Monthly Archives: November 2013

Is Post Black Friday Stress Syndrome a Thing?

     What  day is it? I’m serious. It seems like it has been Saturday for days now.

Typical of American excessiveness, what was one ridiculous day of mind-numbing, door-busting binge shopping has evolved into a weeklong feeding frenzy. So basically my life the last few days and through the next 4 involve long hours of customer service fueled by leftover turkey.

And then….there’s that deal about transforming our house from …….

The leap from Thanksgiving to Advent
The leap from Thanksgiving to Advent

to, hopefully…….

Christmas 2013
Christmas 2013

………minus the green cord for the lights.

And this is my dilemma. I want the perfect Christmas. Lights without cords. Greenery without sap. Cards written, cookies baked, house decorated, friends and family gathered and being rested, refreshed and at peace…..

Somehow I struggle every year finding balance between remembering that God sent His Son to the poorest of families and the most humble of settings possible and my love for celebrating this holiday with traditions that mean so much to me. As I transform our house into an indoor evergreen monument of lights and color, my heart longs to slip away to a manger and just kneel before the holy family.

I hope you will join me for a countdown to Christmas right here. In silly and solemn ways, let’s share the days leading up to December 25th.

Let the festivities begin!

Bring it on
Bring it on

 

 

 

 

Special Thanksgiving Edition <3

In light of the upcoming holiday/travel/crazy retail work schedule of my life, I am posting this early. I pray it speaks encouragement to you and blesses you as you prepare for your Thanksgiving celebrations.

Five years ago to this day, I received a call in the wee hours of the morning. My mom had suffered massive strokes sometime in the night. After laying on the floor for unknown hours, someone finally heard the tapping she was making on the nightstand by her bed. The emotions of knowing this remain raw and tender in my heart to this day, but God’s grace reminds me He was with her every moment.

As I scurried to pull myself together and head to the hospital, my mind reeled with the state of our home. I had reserved the morning for the final cleaning. Our holiday company would be arriving around noon. Sarah and her dear Daniel were bringing his mother to meet us for the first time. It was already a given that this was our daughter’s future mother-in-law, and she was walking into the biggest mess of a house.

Even as I worried about my mom and what I was going to find at the hospital, I fought back the frustration in my heart that our Thanksgiving had turned into a fiasco. Before you judge me as shallow, remember: it was 5 in the morning, I had no coffee, little sleep and am able to think multiple thoughts with equally intense passion. I spared no concern for my mom, even as I panicked.

I remember crying out to God the only lame thing I could express: “This is NOT a good time for this!!!”

I love God. He is so direct with me. No sooner did I utter those words, than I heard the response in my heart. “THIS is the perfect time, because it is MY time.” While I couldn’t see how it would all work out, His words brought me a sense of peace that carried me through the next few hours and days.

It wasn’t a Thanksgiving that anyone would want to capture on Pinterest,but  it was one of the most precious Thanksgiving’s we have ever had. Daniel’s mother is happiest when she is serving and so she was blessed to prepare our Thanksgiving meal, as well as every other meal. She also would accompany me to the hospital and love on my mom and me.

I would never have had the opportunity to get to know this godly woman if I had been busy hosting her and her family. I am blessed to have heard my mom, in her stroke-ridden monotone, name all the people who were praying for her, and in the list – “Ani and her church in Paraguay are praying for me”. God tied my heart to our daughter’s new family through one of the most difficult seasons of my life.

Maybe this Thanksgiving has some curve balls that you weren’t expecting. I urge you to trust God and His timing. Don’t miss His grace in the midst of your switched up plans. I pray for each of you to know His great love and care for you in every detail of your life.

May you be blessed to know His faithfulness throughout this week.

Angel Dance

It is gray today. Gray sky. Gray trees. If the wind had a color, it would be gray. And it would be a lot of gray, because the wind is blowing at full November, gray-day strength.

Passing through town earlier today, I had some time to wait at the intersection by “Wake the Dead”.  It’s a dilapidated building that, quite frankly, is well named. I haven’t seen any activity lately, but it used to be a church/concert hall for what I think is called alternative music.

At some point, someone put up a fence around the side courtyard.  It looks like a wall around a prison and has a gate that reminds me of a spider web. In the center is a fountain with a concrete angel.  Wearing a knee length dress with huge wings, she is looking down at her feet. She appears to be intently focused on a quiet dance.

I have to say that against the broken wall, the unkempt yard and the piles of debris around her; she appears to be serene and content.

The hectic week that lies ahead for me is a logistical nightmare. Between work and travel, it is going to take discipline and iron strength to get the right casserole to the right place at the right temperature on the right day. In the mix is working all the black parts of the retail world, as well as sharing time with family scattered hither and yon.

Part of me wants to crumple in meltdown mode, kind of like I did a few hours ago in the grocery when I couldn’t find a can of pumpkin ANYWHERE. But most of me wants to put on a knee length dress, sprout some wings and dance like an angel.

The choice is clearly mine.

I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the blessings for which I give thanks and I will lift my heart to dance.

Blessings on you as you navigate through the hectic by keeping your eyes on the heavenly.

Mind the Gap

Have you ever been to London? If you have, then as you read these words, “Mind the Gap”, your brain most likely translates them into a recorded automated voice with a British accent. This will continue to run through your head for days. You are welcome.

If you haven’t, just imagine the sensation you get waiting in the airport after about the 800th announcement from the FAA. Come on everyone, join in if you know it. “For your safety and security, please do not leave baggage unattended ……”

The warning in London occurs in all the train and underground stations. It serves to make you aware that there is a canyon sized hole between the platform and the train. You would think people would notice this, but apparently it is an issue. To ignore the gap, misjudge the gap or lose your balance passing over the gap would be a huge mistake, so the warning is broadcast frequently over speakers and in case you didn’t hear it, it’s painted every few feet along the platform.

I have thought about that a lot this week as I have been reading in both Nehemiah and Ezekiel. Ezekiel is warning the Jews of the coming judgment of God when Jerusalem will be destroyed and the people taken into captivity. Nehemiah lived during that captivity, but was called by God to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city, including the Temple and the walls. Both books mention a gap.

Nehemiah and his fellow builders work diligently on the broken down wall around the city to fill in the gaps; the places where there is inadequate protection. The picture of this community working together is beautiful. They labor side by side; to rebuild, to protect, to strengthen and to restore. The passages stir my heart to look for places where people I love are vulnerable and in need of restoration. It is a good reminder for me to pray for them and encourage them in the low places, to join with others and “mind the gap” on their behalf. And it speaks of the fellowship of believers, as we pray for one another.

Ezekiel’s reference to the gap stirs my heart as well, but in a sad and painful way. Ezekiel speaks for God when he says that He sought for a man among the people who would make a wall and mind the gap on behalf of the land so that He would not have to destroy it. But He found no one. The people had wandered so far from God that He was turning them over to their enemies for discipline. Before He did this, He was seeking for someone who would intercede on their behalf. But it says there was no one. No one in all the land who was willing to fill that gap. No one who was willing to take the time and ask God to intervene. No one who saw all that was going on around him and was broken hearted enough to stretch out his arms between a people that had gotten way off track and the God who loved them.

When I read these words, and I hear an invitation from God to MIND THE GAP, I remember that Jesus stretched His hands across the gap between us and God and now we are His ambassadors. I stick my hand up and say, “I’ll do it Lord! I’ll stand in the gap.” I know I am not alone. I know there are others who look around and see such need of God in our world. I know there are others who see the danger of the huge pit between the masses on the platform and the on-coming train barreling down the tracks. I know there are others who would say, “There is someone willing: me. I will stand in the gap.” I know, also, that this is not an easy call or one to be taken lightly. The pit is wide and deep and to stand in the gap means to literally enter into the brokeness of it on behalf of those who are NOT minding it!

As you commit to stand in the gap, you begin to see the situation from God’s eyes. It won’t be some automated, repetition of a canned message that rises up in your heart. Oh, you will mind the gap, because the gap will be on your mind. You will take it very personally, and as you pray and intercede, God will give you the warning words through your own voice. His words spoken through you. His love poured out through you and through your life. His prayers prayed through you for this land.

May God bless you, each one, as you don’t just mind the gap, but also commit to stand, and kneel, and pray in it.

Flashback Wednesday <3 May 23, 2013

Last Saturday evening, we watched our grandson while his parents attended his paternal grandma’s college graduation ceremony. The plan was for them to call us when it was over and we would meet on the north side of Decatur so they could head back home. We got him ready for bed and watched a movie until the call came.  It was well past his bedtime, so as we fastened him in his car seat I told him we loved him and we were taking him to mommy and daddy. I thought he would fall asleep before we left our neighborhood. Not so.

 Looking back at him about halfway to our meeting place, I could see his eyes intently looking out the window. As the lights of businesses and cars flashed by, I thought how trusting he was that we were taking him to his parents. He had no idea how long it would be before he saw them. He looked so somber, my heart kind of ached.

 I reached back between the seat and held out my hand. He looked me square in the eye and then pulled a little hand out from under the covering over his lap. He firmly grasped two of my fingers. It was all his little fist could hold on to, and hold on he did! The blocks slowly passed. My arm began to cramp. Then my fingers began to tingle like they were going to sleep. Although the discomfort was increasing, I had no thought to let go. In the low light of the car, his eyes held as fast to mine as his grip on my hand. I was the link to the promise of mommy and daddy being somewhere at the end of the journey.

 God stretched out His hand to us on Calvary. He sent His Son to save us and His Son has promised to take us home some day. The road can seem so long sometimes. I think of the people who are the Body of Christ to me here. They have reached out their hand so many times and let me hold on til it hurt. They pray for me, listen to me, cry with me, encourage me and all of this long after their level of personal comfort has become compromised. All of these are the tangible touch of Christ, reaching through eternity.

 But sometimes, there is no tangible hand. Sometimes, it is just the promise that we hold on to. At those times, believe and do not doubt. He is reaching His hand through eternity. Though you cannot see it, or touch it, do not give up. Fix your eyes on Him and grab whatever your fist can hold of Him. Hold on tight. You will not weary Him. He cannot go to sleep. Hold on fast, little child of God, He is faithful!

 Bless you wherever you are this week! Bless you in whatever you are walking through! Bless you whatever season you are passing through! Bless you in the great times and the not so great! Bless you!