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Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

A Holiday Wish for You


May the birth of Jesus fill your soul with Hope, Peace and Joy.

May the Beauty of this world surround you.

And may Love fill your heart this Holiday Season.

From me to you,

from my family to yours.

Merry Christmas!

And for those of other faiths…

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Kwanzaa!

And for those who don’t celebrate this Season…

Have a great day!

Patty O

And Now, the Pièce de Résistance…My Dining Room


By now, you’ve seen most of my house, all decorated for Christmas…

The bedrooms, dressing room, and bathrooms only get a few touches of Christmas, so they really don’t need their own post.

But the dining room…now the dining room is another story.

For a couple of years now, I’ve wanted to put a (faux) Christmas tree in there.

I’ve had the perfect plan.

I’d collected ornaments from Goodwill and garage sales.

I’d picked up a Christmas tree from a friend who had decided to give it away.

But last year, sadly, I was just too sick to get all my decorations up, and that tree stayed in the basement.

But this year…

This year is different.

Without further ado, take a look at my dining room Christmas.  A moment of silence to appreciate the beauty…

I could stand here and look at it all day.  Especially from this view…

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An ‘Ode to Mom & Dad’


My parents were known for their outside Christmas decorations.  They’d have people come from all over and stop on the highway to take pictures.  We used to laugh because they kept expanding them…I remember telling them ‘you can’t decorate their whole 40 acres!’.  They’d light up every tree and they lit up the entire house. Then they started adding the big plastic Christmas decorations outside.  And adding…and adding…and adding.

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Pumpkin Carving: You Are a Work in Progress


Last week, Tim and I were in charge of Gabi’s Confirmation Class Pumpkin Carving and Potluck party.  It was a great time with not only the confirmands but also their parents.

Many of you know me and know that we couldn’t just do a potluck dinner and pumpkin carving…nooooooo.  We had to have more fun than that!

I gathered up a bunch of my Fall and Halloween decorations to add some ambiance to the Fellowship Hall and Library (where we ate).  Our local grocer gave me some dry ice which I put in a bucket with some bottled waters (which I put by a tall witch), and I put some dry ice in buckets by the doors of the church too.

We enjoyed a nice potluck dinner (even though my sloppy joe meat didn’t heat up enough…I’d made it the day before and had hoped to just heat it in a crock pot.  Yeah…note to self…you need more than an hour on high to do that.  Sigh.)

After dinner we went down to the Fellowship Hall to get started on the pumpkins.  The kids also had a choice of a ‘Make Your Own Caramel Apple Bar’ or Bobbing for Apples.  Needless to say, there were some very wet heads and filled tummies.  I’m sure the dentist loves us too. 🙂

Before we started all those festivities though, I did give a little talk, of sorts.  I didn’t want the evening to go by without acknowledging the reason we gather at the church.

I hesitated until now to share it with you.  But something kept after me to share it…call it my ‘inner voice’ or my ‘Jiminy Cricket’. 🙂 (You’ll see the tongue-in-cheek reference below.)

Here’s the talk I had with the kids and their parents:

Let’s talk about these pumpkins for a minute.

Your pumpkin started out as a seed.

Someone, maybe you, nurtured it until the plant grew into beautiful flowers…then those flowers became a pumpkin that grew larger and larger until it was harvest time.  It was taken off the vine, brought to the store where you purchased it.  Then you brought it here tonight, where it will go through its final transformation into a fantastic jack-o-lantern.

Now your once seed, then flower, then pumpkin, now jack-o-lantern will bring joy to not only you, but your neighbors and the trick-or-treaters that will come to visit your house on Halloween.

That was God’s plan for that very pumpkin.

Now relate that story to yourself.

Even before you were born, God had a plan for you.

You were a beautiful baby – a miracle of God.  Then you became a toddler and when you fell, you were picked up.  Then you grew into a teenager…and now when you fall you pick yourself back up.  Your parents, grandparents, and others like Pastor Katie have nurtured you into the person you are today.  They all still guide you, but as you grow older you start to make your own choices.  Now we, as parents, encourage you to make good choices, but we’re not always with you.  So what happens when you’re not sure what to do?

How about listening to your inner voice.  That little voice that tells you what’s right and what’s wrong.

We call it many things…”your conscience, your parents’ voices, your Jiminy Cricket, or Jesus guiding you”.  I believe it’s the last one.

That inner voice will wiggle its way into your conscience and say ‘don’t do it – it’s wrong!’ Or ‘Go for it – talk to that person who’s all alone – they look like they need a friend!’

It will lead you to making good decisions.  If your peers are going to do something you’re not sure you should do, your inner voice might say ‘not a very good idea’…then stand strong and don’t join in!  Or…step outside the circle of friends and be a friend to someone who needs one.

You see, this is where you are different from the pumpkin.

God gave you free will.

You get to make choices.

And, as the pumpkin will become a fantastic jack-o-lantern, you are becoming a wonderful adult through your choices and with Jesus walking beside you along your path.

And He will continue to throughout the rest of your…our (motioning to the parents and myself) lives.

As the Pumpkin fulfilled it’s purpose…we will continue to grow and fulfill ours.

You…we …are a work in progress.

Each confirmand left with a small glass jar which held candy corn, candy pumpkins and a tag that said “You are a work in progress”.

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I hope the message helps you realize that you, too, are a work in progress.

If we make mistakes…

or if we conquer the world…

we’re still a work in progress.

Some days bring challenges.

Some days bring joys.

Some days bring sorrow.

Each night, remember that God isn’t finished with you yet…

We can start anew each day.

We…

are…

a work in progress.

Patty O

Through the Cold and the Fire…Look Up


Challenges take place in everyone’s lives.  Some take the form of small events, while others wreak havoc leaving ashes and sorrow in their wake.

Here is the story of what happened to my friends Al and Margo this week.

There was a birthday celebration for Margo last Sunday night with family gathered in Al and Margo’s living room…there was love, laughter and fun shared by everyone.  One of their sons and his family were there, along with their daughter and her family.  Six adults and 6 little girls all celebrating Grandma’s big day.

Little did they know there was a chimney/attic fire starting above their heads.

The fire wasn’t discovered until the party broke up and the families were headed home.  A telltale light in the attic alerted them to the fire…you see, there is no electricity in the attic.  911 was called, and thankfully, the family was able to get some of their photos and valuables out.

It became more tumultuous from there.

It took 40,000 gallons of water from local fire departments to finally put the fire out.  The main floor was still in place, with what was left of the ceiling edges sagging down.  The structure and it’s contents were waterlogged and frozen.  You see, here in Ely, Minnesota, the daytime temps were below zero with a windchill sometimes hitting -26.

On Monday, family and friends salvaged Al and Margo’s washer and dryer, bed frames, some clothing from the front closet (that the fire hadn’t touched), and some more family photos.

On Monday night, the fire roared again…leaving just a pile of ashes in it’s wake.

On Tuesday, their daughter Mistaya commented “God gave us a window of time so we could salvage more items.”

On the night of the fire, the shock and stress brought on a health crisis for Margo.  After many tests and 2 days in the hospital, the doctor told her she could go ‘home’.  On her Facebook page, she wrote:

“Fire has taken my (our) house, we lost so much but some treasures were rescued by an army who came alongside my children, as I experienced broken heart syndrome and was admitted to the ICU in St. Marys while the fire burned down my (our) home. A couple days later, it gave a new meaning to “You can go home today, Margo.” Upon being discharged from the hospital it became the ultimate test of the truth that I know ~ my true home, my forever home is my Fortress & my Habitation: my God.”

As you can see by the testimony Margo gave and by the words of their daughter, this couple’s (and all of their children’s) faith shines brightly.  Al and Margo are the very meaning of the words: loving, faith-filled, humble.  This is not a couple that believes in excess…they’re priority is not in earthly goods.  They also don’t want to ask for more than they need as witnessed by the low amount of money the family is asking for on the ‘Youcare’ site (shown below).  This will not build a new house, this will not even cover their second mortgage, nor will it replace their household goods, but they didn’t want to ask for too much.  Many locals have offered goods and services, but Al and Margo want to wait to see what they really need.  (Building cannot begin until Spring because of our frozen winter.)  Local businesses have been very gracious, thoughtful and generous by giving gift cards to help.

More in Margo’s words:

“I (we) do need help…especially if we are to rebuild and continue our hobby or if I may, our ministry, with Boundary Waters Labradors (AKC certified) as our insurance was extremely minimal, covering one mortgage loan only…and this is why I have turned it over. I have to Let Go and Let God. Romans 8: 28 is what I am holding onto. He will meet that need, as He sees fit. It’s time for new beginnings, even though; my husband and I are 40 years strong, plus I am in the 60 and over club now, both by His grace.

I am (we are) grateful and amazed at how much God loves me (us) and manifests His love for me (us) through his creations – you.   What an awesome feeling to be shown so much care and kindness by so many people! May He bless each and every one of you three hundred fold for your prayers, and gifts. I am (we are) humbled beyond expression.”

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And here is where I ask for your help…

Click on the link below and feel the blessing of helping others.  Give if you can.  Any amount helps…$5, $50, $500.  Even if you can’t donate money, I ask that you keep them in your prayers this holiday season.

Fundraiser for Al and Margo Penke

Thank you for your help…and as you walk through the cold and the fire…look up.  It is by His grace and presence that we move beyond them.

Patty O

Photo Credit:  Cheri Debeltz

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