one thing

It's impossible on New Year's Eve not to reflect on what's past and cast hope for what is yet to come.  I feel poised on the edge of something, and I'm ready to make 2012 happen in a very good way.

A few realizations from 2011 -

 - Now that I'm 50, I'm not nearly as concerned with looks as I am with attitude and perspective.
 - I'm more easily able to turn off the self talk that's played in my head for years (about myself and others) and I'm happy to see it go.
-  I really do remember how to drive a stick shift.
 - I'm amazed at the power of the mind and how it influences and determines every choice we make, from what's on our plates to what we believe about ourselves (right or wrong).
- God can be trusted through thick and thin, and is with me 24/7.  No one else can make that claim.

What is one thing you've learned in 2011, and what's your highest hope for 2012?

the best way

A bolt - a movable bar or rod that when slid into a socket fastens a door, gate, etc.

To bolt - a sudden dash, run, flight, or escape.

The same word, but with two very different meanings depending on the small word in front of it.  And the "to bolt" is what I've been using food to do for a good part of my life.

In Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth, she devotes her third chapter, "Resist the Inclination to Bolt", to this concept.  She aptly describes how we easily use food to escape the moment, get away from reality, and avoid facing what is going on right in front of us (and of course, we can put other words like money, drugs, or work in place of the word "food" above).  The more I re-read this chapter that I had read a year ago, the more I see myself blatantly in those pages, in those words. 

It is much harder to stay in the moment than to placate it with chocolate.  It is much easier to run to the kitchen than to face the emotional heartbreak that keeps coming through the door some days.  It is more difficult to watch your or your loved one's world crumble without eating it away as a temporary salve to the pain.

But the food doesn't fix a thing.  It can't.  That's giving it a power it doesn't have.

The good news is, we are more resilient than we think. If we will choose to do so, we can stand strong during the worst of moments and find ourselves still standing (and our cupboards still full and undisturbed) after the storm has passed.   Our answer is in Joshua 1, where God tells us, "Be strong and courageous!  I will never leave you nor forsake you." 

It stands to reason that if we have nowhere to turn, we will most likely consume something to conquer our feelings.  As believers, we have somewhere to turn.  We have somewhere to run.  We have somewhere to bolt. 

It's to God's everlasting arms.  

Try Him the next time circumstances have you reaching for the cookies.  I guarantee the results will be better than what food could ever give you.

(If you struggle with this food issue as I do, I'd love to hear from you.  Leave me a comment below and you will be read and prayed for.)

permanent christmas trees

I drove past our local garden center yesterday.  Their outdoor sign read, "Permanent Christmas trees."  Hmm.  That phrase made me stop and think a minute.  Permanent Christmas trees.....or, how about, permanent Christmas?

Every year, thousands of people go and buy a beautiful, live, cut Christmas tree to display in their home.  And every year after the season is over, thousands of people haul said tree out to the woods or the trash and dispose of it in a timely manner. 

It's served its purpose, done its duty, and is now to be tossed.  The same icon that was so necessary to herald in the season is put out to pasture, soon to be forgotten.

I'm afraid sometimes I do that with Jesus.  I feel the desperate need for Him for a season, and then things get better, easier, and I tend to take over.  And while I don't exactly haul Him to the dumpster when simpler days come along, soon there's a bit of dust on my Bible and I find myself shooting up quick prayers of apology that I don't have more time to spend with Him because life is good again and I'm just too busy.

Just like a permanent Christmas tree can be taken home, invited in, and planted in soil to root and grow, I need to remember that because I've asked Him to be there, Jesus is a permanent resident in my heart.  It's always Christmas, because the gift of Him is always there, walking with me day by day.  As He takes hold of my life and I find myself rooted and growing in Him, it becomes clear that there's no other place I'd rather be.

He's found a permanent home in me.

christmas light

Where are the Christmas lights?”
In my pre-dawn just-getting-up haze, I wondered why my sister who lived two hours away was texting me about holiday decorations.
I blinked the blur out of my eyes and looked at my phone again.  This time I was able to read her question.
“Where is the light that is Christmas?”

I knew exactly what she meant.

At this time of the year, when all seems merriment and and caroling and sleighfuls of joy, life still has ample room for grief and loss, sadness and pain.  Death has no calendar of holidays to avoid, and those left behind can find it hard to swing back onto the carousel of festivity that everyone else seems to be riding. 

Decembers can be difficult.

I've asked myself a similar question at times ... "Why is this happening? Where is the good? How can this possibly be Your plan?"

When I was growing up, at this time of year there would appear on the horizon a light far in the distance that we could see from our house.  I remember learning that it was the light on a Christmas star that was put up each year on an old lookout tower quite a few miles away. 

As a young girl I looked for it each December, and when I could gaze out our dining room window and see that little light, I knew the holiday season had arrived. 

For me as a child, it was the light that was Christmas.

Often in those Decembers there were rainy nights, snowy nights, foggy evenings. I'd look to the horizon and search with my eyes only to come up empty.  I couldn't see the light.  I knew it was there, but there were obstacles blocking my view and I just had to be patient and wait until the next night or the night after that when there would be clearer weather and I could see the twinkle of that star's illumination once again.

When I did, it made me smile.

In the December winter of life, be patient.  Jesus, the one true Light that is Christmas, is still there.  He hasn't moved.  He didn't leave.  He isn't going away.

You just need to wait for the weather to clear, and you'll see Him shining brightly once again.

And I bet it'll make you smile.

half a century

I'm 50.  Today. That's according to years. 

I realize there are different ways to say it.

I'm 5 in decades.

I'm half a century if you're going by that time frame.

I don't even want to know what I am in months or days though, thank you very much.

There's that phrase, "It's not the years in your life, but the life in your years that counts."  I can honestly say that is true. 

Someone asked me the other day how I felt about this landmark birthday.  I told her I was thrilled- I will wear it like a badge of honor.  To get to 50 really feels like something. 

Something accomplished. 

Something to be remembered. 

Something to celebrate.

Only God knows how many more birthdays I will have, so until that time....I plan on continuing to put life into my years while I remain close and thankful to Him. 

Now off to live my 51st year.....

Under the Wrapping

It should have been easy.  I had a small package to mail to my daughter but I was missing the right kind of paper to wrap around my makeshift box so that it could actually make the trip. 

I hunted.  I searched.  I cleaned out closets.  I tried cutting a brown shopping bag down to size but it came out too small.  I was getting frustrated.  Such a simple thing- mailing a package.  Such a frustrating roadblock - not having the proper supplies.

I remembered I had some hot pink wrapping paper stashed away.  She loves that color, I said to myself, and got out the roll.  Wow, I thought.  This will catch some attention in the mail room.

The first wrap around the package looked gorgeous, but the paper was so thin I knew it wouldn't hold up.  Thinking maybe a double layer would do the trick, I grabbed the edge to get a larger piece. As I unrolled it, out came the stiff center paper that was the core, the innards, the hot pink's support system.

It was sturdy.  It was thick.  It was brown.

It was exactly what I needed.

I realized the irony of the situation.  Who knew that underneath the bright color that caught my eye was the material I was seeking - what I'd been searching for all along.  I had to get to the end to find it, but when I did, I knew it was the answer.

How often do I wrap my life in the pretty stuff, trying to hold it all together, when actually what I am depending on is too thin to adequately enable my package to make its entire journey ?  If only I'd strip away all the surfac-y material that just looks nice but actually serves no purpose, I would get to my heart, my core, the me God created, and realize that He was there all along and has always been supporting me.

And that's how I want my life wrapped.