Welcome to the official first day of winter (December 21).
For some of us, winter arrived a couple of weeks ago as much of North America was blanketed with snow and cold temperatures.
One thing positive about the winter solstice is this.
The days begin to grow longer once again.
Aren't you :-)
Ever so slowly, they do begin to grow longer.
It is already happening on the night side.
Now this is important to me, as I have suffered from 'Seasonal Affect Disorder' (SAD) in some past winters.
The shorter, cloudy days of West Michigan can make it hard on some people.
December is usually the cloudiest month of the year for us and much of that once again has to do with prevailing winds and Lake Michigan.
The warmer water creates cloud banks that can hang around for days.
Often on a rare sunny day, we can still see the clouds hanging over the lake.
When the wind is from the east, much of Wisconsin gets the clouds.
Okay, enough on that.
Feeders remain busy as more and more birds come for the hand outs.
When I get the chance, I will get some images to share with you.
Feel free to make your birds and wildlife something special.
They may not know the difference, but you will.
If you look to the east on a clear night you can see the constellation Orion in all its glory.
Check between 7 and 8 o:clock in your time zone.
With a pair of binoculars, you can see the Great Orion Nebula tucked in the sword hanging from the belt.
In dark locations you may see the fuzz ball with the naked eye.
Follow Orion across the winter sky, it will rise about 4 minutes earlier every day/night until you find it in the west after dark by spring time.
You may or may not know this, but we see more stars in the winter months than in the summer.
During the winter, our nights are facing into the Milky Way and during the summer months, night time is facing the vast emptiness of the universe.
Because our system is on the outer edge, we see or don't see quantities of stars certain times of the year.
To bad, because I enjoy the night skies and it gets a bit cold out there with a telescope.
Our 15 year old grand daughter Jasmine spent the weekend and helped me with some baking.
With no school this week I tried to recruit her to help me with the rest of my baking, But I think I lost the negotiation battle before it ever started.
Girls learn everything early in life don't they?
I still have a batch or two of cookies to bake (dough is made), but other than that, everything else s pretty much taken care of.
Few of you commented about last week and I began to wonder if you may have thought that Ron finally lost it.
You know, paddling with one Orr.
A pickle short of a full jar.
Or some other metaphor commonly used.
Still I hope you really thought about and maybe did some research of your own.
Thank for your comments and kind words.
I understand the idea of a 'Heart Brain' may be difficult to swallow, but there is a method to my madness.
This is also the week of Christmas.
The time of year earth celebrates the birth of Christ.
We feel him in our heart.
This being Christmas season my Christmas letter,
God and the heart go hand in hand.
God after all is Love.
Last week was the build up on the heart and how the heart brain functions for us.
Today, the Creator of that same heart and his gift to us.
Every Christmas I allow myself an opportunity to write about Christmas and what it truly means.
Some of you have been with me throughout the years and understand, while others are quite new and may not realize where I am coming from.
I am a Christian Man.
I love my God.
I am thankful for the gifts he gave us and continues to do so.
I will not shove it down your throat, but I will not back down either.
Feel free to delete this letter or ignore it if you feel I offend you.
I must write about it.
Also, so I can spend the Holiday season with my family, there will be no letter next week, but I promise to be back the first Monday of the New Year.
We have a couple more Christmas Memories.
Thank you for everyone that contributed this year.
Molly of Dutton, Virginia
I don't have any what you would call special memories of Christmas, seems that all of mine were good. I remember every year saying this is the BEST Christmas Ever! And then hearing my daughters say the same thing was wonderful too.
This is my special one.
This year I have totally forgotten the commercial part of Christmas and have concentrated on the real reason for the Holiday. I don't feel guilty one bit about that either and I think that should bother me but it doesn't. I took half of my last week's grocery money and bought food for the food bank. We have managed to eat in spite of that which tells me we have entirely too much! Thanks for all of the wonderful newsletters through the year.
That is awesome Molly.
Being a human hand for God and reaching out to his people is truly a gift and a blessing for you and others.
Alex from Hamilton, New Jersey
There are many things that make Christmas enjoyable, between all of the winter birds at my feeders and my grandfather's train set. I also enjoy watching and studying the many deer, bucks and does, every Sunday. They are the times you just can't forget. I love decorating my family's Christmas tree, with many special ornaments and beautiful lights. It seems like a typical holiday season, but the way I see and enjoy it, it's not. The numerous flocks of geese fly over from dawn to dusk, they seem to be saying Merry Christmas in a strange way, through their repeating honks.
Christmas is a wonderful time for all- especially me.
Alex my young friend (are you still 10) I enjoy hearing from you. Getting mail from a young reader that enjoys wildlife is exciting for me.............. it gives hope for another generation and that is your gift to me and I thank you.
Keep it up my young naturalist friend.
There you have it, for this years Christmas favorites.
Thank you everyone that participated this month and hopefully w can do it again.
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
Yes, that is a song we all know that was made famous by Andy Williams.
However, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
It should be.
After all, we are celebrating the most wonderful birth of all time.
The ultimate Present.
The virgin birth of our Lord Jesus.
Christmas is a celebration of life.
A celebration of giving.
It's not supposed to be one huge commercial racket where we go into hock.
Me, me, me.
I want, I want , I want.
Get me, get me, get me.
Its not about you and me.
Never has been.
Yes, it is a celebration about giving, but of yourself and what you can give, as God gave to us the most precious gift of all.
He gave his son and the free opportunity for eternal life with him (salvation).
Now that is one eternal celebration.
With each passing year, Karen and I find ourselves wanting or asking for little and giving more to the needy and doing it freely and happily.
You know something....................
It sure makes us feel good when we can give to the needy.
This year it was several pair of socks, tooth paste, tooth brushes and other toiletries dropped off at one of the homeless shelters.
Every year we give to 'Toys For Tots' and other caring organizations, not to mention the Salvation army kettles.
Why, Jesus commanded us to do so.
Giving to those in need (you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me).
Christmas, a Time
to Celebrate Life.
A time to help (give) the needy, to serve others.
Jesus was and is always helping the needy.
God shows grace and mercy on us (what a gift).
Thank You Lord!
You may be familiar with the True Christmas story.
Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus and the manger.
I will get to that, but I will attempt to give you a new look at the whole story from the very beginning of time.
Stay with me.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God, all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Genesis 1: 26
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and so every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."
So, in the very beginning, we see references of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
God and the Spirit are mentioned in, Genesis 1
John 1, clearly mentions that he (Jesus) was with God in the beginning and nothing was made without him.
Genesis 1- 26 makes it clear that man was made in OUR (THEIR) image.
Yes, the stage is being set.
Step forward to the garden of Eden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis chapter 3 tells of the fall of man and the first sin.
He cursed the serpent and it also tells us a small bit on Jesus to the rescue.
I will put enmity (Jesus) between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Jesus stands between us and the evil one that seeks to destroy us. The bruising is Calvary).
The Coming of Christ is mentioned several times in the Old Testament.
Here is an example.
Several centuries before The birth, it is prophesied in the Book of Isaiah.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son and call his name Immanuel.
One more piece to the puzzle is foretold.
Micah 5: 2- 4
But you O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old. from ancient day. Therefore he shall give up until the time when she who is in travail has brought forth; then the rest of his brethren shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.
Jesus came from the small clan of Judah and born in the small town of Bethlehem.
And now.................... He is Great to the ends of the earth
Isn't this exciting?
From the beginning of time to the birth of Jesus, God had planned the most wonderful time of the year for then and for all time.
Can you imagine spending that much time making or shopping for the perfect gift.
Can you imagine the celebration?
Now the stage is set.
Luke 1: 26 - 35
Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name is Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and his kingdom there will be no end. And Mary said to the angel, " How shall this be, since I have no husband? And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
Matthew 1: 18-27
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and here husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. but as he considered this, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and called his name Jesus.
The virgin birth not only tells us that this is truly a miracle of God, but also is a symbol purity, innocence and holiness
Wow, What a plan.
What a birthday celebration that must have taken place in Heaven?
Yet here on earth it barely went noticed.
Time for a head count.
There were no pamphlets in the mail or a person from the Census Bureau knocking on your door. Nope, you had to go to the city where your heritage lies.
Now this just happened to be the time of Jesus birth and the town was full of others waiting to be counted.
And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And in that 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, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"
How about that.......................
The birthday bash is so large, the over flow from heaven reaches earth.
I knew it...................
I knew there had to be a party going on.
Is this all fit for a king?
I mean the King of Kings?
The most humble of births and visited by common folk shepherds. (there is a story line here as well but not today).
Lord of Lords.
Creator of the universe and everything within.
Lowers himself and limits himself to be born as a common person.
To experience life as we do.
He was tempted in every way that we are tempted.
He felt love and happiness
He felt sorrow
He felt pain
He experienced every human temptation and negetive emotion we ever feel (he never acted on them).
He had to......... or the great birthday present was for nothing.
Can you ever begin to imagine what this must've been like?
Leaving Heaven, your home since..................well, before the beginning of time.
The fact that God loves us so much that he gave us the perfect gift for all time.
A gift that will last through eternity (if you accept him).
Now, we have the perfect gift and we celebrate the Birth of Christ.
However, being the perfect Father, God also is teaching us.
He is teaching us the importance of giving and giving freely with your heart.
Christmas isn't gimme, gimme, gimme.
Christmas isn't a shopping list and crowded malls.
Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ.
To love, to share and to give.
When you get something, it is the thought that counts (hopefully) not the gift you asked for.
Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.
We don't need snow or mistletoe.
I love my Lord and I thank God daily for the most perfect gift of all.
I also thank him for his gift of family, friends, a home, nature and of course I thank him for you too.
Yes, I suppose Christmas is about children as well, after all, didn't Jesus say to let the little children come to him.
And we do celebrate and have parties for our kids.
Remember, I wont be here next week.
Well, it's time to fly for now.
Please have a heart felt and Blessed, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the 'Patterson House (Ron, Karen, Yolanda and fur kids)' to you and yours and remember the Christ in Christmas.
Before I go, here are your multiple Positive thoughts for the week.
For Christmas, I will give you more than one positive thought and no follow up.
Consider it a little gift from me to you.
"Give what you have to somebody, it may be better than you think"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"He who cannot give anything away cannot feel anything either"
"We are rich only through what we give, and poor only through what we refuse"
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"If you give money, spend yourself with it"
Henry David Thoreau
You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving"
Robert Louis Stevenson
"We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to our fingers."
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
A Very Merry God Felt Christmas from me to you, and I'll be back the first part of 2010 so Happy New year as well.
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our
Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb
Your friend indeed,
PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
Gardening For Wildlife.