Christmas

Christmas Tree Picking – 2011

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in Christmas | 4 comments

Ymmm… can’t you just smell the fresh scent of Christmas? That perfect blend of pine, warm lights hitting the branches of a newly cut tree, a cinnamon candle burning, and hot chocolate on the stove? LOVE IT!

For the fourth year in a row, our family has gone to pick out our own tree, chop it down, then decorate it together in new Christmas pj’s. Here’s some pictures to begin the holiday season on A Godly Heritage:

On the Hay Ride to Go Pick Our Tree!

We’ll Take This One!

Mommy & Aubrey Watching

Abby helping Daddy.

Meeting the goats.

Watching the Donkeys.

Waiting Patiently While Daddy Ties  the Tree Up

Making it Snug!

Time to Decorate

This is so fun!

Sister Christmas Love!

New Christmas Pj Pic

Silly Family

 

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Christmas in July ~ Plan Now for December

Posted by on Jul 25, 2011 in Christmas | 1 comment

 

Christmastime – lights and carols, trees and cookies, laughs and memories… mmmm…. I love it all! Unfortunately, in addition to these warm feelings, each December tends to also bring stress, worry and disappointment – specifically in the area of finance.

When the commercials begin to advertise the “perfect” present for each person on my list, I realize how little I actually have to spend on these must-have gifts. Have you been there? You’re gazing at your bank statement, which is about 1/3 the size of the ever growing stream of people you remember need something under your tree, as you feel your heart rate climb. Then there’s the new movie coming out all the cousins, including your kids, have to see! And what about that special Christmas concert date with your spouse? And the new sweaters you need to purchase for Christmas pictures? Sending Christmas cards? Need postage? How about the festive food dishes you are expected to make for all of those parties? And you certainly don’t want to leave only leftover change for charities, church, or special mission projects.

STOP! You may be thinking. It’s only July!! Give me a few more months of peace! Yes, it’s July, which is exactly why I’m bringing it up now. We have five months until the big day, and there is no time like the present to start planning. Set aside the hot temperatures, swimming stuff, and popsicles, and, for just a few minutes, give yourself the gift of a stress-free environment come December.

I found this handy sheet from Simple Mom in October of last year. It helped me tremendously plan for all of my expenses over the holidays. From clothes to cards, food to fun, this budget list is a wonderful tool! You simply plan on how much to spend on each item, add the total, then divide by the number of weeks (or months) until you begin your spending. Viola! You now know how much to save between now and Christmas. The best part is that you have the money you need before you need it. The sheet is quite extensive, and you may not need every idea listed. The only item I would add is for travel expenses over the holidays (especially important with gas and plane fares rising!).

Now imagine a different scenario: It’s November 25, the day after Thanksgiving. You have one month until Christmas. You look into your bank account (or, even better, an envelope that you’ve saved cash in), and you see a nice lump of money. You already have written down how much you can spend and have saved for each item you may need over the coming month. You don’t need the credit card; you won’t be in debt. And you certainly won’t be in a panic. You smile and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with your family knowing this Christmas will be one of less stress because you took time to plan ahead!

 

 

 

 

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Twas the Day Before Christmas…

Posted by on Dec 24, 2010 in Christmas | 0 comments

On the day before Christmas, the first Christmas, thousands of years ago….

Joseph traveled to Bethlehem with his wife. He moved with caution over the roads. His mind filled with thoughts, concerns, fears, excitements. The baby would come any day. Could he find a safe place in this new town? How would Mary do with the birth? How would he care for the Savior of the world in his own home? He nervously prayed that God would give him strength and wisdom – that what the angel said would remain true.

Mary, oh Mary! She truly felt great with child. Jesus weighed heavily on her internal organs as she and Joseph continued mile after mile. Oh, a kick – or was it a punch? maybe a head butt! “What would this baby look like? How will he feel in my arms? What will the birth be like?” she wondered. Oh, a hiccup – and, ah, the tightening of the stomach. The feeling of urgency started to become overwhelming. The time was close. Maybe tonight? Or tomorrow? But, surely soon. Missing her mother, or any other familiar woman, she quietly prayed for strength, grace, and courage.

The shepherds? The shepherds sat in the field watching their sheep, just as they had done every day for the past few months. It was grazing season, after all. They gathered together for dinner. After watering the sheep and moving to a safe pasture for the night, they began discussing  plans for the next time they were in town. One after another joked about the most exciting thing being a nice hot bath or perhaps a meal cooked by someone else or maybe interacting with a lady. “Cause nothing spectacular happens to shepherds!” they laughed before drifting off to sleep.

The wise men of the east gathered together a few of their star gazing supplies. Tomorrow night would be perfect for studying new star formations. These men were preparing to go to the top of the highest hill nearby to chart current celestial movements. Sounds exciting, but they’ve been working on these sky maps for nearly a year. They were nearly done with their current project and were looking forward to a new project soon.

On the day before Christmas, this Christmas, 2010…

The last minute shoppers are running crazy trying to find the perfect gift, or any gift, for their special someone.

Children are counting down the hours until presents.

Families are gathering together.

Thousands are traveling.

Many are lonely.

Cookies are baking.

Music plays and songs are being sung.

Times sure have changed since the first Christmas.

But what about you? Are you going about your normal life, waiting for excitement? Angels appeared to the shepherds. The star shown for the wise men. But, GOD Himself came in human form for YOU! Christmas isn’t just about that little babe in the manger… it’s about the God of this Universe, the Creator and Sustainer of life, arriving to live a perfect life and then die, bearing my sins.. and your sins… and rise again to conquer death.

As you enjoy this special day, remember why we celebrate it. Remember that when this year’s festivities are all over, that God still lives and is the reason for the season.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!!

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Hunter’s Christmas Letter ~ 2010

Posted by on Dec 23, 2010 in Christmas | 2 comments

This year we sent out a Christmas letter along with a picture card. For those of you who did not receive it (sorry, we couldn’t send it to everyone we know!), here it is for you to read. The picture was taken by Blake and Bekah Boys.

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;

yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.

~ Psalm 77:11-12

What a year 2010 has been in the Hunter home! Lest we forget the “deeds of Lord,” we would like to share with you our Savior’s works, miracles, and mighty deeds to our family this year.

Blessing #1 ~ Our little family rang in the New Year at St. Luke’s Hospital celebrating the arrival of Abigail Marie on December 30. Weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces, and stretching to 21 inches long, this tiny bundle of giggles has grown into quite the little personality. She loves being around people and has brought such joy into our home. We remain grateful and humbled that God would choose to allow us to care for this little blessing.

Blessing #2 ~ Matt is completing his second year working for HAL Inc., a software company in Houston. As a customer service representative and trainer, his job has taken him this year to places like Norfolk, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland (which Monica and Abigail were able to attend!); and overseas to Dubai and Yemen. While the traveling has been fun, we are all hoping for a little down time over the holidays. We are thankful for safety during these trips, as well as Matt having a steady job!

Blessing #3 ~ Monica completed two and a half years of teaching last December and now stays home as a full time wife and mother. Her days are spent changing and washing diapers, nursing, cooking, cleaning, cuddling with Abby, and serving her family. She is grateful for her hard working, supportive husband and THRILLED to live this dream everyday.

Blessing #4 ~ We stay very involved with our church primarily working with the college age students. Each Sunday night we host college Bible study with another couple. Matt has been able to co-lead this and really enjoyed it! Monica also still leads a girls Bible study in her home every week. This has been a great source of encouragement for her to watch the young ladies grow towards loving Jesus more!

Blessing #5 ~ In August, we made a surprising discovery: Baby number two was on her way! That’s right, God is sending us Aubrey Michelle sometime around April 6, 2011. We can’t wait to meet this new little precious one! What a neat journey it will be to watch Abigail and Aubrey grow up together!

Praise the Lord along with us for His blessings in our lives this year. As you celebrate this Christmas season, take time to thank God for His mighty deeds in your life as well.

Merry Christmas,

The Hunter’s ~ Matt, Monica, Abigail, and Aubrey

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Story Behind the Song ~ Hark the Herald Angel Sing

Posted by on Dec 21, 2010 in Christmas | 3 comments

Hark! The Herald Angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born 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 Hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King.”

Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting lord
Late in time behold Him come,
Off-spring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail, the incarnate deity
Pleased as Man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the New-born king!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His Wings.
Now 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 New-born king!”

Come, Desire of nations come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the Woman’s conquering Seed,
Bruise in us the Serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness now efface:
Stamp Thine image in its place;
Second Adam, from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,
Glory to the Newborn King.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing remains one of the most well known, and, in my opinion, the most theologically filled Christmas carols. This sing was written in 1739 by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley, who founded the Methodist denomination. Charles still holds fame for writing over 6,000 hymns along with the lyrics of over 2,000 more. Some you may recognize include: And, Can it Be that I should Gain?; Christ the Lord is Risen Today; Jesus, Lover of My Soul; and O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, among others.

When Charles first wrote this hymn for a Christmas Day service, he arranged the lines of the song differently, had slightly altered lyrics, and wanted the tune to consist of slow, solemn music. A few years later, in 1753, Charles’ friend, George Whitfield, changed a few of the words from Wesley’s original, “Hark, how the welkin (heaven) rings, Glory to the King of king” to the now famous words, “Hark, the herald angel sings, Glory to the newborn King.” He further cut the last two verses which few people include currently in the song. The pattern was also turned from ten, four line verses to a eight line verses with a chorus. Charles Wesley was not pleased with another person, even a friend, altering the his hymn. But what was done, was done, and the song would probably not be as popular today without these changes.

In 1840 Felix Mendelssohn wrote a cantata in honor of the anniversary of the invention of the Gutenberg press. Several years later, organist Dr. William Cummings put these lyrics and this music together to form what we now know as “Hark the Herald Angel Sing.” The first publication of the current version of the song occurred in 1856.

Whether placed at the end of movies such as Charlie Brown’s Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life, or used in a church service or heard on the radio, this Christmas song is certainly a staple at this time of the year. This song reminds us that Jesus, the “newborn King,” is “Prince of Peace,” “Sun of Righteousness,” “Everlasting Lord,” “Incarnate Deity,” and, best of all, “Emmanuel” — “God with us.” It speaks of Jesus coming as the “second Adam” to be born that we as mere men may no longer face death! God Himself was veiled in human flesh. What wonders this song shows in its few lines!

One challenge I would offer you is to sit down with a pen and paper and rewrite this song in your own words. Do it on your own or as a family project. I guarantee that you will be awed anew at the miracle of Christ’s birth and will want to shout, “Glory to the Newborn KING!”

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Truth vs. Fiction ~ The Christmas Story Part 2

Posted by on Dec 18, 2010 in Christmas | 0 comments

Yesterday, I began a two part series over our perceived ideas about the Christmas story and what the Bible actually says about it. (Click here to read yesterday’s post.) The Bible should be our primary source for truth and authority. Although I don’t recommend tearing the star off of the manger or tossing the wise men to the side of your nativity, I do think it is good to know truth from fiction when thinking, meditating, and teaching the story of Christ’s birth. Why God chose to include certain details in His Word about Jesus’ birth, and why He left others out, we may never know. The point, of course, as you take this quiz is not to focus on and become lost in each minute point but to remember why Jesus was born and focus on the truth Scripture teaches us about that wonderful event.

Again, I have taken these questions from Grace Community International.

Answer True or False to the following questions:

1. The wise men came to visit the baby Jesus in the manger

2. The three wise men came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

3. The shepherds and the wise men all converged together upon the baby Jesus in the manger

4. The star led the wise men directly to Jesus

5. Jesus was a beautiful baby who grew into a handsome man with long, flowing hair

Ready for the answers…….

1. FALSE

Luke 2:8-16; Matt. 2:11

The shepherds came upon Jesus as a newborn, in the manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths. The Magi came later to Jesus’ house and found him as a young boy living in a house.

2. FALSE

Matt. 2:1

The picture of three Magi, on camels, following a star, each carrying a different gift of gold, frankincense or myrrh is a fabrication of the Christmas greeting card industry. The number of Magi is not known. Who carried what, the quantity and mode of transportation are all unknown. What is known is that they were Magi (plural form), thus there was more than one and that they bore three gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh. What are the chances though that dignitaries such as they would travel across the desert with fabulous wealth, by themselves with no armed guard and no retinue? What are the chances that three men, entering a city, would be ushered in to the presence of the king? More than likely they came up over the horizon as a large regal procession. The tower guard, seeing this, called for the captain of the guard who in turn immediately informed the commander of the garrison. Soon word made it’s way to the highest level of the court and the king prepared himself to meet these impressive visitors. What actually happened is unknown to us, but again, it is doubtful that it was three lone men traveling across the desert on camels.

3. FALSE

Luke 2:8-16; Matt. 2:11

The shepherds came upon Jesus as a newborn, in the manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths. The Magi came later to Jesus’ house and found him as a young boy living in a house.

4. FALSE

Matt. 2:9-11

The Magi first went to Jerusalem, not being lead by the star but rather as a result of the star’s appearance in the eastern sky. After consultation with the scribes via Herod’s court the city of Bethlehem was isolated. It was only after Scriptures were consulted and they continued on their way, south, to Bethlehem that the star began giving them specific help. They were only able to find the specific house Jesus was in by following the star which went on before them and directed them ultimately to the house where Joseph, Mary and Jesus were living. Thus it was by an indirect route and they needed other aides, such as Herod, the scribes and the Word of God to find Jesus.

5. FALSE

Is. 53:1-3; Duet. 22:5; Matt. 13:54-56; I Cor. 6:9; 11-14

The Bible clearly says that Jesus was not of striking appearance and would not stand out in a crowd. (Isaiah 53:1 – 3) His appearance was certainly not of the nature that would strike awe into people. People tended to be impacted by what Jesus had to say. His appearance did not seem to exert any influence upon them in terms of belief in His teachings or acceptance of Him as a great man or teacher. (Matthew 13:34 – 36) The prohibition of God the Holy Spirit in Deuteronomy 22:5 of dressing like a woman, the prohibition of men wearing long hair in I Corinthians 11:14 and the prohibition in I Corinthians 6:9 of being effeminate in appearance or manner, would deny Jesus the long flowing hair and effeminate dress and demure, as is so often attributed to Him in paintings. The actions of God the Son will always conform with both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit and it is unthinkable to assume that He would ever be in conflict with the standards put forth by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in the Word of God. Classic sculptures of the time, which have remained intact to this day, depict men of that period and locale as clean shaven with short closely cropped hair. As a carpenter’s son, Jesus was certainly not the wan, skinny figure depicted in Renaissance paintings. Rather this depiction of Christ reflects the decadence of the aristocracy of the Renaissance period, rather than historical and Scriptural accuracy. Who knows how our continued insistence to depict God in pictures and sculptures, despite the Biblical injunctions to the contrary (Exodus 20:4 & 5), will confuse and muddle the truth of Christ in future generations? Certainly it has already been a great distraction and stumbling block in the modern mission movements as these depictions create a false impression in the minds of Africans, Asians and Middle-Eastern cultures that Christianity is a Western Religion. It is not the Word of God that creates this impression but rather the misplaced zeal of western artists.

Well, how did you do? I hope your time in the Word has given you a new understanding of the birth story of Christ. From now on when you look at a nativity scene, remember what the Bible actually teaches… I think I’ll do that right now!

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