Category Archives: Relationships

Christmas Countdown 2020 Day 12

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On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Journey gave to you…a 2020 story that made me laugh so hard I cannot help but share it with you this morning. 

If you have known me for any length of time, you know that I carry no tenderness of heart for squirrels. I once used them as an example of being a lukewarm Christian to our Sunday School class.

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Picture one of them on the side of road as you are driving. 

It looks at your car approaching, scans the far side of both lanes, calculates its chances and bolts out across the pavement. Clearly it has done the math accurately and is almost past the dotted line safely when it hesitates.

It stops and looks back from whence it came. 

A quick decision to retreat seizes this rodent and then just as quickly it darts back in the previous direction. You can almost see the wheels in its tiny little maniac brain spinning as it does a dance back and forth in front of you. 

I likened this to being a wishy washy Christian by saying, “Don’t be a squirrel.”

I never lived it down. 

Over the years I have been the recipient of a variety of squirrel statues, magnets, ornaments, you name it. 

But in January of 2020, I began an encounter of the squirreliest kind ever.

The first week of January a manilla envelope arrived with calendar page picturing one of these goofy creatures in a snow setting. Scrawled across the top was a Scripture verse. 

No name accompanied. No return address. 

I ran through the list of people who had gifted me squirrels over the years and laughed thinking of who it could be. I posted this on Instagram. 

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No one took credit. 

In February, a second one came and again we laughed at the st***id squirrel getting Valentines from its little tiny mailbox and wondered who it could be. We tried to decipher handwriting and postmarks, but no clues.

And then March hit. 

We met up with a pandemic, and lockdowns, and toilet paper shortages. We prayed for the curve to flatten, washed our hands and adapted to Russ working from home.

The calendar page continued to show up regularly for a few more months and we continued to speculate who it could be and then the Scripture verses ended and I started getting messages about softening my heart toward these critters and with all the turn of events out in the world, it started getting creepy. 

One evening as we social distanced with our Covid buddies, we told them about the pages I was getting each month. I jokingly asked if it was them and they shook their heads in disbelief that I would even think they would mess with that noise…no way.

I almost felt bad even considering for a minute that they would be behind this. They asked me a few months later if I was still getting them and we all tried to figure out who it was. 

The first week of December, like clock work, the last manilla envelope arrived. This time the words above the photo of a squirrel hanging its Christmas socks on a clothesline declared that soon my mystery benefactor of nuttiness would be revealed. 

I was relieved to a degree that whoever it was would finally fess up. I put the last squirrel picture out in the recycling and the questions about who it was out of my mind and pretty much forgot about it.

Then last night, as Russ carried in some pizzas and our dear friends who have been our quarantine team through this whole crazy year of 2020 came in the front door, I was presented a small cardboard box. 

Red faced and laughing uncontrollably I was told that the enclosed gift was two years in the making. It had a squirrel address label so I assumed our Reds and Nascar loving friend had somehow found a squirrel in costume or behind its own race car or who knows what for me to hang on our tree with the others they have gifted over the years. 

Instead I found a note of confession and repentance because the creeper was he. 

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Yes.

Our dear friend had enlisted the help of his wife, family, friends and coworkers when he laid eyes on someone’s squirrel calendar at the beginning of 2019 at work.

He found out she was a fellow squirrel hater who had been gag-gifted with the calendar and so at the end of last year she gave it to him and he has worked faithfully to have different people write me messages. 

Postage drops were made from various locations…handwriting was varied to throw me off from the scribbled message to the address on the front. People I know and don’t even know were recruited to write whatever message came to them.

And the pièce de résistance was a selfie of these two crazy dear friends with the December squirrel…magnetized for the fridge door, no less. I have demanded over the years when they travel that I need a selfie to prove they were there. 

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All that to say, they thought of every detail. They worried sick that they were in too deep. When I think of the effort, the conversations they had as they would leave from us and both laughing and fearing that they had gone too far…I fall into fits of laughter again. 

I don’t know what on earth I ever did to deserve the wonderful people in my life. Actually I know, I didn’t do a thing to deserve a one of them.

Our family and friends are grace gifts from God. They are His mercy poured out on our lives that we would have been so richly blessed by each and every one. 

These are the treasures that moth and rust will not destroy. 

I hope my laughter made you laugh today.

I think these kinds of relationships built on the love of Jesus Christ and received as a gift of fellowship in His Name are what Paul is talking about in 1 Thessalonians. (I had to at least attempt to stay the course of Advent here, right???)

I pray you have the gift of friends who love you and will go to the greatest lengths to show you in ways you can understand but I I hope more than anything you always see them as God’s fingerprints pressed on the days of your life. 

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Christmas Countdown 2020 Day 2

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 I am so glad you are here. 

I mean that. 

I never know who I am writing to and who will be on the other side of this screen, but I am thankful for you. I am thankful you were led to come meet with me and I am thankful you are taking the time out of a busy life to just read what’s on my heart. 

If you know me, you know I joke about having a deep love for the hermit life. I can do without large groups, noise from the outside world and small talk. But I have learned in this Covid 2020 life that I cannot do without fellowship. 

I am blessed to have married my favorite person in the world and I am thankful beyond words for him to be here during this time. I am thankful I get to see our little ones and their mommy and daddy. I am thankful for our middle one who has carefully distanced and yet made the effort to stay in touch and visit within the parameters of safety. 

She’s a hugger like me and I am sure it has been difficult but her heart is big and she has tried her best to keep us safe.

 I miss our youngest like crazy. We would have seen him sometime this fall. I am thankful for his willingness to make the trip home for his summer birthday and I look forward to the hope that he will make it home for Christmas. But I miss him. 

We have used texts and calls more, we have burned up data on What’s App and we have mastered the zoom and teleconference calls to stay connected. 

We love them and staying in touch is important to our relationships. 

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And that is what I see in the opening lines of 1 Thessalonians. 

Paul loved his people. 

Separated by distance and time did not diminish it. 

It is a corporate, communal love. 

Repeatedly he uses “we” and “you all.”

He sends them grace and peace. 

He knows them and they know him.

He brags on them.   

Go through the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians and circle all the times he uses “we” and “you all.” Your Bible may just say “you” but Paul is talking to all the believers in Thessalonica. So if you have some southern in you, go ahead and just read you as “y’all.”

This morning I want you to read it and think of Paul loving this group of people and reaching out to them through a letter. Look at how he prays for them and what he thinks about them. 

If Paul could remain close and build relationship through snail mail, how much more can we do so in this day of instant communication. But it wasn’t in chatting with them that this love grew and blossomed, it was in thinking about them and praying for them and being thankful for them that his heart grew more and more in love with these flesh and bone humans. 

Take a minute and think of your people. 

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Think of your family, each one of them by name. Think of your friends and picture their faces and their families. 

This may take a while because you will start with your small circle but God will remind you of others and as you think on all those the Lord has blessed you to love, and care about and know…your heart will be so filled with love and joy. 

You may miss them terribly. They may dance on your ever-loving last nerve…but as you apply Paul’s words of thanksgiving for each life who intersects with yours, I truly believe you will be filled to overflowing with gratitude to God for the gift of each one. 

Can you think of a better way to spend some time today than just thanking God for your people? For His people? 

I am thanking Him for YOU right now. 

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And that would be a wrap on November <3

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The end of the Thanksgiving-palooza.

The end of November.

The end of my computer as we knew it…and the hope that the marvelous Geek Squad at Best Buy can keep the old girl running long enough to transfer all my words and photos onto the new one.

The end of the hope that I was going to get a November newsletter pulled together and sent out to you email subscribers over the weekend.

And new beginnings of December ! Yes!! Let’s get this Journey to Christmas started tomorrow with a new countdown. Hoping you will join me on a very special 25 days of Christmas look at a very non traditional holiday walk through 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

We start tomorrow so I really hope you will join me for a sweet little get away during this month and find encouragement with me in the teachings of these two short books <3

But before we leave November behind, here is a recap of our festivities:

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A friend posted a super cute fruit kabob turkey on her Facebook page and we took on the challenge.

I knew ours would take on a whole new level of freestyle art. They had fun, we ate fruit til it ran out our ears and no one got hurt so….a good time was had by all.

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I made these Pumpkin Crock Pot Cinnamon rolls for the second time and they were delicious and easy.

So here is the recipe. There is a typo of 12 tsp of Baking Soda which would be so awful so I tried to correct with some fancy editing…enjoy

I THINK this is a link to same recipe…https://www.bhg.com/recipe/slow-cooker-pumpkin-cinnamon-rolls/

Our little family of six joined us for brunch on Thanksgiving day and we actually got a picture with all four kiddos and us facing the camera and smiling.

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So much fun and then they headed off to Zach’s family celebration and we rested before having our Covid Buddy friends for dinner.

No pictures, but it was so good…we opted for beef tenderloin this year and let me tell you…I didn’t miss the turkey carcass clean up one bit.

We did, however, manage to overeat … because some traditions are necessary to mark the holiday.

On Saturday we took a good hike at one of the local parks with some friends and it was so beautiful and sunny…again no pictures…take my word for it.

Being outdoors in the last mild days of this season were good for the soul so we talked this party of six into another hike on Sunday…

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They were still long enough for me to snap a picture but this was more how it went down…

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and as we were saying our goodbyes, Little Miss Thing said we needed a picture of the “girls”…

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Best. Day. Ever.

See you tomorrow for the Countdown 2020 style!!!

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