The Present of Presence

 

Our holiday season got off to a rough start,
starting with Thanksgiving.

I planned to serve Thanksgiving dinner at 12:30. 
At noon, the turkey wasn’t close to cooked.

I’d calculated the cooking time,
the resting time,
the carving time,
so that everything would be hot and ready at the same time.

Tick.
Tick.
Tick.

An hour went by and still that bird was not done!

Mashed potatoes and stuffing,
sweet potatoes and green been casserole
waited impatiently in warming ovens until 3:30
when that bird finally surrendered enough
breast meat to give each person a sliver.

Arrgh!

Girls, it was the ugliest looking plate of food
I’ve ever served on Thanksgiving.
Tasty, but ugly.

Interestingly, holding dinner hostage gave us
all time to really catch up,
watch the Lions win,
play some board games with the littles
and some even took a short nap.

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The Secret to Being Thankful is Focus

The secret to
being thankful
is focus.

When I learned to drive motorcycles,
I discovered very quickly that
where you look is
where you go!

Through the curves,
around the obstacles
or
into the ditch!

In this season of busyness and frivolity,
it’s easy to lose your focus.

If you’re anything like me,
you start to focus on what everyone else is
doing,
decorating,
devouring,
or delighting in.

Comparisons take up the space
in my mind and heart that
God is supposed to inhabit.

Instead of being thankful for what I have,
I focus on what
SHE has,
or what SHE does,
or what SHE gets
or how SHE looks.

I compare home decorating skills,
culinary prowess,
the number of Christmas cards received,
the extravagance of gifts,
and the size of her dress.

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This Is Why I Need Advent

Meet my friend Lauren Befus,
a wife, a mom of 4 littles, a writer, a pastor’s wife
and a lover of Jesus.

If your holiday to-do list has you shuddering with dread,
Lauren’s guest post about Advent is just what
you need to take a time out and reconsider
the reason for this season.

The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before … What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s back fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.”

– Jan Richardson, Author/Artist

“Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait.” Jan Richardson cannot be serious. Has she lost her mind?

Christmas is less than one month away – 25 sleeps to be exact. And looking out over my “horizon,” I just see WORK… a whole lot of work (and some fun) and then more work!! I see gift spreadsheets. I see piles of Amazon boxes. I see bins of decorations. I see my dwindling bank account balance. I see long lines at Meijer. I see rolls of wrapping paper. I see tired, overstimulated kids. I see parties – school parties, work parties, friend parties, family parties. I see party prepping. I see party inviting. I see church service planning. I see WORK (and let’s just add for good measure that I also see some stress and pressure and fatigue and worry).

And this, my friends, is why I love Advent.
This is why I need Advent.

Thankfulness in Action

Today I am thinking of things
I am specifically thankful for.

What’s on your list?

I have the usual stuff …
health,
home,
hubz,
happy children. 

But also electric lights and curling irons,
hot and cold running water on demand,
appliances that ease and expedite my life. 
For moms and dads and cars that start. 
For air conditioning and forced air heat. 


I’m thankful that I live in America.
I can vote,
continue my education,
and go to stores or movies
without much fear of being
blown up,
hijacked or
sold into slavery.

My life has not been without tragedy.


As a woman who has suffered loss,
I will tell you it’s the kindness of friends and strangers alike
that helped me make it through long seasons of sorrow.

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Trusting God with Big Changes

I don’t love change.

Anyone else with me?

In my quiet time this morning,
I realized I was sitting on 20 year old couches,
looking at walls painted 20 years ago,
dressed in pjs and robe that were,
yes, you guessed it,
about 20 years old.

Girls, change challenges me!

I barely like change even when it’s my idea!

But,
keeping things the same
is no safeguard from pain.

Things break and wear out.
Children grow up and move away.
Friends die or move on.
Opportunities evolve and disintegrate.

Change is necessary.
Change is good.
Change is inevitable.

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Old Faces on New Friends

Every morning,
the “Walkers” powered past my house,
merrily chatting away as they exercised. 

Trim and fashionable in their cute outfits,
and bright athletic shoes,
this cluster of women was oblivious of
my longing to be included in their lives.

New to the neighborhood and
new to parenting,
I was desperate for a friend.

Still dressed in my pajamas,
with my hair in a wadded pony,
I wanted to holler out the window,

“Hey! I’m lonely.
Would you be my friend?”

Figuring that strategy might make them walk even faster,
I devised another plan to intercept them.

Many evenings after supper,
I put my baby in his stroller and casually traced their route
hoping for a chance meeting that
would get me invited into their circle.

Instead, I encountered Bob,
an elderly man with thick, white hair and
sparkly blue eyes.

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Apple Of My Pie

I’m up to my eyeballs in apples this week.


I’ve spent hours and hours
peeling, coring, slicing, saucing, & freezing …

I have
apple sauce,
apple pies,
apple crisp,
and
apple cobbler
ready to go!

As I’m sure I’ve told you,
I’m practically famous
(at Mr. 4-Ever’s deer camp)
for my delicious apple desserts.

This week I thought I’d share my two favorite apple recipes.

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Flourishing In Life Requires Living In Community

There was a time when girls learned how to
 flourish in life from other women
in their community.

Women in the family.
Women in the neighborhood.
Women at church.

Side by side or hand in hand,
wisdom and advice
was dispensed and practiced.

I learned to peel hard boiled eggs,
mend a torn shirt,
and walk in high heels
from the women who loved and nurtured me.

I learned to dress with style,
listen to a boring story with an engaging smile on my face,
and host a party
from watching the women in my neighborhood.

I learned to study the Bible
pray with expectancy, and
treat my husband with love and respect
under the tutelage of the women at my church.

Living in community is important!

Even though women tend to be relational,
we are losing our connectivity
due to the demands on our time
and
the abundance of virtual relationships.

We hide behind busyness and
pretend that “liking” a Facebook post
is the same as personal engagement.

It’s not!

 

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Live Loved Even When You Feel Left Out

 

The conversation turned awkward with the realization
that I hadn’t been included in the festivities
my friends were reminiscing about.

Not included.

 

Smiling faces beamed in the Facebook photos
of a wedding I wasn’t invited to.

Not invited.

 

The note read,
Your uncle died last month.
I’m so sorry,
we just forgot to let you know …

Not remembered.

 

What do you do when
you feel left out?

 

A variety of options pop into my head.

Hide.

Curl up in the fetal position and
suck my proverbial thumb till the hurt goes away …
till the next time or the next trigger reminds me
I’m not enough.

Pretend.

Post my own fun pictures,
Talk about my recent exploits.
Put on my happy face and say it doesn’t matter.
But it does, doesn’t it?

Retaliate.

Blast a nasty text or post with tags galore,
but that never goes well.
Even if I get some temporary relief or satisfaction,
inevitably,
a harsh response only causes more hurt
and often bigger regret.

Run.

I can run away, but I can rarely outrun the hurt.

Instead of running away … 

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Does your past try to hijack your future?

I’m delighted to be posting at Elisa Morgan’s Really blog this week…

 

 

Time Traveler

I came face-to-face with my past this morning. 

In an effort to purge items in my closet that didn’t fit my style anymore,
or to be perfectly honest,
didn’t fit my mature, more generously padded frame anymore,
I stumbled across two of my deceased husband’s favorite shirts.

 I stopped cold.

 For years and years these shirts lay folded,
waiting to be put in rotation again.
Even more than a photograph or nostalgic song on the radio,
the sight and feel of them took me right back to a time
when we were young and bulletproof. 

I kept them because they reminded me of my Hot & Hunky Huzb
who died in his sleep of a heart attack at the age of 39.
I kept them because I thought one of my boys,
who were 7 and 4 at the time of his passing,
might grow into them and I would see them repurposed – resurrected.  

I held onto them because a part of me couldn’t let go of that time when all was well.

 Does that happen to you?

You’re cruising through
your day,
or your desk,
or your drawers
and you unexpectedly tumble back in time?

For me (this time) it was a great memory.
But other times, I’ve stumbled into my dark past.

Read more ….