Christmas Ponderings

all-aglow

There is something quite wonderful about sitting in a darkened living room with the glow of the woodstove burning cheerfully in one corner. Add in the glow of a lit Christmas tree standing in the other corner and the contentment is complete. It is blanketed in a beautiful stillness and calm.

I have the house to myself for a bit as my husband is outdoors enjoying that brief slice of day that is captured between daylight and night. The world is hushed. Traffic has slowed on the blacktop past our place and the chickens have gone to bed.

It is the perfect time to really ponder on this Christmas season. The last few days have been jam packed with preparing for the holiday. Shopping, wrapping presents, messaging kids for last minute details, cleaning, baking and wrapping some more presents; have filled the days.

In the midst of that busyness,  this seemed like the ideal time to slow it down a bit and just feel the joy and the hope that is Christmas. This small space of time also gives me a moment to wonder about that night 2000 plus years ago when a baby came into this world.

I always kind of wonder if Mary could really wrap her head around the fact that she had given birth to the Savior of this world. I wonder if she knew what the next 30 some years were going to bring into her life. Did she know of the joy and the pain that she would feel? Did she know; but choose to focus on the joy that night?

How overwhelming would it have been, to be able to see exactly the path her Son would have to travel? Did she have any inkling that the wooden manger that held her Son would be mirrored by that wooden cross that held Him as an adult?  Did she really realize that her Son would be the light of the world?

I have no answer to these questions and probably never will. I do know that I am deeply grateful for the reason we celebrate this Christmas holiday. I know that we were given an incredible gift that night so long ago.

We were given the gift of hope that gets us through so many difficult places in life. Hope that never quits and never gives up. Hope in the great love He has for us.

We were given joy that night. Joy, that had angels praising and shepherds hurrying to leave their sheep just to see what it was all about. This was joy…..not just happiness that comes and goes….but a deep seated Joy that goes hand in hand with Hope.

Sitting here, in the dark, reflecting as I look at my glowing tree I realize that those little twinkly lights are but a tiny reflection of the real beauty and glory that is the Light of the World. Maybe that is why lit Christmas trees are so special.  They are reflections of something greater and something deeper.

My wish for family and friends this season is that you feel the hope and the wonder….that you discover the real joy of this season. I wish that the Light illuminates all the dark places in your life and blazes brightly.

May you be blessed and may you be a blessing to those around you. May you reflect the Light and know the joy of hope.

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5
New International Version

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess Pig

Princess the Pig gets a snack.JPG

It is always hard to know what to get for the birthday of a three year old.  Do you purchase more toys? Do you construct something that will last for years? (I should say have your husband construct something….) Should a grandparent buy more books? It is just hard to know.

I asked my daughter in law what she would like my granddaughter to have. It was suggested to look for a piggy bank. When my husband and I went to the store to look for one we were amazed at the variety of banks that are now available to kids…..Elsa banks, Mickey Mouse banks, Darth Vader banks, and the list goes on.

I remember as a kid, having a clear glass piggy bank that had no way to get the money back out. No opening in the bottom with a rubber stopper. We became pretty adept at holding the pig upside-down, sticking a butter knife into the coin slot, wiggling the knife till coins were parallel and then moving the bank “just so” to have the coins slide back out.  This was way better than the alternative which was to just break the bank!

Once our banks did end up hitting the ground and shattering into thousands of tiny pieces our banking consisted of a nestles quick box.  I can still remember the smell of chocolate as we opened it up to add coins to the collection.

In our search for the perfect bank, my husband and I opted for the classic pig bank. This particular one had a slight twist on the classic look — a little blingy crown and a pink tutu. My husband kind of wondered about the “ruffly thing” but I assured him a little girl would be impressed with that.  We also wondered about the durability of a ceramic pig.

When our granddaughter opened her present she was pretty impressed.  She touched the little rhinestones in the crown, smoothed the tutu and started lugging that pig everywhere. She also named this pig, “Princess Pig”.

Our fear about the ceramic construction of the bank was soon put to rest. We saw the pig hit the ground  2-3 times and it stayed in one piece. (that was a huge relief!)  My son is convinced it is not your typical ceramic….I think he might be right.

It was also decided by the three year old that Princess Pig needed a little snack. We laughed when we saw she had put a small plastic ear of corn on the plate. Somewhere along the line the genetics of her farmer granddads is pulling through.

It was so much fun to watch her play with that pig. She carried it everywhere she went. It sat by us as we read books. It watched us as we ate supper. The pig even had a small box made into a bed so it would have a place to sleep.

It is a great lesson to learn from a small granddaughter…..something does not have to be big and it does not have to be spendy in order to be enjoyed.  There is joy to be found in the small things. There is a joy to be found in twinkly pink rhinestones and a ruffly tutu on a ceramic pig.  And there is a great sense of joy to be found in watching your grandchildren enjoy those small things.

May your weekend be filled with a child-like sense of joy and wonder.

“See the world through the eyes of your inner child.
The eyes that sparkle in awe and amazement as they see love, magic and mystery in the most ordinary things.”
Henna Sohail

 

Rain, Grace and the Cultivated Heart

 

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There is something magical about standing under an umbrella in a soft summer rain. We had a beautiful rainfall during the night and into the morning.

As I let my “girls” out for the day I stood in my backyard and just enjoyed the smell of the rain as it hit the grass, the sound as it ran off the eaves of the house; into the rain barrels, the coolness of the drops as they landed on exposed skin and the hazy, filmy look it gave everything as it washed the world clean. It was a feast for the senses. I was too busy enjoying myself; to run and get the camera.  (Some things just need to be kept in a corner of your memory to be taken out and enjoyed later.)

Soft summer rains refresh and renew. They clean the dust off the leaves and buildings that accumulate on our hot muggy days. They are cooling, nurturing and life-giving.

The soft rains remind me that softness and gentleness are always better received than harsh, in-your-face attitudes and comments. This is a lesson that is a good reminder for me as I do like to “fix” things. I need to remember that “gracious words are…….; sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Prov. 16:24

I have seen what hard rains can do. They pelt and they hurt when you stand in them. They usually leave a mess when they are done. My husband has often commented, “Sometimes too much rain is worse than no rain at all.” And he is right.

A blogging friend made a comment about a “cultivated heart”.  I suspect that the requirements to getting one of those hearts are soft gentle rains in the form of encouragement, gently delivered wisdom from trusted friends, regular fellowship with those who lift up, but lovingly disciple, and those who will walk with you. These are the people who will gently point out areas in life and heart that need tending; but who will leave the deep tilling and the painful ripping out of deep rooted weeds to the Master Gardner.

A cultivated heart is born out of life experiences. It has let those experiences make it better and not bitter. It has decided to survive and thrive through the circumstances that life tosses in it’s way. It knows that life is not always easy; but has decided to take the chance to bloom and flower anyway so that others may be encouraged and flourish.

A cultivated heart opens the garden gate to the Gardener so it can be lavished with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22) and then it opens the gate again and showers others with the blessing of those same gifts.

It is grace…..it is a gentle summer rain.

May you be blessed with a warm summer rain that waters your soul and cultivates your heart. May you graciously receive and extend grace.

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
Psalm 72:6
ESV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weddings

The Mighty Oak.jpg

 

This past weekend we were privileged to go to my nephew’s wedding. The location they chose was absolutely beautiful….The Mighty Oak Lodge.

As we sat on rough-hewn oak benches underneath the wide blue sky I had time to look around and ponder in a “Somewhere North of the Moon” kind of way.

Thoughts on marriage, life, family, love and perseverance swirled through my head as the couple promised respect, love, and lives to each other. I wondered if they, like me 35+ years ago, had any idea what the next decades would bring. I have a feeling they don’t and perhaps that is a good thing.

Marriage is the start of a journey, a lifetime of learning and a great adventure. It is a blending of hearts and traditions of two families. It is a choice to wake up every morning and remind yourself to honor, respect and love.  It is a promise to God, each other and to oneself. It is trust covered in grace and love.

Looking back at the journey my husband and I have been making; reveals laughter, tears, joys, heartaches, memories so precious and all rolled up in the word Love.  I wish the same for my nephew and his bride as they start their own journey.

We made the 9+ hour journey to get there and when we drove on the yard by my in-laws it was filled with vehicles and campers. Four states were represented on that yard. Four states that love brought together.

My sister-in-law asked that I take a picture of all the cars and campers on their yard……

 

To her, seeing all those vehicles that arrived full of family, spoke Love. I told her I would not have missed this weekend and this wedding day. The reason it was important to me was because it was family, it was relationship. And yes, it was love.

Sitting on those wooden benches gave me time to think.  Material things can be bought and paid for; but love must be given, shared, accepted and returned; to flourish. As I sat next to my grandchild and my husband on that bench, I realized that in life, these are the moments that count. This was a precious gift. This was love.

My brother used to tell me that “the joy is in the journey”.  He was so right. May your journeys be joyful,  May you choose to love and may you look back on your life and know it was all worth it.

“Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:8

 

I do need to thank my son Joe for taking the picture of the big tree for me. I had forgotten my camera and he stepped in and used his phone.  (You know…..one of those phones that are smarter than me).