Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The New Year

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 31, 2008

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. –Isaiah 40:31 NIV

Expectant hope is the term that I want to keep close to me in this coming year. Just like the calendar year transitions from 2008 to 2009, we often go through cycles of transition ourselves. One thing for sure, we are never standing still. We are either going forward or backward. Sometimes the choice is up to us.

I recently heard of a woman who is facing a difficult time with her health. If I could talk to her I would say “choose life”. When hard times hit us, especially a health crisis, we have to see ourselves well. Visualize that we improving. Look forward to the things that once brought joy and think about doing them again. That is an example of “expectant hope”. Learning to replace the fear that comes to steal, kill and destroy with expectant hope is good medicine.

What will 2009 bring to each of us? There may be good times and bad times. Happy times and sad times. In-between times. Busy times and quiet times. Like the tide that comes and goes, our life ebbs and flows, too. But this much we do know. God is Our Source. We can face anything that comes our way as long as we have a strong, steady relationship with God. A daily relationship. It doesn’t have to be a long-drawn out session….just start off by talking with Him a few minutes each day. Tell Him your concerns and surrender them over to Him. Then Trust Him. Wait on Him. Learn to listen for Him to speak wisdom into your heart. But most of all, while you grow in the Lord, hold on to expectant hope. Believe that God has wonderful things He wants to bless you with. I believe that 2009 has something wonderful for each of us, if we choose to live in expectant hope,while trusting Him.


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 31, 2008

Photography by Elizabeth Brown

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. -Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV

Is there anything any better than a sunny day!! There have been some lovely days lately to venture outdoors and walk the beach. Sunshine brightens our spirit and refreshes us, both inside and out. It has been said that wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. That is a good quote to live by especially while we are in the midst of winter.

The new year is just a few days old. There is hope and excitement about what will come in the next twelve months. Not only is it a new beginning, but it is a chance to make some changes. The new year can be the time to set goals and to sow seeds for the future. How could this year be any different from other years? What could make the difference? The difference is in our attitude. Developing a right attitude is the key. Our attitude will dictate our success or failure. It will make the difference between happiness and unhappiness.

Mary Engelbreits' advice about attitude is this: “If you don't like something change it, if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.”I know of people that have truly fallen on hard times with one problem after the other stacking up. Yet, they are cheerful, grateful and trusting God for so much when they have so little. Their attitude must surely please God. The new year is a chance to shed that old self and those old ways in favor of a better way. To be open to receive a new way to live and think. Luke 5:38 talks about wineskins. We shouldn't put old wine into new wineskins. Like wineskins, that wisdom applies to us today as we must keep old mindsets and attitudes from contaminating this new year. By drawing a line in the sand symbolically, we can leave the old behind. Let's make a solid effort to embrace this new year with the heart and attitude of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Eve

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 23, 2008

As the sun goes down on a last minute, hectic sort of day in preparation and anticipation of Christmas, the stillness of Christmas Eve can be mesmerizing. Lighted decorations flicker on through the neighborhood at dusk. The grand music from Handel’s “Messiah” replaces “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” on the radio. The reverence of this night begins to envelope us and the peace that follows comforts us. As the night sky unfolds, one by one, the stars above begin to twinkle overhead with an extra brilliance. I find myself looking to the east for that special star and wondering what it was like the night Jesus was born. The real meaning of Christmas can be found, not in the decorations, the expectation of Santa’s arrival or the presents under the tree. God’s gift to us was His Son, Jesus, who came to this world so that we may live, that through His sacrifice on the cross, we should have everlasting life. There is so much about Jesus to learn. So much He wants to teach us. For years we read the poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas “ to our children on Christmas Eve. How I look back now and wish that we had focused more on the Birth of Jesus than we did the arrival of Santa Claus. Perhaps it is not too late to start a new tradition by adding the story of the Birth of Jesus to our Christmas Eve ritual.

Just to remind us again how it all began, here is the story of the birth of Jesus, as told by Luke.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, 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." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. –Luke 2:1-20 NIV

Merry Christmas to each of you and God’s Blessings to all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 18, 2008

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, -- Galatians 5:22 NIV

One definition for tradition is, “a story or a custom that is memorized and passed down from generation to generation”. I think of it as a circle of love. It goes round and round to warm and comfort a family in their own specialness.

It is the time of year to finalize those holiday plans and bring to life those childhood traditions again. This year our family won’t get to see everyone all at once as we have in the past. That has been our tradition in previous years, but we will have to revise it this year. We have been fortunate to be together so often over the years that we must celebrate that instead. It is the traditions that were set in place long ago that are the common thread in our family, whether we can geographically be together or not. We will still enjoy my mother’s cornbread stuffing because all the cooks in the family now have that recipe. My husband will have a bit of his mother with him as we eat out of her mother’s cranberry bowl. It has been passed down now 3 times! We haven’t decided if we will have my fathers’ fruit ambrosia or banana pudding. He finally conceded and gave us his secret recipes just a few years ago to our delight! Whether we are all at the same table together or scattered across many states, it is the comforts of tradition that brings about closeness and bridges any gaps. It is also a reminder to us of the memories that have helped to shape us and our holidays’ past.

Many families, regardless of their faith or heritage will begin celebrating using their traditions carried from generation to generation. The Jewish community will celebrate Chanukah by lighting the Menorah for eight days. The Christians will celebrate Christmas, celebrating the birth of Christ on the 25th.. African-Americans will honor their heritage for seven days in a fairly new tradition called Kwanzaa, beginning on the 26th. A local Outer Banks tradition called, “Old Christmas” goes back over 100 years and is still celebrated by some, but this celebration occurs as it always has, in January.

What will you pass down this year? A recipe, an old treasured family tablecloth, that special saw that always cut down the Christmas tree? Maybe we can add to that. Let’s meet this season with peace and the fruit of the spirit in our hearts to love and forgive the offenses from the past. Let it be a time to right the wrongs, make peace, love the unlovable and be merciful. We are all God’s Children and we are a part of His Circle of Love. Pass it on!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Gifts

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 11, 2008

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. -Matthew 2:11 NIV

The definition of the word “gift” means something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned. The first gifts of Christmas were the ones that the Three Wise Men gave to Jesus. They were gold, frankincense and myrrh. Now, over 2,000 years later, the tradition of gift-giving continues. Our western culture heavily promotes Christmas as a time for gifts, while the true celebration of Christmas, which is the birth of Jesus, often gets misplaced in our current world. God sent us His Son, Jesus and that is the greatest gift of all, the gift of love. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. Psalm 117:2 NIV

This Christmas, for our family, will be like so many in the past. We find ourselves scaling back more and more on the gift giving. Now that we are all spread out, we realize it is truly a gift if most of us can come together for a few days of love and fellowship. I am looking forward to a walk on the beach. Just me with the grandchildren so we can catch up with one another. Our special time. And at Christmas Eve services, I cherish looking down the row at my family and seeing those I love in church together. We adore the ride through the neighborhood to see the houses decorated in lights in our convertible with a handful of homemade cookies (the children refer to our car as the sleigh). And so that is what we give each other. Our time and love. That, and a few homemade items made from the heart. We share our gifts and talents in that way. Stained glass tree ornaments, framed photography, paintings, crafty- type things. And this year will be some simple crocheted scarves and throws to warm my family. Many prayers and blessings have been said while doing this handwork. Unknowingly, they will be wrapping themselves in not only colorful yarn, but in prayers of protection, abundance, promotion, good health and happiness. That they would feel peace and God's Love surrounding them...and oh yes, a Mother's Love, too. A quote by Augusta E. Rundel says, “Christmas--that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance--a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”

The spirit of Christmas is not measured in the amount of gifts given and received, but in the love that surrounds us and most importantly, the love that passes through us to others. His Love.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Finding Our Christmas Joy

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 04, 2008

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. -Psalm 30:11 NIV

Tis the season to be jolly. And I admit to feeling that way this year. But I am also aware that maybe not everyone is feeling as joyous this Christmas for one reason or another. Tightened finances may keep families apart due to the expense of traveling this season. Others have gotten bad news from the doctor. Some may be looking for work and can't find it. And then there are the folks that have lost a loved one this past year and are feeling especially lonely. How can the joy of Christmas be captured when facing these things?

Today I was in the checkout line at the department store. I struck up a conversation with the elderly gentleman behind me. He was holding a new fishing rod and reel and was looking at it admiringly. I thought he was buying it for a grandchild because it was exactly like the one we gave our son many years ago when he learned to fish. The old man said with pride and a twinkle in his eye that he was buying it for himself. As he began to chat away, in about 5 minutes, he told me a great deal about his life. He had moved here just two weeks ago from the mid-west to be closer to family. His wife was an invalid in the nursing home, his son died as a child, he still drives everywhere he goes and had traveled to South America years ago and it was his favorite place on this earth to fish. Yes, all this in just a few minutes, and I never even got his name! But what struck me about this man as his story unfolded, was that he had every reason to be sad about moving from his home of many years to a new place so far away, or distraught because he precious wife couldn't talk and he didn't know if she recognized him anymore. He could have felt great grief that his son was taken so young in life. Or could have been anxious about exploring a new town and fearful about driving on unfamiliar streets. But no. He was smiling from ear to ear. He laughed, his eyes sparkled. He was simply bubbling over with joy. This man was happy to be alive. I wished him a Merry Christmas and smiled back at him as I said goodbye. This stranger was clearly in his mid-80's and seemed to have more energy and enthusiasm for life than I did. Before I drove out of the parking lot, I just sat for a few minutes and thought, “ what was the lesson”? I believe what made that gentleman special in my eyes was that he was determined to have joy despite his circumstances. He wasn't cranky or bitter, but was genuinely happy. This man made a great impact on me. Maybe he was one of those “old school” kind of people. Where you lived simply, gave thanks and worked at living life until the last breath.

Whatever we face, whatever our circumstances, I believe God wants us to be cheerful about where we are on our journey. We are to remember that He has the Plan and we are taught to believe that He orders our steps. If it is a hard time we are going through, He will sees us through. God is our source for everything. He is the Healer and the Provider. With God on one side and us on the other side with the talents and skills He has given us, we can be overcomer's. We might not have expected to be in the middle of a difficult situation but God says to cast our cares upon Him. If we find that we are blessed this season, then perhaps we can reach out to help someone that is struggling. Sharing God's Grace with others. Wherever we are and whatever is going on, there is always joy that we can claim. Perhaps the answer is right before us...developing a Godly Attitude, no matter what we come against. We cannot control our circumstances but we do have the ability to control our attitude. Like that old man in the checkout line, maybe we can find a little joy this Christmas, too.