Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waiting For Advent

It’s almost here and once again, I’m behind the curve. 


I didn’t grow up hearing that word let alone, knowing what it meant.My family was never introduced to the customs of Advent. We didn’t light candles on a wreath at the dinner table or even open doors on a children’s calendar to reveal treats. I grew up in the late 50’s and 60’s when families of post-World War 2 veterans enjoyed new suburbs sparkling with Christmas lights and department store windows were filled with America’s newest must-haves. The war was a memory, the boys were back and all seemed right with the world. 

In our house, in the days preceding Christmas, music felt constant.  A large cherry cabinet sat in the corner of our paneled family room. It was a modern hi-fi record player. Inside sat the turn table and a stack of albums perched to drop. The front speaker, clad in burlap and wire mesh, hummed out carols from albums we purchased yearly at the Firestone tire center. I still have them. Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Andy Williams were the men who dominated that prized hi-fi. And the man who was the star of Christmas was, without question, Santa Claus.

Jesus waited patiently.

He still does.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I fully entered into the church world. It was then I learned of Advent. The weeks preceding Christmas when we who call him Savior try to still the voice of commercialism and focus on the one true gift. Since then, every year, I realize that I haven’t come up with a plan on how to make the Advent season more meaningful. Do I quickly look for ideas on the internet? Should I go buy a wreath and candles? And where are those purple ones for the last week? Would it be okay to substitute colors that fit my decor or would that seem irreverent? Do I buy a calendar and fill it with treats for my husband who wants to keep his weight down? And what does chocolate candy have to do with the Christ child?

I’m telling myself to calm down. I don’t need to panic or feel as if I’ll miss the meaning. I’ve changed a bit since the 60’s and I’ve given my heart over to Jesus. I understand the true meaning, although it’s still hard to focus sometimes. I’ll always enjoy the other things associated with the season and I’ll take part in most of them, but I hope to always center myself where it matters. The traditions passed down are numerous, but reading the Bible and spending time thinking about it outweigh everything else. 

So, that’s my plan for Advent. I’ll bring my coffee mug and worn-out bible to my favorite chair each morning. I might put on some quiet music and if I have it all together, I may even light a candle.

Jesus waits patiently.

He still does.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


This morning, in trying to widen my thoughts with Scripture, I pulled out a journal that I bought in 1998 by one of my favorite authors/thinkers, Ken Gire: Reflections on Your Life; Discerning God’s Voice in Your Everyday Life. I found this entry on 6/19/2002 where I discussed taking time to sit in wonder at the beauty of nature around me and the love of God. I scolded myself for not making time with God a priority on my schedule.
I am not a scheduled person naturally. I’m one of those free-flowers. My husband spoiled me by letting me raise the kids as a full-time stay-at-home mom. That continued even when they left the house. No alarm, no time clock to punch. I have appointments and responsibilities but basically, I make the schedule. That can be a dangerous thing when it comes to my quiet time with God. You’d think otherwise, but it’s not always so. When the day stretches out before you in an endless open canvas, it can easily be fritted away and before you know it, you’re climbing under the covers and turning off the lamp. Whether you punch a time clock of sorts or fill a to-do list of your own making, the day can fly away without a moment of spiritual fill-up.
At the end of my journaling, I was surprised to find an acronym that seemed pretty creative and helpful. My first thought was Is this original or did I copy it from somewhere? Knowing that I journaled this entry in the woods with only my Bible and journal, I concluded it must be a revelation placed in my pea-brain. At any rate, I thought it was good and maybe I should pass it along. Especially to those flying down a “scheduled highway.”

Part of my entry:

What to do: 
Take more time to apply the brake pedal on my life. 
Slowing down still isn’t enough.

S = still myself
T = take what God offers
O = observe and enjoy
P = pray and connect

“For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.”   1 Corinthians 14:33

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sweet and Savoring

It’s summertime. The thermometer says 92°. On many days, the humidity is vying to win first place on the misery chart. Today, I opened the door to let the dog out and felt as if I were inhaling soup. Perhaps it’s a sign to work in my cool basement office.

I remember summer nights when I was young. Screened windows were open and fans whirred stirring hot air. (Do people even have screens on their windows today?) When I was a bit older, bedroom windows donned air-conditioners. They’d rattle and shiver and always drip, but they were a luxury we relished when August was in full swing. 

Occasionally, on sultry nights, when dogs barked at bike riders and the crickets were primed for their nightly concert, my parents would surprise us. 

“Climb in the car, kids. Let’s get an ice-cream.” 

Flip-flops (or thongs as we called them then) slapped the driveway as we ran for the back of the station wagon. We’d drive 10 miles to the nearest ice-cream parlor. No thirty-one flavors but perhaps eight. No fancy dipped waffle cones here, just ones labeled sugar or cupcake. We never heard of gelato or sorbet. There weren’t endless bins of toppings, but the teenager behind the counter could sure pile on the syrups and whipped cream and if you were lucky, two cherries. 

We would sit under glaring florescent lights on benches out front with the cold creamy dessert threatening to drip down our arms. Mom would rewrap our cones with endless napkins as we delicately licked the perimeter of the cone. There was an art to eating an ice-cream cone. The drips always determined the method. Some daring eaters would stick the whole top in their mouth and pull it out slowly making a curly cue on top. I tended to be the circle licker. Tilting my head and extending my tongue, I’d twirl the cone round and round smoothing the edges of the ice-cream. Regardless of the method, we savored the treat. I never remember seeing anyone biting and gulping down a cone in record time. What would be the point? Where would the enjoyment lie in that?

Here is my “connect-the-dot” moment. That moment where God provides a memory, an illustration and then connects it for me.
  • How often do I gulp down my time with him? Do I gobble his Word or do I savor it? Do I stop when something strikes me or do I quickly plow ahead feeling a need to finish? Do I feel a nudge that He wants me to explore, but ignore it?
  • Wouldn’t I do better to savor it like I did the cone? What if I take time to linger on a word or phrase that stops me? I could pray using the scripture even reciting it back to him. I could make it just for me. Just in time. It might become a message from God to me that follows me throughout my day. If I were to stop and savor, I might enjoy each moment feeling refreshed and “treated.”  To taste and see that the Lord is good. 
Maybe today I’ll indulge and order a double scoop.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 
Psalm 34:8

Monday, May 27, 2013

All That Glitters


         “I want the one with sparkles!” 

  When my girl was young, sparkles on anything won her heart. The gaudier the better. Princess tiaras, ruby plastic slippers, posters of ponies or glittered t-shirts - no matter the item, if it sparkled, it topped her desire list. I knew if I didn’t fill her closet with sparkles, the “fun grandma” would. My fashion sense veered more toward a classic, preppy look. Oxford shirts, seersucker, and grow-grain ribbon were staples in my closet. So, whenever my girl ran to a rack full of sparkles, I had to pause and mentally calculate how much glitter my world could handle.

     The other day, I looked around my guest bathroom. Several years ago, I had a creative idea to paint it white and make it a blank canvas for seasonal decorating. Since then, I regularly change the bathroom theme. Christmas decor transitions into Winter Snow, followed by Valentines, Easter, Spring, Summer Flip-Flops and finally Fall. 

     Wait. Bathroom decor? Have we switched topics?

     Hold on. My wandering brain can jump from mundane to meaningful. And the most wacky thoughts take off like a kid pedaling on high speed toward the ice-cream truck. I love random! And I love linking random to Jesus.

     Back to the bathroom. Looking at the current Spring decor, I noticed there were two things that glittered. Although I’d bought them and put them out for a few years, it never hit me that the preppy woman had sparkles in her guest bath. “I wonder what the attraction is for sparkles in our world?” I thought. “What draws us to it?”

     Sparkles shine. Duh. They catch the light, reflect it brilliantly and capture our attention. When you scan an isle of merchandise, if it shines, it draws your eye. (And your preschool daughter.) Glittering light is a cool sight, whether in my bathroom or from fireworks in the sky. It’s safe to say we’re all impressed with amazing light.

     If we’re impressed with sparkles here, what kind of glitter will heaven show us? It’ll be like glitter-mania, sparkle explosion times ten thousand. How will we even look at it? We’ll stand there and actually see, not just a reflection of the source of light, but THE light. John 8:12 tells us what Jesus said in no uncertain terms: “I am the Light of the world.” 

  When that same apostle, John, was given a glimpse of heaven as he sat on a rocky island he wrote in Revelation 21:23 “And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.” 

Woah. No blinding sun... but a dazzling Son. 
Now, that kind of sparkle could knock my preppy socks off.

Leave a comment below and tell me what you're looking forward to in that city of light.
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