Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Invitation to Advent

I would like to invite you to join me at my blog entitled MY LITTLE CHRISTMAS BLOG beginning December 1st. It's my way of offering to you my version of an advent calendar, filled with daily devotions, Christmas music, recipes, Christmas film clips, a holiday movie poll, Lots of links and trivia, and if you scroll to the bottom, you can watch my all-time favorite movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" in it's entirety! Just click on the title above!

May you enjoy counting down the days with me!


Dandy Dozen Christmas Movies

I am a Christmas movie freak. I unabashedly LOVE Christmas movies. There’s nothing like snuggling up on the couch, grabbing a bowl of (air-popped) popcorn (hold the butter and salt, please), and getting all sloppy and sentimental. I admit, I can sing along to any of the songs on Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (… with razzleberry dressing…). I feast my eyes, ears, and soul and just lose myself in the classics. I become 8 years old again whenever Rudolph is on, and I want to hug the humble bumble before I die.

Now I know these are fantasy escapes, and there’s usually no way to solve all the relationship and world problems within a two-hour time span. But watching George search for Mary, and hearing a bell ring knowing somewhere an angel got her wings, always chokes me up. What can I say? and who doesn't need a bit of an escape during the stress of holiday preparations?? I just love watching all the classic TV specials (Rudolph, Frosty, Jack Frost, Rudolph's Happy New Year... the list is endless).

So, here are my top 12, dandy dozen favorite Christmas movies of all times (in order). Always get the original black and white versions if possible!!! During the course of the next month, may I suggest you exercise your sloppy sentimental muscles, get together with family and friends, and watch a few? There’s sure to give you a case of the warm fuzzies! I hope this list will take you down a happy holiday memory lane walk! I would love to hear your comments as to your favorite holiday movies or TV shows, or if you have a favorite memory with one of the movies I mentioned!!!


1) It’s a Wonderful Life – we all have probably seen this one. George Bailey learns what it’s like if he’d never been born. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are great together! I even have the soundtrack!

2) A Christmas Carol – must be the one with Alistair Sim as Scrooge. Others are good, but this tops them all.

3) Miracle on 34th Street – again, must get the B/W original with Edmund Gwynne and Natalie Wood as Susan.

4) White Christmas – A staple for the holidays – love Rosemary Clooney’s dress and performance in the torch song “Love, You Didn’t Do Right by Me”.

5) The Bishop’s Wife – Now don’t get me wrong, I also can watch Denzel and Whitney in the remake over and over, but there just ain’t nobody like Cary Grant!

6) Christmas in Connecticut – Move over Martha Stewart! The premise here is that Barbara Stanwyck is the ULTIMATE homemaker/wife/mother writing a column each month for a women’s’ magazine – only to find out she can’t even cook. Then she has to host a veteran for Christmas dinner, and it’s hysterical what happens next.

7) Heidi – I have been watching Shirley Temple’s classic for years and years, and it just gets better each time.

8) Come to the Stable – a little known classic Christmas movie with Loretta Young (from the Bishop’s Wife) and Celeste Holm (the original Philadelphia Story, All About Eve) as nuns. I actually had the joy of meeting Celeste Holm once – I gushed like a teenager!

9) Mr. Magoo’s Christmas – I grew up with Mr. Magoo cartoons, and this wasn’t shown for years on regular television. When it finally came out on videotape I was overjoyed. It just wasn't Christmas without it!

10) March of the Wooden Soldiers – I can remember being a little girl, decorating the Christmas tree in my grandparent’s home, and watching this on television. It always makes me want to buy tinsel and hang it on the tree – I usually put this one on when… yep… I decorate our tree!

11) A Christmas Story – my favorite character is the father played to perfection by Darrin McGavin, and the FRAGILE line still doubles me over with laughter.

12) A Charlie Brown Christmas – I have worn out a CD playing the soundtrack over and over every holiday season. You have a stake of holly in your heart if you aren’t moved by Charlie and his little tree. This is a theological wonder – listen closely as Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas!

TV Specials Honorable mention:

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas – back in the 70’s HBO put this “muppet-y” Christmas special out, and it is just so sweet. Unfortunately, it’s fairly expensive to get now, so be sure to see if you can find it on YouTube or borrow a copy. A real cuddle fest.

The Spirit of Christmas - if you grew up in the Philadelphia area in the 60's, chances are you saw this growing up. It was originally a half-hour Christmas special put on by Bell Telephone, and features the Mabel Beaton marionettes. There are two segments - the first is the retelling of "The Night Before Christmas", and the second is the telling of the nativity (in the Bible, Luke 2:1-20). It is simple and so beautiful.

The Snowman - narrated by David Bowie, this animated Academy-Awarded nominated short film is a charming tale of a young English boy who finds his snowman has come to life, and takes him on an overnight adventure. The illustrations and soundtrack are gentle and beautiful.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turn Up the Heat

Isaiah 58:11 NASB
""And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail."

Anger and pain are often associated with feelings and adjectives associated with heat. When a personal or business relationship fails, you may feel as if you’ve been “burned”. Your face may flush red with heat when you are angry, probably the origin of the term “hot head” for someone who is mad. If someone infuriates you, they may “burn you up”. When your heart is broken, you may think that it has been seared and you might never survive the scars to love again. Another phrase that comes to mind when we are bone-tired and weary is “burned out”.

Our God knows our pain. He understands.

Recently while reading Isaiah 58:11 I was struck by the promise that God will satisfy my desire in scorched places and give strength to my bones. In the original Hebrew, the word scorched is also translated as parched land or drought. And yet the primitive root of that word is a verb that means to be dazzling, aglow. In Ezekiel 37 the Lord brings dry bones back to life, which ties into His promise here in Isaiah to give strength to your bones.

There have been times when I have been burned, seared, and burned out… where my heart was numb and my bones were weary unto death… and God was there. In the midst of it, even as I was “going through the fire”, He never left my side. He has been faithful, and taken me through it – not out of it – but through it. Instead of allowing me to hide or self-medicate to deaden the pain, He held me while together we sat with the pain. It taught me lessons I never could have learned in a textbook, and has made me stronger. Since then I can honestly say my heart has been reignited with life by His love for me – He never let the spark die. And while I am sure there will be times ahead where I will again have to “walk through the fire”, I can be assured and at peace because His promises do not fail, and He remains faithful to His Word… and His love truly endures forever.

I have learned that if He calls us to the scorching place, it is only to purify us as gold, to teach us, and to make us more into His likeness.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Taking Care of the Temple!

I have embarked on a new fitness regime, because I’m training for kettlebell certification in late January of 2012. I have been watching some of the other female trainers as they did their certification training, and they went from good bodies to GREAT bodies! Tight, lean and amazing. I am also going to begin training for Pilates Reformer certification about the same time, so I need to commit to getting very serious about my workout, my nutrition, and focusing on the goal. Pray for me!!!!!

To that end, I will be keeping you posted on what’s happening with me, and sharing details about the workout, the nutrition, and the development.

I write this to encourage you to begin a program for yourself. Perhaps you already have a regular workout and fitness routine, and you just would like to take it to the next level. Or maybe you have been playing with the idea of starting a workout, but haven’t had the motivation to get it into gear yet.

Okay, wild women, it’s time – let’s do this together. Tell me about your routine, send pix, and let’s do this as a group! It would be fun to run this race together and encourage one another along as we progress. Join me!

Get those gotta do it muscles of determination and motivation flexin’!!!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review - Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clairmont

While I purchased and read this book via Kindle, I am going to purchase it as a hard copy as well, and it will be under the Christmas trees of several of my friends. While I have always appreciated Patsy Clairmont's writing and speaking as one of the founders of the Women of Faith, and her wacky and hiliarous sense of humor, this book showed me a whole different side of her. I loved the way she opened the world of her readers by introducing them to beautiful words of art and thought-provoking literature and poetry. It's as if I had a friend come along side me and take me to museuems and libraries and open my world. It was a wonderful journey, and I hated to see it end on the last page! Get the book - it's a real blessing!

God is Love -- And He Loves Everyone

Today, with the permission of the author, I am sharing Pam's post entitled "God is Love -- And He Loves Everyone". She is spot-on, and I felt it was a message that needed to be heard by us all. Pam is a gifted writer, dear friend and fellow Christ-follower, and I encourage you to subscribe to her blog (click on the title to get there) In The Shadow of His Wings. (Note - you will need to go to her website to view the vidow she speaks of in the post.)

Be blessed, as I was, as you read:

I normally don’t take on writing about any subject or person that is considered to be controversial. I try my best to be the peacekeeper in my world, and like Rex the Dinosaur says in ‘Toy Story,’ “I don’t like confrontations!” However, I get the feeling that with this post, I may ruffle some feathers. Or perhaps not. We’ll see.

The other day, I came across a video posted by my friend, Curt Leininger, on his ‘Created For Blessing’ blog (please scoot over to My Blog List and you’ll find the link to his site). Curt was once my church’s youth pastor and is now the Pastor of Discipleship at a church up in Wyckoff, New Jersey.

To me, Curt has some very different and quite eclectic taste in music, so when I saw his post called ‘Sunday Afternoon Music Video,’ I figured it would be some way cool or deeply thought provoking tune by some indie artist or band I’d never heard of and my interest was piqued.

What I found was a very basic, simplistic, almost childlike musical offering by a band I actually DO know (thanks to my buddy, TJ), called Gungor. The song, which is several years old, is called, ‘White Man,’ and while the lyrics are again -- basic, simplistic and almost childlike -- they are at the same time, to me, profound and true.

And way cool. And deeply thought provoking. I guess two out of three ain’t bad.

The video was put together by a community of artists called ‘The Work of The People.’ It is also very basic with it’s childlike drawings and I must admit, kind of bizarre. I’m sure that for as many different people who view it, there will be that many different reactions/responses. Some may get a kick out of the video, yet totally get the gist of the chorus -- that God is Love and He loves everyone.

Others may not only find the visuals lame, overtly cutsie-pie and silly, ridiculous, somewhat irreverent and offensive, but the lyrics as well -- again, that God is Love and He loves everyone.


Everyone meaning, as the song states:

Atheists and
Charlatans and
Communists and
Lesbians and
Even old Pat Robertson

Catholic or
Protestant or
Terrorists or
Ok, hold on for a minute there. Really? I’m sure there are people reading this now that may not even stick around to view the video and listen to the lyrics after looking over the list of groups referenced. People who may see themselves in that list (or not) and possibly be:
Irritated or
(e) all of the above

I can’t say that I blame you. Atheists and Lesbians and Terrorists. Oh my.

But -- let’s keep a few things in mind. Mainly, what it says in God’s Word.

First, though, I’m going to back up a bit. Back in September, a young missionary couple from my church sent out their newsletter via email. In it, they mentioned being burdened for people in the Muslim world and then they made this statement:

When Osama Bin Laden was killed, Bill and I truly mourned. We know this was a man who wronged our country immensely, but he was also a man who was spiritually held captive by a religion that led him into darkness. On the day he died, it felt like Satan had won the victory in the fight for his soul.

Apparently, they received some pretty negative feedback from some recipients of their newsletter (whom I’m assuming are mostly Christian) because of that comment and, the very next day, had to send out another email to clarify just exactly what they meant by their stating that they ‘truly mourned’ when Bin Laden was killed. Personally, I kind of thought it was a shame this couple had to do this. Because their saying that Bin Laden was a man who’d been held captive spiritually and led into darkness by his religion, and that they felt that Satan had come out victorious in the fight for his soul seemed to be quite enough of a clarification right there.

And yet, isn’t that what’s going on here anyway? Meaning that Satan, the enemy, has been and continues to be at war for our souls. The souls of everyone. The souls of those who were/are

The souls of folks like

Adolph Hitler
Karl Marx
Rock Hudson
Charles Ponzi
Osama Bin Laden

Stephen Hawkings
Marilyn Manson
Ellen DeGeneres
Chaz Bono
Bernard Madoff
While not everyone in the world can be called ‘children of God,’ they are still His creations. Don’t you think God’s heart aches for those who choose to turn from Him and want nothing to do with Him, those who, for whatever reason, choose the wide path instead of the narrow one? And if we call ourselves followers of Christ, then our hearts should be heavy for those who have chosen the darkness instead of the Light, continually praying for their change of heart, recompense and a receiving of forgiveness, mercy and grace for them right up until the end, and mourning when they choose to remain held captive by the enemy.

So, back to what to keep in mind if you choose to view and listen to this video. And that is, what it says in the Bible, the very Word of God:

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” ~ Matthew 9:11-13 (NIV)

And we can see that it was while we were powerless to help ourselves that Christ died for sinful men. In human experience it is a rare thing for one man to give his life for another, even if the latter be a good man, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:6-8, (J.B. Phillips NT) 

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know Him if you don't love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent His only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God. ~ 1 John 4:7-12, (The Message)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9, (ESV)

Believe me when I say that I’m not looking to offend anyone or to tick anybody off with this post. I just want to share that, because of this simple song, I’ve been reminded yet again that we are called not to love the sin…but to love the sinner. We are called to point those hard to deal with, hard to understand, hard to accept, hard to forgive, hard to look at, hard to listen to and speak with, hard to LOVE people to the One Who gave His One and Only Son for them.

Because God is love. And He loves everyone.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us…”

In Ephesians 3:20, we are told that the Lord is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. The words FAR MORE ABUNDANTLY in Greek are “huperekeina” (5238), and mean beyond – in one of the notes I read it means “the regions lying beyond the country of one’s residence.”

Come with me for a moment to someplace you know where you can see – someplace scenic, where the view goes on for miles and miles. Maybe for you it’s a mountaintop, or the top floor of a skyscraper, or standing at the ocean’s edge, staring out into the blue-grey horizon where the water meets the sky. That doesn’t even begin to encompass FAR MORE ABUNDANTLY. In the best view to our natural eye, we certainly can’t see the regions lying beyond the country of our residence. Even if you go on the internet and are able to find the site where you can see the earth from some satellite, you still can’t see beyond the regions lying beyond the country of our residence – because this is not our home, our residence is in Heaven. (Hebrews 11:13, 1 Peter 2:11, John 18:36). There’s a song entitled “This World is Not My Home” and the beginning says, “This world is not my home, I'm just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.”

We can be very short-sighted sometimes, especially when we’re hurting or waiting on God. We want what we want when we want it! We get an idea in our head/heart that this person, this possession, this job - whatever it is that we’re clinging to so hard – is exactly what we need in our lives. It becomes our focus, that which we dwell upon and on which spend our time, energy and resources as we pursue it wholeheartedly. Just like in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it becomes our “Precious”. We are taking our “Precious” and looking at it so closely, obsessing over it until it blocks out everything else from our spiritual sight… including all that God wants to give us.

It’s time to stop. It’s time to close our eyes and open our hands and let go of our “Precious”. As you kneel before the Lord, ask Him to forgive your short-sightedness (and short-heartedness), and to give you Jesus eyes to see His vision for you. As you hear the clatter and thud of your will/wants, your “Precious” tumbling out of your possession, open your eyes – to His FAR MORE ABUNDANTLY. We are unable to imagine/visualize or wrap our minds around all He wants to give to us, all He has in store for us, if we will but surrender our wills to Him. His dreams are bigger, and better, His plans more glorious and grand that we can even dare imagine for ourselves.

Let go. Place your heart and your life in His hands, and give Him authority over all you ask or think, over your plans and dreams.

Look and live BEYOND.

This World is Not My Home - Words and Music by Albert E. Brumley, © 1965 - Albert E. Brumley & Sons, All Rights Reserved

Greek definitions from