Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm Dreaming of the Perfect Christmas

Ah, Christmas memories. I have many of them, but they’re not all “Courier & Ives” type memories. Sometimes, even after all our
preparations and planning, things just don’t turn out quite like we expect.

I remember our family had one such Christmas. The problem began when Robbie Lee and I went out to pick out our family Christmas tree. We saw a sign that said they were selling Christmas trees for only twelve dollars each. It sounded too good to be true, but we stopped in to have a look around anyway. I was surprised to find a tree I liked and the price was actually just as they advertised, only twelve dollars.
We took our inexpensive tree home and decorated it with bulbs and lights, sharing memories with each ornament we hung on the tree. Our Christmas seemed to be off to a great start. We had the perfect tree at a perfect price and it was going to be a perfect Christmas.

 Later on, however, I soon found out why the tree only cost us twelve dollars. Every time we walked across the floor we could hear the needles falling off the tree. I’m not talking about a few needles here and there. Needles were dropping at an alarming rate. It was so bad we were afraid to walk past the tree. We found ourselves tiptoeing around the house so we could save what few needles were left on the tree. The closer it got to Christmas, the worse it got. The perfect tree was practically naked.

On Christmas day, we rose to a beautiful morning with lots of presents to be opened. As we settled in to begin passing out the gifts I
decided to give our dogs, Maggie and Nicky, their presents first so we could open ours in peace. I handed them each a snack and then I gave them each a stuffed toy to play with to keep them occupied. Of course, Maggie, the sheepdog, decided she wanted the toy we gave to Nicky, a mixed breed from the SPCA. She decided to take matters into her own hands and grabbed the toy from Nicky’s mouth. Nicky, being very stubborn, decided he was not going to give in that easily and a terrible fight ensued.

As “White Christmas” played softly in the background, Maggie and Nicky were going at it big time, right underneath the Christmas tree.
Slobber, hair and tree needles were flying all over everything. I yelled for Robbie Lee to fetch me a glass of water to throw in Maggie’s face to calm her down because I had read once that this was a good way to break up a dog fight. The way it was explained was, you throw the water in the dog’s face and it distracts them from the fight. I wasn’t so sure it would work, but I was desperate at that moment.

“Here’s the water,” said Robbie Lee looking very worried.

“Throw the water in Maggie’s face!” I yelled as I tried to pull Maggie out from under the tree. Maggie had Nicky pinned down and I was
afraid she would hurt him since she was much bigger.

“Okay, if you say so,” Robbie Lee yelled and took aim. Only instead of throwing the water on Maggie, she emptied the whole glass of water all over me. I was drenched from head to toe. I screamed so loud when the water hit me that the dogs finally fled the room.

There I stood in my wet pajamas beside the Christmas tree. By now, all the remaining needles had fallen from the tree and the wrapping paper on the gifts was torn and wet from water and slobber from the dogs. This was not how I had envisioned my Christmas morning with the family. Of course, once I changed into dry clothes, we had a great laugh about the whole thing and we did finally enjoy our Christmas day, especially after I stopped expecting it to be perfect.

Sometimes, even with the best laid plans, the unexpected can and does happen. We visualize how everything is going to be and we hope

for perfection. We place a lot of stress and strain on ourselves because we want everything to be just right, but life doesn’t always go as we plan and seldom do things turn out to be perfect. I’m so glad God does not expect us to be perfect. He loves us just as we are, with all our blemishes and imperfect lives. Yet we strive to be the perfect Christians and when things don’t go as planned, we feel as if we have failed and God no longer cares for us because we didn’t meet our version of His expectations.

Galatians 3:2 says, “Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off  to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it how do you suppose you could perfect it?” (The Message) 

Stop trying to live the perfect life. God is not impressed with, nor does He demand, perfection. If God had thought it was possible for us to live perfect lives, He would not have needed to send His Son Jesus to die on the cross. So just scrape the idea you have to be perfect right off your plate. All the planning and all the work has already been done for you. There is nothing you can do or say to make Him love you more. He loves you just the way you are.

So the next time you are expecting perfection, but you end up with a dog fight under a naked Christmas tree remember, God has given us the perfect gift; the gift of salvation. Now that's perfection.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In The Middle of it All

Looking, shopping, buying and spending 
Books, bikes, bracelets, and earrings
Sizes, colors, junior and miss
Cards, boxes, ribbons and lists
Trees, bulbs, garland and lights, 
Wreaths, garland, reindeer in flight
Pictures, plays, parties with punch
Fruit cakes, candy, cookies with nuts
Wrapping, stamping, mailing with love,
Aunts, Uncles, children, and pups
Carols, friends, old and new
Greetings, meetings, gatherings too
Laughter, memories, tears and joy
Silent night, Holy night, one baby boy
God’s gift to the world, the best He could send, 
Peace on earth and good will toward men 
Robes, slippers, toys and dolls
A baby in a manger in the middle of it all.

Monday, December 7, 2009

From the Younger Woman to the Older Woman

The younger women in our church got together and wrote this message for the older women. They read it to the women at our Devoted Women's Conference and it is very moving. Don't ever think you are too old to have an impact on the younger generation. We have a great responsibility to lead and to mentor them as they walk along side us. Take the time to read this and perhaps share it with the women in your life. Enjoy:

I desperately need you to show me wisdom.
I need you to show me what true beauty is, a fierce kind of beauty.
I need you to show me that high heels aren’t always worth it.
I need you to be an example of virtue.
And to tell me that life isn’t always what it seems; that the past doesn’t dictate my future.
I need you to distinguish not just what is right - But also wise.
You can’t let me compromise.
I need you to champion me into my inheritance.
I need you to show me courage through all circumstances.
I want you to show me how to smile through my eyes.
I need you here to tell me that beauty is timeless; that as I increase in age I can increase in beauty.
I need you to make me laugh until my stomach hurts; to keep me smiling at the days to come.
I need you to show me how to really eat chocolate.
I need you to teach me to listen with my heart.
I need you here so you can take my hand and lead me.
You have to remind me to not just live, but live deeply in Christ.
I need you to dress me with strength and dignity.
I need you here with me to walk through each day with confidence and boldness.
I desperately need you to show me the value in purity; never let me live without a relentless pursuit of God.
And most of all; the thing I need you to be most, is to live your life with a vigorous purpose - because my life depends on it.
From my heart to yours, with love.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book Signing

I will be signing copies of the "Life is a Buffet" books this Saturday, December 5th at the Walden Bookstore in Chesapeake Square Mall, Chesapeake, VA from 1 pm to 3 pm.

If you're in the area, please stop by and say "hello." The "Life is a Buffet" books make a great Christmas gift for someone who needs encouragement or is going through a touch season in their life. The books are filled with heart-warming, humorous stories and simple Biblical teachings that will make you laugh and give you food for thought at the same time.

I hope to see you there!