Thursday, December 29, 2011

The New Year

The New Year

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass

December 29, 2011

…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 one year to the next, 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.

While the sun begins to set on the last days of this year, we are hopeful about what 2012 will 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. 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 2012 has something wonderful for each of us if we choose to live in expectant hope while trusting Him.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Merry Christmas Message

Taking a moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

 A song in church last week contained the lyrics, "I wonder how they celebrate Christmas in Heaven". It touched my heart. Like many of you, I have loved ones in Heaven and not a Christmas goes by that I don't take a glance upwards to the sky with all the shining stars and smile with thanks for all the memories of those special people and pets. My heart overflows!! May we remember those that have passed and be grateful for the chance to show love and receive love from those that are present. And most of all, to be wrapped in the loving arms of a Heavenly Father that loved us so much that he sent His Son to us.

Let us make memories, love much, laugh often and may our hearts of joy and gratitude last for more than the season, but for a lifetime.

Thank you for following Reflections by the Sea. A most precious Christmas gift is from my Mother this year. She faithfully reads Reflections each week and lovingly cuts out the article from the newspaper, places it carefully in a plastic sleeve and makes it into a book and added a message about how proud she is of the writing and of me. I unwrapped all of the writing from 2011 in the book she put together and it will be a forever treasure. Thank you Mother!!

Merry Christmas.....and May God Bless from our family to yours,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

December 21, 2011

Reflections by the Sea
Betsy Ore Glass

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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Wreath

Christmas Wreath

Reflections by the Sea ©
Betsy Ore Glass
December 14, 2011

Photograph by Liz Brown

Gives thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. -Psalm 118:29 NIV

It is said that in ancient times, the Christmas Wreath, made of evergreens, symbolized the strength of life overcoming the forces of nature. The Romans hung wreaths as a sign of celebration and victory. But the Christians believed that the circular wreath represented immortality, making the Christmas Wreath very symbolic and meaningful. The colors of Christmas are green and red. Green represents the continuance of life through winter and the belief of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Red is representative of Jesus’ blood at crucifixion. Today, evergreen wreaths with red ribbons are found on doors and windows, both inside and out at the holidays. The Advent Wreath has its own importance that originates back to the 16th century in Germany. Four candles nestled in an evergreen wreath are lit, one at a time each week leading up to Christmas. A fifth candle in the center of the wreath represents Jesus’ birth and is lit on Christmas Eve. It is a symbol of hope and light. The custom of lighting the Advent Wreath is still practiced today in many homes and churches.

The season is here. The wreaths are hung and the tree is adorned. It is a busy time. There are menus to plan and family to prepare for. Jingle Bells are ringing and Christmas Carols are hummed out of tune while scurrying from errand to errand. In the frenzy of getting ready for Christmas, I am reminded that we shouldn’t lose sight of the deeper meaning of it. Festivities, parties, presents and Santa are a part of the Yule time and it may be easy to get absorbed in little things and miss the whole point of Christmas.

Like the holiday wreath, the circle of unbroken love that God surrounds us with each day is something that we can rely on anytime. He won’t let us go too far out before he pulls us back in where we belong. He is there for us in any situation or circumstance. He carries us when we are weak and he walks along side of us when we are strong. He leads often and asks us to follow. Asking God in prayer how He wants us to honor Him in our homes and hearts this holiday and the New Year ahead is the beginning of shining the light back on Him and His Son this Christmas. Setting up a tabletop nativity scene, blessing the holiday meal, reading about the birth of Jesus to young and old are all things we can start with. Making it a more meaningful, spiritual Christmas will cause us to come closer to Him and He will come closer to us.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Long Ago Christmas

A Long Ago Christmas
Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 07, 2011

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. -Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV
 I have been preparing my home for Christmas, and my mind has gone back long ago to the holidays at my grandmother’s beach cottage. Things that come to mind are the sights and sounds of an unlatched screened door banging on the side of the house in the gusty wind or the rocking chair that is sticky with salt air.  The stiffness of the old hammock whose cords have hardened and dried in the mid-day sun brings back fun times. This time of year, the back porch would be lined with rows of aged firewood with metal buckets of kindling and dried driftwood nearby.

Cutting a cedar tree from the woods and using it as a Christmas tree was the tradition each year. The leftover bottom branches would be often fashioned into a homemade wreath with a makeshift bow or the limbs placed on the mantle. The aroma of fresh cedar would fill the air. Old fashioned large strings of multicolored Christmas bulbs would be wrapped around the tree and if two bulbs of the same color ended up next to one another, it would be swapped out. Sea shells collected over the summer were given new life as they were fished out of pails, pasted with glue and glitter, and tied with twine to hang on the tree.  The larger the oyster shells the better.  Candy canes and silver tinsel were added last.  A branch of mistletoe would be taped over a doorway.

The air was filled with a hint of smoke from the poorly drafted fireplace. When the bricks became dark with soot, my grandmother simply painted them red and outlined the mortar with white paint. The decorating experts of today wouldn’t approve but to me back then, it was beautiful. Only the prettiest glittery Christmas cards would be placed on the mantle and because there wasn’t a lot of room, if your card made that special spot, it was like you had made the Hall of Fame! That is what it was like at my grandmother’s cottage at the beach long ago.

Now 50 years later we use a pre-lit tree and we have lovely ornaments and decorations and traditions reflect our modern times.  I am conscious however, that we are making new memories for the next generation to cherish 50 years from now. I hope we capture the spirit of love, joy and happiness in our home to pass down. Our family is joyous as we have received the news that we will have a new grandchild in this coming year. It is my prayer that he or she will know the true meaning of Christmas, have a wonderful sense of family and will someday fondly recall our Christmases as special memories to savor.

God was with us then and He is with us now. Not a Christmas Eve goes by that I don’t stop to stay ‘thank you’ as I look up to the heavens for the Christmas Star. I thank Him for the memories of Christmases past and the hope of Christmases to come, the loved ones I miss, the love given and received and my heavenly Father that stands besides me and sometimes carries me. I thank Him for sending His Son to save us. While our Christmas gatherings and celebrations have evolved and changed over the years, God stays the same. He never changes.  He is always waiting for us any time that we seek Him.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 01, 2011

Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. -Romans 12:132 NIV

We were blessed with a good trip over Thanksgiving to see many family members in three different places. The definition of hospitality is the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers. Greeted with love in each home was a blessing. Many preparations were made for us before we arrived to ensure that our visit was special and we were so grateful for the loving efforts.
While hospitality can mean having a clean house, a stocked refrigerator and being sure you are presentable to your guests, it still focuses on the host or hostess. Another way to define it is to be social or to entertain. I was interested to see what the Bible said about hospitality. Christian hospitality focuses on the guest. Meaning, the home doesn’t have to be perfect or food offered at all. Instead, it is lending an ear and listening if that is what is needed. This spiritual hospitality is centered around giving acceptance and approval to the guest. Perhaps providing a temporary home, meals or help of some kind. Some of the best times I have had were when my home wasn’t perfectly in order, my pantry was running low, but it didn’t matter as much as seeing and being with a person to lift them up, to listen, to laugh, to cry with or to celebrate life.

This season of Christmas offers many chances for us to practice hospitality, both as hosts and as guests. By focusing on God this season and the people that He brings into our life, we can enrich and be enriched by the experience. I remember years ago we had a Christmas Eve gathering of family and friends and one of our home renovation projects wasn’t fully completed. We simply hung a sign that said “under construction” and I remember that gathering was the best of all because the focus was on our guests, not on our surroundings. In the end, it will be the people we love and cherish, the people we help, the times we are helped that will be remembered in the spirit of genuine Christian hospitality.