  Are we obeying Him in all that we do?   Does He truly have first place in our hearts this holiday season?   Are we sharing the Good News with others?  

I so want to focus not only on the Baby in the manger this Christmas season, but on "God with Us" throughout the year. 

"She will bear a Son; 
and you shall call His name
for He will save His people from their sins."

~ Matthew 1:21

God exalted Him to the highest place
      and gave Him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father.

~ Philippians 2:9-11

(My apologies to those who looked for In "Other" Words earlier today.  I had planned to post early this morning, but between Billy being off and our being completely off-schedule, and the engagement last night of a dear friend's daughter, I've been a bit distracted this morning! )


Food on Fridays...Thanksgiving Tidbits and a China Cabinet Tour :)

I love Ann Kroeker's Food on Friday carnival!  With the completely random way my mind seems to work these days, her "any post remotely related to food is welcome" invitation makes me feel right at home. :)

For various reasons, we've made a tradition the past few years of having Thanksgiving dinner at the Cracker Barrel.  I know that one day we'll get back to cooking the traditional huge feast at home, but it's been nice the past few years to let someone else do the cooking and clean-up and just enjoy time with family.  (Not to mention the fact that I am the only one in my family who truly enjoys traditional Thanksgiving fare, so it's handy for everyone to get what they like. :))

I did do a bit of "Thanksgiving" cooking, though...my MIL's yummy pumpkin bars, and an egg cup "recipe"
which I first heard of from a message board friend, but have since seen variations of in several places.  We had these for breakfast before we went downtown to help serve food to the homeless yesterday morning.   (Recipes to follow.)

(My apologies for the blurry photo...we were in a bit of a hurry, and this was the best I could get. :))

We actually pulled out the "good china" for our quick breakfast yesterday morning.  A year or more ago, a friend gave us a china cabinet.  I immediately put it to use for books and "school stuff", dashing Billy's plans of actually having *china* in it.  After acquiring a couple of additional secondhand/hand-me-down bookcases for the books, I finally decided that Billy was right, and it was time to pull out all my grandmother's dishes and use the china cabinet for its intended purpose.

We are all *loving* having the dishes not only on display, but available to actually use.

When we got married, we didn't register for china, as I already had china from my grandmother.  We registered for everyday ware in a pattern my Papaw Brown had actually started buying for me when I was a little girl, Pfaltzgraff Yorktowne.   I don't have many of the serving pieces, but I love the ones I have.  :)

The blue dishes were my dad's cousin Anna Beth's.  Anna Beth was a huge influence on my life and one of my most-admired relatives.  I love these dishes because they were hers...and also just because, well, I like them. :)   They are Iroquois Casual.   Granny Kitty also had a set of Iroquois Casual in Nutmeg.  My mom has them now, but they are relocating to my house as soon as we can get them moved across town. :)  I'm hoping to pick up thrifted or garage sale pieces of the Iroquois Casual in these and other colors to mix and match with.

The pie plate was Granny Kitty's...no special story behind it, I just thought the colors were pretty with the blue Iroquois. :)

My "china".  Granny Kitty had more china than anyone I know.  She had sets for each one of her grandchildren (all 5 of us), and then some extras as well.  From the time we were small, we knew exactly who was to have each set.  Mine was the Johnson Brothers "Coaching Scenes".  I've always loved it.

"Moss Rose" dessert set, also from Granny Kitty.  I have less than half of it "out" now...there are enough cups and saucers for an entire army to have tea, I think. :)   When Billy and I got married, she gave us the radio cabinet that these were in in the dining room.  We got to take these with it. :)

I have always loved this chocolate pot.  It came to us with the dessert set.

Random piece of Johnson Brothers "Merry Christmas"...the one and only piece I have, and I'm not sure what the story is behind it.  I would love to find some more at a bargain someday!

The lemonade pitcher was a wedding gift.  It doesn't really "go" with the rest, but I had nowhere else to put it, as I was reorganizing the cabinet it used to be in. :)  The chocolate-dipped strawberry ornaments were a gift from a  friend who once upon a time decided I needed to collect strawberries, due to one of those "long story and you kinda had to be there" things.  :)  They are *very* breakable and I would never dare put them on a Christmas tree.  They've been in a box for safe-keeping for years and I decided it was time to get them out where I could enjoy them.  They make me smile. :)

And that concludes our china cabinet tour.

Here are the recipes for the sum total of my Thanksgiving cooking this year...:)

Carol's Pumpkin Bars

2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
2 c. pumpkin
4 eggs
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. flour

Mix dry ingredients and set aside.  Mix oil, sugar, pumpkin, and eggs.  Add dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Pour into greased jelly roll pan.  Bake 25 min. at 350.


3 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 stick oleo, softened
1 tbsp. cream
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar (more if needed)

Mix and spread on cooled bars.  (My MIL's note says she doubles the frosting recipe.  I do, too. :)  I think it would be hard to cover the bars with the frosting recipe as written.)  Freezes well.

Egg Cups

(This is another one of those *not really a recipe* recipes :))

Grease muffin tins and preheat oven to 400.  Sprinkle meat, cheese, and/or veggies in bottom of muffin cups.  (See below.)   Whisk together eggs (I used about 10 for 12 regular muffin cups), milk (I think I used about 1/2 to 3/4 cup), and salt, pepper, and desired spices/herbs (I just used salt and pepper yesterday, but I can think of all kinds of combinations that would be good :)) WELL.  (My kids were a bit icked out by the fact that I was in a hurry and didn't get the eggs whisked quite well enough...there were still very discernible pockets of egg white showing, which is a no-no at our house! :))  Pour egg mixture over meat/veggies in muffin cups, and bake for 20 minutes.

You can use any combination of meats/cheese/veggies in these.  I've read all kinds of variations.  Because I was in a hurry, I used Hormel real bacon pieces and shredded cheddar cheese.  I plan to try sausage and/or ham next.  You could also add onions, peppers, etc.  Other variations I've seen include using shredded hash browns in the bottom with the meat/cheese, or lining the muffin cup with a biscuit before adding the other ingredients.   These can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen and then reheated.  I've even heard that some people like them cold.  Not sure about that myself...I don't do cold eggs. :)

For more Food on Fridays, visit Ann Kroeker.


Give Thanks!

Spurgeon says of this Psalm, "A Psalm of Praise; or rather of thanksgiving. This is the only psalm bearing this precise inscription. It is all ablaze with grateful adoration, and has for this reason been a great favourite with the people of God ever since it was written."   (See more Spurgeon commentary on this Psalm here.  Excellent reading for Thanksgiving!) 

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before His presence with singing.

 Know ye that the LORD He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.

 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.

 For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.

Photo courtesy of slbrwn @ stock.xchng

A National Day of Thanksgiving

Proclamation of Thanksgiving
by the President of the United States of America

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony wherof I have herunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
A. Lincoln


Presidential Proclamation

In doing some research with the kids today about the history of Thanksgiving, I was fascinated to find that not only did President Lincoln issue a proclamation in 1863 setting aside the last Thursday in November as a Day of Thanksgiving, but earlier that year he had issued a proclamation setting aside a National Fast Day.

Did I know about this before?  Surely at some point in all my American history reading I read about this proclamation, but if so, it is currently lost in a sea of brain fog.   I read this in amazement today, realizing again how far our country has come.  Would that we had such wise, courageous, and humble leaders today!

Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day
March 30, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.  All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

(Photo courtesy scidmail @ stock.xchng)


In "Other" Words...Truly Thankful

“As we express our gratitude,
we must never forget that the highest appreciation
is not to utter words,
but to live by them.”

~John F. Kennedy

The above quote was chosen for this week's In "Other" Words by Tami at The Next Step.  Please visit her to add your own thoughts or to see what others have shared this week.  

The message of the quote above has been hitting me from all directions this week.

From my Sunday morning sermon notes (on Romans 1:21-24):

"Thanklessness is one of the surest marks of a rebellious and unregenerate heart."

In pointing out that "going through the motions is not thankfulness",  Bro. Kent mentioned this prayer from the old Jimmy Stewart movie, "Shenandoah"...

“Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eatin’ it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel. But we thank you just the same for this food we’re about to eat. Amen.”

Obviously an intentionally-blatant example of "going through the motions".   They're everywhere.  Just yesterday, a friend sent an email about an apparently well-known actress/comedienne (whom I had never heard of ;-)) who very openly ridiculed Jesus during an Emmy award speech a couple of years ago.  What the actress said was appalling, but what was almost more appalling to me was her description of the intent behind it.  From what I have read about this actress, she makes no pretense about being very anti-Christian.  Her words were grievous, but hardly surprising, considering her beliefs.  However, during the controversy that ensued, she indicated that the comments she made were meant as a satire of celebrities who go on and on thanking Jesus for their awards, especially when they themselves are controversial.  As I read, I couldn't help but understand a bit...to a non-Christian, seeing others whose lives don't show any true fruit of Christianity standing up and "thanking Jesus" for their awards, must seem terribly ridiculous.  Actually, it should seem ridiculous to anyone who stops and thinks about it.  

We encounter more "ordinary" and perhaps less blatant examples of "going through the motions" of giving thanks every day.  People everywhere will this week celebrate "Thanksgiving" without once truly "giving thanks" to the One to whom all thanks is due...the One who created us, gave us life, provided every blessing we experience, and most of all, provided the free gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son.   

Bro. Kent read this verse from Psalm 138 Sunday morning in contrasting true thankfulness with "going through the motions":

"I will give you thanks with all my heart" 

"All my heart".  That is the key, I think, to true thankfulness.  If we are truly thankful with our whole hearts, we will not just be uttering words or going through the motions; our thankfulness will be evident in all that we do. 

This Thanksgiving I want to truly give Him thanks with all my heart.  

Psalm 138
 I will give You thanks with all my heart;
          I will sing praises to You before the gods.

 I will bow down toward Your holy temple
          And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
          For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.

 On the day I called, You answered me;
          You made me bold with strength in my soul.

 All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O L
          When they have heard the words of Your mouth.

 And they will sing of the ways of the L
          For great is the glory of the L

 For though the L
ORD is exalted,
          Yet He regards the lowly,
          But the haughty He knows from afar.

 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
          You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
          And Your right hand will save me.

 The L
ORD will accomplish what concerns me;
          Your lovingkindness, O L
ORD, is everlasting;
          Do not forsake the works of Your hands.


Simple Woman's Daybook..Thanksgiving Week!

November 23, 2009

Outside my window... Sunshine!  I am loving the warmth of this fall so far.

I am thinking... about holiday plans and musical preparations!

I am thankful for... God's love, which never changes...no matter how much our circumstances do.

I am wearing... Gray fleece pullover, black pants, and fuzzy slippers :)

I am remembering... 5 years ago this time, when we were spending our last few precious weeks with my dad.  So many other things going on during that same time...the beginning of a 5-year-roller coaster!  A friend and I were reflecting last night on the *radical* changes so many of us have gone through during those years.  So thankful for the many reminders of God's love and faithfulness along with all the craziness, and for the things He has taught us about Himself through it all.

I am going... to try to keep the momentum going on projects around the house this week.  We got a lot accomplished last week, considering schedule and health issues, and it felt so good to make progress!   Looking forward to more progress this week (including creating a spot to put up the Christmas tree this weekend...:))

I am reading... finishing up The Year of Living Like Jesus, by Ed Dobson (I completely missed the review tour date on this, so I'm scrambling to get a review up in the next day or two...eek!), and Raising Children to Adore God, by Patrick Kavanaugh (I have been reading this on and off forever, and hope to post a bit about it one of these days.)  Also started, again, When All Hell Breaks Loose, You May Be Doing Something Right; Surprising Insights from the Book of Job, by Steve Lawson.  I've read bits and pieces of this at various times in the last couple of years, but am reading cover to cover this time. :)

I am hoping... for nice weather this week, particularly on Thursday.

On my mind... So many friends going through major "storms of life" right now, and friends dealing with various  grief issues this time of year.  Trying to remember always to turn my worry and hurt for them into prayers...I seem to constantly need to re-learn that lesson!

From the learning rooms... Prepping for our Advent Study so that we can start *on time*. :)  Focus on "Gratefulness" this week.

Noticing that... I'm being reminded more and more often these days of my age...former classmates becoming grandparents, being reminded during a church announcement that I no longer am a "mother of small children", and my 41st birthday rapidly approaching.  Not sure why these things are affecting me so much these days, as I have never seen myself as being particularly sensitive or worried about my own aging.  Hmm.

Pondering these words... "Heaven is often silent.  In such times [of suffering], the only answer God gives is a deeper revelation of Himself.  We learn that He is the answer we seek.  Ultimately, we must not trust a plan, but a Person.  In the face of chaos and confusion, we trust a personal God who is sovereign, wise, and good.  In these times, God invites us to learn who He is.  Only in knowing Him do we find the adequate resources to endure and conquer." ~ R.C. Sproul, in the forward to Steven Lawson's When All Hell Breaks Loose.

From the kitchen... Leftovers of Billy's yummy Alfredo Bacon Meatball pizza for lunch today. :)  Need to find my MIL's Pumpkin Bar recipe to make later in the week.  Looking forward to a big pot of chili tomorrow.  Planning to try a couple of new breakfast recipes this week...I'll post afterward if we like them. :)

Around the house... Trying hard to focus on the progress and not how much more needs to be done!  And to "keep on keeping on" with it.

One of my favorite things~ "Anonymous" notes from my Emlyn left on my desk with her sweet little drawings. :)

From my picture journal... 

For the first time since we've had this china cabinet, it actually has china in it (instead of books :)).  Yet another instance of Billy being right (he usually is! :)), and we are all enjoying the change so much.  (Hopefully I'll post the rest of that story soon.)