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Archive for December, 2011

I was at the mall last week picking up photos for our Christmas cards. Although I had already completed Christmas shopping, I checked out a few advertised items at several stores and browsed through Barnes and Noble to see if my book, “God Placed Her in My Path,” was on their shelves yet. It wasn’t!

I observed numerous men who were either pacing, impatiently waiting for their wives to finish a purchase or wandering aimlessly trying to find the last minute priceless/perfect gift for someone special. They all had a far-away, desperate, and vague look on their faces, which indicated to me they felt the chances of getting that perfect gift were slim to zero. One of them spoke frankly to a friend he ran into and I overheard him say jokingly, “I have been searching through the stores, but I don’t have a clue as to what she would like. I think I’m just going to Best Buy next to purchase what ‘I’ really want.”

Out in the hall in front of JC Penney, I bumped into the youth pastor from my church. He was one of those men impatiently waiting for his wife, who was inside the store. It was obvious he was sincerely hoping her transaction would have been completed by then, but she was nowhere in sight. I teased him saying, “I’m surprised to see you here, I would have thought this to be too early for you to shop for Christmas (one week and 2 days before the big day).” He laughingly agreed. I moved on, leaving him hopelessly standing there with one small package in hand, while still stretching his neck to find his wife.

Is there really such a thing as “the perfect gift?” When the day we all so anticipate is over and the wrappings, bows, and tags are in the trash, there still remains an emptiness in our souls that can’t be satisfied by anything material, no matter how  precious it once seemed.

This morning my tranquility time was rudely interrupted by a nasty remark from a self-absorbed nineteen-year-old. He thinks he can pop in and out of our home whenever it’s convenient, grab a leftover from the refrigerator (usually something I had planned to serve for the next meal), catch an occasional night’s sleep, but objects when I ask him “please” to drop his laundry, which has been turned right side out, in the laundry room. His barrage was so foul, it even raised my husband’s ire, something that seldom happens.

Just the night before, this young man politely asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I replied, “I don’t need anything, but let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.” Now, I knew what it was I want most – RESPECT AND APPRECIATION, CONDUCT I CAN BE PROUD OF!!

Wouldn’t you know, God is always on time with the priceless/perfect gift solution? As I was seething with anger from the caustic exchange, trying to get back to tranquility, but determined to delete this boy’s code from the lock on our back door, I opened a little magazine called “Gentle Doves,” by Ruth Olson of Red Wing, MN. This is what she wrote on page 18 of the November/December 2011 issue.

Here is a list of priceless gifts to give for Christmas…

To your enemy – forgiveness

To your opponent – tolerance

To your friends – your heart

To your children – a good example

To your father – deference

To your mother – conduct that will make her proud of you

To yourself – respect

To everyone else – charity

May you receive the most priceless and perfect gift of all, THE PRINCE OF PEACE, who is the only one who can provide the power and strength you need to give these gifts to others!

Merry Christmas!

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Tranquility vs STUFF

Tranquility…  My soul thirsts for it. I long for just thirty minutes of uninterrupted quiet time in the morning when I can gather my thoughts, pray, and read something inspiring. Some days it doesn’t happen and as the day unfolds and my life gets filled with STUFF, I get more and more frustrated and thirsty for tranquility.

Speaking of STUFF, this week we put the Christmas tree up. Before we brought it up from the basement storage area, we had to move some furniture in the living room to clear space for it. There, beside the couch, was that pile of STUFF – unopened mail, magazines turned back to articles unfinished, books loaned to me by friends but unread, and paperwork that needed to be filed. The stack was about 12 inches high. With a hugh sigh, I placed it on the couch. My intentions were to go through it, sort, file, and throw away. However, 24 hours later, I still hadn’t done it so I picked up the pile again and placed it back on the floor next to the couch. “Maybe next week,” I thought, “Or, after Christmas when things slow down.”

Our lives get cluttered with STUFF, which robs us of our tranquility. And, I don’t mean just STUFF in the physical sense. Our emotional, mental, and spiritual lives also collect clutter. Worry, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, all pile up and attribute to our lack of tranquility. We sometimes can’t deal with this pile of STUFF so we shove it back down in our hearts, to be faced when things slow down. But things never slow down and we keep adding to the pile.

Mary Jenson, in her book Still Life, writes the following, “We want to worry about less. We want to feel clean, purified, at peace inside. We want order without and calm within. But so often our attempts at simplicity go awry. Or nowhere. Or get lost in a pile. Is there any woman who doesn’t feel this need keenly almost every day? When it gets too strong, I usually start cleaning. The clutter around me reminds me of the clutter within. So I attack the garage, the Tupperware collection, the junk drawer in the kitchen. I even throw out superfluous  cosmetics I’m convinced I’ll never need… But a month later the spaces are filled again.”

Clutter collects in every household and in every mind and heart. The question is, how do we get rid of it? How do we reach tranquility in the process of doing life overloaded with STUFF? For me, purging the emotional, mental, and spiritual has to take priority over the physical clutter. That is why I need at least thirty minutes a day (in the morning) to de-clutter my mind and heart before God. Some days it is confessing my shortcomings and asking for forgiveness, mercy, grace, and a greater measure of faith. Some days it is surrendering all those things I try to control but cannot. Some days it is praising and thanking Him for everything and everyone that He has placed in my path. Some days it is sitting quietly and doing nothing.

Do you yearn for tranquility? Is STUFF getting in your way? Take some time to spend with your Creator!

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