Book Corner

Pick a Book, Any Book

Guess what time it is?

It’s time for another Buy A Friend a Book week!

Yep, I’m going to randomly pick a reader out of a hat and send him/her a book of his/her choice from Amazon. No, no, not right now. January 8th.

Okay wait, instead of explaining it all over again, just click over here and read more about it.

In the meantime, mark your calendars and be sure to come back January 1st and put your name in the comment “pot”. It’s not everyday someone offers to buy you a book for no good reason!

(I’m sorry, this is only open to U.S. addresses only).

Please help spread the word! Copy the code below and paste it into your blog today!

Banner Code:

Win a FREE book at writefromkaren.com

To include this button (130 pixels wide) in your post or sidebar, copy and paste this code:

<a href="https://writefromkaren.wordpress.com/free-book/"><img
src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3084/2338927374_6bcac880da_o.jpg&quot; alt="Win a FREE book at writefromkaren.com" /></a>
Monday Morning Meme

Monday Morning Meme – December 29th

All you have to do is answer the questions below either in the comment section, or on your blog. And elaborate! Make these questions show your unique and special personalities. This meme entry will post at 12:01 every Monday morning and will be the first postentry listed on WFK all day Monday. (This is an all-day Monday meme, so please, play all day!)

Monday Morning Meme at writefromkaren.com

December 29th Questions:

1. When you are having a bad day, what do you do as a little ‘pick me up’?

2. How long have you been blogging? Who is your target audience? How often, if at all, do you think about quitting or taking an extended break?

3. Think back over the past year. Tell us: five good things that happened in your life, three bad things that happened in your life. Now go through your blog archives and pick five posts that you personally liked/resonated with you, or, you would like to share with your new readers. Link to them, please.

4. It’s a new year – a new beginning. Please finish this sentence: I will work very hard to make the following three things happen in 2009:

Monday Morning Meme Participants

1. Shannon H.
2. Marianne
3. Sue
4. Jodi
5. Rachel
6. Oregonsunshine
7. GiGi – Incrementum
8. PhoenixTheBloggingMama

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

________________________

bloggersbest2 Okay, picture this – you’re trying to entice new readers to your blog. But they only have time to read one of your blog posts. Which blog post would you direct them to? Which of your blog posts really shines and says something about your life? Which blog post are you most proud of? Now take that blog post and submit it to the Blogger’s Best Carnival so everyone else can appreciate your greatness. 🙂

To learn more about the carnival, read this page.

Prize: The satisfaction of reading quality blog posts. 🙂

Abundant Life

Teaching: The REAL Christmas Story – Part Two

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.

Let’s get started:

Common Features of an Eastern Life

There are a few things about ordinary houses and ordinary life in first century Palestine that we must know in order to understand the birth of Jesus. One is that it was quite common for houses in the Middle East to have a guest room where guests, and even strangers, could stay. Showing hospitality to strangers has always been a huge part of Eastern life, and is written about in the Bible and in many books on the customs of the Bible. Several biblical records show strangers being given hospitality, including the record of Lot (Gen. 19:1-4), the man in Gibeah (Judg. 19:19-21), and the Shunamite woman, who showed hospitality to Elisha by building a guest room just for him (2 Kings 4:10). Giving hospitality is a command for Christian leaders as well (1 Tim. 3:2).

Even poor people could have a guest room because it did not have to be furnished or have an adjoining bathroom and shower. People did not generally sleep on beds, but traveled with their own blankets that they slept on at night, so sleeping arrangements were no problem. Tables and chairs were not used in the common homes of first century Palestinians, and the bathroom was a pot, or a place outside. So the average guest room was simply a small, empty room, offering shelter and a place of safety. The guest room provided privacy for the guests as well as the family, because one-room homes were common. Our modern houses with many rooms were simply not the norm in a village of the first century. Quite often a family lived in a one-room house, in which all family activities occurred. They pulled their bedrolls out at night and slept on the floor, and simply rolled them up again in the morning.

Another thing we must understand about houses in the East is that it was common for people to bring their animals (the family donkey or a couple of milk goats, for example) into them at night. Such animals were very valuable, and the people brought them into the home at night to keep them from being stolen and to protect them from harm. Of course, if the family were shepherds or herdsmen, they would not bring the whole flock or herd into the house, but would have a family member or hired guard watch them in the field.

It was a common practice to raise the floor of the part of the house where the family lived, and keep the animals in an area that was a little lower. [10] Knowing this helps us understand Luke 2:6 and also where that idea that Jesus was born in a stable came from. Jesus was laid in a manger, which is an open trough, box, or bin, where the animal food was placed so the animals could feed easily. In Western society, mangers are in barns or stables, so if Jesus was laid in a manger it made sense he was born in a stable. However, in Eastern society, where the animals grazed outside during the day and were brought into the house at night, the manger was in the house. Thus when the Bible says that Jesus was laid in a manger “because” there was no space in the guest room, any Easterner would understand perfectly that the guest room was full so Jesus was born in the main part of the house where the family and animals were, and then safely placed in the manger, which would have been filled with clean hay or straw and would have been the perfect size for him. This was not to demean him in any way, but to care for him. The protective walls of the manger kept him safely guarded and away from busy feet and a bustling household, as well as warm and protected from any drafts or cold air in the home.

Another thing that helps us understand the Christmas story is understanding Eastern hospitality. In the East, guests were given special treatment of all kinds, including behavior that seems very extreme to us. For example, in the record of Lot and the two strangers, Lot would have handed over his own daughters to the mob before surrendering his guests (Gen. 19:8). Similarly, the people with whom Joseph and Mary stayed would never displace their guests from the guest room, but instead would inconvenience themselves, graciously bringing the couple into their living space.

Another thing we need to know is that Mary and Joseph would not have been alone when Jesus was born. The women of the household, along with the women of the family staying in the guestroom, most likely the village midwife, and perhaps even wise and experienced women from the neighborhood, would have been present, and would have shooed Joseph and the rest of the men out of the house some time during Mary’s labor (actually, the men would have graciously left on their own, which was also standard procedure in that culture). The husband and any sons (along with Joseph), would have left their own house, spending their late evening and night hours with other families or just resting out under the stars, so that Mary would have the privacy she needed during the birth of Jesus. [11] Of course they would be allowed back in the house after the baby was born and there had been adequate time to get things in the house back in proper order and make sure Jesus and Mary were comfortable.

Baby Jesus would have been born in normal circumstances, with Mary being helped and cared for by the women around her. Although the Bible does not mention that there was a midwife and other women present with Mary, it would be quite unthinkable that they would not be there to help. No details of the birth would be given in the Bible because births were a “normal” part of life, and no first-century reader in Palestine would expect anything different than what usually happens with a village birth. In fact, if the women of the household had not been there to help, that would have been so unusual (and seemingly coldhearted) that it would probably be written about in the Bible. Also, the shepherds who came to see Jesus knew that he was the promised Messiah. When they found Joseph, Mary, and their Savior, if they in any way felt that he was not being treated well, they would have been scandalized and outraged, and immediately taken them home to their own houses. The fact that they did no such thing, but rather left the new family where they were and went to tell the good news to the whole area, indicates they felt Joseph, Mary, and the baby were being well cared for. [For further study read Family Life in the Bible.]

The Christmas Story

So we see that the way the birth of Jesus actually happened is considerably different than what is commonly taught. It is not that Bethlehem was full of cold-hearted townspeople who would not take special care of a young woman about to have her first child.

Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem at least a few days before Mary gave birth, and were taken in by one of the local homes, most likely that of a relative. The host family already had guests in the kataluma, the guest room, so there was no space (topos) for them there. Therefore, the homeowners graciously made room for Joseph and Mary in their own living quarters, treating them like family. When Mary went into labor, the men left their own home to give her privacy, and the women of the household, likely along with the village midwife, came to Mary’s side for help and support. Shortly after Mary gave birth to our Lord and Savior late in the evening (after sunset) or at night, Joseph and the men would have been called back into the house to see the new baby boy, and there would have been much jubilation and revelry, which was always a traditional part of the birth of a baby boy, particularly if it was a first child. [12]

Not too long after Jesus was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes, dedicated to God, and placed in a perfect spot, the manger in the family home, which would have been cleaned and made up with fresh straw. No doubt the news soon spread around the village that a baby boy had been born (the music and shouting would have helped that happen), and that both the mother and baby were doing well, but soon there was to be news of a different kind. Shepherds showed up from a nearby field and told the village that a great light had shined around them, that they had seen an army of angels on the hillsides, and that an angel had told them that this baby was no ordinary baby, but the Messiah, the Savior. Their report caused great wonder all over the region, and resulted in glory and praise to God.

Thus the story of the birth of Christ reveals something that demonstrates the true spirit of Christmas: people opening their homes and their hearts, joyfully giving to others in need, and helping where they can.

Read the full article here. (And it’s worth the read!!)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about God’s wonderful message, please visit the Truth or Tradition website. You can also keep track of the ministry through their Facebook page.

Thank you for visiting and God bless.

Life

Clean Up on Aisle Three

I am not a clean freak, but I have a limit to how much clutter and crap I’ll accept lying around before I’ve had enough.

I’ve had enough.

I’m cranky. I’m on edge. And I’m feeling very impatient largely due to my chaotic surroundings. I have stuff jammed into each corner of my house. Our Christmas decorations are still up. There are clothes and pillows and shoes all over the place. There are bags of used, crumpled gift wrapping I need to throw away. Actually, there are bags of trash I need to throw away along with boxes to tear down and throw away. Our refrigerator is overflowing with food, I have a tin (half) full of fudge that I MUST finish off today so I can stop thinking about eating it and then feeling guilty about eating it.

In short? My house is in need of some TLC but I can’t really get to it right now because my nephews are still here and cleaning up now would mean I would have to clean up again after they left and it makes me REALLY cranky when I have to do something twice.

So, I’ll grit my teeth and take it on the chin until I have a chance to clean up.

It’s no one’s fault my house looks like this – it always looks like this after the holidays. And I guess I’m just not used to it being so … well, cluttered for lack of a better term.

I feel disoriented when my house is out of control like this. Which is really confusing to admit because trust me when I say, I am not a clean freak. I leave that title to my husband.

But this time of year? I get a bit crazy about the cleaning and making sure everything is put back into place, which is hard because now we have new stuff – stuff that I’m not SURE where to put. So, it sits there until I can’t take it anymore and then I stuff it into a corner and forget about it until summer time when my husband is sick of looking at it and forces me to FIND places for the new stuff.

It’s not that we have too much stuff, it’s that I don’t know where to put the new stuff that we have. It’s like I have a brain fart or something when it comes to organization – I just sort of freeze and stare at it like it’s an alien being or something – thank God my husband does the organizing around here or I’d be one of those odd people you hear about on the news who has all sorts of crap piled up to their ceiling but their closets are empty.

And I’ve been a workout fiend since Christmas. I can’t stop moving because if I stop moving, then all the gooey, delicious sweets I’ve been shoving into my mouth will catch up to me and it’ll be that much harder to work off when I get serious about doing so.

So I eat fudge, cookies and candy and then promptly get on the treadmill and walk for 90 minutes. Perhaps I should just kill two birds with one stone and eat WHILE I’m walking on the treadmill.

I’m usually so careful about what sorts of junk food I eat, how much I eat and WHEN I eat it. For example, if I had some junk food one day, then I’ll take a break from junk food and not eat any of it for a few days before the next binge. And in that time period, I’ll work out combining Turbo Jam with the treadmill.

This sounds neurotic, I realize, but it works for me.

But then the holidays come around and all of the delicious gooey junk food stares me in the face and overpowers my senses so rapidly that before I know it, I’ve left tread marks on the backs of small children just so I can get to the crap that much faster.

The fantastic, melt-in-your-mouth, delicious, fattening, I’ve died and gone to heaven crap.

You never knew the holidays messed me up so badly, did you. 😀

So *taking a deep breath* I’m feeling a bit calmer now and forcing myself to relax and shrug this impatience off. We have already made plans to take decorations down and put the house back into order tomorrow after Bible study (well, the guys don’t know we’re doing that yet, but suffice it to say, it WILL happen), so I just need to chill out and enjoy the chaos for a few more hours because in the grand scheme of things?

Holidays are messy, no matter how you look at them. *smile*

And …

And …

And I CAN NOT write any more until I eat more fudge.

Must. Stop. Eating. Fudge.

I need help!

And a napkin.

Make that two napkins. *blush*

General

Tornado Watch

Yes, you read that correctly, we are currently under a tornado watch. In fact, we are about to be pummeled by an impending storm:

Weather 12-27

Our temperature is currently 65 degrees.

In December.

Crazy, right?

Not if you live in Missouri.

The storm is moving pretty fast, heading northeast and should be here in about an hour – it’s also growing. Swell.

The temperatures are expected to drop to the mid-20’s tonight and then back up to 50 degrees and sunny tomorrow. Missouri weather is on a constant yo-yo ride.

However, before you can blame Global Warming consider this: Missouri has had tornado outbreaks in December in 1957, ’66, and ’82.

Weather is cyclical. Why do I bring this up? Because I get so tired of people freaking out thinking the current weather patterns are a sign the Earth is dying. Humans are such peons in the overall scheme of things. How arrogant of us to think otherwise.

Life

Artsy-Fartsy

I’m trying to systematically move all of the posts worth saving from my old blogs to this blog – this could take a while, then again, maybe not. *grin* So please, bear with me as I post some old stuff.

Originally published January 25, 2006.

I randomly ran across the photo on the left (sorry, I didn’t keep the link) and it reminded me of a piece Mushroom King brought home from art class. They look similar, don’t you think? I thought MK did a pretty good job capturing the 3D look. I could never do this as a child (heck I still can’t do it) so I was dutifully impressed. (If you look at MK’s drawing long enough, your eyes cross. Cooool 🙂 )

Young Art

And speaking of art; for those Oprah fans out there this is probably old news, but I stumbled onto child prodigy Akaine Kramarik’s website and was awe-struck at this 11/12 year old girl’s talent. Below is a drawing she did AT THE AGE OF 4.

Young Art

Did you read that? Four people. I almost don’t believe it. It doesn’t seem like a four-year-old would have the motor skills necessary to draw something like this. But this is nothing, if you want to see some truly amazing work, visit her site and take a gander.

Life

Christmas 2008

Before we get started, please run your mouse over the below video and hit the pause button. I’ve embedded this from Flickr and though I love Flickr, their slideshows are formatted to automatically play and I don’t know about you, but that personally drives me crazy. 🙂

Link to Flickr slideshow. (The embed code is acting squirrelly, so I’ll just link to it – problem solved).

Sorry about that.

So, here we are, the day after Christmas and all through my house, I have four teenage boys and one missing husband. My sister’s boys are spending a few days with us before they go over to their dad’s house and the husband had to work.

*sad face*

The day has been pretty quiet. The boys are busy playing with new games, I’m busy cleaning off camera cards and straightening up the house.

We had a really relaxing Christmas. I was the first one up though I suspect MK was up but just hadn’t come out of his room. GD actually crawled out of bed at 7:00 a.m., voluntarily, which is a miracle in itself. *grin*

We dived into presents about 7:30. The boys started, as you can see in the slideshow. They didn’t get as many presents this year as in year’s past, but I don’t think they cared overly much because what they received is what they wanted.

The pictures where they are peering into a box and pulling stuff out of the box is their Dreamcast system. The husband thought it would be fun for them to play around with a different system and found a used one on EBay, along with a ton of games for it. They haven’t hooked it up yet, but when the newness wears off their other toys, I’m confident they will have fun experimenting with it.

After the boys finished their Christmas, the husband and I got started on ours. We bought each other three gifts this year. And though we had given each other a wish list and we’re pretty good at sticking to our wish lists (thereby never really being surprised, which is sort of boring), we did manage to throw in a present that we weren’t expecting.

We number our gifts. We have to. Because by the time Christmas rolls around we have forgotten what we bought each other and we spend precious time Christmas morning trying to figure out which one we want the other one to open first.

So, the husband’s number one gift? Was the one he wasn’t expecting. I bought him Ace Combat (for the XBox) and Brain Age 2. The husband really enjoys flight games and he’s a puzzle guy so I thought that would be something fun for him to occupy his “down” time. (He always has to be busy doing something).

Gift #2 are the speakers. He enjoys creating, and playing, music. And these speakers are apparently specially made for this sort of thing. When he first found the speakers on Musician’s Friend, he actually salivated, he was so excited to buy them. I talked him into allowing Santa to bring him the speakers. So even though I didn’t come right out and say, “Honey, I bought those speakers for you”, he knew he would get them at some point.

Gift #3 was something on his wish list but not something he really expected to receive. My husband has always had a thing for photography. In fact, that was one of the main things we had in common when we first started dating. We would take off on the weekends and experiment taking photos of nature and each other.

And we’ve always had an interest in taking portraits. Last year, my husband went over to play photographer for his sister’s family and when he came home, he told me about their professional light set up. Ever since then, we’ve wanted photography lights. So, that’s what he got for Christmas – a set of professional photography lights complete with shades and umbrellas. I’m looking forward to playing around with that.

The three gifts the husband gave me were:

Gift #1: A jacket vest and pretty pink slippers from Land’s End. I sort of have a slipper fetish and it’s becoming a tradition that I receive one new pair of slippers each Christmas. (Since I work from home and am always home, I go through slippers pretty fast). I can’t wait to break them in.

Gift #2: A Canon A590 PowerShot camera. Again, we’re back to the photography interest. I have used a PowerShot A40 for a number of years. And it’s a great camera. But I wanted a camera that had a video function – something that I could record videos on and then easily transfer to my computer and upload. This Canon A590 has that function. I haven’t had a chance to play around with the video yet, but brace yourself – it’s only a matter of time. 😀 The camera is also small enough that I will be able to easily carry it in my purse. Of course, this means I’ll have to buy a snazzy case to go with it.

Darn. 😉

Gift #3: Was a “I can’t believe he carried it off” surprise.

It was a Kindle e-reader.

Though I had put a Kindle on my wish list, come on, there was no way that was going to happen. One, the price. Two, they’re out of stock right now.

So, when I opened my last gift and saw the Kindle, I was speechless.

Which is really saying something, let me assure you. *grin*

Actually, it’s a refurbished Kindle. Someone had returned it; the Kindle people had fixed it up and then offered it for sale at a reduced cost.

The husband snatched it up. I love refurbished stuff! And I’m LOVING my Kindle! I can’t wait to fill this baby up.

After we finished with our gifts, we cleaned up and my folks and nephews came over. We ate turkey/ham sandwiches, potato salad and chips and dip for lunch (no one wanted to cook and honestly, I’d RATHER have sandwiches) and then we watched the boys open their gifts from grandma and grandpa.

We then exchanged our gag gifts. There are different ways to play the gag gift exchange, but we followed my nephew A’s rules. His version went something like this:

The person who drew the number 1 got to go first. (that was me)

I picked a package from the pile in the middle and kept it, without unwrapping it.

The person who had number 2, could either pick a gift from the stack or take my gift. If he/she took my gift, then I would pick another gift.

And so on, so on. Then, when we were done exchanging (i.e. stealing each other’s gifts), we opened them.

There was one package that was quite obviously a calendar. No one really wanted the calendar, but my mother kept telling MK, he REALLY needed that calendar. He would begin to exchange it but grandma would say, “No MK, trust me. You REALLY want to hang on to that gift.”

Finally, he decided to keep it. And when we opened them up? It was a girly calendar!! HAHAHA!! He’ll never trust grandma again!

MK tore one corner of the gift, saw what it was and threw it down like it had suddenly grown fangs and was about to bite him. His face turned beet red and he shook his head. “Nuh uh, I don’t want that!”

We had quite a laugh at poor MK’s expense, but he was a good sport about it. It’s not that MK doesn’t like girls, he does, girls his age. But half-dressed women? He wasn’t sure what to do with that staring at him in the face.

We all burst out laughing again when GD (to my UTTER ASTONISHMENT) picked it up and said, “Then I’ll take it!” HAHAHAHA!

It was all in good fun and MK actually walked away with a fun gag gift (GD and MK swapped gifts). The other really funny moment was when my husband opened up the gift that M brought to the game – dancing hula girls. You know, the kind you put on your dashboard? That was hilarious and it couldn’t have gone to a better person. *grin*

My nephew, M, was quite proud of his gag gift and indeed, it was one of the best ones. I think we’ll hang on to the hula girls and re-gift it to someone else next year.

Shh.

After we finished our games, we dived into my mom’s goodies she brought with her. There were all sorts of cookies, candies, fudge and pie (she brought a raspberry cheesecake that was to die for!!) and I ate so much that I felt guilty and worked it all off (mostly). In fact, mom left the fudge with me, so I have a feeling I’ll be working out every night this entire week to stay on top of those calories.

But oh, they are so worth it.

That brings us up to today. It’s a mild 60 degrees today and to my complete surprise, the boys stopped playing games, put on their shoes and are currently walking around the neighborhood. (We have a firehouse a block up from our house with a track, swings and a slide. I’m sure they’re having fun goofing off there).

GD took our video camera *gulp* so there’s no telling what sort of video he’ll bring back. If it’s not too silly, I might post a portion of it.

It’s 1:48 and I can’t believe this day is already half over. I’m feeling pretty sleepy now and I might go take a nap, once the boys get back. I never sleep very well when we have company stay the night … but I’ve talked about that before.

It’s also hard to believe that Christmas 2008 is over. I swear, we just put the tree up yesterday (actually, it was a month ago) and before we can blink three times, Christmas 2009 will be here.

Our family dynamic is changing. The boys are getting older and we’re getting one step closer to new faces (girlfriends) joining our little clan.

I’m ready, I think. I used to sort of freak out at the thought of the boys bringing a girl into our holidays, but … well, that’s bound to happen sooner or later, right? I suppose I need to get over myself and just deal with it.

I hope you had a great Christmas! If you wrote about it on your blog, or if you want to share your Christmas in the comments, please do! I’d love to read all about it.

If you’re still celebrating the holidays, happy holidays!

ADDED: Oops! I forgot to tell you this part … there are several pictures of GD and my nephew, A, opening several gifts. They are actually opening the same gift, it’s just that every time they opened one part, there was a smaller wrapped part inside. They did this about four times before they finally got to the tiniest gift, a folded up $50 dollar bill. This, of course, was another one of my mother’s brilliant ideas because hello?! What do you give an 18-year old and a 16-year old? Exactly. Money. Good one mom, what a great Christmas memory.

Excuse me, I feel a fudge run coming on.

*ahem*