Shopping with HEART and making SMART choices at Christmas Time.

Shopping with HEART and making SMART choices at CHRISTMAS time.

  1. Make your large purchases with small business, and your small purchases at big box stores. That way you are spreading the love around where it is needed the most.
  2. Buy second hand for yourself when you can, and treat yourself to a brand name product once a year (if you absolutely have to).
  3. Write and wrap gift notes for others, and then buy the actual product after Christmas when it is half the price. The amount saved could be given away to a neighbour, or charity.
  4. Decide to watch programs over the holidays that have zero violence.
  5. Boycott watching anything with guns or shooting.
  6. When you realize that means you can’t watch anything – go outside for a walk or call up a friend, and make a snowman together.
  7. Instead of playing a computer game by yourself, get together with a friend and play a board or dice game.
  8. Shut your phone for off for a whole day, and listen to your family. No cheating.
  9. Instead of giving someone money, give them your time and attention.
  10. Invite someone over for tea and dessert, you don’t always have to cook a fancy menu.
  11. Write a list of people you want to get to know in the New Year, and write an annual intentional date on the calendar.
  12. Support home grown talent by buying their music.
  13. Promote purchases and not pirating.
  14. Smile and make a point of wishing everyone you see a “Merry Christmas” (out loud, and not under your breath).
  15. Make time to look up inspirational vignettes on youtube, like Linus’s recitation about what Christmas is all about.
  16. Set up a nativity scene on Christmas Eve.
  17. Purchase a special Children’s Christmas book each year to read on Christmas Eve, even if all the children are grown up.

Have fun adding to this list. Make it your own. And may we truly strive to uphold what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8 and 9).

Pet Peeves at Christmas

A few discussions this December has me sharing a list of my pet peeves, they are more ridiculous than they are frustrating, I know our culture leaves much to be desired especially around this time of year.

  1. The Chevrolet commercial where an actress says in a mono-tone,”that’s the dream to have wifi in the car”. Apparently I am not the only one who is peeved, you can’t even find the commercial on youtube anymore, so many people have complained about this so called “dream”. In my search to find the commercial in order to leave you a link I saw one person tweet: “we have to dream bigger”. Amen to that. What made the commercial worth watching was our hysterical attempt to mimic the actress.
  2. Alien vs Predator Ad for the 12 Days of Spacemas, really thought this was funny more than aggravating, especially watching the two arch-enemies seated on civilized couches gawking at the neck ties in their hands, wondering what they were for?  Couldn’t find this link either…hmmmm.
  3. Talking with my wise nephew the other day with regards to how Star Wars has taken over Christmas brought my attention to this next pet peeve…..apparently we are more excited about the “force” than we are about the real power which is found in the most wonderful name “Jesus”. No hand phasers necessary folks, just the name of Jesus (spoken in reverence of course). Now that’s power.
  4. All the sappy Christmas movies, emphasis on ALL……if we were take the money spent on “spinning a love story”, and give it to those in need, we’d see love at work, and change happening before our eyes. That being said there are a few of them that have a good storyline, but very few, and there are millions starving. We should be striving for excellence.
  5. The complaining about refugees…. opening our country to refugees is more than a risk, it is necessary, and mandatory, otherwise we simply are not human. I’d rather die loving than leave someone die.

Merry Christmas everyone, and may the love of Jesus truly change us.


Sacrificial Offerings

Usually every church you go to has a certain way of doing things, a structure to the service. Our church always has someone present special music while the offering plate is passed, but there are many sacrificial offerings going on in a service simultaneously. You need only be still and sensitive to the Spirit to see them.

This past Sunday a lovely woman got up to sing “Breath of Heaven”, which tells the story of the mother of Jesus. Even when the Christmas story gets clouded, most people know Mary was a young person with a scandal to deal with. She accepted her sacrificial call stoically, only to lose her son years later at the hands of an angry mob. She gave birth never really knowing the full extent of what her sacrifice would be.

I closed my eyes and and prayed for our friend who was singing, and the tears began to roll down my cheeks when the lyrics came “breath of heaven hold me together”, because I remembered how the vocalist lost her son years ago. Jesse would have been in his early twenties today.

Once the service concluded I found my eyes drift over to the far left of the church, to the front pew. There I saw another woman sit down to ready herself for prayer in case anyone needed to come to the front and pray. She too had lost a son years ago. Shane was a father at the time of his death, leaving a wife and three children behind.

I marveled at these women, and their sacrificial offerings, pressing on in faith despite their broken hearts, and the fact there will be missing family members at their Christmas table.

Thank you for being real, courageous and faithful, Bonnie and Val. Please know that there are people watching and learning from your example, and people praying for your strength as you continue the journey of faith God has called you to finish.

May the family of God hold one another together in Christ’s sacrificial offering of love, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, as we look forward to a family reunion one day in heaven.

Merry Christmas!




God is Near

Merry Christmas to our friends, and our family. The video below is to remind us all of how Immanuel came to be with us. The message also helps us to strive to be instruments of Christ’s love, to think of others before our own jesus

Our economy, new government, and tragic world news threaten our hearts with fear, but remember God never changes, and HE IS NEAR. He is no stranger to what is happening around us, and He is still in control.

Matthew 1:23

From Lloyd and Cindy Palin and family

God is Near Lullaby

images are from

Mercy and the Magi

If you are use to hearing history presented the same way year after year, it is very plausible you may miss the mystery, and the wonder, and the MERCY.

The account of the wisemen for example:

While discussing the Magi with my small children one Christmas, I was astounded to hear our middle child question whether there were just three of them. How did we know for sure? If such an amazing King had just been born, perhaps there were many more wisemen, too many to find enough camels to ride?

“Maybe they had to take a bus?” he suggested.

As I was reading in Matthew, and my corresponding class notes for 103 Gospels with Briercrest Seminary and College, I was struck by something I have been taking for granted for years, since Sunday School even.

We are so use to hearing about the wisemen seeing the star, that we forget to realize what an act of mercy it was, that God would get the attention of foreigners about the birth of his son – amazing!

We learn in the Bible that Jesus came for the Jews first. Yet, his own people were not excited about his birth, or what his Kingship meant.

We also learn that  his plan of salvation includes the Gentiles. Right from the beginning of Christ’s life God was inviting other nations to be part of his merciful plan. Even before Christ was born God was setting the stage, as he merciful made room for Gentile believers within Christ’s lineage.

The wisemen knew Jesus was a King, and they travelled far to worship him.

I can see now God was calling me as well, the night the Magi saw the star. This Christmas season as well as all year round, I want to run to him each morning, and marvel at him and acknowledge him as King, as exemplified by the three wisemen.

Thank you Jesus for including this Gentile in your merciful plan.





To Bind up the Brokenhearted

This past week while preparing songs for the second Sunday of advent, I couldn’t help but feel inadequate.  Yes, those feelings hound us all from time to time.  My thoughts kept drifting to extended family situations, those which happened long ago, and some more recent, even though I was rehearsing words like….

“Come thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free”

Sunday came and our worship practice was rushed.  Some of us had arrived late due to freezing rain the night before. Everything had been frozen over with a thick sheet of ice.  My entire vehicle was imprisoned in a hard glossy shell. As I yanked on the handle to try to open the door I heard….

“From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in Thee”

My husband was away, and I sat alone near the front.  As the church filled for the first service I kept wondering, “why God, would you want to have anything to do with someone as weak as I?

“Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art”

In the middle of a song I looked out and saw a friend, who had just returned to town from her Mother’s passing.  I had wanted to have her over for dinner right after she arrived home, but the time had slipped away. Another song and another face, a man who had  said goodbye to his wife last Christmas, due to a sudden serious illness.  “I need you” my heart cried.  “We need you”.

“Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart”

In between services I spied a new friend and slid into the pew beside her.  I had remembered she had told me something in passing – months ago, and It kept ringing in my ears.  I sat down and cautiously asked if I could inquire about her health.  She graciously shared about her illness and the necessary medications required. She went on to tell me a bit about her family and where she came from.

“Thank you for coming Jesus” I whispered under my breath, for taking on human form and walking among us to feel our pain”.  For sacrificing your life  in order to release us from the icy grip of despair and death. You alone, are our strength, and hope!  As we celebrate your birth in a manger, and long for your return –  may You be our desire and our joy!


“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives” (Isaiah 61:1).

Lyrics from “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Text: Charles Wesley, Music: Rowland H. Prchard, Arranged by:  Robert Harkness




Christmas Hope

Everyone needs some.  It is invisible almost all year round, but at Christmas time, if you look carefully you can see where it came from.

I heard about it year after year but never really got it until tragedy struck.  You don’t have to be broken to receive it, but it helps.  Because when we are broken, we realize we need it  more than anything else in the world.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, in fact once you find it, you still need to be reminded it is there.  Life is hard.  I’m not talking about the job you may not like, or the child who is acting up.  I’m talking about the spouse who left, or the child who died.  Maybe you have healed up pretty good and are trying to move on.

I have to grab on and hang on to it really tight, not just every Christmas but every day, and I am never disappointed.

Have a listen and grab onto some Christmas Hope.


All For the Glory of Love

Alright, I must have an affinity for cardboard photo storage boxes.  But remember, I am trying to pick the most daunting things off the shelf to deal with first.  This cold February morning caught me reaching for fall leaves and red berries, the warm and inviting pattern on this specific photo box.  Unlike yesterday’s container, this one was heavy.

Inside, nine VHS tapes of Christmas Past.  Because I own a frame shop my first inclination was to call downtown Vistek in Calgary,  We’ve gotten many of our video, and camera, as well as specialty photo needs, met there.  They don’t offer a service to convert VHS to DVD, but they gave me two names that do; Costco, and TR Communications Ltd., located in Calgary, Alberta.

As my calendar would have it, Lloyd and I are going to be in Calgary, the weekend of the 9th of March for a Chicago concert.  We listened to their music often, during the early stages of our dating relationship.  I found out just this morning that is was the early lead singer of Chicago, Peter Cetera who actually recorded “The Glory of Love”, which I purchased moments ago from iTunes.

Often we make the mistake to attribute a whole song to an artist/performer, only to find out that someone else wrote it.  In this case the vocalist is also part of the writing process.  “The Glory of Love” was written by Peter Cetera, Diane Nini and David Foster.  Although I don’t know for sure, it sounds like David Foster was the arranger as well.  Below are the lyrics from the chorus.

“I am the man who will fight for your honor, I’ll be the hero you’ve been dreaming of, we’ll live forever knowing together that we did it all for the Glory of Love”

To learn more about Chicago you may want to visit this link:

To learn more about Peter Cetera you may want to visit this link:

FYI:  We are going to visit TR Communications Ltd. in Calgary for our VHS needs,  because their price was the best.  And they are located in the lovely artsy Inglewood Shopping area.

*Immediate Task:  to put box of VHS tapes in back of vehicle for March 9th.  This way I won’t forget them and they won’t get put back on the shelf or tripped over while we wait.

*Can hardly wait to view the DVDs when they are done.  Who doesn’t like to watch old home movies of their children when they were small?  I think we’ll make popcorn and make a party out of it.

And all for the glory of love!

The Secret is Out

Our Christmas holiday resembled scenes from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest“.  But just like any movie, it wasn’t all bad.  When New Year‘s eve rolled around and my husband and I sat in a near empty movie theater, I found myself relieved, anticipating another great escape.

I don’t completely disappear.  The black walls and the aroma of imitation butter drag my senses back down in my seat now and then.  It never fails, the best scenes are always littered with the assault of crinkled candy wrappers and idle chatter.  Don’t the watchers know this is their chance to hear something new, to find the gift that hasn’t been given, the secret message that revives a sleepy soul?

I watch her lips shape syllables and I drink in the flavor of her German accent.  When the fingers of music reach through the blanket of snow where the billowing steam train winds ’round the mountain, the secret code begins.  Music has always been my Narnia‘s wardrobe, a passage straight from my heart into Aslan‘s arms.

I feel the uneven cobble stones beneath my feet and the brisk night air against my cheeks.  I stand beside them bundled in my own filthy rags, watching our breath mingle with the smoke from the pile of burning books, another of Hitler‘s attempts to choke out our freedom.

I fall in love as they fall, and long for freedom as the air raid siren howls.  I stare at the stars through Jewish eyes.  I hold her pen as she writes on the virgin page…”the man with the accordion heart and the woman cloaked in thunder”.

Soon a thousand charred bricks explode around me, fragments of flesh and bone, a soldier’s blank face and a thousand open graves.  “The Book Thief” stoops beside me, to cradle her best friend’s blonde head in her arms, and salt water springs from my heart.

My eyes scoop them up and carry them to the back of my brain.  I determine to keep them forever.  I will not forget, their story is mine.

Suddenly each brick resembles yesterday’s family headlines.  Bombs don’t always drop from enemy planes.  One of the bricks has her name on it, the one who can’t forgive me.  Another brick belongs to the one who keeps my records of wrong.  Another brick is coated in bitterness, while another is splattered with hate.  I trace my finger around them imagining when we were new, first-born and unspotted by the world.  I step cautiously around them and leave them behind.

I step out from their frozen winter crust into his world of hope.  The snowflakes fall softly, tickling my face.  The secret is out, the gift has been given.  The human spirit is always at war, but love never fails.