Exhale and breathe in 2015 with Jesus

Exhale, ye merry gentlemen and gentlewomen, by the time you read these words of mine the lovely chaos of Christmas will have come and gone. None of us can know what the next day will bring, but if the established order of Christmases past prevails, I can project a few things with a degree of certainty. There’s a solid good chance my man will be on a deer stand and I’ll be attempting to recover some semblance of order here in the old homestead after the departure of our grown kids and their precious wee ones. That would be five grands under the age of six and let me tell you, those little people know how to rock around a Christmas tree!

I also feel confident projecting a couple of other things that will be happening. One, I’ll have my face on because Mama trained me to put it on first thing every morning. If you weren’t raised by a Southern Mama you might be confused by that phrasing, but southern women will know that I’m talking about having my makeup on, even if it’s just light mascara and lipstick. I don’t like to start the day without it.

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I can also tell you that, if at all possible, I’ll have found a quiet block of time to train my eyes on God. Having my face on before I start the day is big to this southern belle, but the Spirit of God has taught me that seeking Him first thing every morning is a more precious, more valuable habit, and it’s of far greater consequence for me and for those around me.

If you don’t have this practice, my friend, 2015 looms as an empty slate offering fresh opportunities to embark upon a life-saving, life-transforming relationship with God through the sweet gift of His son Jesus. Blessed be our amazing Savior, Immanuel, God with us. Won’t you join me?

Let’s be ill content to start a day without having our face turned towards Him.

Live Intentionally

My older sisters and I grew up in rural Louisiana. We were blessed with free time to amuse ourselves and plenty of wide open countryside to act out whatever our imaginations could invent. Papa’s fuel tanks became our inexhaustible horses. We cowgirls saddled them up to fight and prevail over bands of warring Indians. Cane poles lining our ditches were stripped and used as building materials in the construction of what we considered to be elaborate forts, worthy of overnight stays. Sadly, Mama was the building inspector. Our efforts fell short of her required code for adequate lodging.

We were also fond of any and all activities requiring a good sense of balance. Pony-tailed dare devils, we graduated from climbing trees to exploring the roof of Papa’s tractor shed and walking the rails of the bridge by our house.

Last month I watched a fellow tight roping between two tall buildings in Chicago. Oh, sure, his audience was a tad larger, and the danger he faced was far graver, but I still identified with his slow and steady movements. Focus is everything for us high-wire performers.

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All joking aside, as I watched Nik Wallenda walking very intentionally, with his eyes straight ahead I thought of a passage from the fourth chapter of Proverbs. In it we’re instructed to give our attention to God’s words and not let them drift from our sight, for from them flows life itself! We’re told to let our eyes look directly ahead and our gaze be fixed straight in front of us, to watch the path of our feet so that all of our ways will be established. Eyes fixed, gazed focused, it sounds serious because it is. The dangers of not living intentionally are even graver than the consequences of ambling aimlessly across a high-wire, far above the city streets.

My friend, Advent has begun. There’s no better time than this present moment to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Word of God who took on flesh. To be apart from Him is death but in Him is life itself.

Hugs, Shellie

Home Sweet Home

Dorothy murmured of it in her sleep as she dreamed of returning. Accolades to it have been stitched, painted, and printed on everything imaginable and recording artists have sung its praises all over the world. And yes, with Thanksgiving close behind us and Christmas being right around the corner, it seems fitting to acknowledge one of the most well-known and beloved tunes of them all. That would be the late Perry Como’s 1954 classic, “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays.”

Of course, I’m talking about our homes today and the odes we give them.

Yours truly has been on the road more than I’ve been off of lately, so home is feeling especially wonderful and cozy to me right now as I sit beside the fire penning these thoughts. Home is where we feel the safest and rest the best. Be it castle or cottage, there’s no place like home.

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They say you can never go home again. I get that. I realize they’re saying we can never really return home because we aren’t the same people who lived there, that even if home hasn’t changed, we have. If our early homes were happy, like my own, that can fill us with nostalgia, a familiar blend of joyful memories tinged with sadness because we can’t go back. For others, whose childhood homes were filled with more pain than pleasure, I would imagine knowing you can’t go home suits you fine. If that’s you, dear reader, I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry about what was, but I hope to encourage you today in what can be.

You and I have a perfect home, one made without hands. Deuteronomy 33.27 teaches us that the eternal God is our dwelling place, and underneath us are His everlasting arms. Regardless of how we started this life, we’re invited to spend eternity in the sweet refuge of God’s embrace.

And here’s the news I most love to share about our dwelling pace: In Christ Jesus, we can be both already there and looking forward to the day when we never have to leave. Home Sweet Home, indeed.

Hugs, Shellie