What we can do when the unexpected comes

Even at my age of 44, I’m still afraid of the dark.

I’m not afraid in my own house because everything around me is familiar. I’m like a bat fleeting through the house, checking on all that goes bump in the night.

But put me in a tent out in the woods or an open field or even worse… a dark street, and I’m one scared putty cat!

I can imagine the shepherds on that night in the field. Their surroundings would be familiar to them because the open field was their home. Yet I’m sure the opening of the skies and voices of angels were a bit surprising.

Even in our familiar routine, surprises can set us on edge.

Unexpected events can induce fear even in our most secure places.

The angels anticipated this and immediately spoke to the shepherds fear. They brought words of reassurance. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news…”

When the unexpected happens in our life, fear can come quickly and we can be held captive by our own fear, unable to move forward into the unknown.

Yet the shepherds… surprised in the dark and a bit on edge… trusted the words spoken to them and went in search of the One wrapped warm in the manger.

  •  What would they find there?
  • Did they understand the significance of what they had been told?

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There are times in our life when God surprises us with unexpected news and a new direction is announced which can set us on edge.

Yet even in the surprises of our life… in the unexpected… He speaks peace in our place of fear.

Unexpected changes in a relationship can bring fear. A surprising phone call can bring news we weren’t anticipating. And financial changes can be unnerving, causing fear to come to our hearts.

But just as the angels spoke to the shepherds that night, “Do not be afraid…”

Because in the unexpected, God speaks peace in our place of fear.

In the midst of some surprising news, the shepherds took some bold steps.

  • They listened for instruction
  • They followed the instructions
  • They found what they were looking for

We may not understand the whole event or even the significance and magnitude of the unexpected events in our lives, but we can trust God as He gives instruction and we follow in that direction.  He will work in and through the familiar and the unexpected to bring about good in our lives.

So do not be fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

 

Preparing for His Arrival ~Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday and we are meeting up with Kate Motaung and the gang over at Five Minute Friday.  This is where Kate gives us a word prompt and we all write on that word and that meet up together over here.  You are welcome to come join us there!  Our word prompt for today is:  Prepare

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In the craziness of decorating the house, shopping, baking, cutting the tree, mailing cards and wrapping gifts we can become overwhelmed with preparing for the event before we ever get to the event.

How am I preparing for the event of His arrival on the scene?

My daughter flies home today for Christmas break and my heart is bursting with anticipation and excitement.

My house isn’t quite ready for her arrival. The decorations are half done and the rest wait in totes.  The bathrooms aren’t clean and even her bed needs clean sheets.

The preparations aren’t perfect but my heart is all in. 

And even though my house is spilling over with laundry piles and dust accumulation, my heart is ready for a house full of family and being together.

Thankfully, when my daughter comes home she’s not going to run the finger dust check along the furniture edges or inspect the kitchen floor for food debris. She’s just happy to be home.

And when it comes to Christmas and His arrival on the scene, He’s not looking for perfection or for us having it all together. But instead He arrives on the scene of our imperfection and loves us there.

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This whole advent season is waiting in anticipation…waiting for His arrival on the scene.

His arrival means salvation… and an open door of grace.

We don’t have to live perfect or be perfect to have Him come in. He loves us right in the mess of our dust accumulation and our piled laundry.

So in this craziness of preparing for the event of Christmas, let’s not get so caught up in the preparing that we miss inviting Him in.

Taking in the Snow Day and Tackling the Holiday Hustle

Have you ever lived in a state of schedule overload? The last 2 weeks have been that for me.

I was discussing this whole idea with my Canadian mother-in-law and she pointed out the insanity of our American system.

We celebrate Thanksgiving so late in November that we run right into Christmas with no break or breath in-between.

With shopping, parties, decorating and baking, we continually add to our schedule without taking anything away.

How many times do we pile on without thinking through our commitments? We say ‘yes’ to others, and in saying ‘yes’ we say ‘no’ to our sanity.

I am guilty of this many times over. At times, I think I’m doing well with scheduling and clearing my plate but then I notice I have extra time, and through my own doing, I fill my plate once more.

This is the reason I haven’t written here. Through my own doing, I filled my schedule to overflowing and with needing some down time, this blog was the first thing to go.

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This morning I ran to the window like a little kid, tore open the curtains and whispered, “Yay…. a snow day!”

I have needed a day where the weather and the buried van in the driveway is my all-around excuse for staying put and catching up.

It’s amazing how fast a house can go downhill when all we do is go in and out again.

Even Emily asked last night, “What did we have for dinner last night?”

I answered, “We ate at the Pastor’s Christmas party.”

She asked, “When was the last time we ate a real home-cooked meal?”

And my honest reply was, “I don’t know!”

And that, friends, is a sad state of affairs.

Of course, after thinking about it, our last dinner home wasn’t that long ago, yet the sentiment was ringing true… we were running in too many directions.

So last night I cooked one of our family’s favorite dinners and sat quiet for the night, not rushing anywhere… not running here or there.

Today with the snow still piling outside, we are gladly staying put and enjoying another home-cooked meal. We need it and we all function better when we get our home time.

I’d like to hear from you.

  • How do you handle the holidays and all the extra scheduled parties and commitments?
  • What changes or adjustments do you make to your home and normal schedule to make room for the extra of the holidays?

I’d love to hear your suggestions and practical ideas for handling the extra of the holiday hustle.

Together, maybe we can tackle some holiday craziness and clear a path for some holiday rest.

The Day After the Big Bird

We have now eaten the big bird….not THE Big Bird but we definitely enjoyed the 23 pounder cooked in our oven.

It’s amazing how that smell of warm turkey basting in the oven with all its seasonings, carrots, onions and celery brings memories of past holidays.  I remember waking as a young girl on Thanksgiving morning and thinking, “Yay!  It’s turkey time!”  And then again as a college student coming home and waking to the house filled with the hustle and bustle of family coming in and the smells wafting up from the kitchen.  It’s like breathing in home!

Yesterday was almost like all that except for missing two important elements.  One being that every Thanksgiving morning since the beginning of time…at least the beginning of my time…I have watched the Macy’s Day parade.  My favorite part being the Rockette’s.  All things stop in my household when they strap on their tiny stiletto’s and step in front of the Macy’s store in downtown NY and put on their high kick!

There was just one problem with that yesterday.  We had forgotten we no longer have cable.  Yes, that shows how important it is in our lives.  We actually forgot we DON’T have it!  We cancelled it this spring because truthfully, we never…as in very rarely ever watched anything on it.  We simply clicked over to Netflix or watched DVD’s.

We finally decided to get rid of it and we weren’t really missing it until this last Wednesday night as we sat around the dinner table talking about the plans of Thanksgiving morning.

“…and we’ll watch the Macy’s Day parade!!!!”  Oh, wait….we don’t have cable.

I think this was the first time since we cancelled the cable that we actually thought about the loss of such an invalid part of our existence.

We did learn the parade was streamed on the internet but, alas, we didn’t even do that.  I guess, the time for that significant tradition has passed for us as well.

As for our Thanksgiving, we had a fabulous day.  It was full of family coming from Ohio, faithful friends from right here and new friends from around the world….literally!

Because we live in a university town, people come from all over to study and learn.  Some of which are too far from home to go home for the holiday.  And because Dave and I have experienced living away from family almost our entire married life, we spread wide the table of thanksgiving and invite the world in.

Wonderful people from Ohio, New York, Montana, Texas, Colombia and Iran all set around our table(s) yesterday. Our lives are fuller from the conversations and fun this day held for us.

Just for those wondering, we did do the whole disposable plates and cups thing.  It was a beautiful addition for calming the chaos!  We knocked out those dinner dishes in no time.  We also cooked most of the meal in metal, foil pans which we folded and threw away at the end of the day!  This is a tradition to keep!

One of the highlights was this beautiful turkey made by my friend, Cheryl.  I just love the little turkey legs!  Gobble, gobble!

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Another highlight was the after dinner snowball fight.

There’s nothing like watching a bunch of grown ups pack snowballs and launch them across the yard at one another with some face smacks and head thumping.  I will say, this morning my house holds some sore bodies.  Not naming names but you know who you are!

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Another element missing from our table was our beautiful Samantha.  It saddens the heart of this mama to not have her home for the holidays.  Yet I’m so grateful for the seeds we have planted in having others in our home because again God has shown Himself faithful in providing a wonderful home for Sam to be in for her holidays away.  Thank you, Danika and family!

This mama is also so very grateful for Skype!  What a great way to see and connect with those far away!  We now count down the days until Christmas break!

The leftovers from that big bird are put away until lunch rolls around and the leftover feast begins.

Today as we recover from the fun-filled day of stuffing ourselves with yummy goodness, we again reflect on all the blessings He has given and I am thankful for each one of you who makes my life richer and fuller.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Do you have any great stories from your day?  We would love to hear them!

What I’m doing different this holiday season

The week has brought us back around to our Five Minute Friday time with Kate Motaung and the gang.  This is when we all write on the same word prompt for 5 minutes and enjoy the variety in which we find ourselves writing.  Today’s word prompt is: NOTICE

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This is my busiest time of year as I’m sure it is for you as well. We don’t really eliminate anything from our lists of to-do instead we just add holiday craziness to our schedules and shuffle through, hoping we come out on the other side not too unruffled.

So this holiday season I’m choosing something different.  I’m choosing to notice the moments instead of getting lost in the momentum.   

Even now, I notice the snow fall outside and I want to curl up with a warm cup of happiness and knit something cozy because isn’t that what we should do on a cold, blustery day?

It’s the week before Thanksgiving…the first event of the holiday shuffle…and I’m shopping, planning and getting things together.

In other years I’ve thought about the table settings, the dishes and the perfection of the day.  Yet this year I’ve already settled in my heart that instead of fussing over details I’m going to enjoy the people of the day.

For the first time in my years of doing Thanksgiving, I’m investing in nice disposal dishes. I’m investing because in years past I fussed over table settings and all things matching too much.  And yes it will all match because I’ll buy the matching set of all things disposal.  And at the end of the meal I can look around and be pleased with the company sharing my table instead of the dishes still yet to be scraped, cleaned, washed and put away.

Sitting here typing this up, I’m watching snow cover up all that is dead and fallen from the season just past.

I can get lost in the season of tradition and the way in which it’s always been done but this year I’m setting a new tradition.  A tradition of noticing moments instead of getting lost in the momentum.

Thanksgiving is a time of noticing. Noticing the blessings in our lives and all that is good.

So this season, I invite you to join me in choosing the moments instead of the mayhem.  Choose to notice the people and the moments we have with them, instead of getting caught up in the momentum of the holiday shuffle.

And who knows maybe through these moments shared we’ll even knit something cozy and take in some warm cups of happiness together.

Happy Friday everyone and Happy Thanksgiving as well!

Getting it started in the morning

It’s Friday…Yay!  And we are joining up with Kate Motaung again and the gang at Five Minute Friday.  Kate gives us a word prompt and we all write for 5 minutes.  All the details are here, if you’d like to join us.  Our word prompt for today is: STILL.

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The house is quiet and still.  And before the pitter-patter of feet and the rustling of the dog, I am awake and tapping away at the keyboard.

A mantra of our days could be ~ “My life is full and time’s limited.”

I can fill my days with appointments, errands, and taxi-ing from here to there.  My feet can hit the floor and my mind flies ahead towards all that the day holds.

Yet I’m learning not every thing is an emergency.  Every email and text doesn’t need an immediate answer.  My running here and there doesn’t make me more productive…it just wears me out.

This quiet time in the still of the morning gives me time to stretch out not only my limbs and joints but my priorities and agenda.  I have time to set things in their right perspective.  This life-giving, soul-feeding time sets the tone for the day and instead of running to catch up, my pace is set and ready for the day.

With a full house and a noisy life, not every morning is quiet and not every morning is still, yet for the ones I’m able to nab, I’m grateful.

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How do you begin your mornings?  How do you set your pace?  Do you have any tricks of the trade to share with us?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Leaving Time ~ Five Minute Friday

Welcome back to Five Minute Friday, where we get a word prompt from Ms. Kate and write for five minutes.  No over thinking, over-editing…just free write for five.  If you would like to join us, you can here. We’d love to have you!

Our word prompt for today: LEAVE

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From my kitchen window, I watch as the kids rake the leaves from across the yard. My almost 6’ foot son has now built a pile taller than himself.

Are we ever too old for the leaf pile?

Dave watches from the window as one, then two, followed by three kids pile in.

“I have to go show them how it’s done!” he says as he heads toward the door.

And I watch as their faces light up now that Dad has joined the fun.

My child-at-heart husband takes a runny start and flips himself over and in. He is swallowed up in leaves and comes out the other side.

One by one they try and out do the other.

The sun is setting fast and dinner is waiting on the table. Which one do we choose?

Della, our yellow lab, has joined the excitement and she knocks the pile down with each run through. No one seems to mind. They all laugh together, throwing leaves about and racing through the yard.

I hear the laughter and I know the days are passing quickly.

I’m learning to leave time in my own agenda for the moment that is happening right in front of me.

So today — we can leave dinner….the leaf pile is waiting.

STOP 

Have a great Friday everyone!  And I hope you all leave some time for fun this weekend.

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