Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas PhotoJournal Memories

"Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy."
Psalm 126:2
The afterglow of Christmas continues as we look forward to the New Year. Here are some pictures with family and some friends...we'll let the pictures do the talking.

We wish you all a peaceful, joyful and blessed 2009!

Thanks for visiting! We'll be back to blogging in 2009! Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Worship and Wonder

"'I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'" Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'"
Luke 2:10-14

Our children are nestled all snug in their beds....
May they, may we, may you forever WORSHIP and WONDER over our Savior. The Child that was born. The Son that was given.

We wish God's richest Christmas blessings to you and yours! Glory to God, and peace to men on earth.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Quiet Place of Rest

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Mark 1:35

These preicous days preparing for Christmas and the celebration of our Savior's birth often find us on overload, feeling tired and distracted by preparations (can we say "Martha"?). By God's strength and grace, I am making the choice to maintain and savor my daily morning quiet time with Him. Oh yes, my comfortable bed and pillow invite me to stay awhile longer, but my desperate heart and my love for Him win the beckoning for my time. I cherish my time with Him, even when my bones are aching and my "to do" list seems to have a life of its own.

Along with our church's women's ministry study, I am currently reading "A Quiet Place of Rest" by Nancy DeMoss. It's subtitle is "Finding Intimacy With God Through A Daily Devotional Life". This book is a great reminder of how God's desire is for us to walk intimately with Him, because of our devotion for Him not out of duty.

The familiar story of Mary and Martha, two sisters from Bethany, told to us in Luke 10, is constantly ringing in the hearts of Christian women everywhere this time of year. Can I hear an "Amen"? Nancy DeMoss writes:

"Jesus reminded Martha that Mary had made a choice to cultivate her relationship with the Master. Developing intimacy with the Lord Jesus requires a conscious, deliberate choice. It is a choice to spend time sitting at His feet and listening to His Word, even when there are other good things that are demanding our attention. It is a choice to put Him first, above all our other responsibilities and tasks.

Mary's choice was not made out of obligation, but out of devotion. She was not sitting at His feet out of a sense of duty but because she cherished her relationship with the Lord Jesus.

I can almost hear Jesus saying to Marsha, 'We don't have to have a five-course meal tonight. It's OK with Me if we just have soup and crackers. It's OK if dinner's late, if the rolls get burned, or even if we don't have dinner at all. None of that really matters. What matters is My relationship with you. That's why I came to your house. That's why I came to this world. Your company means more to Me than your cooking. You are more important to Me than anything you can do for Me.'"

Our relationship with Him. That's why He comes to our house. That's why He came to this world. That's why He comes to our hearts. Let's meet with Him today.

Now, pardon me, I have to run....I think the rolls are burning!

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."

Luke 5:16

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him

"Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises."
Psalm 47:6

Last night was our children's school's annual Christmas concert. We are so thankful they attend a Christian school where they pray to God, sing praises to God and rejoice in celebrating the birth of our Savior. As all of the classes took their turn on stage, His name was lifted up and glorified. To see all the children's faces and hear their sweet voices was such a delight.
Oh, come let us adore Him.

We are not posting any of the pictures of the children on stage during the concert because I'd want to ask each parent for permission first (that could take a while!). So, we are sharing some pix of our cherubs and our family members who came to see them. (Joshua and Gabrielle were particularly excited to have a couple of their cousins there!) Thank you each for coming! (Uncle Paul in Texas: We are praying for your recovery from shoulder surgery every day! We love you!)

All of the children were adorned in their "Sunday best".
Here are Josh & Brie...they wanted to come down the stairs
holding hands. (Had to capture those moments!)
Here they are in their Christmas finery.

The stage looked beautiful. (You need to tilt your head to look at this picture. For some reason, Brie was leaning on Josh.)

Our little family.

Thanks for stopping by! We'll be baking Christmas cookies today. What will you be doing?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"I Like Being With Me, Too. I'm With Myself All The Time"

"You are the God who sees me."
Genesis 16:3
“You found his heart faithful to You.”
Nehemiah 9:8

Here is a picture of Joshua in September 2008
when he redecorated the family room in
Philadelphia Eagles decor for a Sunday afternoon game.

One night as I was putting Joshua to bed, after I sang and prayed with him, I said to him, "I love you, Joshua. I like being with you." His quick reply was sweet, insightful, innocent and humorous. He said, "Yea, I like being with me, too. I'm with myself all the time." I smiled (trying not to giggle until I left his room) and kissed his head.

While I thought he was going to give me the expected reply of: "I love you, too, Mom. And I like being with you, too.", I loved his reply. It's become a prayer of mine for Joshua. That he would always be thankful for the person God is making him to be. That he treasures in his heart all the sweet moments just between himself and His Savior. That his heart is postured in humility before the Lord, asking Him to seek his heart and to change any offensive ways. (Psalm 139) That he knows God's eyes are always on him, and he is never alone. That he is willing to stand alone with and for Christ. That he will always walk humbly and boldly as a son of God, saved by His grace, clothed in righteousness by His blood and made pure by His sacrificial love. That he would be a young boy, growing intimately in the perfect love, grace and knowledge of God, who becomes a young man who loves the Truth and an adult man sold out and surrendered to the Lord. That God will place those special relationships in his life with family and friends, and one day a wife, who love God with their whole hearts. That they would point each other to Jesus.

May Joshua always know "The God Who Sees Me" (Genesis 16:3). May God find Joshua's heart faithful to Him. (Nehemiah 9:8)

Joshua's words from that bed-time moment reverberate in my heart every single day. "I like being with me, too. I'm with myself all the time." I pray we all are comfortable being with ourselves and our Savior. In times of pruning and refining. In times of heartache. In times of blessing and abundance. In times of rejoicing. God's eyes are always on us. He is always with us.

Our precious continual moments with Jesus. Yes, I like being with me, too, steadfastly accompanied by my faithful and sweet Savior whose love is unconditional.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Christmas Tea Tradition

"Men ate the bread of angels;
He sent them all the food they could eat."
Psalm 78:25
When Gabrielle was three years old, I started a special tradition. For my Mom's Christmas present from my little family, with Jim's enthusiastic blessing, Gabrielle and I began taking my mom (Nan Nan to Joshua & Gabrielle) each Christmas season for a very special afternoon of "Tea With Alice in Wonderland" at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia. This is a special splurge for us, and the best Christmas present for my Mom. Taking the time in the busy month of December and saving the resources ahead of time for this annual tradition is worth it. It's a magical afternoon where you feel like your stepping back in time to the days of a warmly nostalgic Christmas celebration.

Each year, we have invited friends to join us, and it's always been fun. When we are there, it feels like we are getting away with something...like a wonderful secret only a few people know about. It truly is an afternoon of delight.

Serendipitously, we have dined there among some celebrities. Our first year, Kelly Ripa, her daughter and other family members were there. She was down-t0-earth and friendly, and she graciously invited Gabrielle to take a picture with her.

Here is Gabrielle with Kelly in 2005. Below is my mom meeting Kelly, too. (I had met her previously as I usually go up to NYC a few times a year to be in the audience of the "Live! With Regis & Kelly" show, always bringing a few family members or friends along for the fun! It's just a train ride away for us!)

Here are my mom and Gabrielle in 2006 and 2007:

Here are a few pictures from this year. It truly was an extra-blessed day! The little blessings...like no traffic on the way there...and a great table. And the big blessings....like wonderful, comfortable company (family and friends) to be together with us...like the opportunity the three little ladies had to meet Cindy McCain. Yes, Cindy McCain (wife of 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate, John McCain) who happened to be dining in the hotel with her younger son. (I'll blog more about this later this week...and no I don't have pictures because I was unaware of the encounter that my sister, Anne, graciously initiated. Lucille and I were outside retrieving our cars from the valet while my mom, sister and the young ladies were chatting with Cindy. And Heather and her mom, Ruth, had the opportunity to meet the McCains' youngest son. So exciting for them! We thank the Lord for these special enounters that had His handprints all over them!)

Gabrielle with her friends Leigha and Emily
My friend Lucille and her daughter, Leigha,
joined us for the second year in a row!
And my friend Heather and her daughter,
Emily, and Heather's mom, Ruth, joined us for the first time.
(They loved it and are making it a tradition, too!)
Gabrielle, Me, Mom (Nan Nan), Emily's Grandmother, Emily, Heather, Lucille and Leigha

My sister, Anne, (Aunt Anne to Joshua & Gabrielle) joined us this year.
She is enthusiastic and wonderfully fun, and all of the kids just flock to her!
(Thankfully, Josh & Brie are willing to share her!)
Emily, Brie, Aunt Anne, Leigha
Me, Gabrielle, Nan Nan, Aunt Anne

Chocolate-covered strawberry and other sweet treats!

Gabrielle and Nan Nan enjoying this Christmas tea tradition.
A favorite part for the little ladies.
Dancers come and perform pieces from
The Nutcracker Suite

And the icing on the scone...Alice in Wonderland
comes and meets all the girls!

We are still enjoying the warm afterglow of yesterday's planned splurge and special afternoon of Tea with Alice in Wonderland at The Four Seasons. This nostalgic Christmas tradition lingers in our hearts so much so that we already start planning and saving for next year.

If you live in the area, we recommend this special treat! And my dear friends who are reading this and think you'd enjoy this, you are invited and welcome any time! (I make the reservations in October on the designated day, so just mention it to me!)

Would you care for some tea? What nostalgic traditions do you enjoy? We'd love to hear!

Christmas Give-Away Winner!

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward
in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:14)
Thank you to everyone who visited Joy In The Truth through the Christmas Give-Away! We are delighted to announce the winner. I did pray throughout the weekend that the Lord would have the winner of His choosing chosen through the Random Integrator. I pray you ALL are encouraged by His perfect love for you!
Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:33
Timestamp: 2008-12-08 01:27:02 UTC
Congratulations to SARA! Sara, I will e-mail you for your mailing address! I pray winning this little prize is like whispers of His perfect love for you into your ears and heart!
Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Give-Away

"Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,
because you...have refreshed the hearts of the saints."
Philemon 1:7

Welcome to all, and especially to those personally chauffeured here by "Mr. Linky". What fun to participate in the "Cool Christmas Give-Away" with the Quintessential Blog Give-Away Hostess herself....Lysa TerKeurst! I hope you enjoy your visit to our blog. Grab a mug of your favorite hot beverage and linger a while! We pray you are refreshed during your visit here.

Joy In The Truth is giving away some cool nourishment for your soul -- your choice of either:
1.) "Jesus Calling" - by Sarah Young; or
2.) "Pierced by the Word" - by John Piper.
These are two of my favorite devotional books, which are now offered through Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Also, you will receive some cool chocolate treats for your taste buds (just in time for Christmas!) from our great home state of PENNSYLVANIA, such as HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE, PEANUT CHEWS, and TASTYKAKES.

For your opportunity to win, just simply leave a comment! Also, if you haven't already had your quiet time with the Lord today, commit to spending ten minutes in His Word today. If you have spent time in the Word today already, let me know what verse(s) you read. Share the encouragement! Time sitting at His feet will never be taken away! (Luke 10:42)

It's been a pleasure having you visit us here at Joy In The Truth! Stop by and visit again. I'll be by to visit you as well! The winner will be announced on Monday, December 8th.

"...but only one thing is needed.
Mary has chosen what is better,
and it will not be taken away from her."
Luke 10:42

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Let Your Christmas Lights Shine!

"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
A few years ago, Jim and Joshua worked on a special father-son Christmas project. For years, Jim had wanted to illuminate the name of Jesus with Christmas lights in our humble, yet meaningful, Christmas light display to highlight the One whose birth we celebrate during this blessed season. When Joshua was old enough, they accomplished this little dream together.
This year, as they were traditionally putting up our outside Christmas lights again on Thanksgiving weekend, Jim explained to Joshua why we use certain colored lights for our Christmas display. "Jesus Emmanuel" is in white to represent His purity and holiness. He makes us righteous and perfect positionally through His redemption. The red lights represent Christ's blood He willing spilled out for us on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sin. We are cleansed by His blood if we receive Him into our hearts and abide in Him. The green lights represent our new life in Him and the life and fruit He produces through our surrendered lives in Him.

As we celebrate our Savior's birth this Christmas season, we pray our hearts are continually yielded to the One we celebrate: The Prince of Peace.

In one of my favorite devotionals, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, she writes this:

"I AM THE PRINCE OF PEACE. As I said to My disciples, I say also to you: Peace be with you. Since I am your constant Companion, my peace is steadfastly with you. When you keep your focus on Me, you experience both My Presence and My Peace. Worship Me as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and Prince of Peace. You need My peace each moment to accomplish My purposes in your life. Sometimes you are tempted to take shortcuts in order to reach your goal as quickly as possible. But if the shortcut requires turning your back on My peaceful Presence, you must choose the longer route. Walk with Me along paths of peace; enjoy the journey in My Presence."

May the Prince of Peace be illuminated in and through our hearts. May we always follow His precious paths of peace and not cheapened shortcuts. May we be thankful His purity can wash over us and cleanse us through His precious blood. May we surrender our lives to Him so He can bear fruit through us for His glory.

Let's let our Light and lights shine!

"For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Isaiah 9:6