Saturday, December 22, 2007

My First Train Ride

Last Monday we took our two grandchildren on their first train ride. We rode the TRE to downtown Ft. Worth to see her all decked out for Christmas. It was a memorable experience for all of us.

Faith was delighted to find out that she could walk around on the train. For one who does not like to sit still, this was an awesome bonus. Brother Charlie was captivated by all the scenery passing by, and being able to watch the engineer operate the train. You could not wipe the smiles off their faces.

Freddy, the conductor, was truly an angel. He took us under his wing and told us lots of stories. He directed us to some seats at the front of the train so we could have a terrific view of the tracks. He wrote his name and other information including a blessing on one of the train schedules as a souvenir for the kids.
What a gem!

Before we took the grandchildren back home, Faith made sure she had my full attention, and summed the day up with: "Gram, this day is going to be one of my first best memories!" Charlie impressed upon us his interest in going for another train ride soon in the opposite direction to Dallas. Freddy, the conductor, had suggested that to us. I imagine he will not let us forget!

I can tell you, as a parent or grandparent, nothing is better than knowing your children and their children love to spend time with you, and knowing they feel safe and protected in your care. We have been so blessed in these generations to make such wonderful, loving memories together. That is worth more than gold and silver.

A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children.
Proverbs 13:22

Angels on High

We took our grandkids, by way of a train, to downtown Ft. Worth last Monday. The walk to Main Street took us by Bass Hall. Its architecture, as you can see, is magnificent.

Any time of the year these angels leave an incredible impression on me. But at Christmas I imagine they are part of the angelic choir trumpeting the good news of great joy that was for all the people:
Today your Savior was born in the town of David.
He is Christ, the Lord. Lk. 2:11

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Reflection on Giving

This mirror in my front hall reflects red jingle bells. Somehow a bell ringing at Christmas just gives a feeling of lightness and childlike wonder. As I get mired down in lists, errands, expenses, commitments, the season takes on heaviness and I let those things steal my joy. Actually, I give the joy away as I try to achieve getting things done and checked off my list, and rushing to that perfect holiday.

There was a time in my life that I had to practice saying "NO" in the mirror. I figured if someone asked me to do something then it meant I was supposed to do it. I didn't want to disappoint others, and wanted them to like me, so found myself doing lots of things I didn't enjoy for all sorts of wrong reasons.

I find, especially at Christmas, that unrealistic expectations can get me in lots of trouble. My greatest joy in these last few years has been to give several gifts to people that don't expect one. Sometimes they are even given in ways that the person does not know who was responsible for the gift. The joy of giving something done in secret is its own reward. The funny thing is that it covers up the giver in delight and blessing as much or more than the recipient. It tilts the world system of lists of expensive, expected wants and must haves.

Don't get me wrong...I love giving presents to my family and cooking traditional holiday things for them. But I find myself yearning for simpler times and ways of giving and being together. I have found glimpses through a few practices.

I highly recommend:
1. Giving an unexpected gift to someone God leads you to bless.
2. Giving yourself the gift of a block of time with a friend or loved one.
3. Saying "NO" as a complete sentence in response to something you really do not want to do, and does not bring you joy.

It is very freeing, and you may find yourself, like me, delighting in the childlike wonder of Christmas again.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

By Faith

Sometimes I get a photograph that my friends call a "God shot." The interesting thing about going digital is that I see immediately, without having to wait for film, what showed up in the picture. There is evidence of things in the photo that my eye did not see. But there was a call of deep to deep that drove me to take the picture.

What delight when I realized that taking a picture of the wreath on my front door captured a Texas sunset in the glass at the center! The Father of light and life gave me a light show smack dab in the middle of the wreath I hung to honor the babe we celebrate this season.

We received the light when we believed on him, the Word that was with God that became flesh. Those first enthusiastic responses of faith are fired again when He reveals himself in photographs such as this one. When I am stirred by the spirit to shoot some photos, I know by faith that there is something He wants to show me. I have confidence that responding to the nudge of God's will actually stimulates hope and perseverence in me that likewise can encourage others in their faith. I think that pleases God. He is always the proper object of genuine faith, and richly rewards it. He nudges us to seek him; find him. He delights in being found!
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blue Poinsettia

I am amazed when I see a flower bloom in a new color. I have been drawn to photograph roses that looked black, silver, or lime green; and lately I succumbed to buying a blue poinsettia. I am not sure if it was grown, dyed, sprayed, or just how it arrived at its color. All I know is that I like it. I can tell you by looks that I get not everyone thinks it is pretty. Maybe pretty odd, "silk??"; or nothing spoken at all accompanied by rolling eyes.

I remember reacting negatively to some green catsup a few years ago. Catsup is supposed to be red. Poinsettias are supposed to be red. No wearing white shoes certain times of the year. No mixing gold and silver, although there is a current trend to do exactly that. I guess I use color to illustrate how much we get in the box with certain expectations of how things are supposed to be. We can even become legalistic with color.

I imagine that some of my free spirit is because of the right brain artist thing. But I imagine my mind will be totally blown each time I get to see another dimension of God when I am in heaven. A blue poinsettia will be pretty mundane. I suspect that when we experience something out of this world we may be getting a small spiritual preview of that thing we cannot wrap our minds around, about whom we cannot lean unto our own understanding.
That would be GOD, OUT OF THE BOX.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Perfect Gift

I was taking some pictures of Christmas decorations around my house when the scene above my front door caught my eye. As the sun began to set, the scene changed because of the light.

I got two different pictures of the very same thing in a matter of less than an hour because the sky showing through the window changed from soft blues into sunset hues. As I searched scripture about "light" I came across the scripture about every good and perfect gift. It also contained a line about shifting shadows. The figures in the window are Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. The babe who is the word of truth made flesh, the perfect gift. Wow! God so loved us that He gave the perfect gift.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:17-18


For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

I received a package in the mail yesterday that was worth more than silver or gold. My Colorado friends sent me a package full of the mountain. It contained fresh green boughs, a great book, chocolate, and precious fox and moose ornaments.

I thought about putting the boughs together with the wired ribbon enclosed so I could hang it on my front door. But God led me to exactly where all the gifts should reside: a treasure chest. The chest lives in the front hall, but now is full of smells, tastes, thoughts, and heartstrings from Evergreen. It reminds my heart that the simple gifts, many times the least expensive, are the ones we hold dear.



Thursday, December 6, 2007

Nostalgic Toys

Every Christmas when I set up my elephant tree I remember the small grey and red stuffed elephant I had as a child. Some of my earliest memories were of taking it to my mother to mend when a newly exposed tuft of stuffing showed itself through worn seams. Finally, there was little left to mend. It was my Velveteen Elephant, so to speak.

As an adult, I saw a similar stuffed elephant at a garage sale. It brought the memories flooding back of my special toy. The tears ran down my cheeks. I collected unique elephants from that point on until I let them all go in favor of just having elephant ornaments on a Christmas tree. I've posted a few of my favorites.

My two daughters had a similar strong reaction to some childhood toys in a discussion during Thanksgiving dinner. I had recently found a little red loom at a garage sale that came with bags of stretch loops for making pot holders. My girls spent hours making them for Christmas presents when they were little. They were beside themselves when I gave it to my granddaughter for her birthday. I wonder if they all have made my Christmas pot holders yet?

The girls also talked about Cabbage Patch dolls, and how they had to settle for a homemade one by me, because I couldn't afford to get them the real deal back then. They were hard to get; availability, fighting over them in stores with women grabbing to get the few that came in, and the ridiculous price of 60 dollars. That was in the young children age of our marriage where, after the bills were paid, we were lucky to have 60-80 dollars to last for two weeks until the next payday. There was hardly a choice between dolls or food on the table.

Anyway, those are a few of my stories about my, and my children's nostalgic toys.
What toys do you remember having as a young child?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Nature Calls

Back from church on Sunday, our first task was to get the Christmas decorations down from the attic. Our second was to take a quick nap. The third might have been putting up Christmas decorations, but we were overtaken by a beautiful day and rich autumn colors. We found ourselves driving to the Ft. Worth Nature Center to hike through the wonderful late splash of autumn.

We saw buffalo, deer, ducks, heron, butterflies, and a wonderful variety of autumn leaves and berries. The leaves, many of them heart-shaped, seemed to scream the Creator's love for us.

So, as many neighbors were putting outdoor lights on their houses, we were lagging behind, though it be December 2, in the beauty of the fall. As a funny side note: the park hours had changed to the winter schedule of 5:00 closing time for the refuge instead of 7:00; and we found ourselves locked in the refuge center at 5:15. We had to call the Ft. Worth P.D. to unlock the gate. The two officers looked rather solemn as they unlocked the gate, and informed us that there would be a $75 fine. Their response to our "Are you kidding?" was "yeah," followed by a gotcha stream of laughter. PTL!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Paws to Celebrate

I hope these doggies
dressed up for the Jingle Bell Run
will give you Paws to Celebrate. (groan)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Run the Race

Yesterday my husband ran a 5K race in downtown Ft. Worth. He came in fourth in his age group. This running thing is relatively new in his life. He has lost 65 pounds and kept it off for three years! I went to cheer him across the finish line, and was very proud of his perseverence in the race down the city's streets and also how he runs the race called "life."

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Banquet Hall

When I set a table with tapestries,candles, gifts, china and silver or gold flatware, it is because I want the guests to feel loved. I want each one to know the place at the table was especially prepared for her. I can only imagine what it will be like to sit at in the Lord's Banquet Hall. But I know the main ingredient in every part of the feast will be LOVE!

He has taken me to the banquet hall,
and his banner over me is love. Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love.

Song of Songs 2:4-5