Saturday, December 24, 2016

And A Very Merry Christmas To You!

I used to choose a word of the year and focus on learning more, growing more, settling more on that word and what it means to me...but this year I chose to not do that and to just live life the way it was supposed to be lived.

This was a big year for me...and for my whole houseful of boys.

But this year I didn't choose a word...though if I had, I'd say it would have been 'change'.  Or maybe 'adapt'?  Or maybe  'roll my eyes at every little annoying thing that happens'?

I turned a half century.  That guy that I like so much and I celebrated our pearl anniversary.  Our nest emptied as the youngest shrub went to college and moved into the dorm.

Change seemed to be the theme around here.

And now,  as I sit at my kitchen counter while I wait for the cookies to bake, I can't help but think back on what this year was like for me.  It was a happy year....a fun year.  But quite frankly, I was a mess.

I was quick to anger.  I felt anxious at things I shouldn't have felt anxious about.  I was tired and grumpy and not the best friend or wife or mother.  I just wasn't.  I'm not even sure that others noticed...but I felt it.

But the biggest thing?

I pushed God away.

I stopped making a priority out of my spiritual life.  Everything else took precedence....everything.  I had time to work.  I had time to play.  I had time to cook and clean and watch movies and spend time with my people.  I had time for so many, many things...except Jesus.

I blamed it on sitting alone in church.  Of falling in to that 'no one notices if I'm here anyway' that is easy to have if you have a loved one in church work.  I blamed it on being too busy or too tired or too something or other.

Last night I was awake in the middle of the night and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I kept focusing on the things that didn't happen and then, while the rain poured down from the sky and the thunder rumbled in the background and I knew...I just knew.  Jesus...He was never far.  I pushed and pushed and pushed Him back and He just stayed put.  Watching and waiting as if to say 'ok, Michele...are you done yet?'

So as I finish out this year,  as I try and end things higher rather than I focus on what a gift a faith in God is and that even when I fall short there are others who are there to hold me up - well, I've decided to once again have a word to focus on for 2017.

My word?


It kind of seems like a strange choice and that's ok.  I'm going to move this year.  Not as in a move houses sort of thing...that's not even on our radar AT ALL unless the Holy Spirit chooses to shove us out of where we're happily at.  But move as in move my body...whether it be out of bed early to spend some quiet time with God or getting myself back out on my hiking trails so that I can center myself and just chill out, or move as in move closer to Jesus.

Move closer to Jesus.

I want to pray more.  Read more.  Write scripture more.  

I want to give Him my best.  My first fruit gift of time and energy.

But first there is Christmas.  The gifts have been wrapped and under the tree for some time now.  The meals are all planned and shopped for and are waiting to be cooked.  The cookies are baking today with the help of my mother-in-law and Emily and our little house smells SO good right now...all cinnamony and chocolatey and sugary.  It rained last night and outside it is green and lush and fresh.

We're only missing one boy, who as a professional trumpet player is in high demand at this time of he'll be arriving home after playing late tonight.  He's playing for a church tomorrow morning, too...and Michael has responsibilities as well, so we'll settle in for Christmas at some point after noon.

But the true gift has already arrived.  He's here, walking among us and as much as we push back, He's not going anywhere.

Merry Christmas, my friends.  Thank you all for playing such an important role in the lives of my family...from your emails and comments to just reading along and praying for us.  It means a lot to me.


I'm ready to sit and enjoy the next few days with all my boys, my houseful of boys, all here under one roof for the next night or two.   There won't be quiet, but there will be life...and right now I'm ready for that.  I might hide out now and then in my bathroom just to grab a bit of peace from football (hello...the Broncos have to play on Christmas Day?  At dinner time???)...but hey,  all moms do better if they grab a few moments of quiet amidst the chaos.  

Can I hear an Amen?

And if you leave your computer unattended while switiching cookie sheets around, you just might find a little note from one boy, who shall remain nameless.


Alex and his two sisters Brian and Matthew would like to wish every a merry christmas. So..........merry christmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

And On Earth, Peace

That guy that I like so much asked me to do the devotional before his first big concert...the theme is And On Earth, Peace.   No pictures today...just words.



I was looking through my work emails yesterday, searching out a problem that needed to be dealt with.  My computer was running super slow...probably as a result of xboxes and playstations and cell phones and the dishwasher and the wind and that cotton pickin' cloud that looms overhead and stores every detail of every move I make.

I don't pretend to understand that cloud.

Yet the sun was shining.  All three of my boys are doing well in this moment in their respective areas of life.  The dog has finally stopped barking at every dog that walks by his precious tree outside and only barks at the little ones now...a vast improvement.  A big pot of meatballs and 'gravy' was simmering on the stove and the whole house smelled like heaven.

But the internet was slow and that's all I could focus on.



There wasn't peace at the beginning of his life.  He was conceived in a way that is so hard to understand.    His mother and father had to endure a lot, face a lot of questions, hold their heads high, stick together.  And then people needed to be counted and everyone was in a rush to return to where they'd come from and this girl...this young, very pregnant girl had to travel far.



And then to arrive and have no place to sleep.  To labor in the darkness of a barn to deliver a baby on prickly hay.



We delivered a baby who came too early...his due date was Christmas Day and yet it was only November.  It was snowing and he came fast and with a whole lot of excitement...and not necessarliy the good kind.  You'd never know by looking at him now but he was the kid who stumped doctors and kept the surprises coming.



There were times in our young married life where there seemed to always be choices that needed to be made.  Electricity...or food.  College tuition (for ourselves)...or cable tv.  Gas for the car...or quarters for the laundry.  We were so poor in the beginning...but rich in love or whatever that saying is which makes it sound a whole lot better than what it was because really, it was just hard.  There were times when God felt far.



Fast forward to now.  A washing machine that caused a flood this week.  A friendship that feels not as close and confusion as to how to fix it.  Parents who are struggling with their health,  a car with a check engine light that won't go off,  an election that has caused more divide that anything any of us have seen.



There wasn't peace at the end of his life either.  He was alone, hurt, burdened.  He had a purpose and there was only one way to fulfill it.  It involved nails and a cross and a crown of thorns...a parade through town where he was spit on.  His friends just watched.  His mother just watched.  His fathers, both the earthly and the heavenly,  just watched.



 In Isaiah 57,  God says 'that I live in the high and holy places, but also with the low-spirited, the spirit crushed, and what I do is put a new spirit in them.''s a promise to us.  A promise that we are not alone.  A promise of an eternal life so pure and simple and free from dollars and cents and from pain and from check engine lights.  A place where the internet is never, ever slow.

But first, we need to live here.  On earth.  We need to search for the peace, for the common ground and for me,  that peace comes when I sit in a pew and listen to a choir sing.  You all know what it's like to work hard to put this whole concert together but for us in the audience, it just feels easy.  The music quiets us and for a few short hours, there is nothing but peace.  To close my eyes and truly hear the words that remind me of what is to come empower me to go out and spread joy, share love, stop complaining about the 'no's' and to focus on the good.  When I watch and listen to a group of people...all of different backgrounds and church denominations and skin colors and political beliefs - that's when it becomes real to me.  To listen to all your voices...all your different voices from all different walks of life become one in glorious song?

On earth, that's peace.

(Ok...just one photo.  Our fig tree, which only blooms in the summer, is blooming right December.)


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