Sunday, December 26, 2010


With the quiet passing of Christmas Day and the New Year now quickly approaching, I find myself with a sense of urgency to start the process of wading through the “stuff” in my life.

To cleanse and purge.

To renew and refresh.

I don’t do “New Year’s Resolutions” – at least not in the traditional sense. Every day brings each of us the opportunity to start over, grab hold of a fresh start and try again at what we perhaps didn’t quite accomplish the day before.

Because of that, my “resolutions” tend to come on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis, which turns into a year that very often shows a good deal of growth and accomplishment. Of course, this growth and accomplishment rarely happens in the way I imagine it, and many times what I might have had in mind isn’t exactly how things turn out. But the evidence of change is still always there.

I look back on this past year, and think about the things I had originally thought were important to accomplish (you know…losing “x” amount of pounds; doing more of this and less of that). Many of the things I started out with were “me” focused.

Somewhere along the way, seeds were planted and the notion that “it isn’t all about me” began to grow inside me until I started to burst at the seams.

I began to look outside myself and my own sorrows and the things I thought were wrong and pitiful with my life. It didn’t take long to see that the only thing wrong and pitiful with my life was my attitude!

I found that the more I looked outside of myself – the less I focused on what I didn’t have – the more I focused on how I could give to others…I was able to clearly see the blessings in my life. Not just the roof over my head or the food on my table. I actually began to SEE God loving me.

Hard decisions were made.

   Comfort zones were stepped out of.

      Relationships were built...and relationships were severed.

All done in faith because of the seeds of wisdom and love that were carefully placed in my heart.

Wisdom and love that says:

“You are worthy”
“You are beautiful”
“You are unique”
“You are blessed”
“You have strength beyond your own knowing”
“You are loved for YOU, not for what you can DO”

Because of that I have been enabled to go out and plant seeds in others; usually in quiet ways, but still being done.

There is a world FULL of people in situations that may be completely different from mine, but there is still the same struggle, the same pain deep in the heart and soul, and the same desire to make it better.

To fight the struggles, to heal the pain and to make life better, the focus must shift from “things”. THINGS do not produce happiness. THINGS are blessings for which we should be grateful but they should never be exalted to “god” status. Family, friends, houses, cars, jobs, clothing, food…all necessities of life, but never intended to be obsessed over, hoarded, or obtained in excess. If you wake up one day and all of those things are gone, is life over? No. Difficult? Painful? Incomprehensible even? Yes.

So as I begin this process of going through my stuff…examining each and every thing (material or otherwise), I am eagerly expectant – and admittedly even a {little} nervous – to see how it feels to release much of the unnecessary weight I carry around with me each day.

I think it will be quite wondrous to experience even just a touch of true freedom!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here We Come A'Wassailing

I recently attended a Christmas gathering with some of my girlfriends, and one of the delights of the evening was a delicious, warm mulled cider. I don’t remember exactly the ingredient list, but I believe it was a mixture of apple juice, brown sugar and mulling spices. It was so good, and made me feel warm all the way to my toes!

I had often heard of this delightful beverage referred to as “wassail”. The word wassail is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon term meaning to “be whole”, and when drinking it you were said to be drinking to the health of someone.

One tradition from England that became known as “wassailing” was to have a party where carols were sung and the wassail was accompanied by many toasts. Some of these parties even involved traveling from house to house, caroling and giving blessings to neighbors and loved ones. Thus we now have the familiar and famous wassailing carol:

What a lovely tradition!

Wouldn’t it be nice to visit a simpler time when the best gifts (and many times the ONLY gifts) were handmade with love – not bought last minute in a rush?

Wouldn’t it be nice to walk from house to house visiting neighbors, family and friends, truly sharing the season in a relaxed, easy way – not rushing to see how fast we can pull our car in the garage so we don’t have to even see our neighbors?

There are many things I am grateful for in our modern times, but there are many things from times long ago that I wish would come back in vogue. Families that lived close by; lifelong friends; long, warm evenings spent by a fire or beside a piano… it seems that much of our modern-day life has lost its sweetness, even its romance.

I often think about what we could do to bring back that sweetness.

To make each day a little more lovely…a little more magical…a lot more meaningful.

I haven’t come up with a lot of solutions, though. It seems the world is spinning at break-neck speed and there’s no way to stop it.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

When Christmas Loses Its Sparkle

As kids get older and families get ever busier, it seems that Christmas loses some of its sparkle.

But what are we to do? We certainly can’t stop the kids from growing (although I wish I could freeze time)!

And with so many families having every child in 2 or more extracurricular activities, it’s not likely that our busy lives are going to get any less busy.

Many times, rushing around with all this busy-ness can bring on a lot of stress, strain and tears – particularly during this time of year.

So it seems to me the answer lies within how we use the time we are given. Here are a few suggestions that might help bring your Christmas season back to being merry and bright!


#1 – For those who celebrate Christmas, there really IS a reason why! Remember that reason daily by participating in Advent using an advent calendar (click here for a few examples) or by doing Jesse Tree devotionals (click here for a beautiful e-book you can download). Even though Advent has already begun, it’s not too late to jump right in on remembering the “Reason for the Season”.

#2 – Make a little extra time by NOT slaving over a hot stove every night of the week. If you don’t have a crock-pot, I highly recommend at least TWO in every household! One of our favorite meals, especially this time of year, is a crock-pot roast with potatoes & carrots. Here’s my simple recipe:

Shoulder roast, 6 medium potatoes quartered, small bag of baby carrots, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 2 pkgs of onion soup mix, 2 cups of water.  Place roast in crock-pot, put potatoes and carrots on top, mix together soups and water, pour over entire contents in crock-pot, cook on low 8-10 hours.

#3 – Put on some Christmas music, make some hot chocolate, light a fire and gather around it together – even for just ½ hour. Take turns sharing your favorite thing about Christmas. If you don’t have a fireplace, sit around the Christmas tree. Just be sure everyone gets a turn to share.

 #4 – Bundle everyone up, grab Fido, and go for a walk around your neighborhood to look at all the decorated houses. When you come back, make some S’mores (we’ve done this via microwave even, so you don’t have to have an open flame – although I think that a little burnt marshmallow just makes it so much better!).



#5 – I mentioned this in one of my previous posts, but get out some paper and scissors and make some paper snowflakes. Hang them with string from the ceiling or tape them to your windows.

These suggestions all still take some time to actually do, but hopefully they will prove to be simple enough that they can be slipped in-between some of those busy moments we often catch ourselves in.

What can you think of to do when your holiday season starts to lose its sparkle?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saving Me

Who am I?

I am “mom” to three great kids; I am “friend” to several bright, beautiful women; I am “daughter” to my sweet daddy; I am a “worker” at my job. I am a “member” at my church.

I DO all of those things. Yes, they are all pieces of what makes up “me”.

But who am I? Who do I want to be?

I suppose I should have been asking myself that 25-plus years ago when the world was right there at my feet waiting to be discovered and conquered.

Instead, I was busy trying to find love – definitely in all the wrong places.

It was a while before I found it.
Real love.


In tiny pink feet and hands, wrapped in a pink blanket.

And then two years later in even tinier pink feet and hands – a double blessing, each wrapped in blue.

That was love. That was my soul incarnate. That was straight from heaven, knowing that I would never make it through the next several years of life without it. Without them.

They saved me.
HE saved me.

Not for the first time by far. But this time in the most tangible way I had ever known. He picked up the pieces of my broken past and my broken heart. He gently washed each piece in a river of His own tears and fit together all the jagged edges, and for the first time in my life I felt alive. I felt the beating of hearts and the sweet softness of little hands that knew goodness and love unending. I had been given a life of purpose, promise and meaning.

The world and its prowler couldn’t leave well enough alone, though. Lies were slyly whispered. Tantalizing images were dangled in front of me. And like Eve so very long ago, I blindly – weakly - believed, and with selfish abandon I destroyed the world and the lives around me.

For some reason that still hasn’t been revealed to me yet, He has once again found favor with me and picked up the pieces. There were a lot more of them this time, but nothing is too great for Him. And even though they were shattered and scattered and all mixed together in a burning, smoking heap of ashes, He knew where each and every piece belonged.

Somehow… even though looking back at the path behind me, it is crooked and broken and in some places there are spirals that seem never-ending… somehow, He has brought me – all of us really - to a place where love is flourishing again.

To a place where the discovery of who I am and who I want to be is far different from that other lifetime long ago. A place where I do not come first, but He does. And those He calls His own come next. And I am daughter, humble servant, faithful companion.

So...Who am I?  I think the better question is WHOSE am I?

I am loved… I am worthy… I am His.
I am one He calls “beloved”.

"My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me."
Song of Solomon 2:10

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