Winter Memories

view from my backyard

It’s a beautiful and warm February evening in the middle of winter. The temperature is in the 70’s, a rare occurance even for a Georgia winter, and the sun is shining and pleasant. It’s a great night for a walk around the neighborhood. As I begin my walk down the familiar sidewalks on this most remarkable of winter days, I’m reminded of a similar February day twenty-four years ago. My son had just been born about a month earlier in January and I was taking him out for a walk on the first warm day. When you have a baby born in the middle of winter, you don’t go outside unless you absolutely have to. Our days so far had consisted of a continuous cycle of sleep-change-eat every few hours, so I was excited to get out and show him the world. I bundled him up in the baby sling since he could not yet fit in the baby stroller I had bought, and we took off down the sidewalks on an unusually warm February day.

Now, here I am twenty-four years later, walking around the same neighborhood on another warm February day, minus one small baby of course. My baby is now grown and looking to start out on his own, at almost the same age I was when I took that first walk with him. It doesn’t seem possible. The neighborhood still looks about the same, though neighbors have come and gone. We have new family members and those who have left us. I am older, a little wiser, I’ve shed a few tears and have a few more scars, and oh how I wish I could hug that young mom! But I can also smile at it all, because through all the ups and downs, we get to live life, we get to love our family, we get to have memories, and we get to pass it on to the next generation. Life is not about being perfect. It is about living.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – from the wise Dr. Seuss

A nudge

from the walking trail in my yard

“You haven’t prayed yet this morning.” a little nudging thought seemed to say to me.

I know… I say back to myself in my thoughts, while grabbing my purse and phone and taking that last sip of coffee. … I’ve got to get going for my appointment this morning. I’ll pray when I get back. Besides, there’s nothing going on here in this quiet morning that needs urgent prayer. It can wait a few hours.

I try to read my devotion and pray every morning, but honestly, it sometimes gets away from me. I always feel better when I do. It’s like getting dressed in the morning. When I rush, I don’t always look my best. Those shoes I grabbed in a hurry don’t really go with my outfit. I may get through the day ok, but I don’t feel great.

On this morning, I’m dressed but don’t have on great shoes. I head out for my appointment downtown, and afterwards I check my phone. There’s an urgent text from my son – COME HOME NOW. I call and text and wait to hear back from him as I’m madly driving home. And praying, urgently praying.

It all turned out ok, just some scary scammers that he wasn’t sure how to deal with. But it got me thinking. That nudge earlier this morning. God was giving me a heads up. He knew what was coming. He knew the evil that was lurking in people who are ready to pounce on the unsuspecting or vulnerable. When we least expect it. God wanted to talk with me that morning through my prayer, to reassure me, and to help clothe me for what my son would be facing in just a couple of hours. God was already preparing his angels to surround my son from such evil.

I was reminded there is nothing more important in getting ready for our day than starting the day talking to God. So this morning when I opened my devotion, I found this:

As Soon As You Prayed
God thinks highly of you, and at the very moment you started praying, I was sent to give you the answer. Daniel 9:23
God answered their prayers because they trusted him. 1 Chronicles 5:20

God starts to answer us the minute we begin praying. And many times for things we don’t even know about.

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 8 – Coming as a Servant

jesus-resting

The prophet Isaiah gives a vivid description of the coming Messiah as a servant – one with a gentle manner, who brings comfort and encouragement to the oppressed, and is a light to all. In our world today, this is exactly what we need, and it is exactly how Jesus lived. This beautiful Hebrew prose from the prophecy of Isaiah, woven in with the teachings of Jesus, says it well.

Isaiah 42:1-4
“This is My Servant; I strengthen Him,
this is My Chosen One; I delight in Him.
I have put My Spirit on Him;
He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not cry out or shout
or make His voice heard in the streets.
He will not break a bruised reed,
and He will not put out a smoldering wick;
He will faithfully bring justice.
He will not grow weak or be discouraged
until He has established justice on earth.
The islands will wait for His instruction.”

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Isaiah 42:5-7
This is what God, Yahweh, says—
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and life to those who walk on it—
“I, Yahweh, have called You
for a righteous purpose,
and I will hold You by Your hand.
I will keep You and appoint You
to be a covenant for the people
and a light to the nations,
in order to open blind eyes,
to bring out prisoners from the dungeon,
and those sitting in darkness from the prison house.”

Matthew 4:13-16
Jesus left Nazareth behind and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,

along the sea road, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles!
The people who live in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those living in the shadowland of death,
light has dawned.

Gentle. Comfort. Encouragement. Light. This is Jesus.
For all who are weary and burdened, may you seek Jesus where you will find the gentle rest that only He can give.
It is His promise to you – “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

 * Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 17 – Fulfillment of the prophecies

wonderful-counselor-mighty-god-everlasting-father-prince-of-peace-isaiah-9-6

The anticipation is beginning to build in Luke’s story. Many people were curious about what had happened and the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies. A child was to come from the tribe of Judah, town of Bethlehem, through the line of David, a messenger would prepare the way, and he would have eternal existence.

While we wait for the celebration of the birth of Christ in a few days, let’s look back at many of the prophecies that were beginning to take place.

“Daughter Zion, shout for joy and be glad, for I am coming to dwell among you”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “Many nations will join themselves to the Lord on that day and become My people. I will dwell among you, and you will know that the Lord of Hosts has sent Me to you. The Lord will take possession of Judah as His portion in the Holy Land, and He will once again choose Jerusalem. Let all people be silent before the Lord, for He is coming from His holy dwelling.” – Zecharia 2:10-13

By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined. – Isaiah 9:1-2

His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end. – Isaiah 9:6-7

The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem!
Look, your King is coming to you;
He is righteous and victorious,
humble and riding on a donkey. – Zecharia 9:9

May you call out today to the only one known who can heal our inward pain, give us peace among a chaotic world, and will be with us for eternity. 

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 24 – The birth of Jesus

jesus-joseph-and-mary

On a quiet unsuspecting night, the Savior came into the world. And the world has never been the same.

While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place. – Luke 2:6-7

As the Christmas rush begins to quieten down, the stores are closing, the gifts are bought, and the world prepares to stop for a day, remember what this simple but profound birth means to our world.

No matter what you may be dealing with this Christmas season, and so many of us are, I pray that you will stop for a few minutes on this Christmas Eve and ask Jesus to surround you with His love and peace and hope. For Jesus truly is the reason for the holiday.

* Merry Christmas *