Monday, November 30, 2009

December 1, 2009
Advent - Day 3

Day 3 – Silent Night
Scripture: Psalm 19:1-4

Silent Night, one of the most loved and well-known hymns of the season, brings a mental picture of a clear, crisp night when every star in the sky was visible. Such a night would quite naturally turn one’s thoughts to God’s creation. It was a wondrous night to be sure!
Such a night was described in the words of the psalmist in Psalm 19: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

All (was) calm, all (was) bright round yon virgin mother and child, while on a hillside outside of Bethlehem shepherds were startled by an angelic announcement. I wonder. Did Mary and Joseph hear the sound of the angels in the distance? Did the shepherds see the glory of God in the heavens? What did they think when their silent night was interrupted?

Words to ponder: Where is the glory of God most visible to you? Do you see it in the skies, the mountains or on the beach? Do you recognize God’s glory while reading His word? Take a moment and thank God for all the work of his hands.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Meditations - November 30
Day 2—Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus Scripture: Haggai 2:1-9

Come, Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and
consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.

Haggai prophesied about the rebuilding of the temple and in the Scripture for today he tells of the coming of the Messiah whose glory would fill the temple. He reaches all the way back to the time of the Exodus, referring to the time when the glory of Yahweh filled the tabernacle. God himself was present with them then; the prophecy tells of the coming presence of the Messiah. What good news! Jesus was the desire of every nation and would bring joy into the hearts who awaited His coming.

Words to ponder: The hymn says the long-expected Jesus would release the people from fears and sins. At times it is easier to accept being set free from our sins than it is to let go of the fears that trouble us. Is that true in your life? Why should we fear when we have the promise of the Triune God? God said that He would never leave us, nor forsake us; Jesus said that He would be with us until the end of the world; the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives brings peace.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Advent begins tomorrow and my topic is The Gift of Hope. Some designate the Sundays as Hope, Peace, Joy and Love; others go with Prophecy, Bethlehem, Shepherds, Angels and both culminate with The Birth of Christ. Either works. The Prophecy certainly is all about Hope. I am posting Day One--still haven't figured out how to give you the illustrated version and I believe I miscounted and have left off one meditation.

The season of Advent is upon us and it is time to turn our thoughts to the first coming of the Lord Jesus. I love the music of Christmas! There just aren’t enough Sundays to sing the wide range of hymns found in our hymbooks. Choirs don’t have enough time to prepare enough music for us to hear. There aren’t enough brass ensembles to accompany the festive music of Christmas Eve. This year I have chosen a few of the hymns of Advent and Christmas as the basis for our meditations. Some may be new to you; others may be old favorites. Some center on prophecy; others tell the story of Christ’s birth; a few give us a more complete picture of prophecy, birth, why Christ came and take us to his second coming. All have a message.

Meditations for each day suggest a Scripture reading, thoughts about the hymn of the day and “words to ponder.” The Scriptures are brief and are intended to give background for the meditations. Only words to hymns that may be unfamiliar are printed, as are some words or verses used for special emphasis so you may find it helpful to keep a hymnbook or other music source handy. “Words to ponder” are just that and are intended to help us think more about what we believe and the words we sing.

God bless you as you read and as you sing with the angels: Glory to God in the highest!

Day 1O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Scripture: Isaiah 7:14

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Song of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here:
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife, and discord cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel has always signaled the beginning of the Advent season for me. No words, no melody could focus my attention on the coming of Jesus more than these do.

The words are said to have been written in about the 12th century, but they could easily have been sung by the Israelites in exile upon hearing the message of Isaiah. Jesus is identified as Emmanuel, God with us, in verse one; as Dayspring in verse two and as the Desire of nations in verse three. The pleading of the Israelites is for the promised Messiah to come and rescue them from exile. Even the melody suggests despair in its minor loveliness. But, true to form, hope is expressed in the refrain as people are told to “Rejoice.”

Words to ponder: As we enter this Advent season, may the words of this hymn be our prayer. Only the coming of Emmanuel in the hearts of all people will cause peace to triumph over despair. Then, we can gladly sing, Rejoice!

Pastor Margaregt

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Just a quick update for those of you who keep up with my Corinth trips. Today was the day for a treatment and Tom had a bad night. It was obvious when we got up that he could not make the trip and even more obvious that he could not stay here by himself. We had seen one of his neurologists yesterday and a new pill was prescribed for headaches. After reading the printed information this morning, I recognized several of the symptoms he was having. Bottom line: I called our son's house a little after eight, asked if Jake could come stay with Tom while I was gone and then called the neurology clinic, talked with the nurse and she said to stop the new medication and she would call me back after she talked to the doctor. I went on to Corinth by myself, much to the frustration of Tom. He is better tonight--more like himself and ready to go to Tommy's to celebrate Liz's birthday.

My counts dropped some, especially the hematacrit (sp?) so I had a shot to stimulate red cell growth, got my treatment, came home and took a nap. Hurry up and work, shot! I have finished making fudge frosting for the cake I baked last night and I'm almost ready to celebrate too. It was a beautiful day to drive and I missed having Tom along to enjoy the changes in the scenery. The fields that still had cotton needing to be picked ten days ago, were picked and the stalks cut to the ground. The pear trees still have color. What a wonderful fall this has been!

We are almost ready for dinner tomorrow, though I have a casserole to make, pies to bake and the table isn't quite ready. I'll make rolls if it takes less energy to make them than it would to run to the store and buy some. On the way home today I talked with Marty and Christopher and was reminded of lots of family Thanksgivings we have spent together and how much I miss all of us around the same table. I hope that each of you have the joy of family and friends around you and that you'll make good memories.

If you're interested, look for the first Advent meditation post on Saturday. It will be for Sunday, November 29. Til then, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Pastor Margaret

Monday, November 23, 2009


Yesterday's sermon was good for at least one person in attendance--me! The text was Psalm 15o and the title was "Praise the Lord." I noted in some of my reading that one writer talked about attitude and how much an attitude could be improved by thinking and naming all the things for which we can proclaim: "Praise the Lord."

The day began with Tom getting back in bed after taking his 7 a.m. meds and telling me that he didn't think he could make it to church. That's always a bummer! Later, while we were eating breakfast, the phone rang and I got up to answer, thinking it would be one of the children. It wasn't. It was Ernesto, calling from some research place, wanting to engage me in conversation. I was so mad!! In a very agitated voice I told him that we were on a "do not call" list, what's more it was Sunday and such a call was inappropriate on the Sabbath. To top that off, I noticed when I backing out of the garage that one of the pansy plants I had potted was lying outside the pot like someone had dug it up in the perfect formation of the pot it was in when it came from the nursery. I was already running late so there was no time to do anything but fume. I did tell Tom when I got home that I was gunning for a squirrel--I had found a pecan in the pot last week when I got it ready for the pansies and knew the guilty party.

On the way to Humboldt, I was thinking of the worship service, the Scripture and the sermon and remembered what I'd read. Gratitude wins over complaints every time. My attitude would be improved if instead of thinking about Ernesto and the squirrel, I'd praise God from whom all my blessings flow. It worked almost immediately. That's good. Imagine what a hypocrite I would have been, preaching on praise while grumbling on the inside!

A different sort of thing happened today. I walked into the grocery store behind a lady who walked with a cane. Right inside the door is one of those floor mats designed to clean and dry your feet as you walk over it. The problem was the rubber border around the edge had worn off and the lady caught her cane on it. She could have had a serious fall. On the way out one of the managers spoke as she passed me and I asked if she had a minute. I told her about the mat and she didn't just say "thank you" and tell me she'd see about it. She followed me out of the store so I could show her and she moved the mat. That rarely happens--and I praised the Lord for people who care.

Around your Thanksgiving table this year, take time to let everyone, young and old alike, share at least one way God has blessed them in 2009. A good hearty "Praise the Lord" is a good addition to your holiday feast.

Pastor Margaret

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Coming Soon . . .

For the past two years I have had the privilege of writing Advent devotionals for the church where Tom is a member and where we attend when not at Humboldt. The church secretary does a most creative job of taking my material, finding appropriate artwork and formatting the booklet. In 2008 I posted a devotional every day of the Advent season and plan to do the same this year--only we're going to try to use the PDF I was sent and copy it on the blog site. I'll begin posting on November 28 so that those who are interested will have a devotional ready for the first day and will continue through Christmas Eve. At the end of this spot today I'll test and see if the file copies well. Today is only a test.

Yesterday was my birthday and never has so much attention been paid to one person on their birthday. There were many facebook messages, e-mails, phone calls, cards, presents, a special blog written by our daughter's best friend from junior high days. Then, of course, there were the beautiful red roses Tom had delivered and the gourmet meal Tommy & Liz prepared last night. In the afternoon Marty called, put Christopher on the phone and he said two really important words - "day" and "love." I knew he was saying "happy birthday" and "I love you." Meredith was so excited that we were going to be at their house to celebrate that she was beside herself. She gave me the special treat she was given at playschool yesterday and kept reminding me that it was my birthday and giving me hugs. Of course, I never doubt the love of my family and I know I have the most wonderful friends in the world, but yesterday they all outdid themselves! It was quite a day!!

Tom had a visit with his neurologist on Monday. Again he was cautioned about his weight and the dangers of his losing more muscle mass and getting too weak. There is also a matter of his lowered blood pressure. Too bad I can't transfer both weight and blood pressure to him! He is going to start another round of speech therapy and begin physical therapy next Monday. Hopefully, a little help with exercise will increase his energy level. He also has a follow up with the neurologist who administered the Botox injections. I think they have helped some; Tom isn't so sure.

In the midst of your Thanksgiving preparations, remember to thank God for every blessing--those that are obvious and those that are not. Most importantly, thank God for all things whether we consider them blessings or not. He can and does use the events in our lives for His glory and our good.

(The test to see whether or not I can copy from the PDF file is next. You should see the cover of the booklet. Everything else begins Saturday night, the 28th.)

Pastor Margaret

The test didn't work. I'll have to do some more research to see what I'm missing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Praise the Lord!

After getting off to a bumpy start with a new chemo regimen last month, we seem to be back on track. I was more than a little concerned when the chemo drug sent my white count too low for treatment after only two doses and much more than a little concerned when my body reacted adversely to the shots to stimulate white blood cell growth. I wondered if we were reaching the point when I would have to choose whether to keep trying or discontinue treatment entirely. The doctor reassured us two weeks ago, adjusted the schedule ,laid out a new plan and we started again. Today was treatment two of the second set.

People have asked how they could pray specifically and my response has been: pray that the tumor marker goes down and the white and red blood cell counts go up. Today we learned that both white and red counts are a bit up from two weeks ago and that the tumor marker is down a little more than fourteen points since the end of September. When the nurse handed me the report I could not stop the smile that was coming from my toes to my face, nor the tears of joy and gratitude. I immediately called both of our children, then asked Tom, why me?

I have never questioned or blamed God for this cancer. My why me question is wonder at the amazing way God continues to answer prayers and keep me alive and mostly well! Cancer kills. It shows no respecter of persons; we cannot understand why some are healed, some go into remission, some live and continue to fight and others die. I may question the disease or different people's responses to treatment, and at times I get discouraged and really mad at the disease, but there is one constant in my life that I will never question: God is faithful and I am kept by His care. I sort of settle down into the comfort of that knowledge, then a little excitement rouses me and I remember the old saying: Please be patient. God isn't finished with me yet! Look out world.

Join us as we praise God for answered prayers!

Pastor Margaregt

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans--and others--I Remember Today

We hung our flag yesterday afternoon in honor of all the veterans who have served our country. Have you remembered to say "thank you" to the veterans you know? Depending on your age, it's possible you don't know any or aren't sure who has served and who hasn't. The first Sunday closest to Veterans Day that we spent in California is one I will never forget. There was a time in the service when veterans were recognized and honored for their commitment and they were asked to come forward and stand across the front. It is a large santuary, seating around 1400 people and that day it was pretty full. I remember sitting in wonder as hundreds of people stood and came forward. Some walked briskly, some came more slowly; there were both men and women; all walked proudly and held their heads high. It seemed as if more stood in the front than were left seated in the pews. A chill ran up and down my spine and tears filled my eyes.

My mother's only brother was career Army and twenty five years after he retired, he still answered the phone , "Colonel Carter." He was military to the core, the family hero and we never tired of his stories of places he served and lived in his thiry three years on active duty. His retirement came as the Vietnam conflict was gathering steam, but he was ready to go if sent. I remember him today.

Tom's brother, David, was an Army doctor for twenty plus years. Though he never saw combat, he touched the lives of many young men preparing to serve in his years at West Point Military Academy and others in his service at Walter Reed Hospital, in Korea to the troops still on duty there and later at the Pentagon. David trained as a pediatrician, with a specialty in adolescent medicine. Who could have known such training would prepare him to care for our soldiers? I remember him today.

Then there is the special veteran with whom I share my life--Tom. The Army was a big part of our life when we married. Knowing that he would soon be sent to Vietnam, we planned a really quick wedding and took off for Ft. Sill, OK. Five months later he has on his way. Tom was an artillery officer, serving as a liasion with the 1st Infantry Division. He saw plenty of combat and although he has shared some stories, there are many more things that he never talks about. Sometimes when the effects of Tom's illness get to me, I picture him in his most military posture or in his dress blues and I know that on his inside he retains that posture. I remember him today and have already said "thank you" once. Before the day is over I'll tell him again.

Today I also remember those who are on active duty, both in battle and those out of harm's way. I think of those whose names I will never know and I think especially of Jeri and Martin's son on a second tour of duty and Kathy's husband recently deployed. I think of spouses and children waiting for a word; I think of spouses and children whose loved ones will never come home. I think of those veterans who have come home bearing scars either physical or emotional. All have paid or are paying a price so that you and I might enjoy freedom.

Along with expressing thanks to our veterans today, pray for peace--not just the absence of conflict, but for the presence of the one whose name is Peace. Pray that the Prince of Peace would be triumphant in the world.

Pastor Margaret

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Not Much--I Thought

There isn't much to report on our end--no major changes, no crisis for either of us, not much really. But then that makes me wonder if God ever tires of hearing our praises or utterances of thanks for the ordinary things. We don't seem to tire of presenting God with our requests. This has been a wonderful week in every way!

Worship on Sunday was special with people of all ages participating. The sun was shining outside and the warmth of God's Spirit filled the sanctuary. God's people came to worship and to reaffirm their commitment to Him and to His ministry.

On Monday we celebrated Elisa's second birthday. It seems like just yesterday that we welcomed her into the world and I could honestly say that about each of the grandchildren. When I look at them I remember "Red Sails in the Sunset" from "Fiddler on the Roof." I attended a luncheon where that was sung shortly after Marty's birth and I cried openly when the song asked, "Where has my little girl gone?" I wanted to hold her forever and I have in my heart. The years pass so quickly and I continue to ask that question. Elisa loved her birthday and we all laughed a lot watching her opening presents, expressing innocent wonder with the contents of each one.

We have been able to get necessary chores done this week, both at home and otherwise. This has been the most beautiful of all falls spent in this part of the country! Every tree we see is more beautiful than the one we have just seen. The ghinkos and the maples are especially nice. Of course, the ghinkos remind me of our Mississippi home and those thoughts ignite lots of memories. The best part of all is having Tom beside me to share both the present and the memories.

Throughout the week I have said many "thank yous" and offered silent praise for the opportunity to continue in ministry; for the people who have adopted us in our temporary church; for healthy, delightful grandchildren--and the eighth one on the way; for their parents, our children who are more special than they realize; for the beauty of the earth; for Tom who can end my sentences and shares everything with me; for cards and letters, phone calls and e-mails; unexpected flowers delivered this afternoon.

No, I don't think God ever tires of our words of thanks and praise. He is an amazing God, the author of every good and perfect gift.

Pastor Margaret