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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Our Creator Sets Limits

It’s an honor to have Pat Luffman Rowland guest-posting this week. I’ve long been a fan of Pat’s writing, and you may have seen the link to her blog, Prayerful Pondering, in the sidebar. Many of her posts have caught my attention and imagination, but this is one post that I asked if she would share with us. It’s brief, but powerful, and it sets in place a parallel to our lives.

Pat writes:

Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt”? Job 38:8-11 (NIV)

The ocean is my favorite part of nature. I love to watch the rhythmic movement of the waves, hear the sound of them rolling into shore or crashing on rocks.

The waters have a vastness that seems wild and free, yet it is restrained by God’s command, the boundaries He set.

How can I trust that God’s boundaries for the ocean will hold?

How can I walk by the edge of the water, and not be afraid that a boundary will give way and I will be swallowed up?

It is by faith in the One who created the seas and determined how deep and wide they would be, by faith in the One who spoke that they might come so far and no farther.

Such is how we must trust God with the problems and perils of our lives. Sometimes it seems trials go on forever, pile one upon another. We begin to ask if God has forgotten us when relief is slow to come.

It helps to think of the ocean and how God has it in control. Just as He limits the oceans’ reach, He limits how much His children go through. We don’t always understand our tribulations, but God has said He uses all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

We must place our trust in that word from God. We must trust that the same One who created the boundaries for the seas, created limits for how much happens to us. We must trust that all will have its place in forming us for eternal life.

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The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:27 (NIV)

A little about Pat.

Pat Luffman Rowland1Pat Luffman Rowland doesn’t recall a time she didn’t believe in God or know that Jesus was His Son and our Savior, but she made her profession of faith and was baptized at age twelve. She will never forget the experience of understanding she belonged to the Lord! The sun became ten times brighter and it was as if she could hear angels sing—a supremely joyful moment.

Pat has an undergraduate degree in Healthcare Consumer Relations, a master’s in Religious Studies, and worked for twenty-seven years in healthcare. She’s retired and lives in a suburb of Memphis with her two cats. Her daughter, Kristi, and son-in-law, Mark, reside in Georgia and are the delights of her heart.

Pat is active in her church, First Assembly of Memphis, and the church school, First Assembly Christian School. A writer, in addition to her blog, Prayerful Pondering, her work has appeared in devotional publications including The Upper Room, United Methodist Reporter, and Presbyterian Daily.

♥       ♥

Sally’s note~  Thank you, Pat, for sharing your blog post with us. I’m thrilled to have you as a guest and hope you will bless us with your wisdom again soon.

Have you sometimes felt slammed by wave after wave of things happening that just don’t seem to quit? You felt your prayers weren’t heard, that you wouldn’t survive? And just as you were about to “go under,” by faith, you prayed once more and dug in your heels.

And now, in retrospect, something changed, things eased and were somehow resolved.

Did the Lord perhaps impose limits, boundaries for you?

We are beloved. The Lord walks with us through it all.

Are you a survivor, thankful for His gracious limitations?

Pat and I would love for you to leave a comment on how God has set limits in your life.

Blessings!

Sally

Walk in Beauty

Oh Great Spirit, whose breath gives life to the world, and whose voice is heard in the soft breeze; we need your strength and wisdom.

Cause us to walk in beauty.

Give us eyes ever to behold the red and purple sunset.Make us wise so that we may understand what you have taught us.

Help us learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.Make us always ready to come to you with clean hands and steady eyes,

so when life fades, like the fading sunset, our spirits may come to you without shame.

Amen

A traditional Native American prayer, and my heart so easily turns to God as I repeat it. I found it in the back of an old hymnal a long time ago, and the words never fail to impart a sense of peace, serenity, and oneness with our Heavenly Father.

“Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is His treasure” (Isaiah 33:6 NKJV).

“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17 NKJV)

Do you have any unusual prayers or blessings you enjoy? I’d love it if you’d share one in the comments.

With clean hands and steady eyes, may the Lord cause you to walk in beauty, strength, wisdom, and understanding with Him, every day.