Archive for December, 2012


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).

The year 2012 was such a fun year for our family.  Our oldest child – and our only daughter – got married, our middle child graduated from high school and went off to college, and our youngest child became sort-of like an only child here being the only one left at home.  Even though I miss all those teenagers hanging around our home and planning extra food for dinners because we often had extra friends stay, it’s fun to see our children grow up and become the young men and woman that God created them to be.  I’m looking forward to 2013.  Here’s a great song to get us started!

Oh, and I’d love to hear about your favorite 2012 moments and your hopes for 2013!

Live Like That, Sidewalk Prophets

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Recalculating

English: Detour in direction indicated

If you’ve ever used a GPS device while driving then you’ve heard the word “recalculating.”  You know, when you turn a different way than the GPS had planned for you to go and the GPS has to take a moment to figure out where you are and how to get you to where you need to be.  As I think about the past year or so, the word that comes to mind is “recalculating.”  And I’ve realized that it’s not a bad thing.  In fact, taking a different turn and going a different way can be fun and good.

When my family made the decision to change our church home it meant that I had to say good-bye to many kids that I loved to teach each week and lead in the children’s choir.  And I wouldn’t get to see those older kids that came in my room after Sunday school to let me know how things were going in their lives.  I still miss those kids.  But it ended up being a good thing because I have continued to teach my Good News Club kids so, even though it’s my favorite thing to do, I didn’t have to prepare a Sunday school lesson, a Good News Club lesson, a short choir lesson and learn choir songs and actions during the weeks of a very busy year.  You see, our son graduated from high school so we were on a college search and our daughter got married out of town so we had a lot of wedding planning to do.  And lots of celebration parties at our home to prepare for as well.  But then after the wedding was over and our son was at college, guess what?  I began to be given opportunities to go teach kids at Christian schools.  You never know what may be down that different road when your GPS says “recalculating.”

It reminds me of when Jesus was calling His disciples.  He simply said to them, “Follow Me.”  And they did.  They couldn’t have known where that road would take them, but they had spent enough time with Jesus at that point to know that it didn’t matter.  They wanted to follow Jesus.  I want to follow Jesus, too.  So I will keep my eyes on Him as I continue on this road whether I can see exactly where it will lead or when I hear that GPS say, “recalculating.”

“They follow the Lamb wherever He goes,” (Rev. 14:4 NIV).

Help Me Find It, Sidewalk Prophets

English: 1950. Oil on Canvas. 94" x 70&qu...

“How many kings stepped down from their thrones?

How many lords have abandoned their homes?

How many greats have become the least for me?

How many gods have poured out their hearts to romance a world that is torn all apart?

How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Only one did that for me.”  -Downhere.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Watching the Charlie Brown Christmas program on TV has become a Christmas tradition for our family.  It’s such a fun show!  One of my favorite parts is when Charlie Brown asks if anyone knows what Christmas is all about.  You gotta like the answer that Linus gives.

So what if your friend asked you what Christmas is all about.  Would you know?  Linus did.

You can learn even more about why we have Christmas in my post, “December Devotions:  Like Peanut Butter & Jelly.”

Merry Christmas!

Shepherd in Făgăraş Mountains, Romania

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  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 Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’…So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told,” (Luke 2:8-20 NIV).

The news of Jesus came to the shepherds while they were doing their regular thing – living in the fields.  They were told the truth about Jesus and they went to see Him.  Later Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,” (NIV).  That reminds me of what these shepherds did.  They dropped everything and looked for Jesus until they found Him.  Then they went and told people and people were amazed.

Are you seeking His kingdom and His righteousness today?  Check out the rest of that verse to see what happens when we do.  I’ll give you a hint.  When He made that statement, Jesus was talking about all of the things that we worry about and how the Father knows about the things that we need and He wants to take care of us.

Let’s be like those seeking shepherds today.  Let’s seek first the kingdom of God!

Christmas ornamentMy Christmas tree is covered with wonderful ornaments.  Most of them homemade and some of them gifts or purchased from a store.  My favorites are the ornaments that my own children made when they were little.  The ornaments made with paper and markers, then cut out with jagged lines and hung up on a tree branch with yarn or a ribbon.  Those are the ones that put a smile on my face as I remember the days of my then-small children so eager to make the best decorations that they could make to decorate our tree.

Simple decorations.  But the best.

My Good News Club kids and I have been learning about Elisha lately.  One of the first things we learned was that God did a lot of miracles through Elisha.  We know that God still does miracles today so we started a “Miracle Jar” and a challenge to be on the lookout for answered prayers and miracles.

Jesus basically said in Matthew 17:20 that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, it is enough.  Have you seen a mustard seed?  It’s about the size of the dot at the end of this sentence.  It’s very small.  But that much faith is enough for God to do big things.  For God to answer prayer and do miracles.

As I have listened to the children bring back reports of answered prayers and miracles and pour tiny mustard seeds into our jar, I’ve been encouraged and excited.  As have the children.  As I think about it, I think it makes God smile to see our faith.  Maybe like the way that I smile when I see the simple ornaments that my own children made for our Christmas tree.

We don’t have to be perfect to please God.  When we trust Him and desire to please Him, I think we make Him smile.  Even with our little mustard seeds of faith and our jaggedly cut out Christmas ornaments.

the scribble

* These are ornaments that two of my children made when they were little.  🙂

The Big One

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him,'” (Matthew 2:1-2 NIV).

Matthew 2:1-12 tells us about the wise men that saw the star in the sky when Jesus was born and then went out looking for Him.

A while ago I read an article about that star in my kids’ Clubhouse Magazine from Focus on the Family.  It’s really interesting.  You see, back in that time Jupiter was called the “King Planet.”  In 3BC, Jupiter and the star known as Regulus, or “King,” were so close that they looked like they touched each other.  In fact, Jupiter actually circled, or “crowned,” Regulus.  This all took place in the constellation Leo, “The Lion.”  The wise men would have taken note of this occurrence in the sky and also recalled Genesis 49 where the tribe of Judah is said to be like a lion.  We know that Jesus is called the Lion of Judah.  This symbol in the sky meant to the wise men that a new king had been crowned in Israel.

The article goes on to say that nine months after this happened, Venus, known as the “Mother Planet,” and Jupiter, came so close together that they seemed to touch each other.  The light of the two planets combined would have been very bright.  This other symbol in the sky would have told the wise men that the new king had been born.

That is really interesting, but here’s what I think is really neat.

God created the stars and the planets before He created people.  God created man on day six.  The stars and planets stay right where God wants them to be.  In fact, we can count on the stars to stay in place so well that people used to use them to know the days and seasons.  And God set the planets on their paths that they still follow.  So God planned this announcement of Jesus from the very beginning.  Even before God created us.  And before we fell.

Now that’s a God who loves us and has everything in control!

When you think about that bright star this Christmas and look at the stars in the sky tonight, remember that God loves YOU.

Nativity

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  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 Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’…So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told,” (Luke 2:8-20 NIV).

Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  She was caught right in the middle of God’s great plan, but she couldn’t have possibly understood it all.

What do you do when you are caught in a time that you don’t really understand?

Maybe Mary placed her baby in the manger and then thought, “What kind of mom am I?  My baby – the Son of God – is in a feeding trough for animals and that’s the best that I have for him.  I don’t know if I can do this.  Is this really part of Your plan, God?”  And then maybe the shepherds came rushing in with their faces glowing as words poured out of them about how all these angels had sung about the baby.  Mary was a regular person.  And a new mom. I’m sure she had some thoughts like that,  but I also think she thought back as she tried to understand all that was happening.

I think Mary probably thought about that day that the angel came and told her that she was going to have a baby – before she was married to Joseph, and the words that Elizabeth had spoken to her when she went to visit, “But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy,” (Luke 1:43-44 NIV), and how Joseph trusted her, and now how excited these shepherds were about her baby and about the amazing story that they told about the angels.

I think Mary thought about what she knew about this situation.  She knew that God had always taken care of her.  And she knew that God was good.  I wonder what she anticipated as she listened to the shepherds and sat there looking at baby Jesus.

So, what are you treasuring up today?  What are you pondering in your heart?

If you’re caught in a time that you don’t understand, can you stand in the fact that God is good and anticipate good things to come?

Buddy Bee Surprise!

Buddy BeeBuddy Bee is still flying around and creating a buzz!  Recently he showed up in my city’s newspaper.  What a surprise that was!  I was reading an article about a few books by local authors and there was MY book, “Papa’s Plan for Buddy Bee.”  They even included a picture of the cover.

Here’s what they wrote, “‘Papa’s Plan for Buddy Bee’ by Lori Schulz, illustrated by Hannah Segura.  A bee dad gives his son a secret and a mission in this children’s book, by Schulz, who lives in Omaha and is a graduate of Grace University.  ($13.95, ages 7-10),” (Omaha World-Herald, November 25, 2012).

Thank you to the Omaha World-Herald!

Bethlehem

Grab a cup of hot chocolate and find a comfy spot by the Christmas tree because today I decided to write a short story about a young boy on the night that Jesus was born.

A Bethlehem Boy’s Curious Christmas

I can’t sleep tonight.  My room is full of cousins.  Older cousins, younger cousins, boy cousins and girl cousins.  I have a lot of cousins.  And it’s been fun to have them here in my house.  I actually haven’t seen them in a while.  Caesar called this census thing so for the last few days people have been coming to Bethlehem.  And my house is full of aunts, uncles, and lots of cousins.  And I’m lying here in bed talking to my ceiling.

Anyway, I’ve never been in a census before.  I don’t even know why we have to do this.  But Caesar said we have to.  And whatever the Romans say, well, we have to do.  So that means we will have a census.  Caesar Augustus wants a list of everyone in the whole Roman world.  We don’t really want to be in the Roman world, but we are.  So everyone from the family line of David has to come here to be counted.  Which is why Bethlehem is so crowded tonight.

It’s not so bad though.  Today I got to play with Tom.  It’s great having another 10-year-old boy in our house.  We played tag out in the street today with the other kids.  That was so funny when Tom tried to hide behind a palm tree.  Palm trees don’t work well for hiding behind.  And it’s a fun break from my usual lessons.  I’m glad I don’t have to stay home with my mom and my sisters every day.  I like going with my brothers to learn Scripture.  I can already say a lot of the books that Moses wrote.  Dad said he’s proud of me for having so much memorized.  Lately we’ve been studying prophecies about the coming Messiah.  They say he’s going to come from Bethlehem.  Pretty cool.  But now that it’s nighttime, it’s very quiet here in Bethlehem.  No lessons.  No playing tag.  No nothing.  It’s very still.  In fact, more still than I can ever remember.  My mom would call it peaceful.  Peaceful or not, I can’t sleep.  And I’m still talking to my ceiling.

Ugh.  Tom is snoring.  Be quiet, Tom!  And how many times can Ben roll over in bed?  Double ugh.

Wait, I hear a man outside my window.  I think he needs a place to stay.  What?  His wife is having a baby?  Now?  Oh, no!  I remember when my mom had my little sister.  Everyone came around to help out.  Where will that man and his wife stay?  This city is so crowded.  I’d offer him some room here in my house, but we’re packed in here like a net full of Uncle Dan’s biggest catch of fish.  Haha.  Uncle Dan’s fish stories get bigger and better each time he tells them.  And Tom’s snoring would definitely keep that new baby awake.  I guess I can’t really help that man.  I hope they find a place.  I’ve got to go look out the window and see.

There he is.  Poor man.  He goes from door to door.  And his wife looks like she wants a room RIGHT NOW.  Why are they alone?  No one travels alone around here.  Wait, I think he found a place.  Over there with the animals.  Well, probably not the nicest accommodations here in Bethlehem, but I think that lady will take anything right now.

ZZZZZssssssnooooorrrrrr…..Oh, that Tom.  Hey, I think I hear a baby crying.  It’s not like my baby cousin when she cries.  It sounds like a brand new baby.  Maybe that lady had her baby.  Anyway, that baby cry sure sounds better than Tom’s snoring.

Hey!  How did I miss that?  That star, it’s so bright!  Okay, I am going out of this window.  I have to see this!  Mom and Dad won’t mind if I go out for just a minute.  And I could use a break from that awful snoring.

Wow!  I’ve never seen a brighter star!  And it’s right over that place where that man took his wife.  I’ve got to see what’s going on over there.

Wait.  What’s going on up there?  Over at that field?  I saw a bunch of sheep over there during the day today.  Something’s definitely going on there now, tonight.  The sky is so bright.  And it’s not the shepherds’ campfire.  And what is that sound?  That is not sheep.  No way.  And it can’t be those shepherds singing.  No way ever.  It sounds beautiful.  Like super-excited angels singing about something.  Wait.  I think it IS super-excited angels singing about something.  But singing to shepherds?  Why shepherds?  They’re just, you know, stinky shepherds.  Hmmm…Well, I’m going over there by those stinky shepherds to see if it really is angels singing about something.  I’ve never seen real angels before.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve actually seen shepherds before, not up close anyway.  We don’t really hang around those kinds of guys much.  This will be awesome!

See you later, Snoring Tom, and my house, and these palm trees.  This night is so still, even with that baby that was crying and whatever is going on up there on the hillside.

Good thing we had a good dinner tonight.  This is a long walk!

Whoa, look at all those, umm, those bright angels in the sky!  Angels!  They ARE singing!  “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”  Cool!  But what does that mean?  Why are they singing tonight?  And what is that angel telling those shepherds?  They look scared.  Well, wait, they don’t look scared anymore.  Hey, they’re coming this way!  The shepherds are running toward me!  Yikes!  I’ll hide behind this palm tree so they don’t see me.  Okay, it didn’t work so well for Tom today, but it’s all I’ve got.

Those shepherds sure can run fast!  Where are they going?  Hey, I think that’s the place where that man and his wife went.  Maybe that baby cry was their baby.  Why would the shepherds go there?  And why is that super-bright star right above that place?  Alright, I’m going.  I’ve got to check this out.

Huh.  Not much going on here really.  Just a baby in a feeding trough that the animals probably just ate out of.  Yuck!  Why are the shepherds so excited about that?  Well, they are shepherds after all.  But why are they calling that baby the Messiah?

I’ve learned about the coming Messiah.  If this baby is him, than things are all upside-down.  The Messiah should be a king.  The rabbi said that he will save us from the Romans.  At the least, he should be born in a palace and be surrounded by servants and maybe be covered by a nice soft purple blanket.  This baby has strips of cloth, he’s in a place for animals and he’s sleeping in a feeding trough.  And he’s surrounded by just regular people.   And shepherds.  And animals.  Doesn’t seem very kingly to me.  More like the birth of a servant really.

Yaaaaaawwwwn.  I better get back home.  I wonder if Tom has stopped snoring yet.  I could really use some sleep.  I’ve seen enough here.  I’m going back.

Wow, that star in the sky is so bright.  Good thing, because the light is great for finding my way back home.

Well, here I am back in my bed.  Next to Tom.  Ahhhh.  A quiet Tom.  Thank you, Tom.  Hmm…  Still can’t sleep.

I keep thinking of the Scriptures that we’ve been learning.

It’s written, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near.  A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.”  Our deliverer will be like a star that will bring us victory over our enemies.  Will that baby be the one that will rule the nations?

And there will be a prophet like Moses who will speak truth.  It’s written, “The Lord said to me:  ‘What they say is good.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.  If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.”  Will that baby be the one like Moses who will speak truth?

Micah wrote, “But you, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”  The Messiah will come out of Bethlehem.  But that little baby?  In a feeding trough?  Surrounded by shepherds?

And when Moses wrote that God said to the snake in the garden, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel,” what did he mean?  What could a little baby like that do?  Can that baby crush Satan?

Could that baby be the promised Messiah?

Could that baby be the one to save usZzzzzzz…

*Numbers 24:17; Deuteronomy 18:17-19; Micah 5:2; Genesis 3:15, all NIV.