Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Jubilation Of Winter

Emily Dickinson

I counted till they danced so
Their slippers leaped the town,
And then I took a pencil
To note the rebels down.
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig,
And ten of my once stately toes
Are marshalled for a jig!
Country Lane   Marsing  Idaho

Up Close And Beautiful

Winter Calm On The Snake River

Looking Heavenward

Delicate Jewel

Pompom Splendor

Hidden Icy Brook

Feathery Plumes

God's Masterpiece

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cookies, Hot Chocolate, And A Christmas Poem
One of our special Idaho friends is a  talented man in woodwork, leather, welding, knowledge of rocks and minerals, and cooking, but especially in friendship and kindness.  We REALLY like him!
I had made some Hungarian cookies for Christmas.  One two inch circle of  rolled cookie dough receives a teaspoon of jam,  is immediately topped with another two inch dough circle, baked, and then dusted with powdered sugar!
When we called him to set up a time for cookie delivery, he suggested we top it off with some hot chocolate at his home on Christmas Eve. Enclosed in his Christmas card was a touching Christmas poem about SPECIAL friendship.
When another family joined us at his house, he asked the man to read the poem out loud to all of us.  It was a touching moment, indeed. There's something about Christmas Eve that seems to get right into the fibers and sinews of our emotion and spirituality.
While family is the MOST special, no question, friendhip is up there also in terms of precious possessions!

"I have a list of folks I know, all written in a book,
And every year at Christmas time I go and take a look.

Never think my Christmas cards are just mere routine,
Of names upon a Christmas list forgotten in between.
For when I send a Christmas card that is addressed to you,
It's because you are on that list of folks I am indebted to;

For you are but a total of the many folks I've met,
And you happen to be one of those I prefer not to forget.
And whether I have known you for many years or few,
In some way you have had a part in shaping the things I do.

And every year when Christmas comes I realize anew,
The biggest gifts that life can give is meeting folks like you."

Christmas Away From Home
Being raised American and Christian, it is very difficult to celebrate Christmas without family.  Imagine what it would have been like years ago with the only communication being via letter.  Amidst all the blessings of modern life, I would rank high tech communications as one blessing for which I am most grateful.

In short, it was a great blessing to touch bases with our family on Christmas Day, one of the most special days of the entire year!

A couple who were recently baptized into the church invited us and the Tongan Sister Missionaries to both Thanksgiving AND Christmas dinner.  We are VERY grateful for their hospitality. 

We love the faith and enthusiasm of our young Tongan sisters.
Norm and Christine    Christmas 2013

Our Gracious Hosts    

Our Special Tongan Sister Missionaries  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Titles of Respect and Honor

The respect we show to others in terms of tiles has, in general, come down a notch or two from when I was a child. For example, I would never dream of calling my aunts or uncles by their first names.  Nor would I ever have called my mom or dad by their first names.

Times have changed and some people prefer the familiarity that comes from eliminating these titles.

Our mission president, President Cannon, asked that we, as missionaries, underline every reference to Deity we could find in the Book of Mormon.He gave each of us a soft back copy of the Book of Mormon and said he wanted the task completed by December 18th, the date of our next Zone Conference. I decided to also write all the titles of Deity I could find in the front of my Book of Mormon.

The titles of respect and honor for Our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon, as well as in the Holy Bible, are many.  While all the titles are sacred, the titles listed below really touched my heart and brought special meaning to my mind.

The Eternal Father of Heaven
A God of Miracles
Christmas Christmas Everywhere
The Caldwell Train Depot was dressed in her brightest Christmas colors this past Thursday evening.  Evergreen garlands with large red bows cradled the windows and archways, an elegant dessert bar graced the serving tables, and the chamber orchestra had us enjoying, applaluding, singing, and laughing! 

The sparkling colors from Caldwell's Winter Wonderland display peeked through the windows as miriad nativity sets reminded us of the true reason for our joyousness. Two of these nativity sets were ours and are special to us as they are the nativity sets
I felt that I was in the midst of the grandest of circumstances and truly celebrating the season in style!

Norm's Christmas present, a watercolor print of the Caldwell Train Depot in 1906, was purchased for our downstairs Grandpa's Train Room.

Christine At The Caldwell Train Station With Two Of Our Nativity Scenes And Our Three Kings Statue

Our Snowman Nativity
For Us, This Was The Most Beautiful Nativity Displayed.
The Owner Explained That She Bought It At A Yard Sale!

Caldwell's City Christmas Light Extravaganza Is Reflected Through The Train Depot's Windows
Ice Crystal Delight
Sounds like a dessert, doesn't it?
For nearly three days or more, the temperatures remained below freezing rendering an ice crystal wonderland all around Caldwell and environs.  While the beauty in the city was stunning, the beauty in the countryside was breathtaking!  What a joy to behold and an even greater joy to partake of.
Dark Brown Tree Trunks and Branches Against Pure White Ice Crystals

A Grand Old Tree Displays Large Feathery Pmpoms Of Grandeur

Winter Morning Splendor Graces The Snowy Owyhee Mountains

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Santa Claus And Marriage Vows
Picture Friday, December 20, 1974.  A young couple was busy preparing for a winter trip to from Sacramento, California to Casper, Wyoming.  With a few clothing items and toiletries hastily packed in suitcases and a 1959 Volkswagon Bug with heater not working,
they intended to make a life defining decision to get married that very night in Reno, Nevada of all places!

That young couple was us!  But, wait a second, we couldn't begin the journey until Norm had played Santa Claus at the old James Marshall School in downtown Sacramento!
Once that was completed and the Santa Claus suit was put away, we were ready to begin our trip to Reno.  Preparations had been made for Don and Cherie Keele, Norm's friends who had introduced him to the LDS church, to contact their bishop and make arrangements for a marriage ceremony.

Who would think that a simple ceremony in an LDS Meetinghouse in a Relief Soceity Room, not even the chapel, would be so precious, sacred, and memorable.  Well, strange things DO happen and that is exactly what happned that night.  It happened in the most humble and unpretentious of circumstances, but, for us, no royal wedding ceremony of pomp and circumstance could equal our happiness on that most special of nights!

Afterwards, the Keeles treated us to an Italian dinner. With that completed, we drove to Winnemucca, Nevada where we spent our first night as newlyweds.  The next day it was off to Casper where I met my new mother-in-law and my new brother and sister-in-law.

Fast forward to last night, December 20, 2013, when we celebrated our 39th Wedding Anniversary with our love for each other way stronger than on that wedding night 39 years earlier.

I always say when something good occurs, we should celebrate it to the hilt because who knows what could be lurking around the corner.  So celebrate we did with our traditional cards to each other, a snowy night, and a fine dinner at the Outback.

Now it's off and running for our 40th year!
Matches, Streets Of New York, And A Precious Child
For those of you out there who look for a favorite story to read each Christmas,
may I suggest The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson?

A glimpse, and more, of love, dedication, purity, and devotion will call out to you.
Also present, in the shadows, fear, cruelty, and poverty will raise their ugly hands ominously towards you.

Miraculous scenes of true Christmas joy will beckon you.
The climax of triumph and exaltation will overcome you.

What a masterpiece of sorrow and joy!

Consider giving this one a read. 
Who knows, it may become YOUR favorite Christmas story!
Good Tidings Of Great Joy
"And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
A Planet Or A Star?
A mother of an eight year old son told us that during this Christmas season when she sees Venus shining brightly in the night sky, she points to it and explains to her son that this star is like the Star of David or the Star of Bethlehem!

Sounds good to me!  

As I gazed at Venus last night, I thought of Our Saviors's birth in Bethlehem and the dawning of good tidings, indeed, for all men and women everywhere.  Good tidings are available for us of faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance for our sins and imperfections,  baptism, and the great gift of the Holy Ghost. Not the least among these good tidings is the supernal gift of prayer which "shall suffice for thy daily walk; even unto the end of thy life."
Doctrine and Covenants 19:32

Who says this isn't a season of good tidings of great joy?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Where Were The Snowplows?
Granted it only snowed about an inch and a half on Saturday morning 12/7/13, but where were the snowplows? Not on the interstate, residential neighborhoods, or the main thoroughfare between Caldwell and Nampa!  We were informed that snowplows are not brought out for such a light snow.
This differs quite drastically from Utah where  snowplows appear very early on after it snows.
Fifteen Mile Stretch Caldwell-Nampa Blvd. With Four Lanes

Old-Fashioned Town Nativity Scene
A few December evenings ago,  we were excited to see a lovely, old-fashioned town nativity scene as we entered Homedale, Idaho!
Such displays symbolize the faith, good will, and determination of the townspeople regardless of creed.
Homedale Idaho Nativity Scene

The Spirit Of Christmas
What a treasure the stained glass window below is as it depicts the various scenes of the nativity story complete with scripture verses!
Just like this exquisite stained glass window, the spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul.
LDS President Thomas S. Monson

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
The Story of Christmas is more than merely retelling the advent of a babe in Bethlehem. It is one of the seminal events in human history.
That babe in Bethlehem, born in a lowly manger, was Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world and the Son of God—our Redeemer.
Jesus Christ suffered and was crucified for the sins of the world, giving each of God’s children the gift of repentance and forgiveness. Only through His mercy and grace can we be saved. His subsequent resurrection prepared the way for every person to overcome physical death as well. These events are called the Atonement. In short, Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death. For that, he is very literally our Savior and Redeemer.
This season, we invite you to read the Christmas story anew with your family and friends. Look for the hope and meaning it can bring to your life.
We join with the angels of old as they announced the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to the shepherds: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:14
Small Simple Things
Phillips Brooks, an American man of distinction in the religious world, a graduate of Harvard, a friend to all races and creeds, was born in Boston, Massachusetts and died in Boston.
Despite his many, admired accomplishments, when I raised my eyes to study his inspiring statue in Boston, his worldly skills did not even enter my mind.

Rather, I, like I suppose most people, focused with pride on him as the American author of the words to one of our Christmas carols, O Little Town of Bethlehem.
There are three stanzas to his Christmas poem and I am so glad he didn't quit after the second stanza! 

The last line of the third stanza reads
"Where meek souls will receive Him still
The dear Christ enters in."

The glories of the world fade rather quickly when the humble in heart pierce our beings to the very soul with profound, but simple, easily understandable truths.
During this special season, let us take the opportunity  to close our eyes, pause for a brief moment, and humble ourselves before our Savior.
The result will be immediate, no doubt about it.  He surely will enter our hearts and souls creating in us a desire to serve His Father and ours, to recognize the needs of others, and to bless their lives throiugh devoted service.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Caldwell Christmas Lights Beckon The Beginning Of The Season

Merry Christmas 2013 From Sister And Elder Masters

Gearing Up For The Winter

Monday, December 2, 2013

Titles Of Honor and Respect
Times have changed and using titles of respect have come down a notch or two since I was a child.  For example, I would never dream of addressing my parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles with their first names.

Some people like  the change and feel the familiarity brings more opportunity for bonding.

Our mission president, President Cannon, gave the missionaries an assignment to read the Book of Mormon underlining all references to Deity. We were then given a copy of the Book of Mormon. I decided to also list all the titles of Deity I could find.

The references to Deity in the Book of Mormon, as well as in the Holy Bible, are many.  While they are all most sacred, the titles of Deity in the list below especially touch my heart and mind.

The Eternal Father Of Heaven
A God Of Miracles
Creator of All Things From The Beginning
Our Great And Everlasting God
A God Of Truth
The Eternal Judge Of Both Quick And Dead
Lord God Omnipotent
The God Of The Whole Earth

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ready, Set, Go!
Are you ready?  Pull out those Christmas lights and decorations!
Decorate the tree, set up the outdoor and indoor decor, put the wreath on the door, arrange those Christmas villages, pull out the Christmas recipes, and set up your nativity scene.
There are only 24 more days until Christmas.  Off we go!

Last Christmas 2012, I admired my sister Janette and brother-in-law Gary's nativity scene.
When asked why the wise men and the shepherds were so far away from the manger,
Gary explained that his mother always started off the season with the the wise men and shepherds quite far from the manger.

Each day preceeding Christmas, they were moved a bit closer until on Christmas Day they reached their destination.
What a great idea to visually prepare our hearts to welcome our Savior Jesus on this His most special day!