Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Past...a Trap or a Lesson?

The Past…A Trap or a Lesson?

This year my plan was to write a letter telling those who might not know, what has been going on in our lives. You know what kind of letter I’m talking about. You got one from your brother’s wife’s aunt who lives in Toledo and in it she described in detail her cat’s emergency surgery to get the giant hairball out of its esophagus. Ah…now you remember. And I may still do that. But, I had a thought. An “ah ha” moment if you will.

Why would I send a letter to people who have no idea, and probably don’t care, what happened in our lives this past year? I mean, if they did care they would probably already know…right? And in writing that letter, am I just giving myself bragging rights? My dearest hubby started my brain down this path, so don’t get mad at me if you write a letter every year. It’s not my fault! Ok…I take full responsibility…send all the hate email to ummm…I just cancelled my email account!

No, seriously though, most of the people I would send one to really don’t know anything about us. They may speculate. They may talk behind our backs and wonder what we are doing since moving to the “great north.” They may wait for the day when we move back with our tails between our legs, heads hung in shame so they can say “told you so.” Then again, they might not give us the time of day, never wonder, never speculate and never gossip. Who knows? We don’t. We never hear from them, which is why they know nothing about us and nothing about our previous year. Of course, we know nothing about them either. We never call. Guilty!
Philippians 3:13 &14 reads: 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
This has become one of my favorite Bible verses. This not only gives me permission, but compels me to live in the present while setting goals for my future. I do believe we can learn from our past. There are many lessons to take from previous endeavors, both good and bad. But, we are not to dwell there. The past is gone. The past is a trap that keeps us from reaching our todays and our tomorrows. Today is where it’s at. Tomorrow is where we are going.
So, if I write a letter, I am going to send it to those people who, I believe, are truly interested in where we are today. These are the ones I want to cry with me, laugh with me and dance with me. I want them to be the ones who celebrate life with me and hold me up when trials come. We may not talk as much as we’d like. We may live miles apart. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, they love me.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Brings You Joy This Christmas Season?

I posted a question on my facebook page. What brings you joy at this time of year. I heard many answers but the majority centered on their faith in Jesus Christ and family and friends. Whether it was watching children opening their gifts, or simply being with loved ones during a special time, most of my readers enjoy the closeness of relationships over gifts, food, treats, shopping or any of the other activities that are common at this time of year.

For me personally, there are so many things that bring me joy this Christmas season. I love to serve others and many times I do that through cooking and baking. It is one of the ways I show love. I realize that is not looked upon positively in this day and age, yet I can’t seem to relinquish this method of loving people. So, at Christmas, I bake. I mean, I really bake. I have made homemade turtles, frosted cut out cookies, gingerbread men, peanut butter cookies, shortbread cookies, probably fifty dozen in all. And I am still feeling the need to bake more. I make up trays and I love giving these treats as gifts.

One tradition my family enjoys is the singing of The Twelve Days of Christmas. We laugh so hard we cry. Trying to remember every day in the correct order has become something of an obsession. We usually get it right…after a try or two and lots of laughter. And, we always sing it while traveling. It’s the rule.

Our Christmas celebration takes place on Christmas Eve. We will attend our churches Christmas Eve service then have steak, chicken and shrimp fondue, smoked bacon and cheese fondue and chocolate fondue (duh!). We will watch a Christmas movie and open gifts at midnight. Christmas day is a day of complete relaxation. We will watch movies all day and eat really easy stuff. After sleeping in that is.

In the midst of all the preparation, plans, hustle and bustle, what I am most thankful for is that God became flesh and walked among us. That Jesus was born in a manger. That he cried at his mother’s knee and pulled the puppy’s ears. That He toddled around his home while his mother sewed and his father read the Word. I am so thankful that He grew into a young man intent on doing the business of His Heavenly Father. That He learned a trade from His earthly father. That He did the bidding of His mother, even though it wasn’t His time. That He grew into a man who experienced temptation and yet overcame. That he had compassion. That He wept. I will always be thankful for Him dying on a cross, taking my every sin with Him when he went. That death could not defeat Him. That He sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for me. That He is coming again for me, His bride, to take me in His arms and call me His own. That I will live eternally with Him in perfect glory and His love for me will never diminish or be replaced by another. That I am forever His.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Teaser: Prologue of new book


There were days when he moved silently, almost as if he were invisible, watching every move she made. This was one of those days.
The children sat at the table, eating their breakfast and she was standing at the kitchen counter, making his lunch. She spread the last bit of mayonnaise on his sandwich when he grabbed a fistful of her hair, weaving her long dark tresses through his fingers, tightening.
Making her listen, he forcefully whispered in her ear “Did I tell you to put mayonnaise on my sandwich?”
The pain tore through her skull and she fought the threatening tears. She shook her head no. Even though he’d had mayonnaise on his sandwiches for the past seven years of marriage, no, he did not tell her to make it that way today. She managed a slight whisper “I’m sorry, it won’t happen again”.
He used her hair to propel her face forward into the open face sandwich. “Let this be a reminder to you. You do nothing without asking me first. Do you understand?”
She nodded, trying to breathe as both her mouth and nose pressed into the bread, the sticky white condiment quickly filling the open spaces.
He yanked her head up, turning her to face the children, who watched with open curiosity, “Look at your mother kids; doesn’t she look ugly with mayonnaise on her face?”
The youngest, being two and finding humor with most anything, pointed and began to giggle. The five year old followed suit. Only the eight year old remained quiet. She stared at her mother for a moment then grabbed her school bag and headed for the door. The five year old ran to catch up.
When everyone had left for the day and the two year old was busy playing with toys, the woman sank to the floor and cried tears that flowed from the depths of her soul.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Out of the Mouth of Babes

If I pay attention, I can always tell if my son is about to say something that isn’t appropriate. For instance, one day while we were sitting in the waiting room at a medical office, he was staring rather hard at a really, and I do mean really, old couple. Maybe if I hadn’t of been so sick, I would have caught him before the inevitable happened. Then again, we wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t of been so sick, so we were kind of in a catch twenty two.

He looked intently at the gentleman, who was hunched over and walking very slowly. My son took it all in and voiced exactly what he was thinking. “That guy is really old. He is about ready to go see God.” Now, I suppose that is a polite way of stating the obvious. I mean, he was really old. My son was not purposefully being rude. He wasn’t trying to be hurtful. He simply observed and he reacted.

How does a parent explain to a six year old appropriate speech? I mean, we are just getting the basics of appropriate behavior under control, at least some of the time. I know all of us as parents have countless stories of our kids saying the right thing at the wrong time. We get embarrassed over them speaking the truth. Being polite means we only say certain things certain ways. I admit there are times I wish I did not have inhibitions about stating the truth, up front and without apologies. In this politically correct world that is not an acceptable behavior. We might offend someone.

The Bible does tell us in Psalm 40:10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.

It seems to me this verse is the opposite of being politically correct. How about you? I will not hide my righteousness in my heart? To me that means, I should be sharing my faith. I should be sharing the gospel and the goodness of God. I should be showing the love of Christ and the salvation that only He can give. I should be speaking truth.

Does this mean I should make an announcement if a really, really old guy walks by me? Ah no, there are still some thoughts that should remain thoughts. But it does mean when important truths need to be spoken, we should pray and seek God’s will. If He is leading us, if our words are used to bring life, then we must speak.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cleaning House

On Friday of this past week, I subjected my physical body to a good cleansing. I don’t mean my daily shower or my personal grooming habits. I am talking about the inside, the parts I can’t see, those that work behind the scenes. The parts that keep our body operating; the liver, the kidneys, yeah…those parts that you can’t reach with a loofah, need a good cleansing every once in a while too.

There are times that getting positive results come from doing something that isn’t particularly pleasant. For instance, many people do not like exercising, yet, exercising is very good for us. In my experience above, I had to drink a very nasty concoction that left a bad taste in my mouth for the better part of 24 hours. It wasn’t a fun experience, but it was very good for me. I feel better. I feel healthier. It was worth the unpleasantness. Because of it, I want to eat better and treat myself with more respect.

If our physical bodies need cleansing, how much more do our spiritual bodies need soaping? My thoughts are not always Godly. My actions do not always portray the will of God for my life. My tongue does not always speak life. My heart does not always love. My actions often times give me away. I am a sinner, yet, I am saved by grace. I thank God daily that He loves me enough to show me the error of my ways.

Our children can attest to the fact that discipline doesn’t feel good. If we remember back to our childhoods, we know from personal experience that discipline hurts. Yet, we know that it is necessary. Without discipline, our children will not learn right from wrong. If we fail to do our job as parents, the ones that God has entrusted to us will have a harder time becoming the men and women God has called them to be.

Hebrews 12:6 states: “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” It doesn’t feel good getting disciplined by God, does it? I know. I have been the recipient of a holy “spanking” more than once. God desires for me to “clean” house. With His help I will think Godly thoughts. I will listen to His bidding and act accordingly. I will choose to speak life. I will choose to love. I will choose to live a holy life, submitted and obedient to the Holy Spirit. I know there will be times that things get messy. I also know that God will be with me, enabling me to clean up the cobwebs and dust, making my home fit for a King.