Bless This Messy House

January 25th, 2022 by Sara Buffington

My husband and I built our dream home on 10.5 acres in Virginia. We contracted the whole thing ourselves, and Peter himself laid all our heart of pine floors.  I picked out all the colors of paint. The walls were mostly a creamy yellow, which I consider the happiest color.

We planned to raise our family there. We installed a full swing set in the backyard even though our oldest could only use the baby swing. We had plenty of space, extra bedrooms, and scenic views from every window. We joked that this would be the house we would die in. (That's pretty dark humor, I know.)

We lived there for 1.5 years.

Our entire lives turned upside down at that moment. The life we were building in Virginia? God decided to close that door abruptly and without much warning. 

We sold out dream home in a week and moved to Florida. We shoved our furniture in a storage unit and moved into 2 bedrooms in my inlaws' house. Our two kids in one room, Peter and I in another.

The whole thing was shocking, sad, and God-led.

God Bless This House

January 19th, 2022 by Dr. Larry Selig

In 2002 when we felt the Lord call us to move to the Orlando area to be closer to all of our children and grandchildren, we first had to sell our home in Pittsburgh to afford our new Florida home.

No offers came for several months, until a husband and wife came one evening, looked quickly at the home, spoke to me briefly, and left. I said to Ida that I strongly felt this was the couple who would be the buyers.

Why Do We Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas?

December 28th, 2021 by Sara Buffington

My Christmas tree is a fire hazard.

I look at it and simultaneously have two thoughts: "Oh, you are so lovely with your twinkling lights," and "Please don't kill us all."

I suppose that is what I get for buying a live tree right after Thanksgiving. My children picked it out, and when I pointed out the brown bits on a branch, they carelessly brushed my concerns aside.

I asked the tree lot manager, "Is this tree dying?"

"Lady," he replied brusquely, "this tree's been dying since it was cut."

I was not appeased. And then he said the magic words, "But I'll give you 50% off."

A Different Kind of Christmas Story

December 27th, 2021 by Carl Buffington

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.
 
  When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
 
  About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.
 

How to Receive a Gift

December 18th, 2021 by Vance Browning

Decades ago a Jamaican work colleague gave me a gift. I don’t remember if it was something wrapped with a bow or simply a compliment.

I responded by saying, “No, you shouldn’t have,” or something to the effect of saying that I really didn’t need it or deserve it.

What I remember distinctly is his reply. He said, “You Americans, you don’t know how to receive a gift!” 

I had insulted him. It was just a cultural difference, but it got me thinking. I intended to convey humility, but to him, it was arrogance and rejection.

Why You Should Put Up Christmas Lights

December 10th, 2021 by Sara Buffington

The weekend after Thanksgiving my husband pulled down our "four boxes of Christmas" from the garage shelf. Storage is limited in our house, so we have gone a bit minimal when it comes to Christmas decor.

We also have a live tree. I'd like to tell you it's because we like the look and smell of live trees (and this may be true for everyone else in my family), but my main reason is that we don't have to store it January through November.  Plus, we save it for kindling in our outdoor fireplace; it burns like flash paper (which is a little unsettling, I must say).

So over the years we have whittled Christmas down to four boxes. One box holds the Nativity set. One box holds the Carollers.  One box holds the ornaments.  And the last box holds the lights and the tree skirt.

We untangle the colored lights for the tree (yes, we are a colored light family), and then we untangle the white lights for the porch. They are the worst.

But the lights are also magic.

Baby Jesus Looks Like Me!

December 7th, 2021 by Dr. Larry Selig

Every Advent, our church in Pittsburgh held an outreach for the children and families in the community to explain the real meaning of Christmas.

Up to 7,000 children and adults came each year during the four days we called “The Joy of Sharing Christmas.” Tour guides led groups of 25-35 through a series of rooms where live actors in costume would share the REAL Christmas story.

So what does the real Christmas story look like?

How to Help Your Neighbors During the Holidays

December 1st, 2021 by Barb Buffington

The lights are up, the sparkly ads are on TV, the Christmas carols are playing. YES! The holiday season is here!  The Most Wonderful Time of Year, Jingle Bells and Oh What Fun, Holly Jolly Christmas, and you know so many songs that tout the happiness of the season and the lightness and brightness of it all… 

When I was about 10 years old, my mom took me to the eye doctor. I thought it was a waste of her time, energy, and money, all of which were hard to come by with a husband, 7 children and a full-time job. My sight was fine, or so I thought!  Well, if you have known me for any time at all, you know I wear glasses, and have since

that day!

And, to my surprise, with glasses and the prescription lenses, everything was sharper, crisper, clearer and I could see so much further!  My world expanded into one I had not ever known!

Remember to Say Thank You

November 24th, 2021 by Sara Buffington

My daughter and I both overslept this morning. That was the direct result of having stayed up late watching a cheesy movie together. Holiday weeks are wonderful.

We both padded around the kitchen making our morning drinks: mine a chai latte with milk, hers the same but with almond milk. She mused, "I feel like everything in my life is going well. School is going well. My running is going well. My friendships are great. I worry that something bad will happen, that God will take it away to show me that I should be dependent on Him or something."

"God doesn't operate like that," I mumbled as I poured milk in my mug. Did I mention I am not a morning person?  I do not have all my words in the morning.

"Yes, but how do you know that?"

"Because He is a good father. He delights to give good gifts to His children. All we need to do is remember to say thank you."

It sounds so easy, right? Just say thank you.

So how come we rarely do it?

The Greatest Story Ever

November 18th, 2021 by Carl Buffington

Advent draws us closer and closer into the greatest story ever.  It’s a story told and retold in thousands of ways, for literally thousands of years. And with all the ways of telling the tale, it’s critical we get it right.

Bishop Ivan Sikha has built a large ministry in India, and elsewhere, using storytelling.  He uses 20 plus stories from the Bible.  When he trains his storytellers in telling the stories, he shares them orally and then asks the listeners to repeat them.  When they add or delete part of the story, Ivan has them do it again, and again, until it is correct.  Thousands have come to know Jesus Christ through these stories.  And his ministry in India continues to flourish.

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