PeRsPeCtIvE

It was Christmas morning and I was savoring the quiet of my home, having celebrated with family the night before. The husband was downstairs reading his news and I, nestled under the covers, a cup of coffee in hand and a sleeping dog at my feet, was remembering the long expected news that I awakened to on Christmas Eve. The message read:

A lifelong friend released her beloved mother to her final destination, after five weeks of hospice care at home. She was a neighbor when I was growing up, one of my own mother’s dearest friends and a woman who touched my life significantly. She spent her first Christmas on streets of gold in a new home specifically prepared for her.

John 14:1-2

PERSPECTIVE

Putting the finishing touches on Christmas eve prep’, I discovered an army of ants taking possession of two pies and a package of dinner rolls. When I say an army, I mean hundreds of tiny black ants that have been terrorizing our home for the last several months. They were currently having a picnic at the expense of my sanity. I frantically summoned my husband and sent him on a replacement mission as I contended with eliminating the swarming soldiers that had overrun my laundry room. I was sharply scolding said ants in very stern tones, feeling very sorry for myself, when I was reminded that my friend lost her mother just hours ago.

How it shoulda been

PERSPECTIVE

Three dozen cookies, baked, frosted and artfully drizzled with chocolate, prepared to be gifted to my neighbors and ready to be transferred to the refrigerator, slide out of my hands landing face down on my kitchen floor after hours of labor invested. Peppermint icing and chocolate syrup splashed onto cupboards and floors mocking any thought of delivery to anyone. Woe is me. Then I am reminded that my cupboards are full and my troubles are few.

How it Was

PERSPECTIVE

An hour later we’re walking into Christmas Eve services when I catch site of my dear friend Nancy, she with a scarf wrapped around her head and a mask over her face as she recovers from a recent stem cell transplant. In the interest of limiting the possiblity of infection of any sort, she has been largely unable to leave her home, let alone worship in our large congregation for many, many weeks. The sight of her fills my eyes with grateful tears and heart to overflowing. Great joy.

Day Made

PERSPECTIVE

A friend shares that in the midst of a trying conflict with one of her children, she gets in her car, upset and discouraged at the failure to find peace. She proceeds to back out of her garage when she catches sight of a neighbor whose own child was killed in an act of violence recently. In an instant she was reminded that despite the momentary disharmony in her own home, she still had her child.

PERSPECTIVE

There is great unrest in our world. We hear news that more Christians in Nigeria have been beheaded by representatives of the Islamic State. Daily we are bombarded by reports of our own leaders slinging horrifying accusations at one another and our culture becomes more devisive by the moment. Those who accuse others of hate, speak their own hate. Facebook reports another missing person every day and what was once shamed is celebrated. Even so, the entire world paused to celebrate the birth of a king who came to save us from our sin. There is still hope in this chaos.

PERSPECTIVE

I give little time and attention to politics or our changing culture, except to pray, for our leaders, all of them, that they would be wise, that they would do good, and that they would be used for God’s purposes here on earth. I don’t trouble myself with the details of who said what. Some may say I’m willfully ignorant of what is happening around me. The truth is, I don’t believe our problems are political or even cultural. I believe our problem is spiritual and hence I take the spiritual road to address them. If I look at the condition of our world, the sorrow of death, the frustrations of daily life and allow them to discourage me, I will be without hope. Instead, my hope is firm.

PERSPECTIVE

They say hindsight is 2020. Well, here we are. It’s 2020. Nostalgia is fine in small doses but to immerse oneself in it too deeply or too frequently generally results in rewriting history, smoothing out the rough edges and idealizing what was while missing what is. Right now. Looking back is useful only if we learn from it and repent from behaviors less than stellar. To repent is to make a u-turn. To learn from the past is useful. To live in the present, with perspective is priceless.

A Thanksgiving Manifesto

Thanksgiving. The very word reminds me how much I already have in a culture that constantly seeks to convince us that we need more. In the spirit of true gratitude, please allow me to share some of the tangible and intangible things I’m most thankful for today.

May I never fail to express gratitude for these gifts:

  • A bed to sleep in and blankets to keep me warm
  • Running water from my multiple faucets
  • Electricity that brings light and warmth
  • A home to return to each night
  • The family I was born into and the one I married into
  • Friends God has graciously placed in my life
  • The ability to be in contact with people all over the world via a device that fits in my pocket
  • Wheels to take me where I need to go
  • The beauty of creation all around me
  • Food in my cupboard and a refrigerator to keep it fresh
  • State of the art healthcare
  • Agencies that protect, serve and respond to our needs
  • Access to news, literature and art
  • Freedom to respectfully disagree
  • Good health
  • A sound mind
  • Feet to walk on
  • Eyes to see, ears to hear and hands to work with
  • A place to freely worship with other like minded believers
  • More love, kindness and mercy than I will ever deserve

And, should I be so bold as to ask for more, let it be for this:

  • To be used by God for His purposes
  • More time with those I love
  • Shared meals around my table
  • Experiences that linger long
  • Words that feed my soul
  • Laughter that warms my heart
  • Eyes to see the needs around me
  • Ears to hear the cries of those in need
  • Arms to embrace the hurting
  • Moments of wonder
  • Conversations that nourish
  • Opportunities to bless from my bounty
  • Wisdom to be a vessel of hope and healing
  • A heart to hold it all

I am thankful for your eyes reading this today and for all the good gifts He has given us. My prayer for you is that you, too would “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

What are you thankful for?

In Praise of Thanksgiving

Tomorrow most of us will gather together with friends and family, to reflect on the blessings we share and the gifts we’ve been given.  A big bird will no doubt light on our tables and disappear in a matter of minutes as we celebrate the season and those in our presence.  Hopefully both our plates and our hearts will be full.  Maybe those around your table will reflect on their many blessings.  (I love that part)

In recent years, many have embraced the tradition of identifying a “word of the year,” a word to be mindful of in the year ahead.  I, for one, have never been able to settle on anything other than “Gratitude.”  It has, for many years, been the word that I hope most reflects the life I live. Hence, I am officially claiming it as my LIFE word.  

Because,  there is much to be grateful for.  In the midst of the sorrows and trials of this life, it would be easy to succumb to despair.  I feel ya. The news of the day wears me right out.  There’s too much cancer and depression and terrorism and abuse and pain all aoround us. 

But, happiness, I believe, is largely dependent on our ability to give thanks for the good, in spite of the bad.  

Many years ago, the week after Christmas and before New Years, the husband and I had a little spat that morphed into a pity party with a guest list of one.   While he watched a football game downstairs,  I made the decision to wash windows in our upstairs bedrooms.  The recent rains and winds had left them clouded with grime and I deemed it a good day to remedy the situation with a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towels.   

I worked non-stop for an hour or so and was pleased as punch with the outcome until my husband responded that he would have greatly preferred that I had begun taking down our dead and drying fire hazard of a  Christmas tree in the  living room instead of dousing upstairs windows. You know, the ones no one but the two of us would likely  see.    Gracious and understanding wife that I was/am,  I accelerated from humble servant to prideful shrew  in nothing flat.  

I retreated upstair in a rage, livid and  astounded at his lack of appreciation for my hard work.   (must I remind you that he was lounging in front of his big screen while I toiled?)  Stewing in self-pity,  (I confess I even  shed a tear or two) I stomped around a bit and then sat down at my desk with a legal pad and pen in hand and set about to write the proverbial pros and cons list, except instead of pros and cons, there were two columns: one listing the things that drive me  crazy (and not in a good way) about this man.  The other was to be a list of all the things I appreciated about him.  

You know how this story ends, do you not?  List A was written in bold angry letters and was relatively short.  An hour or so later, List B was long and still unfinished.  As  I put down my pen, I thanked God for this man I had been so angry with, for He had reminded me that this was the same man who had brought so much good to my life.  

Our patient God  used this simple exercise to remind me that my blessings are far greater than are the trials, irritations and frustrations that often blind me to the good gifts He has given me.   While I acknowledge that  many of the roadblocks in life aren’t  this small and inconsequential,  for the most part, they  do all pale in comparison to the bounty I have received and enjoy.   What makes the difference is which list I choose to focus on.  

So, that day was a marker in my life– a day I look back on as a defining moment.  A day when I chose to be grateful for what I have and to focus on the good, vs, bemoaning what is less than ideal and far from perfect. It was the  day I chose to be intentional about where I focus.  At this season of Thanksgiving, I am reminded again, that to be grateful is to be happy.  

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious– the best not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly;  things to praise, not things to curse.  Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.  Do that and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies. ”  -the Apostle, Paul, (Philippians 4:8-9 The Message)

Today we all have a choice to make.  Which list are you focusing on?  I would venture to say that most of us have enough of all the things we need.    Today, I wish you a grateful heart.  

Happiest of Thanksgivings my dear readers.  You are loved!


Never Forget

On this morning 17 years ago, I awoke to my radio alarm announcing that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane.  In my half conscious state, I stumbled out of bed and walked across the hall to my office where I turned on a television in time to see live, the second plane soar into the second tower.

9/11 Tribute Sounds of Silence (Doninic Bukuski)

IMG_4002For me, the world changed forever that day.  An evil I had never known existed became a part of the fabric of my life.  It had existed no doubt from the beginning of time as we know it, but, it entered my world that day and since then, I have walked through life differently.  Not, in fear or in anxiety, but in the realization that evil is all around us in this broken world and that life is fragile.

May we for this one day,  set aside our weapons of disagreement and strife and name calling and honor those who were taken?

2,974 Lives

2603 in the TwinTowers

351 Fire Fighters/EMTs

246 on Planes

125 at the Pentagon

60 Police Officers

flag of america

Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

May we take a moment to honor them and their unplanned, unexpected sacrifice and the sacrifice of all who loved them?  Might we put down our disagreements and the political rhetoric long enough to agree that evil was present that day in a way most of us had never personally experienced before?  May we grieve the losses and give honor?  May we take comfort in the fact that such evil cannot consume us when our hope is in the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for us on the cross, that we might forever be free of the sting of sin and death?  And may we be thankful for the freedoms we enjoy and the blessing we’ve been given by being citizens of this imperfect country?

Now, take heart.  We do not walk in fear, but in confidence and in victory.

“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies.  There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being.  Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life–body and soul–in His hands.”

~Matthew 10:28, The Message

Don’t be deceived.  There IS an enemy.  The Bible tells us clearly in 1 Peter 5:8 that our enemy the devil is like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour.  He is real.  But, in Christ, we have victory over him.  He roars loudly, but, this lion?  He has no teeth.

animal big blur brave

This lion?  He has no teeth.   (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)