31 December 2012

Happy New Year

My hopes for myself and for you run as follows. Because I know these things will help you and me be happy.
• Daily time in prayer
• Daily time in Bible study
• An abundant daily intake of fruit and other healthy delights
• Daily fresh air
• Enjoyable physical exercise
• Gallons of sunshine every time it appears
• Fresh flowers, often
• Diligence and patience even when it's hard
• An eye for people who need Jesus
• A heart on constant pilgrimage, heading always toward heaven.
And do you know Who offers us all these?  Yes, Jesus.  I hope you know Him well, and more every day.

27 December 2012


We went walking through the corn field today, ending at the river.  Is it just me, or is it just so fun to see where somebody else went walking, too?  (You can tell they're geese, right?  I keep forgetting to charge the camera, but the phone does OK in a pinch.)
On the way back, we noticed some kids sledding on the hill by the school.  As soon as we realized they were our Christmas hosts, dear husband said, "See?  I thought that would be a good hill!  Maybe they'll let us try."
So of course we went to say hello.  And lest you think my husband driven by the desire to go sledding, he likes everyone and would stop to chat sled or not.
We helped build a jump.  We chatted with Mr. Adult on the sidelines.  We {gently} threw snow in return for the snow thrown at us.  Then it came.
"Mr. S!  Would you like to try?"
Then, "Mrs. S!  Would you like to try?"
No, thank you.
"Are you sure?"
Well, Mrs. S is accustomed to more than two inches of snow beneath her sled, so that when she falls off, there's plenty to pad the fall.
So no, not today.
But she sure did enjoy the sunshine!
My father-in-law gave us a specially bound booklet at Christmas.  He told in the front how a similar volume has influenced his life forever.
Leave it to Scripture tondo that.
It's full of more than enough versions of 1 Corinthians 13 to read one every day of the month.  My husband already reads the "love chapter" every day already, but this gift is getting me going on it, too.  As my father-in-law challenged, I'm journaling my thoughts each day.
I may share some of my journalings with you as I continue the journey.  I'd also love to hear what's inspiring your devotional life as we turn the corner into the new year.

26 December 2012

The Day After All the Singing

Well, we've had a lot of music here lately.  Come to think of it, there's always enough music in my life, too.  But today I wanted to do a little update on other things, since I'm now in the habit of posting every day.  (I do like to write, after all.)
I've planned to bake several things, but haven't yet.  I wanted to make fruit salad, but the pears are still hard.  But here are a few ideas I've had.
• Pumpkin gingerbread from Simply   Recipes http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pumpkin_gingerbread/.
• Cinnamon Rolls
Savory Onion Rolls (that look like cinnamon rolls, only with onions inside)
I'm enjoying having my husband around ALL day EVERY day, and consider myself so blessed that I have a husband I enjoy so much.  We've been exercising together, sitting by the wood stove together, playing games together, doing puzzles together, running errands together (which I usually do by myself and enjoy, but it's more fun when he's with me).  Sounds dreamy, right?  That's life with a great man. 
I think I am at the point where I can keep unpacking and doing chores while also having time and space for more crafty things to be happening.  I'll keep you posted if and when I get going.
I read this morning about the benefits of fresh air, sunshine, exercise.  Have you aired out your home lately?  I cracked some windows for a while today, and the whole house felt fresher in a matter of minutes.  Air is great stuff.  :)
So is snow.  It's beautiful out where we live today.  So we took a walk in it, and saw that someone else had the same idea.  (See photo.)

25 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Our Lamb is Born

This one is brand new.  I wrote the text, and my dear husband wrote the music.  (Copyright 2012).  Leave a comment with your e-mail address, and I'll send you a PDF of the score.
Born in a manger, He
Came among creatures who
Knew not His mission to
Die as my Lamb on my tree.
Suffering my shame is
The only way He can
Earn the position as
My only hope to find
Peace on the earth and
Good will to men.
Lambs in the stable see
God born as man and a
Lamb, one of me, one of
Them, the one Shepherd.  He
Leads me beside the still
Waters.  My cup over-
Flows with His goodness for
Unworthy me.
He gives peace on the earth and
Good will to men.

24 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: As With Gladness Men of Old

I love it when hymns and carols tell the truth of Jesus and also relate it to my journey today.  And I love it when they remind me of the joy it is to come to Jesus.
As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold,
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright,
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.
As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger bed,
There to bend the knee before
Him whom heav'n and earth adore,
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.
As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare,
So may we with holy joy,
Pure, and free from sin's alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee our heav'nly King.
Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need ko star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.
Tune DIX (more familiarly set to "For the Beauty of the Earth") from Conrad Kocher, arranged here by Melvin West; text alluding to Matthew 2:1-11 by William C. Dix; SDA Hymnal 123.

23 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Angels We Have Heard on High

One bit of musical knowledge you should have about this carol is that it is "macaronic", or has two languages (Latin and English) in the same piece.  Isn't that a fun word?
The Latin part of the text, "Gloria in excels is Deo", means "Glory to God in the highest!". And of course we know who sang it first (the angels), although they probably didn't sing in Latin or English.
Put together with the verses, the carol as a whole voices the shepherds' story of hearing the angels sing, alternated with questions asked by their listeners.
People who sing parts love to sing this--all the parts are interesting, and together indeed make a glorious sound.
Angels we have heard on high,
Singing sweetly through the night,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their brave delight.
Gloria in excels is Deo,
Gloria in excels is Deo.
Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why these songs of happy cheer?
What great brightness did you see?
What glad tidings did you hear?
Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ, the Lord, the newborn King.
See Him in a manger laid
Whom the angels praise above;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While we raise our hearts in love.
Tune GLROIA, a French carol arranges by Edward Shippen Barnes; text taken in part from Luke 2:13-17, a French carol translated in "Crown of Jesus" and adapted herd by Earl Marlatt; SDA Hymnal 143; see also the Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal.

22 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: O Come, O Come, Immanuel

Tonight, dwell on this thought:  God came to be with us.  And since He came so long ago, He can be with us even now.  While I can't take away the griefs and crimes of the world, I know a God who promised to be with me and with you even until the end of the age (which is when He will come again).
O come, O come, Immanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Immanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and high;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
All people in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven's peace.
Text translated by John M. Neale and Henry S. Coffin; tune VENI EMMANUEL, fifteenth century French processional; SDA Hymnal 115.

21 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Silent Night

Many of you probably know how this carol came to be:  the malfunctioning organ, the text written and given to the organist to write a tune, the plan for guitar accompaniment.
Sometimes the things that are in disrepair in in our lives can breed blessing, no?
I've wondered sometimes whether it really was a silent night, but it seems that quiet or not, our pondering of that holy birth brings with it an awed and grateful silence.
For unlike many of the carols we've loomed at already, this one pauses beside the manger, an ear turned to the hills where the angels sing. 
We pause to see Jesus sleeping, tended by Mary.  We pause from a distance to see the shepherds and hear the angels.  We pause as we turn back to this Savior-Baby.  We pause to sing His praise.
Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright;
Round yon virgin mother and Child!
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent night, holy night,
Darkness flies, all is light;
Shepherds hear the angels sing,
"Alleluia! Hail the King!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born."
Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, loves pure light;
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Silent night, holy night,
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.
Text by Joseph Mohr and translated from the German (in this case) by John F. Young; tune STILLE NACHT by Franz Gruber.

20 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Angels from the Realms of Glory

Angels have seen a lot to weep about, and I'm sure they must sometimes.  I think they weep over senseless meanness and killing, over unhappy families, over suffering.  At least, I would if I were them.
How much more of sin and sorrow they see than we do, how much more they realize how far we have sunk.
Perhaps it was with a special joy, then, that they sang to the shepherds.  A joy that only comes when they're telling people about the Savior.  A joy you and I can experience with them.
Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the earth;
He, who sang creation's story,
Now proclaim Messiah's birth;
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.
Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o'er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing;
Yonder shines the Infant Light;
Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star;
Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear,
Suddenly the Lord descending,
In His temple shall appear;
SDA hymnal 119; text by James Montgomery; REGENT SQUARE, tune, by Henry Smart.

19 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Joy to the World

This one hardly needs explanation, but I do encourage you to ponder the words afresh.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
No more let sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, and wonders of His love.
Text by Isaac Watts; tune ANTIOCH arranged from Handel's Messiah by Lowell Mason.  SDA Hymnal 125.
Photo taken about twenty-five minutes before sundown today atop the Massanutten ridge.

18 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: O Come, All Ye Faithful

Tonight, a standard favorite, one I memorized in early elementary school for a Christmas program (as part of a choir).
Was it then that I discovered I loved being in choir?  Maybe it was.  I still do love being in choir.  {Need to find one...}
Let this joy and triumph fill your skies tonight, because when Jesus comes, evil must flee.
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels!
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Jim,
Christ the Lord.
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest!
Yea, Lord we greet Thee, born this happy morning,
Jesus to Thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!
ADESTE FIDELES, tune, appeared in John F. Walter's Cantus Diversity, 1751; anonymous text translated from Latin by Frederick Oakeley (and others); SDA Hymnal 132.
*Today the wind was sweeping the clouds and sunlight as I came out of the library laden with books.  I didn't put them down to snap the photo.

17 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Memory Challenge and O Little Town of Bethlehem

Have you noticed how the things you have in your memory come to mind when you need them?  And sometimes when you least expect them?  And maybe even when you don't want them to come back at all?
There was a time in my life when I realized how important memory can be.  It was a combination of things, really.
One thing was the story of a church being invaded by police on a racist mission.  A woman started to sing, and others joined her, "taking the space".
I hardly remember the outcome, but one idea played over and  over in my mind:  That woman must have memorized songs of praise.  Otherwise, how could she have had the immediate response of song in possibly one of the most stressful events of her life?
Another thing that got me thinking was a tragedy that happened near my home, to a friend of a friend.  He had been doing a routine fitness test, and collapsed with a heart problem.
He was rushed to the hospital, and a pastor colleague visited him, singing hymns by the bedside just hours before his death.
I immediately wondered what I would sing to a dying man and his wife in the hospital room.  Did I have words in my mind that would sooth, point to the Savior, remind of heavenly hope?
Or was my mind filled with the useless chatter on the radio? 
I began memorizing hymns.  And large chunks of Scripture.  I never knew when I might need to encourage someone, and that someone has so often been myself.
So here's the Christmas memory challenge.  Chose a favorite Christmas carol that reminds you of something Jesus is promising you right now.  Memorize it, and tell me how it goes.  Share the challenge with a friend, and encourage each other in the memory work.
You may think you don't have time to memorize.  But guess what?  You can keep the hymnal in the bathroom and sing your song--or one verse over and over--while you blow dry your hair every morning (for example).  No one will hear you singing, and it will be great encouragement for your day.  I've done this.  :)
I'm choosing O Little Town of Bethlehem.
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary;
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the Angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together
Proclaim the Holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to man on earth.
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in--
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell--
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!
Text by Phillips Brooks; ST. LOUIS tune by L. H. Render; SDA Hymnal 135.

16 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Now is Born the Divine Christ Child

Some would read the title of this Carol and immediately question:  Was Jesus divine, or was He simply a good man?
To this, I point to Scripture, in many places, but in particular the few below.  These are some of the first reasons I personally believe with all my heart that Jesus is and was indeed fully divine (as well as fully human).
"Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us.". Matthew 1:23
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.". John 1:1, 14 (see also the verses in between).
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.". Isaiah 9:6
Now is born the divine Christ child,
Play the musette, play the tuneful oboe,
Now is born the divine Christ child,
Sing we all and rejoice this day.
He was born in a stable bare,
On bed of straw how Be sleeps so soundly,
He was born in a stable bare,
Let us worship and to Him bow.
Ages long since are past and gone,
When the wise men foretold His coming,
Ages long since are past and gone,
When the wise men foretold His birth.
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 133; text is a traditional French carol; melody IL EST NE is an 18th century French carol, arranged in this hymnal by Wayne Hooper.
Photo documents some events in our kitchen today.

15 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Go, Tell it on the Mountain

Christmas is all about evangelism.
Jesus came to save me, and He came to save you, and He wanted us to know.
That we can have victory over our sins.  That He will come back for us.  That He paid it all on the cross.  That "Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrow." 
That we can come unto Him to find rest.
From sin.  From grief.  From pain.
If you have been rescued from these things, and you know of someone still suffering from them, under the crushing load, don't you have every desire to tell?
Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere:
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!
While shepherds kept their watching
O'er silent flocks by night,
Behold throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light.
The shepherds feared and trembled
When lo! above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed our Savior's birth.
Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born,
And God sent us salvation
That blessed Christmas morn.

14 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Our School's Sacred Concert

Just got home from a glorious sacred Christmas concert put on by my husband and our orchestra colleague.  (They let us piano teachers participate in the prelude music, which was great!)
So instead of writing about one Christmas Carol tonight, I'll send you over for a whole evening of praise and gratitude for the gift of Jesus.
{You might have to cut and paste into your browser, since I'm new at blogging from my phone, and I don't know if it will show up as a clickable link or not.}

13 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

This week, my colleague and I are playing Christmas duets as prelude to our (private) school's sacred Christmas concert.  Although I haven't disliked it before, it wasn't until our practice sessions that this carol took on special sparkle for me.  There's just something triumphant about it that I hadn't noticed as much before.
And as I re-read the text, I find in it the depth of mercy offered only by God Himself, in all its beauty.
Hrak! The herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King; 
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic hosts 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;
In the manger born a king,
While adoring angels sing,
"Peace on earth to men goodwill;"
Bid the trembling soul be still,
Christ on earth has come to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel!
Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Life and Light 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.
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal 122; text by Charles Wesley; tune MENDELSSOHN, arranged from Mendelssohn's work by William H. Cummings.
Photo of farm field in winter near my home.  Perhaps like the shepherds would have been in if they had been from Virginia.

Crochet Giveaway

A really fun crochet web site I just discovered today is hosting a twelve days of Christmas giveaway.  The site is www.crochetconcupisence.com, and the giveaway is here: 

I hope you visit them, too!

12 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

Have you ever stopped to think about what it means for Christ to have been holy....and....lowly?
And how you and I are to follow that exact pattern of holiness....and lowliness?  Of humility and service and never-tiring self-sacrifice?  (Like when he took His disciples to a quiet place to rest, only to be followed by literally thousands of people needing help, and He patiently taught, healed and fed until the day was done.)
Sounds exhausting, doesn't it?  Impossible?
Maybe He offers the strength to keep serving when the stress mounts.  When it's hard to get anything done, let alone everything.  Maybe He offers the wisdom when it's hard to know whether to say yes or say no.  Maybe that's when (or part of when) His strength is made perfect in weakness. 
Especially when we are [doing laundry, teaching lessons, washing dishes, unpacking boxes, getting exercise, raising kids, going to work, helping with the children's ministries at church...or whatever it is that you do and I do] for His glory and with His purposes in mind and at heart.
With humility.
Bearing the fruits of the Spirit because we ask for the Spirit and accept the Spirit and all He offers by faith.
Then, in holiness.
Like Jesus.  The "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly."
Infant holy, infant lowly,
For His bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing, little knowing
Christ the babe is Lord of all;
Swift are winging angels singing,
Noels ringing, tidings bringing,
Christ the babe is Lord of all,
Christ the babe is Lord of all.
Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping
Vigil till the morning new;
Saw the glory, heard the story,
Tidings of the gospel true;
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow,
Praises voicing greet the morrow,
Christ the babe was born for you,
Christ the babe was born for you.

Corn Meal Mush

Once upon a time, these words inspired no twinkle in my eye.  But a couple of months ago, we visited friends in another state, and I found a new love.  Here it is.
Cream of Corn Meal Mush
1 part (1/4 c, for example) corn meal
4 parts (1c, for example) milk of your choice.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly (it WILL stick if you don't).  When it's thick and the consistency you desire, remove from heat and eat.

11 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Away in a Manger

Tonight, now that the sun has set a d the time for bed draws closer, consider afresh these beautiful words of an anonymous prayer.
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay
The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus!  Look down from the sky,
And stay by my side till the morning is high.
Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.
(Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal 124; text Anonymous; tune CRADLE SONG, William J. Kirkpatrick.)

10 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light

The five people who crafted this hymn's text and tune and brought it to its current state spanned nearly four hundred years, and were all given some form of the name John:  John, Johann, Johnson.  Arranged by Johann Sebastian Bach, each line has the interest and movement of seen in his famous four-part chorales.
Some of us long for sunlight in winter, but this hymn speaks of a Light we can have any time, no matter how dense the fog that seems to surround us.
Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light,
And usher in the morning;
Ye shepherds, shrink not with affright,
But hear the angel's warning.
This Child, now weak in infancy,
Our confidence and joy shall be,
The power of Satan breaking,
Our peace eternal making.
Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light,
Go herald our salvation;
He stoops to earth--the God of might,
Our hope and expectation.
He comes in human flesh to dwell,
Our God with us, Immanuel,
The night of darkness breaking,
Our fallen race befriending.
(Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 128; v.1 text by Johann Wrist; v.2 text by Norman E. Johnson; ERMUNTRE DICH, tune, by Johann Schop; arranged by J. S. Bach; v.1 translated by John Troutbeck.)
(Winter photo of light reflecting on the river nearby.)

09 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: O Sing a Song of Bethlehem

Three of the four original verses of this poem appear in the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal (144).  Each one discusses a location of Jesus' life:  Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Calvary.  (The original poem also included Galilee).  Thus as we sing, we journey with Christ through His life and ministry.
The tune here used, KINGSFOLD, bring up a fascinating aspect of hymnology:  one tune can be used with any poem of equivalent meter, sacred or secular.  This is not to say, however, that hymns necessarily borrow secular musical style.  In many if not most instances of this practice, the original musical style of a time and its arrangement would have been the same, whether it was of sacred or secular origin.
KINGSFOLD itself has been set to and arranged in at least several ways:  to the texts "Dives and Lazarus," "Come All You Worthy Christian Men," "The Star of County Down," and "We are Poor Frozen-out Gardeners," and arranged by both Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams (Fantasia for harp and strings, Dives and Lazarus).
Whatever the number of arrangements and texts that go along with this tune, I still like to meditate on its simple message--the message that means all the world to me.
O sing a song of Bethlehem,
Of shepherds watching there,
And of the news that came to them
From angels in the air:
The light that shone on Bethlehem
Fills all the world today;
of Jesus' birth and peace on earth
The angels sing always.
O sing a song of Nazareth,
Of sunny days of joy,
O sing of fragrant flowers' breath,
And of the sinless Boy:
For now the flowers of Nazareth
In every heart may grow;
Now spreads the fame of His dear name
On all the winds that blow.
O sing a song of Calvary,
Its glory and dismay;
Of Him who hung upon the tree,
And took our sins away:
For He who died on Calvary
Is risen from the grave;
And Christ, our Lord, by heaven adored
Is mighty now to save.
(Text by Louis F. Benson; melody collected by Lucy Broad wood, this arrangement by Ralph Vaughan Williams.  For more information, see the Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal as well as the Oxford Book of Carols, 1928.)
Note:  As you can probably guess, the photo does not look down on Bethlehem.  But I like the mixture of field and town anyway.

08 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Tell Me the Story of Jesus

Although this hymn is not usually considered a Christmas carol, it does cover key moments from the birth to the death of Jesus.  Consider afresh His love that "paid the ransom for me".
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word,
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard;
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
Glory to God in the highest,
Peace and good tidings to earth.
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word,
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Fasting, alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that He passed,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last;
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore,
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected, and poor.
Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He livery again;
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
Love paid the ransom for me.
Text, Fanny J. Crosby; tune (unnamed) John R. Sweney

07 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

A fascinating trio of men are behind the text, tune, and harmonization of this carol found in the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal (130).
The man behind the text, Edward Hamilton Sears, wrote poetry from his youth up.  He once proved he had written two verses of poetry (written on his hat with chalk) by immediately writing a third.  He grew up to be a preacher and often wrote songs to reinforce the messages he preached.
The tune, CAROL, was written by Richard Storrs Willis, who was born in Massachusetts and later studied music in Germany, where he became a close friend of Felix Mendelssohn.
This particular harmonization was written by Uzziah Christopher Burnap, who, like Willis, studied music in Europe (but in France).  He came back to the U.S., and while he was heavily involved in music for most of his life, he made a living as a dry goods merchant.
Perhaps this combination of men who made this carol what it is illustrate the reality of Christianity:  Whatever varied circumstances shape the life, we may all join together in then praise of our Savior.
And all combine to give this beautifully sublime message of hope not not only meant for the shepherds of long ago, but also for me, for you.
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From heaven's all-gracious King;"
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.
And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow--
Look now! For glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing,
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing.
[For more information, check my source:  The Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal.]

06 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: But Some Have No Song

Maybe, like me, you've marveled at the different flavors of Christmas carols from the countries of the world.  The northern countries with their snowy texts, others with exotic melodies, instruments, and harmonies.
When I peruse the variety of Christmasy cultural expression, it's easy to see worldwide devotion and joy at the time we remember our Savior's birth.
But this morning, my heart is stirred, my eyes turned to a different view.  Because I read about countries who have no Christmas carols.  They have no Christ.
I think of Hindus, and their "devtas", the demons that come to possess their worshippers, throwing them around, making them foam at the mouth and scream out "prophecies".
I think of the fortune tellers around the world, and the never-reliable ways they try to tell you whether you're having a boy or a girl.
I think of the many, many missionary stories I've witnessed and read, the witch doctors, the superstition, the fear of spirits, the devastation of life without Jesus.
And it makes me weep for those who have no Christmas carols--nothing, in fact, that tells them about the kind and gentle Son of man, Son of God, who came to rescue them from sin, from the lies they now live with, from hopelessness.
And while I see that hopelessness in distant lands, I see it also right around me, in the home country.
So today, if we sing or play or listen to anything about the hope of Christmas, we must remember that the hope we have is built to be shared.
The angels shared it.  The shepherds shared it.  Simeon and Anna in the temple shared it.
Now it's our turn to share it.
Without being culturally insensitive, without pressuring people, without pride.  Simply in the love and humility of our greatest example, Jesus.
Maybe you know of missionaries in foreign fields you can support with prayers and monetary donations.  Maybe you're seeing the mission field right around you in a new light.
So go sing of Christmas, with your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Today.

05 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Once in Royal David's City

It is not known whether Henry J. Gauntlett was attached to any of the three places in England bearing this tune's name.  His harmonization of IRBY found today in the Seventh-day Adventist hymnal has four parts, all of which are interesting to sing.  If you are an alto, you may find that exciting news, indeed.
The text, written by Cecil Frances Alexander, is meant to clearly and simply explain who Jesus is, how He came to earth, and how He will return.  It is not without admonition--encouraging all Christian children to take after their Master.
Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby
In a manger for His bed;
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.
He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly
Lived on earth, our Savior holy.
And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly mother
In whose gentle arms He lay.
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.
And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
Form that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above;
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 149.  See also the Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal.

04 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: There's a Song in the Air

For today, simply meditate on the words of this carol, and and ask yourself whether yours is truly a home that echoes the song of Jesus.
There's a song in the air!
There's a star in the sky!
There's a mother's deep prayer
And a baby's low cry!
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!
There's a tumult of joy
O'er the wonderful birth,
For the virgin's sweet boy
Is the Lord of the earth.
Aye! The star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!
In the light of that star
Lie the ages I pearled;
And that song from afar
Has swept over the world.
Every hearth is aflame, And the beautiful sing
In the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!
We rejoice in that light,
And we echo the song
That comes down through the night
From the heavenly throng.
Aye! We shout to the lovely evangel they bring,
And we greet in His cradle our Savior and King!
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 120.
Josiah G. Holland, words; Karl P. Harrington, tune CHRISTMAS SONG, 1904

03 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: The People that in Darkness Sat

Taken from a text perhaps most famously set by Handel in the Messiah, this paraphrase of Isaiah 9:2-8 was written by John Morison, and appeared in the 1781 "Scottish Paraphrases" (of interest in their own right). 
The melody, or tune, bears the name CATHNESS, and is at once charming and easily singable by the youngest or the beginning singer or congregation.  The melody moves largely by step, the rhythm is about as basic as it can get.  Yet it has a sweet lilt that gives both focus and beauty to the text it accompanies.
The theme of "a glorious light" directs us, as we sing, not only to the first advent of our Lord, but also to the promise of His second one, to his reign that shall never end.
The people that in darkness sat
A glorious light have seen;
The light has shined on them who long
In shades of death have been.
For unto us a child is born,
To us a Son is given,
And on His shoulder ever rests
All power on earth and heaven.
His name shall be the Prince of Peace
Forever more adored,
The Wonderful, the Counselor,
The great and mighty Lord.
His righteous government and power
Shall over all extend;
On judgment and on justice based,
His reign shall have no end.
The Methodist Hymnal, 361

02 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow

An African American spiritual, this wonderfully cheerful tune recalls the exuberance with which the angels must have invited the shepherds to the scene of Christ's birth.  The text depicts the decision every disciple of Jesus makes:  laying down everything that keeps us away from the Savior to follow Him.  Because He is better than all the flocks and herds in the world.  He is indeed the pearl of great price.
There's a star in the east on Christmas morn.
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
It will lead to the place where the Savior's born,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
Leave your sheep and leave your lambs,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
Leave your ewes and leave your rams,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
Follow, follow,
Rise up shepherd, and follow.
Follow the star of Bethlehem,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
If you take good heed to the angel's words,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
You'll forget your flocks, you'll forget your herds,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 138, arranged by Alma Blackman.

01 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Who is He in Yonder Stall?

Who is He in yonder stall,
At whose feet the shepherds fall?
'Tis the Lord, oh wondrous story,
'Tis the Lord, the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him, crown Him Lord of all.
At His feet we humbly fall--
The Lord of all.
Crown Him, crown Him,
Jesus, Jesus,
Crown Him Lord of all.
Who is He in deep distress,
Fasting in the wilderness?
Who is He, the gath'ring throng
Greet with loud triumphant song?
Lo, at midnight, who is He
Prays in dark Gesthemene?
Who is He on yonder tree
Dies in shame and agony?
Benjamin R. Hanby, text; RESONET IN LAUDIBUS, tune name.  Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 150.
I love the carols that take me through the whole story of Jesus.   This hymn originally had ten verses, which would have told even more of the story.
I love, too, how the questions are simple.  Even a child can answer with certainty that this very one is the Savior Jesus.
This simple tune has also been matched with other words, in one notable case "Joseph, dearest, Joseph mine," published in the 1928 Oxford Book of Carols.
For more information, see, among other sources, The Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal edited by Wayne Hooper and Edward E. White.

Sing We All of Christmas: Twenty-five Carols (Introduction)

Today, just now, I am between the worship service and the afternoon "Messiah Sing along".  While Handel's Messiah covers the entire history and prophecy of salvation, we most often hear and perform sections of it at Christmastime.

Our choir joins another school this afternoon in hosting a sing along--in which everyone who attends may participate.

As I sing this afternoon about the greatest story ever told, I hope you too will contemplate the gift God gave us in Immanuel:  God With Us.

In the days leading up to Christmas, I hope you'll come to this space frequently for the history, music, and message of twenty-five Christmas carols.  Some will be the beloved favorites, while others may be texts and tunes you don't expect.

And please, spread the word, share your favorites with me in the comments throughout the series, and sing with the heart and the understanding this season.

25 November 2012

We Went Hiking Again

But this time, we went way, way farther.  Seven miles or so, we think.   In the crisp air and sunshine.
It's one of those amazing worlds my husband inspires me to enter, that world of hiking longer than I think I want to, that world that tests me to push ahead.
And you know what?
I don't even feel a whit sore.  Maybe I'm in better shape than I thought.  It certainly hasn't been for lack of trying.
We also went Christmas caroling.  Some dear new friends live next to the trail head and we {I} couldn't resist.  And they loved it--almost as much as we did.
Will you tell me about your favorite carols?  The ones you could sing by memory at a moment's notice?
Beginning in December, I'd like to tell you about some of mine.

05 November 2012

The Bag on the Doorstep: Thank you, Pathfinders

We almost didn’t see it.  In fact, one of us stepped right over it, and then the brown paper caught the other’s eye.

Because it’s that time of year, when boy scouts and girl scouts and post offices and Pathfinders (the co-ed children’s club operated by my church world-wide) leave bags at the door and ask each household for some food.  A little non-perishable something to share with someone who doesn’t have enough to eat this winter.

Maybe I used to put something in the bag to be shared, if I had extra on hand.  I don’t remember.  I never thought much about the bags….before.  

Before a move across the country to my husband’s graduate university.  Before I looked for months on end and didn’t find work.  Before that Friday-before-school started that saw me talking with the chair of the music department about me applying for school, too.  Before that Monday when school started, me in tow, desperately holding on for dear life, the newest student employee in the music library.

Our pastor had told us what it would be like—at least, what it was like when he and his wife were at the same school years before. 

Once they had completely run out of food, but they returned their tithes and offerings to God anyway, and knelt down to pray, committing their need to the Lord.  As they finished, someone knocked at the door.  They opened the door to find two large bags of groceries.  Our pastor, a fast runner, ran to catch up to the giver, another man running away as fast as he could, just to say thank you, but to no avail. 

He finally gave up the chase and he and his wife thanked the Lord.

So perhaps it goes without saying that things were tight that first semester.  I earned a little, and my husband earned a little more with his assistanceship.  It wasn’t quite enough to make ends meet, but ends seemed to meet anyway.  Help seemed to come every time we needed it.

Once, a friend of my husband’s happened to be on campus one day, traveling through.  Did he need a place to stay?  Well, yes.  So we shared our space, or simple food, the little guest room that was barely unpacked.

He didn’t know it, I don’t think, but we hadn’t found a place to buy honey at a price that would fit our small budget—a staple for the bread I make, among other things.  He just happened to have some in the car from his mother’s bees, and left a little jar behind as a thank-you.

It was a gift that took my breath away.

Then once a friend from Alaska visited my in-laws in Washington state, and brought some Palmer carrots (known for their crisp sweetness).  My mother-in-law couldn’t bear to keep the treasure for herself, so she sent us a box.  All the way to Michigan.  They survived, and I didn’t have to buy carrots for weeks. 

Somewhere along the way, there were green beans from my in-laws’ garden, cans of olives and California almonds tucked in packages from my parents.  I remember them all because they were significant enough to me to write them down, in their own section of my thankfulness book.

Then one day a fellow student told us about the student food bank on campus.  All you had to do was show your student ID.

Food bank?

We had never gone to a food bank before to do anything other than help or donate.

Nonetheless, it became one of the blessings from God that semester.  I had to work the evening shift when the food bank was open, but my gracious husband took a deep breath and went to the line, bringing home whatever they had to offer.

Sometimes it was great.  Other times, the food bank food was less than healthy.  But it was free, and we needed food, so we were grateful for whatever people had given to benefit us.

Now I don’t even remember if it was a weekly pilgrimage, or just an occasional boost for us. 

We certainly weren’t alone.  It was common talk in our music department lunch room.  My husband and I commented one time that we didn’t even have money for cheap haircuts, and amidst the “oh-I-knows” resounding in the room, a friend offered to teach me to cut my husband’s hair.

She understood.

Another friend spoke one day of how she was in school without much financial support from her parents.  We talked about food, bills, needs.  I told her our pastor’s story, and we were both encouraged.

But the real spring in her step and gleam in her eye came the next Monday, when she had something to tell me.  The Pathfinders had knocked on her door that Sabbath with large bags of food.

“Heidi,” she said, “I didn’t even need it!  I didn’t even need it!”

Your definition of need does change in those circumstances.  But the point was clear.  Her cupboards hadn’t been bare, yet God had poured out blessings on her.

“I need to get back to returning my tithe,” she said, recognizing that God’s blessing goes beyond what we have in our little (or large) bank accounts.

I remember that pay day we had looked forward to.  The one that was supposed to be larger than usual, because my husband had taken an extra job as a ref for flag football intramurals. 

It was about the best-paying job on campus, and he had worked hard.  It kept him out late, in the dark, wet, and cold.  I usually tried to be in bed before he came home, but I would be sure to put out his slippers, an extra blanket to curl up in while he read worship, water in the teapot, a space heater, so that he could warm up when he came home.

The day we received his pay stub, however, I waited up.  I cried.  I tried not to say too much, but I think my mother-in-law caught on that things weren’t going quite right.

You see, they hadn’t gotten the paperwork done in time, and my husband hadn’t been paid for his extra job.  At all.

Now it was my turn to trust.

Pay periods were every two weeks, but I couldn’t see how we could make it that long.  There were bills due.  I had figured out exactly how much we would need to cover everything, and we didn’t have it.

Tears came to my eyes.  I sobbed out the story to my husband when he came home.  We determined to take it only to the Lord, and trust Him to provide.  I’ll freely admit that my husband was the strength that gave me the courage to hang on.

And it was hard—that trusting in Him to provide—be we laid it at His feet and went to bed.

I remember we had managed to save aside $20 to spend on food that week, maybe that much for each of two weeks.  It would be simple eating that week, and we’d need the food bank for sure.

But do you know, it was just the next day that we got a  surprise check from a family member?  Just that week that two more surprise checks came from family members?  Just when we knew we couldn’t really afford fruit that my aunt from southern California sent us a box of her home-grown pomegranates and persimmons?

Tears still come to my eyes as I write it, overflowing with awe and gratitude.

Even more followed—a honey jar from my uncle with the historic family honey label on the outside, not long after the first jar from a friend ran out.  A trip to Costco on someone else’s tab—the garlic lasted us until spring, the whole wheat pasta for nearly a year.  New snow tires, more gifts gratefully received.  Then at Christmas, more honey, more financial help, the gift of travel to visit family, a gallon of fresh honey from friends who told us where to get the next gallons for $20 each (one-fourth the price of honey in the store).

That second semester, we didn’t go to the food bank.  I was promoted to the music library assistanceship, which paid a little more.  Well, twice as much, actually, because the hourly wage was higher and I was required to work more hours. 

Just enough more to give us what we needed to spend on food, and (usually) to pay the other bills.  It was God providing again.  Providing financially, providing for me to learn things I would never have otherwise learned, providing relationships developed through my job.

Now we’re done with school.  We’re gainfully employed.  We’re in a spacious home with a giant garden space we can’t wait to get into next spring.

We’re the ones getting the empty food-drive bag on the doorstep, not the ones needing the full bags dropped off.

I can’t wait to go fill it up:  natural peanut butter, canned vegetables and fruits, olives, whole-grain pasta, oats, everything healthy and non-perishable and wonderful that I can possibly afford.  Maybe even some maple syrup or some honey or some dried bananas and mangos.

Really, all those things I needed and longed for back then.

Because now that I know what it’s like, it means everything to me to give someone else the kinds of gifts-that-meant-the-world other people have given me.  Maybe there’s someone else out there just like me who would long for just the same things in the kitchen cupboards.

Maybe you know what it’s like to have less than enough.  Maybe you don’t. 

But even if you don’t I hope you can imagine it enough to fill the bag on your doorstep.  And to realize that maybe they left you one bag, but one bag just might not be big enough for  the blessings you can afford to pour out on someone who needs them. 

I’m sure they won’t mind if you leave them five bags to pick up.

31 October 2012

Happy Reformation Day

Yes, Reformation day.  No, I'm NOT into Halloween.  Not into ghosts hanging from trees in my yard, not into gobblins, not into scary costumes.  But I am definitely into what Martin Luther nailed to a door nearly five hundred years ago.

So have yourself a happy Reformation Day, and do something to draw nearer to your Savior.

23 October 2012

We Took a Trip

On our trip, we harvested our own garden.  Have you ever heard of taking a long trip to harvest your own garden?  I hadn't either.  But I was oh-so-thankful it was there to welcome me, with all its unexpected, giant herbs.

On our trip, we walked with friends.  It was Sabbath, after we had worshiped with friends.  It was glorious, it was soul-refreshing.
On our trip, we soaked in the rays of sun, leaning against a wall, petting a cat and a dog (one on either side). We prayed with friends, we talked with friends, we ate with friends, we read morning worship with friends.  Sometimes these friend-visits lasted late into the night, everyone remembering how far the distance between us, and longing for that even-farther trip to heaven, where we'll never part again.

17 October 2012

What I've Been Up To

 Hiking.  With my husband on Sabbaths.
 Hiking.  With my new friend on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
 Canning.  Attempting to finish the apple juice and
start the apple sauce after I get back from hiking.
 Enjoying the tree next door.  It's a flaming torch I can see 
from the bottom of our hill, from town, from the peak I hike to.
 Enjoying the scenery and socializing at our school's recent barn party.
And while these bikes still hang from their barn perch,
I have released a bird from the basement.
I'm still not sure how it got in the basement in the first place,
but he and I were equally happy when he flew 
out the door into the glorious fall sunshine.

11 September 2012

Hello from Virginia

Hi friends!

I know it has been a long time since I've written.  I'm spending my days teaching piano lessons, cooking, unpacking, and exploring in my new home state of Virginia.  It's wonderful.  But I'm not technologically set up at my home yet, and my moments at my husband's office computer are limited.

His select high school choir sang in church last Sabbath.  The Lord blessed, and used their voiced to draw people into the worship service.

We received our diplomas in the mail yesterday.  I was going to share a picture, but like I said, technology isn't a huge part of our home life yet.  Those two pieces of paper sure represent a lot of prayer, hard work, study, and all the lovely graduate school experiences that came along with them!

So.  About teaching piano lessons.  I love it.  I need a lot of help from the Master Teacher every day, but I have great students, each with their own talents and struggles and personalities.  I love the process of befriending them and helping them realize the dreams and joys of learning an instrument.

I bought peaches to freeze the first day we were in town here.  It was the last day they were selling, so I didn't take my chances to find another orchard after getting settled in the house.  I froze them in the school's guest apartment and was grateful that there was a freezer in its kitchen (which I didn't know the moment I wrote the check for those fifty pounds of tasty beauty).

I can't wait to be visited by lots of relatives.  Our new house has plenty of space for all of them.  And the big garden space in the back will have so many wonderful things growing in it by this time next  year.  I can't wait--except I don't want the time to pass too quickly now, because I like what I'm doing.

May God's sweetest graces fill your hearts and lives.

Love you all muchly,

P.S. More soon, Lord willing.

16 July 2012


It welcomed us to Michigan almost two years ago, brake-less and fearless.  It has entertained children and frightened mothers ever since.  But we'll be saying goodbye to it and all its lovely people soon, Lord willing.  And we'll miss them, the bike without brakes included.

09 July 2012

Sometimes the Sun Comes Out Sooner than You Think

 Sometimes after we get caught by storms, dropped off in the parking lot, changed into dry clothes, the sun comes out.  Right then.  And really, I'm not kidding.  It's beautiful, warm, hot, enticing.  But instead of going back out to the water, we go to the mansion next door.  And first notice God's little house, just across the way from the mansion built for groups of people to occupy at one time.
 We enjoy the water made beautiful by blue dye, and reflect that we like to drink only the clear water of life.  We can't wait to see that pure river of water of life proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
 We read the sign, and find that the mansion really was more like a glorified dorm for religious adults, and then later a prison.  Or was that the other building down the hill?  Either way, it didn't seem quite so dreamy after that.  Like some of those things we think are really amazingly wonderful that turn out to be amazingly not-so-wonderful.
 Still, it was beautiful, and we were glad they planted flowers to grow next to the pond.
 And made a cute little gate that even when it was shut made us want to enter in.  And I wonder, since I like this little gate so much, how I will like the big, grand gates made of one pearl each instead of humble wrought iron.  Can you even imagine them?  Don't you want to see them?
 Wouldn't it be worth traveling a straight and narrow path, rather than this curvy, adorable one, just to see those pearly gates?
 Here on this earth, even mansions of luxury have places of humble use.  Places that look pleasant on the outside, with their cheerful red paint, but that probably really stink on the inside.  I hope my heart isn't like that.  But if it is, my prayer is "Fix me, Jesus."
 When you visit mansions, sometimes there's a moment that tells you how classy your mother really is, and how skilled is her eye for beauty.  This time, that was when I saw their potted flowers, planted just like my mother likes to plant hers.  With the spikey things in the middle.
 If I lived in a mansion, I might just choose a cozy little corner to call my own, like this nook at the top, overlooking the grounds.  And then I would just hope the rest of the mansion was filled with people I love.
 I'm glad they made the windows big.  Big enough to see outside, and to let in the light.  I pray my heart is also big and open enough to let in the light from the Word of God, which is the Lamp for my feet, and the Light to my path.
Something tells me these turkeys were just as happy living out in the grassy field as they would have been living in the mansion.  I hope I'm content where I'm placed, too, strengthened by Christ.