Holidays


Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits” Psalm 103:1-2.

God’s blessings are incalculable; yet how prone we are to forget His benefits and instead dwell on our own petty grievances and wallow in self-pity. This day of Thanksgiving should be one of recalling His blessings, remembering and blessing Him for all His benefits.

He pardons all our iniquities–all of them.

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins” Isaiah 43:25.

“The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” I John 1:7b.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” I John 1:9 (KJV).

All of our wickedness, unbelief, pride, self-righteousness, unkindness, bitterness, anger, evil-speaking — all of our sin — is freely pardoned through the blood of Christ. What a glorious truth! What a benefit for which to give thanks!

He heals all our diseases.

This is sometimes a difficult truth to grasp. How can it be true that God heals all our diseases when so many of His people, even the most godly, get sick and die? We must remember that sickness and death are consequences of sin. “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). However, God offers eternal life to all who put their faith in Christ Jesus. Ultimately, all believers, no matter what their infirmities in this life, will have complete and perfect healing in the next.

Oftentimes, however, God does choose to physically heal His children, for a time, during this life. Eleven years ago my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Having just watched a dear friend suffer tremendously and die while undergoing the conventional cancer treatments, my parents prayed and sought the Lord for direction concerning her own treatment. The Lord graciously directed us, through research and the helpful advice of friends and relatives, to change our diets to a mostly raw, vegan diet (no meat or dairy products). The diet helped rebuild my mom’s immune system which in turn battled the cancer. What at first seemed a terrible trial, turned out to be a great blessing from the Lord. This diet has been His means of healing us from all our physical diseases.

He redeems our life from the pit.

“The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned” Psalm 34:22.

“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” Revelation 5:9.

We deserve hell because of our sin. Yet Christ has redeemed us — bought us back — not with silver and gold, but with His own precious blood (I Peter 1:18-19).

He crowns us with lovingkindness and compassion.

“The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:22-23.

Every day He offers fresh lovingkindness — mercy — and compassion to crown His children. No matter how wretched and ill we behave, even when we are unfaithful to Him, in His goodness He draws us to repentance and shows mercy and compassion. How much we must praise Him!

He satisfies our years with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagles.

This is certainly true in my life. My years have indeed been satisfied with good things! God has blessed me with a godly family and friends, a lovely home, a good church, a wonderful education, and many rich resources and opportunities.

Bless the LORD, O my soul!

This simple meditation on God’s benefits just begins to scratch the surface of all that God so freely bestows upon His children. May the Lord help us to remember and give thanks for our many blessings!

“When all thy mercies, O my God, my rising soul surveys,

transported with the view, I’m lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts my daily thanks employ,

nor is the least a cheerful heart that tastes those gifts with joy”

(Joseph Addison, When All Thy Mercies, O my God).

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French News Cast, Vida and Laura

French News Cast--Vida and Laura

These past few months have been a whirlwind of activity! After five years of working and waiting on God’s perfect timing, the Lord very suddenly made it possible for me to return to Bob Jones University to complete my final year. Just a week or so before the fall semester opened we received a phone call regarding a scholarship for which I had applied months ago. Previously I had been notified that I would not be receiving this scholarship, but now they were calling to inform me that I had been chosen as a runner up and would be receiving it after all. It was a scramble to complete all the paperwork and packing, but somehow the Lord helped us accomplish everything and within a very short time I found myself enrolled as a student at BJU. The Lord blessed me with a wonderful roommate, excellent teachers, and a number of good friends. By His grace all of my classes, as well as my internship, went well.

The last couple weeks of school were extremely busy. For the final project in my French Conversation class we were required to put together and film a news broadcast in French. My team members and I worked very hard writing our scripts, practicing our lines, and filming our stories. We were right on schedule to begin editing when we ran into major technical difficulties. We had used two cameras for our filming, one that belonged to the school and the other to one of our teammates. Apparently the two cameras were not compatible. The media center staff spent several hours trying to remedy the problem, but in the end we had to re-film everything that was shot on one of the cameras. This major set-back left us working feverishly night and day down to the very last minute. God gave much grace and we were very thankful to have a finished product to turn in at the exam!

Danae filming Laura

Danae filming Laura

Danae and Maria filming

More filming--Danae and Maria

Maria and Natalie

Maria and Natalie editing

Vida and Maria

Editing down to the very last minute

After three and a half months of very hard work, it is wonderful to be home again! Kenny came home on leave Sunday night. What a blessing to have everyone home for Christmas this year!

This final week before Christmas has been very full. Tuesday we held our annual Happy Birthday to Jesus Christmas Bible Club Party. Approximately twenty-five children plus several adults were in attendance. It was a blessing to have Miss Patti Anderson come again to teach the Bible lesson. The children enjoyed meeting her special friend Lenny.

Miss Patti

Miss Patti teaching Bible Club

Miss Patti and Lenny

Miss Patti introduced the children to Lenny.

Ashley leading music

Ashley led the singing.

caroling

children singing christmas carols

children singing carols

Little Sarah (the girl my family tutors) is spending Christmas with us again this year. On Christmas Eve she and my dad worked together to build a charming little gingerbread house.

Reading The Gingerbread Baby after building the gingerbread house

Reading The Gingerbread Baby after building the gingerbread house

Christmas morning Ashley made a scrumptious batch of pancakes for breakfast, including one in the shape of a gingerbread boy for Sarah.

Sarah's gingerbread boy pancake

While the rest of us were savoring the food and fellowship, Sarah could hardly wait to get through breakfast and family devotions. When the approval finally came, she made a mad dash for the tree and it was all we could do to get her to wait for everyone else before opening presents. Sarah has been praying for an American Girl doll for a long time and was absolutely delighted to receive one from her parents. Sarah and Mia

We spent an enjoyable afternoon with family and friends and closed the evening with music and a good time of family discussion.

games

music

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” Luke 2:10-11, 14.

This morning my mom and I were deeply moved by Eileen Berry’s new hymn text Carol of Joy.  While attending Bob Jones University, Miss Berry would graciously give a friend and me a ride to Mount Calvary Baptist Church on Wednesday nights.  This godly lady has a real heart for the Lord.  She has written a number of songs that have really ministered me.  So May I Pray and  I Lift My Love to Thee are particularly meaningful.  The following is the text to her new Christmas hymn Carol of Joy:

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows, Dark closing in…
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!

Oh fallen world, to you is the song—
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!

Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night;
Hear angel music—hopeful and bright!

Oh fearful world, to you is the song—
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound—
A carol of joy! A Saviour is found!

Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies!
Look up sad hearted—witness God’s love!
Join in the carol swelling above!

Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven’s joy to you may belong!
You who are lonely, laden, forlorn—
Oh fallen world! Oh friendless world!
To you,
A Saviour is born!

Dan Forrest has written a magnificent setting for this text.  You can listen to it here

C&C Christmas PartyWhat a busy Christmas season this has been!  The day after the Keepers at Home Christmas party, we hosted the annual College and Career Caroling and Christmas Party.  After caroling to a number of older members in our congregation, everyone came to our house for refreshments, games, and a book exchange.  One of my favorite aspects of the party each year is hearing the special Christmas songs and readings everyone prepares. 

Phil, Heather, Becky, and Ashley
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Christa
Charity and Bethany
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“We Wish You a Merry Christmas!”
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Michael and Ashley
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The next major event was our students’ annual Christmas recital.  What a joy to hear and see the fruit of many hours of hard work and diligent practice! 
 Katherine
Julie
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James
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Sarah S.
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Igor
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The day after the recital we were finally able to make the trip to Greenville to deliver the Gerber family’s portrait. 
Unloading
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Unveiling
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Gerber Family
After the unveiling, Isabelle and Anya treated us to a delightful Christmas concert on cello and violin. 
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A couple days after our return from Greenville, it was time for our annual Christmas Bible Club Party.  Many neighborhood children were able to attend and enjoy re-enacting the Christmas story, watching a puppet show, playing hand-bells, games, and more. 
 Human Christmas Tree Contest
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Choosing a Winner
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Snack Time!
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On Christmas Eve we received a most wonderful gift–my brother called from Iraq!!  What a joyful time we all had exchanging news and just hearing Kenny’s voice! 
Kenny
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After the rush of the season, my family and I were very grateful to spend Christmas morning in quiet, joyful celebration of our Lord and Savior’s birth. 
I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. 
Luke 2:10-11

This past Thursday we hosted the annual Keepers at Home Club Christmas Tea Party in our home.  During the first hour, Ashley led us in our normal club routine, with a few Christmas modifications.

Ashley, Mrs. Hinson

Mrs. Bennett graciously agreed to lead our sign language segment.  (Mrs. Coleman was home with Hannah’s new baby brother Luke!  Congratulations, Coleman family!!) 

Mrs. Bennett

After our Bible lesson, about Mary’s submission to the Lord’s will (Luke 1:38), we enjoyed a lovely tea party and games. 

Tea Table

Musical Presents

 I thank the Lord for another wonderful semester of Keepers at Home Club and look forward to seeing the great things He will do in the coming new year. 

Blogging, as well as nearly everything else, has been on hold these past two weeks for Thanksgiving and then an all-out push to complete a painting. 

We enjoyed a very pleasant Thanksgiving this year.  Unfortunately, my dad had to work; however, our “in-town” relatives and a couple of friends spent the day with us.  After all the preparations were complete, we enjoyed a delicious meal and fellowship around the table. 

Children’s Table (and Cromwell)

Dining Room Table

Thanksgiving Dinner

Dyson

After dinner we all retreated to the living room to sing hymns and count our many blessings.  We especially missed Kenny during this time.  He always brings a spirit of liveliness to any gathering.  (I hope you had a good Thanksgiving in Iraq, Kenny!)

Grandma

Miss Martha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandpa, Aunt Jean, Josh

Jaime and Skylar

Ashley (tuning the guitar)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama

 Josh, Ashley, Vida, Aunt Jane

Daddy, Home from Work

The week after Thanksgiving, I spent nearly every free minute trying to finish the Gerber Family portrait.  It has been in my studio far too long.

Finally, after countless hours of work, the portrait was finished!  To prepare the painting for delivery the next morning, my dad and I took it outside to spray on a temporary, protective varnish.  Suddenly I realized that Mr. Gerber’s eye, which I had worked on late into the night the previous day, had vanished.  Upon closer inspection, it became apparent that the varnish had caused several areas of wet paint to bleed.  All that work ruined in few moments time.  I was devastated.  We canceled our trip to Greenville to deliver the painting, and now, I must return back to the easel to repair the damage. 

God has a purpose in this set-back, as well as all the delays I have faced with the delivery of this painting over the past several months.  I must trust Him and be faithful in the tasks He has given me to accomplish. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9