Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Christmas was different this year. We didn't open presents. Our son and his family won't be coming until next week, so we will wait for that. But we wanted to do something to celebrate Christ's birth. So we invited Jill's family, my parents and also this family who recently moved from Minnesota over for dinner.
This is the Tracy family. Didn't have a place to go for the day. New to town. Adam and Jill had recently met them at church so they invited them to come over. Jason is working with Central Care Cancer. Sarah is a nurse, but at home now with the kids. Sweet children - Ella, Owen and Sam.
They brought over some fruit shaped shakers and guitar and we had fun singing carols together. Hannah, Ella, Owen and Sophie played and played in our basement. Once when it got quite, Jason went to check on them. They were just getting ready to jump from the bed and swing on the ceiling fan! Luckily Jason saved the day - and our fan, and probably the kids from serious injury.
Joy to the World - the Lord is come!
And what if He had not come? No Christmas stockings, no Christmas tree, no churches, no Christ to comfort or to save us.
Rejoicing in Christ, in His birth, His resurrection, His indwelling of the Spirit! His gift of Eternal life!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cookies and Carols

Some of us from church thought it would be a good idea to go caroling to the elderly from our church. Robyn Stucky came up with the thought after our Cocoa and Carols night at church. Sarah wrote eloquently about this evening.

Our first stop was to Kidron Bethel. We sang to several residents there, starting with Irene.

It was a difficult day for Irene as she just found out that her daughter, Jane has inoperable spine cancer. After singing, we surrounded Irene and prayed with her.

After Kidron, we drove over to Presbyterian Manor. Unfortunately our pastor's mother had the flu so we could not sing to her. A couple were not home. But the ones who were there seemed to be so happy we came to sing to them. We are not the best singers to be sure, (we wished Adam and Jill could have joined us with their lovely voices but Hannah was ill) but I think these folks were just overjoyed that we would remember them. And quite frankly, it probably did more for us than for them!

Our last stop was out in the country to visit Willard and Edna. They were one of the founding members of our church (as were a few others, including Irene).

Willard handed out some peppernuts. He said it was the first year they didn't bake them. Every year they have baked tons of peppernuts but this year, it just wasn't to be. As we sang, Willard and Edna joined in and we could feel Christ's presence as we worshiped the One for whom the season is all about!

We love Willard and Edna. Infact, Allen and I have named a great blue heron and a white great egret that visit our pond after them!

Doug and Robyn invited us to their home for Christmas treats after we finished caroling. What a great time we all had! They live in the home that Doug's great-great grandparents founded back in the early 1900's. The tiny homestead built in 1897 (if I remember right) is right by the big 2 story home. Doug and Robyn remodeled the home and it is just beautiful! Breathtaking!

We hope to do this next year if anyone wants to join us!!

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Hannah and Sophia came over yesterday morning. Hannah wanted to bake cookies so we dug through all our cookie cutters for Christmas shapes.

Baking with these two can get pretty messy!

We had lots of cookies so we took them to our Christmas Eve program. A couple of us babysat in the nursery for the 4:00 service. The Paden family babysat during the 6:00 service. We told the Christmas story (Janelle said one little girl, a visitor, asked how Jesus could save us so she was able to share the reason Christ came), we colored, decorated those sugar cookies and ate them, of course. And we did playdough. Lots of fun! How I love these little children!

Allen, our daughter Mindy and I went to the 6:oo candlelight and communion service. It was so very precious! Steve told the story about DeShazer, who was in the military to get revenge on the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. In a mission to bomb the Japanese, his plane went down and he was captured along with his military buddies. As a POW, he was beaten daily. And witnessed the execution of 3 of his friends. Oh how he hated those Japanese! One of his buddies was a Christian and didn't hate the Japanese, but prayed for them. This man starved to death and because of his life, the way he lived and died, Mr. DeShazer accepted Christ. After the war, he ended up going to Japan as a missionary (I went to school with his kids). This man happened to lead the Japanese military commander who led the Pearl Harbor attack, to the Lord and together they traveled Japan, telling about our Lord Jesus and the fact that God is in the business of reconciling men to Himself and to eachother. Amazing story.

After the program, we did the traditional thing we do every year (even though the winds were whipping around at probably 50 mph!!). We love to drive around town and look at lights. Our kids used to complain about it and I think the last 2 years that they were in highschool, we just took them home and Al and I made a date of the evening.

Ok. This picture didn't turn out, but this house belongs to someone who reads my blog, so I will keep it here. Do you recognize it You-know-who?

Have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Family Christmas

Sunday evening we had the Graber family Christmas at Al's sister's house in Little River, KS. Rudolph decided he would come to the party.

After eating wonderful food!! we had our gift exchange.
The young cousins exchange gifts.
Then it is the grown-ups turn. We always have a pile for women's gifts and one for the guys. Last year we all brought items from the house that we didn't use (but still in good shape). One year we all exchanged gift cards. This year, it was whatever but up to a certain dollar limit. There is always "stealing" of the gifts so it is pretty fun and often rowdy.

Here is a picture of Al and 2 of his brothers and his sister.

Sid, Reuben, Julie, Al

Last night, the Prairie Sunset Home in Pretty Prairie, KS had their Christmas party. Allen's Dad lives there. The Cousins Four (our sister-in-law sings in a quartet with her older sister and their cousins - well, 2nd cousins, but it would sound wierd to call them the Second Cousins Four) sang several Christmas selections as did another quartet that included a couple of the workers of the home. Santa made his rounds and we gave Dad our gifts too. On Sunday night we had taken pictures of all the family and so I got a frame and put them all together for Dad. We got him lots of clothes for the coming year also.

Often Dad doesn't seem to know who we are. Usually he doesn't talk, or maybe what he does say doesn't make any sense at all. Sometimes he says very odd things. But we hope he knows we love him. I always try to give him lots of touches. We had him in stitches a couple of times last night, but not sure he comprehended what was really going on. Sometimes he cries. He may not know us, but he always remembers Al's mom, Kathern. The Cousins Four sang a song that the group, The Quiet Place Singers (Al's mom was the piano player for them) used to sing many years ago. Al's Dad and I looked at eachother and by the way he responded I believe he seemed to remember that song. How he loved Al's mom! She died 20 years ago. I know Al's Dad longs to be with her too. A big thank you to the Prairie Sunset Home for the excellent care they give him and the others. It is always neat to see all the people there as we know many of them and went to church with them. Pretty Prairie is a small community. You should Google Earth it sometime. It is a mile long and a half mile wide.

I received this reminder of the awesomeness of God from some friends: In chemistry, He turned water into wine. In biology, He was born without natural conception. In physics, He defied the law of gravity when He ascended into heaven. In history, He is the beginning and the end.

Have a blessed Christmas with your families!