Unexpected Visitors

Here’s an old post I thought I’d re-publish since I don’t have a new one this week for you.  Thanks for reading and for your patience as I struggle to get clear and encouraging thoughts for you!  Your prayers are much appreciated!  For now…here you go!  Enjoy!

025This time of year creates a love-hate relationship with me and my surroundings.  I am definitely most happy when I am outside in the warm sunshine of summer with blues skies.  I just love the  blooming flowers and I don’t care if they make me sneeze.  I just live with hopes of another beautiful day the same, tomorrow.  When fall starts creeping in, I like the change in temperature until it gets below my comfort level of 74 degrees and then I start to go into a panic because this weather is telling me summer is over and winter is on its way!

One good thing about fall is that at any given time, you can go to my pantry and find way too many marshmallows for anyone to ever eat, before they go bad and start tasting like the plastic bag they are packaged in.  I get so excited thinking about fall and bonfires, I want to be ready for when the whim hits us and we want to go out and sit around the fire pit and get a sugar high.  I like to think I’m always prepared for a party!

Fall also begins to give me an excuse to come home earlier in the evenings since the sun goes down faster and the days are shorter.  I love to come into the house with my 5-hour stew almost done in the oven, cook up some cornbread, put a fire in the fireplace, and snuggle in for the evening with a good book or movie.  Our home is our sanctuary and it is so nice to spend time relaxing and enjoying its surroundings.

When the kids were little, we were home one day hanging out.  It was one of those mornings where we didn’t have anywhere to go, so were a little slow getting around and I was still in my pj’s much later than what was normal.  I  don’t know how many times I told my kids when they were small, “Don’t go to the door without me or your dad.”  Well, that morning, one of them forgot the rule.  I had been back in the bedroom gathering dirty clothes up to do some laundry when I came barreling around the corner in my nightgown, only to find two men in black suits standing in my living room!  The kids were looking at me like, “I don’t know how they got in here!”

I was shocked as I stood there in my nightgown with these two strangers in my house!  I looked at them dumfounded and they said, “Ma’m, we are here to get the body.”  My mind was racing and I was trying to understand what they just told me, as it was quite an unusual request to say the least.  I still wasn’t comprehending and asked them to repeat since I was sure I had heard them wrong, totally forgetting that I am standing there in my nightgown at this point.

“We are here to get the body”, they repeated.

I began stuttering around and one of them said, “Is this the home of Mildred Peirce?”  Relieved and dismayed all at the same time, I realized they were wanting the older lady two doors down.  Mildred had apparently passed away in the night and the undertakers had the wrong house!  I directed them to the correct house and they left as quickly as they came.  They were noticeably embarrassed by their mistake and probably very uncomfortable with my appearance as much as I was, too!

That day, our cozy, comfortable, safe home was shaken up a bit by our visitors.  Even though they meant no harm, they entered into our space, unannounced and ready to take action.  Had they been knocking on doors for other reasons, the kids opening the door and allowing them to come in could’ve been a disaster.  I was thankful it was not the latter.

As I think about this season of retreat when we all begin spending more time in our homes because of the upcoming weather, I think it’s also important to consider how we can best spend our time.

Image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At all costs, we should protect the doorways of our homes and lives.  Pray for God to give you the strength and courage to keep doors closed on things that aren’t healthy or uplifting to you and your family.  Ask Him to help you open doors that encourage and nurture your walk with Him.  For when we guard and protect what we allow into our homes and lives, we can rest assured that someone’s not going to come knocking on our door looking for the dead body!  Rather, they’ll be knocking on your door asking why your home is so full of life and joy.  They’ll be wanting to know your secrets to true happiness and contentment.  My suggestion would be… start a fire, pull out the marshmallows, and take the time for a fireside chat about opening doors!   Yes, friends, it’s time for a party!

A Surprise Homecoming—A Christmas Miracle!

Wow, I did not expect a Christmas anywhere near as special as this year’s just even a week ago.  As most of you know, my oldest son has been in Afghanistan this year and was not expected to be home for Christmas.  I had accepted that fact and was trying to still enjoy the holiday with the other 6 kids and 4 grandkids that were home.  Friday night we headed to my sister’s house for our annual get together with our families.  We were enjoying good food and catching up with each other when all of a sudden things changed.

My daughter-in-law arrived and told us all to be quiet that she was getting my son on the phone.  When he got on the phone, they handed it to me.  I started talking to him, but it wasn’t sounding like the normal “drive-through” tone that conversations from Afghanistan were supposed to sound like.  The next thing I knew, he was walking through the door!  How exciting was that?!  Totally caught off guard and in shock, I was elated that my family would be together for Christmas!

We had brought Christmas gifts for my son’s wife and kids but since I had no idea he would be there, I had sent his gifts to Afghanistan for him to have in time for Christmas.  He always loves Christmas and gets excited about opening his gifts.  I felt so bad as he had nothing to open as everyone else opened up theirs all around him.  I just didn’t know, so I wasn’t prepared.

I started thinking about this and about the day when Jesus comes back.  I pretty much expect my heart to be racing just the same as it was Friday night, a little bit of shock and awe, and then I started thinking…will I be prepared?  Will I have a gift to offer Him?  What will that day really be like?

Then I quickly realized, the story will be the same.  It’s not about the physical gifts I give.  My son’s gift that night was the fact he was able to be with his family and essentially be the Christmas miracle of the year!  I suspect Jesus will feel the same way.  He is the only Miracle we need.  He doesn’t want our stuff on that day, He wants us.  We don’t have to have gifts wrapped and tucked away for that special day and time, we just need to be ready with the gift of ourselves.  By that I mean that we need to have accepted His gift of eternal life and be living every day as though it was the day of His return.  For by living our lives for Him, we are earning our jewels for our crowns that we will lay down at His feet when the time comes.  Those crowns and jewels will be our symbol of our life lived for Him–our gift so to speak.

The Bible says in Matthew 24 (NKJV),

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,but My Father only…

42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming…

44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

When that day comes, it won’t matter the type, size or grandeur of the gifts we have to offer such as those the wise men presented at His birth.  The only thing that will matter is our relationship with Him.  Have we accepted Him as our Savior, served Him, loved Him, shared Him, and cherished Him while in this life on earth?  Just as my son’s homecoming was a huge surprise, so will that of my Savior’s be as well.  I think I had a little taste of the joy that may be present on that day this weekend.  I suspect though that nothing can compare.

Are you ready for that day?  Have you given Him your life?  Are you working on a relationship with Him that will far surpass any physical gift you can conjure up to give?  In reality, the only gift He wants is you.  I am not a musician and I certainly cannot sing.  However, I like this song that I found to remind us the day when we will lay our crowns at His feet…our gift of our lives lived for Him…our offering to our Savior.  Enjoy and I’ll see you next year!

http://youtu.be/6DZSjWW57mQ

Stand Out, Be Different, Take the Challenge!

It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone already.  By the next time I write a blog, we will be done with our Christmas celebrations and moving onto the new year—2012.  I remember the day when the 2000’s sounded so space age and here we are, twelve years into it already!  I apologize that my writing is late today but I had some early morning errands that needed to happen and by the time I had chased all of my squirrels along the way (as those of us with A.D.D. might say), here it is 4:00 and I’m just getting started!  Have you ever had a day like that?  You start out with good intentions and distractions along the way pull you in various directions until you find yourself on the couch, out of energy and no more time to do what you originally set out to do?

Sometimes I look at the years gone by, not just days, and think, “Wow, where did time go?  What do I have to show for my life at this point?”  I think this year I was a little more motivated than others because I had certain things I wanted checked off my bucket list before I hit the big 5-0.  Some years I have looked back and thought, “I didn’t get a thing done that I had on my goal list.  As a matter of fact, what did I do?”

This year I have had a lot of time for reflection because of some health issues I’ve been having so I am looking at things a bit differently.  I am praising God that I was able to accomplish my first book, which hit online today as a matter of fact!  I am also praising Him that I have been able to do anything that I did as the beginning of the year was looking pretty bleak for accomplishing anything on the list.  A lot of the things I had on my original goal list for 2011 didn’t happen though.  Either because I re-prioritized and realized it just wasn’t as important as I thought or circumstances just simply prevented it from happening for reasons unbeknownst to me.

Although we spend a lot of time in our lives that is just simply wasted, I think the Christmas season helps us to get our priorities back in line.  I like the fact that it happens at the end of the year so that we can take time to reflect on the things that matter and hopefully align our priorities for the following year accordingly.   You see, the Christmas season brings our thoughts back to our Savior, Jesus Christ, as it is His birthday we celebrate.   It also helps us focus on our loved ones and seems to be a time where more grace is extended to those we may not always see eye to eye with at other times of the year. It’s kind of a magical time…and I’m not talking about Santa Claus!

When I recall my thoughts last December, I am sure that my list for 2011 had things on it like lose weight, be a million dollar real estate sales person, and get moved into my new home before the new year.  Well, none of those things happened—not one.  However, I’m OK with that.  I don’t think God really put me here on this earth to be skinny, rich and have an easy life.  Rather, I think He had much bigger plans for me.  He knew that in order for me to stay on the path and do what I need to do in this life, He would have to give me a challenge.  If life came easy for me, I would let it and probably wouldn’t try any harder.  But it doesn’t, so I am a driven woman.

I am not driven so much for the things that don’t matter anymore as I have only so much energy to expend right now.  God showed me though that His purpose for me in this life was not to accomplish skinniness, wealth, or other great accomplishments of unimportance.  Rather, He has asked me to speak for Him and tell others about His love for them.  He has stripped me of the energy for the frivolous and only given me the strength for what matters.   He has shown me what’s important in life and it’s not my weekly appointment at Jenny Craig!

My goals for 2012 are going to be a little different than most years in the past.  I am going to actually spend time in prayer this year and ask God what it is He wants me to accomplish in the year ahead.  Then I’m going to make my list of things to do.  However, I’m challenging myself to instead of having various columns on my list, I’m only having one—my spiritual goals.  For the Bible specifically says in Matthew 6:33 (NKJV), But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  I’m really here for one reason—to do what God needs me to do.  For when I am God focused, all of the other things in the world minimize.  It only took me 50 years to figure out that this world really isn’t about me.  It’s about God and what I can do for Him during my time here on earth.

Time flies and none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  If we’re not careful, we will be in December again in a flash and stand wondering what just hit us!  Will you take the challenge with me for 2012 to not waste another minute on things that are fleeting and of this world?  What is it that God is calling you to do for Him?  Perhaps you’ve got it all together and are right on target for His plan.  However, if not, take the time to pray and ask Him to guide your thoughts to God-centered goals for 2012.  Just think of how different life might be if we were living for Him and using our time to further His goals for us instead of our own.  This life is fleeting…what we do for God is eternal.

Psalm 39

Merry Christmas!

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