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Sunday grace

The alarm shouts at my sleepy head, and I press the snooze button too much.

Last night I grumbled as I set clocks forward, wondering why we keep doing this. The saving of time made me lose time this morning. My body feels it. And what wakes the birds in my little woods and the chickens in my neighbor’s yard? Is it not the sun, God’s rhythm-keeper, placed there in the sky for us day after day?

So why do we keep messing with the clocks?

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Time. Less a friend, it often seems our enemy, fleeting, running out, rushing ahead, adding years to our lives and age to our bodies. Yet time is a gift, given first to Adam and Eve, the evening and the morning, twenty-four hours that precede and proceed, without ceasing.

Last week time seemed limited with projects looming heavy on my mind. Things transferred from February now wait on the March list of “to get done.” Next week appears much the same. I only hope for small blocks of an hour now and then to move forward, making steps toward completing what I think is important.

But is it? Maybe I am the only one who cares, giving this undertaking importance and weight, perhaps more than it deserves.

Instead of my projects, I chose people last week. Saying “yes” to a spur of the moment lunch invitation. Driving Sweet William to his appointment. Inviting young sisters for brunch and some crafting. Attending a gathering for friends who needed comfort.  Visiting a loved one dealing with uncertainty and fearful outcomes.

Recording days in my journal, I view ink on paper and clarity comes. Last week I chose what is better.

There were days when I did not make such good choices. I relived one this week as I listened to those old audio cassettes on the player in our living room, still trying to pick what to keep and what I can toss.

Randomly in the middle of one cassette, I heard my son’s little boy voice. It was high-pitched and small. I saw the scene in my head, forty years ago, him sitting on the floor in our apartment listening to a vinyl record of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He had a book in his hand that followed the story being told in word and song on the record player, and a bell sounded when it was time to turn the page. “Mommy is it time to turn the page?” I heard him say.

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The first side ended and the record needed to be flipped and restarted to finish the book. And I heard my boy, “Mommy, it’s time to turn it over.” Silence and waiting. “Mommy come,” he said with more urgency, though it was only a few seconds.

What I was doing in that small two-bedroom home that made me keep him waiting? Whatever it was could not have been more meaningful than the child who wanted my attention.

While the memory was sweet, the pang of regret hangs over me even this morning. I suppose all mothers wonder if we were good enough. What kind of mother was I to that precious boy of mine? Did I give him what he needed, was I attentive, did I listen to his little boy requests, or did I put projects first too many times?

I’m not sure. You’d have to ask him. I only know I want the rest of my life to be people oriented and not ruled by lists and tasks.

People over projects.  Making the right choice this time, every time. Because time is a gift from God, and how I spend it is of the utmost importance.

Sunday grace.

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Permission to rest

Rest has not always been on my list of things to do. More likely in years past, I tried to see how little of it I needed. But no longer. I have wised up. I value a good night’s sleep. I enjoy sitting with afternoon coffee. I relish time at the table with friends and loved ones.

In our face-paced living, perhaps we need to rethink rest and give ourselves permission to do it more often. We might live longer; we might be happier; it might improve our relationships; and just possibility, we could experience a whole different kind of Christmas.

I enjoy Holley Gerth’s writings, and today she speaks to my heart. I hope you will read her wise words, posted here, and allow yourself and those around you to have a restful holiday season.

HOLLEY GERTH: What Can You Give Yourself this Christmas?

Rest can be an act of worship.

Using the gifts

Sweet William and I attended a wedding today. Guests brought gifts for the young couple to help them begin their lives together. Their journey of two becoming one will be a challenge, and they can use a little help as they begin.

We all wish them the very best and hope what we gave them is useful. Gift cards will be welcomed as the wedded couple purchase exactly what they need.

Don’t we all love receiving gifts? There’s a thrill in seeing a brightly wrapped package or pretty gift bag that is meant just for me. I enjoy the anticipation of wondering what is inside. More than anything I appreciate that someone cared enough to go to the effort and expense of getting something he/she thought I would like, find useful, and consider beautiful.

God gives gifts to each person, talents and skills to be used to help us on this journey of life. They are to be shared and to be a blessing to others as well.

 Kelly Minter, author, speaker, and musician, thoughtfully presents a new year’s opportunity to refine our God-ordained gifts. Wouldn’t that idea help me focus myself in the coming year? Instead of spreading myself thin in lots of areas, I might concentrate on a few strengths, hone my skill set, and use my spiritual gifts for the building up of the body of Christ.

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I think it is one of the best ideas I’ve heard yet for my goal setting in 2017 (and yes, I’m still working on that). I will let these thoughts swirl around in my mind and see where the Spirit leads.

Will you join me here to read Kelly’s blog?

 

Snow Day

Yesterday afternoon my piano students were excited about the possibility of a snow day. They had only been back to school two days since the Christmas holiday.

Before the evening was over, I got into their spirit of anticipation.

Early this morning, I looked out the window to see if any flakes were falling from the sky. Not yet. I turned on the local news and weather, and to my surprise schools were already canceled in the surrounding counties. This is some kind of prediction.

At about 7:30 am, the deck began to turn white. Maisie and I donned our warm coats and headed out into the beginnings of a ground cover. I wondered what she would do with snow. We welcomed Maisie to our home last March, and while snow may not be new to her, it would be a something for us to experience together for the first time.

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She sniffed at it but there really wasn’t enough yet to stir her curiosity. As snow accumulated, she ran and nosed it and seemed to enjoy the white stuff.

A snow day is like a surprise, free 24 hours, if you happen to be a school student or a teacher. For the road workers, it may be the busiest day of their week.

My home piano students were scheduled to resume lessons today after having the month of December off. I canceled those activities and settled in here at the Wright House. The snow day is a present to be opened and savored.

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I can use it to catch up on reading my current book, Beth Moore’s first novel, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus.  I could clean out a few more drawers or closets, that on-going January ritual of mine. I may put a pot of vegetable soup on to simmer.

I will most likely practice the piano since there is a wedding coming soon. I will drink another cup of coffee or perhaps some hot chocolate as Sweet William and I watch the grey sky full of flurries. Maybe I’ll take a nap.

When I really consider it, each day is a gift. God presents us a fresh beginning every 24 hours. We can use it for good, we can rest in it, or we can waste it if we are not careful.

The freedom to choose how I spend the next precious hours of my life comes from the Father who knows how to give good things to His children.

I think of Moses’ wise counsel often: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) .

Wisdom is the thing. I want more wisdom. I need more wisdom. I want to use discretion and be discerning in how I live this wonderful, wild life I’ve been given. I want to be prudent in how I treat others, in the words I say, and the way I live out my purpose.

Numbering my days, keeping aware of its brevity and my mortality, seems to be a key to wisdom. Looking to God and His Word for the plan and following Him will be the way to invest my days. Then perhaps, this will be a life well spent.

Today is a snow day. Taste it, experience the joy of opening the gift.

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A clear vision

Several years ago, a friend told me about unclaimed money and how to look for it.  And guess what?  I found some that had my name on it!

It wasn’t a lot of money, not like a windfall inheritance from a long lost relative who remembered me in his will.  But it was a nice surprise.  It was like getting a check for free.  Quite exciting.

As I look at the first day’s study of Armor of God, I am reminded of so many spiritual blessings I have already been given through Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 1 lists many of them:

redemption, forgiveness, riches of God’s grace, included in Christ, marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit, God’s incomparable great power for me, and on and on.

But if I forget about them or don’t make the effort to access them or simply don’t believe they are for me, then I am likely to walk in defeat rather than victory.  I’ll be the poorer for it.

I need a clear vision of God’s spiritual blessings, the bounty of His goodness lavished on me as a follower of Jesus.  He has given me so much and I need to open my eyes.  I need to believe what He says.  I need to receive it all.  All!

Open my eyes so I can truly see the marvelous things in your law!   — Psalm 119:18, NET Bible

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I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people . . .    –Ephesians 1:18 NIV

Remember that free money I was talking about?  It took some effort on my part to get it.  I had to fill out forms and mail some things in before the check came to me.

It is the same in our relationship with our Savior.  He takes us just as we are but does not plan on leaving us in that place.

He has given us everything we need, grace abundant, gifts galore, and He wants us to grow in Christ.  He wants us to become disciples so we then can be a discipler, helping others grow.

Is it too much trouble for me to come to Him through prayer and Bible study to learn more and access His power?  Will it require too much energy to gather with fellow believers so we can learn, encourage each other, and challenge one another like iron sharpens iron?  Is it just too much out of my comfort zone to open up and share with a trusted Christian friend when I struggle and when I need prayer?

I don’t think so.  The gifts and blessings are there for the taking.

I need to reach out and take what is already mine.  In Jesus Name.

 

 

 

Be the vessel

Sometimes it’s something someone says.  Sometimes it’s a sermon I hear.  Sometimes it’s both.  And the thoughts begin to form in my mind.  Such was the case yesterday at church.

Be the vessel that God uses to display His glory.

Do you sing, teach, speak?

Do write letters, write manuals, write a blog?

Do you fix things, build, inspect?

Do you advise, manage, organize?

Do you sympathize, empathize, cry with and pray for?

Do you offer a healing touch, listen with your heart, touch tenderly?

Do you nurture, give care to children or the elderly or a family member?

Do you discipline, disciple, instruct?

Do you make people laugh, make them think, make them feel at home?

Are you a true friend, a good neighbor, a loving parent or grandparent?

Then you are a vessel for the glory of God to shine through.  As His glory filled the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple built by Solomon, His Spirit now fills each believer. We have the potential to unveil the glory.  Think of it!  His glory in us.  Declaring Him to the world.

It is in our brokenness, our poorness of spirit that He shines bright, offering light for the lost world to behold Him.

All that we have, each and every gift, talent, and experience is designed by the Creator on purpose. It comes from His hand.  Out of the abundance of His love He supplies our strength, our thinking processes, our ability to do anything.  Shall we not then return it to Him by being the vessel through which He displays His glory and His love?

Whatever it is you do, let it be to the praise of His glory.  And be the vessel.

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The day after Christmas

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It’s Christmas Past and Sweet William and I sit quietly in the early morning hours waiting for the dawn. Tree lights still twinkle red and green.  Devotions are read.  Coffee cups emptied.  All is calm, all is bright.

I ponder Advent and the moments we have been given.  Friends gracing table, shared joys and sorrows, memories and hopes mingled.  Learning to be content with the plenty and the less than. The prayer “Be enough for me, Jesus!” being answered in tender ways.  Learning He is enough.

It is the season for giving gifts, and I will receive the gifts God gives for they are all beautiful though sometimes they melt me. The molding and pressing and changing of a life into something more akin to the Son, my dearest, nearest of kin, it is a painful process.  There is no other way to reflect His light, His love.

Today I relinquish claims to my own will.  Tomorrow I will have to do it again.

He is Lord.  Lord over all.  Lord of my days and my nights.  Lord of my laughter and my tears.  Lord and King benevolent and gracious, always bestowing the gift of Himself.  The greatest present.  His presence.

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The mystery was revealed and angels gazed in wonder.

The prophecy foretold was fulfilled.  The Promise became living, breathing Infant.  Child.  Savior.

The Creator surrendered to the constraints of creation.  The Lawgiver came to fulfill the law.

The breath of God, His very Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  Still lives with us.  In us.

The unutterable name of YHVH was wrapped in a blanket and called Yeshua.  Jesus.

And thus . . .

The lost is found.  The prodigal gets to go home.

The impure is cleansed.  The sinner is called righteous.

The ugly is redeemed and clothed in beauty.

The war-torn is offered peace and a place of rest.

The needy receives grace.

The orphan is welcomed into the Father’s house and invited to call Him Abba.

It was a holy night.

This day, this time in history, this moment, it is holy still.

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