Running Toward Christmas

This year, I’m running toward Christmas . . .

Running like crazy, with joy, as a child would run toward a father or a beloved big brother. Running headlong, arms open, as fast as my little legs will carry me . . .

Into joy

With my eyes focused on the Christ Child.I run to remember Bethlehem one star-strewn night.

To remember a hillside of quiet sheep, resting after a shining day full of grazing.

I run to remember . . .

I settle back in against the hard wood pew, breathing in the light pine scent from fresh wreaths of pine boughs that grace the church as Christmas nears.

I close my eyes for a few seconds, thankful for a good year, anticipating the final two holidays before a brand new year.

Reverend Hatch rises and walks to the pulpit.

Like a silent snow, holy quiet falls over the sanctuary

My back straightens as the Holy Spirit nudges me into deep listening. I pull in a breath.

I’m about to hear something wonderful.

Hatchie, as we lovingly call him, looks out over us and smiles and begins

“When God walked down the stairway of heaven with a tiny Baby in His arms, He came bearing the greatest gift the world has ever been given.”

The words race like a gentle fire into my mind, body, soul, and spirit—into the realm of wonder. Brushstrokes of color flow across my imagination.

From impossible white clouds in a star-pierced violet blue night sky, a figure of brilliant light descends a wide staircase.

Within God’s arms, a small, moving, living Being nestles in a blanket of light.

Above them hovers a transparent Presence, crystal waves of movement aglow with a palpable sense of power and love.

The Holy enters Creation.

Everything in me wants to kneel before the Holy Triumvirate.

I cannot move, captured in breathless awe.

The Gift.

Delivered as I was and you were.

The Holy into humanity. Born to fill the void we came into the world with.

Born to fill the emptiness that nothing—no one but Jesus—can fill.

God is love, but He is just.

Born to save and free us from sin, He, the Lamb of God, came to sacrifice His humanity in our place . . .

and to prepare a place for us in Eternity.

God’s offered Gift.

Is our choice.

Jesus told us “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3 NKJV).

An angel spoke to shepherds and to us “. . . and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord'” (Luke 2:9b-11 NKJV).

To the woman at the well “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life’” (John 4:13-14 NKJV).

Will you run in thankfulness toward Christmas? Will you look up in joy and wonder and remember . . . ?

If you have a special Christmas memory I’d love for you to share it in the comments!

And just in case I don’t post again before Christmas, I’ll leave you with this~

A very Merry Christmas full of joy and blessings to you and those you love!

Love,

Sally

Elegant Staircases     #Christmasjoy    #MerryChristmas

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Try Again

“I was that far from pitching the whole thing right straight into the fireplace!”

She was that far from tears, too.

My friend was so frustrated after her first book proposal was rejected that she wanted to burn her manuscript and wondered if she really should even be a writer.

And, her passion and determination to make a decision whether to give up or keep writing as she talked to me,

woke up my poetry gene.

I remember those feelings.

Bright leaping flames in the fireplace
A red-yellow study of arson and lace
Beckon me feed it these papers I hold
Truly, I want to, if the truth be told.

The pages engulfed in the frenzied inferno
Would satisfy something so deeply internal
To see them consumed in the hot conflagration
To see them destroyed would soothe agitation.

But what if God asks me to try once again
To review and pursue and pick up my pen
To steel all my shakiness, regroup and pray
It might be for my soul, a much better day.

So, Lord, if I turn my back on the fire
And stare at these pages with fresh new desire
Will you kindle in me your sparks, and renew
The dream you placed in my heart so to do?

Please lead me and guide me—stay by my side
O, Lord, inspire me as you change the tide.

+ + +

My friend and I are both thankful we decided to never, ever give up!

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 ESV).

“But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!” (2 Chronicles 15:7 NKJV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV)

Have you ever been tempted to give up on a dream of your own?

I’d for you to leave a comment!

Love,

Sally

About the Norman Rockwell painting photo by Cliff via Flickr CC

Jo Seated on the Old Sofa from “The Most Beloved American Writer”, Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937, oil on canvas, 32 x 25 in.

Rockwell traveled to Louisa May Alcott’s home in Concord, Massachusetts, before beginning illustrations for a serialized biography of her life. Alcott’s book, Little Women, became an immediate classic when it was published in 1868, and was a hit again in 1933 when George Cukor’s film adaptation won an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Its message—that family counts more than wealth, and happiness comes to those who help the less fortunate—was an apt revival subject in Depression-era America.

americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/tellingstories/

Bowls, Baskets, and Blessings

“Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.”
Deuteronomy 28:5

Autumn, bowls, baskets and baking just seem to blend.

I close my eyes and I’m swept back into childhood to a cozy warm kitchen.

Come with me!

Smells wonderful in here.

Sunlight makes my mother’s hair glisten. I climb up onto the stool beside her.

I breathe in the scent of a heating oven and fresh dough in Mom’s big wooden kneading bowl.

My gaze roams the kitchen counter laden with a bags of flour and sugar, glass measuring cups, and measuring spoons.

Close by is a bottle of oil, a round blue box of salt and a container of snow-white vegetable fat. Mom lets me stick my fingers into the satiny white stuff so I can help “grease” the metal pans.

Over there is the big silver flour sifter with a screen in the bottom and a handle that makes a funny noise when she lets me squeeze it so the flour sifts through.

I pull the wrapper from the magical little cake of fresh yeast that’s ready to go into the next batch of dough.

Oh, Lord, Bread of Life, thank you for the gift of our wondrous senses.

There’s nothing quite like the sight of my mother’s beautiful hands as she kneads the shapeless dough and gives it form in her big wooden bowl.

Or the puffy soft feel of raised dough against my fist when I help punch it down to rise again.

Or the scent of baked homemade bread filling the house.

Or the sound of the ticking timer that matches the beat of my heart as I wait to taste and feel the blend of soft warm bread and melted butter on my tongue.

Jesus, Bread of Life, thank you for blessing our sturdy kneading bowls and overflowing baskets.

And you’ve probably baked bread with your own little ones by your side as I have and as my daughter and her daughter have.

Baking bread together is as much a tradition as breaking bread together at the dinner table

or breaking it together at the Lord’s table when we remember Him as He’s asked us to

or sharing bread with others who have little or none.

Bread.

It is so much more.

Do you have a bread story? ☺ I’d love to have you share it in a comment

Love,

Sally

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’” John 6:32 33
Jesus said “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51
Jesus said “I am the bread of life.” John 6:48

All scripture NKJV

Need a Christmas gift for your favorite readers?

Think about giving them a copy of the new novel, The Stonekeepers.

Click on the photo of the book to take you directly to the web page where you can purchase it.

B and F Cover Capture

Back and front cover image of novel The Stonekeepers

 

Grandpas are to Love

For as long as I can remember, I’ve experienced the gift of joy as I watch my father’s hands. They move effortlessly, beautifully, skimming over the ivory and onyx keys of his piano or an organ, or his keyboard. I listen to his soul-moving music, wondering how much longer I’ll hear it since he received the disheartening news.

He’s eighty-four, slender, and a little stooped now, yet he appears strong and healthy for his age.

My mind slips back to yesterday–except for a couple of God-given sunbeams–not a very happy day, yesterday.

So I’ll focus on the sunbeams.

It’s early afternoon. Dad and I sit together waiting to see the doctor, a specialist in hand surgery.

We’ll schedule needed surgery when we see him. Not a highlight of either of our lives.

Dad’s hands are healthy except for his right thumb. Cancer has staked its claim.

Today his hands are whole. In a week they won’t be whole any longer.

Several children are in the reception area as we wait to see the doctor.

Dad and I have big mushy hearts for children and the elderly.

Wherever I take my father, he attracts both. When I’m alone with him, our spirits mirror one another.  I have precious glimpses of his love for life and his joying in it.

He always gives others joy.

Especially children.

A tiny, chubby, cherub of a baby girl, maybe eighteen months old or so, walks all around, exploring the waiting room. She’s adorable with her light brown little face, big dancing brown eyes, and constant smile. She begins peeking at Dad, who watches her, sending her his own big smile.

I think she’s fascinated with his snow white beard.

It isn’t long before she pauses in front of him, gazes up at him.

She looks over at me, not quite seeming to know what he is or what to make of him.

I nod, and smile back at her sweet, inquisitive expression.

“That’s a Grandpa,” I tell her, “Grandpa’s are to love.”

She turns back to look at him, to study him for a few long seconds, then without a hesitant step, she toddles straight over to him.

Her little arms encircle his legs, and she lays her head-full of chocolate-colored curls right down on his knees in the dearest, gentlest hug I think I’ve ever seen.

Then, she raises her head to look up at him, and sends him another beautiful smile before she toddles off to her family.

Tears brim in my dad’s eyes.

Mine too.

What dear, precious, pure love! A hug for Dad—through her sweet little arms—from God’s own heart.

The stinging dread of what my father will have to go through—what he will miss—softens a little for me. I’m not sure what Dad thinks, but I’m praying.

On the way out, Dad stops to pass his good cheer to an elderly woman in a wheelchair. He pats her arm and gifts her with his words of encouragement.

I watch age-etched lines ease away with her smile.

The doctor is confident that he’ll go through this surgery just fine.

I am too.

God is with us, will strengthen and help us, and will uphold us.

We’re called to love–to love our heavenly Father with all our hearts, and others as ourselves.

With His help we can! ☺

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

Jesus answered the scribe, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Have you seen and experienced love personified recently?

Mini Epilogue

We had a lot to be thankful for. Dad did come through his surgery well, and he never stopped playing the piano. He’s with his beloved Lord Jesus now, after having lived four more years. I still miss him very much. Besides that precious baby girl, I think he was the best hugger ever.

Hug someone today!

Love,

 Sally  

Listen!

“Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways.” Proverbs 8:32

Years ago I used to  love the times of solitude while riding my chestnut mare, Cindy, through the nearby desert. They were wonderful times to enjoy silence and sunshine, to relax and think.

Most times, the rides were uneventful. But there was one day as I slowed Cindy’s spirited gallop to descend the sandy slope of a dune, that she suddenly stopped.

She stood perfectly still, her ears poised to catch every sound. No amount of coaxing encouraged her to move.

I was impatient with Cindy’s apparent stubbornness.

I didn’t hear the sound she was hearing.

I didn’t sense the rock-hardness of her tensed muscles beneath me.

Leaning forward, I was ready to scold her. But the sight before me took my breath instead. I finally understood.

There before us, coiled and ready to strike, was the reason Cindy was not moving. I finally heard the distinctive, dry warning sounds of a desert rattlesnake.

My ears were opened and my senses set on fire with understanding. Prayers of thankfulness flooded my heart.

I felt God’s protective presence that day as we remained quiet and the danger left its undulating pattern across the sandy dune and out of sight.

I was reminded then as I am today of how vitally important it is to be aware of how God chooses to speak to us.

He speaks to us in countless ways, but sometimes to hear His warnings or guidance we must be still and listen, and we’re wise to listen with patience.

The choices we make, our well-being, and occasionally our safety can depend upon how well we listen.

“A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’” Luke 9:35 NIV

I am a whisper in time. Down through the corridor of the ages my whisper echoes with feathery sweeps into the age to come.  An excerpt from my journal.

Has there been a time when you’ve listened and avoided danger?

Love,

Sally

Ray the Shape Shifter

I’m young. Crazy in love with horses, especially my Cindy.

This early Saturday morning shimmers in sunshine and light mist as I walk to the stable. I slow and savor the scent of apple blossoms filling the air from the orchard I stride by.

I love this walk and love having the barn so close to where I live in Richland, Washington.

Ray, owner/manager of The Barn, the local riding stable, slouches against the edge of the huge double wooden doors.

He waves and shoots me a grin, a piece of straw between his teeth, grungy straw hat shielding his sun-burnished face, a not-so-white, long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and boots. Ray’s soft-spoken, generous and everyone’s friend.

Ray’s taught me most everything I know about horses. He let me and a few other teens work mucking stalls, soaping saddles, lassoing horses for paying customers, and more at The Barn.  I’d work for an hour to earn an hour’s ride until I got my own horse. I’m boarding Cindy there now.

A breeze kicks up a dust-devil between Ray and me as I lessen the distance between us.

I’m wearing my crisp new straw hat. I’ve joined the town’s riding group, The Richland Ramblers. My hat’s part of the Rambler “uniform” I’ll wear when I ride Cindy in the Richland Day parade and rodeo this summer.

Ray wears straw well . . . in his hats and between his teeth.

He cocks his head at me and says “I see ya got you a new hat.”

I nod and proudly touch the brim, as I walk into the warm, dusty barn.

Ray arches an eyebrow and shakes his head. “Gotta shape it. Want me to show you?

Shape it? My crumpled pride and I hold my breath as Ray, the hat-shaping cowboy, lifts my new hat from my head and saunters out to the corral . . . toward the water trough.

I follow, close on his heels, trusting, hoping, praying. that he’s not going to somehow totally destroy my brand new hat.

And what in the world does the trough and my hat have to do with . . .

A lot.

I swallow hard as Ray nudges two horses aside, leans over the trough and plunges, no, drowns, my new hat beneath the water. Makes me think he’s done this before a time or two.

And then I watch Ray skillfully roll, push, pull, smooth and angle the now-soft, pliable straw hat. The crown is magically reshaped, the brim, artfully rolled to just the right degree. He works it over until he’s happy with it and hands it to me . . .

now shaped into a hat fit for a Rambler.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 NKJV),

I’m like my old straw hat. I was stiff and new and unbending once.

When I opened the door and said yes to Jesus, I didn’t want to be conformed to this world anymore. I wanted God to shape me, mold me, and transform me in every way—mind, heart, body, and spirit—that I might be acceptable to Him.

God does that.

He takes us, raw and unfinished, as we are, and shows us His Way. He loves us through every roll, push, pull, and smoothing we experience, anointing us with His presence moment by moment.

Have you asked the Lord to help you do some reshaping?  Has it been easy? difficult? a challenge?

Love,

Sally

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Ongoing Event: June 26 through July 7, 2015. An interview What Floats Sally Chambers’ Boat? And a Book Giveaway  Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Upcoming Event: July 15  An interview with the main character in The Stonekeepers, Lexi Christensen along with a book giveaway. Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Upcoming Event: Sunday afternoon, August 16, 2015, book signing. More information coming soon

Visit my Amazon Author Page at https://www.amazon.com/author/sallychambers

Novel – The Stonekeepers

 

Blue Edges

Lexi—Alexia Evengeline Christensen, grew up loving to race waves, beach walk, and sand dance on the tan sandy shores that ring her Nantucket Island home. No, that’s not an error in the spelling of her middle name, Evengeline. ☺ It’s deliberate and full of meaning, a meaning she’ll learn about along with you as you read her story.

Lexi, gutsy, impulsive, loyal, impatient, and more, the main character in my newly released novel, The Stonekeepers, stepped out of my imagination and lives within the freshly printed pages of her story . . . between the edges of of a book cover.

Edges . . .

Early morning, in the sandy, sunny regions of my memories, I walk the length of a long stretch of quiet beach.

The sea air held within the breeze that ruffles my hair is pungent with the scent of salt and seaweed.

In shades of beige and tan, squishy, damp sand moves beneath my feet as I walk the water’s edge.

Never-ending waves toss and reach to warm their white froth on the hot sand., the cacophony of their constant hiss and splash push away my cares and stress . . .

and I let them go.

Time slows as I stop my sandy walk and turn to face the sky and sea, their edges a contrast of ice blue calm and blue-silver shimmer on the horizon.

Sunlight glistens on undulating, wind-roughened water that looks as if its been feathered with a dusting of snow.And I wonder at how God keeps this great sea within the edges He firmly set so long ago.

 “When He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world” says Wisdom in Proverbs 8:28b-31a

We, too, are cradled within edges. We live and dance through a life full of choices, from a beginning toward an end that fades in the Light of the presence of the Christ—the Way, the Truth, and the Life—the supreme, life-changing choice.

A small rogue of a wave races toward me, daring me to run from it.

And I do. Backward. But not quickly enough.

I’m soaked from my knees down and give up in laughter, playing with the sea, racing with the receding water, losing to its speed. I pause, watching it dissolve into anonymity.

So unlike our Heavenly Father. He never changes, and promises never to leave or forsake us.

Edges, boundaries and limits have their place, and I’m thankful for them all as I walk in the riskier places of this earthly journey. But I’m just as thankful for the freedom I have in God. I stretch and grow and learn and experience, testing edges, limits, and boundaries, knowing He has set them.

I am not the sea.

I am me.

A child of God and free . . .

in Him.

He alone holds our edges and they are eternal.

Only God is the Alpha and the Omega of all creation. Who knows what more beauty and loveliness and wonder He may allow us to discover.

♥  Go. Race a wave. Run just a little farther, love a little deeper, try a little harder, walk a little taller, and ask where He is working. Then join Him.

Love along side Him.

Love,

Sally

I’ve wandered through thoughts and words here. Ramble along with me in your comments.