The Holy Spirit is tapping me on the shoulder again. Wake up to trust me who loves you unconditionally. always. …God
… But if I wag my tail furiously, someone will come by and give me a wonderful home. I will just be. I will trust completely…. Rascal G. Smith-Davis
Every day for three months I came to the door of the cat room to greet the people that came to the shelter, trusting that someone would give me a good home. I trust completely. ……. Blake B. Smith-Davis-Cat
A wonderful dinner awaits me while I busily work on my assignment due today. I trust Roger will provide.
Neighbor stops her busy day to read my paper… I care about you. …T.
Can I do any less?
God provides for me (for us) in all things. I declare my weakness but know I will succeed at what is most important by letting go to trust God who loves me just as I am. Be renewed. Declare how despite the fact you fall on your face; you still are loved. Completely. For who you are secretly deep inside by Him who gave his Life for you. …Bonnie
Psalm 139 V.1-12
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. 3 You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.
5You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.
Open your eyes a little wider, please. What do you believe you will see with your eyes wide open? I believe that the healing process of Light penetrates the eyes so you can see more. But what is it you wish to see in the busy-ness of the present and planning for what is to come?
Do old songs ever get into your head? Your heart? I believe the healing Spirit puts them there for a reason.
Also, I believe that what I intend to perceive is what I will see. I must be open. God knocks at the door; I must open the door to let in the Light. Yesterday the Spirit touched my heart and stopped my “busy” plan cold with the radiant, sweet lines of the old song “I Believe,” slowly ungunking my sight with its message…
“I believe for every drop of rain that falls…”
“What is on your to-do list for today?”
“Where are you going, honey?”
These questions are answered in myriads of ways…lists of to-dos. Check off one, go to another… Little Rascal stands wagging his tail. He just doesn’t understand why the list doesn’t seem to include him.
“A flower grows…”
I sit, looking down at the phone in hand, answering yet another text message from a friend while sweet puppy Rascal wags and quietly stares in my direction, peeking around the Christmas tree. He asks with big brown eyes, “What is so important to you? Pet me. Please.”
“I believe that somewhere in the darkest night…”
Slightly irritated at Rascal, but more at myself, I get up and pad in my muk-luk socks down the hall toward my room, I peek in to see the computer light shine on my husband’s glasses as he works on another project. He’s busily involved in family finances. Looking beyond him, I see through the darkness… fresh fallen snow. Christmas week.
“A candle glows…”
Turning the corner into our family room, I sigh at stacks of books and files left over from a conference I returned from a week or so ago. Projects seem endless and I have reports to write, but where is the time to share the candlelight glow of a warm fire with a loved one?
Pet the puppy?
Extravagant use of time, right?
“I believe for everyone that goes astray.”
Digging down into my pile of books, I find the one I was looking for to handle a business issue that has come up and move down the hall toward my study, when a glint of light flashing off the brass lamp at my piano calls me over.
“Someone will come to show the way…”
My eyes are drawn to the light falling on a song that I was practicing for an upcoming meeting. I stop in my tracks, entranced by the title…” I Believe…” I make my way around the piano and continue reading the words. My hands are drawn up to the keyboard and I start playing and singing the words dear to my heart.
“Then I know why…”
The busyness of the day fades away, and I smile as I hear Rascal jump into a nearby chair and cock his head toward the piano. My heart radiantly fills up with the Holy Spirit, Who once again gently taps me on the shoulder and encompasses me with a loving warm embrace.
Rascal sniffs the book sitting quietly on the table beside him and loses interest as the melodic tones flow into him.
Rascal comes next. That report can wait awhile.
Jesus lives on, in, and through us, God’s Will is continuing to manifest now and will forevermore.
How is the Holy Spirit tapping you on your shoulder today? How are you seeing the world at this moment?
I believe for every drop of rain that falls A flower grows I believe that somewhere in the darkest night A candle glows I believe for everyone that goes astray Someone will come to show the way I believe I believe
I believe above the storm the smallest prayer Will still be heard I believe that someone in the great somewhere Hears every word Every time I hear a newborn baby cry Or touch a leaf Or see the sky Then I know why I believe Every time I hear a newborn baby cry Or touch a leaf Or see the sky Then I know why I believe
Writer/s: Al Stillman, Ervin M Drake, Irwin Graham, Jimmy Shirl Publisher: CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC, T.R.O. INC.
Sky greets me, tail wagging and straining forward as before, in her new warm grey- and -white sweater. Her new mom Jess smiles as Sky confidently moves forward. As I get reacquainted with beautiful Sky, Jess reaches down to stroke her sweet pup. “Sky is improving in her balance and in learning how to be with others after her amputation,” but really doesn’t seem too sure about coming back here to the humane society for our visit. A tentative wag combined with a gaze around the animal pen and while leaning in to my leg confirms her guess.
After a pause Jess continues with her eyes steadily on her pup, “Sky loves to be close to me and play with her tug/toss toy at home. She knows that I need her as much as she needs me. We help each through each day.” Sky gazes back at her mom and gives her a reaffirming sniff and nose lick.
Jess continues stroking her little girl and adds that it has been a tough month or so for both of them…and that they are so grateful for all the loving, caring friends at the humane society in the Second Chances program that allows pets with special considerations to be readied for adoption. Also, that new owners as herself wish to show deep appreciation for those willing to devote sponsor kennels and surgery sponsors. ** Thank you!
Bored by all of our continued “barking”, Sky spots a tug toy by the dog house and runs over to check the scents. Conversation turns to the holidays and the fact that soon Jess and Sky will celebrate their very first Christmas together. Sky seems truly a special gift from God for Jess and Jess for her. Love. Pure and simple Love. As Sky wanders back, she nuzzles closer when Jess bends down to adjust her pup’s sweater to keep warm in the November chill.
Sky, looking up obediently at her forever mom for the next instruction, lays down on command, now just contented to be beside her mom. The bond of trust and love that has been building since they first met is clearly growing stronger.
Jess quietly adds that throughout the decision-making process of whether or not to adopt, each time she visited Sky or Sky was allowed to visit at her home, she quietly believed with all the love in her heart that she would be Sky’s forever friend. They would be together throughout all their challenges. Still, Jess had to consider would be best in the long run for Sky who had gone through so much with coming to the humane society with a deep hurting body, the amputation process. for her loved ones, and for herself.
Finally, Jess listens to her heart and decides to take the necessary steps to adopt her inspirational, loving, young pit bull mix with her missing right front leg and the enormously loving heart!
Since that decision, these two friends have been at each other’s side through periods of adjustment in their life and the lives of those they love. Sky comforts and remains very close to Jess as Jess has needed her during a dear friend’s illness. Jess has consistently been there for Sky, taking her into the vet for regular checkups following Sky’s amputation which the vet says is healing well. Also, Jess, as alluded to earlier, keeps working with Sky in conjunction with her training to grow more comfortable with her new gaited walking, to act appropriately and to be more comfortable around others.
As the chill nipped underneath our coats, and a few more questions are answered, we all have the warm feeling spoken only through our hearts. Joy and Love. Sky has her fur-ever home. Her amputation is over, and the healing takes over, not only of the body, but in her deep, loving heart with so much to give! Sky was home. And so was Jess.
Merry Christmas, dear readers. We must continue to be love. Sky’s deep love-filled heart which does not give up but shows endless determination to love others in spite of her missing limb!
My challenge for you: about a personal “limb” or wound that you really focus (lean) on, spend a lot of time being concerned about, like a job, bill, illnesses, or possible outcome of an event. In other words, what are you willing to cast aside in order to focus on showing the gift of Love of Christ?
Then, set an intention to read Corinthians 1, chapter 13 (below) every day for ten days. Ponder what deep love might look like for a person or creature in your life.
Verses to Ponder: First Corinthians 13
“If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…8 Love never fails.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Did you know that Advent and Hanukah begin on the same day this year? November 28, 2021 on the Gregorian calendar, is also the 25th day of the month Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, which is always the date Hanukah starts. (By the way, there’s no correct way to spell Hanukkah. Common spellings are the two I’ve used, plus Chanukah, Chanuka, and Chanucah.)
Advent in the Christian tradition is the 40 days leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth which is celebrated December 25, however erroneously, since the birth has been suggested to have occurred in early September, according to astrological calculations. That is when the planets of Jupiter, the moon and Saturn, aligned, and were possibly the “star of Bethlehem” referred to in the gospels, and which will not align that particular way again for another 16, 000 years, according to nationalpost.com.
Hanukah, a Jewish holiday, is also called the Festival of Lights. It is the celebration of when the oil found in one jar, normally enough for one day, miraculously burned for 8 days in the temple during the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century BC.
My thoughts about these two important calendar dates coinciding is that it is the greatest message. The light of the world, Jesus Christ, has come for both Jews and Gentiles. And as Christians, we believe that he came for all, lived for all, and died for all, making the way clear into the Holiest of Holies, the Presence of God, for all who believe.
Male and female, Jew and Gentile, all are one in the gospel which says that all who believe are being formed into a spiritual temple, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 2:21, 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 2 Corinthians 5:1) The Bible says that we are the temple of God, when we believe and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. And that we are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14-16). That is such a cool statement!
Some special ideas for personal and family growth in Christ through Advent are to study the differences and similarities between Advent and Hanukah, and read the Bible passages about the birth of Christ in Luke 2 and elsewhere.
In addition, to clear our hearts and minds, we can seek to forgive all who have wronged us this year in any way, and to pray blessings over our enemies. (Mark 11:25, Matthew 5:43-48) We can also confess any sins to God and another trusted person, so that they may pray for us so we can be healed. (James 5:16) And we can ask God to shine his light on our path so that our way is clear before us and so that we do not stumble. (Psalm 119:105).
As Christians consider the Advent season, attempting to clear hearts and minds of any unholy clutter from the year and to focus on God’s light and word for our lives, it’s good to come apart and rest, maybe light a candle, and give thanks to God for all his benefits.
I pray the love of God shines on each one of us this Advent and Hanukah season and that we all seek the purest light from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can save us from our sins and make us worthy to join him in Heaven eternally.
Laurie Jane Stawicki, mother of five, singer-songwriter, speaker, and author of the upcoming memoir “Sacrifice of Tears,” and “Don’t Count Your Chickens.” LJ loves and writes in Iowa. You can contact her at LJStawicki@yahoo.com. Please put “Sacrifice of Tears” in the subject line. Thank you for reading!
Sometimes I wake up feeling grouchy, and really, really want to cover my head with my pillow and snuggle down, but I know down deep, that if the day is to go well, I know I must follow a routine doing exercise (like yoga) and reading Scripture, group prayer and a good breakfast.
But before all that, I will try to push myself to wake up by plumping my pillow, putting my hands on my stomach and just slowly breathing. As I take my breath in, I often say a favorite Scripture as I read like “This is the day the Lord has made, and on the outbreath, let us rejoice and be glad in it” several times…Whatever comes to my head through the grace of the Spirit. I thank God for this life, this day, my heartbeat, my breathing, the ability to use my senses…maybe not as well as I used to, on and on. Till I feel a smile of gratitude coming on my face, connecting me to the Lord who created me and every other particle of matter that exists.
And later, as I get out into the world to walk my dog, I often have a song come to my mind as I interact with nature around me in the stillness of the morning. One particular song of gratitude often comes into my heart and continues to fill me deeply with the way we can see the connections in the world today and must be to each other. All affects all. Everything comes from God. We love because God first loved us.
A nutritious question for your day: What serves to help you get past grouchy moments to starting a good morning? …to have a grateful attitude, remembering Christ’s abiding Love in and through us, the indwelling Holy Spirit who comforts and guides you? Perhaps an old song, a beautiful memory, a Scripture, the Spirit’s quiet words leading when you are tired, grouchy or just in need of an attitude change?
Today, I looked at Facebook. On it I saw the daughter of an old friend. It looked like she was having a great time! She had a beautiful house, a fun business that she enjoys and that she works hard at, and she had a husband and a couple of good-looking children. Not only that, she was beautiful too! Like a model.
While part of me is telling me that she had help from her parents and maybe she married a rich husband to have such a wonderful house, I must remind myself that my destiny, to some degree, is in my own hands. What are some steps I can take to make a life that I feel good about?
First of all, are there things (or people) in my life that need to go to free up space for the new and the beautiful? Objects, clothes, certain acquaintances, time wasters and poor habits could be cleared to make way for the best.
What are the things I could change in my life to create a more wonderful life for myself and my family? Am I living where I want to live? Am I working at what I love? Am I living this week, month, year vibrantly, as if it were my last?
Some people, me included, have wondered where the line is drawn with how much God wants us to take care of ourselves, versus how much time we are caring for others. And most of us who are mothers or caregivers have experienced fairly long periods of time where we barely had any time for ourselves. I think this is normal. However, the question is, at what point does God want us to take more time for ourselves and the gifts and talents he has given us?
Jesus told us to love others AS we love ourselves. Some would say that I need to love myself a little bit more. It may be hard to find the line between service, sacrifice and what we do for ourselves, but here are some questions that could help us gauge the time commitments that some might to expect of us.
We could ask ourselves for instance,
What is my mission from God? Do I know what my life mission is? Am I doing it?
The good Samaritan did not abort his mission. He stopped and helped the person by the roadside and took him to the Inn he was going to stay at. He went on his journey and paid the inn keeper to look after the person, continuing on his own mission.
In any situation that arises, one could ask themselves, “Am I the good Samaritan, or the Inn Keeper?” In other words, when I come across a person in need, is it my job to take this person to the next station? Or is it my job to stay with them and help them. Knowing one’s boundaries is good, but trusting that God will lead you and guide you in each situation is better. Some people or situations we are only called upon to help for a little while until the long-term helper is available. And with some situations, God surprises us with the duration of what we think is a detour.
Do I have a clear vision for the details of my life? Prayerfully write the vision for each
category of your journey (Habakkuk 2:2). For instance, when shopping for a house, make a list of the “must haves”, the “would like to haves”, and the “optional” characteristics. Then when a house pops up (or a job, spouse, vacation) exhibiting all of the things on your list, you can know that most likely it is the right one. It saves a lot of time if you know what you want. Psalm 37:4 says that God gives us the desires of our heart.
Am I taking care of myself with proper sleep, healthy food, fun, fellowship, reasonable work load, family time, church, and exercise? Am I growing in my skills, and enjoying my day with a relaxed attitude? Am I spending time with God?
These, and more, are questions we can ask ourselves when we are wondering if we are on the right track with taking care of ourselves and our own mission on earth. Loving ourself means loving who we were meant to be, and living our life feeling good about our decisions.
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meets.” Fredrick Buechner
Ephesians 2:10 says,” We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Each one of us has a purpose, and it’s up to us to find it and to discover what God has written into our DNA that will delight us and serve the world in a powerful way at the same time.
What’s in your heart? Write it down and make a plan. If you miss when shooting for the moon, you will at least land among the stars. Happy trails!
Hello Friends! Have you ever awakened from a dream and discovered that in your dream, you had become or accomplished so much more than you are right now? Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you let go, really let go of the past, and started taking steps towards your dream life? Have you ever meditated on what you’d really like out of life, and what you want your accomplishments to be at the end?
We only have one life to live. And it is so important to take a few moments or even an hour, a day, or a week or more away, and write down your hopes and dreams and what your goals will be. (Get out your notebook today! Start with a dream brainstorm.)
If you need help with confidence, get help from a coach or a counselor or even a friend. What God has put in you, do not allow to fade like a flower and forever be unused. Bring forth your gifts and talents for the community around you to be blessed by and to encourage others towards being all they can be, and so it becomes a circle.
You give who you are and what you have so the next person is inspired to do the same, and we all feed off of each other in a good way, to edify, uplift, purposefully contribute who we are and who God made us to be, functioning in His body, and blessing God and ourselves with our gifts and contributions to others and the world.
Let’s not give up! This is your day! Never, never, never give up the dreams God has put in your heart. And if for some reason you have moved away from them, do a recovery dive! Take a new step in your original direction! There is no time to waste!
“This poem is about the dreams God has put in each child, including you, and what might become of them. Amen.
Starving for Dreams
They scrounge in the Dust looking for something not Remembering what it was they Lost So Long Ago Children’s Young hopes Set Aside for the time But Time became long And Longer they served Someone else’s dream Slaves to the fact that they Dependent on others for the image of freedom Forgot their own and Died, remembering Not from Whence they Came from God their thoughts Put to rest as Young adults Never to be seen again except as a foggy dream in the night, half asleep half awake, an angel’s reminder that they were made for MORE— Thoughts in the pallor of busy lives Forgotten as in Dis-Believed, as In not Honored for their Whole Purpose— to Love, to be LOVED, and to Die with their hands full of what could have been Had they Listened– Had they Heard— Had they begun to Believe that inside their future they held the Seed, As Children, to Become All they were Meant TO BE— Had they Not compared their Dreams to Another’s— Had they Known that in the Internal Gold Treasure Trove of their gossamer Thoughts, Intentions and Hopes— they could Have It ALL— Don’t let GO— Remember Who You Are What You Dreamed (before Someone taught you they were impossible) Keep Listening to the Deep Impregnable Art of the Threads of Design in Your Mind and Heart— Creator and Created One In Sync.
Blessing Others, Self and God By Keeping to Your True Destiny Fullness of Joy Being Doing Dreaming Art in your music, numbers, architecture of a life fully lived before God— as in—Who You Were Meant to Be— Amen.
Mark 4:27 Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.
Ephesians 3….20Now to Him who is able to do so much more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
More snow. A beautiful thick blanket of white tucks in the Earth below every night now. As my feet touch the ground a soft crunch radiates up from my boots to my ears. Icy cold too. As I struggle to focus through glasses fogged with breath, evergreens gradually appear to my right standing tall and strong with snow heavily resting on their branches. An occasional bird and squirrel peek out from under the green cover.
Close by, the empty bird feeder glass shows hunger of the wildlife. Time to feed again. The chill blazes down through my nose as I breathe in the winter air. As I move to get the mail and garbage container, the deep silence resonates a loud chill into my soul. Next week is Ash Wednesday.
With measured steps I make my way to my destination. Quietly I move as the earth rests preparing itself after a very long year open to all that came seeking. I see no one which seems so much a part of last year. Separation from those of us that are dear to us. Not able to see the vibrancy of their lives close up, their breath, touch and dear faces within an arm’s reach. Yet. Hope sustains.
I see a small bit of earth peeking out where the plow has dug deep down, bleeding the life underneath. I remember the lesson that resonates throughout the Gospels. Infinite Beauty calls us to stop, rise above the noise to listen and feel the warm embrace that surrounds all life everywhere. The quiet growing of Life beneath the Earth seems to shout “I Love you. You are mine. I forgive you and you will be with me forever.”
Scratching the ground for a bit of food and chattering to himself, an impatient squirrel hears me bringing the empty garbage can up to the house. Ralph, as we call him, scampers up the tree. Hurry up human, I am hungry. “Patience,” I say under my breath. I observe that I feel a lot like Ralph sometimes. Just digging and searching impatiently for quick wisdom and reassurance of what I think I need.
How will we approach Lent this year, as we are rooted and grounded in Christ, to proclaim our beautiful connection to all that exists in this world? Deep inside the seed that grows within …Jesus shows us how as we listen, observe, participate fully in life. I wish to grow, to learn as I push upward through the snow with Christ as my closest friend and guide through in whatever “weather” I find myself.
And, as Ralph reminds me so lovingly, don’t forget along the way to feed the animals and all creation, including yourself. Nourish tenderly with kindness, service, joy from deep within your beautiful self that God created. Live in the moment and perhaps, hug a tree…
Takeaways: Stop and warm yourself with the joy of Life. Listen with your heart to the message of the following beautiful old hymn of faith and trust. Listen as the Spirit leads you to grow…to push upward through whatever “weather” you find yourself. Find the Light in others.
Begone, unbelief, My Savior is near Author: John Newton
Begone unbelief, My Savior is near, And for my relief Will surely appear: By prayer let me wrestle, And he will perform, With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.
Prayer: Jeremiah 15:16 When I received your words, I ate them. They filled me with joy. My heart took delight in them. Lord God who rules over all, I belong to you. Amen
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
What do you see when you look at this shed in this picture? On first glance you may see an old, well weathered, square steel structure with its white sides, corroding a little bit more each day. Recently, one sliding green panel door twisted and nearly came off in a violent wind storm. My husband had to hammer the panel to protect its contents. But, despite his best efforts, a space in the door could not be repaired and allows in light and weather. The open places outside of the shed’s floor, covered by bricks, have expanded to allow determined little furry little creatures enough access to bury themselves under the shed for protection from cold, rain and snow.
Through the door panel space, you see the shed’s “treasures”. The light reveals the lawnmower, the gardening tools, the chairs and table to sit comfortably on the outside patio. Assorted nutrients and other lawn machines are nestled in their places. All of the treasures are now vulnerable to what the outside world may bring.
Today I feel a kinship to our shed with my “rusty” spots. Some outside, some inside. It can be hard to get out of bed and get my energy up and going. Titanium body parts let me know now and again that they are not original parts of God’s gift to house my soul. The tennis game that once took me to a championship falters as I push to make moves that I once felt mimicked the best in the game. My fibromyalgia that once wracked my body with pain, now chooses to push my brain to forget things and makes finding an antibiotic that I’m not sensitive to in my system a real challenge. My eyes work extra hard to see past cataracts, and night driving is out of the question.
I will turn 70 soon. Under my somewhat “rusty” belt of experience, I have lived with my generation through three national wars with family members called to active participation, September 11 Tower attack, 15 Presidential elections, a Presidential assassination, assassination of national leaders as Martin Luther King, recession, disease and virus isolation and death, campus riots, introduction of television, computers and cell phones, disappearance of typewriters and carbon paper and the nearly lost personal art of beautiful cursive letter and card writing to name a few things. These “weathering” experiences have helped me explore my beliefs, courage, compassion and love of God more deeply.
And, unlike the rusty steel sided shed, the Light that shines within us (me) continually renews, nourishes and transforms the amazing treasures God created inside each of us because we are His beloved children. With gratitude I feel the Breath of life that starts and threads each day with prayer and praise.
For example, after prayer and Scripture, I often feel led to often follow my dog outside in our yard while he runs after and plays with the squirrels. I look toward our dying backyard elderly trees and wrap my arms around them. This will be their last winter. After the run I often end up in the living room where I am immersed in practicing my piano, letting the Joy-filled praise of God release from my heart and my fingers into all that is around me. I find that I often can lose track of time when I play.
Like the shed and all the other things of this world that may disappear, we all have our “rusty” spots. But we have God’s unending Love to connect and hold us all as the Light transforms the inner treasures just as God plans for us. All is well and all will be well in 2021 because of the One who truly leads us forward. This I believe. Peace, Joy and Love be yours.
Challenges for you today: What do you see are “treasures” in your shed? Let God’s Love flow through you, seeing the Love of Christ that is in everyone and everything. These moments, perfectly planned by God, won’t come again but the memories and love will regenerate throughout time and space. Joy without end. Amen.
The holidays are upon us. But they look different now. The frenzied fun of yesteryear involving grandparents, aunts and relatives around a loaded Christmas tree is now a more sedate occasion. I miss the happy shouts of glee as fun toys are uncovered from under shiny wrapping paper. And I haven’t felt very festive for years.
As my toddlers turned into kids, and then teenagers and young adults, the gift giving scenario changed. Now as my twenty-something son sits at my table sipping hot chocolate, I decide to share a nugget of wisdom.
“Son,” I say, “If you ever have a family, sit down with your wife two months before Christmas and decide on a budget, pray about the budget and what God would have you do for Christmas. It could be different than you expect. Maybe it would be a trip or a visit to family.”
I don’t want my kids to feel they have to spend a lot of money for Christmas. I add, “Or it may be small gifts for each family member and people that God has placed around you at work or in the neighborhood.”
I go on. “You should be OK to give a four-dollar box of cookies to each person and not be ashamed. If money is the thing we are comparing then that’s not really the Christmas spirit. We should be able to give as we wish, without compulsion or shame, and just enjoy the fellowship and the fun.”
I think about the stress I have felt over the years as I tried to make a nice Christmas for my family, often with little money.
“The pressure of buying and giving should not be what marks the holidays,” I comment, “and it’s totally ungodly to go into debt to buy things people don’t need to impress whom?”
He smiles at me and nods. “If I get married, I’ll let you know,” he says drolly. We both laugh.
I smack his arm and give him “the look.” “I better be invited to the wedding,” I exclaim.
“You will be,” he says, munching on a cracker.
I go in my office and pray. “Lord, what is on your mind for the holidays here this year?” We may have a daughter’s boyfriend for Thanksgiving, but no grandparents or aunts or uncles because of COVID-19.
“I want you to have fun,” is what I hear Him say. Board games come to mind. Maybe charades or a nerf gun war. Yes, that would be fun! We also could play instruments and have a jam session with everyone.
I cheer up a little. It should be OK. Maybe even the hassle of making the food could be divvied up as well. Each person could be responsible for an item. Or we could get carry out!
As I try to bypass the stress of the expectations from each of my children and myself to have a happy holiday, and how I always try to create a Norman Rockwell kind of homey photo op, I decide I need to re-frame the holiday to the kids.
Maybe it would be appropriate to talk about our feelings of sadness over the changes we are experiencing due to COVID-19, and just growing older. And then we could talk about what things we can still enjoy and for what we are grateful. We can still create good memories within our new boundaries. We are still family and still together even though some of us will be missing.
Thank you, Lord, for the thoughts. I lift up our prayers to you for blessings this holiday season. I also ask you to open my eyes to any in need around me for an encouraging word, a batch of cookies, or a prayer. Please help us as a family to be givers into your treasure trove of heavenly stores.
This week: As you make plans for the holidays, consider stopping to pray about what God would have for your family this year: who you can be a blessing to as well as how to celebrate within your family. Maybe he will surprise you with some fresh ideas! I pray you have a lovely holiday season filled with God’s love. He is the reason for the seasons. He gives us hope for the future. He gives us all we need for the present. And now I think I’ll sit and sip some hot cider while I compose a new family email, and hum the doxology.
Laurie Jane Stawicki is a Christian mother of five, a poet, singer/songwriter and author. She started writing as a child to hang onto sanity in a troubled household. Her writing mission statement verse is Luke 2:35, when the angel says to Mary, “A sword shall pierce through your own soul also that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Laurie Jane believes that her writings could be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves and she’d like to inspire others to trust more in God. She would like to encourage people to bring their experiences to God’s presence for healing.