Tag Archives: Advent

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]

CHRISTMAS: GLORIOUS IMPOSSIBLE (9 Days and Counting)

“Possible things are easy to believe. The Glorious Impossibles are what bring joy to our hearts, hope to our lives, songs to our lips.” ~Madeleine L’Engle

After a busy day of putzing here – canoodling there – and just getting a little bit done on each thing on my list, it is nice to just sit – turn off the big lights and sit in the beauty of the Christmas lights. letting the quiet of the night surround me.

We haven’t had a “tree” since our home burned in 2009. It was in September, so our house was still under construction that Christmas. I decorated the basement with a few lights, a tiny fake tree, some garland around the bookcases and windows, and “…it was good”.

Since then, we’ve just fallen into a new tradition. A couple of small “fake” trees (we’re talking 2 feet and under), garland around the windows, a few of nativities, some lighted villages, and the setting for Christmas is complete.

I do miss the smell of pine branches. I miss the brush of the needles through my fingers (since I was little, I’ve always loved running my fingers through the long needles of a white or scotch pine). Most of all, I miss the excitement that getting a “real” tree always seemed to bring with it.

And yet –

The period of Advent always brings that excitement – “real” tree or “fake” tree. Doesn’t matter. Suddenly, the impossibilities of what will come on Christmas Eve still grow in my heart with each day. The joy of watching my loved ones open presents still makes my heart smile. Singing the Christmas songs that I sang as a child and as an adult just curves my lips into this incredibly happy smile – even when the voice cracks or disappears entirely. Best of all, as I gaze at the baby in the manger, hope blooms wildly in my heart.

“Great and marvelous are your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you,
for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”~Rev 15:3-4

His Advent promises are just as true today as they were to Mary and Joseph. For centuries before he came the first time, people debated the prophecies, rolled their eyes, and turned their backs on them. Yet – Mary and Joseph – recognized truth of angels and prophecies in their hearts as “glorious impossible” coming true – not in to a rich family or a grand house surrounded by family – but……in a city far from home – – in a stable – – – with animals – – – -and the dust of the earth blown in their nostrils by the breath of a loving Abba.

A baby in the manger reminds us to continue to believe in those “glorious impossible” because a promise is a promise and a prophecy is truth – even if it doesn’t happen the way we think it might. The truth is – as Advent is here again and as I wait, I get that tingly excitement of hope building up inside of me, and I am jumping up and down, closing my eyes and whispering to My Father that “glorious impossible”:

“Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”~Rev 22:20b       

51a8X0HGR+L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_  [google image]

ADVENT 2017: LOVE #2

“Why is it easier to make Christmas cookies than to make our hearts ready for Christ?”~Ann Voskamp
 
Even being retired, I find I still set myself up to be way too busy before Christmas. Decorating. Christmas crafts. Present seeking. Writing Christmas cards (cards that I started right after Thanksgiving and still am not finished – mostly because I am such a procrastinator) Stockings to finish. Stories to read. Traditions to uphold.
 
And yet – – –
 
These are not the things that prepare my heart to love. In fact – they are the furthest thing from it. These traditions. These crazy things we love to do in this life – have nothing to do with the tiny baby we claim to honor with them. They are things. Things that have nothing to do with the tiny baby that was born in a stinky, dirty stable.
 
It is in our nature to want to be the “wise kings” in life. We want to ride in on our camels or donkeys or fancy horses and chariots. Our embroidered robes flashing our importance. Our jeweled crowns reflecting our wisdom’s rich rewards.
 
And yet – – –
 
I think I am yearning to be something more this year. More than a flask’s aroma of earthly wisdom. A chest filled with rich foods or embroidered cloth. A writ of fancy words. A tree covered in beautiful lights and delicate memories. Or – well crafted stables with perfectly molded people.
 
This year – I just want to be a shepherdess. His shepherdess. A shepherdess out in His field. A shepherdess watching over His sheep. A shepherdess who hopes deep in my heart that I might find that one lost sheep who always seems to wonder off on the darkest, stormiest of nights. A shepherdess alone in His field with His sheep singing His songs.
 
This year – I want to be a shepherdess. A shepherd girl who has ears to hear and eyes to see the impossible. Angels singing songs. Angels bringing messages. Messages that prepare a heart for love. Love beyond all understanding.
 
I want to be that kind of shepherdess. One who brings my dirty, smelly self from long days and nights willingly spent in the field that my Father created. Fields that I – mostly – muddied up by my own vain, foolish attempts to change them or where I lost lambs that He had given to my keeping.
 
That’s who I want to be. A shepherdess whose heart is full of love.
 
Shepherds brought nothing but their hearts to that small, stinking stable. Shepherds believed beyond the power of reason. Shepherds who couldn’t leave their flocks, so they drove them to that same stable where they will bring their pure lambs for the Passover festival. Shepherds who had prepared their hearts long before the angels came.
 
A place where they saw a perfect Lamb.  A Lamb to be judged. A Lamb to be separated out. A Lamb to be sacrificed.
 
That is who I am striving to be as I walk in my Father’s field of life this night A shepherdess in the field of the Lamb who shed His blood for His Father’s people – for His Father’s world. A simple shepherdess who is preparing her heart.
 
“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” Voltaire [google images]shepherdess

Advent Peace #4: Stories of Peace

“Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”~Mitch Albom

Christmas is the time for stories. Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Frosty the Snowman’s corn cob pipe. Santa Claus coming to town. Amahl’s miracle. Mary’s canticle.

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart..”~Lk 2:19

It is her story that wraps around the centuries and brings them into focus through 2 short chapters in Matthew and Luke. When I was little I could almost see Matthew and Luke making their way to Mary’s tiny home in the dark of night. Like us, even though they knew He was with His Father, they wanted that human connection – to touch a woman that had loved Him as much as they did – a joyous memory to carry with them when the world threatened to break them in everyway – a memory to pass on to the children of their children’s children.

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”~Deut 4:9

Tonight, giggles still circle over our home. Christmas decoration from the bounty of our woods. A little pine. A little ivy. A few berries. Red glitter paint. Stories that the neighbor kids and I shared as old hands worked to show younger hands how to wrap words and nature together.

Tonight, I am treasuring and pondering many thoughts. The short creative non-fiction that my friends share everyday on FB, or the longer blogs that former students share their wisdom in ways that brings tears to my eyes. Two dogs that tell stories with their eyes every hour of the day.

But mostly – tonight I am thankful for the story of a young girl who treasured up all things that were necessary to bring peace to people of good will. Words that overide the snarky political memes and comments. Softens the bad news for those who are ill and weary. Lifts the pieces of hearts broken apart by choices. Brings forgiveness to those who weep in loneliness. Lights the way in the dark of night with its peace-filled song.

Stories of Christmas.

Stories of a Mother.

Stories to be taught to our children that they might teach their children and their children’s children and their children’s children………

Stories of the Peace of Advent. [google image]

Advent Peace #1: Sing a New Song

Tonight, after driving home from my daughters’, I made myself a salad and sat down to find a Christmas movie. The movie was to entertain me while I work on the Grands’ Christmas stockings. For whatever reason, my TV remote didn’t log all the numbers correctly and up popped Christmas music that had me sitting back in my chair and ignoring everything else.

Christmas Under The Stars 2016 at BYU was beyond just a seasonal show – it was a blessing.

Michael W. Smith – Amy Grant – Jordan Smith – BYU orchestra and choir – – –

Really? Who could ask for more on the first day of the Peace Advent?

“Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.” — Psalm 96:1

Jewish tradition teaches that when the Messiah establishes his kingdom on the earth, the world will sing a new song. Not only will it sing a new song – there will be a new note added to the musical scale. The note will signify to all Creation that balance has been restored. God, man and all creation will walk in the garden together once again.

As Christians we wait to sing that new song through Christ’s return. A Sovereign LORD bringing peace upon this war-torn earth. A Shepherd who has carried us through those wars – who wrapped his body around us, protecting his lambs from the worst of the arrows – who will continue to carry each of us close to His heart as He returns a peaceful balance to the Garden He created.

As we light the second candle of peace. We remember Christ in His first Advent, and we celebrate the second Advent that is just around the corner. We may not know the specific times, but we know to watch the signs that He taught us during His first Advent.

In his devotions for the 2nd week of Advent, Max Lucado quotes Frederick Buechner: “It is He who made us, and not we ourselves, made us out of His peace to live in peace, out of His light to dwell in light, out of his Love to be above all things loved and loving.” (p161)

As I sang those old carols tonight (and some new ones)– because who can possible watch a show with Christmas songs and not sing along??? – right??? I loved finding my voice again, and the memories those songs brought with them. But oooo…with each turn of the earth, I am getting more excited about singing that new Advent song. And of course – that sets of that crazy pondering latch in my head as I try to imagine exactly what that new note will sound like – ? – hmmmm – will all music then be re=written? – – – was there an 8th note before the fall?? when – – – -????

“O Zion, messenger of good news,
shout from the mountaintops!
Shout it louder, O Jerusalem.b
Shout, and do not be afraid.
Tell the towns of Judah,
“Your God is coming!”
Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in power.
He will rule with a powerful arm.
See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.
He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”~Is 40:9-11 [google image]

#perhapstoday #singanewsong

Advent #3/7: The Rescue Plan

Yea – I survived another year of the stepladder decorating. As you age, sometimes the things you did so easily in years past, takes a little more fore thought. “If I step this way, I don’t have to bend my knee tight, and I can hold on to that – just in case – the ol’ knees starts to buckle…” Those internal dialogues are really a God gift – to those of us who don’t want to say, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

“The LORD is faithful in ALL His promises…”~Ps 145:13b
 
A few ornaments need to be hung here and there, a dozen pine/ivy/yew boughs cut off our trees to drape on the deck, and I can get busy on cards and stockings and presents and baking and singing and …
 
I think I may need to have a Rescue Plan after all – – – in fact, I know I do.
 
Today was a day of observing Rescue Plans that are in progress around our country. Rescue plans implemented in Columbus, OH, at my Alma Mater, The Ohio State University. I felt blessed that my family, former students and friends had policemen close by who knew the Rescue Plan. I’m happy for those in TN and NC whose Rescue Plans put fireman, EMT’s, and policemen on the front lines even as wild fires raced towards their own homes and businesses. I continue to circle prayers for all of those people who are homeless and jobless as we head into the coldest times of the year.
 
It is good that humanity has Rescue Plans in place. It is awesome that God has an even better Rescue Plan. It is what we celebrate this month.
 
In the beginning, when it was clear to humans and to the rest of creation that mankind had just a little trouble resisting temptation, Jehovah-Rohi shepherded in His Rescue Plan.
 
A Rescue Plan physically born of a scared young woman in the corner of a stable stall surrounded by animals, dirt, and smelly remnants – her tear-streaked face betraying a myriad of emotions.
 
A Rescue Plan that included a man with skilled, scarred hands – hands that began to shake as he held a new born son for the first time.
 
A Rescue Plan that reached out to the poorest shepherds, the richest sages, the harlot, the murdering thief, the Jews, the Gentiles, and everyone who would dare to believe the birth of one tiny baby boy was a Rescue Plan.
 
A Rescue Plan that began with the advent of a baby, who would sacrifice everything to conquer death and usher in a later advent where every knee will bow and the Rescue Plan will be complete as we see our Abba face-to-face once more. [google images]

 

Advent 2016 #2/7: The Dare

“The manger dares us to believe the best is yet to be. And it could all begin today.”~Max Lucado (p141)

“Double dare you.”

“Dare to believe…”

“Dare to dream.”

“Dare to believe…”

“Dare not wait.”

“Dare to believe…”

If you were Mary would you “dare to believe” that the same loving Abba who sent an angel to speak to you; who asked you to endure gossip, hatred, banishment, even the threat of stoning, would ask of you to give birth in a smelly stable?

“Dare to believe..”

If you were Joseph, would you “dare to believe” that the same Jehovah-Jireh who sent an angel in a dream to call this child His own, would provide such a place for His son to be born?

“Dare to believe…”

If you were the shepherds would you “dare to believe” that a holy child of God was lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and parents who looked like you?

“Dare to believe…”

If you were wise men would you “dare to believe” that this is child lying in the manger was truly worthy of your fine gifts?

It is as if God went out of His way to “dare them to believe”. He didn’t want them to believe this was His son based on their physical senses or the reality of their everyday lives. Instead – He gave them signs in the heavens and dared them to have faith when they got there.

“Dare to believe…”

Elohim is still doing that. He is giving us signs in the WORD, the heavens and through His prophets, but He also continues to ask us to have faith when we get there if it doesn’t look like we think it should. Our physical senses may be offended – the world view of our reality may shout at us that we are idiots – but it is through our faith dare that we will see beyond the manger and see the Son of the Most High cooing a blessing.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and she wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”~Lk 2:7

It is my HOPE in this first week of Advent that we all “Dare to Believe”.

Because of Christmas #12: Stuff

I keep promising myself that I will get rid of more stuff. Then I pick it up to put it in the give away/sell it pile, and I think of all the times I have worn it – or the sentiments attached to it – or uses for it – or future uses for it. And just like that – I cave. Who does that? Who knew you could have way too much stuff after you have downsized 3 times – – – but there you go. ME!

Maybe it IS me. Maybe it’s not so much the “stuff” – but me. There’s a part of me that loves stuff and loves to buy stuff – especially Christmas stuff. As I walk around our quirky home tonight, I look at our little trees spread around the house. There are 3, and I love the simplicity of how they look at this minute. Copper wire tiny lights. A lit snowman that was my nightlight when I was a child. An angel or two. Three totally different creches.

But wait – there’s more. The Christmas houses have found their home in the kitchen. There is a couple pine garlands that still are waiting in the boxes that I want to hang. But after that??? I may just call it good and stuff the “stuff”.

“God became one of us so we could become one with Him.”~Max Lucado (p135)

God didn’t do “stuff” when He sent his son to earth. I think He probably went a step below being a minimalist when it came to His son’s birth. A stable? If I was quoting my Grands, I would add the word, “Seriously?” (Lately, they attach that word to many sentences.)

God choose not to do the “stuff”. He wanted it to be about His son becoming one with us. Maybe that is where I am at this year. I, too, want it to be about His son. Yet a part of me knows that as we begin to celebrate this first Advent of Christ, it is exciting to know we are living in the times of the Second Advent of Christ. And I just have this feeling that this time, God is going to do “STUFF”!`

Hmmm….there you go…a reason to keep doing “stuff”. Join with me and sing, “Deck the halls with boughs of holly…”

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.”~1 Thes 4:16 [google images]

Because of Christmas #11: HopeTree

“You, me, and the Christmas tree. Picked purchased, and pruned. Trust God’s work.”~Max Lucado (p127)
 
Advent begins tomorrow. The annunciation was only the beginning – – – the beginning of hope. The trees of the garden have been locked away for so long because of our poor choices. Is it any wonder that salvation came wrapped – in so many ways – in the cloak of a tree?
 
“Who Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having been dead to sins, we might live to righteousness…” ~1Peter 2:24a
 
Hope.
 
It is the reason we cry during those sappy Christmas movies. The reason we want to pull the tree out of the attic before Thanksgiving. The reason we can halfway stand the pain when a loved one leaves this temporal plane. The reason that everyone feels like singing “O Christmas Tree” even if they can’t carry a tune in a a tree-holding bucket.
 
A Tree of Hope.
 
Today, I managed to get one of my Christmas trees in place. Now don’t get too excited. My trees are of the 3 foot variety, and they sit in Rubbermaid containers most of the year. There are no ornaments on it tonight. There are no presents beneath it’s branches. For tonight, my Grandma Mac’s creche sits beneath it and my version of the annunciation angel and heavenly lights are its only decoration. It won’t stay that way, but for tonight, it is perfect and I am content.
 
“And having looked up, he [the blind man]was saying, “I see the men, for I see them as trees walking.” ~Mk 8:24
 
Sometimes – we see ourselves as that mighty oak tree in the middle of a field. Strong. Resilient. But often -we become too hard, Grow too tall, Don’t sink our roots deep enough. Allowing the swirling winds of this world to whip us this way and that. Letting the storms of life rip our leaves, fruit and sometimes – even the limbs off our trunk. It is only after we recognize the new Tree of Life -you know – the one that the Father sent to save us from ourselves – that our “blind” eyes are finally opened. In His light we can become the sapling that we were always meant to be so that we might bare more hope-filled fruit for those around us.
 
Because of Christmas – we have the Hope Tree. 
[google image]

Because of Christmas #1: Quinky Dink

Several weeks ago, I bought a book. Nothing new there. Hubby has this tendency to pull me a little faster and in another direction if he sees a bookstore before I do. What can I say? I can get lost in a bookstore – not to mention – spend more than a few of those hard earned dollars when I finally find my way to the door.
The book was the new Max Lucado book, Because pf Bethlehem. No surprise there either because I love reading his books. This is one author who tells a story almost as well as I think Rabbi Yeshua must have told his. Did you ever get the feeling that none of Christ’s followers fell asleep listening to his sermons?
“The people who are walking in darkness Have seen a great light, Dwellers in a land of death-shade, Light hath shone upon them.”~Is 9:2download
So much for staying on topic. Where was I? Oh yes, I bought the book. It had a pretty red Christmas tree on the front of it, so I figured after the ugly reality these past few months, I needed a book that would speak faith, hope and love (1 Cor 13:13)a little louder in my earthly ears. It worked.
Eyes blink. Quinky-dink. God wink moment hits.
Guess how many chapters that book has? 12
Guess how many days there are before Advent begins? 12
Guess who is reading a new book for the next 12 days – yupper – THIS GIRL!
When I got up this morning, I wasn’t sure what I direction the day was going to take. There are Christmas presents to make, Christmas cards to work on (since no one has our new address, I really need to send them early) Christmas stockings to embroider, plants to move and replant, dogs to play with, piano to play, books to read, writing to do, grocery shopping – – – however, if I am wise, I enter my war room and start the day right by opening His WORD.
It gives me direction. It reminds me that my Father made me and breathed into my nostrils the breath of life. That His name is Immanuel, ‘God with us’. His WORD echoes his presence by reminding us that He sent his Son; a Son who breathed the same air we breath…walked the rocky paths and stubbed His toes like all of us…loved creation enough to bare the sins of the world that we might have Grace…loves us still by promising to return for us.
It is November 16th, and I’m so thankful for a light in the darkness, a new journey with Immanuel. Can’t wait to see what the light illuminates a long the way.549463691_1280x720