Nestled Under His Wing – Your Choice

under-his-wings

He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge…” Psalm 91:4 NIV

This is an updated version of a recent blog with a bit of “take home” for those of you who are listening.

The date was set for mid January – the weekend before Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday. Who would have known when we set the date back in October that the weather would be foggy and chilly! After all, it is January! So, because of the weather, we camped in most of the day. And we were so okay with that!

Two of my very dearest friends drove out to our beach home, “Doves Rest,” for our bi-annual visit. Diana’s husband joined her so my Beloved would have a fishing buddy.

We three read, shared, ate, napped, puzzled, and generally hung out together in our socks and comfy clothes. And when we got a bit of cabin fever, we put on more clothes and went out for a walk in the dense fog. We discovered a few others out in it, too.

Each time we’ve come together, it seems that one of us has had some crisis in her life right then, causing us to pray over her and seek the Lord’s counsel.

This time Tammy was in need of some extra hugs and loving. Over the course of the weekend we listened to her struggles about work. We mulled over it. The next afternoon, after much fellowship, pondering, praying privately, and some light-hearted game playing, she came to us and asked what we thought she needed to say to her supervisor in the coming week.

“I’m afraid,” she said, as she was writing in her journal.

“Well, though you are uncomfortable at work right now, that may not be the first thing you say, if at all, to your supervisor,” I responded. “You may want to say, ‘I have some concerns.’”

“I feel I’m at the end of the season here at this location. What are your thoughts regarding transferring to another campus next year,” she said, while writing. “Would that work?” We agreed that would be honest. We continued to talk it over together, Diana also sharing her thoughts and suggestions.

By Sunday afternoon, following worship at our church on the beach, hugs were shared all round.Then we headed home.

It was cloudy but not raining. I decided to take the toll road east around downtown. As we were going up over the Houston Ship Channel, Tammy sharing memories of her brother serving as a merchant marine and her grandmother’s visit to Houston, I noticed that she was relaxing more. The weekend had indeed refreshed her, despite the weather!

When we got home we donned our PJ’s and sat on the couch with a hot bowl of mac and cheese and watched some forgettable movie on Netflix while my husband went to play his usual round of pool. Following the movie, we each headed to bed. We were done in!

The next morning it was raining and Tammy decided to wait it out before heading back home to Austin. As we finished eating our bacon and eggs, she leaned in to me and said, “I was given this word picture a long time ago, when I was in the muck and mess with an angry parent of one of my students.

There was a cauldron of turmoil that everyone was fussing over. I felt detached from the activity. Then I realized that the Lord had lifted me to higher ground, to a nest in a cliff overlooking the frenzy below. There, in the cleft of the rock, I nestled under His wings. The more I looked to Him, and the nearer I drew to Him, the more I could feel His heartbeat and peace.”

She continued. “All the fiery arrows that were shot out and meant to bring me down were deflected by His wings. I was safe and sheltered and filled with His peace. He urged me to look below. As I did, my heart filled with prayers for this mother. There, close to His heart, focused on Him, my perspective changed.”

 She paused, looking directly into my eyes and nearly whispered, “He has me, Dianne. I know that He does.” And I know that He has Tammy. We shall not be afraid!

 Tammy later shared her journal entry and gave permission to pass on to you today.

When we face various trials or battles, we need to seek that place of rest by choosing to crawl under His wing, in the cleft of the rock, far above our situation.  As we focus on Him with thanksgiving and praise of Who He is and who we are in Him, the problem/battle becomes smaller as we are enveloped completely by His presence. Under the shadow of His wing, He is all we can see and our senses are filled with Him as we breathe Him in and put him on: we sense His closeness, nurture, protection, love, and warmth. We sense our smallness and His greatness. We sense His deep love for us. We sense His power and glory. The angst of the moment gives way to His perfect peace as we are pressed close to His chest. The more we enter into that restful peace, the clearer we are able to hear His heartbeat and understand His perspective. As we rest in the rhythm of His heartbeat we are able to look down on our situation, from the cleft of the rock, with His viewpoint. 

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2 NASB

Nestled Under His Wings – Our Choice

under-his-wings

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalm 91:4 NIV

This post is an update of a previous entry with some “take home” for you who are listening.

The date was set for mid January – the weekend before Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday. Who would have known when we set the date back in October that the weather would be foggy and chilly! After all, it is January! So, because of the weather, we camped in most of the day. And we were so okay with that!

Two of my very dearest friends drove out to our beach home, “Doves Rest,” for our bi-annual visit. Diana’s husband joined her so my Beloved would have a fishing buddy.

We three read, shared, ate, napped, puzzled, and generally hung out together in our socks and comfy clothes. And when we got a bit of cabin fever, we put on more clothes and went out for a walk in the dense fog. We discovered a few others out in it, too.

Each time we’ve come together, it seems that one of us has had some crisis in her life right then, causing us to pray over her and seek the Lord’s counsel.

This time Tammy was in need of some extra hugs and loving. Over the course of the weekend we listened to her struggles about work. We mulled over it. The next afternoon, after much fellowship, pondering, praying privately, and some light-hearted game playing, she came to us and asked what we thought she needed to say to her supervisor in the coming week.

“I’m afraid,” she said, as she was writing in her journal.

“Well, though you are uncomfortable at work right now, that may not be the first thing you say, if at all, to your supervisor,” I responded. “You may want to say, ‘I have some concerns.’”

“I feel I’m at the end of the season here at this location. What are your thoughts regarding transferring to another campus next year,” she said, while writing. “Would that work?” We agreed that would be honest. We continued to talk it over together, Diana also sharing her thoughts and suggestions.

By Sunday afternoon, following worship at our church on the beach, hugs were shared all round.

Then we all headed home.

It was cloudy but not raining. I decided to take the toll road east around downtown. As we were going up over the Houston Ship Channel, Tammy sharing memories of her brother serving as a merchant marine and her grandmother’s visit to Houston, I noticed that she was relaxing more and more. The weekend had indeed refreshed her, despite the weather!

When we got home we donned our PJ’s and sat on the couch with a hot bowl of mac and cheese and watched some forgettable movie on Netflix while my husband went to play his usual round of pool. Following the movie, we each headed to bed. We were done in!

The next morning it was raining and Tammy decided to wait it out before heading back home to Austin. As we finished eating our bacon and eggs, she leaned in to me and said, “I was given this word picture a long time ago, when I was in the muck and mess with an angry parent of one of my students.

There was a cauldron of turmoil that everyone was fussing over. I felt detached from the activity. Then I realized that the Lord had lifted me to higher ground, to a nest in a cliff overlooking the frenzy below. There, in the cleft of the rock, I nestled under His wings. The more I looked to Him, and the nearer I drew to Him, the more I could feel His heartbeat and peace.”

She continued. “All the fiery arrows that were shot out and meant to bring me down were deflected by His wings. I was safe and sheltered and filled with His peace. He urged me to look below. As I did, my heart filled with prayers for this mother. There, close to His heart, focused on Him, my perspective changed.”

 She paused, looking directly into my eyes and nearly whispered, “He has me, Dianne. I know that He does.” And I know that He has her. We shall not be afraid!

 Tammy later shared this journal entry. Worth sharing with you all today.

When we face various trials or battles, we need to seek that place of rest by choosing to crawl under His wing, in the cleft of the rock, far above our situation.  As we focus on Him with thanksgiving and praise of Who He is and who we are in Him, the problem/battle becomes smaller as we are enveloped completely by His presence. Under the shadow of His wing, He is all we can see and our senses are filled with Him as we breathe Him in and put him on: we sense His closeness, nurture, protection, love, and warmth. We sense our smallness and His greatness. We sense His deep love for us. We sense His power and glory. The angst of the moment gives way to His perfect peace as we are pressed close to His chest. The more we enter into that restful peace, the clearer we are able to hear His heartbeat and understand His perspective. As we rest in the rhythm of His heartbeat we are able to look down on our situation, from the cleft of the rock, with His viewpoint.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2 NIV

Psalm 91, Ephesians 6:10-14, Psalm 27:1-6

“Becoming More”……..the Marker that changed everything

IMG_20150417_121712-4

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20

A few years ago, I heard a friend give a talk about markers in your life’s journey which are events or people who have come along in your life and just “marked” it in your memory by making a change in your life so that you never forget that moment. It’s not necessarily a hard change as in the death of someone meaningful,though it could be. But it could also be the moment you got hired in what became a wonderful job, or your marriage, or the birth of your children. Markers usually come in our lives that make a distinction from one way of life to another in a way that we can look back and see exactly when our lives made that change and what was the event or the person that was the catalyst for that change.

Shortly into this retirement adventure I had a few hours in the day that I had not had in a very long time and so I found myself attending a Ladies Bible Study, and then offering to go up to the church to help put the women’s retreat folders together. Simple things. Not too much. I had been asked to help with registration at the retreat, to which I thought, that’s not hard. Sure. That would be fine.

I had not attended a women’s retreat in many years for various reasons, one being that I  was not mentally in a place to receive. The truth is that the retreat is not always the problem. I have been known to enter an event exhausted from having taught school all week, which put me not exactly in the right frame of mind to come to a place of “retreat” and hear from the Lord and have to be NICE to all the women. It was just too much.

But retirement slowed me down. Attending a wonderful Bible Study with fun new friends helped improve my attitude about this retreat immensely. In fact, truth be told, I was actually looking forward to attending, but only as a helper, I kept telling people, mostly myself. I’m not planning to get much out of this weekend, believe me, I thought. A bunch of women getting together feeling good and singing a bunch of songs and hearing some woman speak on how to read the Bible better and do the Christian life better. Please.

Okay. My attitude still needed a bit of refining. But working behind the scenes in getting the rooms ready helped melt my heart a bit. I was seeing the results of many hours of work from behind the scenes come forth in beautiful ways. The making of many precious dolls, signs, give – away gift bags, goodie bags for each room, snacks and drinks. I began to see that much labor had gone into making this retreat very special for those who came. Before the ladies began to come that Friday afternoon, several of us gathered to pray. And that was the beginning of the change. He was melting my heart to receive Him. He was changing my focus from past experiences to present expectation of what He was planning to do in my life.

That evening after the ladies had checked in, I found a seat next to one of the young ladies in my Wednesday Bible Study. She is a vivacious mom of two little girls and is  strikingly beautiful  in her early 30’s who just exudes love of life. As soon as I sat down and had not even taken a bite of salad, she asked how my son was doing. And before I could answer she mentioned that certain ADD drugs can be addicting. It was the very drug I had had my son on for nearly all the years he was in school. Twice he had overdosed on his meds, sending him to the hospital. In the meantime he began to drink to the point that he became addicted. I was melting. Please tell me more, I pleaded with her. We made a date to see one another after the retreat. But Jesus was already using her to prepare me for more. After our very brief conversation I texted my mother, “I believe my son can be healed.” And I did. I didn’t know how, but I believed.

On Saturday morning of the retreat, there was not one woman giving a pep talk on how to live the Christian life. There were several women throughout the morning and afternoon who gave their testimonies. I was there to hear one. She became my Marker, though both of us were totally unaware at the time. This lady of about my age got up and began talking about how she and her husband had raised their children in a good Christian environment, going to church, paying attention to their needs at school and so forth. They had no idea the road one of their children would take, and it was the road to self destruction. I was listening, as the tears just wouldn’t stop coursing down my cheeks. She told of her son who had gotten addicted to some powerful drugs and had ended up sleeping in his car. “One day,” she said, “in utter desperation I told my son, “If you don’t stop, you’re going to die.” Her voice was quivering. My heart was in knots. She’s telling my  son’s story, I cried to myself.

“Evidently,” she said, “that was what it took to get my son to listen. An officer who has known my son for years, as he serves as a security officer at our church on Sundays, went to his car and got him to a place to detox cold turkey then took him to a recovery house. But it was God who got his attention. My son returned back to the faith of his childhood and made a complete change of life. He has been sober for 3 months and has absolutely no desire to go back. It was God who intervened and changed the heart of my son. He now tells everyone he can about the love of Jesus and how He changed him for ever. He still lives at the recovery house and now has a job and is doing well. I have to totally give the Lord praise. It was absolutely nothing we did except pray continually for our son.” She sat down.

I was a total mess. I have no idea what anyone else said the rest of that day. I immediately got up and went to see the lady who had just spoken and asked her where her son was living. I wanted to get my son there, too. She gave me the name of the center. I thanked her and returned to my seat, trying to focus on those around me but found it impossible.

Over the next several months my son, who was living at a different center, was becoming more hostile to the things of God. I could tell from his conversations that he was being persuaded by those around him, folks also hostile and cynical to the ways of God and Christ centered living. I talked to him about it, prayed and eventually he agreed to leave and move to the other recovery center. It was difficult in the sense that he was not willing at first to move. Not long after he moved to the new recovery center, the speaker’s son began sharing with my son, telling him how he needed to get his relationship back with the Lord. One morning my son called to tell me he had made a commitment to the Lord and asked Him to forgive him. “I know Jesus is real, Mom. He has forgiven me.”

My son has been sober for over  sixteen months. His attitude toward spiritual things is totally changed. He still struggles with different issues but he knows his Savior. He knows God has him. And that truth makes getting up every morning a whole lot easier.

Why would I share such a personal story? Not too long ago, I found the folder that we all received at the women’s retreat. On the cover is the scripture Ephesians 3:20. He has made us to do abundantly more. God was at that women’s retreat in huge ways. Not every woman came away with an “aha” moment. Not every woman enjoyed the retreat. But He had me there to know that I was not alone in my struggle with my son. He wanted me to meet other women who had journeyed ahead of me in this hard part of child rearing and to know that He would make a way for my son to get back to a right relationship with Him. My son is off all medication since they were making him depressed and then suicidal and angry. He feels much better overall, and he is making every effort to work out some issues in his life such as work and living arrangements. Do I believe he is healed? He and I know that an alcoholic is never quite “healed.” But recovered and managing and staying in touch with a sponsor? Yes, to that end, he is healing. He is moving forward in his life and that is all because he knows His Lord is leading and taking good care of him.

On the other side of the story, the retreat was also the catalyst for a wake up call in my life. I was in total denial about my son. A month after the retreat, I was invited to attend an Alanon meeting for those who are related to an alcoholic. I went, truly wanting to understand what my son was going through and how to help him. I could not get my head wrapped around that. I was in such denial, yet, all the things he had done in the past few years pointed to this behavior. I just didn’t want to believe it. I faithfully attended for several months, even attending 2 meetings a week for awhile when they conducted a 6 week review of the 12 steps. It was at those meetings that I truly learned a lot about my son as well as about myself and my own involvement in his life related to his drinking. I began to wallow in some deep self pity over what a horrible mother I had been. Finally, I turned over the past to my Lord, who kept telling me He had forgiven me and to move on. I let it go. I cannot tell you what freedom is when you truly let. It. Go.

Come as a child. A child who is humble and teachable in heart. Then you can truly know His love for you as your Abba Father. Amen.ephesians-320-one

The Gathering

“…..walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love…..” Ephesians 4:1-2

Our empty dinner dishes were pushed to the middle of the long table. You could hear contented sighs all round. We were settling in. We were grateful to Marie for having planned ahead and booked the back room of the restaurant. They were kind enough to not pipe the lovely classical music through the speakers.

Theresa, our fearless leader, looked around the room at each one of the nine of us that evening. “This being January, what did we learn from last year? What can you tell us about how the Lord took care of you?” Some groaned and shifted in their seats.

As I sat across from friends, some for many years, and others still getting to know, I reminded myself of what I had been thinking on the way to the restaurant that very evening. Listen. Don’t monopolize all the conversations! Take something home from the gathering! Not just what you said! Or how you felt! You just may learn something! Oh, I was preaching to myself! I had been to plenty of our once a month gatherings in the recent years, when new people were coming in to our motley group, as several had moved or just moved on. So, we were struggling with morale. Or, maybe I was struggling with morale. I was wrestling with whether I wanted to stay involved in the lives of these women. After all, I was already connected to several groups. Why one more? Several of the ladies I had drawn close to had moved on to other activities or moved out of the area. I was weary of having to make new friends at my age.

But something different happened when, in October four of us flew up to one of our longtime friends’ home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she and her husband had moved three years ago. We were forced to be together for five days, part of that time snuggled up in her home while a hurricane blew all around us. As the storm, now downgraded to a tropical storm was swirling the trees around us and poring buckets of rain over us, we were inside, working a puzzle, grazing at the kitchen bar, watching the local news/weather channel, chatting or napping. Following the storm, four of us left for the river cottage we had rented down on the Nuece River. Our friend, whom we had come to visit, had serious concerns about leaving her husband who had just had a serious medical emergency.

The long drive to the cottage and back; the time spent there and the early return to the house in Raleigh caused us to draw close, whether we liked it or not. We laughed, shared stories of our lives, and yes, even got a little short with one another at times, allowing for apologies. We enjoyed sunrises, sunsets, shopping, cooking and dining out. Truthfully, I was enveloped in the Lord’s deep peace throughout the entire trip. I was still so overcome with gratitude that I had been included that anything the other ladies did was just fine with me. I wasn’t bothered by any of their distinct personalities! I just was drawn even closer to them, because I realized that I needed them. I needed their honesty. Their frankness. Their vulnerability. Their love. And so I decided that even though there were new friends coming in to the group, I needed these women, even the new ones and an opportunity to love on them.

By the time we had gathered at the restaurant the other evening I had a new and deeper appreciation for this particular group of ladies, all of whom were in the same generation, most with husbands, grown children, some with grandchildren, some caring for elderly parents, all of us grappling with not just the empty nest but new purpose for the dailyness of our lives. What in the world had we learned from the past year?

Letting go. Choices. Expectations. Deserved. Obedience. Changes. Grappling. Loving inspite of.

As each one shared a portion of their year’s experiences, these words and phrases kept popping up and our heads kept nodding in agreement. We were having to let go of unspoken dreams for our children as they, now in their young adult-moved-out-of-the-house years were making choices we had no intention of them making when they were nursing at our breast. A live-in relationship over marriage was not in our game plan for any of our children. They were going to grow up to be solid faith-walking adults, members in good standing in some local Bible believing church, serve on boards and committees and be responsible adults and marry the right “we approve” man or woman and live happily ever after……down the street from us so we could play with their children, our grandchildren and then return them to their mom and dad when we got too tired.

Some of us were having to care for elderly parents when they didn’t “deserve” it. After all, they weren’t caring for me when I was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease several years ago, one new friend confessed.

As I sat listening and empathizing, it all hit me. Each of us well seasoned moms, doers, and studiers of the Word women were having to flesh out the Gospel! And it was not pleasant! It was walking in the muck of the messiness of our lives and having to consciously choose to live out all that teaching we had drilled into us from all those years of sitting in some church or ladies’ home underlining in our Bibles, memorizing a few verses here and there and lining our shelves with numerous Bible Study notebooks.

We were making choices to walk out the truths in the messiness of our family’s decisions. We were choosing to love our adult children as they were, keeping the communication open and our hearts listening. Praying all the more. We were choosing to care for our elderly parents with kindness and love in spite of the hour drive one way to their home to attend to all day doctor’s appointments, totally dismantling our preferred schedule and activities. We were not accepting our family’s unBiblical behavior; instead we were choosing to love, as Jesus commanded. And reserve judgement for Him, as He commanded.

After a closing prayer I  gave out tight genuine hugs and smiled at all my friends as we headed to our cars and back into the dailyness of our lives. I was glad I had chosen to come. Chosen to listen. Chosen to hear the hearts of sisters whose lives weren’t too different from mine. Not at all June Cleaver. But blessed. So aware of God’s provision. His faithfulness in each of our lives. Of His guardian protection over us and those we hold dear. So many blessings. Because we were choosing to live Christ. Not just hear the Word all these many years, but to be doers of it even when it wasn’t easy or what we desired at the moment. And we all acknowledged His profound peace when we obeyed.

Now……go out with Joy and be led forth in His peace.

Better Plans

You’ve all seen the ads – weight loss, Jazzercise, face lifts, ads for all manner of self improvement. And yet, we have all those cookies from the cookie exchange gathering in the freezer yelling our name through the door! Too cold to go walking and too broke for a face lift! Whine. Whine, as I plop on the couch in front of the TV with a bag of frozen cookies.

Sometimes I absolutely hate January and all the hype of new year’s resolutions because when I bend to the pressure, I make half-baked, not too thought-out resolutions to ….lose five pounds….exercise more….blah, blah, blah! Am I serious? In no time I’m digging into the cookies in the freezer!

This year, I made a few decisions that I plan to keep. In sharing them here, I’m hoping that by putting them in to writing, I’ll take my commitments seriously. So, here they are:

I plan to think more. In this pursuit, I’ve taken up jigsaw puzzles. I’m addicted! While working on the last three hundred piece brightly colored puzzle, I told myself over and over, “think, Dianne. Consider the shape, the color, the lines. Does that piece really fit there??”img_20161111_062022

In continuing the plan to think more, I’ve begun memorizing scripture….again. Sadly, it’s been well over thirty years since I’ve made a huge effort to memorize a segment of scripture. In October I was handed the book The Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene H. Peterson which takes the short Psalms 120-134, the Songs of Ascents, to discuss growing in Christ through discipleship. I’ve come to realize that in memorizing Psalm 120 I had to imagine what David, the writer, was trying to say. I wrote out the Psalm then marked up the prepositional phrases, the verbs, the nouns, the repeated words, and then took Peterson’s analysis of the Psalm and it has become easier to think through and say without looking at it! Why these particular Psalms? They are short. I am enjoying studying them through the eyes of Peterson, and it’s a start back to memorizing a section of verse.

I am also thinking more through my writing. I’m paying attention to the folks who critique my pieces in our little once-a-month writing class, as well as the sage advice found in The Christian Writers Market Guide by Jerry Jenkins.

I plan to listen more than talk.  The other day I took my precious fragile neighbor on our weekly shopping visit to Wal-Mart, as she loves to just get out of the house! Yes, her sweet husband does take her out, but, she says, he wants to go in, get what they need and leave. It didn’t take long to realize that as we walked slowly up the aisle of the yarn and knitting needles where she would always zero in on the variegated skein of yarn, she would then stop to tell me what was going on in her sister’s life or her niece’s life. Obviously  she was craving some girl time! We would usually be gone for about an hour. I have grown to cherish this time with her.shopping-with-lady

And then there’s my son. Usually people grow very uncomfortable when silence happens over the phone. Did the other person hang up? Oh, wait. You called. My younger son loves to call to say hello. What I have come to understand is that he is thinking when the dead air occurs. He’s always had something good to say, but I am usually so busy,  have so much on my mind, and want to move on, that when he does say something it’s important and  I know that I need to shut my mouth, quiet my heart, and listen to my son. He wants to be heard. And silence is meaningful communication, too. So I let him think. And I listen.

Finally, I plan to be grateful. Someone suggested we write down something good that happened each day on a little post-it note and put it in a jar. The following Thanksgiving Day we open the jar and read all the good things that happened the past year. Already this year my jar has quite a few post-it notes in it! I’m also looking for opportunities to show gratitude; to the waitress, to the sweet lady who works on my stinky feet, to the lawn care guys! Gracias! Out loud and often. All year!

Do you have better plans? Hope these ideas help and now…….

To Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

 

 

 

Amid the Stuff……Abide

vine
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4
I finally get why some folks like to close down the routine of mid-week church meetings. December gets crammed full of extra stuff!! A lot of extras! It’s overwhelming!  Some even close down Sunday church just so they can go do the other stuff – the stuff that comes only once a year (thank you, God!) and fills our cup for a little while – you know…..those once a year concerts. Those parties. Those family “I-better-show-up-or-my-name-is-mud” gatherings!

I may get why folks want to close down the routine but I don’t agree with it. Personally, I thrive on routine. Keeps me sane. I need church! I need girl-time fellowship! So, as much as some folks’ decisions reign over mine, and that’s clearly okay, I have to let you know how I feel ’cause here is the encouragement:

Whatever you do this season – whether you go to all the stuff or if you choose to stay home and watch Christmas movies (not a bad thing!) – please know that our Lord and Savior is with you! He, God with us, gets the craziness of the month of December. He knows that we will get caught up in it and He is okay with that as long as……..you continue to have some time with Him! Here’s the deal: Abide with Him – spend some amount of prayer/Bible reading time with the Lord and He will abide back with you! Abide means “to remain.” The Lord is with you no matter what, but we are the ones who get mightily distracted. We are the ones who need that time with Him to remind us of who we are in Him and what He desires of us – our love and obedience to Him.

May I suggest you reread slowly and carefully the Christmas story. Start with Matthew 1 and 2. Then go to Luke 1 and 2. Ask the Lord to show you what He wants you to know from the story. Such as, do you see what Jesus’ main purpose is for even being born as a baby? Or look at how Joseph, who isn’t the real father, handles the situation. Or look at Mary and notice how she gives the praise to God for choosing her.
May you continue to hang in there with the Lord – time with Him is so very precious! How He loves to hear from you!

Paul Harvey, a famous radio news broadcaster, shares his rendition of the Christmas story.   Short and poignant. Worth sharing with your children.

https://youtu.be/S_aeYN1CBt4birds-in-snow

Merry Christmas and God’s glorious blessings to each of you!!!

Hey! Unto you a child is born!

It’s all Beejai’s fault. My all time favorite blogger of The River Walk has prompted me to write this response to his series  “Twenty-five songs of Christmas.” In Song #7 – “Angels We Have Heard on High” he talks about how he would prefer another word than “sweetly” to describe the angels’ singing. I agree. If, as the Scriptures indicate, the heavens were filled with the mighty angels proclaiming the birth of the Son of God, surely they wouldn’t be “sweetly” singing as if they were cooing a baby to sleep! They made some noise! Loud noise! They woke the shepherds up! They frightened them!

It does seem like we have sweetened up the whole Christmas story over the centuries with saccharine images and messages. We’ve watered down the story  to a comfortable, safe milk toast middle class America in the 50’s view.

After reading Beejai’s very well-written blog,  I picked up my all-time favorite Christmas story, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson to freshen up my memory of how six street-smart kids learned of the Christmas Story and took it out of its starched stuffy church play and into believable characters!the-best-christmas-pageant-ever-cover

Singer, song-writer and author, Michael Card said that there are stories in the Bible that should bother you. Bother in the sense of mystery, of not making any sense. It bothered the Herdman children that Joseph and Mary were led to the back of the inn to the barn to stay the night they arrived in Bethlehem, even though she was pregnant (as opposed to “great with child.”) And, they learned to their complete horror, that Mary had nothing to lay her new born baby in but a feed trough! “We laid Gladys in the bureau drawer ,” Imogene volunteered. It bothered them that the gifts the Wise Men brought were “not practical.” What is the baby going to do with oils? they had cried out in alarm. We get a ham every year from the fire department.

What makes this story so timeless to so many of us is that there truly are children all around us who have absolutely no idea what the real meaning of Christmas is. They see Santa Claus’s everywhere that they’re supposed to believe in, sitting right beside a plastic nativity scene with figurines all dressed in some centuries old costumes that have no meaning to them and some are told at church that they’re supposed to believe in them. Really? Why, they wonder. The Herdman’s had not been taken to church all their lives. They demanded that the  director of the Christmas play tell them the story. And so much of it bothered them. Did it bother the rest of the church children who had heard the story all their lives, that Mary had to lay her baby in a feed trough? Did they get that the Angel of the Lord, played by Gladys, broke through the pre-school angels from the back of the stage that night and hollered out, “Hey! Unto you a child is born?”

We who’ve been around awhile think we know the story and the way it’s supposed to be told as if it was a layout for Southern Living Magazine. Everything in its crisp,starched, perfect, most proper place. But not people friendly. Made to be a picture to just look at but not be moved by.  The Herdman children remind me to look at the story from a fresh “I never heard the story before” approach and consider that Jesus was indeed born for us. All of us. Into this very unfair, imperfect world to bring us His salvation from our own sins and to love us just as we are. I believe He came! I want to know the child who was born! Thank you, Barbara Robinson, for bringing the Herdman’s to life and to question what really happened that night so long ago. Hey! Unto YOU a child is born!cast-of-best-christmas-pageant-ever