Its been 3 weeks (2 Sundays) since our church has been together. The weather has been unusually 'seasonal' - as it has been across most of the country. Lots of snow and freezing temperatures making travel on the more rural roads dangerous, so we had cancelled our services. I was beginning to wonder if Redeeming Life Fellowship would be able to have a Christmas Service in its first year of being! We were down to the wire - only one opportunity left - Christmas Eve. I dreamed and prayed and was looking forward to seeing all our friends and experiencing the beauty of Christmas Eve together. Well...TONIGHT WAS THE NIGHT AND IT WAS SOOOOO WONDERFUL! ! ! Almost everyone was there! I just couldn't smile big enough! I couldn't hug them enough! I didn't want the evening to end. Charisa led the carol singing; Kirk (one of our pianists) accompanied her. Elisabeth sang, "What Child is This" - The Christmas Story was read in sections, each section followed by carols. We had 4 candleabras and the lights of the Christmas Tree (we rent this building, and the tree was there already) to sing by and at the end, we all lit candles while singing, "Silent Night" - just voices. It was soooo beautiful. The feelings of anticipation and fulfillment were rolled into one. You could feel the hearts of the people raised not only in memories of Christmas, but in sincere worship. Afterward, I passed out Candy Canes tied to packets of Hot Chocolate and Christmas cards. More hugs and Christmas blessings. I didn't want the people to leave! Everyone looked like they were as excited as I was to be together and as he was leaving, one gentleman said, "This is my family!" - and I knew exactly how he felt.
As beautiful as the Christmas season is for some, it is a time of heartache, pain and loneliness for others. The expectation of great joy and peace on earth seem to accentuate the opposite experience in many people's lives. Some people say it is the most difficult time of year - emotionally and mentally. Their hearts are gripped with the overwhelming sense of loss or emptiness - discouragement and despair. I'm sure many of the people in Bethlehem felt the same way the night that Jesus was born. Life under the rule of Rome, the required census, the long journey for many, the overcrowded city, the realization that Rome was going to demand more taxes. Life was not a pleasant experience, to say the least. People were hurting. I'm sure many people wanted to give up because their journey in life was so hard to walk.
Dear heart, I wish could sit at your table and look into your eyes - right now. I would echo the message the angels proclaimed that night: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
They were giving these shepherds a message that would bring great joy - the joy of the reality of the Living God in their 'midst'. He was there with them in the middle of all the discouragement, poverty, hardship, and painfulness of life - He was in the 'stable' of their lives. I want you to know, HE IS HERE WITH YOU IN THE MIDST OF YOUR DIFFICULTY! Be encouraged! You can have HOPE! The Lord God of heaven and earth IS HERE WITH YOU and He is longing, with an outstretched hand, to help you take the next step. He presence will bring you JOY! His PEACE with surround you! His LOVE will overwhelm you! The rest of the angels' message must have rung in the hearts of the shepherds all the way to Bethlehem - "GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST AND ON EARTH PEACE, GOODWILL TO MEN!"
I can see them dancing all the way to see the Savior in the manger! Three years ago, today, our 22 year old daughter, Odessa, was skiing with her fiance, when she lost control and hit a tree. She walked off that mountain into the arms of her Savior that night. I know what its like to experience great pain during this time of year. But, dear heart, I want you to know that I also know the joy the shepherds experienced because I knew then, as I know now, that the Savior is with me - and all that is His to give (love, joy and peace) are with Him too. Lift your eyes to the heavens! Hear the song of the angels and then run to the 'stable' of your heart! May you dance and be filled with hope, joy and peace as you meet Him there.
We've had quite the winter weather conditions here this past week. Snow, snow and freezing road conditions. I love the snow, but haven't been out in it much, except to feed the birds. I don't have the 'gear' for it anymore. Snow comes so seldom here.
I've been watching my grown boys though. The snow hasn't stopped them! They're out driving in it like its always been there - I remember doing that at their age. I had to get to 'my events'! Today one of them gathered a bunch of friends and they are out 'having fun' in the snow (his version is 'doing donuts' with his truck!) Anymore, I'm afraid of the ice. I don't like the feel of it under my feet and I certainly don't like the feel of the ground if I hit it with any part of my body! What I have enjoyed is the way snow seems to slow life down. A lot of events are cancelled, travel limited or stopped. Its a quick exercise in "What's a real priority"? Since childhood, I've loved the 'hush' that a blanket of snow brings with it. It makes me want to tip-toe outside - not wanting to disturb anything. There's a sense that everything is resting - and it is - and it moves my heart into that same place. I am more prone to sit and meditate at any time of the day or evening - when there is snow outside. For some reason, I don't feel guilty for sitting down in the winter.
"Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28-29
"The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat." Mark 6:30-32
Seasons of resting are obviously part of God's design for His creation. Being aware of the availability, the need and the benefits of rest should move us toward taking time to rest more often!
Our front yard beyond the feeders :) The back yard - I caught a gust of wind carrying the top layer of snow in a dance!
The clouds are so heavy you'd never know there is a range of gorgeous snow covered mountains beyond my backyard!
This is a rare occurance in Sequim. OH HOW I LOVE THE SNOW! ! ! So, today is a perfect day to decorate for Christmas. We got our tree yesterday and I set up the new Willow Tree Nativity set that Jeff gave me for my birthday. I added Three Wisemen from John Spring's collection What a delight! And, in all my excitement, my heart is still and peaceful, overflowing with joy! Its that precious time for quiet reflection on all that 'Love' means. God's love pouring out to us in a myriad of ways saying, "Look here! Look over there! See the beautiful gifts I make for you to enjoy my dear child! I SOOOO LOVE YOU!" And one day, when the time was right, He sent Jesus, a baby - the most precious gift He could give to show someone just how much He loves.
Oh Lord, you're beautiful! Your heart is exquisite beyond words and imaginings! Thank you for Your demonstrations of perfect love. May I love as You do! Amen
Tonight, my husband bought tickets to a local church's Christmas Musical Program. It was very well done. I was impressed with the overall presentation which portrayed the hearts of all that were involved. Our daughter, Charisa (now Mrs. Charisa Silliman) directed the 1st-5th graders in a song. This is the first year she has worked with this group, and I had no idea all that she had put together for them in the one song! She had them doing actions, playing a kazoo for one verse and giving a 'Broadway Bow' at the end! It was SUPER! I'm so delighted for you, Charisa! Well Done! This church is very large and very professional and I have enjoyed the music they perform any time I've attended, but this evening, I was thrilled - but not just with the music! It is the first time I've attended a presentation that was directed by their 'new' Director of Music. If any of you have read much of my blog or my website (http://www.captivatingwoman.com/) you know my heart loves to cheer people to find their God-given design and to live in it with all their heart. This young Director was the absolute epitome of this! As I said, I was THRILLED to watch him! And I might have thought, "What a glorious opportunity for a young man!", as many would probably think. But, I've been involved a little with directing music (choirs, mostly) and that would seem to minimize the facts. This Director was once a boy who probably loved to hear and play music; practiced to become as skillful as he could possibly be; studied in college for years (even enduring the 'non music' courses) to get to the place where he would be qualified to stand in the midst of such a large and talented group of vocalists and musicians; and, to be able to mix all of that together into this evening of flying in his soul on the wings of God's design for him. It was stunning! I applaud him following his heart and for putting in the hard work to become the champion he is today! May God bless you, Joel, as you have blessed hundreds this Christmas with your life! And, may many be encouraged by Joel's example to find God's design for them and to pursue it with all their heart. Because, in that discovery and pursuit is absolute joy that never ends, and it springs up splashing on everyone around them!
You guessed it - I've been to Long Beach and back again ;) I love spur-of-the-moment things and this trip was one of those. I'm always on the lookout for a sweet squeeze in between hectic or demanding schedules where I can go and spend some time in the wake and roar of the ocean. Monday was absolutely spectacular! The weather was very unseasonal - hardly a breeze, warm, sunny with clouds in the sky. The beach was like a cleaned chalk board - no marks in it - so beautiful! The ocean was amazing - the waves were cresting so far out. There was a little fishing vessel, I believe it was 'trolling'(?) parallel to the shore, so it gave quite a perspective on the action out there. A rainbow formed from a little spot above the water until it was a full arch connecting sky, sea and land! What an unforgettable experience! My soul revels in a day and an experience like that. Sometimes it feels as if my soul would leap right out of my body! ! ! How thankful I am to be able to 'come away and rest awhile' in the plethora of God's works of creation. It makes me feel like I am in the center of a vast museum of a Master Artisan - and I, too, am a work of His fingers. Its where I belong - its the perspective I need to keep! (You can click on a photo to see an enlarged image - Have fun!)
Today, my husband was on the hunt for our Christmas lights - we wanted to sort through them and decide which ones to put on the outside of the house. I think as far as he got was finding the lights, and sorting through to see which ones actually worked or not. I found a box of them in the garage - looked like it had been neatly 'repacked'. We got sidetracked because he was also looking for a Christmas music box I have and he ended up going through lots of boxes in the garage - there's so much STUFF in there and I keep hoping that someday soon we will go through it all for the last time and clear it out! In his search for the music box, actually called a Music Bell Symphonium, he found a box of photos - A LOT of photos! As I am prone to do, I brought it in the house and we stood for, I don't know how long, going through photos that went a way, way back! I think photos are wonderful. They help me remember. They stir my heart. They help me re-evaluate how I'm feeling about a person. Often over the years, they have caused me to fall in love all over again with my children, and lately, I'm noticing how young we were in those pictures! But, the best thing photos do for me, is they remind me of how fast time has flown by and that it hasn't slowed down any and these moments I have here with my family are truly precious. I am reminded to say and do the things I would normally put off - for another day. Instead, I do it NOW - and RIGHT NOW, I'm going to stop this blogging and go visit with my daughter who has been gone all day. PHOTOS - a look into the past which leads to a reconsideration of the present that leads to a beautiful change for the future. Cheers!
I have begun a new blog! It is called "My Bird Sanctuary Dream" and you can find it at http://www.birddreams.blogspot.com/ ! I will keep reports there concerning the development of my Bird Sanctuary Dream Coming True. See you there!
'Tis the season when there is a huge thrust by compassionate individuals and organizations to reach a hand out to those who are in need. We see the Salvation Army at every high-traffic retailing center. There are Coat Drives, Toy Drives, Food Drives, Stocking Drives and even Quilt Drives. I saw a news clip a couple of days ago that brought attention to the huge need and the insufficient resources to help people with Thanksgiving. The number of people waiting in line at a food bank was 2100, I believe, and the line formed all the way around the block! I have always known, in a broad sense, that people are hurting and the homeless have a miserable existence. I was more aware of their existence around the holidays, but as too what their life is REALLY like? - I didn't really know - UNTIL...I watched the movie "The Stone Pillow". I do not suggest this for families with young children, but for adults it is a 'must see' if you want to gain any kind of insight into what homeless people deal with on an everyday basis. Lucille Ball stars, but it is not a comedy, tho' there are some brief moments when her 'ways' will make you chuckle. We have so much - and there are so many that have not. Get on board with some organization or pray and ask God what He wants you to do. I sincerely suggest that you do more than 'give' money or things. Get involved. Rub shoulders with and look into the eyes of the people that need your help. Go and share LIFE with those who are poor. You will never be the same again! Jesus said that the poor will be with us always. He also said that when you give to the poor, you have given to Him; and in Proverbs 14:31 says, "Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker,but helping the poor honors him." Lord, give us eyes to see and hearts to understand Your heart for the poor and needy. We are ready to step into a realm that is unfamiliar to us in order to bring Your love, grace, peace and joy to those who are looked down on, despised and rejected. We desire to honor You, Lord. Amen"
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I was born and raised on the east coast of Canada. I was a "stay-at-home" mom for 30 years with 6 wonderful children. I live each day with the incredible joy of knowing that God has created all things and He has packed every living thing with amazing potential, and I have just begun the journey to find out what my own potential is!