Monthly Archives: December 2019

2020 VISION

It is the 5th day of Christmas. It is the last day of Hanukkah. It is two days until New Years Eve. My windows and doors are still open. There will probably be a fan in my window tonight – – – and at 10 o’clock at night – – it is still in the sixties!

“Hey buds below … up is where to grow
Up with which below can’t compare with.
Hurry – it’s lovely up here …”

I have been outside everyday since Christmas singing this song. Can’t help it when daffodils are popping up in a couple gardens, and green shoots are everywhere. Took all I had in me, not to clear away the leaf barriers that will protect the roots/shoots when winter remembers her blustery self and breathes on us some of that stuff that makes us remember why we like spring.

“Life down a hole takes an awful toll,
What with not a soul there to share with,
Hurry – it’s lovely up here!”

Cleaned a new path in the woods. Dug a couple trenches for drainage and to hold wooden borders. (Our one lab girl would dig to China the gardens didn’t have something to keep her out of them). Cleaned dead things out of the gardens.Hauled 4 wheelbarrows of mulch to remove more of the temptation for said lab girl. Straightened patio steps – a little. (I’m not too good at that, but helped it a little). Created new artwork and watched “Eloise” with the Grands as we munched on popcorn, washed down with root beer floats.

“And what a gift package of showers, sun and love
You’ll be met above everywhere with…Hurry – it’s lovely up here!”

To say I am tired and the arthritis aggravated is probably an understatement, but that is why I have my prayer closets, comfy bed, physical therapy exercises and an inversion board, right?

“Thou dost keep them in perfect peace, whose minds are stayed on Thee, because they trusts in Thee. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting Rock.”~Is 26:3-4

I have to admit, the last two weeks leading into Christmas were filled with little anxiety. The last six months – from the 24th to the 24th – have been the hardest challenge in my faith walk. Evenso – blessing after blessing cushioned each step. New promises appeared daily to dry each tear. Friends – far and near rallied round with prayers and thoughtful words. And each night, His wings covered me with His peace. I shouldn’t have been surprised that Christmas was no different – in fact – it was one of the ones I will stash away with other special holy times in my life.

Times spent in His presence: As a 7 year old on a sunny day, lying under an oak tree as the Son appeared between the leaves. A teenage Christmas Eve communion service in an upper room. January 4,1971, when my father held me extra long before I returned to college, and the following Saturday when I got the phone call that he had gone to the room prepared just for him. A few years later, lying on my bed in a small apartment watching the sun set as tears of repentance brought me to my knees once again. A Christmas Eve surprise trip home that brought me a son and a new life journey. Standing at the back of the church on another early January night by myself before I got married. The birth of three blessings in fairly rapid succession but always perfectly timed by Him. My mother’s smile at the corner of the room as she squeezed my hand one last time before she went to dance with daddy.

It IS lovely here.

Hopefully, like me, not all my flowers and bushes will be too stressed out when the cold weather does return. Cold weather and darkness hits each of us at one time or another. Bittersweet days threaten to smother us with the bitter memories, but – that is when His promises – if we remember – pull His wings tightly about us and the aroma of sweetness lifts us into His perfect peace.

Early January memories are coming, but His peace is constant when we are tethered to His Word. His rock solid promises continue to line our paths and support our feet on this new path in the woods. Personally, I can’t wait to open my eyes in 2020 to see what is behind that door.

Best of all – my 2020 vision – get it? – 2020 vision??? Anyway, my 2020 vision is about to see all the possibilities that He has promised. GOD is good – all the time. All the time – GOD IS GOOD. 

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ADVENT #21 2019

Winter Solstice.

What can I say? I love, love, love the shortest day of the year. I can turn on the Christmas lights earlier in the day. I only had to walk the spoiled labs girls 3 times instead of 4 or 5 – after all – once it is dark, they curl into their favorite spots and start to snore. (I can barely get them outside to do their business before I go to bed.) And best yet – – – hope flies up out of the pit of my stomach shouting: “Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow – darkness starts to lose it’s hold on the world.”

Gotta love it when Light puts her dainty, little foot down, and darkness starts whining as she drags her big, clod-hopper feet backwards.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”~Jn1:5

It was one of those busy days that wasn’t the one I planned, but exactly the one I needed. The lab girls and I worked outside – well – I worked while they sat exactly in my way, dropping the ball and begging for me to throw it one more time. Wrapped presents – one of my dreaded Christmas chore. I am not the world’s greatest wrapper. I get impatient and want to bang my head against the nearest wall most of the time. I think next year, everyone gets a beautifully decorated bagged gift instead. Thus, to regain my peace, I grabbed on of my older Christmas books and sat down by the gas logs. This book, read so often, it’s outside binding has lost its color and outer shell of protection. Published in 1937, Home for Christmas by Lloyd C. Douglas is the story about a grown family that decides to reunite in their childhood home sans spouses and offspring to spend one more Christmas as they did as children.

Your homes too, as I remember them, were similarly blest by the uninquiring confidence of parents to whom faith was the substance of their dearest hopes and sufficient evidence of things unseen.”~p.104

Towards the end, Douglas, who wrote The Robe, Magnificent Obsession, The Big Fisherman (to name a few), hit the premise of this tiny book.We all just need to come home. Come home to the heart of Christmas. It seems to me – and even Douglas in 1937 – as if the bustle of our technologically savvy world, a gazillion choices of anything we think we desire, and the bright disco ball of colors dazzling and blinding our eyes in this world in which we live, we tend to gloss over or stray a little farther from the real “Home” of Christmas.

“…if all the great musical composers were met in conclave to decide which of all the immortal songs had stirred mankind to its best endeavors, they would unanimously vote for the anthem of peace chanted one night above the Plains of Bethlehem…”p.105

As always, Douglas hits my spiritual sweet spot. It is why I have kept several of his books sitting on my bookshelves since high school. In my retirement move to the South, I purged a majority of my personal library; however, Douglas was one of those writers that traveled South with me. Wisdom comes in many ways – even in books written long ago.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”~Jn1:1

A friend and I were talking about all the theories surrounding the birth of Christ. The date (December or Nissan 1 or Feast of Tabernacles) – the place (a cave or a stable or a family room that animals shared in the typical Jewish home) – why Our Father chose the richest and the poorest to pay tribute to a baby born in Bethlehem – swaddling clothes richly embroidered rather than rags…….details that are fun to debate, but when it comes down to it, but just that – physical pinpoints of our world. What we really need is to go to the eternal heart of it all –
the “Home” of Christmas –
a tiny baby named Yeshua –
Whose name means “He who saves”.

“He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life,and the life was the light of men”~Jn1:2-4

3 more days till I need to be Home for Christmas. 323449537558 [Google images]

ADVENT #19 2019

“He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him bend!”

There are wonderful things that happen when a lot of odd ingredients are mixed together in one bowl and produce a dessert that is way too sweet on such a ….. “O Holy Night”. Unbelievable singers sharing Christ-mass music. Christ-mass lights twinkling in every room. A kitty curled on the arm of the chair. Puppies stretched out under the feet. Devotions that just seemed to hit the sweet spot. Yum!

“Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;”

Didn’t watch the news. Didn’t mess around on the computer. Instead – I played with some rocks, seashells, glitter, and candles while I listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Kristin Chenoweth. Earlier, as I was looking for something else – I found my dad’s journal from his time in China during WWII. He only wrote a few entries. But from the moment I opened it and saw his handwriting, I could hear his voice and feel the love he always showed his family.

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,”

The journal must have been passed out as a Christmas/New Year gift to new units arriving in China in 1946. It had facts about The Republic of China. The National Anthem. Monetary conversion charts. Key phrases for a soldier – written in Chinese – just in case needed. I was impressed when I found the map key he had made so that he would remember the notations on the small yearly calendar in the front of the journal.

74 years ago, my daddy was on a ship – a BIG ship – being socked with 40 foot waves at some points, heading for a far away country with people, animals and sights that he couldn’t begin to imagine. He was on that ship for 5 weeks according to his notations. He spent Christ-mass far away from his wife and little boy. He didn’t get Christ-mass cards or letters until February 1946. Just a small town fellow heading into the giant world of the unknown. Hard to imagine in our days of instant communication, isn’t it?

“Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!”

Don’t know why I happened upon this particular Christmas special on TV or why I found Dad’s journal just before I sat down. Don’t know why I never read Daddy’s tiny book before now. Don’t know why I decided to make some last minute gifts of Light. But as I read – and as the Christ-mass music circled around, the devotionals blended into this mixture thoughts and feelings as His presence filled this small home with His peace and grace. I have a feeling that I will continue to ponder all of these things until I tuck myself into bed and commend my soul into His keeping before I close my eyes to sleep.

“Christ is the Lord, then ever! ever praise we!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!”

Some nights are just like that. Nights that make you cry – then smile – then pull out the treasure chest of memories to feel blessed beyond measure. Peace reigns and Christ-mass is only a few days off. Time to:
“…Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.”

BTW – Kristin Chenoweth’s gowns are beyond classy and fabulous if you get a chance to watch this special. They are almost as gorgeous as her voice – especially when she sings “Mary, Did You Know?” or “O Holy Night”. And like me, she thinks Sandi Patti is pretty cool.  How about that? 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”~Is 55:8-9  large960_blur-5a5a26143a23b1ba57e9d591bb21fdbb

https://oklahoman.com/article/5649803/video-pbs-special-christmas-with-the-tabernacle-choir-featuring-kristin-chenoweth-airing-monday

ADVENT #17 2019

“A smile is laughter’s whisper and has its roots in the soul.”~ Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

After my dad had his first heart attack, we stuck pretty close to home for the rest of the summer. There were only 3 stations on the TV. No computer or phone to mess with while sitting in an ‘easy’ chair. But there were lots of things that were so much better – conversations with family and friends dropping in (and they always brought good food to eat since mom didn’t like to cook), tons of books, newspapers and magazines shared, not to mention – music of all kinds – via friends bringing their instruments, radio, and records playing on the stereo. Smiles were everywhere in that stormy time of life.

Storms in life bring changes.

Tonight, instead of banging my head against a wall, I went searching for a Catholic mass on TV. I’m not Catholic, but when the chaos of my world tries to blow out my candle light, I need to close my eyes and let my soul fall into the cadence of songs and traditions of worship that have been passed down through the ages. It is there – in that place – between breathing in [Yah] and breathing out [Weh] – when I remember His presence is never gone; It is in that breath where His voice is never silent; His light never cloaked – – – it’s just me that has forgotten to breathe. So easy to inhale deeply and enter His presence with Thanksgiving.

“Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.” Ibid

After the mass, a priest asked for prayers for the canonization of Bishop Sheen which in turn was God’s wink at me tonight. I could see me sitting on the floor, leaning against my dad’s leg, listening to mom sing in the other room, and watching to Bishop Sheen on TV. Sometimes, Dad would nudge me with his knee if Bishop Sheen said something I should remember – or something that made him laugh. Dad was intentionally making his own weather in the storm that had changed his life, and as he did so, he was teaching me to color my own skies when the storms buffet my horizon and threaten that Light that is within all of us.

Most years, the holy-days season brings such joy, but occasionally those storms of everyday life overlap and darken the horizon whether we want it to or not. This is one of those years of me. But if there is one thing I learned at my father’s knee, it is this – that I can color the skies of my emotional universe and be thankful to the One who waits for me between breaths.

One of my favorite teacher/preachers likes to say: “I do not live by sight, hearing, or feelings, but instead, by every word breathed by the mouth of GOD”. I like that – A LOT. When the skies darken, it is my mantra, and then I repeat the Ps 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

A week from tonight, Advent calendars will be completely done for 2019. Kids will be squirming with excitement and straining to hear a sound of bells in the distance. Churches will be bathed in candle light. And last of all, stockings will be hung by the chimney with care. But for some of us, the storm clouds are overhead, and  choices need be made. So as for me, I choose to breathe. Breathe deeply and find that place between breaths to remember. No matter what chaos may be swirling, Christ-mass is one of my favorite times of the year. And if I remember to stand, look up, I can rejoice to see a sky colored by many, many treasure chests full of memories of joy and love and most of all – the grace of a newborn baby’s cry.

“Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”~Is 9:6-7 mom's nativity 1940's [personal image]