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

How Do I Give Up Control?

My teenage son is going on a weekend trip. He waits till the last minute to pack his duffel bag. I follow him out the front door with my mental checklist.

“Did you pack extra socks? You want to keep your feet warm.”

“One pair should be enough.”

“Did you pack sunscreen?”

“Someone else should have some.”

“Do you have a flashlight?”

No answer.

I’d say my voice is going in his one ear and out the other, but there’s an ear bud inserted into his right ear.

Dad’s voice, “Leave him alone. He’ll be fine.”

“What if he forgets something he needs?”

“Then he’ll remember it next time.”

They drive away, leaving an exasperated mother. “I wonder if he packed a tooth brush.”

My daughter says I’d make a great administrative assistant. Even when I leave home, I type out detailed instructions.

“Water the plants on these days. Don’t forget to take out garbage. In case of emergency, call….blah, blah, blah.”

Okay, so I micro manage.  I’m being real here. But how do I give up control?

Do I allow my child to learn from his mistakes and suffer the consequences when I can prevent many what ifs from happening?

Or can I?

Through no fault of her own, my friend was in a serious car accident. Her daily routine and future plans came to an abrupt halt. While she recuperates, I cringe. What if that happened to me?

Ruled by the tyranny of the urgent, I don’t have time to pause in mid-sentence and wait for life to resume.

Or do I?

Sixteen years ago, I gave birth to my son a week before Christmas. He was three weeks ahead of schedule. Unable to breathe on his own, he was hooked to a ventilator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

I had no control.

Instead of running nonstop to prepare for the holidays, I spent two weeks being still in a dim hospital room with my newborn infant. Baking cookies, mailing Christmas cards, and a dozen other holiday traditions didn’t happen that year. However,

When I loosened my grip on everything I thought was important

Surrendered my expectations

Kept my mind fixed on the Sovereign God

Trusted Him regardless of the outcome

“He kept me in perfect peace.” Isaiah 26:3

He still does ….

When I give up my need for control, and sit still in His presence.