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Archive for December, 2011

God’s Leading

It never ceases to amaze me at the way God speaks to me.  Often times it is through scripture—in fact, I’d probably be safe to say most of the time it is through scripture.  Sometimes by bringing scripture to mind at the time I need it, but often it is that in my morning time alone with Him, my reading for that day is particularly poignant for something I am going through, or about to experience, or doubts or fears I may be dealing with, etc.

This morning as I opened my Bible to where I left off yesterday I began reading in Proverb 3.  Suddenly I read “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (NIV)  How very appropriate as we begin a new year.  How appropriate as I anticipate some up-coming changes in my life.

Now those verses are very appropriate at any point in our lives.  It is simple and wise instruction anytime, but especially so as we turn a corner (so to speak) into a new year.  At this time of year we think of making resolutions; of starting fresh with new determination to fulfill old resolutions.  We can never do alone what we can do with the help of the Creator of the Universe.  Without Him we are simply guessing which direction to take and what choices to make based on common sense and whatever factors we know.  But still, we cannot see the future or know what is around a corner for us.  But God knows.  He sees what lies ahead.  He knows which path will give us the best results and which will draw us ever closer to Him.

There is some misconception going around that following God and living a life of obedience to Him robs us of all that’s fun in life.  Unfortunately there have been those (and actually still are those) who make up rules as though they are of God and try to do exactly that.  They teach that if it’s fun, it is not of God.  Well, let me tell you that is so very far from true!

I cannot imagine a life that is more fun than mine!  I cannot imagine having more peace and contentment than I have!  Yes, there are those who have more of this world’s goods than I have, but does that make their life better than mine?  I don’t think so!  But of more value than the fun is the peace; the absence of fear; the trust.  How could life get any richer than that?

And so…as I enter a new year with lots of changes in it, I have perfect peace.  Yes, there may be sorrow.  Yes, there may be trials.  Yes, I may even stumble and fall, but I am trusting in the Lord and I know without a doubt that He WILL direct my paths.  I know that He will guide me and He will bless me and He will fill me with even more joy and peace.  And life just doesn’t get any better than that.

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Christmas is Coming

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner, but time marches on and ready or not, here it comes!

I remember when I was a little girl looking in the mail-order catalogs and dreaming of all the wonderful things I would love to get for Christmas.  I remember making ‘subtle’ suggestions (thankfully, my parents never encouraged us to ‘ask’ for things or make lists), but still there was that hope in my heart that this would be the year I’d get something really spectacular.

Many nights before Christmas I’d go to sleep at night dreaming about what it would be like if I would awaken on Christmas morning with an actual doll house that I could walk into and ‘keep house’ in!  Oh, I dreamed of where it would sit in the yard and how I’d line up my doll cradles inside, of who I would allow to play in there with me, but mostly my dreams were playing in there myself—endlessly playing…and playing…and playing!

Of course, I never got the life-size doll house.  I never even got a small ‘pretend’ doll house.  But in spite of never realizing my unrealistic dreams, Christmas was a magical time and I never felt disappointed or let down because:

My parents taught us by example that the best part of Christmas was not receiving, but giving.  I remember my mother baking and wrapping and packaging for days before Christmas.  There would be a row of boxes on a long counter on the ‘back porch’ (an enclosed but unheated room across the whole back of our house that, in the winter, served as an over-sized refrigerator).  Mother would wrap the boxes in pretty paper and begin filling them with food and some clothes she’d make, etc.  She and Daddy would have ahead-of-time selected a number of needy families in our community to ‘bless’ with their filled boxes.

And so, while my friends were opening packages and visiting grandparents and playing with new toys, our family opened our gift (yes, that is not a misprint, but is correctly singular), had a yummy Christmas breakfast that included a once-a-year treat of an orange each, and then we bundled up and loaded into our old chevy and spent the rest of the day going from house to house, caroling, visiting, and delivering packages to needy families.

When we came home on Christmas night, we were tired and hungry, but filled to bursting with peace and joy.  After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great JOY that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE to men on whom his favor rests.’”  (Luke 2:9-14 NIV)

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My family moved to the Midwest when I was a very little girl in 1953 because my daddy had found it difficult to find work after the war.  He did odd jobs here and there as he could, but things were not easy.  My uncle lived in Indiana and said daddy would find work there, so he packed up our little family and moved us halfway across the continent with the hopes of finding gainful employment.

He did find employment, but the paychecks were not regular.  Most paydays came and went with not much more than a promise.  As Christmas approached that year it was hard enough to keep oil in the big old stove in the center of the living room and food in our stomachs.  There was absolutely no money for Christmas.  Mother wanted a Christmas tree for us children, but Daddy said there was just no way.  He had made doll cradles for my sister and I out of scraps of wood he’d salvaged (and I still have that cradle to this day), and Mother had managed to make a bit of Christmas candy, but that was it.

On Christmas eve Mother pulled out the old decorations and put a few pretties around, all the while praying in her heart for a Christmas tree.  She was just sure Daddy would be able to get one somewhere and bring it home with him.  But once again he came home empty-handed.  No pay check and no Christmas tree.

It was storming badly that evening.  The wind howled around the corners of the house and came right on in through those thin walls.  It blew the snow into drifts until the house finally felt quite snug.

Mother was just coming down the stairs after tucking us into bed for the night, and was once more praying about a Christmas tree when there was a loud thud on the back door.

“Someone’s trying to get in!”  She told my dad.  And he hurried to the back door to see who was there.  When he started laughing Mother hurried to see what was going on and there right against the back door was a huge, gorgeous Christmas tree!

“Who brought it?”  Mother asked.  Daddy said he had no idea but he didn’t see how anyone could have gotten in the driveway, much less got that big tree up to the back door.

Daddy drug the tree out to the barn and trimmed it and built a stand for it and brought it in while Mother was sorting ornaments and moving furniture and testing the light bulbs in the strand of Christmas tree lights.

When we awakened the next morning, there was the front room nearly filled with the huge Christmas tree, lit and decorated (though somewhat sparsely).  In our eyes it was perfect!  And under the tree were two doll cradles with our old dolls tucked in with new blankets mother had made.  Oh, we were thrilled!

It wasn’t until after Christmas when Daddy could finally get out the driveway that they figured out where the tree had come from.  On one side of our house there was a huge spruce that was taller than the house, but it was no longer taller than the house.  The top had been snapped off in the storm and God had dropped our Christmas tree right at the back door in answer to my Mother’s prayers.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everthing, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6)  Mother had asked and God had answered–right on time!

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Christmas Cards

‘Tis the season of joy and celebration, and one way we love to celebrate in this country is by sending and receiving Christmas cards.  Oh, how I look forward to walking down to the mailbox each  December day and looking to see if there are cards tucked in there for us from dear ones sending their love and news.

Each year as they arrive I tape the current Christmas cards around door frames, on cupboard doors, etc. allowing the lovely pictures that represent the Holy day participate in decorating our home with the beauty of the season.  And besides the cards we receive this year, I always save cards that have lovely pictures of winter scenes or nativities or are generally lovely to re-use  to decorate in the years to come.  Then as I put the decorations up each year, I line the mantles and bay window with cards from previous years.  I even tuck some into my hutches and glass-fronted cupboards.  Anywhere they can be seen.  As I arrange the cards in my growing stack from previous years, I re-read the notes inside and can’t help smiling at many remembrances of years past.

And so I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you that make the effort and spare the expense to send pretty cards.  Thank you for your contribution to our lovely Christmas décor!  You bless us in this household for many years with each card!  And of course, the handmade cards get front row seats every year!  You can be sure that your hard work and creativity are not easily thrown aside in this household!

As I select the cards that we send out each year, I always consider that someone else somewhere in my world may enjoy their cards as much as I enjoy mine, and so I look for the loveliest that I can find, and send each note with particular care, because each one of you has blessed us in a special way as our lives have touched through the years.  Thank you for the cards, thank you for the friendship, thank you for your love!  We truly appreciate each one of you and thank God for you!  Merry Christmas to you all!!!

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