Monday, December 31, 2007

A Year in Cakes

2007 was a good year, and it was full of celebration! This is a post of the cakes I made this year!

Valentine's Day -- Chocolate Cheesecake

Dad's Birthday -- Coca-Cola Chocolate CakeMom's Birthday -- Mocha CheesecakeCousin's Birthday -- Lemon Cheesecake

Susanna's Birthday -- Carrot Cake

David's Birthday --
Whipped Cream Orange Marmalade Cake
Happy New Year Everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2007

A LIVING Christmas Tree

I have been living in the Christmas Season for most of this year. Have you heard of Christmas in July? Well, it felt like that to me when my church choir pulled out the Christmas music to begin preparing for The Living Christmas Tree – a three day program that we performed this past weekend. It was a church program unlike any other I had ever participated in. I have a feeling many years will go by before the experience can be matched – if indeed it ever can.

You see, the performance was given on and around a 30 foot high Christmas Tree set complete with lights, greenery, music, and people. It was beautiful!

This is the season when we focus on the greatest gift that could ever be given, Jesus, and that is what we did this weekend.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)”

Our Christmas program was a fun combination of popular and sacred Christmas music, and I was so glad that we were able to put on a “show” that shared the true meaning of Christmas and God’s love for His people. I was honored to participate in something that gave glory to God in the middle of this highly commercialized time of year.

As I mentioned before, we have been working on this music for a long time. The amazing thing is that the music never became old for me. For one thing, I never quite conquered the Hallelujah Chorus, but it was more than just that. The lyrics were never mere words; they are alive with His praise!

For instance, can the following words ever be old?

“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, mercy mild;
God and sinners reconciled!”

I don’t think so. It will always be amazing that God was so loving and merciful that He made a way for us – sinners – to be reconciled to Himself: an all holy, all just God.

The Christmas program was divided into three sections. Part one included about six Christmas songs presented from risers and steps in front of the tree. The music was fun and lighthearted.

Most of the singers filed out (including myself) at the beginning of part two and left a small group to sing a few more songs.

I took a few sips of much needed water before joining the rest of the Joy Bell Ringers to wait for our cue to reenter. It isn’t possible to express how much I enjoy bell choir. I've wanted to participate in a bell choir for several years, but I never thought it possible that my dream could come true. God had prepared this opportunity, and I am blessed weekly with the delightful bell music at our practices. It is a lot of work, but it is more than worth it to me. God is great!

My bell performance lasted 12 minutes or so, but it felt much faster than that. I wish it could have gone on and on.

As soon as the bells finished I rushed backstage to join the line of people climbing up into The Living Christmas Tree. The best part was yet to come!

My spot on the tree was the third layer from the bottom on the far right. The children sang a few songs while the tree was loaded, and after that the pastor shared the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth.

The next song was my favorite out of the entire program. My sister Susanna portrayed Mary in a trio with Gabriel and Joseph. It was hauntingly simple and beautiful. In it Gabriel tells Mary that she is to have a son – the Son of God Most High. She answers something like this:

I'm just a simple girl from a simple world.
Oh, angel, how can this be?

How can I have a child when I’m still a child?
Please tell me, how can this be?

I’m still a virgin. What will my parents say?
And what about Joseph? Can I really expect him to stay with me?

Oh, angel, I believe what you've said to me.
The Lord is with me.

Joseph enters and sings of the dream he had where he was told not to be afraid and go ahead with his marriage to Mary. The song ends with all three singing their parts and finalizing on, “The Lord is with you/me.” I love it!

The program begins in earnest now with six more choir songs and a full explanation of the gospel. Susanna dances during Mary, Did You Know. She dances; I pray. My prayer is that the Lord would move through her with His Spirit and touch people with His love. I was praying so hard – I almost forget to sing my “Oos” after the first solo part!

The Living Christmas Tree was a rewarding experience, and I praise God that my family was able to work together with our church this December to do something meaningful for our local community and the Kingdom of God. It was truly a family activity. My brother worked in the tech crew and helped film the program, and the rest of us sang.

Please pray that lost people would be impacted for God this Christmas season. Jesus is worthy to be praised!

Merry Christmas!