Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent Calendar

I've wanted an advent calendar for years.  More than one that just opens a window with a (usually not very good) chocolate in it.  At Christmas time, I want to be focused on Christ.  It's hard, with everything else going on.  I also want to have time to relax and enjoy the season, even if it's just for a short period every day.  So, I decided to take matters into my own hands, combine these things and make my own!  Each day, starting with December 1st, has a scripture to read relating to the birth of Christ as well as a fun activity for the hubs and I to do together.  Some are as simple as giving each other a compliment, there are several days that call for us to perform a "random act of kindness,"  nights to read a christmas book together or watch a christmas movie, (days I pick versus Aaron picking are clearly defined so as to avoid arguments confusion) a night to go look at christmas lights, a night of video games, a candlelight dinner...and of course a night to go get peppermint chocolate chip shakes from Chick-fil-a!  There are also little goodies in there for us to enjoy.  The point is to make it all special.
If you are interested in making your own advent calendar with scripture, I found the scripture plan here.  No need to reinvent the wheel right?!  We have enough to do!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


  I'm posting about being thankful on Thanksgiving Day.  Shocker, right?  Well, maybe not to you, but to me it kinda is.  This year could very easily be summed up by Charles Dickens, "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times."  We have had some hard times, and dreams lost.  The fact that "best of times" made it on the slogan for the year is nothing short of a miracle from God.  And, the fact that I am actually filled to the brim, overflowing with thankfulness today is also nothing short of a blessing and miracle work in my heart from God.

 This year could have been isolating and, honestly, there were days when I felt like my future would be very lonely.  So, smile with me please as I show you the blessings I am so thankful for this year.

Wonderful week long vacation with friends from Texas (and Georgia) in beautiful Charleston.  These people are just the best of the best. 

Fun spontaneous family trip to Richmond, VA with the hubby's family. 
Great time with these crazy girls!

 Then, those crazy fun girls and their way cool parents came to see US for a week.  Bonus- my awesome in-laws came for awhile too! 
 Trip to the mountains of NC with friends from college.  So relaxing.  LOVE that we all still make time for each other, even if it isn't as often as we like. 

Thanksgiving with my family (plus in-laws, not pictured) at my Granny's farm.  I'm so thankful for every holiday we get with her.  This place is so full of memories, all made special by her and my papa.  It was as close to a perfect day for me as I could get I think.  

Best of times indeed. 

At the beginning of November I decided to look up a bunch of scriptures that spoke of thankfulness and praising God.  Today's reading I think I'm going to read every Thanksgiving from now on. It's King David's prayer of praise to God at his commissioning of Solomon to build the temple. I really encourage you to read all of it (1 Chronicles 29:10-22) but here is what I wanted to share today. 

"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? For everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand. For we live before You as foreigners and temporary residents in Your presence as were all our ancestors." 
(v. 14-15) 

Who am I Lord? Who am I that you would give me so much.  Thank you! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The times

This is for my friends who wonder what to make of all the buzz about Israel; what all the fuss is about, how it should and could affect us, and why it matters.  Hold tight for a little bit of history.

PS - most of the credit for this should really go to my husband, Aaron.  He explained it all to me.  :) So, for those of you who don't have the benefit of him, I'll happily pass along.

AD 70.  Rome lays siege to Jerusalem and destroys the temple.  The Jews living there either die of starvation and disease, are murdered, or are taken into slavery to Rome.  (This was around the time many of the apostles in the New Testament were martyred (for example Peter 65 AD, Paul 64 AD.)

From that time until after World War II, Israel never existed as a nation.  The land we now call Israel was owned or ruled by multiple different countries and empires over the years. During the Crusades it changed hands repeatedly.  Lastly, Britain claimed it following World War I, and ruled the area until after the end of World War II.

Palestinians are an Arab people group. They have lived in Israel ruled by many various countries (the majority of them Muslim since the rise of Islam).  Between World War I and World War II, the Jewish people decided that if they didn't move back into "their" land (Israel) that they would never get it back. This was called Zionism.  So, they started to move there in large groups and set up communities in the area - peaceably.  After the United Nations was founded, and Britain was to end it's control of the area, the Jewish people petitioned the United Nations and Britain to be given their own independent state - Israel.  The petition was granted and Israel became a nation again.

The day Israel became a nation, the neighboring Arab states invaded in support of the Palestinian Arabs living there.  Over the course of history, Israel has fought several wars "in the course of which it has occupied the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Portions of these territories, including East Jerusalem, have been annexed by Israel, but the border with the neighboring West Bank has not yet been permanently defined. Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, but efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have so far not resulted in peace." (Wikipedia.) 

Palestinians are understandably upset about their land being taken.  They have been allowed to "govern" in the West Bank and Gaza, not having their own government or able to establish their own state, but to have civil control of the area.  Israel has sort of said, "Ok, we'll leave you alone to do as you please."  Unfortunately, it is very common for Palestinians to be raised to hate the Jewish people - and they have violently expressed their hate over the years.  As technology has developed, they have smuggled rockets by Muslim terrorist organizations and started shooting rockets into Israel often.  They often intentionally place their rocket positions and storage areas in populated areas, such as close to schools, shopping centers, playgrounds, even going so far as to place them in the center of apartment complexes so that if they are bombed, they can accuse Israel of killing innocent victims.

Since it's founding, the United States has been a strong supporter of Israel. We have been strong supporters of trade with Israel, as well as sharing military technology and intelligence with them. Recently, however, there have been a lot of questions about America's support for Israel.  I believe that with the recent election in the US and it's outcome, Israel decided it was going to have to take matters into it's own hands.  Our president has not stated that he is not in support of Israel and has gone so far as to say that they had a right to defend their country, but that's about it.  He has never personally set foot in Israel (unlike every other American President before him) and has often rejected invitations to meet with their leaders.

So, what's the big deal?  Why should we care?  Well, if the Palestinians are given their own state inside Israel, it's basically a state within a state, which presents multiple logistical and political problems.  Beyond that, we need to understand that the Gaza strip and West Bank, if allowed their own state, would pave the way for Muslims smuggling bombs (potentially nuclear ones) into Israel.  Many Palestinian leaders are deeply tied to Muslim terrorist organizations (Hamas, Hezbollah, etc) , and their hatred of Israel is pretty strong.  Organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah are supported (financed) and armed by Iran (who has vowed to "wipe Israel off the map.")

I don't necessarily believe Israel is "fighting for God" or that God approves of all they do. The Jewish people did reject Christ. But, we can make no mistake that this is the ultimate enemy, Satan, fighting against Israel, and in turn, God's people.  It's Isaac against Ishmael. The Bible is clear.  God is on the side of Israel.  Jesus himself wept over what would become of Jerusalem.  I also am one hundred percent certain He is against Islam- just as in fact I'm sure He's against all the evil in the world.

People are calling this the end of times.  No one but God himself knows about that.  And, no one but God himself really knows what role Israel, the United States, or any of us will play in the end times.  But Revelation is clear that Israel will be the staging ground - the center - of most of it.  You want to know the funny part?  Muslims believe that too.  Because Jesus said He would return through the Eastern Gate they have closed it off and built a cemetery in front of it in so that He would become "unclean" upon passing through it.  They think that they can stop Him.  They have another think coming.

And we have got to get real folks.  If the times really are that desperate, we have got to become desperate about the souls of the men and women around us and around the world. Time is running out.  Like I said before,  no one but God himself knows the date or the time, but we can be certain that today we are closer than we were yesterday.  Are we ready to do battle?  Are we doing battle for the souls of men?  Are we outfitted with the Armor of God?  Every man and woman in the nation of Israel spends at least two years (after they turn 18) in military service.  They are so small, that's how they compensate.  You remember that song- "I'm in the Lord's Army"- well...we may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, or shoot the artillery- but I hope we are all still willing to say, "Yes, Sir!"