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Friday, December 30, 2011


This evening, daughter Nicole and her sweet Kyle become Mr. and Mrs. 

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s their engagement photo.  

I’ll say no more.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for families and for arranging them, just so. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Any loved ones celebrating an engagement, wedding or anniversary soon?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


This post is part of the Christian Writers blog chain. Our theme for this month is “Gifts from the Heart.” Please see the list to the right and visit my friends’ blogs to see what they have to say about this topic.


Breathe. Inhale and exhale. Enjoy the rest after the boxes and wrappings; too much food and never enough time.  

Now we relax from the celebration of Christmas.

Yet, it was after that first Christmas that the shepherds and wise men started arriving to worship baby Jesus.  

And it was after that first Christmas that God continued to work His plan—growing Jesus to maturity; sending John the Baptist; preparing hearts and minds to understand the good news. 

And God is still at work on His plan; His plan that was the gift from His heart.  

God’s plan didn’t end on Christmas morning. It didn’t end on Easter morning. And the celebration of Christmas doesn’t end for us at Christmas time. 

Christmas is a pause in the plan. Not a stop or a bump or simply a sparkle point.  

It is a time to wonder at the power and creativity of a God who would send our savior in the form of a human; a tender babe, perfect and innocent at the beginning of His earthly life. Perfect and innocent at the end of His earthly life. Perfect and innocent throughout time. 

It is time for the afterglow. The soft-focus filter of God’s holy light to shine on us and through us, catching fire and burning brighter each day from now on. 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the celebration of Christmas. Please help us maintain the celebration throughout the coming year. Please shine on us and through us for your glory. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? How will you maintain the afterglow?

Monday, December 26, 2011


It’s Boxing Day.

In the UK, Boxing Day is the day when the master of the house took boxes of small gifts to the servants.

Here in the US, Boxing Day is the day we smash up the empty Christmas packages and stuff them in the burgeoning garbage can.

As it relates to Christmas, the magi arrived several years after Jesus’ birth to bring their gifts. That first Boxing Day would have included boxes of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

As it relates to Jesus’ gift to us, Boxing Day came 33 years later—on that amazing Easter morning when Jesus’ horrible death was turned into a glorious gift—nestled in a golden box of salvation, wrapped with his eternal love and tied with the ribbons of sacrifice and grace.

In our house, this year, Boxing Day means we have 4 days left to stack up the boxes of dishes, goblets, tablecloths, candles, platters and all other things wedding, stage them in the garage and wait for the enormous truck to take them to the venue.

Boxes and boxes of boxes. Praise God for boxes.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, now that we have unwrapped the packages that have perched beneath our trees, please continue to remind us that your gift of Jesus’ humanity is the most precious gift of all. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Other than Baby Jesus, what gift outshone them all this year?

Friday, December 23, 2011


Yesterday was the first day of winter.  

Winter—the day that recognizes the beginning of the earth’s dying cycle so nicely coincides with the celebration of the birth of our savior—the day that symbolizes our spiritual rebirth.  

Bible historians say that the actual day of Jesus’ birth was not recorded and is therefore not known. They guess—based on astronomical events at the time in history that would account for a bright “star” in the sky pointing the magi to Bethlehem—Jesus was probably born in the springtime or summer. 

Other bible historians tell us the date of December 25 was selected to celebrate Jesus’ birth because a widely observed pagan holiday already occurred on that date and thus Christmas would already have a popular following for celebration on that date. Or that early Christian leaders selected the date in order to dilute the pagan celebration. 

Mankind’s calendar notwithstanding, we celebrate the birth of our savior on December 25. Just days after we recognize the entrance into the earth’s dormant stage, we celebrate the way God brought new life to His people throughout time. 

Thank you, Jesus.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for your plan. Thank you that you have created a cycle of life and death and have included a plan where we can have eternal life spent in your presence. Amen. 

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What interesting insights do you have about the coincident celebration of the beginning of winter and Jesus’ birth?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


This post is part of the Christian Writers blog chain. Our theme for this month is "Gifts from the Heart." Please see the list to the right and visit my friends’ blogs to see what they have to say about this topic.

This post is a recognition of the importance of Jewish history to me—a gentile, adopted into God’s family through my Jewish savior. The Jewish celebrations are mine, because they were first His. Thank you, Jesus.


Tonight begins the celebration of Hanukkah, also known as the Jewish "Festival of Lights."

I grew up wishing "Happy Hanukkah" to my Jewish friends, but not understanding the reason behind the celebration, thinking it had little relevance to my own faith. Why should I—a Christian—care about a Jewish holy day?

Because I’m that dog eating scraps under the table that the gentile woman spoke to Jesus about. I wasn’t born as part of God’s chosen people (the Jews) but by His grace I was adopted in to His family.

When I was adopted in, I adopted God’s plan, including the story of how He led His people. That made their history important to my future because my faith through my Jewish savior’s life was part of His earthly life, too.

It was my sweet mother-in-law who first introduced me to understanding Hanukkah as a Christian. One day I asked her, "What’s your favorite book of the Bible?"

Without missing a beat, she responded, "The Macabees."

Wait a minute, I thought, that’s not in my Bible.

But it is in the Bible of many versions of Christian faiths--sometimes in the Apocrapha; sometimes as part of the Old Testament. The Maccabee are a historical account of the time less than 200 years before Jesus’ birth when the Syrian army had taken over Jerusalem. Once the army was ousted, the Jews found that everything inside the Temple of Jerusalem had been desecrated—including the sacred, refined and holy oil that kept the lamps in the Temple lit.

A single sealed container of lamp oil was found—enough to keep the lamp lit for one day and night. Yet it would take eight days for new oil to be refined, purified and made holy. By God’s miraculous power, that single container of oil kept the lamp lit in the Temple for the entire eight days until the new oil was ready.

Thus, Jews celebrate the Festival of Lights as a way to remember God’s miracle of provision and sacred power.

The story of Hanukkah reminds me of Jesus and the many times he miraculously fed the hungry crowd with a few fish and a loaf of bread.

And it reminds me that Jesus is the true light of the world and we are meant to be lamp stands to light the way for others to find Him.

Can God do a miracle in our lives and make our very small amount of spiritual oil last? He can because of Jesus.

In fact, as Christians, we can look to the celebration of Hanukkah for the truth: not only did God stretch that holy oil for eight days; He made it last all the way until Jesus’ birth—nearly 200 years later—when the eternal light of life came to earth and lit the way for all of us.

I’ll be celebrating Hanukkah tonight and praising God for His power and for the gift of His heart of lighting this world with His love through Jesus.

In fact, consider me a lamp stand for Jesus—a living menorah, all lit up and praising His name!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for your miraculous provision; not only throughout history but in our lives today. Thank you for keeping the light of your love lit until you sent us Jesus. Please help us shine our lights for you for the world to see and understand what you have planned. Amen.

 WHAT ABOUT YOU? What does Hanukkah mean to you?

Monday, December 19, 2011


Hair up? Hair down?
Hair part up and part down?
Red shoes? White shoes?
Black shoes? Barefoot?

Red roses. White lilies.
Curly willows. Glitter twigs.
Piles of meatballs. Platters of cheese.
Cups of toothpicks and stirrer sticks.

Don’t leave out the programs.
Don’t forget the lights.
Flicker candles on and off.
Do they work? Do we need more?

Who has the hammer, pliers, wrench,
electrical cords, drill and screwdrivers?
Why do we need to take the contents of the garage to set up a wedding?
Did you remember the ladder?

Chafing dishes, plates and goblets.
Tablecloths, napkins, forks and spoons.
Food and drinks and candies and cookies.
Little cakes and one b-i-g cake.
Can we overdose on sugar? 

Pillars. Draping. Tables.
Better rent a truck.

And several strong guys. 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, please give us strength to prepare for celebrations but please remind us that the reasons for the celebrations are more important than the preparation or even the celebrations themselves. Fill us with joy from you. Amen. 

WHAT ABOUT YOU:  What are you celebrating in the near future?

Friday, December 16, 2011


Thirty-three years and counting…As of tomorrow, that’s how long Jimmie and I will have been married. What does it mean?

33 years of fun
33 years of teasing
33 years of laughter 

33 years of family
33 years of time together
33 years of laughter 

33 years of loving each other
33 years of loving God
33 years of laughter

33 years of tenderness
33 years of sharing with each other
33 years of laughter 

33 years of holding hands
33 years of growing together
33 years of laughter 

33 years of sitting in dark rooms watching movies and not speaking
33 years of reciting favorite lines from movies
33 years of laughter 

33 years of walks on the beach
33 years of walks in the woods
33 years of laughter

33 years of walks in the park
33 years of walks in the dark
33 years of laughter 

33 years of walks around the block
33 years of walking with the Lord
33 years of laughter 

33 years of finding constellations
33 years of looking for satellites
33 years of wishing on shooting stars 

33 years of learning from each other
33 years of teaching each other
Did I mention 33 years of laughter?

Never enough years to spend with you, Jim.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for arranging marriages and families. Please help marriages grow stronger over time and help us love you more. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Got a special thank you to God for time spent with a special someone?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I post each Wednesday on the theme set by This month our theme is "Gifts from the Heart." Please see the list of other blogs to the right and check out what my friends have to say this month.


TV commercials announce “Xmas” sales and church members complain that stores have taken Christ out of Christmas. 

There definitely is a commercialization of Christmas. But the term Xmas isn’t part of it.

As we know, God sent Jesus first to save the Jews and only secondarily to save us gentiles. Thanks to Paul and his traveling band of evangelists, Christianity arrived in Rome and Greece. There the early church found a solid base and secured the formation of the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christian churches—from which our other varieties of Christianity have evolved.

Because in those early years, Christian leadership was focused in Rome and Greece, many of the words and phrases in Christian-ese come from the Roman and Greek languages.

One of those is the word “Christmas.”

In Roman Catholic tradition, Christmas is the celebration of the “mass of Christ” or “Christ’s mass.”  It is a celebration of the rite of the Eucharist (Holy Communion) or "mass" of Christ.

That’s the Roman Catholic part of the word “Christmas.” Now for the Greek Orthodox twist.

In the Greek alphabet, the letter “X” is pronounced “chi” and the Greek letter “P” is pronounced “rho.” The letter “Σ” corresponds to our letter “S.” The Greek letter “I” is pronounced “I,” "T" is "T" and “O” is “O.”

End of the Greek language lesson. Now you know enough to read the Greek word, ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ. It is pronounced “Christos”Greek for “Christ.”

Just as we sometimes use initials or monograms for our names, the early Greek Church used the letters XP (chi-rho) to refer to Christ. Often, the two would be combined into one symbol, like this:

You will still see this symbol in Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and even in Protestant churches—on altar cloths, banners and vestments, bible bookmarks, pulpit cloths—embroidered with the Greek monogram of Jesus, the Christ. Here's a sample of a protestant church parament:

Just as you might sign a note with the initial of your first name only, so early Christians sometimes used just the single letter “X” to refer to Christ.  

Hence Xmas.   

I’ve decided not to let the use of “Xmas” bother me. Instead, if I hear someone say “Merry Xmas,” it’s an opportunity for me to pronounce it clearly for them: Christ’s mass.  

And then share with them what it means to me. And what it could mean to them. The gift from Christ’s heart to us. 

In our modern world, we often sign letters to those we love with our initial, preceded by XOXO—sending along our kisses and hugs.  

That’s what God, did, too—when He sent Jesus. Jesus (X) is God’s kiss to the world.  

The Kiss of Christ. 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, you know how important words are. You spoke our world into creation and you gave us the ability to read and speak languages. Remind us of the meaning of words; remind us of the meaning behind the name “The Christ.” Thank you, Jesus for becoming human for our sake. Amen. 

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Have you used the opportunity to share the meaning behind the word: Christ-mas?

Monday, December 12, 2011


As I have blogged in anticipation of baby girl’s wedding, I have tried to keep the focus on the joyful busyness of the planning and preparation.

The next 18 days will be filled with extra busyness with added excitement as Nicole finishes school and comes home for the holy days. There will be family Christmas celebration and birthdays and anniversaries.

Before that happens I want to pause and appreciate God’s hand on our family.

Our heavenly Father orchestrated Jim and my lives, brought us together in marriage and blessed us with children. He also placed Kyle in Nicole’s life nearly six years ago. Together they journeyed three states away to attend college together and made lives that were independent from family and dependent on each other. 

Today I praise God for His plan. When I find myself spending too much time referring to my lists of things to do, I pray that God will remind me that He is in charge—always has been and always will be.

God is our heavenly wedding planner.

PRAYER: Thank you, Father, for being in charge of everything. Please remind us that in the symphony that is our lives, you are the conductor, the leader, the orchestrator of all things. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? How do you remind yourself that God is in control?

Friday, December 9, 2011


As part of my ongoing ministry to provide a way for us to pray for our loved ones, today I offer you four more names, their meaning and ways you can pray for people who have those names.
These names will be added to the burgeoning list of names and prayers, found on the PRAYING NAMES page of this blog. Go to the tab, titled “PRAYING NAMES” to find prayers for your loved ones. 

If a name is not there, please leave a comment here with names you would like me to research and create prayers for.


Constance, Connie: constant

Heavenly Father, I pray that Connie will live her name. I pray that her faith and trust in you will be constant and ever growing throughout her life. I pray also that you will be her constant guide, counselor and friend and that her example of faith will be a constant encouragement to others.

Gregory, Greg: vigilant, watchful

Heavenly Father, I pray that Greg will live his name. I pray that he will live his life, ever vigilant in right living. I pray that he will be watchful for your leading, blessings and grace in his life and give thanks to you in all things.

Harold, Harry: army ruler

Heavenly Father, I pray that Harry will live his name. I pray that as a soldier in your army, he will fight against evil wherever he sees it and will live his life wearing the full armor of God for his protection and for your fight.

Susan, Susannah, Suzanna, Susie: lily

Heavenly Father, I pray that Susan will live your name. I pray that she will live her life focusing on purity. I pray that, like the lilies in the field, she will be beautiful to you and to others. I pray that her faith in you will blossom and grow throughout her life and that her life—like the lily—will be representative of Jesus.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This post is part of the Christian Writers blog chain. Our theme for this month is “Gifts from the Heart.” Please see the list to the right and visit my friends’ blogs to see what they have to say about this topic. 

Twenty-two Christmases ago, our son was three years old; our daughter was 6 months. I remember sitting under the tree, watching husband and son opening gifts; watching baby girl google at the soft blanket in her chubby hands. I smiled and thought, “Now, our family is complete.”

Fast forward 22 years and I smile once more, realizing how wrong I had been. This year will be the last year we are a family of four. Nicole’s fiancé, Kyle joins our family at the end of the month. Next Christmas our family will be a family of five. And one day—God willing—there will be a wife for our son. And grandchildren, too. 

That reminds me of Jesus.  

No doubt, when baby Jesus was born, Father God smiled down on the earth. But surely He didn’t say, “Now, my family is complete.”  

Father God knew that because of Jesus, there would be millions of souls who would be adopted into His family. In fact, God’s family will only be complete at one point in the future; on a date no one but He knows; growing larger each moment, day, month, year, millennium.  

Meanwhile, we celebrate being adopted into God’s family with our earthly families and friends—made possible by the birth of baby Jesus.  

I like to think of Jesus googling at the soft blanket in his chubby hands that Christmas morn, and thinking, “Now my family begins.” 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for adopting me into your family and for sending Jesus to make it possible. Thank you for the gift of your heart—Jesus. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is your family still growing? Have you added anyone new this year?

Monday, December 5, 2011


December has arrived; the month of Nicole and Kyle’s wedding. 

Why December?  

In the Peterson family, December is the month of weddings.  

Hubs mom and dad started it all when they were married December 5

Then Hubs and I continued the tradition when we were married December 17

Sister and hubby were married December 18

Brother and wifey were married December 7

Another brother and wifey remarried each other December 9. 

Did Nicole and Kyle have to select a December wedding date? No, but all the marriages that happened in December are happy and long-lasting. Why tempt fate? 

Better yet, why not keep a family tradition that has brought so much joy to so many people over three generations? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for your tradition of marriage and thank you for opportunities to celebrate anniversaries and new beginnings. Please bless the marriages of your children and help us make them pleasing to you. Amen. 

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is there a traditional “wedding month” in your family?

Friday, December 2, 2011


Every month has a birthstone. Every month also has a birth flower. Can you guess the birth flower for December? Of course you can! It’s the poinsettia. And it reminds me of Jesus.

Growing Wild 

If you’ve been to the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico or Central America you may have seen enormous poinsettia bushes growing wild. The red of these tropical plants are actually leaves. The flower itself is small and located in the center of the leaves.

The ancient Aztecs believed the poinsettia was a symbol of purity. In modern times, it has become a symbol of celebration, reassurance and good cheer. All of which epitomize Jesus.

A Christmas Symbol 

The poinsettia is the number one, best-selling potted plant in America. Nearly all of the plants are sold in November and December. Because of the flower’s brilliant red and vibrant green colors, the poinsettia is an almost universal symbol of Christmas. And Christmas, of course, is all about Jesus.

A Christmas Story 

One Christmas Eve, the church in a small village held a special evening service. Attendees were to bring gifts in honor of baby Jesus. A young girl wanted to attend the service, but she was poor and had nothing to bring. Rather than dishonor Jesus by not attending the worship service, she picked some weeds alongside the road and humbly laid the bouquet on the altar.

This modest gift was pleasing to God because it had come from the heart of a child in true worship. In delight, God caused the weeds to blossom into brilliant red flowers. This is the Christmas miracle of the poinsettia plant.

Happy birthday to everyone born in the month of December.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for Christmas and for everything that reminds us of this season that celebrates your love for us. Every time we see a poinsettia plant, remind us of your son Jesus and your promise through him. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a poinsettia plant sitting on your counter this month?