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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

The Day Our Goldfish Committed Suicide

Again and again we had saved our fish, Lowell,
who continually threw himself out of his bowl.
We thought that our fish
must have had a death wish,
for despite all our pleading,
he came close to succeeding.

Then one day, in a wink,
he leaped into the sink,
flopped around on his side
just as though he had tried!
We were too late to save him
so a funeral gave him.

`Twas a gray day indeed
but his wishes we’d heed.
We placed our dear Lowell
in a different bowl,
gathered round in a hush,
bid farewell with a flush.

But we’ll never forget
our finned friend from the wet
and the way that he died,
from fish suicide.

Mary’s response to the message that she would bear the savior was a remarkable song of praise, sometimes known as the Magnificat (Luke 2:46-55). It begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord,” which means that because God’s announcement opened her heart him in a way that she couldn’t have imagined, her soul was beginning to grasp the bigness of God.

I remember the first time I looked through a telescope at the open sky on a cold winter evening. When I pointed it at the half-lit moon, I was stunned as it came into focus-to see mountains and plains, unlike the picture books I was used to, but the real thing in real time. An ethereal, bright disk hanging in the sky was now a real place to me. The telescope magnified its reality. The moon didn’t increase, but my comprehension of it did.

Sometimes human beings look at God as if he were a distant point of light. But when we take his word into consideration, and if we accept it by faith, our perspective changes drastically. We see that we are living in a greater reality, with a greater God than we had imagined, and with greater possibilities in our future.

Mary knew her life would never be the same-not just her life, but the lives of countless others-because of what God was going to do. This stretched her soul, and it can stretch ours.

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.

This comes from Ron Hutchcraft and I thought it was very good.

It’s time to wash the bathrobes again - for the boys to wear in the Christmas pageant. Like thousands of boys at Christmastime, I, too, was drafted into being one of those shepherds. I’m not sure my bathrobe got washed any other time of the year actually. Not to be petty, but I always thought the guys playing the wise men had a better deal. They got to wear some fancy clothes, and they had something to give to Baby Jesus when they came - I think we used to call it gold, frankenstein, and myyrh. But not us shepherds. Oh, no! Since the Bible doesn’t describe any specific gift the shepherds brought, we came empty handed. I thought we looked a little cheap. But I’ve learned something since then.

What the shepherds gave Jesus must have meant far more to Him than any treasure the wise men brought. It’s a gift that is within your power to give - but one that all too few of His followers ever offer Him.

Our Christmas word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 2 , beginning with verse 15. The shepherds have just gotten heaven’s birth announcement from the angelic choir. They know the baby they’re going looking for is “the Savior … Christ the Lord.” The Bible then goes on to say: “The shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’” The shepherds, of course, found the baby in the manger as announced. And then, “when they had seen Him, they spread the word about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”

Well, there it is - the great gift the shepherds gave Jesus - the gift He wants from you. They told people who hadn’t met Jesus about their Savior. They seemed to understand instinctively that when you “come and see” Jesus for yourself, then you “go and tell” about Him to people who have not seen Him. And if you belong to Jesus, my guess is that there are a number of people in your personal world who have yet to see or hear who Jesus really is. You can’t imagine one day without Jesus. They’ve never lived one day with Jesus. When Jesus sent someone to tell you the good news about a Savior who had come here for you, He didn’t mean for you to just “go and hoard it” or “go and sit on it” - He’s trusted you to go and tell it to someone you know whose eternity depends on it.

We tend to think that communicating Jesus is something we delegate to a “pro” - a pastor, an evangelist, someone with all the training. But the plan of Jesus was evident from the day He arrived - that everyday believers be the ones to tell people about Him. Who could have been more everyday than cultural rejects like shepherds? But they were the first spiritual rescuers that ever spread the life-saving news about the Savior. And there’s only one way every unbeliever is going to have a chance at Jesus, or a chance at heaven, and that’s if every one of us believers becomes a rescuer. Your commitment to Jesus that you will do whatever it takes to bring some people He died for to heaven with you - that’s a gift that will bring Him incredible joy.
Jesus says He wants to trade our bondages for freedom, our mourning for comfort, our ugly ashes for something beautiful, and our despair for praise. And liberation from so much that’s dark in life is rooted in wearing that garment of praise, no matter what situation we’re in. Praise can set you free from discouragement, self-pity, frustration, bitterness, even grief. And, on any given day, there’s always something to praise Him for.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. - Luke 2:6

On the night before Jesus was born, the shepherds would have seen the night sky the way they had seen it thousands of times before. That was a quiet night, in stark contrast to the following night, when an angel would appear with “the glory of the Lord,” announcing the birth of the child-then join with a great company of heavenly beings proclaiming glory and peace.

On the night before Christmas, in the year 1968, three men looked into the night sky also, but from an entirely different perspective. Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders, the crew of Apollo 8, were further away from the earth than any human had ever been. It was the first time a spacecraft had broken earth’s orbit and ventured out one quarter of a million miles to orbit the moon. In an historic broadcast on that Christmas Eve, the astronauts beamed back to earth a video picture of a small blue disk, the earth, and spoke of the “vast loneliness” of space. Then, their voices crackled over the radio: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless
and void; and darkness was over the face of the deep.”

There, on that small blue circle, the entire drama of human history has unfolded: the Creation, the Fall, war, exploration, feast and famine, marriage and divorce, birth and death. And to that blue circle God came, at just the right time, to begin to make things right in the human race.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, Christmas Eve is a time when we approach that dividing line in human history, the doorway from BC to AD, the revolution begun by the Son of God’s entry into the world. Sometimes you know when you’re on the eve of something big (your wedding, moving to a new home, adopting a child), and sometimes you don’t. Every Christmas Eve we know we are about to mark the moment when Immanuel came.

So on the night before Christmas, find a quiet moment when you can think about what was about to happen in Bethlehem so many years ago. Think about all the ways you need someone to be your savior-someone who has the strength, the wisdom, the virtue, that you know you cannot come up with on your own.


That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. - 1 John 1:1-2

The Beginning. How much we all want to know about the beginning of all things, in order to understand the now of all things, and to pursue the way things are supposed to be in our lives today. The original design must be the ideal, the way things ought to be. The Bible’s opening words: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” delineate between a time in which there was only God, and a new time in which his magnificent creation began (Gen. 1:1).

The opening words of the Gospel of John place the Son of God right there-at the beginning: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

Unlike any other birth, the birth of Jesus was not the beginning of a new life. Rather, one who was there in The Beginning, appeared among his creation through his birth. “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (1 John 1:1-2). This appearance was no dream or vision or apparition, it was an extended visitation, a flood of revelation, an appearance of the Everlasting in terrestrial form, a real life.

“The life appeared.” It was heard; it was seen; it was felt. Bethlehem was not the beginning of the life of Christ, and that’s why his life can change our lives. Jesus said: “Before Abraham was born, I AM.”

“I AM”: I always was, I am now, and I will always be. That is why he can connect us with our original purpose.

God reached out to the human race in a new way in Bethlehem. Whereas in the past God spoke through the words of prophets, a new channel of God’s communication was opened in Bethlehem. God “has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Heb. 1:2-3).

So Christmas is about the good beginning (Genesis 1), and it is about the rescue of the now (John 1). That means that Jesus will help us regain everything that a human life was supposed to be in the first place-a real relationship with God, real wisdom, real character, real virtue. He intends to restore the image of God in our humanness.

They went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. - Matthew 2:9-10

In Psalm 19, David gives voice to the stars:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Vss. 1-4)

If you have ever stood outside at night and looked up at the canopy of stars, away from the city, away from noise, you may have seen that the stars have a message. In silence they speak, and their voice is thunderous.

The star of Bethlehem, a sign in the sky noted by the Magi, may have been a miraculous event, matching the miraculous entry of the Savior into the world, or it may have been a natural astronomical phenomenon, used by God as a sign. In either case, the heavens were speaking in a unique way about a unique world-changing event. Should that come as any surprise?

But note that only the observant recognized the sign, and in this case, they were outsiders. God drew outsiders toward Bethlehem with a word that he had placed in the sky. Don’t ever doubt that God is speaking to the “outsider,” and that those who seek will find. Christmas is both for believers, and for those who have yet to come to faith. In those days, it was a celestial sign that attracted the attention of outsiders. Today, there are many signs that Jesus accomplished something unique in the world, acts arise out of and point to his holy character.


The word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. - John 1:14

Not only did the Son of God become a baby, but also he became flesh. Divinity joined to corporeal muscle, blood and bones. In this humbling of the eternal Son of God, the Word who was with God from the beginning and was God, chose to begin in the way all flesh does-as a newborn.

But what does “flesh” really mean? Doesn’t it sound a bit crass?

In the Bible, the word “flesh” points to a number of different realities. Literally, it means “the body,” the tissues and bones and fluids that are common to any human being living anywhere in the world at any time. The body is the jar of clay in which God has placed treasures. Consequently, at another level, “flesh” can mean “humanity” or “human nature.” To speak of “flesh and blood” refers to the humanness that you share with your family, friends, and people you’ve never met. And at a different level, “flesh” can mean “fallen, flawed, human.” “The flesh” is shorthand in Paul’s epistles for intrinsic human nature-broken and fallible. But there is one exception. One human life that was not
flawed and full of sin-Jesus’.

“The word became flesh.” It means that the Son of God became human-really, truly human-with the exception that he had no sin. Christmas is a time of awe because the best news the human race ever received was that its Creator had so much love, that he joined the human race to save it. He is a savior who experienced real hunger, real fatigue, real sorrow. He faced temptation when the Evil One tempted him in the wilderness with very “fleshy” things like power, wealth, and authority (Luke 4:1-13).

Jesus knows us, because he was one of us. Real flesh, but perfect. So on those days when we are so disappointed with ourselves because we are having a hard time controlling the flesh, this is the kind of savior to turn to.


Jesus Messiah

Jesus Messiah,

Star of the morning,

Light in our darkness,

Immanuel

Souls who are weary

find strength in His power,

the hope for the helpless,

Prince of peace

Jesus Messiah,

Born for all nations,

the ransom for sinners,

Christ the Lord

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Time to Say Farewell

On this Thanksgiving week I would like to share with you how thankful I am for the privilege of writing D-mails for you each week for these many years. I have always tried to prayerfully create a devotion that meets you where you live and helps you to grow spiritually. I know I have grown spiritually by researching the topics and reading the many, many scriptures God has led me to write about. When I began this endeavor, I set out with the idea of writing more in depth devotions than the usual daily type devotions that are published. I know that many times the D-mails were long, but that is part of why they were unique among devotionals. I also tried to write devotions that addressed current events and issues and I hope that was something you liked. Obviously, I loved writing D-mails. However, it took from 4-6 hours to research and compose each one. Over the last 6 months, I have been seeking God about bringing this season of my life to a close and I feel that the time has come to move on to something else.

So I must say farewell. If D-mail were to continue, God would have to raise up someone new to write them. Perhaps He has already been nudging one of you to write a D-mail now and then, but you haven’t felt the time was right or you have felt uncomfortable doing so. If that is you, please pray about it and consider being the new D-mail writer. Let me know if you’d like to continue this ministry and I will be glad to give advice and some supervision at the beginning if you wished. I will miss communicating with you. Change is always uncomfortable and it will seem strange not to be looking for a D-mail topic each week! May God bless you richly and keep you strong in the faith.

Love, Cathy