It Never Gets Old

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We had the pleasure of watching Disney’s Candlelight Processional.

We’ve seen this before. Whoopi Goldberg was the guest narrator. Disney’s professional singers were front and center. High schools from around the country were invited to be a part of it. It’s visually spectacular, and the music fills my soul.

A seasonal gift that never gets old.

The fact that we had to stand because of a late arrival didn’t detract from the wonder of the experience. (Though high heels for some of the gals did cause a tad bit of fashion anguish.)

I’d seen this enough that I knew order of songs–and felt quite comfortable singing along with the choir. Several of us did. Some of my friends sing wonderful harmony.

Not me so much. I bring the joyful noise. It’s that goofy dad joke when a son comments that he’s going to choir practice and the dad reminds him to bring his bucket–to hold his tune.

I need a bigger bucket.

That didn’t deter me from adding my voice to theirs. Particularly the Hallelujah Chorus, where I must have changed key eight times. But it was the soulful joy of being part of something bigger than me, something truly beautiful where my meager croaks couldn’t destroy the communal glory.

What surprised me was the number of people on cell phones, texting away during the performance. They were there but not. images-1None of what was happening on stage seemed to grab their attention.

They weren’t wowed.

Some have seen this many times. Repetition can eliminate wonder.

The story itself, the birth of the One who will save the world from darkness, might not have been a light bright enough to draw them away from the routine of texts to the possibility of hope.

Some truth can do that to me. I hear something so many times I think I have it down. I don’t need to pay attention.

My Dad used to say, “It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind.” A valid truth that I would quickly forget when I was fighting with my sisters over an assumed wrong.

Then there’s the truth that every choice I make has a consequence. That one usually goes out the window when I want something so much in the present that I ignore the consequence down the road. Until I have to deal with it. Then whining enters the picture.

Truth is like that. It can feel old because I don’t want it to be absolute.

Whether I believe in a truth or not doesn’t make it not true. That’s a life reality.

The story of Jesus, giving up heaven to come to earth as a Man to save us from our sins, is a story many have heard and choose not to believe because it doesn’t fit their life choices. If what He says is true, it should have impact on how we live. It’s far easier to ignore it as truth or dismiss it as untrue.

Our belief, one way or the other, doesn’t affect the truth of His gift of grace.

I’ll enjoy the wonder. The amazing gift of love and forgiveness.

It really doesn’t get old.

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Did You Hear What I Just Heard?

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Christmas is coming. And it’s getting noisy.

Walking into stores of any kind, there’s a crescendo of sound that always seems to accompany Christmas. Kids loudly pointing out what they want. Folks talking over the din. Laughter. Cheery holiday greetings.

And the music. The wonderful Christmas music. The same songs played over and over, but I’ve not tired of them yet.

I love it all.

As calming as Thanksgiving is, there’s an energy to the Christmas season that catches me up and sails me along on the waves of Christmas joy. It’s a seasonal upper.

I recognize the noise only after I’m out of it. When I get back home and there’s no one there.

I combat the quiet with a new toy John got for his birthday.

Her name is Alexa.

She’s this delightful gizmo that you talk to and tell her to do things. Playing specific songs. Louder. Quieter.images-2

I talk to her quite a bit when I’m alone. I tell her to play a song, and I most likely will change my mind and want another one part way through the first verse.

Because I can.

I’ve seen the commercial where you can hook her up to the specifics of the house and have her turn on sprinklers and turn off lights. I’m not that technologically talented.

I don’t care.

I just want her to play my music.

When the grands were over Thanksgiving weekend, they were yelling over each other, trying to tell Alexa to play their song. Sydney would ask for “Eye of the Tiger”. She’d be interrupted by Isley who asked for “Uptown Funk”.

Two-year-old Ryken would stand on the chair and get as close to Alexa as possible. His enunciation is a bit creative and his voice is quiet, but he would consistently ask for “Frosty the Snowman.”

Alexa, being a kind, thoughtful technological device, would tell him she couldn’t understand the question and would continue playing whatever had been on.

Ryken persisted. Someone would ask for him, and Frosty would be played. His face lit up like the Christmas tree.

His highlight came when Alexa finally understood what he said, and he was able to get Frosty to play–all by himself.

Quiet persistence is often the best voice to listen to.

It’s easy to fill my head, my space, with noise. Sometimes I do it for the sheer fun of the energy of loud.

Other times I do it because I want to ignore whatever is bothering my mind.

Jesus uses that still, quiet voice to speak to me often. I don ‘t hear Him say words, but I know the things I’ve learned to be true, and He reminds me when I’m straying, when I know better.

The enemy of my soul, the devil, speaks in a loud, insistent voice that refuses to be tuned out. Demanding my attention.

What he says is lies. Things that aren’t true about me anymore.

It’s easier to listen to the loud than tune in to the soft.

It’s easier to believe the lies than to hold fast to the truth.

I’m choosing to listen to Jesus. What He says I am. To ignore the lies of the one who wants to see me destroyed.

It’s not easy. But Jesus hears. Better than Alexa.

Jesus, remind me of that truth again, will You?

 

 

 

 

When The Gift Is Greater Than The Sale

 

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Two terms that send chills through my being.

The invitation to shop NOW and get unbelievable deals for Christmas.

I’m not a shopper. I’ve serious shop avoidance issues.

I love a good deal, just like the next person. But tempting me to get out with a bazillion other shoppers who are, most likely, after the same one or two things on my list?

No thank you.

My girls embrace shopping with the joy of the hunt. The experience together of getting out early, waking up with venti-sized Starbucks coffee, and persevering till the deed is done.

I just get overwhelmed. What am I missing?

Tucked in between these two massive and personally dreaded shopping days, though, was the sweetness of a wedding. Our neighbor, Lindsey, married the love of her life and her best friend, Colby.

We got to know Lindsey years ago when she and her family moved back from overseas. She was being introduced to the home 15219621_10157823788665187_4462609907674856247_nshe wasn’t familiar with.

It didn’t slow her down.

Perky and personable, she would drop by our house and hang out. Chatting with whoever was there. She and our daughter, Debbie, got to know each other and then bonded over sports–Deb with soccer, Linds with lacrosse.

As time passed and schedules got more crowded, we saw less of Lindsey. Sports eats up a lot of time. She didn’t begin her lacrosse career till she was a freshman in high school, but her attitude was one of perseverance with a great work ethic. She worked at learning and improving.

She became good because of who she was. Playing eventually at Liberty University, a Division 1 school.

A tough little gal who was challenged with injuries and setbacks, she never quit. She persevered and played her heart out.

Getting married would have to be to a man who could handle her strength, spunk and character.

Enter Colby.

They got to know each other through sports. He played golf.

As her dad mentioned during the ceremony, you meet someone when you’re sweaty and focused on the game, you see more of the real person. Not a lot of space to dress it up.

Being at this wedding was a reminder of what was real. Both of them are followers of Jesus, committing their marriage to Him because He’s their foundation. They have values that reflect an eternal mindset. Their wedding wasn’t their end game. It was the the gift of the beginning of their lives together.

It was a respite in the midst of the bargains and shopping and pressure that’s become Christmas. Remembering that Christmas is really about the coming of the One who gives us life, hope, forgiveness and love.

The ultimate gift. One of eternal value. Not one we lose interest in, that breaks or becomes outdated in a year.

Congratulations, Lindsey and Colby. Your gift to us was the reminder of hope and love.

Better than a Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal any day.

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The Surprise Gift Of Gratitude

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It’s the forgotten holiday. The one sadly placed between Halloween and Christmas.

Thanksgiving.

It’s the forgotten word. The one sadly placed between “demand” and “not enough”.

This is my favorite holiday of the year. I love the spiritual truths of Christmas and Easter–they’re the basis for my hope. I love Independence Day for the joyous celebration of us as a nation. I love Valentine’s Day for the intentional focus on and valuing of loved ones.

What makes Thanksgiving so special is the pause.

Retail outlets don’t know what to do with it because they’re in such a hurry to promote Christmas buying. Makers of lawn ornaments are limited to pilgrims and turkeys. Decoration places hope the leftovers from Halloween will suffice.

It’s not as commercialized. It’s not as overdone. It’s a chance to rest and reflect on how being in America–no matter who you are, what your political ideology, ethnicity or gender–is still better than being almost anywhere else in the world.

A truly American holiday, the opportunity to think through the things we can be grateful for is a gift. So often I look at what doesn’t work–how our country feels broken at so many levels, how people hurt one another without cause, how we can be calloused to the stories of those around us–and bemoan how hard life is.

This side of heaven, life will never be comfy, cozy and safe. It will be hard.

Gratitude, however, is a gift of perspective. It’s choosing to look at the small things–tiny things–that are gems of joy in the midst of the often-focused-on manure of life.

It’s easier for me to come up with words like disappointed, discouraged, unhappy, unfulfilled and dissatisfied when I look at my circumstances. Those words pop out like unwanted blemishes. I try to cover them with makeup–like a smile or positive word–because they just don’t look good.

Blemishes are often the result of systemic issues.

I need to assess my heart. To see what’s happening there that makes me choose the snide and snarky rather than the kind and caring.

I’m a very blessed woman. Jesus has given me a hope I can’t provide for myself. He’s gifted me with complete forgiveness, total acceptance, unconditional love. He knows and values me.

In response to the wellspring of blessing, I need to respond with gratitude. Not react to my circumstances with disappointment and dismay.

Choose my words.

Words like grateful, joyful, thankful, encouraged.

Not easy when my focus is negative. Which comes from living in a broken world.

It means looking at what’s good in my life.

The people I love in my life. I got out of bed this morning. I’m able to move, communicate, engage with others. A roof over my head. A means of getting around.

And hope for my tomorrow.

Thanksgiving is the pause we need to think about our bigger picture. Not more work. Not more stuff. Not more power.

More of what counts.

What counts in your life?

Whose Voice Do You Hear?

 

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“Mom. Mom. MOM. MOTHER. DAYLE!”

I’m used to hearing this. A lot. From the sides of soccer fields to the middle of malls to somewhere in the great outdoors. I’ve been told I’m unobservant. I don’t pay attention. My mind wanders.

What else is new?

I’m a big picture person. Details escape me like it was my job. Not that I don’t see the necessity of them.

I miss them.

When my kids or the grands begin calling me, I’m often talking to someone else, focused on an important issue. Or in my own Neverland.

I’m honestly good at listening. I need to be intentional about it, my focus in the moment. If my concentration is elsewhere, I don’t hear others.

No matter how much I care for them or want to be engaged in conversation with them.

The kids have learned to change their intonation. Become more insistent.

Louder.

Listening is a skill I need to develop to a higher degree. There are times when I’m listening to someone and I’ve somewhat tuned them out because I’m crafting my response. Thinking how I can fix them. How I can help them. How what I have to offer is more important than hearing the rest of the story.

How deluded can I be?

Being heard by others is one of the things that people find most encouraging. It reflects an attitude of respect to someone when we pause in our busyness to hear them out. Not fix them. Not offer sage advice. Really listen. Hear the heart.

When I take the time to listen, I’m hearing between the lines. Catching the nuances of emotion and attitude. It’s not just what is being said, but how it’s being communicated.

The better we know a person, the deeper the relationship, the richer the communication will be. The more significant the need to listen. We’ve a better understanding of those we care for; there’s a bigger story. They need to know that we bring that understanding and heart to the conversation.

God speaks to us with that urgency and heart. A bigger picture that reflects His commitment to knowing us, loving us, pouring His grace and truth out on us.

If we’ll hear His voice.

There are areas in the world, in our own country, where folks feel God isn’t worth the conversation. Where people don’t want to listen to Him. To hear what He might have to say about caring for them. Forgiving them. Giving them hope. In some areas, He’s become nothing more than an expletive. Or not even acknowledged as existing.

And yet, when we’re despairing, dying inside, hurting so much that life doesn’t feel worth it, the first One we turn to is God. Calling to Him to hear us.

When we’ve never listened to Him before.

Here’s the beauty of who He is. If we’re serious about seeking Him, He hears us. If we’re looking for help from Him, recognizing we’re at the end of our rope, we will find Him.

He waits for us to hear His voice. And respond.

There’s a lot of noise in the world. Everybody wants to be heard.

The quiet voice is God’s. Speaking love to our hearts, waiting for us to respond.

Can you hear Him now?