Thursday, December 19, 2013

Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem - 1868

Words by: Phillips Brooks, Music by: Lewis Redner

Micah 5:2 says, “But you, Bethlehem, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

Many considered Reverend Phillips Brooks an intimidating man. Not because of his bold preaching style, or that he was a native Bostonian. It wasn't because of his ninth generation Puritan stock or even his Harvard education. It was because he stood nearly six foot six and weighed more than three hundred pounds that made him so daunting.

In fact, his preaching underwent much criticism. People of his day said his doctrine was thin at best.  Nonetheless, he is considered one of America’s greatest preachers and went on to introduce the famous deaf, blind, mute, Helen Keller to Christianity.

Reverend Brooks upheld the cause of the North in the American Civil War and adamantly opposed the institution of slavery. On December 24, 1865, toward the end of the War Between the States, Brooks went on a trip to the Holy Land.

“I traveled by horseback from Jerusalem to attend a five-hour Christmas Eve service at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. I remember standing in the old church in Bethlehem. Close to the spot where Jesus was born, the whole church began ringing, hour after hour with splendid hymns of praise to God. Again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices I knew well! Telling each other of the Wonderful Night of the Savior’s birth!”

Three years later in 1867 as Brooks prepared for the Christmas season he desired to compose an original hymn for the children to sing at their annual program. The words to the song came quickly to Brooks. He gave the hymn to church organist, Lewis Redner and asked him to come up with a tune to go along with the poem.

Lewis wrestled with his assignment claiming the words gave him no inspiration. But on the night before the children’s program, he awoke with the music resounding in his ears! Quickly he wrote down the melody and fell back asleep. The following day, a group of Sunday school teachers and thirty-six children sang “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

The last stanza…usually omitted from our hymnbooks says:

Where children pure and happy, pray to the blessed Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hear No Evil By: Mary Hamilton

Admittedly, I have always been a fan of tween fiction…can’t get enough of it. Mary Hamilton’s debut book, Hear No Evil, didn’t fail to keep me entertained. The book begins with poor Brady McCaul being left at church camp where he knows absolutely no one. And to make matters worse his mother informs him that she no longer wants him living with her and her new husband and won’t be returning for him. His estranged father will pick him up at the end of the week. The book deals with bullying, having a handicap, pre-teen crushes and how God is with you during all the storms of life. Mom’s reason for leaving him isn’t revealed until the very end, leaving the reader in suspense through the entire novel. I have been to church camps in east Texas and Mary’s descriptions of the smells, sights and sounds were spot on. In conclusion, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story about trusting God when there’s no one else you can trust.
Hear No Evil will be available on November 5, 2013
Learn more about Mary at:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

Twelve years ago today, 9-11-01, I was driving my young son and daughter to their fifth and third grade classes at their elementary school. It would have been just after 8:00 Houston time. After I dropped them off I headed home with my eleven month old in the car-seat beside me.

The radio announcers were talking about a report that an airplane had accidentally hit the World Trade Center. There was a live reporter on the ground reporting from the scene. He said an airplane; probably a small prop plane had hit one of the towers. That’s when it happened. The second plane crashed into the other tower as he stood by and watched. At first he couldn't speak, when he did find the words he wanted to say were laced with disbelief, horror and tears. “This is not an accident. We are under attack.”

Panic set in. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn't call my husband; he had boarded a flight earlier that morning. My dad’s face popped into my mind. His shop was just around the corner from the kid’s school. He would know what to do.

I pulled into the shop driveway and honked my horn. Daddy came out of the office—the only one there at that time of morning. A concerned look came over his face as he glanced at my panicked expression. I told him to come listen to the radio in my car. When he heard the whole story he asked where Dan, my husband was. I told him he was in the air. He told me to go home…he would follow me.

I’d never seen that look on my father’s face. Something was terribly wrong.
We rushed to my house, turned on the television and checked on my mother who was safe at home. The news anchors told the horrific story:

American Airlines Flight 11: Left Boston's Logan Airport at 7:59 a.m. for Los Angeles. Hijackers flew the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.

United Airlines Flight 175: Left Logan Airport at 8:14 for Los Angeles Hijackers flew the plane into the South Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. (This was the one I heard…as it happened…on the radio at 8:03 Houston time.)

American Airlines Flight 77: Left Washington Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia at 8:20 a.m. headed to Los Angeles. The hijackers flew this plane into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m.

United Airlines Flight 93: Left Newark International Airport at 8:42 a.m. for San Francisco. The passengers banned together against the hijackers and the plane crashed to the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:03 a.m.

As the report came in about the fourth plane crash all I could think of was oh Dear God please make it stop. And it did…but then the buildings started to fall. I prayed for those trapped in the buildings, for the rescue teams, for our country. Heavenly Father help us all!

I needed to talk to my husband, but he hadn’t yet turned his cell phone back on following his flight. I panicked wondering if he’d even made it to his destination. My baby could sense my terror and whined all day long. The FAA grounded all planes within the continental U.S. at 8:40 a.m. Houston time. I called Dan’s phone number nonstop from the time he was supposed to have landed. He didn’t answer.

He finally turned his phone back on when he was in the taxi. He answered my call. My heart could start beating again. (From that day forward he calls me from the runway without fail. I hadn’t realized why he’d done that until just now.) I asked if he’d heard the news. He hadn’t so I told him. He relayed the information to his boss who didn’t believe a word of it. Dan was sick that he wasn’t there for me.

That’s pretty much all of my story. My dad stayed with me all day. He knew how upset I was. He told me to go check the kids out of school and I did. We didn’t know what else these terrorists had planned and we wanted them with us. They played video games all afternoon, having no understanding of the magnitude of what had happened.

My husband and his boss had to hitch a ride back home in another man’s rental car. Dan, along with the rest of the world will forever remember that horrible day. Not only because of the tragic circumstances but also because he would forever remember that America was ruthlessly violated the day before his 40th birthday.

In closing I would like to say…Happy birthday Dan. Let’s not have a repeat of your 40th

Photo courtesy of Paul McRae (Delta Niner)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

First Baptist Church of Porter, Texas Presents TEAM IMPACT!

Have you ever broke a concrete block, a baseball bat or bent a solid steel bar with your bare hands? I didn't think so. But Team Impact can!

This group of athletes consists of former NFL players, champion power lifters, and previous WWE wrestlers. 

Come to FBC Porter to witness amazing feats of strength and hear the positive message they have to share.

You don't want to miss this special event! September 20-22, 2013 in Porter, Texas.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Come one, come all to the First Baptist Church Porter SUMMER CELEBRATION to kick off our summer ministries. Join in the fun at First Baptist Church in Porter, Texas on FM 1314, (the big church next to the McDonalds). We look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, April 26, 2013

In His Arms

In March of 2013 I had the pleasure of embarking on my very first Caribbean cruise. The weather on the day I left out of Galveston, Texas was dreary at best. I dreaded that first night. My mind flashed to visions of the Titanic. How would the ship fare against the strong winds and choppy seas? Was I in for a rough night…would I be thrown out of my bed? To my amazement I drifted off to sleep that night to the soft gentle rocking of the ship.

I have since thought a lot about that night and how safe and secure I felt inside the great ship. It reminds me of the way God cradles us in his strong arms during the rough times in our lives. Those waves pelting against the cruise liner did little harm, and the storms we face are nothing when we have God standing firmly by our side.

He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107:29

Thank You Father for standing by my side no matter how strong the storm is.

Friday, March 15, 2013

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling - St. Patrick's Day 2013

St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland was born in approx. 390 AD in Britannia (Britain). When he was about 16 years old he was captured by pirates and taken to Ireland.

An Irish Blessing
May good luck be with you
Wherever you go
And your blessing outnumber
The shamrocks that grow

While in captivity Patrick prayed daily and his faith grew. After six years he escaped and made his way back home.

A Blessing For You And Yours
May the grace of God’s protection
And His great love abide
Within you home-within the hearts
Of all who dwell inside
After returning home Patrick had a vision of a man carrying letters. The man gave him one and he opened it. Inside the letter he heard the voices of the Irish people telling him, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”

From The Breastplate of St. Patrick
Christ be with me, Christ be within me
Christ behind me, Christ before me
Christ beside me, Christ to win me
Christ to comfort me, Christ above me
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger
Christ in hearts of all that love me
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger

Patrick trained for several years before returning to Ireland. After his return he wrote back that he baptized thousands of people and ordained priests to lead the new Christian communities.

An Irish Blessing
May joy and peace surround you
Contentment latch your door
And happiness be with you now
And bless you evermore
According to, 13 million pints of Guinness are consumed around the world on St. Patrick’s Day. That’s enough to fill 60% of the Empire State Building.

An Irish Blessing
May your home be filled with laughter
May your pockets be filled with gold
And may you have all the happiness
Your Irish heart can hold

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th, the anniversary of the day he died in 460 AD in County Down.

I wonder if it’s possible he died from green beer poisoning?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It’s Called Steampunk…And I Like It!

Steam*punk [steem-puhngk] noun
A subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.

Side note: There seems to be a huge debate on what is and is not actually steampunk. With all due respect, I’m seriously not here to argue that point as I am unqualified to do so.

Still don’t understand? Here’s a list of some movies I’ve seen that claim the “steampunk” genre:

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Sleepy Hollow (Staring Johnny Depp…Scream!)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Stardust (Highly recommend this movie)
The Brothers Grimm
The Prestige (Excellent movie)

Wow, it appears that I really like steampunk movies! That said, I would like to share my recent experience of having read my very first steampunk novel. Magnificent Devices is the first book in Shelley Adina’s Lady Of Devices steampunk series. Here is a short advertisement found on Ms. Adina’s website.

Lady Of Devices – Magnificent Devices

London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.

At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices.

When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his…if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals…

This little blurb really caught my attention, but I have to admit it was the $0.00 price tag that sold me on the book. One click and the book popped up on my Kindle App. How easy is that? But here’s a little hint, I checked the price of the book on Kindle today, 2-26-13 and it’s already gone up to .99 cents, so hurry up and get it while it’s still cheap!

I had a bit of a hard time getting into the first chapter of the book because I didn’t know what to expect, but by chapter two I was completely in the groove. Shelley doesn’t mention anything about it in the book’s cover copy, and I don’t think it would cause any spoilers, but the best part of the book for me started in chapter 14 when she meets her new gang.

Shelley wrote the chapters about the children perfectly, from their thick cockney accents to their disheveled attire. I fell in love with them and raced through to the end of the book.

I would highly recommend this book. What have you got to lose, but .99 cents? How much did I like it? So much that I bought book two, Her Own Devices and book three, also called Magnificent Devices, earlier today.  Can’t wait to dive into these steampunk offerings. Bravo Shelley Adina on a job well done!