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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Too Big a Pill to Swallow?


Is that idea of a virgin birth
too big a pill for you to swallow?
It gets in the way of faith
for a whole lot of folks.

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Today’s sermon
by Rev. Steve Hundley
at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
in Ennis, MT
dealt with that subject…
the virgin birth.
He titled it:

Conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and Born of the Virgin Mary


It’s a stumbling block for many
To think of a baby born of a virgin…
The idea can seem like a fairy tale.
It can be a pill too big to swallow.

Some people believe Christ was
Half God and half human.
Only One who is fully God
Can atone for our sins.

Only one who is fully human
Can experience our suffering and pain.
So many deny Jesus’ duality:
Jesus was born divine and became human.

Philippians 2:7
“But made himself nothing,
taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men.”


This verse is our first statement of faith:
He found Himself as human
And humbled Himself.
He chose to be dependent on humans.

Jesus could not have been born
Without that simple peasant girl;
And He suffered all the human pain
And a cruel and painful death.

It’s a gigantic leap of faith
To fully believe the virgin birth.
But, take comfort in knowing
Even the disciples had trouble.

Even though they walked
With Jesus on this earth,
They had trouble believing
He was the Holy Son of God.

The initial act of faith
Is not that total belief.
The initial act of faith
Is to invite Jesus into your heart.

When your own life is changed
By the love of Christ in you,
Then your faith will grow;
You will share that faith with others.

Jesus sees the pearls in the dust.
Not what we are, but
What God intends us to become.
In Christ, our faith can help us get there.

We don’t begin as full believers.
We begin as that dependent manger child.
We begin looking for a Teacher of Wisdom,
And Jesus, the Holy Son of God enters.

Let Him walk with you.
Let Him help your faith to grow.
When it comes to faith,
The heart is one step ahead of the intellect!

Pastoral Prayer

by Steve Hundley

We have run our yearly race to Bethlehem, O Lord, and many are tired from what has been a very difficult year.  We know that You did not mean it that way, but intended for Your Son’s birth to bring us peace and joy and renewal, and a sense of togetherness that comes from this season of love and giving.

In the stillness of this moment we turn our hearts to You as the needle of a compass points to True North.  Amidst all the tension of this year, may You remain at the center, calling us to hope and to clarity of purpose.  On the eve of a new year, give guidance to us and the nations of the world, as we seek to find our way out of this pandemic.  Incline our hearts to modesty, honesty, and compassion.  Let us be tender to all of those in need, especially the young, the old, the tired, the poor, the sick, and all who are struggling just to survive.,,

So many have died these last 10 months, O Lord.  Hold in Your arms those who grieve, whose spirits are distressed by the loss of loved ones, or jobs, or homes in all of the uncertainty that surrounds them.  Speak to us in our worship, we pray, in something heard or seen or felt, that we may go from this place of worship with a renewed sense of Your presence in our lives.

Let the months before us bring rest to a weary world and hope to millions who continue to dwell in darkness.  Use us who wait before You to accomplish Your will, through devotion and imagination and love.  We pray this prayer in the name of Christ our Savior… Amen

May you, my dear WP friends,
find the peace,
comfort,
hope,
and clarity of purpose
for which we pray.

This describes my purpose! I will declare His coming
and live in modesty, honesty, and compassion.

How about your clarity of purpose?

Thanks for visiting JanBeek.
Don’t forget to comment below.
I would love to hear about
your Sunday and your purpose.
Hugs!!

See ya tomorrow…

A Blessed Christmas


I am grateful for you, dear WordPress friends.
I pray your day was blessed indeed.
Merry Christmas!

ZOOM Christmas

Did you get to actually be with your family? Or did you ZOOM with them as we did? The picture above is Christmas Eve morning. Bob & I had the opportunity to see and talk with (left to right) our son, Ty, [then that’s us], group shot of our grandson and granddaughter with our son’s in-laws, then my niece, Jodie & her husband, Bill and son, Liam, from their home in PA, our daughter #2 Laina in the Baltimore area, and our daughter-in-law, Monika, in CA. We had a wonderful hour-long conversation. Next best thing to being together in person! Thank you, ZOOM!!

Bob gave me this wonderful, warm sweater.
Laina sent us this warm greeting this morning.
She is such a thoughtful, loving daughter!
Our grandson sent us this adorable picture,
thanking us for the slippers we sent to him and his adorable girlfriend.
My dear friend, Terry, gave me this Willow Creek angel for Christmas.
You know how angels are an important part of my life.
How sweet and thoughtful of her!

What are the gifts that brightened your day today?
I hope you are feeling as blessed as we are.

A photo from our daughter, DeAna, in Switzerland
brightened our Christmas. So nice to see her
with her hubby, two of her 3 boys, plus her mother-in-love.
Our dear neighbor, ,Scott, treated us to a very special bottle of wine.
We are decanting it to enjoy it with our special dinner…
a standing rib roast. Wish you could share it with us!
We’re looking forward setting up and learning to use this gift from our son and his wife.
Technology continues to amaze us… the advances are amazing!

Bob & I are using our relatively new smoker to smoke a standing rib roast for our Christmas dinner. Like technology, things like smokers and cell phones require a learning curve. We’re on the uphill side of that curve!

We called our neighbor/friend, Whooter, for help this morning when we were trying to figure out how to do this. Dear Whooter texted us back, sent us a photo that made our day, and gave us the advice we needed. Love that guy!!

I’m sure he didn’t intend me to broadcast this photo,
but you needed a good laugh, too, right?

Whooter gave us a great recipe for a rub to put on the meat, and meat thermometers to help us know we are headed in the right direction in the smoking process. God bless him! Do you have neighbors who are life-savers for you at times like this?

Our good friends, the Delektas, had a present under our tree today.
It’s a gorgeous knife that will be the greatest tool for carving this roast
if it ever smokes sufficiently for us to eventually eat it!
Don’t get in the way, TazE… it’s sharp!!

As we prepare for our Christmas dinner, we are listening to the horrible news about the bombing in Nashville this morning. So sad that there are such sick people out there! How could someone intentionally do something so devastating?

Our prayers go out for those who were injured and prayers of gratitude that there are no known fatalities. We have friends who live in Nashville- not far from this blast. And I have a cousin who lives there. My heart goes out to all those in Harm’s Way. We all are affected by such atrocities. It makes us all feel vulnerable. It saddens my heart.

God be with those firefighters who were injured.
May they recover fully and be home with their families soon.

I am enjoying this beautiful pillow that our friends, Sue & Jerry gave us this Christmas.
What’s a favorite gift that you have been given?

Thank God for each minute you are given to share
the love, joy, and peace that are Jesus Christ’s gifts to us.
Have a very Merry Christmas, my friends.
Our standing rib roast WILL be done soon.
I am counting on it.

Sigh…
The smoker keeps shutting off.
We may have to call Whooter again!
(That’s just an internet photo!!)

Merry Christmas, my friends.
What did you do today?

See ya tomorrow.

Hugs from JanBeek, Bob & TazE!

Never Go Back!


No, I don’t want to go back!
I don’t want to revisit the old normal.
Surely as we move from 2020
to a new year, we’ll create a better normal.

This is my prayer this Christmas:
Lord, help us learn what You
have in mind for us to learn
from this rare year we’ve just survived.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Letter from a Wordsmith

With his permission, I am sharing with you the first part of a Christmas letter I received this week from my former pastor, Rev. Brent Mitchell. He is a master wordsmith! He said what’s in my heart so much better than I could have said it.

“Mark it how you will,
2020 was a year not lost,
but forever to be remembered
for both its absences
and its unexpected gifts.

By the middle of March,
it became apparent that
what we thought as normalcy
had left its predictable confines
for parts unknown,
leaving no forwarding address.

Masked and gloved,
we were left to fend for ourselves
absent even the comfort
of shaking hands
or intimate conversations,
the communion around tables,
camaraderie of birthdays celebrated,
the sacred closeness of hospital visits.

Absent of the humanizing connectivity,
of those familiar and holy intersections,
we were left to laugh alone,
to cry alone,
and hope in seclusion.
It cost us treasures we never knew
were so valuable
and time that cannot be recalled.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“But admit it:
There were unexpected gifts.
There were letters we finally wrote,
the books we never touched until now,
the prolonged stillness that allowed us to think again,
and listen to what our hearts were saying.

We talked to God
because the hours got quiet enough
to hear His still small voice.
It happened because we watched enough TV
to realize we had watched TV enough,
and golden silence gave us gifts
that weren’t insipid.

“I think, in short, that if we were paying attention,
not only did we get older,
but almost certainly wiser
because even a painful awareness
of what lurks in our hearts and minds
is worth more than gold.

The gift was rediscovering
at a visceral level
that we really are never alone;
nor in the absence of everyone,
are we left unloved.

“My prayer is that when this is over,
and it will one day be over,
we won’t forget the things we learned
the hard way this year:
that God willing,
we’ll never go back
to the tired normalcy of endless distractions,
of busyness as usual,
and the noise that never ends.”

The Mitchell Musings
December 2020
Peace to you.
Good Night, my friends.
Have a wonderful Christmas Eve Day.

Thanks for visiting JanBeek.
I leave with you my hopes and wishes
for a most Blessed Christmas.

I CAN Keep it Simple


If you have followed my blog for a month or more,
you have seen this journal before.
The topics are inspired by life and living.
I have written about:
I CAN
Volunteer
Share
Bee Hospitable
Tackle Transitions
etc.

Little did I know when I wrote some of those how difficult some would become. Hospitality requires guests, right? Well, so much for that! Most of our friends are afraid in this pandemic world to socialize.

Little did I know how hard it would become to volunteer. Most of my volunteer activities are forbidden right now. I can’t be a “Purple Lady” at the medical center desk. Our auxiliary couldn’t hold its fund raiser this year. We couldn’t earn the money to donate for new equipment and/or medical supplies as we have done in the past.

Yes, that’s right… $31,700. donated .
And remember, we are a little town of about 1,000 residents!
We couldn’t have our usual Madison Valley
Medical Center Christmas party.

Little did I realize how many opportunities I would have to “Tackle Transitions.” Back in June of 2018 when I wrote on that topic, God knew what was coming, but none of us had a clue. My transitions poem was prophetic:

Times of transition
Can be disconcerting –
Facing the unknown
Running, dodging, skirting.

Life is full of changes;
Nothing stays the same.
Rolling with the punches –
Listening for our name.

In the “roll call” of life,
Showing up to be
Ready for transitions
Sometimes is difficult for me.

But I know the Leader
Is my Maker who decides
What my next assignment is.
In Him my life abides.

So, embrace the coming changes;
Set aside all fear and sorrow.
Joyfully put your hand in His;
He’s gotcha covered for tomorrow.

Choosing JOY in the midst of this pandemic is not easy.
My list of “I Can” do’s has changed this year.
But, I try to keep it positive:

I CAN
Believe
Only Imagine
ReJOYce
Whistle!

You recognize some of those. They became blogging themes.
This morning’s I CAN prompted today’s post:

I CAN
Keep it Simple

No large family gatherings
No stockings stuffed with toys
No sounds of giggling laughter
From excited girls and boys

No trudging through the snow
With accordion on my back
No carols at windows
Or St. Nicholas with his sack

It’s a different sort of year
COVID-19 has changed us quite a lot
We cancelled our travel plans
And we altered what we bought

Christmas Day will be different
We can mourn the things we miss
Or we can vow to keep it simple
Pray for those we cannot kiss

The virus and death took too many –
They’re in Heaven with our Lord
Let us focus on Christ Jesus
And the grace He richly poured.

Believe the Christmas promise
Jesus came to save our souls
Eternity knows no endings
His love comforts and consoles

Keep it Simple!

This nativity is over a hundred years old.
It belonged to my grandmother.
I treasure its simplicity.
My sister is one who went to her eternal home this year.
Sally would have been 83 on December 20th.
Eternity knows know endings.
I will see her again someday.
I Believe!
Thank You, Jesus!!

Have a Beautiful Christmas Week!
Thanks for visiting JanBeek today.
See you tomorrow.

God is Whistling


As I sat
in my sanctuary
this morning,
with the painting of Jesus praying
looking at me,


I stopped
and appreciated the peace,
the quiet,
the calmness.

I tuned my ears
to God
and
what do you think I heard?
God whistled at me!

No, God didn’t whistle like Roger Whittaker.
He didn’t even whistle like this obsessed whistler below.

No, God whistled through the trees outside in my snow-covered yard.

Didn’t take long for the snow to blow off the trees!


The wind was blowing at about 30 miles per hour.

Some people might find that sound
annoying
or
frightening.
I found it inspiring.

Here is the poem it inspired:

God Is Whistling

God is whistling
At me this morning
The trees are dancing
Sending out a warning

A storm is coming
The sky is darkening gray
We’re going to have snow
Again on Christmas day

I listened to His whistle
For in it there was joy
I heard His song announcing
The coming of His Boy

I can whistle His arrival
I can join God’s happy tune
‘Cuz I celebrate this season
Christ the Lord is coming soon

Alice Paschal drawing

I imagine those doves are cooing
as they peer down on the Christ Child.

I can whistle a cooing sound of a dove.
Try it.
God is listening.

I can whistle. Can you?
Whistle a love song.
Whistle a Christmas carol.
Whistle along with your favorite song of the season.
Here’s another Roger Whittaker for your listening pleasure:

I hope that made you smile.
Nothing like a cheerful whistle!
Thanks for visiting JanBeek.

I love you!


Have a Marvelous Monday.
See ya tomorrow.

Play Along!


Mary played along.
She didn’t complain.
Mary sang a song.
What a role model!

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Today’s sermon was titled,
“Responding to God’s Call.”
Luke 1:26-38 was the scripture passage.
Mary responded with such grace and faith.
Listen to Rev. Steve Hundley’s message
at today’s Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
-recorded through Jan’s poetic filters.

Responding to God’s Call

Luke described the coming
Of the Angel Gabriel to Mary.
Many artists have been inspired
To depict the scene; they’re varied.

Some created majestic scenes
With mountains and waterfalls,
But that wasn’t the vision recorded.
It’s a simple scene when God calls.

Gabriel doesn’t ask permission.
He simply tells her what will be,
The Bible says she was perplexed.
More in shock, it seems to me.

Whatever plans Mary may have had,
God comes and intervenes.
Like Mary, God has plans for us.
Listen to this story; hear what it means.

We can plan our lives carefully,
But often we’re face with interruptions.
Unexpected events order our future;
Often they keep us from corruption.

God’s plans always exceed ours.
But still, we have questions galore.
Unlike Mary, we ask for clarification.
We want to understand more.

It’s not every day an angel appears
And announces what’ll come next.
But often life chooses us
And leaves us totally perplexed.

In real life, we have choices.
We can say yes or shout NO!
We can become stoic and look away;
We can be stubborn and refuse to go.

When God throws us curve balls,
We might become angry and defensive.
We might throw our hands up
And become bitter; but that’s expensive.

It costs us our peace of mind.
It takes away unexpected joy.
If Mary had been so inclined,
It might have cost her that Baby Boy!

Let it be to me according
To your Word, O Lord, my Christ.
When You send Your instructions,
May I say “Yes!” without thinking twice.

Nothing is impossible with God.
Tune in!
And play along!!
Amen

Photo by Keenan Constance on Pexels.com

There may be an angel standing by your fire, sending out signals and you’re unaware.
There may be a message blowing in the wind, and you can’t hear it.
There may be an assignment God is giving you, and you don’t know it.
Tune in! Listen up! Play along!!

Jan with Great-grandson, Xander

Notes during the Pastoral Prayer today:

“God came into a troubled world.
Come again, Lord Jesus,
For we, too, are troubled.
We need You.

We are suffering.
Pain is taking its toll.
Come and bring power and healing
To those who are hurting.

Bring comfort to those
Who have lost loved ones.
Come again, Lord Jesus.
Bring deliverance.

We wait for You.”

Amen

Every heart is longing for our King
Whether they know it or not.
Let your light shine.
Sing!
Play along!!

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for visiting JanBeek today.
Have a blessed Sunday.
See you tomorrow.
HUGS!

Christmas Music


Want a treat?
Tune in to the Bozeman Symphony concert on YouTube.
The first part is strings, but hang in there …
… the second section is brass (French horn, trumpet, and trombone).
That was Bob’s and my favorite.
It’s whimsical, delightful, cheery.
Just what I needed this morning…
Only one week before Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas!
Have a Healthy and Happy One.
Love,
JanBeek

See ya tomorrow

Thanks for visiting.
You comment would make my day:
What’s YOUR favorite Christmas music?

Bah Humbug!


It’s that time of year again. “Bah Humbug!” declared Mr. Scrooge.
Our sermon today started on that same note.
See my poetic notes below.

Rev. Steve Hundley
Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
Ennis, Montana
12-6-20

“Here We Go…”

“Well, here we go again,”
The woman spoke with regret.
The Christmas season has arrived –
We must prepare lest we forget.

Prepare for peace on earth –
Prepare for goodwill toward men.
But will we feel the peace?
Will there be good will again?

This year seems so very strange.
It’s hard to enter with trust
The coming of the Christ Child.
But trust and hope we must!!

God’s chosen people felt
The same worn-out feeling of despair.
They wee caught in the wilderness,
Feeling God was no longer there.

In this time of pandemic,
We’re tired of this quarantine.
The pain and struggles continue.
What does all this mean?

Are we caving in to hopelessness?
Can’t we remember God is good?
We must live hearing His promise
And believe He’ll save us as He said He would.

If we have ears to hear
And we have eyes to see,
Know God’s message, “Here we go anew,”
Is meant for you and me.

God has the power to get us out
Of this situation we’re in.
Believe! Have faith in God.
Carry His hope. Carry His light within.

Share that light with others.
Walk in His way and then you’ll know
The peace and trust Jesus brings.
“Here we go anew!” Let it glow.

Advent is about preparing room
For something new at our place.
So stay alert and wait with faith.
God is coming in Christ – Clear a space!

Amen

Our friend, Jim Forsberg, sang this beautiful song
today in church, accompanied by his guitar
(sung here by the marvelous Susan Boyle).
The words are so beautiful.
Be sure to click on that link and enjoy.

Prayer of Confession:
“Merciful God, always with us, always coming: We confess that we do not know how to prepare for Your Advent. We have forgotten how to hope in miracles; we have been distracted by the challenges of the past nine months. Forgive us, O God. Grant to us the simple wonder of the shepherds, the intelligent courage of the Magi, and the patient faith of Mary and Joseph that we may rediscover the good news of the child born for us. Amen”

Merry Christmas, my friends.
Happy Advent.
No “Bah Humbug” here!

Thanks for visiting JanBeek today.
I pray your Sunday was a lovely one.

Thanks for all your love-filled comments on the
“Dogs in Heaven?” post yesterday.
My friend, Fran appreciates all your prayers.

May your week be blessed indeed.
Bee well!!

The Reason


The Reason for the season
Is not always clear.
Today as I was decorating,
This message caught my ear.

Time to decorate
For the coming of Jesus.
It’s Holiday Time.

Time to decorate
The foyer and entryway;
Put up Christmas wreaths.

This fresh wreath is in the cool foyer
This one’s in the entry
(on the other side of the foyer).
See the stairs to my sanctuary there?

Time to decorate
Dining room and kitchen, too.
Poinsettia in place.


Time to decorate
Living room and outside, too.
Hang lighted snowflake.

Time to decorate
For the coming of Christmas
Where is the manger?

Is Jesus in your decor?

I can decorate.
The reason for the season
Must be apparent.

Bring out the hand-made stockings
and all the memories
those stockings bring to mind!
When I hang this little guy
on the tree, I remember
Bob’s years as a beekeeper.
Bob’s Aunt Nora made this one.
She lives on in our hearts.
Before we had TazE,
we had two other Boston Terriers:
Angelo and Angela.
Their memories remain alive with these ornaments.
Remembering our Bostons
is part of the Christmas joy.

Look carefully at that picture.
Santa is back there…
But in front of him is a clay manger scene.
It looks pretty primitive.
That’s because it is!
Out son made this as an art project
in Sunday School when he was about 6 years old.
He’s now 55.

Do you keep such works of art
and take them out each year
to treasure the memories?

Can you guess
what this is?

It is a case from a friend who visited from Africa –
and in the case are these darling manger scene figures
made from grasses:

They remind me of our dear
friend from Zimbabwe, Lamiel,
who lives in my heart.
Grandma Beekman’s Christmas egg

When the Christmas decoration boxes come up from the basement, with them come so many memories.
This is a real egg with a window cut out by my dear mother-in-law, Laura Belle Beekman.
She painted it red, decorated it, and added a musical angel to the center of it.
It was my Christmas gift from her in the early 60’s, shortly after Bob & I were married.
With her Faberge’ style eggs, she comes alive again – and lives in our Christmas decor.

See the date on this?
1971!!

When I hang this ornament on our tree each year,
my Hillsborough, California kindergarten class comes alive.
This one with our kitty,
was the sample I made as my students were creating theirs –
with a picture of themselves on their ornaments.
One of those students, Heidi, still has hers.
She posted it on FaceBook last week.
What a treasure!
Heidi is now 55!!

The boxes of ornaments are filled with memories.
Not all can go on the tree…
But it’s such fun to decorate.

How are you doing with your holiday decorations?
Have you put up a tree?
Or do you have a Menorah?
Or an Advent Wreath?
Tell me about your decorating fun this time of the year.

And meantime, click on the link below
and enjoy two of my favorite singers
singing one of my favorite Christmas songs.

Merry Christmas is coming…
Enjoy your decorating!
And don’t forget the
REASON for the SEASON!!
See ya tomorrow.
Love, JanBeek

Give Cheerfully


Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

2 Corinthians 9:7

“Each of you should give
what you have decided to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.com

I give cheerfully
Not out of obligation
But from abundance

I am richly blessed
So I can be a blessing
I give cheerfully

You are richly blessed
Your needs are taken care of
Reach out to others

You give cheerfully
Out of a generous heart
And God blessed you

Thank You!

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Have a blessed first Sunday in Advent!
It is a season of HOPE and ANTICIPATION.
I pray your season be filled with love and generosity.

Do you have a child or grandchild in your family who would love to see this video explaining the meaning of Advent? If so, pass this along. It’s wonderfully kid friendly… and a good way to begin the season of gifts and giving.

Before I go, let me give a gift to you:
The gift of music by Laura Story…
The blessing of faith in the “what ifs” of life…

God bless You!
See ya tomorrow.

Hugs from
JanBeek

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