What Does the Future Hold?

IMG_6108My Christmas tree, an Evergreen symbol of eternal life, stands stripped of its color and lights. Waits to be thrown away like last week’s used gift-wrap.

I pinch the needles, still soft and green. Run my fingers like a comb through strands of silver tinsel clinging to its branches. Pine scent lingers, but the Christmas gifts are gone.

Refrigerator shelves, once crowded with a feast, look bare.

Cookie platter has nothing left but crumbs.

And the living room, where guests sang carols, is filled with empty chairs.

Christmas has come and gone. All gone, like 2012.

A melancholy sigh escapes my lips.

All gone, except the dust and piles of dirty laundry.

Why does the Creche on the mantel suddenly seem out of place? God’s gift to the world is no less real just because it’s New Year’s Day.

Move Baby Jesus to a storage bin, toss the Christmas tree outside. Dust the mantel, vacuum pine needles, put tangled lights into a pile.

Christmas time is gone.

Even the stores have moved on. Their shelves once stocked with candy canes, now display pink heart-shaped candy.

Winter rain will come, perhaps it will even snow.

But today the sun is shining so my dismal mood must go.

Daylight stretches longer, beckoning more warmth.

And dormant bulbs beneath a cold, hard ground, are scheduled to appear when the Groundhog comes to town. Will he see his shadow?

The good Lord only knows.

Till then, I …

Peruse mental snap shots of  family far and near; and the extraordinary “in laws” we met two weeks shy of the new year.

I remember forever friends, new friends discovered, and the kindness of strangers who once crossed my path.

A new calendar hangs on my wall, twelve months of the unknown. For example, who knew this time last year, the abundant blessings God had in store? Who could predict ill health, tears wept, and painful losses that made me shout, ‘no more!’

I glance through last year’s journal to read from whence I came. Reminders I can trust the Lord to walk with me through the coming days.

God is present and He loves me…whatever 2013 holds.

“I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,

with thee, O Father, as my harbour,

           thee, O Son, at my helm,

           thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.”

Puritan Prayer from The Valley of Vision

HELP WANTED


My husband looked at me. “Do you have enough to carry?”

I stood in the kitchen laden with two plastic grocery bags weighing down my left arm. My purse strap hung like an anchor over my right shoulder. And my right hand clutched the car keys, mail, and dry cleaning.

He grabbed the hangers and mail while I plopped the bags on the counter. “Why didn’t you ask for help?”

Breathing hard, I rubbed the red marks on my arm where the bags had cut off circulation. “It never occurred to me.”

 Asking for help has never been my forte.  Even to my own detriment.

Twelve years ago, when we moved into our home, I refused offers of help. “No thanks, I can do this.”

And I did.

My husband was on a trip. And I had a week to unpack cartons, put my kitchen cabinets in order, and hang pictures before we traveled out of town for the kids’ spring vacation. I burned the candle at both ends, and guzzled caffeinated java to keep the candle burning. Then wondered why I ended up in the emergency room with heart palpitations.

Okay, so I learned to eat better. But give me a calendar and watch me fill in the empty squares. Ask for a volunteer, and see my hand go up.  One would think I’d never heard the word, “NO.”

YES, I’ve heard of it…..

Anyway, for the past month, I’ve been preparing for a writer’s conference. I’ve spent every free moment, writing and editing.

Then last week, I looked at my calendar and there were NO free moments. My sore wrists, stiff neck, and bloodshot eyes declared, “ENOUGH!”

Time with the Lord, and family responsibilities weren’t up for debate. I had to whittle down the volunteer duties and fun activities. I had to say NO.

I ALSO HAD TO ASK FOR HELP!

It was difficult squeezing that four-letter word out of my mouth.  It seemed weak until I saw the POWER.

Not only did people agree to help, they encouraged me with prayers and notes. The jobs got done. I watched the evening news and the world did not fall apart because I was not there.

In fact, thankfully, my small world was there for me!  

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 NLT)