Now the year is over

As we come to the end of this year, it is wonderful to look back on how the Lord has led me and grown me spiritually.  And also to look forward to the ways in which I wish to trust and obey Him more this coming year. This year has been more of a testing year than I have ever really experienced in my short life of sixteen years, and I have felt the Lord's presence more this year, than ever, as a result.  I could list hundreds of ways, yes even thousands, in which the Lord has tested me and disciplined me this year, but I can also list just as many ways in which He has richly opened up the storehouses of heaven and poured down His blessings upon me. Indeed I look not on this past year with much sadness though I have shed more tears this year than usual, I look back on it with joy, knowing that " The Lord chasteneth those who fear Him and scourgeth every son whom He loves".  Yes I know that I am truly His, and because of this alone I am blessed beyond measure.
   Many songs come to my mind at this time. I have many I could post, but there is one song which is reminiscent of some of my struggles and states the joy of belonging to Christ. This is Fanny Crosby's beloved hymn, "Blessed Assurance".

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.


Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

May all of you who read this have a God honoring new year. Soli Deo Gloria.

Jedidiah turns eleven

 Today my younger brother Jedidiah turns eleven years of age. As  I think back over the past years of his life, I have noticed that of all of my brothers, his personality and temperament are very similar to mine. Although he does not share my burning passion for music, he still loves it and I have recently begun to tutor him in violin; for practice to start cello eventually. As he is the third son, and I the third daughter, I find there is a special similarity between us and I can often understand him better than I can my other brothers. Jedidiah is the bookworm, the studious one, the serious one and sometimes the very logical one. I love him dearly. Unfortunately I couldn't find any pictures of him from about four years and on, If I had had enough time I could have found them. However I think you will get the idea of how he grew from the pictures I have here.

                                                      five days old.
                                                       About four or five months.
                                                             I love that smile.
                                                     This is his classic sneep face! He did it all the time as a baby.
                                                    Here he is with his two older brothers, in matching night clothes.
                                                         Fireman small at your service.
                                                    What a darling!
                                                         Crying at his first birthday.(I did that too)
                                                     He loved to be bundled up.
                                                    He always sucked his two fingers. It was so cute...for a time.
                                                       As a happy toddler all ready for church.
                                                      Getting his first haircut from Daddy. This has always been a  tradition                                                                       in our family, Daddy gives the boys their first haircut and                                           Mommy does likewise for the girls.
                                  Playing in the sand box with big brother Elliot.

                                                   Still the two fingers!
                                                           At three years of age. Holding his beloved lamb Gideon.
                                                          Helping older brother Timothy to chop mushrooms.
                                                       Trying on Daddy's shoes with older brother Elliot.
                                                  Painting in his cute paint shirt.
                                        ( It was more of a robe for him, it was so big).
                                             I love this picture! He was using a cardboard book and a stick for a fiddle.
                                     There he is between his older and younger brothers.
                                                 Examining the Paul Revere bell when we walked the Boston freedom trail.
                                                  Grinning in front of a cow skull at the Brown barn on our first trip to                                                                                     North Carolina.
                                                Hugging Gideon before bed.
                                                This picture is so cute. Jeddidiah and younger brother Tobias holding hands.
                                                       Helping Arianne with leaf raking.
                                                         At the seashore shortly before we moved to NC.
                                                       Playing in our new house in NC with Elliot.
                                                       Newest little brother Benaiah.
                                                       Two brothers ready for church.
                                                      November of last year.

                                     We love you dearly Jedidiah.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me......

.......The twelve days of a large family Christmas.
 As most of you have heard the original song, I thought I would post this one. Its quite amusing and actually quite true if you have a  large family. Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me........

......Silent night.
 This song  has an interesting story behind its writing which I would like to share with you. In 1818, at the Obendorf bei Salzberg, a church in Austria, it was Christmas. There had been a violent snow storm and there was no way for people to get far. Then the organ broke. Because of the snow storm no one could come out and fix it and if there was no organ the parish children feared there would be no Christmas carols for their annual Christmas eve service. And so, on the twenty third of December, a day before the Christmas eve service, Joseph Mohr, who was pastor of the church, gave these beautiful lyrics to the organist Franz Gruber and told him to compose a melody to it that could be sung to a guitar. Gruber stayed up late that night and composed for the poem the soft and dreamy melody that we now know as Silent night.

  The video I post below is not as good as I wanted, but I wished to spend as little time as possible searching for videos today.  However, it was still well done. Merry Christmas!

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me.....

......Ding Dong merrrily on high.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me....

......On Christmas night. The Sussex carol.
 This is a lovely Christmas carol, which, as with the previous one, I learned the tune long before I knew there were any words! I have heard much better arrangements for this song than the one below, but it will at least give you an idea of what it is like if you don't already know it.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me.....

.....In the bleak midwinter.
 This old and beautiful tune is one that I have known for a long time, but just recently learned the title. The words are lovely too. I didn't know this song had words either until recently.
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me.....

.....Let all mortal flesh keep silence.
   This beautiful old hymn is one that makes you feel transported when arranged correctly. As today is my Mother's birthday, I saved this one for this day as it is her favorite Christmas song. Enjoy!

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me......

.....Good king Wenceslas. 
   This old carol was written about a king who goes to feed a poor man on the feast of saint Stephen. During the journey, the page, who accompanies him, is about to give up because of the cold, but is enabled to continue by following step for step in the king's foot prints. The song ends with a biblical principal by saying, " you who now will bless the poor, will yourselves find blessing."  The king was modeled after a real king, Saint Wenceslas I,  Duke of Bohemia. He was known for His goodness and after his death in 935, he was called a martyr and and a whole sect grew up around him. They exaggerated his goodness to the point where he was considered not just a prince, but the father of all the wretched. Although Wenceslas was, during his lifetime, only a duke, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, conferred on him the regal dignity of a king, and that is why, in  legends and songs, he is referred to as a "king".  So below is a very good rendition of the song, and in case you can not understand the words, I will post them below.
Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gathering winter fuel.

“Hither, page, and stand by me, if you know it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me food and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither,
You and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together,
Through the cold wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather.

“Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger,
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page, tread now in them boldly,
You shall find the winter’s rage freeze your blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
You who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me......

.....Lo how a rose ere blooming.

  This is a lovely old carol that most of you have probably heard of, so I am posting it in German which was its original language by the title of  " Es ist ein Ros Entsprungen" .  Just in case you don't know it, I am posting the words in English below.

 Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse's lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah 'twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
Mary we behold it, the Virgin Mother kind.
To show God's love aright, she bore to us a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger they found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me.....

The carol of the bells.....
This is one of the songs I learned  this year, its beautiful. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

.......Handel's Messiah- For unto us a child is born
I love Handel's Messiah. Some day I think it would be fun to sing or play in a performance of it, but in the more immediate future I would like to attend a  live performance of the entire piece. Lord willing I will have that opportunity sometime. For now here is a short clip of one of the more popular sections. Enjoy!
  Just as a note, it is really interesting to me that Messiah is totally based on prophesy from the old testament about the coming of Christ as you will see in this clip and through the whole piece if you have heard it all.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me....

.....O come O come Emanuel.
This song is one of the oldest Christmas songs that we still have. The tune was thought to have either originated from a 15th Century French processional hymn  for Franciscan nuns, or an eighth century Gregorian chant. It is a delight to the soul. Enjoy!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me....

.....God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Savior
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straightway,
This blessed Babe to find:
O tidings of comfort and joy, 
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

  But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereat this Infant lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His mother Mary kneeling,
Unto the Lord did pray: 
O tidings of comfort and joy 
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy 

Little is known about this traditional English carol, much of the fact about it is simply speculation and no more. The melody  was first published by William B. Sandys in 1833 although the author is unknown. However it came into being, the tune is beautiful, I couldn't find a video of it anywhere that did the tune justice. But the lyrics are beautiful as well so I posted them here, they truly capture the spirit of Christ's birth in the chorus, O tidings of comfort and joy! There would be no comfort, and no joy if Christ had not come to redeem us.  Praise be to God  we can now shout joyfully " O tidings of comfort and joy" !

Sounds of Christmas

Over the past ages, Christmas has been a very controversial subject. Many people have rejected it outright as a replacement for an old pagan holiday. Others have rightly put it aside because it nearly turned into a pagan holiday as in the days of the Pilgrims and Puritans. On the other hand, some have gone way to far in fantasizing the Christmas theme making it seem like a perfect experience filled with perfect people; as the Italians did with their extravagant presipi promoted by King Carlo in 1734. Still others, in modern days have totally forgotten what Christmas represents and turn it into "Santa Claus day".
 Christmas, as you may guess from the name, was started by the Catholics; originally called Christ's Mass. Some say it was for the Roman Christians who were used to celebrating their pagan holiday, Saternalia, around this time, and wanted something else to replace it. However it was, Jesus was most likely not born in the wintertime nor in the snow as the song I posted last suggests. So then if Christmas was started this way, why do I celebrate it? Because of the former reasons, some people have even gone to the extent of not singing any Christmas songs. I believe that even though it did start out as something bad, we can use it for good. For example, in our family we have the tradition of everyone giving everyone else a gift. This helps to get our minds off ourselves and thinking about others. Getting presents for nine other people is a big deal. Some people have worked hard to symbolize every thing and say that the gifts represent God's gift to us and the Christmas tree, which is evergreen, represents the fact that Christ is everlasting and His salvation endures forever. But this doesn't necessarily change any thing. What matters most is where our hearts are. If Christmas has become a stressful time for you because you have to get everything just perfect. Then perhaps you could rearrange things so it is less formal and more relaxed. We decorate and have a tree, but we only do it because its fun. We don't climb up on the roof to hang holly and lights, because that would really get stressful for us. But if it is not a stressful time, and if it indeed Glorifies Christ, then why not celebrate it? Even though Jesus may not have been born on December twenty fifth, why not choose that day to remember it? For me, Christmas is a time to remember God's gift to man, an excuse to give my family presents, and a time to forget about the stresses life brings, and focus on God and my family. I think though for me, the best part of Christmas is not the tree,(though it really smells nice), it is not decorating, (even though its extra fun), its not the presents, (though I love seeing the expression on my sibling's faces when they open my gift, especially if its a joke present); But it is the beautiful Christmas music that I really look forward to every season. Now I believe in  singing about Christ's birth at any time of the year, However, it is Christmas time when everyone pulls out the Christmas CD's and people start posting beautiful Christmas arrangements on their blogs, and, interestingly enough, its the only time of the year that I hear nice music in some stores! Last year, I was at a store where I brace myself every time I enter, because the music is always so dark and evil sounding. This time, however, I nearly dropped my basket in amazement because they were playing Handel's Messiah!!! I should say, that is a really nice benefit of Christmas. So now all you faithful readers who have stuck with me through this long epistle, I will present you with another of my favorite old carols,
"O come O come Emanuel".

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Merry Christmas.

See Amid The Winter's Snow

As we enter the Christmas season this is one of the songs I love to listen to. The words are not profound, but the tune is absolutely stunning!  I will write more on this season later. Until then, Merry Christmas to you all.