Joy…Full, Joy…Full

snowmanjoy closeonwreath1     There is a song now 107 years old that starts off Joyful, Joyful we adore Thee, God of glory, God of love…

With Christmas just six days away is our joy…full? Even in the absence of happiness, joy is to be our heart’s outlook…

Over 2,000 years ago an angel declared “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10 NIV)

Today is a tribute to a friend who may not still be with us this Christmas but who lived life with great joy, her name is Lorrie. Wife, mother, grandmother, friend to all – and daughter of God. Upon meeting her almost thirty years ago I thought the person who introduced her said her name was Glory. Being a new Christian, I thought ‘Wow, how spiritual’… Well if anyone should have ever been named Glory it was Lorrie. I have never known a more giving person, never known anyone who smiled at life the way she does, no one who ever brought glory to God more than she has…

A brain tumor has plagued her for a couple years – when she is gone she will be sorely missed. But guess what – her joy will indeed be great as the very one whose spirit indwells her and made her the joy-full person she is all her days, will be hugging her, restoring her, and calling to our hearts to remember her joy in Him…

I wish each of you a Merry Christmas – let joy rule no matter the rush, the mess-ups, the craziness, (even the sadness) of the world… Joy-full, Joy-full, adore Him, give Him the glory…

joy wreath1

 

Starry Night…

Starry Night1     Have you ever gone camping? How about a cruise? How about lived or visited an area without many lights? Far from man made lights, gazing up at the night sky, its breathtaking to see the number stars…

If the naked eye can see that many, just imagine…imagine how very many there are, each one unique…

I have never had the opportunity, as many of us never will, to gaze out into space through a powerful telescope – the pictures that have been recorded are a sight to behold…

Sometimes when I gaze at that starry night I don’t want to blink, I don’t want to forget, I want to see even more…

Eternity has been set in our hearts and in the perfection of eternal I can only begin to fathom what sights we might be able to take in…forever — flowers we’ve never seen, birds we’ve never heard, ocean depths we’ve never dived, vistas we’ve never climbed…endless and forever – and oh, the stars of the universe in their brilliance and colors our mind has never even imagined…

Imagine

Have you seen the internet pictures of the brightly colored frogs of the Amazon rain forest – there’s even more spectacular than these awaiting… Have you seen the pictures of the Northern Lights – there’s lights of colors we don’t know exist… Have you seen pictures of frozen beauty, coral reefs, rainbows from airplane view – these and more someday ours to behold — FOREVER!

This starry night go out away from the lights, look up, imagine…

FOREVER

 

Take My Breath Away…

 snow at morning1    How can we find the hush even in the rush… Find quiet for our souls… Let our breath be taken away???

In the excited face of the impoverished child opening a gift – let us give that his face can shine…

In the flurry of snow caught in the moon light, later breaking into a crystal clear morning…

In the shelter dog cleaned and groomed with red ribbon on his neck walking through his new home’s door…

In the crystal clear voice that sings Angels We Have Heard On High and Joy To the World and Silent Night…

In the great grandmother holding the next generation both staring in astonishment…

In the wounded soldier returning to cheers and hugs and kisses and his momma…

Breath taking moments aren’t in the gifts, in the decorations, in the programs, in the shopping… Take your breath away comes in the hush… When one more day is given to the ailing parent, a clear memory for even just a moment to the Alzheimer’s spouse, energy enough to open gifts by the child with cancer…

Breath taking is a God who won’t leave you as you are but constantly tugs at your heart, breath taking is His love so deep that He would trod the same earth we do, breath taking is a splintered and blood spattered cross, breath taking is His death given that we might live forever…

In the noise and chaos it is the silence of the moment that speaks to our soul and takes our breath away…

 

Shiny Friday…

shiny friday      I don’t do the mad rush and grab black Friday thing… Maybe I should, maybe I’m missing something. My idea of the ideal day after Thanksgiving is having my husband pull down the boxes of Christmas decorations…

Its a day of multiple benefits – the everyday stuff has to make way for those special decorations – leaving the dust showing. Dust bunnies have to be banished and a house cleaning just seems to beckon…

Finally the opening of each box holds surprises (occasional silver fish or spiders), lost items (last year I found a missing pair of glasses), and most of all memories (laughter, love, little hands)…

I could never be applauded for having a designer tree – over the years three children contributed numerous craft projects that adorn it top to bottom. I consider it the most beautiful I’ve seen…

When my children were at home their eyes would grow large with the lifting of each box lid – hands extended they wanted to put the most decorations on the tree. Was it bad that after they went to bed I would rearrange several (alright most) of those?

We have been using the same angel to top our tree for as long as we can remember. I found her at a garage sale years ago. She holds a light in each hand, and underneath her skirt is a little ring of lights. Last year she didn’t light up – oh no… I put her up anyway and pouted for a while.

This year I informed my husband “We need a new angel.” He grumbled “Why, we love the one we have?” Hands on hips I said “She doesn’t light up anymore.” Reassuringly, his eyes lit up “Oh, yes she does. I fixed her last year before we put her away.” Who knew he was sentimental about all those shiny things too…

 

 

Thankful Mudpies & Puddles

puddle jumping1     Go ahead, stomp in the puddle… Why not? It’s the stuff thankfulness and this time of year (really any time as far as I’m concerned) is made for. Puddles to splash in with bare feet or rubber boots. Heading into the holidays we need to look at the simple so we don’t get caught up in the must do’s…

Mud pies aren’t just for 3 year olds. I was putting in some new flowers by the front door and dumped out a pot of old dirt and mushed it up with water. Then I really looked – seeing the mud squish through my gloved hands, I couldn’t resist. I pulled off the gloves and…you know, I squished the mud through my fingers…and then…patted some together and held it up for inspection…

When I peered up towards the neighbors’ homes and sensibly put back on my gloves I wondered…Why are we so reluctant to have fun in the midst of…life? So when I rounded the corner to where the hose was (living in South Florida this can still be done in November) I kicked off my shoes and did a little happy dance in the puddle…

Less than one week from Thanksgiving and only, count them, 34 days until Christmas – before it all gets to you, make fun while your making pancakes (you know make some Mickey Mouses) or cut the sandwich in the shape of heart. Really want to let go – wear two color of socks (that’s what my granddaughter does, the brighter the color the better) and then show everyone.

Being thankful isn’t about all the obvious, it’s about all the extraordinary, wonderful little things – the dragonfly stopping briefly, the red petunia smiling up, the perfect sunset…

Dare you – stomp in the next puddle you find… (boots optional)…

perfect sunset2  dragonfly cropped1  red petuniasss1

EXTRAordinary…

??????????      Ordinary doesn’t exist – I have never seen an ordinary sunrise, an ordinary dragonfly, or ordinary child…

Have you beheld an ordinary starlit night, heard an ordinary thunderstorm, gazed into ordinary eyes, felt an ordinary kiss? How about an ordinary ocean wave, black bear, or geyser?

Even in the everyday – all is extraordinary – a best friend’s call, the buzz of the bee, the purr of a cat…

from phone 446

Ordinary only happens when we elevate self above others – and above God. Then the lined and weathered face becomes just another senior citizen, the train whizzing by just another delay, the Star Bucks clerk just another cup of coffee…

Today look for the EXTRAordinarysee beyond self — to feel the wild blowing wind, follow the wagging puppy tail, breathe in the fireplace scent. Glory in the smile sent your way, the hummingbird in motion and still all at the same time, the apple pie making your mouth water…

Know there is no ordinary and thank Him for the wonder called: l i f e…

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

 

 

 

Antique People…

hankies chest1     Antique stores are fun… I don’t know much about authenticity or values – my interest lies in the history, in the uniqueness, in the beauty (and a good deal of course)…

Actually I do cringe a little when I see things I had as a little girl or as a young woman proudly displayed in an antique store – ummm, gulp, do I say “Oh I had those dolls, lunch pails, glassware when I was little?” or do I say “Wow look at these old things, I’m sure somebody thought they were cool back in the day.” Depends on if the person I’m with is 20 something or 50+ something…

Once when I visited my mom I went in the kitchen to find her with a blow pop sucker in her mouth rummaging through the cabinet to find more snacks. I couldn’t help but laugh, for the moment all the wrinkles betraying her age were missing and all I saw was a little girl getting her sugar fix… She reminded me of the little wooden figurine I saw once that had a caption painted on the bottom of her dress: ‘Grandmas are just antique little girls…’

tea cups1

I think if I were to collect ‘antiques’ I would prefer people – people who have the lines to show the wear and tear, the memories to share, the wisdom to make a difference, the perspective of time… Antique people show this life can be survived, can tell stories that mesmerize, offer advice that’s solid, and can make today (and tomorrow – and yesterday) have the right importance…

So perhaps a visit a week with someone who doesn’t have a lot of others like them left around, you know a real antique with real value because its getting rarer by the day – maybe that’s the antiques we should wander around a few hours admiring…

catinchair1

 

 

Interior Decorator…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     Many years ago, when I was much younger and starting out with a home of my own, my husband and I were invited to dinner by a co-worker of his. As we pulled up to a very large and stately home, I couldn’t help but be impressed. We were invited into the entry as his wife descended the stairs. I thought I was in a scene from Gone With the Wind. When I complimented her on her beautiful home she replied “Nothing $50,000.00 and a good interior decorator couldn’t fix.” I have never forgotten it…

We seem never to be satisfied…

I was recently on beautiful St. Simons Island and, of all things, was touring a cemetery. It was a beautiful setting and I was clicking away with my camera. All the tress were draped in moss. This tree struck me – moss hung like tinsel from it’s branches, looking like someone had purposely hung each strand…

???????????????????????????????

I think God is a much better decorator than all of us combined – and I think the decorating He would most like to do is interior… Us on in the inside: a few tweaks to our ego here, a heart filled with wonder and gratitude there, a soul painted with His wisdom…

Whoever started shabby chic had it right… It’s not about what you don’t have, it’s about what you have to work with and making it beautiful for the only One who matters…

The Anniversary…

31 anniv     31 Years is a long time, a short time. Sweet are the memories – young years spent planning, child rearing years spent smiling, remaining years spent hand in hand…

Last year the longest married couple in America celebrated their 81st anniversary – they eloped in 1932! On that anniversary they were 102 and 98 – that is a long marriage, but hand in hand they are still smiling and it seems short…

A sweet couple we love married this year, full of plans and love and looking forward to life. A short time, yet a long time in coming if you ask them…

Photographs have captured the last few generations… Makes me sound old, but my earliest poses were in black and white. With my children it seemed like forever to wait a week to get our ‘snapshots’ back, all the while hoping they were in focus. Now we take instant pictures on our phone and share them in the same instant…

Couples blessed to spend a lifetime together will gladly share their secrets…laughter, respect, forgive quickly, most of all having Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior…

Most men would agree ‘Yes, dear’ is always the best answer, and most women would agree ‘You’re so smart’ works really well… Yet all who are blessed with a lifetime definitely agree, it’s not long enough…

 

Wooly Worms…

 worm3      Have you heard? In a little town in North Carolina there’s a round of races about to happen. It isn’t runners, it isn’t cyclists, it isn’t cars…It’s Wooly Worms! Back in the 1940s a scientist exploring the area started studying these furry guys. He noticed over the seasons that sometimes they had more orangey brown fur in the middle and other times less. He began to correlate the amount of brown fur in the middle to how mild or severe the coming winter would be. The more brown, the milder, the less brown the more severe…

worm1 In the 1970s the townsfolk decided to take the scientific research a bit further as sometimes there were worms with both a lot and a little brown fur in a given season. So they developed the Wooly Worm races. The worm who wins the final race predicts the coming winter.

 worm2    Here’s how it works – find your worm (or buy one if you must), give him a great racing name, enter the next race. When your race time arrives proceed to the stage where the race track of vertical lines of string line the billboard at the back of the stage. When the bell sounds place your worm at the beginning of the string and do whatever you think will spur your worm on to victory. (I blew warm air on mine and told him I had lots of juicy leaves – hey, it worked!)

    It’s a blast…Try it, you’ll be hooked (oops don’t say that word in front of your worm…)

HAPPY TODDLER PLAYTIME

PLaY CReaTivEly WitH YoUr LiTtLe OnE

Mandy Hughes

PURSUING GOD WITH PASSION

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