Tuesday, December 31, 2013

ANOTHER YEAR CLOSER TO MY ETERNAL HOME

Another year has flown by and today is my annual reflection of How I lived this gift of earthly time and --what a wonderful sense of humor God has.  A time when I acknowledge--the good-the bad--the ugly---and with a mark in time at midnight tonight---VOW to close this chapter and look forward to the clean sheet to begin the next chapter.

The year began with the need for a biopsy--remember that picture---one of the best looking men I have ever seen---sweet on top of that--as my doctor--strapped to a table on my stomach --quite the picture of beauty and grace--he was NOT changing my oil or rotating my tires---BUT the entire experience bordered on hysterical.  I kept the sweet friend that went with me laughing uncontrollably all the way home describing this fun outing!



I have had the fun of once again packing everything--with further downsizing-and moving 300 miles.  I am down to 1 of everything-plate,cup,bowl, glass--you will be glad to know I kept a change of underwear. It was reminiscent of the Clampetts move to Beverly Hills---WELL their drive into the city in their jalopy--NOT the mansion with the concrete pond.  Here I am finally living my dream of living in a "Big City".  I have learned the lesson that it is NOT smart to live on the edge of a university campus.  Noisy would be an understatement.  It has caused an increase in prayer time for our coming generation.  These people will be in charge of the nation during my golden years!




Our annual hiking trip proved to be a lesson in life concerning need for cardio and strength training.  I also took my son in law out of the will when his tent leaked in the rain and bitter cold.  God's little gift to soothe my disappointment was the "Nitty Gritty Dirt Band" concert and spending a couple of evenings with the man in a skirt having an interesting conversation.  Bottom line is NEVER believe your hiking friends when they tell you it is not a big deal as they run up the mountain.




After months of looking, I finally found the cowboys/girls here in the Wild-Wild West.  While attending the Mustang Million show with Ruston friends visiting, we saw every shape, form, and size of cowboy and cowgirl.  The West is alive and kicking here in Texas---you just have to know where to look!  I was so inspired I bought a pair of cowgirl boots.




Following a brutally hot summer, God got a little snicker when he sent a full fledged ice storm for five days.  I learned it is NOT a good thing to cook a big pot of chili for one person to consume.  I have the two pints I froze in the beginning of the process well hidden in the freezer---STILL cannot stand the sight of them.



God and I have laughed together at life in the "Big City", but He has also shown me His faithfulness.  It has NOT been easy moving--but just as my marriage ending was not easy---He is by my side--walking with me---proving Himself faithful and loving me beyond my wildest dream as He teaches me and continues to work on my sanctification.  He has placed me in a church with wonderful teaching, He has given me a new small group to begin the growth of fellowship with, He has placed me under inspired teaching of His Word in Bible Study, and I am beginning the slow process of making friends.  He has given me a precious little girl to tutor and mentor in an inner city school.   My homesickness is beginning to get better---He" heals all wounds.




Perhaps the greatest blessing God has given me this year has been the outlet of my writing.  I wrote my first book--in an effort to remind myself of how He was redeeming my heartbreak and to share with others the only Hope.  He has changed the direction of my blog--from me to what HE is doing and teaching me.  He has given me a huge heart for the broken, disenchanted, lonely, and hurting.  How many times in the past year has He allowed me to testify to what He has done in my life and the promises He has made to all of us. My most important lesson this year has been the reminder to trust in Him and remember the Hope for tomorrow found only in Him---





The Answer is ALWAYS Jesus! 

Happy New Year, Dear Friends
As We Close Out This Year
Remember The Blessings
And Look To His Great Love For Each Of Us!

"The Lord Almighty has sworn,
Surely, as I have planned, so it will be.
and as I have purposed, so it will stand."
Isaiah 14:24



Monday, December 30, 2013

ONLY FOR THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING--

I recently reread Hinds' Feet On High Places and last night clear as a bell, God pointed me to the prophet Habakkuk.  Early this morning, I reread the book Habakkuk and marveled at God touching me with revelation.  Lately I have turned over and over in my mind all that are in pain, suffering, lost, lonely--subjected to the consequences of our fallen world.  My prayer list grows and grows each and every day knowing each of you desperately need and desire to be prayed for.  It leads back to the age old question~WHY?~





Habakkuk and Job both questioned, "Where are you God?".  HE IS HERE!  He is also reminding us, "The righteous will live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). I wrote a friend this very week and reminded her, "Yes, our lives do not look anything like we thought they would, but that is where trust must come in."  I trust that all things happen for a reason and the end result of all that reason is to ultimately glorify God.

You know what has caused you to suffer pain, despair, desperation, or perhaps all-God knows you are suffering too.  The Psalmist promises us God counts our tears and in Hinds'Feet we are reminded-

"The heart knoweth its own sorrow and there are times when, like David, it is comforting to think that our tears are put in a bottle and not one of them forgotten by the one who leads us in paths of sorrow.” 




When my heart begins to doubt--when my soul cries out--I am always led back to the quote, "ALL things work for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to HIS purpose."  It is all for HIS PURPOSE.  GRAB on to TRUST--hold on for dear life--remember the words as ordained by Him--LONG AGO


"Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails,
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
YET I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is MY strength;
he make my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on to the heights"

Habakkuk 3:17-19

My trust is in Him---there is a reason and a purpose---but for now--he gives me and YOU- Hinds' Feet to take us to the high places-----and REJOICE in HIM!



Sunday, December 29, 2013

FOLLOW YOUR STAR

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My Daddy was an accomplished musician--playing the piano as well as one of the horns.  He not only read music, but also played beautifully by ear.  One of the traits I have noted in many talented musicians is their love of many genres of music.  I was exposed to a wide range of music at an early age--and to this day enjoy almost all music including Blue Grass.  My early introduction to Blue Grass came from a local Blue Grass band in my home town---I do not remember the name of the band--but do remember the "Tucker Brothers" all playing in it.  All of this came flashing back when I listened to the Judd's sing this song of the Star that led the Wise Men to the New Born King long ago.  Rich harmonies and toe tapping melodies reminded me of the miracle once again of His willingness to live among us and the rich story of His birth




When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
Matthew 2:10-11

Saturday, December 28, 2013

LUCKY GIRL

This is a story written and published in 2007.  I really miss the sweet dogs I had for all of those years.  Lucky Girl was the last in a long line of dogs---loved them all and shed many a tear when I lost them.

Lucky was out for her midnight stroll that she took every night. Once the humans had gone to bed and all of the lights had been turned off, Lucky felt like her duties of watching her family could be delayed for a little while. This was Lucky’s favorite time of the day, her time to sniff around the neighborhood and make sure all was well. It was a silent ritual with the only sound being the soft padding of her paws as she made the rounds. The light from the moon lit her path, but even in the pitch dark her eyes adjusted and she could make her way down the rutted paths that she trotted down every night, no matter what the weather. Her ears were perked up for any sound and her nose was pointed into the wind following the familiar smells as they drifted through the night air.

The house next door was quiet as Lucky approached it. She had to be careful of her steps since the kids that lived in this house left their toys in different places everyday. Lucky made her way to the garbage cans for a sniff. Human’s garbage told a lot about them and their lives. As Lucky smelled the tall green cans, she noticed the broken toys thrown into the bins beside the cans. There had been an entire new batch of toys that appeared a few nights before and the kids had been busy playing with all of them since then. It seemed the toys in the bin were a combination of toys that Lucky had sniffed many times and a few of the new toys. The house full of kids was always active and fun to play with, but you had to be careful since they could play very roughly. Lucky always picked her time to go by this house, since it was always best to trot over when the kids had already been playing for a while, they didn’t play quite so rough after they had been out for a while. There was lots of squealing, laughing, shouting, and sometimes crying from this house, but Lucky enjoyed her infrequent visits. One more sniff before moving on and Lucky detected the left over fish sticks and chicken nuggets that she often smelled in this garbage. These humans always had fish and chicken and sometimes macaroni and cheese in their garbage. Lucky was not interested in these left overs tonight, since she had been well fed by her humans and it was a lot of trouble to turn over the cans.

Lucky trotted on down the path to the next house and found lights still on and loud music coming from the room high up in the house. This house was always full of lights late at night, but if you went by anytime in the morning it was quiet. The garbage cans were full of tin soda cans and cardboard boxes full of pizza crust. The cans were always full of soda cans and often had cardboard or styrophone boxes with the smell of food on them, but almost always empty of food. Lucky did not understand these humans. Most of the humans in her world were out and gone early in the day and came home when it was dark, but these humans had different patterns. The big humans followed the same pattern as all of the others, but there were humans who lived in this house who stayed inside during the daylight time and were noisy and busy during the nighttime hours. This was difficult to figure out, but Lucky did occasionally enjoy the midnight game with the ball.

It was time to move on down the street and the next house was dark and quiet. Lucky approached the cans knowing that she would not detect any smell. These humans had garbage with no smell and Lucky was curious about that. Just to see what was going on; Lucky had turned the can over one night. She had discovered once she tore through the first big sack that there were more sacks inside. Upon tearing into those sacks she found each sack contained different things. Some sacks had only paper, some sacks had only cans that had all been washed out and had no odor, some sacks had food that had been carefully wrapped and taped up. These bundles of food were very difficult to get into since they were so tightly bound with the tape. Lucky did not understand these humans and their sacks in sacks, so she just gave a quick sniff and trotted on down the street. Some things were more trouble than they were worth and this house with its neatness and order was boring and empty of any interesting smells.

The next house was dark, but for some strange reason as soon as Lucky trotted up to the cans, a light came on-right over the cans. The cans were all by large stakes that had chains attached to the cans. You were lucky to even get a sniff at this house before one of the humans came running out of the door yelling at you. Some humans were just not very friendly and better avoided. Lucky always went by, but never stopped since she knew she was not welcome.

As Lucky began to head back home, she decided upon one last stop at the house across the street from her humans. These were her favorite humans on her stroll everyday. She knew she would not have to sniff around the garbage here, since these humans always left her a snack by the back door. Tonight Lucky was really lucky, the bowl had a steak bone left from the cookout earlier in the evening. Lucky had smelled the delicious aroma when she was tending to her humans. She knew that at the end of her walk tonight there would be a treat in the bowl, since they always left Lucky a treat. When these humans were outside, they always had a friendly word and a pat on the head for Lucky. They were her favorite humans, except for her family.

Lucky took the bone and headed home. She slowly circled on her warm blankets getting just the right spot for chewing her bone and maybe taking a nap. It was time to guard her family and listen for any strange noises from the evening. The night would be quickly over and tomorrow would bring another busy day. Lucky relished  the bone and then slowly nodded off to sleep. The neighborhood became quiet and still and Lucky dreamed doggie dreams of being indeed a “Lucky Dog.”

Friday, December 27, 2013

A PEARL OF GREAT PRICE


Those who know me well--will tell you that I am not hung up on possessions and almost anything I have if you asked me, I would give to you.  One of the things I cherish deeply is my mother's pearl necklace.  A timeless piece of jewelry, every time I wear it, I find myself reaching up and stroking those beautiful pearls and remembering.  Is it a piece of great expense--I really cannot tell you, but I can tell you it is of immeasurable value to me.

How are pearls created?  An oyster has a wound---to heal the wound it releases substances which create a pearl sac around the wound to aid in the healing process.  Without the wound, the pearl would never secrete the two substances necessary to form the pearl sac--and with time layer after layer of pearl is built to create this beautiful stone.  This thing of great beauty would have never been created without first the wound.



So it is with our hearts---a thing of great and unimaginable beauty can be created after a great and painful wound to the very source of our being.  God provides the balms that heal our hearts and the resulting beauty of the healed heart is a reflection of the Great Physician's work. With each re-opening of the wound, another layer of balm is applied and the resulting gem grows larger and more beautiful.  Our heart begins to take the shape of the Savior's love and is buffed to a high sheen with application after application of grace.


Perhaps the reason that Jesus tells a parable using a pearl of great price is for this very reason.  He knew what  was necessary to create this beautiful gem.  A beautiful pearl is only created after a great wound and the deeper the wound--the more beautiful the pearl.  The Master also told us to not cast our pearls before swine--I finally get that---do not give your heart to things of this world for they will tear it to pieces and cast it aside.   I cherish my pearls and my heart--both are priceless treasures--which belong to Him.


45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:45-46


Thursday, December 26, 2013

IT'S A CHOICE

With age comes the wisdom that love is a verb and a choice that you make each and every day.  Love is not infatuation--attraction that hormones produce.  It is not about the temporal--worldly--flesh centered media driven concept of love.  In all truth --love--is what God is trying to show us and teach us.  His relationship with us is the master key to what love is.  He is the master architect--creator of love and His master design for the perfect love ---He desires for us to look at --learn from --and emulate  as we love Him and those He places in our lives.



Bottom line is that we ALL are unlovable at some point.  THAT is when the conscious decision is not just necessary--but absolutely vital.  Even the "Beautiful People" can be not only less than attractive, but down right repulsive.  The Father shows us how to love those that are less than attractive, those with bad habits, those that are repulsive--He loves them all and us--warts, stink, sloth, and sin--He loves us--beyond our wildest dreams--by choice.  He created us in His image--with the intent to love us--KNOWING we would fail Him---Yet HE Loves Us---because it would be contrary to His character to not love us.



The One whose very character is love--created us---in HIS image---SO we are created in the image of love.  We are a created being --made in His image--AND therefore we should reflect His character of love.  What happens?  Why don't we look like Him--Why is it difficult for us to love as He does?  We place ourselves on the throne--replacing Him--putting our wants and desires before His good plan for us--His model of what love is---




And then--we have made a choice--but that choice has nothing to do with the Godly love He desires for us--it instead becomes a sad reflection of the world and all that is broken in it.  I pray everyday--"Help me make the choice to love as You love me."




"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."
I John 4:16

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS

THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS----JESUS

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Friend, Lisa, shared this on FB--I had seen it some time ago and forgotten it---it tells the story so simply and wonderfully--through the eyes of a child:




WISHING YOU ALL CHRISTMAS SHALOM AND BLESSINGS!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

CHRISTMAS ON PEACHTREE STREET

This is a story I wrote and published on my blog in 2008--my writing has changed a great deal since then as has my life---BUT the sentiments are the same.  I hope it helps to prepare your heart as we approach the celebration of the greatest gift ever given.

The air was brisk and the sky was clear and it was time for my annual Christmas Eve stroll through the neighborhood. For the 25 years that I had lived on Peachtree Avenue, this had been my tradition-to walk the sidewalks of my familiar home ground and reflect upon the wonder of Christmas and the neighbors that surround our home. Through the years, no matter what the weather, I had come to look forward to the end of the whirl of the season and relish the stillness that the late evening brings with it.

As I turned out of my drive and headed down the block, the first house I came to was the Walker’s home. The Walker’s were a new family to the block and had a house full of children of all sizes from babies to young teens. The yard was strewn with bicycles and toys and there was a constant state of disarray as you passed by from day to day. Christmas though was a magical time for the Walkers and their offspring. Every window was bright with lights. There were inflatable Christmas decorations in the yard and icicle lights hanging from every eave of the house. The cypress tree growing in the front yard was full of colored lights. The house was so decorated that you felt like the ground might collapse from the weight of it all. I had come to love it! When they first moved in and began decorating in this extravagant style-I was overwhelmed and thought it way over the top. The one year that they missed decorating, when Mrs. Walker was sick, had left a hole in Christmas. The hustle and bustle from the house next door was a sweet reminder of Christmases past and I loved passing by and soaking in the energy that literally haloed the house. The Walkers and all of their children were a sweet page in the story of life and Christmases past.

A couple of houses past the Walker’s I passed the Taylors. The Taylors had grown children that had moved from their home town and started lives of their own, following their graduation from college. Mrs. Taylor loved Christmas and all of the warmth of the season. Known for being the Martha of the neighborhood, Mrs. Taylor’s decorations and parties were renowned. Everyone loved getting an invitation to their annual Christmas Open House. The children came home every year for Christmas and the sense of family permeated from the house. The Taylors had begun preparing for Christmas and actually gotten all of the traditional decorations in their place and then Christmas seemed to have ceased at their home. Mrs. Taylor had become sick and surgery was required. The diagnosis was overwhelming and a daunting fight was in the future. The Taylors only wish for Christmas this year was for restored health and freedom from pain. Christmas was still looked forward to by the Taylors, but the things that once seemed so important had now taken a back seat to other pressing needs. The Christmas prayers that flowed from their home this year had taken on a new importance and family had now become the focus of each Taylor. This season of celebration would be subdued, but the family was rallying around Mrs. Taylor and their love and support would be her best Christmas gift.

As I continued down the street with the street lights twinkling in the evening, I came to a house that seemed to rock and vibrate with the spirit of Christmas. The Blacks had lived in the neighborhood since before we had moved here. A particularly close family the Blacks had raised their four children in this house and now the Black children and all of their children were home for this Christmas. Mr. Black had been ill since late in the spring and seemed to be losing ground in his fight for restored health. Mrs. Black had determined that she would have each and every inch of their home decorated for the holidays and it was an absolute wonderland when you entered the door. I am not sure where they had put all of those children and grandchildren, but they were determined to be together this holiday. A little discomfort was a small price to pay for the feeling of being united and celebrating this wonderful time of the year. Both of the Blacks had been elated when the entire clan was able to gather from far ends of the world and all over the country. The house was noisy and seemed full of bodies in every nook and cranny, but what a delight. The Blacks and their offspring knew how to celebrate and the fun and merriment filled the air. This was indeed a wonderful Christmas for all of the Blacks, even in the midst of illness. The telling of the Christmas story would take on new meaning this year as they all clung to the comfort that only family can give.

The last house on the block, before I made my turn to go home, was dark. Mrs. Conner was alone now since her beloved husband had passed away a few years back. The time had passed for much decorating at Christmas and the only real sign of Christmas was the Christmas cards on the mantle of her fireplace. The Conner children and their children were spread out all over the nation. They all lead busy lives and had important jobs with pressing needs. The years had brought a distance, not only in miles, but also in connection. Mrs. Conner loved to tell you of the years when her children were home and the memories of wonderful Christmases served as her solace during the holidays. Christmas had become a time of reminiscing of years gone and the sweetness of memories of family and friends in days of yore. The house was dark, but Mrs. Conner was warm with the memory of a life full of love and laughter and special Christmases well spent.

As I headed back to the warmth of my chair by the fire, I reflected on this special time of the year. The years had brought many Christmases and many stages of living life. There had been years of babies, toys, bicycles, and special Christmas Eve Communion Services. There had been teenage children with new cars, electronic gadgets, and plans of their own. There have been new family members including children’s spouses and the best of all-grandchildren. The neighborhood had grown into a reflection of life and all of the stages we pass through as we travel down the road. Once again, as I turned into the drive, I said a prayer in thanks for each and every season of life and the neighbors that surrounded us. God is indeed good and Christmas is a most special and blessed time of the year. As I opened the door and entered our home, my mind shot back to that magical phrase from a story oft told, “Merry Christmas to All and to all a Good Night.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

ANNUAL CHRISTMAS LETTER


Another year has rolled around and I have received many of your Christmas letters and cards--though I must admit with moving I seem to have dropped off many of your Christmas card lists.  Perhaps you are like me and just could not seem to get it together and get those cards out the door or also like me  are still trying to figure out where the heck I am.  I am always amazed at how well you seem to be doing and wonder at what point my life will look perfect so I can also send out a glowing letter .  You seem to live in Lake Wobegon--where all the women are good looking and all the children are well above average.  I still live in "Real World", but am slowly becoming accustomed to the place I seem to stay.

Many of you have reported your many athletic accomplishments--marathons, triathlons, cross-fit goals met, and bicycle races finished.  I seem to have slipped into the Land of Sloth when it comes to cardio fitness.  I stopped running last December with the birth of the fifth grand and a few weeks of helping his Mom.  I continued walking until July--and then fell off that wagon also with the climb up the stairs to my apartment being the totality of my cardio workouts .  I do give a brief nod at fitness while taking a weight lifting class--  Strong & Slow--that is my new mantra!

The annual hiking trip was quite the adventure.  Hauling 40 pounds on my back at 13,000 feet proved to be bit much.  The only thing that probably got me off that mountain was the leaky tent--being wet and cold all night sent me scurrying back down to a warm shower and soft bed.  It was still a wonderful adventure AND I learned that men that wear skirts can be quite manly!

The move to Fort Worth was reminiscent of the covered wagons of long ago---things hanging from the sides and dragging along behind as we rolled down the highway.  Paring down all the stuff accumulated over a life time has been quite freeing.  Most things I never think of or miss---it would be nice if I knew what I did with my coats though!  

Moving into a college neighborhood has been quite enlightening and educational.  My vocabulary has expanded--usually in the middle of the night--who knew the suffix    -ing-   should always be placed at the end of profanity!  My efforts to keep the world green have centered around picking up the beverage bottles up and down the street the morning after parties.  In an effort to expand my love of art, I viewed the neighbor's pumpkin carving contest--only to find the display centered on eroticism in the pumpkin medium.  The realization, through watching the coeds, that the world of fashion now centers on tights and big shirts has found my wardrobe woefully inadequate!

Officially becoming a citizen of the great state of Texas was quite the experience.  Who knew proving you were born and where you stay could be so difficult.  After proving that I knew the Texas Pledge, could sing the Texas song, and owned a pair of cowgirl boots, they finally gave me a Texas drivers license AND taught me the secret handshake.  They are quite proud of their state over here.  No laughing when you mention the Great State of Texas--unlike Louisiana, you are expected to stand up and salute anytime the Lone Star flag is in sight.  The fact that I have a relative that fought in the Texas Revolution is MUCH more important here than the American Revolution Fighting Relative OR the one that came over on the Mayflower.  Life began with the formation of the GREAT STATE of TEXAS!
  
The new climate I am enjoying here in the Great West has been quite the change.  No more worries about high humidity---it is the super high temperatures that cause distress.  With no moisture in the air, it is similar to living in a de-humidifier and slowly becoming a piece of jerky.  NOT TO WORRY--though the weather took a drastic turn to ICE this winter.  This led to the discovery that I am not talented in ice skating AND FIVE days of chili will push anyone over the culinary edge.

My move and new adventure of living in Texas has led to a different Christmas, but as in the past three things remain constant:

Joy--the constant joy that fills my life--the joy of my great love for all of you, the joy of a good laugh, and the joy of Him walking by my side.

Peace--the peace of knowing that He has a plan for me--a plan to bring Him good pleasure and great glory--the path has all been marked out and as I seek Him, He will reveal it to me.

Hope--the hope based upon the knowledge of Who He is and the birth of a baby long ago--that today and tomorrow are no surprise to Him-and He will continue to use me as I look to Him for direction--hope based upon knowing how my story ends.

I wish you a Merry Christmas, Dear Friends, whether your life is abundantly blessed and filled with accomplishments and joy, or you, like me, struggle with the reality of today while pulling Him close for comfort as you trek down the path.  May the Joy, Peace, and Hope that was born long ago--fill your life and permeate your very being--ensuring you of His great Love for us all. With great fondness I wish you all a 


BLESSED CHRISTMAS!

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
Luke 2:10





Sunday, December 22, 2013

HOW COULD SHE KNOW

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SHE COULD NOT HAVE KNOW THAT STARRY NIGHT LONG AGO-



Saturday, December 21, 2013

A CHRISTMAS STORY-CONCLUSION

The first 3 installments of this story were published: Nov. 30; Dec 7; Dec 14.  Today is the conclusion.

The days slowly drug by in a flurry of assignments and tests as teachers purposefully piled on the work the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.  The teachers all insisted they were on a time schedule for completing assignments, but everyone knew it was a thinly disguised attempt at keeping the level of excitement down.  Holidays brought exuberant spirits and rowdy students and teachers with short tempers.  It was a fine line between excitement and out of control, but with years of experience, the teachers rallied to snap the students back into line.

        All of Emma’s friends spent all of their recess time talking over the coming Christmas holidays and the wonderful plans their families had.  Many of her friends had huge families, all in the local area, and their stories of everyone gathering to feast and celebrate sounded like heaven.  Farm families were often huge families, which led to more aunts and uncles and cousins than she could even imagine.  You had to be very careful what you said about anyone, there was always a a good chance they might be related.  Emma’s family was small.  The few local cousins were grown and gone from home and the cousins from her Mama’s side lived far away.

        School was out for two weeks starting just a little less than a week before Christmas.  With the last day of school came the annual school party.  Emma had drawn the name of a friend and kept her drawing a secret.  She had the perfect gift selected at the local five and dime and could not wait for her friend to discover what Emma had picked out.  Christmas cookies, drinks, candy, singing and fun Christmas games filled the day with very little school work happening. Mr. Bill, her bus driver gave each rider an orange or apple, you got to pick which you preferred.  Her teacher gave each student a candy cane.  The celebration day passed quickly and it was time to ride the bus home and start the two weeks of Christmas vacation.

        Emma and her brothers went home to a quiet, still house with only the tree that Emma had put up.  No wonderful smells from the kitchen in preparation for a huge feast and no gifts under the tree.  The twinkle of the lights as she plugged in the tree was the only brief nod to the magical day.  The days passed slowly as her mother left early for work with a long list on the table of chores to be done.  Emma’s mama believed in keeping everyone busy and out of trouble.  With a long face, Emma tackled the long list and wondered where the was magic?

        The days continued to be cloudy and dreary with a cold wind from the north and an occasional drizzle.  It was too cold to play outside and Emma’s neighborhood friends were all too busy with family celebrations to play.  Curled by the blazing hot fire, Emma read yet another book to pass the time.  Everyday seemed the same as the day before; it could have been June except for the cold of the day.

        Christmas Eve finally arrived and Emma’s thoughts replayed the Christmas memories from years before.  All good memories to be sure, but still left with a hole with the sad realization of what this Christmas without her daddy had ended up being.  There was no going back and the memories would have to fill the void that was huge.  Silent tears fell that bleak Christmas Eve day as Emma prayed for a glimpse of the Christmas miracle of long ago.  The house was silent as they went to bed that Christmas Eve-no chatter, no laughter, and no smells from the kitchen.  It was a Christmas with no magic, only the stillness of the deep dark night surrounded them as their eyes closed in sleep.

        Emma’s eyes slowly opened as Christmas dawned dark and silent.  She pulled on her slippers and robe to run build a fire to ward off the cold.  As she stepped out the door in the frigid of the morn, a miracle---snow covered the ground.  Snow as white as the robes of the angels several inches deep  filled the trees, and blanketed the road.  A beautiful white wonderland of Christmas shown all around with bushes of holly berries adding bright red in the midst of the world in white and the sweet song of birds of many colors flying all around were as sweet as carols sung by angels.   The snow was still falling and as it slowly –silently fell there was a hush of wonder in the early Christmas day.

        As she brought the wood, all covered with snow, back into the house, she looked at the pond down the hill next to the house.  It was frozen with a thick coat of ice.  It was pure white as far as the eye could see—a glorious white Christmas had happened that night.  Running back into the house heading to change into warm clothes, Emma was filled with joyful anticipation of the day  playing in the snow.

        As she rounded the corner and peered at the tree, there were gifts rounding the bottom, under the lights.  What a surprise!  It seems someone mysteriously had dropped off gifts for her family late last night without a word.  Her Mama had heard a knock on the door and opened it to find no one there—only boxes of gifts to place under the tree.  Excited to open any present at all, Emma and her brothers tore into them all.  Games, books and gloves for them all and even a scarf for Mama appeared that day.

        They played in the snow the entire day, running in and out to get warm.  It was a wonderful day filled with fun as they slid down the hill on their improvised sled of cardboard and made a huge snowman –carrot, hat and all.  How strange and unusual to have snow in Louisiana at Christmas, but no one would question how this could be—instead just enjoyed the blessing of the day.

        A warm supper of chili waited as they finally came in at dark.  The aroma from the kitchen reminding them of their hunger as they traipsed in at the end of the day.  A warm fire blazing and hot chocolate before bed after a long exhausting-fun filled day, ended that first Christmas without their sweet Daddy.

        As Emma snuggled under the covers that night and began to say her prayers, it finally occurred to her what had happened.  God had heard her prayers and knew her sorrow.  He gave them the magic of Christmas as only He could.  He reminded her of His great gift long ago of a small sweet baby, while giving her one of the best Christmases ever.  Christmas magic had once again appeared as He answered her prayers and loved her so well while reminding her of His great and deep love for her—with a perfect Christmas day.

Friday, December 20, 2013

FINISHING WELL!

I made a flying trip to Haughton, Louisiana to say goodbye to my sweet--rascally cousin, James Ramsey.  The day was also my sweet youngest grand's first birthday--so I had to make a one day trip---could NOT miss this important milestone for him.  I had a great deal of time for thinking while driving those 500 miles alone.  A day filled with celebrating the beginning of a life with only one year behind Collin and the celebration of the end of James's life of 78 years.  




I always love to hear those stories from friends of my loved ones.  Stories of a very intelligent engineer---who chose to wear blue Dickie overalls everyday once he retired.  What a contrast to the red late model Corvette convertible he drove while tooling around.  A man who knew what he liked and lived without concern for the opinions of others--but was true to who he was.  A man comfortable in the board room of the bank where he served as a board member---who was the parish engineer for his entire career--hob-nobbing with politicians and parish citizens of all descriptions without discrimination--a man of no bias and a heart of gold.  A man well thought of in the community for his entire life--well perhaps with the exception of the time he cut the beloved tree in the middle of the road in the downtown.  A man who loved his wife, children, and grandchildren fully--deeply--faithfully for his entire life.  A man who put his pastor at ease during one of his final visits by telling him I know why you are here--and don't worry Jesus is my Savior.  A man who finished well and who we all celebrated in this final good bye.

In typical James Fashion, he requested one final ride in his beautiful totally restored gold Chevrolet pickup--the ride to be put to rest beside his beloved wife, Gloria.  What a way to leave us!  He always called me "Sis"--and I can hear him now, "Well, Sis, why not take one more ride in style?"  Why not, indeed, James.

 You might ask, "What legacy did James leave his children and grandchildren?"  The wonderful legacy of a red Corvette convertible, a rebuilt gold Chevrolet truck, and most important the knowledge that he had lived life well and with the great respect of a multitude of friends and the community he lived in his entire life.


 Well Done---Good and Faithful Servant!
 




"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' 
Matthew 25:23

Thursday, December 19, 2013

WHY NOT ME?

As I was praying recently, asking God "Why is there so much suffering, pain, sorrow, and trouble in this world."  Praying for all those that I know deeply need to be lifted before His throne, I thought of how many God has placed in my life--who need prayer.




I told my "Small Group" this week, that I never understood the great privilege and sacred responsibility of intercessory prayer until the last few years.  I began to understand how important praying for others was when I could not pray for myself and my Brothers & Sisters in Christ stood in the gap and prayed for me.  I felt each and every prayer as God would reveal through His grace during my suffering the chorus of prayers being lifted on my behalf.  Since I was unable to pray for myself, the oasis of relief and the balm from the pain  came after others intervened and prayed for me.




When I have asked myself the question, "Why me?".  Why am I going through this valley of grief?  Why, Lord, Why?  Would I have ever drawn to the level of intimacy with Him that I now know if not walked this path?  Would I have ever understood the importance of praying for others if I had not experienced the benefits of being prayed for?  Would He ever have gotten my full attention without the experience of the past few years?  




I have changed the question from "Why me?"  to  "Why NOT me?"  Thank you, Lord that you love me enough to pick me!


"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Romans 5:3-5

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE CAST

Do you ever stop and ponder the cast of characters on that long ago night when our King was born?  It is quite a hodge-podge --all walks of life--all social standings--all ages--a unique representation from the world of that day.



A "Blue Collar" carpenter and his young bride to be traveled via donkey to be put on the census--a thinly disguised excuse to make sure everyone was on the tax roll.  They arrive in the small town of Bethlehem late---since they were slowed by the mother to be--perhaps they even hesitated leaving since she was so near her due date.  Due to their late arrival and the  mass of people congregating to be counted--lest the Roman rulers notice their willful disobedience--there was no place to stay.



Knocking on door after door---they finally find an inn-keeper "Business Man" who takes pity or perhaps to just get rid of them--offers them a barn---the building where his animals were housed.  Desperate times call for desperate actions--the barn would have to do.  When you have a wife who is experiencing the pain of childbirth--you best find a place to lite.




A baby is born while the animals looked on.  Was there only young Mary and Carpenter Joseph to greet their new born son?  The scriptures do not give us specifics, so that must not matter.




Angels overcome with joy--sang in the deep night sky with a bright star nearby.  Most were asleep, but the shepherds "Farmers" who were charged with protecting the sheep from the predators who liked to attack in the night heard the heavenly choir. Shepherds were all ages--from very young boys to old men, but they all were invited.   They followed the instructions and arrived to find a small baby and his parents in a lowly barn.




Then from afar--led by a star---came three wise men "Royalty" bearing gifts to bring to the new king--a small baby boy.  Who would imagine such great and wise men as these would appear to see the small baby king disguised as the lowly son of a carpenter?




A strange and diverse group who all witnessed and told the story--all in God's perfect plan.  Surely there were others who knew of that day---but God chose these to eternally live in His Word.  Rich and poor---young and old--laborers and privileged---all fell and worshiped and then spread the word of the arrival of the Messiah as foretold long before.  


Read the Story:  Luke 2: 1-20

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

CELEBRATING YOU!

Today is the anniversary of the celebration that occurred 65 years ago.  I still have the telegram that my Daddy sent my Aunt announcing their new arrival and I can read the words on the page and feel his happiness.  What a treasure!




As I celebrate the day that God selected to begin my trek down the path He had already laid out for me, I am thinking of all of you and I am thankful.




For each and everyone of you who takes the time in your jam packed days to stop and read my thoughts, Thank You.  For every comment, mostly on Facebook but also on the blog, in response--thank you for your encouragement, love, and support.  Thank you for allowing God to use you to remind me of His great love for me.



For those of you who have become followers and were willing to openly state you read my posts, knowing you are waiting has often kept me writing.  I have a great deal of information about how many and who is looking, but your willingness to publicly state you are reading is humbling at the very least.  Thank you.




To all those that read and understood the intent of my book, Thank You for your willingness to support my love for writing.   Thank you for those who were willing to post a review.  Thank you for those who sent private messages telling me how it helped you.  Thank you to those that contributed and labored along side me.  Thank you to those that believe in me, because of your good response, my next book has been begun.



Thank you to my friends and family who have faithfully walked by my side--and not only supported me, but even held me up when I could not stand.  Thank you for listening--Thank you for sitting in silence--Thank you for wisdom.  Thank you for loving me well.


So today--I stop and pause --to celebrate the great blessing of you. WHAT A GIFT AND HUGE BLESSING!   With great fondness and love for each of you---I celebrate the day.


"Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God."
Phillipians 1:3

Monday, December 16, 2013

THREE GIFTS

The King has been born--and all the world rejoices--the day has finally come --the day which all have waited for with expectant hearts--His birth has been announced and all the world celebrates.  Three wise men made a visit and brought Him gifts from afar--gifts of great wonder--all fit for a king---Gold-Frankincense & Myrrh--treasures from their homes. 



If I could take three gifts to lay before his feet--what gifts of great value would I have to offer to a king?  I have no great riches--no drum to play a song---it seems I have nothing that is fit to give a king.




If I could kneel before Him, what would I have to offer. It would not seem to  matter except to the One to whom I offer the gift.  I would kneel and hold out my hands.  My hands offered in service for all those in need.  The poor and the needy and the sick and the suffering --I offer to serve them all with my hands held out to Him.



While kneeling in His presence, I would offer Him my voice to tell His sweet sweet story of grace.  The grace He so freely gave to me--all those years ago.  Beginning with His birth in a lowly manager, His gift to all mankind was becoming man who would pay the price for our sin. He was as our sacrifice.



The final gift--would else could I give Him?  What treasure do I possess that would please Him and show my great love?  My most precious possession-the very core of who I am---I could give Him my heart--the center of who I am.  What could please Him more--what could better demonstrate my awe--what could better exhibit my love--than to present Him with my great-great love--all contained within my heart.





11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Mark 2:11