“Faith over Fear”, People of the Christmas Story: Joseph

Welcome back to today’s Time in the Word. We continue in our scripture study, which comes from Matthew 1:18-25. If you are reading this digitally, you can simply click on the highlighted text. Otherwise, I invite you to grab your bible and turn to Matthew 1:18-25.

We’re almost done with our discovery of how the people of the Christmas Story: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph- chose “Faith over Fear”. Would you trust God to lead you through a cultural and religious challenge?

The last character to round out our Christmas story is Joseph. For most of biblical history, Joseph remains pretty quiet. Here are a few facts about Joseph:

  • Joseph, like Mary, was thought to be between 12-16 years old
  • Faithful to the law
  • Considered “quietly divorcing” Mary when he found out she was pregnant
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Four Pound Cake

Image by tncarlos from Pixabay

Well, here we are. Four days before Christmas, and I was still wracking my brains as to what new dessert I should try for Christmas Day. Then it hit me. I love grilled pound cake with hot fudge, vanilla ice cream, and toasted pecans. BINGO! My usual Christmas desserts are pie or cheesecake. Neither of which you can go wrong with.

Since we are of low numbers in our household, it always needs to be something that can be frozen. I think the older you get, the less you can pack it in!

I, however, cannot simply just tell you I’m making pound cake; that would be rather dry. No. I thought it might be fun to take a quick ride in our “foodie” time machine and indulge in some pound cake history. So, hop in and buckle up. We are headed for the early 18th century in Nothern Europe.

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Favorite Christmas Recipes 2021

Christmas is here once again. The summer seemed to drag on and the fall was cut short. Thanksgiving rushed in, and then the quick descent to Christmas. It’s the one time of year the whole world pauses and reflects on Christmas.

As a child, I remember the joy and fun of Christmas. Between church and school, the singing of Christmas hymns and carols abounded. Crafts were made and stories told, all reflecting Christmas. Every year I am transported back in time to the fun and joy through food and music. Enjoy these recipes! If you missed last Christmas’s recipes, you can catch 2020 recipes here, and here.

Christmas Recipes

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“Faith over Fear”, People of the Christmas Story: Elizabeth

Welcome to today’s “Time in the Word”. We continue in our scripture study, which comes from Luke 1:23-26. If you are reading this digitally you can simply click on the highlighted text, otherwise, I invite you to grab your bible and turn to Luke 1. In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to discover how the people of the Christmas Story: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph chose “Faith over Fear”.

Last week’s devotional ended with a mute Zechariah heading home from his duties at the temple. The walk home gave him a great deal of time to think about his faith in God. The faith he lacked by asking the angel the “How?”, and the faith he was building in total silence. Have you ever trusted God for a miracle to happen?

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“Faith over Fear”, People of the Christmas Story: Mary

Welcome back to today’s Time in the Word. We continue in our scripture study, which comes from Luke 1:26-45. If you are reading this digitally, you can simply click on the highlighted text. Otherwise, I invite you to grab your bible and turn to Luke 1, picking up verses 26-45. We’re almost done with our discovery of how the people of the Christmas Story: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph- chose “Faith over Fear”.

Last week we met Elizabeth and joined her in her five-month seclusion. Elizabeth was overjoyed to be blessed with a pregnancy in her old age and took those five months to enjoy her gift. What a blessing her son will be to God’s people as we read the “He will’s”. If you missed last week’s devotional, you can pick it up here. How quickly do you say yes to God?

Mary

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How Great Our Joy

Advent Hymn #3 ~ How Great Our Joy

Advent Hymn #3 – How Great Our Joy! Traditional German Carol

v. 1-2 by Theodore Baker

Theme: JOY

images created in Canva.com

Christmas Icons provided by Creative Market

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!

    For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation

    and draped me in a robe of righteousness.

I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding

    or a bride with her jewels.

Isaiah 61:10

Perhaps you are not feeling it this Christmas.

Maybe you are more like Cindy Lou Who, saying, “Where are you Christmas?” Somehow the JOY has been lost. For many, it has been a dismal year. I hear of tragedy every week. Every day, my Open Doors app goes off with yet another person being persecuted. So how can there be joy?

Let’s take a closer look at this advent hymn, How Great our Joy!

Hymn of the Week How Great Our Joy

Maybe there is a clue here. This hymn speaks of the shepherds’ response to the Good News. Perhaps they can teach us about finding joy when all seems hopeless.

Verse 1

While by the sheep we watched at night,

Glad tidings brought an angel bright.

It was a quiet night. The shepherd-priests we learned of last week were settling down for another night. It had been over 400 years since they had even a word from God and the prophets. When would the Messiah come? Surely they had feelings of despair. “It’s never going to happen. We are stuck under the control of the Romans. At least they were allowing us to worship God and offer sacrifices in the temple. But When, When would the Messiah appear?

Emotions can turn on a dime. Imagine at one moment you are feeling hopeless; thinking it’s never going to happen. Nothing will ever change. I am stuck here in this trial forever. Then in a moment, everything changes. Imagine the excitement that came over the shepherds when they saw the angels and heard the Good News.

“Glory to God in highest heaven,

    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Luke 2:14

The shepherd-priests didn’t stay stuck in their despair. They were filled with joy. They immediately said, “Let’s go see this thing…” After they saw Jesus, they were  “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.

How Great was their Joy!

Verse 2

There shall be born, so he did say,

In Bethlehem a Child today.

A Child in Bethlehem! These were keywords from the prophets. They were words of HOPE.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,

    are only a small village among all the people of Judah.

Yet a ruler of Israel,

    whose origins are in the distant past,

    will come from you on my behalf.

Micah 5:2

They remembered the prophecy of Micah that a great ruler would come out of Bethlehem. Was it finally true? Had a child finally been born who would save them from tyranny? Hope was beginning to burst forth from the hearts. They just had to believe that it was so. After all, angels had come to tell them the news.

And again, Jeremiah had spoken of a Righteous King…

I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, [that is, someone in David’s line] a King who will reign wisely.

Jeremiah 23:5

This is another indication that salvation would come from the lowly town of Bethlehem; the City of David.

There was indeed HOPE RISING!

Verse 3

There shall the Child lie in a stall,

This Child who shall redeem us all.

A Promised Redeemer

Ah! Redemption! Whether you realize it or not, the thing your heart desires most is redemption. Just as God’s heart breaks because of the separation sin has caused, so our own hearts ache for restoration. Oh! How we need to be restored to God. From the beginning, at the Fall of Man in Genesis 3, God had promised a Redeemer. One who would restore man from the fall.

Then the Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this, you are cursed
    more than all animals, domestic and wild.
You will crawl on your belly,
    groveling in the dust as long as you live.
15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

Genesis 3:14-15

Revelation 12:9 confirms that God was speaking not just to the serpent but to Satan, himself.

This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.

And believers grasp on to the Apostle Paul’s statement to the Romans

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” (Romans 16:20)

God promised Moses that He would redeem Israel for Himself. (Exodus 6:6-7 ) There was the short-term promise of redemption from Egypt. This promise was also the promise through Christ for all who would believe. (John 1:12, Galatians 4:4-5 ) And finally, the complete fulfillment will come when He returns to restore the world and set up His Kingdom. (Revelation 21 )

Now that GIFT will be JOY indeed!

Verse 4

This gift of God we’ll cherish well,
that ever joy our hearts shall fill.

This is the joy that doesn’t depend on happiness or circumstance. Things may be hard right now. But we can still have JOY in our hearts. Great Joy! We can be “overwhelmed with joy” as Isaiah was because we know that we know that God has done a great work in us.

I conclude with this from Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope”

Mandy

P.S. I came across this poem by Annie Johnson Flint recently. Had to share it.

For All the Morrows

Has the year brought sadness?
Joy is yet in store.
Has it given gladness?
Next year giveth more.
Let your Father measure
All your pain and care,
Let Him weigh the burden
That your heart must bear,
Sending light or shadow
As He deemeth best,
For in His sure wisdom
You can safely rest.
Peace for all the morrows,
Strength for all the days,
These shall be your portion
Through the New Year’s ways.

Annie Flint Johnson

RESOURCES

The Four-fold Promise of Redemption – The nationhood of Israel is tied together with connection to G‑d. – Contemporary Kabbalists (chabad.org)

How Great Our Joy | Hymnary.org

The First Promise of a Redeemer (Genesis 3:15) | Sharon Bible Presbyterian Church (wordpress.com)

22 Bible Verses about Joy – Uplifting Scripture Quotes (biblestudytools.com)

The Age of Innocence and Promise of a Redeemer – SLJ Institute

For All the Morrows by Annie Johnson Flint (homemakerscorner.com)

Dishwasher Victory: Part Two

Image by LiudmilaB from Pixabay

In last week’s cliff-hanging article, I left Brad and perhaps you a little bored of my dishwasher adventure. But I feel that someday, someone is going to run into the same problem, and here I will be with my dishwasher victory article, and that person will find victory as well!

In case you are just diving into this article, you should back-track and catch up on “Dishwasher Victory“. If you are short on time, I will give you the “Cliff Note” version:

  1. I had a greasy, moldy scum growing in my dishwasher, dishes were not getting clean
  2. Took my dishwasher apart so many times cleaning out the scum, I nearly wrecked my dishwasher
  3. Found an article from Jill Cataldo; her dishes weren’t getting clean either, and discovered it was because enviromentalism took the phosphate out of the dish and laundry detergent
  4. Happiness! I discover that a dishwasher detergent with phosphates still existed- Cascade® Professional Fryer Boil Out. YAY!

Cascade of phosphorous

Photo by Michele Bruxvoort

After finding the Cascade® Professional Fryer Boil Out online, I did order a box. But, I wasn’t satisfied waiting 7 days. I needed help now! The article by Jill Cataldo mentioned other dishwashing treatments/boosters that had phosphorous in them. One of them mention was Finish Glass Magic®, a performance booster- NOT a dishwashing detergent.

I found a box of Finish Glass Magic®, 16 oz. for $9.96; which you needed to use a 1/4 cup (4 tbsp.) with each load. IN ADDITION, you had to use a dishwashing detergent, as well as a rinse agent for “optimal results”. Ugh! This box will be used up fast.

The Dutch girl in me calculated the math, and this Finish Glass Magic was very expensive. Going against all logic, I went ahead and bought the box.

I got home and added my current detergent to an empty dishwasher. Then I added the Finish Glass Magic® to the bottom of the dishwasher, punched in the cycle, shut the door, and awaited success.

Sometimes you gotta spend big for big results

Photo by Michele Bruxvoort

Three hours later, the cycle finished, I could hardly contain myself when I opened the door. OM! That smell! I haven’t smelled that for years. That smells like the old dishwasher that I replaced. AHH! And, the SPARKLE! The stainless steel was just beaming. I about cried.

Wanting to see if I could get the same results with dishes I took all the dishes and silverware off the counter and loaded them into the dishwasher. Repeated the same procedure of dishwashing detergent, Finish Glass Magic® in the bottom, punched in the same program, pressed start, and shut the door.

With the cycle finished, I peeked in. There were no greasy areas with pinkish, greasy slime on the ceiling of the dishwasher. YAY!, No funny film on the plastic kid dishes, or funny smell. YAY! No brownish scum on the silverware basket. YAY!

I was so excited about the results I called a few friends just to share my joy. I could hardly wait till the Cascade® Professional Fryer Boil Out arrived. Tick tock!

UPS to the rescue

Photo by Michele Bruxvoort

I’m sure the UPS guy didn’t know what joy my package contained. As soon as I saw that the detergent was en route, I began counting down the minutes till 11 am, when he usually stops by.

I heard his truck pull up the driveway and I was in a dead run for the front door. Opened the front door, stepped out onto the front porch, down the stairs, and like a faithful dog, waited patiently at the bottom step.

I guess if I had a tail, it would have been wagging so hard it would have dusted off the steps. Within a minute the UPS guy appeared. I smiled, reached out for the box, said thanks, and shot back into the house. Wah hoo! This was it. The Cascade® Professional Fryer Boil Out, 5 lbs. 5 oz. of phosphate-loving detergent, for $19.95. YES! This should hold me for a while!

That evening, with my dishwasher full of dirty dishes, I filled the dishwasher detergent reservoir, programed my favorite cycle in, hit start, and shut the door. I’d have to wait till the morning to see what success I would discover.

Dishwasher dazzel

I woke up the next morning and shuffled off to the kitchen to make coffee. While making coffee I remembered that I forgot about the dishwasher. I spun around and opened the door.

Unbelievable! What gleaming dishes, and dishwasher insides. Sparkling silverware that didn’t smell. I peeked into all the favorite scum haunts and found not a single smear of grunge. I smelled the drain; nope- no sulfur bacteria smelling smell. Success! I WON!

If that Cascade® could clean up my dishwasher, it’d clean up my washing machine as well. So off to the laundry to take care of the sulfur smell in the washing machine. I ran a cleaning cycle without laundry; just water and 1/4 cup Cascade® Professional Fry Boil Out. WOW! Smell gone! Another win!

Maybe you don’t have the dishwasher problem I did, but it sure wouldn’t hurt to buy some Cascade® Professional Fryer Boil Out or Finish Glass Magic® and use it as a monthly or bi-monthly cleaning regime to keep your dishwasher and washer in good cleaning condition.

Till next time. Here is to good food, clean dishes, and joy in life’s little victories!

O Little Town

Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem

Advent Hymn #2 – O Little Town of Bethlehem by Philip Brooks, 1865

Theme: PEACE

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Christmas Icons by Creative Market

This week we consider the theme of peace. Christ has brought us perfect peace; something the jews for ages have desired. His blood and sacrifice bring us the true peace that we hope for. The peace that renders our soul free of guilt and sin. However, we often think of peace as quietness, like the little town where Jesus was born.

O Little Town of Bethlehem was written by Phillips Brooks around 1865. He wrote it for a children’s program at church, but it has become a favorite among adults as well. Phillips had visited Israel a few years earlier and took a tour that included riding a horse from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and arriving at dusk. He was so impressed by the little town. So quaint and peaceful. When he sat to write a song for the Christmas service, he was reminded of his time in Israel and these beautiful words came forth.

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Dishwasher Victory

Image by jhenning_beauty_of_nature from Pixabay

Friends, I have prevailed. A dishwasher victory has been celebrated. And though you may not care a whit about it, I’m still writing to tell you. If you remember my past two articles “What’s That Smell” and “What’s That Smell: Part Two“, I regaled the slimy tale of the awful smell and super gross junk that lived in my dishwasher.

I went on and on about how I took it apart, cleaned it, and then had to do it all over again thinking that just cleaning it was the solution. I. WAS. WRONG. I was just cleaning up a symptom, and this symptom would return. And, it was at the point of dismantling my dishwasher for the third time, I realized that the dishwasher could not handle my disassembly and reassembly one more time.

Defeated, I slumped down against my cupboards. Critical thinking skills were employed. Cleaning helped only for a time. Yes. The food particles and grease were not leaving the dishwasher, but piling up and attracting mold and bacteria, which left the smell. Yes. There, that was the problem. The food and grease were not being dissolved. But, why?

It’s all in how you DuckDuckGo!

With this thought, I ran to my computer, hopped onto DuckDuckGo, and madly started typing. My keyword was “dishwashing enzymes” and I struck pay dirt with an article from Jill Cataldo! Jill wrote “The Clean Dishes Challenge: Battle of the Dishwasher Detergents”, in February of 2012. It was one of her most popular articles. If I could have kissed my computer screen, I would have, but it’s a touch screen, so you can see how problematic this would be.

Jill revealed “Back in 2010, many states enacted a ban on phosphates in detergent, both laundry, and dishwasher, under the guise that the new formulations were better for the environment (more on that at the end.) But, as phosphate-free formulas began to hit the shelves in 2011, many consumers were less than thrilled with the results..”

To phosphate or not…

AH HA! That’s it. They removed the phosphate from the dishwashing detergent. Phosphates help remove food and the calcium that bound them onto the dish. These phosphates were thought to cause algae to bloom when “grey water” was released from cities into open freshwater.

So began an environmental crusade to remove these phosphate scoundrels from dishwashing and laundry detergents. Not only did my dishwasher stink so did my washing machine. This was all beginning to make sense!

Jill went on to say:

“A Minnesota study determined that the amount of phosphates generated from home use that were actually reaching bodies of freshwater was about 1.9%. And, in 2011, the University of Washington released a study that determined that phosphorous runoff from detergents, even when discharged directly into the Spokane River, never worked as an algae fertilizer: “Effluents making their way into the river contained phosphorus in complex molecular forms which are not bioavailable. Algae lack the enzymes necessary to break down this phosphorus, meaning it is essentially harmless.”

So, even in a situation where phosphorus-based detergent runoff is emptying directly into freshwater, the phosphorous doesn’t cause an algae bloom. But now that science has proven otherwise, will the ban be lifted? Not likely. “Detergent phosphates are bad for the environment” has become a common belief among environmentalists and many consumers alike… even without any factual evidence. On the contrary, studies exist showing that this kind of phosphorus is not an issue.”

-https://jillcataldo.com/phosphatedetergents/#environment

Cascade to the rescue

Photo credit Michele Bruxvoort

Man, do I love Jill. Jill did a wonderful job scouring the market for dishwashing detergents that still contained phosphorous. Back in 2012, Jill found Cascade® had a Cascade Professional Line dishwashing detergent with phosphorus. Yay! But then they discontinued that product in 2014. Boo! However, she discovered that the Cascade dishwasher detergent still existed but under a new name, Cascade® Professional Fryer Boil Out. Yay!

I clicked the link button and was on my way to environmentally safe, full of phosphorus, dishwashing detergent! I added it to my cart and in seven days I would have peace and harmony in both my dishwasher and laundry machine. Ah! I was giddy.

Poor Brad. I went on and on, ad nauseam over the adventure of finding all this information and the delight of discovering there is a phosphorus dishwashing detergent. Nuts just looked at the word meter. I’m out of time! But fear not, the story will continue…

Till next time. Here is to good food, good friends and a very good life!

Resources:

“Faith over Fear”, People of the Christmas Story: Zechariah Part Two

Welcome back to today’s “Time in the Word”. We continue in our scripture study, which comes from Luke 1:1-23. If you are reading this digitally you can simply click on the highlighted text, otherwise, I invite you to grab your bible and turn to Luke 1. In the coming weeks, we’ll discover how the people of the Christmas Story: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph chose “Faith over Fear”.

We last left Zechariah serving the Lord in the temple. Zechariah was burning the incense in the Holy of Holies when the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and gave him the wonderful news. After seeing the Angel of the Lord and hearing this incredible news, Zechariah speaks. Read Part One here.

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