This is the time of year when people are making New Year’s resolutions. Typically, the most common is to lose a few pounds.  I suspect you want to lose a couple of pounds. Maybe you need to lose a lot of pounds. Many of us do. From September 1 through December 27, I gained 15 pounds. I know, that’s really bad. I wasn’t bad for four months but I had a few good spells of being bad. On September 1, I weighed 198 pounds. Then on December 27, I weighed 213 pounds.

It’s hard for me to let go of Christmas. The scriptural admonitions woven into the Nativity of Christ to not be afraid are still on my mind. When the angel visited Mary in Nazareth, the words gushed from Gabriel’s mouth: “Do not be afraid … you have found favor with God.”  Seeing an angel right in front of her would have been terrifying.  Pondering it from this side, I wonder at how important those words would come to be. 

Many moons ago, my beloved was sharing a difficult situation with church consultant Dan Garland.  Things had been going splendidly…then they were not. Dan is a treasure.  He has been a Godsend to us.  Since our friendship began in 1999, he has shared from his heart stories of wonderful experiences from his days as a pastor and also gut-wrenching hard times that I am so thankful God brought him through.  Over the decades, he has shared insight, encouragement, and laughs with us.

Christmas is just a few days away. The younger grandchildren at my house are definitely excited. Presents were wrapped and put under the tree, and it is killing them to know what they are. I think I have heard, "Can we open just one present?” numerous times a day. 

Natalie Grant, the contemporary Christian artist, was interviewed on this year’s special “Christmas with Will Graham.” She learned early in life that Christmas is about giving. Grant was raised in Seattle, and every other year, her family piled into a motor home and traveled from Washington to San Diego to visit grandparents.

Our daughter, Missie, takes after her mother and is a lover of “lists.” Missie is 39 years old, has a form of autism, is developmentally delayed and basically operates on about an 11-year-old level. She loves to make Christmas lists. Now mind you her first sentence when she sends a list is always, “I don’t want much this year,” and then the list starts!

A middle schooler recently told his mother he didn’t like Sunday School because he knew all the Bible stories already.  I got a little bit tickled but beg to differ with that young man.  Even though I am 62, every single time I open God’s Word He speaks to me.

My brother Ken and I were in prison when our sister was born. At least it felt like prison. Our grandmother—we called her Mama Hudgins — piled four quilts onto our skinny bodies — bedded down in a cold, unheated room—turned the calendar toward the wall so that we wouldn’t strain our eyes trying to figure out the date, pulled the light chain and shut the door.

Thursday thoughts: Don't wait to obey God

Do you ever feel like you hear the phrase “Just a minute” quite often? Well, I know at my house I do. It feels like you can call a name and they seem to answer, “Just a minute.” I can ask someone to put away their items scattered around the house and they will say, “Just a minute.” A request can be made to get the mail and I normally hear, “Just a minute.” Sometimes when I have heard “Just a minute” enough I make the decision to just do it myself.

The Christmas rush is in full throttle and the pressure is on to get it all done before December 25. I admire those wise folks who make Christmas purchases all year long. Of course, if I was smart enough to purchase gifts ahead of time, I’d probably forget where I hid them.

A decades-old nearly life-sized Nativity set needed to be repainted.  I volunteered all the artsy people I knew to do it; I would help, too.  I’m no artist, but I thought it would be like a humungous paint by number: not too difficult, it would just take some time.

Last week at Thanksgiving we had our entire family together for the first time in a good while.  Our youngest daughter, who is disabled, at times chooses to not join.  It’s just a lot …

Even when we can’t feel it, God is working.  Even when we can’t see it, God has a plan. Those truths are obvious when you look at the x-ray of a child’s tooth. The baby tooth is easy to see, but just above or below it in the x-ray —depending on the location — you can clearly see the permanent one that is waiting for just the right time to make its appearance. 

In reflecting on the life of Rosalynn Carter, Americans should note her civility, a character trait that seems to be in short supply in today’s political world. She was a genuinely good woman, a wonderful example of a Christian lady, and a tireless humanitarian. Mrs. Carter didn’t tear others down. Instead, she built them up.

Here are some tips for Thanksgiving. Be thankful. Thanksgiving season is a good time to say thanks but we need to make it a lifestyle.  An attitude of thanksgiving is a good way to live. When you are daily thankful for your food, shelter, and the simplest things it elevates your sense of well-being.

Thursday thoughts: Sitting at Jesus' table

Thanksgiving has been on my mind since it is quickly approaching. As a child, the kids' table at family functions is a great memory for me. My dad had four brothers and when we all got together at my grandparents for Thanksgiving there were 12 adults, counting my grandparents, and 11 children. 

When our pastor preached a sermon about “Thanksliving” instead of “Thanksgiving” decades ago, I teased him mercilessly.  We were dear friends; it’s what friends do.  It was “Happy Thanksliving” this and “Happy Thanksliving” that.  (I wasn’t nearly as mature as I am now.)  I worked the word “Thanksliving” into every conversation. 

I didn’t want to share my pie.  That sounds terrible, but it was blackberry — my very favorite.  While Mr. and Mrs. Walker had given it to my beloved for Pastor Appreciation Day, I knew it was actually for me, because they know it’s my very favorite.  My beloved doesn’t like the seeds, so it was all mine.  It’s one of those treasures from heaven I only get a few times of year.  I planned to enjoy every single morsel.

Thursday thoughts: Give me a break!

"Give me a break!"  I am sure you have heard this phrase or even said it a time or two. Honestly, I feel like I have said it so many times the last year or so – not necessarily in a …

Stories abound in the land of the Hatfields and McCoys.  Some are true. Some are not. One such tale told in the mountains of eastern Kentucky is of The Ball Fork Monster.  There are many versions.  This is the one I know. A fellow known as Blue Eyes was likeable with a good personality.  He was well known in the community.  A well-known fact about Blue Eyes was that he loved to drink. And when he was under the influence of alcohol, he made terrible decisions.

I don’t know if you are a contact wearer, but I am.  My grandchildren think it’s odd that I wear my glasses on rainy days instead of my contacts.  I try to tell them for some reason I just see better with my glasses when it’s raining.  The glare from the car lights doesn’t bother me as much and I just seem to focus better. 

The great evangelist D. L. Moody loved to study his Bible, and he realized one day that he had never tackled the topic of grace. He took a day and did a Bible study on God’s grace. A second day was required, and then a third. By the afternoon of the third day, Moody was so filled with the idea of God’s grace that he had to go out on the street and talk to someone about it.

Old age gets one to thinking about things that used to be. Here are some of mine: I used to be able to endure really loud music. But now that I am many years beyond the minimum age for AARP membership, I avoid extremely loud music at all costs—and it must show.

“They just put a deer head in the back of the car.”  Not a usual text to my kids.  Still, it was true.  I could see antlers sticking out of the bag. My beloved had killed his first deer (an eight-point) and was having it processed.  The body was at the butcher being prepped to share with a family at church.  We were taking the head to the taxidermist.  Hence my text about it being in the back. 

Wayne and I took two of our granddaughters to a church carnival this past weekend. This carnival was on a very grand scale with rides, games, jump houses and many other things. The girls were so excited. One of the things they both wanted to do was go into one of the jump houses. These are the inflatable structures that come in many shapes and sizes. This particular jump house was shaped like a huge rectangle.

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