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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent

Not-enough-ism runs rampant...
 

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
I'm too old to be the fairest of them all...


Elizabeth in the Bible lived under a cloud.  She was barren.  She wasn't enough.  Her neighbors thought her a disgrace.  After all, Zacharias was such a nice young man turned into poor Zacharias is such a nice priest,  but...tsk, tsk, he has Elizabeth for a wife.  I wonder what she did wrong?"


 

"Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship
will likely be in your darkest days--
when your heart is broken,
when you feel abandoned,
when you are out of options,
when the pain  is great--
and you turn to God."
Rick Warren 
 
 
 

Even though the promise was, "He has shown His favor..." (Luke 1:25), she remained in seclusion for five months.  Morning sickness?  Waiting for the proof of quickening as Liz Curtis Higgs suggests? Waiting for her belly to swell?  Pregnant at her age with a mute husband, imagine that!  She didn't have to hear it!  More than anything, she had those months to ponder like Mary treasuring these things up in her heart.  Finally, she went out to dispel the gloom of the naysayers...


"This is the way the Lord has dealt with me
in the days when He looked with favor upon me
to take away my disgrace among men."
another translation, "among the people."
Luke 1:25
 
God wants to look with favor upon us, to dispel our disgrace that is whispered among the people.  Have you pondered the favor of God?  Have you gone out to show to others His favor?

 
You are enough
because He is enough.

The miraculous gift was given
to Elizabeth and Zacharias
for a purpose.
 
"For all her years of feeling less-than, Elizabeth had worshipped
a more-than God.  Now she intended to give him the glory for it.
What's the opposite of disgrace?  Ah. Grace.  God filled her with his favor,
his mercy, his loving-kindness.  Then he filled her with a son..."
Liz Curtis Higgs from "Women of Christmas"
 
 (No, this is not a turkey and, no, this is not me.  I really am too old
and God has already gifted the world with my children.)
 
There will always be the blamers, the whisperers, the doubters
who say you are not enough.  But He gets the final word:
"God in us."
No greater mystery.
No greater enough-ism.
 
 
 
 

 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Day Before Advent...

Women of Christmas
This a little like our tree will look like this year
honoring the women of Christmas.  Come and see.
 
 
Mary, a child?...a woman?  What signifies a child becoming a woman?  Is it when her time of the month makes her vulnerable to the possibilities of childbearing?  Was she at twelve, engaged?...at thirteen, married?  Perhaps she was as old as fourteen by the time she was delivered as would not be uncommon in her milieu.  We do know she was pure: "Young, Chaste, Submissive." Yet, her coming of age is totally different from every other girl becoming a woman in all of history, backwards and forward.
 
 
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
And for that reason, the 'holy thing begotten,'
shall be called the Son of God."
Luke 1:35
 
The angel Gabriel is giving Mary the talk of the birds and the bees and the Holy Ghost in response to her simple, "How can this be?" 
 
 
How?
 
The Holy Spirit comes in fire and in power.  He also is the brooding cloud over the deep in creation.  He is the shekinah glory in the temple, the weight of glory hovering over.  Just as Daniel became weak and even fell into a deep sleep in the presence of Gabriel, so I imagine the very presence of God overwhelmed her even more so.  The mystery.  The secret divine, no explanation could be truly given to her simple question, "How?"  God made the mold and He can break the mold, the mold of inception.
 
 
"Be it done unto me."
 Luke 1:38
 
Gabriel did not tell her that Joseph would stand by her.  He did not say that her parents would understand.  But he did tell her that her relative Elizabeth was also pregnant: one too old and one too young.  "For nothing will be impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)  "Who else is Mary going to tell?  Her twelve year old friends?"  Then it says, "Now at this time Mary arose and went with haste to the hill country...and entered the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth.  More about that later.
 
(quotes are from "Women of Christmas," by Liz Curtis Higgs as well as from Scripture.)
 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Silver Bells?
 
 



A Pair of Silver-haired Ding Dongs
 

True story...two elderly gents in walkers made their escape from the rest home to do a beer run, or rather, a beer creep to the nearest mini-mart.  They happened by a large SUV with the keys left in it and decided to go on a little joy ride up the mountain and returned the back way where they crashed.  Smashed and smashed.  A DUI.  Stolen vehicle.  The first responders came upon one of them alone in a field handcuffed by his walker.  The other was still being pursued.  Busted.  It's amazing what doesn't make it in our papers.  So here you have it.  They started their holiday celebrating a tad early.  I don't know if they've been released back to their rest homes, but the police did find an electric scooter left at the mini mart. 

 
It was death defying.
 
 
The moral to the story is don't drink and drive your electric scooter this holiday.  This story tops the one about the local guy who tried to steal a riding lawn mower from Walmart, but just wasn't fast enough to be the ideal get away car.  Why does a vision of Steve McQueen jumping the motorcycle over the wall come to mind?  The Great Escape with walkers.

 
But the Christmas Story does give us portraits of
two elderly people who were caught up in the Advent,
 waiting their whole lives for the birth of a Savior.
 
 
They were about to break out their celebrating...but more about that later.
 
"It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." 
Luke 2:26
 

Thursday, November 27, 2014


 We are pilgrims. A pilgrim is a foreigner abroad; a person who travels about; wanderer; any member of the English Puritans who formed Plymouth Colony in 1620.  My Wesleyan roots grew out of the Pilgrim Holiness Church.  I am a pilgrim, from my ancestors on the Mayflower, to my church heritage, to my Biblical foundation. 
 

 


This world is not our home: 
Wherever we may roam,
God is still on His throne;
This ol'world is just on loan.
 
 
 
Yet, rest, weary pilgrim;
Join and sing our hymn.
Gather together family and friends
Hear as your voice blends
In harmony with man and God
It's His greatness that we laud.
 C.J.
 
 
  
"...not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off,
and were persuaded of them and embraced them, and confessed that
 they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Hebrews 11:13 (KJV)

 
Happy Thanksgiving, Pilgrim.
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

 Thankful for the scars of happiness,
 
 
If you have an autoimmune disease, you are surprised by the days of feeling good.  The other ones have become your norm.  Enjoying good health is such an accurate statement.  You may not look any different to those around you, but it is nice to have a glimpse of everyone else's normal sometimes.  I marvel at others' energy, not really jealous, just incredulous. 


For years, before meds, I DAILY had someone tell me how tired I looked.  I could not go to church without hearing it said repeatedly.  I really was dragging all the time, but it was such a norm that I attributed to motherhood. 

I was actually told this by a doctor.
 
There is no workman's comp for motherhood like when my back was ruined, not to mention sleep deprivation.  As with everything, there was a lesson to be learned, joy in the pain.  Just because motherhood was hard, it was still the most joyful thing I ever attempted.  As I fought through the fog of depression, I knew it was physical because I was happy at the same time.  Weird, isn't it.


Many meds later and doctor diagnosis evolving, I think I have come to an understanding that I was made as a weaker vessel, an earthen vessel.  As a one-time potter, I understand that.  If a clay pot has not been fired, it is fragile and could crumble easily.  I attest to becoming stronger because of the heat of the kiln.  Such a vessel can still be chipped, or cracked, but is useful, even beautiful in daily use.


Got hymns?  We do..."How firm a foundation"

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! 
What more can He say than to you He has said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
 
'Fear not; I am with thee, O be not dismayed, for I am thy God, I will still give thee aid.
I'll strength thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.'
 
'When thro' the deep waters, I call thee to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy trials to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.'
 
'When thro' fi'ry trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.'
 
'E'vn down to old age all my people shall prove My sov'reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when silver hair shall their temples adorn, like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.'
 
'The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, tho' all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never, no never, no never forsake.'


 
I marvel that growing up as a youth and singing this hymn, owning this hymn, its truth helped me understand the life I was to live in His strength, not my own.
 
 
"For consider your calling, brethren...God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things  which are strong...it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work."  I Corinithians 1:26, 27, 3:13
 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thankful for friends.


"My friends make me feel alive."  My son said this as we were going out the door to drop him off at a gathering of teen boys.  Our son who has tended to isolate, is now doing better.  He is not the only one thankful for his friends: as concerned parents, we know it is a healthy thing to have friends.  We are thankful for good boys, young men actually, who are in his inner circle.   In fact, I was surprised to hear him say, now that he is getting serious about bringing his grades up, "I've decided to change desks because I was just talking to my friends instead of paying attention in class."  A social butterfly?  Who knew?

 
Parents' universal warning:
"If your friends jump off a cliff, would you do it too?"
Just make sure his friends aren't lemmings.
 

 
Our other son (on the right) cannot live without his friends!
He is not a social butterfly, but a social hummingbird.


We have always enjoyed our children's friends, gifts in all of our lives.  So many have grown up as wonderful adults who have precious families of their own.  We still have connections, even if it is second hand through our grown kids. 


One of my biggest guilts is not keeping in touch with friends long distance.  I wish they were all on social media because I still have not overcome my hesitancy using a phone.  In fact, it is getting worse.  I rarely even call my siblings.  It is shameful.  Even the yearly Christmas card is usually a greeting with just a family picture or sometimes a Christmas letter.  Yet, I treasure them in my heart.  I need to let them know that once in a while.  "When ignored by someone whose attention means the most to you, the reaction in the brain is similar to physical pain."  "Love unexpressed is love unknown."  It's good that it's almost time for the annual Christmas card to assuage my guilt a little longer.

 
"A friend loves at all times."
Proverbs 17:17

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Come, ye thankful people, come; raise the song of harvest home."
 
 


Thankful gathering of thankful people...What is more amazing than a man who just turned ninety who has not even celebrated his first anniversary with his new bride, than the gathering every other Friday of people to his home in the middle of orchards, who come to eat together, sing together, hear a devotion together, and pray together.  It's a very New Testament thing.  He began it as a widower, a new bachelor in his eighties.  Now forty to sixty people squeeze in. 

 
Someone brings a guitar and strong voice, another is an elderly blind singer, then a professional singer and her cousin all naturally come forward to sing.  We join in as we wish.  The Spirit sings harmony.  Unity from many believers, from many churches, from young and old, saints and newly washed sinners, is unmistakable.  Even unbelievers are drawn in and welcomed.  There is not a more special couple, Johnnie and Shirley, who adopted us as their own for these many years.  What a blessing!


"We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing.  He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.  Sing praises to His name; He forgets not His own."

"We give thanks to you, O God,
we give thanks, for Thy name is near."
 
Psalm 75:1

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Gratitude...
 

"The world is so full of a number of things,
 
 
we should all be as happy as kings."
Robert Louis Stevenson
 
Instead of grating nerves, try gratefulness.  For instance, instead of seeing the mounds of dirty laundry reaching the rafters after a regular roundup whipping those little doggies into the laundry chute, I am grateful.  I remember the rusty, as in giant-brown-flakes-coming-off-and-leaving-stains-washing machine which we had to shove to put  the hose up into the sink.  Sometimes it worked loose and sprayed the whole kitchen.  Of course there was no dryer except the line out back.


Instead of dragging around grumbling about running errands, I am thankful when I remember the first half of our married lives with one car, cars like the old ranchero always in a shade of primer from fender benders with a clutch but no emergency brake, or the squat brown "gasy" Pinto.  Now I don't have to wait for my man to come home before leaving the house right when I want to be home with him.

 
Is there a Pinto grave yard?
I don't think so: they've already gone to that other place.
 
Instead of standing in front of a full closet of clothes fretting over what to wear, I remember my childhood.  Even in my teen years, I had just enough clothes to wear a different thing five days of the week only to be repeated on the following Monday.  Most of my wardrobe was purchased by my babysitting money.   On into our married lives, we did not shop recreationally going only once to the mall in the three years we lived in San Diego.  Oh, those college days wearing the same things we wore in high school without thinking anything of it.  I am grateful for a walk-in closet full of beautiful things, even if most are second hand.


Instead of feeling hassled about loading groceries into the overflowing cart, emptying them out onto the belt that rolls up to the cashier, loading them back into the cart for a little heavy pushing into the parking lot and unloading them into the trunk, then unloading them from the car to the kitchen, I am thankful.  Such plenty, so many choices, barely remembering times less fortunate.

 
Oh, deer!
 
You get the drift.  Gratitude.  It's the season.  How else can we prepare Him room?   Advent is coming...the last Sunday of November.  What are you thankful for?  Scatter gratitude.

 

 

"Therefore, since we have received a kingdom which cannot be shaken,
let us show gratitude,
by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe..."
Hebrews 12:18
 
 
Show by gratitude...
Have you had a little reverence and awe today?

Friday, November 21, 2014

 
 
 
 
For Letticia and her sisters...
 

 
What does it all boil down to?
What about the mother who has six beautiful daughters
While still so young herself?
What about that mother who tries to numb her pain...
a painful life, a painful mind that does not cope well?
In spite of it all, her daughters bloom where they were transplanted.
She was able to smell her flowers touching their tender petals
with a broken love and a beautiful smile, the smile that graces their faces through tears.
 
 
 
 
"These three remain, faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love."
I Corinthians 13:13