Setting Priorities for the New Year

 

What is your favorite holiday?  My guess is that most people living in a “Christian society” around the world would say that Christmas is their favorite holiday.  Although I can understand the reasons for selecting this day as your number one, I have to admit that my favorite is New Year’s Day.  Part of the reason behind me selecting this day is because it is one of the rare celebratory days that is largely untouched by commercialism (unless you count football commercials).  The bigger reason likely has to do with my personality.  I am an optimist and I love the theory, however faulty it may be, that I can become a better person.

From my earliest memories, I have made New Year’s Resolutions.  I have vowed to be better at reading my Bible and have read the first few chapters of Genesis countless times, but the first few pages of Numbers are much whiter.  I have joined the crowd and pledged to lose weight through a variety of ways.  In an attempt to conquer the mountain of magazines that threatens to start an avalanche any day, I’ve resolved to read one of the issues each week.  Multiple years have found me promising (and re-promising) to organize my family pictures.  I’ve tried setting up rigorous exercise routines.  You name it, if it is a weakness of mine (and I have a plethora to pick from), I’ve tried to make a change for the better at some point in my life.   Continue reading

Chocolate-covered Cherries Recipe

Christmas is less than a week away.  I confess that this year is one of the busiest I remember.  So many things to be done within a limited time span.  One of the things that has kept me busy is making chocolates.  Years ago one of my sweet neighbors took me under her wing and set about to teach me how to make dipped and molded chocolates.  One of the kinds she demonstrated was chocolate-covered cherries.  I decided this week that my gift to you would be to show you how to make them yourself  (step-by-step).  Note: this is the way I was taught, but there are many variations. Continue reading

Traveling through the Desert




My son and I have been reading through the book of Joshua together.  This book of the Bible begins is a very captivating way.  The first chapters contain espionage, the miraculous dividing of the Jordan River so that the Israelites could walk through on dry ground, and the conquest of the formidable city of Jericho that began with a march and a shout.  There is even an unexpected heroine – a woman who was formerly a harlot and who later became a pivotal person in the lineage of Jesus.  I love these stories and believe every single word is true, no matter how improbable they sound to the modern reader, because they are taken from the Word of God.

If you’ve never read the book of Joshua, or even if you have, I would encourage you to read it.  I think you will find it riveting…that is, until you reach chapter twelve.  This is where the tone shifts and most of the remainder of the book gets a bit dull.  There are seemingly endless lists of names – names of former kings who ruled over the land of Canaan, names of regions and cities, and names of the tribes of Israel who inherited land there.  At least in the first two categories, I find the names largely unpronounceable.  I muster through them as best I can and suspect I mispronounce them differently each time they are repeated.  And that’s when the thought emerges: these lists are boring, they have nothing to do with me, and I think I will close down the remaining Dry, parched desert groundchapters of this book and start reading somewhere else – anywhere else.  Surely God can’t expect me to get anything out of reading this stuff.

 

However, I do believe that God is not a God of fluff.  You can’t always trust human writers.  Maybe a publisher has told a prospective author that their book cannot be published unless it has so many pages or chapters.  So they throw in extraneous detail.  It would be easy to think that God is doing that in the latter chapters of Joshua or maybe to think that the information was only relevant to another people or another time.  On the contrary, I believe God has given us the whole Bible and expects that we read the whole Bible.  Once I gave a Bible as a gift.  Expecting that it might get tossed aside, I inserted bills of varied amounts within its pages.  I hoped that if it was read, the diligent reader would find the hidden treasure. Continue reading

The Lost Art of Letter Writing




I have a question for you: when was the last time you wrote a letter?  To clarify, signing your name to birthday or Christmas cards doesn’t count as “writing a letter”.  If you are like most of us, your pen has been replaced by a keyboard and you wouldn’t have a clue as to what a first class stamp costs these days.  You can send a series of texts blindfolded and if you are feeling particularly long-winded, you take a deep breath and pound out an email to communicate.

lake house mailboxSo, what’s the big deal?  Why even bother looking for some stationary, an envelope, a pen, and a stamp, when you can just pull your phone out of your pocket and send a tweet?

Here are just a few advantages of writing an old-fashioned letter:

  • It is more personal.  Not only are the words yours, but the style of writing and the form of the individual letters are unique to you.  I love looking at the variety of penmanship on the envelopes that come through my box.  Many times you can guess the age of the writer, just by looking at the way they write each letter.  Older adults are more likely to use cursive than younger people.  In fact, my son can barely read script because it is rarely used among his peers.  I, however, grew up in a time when proper handwriting was taught.  So, others who fall in my age group tend to have a similar form with slight variations learned when we were no longer under the threat of a ruler.
  • Not only is the handwriting more variable, but the card itself allows you to express your style.  I fondly recall people from whom I received frequent letters when I was a child and I can still bring up memories of the kind of paper they usually used.  I had a friend who easily wrote volumes – and she had tiny print!  Being economical, she started writing on onion skin paper.  This paper was durable, but very thin, allowing the writer to send more pages at the same postage rate.  My grandmother would often make her own cards.  She’d cut out pictures or press flowers to use as decorations.  Both the messages she expressed and the time she spent personalizing them made her letters very special to me.
  • Speaking of nostalgia, it is easier to save handwritten communiques.  Think of all the love letters from years past that are in trunks and attics with ribbons tied around them.  I do have special emails that I’ve saved in a folder on my phone, but I know they could be easily wiped out accidentally.
  • Not all communications are positive.  Who hasn’t written something in anger only to regret it later when they have time to cool off?  Both traditional and digital letters can get to a point of no return, but it more likely to happen when you can transmit a text or email in seconds.  A written letter usually has time to retrieve it before the mail carrier comes.stone mailbox
  • Stamps – I dare you to try to find a young child these days that has a stamp collection.  Do you remember writing a secret phrase that was hidden under the stamp on the card you sent to someone special?  Does it really mean you love your electric company if you accidentally place your stamp upside down (or that you’ve just misplaced your reading glasses)?
  • There’s something about opening your mailbox and finding a letter that you can hold in your hands.  I guess it’s like the difference between a book that has pages to turn and the new variety that has pages that need to be swiped.mail truck mailbox

Continue reading