Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Blog

I started a new blog and have been posting at markowilson.com.  Come over for a visit!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Shepherds and Wise Men Both Made it to Bethlehem


Some people come to Jesus like the shepherds.

Out in the fields, minding their own business -- and kablammo!
Something big happens!

Angels show up!  a huge angel choir!  Glory to God in the highest!

Life change in a moment.

The shepherds drop everything and run to Bethlehem, where they find
teh Christ-child lying in a manger.

They rejoice, celebrate and end up broadcasting the good news
everywhere they go.  Glory!  Glory!  Hallelujah!

Others come to Jesus like the wise men.

They see a distant star in the east and are puzzled by its appearing.
"What does this mean?", they wonder.  After a long pondering, they
begin a long, winding journey of faith.

It takes them quite a while to figure things out -- with plenty of
detours along the way.  But, eventually, they, too, end up in
Bethlehem.

Departing, they did not cause a big scene like the shepherds --but had
the experience of inner transformation as well (though of the "still
waters" variety.)

I like the manger scenes where wise men and shepherds are all together
at the manger.

Though most Bible scholars say otherwise, as a hopeless romantic, I
imagine love to imagine it just like the Christmas cards.  I picture
them kneeling before Jesus side by side:  rich and poor, wise men and
shepherds, locals and tourists -- all worshiping Jesus together!  It's
would be just like God's timing to arrange it that way.

The important lesson here?  It doesn't matter whether you are a
shepherd or a wise man.  Shepherds aren't better because they dashed
dashed to Jesus.  Wise men aren't better because they took a longer,
thoughtful, more reflective route.

The only thing that matters is that they both ended up worshiping
Jesus in Bethlehem.

Great Computer Cookies

Here's a treasure trove of cookie recipes just in time for Christmas.  Click on the cookie's name, and presto -- you'll get the recipe! This is for all the folks who complain about "cookies" on their computers.  (Thanks Sue Bartz!)

 1-2-3 Cookies 7 Layer Cookies Allie Nelson's Famous Snickerdoodle Cookies Almond Crescent Shortbread Amish Sugar Cookies Andies Candies Cookies Angel Crisps Angenets Applesauce Cookies Apricot Fold-Overs Aunt Edy's Molasses Crinkles Auntie Linda's Ginger Gems Bakeless Dream Cookies Banana Drop Cookies Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World Biscotti Biscotti Blueberry Cookies Boiled Chocolate Oatmeal Drop Cookies Bronwnies Brown Sugar Shortbread Brownie Cookies Brownie Delight Brownies Buccaneer Snowballs Buried Cherry Cookies Butter Cookies Butter Nut Balls Butterballs Butterscotch Haystacks C.O.P. Cookies Candy Cane Cookies Candy Cookies Caramel Shortbread Cheesecake Brownies Cherry Buns Cherry Crowns Cherry Winks Chewies Chewy Noels Chinese Chews/Haystacks Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars Chocolate Chip Cookies Chocolate Chip Meltaways Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies Chocolate Christmas Trees Chocolate Cream Cheese Squares Chocolate Crinkles Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (no bake) Chocolate Snowball Cookies Chocolate Streusel Bars Chocolate Sundae Cookies Chocolate Walnut Crumb Bars Choco-Scotch Crunchies Choose A Cookie Dough Recipe Christmas Crackers Christmas Crunch Bars Christmas Ginger Snaps Christmas Macaroons Christmas Mice Cookies Christmas Shaped Cookies Church Window Cookies Coconut Cookies Congo Squares Cookie in a Jar Corn Flakes Cookies Cornflake Christmas Wreaths Cowboy Cookies (oatmeal) Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Filling Crème De Menthe Chocolate Squares Crème Wafers Crescent Cookies Crispy Crunchies Date Nut Balls Date-nut Pinwheel Cookies Diabetic Peanut Butter Cookies Disgustingly Rich Brownies Doodles Double chocolate chip cookies Double-Chocolate Crinkles Eatmore Cookies Eggnog Cookies Elizabeth's Sugar Cookies Elves Quick Fudge Brownies Emily Dickinson's Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Emily's Best Brownies Famous Oatmeal Cookies Firemen Cookies Fluffy Shortbread Cookies Forgotten Cookies Frosted Peanut Butter Brownies Fruit Cake Cookies Fruitcake Squares Fry Pan Cookies Gems Ginger Cookies Ginger Crinkles Gingerbread Baby Gingerbread Cookies with Butter Cream Icing Gingerbread Men Gingerbread Men Ginny's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Glory's Golden Graham Squares Glory's Sugar Cookies Gramma Chapman's chocolate coconut drops Grandma Elsie's Zimt (cinnamon) Cookies Grandma J's Butter Cookies Grandma Olson's Parkay Cookies Great Grandmothers Sugar Cookies Gum Drop Cookies Gumdrop Gems Haystack Cookies Ho-Ho Bars Holiday Cereal Snaps Holiday Chocolate Butter Cookies Holiday Raisin Walnut Bars Holly Cookies Hungarian Cookies (Little Nut Rolls) Ice Box Cookies Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies Italian Cookies Jacob's Peppermint Snowballs Jam Bars Jessica's Famous Brownies Jessie's Chocolate Chip Cookies Jubilee Jumbles Juliet's Peanut Butter Blossoms Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies Kentucky Colonels Kiefle (cream cheese cookies with jam filling) Kifflings Kiss Cookies Lacy Swedish Almond Wafers Lemon Angel Bar Cookies Lemon Bars Lemon Cake Cookies Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies Lemon Squares Linzer Tarts Log Cabin Cookies Luscious Lemon Squares M&M Cookies Magic Cookie Bars Melt in Your Mouth Cutout Sugar Cookies Melting Shortbread Meme's Cream Cheese Cookies Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies Mincemeat Cookies Mincemeat Goodies Molasses Cookies Molasses Forest Cookies Molasses Sugar Cookies Mom Mom's Crescent Cookies Mom-Mom's Ginger Cookies Mom's Nutmeg Sugar Cookies Mom's Old Fashion "Puffy" Sugar Cookies Monster Cookies Moravian Christmas Cookies Nana's Famous Soft Southern Cookies Nitey Nite Cookies No Bake Chocolate Cookies No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No-Bake Cookies Norwegian Sugar Cookies Nut Balls Oatmeal Bars Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Nut Cookies Oatmeal Coconut Crisps Oatmeal Cookies Oatmeal Scotchies Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies Ooey Gooey Caramel Chocolate Dunk Ooey Gooey Squares Orange Slice Cookies Parking Lot Cookies Peanut Blossoms Peanut Butter Bars Peanut Butter Blossoms Peanut Butter Cereal Cookies Peanut Butter Chewies Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut butter fingers Peanut Butter Reindeer Peanut Butter Surprises Peanut Marshmallow Cookies Pecan Puff Cookies Peppermint Snowballs Peppernuts Persimmon Cookies Persimmon Cookies Petey's Yummy Spicy Almond Thins Pfeffernuesse Pffefferneuse Cookies Pineapple Filled Cookies Pizzelles Potato Chip Cookies Potato Flake Cookies Praline Cookies Praline Strips Pterodactyl Nests Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Chip Cookies Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Pumpkin Cookies Queen Biscuits Quick Cookies Raised Sugar Cookies Raisin Filled Oatmeal Bars Raspberry Meringue Bars Really Peanutty Butter Cookies Reese`s Brownies Reese's Peanut Butter Bars Rich Flavor Christmas Cookies Rich Lemon Bars Ricotta Cheese Cookies Royal Almond Christmas Bars Rudolph Cinnamon Cookies Russian Tea Cookies Russian Teacakes Samantha & Kelsey's Chocolate Chip Cookies Sand Art Brownies Santa Claus Cookie Pops Santa Claus Cookies Santa's Butterscotch Melts Santa's Shorts Santa's Special Squares Scotch Cakes Scotch Shortbread Scotcharoos Scotcheroos Seven Layer Cookies Short Bread Cookies Shortbread Skor Squares Snicker Doodle Cookies Snickerdoodles Snickerdoodles Snow Balls Sour Cream Apple Squares Sour Cream Christmas Cookies Special K Cookies Spice Cookies Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Spritz Cookies Stained Glass Window Cookies Stir & Drop Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Swedish Pepparkakor (Pepper Cake) Cookies Swedish Sugar Cookies Sweet Marie's Swiss Treats Taralle (Italian Cookies) Tea Time Tassies Texas Brownies The Best Shortbread in The World Thumbprint Cookies Thumbprint Cookies Toffee Squares Traditional Christmas Sugar Cookies Traditional Gingerbread Men Cookies Triple-Chocolate Chip Cookies Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies Vanilla Waffer Balls Walnut Butter Cookies Walnut Crumb Bars White Chip Chocolate Cookies Wild Oatmeal Cookies Will's Famous Apple Jack Cookies Yummy Yummy Peanut Butter Blossoms

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Move That Mountain!

"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." -- Matthew 17:20

Do you have a mountain looming in front of you, that you can't see your way around?  Call on God!  He's in the earth moving business!  Faith in the Mountain Mover moves the mountain!

Sometimes, He moves the mountain by earthquake -- a sudden event takes it all away.  This can happen when we make a major decision, or by circumstances beyond our control.  These earthquakes can be painful at the moment, but result in long term good.

The great Salvation Army leader, Samuel Brengle, was severely injured when an angry rioter threw a brick, hitting him in the head.  Brengle spent several months in rehabilitation, and during that time he wrote his first book which became bestselling classic.  Years later, he remarked to his wife, "I'm thankful for the brick.  If there had been no brick, there would have been no book."

Sometimes, He moves the mountain one shovel at a time -- and it takes time and hard work, so we can develop character and patience.  This means waiting and watching.  As the poet, Milton, says "they also serve who only stand and wait."

Consider the ants who create massive colonies one grain of sand at a time.  Success isn't usually gained in one big step, but rather many small steps.  It doesn't happen in a day -- but day after day after day.

Sometimes, instead of moving the mountain, He moves us -- giving us strength to navigate the the uphill journey to the peak.

If your mountain won't move -- maybe it's because you're supposed to do the moving.  One of the most important abilities in life is flexibility.  Are you willing the make the necessary changes to get on top of your mountain?  The journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step.

Sometimes, He leaves us at the foot of the mountain, where, if we stop resisting and start digging, we discover a gold mine.

To many people have what John Maxwell calls "destination disease".  They say they will be happy and fulfilled "when I retire" or "when I graduate" or "when I get married" or "when I get a different job" or  "when I make more money" or "when I move to a different town."

But maybe, instead of putting you happiness and fulfillment on pause until all your stars are aligned, you should make the best of where you are and what you have.

"Yesterday is a cancelled check.  Tomorrow is a promissory note.  Today is the only cash you have, so spend it wisely." -- Kay Lyons

Monday, October 17, 2016

Election Advice from John Wesley

From Wesley's journal:  October 3, 1774:

 I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and  advised them:
 1) To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most  worthy.
 2) To speak no evil of the person they voted against.
 3) To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on  the other side.

The Failure of Short Term Optimism

On September 6, 1965, Admiral James Stockdale’s A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over Viet Nam. The injured Stockdale found himself captured and imprisoned in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”, where he was a prisoner of war for over seven years. He was the highest ranking naval officer held as a prisoner of war in the Viet Nam war.

 Stockdale was kept in solitary confinement for four years, placed in irons for two years, denied medical care and malnourished. Despite these terrible conditions, he led an “underground resistance movement” which brought hope and a sense of esprit de corps to his fellow POW’s. Still, many prisoners died under these grueling circumstances. Finally, in 1973, the brave admiral was released, and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor is 1976 by President Ford.

 Several years later, author and researcher, Jim Collins, interviewed Stockdale in the campus of Stanford University, and asked the decorated offer how he coped with the demoralizing effects of his imprisonment.

 Stockdale replied, “I never lost faith in the end the end of the story. I never doubted that not only would I get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

 Then, Collins asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”

 "Oh, that’s easy,” Stockdale responded, “The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart."

 Now, I certainly believe in optimism. The title of my newspaper column, “Positively Speaking”, speaks to that. However, I believe Stockdale was right.

 A misplaced, short term optimism can lead to failure and disillusionment. It’s much better to focus on the long term.

 Somehow
 Some day
 Some way
 I’m going to make it.

 Things may not go as I’ve expected or desired, but I’m not going to let a few temporary setbacks keep me from my ultimate destiny. Rarely, does a person follow a straight path from success to success. Usually, there’s quite a winding road, replete with failures, frustrations, shortcomings, and disappointments.

 The important thing is to keep plugging on, regardless of the short term circumstance. Eventually, you’ll find your way.

 Success is getting up one more time than you fall down.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

The Measure of Character


Character matters -- and the way we treat and speak about others is character's best measurement.  Civility, unfortunately, is becoming an increasingly rare virtue in our society.  The divisive rhetoric in our land is increasing, and does nothing to bring us together.  The bridge of understanding is built through mutual respect.

 A big part of maturity is learning to disagree agreeably, and treating people with kindness, even if they don't share our values.

 Recently, I ran across this piece from an unknown poet which captures this ideas.  Though it was penned over 70 years ago (long before authors knew about inclusive language), the point certainly fits for our day and age:

 The man's no bigger than the way
 He treats his fellow man;
 This standard has his measure been
 Since time, itself, began!

 He's measured not by tithes or creed
 High-sounding though they be;
 Not by the bold that's put aside;
 Not by his sanctity;

 He's measured not by social rank,
 When character's the test;
 Nor by his earthly pomp or show,
 Displaying wealth possessed

 He's measured by his justice, right,
 His fairness at his play,
 His squareness in all dealings made,
 His honest, upright way.

 These are his measures, ever near
 To serve him when they can;
 For man's no bigger than the way
 He treats his fellow man.

Friday, September 30, 2016

What Did You Mean By That?

 "Half the harm that is done in the world," said poet, T.S. Eliot,"is done  by people who want to feel important. They do not mean to harm. There  are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

 I've discovered that most of the time, people mean well. Even when  they speak or behave in troubling ways that makes us wonder -- they  mean well.  It's best to give the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.

 Yet, at the same time, it is also beneficial for us to examine our  motives, and try to understand more deeply how our behavior effects  others.

 Sometimes, winning the argument loses the fight. A marriage counselor once asked a distraught husband,  "Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right?"

 After a frustrating conversation one day, I thought, "What he said spoke so loud, I couldn't understand a word  he meant!"

 Perhaps, the best path is mapped out by St. Francis of Assisi, who prayed:

 Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
 Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
 Where there is injury, pardon.
 Where there is doubt, faith.
 Where there is despair, hope.
 Where there is darkness, light.
 And where there is sadness, joy.

 Grant that I may not so much seek
 to be consoled as to console;
 to be understood, as to understand,
 to be loved as to love;
 for it is in giving that we receive.
 it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
 and it is dying that we are born to eternal life.