Blog Posts by Noel Piper

If Not Santa, What?

Noel Piper

How will our home look if our celebration is a picture of anticipation and waiting for God’s plan to be completed, a picture of our joy in the salvation he has begun for us? What visible things will fill our house as we celebrate what God has done through Jesus?

Our very first Christmas was in the middle of our honeymoon, so our traditions began the second year of marriage. We visited our families before Christmas, and returned across the…

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Thinking About Santa

Noel Piper

Over the years, we have chosen not to include Santa Claus in our Christmas stories and decorations. There are several reasons.

First, fairy tales are fun and we enjoy them, but we don’t ask our children to believe them.

Second, we want our children to understand God as fully as they’re able at whatever age they are. So we try to avoid anything that would delay or distort that understanding. It seems to us that celebrating with a mixture of…

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Jesus Tree

Noel Piper

Talitha: “Mom, I have a tiny disco ball to hang on the Jesus Tree!”

Me: “Before you do that, you need to tell me how that disco ball relates to Jesus.”

Talitha: “Mmm…well…Jesus is the light of the world…and he shines all around…

Me: “Good. And he’s multifaceted, so there’s always more to learn about his glories.”

The Bible is filled with names and word pictures of Jesus. Every name or image is a facet of the God who is…

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Looking Forward: Preparing to Meet Jesus Face to Face

Noel Piper

Advent is a time of looking back, remembering the faithful people who were waiting for the salvation God had promised, as 1 Peter 1:10-12 tells us.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,inquiring  what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted  the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but…

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Looking Back: Advent Candles

Noel Piper

Advent Candles probably are the most common Advent symbolism of looking back to the days of waiting for the Messiah God had promised.

Various helpful schemes of symbolism can be attached to Advent candles, their number, and color. But here are the basics—one candle for each of the Sundays of Advent, and if you wish, a fifth for Christmas Day. Some people have a special candle holder arrangement, a wreath maybe. That’s nice but not necessary. The only requirement for…

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Advent: Standing in the Middle

Noel Piper

During Advent, it’s as if we are re-enacting the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus. Then at the end of the four weeks of Advent, Christmas is a heartfelt celebration because that ancient waiting is done.

And yet we are still waiting.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who…

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What Is Advent?

Noel Piper

We are a people of promise. For centuries, God prepared people for the coming of his Son, our only hope for life. At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made—that he would give a way to draw near to him.

Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25, sometimes in the last weekend of November, sometimes on the first Sunday in December. This year it was November…

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It's My Pleasure

Noel Piper

When I came home from running errands yesterday, I found a florist’s delivery on my back porch—rich, red long-stemmed roses. The gift card had no words, only numbers: 6-6-66.

Yesterday, 6-6-09, was the 43rd anniversary of the day I met Johnny Piper in the lounge of Fischer Hall at Wheaton College. God has brought us a long way since then.

When I got the flowers, Johnny was in Raleigh. Remembering the many times he’s told a favorite what-if story, I…

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Choose! Life or Limbs?

Noel Piper

If you have two functional legs, imagine life without them.... Imagine life without them.... Imagine that your legs are gone so that you can have life.

That’s the story of my cousin, Mal. He was in a coma, almost dead, and his sons and daughter agreed to the one medication that might save his life, knowing that the loss of fingers or feet was a likely side effect.

Noel Piper's cousin MalDespite weeks of therapy, he did lose both legs below the knee.…

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Dreaming of a White Christmas

Noel Piper

There are good reasons to dream of a white Christmas.

For one, God created crystal, blinding-white new snow to help us understand the contrast between our sinful old selves and the new persons he has made us into: “though your sins are like scarlet,they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

For another, the first Christmas was one of the times that angels spoke to humans on God’s behalf. And one kind of snow fun reminds us of those…

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Burping Baby Jesus

Noel Piper

“The little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.” Really? Let’s not forget that the Lord Jesus was also the human newborn baby Jesus, as we’re reminded in one of the best Christmas books ever—The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Imogene had the baby doll but she wasn’t carrying it in the way she was supposed to, cradled in her arms. She had it slung up over her shoulder, and before she put it in the manger she thumped it…

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A Season to Look Back and Ahead

Noel Piper

We are a people of promise. For centuries, God prepared people for the coming of his Son, our only hope for life. At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made—that he would give a way to draw near to him.

Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25. The first Advent Sunday this year was November 30. For four weeks, it’s as if we’re re-enacting, remembering, the…

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A Giant In My Life

Noel Piper

Annie Lou Henry
May 23, 1898 – November 9, 1980

Annie Lou Henry

Twenty-eight years ago today—five months after we began at Bethlehem—my father’s mother died down in Georgia. For a couple of years she had been having small strokes that kept her more and more confined to her home and then her bed.

During one visit, I sat with her and learned a lesson that helped prepare me for ministry and my own life.

This woman was my grandmother, who had always…

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Happy Birthday, Mother!

Noel Piper

Today is the 87th birthday of my mother, Pamela Henry.

Talitha and Noel Piper, Pam Henry

A couple of years ago, our Bethlehem M.O.M.S asked me to tell them what I learned by being my mother’s daughter. Only God knows all I’ve learned and am still learning from her.

Here’s a recent example. Mother broke her hip in May and hip replacement was the best way to help her toward healing. Within days of the surgery, I was hearing from my siblings that Mother was…

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Lilias Trotter: Following God's Call

Noel Piper

Last Wednesday marked the eightieth anniversary of the death of Lilias Trotter. She died August 27, 1928, forty years and five months after following God’s call to leave her comfortable English home and move to Algeria.

According to the standards of her day, it seemed impossible that she should succeed. She was too old (34!). She was single. She didn’t know Arabic. She had no acquaintances in North Africa, except the two women who traveled with her. She couldn’t…

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Surrendering Our Children

Noel Piper

Our grandson, Orison, is three years old. Judging by his interests during our Sunday afternoon backyard picnic, I would have said he was aspiring to stardom as an ace batter or as a trumpet player in a marching band (using the wiffle bat as his trumpet).

It would be fine if he achieved either of those goals. But I smiled when I read his mom’s blog this morning and glimpsed much deeper, higher, and broader possibilities: “Mom, I’m going to…

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Deep Waters—Swim or Sink?

Noel Piper

One verse leapt to my memory as we listened to Psalm 69 in the service this weekend: “I have come into deep waters.” It reminded me of a memorable passage from Lilias Trotter, 19th century artist, author, and missionary to Algeria.

“I am come into deep waters” took on a new meaning this morning. It started with perplexing matters concerning the future. Then it dawned that shallow waters were a place where you can neither sink nor swim,…

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Memorial Day 2008

Noel Piper

Flag at the cemetery

This is a weekend for remembering the ones who died in our nation’s service. For me, the memories are mostly of high school friends who died in Vietnam.

Today, my heart goes out especially to the ones whose memories are fresh and raw, hardly far enough in the past to be called “memory”—friends and family of American military personnel who will not return to them from the Middle East.

Here and there around the cemetery this morning were old men…

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Hidden Treasures Thrift Store

Noel Piper

Hidden treasures, that’s what my boys and I were looking for back in the days when we made our Christmas shopping rounds—first to Savers and Salvation Army Thrift Shops, then to the liquidation store nearby, then if we still hadn’t found all the gifts we wanted to give, we upgraded to Target.

John and Talitha PiperA hidden treasure was what Talitha wanted last week when she and I went shopping for a very special dress to wear on Saturday for her date to…

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Piper in Kenya

Noel Piper

In March, I went to visit Kenya. I kissed my husband goodbye and left him at home. Or so I thought. But when I got to Kenya, I found him all over the place.

At Moffatt Bible College in Kijabe, for example, the librarian gave me a tour. One set of double doors opened to the textbook closet. Most students can’t afford to buy books for their classes, so here they can check out the required texts for the term.…

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Finally! A Blossom in the Desert

Noel Piper

The book, A Blossom in the Desert“Did you know your dream has come true? There's a book of Lilias Trotter's art now—A Blossom in the Desert,” I emailed a friend last week. Miriam Rockness, who edited this book, earlier wrote the book that introduced me to Lilias Trotter, A Passion for the Impossible. I was so inspired by her story that I included it in Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God.

We who admire Lilias Trotter have waited a long time actually…

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“Behold, It Was Very Good.” But Now?

Noel Piper

Our neighbors can attest that we don’t use dandelion poison. We recycle. One showerhead has a water saver shut-off valve. Beyond that, I don’t give much thought to ecology. I’m scared off by people who tend to treat the earth as god, rather than as God’s handiwork. So I have avoided considering my responsibility as a steward of God’s property.

I had a one-week crash course last month when Talitha and I were guests of Craig and Tracy Sorley, BBC…

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How I Fight Bossiness

Noel Piper

One my my continual needs for self-control comes from being the oldest of 10 children and then 35+ years of mothering. I feel very comfortable telling people what to do, speaking as if I know what’s best. Others call it bossy. My fight for self-control in this area has two parts—reminding myself who God is and then preaching that to myself.

I fight bossiness by reminding myself that God is God and I’m not. So however convinced I am of…

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