This week’s word is…

When I woke up at 4 this morning, it seemed like a great opportunity to plug headphones into my iphone and play that one seasonal CD that I haven’t had a chance to hear yet this year. Remember the nature-sound series, “Solitudes”? This is a Christmas one, with appropriate sounds to go with each of the instrumental carols: snow squeaking under a sleigh, bells jingling on the horses pulling it, children playing and laughing in the distance, birds, streams, waves, wind, etc. Usually it’s an excellent background to relax you.

This morning though, I soon found myself saying “Why is this bothering me!?” It seemed like, just–NOISE! I was actually thinking of turning it off. Then, slowly, the realization dawned on me: I needed to stop thinking about things, even little unimportant things, and listen to it. Listen to the steel drums in the one carol. Listen to the bells, and to the flutes and clarinets. Let the waves take me to the ocean, and the birds to the forest. Envision the Wise Men travelling in the windy desert. That’s when I started to relax, and even began to nod off.

Yes, I know the busyness is three times heightened as we begin this fourth week of Advent, and you probably don’t even have time to read this, but whenever you do read it, try to plan even one or two moments, here and there, to: Listen. Here are some ideas for you:

  • As you sing the same old carols that you’ve sung for years and years and years, pick one and actually listen to the words you’re singing. (What does it mean to you?)
  • Listen to a child talking, to you or someone else. Listen to the lilt of its voice, to the difference in various children’s voices.
  • Listen to a friend–just for once, without thinking about your own story while they’re still talking.
  • Listen to Linus as he tells the story of the first Christmas, or read it yourself, as slowly as you can so that the words can sound new.
  • Go for a walk, and listen to all the sounds that you hear–count them up: airplanes, traffic, people. Be thankful for your health/hearing; is there anything else that it makes you thankful for?
  • Listen to all the sounds your kitchen makes, especially when a meal or a treat is being prepared. (Right now, mine is making a funny “whooshing” noise?? The fridge I guess.)

I hope this will have the benefit of, among other things, helping you to get some rest this holiday. And maybe you’ll even learn something! ;)

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19)

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Relax

The remaining days before Christmas are now very carefully planned out… and suddenly here I am with some extra time! Well, about 45 minutes, anyway. Maybe I should be wrapping some gifts, but Santa has cut down a fair bit this year as far as the number of gifts, so it should be able to get done in one day.

Of course, there’s always my Christmas puzzles to work on in between times.

One of the things I enjoy most in reading over my posts of previous years, is the scripture verses… why do I keep stopping that? :S

So here’s one for today:

“Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!” (Jude 1:1-2)

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Shiny Star

The most amazing thing from last night’s Small Group party, is that my son Sam–he himself–was the very one (no one else was able to) who led all 18 of us in singing (yes, I said singing) his favourite Christmas carol: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day! If you know my guys, neither of them sing, they just sit/stand there and enjoy the music. And this particular carol is a difficult one to get the first line in tune; in fact, we (meaning “I”) started wrong and had to regroup and just let Sam lead us. It was amazing!

The second most amazing thing was that I was able to route my present to the right person. You see, we played that game where everyone brings a wrapped present, and they’re all in a pile in the middle of the room. Each person gets a turn to either pick a present from the middle, or take one away from someone who has already chosen. No unwrapping until all the presents have been chosen.

I knew there were going to be kids there, and wondered how they would fit in. Turns out they were just to watch, however they enjoyed watching their parents participate, and helped them to choose the gifts. One of our gifts was a light-up reindeer antler head-gear thing, and I attached a little bendable reindeer to the outside of the package. So I chose that one, and kept holding it up and jiggling the reindeer to attract people to take it. Someone took it from me, and I took it back (the third time a present goes to someone, it stays). Then finally, the kids urged their Dad to choose that one, and I was able to end the game by taking the last present on the floor. So, one of the twin girls had the antlers, and the other had the bendable reindeer. :)

The third most amazing thing is that I actually tried a little of everything from the pot luck food, even curried goat–and it was kinda good! The fourth most amazing thing is that my sugar pie turned out perfect, and there was a whole pie left to take home!

Oops, shouldn’t have let THAT out!

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He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

We’ve been through two words for Advent: Peace–“on earth Peace, good will toward men”, peace with God, peace and quiet, peaceful times, “May the Peace of Christ be with you”–and Come, including all the invitations for Christmas parties & dinners, God’s invitation to us, and our invitation to Him–inviting him into your life, and looking forward to his return to earth. Those two words could even go together, as is clear in Matthew 11:28, where Jesus invites us to come to him, and he’ll give us rest (hover your mouse over the reference).

Both those words were also very evident in our church’s concert yesterday, titled “Peace”. The choir director, in explaining how he came to the theme, described his sleepless nights a little while ago, as he thought of the persecution of Christians in Iraq. Peace is truly a miracle of God in such situations.

But that reminded me of something I thought of recently, as I wondered what was meant by the verse that talks about Christ-followers experiencing “the sufferings of Christ”. Part of that could be the yearning that we begin to feel for others, as we draw closer to God–his love flowing through us. Yet, Jesus says “take my yoke upon me and learn of me”, and “my burden is easy”. How can we experience his sufferings, and still find the burden light? Simply this: when you truly love someone, you don’t even notice any hardship/suffering in doing for them, praying for them, etc. When you truly love Christ, as you do the more you “learn of him” and realize his love for YOU, doing whatever he wants is easy.

So, my word for this third week of Advent is: “Perspective”. As a few people have said, there is a lot of darkness around the first coming of Christ. There is a lot of darkness around this time of year! But (as we talked about a few posts ago), it is the darkness that makes the light so beautiful–candlelight, tree-lights, etc. Perspective.

It’s a time of year when we look back to years ago; for example, pouring over photographs of Christmases past. The perspective of time truly adds some beauty to things, doesn’t it? Whatever you’re going through or doing right now, just think how the perspective will change in years to come! We can’t even imagine how things will be, really. This is something you learn more and more as you get older.

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It’s not all about Eating; however…

What an excellent idea to “Simplify” around Christmas; my problem is, there isn’t anything I really want to give up. Take this glorious list, for example:

  • Today – family coming to stay the weekend (more people to exclaim over our beautiful new home)
  • Tomorrow – we must show them The Chelsea Pub, for dinner
  • Sunday – we’re all invited to Rej’s Nearby Niece for a Christmas Celebration Meal; also, it’s our church’s choir & orchestra concert
  • Tuesday – for Sam’s & my brother’s birthday, we’re all going out for fish & chips to The Swan on the Rideau
  • Thursday – our Small Group Christmas Due, a “providential supper” (the host avoids the term “potluck”, lol)
  • Saturday – Sam’s Real Birthday, so we’ll probably do something small, because–
  • Sunday – we’re celebrating it by taking him to a Celtic Pub for a 3- and 4-part Christmas carol sing!

The only thing I have to do in all that, besides supper tonight and something small on Saturday, is bake for Thursday. And be very careful in between times, to keep ourselves healthy for all that. Maybe it’s the people we’re going TO who need to simplify!  ;) We may wonder if we really want them to, but remember, it’s the COMPANY that counts.

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in which there is no Point

Do you ever feel like you’ve read everything there is to read, and said everything there is to say? I’ve said it ALL, so all you have to do now is go back and read what I’ve written already, for the past 8 years. All those little hints for body and soul that abound so much everywhere–I’ve seen them ALL before. I know it all, already!

I Know-it-All… hmmm, well, at least I know it for a few minutes, while I’m reading it. Some things don’t stay with me for very long, but, when I see it again the memory is there that it’s been through my brain already.

There are soooo many wonderful organizations to be connected with, each with their own newsletter to read. There’s SO much news to keep abreast of! Gone are the days when I can even get to the “end” of my facebook newsfeed (meaning caught up to where I’ve already read–which is hard to tell these days, since “recent” also means old posts with “recent” comments or likes). Don’t you sometimes feel like putting your hands over your ears and closing your eyes and saying “Enough!”

I’m not even sure what Point I’m getting to here. Maybe I’ve made all the points there are to be made already!

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Come, shine!

The translation of the word “Advent” is “Coming”. At the same time that we celebrate Christ’s first Coming, we look forward to his second Coming.

But my word for this week is “Come”. This is a season full of invitations–to parties, dinners, concerts, and more. Invitations call out to us even from hundreds of years Before Christmas: “Come you who are thirsty…”, and “O Come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel” (if that’s not exact scripture, at least it comes from the spirit of the prophecies concerning Messiah).

Then, there are Jesus’ invitations, like “Come to me, all of you who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest”, and “Come, follow me…” These days, especially if you ever suffer that “non-peace” that I talked about yesterday, you may be tempted to quote Revelations with that invitation TO Christ: “Even so, Come Lord Jesus!”

Our pastor is always telling us that we need to invite others to come to God; in fact, he reminded us last Sunday that our whole purpose in life is to make disciples. That is part of the “yearning toward others” that I mentioned yesterday, and that Pastor Jay also talked about (AFTER I had the idea, haha).

Now, lest you think I’m too serious sometimes, here’s something to provide balance. Reading it this morning certainly balanced me! It’s from an old Henri Nouwen Advent devotional.

Many of us have become so serious and intense, so filled with preoccupations about the future of the world and the Church, so burdened by our own loneliness and isolation, that our hearts are veiled by a dark sadness, preventing us from exuding the peace and the joy of God’s children. You know as well as I that when our words are full of warnings, our eyes full of fears, our bodies full of unfulfilled needs and our actions full of distrust, we cannot expect ever to create around us a community that shines as a light in the darkness.

NOTE TO SELF: for blank days, try reading a TAG.

 

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the Prince of Peace

It occurs to me that the way to Peace, is to start with not-peace. Just like you can’t really have forgiveness without confession, you can’t enjoy the gift until you receive it and actually unwrap it (ever feel like you hate to disturb the pretty paper?) Perhaps it has something to do with the joy that comes only through suffering. You can’t have a baby without labour pains. Even after the baby is born, there is enough suffering to endure, as you yearn for every good thing for that child.

After a spiritual birth, you begin to feel God’s yearning for others. And then there’s the suffering that goes on in the world. For example, the millions of people who die every day, just from poverty. Comparing that with how we spend $20 here and there on Christmas decorations, and then if we have any money left at the end of the month donate to the poor, can and should disrupt one’s peace.

Years ago, a pastor we knew used to actually pray that the people sitting in his pews would experience unrest… until they were moved to get up off their arse and do something. Well, he didn’t actually say “arse”, or anything like that! But you get the idea.

Segue to a more recent pastor, and there are some notes I made from an excellent sermon of his (Brian) about Peace.

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one of those – Enter title here – kind of days?

Abraham and Sarah did not have one of those lovey-dovey relationships, I’m pretty sure. They were more like a brother and sister who have trouble getting along sometimes. In fact, she was indeed his half-sister. Imagine–giving your wife to the king of the country just to save your own neck!

Did he assume that the king would not get around to her, since he had so many in his harem? Or did the culture of the time just not place very much importance on sexual relations? (Remember how Lot was willing to give up his daughters to the men who wanted to rape his visitors.) And another thing: why did Abraham worry about Sarah’s beauty, even at that ripe old age? Was it just in his own mind? In which case, perhaps women coming in to the country were snatched up for the king’s harem just as a matter of course? Anyway, neat to see that this king did have a respect for God, that Abraham wasn’t the only “righteous” one in the land–in fact, Abraham totally deserved that telling-off that he got from the king.

Interesting things to think about!

Not so interesting, I’m finding, to try and think of one word that would describe my week. “Eating” would be a good one, since we celebrated Rej’s birthday on Tuesday at Mom & Dad’s, and again on Wednesday at the nearby Chinese restaurant. “Work” was the first thing that came to mind though, just because we recently had to make two trips to the Shop. Perhaps the Decorating for Christmas could also be considered work? Whatever, it sure felt good to get into the hot tub last night, and feel those massaging jets on my back!

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You. are beautiful.

New morning routine: plug the coffee in, then turn on the fireplace, pull my chair right up to it, and refuse to open my computer until the coffee is ready. (The first morning readings are on my phone anyway.) Even then, I turn the brightness down on my computer. After the first coffee, it’s time to turn the fireplace off, push my chair back, and watch the sun rise light up the sky.

One of my morning readings was about appreciating the way God made you (see Psalm 139). My parents would like that one, since they don’t like me ever to say anything about not liking my looks. They think I’m beautiful, of course. :)  Amazingly, I also have the most handsome son you can imagine!

Apparently, there are a lot of people who actually have surgery to make themselves look “western”–on their eyes, their lips, etc. How sad! God made such a wonderful, beautiful variety of people. I just love how the missionaries these days have awakened to the potential of each separate culture bringing glory to God using their own culture. It reminds me of that wonderful Newsboys song, “He Reigns”, that describes “every tribe, every nation” (right from scripture, btw) singing the “song of the redeemed”.

Anyway, be sure to look after that beautiful, intricately designed body that God gave you. After all, how would you like it if you gave a gift to someone, and they totally misused it?

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