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2017 Holiday Season in Full Swing

Perhaps it was the new Pumpkin Praline Pie that I took along with the pumpkin and mincemeat pies, or maybe it was because I gave too much information in my post about Mincemeat. There was a lot of Mincemeat Pie left over after our Thanksgiving meal. I chose to see the pie pan half full and enjoyed large slices for breakfast on Friday and Saturday.

Yes, beef is listed as an ingredient.

This one is a keeper!

My two sisters handled hosting the most anticipated dinner of the year with style and impressive calmness. When I checked on them three hours before fourteen guests were to arrive, they were playing cards. The family gathering was full of joyful (noisy) conversation, delicious food, and expressed gratefulness.

On Friday morning, my sisters were ready for our annual Black Friday outing. The three of us have made it a priority to drive to a nearby city for shopping and lunch each year. We head out later than most folks and make it home  by dinner time. It’s our day to catch up and enjoy being sisters. More gratefulness.

My husband’s large family gathered at a nephew’s home on Saturday for a celebration of football, food, and family. It was wonderful to see our two sons and our daughter-in-law at both family parties. The three days of Thanksgiving ended, and Dave and I journeyed home to be in church on Sunday morning. Ah, Sunday.

Designated days resumed on Monday, now known as Cyber Monday, a day to make on-line purchases. I took advantage of a 40% off deal on some Love and Respect books and also ordered some items my husband needs. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving became Giving Tuesday in 2012. The worldwide movement encourages support of non-profit organizations with some donations being matched by corporations. On November 28, on-line contributions to good causes totaled at least $177 million. Our donation went to the LIFE TODAY Mission Feeding Program.

Today is Wednesday – just Wednesday as far as I know, except that we are now “officially” in the Christmas season. I’ve been asked if I’ve put up my Christmas tree yet. No, however, I have put away fall decorations and set up our lighted village buildings*.

*Full Disclosure: This is from a previous year. We don’t have the cords strung and little figures in yet.

December will arrive on Friday, and Sunday will mark the beginning of Advent for the Christian Church. It’s time for me to make some choices about more than which gift to purchase. Each day of this season, I hope to do these two things:

  1. Choose to bless, not impress. This has become one of my life goals. Keeping it simple avoids stress   and helps me to use my own gifts and time to bless people without comparing my efforts to what others do. I’ve decided to spend less time on Facebook. I don’t need any more recipes or decorating ideas. Less, I believe, will result in more. More time for my second choice…
  2. Choose to seek and to serve Jesus Christ. As a believer who is saved by grace through faith in Jesus, I worship Him, not as a baby born on Christmas, but as the Lord and Savior who will return for me. He is the Prince of Peace, and I need his peace. I was reminded at a prayer meeting tonight that we can be very busy and fail to accomplish anything worthwhile. My choice is to be still enough during this season to hear God’s voice in prayer and to seek to know Him better through reading the Bible.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

 

 

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Breaking a Bad Habit

I realized quite suddenly that I have a bad habit! It is one that involves my tongue and affects my mind and my mood. It also has the potential to negatively affect other people. Those are good reasons to break it.

My Revelation

I have a habit of including unnecessary negative details when giving a report about an event.  I can make a positive change to my life and others’ lives by breaking that habit.

How It Happened

  1. I was at a training meeting where important information was being presented. I needed to hear and remember what was being said.
  2. A distraction occurred that made it very difficult to do so.
  3. I decided to move away from the distraction and closer to the speaker.
  4. Someone else addressed the people involved and the room became quiet.
  5. I learned what I needed to know.
  6. Toward the end of the meeting, this surprising thought entered my mind, “You don’t need to tell your husband about the bad behavior of others when you get home.” I knew instantly that the words came from the one who knows what I am going to say even before I say it. (Psalm 139:4) When the Lord speaks, I listen! As I agreed with Him, I felt a strange sense of excitement and peace.
  7. When I got home and Dave asked how the meeting went, I said “fine” and told him a few things I had learned.

I confess that my usual response to, “How did it go?” would have been different. I might have said,”Fine.” and then added, “But, you won’t believe what happened…”  Then I would have given negative details that, in the end, did not even affect the outcome. He would, no doubt, have agreed with me that others had been rude, and his opinion of someone else would have been tainted by my report. In this case, it was over and I needed to let it go without repeating it.

A Positive Change

I’m still excited about the difference that will occur in my life as I make an intentional effort to not repeat negative details that are in the past. They cannot be changed and they don’t need to live on. Unless there is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed, which was not the case this time, I can avoid telling the juicy details that, truthfully, reveal an attitude of superiority in my heart. I can love the other by covering over their offense and not come away feeling offended. By eliminating negative reports, I will feel more positive, more joyful, more peaceful.

What’s the Big Deal?

By deciding not to include unnecessary negative details, I will

  1. Feel better about myself.
  2. Spare other people some negativity.
  3. Be obedient to Jesus.

As I conclude this post, this thought comes. Assuming that I have sometimes done or said something that irritated someone else,  how do I feel about the possibility that they later gave a negative report to someone about my behavior? If I am to treat others as I want to be treated, then I must give up grumbling, gossiping, and tale telling. It may sound like I’m being hard on myself. Not so! I am grateful for the revelation and excited about taking tighter control of my tongue.

Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

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7 Hour Traffic Jam – Patience part 3

Today began as an ordinary Tuesday. For me that includes a seven minute drive to morning Bible study and then back home for lunch. This was one of those mornings, though, when I felt like staying home. I had company in the back yard and was enjoying watching them snack and rest.

I do appreciate our teacher’s lessons and the time with other women, so I took a picture and headed for the church. I had some trouble turning on to the state route that runs through our little town. Thankfully, I was going west. The eastbound lane was full of diverted interstate traffic.

People were talking about an accident involving semi trucks when I entered the church. Our teacher and most of the class arrived, and we opened to 1 Peter for study, hoping traffic would be normal when we finished. Instead, it was bumper to bumper and stopped.

I remembered hoping to write about PATIENCE this afternoon and, not having any other commitments, could appreciate the presentation of a situation that would require PATIENCE. My experiences of watching the sun rise and of planting garlic had led up to this less rewarding situation. This would require PATIENCE for patience’s sake.

As other women were working out alternate routes home, I considered sitting in my car in the parking lot to write while the traffic cleared. It had been three hours since the accident. How much longer could it be? We had heard there might be injuries and prayed for all involved, including delayed travelers. I took my time getting out of the building and chatted with a few ladies until another hour had passed..

With home only a couple of miles away and lunch time approaching, I decided to set out. A considerate truck driver left space for me to get onto the road to join the stopped vehicles.  Ongoing construction on the two-lane, along with today’s utility work, made matters even more trying for all involved.

They needed to move their truck up the road, but were blocked by a car.

She was working – and stuck. I was only trying to get home.

I was still feeling patient and enjoying some praise songs on the radio as I used my phone to take pictures. When it took ten minutes to creep up to the next driveway of the church, I decided I’d rather sit in my car and write than sit still on the road. I put my windows down and filled a couple of pages with notes about this experience. It was now 2:00 p.m. – five hours since the traffic jam began. I decided to leave the parking lot again with plenty of PATIENCE left to get home in, say, thirty minutes.

After more than an hour, I was feeling hungry and tired. It was now 3:15 – eight hours since breakfast. Within my reach was a bag of donated items for our Bible study group’s ministry project. I found a snack to make the wait more tolerable.

 

Thankful for plenty of gas and some Buddy Bars.

After school travel was going to be a challenge for so many!

At last I crossed the closed interstate  and crept into town. The traffic was still stop and go when I reached the turn into my neighborhood. My seven minute straight shot home had taken 105 minutes. Not confident on the back roads, I had chosen the straight and narrow path home and did not turn off to the right or to the left (Proverbs 4:27).  Patient endurance was required.

A Few Takeaways:

  1. I know that many other people experienced worse discomfort and frustration.
  2. Patience has a time limit. I didn’t quite reach mine thanks to the Buddy Bars.
  3. Having a cell phone with me was comforting.
  4. Finding reasons to be thankful helps.
  5. I should take my neighbor’s advice and learn the back roads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Waiting for the Sun – Patience Part 1

On this cloudy Monday morning, I’m thinking about how my week began seven days ago. On that morning, I woke up in a vacation resort at Boyne Mountain, Michigan. It was still dark, and my husband was still sleeping.  We had traveled with his brother, sisters, and in-laws on Sunday to where we would spend three precious days together. I had welcomed the comfortable bed and slept well, and was now looking forward to some quiet time for prayer and reading before the busy day ahead. I slipped out of the bedroom and over to the living room window to pull back the drapery for a peek outside. A solitary star still shone brightly despite the attempts of a few clouds to hide it.  I smiled and praised Creator God for the gift, still planning to turn on a lamp and sit down to read Scripture. But as I looked again, a deep red glow was appearing atop the tree covered hills, directly below my star. I was facing east, where darkness was about to turn to light! The prelude promised a breathtaking show of star, clouds, and sun. And I had a choice to make.

I rarely watch the sun rise. Our home is surrounded by houses, hills, and trees that eliminate a horizon view. Beyond that (and I hate to admit it) sunrises and sunsets have a hard time holding my attention. Oh, I’m quick to grab my camera and snap a picture when God has painted a beautiful scene in the sky, but sitting still and watching something happen with almost imperceptible movement …well, it takes patience.

Would I face the window and wait, or just take a look in a few minutes to check on daybreak’s progress? I chose well.

Can you see the star? I believe it is actually Venus.

As my husband slept and all was quiet, I spent the next forty-five minutes appreciating the dance of the new day. The star would fade, but the sun would rise. As I watched nature’s show, I thought about the patience required to wait in life’s dark situations with hope that the dawn is coming. When we are troubled and days are difficult, darkness seems so strong. We don’t know what the future holds, and the days drag on with imperceptible progress.  Dare we hope that beauty and light are coming?

On another morning, thick clouds hid both the star and the sun.

Life’s snapshots are not the whole story. It takes great patience to walk through trials. Even as a believer in the promise of eternity through Jesus Christ, I’m sometimes stricken with feelings of fear and uncertainty. I’d like to skip to the happy ending. But I do dare to hope, reminding myself of the words of King David when he was surrounded by enemies, “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24)

So glad I got up to see this instead of going back to sleep!

The stunning sunrise made my waiting worthwhile. Of course, even the cloudy days have a sunrise that is just out of sight. I want to be patient even in discouragement, trusting that darkness will  turn to light in God’s timing and way.

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
    for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
    who conduct their affairs with justice.

 Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
 They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

Psalm 112:4-7

 

 

 

 

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