Tag Archives: Christmas

Shout It

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinithians 8:9 (NIV)

Concept: God

Photography: Unsplash

Design: (c)2018 E.V.A. Lambert for RapturePractice! Pub.

I do not own the All the Poor and Powerless All Sons & Daughters with Lyrics video music, images nor have any rights to profit from worshiping God.

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Second Stringers

To no one’s surprise, for this entire advent season, joy shot from Scriptures for me, but like never before. Okay, maybe I noticed them before, but this year they felt like a whole new ball game. Maybe it’s just me…

Rarely comfortable as a starter, I’m a strong second stringer.  So is it any surprise less popular verses struck me so strong?

Thanks to Handel some identify a line or two of these verses with Christmas (and Easter). Me too.

But this year the preceding and following lines sacked me daily as I read and read again.

I hope these snippets continue sparking everywhere all year around:

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress… The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. …”

Isaiah 9:1 & 2, 6 & 7 (NIV)

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

John 3:16, 17 (NIV)

Peace, people.

 

Featured Image courtesy TheWay.com

Header image courtesy Pixabay

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Christmas Eve’s Eve

A repost from What’s Next, Texas, USA, December 2015.  It’s hard to believe that was two years and two states back.

Merry Christmas to all!

 

angel wing cloud nancy

Our Christmas celebration this year will consist of Candlelight Service (maybe with Sister), an actual sit-down dinner together and all three of us taking a restful day off work together, probably with popcorn and Netflix, maybe darts.

The plan was in place.  Sister and I left the house together to do the last minute shopping.  This was an event.  I’ve missed her.  I see her every day, but she’s mostly been away for a few years; discouraged, disappointed, heartbroken and confused, essentially shattered. She holds the pieces of herself so tightly she can hardly do anything else but work. I get it. People we love often hurt us at some point and knocked us down at others. So I stay close and in case of a crash.

Sister, Opal and I move about in the world and live our lives together from behind our walls.  Occasionally, I can’t contain the spirit inside me.  It escapes and preys upon any unwitting subject on my way.  I felt a breakout coming.  “Let me get that door for you…” and the next thing you know I’m engaged in conversation with a friendly, talkative, complete stranger.  Sister usually loathes it, but being so far from friends and other family too she understands – and suffers through my social gushing.

Happy to be out, invigorated by the warm Texas December weather, we were on our last stop for the day.  A seemingly familiar woman approached the door the same time we did.  I actually felt like I knew her from somewhere. Even if I didn’t, I greeted her cheerily and sprang to get the door for her.  “Good afternoon.”

As if she didn’t notice us before that moment the lady straightened very slightly. As I swung the door open and stepped aside, she looked me in the eye like she saw into my soul, “Oh, thank you, Baby.  Good afternoon” she replied warmly, then turned to watch where she walked.  Something clicked – I didn’t know what.  I didn’t care.  I felt alive and fully connected to the world again.

The lady adjusted her large purse and a hobo bag as she reached forward.  The interior door opened into the vestibule so I awkwardly stepped around her to hold that door open for her too.  I was probably overreaching, but I had to.  She was one of those strong women, so knowing her actual age was tricky. The touches of grey in her hair and brows told me she was slightly older than I, but fit and sharp, if slightly preoccupied.

With that she looked into my face again.  Entirely unintimidated – and unannoyed, she responded, “Why thank you, Baby.”  Baby, again, but as if she knew me.  She seemed to start to say something else, but only nodded and began walking away.  Strangely, my heart wanted me to walk with her, but noticing Sister’s expression I checked myself. Instead I said, “Of course.  You have a wonderful day.  Merry Christmas,” and in exaggerated civility took Sister’s arm, walking her inside.

Now smiling, Roan and I entered too as the lady walked away. She glanced back saying, “Why, God bless you.  Merry Christmas,” stepping toward the back of the store and out of sight.

Sis and I shopped around for a nice little something to put beneath the tree; a two-foot paper and wire figure sitting on the television cabinet in the den. Searching around we wound up looking through blouses; something I never do.  I can’t wear off the rack without alterations. Sister can wear whatever she wants.  To make her happy I went along enjoying the feel of the fabrics.

“What are you looking for today?” came the voice from behind us.  I turned to respond and was delighted to find the lady from the door.  Now smiling broadly, wearing a plush red and white Santa hat on her head and a lanyard of key cards around her neck.  As she wandered away I finally recognized her; polished orthopedic shoes, black patterned stockings over support hose, a stylish, upscale, conservative skirt, comfortable, but immaculate.  A shell and cardigan tastefully accessorized, every hair neatly in place; she was a Momma.

Not the same as somebody’s mother, though she possibly was, she’s a Momma.  You’ll find her at the job, at church every Sunday and mid-week service, at the local free day care, senior care center, food pantry, often a volunteer at the local hospital or hospice.  You see it all over her, confidently owning whatever space she occupies.  Calm, collected, always busy, but quick to help wherever she can.  She never misses the slightest nuance, takes life head-on, living comfortably, modestly and entirely in love with people.

Over the years Mommas have been my lifeline.  Commuting to work in Los Angeles, often stuck in traffic, my boys knew if I was late to go to the church office where Momma D volunteered every afternoon.  She’d welcome them in, get them started on their homework and usually have snacks when I got to the neighborhood, worn and often on the verge of panic.  “Don’t you worry, Baby,” She’d say, “They’re good boys.  You can remember me when the offering plate comes around.” A Momma.

As a missionary, the only pink face in a volatile neighborhood, Momma Gen would often be “taking a walk” (in her house slippers) when I left the church building where I worked to walk home after dark.  Nobody messes with a Momma.

Working for an inner-city grass roots community center, putting in 50 hour weeks, Momma Cece would bring plates of dinner for the boys and me at least twice a week, knowing I wouldn’t have time to cook a dinner. That’s a Momma.

Sis and I kept sliding hangers. “Momma Burke” (we’ll call her as I didn’t see a name tag) held out a blouse to each of us. “These colors are perfect for you two and they’re very popular.” Before I could gracefully refuse, she added, “It doesn’t cost but a moment and it’s good to look at yourself in something new.”

You don’t argue with a Momma.  Sister stared me down as I took the beautiful blue, flowing top and stepped toward the fitting room.  I smiled back at her saying, “We’ve got a minute. You might as well.” Momma Burke pushed the rusty red shirt at Sister saying, “Now don’t waste time thinking about it. The store is going to get busy fast.”

Moments later I heard Sister gasp in the room next to me. Both the blouses were perfect.

Sure enough, when we stepped out of the rooms the store was full and noisy. Momma stepped up out of nowhere, smiling. “I knew you’d like ‘em; the colors suit you both and you can either dress them up or down.”

Sister agreed, thanked her and wandered away.  Clearly she was ready to leave.  I thanked Momma and explained I liked the blouse, but it isn’t in my budget until January. “Did you even look at the tag?” she asked, giving me “that look” over her half-frames.  I hadn’t.

It actually was that rare find from the clearance rack.  A second by most standards, but on me it draped perfectly, for $5.61.  I almost giggled.  Momma just smiled and went on to help other customers.  I wanted to hug her tight but snatching up the other blouse from the go back rack I hurried to catch up with Sister and bought both blouses.

We practically flew through the rest of the shopping and were home before we knew it.

I couldn’t stop thinking how God places exactly the right people in my life at the perfect times.  I’d longed for something new to wear for months.  With bills to pay and paying gigs scarce, I’ve made due with what I have.  What I have often isn’t a big deal. But it is today.

As I readied for Christmas Eve the next day, the mail brought a cash surprise. Immediately I thought of the leggings Sister wanted – and Momma Burke.  I couldn’t get to the store fast enough.  I found the leggings straight away and then went to the fitting room to find Mrs. Burke.  The woman that also worked there yesterday was absolute that she’s never seen anybody over twenty-something working in the store and she’s worked there almost two years!

Perhaps Momma Burke is a new hire starting late into Christmas season.  Maybe not.  I won’t be surprised to confirm sometime in the future, that Momma Burke is one of those angelic beings that appear and vanish when we actually need a little special help.  I shall look forward to seeing her again wherever it happens.

candles and nuts christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

“Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:1, 2 (NLT)

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Spider Struck

Spiders are plentiful where I live. Even so people being skittish about them is also common.

This morning I went on an amazing trip – in my head. Despite all the efforts I put into housekeeping, spraying all spring, summer and fall, laying bait, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, another spider had violated my space.

In a heartbeat I was fussing, fuming, and then begging God to help me endure these seemingly ridiculous hardships.

I stormed out of the kitchen, deeply upset – over a spider watching me quietly from the stove top. Imagine the brass! Who (but another spider) could blame me for being unnerved by such a bold creature despite its small stature!

At one point I realized I’d too long entertained the idea of housebreaking Silly Suzy so she could live in the house with me and feast on the fiendish foes that have plagued me these two whole days.

 

About then I heard God’s Still, Quiet Voice say, “Snap out of it!” You see, God knows with that particular phrase I almost always laugh, envisioning Cher slapping Nicolas Cage:

And it almost worked for me – but I was close to complete melt down. Yeah. Over an itsy-bitsy spider.

Returning to the kitchen for my well-cooled mug, I noticed the spider exactly as it was some time earlier. I mean precisely there.

I am ashamed to admit my first thought upon seeing it hadn’t moved at all, was, “Great, now I have to dispose of the body…” This involves gloves, hand sanitizer, etc…

But before my brain formed the sentence, the Holy Spirit Spoke again,

“Just what is your problem?”

Like He doesn’t know. With that I stopped – everything but breathing.

Fast forward through a crying fit and more bad drama than I want to admit – you’re welcome. Once done I realized that I’ve been so preoccupied with my task list, skipping some rest here, dropping my prayer and devotional time there…

Seriously, I am getting ready for Christmas, for crying out loud! But sadly my fellowship and quiet time with Jesus, the Birthday Boy took the hit. Yet again.

I realized I hadn’t really slept well in days and that I’ve burned the midnight oil till just before dawn more nights than not.

Soon I’d washed my face and initiated some impressive groveling before God. That didn’t go far. Instead, grace and mercy swept me away.

Later, during my walk I marveled that as cold as it’s been it hadn’t snowed. Before I could finish thinking, “it hardly feels like Northwest Christmas,” I noticed flakes beginning to fall.

I turned my head to heaven, arms open, saying loudly, “Thank You God!  Merry Christmas!”

And about that spider. ‘Turns out it was actually some chamomile & lavender tea inadvertently dropped the night before.

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
John 15:4 (NLT)

 

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Jingle Bells Humor

For my sister, Maggie, with whom I laugh – a lot:

one horse

What is the “Jingle Bells” horse’s name?

 

…Wait for it…

sleigh bells

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

Bob

horse laugh rian

Happy Holidays, Y’all!

 

“A cheerful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)

 

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, (NLT) copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Christmas Eve’s Eve

angel wing cloud nancy

 

Our Christmas celebration this year will consist of Candlelight Service (maybe with Sister), an actual sit-down dinner together and all three of us taking a restful day off work together, probably with popcorn and Netflix, maybe darts.

The plan was in place.  Sister and I left the house together to do the last minute shopping before Christmas.  This was an event.  I’ve missed her.  I see her every day, but she’s mostly been away for a few years. Discouraged, disappointed, heartbroken, confused; essentially shattered, she holds the pieces of herself so tightly she can hardly do anything else but work.  People we love often hurt us at some point and knocked us down at others. I get it.

Sister, Opal and I move about in the world and live our lives together from behind our walls.  Occasionally, I can’t contain the spirit inside me.  It escapes and preys upon any unwitting subject on my way.  Sister and I both felt it coming.  “Let me get that door for you…” and the next thing you know I’m engaged in conversation with a friendly, talkative, complete stranger.  Sister usually loathes it, but being so far from friends and other family too she understands – and suffers through my social gushing.

Happy to be out, invigorated by the warm Texas December weather, we were on our last stop for the day.  A seemingly familiar woman approached the door the same time we did.  Feeling I actually knew her from somewhere, and even if I didn’t, I greeted her cheerily and sprang to get the door for her.  “Good afternoon.”

As if she didn’t notice us before the lady straightened very slightly, and as I swung the door open and stepped aside, she looked me in the eye as if she saw into my soul, “Oh, thank you, Baby.  Good afternoon” she replied warmly, then turned to watch where she walked.  Something clicked – I didn’t know what.  I didn’t care.  I felt alive and fully connected to the world again.

The lady adjusted her large purse and a hobo bag as she reached forward.  The interior door opened into the vestibule so I awkwardly stepped around her to hold that door open for her too.  I was probably overreaching, but I had to.  She was one of those strong women, knowing her actual age was tricky, but the touches of grey in her hair and brows told me she was slightly older than I, but fit and sharp, if slightly preoccupied.

With that she looked into my face again.  Entirely unintimidated – and unannoyed, she responded, “Why thank you, Baby,” She said “Baby” again, but as if she knew me.  She seemed to start to say something else, but nodded and began walking away.  Strangely, my heart wanted me to walk with her, but noticing Sister’s expression I checked myself not wanting to seem patronizing or just plain crazy.  Instead I said, “Of course.  You have a wonderful day.  Merry Christmas.”

She’d started to walk away, glanced back saying, “Why, God bless you.  Merry Christmas,” as she stepped toward the back of the store and out of sight.

Sis and I shopped around looking for a nice little something to put beneath the tree; a two-foot paper and wire figure sitting on the now vacant television cabinet in the den. We searched around for one of those special finds, and wound up looking through blouses; something I never do.  I can’t wear off the rack without alterations, but Sister can wear whatever she wants.  To make her happy I went along enjoying the feel of the fabrics.

“What are you looking for today?” came the voice from behind us.  I turned to respond and was delighted to find the lady from the door.  Now smiling broadly, wearing a plush red and white Santa hat on her head and a lanyard of keys and key cards around her neck.  As she wandered away I finally recognized her; polished orthopedic shoes, black patterned stockings over support hose, a stylish, upscale, conservative skirt, comfortable, but immaculate.  A shell and cardigan tastefully accessorized, every hair neatly in place; she was a Momma.

Not somebody’s mother, though she possibly was, she’s a Momma.  You’ll find her at the job, at church every Sunday and mid-week service, at the local free day care, senior care center, food pantry, often a volunteer at the local hospital or hospice.  You see it all over her, confidently owning whatever space she occupies.  Calm, collected, always busy, but quick to help wherever she can.  She never misses the slightest nuance, takes life head-on, living comfortably, modestly and entirely in love with people.

Over the years Mommas were my lifeline.  When I commuted into Los Angeles for work, stuck in traffic, my boys knew to go to the church office where Momma D volunteered every afternoon.  She’d take them in, get them started on their homework and usually have snacks when I got to the neighborhood, late and panic stricken.  “Don’t you worry, Baby,” She’d always say, “They’re good boys.  You can remember me when the offering plate comes around.” A Momma.

As a missionary, the only pink face in a volatile neighborhood, Momma Gen would often be “taking a walk” (in her house slippers) when I left the building to walk home after dark.  Nobody messes with a Momma.

Working for an inner-city grass roots community center, putting in 50 hour weeks, Momma Cece would bring plates of dinner for the boys and me at least twice a week, knowing I wouldn’t have time to cook a dinner. That’s a Momma.

Sis and I kept sliding hangers. “Momma Burke” (we’ll call her as she didn’t wear a name tag) held out a blouse to each of us.  “These colors are perfect for you two and they’re very popular.” Before I could gracefully refuse, she said, “It doesn’t cost a thing to try them on and it’s good to try something new once in a while.”

You don’t argue with a Momma.  Sister stared me down as I took the beautiful blue, flowing top and stepped toward the fitting room.  I smiled back at her saying, “I’m going for it, You might as well too.” Momma Burke pushed the rusty red shirt at Sister saying, “Now don’t waste time thinking about it. The store is going to get busy fast.”

Moments later I heard Sister gasp in the room next to me.  Both the blouses were perfect.

Sure enough, when we stepped out of the rooms the store was full and noisy.  Momma stepped up out of nowhere, smiling.  “I knew you’d like ‘em; the colors suit you both and you can either dress them up or down.”

Sister agreed, thanked her and wandered away.  Clearly she was ready to leave.  I thanked Momma and explained I liked the blouse, but it isn’t in my budget until January. “Did you even look at the tag?” she asked, giving me “that look” over her half-frames.  I hadn’t.

It actually was that rare find from the clearance rack.  A second by most standards, but on me it draped perfectly, for $5.61.  I almost giggled.  Momma just smiled and went on to help other customers.  I wanted to hug her tight but taking the other blouse from the returns rack, hurried to catch up with Sister and bought both blouses.

We practically flew through the rest of the shopping and were home before we knew it.

I couldn’t stop thinking how God places exactly the right people in my life at the perfect times.  I’d longed for something new to wear for months.  With bills to pay, paying gigs scarce, I’ve made due with what I have.  What I have often isn’t a big deal. But it is today.

As I readied for Christmas Eve the next day, the mail brought a cash surprise. Immediately I thought of the leggings Sister wanted – and Momma Burke.  I couldn’t get to the store fast enough.  I found the leggings straight away and then went to the fitting room to find Mrs. Burke.  The woman that also worked there yesterday was absolute that she’s never seen anybody over twenty-something working in the store and she’s worked there almost two years!

Perhaps Momma Burke is a new hire starting late into Christmas season.  Maybe not.  I won’t be surprised to confirm sometime in the future, that Momma Burke is one of those angelic beings that appear and vanish when we actually need a little special help.  I shall look forward to seeing her again wherever it happens.

candles and nuts christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Genuine Love

warm-heart-4330x3112_21130

Year around, but especially during the holiday season I think about love.

 

Like many people, when I think about love, I typically think about how good it feels to be in love.  After experiencing the deep, passionate eros love [romantic, erotic] for other humans, felt it wane and eventually die, my attitude and sentimentality about love is slightly different now.

rustic angel heartI disagree with a few dear, wise friends who suggest that is mostly because of the walls I build around my heart.  In my experience I notice more than anything else that

human hearts seem to be more sensitive and slightly more realistic after being broken.

 

friends men2014-05-06 11.47.10-1I literally practice Philia love [affectionate friendship mostly between equals].  Agape love [charity, man’s love for God and God’s love for man] seems to need less practice, it simply takes over.  Neither are weaker, but agape love shines brighter, longer.  Loving comes with the risk of heartache or heartbreak – it’s the nature of the beast. But It’s a good beast.

Taking a little poetic license,  C.S. Lewis* described my perception of agape love for me:

2014-11-27 16.23.22“Thinking about God’s love for us is much safer than thinking about our love for Him.  Even if humans could always have devout feelings, God does not principally care about feelings .

“Christian love, towards either God or man is about will.  We are trying to do His will by obeying the commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.”  He gives us feelings of love as He pleases.  We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right.

“It’s best to remember our feelings come and go but His love for us does not.  Our sins, our indifference do not weary His love; and therefore, His relentless determination shall cure us of those sins, whatever it costs us, whatever it cost Him.”

I realize that people don’t like the word sin, especially when used in the same context with love.  Say it and you lose listeners quickly.  But sin/rebellion is humankind’s inherent inclination (free will), so I say it anyway.

About as far from religious as can be, in my mind sin is wrongness.  Similar to love, we constantly face choices to act wrongfully upon a wrong thought, especially one that would hurt or harm oneself or another.  I.e., a married person thinking, “I choose who my friends are.  I can flirt with that person; my spouse will never know, so it doesn’t hurt anyone.”  Acting upon such thinking often leads to hurt and harm. But wonder of all wonders, acting upon wrongful thoughts is not unforgivable, it’s human.

stableEspecially during the holiday season, I celebrate the greatest act of Love ever; God leaving perfect eternity to inhabit a human body, with a human mind and crazy human emotions, demonstrating a better way to live and to love.  To love is a choice. To believe and live Christmas love all year around is my choice.

 

I wish this love for everyone without regard to any belief system.

joy odpictures  Happy Holidays everyone!

 

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT)

 

 

*The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. & HarperCollins Publishers All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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