Christmas Carols

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

Everywhere you go you hear Christmas Carols. They begin in October in stores, so by December you don’t really notice them, they are part of the background noise while shopping.

I happen to love Christmas music. Today I thought of different seasons in my life and how Christmas music has affected them. When we had our first Christmas in Virginia, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” brought tears to my eyes. It was the first Christmas away from Pennsylvania and I missed the snow.

In Japan the song “I’ll be home for Christmas” made me cry each time it played. For three years I did not like hearing that song. I just wanted to be home, with my sisters and with family. It was strange to be in a foreign country and celebrate Christmas without talking to family and laughing over the day.

In Maine, we had plenty of snow and we were home in the States once more. We could easily call home and hear familiar voices at the other end of the phone. Our oldest enjoyed her first, second and third Christmas there and life was busy and happy.

While in San Diego Dale worked or was gone for several Christmases. “Merry Christmas, Darling” by the Carpenters truly hurt my heart.

After our second was born (and Dale was away) “Away in the Manger” brought floods of tears. Remembering the humble birth of our Savior, but also holding onto a three month old baby and being in a big city where I knew there were babies with no place to rest their heads. It broke my heart as I clung to my baby while her older sister chatted away.

Music brings memories instantly. You can hear a song and know what you were doing when it plays. A first dance (Turn around, Look at me” by the Lettermen. A first date, “Maggie Mae” by Rod Stewart. A song played at your wedding, “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof. Your first dance as a married couple, “Silhouettes on the Shade”.

Each of those songs evokes a strong memory complete with feelings and smells. The same with Christmas Carols. Memories of past Christmases. They form part of the season. They mold your memories.

And although the songs I play bring back memories and smiles, there is a song sung daily over me that keeps me going, even though I do not hear it or know the words. “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

Our Foundation ~ Chief Cornerstone

“Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.” Isaiah 28:16 (NKJV)

As I have mentioned before, I grew up in Pennsylvania. In school we learned that our state was known as the “Keystone State”. A keystone by definition is a wedge that holds an arch together; something on which associated things depend upon. I have always been fascinated by keystones. I look at buildings trying to see the keystone.

A synonym of keystone is Cornerstone. Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone, there is nothing greater to hold us together. Without Him, everything would crumble.

Ephesians 2:19-22 says,”So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit”

Thinking about this, it is a fascinating thing to realize that cornerstones play a vital part in our lives. Everything built around us depends on a keystone/cornerstone. Without that, we would not have roofs or walls surrounding us. In fact, there would be no stable buildings. We depend on the stability and structure of things around us, otherwise we could not function as easily as we do.

Jesus is our Chief Cornerstone. He holds this world together. He is Creator, Healer, our Covering, our Peace, our Stability. We cannot function without Him.

In an arch, all the stones rely on the keystone. The keystone is what gives the arch an ability to stand. I know, like those stones, I cannot stand without the Chief Cornerstone.


Memory is more than a dustbin of time, stuffed with yesterday’s trash. Rather, memory is a glorious grab bag of the past from which one can at leisure pluck bittersweet experiences of times gone by and relive them. ~Hal Boyle, 1971

Tonight while preparing dinner, I pulled out my trusty meat mallet. It has served me well, in pounding meat, and I have used the smooth sides as a hammer. This evening it prompted sweet memories.

In the spring of 1978 I had a day out with a women who worked with my husband. We knew each other, not really well, but well enough to go on an outing together.

Part of living in Japan was going to various cities to see shrines. As a Christian, that sounds counter-productive, but these places were surrounded by beautiful gardens and architecture.

We boarded a train headed towards Tokyo. We got off in Shibuya at the Harajuku station. Coming down the steps there was a statue of a dog. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that the dog was pretty famous. The statue was Hachi, a loyal akita to his master.

We turned to the right of the station and headed toward the Meiji Shrine, a beautiful respite in a busy city. We each picked up a book about the shrine, mostly pictures and very little English.

We walked back through town. It had to have been one of the most fascinating places I have ever been to. We went through the shops, where I picked up my meat mallet and I am certain there were other things I bought.

We decided to stop at a street side cafe. We ordered a coffee and we both felt sophisticated. We felt sophisticated until our coffee arrived. That is the point where two small town girls showed their true colors. The coffee arrived in small cups. We had no idea that we had ordered espresso. Neither of us had seen or tasted it before. I am certain people were appalled at how much sugar and cream we managed to put into the espresso cups.

However, we did sip at our coffee and people watch. At that time Harajuku was a Diplomatic city where people from every nation lived. Sitting at the table on that street we heard so many languages. It was a glorious spring afternoon as we watched nations going by and marveled at the clothing and the accents. It was an impromptu fashion gathering of European countries, some American and of course the exquisite kimonos walking beside our little cafe table.

We boarded the train back to our homes, but we took a little side trip. We went to Kamakura to see the great Buddha. Honestly, I know I saw it, but, I was more excited about our next stop which was McDonald’s. Normally a stop to a fast food restaurant is not exciting. Most people would think that the great Buddha was much more exciting than McDonald’s, but to this young American who hadn’t had a big mac in over two years, McD’s took priority. The burger, fries and coke was over $35.00, but each bite was worth the cost.

I don’t know why that day came back so clearly to me this evening, but it did. Memories are like a scrap book in our mind. We can open it and look back and remember. I came from a small Pennsylvania city. I never thought I would see much outside the state. I was blessed, though to live in Japan for three years. I was blessed to experience the sights and sounds and smells. They are imprinted in my mind.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 (NKJV)