In some households during this season, four candles become the centerpiece of dining tables. They are called Advent candles. At dinner time candles are lit as the family looks forward to Christmas. The candle on the first Sunday of December represents hope, the second Sunday peace, the third joy and the fourth love. Some add a fifth white candle, which is lit on Christmas day, signifying the Advent of Christ. While this hasn’t been my family’s tradition, I like it! I can imagine that each evening their children take turns lighting the candles as a daily reminder the birth of Jesus means so much more than Santa Claus and gifts. Along with hope and peace, tomorrow the joy candle will be lit. With or without candles, let’s rejoice, remembering this Advent of his birth and knowing a future Advent is coming!
Do you find it hard to admit your mistakes and weaknesses? As for me, some of them I can laugh about, but others, not so much. The older I get the easier it is, but it’s still not easy. After living a lot of years, with a lot of life’s experiences under my belt, both good and bad, I like to think I mostly make right decisions. So when I fail big, I don’t like to talk about it. At times I don’t have to because it’s all too apparent anyway. (Has everyone else figured out I’m not perfect except me?) But, guess what, God can use our mistakes and weaknesses to his glory. Jesus is not called our redeemer for nothing. He can and does and will continue to forgive and redeem us. It’s a promise!
Many of you, if not most, are familiar with Zoom, that computer software platform that allows us to share church services, Bible studies, prayer groups and holidays together virtually. But, have you ever heard about a Zoom tea party? My great granddaughter’s 7th birthday will be celebrated by way of the Zoom app this year and it will be a tea party. I’ll be dragging out my fancy china tea pot and cups bought in London years ago. (I knew those would come in handy some time!) And, of course, all will be wearing hats, most of which belonged to my hat-lady mother. Along with celebrating a member of the newest generation in our family, we’ll be remembering her great-great-grandmother at the same time. It’s hats on apps this year! Happy Birthday, Ella!
As I go out to pick up my newspaper I see my neighbors’ two sons playing at football. I say “playing at” because it’s one on one. One boy kicks the ball high in the air. Then his brother grabs the ball and runs. The kicker chases after his brother, tackles him and down they go. Back and forth, taking turns being the kicker. They notice me and wave. Good kids! I’m sure they have their disagreements, as brothers often do, but overall they seem to get along well. Brothers who care about each other have each other’s backs. They may have their own fights, but the one who tries to harm his brother had better think twice. According to our Savior, all are our brothers and sisters, and even when we disagree, we are to love and care about them. Only through his grace!
As I’ve shared before, every year I make homemade egg noodles for Thanksgiving, the old-fashioned kind from scratch, kneaded, rolled out and dried enough to cut into strips. It’s a tradition passed down to me from my mother and her mother before. Noodles are made up of just lots of flour, eggs and chicken broth, but my family loves those noodles. I don’t know about you, but this Thanksgiving is different. Instead of joining other family members and friends around my daughter’s lovely decorated tables, we’re celebrating by way of Zoom. But I’m not unhappy. I have so much to be thankful for. I still made those noodles. And, guess what? I got a delicious turkey dinner in exchange! My daughters rescued my Thanksgiving! God’s blessings to all!
As I kneaded the dough, I thought of my mother and my grandmother and her mother before her who did the very same thing. It gave my good feelings! Every year a day before Thanksgiving I make egg noodles from scratch, following the recipe written in my mother’s beautiful cursive handwriting. Making noodles for a large family is messy and time consuming and not the healthiest food choice, so I make them only once a year. Although this year our family won’t be dining together face to face, we are making our traditional dishes. May we all find a way, even this year, to share God’s blessings with family and friends and those not so fortunate as ourselves. We have so much to be thankful for!
“We’re not doubting that God will do the best for us; we’re wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” This quote from the collected letters of C.S. Lewis hit home. Your will be done, Lord, just don’t let it hurt! Have you ever prayed like that? I have. It’s not so much physical pain I dread, though I don’t like that either, but mental pain. We live in a world where bad things happen to good people. None of us or our families are immune. So I believe most of the bad that happens to us comes from the evil world we live in and from our own human weaknesses and bad judgment. In my experience it’s not God who brings the pain; I’m the problem and it’s God who comes to the rescue with his healing and redeeming grace. (What! Did I just disagree with one of my most favorite authors!)
Life goes on. The sun rose today. God is still on his throne. No matter if our preferred candidates didn’t win this election year, we can make the best of the coming four years. It’s not easy, I know. We have chosen sides in this politically divisive country and follow our preferences much as we do our favorite sports teams. (And, unfortunately, even this year, I can still get excited about the Dallas Cowboy games!) The political choices we make are much more important, and affect so many more lives. But, we have to remember we are followers of our perfect Savior, not followers of imperfect political leaders. No matter the winners, they are not going to fix everything that’s wrong in this country. As much as they might like, they can’t. Our only hope is in Jesus Christ.
Went out to water my plants on the patio without noticing fire ants on the hose. Yikes! Now I have stings on both hands, which means tiny blister-type pustules, which means after the sting goes away, my hands will itch like crazy for several days. When I was transferred to California many years ago, we heard fire ants were on their way north into Texas. It was much like we hear about murder hornets these days. So, when I retired and moved back, the tiny buggers were here to greet me. They love my big yard where they can build their mounds. The mounds are easy to find but those nests down in the grass aren’t. I fight them all the time, but I never totally get rid of them. Really, weren’t mosquitoes, chiggers and every variety of poisonous snakes enough!