This Day

Today - time-on-my-hands, sun-at-my-back, world-at-my-feet – just for today.

Sunday – songs to be raised, God to be praised, love the Author of days  - It is Sunday!

Joy – joy in the journey, joy in His house, joy found in trials – True Joy

Blessings – thankful for all, rare to the small, I’m so enthralled- Such a blessing

Today – a new day of mercies, a clean slate to write life, one more chance to bring glory- just for Today

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Be Still

‘Tis the season, it seems. You know, the Back-to-School-Halloween-Christmas season? I know it’s true that Christmas is right around the corner because Costco told me so.

Strolling through the aisles pushing my cart full of dog food and cheerios just last weekend, I noticed a crowd milling towards the rear of the store. Never one to miss a good deal, or at least not one to miss drooling over a good deal, I wrangled my shopping cart in the direction of the massive amoeba of people. I could see “Stuff” disappearing off the shelves as the amoeba moved past it. Lego sets, cheese and wine gift packs, lights, ornaments, and wrapping paper were jumping through the air into carts seemingly of their own accord. If we are truly in the midst of the second half of a double-dip recession, no one has told these Costco shoppers.

At the edge of the near-melee I stopped to admire a convertible crystal punch bowl/salad bowl/covered cake plate/dip and chip set. (I am not kidding.) The lady next to me was gushing over what an amazing piece this crystal creation really was. I nodded, yes; it certainly is a wonderful idea and such a space-saver too. She put it in her cart, exclaiming it would be just the thing for her New Year’s Eve party. That’s when it hit me.

I’m not ready. I mean, I’m ready for back to school; we are actually having a great year so far. Frankly, the harvest season is something I enjoy celebrating right now…even though The Retail World does not deem it necessary. (Why is that, do you think? Could it have to do with profitability at all?) Life zips along at a dizzying speed as it is, and if I am not careful the tyranny of calendar commitments and a sense of time warped by retail marketing can mess with my priorities. My family’s life doesn’t have to run on the calendar set by the local mall…or the school system…or the TV guide.

Just because the world is going Christmas shopping at Costco, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this beautiful fall day, bake some pumpkin muffins, and continue prayerfully charting out the school year. I do not need to inventory the holiday decorations. I need to be here, with my son, thinking about The Jungle and what, if anything, our society has gained from 100 years of hyper-industrialization that has made us better people. I need to be here – really be here, now.

Slow down, take a deep breath, I must remind myself several times a day. Be truly present in your own life. Be truly present in every conversation, in every task, in every moment.

Be still and know that I am God.

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Slipping Away

Tonight I felt it for the first time. There is a change of seasons in the air, a little chill sidling up to my summer evening. I knew it was coming. I have been waiting, anticipating the cool nights and crisp bright autumn mornings that is all the seasonal change Southern California can muster. Here our days are deceitful. An October day might bring a triple digit blast of heat known locally as a Santa Ana wind – or “East Wind” to the real old timers – but the evenings give themselves away. Summer slips out of our grasp one hour at a time, with the earlier setting of the sun. Granted, it never completely leaves us…here in the land of winter sun summer can make a mischievous appearance in January, if she so chooses. And sweater-weather isn’t relegated to January! In fact, it a June-gloom morning is as likely to require an extra layer as the winter months, and the Fourth of July’s fireworks are nearly always accompanied by snuggling together under a light quilt as we watch the fog roll in to meet the smoky remnants of the rockets’ red glare.

I’m feeling another change of seasons in the air, too. Sidling up, grasping at my heartstrings, tugging insistently at the corners of my mind is the knowledge that a change in my life’s season is lurking just a few flips of the calendar away. I had just acclimated to the fact that I have a daughter graduated from college and working full time. I had approached that transition gingerly, like dipping my toe into middle age. But the water was fine, and I went wading right on in. Having one child grown and self-sufficient isn’t so different. It’s the evenings that give it away, you know. The days are deceitful. With the younger kids to get through school, my days have had the same rhythm as they have for twenty years. Research for lessons, grading papers, park days, and bleacher-sitting fill my every waking hour just as they have for two decades now. But, in the evenings there is a silence that creeps around the house occasionally, only to be interrupted by the whoops and hollering that I know and love.

I have noticed it more, this second time around. Our second child packed up and moved off to college just last weekend, and the normal rhythm is noticeably off a bit. He is a big presence, and leaves a large hole in our day with his absence. I can’t help looking at his younger brother as well, realizing that this little world of mine is beginning to wobble in its orbit. My universe is still spinning round, but a change is coming. Soon my days will not be characterized by barely organized chaos, but by a smooth, empty page of time stretching out before me, waiting. For so long, my task-oriented heart has reveled in the sheer exhilaration of riding life like a roller-coaster, barreling from one thing to the next, flying here and there, slowing down only to relish the camaraderie that is our family life.

Most seasons I have welcomed, having envisioned them, planned for them, and rejoiced in their coming. This season is different. I have never pictured what this portion of my calendar might hold. I’m not eager to begin it, and I’m glad that like the Southern California autumn, the season will change slowly, hour by hour introducing me to the next page on my planner. There is no worry, just a sense of nostalgia for each “last” thing we do now. When will be the last camping trip for the five of us? The last Holiday before we are joined by a newly married-in member? Ultimately, I look forward with eyes of faith to the next season being just as fulfilling, just as sweet as each that has come before in its turn. I do not know the future, but I rest confidently in the protection of He who does. I feel a change in the nighttime breeze, So glad I can trust the One who sent it.

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Happy New Year!

Have you ever noticed? In the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day the world slows down. Everyone snuggles at home more. Even businesses seem to find a lower gear, shorter hours, more grace for family. We cocoon with the treasures of our hearts: family and friends.

The world takes a breath.

It is as if, between the celebration of incarnation and the headlong rush into our future, we collectively pause to assess. In a society that paces before the microwave of life, we … suspend…for a brief, almost inperceptible, moment. The path before holds no footprints. Every new year holds the promise of beginning again – of Jubilee come to our hearts.

Then comes the Rose Parade, all those Bowl games, the rifle goes off and the race is on!…again…for another year.

So in the few dwindling days of 2010, I pause to consider. What has my life meant in the last 364 days? Have I furthered the Kingdom? Have I been attractive for the gospel – or has my flesh pushed people away? Has the noisy, demanding tyranny of the world pushed out the still quiet voice of God?

Christmas as a celebration of the incarnation is not only our salvation story, it is a daily challenge to our way of life. Praise God that when Jesus came to earth, he passed by any bounds of race, nationality or origin. He considered our distress in sin to be more pressing than His position of deity. Do I consider the needs of others to be more pressing than my position – my rights – my selfish interests?

I do not want to live to be old. I want to live to be mature – mature in the mind of Christ. I do not desire many years, but to live graciously and broadly in the years I am given. Like a traveler, I do not wish to rush around in a circle – to be taught the same lessons year after year for my failure to learn them. Rather, I want to push out into new thoughts, new responsibilities, hopefully walking in a manner pleasing God.

2011 is here. The old year peels off the days like an onion nearing its center, richer, fuller flavored than the dry husky days of last summer. Savoring them requires time spent doing nothing but perusing the dusty corners of one’s own mind. But now I am fixing my eyes on the unmarked path leading away from the fireplace and the solace of warm, snuggly places. 2011 beckons.

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Koinonia

What exactly IS koinonia? Well, it is from the Greek word that was used to describe New Testament church relationships. It is that fellowship, that communion of believers, that ideal unity that should exist when people are putting God first, others second, and self a distinct third. It is what happens when believers believe – really believe – that we are to love each other as Christ loved us. Koinonia is us being Christ’s hands, and feet, and heart. Koinonia should be among our everyday blessings. Ephesians 4:32, “But be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” That is the first step, today’s step, towards Koinonia.

Koinonia is rare when it should be common, it is a mystery that should belong to our everyday experience, it is both an ideal and a reality. The link on the Everyday Blessings site that you have to “click” to get here, is labeled “Koinonia.” I hope it is a good description of what this place is. I hope that here you will find encouragement, exhortation, challenge, and comfort -all stemming from the word of God. Click that little link often, hold me accountable! I hope to post some devotions here soon. I will think outloud here, and sometimes pray on paper (or screen, I suppose). There are oodles of cool features coming soon – from daily devotions in the works to special articles about missionaries and ministries! Watch this little spot – Koinonia is where you want to be!

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