Tai Wan Village, as seen from the bus stop in our village. We've lived in the same house in Hong Kong now since 1991. It's been a great blessings. Our house is barely visible in this photo. You can see the red tiled roof just next to the tree on the left. That is two houses down from the white one you see in the photo. We're right on a bay of the South China Sea. It's a very shallow bay in our area, so when the tide is out, you can see a lot of sand. It's been a great place to call 'home.'
We are happy to announce the fact that our daughter Becki is pregnant with our newest grandchild, which will be a girl. Needless to say we are all happy at the news! She is due to arrive in mid-April. Cindy was planning on going home to help out, but the situation is complicated by the timing of my heart surgery. We still do not know when that will take place. Hopefully it will be early enough that she will still be able to go home to help out.
My daughter Becki, has been fighting fatigue during this pregnancy, but the baby seems to be developing normal, for which we are all grateful.
As for my surgery, perhaps I will find out more this coming Wednesday, when I have the next appointment with my cardiologist. In the meantime, I feel fine, and do about everything I did before, except for the hiking.
We had a fun time on Christmas Day with our RiverGrace family. Over 60 people came to the party. We sang Christmas carols, read a couple Christmas stories, had a gift exchange, played games, and had a fine lunch… doing what we do at most of our gatherings… eat together. The party was planned and executed by our Filipina ladies.
Cindy cooked a turkey on Saturday, and that’s when we had our Christmas together. The day after Christmas is also a public holiday in Hong Kong… a holdover from the days Britain ruled the territory. It was Boxing Day. I’m not sure how much it still happens, but it was a day when they gave boxes of food to the needy. Sometimes, nowadays, people joke that it’s the day they box up their Christmas gifts and take them back to the stores for exchange.
I still have quite a bit to prepare for our RiverGrace family retreat on January 1, so will make this short. We have guests in our home for the next couple days as well.
May the Lord fill your 2016 with his good blessings. Make it a great week and year! Blessings, Dave
Reflections for New Year's Day - 'Amazing Grace' - First seen in 2008…
At the end of December 1772, an Anglican priest in the poor parish of Olney worked by candlelight on his New Year's Day sermon. He would preach on the text of 1 Chronicles 17, verses 16 and 17. That passage was David's response to God after Nathan informed him that his descendants would be enthroned forever as kings of Israel. David, the once poor shepherd boy, the man who would have repented of adultery and murder, responded to the news by saying, "Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me thus far?"
That pastor was John Newton, and those words struck a deep chord in his heart.
In those last days of 1772, Newton found himself running out of empty pages in his journal, a bound book of 300 pages holding 16 years worth of entries. As he came to finish that journal and start another, his mind was drawn to the pages of his past: the story of his life from his days as an unregenerate slave-trader to becoming a child of God.
Newton would have remembered when his rebellious spirit got him thrown off numerous ships, publicly flogged, and ousted from His Majesty's Navy. He would have remembered the shipwrecks and the mutinies—and then the transformation of his heart by the power of the Gospel. As Newton considered those days gone by, he would have asked as David did, "Who am I, O LORD . . . that you have brought me this far?"
As was his habit, Newton set to work composing a hymn to illustrate his New Year's Day sermon. In that hymn, he would tell his poor congregation of lace-makers and low-paid artisans about the dangers and snares he had faced. He would reflect on the amazing grace that had saved a wretch like him.
Those now-famous words of "Amazing Grace," first sung in the small parish of Olney on New Year's Day, 1773, lingered in obscurity for many years. Even as Newton counseled the young William Wilberforce and encouraged him to stay the course in the long battle against the slave trade, the words to "Amazing Grace" were little sung in England. But the Olney hymnal, later published by Newton, caught on in the Americas.
The words of "Amazing Grace" would surface again some 80 years later in a book that would change the course of this nation, Uncle Tom's Cabin. In it, the slave, Tom, at his lowest point, sings the words of "Amazing Grace." Two verses hardly sung today were sung by Tom: "And when this mortal life shall fail/And flesh and sense shall cease,/ I shall possess within the veil,/ A life of joy and peace." These words of the ultimate hope in God, even in the face of deep injustice, forever entwined the words of "Amazing Grace" with the plight of the slaves.
But it all began in that dark little study in the waning days of a year gone by, when one man took the time to reflect on God's goodness to him.
This New Year's Day we would all do well to pay tribute to Newton by imitating his gratitude to God and his heart for the lost. We would do well also to set aside some time to reflect on what God has done in our lives—how He has delivered us from slavery to sin. And we would do well to consider how we, in this new year of 2016, can sing God's praise with our lips and with our lives.
I AM THE NEW YEAR
I am the new year. I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.
I am your next chance at the art of living. I am your opportunity to practice what you
have learned about life during the last twelve months.
All that you sought and didn't find is hidden in me, waiting for you to search it but with more determination.
All the good that you tried for and didn't achieve is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires.
All that you dreamed but didn't dare to do, all that you hoped but did not will, all the faith that you claimed but did not have-these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose.
I am your opportunity to renew your allegiance to Him who said, "Behold, I make all things new."
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Children's Christmas Carols
No one can fracture a Christmas carol better than a kid. Sing along with these new takes on old favorites:
- Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly
- We three kings of porridge and tar
- On the first day of Christmas my tulip gave to me
- Later on we'll perspire, as we dream by the fire.
- He's makin a list, chicken and rice.
- Noel. Noel, Barney's the king of Israel.
- With the jelly toast proclaim
- Frosty the Snowman is a ferret elf, I say
- Sleep in heavenly peas
- In the meadow we can build a snowman, Then pretend that he is sparse and brown
- You'll go down in listerine
- Oh, what fun it is to ride with one horse, soap and hay
- O come, froggy faithful
- Good tidings we bring to you and your kid
@Laugh & Lift - http://www.laughandlift.com
Post-Christmas Poem - Anonymous…
Twas the month after Christmas, and all through the house
Nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.
The cookies I'd nibbled, the eggnog I'd taste
At the holiday parties had gone to my waist.
When I got on the scales there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber).
I'd remember the marvelous meals I'd prepared;
The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared,
The wine and the rum balls, the bread and the cheese
And the way I'd never said, "No thank you, please."
As I dressed myself in my husband's old shirt
And prepared once again to do battle with dirt
I said to myself, as I only can
"You can't spend the winter disguised as a man!">
So away with the last of the sour cream dip,
Get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip
Every last bit of food that I like must be banished
"Till all the additional ounces have vanished.
I won't have a cookie not even a lick.
I'll want only to chew on a long celery stick.
I won't have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie,
I'll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.
I'm hungry, I'm lonesome, and life is a bore
But isn't that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot.
Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet!
Sent by Heidi Hankland
An elderly pastor, looking over his large congregation on Easter morning, startled them with this announcement: "My friends, realizing that I will not see many of you until next Easter, may I take this opportunity to wish all of you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!"
@Sermon Fodder - http://www.onelist.com/subscribe.cgi/Sermon_Fodder
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, nonaddictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all . . . a n d fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2016, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "AMERICA" in the western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or choice of computer platform of the wishee.
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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, ya'll!
A photo of our newest grandchild. She is a she!