The best of it all is, God is with us. – John Wesley

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I am grateful that I can embrace the meaning of Emmanuel this year.

I am grateful for FRIGID temperatures on their way. It will feel like Chr-r-r-r-istmas.

I am grateful for bourbon balls with 120 proof alcohol, whatever that means, that made the office smell like a tavern and caused the best weekly project management meeting in the history of project management meetings, with the boss on the floor in a fit of laughter, funny comments and faces, thoughts that morphed into giggles and guffaws, a 3-person crowd wave to celebrate who knows what, and memories to last forever.

I am grateful that my Dad is going to spend Christmas in Florida with Aunt Patsy and Uncle Charlie.

I am grateful for another subtle reminder from my sister that I have become a complainer and need to get back to consistent gratitude and the counting of blessings.

I am still grateful that Jesus loves even me.

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I am grateful for cookies, cookies, and more cookies – baked, packaged, given, and received.

I am grateful for frosted sugar cookies…that someone ELSE makes.

I am grateful for a break from the norm this evening to go on a date with my Dad and my sister. We are going to go see “Big Sonia.”

https://bigsonia.com/

I am grateful for anticipation of a very nice Christmas Eve dinner with Joyce and Mike and then our Christmas Eve service afterwards.

I am grateful, because I am supposed to be grateful, and maybe if I say it enough, I will be – I am grateful for the busiest Christmas ever. That needs to be a junior high classroom play. Instead of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” someone needs to write, “The Busiest Christmas Season Ever.” It could be quite a hoot. Or a lesson.

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Between extra hours at work due to the entire support staff out for either the month or the last two weeks of the year, Christmas present shopping not yet a thought in the mind, cookies needing to be baked and packaged and delivered, company gone but rooms not ready for the next wave of company that arrives in four days, grandchildren coming to stay as soon as wave #2 leaves, thank you notes to write, an empty refrigerator to stock, a house to clean, volunteering to do, closets to clean out…

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And I will be so grateful for any moments of reflection and quiet and peace and calm and “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” and I will be grateful to see 2017 come to an end, with much anticipation for what 2018 holds for us.

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All I want for Christmas is…

 

bunnies.

and finches.

and throw in a little Presidential sanity.

and I’d even take some quality family time with laughter and game playing.

but I think what I would really like this Christmas, is

a return to the simple life.

more time to fit in the important things that seem to get lost in the busy.

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and a renewing in my heart, deep down, of the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Anjalie is 4

and P.S…

I would take a big package under the tree that contains this birthday girl who is four years old today, along with her siblings and Washington cousins, so that I could hug them all and my heart would swell.

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I am grateful for Christmas lists. Even when they are not very realistic. They offer hope and anticipation and heart swelling and lovely things.

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Mishmosh hodgepodge and grateful for it all.

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I am grateful for…

  • a friend who took this picture of our Blessings spoon and sent it to us.
  • a weekend with good friends and the new experience of cotton harvest.
  • neighbors  and a stepdaughter who look in on Dad as he recovers.
  • early mornings waiting on the sun to rise.
  • evenings at my office window on the 2nd floor, watching the afternoon sky turn to pinkish orange and seeing the first stars.
  • my 2nd grandchild’s birthday, 8 years old today and so very beautiful.
  • entertaining video conferences with my co-workers.
  • Christmas music, except for the hippo song and The First Noel and Go Tell It On the Mountain. I could do without those.
  • the fact that I live here and not in Alabama tonight.
  • new sweaters.
  • anticipation of Sam coming home from his trip.
  • happy dogs.
  • phone calls with grandchildren who know me and want to talk to me, even when I cannot understand a word they say other than “Ama!” and “Yes!”
  • sweet stories from a friend who is fostering a little girl.
  • a dust pan.
  • new stamps.
  • a really good devotional.
  • work, work and more work that keeps me busy and productive.

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Soft hearts make friends.

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I know my heart still works when I hurt for someone else’s pain. It’s not fun to hurt, whether it is my hurt, or whether it is referred pain that we feel on behalf of someone else. But it IS a good thing when we are reminded that our heart still works and is soft and pliable instead of hard and brittle.

I’ve had opportunities this week to hurt on behalf of others – friends who are contemplating beginning life apart rather than together after many years married, a friend who finds herself in a tough situation after being rejected by her grown daughter, my dad who sat at the kitchen island this evening with a bruised and swollen face and eyes that look like he hurts all over, and he does.

I am grateful tonight for opportunities to hurt for someone else, reminders from the Holy Spirit to mention specific names in interceding prayer.

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I am grateful for my sister who stayed with Dad all day long on Tuesday and made sure he was okay.

I am grateful for an evening with a friend and conversation around the table to let him grieve a broken relationship.

I am grateful for text messages from a mom who is heartbroken and trusted me with her heartache.

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I am grateful for a hurting heart for others on this Friday evening as we drive south.

And I am grateful for anticipation of seeing my CBA friends tomorrow who have hurt with me and have interceded on my behalf. It will be a soft heart reunion tomorrow.

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