You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2012.

LED strands wind through plastic branches, grabbing the hooks of metallic globes. Cinnamon sticks plunk into tidy rows of cider mugs. Cookies huddle onto platters and store shelves brim over with packages. Christhannukwanzolidays strode into our community, complete with all the fixings.

The trimmings themselves have not cut Christ from Christmas. For millenia, celebrations kept His love burning in faithful hearts. Mine still leaps to the season’s pa-rum-pa-pum-pum and each whiff of balsam scents lifts my spirits a few inches off the floor. As I welcome this advent season, the joy remains bittersweet. Many who see the glimmer of Christmas stars will miss the light source. The ever-multiplying tragedy of lost souls intensifies the Christian’s need to shine the message of salvation. Dimming the tree lights seems unproductive, but how would Christ define a birthday celebration with all the fixings?

I wonder if the term “fixings” originated with a poor family’s need to supplement inadequate meat. The raw, unsavory, and broken face disposal if left in their hopeless state. Should the Lord’s choice to birth Himself among despised shepherds and homeless travelers surprise us? Jesus elevates our concept of holiday “fixings” to a new level. His love refines the raw, cleanses and redeems the unsavory, and heals the broken.

Some impoverished hearts glare among us, while others appear self-sufficient on the outside. Obvious and not, the numbers swell each year. We feel the chill, but wonder how to warm it away. The original story teaches the non-monetary cost of illuminating the darkness–lay yourself in a feeding trough. We can’t spend the need away, but Christ offered Himself as the first gift to model how we share Him by loving the emptiness away. The loneliness and suffering in our world cannot destroy those in eternal relationship with Jesus, and we can honor Him by demonstrating this through simple offerings such as daily gifts of friendliness and caring.

He’s invited us to an extravagant birthday celebration–eternal light, living water, sweet bread, and heart-crafted gifts. This Christmas, will you join me in sharing “fixings” with those who need hope?

“Azariah the chief priest, from the family of Zadok, answered, ‘Since the people began to bring their contributions to the temple of the Lord, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare, because the Lord has blessed his people, and this great amount is left over'” (2 Chronicles 3:10).

Gleaning, cleaning, cooking, and gathering brought us to tables with thanks. As we noshed on traditional fare, we gorged ourselves on savory conversation and released loved ones at the end of the day with sweet embraces. Our stores continue to brim after the day of sharing, so now we must decide what to do with all the leftovers.

Creativity spares the food from the trash can, adding a little something each day to craft delightful meals from our overflow. Discovering new uses for the extras might be the most fun part of Thanksgiving cuisine. I look forward to turkey casserole before the holiday begins, planning for it as I take home a bigger bird than we’ll eat in one sitting.

I’ve decided to make a lifestyle of anticipating overflow–not with regard to food or other tangibles, however. Like the verse from 2 Chronicles above, abundance refers to spiritual perspective more than food. An open heart shares all it is and loves with all it has. It occurs to me I can spread a more nourishing feast for others if I plan to gather an abundant store of Christlove. I’ll take extra grace, hope, and peace from my prayer and scripture reading time. I always make sure to have leftovers for loved ones, clients, and strangers. Sometimes it takes a little creativity to apply them to the needs, but I have an infinite resource of inspiration walking with me in those moments.

Consider the blessings of faith and eternal promise God has provided you this year, this season, and today. What will you do with your leftovers?

I’ve reached into the day and pulled out a handful of clutter. Change, appointment reminders, paperclips, a bead, bills, and a pen. Like every day, this one carries its own mix of  gems, distractions,  and potential. I must sort the pile in my grasp before I can put my hand to work. Sometimes I pluck the first item from the top. On other days, the shiniest bauble captures my attention. I’ve also taken our culture’s common habit of focusing on the trash at times. Without an intentional sorting of the day’s purpose, I’m left to random direction which leaves me feeling devoid of meaning or accomplishment.

Prayer serves as my best means to sort the day’s activities. Each day moves me into a new place in my adventure with God, so I might need to choose a different focus than yesterday. He knows which activities will align best with His plan in the hours ahead. So, I turn to Him in prayer to ask which item from the mixed bag represents His purpose for my day.

Change? God uses certain points in life to shift me to a different perspective or direction. If I don’t ask Him, I’ll miss the best time to turn over that new coin.

Appointments? I tend to check my calendar several times a day, since there’s little consistency in my schedule. While keeping my commitments remains a high priority, I must not allow the day-planner to blind me to divine appointments.

Paperclips? Beloved family members float through my mind at all hours, serving as my happy thoughts. I cherish opportunities to nourish those attachments. When I inquire of the Lord, He lets me know when it’s best to make time for existing relationships or grow new ones.

A bead? Bills? I trend on the practical side, paying the bills and maintaining my household and business schedules. Just because I value responsibility doesn’t mean I’d bore the warts off a troll. Shiny things tickle the little princess within me. Glittery shadows and polish remind me of fairy dust, and my Father King knows that about me. He allows me to enjoy times of fun and respite to rejuvenate my soul. Letting God guide my play keeps the balance of work and rest within my best interests so I don’t overdo either one.

A pen? I keep my pen in its own pocket because it has a terrible habit of vanishing. It transports my unique imprint onto the world. Thoughts, dreams, and each crafted turn of my signature flow from the ink of the voice God designed in me. The Lord poured an indelible purpose into each of us, but it can get lost at the bottom of the day if we don’t ask for specific time pockets from which to pull it forward.

Where’s your pen today? Ask the Lord to show you how to put it into a special place in your mixed bag. May the Creator bless each day and your signature upon it.

 

Hoarders get their own TV show. Commercials woo spenders throughout the channels. All the while, a hybrid beast lurks in the shadows. This creature remains under Hollywood’s radar. Ad companies and reality shows fail to exploit…the squandering hog.

If I didn’t know better, I’d assume rarity played a role in delaying its identification. You won’t find the squandering hog on the endangered species list, however. Commonness has proven an effective form of camouflage.

The squandering hog blends into populated areas, but can take refuge in secluded dwellings. The creature discards its valuables on mud and hoards worthless materials. Chaff, lint, and dust disintegrate when hoarded and the precious metals rust. The beast destroys resources needed by our world. A menace to mankind, this invasive species demands our intervention.

I must report this information will not appear in scientific research. Don’t bother googling the term, since I arrived at none of these conclusions through the work of academic institutions. I am well informed of the squandering hog’s habits and hiding techniques because I am one.

I squander my time and gifts in muddy television viewing and online window shopping. I complete my kids’ chores for them and fuss over a load or two of laundry, while writing time ticks away from the edge of my computer screen. Store clerks recognize me, since I make repeated trips each week to acquire unlisted items. I make appointments, manage accounts, oversee tasks. Grunt-like thoughts root around my head to instill the madness of squandering. I must do these things, I tell myself. No one else will. It’ll be awful if this doesn’t get done. After all, it’s not like I make the most money…

Squandering fatigues me. My body, heart, and mind sag. Weariness intensifies when it lacks spiritual purpose. In the midst of emptiness, I seek pampering. Resting in the Lord would renew and redirect my soul, but when rest deteriorates to self-indulgence, my snout appears. Hoarded possessions and food rot, but when I’m stingy with time and energy, they stink to high heaven.

Sound like a hopeless situation? Not at all. The apostle Paul experienced a similar dilemma. In Romans 7, he writes, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I am undergoing treatment for my squandering hog condition, and expect Christ to transform me into a new species. The process seems slow sometimes, but the Physician deserves my confidence and patience. My body, mind, and soul lay in His expert hands. I believe in His perfect work, and one day no one will recognize me as a beast, not even me.

Any other squandering hogs out there? I can recommend a Great Physician…

 

Categories

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,275 other followers

tyeagerwrites