Monday, December 29, 2014

My Five Refusals For 2015

Sometimes life feels like this

In past years I have never made any New Year resolutions because it has been said that everybody breaks theirs.  So why bother if you will blow it like everybody else?  Maybe the problem is that we try to do it in our own strength and don’t rely on God.  Of course this is scary.  One lady resolved to get more rest.  She twisted her back and wound up bedridden for a couple of weeks.  She got more rest but it was painful!  I guess the pain was a messenger from Satan but God used it for good anyway.  So I don’t choose to make any resolutions.

Instead I decided that, with God’s help, I would list my “refusals” for the New Year.  I can put the breaks on and skid to a stop, with God’s help, if I begin to do any of these things.

1.  I refuse to worry—I just listened to a sermon on “Worry.”  The podcast was from Mitchell Road Presbyterian church in Greenville, SC.  A former missionary gave it.   He listed some of his worries and I realized that I hadn't thought of those concerns before that sermon.  Then I began to worry.   Christians aren’t supposed to worry so I will cast all my cares on Jesus because He cares for me.  I’ll make my requests with thanksgiving and He will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus with the peace that passes all understanding.

2.  I refuse to envy others--   Sometimes I wish I could dance and leap and become a Rockette but I will choose to be thankful that God has given me legs that will walk.  Others are worse off than I am.

3.  I refuse to be fearful about stuff like this— Will Iran blow up Israel and then try to blow up the U.S.?  Will terrorists attack on a massive scale again?   Will Christians be persecuted and thrown in prison like they are in other countries?  God is in control.  All is well.

4.  I refuse to be bitter—Maybe I was betrayed and thrown under the bulldozer but God meant it for good.  I had to turn to Him because there was nowhere else to go.  I will forgive with God’s help.

5.  I refuse to be proud—Sometimes I want everyone to know that my way is the right way.  In humility I know that God will teach others and me the right way if we will trust Him.

That’s all I can come up with right now.  Do you have any refusals for the New Year?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas If You Would Like To

Our daughter's first Christmas at 7 months.  She loved the wrapping paper not what was wrapped in it!

One Christmas my youngest brother, Wayne, (I don’t remember if he was married to his wife Meg then), gave us a Christmas present.  We were so surprised because he had never given us any Christmas presents in the past.  And he hasn’t given us any since then. There was only one problem.  We couldn’t see our Christmas present because he had arranged for an ox to be given to a family in Africa in our name.  We still wonder how our ox fared.  We never got an update on its progress.  But for me, and maybe a few others who have Scotch, Irish, Dutch, British, and Yankee heritage, gifts are not something that I expect or covet. 

 In my family, while we were young, we always enjoyed a “little” Christmas.  Usually we were in at least one Christmas program, received at least one present, and there was no reason to receive new clothes, unless we had outgrown everything.  My most enjoyable time at Christmas, as a teen, was attending a candlelight service on Christmas Eve, and then helping my dad put together toys for my little brothers. 

But I had an aunt who was a genius at shopping.  She loved to look for bargains and always had gifts available which were perfect for the person.  I remember one Christmas, when I was in college, a boyfriend gave me a gift, so I thought I’d better give him one.  My aunt had found some cufflinks on sale for 50 cents.  She suggested those would make a nice gift.  I could afford that much, so I was delighted that she solved my problem. 

After that I longed to be able to have a variety “store” of my own, like my Aunt Jeanne.  Unfortunately I did not have her shopping ability.  But now I have a husband who loves to shop and is very good at finding bargains.  So if I need to purchase anything, I give him my list, and off he goes.

I like a simple Christmas but others may like a merry “big” Christmas with piles of gifts.  I would say whatever brings glory to God in the highest, and adds to peace for those in whom God is well pleased, go for it!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Our Joyous Hope

Flash mob at the Flight Museum in Washington D.C in 2013.  So glad our Air Force is celebrating Christ!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas in Japan

Jes and Chris at Tokyo Tower.  Photo by Bobbi

It was in December of 2004 that Chris and I flew from Seattle to Los Angeles and from there to Tokyo.  We were fortunate to be able to spend Christmas with our son.  He was living in a small town south of Tokyo and teaching English as a second language.  With frequent flyer miles, and a place to stay, we thought it was a good time to visit.

Everything in Japan is small—especially compared to the U.S.  The land area is small as it is about the size of California and it is about 75 % mountainous.  There are small people, small cars, small capsule hotels, small amounts of food, and small apartments.

Internet photo

Jes’s apartment was big compared to most apartments in Japan.  He had two bedrooms.  Outside was a vending machine where one could purchase hot drinks. The weather was cold and clear and since Jes had only one electric heater to heat his apartment Chris bought several more. Jes’s car was compact but we managed to fit the three of us in it.

Jes's car. Photo by Bobbi

Photo by Bobbi

Jes had the hum of the bullet train to go to sleep to because he lived within walking distance of the train station.  See his list below:

January 31st, 2005
I’ve been in Japan a little over 10 months now. That really isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things, but here are some observations that I’ve made. This is one of those trite “you know when…” type things, but here it goes.
You know you’ve been in Japan for awhile when…
1.   you watch movies (of course not English or Japanese movies) and they always seem to be driving on the “wrong” side of the road.
2.   you think nothing of paying 5 dollars for 2 apples (okay you might gripe a little).
3.   the roar of the shinkansen (bullet train) tracks reminds you of the ocean. It soothes you to sleep.
4.   you go shopping and even though you don’t know the words to any of the songs (aside from the song about fish) you instantly hmm the melody.
5.   you aren’t scared of raw fish (well too much anyway).
6.   you enjoy playing “chicken” with other drivers on so-called “2-lane” roads. I guess I should say so-called “roads” as I know of larger sidewalks!
7.   you can critique stores on the various “elevator music” different stores use. I say, Gigas has my vote. Definitely the best use of harmonica in that type of “music".
8.   you tend to bow at everyone and everything. It happens. Sometimes you bow just to make sure.
9.   you do a better recycling job than some of your neighbors.
10.            life starts to seem normal.

Bullet train.  Photo by Bobbi

The town was all paved so it was great for cycling.  Here is a view of the City Hall.  In his town many people were middle class and worked for the big companies. 

City Hall. Photo by Bobbi

Something that American schools should consider is what they do about cleaning the schools. In Japan they have the children and the teachers clean, including scraping the wheels on desk chairs to be sure there is no sticky gum on the them. If children were responsible for cleaning I would think that they would have more respect for property.

Loudspeakers announce important things like elections are coming, or someone has had a baby.   They most likely will choose 6 am for the announcements so everyone is at home, in bed asleep, and won’t miss the announcement!

Jes was privileged to act as the recycling police a few times in his town.  He had to supervise at 7 am on recycling day the division of 14 categories of recycling.

We ate sushi and some fast food.  My favorite restaurant was “Joyful Restaurant.”  It wasn’t crowded and the food was similar to fast food but better. Hand wipes were always furnished. Even in the fast food restaurants we were furnished with pop up variety wet naps.  We enjoyed cooking our own food at one restaurant where you put the filling and condiments on a griddle and cooked at your table.

Photo by Bobbi

For Christmas we attended the Protestant church Jes had been attending.  The sermon was in Japanese.  We were gifted with homemade cookies.  We enjoyed an Italian dinner later.

Japan has adapted the U.S. custom of Christmas shopping and consumerism, but not the reason for the season—the birth of Christ. IRRASHAIMASSE! (Welcome) is what the employees of the store yell at you to make sure you feel welcome. 

 Lights in Tokyo.  Photo by Bobbi

Possible Christian charity.  They had a loudspeaker. Photo by Bobbi

On New Years Eve we joined the town party at the 2 shrines, one Shinto and the other Buddhist.  They were serving hot sake and red beans.  There was a big bonfire.  The principal of the school was there and we talked to him briefly.  I enjoy doing “something” to celebrate on New Year’s Eve because I love the New Year.  Everything is fresh and ready for a new start.  So New Years in Japan was one of the best for me.  The next morning after the celebration everything had been removed.  All that remained was a raked dirt field between the 2 shrines.

 photo by Charlene
Shrine in Koyto.   Photo by Chris

Of course one must see the castles especially Himeji-jo which was carefully restored in the late 50’s using all traditional techniques.  It differs from many of the castles in Japan nowadays as many are made of concrete.

At Nogoya Castle.  Photo by Chris

As a soft American I could never live in Japan, as some places do not have central heating and air conditioning.  My son tells me that most do.  I do like the food including seaweed.  I’m glad I visited as I can relate to others who have lived or traveled there.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

There Is No Law

There is no law prohibiting the singing of Christmas Carols in public schools in the United States.  One would think that there is.  For the last 2 years we have attended our granddaughter’s “Winter Concert” at her elementary school.  One program was about the different celebrations of   Kwanza, Ramadan, Hanukkah, etc.  No mention was made of Jesus or the Christian celebration.  They did have a quick song about Santa Claus.  The next year the songs were all about the weather—from fluffy snowflakes to the slush as the snow melts.  Sigh….

I will check to find out if there is a Moms in Prayer group for the elementary school.  Then I will give them my prayer request—I would love to hear some Christmas Carols pointing to the miraculous fact that God came to earth as a tiny baby.  He came to die for us so that we may spend eternity with Him.  Maybe even some parents will request that the children sing Christmas Carols.  Anything is possible with God.

PS If Christmas gets too rowdy, like it did in the days of the Puritans, there may have to be a law against it!  See here.  See here to read a blog about why our children need to learn real Christmas Carols.