PS: Don't forget to vote for Ms. Gracie Cakes photos in the Christmas Moments & Scared of Santa contests. Those with all their Christmas shopping finished can vote every day. :o)
|Make a scrapbook!|
|Make a scrapbook!|
These are the days of Grace~~ Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude. By Denis Waitley
|Make a scrapbook!|
|Make a scrapbook!|
I've entered Gracie's 1st visit with Santa picture in the Very Merry Christmas...Santa gone wrong contest. Check it out & vote for little Grace.
Sweet as pink sugar frosting, Grace said last night getting ready for bed, "Mama, I love you. I'm never gonna let you go. Don't ever let me go, Mama."
|Make a slide show, scrapbook, or ecard|
|Let's just say we've made some discoveries the last few days. A couple of weeks ago, crazy us braved the weather, the train and the crowds to particpate in that silly world record breaking Christmas caroling group. Yes, we did & had fun doing it! Here we are singing with 12,000+ other voices. Directly in front of the WLS booth, if you look reallllllly close, maybe you can see us! Yes, that's us right beside fellow CLCers Stacy & Caitlyn. Fancy seeing someone we know rightwhere we landed the stroller. Oh what fun....|
Anyway, so we made history with that big sing along. THEN finally, the Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights began with none other than Mickey Mouse himself leading the parade. Minnie Mouse came along later. Thankfully, Grace caught a glimpse of a few princess-ish ladies. No matter it was not Cinderella or Belle as she hoped. The no show was Tigger. Interestingly, he was also absent at the Winnie the Pooh & Friends production earlier in the day. If you recall, that bouncy guy was no where around at the zoo with the other Pooh friends. I digress.... Rounding out the evening downtown, Santa Claus rode in on his sleigh accompanied by a blizzard of paper snow. Delight-FULL!
Now we've discovered Christmas parades and Santa. We are sure we like decorating gingerbread houses and singing Jingle Bells with a frenzy of other people. Forward to Thanksgiving Day and the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. THAT is a parade! Gracie just so happened in the room when Island Princess made her debut; singing, swirling & twirling, capturing my Gracie's heart. Now we've discovered Barbie & just how lovely she is with her blue gown and feathers behind her head. Couple this wide eyed princess wonder with a cousin who has a Christmas wish list....viola! Now we've got a letter to Santa with wishes of our own.
Over the last few weeks, we've happily watched the scary lawn ornaments turn festive with Christmas cheer...snowmen & Santa, to the messiah in the manger. Gracie wants to decorate for Christmas. She wants to have a Christmas tree. In efforts to appease the little miss without totally losing my senses after driving 6 hours in the rain from St Louis back to Chi-town, I pull out her little baby tree. Moments later, she's adorning her little EVERgreen with unbreakable pretties; ever so carefully placing this one & that in her cozy "teddy bear" jammies, as papa called them. She's happy now...but not for long. Come tomorrow evening, we will put up our big tree, twinkle lights and all.
I'm happy to have one so delighted in helping me adorn the tree with memories from here to China; from pewter Edelweiss to blown glass from Lake Como to Baby's 1st Christmas rocking horse. It's the most wonderful time of the year indeed! Hope you enjoyed this Smilebox of Christmas discoveries & firsts for the growing up Grace.
Gracie had special visitors at preschool yesterday for Grandparent's Day. My long time, but certainly not old, pastors, Jerry & Chris McQuay, accompanied her to this special celebration of folks we love. It was really special to have them there given my family lives so far away. No doubt Gracie was delighted to have the undivided attention of not one, but two play partners...she told stories all the way home about pink cupcakes, birthday parties and building barns with legos...who was who while playing house and who did what. She's all into role play, "Now, I'm the mom/princess/teacherl, etc and you're the....daughter, dog, doctor, etc." I think Grace enjoyed most being chased around by Papa Jerry and she said she hopes they come again tomorrow. Sweet!
The great duty of children is, to obey their parents. That obedience
includes inward reverence, as well as outward acts, and in every age prosperity
has attended those distinguished for obedience to parents.
The duty of parents:
Be not impatient; use no unreasonable severities. Deal prudently and wisely with
children; convince their judgements and work upon their reason. Bring them up
well; under proper and compassionate correction; and in the knowledge of the
duty God requires.
Often is this duty neglected, even among professors of the gospel. Many
set their children against religion; but this does not excuse the children's
disobedience, though it may be awfully occasion it. God alone can change the
heart, yet he gives his blessing to the good lessons and examples of parents,
and answers their prayers. But those, whose chief anxiety is that their children
should be rich and accomplished, whatever becomes of their souls, must not look for the blessing of God. (Eph 6:5-9)
Then he said, "This is God's Message to Zerubbabel: 'You can't force these things. They only come about through my Spirit,' says God-of-the-Angel-Armies. 'So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you're nothing but a molehill. He'll proceed to set the Cornerstone in place, accompanied by cheers: Grace! Grace! or Yes! Yes! Do it!'"
8-10 After that, the Word of God came to me: "Zerubbabel started rebuilding this Temple and he will complete it. That will be your confirmation that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me to you. Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings? They'll change their tune when they see Zerubbabel setting the last stone in place!"
Blessed God, You have drawn me to Yourself and have sheltered my life in the impenetrable stronghold of Your grace. Forgive me for drifting back into trusting in my works or abilities. Lord, I believe in Your grace! I shout "Grace, grace!" to the mountains that stand before me! In Jesus' name!Plansee - one of my most favorite spots for a daytrip while living in Germany...a little lake surrounded by majestic mountains~
Jeremiah 29:11-14 The Message (MSG)
10-11 This is God's Word on the subject: "As soon as Babylon's seventy years are up and not a day before, I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. 12"When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. 13-14"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree. "I'll turn things around for you. I'll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you"—God's Decree—"bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.
11 Denn ich kenne ja die Gedanken, die ich über euch denke, spricht der HERR, Gedanken des Friedens und nicht zum Unheil, um euch Zukunft und Hoffnung zu gewähren.
12 Ruft ihr mich an, geht ihr hin und betet zu mir, dann werde ich auf euch hören.
13 Und sucht ihr mich, so werdet ihr [mich] finden, ja, fragt ihr mit eurem ganzen Herzen nach mir,
14 so werde ich mich von euch finden lassen, spricht der HERR. Und ich werde euer Geschick wenden und euch sammeln aus allen Nationen und aus allen Orten, wohin ich euch vertrieben habe, spricht der HERR. Und ich werde euch an den Ort zurückbringen, von dem ich euch gefangen weggeführt habe.
"God's forgiveness is unconditional; it comes from a heart that does not demand anything for itself, a heart that is completely empty of self-seeking." ~ H. Nouwen
"Sons and daughters of the Father are called to a higher law, in order to resemble the forgiving Father....only the experience of being forgiven makes it possible for us to forgive....grace alone melts ungrace.....in the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith... I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am...though wrong does not disappear when I forgive, it loses its grip on me and is taken over by God, who knows what to do." ~ P. Yancey
Extending grace to one another is believing in His sovereignty which is big enough to cover all our sins.
"The Lord! the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth!" Ex 34:6
We need to all spend less time scrutinizing one another, and look toward Him.
|Make a slide show, scrapbook or ecard|
We had a delightful time dressing up for all the fall festivities. So many parties! So many costumes. The girl loves to dress up~ None of which was the horse costume we purchased this year. After trying on the step-in, strap-on horse, Grace quipped "My feet are supposed to go in the stirrups, but they are way up here. This isn't right." And there you go...don't horse around when it comes to the girl's equine interests. So, she picked the pumpkin from last year for the zoo and Deutsche Kindergarten party and Belle from her play closet for her ballet class debut & fall parties on halloween night. What fun!
AND...Grace's Pumpkin patch pics were featured as the Smilebox of the Week. Yeah!! Sweetness to share~ PS: my dear friend, Melanie, is having heart surgery today, replacing a valve. Please lift Mel up in your prayers today. Thanks so much!
Hey...an update with good news & singing God's praises!
My dad called last night reporting that Nicki opened his eyes, trying to speak & moving all around as if he had just woke up from a nap instead of 3 weeks. When asked if he wanted a kiss from his mom, he puckered right up. We know he is cognitively in good shape considering the news earlier this week.
I just can't express my gratitude to those of you who have prayed, messaged, called, consoled, emailed, believed and been there through this. Heartfelt thanks from me & my family. I fully embrace the scriptures where two or three agree as well as my favorite, two are better than one.
Blessings to you & yours tonight. I'm sleeping better tonight for sure!
2 Sa 23:20Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab's best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.
Parked in our driveway, enjoying the peace accompanying a sleeping child, I was weeping & praying for the families of recently martyred Christians in Turkey. 3 year old Grace, still buckled in her safety seat, woke up and quickly asked, "Why are you crying, Mommy." I simply told her I was praying for other people who were hurting and asking God to hold them...to heal them. Tenderly, Grace began to pray, asking Jesus to hold and heal.
What a moment for this mission's hearted mom.Even before her birth, I prayed for my daughter to have a heart for the harvest. If you are like, me you want God's very best for your child...every gift cultivated, wisdom in situations, protection and so much more. I've found a great tool to help me pray effectively for my daughter.
A praying parent himself, Bob Hostetler developed a parent's prayer program assists us in covering all the bases when it comes to covering our children in prayer. 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Kids pairs a character trait or fruit of the spirit with a scripture for every day of the month.Per Mr. Hostetler, feel free to duplicate it -- or improve upon it -- to help you pray specifically and purposefully for your children to experience and evidence:
"Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory," (Isaiah 45:8, 2 Timothy 2:10).
2 Growth in grace
"I pray that they may 'grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,' " (2 Peter 3:18).
"Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to 'live a life of love,' through the Spirit who dwells in them," (Ephesians 5:2, Galatians 5:22).
4 Honesty and integrity
"May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection," (Psalm 25:21, NLT).
"Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be 'alert and self-controlled' in all they do," (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
"God, help my children to love justice as you do and to 'act justly' in all they do," (Psalm 11:7, Micah 6:8).
"May my children always 'be merciful, as [their] Father is merciful,' " (Luke 6:36).
9 Respect (for self, others, authority)
"Father, grant that my children may 'show proper respect to everyone,' as your Word commands," (1 Peter 2:17a).
10 Strong, biblical self-esteem
"Help my children develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are 'God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus,' " (Ephesians 2:10).
" 'Let love and faithfulness never leave [my children],' but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts," (Proverbs 3:3).
"May my children always 'Be strong and courageous' in their character and in their actions," (Deuteronomy 31:6).
" 'Create in [them] a pure heart, O God,' and let their purity of heart be shown in their actions," (Psalms 51:10).
"Lord, may my children 'always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else,' " (1 Thessalonians 5:15).
"Grant that my children may 'be generous and willing to share [and so] lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age,' " (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
16 Peace, peaceability
"Father, let my children 'make every effort to do what leads to peace,' " (Romans 14:19).
"May my children be filled 'with the joy given by the Holy Spirit,' " (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
"Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to 'run with perseverance the race marked out for [them],' " (Hebrews 12:1).
"God, please cultivate in my children the ability to 'show true humility toward all,' " (Titus 3:2).
"Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion," (Colossians 3:12).
"Grant that my children may learn responsibility, 'for each one should carry his own load,'" (Galatians 6:5).
"Father, teach my children 'the secret of being content in any and every situation. …through him who gives [them] strength,' " (Philippians 4:12-13).
"I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children's hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them," (Luke 17:5-6, Hebrews 11:1-40).
24 A servant heart
"God, please help my children develop servant hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, 'as to the Lord, and not to men,' " (Ephesians 6:7, KJV).
"May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit," (Romans 15:13).
26 The willingness and ability to work hard
"Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work hard at everything they do, 'as working for the Lord, not for men,' " (Colossians 3:23).
27 A passion for God
"Lord, please instill in my children a soul that 'followeth hard after thee,' a heart that clings passionately to you," (Psalm 63:8, KJV).
"Father, I pray that my children may develop self-discipline, that they may acquire 'a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair,' " (Proverbs 1:3).
"Grant, Lord, that my children's lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to 'pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests," (Ephesians 6:18).
"Help my children to live lives that are always 'overflowing with thankfulness,' 'always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,' " (Colossians 2:7, Ephesians 5:20).
31 A heart for missions
"Lord, please help my children to develop a heart for missions, a desire to see your glory declared among the nations, your marvelous deeds among all peoples," (Psalms 96:3).
"I believe this simple prayer program will not only change how we pray, but also how our children pray…and, by God's grace, how they live as well." Bob Hostetler
Bob Hostetler's books include the award-winning Don't Check Your Brains at the Door (coauthored with Josh McDowell) and They Call Me A.W.O.L. He lives near Oxford, Ohio, with his wife, Robin, and two children. You can purchase his 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Kids prayer cards and other prayer tools at NavPress. Check it out!
Ramadan 2007 / 1428 : Day 30 for October 12
The Zikri Baluch are an offshoot of mainstream Islam that is concentrated in the Baluchistan Province of Pakistan. There are about 750,000 adherents in this group. Most Zikris live in Baluchistan, but a large number also live in the region around Karachi and Iran. A high percentage of Zikris are involved in fishing, mainly along the coast of the Arabian Sea. Some are also involved in farming, basket weaving and making other hand crafted items.
Their practices are based around the teachings of Syed Mohammad Jaunpuri, a 15th century and South Asian Islamic Messiah figure (Mahdi). In religious practice, the Zikris differ greatly from mainstream Muslims. Zikris perform five daily prayer rituals called Zikr in which sacred verses are recited which differ from orthodox Islamic prayer. Zikris do pilgrimage to their most famous shrine at Koh-e-Murad, near the city of Turbat in Baluchistan, on the twenty seventh night of Ramadan. “Koh” means “mountain”, and “Murad” is a name, meaning “aim”or “desire”. It has been reported that the Zikris perform rites similar to a traditional Hajj when on pilgrimage to the shrine.
The name Zikri comes from the Arabic word dhikr (pronounced “Zikr” in South Asia) that refers to remembrance, usually of Allah. This is reflective of the Zikri worship, focused on the recitation of Islamic credos. The movement of Syed Jaunpuri started as a reaction to the worldly pursuits of the Muslim elite. Zikris have faced persecution mainly from Sunni Muslims, but this usually has occurred in areas where they are in a minority, or in conflict with non-Zikri power groups. The Zikri came to Baluchistan seeking safety, and in their isolation, they deviated from the Muslim majority practices.
It is probable that many other influences will come into the lives of the Zikri in the coming years. The Pakistani and Chinese governments have been deeply involved in developing the Gwadar deep-sea port which is being linked to the rest of Pakistan, to China and to Central Asia through a system of roads and pipelines. Gwadar’s population is about 50% Zikri. If the forecasted economic development based on the port actually takes place all of Baluchistan and the region will be significantly affected.
It has been reported by a couple of fishermen that Jesus appeared to them in a storm and rescued them while on a fishing trip. Pray that many more Zikri fishermen would truly encounter Jesus, and become real fishers of men!
Prayer Requests for the Zikri Baluch:
* In recent years a number of Zikris who have become followers of Jesus. Pray for growth in the ways of God (faith, hope and love) for all of these new believers (1 Cor 13).
* Pray also that these new believers would make known their faith among their family and friends, and that whole families and clans would become followers of Jesus.
* Pray that the top religious leaders of the Zikris would come to know Jesus, through the Scriptures, testimonies, films, dreams, visions, healings, etc., so that their followers would also embrace the Truth.
Nellie R. O'Neal
Ramadan 2007 / 1428 : Day 27 for October 9 (We are posting these one day early to include all time zones.)
Firozabad is a significant city of approximately a half million people located 45 minutes east of Agra by car (the city where the Taj Mahal is located). Firozabad is still being researched for ministry purposes. No local congregation of Christians exists there at the present time. It appears that about half the population is Muslim. The remaining population is comprised of Hindus and Jains (believers in Jainism). A very large Jain temple is located on the outskirts of the city.
The glass industry is very well established at Firozabad. It has been called the glass capital of India. Local artisans and factories produce glass bangles (bracelets), drinking glasses and a wide variety of other glassware. Some people have observed that the people of Firozabad do not breath air but glass. Dozens of shops in the markets sell nothing but glass bangles. Thousands of children work in the glass industry around the 300 glass factories polishing and painting the glass bangles in very poor conditions. The city also suffers low literacy and there is significant pollution linked to the glass industry.
The tallest building in the city is the main mosque in the heart of downtown. During Friday prayers this mosque is full with several hundred Muslims present. Large numbers of young boys are attending the Qur’anic school linked to the mosque. It is still not certain if most of the Muslims in this city are truly religiously Muslim or simply culturally Muslim. The women wear traditional Muslim dress.
There is no known believer in this city. Some Christians who recently visited Firozabad saw God open doors for the Gospel with four young Muslim men. They gave a copy of the Bible to one of the young Muslims who is also sharing it with the others. Through phone calls and e-mails it seems that they continue to read the Bible. Some of the visiting Christians were even invited to a wedding in the same family as the young man who has a copy of the Bible. The young Muslim men know that the Christians are followers of Jesus and that we pray for them daily. Hopefully Christians visiting the city will continue to find men and women of peace and good will.
Firozabad in some ways is what you would call a forgotten city. It is the closest large city to Agra, the tourist capital of India, and yet there are no tourists who visit this city. When a tourist does come to Firozabad, traffic literally stops on the streets.
Prayer Points for Firozabad:
* Pray for God to raise up workers to go to this city and share the Gospel message (both short term and long term workers are needed).
* Pray for discernment of those who go to work in this city as they do research and minister.
* Pray for God to speak to the city’s youth through His Word (including those mentioned above).
* May people become dissatisfied with Hinduism and Islam and long for more than they presently have.
* Pray for the many children used as cheap labour in the glass factories and for real solutions to the pollution problems.
Population: 11 million
Dhaka has been called “the city of the 1,000 mosques”, but at the start of the 21st century the capital of Bangladesh has many more than 1,000 mosques. The region was first exposed to Hinduism and then to Buddhism. Muslim raiders introduced Islam to Bangladesh from North India in the tenth century and later by the Mughal (Mogul) rulers. Almost 90 per cent of the population today follows the Sunni and Sufi forms of Islam, which are dominated by ‘holy men’ and folk Islamic practices.
Dhaka is a busy centre of government and commerce and attracts students from all over the country. Recently identified as the world’s most polluted city, the government is struggling to manage the traffic and provide adequate housing facilities for its growing population of 11 million people. Non-governmental organisations try to help in the huge challenge of alleviating poverty. Bangladesh’s gross national product (GNP) per capita is still among the lowest in Asia, and the country depends heavily on foreign aid. Crime rates are rising and reports of hijacking, extortion, mob killings and murder can be read in the newspaper every day. Political violence is common, and rivalries between the political parties, coupled with corruption, hinder serious efforts to address the multiple problems.
Dhaka’s major waterfront called ‘Sadarghat’ is on the bank of the river Buriganga. This bustling waterfront reflects Bangladesh’s varied and widespread river traffic. It is crowded with all kinds of river craft, from minuscule boats to steamers and fishing boats.
Dhaka is also home for many Bihari Muslims. They fled the riots in the Indian State of Bihar after the partition of India in 1947. Favoured by the government of Pakistan, they sided with the West-Pakistani Army when the Bengalis in East Pakistan fought for their independence in 1971. After the war the new country of Bangladesh was born and the Urdu-speaking Biharis were seen as traitors. To escape from the revenge of the Bengalis they were gathered in refugee camps to await their repatriation to Pakistan. With the help of international relief organisations, half of them have been repatriated over the years, but 250,000-300,000 still remain in the 66 camps in Bangladesh. The Biharis in Bangladesh have a strong Muslim identity. Only a few secret believers exist among them.
Prayer for the Muslims in Dhaka, Bangladesh:
* Pray that the churches in Dhaka will be encouraged to reach out to those who have not yet heard the Good News despite the rising intimidation which they face.
* Pray for unity and mutual trust among the national churches and the Christian organisations working in the city.
* Pray for many church-planting teams to be established that will take on the challenge of reaching out to the vast Bengali Muslim population (including the Biharis).