My Top Ten

The moments of 2014 are winding down. I always feel introspective at this time of year, because I realize that I am closing one chapter of my life, even as I open a new one.

There will never be another 2014. Time doesn’t slow down, not even a little bit.

This year I have attempted to be more aware of the moments, and to reflect on what they mean to me. I thought through some of those moments, moments that turned into days……days that helped create my life.

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The Top Ten Things I Learned In 2014

1.  No one is perfect. When a person makes a mistake….he/she needs a second chance.

2.  True friendship often times involves some sacrifice of time and energy. Relationship is worth the sacrifice.

3.  Kindness towards others is never wasted.

4.  My husband appreciates the small, daily things that I do for him. I need to remember the little things I do in life, often times make a big difference.

5.  When a child goes off to college, there is a mixture of both joy and pain.  The relationship is changing, and I have to find a new groove, and that is okay.

6.  Good health is overlooked, until something happens. Appreciate it more.

7.  Mornings are quietly beautiful, a perfect time for contemplation.

8.   Love truly does cover a multitude of sins. Love even if it is difficult.

9.   God knows me. He knows everything about me, and He loves me anyway. That is powerful.

10.  Time is precious, and a valuable commodity. Use it wisely.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17 

Frozen In Time

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Last night, while I was outside walking the dog, I looked up at the cool, crisp, winter sky. The night was black velvet, with the twinkling lights of a million stars. The sight brought back a sweet memory…….

It was a late November evening in 2001, tinged with the cool air of a quickly approaching winter. I had been a widow for a full year at this point, and my son was six years old. My aunt had come to visit my mother and me, in east Tennessee. On this particular evening we had decided to go see the Christmas lights at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge. For whatever reason, there were not as many people there as was common. I felt like we had this beautiful park to ourselves. The Christmas lights twinkled, entertainers sang Christmas carols, we had delicious chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa at the Grist Mill, the night was magical in every way. For me, it was an evening that stood forever frozen in time.

I commandeered a local park artist to immortalize my son in a beautiful copper print of his silhouette. I still have that picture hanging, reminding me of my sweet six year old, and of that night, so long ago. He is now nineteen, and in college…..but, I still cherish the memory of our special evening in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Time goes on, and much has happened over the past thirteen years.  There were some great things, some not so great things, as is common for us all. Regardless, this sentimental memory still shines just as brightly as it did that night so many years ago.

God’s Love Story

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Every morning (and every evening) I go over to the barn to feed our horse, Jazz. Today is an especially dreary, gray, damp day. No sunshine, so the barn was dark and full of shadows. I threw open the barn doors to let Jazz out into the pasture, at least for a little while before the rain comes. Then I went and did the usual mucking of the stall. Now, I don’t know if you know anything about horses, but they can make a real mess. Even with pine shavings on the floor of the stall to um……help absorb, it is still a smelly mess to clean up every day. It’s not her fault, she just does what animals do…..and I just do what I do, clean it up.

Today, on this Christmas Eve, I stood in the middle of the horse stall and took it all in. I looked at my boots, filthy, and smelling of horse manure, soggy pine shavings, Jazz’s water bucket that I needed to refill, and the rough wooden walls of her stall. As I shoveled, the thought occurred to me of that Christmas so long ago. A baby born into this world, in a place not so unlike what I was standing in right now.

Tears slid down my cheeks as I went about my chores. Tears of joy, tears of awe. Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, left the glories of Heaven to enter time and space, in the most humble of surroundings. The celebration of Christ’ birth, is just the beginning of the story. The whole story, His life and journey to the cross, is overwhelming when you allow yourself to be reminded of it in a personal way. Jesus could have come in all His majesty, but instead God chose for Him to come to this world as an infant. God in human flesh.

The miracle of Jesus’ birth, the necessity of His death……all comes together in God’s love story.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  Luke 2:11 NIV

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.… John 3:16-17 

In The Days Leading Up To Christmas

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The mantle is filled with vintage Putz houses, a glowing Christmas tree takes center stage in the house, and beautiful cards are displayed on the door. The nativity is in a prominent place on the dining room table…a visual reminder of God’s love to the world. The gifts under the tree are no comparison to the gift of Jesus, Himself.

The sky outside is the color of slate, and branches of the bare trees scrape against it. The smell of wood smoke is in the air, a neighbor must have their fireplace in use. Icicle lights glitter in the evening dusk, reminding me of the glorious appearance of the angels on that night of Christ’ birth so long ago.

Sweet treats, warm cocoa, and marathon Christmas movies on television. Thankful for so much.

Quiet peacefulness settles in……. in the days leading up to Christmas.

 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
         And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”   Luke 2:8-14

Everything Else Pales In Comparison

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I closed my eyes.

I took a deep breath.

Deep breath in and let it out slowly….. I was letting the stress get to me.

Stressing is easy to do at this time of the year.

I needed to get gifts bought, as the clock continued to click down to Christmas. How did Christmas just sneak up on me this year? My to do list is a mile long and only seems to be getting longer. I love the entire Christmas season, but it sure can make me crazy.

Time for an adjustment. A reminder.

Silent night. Holy night. All is calm, all is bright………

My thoughts turn toward that night so long ago.

That night.

The one that was destined to change the world forever.

God came to this earth in the form of a baby. An infant dependent on His parents, born into the most humble of surroundings. A child that would grow up and live life….give life….BE life. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 

The greatest gift of all came to human kind, that night.

Everything else pales in comparison.

His Name Is Mitford

Our house is a zoo. My husband calls me “Dr. Dolittle”. It is true we have a lot of animals on our 12 acre property. (Ace, our senior dog, Lonnie our 9 yr. old terrier mix, Rocky our 2 year old Boxer mix and now Mitford, the puppy. We also have 2 indoor cats, and 4 more outside cats that are the best mousers ever. All but one of the cats, was either dumped on us, out here in the country, or was a stray left to wander, before they met us. We have 8 hens who give fresh eggs, 1 rooster, and a horse named Jazz, who is a retired barrel racer.) I am grateful for the land that allows us to have our animals. Yes, they are a lot of work, and time….but, worth it to me. Mitford is a ten week old puppy. I named him after the town in my favorite book series by Jan Karon. Mitford is one of the six offspring of our Scotch Collie, Ace and his “girlfriend” and next door neighbor, Sophia. Ace and Sophia made beautiful babies, even though it wasn’t a planned event. So, Mitford has one blue eye and one brown eye, which gives him a unique look. He has his mama’s big ears and super soft fur and, his dad’s huge paws, and coloring. I’m guessing that when he is fully grown he might weigh in at, at least sixty pounds.

Since Mitford is still not house trained he has to be walked every hour, and even then he has some accidents….but, he is getting better. Luckily for us, we have radiant heat, in our colored concrete floors. (We decided that concrete floors are different, but kind of fun to have.) The floors aren’t very forgiving when I drop a dish, but they are easy to keep clean. So, anyway, back to my story….. Mitford’s bathroom breaks have me living my life in one hour increments right now. At first, I was like, “This is going to take forever”, and I wanted him to hurry up and be done. Now, I am learning to slow down and enjoy the moments of walking around the property. Mitford and his schedule are forcing me to slow down and appreciate. We just came in from a walk and I took the time to see the heavy frost on the grass and roof tops. The sky appeared to have a blue haze over it, a haze the exact color of cold. It is sort of blue-gray. I pulled the zipper up farther on my coat and tugged my hat down lower over my ears.

So many times, I let the tensions of the day get to me, forgetting to slow down and actually enjoy the moments. Thanks to a little fluffy puppy, who is helping me to remember that all the moments are precious.

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Christmas Had Come Full Circle

Sometimes death whispers down fluorescent lit hallways that smell like antiseptic and medicine. At other times it arrives unexpectedly, ripping through a young life that held such promise. Some hear a diagnosis and walk hand and hand together with death, for years that follow, or sometimes it is the quietly closing of eyes that never open again. I hate death. I hate everything about it. I hate the acts of dying, whether it lasts a second or lingers for longer. It is hard and unfair…..and it hurts. It hurts not just the one that is dying, but to all those who love that individual. Death comes, when it chooses. None of us know when that moment might be. It could be today, or next month, or 50 years from now. We try not to think about it. No one wants to live in the shadow of the cold. The gray. The unknown.

I’ve faced the loss that death incurs, in my own life…on more than one occasion. My husband and I facilitate a GriefShare class, to help others that are on this journey. We have met people who have lost parents, children, spouses and siblings. I’ve looked into the faces of these individuals and cried with them. Like I said, I hate death.

Over two thousand years ago, a baby was born into humble surroundings. His newborn cries were mingled with the sounds of animals in the stable. His parents knew who He was, but probably did not, could not, fully comprehend what His birth meant. This tiny infant that Mary had delivered, was born to die. God in human flesh, came from the glories of heaven, to this broken world. He walked this earth, before He walked to the cross. He brought the dead back to life with just the sound of His voice, but chose to give Himself up for us all and stay on that cross until it was finished.

 

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Christmas had come full circle. The wonder of Jesus birth is forever intertwined with the sacrifice of His death and glory of His resurrection.

Death…. none of us will escape it, but because of Christ, we don’t have to fear it.

…Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”… John 11: 24-26

…Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection… Romans 6:3-5 

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

 

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