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Anticipating Christmas – Patience part 4

Ohio’s beautiful trees took their time bursting into fall color this year. My October 22 birthday often comes during peak leaf season, but some years the trees have been bare by then.  We wondered whether 2017 would ever bless us with Autumn’s brilliance. The last day of October passed and as November arrived, our neighborhood was transformed.

I often hear people say that they like the fall season, but not what follows – the cold of winter. While I’d like to keep the days from getting shorter and colder and the beautiful leaves from falling, I’ve turned the calendar page to November and know that December is quickly approaching. And with it, Christmas.

On November 1, some folks gave themselves permission to listen to Christmas music since Halloween is over . These lovers of the holiday season may have groaned when Christmas trees appeared in stores during August, but now eagerly await an acceptable day to put up their own Christmas trees . If their window shades are down, you can bet they’re secretly watching a favorite Christmas movie well before Thanksgiving. I’m not one of those folks, however, I did practice some Christmas music with fellow flutists this week in preparation for performing at church. And I did begin to make plans with our sons and daughter-in-law for a Christmas gathering in December.

At our mall in 2014. I’m in the middle.

When you hear that there are only 48 days until Christmas, how do you feel? Depending on my state of mind, I might feel amazed that the year is passing so quickly, pleased that I already have several gifts purchased, or a bit anxious about all that will need to be done in preparation for December 25. I’m hoping that the mall holds off on playing Christmas music for a few more weeks.  I’d like to enjoy the beauty of November before seeing Christmas lights come on in our neighborhood. Some areas of Ohio have already seen snowflakes, and I know that it won’t be long until they fall. The sparkly winter season will bring its own delight.

Those who have much excitement about getting to Christmas will need some patience as these weeks pass. For some folks, patience will be needed to get through the holiday season. Perhaps life has changed in a way that makes celebrating difficult. There may be memories of happier family Thanksgiving dinners or Christmas festivities that stand in contrast to today’s circumstances. If you’re one of those people, I hope that you will know the peace and presence of God this year and will find a meaningful way to celebrate.

Having grown up in the Christian faith, my family has observed a season of waiting for Christmas called Advent. This year Advent begins on December 3. Beginning that Sunday, Christian church services will include a focus on the anticipation that ancient Israelites had for the prophesied Messiah. They waited, not knowing how long the wait would be. While we may feel impatient for Christmas to arrive each year, we can count down the days with certainty as to when we will commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the promised One, who came into the world to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10)

A second focus of Advent, meaning “coming”, is the birth of Jesus in individual  hearts and lives.  As we sing Joy to the World, we celebrate the Lord’s coming and plead, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Jesus enters into every life circumstance, whether happy or sad, and every home where He is welcome, whether it is extravagantly decorated or very humble.

The third focus of Advent requires much more patience than waiting for December 25. Christian faith includes belief that Jesus was resurrected after his death by crucifixion and ascended into the clouds after appearing to many people. The Bible contains prophecies, including the words of Jesus himself, that He will return to the earth at an appointed time that no one knows except God the Father (see Matthew 24:36). God’s salvation will be completed.

Patient waiting, accompanied by obedience to the one we have believed will be rewarded.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8,9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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October Garlic Planting – Patience Part 2

I don’t consider myself a gardener, but today I donned my gloves, grabbed a shovel and hoe, and planted eight garlic cloves in the clay beside our house. Tomorrow my husband will mulch some fallen leaves and spread a layer over the tiny garden. Then we will wait for November, December, January, February, March, April, and May to pass, hoping to harvest garlic in June. I have a good bit of confidence that the harvest will come despite the weather’s unpredictability and the various critters who munch on our foliage. Why? Because in the two previous years, I have planted garlic this way and been blessed with success.

My first attempt, though, was a failure. I bought a head of garlic at the grocery store, broke it apart, and planted it in the spring. Some plants came up, but failed to produce garlic heads underground. Then, in the summer of 2015, I met a man who was selling garlic at a festival. He was passionate about his products, and I took a bit of time to ask him some questions about growing garlic. I took some home and followed his instructions, confident that I was starting with better seed and knowledge. I separated the cloves of one head and planted them in the fall. They sprouted in the spring and put on scapes (surprise!). I waited until late June to carefully dig around the plants and found a crop. Seven heads of garlic from one!

I treated myself to that cute little pot to hold the fruits of my labor.

There was satisfaction in growing fresh garlic to add to my recipes. I kept the largest head aside so it could be divided into cloves and planted in the fall. The garlic I planted today is the result of that planting – and waiting.

I expect each of these cloves to produce a head of four or five cloves.

Growing things takes time and patience. Garlic is really easy. After it’s in the ground and covered for the winter, I don’t do anything but wait. I find wonder in the way a plant grows from a seed. The resulting homegrown ingredient is a blessing, but not a necessity for us. The gentleman who sold me the garlic depends on having a product to sell. A family who grows and preserves their own food knows the stress of waiting and hoping conditions are right for a good harvest. The farmer’s patience is held up as an example in the Bible. James says to Christians who are being persecuted, “See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You, too, be patient and stand firm, for the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7,8)

My last writing was called Waiting for the Sun – Patience Part 1. I had begun a post about patience before and put it aside, waiting until inspiration came with the Morning Star. Today, as I completed little tasks and thought about patience, many seeds began to sprout on the topic. Mustering some discipline, I’ve been jotting them down today – putting them in the ground, so to speak. My faithful Father God gave inspiration again, this time through garlic planting. I’m not putting a limit on this series about patience. It may be continued for weeks. I may insert something else and later come back to it. The topic is relevant in my life and, I believe, in the lives of the people around me.

How about you? Is patience something you would like to cultivate?

My little Oregano and Garlic garden. Planting while the sun shines!

 

 

 

 

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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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