Whate're Befall me...

It was Sunday morning at Fellowship Bible Church in Manchester New Hampshire. Church had just concluded, and my older siblings and I watched with eagerness as the deacons set up the wooden choir stands on the stage.  None of us ever wondered why they set them up after church, though now, I still muse over it, maybe so that they could have choir rehearsals during the week. Maybe I was too young at the time and missed some obvious connection. But, we didn't worry about that, all we saw were the stands being set up, and we knew, that just as soon as the church cleared out, we were going to have fun!  Thankfully for us, it took an hour to get to church, so naturally we were the last ones to leave, giving us no worry that we would clear out before the church did!  ~  As soon as the coast was clear, Timothy, the acknowledged leader led his three sisters up the steps and on to the stands. Each of us had one all to ourselves; we were going to sing to our imaginary audience. We were going to be the Hellwig quartet!  Just as we were about to begin, a lady friend of ours, Mrs. Shuler, walked up and asked us what we were going to sing. "All the Way My Savior Leads Me."  Was Arianne's quick response. She was the spokes person in the group, being that she was the least shy of all of us!  "I Love that song!" Was our friend's response, "How about, I'll be the conductor."  To this, we agreed, and started to sing, although, in my characteristically shy manner, I nearly backed out of it when I saw the pastor and his wife watching us along with Mommy and Daddy and the rest of the "stragglers!"  But the other three were already singing and my dissenting voice was lost in their's so there was nothing for it but to sing, and sing I did! In fact, we sang so well and always knew the words to the songs we sang every time we decided to "have choir", that mommy got a few calls asking if we could join the children's choir...which, she politely declined!
   
   To this day, I and many of my siblings know all the words to that song perfectly, as well as the words to most of the other hymns I know. This has been marveled at by many and people wondered how we could do it! The answer - We sang without the hymnbook!  Mommy had the hymnbook, but none of us did. Every morning, after breakfast, we sang a hymn together and if we didn't know the song yet, we followed along as best we were able. In a few days, we knew the song. The more songs we learned, the better we got at learning them. The more verses to a song we knew, the more eager we were to learn the rest!
   This was a great lesson for me later on down the road. It was such a blessing to know all those songs. Even though, at the time, I just followed with out realizing the meaning and I sure wished I had a hymnbook, what I couldn't understand at the time ended up having greater implications for me later on!
    
   Now, as this year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, becomes a time of the past, and the new year unveils itself with all the glory of an unmarked slate, I see before me a time of preparation. A time of hard work and a lot of expenses (that's college incarnate!) a time of doing things that may not benefit me now, but will set up my life for later on, besides which, giving me joy in my life right now! Because, the greatest joy comes not in doing what we want but what we ought!

   Now, I know the truth of that hymn I mouthed as a little five or six year old:
                      "For I know, what  e'er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well!"
                                                and,
                          "This my song through endless ages, Jesus led me all the way!"

Of course we can't forget the second verse, which is my personal favorite! We always put extra emphasis on the word "Gushing!" It always made me think of a wild, raging, out of control, glorious waterfall, and my heart would soar into the skies when we reached that line!

All the way, my Savior leads me,
cheers each winding path I tread,
gives me grace through every trial, 
feeds me with the living bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
and my soul a thirst may be, 
GUSHING
from the rock before me,
Lo, a spring of joy I see!
GUSHING
from the rock before me,
Lo, a spring of joy I see!

Yes, that was the way we sang it, you could hear the "sh" from miles around! And even now, I still put extra emphasis on that word. The accent seems to have been made for that word!

  This has become my favorite hymn of all time, and, I think, always will be.  I love so many of the old hymns too, and amazing grace is a perilously close second; but this one holds special meaning to me and always will be a delight to sing!

  So, as you start a new year fresh with the buds of coming excitement and new hope, keep in mind, that what e'er befalls you, Jesus doeth all things well!

  Here, I couldn't find a decent video with the complete song! This one left out my favorite verse, but I hope that none of my readers ever will!

  Enjoy the rich harmonies in this one, however!
     
All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way.

Have a wonderful year; and may Jesus, indeed, lead you all the way!

Twelve Drummers Drumming...

Today is the final day in advent, and I wanted to post something really special!  At first I tried to find the twelve days of Christmas, but after listening to a few videos, I became so bored with the song and the spoofs off of the song, that I decided to do something else!
   I started looking up the oldest know carols, and came up with three I thought I'd post here.
The first one is in Latin and has a very Celtic sounding tune.  I rather like it; though certainly, I prefer the style of music that was written a little later, during the late medieval and early reformation time.   This one is called "Personent hodie."  Which literally means, "Let resound today." Although most translate it into "On this day the earth shall ring."     
   I would give you the words, except, it's going to take too long to type them out, and I can't find any which I can copy and paste without trouble! However, I will give you a link to where you can go and read the words, right here! 
  And here is the video:
    Then, the second song; "Good King Wenceslas!"   Most of us know this song; I had my little choir sing it this season, but this is the sort of song which I say you can't hear too much!
And last, but by no means least; "The holly and the Ivy!"  This is my favorite!
  There! Now, you'll have to let me know if you enjoyed my series this year!  ~ I would be interested in finding out how many of these songs you heard for the first time one my blog! 
 ~ And have a very Merry Christmas!





















Eleven Pipers Piping!

Today, I'm really in a dreadful rush, but I want to share this song with you anyway!   ~  I think in this case, the video should speak for itself!  ~  I wish I would be around when a group does a flash mob attraction like this! Perhaps someday I will!  ~ Until then, I'll enjoy the youtube videos such as this one!  
I think I'll have something more complete for you all tomorrow...But...Don't get your hopes up!

Ten Lords a leaping, Nine Ladies dancing, Eight Maids a Milking...

Yes, I have missed three days! But I'm going to give you three songs to account for those three runaways!
  I must be brief for even now I'm short on time! But I'd ask you to take the time to listen to these three songs.
   I have posted them all before, so if you've been following my blog for any considerable length of time you've already heard them!
   Still, these old familiar carols are good to listen to sometimes!
           This song is pure beauty. One of my absolute Christmas Carols! Beside which, the words don't carry that Catholic/pagan ring to them which many old carols do.  ~ Let me know if you agree with my first statement, after you've listened to the song!

See amid the winter’s snow,
Born for us on earth below,
See, the gentle Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.

Refrain
 Hail that ever blessèd morn,
Hail redemption’s happy dawn,
Sing through all Jerusalem:
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Lo, within a manger lies
He Who built the starry skies;
He Who, thronèd in height sublime,
Sits amid the cherubim.
Refrain

Say, you holy shepherds, say,
Tell your joyful news today.
Why have you now left your sheep
On the lonely mountain steep?
Refrain

“As we watched at dead of night,
Lo, we saw a wondrous light;
Angels singing ‘Peace on earth’
Told us of the Savior’s birth.”
Refrain

Sacred Infant, all divine,
What a tender love was Thine,
Thus to come from highest bliss
Down to such a world as this.
Refrain

Teach, O teach us, holy Child,
By Thy face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee,
In Thy sweet humility.
Refrain

This is a triumphant song which I never tire singing. Doctrinally sound and joyful, it is a delight to sing any time of the year!

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th' angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ, by highest heav'n adored:
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the favored one.
Veil'd in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th'incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail! the heav'n born Prince of peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!" 
And finally, an old English Carol that everyone should know. I like to sing it fast and loud and it sends my heart soaring above the gloomy clouds!
 
Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul, and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say: News! News! Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and ass before Him bow; and He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! Joy! Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened the heavenly door, and man is blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!

And now, I must leave you, enjoy these three! 
    And May we, indeed, learn true Humility, from Christ's example when He deigned to dwell among us as a powerless infant!

Seven Geese A Laying/ Swans a Swinning!

I mixed up the title of yesterday's post and realized my mistake after I'd already shared it all over the place! So, for your knowledge as well as for my memory, it's 'Six geese a laying, Seven swans a Swimming!'
 
   Tonight I will be going to a ball.  It will be a Christmas ball but probably the music will be more of a Classical kind than Christmas music!  ~  But Carols actually used to be used as dance music! Popular dance tunes were combined with Christian verses so that people could sing to their own dancing! Many of the older tunes can be danced to quite easily. Besides it makes sense, peasants wouldn't have had too many musicians at their beck and call and if they wanted to dance they would have to sing themselves!  It has only been in more recent years that people sing of Christ's birth only at Christmas. It used to be one of those things that was sung of all year round. After all,  why not?  But that's just the way it is! Nevertheless, wouldn't it still be fun to dance to Christmas music?  -  I looked it up to see if it was actually possible with any modern dances and I actually found quite a bit; people still dance to Carols!  The word carol does actually come from a French word meaning to sing and dance!
  I can almost see a song like "Masters in This Hall," or "Ding Dong Merrily on High," used for a lively reel.  And songs like "What Child is this,"  used for a stately waltz!

   So, I want to share, with you, a couple videos of people doing some Scottish country dancing to Christmas carols, let me know what you think!

 Until I write again!

Six Geese a Laying...

I don't have much time to write today, but I still want to share something with you all!
   I stumbled across this video on someone else's blog, and it made me cry, but the tears were joyful! I'm sure most of you have heard of the famous 'Christmas truce' between German and Allied Soldiers during world war II.  This video, though not a music video, I think portrays a good part of the heart of Christmas!
   Enjoy, and hopefully I'll have something better for you tomorrow.
    Let me know how you enjoyed it!

Five Golden Rings!

I always cry when we sing the fourth verse of  "I heard the bells on Christmas Day!"  When I was about five or six, my siblings would laugh at me and I translated both that, and the crying into the idea that I didn't like the song.  So for many years this gorgeous hymn was chalked down on my 'disliked songs' list and I never sang it because it always made me cry and by the time we reached verse four (which to me was the climax) I was sobbing so hard I couldn't even voice the song!  I was a child at the time and it wasn't so much the song itself that I hated, but the very fact that I could not express why I was so moved to tears over it.  All I could tell myself (though not in the same words) was that something was lost during the first three verses and then found again in the fourth in a joyful reunion though not untouched by sadness.  Of course, I felt silly telling this to my family and all they got from me was that I thought it was a very sad song!  I always associate the fifth verse with tasting salt on my tongue and the feel of tears drying on one's cheeks.  This verse, I felt, was the one happy verse in the song.  Everything was resolved and made whole again and somehow, it all seemed glorious; that was the best word I could think of!
  Even now, I cry when I sing that song, though my tears are not as profuse as they used to as life has taught me to control my emotions better. But now, I understand why I cry!
   When I was younger, I didn't understand most the words.  All I really remember catching from the song are the third verse, the fourth verse and the first couple of lines of the fifth verse!  The truth is, that John Baptiste Calkin really captured the spirit of the song with his tune, Waltham.  And I, but a small child, through that tune, felt the same sorrow and joy over the song as Longfellow must have felt as he penned the song!  -  Below, I have shared a video which, I believe, conveys the spirit of the song as it was meant to be, along with an excellent retelling of its history!  They only sing three of the verses, however, and I'll post all of them below, in the order I have grown up singing them so that you all know which verses I have been referring to!
 
 Verse 1
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
 Verse 2
 I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th'unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
 Verse 3
 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."
Verse 4
 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."
Verse 5
 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!
 
And, for good measure, here is another one with most of the verses!
 
  I could not find a single video with all five verses with the right tune! They're all singing this version by 'Casting Crowns' which, I feel, can't even begin to compete with Calkin!  Oh, the emotions are there alright. (Modern music is good at getting feelings) But the emotions are only surface deep; they don't bring with them the meaning or inspiration. 
   I often find that a way a song makes you feel is a good indication of whether it is good or bad.  Some songs make you feel like you can do anything you want and nobody matters but yourself. Others (CCM is especially guilty of this) make you want to lift your hands and get lost in the worship, or whatever it is you're singing about, but it doesn't do anything more! Yet others, and this is my favorite music, gives you a rising feeling in your chest and you suddenly want to go finish that science problem you didn't feel like doing, or completing that chore you did in a slovenly manner. It makes your life, however horrid, seem wonderful and, I think, for a moment gives you a respite from the 'enchantment' that the devil throws over our eyes and we see the futility of evil and the utter greatness of doing what is right!  -  I really mean it, too! If ever you have that wish to do something wrong and try to fight it but your flesh has got the upper hand, then arise, and take up Handel's Messiah! By the time you've listened to the first few sections, I can almost guarantee you that your wish to do evil will have dissipated into a new resolve to press on in the name of Christ and win the crown for His sake! Just, try it if you don't believe me!  
   Like any other weapon, music is a powerful tool, and can either be used for good, or for evil!...In the case of this hymn, it was used to convey the struggle of Longfellow with his hardships, and his final victory over them; knowing that:
                                   "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep,
                   The Wrong shall fail,
                                    The Right prevail,
                         With Peace on earth, goodwill towards men!"

Four Calling Birds...

Today It's rather cloudy and gloomy. And, in my home, there are some rather gloomy spirits as well!  So, what can be better than a sprightly Christmas song to lift the spirits?
  I wonder how many of you have heard the traditional Catalan Christmas carol, "Fum, Fum, Fum!"
I know I didn't hear it until I was about thirteen on a CD we received from some dear friends of ours!

  The word "Fum" literally means "Smoke", and could either refer to the movement of smoke rising from a chimney as seen from a distance, or, some say, refers to the sound of a drum. Still others say that it refers to fiddling (which, as you can imagine, I want, very much, to be so!), or the rocking of a cradle...Nah! 
  But what ever it was actually meant to be, I like to think of it in my own way. Take, for example, the first verse:                             
  On December five and twenty
      fum, fum, fum
On December five and twenty,
 fum, fum fum.
  Oh, a child was born this night
  So rosy white, so rosy white
    Son of Mary, virgin holy
  In a stable, mean and lowly,
 fum, fum, fum.
I would sing this verse as written, but inside, I'm thinking: 
 "On December five and twenty, 
 Fun, fun, fun, 
 On December Five and twenty, 
 Food, food, food,  
 Oh the time we had with trees and light, 
so stately and so bright,  
and the presents all so cunning, 
and the lamb chops shortly coming,
 Fun, fun, fun!"
And, so on! ... 

   Well, maybe not, but, anyway, that's the feeling I get whenever I sing this song. I think you'll understand when you hear it! 
   So, enjoy!
     And, just so you aren't trying to figure out the words, I'll post them below!
On December five and twenty
fum, fum, fum.
On December five and twenty,
fum, fum fum.
Oh, a child was born this night
So rosy white, so rosy white
Son of Mary, virgin holy
In a stable, mean and lowly,
fum, fum, fum.
 
On December five and twenty
fum, fum, fum.
On December five and twenty
fum, fum, fum.
Comes a most important day
Let us be gay, let us be gay.
We go first to church and then we
Have the sweetest buns and candy,
fum, fum, fum,
 
God will send us days of feasting
fum, fum, fum.
God will send us days of feasting
fum, fum, fum.
Both in hot months and in cold
for young and old, for young and old.
We will tell the holy story
Ever singing of his glory,
fum, fum, fum.

I would love to hear how many of my readers have heard this song before!  ~ Feel free to comment on my blog, I'm sure all of you know how much we bloggers adore comments!

  And......Be sure to have plenty of, 
                                 Fun, Fun, Fun!

Three French Hens & Two Turtledoves!

Sheep have always been my favorite animals. There was never any doubt on that score!  My siblings used to try to dissuade me from that stance by pointing out that they were killed and eaten and their wool used for sweaters.  This only served to convince me of the superiority of my favorite. The sheep was useful in every part, it wasn't just an unprofitable pet!
   Now, of course, as I grew older, I learned that not only were they practically useful, but they also hold a great use in not only illustrating Christ and His sacrifice but also in mirroring ourselves! 
  There really is a reason why Isaiah says that "We like sheep have gone astray", and Jeremiah compared Judah to flocks being turned aside on the mountains by false shepherds!   -  Sheep are exceedingly gullible; they will follow practically anyone who knows how to lead them. When left to themselves they will scatter, which is why they must be watched constantly.  Does that remind you of yourself yet?  -  But wait...there's more!   If one sheep starts running around, all the others will follow him, and do exactly what he does. If you were to hold a stick in front of the leader so as to make him leap over it, all the rest would leap when they reached that same spot even if you removed the stick!
  That is how stupid they are - and, by extent so are we!
So today, I want to share with you, two selections from Handel's Messiah, referring to sheep. These also happen to be some of my favorite selections!  -  Many people do not hear these parts all that often because they are not among the 'popular' sections of Messiah; but, I think they are just as beautiful and a reminder to us. That, though right now, we are celebrating the glory of the incarnation, we must not forget that He came so that we might no longer be sheep without a Shepherd and that He might be the perfect lamb to take the sins of the world!
   And just so you know, if you cannot make out the words, they are basically repeating Isaiah 53:4-6:
     "Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows...and by his stripes we are healed...All we like sheep have gone astray."
  These are the last to parts of the entire piece; "Worthy is the Lamb," and "Amen" which are from Revelation 5: 12- 14!
  "saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."  ...  "And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped."  

 Indeed, He is worthy! Let us all give Him our power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing this Christmas season.  Amen, and Amen!

A Partrige in a Pear Tree!

"Christ was not, in all likelihood, born anywhere near December 25th."
   "Christmas was introduced to cover up the pagan holiday of Saturnalia which the Romans celebrated at that time."
        "People get so excited about what they're going to get, it just becomes a time of selfish thoughts and 'me' glorification!"
            
    These and many more are all reasons people give for why Christians shouldn't celebrate Christmas. Having been exposed to a lot of legalism and ungracious Christians in my short life, I have heard many arguments; some reasonable, some strong, some lame and some which are simply absurd!
   I once heard someone, whom I still greatly respect, say that when a child bends down in front of the tree to pick up a present, he is bowing down before the tree and that is a form of idolatry.
  Someone else went still further to suggest that by putting up trees and greenery in and around our houses, we were in sin insomuch as we were reviving the Roman worship of Saturn which involved the decoration of homes with that same colored foliage.  The ideas get so creative that I sometimes wonder what people mean to accomplish by such statements and would rather they just out and say: "I don't celebrate Christmas because I do not think it glorifies Christ!"   Because when all is said and done, this is the ultimate measure by which, I hope, believers decide to celebrate this controversial holiday or not.
    When I think of how much our Lord must have loved us to be willing to come down and live in submission to His own creation and then take our filth on Himself to the extent that His own father would crush Him with pleasure, so that we should receive a gift that we in no measure deserve, then I wonder how we can possibly be so callous as to bicker with our fellow redeemed over whether a holiday which commemorates His incarnation should be celebrated because of its roots and possible connotations!  -   Put it however we may, there is no reason that one cannot celebrate Christmas today in a completely God honoring fashion.  It is easy enough to toss out all the bad parts and leave the good and lovely ones.
    Then I would ask, why not celebrate Christmas?
Some would say that the proper question for believers who love their Lord, would be "Why would we celebrate it?"
    A very good question!
       
       1. It helps you get out of yourself.  
    Many people think that Christmas is a self-centered holiday when everyone is thinking about what he wants except for the frantic parent running around trying to find a gift that his child will like.  I think this is only if  the focus is in the wrong place.  In our family, everyone gets a gift for everyone else, so nobody really has time to add to his wish list, he's to busy thinking about what to get for everyone else! And for children who are naturally more self absorbed this is an excellent exercise, not only in learning to sacrifice oneself,(so that we don't grow up a bunch of miserly Scrooges!) but to think of others, ie. making sure the gift is something the recipient wants not the giver!
      2.  Christmas music is so lovely!
 I had to put that in!
      3. The Christmas tree and all the decorations look, and smell, so lovely!
 Our heavenly Father made all these things, why should we refrain from celebrating the incarnation with them just because the Romans used them to worship Saturn?  -  Though such a custom may have been offensive, in the time of the Roman empire, to Christians. Such is certainly not the case now!
      4. Christmas lights are so beautiful!
This one speaks for itself. Just go for a drive through the city at this most wonderful time of the year; you'll see what I mean!
     5. It is so much fun to give gifts!
If you don't agree with this one, then either you haven't given enough gifts or they've been something the recipients didn't want!
     6. Christmas brightens up Winter when it is so nasty to descend upon you with out any snow!
  White Christmases are nice but you appreciate the holiday so much more when you live in the south and don't get the snow as recompense for  the cold!
     7.  I am certain that The Lord Jesus Himself is pleased when we celebrate Christmas among our families with Love and joy in our hearts towards everyone!

     There!  -  Now, I doubt you can contend with me!

   Finally, anyone who has followed my blog for any significant length of time, knows that this is the first day of my annual "Twelve days of Christmas" series for this year, (even though the titles are going to be a little different this year!) and that I am supposed to share a Christmas song with you all.

   So today I am going to share with you two songs! Just in case you haven't seen the one I posted on Google+ a few days ago, I'll show that one, and just in case you have seen it; I'll post another so you aren't disappointed!

  So here is the first one which is terribly funny!
  And here is another one which I enjoy and consider a very Jolly song - Deck The Halls!
I will do better next time, 
                                                   but for now,
                                                                                 'tis the season to be jolly!

   

Hurrah for The Pumpkin Pie!


Actually, it was Squash! ~ We don't like pumpkin too much around here so we call it a pumpkin pie but substitute Butternut Squash for the pumpkin; most people have never guessed the difference!
  But that is supposed to be a secret, so if you ever come to our place for Thanksgiving, just pretend I never said that!
  I don't know about you all, but for me, Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year! Why?  Because it is the herald of the festive season! It is the porter who opens the door to what I consider, the best time of the year, because it's the time, at least around here, people are thinking about others instead of themselves! How much better can it get to start off the festivities by being thankful for what we have already got?
   Someone posted a very wise question a day or two ago on her blog. (person shall remain unnamed!) I'm pretty sure it was a quote, though I am not certain who said it, and it goes something like this:
  What if you were to wake up one morning possessing only that for which you thanked God yesterday? 

   Rather scary don't you think?
       Of course this got me thinking about all the technical issues of such a plan, such did this include one's body? Or does it just refer to earthly possessions? What if you were just a spirit floating around because I doubt too many of us thank God regularly for a healthy body? What if we didn't thank God for an atmosphere...?
      But that was not the point! (those of us who are too logical often miss points!) The message is, that people are ungrateful as a whole, and most of the things we have that many people don't go assumed and unnoticed. - Actually, studies have shown that the more you have the less thankful you'll be and the poorest people are overflowing with thankfulness for what we would consider a small thing! America is the richest country in the world, and yet it has been shown that they have the shortest list when it comes to things they're thankful for! (I wish we would keep that in mind before we flourish  our mile long Christmas wish lists!)
     
But, I didn't start this post to talk about the depravity of depraved human beings! What I really want to do, is introduce you all to what a typical Thanksgiving is like for the Hellwig family.
  Sometimes we have guests - sometimes we don't - this year...we didn't!
(in all fairness, we did invite several people, but they all had different plans! It reminded me of the parable of the king who's son was getting married and he sent out his servants to bring the invited guests to the feast, but...they all...made...EXCUSES! ~ (I really am not applying this to our would-have-been guests, I understand their reasons!) ~ But what I really wanted to do right then, was finish the parable and go out along the highways and through the hedes and bring in the poor, the blind, and the lame, the alien (not the Si-Fi Kind), the widow, and the orphan! But that wouldn't have been practical, for several reasons, in this year of Our Lord Two-thousand fourteen...so, Ah well! )
   We did have our grandparents over though!

  But, anyway, back to the story!

 
 We decided to do something new this Thanksgiving. We filled a tall vase with sticks, twelve to be precise, and cut out lots of leaves out of construction paper using Arianne's set of leaf cookie cutters, (no easy task I can assure you!) punched holes in them and put them in a basket. Throughout the days before Thanksgiving, we wrote down what we were thankful for and hung them on the branches with green or orange ribbon!
                                                 "Mommy", was by far the most popular!
Next came "Cookies!"  - After all, what can be better? With Mommy and Cookies you have it all!
 Doesn't this look lovely? I love pies; we made four and if we had had more pie pans, I would have made more! As it was, we made one in a tart pan (not pictured here) because we only have three pie pans! - hmm...I'll have to remedy that in time for next year!
Arianne made an Apple Crumb Pie. By accident, she didn't realize that just a little poke while it was hot, would make a large hole in the crumb topping! - But it still tasted very good!
 There was lots of preparation going on!
 Plenty of dishes to wash, even before the festivities began!
 And we even tried to get a fire going, though we didn't have much success because there was a light misting rain falling all day and so instead of fire, we had smoke - Never mind!
 We still had the Autumn colors hanging around though, at least what there is of them down here, and it was quite peaceful and quiet outdoors!
                                     I spent a good portion of my afternoon folding our napkins...
                                                       setting the table...
              Writing out place cards, and things of that sort! (I wrote a silly rhyme for each person on the back of each of the cards, but I've no intention of showing you those!)
This is a very bad picture of how the table looked once it was set and ready for the food, but it really doesn't do it justice; you had to have seen it, it was simply grand! (At least I flatter my self that it was so!)
 By that time, Meme and Pepe had been transported, and I had to rush and whip the cream for dessert, as I had no intention of doing it between Dinner and Dessert! I'm wearing a no good apron, as both of mine happened to be in the Laundry! (That was slightly exasperating at the time...but this one worked!)
Don't you think whipped cream, whipped with Maple syrup like we do it, is almost the best thing in the world? It's certainly better than Ice-cream! (though I could get into seriously hot water with a statement like that!)
This was the brussel-sprout and bacon dish which mommy made, it was so good!
  Unfortunately my photographer did not get pictures of all the food so don't assume that everything you see is all we had!
 There was Brie; I hate it but everyone else loves it; so, behold, it is there!
 And this is the most popular dish on the table; if you ever have it you will become addicted to it too! It's........CRANBERRY ORANGE RELISH! - 'So', you ask, 'what's the big deal?' First, don't talk until you've tried, and if you want to say you've tried it, let me tell you right now, that there is hardly a thread of a chance that you have ever tasted our relish recipe in your life - Want to prove me wrong? Give me your relish recipe and I can almost bet ten to one that it won't match, even closely, to ours! - I'm not joking! :)
Here is how the table looked before we brought in the Turkey! (Once again, the picture does not do it justice!) You can see the crock of stuffing over on the left, and the buttered carrots on the right, but they were both covered and my camera man(who shall remain nameless) didn't think to lift the covers and capture the delicious contents so you have to take my word for it! (I'm pretty sure you haven't tasted any carrot dish so good as ours either!)
 'Here comes the bride turkey! All basted and brown!' Doesn't it look so picture perfect?
Here is the best picture we have of the table! - If you're wondering what's in the white pitcher, I will tell you; that, my friends, is the gravy! (There you have it even if you had no intention whatsoever of wondering!)
  And so we ate and drank and were merry for..........it was Thanksgiving day!
 This is how we looked towards the conclusion of the meal! Tobias made a piggy of himself with relish, and then, after proclaiming loudly, to all ears present, how stuffed he was, helped himself to more!

It was so nice to have everyone there and every gap around the table filled! I was disappointed that Sir Camera did not get picures of my Grandparents or any one on the other side of the table, but he tried; I shall be sure to instruct him better next time!
Then we (that is Elliot Jedidiah, Mommy and I) banished everyone to the living room, while we cleared the table and set it again for dessert! (You cant get enough pictures of whipped cream; I'm addicted to that delectable delicacy!)
 
 After we set the table, Timothy and I turned on some music and danced a waltz, then the cha-cha,(benefits of taking dance lessons!) and even mommy and daddy got inspired and danced too! (No pictures of that either! - I'm really glad I have what I do though!) Then everyone else got inspired and we lined them up and taught them the Virginia reel - That was fun! 

   After we had gotten our exercise, we descended onto the dining room to devour dessert!
 This is how the table looked after we had we set it!
     The pies you have already seen. It is time I introduce you to the rest of our spread!
First meet the chocolate pecan pie! (the one that was mention as 'not pictured', above, which we made in a tart pan!) It was very good and I liked it in spite of the fact that I dislike that popular substance called chocolate!
 Next make low obeisance to the crowning jewel of all Hellwig family feasts. The Baklava! (made with a secret ingredient, no less!)
 Give a polite greeting to Elliot's contribution to the menagerie! ~Sweet Potato Cookies! ~ nice and Autumny to go with the occasion! ~ They were very good!

   After Dessert, Mommy left to bring Meme and Pepe back to their place, and while the boys looked on Timothy and I danced the east coast swing
                                           Alright, we got one, blurry, picture! - Not so bad!

Then we watched a Charlie-Brown Thanksgiving when Mommy came home and after the boys had gone to bed we watched a grown-up movie with the grown-ups who were yet conscious after all the eating and dancing!
 Next Day, we promptly went out and bought ourselves a Christmas tree and said goodbye to Thanksgiving for 2014 A.D. 

But it was good in spite of it just being family, and I was glad it had turned out the way it did even if it didn't happen as I had wished!

   Maybe next year we'll have piles of people crammed into our little house. Maybe next time it will be sunny and we'll go out and play croquet. Perhaps we'll sing together in glorious harmony!

  But we only have now what our Good Lord has given us, so let us indeed rejoice and be glad in it!  We might not be here next year, maybe some will be gone. But we were here this year, every single one of us, and I'm so very glad for that!

I leave you now with a parting hymn:
I hope you all had as joyful a Thanksgiving day as I did!

  But I most earnestly hope that the contentment which Thankfulness brings is even now springing out of you like a foaming torrent that will not be stopped!




Alpha & Omega - My time at the National Bible Bee


So here was the main hindrance to my writing more! - I was studying for this! - If any of you are wondering how I did; I didn't make it past the preliminarys. But my prayer before I went was simply that through my recitation or through my conversations there, I could impact at least one person for the glory of God.
  I give Him the glory that I feel this was accomplished!
I am naturally extremely self conscious and my greatest fear was that though normally passionate while reciting, I would lose my composure once on stage in front of those eight or ten families and contestants and either forget all my passages or recite in a scared monotone.  How can one bring glory to God with a heart full of fear? - I spent much time in prayer over this issue, praying that through whatever means the Lord would be glorified through me! He is indeed a good father!
  "Would the next contestant please come to the microphone!"  It was my turn, my heart sped up slightly and my stomach started to feel like it was on a merry-go-round. I stood up, walked to the steps leading up to the platform. 1 step - "Lord have mercy on me!"  2 steps, "hear my prayer O Lord my God!" my beating heart began to subside, step 3, "May Thy name O Lord be glorified!"  I reached the platform and stared out over that small yet unfamiliar group of faces. And my fear was gone! - I was perfectly at home up there!  They gave me my first verse reference, John 7:12, and I remembered it!
  After my recitation was over, several people who were in the room told both me and my mother that they were blessed by my recitation. A gentleman thanked me for sharing the word of God with them all! And mommy said someone told her that he could tell I loved the Lord! - What a blessing! God took away my fear at just the right time and I feel that He also killed a good portion of my fear at that time, never to bother me again! - Praise the Lord, great things He has done!
  As we were walking back to our room, mommy said that she thought that I didn't need to get into the semi-finals because I had already accomplished my purpose! - I agreed, a little halfheartedly at the time because I so wanted to get into the semi-finals, but when I didn't, the Lord gave me peace in knowing that I had still touched hearts and blessed more than one person!
 This was my first year to try and apparently to get into nationals on one's first try is not usual, so I  really am happy! This is also my last year - so I tried to savor every bit, knowing that I would never return as a contestant again! (this is why I titled this post the way I did, if you hadn't guessed that already!)
  
This picture shows me, trying to look composed, waiting for them to divide us up to go to our reciting rooms!
   The trip there and back went off with out a hitch and I know that was one of mommy's biggest concerns!
Several blessings also paved our way throughout the weekend! When we were in the registration lines, we reached one table where, to my great surprise, a smiling lady handed me a large gift bag out of which peeped royal blue tissue-paper and told me! "Happy Birthday!"  I was so surprised I felt my knees knocking! My birthday was on Friday, the thirty-first, and they had put together a gift for all the contestants whose birthdays fell on one of the competition days! - I felt incredibly honored, to think with all the work to organize such a huge event, they had taken the the time to recognize our birthdays!!!
   Blessing number two; the hotel, being such a big and expensive one, had several restaurants in it! For the most part we ate at the cheaper ones, but on Friday night, Mommy took me out to Benihana, a Japanese restaurant where the cook the food right in front of you on a large grill built into the table. Are table was shared by a sweet elderly couple who were attending the bible bee as vendors and we had such a sweet talk with them. When finished, they offered, out of the goodness of their hearts, to pay for our meal! - I felt so loved, I could hardly believe my ears! What a good God we serve who unites all of us together with such kindness and Love!
   And finally, providence number three, (they seem to come in threes don't they?) On Saturday night, we forgot to buy tickets for the family dinner and the booth where we could have gotten them was closed, in desperation we went to the ushers at the door of the dinner room to see if maybe they had any spares that we could purchase; what was our surprise to find that somebody had bought tickets and then, not needing them, had given them to the doorkeepers to just give to anyone who wanted them! - how can we cease blessing the Lord for His providence for His children!
Above is a group of friends from a bible memorization website with whom I had the blessing of studying for the National and Local contest, remotely of course, but it was good to meet them all in real life!
I also had the blessing of meeting a sweet young lady with whom I had been chatting back and forth about the Bee and we had been encouraging each other to keep on going when the memorizing was tough!
She and I sat up in the front row, watching the final challenge rounds! (I know I told someone not to long ago, that sitting up in the front row was not my sort of thing, but I've changed a bit since then!)
Another thing, several of us foolish young folks did, was to sit until nearly midnight a couple of nights, playing Dutch blitz! - That was fun, even though I paid for it in the morning! But adrenalin kept me up the whole trip through! After all, one doesn't get to do such things very often at all!
 We ate a lovely dessert on Saturday night at the closing cermony and I was very touched as they handed out some other awards and was greatly inspired by the story of Shelby Kenedy the inspiration for the Bee.

We sang together at the end  and my heart was indeed thrilled to the core by it all, How can such a holy God come to dwell with us defiled sinners? I asked myself several times, And yet how glad I am that He did, for this is what results, when He does. This tying of hearts, this love, this joy and comradery - this is what the Spirit of God can do for us wretched beings!

   Of course a good trip is never complete without a good set of embarrassments!
I had two. (though perhaps there were more which I didn't notice, being a rather shameless individual) these embarrassments were enough to bring a good bit of color even to my face!

  Awkward moment number one: People say my voice is loud and carries far, though it doesn't seem that way to me! We were downstairs reviewing verses and I was reciting in what I consider a normal tone of voice, and all was well, I wasn't abashed at all, though there were people walking all around, since I wasn't the center of attention, and I spoke with my normal gesticulations and inflections. Then, I hit a mistake and, being relaxed, reacted with my normal response! "OoooH!" spoken in a descending scale and rather loud! It was too late before I realized my situation! A mother and her son were walking by holding hands and an older gentleman with a kindly face. They laughed and the gentleman winked and I was thoroughly embarrassed! However, it did create an understanding between me and him, for ever after, when we came across eachother, he would grin and wink and I had to grin sheepishly back!
  Awkward moment number two: Our church has a Fall Festival which they celebrate annually at a family's farm (whose last name happens to be Forney! ;)  And it was scheduled for Saturday, November 1st, one of the days we would be gone! I was disappointed that I would have to miss it, but Oh well, I had, by Saturday morning quite forgotten that it would be occurring that evening. Mommy and I were eating breakfast in a cheerful little diner with sparkling glass table tops, mounted on a single mettle stand.  "Did I tell you," she began casually, "That the festival has been postponed until tomorrow night because of inclement weather? That means we'll be able to go." We would be arriving home on Sunday afternoon. "No, I didn't know that!" I exclaimed, with glee, "YESS!" in my excitement I slammed my fist into the table top, causing the the glass table and the ceramic dishes to rattle with a very loud, CRASH! No, nothing broke, but nearly every person in the room raised his head to stare at me, a family across the way started chuckling and I wished my chair and its contents would descend to the roots of the mountains! - Even mommy was laughing! - Well, oh, well! ; )

   On Saturday night, I square danced with the others until after midnight regardless of the fact that I would have to get up before five on that morning to leave for the air port! ~ I managed! And don't regret I did it, being that I don't get many opportunities in my area to dance very often and this was a once in a blue moon occasion!
   On Friday night, (I know I'm going backwards but why not?) we had the opportunity to watch a christian juggler perform his tricks! I was laughing till my sides ached at his jokes, and thoroughly awed by his tricks! Then, we got to hear, a male vocal ensemble sing, whom I had never heard before and they brought tears into my eyes with their beautiful singing and love for the Lord! This post would not be complete with out one of their songs. - Best of all, they sang a-capella!

 I will never forget this time! Though most of those people will probably never read this post, I want to say thank you to everyone who made this event possible! - I want to Thank all the people there who sharpened and encouraged me! - I want to thank my local host Mrs. Twila Blevins for all the love and hard work she put into our group! - I want to thank my mother for all the time and effort she spent with me, quizzing me constantly on my verses. - Most importantly, I want to thank my God and Father in heaven, who has done this great work in all of our hearts! ~ Who has performed and accomplished it...The Lord of Hosts is His name!

  It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    2 Thessalonians 2:14

He Keeps Me Singing...

As the first day of fall steals upon me seemingly out of nowhere, I wonder why, for the first time, it has done so! - But only for a second; I know very well why!
  Usually I am anticipating this, my favorite season. Counting the months, weeks and days for the heavy and humid heat of Summer to dissipate into the cold air and sharp biting wind of Fall and Winter. Having never had much tolerance for the heat, the Fall has never been able to sneak up on me...until now!
  I don't want to go into any long expostulations over why this is so and why you will probably not see another blog post until sometime in November; so I thought I just write a list and that list will proclaim my excuses with more eloquence than I am capable of putting forth at this time!

  So here is what has been, is, and will be monopolizing my time...
  •      Teaching a children's choir (I've never done anything close to something like this, but there's nothing like jumping off the deep end to teach you to swim...right?)
  •      The National Bible Bee - I haven't done this before either. I never even did the Bible Bee until this year, knowing it to be my last to compete, I decided to "just try it", and, I thought, little chance of my getting into Nationals!  - Right? - Well I did, so...Two-Hundred Passages memorized word perfect and the book of Nahum to study are dipping heavily into the day's all too meager twenty-four hours!
  •      Dance Classes! (I really just couldn't put this off for another year, could I? ;)
  •     Art Class - Mommy signed me up, I couldn't help it! (of course we won't consider the probable fact that if I had heard of it first I would have signed myself up! - Such trite facts cannot be figured into this equation!:)
  •     Chemistry! - I hate it! but of course there is constantly the question, do I hate glasses more?      (If you don't know what that means, it's code for: if I get to a certain place in Chemistry ere the month of September reaches its expiration date, I get contact lenses!)
  •  Dinner preparation, encouraging others, being a good sister to my brothers, Violin, Piano and of course nothing would be the same without Song - Does it thrill you to sing the way it does me? 
So now do you understand why I can't do a blessed thing besides all the things I listed? (why I'm writing this blog post would be a suitable  question for the time being! :)  Actually I've been writing this post slowly and started about a week before today!

  Though I am very busy, and often so far, during the long haul of memorizing and studying, I have gotten discouraged as I see all the work I have to do. Still I can feel the Lord sustaining me from day to day and I know I would be nowhere with out His power sustaining me! He has kept me singing even when I feel overwhelmed! ~ To Him be the Glory!


Before I leave you, we must have some music!
  I don't know about the current list of  favorite Violinists and Cellists out there (is there even one?) but by far, my favorites above all others are, Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma!  My Uncle and the Latter went to school together, so I've known about him for a good long time. (No, I've never so much as attended one of his concerts, though I'd love to someday!) Perlman, I first was introduced to a little under six months ago (before then I didn't have a favorite Violinist!) when I was looking up the theme to Schindler's List (I'd never heard of that before either!) and instantly he took the place of "favored Violinist" in my hall of Favorites! :)
    So, all that to say, you can imagine my delight to find both my favorite musicians performing together one of my favorite pieces, Anton Dvorak's "Humoresque" !
  What could possibly be better?
        I love their faces while playing this piece, but don't forget to really listen to the music - it is so lovely, it made me cry when they got to the part where it changes key...you just have to hear it; there is nothing like listening to great musicians playing a beautiful composition. I think it gives us a little glimpse of what heaven will be like...it stirs my soul from the very bottom in a way that I cannot describe and makes me feel that all is not quite lost for this poor blighted world of  ours!

    So if you are ever carried away by music, be prepared to be so again!
May the Great Conductor of the most magnificent orchestra ever assembled, thrill your soul this fall as He leads you and all fellow musicians on to play the most beautiful piece of music ever composed!

 
   Until I Write Again...
      ~Christianna