Thursday, December 30, 2010

Longing for Home

I've been feeling a bit blue these days after Christmas.  I've tried distraction -- focusing on other things.  I've tried planning our summer vacation so I could anticipate something else that was good.  I've counted my gifts with Ann.  While these things helped, it didn't completely take the let-down away. 

I was on my way home from getting groceries the other night when the tears came.  It was a Sara Groves' song that did it, pieces of lyrics from "Every Minute" that gave me permission.

And I can think of time when families all lived together
Four generations in one house
And the table was full of good food
And friends and neighbors . . . .

And I wish all the people I love the most
Could gather in one place
And know each other and love each other well . . .

As she sang these lyrics about longing for more time together with friends and that togetherness of all she loves in one place, I realized that this was the true cause for my sadness.  I'm longing for Heaven -- family and friends gathered together, joy and love expressed so fully, celebrating the One who authored it all.  These are the best parts of Christmas.  And this is Heaven. 

I no longer have to feel bad for having a bit of after-Christmas blues.  It just reminds me what I really long for -- my forever home.

But there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven! We're waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.  Philippians 3:20-21, The Message

As I entered the door of my home that night, I heard Baby Girl's running feet as she joyfully announced "Mommy's hooooooooome!"

My heart soars at her exuberant love, and I think of another forever day when we will each hear an even better, and final, version of welcome home.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Gift for You That Will Make You Rich

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. 
Luke 2:11-12

Let the stable still astonish
Straw — dirt floor, dull eyes
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?

Who would have said “Yes,”
“Let the God of all the heavens
And earth
Be born here, in this place”?

Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
of our hearts
and says “Yes,”
“Let the God of Heaven and Earth
be born here –
in this place.”
                                                                                Leslie Leyland Fields

You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich
2 Corinthians 8:9

Sharing with you the wonder of the miracle . . . the gift of the Lord born in our dark hearts.  It's our own rags to riches story.

Have a Blessed Christmas and New Year!

Celebrate the gift of the Savior born to you with Internet Cafe Devotions.

*The photo was taken at a recent visit to the live nativity in Christmas Town at the Creation Museum in Kentucky.  I highly recommend the trip!*


Monday, December 20, 2010

When Christmas is Over

I spent weeks planning and shopping and five days baking, cooking, cleaning and preparing.  

I made cake pops with some helpful tips from Alyssa at Loving Life 365.  (They turned out much better than last time.)

I baked gingersnaps and dipped them in white chocolate.  Mmmmm.

I stirred together a marbled chocolate bark recipe.

I whipped up chocolate covered cheesecake squares and maple sugar candy.

I served, among several other things, cheese and crackers, bacon-wrapped jalapenos, veggies and dip, and gingerbread men with a pumpkin dip (thanks to a good friend).  The table was full, and that night, so was my house.  It was wonderful.  

We ate the yummies, shared lots of laughter, played for a prize, exchanged ornaments.

And cookies.

The fellowship was delicious.

And then it was over. 

There are just a few days left of Advent.  A few more days of lighting hope, love, peace and joy until the light of the Christ child flames.  There are just a few days left of baking and wrapping and secretive smiles and whispered conversations.

And then it will be over.

The lights will come down, the presents will be put away, the ornaments that mean so much stored for another year.  The anticipation of Christmas packed away.

But not the anticipation of the Christ.

I still wait for Him.  And I will keep Christmas.

"Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."  Revelation 22:12-13

Come, Lord Jesus.

Keeping Christmas by counting gifts #530 - 550:
beautiful cookies brought by beautiful women

Christmas joy

hugs and laughter

sparkling glass dishes

red candles in white snow

a snow day for The Thinker

the question, "Mom, can we pray?"

holding a newborn baby

playing in the snow with my children and my best friend's boys

safely driving on the white stuff

trees laced with snow

The Stinker's first public piano performance

glittering cattails on a frozen pond

finding the perfect tree with my mom and dad

Christmas Town at the Creation Museum

a live nativity

thousands of lights

good in-laws to share the experience with

the story told anew

The Savior

the expectation of His return


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Light Leads to Light

The star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  Matthew 2:9

The wisemen, led by a star, were brought to The Star.

A star rises from Jacob, a scepter from Israel.  Numbers 24:17

The wisemen, led by light, were brought to The Light.

And now the LORD says . . . "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."  Isaiah 49:6

Jesus, the Light of the World, tells us to follow Him and do as He has done.  We are to be light to those around us.  We are to love as He loves and give as He gives.  We are to live righteously, in goodness and truth.  We are to make the most of every opportunity, to reach out to those in need, so that we clearly reveal The Way for them.  We are to illumine the world around us so that others may see and know The Light that came to those walking in great darkness 2,000 years ago still shines today through us. 

We are to shine like stars to lead others to The Star.   

"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you
See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you
 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn."
Isaiah 60:1-3

Let's live lives worthy as children of light.  Let's shine.

For more thoughts on The Light of the world, visit Internet Cafe Devotions.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Pondering the Gifts

Christmas is a time for reflection.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Luke 2:19

As I reflect on the cherished ornaments and keepsakes that have been given to me  

and made .  .

as I pull out these treasures that remain hidden in a box for much of the year,

I take the time to remember. 

These gifts stir in my heart memories of days past and point to people that are special to me.  My husband who knows me.  My grandmother, now waiting on the other side.  My friends in other parts of the world.  My mom who knits love and her grandmother before her who did the same.  My children and their preschool days.

While the gifts are beautiful to me, it is the people that are the true treasures.

And when I reflect on the gifts, I'm invariably led back to the Giver who became Gift, and I ponder the Person who is Christmas. 

I treasure His words and ponder them in my heart.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.  Isaiah 9:6

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.  James 1:17

Thanks be go God for his indescribable gift!  2 Corinthians 9:15

Pondering and giving thanks for these treasures, these God-whispers, #511 - 529:

memories hanging on the tree

my grandma and grandpas, whom I still miss and will until we meet again

a happy childhood

my husband's thoughtful gifts

Christmas baking

the smell of cinnamon and sugar cookies

warm slippers

thick, fuzzy blankets

the silky feel of Baby Girl's hair as I read to her

sitting between The Thinker and The Stinker during The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

knowing Aslan by his many names here

a church Christmas program

my Christmas angel

and wisemen

the sweetness of an old story told in a fresh way

Christmas greetings from friends and strangers

tucking my children in each night

the angels who watch over them (Matthew 18:10)

a God who gives constant attention to each of us


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

God Whispers

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”  Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.

And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 
1 Kings 19:11-12

God whispers. 
He leans near and speaks softly, gently, closely. 
He breathes words of life and love and truth into our lives.

Let's still ourselves and listen for Him -- this one called Immanuel, God with us.  Let's not miss Him because we are waiting for the grand, earth-shattering signs and trumpeting voice. 

He entered the world quietly once, and continues to speak softly to our hearts today. 


Look for God-whispers in His Word at Internet Cafe Devotions.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Taking the Ordinary and Making Us Good

There is something wondrous in taking the ordinary . . . .

and making it special.

There is something almost magical about taking something that is almost nothing . . . .

and creating beauty.

When we create, I think we feel a bit of that satisfaction that the Creator might feel when He looks at us as we grow and mature. I picture the smile on His face as He works in us and through us, as He molds us from meaningless and gives us purpose.

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at.
2 Corinthians 4:7-8, The Message

We may not look like much, but in time, as we follow Him and His plan for our lives, God makes our lives beautiful.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to doEphesians 2:10

We are His.  His creation.  His handiwork.  Made for His own pleasure.  (Ephesians 1:5)

God saw all the He had made, and it was very good.  Genesis 1:31

He made us well. 

He makes us good.

holy experience

Counting ordinary and not-so-ordinary gifts #483 - 510:

helping The Stinker create Christmas crafts


things that sparkle . . .

including The Stinker's smile as he makes special

a house transformed

a heart transformed

ears to hear

God speaks

poinsettias, pink and red


a drive to see Christmas lights

singing carols in the car

Rudolph and Prancer

silver bells

a first good snowfall

a world transformed

Baby Girl's first real snow experience

her excitement

her tantrum because she didn't want to stop playing

snow boots

tiny mittens

big brothers' snow fights

my mom's handiwork hung on the mantle

my best friend's newborn baby GIRL! (after two boys)

new life in the dark days of winter

Immanuel, God with us

The Creator stepping into creation

over half-way to 1,000 gifts and still amazed at how many blessings there are to count

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