Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lost & Found

Oh the joy of finding lost treasure!!

Last July my husband Vinnie and I flew to Hartford, CT for my in-laws 25 year wedding anniversary. We packed light and I made sure to place all my jewelry in a small zip lock baggie which I stowed in the inner pocket zipped up and hidden from either interested persons, TSA covert thieves or quick fingers of any kind.

I was very good about hiding that jewelry. So good about hiding it that I never saw it again.

In that baggie was a crystal cross my parents gave me on a cruise they took two years ago. It was sentimental for several reasons. The first reason I enjoyed wearing that cross is naturally because I love the cross and I love Jesus and I wear my cross proudly. The second reason that cross was special to me is because I no longer speak to my parents. For reasons too lengthy to get into here and now, God is working on my parents and me. I trust our time away from each other will be fruitful and lead my parents to the foot of the cross.

Also in that baggie was a silver and gold chain that my husband had bought me for Valentine's Day three years ago. I had always said if I had a chain with silver and gold, why would I need another chain?? That chain did come in handy, as it was the perfect length - 16" and coordinated with silver and gold.

A pair of gold drop earrings with a tiny flourish - a fleur de lis at the base I fondly remembered stuffing in that baggie at the very last minute before jumping in the car to catch our flight. Lest I forget a pair of antique silver earrings with precious pink stones that matched a pair of pink aurora borealis studs were also contained within the confines of that ziploc. I never did wear those antique pink dangly earrings to the anniversary celebration. Now why did I even pack them to begin with? Nevertheless - that bag was not to be found.

Oh yes, I turned my purse inside out several times. I unloaded the contents of my carry-on a week after I checked my purse the second time. I did not find the baggie - that is - until today - 370 days later!

I have a beautiful jewelry armoire on the wall in my bedroom. You would never know jewelry is hanging behind the mirror on the wall! And I never thought of looking in a long blue box for my July jewelry stash! My jewelry armoire would not close. The mirror kept opening. I asked my husband to fix it. His solution? He pulled out five cardboard jewelry boxes and left them on the bathroom counter. For no reason I can recall, I opened every one and the last one contained my jewelry from July!!!

How you are wondering does this affect anyone other than me and why am I blogging about it??

Indulge me for a minute.

In Luke 15:6 the Lord tells us, "And when he comes home, he calls together [his] friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'

Let's back up and start at the beginning of Luke 15:

Luke 15:1 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.

Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, "This Man receives sinners and eats with them."

Luke 15:3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying:

Luke 15:4 "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

Luke 15:5 And when he has found [it], he lays [it] on his shoulders, rejoicing.

Luke 15:6 And when he comes home, he calls together [his] friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'

Luke 15:7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

Luk 15:8 "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds [it]?

Luke 15:9 And when she has found [it], she calls [her] friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!'

Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Another glory story found in Luke 15:11-31:

Then He said: "A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to [his] father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls [to me].' So he divided to them [his] livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.

But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him [anything].

"But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants." '

"And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

"But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put [it] on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on [his] feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill [it], and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry.

"Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.'

"But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.

So he answered and said to [his] father, 'Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.

But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.' "And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. Luke 15:32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.' "

What a wonderfully blessed God we have! In verse Luke 15:8 we learn of a woman who we all can relate to. The verse states: "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds [it]?

Then the very next verse Luke 15:9 what does she do? Luke 15:9 And when she has found [it], she calls [her] friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!'

Ahh...I read this and relate. My jewelry baggie. I rejoiced. I blogged to tell you all about it....but the story never does end with us. True believers in Christ know there is more to the story than treasure which is temporarily lost.

See, we cannot ignore the verse just before Luke 15:8 (the woman's lost coins verse). Luke 15:7 states, "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." And just to make sure after we related to that woman finding her lost coin, the Lord gives us Luke 15:10, "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."And do not miss the placement of the quotations just to tie it all in together (I challenge you to go back up and check out the quotations and locate the beginning of the quotation Luke 15:8 - Luke 15:10.

So what does the woman who lost and found a coin have to do with the sinner who repents? Nothing - - and everything!

In my experience, I looked high and low for my necklace and several pairs of earrings. After all, though I had many more in my jewelry box, I still searched for what was lost. That which was lost was precious to me.

In this parable in Luke 15, we read one sheep was lost. Ninety-nine were safe in the flock. What did the shepherd do? He went after the one. Yes, there were 99 but that one lost sheep was precious. So the search was on...

The father in the story (Luke 15:11) symbolized our eternal Father God in Heaven. What impressed me so very much is that in Luke 15:20 we read, "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him." His father saw him from far away. So his father was waiting? Looking? Searching though he had another son? His son was precious to him and his son was lost. So the search was on...

We are lost apart from God. Jesus died apart from God (Hebrews 2:9). Yes, we know Jesus died for us "by the grace of God" as in Hebrews 2:9. See, Jesus died experiencing his suffering as a full human being - just like the rest of us, apart from any divine intervention or supernatural relief (cf. Hebrews 5:7, 12:2-3) so that we would not have to experience being lost apart from God.

Just about 12 years ago I realized just how lost I was apart from God. I had a 'hole in my heart' all my life. I searched but could not find anything to fill that hole in my heart. All the stuff and false religions I sought after did not plug up that hole. Only Jesus Christ filled the hole in my heart. I stopped searching. I was no longer lost. I rejoiced with the angels in Heaven. I was found (Romans 10:9-11)!

My life is precious to Him. Your life is precious to Him. Your life is more precious to Him than anything. Matthew 6:19 & 20 tell me what I need to know about eternal treasure : Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: Mat 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

Quit searching for lost coins, jewelry or other. Yes, finding sentimental items is cause for celebration. But finding the Lord Jesus who has waited at the top of the hill all your life is worth more than anything we could hold precious this side of Heaven.

Run to Him.

He's been waiting for you to come home. He has been watching you from afar. Romans 10:9-11. He has the feast prepared.

What are you waiting for???

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Flea Powder & Sin

Flea problem. Help! It's been 5 days. I have tried everything! And still each of my five furry feline friends have jumping, running, disease carrying biting insects running from my flea comb.

I am obsessed with figuring this out. I am a natural girl, though and I will not give in the chemical craze. And so, though this adventure becomes tricky. I realized today this flea eradication challenge is alot like life. How you ask? Allow me to explain.

I had bought a product a year ago called Only Natural Pet All-In-One Flea Remedy. Here's what sold me: 'Comprised of diatomaceous (dye-atom-ay’-shus) earth, or "DE," a mineral substance formed by the fossil remains of prehistoric algae, this powder is fine and smooth to the touch. While non-toxic to people and pets, at the microscopic level, it is razor-sharp and is lethal to insect pests like fleas and ticks, whose shells are cut as the powder covers their bodies. Fleas, along with their eggs and larvae, become dehydrated and die within hours when exposed to this powerful substance.' Sign me up!

And so, when my dog got fleas, I was ready. And it worked! I felt empowered, successful in saving the environment and confident in knowing I would be prepared to battle and win the war on fleas!

And so, I became a spokesman in my world. I scooped powder out into small ziplocs and gave to friends planning to go camping with their pets, I gave it to my animal rescue friends for the kitten rescues. I sang its praises!

I wrote a glowing customer review on the website I bought it.

Then came the test. All five of my very long haired cats got a flea infestation. I was stumped. For my old dog had gone on to Heaven. She could not have brought fleas in from outside. And my cats are all indoor cats. They lounge on the screened in patio which is screened in with very fine mesh. I have not one stitch of carpet in my home. Impossible!!!

Then I realized how it had happened. Our town has suddenly had a rise in the stray cat population. A Momma cat had been seeking shelter in our backyard under a coconut palm. Her kitten litters had been pouncing through our yard for almost a year. And so I realized in friendly kitten fashion, they must have come close to the screen fleas and all. And fleas jump. I didn't know that.

Without dwelling any longer in "How could this have happened?" I got busy. I powdered each cat - head and all. I forgot to powder their tails so I went back and did that. Then I waited the prescribed 3 days. I went back in with a flea comb. I saw dead flea bodies and I cheered.

But not so fast! A small rice-shaped black body of armor rapidly disappeared into thick fur and was gone. No! No! No! I had just washed every linen, towel in the house. I had powdered everything and vaccumed, then thrown countless vaccum bags away. How could they have survived? But sure enough, as I examined all five cats, each had a few live fleas who ran for their lives through powdery fur.

And so, I doubted that this powder was working. I went to the pet store and contemplated giving in and getting those dreaded chemicals. However, I did not give in. I bought a natural herb infused spray despite the advice of the clerk. She shook her head as she told me, "I know it is expensive and you don't like chemicals, but Advantage is the only thing that will work."

I sprayed the kitten. I waited a bit for it to dry. I had a new plan. I would spray the head and then let the fleas run to the body. I would powder deeper to the skin so they would have to walk on it! I had renewed hope despite the fact that I got bit by a flea. It didn't hurt, but it bothered me because as I saw the little blood spot I realized it was my blood. And I felt bad because I knew that the cats were experiencing many bites all day long. Not good.

Only two of the cats continued to have fleas for 3 days after the new plan. I resolved to comb each of them every day with a flea comb. I realized my plan would work if I dedicated myself to it. I had to surrender to the fact that it would not be easy but it would work if I stuck with it. For a week I combed each cat for 10 minutes in the morning. I enjoyed this time with them. I enjoyed this part of my day. They were so appreciative. They surrendered to me. And the best part of all is that no more fleas!! And the flea dirt was gone as well. I was relieved. This battle finally was won.

Or so I thought. See, I did not pay attention to the directions regarding flea eggs. I missed the part that said, "In general the difficulty and length of time required to win a battle against a flea infestation depends on the severity of the problem and the environment in which you live. Please keep in mind that fleas can remain in a dormant state for extensive periods of time, and natural flea remedies may need to be re-applied at regular intervals through the flea season to eliminate fleas completely". I had not realized that there would be a 'second wave' of flea infestation!

I had become eco-smart but direction following stupid. What to do?? I began the process all over again and waited. I hung on the promise that in a few weeks the problem would be behind me and I would manage better because now I was an informed flea battling warrior.

Yes, today I can proudly stand by the Customer Review I posted oh so long ago. I read many of the reviews recently and was struck by the diversity of responses. I wondered why it worked for some and not for others. And I knew. It was the committment and follow through that allowed for flea infestation victory or defeat. I realized the people that had reported success with the natural flea powder admitted that it was not easy, but it was effective. Those who had failed with the product complained about minor issues such as the way it smelled, how long it took to get rid of the fleas or how it made a "billowing powder dust" in the air when they applied it.

I pondered this experienced. I realized how much this adventure mirrored life. I know it sounds crazy, but sin in our lives can be represented by a flea. Hear me out...

Sin enters our lives. Often in seemingly impenetrable ways. I had not thought a flea could fit through the fine mesh in my screening, but it must have. We go to Church, we pray and read our Bible every day. How could I crave a glass of wine when it's only lunchtime on a Monday? How did that cuss word slip out of my mouth when that guy cut me off on the highway? Why did those images cause me to fantasize about that guy? After all I am married!!

Sin enters our lives because we live in a fallen world. We would have to live in a bubble to think that sin will not enter our lives. But, like my experience with the fleas, we must be ready. Like the directions on the container, we must get a bath - a spiritual bath. Romans 10:9-11. For without the cleansing of the Lord, we will not be prepared for the next step. The powder needs a clean surface on which to fall. And in the same way, the Word (the Bible) needs a pure heart on which to land and stick.

Then just like the flea powder - we must wait. Sometimes there is nothing to do but wait in life. We trust and hope in the Lord. We wait for Him to give us direction, for healing, for guidance and help. But we know things are going to change - for the better. So we go about our day.

Like the flea powder, we may hear other reviews. These reviews come from "well meaning friends". They are not happy with the way you are acting. They give you one star because you are not serving them but instead you begin serving God. They don't want to be in your life anymore so they go somewhere else (the pet store) and choose a different version (an unhealthy chemical solution) because you are just not "working for them" anymore.

You stick to God's plan though it is anything but natural. You have the assurance based on what you know is right. And you don't give up. You know brighter days - flealess days are ahead. Oh - sin will still come a knocking. And in the same way, fleas lay eggs and eggs make fleas and they are out there. But if the fleas enter our house, they will die. Because we have a choice about what we allow. We do not have to be bit by the pests of this world and as a result fear we will be a victim of pestilence.

And we do not have to experience this life alone. I remember I got bit as I helped my cats. But getting bit allowed me to have more determination to help my cats get better. Likewise, Satan attempts to bite a believer who is helping another brother or sister in Christ. We must remember it is only a tiny representation of large scale suffering that we have been spared.

For Hell was not made for man. And Hell is very real if you do not Romans 10:9-11. The Bible says there will be gnashing of teeth. God gave me a visual once of what true horror could be in Hell. Imagine watching your body rot and your skull begins to have holes in it. Ever seen a maggot? It's really gross. And so imagine maggots and different worms (ie Fear Factor style) going in and out of your eye sockets - slowly. I know I know, you would not be able to see them because you no longer have eyes? Well I believe Satan being the evil cruel creature he is - would let you still see and feel though your body is decaying - for he wants you to smell dying, burning flesh because he wants you to remember that your flesh caused you to be there in the first place. So naturally Satan will use the flesh for every torture imaginable.

I mention the maggots and worms because of the distaste I had when I washed my kitten with the flea infestation. The fleas came out of every orifice. They were in a frenzied state as the water and shampoo hit every area of the cat's body. I wanted to stop what I was doing because I was horrified that those fleas were on his body to begin with. They just did not belong on that beautiful animal. And sin is the same. But Adam and Eve chose to disobey and so we have sin.

But we do not have to remain in sin. And so today I share my flea experience in sober reflection. It really is not so much about these horrid invaders, but it is about something much more important. It is about eternity. It is about your salvation.

Be cleansed. Be loved. Be protected today. Pray with me in the privacy of your home, in the library where you are reading this. Let's pray.

"Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank you for giving us these journeys through life. Thank you for the pests that give us pause. We want so badly to come to you and be cleansed. To be made new and experience everything You created us to be.

Lord, right now I confess I do not know you as a friend, Savior, Lord. Help me to understand who You are. And how I can get closer to You. I confess I am a sinner. I am sorry for making a mess of my life. I surrender to you today. I acknowledge that Jesus came to the earth and died on a Cross for my life. He rose into Heaven. And He loves me. Thank you for saving me and for giving me Eternal life today. I love You Lord. Amen."

If you prayed that prayer today, tell me about it! Email me at info@matesaver.com. I would love to hear from you.

Oh and if you would like natural flea remedy advice, don't ask me - read the directions - all of them - before you get started! Only Natural Pet All-In-One Flea Remedy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Jeremiah Principle - Jeremiah 1:10

God called the prophet Jeremiah to begin doing His work on earth in Jeremiah 1:10. God said to Jeremiah, "I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

There is a whole lot God said in that one sentence. The commas carry much work for Jeremiah to begin. No wonder we call Jeremiah "the weeping prophet." See, Jeremiah was a sensitive man. What we know from the Bible is that he was indeed bold before men but broken in the presence of God. His life was one big challenge. His ministry never did seem to "get off the ground." He was hardly considered a smashing success.

However, we know Jeremiah was a faithful servant of the Most High. He assuredly accomplished God's will. And in the end, isn't that all the Lord calls any of us to do anyway?

Let's take a sneak peak into the life of Jeremiah...

Eugene H. Peterson, "Jeremiah lived about sixty years. Across that life span there is no sign of decay or shriveling. Always he was pushing out the borders of reality, exploring new territory. And always he was vigorous in battle, challenging and contesting the shoddy, the false, the vile."

Jeremiah was a sensitive man. We have proof of this fact in his honest expressions of humanity's trials throughout the entire book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was so burdened for the people of God that he wept often. See, the people were backsliding. Kind of like today. And because he was the shepherd over the people, he stood firm. But he wept. Kind of like what God must be doing when He looks down on this world today...

Back to Jeremiah. The nation was literally dying (Jer 9:17-21). He soon would be joined by wailing women who would also weep for the nation. Jeremiah continued to speak. In Jeremiah 10 we "see" him speak to Israel (already in exile) and Judah. He told them they belonged to the true God, the living God, the everlasting Lord (v.10). He warned of idols. He taught them anything they trusted and served other than God was an idol. And that idolatry was a sin. And still they disobeyed. Kind of like today. Kind of like what God must be doing when He looks down on us today...

And so did Jeremiah give up? Did he have the proverbial "pity party?" No. Jeremiah wept. Jeremiah 11:19 and Isaiah 53:7 confirm that just like Jesus, Jeremiah did not fight the will of the Father. They willingly continued to do the will of the Lord. But still they wept.

Jeremiah was committed to the work and trusted the Lord to carry him (1 Peter 2:18-24). Although still he wept. He wept because he cared. He wept because he was a sensitive man. The Lord Jesus wept. Tears of blood. We have much to learn from both Jeremiah and Jesus (Matthew 16:14.

The Jeremiah Principle is this: God said to Jeremiah, "I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

Today, in our Christian circles, we often leave out the last command, "to build and to plant." Yes, we like pointing out sin, we like the prestige and power of leadership as the introduction of "talking points" in Sermons always inspires. We like the "redos" cosmetic and other. Whether painting a Church wall or restructuring a curriculum, we like the first part of Jeremiah 1:10. Alot. We like the last part less. For to build and plant takes time and often demands tears. Blood, sweat and tears, that is...

Paul reminds us in Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." See, if we do not adopt the building and planting part of Jeremiah 1:10 into our Churches, we have false hope (Jeremiah 14:10-22). False hope because our religious activities do not save us.

Jeremiah grieved over hte people's distant hearts. They were close to their own agendas and 'gods' but very far from the One True God. The messages of the false prophets gave the people only a false hope for peace and healing that never came (v19). They prayed to their idols. Their idols could not send rain. And Jeremiah wept. His tears lobbed the dry parched ground often. Just like how God must be weeping today.

We who take the entire Jeremiah 1:10 verse to heart most likely will agree we are in a foreign land. We are far from home. We are as the Jewish exiles in Babylon. We are living among those who do not accept our way of life. They mock us. They exclude us. They call us "intolerant." They sling mud against the Saviour and call it art. Yes, we must build and we must plant. And we must all weep over sin much more than we have wept in past days.

Jeremiah saw in Judah's exile a vision of the future day of national suffering (also called the time of Jacob's trouble in verse 7) when the Jews would go through tribulation. He also saw the hope in their restoration from exile. He envisioned in the latter days the promise of a reunion of Israel. He most likely did not weep then in sorrow but tears of joy.

God is faithful to His people (2 Tim 2:12-13) though we are not faithful to Him. God will not let our enemies take advantage of us. Yes, when we sin, like Judah, we will be corrected - in love. But still we must adhere to the Jeremiah Principle: God said to Jeremiah, "I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

After the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Jeremiah's broken heart was splayed for all to see as his tears covered the pages. His grief is evident in Lamentations.

But hope and faith was also present in the weeping prophet's lamentations. For God called many to build and plant. And in obedience, the people built and continued to plant. And so we can be assured that there will always be a remnant of the Lord's people that will follow God's Word - all of it. They will choose to build and plant. Plant and build. And no doubt God will look down on His chosen ones and smile. Just like He did in Jeremiah's day. For tears do not endure forever. Not even in the life of the Weeping Prophet Jeremiah.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Quiet Peace

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah...

I almost didn't blog today. I felt unable to express what was deep inside. I felt like a dry well. Unable to produce even one drop of something sustaining, but for God's mercy provision prevailed. And so here I am fingers flying across the keyboard. Because God provided. He always does. With the Holy Spirit hovering overhead, the Lord provided just what I needed to blog today.

And so, I hope this blog is comforting to you. I hope it is a reminder of how much we matter to the King (Psalm 139)! Individually. For each of us has a mission to explore. We must be still. We must allow God to quell the clatter. And in turn, He will quiet us. He will give us peace. That is His promise.

The book Treasury of Christmas Poetry contains a poem which provided much comfort to me today. 'Quiet Peace' was written by Amy Carmichael, who died in 1951 at age 84. Her story is quite amazing. You can read more about this amazing missionary at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Carmichael.

Though she lived and died over 50 years ago, Amy Carmichael blessed me today. After reading her poem, I realized I have willingly become distracted from the true reason for the Season. I had become a small cog in the 'Christmas Department'.

Today I slept in on this serene, gray and cloudly South Florida New Years day. The morning brought with it the sobering fact that I have not been quiet in a very long time. And so, coffee in hand - sans television or mp3s, the noisiness in my world was restricted to the voices in my head. In the quiet morning hours, I searched high and low for a way back into the avenue of peace.

And so, I obediently waived the white flag of surrender as I realized peace was within reach. I then handed over the chattering in my head to the Prince of Peace. Peace overcame me and the chattering ceased. I walked to the bookcase in search of an unknown but long sought-after prize, and He handed me a blessed poem in the middle of a book. A book I had never before opened.

Quiet Peace
O Lord my heart is all a prayer,
But it is silent unto thee;
I am too tired to look for words,
I rest upon thy sympathy
To understand when I am dumb;
And well I know thou hearest me.
I know thou hearest me because
A quiet peace comes down to me,
And fills the places where before
Weak thoughts were wandering wearily;
And deep within me it is calm,
Though waves are tossing outwardly.

Ahh. Another breath - breathe deeply. For this is the sweet, fresh life-sustaining oxygen we only dream of inhaling as a child on a late afternoon Summer rainshower when we have nowhere to be until the street lights come on. And I dwelt in that timeless delayed celebration of Christmas that the world forgot to denote. I languished in His presence.

And then the sobering truth. I forgot about the sweetness of the connection with Someone greater than myself. I forgot about the Lord Jesus Christ waiting for me to strike the match and light the candles on His birthday cake. I forgot the words to the song in which I truly celebrate His birth, His life.

I have been running around in response to the chatter of the world. I have been baking all the cookies, wrapping all the gifts, sending all the cards. I have had no time for devotions, no time for prayer. No time for songs - birthday or other. No time for joy. Of course I have no strength because the Joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah). Of course I have no twinkle in my eye, for Santa is not the one who provides it.

No, the Lord Jesus Christ is the One I celebrate. And so, wash me afresh O Lord, wash me afresh! The peace is attainable. If only I will slow down and breathe in the fragrance of the Season. The fragrance which has not one hint of evergreen in it. It is the fragrance that is indescribable. And eternal. And oh so precious and yet attainable if only you confess (Romans 10:9-11).

For Amy Carmichael said it well. Quiet peace. And a calm comes over me. Because there is no good reason to not experience the calm in the storm that the Lord offers each of us. So be still. Find the quiet. Find the peace. It has always been there. But have we listened? No, we have not listened. Peace. Hear it. Peace.

Merry Christmas one and all. And a blessed birthday to the King! Let's light sparklers just so we can celebrate a bit longer....