Saturday, December 7, 2013


So far this weekend has been an absolutely poetic representation of what Christmas is all about.  It began last night with two families from our church coming over and all of us eating pizza, watching our kids draw on the chalk board table, and telling stories of who we used to be compared to who we are now.  Oh, how Christ has changed us and made us more whole.
After that, despite a sparkly, slippery snow we drove over the river and through the woods to a Journey to Bethlehem. The church that put on the journey to Bethlehem did an amazing representation of what a marketplace would look like in the day of Jesus's birth.  We got to smell the stable smells, see Roman soldiers walking around, and even see little girls stomping grapes in their bare feet.  
After we left the site of the manger and the new born king, we walked back to our "metal camels" in a steady snow fall. 
Despite the slippery roads and the snow fall becoming a bit heavier, we decided we would go visit a few friends and family and share with them in song about the glory of what we just saw in Bethlehem!  The twelve of us Christmas caroling to country homes that would rarely ever get a caroler, spreading the beautiful news of Christ was so beautiful, so meaningful.  And the way our voices all wove together, in a rich way...well, I know it blessed my heart.  I hope that God was honored in it.
The thing I love about Christmas is it lends magic to everything.  Even a snowfall.  While finishing up at the Journey to Bethlehem, the rest of our group had walked ahead, and I was holding Lydia's hand as we walked.  The lanterns from Bethlehem were lighting Lydia's little face as she said, "Momma, the snowflakes are stars visiting us."
Oh, be still my beating Momma's heart.  Moments, so precious like that, are tucked away in my heart forever, being cherished.
Last weekend I read a lot about Mary and Elizabeth as they prepared for the births of their sons. (Elizabeth was John the Baptists mother...he was a very important part of the story of Jesus.)  It amazes me how much reflecting, pondering, and secluding of themselves they did.  They knew the moments they were experiencing were meant to be treasured.  
That's why I love the soft glow of a Christmas tree, or the gentle flickering of a Christmas candle with silent night being played softly on the piano.  They are reminders to slow down, to treasure, and to enjoy the promises of God in your life.  It also reminds me to reflect on the truths in God's word that are so easy to overlook, especially in what has become a hustle and bustle kind of season.  
I'm thankful for good, godly women that God has given me as friends.  They encourage me to slow down and take a break from Christmas "stuff" and instead enjoy Christmas reflections.  They help reinforce what God is teaching me.  That Christmas hope and magic is found in the most simple of blessings.  From the birth of a baby in a manger, to walking hand in hand with my little girl in the snow, to worshiping God with a heart of thanksgiving all season all year long.  They are all gifts, and I intend to make the most of treasuring them.  I pray you do the same.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I honestly have no idea who Paul Tillich is, or what the man believes, or even if he is still alive, but I love how eloquently he penned that phrase above.  

Tonight, I'm claiming solitude as a little pre-Christmas gift to myself.

I love people.  I love being around people.  Sharing meals with them, visiting with them, dancing, laughing, and praying with them.  But sometimes, especially when I've had day after day of socializing with people, I just long to be alone.

Some nights, that plan includes instrumental music and my laptop waiting for new characters and plots to be written.

Some days I walk along a path, watching the way the leaves move in the breeze, or listening to a brook babble over rocks that stick out above the surface of the water. 

Some nights it just means laying in my bed, rubbing my feet against the soft, cool, red sheets that I use during winter time.

Often, I will escape to the library and read magazines for an hour or two.

Tonight, that plan of solitude includes a bubble bath and my Bible app reading Scripture to me while I soak.

No matter what the plan, the goal is just to relax.  To take care of me and my need for peace.  It gives me a chance to connect with God on a deeper level.

Solitude is a gift that we can only give ourselves.  If someone else gives it to us, it tends to feel more like loneliness.  I encourage you, sometime this holiday season, to seize an hour and give yourself the gift of solitude.  It's good for your soul.  It's wonderful for reflecting on the season we are in.  And best of all...when we take time for solitude, the time we spend surrounded by people feels more like a blessing.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


December 3, 1991.  I remember writing that date in third grade.  I went to Mr. Holcomb's classroom for a special class, and we had our composition notebooks that were tan with the red fabric binding.  I had been getting really good at writing cursive, and I wrote the date.  It looked so pretty on the upper right hand side of my page. In fact, it looked so nice that I decided that day that December 3 would always be my favorite day of the year from there on out.  Yeah, I was an interesting kid.
December 3, 1996.  We had moved to a little farm out by Woodcock Dam.  We had lots of beef cows, a big pasture to play in.  And for some reason a college student came to our house from Allegheny wanting to study the organisms living in our back pond.  He was a nice looking guy and I remember Lisa and I giggled as we thought about the handsome college student playing back in the pond we always played in.  I remember that I thought he was the cutest man I had ever seen, and I was pretty sure that I was going to marry that man.  I remember thinking that December 3 must really be my lucky day.  
I was wrong about marrying the biology major from Allegheny, but I still love December 3.
December 3, 2004.  I was working in the Student Activities Office at Edinboro University.  I worked with the secretary, Bonnie.  David came into work early that day and asked Bonnie if he could steal me a little early.  She agreed, and David drove me home.  At that time, I lived with a family from my church in this big, red, farm house. I had my own little space there.  A little room, with my own bathroom, and they had lent me space in the living room to put up a Christmas tree.  I loved living there, and I loved that they let me be part of their family.  And, I really loved my Christmas tree.  I had spent two days making it just the way I had always wanted a Christmas tree to look.
When I walked into my room that day, David had already been there.  He had cleaned up the space and made it really pretty and tidy.  He had also bought me flowers, and put little post it notes around the room saying sweet things about me.  I walked into my living room with the tree and noticed that David had built a fire in the fireplace.  "Hey, Sarah, I bought you a new ornament," David said.  The tree was not a very tall tree, and because I was so young and lacking in cash, there were not a ton of ornaments on the it, but as I walked over the tree I didn't see anything.  At least not at first.  But, as my eyes scanned the tree, I saw a beautiful frosted glass treble clef.  Hanging from the tail of the clef was a ring.  I still can see my hands reaching for the ring.  I reached up with my left hand and touched the ring.  "Is that what I think it is?" I asked in disbelief.  
Nodding, David took the ring off the ornament and assumed the proposal position.  My heart was racing and I said yes.  After that, we kissed.  For the very first time.  It was sweet. And wonderful.  David then ran into my room and pulled out his guitar and sang a song he had wrote for me.  It's the only song David has ever written, and I'm pretty sure the only song that he could ever fully play on the guitar.  I then remember asking him if we could call people and tell them.  I called my sister.  She had been napping, and was quite annoyed at the interruption. But, she reminded me, as always.  "I like David. He's the most normal of all your friends."  I remember calling all kinds of people, celebrating and stealing a few more first kisses.  Then we went out to dinner with David's sister Cathi and her new husband Curtis.  On the way home, I realized all this amazingness happened on December 3.  There was no coincidence there. 
December 3, 2005  It had been one year since David proposed. We've been married for almost six months. We wake up early because I'm pregnant and I have to pee all the time.  We start talking about what a fun Saturday we are going to have.  But, the phone rings at 6:00am.  It's David's best buddy wanting him to go hunting.  I agree, but not with a good attitude.  David ends up shooting his first deer and I do not see him again until 8:00 p.m.  David's mom takes me out to Uncle Charlie's pizza to celebrate the year anniversary of our engagement while my husband is gutting a deer.  Not as romantic.  That was the day of our first fight.  Looking back now, it's funny.  That day, it was tragic.  
December 3, 2010  I had been in North Carolina, driving home in a snow storm.  David gets called to New Jersey for work.  I'm hurrying home to see him before he has to leave.  I get home just in time to kiss him before he leaves for a week.  Over the course of the next three days it snows 55 inches in our town.  I'm snowed in and do not travel anywhere while David is away.
December 3, 2013  I wake up to two kids fighting about toothpaste and snow pants. I'm exausted and could really use another hour of sleep.  It's cold.  I know the check book is nearing empty and the house has all kinds of cleaning that needs done.  But, I see David walk by in the hallway and I gently call out, "Hey, honey.  Come here please."  He comes in and stands next to me.  "Thanks for proposing."  He leans down and kisses me.  I smile.
I still love December 3.