Thursday, December 30, 2010

A New Year's Poem for Christians

Instead of making a New Year's resolution
Consider committing to a biblical solution
Your promises are easily broken
Empty words, though earnestly spoken
But God's Word transforms the soul
By His Holy Spirit making you whole
As you spend time alone with Him
He will change you from within

-- Mary Fairchild

What a great reminder to us that His yoke is easy and His burden light.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Leftover Ham Anyone?

Looking forward (just a little) to my favorite part of a holiday meal... the leftovers. This is our favorite cornbread recipe and we feel it must go in a cast-iron skillet. It's great with leftover ham. The recipe is taken from the cookbook, "Cornbread."

Mary Baird's Johnny Cake
Vegetable oil cooking spray 1 cup unbleached white flour, preferably King Arthur brand
3/4 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal 1/3 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg 1 cup milk
2-3 T. butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with oil, and set aside.

Sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking power and salt into a medium bowl.

Break the egg into a second medium bowl, and whisk it well. Whisk in the milk and melted butter.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients with as few strokes as possible, and transfer the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Consider the Shepherds

Read this secular description of shepherds historically, as found at

"Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations, beginning some 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Sheep were kept for their milk, meat and especially their wool. Over the next millennia sheep and shepherding spread throughout Eurasia.
Some sheep were integrated in the family farm along with other animals such as chickens and pigs. To maintain a large flock, however, the sheep must be able to move from pasture to pasture; this required the development of an occupation separate from that of the farmer. The duty of shepherds was to keep their flock intact and protect it from wolves and other predators. The shepherd was also to supervise the migration of the flock and ensured they made it to market areas in time for shearing. In ancient times shepherds also commonly milked their sheep, and made cheese from this milk; only some shepherds still do this today.

"In many societies shepherds were an important part of the economy. Unlike farmers, shepherds were often wage earners, being paid to watch the sheep of others. Shepherds also lived apart from society, being largely nomadic. It was mainly a job of solitary males without children, and new shepherds thus needed to be recruited externally. Shepherds were most often the younger sons of farming peasants who did not inherit any land. Still in other societies, each family would have a family member to shepherd its flock, often a child, youth or an elder who couldn't help much with harder work; these shepherds were fully integrated in society.

"Shepherds would normally work in groups either looking after one large flock, or each bringing their own and merging their responsibilities. They would live in small cabins, often shared with their sheep and would buy food from local communities. Less often shepherds lived in covered wagons that traveled with their flocks.

"Shepherding developed only in certain areas. In the lowlands and river valleys, it was far more efficient to grow grain and cereals than to allow sheep to graze, thus the raising of sheep was confined to rugged and mountainous areas. In pre-modern times shepherding was thus centered on regions such as the Middle East, Greece, the Pyrenees, the Carpathian Mountains, and Scotland."
Now, reflect on such shepherds being chosen to be the first people to greet our Savior, Jesus. Wow!

8 That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, 10 but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! 11 The Savior -- yes, the Messiah, the Lord -- has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!" 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others -- the armies of heaven -- praising God: 14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors. " 15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, 19 but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said. Luke 2:8-20 (NLT)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Personal Favorite Christmas Hymn

There’s a Song in the Air
lyrics by Josiah Gilbert Holland; tune by Karl P. Harrington

There’s a song in the air! There’s a star in the sky!

There’s a mother’s deep prayer and a baby’s low cry!

And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,

For the manger of Bethlehem cradles the King!

There’s a tumult of joy o’er the wonderful birth,

For the virgin’s sweet Boy is the Lord of the Earth.

Aye! the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,

For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

In the light of that star lie the ages impearled;

And that song from afar has swept over the world.

Every hearth is aflame, and the beautiful sing

In the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!

We rejoice in the light, and we echo the song

That comes down through the night from the heavenly throng.

Aye! we shout to the lovely evangel they bring,

And we greet in His cradle our Savior and King!

Born in Belchertown, Massachusetts, Josiah Gilbert Holland began his professional career as a medical doctor. Soon he became involved in writing and editorial work and eventually helped establish Scribner's Magazine. "There's a Song in the Air" first appeared in a Sunday School collection in 1874, and five years later it was included in Holland's Complete Poetical Writings. The present tune was composed for these words by Karl P. Harrington approximately 25 years later. The composer was recognized as a church musician, serving in various Methodist churches as organist and choir director. He was also one of the musical editors for the Methodist Hymnal of 1905, when the present version of the carol first appeared.

Hymn lyrics and biographical information found at:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mary Had Parents and Other Amazing Discoveries

36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38 (NIV)

“The Gospels do not name the parents of Mary. But tradition says that her parents’ names were Anne and Joachim.” The Little Blue Book: Advent and Christmas Seasons 2010-2011

I find it so exciting to uncover new facts about people in the Bible. Mary had parents... with names! Their names are not mentioned in the Bible but discovering what was likely their names just makes them more human to me. Every Bible character was real. Like you. Like me.

After reading about Mary’s parents, my mind made a connection. In Luke, we read of the prophetess Anna, who got to meet baby Jesus on His first trip to the temple. Perhaps Mary felt an extra special connection to this woman because her name was so very close to the name of Mary’s own mother. Mary was, after all, still quite young and had just endured a very controversial pregnancy. Then, she’d traveled to a strange town and delivered a baby in a stable! God may have known she needed a special comfort right about that time. The Bible tells us that Mary pondered in her heart the unique occurrences that happened with her firstborn son. I would have loved reflecting on the fact that one of the very first people to give thanks for my son in the temple... shared a name so similar to my Mama!

As you read the Christmas story this season, look for your own nuggets of new discovery. We’re all quite familiar with the story, but its appearance in God’s Holy Word makes it living and breathing scripture (II Timothy 3:16). A story capable of touching you in new ways. A story that can change you every time.