Tiny Tiny Faith

Charis: Subject to Change

McGyver up the Christmas tree ch

It was twenty years ago. I told the counselor I didn’t know what I believed anymore, or even if I believed anything anymore.

“I just don’t have enough faith,” I said.

Is there one thing you can still hold on to?”

The traffic in the street below whizzed by and the warm air blew quietly through the heat register in the floor as I squirmed in my chair. Finally I said, “This much. A children’s song. ‘Jesus loves me, this I know.'”

“That’s all you need.”

“But I don’t have faith in church, or prayer, or eschatology, or Calvinism, or Arminianism, or Catholicism or any of that stuff…”

“I’ll have faith for you,” he said. “You just hold on to that one piece in your hand and enjoy it.”

This is a photo of my grandson’s cat McGyver. He loves to climb into the tree and bat the baubles. He…

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590. “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.” ~Clement C. Moore

Our homes are to be more than sanctuaries.
They should be places 
where God’s spirit can dwell,
where the storm stops at the door,
where love reigns and peace dwells.
~Thomas S. Monson

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I strive not only to make my home the kind of place Monson describes but I also want my blog “home” to be the same type of space. To all of you who visit my little corner of the world at my blog, I pray you’ve had wonderful Christmas celebrations and that the new year brings you and yours more blessings and miracles than can be counted. Thank you for all your comments over the last year and the kindnesses expressed in them. It fills my heart with joy knowing there are so many kindred spirits all over the world. I’m awed by the talents and gifts you share with me and others and am so very grateful our paths have crossed. You lift me up when the ills of society close in and the media’s incessant firestorms paint their ad nauseum pictures of despair. It is in so doing that you restore my hope that places where love reigns and peace dwells are achievable. So please keep your unique and special “little lights” shining! Virtual hugs and much love to each and everyone of you, Natalie

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  ~Isaiah 9:6   ✝

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589. O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord. ~John F. Wade

We hear the beating of wings
over Bethlehem and
a light that is not
of the sun
or of the stars
shines in the midnight sky.
~Maud van Buren

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The dictionary defines relationship as a connection to or an involvement with another entity, and what happened in a Bethlehem manger over 2,000 years ago was the Breath of Heaven reaching out from “the invisible spiritual world” to touch and begin relationships in the “material world.” Therefore Christmas is not merely an event; more importantly it’s an invitation to establish a connection with the babe in the manger who became the Christ of the cross to save our souls.

In order to accomplish His divine destiny Jesus came into our world, walked among us, and left, as an ongoing legacy, a way to remain connected to and in relationship with the Father, a relationship that comes into fullness by spending time with the Lord, by listening to Him, and by submitting to His will and purpose for our lives. It’s a bit like when a man and woman marry; they mustn’t just celebrate, honor, and spend time with each other one day of the year. It has to be a day to day, minute by minute commitment if the relationship is to grow and blossom into greater goodness.

Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession? ~Song of Solomon 6:10 ✝ (The Song of Solomon is often interpreted as an allegorical representation of the relationship of God and Israel, or for Christians, God and the Church or Christ and the human soul.)

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One of Us

Ebs and Flows...

Angelina Jolie has been looking a bit thin of late. When celebrities who are already thin get even thinner the media usually begins to speculate about eating disorders or other types of illness. Interestingly, it seems that Angelina lost weight while directing a movie. Worry perhaps? Did Angelina get so focused on directing that she forgot to eat? No. Apparently Angelina Jolie took a decision to lose weight because the actors in the movie had to lose significant amounts of weight to accurately portray Japanese prisoners of war.

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588. The magic of Christmas Eve is not in the presents under the tree but in the coming of His presence…

Christmas Eve is a night of sacred hymns
that wrap themselves around us like a shawl.
And they warm more than the body–
they warm the human heart and fill it
with melodies that last forever.
~Edited and adapted
excerpt 
by Bess Streeter Aldrich

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ROSEMARY WREATH 

~by Teri Casper

Several common herbs have legends connected with the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt after Jesus was born. Since rosemary is silent underfoot, its soft leaves muffling crackling twigs beneath it, it prevented detection and ensured their safe journey.

Another story involves rosemary, sugar cane and date palm. The plants argued as to which provided the Holy Family with the greatest benefit. Palm sheltered them in the daytime heat and gave them fruit. Sugar cane provided sweetness. The rosemary bush was silent, having nothing special to offer the family.

After Mary washed Jesus’ swaddling clothes she asked the palm to bend its head so she could hang them on its fronds to dry. It couldn’t bend low enough for her to reach them. Sugar cane offered its branches but the clothes fell to the ground. So Mary hung out Jesus’ clothes on the rosemary, a small flowerless bush that had antiseptic properties. Mary blessed the rosemary, giving it flowers the blue color of her robe. Legend has it that a rosemary plant will grow no higher than six feet in thirty-three years, so as not to stand taller than Jesus did.

During their flight to Egypt, Mary, Jesus and Joseph ran out of water. Joseph went to the nearest village to get some. Mary heard Herod’s soldiers’ shouts and the sound of hoof beats approaching. There was no place to hide.

Mary saw a rose bush and asked for shelter. It refused, which is why rose bushes have thorns. The clove bush also refused help and this resulted in it having unpleasant smelling flowers. The sage plant hid them, blossoming to create safe haven. The soldiers passed by. Since then, the plant was considered sacred and believed to possess curative and protective powers.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. ~Psalm 73:25-26   ✝

**Image via Pinterest, text added by Natalie

587. “Twas Christmas told the merriest tale…” ~Excerpt from Walter Scott

I will honor Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year.
~Charles Dickens

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In the 17th century after Oliver Cromwell came to power in England, Catholics were subsequently not permitted to practice their faith openly. Tradition holds that Catholic parents then developed the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, not only to teach their beliefs surreptitiously to their children but also to help them remember them. So it is that the partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus (the partridge will sacrifice its life to save its young). The two turtle doves refer to The Old and New Testaments. The three French hens stand for faith, hope, and charity or the three gifts the Wise Men brought to the baby Jesus. The four calling birds designate the four Evangelists–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The five golden rings denote the first five books of the Old Testament. The six geese a-laying constitute the six days of Creation as described in Genesis. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord). The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes. The nine ladies dancing depict the nine choirs of angels (Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and regular angels); or the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control). The ten lords a-leaping point to the Ten Commandments. The eleven pipers piping are the eleven faithful Apostles. And the twelve drummers drumming signify the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. ~Romans 15:4   ✝

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586. And so the Shortest Day came and the year died and everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world came people singing, dancing, to drive the dark away. ~Susan Cooper

They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling and
partaking of the wassail.
~Adapted excerpt from Susan Cooper

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Wassailing
~by Unknown Author

The word “wassail” is thought to come from the Anglo-Saxon “wel hal” which means “be healthy.” The Anglo-Saxons used the phrase as an everyday greeting. “Waes” is a form of the verb “to be.” “Hal” is the ancestor of the modern English words whole and hale. Thus, “waes hal” literally meant “Be healthy.”

The Vikings who later settled in Northern England used a variant of the same phrase, “Ves heill.” Since the Anglo-Saxons and Norse shared a custom of welcoming guests by presenting them with a horn of ale, a cup of mead, or a goblet of wine, the greeting evolved into a toast.

The phrase eventually evolved into the single word that we know today as “wassail.” The use of “wassailing” to mean “caroling” very likely descended from the custom of singing songs while drinking from the wassail bowl during the Christmas holidays.

Cranberry Wassail
1 gallon ocean spray cranberry juice
5 cups apple juice
2/3 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp allspice (whole)
1 medium sized orange sliced
20 whole cloves

Combine cranberry juice cocktail, apple juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and allspice in a large pot. Heat to boiling over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain punch to remove spices. Serve warm in a heat proof punch bowl or chill and serve over ice. Garnish with orange slices studded with cloves. Makes 42 4-ounce servings.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and day and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on earth.” And it was so. ~Genesis 1:13-15   ✝

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585. On the first day of winter, the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself. ~Laura Lush

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!
~Excerpt from poem 
by
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Winter is Awakening
The Solstice Sun is Rising

The Heart of Nature
dreaming
Poems of Earth
now sleeping

The Seasons are
weaving
The journeys
of Creation

The Seeds
are Quickening
in Mother Nature’s
Sacred Wing

~Edited poem by Victoria Pettella

Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. ~1 Corinthians 16:6   ✝
(Paul was speaking here to Christ followers in Corinth, but this could well be a prayer we lift up unto the Lord for safe passage through winter’s dark realm.)

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584. Autumn is the dim shadow that clusters about the sweet, precious things that God has created in the realm of nature. ~Northern Advocate

Is not this a true autumn day?
Just the still melancholy that I love–
that makes life and nature harmonize.
…the trees give us a scent that is
a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit.
Delicious autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about
the earth seeking the successive autumns.
~George Eliot

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Goodbye “dreamful autumn,” your “pale amber sunlight” and the “twilight silences” of your “prosaic days” have created their usual “golden spell that penetrates the soul with its mysterious power.” “The leaves by hundreds came…The sunshine spread a carpet, and everything was grand; Miss Weather led the dancing; Professor Wind, the band…the sight was like a rainbow new-fallen from the sky” while “the sound of life” wound “down to its cyclic close” with a “bittersweet, mellow, messy leaf-kicking pause” and “flaming torches” that lighted “the way to winter.” “The mild heavens,” “the tenderly solemn” days and nights, the “reverent meekness in the air,” the bursts of “color and beauty, radiant with glory,” “the fading of holy stars in the dim light of morning,” “the closing up of a beautiful life” all touched again “something old in the human soul.” Your “ripeness and color and time of completion” came “like a warrior, with the stain of blood upon his brazen mail.” His “crimson scarf” was “rent…” “The wind” wafted “to us the odor of leaves that” hung “wilted on the dripping branches…” as your “funeral anthem of the dying year” played on. “The whole body of the air” was “enriched by” the “calm, slow radiance” of your days, and so we listened with delight to your “rhythms that are the heart of life.” And now the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” and the wild “music of autumnal winds amongst the faded wood” have lowered to the gradual hush that always comes “with the deepening of autumn” and the approach of the winter solstice. Oh, “delicious autumn,” “the hush before winter,” “the year’s last, loveliest smile” your “magic of earth-scents and sky-winds” truly are “ordained for the healing of the soul.”

“Nevertheless, I (the Lord) will bring healing to it: I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” ~Jeremiah 33:6   ✝

**Image via Pinterest with added text by Natalie

583. Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness. ~George MacDonald

To sit with a dog on a hillside
on a glorious afternoon 
is to be
back in Eden,
 where doing nothing
was not boring – 
it was peace.
~Milan Kundera

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The Old Poets of China

Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe
that I do not want it. Now I understand
why the old poets of China went so far and high
into the mountains,
then crept into the pale mist.

~Mary Oliver

When Mozart was composing at the end of the eighteenth century, the city of Vienna was so quiet that fire alarms could be given verbally, by a shouting watchman mounted on top of St. Stefan’s Cathedral. In twenty-first-century society, the noise level is such that it keeps knocking our bodies out of tune and out of their natural rhythms. This ever-increasing assault of sound upon our ears, minds, and bodies adds to the stress load of civilized beings trying to live in a highly complex environment. ~Edited comment by Steven Halpern

He (the Lord) makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. ~Psalm 23:2-3   ✝

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