December 11, 2009

My All-Time Favorite Christmas Carol

"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"...yep, that's it. Have you ever heard of it? Have you ever heard it?? It's not as popular as some other songs but it is my all time favorite...since I was about 5 or 6 yrs old!!

We got a record - I know some of you remember those! - of Christmas songs with a song book and it was one of the songs in there. I swear, I drove my sister insane listening to the song over, and over, and over again!!!

However, to this day, it is one of my faves. A few years ago, Mercy Me added it to their Christmas CD and that made me very happy!

Well, in this age of technology, I looked up the origin of the song. I have thought all along it was English, but I was wrong. That's not that surprising, huh?

Here's some of what I learned, if you are interested ;)

It was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day in 1864. Now, I am a Civil War junkie and was excited to learn this has a place in American history during the Civil War! During the timeline of the War, Longfellow lost his wife to a fire, and his son, Charles, was severely wounded in the War.

He wrote the poem, "Christmas Bells" after both of these events occurred in his life. It originally had seven stanzas, now down to five. The two that were cut out show a man who was still grieving from all that life had handed him during the War.

Having learned a bit more of the reasons behind it, I love the song even more! Now I hear that Jars of Clay and Casting Crowns also sing the song...that makes me even happier!!!

I love the last stanza where Longfellow shouts to the world, "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep." I am so thankful that my Savior knows what is going on in my world, and is a very present source in my life!!!

I hope you enjoy reading all seven stanza's and for a few days, the music will only play this song so you can enjoy it that way, too.

What is your all-time favorite Christmas Carol??

I pray your Christmas is peaceful, joyful and full of grace!!!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow....

God's girl, Pamela

"Christmas Bells"
(The original poem, complete with all seven stanzas)

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"


Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

December 7, 2009

A Homeless Man Made our Church Cry.....

His name is Kevin.

We were introduced to Kevin shortly after we began attending our new church. At that time, he had recently been diagnosed with tongue cancer and was having surgery to remove part of his tongue. Soon after, we got to meet him when one of our families began bringing him to church after S.O.U.L. ministry. He is such a sweet man and we have all been blessed by knowing him!

Within a few months, the cancer spread and he lost the rest of his tongue and some of his throat. At that time, we rejoiced as a church family because it looked like it was done! During the following months, he was a regular attender and several of us got to know him...even though he could not speak!

Well, last week Pastor Jerry read a letter written to Kevin's church family...and we all cried! Not a dry eye in the house, y'all!!! Sobs were heard all around our area, where many of the usual S.O.U.L. ministers sit.

The cancer has returned...and has become very aggressive. It doesn't appear that Kevin has long to live on this Earth, unless God intervenes. However, his life has already touched so many of us, it has not been in vain.

This is a homeless man, our ministry was to reach out to him, but as God so often does, Kevin blessed us more than we could ever imagine!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow...like Kevin, a homeless man

How have you been blessed by others, when you were wanting to bless them???

God's girl, Pamela

December 1, 2009

Take Your Best Shot - by Austin Gutwein


I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

Austin has left me with a sense of anticipation to see just how God will use my family as we begin to simply take our best shot!!!

In his first book, Austin Gutwein tells the story of how Hoops of Hope began when he was just 9 yrs old! Austin is the founder of Hoops of Hope....THE FOUNDER!!! He founded Hoops of Hope at the tender age of 9!!!

Austin blew me away in the introduction when he said, "...I'm a normal kid who heard, 'Austin, God wants to use you' enough times that I started to believe it." He tugged at the very heart of my being with the statement, "Kids are really trying to make a difference in the world."

Yes, dear Austin, that is exactly what they desire to do! I've seen it over and over again in my daughters lives...the crisp dollar bill given for birthday money goes straight into the offering plate for the missionary family visiting from who knows where, the love that went into choosing a Jesus gift to share with the homeless ministry at church - for our family, this meant one of their favorite toys as we taught them to give Jesus their best! - tediously choosing a warm blanket for someone they will probably never meet!

My own precious daughters have warmed my heart as they have given from within themselves...and they are not alone. Austin says it so well, "They're reaching out to people in need, and they're stepping out of their comfort zones....They want to do something bigger than themselves."

Austin's heart was touched when he watched a video of a girl named Maggie that lived in Africa. Watching the video started a fire in his heart, one that he could not extinguish...and didn't! With his parents support, his family began sponsoring a child through World Vision. However, it didn't stop there....

Austin wanted to do more for the aids victims in Africa and as I read his story, I was shaken to the core to see how God used the gifts a 9 yr old boy could bring to change so many lives in a far off continent! This book...the Hoops of Hope organization...they aren't about Austin, and he knows it. They are about reaching out to the orphans and those less fortunate, just as God calls us to do.

I pray that you will pick up this book, especially at this Christmas season. Pray as you read it, and ask God what you can do...maybe not in Africa but what about your neighborhood, church or community. Then, pass the book on, maybe even to a teenager, because you never know who God is calling to take their best shot!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow....

God's girl, Pamela

P.S. Today is World Aids Day...check out Hoops of Hope to see if there is an event near you...they have several scheduled in various places for this weekend.
My family is headed to a concert tonight, featuring Kari Jobe and the Watoto Children's Choir from Uganda to celebrate this day. We really are excited to see just what God has in store for our lives...starting tonight.