Thanksgiving 14

 

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Day 14:

Today, I’m thankful for IRBS. This is a new seminary, and a project our church has been heavily involved with since day 1. My husband is currently finishing up his first full semester there.

I’m thankful to see him embrace his classes and learn and grow. I’m thankful for new friendships we’re both establishing.

I’m thankful to see this work of history get started and to be on the front lines.

I’m thankful for IRBS!

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Thanksgiving 13

 

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Day 13:

Sometimes life can kick you in the guts, things you thought you’d put in the correct place leap out and haunt you, old dreams you thought you’d laid to rest call to you again, and you feel lost and alone. I’m thankful for the loyal and faithful friends who stand beside me in such times. I’m thankful for truth that reminds me I have a great High Priest who knows what I am going through. I’m thankful I have a loving heavenly Father!, a Father who loves me perfectly and knows what I need even when it’s hard. I’m thankful for the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit. Life can really be hard, but God is truly good.

Thanksgiving 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

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I just can’t seem to stop playing catch up!

Day 8:

I’m thankful for my Moms. The Lord blessed me with two wonderful mothers who I love so much.

My Mom: Mom, you are the calmest, warmest, and most welcoming person I know. We’ve shared giggles, tears, long days, long talks, good movies, good books. I could spend every moment of my life with you and still feel like I miss you. Thank you for diligently working to transition from my parent to my friend. Thank you for being here through all the good parts of my life and so many of the bad. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for being you and sharing that with me. I love you!

My extra Mom: Wanda, you are fun, wise, and your home is a second home to me. Thank you for always being game for whatever life brings you. Thank you for moving forward in life even after Vidal has passed. Thank you for hours and hours of discussion, laughter, figuring things out, gripping at long holds on the phone, plant advice, and always being a good sport about your lack of technical knowledge. Thank you for welcoming me into your heart and home so many years ago, and for letting me stay. I love you!

Day 9:

Today, I’m thankful for Extra-Sisters. I have three who I love. Ruth, Joy, and April. One of the awesome delights of having a big family is all the extra siblings, especially sisters, you add in.

April, you were my first big sister. I’ve loved having a big sister, someone to giggle with, look up to, ask about things, and just in general enjoy. I’ve loved our many family adventures, family holidays, and good memories! I love you.

Ruth, you have been a close and beloved friend for many years. I miss you all the time. I love our shared geekiness, our love of stories, characters, settings. I love talking with you, being with you, seeing what you will create. I love you!

Joy, you have welcomed me so many times into your home, shared your girls, and your life. You are creative, marshalling so many things to make life fun for the children around you. You have so many cool pets, and are a great cook. I love being with you and yours. Thank you for being game to include me in so much of your life. I love you!

Day 10:

Today, I’m thankful for the women of my church, especially as we got to gather round Leslie and express our delight in God’s goodness. I’m would address you all very specifically, but I’m terrified I’ll forget someone important to me, so just know, Ladies of Heritage Baptist Church, you are the salt of the earth, the people I treasure most, the ones I always love to be with. Please know that I sincerely love you all.

Day 11:

It’s the 100th Anniversary of the end of WW1, and so I am thankful for the silence of the guns. I’m thankful for peace. I’m thankful for men and women willing to go to war, to give their lives for others, to do the dirty work of fighting. I’m thankful for my soldiers: my grandfathers, my Vidal, my big brother, and my brother-in law. I’m thankful for my cousins and uncles who have served. I’m thankful for my fellow church members who served, and I’m thankful for the young men who are currently serving.

Thank you.

Day 12:

Today, I’m thankful for a day off, a day to curl up with my stories, candles, music, and my man. I’m thankful for a warm home, warm blankets, food, and clothing. I’m thankful for this rest time, because I am very tired this week. But, I am thankful to be provided for. God is good.

 

Thanksgiving 7

 

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Day 7: I’m thankful for my two sisters: Emily and Liz. You two have been by my side through thick and thin. Y’all have included me in your families and let me love on your children as much as I can. From shopping, to adventures, to holiday fun, to family picture chaos, and discussion about what to wear, y’all are my go to, and my favorite people. I love you both so much and I’m thankful God gave you to me, and me to you.

Thanksgiving 6

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Day 6: I’m thankful for Emily Shiflet! We’ve been friends now for several years, had many fun and silly adventures, are working on our second round of Band of Brothers together, and in general probably shouldn’t be trusted together. I love our rambling talks about everything, our enjoyment of whiskey, tea, and coffee, our share love of stories and writing, but most of all our shared love of our churches and associations. You are truly and for real a sister in Christ. I love you more than I can ever say.

Thanksgiving 3,4, & 5

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Seeing as I’m having the most ridiculous time keeping up with my Thanksgivings this year, I think it’s safe to say, life is busy.

Day 3: I’m thankful to have my first paid writing gig! Eeeek. This year I was able to quit the world of retail and move into the writing world. I work for a small neighborhood magazine as the Content Coordinator. I get to see my name in print every month. I get to interview down to earth, unique, and interesting families. I get ride herd on photographers, design teams, businesses, and my publisher. It is perfect for me. 🙂

Day 4: I’m thankful for Deanna, Elayne, and Liz. While I never get to hang out with you three women as much as I want, and sometimes we talk in groups, and sometimes separately, I can’t tell you how much you mean to me. You three keep me sane, laughing when I want to give up, centered when I’m frazzled. Thank you for loving me for so many years.

Day 5: I’m thankful for Rachel Cole. Rachel, without you I wouldn’t have gone on so many adventures, wouldn’t love my house, and might be slightly off my rocker. Thank you for saying what needs to be said when I’m anxious or overwhelmed. Thank you for being someone I can safely talk to who always points me back to truth. Thank you for including me in your life. Thanks for home and afar adventures. I love you!

Soapbox: Deserve

 

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Image from Pixabay, edits by me.

 

I seem to be in a bit of a soapbox mood, but I promise I’ll get back to my Lessons from Being Sick soon. (Previous soapbox, and Lessons from Being Sick)

Right now, we tend to banter around the idea of ‘deserving it’. Something good happens in your life and all your friends pat you on the back and say, “You deserve it”. A dream comes true, a magical vacation is taken, a promotion, a gift, or just me-time happens and we deserve it. Yes, we all have to take time to semi-re-center ourselves. Sometimes we give and give and give and give until our bodies just shut down. It helps if you can see the signs of that happening and take a few hours or even a day to regroup so that you can go back to serving others. But, do you deserve it? Have you really gone above and beyond what everyone else is doing in such a way as to deserve it? Are you truly and purely worthy of being spoiled, by yourself or by others?

Have you ever stopped to wonder about that?

Have you ever stopped to notice the selfish and sometimes stupid things we do because ‘we deserve it’?

What about the other side of the coin? We never think about the fact that if you have earned this reward, this promotion, this dream come true, or this me-time, then you can un-earn it. If you deserve it now, you could not deserve it tomorrow. You can deserve that new handbag today…don’t ask me how that works, you deserve a handbag? …and then not deserve it tomorrow.

We are so quick to pat ourselves on the back for all our hard work, but we don’t ever talk being lazy and deserving poverty. We don’t talk about deserving health issue because we refuse to say no to upsizing our drinks and taking a walk. We don’t talk about deserving problems in schools because we refuse to teach our children self-control. We don’t like deserving negative things. We’re super happy and agreeable with deserving days off, expensive treats, massages, and diet-cheat days, but we’re not happy with deserving the consequences of our sins.

See, only one human being has ever lived perfectly enough to be worthy, to deserve, anything nice. Only one person live the life that earned him…well, life. And he chose to take on death for us…the unworthy. Because, honestly, I’m not worthy and don’t deserve to see my dream of being a homemaker come true. I don’t deserve to have my health in an upswing. I don’t deserve to have a husband who is loving and kind. I don’t deserve to live in the 21st century where I can sit on my back porch on a not so hot summer day and write this article. I don’t deserve the grass, trees, and plants that surround me. These are all of grace. My whole life is grace upon grace upon grace.

Do you want to get rid of entitlement? Teach children thankfulness. Teach them that it is a mercy, a grace, a debt that can’t be paid to be born in the USA. Teach your children, and develop in yourself a heart of thankfulness. Take a moment to be thankful for what you do have and stop worrying about what you don’t. Take a moment to consider your own sinfulness. Think about how selfish you are, and then be thankful for the grace that has been shown to you. Instead of thinking of all the good things you think you’ve earned, think about all the judgement that should rightly sit on your shoulders. Tremble at the thought that if you did truly earn some blessing, then you can just as quickly un-earn it.

Believers will stand out more and more as the world spirals.

Image from Pixabay, edits by me.

We need to get our heads out of the entitlement game, out of the self-deserving game, and start thinking about grace and thankfulness. Next time you buy a new shirt, game, book, bag or whatever it is, don’t think to yourself that you’ve earned this and this is why you should get it. Think to yourself that you haven’t earned it. It’s a gift. A gift to someone who doesn’t deserve a thing.

And remember, the only one, Jesus Christ, who did deserve and was worthy of every beautiful thing in this world, gave it all up. He set his ‘worthiness’ on the altar of sacrifice for us, his saints.  He set aside everything that was his right, that he did deserve, that he had earned, that was his privilege, to take on everything that wasn’t. He took on all the rights of death and punishment, the only things we had earned, that are our true rights. He took what we earned so that we wouldn’t have to pay that cost. That’s like the sweetest person you know dying, willingly, for a serial killer. Think about it. Christ didn’t deserve his death, we did. But what we didn’t deserve, what was given to us by grace, we can’t lose. I didn’t deserve my salvation, I don’t deserve my salvation, and thus I can’t lose it. I can’t un-deserve it because it’s not about me. It’s about Christ. He earned it. He is worthy. He is perfect. He will keep my salvation for me.

As our world spirals down into more idiocy and self-harming philosophies that make no sense, believers will stand out and more and more. We won’t take a moment because we’ve earned some me-time. We’ll take a moment because Christ has generously given us a chance to do it. We will do it with thanksgiving, and not a hording of our time against those always clamoring for us. We will understand the benefits and the proper placing of down time, entertainment, recreation, so that it doesn’t take over our lives, and we will be thankful for the many generous gifts of God. Instead of demanding, we will be humbled that he is so kind. Instead of tight-fistedly holding onto every drop of this life, we will be glad for the gifts as they come and go.

Stop talking about deserving any blessing, be it spiritual or temporal. If you believe and trust in the Word of God, you will understand that you deserve nothing good, you have earned nothing good, and so you will come at life with a heart of thankfulness, for it is all of grace.  This will set you apart from the world. This will make you different. Be ordinary. Understand you don’t deserve any blessing in this life, or the life to come. It’s all of grace.

Flash Fiction: The Pile

 

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Courtesy of Alethia Young. 

 

The Pile

Christmas Eve.

Mouths opened. Lungs expanded. Eyes gleamed.

“Not a word.” Dad leaned in over the table, finger extended, a twinkle in his eye. “Not a word.”

Five mouths clamped shut.

23 sleeps ago.

The Five, armed with saw and wagon, hurried out into Grandma’s fields, hunting just the right tree. In the back pasture they examined tall trees and short, round and skinny. Each child voted yes or no. The tree had to be perfect. It would take the center, Norman Rockwell stage for the whole month. Victorious, they return home over the small hills and dells, scratched but happy. Decorating and off-key singing ensued.

The holly green, the ivy green, the prettiest picture you’ve ever seen…

14 sleeps ago.

Boxes arrived. Big boxes. The Five immediately helped unpack.

“The tree doesn’t look lonely anymore,” the youngest said.

“Everyone keep your fingers to yourselves,” Mom said. “Don’t touch the pile.”

8 Sleeps ago. 

From under the prickly cedar tree, trussed up with lights and handmade decorations, spilled the pile. It spread into the narrow living room, cutting off the path from the kitchen to the bathroom. The Five huddle around it in the dark morning, dreaming of toys and more toys. Waiting. Waiting. The countdown dragged. The older ones swore the pile extended further into the room than any piles had before. Each present had been examined. Each of The Five knew which present was theirs, and the noise it made when shook. The Five had the entire pile mapped out.

1 sleep to go.

Christmas Eve sauntered in. Anticipation reached a breaking point. Tomorrow the paper would be ripped off and the toys would be theirs. Just a few more hours. One more sleep.

“Not a word.” Dad leaned in over the table, finger extended, a twinkle in his eye. “Not a word.”

Five mouths clamped shut.

Dad held out his hand to Mom and the two of them retired from the kitchen table for what The Five prayed would be a short winter’s nap.

Their parents’ bedroom door shut.

Screams of joy erupted.

In a moment of real Christmas magic, The Five gathered the dishes, ran hot soapy water in the sink, wash, dried, cleared, and cleaned the kitchen without a word of disagreement. Not one single squabble arose. No one pushed, pulled, glared, or even joked. Instead, carols erupted from them, swirling about the room on winds of excitement.

…it’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Sunlight streamed into the tiny mobile home as The Five went about their work. It splashed across the pile, the wonderful, huge pile.

Dad, king of his castle, lord of his family, general over the ranks of the Five, had superseded the holiday.

“I have an announcement, but I don’t want to hear a word. Not a single sound,” Dad had declared, as they sat around the table on that now famous Christmas Eve, eating tomato soup and grilled cheese. “Are we agreed?”

The Five shared a glance, then nodded in unison.

“Good.” Dad smiled. “Mom and I are going to take a nap. During the nap I want the table cleared and the dishes done.”

The Five waited. That was normal. Nothing about that part of the announcement would induce anything but sighs.

“After we get up,” Dad took a deep breath, “we’ll open presents.”

Five mouths opened. Lungs expanded. Eyes gleamed.

“Not a word.” Dad leaned in over the table, finger extended, a twinkle in his eye. “Not a word.”

Five mouths clamped shut.

The End


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Quote of the Weekend

There is so much I’m not getting to do this Christmas that are normally part of my Holiday Spirit. But, this quote sums up how I feel. I get to be with my family. I am loved. I have so many people I love. Christmas will be a happy time even if all the packages and bows aren’t here.

Merry Christmas!

(Don’t forget! Come January 1st all my content will move to my new blog: Faerie-Stories.com. Make sure you hop over there and follow so you don’t miss any of my upcoming articles!)