Did Santa Really Do That?

 Rumors only, of course. Snopes had no info…animated-xmas-dancing-father-x_reineersHumor+Christmas+Cartoons+funny+picture+(154)holiday4cartoon2602christmas_cartoon_for_free_20120627_1228776630Funny-Christmas-Cartoons-05Funny-Christmas-Cartoons-Guard-dog-on-dutyChristmas+Cartoons+funny+picture+%2843%29347653.fullimagestoon_69santa_hacked“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

Rise Up, My Love (116): Dripping with Honey

baringo.org4:11 “Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue.” Some commentators feel that Solomon is describing the pleasure of passionate kissing in this verse, but the word picture of lips dripping honey is hard to reconcile with kissing per se (unless you like really sloppy kisses), so perhaps it could be more easily be understood as a flow of sweet words which Solomon meant figuratively as a description of her speech rather than primarily as a metaphor for kissing. www.businessweek.comThe Hebrew word for “dripping” is natap, and means “to drop of its own accord.” The word for honey is nopet and means the literal honey found wild in the comb. The picture is of the honeycomb dripping as in I Samuel 14:6,29 when Jonathan dipped the end of his rod into the honey and his eyes were enlightened. Let’s consider how honey is made, its nature and value, and its impact on those who find it. Honey bee WikiFirst, making honey is a slow process. According to the World Book Encyclopedia, bees gather nectar by sucking the sweetness out of the flowers and brushing their bodies against the pollen on the blossoms. The bees fill up their “honey bag” (or honey stomach) with nectar, and then return to the hive. While the nectar is in the bees’ stomach, certain enzymes are added to it, which break down the nectar into simple sugars, and after the bee has returned from his flight, he sucks the honey back up from his stomach and deposits it into a tiny wax cell in the comb. In the comb, the honey distills as the water evaporates out, and eventually the bees put a wax seal on the cell to keep the honey fresh for future use. By the end of a prosperous season, hives are overflowing with succulent honey oozing from the combs. www.ncagr.govThe honey of the soul is gathered like thoughts drawn from the flowers of this life…all the ideas we sip and all the experiences we brush up against as we work. Just as there are many types of honey, so there are many types and qualities of thoughts, and as faithful “worker bees,” we should take great care in finding the best orchards in which to work. The sweetest, purest thoughts come from the sure word of truth. “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:9-11).bees on honeycellsAfter our thoughts are gathered, they are digested (meditation) and stored in the hive of the mind, where they are left to distill into ideas which are sealed up to keep fresh until needed. Good ideas, like good honey, are not made quickly. They are carefully and slowly processed over a long period and stored up for the proper time. Good ideas, like good honey, are pure, sweet, and edifying. And, like a full honeycomb at the end of a prosperous season, a mind saturated with good ideas will eventually “drip honey”—dispense lovely, encouraging words.

What is the nature of honey? Honey is that which sweetens and strengthens. “What is sweeter than honey?” (Judges 1:18). Encouraging speech is similar: “Pleasant words are as the honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). trutrainerapp.comWhat is the value of honey? It was greatly valued. Jacob sent it with his gifts to the pharaoh (Genesis 43:11), and throughout Scripture it was used as a symbol of the rich prosperity of a land (Numbers 14:8—Israel; Numbers16:13—Egypt, etc.). The honey of wisdom is similarly valued in the Scripture: “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off” (Proverbs 24:13-14). Wisdom is the honey of the soul, and just as Jonathan’s eyes were enlightened by tasting honey, so our eyes are enlightened by tasting the sweetness of true wisdom.

What is the impact of honey on those who find it? “Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15). It is only after we feast on the true butter and honey of Truth that we can discern good from evil and know to choose good. Those who have only eaten the rancid lard and moldy cake of this world do not know there is anything better.

How true this is of love! The world portrays love as synonymous with starry-eyed infatuation—the outpouring of devotion that is as watery as nectar and no more satisfying. Worse, the world’s counterfeit to love is lust, which would be poisoned honey—not to build up, but to destroy. The world does not understand true, sacrificial love, and it is only when they experience being truly loved by  the magnificence of God’s love (or others who have been transformed by it) that they learn to discern good from evil and choose the good.

How true this is of speech! The bride’s speech did not babble on and on like thin drivel, it dropped with the distilled richness of golden honey: rich thoughts, rich ideas, rich words of praise and prayer. As Spurgeon said, “He is a wise man that knows how to speak well, but he is a great deal wiser man who knows how to hold his tongue.”

“Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb.”
Oh, that our lips might dispense such sweetness! news.health.com


Samuel at 31 Weeks: “A Womb with a View” and a King-Sized Bed

Dan Watching DanielAs their friend Matt Hoffman pointed out:
Hey look … Sammie’s got a womb with a view!” Samuel hard at work As you might guess from my ability to enjoy a good joke, as hope rises, humor returns.Preemie on his tummyThe doctors predicted that weeks 2-3 would be hard, but that if Baby Samuel is to survive, he’d most likely make a turn for the better in the fourth week. Preemie in isoletteTo say he’s doing just fine would be a  gross overstatement, but his pneumonia seems to be gone, and he’s even been off the ventilator for 3 days now!   :) Preemie on a SiPAPThankfully, they’ve been able to replace the ventilator with a SiPAP machine, which is less invasive but still not anything close to comfortable! Baby holding ear There’s always something going on, poor fellow.   :(Preemie struggling to breathe He’s getting plenty of oxygen into his lungs but has tiny lungs have trouble pushing the air back out, so there’s a problem with CO2 building up.  We are praying that his lungs mature enough to handle exhausting the CO2 without needing to go back on the ventilator.So much fussing with a preemie!Another really significant step this week is that Baby Samuel graduated from needing IV feeding and has been gettingPreemie with SiPAP  fortified breast milk directly through a tube into his stomach.  Mom holding preemieSamuel’s also well enough to enjoy a little cuddle time with his mom again.Shared by Sarah J.Thank you, dear ones, for being with us! Samuel has a long way to go before he’s in the clear, but we are praising God for each answered prayer along this difficult journey, and we’re so thankful for your prayers and support. 12.14.14 King Size Bed In just a few days, it will be Christmas, and Samuel will be one month old, Lord willing. I am reminded of Jesus, whose birth and life we will be celebrating. He didn’t have the privilege of being born in a hospital or having a womb with a view. Still, He was born in a king-sized bed (the smallest in the world), Father watching over preemie and He had a father who watched over him with love more tender than that of the most loving human father. Preemie sleeping in isolette It is my prayer that not only Samuel—but each of us—will sleep in heavenly peace, resting safely under the mighty hand of God. Father and Son hands“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2). Preemie holding mother's finger“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

For Your Last Minute Shopping Pleasure: How the Computer Age Finally Got to Santa

20 Supper funny santa claus cartoon pictures photostricks.blogspot.com  6cartoon6788iphonetechnoratipolarxmas-funny-santa-facebook-cartoon347652.full“Jesus answered and said unto her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that said to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). add_toon_info“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

“As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

Favorite Birds (24): Peacocks…I Only Have Eyes for You

Beautiful PeacockPeacocks are perhaps the world’s most stunning and highly prized birds. peacock.. Worchester Art Museumjpg They’ve been a subject of nearly every art form for thousands of years,Peacocks and even though they are only native to Asia and Africa, they are a treasured addition to palaces and parks around the world. Stunning peacock Technically, only the males—with their immense tail fans (which comprise more than 60% of their body length)—are called “peacocks.” Pea hen The females, who are much less colorful, and called “peahens,” Peacock and Peahen and together they are called “peafowl.” Peacock on Railing  Also (technically) peacocks are large members of the pheasant family. Tail feathers of peacock Counting their weighty tails, peacocks are among the world’s largest flying birds. Girls with peacock They measure up to 5 feet in height and can weigh up to 13 pounds. Peacock in  trees In the wild, peacocks are omnivores who nest in trees & live as long as 20 years. Pea hen checking out pea cock It’s thought that the male’s vibrant fan, Peacock feathers from back striking tail feathers, Peacock. Rear view and lavish mating rituals are what attract the females, Peahen watching peacock and after watching them in action, who could disagree?Close up rear view peacock  Both males and females have a head crest, and although the females are much duller in coloring, they will also flaunt their plumage to ward off competition or defend their young. Peacock. Full fan The most common peacocks seen in America and Europe are Indian peacocks, Peacock fanwhich have iridescent blue and green plumage and eyes on their tail fans. Peacock Feather Close up As with many birds, the iridescence is caused not so much by pigmentation Peacock Feather eyes but by structure…the way light reflects off their interlocking barbules. Peacock Preening Although it’s a rare treat to see one, there are also white peacocks. White peacock drinking from bucket I always thought they were albinos, but true albinos have pink eyes.White Peacock+10 11.14.14 Most white peacocks are actually “leucistic;” they have less pigmentation and white feathers but blue eyes.SantaCeciliaMosaicPeacockSince ancient times, Christians have used the peacock to represent immortality.Peacock walking They are associated with the resurrection of Christ because they shed their feathers annually and regrow new ones (said to be even more beautiful). Igenio Epicoco Peacocks drinking from a vase symbolize Christians drinking Christ’s eternal life. Male peacock on wallAlso, the “multitude of eyes” on their tails speak of the all-seeing eyes of God. Flamingo and PeacockLast week I wrote about flamingos, and there’s a popular song sung by “The Flamingos” entitled “I Only Have Eyes for You.” Do you know it? Male Peacock+Albino“My love must be a kind of blind love
I can’t see anyone but you…
Maybe millions of people go by
But they all disappear from view
And I only have eyes for you.” Little girl watching peacocksThat’s sorta the way I feel about God, so I love all the symbolism in peacocks! Peacock. Beautiful…For His eye is on the peacock, and I know He watches me! :)

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.”
(2 Chronicles 16:9)



(Credit: Picture of St. Cecelia’s with two peacocks and a cross thanks to  http://silvertrumpets.blogspot.com/2012/07/peacocks-in-early-christian-art.html . I took all the photos of the peacocks in Hawaii, California, and the Bahamas.)




Grace of Monaco: Facts and Fictions


Grace_of_Monaco_PosterOn a recent trans-pacific flight, after I was too tired to work any more, I watched Grace of Monaco, which looked like the most innocuous choice and had some potential for being a positive experience. Grace Kelly. Wiki After all, when I was a little girl, every child knew the romantic fairytale that came true…how Grace Kelly became a glamorous Hollywood actress Prince_Rainier_III but gave it all up when she was only 26 to marry Prince Charming (aka Prince Rainier Grimaldi III), who carried her off to his castle in a faraway land (with an inheritance of 142 official titles…although Grace’s parents had to come up with a dowry of $2 million for their part in the transaction… :) ). To_Catch_a_Thief1 America was shocked and grieved (as was I) when Princess Grace died at only 52 in a car accident on the steep mountain road back to Monaco from their country home in Roc Agel. I thought hearing the story of her life would be fascinating.  Monaco on Mediterranean Alan and I have been to Monte Carlo. MonacoWe’ve walked in the bountiful gardens (but not in the casinos), Alan checking out car and we’ve traveled the very highway where Grace died (but not in this car!)

Nicole Kidman as Princess GraceSo, I really looked forward to watching the video, which was touted as a biopic— a slice-of-life drama centering on french political tensions in the early 1960s— about which I knew nothing.  Having learned the hard way to double check what I hear or see, I wasn’t totally taken in, but it wasn’t until after returning home that I discovered just how far off the historical mark the movie really was. Here are a few of the comments, which are so scathing they’re almost funny:
*Film critic Peter Bradshaw: “a film so awe-inspiringly wooden that it is basically a fire-risk.”
* Screen Daily: “puzzlingly misjudged… a minor royal Euro-pudding which lands awkwardly in sub-Roman Holiday territory”.
* Hollywood Reporter: “The Shrek movies deconstruct fairy tale conventions with much more depth and wit than this dreary parade of lifeless celebrity waxworks.”
*Rotten Tomatoes: 3.3/10 “Beautifully shot but utterly vapid, Grace of Monaco fails to honor either its subject or its audience.”Saint Patrick - Illuminations de la Façade du Palais Princier 2And, a sobering critique from the palace: “The Princely Family does not in any way wish to be associated with this film which reflects no reality and regrets that its history has been misappropriated for purely commercial purposes.” Grace Kelly. Princess of MonacoWell, I enjoyed the movie and was surprised to discover the truth, but I do believe the official palace stance. So, if you choose to watch the movie, don’t do it for its historical significance. Still, I  love the true story of Grace’s transformation from movie star (which her father condemned as “a slim cut above streetwalker”) to a princess who reared three children (who stalwartly defend her reputation to this day) and was so beloved by her husband that he never remarried (although they say he did smoke 60 cigarettes a day)…a woman who gave up her career to reign with her husband and serve his people. (During Rainier’s long 56-year reign, he was able to reduce Monaco’s gambling industry from over 95% to less than 3% of their revenues, and Princess Grace founded AMADE Mondiale, a philanthropic organization to protect the “moral and physical integrity” and “spiritual well-being of children throughout the world”…a true work of Grace.  Ah, that we might so honor our Prince Charming, Jesus, with such good works!James Gill. Wiki.My parting thought is this: Let’s keep checking our sources to learn the Truth… about this life and the next. It’s way too easy to believe “somebody’s” popular version, but exchanging truth for “commercial profit” (too busy; no interest…) is a very poor choice. I choose to believe the accounts of the apostles, who saw Jesus crucified, dead, and buried, and then had breakfast with him on the beach a few days later. They experienced his resurrection in such a profound way that it totally transformed them from frightened fishermen into fearless witnesses who all ended up dying for their faith. Why? Because they no longer feared death, seeing that it wasn’t permanent! How about you? Do you believe? The Truth is definitely worth obtaining, especially since it will bear eternal dividends.

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
(Matthew 16:26)

(Credits: Although I did take the 3 pictures of Monaco and Monte Carlo, all the rest are from Wikipedia articles and images from the Grace of Monaco movie. The last picture is a 2013 painting by James Gill titled “Grace Kelly in Sun.” All the quotes were taken from Wikipedia articles and movie reviews.)

Dalí: Bizzare can also be Brilliant, but is it Beautiful?

Kandinsky's improvisation 33Did you happen to read the Google Doodle about Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian credited with being the first purely abstract artist? He was born 148 years ago today but began his career as an artist in the early 1900s. Much of his work was condemned by the Nazis as “degenerate art” and destroyed in 1937, although in 2012 one of his paintings (shown below) sold for $23 million! Kandinsky-Study-for-Improvisation-8-20-30mDo you like abstract art? One thing I will say about Kandinsky is that he believed vibrant color can produce an intense sensory experience in the viewer’s soul, and I totally resonate with this. I love color! What do you think of his paintings?KandinskyIsn’t it true that so often, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”? I look at these incredibly expensive paintings and think, “Looks like child’s play to me.” But, I really didn’t intend to write about Wassily Kandinsky today. It’s “Travel Tuesday,” and I wanted to share about visiting the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, which boasts the most comprehensive collection of Dali’s work in the world. My brother had to talk me into going, tho, because I’ve really never been a fan of modern art. Of course, many are, including my son Jon. pablo-picasso-first-communion 1869 I remember perusing the Museu Picasso in Barcelona with Jon and being amazed that Picasso could paint such an artistic and realistic picture of his sister’s first communion at the tender age of 15! What happened to him over the years of his long life? Two world wars and despair? To me, his pictures became disjointed…ugly. What makes his art the most sought after in the world today??Picasso_Portrait_of_Daniel-Henry_Kahnweiler_1910Jon tried to point out some of the brilliance of his creative Cubism, but I was a skeptic, thinking more along the lines of Picasso’s comment to a friend concerning the above 1910 “Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahweiler”: “What would have become of us if Kahnweiler hadn’t had a business sense?” Dali-Picasso_landing-pageThrough February16, 2015, there is a special exhibition of Picasso at the Dalí  Museum…rarely loaned works from more than 25 international museums and private collections. Dali Museum I went last month, and if you’ll be in the area, you might enjoy going, especially if you can make it to one of Joan’s 3:30 tours. She’s a peerless docent who’s been volunteering for nearly 30 years and makes each piece of Dalí’s work come alive by explaining the fascinating symbolism in both the themes and minute details.The Persistence of Memory Dalí’s best known work, “The Persistence of Memory,” suddenly became more than just a series of melting clocks…it was Dalí’s way of trying to express Einstein’s theory of relativity…an idea that came to him as he watched a piece of Camembert cheese melting on a hot August day! :)The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory Everything in his pictures represent something (some are almost prophetic), although much of the symbolism is so esoteric that only friends, art dealers, and those who bought his art understood the messages…often because he’d explain!

The Basket of BreadLike Picasso, Salvador Dalí was classically trained and as a young artist showed great promise, Picassoalthough it looks to me like the horrors and disorientation of World War I and II caused a spiritual disintegration.Salvador Dalí painting  He became a communist and an anarchist,The Discovery of America by Columbusand over the course of time, Dalí’s paintings became less and less “real” Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Manand more and more “surreal.” Portrait of DalíDalí took pleasure in Dadaism, an “anti-art” movement rooted in Wassily Kandinsky’s theoretical abstraction and totally detached from the conventions of reality. Ghost of Vermeer He liked to shock people, and I dare say, much of his work caught me off guard. Dalí painting Each picture made me ponder; Dalí painting St. Petersberg, FL some reminded me of Alice-in-Wonderland-style fantasies,Dalí painting 2 and some were totally grotesque surprises that made me wince.

Dalí paintings collageI left the museum with much more appreciation for the genius of Dalí, Picasso, and other Cubists, Surrealists, and Dadaists. The hands that smeared  bizarre graffiti across the pages of our 20th century were doubtless full of existential angst, but they also painted brilliant messages. However, these questions still remain: Are the messages true? And, are the works beautiful? They  certainly are wildly popular today: Picasso’s paintings are selling for astronomical prices…the most sought after in the world at the moment. But, the pictures these artists paint leave me with an ominous sense of impending doom. In reality, God promises our world a future restoration and holds out the hope of a spiritual kingdom of light that will last eternally. He doesn’t want us wallowing in disembodied despair. He wants us to think on the bright and beautiful! Look up, our redemption is coming. :)

 “Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).