Friday, December 13, 2013

The Gift

Christmas began with a gift. I do not mean the gifts of the wise men, but a far more precious one; I speak of one so great that it can affect even us today.

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.' " -Luke 2:1-11 (ESV)

The angel spoke of "good news of great joy that will be for all the people". What is this good news?
To be honest, the good news starts with bad news.
God created everything in this physical and spiritual realms, including the first human beings, Adam and Eve. Instead of being content to live with God, they coveted forbidden things, and acted outside of God's command. Because of that, sin entered the world, and became a part of us, making it impossible for us to reach God or Heaven, or anything lastingly good on our own. Sin also condemned us to eternal separation from God, starting in our physical lives, and lasting even after death.
Bad news.

Despite our persistent rebellion, God did not destroy us as He had every perfect right to do. He loves us, and had a plan to bring us back to Himself. That's where the passage from Luke comes in.
He sent His own Son Jesus to be born of a virgin.
Jesus lived a flawless life, but willingly died the death of a criminal for our sakes, taking the punishment we deserved.
However, on the third day after His death, He rose again, proving once for all that He was stronger than any power, and conquering sin and death completely. Good news!

But it's impossible to reap the benefits of a gift unless you receive it, right?
"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12
I received Him, and though I and my life aren't perfect, I know God is always with me, and that I have something better waiting for me, if my life should ever be lost.
Day by day, I'm discovering my true purpose, and just for a little hint, this post might be part of it.

God offers you the ultimate gift: forgiveness for your sins, past, present, and future; a plan for your life here on earth, a place for you in Heaven, and His presence with you wherever you go.
Will you accept?

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Princess Olivia I (the Sequel to the Ever-popular "Roommate")

Perhaps my "beef" isn't quite so beefy as it was when I last posted. Emma and I became better friends through an instance that was actually pretty insignificant.

To start off, our school is just a little bit weird.... okay, very weird. I don't know what started it, but for no apparent reason, Rilla was pronounced "Queen of the school", and someone started up a little popularity contest to see who would be her "princess". 

 One of my friends, Stacy, caught me looking at a flier for the contest. She started teasing me about it, calling me a softie, and jokingly asking if I would enter the contest. 
I guess Emma thought I was being bullied, because she interrupted Stacy.

"Actually, Olivia is entering."

Stacy looked surprised for a minute, but then started to laugh. 

"Of course she is," Stacy scoffed, disdain fairly dripping off her expression.

Emma stood up a little taller and said, "Well, I hope you come to the contest, then, to watch Olivia sweep the judges off their feet with her amazing... princess skills. Good day."

Emma took my arm, and swept off down the hall, her head held high. 

"Emma!" I hissed once Stacy was out of earshot. "I don't have amazing princess skills. What were you thinking, saying that?"

"Well, I... um..." she hesitated, looking rather deflated for a minute. Her confidence returned in scarcely a moment, however. "Since I'm the one who got you into this mess, I'll get you out of it. You'll see." 

                                                                         ~     ~  

 And, no, I did not get Emma to dress up as me and win the princess-fashion-contest thing. I'm ashamed that you would even consider that. Deceit is not at all my style.
She got me all dolled up, and finished just before my name was called.
I stepped out from behind the curtain, my heart racing, just a little.

"I so do not belong here," I thought, fighting the urge to hide under a convenient backstage bucket.

Then I saw a slightly smug "I-told-you-so" face from the crowd. Stacy's expression was enough to make me angry; it was enough to make me ready to prove her wrong.

Even though I didn't win, I didn't do too badly.
And maybe if you had been there, you would have seen me skip onto stage, and do a little twirl. But perhaps it would have just been a trick of the spotlight, for it shone very brightly on my triumphant face. Only I know for sure whether it was a dance or the crowd was just hallucinating. Only Emma and I, and we'll never tell.

As Emma and I walked home that night, for once, I took the time to admire the scenery.
The trees whispered and rustled in the breath of wind, and the cold made all my nerves tingle.
It was a night made for music, and so I began to whistle some of Grieg's Symphonic Dances.
Emma isn't quite as polite as I thought. Right in my favorite part, she blurted out,
"You like Grieg, too!?"

I suppose at that moment, we became friends.
Guess what? I don't even mind sharing my room anymore.

Monday, December 2, 2013


This is Libby, and boy do I have a beef. (Yes, I know you're thinking turkey because of the time of the year, but, no, I mean beef)
It all started one evening, a couple nights ago. I was minding my own business, finishing up a couple homework assignments. And then...

                                  This total stranger just walked right into my bedroom!

                                Me and that stranger just stared at each other for a minute.

"Olivia Green?" she ventured hesitantly.
"That's me."
"My name is Emma Nora Beatrix Bennet... your cousin." She extended her hand for me to shake.
I tried to ignore the ink on my hand as I awkwardly shook hers.
"So... not to be abrupt or anything, but what exactly are you doing here?"
"We came to visit for the holidays, and Daddy is thinking of moving us here."

Something clicked in my memory. A couple days before this, Mom had mentioned something about "relatives from England coming for Christmas".

"That's nice." I said after an awkward silence. "Need help with your bag?"
"Thank you."

Now, as if a total stranger walking into my bedroom weren't enough, she had to be my exact same age. So Aunt Ingrid thought it would be cute if we dressed in matching clothes for school the next day. Yeah.
I don't usually "do" cute.

And patent leather shoes are really hard to play basketball in, just saying.
Everywhere we went, nobody recognized me, because I was wearing neat clothes. And my hair was brushed. And I was walking with a pretty, polite, and perfectly proper little mistress of the world. Which I normally don't do, because it makes me feel out of place. I mostly hang out with rough-and-tumble, rowdy tomboys. Much easier to play one-on-one with.

And now? I feel very out of place.
My friends accuse me of being a "softie" because I have to show Emma around the school. And when I try to hang out with people more "her crowd" (like Molly, for one) I usually don't get any of their jokes, because their all a bit... nerdy.

Not that Emma is a nerd.
Like I said, she's pretty, polite, clever, and kind. And she has a really cool accent.

Could we really be cousins?