Life Interrupts…But Goes On by Vicki Hinze

Vicki Hinze, Seasons, Life Interrupts but goes on, 123RF Stock Photo

Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

 

Life Interrupts… But Goes On

By

Vicki Hinze

 

We all know that we experience Seasons. Times in our lives when things go smoothly, and times when they just don’t. I’ve been in a “just don’t” season since right before Thanksgiving. Hubby broke his foot and had to have surgery.

That meant he was sidelined for six weeks, and in the way wives are when husbands are down, so was I. It made for scaled back holidays and for challenging times working. And then Murphy’s law, unconvinced we had enough on our plates, kicked in. An update skewed my website. We’re into week five of trying to get it back to normal, and after some very large bills and anxious moments, I am hopeful that this week things will get back to normal on it. Been praying a lot on this. There are things on that site that can’t be redone or replaced.

But Murphy wasn’t yet done. On a Monday Hubby was told his foot had healed properly—there’d been some doubt and concerns that the surgery might need to be repeated. We rejoiced at that bit of good news… until Tuesday. One day later, with visions of things getting back to normal dancing in my head, I went in for a normal follow-up visit with the doctor and had unexpected surgery that same day.

That knocked me for a loop for two weeks. Two weeks in which I was scheduled to prepare for the release of a new book, Down and Dead in Dallas. It was supposed to come out the week that five police officers were shot, but I delayed the release out of respect for those officers and their families because that shooting incident occurred in Dallas.

The title of the book had been established in a previous book, Down and Dead in Even, so it couldn’t be changed, and while that is the only thing the two have in common, I just couldn’t release a book with that title on raw wounds. So I held off. Then all this.

While I agree there is never a good time for unexpected events that knock us off our feet, after all the months of work in writing a book and all the effort of publishing that book, it really causes disappointment and complications when life interrupts. Still, under the circumstances, the delay was the right thing to do.

So now I’m playing catch-up; it seems, on everything at once. I prayed about that, too, and accepted that I can do only what I can do, and then I put the challenges on the altar. I’m limited in what I can do. God isn’t. And this is one of those times when I have no choice but to accept my limitations and to trust Him, that He will get word to those who need it or want it or could benefit from it.

Admittedly, I’m hoping this specific season of trials is closing. I’ve had about all the “fun” I can take for now. At least, I think I have. Oh, I’ll deal with what I must, but I sure would be grateful if the season ends now. There’s no sugarcoating this. I am bone-weary tired.

The good news is, I’m not soul-weary tired. Like everyone else, I’ve had my share of those seasons, too, but I’ve been spared that this season, and for that I am really grateful.

If you’ve been reading the Down and Dead, Inc. series, you know it started with Down and Dead in Dixie. The second project is Down and Dead in Even. I wanted to mention that because when you subscribe to my newsletter, you get a copy of Even free. It’s a Quick-Read novella about Caroline Branch Easton, and if read before Down and Dead in Dallas, you’ll get more from the book. While that isn’t essential, getting to revisit some characters is always more fun when you know them. You meet Christine Branch in Even, and she so interested me, she just had to have her own story. That brings us to…

Down and Dead in Dallas, Christine’s story, which reveals a lot of the inside secrets of Sampson Park. I totally enjoyed that, and I hope readers will, too.

Vicki Hinze, Down and Dead in Dallas, Down and Dead, Inc. series

Down and Dead in Dallas is currently available in ebook (paperback is coming) at: Amazon, BN, iBooks and Kobo.

With grace, the door on this Season will soon close. And a window of progress will open. As I write that, I’m reminded of the truth that even the darkness night falls to joy in the morning.

May your dark nights be few, your mornings be many, and may you enjoy seasons of great progress!

Blessings,

Vicki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grumpy

Portrait of unhappy grumpy pissed off senior mature man isolated on gray wall background. Negative human emotions, face expression feelings

The other day I overheard my husband talking to a friend about how it’s almost inevitable that men should turn into the stereotypical “grumpy old men” sooner or later. I guess if you live long enough, some of the more memorable interchanges are those where something gets screwed up. A promised service isn’t done on time; a product is poorly made; orders get mixed up. Somehow a “simple” job someone is supposed to perform just doesn’t get done, or at least not done properly. Happens all the time, right?

Maybe when you’re young you don’t tally up all of the disappointments, unmet expectations, or unfulfilled promises aimed your way. Even the big ones can be shaken off, because you know you have a long life of new adventures to face where, hopefully, the results will be better.

Or maybe it’s because when you’re old, time doesn’t slow down—it does just the opposite. So that time the waitress messed up your order last year might have been a long time ago to someone else, but when it happens to you it seems like that other time was only yesterday.

Thankfully, most of the older people I know (including my husband) have developed something else through their years of experience: an appreciation for knowing just how hard it is to get everything right. Perhaps most importantly, somehow they’ve managed to retain their sense of humor as their bodies adjust to new limitations and they have to say goodbye to things they used to enjoy, everything from certain foods to playing sports.

So next time you meet a grumpy old man…maybe something as simple as a smile is the right reaction. Even if it only helps you, it’s worth a try. 🙂

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My Freaky New Life by Hannah Alexander

Mountain Lion?

Mountain Lion?

I realize I’ve made it onerously apparent in posts from the past that Mel and I have moved 850 miles from a place we called home for many decades to the Nebraska Panhandle. Wow, what a move. It’s a whole ‘nother country out here, and we’re loving it, snow and all. We’re still looking for a church where we will feel more a part of this small town, but the neighbors, shopkeepers…pretty much every single person we’ve met reassure us by their kindness that we’ve made a good choice.

Um, see this picture? I believe it’s also one of our neighbors–not human. Coming from southern Missouri, where I hiked most of my life on logging trails, I’ve seen pretty much every kind of track available, including mountain lion. That’s why when I saw this set of tracks in our front drive, and noted that the stride matched mine, and that the tracks were all around our house, from dumpster in back to the country road several hundred feet from our house, I came running inside, squealing to Mel. He shoved a camera into my hand and sent me back out to take pictures–it was New Year’s Eve and he was recovering from the flu like everyone else.

So I went back outside, cluelessly unarmed, and followed the tracks, searching for some sign of claw mark, because if it has a claw mark it could be a large dog. Thing is, there are NO large dogs allowed to run wild in this area. Coyotes, yes, and I saw a lot of those tracks in the snow, as well. They came all the way up to our front door. But they have shorter, more hyper-looking steps, walking in circles, and they can’t retract their claws. Coyotes don’t scare me.

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Mountain lions, however, make me very uncomfortable. I saw no claw marks in these tracks. It frightened me to the point that I emailed my uncle, whom I turn to with all my wild questions, and he told me this definitely sounded like a mountain lion and to watch my back. So we’ve called our neighbors and warned them so they can keep their dogs inside. We’ve dug out our weapons for protection just in case, and we won’t let the cat outside ever in a million years.

And now that I’ve managed to download these pictures I’ll be sending them to the state authorities to notify them of a presence in the area. Two mountain lions had to be shot in a town 35 miles northwest of us. They’d climbed into the backyards of homes. Have you watched the television show, Zoo? I know I’m freaking, but it feels kind of like that right now. Oh, yes, all that and I still LOVE it here. We have tumbleweeds! Right now I’m using them to decorate the front porch. No, I’m not kidding. I grew up in So CAL, where I built forts with tumbleweeds. I’m loving it!

Besides the wildlife–including the moose we’ve been warned about, and the prairie rattlesnakes–we’re learning that we can’t pop out to Walmart and be back home in less than an hour. We’ve learned that the Nebraska Panhandle is most definitely part of the wild, wild west, with formations such as Chimney Rock, Courthouse Rock, Jail Rock, Scotts Bluff National Monument, and the wildcat hills–all visions of beauty that take my breath away. We’ve learned that we love these wide open spaces, with sandhills to the north and east of us, prairie and hills and formations, plateaus and buttes to the south and west. I recently had a friend ask about where would be the best place to vacation between Colorado Springs and Mount Rushmore. Wow. I could keep her busy for weeks.

Don’t worry about the safety of the mountain lion; I couldn’t bring myself to shoot it unless it’s charging me or someone else. I did, however, score a 97% in my shooting course, and my weapon is fit for the task.

And now to alert the authorities.

 

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Declaring War on Negativity

resolutionsI said I wouldn’t make a New Year’s Resolution. Because I believe my greatest transformation comes not from my own efforts, but from growing closer to Jesus and allowing Him to shine through me.

And yet, that doesn’t mean I’m just going to sit back, prop my feet up, and sip coffee.

Okay, I am going to do that. A lot, but I’m also going to step into the game, mentally speaking.

This isn’t a resolution so much as it’s more of a determined mind change, triggered by Scripture. One more step in this journey of becoming more Christ-like, because the minute I quit moving forward, I start sliding back.

Into negativity. Specifically, complaining. Whining, maybe not verbally, but in my head:

‘How does one family go through so many towels?’

‘Who left that glob of pasta sauce on the counter? Why do I have to be the one to clean it up?’

‘This traffic is terrible. People should drive faster. Or slower. Or stay home.’jk3-uhdwjcs-nabeel-syed

The more I complain, the more frustrated and irritated I become, the more my selfish side rises up, squelching the Holy Spirit.

This cycle of negativity, if left unchecked, leads to a severe case of foot in mouth disease.

But what if I determined not to complain? To instead, find reasons to praise God, to be thankful.

We’ve seen all the memes going around, telling us how we should be grateful for the dirty dishes, because it means we have food to eat and (usually) people to eat with. But if you’re like me, you see the meme, mentally acknowledge it’s true, then go back to your day. Filled with mishaps, disappointments, stresses–and joy.

I’m deciding to focus on the latter. To watch what zips through my brain and off of my tongue. With God’s help, I’ll strive to “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God,” –this last part is my favorite–“shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (Philippians 2:14-15 NLT).

In other words, in a world filled with negativity, by not complaining, I’ll shine.

That’s a pretty cool thought, isn’t it? And I have a feeling, I’ll be a lot happier, too.

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True Love

true-love-was-born-in-a-anage

I’ve loved the idea of creating things from nothing since I was a young girl. Whether it’s writing, or playing music, or crafting, I love all things creative.

I grew up in a family of musicians. Oh, we weren’t famous, but just about everyone in my family played the piano and sang. We’d get together from time to time and spend the day playing and singing about God. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. Now, those memories are precious and ones I hope to pass on to my granddaughters. One is already learning to play the piano and I’ve had the privilege of helping her along. The middle granddaughter is showing interest in learning someday. As a grandmother I’m so proud.

When I was a pre-teen, I started writing after I devoured ever Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt book I could find at our local library. I gravitated towards romantic suspense for many years until I picked up my first Christian Suspense and knew that was what I wanted to write. I love the message of faith that weaves itself through each and every Christian story, creating a beautiful tapestry of emotion. In 2012 I entered a contest through Love Inspired Suspense and later received a contract. Now, I’m on my fourth book for Love Inspired. A dream come true.

When my first granddaughter came along, I fell in love with the idea of crafting. Taking a pile of “stuff” and creating something beautiful from it takes true talent, (I’m still trying to find my talent on this one). With three granddaughter, I discovered crafting is a great way to spend time with my girls and make some lovely memories that I hope someday they will pass along to their kids and grandkids. Especially at Christmas. We love making Christmas soft dough ornaments and decorations for the house.

This year while I was looking for some craft ideas to do with my girls, I came across a wooden sign with a simple saying on it, but the meaning struck a chord with me because its something that I want to weave through everything I create this year.

True Love Was Born In A Stable.

As a writer of Christian Romantic Suspense, I want this message to be the leading thread in all the stories I create this year. As a musician, well, it’s all about Him. And as a would be crafter, what better way to share God’s precious Gift than to tell my granddaughters about the True Love that was born in a stable.

So this year, I hope the True Love given to us so many years ago is in your heart and in your mind throughout the upcoming 2017. And I hope you create something beautiful with it.

 

All the best…

 

Mary Alford

www.maryalford.net

 

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The Blank Page That Is 2017

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Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? I confess, I’m not one for making them, mostly because in the past, I haven’t been able to live up to my resolutions. If you make New Year’s resolutions and follow through with them, my hat’s off to you.

Each year, as the New Year approaches, I find myself getting excited and a little apprehensive. We have a whole new year before us and anything is possible, but there’s also the aspect of the unknown, which can be a little unnerving. It’s like starting a new book for a writer.

You begin with Chapter One.

Being a writer, this is the scary part for me. Staring at a blank page on my computer screen and wondering, what am I going to write about? There are plenty of doubts and uncertainties.

Life can be like that, too. Do I take that new job? Start a new relationship? Make a move?

If only we could know the correct decisions to make all the time.

Well, there are no guarantees in life or in writing, but I have found the best way to start out a new book as well as a New Year is to talk to God about it. Tell Him all your fears and uncertainties and then leave them with Him. Ask for guidance in all your decisions and He will guide you.

So, as we stare at the blank page that is 2017, what are your goals? Did you make some resolutions? Do you need help?

Whatever your need is, it is not greater than God.

 

Happy New Year!

 

Mary Alford

www.maryalford.net.

 

 

 

 

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Revelation Instead of Resolution by Tara Randel

Happy New Year to all our Christian Reads friends!

So now it is 2017. Yet we’ve all seen it, year after year.

It’s a new year! Lose weight! Organize your clutter! Exercise! Make time for quality endeavors!

Bombarded by all the hype, we jump on the resolution bandwagon, disappointed if we fail or can’t keep up with the promises we made to ourselves.

Resolutions can let us down, but God’s Word never will. In His Word we find that health, relationships, spiritual growth, and much more, are all important to God. If it wasn’t, he wouldn’t have blessed us with the living word.

So instead of making a list of things we want to change, how about listening to God’s revelation for us in this new year instead of thinking we can do it all by our own counsel? Isn’t it better to know that God is guiding us, rather than hoping we might figure life out?

Last year, I made a pointed decision to spend more quiet time with God so I could hear His voice. I went back to basics. Reread scriptures that had always given me hope and peace. Scriptures that spoke to my life. I studied the Word in a deeper way than I had done in a while. Meditating on God’s Word has a way of leading one into a conversation with God. And as I’ve always known, when I needed Him, He never let me down.

Psalm 29:3-9

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

What an awesome picture of our mighty God!

I encourage you to make 2017 a year of revelation. Listen to the voice of God. Seek Him out. Strive to make this year an even better walk with the Lord.

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author of fourteen novels. She is currently working on new stories for Harlequin Heartwarming, The Business of Weddings series, as well as books in a new series, Amish Inn Mysteries. Look for A Wedding March, her March 2017 Harlequin Heartwarming release. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books

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One More Week by Hannah Alexander

cheryls-second-opinion-front-cover

I’m sorry I didn’t announce this earlier, but throughout the month of December, we had our Healing Touch series on sale on Kindle for .99 per title. I was going to take down the sale today, but because I didn’t let you know about this sale I’m going to keep it up another week.

Set in the fictitious town of Dogwood Springs, Missouri, The Healing Touch series follows the romances, relationships, and medical lives of a cast of characters, from doctors and nurses to Branson singers, lively teenagers out for justice, and one tormented man with too many secrets.

Follow Lauren McCaffrey as she seeks new relationships in a new town with a fresh start. Read about the struggle of widower Grant Sheldon and twins as they try to build a fresh life for themselves after the loss of their wife and mother.cheryls-necessary-measures-front-cover

Watch Archer Pierce as he tries to find a way to combine romance with his life as a pastor–and find out what happens to him when he disappears into a flooded river.

This rewritten edition of The Healing Touch Series weaves all these stories and more into a whole that I hope will keep you reading into the wee hours of the morning. The price is right for another week on Kindle!

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A Spiritual New Year by Vicki Hinze

Vicki Hinze, Spiritual New Year 

A Spiritual New Year

 By

Vicki Hinze

  

A new year is upon us. Twenty sixteen is a memory and much of 2017 remains a mystery. Odds are that we’ve looked back at the previous year and decided what worked well for us and what didn’t, and we’ve made adjustments, hoping we’ll have a better year this year.

We all look at a new year with different eyes. Some see expectation; some, anticipation. Others don’t see or want to see any opportunity because to see it is to recognize that if changes are going to occur, then we have to make them happen. We’re tired. Weary. We’ve just gotten through a busy if blessed season and we really want to coast a little.

Oh, we’ll look at what we must because that’s what responsible adults do. We’ll review our progress on our career, decide what we need to do to accelerate it, if that’s our goal. We’ll look at our home life and assess it. See what changes need to be made for things to work more smoothly. Or at least, less frenetically. And that’s all important. Truly. But it is not the most important thing we can do for ourselves and/or our families.

So what is most important?

Bluntly put, we need to assess our spiritual lives. Are our priorities straight? Are we focusing our attention on that which impacts us eternally? Do we make time for our prayer life, time for worship, and time to teach our children by example how to walk in faith in daily life?

Of all we do, where do those things rank on our priority lists? Have we paused lately and taken stock? If we have let spiritual things slide, have we noted the difference in our quality of life between times when we’re on our path and times when we’ve strayed from it?

Twenty Seventeen is here. And with it has come an opportunity we’re blessed to have. An opportunity to look back for the life-enrichment lessons we can take with us into our futures. Ones that offer wisdom and insight when looking ahead, so that we walk into those futures in faith with deliberate steps and divine guidance, assured that we have what we need to recognize our path and reveal our purpose.

That is the difference in living “just another year” and welcoming a spiritual new year.

 

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Vicki Hinze, free book© 2017, Vicki Hinze. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. KNOW IT FIRST! Subscribe to Vicki’s Monthly Newsletter!

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2017 Word of the Year: Transformation by Julie Arduini

Some do resolutions, I do word of the year.

Around September I start praying and watching for confirmation. Sometimes the words come later in the year, and I’ve had them as early as October. That was the case for this year.

The words have been abundance, revive, chosen, preposterous, perspective and fierce. All good.

This year?

2017 word of the year: transformation

Transformation.

And in my innocence, I try to define what the word will mean for me. It’s always so much more than I can imagine. Perspective taught me all 2016 to look beyond what I was feeling. It would have been tempting to go with my gut reaction to the many changes the year brought and make that the period at the end of my sentence. Perspective forced me to have a panoramic view of each change. Fierce I believe was the mindset God had for me, and I had to choose for myself.

So for transformation, I’m already running ahead trying to figure it out.

There’s the superficial.

-Growing my hair out (and the curls, the red curls!)

-Hoping to ditch the glasses and go back to contacts

-Believing my hormones will behave, I’ll find a groove with fitness, and see additional weight loss.

There’s the monumental.

-There’s a lot of roles and titles in my life. This year I’m not just step-mom, we will be grandparents. I always separate explaining who is who not because I see a difference between our children and his, but because a lot of people aren’t aware we are actually a family with 4 kids, and they tend to think our 18 year old is the one with the changes. Our 13 year old will be an aunt, and our college boy, and uncle. And my husband is one beaming grandpa-to-be.

That’s off the top of my head. I know even this month we’ll learn more that could change things. I have a full, solid, crazy year planned with writing and speaking. Only God knows the changes to come.

Transformation.

That’s my word for the year.

What’s yours?

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Better Than New Year’s Resolutions

20161225_113713-1Maybe it’s always this way, or perhaps I’m just more alert this year, but everywhere I look this Christmas, I see stress. Anxiety. Depression. Grieving. Hard stuff. People bustling about with Christmas carols playing, speaking cheerful holiday greetings, while inside they’re hurting or feeling squeezed, maybe even ready to blow.

There’s a lot of pressure over the holidays, isn’t there? Not just on Christmas day, but the entire month of December and bleeding into January. Actually, the pressure increases exponentially in the new year, when, after coming to terms with all our faults, all our failed newyearsresolutionpicefforts to do better or love more or spend less or whatever–we determine to try again. To make a plan this time, and maybe even to write that on a slip of paper, turning our goals into New Year’s resolutions.

Because then we’re sure to keep them, right? ha!

Am I the only one that finds this cycle exhausting and self-defeating?

What if we did away with resolutions all together and instead, determined to walk just a little closer to Jesus each day. What if, instead of drawing this line in the sand, stating that, starting January 2nd, everything will be different, we focused on moving forward? Taking small but steady steps?

Because, honestly, that first step is the hardest. In fact, it’s hard enough, without adding a bunch of expectation to it.

But once we take that first step, every step after becomes easier.

So what’s the first step? For me, meditating on and praying Scripture, because I’m convinced, the more I think like Jesus, the more I act like Jesus. Perhaps you’ve heard it this way: Right thinking equals right actions.

Meditating on Scripture is more than reading a passage in the morning then going about one’s day. It means pausing to really take God’s Words in, praying that He’ll help us live it, and repeating these steps throughout the day.

Eventually, God’s Words will become a part of us–internalized, and He’ll use them to newyearsthoughtsspeak to us, to guide and correct us, and before we know it, our behaviors have changed and we’ve become a bit more like our Savior.

This year, this is my plan, and I’m not waiting until January first to begin. Starting today, I’m determined to lean in a bit closer to Christ, to carve out consistent time throughout the day to connect with Him, and to allow His Words to penetrate deep, changing me from the inside out. (Romans 12:1-2) I invite you to join me.

Now on a different note, can I share some happy news? It’s release day! Yay!

restoringlove_n174111Restoring Love, a contemporary romance/women’s fiction with a strong romantic thread (book two in my Midwestern Romance series):

Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. She’s almost his worst nightmare, and she s also working on restoring something herself.

As he struggles to keep his business afloat and she works to overcome mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends soon discover they have something unexpected in common, a young mom who is fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back or unite them and bring redemption along with true love?

Now you’re turn! Do you typically make New Year’s Resolutions? Perhaps the better question is: Do you make and keep New Year’s Resolutions, and if so, any tips to share? If you don’t, do you have other ways to self-analyze and encourage personal growth, and if so, care to share? Join the conversation in the comments below because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

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Christmas Greetings

Here’s wishing you a joyful Christmas. Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the King, God’s perfect gift. I pray you have a wonderful holiday season with your family and enjoy special time with loved ones. Take time to reflect on 2016 and get ready for God to do amazing things in 2017!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Christmas Memories

With only days left until the most celebrated holiday of the year, my guess is your house is just about as busy as mine. Last minute buying and baking, cleaning and cooking! I’ve been trying to watch some of my favorite Christmas moves, like It’s A Wonderful Life and White Christmas but to avoid feeling guilty watching movies I can fairly quote line by line I’ve had them on in the background while I bake cookies or wrap presents. Double duty!

I hope you’re able to pause long enough to mark some memories before they all become a blur. For me, one of the best memories of this season was a trip to the Chicago Loop to see a theatrical rendition of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. It’s not A Christmas Carol or a more traditional Christmas play, but this was absolutely fantastic. playbillIf you haven’t read this book by Mark Haddon, you’re missing a treat. It’s a remarkable novel written from the point of view of an autistic teenager who discovers a neighbor’s dog has been killed. With single-minded focus only someone with such a capacity for this kind of focus, he sets out to investigate. The case leads him in very unexpected directions, and for the reader (or in this case the audience) it’s a path that’s both funny and piquant, but also a peek into what it must feel like to live within and with a brain that sees absolutely everything. It’s a sort of Extra Sensory Perception, but not in the classic sense of the phrase. Rather it’s a sensory experience that goes beyond what the rest of of see or feel or hear.

It was an amazing book and an amazing production, so if you get the chance to read the book or see the play, don’t miss it!

The entire day was special to me, since I spent it with loved ones out to enjoy the season. We had lunch at an Irish pub (if you can’t find one in Chicago, you can’t find one anywhere!) then visited the Kris Kringle Mart where we saw pigeons warming pigeonsthemselves by the eternal flame, saw the big tree in Marshall Field’s (okay, so technically it’s been Macy’s for years, but I still can’t call the State Street store anything else, especially this time of the year) and had dessert at the Magnolia Bakery. I refuse to count calories this time of the year, though I’m sure I’ll be paying for it in January.

May this Christmas memory inspire you to create a special day of your own this season! Merry Christmas!

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The Grace of Joseph by Hannah Alexander

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Our Clash verse today was about Joseph dealing with Mary’s unexpected pregnancy. Being a law-abiding Jew, he knew that legally he would need to divorce Mary–until he was told differently, of course. But because he was a man of mercy and sensitivity, he was not going to humiliate her–or worse, have her punished severely. He sought to divorce her privately to spare her. God chose a man of kindness and compassion to be the earthly father of Jesus.

We know God does everything with good reason. I wish I knew more about Joseph, the legal guardian of the Savior. Obviously, he sought to do the right thing, but he had a heart of grace. We can get into all kinds of discussions about how much Jesus knew of His Godhood when he was growing up, but for as long as Joseph was alive, I believe he served as a guide where truth and grace grew alongside one another.

Jesus knew how to combine grace and truth because He was God, but God the Father does nothing without reason. He placed His Son in the right family.

I need to remember that next time I get all caught up in the rules and forget to have grace for the fallen woman, the wayward child, the drug addict, or even those who go out of their way to hurt me or my loved ones. Ouch. That’s a hard one. But don’t you think Joseph was deeply hurt when he heard of Mary’s pregnancy? He suffered humiliation alongside her when the tongues wagged. How I wish I was more like Joseph.

 

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The Birth Of The Savior Through A Mother’s Eyes

star-of-bethlehem-backgrounds

It’s the time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. An amazing time where God’s love can been seen in the birth of His Son. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

When I think about that first Christmas and how everything had to work together just perfectly for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, I’m in awe of God’s love for His creation.

mary-mother-of-jesus-christ

But can you imagine how Mary must have felt when she learned that she would be the mother of the Savior? Most scholars agree that Mary was probably still a teenage girl when the angel delivered the news that she would give birth to the Messiah. Being betrothed but not yet married, she had to realize what everyone would think about her, yet Mary’s faith was strong.

journey

Now, let’s fast forward nine months. A very pregnant Mary must travel with Joseph to Bethlehem. The journey itself had to be grueling, but for a pregnant woman ready to give birth at any moment…I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for her. As she and Joseph made the trip, they must have noticed the star shining so bright. Would Mary have wondered about its significance? Did she know it would guide others to her Son?

stable

Then after the exhausting journey, Mary and Joseph finally arrive in Bethlehem only to find that there is no room for them anywhere in town. The only place for rest is in a dirty stable. The Savior of the world would be born under lowly circumstances.
shephards

When the shepherds came to see the Child, telling the young couple about the good news shared to them by the angels, what was Mary’s reaction? For such a young woman, it must have been hard to grasp everything that was happening. The miracle of Jesus’ birth, just as God had announced in Micah and she was the one to give birth to Him.

wisemen

Once the wise men arrived with gifts for the newborn King, Mary’s thoughts had to be spinning. The intelligent, wealthy men were there to honor her Son?

And as the young Messiah grew, I wonder if she understood what His future held? Did she know He would die for her and for an entire world separated from God by sin? Did she understand the heartache and pain that awaited her when she watched her Son die on the cross?

maryholdingjesus

All those horrible things would come in the future, but on that first Christmas Day, I think Mary, like all mothers of the world, held her baby Boy in her arms and wondered what the future would hold for Him.

And what an amazing future it was. Merry Christmas!

All the best…

Mary Alford

http://www.maryalford.net

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