It is now four days since Christmas. I have my Christmas decorations all boxed up and downstairs in the storage room. Today I am dusting, vacuuming and doing whole house cleaning. Getting rid of the cookie crumbs in the carpet, the shiny tinsel that dropped from the tree ornaments as we took them off the tree. Giving my stove a good cleaning and getting rid of leftovers we did not eat
Many love to keep their Christmas decorations up until after the New Year. But I am not one of those. I love Christmas and look forward to putting up the tree and getting out my candles and angels. As soon as Thanksgiving day is over we decorate.
But to be honest, as much as I love the bright lights by the end of December I am ready to get back to more “normal.” Out goes the angels and snowmen and “Jesus is the reason for the season” and in comes the family photographs and winter decorations.
Although I know spring is still a long way off, now is when I start thinking of planting new flowers and longing for the first pop of daffodils in the spring. This year our daughter in North Carolina sent my husband some seeds from her own flower garden. We are really looking forward to having flowers from our daughter’s garden. Already thinking about where we will plant each packet of seeds.
For some there can be a little depression or feeling of loss after all the time spent shopping, decorating, baking and all the family gatherings and other Christmas events. For me, I feel a new sense of “let’s clean house and start planning for next year.”
But as the festivities of Christmas is over and we put up the decorations and move back to “normal” life, I wonder do we just as quickly put Jesus back in the box. We did our thing – we went to Christmas Eve service and sang “Silent Night.” Now we move on.
We often see signs at Christmas time that say “Keep Christ in Christmas.” I often wonder when people say that, what happens after Christmas. Should we not keep Christ in every day, every season, all the time?
As I try not to grumble about the cold and snow and look forward to planting my flower seeds in the spring, I want to keep Christ in each and every day.
To all my friends and readers, it is my prayer that you have a great day!
Merry Christmas from St Johns Michigan!
The Greatest Man in History… Jesus; Had no servants, yet they called Him Master. Had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher. Had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer. He had no army, yet kings feared Him. He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world. He did not live in a castle, yet they called Him Lord, He ruled no nations, yet they called Him King, He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him. He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today (Lyle C Rollings III, 2008).
Although it has been years ago, I still remember the day when I heard I was going to be a mother. What excitement as my husband and I began planning for this addition to our family.
I read books on child care. We began shopping for a crib, a baby bed, and tried to decide if we should use cloth diapers as our mothers did or go with the modern throw away kind. We picked out a new paint color for the nursery. I enjoyed a baby shower given by friends and had such joy finding a place for all the gifts.
After a few months while I still found joy in the waiting for this child, I also began to really long for the nine months to end and the child to come. There was morning sickness that seemed to never end, back aches as my stomach got bigger and bigger. The closer I got to the expected delivery date it seemed the more active my child became. It was hard to sleep at night as no matter how I laid, she seemed to move and turn and I was miserable. Sometimes I could feel what I realized must be a foot or a hand and my excitement grew.
The time for her delivery came – and went. Now my anticipation grew stronger. Come child, come. I am so tired, so miserable and long to be delivered from this stage. But even more, I am so anxious to meet you.
For nine months I have thought about nothing much but you. I have wondered if you would be a girl or boy. I prayed that you would be healthy and have all your toes and fingers. Often I tried to imagine what you would look like. Would you have my red hair or my husband thick, dark hair? For nine months you have been the center of my thoughts. Everything has evolved around “when the baby gets here.”
As the delivery date passed, my anticipation grew much stronger. Every morning I would wake thinking “will this be the day?” Every night I went to bed thinking “will the baby come tonight?”
Then it happened. Sitting in my living room with my husband, my water broke. What excitement as we grabbed the bag we had packed a few weeks before for my stay in the hospital. Thankful that we lived only a few blocks from the hospital, we hurried to the car and were filled with such excitement. The baby was finally coming!
At the hospital there was still a time of waiting. The doctor said “yes, the baby is almost here. Just a few more hours.”
My husband paced the floor as I prayed the baby would come soon. It was painful and I wanted the pain to end, but more than the pain, I longed to finally hold this child in my arms.
After a few hours, the baby was born! I still remember as if it was yesterday, the moment I held her in my arms. To finally see her face to face. To be able to count her toes and fingers, to look into her beautiful hazel eyes, just like her Daddy’s. To whisper to her how much I loved her and how I had longed for her arrival.
It’s Christmas time. We are excited about the day. Seeing family members, opening presents, enjoying a great feast.
But I wonder, do we really understand what this time of Advent should be about? How much do we anticipate the return of our Lord? Do we even think about it?
Does the thought of His return fill us with excitement? Do we count the years since His promise and wonder “When will you return?” Do we think about what it will mean to see HIm face to face? Does that thought fill us with wonder?
There is such chaos in our world today. Covid has created health issues, and divided people on what our response should be. Politics have beoome so ugly, so divisive. Many are suffering financially. Fires in California, tornadoes in Kentucky. Almost weekly we hear of a shooting in a mall, in a factory and now even in our churches and schools. We are like a woman in the last months of pregnancy, hoping for deliverance soon.
But where do we turn for deliverance? Some are thinking if we can just get Donald Trump back in the White House all will be well. Others think if we can just get rid of Donald Trump and keep Biden in the White House all will be well. Some are hoping Congress will pass some legislature that will solve it all. Just the right action by them and suddenly the Covid crisis will pass, the economy will get better, the violence will be controlled.
As for me, while I have no idea when that day will come just as I did not know the exact day my child would be born, I live in anticipation.
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Just as I did not sit around doing nothing when I was told I was pregnant, so must we not just sit around and wait for the day of His return. I was busy preparing. How do we prepare for the Lord’s return? He told us in HIs parables. We work to help others, to make our world as much like His kingdom as we can. To be His hands, his eyes, his arms to those in need until He returns and makes all things right.
This season, I encourage you to seek to do all you can to reach out in His love to the hurting world as you wait for His return.
And in all the dinners, parties, family gatherings, please take time to remember what this season should really mean to us. And in all the chaos, frustrations of daily life right now, remember our Lord will return. While we wait, work to be His hands and feet to help those in need.
There’s a light upon the mountains, and the day is at the spring, When our eyes shall see the beauty and the glory of the King; Weary was our heart with waiting, and the night-watch seemed so long, But His triumph-day is breaking, and we hail it with a song.
In the fading of the starlight we can see the coming morn; And the lights of men are paling in the splendors of the dawn; For the eastern skies are glowing as with lights of hidden fire, And the hearts of men are stirring with the throb of deep desire.
There’s a hush of expectation, and a quiet in the air; And the breath of God is moving in the fervent breath of prayer; For the suffering, dying Jesus is the Christ upon the throne, And the travail of our spirit is the travail of His own.
He is breaking down the barriers, He is casting up the way; He is calling for His angels to build up the gates of day; But His angels here are human, not the shining hosts above, For the drum-beats of His army are the heart-beats of our love.
This time of Advent we not only remember the birth of our Savior but we also look forward with anticipation to His return. We sometimes long for that day when evil will finally be completely defeated and peace will truly reign.
But what do we do while we wait?
We often pray the Lord’s prayer where we ask that “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” With that prayer we try to imagine what this world would be like if God’s will was completely done on earth?
But what do we do while we wait?
We admire the beautiful sunsets, enjoy the waves of the ocean crashing onto the shore, stand in awe of the majestic mountains and long for a world free of man’s pollution. Our imagination paints us a picture of what the world must have looked like in the very beginning of creation. How we long for the day when the earth will be restored to that beauty.
But what do we do while we wait?
As we look at the chaos and tragedies all around us, we can begin to even lose hope. We can wonder if God has abandoned us.
But what do we do while we wait?
We must remember that we who call ourself Christians, followers of Christ, are called to be His representatives in this world. While we wait for that day when He returns, even now in us we can allow God’s will to be done in our lives. We can surrender our own desires, our own opinions, our own will and allow Him to use us to reach out to others.
‘Wherever God rules over the human heart as King, there is the kingdom of God established.” Paul W. Harrison
“The church is not a fortress community waiting for a future kingdom. Rather, we realize that the Kingdom of God has already arrived, in part…The church is God’s eschatological community, drawing the future into the present, living out Kingdom values and inviting the world to experience its power now….As God’s eschatological community, we hope for ultimate redemption din the future. But, in the present, we break down barriers and bear each other’s brokenness. Through this here and now experience, Christ’s bride, the church, begins to take on the beauty that will be hers when He comes to claim her as His own.” Brad Harper
But what do we do while we wait?
Let us continue to look with hope to His return. But let us not be guilty of just standing around waiting for “someday.” Let us do all we can to show the world what it means to be part of God’s kingdom even here in this world we share. Let us allow God’s Holy Spirit to move through us to bring a little bit of “heaven” to our friends, neighbors, community.
Growing up every year as fall began, I would begin getting excited when the mailman came. I would come home from school and ask my mother, “Did it come today?” Anticipation grew each day until finally Mom would smile and say “Here it is!” How excited I would be as I opened the Montgomery Wards Christmas catalog.
Aaron Montgomery Ward launched the nation’s first mail-order business with a one-page price list boasting 163 items, which he sent to farmers’ cooperatives throughout the rural Midwest. Unlike existing mail-order businesses that dealt only in individual items, Ward offered the rural consumer a variety of merchandise and, by eliminating the middleman, kept prices low. His new business found a ready market as homesteaders pushed west across the frontier. By the spring of 1874, his price list had grown to 32 pages and was bound into a catalog. Ward offered a guarantee – “Satisfaction…
I hate waiting in line at the grocery store. I hate waiting in the doctor’s office. I hate waiting on my husband who is always talking to someone wherever we go. Did you notice? I don’t like waiting.
This Sunday marks the first Sunday of what the church calls Advent. Growing up in a non-liturgical church I never really celebrated Advent as it is done in main stream churches that follow a church calendar recognizing certain festivals and reading certain portions of Scripture. Only in the past few years have I come to appreciate this observance of “waiting.”
“Advent” literally means “coming” or “arrival.” It is a Latin term which was used when translating the Bible from Greek. In the Greek the word used is “parousia.” It meant “a coming” or “presence.” In the Early Church this term quickly became associated with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ disciples were waiting for His return – as the Christian church still is today.
This season of Advent is a time of waiting for the coming of Jesus. We celebrate it from three different views.
First, we remember His first coming to earth in Bethlehem. What a time to remember and celebrate. That the Creator of the universe was willing to become one of us is amazing! To subject Himself to human limitations was in itself quite a sacrifice. But He not only came to be one of us – but chose to be born to a poor, simple carpenter and his wife.
This is also a time to celebrate His coming into our own life. To reflect on what his birth, death and resurrection means to us personally. In all the busyness of the season, we need to schedule some time to examine our own heart and make sure we have really made room for Him in our own heart, our own mind, our own life. To remember the real reason for the season.
Finally it is a time to remember that Jesus has promised to return again. We can get so focused on the “here and now” that we lose sight of that hope of the Christian. In today’s world when so much is chaotic it is good to remember we have hope beyond this life.
I hope you will take time this month to “wait” and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
Shortly after posting that blog my youngest daughter called to tell me she had some bad news. Our granddaughter had been sent home from school that morning, along with all her class, because they had been exposed to Covid-19 the day before. They would have to quarantine for Thanksgiving and would not be able to join us for the day as we had planned.
Of course, my first concern was that she and her parents would not get Covid-19 in spite of the exposure. But immediately I also realized what this meant for us. They would have to spend the day with just the three of them and my husband and I would be just two for Thanksgiving.
We have a large blended family but they are scattered all over the USA. We have children and grandchildren in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri and Illinois. As the grandchildren have grown up and married with families of their own, our Thanksgiving gathering has slowly gotten smaller.
Moving three years ago to Michigan we only have one daughter nearby. And yes, she is the one who had to quarantine.
As I started to feel discouraged about that, I remembered my own blog I just posted.
So I began looking at what I have to be thankful – even as my Thanksgiving feast will only have two seats at the table.
Here are just a few of the things I found I have to be thankful for:
Thankful for cell phones and FB so I can still wish loved ones Happy Thanksgiving and see pictures of them.
Thankful that none of my family have died from the Covid-19 though a few of them have had the virus.
Thankful that I have my husband – my bbf – and I will not be all alone at the table as some may be.
Thankful for my beautiful home and that my table will still be full of good food.
Thankful for health so that I can prepare the meal not only for us two but also take a meal to my daughter’s home and leave it on the porch for them to enjoy.
Thankful for being granted the privilege of being born in this country.
The more I thought about it, the more my list of things to be thankful for grew.
The best thing to thank God for is that we will soon be celebrating his coming to earth to live, to die, to rise again. That in the midst of chaos, He is there.
How did my Thanksgiving day go?
My husband worked with me fixing the turkey and all the trimmings, then quickly took some of it to our daughter’s home. We enjoyed the meal, shared a time of prayer and Bible reading, played Scrabble (we are Scrabble’s addicts), and ended the evening with a movie.
As we went to bed last night my husband said, “This has been a different Thanksgiving and I missed family, but in a way it was one of my favorites. I spent the day with my best friend doing things we loved to do. It caused me to really take a look at all the blessings God has given us and I am very grateful.”
The day ended well for me – I won the Scrabble game!!!!
My daughter sent me a picture of my granddaughter enjoying my pumpkin pie – with loads of Cool Whip.
And after almost a week – it appears my family are free of symptoms – no Covid-19.
It’s that time of year – I am making out my menu for Thanksgiving and getting a grocery list made for that special day. As my list grows longer and longer I once again remember the Thanksgiving day I spent as a missionary in the Philippines and the special turkey we were given. Hope this story will help you realize how much we in America have to be thankful for. Even in the midst of the last two years, we are blessed.
It was 1991 and my husband and youngest daughter were spending our first Thanksgiving on the mission field. Homesickness was filling my heart as I remembered all the Thanksgivings of the past spent with family and friends. A table loaded with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, biscuits and all the other goodies we enjoyed that time of year. Visions of pumpkin pie, pecan pie and my mother’s delicious chocolate pie danced through my head.
But the thing I was missing most was the loved ones that gathered around that table. This year would be the first Thanksgiving for my youngest granddaughter. How I longed to see her taste that pumpkin pie for the first time, to hold her on my lap and rock her to sleep.
At first we thought we would try to duplicate the American thanksgiving dinner. However, it soon became clear that it would be difficult…
And just like that – Santa is gone for another year. But Jesus remains all year long. His gifts are year-round.
Santa comes but once a year; Jesus is an ever-present help; Santa fills your stocking with goodies; Jesus supplies all your needs.
Santa comes down your chimney uninvited; Jesus stands at your door and knocks, and then enters your heart when invited.
Santa Claus lets you sit on his lap; Jesus lets you rest in His arms; Santa may make you chuckle; Jesus gives you joy that is your strength; Santa lives at the North Pole; Jesus is everywhere present; Santa says you better not cry; Jesus says “come unto me all you who are weary.”
I first posted this 6 years ago. This Christmas as we face gatherings that may be smaller than usual, family and friends we will miss seeing as Covid has restricted travel, it could be easy to get depressed or start complaining. I just want to encourage everyone to remember while our table may not be as loaded with food as usual, we are still much better off than many. Reach out and help someone this year. I saw a quote on FB that says it so well. “This may not be the year to get everything we want, but the year to appreciate what we have.”
What a great feast we had at Thanksgiving! Turkey, dressing, scalloped potatoes, corn, sugared carrots, salad, homemade bread, and of course, pumpkin pie.
After our Thanksgiving meal we had so much turkey left over, we cut it up and made soup with noodles and chicken broth. It was delicious and we used up our left over homemade bread with lots of butter!
Now it’s time to shop for the Christmas meal.
So many choices.
Shall we do turkey again or ham? Maybe some Cornish hens? Scalloped potatoes or mashed? Maybe some sweet potatoes? Same salad or a different one? Homemade bread again or shall we do dinner rolls? And dessert? Pecan pie, apple pie, banana pudding, peach cobbler?
So many choices.
That’s the story for most of us in the USA this year. However, in many homes across the USA – and certainly in the rest…