Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 The Blessing Box and Do Good Journal

Pictured here are our two tools for 2015. The box is our Blessing Box. When joyful things happen, special moments or something that touches us, we are going to write it on a slip of paper and put it in this box. Then on December 31, 2015, we will open the box and read and reflect on the good things that happened this year.

The other is our Do Good Journal. This needs further explanation. The Bible tells us in many places to do good deeds. I didn't realize just how many times until I researched it. Here are some excerpts.

Hebrews 13:16 Doing good and sharing pleases God
Hebrews 10:24 to stir one another to love and do good works
Gal. 6:9 & 2 Thes. 3:13 Let us not grow weary of doing good
Titus 3:1 to be ready for every good work
Titus 3:8 Those who believe in God to be careful to devote themselves to good works
Ecc. 3:12 To do good as long as they live
James 2:17 Faith, by itself, if it does not have works is dead

But I also know that we are warned not to boast of our good works--"For by grace are you saved...not by works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 8,9). 

The idea of recording our good deeds was one of those remarks that I mentioned in passing like the time I said, "we should go to a different church every week for a year"--George liked it and we did it. When I mentioned recording all our good works, he said that we should.

This is not to brag and not to keep score. God knows the score and without him, we can't win.This is to be an encouragement for us to continue to do good works, to fill the book as much as we can but only with a joyful heart. Only we will read the contents of this journal so as not to boast. Hopefully this will nudge us when we are too caught up in our own world.

Although no one else will read this book, we hope that the actions recorded in this book will have brought light to the world.

Matthew 5: 15-16 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

These are our resolutions for the new year. I hope the box and book are overflowing by the end of the year.
Let 2015 begin. We are ready.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry ChrisTmas!

I imagine that I have grabbed your attention starting a Christmas newsletter with a picture of a hawk. I promise you, I’ll explain later.
This Christmas season our church’s theme was “Hope”. With all the horrific and sad news on TV this year, hope is something we all need. Hebrews 6:19 tells us that “We have hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  Being a lover of symbolism, I researched the anchor.
Christians of ancient times used secret symbols to identify themselves. Most of us know of the fish and the cross. The anchor was a Christian symbol of hope. Many have been found engraved in the cemeteries of Rome. It is interesting to note that the Greek word ankura for anchor resembled en kurio which meant “in the Lord”. Use of puns was common.  Some believe when Latin was chosen over Greek as their primary language, that the symbol of the anchor disappeared.
This anchor is from Thomas Vautorollier, a French printer and Hueguenot in the late 1500’s. Note the hand above the anchor reaching down from heaven.
I love the idea of an anchor. Who wants to set out on the mercy of the sea--a life adrift? When the seas are calm, we don’t think much about our anchor or where the waves will take us. It’s when the waves swell and the winds blow and the ride gets rough that we turn to our anchor to hold us fast. It was such a great hope and faith that inspired Horatio Spafford to pen that beautiful, touching hymn “It is Well with My Soul” after losing his four daughters. He had the assurance that they were resting in God’s arms and his faith sustained him through many hardships.
Now back to the hawk. One day I looked out my bedroom window and I saw this amazing bird sitting on a birch tree limb in the middle of my backyard. I love to take pictures and I wanted this badly. I had little faith that I would get outside in time and be able to sneak up on this bird. As I approached, I took a couple of pictures in case he flew away. He had his back to me and when I was lined up perfectly for this picture he turned and looked at me. He didn’t fly away startled as other birds do. It was a brief moment of acknowledgement and then spreading out his big wings wide and strong, he flew off into the woods. I was so grateful for this opportunity and I love this picture if I do say so myself.
Every day I look for his return hoping to see him again. This branch is the perfect location to survey the entire backyard for prey. I have never seen him again. I am grateful for the picture he allowed me to take.
This reminds me of hope for Christians.  I can hope and surmise that this hawk will return, but it’s a wavering hope. The branch remains empty, just as the cross is empty. As Christians, we have the hope as an anchor, firm and secure. We know that just as we celebrate Jesus birthday on Christmas, that He will return and he is faithful and just in his promise that one day we will not have the worries and pains of this world. So, Christmas is a time to celebrate God’s gift of hope that he gave to us on Christmas day in the form of a Savior, Jesus Christ.  May you know the true meaning of Christmas and your life be one full of hope.

Wrapping up our October jaunt: The Mohawk Trail

For old times sake, we drove to the Mohawk Trail. When I was growing up this was an annual trip during the beautiful autumn season to see the views. When my parents became grandparents, they often took our kids and they have fond memories of those trips too.

One of the biggest memories as a kid was the numerous gift shops that we stopped at on the way. My parents browsed in most of them and I would get some souvenirs, the most common one being a brown bag that was sealed so you couldn't see the contents but it said on the outside, "boy" or "girl". It was always a gamble what kind of toy you would get. I remember the aisles of the stores lined with moccasins, small log cabin houses that burned pine scented incense, beaded jewelry and knick knacks that said, "Mohawk Trail" or had some American Native theme.

There was another store that had animals to feed outside. Some had teepees or statues of Indians or wildlife to take your picture with. One had a wide wooden tower that you could climb the stairs to get a better view. Then there was the famous hairpin turn. It was all a unique experience that our family enjoyed.

It was sad to see many ghost-town like motels and gift shops, abandoned. Only a couple of shops remain. The wooden tower is there, but not in use--remnants of it's hey day, a time when I'm sure many families like ours took an annual trek. This served as a reminder that nothing is forever and to enjoy your moments and savor the memories you were able to make. Just as Mom is gone, so are some of the things that we enjoyed together. It was a bitter sweet experience being there again.

Off of the Mohawk Trail, we often stopped at Shelburne Falls, MA to see the glacial pot holes and the Bridge of Flowers. We were surprised that the bridge still had some beautiful flowers even though it was so late in the season. I imagine that in season it is beautiful, perhaps the only thing along the trail that has not deteriorated but continues to flourish. For that I am grateful.



Our October jaunt continued

We enjoy going up to Weston,Vermont every couple of years to visit the Vermont Country Store. I say visit because we love looking at all the unusual items, many which are blasts from the past. Some would be fun to buy, but most we just don't want to spend the price. So, it's more a window shopping experience, but still fun. And sometimes we do buy a little something.

If you go to the this store, you must also go to the store across the street who claims to be older than the Vermont Country Store and although it is smaller, I found a couple of the same items a little cheaper and their prices in general were a little more tolerable for us. Also of note, their fudge was delicious and weary travelers can have a cheap little bag of popcorn too which was  a good tied over for us.
From there we took a nice ride up Mount Greylock. Although a cold and dreary day, it still was beautiful.


I took this on the Appalachian Trail, so I have proof that I hiked the Appalachian Trail. (Okay, not the whole thing. Okay, maybe just a few yards--but I also did part in Connecticut too.)

The roof is of a shelter for hikers on the Appalachian Trail. I have seen other shelters on the trail in other states that are just lean-to's but this was a nicer shelter.

Another day of our travels we went to North Adams, MA. This is the former railroad yard that has been transformed into several buildings, one of which a restaurant where we had a nice lunch. The building with the flags in front is the Heritage State Park Museum. There we saw an interesting video and displays about the Hoosac Tunnel. This 4.75 miles of tunnel took 25 years to build and 200 men lost their lives building it. It connects Mass. to Albany, NY. Evidently the train still uses it but there is no way to go see the tunnel except for taking the train.

For our final day, I will make a separate post. Stay tuned.