Twelve Things I Learned In 2011

It seems appropriate on the last day of 2011 to share some of the lessons I’ve learned, and maybe even why they matter. I hope there are a few in here that will bless you during this next year. And I hope you will so kind as to share a few of the lessons you have learned this year with me and the rest of the bloggy readers here!

I won’t list these in any particular order. Mainly because they were (are?) equally important under the appropriate circumstances. So, here we go:

  1. Don’t start too many projects without finishing something you have already started. I know for many folks this is a “duh” kind of thought, but for so many of us we get caught up in doing good things – for our family, friends, the church, ourselves, the poor children in ______ (fill in the blank) – and the list goes on. Personally, when I realized I had so many projects going on that my supplies were multiplying before they could be put to use, I knew it was time to let go of a few things. That brings me to …
  2. When beginning to clean, start with the top of the pile. Starting at the bottom creates a bigger mess. (Trust me on this one!) This lesson also applies to daily life situations. Think about it.
  3. Spend the extra money on better quality toilet tissue. 🙂
  4. Enjoy the occasional nap, but don’t make it a habit. If it becomes a habit, much like everything else, you begin to take it for granted and you lose the appreciation for it.
  5. Spend time with friends and the people who matter in your life and tell them they matter to you. In the past month alone I’ve said good-bye to four people who mattered much to me. I don’t know if they ever knew how much they meant to me.
  6. Be prepared to do things spontaneously! 😀
  7. Stay up those extra few minutes before going to bed so you can load the dishwasher. There is something pretty nice to walking into the kitchen and seeing a clean sink. I find this helpful to Continue reading
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Christmas is more than a day. It’s more than a season.

Is your Christmas over? For many of us, it is. Plans are being made to pack away the trimmings and the gifts and t o have life go back to “normal”,  whatever that may look like. But this year I want to remember that Christmas is more than a day. It’s more than a season. It’s a way of living and loving overs.
So, join me and let’s … keep singing those carols, re-reading those Christmas stories and continue to give good gifts.

Every day you will meet someone who needs to hear about a child that has been born to the world:

Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconcile.
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with the angelic host proclaim,
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail, the incarnate deity,
pleased as Man with to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Son of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die,
born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

There are frightened, hurt, broken people in our neighborhoods and all over the world that need to hear the story of good news and joy:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the Continue reading

An Advent Lesson ~ The Righteousness of Joseph (part 2)

Joseph’s Struggle (cont’d)

Read part 1 here ….. Today we continue with Joseph Davidson and the story of his struggle to be a righteous man and the earthly father of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Let’s hear the rest of his story from his perspective. Joseph, please go on … 

Well, as I said, when Mary told me she was made pregnant by the Spirit of God, I just couldn’t believe it! And to tell the truth, I can’t say I reacted very well at first. I wanted to lash out; I wanted to hurt her as much as she had hurt me. The Law said that a woman found in adultery should be stoned to death. Now I understood that law in a way I never had before. I wanted to get back at her, for ruining our love, my faith and trust, for tarnishing my good name.

I had spent my life trying to live to a certain standard, to live so that people would respect me. A scandal like this would ruin me. Everyone would just assume that I was the father. Just think how far a crazy story about being visited and made pregnant by the Spirit of God was going to go down in the marketplace and at the village wells! Nobody would believe it. I knew I had to go public. I had to gather the elders and publicly dissolve the betrothal. I would tell everyone that I was not responsible. If nothing else came out of this mess at least, maybe, I could keep my good name.

But you know what? I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to have any harm come to Mary. I loved her, I completely, totally loved her. Even though she’d shattered my faith I didn’t want to make a public example of her. Of course, there was no way I could marry her, but the Law said it was up to the man what should be done in a situation like this, although there had never really been this kind of situation before or since! I could get a couple of my friends, give her a private bill of divorce and that would be that. Of course, the reason would soon be obvious, but without a complaint from me nothing could legally be done to Mary.

In the meantime, Mary had to get away from the village before the gossip started. The sarcastic, nasty gossip around the village well would be too much for her to handle. So she went south, to Hebron. She had relatives there, who would give her the support she needed and they had room for her to stay.

While she was away, I calmed down and I began to think. I spent a lot of time walking around in a daze and working at my bench. I didn’t care about eating. I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on in life. Then the dreams started. Always the same. Walking down a dark corridor and suddenly this blinding light and an angel would be there. How did I know it was an angel? Good question. I know that it may sound a little crazy, but sometimes Continue reading

An Advent Lesson ~ The Righteousness of Joseph (part 1)

Joseph’s Struggle

Today’s special guest comes to us all the way from Bethlehem by way of Nazareth. Most of you know him as Jesus’ father, or the husband of Mary, but let’s hear from him. Please, share your story …

Well, first of all, let me introduce myself.  My name is Joseph. Joseph Davidson. I’ve been quietly attending many of your celebrations of Christmas for quite a while but I suspect many of you don’t know me very well.  I’m sort of like the step-father of the bride at a wedding.  You see, nobody pays much attention to him until its time to start paying the bills!  I know how much many of you enjoy celebrating Christmas but I want to tell you, your Christmas celebration cost me a great deal!

I guess there is another thing that you should know about me. My neighbors call me a “righteous man”.  In my time that meant something very specific. You see, way back when, hundreds and hundreds of years before even I was born, God gave Moses the Law for our people. The Law tells us how we should live for God, the things we should do, the way we should eat, the people we should associate with and so on. One thing you should know about the Law though, keeping it is not always easy. It makes great demands on us. But I believe that if we’re going to be God’s people we must do what God tells us. Anyway, all that is to explain what people in my day meant when they called a man a “righteous man”. That’s me. I don’t go around preaching to people or looking down my nose at others. I just think if a person believes something they should live it.

Let’s see, what else would you want to know about me? Well, I grew up in Bethlehem. It’s only a few miles from Jerusalem and making a living there was difficult. So as a young man I moved to Nazareth. Nazareth was so small I’m always amazed when I meet people nowadays who have even heard about it!  It was barely a village then, the butt of a lot of jokes.  “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” people used to kid. Remember, I didn’t go to Nazareth for the night life or the excitement. I went because I needed to find work to support myself and my future family.

As for my family, it’s an old and honorable one – probably with more emphasis on the old than the honorable!  My ancestors include King David. I know that isn’t really much to boast about. He lived a thousand years before I was born, so by the time I was born, there were hundreds and thousands of Davidson’s. But I am still proud of my birthright and my family name. Some people today can trace their heritage back to settlers in their home country or even further. Well, it’s like that with me.

I’m carpenter by trade. I do things like make furniture, build houses, make tools and yoke for oxen. If it’s made out of wood, I’m your man! I see woodworkers like myself as practical people. I like things you can handle and see, something you can measure, cut and saw. I’m not someone who puts a lot of stock in ideas. Oh, I enjoy listening to the teacher when he comes to our local synagogue, but I prefer more practical things. Wood is honest. I understand that some folks nowadays have doors that are hollow in the middle – that sounds dishonest to me. I like things that are wood right through. I like things that are solid. Wood has integrity. I like that – I like that in people too.

Of course, the other thing that was important in my life was my Mary.

Life was pretty good for me in Nazareth.  I found plenty of work, saved some money and then I began thinking
about getting married. That’s when I met Mary. She was about 15 years old then, just the right age for us to become engaged. She was a wonderful girl, and she became a wonderful woman and a wonderful mother. And so, we became betrothed.

I want you to understand what that meant for us. When a couple becomes betrothed, it’s something like your engagement only it’s much more permanent. It lasts a year, occasionally even longer. During that time period the families have a chance to get to know one another. They work out a dowry. They search the records in the temple in Jerusalem because in a little country like ours, it’s really easy for relatives to get married and never even know that they’re relatives. Our engagements can only be broken by divorce. And getting a divorce isn’t easy. You have to show real reason. It’s pretty disgraceful.

That stage of our betrothal was a time for me to dream. I dreamed about all kinds of plans for our future. I dreamed about the home I would build for Mary and myself. I dreamed about the kids we’d have. I dreamed about a little girl that would look as beautiful as her mother. I dreamed about a son who I could teach the ways of being a carpenter, to make useful things with his hands and to build something from nothing with no more than scraps and pieces. I dreamed about the wonderful life we’d have and how wonderful that life would be.

It’s strange though, isn’t it, how quickly life can go sour. How quickly our dreams can turn into nightmares. How easily your most treasured plans can be shattered in a moment. Maybe you’ve also had that experience.

My dreams became a nightmare after I noticed that Mary had become very quiet and withdrawn. This wasn’t the Mary I knew and loved so I began to wonder if something was wrong. I tried to talk to her about it, but she said she couldn’t tell me about it. I had to go out of town to do a job and the whole time I was away I could hardly sleep because I was so worried about what might be going on. I wondered, had I done something to displease her or her family?  I worried that they’d found something in the Temple records that would prevent us from being married!  By the time I returned to Nazareth I was beside myself. I went to Mary and I begged her not to shut me out of her life, to tell me what was going on, but I was totally unprepared for her answer.  Continue reading

United Methodist Women and edification

 



Here’s a story I love, a kind of pre-Christmas present to you, dear reader.

After World War II, the United Methodist Women’s fund had accumulated to a sizable amount.

The United Methodist Men said, “Let us manage that money for you.”

But the women answered, “No, we have some plans.”

To the astonishment and (to some degree) the horror of the men, the women bought two buildings, one on 1st Avenue in New York, right across from the United Nations construction site, and the other in Washington, D.C., on Maryland Avenue, across Second Street from the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

For 60 years, these two buildings have offered low rent to nonprofit organizations to work for justice and peace at the United Nations and in the halls of Congress. These buildings were a great investment, a great gift to us all.

The other day I was explaining the meaning of the word “edify” to a young friend. I am indeed edified by the United Methodist Women. I’m also edified by the authors of so many profound and loving responses to my last blog on why military spending is bad for the economy. Thank you.

United Methodist Women and edification.

A Spirit to Know You

A Spirit to Know You

by St. Benedict of Nursiaca 480-547

Gracious and Holy Father,
Please give me:
intellect to understand you,
reason to discern you,
diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
a spirit to know you,
a heart to meditate upon Continue reading

They Went Before Us to Show Us the Way ~ Money and the Heart

Wesley and Money

Miss Margaret Lewen, of Leytonshire, a devout woman, was rich in property, but poor in health. Her father told John Wesley that his visits to her had done more good than those of all her physicians. Conscious of her great spiritual debt to Wesley, when she heard that he had fallen from his horse in December, 1765, he was then in his sixties, she presented him with a chaise and a team of horses.

Some years later she died, and it transpired that Wesley received a grateful legacy from her of a thousand pounds. Of her death he wrote in his journal in November, 1776: “I found it needful to hasten to Leytonshire, but I came too late. Miss Lewen died the day before, witnessing that good confession,

Nature’s last agony is o’er,
And cruel sin subsists no more.

So died Margaret Lewen, a pattern to all young women of fortune in England, a real Bible Christian. She rests from her labors and her works do follow her.”

The next year Wesley received the proceeds of this legacy and began at once to give it all away to the Continue reading