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Black Smudges on Foreheads Means…What?

February 22nd, 2012 by stephanie

If you see black smudges on someone’s forehead today? Don’t panic. Today is Ash Wednesday.

In case today catches you a bit by surprise, perhaps this info will spare you an awkward moment with that colleague or person on the street that you might encounter.
Trivia: On Ash Wednedsay.
People go to church, and the priest makes the sign of the cross on their forehead–with ashes.

Here are some talking points:
– The Ashes are made from the burned palm branches leftover from last year’s Palm Sunday services.
– Today is the first day of Lent.
– Ash Wednesday is 40 days before Good Friday.
– It is the day after Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras).

SO, here’s the deal. In the Bible, Ashes signify mourning. When in angst, people would tear their clothes and put ashes on their head (see: 1 Samuel 4:12, Esther 4:1).

Ashes also are a symbol of how the sinner feels when he stands before an almighty God.

So there you have it. Ash Wednesday brings to remembrance these things:
1. You and I are sinners (saved by the action of Christ on the cross).
2. God is all powerful, just, and holy (we are not).
3. Life is short. Make the most of it (not just physically and mentally, but spiritually, too).

The next 40 days of Lent were created to give you time to ponder these very things and other points of life.

But most importantly, if you see folks today with a dark smudge on their foreheads (in the shape of a cross), you will at least now hopefully not walk up to them and say, “Hey, you’ve got something on your forehead.”

Just my thoughts,
S.

The Skinny on Fat Tuesday.

February 15th, 2012 by stephanie

Pancake Day. King Cake. Worrying about what you’ll give up for Lent? If any of these are on your mind, it’s probably because they’re all going down TODAY! For those of you wondering what this blog post has to do with anything, these traditions/holidays have been around for centuries. And, holidays mean food…and I am alllll about the food.

So what do Pancakes, King Cakes and giving up something for Lent have to do with each other? Well, you may have heard of it. It’s called…

MARDI GRAS – AKA Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday. Also known as Pancake Day.

Basically, the last chance to party hearty before the Season of Fasting (Lent) begins. Which is tomorrow. Wednesday – ASH WEDNESDAY:

Just what is Lent?: A time to reflect on and prepare hearts for the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It’s when people give up something, like chocolate or ____ (fill in the blank).

When does Lent end? In a massive celebration, called EASTER (the day Christ rose from the grave.)

Now, in all honesty, you won’t find any of the above “celebrations” or “traditions” (or any of their specific names or days) in the Bible, but that’s for another conversation.

We’ll dish a bit about these feast and fast days as we begin our journey into Holy Week! Hey, if you’re smart, you’ll find a way to ask time off for one of these “religious” holidays. If you’re an atheist, however, it might be a bit tricky to pull off. (wink)
Just my thoughts,
S.

Valentines Day: Why bother?

February 13th, 2012 by stephanie

Valentines Day. Do you really have to celebrate it or acknowledge it? Well, that all depends on who is in our lives as we approach this holiday of the heart.

MEN:
If there is a special lady in your life, may I suggest that you have something planned. Even if it’s a bad economy/recession-friendly kinda thing. You can’t do the 5-Star restaurant this year. Not to worry. A nice cozy, inexpensive place will do to make your gal feel special. Just make sure it’s an environment where you can “chat”. SHE will usually want to “talk” — even if you feel you have nothing to say. Brush up on a bit of celebrity gossip. (Some gal at work can provide you a few talking points.) Maybe check out a few hit songs of late. And anything else your “girl” is interested in. See if you can’t get a bit of scoop in advance. Or, default to what you did this week. Yes. What you did.

LADIES:
I know this may be a tough one, but for the good of the order: Don’t expect too much. It just isn’t necessary and it doesn’t make love, well…love. Love is about who the two of you are when you’re together. A good match. Hopefully. So, let him have his night and do as best he can and then have the grace to praise him for it.

CALLING ALL SINGLES!
Ok, this is where we don’t spend the evening in a gallon of ice cream. Statistics show that (unfortunately) most couples this week just might not have that romantic evening they were planning. Some will squabble. Others’ expectations will not be met and they will pout. And, well, things happen.
Now, we all know some folks will have a wonderful evening, and you know GOOD for them. Let’s all be adults and cheer them on.

But for you dear savvy, single friend, this is your night to enjoy those in your life that truly are there for you when the chips are down. Speaking of chips, grab a few of your favorite bags and a couple of movies you’ve been wanting to see and call those extra special friends over for some good ‘ol “friend” time.
Perhaps hitting that favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican place with your favorite pals.

Whatever the case this year, here are my highly overrated tips for you:
1. Make plans now. They don’t have to be grand. Just make them.
2. Pick your absolute favorite person or pals.
3. Do something you really love to do and ask them, today, to join you.

Pretty simple. And with that, we should all have a very happy Valentine’s Day.
PS: Guys, Valentines Day is tomorrow.
🙂

Just my thoughts.
S.

When Your Birthday Ranks Holiday Status.

February 8th, 2012 by stephanie

If you’ve ever seen the movie Holiday Inn, with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, you will recall that they put on and performed Broadway-type shows that celebrated major American holidays at this quaint New England inn in the countryside. One thing most folks may not remember is that, like the Holiday Inn portrayed in that film, our nations citizens used to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday and George Washington’s separately and on different days. Not combined into one, as we do today. (This particular movie classic reminded me of that!)

Washington’s actual date of birth was February 22. And Lincoln’s birthday is the 12th. Interestingly, in the 1950’s there was a President’s Day Committee (that came out of California) whose goal was to turn the day into a celebration of merely the office of the Presidency.

We went from celebrating Lincoln’s Day and Washington’s Day to President’s Day. Then we went to Presidents-plural-in general-day. Clear as mud?

And there you have it. So, whether you plan to take off Presidents Day weekend, or if this is all news to you, you now have a bit of trivia behind all the February Federal fuss. Whatever your plans, why not plan to take a moment to remember a great man…on the 12th.

Just my thoughts. Yours?
Stephanie

“And Forgive Us Our Trash Baskets…”

February 4th, 2012 by stephanie

Are you finding it hard to forgive someone lately? When the email titled “Church Kids” arrivedin my inbox, I didn’t realize it would end up as part of a blog. It was a kind of “kids say the craziest things” collection and I have to admit, these were new to me. It was one child’s version of the Lord’s prayer, however, that really hit home. It went like this: “And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those that put trash in our basket.”

Wow, I thought. If that child only knew how right on the money they were!.

Isn’t it the truth? It’s easy for me to ask God to forgive the sin in my life. (My personal trash basket.) But oh how much harder it is to forgive those that frustrate and complicate my life with their sins. The ones that put their trash in my basket of life.

I certainly don’t want God remembering or punishing me for my flub ups. Yet, for some reason, I don’t seem to mind Him recalling the offenses of the people who have wronged or hurt me. I would imagine you understand and may be going through something of this nature right now.

It’s in those times that I have to consciously remind myself that God has forgiven and loves the folks that hurt me. I didn’t say it was easy. But the reality is this-Christ died for their sins too. Not just mine. Sure, I’d like to think I am the center of my Creator’s world. But I’m not. There’s a few billion more out there that He has His eye on and cares about as well. In an odd way, that’s comforting. Why? Because it means that He deals with my trash and your trash everyday-and He can handle it. Our trash baskets don’t phase Him a bit and what’s inside of them doesn’t change His love for either of us. That’s a pretty cool thought.

There’s a great verse that sort of helps me see that God just might be the great trash taker-outter.
It reads: And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins. Psalm 103:12

Just my thoughts,
S.

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