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Snow Day

Yesterday afternoon my piano students were excited about the possibility of a snow day. They had only been back to school two days since the Christmas holiday.

Before the evening was over, I got into their spirit of anticipation.

Early this morning, I looked out the window to see if any flakes were falling from the sky. Not yet. I turned on the local news and weather, and to my surprise schools were already canceled in the surrounding counties. This is some kind of prediction.

At about 7:30 am, the deck began to turn white. Maisie and I donned our warm coats and headed out into the beginnings of a ground cover. I wondered what she would do with snow. We welcomed Maisie to our home last March, and while snow may not be new to her, it would be a something for us to experience together for the first time.

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She sniffed at it but there really wasn’t enough yet to stir her curiosity. As snow accumulated, she ran and nosed it and seemed to enjoy the white stuff.

A snow day is like a surprise, free 24 hours, if you happen to be a school student or a teacher. For the road workers, it may be the busiest day of their week.

My home piano students were scheduled to resume lessons today after having the month of December off. I canceled those activities and settled in here at the Wright House. The snow day is a present to be opened and savored.

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I can use it to catch up on reading my current book, Beth Moore’s first novel, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus.  I could clean out a few more drawers or closets, that on-going January ritual of mine. I may put a pot of vegetable soup on to simmer.

I will most likely practice the piano since there is a wedding coming soon. I will drink another cup of coffee or perhaps some hot chocolate as Sweet William and I watch the grey sky full of flurries. Maybe I’ll take a nap.

When I really consider it, each day is a gift. God presents us a fresh beginning every 24 hours. We can use it for good, we can rest in it, or we can waste it if we are not careful.

The freedom to choose how I spend the next precious hours of my life comes from the Father who knows how to give good things to His children.

I think of Moses’ wise counsel often: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) .

Wisdom is the thing. I want more wisdom. I need more wisdom. I want to use discretion and be discerning in how I live this wonderful, wild life I’ve been given. I want to be prudent in how I treat others, in the words I say, and the way I live out my purpose.

Numbering my days, keeping aware of its brevity and my mortality, seems to be a key to wisdom. Looking to God and His Word for the plan and following Him will be the way to invest my days. Then perhaps, this will be a life well spent.

Today is a snow day. Taste it, experience the joy of opening the gift.

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A clear vision

Several years ago, a friend told me about unclaimed money and how to look for it.  And guess what?  I found some that had my name on it!

It wasn’t a lot of money, not like a windfall inheritance from a long lost relative who remembered me in his will.  But it was a nice surprise.  It was like getting a check for free.  Quite exciting.

As I look at the first day’s study of Armor of God, I am reminded of so many spiritual blessings I have already been given through Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 1 lists many of them:

redemption, forgiveness, riches of God’s grace, included in Christ, marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit, God’s incomparable great power for me, and on and on.

But if I forget about them or don’t make the effort to access them or simply don’t believe they are for me, then I am likely to walk in defeat rather than victory.  I’ll be the poorer for it.

I need a clear vision of God’s spiritual blessings, the bounty of His goodness lavished on me as a follower of Jesus.  He has given me so much and I need to open my eyes.  I need to believe what He says.  I need to receive it all.  All!

Open my eyes so I can truly see the marvelous things in your law!   — Psalm 119:18, NET Bible

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I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people . . .    –Ephesians 1:18 NIV

Remember that free money I was talking about?  It took some effort on my part to get it.  I had to fill out forms and mail some things in before the check came to me.

It is the same in our relationship with our Savior.  He takes us just as we are but does not plan on leaving us in that place.

He has given us everything we need, grace abundant, gifts galore, and He wants us to grow in Christ.  He wants us to become disciples so we then can be a discipler, helping others grow.

Is it too much trouble for me to come to Him through prayer and Bible study to learn more and access His power?  Will it require too much energy to gather with fellow believers so we can learn, encourage each other, and challenge one another like iron sharpens iron?  Is it just too much out of my comfort zone to open up and share with a trusted Christian friend when I struggle and when I need prayer?

I don’t think so.  The gifts and blessings are there for the taking.

I need to reach out and take what is already mine.  In Jesus Name.

 

 

 

Be the vessel

Sometimes it’s something someone says.  Sometimes it’s a sermon I hear.  Sometimes it’s both.  And the thoughts begin to form in my mind.  Such was the case yesterday at church.

Be the vessel that God uses to display His glory.

Do you sing, teach, speak?

Do write letters, write manuals, write a blog?

Do you fix things, build, inspect?

Do you advise, manage, organize?

Do you sympathize, empathize, cry with and pray for?

Do you offer a healing touch, listen with your heart, touch tenderly?

Do you nurture, give care to children or the elderly or a family member?

Do you discipline, disciple, instruct?

Do you make people laugh, make them think, make them feel at home?

Are you a true friend, a good neighbor, a loving parent or grandparent?

Then you are a vessel for the glory of God to shine through.  As His glory filled the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple built by Solomon, His Spirit now fills each believer. We have the potential to unveil the glory.  Think of it!  His glory in us.  Declaring Him to the world.

It is in our brokenness, our poorness of spirit that He shines bright, offering light for the lost world to behold Him.

All that we have, each and every gift, talent, and experience is designed by the Creator on purpose. It comes from His hand.  Out of the abundance of His love He supplies our strength, our thinking processes, our ability to do anything.  Shall we not then return it to Him by being the vessel through which He displays His glory and His love?

Whatever it is you do, let it be to the praise of His glory.  And be the vessel.

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The day after Christmas

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It’s Christmas Past and Sweet William and I sit quietly in the early morning hours waiting for the dawn. Tree lights still twinkle red and green.  Devotions are read.  Coffee cups emptied.  All is calm, all is bright.

I ponder Advent and the moments we have been given.  Friends gracing table, shared joys and sorrows, memories and hopes mingled.  Learning to be content with the plenty and the less than. The prayer “Be enough for me, Jesus!” being answered in tender ways.  Learning He is enough.

It is the season for giving gifts, and I will receive the gifts God gives for they are all beautiful though sometimes they melt me. The molding and pressing and changing of a life into something more akin to the Son, my dearest, nearest of kin, it is a painful process.  There is no other way to reflect His light, His love.

Today I relinquish claims to my own will.  Tomorrow I will have to do it again.

He is Lord.  Lord over all.  Lord of my days and my nights.  Lord of my laughter and my tears.  Lord and King benevolent and gracious, always bestowing the gift of Himself.  The greatest present.  His presence.

God with us.

The mystery was revealed and angels gazed in wonder.

The prophecy foretold was fulfilled.  The Promise became living, breathing Infant.  Child.  Savior.

The Creator surrendered to the constraints of creation.  The Lawgiver came to fulfill the law.

The breath of God, His very Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  Still lives with us.  In us.

The unutterable name of YHVH was wrapped in a blanket and called Yeshua.  Jesus.

And thus . . .

The lost is found.  The prodigal gets to go home.

The impure is cleansed.  The sinner is called righteous.

The ugly is redeemed and clothed in beauty.

The war-torn is offered peace and a place of rest.

The needy receives grace.

The orphan is welcomed into the Father’s house and invited to call Him Abba.

It was a holy night.

This day, this time in history, this moment, it is holy still.

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With us

And His name shall be called Emmanuel.

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The Hebrew interpretation is “with us God.”

A God who is with us.  Think about it.  Let it sink down into your soul.  The greatest One with whom there is no comparison or equal wants to be with us.  Us.  Us the created.  The fallen ones.  The sinful.  The reprobates.

It is beyond me to understand this.  And yet it is a primary truth in the Christmas story.  A baby is promised and His name shall be called Emmanuel.

After 400 years of heavenly silence, a word comes.  A word from God.  Though the silence was deafening, He had not forgotten or forsaken His people.  He was sending Someone to be with us.  And that Someone will be small, helpless, defenseless.  He will need someone to care for Him.  Those “someones” will be the reprobates and sinners.

And I ask Mary’s question, “How can this be?”

Only a love beyond measure can explain it.  Even then I am unable to comprehend that kind of love.  My love is no match to it.

The greatest gift of Christmas is the With Us God who came to earth.  He gave us Himself.Christmas-Ribbon-Tree

Let every heart prepare Him room.

Make space for Him.  Unwrap the Gift and behold the glory.  Take the Gift and receive the grace and beauty offered.

The With Us God has come.

 

The gift

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I was out of town last weekend, flying by myself on an airplane and finding my way through Houston International Airport for a connecting flight.  I felt like a grown up and a child at the same time, navigating signs, regulations, and my own insecurity.  I did it, a bit nervously, with purpose.  I went to get my granddaughter who lives states away and bring her home to stay with us for a month.

And that is a gift.

She’s the eldest of my three wonderful grands, and the one who first made me a grandmother with that bursting wide open of my heart.  I had no idea that love could just break me right apart as I scooped up this tiny being who would take the heart of me and change me forever.

Love does that.  It transposes the song of life and we are never the same.

Love gaps us open, open for joy but also open for pain.  Pain is often the price of loving deeply.

I’ve felt the contradicting emotions, the loving and the losing, the holding close and the giving up.  The loss comes in different forms, whether by moving, misunderstanding, divorce, or death.  It happens to all of us sooner or later.

But the risk of loosing is more than worth the joy of loving and being loved. “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” is so true.

The granddaughter and I flew home together, our heads bent in conversation, laughter, taking selfies (with a photo bomber), stories, tears, and hugs.  She is a kindred spirit and we feel the connection deeply.

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Some good things

The season of spring just lights up my life.  It is my absolute favorite.  I like the colors of fall with its cooler temperatures, and I find pleasures in the hot summer and cold, icy winter.  But spring . . . it just makes me smile from the inside out.

As I go about my days and my duties, there are so many good things I am enjoying now.  So why not share.

  • The red bud tree in the front yard was planted the year my eldest granddaughter was born.  I went to the woods that spring with my friend, Ms. Caroline, and she let me dig up the tree from her property.  The tree means so much as I remember both of these special people.

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  • It’s a fine thing that my Lowes is now on the same road as our new Wal-Mart.  Two-stop shopping convenience is such a good thing.
  • Driving along Eastern Parkway is eye-candy, jewel-tone azaleas mixing with gentle pink and white dogwoods.
  • A day with my Sweet William is grand, even if it is only half a day, when we run errands, shop for necessities and get home into time for a cup of afternoon coffee.  Simple pleasures for the two of us sometimes feel like a miracle.
  • I met my aunt for lunch at a new-to-me restaurant that surprised my taste buds with pleasure.  The company was nice too.
  • I enjoy pulling weeds.  I know.  But the process reminds me how my own life needs weeding so often.  After the rain is perfect weeding time.  They come up more easily, reminding me that the washing of the water of the Word does the same for my heart.
  • Open windows with breezes blowing fill the house with the outside freshness.
  • My piano students are preparing for their recital.  They work so hard to “polish and shine” their songs and we enjoy the process.
  • Yard sales are popping up all over.  My first yard sale of the season is quite exciting and special whether I buy anything or not.
  • Spring flower sales are just around the corner.  I have plans for them soon with a good friend who shares my love of all things green.
  • Bible study in our home is a new concept for me this year.  I am in the midst of the second one and am finding it a joy to welcome sister-friends here for fellowship and a good dose of Truth.
  • Birds are singing in the early, early pre-dawn.  I like to open my window and listen for the first one who seems to signal the rest of them to join in the chorus.

Life is just full of good things, gifts God has given already and new ones He pours out daily.  The changing seasons are opportunity for me to take notice, to look up and give thanks.

Martha Stewart isn’t the only one who has good things.

The invitation is open for your thoughts.  I enjoy hearing what you’re thinking. 

Holy night

It’s Christmas Eve and Sweet William and I sit quietly in the early morning hours waiting for the dawn. Tree lights twinkle red and green.  Devotions are read.  Coffee cups emptied.  Little dog snores softly in his bed beside us.  All is calm, all is bright.

I ponder Advent and the moments we have been given.  Friends gracing table, shared joys and sorrows, memories and hopes mingled.  Learning to be content with the plenty and the less than. The prayer “Be enough for me, Jesus!” being answered in tender ways.

It is the season for giving gifts, and I will receive the gifts God gives for they are all beautiful though sometimes they melt me. The molding and pressing and changing of a life into something more akin to the Son, my dearest, nearest of kin, it is a painful process.  There is no other way to reflect His light, His love.

Today I relinquish claims to my own will.  Tomorrow I will have to do it again.

He is Lord.  Lord over all.  Lord of my days and my nights.  Lord of my laughter and my tears.  Lord and King benevolent and gracious, always bestowing the gift of Himself.  The greatest present.  His presence.

God with us.

The mystery is revealed and angels gaze in wonder.

The prophecy foretold is fulfilled.  The Promise becomes living, breathing infant.

The Creator surrenders to the constraints of creation.  The Lawgiver comes to fulfill the law.

The very Word of God becomes flesh and lives with us.

The unutterable name of YHVH is wrapped in a blanket and called Yeshua, Jesus.

And thus

The lost is found.  The prodigal gets to go home.

The impure is cleansed.  The sinner is called righteous.

The ugly is redeemed and clothed in beauty.

The war-torn is offered peace beyond understanding.

The orphan is welcomed into the Father’s house and invited to call Him Abba.

It was a holy night.

This day, this time in history, this moment, it is holy still.

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I Need a Silent Night by Amy Grant

Drummer boy

Back in October I heard the familiar sound, far across the way, the tap-tap tapping of the drum corps in perfect synchronization as they marched onto the football field of a local high school.  It brought back fond memories of my own little drummer boy who grew up to become a percussionist.  He can still handle a mean pair of sticks.

While Scripture does not record an appearance of a drummer who shows up at Jesus birth, I think there is truth conveyed in the song, Little Drummer Boy.

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In a variation done by Prestonwood Baptist Church Choir, a child sings, “I’ll play for you,” and the choir echoes the same promise.  The phrase holds meaning for me, perhaps because I am a musician who spent many years in service to the Lord by giving the gift I’d been given and playing for Him. It gets even better since I married a musician, birthed a musician, and now have the privilege of teaching others to be musicians.

But one does not have to be a musician or a singer or in a marching band to find meaning in the phrase, “I’ll play for you.”

When God called Moses to lead the Israelites our the bondage of Egypt, He asked him, “What is that in your hand?”  To which Moses acknowledged it was only a rod, a staff, a piece of wood.  Nothing special or unusual.  Until it was put into the service of the Lord, and it became the rod of God.

What is in your hand today?  Culinary expertise?  Organizational skills?  A patient listening ear?  An ability to explain the difficult so even the simple can understand?  Do you teach, help, pray, give from your resources, show mercy?  Do you clean up other peoples’ messes?  Do you have patience to work with children or the mentally and physically challenged?  Can you lead a group of people?  Are you nurturing little ones in your home? Caring for an elderly relative?

The thing that is in your hand is the instrument on which you can play for the King.  It is your gift.

Come they told me, Pa rum pum pum pum, a new born King to see, Pa rum pum pum pum

Our finest gifts we bring, Pa rum pum pum pum, to lay before the king,  Pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum

So to honor Him, Pa rum pum pum pum, when we come.

No matter what “drum” you are playing for the Savior this Christmas season, play it loud.  Play it clear.  Play it so all the world will hear.  Christ the Lord is born!  And He is worthy of what we offer.

And so we honor Him.  Then He smiles at us.

A revised post from 2011

Happy Birthday Jesus

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The first time I heard that little voice singing “Happy Birthday Jesus” on the radio I melted into a puddle.  It was so tender, so sweet, so, well, childlike.  That’s all I can say.

And isn’t it really His birthday?  Really.

Is there a chance we have become sidetracked in our Christmas flurry and forgotten?

An article I read years ago suggested giving a gift to Jesus at Christmas.  Assuredly, it would be difficult, practically impossible, to find something for the One who has everything, the One who is complete in Himself, the self-existent  “I AM.”

How does one gift the original Giver?

Reading in Genesis 12 this morning, the words leap from the page.  “I will bless you . . . and you will be a blessing.”

And I see that this is the key.  I have been gifted, graced, showered with blessings in order that I might give grace out of my abundance.

Yesterday, I spent my day getting ready for a Christmas recital with my piano students.  It was a flurry of activity and I was weary at day’s end.  But smiles from parents and grandparents and hugs from students afterwards were reward for my efforts.  This morning, I consider how the gift of music given me has become opportunity for me now to gift others.  And it brings joy.

Because when we give, we are blessed again by the blessing we have received.  Isn’t that God’s economy?  That we can never give it away without more blessing being returned upon us, good measure, pressed down, shaken together?

There are countless ways to do it.  Each person’s uniqueness can be an expression of blessing to another. You can decide what gift to give and doing it in His name, it’s like giving to Him.  And isn’t that just an amazing way to share grace.

Christmas programs with children are something everyone should experience.  This is a precious picture of children in all their child-likeness.  Enjoy their expressions, their wiggles, their singing, their attention, their distraction.  They are being who God made them to be.  Children.  And it is just delightful!