Friday, December 9, 2011

I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day


We are joyously singing Christmas carols again this year. My ipod is chocked full of music and I keep it playing all day long. It has occured to me this year that God has protected the theology throughout the generations in these most beloved hymns. Delight your heart for a moment on some of these you're sure to recognize.
"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!"
"Yea Lord, we greet Thee. Born this happy morning!"
"O Come to us, Abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel."
"Thou didst leave Thy throne, and Thy kingly crown, when Thou camest to earth for me."
"Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing."
"Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see."
"Pleased as man, with men to dwell. Jesus, our Emmanuel!"

My favorite carol is "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day". It was originally a poem with 7 stanzas bemoaning his sadness at the state of the world. America was in the midst of Civil War. Longfellow's wife Fanny had tragically died in a fire, and he felt no peace at Christmas. Of course, the best is usually the last. Don't miss the significant last stanza which places all hope in God's Sovereign control. Hallellujah!

"Christmas Bells"
(The original poem, complete with all seven stanzas)

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

In Memory

Mandy the Beloved Alaskan Husky

We just lost a little bit of our hearts with the loss of Joseph's dog Mandy May.
Mandy's Motto for Life: Play Hard, Eat Hardy, Love Everyone, When No One Is Looking Chew It Up, Go After All Animals...Especially Skunks, Run Like The Wind...

Friday, December 2, 2011

God in a Manger

As the season progresses, may we consider the life changing truth of God coming down to earth to be born, live, die, and resurrect. Oh that my heart would be joyful as I contemplate his birth. The birth of Jesus...had to happen because of an ugly thing. Sin.

“In other words, He has blessed the world...the world of sinful men with His kindness and His favor. It is God who has provided all the food the sinner eats. Every delicacy, every taste you enjoy, every beautiful scene you've ever seen, every good feeling you've ever felt God gave you that. It is God who has granted every beauty, it is God who has given wisdom to our minds, coordination to our bodies, to allow us to think and to feel and to work and to play and to rest that life might be full and useful. It is God who made love. It is God who made laughter. It is God, of course, who gives us joys in life, little children, friends. It is God who gives each man the special skill, each woman the special ability that makes him and her who they are and no one else. And by which they excel in some very special way and thus no self-respect and self-worth. It is God who made man to have a basic care for himself and each other so that life is filled with those kinds of good things that we all enjoy. It is God who preserves us from getting every disease and dying every death. God literally surrounds the ungrateful sinner with His providential care and when we continue in sin, we defy that goodness and we express ingratitude for that kindness.” John MacArthur 1984

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

A New Old Song For Nate

Micah 6:8
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what the Lord requires of you, but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Thy God."

Recently, Nate discovered this verse in the melody we used to sing it to. He was enthralled with it. Quickly, he ran and found his Bible, turned to the verse, and wanted the "girls" to echo him. We did our best. My heart was thrilled!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lovely Autumn

I love fall. In Minnesota, fall meant trees painted in lovely reds, oranges, and yellows...simply breathtaking. In Iowa, fall meant nippy mornings and searching for mittens in the bottom of drawers. In Montana, fall meant brown, dry wheat fields and dropping temperatures. In Arizona, fall meant...hmmm....not much. In Wisconsin, fall meant simply delightful times picking apples in Bayfield and watching the parade march down main street with Lake Superior glittering in the frosty air as a backdrop. Somewhere in my memory, I see Mary Beth marching with her little bitty violin and Kip following along as chaperon. In northern Texas, fall meant days at the park with 4 little ones and a much desired change in weather. In Montana again, fall meant beautifully decorated lawns and fall dances. In Alaska, fall meant the short summer was gone and winter would be here tomorrow. The fireweed was gone, and the mountains were white. It meant get prepared ASAP! Now in southern Texas, fall means joy, beauty, a second chance to grow something in my garden, dogs running around in ecstasy and growling their happiness to me every time I walk outside. It means I reminisce the past and honestly I do miss the beauty of the north. Thank-you Lord for this exquisite and delicious day.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

At Home With My Own Heart

"Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied." Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1859

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Selfishness of Unforgiveness

Another distinct characterization of unforgiveness that I have had to deal with in my own life is to open my eyes to the realization that unforgiveness is just down right selfish. I can just hear the little Vege Tales character saying, "You are sooooooooo selfish!" Yep, that's me. Selfish!
My natural sinful state makes me prone to prideful self arrogance that is easily angered and certainly does not want to forgive. "How could anyone offend such a great person such as I?" But, that isn't where we as Believers in Jesus have to live is it?
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:30-32
Oh for the faith and courage to live in this world taking on a spirit of humility and self sacrifice. Then, when the offenses come, they go in one ear and out the other...hardly significant enough to think about.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Scarecrow For Betty

September in the Hill Country has been beautiful. Along with cooler temps, some rain, soccer, changing leaves, and the exotic aroma of pumpkin bars wafting through the house it is also my mother in laws birthday. Every year I work hard to find her something that will truly surprise her. This year it is a scarecrow. She lives in Minnesota where the air is crisp and delicious in September. Hopefully, "Scarecrow Joe" will find a happy place to sit out the autumn at her house. Happy Birthday Betty!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Choosing to Forgive

A biblical doctrine of forgiveness begins with the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill" Exodus 20:13. Sounds harsh doesn't it? Embracing solid doctrine can be harsh. It often separates me from the world. Sometimes it separates me from my peers or family. Even more important though, it changes my life, and it brings me closer to the One who loves me beyond my wildest imagination.
"Thou shalt not kill" means of course we are not to murder. We are also not to entertain any of the thoughts that partner up with murderous thoughts. Things such as: "She makes me so angry!" "I was happy until she showed up!" "I hate her!" etc. Though we might say something like that, most of us would never think they were murderous thoughts would we? They are. Given enough time and sin these thoughts would brew into a poisonous concoction of hate, evil, and murder.
The good news is that we don't have to give in! Thank-you Lord for your Holy Spirit who tells me how to think about others who've wronged me or even wronged my loved ones. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourself. So, what does that look like?
I think one particularly helpful thing for me to focus on is to see the offender as made in the image of God. I can love her/him for the precious creation they are. Obviously, a believer bears the holiness of God imparted to them at salvation. But, even the unbeliever bears something of the image of God. The God of all creation designed her, created her, and has a purpose for her life. I can respect that in the offender and love her.
Lastly, I have a hard time believing someone else couldn't forgive me don't I? I mean I respect myself, don't harbor grudges against myself, love myself, and desire God's best for myself. I seek to see the image of God in myself. Therefore, I can do the same for others. I choose to respect them, not harbor grudges, love them, and desire God's best for them.
What freedom! Thank-you Lord!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Country House

"Every man, though he were born
In the very belfry of Bow
And spent his infancy climbing among the chimneys,
He has waiting for him somewhere a country house
Which he has never seen,
But which was built for him
In the shape of his soul.
It stands patiently waiting to be found;
And when the man sees it he remembers it,
Though he has never seen it before.

"The Surrender of a Cockney" an essay by G.K. Chesterton (1974-1936)
Thank-you Lord for bringing me to the house in the shape of my soul.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Am I a Pistol Packin' Mama?

A few years ago, I took a concealed weapons class with my husband. We had fun taking the class together. The first day was all lecture and the second day was at a shooting range. I wasn't comfortable with the shooting range. I had to wield the pistol for about 6 hours and follow every command I was given.
I passed the course and received my permit. But in the days ahead, I realized something important. In order to be proficient with that pistol, I needed to practice. Daily practice handling a handgun was just not on my list of "to-doe's". I soon came to the realization that I was more of a menace to myself and everyone else than I was helpful. It isn't a good feeling knowing how to use that pistol, but not really being very good at it.
It's kind of like dealing with others when they have wronged me. Taking it upon myself to bring "justice" when I have decided injustice has reigned. There is a better way.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:14, 19 to "Bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not. Never take revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God. For it is written, vengeance is mine. I will repay says the Lord."
When I don't forgive, when I harbor anger, hostility and bitterness, I am presuming to take the Lord's sword of divine judgement into my feeble hands. On second thought, I don't want that sword.
He isn't indifferent or slow to act. He has a plan to work all things out for my good (Romans 8:28-29). Isn't it a true fact that God is far better able to deal with the offender than I am? He is far better able to deal with consequences to sin than I am. After all, he sees the bigger picture...I am limited. He is the highest authority...I have no authority. He is impartial and just...I am partially selfish. He is eternal...I am focused on today.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, it is my responsibility to choose forgiveness when another has offended me. I can leave vengeance in the hands of Lord.

Friday, September 9, 2011

How's My Heart?

Thomas Watson: "We need not climb up into heaven to see whether our sins are forgiven. Let us look into our hearts and see if we can forgive others. If we can, we need not doubt that God has forgiven us."
This thing of forgiving is difficult for us women. It didn't take long for me as a mother to see the difference between my sons and daughters when they were in the midst of a spat. The girls were challenged with deep hurt, bitterness, and grudges. the boys usually whopped the provoker once and then declared themselves best friends. Oh, for the grace to forgive like my boys do!
So girls, we must admit how hard forgiveness is for us. We remember, re-live, and play the drama over and over. All to our shame. Let us learn to extend Jesus' sweet grace and forgiveness toward those who have wronged us. Let us not be concerned at all with "the deed", but be concerned with our sweet response. God's glory is all that matters here and in eternity.
We can forgive because we are forgiven! Hallelujah!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Texas Drought

Survivors of the hottest dryest summer on record in Texas.
These brave children are fighting most temptations to complain.
Here they are pictured attempting to play outside!
l to r: Elsa Rose (2), Gabe (4), Mikey (6), and Nate (9).
Way to go Texans!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Forgiving My Debtors

The Lord's prayer in Matthew 6 reminds us to "forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." These "debts" are sins toward God that I owe because I have violated His laws. In showing us how to pray, Jesus wanted us to know that we are to forgive always, everytime, no matter what. Why? Because we have been forgiven the greater debt. Our debt toward a pure and holy God is hugely more serious than my fellow man's debt toward me because I'm not pure or holy. The words immediately following the prayer in chapter 6 reiterate the meaning. "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Now, we can know that God does not withdraw our justification if we live in unforgiveness (John 5:24, Romans 8:1, Eph. 1:7), but our feet aren't washed. Remember Peter and his dirty feet? Jesus told Peter he didn't need his entire body washed but only his feet. Peter's dirty feet are symbolic of the daily defilement that grinds into our soul's in this sin stricken body and in this sin stained world. I'd like clean feet I think. We must forgive over and over and over and over and over...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake

This cake is fast becoming my favorite cake to make for birthdays. I made it in February for Mary Beth's birthday using strawberries and in August for Charity's birthday using raspberries. The raspberries were our favorite. I also add a tsp of almond extract to the icing just because we like it. Any flavor would be acceptable. The stems and leaves are easily piped on with Wilton's kelly green decorator's icing from the grocery store and a thin writing tip. Also, use good chocolate for the cocoa and chocolate chips...always worth it! Bon Appetite!
Chocolate Raspberry Cake
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cocoa
Blend the above ingredients well by hand. Make 3 holes in batter. In the first hole, put flavoring (vanilla, almond, coconut etc.), in the second hole put 2 Tbls. white vinegar, and in the third hole put 3/4 cup canola oil. Pour 2 cups ice cold water over all. Mix until well blended by hand. There is a chemical reaction which happens with the process of mixing that makes this crazy cake taste so crazy good. Don't skip the hand mixing, and fill all the holes as quickly as possible. Prepare a 9 x 12" pan or 2 8-9" circle pans for layering (my favorite) and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
6 Tbls. butter
6 Tbls. milk
1.5 cups sugar
Bring above ingredients to a boil in shallow pan. Boil one minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Beat until melted. Let icing cool until it's of spreading consistency. I usually "pour" it on halfway between hot and completely cool. It almost has a fudge taste. mmmmmmmm :)

More Like Christ

When harsh experiences come our way in the form of gossip, slander, lost reputation, lies, etc. it is challenging to be a forgiving person. "What did I do to deserve this?" There is a better way. There is a higher road we must walk. Christ was slandered. He was wrongly accused. His reputation as a good teacher was lost. Lies surrounding the Son of God swirled through the houses and synagogues. He knew the sting of cursing words and hiss of vile gossip. Did He give in to defeat? No. He took up the cross and marched to calvary. He made a way for you and I to be forgiven! Because we are forgiven...we are free. Free to forgive. We are NEVER more like Christ than when we forgive!
Ephesians 4:32, 5:1
"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Learning to Forgive

You would think that after being a Believer of Christ for 40 something years I would have this forgiveness thing down. But I don't. In fact, over the past year I have run into several situations that have driven me once again to the foot of the cross crying, "Help me Lord! I don't know how to do this!" And once again, our good Lord has given me teaching, direction, wisdom, faith to forgive. Seventy times 7 is just a whole lot of forgiving. In reality, it's so much forgiving that I can never find myself at the end.
So, after a very long absence on this very lonely blog I am back. In the days ahead I will share how I have grown in my forgiveness to look more like the Christ who forgave me.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Passing on the Love . . .

Some may call it foolishness, but the way of the Norwegian is to pass on their traditions. Good traditions. After a hard morning of gardening with their Auntie Ticky, our half Mexican Norwegians enjoyed one of the best Jacobson traditions - taking a coffee break. Here's the littlest of the bunch chugging down her drink.

and here's the other two rascals.

They greatly enjoyed their children's Lattes.

To make one yourself, follow the recipe:
1 Tablespoon coffee syrup (we used caramel)
4 ounces warm milk
2 Tablespoons regular coffee

First, you must warm the milk up in the microwave to a mildly hot temperature that the kids can stand. Then add the syrup and coffee and give it a quick stir.

That's it! Quick and easy and they feel so grown up!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Growing Old

Not many people can get me to think, "I wanna be old!" I recently had to read an article on retiremnt for my Resource Management for the Aging class. I chose a article by John Piper called Rethinking Retirement. This book/pamphlet/article was super encouraging and inspirational to me. Makes me wish I'd die a martyr. Also makes me want to live life 100% for God. You've got to read this though. Ok, gotta get back to passionately pursuing my homework for the glory of God!