It was sad and lonesome.
Then a couple at our church invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them. That was the beginning.
For the first five years or so, after we moved "up north" holidays weren't exactly fun. No yard full of laughing cousins. No kitchen bubbling over with delicious smells and mama stories.
It was sad and lonesome.
Then a couple at our church invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them. That was the beginning.
Lord, did I hear you right? Do you have any idea what my family, my friends will say if I marry her?
What have I done that you would punish me so?
“Go, marry a prostitute who has had children as a result of her prostitution. Do this because the people in this country have acted like prostitutes—they have been unfaithful to the Lord.”
So, here we are, still doing rehab for the knee replacement a few weeks ago. I gotta tell you, Dear Reader, I'm one blessed woman! And it's definitely undeserved grace.
Mama wanted to be a nurse in the worst way as a young woman. Just because nursing school didn't work out for her, that didn't stop Mama from nursing any and everybody who was sick or injured, including me.
I'll admit I have my share of unreasonable fears: heights, speed, snakes, just to name a few. I carry my share of emotional baggage, too, that leads to fears like fear of failure. Who among us is free of faults?
In light of my fears and failures, I wonder if God keeps checklists for our perfect mates. If He does, He certainly went out of His way to ensure I married the man perfectly suited to me. I love Tom to absolute distraction; he brings out the best in me.Then there are other times . . .
When Tom, James, and I took a tour of Western Europe several years ago, Mary said her dad must be the only person to come back thinner. French pastries and Italian delicacies held no charms for Tom. Thank goodness we'd taken along granola bars.
I'm not saying Tom's a finicky eater. but he's afraid to try anything new. Okay, almost anything. And Dear Reader, sometimes it drives me a little crazy.
For years, it seemed like shortly after we found a restaurant we liked, it closed, burn to the ground, or was ruined by flood. I'm not joking. If that wasn't bad enough, Tom seemed mired in mourning their losses instead of discovering new restaurants we might like.
And don't even get me started on tv shows or clothes. If there's a John Wayne western, MacGyver, or M.A.S.H. on, he's there. And probably wearing the same thing he did when they originally came out decades ago.
Foods, restaurants, tv shows, clothing styles . . . Seriously, sometimes I think I married a coward. And then I remember.
I remember how brave he's been through the losses of children, siblings, parents, friends, letting me scream and bawl until I was spent, mindless of his grief.
I think about the times he's followed me into crazy: going back to college when we could barely pay our bills; uprooting our family to move across the state to follow my dream; believing in my calling enough to invest time and money into my journey.
A new dessert, a different style of shirt, oh Dear Reader, how petty my heart and mind are sometimes. And how ungrateful!
I frequently tell Tom that I wouldn't want to be married to me, and it's true. This frail flesh is so selfish and demanding. But Tom loves me anyway, and perhaps that's the bravest thing he's ever done.
May God who gives patience, steadiness, and encouragement help you to live in complete harmony with each other—each with the attitude of Christ toward the other.
Dear Reader, Tom's love for me is the second best gift he's given me. The absolute best gift is the model of unconditional love that gives me a glimpse of the Father's love for each of us.
Dear Reader, thank you for joining me on the road to the cross. My heart leaps to share the old, old story that remains new. Please accept my humble accounting of the treacherous path Jesus and His followers took to the cross, and gloriously beyond. (Road to the Cross will continue during Monday visits this Lenten season.)
How can they be so stoic, so cold? How can they do this horrible thing to One who came only to bring the good news of reconciliation to God? Have they no souls?
Do these soldiers have no brothers or sons?
Could they feel nothing? Did splinters pierce their calloused hands as they held his to that wretched cross? Their muscles strained against coarse tunics. Hands and feet stained by spurts of blood of the only Son of God. How could they have committed this atrocity if they had felt anything?
17 So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol′gotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.
They tortured and hung my Savior on the cross to die. They crucified him like He was a criminal, then sat down in the shadow of His cross to gamble for His clothes. I could hear them call to others that the game was on. They played while my Savior died.
23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfil the scripture,
And Mary watched it all. Are these men so detached from humanity that they are blind to the devotion and devastation of families? They cast lots for His only earthly possession, perhaps woven by Mary, as she watched and wept.
Were their ears deaf as His words of consolation and care scraped across bruised and bloody lips? Were their hearts so hardened that they couldn't see the love of God poured out from the shadow of the cross?
25 So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag′dalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Am I strong enough, faithful and trusting enough, to comfort my Savior's mother? What were the promises He shared with us? What do we do next?
Last week I heard an ad on the radio about a hotel in London that is hosting a "Beauty and the Beast" tea party. Apparently, there's several going on this spring. The announcer was right. They do look fabulous!
Our annual Friends & Family Tea is coming up this weekend. We began having our tea party while the girls in our family were old enough to handle china and young enough to think it's cool. But our tea is not about princesses, charming as that may be.
This may sound a bit weird, but for me, it's a ministry. I so love getting the house ready, welcoming, and comforting for our guests. James's menus are always packed with delectable delights. But what I love most, is making the friends and family members feel special.
Is that too over the top mushy? Doesn't matter. This tangible expression to the women and girls I love and care about the most brings me great joy! So much so, that even getting ready for the tea becomes a gift.
Our Heavenly Father hasn't prepared just a tea for His children. He has prepared a heavenly feast! And you know what? I don't think it's about the feast at all. I think it's a gift, a gift that says, "I love you, I want you to be full and satisfied, and I want to spend lavish amounts of time with you."
2 “God’s kingdom is like a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. 3 He invited some people to the feast. When it was ready, the king sent his servants to tell the people to come. But they refused to come to the king’s feast.
Dear Reader, I must admit the fly in the ointment about our tea. Every year when there's a snag, it's oh so easy for me to slip into the me mode. It's a slippery slope from all about them to all about me.
I get caught up in the invitations and the shopping and the cleaning. I get busy. And in the busy, sometimes I forget.
I forget not only to invite the Savior of my soul to join us for the fun. I also forget to ask His help in getting ready for it.
If you've ever planned and prepared for an event, you'll know that not everyone who is invited comes. That's happened each year we have the Friends & Family Tea. For a while, I was really hurt because of the work that went into preparation.
Then the Lord took me back to the passage in Matthew. What a paradigm shift! Now, I'm disappointed when guests are unable to attend, but not for me, for them.
Every year our guests tell us how much they enjoyed the food and fellowship. And every year I'm disappointed for the ones who wouldn't be able to do the same.
Do you think that's kinda how God feels sometimes? He's prepared only the best, the most extravagant plans for us. And sometimes we miss it, for reasons of our own choosing.
Dear Reader, aren't we thankful God never stops inviting?
Then God said, “And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. . .”
I think one of the best blessings God has given us is our five senses. The holiday season is one of delighting the senses, giving us tons of opportunities to praise him for being able to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Here are a few of my favorites.
One of the things I enjoy about my extended family coming for Thanksgiving is that we decorate early. During Advent especially, I enjoy getting home before everyone else, when sunlight is waning.
It blesses me to bask in the lights of the Christmas tree. Lighting on the nativity set I made for Mama years ago reminds me of how thankful I am to have had godly parents. Looking at the lights also reminds me that we are to be the light of Christ in a dark world.
I love Christmas music! One of my all time favorite songs is "Away in a Manger". It conjures up memories of Mama helping me memorize it for our church Christmas program decades ago. It also reminds me of how my babies felt in my arms, warm and heavy, as I rocked and lullabied them to sleep with it. The sounds of Christmas help us recall and embrace the love and joy that comes to us.
It seems like no matter where you go in December, there's a tasty temptation. I've got my favorites, like most folks. As nights get longer and colder, I also enjoy my favorite hot drinks.
There's something about lacing my fingers around a warm cup that is soothing. Feeling the warm liquid go down my throat reassures me and makes me thankful for the comforts of home.
I believe positive touch is a vastly underrated form of communication and healing. Jesus definitely understood the power of touch.
In the middle of the madness of the holiday season, one of my favorite moments is curling up with Maisie. She could care less about the cards to be addressed, or the gifts to be wrapped, or the recipes that need to be printed off.
With my mug of cider and the soft of twinkle of lights, the velvety touch of Maisie purring calms my soul. It may sound silly, but her unconditional touch refuels me to reach out to those around me more.
The scents of pine cones and cinnamon are a blend of my southern childhood and northern life. No matter the time of year, their fragrances take me back to Christmas.
After moving "up north" to Kansas, our family made Christmas trips to Georgia nearly very year. Somewhere between Arkansas and Alabama, as pine trees began to pepper the scenery, my brother would begin singing "I'm Dreaming of a GREEN Christmas".
The earthy, pine fragrance has been replaced by the aroma of cinnamon in apple pies and spiced cider. Every year when we welcome cinnamon in with the fall breezes, I'm thankful for homes where I have been loved.
Dear Reader, no matter what delights your senses or ignites your memories, I hope they bring you back to our Creator. I pray sensory delights will be tangible reminders that you are loved and blessed.
8 That night, some shepherds were in the fields nearby watching their sheep. 9 An angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord was shining around them, and suddenly they became very frightened.
The manger beckons us as we find our selves "Going." We are close enough to the manger to see, to watch, to become part of the event that changed the world.
What do you enjoy watching during Advent, Dear Reader? Are you a pushover for old holiday movies, like me? In the hustle and bustle I always find time for "White Christmas" and "Meet Me in St. Louis", joyful reminders of Daddy and Mama.
Are there Christmas cantatas and children's programs on the schedule? While looking forward to programs with Annalyn and Gracie, I'm so excited to be celebrating "Lessons and Carols" with James again this year. Whether it's scared stiff 9 year-olds singing for a church service, or hundreds singing James' arrangements of age old carols, it's watching faces of joy and reverence that bless my heart.
One of the things I also enjoy watching during the holidays is ordinary moments, like watching sheep, turn into extraordinary blessings. Shopping trips are full of them! Doors held, packages carried, runaway carts captured, errant children corralled.
The shepherds were minding their own business, doing what needed to be done. No time and a half, no days off, just sheep. But God burst into their ordinary in an extravagant way. We don't even know the shepherds' names, but God did.
God knows our names, and our hearts, too.
My favorite thing to watch during Christmas is the expressions on the faces of the ones I love. You know that expression when a dear one opens the "perfect"gift.
I wonder if those faces reflect the wonder on the faces of the shepherds. Faces that show, more than words can possibly express, the joy in knowing they are loved.
Dear Reader, my prayer for you is be on both sides of the perfect gift, loving and being loved, and knowing we share in the greatest love of all.
Our journey brings us into touching distance of the manger as we complete our journey to the manger next week. Join me as we respond to the greatest love of all by "Giving".
I took a seventeen year hiatus from college before returning. When James started kindergarten, I started back to college. Nearly every time I sat down, there was a textbook and its partners on my lap.
Since graduating with my bachelor's degree, I've worked for school districts. Papers, and more papers, and eventually the addition of digital record keeping and lesson planning.
And then grad school times two. More textbooks, and laptop on the lap, even on vacations. By this time, it didn't feel right if there wasn't something on my lap.
And I'd do it all again. Getting my first degree, and starting on a career, started the ball rolling toward our kids having more opportunities than they may have had otherwise.
After a couple of decades of books and laptops, priorities have shifted into a more fun direction. As often as possible, there's a granddaughter on my lap.
When Annalyn and Gracie aren't around, there's something new in my lap. We're looking forward to a new granddaughter early next year, so I'm crocheting an afghan for her. I tell myself she'll keep it forever and remember that Allie loved her before she took a breath.
What's on your lap, Dear Reader? I've concluded that what frequently lands on my lap is what's important to me at the time. And it's okay if it changes over time.
Jesus gave his disciples a pretty good barometer for figuring out what's important.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Long before Jesus taught his disciples, the prophet Isaiah told us plainly what real treasure is:
And He will be the security and stability of your times,
Dear Reader, I could tell you what occupies my lap, my top priority, is quiet time with God's Word open and ready for sweet communion with him. I could, but it wouldn't be truthful.
I can truthfully tell you that his Word reveals peace, power, and reminders of what's important in his Kingdom. It also tells us of his abiding love and forgiving nature. I know he looks upon my heart, and not just my lap. On those crazy days when I don't even seem to see my lap, I know he still loves me and he knows I love him.
What about you, Dear Reader? What's on your lap these days?
I never grow tired of the amazing things my students teach me! Since coming for tutoring last summer, my second grade friend, DaJuan, has really opened up.
To build vocabulary (and relationships), most Title 1 reading lessons start with a short chat. Last week, small groups and I were chatting about our family Thanksgiving meals.
DaJuan went into great detail about his. Of course he said the turkey for the grownups would be as big as our table, and the kid turkey just a little smaller.
Then he began talking about all the crab legs they were going to have, and cotton candy for dessert. I caught myself just before exclaiming, "That's so weird!"
Who knows? Maybe DaJuan's family does traditionally enjoy crab legs for their Thanksgiving meal.
As in all years past, we'll be having turkey and its extras at my in-laws. But this year, the gathering at our house for my side of the family is making a major shift from turkey and its friends to homemade soups, deli sandwiches, and lots of finger foods.
As I thought about DaJuan's Thanksgiving and the ones I'll celebrate this year, I was again reminded that it's not about the menu at all. It's about the fellowship.
Dear Reader, I won't pray for your Thanksgiving table to be loaded until it sags. Instead, I'll pray your table will be surrounded by the ones you love. I'd rather share a peanut butter sandwich with those I love, than a massive meal alone, wouldn't you?
46 Day after day they met as a group in the Temple, and they had their meals together in their homes, eating with glad and humble hearts,47 praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. And every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.
Hi, my name is Alice. A Way with Words is about sharing faith,
fun, & encouragement. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you find a little something to take
A few folks I enjoy hanging out with (click to visit):