Monthly Archives: December 2013

Reflecting and Evaluating

As surely as we put up the tree, decorated the porch, sent the cards, wrapped and opened the gifts, attended Christmas Eve, did the Advent wreath, etc, etc, etc….. (fill in your traditions)….. we are now most likely in two modes. We are remembering the year in some fashion and looking ahead to what 2014 might bring.

A few of my looking back thoughts and reflections include:

<3 An intense and profound gratitude to God (and a lingering “What the heck was going on with all that? And please, oh please, help us to learn what You had for us!!”) for a twice canceled, and surely unnecessary, surgery on our son’s back this year. For those of you who prayed for him, he is experiencing a gradual healing.  We see him doing things he was unable to do this summer, and truly are believing God for his complete healing in the coming the year. And when God does a COMPLETE healing!!! Well, we are grinning in expectation!

<3 For the support and love of Russ to send me to a writer’s conference and encouraging me to take the next step in this journey. For believing in me and for me and seeing something I dream of, but can’t imagine could happen.

<3 For the help of a friend to set up this blog and for the faithfulness of God to speak through my life and experience and wacky perspective in a way that I hope touches and encourages others for Him.

<3 Healing in my own foot so that I can actually walk, and (oh my goodness!!) run, pain-free.

<3 For allowing me to watch God raise up three amazing godly women to be leaders in a new ministry at our church that is drawing women from all generations to minister to the particular needs of single moms.

<3 To watch so many of our friends walk through incredibly difficult trials and hold forth the Word of Life. To see them reach out and grab God’s hand when they were going down and to see them rise and proclaim the goodness of our God and power of His Word, time and again. You have inspired me and strengthened my faith!

<3 To have had so many moments with our family. Times to hug and to laugh and to just be together. My dear husband/best friend, three beautiful children, two precious son-in-laws, and two DELIGHTFUL grandchildren. (And the three dogs and turtle we get to visit)

<3 Fellowship with old friends, and making new friends.

<3 For the privilege of being allowed to teach adults at our church and to have a way to speak encouragement to others in the body of Christ.

There are so many more. God has been faithful every day of 2013.

I pray you are counting the ways of His faithfulness and giving thanks to Him for His goodness through every bumpy portion and every smooth stretch of the journey of 2013!

                     You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with                                                                                     abundance.      Psalm 65:11 NLT

May God bless you with eyes to see His love for you and for all whom you love <3

What color is the day after Christmas?

There was a lot of hoopla about the stores opening on Thanksgiving day this year and the extended hours of some establishments that went into the realm of ridiculous. Did anyone get bothered when they opened their email on Christmas DAY to a round of extreme savings from all manner of retailers??

We are a funny bunch, aren’t we?

We save like crazy from Black Friday through the Christmas Eve specials and with only one day to rest our charge cards, we are back out for the after Christmas markdowns!

With all the money we are saving, you would think we would be much farther ahead financially, right? =0)

I have a retail job, so hitting the stores is not really an appealing option for me no matter how great the savings. No, for me, the week between Christmas and New Year is a time of reflection on the past year and a growing desire to purge and clean. This only happens a couple of times each year, so I try to seize the moment with gusto.

This time of year,  you will find my husband and me digging through papers, going through drawers and closets and vowing that this year is going to be different. Don’t worry. It won’t last and we won’t get too carried away. So if you find that you are throwing a luau birthday party this year, we still have the lei’s, flowered party plates and fake coconut cups somewhere in a box in the basement. Just give me a day or two to find it!

What characterizes your week between Christmas and New Year?

Enjoy it, whatever it is!

Bless you as you relax, reflect and r-anticipate the coming year!

 

Echoes of Christmas Past

Nativity by Picasso or Graham?
Nativity by Picasso or Graham?

Merry day after Christmas!

I am writing this on Wednesday evening, sitting in our family room surrounded by scraps of wrapping paper and little piles of gifts. The kid-friendly manger scenes are scattered in various places, evidence that Graham was here for a few hours. That would also explain a flower arrangement that has been re-arranged and the migration of breakable ornaments to the northern parts of the tree.

It has been a great day. Our youngest is watching basketball and starting to stack things by the door for his departure tomorrow. And I seem to have something in my eyes. They kind of water off and on. Maybe I am coming down with something….

So allow me one little memory from a Christmas past that involves this 6 foot plus adult who holds down a real job and has his own apartment two states away.

The Christmas after 911 was a bittersweet time for our nation. We were shaken and had a new kind of fear to deal with when December rolled around that year. But children seem to have a way of changing our perspective.

That year, John was in the elementary band, as were most of the boys that lived on our street. He cooked up the idea that instead of caroling, they take their instruments house to house and try out some Christmas songs they were attempting to learn.

Another mom and I walked with them to help carry stands and music. Ok,we ran with them. In a fashion that resembled more of a sporting event than a concert, they took the neighborhood by horn. What they lacked in skill they made up for in volume and enthusiasm. Neighbors had less than a minute to answer the bell or the troubadours were high-tailing it on.

At one point, a van from a local nursing home, out viewing Christmas lights, slowed at a well- lit house down the street. The boys saw this as an opportunity not to be wasted and immediately positioned themselves on the snow covered sidewalk to serenade the surprised group of senior saints.

I laughed and cried my way around the block, knowing I was witnessing the making of a treasured memory.

Each Christmas, I can hear the echoes of those brass instruments and little guys’ voices up and down this street that has grown far too quiet. And it still makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

Oh, I hope you have stored up some laughter from this season! I hope you had some lovely times. And if you have something in YOUR eye as the holiday comes to a close, thank God for the precious gift of tendering your heart through the letting go and moving on.

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I am so thankful for you. I truly pray you have known His Presence this Christmas through those you love <3

Christmas Countdown 2013 <3 Day 25!!!

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So….after 24 days of caramels, today’s tin had ……. a caramel ….

AND……
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…. a teeny tiny gift card to Starbucks….so cute!!!

 

It’s here!!! Christmas Day is here!!! 

Yes, I am actually that obnoxious about Christmas morning. You would think with only one adult child home to start the day, I would have toned it down. But no. I didn’t. I had to make myself go back to sleep at 5 AM. Thankfully our son is still enthusiastic about Christmas morning, or at least tolerant enough of my exuberance, that he texted me at 9:21 to know if it was time for stockings …bless him! (Yes, he was upstairs. In our house. What did we do before texts?) I was annoying as all get out when he opened his stocking. He threatened to cease removing items if I didn’t stop saying, “Santa must have known you like_________”

One of the sweetest treasures of having grown up children is the transformation from receivers to givers.

What a blessed turn around! Who knew?? After years of anticipating their joy as we watched them open our gifts to them, we now are humbled to see their excitement as we open their gifts to us. There is something about the fact that they thought about us, about what we might like and then having them seemingly more interested in that gift being opened than what we got for them…I don’t know….it’s pretty sweet <3

I pray you have some delights that are warming your heart today!

I hope you have had time to worship, time to reflect, time to fellowship, time to rest. I hope that your hearts were touched as ours were at the Christmas Eve service last night. I hope you got to sing Silent Night or some other song that is special to you. I hope your heart is tender and joyful and quietly aware of God’s tender mercy wherever there is any sorrow or pain.

I pray you are blessed and know that you are loved so much. Merry Christmas!

 

 

Christmas Countdown 2013 <3 Day 24

An eclectic Christmas collection - so very "us"
An eclectic Christmas collection – so very “us” right down to the 24th tin that refused to behave!

Look up “eclectic” and you might see a picture of our house. If we love it, like it or received it from someone who loves us, it has a spot. Perfect example….

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This picture hangs in our hallway. We picked it out from some great art store like Kohl’s or Hobby Lobby. When we returned from the past few years’ CCF walks in Peoria, I didn’t want to throw the little “I walked the walk!” cards away, so just tucked them in the corner. Our most recent Kenya team brought back this gift from one of our Maasai friends so, well….there it hangs.

The Christmas display has a Kenyan nativity, the German Bible from my dad’s side of the family that traveled over here with immigrant great grandparents and the communion set that was crafted by friends of one of our dear friends. Oh, by the way, the potters are former convicts. Actually, my family tree that brought that Bible over had their issues; as do we.

This morning as I sit marveling that it is Christmas Eve, the tune that keeps running through my head is from the Chris Rice song, “Welcome to our World”. One of the lines that makes me cry every time I sing it is, “…so wrap our injured flesh around You. Breathe our air and walk our sod. Rob our sin and make us holy…”

It’s what He did. It’s what He does. Our flesh is injured; our sin so foul. But He came and took it all. We are so imperfect, so fragile. And He knows this.

Welcome to our world, precious Child. How we need You!

Blessings on  you dear ones. I pray you find yourself at the manger throughout the day, worshiping and celebrating the One who came to save us on the cross!