Tuesday, December 16, 2014

10 Ways to Reach Out to a Family with Chronic Illness

“Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

Christians are called to bear one another’s burdens, but when people have burdens that we do not understand it can be difficult to know how to fulfill this calling. A debilitating chronic illness is one of these difficult burdens.

Perhaps you know people who are affected by chronic illness and you would like to help them bear that burden, but aren't sure what to do. You are invited to join me today on the Awana Life Threads blog where I am sharing about 10 Ways to Reach Out to a Family with Chronic Illness.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Third Sunday of Advent

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 
Luke 2:1-7
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 
John 1:1-14

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Wonder...

As a child I loved to play with our family's nativity scene during the Christmas season. After I finished playing, I would set everything back in the stable in the way I imagined it would have been on that first Christmas night. I made sure that Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and even the animals, were all crowded around the manger so that they could be as close as possible to baby Jesus. When I arrange our nativity scene today, I still crowd all of the people and animals around baby Jesus. 

I wish I could peek into the stable on that first Christmas night. I wonder what it would have been like...

I wonder... 

Did the animals crowd close to the manger to see baby Jesus? Did they know that something special was happening? Did they know that their Maker was right there in the stable with them?

Were Mary and Joseph able to sleep that night? Or did the wonder of having the Son of God in their arms keep them awake in amazement and delight?

Did the shepherds crowd close to the manger? Or did they stand back in reverential awe?

I wonder... 

What were the angels thinking as they saw their God in the manger? Were they watching in amazement as the mystery of God's plan of salvation began to unfold before their eyes? If we could see the spiritual realm in the stable on that first Christmas, would we see angels crowded around the manger, along with the shepherds, to catch a glimpse of their God as a baby?

What were Satan and his demons doing? Did they know that God had come to earth? Did they shriek in terror when He was born? Or did they cower in fear, unable to make a sound for the knowing that their doom was coming?

I wonder... 

Were the Old Testament saints watching from Heaven as the angel announced the birth of Christ? Did they sing along with the angels in praise to God? Did they gaze in awe at the baby in the stable, thrilled that God's promise to send a Savior was being fulfilled?

I wonder... 

What was it like that first Christmas night? I wonder...how could God love me, a sinner, so much that He would come to earth to save me from my sin?

I wonder, and I stand in amazement of His great love and mercy.

*This is a re-make of a post from December 2012.*

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Second Sunday of Advent

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 
Isaiah 7:14 

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. 
Luke 1:26-38 

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
       and they shall call his name Immanuel” 
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. 
Matthew 1:18-25

Friday, December 5, 2014

German Christmas Cookies

German Pyramide and German Christmas cookies

When my parents were visiting recently, my dad taught me to make Spekulatien using his family's recipe. I have always enjoyed baking, and it was especially fun to learn to make German Christmas cookies using a family recipe.

Baking with my dad

If you look up "Spekulatien" on the internet, you will most often see it called "Spekulatius." My dad's family always called it "Spekulatien" because that is the plural of the word "Spekulatius," and they always wanted more than one Spekulatius! I grew up calling it "Spekulatien," and I never knew until last week that not everyone calls it that!

Spekulatien board

Spekulatien is traditionally made using a wooden mold. After pressing the dough into the mold, you have to bang the mold on the table so that the cookies will fall out. My parents knew that the noise of banging a Spekulatien board would be too much for me because of my chronic migraines, so they gave me a Spekulatien roller!

Rolling Spekulatien

After rolling out the dough with a regular rolling pin, the Spekulatien roller was used to imprint and cut out the Spekulatien shapes. It was a nice and quiet process.

Spekulatien imprint on dough


transferring Spekulatien

Carefully transferring cookies to the cookie sheet

Spekulatien on baking sheet

Ready for baking!

Spekulatien cooling

Spekulatien fresh from the oven

making Lebkuchen

Later on that same day we made Lebkuchen, another type of German Christmas cookie. Adelaide had so much fun helping us. She loves to bake anything with me.

I don't have my Oma's recipe for Lebkuchen, so I used this recipe. It is delicious! I have found that it takes about 1 cup more flour than the recipe calls for. I also add a glaze to the cookies when the come out of the oven. 



Lebkuchen and Spekulatien

Lebkuchen and Spekulatien

What is your favorite thing to bake during the Christmas season? 
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