Christmas is often called the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” This may be because when the Virgin Mary gave birth to the Savior, the world looked for many things to be made right through a strong leader. Most believed that the Messiah would bring peace and a new world order. He would come in glory to accomplish this task.
How disappointing for those who refused the humble birth. How could it possibly be? Yet, God’s ways are mostly not our ways. He chooses to accomplish His purposes even if they do not fit what we expect.
We often hear the question, “What would Jesus do?” As we look to Him for our daily answers to human problems, we are looking for a man’s point of view…even a Holy, Incarnate Man as He was. My question in this blog post is different. What would the Mother of the Son of God do?
This woman, who was young, was told by an angel a shocking message for her and her fiance, Joseph.
“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored!”
The Gospel of Luke says that the angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her that she would give birth to a son. The angel told Mary that she should call her son Jesus. The angel also said that Jesus would save people from their sins. Mary asked the angel how she could be pregnant since she was a virgin.
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”
After the birth, the angel appeared again:
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
Mary, like any Mother, watched her Son, Jesus grow and learn. She was there when he performed miracles and saw him be betrayed and given into the hands of those who would crucify him. Her sorrows were practically more than she could endure.
The Ressurection and the Ascending into heaven by her Son followed as part of her life. Throughout it all, this woman knew that God was in control.
So…back to the question...If Mary had to face some of the family sorrows that we face today, what would she do? We think of this perfect Mother, highly venerated, who would do no wrong. Yet, she was as human as any of us. Would she advise us to look at the Holy Scriptures when the father waited and waited for his son who had left home? Would she say to never give up hope? Would she point to this father (and perhaps a waiting mother) who finally saw his prodigal son coming from afar who had seen the error of his ways?
Would she have forgiven when children neglected their older parents and simply be grateful for those who are loving and caring, like her Son who asked a disciple to care for her as he died on the cross? Does this mean that a person not a member of the immediate family might be more caring and loving than the blood relation?
When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)
All these are hard questions, but as a Mother, she would understand things from a woman’s (and Mother’s) point of view.
Even the first miracle that Christ performed had to do with a problem of a social nature. At the wedding in Cana, Mary was concerned about the fact that the hosts had run out of wine. Jesus felt that His time to reveal His power or that He was the Messiah had not come, but He listened to His Mother’s request for help. He turned the water into wine, which the guests realized to be the best wine. Mary knew Jesus’ power to step into the lives of others in small or great issues. He also wants the best for us regardless of the circumstances.
You may also have some questions for Mary if you could speak to the Mother of the Savior and if she could hear you from heaven. I certainly do. Here is what Mary would do and say… “Take it to Jesus for it is in Him that God with the Holy Spirit answers prayers. He is the beloved Son of God.”
Life is complicated for so many of us. We pray that at this time when we see the beautiful pictures or works of art representing the Mother and Child that we will remember that her faith was strong and unwavering. Her pain was real and so was her joy as she trusted in God to work through the events that seemed beyond help.
Christmas Eve was silent as a baby was born in the manger. He was wrapped carefully by his mother, Mary, in faraway Bethlehem. Here in the United States and around the world, many families go to church on Christmas Eve to sing “Silent Night” and to remember this special event.
Afterward, parents tucked their children safely in bed…hoping they would go to sleep… as they wait for a special visit from Santa Claus. The stockings are hung and the presents are hidden under the tree.
Santa must be very tired when all is said and done. Guiding his sleigh around the world on Christmas Eve was no easy job. What every Santa needs on Christmas is to find some peace and rest. Here on earth, the presents he brought have been unwrapped. The aromas from the stoves cooking Christmas dinner drift around the houses of the neighborhoods. We know the elves have closed up shop, but it leads us to wonder about something else.
“When Santa finished driving his sleigh to the homes of all the good little boys and girls around the world, what did he do with the reindeer?
On Christmas Day, Santa let his reindeer have some fun. He took them to the races!
What races? The reindeer races in Lapland and Finland, of course. Want to see?
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR READERS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Hurry, hurry, hurry! Off they go to shop for that last minute, special Christmas present! Crowds gather in the food court to get a bite to eat after a long, exhausting day. Ordinary people sitting with not-so-ordinary people, who are about to share their love for Christ in concert….not in a church…but wherever one may be…even a shopping mall. See the surprise for the unsuspecting…bringing the focus back to the real meaning of Christmas. Well, why not? It may be the only sacred music heard by many. The Holy Scriptures tells us to “Go into all the world…”
President George HW Bush called for a “kinder nation” and from time to time we will see evidence that there are many kind people in the world. The shame is that most stories we see on TV or on the internet are of the violent and outrageous.
I began looking for some actual videos of kindness…or pictures to prove that it does not matter to what nationality or race one belongs…KINDNESS is kindness…and it crosses all boundaries.
I read about a woman on an airline who had a crying 2-year-old and a 5-year-old. A woman offered to help and hold a child throughout the flight. The mother was so grateful.
A woman holds a little boy for a mother flying with 2 tired children.
I understand this well in that I had three children on an airline from California to Florida. My daughter, who was a baby, cried off and on the entire trip. My sons tried to ignore it and curled up on the floor to sleep. That, in itself, was a no-no. I’m certain the other passengers were beside themselves with hostile thoughts, but no one wanted to reach out to help and make things better. We all lived through it…but barely. One does not realize that it is sometimes impossible to silence a tired, upset child who is used to his/her routine, safely back at home in the bed.
Another act of kindness was a young 13-year-old who went outside in the rain with an umbrella to help an elderly gentleman get home. There is definitely hope for the next generation. This young man made his mother proud…and he should be also.
I happen to be an animal lover. It is easy to love all animals. It is not so easy to love the down and out who may or may not have made their own bed and are now lying in it. Nevertheless, these are exactly the kind of people to whom Jesus Christ reached out …the beggar, the harlot, the unclean and pathetic. He calls us to do the same…not just during Christmas when we have a warm, cheerful heart… but always. We may be the only face of “Christ” that they will see…or the only hands and heart that shows God’s love.
Below is a video that calls for people of all walks of life to reach out to a fellow human being…or an animal that is in distress. Saving a life or making one just a little better is what we need today…this Christmas…and always. Bring your kindness to someone today.
Mathew 25:40 “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto Me.”
Christmas is a time of celebration and belief…belief in the true Christmas when the Savior of the World was born…belief in the joys that surround Christmas. Many of these joys come in different forms. It may be the decorating of the Christmas tree with all the old ornaments that have been carefully put away for another year. It could be baking of a special pie or the wrapping of a present for a special person. The choirs that sing our once a year music and the garlands and wreaths that are hung… bring a light and hope to our lives and in our churches. Some of those lights are bathed in sunlight and swaying moss from the trees, as here in my home state of Florida or in the beautiful snow-covered churches further up north.
Trinity Episcopal Church in Mt. Airy, N.C. Winter snow of 2018
Some say that Christmas is for children. We know it is a special time for them, but the true meaning of Christmas is for everyone.
“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
To have the faith of a child…to be able to hear the ringing inside a small bell when grown-ups have ceased to hear it because of disbelief…is the theme of one of the most loved and cherished of Christmas films, The Polar Express. available online
Recently, my husband and I sat down and watched the entire film. It had been many years since we had seen it, but the “magic” was still there. Tom Hanks plays various parts with different voices, which is analyzed in the video below to the meaning behind the characters presented in this great film.
At this special season, Boyer Writes would suggest that you gather your children or grandchildren around to enjoy the full-length film. You are never too old to bring the joy of belief into your life. In today’s world, we all need to seek to believe in the sacred meaning of Christmas and also in the joys and magic of Merry Christmas that we may have left behind in our childhood!
You may be decorating your house…cooking some beautiful loaves of nut bread for the neighbors or just relaxing. Once Thanksgiving is passed, we go out to find the best frasier fir tree we can find and the decorating begins. It is a great time when we pull out the ornaments that we’ve collected over the years…hang the Moravian Star on the front porch and enjoy the lights of the neighborhood that are beginning to shine.
A Christmas with sweet DD and Gracie
Whatever you’re doing, simply listen to the joy of Christmas music. It’s guaranteed to get you in the spirit of the season. Enjoy!
We have all heard the song, “I’ll be home for Christmas”, but what if some of the people you love will not be there? What if you were not invited to be with your family members in some other location? You may have a family member in the military that is far away and the thing he or she would like most is to be with family, but it is impossible. The song mentioned above is a heartbreak song for many.
There also may be family members who don’t want to share Christmas with you and have made that choice. It is never easy to come to the realization that someone does not want to be with you on one of the most special times of the year…especially for Christians. The question is…How does One deal with a reality at this time of year…or anytime, for that matter?
We really have one of two choices. It can be to let our emotions and disappointment weigh us down OR turn our directions toward a time of thankfulness for all the other blessings that we have.
First, look around you. Do you have other family members who are excited to be with you? Lavish them with your love…for they have not turned away. Do you have a roof over your head and food on the table? Rest in your most comfortable chair and eat with gratefulness. When the old, dark thoughts begin to come back and cloud your day, refuse them and look at the stars or the beautiful trees outside and realize that this life is too short to spend it in mourning…especially things that you can’t change.
Take someone by the hand and give them this message:
For us here in Florida, it may be down by the lake or through a green park, looking at the winter flowers.
Decorate a tree or a bush outside. Turn on some cheerful Christmas music…sacred or otherwise. I never knew how anyone could come up with lyrics like “Grandmother got run over by a reindeer”…but maybe it is good to chuckle and then shake your head because we would never say something like that about our Grandmother.
Give your pet an extra pat on the head and a bone in his stocking. What, no stocking for your dog!? Find one. Our beautiful 14-year-old Golden Retriever passed away this year, but I still strung lights around her memorial garden and whispered to her beautiful spirit, “These lights are just for you, Gracie”. Surprisingly, a beautiful rose appeared on the bush above her little tombstone in the middle of winter.
Beautiful Gracie at Christmas 2015
If none of these spark your imagination or lift your spirits about missing family or friends, turn toward someone outside the family. The scriptures tell us something that we should be doing, not only at Christmas but always.
James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
My husband and I have been surprised on returning to Florida from Virginia, how many people around us are either recent widows or in the last few years have become widowers. We decided to visit them for a while to listen to their thoughts and feelings. One lady has just recently lost her husband and will be having Christmas lunch with us. I mention this to say that when we are feeling “blue” about family situations, it changes things when we reach out.
Don’t forget the different organizations that make it possible to help children who are in need. Recently a child had written to her teacher that he only wanted Santa to bring a ball, some food and added…”I need a blanket.” If that does not pull you out of doldrums, you may need to examine charities like Samaritan’s Purse that brings smiles to children around the world. (See Operation Christmas Child..Samaritan’s Purse)
Christmas is not all about giving or getting. I recently told someone that if I would receive a letter from my children saying anything of appreciation for me as their Mother, THAT would be “the best Christmas present of all.” So often Christmas is hard on those who have had expenses throughout the year and the funds are just not there for presents of any kind. Kind words and thoughtfulness is only the cost of a 50 cent stamp.
I close with this thought, with the help of a little friend, on the real reason for the need to choose a better outlook on the season:
The couple you are going to meet has decided to meet life head-on. They have faith that could have been shattered, but they didn’t allow it to happen. Serving his country, the unthinkable happened. He would be blind for the rest of his life. Hear his story and the words of his beautiful wife. Be inspired and realize that at times the joy we receive in life has to be worked for. This is how they are finding their joy.
Arriving from Germany, my son handed me a slightly squashed gift of marzipan that he had pressed into his suitcase to bring home as a treat for the Christmas season. (Delicious! Thanks, Steve!)
Arranging the marzipan along with the chocolate chip cookies and the tasty treat from my neighbor, I decided to look into the history of marzipan. ( My husband did not think this would be one of my more inspirational or exciting blogs…but I happen to be inquisitive…so here goes. Maybe I can “spice” it up a bit with some mouth-watering German goodies in between the information.)
My research on marzipan brought me to this article on the subject of marzipan written by Johann George Niederegger who was born in 1777 in Ulm and owned Maret Confectioners in Lubeck, Germany
Niederegger wrote: “…Marzipan was invented far away, where almonds and sugar are grown. Rhazes, a Persian doctor who lived from 850 to 923, wrote a book in which he praised the curative qualities of almond and sugar paste. When the crusaders returned from the Orient, they brought with them a host of spices and Oriental secrets.
In 13th century Venice, Naples and Sicily, spices and confectionery were generally traded in tiny boxes. The enchanting word “Mataban” (box) gradually came to be used for the contents of the box: Mazapane (Italian), Massepain (French.), Marzipan (German).
Did you know that even back in the 13th century, the renowned philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas reflected upon the indulgence of eating Marzipan? In his doctrinal teaching, he reassures inquiring and anxious clerics: “Marzipan does not break the fast.”
In his stories, the great novelist Boccaccio clearly describes the correlation between passion and marzipan. In those days, marzipan was topped with gold leaf to crown the sweet temptation.
Great Hanseatic merchant boats brought spices and other prized ingredients to the North. Initially, however, only apothecaries were allowed to trade with sugar and spices. Not until confectionery became a trade in its own right were so-called ‘canditors’ allowed to produce marzipan.
The first Europeans to indulge in marzipan were kings and rich people. It has been reported that Queen Elizabeth I of England, who lived from 1533 to 1603, was addicted to all things sweet. The saying ‘regal enjoyment’ was coined.
Later, at the French ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV’s sumptuous feasts, huge tables laden with marzipan were the order of the day. Marzipan reproductions of all sorts of fruits, poultry and game were created – anything you desired could be made.
In the first half of the 19th century, the general population were now able to sample the almond delicacy to their heart’s content in coffee houses. Now that sugar could be extracted from sugar beet, the costly luxury became slightly more affordable. Marzipan was also particularly popular and prized in Lübeck.
I would now like to tell you something about my life: as a young man, I left my home town of Ulm to become apprenticed to a confectioner, Maret, in Lübeck. In 1806 I was able to open up my own shop. I supplied my wares to kings and tsars. From then on, my reputation grew, thanks to excellent quality. My recipe for marzipan: as many almonds as possible, as little sugar as necessary – is secret, and has been passed on from generation to generation…”
Whether a sugary treat or the many Christmas traditions handed down from Germany to countries around the world, we can all enjoy Christmas music in any language.
The song on this video, Vom Himmel Hoch da komm’ ich her (Eine Version aus dem Jahre 1979) was written by Martin Luther during the Protestant Reformation. Luther wrote this hymn for his five year old son, Hans. It was not published until four years later. It was sung at the annual Christmas Eve festival at the Luther home. A man dressed as an angel would sing the opening verses. The children would greet him with the verse, “Welcome to earth, thou noble guest…” (Perhaps they even had the treats of marzipan at the festival.)
From Heaven above to earth I come,
To bear good news to every home;
Glad tidings of great joy I bring,
Whereof I now will say and sing.
To you, this night, is born a Child
Of Mary, chosen mother mild;
This tender Child of lowly birth,
Shall be the joy of all your earth.
‘Tis Christ our God, who far on high
Had heard your sad and bitter cry;
Himself will your Salvation be,
Himself from sin will make you free.
He brings those blessings long ago
Prepared by God for all below;
That in His heavenly kingdom blest
You may with us forever rest.
These are the tokens ye shall mark,
The swaddling clothes and manger dark;
There shall ye find the young Child laid,
By Whom the heavens and earth were made.
Now let us all, with gladsome cheer,
Follow the shepherds, and draw near
To see this wondrous Gift of God,
Who hath His own dear Son bestowed.
Give heed, my heart, lift up thine eyes!
What is it in yon manger lies?
Who is this Child, so young and fair?
The blessèd Christ Child lieth there!
Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest,
Through Whom e’en wicked men are blest!
Thou com’st to share our misery,
What can we render, Lord, to Thee!
Ah, Lord, who hast created all,
How hast Thou made Thee weak and small,
To lie upon the coarse dry grass,
The food of humble ox and ass.
Were earth a thousand times as fair,
Beset with gold and jewels rare,
She yet were far too poor to be
A narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee.
For velvets soft and silken stuff
Thou hast but hay and straw so rough,
Whereon Thou King, so rich and great,
As ’twere Thy heaven, art throned in state.
Thus hath it pleased Thee to make plain
The truth to us, poor fools and vain,
That this world’s honor, wealth and might
Are naught and worthless in Thy sight.
Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Here in my poor heart’s inmost shrine,
That I may evermore be Thine.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song.
Glory to God in highest Heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given,
While angels sing, with pious mirth,
A glad New Year to all the earth.
This evening our church, St. James Episcopal church in Leesburg, Florida, USA, presented the beautiful music of Christmas. The music and readings shared the Christmas story of eternal hope, brought to us first by a small baby in a manger. This was the beginning of God’s plan for man to know God. It was His purpose to bring the Father’s love and forgiveness to the world. The Christmas story is the plan for redemption for the people of the world through our crucified and risen Lord Jesus. The season of Christmas is more than a “holiday”, it is the HOPE for every man, woman, young person and child.
St. James Episcopal Choir “Sing Noel…Christ is Born!” directed by Deb Carraway and the children’s choir directed by Beth Williams
One of the songs the choir sang, with orchestra accompaniment, was The Candle Light Carol by John Rutter. Here is another version of that music played for your Christmas pleasure by Lyceum Philharmonic. (The American Heritage Lyceum Philharmonic is an audition-only ensemble for advanced high-school-aged musicians. Students perform masterworks of the repertory alongside sacred music… conducted by Kayson Brown.)
Pass on the light of His love and His message of hope. Blessings and Merry Christmas from Boyer Writes
In our lives, we play a role that others see, even though we may not be aware of it. People see us as teacher, parent, clergy, store-keeper, policeman, neighbor and much more. The real person is defined by something other than name. We are often what we represent. Sometimes that is the best part, for people may need, at a certain moment, what you represent more than who you are.
I read a real-life story recently that may be the best Christmas…or worse…that Eric Schmitt Matzen can remember. He had been an army man with the 75th Rangers, but after retirement had grown his beard and for over 80 times took on the role of Santa for many children. This particular day Eric found that his role was desperately important to one little boy.
“All a terminally ill Nashville boy wanted for Christmas was to meet Santa Claus — and he did, and then died in Old St. Nick’s arms. The 5-year-old was minutes away from death when a nurse at the Tennessee hospital where he was being treated called Eric Schmitt-Matzen, a 300-plus-pound mechanical engineer who looks like a real-life Kris Kringle. The 60-year-old, who slips into a Santa outfit for about 80 gigs a year, didn’t even have time to change into his regular getup. He rushed to the hospital 15 minutes later in only his Santa suspenders — though he still looked the part with his long, white beard and prodigious belly. The nurse handed him a gift she had ready for the sick boy.
‘When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep. I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas. Why, you’re my number one elf,’ he told the Knoxville News Sentinel.
The unnamed boy perked up, using his last burst of energy to unwrap the toy. “They say I’m gonna die,” the boy told Schmitt-Matzen. “How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?”
Schmitt-Matzen replied: “When you get there, you tell ‘em you’re Santa’s number one elf, and I know they’ll let you in.” The boy then gave Santa a last hug.
“I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him,” Schmitt-Matzen told the paper. The boy’s mom ran in moments later screaming, “No, no, not yet,” which caused all the nursing staff to break down in tears — and left Schmitt-Matzen devastated.
“I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers and I’ve seen my share of [stuff],” he said. “But I ran by the nurses’ station bawling my head off. I know nurses and doctors see things like that every day, but I don’t know how they can take it.”
Schmitt-Matzen said the moment happened several weeks ago, and it almost made him give up playing Santa. But he managed to attend one more event.
“When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realize the role I have to play — for them and for me.”
(Credits New York Post …Sophia Rosenbaum)
Hug a child today…Christmas is coming soon. Your role today may be as a “hugger” to someone who needs it. Thank you, Eric, for being available to this precious child.
Video (Turn on Sound) Jackie Evancho
Jackie Evancho, known for her beautiful singing voice, as a child. Here is Jackie today.
Nestled in the center of Florida, USA, is a tiny town called Howey in the Hills. Yes, there are actually hills here, as the center of the state has beautiful rolling hills that visitors to the state rarely see. There is much more to Florida than theme parks.
Let me introduce you to Howey. It has one blinking light, a caring and protective police force, one small library, a doctor’s office, post office, a convenience store with gas and a market with a deli, and two beauty salons. An active Community church holds a live nativity scene each year, often with farm animals. Recently our 101 year old resident turned his work of art landscaping into the new town’s Blevins Patriot Park. Visitors often come there to salute those who have served in our country’s military.
The people are friendly and stop to chat as they walk their dogs along the lake front. Gorgeous sunrises are seen early in the morning across beautiful Little Lake Harris. The moss sways gently in the oak trees and the birds arrive each winter from the north to share the trees and lake with the resident birds…like the Sandhill Cranes that roam around the yards.
This town is in Lake County, Florida that gives good fire and rescue service. A brand-new grocery is just across the bridge and several up-scale restaurants at a conference center and a golf course is a short distance from the one stop light. Crime rate is extremely low. A modern school for special needs students is just down the road from the lake. Who would not want to live here? If it ever snowed (which it doesn’t) one could sled down our hills right into the lake. Which might not be a good idea for alligators can occasionally be seen. Boaters fish and once in a while a pontoon airplane lands and takes off.
Each year Howey in the Hills has a Christmas parade. There are activities for all ages and at night lighted boats sail along the lake shore. Small towns close to Howey send their high school bands and color guards to join the festivities along the lake. Eat your heart out if you are sitting in snow and ice. (Notice the school twirlers aren’t wearing snow suits). How many towns have Llamas dressed for Christmas in their parades? These gentle creatures come to show off every year.
Since most of our readers will not be here for this Christmas, we would like to share the spirit of Christmas from our little town with you. God’s blessings on this wonderful time of year.
We cannot forget our Santa Claus who brings up the end of the parade.
Video of Santa at Howey Christmas Parade (Turn on sound)
Most people will not know of Cecil Frances Alexander, who lived in the 1800’s. Her music, however, is played in Christian worship services, especially as a processional in many churches.
Who was C.F. Alexander?
“…The author of this text, Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895), was born in Dublin, Ireland, and began writing in verse from an early age. She became so adept that by the age of 22, several of her hymn texts made it into the hymnbook of the Church of Ireland. Alexander [née Humphreys] married William Alexander, both a clergyman and a poet in his own right who later became the bishop of the Church of Ireland in Derry and later archbishop. Aside from her prolific hymn writing, Mrs. Alexander gave much of her life to charitable work and social causes, something rather rare for women of her day. ” (Michael Hawn and Kristen Hanna)
“…. Money from her first publications had helped build the Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, which was founded in 1846 in Strabane. The profits from Hymns for Little Children were also donated to this school. She was involved with the Derry Home for Fallen Women, and worked to develop a district nurses service. She was an “indefatigable visitor to poor and sick …” (Wikipedia)
One of her most noted songs is “Once in Royal David’s City” which we will play here sung by King’s College Choir in Cambridge, England.
Once in royal David’s city stood a lowly cattle shed, where a mother laid her baby in a cradle for his bed. Mary, loving mother mild, Jesus Christ, her little child.
After the death of her husband, three beautiful stained glass windows were made in honor of three of her most loved hymns: “Once in Royal David’s City”, “There is a green hill far away”, and “The Golden Gates Are Lifted Up”.
At this Christian season of Advent, Boyer Writes would like to share this beautiful song with you. The King’s College Chapel was started in 1446 and took over a century to build. It has the largest “fan” vaulted ceiling in the world and some of the finest medieval stained glass. Their Christmas Eve service is broadcast to millions around the world.
Since you may be thinking of a book for your favorite person or a friend who may be interested in historical fiction or culture in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I am going to give you some shopping ideas from the books that I have written this year. They are all available on Amazon and if you act now, they will be to you before Christmas.
What does it take to love someone so much that one will leave one’s own country and family to follow that person to a people unknown even if it means being homeless and not certain when one will eat the next meal?
We have an example of this in a love story that makes one think that there may have a purpose in some twist in the road that we know not of. We, in the modern world, may even learn a few things from their experience.
I’d like to introduce you to two people.They will be familiar to some…and perhaps not know to other readers. This saga started when the men of the family died, leaving two women, Ruth and Naomi, alone and destitute. Today it would be like a family having no money in the bank; no one to pay the mortgage and not even food stamps would make things the way they used to be. I’m certain at this moment someone is thinking, “I know that feeling for I’ve been there. I even had children that I had to support. “
It may have been a different time in history and these women may not look like you or dress like you, but suffering is the same regardless. The feeling of hopelessness,however, did not mean that there was not faith. Faith was one thing that was abundant in their lives. It is the stepping out on that faith that is the hard part. It is somewhat like wandering in the dark, but believing that there is a Hand that guides.
Decisions had to be made. These two women had a special relationship. Naomi accepted the fact that Ruth had a loyalty and love for her that began when Ruth married her son. They lived in a culture that expected the men of a relative to stand in the gap for the women in their lives. There was no such thing as “women’s lib”. If a brother died, often another brother would take her to be his wife. It was a matter of keeping the family together and the name to continue. The women were dependent upon this custom, which may have led Naomi to take Ruth and return to her own homeland. No one had told Naomi that they would care for her. Ruth also knew that her decision was a difficult one to go with Naomi, but because of her love she was willing to make this choice. Being a foreigner, Ruth could be subjected to all types of prejudice. In essence, she and her mother in law were homeless.
(The lesson…we often have to make decisions even when we do not know what those decisions will lead us into.)
Being a wise women, Naomi, told Ruth to go to the local fields and glean what she could so that they could take the grain and have something to eat. It was a custom when the field owner was harvesting to leave a certain amount of grain standing for the poor. Today we would call it a giving of a 10% or helping out our local food bank for those who need help feeding the family. Naomi did not ask her to stand on the road side with a sign about being homeless and needing help. She only ask her to work and warned her to stay close to other women and to be careful of those who might have bad intentions to her. This she did.
(The lesson: We can pray and hope, but sometimes we have to simply get out there and work…maybe not the work we want…but do what is necessary at the time. )
Because Naomi had come back to the land where she grew up, some of the people knew her and the word soon was out that Naomi was back with her daughter in law. This was news to a distant relative, Boaz, who owned the land where Ruth went to glean. He was curious about the young woman. He instructed his workers to leave her the best portions.
(Lesson: Sometimes God opens a door and makes events happen using people to bless us in a greater way than we expect.)
Even though it is not mentioned, it appears that Ruth and Boaz may have gotten to know one another in the field, for Boaz actually took the matter to a council to see if some man would want her for a wife. Courting and love relations, as we know it today, were not the usual route toward marriages. They were arranged as families united often for economic purposes. None of the men were in favor of the offer, so Boaz, Naomi’s relative, now has his own decision to make.
Ruth goes to Boaz and lays at the end of his bed. Nothing more is told about the relationship, but Boaz decides that Ruth will be his own wife.
The story does not end there for Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed, who was the grandfather of the future great King David. Naomi also became the baby’s nanny.
So often the readers of the Holy Scriptures are turned off by the long line of genealogies, but they are actually important. I must admit that I have skipped many of them. This one was especially important because Jesus became part of this lineage. (See complete lineage)
(Lesson: As we put our lives in God’s hand, we do not know what wondrous things He is working out.)
One must remember that God is not a respecter of persons. His eye even knows when a sparrow falls. If you are in the middle of a troubling situation, do not give up. There is much life to live and many bends around the corner of which you are now not aware. As you reach out to Him, God will be in control.
“All very interesting, but that was a different country; different race and different religion than I am. How can this story apply to my life?”
We are all God’s creation and He even knows when the sparrow falls from the trees…as the deep voice of Sam Gary sings for us in HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW.
Perhaps your Christmas was too involved and busy to settle back and listen to some of the world’s most beautiful music. Put down the phone; turn off the TV and enjoy the best of this Holy Season . This is your moment to listen and meditate on things beautiful while you sip a favorite beverage.
May God bless you in a special way in this New Year.
If he were alive today, would he change his message? Probably not for his focus was not only about the Spirit of America…love of country…but the true meaning of Christmas. He was not politically correct…afraid to offend someone because he was talking about Christmas…but straight to the point. Recorded from the Oval Office in the 1980’s, we are now celebrating Christmas in 2015. We have a need to hear this message from the past more than ever.
Blessings to all my readers. Merry Christmas!
“….trusting in God’s help, we have never lost our way…” President Ronald Reagan
Ever think what actually means the most to a child? At this Christmas season when we are thinking of a special gift for that little one that we love, we may want to think what he or she would grab first if there was a need to run away from danger or they were feeling insecure and afraid.
This may sound strange, but the little boy below had survived the terrors of war and obviously shared this terrifying time with his stuffed animal. Both of them look as if they have had a rough experience. I can only guess that he and his family had to run for a shelter when the bombs dropped on London during WWII. There must have been many things in his home, but this is what he loved most. This animal with the odd-looking head probably was the one thing the boy always slept with…and it could not be left. There seems to be an instinct to have something comforting during difficult or scary times. Parents need to be aware of this when a child faces the unknown.
A little girl sits on the edge of a fallen beam. She too is in London facing the fears of war. She holds close her doll. That doll had to be saved just as she did. Call it her female instinct to mother her baby…or just something of comfort and assurance. She may be whispering softly, “Everything will be okay, baby. Mother says the bombs have stopped! Mother always knows.”
Fast forward to our own generation of children. What would be the first thing they think to hold onto during a terrifying storm or when going to bed after seeing too much on TV about the brutality facing people in the world today. Would they hold close a cell phone, an electronic game…or their favorite stuffed animal or “Linus blanket”?
Speaking of Linus Van Pelt, Lucy and the others from Peanuts always gave him a hard time about the blanket he dragged around with him. Didn’t they all know…and don’t we, that “Happiness is a warm blanket”? What we hold closest to us often gives a feeling of security from the problems of life. We, as adults, think we have lost our need for the “blanket” and try to substitute other things in our lives. Somehow they are just not the same.
This leads us back to the holidays and our gifts that we give to our friends, neighbors, or family. Make it something comforting…a warm pie; a bowl of soup; cookies and milk ….or something warm and cuddly….especially for our children.
The commercialization of Christmas has reached around the world, especially to those who labor in the factories to make the hundreds…no, millions of pieces of plastic that are placed on Christmas trees and even manger scenes of the Baby Jesus.
How many Chinese hands have painted the figures and perhaps wondered who this person is and what Christmas is all about? Is there a meaning to Christmas other than a small paycheck? Stacks and stacks of ornaments…piles and piles of plastic…hours and hours of labor…boxing and labeling “made in China” to be moved thousands of miles away around the world. This is Christmas to so many.
Below are parts of an article that is worth sharing. After reading this, one may decide that Christmas next year may be celebrated in a different way. We will mention only briefly the economic issues as it relates to the U.S.A, but simply see how the Baby Jesus has been lost in the mountains of plastic.
Tim Maughan writes about his visit to Yiwu, a Chinese city that could almost be called “Christmas town” His trip was organized and funded by the Unknown Fields Division, a group of architects, academics and designers at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.
Most of these pictures were made by Tim Maughan as he toured the Christmas city of Yiwu. As we study these pictures, it is most revealing of commercialism on a mass scale.
“I’m a few hours away from Shanghai and I’ve not seen daylight for over three hours. I’m also hopelessly lost. I’ve been trying to get out of this place for the last 45 minutes, but the vast labyrinth of corridors and stores all look identical. I’m surrounded by artificial trees, baubles, fake snow, felt Santa hats, and animated LED reindeer. All I hear is festive music. I’m trapped in my worst Christmas nightmare, and it is only August. A hot, sticky day in August. For a moment, it feels like I may never escape, doomed to spend the rest of my life in a never-ending Santa’s Grotto.
I’m at the Christmas level of the International Trade Market in Yiwu, around 300 kilometres (187 miles) south of Shanghai. more than 60% of the world’s Christmas decorations are made in Yiwu, a significant proportion of which is sold at this enormous wholesale market. As I discovered, Christmas is made in Yiwu. That tree lighting up your lounge. Those decorations hanging from the ceiling. That novelty stocking filler you bought for your child. Chances are they came not far from where I am standing….
It’s hard to know how to describe Yiwu Market’s scale. I could start with the statistics; how it currently covers an area of four million sq m, with 62,000 booths inside. I could tell you how it is estimated to have an incredible 40,000 visitors every day, 5,000 of whom are said to be buyers from foreign countries. But these are just numbers.
Inside, it looks like a run-down large shopping mall, but you need to start walking to appreciate its size… (after going through many levels of artificial flowers/pencils etc)
It’s not just the size that separates Yiwu market from your local shopping mall. For a start you can’t really buy anything here, at least not in the conventional consumer sense. Yiwu market is, for the large part, strictly wholesale. Each of the 62,000 booths, all identically sized 2.5m by 2.5m cubes, is a showroom for an individual company or factory. The market is less a shopping mall than a vast, endless trade show, built for those most important of middlemen: retail buyers, who flock here from across China and the rest of the world to negotiate deals on shipping containers full of cheap products to fill the shelves of stores back home. The sheer scale of what’s in front of me belies the fact that Yiwu market’s heyday was in the past – much of this trade is now migrating online, to websites such as Alibaba and Made In China. But it remains the physical manifestation of a vast invisible network that supplies many of the inexpensive goods we all buy in the West and worldwide.
(Boyer Writes has to stop here and reflect on the fact that President Nixon appeared to be ahead of his time when he opened the way for trade with China. Even now, we are looking at what to do with Cuba and the opening of trade. Nevertheless, we know what has happened to jobs in the United States because of the China decision. The furniture companies of N.C. closed. Small businesses buckled across the United States because of the cheap labor of China. Thousands of American suffered because of this decision. This is probably true for other countries as well. )
Tim Maughan continues:
The first room we’re shown is the main factory floor, where a couple of dozen workers – of all ages and genders, but predominately women under 20 years old – are assembling and painting plastic mistletoe, wreathes, miniature trees and more.
One woman folds elaborate ribbons from plastic sheeting, whilst the woman next to her glues them on to “Merry Christmas” signs covered in red glitter paint. A young boy in a stained apron, who looks to be barely a teenager, is hand-painting holly berries red. And in a side room a man sits in front of a huge fan as he dips metal wires into a bucket of unidentified boiling liquid, bending them while they’re hot into curved headbands for novelty reindeer antlers.
Everywhere the fruits of their labor surround them; thousands of Christmas ornaments and novelties constantly being piled into cardboard boxes and plastic crates faster than they can be moved out, spilling on to the floor and towering above the workers.
In the next room the fabric products are made; again about two dozen women sit at rows of sewing machines. It’s hot and all you can hear is the constant hum of the machines as they stitch together hats, Christmas stockings, and festive bunting (see video, below). The red and white Santa hat – the kind you wear at office parties – that you buy for a few pounds and then throw away by New Year’s Eve. I see it being made here. I watch a girl sew white fur trim on to red felt at the rate of about two hats a minute, and as she finishes each one she simply pushes them off the front of her desk where they fall, silently, onto an ever-increasing pile on the floor.
It’s not just seeing Christmas being made in August that’s disorientating, but also the scale of the manual labor that’s involved that surprises me. Perhaps I was naive, but if you’d asked me before I visited Yiwu how Christmas decorations are made I’d have guessed they were mass-produced in largely automated factories. But the truth here is actually the real secret of China’s manufacturing success – keeping labour costs so low that making things by hand is cheaper than using machines…
As we leave, we get a glimpse of boxes of Christmas decorations being loaded into a shipping container heading to the mega-port of Ningbo. There it would be transported on a container ship to… who knows where. I’m told that most of the decorations are headed to the US and Europe, with Russia being a new, large, and very lucrative market. Watching Christmas being assembled by hand in front of us that day, I heard more than one person in our group remark that the holiday season will never be the same again. Perhaps they were right…”
If I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Maughan, I’d ask him if he saw the Baby Jesus, Wise Men, Joseph and Mary? Jesus, the Savior of the World, Who was born to bring the message of new life. Jesus who died for the sins of men and rose again to prepare a place for men and women… is under the stack somewhere….lost in the piles of plastic….and to the millions of people who pour His image into molds.
As we sing this Christmas, “Joy to the World” or walk the malls with the beautiful lights, we may want to say a prayer for those whose lives are caught up in the sweat shops of China for our Christmas pleasure. As the workers use their smartphones to release themselves from boredom, one of those workers may find a message of hope and understand that there is a true meaning to Christmas.
Most people have not heard of Howey in the Hills, Florida, USA, but they are quite familiar with Disney World or other theme parks around central Florida. Howey wishes you a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
What is this small town like? The deep, red sun rises each morning over the lake with no snow or ice. The cypress trees blow gently and the birds from Bird Island parade overhead. An occasional alligator can be seen and the cranes wade through the grasses. Yes, it is a special place. It is a wonderful, small town where neighbors know each other; dogs are welcome and people stop to chat as they walk them along Little Lake Harris. The police and fire departments are appreciated; the schools are honored, and the small businesses and residents are asked to take part in a great Christmas parade. Where else would one find llamas dressed to welcome such a great holiday? Take a look below.
Click for FICTION and Non-FICTION at BARNES & NOBLE
DEVOTIONAL BOOK for our times
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Children’s Book Explains Coronavirus with illustrations
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Boyer Writes Statistics for 11 Years of Writing
I started writing in 2009. Over the years, the “visitors” to my blog have been 287,834 and counting. This does not represent “views”, which are many more. I love looking at the maps and seeing that I have over 200 followers from 113 countries. Compared to many bloggers, this is a small number, but it is great news to me. Occasionally a follower will write a note of appreciation and encouragement to my writing. My thanks to all my readers.