Jacksonville Beach out did itself with this year’s DECK THE CHAIRS holiday lights display in Latham Plaza. The exhibit showcases the 40 lifeguard chairs used in the summer by The American Red Cross Life Saving Corps. In December they glitter in colorful lights. It is free and open to the public.
In my opinion, “Jelly Fish Park” stole the show. The largest display, this one has ak moral to it’s story. The tentacles of the jelly fish are filled with non-biodegradable refuse that washed up on the beach.
Here we are, the three Musketeers. In front of “Jelly Fish Park” taking a selfie, left to right: my daughter Victoria, my friend Lynn Wood Rix who writes as Dalyn Woods, and Moi. We’re bundled because Floridians think water freezes at 50 degrees.
Santa’s Workshop, as the name implies, was whimsical and fun.
Then we have Santa’s sleigh pulled by service dogs.
In keeping with the animal theme, we have a pet adoption display. The displays are sponsored by local businesses and not for profits. This one is sponsored by Fur Sisters…Fur Ever Urs Rescue.
This is Jacksonville Beach for crying out loud, so there has to be a seahorse.
And an anchor…
And a lighthouse. We teased Lynn that the beautiful lady standing next to the lighthouse eerily resembled her…
Let’s not forget the palm trees.
No Christmas light display would be complete without a thirty-foot high Christmas tree.
Lynn, Victoria, and I wish you all a blessed holiday season and a very merry and bright Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.
Thanksgiving Day is gone, though thanksgiving continues as a way of life for me. So, now I’m thankful that Christmas is coming. For me the day after Thanksgiving is the “official start of the Christmas season” which doesn’t end on December 26th. No, I also celebrate the 12-Days of Christmas and end the season on December 6th with Epiphany.
In my house, the day after Thanksgiving is the day for taking out my large plastic “Christmas bins.”
This year I did some research and I found out surveys show that people who celebrate Christmas early tend to be happy people. All I know on a personal level is that I feel great when I jump into the Christmas season with both feet.
Isaiah 9:6For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. ~ New American Standard Bible [NASB]
My feeling is that “Christmasy people” enjoy the “Light” the season brings. Even the non religious feel the light piercing the darkness and they like it. I don’t decry the overabundance of lights on houses as commercialism. Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph don’t upset me. I know Santa Claus isn’t the baby Jesus. I also know the real St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who gave gifts to the poor. I don’t mistake my Santa figurines as “the reason for the season.” Not for one second. But Santa does make me smile. Still, I know if there had never been a Jesus, there would not have been a Santa Claus.
I love to see smiles breaking out on the faces of children when they sit on Santa’s lap. Too often our children are fretful, feeling the anxiety and weight of the world in this angry time. Laughing when they see Frosty or Rudolph is a welcome break. It’s the Light breaking through the darkness. It’s children being allowed to be children, even for a short time. It’s the joy of the season breaking out. It can’t be contained. Darkness can’t hold it back.
I’m a firm believer that you can’t decorate on an empty stomach.
It is up to the church to tell the story of the baby Jesus. If we tell the age-old glorious story, they will listen. We must tell them.
The Birth of Jesus ~ ~ Luke 2 ~ New Living Translation [NLT]
2 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census.4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
The Shepherds and Angels
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished,19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
First of all, and it almost goes without saying, but must be said, I’m thankful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
And I’m thankful for the support of my fellow Christian fiction author friends, mentors, and associates who walk this faith journey, as do I. You all inspire me and help to keep me going, especially on the days when I want to quit.
For those Grace Awards board members who helped me to begin a great adventure in Christian fiction awards. The Grace Awards will undergo changes this year, but we hope will be informative and will continue to expand the tent pegs of Christian fiction.
For The American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) for their writing classes and critique groups most of all. These have helped improve the quality of Christian fiction writing and continues to help maintain high standards. I want to do a shout out to Grace Bridges, who in my first ACFW crit group reigned in an exuberant and totally unskilled writer and taught me about head-hopping and how to write point-of-view correctly, and most of all that fiction writing is a craft that takes time and effort to learn. I mention Grace, not to exclude others, but because I remember myself back then… LOL
For the internet…for all the obvious reasons. For tech companies making laptops smaller so I can more easily cart mine around.
I’m grateful that after over ten years at this writing fiction stuff, I’m still around. Others who entered this racket when I did have quit. I’m grateful that I have a new detective novel that just released, COURTING DANGER.
COURTING DANGER: Taut and compelling detective story, with a national security twist. Dry humor. Sweet, romance. Uplifting.
Newly installed Pelican Beach, Florida detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko fears the prime suspect will get off in the murder of a teen with the help of the department’s forensics psychologist, a man she’s just started to trust.
This case has national security implications that gives former US Army Ranger, Dr. Dimitri Garmonin a chance to work with the FBI. The case could give him the chance to obtain the funds needed to expand his small Behavior Analysis Unit. He’s unmoved by the chic FBI agent sent to assist but is intrigued by Kat with whom he shares a Slavic heritage.
Kat and her partner detain two wrong suspects, giving the department negative press. The predator turns his anger on Kat, targeting her. Can Dimitri use his profiler skills to catch this killer before he hurts the woman he’s growing to love?
Nike N. Chillemi writes contemporary detective and/or suspense novels with a touch of wry humor, and there’s often a national security twist to them. She likes her bad guysreally bad, her good guys smarter and better, and a touch of the comedic. Her newest endeavor is COURTING DANGER.
Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chair, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories; and an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series (out of print), set in the mid-1940s has finaled, won an award, and garnered critical acclaim. The first novel in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes series HARMFUL INTENT won in the Grace Awards 2014 Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense category. She has written book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and John 3:16 Marketing Network.https://nikechillemi.blog/
Most evangelical Christians have an appreciation of the Jewish Feasts and many of us study them, especially charismatic Christians. This is a little known fact outside of evangelical circles. We also honor Jewish biblical culture and history. The most basic reason for evangelicals having an understanding of the Hebrew feast days is simply because they’re in the Bible, in the Old Testament. Christians adhere to two testaments, the Old and the New. If God put the Jewish feasts in The Book, they’re important to us. Evangelical Christians are a biblical people.
The Gregorian calendar is not God’s calendar. The Hebrew calendar is. The Hebrew calendar is marked by the Jewish feasts, as set out in the Bible. If evangelicals want to have an understanding of how God marks time, and most do, we must have a basic understanding of the Hebrew calendar. Evangelicals are a people of The Book.
That said, Christians have peace with and are reconciled to God through believing in the finished work of Jesus…PERIOD. Nothing else!
Genesis 12:3 ~ And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” [New American Standard Bible, NASB]
The above verse refers to Israel and the Jewish people. Most evangelicals are ardent supporters of Israel and defenders of the Jewish people. Why? Because we are Bible people, and it’s the right thing to do.
Some of us are single, solo, and alone because our hero husband died on the battlefield, or in a training accident. Some are single, solo, and alone because our hero husband came back from the battlefield all messed up in the mind or the body, and he left us.
In this world today, Memorial Day is not only to honor departed military, but also departed first responders. They are also on the battlefield to hold off those who would destroy civilization.
In times of grief, darkness, loneliness, it’s the time for prayer…for all of us. This is the time to know God loves us. He has not left us. He is near us. It’s time to know what God’s Word says about us.
Psalm 139 ~ New American Standard Version [NASB]
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. 5 You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.
19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed. 20 For they speak against You wickedly, And Your enemies take Your name in vain. 21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? 22 I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
Tips and Suggestions for Singles/Soloers on Memorial Day:
Make sure you have time with God.
Start your day with praise and worship music in your home.
Plan a Memorial Day activity with family and friends. Make sure there’s time for remembrance and time for fun in your day.
Get around others. Don’t be alone all day. Go to a public Memorial Day activity.
If you need to get away from grief, go to lunch/dinner and a comedic movie with a family member(s) or a friend(s). Go bowling, swimming, surfing, fishing with family and/or friends.
Commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem with palms is entirely a Christian thing. Our forefathers and mothers in the church, even children lauded King Jesus in this way. Ordinary people. Though they most likely didn’t know what kind of King He was.
Then they hurried and each man took his garment and placed it under him on the bare steps, and blew the trumpet, saying, “Jehu is king!” ~ 2 Kings 9:13 [New American Standard Bible]
This is a very important day in human history. It is the day that Jesus began his last journey…His journey to the cross. This is not the event that would change everything, but it’s the event that points to the cross and resurrection.
Palm Sunday is a day of great hope. We are reminded that hope sometimes must endure a dark night, dark season. But God is glorious. His grace is perfect and He loves us. He will bring us through.
The story of Palm Sunday and the events of the last Passover are told in the Gospel of Matthew, starting in Chapter 21, and in the Gospel of Mark, starting in Chapter 11.