Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘family’

What’s Left after Christmas?

Christmas is finished and decorations will soon be down. The carols have all been sung.  Family reunions have been enjoyed (or tolerated, as the case may be).  The gifts have been wrapped, unwrapped, enjoyed for a while, and some of them broken, returned to the store, or forgotten.  The partying has produced an expanded waistline and a slim checkbook.  The aftermath of Christmas can leave you with a deflated feeling, especially if you live in a cold climate with several more dreary months of winter. 

But the best gift of Christmas just keeps getting better.

I’m reminded of the birth of our children.  It was such fun anticipating the happy event.  We prepared baby clothes, toys, and equipment.  We dreamed of what it would be like to hold this baby in our arms.  Finally the big day arrived with all its excitement—and then it was over.  No, it had just begun.  I’d find myself busy in the kitchen and then remember with a surge of joy that I had a new baby sleeping in the other room!  He has been a wonderful part of my life to stay, after all the excitement over his birth.

So Jesus, the whole reason for CHRISTmas, is here to stay after all the excitement of the event has died down.  The question is, what will we do with Him?  Do we put him away on the shelf with the decorations until next December rolls around?  Do we trade Him in for something more glitzy?  Or do we welcome Him into our lives with love and honor every day—and enjoy Christmas all year long?

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One of the Saints

In the country where I live, November 1 is a big day at the cemeteries.  People arrived all day with flowers, tables and chairs and food.  Some even stayed overnight next to the graves of their loved ones.  It’s All Saints’ Day, and the next day (so no one will be left out) is All Souls Day.

Ken Anderson & wife, Christian film maker

But to me, November 1 is the day for remembering one of those saints in particular:  my dad.  That is the day on which he entered his heavenly home thirteen years ago.  He was a saint, not because he was perfect, but because that’s what God calls those who become His children through by receiving the forgiveness and new life He offers through Jesus.  (See John 1:12; 1 Corinthians 1:2.)

I honor my dad for many things that he taught me, whether intentionally or just by example.  Here are some of them:

–To love his spouse and honor her.  (I never heard them argue but I often caught them smooching Red heart.)

–To love the Bible.  I would often find him reading it in the morning in his favorite chair.  And he knew how to simply share the message with others, both in church and around the supper table.

–To have fun and enjoy life Smile.  We went camping and enjoyed spontaneous picnics and drives in the country.  We had Family Nights with games, silliness, and snacks. I remember so well his contagious smile.  We even had our “secret” family recipe for candy that he would supervise on special occasions—Yum!

–To put God first in financial affairs. I remember the chart on which he kept track of the family’s giving to several missionaries and other ministries, even on a meager salary.  He and Mom taught me from an early age to give generously to the Lord and also to save for the future.

–To do what is right no matter what.  There were times when this was painful and unpopular, but he wouldn’t back down.  And he was respected for it.  By his example, I learned courage and sisu*.

–To love reading.  To always be truthful.  To honor family and friendships.

–To do one’s best. He made some beautiful things out of wood. He expressed confidence in me and pride in my efforts and accomplishments.  I especially appreciated his help with studying the night before a test. 

–To accept one’s limitations and make the most of them.  He joined in the joking about his lack of musical ability and his short stature.  But to me, he was a great man.  I look up to him and am pleased when someone remarks how like him I am.

 

* Sisu (pronounced – see’-soo) is a unique Finnish concept. It is a Finnish term that can be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.  (finlandia.edu/sisu-our-finnish-identity.html)

A Bit of Heaven

I’m still reveling in the joy and beauty of the other evening with our son and his young family.  A neighbor had brought over a new picnic table for the deck, so we all went out and sat around —six children and seven adults, including the “other” grandparents, our very sick granddaughter and her nurse. 

We basked in the perfect temperature and prolonged light as the sun prepared to set behind the trees.  The birdsongs were extraordinary.  Before us lay the yard with its lush lawn and colorful garden. The kids entertained us with creative tricks on the swing set.  We savored yummy mini cheesecakes that another neighbor had brought.  We enjoyed one another’s company as we chatted and then gathered the kids back on the deck for “Bible time” from a book for children about heaven, which is much on our minds these days. But this evening was a foretaste of heaven, and I will always cherish its memory. 

Thank you, Father, for these feasts for the senses, mind, soul, and spirit.  You are so good!

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