Monthly Archives: December 2015

New Year’s Eve 2015

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Well Happy New Year’s Eve to you!

We all have different ways of bringing in the new year that vary from family to family. Some have certain foods that are eaten either today or tomorrow, some gather with friends and some head to bed at the usual time and treat it just like any other day.

As a child, I have memories of huddling around a small black and white television and watching Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians with my family.
(Oh…young or old out there…please do yourself a favor and google YouTube New Year’s Eve 1957…the clock…the Clairol ad…classic…)

We would watch the ball dropping in Times Square every year.

Although I must admit that with the quality of film and the size of the screen, sometimes I missed the whole descent and then boom…it was over. Just getting to stay up that late was a treat and then in the 1970’s Dick Clark introduced his Rockin’ New Year’s Eve…anybody??

Another image that sticks in my mind about the New Year was the cartoon depictions of the past year as a tired old man weighted down with a sickle. He looked haggard and weary and defeated. The New Year was a diaper clad, chubby baby with a toothy smile; wearing a beauty queen sash sporting the numbers for the new year.

I found all of this disturbing. And slightly depressing.

Even as a child, I figured out that in 365 days that saucy little tot was going to be transformed into the bearded old man in a long robe…and another baby would be grinning and wide-eyed right on his heels.

It seemed so pointless. And sad.

But somewhere along my journey, I realized that the meaning and purpose of life is not found in this predictable and hopeless beginning and ending; but in the One who has no beginning and no end.

We don’t cycle in a year.

We progress forward day to day.

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One step at a time.

This coming year will have a familiar ebb and flow of mornings and evenings, weeks and weekends, seasons, celebrations, ups and downs. But it will be unique and each day will be a display of His new mercies.

Our family entered 2015 with a hope deferred. Some wonderful thing that we thought would be happening had fallen through right before the holiday season kicked off. We took our heavy hearts to God and we let Him minister to us as we shared Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years together in sweet ways.

And then in March…

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we found out He had a little blessing and delight planned that had not been on our radar at all…a precious bundle named Joel Timothy who arrived in October this year.

As I look at his sweet face and hold him in my arms, I marvel that this time last year we had no idea what God was up to.

We have had some hard things as well, this year…but He has been faithful.

And so as we turn the calendar to a new year, we don’t really know what it will hold…but we can be assured that our God is already ahead of us just as He is with us today. And while the year had a mix of good and bad, all of it is held in His hands as a treasure stored and kept safe.

He is Ancient of Days, but never a weary and tired old man…He is always doing something new and yet remains unchanged.

Nothing takes Him by surprise. Nothing and no one is out of His reach.

May God bless you as you move forward with Him into 2016.

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I pray that we will be like Him…and be found faithful in the coming year <3

Why I routinely empty the Spam folder

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I have a filter on this site…and for the most part it catches all the spam. Although on occasion one will slip through as a legitimate comment.

And it catches me off guard because it has what appears to be a solid email address…

and it always sounds so nice.

“I really like what you said about_________”…and it pulls some thought from what I wrote and plugs it in.

or…

“I share so many of your posts with my friends.”

or

“I came on your post by accident, but it really spoke to me about _____________”

or

any other clever string of phrases that all sound right but are lies.

They are designed to draw me in so that I respond to the sender.

Which is basically some kind of trap meant to harm me or this site or the work that I pray God is doing through these efforts of mine to encourage anyone who really does read the words I have written.

I have others who comment in truth.

They really were touched by what I wrote…or really did share with someone.

And I am deeply encouraged by these comments.

I also have comments that help me do what I am called to do in a better way … like a friend who is so good to let me know when I have typo.

I want my writing to be excellent and I appreciate knowing when I have a misspelled word or an error in grammar.

I also appreciate the honesty of my favorite proof-reader …. and better half.

He will hesitate, because he knows I don’t take suggestions well…but he gulps and points out the parts that don’t make sense….and he patiently lets me get all defensive and snippy…as I take the laptop back and rework some phrases….

Because he knows I want it to be the best it can be.

Because he knows I want it to make a difference and that I have more invested in this than what makes me feel good.

Because he knows why I write and Who I am representing.

Because he and I both know that my best interest isn’t about me at all.

It’s about what is right and true.

There’s a whole lot of spiritual spamming going on out there in our world today.

There are thoughts and words and ideas that seem right…make people feel good…but they are lies.

And lies are never in your best interest.

I pray we would have discernment to test the spirits of this world against the unchanging truth of God’s Word and that we would have the wisdom to choose truth over lies and the courage to delete anything that is spam..no matter how appealing it may be to us.

 

And so that was Christmas….

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On a rainy Monday morning…with remnants of boxes and tissue still tucked in amongst our regular every day paper clutter…mail from last week in mini-piles here and there….assorted packages of goodies and candies that are starting to crystalize on the counter….leftovers that are begging to be tossed before Thursday’s garbage pickup…I am in that in-between time….

In between all that makes Christmas sweet and bittersweet…charming and over-indulgent…

Cherishing the quiet and sacred…processing the hard to understand…

mentally and emotionally inventorying 2015 and wondering what 2016 will hold.

There is a rhythm to this week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve that has its own set of traditions.

Malls and shops are filled with people exchanging and returning gifts…and using gift cards to snatch up bargains.

Holiday decorations are coming down in efficient homes, or finally being enjoyed in homes where pre-Christmas activities robbed people of that pleasure of reading or knitting under twinkling lights tucked into evergreen.

We are planning how we will do next year better…most likely contemplating changes to improve our health, get organized and pursue deeper meaning in the things that matter to us.

So in light of that, here are a few things I do during this week between the old and the new. They aren’t that awesome, but they help me make the transition.

<3 I scan over the journal pages from my morning quiet time and use these to remember God’s faithfulness to us the past year. It also provides a way for me to see any themes God was speaking into those daily contemplations .

<3 As the year comes to a close, I pray and ask God for a “focus” for the coming year. I see this concept in several popular ministries where it is called “One Word”…what is your one word for the year…ie. “Joy” or “Gratitude”. It is nearly impossible for me to ever use just one word for anything so my focus tends to be a concept. He is speaking something to me this season that is resonating and I am praying if it is something to share or just keep private…so stay tuned….maybe…

<3 I also like to evaluate met goals…and this isn’t for boasting but to encourage me that I actually did finish SOMETHING. As a person who always sets out to do way more than is humanly possible, I can get discouraged by all I didn’t get done…so I like to take a moment to celebrate completed projects, goals met, books read and thank God for helping me to do all that I did do. Seriously, it is an act of worship to take that inventory and set it before the Lord as a gift back to Him for the year!

<3 In the same token, I like to set up some goals for the new year. This is done in tangible ways:

…. make a stack of books I would like to read and placing them beside the reading chair in the family room

…. organize the uncompleted knitting projects into individual bags and store in one place

…. type a “goals” list in some kind of interesting font and print it off so I have a visual for 2016

…. take time to pray and ask God how we are going to spend the first part of the day together and then set up my bag ‘o devotional material so that it is ready to go each morning.

Then again, as an act of worship and surrender, offer the coming year to Him and invite Him to make any necessary adjustments.

This is what works for me to bring closure to the old year and usher in the new with a sense of hope and meaning and purpose.

I would so….LOVE…to sit over a cup of coffee and hear what YOU do…so….

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Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve to you and yours!

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A few weeks ago, at one of the Christmas events we got to share with family, Graham decided to grace me with getting to hold him during the program.

First off, let me assure you…this little guy loves all his family equally and there is an abundant crew of arms that long to hold him so any time you get picked for the moment; it’s a treasure that you just soak up for as long as it lasts.

As the program ran on, he was getting a bit bored and talkative so I got some paper and pen out for him to draw. While it alleviated the boredom, it didn’t do much for the chatter.

He narrated as he worked, giving me play by play in the loudest quiet whispers he could muster.

As he drew circle heads and stick arms and legs, he told me the smaller one was him and the one with longer dangling legs was me.

Then he drew our arms stretched toward each other and conjoined them in a circle.

We are holding hands, he told me.

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Well that was super sweet…

and then he said he would make a duplicate of it for me.

That way we would each have one to take home and when we miss each other we can hold the paper and hug it.

 

I may have cried.

But as I sit here on the cusp of Christmas day, I think of Jesus and how God sent Him to us as a child who grew into a man.

And that man showed God’s love for us by taking our place on the Cross, paying the penalty for our sins.

According to God’s Word, He then died and was resurrected…not just coming back to life, but overcoming death once and for all.

Literally.

For all people and all time.

And then He ascended into Heaven and released His Spirit which now makes His home in all who would receive Messiah, the Christ, as their Lord and Savior.

So … He kind of drew a picture of Himself on each of us who are believers…and He drew our picture on His nail scarred hands.

And aren’t we blessed that when we love one another, it’s a bit like hugging that piece of paper for G and me…

blessed be the tie that binds…our hearts in Christian love.

We love because He FIRST loved us.

God so loved the world…that He sent His only Son…that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish…but shall have everlasting L I F E …..  John 3:16

I pray God’s Joy and Love and Peace will permeate each of your hearts as we celebrate His love expressed for us through sending us His Son, Jesus Christ.

I pray you know His Presence and sense His love for you.

Hold fast to the heart of Christ.

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He surely is holding your heart steadfastly, dear child of God <3

Reality Check and Pep Talk for December the …. 23rd

This will just take a minute….

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So slow down…take a breath and listen up…because the kids are like….

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and our nerves are like….

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so here are some thoughts that I repeat to myself when I have spiraled into the day before Christmas Eve frenzy…

<3   Gifts – seriously?? Everyone on our Christmas list already most likely has abundantly – more – than – enough. Our gifts are tokens of our love and/or appreciation. They are supposed to be FUN for you to purchase and FUN for them to open. If your kids/spouse/whoever doesn’t get everything on their wish list then you have blessed them with the gift of not being over-indulged =0)

<3 Food – kind of the same thing. Everyone attending any kind of meal in your home is probably not nutritionally deprived. Think restaurant menu… the best meals you eat out have an entree, a side and a salad. Throw in some kind of rolls and pull out that tray of cookies from the neighbors and you are golden.

<3 Projects – it’s ok if you didn’t get them all finished. An IOU is way better than a cranky, overtired relative or friend who stayed up til 3 in the morning to finish your handmade gift. They will have something to look forward to in January – and you, my friend, will have something to focus on instead of taking your tree down =0)

<3 All those great ideas that were just in your head and never came into fruition – Repeat after me…NO ONE KNOWS…you are the only one who knows all the cute and wonderful and awesome things you wanted to do that you never got around to…so just put them in some sort of mental file box and ….

LET

IT

GO…….

so you can just be filled with….

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