The 23rd Psalm is recognized by almost everyone in the English speaking world. People may not know that it is Biblical scripture but they find it familiar to them when they hear it. It is often used in funerals to bring comfort to those grieving. The psalm is attributed to King David. It evokes the simple imagery of God the shepherd caring for and tending his sheep, the people of earth. God provides a place of comfort, a place of shelter and a place of safety from our enemies. We will stay with the Lord forever. Jesus in the book of John is described as the good shepherd. Our shepherd looks out for us, protects us and gives us peace.
Osmun Gifts carries memorials that refer back to Psalm 23. It is hoped that these memorials stones help bring comfort.
Psalm 23 KJV
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
The Stations of the Cross, also known as the Way of the Cross and Via Dolorosa refers to Jesus and his cross from the time of condemnation, to the crucifixion, and to the burial. The stations began in Jerusalem with the first Christian tourists. Pilgrims then and today had a desire to walk the way of the cross and to follow the path of Jesus. It is customary to stop at each station saying prayers. Traditionally, there are 14 stations. They are:
1. Jesus is condemned to death by crucifixion
2. Jesus accepts the cross to carry
3. Jesus falls the first time from the weight of the cross
4. Jesus meets His Mother along the way
5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross for Jesus
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7. Jesus falls the second time walking to Golgotha
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
9. Jesus falls the third time
10. Jesus is stripped of His garments
11. Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
12. Jesus dies on the cross
13. Jesus’ body is removed from the cross (Deposition or Lamentation)
14. Jesus’ body is laid in the tomb and covered in incense.
The stations of the cross may be prayed at any time but is often done during Lent especially on Good Friday. Traditionally, these stations are depicted in a series of paintings or carvings inside the Church but there are also items to remind you of the Way of the Cross that can be used at home.
Crucifixes from the Holy Land made of native olivewood can be found with the 14 stations represented in pictures made of silver plated zinc. Rosaries, dedicated to the Way of the Cross can also be found. These are not classic rosaries but chaplets in that there are 3 prayer beads between each station.
For Christians, the following the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem is as powerful today as it was for those pilgrims more than a thousand years ago. And today, as then, if you cannot go to Jerusalem, you may still make a spiritual pilgrimage following the Way of the Cross through prayer and meditation.
The following items may be purchased through Osmun Gifts to help with your devotions.
Shopping on eBay can be daunting if you have never done it before. After all you are buying from someone that you have never met and you have to trust. Here is a beginner’s guide to the wonderful world of eBay.
1. First decide what you would like to buy. eBay is a treasure trove for hard to find items. Just last week, I bought a collection of boogie woogie piano sheet music from the 1940′s for my son. On eBay, you can find snow boots in July, and bikinis in January. Look around at the listings. Decide if you want to bid on an auction (more about that later) or buy it now. Buy it now is similar to shopping online at a retail store. You can sort on Best Match or by Time or by Price plus Shipping. I like the latter because I don’t like the surprise of shipping costs.
2. Read the descriptions of the items offered carefully. Just because the picture makes the item look large doesn’t mean that it is so. As a seller on eBay, I try to give detailed dimensions and when possible show the item either being hand held or next to a ruler. However, I still sometimes have unhappy customers because they expected the item to be bigger! What is the item made of? We here at Osmun Gifts sell a lot of scripture based costume jewelry bangles and bracelets on eBay. We don’t advertise that it is silver and for $11.95 with shipping, don’t expect our customers to think that it might be. eBay is like any other store. If the offer seems just too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious with electronics. My advice is to only buy from a reputable dealer on eBay.
3. Check out the seller’s feedback. Inside the item’s description, the seller’s feedback is listed on the right. Click on it. Look at how long the seller has belonged to eBay. What is their average rating? How many negatives do they have? Look at some of the feedback comments, both positive and negative. If most of the negative feedback is given by eBay newbies, keep that in mind. Also, look at how the seller responded to any negative feedback. That tells a lot about the seller. You may not know this but sellers are not allowed to give negative feedback to buyers. However, buyers can give negative feedback to sellers. Personally, if I were new to eBay, I wouldn’t buy from anyone with less than 100 feedback. The combination of new buyers and new sellers sometimes leads to problems.
4. Don’t wonder about anything. Send an email to the buyer and ask a question. At the bottom of the listing, there is a question and answer section. Click on Ask a Question. Normally, you get a response within 24 hours.
5. Check shipping details. More and more eBay sellers are using free shipping but make sure you know the shipping before you buy. There are 2 tabs on the listing, Item Description and Shipping. Yes, there is more to shipping that just the postage. The seller pays for the box and the packing material. Free shipping is free but it is still a cost to the seller. The price for shipping has already been included in the item price. Check the shipping time. If you think that you might not receive the item in time for Christmas or that special birthday party, send a note to the buyer. Look at when the buyer is expected to ship and look at where the item is coming from. If it is being shipped from Hong Kong, it probably is not going to be at your house in 2 days. Unless you pay for expedited shipping when buying from overseas, it will take a couple of weeks.
6. If you decide to bid on an item rather than using the buy it now. Here are some tips. Decide before you make your first bid, exactly how much you are willing to spend. Make that your maximum bid. If the bid is $10 and you put a maximum of $20, eBay automatically bids for you in small increments. Example, if the bid is $10, eBay would then bid $10.50 on your behalf. If there are other bids, eBay will keep increasing you bid until you reach you max.
7. If bidding, don’t get pulled into a bidding war in the last hour. This is how people overspend on eBay. Though illegal to put up bids artificially, it is done. Someone may come in when the auction is almost done, and bid over you in an effort to get you to increase your bid. Remember that on eBay, there is almost always a similar item for sale the next day. In fact, the seller of the item that you just have to have may have 10-20 in stock and sells them one at a time.
8. Before buying, check out the seller’s return policy. Some sellers will not accept any returns. Please note, that if the item does not match the description, the buyer can still return the item. Personally, I don’t buy from sellers that do not accept returns unless there is a reason. For me, a legitimate reason not to accept an item back is that it might be cosmetics which could have been used.
9. Whether you have won an auction, or clicked on Buy It Now, please pay for your item then. It is easy. One of the great frustrations from being a seller is that buyers wait to pay for items. After a few days, eBay starts sending out unpaid reminders to you. Again, if you can’t pay for it, don’t buy it. Remember on eBay, if you are buying from one of the sellers with a store, they usually have more. It will be there when you get paid.
10. And last and definitely the best is the FEEDBACK. As mentioned previously, sellers cannot leave negative feedback. Sellers can block a specific buyer from buying their products and they can respond to feedback left by a buyer but they can’t leave negative feedback. My advice, wish, and plea is that if you as a buyer are unhappy with your purchase, whatever the reason, don’t leave negative feedback until you contact the seller. Let me repeat this. Contact the seller before you leave negative feedback. Most sellers and most buyers, are good people. I have had items that broke during shipping. I have no problem with either replacing the item free of charge or refunding the money. Many sellers would like the item back but personally, you can send me a picture. Bottom line, contact the seller first. Another thing about feedback, if you look at the feedback from the sellers with more than 3000 feedback comments, most of them come from new eBayers. Usually, this is a lack of communication. Again, contact the seller first. I once had a lady tell me that she didn’t believe that the item was damaged during shipping. She was convinced that I had sold her a broken item deliberately and told me that she had left me bad feedback to teach me a lesson. She never contacted me at all, just left the feedback. I refunded her $5.95 but she told me that she didn’t want the money, she wanted to hurt me. This is not a good plan. eBayer’s both buyers and sellers need to work together.
So, have fun with eBay and if you have a question, contact the seller! It is a great place to find anything and everything.
Angels and angel like creatures are found in many cultures and religions. From the Christian culture, angels were created by God and live in Heaven. From what is written in the Bible, angels don’t die, don’t marry and don’t have children (Matthew 22:30). As humans, when we die, we don’t become angels. Angels are angels and worship and glorify God. They are not to be objects of worship (Revelations 22:8-9). However, angels can help us. Angels can serve as God’s messengers, God’s soldiers and guardian angels. They are usually depicted in paintings as having wings though the Bible is not specific about wings. Cherubim and Seraphim are described specifically as having wings but not angels.
I have never seen an angel but do believe that I have been protected by guardian angels. Once long ago, when I was about 20 my mother was having surgery. I wanted to be there but I lived in Colorado and she was in Alabama. I had no money and didn’t think that my car would make it there. I decided to hitchhike to see her. I was scared but determined to get to Alabama. I heard / felt something telling me to go now. I had a friend take me outside of Denver. We were driving on I-25 when I saw a car with Louisiana license plates. A young man was driving. We pulled up to him and I rolled down the window and yelled out, “Can I ride with you?” He pulled over at the next exit. We talked and I had a ride all the way to Little Rock. He was a Christian youth minister who had been in Colorado for a meeting. Once he let me out of his car, I waited for a while and relied on my instincts also known as my angel to tell me when to put out my thumb. Looking back on this, I realize now how risky this was. At the time, I just wanted to see my mother. I stood on the side of the highway for about 5 minutes and a trucker pulled over. He was able to get me all the way to Huntsville, just a few miles from the hospital where my mother was. In addition, he fed me and protected me. Of course, there was a few lectures along the lines of “Do you know that you could have been killed or raped?” but I deserved those. And I never hitchhiked again.
Angels are everywhere. We just need to be aware of them. As a Presbyterian, it is fitting to end with a quote from John Calvin who wrote:
The angels are the dispensers and administrators of the divine beneficence toward us; they regard our safety, undertake our defense, direct our ways, and exercise a constant solicitude that no evil befall us.
Have you ever been protected by angels?
What does the term Fair Trade mean? According to the World Fair Trade Organization, Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.
We here at are happy to join in this trading partnership with ladies from a small village in Guatemala. We now carry handcrafted shoulder bags. The Spanish word for these are morrals. They were made in a small village in the Ixcan region of Guatemala. The women here as in many small rural villages work hard to keep their families intact. Many are poor and often the men of the family must leave and seek work elsewhere so that their families may survive.
The commissioned work on these bags was done according to Fair Trade Practices. Only adults performed the work and the women who created these beautiful bags were paid directly. The price for these bags was the market price of the region. In addition, the women were provided with the materials to make the bags.Pictured here is the lady who made most of these bags. AnaMaria works very hard to put food on the table for her family. The village where AnaMaria lives does not have running water. To make money, AnaMaria brings water to other people’s homes, carrying 3 tinajas at a time filled with water. A tinajas is a 3.5 gallon water jug. She carries one under her arm, one hanging from a strap down her back plus one on her head. For this labor, she is paid Q1 for each tinajas in Guatemala currency or the equivalent of $.12 in U.S. dollars. For this she can buy 2 rolls. For Q4, she can buy a pound of rice or a large bag of laundry soap. To put this into perspective, 1 gallon of water weights more than 8 pounds. At one time, she is carrying more 80 pounds of water.
Osmun Gifts heard about this village and the ladies through a contact that lived there. Great Commission Air was serving there. Great Commission Air provides Air Transportation for Christian Missions and Humanitarian Relief. They provide medical evacuation services for the injured, and transport medical volunteers and supplies to where they are needed in these rural regions. In addition, GCA provides transportation for Christian missions that are working to implement social programs and spiritual teachings. Please visit their website Great Commission Air for more information.
10% of all proceeds will go to the Great Commission Air. Regretfully, due to the violence in Guatemala, GCA had to leave their home there of almost 8 years. They will be relocating to Peru in 2012.
We hope you can join us in supporting this great cause by buying these beautiful handmade bags to enjoy yourself or to give as meaningful gifts for friends and loved ones.
The death of a loved one tears a hole in our heart. We suffer deep physical and emotional pain that is raw and at times overwhelming. For those of us who believe in God, we can find comfort and solace but that doesn’t mean that our loss is not painful. It takes time to heal. Grief is a process that can’t be rushed, can’t be solved by taking anti-anxiety drugs, and shouldn’t be ignored. With time, and comfort from others, we can find the strength to continue.
It is my belief that memorials help. Whether Christian, atheist, agnostic or other believer, having something to hold onto, aids in our healing. It can be as elaborate as structures built in memory or someone or as simple as something that someone says. At my mother’s funeral, people told us how much they liked my mother, what a good woman, how sorry they were. These were kind words that were spoken but one lady who I barely remember from my childhood made a lasting impact on me and my mother’s memory. During the funeral service, Arlene stood up and told of a time 60 years before when she had been a young girl about 10 years of age. She was the oldest child in a large family and her mother had recently given birth and was very sick. That left all of the household duties to her. She had to cook, clean and take care of her younger siblings. There was no TV, running water or electricity. Her father farmed and was out in the fields all day. My mother was her neighbor and at this time had a few children herself. My mother came to visit one day early in the morning. My mother told the kids to go outside and play and then she turned to Arlene and told her to go with them and enjoy the day. My mother stayed that day, cleaned the house, watched after all the kids, and cooked. Arlene talked about how while others had given food and even helped a bit, my mother was the only person that noticed that life was hard on a little girl. She never forgot that kindness and loved my mother for it. That story was my solace. I clung to that story during those early days of grief and still hold to it today. I loved my mother and it meant a lot to me that others loved her too.
Memorials can be spoken, a gesture, or tangible such as an article of clothing, a picture. When my brother-in-law was killed in an accident, his 3 daughters each cut their hair and put their pony tails into their Dad’s coffin. A simple tribute but the best for them.
To help others in their grief, again simple things are the best. A sympathy card, memorial photo frame, a stepping stone for the garden, a verse written by your or others, or a simple teardrop necklace. These all convey sympathy and love. It is hard sometimes to think of the right words to say to those who have lost a loved one but a small gesture of love is always appreciated.
Again, it is the small effort that means the most.
In 2008, eBay changed their feedback system. Since then, a seller cannot leave negative feedback for a buyer. However, the buyer can leave whatever they want for feedback. The buyer can give the seller low rating on the Detailed Seller Ratings without even communicating with the seller. I have never really had any issue with this. My store on eBay is Osmun Gifts Too and I put many of the items there that I also sell in my retail store, Osmun Gifts. I have been selling for a year and have never had any issues with a buyer. Now this doesn’t mean that everything has been perfect. It has not. I have had some items broken during shipment. The customers have notified me and I have refunded or reshipped the item. I have had a few quality problems with merchandise and again I have either replaced or refunded the money. I always give the buyer the benefit of the doubt. EBay has the buyers rate the sellers on a 1-5 scale in the four categories. Below are my current rankings in the categories. The number in parenthesis is the number of low ratings in the 1 and 2 range that I have received:
Item as described4.930.23% (1)
Shipping time4.960.00% (0)
Shipping and handling charges4.930.00% (0)
This week I was the recipient of a disgruntled customer on eBay. I was totally blindsided by it. The customer ordered a $3.95 automotive emblem, a magnet of the Christian fish symbol. With shipping, it was $6.80. I won’t mention the customer’s name but she does live in New Mexico. The customer gave me a neutral rating because she stated that the item was not new, and that it was damaged. I sent an email to her, asking if she would like a replacement or I could refund her money. I assume that the item must have been damaged in shipping. She refused both options and sent me an email stating that I needed to learn better customer service and that she would punish me for being such a poor seller. I refunded her money and politely asked for her to retract the feedback and to cancel the transaction. She refused, telling me that I was rude. So now I have the 1 rating in the feedback. Frankly, I don’t think that I deserve it. However, in the eBay world, the buyer has most of the power.
I should mention that the reason that these ratings are important is because with a certain sales volume, the seller receives a discount on their fees if the customers are happy. EBay can also restrict the number of sales that you can have every month if you are a bad seller. I understand this and I truly understand that there are many unscrupulous sellers out there. However, I don’t think that bad feedback should be given until the buyer at least tries to communicate with the seller. Then if the issue cannot be resolved, allow the buyer to leave the negative feedback.
I called eBay and asked if there was an arbitration board for cases like this. I was told that I could appeal but unless the feedback contains inappropriate comments or was extremely malicious it couldn’t be removed without the buyer’s consent. I told them that I could prove that the item was new but to no avail. I was told not to worry. Out of the feedback, this was my first bad one and that sometimes people don’t want customer satisfaction.
I like eBay. I like selling on eBay. It has a wide range of customers and it gives me an idea of what will and won’t sell in my store. I have made some eBay friends that are repeat customers. I also like buying on eBay and have favorite sellers that I continue to buy from. In the 8 years that I have been a member of eBay, I have had only one bad experience with a seller. He wouldn’t accept payment through his eBay account and wanted to redirect me to another account. This was resolved, I paid through eBay and he sent the item and we both retracted the feedback.
I want to continue to buy and sell on eBay but after my experience last week with the feedback slam, I have to admit that now, I cringe when I see my feedback score increase. I am afraid to look for fear that it will be another poor rating. I feel like I have been convicted of a crime that I didn’t know that I even committed. I now know that the seller has zero control over what the buyer does.
Tags: eBay feedback
At the time of Jesus, there in circulation a number of very small copper coins. The poorest segment of the population would have likely been widows since they had no source of income. We all know the story of the widow’s mite. It is recounted in the gospel of Luke and in the gospel of Mark. See below for text. There are a few interpretations of this scripture. One is that the value of the gift is not to the receiver but to the giver. For a wealthy person, 2 coins, would be nothing but for the widow, it was everything or most everything that she had. She kept nothing for herself. Many have taken this scripture to mean that we should give generously of ourselves and our talents to the Lord. Another interpretation of this lesson is that those who make sure that others know how much that they are giving impress men but do not impress God.
The Bible verses shown below are from the English Standard Version. Notice that the term widow’s mite is not mentioned. This term was used in the King James Version. The term, mite or mitj was in common usage in 1611 and referred to a small copper coin. Though I must admit, the term widow’s small copper coin just doesn’t have the same ring as widow’s mite.
The small copper coins have been found in digs and sites all over the Holy Land. They no longer have the sheen of bright burnished copper but instead are dull with lots of bluish oxidation.
Whether known as small copper coins, or widow’s mites, they are a reminder of the sacrifice that the widow makes for the Lord.
Luke 21:1-4. Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Mark 12: 41-44. And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Tags: widow's mite
As the season of Easter approaches, did you ever think of the meal that was served at the Last Supper? Did the table really look like the famous DaVinci painting?
From my understanding, there would have been a table but no chairs. The custom then and as now in some parts of the world is that the table would be low to the ground and the diners would recline on pillows. There were no forks, only knives. Bread was broken by the host. It would have been an insult to cut the bread. Bread signified life and to cut it would be to cut life. Breaking bread was a sign of fellowship and friendship. One broke bread and then shared the meal with friends. You did not break bread with your enemies. You did not share a meal except with friends and family.
The dishes used at the Last Supper were probably not made of metal or glass. The Holy Grail was not an ornate jewel studded golden goblet. The communal cup used was made probably from humble clay. Jesus and his followers were not wealthy and they were certainly not Roman. Dishes were shared and most likely looked similar to the ones pictured here. Bowls were used for more liquid dishes such as a stew. Cups were communal and passed around. The plates had a small rim so that the food could easily be picked up by someone dipping bread. These dishes pictured are replicas of those found in an Essenes settlement, the site of the Dead Sea Scrolls from 2000 years ago.
Seating arrangements mattered greatly. Jesus was the host. The first seat on the left and the first on the right at the table were positions saved for servants. Therefore, the two servants of the meal would have been John and Peter. We know that John leaned on Jesus, so John would have been on the left hand of Jesus and Peter on the right. The second position from the left would have been where the host was seated. Next would have been the guest of honor. In this case, it was Judas.
The accounts of Jesus were written almost 2000 years ago. How people ate, interacted, their customs and greetings were not documented. There was no need as they were familiar to everyone. Just as today, when we write or tell a story, there is the assumption that the reader is familiar with the customs and practices of everyday life in our country. For instance, when telling a story about what happened at Thanksgiving, the author probably wouldn’t talk about the table setting, or the stuffing. We know how the table would be set and where the forks would go. Today, our customs are different from 2000 years before. Understanding the way things were then, gives us better understanding of the Bible today.
As a Christian and a human being, I was very troubled recently by an event that happened at a Church down the road from the Presbyterian Church where I am a member. I won’t name the denomination or the Church but it wasn’t Presbyterian or Methodist or Anglican or Unitarian. The event involved a young girl, in her late teens that I have met a couple of times a few years ago. The event happened just before Christmas.
This young lady is gay. She left home after high school graduation and after coming out. She returned to her parents’ church, the church where she grew up. She was asked to leave by the minister. She was told that because she was gay, she was not welcome. This was done in front of the members of the congregation.
Now, I have heard the arguments that the minister was justified in telling her to leave because she was there to create a scene, because she had caused her parents much heart break with her many rebellious acts, because she was only there for the Christmas presents and because she wasn’t there for God.
Even so, even if all of the arguments are true, couldn’t the situation have been handled differently? I know that his young lady is not perfect but she is a child of God.
My minister’s daughter invited her to our Church but she didn’t come. Since I don’t really know her, I didn’t contact her directly but did send a message through the minister’s daughter that I would go with her to the local Metropolitan Community Church. I wanted her to see people that are happy in their Christianity and in a Church that is happy with them.
Our Church would have been welcoming and open to this young lady. Our minister and our congregation could have helped heal some of her wounds. However, I think because the young lady is struggling now with an identity crises, she needs more than straight people. She needs good role models that are Christian and are gay. We don’t have that combination in our tiny church with 30 members.
It has been 2 months now since the incident. To my knowledge, she has not gone to any church. She has not seen her parents. She has her friends.
If God doesn’t make junk, then how can a church throw her away? I am still troubled.