It’s Quiet Now

The excitement and anticipation of Christmas is a fading memory and the house is quiet. For some people their house has been quiet for a long time. For others the thought of no noise and commotion brings a smile of contentment and a wish for this to happen.

This very special season always seems to be filled with hurry. There are presents to be bought, gifts to be wrapped and so many things to do. Social calendars are filled with appointments, events and parties to attend. The closer Christmas day is the more frenetic the pace and we rush, rush to accomplish a seemingly impossible to do list.

At last Christmas Day arrives and we settle into the traditions and things that make this day special to us. Tables laden with goodies, brightly colored wrapping paper is found crumpled into piles. Well for most homes that is, but there are some that neatly fold the paper, save the bows or Christmas bags for another time. Must confess, this is not me.

All too soon the day is ended and there settles a blessed quietness. I love the quiet but I do admit I miss the noise and chaos of little kids, extended family and all the things associated with Christmas. During this time memories flood into my mind of the hectic and then I am glad for the quiet.

For many the quiet brings sadness. Christmas is so lonely for them as they remember Christmas’ past and loved ones that are no longer present.

In the quietness I find myself listening to the still voice of my savior, the one that loves me so. Jesus the one the season is about brings assurance that I am so loved and not forgotten. In the solitude of my surroundings there I count my blessings and give thanks. There is no interruption to intrude on my quiet. A peace comes and wraps me in a blanket of serenity where I find comfort.

There are no deadlines for me to accomplish. No frantic rush to decorate and make things perfect. No pressure to cook huge meals with every favorite dish that each child or family member must have at Christmas dinner. Sometimes it is just grandpa and me (grandma) sitting across the table or at TV trays watching television. This year my son came and brought our grand dog. Even with him here things were quiet. All adults, no kids – just quiet.

This season whether you were surrounded with all the chaos Christmas and the holidays bring, or you were alone in the quiet I hope you found time to experience God’s presence and the wonder that God gave to you the greatest gift of all.

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Christmas – Just Another Day

I have heard other people say “Christmas, for me is just another day” and I confess to saying this myself. It shocked me that I heard these words come from my mouth. After speaking this I sat in my chair and wondered just what did I mean by this and what would ever cause these words to come tumbling out of my mouth.

It is just another because the hustle and bustle of the season passes me by at this time in my life. Gone is the frantic rush to buy gifts, hide them from prying little eyes, and the late midnight wrapping marathon no longer is needed.

Living far away from grandkids, which are now mostly adults, the urgent need to supply their wishes no longer floods my mind with anxious thoughts.

I know that on Christmas morning there will be no 5a.m. wake time to the delighted squeals of wake up mom it’s Christmas. The house is really quiet and the only one who really wants to get up is the dog that needs walking. Grandpa and grandma (that’s me) roll over hoping to sleep another 30 or so minutes.

No rush to turn on Christmas lights and put on music. It is not because we are old – it’s just because. We have long given up the tradition of gifts – we have everything we need. If we really want something we just go get it and do not wait for Christmas to have it under the tree.

So is Christmas just another day? To some and maybe too many the answer is yes. For those Christmas brings only unhappy memories of loved ones gone, thoughts of not being able to provide or maybe illness that consume us with just living another day. Many just wish the hype and all the celebration will pass quickly and they won’t have to deal with it until another year.

The more I thought about this phrase the more I realized that Christmas truly IS NOT just another day. I know the day we celebrate was not the actual day the baby was born in Bethlehem but it is the time we set aside to remember the reason He came. If it were not for “Christmas” there would be no savior to redeem mankind. Only the babe born of the virgin is able to forgive our sins and take away our guilt.

He truly is the gift all mankind needs to receive at this special season. Years ago I wrote this quote and it is still true today. “God wrapped divinity in humanity, placed Him in a lowly manger as a gift for all man.”

It is because of this that no matter our circumstance Christmas is not just another day. It is not about brightly wrapped gifts, special dinners and celebrations. Christmas is the day the world received that greatest gift given.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders and His name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, prince of peace. Isa. 9:6 KJV Immanuel – God with us.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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Tis The Season

You can look around everywhere and know “it is the season.”  The stores are full of merchandise ready to go home with you.  The music you only hear once a year is again heard everywhere.   Children are trying so hard to be extra good because they heard somewhere Santa is checking his naughty and nice list.

We get caught up in the preparation for that one day, that one special day.  Lists of things to do are made, gift lists, special grocery shopping lists are written and those special decorations are once again pulled from their storage places.

In all of the hustle and madness of this time perhaps we have forgotten the real reason for this season.  This time, this special time is not about the tree, the gifts and the frenetic pace we find ourselves in.

This time and season should cause us to think about the real gifts to give.  Those gifts that are not tangible but are so important in the world we live in.

Love – What a special gift.  We can’t put it in a box wrapped in beautiful paper tied up with a bow.  It is, or should be what we give every day.  Love, it is the intangible gift that makes all the difference in some ones world when given.

Trust – In some cases this gift trust is earned, when it is received it is priceless.  A gift that is sometimes fragile and can be broken but trust is and should be treasured always.

Time – Maybe we don’t think of this as a gift but to some in our lives this gift of time is more valuable than money or things.  Time spent with those we love leaves an imprint on hearts and lives that will keep giving in the memories we hold precious.

Friendship – The bond between people that makes our lives special.  It is a gift of rare quality and one that should not be easily dismissed.

During this Christmas holiday and celebration I hope we take the opportunity to share the intangible gifts that only we can give.  There are those during this season who are hurting and at this time not all is “merry and bright.”  They need to receive the intangible especially during this Christmas time.

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Reflections of Thanksgiving

The kitchen is finally clean again and all the leftovers are neatly stowed away in the fridge.  We will have another thanksgiving meal from the leftovers again and still have enough for sandwiches and snacking.  Our sweet tooth will again be satisfied from the pies and cake that still take up space on the counter or fridge.

It is the day after and I am still thinking about family, friends and what causes me to be thankful.

On the TV the usual litany of murders, accidents, fires and events that happen to normal everyday people are chronicled.  I am thankful that those I love are safe and have another day to live.  I am truly blessed.  While I wished that all the kids could have put their feet under my food laden table it was not to be.  Separated by miles we were still able to connect by skype, instant message, and phone.  Those far away brought joy just with the sound of their voices and this gives me another reason for thankfulness – technology.

Sitting on the lanai the weather is warm and the blue sky clear and the sun shines brightly.  Ok, so I live in Florida – not the colder climates.  Thankful – oh yes.  These old bones are glad we are not shoveling snow, no ice on the roads and I can see flowers and green grass.  I am grateful that my skies are not filled with smoke from bombs and the roar of planes carrying their payloads of destruction.  I live in the United States and even for me; America with all of her faults still is a blessing to live here.

Reflecting on the past few days and the election (and no I am not going to comment about the results) I am thankful that I can cast a ballot without fear of reprisal.  I have the freedom to worship or not to worship and no one can dictate my beliefs.  Watching the protests pro and con reminds me that I have the freedom to do this without fear of reprisal – especially if I do it in the proper manner without violence and the use of destruction.  America with all of her faults, with all of her failures is still the greatest country and I am thankful. I can come and go as I please; the choices of various things are abundant.

For every opportunity presented to me and for all the freedoms I have I am thankful.

The scripture says “whom the son sets free is free indeed.”  My freedom, not in just in the country and in the state I reside is good but better than all of this I am free from the sins of my past, my guilt is erased by Jesus Christ and there is an assurance of my eternal future.

Sitting at the kitchen table and reflecting on all my blessings, those earthly and those heavenly, this lady’s heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness.

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Was It Really Friday?

Was it really Friday

She sat off to the side of the room wrapped in her mourning clothes. Can’t remember what time it is. It must be late in the afternoon because the darkness invaded the room like the darkness of sorrow surrounded her very being. How could this happen?

There were others with her but they were processing their own grief as they searched through their memories of the events of this day.

In her mind, she could still hear the words of the angel who said she was highly favored and she had found favor with God and would conceive a child and call his name Jesus. She remembered everything. The birth, the shepherds and the wise men coming were indelibly stamped in her memory banks. She could picture Jesus as a little one running around the carpenter shop asking so many questions. Those big brown eyes and dark curly hair that framed that cute olive-skinned face were etched on her heart. Everything about this child of hers filled her mind as she sat and remembered. Tears slipped from her eyes as the sobs of grief washed over her. She had watched him grow into manhood.

He sat in the temple and listened as the Torah was read and the religious leaders of the day taught. She remembered Jesus being lost, at least she thought he was lost, and she and Joseph found him in the temple. He astounded those there with his knowledge. She remembered watching him become a man and take on responsibilities. He loved her deeply. She had a front row seat to his miracles and teachings. Miracles, yes but she especially remembered when he turned the water into wine at the wedding.

Why then did this have to happen? He son faced an unfair trial. People lied and accused him falsely. She remembered Peter. How could he. He denied him three times when asked if he were with her son and she remember how devastated Peter was after this took place.

The cries of her son as they beat and scourged him echoed in the chambers of her memory. The sound of the nails as they pierced her son’s bones and flesh raced through her thoughts. More tears slipped from her eyes.

She was remembering every detail of his life, his 12 followers, the miracles and his teachings. Every memory from before his birth till now flooded her senses and the heaviness in her heart was more than she could bear.

The mourning period, according to custom, was not even finished when she understood that the stone from the tomb where Jesus lay had been rolled away. How? Why? Then she remembered his words – could it be? Was he really alive?

Two days of unimaginable sorrow, two days of memories that only brought heartache but now, that third day. What a day. The stone was rolled away – he was not in the tomb. He is risen!

Because of this, these words have such meaning, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth on me though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Easter gives us hope.

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Once Again

The angels could only remember twice when Heaven was in an uproar.  The first time happened when one of their own was cast out along with those that thought his ideas were great.  Now, again it seemed that something was going on.  The Father and the Son and been talking and there was an atmosphere of expectation.

For a long time man, the Father’s ultimate creation had been separated from fellowship with the Father.  Something needed to be done.  Everyone knew Father God could not look on sin and since that first disobedience by Adam the road to repentance was arduous.  God gave Moses all the laws and rules but even then man did not obey.

All the angels knew the Father longed for a relationship with His created children.  Maybe this was the reason for this time of expectation.

Finally, there was a way to bring reconciliation.  As the angels listened they were astonished at what the Father planned to do.

He was going to send His son to be born of woman.  Jesus was going to lay down all of His glory, step aside Heaven’s splendor and go to earth.  They listened as Jesus said He would be willing to go and then give His life so that mankind could come into right relationship with the Father.

This plan was the talk among the cherubs and angels and they were to have a part in this plan.

Where would He be born and how would this come about?  Lots of questions and they were all answered on the one night so long ago.

The Father chose Mary a young virgin to carry this Holy Child.  “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated “God with us.”(Matthew 1:23)

This would be a great event the angels thought, born in a palace, after all He was royalty.  They couldn’t understand – a stable.  That is no place for the Son of God.  No grand announcement to the earthly kings and rulers.

The angels were at last given their part of the plan.  They would announce His birth.  There in the darkened skies over Bethlehem they gathered.  Their announcement was to shepherds. The sky became full of light and “behold an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”  (Luke 2:10-11)NKJ  “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace goodwill to men!”  (Luke 2:13-14)NKJ

God sent His son to earth to be born in a humble stable.  He came to die so that mankind could be reconciled to God the Father.  This is the story of Christmas.  A baby that would live become a man, die and rise again and by doing this He forever changed the course of history.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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Before and After – A Mother Remembers

It really was a beautiful day as the warm rays of the sunshine bathed the room in a soft glow. Sitting by the small window, lost in thought, caught up in remembering all the changes in her life since that one day. Even the shining sun would not block out the memories of the three days cloaked in such darkness.

Getting pregnant was not what she planned. She was only engaged, babies came after marriage. The day she received the news she would become pregnant certainly was unique. So many unusual circumstances surrounded the birth of her son. She retained everything about that time. She kept so many of these events in her heart and thought about what they meant.

Remembering watching him grow, play, and follow the man he called father brought a smile to her face. This man, this wonderful man, married her even though he knew the child was not his. Raising this little one as his, providing for them without once complaining caused thankfulness in her heart. The tousled head tot followed him everywhere and took in everything he saw.

She recalled how eager he was to learn and it seemed he was wise, so wise. It was as if his knowledge was far beyond what her husband and the elders had taught him. She could only remember one time, as a youth, that he caused her concern. It was on that trip. She thought he was with friends or family only to find out he was not there. They had to make the journey back to where they had been to find him. They found him. He was in the temple. She couldn’t believe what he was saying. He was confounding the elders with his knowledge.

Seated by the same window, dressed in mourning clothes she didn’t want to remember the past days. Those days of the mocking, the lies told about her son. The trial was a joke. The witnesses lied. He only did good. Why? Wasn’t the blind man who could now see better off? What about the crippled man now walking and others whose lives had been forever changed for the better? She couldn’t fathom that one of those that followed him became the betrayer. Her son cared for him.

Such a cruel death. He really didn’t deserve this. Inside her heart she screamed silently, he only did good. She remembered standing at the foot of the cross. Tears streaming down, a mothers heart breaking as she looked up and saw his face. Even in that torment, he remembered her and asked one of his followers to care for her. Where would they bury him? She didn’t have the money to pay for a tomb. She was thankful for the kindness of one that provided his burial tomb.

They took him from the cross and wrapped his body for burial. She didn’t want to remember that image but it was stamped in her memory. They laid him in the tomb but couldn’t finish the process because it would soon be the Sabbath. They would go after the Sabbath passed and take the spices they needed to finish the burial process.

A smile crossed her face as she remembers that particular day. The “spice day.” They went very early to the tomb. On the way, they wondered who would roll away the heavy stone that sealed the grave. What a surprise! The stone was rolled away. Jesus was not there!

What had happened? It had just been three days. Wait, she remembered, he did say something about he would rise – on the third day- yes that was what he said. She remembered.

Today, because of this, all of humanity can be free. Free from the guilt that sin brings. The chains of our past are broken, and the addictions of our present are paid for. We just need to believe and ask for forgiveness.

Words of the song by Bill and Gloria Gaither ring true. “Because He lives I can face tomorrow.”

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16,17

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This Is Love

Everyone wondered if He would really do this. They noticed that the Son was always in a meeting with the Father. After all the Father had done for the people on earth, it was inconceivable that the Father would even ask the Son to do this. Hadn’t He chosen them for His special people to be a nation unto Himself? He promised them to be their God, He granted them protection, fed them when they were hungry, helped them win victories and delivered them from bondage and slavery. Oh, the people were loyal for periods, however they eventually forgot about what He had provided. They went their own way. They thought they knew better. The wanted to be like others around them. They even wanted a King. Unbelievable, they turned their backs on the Father and followed their own desires. How could this be? Still the Father loved them so much. He longed to be everything He had promised to be.

Those in the Fathers place noticed the Son in conference with his Father. “Something must be happening,” they said to each other. They noticed messengers sent to the earth the Father created. Special messengers. They all wondered what that message contained and who was the one or ones on earth that received those words.

Messengers sent to earth to Zachariah, to a young girl, a virgin named Mary and even to her fiancé. Mary’s message was special, it said, “Do not be afraid, Mary for you have found favor with God. And you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name Jesus.”

Now those in the Father’s place began to understand. Would the Son agree to this? Look what He would give up. This entire splendor, all that is here, why He would become even lower than us, lower than angels. He would become human and yet he would still be fully God. He would come as a baby to live on the earth. The plan was complete, the Son is happy to do the will of His Father.

Now the heavenly preparation began. “Surely He will be born in a palace, after all He really is royalty,” they said. Soon they learned it would be a lowly stable, no royal bed, just a manger. There had to be some kind of announcement. How would the Father announce God on earth’s birth?

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields keeping watch over their flock by night.”

The angels could hardly believe this, yet they were excited – they were to be a part of the Father’s plan. They would carry the announcement to shepherds.

“Behold the angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were greatly afraid. “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace good will to men.”

So this is what the Father and the Son were talking about, the Father’s plan of love.
“For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

This is love and this is Christmas.

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Unto Us

Traveling in her condition was not ideal, especially so close to time when the baby would come. She really didn’t want to go, but then again she didn’t want to stay by herself. The circumstances around this child, this tiny deposit deep in her womb amazed her. How could this be she questioned? Still here was the evidence. That baby “bump”, well not just a bump but a rather large uncomfortable bump now.

The scenery passed by and there were many others traveling at this time. The road, if you could call it that was not smooth. She got off the donkey and walked but the extra weight of the baby caused her difficulty in walking. After a while, she climbed back on the donkey with the help of Joseph and kept going. She just longed for a comfortable place to spend the night.

She could see Bethlehem in the distance. Almost there. She would be able to rest. Joseph knocked on so many doors and places but there was just no room available. One kind innkeeper offered his stable. A lowly place, not very comfortable. Joseph would have liked a better place but…. “Please, Joseph, take it, I am so tired and I think this baby is about to be born.”

Settled on a bed of straw, Joseph tried to make her comfortable. A fire, yes, they needed a little fire to keep them warm. He cleared out the feeding manger and placed fresh straw. He heard Mary cry out. It was painful; he didn’t know how to help. “How long would this take,” he thought to himself. It was hard to watch Mary struggle through the pain. “Would this last forever?” Finally! The squealing infant was born. He tended to the baby, wrapped him swaddling clothes, put him in the manger, and then turned to Mary.

A noise, he heard footsteps. More than one person. Why were they coming to this place? What was happening? The sky was ablaze with undefinable light. What the angel revealed to him is really happening. He had had doubts but he trusted Mary. He loved her. From the hills they came, shepherds, they had come to worship. They heard the angel chorus. “Be hold I bring you good tidings of joy….for unto you this day in the city of David a savior is born…They believed, they came.

That message still rings true today, true to all who will believe. A savior is born. Born long ago but He is alive and He brings salvation to all who believe. He is the good news for our world that is in turmoil.

Not just long ago but for today. You shall call his name Immanuel – God with us.
He is the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

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Father’s Day

Everyone has one – a father that is. For some that word recalls warm wonderful memories, examples of love and faithfulness, sacrifice and giving. Others have memories they wish were not there. Memories of abuse, neglect and wanting a father like other “normal” kids are all they know.

I have very mixed feelings about Father’s Day. My memories are not great, for years, I just stuffed them away not wanting to remember my young years with dad. He was my father and nothing I can do will change this fact.

At times he could be very cruel and at other times very loving – too loving! He provided for us. We had a safe secure house, apartment or flat to call home. Food was on the table and our basic needs, according to the standard of that day, were provided.

My father came to this country from Holland when he was a young boy. His Dutch heritage and strict disciplinary tactics were often felt in our house. He could be very cruel then turn around and be very loving. There were fits of anger, shouting matches and times of quiet sulking. Dad could also, at times, be very generous. We were always taking in people down on their luck. He would give to others and lend a helping hand when asked. That was his outward persona that people saw but there always was a difference behind the closed door.

In his later years when his health failed and he was dying, I sat by his bed and held his hand. Tears flooded down my checks as the good and hurtful memories flooded my mind. There by his bedside I learned the power in forgiveness. I kissed his cheek, rubbed his hand and told him I loved him and the things that happened were in the past. I forgive you dad. He couldn’t speak but the message in his eyes told me he understood.

There is another Father in my life. Every day I am assured of His faithfulness to me. When I call, He is never too busy to make time for me. He is the best example of what a father should be. His love is all-encompassing, His wisdom far surpasses what the world offers. I am adopted into the family of God because His son Jesus died for my sins. Now I am part of the family of God a joint heir with Jesus Christ His son. God, my heavenly father means the world to me.

Thank you for what you mean to me ABBA.

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