Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What a wonderful Christmas!

Our choir did our Christmas Cantata on Christmas Eve. We did as good as I expected, although I did not have expectations that were too high. We had many obstacles this year in choir.
It was a lovely service with over 100 in attendance, and one young man received Christ as his Saviour. He just came up to the Preacher after the service and said "I need to receive the Gift!"
We had a nice meal later, just the four of us, and of course, THE PRESENTS! No matter how much you teach a seven-year-old that its not just about the presents, its still a BIG DEAL to the little ones.
On Christmas Day we went over to Mother's for dinner. We had a traditional American Christmas dinner with all the trimmings except for cranberry sauce. We don't like cranberry sauce. The kids sang for us and Eileen played her violin. Then more PRESENTS. We then watched all our Christmas videos.
All in all, it was a great day, and the Lord knows why.(Thank you God for the answer to prayer)

I am so glad I serve a powerful, great God! If my God was as mediocre as people make Him out to be, I'd just give up. But I don't have a wimpy God, praise His Name!


Saturday, December 23, 2006

I wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

A Christmas greeting to all my blogfriends. May you and your loved ones honor Christ in this lovely Holiday. May you keep the true Christmas spirit alive in spite of all the commercialism.
Enjoy the company of your Loved Ones, old and young. Carry on the Christmas traditions of your family, and make up a few new ones of your own!

Blessings to you from the Son.

In Christ's love


I almost forgot!

Here are some words to "Hark! the Herald Angels sing" that sometimes go unnoticed.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail the incarnate Deity! Pleased as Man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.

If the doesn't bless you, you got somethin' wrong with your blesser!

Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Carols

As you can probably guess, I love love love Christmas carols. They involve two of my most favorite things, music and Christmas.

I love the secular "wintery" songs like "Let is snow", "Winter Wonderland" and "White Christmas". They are particularly nostalgic in this summery weather.

I love songs with a strong family theme like "I'll be home for Christmas".

But there is nothing on earth like singing about the Reason for the Season! Christmas carols are the most doctrinally-rich hymns there are. Try reading the lyrics to "We three kings". It talks about the deity of Christ, His sacrificial death, among other things. Read all the verses to "Oh come, all ye faithful" Here is a verse of that song. Singing these words gives me goosebumps!

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing

Oh come let us adore Him
Oh come let us adore Him,
Oh come let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord!

He Is the Word! Do you know that in Spanish, the Bible calls Him "The Verb" Isn't that cool?

One of my favorite Christmas activities is a good carol-sing. If I lived the the US, I would definitely go caroling. What a joy!

Enjoy the season, celebrate the Reason!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas on the mission field

So, you ask, what's Christmas like in Chile? Well, I say, quite different from Christmas in the US. For starters, its smack-dab in the middle of summer. Snow? You're kidding, right?
How 'bout some sunshine? Its daylight here until past 9 o'clock. So much for outdoor Christmas lights. That's why I paint my windows. They can be seen all hours.

Here Christmas is the the 24th, at night. They stay up until midnight, exchange gifts and have a cook-out. Turkey? A few do, but they prefer the cookout!
Santa Clause? Yep. The good ole US of A has done a great job of exporting Halloween and Santa Clause. I wish they would put as much effort into sending missionaries. Oh, right, you don't make money sending out missionaries!

So, what do we do? Well, we put on a Christmas Cantata a church. This year's is called "O Holy Night" We'll have a traditional American Christmas dinner, but it will get very hot in the kitchen! Turkey and dressing, hot rolls, the Works! We'll sing Christmas carols, and read the Christmas story in the Bible. Then we'll open presents and watch our taped Christmas specials. Maybe read some Christmas stories.
Ah, life is Good!


Monday, December 18, 2006

A full missionary day

Yesterday as I sat in Church, I was pondering a full missionary day. We were sitting in our new, yet unfinished building. There were our regular folks from Lanco, one from La Paz, five miles north. There was one from Quilche, 20 miles east, and 7 from our newly-forming mission in Máfil, 20 miles south. We had taken our choir to sing at the old-folk's home in Máfil earlier in the afternoon. As I played the piano for the congregational singing, I watched as Sandra signed for the Deaf. There were old folks and babies. All of us together singing to the Lord, getting ready to hear the Word preached. The fellow from Quilche got saved last night.

I know that we are not doing this for a "feeling", but it sure did feel good. There are just times when you can sense the Spirit of the Lord approving what is going on, and those are great times.
Thank you, God.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Contentment, or lack thereof

I have been looking at some of the houses on the Christmas tour of homes. I love Christmas, as you all well know. But seeing all those beautiful homes and decorations has left me feeling a wee bit envious and discontented. Wrong, I know. I have a nice (for here) house, much nicer than most in our town. Just yesterday, we spent the day with 5 families in our Church who were with 235 other families receiving their government-subsidized houses. These houses are tiny, one-bedroom affairs. The bedroom will scarcely fit a queen-sized bed. They only had to pay 400 dollars for the house. A few were truly grateful, most others were compaining about the size.

Compared to these cracker-boxes, I live in a mansion. But campared to the fine houses I saw on the tour, I live in a cabin. I realize that contentment must begin wherever you are. I may not ever live in a fine home this side of Heaven, and that's OK. I don't deserve a fine home, I deserve nothing. Anything I have is by the Grace of God. I am living right where God wants me to be and if that's not enough now, nothing will ever be enough.

Thank you God, for my home. Forgive my lack of gratitude.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas tour of Homes

Welcome to my Christmassy home! Here's our traditional tree, which I love.

No Christmas decoration is complete without
a Nativity Scene.

I made this sequined house ornament this year. I have been trying to replace all the ornaments we lost in a fire.

I love to paint Christmas messages in my window! We have a lot of pedestrian traffic three feet from my front window.

This is the other side of the window. If you knew me, you'd know what an accomplishment this is for me!

Merry Christmas, and may God bless You!


Daily habits

At our recent Ladies retreat, I had the "priviledge" of speaking last. I say that ironically, because after 5 other ladies, pretty much everything had been said, and well said at that.

I didn't know what the Lord would want me to speak on, so I began to think about what our needs are. I realized that in order to do all the God wants women to do, we must have certain daily habits that make our Christian life possible.

As I began to research, I started to realize that Satan has habits concerning us. Everyday.
Potifar's wife tempted Joseph "day by day". Delilah tempted Samson. The Bible says "she pressed him daily" until "his soul was vexed unto death"

Psalm 42:10As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?

Our enemy reporaches us DAILY.

Psalm 56:2Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.

Are you sensing a pattern here?

So, dear Sisters, it is truly necessary for us to have daily battle drills against our enemy, and believe you me, we have an enemy who hates us and fights dirty.

In case you didn't know, our Battle Drills consist of Bible reading, memorization and prayer.
The enemy doesn't take any holidays or sick days. He is out to destroy you.

Thankfully, we were given the ability to put on the whole armor of God. I suggest we take advatage of this priviledge.

Enjoy the Christmas season, delight in the blessings of the Lord, but don't let your guard down. Don't get too tired. Strengthen yourself in the Lord.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another wonder post...

By Homeliving Helper.

Wouldn't you just love for your home to be as clean and inviting as an expensive hotel or inn? Of course, Lady Lydia left out one important factor. Most hotel housekeepers don't have to cook or train their kids as they clean;0)

Also, how on earth do you deal with a pack-rat husband? My friend Wendy is an expert housekeeper and knows how to fling. The Preacher just hates for me to throw out "good" stuff and we are bulging with "good" stuff.

Read this great article here

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kind Words

What were the kindest words anyone ever said to you?

I ask, because I am beginning to realize that acting kindly can be learned, and that behaviour can be refined. People "fix" things all the time. We make our houses as nice as we can. We fix our hair and face. We don't just decorate our houses, we continually improve. So it would seem that the same would be true of our attitudes and actions. I am not talking about flattery. I don't like flattery and neither does God.

I would like to concentrate on words, kind, uplifting, words. I would like to learn how to respond to something I disagree with amiably and with no hint of phariseeism and hypocrisy. Anybody good at that? I also know that just keeping my mouth shut is another good way to go; ) I would like to know how to offer words of consolation.

So, I guess the question is, "What would Jesus say?"


Flylady, again

I just love Flylady! I was just feeling a little inferior. Not in a good way, like esteeming everybody else as superior, but in a bad, envious way. Like, my house is a wreck, and how does she ( and you know who she is, the one with the perfect house, hair, make-up, wardrobe, kids etc.) always stay motivated to keep hers nice?
Enter my beloved Flylady saying "You are not behind, just jump in wherever you are!"
Do you know what uplifting words those are?

On that same note, how can I be more encouraging? What can I say to others to help them desire to be more for God?


Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas multitasking

God is, in my opinion, THE Multi-tasker. In his sovreignty, He makes all things to work together for good. Every single being in existence and not yet in existence is part of His design. I also believe that He created women to be expert multi-taskers. Now, how on earth does that relate to Christmas? I am so glad you asked!

Let me explain.
We celebrate Christmas to remeber how God the Father sent His Son to earth to save us. God placed great importance on His birth by making details of His birth matters of prophecy. They were told where He would be born(Bethlehem), of whom(descendants of David, a virgin), where He would go later (Egypt) among other details. It is thrilling to me to study fulfilled prophecy!

However, as Christian moms, we can also use the Christmas season for many other godly purposes. We can teach our children about giving and selflessness. We can teach charitable giving by making a food basket for a needy family or two. We can cultivate femininity in our girls with Christmas baking and cooking and decorating. We can foster family togetherness by carrying on old family traditions and by instituting our own family traditions.
Does this take away from celbrating the birth of Christ? Not all!
We're multi-tasking!

Family Life Conference

We just ended a Family Life Conference at our Church yesterday. For four days we had special services teaching about what God says about families. He should know, after all, He created them. Our good friend, missionary Phillip Rogers did the teaching. The great thing is that we had 3 people saved, as well as many who made decisions. We had 110 on the last night, and for that we are thrilled.

There are so many broken and hurting families here. Situations that will never be what God intended families to be seem to be bountiful here. We pray that the lessons taught this weekend will help for the next generation. We had two ladies there who are expecting their first babies. I pray that they will start their motherhood on the right track.

I love good teaching about families. I love my family. I believe that God created us all to feel the need to belong to a family. That's why He gave us our families and our Churches.

If you haven't stopped by Homeliving Helper lately, please do so. There are some great articles there. We are going against the current, but I know that its right.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Arias family Christmas tree!

Here's my tree, and I just love it! I have multicolored ornaments, nothing too fancy. I love sparkly ornaments!

Here below is a close-up of an ornament I made. WooHoo! If you can stick pins into sequins and styrofoam, than this is a craft for you!This little sparkly house is a joy to me!

I want my tree to be down-home, just like we are. No fancy-shmancy decorator trees here!

I wish I could have a natural tree, but they are unavailable here. I mean, we do have quite a few pine trees, just no Christmas pine trees.

Merry Christmas, folks!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A pastor friend of ours has this to say....

I usually don't do posts this long, but I though somebody might enjoy this.

The Christmas Tree
1 Peter 2:24 (KJV) Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

History. While many of the things associated with the modern celebration of Christmas clearly have a pagan connection with their origin, the Christmas tree is different. In the seventh century a missionary to the Germans came across a group of pagans who worshiped the Oak tree as a god. He suggested they were foolish to worship something that died every year and lost its beauty. He went on to use the evergreen tree to teach them that the living, God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and provides eternal life for His children. He said the triangular shape symbolizes the trinity. The evergreen tree quickly became a symbol of the gospel message to those living in Northern Germany. Ironically the Roman Catholic church denounced the use of the tree claiming those who failed to trust in the Roman church alone for salvation were heretics. The symbol of the division became so great, that after Martin Luther left the Catholic church he went on to use the evergreen tree as an illustration in the Gospel message in defiance of Rome. Expanding the illustration he placed candles on the tree to show how it was Jesus and not Rome that was the light of the world. By the twelfth century the common practice was to hang the tree upside down from the ceiling. It was considered a symbol of those who rejected the Catholic church for salvation. Rome countered declaring all those who placed a tree in their home or place of worship incapable of earning salvation.

The first claim to the use of a Christmas tree in America is much debated. A city in Connecticut claims a foreign soldier put up a Christmas Tree in 1777. A city in Pennsylvania said a German immigrant was the first to erect a Christmas tree in 1816. The German reportedly used it in teaching fellow believers about Christ, eternal salvation, and the Trinity. Traditionally, Christmas trees were not brought into the home until Christmas Eve and then taken down on January 6 the date first thought to be the birthday of Christ.

Some Christians feel the practice of having a Christmas tree is prohibited in the book of Jeremiah 10:1-5 (KJV) 1 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. A careful reading will help us understand this has nothing to do with the use of a Christmas tree. The trees of Jeremiah had no connection with the birth of Christ, the story of salvation or Christmas. The trees were worshiped as gods having supernatural power. I have never known someone today to pray to a Christmas tree, believing it could hear and answer.

Regardless of the origin of the Christmas tree, there is no doubt that the world had secularized it. It no longer represents to the average person the spiritual teachings of Christians from an earlier time who used it for good or the false teachings of the prophets of the groves or those from Jeremiah’s day. For most the tree is simply a part of the Christmas tradition. A tradition that has forgotten the Christmas message delivered on the first Christmas eve to the shepherds, Luke 2:10-11 (KJV) 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Trees have always played an important part for good and bad in the Scriptures. Like every other spiritual symbol, Satan loves to counterfeit and corrupt.

Trees are mentioned 287 times in the Bible. It is first mentioned in Genesis. They played an important part in the Garden story.

Genesis 1:11-12 (KJV) And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Genesis 2:9 (KJV) And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:16-17 (KJV) 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 3:6 (KJV) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Trees played other important roles in Bible. Used in construction of Temple. Moses placed a branch of a tree in the bitter waters to make them sweet. False prophets often used trees to carve idols and to hide in tree groves when performing their wicked deeds. Psalms 1:3 speaks of the blessed or saved man, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

The most important reference to a tree is the one in our text.

1 Peter 2:24 (KJV) Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Galatians 3:13 (KJV) Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Whether we choose to have a Christmas tree in our home or not is a personal decision. Whether we see it as a symbol of God’s son, salvation and sovereignty or another invasion of the world into spiritual things and a commercialization of that which is spiritual is left for each to decide. What is important however, is that we understand the real Christmas tree and the gift associated with it was given to us when Jesus hung on the wooden cross and gave his life that we might have eternal life.

Jim Preston

Lighthouse Baptist Church

12140 Indian St.

Moreno Valley, Left Coast 92557

Arias Family nativity scenes

I love the Reason for the Season! A well-placed nativity scene reminds us all what its all about.
Two years ago, I got plaster figures and painted my own nativity scene, just like my mother had done 30 some years ago. It was a tremendous effort on my part, as I am not artistic. I was pleased with the results. Then, six months later, I lost all my Christmas decorations in a fire. We lost many things in the fire, but I mourn the loss of my Christmas things the most.
Last year we bought this set to replace the other.

Our second scene is a Chilean-style Jose, Maria and Niño Jesus. I need to get a better setting for this one. Its really cute.

Coming soon, pictures of our tree!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

I really love Christmas time! I decorate my home and paint my windows. I cook and eat and we all sing! I love Christmas carols. Christian ones, and a few secular ones. I saw a Christmas meme over at Dawns, and I even love hearing about Christmas!

I have lived here in the southern hemisphere for over 20 years and I still think about Christmas being in the Winter. I miss the cold and dark. Its so hard to "get in the mood" when its 80 degrees and light until 9:00 pm!

Here's how I get in the mood. I decorate! I put up my tree and Nativity scene. Nothing elaborate, but we like it. I play Christmas music as much as I can stand. I prefer traditional choral music to soloists. I especially love groups that sing accapella. I hate anything too modern.
Favorite carol? Too hard to say. Currently they are "God rest ye, Merry Gentlemen", "We Three Kings" and "Bring a torch, Jeannette, Isabella".

We eat traditional Christmas food, turkey and cornbread dressing, pecan pie,mashed potatoes,
seven layer salad, yeast rolls.

We make Christmas cookies and fudge, pecan sandies, chocolate crinkles, and if we can, peanut butter-kiss cookies.

I do not allow my children to give me lists.
I rarely send out Christmas cards. (shame on me)

I get supremely homesick for the US around this time.

So, more Christmas musings to come!