Thursday, December 31, 2015

A NEW YEAR--FILLED WITH HOPE

Another year draws to a close---and at the stroke of midnight--our calendars will turn over--my post today is for all who are lost in the despair of waning hope.  Those who are spiraling down in the abyss of grief--those who are stuck and cannot seem to move forward from the blackness of depression-  those who have lost the glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.  It would not hurt the rest of you to read it --for who knows you may someday find yourself in this season--but if life is all roses for you--God Bless You In The New Year---and move on to the next blog.



While the entire world celebrates the New Year---do you think you are the only one with not one thing to look forward to?  Do you feel the bleakness of your Christmas followed by dread of the New Year have placed you in the solitary confinement of no hope or joy?  Fear not--as the angels said, I bring you tidings of hope, the assurance of love, and the promise of a future.



I have been where you are---and there are days I fall back into that same place--but I have found hope for my future and the assurance of a legacy in The Word of instruction God gifted us with.  He WILL use all our circumstances for His good purpose.  When my heart tells me -What's the Use---His Word assures me ALL can be used for His glory.  This is no gospel of prosperity--but a reminder of history.  This is no promise of all will be better--but an assurance that JESUS IS ENOUGH! Jesus does not want you necessarily to be happy--Jesus wants you to be obedient.

Piper says it perfectly in this short clip-




Piper is telling us the stark truth of the gospel---life is NOT going to be pretty all the time---BUT in the midst of the darkest of nights--worst of days---unending suffering---JESUS IS ENOUGH!



I rest assured in the knowledge--based upon The Word---that in the midst of the storm---when I am drowning in sorrow---THERE IS THE RAINBOW---called Jesus.  There is the absolute guarantee of my eternal future---because of Jesus.

We too soon forget--the wandering for FORTY years of the Israelites---the suffering of God's own chosen people for generations--the brick making with no straw and the guarantee of punishment--the pain and agony of death upon a cross.  There are NO guarantees of happiness on this earth--but there are promise upon promise of His faithful love and presence as we walk this path.  Read the Psalms----everyday I pull one out and over and over--I find the Psalmist crying in despair--begging for vindication--groaning and moaning under the weight of life---BUT GOD!

I ask you--to stand up---walk out the door---and plant trees----KNOWING you will never sit in the shade of that tree---but KNOWING it will provide shade for future generations---because you were willing to plant that seedling.  Step out in faith---leave behind your worries--your cares---and CLING to Jesus.  HE IS ENOUGH!

I pray your New Year is filled with the abundant joy 
and sure assurance 


JESUS IS ENOUGH!

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

CELEBRATING THE UNKNOWN FUTURE

I have a wonderful Godly friend who told me she had a vision--she saw me standing happily with a cowboy in the future.  I laugh every time we communicate and tell her, "Still NO cowboy!"  



What could there possibly be to celebrate about the future?  The last time I checked my crystal ball was unreliable at best!  SO if you don't know what the future holds---but you know what the past looked like--would you celebrate?  OR would you run for the hills screaming for mercy?



 What if we had the capability of seeing the future---knowing what was coming?  What if we had the ability to know what tomorrow would hold?  How would we handle that information?  Based upon some of my past---I might have climbed into a cave and sealed the entrance.  If we saw the REALLY hard times before they came---how would we react?  God in His infinite wisdom does not allow us to know what tomorrow holds.  I could wake up tomorrow and discover I have a terminal illness--or the loss of a significant loved one--or the collapse of our country--or a million other life events which we think we will not survive.  



BUT---here is what I know---based upon my history---God has ALWAYS been by my side.  When hard times come---I am most aware of His presence.  I have loved and lost---watched loved ones pass on---had great calamities of many kinds occur---and survived---BECAUSE of His faithful love.  He has held me--sustained me--provided my every need--when I thought I could not take another breath.  He has been my shelter---NOT the cave I would have crawled in had I known what was coming.



AND MOST IMPORTANT---had I known the future---and crawled in the cave out of fear--look at all I would have missed.  The REALLY wonderful times--the blessings of life---the happiness and joy He has lavished upon me.

SO---I celebrate the future---in the sure and certain knowledge there will be many blessings--much joy


AND the faith and hope--certainty--that when the hard times come--and they will---He will carry me through them with His faithful presence and provision.  I celebrate the future--that God holds in His hand!


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

STILL CELEBRATING!

I always loved those assignments-NOT-while attending school which said,

"In 100 words or less---describe yourself"

AS IF---I can't describe getting out of the bed in the morning in less than 100 words---AND I REALLY AM a woman of few words---I PROMISE!

So what does my present look like and what is worth celebrating today?



To start with---



I am still above ground and most of the time I am vertical.  Disclaimer--this was written a few days before publishing---SO I might be wrong.

Not ONLY am I still alive and kicking----BUT




I take NO prescribed medications!  NOW--perhaps you thump your nose at this---ask around--most of my peers are on some form of medication!  
AND to top that off----



I have all my own teeth--not even a partial ----DON'T LAUGH---this is more common than you would imagine! 

AND




I have managed to avoid even a hint of fame and all the problems it causes.  Call me---A Wallflower!  I blend in with the best of them!  Watch the media--this is REALLY something to celebrate!

And then there is the miracle of raising three children



while doing all the wrong things-including putting them to bed on their stomach with cover.

And SOMEHOW



I have avoided ever breaking a bone--even though I have spent a great deal of time scraping my rear end off the trail and roads I have dared to travel.

YES---I am celebrating the present good health, great friends & family, and giant laugh at life----It does not look much like I thought it would---BUT I somehow have managed to keep moving down the trail--putting one foot in front of the other---all forward motion counts--don't put off until tomorrow--it may never come attitude!  No life does not look like I thought it would---BUT---PERHAPS---MAYBE it could be much better than it would have been if it had followed my plan.  WHO KNOWS!

BUT I am blessed with today---and I will take that blessing---and 




CELEBRATE!

 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.
Proverbs 27:1


Monday, December 28, 2015

CELEBRATING--

It is the week following Christmas and the week leading up to the New Year---what better time to take stock of the past, the present, and the future.  In this spirit of reflection, I have decided to celebrate each--as always- mulling it over as I write.




In celebration of the past---I am who I am largely due to my past.  OH--SURE--there are some genetic factors which contribute --but life and how it has played out are a big determining factor of the person I am today.  So what has the past taught me--

To cry with ease--



 My heart was hardened and I did not allow myself to cry for much of my life---a learned lesson in restraint from long ago.  I sucked it up and suffered in dignified silence.  Only sheer exhaustion or desperation would set those dammed up tears free.  God allowed me to suffer then--and I suffered more anguish--more heart break than I ever imagined possible.  And the dam broke and the tears were set free.  It was a good thing to learn to cry--to learn to release those tears.  Today I cry when you cry---I understand your pain---and I cry in empathy with your grief.  And I cry when I am happy---great tears of joy.  And the best thing about all these tears---God knows---and He counts each and every tear in sorrow and glee---He holds them all.

To laugh often and with joy--



I learned an important lesson from a dear friend who laughs with such freedom and glee that the entire room around her will turn to see who is having such fun.  I look for laughter each and every day.  There is so much to laugh about when you purposefully begin to seek the good in each day.  And when the laughter comes---I release the brakes and fall down the hill of mirth---in total abandonment to the joy of the moment. We are instructed in Proverbs that laughter is good medicine for the heart--and I take at least one good dose each and every day.

To quit staring at my navel--



I finally learned to quit worrying about me and look up and out and discover the world around me.  The secret to happiness in life--serving others.  I am my most discontent, most miserable, most unhappy when I begin to think about how unfair life can be and what I think would make me happy.  What makes me really happy---making others happy--and that will not happen as long as I am staring in the mirror of discontent.

To be open to adventure and spontaneity--


video


The fun I have missed in the past by being cautious and giving in to the what if's.  AND the fun I have had the past few years by saying, "YES!"
























And finally to love many and love them dearly and deeply



Bottom line---the only thing which truly has eternal consequences comes from our love.  In the final day---who will care if you have gone?  Relationships are what it is all about!  God has lavished me with a wonderful family and more friends than I can count.  What a blessing and how I respond to that blessing--how I treat those He has placed in my life is the determining factor to how deep our relationship will be.  Give of yourself---love them dearly and deeply--and find contentment.

I have learned much from my past---but the most important lesson---is GOD!  Who has been faithful---who has provided---who has been my comforter---who has stood by my side---who is the alpha and omega of all I need---God.  God is always the answer---He was in my past--He is in my today---and He will be in the future.  GOD has been my teacher--and the One who hold my future in His hands---God!


5 You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands

Sunday, December 27, 2015

AND A STAR

WISE MEN

STILL SEEK HIM






HAPPY DAY-
CHRIST WAS BORN

BLESSED SABBATH-
DEAR FRIENDS!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

MEANWHILE--CHRISTMAS HERE IN THE HOOD

CHRISTMAS WEEK

IN THE HOOD

INCLUDED

MAKING REINDEER COOKIES

WITH THE GRANDS





THEY WERE

QUITE PROUD

OF THEMSELVES


WE HAD A

DELICIOUS

CHRISTMAS EVE LUNCH



OPENED PRESENTS

WITH LOTS 

OF EXCITEMENT!



video


ALL THIS AFTER
SPENDING THE WEEKEND
WITH THE
AUSTIN FAMILY
BEFORE CHRISTMAS

A HOLIDAY TRADITION
I DROVE AROUND
ADMIRING THE LIGHTS
ON CHRISTMAS EVE NIGHT




AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS EVE
FULL MOON
SINCE 1977


ONCE AGAIN
DEAR FRIENDS
CHRISTMAS
IS OVER

I PRAY WE ALL
MAINTAIN
THE SPIRIT OF
GOOD CHEER
AND 
GOOD WILL
IN THE 
YEAR TO COME!

~ ~ ~

STILL LIVING LIFE LARGE
HERE IN THE HOOD

Friday, December 25, 2015

LISTEN!

LISTEN

I BRING YOU 

GOOD TIDINGS

OF 

GREAT JOY

HE

WAS BORN








THE ONLY GIFT

HE ASKS YOU TO BRING

IS YOUR HEART!

~ ~ ~

CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS,

DEAR FRIENDS!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

ANTICIPATION

It would be a stark indicator of my age to confess I always think of Caryl Simon--one of my all time favorites---and her song, "Anticipation" when pondering this subject.  As I sit and write, I am humming the tune.

The simple definition of anticipation is


  •  a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen
  • : the act of preparing for something

Almost everything I read about the act of anticipating revolved around happy events, but I have had anticipation in my life concerning the hard times as well.  It is that tightening of the gut---knowing something is about to happen- sometimes good but sometimes heart breaking or difficult.  Perhaps dread would be the antonym for anticipation if it is only referred to with the happy moments in life.


One of my favorite images for the day to day anticipation in life is above.  It pretty much says it all.  The bear---well-they are anticipating a great meal------BUT---the fish is thinking BUT I'm carrying the future in me---SURELY I won't end up as bear food??  Perhaps the fish is in dread--for after all who would anticipate being the bear's next meal?


Today the little grands' anticipation has reached a fever pitch.  There is much discussion about climbing down chimneys, sacks full of toys, reindeer that can fly and what will I get?  The excitement over the long awaited night is palatable when you walk through the door.  Their anticipation is fueled by those stories swirling around them and it seems bedtime will never get here.


I remember those wonderful times in my life when I literally shivered with the anticipation of blessed events.  Event upon event in the lives of my children and now my grands.  I have anticipated the beauty of the mountain top while in the struggle of the climb.  I daily anticipate the grandeur of the sunset and the glory of the sunrise in the midst of the dark of night.  I even remember the feeling of anticipation knowing I was about to be kissed---AH---sweet memories!

Today though---we pause and remember---the anticipation of a fallen world --long ago.  And we prepare our hearts, in awe and wonder--with shivers of excitement as we celebrate the birth of The King of Kings----on this Silent Night---this Holiest of Nights--in a little time called Bethlehem.


Wishing you Sweet Anticipation today as we prepare to celebrate His Birth, Dear Friends!

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Luke 2:11

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

PREPARATION

The fun is often in the preparation---for certain--the preparation draws you into the anticipation of your expectations becoming  reality.  Thus my theme for the final three days leading to Christmas---


EXPECTATIONS

PREPARATION

ANTICIPATION

Once I get over my mulligrubs of getting all the stuff out--I always enjoy decorating for Christmas.  This year the preparation was particularly sweet since all the little grands except the baby "get it".  The look in their eyes when they ran into my house after I had decorated made the effort all worth while.



I think back to those days when I had someone to take me to dinner at a special restaurant.  I always dressed carefully in hopes that my preparation would set the tone for a lovely evening.  If I walked out with little effort in my appearance, it was a direct reflection of how little the evening meant to me.  My time and effort in preparation reflected the importance of the one I was dining with in my life.


While my cooking these days is limited to dinner for one, when I have the opportunity to cook for loved ones, I carefully prepare the meal.  There is great truth in "Presentation-Presentation-Presentation" setting the tone for the meal.  A delicious gourmet meal slapped on a plate with little to no effort will not be appreciated as much as the same meal carefully presented with only a little effort.  The same food--different level of appreciation.  All from a little preparation.


Winter is officially here---and though my beds lie dormant for the season---I have done careful preparation for the season to come.  Spring will be its most beautiful, if I prepare the beds for a winter's rest.  The reward for these labors will be a bed filled with flowers of all colors during the next growing season.

And so Christmas is two days away---


my question to us all---

     Have we prepared our hearts to celebrate the birth of The King?

Will Christmas be another celebration of retail proportions---or will we stop and remember the reason for it all?  It's never too late---pause---read the story of what happened that night---that silent night---that holy night--so long ago.  Remember the shepherds listening to the angel chorus--remember the kings bowing down in amazement--remember the One who took on flesh and was born---so that we might be redeemed---Prepare your hearts and remember.

The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.
John 1:14


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

EXPECTATIONS

As long as our expectations line up with reality, all is well in the world.  It is the point in time when our expectations and reality  head off in different directions , that we loose faith and give up on hope.  For that reason, I usually keep my expectations low--and then I am not disappointed and sometimes even pleasantly surprised.  A pessimist--no--I think of myself as a realist.




Why I even set myself up for dashed expectations by visiting Pintrest.  I start these great projects thinking I will get this:




And by the time my mentee and I finished--it looked like this-



HEY--WE HAD FUN DOING IT and got better on the next one!

And then there are my culinary adventures--




And of course---my perpetual quest for peak condition, which





falls into the abyss of failed worked outs and lame excuses.

Let's face it--talking a good game is MUCH easier than following through with the real deal---whatever the subject.

A LONG time ago---there was expectations for the promised Messiah--He would be born of royal blood---a king--with all the kingly trappings--power--riches--wisdom--strength--the ability to overcome those who had tormented God's chosen people.  He would ride in on a white horse and put things right!



Reality looks quite different---He was born of a royal family---but not with a crown on His head.  He was born into a working class family--not rich---but making a living as a carpenter---wise--but not recognized for His wisdom by everyone until much later---He rode a donkey---not the white horse---and he died a painful death and was quickly placed in a borrowed tomb with no fanfare.  



Why was reality so far from the expectations of the people?  Because the expectations were just that--of the people--not what was prophesied, but what the people wanted to see---how they wanted it all to play out--not the reality of God's plan.

Christmas is days away---and I am thinking about my expectations of how life should look and the reality of where God has me.  The challenge is recognizing the beauty and redemption in the reality of the day.  The day to day acceptance of God's plan being the perfect plan and then my expectations will line up with the reality of the day.

I pray your expectations will all center around the presence of Jesus as Christmas approaches and the reality of His birth will fill your celebration with the true wonder of the season.  Counting down the days and two more blogs before our wait is over---

May your Advent lead your heart to Him.


For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him
Psalm 62:5

Monday, December 21, 2015

WHERE ARE YOU CHRISTMAS?

I love the movie, "The Grinch"--a story filled with deep meaning--it speaks to my heart.



And then there is the beautiful song, Cindy Lou Who sang, "Where are you Christmas?"  

Where are you looking for Christmas this year?  Are you searching among the tinsel?



Surely Christmas is among the wreaths, tress, glitter and glitz.

Are you searching for Christmas in a retail maze of gifts or surfing the vast web for the perfect present?



Surely Christmas is in the midst of all those wrappings and bows.

Are you searching for Christmas at parties and dinners--in the company of family and friends?


Surely Christmas is the delicious food and good company of others.

Are you waiting for Santa to bring you Christmas?

Photo Credit: Bill Carroll

Surely Christmas is in the magic of the jolly old elf bringing toys down the chimney.

Where are you looking for Christmas?

Much of what makes Christmas special is wrapped in the legacy of Christmas's past.   Those special moments which seared out hearts with sweet memories.  For me that includes-


A stroll under the star filled winter sky in the crispness of the evening--with silent and quiet surrounding me.


A hushed candlelight service filled with carols and wonder in the reverence of the silent night.


The glow in the eyes of my children and grands over the years as they glimpsed upon the magic of Christmas.


The good company of family and friends--filled with laughter, chatter, and general good cheer.

But most especially---I found Christmas--



And a Christmas Night, I will always remember---when I paused in the quietness of my own Silent Night


To remember the glory of that First Christmas Night!

Today in the town of David, A Savior has been born to you;
he is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11