Holiday Speed Bumps

“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, ‘I can’t help it. I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.’ Jeremiah 2:25

Every year it happens. Either I am driving on the freeway or in a store and there will be a moment when I make a conscious decision not to join in the madness that seems to be picking up tempo all around me.

My heart beat slows…. I take a step back. It happened this past weekend when I was driving on the freeway and I had to slam on my brakes because people were driving even crazier than usual. I realized the fever pitch had started. Speed bump number one.

Then at the Mall, it happened again when I saw Santa’s Village already set up taking pictures of the kids. I don’t remember them starting that early last year. I saw Santa sprawled spread eagle in the chair looking bored to tears while the “elves” were like circus barkers trolling for customers. Really? I asked the same question I ask myself each year.

This is Christmas?  Speed bump number two.

And last night I had the mute button all ready for when the decibel level went through the roof on the commercials.

Don’t get me wrong, nobody loves Christmas more than I do. I totally get into decorating the house and doing the baking, and I do love to buy gifts, but I don’t go crazy.  And I will deck the halls and love every minute of it. There will be a tree in every room. In my bedroom, the tabletop Victorian, and in the office, the Southwestern tree. And Elaine has an ocean tree, decorated with while lights, mermaids, and shells. 

And in the kitchen, a tiny tree with plastic snowmen and snowflakes and other Christmasey type things. Have to be careful with that one, the lights are old and very hot and if it fell next to something flammable it would be a tiki torch in no time.

And then there is the main tree, which is a pre-lit 8 foot we found in a Costco return line one year….I am always amazed when the lights come back on each year. One year I threw my back out trying to stuff it back in the storage container. The first two sections were no problem, it was the last (fat) section that did it.

Never again will I try to do that alone.

Advent is coming…..I feel it in my heart. I am slowing down. I will make peace with whatever doesn’t get done. I will not succumb to the alien gods of commercialism run rampant. I will however, enjoy every little moment God gives me before the calendar turns over yet again.

It will be over all too soon.

The Afterglow

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

As years go by I am appreciating more and more, those winding down days after Christmas…….as the activity wanes, the afterglow remains. I still play Christmas music for a few days more…..and reflect on what just passed, and what still  remains of the current year.

I realize that I need not release anything of the magic, for Christ is with us still.

And we have the hope of knowing that whatever happens in the coming year, His precious Holy Spirit strives with us, anticipating every step we take.

Bask in the Father’s love today, for I really believe He loves us more than we know.

Without condition.

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Home Again

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8 NLT 
I am back home in Arizona after a treasured time with my family. I needed to be there and my presence was so appreciated, but also missed back here. Elaine had to take her Mom in to the hospital after a bout with the flu. She came home Christmas Eve, but has been nursing her ever since. Getting someone with Alzheimer’s to eat is a challenge all by itself, but when you throw in other factors it makes it much more difficult.
Goodbyes on both ends are always difficult, and I look forward to the day when all goodbyes will be over for good. This is the rejoicing part of what we celebrate at Christmas. Once again, I am enjoying the after Christmas quiet.
I used to feel depressed the day or two after… was all such a let down, after all. But as I have gotten older, I have realized the value of the days after. The joy that comes when you realize that for Christians, the most important part of Christmas, the part we celebrate, never ends!
It doesn’t mean that we won’t have difficulty, but it does mean that He is still and always, God with Us. That is the hope that keeps us going in and through it all.
It is always good to see family and friends you haven’t seen in awhile, and I did both back home. There were a few mishaps that I am sure we will look back on and laugh….
I gave my brother a recipe for Prime Rib in salt but forgot the operative ingredient (water) that would have made a paste. Instead he spent hours trying to mix flour, salt, and an egg into something that would stick to a piece of meat. It turned out wonderful anyway…..
I also watered the plant on the front porch not thinking of how my Dad’s compulsive worrying about the house would affect things. You see, the water there doesn’t evaporate like the desert, it stays around for days. He thought there was a water leak under the house and proceeded to go crawling around under there with a flashlight. It was only after the fact he asked if anyone had watered the plant by the porch.
He said, “Hallelujah, thank God!” when I told him I had.
Who knew my innocent watering of a plant would set such things in motion?
I have missed you all my friends, hope you had a safe and happy Christmas! It’s good to be back in touch……

A Very Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a very happy and restful Christmas, from Lori’s Prayer Closet…… own little corner where all are welcome.
To dream, to pray…..or be silent.
To talk it all out with our Father in Heaven.
Thanking Him today and everyday for His Son that was given, and gave Himself…..
who intercedes for us even now.
He is our blessed hope…..
I love you all.
I pray for a closer walk for the coming year.
I just popped over to Panera for a quick cup of coffee and note to you all. I am on a mission to find a Panda Express for food tomorrow. Just a quick hello to say I was thinking of you all, and that while I may or may not be able to blog this week, you are in my thoughts, keeping things loose here…….
I do ask for prayers for my dear friend Elaine, who is back in Arizona. She had to take her Mom to the hospital due to dehydration and a bad case of the flu. I ask for strength for them both and rest for the caretaker, who is the last to be taken care of.
I do so appreciate all your thoughts, comments and prayers!

For Unto Us a Son is Given

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
My prayer this Christmas is a simple one. That may we remember always why we are doing what we are doing and most of all who we are doing it for. Not just Christmas, but throughout the year. There is a grand goal, and there will be a glorious finish and joy along the way as long as we walk hand in hand with Him.
I pray that the people I love will love each other……That peace will rule in our hearts and that Heaven will come to earth in the Spirit of reconciliation, which is true love.
May the Bethlehem Star rise in all of our hearts and minds in the form of hope.
May you all have a Christmas filled with the knowledge of Him who gives us strength, and hope and joy.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

What can it possibly mean?

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13,14

What is it about Christmas that tears our hearts asunder? What is it about this birth that is like no other? So important that it split history….and time in two? Somehow it makes us regret what we don’t have and grateful for what we do have. Something in us always hopes for that perfect Christmas, and each of us has a vision in our own minds what that would look like.

The regret of knowing that this will never come to pass is what sends many people off to the Bahamas until it’s over. For a hilarious vision of what this might look like see the movie, Christmas with the Kranks.
Every year there is one Christmas album that brings me to tears. It was done by the Methodist church my Aunt used to attend when she was alive and it is called Sing with the Angels. In one of the songs is the probing question:

What could it possibly mean, what could it possibly mean? That God would be here with you and me, what could it possibly mean?
It is such a wonderful preposterous plan, it grabs at our hearts. The thought that God would come down to meet us……

Every year we hear stories about secret Santa’s and good Samaritans. People everywhere seem to know that this is the season to display extra kindness. I think there is even something behind the driving forces that keep people year after year flocking to the malls and shopping centers for that perfect gift.

This event was important enough to pull back the ceiling of Heaven and announce this baby’s birth.
Angels announced it, and Miracles surrounded it….

However your Christmas turns out this year, know that if you have the Savior, you’ve already received the perfect gift. There is no one thing more important to celebrate than this alone…..

And if you have it, get down on your knees today and thank Him.

If you don’t, then seek Him and know the most perfect Christmas you will ever have. Cause when you have Him, you have it all.

“……..and <sup class="xref" value="(BB)”>He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having <sup class="xref" value="(BC)”>determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,  that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, <sup class="xref" value="(BD)”>though He is not far from each one of us;” Acts 17:26,27

Walnuts and other stuff

I have a thing for walnuts. I can hardly walk by the walnut bin at the grocery store without digging in with both hands. I love how they sound and the texture. I know I would love how they smell too, but due to a genetic weakness inherited from my Grandfather, I have never been able to smell. That’s just one more thing in a long list that will get fixed in Heaven.
I had a walnut adventure yesterday, well the cats and I did.
It all started with a package of store-bought cookies. They were mexican wedding cookies, the ones that I decided I wasn’t going to make this year. They were okay. In fact, I am ashamed to say, I ate every single one of them. But they were nothing like mine. Now I had an unrequitted craving that wasn’t about to go away. I had no choice but to make them.  
I had pecans but I really wanted walnuts. My funny friend knows about my walnut fetish so last Christmas she gave me a sack in the shell, and they were still there in the cupboard. I dug out my nutcracker from wayyyy under the cabinet, since now I mostly buy nuts that Costco has already cracked and packaged very nicely.  It was too cold to go outside so I spread a sheet in my room and let the shells fly!
The cats thought it was a great adventure. They interrupted their morning naps and sprang off the bed like kittens: “What have we here? We don’t recognize this thing you are doing on our floor.” Somehow a rogue pecan had made its way into the bag so I rolled it their way. They batted it back and forth, but then Sydney smelled food like substance coming from the cracked nuts, so he stayed close by. His begging could put any dog to shame.
It was great fun. It only took me about 20 minutes and I had a nice little pile. I was surprised how I remembered some things. My Mom and I cracking walnuts on the cold garage floor on fall days. And going out to my Aunt’s little country house and picking them off her trees. I closed my eyes and heard the sounds, the voices… seemed so far away.
I heard the squawking of the blue jays, and the flutter of their wings as they swooped down. I remembered the brick wall in her kitchen and how she had See’s candy in the fridge. And how her sunny yellow bathroom curtains had fuzzy balls on the ends that I liked to touch.
And I remember all those years of Christmas baking and all the smiles of joy as they got their basket of homemade goodies. All of the trips to the store for a forgotten ingredient. And it surprised me how memories of those walnuts hurt. Hurt for those years gone and that they went so fast.
But there is more to be thankful for…….I still have my Mom, and I still have my Aunt. Though many years have passed, there is hope in every moment we all have right now, together.
This morning I broke the rules. I didn’t eat a sensible breakfast, I had two Mexican Wedding cookies with my coffee at 4:30 AM, and they were just as good as I thought they would be.
I have not one regret.