Thursday, December 24, 2009

Prince of Peace

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4


"Peace will guard your hearts and your minds."


Sometimes I feel like my heart and mind are at war. War....and definitely not peace. My mind is screaming things at me all the time.

"What will they think if you do or don't-----?"

"You're not good enough."

"You're not smart enough."

"Failure."

"You have to ---------or all will fall apart."



The blanks could be filled in with anything. I have plenty to fill them with. Sometimes I fill them with the same things over and over again. You'd think I'd learn, but my mind won't let me.



My heart aches and whispers things between the tirades of my mind.



"What is more important?"

"You know the right thing to do."

"You are beautiful."

"Will this matter a year from now?"

"What you do makes a difference and matters."

"God loves you and desires to know you."



So the battle rages on.

I really want the battle to cease---the stress and anxiety to just go away.

I think there are many more people who feel stressful and anxious, but never admit it or say it out loud because that in and of itself is admitting some sort of failure and weakness. Then one risks people shaking their heads with pity and thinking....."what a shame....I thought she had it all together." In all honesty, people probably would be thinking...."I am so glad to know that she is human, too.....I thought it was only me that couldn't get my act together."
The father of lies wants us to believe that we are a failure. Or, better yet, he wants us to believe that what he wants us to do IS important and better than what God wants. God's way is almost always atypical of the world's pattern. Satan wants us to feel inadequate and incapable of holding it together between work, family, and especially church! The Prince of Peace wants us to realize our inadequacies and our shortcomings and embrace them as opportunities to fill us with his love and peace. Many self-help "experts" and life/motivational coaches preach that we all have everything within ourselves to be an extraordinary person. Doesn't that sound inspiring and eloquent? No! Truthfully, it makes me sad and know that there is NO WAY that I could ever have what it takes to be extraordinary. I am nothing.....nothing without the saving grace of Jesus. It is Christ and Christ alone that will bring me to fulfill my potential...the potential that God created me for.
Peace. Maybe the true peace of Christ will brighten the corner where I live in 2010. I am responsible for what God entrusts to me. Relying on His strength, His guidance, and His peace will empower me to take care of business.....His business.
Raise my children....
Teach them....
Love them....
Care for my husband...
And sit at my Lord's feet.....

And breath in the fragrance of love.....

And peace.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Perfect Christmas

What is your idea of a perfect Christmas?
Have you ever had one?

I am dreaming of a perfect Christmas. In my imagination this is what I find...

The only Christmas programs that we do are ones that minister to people who are less fortunate than most. Simple programs for those who need the love of Jesus and the GOOD NEWS of his coming are the kind that really make me happy. I've put on a lot of programs this season, and the one that has blessed ME the most was one for a room full of elderly people---some alert, some not, but all heard the sounds of Jesus' love through music, and also had great conversations, hugs and gifts from teenagers. It was a beautiful thing to see the gap closed between those generations.

Another piece to my "perfect" Christmas would be time. Time to spend teaching my children about GIVING. Not just giving gifts to family and friends, but giving to others. Thinking about others and what they need or what would really lift their spirits. I would love time to spend planning out blessings for others.

Then there is baking! Oh how I would love to bake at Christmas. There are so many wonderful recipes I want to try! But alas....I'm too tired at night to see them through. And the weekends....well they are so filled up with ACTIVITIES and PROGRAMS that we are rushing from one thing to another and there is no time to stay home and bake.

Parties! Oh how I love parties! But, sadly I haven't been to one this year. That's just sad, isn't it? I would even love to host a party! I love those cookie exchanges where you come with two dozen and leave with two dozen. I remember attending one when my girls were very little and I wasn't doing all these other things. My husband kept the girls and I attended the cookie exchange with cookies that I had baked. Oh how much fun that was! I've heard of a lot of those this season, but I guess I won't be attending any of those this year. After a while, people quit inviting you because they know you can't come.

Decorating! I've always wanted to put up lights on the outside of my house. Maybe someday I'll get around to that!

I just don't know how to change things. But next year, maybe by taking one thing at a time, I can do some of the things on my "perfect Christmas" list. Maybe next year my family can attend some things together instead of all being in different places.

The season often passes me by until it's Christmas Eve. In reality Christmas doesn't BEGIN until Christmas day. Maybe I can start having my perfect Christmas on Christmas day and in the real 12 days of Christmas after.

Until then, I'm strapping on my seat belt and trying to finish the roller coaster ride. Six more days of it to go! Then....maybe I'll do a little baking.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

You Who are Highly Favored

"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." ~Luke 1:26-33

You have found favor with God.

I wonder what she must have been like for God to have smiled upon Mary and blessed her as "highly favored"? Her heart must have been pure, selfless and innocent. I want to find favor with God. Oh how I must fall short in His eyes.

Lord, draw me closer to You. Break me and mold me into a vessel suitable for Your glory and purpose.
I long to find favor in Your eyes. I long for You to smile upon me. I want only to glorify You. Only to bring you joy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Spoiled Fruit?

I peeked into my fruit basket today. My "spiritual" fruit basket that is. I have been noticing some brown spots on some of my "fruits". Two have been smelling quite unpleasant lately.



"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."





Patience and gentleness.....two characteristics that I long so desperately to have, give me so much trouble. I want to be patient. I hear mothers around me who are so soft-spoken. They speak so lovingly to their children. I often wonder if they are always this way, or just in public. Regardless, I want to be that way. Truth be told, if my children were asked to give a specific example of someone who showed patience with them I probably wouldn't make the short list. Oh I feel like I'm patient. Otherwise, I would blow a gasket after the tenth time of telling them to hang up their bath towel, or after reminding them five times to finish a chore. If I weren't patient, I would send them to bed without supper for their attitudes or lack of responsibility.

But in all honesty, while I'm being "patient" in my mind with them, I'm not being gentle.

It makes me quite sad when I think about it.



When I think of my Heavenly Father, I have such peace in my heart when I come into His presence. No matter how bad things are, how sinful I have been, how much I need to repent....I still have peace knowing I am coming into the arms of my loving Heavenly Father who shows me patience like NO OTHER. If I received the response that I deserve, He would turn away and refuse my pitiful act of repentance. He would never shine His face on me again.



But thankfully, He is always faithful, always forgives, and is always there to listen and comfort me.....even when I am far from deserving.



I want to please my Heavenly Father much like my children want to please me. My lack of gentleness must be ugly at times. In 1 Peter it says: "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. " I want to be beautiful in God's sight. I want Him to smile on me.



So I am going to try and polish these fruits and make them beautiful in God's sight.

It makes me nervous, I do admit. Anytime you work hard to be what God wants you to be, you will be tested and tried. So the phrase, "You are trying my patience" will ring loudly over the next few days and weeks I'm sure. I pray that I will be gentle in my answers and my reactions to others. I pray for the patience of Christ.



Thank you, Lord for your gentleness and your patience with me.
I truly adore You and want to be beautiful in your eyes.

Give me the strength to love others the way the You love me......patiently and gently.



Gentleness
Active gentleness


Marks the man who walks with God.

Not from weakness,

But out of goodness,

He restrains himself.

He will not wound the weakened one,

But sets the broken bones

And heals the battered soul.

He speaks the truth

Not to gossip, nor to destroy.

He speaks the truth

To combat lies.

The Holy Spirit flows through him--

Gently, strongly,

For God and for others,

A river of glorious grace. ~Unknown

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stop the ride!!!! I want off!!!!

When I was a little girl (and even into my middle school years) I loved to go to the park. We had a public park in the center of one of the neighborhoods about a mile from my house and right around the corner from an elementary school. There were rocking horses on huge springs, slides, swings---and the best merry-go-round. Now, the space has been totally renovated and mulched. In it's place stands a very expensive, "up to code and safety standards" park. It's very nice and very "kid-friendly".....but I miss the simple rides....the ones made of metal that would take the skin right off your hands on a hot summer day in Florida...the slide--so hot it made you scream in pain because no matter how hard you tried to go down WITHOUT your legs touching---they always did. But boy......did that slide make you FLY!



The merry-go-found was my favorite. It wasn't huge. It was quite rusty in places and it squeaked....but man would it go fast.....especially when one of my friends would spin me around. I remember hanging my head off looking upside down to see how long I could do it without getting sick. I remember hanging on for dear life. I remember the dreaded feeling of needing to get off and nobody would slow it down or stop it! You either had to stick it out or jump! That was always a shock to the body. You are spinning at a high rate of speed and all of the sudden........SPLAT! You land on the ground licking your wounds....all the while not being able to stand or focus because the world was still spinning. And the laughter! Ah....the giggles and belly laughs from that adrenaline rush were priceless.



That merry-go-round reminds me of Christmas. We jump on the merry-go-round and it spins faster and faster.....the purpose and meaning become a blur. We try to focus on the true meaning of this significant celebration.......all the while hanging on for dear life. The faster we spin, the blurrier our focal point becomes. Pretty soon, we accept our fate and hang on and try to enjoy the ride. Sometimes we often try to the make the best of it by "refocusing" the true meaning and blending it into our wild ride. We fit as many Christ-centered events into 25 days as we possibly can in the name of celebrating. We say over and over again that the true meaning of Christmas is more important than anything else we are doing.

Here is a phrase that has been resonating in my heart lately:

"Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright."

I know......"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.' " Luke 2:13-14 I know that kings---and all their entourage---came to worship the Christ child. I know there was a stir. But for some reason, our hustle and bustle doesn't always fall into the same category as the stir that happened in the wake of Jesus' birth.

Sometimes it isn't until Christmas Day or after that we jump off the merry-go-round. And when we do finally jump.....the impact from the fall is often quite harsh. Too tired to have any fun. Too tired to worship. Too tired to think about letting "every heart prepare HIM room".
If we are to prepare HIM room, we are going to have to clean out the junk, the wrappings and the noise. If our merry-go-round is spinning so fast, how do we slow it down to let Him on? Does He want to get on? I don't think so. I think He wants to "walk with me and talk with me" in the garden. It's there in the garden that I can focus, see and hear Him. He isn't a blur.

All is calm.

All is bright.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Now I Pray Myself To Sleep

Now I lay me down to sleep
But sleep won't come and time just creeps.

My mind is busy
It just won't rest
Tomorrow, I shall not be at my best.

I forgot a task.
It did not get done.
So my mind works through it without the sun.

Tomorrow will come
It will not wait.
A night without sleep shall be my fate.

I pray for friends
I plan my week
I pace the floor, then rest I seek.

Lord, Jesus calm my spinning mind.
Slow it down so rest I'll find.

Thank you, Lord for time with You,
When sleep won't come,
I'll rest in You.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Forgettable?

I recently spent some time with someone I considered a pretty good friend of mine. We talked for quite some time about many things, getting to know one another a bit better. It was a delightful conversation. I learned so many things about this person and enjoyed listening. I left my time with them refreshed. Over the course of several days after, I would have other opportunities to sit down and talk with this person. I noticed, though that every time we would talk, they would tell me the same things they had already shared with me as if they were new. They also asked me questions about myself that I had already shared with them in our previous time together. I left my time with this friend wondering if I was a forgettable person. They remembered nothing. NOTHING about me. I hate to admit it, but I was crushed.



Am I that plain? Are my facial features so common and plain that people don't remember me? Is my personality so colorless that I just bleed into the walls around me? I have to admit, I am beginning to wonder. This isn't the first time this has happened. Come to think of it, it happens more than I really would like to admit. I guess the thing that hurts the most is that I remember. I remember things that people tell me most of the time. I genuinely care and want to remember things about others. Yes, I forget things, and I know I'm guilty of forgetting things others have shared with me also, but this was blatantly staring me in the face as something that I've noticed quite a bit lately. I took my concerns to the Lord and He reminded me like only the Creator can:



Psalm 139
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me

were written in your book before one of them came to be.



I was also burdened with the realization that I am guilty of the very thing that crushed my spirit. Do I passively read God's word? Do I listen half-hearted to His teachings? Do I listen with the intent to remember and NEVER FORGET? How often I fall short of listening, remembering and writing on my own heart the things that God wants me to know about Him.

I fall so short. I wonder if it crushes His heart when I do not listen and remember.
The psalmist goes on to say this:
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

How precious are His thoughts to me? Am I listening to Him tell me all the wonderful things about Him? Are they so precious to me that I remember and long to hear more?


Lord, thank you for loving me and KNOWING me. Thank you for the comfort that it brings knowing that You know EVERYTHING about me. Help me to seek after You to KNOW you and remember everything about You. And maybe in the deepening of my relationship with You, the characteristics and features of my soul that reflect You will stick with others around me and I will be UNforgettable because others will see YOU so vividly through me.





Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dig me a hole and let me crawl in it and never come out...

They ascended upon me as got out of the car.
My keys were handed over to them for "inspection" of my long time friend.
I was whisked into a holding room.....(well....it was really a cubicle)...and asked if I'd like anything to drink. Was this my final meal before execution? And then the hand-offs began.
I was watched and prepped by a "trainee" who referred to herself as the "product expert".
After realizing she did not have a clue what she was doing, I asked her how long she'd been on the job. Two weeks. Yes, I can see how she would be an expert, can't you? She fumbled through some papers and the computer screen, constantly shuffling the papers....obvious she didn't know what she was looking for. After what seemed like an hour, I was handed off to another "manager" who was helping out the person who had met me at my car. He was apparently "busy" and needed lots of helpers. It takes a lot of people to help someone be able to stand in the middle of a large showroom and do nothing. This new person proceeded to ask me questions that all had to be answered with numbers:





1. spouse's date of birth


2. salary


3. social security


4. work telephone number


5. insurance policy number


6. how many miles on your car


7. how many years do you plan to keep your new car


8. how many miles do you plan to drive said new car in a year


9. my date of birth


10. salary


11......get the picture????? AHHHHHHHHHH!





Well, my head started spinning.....my vision blurred....my heart began to race.....my palms started sweating.....





Was I having an......anxiety attack???? (Get a hold of yourself, woman!)

After this person got through leading me down a path of total confusion, I was given the news that the long time friend I'd dropped off upon arrival was in "fair condition"............FAIR CONDITION??? I wouldn't go that far!!!! Sure....... she had some cosmetic issues and needed a little repair.....but don't we all? I wouldn't say that I'm in "fair condition". I was offended.



I picked up the cell phone and called my husband who was at work............WORK! Is work more important than keeping me from drowning in the sea of ignorance? I called and broke the news that our friend was in "fair condition". I returned to the holding room (the cubicle) and told the man that my husband was on the phone. I began listening to their exchange and then the truth came out. Not only were they listing our friend in "fair condition", but her value was even less, simply because her parent company is now financially unstable and has "taken a turn for the worse" in their business. And this is my fault?? And so I pay the cost for their downward spiral? ---sigh---I took good care of my old friend and what did it get me??? Not much.

Well, at this point I am HANDED OFF.....yet again. I was to wait for the next available team member to tell me how "lucky" I was that they were giving me such a great deal. Time seemed to creep. Then.....I spotted them. They were rounding the corner with folders in their hands, dark suits, cufflinks, "clicky shoes", and the look of starved animals on their faces. My heart began racing again, and the room started to spin.

(Concentrate. Focus. GET ME OUT OF HERE)

I was told that they were working as a team today for cross-training purposes. Man A stood against the wall silently observing. Man B sat across the table from me and started his statements and questions.





"How many miles will you put on this car in a year, m'am." (stare)


How am I to know? I can't see the future. Is it any of his business? Quick....try to divide the number of miles on my long time friend by her age....wait.....how old is she? How many miles were on it? carry the 1, subtract.......AHHHHHHHHHHHG!





"If you or your husband become ill or incapable of paying for this vehicle, how will you make the payments?" (stare)


Ill? Unable to make the payments? I DON'T KNOW!!!! "I'll let my husband worry about that." (I laughed...they didn't")





"How long do you plan on keeping this vehicle, m'am?"


"Until it quits!" (I laughed, they didnt. They stared at one another.)





Where is the "wining and dining" I should have been treated to? I'm giving them my business for goodness sake!





Then they told me they were ready for me........Ready for me? I was finally taken to the room.


The room where I would have to negotiate the payment process. (panic......I can't breathe....I just want to run out the back door and go home.....but wait! I have NO CAR!!!!!! It's gone. Poof. Disappeared!)

So I did what any smart, intelligent, (anxiety stricken, palm-sweating) woman would do! I called my husband and sat the phone down right there on the desk and said, "My husband is on the phone....make sure you speak loudly enough that he can hear you, too."

At this point it all becomes a blur. All I really remember is my husband said, "We'll finance it elsewhere." Then they shook my hand and said it was nice to do business with me. They gave me a loaner until my car was ready to be picked up.

It felt strange driving away in a little bitty car to pick up my children. Then we headed back to pick up the new vehicle. Now that it's all over, I can honestly say that

I WILL NEVER DO THAT ALONE AGAIN.

I went to bed exhausted......physically, mentally, emotionally....and numbers were swimming in my head....which was about to explode from a headache caused by the people who acted as if I were on trial.

So I will drive this new car until it quits.




Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Purity (Spiritual Diet Pt2) www.twiggtales.blogspot.com


I've been thinking about purity. I have two beautiful daughters and I pray for their purity often. They are still very young and I want to protect them from the negative influence of the world as long as possible. God has been speaking to my heart a lot lately about purity. He has been showing me how purity is so much more than physical.



Psalm 24:4 says:

"Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ? Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God
his Savior."


When we are saved we are purified before Christ. Our sins are washed clean. This purification must be a daily act of obedience.

I pray for my daughters to remain pure and to save themselves for their future mate. What a beautiful gift. But purity has to start in the heart. It should be something we strive for in all areas of our lives. There are so many ways in which all of us should strive for purity.

I've been thinking about all the ways the world influences us that can lessen our purity. One time I was talking about this and someone said, "Yeah. But we can't escape it. It's all around us and is going to influence us one way or another. We just have to do our best and choose our battles." That's exactly what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to come to a realization that we will have to make concessions to society because it isn't going to get any better....so we do.....one small thing at a time, until we are so sucked into "the norm" of society that we begin believing that it's okay.

The struggle is huge. How do we survive in a world that is so media driven. Do we remove the television from our home? There has to be a balance. So we resolve to do better and get a handle on things. We limit the TV time, we pay close attention to the shows and make wise choices, we limit computer time, etc...and then life takes over and we start slipping. Just one time watching that show won't hurt them. The kids say, "We know that they are disrespectful at times to their parents and we promise that we won't talk that way even though they do." What???? I have actually fallen for that line before, I'm ashamed to say. I thought, "Wow, they are getting it." Sadly their parents weren't at that moment. Anything to get 30 minutes of time to cook dinner or get some things done...even just 30 minutes to take a nap.

Television, movies, books, computer, words, conversation, activity choices, and music! The list is endless. More and more my children's friends are listening and watching and mine wonder why we don't want them to. They constantly ask "what's wrong" with a program or "what's bad" about that song? It's hard to explain. Sometimes I think, "nothing....really wrong or bad"...just not something I want being stamped in their subconscious that becomes part of their soul.

So many things are targeted at MY GIRLS. My girls who haven't reached puberty, yet the things marketed at them are drenched in subjects that are way beyond American Girl dolls and dress up. It doesn't take long either. Only a matter of minutes. My girls watched the Disney Channel every night one week. They were allowed to watch one show. Before I knew what happened, they knew the names (real names) of all the characters and would speak about them as if they knew them personally. I had NO IDEA who these people were. It was quite humorous....until I realized that they couldn't remember what 9X4 was and got quite "sassy" when I suggested they stop what they were doing until they could learn their 9's!
So many of these television programs feature children/teens speaking with sarcasm and "sassiness" that gains laughter from the audience. Is that seemingly innocent humor really modeling purity for our children--teaching them to respect their parents and authority in their lives? You may laugh and say, "It's really not that bad." And then you hear your child throw out a quick sarcastic remark to you or another adult and you wince with alarm and think, "Where in the WORLD did they learn that? I never taught my child to speak that way!" But we did.

We want our daughters to not be consumed with their looks and with the opposite sex. We want their identity to come from Christ....and yet the programs they watch are consumed with boy/girl relationships, what is cool, who can come back with the quickest cutting remark, and fashion that makes eyes immediately focus on their body. That "cute" little pair of sweatpants with something written on the backside invites everyone to look. That low-cut shirt invites others to look whether they intended to or not.

This battle is exhausting. It requires constant action. It requires us to provide an alternative...not just pull the plug. I found myself saying, "No, we aren't going to watch that...now go find something else to do." That's not parenting. So I am trying very hard to find alternatives, and that requires me to be involved and a participant in the alternative at times---like reading a long novel that is interesting to their ears and minds, but too hard for them to read and understand on their own. Yes, that requires less time to do other things, but I know the efforts are eternal. One glimmer of hope came this past week. We had not watched TV at all that week and they asked to watch a movie. We let them stay up and watch one. After it was over at ten o'clock, my 8 year old asked I would read a chapter or two out of the novel I had been reading them. I told her that it was too late and we needed to get to bed. She paused for a moment and said, "Well, maybe instead of watching TV tomorrow night as our free time, we could read three or four chapters out the book....an extra long story time!" Ah........the fresh air of success. Music to my ears.
My time with them is fleeting fast. It's half way over and it's only just begun. I want them to remember....

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." ~Philippians 4:8






Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spiritual Diet Part 1

I love to eat. (The very reason I can't get down to the weight I'd like to be....but that's an entirely different post. ) I like a good meal. I really hate it when I go to a pricey restaurant and order something that sounds very appetizing, expecting high quality food, only to be disappointed. Sometimes the dish looks good, but once I bite into it, I realize that all the sauce, marinating, and decoration in the world can not turn a leathery piece of steak into a tenderloin. Looks can be deceiving.

I was having lunch today with my daughters and overheard a conversation in the booth behind me. Two men were meeting for lunch during their busy day and one asked the other what he had been up to and doing this week. The gentleman launched into an exciting description of his church's "VBS".....Vacation Bible School. He talked for at least 15 minutes about how fabulous it was the night before. The set on the stage was phenomenal. They had a working drawbridge right on the stage. The kids could walk over it and out the building when they were finished with their time in the sanctuary. He said that his church goes "all out" in visual aids and decorations. He said that he was helping in the four-year old department. He said that he didn't have to do anything but show up and herd them from room to room. After describing the "set" he launched into how incredible the recreation time was. "It was total chaos"...."wild"....."things flying everywhere"....and how much fun the kids were having. He explained to his friend that the whole night was designed to be that way so it would be exciting. (the other man still hadn't spoken) The gentleman continued with his description of a contest that the boys and girls were having. They are competing to see who can bring in the most pennies by the end of the week. (For what, you ask? He didn't say. I'm sure there is a recipient, but it wasn't important really, only the contest.) He laughed and said that he'd never seen so many pennies in his life and how much work it was for the kids to get everything changed into pennies. He finished by saying that the kids went back into the sanctuary at the end of the evening to "get a penny count and sing a couple of songs and then go home". As their food arrived, the other gentleman asked if he was going back again tonight and he told him he was and that he was looking forward to another night of fun.

I was stunned. Well, not really. I was really just surprised at the "coincidence" over the fact I had just had a conversation this morning about how children AND ADULTS are not satisfied with anything that isn't well packaged and high-tech. There seems to be a lot of time spent on the package....the visual appeal....anything to keep our attention. I mean if it doesn't move fast, have special effects, and sound like our favorite pop/rock band then we lose interest. Last year we purchased a $30 computer game called "Mathblaster" because it was exciting and "fun" and was supposed to reinforce math skills. We found that after one week, the math skills had not improved at all, but our daughter knew how to play the game. Her score was not even important as long as she could get her super hero from point A to point B. He could arrive at his destination, unharmed, but without any points from correct math equation answers. So back to the old-fashioned flashcards we went. Amazingly, the flash cards worked...and I got them at the Dollar Tree. ($29 too late)

Sadly, in the entire conversation I overheard today at lunch, not one time did the gentleman mention how much the children were learning about Christ. Never once did he say relationships were being built with the children. After all, how could they as they "herded" them from station to station amidst the "wild chaotic fun".

We are caught in a current that keeps dragging us farther and farther away from the shore. We are serving up beautiful, elaborately prepared and garnished meals with no sustenance or nourishment. It tastes good going down, but there it is basically cheap meat with a lot of sauce.

What if all the money that had been spent on that drawbridge had been turned into pennies? And in turn, those pennies turned into dollars? And the dollars given to further the kingdom of God? How much time did it take to build that drawbridge? How much time was spent preparing the message for the children to actually hear? Do they even compare?

I am thankful for all the wonderful teachers in this world who pour their hearts into their lessons. Who spend hours with the Lord during the week, in order to bring a deep, succulent lesson each Sunday that gives us something to nourish our clean our souls and minds. God's Word is living and breathing and stands on it's own. It doesn't need a makeover.

Now before you go and chew me up and spit me out, I am not saying that having fun and decorating is wrong. Let's just be honest. Where is the investment being made? Are we laying out a beautifully decorated table, piping in the latest music, stimulating our venue visually, and serving MUSH, or are we cleaning up our house, planning a healthy and tasteful meal, searching for the best and most beneficial ingredients, cooking it until it's perfectly done, and serving it after a prayerful blessing?

You decide.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pace

It's summertime.

Just saying it today makes me breathe a little more deeply.

I've been thinking about pace a lot the last couple of days...trying not to hurry at my chores, rush through my errands, or show impatience with others. Why? Because God has given me summertime. I have the blessing of time. During the regular "school year" I don't really have much time to relax and do what I want to. Sure, we all have down-time. We may say that we have NO TIME to do anything, but that's not true. We really do, it's just not at our leisure. We have to take it when we are not on someone else's clock and schedule.

I have read several Facebook status updates that use the word "bored". It amazes me. How can one be bored? I think that we are too accumstomed to having others (work, school) organize our time. We are also over committed and over scheduled. We fill every available space with an activity. When we are not on a "schedule" we tend to become bored because we are not involved in an organized
activity. We can still use our time wisely and schedule ourselves a bit while on vacation, but we should not schedule and organize things so tightly that we miss the joy and ease of free time. You know...the old "I need a vacation from my vacation" mistake.

Instead of becoming bored, we need to cherish the time we have that is unscheduled. David says in Psalm 23:

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul."


There is a reason that this is the first thing mentioned in Psalm 23. God wants us to lie down in green pastures....lead us beside quiet waters........so He can restore our souls to righteousness. Until we take time to just "be".....be still.....be quiet.....be unscheduled....be relaxed.....be unhurried.....we won't be able to hear God and listen to His wisdom and direction.

I have heard God in the last few days. I have heard Him speak to my heart and show me how I speak harshly when I am interrupted by my children. I am so used to being in a hurry, that when I have a task or something that I am doing and get interrupted by my children, I react with a short fuse. God asked me "Why?" I have time. I need to realize that I can go back to my activity or task when I am finished being interrupted. No need to get anxious or hurried.

I have also realized that boredom is a sign of my lack of creativity and my inability to see things around me that need attention. Sometimes it isn't the dirty kitchen that needs my attention....sometimes it's my children or my husband. God wants my attention.
I cannot get to know Him without taking the time to read and study his word.

I have the time.

It's summertime.

Who can be bored when talking with the Lord.
IN THE GARDEN
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The son of God discloses
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet that the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

We need to tarry.
We need to hush.
We need to stop.
We need to listen.
We need not be bored when God longs for us to know Him.

Could there be anything more exciting?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised"


All was quiet. All was peaceful. Room was dark (thanks to special darkening blinds). And then my heart almost stopped. I awoke to the door BUSTING OPEN and loud yells......

"HAPPY MOTHER'S DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY"
(phew----a moment to adjust!!!)

The two most beautiful gifts with smiles a mile wide stood before me! My beautiful children. The most precious gifts I've ever received. Thank you, Lord for your blessings!

Homemade gifts in hand, wrapped in an entire roll of wrapping paper, they climbed up on the bed and the day began! Poetry and pictures and breakfast in bed! (and a Starbucks card and DAISIES!!! from my hubby) What a wonderful way to start the day.

I talked to my own Mother this morning. She is a gem. I love her so. I wish I could shower her with pampering today.....home-cooked lunch, a trip to get nails done, etc...

The day I became a Mother, God gave me a gift. Yes, my children are the best gift from my Heavenly Father. But He gave me another gift--one that is forever ingrained in my mind and heart. Having children has given me a glimpse into the heart of God. The love that He has
for me. The unconditional, "love-you-so-much-I'd-die-for-you" kind of love. I had a "head" knowledge of God's love. I had felt His love for me. But I never really began to understand His love until I had children of my own. I would do anything for my children. I would love to be able to shelter them from heartache and protect them from hurt and disappointment....but when they need my discipline, it is my love for them that allows me to discipline and guide them. Sometimes they may be upset with me, but I know that it is for their own good. God has allowed me to see that on multiple occasions and continually reminds me of His love for me. A love that comforts, guides, prunes and cuts away, gives and takes, grieves, labors, delights and celebrates.

Thank you, Lord for loving me, for giving me a wonderful Mother, and for allowing me to mother two of your precious children....and allow me to call them my own!

Monday, May 4, 2009

How did it get so late so soon?

"How did it get so late so soon?
Its night before its afternoon.
December is here before its June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?”
~Dr. Suess

I have been saying "live in the moment" at least once a day this year. I seem to preach it every day in class. I have realized....(gasp! cough! sputter!) that I do not always practice what I preach. We are nearing the end of yet another school year. There is a new "senior class" that is preparing to spread their wings and fly the coop. Some can't get out fast enough. Others are quite emotional and are going through the pains of reality that things must come to an end.

I often look at my children and sigh with relief. I have time. They are so young.

And then I panic.

I gasp again when I realize that time is really running out. Am I teaching them all I need to teach them? Am I using my time wisely and teaching and molding during the years when they are the most receptive? I know that there will come a day soon that they won't want to hear what I have to say. I pray that time doesn't last too long. I pray that they don't write off my motherly wisdom forever. But I already see signs of them questioning my knowledge on subjects that I have quite a bit of expertise in. Yes, I know. I can hear all the moms of teenagers saying their favorite line..."You just wait. You haven't seen anything yet." Don't they think I know this??? Don't they realize that I lay awake at night sometimes...heart pounding....fretting over this? There are times when it hits me so strongly I can hardly breathe. We are not promised tomorrow. I may think I have years with my girls. Years to mold them and teach them. But in truth, I don't know if I have tomorrow. I must use each day and each moment as if it were my last. This can be exhausting. It could take up every minute of my day. It is overwhelming to even think about.

I am trusting God to allow me to open my eyes and ears and be more sensitive to the words of my children. Really talk to them. Not just "instruct" them. Oh...I'm good at instructing!!
Get your homework done!
Pick up your clothes.
Hang up your towel.
Practice!
Be nice.
Get ready for bed.
Go wash your hands!
Take a bath!
Do your chores!
Tell her your sorry!
Say thank you.
Clean up your mess!
Hurry!
Hurry!
Hurry!

Today I took a deep breath and looked at my children. I took the time to listen to their conversations and questions. (It is quite exhausting at times! Questions...questions!) But I answered them with care instead of haste today. I also took time to laugh with them and joke with them. There were some teachable moments that I actually remember and we actually learned from.

And my heart was calm, my spirit more peaceful, my attitude brighter...

And my children seemed to mirror those characteristics.
They may not have been quiet....but they had a more peaceful look on their faces throughout the afternoon.

I hope I can remember this tomorrow. I pray that God will continue to teach me to practice what I preach and LIVE IN THE MOMENT...and live with a quiet heart. My children will take their cues from me. No wonder they seem so stressed sometimes! Lord, help me! Show me how to calm my own spirit so I can in turn give them the freedom to rest. Rest in their spirits and in their minds.

My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother,

like a weaned child is my soul within me.
~Psalm 131:1-2

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Citizen's Arrest! Citizen's Arrest!

The Mayberry Squad Car Tour!
This man used to play with Andy Griffith when they were children.
WELCOME TO MAYBERRY!
In Otis' cell in the Mayberry Couthouse






Outside Wally's Service Station


At the Andy Griffith Playhouse






Friday, April 17, 2009

"Goober says 'Hey'....'Hey' to Goober!"

We have lived in North Carolina for three years and have never ventured over to "Mayberry". I told the girls that we were going to go visit the birth and home place of Andy from the Andy Griffith Show. They were very excited because they love the reruns. Meredith asked, "Are we going to be able to see the sheriff's office and the jail?" I said, "Yes!" Janey's head popped up and and she said, "In color?????"

So to end our Spring Break, we drove over to Mt. Airy for the day. We began our day with a stop at Wally's filling station and sat on the front porch in the rocking chairs and watched the people drive and walk by. We reserved a spot on the next "Squad Car Tour". The man working outside on some repairs told us that we hit them on a good day. "D.C." was giving the tours and he was born and raised in Mt. Airy, played with Andy Griffith as a child, and had lots of stories to tell. His tours tended to be longer than most because he simply "isn't in a hurry".

Now that is something that speaks to me personally these days. It seems everyone (including myself) are always in a hurry...trying to get it all in. So, we spent the day in what I will call "Mayberry Mode". It kind of reminds me of the episode where the preacher preached on always being in a hurry. Andy, Aunt Bea, Barney and Opie all sat on the porch talking about it and then decided to get the band together, fix the uniforms, rebuild the bandstand.....and the hurrying began...all in the name of resting and fun. So typical.

Anyway, we did try to spend the day in Mayberry Mode. "D.C." gave us the best tour of Mt. Airy. He told us lots of stories about the town and it's history-all from the view of the Mayberry squad car. Everyone waved as we drove through town. It was so fun.
Slow...peaceful...unhurried...relaxing...windows down...dogwoods blooming...sun shining....get the picture? We asked him where he liked to eat. He told us that his favorite place was "Barney's". So we ended up eating there. A lunch for four was about $14, tip and all. We ended the day at Opie's Candy Store where the girls filled there bags with a mix and match of all the sugar treats they liked.

All in all it was a nice day. It makes me long for a simpler life. Like the song says....

Sometimes it feels like this world is spinning faster
Than it did in the old days
So naturally, we have more natural disasters
From the strain of a fast pace

Sunday was a day of rest
Now, it’s one more day for progress
And we can’t slow down ‘cause more is best
It’s all an endless process

I miss Mayberry
Sitting on the porch drinking ice-cold cherry Coke
Where everything is black and white
Picking on a six string
Where people pass by and you call them by their first name
Watching the clouds roll by

Sometimes I can hear this old earth shouting

Through the trees as the wind blows
That’s when I climb up here on this mountain
To look through God’s window
Now I can’t fly
But I got two feet that get me high up here
Above the noise and city streets
My worries disappear
Sometimes I dream I’m driving down an old dirt road
Not even listed on a map
I pass a dad and son carrying a fishing pole
But I always wake up every time I try to turn back

So, I think I'll try to keep my Mayberry state of mind for a little bit longer....

sit in the rocker...
with a fan in my hand...
glass of iced tea....
taking a cat nap....
listening to the birds and the crickets...

wavin' at folks as they.......
speed by so fast you can't see who they are.

Oh well, a girl can dream!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I will be."


video


My auditioned ensemble performed at the Music Festival last week. The second selection they performed was entitled, "Esto Les Digo" and is a contemporary work in Spanish. The English translation is the scripture below:


Matthew 18:19-20
"Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."

We warmed up in the warm-up room after lunch and had about 10 minutes to spare before we performed. They gathered in a circle holding hands and began to pray. One after the other....20 individuals.....all gathered together in Jesus' name. I heard each student pray from the depths of their souls that their Father in Heaven would be glorified through their preparation and through their singing. Each one prayed for unity of hearts and minds. Each one prayed for the audience to be stirred by the music and point them to God alone. I was truly blessed to witness this picture of Matthew 18. It wasn't until the day was over that they realized what they had done....lived out the scripture they were singing. It profoundly impacted their hearts. What a blessing. Not one prayed to get a good score. Not one prayed to be great. Their prayers turned to what God would want...and that included no selfishness on their parts.

There are a few times in our lives that we will remember so profoundly....and most of those if not all, will be times when God's presence was the center of the moment. Mile markers on our journey. Places marked by God's presence and His intervention.


In the words of a teenager...."good stuff."



Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Protector

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,

the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—

he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—

the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,

nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—

he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming
and
going both now and forevermore.

Isn't that beautiful? I think I've read this Psalm hundreds of times. God has such a special way of making things fresh and new. Hebrews 4:12 tells us: For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. As we allow God's word to penetrate and dwell in us....over and over again....God breathes new life into the passages we read. The meaning never changes....but the understanding becomes deeper. No other book has that power.

I have been reading the Psalms of Ascent in a study by Beth Moore entitled "Stepping Up". A friend of mine had the Cd's and I have been using them along with the book. The past two days I have been working and meditating on Psalm 121. I have been reminded of how God is my protector. The Maker of heaven and earth, and (as my book said this week) "owns the highways of both turfs". He sees what we don't. He knows what lies ahead around every corner...every decision....and He has already been there before me. He goes there with me. He follows behind me. He gives me shade. He protects me from things I cannot see. I must....I must be in His word so I can hear His voice and listen to his gentle nudging. He should lead me through this dance.

I received an email from my Mother today and I've included it below. It is so timely in my study of My Protector.

Legend of the Cherokee Indian

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage?His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone.He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone.Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must come into manhood on his own.The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold.It would be the only way he could become a man!Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold.It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him.He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, our Heavenly Father is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us.When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.If you liked this story, pass it on. If not, perhaps you took off your blindfold before dawn.Moral of the Story:Just because you can't see God, doesn't mean He is not there. 'For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snowman....take two!











Here he is........Frosty, himself, in our very own backyard. He swiped my scarf and Brad's hat!
It took the sun melting things a little to make the snow the right consistency for making this masterpiece!

Finally...SNOW!

Trying to make a snowman.....but the snow was a bit fine!
Brad's footprints on the way to start his car this morning!

The "no school today" faces!


So beautiful!
A view down the road.....so pretty.

Meredith posing by the tree....if the sun doesn't melt it this afternoon, the branches will definitely break!

Our home.


We've waited for three years for a REAL SNOW. Not a dusting, but one that dumps it all over us! We woke up to 6 inches of beauiful powdery snow! So fun! Enjoy the pictures! (even though the camera dates are wrong...I'm getting better, but still miss the technical details) We are enjoying a day off from our busy life. God is good......and such an artist!








video

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Milestones




My best friend turned 40 today! The girls and I surprised him by inviting his family for the weekend. His parents arrived Friday afternoon and were at the house waiting on him when he got home from work. His brother and nephew arrived at the house early Saturday morning to take him for a surprise day of golfing on the first pretty day in months. It started out in the 30's and warmed up to around 60 degrees. After they returned home, we had the house decorated and had a birthday feast of hamburgers, hotdogs and all the trimmings. The girls had a funny hat for him to wear! We had a nice time surprising him and visiting with his family.

Happy 40th birthday, honey!

Friday, January 23, 2009

What A Day!

We woke up to snow on Inauguration Day....and to NO SCHOOL! So we stayed in bed a little longer this morning. I drank a few extra cups of coffee and watched all the festivities of the Inauguration that was to take place this afternoon. I also watch the snow fall. It was so beautiful. It was interesting to watch all the exchanges between the outgoing President and the incoming President-elect. The coffee at the White House must have been nice. I would think anything that was hosted by Laura Bush would be classy! She is one classy woman. I will miss her as First Lady, won't you? She was always smiling....always beautiful. She was so gracious on Inauguration Day. I admire her so much. She was a beautiful picture of a helpmate. Well done, Laura Bush! She makes you proud to be a woman.

I didn't vote for Barak Obama. I don't agree with many of his views....but I, like many Americans, was proud to watch the Inauguration on January 20th. It was moving. I think it's not only the fact that America elected an African American to the highest office in our country, but to watch a sweet family that seems, at least from the outside looking in, to be strong and in tact. That is refreshing. A mom and dad who are very much in love, and two children who seem to be bright and well-behaved. So many families are broken and hurting. So many children are out of control and headed for destruction. I am thankful to see a beautiful family take up residence in the White House.

I decided to make the most of the day, and make my children watch the ceremony. I wanted them to remember the history in the making. So, I sat them down and told them they would need to pay close attention to the speech, the music, the former presidents and their spouses, and the oath. Then I broke the news to them. When the speech was over, they were going to go upstairs to their rooms and write me a paper! I had them write about what they watched and heard in their own words. They actually didn't mind doing it. (after all, they are only eight and nine) I have saved their papers and will show them to them someday when they are grown as a reminder of the historical event.

I will enjoy reminding Meredith that she called Yo Yo Ma, "Yo Ma" and talked about how "happy" he was when he played the cello. I will chuckle for years to come as I remember Janey writing....."A lady in a big hat sang My Country Tisave."
Of course, I spent some time explaining the real name of the song. (and laughed a lot too)
I don't know how the next four years will play out. I am sure it will be interesting enough. I do know that prayer is always important....and even more when you aren't in agreement with someone. So I am praying for our new president. I pray that he will seek God's face in all his decisions.

Leading a nation....can you imagine? But why should leading a nation be any more important than raising children. In the grand scheme of things we really should look at them with equal importance. As a matter of fact, as parents, we are responsible for leading our children to the Lord. That is a monumental task....to put God before our children every day and make sure that we are addressing each and every situation in the light of God's word and how it applies to their decisions and actions...both visible and invisible. Wow. That's sobering. How many times do I think, "Pick your battles." If I were totally honest, I should pick them all.....as a moment to show God to my children. So, I'll pray for the president as he leads our nation in HUGE decisions that affect millions of people.... And I'll get on my knees and beg for wisdom and guidance as I guide my own little army.

So help me God.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weeds

Wisdom from Above
James 3:13-18
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace
.

I want peace....on so many levels.

I have realized lately that my mothering needs more urgency. I see time slipping away every day in the faces of my children, and wonder how much I have wasted and lost already.
I see traits in my children that seem to be popping up likes weeds....and to be honest, I do not like what I see growing. I feel like a gardener who goes outside to water the garden one day, only to find that when he wasn't looking, it was taken over by weeds.

So, these traits that are budding rather rapidly in the middle of my daisy bushes are beginning to bother me. Selfishness, greed, manipulation.....and all the while, the peace I long for is slipping away. I must get a handle on it! I must get out the "weed-be gone" and "round-up" the Fruits of the Spirit!

As I begin thinking about what to do about these traits I see growing rapidly and out of control, I find myself focusing on the negative.....becoming more irritable.....less peaceful. James warned us about this "disorder" that will erupt. It is spilling over into every open area of our lives. Everything becomes vulnerable. Instead of modeling peace and wisdom, I become irritable, aggravated, impatient and sometimes even angry. I allow the weeds to choke me. I am such a weak human! I am no better than they are.

I realize my reactions are based upon lack of watering in my own garden. You see, James said that wisdom from above is first pure. Talk about a slap in the face. How in the world am I supposed to show good conduct and model the traits I want my children to have if I am not modeling from wisdom that is pure. No wonder we are lacking peacefulness and gentleness, and no one is reasonable, there is no mercy among us. I must back up and start from the very beginning....my own purity.

So as I try to rid my children of these weeds, I must first take care of my own garden. I will move straight to the Fruits of the Spirit, and stop focusing on the weeds. Tending the fruits will choke the weeds.......

and peace will return.

All this has made me thirsty.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Out with the old.....


Well, I ate my black-eyed peas today, did you? I expect this year to be more prosperous than last! I also did not do one load of laundry today, lest a member of the family be "washed away" over the next few months.


There are so many funny customs....some pretty cooky! Check out this link and read some for yourselves. Very interesting stuff. You might find out the reasons behind your own silly and fun customs.


We decorated gingerbread men today. It is still Christmastime after all, right? Today would be the "8th day of Christmas"--which is the "maids a-milking". Do you know what the maids-a-milking represent? They represent the 8 beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount. Some people might not realize that "The Twelve Days of Christmas" actually has religious meanings behind each verse. Early Catholics in England were prohibited to practice their faith. The song was written to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith through coded messages or memory aids.


So, I digress. As I was saying, we decorated gingerbread men today, took down the Christmas tree (a day late because I've been sick and literally forgot because I haven't been downstairs!!), did no laundry, ate our black-eyed peas and began our family challenge to read the Bible every day this year. The girls each had their assignment and it was completed this evening.


For some reason I'm blue today. New Year's Day has always been an exciting day for me, or at least a day of gearing up for something new and exciting....feeling fresh and renewed. Not this year. I don't really know why. I'm still working through this melancholy. It could be lots of things.


I'm missing my family. My parents and my brother live far away.....his girls are growing up and don't know me very well. I get very sad when I think of all I am missing. God has a plan for my life and I am trying to walk in His will....but it seems to have me walking away from those I love so dearly. Friendships of old that are also so dear to me are not in my grasp or sight. Time just keeps moving on, and so do their lives...without me.


I guess I need to take a dose of my own medicine and plant a few more daisies where I am. The ones that have been planted are wilting. I haven't been "willing" them to grow and blossom. There are some that have blossomed quite beautifully. Those I have planted in my children and around my children's lives are blooming beautifully. I am thankful for that. I praise God for that.


I will choose to be grateful for time spent with people, even if it is much shorter than I would like.


I will choose to cultivate my relationship with God more deeply and more consistently. I think in focusing on this one thing and only this one thing, all the rest will fall into place.....


The melancholy will fade...


The sadness will ease....


and the daisies will grow.