The Day after Christmas

It was the day after Christmas, and all through the house
every creature was tired, even the mouse.

All the presents were opened, the stockings too
Most of the goodies were eaten and enjoyed too.

Family close, sometimes, not
Family, close sometimes, sometimes not

Places full, hearts full
Places empty, memories fostered there amid the pain

Traditions – some last long, some start new
Traditions – made to create memories

The Reason? What’s the Reason for the Season?
Is it a new XBox or iPad or laptop?

Or a trip to somewhere that’s not here?
A place to post pictures from that make people jealous?

No, that’s not the reason
Though Best Buy and Apple would say

And don’t forget Hallmark and their happily ever after
Each one ends the same yet people still like them.

Christmas – its a beginning, a time of celebration
It’s also a time to remember and be grateful

Grateful for the Baby
And grateful for the Son

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Hmmm….

You know, one of the things I really like is when you can read the Bible in a different version and the change of the words even just slightly produces a thought or a moment that makes you think harder or differently about your life, the Bible, the World or something totally different.

Acts 18:1-8 is one of those sort of packages for me.  Packages?

Yes, when I read Acts 18:1-8 today three things jumped out at me:

  • When Paul got to Corinth, he stayed with displaced people.  But they are Jewish just like he was.
  • Even in Paul’s life, there is a time where he had to “do something else” to make a living while still doing ministry.  The start of his efforts in Corinth were not self sustaining.
  • Paul’s greatest success in ministry in Corinth happened not to “his own” people, but happened with people from other nations.

Hmmmm….

TJV

On the Importance of being Quiet

(I wrote this last month while spending time with my family at the cottage of some friends of ours.)

Quiet

Shh…..

Can you hear it? Uh, no?

That’s the point!

Quiet

It refreshes the soul

It helps you notice different things.

I went for a walk

And saw three deer standing in the road.

I stopped and watched them.

They stopped and watched me.

Would I have seen them in the car?

Nope – because scared by the noise, the second and third deer wouldn’t have came out on the road.

Looking down the road to see this guy walking and being quiet.

I slowly walked closer but was still a ways down the road.

“That’s close enough” and off they ran into the woods.

I turned and resumed my walk.

Taking notice of the quiet.

Sitting by the lake as the sun sets

the boats are all in for the day

And then you hear it.

Quiet conversation around a campfire – but where? 

Oh look – it’s from across the lake.

In the quiet of the evening, 

important sounds no longer get drowned out

by sounds that don’t matter

By sounds that don’t matter.

Laughter is no longer covered up by the sound of noisy boats.

The need for TV noise is replaced by the desire for outdoor quiet.

Quiet – it’s something we all need.

Quiet – it’s something we rarely get.

I’ve come to appreciate quiet a lot more since January 30, 2018. That’s the day I lost most of my quiet.

Tinnitus is what they call it.   

Constant sound in my head – that’s what I call it

sometimes loud and obnoxious, sometimes softer and just annoying.

When my damaged ears have to compete with the noise in my head, 

there really is no winner.

So what do you do?

I’m still working on that one.  

But you value the quiet you have

Even when there is sound trying to get away.

Enjoy

The

Quiet

TJV

Facebook says….

“So what’s on your mind?”

So what do you know?

What’s happening?

How are ya doing?

Lots of people ask those questions.

I don’t think they really want to know the answers.

I’m not sure I know how to answer them.
What do I know? How much time do you have?

I know that we live in a very noisy world and if you can’t hear it all, you miss out. Even if you just miss the part you were supposed to hear.

I know it’s an oxymoron to be hard of hearing and overly sensitive to loud noises at.the.same.time. (But it’s true)

I know that saying, “no” is hard to do. But saying no to some things enables you to say yes to others.

I know that the kindness of strangers is a powerful thing.  So be one.

I know that…..

What’s happening?

My youngest started her senior year in high school. My next oldest starts college next week. 

How did they do that without me getting any older?

I know that “denial” is more than just a river in Egypt. 🙂

I know that every day there are people around you and around me who are hurting. 

They don’t need us to solve their problems (at least not some of them), they just need someone to see them, to hear them and to say that they matter.

Kids are starting school – which means people who drive cars near schools need to be extra careful.

Kids are starting school – which means there are a lot of kids who are stressed out – be nice to someone today – they probably need it.

Unseen medical conditions often lead to misunderstood and lonely people.

Someone with a chronic illness, especially an unseen one, is more than their illness and deserves to be seen that way.

Relate to them as people first, medical condition second.

If you ask “how are you doing?” Be prepared for an answer. 

It’s worse to ask the question and not wait for an answer than it would be to just say, “Hi!” Or “Good to see you!”

The ache to be “normal” is very strong – especially in those battling chronic illnesses.
When your “normal” is changed by a chronic illness, it’s a tough thing to have to work through.

When your answer to how you are doing includes a reference to Google, then you know that you are “special” – “I’ve been dealing with an AVM for 41 years.” “What’s an AVM?” “It’s a problem with the blood vessels in my shoulder, neck and up into my head. Google it if you want to know more.”

And we put one foot in front of the other….

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Seeing God in the Cafeteria

(Note, this actually happened on May 30 – it’s just taken me a few days to get it to the point of feeling it is ready to share). A few weeks ago, I wrote about a concert that the Potter’s House Gospel Choir gave. It gave me hope. You can read that here.

This morning, I saw something else.

I saw promise.

I saw promises made and promises that came true.

Come with me.

It’s about 7:10 and the principal and a few other staff are putting the finishing touch on lining up chairs in the cafeteria. There’s a great big circle of chairs.

Hmmm, this doesn’t look like the prayer services that I’ve been at before.

A few of the seniors come in, a few parents do as well. No one is quite sure what to do. But the kids know and they start sitting down in the circle of chairs.

Before long all of the chairs are filled by students. Around the circle, parents and teachers are just kind of wandering, talking amongst themselves. Sharing relief that their student made it, sharing the happiness of an accomplishment, sharing stories of growth (and stories of white water rafting and baseball games at 2:00 in the morning in the Indianapolis airport).

Little by little over the next 10 to 15 minutes, people drift in. And then all of the chairs are full and the principal welcomes all of us to a time of prayer. He opens with a prayer and then says that for the next 30 minutes or so, it’s time to pray for the seniors.

And then it happened.

It started with just a few quiet prayers. And it grew.

And it grew.

Parents praying for their own kids.

Parents praying for their kids friends.

Parents praying for the kids of their friends.

Teachers praying for every student.

Teachers from the middle school came over to pray for these “their” students.

Administrators praying over every student individually.

Prayers of thanks for what God has done for them. And through them.

Prayers of support as they venture into the “unknown.”

Giving thanks and celebrating God’s promises kept.

Claiming God’s promises into the future.

And you could feel the atmosphere shift in the cafeteria. It wasn’t the lunch room at school.

It was a place of worship. And God was doing something special.

He was saying, “These are my children. I’ve got them.”

“I promise.”

Just as the parents were feeling the emotions of a milestone, whether easy or hard, God was saying, “Have hope for the future. I’ve got them.”

Just as the seniors were feeling the mixed emotions that come at a time like this, God was saying, “Have hope, my child, I’ve got you. Trust me and hold on to my promises”

I’ve seen hope and I’ve seen promise.

And I see a class of high school graduates who have both and have them for such a time as this.

God is good, all the time.

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