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Little things

It’s the little things that can do me in sometimes.

The mini items on my daily to-do list. The niggling pain in my knees. Losing my keys again (or phone or purse). The small and inconsequential that builds and can become a mountain.

I recall the huge events in my life, the impact they had, how they changed me and life as I knew it. But the daily small can chip away like the persistent dripping on rock. Imperceptible until a depression in stone appears. And I see the shift.

Making the bed, preparing breakfast, doing endless mounds of laundry, shopping for groceries, paying bills, sweeping Maisie’s hair from the floor, running errands, filling the tank with gas. The mundane of an everyday existence can put me on overload.

Then I remember the small things that have greatly impacted.

  • A young woman who happened to come to a Bible study I was leading, how she has become a daughter of my heart.
  • A chance drawing of a name paired with mine, a home-school mamma who agreed to pray with me early mornings and has been my prayer partner for over a decade.
  • A doctor who moved his practice but kept Sweet William as his patient despite the incongruity of it, how he has been an instrument of healing.
  • The neighbors who bought the house next door, after renters came and went, and are like family to us now.
  • The appearance on a computer screen of a little tan and white dog with a flop ear, looking like she needed a home, her presence giving us laughter and love.

The small occurrences in our lives make big impacts, changing our story, making it a rich tapestry. We don’t see it at the time, how dailiness is weaving colors and design. Even the dark threads that we would rather leave out give depth and beauty to a life’s overall glory.

The story of Christmas is full of small things: an engaged couple; a long journey; houses and inns full to the brim; a rough feeding trough; an old man at Jerusalem’s temple looking for someone he hadn’t met.

Put together the small create a miracle. Prophecies are fulfilled.  Life as we know it changes forever.

There are miracles around us, wonders we are yet to see. Because some things take awhile. TIme reveals the potential of the events of a life, how they build upon each other to create a work of art. A life well lived.

Christmas can become full to the brim. One thing stacked upon another, filling the days too full to enjoy. Pause and take a breath to notice the small, the ways of wonder in and through it all. This day, this hour, this moment is packed with potential to change your life and those you love.

Christmas grace.

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November ending 2018

As autumn marks her days, we propel toward the end of another year. Can there only be one month left?

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Ten weeks of Bible study concluded the first week of November, and it was a blessed journey.  My study-sisters and I bonded through shared experiences, open hearts and vulnerability. We will keep declaring our commitment to Believe God from this day forward. The end of a study is bittersweet, the triumph of the finish line coupled with the poignancy of its ending.

Some of my piano students participated in a fall recital, and I was proud as a peacock. These three have been playing for a few years and shone like stars. As I listened to their skill, I marveled that I get to be part of this, the gift of sharing music with a child. Teaching came late to me, after years of administrative/management work. I believe I was meant to be a teacher right now, in this season of my life.

Sweet William and I watched God’s Not Dead:  Light in Darkness, third in the series. It presented a balanced view of Christians who seek to follow God and yet we stumble. Sometimes we make wrong decisions and hurt people. But we hope in a forgiving God who gives second chances, who tells us to seek reconciliation, to make amends with those we wound, and to start fresh from a clean slate again. God helps us learn from our errors and grow in grace.

I’ve had a number of doctor visits this month, unusual for me. But I’m trying to take full advantage of my paid deductible. I often find I’m the only one in the waiting room with a book to read. This month I re-read  For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn, a must read for every woman who wants to understand the men in her life.

for women only

 

The appointment with my primary care physician revealed I’m in pretty good shape for the years I’ve spent in this body. My doctor, who is the same age as my son, said she wanted to be like me when she grew up. Then she took x-rays of my knees. They show their age, and I certainly feel it.

Thanksgiving gave us food, glorious food. Our family knows how to put together a meal. I enjoyed the day with loved ones who are dear to me.  My favorite comment of the day came from one of our youngest. This five-year-old was eating a piece of my sour cream cake and said, “This is the best cake I’ve ever tasted in my life! What is the secret ingredient?” I leaned down close to his ear and said, “Butter.”

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The very next day, however, caught us off guard when one of own was diagnosed with a mass in her brain.  Again we are faced with the fragility of life, the uncertainty of tomorrow, and the immediacy of prayer in times of trouble.  We find comfort in knowing our God is sovereign. He is not caught off guard by troubling news, and He is very much in control when situations seem overwhelming.

The last days of November for this teen were spent in the hospital, being poked and prodded, having procedures and tests. The outpouring of love and concern, as witnessed through social media, texting and calls was heartwarming. People are our greatest resource and wealth. We don’t always realize how rich we are until something arises that saps our reserves of strength. We look around to see love being poured into us.

I began thinking about Christmas even before November began, purchasing gifts ahead of the frenzy as much as I could. Sweet William and I talked about paring down this year. It seems like that has become my theme. Do less and enjoy it more.

Years ago I had a friend who was a retired school teacher. She put Christmas in every nook and cranny of her modest home, and I loved going to her house. As she grew older, she used to say it was foolish to keep doing all of it, yet she did. And I delighted to visit her for a cup of Chrismtas tea, my eyes wandering to all the spaces filled with ornaments, elves, Santas and festivity.

There were years I tried to duplicate her holiday spirit at our house with red and green in every corner, on every surface high and low. But now I’m choosing to be content with enough. Temptations to add something else crop up when I view TV, Pinterest, and magazine covers. But I am determined to be satisfied so I can focus on what is more important.  For me, less is indeed more.

I’m enjoying podcasts these days, and the ones about holiday stress are what has my ears perked up. One woman said she makes an “I Won’t List” of things she will not do that  would only add to her anxiety. If I made such a list, first would be “Do not put out every single thing in those multiple Christmas boxes.”

What would I put on a “To Do List for December?” Share a Christmas devotional each morning with Sweet William. Respond to serendipitous opportunities with a friend. Attend a Christmas musical. Watch some classic Christmas movies in the comfort of home (The Bishop’s Wife,The Preacher’s Wife, and The Nativity are some favorites from my library). Read a novel set in the season. Relax and enjoy the holiday.

Perspective is everything, and it was crystal clear as we sat in the hospital waiting room. I heard my 12-year-old cousin, twice removed (or something like that; I never know) talking about something that happened “a long time ago.” How long ago, someone asked? “About a year,” he said. A year is more like a sprint to me.

As I turn the page of the 2018 calendar for the last time, it seems obvious that my year’s goals are a done deal. December is not the month to catch up on the big projects I had planned. If I deem them important enough, I’ll transfer them to next year and try again. The last month has a conclusive feeling. We are coming to the end.

Just as I view January as a new beginning, I’m seeing December as closure. The question I ask myself is this: How shall I spend these final days of 2018?

Some of my illusive, intangible objectives at the beginning of this year were to go deeper, keep trying, be creative, keep learning, listen more, enjoy this life.

This is where I shall focus time and energy as the next thirty-one days are checked off.

I pulled out the Christmas CDs from the back of the cabinet and put five of them on to play as I busy myself with the mundane today. Life is a beautiful thing and we have this day to live fully or to waste with unhealthy emotions. It’s my choice.

So let the music play. Advent begins. Sing Gloria!

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Make us Your own.

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Sunday grace

It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving and also the first Sunday of Advent. They greet each other today.

The admonition in my devotional book points me to a continuing path. “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The few days of the holiday leave memories lingering, thoughts of my family, my precious ones, gathered around tables of food and fellowship, the conversations as varied and tantalizing as the recipes we prepared. Love for one another overlooks our differences of opinion.

Laughter rings from room to room. Children relish time with each other and lay forth a challenge to jump in cold waters of the swimming pool as adults stand around and remember being this young and adventurous.

There is much for which to say “Thank You” to my Father in Heaven. Not just on Thanksgiving Day but every day of my wonderful wild life.

We press forward toward year’s end, the compulsions of Christmas pursuits weighing upon us.

Giving thanks is followed by the invitation to look for the Christ child. The coming of the Promise rides on the heels of a grateful heart. Is there a message for me here?

As I look for joy, count gifts, acknowledge my  blessings from a benevolent God, my heart opens to the prospect of what will come. A good, good Father gives good to His children. His word is true and faithful. What He says He will do indeed.

I will anticipate the season of Christmas with gladness for it is the fulfillment of the promised Messiah. He didn’t come as expected in robes of royalty. But He came none the less, in humble attire and amidst uncertain ways.

My gifts often come disguised. They are still gifts. And I will be thankful.

Sunday grace.

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You’re invited

Advent.  The coming.  Looking forward to.

At this season of Christmas we look for the One who was promised.

But on the other side of the coin is an invitation for you and me to come.

He is seeking us.  It’s why He came.

To rescue us, to redeem us, to pay our debt, to claim us as His very own people.

Oh yes, He comes.  He came.  He will come again.

He issues the invitation now for each of us to come to Him.  Just as you are.

Willingly bow to His lordship over your life.

One day at His coming again, the edict will be mandatory

and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him

Lord of lord and King of kings and none will stand upright in His presence.

It’s our choice, our choosing Him who first chose us.

Won’t you hear His voice and respond to His invitation?

christmas party

You are cordially invited to a Christmas party,

A birthday celebration in honor of Jesus Christ.

Date:  Traditionally December 25, but every day can be Christmas because He’s always near.

Time:  Today is the day of salvation.  Please don’t wait too long or you will miss out on all the fun.

Place:  Your heart.  He’ll meet you there.  Listen for His knock.

Attire:  Come as you are.  Grubbies are OK.  He will be giving you a robe of righteousness in exchange.

Refreshments Provided:  Living water and the Bread of Life like nothing you’ve ever tasted! 

Tickets:  Admission is free.  He has already paid the price.  You would not have been able to afford it anyway.  But you must accept His invitation.

Gift Suggestions:  He already has everything.  But what He really wants is you.

What to expect:  Joy, Peace, Truth, Life, Love, and lots of other gifts He is providing for those who accept and come.

R.S.V.P is Very Important!

Please respond soon.  This is the event of a lifetime.  You don’t want to miss it

If you would like to receive the gift of salvation this Christmas, to know Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior, go here now.  

And please let me know of your decision.  I would like to pray for you.

Coming . . .

Advent.  Latin for “coming.”  Anticipating the arrival of someone important.

A hopeful waiting, an excited looking toward, expectantly longing.

God’s promise was first recorded in Genesis but planned before the foundation of the earth.

And God always keeps His promises.  Though it tarries, wait for it.  Though it takes longer than we thought, do not give up.  When fear threatens and voices whisper in your head, “Where are You?” cast them aside and stand on the Truth.  The surety that He cannot lie.

O Come O Come Emmanuel.  I love this ancient hymn-carol.  The longing is heard in the minor chords, in the ripple of lyrics expressing the darkness of the day but looking toward a promised tomorrow.

Wherever you are right now, whatever your present trial or your past heartache, He comes for you.  He comes as the Gift of Christmas.  He gives Himself, the greatest Gift ever, and His heart asks, “Will you take this Gift I offer?  Will you take Me?”

He is coming.  He has come.  He will come again.  Redemption rests in His hand.

Come though long-expected Jesus.  Come to set Your people free.