The Tales of the Christmas Stocking… Part 2

The Tales of the Christmas Stocking

With Christmas pushing through the door, seemingly shoving Thanksgiving aside, a small bit of anxiousness grows as I look at the still unfinished Christmas stocking for my grandson, Henry. When I last posted the picture of the woe-begotten state of affairs of my pitiful knitting project, I had actually come to a point of being a tad bit hopeful. Finishing the white trim on Santa’s hat, I left my friend—who is walking with me through this painful learning experience—with a quickness of step, and a lightness of heart, ready to jump in, sure, that this time, nothing could stop me.

I know how to knit.
I know how to pearl.
And more importantly, I know how to tink.*

What more could anyone want?

“You’re ready to start the black,” was emblazoned in my head and heart as I left Joan’s house that day. Sitting down later that night with knitting in hand, I grabbed the black yarn, knitting, knitting, knitting, pearling, pearling, pearling, then knitting again three rows back and forth. Looking at the stocking, because I was proud as punch—and the stitches did look nice—I noticed for the first time that something was terribly amiss. How could you possibly see black eyes in the middle of the black yarn? Bursting into laughter that was so hard I couldn’t speak, my nose running and my face covered in tears, I sent Joan this text: Continue reading

Escaping from the Busyness of Life

Escaping from the Busyness of Life

Well. Here we are again. Summer is gone and with each falling leaf gently dancing to the ground, the grey, chill days of winter move closer. Already, the rush of Christmas is in the background, with the anticipation of Thanksgiving just ahead. And while we are grateful and look forward to the joy this time of year brings, “Weren’t we here just yesterday?” moves in whispers around us—a startling reminder that our lives are fleeting and truly, just a breath. (See Psalm 39:5.) Continue reading

When a Moment of Silence Isn’t Enough

When a Moment of Silence Isn’t EnoughIt seems, as of late, that our world as many of us knew it, is no longer. Unprecedented mass killings, terrorism, and nightly shootings broadcast on the early morning news, are more the norm than not. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and fires causing unheard of disaster and loss of life, are motivating more and more to ask, “What is happening?” People stand stunned as if in shock, and while moments of silence are observed, a pervasive sense of helplessness seems to blanket and thicken the air. While being silent is a reverential expression of respect, does this quiet solemn response bring hope?

Continue reading

Burdened By Too Many Commitments

When We Are Burdened By Too Many Commitments

Going on two years now, I have been knitting a Christmas stocking for my grandson, Henry. It truly is a labor of the deepest, giving-of-myself kind of love, for in doing this, I have made a painful discovery; knitting is not my forte. My hour of delving into this craft—I have been told that is all you should attempt at one sitting— goes something like this. Knit five. Tink twenty. Tink, which is knit spelled backwards, means to unknit or undo what you have just done. My knitting is more like a boat rocking back and forth caught in a sludge that allows very little headway. Instead of moving forward, it feels as if I’m in the Twilight Zone of the land of no progress.

It can be so disheartening. My dear, sweet friend, Joan, who is teaching me this fine art, has become my cheerleader. I don’t know quite why she puts up with me except that I must provide endearing comic relief. Encouraging my efforts, she often genuinely tells me, “You’ve got this now. You know what you’re doing. Look at you go.” And she’s right. For a minute. Until I walk out of her house and all by my lonesome stumble into my next mistake that I have no idea how to fix. Not even an inkling at all.

My real problem is not that knitting is so difficult, but that I have too many irons in the fire. It’s not that I don’t have the brainpower to succeed at this endeavor—which can be intricate and exacting, often resulting in beautiful sweaters, afghans, and yes, even Christmas stockings—it’s that there are too many commitments in other areas of life and far too many distractions. Like a kid in a candy store, there are so many fun, wonderful, and interesting things to try, to do, and to see. If I had a bucket list, it would be full to overflowing.

So what it comes down to is picking and choosing, deciding and making….

Choices. Continue reading

When We Don’t Understand What God is Doing

When We Don't Understand What God is Doing

Jerry and I love to cook. We enjoy experimenting with recipes, adding ingredients that you normally wouldn’t, to what’s tried and true. For instance, a dash of cinnamon in just about anything, in my opinion—Jerry is not always on the same page with me on this one—brings about a wonderful flavor. Plop overripe apple chunks into a beef stew and—even though you might find this hard to believe—you will experience an aroma and taste that is superb!

Likewise, the smells of spices and herbs by themselves, are delightful. To pinch off a sprig of rosemary and rub it in your palms or pluck a leaf of basil and smell its pungent aroma, there are few things that are more refreshing. But when two or more opposing ingredients—that would normally cause us to raise our hand in protest—are mixed together, we sometimes are deliciously surprised. The outcome is far better than we could have ever imagined.

The same can hold true in our lives.

The television show, CBS Sunday Morning, featured a story a few years back about a man who decided to do an intriguing sociological study where he began to follow the lives of children, checking in with them to see where they were every seven years. One boy’s story really caught my attention. Continue reading

When We Listen to Lies

I’m an early bird. Maybe that’s one reason why my nickname growing up was “Bird Baby.” (Only my older brother, Jim, is allowed to call me that, and that’s because it’s always been his name for me.) And though I like to get up at the crack of dawn, or even before, I like to do it…


So, before anyone else wakes up, I’ll grab my cell phone and glasses, and quietly tiptoe down the stairs, wrapping up in my robe as I go, because even in summer Jerry has set the thermostat to generate snow as we sleep. Pouring a cup of Italian coffee, I settle down into my most comfortable chair and open up the app on my phone that leads me to one of my favorite devotionals.

I don’t remember the specifics of the one I was reading this particular morning, but my response to it, in the very least was disquieting and unnerving. For what it said, I knew could not possibly be for me.

The devotional was beautiful, really, talking about finding your worth in the Lord’s eyes; knowing that He loves us beyond anything we can imagine, or think, or desperately want. But worn out images and thoughts from my past railroaded what was before me, saying, “That can’t apply to you. The Lord rescued you once. Big Time. Set your feet on solid, solid ground. But what did you do but turn to another, the idol you thought would bring you fulfillment and happiness? You were faithless.”

Before, I would swing and hit at those mental pictures, those memories. I would do battle, from what I understood or or more accurately, misunderstood what the Bible means by, “Taking every thought captive.” (See 2 Corinthians 10:5.) Because the Lord tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (See 1 John 1:9.) I would quote that verse. And stand on it. And try to rally myself that it applied to me also. While that Scripture is true, for the Lord cannot lie, I couldn’t make it stick. Continue reading

When Communication Falls Apart

When Communication Falls ApartI listened yesterday as my friend told me what happened. The hurt, confusion, heartache, and guilt of being misunderstood and of misunderstanding was written all over her face. As she recounted her side of the story, almost as the words were tumbling out of her mouth, she could see the mistakes she had made and those that were made toward her. She loves the one she hurt and was hurt by, and just wishes she could go back in time and make it all go away.

Miscommunication is never easy to go through, and it never happens to just one. It takes two for that tangle to occur. Even when you’re talking face-to-face and can hear both what someone is saying and see their expressions, misconceptions can occur. An intended joke is taken as a serious jab. A feeling of empathy is misconstrued as patronizing. Add in what happens when texting, tweeting, and Facebooking come into the picture and those subtle cues of voice inflection, a smile, or a gentle nudge on the shoulder are no longer there, conversation and connection is further compromised. Losing those signals that allow us to read between the lines, makes relating to one another so much more difficult. Without the benefit of sight, twinges of offense begin to take shape in our minds. Judgment is not far behind. Continue reading

When Faith Seems Unimaginable

Yesterday, sitting in my optometrist’s office that plays a continual stream of movies, I was able to catch a glimpse of a most memorable scene from one of my all time favorites, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. Indiana Jones, the main character in search of his missing father, who is an archeologist, finds himself—along the way with WW II Nazis, and others looking for eternal longevity—in pursuit of the chalice Jesus drank from at The Last Supper. In the last scenes of the movie, Indiana is clasping a series of clues woven with Scripture written in his father’s notebook, and he must use them in order to successfully find what he is looking for.

Among those many challenges, there is one that always mesmerizes me. An abyss of such unthinkable proportions, it looks impossible to cross. As Indiana reads from his father’s scribblings, Proverbs 3:6 always pops in my head. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. A pastor once told me that the literal translation of that verse is, when you put your foot out, the path will be there. When Indiana made the choice to step out into what looked a chasm of sickening heights—one in which he would surely die—his foot landed on a granite-like crossway bridging the gap. Hands down, it is the best picture imaginable of what it means to walk in faith. Every time I see that scene, I want to slap my leg in affirmation while jumping up exclaiming a resounding, “Yes!”

Now we may not have an actual physical canyon to cross, but I think we all face our own personal abysses everyday. Some, on the richter scale seem smaller than others. And then there are those that are gargantuan. Continue reading

What We Must Do as the World Gets Darker

The solar eclipse of 2017 was stunning, even from our home that experienced only 99.8% of totality. Instead of joining the throngs in Nashville, Murfreesboro, or other surrounding areas, my son, John, his wife, Julie, and their four month old, Arthur, opted to photograph with me our landscape as we experienced the wonder of night in the middle of the day. None of us really knew what to expect, but armed with sandwiches, chips, cool drinks, and excitement, we waited. Keeping our cameras on the same settings and taking pictures in roughly twenty-minute increments—up until the end I was so excited I just couldn’t help but take pictures every other minute—we watched as the moon’s shadow blocked out the sun.

To the human eye, it didn’t get completely dark, even in the zone of totality, (as reported to me by my daughter who lives in that path). Here, as one sliver of the sun almost completely disappeared, another one immediately took its place. Outside of totality, there was no corona or diamond burst of light but only what looked to be a shadowy grey brown murkiness mixed with a little orange. The lamppost in the front yard turned on as did our white lights that line our porch’s bannister. As we looked out, the normally beautiful vista, which to the human eye appeared now to be somewhat out of focus, took on an eery distasteful feel. But later, looking at the photos we took, especially the ones when the sun was 99.8% blocked, we saw something quite different. Except for the almost imperceptible twinkle of lights, everything else was black. (I posted duplicates of those last two shots taken at 1:27PM and 1:28PM. One, to show the photo as is, which appears to show just darkness. The second is overexposed so you can see what was actually in the shot—closer to what our eyes saw—but is not visible without editing).

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Did the lens of the camera lie? Or did it just not pick up on the nuances that our eyes, constantly adjusting, allow us to see? I would say it is somewhere in between. But I couldn’t help but feel that the same trick our eyes played on us in the eclipse in making it seem not quite night, is analogous to what’s happening in our world today. The overshadowing of what is right with what is wrong, what is light and dark, accepting, even winking at what was unacceptable—what was considered uncouth, as my mama used to call it—is now more the norm than not. The lines drawn in the sand of what is allowed have seemed to fade, almost disappear, as the tide of popular opinion washes it beyond recognition. Continue reading

How the Lord Brought Joy to My Mondays

How the Lord Brought Joy to My Mondays

I love Mondays. It’s the day I pop out of bed, to-do list in hand, and scurry around the house and office, putting away the weekend, organizing what’s ahead. It’s a beautiful thing really, even when the mountain of what-needs-to-be-done far outweighs what’s already been checked-off.

It’s not always been that way though. I used to not only dread the day-to-day of everyday, but especially the start of the week. Waking up to be greeted by what had to be done was sometimes overwhelming. Pulling the covers over my head was all I wanted to do. But it wasn’t just when there was work to be done. It trickled into even having fun. Taking time away from what I thought I had to do, countered by the crushing weight of guilt, of I what I thought I should do, topped off by if I don’t step in, who will, sometimes was just too much. No matter how burdensome those thoughts were, they stoked in me a flame of pride. At the same time, the slavery to them, created exhaustion. Having barely anything left to give, the good intentions of compassion and grace were lost. Continue reading