Can We Talk?

Come now, 
and let us reason together, saith the Lord
though your sins be as scarlet

they shall be as white as snow..." Isaiah 1:18
more here 

And a story snapshot:
     Janine dusted the snow from the iron patio chair and took a seat on the very edge to peer upward into her son's face. Something was wrong--she knew it, just as she knew how the house keys had been misplaced. The weekday rush caught her out this morning. Her keys perched inside on the hook by the back door, and she was locked outside with her almost-a-man son. His brother would be home soon, and they would all troop inside; the opportunity for conversation lost. Focusing her gaze on his face, the set of his brow, and the cast of his mouth, Janine determined to do her best to invite his confidence. "I think something's bothering you. Would you like to talk about it...?"


Transformation Miracles

I am confident of this very thing, that ...

He who began a good work in you ...

will perfect it until ...
the day of Christ Jesus.

"Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up. Don’t doubt the passion and ability of God 
to fulfill the plans of God for you and for the world."  
Marshall Segal, desiringGod.org
(click here for a short devotional on this profound topic)

*Photos of the stunning amaryllis show taking place 
in my kitchen windowsill right now. Watching the transformation 
is a constant reminder of this powerful verse. 
That an ugly brown lump of a bulb can produce these 
is a miracle of nature. One which hints at the 
mighty transformation miracle he does in His children.


Game Night and Soup

There's lots to love about January game night.
Card games that feature loved ones laughing so hard that their eyes drip joy. 
Kitchen confidences shared over a steaming coffee pot while scores are tallied.
Flirty glances and idle threats lobbed across a table littered with dessert plates.

and ... SOUP! 
Here's what I suggest, but it does change every time. 
Consider this a (very) vague guideline for your soup. 
Personally, I've never made the same soup twice. 
I just cannot do it. 

January's Sunday Night Soup
1 large onion
1 cup carrots
1 cup zucchini 
1.5 cups potatoes
2 t. garlic
salt and pepper to taste
large box of broth
2 pounds chicken or beef
- Cook meat in large soup pot, keep the broth and cut finished meat into bite-sized pieces.
Saute each vegetable separately, seasoning each to taste. 
Use more or less of each, whatever your crowd likes.
- Dump finished veggies into the large soup pot with the cooked meat. 
This can be time consuming, so feel free to light a candle, check the laundry, or smooch your 
spouse while vegetables cook. You could use a pan for each veggie, if you have that many, 
to cut down on prep time, but I like to end with the smallest possible pile of dirty pans.
- When all the meat and veggies are finished, add garlic to the pot and pour in 
enough broth to cover everything. Simmer until flavors combine. 
To make creamy broth instead of clear, check out this listI use#7 - flour. 


Quietly Snoring

It's cold out here in Kentucky.
Don Juan climbing rose drooping and encased in ice.

It's a time of barren landscapes after the festivities of December.
I feel a certain camaraderie with the cool, bleak landscape. 
Neither of us have much to say right now and hardly anything to offer. 

But I know that life is sleeping out there in the gardens, not dead, 
just quietly snoring, preparing for the next season

God is about to do a new thing in my life.
What about yours?


Much More to Come

I have a jar of paperwhites brewing in my windowsill right now. 

So far, shiny brown bulb paper is their most attractive feature.
But look there -- 
the tiniest green leaf-tongue protrudes from each, a whispered promise of more to come.
Much more to come.

The above is a photo of paperwhites from last year, or maybe the year before that.
The added quote is something I'm trying hard to grasp in 2016.
While I tend to cram my empty places full of other things, 
Jesus gently reminds me that He is the only One who can satisfy. 

And there's much more to come... 
much more.


Get a Bucket

I'm not sure we'll have any of this in 2016. 
The rain is pouring, drenching the ground and creating standing pools of water in our backyard.
Years ago we learned to be grateful to live on top of a tall Kentucky ridge-- 
so we don't worry about flash floods, at least not in our immediate area.
But there is a flood of another sort slowly building in our basement. 

* I got a call this evening, the kind that chills the blood and makes a heart flop in place for at least a single minute. "Mom, I had an accident..." 
One of my guys had an accident in a busy intersection, at high traffic time, in heavy rain. Even strong young men can get sobby when they've been spun into a ditch or knocked into the wrong lane of traffic. 
And my third son is just beginning his driving experiences - YEESH.

** Today an old friend responded this way when asked, "What are you doing?" 
"I'm sitting here in the dark." 
She's in an assisted living facility now and is mostly blind. 
Light of the World, shine on my friend, your daughter, and illuminate her darkness. Fill it with 
Yourself and show her more beautiful sights in her inner man than she's ever seen with her 
outer man, as it decays day-by-day. Give her an understanding of why she's still here 
and not there with You, and give her the strength to fan the flames of Your gifts.


Christmas Eve

"Oh, holy night!
The stars are brightly shining.
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
Fall on your knees! Oh hear the angel voices!
Oh night divine, 
Oh night when Christ was born."
-Adolphe Adam

Was your Christmas Eve was all you hoped for? 
I got to enjoy the unmistakable aroma of an old church, 
hear a handbell choir
(it would be very hard to stay humble as a bell choir member), 
and pass the candlelight from hand to hand. 

Why is it almost impossible to keep weeping at bay during 
this simple Silent Night ceremony?
The symbolism of receiving the tiny flame and sharing it with strangers, 
as well as the ones I love, 
plinks something deep inside. 
If only we shared the True Light as eagerly, 
without the slightest hesitation.

This is a New Year resolution to consider...


Best-Ever Christmas Gift

When my boys were little, I asked them for one gift - a Christmas song.
Not just any old, raggedy holiday song, but a real Christmas carol - a hymn.
No shopping or cash required; no wrapping paper, scissors, or tape to worry about.

My request generated hushed practices behind closed bedroom doors, and stray 
sheets of music threatened to ruin the surprise. Occasionally a musical instrument 
made it into the mix, and my favorite song ever, "We Three Kings", included props. 

I love that they were committing sacred, and sometimes ancient, phrases to memory:
"Come, desire of nations, come; Fix in us thy humble home."
"... to save us all from satan's power when we have gone astray ..."
"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;'"

Many years later, I'm still asking for my Christmas hymn. 
Every year, it's the last gift given, sometimes almost forgotten in all the December 25th excitement. 
My men and almost-men line up amid discarded paper wrapping and empty boxes to sing. 
It's my favorite gift, by far the best three minutes of Christmas Day.

And just imagine how this might work out in the years to come. Lord willing, 
daughters-in-law will join in giving me this cheap and easy-to-wrap gift, and maybe ... 
even the grandkids will sing along someday.

What a gift that would be!


What About the Innkeeper?

Here's a re-made version of an old photo of our "play creche"
with words from one of my favorite Christmas carols.
Click on over to Jeanne Doyon's blog, Pausing to See God Clearly, to see the 
back story behind the photo.  
and find out why the innkeeper never got out to play.
Here's a link to her blog. Make sure to check back in the new year - 
Jeanne always has great content on her blog. 


Love In Action

So how is it going with your Christmas Good Deed? 
It's one of our traditions, carried over from  the little boy days
During the Christmas season, we encouraged them look for some task, 
a good deed, they could perform -- Little Drummer Boy style
I know, I know - the Little Drummer Boy is not in the Bible, 
purely an invention of Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass. 
But the value of the story made it a vehicle for real-life
growth and learning for my sons during the Christmas season.

The search for a Christmas Good Deed was taken pretty seriously by my guys, 
poor boys that they were, and they still remember a few:
taking a last-minute part in the children's holiday play (with lines),
packing bags of treats for county jail inmates,
offering to help a woman with car troubles in a superstore parking lot,
delivering food to needy families and including a spontaneous song

Now that they're mostly grown, I can't help them find their good deed; 
there's no opportunity to hold hands along the way and share courage.
So I watch for my own Christmas Good Deed and talk about my search 
during mealtimes, or between plays during Sunday afternoon football.

How great would it be to find them carrying on the tradition of 
Christmas Good Deed with their own someday families?


Favorite Drummer Boy Quote: 
"Your gift ... given out of the simple desperation of a pure love, is the one favored above all." 
That's worth pondering. 
So are these verses that support the concept of a Christmas Good Deed. 


The Christmas Cloth

A Christmas story ...

Elda sorted through the top drawer of her bureau with both hands. Finally feeling the distinctive stitched edges of the linen, she drew out a small folded square of painted fabric. In this sacred time of year, her heart swelled with anticipation at what her Savior might do in the next few weeks.
She moved with brittle, short steps through the sitting room of her small apartment in the senior community where she had recently settled, clutching the Christmas cloth as she went. Elda recalled the cloth as it had been when she'd purchased it as a twenty-year-old girl in the dime store one block from her seminary quarters. Once stiff and proper, and now so threadbare! Just like me, she mused, as she held the cloth up to the afternoon light that pressed itself through the block window over the tiny second-hand couch. Elda smiled and shook her head, I was stiff and proper too, but now I'm thin and soft with all my dignity worn away. She yielded praise for the uncanny wisdom of her Lord and removed the framed photos from her coffee table. 
Her knobby hands spread the festive fabric over the wooden surface and stroked the creases smooth. This foldable Christmas token had traveled the mission fields of the world with her over the last sixty years. Always tucked securely in the bottom of her leather satchel, together they slipped down jungle rivers by canoe, crossed mountain borders by train, and trekked miles of remote pathways. 
Every December, countless tiny, brown fingers caressed it with curiosity while she waited patiently for the questions which always followed. 
What is this cloth? What does it mean?
It was her chance to share the Gospel through the story of Christmas. Elda remembered the joyful faces of those who had knelt with her in grass huts or curtained alcoves, and on so many dirt floors, to be born anew into the Kingdom of God. Wherever she had been, in whatever discomfort was necessary, those moments were her favorite gifts every December. 
Peace on Earth had come to many whose hands she grasped over this very cloth. Now, as she spread it again, she wondered who might join her this year, her ninety-first, to celebrate the newborn King. Father, if You will, let this old missionary woman share the Good News one more time this Christmas. 
Elda's doorbell buzzed and the door swung open to admit the nurse on duty for her corridor of apartments. She smiled a welcome to a thin young woman who wheeled a metal cart piled high with pills and syringes. The nurse made small talk with Elda, telling her about the weather and reciting the dinner menu. Her tasks completed, she packed her gear for a quick exit, but stopped short when her gaze fell upon Elda's Christmas cloth. 
“What a pretty old cloth! Where did you get it?” 

- Susan Holt Simpson


Link to Lint

I'm guest posting at Jeanne Doyon's blog today!

Come read my post about how Christmas memories are a lot like ...

This link will take you there. Enjoy!