The Feelings of Christmas

 

What is it about Christmas? …about the feelings this time of year brings about in us?

The stage is set in our intentions:

the twinkling of lights,
Christmas cookies baked by the dozen,
the wow gift for each of our loved ones,
a fresh-cut tree brimming with ornaments,
parties galore,
a crackling fire,
Christmas songs lulling us into a smile,
peppermint cocoa brimming our cup,
the sound of laughter,
the feeling of contentment,
[cue the softly falling snow].

How many of us experience the idyllic Christmas of our mind’s eye?  Sure, we find it in our head, and we have meaningful intentions in our hearts, but there’s a gap in what actually transpires as we ready ourselves for the season.

What are you really looking for this Christmas? …and can it be filled by the things of the season? 

Be encouraged to seek and to search. Feelings can be a challenge to deal with, yet spending some time with them can help to bring about a clarity which equips us with the courage and expectant hope to be more real in our own head and heart.


 

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Finding Hope in the Seed of Honor

Honor is a seed sown inside of each of us. How we nurture and tend to that seed within every season and every step of our lives will determine what that seed produces.

From that seed, fruit can be borne. The fruit might be integrity, determination, humility, servitude, fairness, courage or trustworthiness.

If not properly nurtured along the way, resentment, revenge, selfishness, arrogance, dishonesty, maliciousness or wickedness may be what is produced from this seed that, at one time, had so much potential.

My friends! Choose honor. Bear fruit. I have to remind myself to do the same.

The path of honor is rarely straight and easy, but it is a path of peace, of joy, of contentment and of opportunity…opportunity for rewards that serve to better self, family, community, and Kingdom with what really matters in life.

What do you see around you?

Do you see the seeds of honor?
Do you see the fruit of the seed?
Do you see a harvest that honors, collects and gathers for a greater purpose?
Do you see rotted fruit that once had much potential?
Do you see the seeds of destruction?

If my life is anything like yours, we’re seeing every bit of it…even in places where we’d expect to find the opposite.

What can we do?

Look carefully,
plant carefully,
harvest carefully…
and do it all very prayerfully.

 


 

Burger Saturday—It’s about a Burger and a Prayer!

Most of us think nothing of having a burger. We can zip through any drive-thru window, order a burger, devour it, and we can do it almost anytime we’d like to do so.

Saturdays have become burger days in our household.
They are a reminder of hope.

…might sound silly…
until you know the background.

At “The Hut,” burgers are served on Saturday. When you’ve spent a few months or years in a place where you don’t get to choose what food you get to eat, burgers on Saturdays are something to look forward to.

When he came home, it meant a lot for him to be able to choose to eat a burger on a Saturday. It was a way of remembering where he’d been, those he left behind, and the fortunes of being able to choose what’s for lunch.

“Do you mind that we eat burgers on Saturdays?” he asked me the other day.

“Not at all. I enjoy sharing burgers with you.” I told him.

We don’t eat them every Saturday, but we’ve had a lot of burgers on Saturdays over the last five months.

He prays for them while he’s grilling the burgers—for those who are still there…for those looking forward to their thin, dried hockey puck with a razor-thin slice of tomato and a paper-thin ring of onion (except for every 5th Saturday—for some reason, the tomato and onion aren’t on The Hut’s menu once every five weeks).

I still see it in him after every first bite of a burger…
I see him savor that bite as he takes a long time to chew it.

Sometimes, there’s such a long pause.
Sometimes, there’s a quiver of the lip.
Sometimes, he quickly wipes away a tear from the corner of his eye.

I don’t think he realizes that I watch him take that first bite, but I do, because I will never forget the day he took that first bite of burger on the first Saturday after he came home. Never.

You just can’t forget something like that.

He enjoys his tomato, his onion, the mustard, ketchup and mayo…
He sometimes tops it with avocado, or bacon, and a creamy slice of real cheese…

He enjoys his burgers, and it makes me realize—yet again—how much his life has changed over the last few months. Every bit of time we get to spend together is a blessing to me. I’ve learned so much from him about appreciating the little things.

To Clyde, Dave, and so many of the others…
We think of you when we eat our burgers.
Today was Burger Saturday, and we prayed for you today.

 


 

Finding Hope in Amazing Grace

In my Bible study this morning, I was led to sing a hymn. It was Amazing Grace.

The fourth verse brought special meaning to me in this early hour:

“Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come;tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

The last few months have been a bit of a challenge in one particular area of my life—we all have those times, don’t we?

…thing is, it’s been an unexpected area, with predictable yet unexpected antagonism. I have standards—we all do—and those standards have suffered repeated violations which continue to interrupt the productivity of my time, my heart, my vision, my experience and even my ethics.

I’m being vague, I know. Please extend a bit of grace to me for my intentionality. There are others involved, and some caring discretion is needed.

Toils and snares

Grace has been what has brought me through them in the past, oh so many times… Grace is what will bring me through them now.

The book from which I was reading also recommended reading Romans 5:1–5. Well…that was a completely awe-filled thing to suggest!

Let me share those verses with you (from the New International Version), and understand that I’ve added the bold words, because they stand out to me and propel me forward:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Do you see the AWEsomeness of His Word? Oh, it is simply incredible!

Each day is a new day, and I needed to sing out those words this morning, and I needed to be directed to read some of my favorite hope-filled verses this morning. My Heavenly Father and my incredible Savior knew what I needed, and with an open Book, a voice and a precious Word, my cup was filled. My daily bread was gathered. The table was set before me.

I am grateful to always find hope in His amazing grace.

 


 

Saturday Morning Bliss

A change in circumstances in recent months has brought a bit more peace and calm to my Saturday mornings. A typical Saturday used to be full of have-to-do catch ups or out-of-town travels, and I am learning to appreciate the change!

I sleep in a bit more now—by just an hour. After some time in prayer, fresh-ground and brewed coffee is an eye-closing, deep-inhaling and slow-sipping delight that really does make me smile. 

I catch up on the news of the week by reading the stack of The Wall Street Journal newspapers which has accumulated from last Saturday—well, reading the recent ones and skimming past the days-old news. I don’t make the time to do this on most days—my weekly reading usually consists of the Bible, studies I’m going through, a non-fiction faith book I’m trying to cross off my personal list, or growth articles to help me grow in my career capabilities.

Sunny Saturdays are my favorite so that I can get my natural vitamin D for 20-30 minutes on a deck chair. The hum of farm machinery, the sound of a neighbor mowing grass or the crows cawing in the forest are the sounds that lull me into peaceful thoughts about how much I appreciate having Saturday mornings to enjoy such bliss. 

It really is bliss…a blissful blessing that I have come to greatly appreciate.

…a blissful blessing, indeed.