Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pumpkin Spice Latte

I found a fantastic recipe for a Pumpkin Spice Latte.  It tastes very similar to Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 cup half and half (I used 2% milk)
3 tbsp canned pumpkin (I used fresh pumpkin)
1/2 cup strong brewed hot coffee
3 tbsp sugar
pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg - to taste

Combine creamer and pumpkin in saucepan at meadium heat and stir constantly until boiling (but not burnt).  Remove mixture and pour into a blender.  Whip in high speed for 20 seconds.  Pour mixture in a large cup, add coffee, stir in sugar and spices.  Serves 1. Enjoy!

We cancelled our cable this month, so last night we sat down as a family to watch Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer on JA's laptop.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

From the Legend to the Lord

What an exciting character is Santa Claus! This mystical man becomes so real and vivid to children. Most of us recall those early memories of how we longed for his arrival. Santa is depicted as a colorful figure, given every quality needed to make children happy. We recall how:

- He was really a stranger; yet he was so approachable.

- He was mysteriously different; but we knew we could trust him.

- He had elves working to please him; but his goal was to please us.

- He had such marvelous abilities; but he never abused his power.

- He lived way up north; but he planned his days thinking about us.

- He traveled the world's skies; but he would never miss our house!

- He was our family friend; but we were glad to share him with others.

Did you ever cry when someone told you that Santa Claus wasn't real? Deep down, perhaps the credibility of your parents took some hits that day. Following such disturbing news, struggles follow between that zone of truth and fiction. Maybe you find it hard to trust people. But please don't let doubts complicate reality as we move from the mythical man to the Mighty God. In a wonderful way, we turn from the legend to the Lord! There is One who has each of good qualities that was interwoven into Santa Claus. Friend, with Jesus Christ as your hero, the satisfaction we enjoyed trusting Santa just gets better than ever! Look briefly at the qualities of Old Saint Nick as we compare the excellence of the Savior of the World!

The Legend - Santa is GOOD! Is anyone as good as Santa Claus? Think how every good and perfect gift comes from him at Christmas time. He goes unchallenged to be the supreme giver of good things.The Lord - Jesus is GOOD! God gives "every good gift and every perfect gift" (Jam. 1:17). The Psalmist declared, "the LORD is good" (Ps. 34:8). The Lord Jesus Christ is "the good shepherd" (John 10:11).

The Legend - Santa is ETERNAL! Generations come and go but you see Santa grows no older. None of us have been around as long as Santa Claus. His white hair and weather-beaten face seem to be the very picture of eternity. He's remains the same as his life never ends.The Lord - Jesus is ETERNAL! Specifying the forever past, we see "from everlasting to everlasting, thou are God" (Psalm 90:2). Likewise, the Christ-child born in Bethlehem is "from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).

The Legend - Santa is ALMIGHTY (omnipotent)! Santa Claus is pretty powerful! No storm can stop him from his yearly miracle as he delivers tons of gifts throughout the world. He totally defies nature, flying across the skies and going down the smallest, hottest chimneys. Nothing is too hard and nothing is impossible to the one who visits the millions of homes on Christmas Eve.The Lord - Jesus is ALMIGHTY! See the power of God. "There is nothing too hard for thee" (Jer. 32:17). "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (Rev. 19:6)! Think about how much power is "all power"? Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Mat. 28:18). He says, "with God all things are possible" (Mat. 19:25-26).

The Legend - Santa is ALL-KNOWING (omniscient)! "He knows if you've been good or bad." He even knows what the children want for Christmas, even when they don't ask him in person.The Lord - Jesus is ALL-KNOWING! "God...knoweth all things!" (1 John 3:20). The disciples, then again Simon Peter responded to Jesus, "Thou knowest all things" (John 16:30; 21:17).

The Legend - Santa is EVERYWHERE (omnipresent)! Santa Claus appears at hundreds of shopping centers at the same time! Santa would have to go and be everywhere to visit all the homes in the world in one evening. Children wake up across the face of the earth to say, "Santa was here!"The Lord - Jesus is EVERYWHERE! "If I ascend up to heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there" (Ps. 139:7-10). The resurrected Jesus promises His omnipresent Spirit to His witnesses in all nations, saying, "I am with you" (Mat. 28:28-20).

The Legend - Santa is FAITHFUL! Children believe Santa to be totally dependable and faithful! He never fails or breaks his word. So they are fully persuaded that what Santa promises, he will perform.The Lord - Jesus is FAITHFUL! "The LORD be a true and faithful witness between us" (Jer. 42:5). The LORD (Jehovah) is identified as the Lord Jesus Christ, "Faithful and True" (Rev. 19:11). "He is God, the faithful God" (Deut. 7:9).

The Legend - Santa is UNCHANGING (immutable)! In a changing world, Santa never seems to change! You can count on Santa to be Santa; always happy, jolly, and kind to children. Yesterday, today, and forever Santa Claus is the same.The Lord - Jesus is UNCHANGING! "I change not" (Mal. 3:6). "God is not a man, that he should lie" (Num. 23:19) "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" (Heb. 13:8).

The Legend - Santa is LOVE! Santa loves all of the boys and girls in the world -- red, brown, yellow, black and white without partiality.The Lord - Jesus is LOVE! God made all people "one blood" (Acts 17:26). "God is love" (1 John 4:7-10). Jesus died for our sin because He loves us (Romans 5:8). Nothing can "separate us from the love of God" (Rom. 8:35-38). "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

The Legend - Santa is RIGHTEOUS! Santa, as a moral judge makes no mistakes! Every stocking contains just the appropriate gifts.The Lord - Jesus is RIGHTEOUS! The Lord is "the righteous judge" (2 Tim. 4:8). "God is judge himself" (Ps. 50:6). But still it is God the Son who accomplishes "all judgment" (John 5:22).

The Legend - Santa is SOVEREIGN! On Christmas Eve, Santa as if he is a King is uniquely in complete control. Nothing can stop him. The Lord - Jesus is SOVEREIGN! God works "all things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph. 1:11). Jesus Christ is coming as the "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS" (Rev. 19:16).

The Legend - Santa is COMING! You'd better watch out and you'd better not cry! Children want to be ready because Santa Claus is coming to town! Hundreds of thousands of towns and hundreds of millions of people wait with expectancy for the glorious return of Santa Claus. Their wish is, even so, come! This becomes their blessed hope!The Lord - Jesus is COMING! "The Lord...which is to come, the Almighty" (Rev. 1:8). "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20). "When he shall appear, we (Christians) shall be like Him" (1 John 3:2).

The Legend - Santa is WORSHIPED! He is revered by children all over the world as they seek to please him. Their little trusting hearts seem to be saying, "O come let us adore him!"The Lord - Jesus is WORSHIPED! "O come, let us worship...kneel before the LORD (God) our maker" (Ps. 95:6). "And they came and held him (Jesus) by the feet, and worshipped him" (Mat. 28:9).

The Legend - Santa receives GLORY! Clearly when the story of Santa Claus was made up, he was given the very best of all qualities as the characteristics of God. It seems as though he was made a deity.The Lord - Jesus receives GLORY! Only God is to be praised. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). "My glory will I not give to another" (Isaiah 42:8). But Jesus Christ receives glory as "the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified." Jesus has always had God's glory: "O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5). "To him be glory both now and for ever" (2 Pet. 3:18). All praises to God!

All who believed in a Santa Claus need never be disappointed, not if we transfer our trust to Jesus Christ. As Judge, He knows how bad we've been, yet He offers us the "forgiveness of sins" by His blood (Eph. 1:7). We can trust nothing else but turn to God from idols (1 Thes. 1:9). The best "gift" is "eternal life" (Rom. 6:23) - yours by trusting Jesus Christ!

- He may be a stranger to you; but He is approachable while inviting, "Come unto me" (Mat. 11:28).

- He as the God-Man, is mysterious (1 Tim. 3:16); but you can totally trust in Him. "God...cannot lie" (Titus 1:2).

- He was served by angels in Heaven; but He came to be a servant.

- He could have called 10,000 angels; but He chose to die for you.

- He lives up in Heaven; but He never forgets us (Luke 12:6-7).

- He is on the horizon (Is. 40:22); but He comes to us (Mat. 18:20).

- He is my dearest Friend (John 15:13), and we love to share Him.

The qualities of Santa Claus are wonderfully surpassed by the One who wants to be your Savior from sin and from outer darkness. Jesus Christ satisfies, He is real and He cares! The Babe of Bethlehem is the very Lord who died for you. Why not receive God's greatest gift today by telling Jesus Christ that you believe in Him alone to gain the Celestial Heaven! Why not make this day the very best in your whole life?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Violin Recital

Last Monday was Kara's third violin recital. I am so proud of how hard Kara has worked this past semester. We went from last year practicing maybe 2-3 times a week for 15 minutes if we were lucky, to practicing 5-7 days a week for 20-30 minutes. Kara has even quit complaining about having to practice. She gets excited about playing her violin.

For her recital she wanted me to curl her hair, so I attempted to curl it, but unfortunately the curlers did not take -- we'll have to work on that. She looked beautiful for her recital.

At the end, Miss Abigayle presented Kara with a medal for getting in all of her practice time (we did have to make up three days of practice that we neglected over Thanksgiving).

Kara played "Lightly Row" and "Jingle Bells"
Here are all of the students Miss Abigayle taught this semester. Kara is one of three violin students, and the rest of her students are piano. We have one more semester with Miss Abigayle before she leaves for college. We are certainly going to miss her next year.

This video is different from the videos on facebook -- This is Jingle Bells.

Align Center

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Vacatin Pictures

Okay, we are back from vacation now. We had a wonderful time traveling to Florida, Virginia, Kentucky, and home again. I have many stories to tell, but will confine myself to saying we had a fantastic time.

Right now, I will only give you the pictures of our vacation taken from the vantage point of our eldest child and her budding photography skills. To see the pictures Kara took of our vacation, click on the links below. Each link will take you to a separate album of pictures she took. She took a lot (and this is after I deleted about half of them).

Album 1

Album 2

Album 3

Enjoy her photos.