One of the fun aspects of going on cruise in November is that we got to watch the ship transform into holiday decor.  These changes came out little by little each day and were wonderful to see.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.


More Dog Pics

Here are the final pics of my parents’ dogs.  Sometimes we have trouble trying to identify which ones they are, but they were all fun to have around growing up.  This first one is Glory and Toot.  My dad always said Glory looked like Senator Dirksen because her hair stuck straight up (and the similarly was true).

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Glory “sang” beautifully every time I played the piano.  It was hilarious!


One of the dogs wasn’t afraid to climb the ladder up to the attic.


They all loved to play frisbee with me.



They were all ornery at times.


But they had to put up with us, too.

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They all loved getting wet at the lake, and hanging out with all the friends that came and went.

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Family is always fun to hang out with.




This next photo looks like Glory and Toot are admiring a photo of themselves!


I think this photo of me is with Maggie, an adorable pup.





Silent Night

Here are the lyrics to that beautiful hymn that was written (it is said) because the bellows of the organ had been destroyed by mice.  They needed something “silent” that could be performed with guitar rather than organ.  What a beautiful Christmas carol!

Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright

Round yon virgin mother and child.  Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.


Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight.

Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing alleluia;

Christ, the Savior is born!  Christ, the Savior is born!


Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

–Joseph Mohr


Herald Angels

What do you suppose the word “herald” means?  Three things:

  1. An official messenger or representative of a monarch
  2. A forerunner, or person or thing that precedes or comes before
  3. A person or thing that proclaims or announces

Here is the hymn of the day:

Hark!  the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King:

Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”

Joyful, all ye nations, rise, Join the triumph of the skies;

With the angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark!  the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King.”


Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ the everlasting Lord!

Late in time behold Him come, Offspring of the Virgin’s womb.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail th’incarnate Deity,

Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”


Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!  Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings.

Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die;

Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.

Hark!  the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

–Charles Wesley

A Midnight Clear

This week I’m sharing some of my favorite Christmas hymn lyrics. Here is one of the beautiful ones we sing every year:

It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old,

From angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold:

“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men, From heaven’s all-gracious King:”

The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.


And ye, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low,

Who toil along the  climbing way with painful steps and slow,

Look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing:

O rest beside the weary load, and hear the angels sing.


For lo, the days are hastening on, by prophet seen of old,

When, with the ever circling years, shall come the time foretold,

When the new heaven and earth shall own the Prince of Peace their King,

And the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

–Edmund H. Sears


Christmas Gifts for Kids

It’s that wonderful time of year again — time to send Christmas gifts to your sponsored children!  Imagine how much it means to them to receive that extra attention and love from you.  What happens when you send money to Compassion for Christmas gifts?  See the video below for more information.

Christmas Presence

I told you I would share a final, special, quote regarding my Word of the Year for 2014.  Here it is.  I thought this was an amazing way to sum up all I had been learning about this word — Presence — throughout the year.  Oddly, it was right on the front page of the Jackson Hole Daily.  I always seem to find my “Word” quotes in the most unexpected places, as God speaks to me daily (no pun intended).  This was a Christmas devotional from one of the local pastors, and it was filled with my word, “presence,” although with a very interesting twist:

The Gift of Christmas Presence

If you’re like me, you’ve probably done some shopping lately in order to buy presents for your loved ones. I enjoy walking around Town Square and shopping at our local stores. The lights and the festive decor are just what I need to put me in the Christmas spirit.
Like many of you, I often stop and wonder why we are so busy at Christmastime. Many of us are worn out and broke by the time New Year’s arrives. While I enjoy giving and receiving presents, I know there is something more to Christmas than maxing out credit cards, eating too many sweets, drinking too much eggnog and acquiring a bunch of stuff.  Quite honestly I don’t remember most of my past Christmas presents, but I definitely remember the treasured time I’ve spent with loved ones during the holidays. As I get older I seem to want more time and fewer things. I want quality time with loved ones, not the newest iPhone or gadget. I want the gift of Christmas presence, not Christmas presents.
The good news of the Christmas story is summed up in the word Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” It’s the belief that Jesus of Nazareth was God present with us. John, one of the men who walked and talked with Jesus, testified that God became flesh in Jesus Christ and dwelt among us. Eugene Peterson paraphrased this by saying, “God moved into the neighborhood.” We received the gift of God’s presence in Jesus. God loved the world so much that the Lord came to dwell among us to shower us with His grace and to teach us how to live and love. Even more, we are all invited to be with Jesus in God’s presence for eternity.
As a follower of Christ, I am challenged to walk in His footsteps by practicing the ministry of presence with others. I am called to step out of my comfort zone and remind people that God loves them by spending time with them. I believe the world needs God’s presence working in and through ordinary people like you and me.
Now that you are done Christmas shopping, I have something else for you to consider: Who needs the gift of your presence right now? How will you give the gift of God’s love by being present with others this holiday season and on into 2015?

[Rev. Ben Pascal, senior pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole, WY, Jackson Hole Daily, 12/24/14]