Here is the latest blog for which I was commissioned to write for Affluent Life Branding http://affluentlifebranding.com/?p=2766
I was honored with a request to write an article for The Solutions Institute. It was published today:
Moving heavy furniture and boxes (see blog below) begs one to take a break! With a tube of Tiger Balm, a reclining chair, and a television remote the one hour break commenced. Channel surfing discovered a one-hour documentary on PBS titled “The First Silent Night” telling the origins of one of the most enduring Christmas hymns of all time – “Silent Night”.
The German carol’s lyrics were written by Father Joseph Mohr in 1816 and then two years later the music was composed for “Stille Nacht” by schoolmaster Franz Xaver Gruber in the Salzburg, Austria region. The film mesmerized with history, emotion, faith, and the beauty of Austria which helped diminish any muscle pain!
The one hour program connected with my faith, love for Jesus and adoration of my favorite Christmas song that it immediately motivated me to set a one year goal of visiting Salzburg for Christmas 2015! In fact, I have the entire itinerary already planned which includes a few days in Wagrain, day trips to Hallein, Vienna, Munich (Germany) and Bolzano (Italy) with several days in Salzburg for all the Noel Festivities!
Visions of a 20 hour flight with children, transportation hassles, bustling crowds, and freezing-below- zero temperatures does not dampen my motivation to achieve this vacation dream! In fact I can already taste the mulled wine and roasted chestnuts with the scent of fresh pine trees in the air! No more “Dreaming” of a White Christmas, because the blanket of pure, white crystal snow will be all around requiring a cup of warm-spiced-nog at the end of a cold, but joyous day!
Although it is still yet Christmas Day, the image of Christmas in Europe next year dances in my head – authentic Tafelspitz, Schnitzel, sweet Apfelstrudel, warm Jägertee, bright artisan Christmas ornaments, festive music, the grand Cathedral, local Advent activities, and even the visit by the Krampusses and Perchten beckons vividly!
However with just one year to reach the goal, this means focus and dedication to earn the funds required for such a jubilant holiday. Now it makes perfect sense why God lead me to WakeUpNow! It will take earning 5-6 figures per month to establish the healthy finances needed to even begin planning the trip. Once the appropriate amount of income is earned, then I can book the entire merry sabbatical utilizing the WUN Vacation Club! Plus I can use WUN Speak to learn German and refresh my Italian, because when in Rome – or this case Salzburg – speak the local language.
The past 7 years has literally been one of the most financially challenging. In addition, the political involvement and watching the removal of “Christ” from America has dampened my spirit to some degree. However “The First Silent Night” reminded me that God is always in control no matter how bleak the circumstances may appear. Plus for the first time in years, I am motivated by a dream – a dream which began with faith and adoration of a hymn which stirs love and peace everywhere!
Perhaps Salzburg is not the location of Christ’s birth, however it is the location of the ‘birth’ of a moving Christmas song describing the most holy night of the year! And the origins of the lyrics and musical composition inspire faith and enhance the beauty of the region.
Now back to reality and my still sore muscles!! Merry Christmas!
A long, chaotic few days and now a cluttered house – boxes and excess furniture everywhere. One would think I just moved in – or worse that a housekeeper needs to be hired and quick! (Well hired help would be nice right about now – where is that Calgon?) However in the midst of the clutter and chaos, there is peace of the spirit – a man is now not homeless!! (See “Reality or Illusion” blog below.)
In the background the sweet sounds of the Christmas Jubilee is filling the home renewing the spirit of the weary. Many are broken in the world, lost in all the confusion, but the Good News is there is REAL hope!! Real GRACE!! Real LOVE!!
The Christmas season should be a reminder for those who BELIEVE to help those in need. Do you know family, friends, or neighbors how are hurting? Perhaps they lost a loved one? Lost their job? Lost their home? Maybe they are suffering from depression or addiction.
Someone within your family or community is indeed hurting and the Christmas season creates even deeper pain for many. We are called to be the “light and salt” in this world. Bring cheer to someone who needs it and pray with them to bring this love and hope this season!!
……..I try to sleep, they’re wide awake, they won’t let me alone
They don’t get paid to take vacations or let me alone
They spy on me, I try to hide, they won’t let me alone
They persecute me, they’re the judge and jury all in one………
The year 1984 may have passed 3 decades ago, however the Orwellian story could easily be renamed 2014. As this year comes to a close, we are faced with a daily barrage of “big brother” news from a Sheriff Deputy in Washington state declaring armored vehicles are needed because of “constitutionalists” to alleged threats from North Korean hackers shutting down a release of a movie.
Nearly 3/4 of a century ago, Charlie Chaplin released his classic and popular film “The Dictator” to rave reviews and box office strength. Although it has been reported that Hitler was annoyed and controversy was stirred, Americans did not bow to fascist threats. But in today’s modern world of ‘political correctness’, propaganda, easily “offended” individuals, and encroaching tyranny, America bent over.
The lack of Presidential leadership and the caving of theater chains to not release the Sony film “The Interview” displays weakness of the United States to the rest of the world. Our country allowed “dictatorship” from foreign entities to silence us. Is this still America?
One week ago Congress passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 which included the granting of rights for the Executive branch to have unlimited access to the communications of ALL Americans.
In addition, another film made headlines earlier this week due to new technology called “Beware”.. The 2002 Steven Spielberg film, “The Minority Report” showed the story of police utilizing ‘thought’ technology to arrest and convict people before committing crimes. Now the telecommunications company Intrado has developed a “pre-crime” software which can search billions of records, like social media, to ‘find’ and ‘predict’ POTENTIAL crimes.
Even without Intrado’s constitutional violation software, Marine Veteran Brandon Raub made headlines back in the summer of 2012 when FBI, Secret Service, and County Sheriffs swarmed onto Raub’s private property. His alleged crime? Postings on his facebook page which were deemed “anti-government”. So what is considered anti-government?
Three years prior, the MIAC report (Missouri Information Analysis Center) was discovered when a law enforcement whistle-blower sent the document to the Alex Jones show. The ‘unclassified’ but ‘law enforcement sensitive’ document declared that 2008 Presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr and their supporters were threats. In addition any individual who supports the Constitution, but opposes the North American Union, were dangerous, along with Libertarians and Constitution Party members.
The MIAC report also detailed the ‘public safety’ partnership with local, state and federal agencies, which would disseminate information to Homeland Security on these alleged threats to the nation which also included Christians and homeschoolers. The leaked information also exposed the fact that there were reports across the country sent to other local and state law enforcement agencies; which might explain the Deputy Sheriffs comments this week in regard to Constitutionalists being a threat.
America officially became a country declaring independence from England in 1776. Upon this declaration, a Republic form of government was founded with the Bill of Rights and the Articles of the Constitution. It has been alleged that when a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, what these gentlemen had just accomplished, he stated “A Republic Ma’am, if you can keep it.”
The word “republic’ is derived from the Latin ‘res publica’ which literally translates to ‘public thing’. In relation to ‘politics’ it means a form of government for which the people conduct their private lives for their own benefit versus the benefit for a dictator or group of politicians. Thus a Republic form of government allows for FREEDOM and Liberty clearly described in not only the Founding Documents of America, but also in the words, via letters, books, and speeches, of the Founding Fathers.
Back in 2009, I spoke at a Constitution Party event in Arizona. Others speakers included Chuck Baldwin and former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo. I clearly recall Tancredo stating (in reference to the Ron Paul ‘revolution’) there had already been a ‘revolution’ and they (the statists) won.
Indeed this seems to be the case if Americans, who adhere to our history and laws of the land, are considered “threats to the state” (or statists!).
Perhaps George Orwell wrote ‘fiction’ back in 1949, but in 2014, his book “1984” reads more like a manuscript of reality. If we want to be AMERICA again, we must stand up with courage instead of bowing down with fear!
Today I must take the “easy path” – true to my blog yesterday, helping the neighbor to move in here for now just to prevent him from being homeless. My family’s Christmas gift to our community. So with limited time, today I post a recording from two months ago which really applies today. How do people end up in their dire financial circumstances? Sometimes perhaps it is a series of unfortunate events, but most the time we have more control than we believe – so with faith and hard work, we can indeed achieve what we dream! Enjoy!
Good cheer, forgiveness, love, joy, and charity abounds during the Christmas season!! Reality or illusion?
A few days ago a neighbor shared with me that his landlord had served him notice to vacate the home he had been renting from him for the past several years. Why? Because he was short a mere $90 for the rent. Unfortunately this neighbor had been late for the past few months due to the economy, however by the end of the month, he always paid in full. The landlord outright owns the property in addition to several other properties in the area including commercial property. The landlord is not hurting financially.
Earlier this year, this neighbor lost his wife – she sadly lost her battle with cancer on Valentine’s Day. Naturally our neighbor mourned and fell into a deep depression. Dealing with the loss, his own business faltered and his meager savings dwindled to a zero balance. Although he resumed his business and masked his pain with hard work, he fell behind on paying rent in his traditional timely manner.
Many in the neighborhood pitched in to assist him with every day life necessities bringing him home-cooked meals, gifts, and business, however the Scrooge-landlord started harassing him on a monthly basis. And then of all times of the year, served him a notice to leave for just a mere $90 – a balance which certainly could have been wiped out due to all the maintenance this poor gentlemen did on the property regularly. The property is well-maintained and inviting.
Christmas season (or anytime of year) no one should face the indignity of hunger, homelessness, or poverty. This poor man lost his wife less than one year ago! Of course there are shelters, but this time of year, most shelters are full, so my family has invited this neighbor to stay here for shelter until he can declare some financial independence.
This act is nothing heroic, it is just human-decency especially during a season which is supposed to be about love and caring. But do we as a whole truly care about others?
Scripture does not state that money is the root of all evil, but that it is the “love” of money that is the root problem. When $90 is more important to a person than someone’s well-being, we as a society have a very dark issue.
Many believe government is the solution, however there is a price to pay when government is involved. At the heart of the matter is society and even more specifically the church body.
Deuteronomy 15:11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Matthew 5:42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…”
Mmmmmm….chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate brownies, no – chocolate cream pie with tons of whipped cream, but first get me the extra strength – this headache, these cramps – ouch!!
Women, you can relate and men, you know exactly what this means – stay away!!
Every month like a bad holiday – (okay a bad holiday does not exist, unless of course your favorite saying is “bah humbug”! ) – I feel bad for my family – all boys of course – not one female who can at least empathize with my ‘condition’….however they are trained well – they bring me a stash of chocolate, a box of Kleenex, and my stack of favorite movies which includes at least one Sandra Bullock film. Then suddenly for some odd reason they go into the Barney ‘clean up-cleanup, everyone do their share’ mode and suddenly, their rooms are clean and all the dishes neatly stacked in the cupboard.
Occasionally one at a time, they dare to come near and give me big hugs and tell me how much they love me, delicately ask if I need anything and then poof – just like that – alone again….well alone with the tissue, a movie, and my thoughts and emotions which take me on a very bumpy roller-coaster ride for which I cannot wait to end.
All the jokes I heard as a little girl forewarned of these days, but I was determined not to be like the majority of the female population. No, not me, I am a peppy, happy go-lucky woman…well I have my moments, but mostly just ‘miss congeniality’. I vowed to just be happy 365 days of the year! – Ahhhhhh..bah humbug! Darn you Eve!
Well before the hot flashes and sleepless nights set in – might as well enjoy the extra hugs, Kleenex, and chocolates!
Last night had a fun dilemma – either watch the 50th Special Anniversary of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or the telecast of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. The winner – “Santa”! Now before the tears come about the cuteness of “Rudolph” and yes like Clarice declares – he is cute!! But see I own a VHS copy (yes this is how long ago it was purchased) of “Rudolph” but not of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. Plus I missed the “Santa” telecast last year for which, although I have watched it every other year practically my entire life, I was disappointed! Well watching all these classics are tradition!! Part of the family Christmas memories, so a year without “Santa” is like a year without the holiday!
I still smell the homemade -by-Mom- Christmas sugar cookies in the oven —-mmmmmm!! The sparkling colorful lights on the tree and with tinsel (we all survived this dangerous tree decoration – ahh the joys of freedom), the handcrafted-by-Mom Mr. & Mrs, Santa in the corner, and of course the Nativity scene brightly on display. In our family home, Christmas was the most festive time of the year with joyful traditions which included watching all the season’s holiday classics!
Honestly I thought everyone in the world celebrated the December 24th/25th festivities until one day I was scolded by a retail customer for saying the apparent offensive greeting: “Merry Christmas”. If looks could kill, I would have suddenly been six feet under.
Not so many years after the “grinch” experience, I was once again scolded by a fellow Christian for including “Santa” in my holiday decorations. Oh the wrath!! “If you rearrange the letters it spells s-a-t-a-n”…..apparently I needed an exorcism.
But watching the classic stop-motion animation last night simply is affirmation that although “Jesus is the reason for the season” (for which is mentioned in this Rankin-Bass special), but Santa plays an important role during the Advent season as well!
Imagine if the main character in “It’s A Wonderful Life” was Santa instead of George Bailey. Well less children would be enthused about the holiday…no St. Nick – well then no animation classics like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, no baking of cookies to leave out for Santa, no Mr. Claus at the mall (then retailers have less reason for MERRY CHRISTMAS commercials – okay perhaps less commercialism would be lovely, however the “excitement” of Christmas would not be filling the air!
We believers in Christ should not be blaming jolly ol’ St, Nick for the diminishing message of “Christ is Born”, but our own-selves. It is our calling to be fishers of men (and women) and to share the “good news”. It is our responsibility to be good neighbors! We all should be on our repentant knees praying for the world to know the truth and forgiveness of our own transgressions. The church has allowed the commercialism, allowed the removal of nativity scenes, and allowed Jesus to merely be an accessory of the season. (Written with love! I include myself in the blame!)
Jesus said to “go out into the world”! (Not be the judge of the world.). And the world loves Santa Claus!! He is loved for good reason – he bears gifts, he has a joyful laugh, works all year just to bring smiles and good cheer to the people, and makes children happy!!
Every day we are bombarded with bad news! The periods between Thanksgiving and New Years Day is the one time of the year that we can put aside all the bad news and just enjoy watching our children light up with excitement! To enjoy the traditions of the season and rejoice in our own fond Christmas memories which also include Santa!
Plus the origins of Santa is indeed based on Christianity: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/
Perhaps the “seeds” of church attendance would have still sprouted into a fully-planted believer as an adult, however the images of Santa Claus, the animated holiday classics, the fun activity of helping mom bake cookies for the jolly-round-man-in-red, and the excitement of Christmas morning to see what he had placed under the tree certainly instilled solid traditions and a stronger desire to learn the true meaning of the season! Plus remember he chose the night we honor as Jesus’ birthday to bestow us with good cheer!
So I enjoyed the fun tradition of eating sugar cookies while watching “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” last night! Tonight I think I will put in my VHS copy of “Rudolph”! Merry Christmas!!