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Advent – Reflections on Hope

Hope candle

I hope he makes his connections.

I hope the weather there isn’t too cold.

I hope his back holds out during this trip.

I hope they don’t have problems with their rental if they go to NYC.

I hope, I hope, I hope

How many of these hopes of mine are really fears?  How long will I walk along with one hand over my eyes – only wanting to peak occasionally to see if things are going alright “out there.”

I hope he doesn’t bring home the flu – it would be devastating for me to catch it twice in one year.  And NONE of us want to be sick during the holidays.

The scent of my unlit vanilla candle tickles my nose with its sweet fragrance reminding me how powerful it can be when it’s lit.  My fears, when imagined, have so much power over me.  But a Spirit-filled, Christian body can squash those fears!  Right?  Anybody want to help me remember that???  Oh, yes… I should find that in my Bible – how silly of me?!

Read His Word.  Hope is more than something that gets us through our fears and troubles.  Hope is more powerful than that!  It’s bigger than me, my strength, and bigger than my fears.  It comes from Almighty God – ruler of the heavens and the earth!

Psalm 147:  10-11

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.

I hope, because He delights in me…Thank you Jesus for your HOPE!

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Christmas, Life, in general

 

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“Free” Time

With his breath reeking of coffee and cigarettes he speaks of God. He attempts to deliver the Sunday School lesson – but I don’t really hear anything he’s saying… I’m just too distracted by the bad breath.  Maybe my Mom could suggest a cough drop – one that smelled better than hers, of course, but something to help this poor guy!

It was a class full of 8th graders – or was it 6th? We were all being confirmed that year so I think we must have been 12 years old. Time to move out of the child-like realm of Sunday School and into the big church. Our rite of passage, I guess?

What a gaggle of preteens we were!  Kids – pure and simple… Chomping at the bit to get outside to wait in the courtyard for our parents to pick us up. I remember having time to kill and if there was snow, there would be snowballs or snowmen. We ran and played but we never strayed far – staying close to the building.  We were just enjoying our temporary liberation from teachers, school, church, and parents. Unstructured time that was just FREE.

I find it odd that as an adult, I lack “free” time. There’s some sort of guilt stamped on the back of my mind – some impedance that disallows unstructured space in my life and in my day. How did that happen? How do I get rid of that? What would “free” time even look or feel like at my age?

I know there would be limitations because of neck problems and chronic pain… but limitations don’t sound “free” at all, do they?  It may be the everyday life of a wife and a mom, I guess, that also holds me back.  It seems like “priorities” are endless – almost like a black hole that just swallows me and all the spare hours in the day.

Last Sunday we decorated our foyer and sanctuary for Christmas with a few little extra ideas thrown in.  We are spending the four Sundays in Advent as a time to throw out the welcome mat and have an old-fashioned “Open House.”  Special music is planned as well as holiday cookies and wassail.  I’m really looking forward to these Sundays to mingle with friends and acquaint ourselves anew with talk of children, new grandchildren and maybe where everyone will spend their Christmas morning.

In the process of decorating, I took directions from our fearless foyer decorator and before I knew it I was climbing up and down a ladder hanging and draping all the sparkly and shiny baubles on the tall Christmas tree.  Never flinching once, never feeling sore or strained, I repeated this over and over and before I knew it … 3 hours had passed.  It was fun and it was free.  Unexpected free time that I consider a gift.

Jesus came as a free gift as well…and Isaiah 9:6 foretold of this precious free gift, and all the magnitude it would entail…

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Maybe the next time I ponder “free” time, I’ll think of how FREE my time is, thanks to a baby, in a manger, who gave his life so freely.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in Christmas

 

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Five Minute Friday – Wonder

Wonder

The Wonder of it all…

I’m a child and it’s Christmas and I’m lying under the tree – it’s finally put up.  I’m not sure where my Dad gets these trees, but they sure are frustrating to put together!  My brothers try to hold it, getting poked in the face, while my father tries earnestly to attach the tree stand.  Then he has to string it to the doorways near the corner so it stands securely.  There are lots of heated, angry words that fly about – my Dad’s mostly – and a few disgusted looks on the faces of my brothers.  My sister, however, beams.  Shoot, she’s glowing!  And I think she already has ornaments in her hands…  She’s READY!

The lights are on and working and then we add the decorations.  Next, comes the battle of garland vs. icicles.  We must have both on hand because out of nowhere we’re all grabbing silver, shiny, stringy plastic strands and trying our best to drape them on the tree.  I know there’s some banter about singles versus clumps, but I think I’m doing mine right.  And it’s no easy task to add these icicles to the tree because there are abundant amounts of static cling involved.  I believe I hear my Mom mutter from the couch her negative comments about vacuums and icicle strands.  I guess she’s the one who prefers the garland.

But, I lie here, under the tree with all the living room lights off.  I get my head way under next to the stand and look up the center of the tree.  It’s my favorite part.  For me, it is the wonder and beauty of the tree that tells me Christmas is almost here!

 

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An – ti – ci – pa – tion…Can’t Wait?

Would the ketchup EVER get here?  Tipping the bottle, giving it a little downward shake, I waited.  I’m not thinking about the fries getting cold or if someone else might need the bottle… I am entirely focused on the red blob – Is it EVER going to MOVE???

Anticipation is in the waiting.  It’s the build-up of invisible energy or hunger that propels us into a focused state of mind.  One thing … we are just focused on that one thing.  Maybe we’re noticing the world on the periphery, and functioning in it, but really, we’re just focused on that one thing.

To a child, and really most adults, Christmas is like that.  It falls on December 25th and regardless of work, school, or home life – our focus gradually begins to become all about that day.  Family traditions of decorating, shopping, meal-planning all become honed in on by everyone.  Stores might be reminding us earlier each year about the shopping days left on the calendar, but truly, we turn our focus towards Christmas on our own schedule.

My Christmas tree went up early this year.  I decided I wanted a new one after almost 20 years of using the last one.  It was still in great shape, and complete with instructions, so I donated it to my favorite thrift store charity.  I picked one at the store specifically with pine cones attached to the limbs because that’s my style – woodsy.  I think this year I also started playing my Christmas music selection a little early too.  Anticipation… not for Christmas, but for Christ.

Everyday I feel His presence in my life.  Every day is a day to celebrate not only His birth, but His second coming.  Just as His presence as a King was promised by the prophets of old, we anticipate the next step in God’s kingdom calendar – Jesus’ glorious return.

I remember my Dad showing me how to insert a knife into the glass bottle to help the ketchup release and come out a little easier.  Boy, how we’ve progressed into plastic bottles with squirtable tops!  We’ve solved the waiting problem with ketchup, but shouldn’t we still enjoy the waiting that comes with Christmas?

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Christmas, Life, in general

 

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