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November ending

The first day of November found Sweet William and me on the long road home after a three-day trip to see our precious ones and celebrate our second grandchild’s 16th birthday. It was sweet few days of being very present with ones we hold dear. As we neared our home and the familiar sights comforted our weariness, a beautiful sunset greeted us, an apt ending to our journey.

November days exchanged the smell of freshly mowed grass for wood fires burning in fireplaces. The leaves began changing – finally, as if they were waiting for something. When it looked like the fall colors would dissolve into muddled browns, suddenly the reds emerged: crimson, wine, mahogany. I saw the sun shine on muted golds that seemed to set them afire.

2013-faI discovered reds in my own little woods this fall and was thrilled. Except for our old Bradford pear, which waited until Thanksgiving week to show off her change of dress, red has been rare on our lane, and I delighted in its appearance.

101_1266Daylight saving time befell us in November and set my inward clock reeling. I wanted to get up at 4:30 am and go to bed at 7 pm. Maisie and I both are slowly adjusting.

I read the Velveteen Rabbit, written by Margery Williams, for the very first time. I knew the story line but not the entirety of it. I think Sweet William and I may be real by now because it feels like a lot of our fur has rubbed off.

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The presidential election came to an end. Trouble still brews in our country. There is no solution to hatred except love. Racism will continue to exist until we have a heart change. That happens through Jesus Christ. We can try our best to love people and change our behaviors, but we cannot do it permanently. The ugliness eventually raises its head. When we have been graced with extreme mercy from the blood of a cross, it becomes easier to give grace to another.

Maisie and I enjoyed the crunch of fallen dry leaves as we walked, her nose to the ground nuzzling what may be underneath. Cold days brought out sweaters and coats, scarves and gloves for those chilling morning ventures. Though our route is the same each day, she sniffs as if to discover something brand new. I breathe in God’s creation and breathe out a bit of my stress.

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My piano students performed at fall recital, a time when they show their progress. Each year they improve their abilitiy to play more difficult pieces. I bask in the afterglow of their accomplishments and marvel that I have the pleasure of passing along my love of music to young hearts.

The week of Thanksgiving gave us sweet time with extended family and our precious ones who drove from afar to spend three glorious days with us and share our holiday table this year. It was a gift indeed. We drank gallons of coffee as we caught up on news and opened our hearts to one another at the table. The visit was over too quickly, and my eyes filled with tears at their parting. I waved until their car was out of sight.

The hot water heater went out while they were here and we had to get creative. The grandchildren went to cousins’ homes to bathe. Some of us did the frigid shower here. I heated water in the tea kettle to wash dishes, even the enormous stack piling up as we prepared the Thanksgiving recipes. After our time in the desert this summer, I took it as a challenge. There are just these remaining questions: Why does the air conditioner go out on the hottest days of summer, and why does the hot water heater go out during a holiday week when businesses are closed and the house is full of people? Anyone?

The Monday after Thanksgiving brought repair men, and a hot shower felt especially good.

I began Christmas shopping this month, wanting to make the season simpler this year. That is always my goal as December approaches. I read something  that I hope might be a guiding principle as I make choices for the coming month. Perhaps it will even guide the coming year.

  1. Will this activity make me feel light or heavy, free or burdened?
  2. What is God saying to me right now in this moment?
  3. What is the purpose? Is love the motivation? What do I hope to achieve?

December approaches and Christmas is imminent. I hope to celebrate it for its true purpose and not be persuaded by marketers and advertisers who would talk me into a stress-filled season.

November’s colorfest fades and the bright-colored lights of December are already twinkling at us. The sparkle and shine of Christmas can be intoxicating. We can anticipate it with joy or we may already be feeling the pressure.

What will we be pursuing this Christmastide? What will be the guiding principle for the coming month? What is the end goal?

Perhaps those are questions we should ask ourselves.

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White as snow

Day 8 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Today’s suggestion:

Consider the wonder of how a sinful, dark heart can be washed as white as snow by the blood of Jesus. 

Then choose to examine your heart and seek the forgiveness offered by God.

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As I anticipate digging out of another record snowfall, my back aches just thinking about it.  There is work ahead of us today.  I was hoping for an early spring, but I got another proof that winter has not turned loose just yet.

Still, there is a beauty about the snow as I watch it fall, as I look out over the landscape that speaks to me of purity and cleanness.  Snow is just so white.

I cannot help but think of King David’s psalm of repentance, his cry for forgiveness:

” . . . wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”

That I can be forgiven from my sinful ways, from my dark thoughts, from my selfish motives by the blood of the Lamb of God is still amazing grace to me.  That God can look upon this imperfect woman and see my heart white as snow because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross brings joy unspeakable and full of glory.

I am forgiven.  What a beautiful truth.  It is settled because of faith that reaches to the Son of God who gave Himself for me just because of an unfailing, ever-seeking, will-not-let-me-go love.

The exquisiteness of this good news draws me to examine my heart again, to pray with sincerity:

O God, come and search the deepest part of me where no one else can see.

You know the secrets in my heart and you test my thoughts.

You have examined me, and You know everything about me.

Point out anything you find there that makes you sad,

things like unforgiveness, envy, bitterness, hatred, lust, pride.  I could go on.

Create in me a brand new, clean heart, O God.

Fill it with clean thoughts and right desires.

Sprinkle me once again with the cleansing blood of Jesus.

Wash away the stains of sin and I shall be whiter than snow.

 (taken from selected Scriptures)

Listen and worship.

“What Can Wash Away My Sins” by Jesus Culture

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