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As a writer, needle artist and photographer, I invite you to share my pursuits with me on this site. Among other things, there is a weekly post called “D-mail” that examines the spiritual meaning in current stories, both personal and news events.  I invite your comments at  cathycongerblog@gmail.com

“The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.”  N. Platt

cardinals survived the storm

cardinals survived the storm

buck at neighbor's backyard feeder
buck at neighbor

Buck at neighbor’s feeder 

a farm on the way to Neilsville
a farm on the way to Neilsville

 

There's a sidewalk under here somewhere!
There

There’s a sidewalk under here somewhere! 

Collapsed Metrodome in Minneapolis 

Last weekend my husband, Chuck,  and I were to have driven from home in Wisconsin Rapids (central WI) to Stillwater, MN for a 3 day get-away.  I was really looking forward to a few days relaxation, enjoying the Christmas spirit, food, decorations, etc. in the touristy town of Stillwater, along the Mississippi River south of St. Paul.  We had reservations at a romantic bed and breakfast.  Saturday morning I awoke to 8 new inches of snow on the ground on top of the 5 inches we’d gotten the week before.  It was so pretty! I dressed in a Christmas sweater to attend a luncheon.

I had done a tablescape for one of the tables at our annual hospital auxilliary luncheon and was anxious to get over to the golf club where the luncheon was being held.  It is always a festive event with raffle prizes donated by area businesses, a lovely meal, 40 decorated tables, and local entertainment.  Chuck promised to be ready to leave for Stillwater as soon as I got home from the luncheon. 

When I came out to the parking lot after the luncheon to load my decorations into the car, the snow was falling pretty hard.  However, when I got home, my husband said he wasn’t alarmed.  We had an SUV and would be just fine.  So we left.  That was at two pm.  As we headed west, the snow got worse.  About an hour into the trip I discovered that I hasd forgottn my medicine kit!  I couldn’t get through 3 days without it.  By this time we were pulling into Neilsville and could barely see.  The wind was howling.  After a fruitless search for a pharmacy (my husband is a doctor and could write me a Rx for a few days’ meds) , we decided to push on to Eau Claire where there would be a 24 hour drug store open.

Besides the heavy, blowing snow, it was now dark at 4 pm.  The country road from Neilsville to the interstate 94 entrance in Osseo was deserted.  I was getting scared because the snow seemed to be piling up faster than even our SUV could plow through.  A snow plow passed us going the other direction, so we drove on that side of the road where it was plowed.  “Don’t worry,” my husband said, “We’ll be at the interstate in a few miles and it will be fine after that.”  By 5:30 we came up on Osseo.  We couldn’t believe the sight before our eyes.  Over 75 semi trucks were parked in the parking lots of the Stockman’s Supply, the gas stations, and the four restaurants.  Barrels were across the entrance to the interstate and state police cars were enforcing the closure.  Cars were left stranded in snow banks all over the place.  We looked at each other.  There went our romantic get-away.  Instead, we crept forward past the traffic mess to try to reach the motel on the other side.  I prayed they hadn’t already sold out all their rooms.

At the Osseo Motel, the unplowed parking lot was littered with cars stuckor spinning on the ice.  I got out and walked down the hill from the road to the motel office, the wind nearly picking me up off the ground with each step.  Inside the office, two desk clerks were doing their best for all of us stranded travelers.  I procured one of the last rooms.  The clerk was telling those behind me in line that the town had opened up the high school to house the stranded “refugees” from the storm.  Nobody knew when the interstate would be re-opened but the snow was predicted to stop by 6 am.  Meanwhile my husband had helped move several cars in the parking lot and shovel out some parking spaces.  Looking like the abominable snowman, his beard caked in snow and dragging our suitcase, my darling came through the door of the office.  We were safe. Snowed in at the less than romantic Osseo Motel.

The only food available was at the bar, where the football game and the weather were on the Tvs.  The tables were full, but there was a sense of comeraderie, as there is during most crises, and a young couple offered to share their table with us.  They said the burgers and fries were pretty good.  For the next hour we chatted and ate and made calls to those who needed to know our condition and plans.  Our daughter and son-in-law in St. Paul, once they’d told us that we were crazy, told us that everything in the Twin Cities was shut down tight - not even busses were running.  We agreed to meet Sunday afternoon if the roads were open.   Then we were ready to collapse in bed.  Unfortunately, the room was bare bones, 2 double beds, a small TV, a coat rack with a few bent hangers, and a tiny bathroom.  Despite lousy pillows and hard mattresses, it was warm, although the heater that provided that heat clanked loudly on and whooshed off about everry fifteen minutes all night.  The hamburger did not agree with me and I was up most of the night ,while my exhausted husband snored away.  I didn’t have my night time pills and my ear plugs were…you guessed it…in my medicine kit.  I was glad someone was getting some sleep anyway while I laid there listening to the wind whistling and howling ouside.

In the morning, the sun shone brightly and we could hear the sounds of many snowplows and snowblowers at work.  By the time we got our car ready to go, I still didn’t feel well and they still had not cleared much away in Stillwater, so we decided to head home.  The trip that had taken us 4 hours the day before, now took us the usual one and a half hours!  The B&B kept one night’s fee of our money and we were awfully disappointed, but happy to be back in our own beds Sunday night.  We used the free days to decorate our Christmas tree, wrap some presents, and do the last of our local shopping.  And now, as my mother-in-law always used to say, we had a good story to tell at our next dinner party!  And we sure don’t have to hope for a white Christmas.  We have 25 inches of it!   Above are some photos of the sights we saw during the December blizzard of 2010.

Scripture:
Isaiah 60:1-4 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look about you; all assemble and come to you.”
Matthew 5: 14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bushel. Instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven.”
John 1: 4,5,9 “In Jesus, the Word, was life and that life was the light of men. The light that shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. …The true light (Jesus Christ) that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”

 

The Hunt for the Christmas Star Part III

The old woman had dropped her cane and was frantically searching around along the sidewalk with her foot. Andy hurried over to help her. When he got close, he could see why she was trying to find her cane with her foot. She was blind. Blind people often used a red and white cane to let others know they couldn’t see.
“Your cane is right behind you, he called to the woman. I”ll get it.”
Andy picked up the cane and handed it to her.
“Thank you, dear,” said the woman, smiling. “I would have had a time of it trying to find my cane. I’m blind, you see. What’s your name?”
“I’m Andy,” he told her, “and I guess I can’t see so good either. I’ve been looking all day for a big, bright Christmas star and I can’t seem to find it. My mom said I’d find the Christmas star but not in the sky. It’s a mystery.”                                                                                                                                                       “Do you live in this building, Andy?”
“Yes, on the third floor. I live with my mom in apartment 304.”
“Perhaps you’d like to accompany me to my door. I live here too, in apartment 204. Just beneath you!”
“OK,” said Andy. “Just a minute. I have to go get my wagon.”   On the way inside, he told the lady the story of the star. She seemed very interested in his adventure. When the two got to the elevator, Andy held out Arnold to the woman. “Would you like to feel Arnold? He’s real soft.”
The woman took the teddy bear and cuddled him up against her wrinkled face. A tear ran down her cheek. “You know, Andy. You’re a very special little boy. I didn’t tell you my name.  It is Grace. Grace Horn, but you can call me Grace. I would sure like it if you came down to visit me. I have a cookie jar!”                                                                                                                                                                       ”If my mom says it’s OK, I’ll come tomorrow.” Andy grinned.
When the elevator door opened to the second floor, Grace and Andy said goodbye.

A very tired little boy parked his wagon outside apartment 304 and went inside with his teddy bear.
“Oh, Andy,” said Maggie. “I was just about to go out looking for you! Get those clothes off and come have some hot cocoa. I’ve been worried. What have you been doing all this time?”
“I’ve been looking for the Christmas star, Mommy. You know, like in the book you read to me. You said I would find it, but it wouldn’t be in the sky so I’ve been looking around the village.”
Maggie helped Andy pull off his boots. “Oh, Andy, honey. I didn’t expect you to stay out all day. You feel just like a little icicle.”
“Mom, I went everywhere in the village and it’s just not there. When am I going to find the Christmas star?”
Just then the doorbell rang. Maggie went to the door. Standing in the hall was a tall old man, a red-headed boy, a little girl and her mother, and a blind lady with a cane.
“Is this Andy’s home?” asked the old man.
“Why yes, it is. Andy, do you know these people?” Maggie asked.
Andy came to the door in his stocking feet. “Of course, Mom. They’re my new friends, Grace and Mr. Peterson and Joe and Katie and Katie’s mom.”
“Well, please come in, won’t you?” said Maggie.
“We came to tell Andy that we saw it!” Katie said with excitement.  The others nodded. 
“Saw what?” Maggie asked.
“We saw the star!” they all replied.
“Where? Oh where?” cried Andy. “Show it to me. I want to see it too!@”

Katie spoke first. “I saw the star by your mouth, Andy, when you said you liked me and wanted to be my friend when nobody else did.                                                                                                                          “And I saw it,@ said Mr. Peterson, Ain your ears when you listened to a lonely old man over lunch.”
“I saw it in your hands when you helped me deliver papers and gave me your mittens,” said Joe.
Then Andy looked at Grace. “How could you see the star, Grace? You’re blind.”
“Oh Andy, dear. I saw it brightest of all. I saw it in your heart.”
Maggie hugged Andy. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Won’t you all join us for some hot cocoa? I baked some cookies too. And guess what! They’re star shaped!” 

As Andy helped Maggie with the cocoa in the kitchen, she said, “Now I know what you been doing all day. It’s just like I told you. The star was not in the sky, Andy. But you found it just as I thought you would, in showing love to others.” She handed the tray of cookies to Andy. As he carried it in to his friends, Andy’s face shone - just like the Christmas star.
The End

Prayer: Thank you Heavenly father for sending us your Light and your Word in the flesh so that we could know Him and be indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Thank you for sending us a savior which was to all people. And dear Jesus, Happy Birthday! Amen

Scripture: “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star (Jesus Christ) rises in your hearts.” II Peter 1:19

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2

“The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16

The Hunt for the Christmas Star  Part II

Soon they came to a fir tree all covered in snow. Little birds were flying in and out of the branches. “Look,” said Andy. “It looks like a Christmas tree with bird ornaments on it!”
“It does, doesn’t it?” said Mr. Peterson. “Do you know the song, Oh, Christmas Tree?”
“We just finished learning it in my class at school,” said Katie.
“Gee, I don’t know it,” said Andy.
“Well, we’ll teach it to you,” Mr. Peterson said, as he pulled the wagon on down the sidewalk.
“Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree. How lovely are your branches…”  Soon Andy had picked up the tune and was singing along with Katie and Mr. Peterson.

The three new friends had moved on to singing Jingle Bells together when they came to building K. A boy about twelve years old was sitting on the front stoop beside a big stack of newspapers. “Look at that boy,” said Katie. “His clothes are all raggedy and he doesn’t have a hat or any mittens.”

“He sure looks cold and tired.” Andy added.
“By the way he is dressed, I imagine his family doesn’t have much money,” said Mr. Peterson.
“Let’s go ask him if he’s seen the Christmas star,” Andy said.

“Hi there. I’m Andy. This is Katie and Mr. Peterson and my teddy bear, Arnold. We’re looking for the Christmas star. What’s your name?”
“Joe. But I don’t have time to look for any kind of star. I have to earn as much money as I can delivering these newspapers.”
“But why aren’t you delivering them? Is something wrong?” Katie said.
“I’ll say,” Joe answered. “I usually take them in the basket on my bike, but it’s too icy to ride it. If I don’t deliver these before three o’clock, I won’t get paid. My mom and sister and I need the money. I tried carrying the papers but they got too heavy. And besides, I’m about frozen out here! I don’t know what to do.”  Joe looked awfully discouraged.

Mr. Peterson, Katie and Andy all looked at each other and then at the wagon.
Mr. Peterson winked at the children. “We have an idea,” he said.
“Yeah,” said Andy. “How about if we help you? We can pile the papers in the wagon and you can show us where to take them.”
“With four of us working together we’ll be done in no time,” said Katie.
“And we can search for the star on the way,” Andy said. “Someone must have seen it.”
“I guess that would work,” said Joe. “Gee, thanks.”
“Andy,” said Mr. Peterson. “Aren’t two pair of mittens making your hands too warm? ”  Andy looked at Mr. Peterson puzzled but then he understood.
“I guess they are kind of sweaty. Here Joe. Take my extra pair of mittens. Your hands are all red. You can’t deliver newspapers when your hands are freezing.”
Joe smiled. “Okay, sure. Thanks!” He pulled on the mittens and began to load the wagon with papers. Everyone pitched in and they were soon on their way.

“Hey, Andy,” said Joe as they walked along. “What’s the story with this Christmas star you’re looking for? You’re not going to see any stars in the daytime.”
In between their running papers to each of Joe’s customer’s doors, Andy managed to tell Joe the story. Before long, the wagon was empty and Joe wasn’t cold or discouraged anymore. The group had been everywhere in the apartment village, all of the papers had been delivered, but they hadn’t met anyone who had seen the Christmas star. The sun was getting lower in the sky.
“I have to go and get my paper money now,” said Joe. “You guys are really great. Thanks a lot! If I find the star, I’ll let you know, kid. Good luck!”
“Bye, Joe!” they said. “Merry Christmas!”

“Andy, why the sad face?” said Mr. Peterson.
“We’ve been everywhere,” said Andy, “and I still haven’t seen the star. I have to go home soon.”
“Me too,” said Katie.
“I know you’re disappointed Andy, but I have a sneaky feeling you’re going to find the star any time now. Let’s head back.”
They passed a toy store and the candy shop all lit up with colorful lights and decorations, but no star. The moon had risen. Soon it would be dark. Andy thought Arnold must be getting awfully cold. Maybe he should look for the star tomorrow. He sure wished he knew what the star looked like.  Maybe they had passed by it and didn’t even know it!  Soon they came to Mr. Peterson’s building. “Thank you for a wonderful day, children,” he said. “I think I’ll go inside and put up my Christmas tree after all.”
“That’s great, Mr. Peterson!” said Andy. “See you later!”

Andy and Katie arrived next at her building. “Bye, Andy. I had fun even if we didn’t find your star. Next week is Christmas vacation. Maybe we could play together then.”
“Okay,” said Andy. “Bye, Katie. Merry Christmas!”

As Andy reached his apartment building, he noticed an old lady walking along the sidewalk from the other direction with a red and white cane. Suddenly, some big boys ran out of the building. As they rushed past the old woman, she dropped her cane.

*********************************************** Next week the conclusion to the story.

Prayer:
O Lord, who came to us beneath a special natal star to bring us eternal life, may we who have you living in our hearts, share the light of your gospel with those who are living in darkness this Christmas season. Amen

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO BUSY MOMS

By Cathy Conger  (based on a poem on the internet by an unknown author)

 

T’was the night before Christmas.  All through the abode

only one creature stirred, as she cleaned the commode.

The children were sleeping, at last, in their beds,

while Barbies and DVDs danced through their heads.

 

Her husband was snoring beside the TV,

a bicycle assembly kit propped on his knee.

So only the mom heard the reindeer hooves clatter,

and she sighed to herself, “Now what could be the matter?”

 

With toilet bowl brush nervously clutched in her hand,

she descended the stairs where she spied the old man.

He had ashes and and snow from his head to his foot,

which he tracked `cross the rug, leaving boot prints of soot.

 

 He jumped. “You surprised me, but I’m glad you’re awake.”

“Just look at my rug,” she said. “Give me a break!”

“But madam, I’m Santa. I come bearing gifts.”

 ”Look, I just want some `me-time’(and perhaps a face-lift).”

 

 “You know. FREE TIME. I just need a few hours alone!”

“Exactly!” he chuckled, “So, I’ve made you a clone.”

“A clone?” she retorted, “Now, this I must see.

Come on, Santa.  What good would a clone be to me?”

 

Then in walked the clone - the young mother’s twin!

Same hair-do, same eyes, same glasses, same chin.

“She will cook, she will dust, she will mop every mess.

You’ll relax. Take a break, honey. Santa knows best.”

 

“Fantastic!” mom cheered. “My dream has come true!”

I can shop, I can read, I can sleep a night through!”

Then from upstairs the youngest did whimper and fret.

“Mommy!  Come quickly! I’m scared and I’m wet.”

 

The clone rose up sweetly and called, `Coming, dear.’

“She’s amazing.  Thanks, Santa!” said mom with good cheer.

The clone changed the small one and hummed her a tune.

Then the child she had blanketed in a cocoon

gazed up in her face and said, “I love you best.”

The clone smiled and whispered, “And so do the rest.”

 

 Mom’s eyes glared. “Whoa, Santa. I’m sorry, no deal!”

That’s my child’s affection she’s trying to steal.”

“Ho, Ho, Ho, “ said wise Santa. “I believe it is clear.

Come along, clone. They only need one mother here.”

 

The mom kissed her youngest and tucked her in bed.

Then she turned and thanked Santa for clearing her head.

 “I sometimes forget, it won’t be very long,

 till they’ll all be too old for my cuddle and song.”

 

The grandfather clock started twelve times to chime.

Santa laughed to himself, “Ha! It works every time.

Everything here’s going to work out all right.

“Merry Christmas to moms and to all a good night.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Sometimes we need reminding of what life is all about.  So stop for a moment and hug that special child, whether he or she is 6 months or 60 years, for they are the Gift that God gave us in life. What a gift to be treasured, far above any other! 

May the real meaning of CHRISTMAS be with you this year.

 

When my children were small, I used to read a Christmas story to them about a little boy and a search for the Christmas star. Unfortunately, I lost the book long ago and cannot remember the title. I recall the gist of the story though. Based on that, I have written a brand new Christmas story called The Hunt for the Christmas Star. For this week’s D-mail and the ones for the next two weeks, I would like to share this story with you. When you collect all three parts, I hope you will want to share it with the children in your world. Enjoy!
************************************************************************
The Hunt for the Christmas Star Part I

Maggie Olson slid open the door to her third floor balcony and stepped out. Instantly, she wrapped her arms around herself. “Wow! It’s freezing out here,” she said to herself. In the courtyard below, she spied her son, Andy, playing in the fresh, December snow. She couldn’t help smiling. All bundled up in his red, puffy snowsuit and the green dinosaur hat her mother had knit him, her six-year-old looked so cute.
“Andy,” she called down to him. “You’d better come in now, honey. You’ve been out there for hours. It’ll be dark soon.”
Andy looked up from the ball of snow he was industriously rolling across the courtyard.
“But Mom, my snowman still needs a head.”
“The snowman will be there in the morning. Come on in and get warm. I made lasagna for dinner - your favorite.”

After dinner and his bath, Andy trotted out in his footie pajamas to sit by the Christmas tree. He loved to turn all the lights out and watch the colored lights on the tree twinkle in the dark room. Maggie finished folding laundry and sat down beside him.
“Aren’t Christmas lights awesome, Mom? They look like colored stars.”
“One of my favorite things about Christmas, for sure,” she said. “speaking of which - how would you like me to read you the new book Grandma sent?”
“Can you read it with the lights off?”
“You’re silly. But I bet I could read it by flashlight. How about that?”
“Okay,” Andy said, jumping up. “You get the flashlight. I’ll get the book.” In a minute, Maggie was pulling Andy close to her on the couch. She began to read,

Long, long ago three kings from a faraway land saw a new star in the sky. What a big star it was! It shone more brightly than any other star. The kings packed up their camels and set out to follow the star. After a long journey, the star led them to a town called Bethlehem. There they found a new king named Jesus. They brought him rich gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh because he was the Savior of the word and brought great joy to their lives.

“Mommy,” Andy interrupted. “Let’s go out on the balcony right now and see the stars. I want to see the big, bright one!” He ran to the door and slid it open. Maggie grabbed her shawl from the couch and followed. The sky was dotted with millions of twinkling specks, but none in particular shone much brighter than any other, nor was one especially bigger than any other.
“Mommy, where is the Christmas star that the three kings saw?”
“If you keep looking, Andy, you’ll find the Christmas star someday. But it won’t be in the sky,” Maggie said. “Now let’s get you into your nice, warm bed. Tomorrow you have a snowman to finish.”
Lying in bed, Andy thought about what his mother had said. It was puzzling. What sort of star is not in the sky? Maybe tomorrow he would go looking for this mysterious star.

The next morning, after breakfast, Andy put his long underwear on under his warmest clothes. Next he pulled on his red snowsuit, extra socks inside his boots, two pairs of mittens, and his green dinosaur hat.
“Gracious,” Maggie said. “Where are you heading, the North Pole? The sun is out. I don’t think you’ll need so many clothes.”
“I might be outside a long time, Mom,” Andy said. “I’m going to walk all over to hunt for the Christmas star and I don’t want to get cold.”
“Oh. I see. Well, just remember our rule. You’re not to go beyond the apartment village. Understand?”
“I know. I’m going to take my wagon. Could I take a peanut butter sandwich and my juice bottle in case I get hungry?”
“All right. I’ll make you a sandwich. Your juice is in the…” But Andy had dashed down the hall to his room. He dug through the bedcovers until he found what he was looking for - his teddy bear, Arnold. How could he go on such an important adventure without his best friend? Andy put Arnold and his lunch in the wagon and kissed his mother goodbye.

The elevator door opened to the lobby and out came Andy, pulling his red, Radio-Flyer wagon. He was so bundled up that he walked like a penguin. Outside, the snow sparkled in the sunshine. Andy could see his breath in the frosty air. “Now”, he thought, “where should I start looking for the Christmas star?”

On the corner next to the apartment village stood the church he and Maggie attended each week. It was where he had heard many stories about Jesus. Maybe he would see the star there. But when he reached the church, the windows were dark and the doors closed. No star at the church. So Andy and Arnold moved on.

As he rounded the corner, he saw a little girl about his size sitting on the steps of Building A. She was crying. Andy looked around. No one was around, so he dropped the handle of his wagon and walked over to her.
“What’s the matter?” he asked. “Are you lost?”
“No. I live in this building. A bunch of the other girls that live here were going to the park to play. I was going too, but they said they didn’t want to play with me. Nobody likes me!” she sobbed.
“I like you,” Andy said. “My name is Andy. I live down there in Building H. I’m on an adventure to find the Christmas star. Want to come?”
“What’s the Christmas star?” she asked.
“It’s the star that shows the way to Jesus. Jesus likes you. He likes everybody!” Then Andy told her the story of the three kings and the Christmas star and what his mother had said about it not being in the sky.
“I’d like to go with you, but I have to ask my mom first. My name is Katie. Come upstairs with me and we’ll ask her.” Andy left his wagon by the steps and followed Katie to her apartment. There he told Katie’s mother about the three kings and the star… “so my mom said I could find the star, but it wouldn’t be in the sky. I’m on an adventure to find it.”
Katie’s mother smiled. “Well, Andy, your mother is very wise. I hope you find your star. I guess Katie can go with you too, but don’t leave the apartment village. Understand?”
“We know,” said the children as they waved goodbye. With Arnold riding in the wagon behind them, Andy and Katie continued down the sidewalk in search of the star. And Katie’s tears were all gone.

Soon the children came to a bench in the courtyard of the apartment village where an old man sat all alone.
“He looks lonely,” said Katie.
“He looks really old too,” Andy added. “I’ll bet he’s seen the star some time or other. Let’s go ask him.” They walked over to the bench.
“Hello,” said Katie. “You look lonely.” Katie and Andy climbed up on the bench on either side of the old man. Andy said,
“I’m Andy and she’s Katie. We live in this apartment village. What’s your name?” The old man looked at the children in surprise. He wasn’t used to children chattering to him. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t used to talking to anyone.
“The name’s Peterson. I live in Building C. I’ve never seen you children before. What are you up to today?” Andy told Mr. Peterson the story of the three kings and the Christmas star and what his mother had said about not finding it in the sky.
“Well now. I’ve seen a lot of things in my day, but I’ve never seen two children quite like you.” He found himself chuckling. “And I’ve never heard of looking for a star in the middle of the day.”
“Would you like to come with us?” Andy asked.
“I don’t know, son. I came out here to eat my lunch.”
“We’ll eat with you,” Andy said. My lunch is in my wagon. Katie, you can share with me.” He hopped down and fetched his lunch from the wagon.
Mr. Peterson smiled as he opened his lunch bag.
“This is nice, isn’t it?” he said, taking a bite of his bologna sandwich. “I guess when we’re finished, I’ll walk along with you for a ways. I believe I’ve been looking for a star like this one you’ve been hunting ever since my wife, Elizabeth, passed on. I’ll tell you something. I miss her every day.” As the three munched on their sandwiches, Andy said,
“Mr. Peterson, would you tell us about when you were a boy like me. Did you eat peanut butter sandwiches too?”
“Sure did. Let me see. That was a long time ago.” Then Mr. Peterson told them a funny story from when he was a boy until their lunches were all gone.

“You know, my nose is froze!” Mr. Peterson laughed. “I think we’d better get going if we’re going to find that star. Why don’t you two get in the wagon and I’ll pull you. I need the exercise.” So, with Mr. Peterson pulling the wagon, the three of them went on with their adventure. And Mr. Peterson didn’t look so lonely anymore.
Soon they came to a fir tree all covered in snow. Little chirping birds flew in and out of the branches. “Look,” said Andy. “It looks like a Christmas tree with birds for ornaments!”
“Indeed it does,” laughed Mr. Peterson. “It reminds me of a Christmas song. I don’t suppose you two know the song, O, Christmas Tree, do you ?”

Part II next week!!

After several times of re-writing and editing The Birthday of a King, the Christmas story I wrote last year,  and choosing illustrations, my plan was to self-publish it.  I was all ready to send it to the printing site when I discovered that I could not get permission to use several of the photographs I had included for illustration.  RATS!!!  I had hoped to announce the publication and sale of the book this week on this site.  I did have a few test printed and it looks great.  So, as soon as I can find alternative illustrations, I will get it published.  Stay tuned.

 Mr. Dickens, You’re On Your WAY!
Just saw the news that Oprah’s latest book club pick is (drum roll please) A Tale of Two Cities & Great Expectations.  I thought,

Hold on to your hat, Mr. Dickens. Your literary career is about to…  no, wait.

THE FULLNESS OF TIME

The first Christmas was perfectly timed. Galations 4: 4-5 says, “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law.” What was the “fullness of time”? It was God’s sovereign timing. He ordered world events so everything was ready for Christ’s coming and the subsequent outreach of the apostles.

Looking back at the early church, we are amazed at how quickly the gospel spread - in less than a century. The sovereign hand of God is clearly evident. Christ’s advent could not have been better timed. Politically, the Roman Empire was at its height. Rome had given the world good roads, a relatively fair system of government, and most of all, peace. For the first time in history, people could travel with relative ease almost anywhere in the empire- - and the apostles could carry the gospel message to the uttermost parts of the world.

Culturally, the world was becoming more unified than ever before. More people than ever were being educated, and most of them knew Greek or Latin. Even the common people usually spoke Koine Greek, the dialect that the New Testament was written in.

Spiritually, the world was diverse, but open. Greek and Roman polytheism were gradually being replaced by rational and secular philosophies, or by emperor worship. Among the Jews, a renewed interest in the Scriptures was leading to a revival on the one hand, typified by the ministry of John the Baptist, and a strong movement among the Pharisees on the other. Christ could not have arrived on the scene at a more opportune time. It was the perfect time, sovereignly determined by God -”the fullness of the time.”

Prayer
Once again, Lord, you have shown us your perfect timing. We are awed by the way you can order events down to the tiniest details in order to put your will into place. Thank you for sending your Word in the flesh to be among men and women on earth to preach and teach and show us your will and your love. Amen