The Day I Cleaned the Front of My Frig and Found Peace in my Heart (an Advent Post)

The cornerstone of this Advent season, which began Sunday the 27th of November, is the idea of making room for God to come.  It is a time of waiting, as Mary did, with the impossible promise that a Saviour would be born, the miracle of light coming to a dark world.

“The arrival of Advent marks the beginning of the church year. In the Western church, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas…The word itself is from the Latin word ‘veni’–adventus–coming.

“Because Advent is a season of preparation and penitence, fasting has historically been part of Advent observance, a way to clear away the detritus of the year and create space in our lives for Christ to come.”  (The Circle of Seasons–Meeting God in the Church Year, Kimberlee Conway Ireton, IVP Books, 2008.)

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We ordered new kitchen appliances last week. Everything started when the microwave died (sacre bleu! one can’t live without a microwave to heat up coffee. Or baby bottles). This led to a conversation about the refrigerator which had been humming its way loudly to a definite motor-y end. We dug out the paperwork and discovered the frig was 17 years old.

20161128_102313  Here’s a photo of our kitchen on Thanksgiving 2000, one year after we got it, all brand spanking new. That’s my daughter Leah the chef basting the turkey. (And no, I will not talk about the psychedelic flooring.)

After a thorough appliance reconnoiter, husband and I decided to join the Black Friday crowds and headed to Home Depot. Four hours later we had ordered for the first time ever a matching frig, dishwasher, microwave and range.  In stainless steel. We are so de rigueur. Continue reading

My Favorite Things {Vol. One}

   

this baby polar bear has nothing to do with this post~
it’s just cute

      A sporadic gathering of those posts you may have missed because they’re buried in The Middle Pages.* You know what I mean, eight pages into the ‘A’ Section of the paper you find a story you think belongs on the Front Page.
     Perhaps you’ll want to move these out of the Middle Pages and on to your Front Page. Take your time; I’ll be back in a week or so with more lovely gleanings from the virtual pages of the interwebs. I think these will encourage & bless you.

1.  The Heart of Christmas

Laura Boggs blogs at Huckleberry Friend (think Audrey Hepburn). She writes deeply and beautifully in this piece ‘Sister Christmas’ of why we need to celebrate All the Things about Christmas–including Santa Claus and tinsel.

2.  And then there’s Santa Claus

Tania Runyan and her husband don’t ‘do’ Santa Claus, but not because He’s so anti-the Spirit of Christmas. Actually, it’s precisely the other way around. ‘How to Win the War on Christmas’ is here.

3. There are 59 million refugees–What can I do?
David Rupert has been reporting firsthand on the Syrian refugee crisis–and the Christians who have become invisible in the process. For $16 did you know you CAN make a difference in this monumental fight? I ordered a handmade cross –you can, too here.

raindrops on rubies
 3.  My friend Alyssa tagged a post her Facebook page from the Humans of New York (you’ve seen their work? stunning!). This particular piece by Julia Warr features Maia Helles a 95 year old who still lives alone, waters her garden, takes long walks and exercises daily. This video is beauty and inspiration all in one.


4.  Generous Giving

Tony Kriz is a dear Portland friend with whom I worked on the Faith and Culture Conference this year; he is also a superb author, teacher & storyteller. Tony is passionate about the marginalized & underprivileged and turned that passion into helping to write this video about giving. It  features Bono at the National Prayer Breakfast. Have a listen.

and whiskers on kittens

5. When your Advent is a Different Color
The practice of Advent doesn’t fit everyone–I’ve made my own adjustments to marking the time. My precious sister of color, Velynn Brown, writes ‘Coloring in Christmas’ over at The Mudroom.

6. My Daughter and Son-in-Law’s Favorite Old Movie (maybe yours)
Don’t worry, this is not the movie–but a recording of Dylan Thomas reading “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” Lovely and superb listening (be aware-Sir Dylan has a very thick accent). (HT, Msr. Glynn Young who writes at Faith & Fiction).

7.  If it’s Christmas time, Why am I so Sad?
Lanier Ivester–on grief and joy and loss during Christmas. ‘Seeds of Love’ is here.

bright copper lanterns
(thank you, Sandra King)
MERRY CHRISTMAS, FRIENDS!
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Linking with Kelli  for #Small Wonder
*what I found buried in The Middle Pages? A new, updated report about the mistaken air missile strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital, mentioning new numbers of those that were killed. Sad….

Can I Get a Do Over?

     I was lamenting recently with some friends in our Glory Writer’s Facebook group about my good intentions not exactly panning out for observing Advent….I SO wanted to light the candles each Sunday and do the readings. I even have a daily devotional “2016 A Book of Grace-Filled Days” with selections to read. Little selections–just a nugget for the day to contemplate. But each entry had four Scripture references. No way I had time to read all those passages in The Word. Every day. 

     I think what finally did me in was the pink and then purple candles.  The colors just didn’t seem right for Christmas. I just couldn’t put them in my Advent candle-holding table wreath.

But I wanted to.

     It’s my want-to that gets the better of me sometimes. On the DISC Personality assessment, I’m a High “I”–Impulsive and Impressionable–I want to please people and I think a lot of ideas are Great Ideas and I Should Do This.


Silly me.


     My dear writer friends Amy Young and Tresta Payne (of said Glory Writers group) also wrote of the tension–the balance of wanting to remember without getting buried in the ‘shoulds.’ And over at The Mudroom-you’ve read at that place, yes?–Velynn Brown shares her thoughts–can she still be a good Christian without all the reciting? (Links to their posts are below).


All of this brought a comforting smile–I’m not the only one.


Instead, I’m going back to the word God gave me for the year–‘Surrender’ and camping there. I have to ‘camp’ there–no matter where I am, it keeps coming up.

In the worship songs we sing at church, in our Small Group Bible Study, and in my own reading.

Andrew Murray, Abiding in Christ, has this to say:

“Whatever the present moment may hold, however unprepared the message finds you, however sad the divided and hopeless state of your life may be, do come and surrender–this very moment. I know it will take time for the Lord to assert His power and arrange all within you according to His will, time to conquer your enemies and train all your powers for His service. 
This not the work of a moment.”

The words “unprepared” and “divided” really resonated with me–and a little sadness, too. The sadness is because I’m not always feeling the love and joy and peace I should. And when I don’t ‘feel’ something, I think it’s not there.  That’s the problem with the other “I” that I am–intuitive–much of what I focus on comes via my sense about some things, and I’m not sensing the joy. Or peace. Or love.
Doesn’t matter, it’s still there–’cause God is bigger than all that. That’s why you walk by Faith. End of Story.

Also? I have 5 grandchildren arriving next week (their parents are coming, too) and they’ll be here for one week. (and I couldn’t be more thrilled ’cause I love them to the moon and back).


But still…. They’ll be headquartered downstairs in our finished apartment during their stay, but of course there will be all kinds of traipsing and traversing upstairs, downstairs in and out.


Getting my house ready for Christmas–my stove sized-boxes are stacked in the living room waiting to be unpacked–plus getting their space prepared….oh, and the grocery shopping and well, the planning. And vacuuming the pine needles off the trampoline. 

‘Cause people gotta jump–rain or shine.

It’s all been a bit much.  


     Do you know how many moving parts there are when you add seven people to seven days and two cities and throw in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the ‘Event Day’ which of course is going to see some movie everyone wants to go see (the one with the word ‘Star’ in it)?  Well, we had to make a chart to organize it all.


Well, I had to make a chart. For my sanity.


I think I’ll adopt the word ‘Surrender’ for next year, too. But for now it is a moment by moment life, as Murray reminds me.

A daily, “Yes, Lord, Abide with me now.  I’m not waiting for you to come–you’re already here. And I need you.”

I think I’ll get a do over in 2016….It takes a long time to surrender.

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You can read Tresta’s post “Failing at Advent” here
Amy’s  “Out of the Mouth of a UPS Worker” is here
and Velynn’s “Coloring in Christmas With my Favorite Things” is here.
The 2016 Book of Grace-Filled days is by Jessica Mesman Griffith. You can find it here.
2016: A Book of Grace-Filled Days

A Very Married Christmas

We’re standing in the kitchen.  I move fluidly from dishwasher to counter, bending, stacking–bowls, dishes, cups, goblets.

Husband is at the cupboard behind me.  I rotate, wordless, and hand him his favorite glass-he replaces it to the shelf and continues swallowing his vitamins.

I interrupt his healthy intake once again, this time with the rainbow-colored stack of Ikea cups.  Without a word, he fits them on the shelf next to our stash of kid-safe plastics.

I love this morning routine–coffee pot steaming and gurgling, the bird clock chiming it’s 8 am hour–the robin, I think–and the garbage truck outside our window beep-beep-beeping.

It all feels so safe–full of comfort and joy.  The silent, sure sounds of an easy morning, a gift to me.

How restful to be here, next to my humming husband, confident of his presence, his help, his silly whistling to the birds, the all-of-it that makes this early quiet time feel like we been doing this for a thousand years.

God reminds me of a soul prayer I had at the beginning of Advent , not a spoken request, a written non-lament (in the book I never finished).  It was a prayer of wondering, “I don’t know what I want, but this is what I think I need”–and I realize the answer is standing right here next to me.

The quiet feeling like a well worn pair of old warm slippers, pouring my juice while I make the coffee, humming ‘Frosty the Snowman’ while I unload the dishes…It’s a quiet symphony of comfort and joy, a gift to my soul from my Saviour–a married Christmas.
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This is a re-post from two years ago. I was reminded again of how blessed I am with my husband.

Ad Vent

The glossy pages
proclaim paltry purchases
as life savers
for my overrun soul.
They bellow, beckoning,
“buy me! buy me!”

I cannot partake
of one more iota of input–
how can quiet paper
carry so much loud weight
and end up selling me nothing 
that will fill my weary,
worn and wanting soul?

A war of words promises joy and happiness
are but a wallet-full away;
I’d have a temporary ticket
to here-on-earth happiness 
but I’d be penniless and
empty still.
There are bare bodies
bearing needless gifts,
overbearing bling shimmers an

iridescent faux shine. 

There is no real light
but that in the Stable
under the Star–
far, far from here–
heralding his coming
harking me home to hear,
“Stay here–away,
waiting, listening, watching
for my coming in the
daily, dull, down-to-earth.
Look no further,
leave the getting,
I’m the only Gift you’ll ever need.”

c. Jody L. Collins, 2015
from the archives
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Did you know that December 1st is Giving Tuesday’? a day set aside to push back the consumerism and give rather than receive in the true spirit of Christmas,
Here are some of the organizations that would gladly receive your Christmas gift, one that brings life and light and love to all:
  • First Aid Arts Benefitting women rescued from sex slave trafficking, Seattle area
  • The Lulu Tree Non profit serving women in Africa
  • ViBella Jewelry Supporting women coming out of poverty in Haiti
  • MarySong Beauty more than skin-deep, supporting women in recovery in New Orleans, LA