Take down the tree... its over!

For years it became the joke in our house that by midnight on December 25th, our tree was down, the ornaments were put away, the Christmas placemat were in the box, the Christmas cards were tucked in the basket, and toys and new clothes were distributed to their appropriate homes.

Christmas was over - back to normal, enough needles picked up from the floor (even from our artificial tree) for another year. 

In typical fashion Frank began putting away the tree and all the fixins' late on December 26th this year.  When I returned, I was a bit taken aback.  Oh no, we need that tree - my family is coming this weekend... how can we sit around and open gifts without the glistening lights and family ornaments that encompass our tree?  It was a bit of a dilemma...  I had a few additional errands to take care of, and most of you can guess what my sweet guy did.  When I returned, the tree was back in place with all 726 ornaments in tact.  :)  Well, not quite that many, but it is close.

I was so very appreciative and thankful, reminding him that he didn't "have to" do that, but we both knew I was hoping and even expecting that he would.

So after this weekend, it will all be put away a second time...  What will stay with us?  I have toyed with the idea of leaving one angelic ornament or one favorite decoration out all year.  What would I choose and why? 

If you continue reading The Story in Luke 2, (we usually stop at verse 20 when the shepherds left glorifying God) He (Luke) takes us along with Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem to offer Jesus to God 'as commanded' in the temple. 

Simeon was there; he had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.  He knew when he took Jesus in his arms and began a tender oration about who the Messiah was including a blessing with the reality of coming pain for Jesus.

One translation says Mary and Joseph were speechless with surprise; another says they marveled at what was said to them; one adds they were amazed and in wonder.

Speechless is not often an adjective that would be used to describe me, but in this quiet morning moment, I will join Mary and Joseph to simply sit in amazement at this Savior of our world... Who promises to walk before, beside and behind.... even me.  Which ornament might I leave out this year - how about this one - the posture of Mary; quietly, tenderly with hope bowing in prayer..  May that be my posture for the coming year...

Tell me

Hallmark commercials are the best, aren't they...  you just better have the tissue box handy.  I recently was struck by one of their commercials that I would title, "Tell me".  Various people of various ages spoke one sentence that began with "Tell me". 

The statements included these:
Tell me you appreciate all the things I do...
Tell me I bring out the best in you...
Tell me that you are thankful..
Tell me that it won't be the same without me..
Tell me that you love me... even if you say it every day...

Wow, wouldn't you love/long to hear any of those statements.  The producer of that commercial, of course, hopes that we will need a little help in the "telling" and buy the perfect card, and sometimes we do need help!

When Clay was a preschooler he and I spent much time in the car.  With three girls involved in high school, middle school and elementary sports, school activities, and church events, the car became our world.  Without exception when I buckled Clay into his seat and before I could even buckle into mine, his request was always the same... "Tell me a story, Mommy!"  Many of you would chuckle and say, "Wow Susan, that is your favorite thing to do", and you would be absolutely correct.

Clay loved family stories, but his favorite were Bible stories, mostly Old Testament stories.  So many of those stories offered intrigue, mystery, and such adventure.  Think about it.. the flood, all the plagues and the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and that mean 'ole pharaoh, the crashing walls of Jericho, the fiery furnace, the lions' den, David and Goliath, Samson and his strength...  The list goes on and on.  If I left out a detail he had previously heard, he corrected me.  For an extremely active little boy, he was captivated by a good story (probably didn't hurt that he was securely strapped in)!

Our technologically savvy society is stacked with numerous devices and options of communication.  I could begin a list, but I would likely misspell and leave out many of them.  You know! 

What I believe is that people still prefer to hear from a real person sitting across the table or at least in the same room.  Revealing "something", whether the information of boy/girl with an expectant family, a recent proposal of marriage, an elaborate announcement of a new album or movie, has become the creative challenge for so many.  I have noticed, though, that the "reveal" does involve, no matter how elaborate, people... usually face to face!

Oh sweet friends, we have the best news... and the best opportunity during this time of year to share it...

When Gabriel brought these words to Zachariah (father to John, the Baptist),  “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news."  Zachariah's news was that he would have a son, John.

Then to the shepherds.. the angel said, "I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people." 

While doing some shopping yesterday, I began to just study the faces of people I saw.... you could probably agree that in your recent shopping experiences, folks aren't showing much joy.

So our simple challenge for this week, show THE JOY!!!  If we truly believe Jesus Christ is the good news, the best news, let's show the world... then let's tell them!

A baby changed... everything!

Christmas Day, 2008.... 10:00 pm - All the food had been put away, the wrapping paper and boxes discarded, family had departed, and Frank and I had just settled in to watch the movie he had given me for Christmas.

I have heard it said so often... a phone call changes everything.  And it did.  Katie, on the other end, nearly 9 months pregnant with our first "grandboy", was scheduled for a C-section 5 days later.  "Mom, I think its time - we are headed to the hospital."  In a second all of our family sprung into action.  My job - the camera, and knowing that Chris and Katie had just been in movie, she would surely need a pillow.  Graciously they had asked that I be in the delivery room, so I was on the move.  We lived about 40 minutes from the hospital, so I was not waiting for anyone.  I jumped in my car and headed to the hospital.  Mollie and Kellie were right behind me in the second car.  Hmm... Frank and Clay certainly weren't going to miss this huge event, so they followed... yes, in the 3rd car.  Clay was 10 and concerned that Frank was nervous and needed comfort, so he proceeded to read the entire 2nd chapter of Luke on their trek while bringing up the rear of our parade.  What a sight we must have been!

At 11:35 pm as I watched the doctor slowly, meticulously scrub each finger on each hand, I quietly asked, if she thought this baby might be born before midnight.  She glanced up at the wall clock... and without even a thought, replied, "Absolutely!"

Caden Frank Gaither made his appearance at 11:46 pm December 25th - watching him come into the world was unexplainably overwhelming! 

We all headed back home somewhere around 2:30 am.  I sat in the den, quietly and contemplatively..  You can't attend a birth on Christmas Day especially that of your first grandson, and not have a time of emotional explosion!  How is it possible that my baby just delivered a baby? 

So I began to reminisce about that evening, about the day, about the year before, then the decade before... and then the day Katie was born... only 22 years ago.... just the other day!

Then I thought about Mary; it WAS Christmas night, after all.  Who was she, really?  A young Jewish girl... visited by an angel.  His first words to her were of greeting, a proclamation that she was favored by God.  She wondered about the visit, so the angel reminded her NOT to be afraid.  Then he told her she would have a son... NOW I would be afraid! 

Luke continues the story with Mary's visit to Elizabeth, and the glorious song Mary offered to the Lord in praise.  But my very favorite thoughts and record of Mary come a little later.  Jesus was born, the shepherds saw the star and visited Bethlehem, the Heavenly Host of angels sang...

Then... tucked into chapter 2, quietly, gently..."But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."  The Amplified Bible adds that she "was keeping within herself all these things ... weighing and pondering them in her heart."

Oh sweet friends, please join me in challenging all of us to read, reread, and ponder these miraculous events surrounding our Savior.  Spend some time thinking, journaling, praying, listening, pondering what HIS birth truly means in your life.   Our hearts should be so unexplainably overwhelmed that we simply must share this good news of great joy - Share it with someone in whatever way HE leads...

We announced to many even in the middle of the night that our Caden had been born - that sweet baby changed our lives...

Christ is born!  That baby changes EVERYTHING...


Now depending on which word in the title you emphasize, you will greatly affect the meaning, intent and response to the directive.

I realize I misspelled everybody, but I typed it as I heard it in my living room just the other day from our 3-year-old grandson, Charlie.

That's our Charlie, and that look describes his personality - he's just HAPPY to be here!  Pop Pop (Frank) suggested that since the whole family was present, we should all watch a movie... To which Charlie responded by leaping toward the couch and inviting all to join him.  Can you hear him?? "EHVA-body get on the couch!" and in Charlie-fashion, he giggled with glee!!  I love that boy!

He really had no idea what movie we might watch, and I can assure you, he didn't care at all what it was.  The goal was everybody on the couch... together...

Nostalgia crept up on me... as I took a journey back in time to a particular Friday night.  I could have picked any of them, because for several years, Friday night was Family Movie Night at our house complete with popcorn and cokes, a movie, and everybody on the couch.  We didn't own a sectional couch then, so all 6 of us on the couch was a bit tight, but we made it work - at least 2 blankets and we were off to the movie!

Often on those glorious Friday family nights, I would find myself a little distracted by the dust on the coffee table, the popcorn kernels that inevitably ended up on the floor, and the bickering that ensued because the popcorn bowl didn't get passed down at the first request. 

It didn't seem to ever turn out just like I wanted or planned; I wanted everybody on the couch, but I wish I could have ignored the dust, not been bothered by the kernels, and gently smoothed the ruffled feathers of my children's frustration. 

  Over the years I read numerous books, articles, and devotionals about how to create memories for our family.  Most of them included extensive planning, specific activities and even some scripted dialogue.  We never seemed to have all the ingredients, the right tools, or the best attitudes to create these glorious memories.  I ended up feeling extremely ineffective and terribly defeated which equaled FAILURE! 

What I have recently realized is the memories are SWEET - not just for Frank and me, but also for our children.  They do remember the bickering (not the dust or the popcorn kernels), but they laugh at the thought of all 6 of us squished on the couch... no wonder they bickered, they couldn't  breathe!

I have decided that Family Friday movie night has some biblical basis....

From Ecclesiastes 3:1,
"There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens."

A time for everything means WE have to allow the time for the activity.... and sometimes the activity isn't planned to perfection, it is to be still and...


Locked in...

The sirens blared, 2, yes, 2 huge fire trucks... too many firemen in full garb for me to even count.  They were really here for me..  Frank calls them "Lucy moments"... you know Lucille Ball, she used to get herself into all kinds of trouble, most often the trouble was fairly innocent.  Mine, too.

My two older girls were in elementary school; someone had a project or something equally as important that needed some mom help to carry it all in.  Mollie was a baby, 9 or 10 months old, always on my hip.  We deposited the two girls and the project and headed back to the car.  We must have been on our way somewhere else, because I clearly remember that I was dressed up a bit, actually had on a skirt... which just adds to the Lucy part of the story.

I quickly clicked Mollie into her car seat (because we were always late to whatever we needed to hurry along to) and as I often did, tossed her the keys.  Our routine would be that I would walk around to the driver's seat, and she would toss the keys toward me to get going.

I was almost to my door, couldn't have been more than a step away, when I heard it... You know, don't you - the click of the doors locking.  How could a 9 month old baby girl press just the right button at just the right time, and more importantly, how was I going to expect that she would press the other button in order to unlock the doors.  L.U.C.Y - so I shouted for Ricky Ricardo, he didn't come.

It was fall, so I was thankful not to have to worry right away about Mollie smothering in the heat, but still my dilemma continued.  There was another young mom who obviously had to help bring in a project for another child who noticed my harried look.  She graciously agreed to "watch" the van while I went in to the office to call Ricky.. I mean Frank.  (Yes, my young friends, this was before cell phones!)   He was out on a job with no way to get in touch with him.

So our thoughtful principal suggested we call 911 - isn't there another option.... how about pop-a-lock...we could wait a few hours...  He reminded that my baby was stuck in the car.  Okay, so we did.  Surely they would just send out one nice police officer who could just pop that door right open, maybe even a bit covertly, no big deal.  Not exactly... that's where the fire trucks came in.

It just got worse.  They didn't come equipped with that thingy that you slide in the window to pop the lock.  Their only answer was to take off one of the back windows, and then have "someone" crawl through the window to grab the keys.  They were firemen, weren't they?  They were trained to crawl in windows.. but NOOOOOO.  The "in charge" fireman gave the order to me... you should climb in because we don't want to scare the baby.  I think I heard some chuckles behind me from the other firemen. 

With as much Lucy grace as I could muster, I hoisted myself through the back window, remember wearing a skirt, and saved the day... and Mollie.  By this time she was understandably upset, so I quickly unbuckled her and comforted her offering as much calmness and peace as I could.

After Jesus' death the disciples were, I assume, in a state of shock and uncertainty.  Like many of us would do, they gathered together in the same room where they had last dined and talked with Jesus.  Comfort in numbers!  Out of fear, out of anxiety, out of uncertainly, maybe even out of habit, they locked the door.  Without much ado and though the door was locked, Jesus simply appeared in the room.

As I use my spiritual imagination to determine the emotional thoughts and the climate of [those in] the room; I see sadness; I see guilt; I see anger; I hear distraught; I hear devastated; I feel heaviness of heart; I feel oppression; I feel pain.  My thinking could go on and on....  What do you see, hear, and feel?

But then... in the midst of it... there is JESUS, gently, kindly uttering, "Peace.... be with you."

Let's be painfully honest, dear friends, if we gathered a bunch of "us" in a room, what would we see, hear and feel?  The list above would likely describe the majority.  I could list the reasons here for the pain, the guilt, the oppression, but the reasons aren't the point, are they?

The point is...In the midst of it... there is JESUS.  He is offering to each of us, every single day, HIS peace... HIs words:

"Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] John 14:27 Amplified Bible (AMP)

In the midst of it.... there is JESUS..

.I can tell you when Mollie saw me and felt my presence, she experienced peace... certainly she didn't fully understand it, but she knew she was safe and with that came relief.  Imagine how I felt when I reached her... 

JESUS just wants you to invite HIM to wherever you are locked in...

What Happened???

 Raising 4 kids, Frank and I have asked that question more times than I can count... On one particular occasion the scene was a bit different - it was late on a breezy fall evening as we  rounded the corner toward our house.  Every light was on, every door was open, it was clear something was wrong.  You see we had left the house just before dinnertime as the electricity had gone off - there was a strong, quick storm that had blown over shutting down our power.  Our thoughtful neighbor, knowing we had dinner plans and knowing our kids' fear of storms, invited all four of our children to their house for a "camp-out" while we attended our dinner.

As we neared our house we could see that smoke seemed to be billowing out every opening.  What happened???  Another neighbor coming home from work had noticed the smoke, and with the right tools was able to "break into" our house to assess the situation.  The smoke originated on my stove with a now empty pan atop a burner set to "high".  Thankfully flames had not yet ensued, but sparks were flying. 

Retracing my steps of the evening, I remembered my plan.  I had put a pan on the stove filled with water to offer the kids their favorite standby dinner - macaroni and cheese.  In the craziness of the power outage and getting the kids settled next door, it never occurred to me that I had left a pan on the stove nor that I had left the burner on high.  The odor lingered with us for several days, but the thought of what might have happened plagued me for months.  Even now I shudder as I remember my own thinking of how I could have been so thoughtless.

One moment... one decision... numerous possible consequences.  Dear sweet friends, do you ever just feel overwhelmed at the thought.  In our own lives, in the lives of our children, in the lives of our friends, Frank has often uttered this wisdom, "all of us, Susan, are just one bad decision away from destruction..."    Now that's great dinner topic conversation, huh?  In all honesty can you relate?  Can you only imagine if that thought was the end... where it all stopped?  Would you be living in destruction even now based on some decision you made, or one that someone else made that affected you?

Oh friends, I am so overwhelming thankful that it doesn't stop there - that would be hopeless. I have known the name, Jesus, all my life - that was in no part my decision, but that of my parents for which I am eternally grateful.  But let's be honest,  knowing His name or even knowing stories about Him doesn't equal His influence or even His Hope in my life.  He is absolute hope.  Often when folks are struggling, Jeremiah 29:11 is freely quoted for encouragement, "I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  I love that verse and have clung to it often, but even the fact that HE promised those plans doesn't fix everything, does it? 

The following verse gives me the "plan", "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."  Sorry, friends, in all the versions I read, the answer was not, "...and I will fix everything."  He promises to listen; He promises to intervene when HE determines to, He promises to offer wisdom; He promise to give peace - one that we can't even understand; and most importantly, HE offers salvation -freedom and forgiveness.

Let's me be clear, when Jesus returns, absolutely completely, everything will be fixed... to His perfection.  For now will you trust HIM with everything.... every sadness, every hurt, every decision, every mess, every person, every thought, every pain...  He is trustworthy and He is listening...

One moment.. one decision... one Savior promises to listen -just call His name.


             Hard to believe that the Eagles sang this ever popular song back in 1973.  “Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses, you’ve been out riding fences for so long now...  You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late.”  Many a lovesick young man (or woman) hit the rewind/play button over and over to console a broken heart with these “desperate” words.

            Rereading the lyrics of this song led me to believe the young renegade must be receiving advice from someone who had walked this path before and sounds to me like, with experience, didn’t want this young friend to miss love… almost pleading with him in desperation.

            Fast forward to 2002, Michael W. Smith released a song called, “Breathe”, including the powerful lyrics, “I’m desperate for YOU, I’m lost without YOU,” adding, “YOU are the air I breathe…”.  Of course, Michael W. Smith is deeply yearning for and seeking God.

            What causes us to be desperate – defined as “leaving little or no hope; having an urgent need or desire.”  Would you consider yourself desperate if your young son had been plagued for his entire life with fitful seizures that had taken control of his life?  Throwing himself into a fire or plunging himself into a river threatened often to take your boy’s life.  Begging for help you traveled to doctor after doctor, clinic after clinic, trying any and every prescribed medication.  You would pray, wouldn’t you… with conviction, with faith, with desperation.  What if your son’s challenges continued?  Would you quit?  Would you give up?  Would you cease praying?  Of course not… you are fighting for his life!

            The story from Mark 9 is somewhat familiar.  Jesus, Peter, James and John are returning to the city just after the “mountaintop” experience where they met Elijah and Moses.  Jesus had been transfigured before the disciples’ eyes as they heard the voice of God saying, “This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to Him!”  So they are met by the crowd quickly realizing there is quite a commotion going on.  A man brought his boy who was “possessed by a spirit… that seizes him and throws him to the ground.”  To the man’s dismay, Jesus’ disciples could not “drive out the spirit.”      

            So Jesus asked for the child.  Here stands the father before the Son of the Creator of the Universe, and he says, “IF you can do anything, help us.”  Oh, precious friends, don’t you think you would choose any word to address our Savior in the place of IF?  Jesus seems to be taken back a bit as he responds by sending the man’s own words back to him, “IF you can… Everything is possible for him who believes.”

                        In Richard Blackaby’s book, Unlimiting God, he proposes that certainly this father had some faith, but it wasn’t at the level to experience the miracle in his son’s life.  There was a limit to what he believed God could or would do.  Is it possible that we limit what God can do in our own lives and those around us?  Hear me clearly I truly believe the God of this vast universe has absolute power to do as HE pleases, but scripture is clear that God does give to us in accordance with our faith.  The father responded, “I believe; Help my unbelief.”  Then Jesus healed the boy.  Don’t give up!  Keep praying – pray specifically.  Blackaby says he regularly prays in this way,

“Lord, I do have a lot of faith in You now, but would YOU raise my faith in You to a higher level, so those I pray for and minister to can experience Your power in an even greater degree?”

            He is your gracious Father, you know. 


Love Letters

           Twenty nine years of marriage Frank and I will celebrate in just a few weeks.  Yes, for those of you who are wondering, I was most certainly a child bride.  J  Frank has never ceased to surprise me with his creative style of communicating his love and thankfulness for me.  Before we were even married, I fully appreciated his uniqueness as I received a letter in the mail from him that had been written on a plane traveling to a job interview… on the paper vomit bag – he was/is such a hopeless romantic!  He has written notes to me on napkins, on sandpaper, on my bathroom mirror, on my car windshield, on my pillow, in the snow…  I have not [yet] seen “writing in the sky” from Frank, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised. 

From my picture you can see my most recent “love” letter.  Frank nonchalantly opened the back door and gave a wonderful performance… He started by calling our teenage son, “Clay, come quick I think it must be some kind of crop circle!!”  Clay ran to the rescue, quickly realized the stunt, and called to me, “Oh mom!  You’ve got to see this…” in a bit of that teenage sarcasm.  Funny, when I saw the “writing in the grass”, I wasn’t terribly surprised or perplexed by it.  Simply because I know how Frank communicates with me – even though a bit unorthodox or unconventional, I acknowledged his sweet thoughtfulness with a smile and a wink.

Interestingly this week I have been reading again a great study by Priscilla Shirer entitled, Discerning the voice of God.  She reminds us how the prophet Habakkuk had complained to the Lord in chapter one a couple of times as he became impatient for answers.  Realizing his absolute need for God, he offered these words, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see WHAT He will say to me.”  Notice Habakkuk didn’t say IF He says something or just in case He says something; He knew He wanted to be ready… expectantly ready… for God’s direction, God’s answer, and God’s wisdom. 

I have known Frank long enough to expect his “letters” to me, and honestly, I look forward and expectantly to the next one, because I do KNOW him well.  Do I wait just as expectantly for my Heavenly Father to hear me when I call (Psalm 17:6), to respond to my weariness (Matthew 11:38) ,  and to answer me and tell me great and mighty things (Jeremiah 33:3).  He has promised, you know.   Like many of you I long for that burning bush moment, those tongues of fire, and that mighty voice of God – but just as clearly, I desire to hear the whisper of my Father, as HE gently speaks to me to “be still, daughter, and know that I AM God.”  I can’t wait, can you?

God Moment

Coincidence... Divine intervention... God moment??

Whatever you choose to call them, they happen frequently... especially when we are keenly aware of them.  Sometimes we are offering that moment to someone else in something we say or do, and just as often we are being offered the glimpse that God is speaking through another person, a circumstance, or His word clearly to our heart.
A few weeks ago I was meeting a friend for breakfast at a popular local restaurant.  For once I was right on time.  Not finding her waiting, I asked to be seated and ordered a cup of coffee.  Looking to my right I noticed a group of ladies seated at a large table... I knew most of them from school - they were finishing up a training session. "Well", I thought, "my friend and I will need to adjust our conversation a bit, as I was in the middle of making a decision about a new career path that I felt God calling me to explore that certainly wasn't public knowledge now."  As I continued to wait several of the friends approached me with hello's, how are you's, and summer hugs! 
Only one in the group knew of my struggle with this possible change coming.  She whispered a question asking if I had made a decision, and I quietly responded that I was close but still praying for peace in the midst  of this new opportunity. My heart was sore and tender in realizing that saying yes to one good thing meant saying no to other good things - just like my Kellie in saying yes to her new fiance's proposal of marriage.
My sweet friend hugged me and whispered again... "Zechariah 2:5", then she slipped away.  Not sure about most of you, but Zechariah is not my "go to" book of the Bible for peace and comfort - it is at the end of the Old Testament right before Malachi!  Still waiting for my breakfast buddy and thankful for technology, I popped open the Bible app on my phone.., "And I myself will be a wall of fire around it", declares the Lord," and I will be its glory within."  Now Zachariah was prophesying about the city of Jerusalem, but those last six words welled up in my soul.  I was very concerned about what other people around me would think about my decision and that many would be disappointed in my choice, but in that moment, my sweet Lord reminded me that HE would be the GLORY inside me.  Just like Jesus said as He spoke at the end to His disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you; not as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  My definite God moment.  Thank you Father.
My coffee cup was empty... my late friend must have forgotten our time.  I dialed her cell phone, and when she picked up at the first ring, I asked, "so where are you?"  She quickly responded that she was finishing her first cup of coffee looking for me from the booth she was seated in at the front of the restaurant.  I walked to the front expecting to see her and assuming we would giggle outloud... she wasn't there.  "I don't see you", I chuckled, "where are you?"  We quickly realized that we were certainly IN the same restaurant, but we were seated in different location - she was eight miles away... She patiently waited as I drove to her location, and then shared my God moment with her.
He gently reminded my again, "I will be {your} glory within".  So where was your God moment this week?

She Said Yes

Did she say yes?  She sure did…  Our second daughter said yes to the proposal of marriage from a delightful young man yesterday.  She said yes to his question, which means she said yes to many things.  She said yes to loving him with a selfless love.  She said yes to putting someone else’s best interest ahead of her own.  She said yes to walking through life by his side. She said yes to a lifetime of coming memories that only they will share.  She said yes to conversations that will only theirs.  She said yes to a forever commitment to her future husband. Yes, yes, yes!

 So in saying yes, what has she said “no” to?  She is saying no to dating any other young man.  She is saying no to her own selfish thinking.  Now because of the wonderful tender love they share, she will say no to making decisions based only on her own thinking.  She said no to a single life.

 As I often do with these “freeze frame” moments, I couldn’t help but ponder the saying yes/saying no thought.  Our Heavenly Father often asks us to say yes to His plan, His timing and His way.  We all want to follow his lead, surely?  Noah… Moses… Ruth… David… Esther… Jonah… Daniel… Mary…  When you think of their stories, it is clear that in saying yes to God’s plan for their lives, they were saying no to some seemingly good things.  Moses had a great life with his wife and children tending the sheep for his father-in-law.  Yes meant going back to Egypt – just imagine what he knew he was going to encounter, and he didn’t know the half of it.  Ruth left her family to follow her “bitter” mother-in-law back to a foreign land likely to meet people who wouldn’t like her at all.  And on their stories go.  Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.  May everything you have said come true.”  She said yes.

Esther was encouraged by Mordecia (with his now famous words) by reminding her that maybe, just maybe, God was calling her to this specific task for “such a time as this”.  So what is God calling you to say yes to right now.  HE has promised that His plans for us are good, even if the plan means saying no to something that seems right and even reasonable to us.  Keep in mind, we see the finite – through a dim glass.  HE sees everything in the light of eternity.  He loves us so very much, and we simply must remember a “yes” to His plan may mean numerous “no’s” to what we thought.  I always want to choose HIS yes for my life…

Luke 2:19 “but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.”

Lord, give me ears to hear and eyes to clearly see Your plan, then cover me with your strength and peace as I take the first step.  All the while, teach me to quietly treasure these things in my heart.  Amen
Today is a beautiful day – a beautiful, perfect day for a beginning.  Come walk with me, laugh with me, cry with me, run with me… some days, crawl with me.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea; let’s meet here when we can grab a minute to chat about our life, our joys, our challenges, our faith, our awesome God.  For me, it is a journey – a day by day, step by step, even moment by moment path.

For today, I have learned that I need my Heavenly Father’s love and guidance, my family’s support and encouragement, and friends – good friends, like you, to walk with – to learn with – to drink coffee with.  Coffee’s hot, pull up a chair and here we go.  So, how are you?

 Reading recently in the beginning of the Bible, Genesis that is, I am reminded of how many people and how many of their stories we can peek into.  Can you imagine a cup of coffee with Eve?  She might begin by telling us about the breathtaking piece of land she and Adam were living in the midst of.  Or Sarah, Abraham’s wife, can’t you hear her, “Girls, you are not going to believe the news I have – a baby, yes, we are having a baby!  And yes, I am too old, and yes, I laughed out loud, and I’m still laughing between the tears!  How about Noah’s wife – her first words might be, you will not believe the project my husband is working on today – a boat, what’s a boat, he is building a boat… I think he might be losing it!

Then we’d turn our conversation to the question, “Oh friend, how are you making it through this?”  These friends and so many others would simple drop their heads and gently utter, “By faith, sister, by faith.”  And so will we!