"Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable." —Philippians 4:8
Happy New Year!
This greeting alone seems to offer cheer...and hope. And don't we all need something to look ahead to after the glories of the Christmas holidays—family, fun, and festivities? Some of us may even be a bit sad, if not sorrowing, missing loved ones who traveled to spend time with us to celebrate. Moving forward keeps us focused on the positive, don't you agree? I certainly discovered this when we took our youngest children to the airport following Christmas. Ah, the blues set in ever so quickly!
But, in pondering the above verse in Philippians, the words that really seemed to pop out at me were: things that are true. And they led me to look up the old, beloved Tennyson poem:
"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."
What if we turned away from false reports, false statements, friends? What if, instead, we focused on the truth, the positive, the very best in people, which raises us, as well. Why not turn over a new leaf, so to speak, and embrace the truth? The Truth of God's calling in our lives, in particular, to spread the Gospel in all the corners of this dark world, dear friends? And let's begin right at home, in the small corner of our own influence. Are you in?
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." —Isaiah 9:6
Just think of it, friend. Daily we seek wisdom and guidance on various levels. We strive for strength and health in mind and body. We grasp for longevity—to live long and prosper.
We hope for good education for our children and grandchildren, and for great success, too...and fit bodies, organic foods, alert minds, thriving relationships, fast cars, and nice houses. We yearn for courage and confidence and security.
But of all the things we long for, isn't peace the most elusive?
The Prince of Peace came to planet Earth in the unexpected form of a baby, in the middle of our chaos and clamoring for more and more...and more. Immanuel: God is with us. The Lord of Peace and Hope.
This Christmas season, my wish and prayer is that we may know and embrace the Peace that is mind-boggling, incomprehensible. The longed-for Peace that stills our trembling soul, and beckons us to kneel before His manger-cradle...calls us to surrender at His redemption-Cross. This amazing Peace invites us to stand with devoted hearts flung wide at His empty tomb. He is our greatest treasure, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Gift of Peace.
"Then he taught them many things by using stories. He said:
'A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. While the farmer was scattering the seed, some of it fell along the road and was eaten by birds. Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn’t very deep. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and dried up, because they did not have enough roots. Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked the plants. But a few seeds did fall on good ground where the plants produced a hundred or sixty or thirty times as much as was scattered. If you have ears, pay attention!'"—Matthew 13:3-9 (CEV)
Recently, I had the heart-warming privilege of visiting Williamstown, KS ("Bill Town" as referred to by the locals). Back in 1947, as a young newlywed, my father was the pastor of the only church in this community of a mere three blocks. Dad reached out to every resident in that rural community, and beyond. He and my mother lived in a drafty, old house on the outskirts of town—I've learned more by reading my mother's diary of those years—and were paid with chickens and occasional bags of groceries. They struggled to make ends meet and to put enough food on the table, and my mother wrote in her daily journal: "This house is a house of prayer," which indicates their never-wavering trust in God's ability to supply their most basic needs. And, He did!
While I was there a few weeks ago, I believe I found the old house where they lived, and also happily discovered a thriving congregation there....AND a rather large attendance at the Cowboy Church just around the corner. What a joy to learn that the seeds my father sowed are continuously springing forth for God's glory.
I'm thanking God for the ministerial call on Daddy's life (he would have celebrated 89 years this month)...and for his answering that precious call here on earth. As well as when God called him Home last January 9th.
What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving season, dear reader-friend?
“Don’t you say, ‘In four more months the harvest will be here’? I’m telling you to look and see that the fields are ready to be harvested.”—John 4:35 (God’s Word Translation)
Happy autumn season from my house…to yours!
Does the scent of wood smoke and pumpkin pie make you smile? Does it bring back delicious memories of childhood?
Back in Lancaster County Amish country the harvest is in full swing. Soon, apples will be pressed for cider, and snitz pie will appear on long, trestle tables in many Plain farmhouses, at farmers' markets, and all around the county. Ah, the harvest!
When I think of this particular fall, I will always remember your generosity and thoughtfulness during my recent book tour to Pennsylvania, and one stop in Maryland. You are the most wonderful fans ever! Thanks, truly, for the royal welcome I received at every stop along the way. (See tour pictures posted here.)
Presently, I’m settled in at home again and happily “polishing pages” for my spring novel, The Love Letters (available March 24, 2015). We had our first sighting of snow atop Pikes Peak, which possibly means a brisk autumn. But my heart is warm, indeed, with God’s love, while I finish up the editorial process. All for my amazing reader-friends!
May God bless you with His abundant peace, comfort, healing, joy, and His great and amazing grace. And then, let's use those beautiful gifts to bless others...a harvest of divine compassion and love and caring.