Knit and Pray

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Raging Fever and Christmas Lights.

 I haven't posted this week because the dreaded December Crud hit our household. On Sunday evening, my adult daughter with special needs got it first. Yesterday she was well enough to handle some of the daily stuff to keep our household going. Good thing because Thursday night at 7:00 PM, it landed on me. Horrible sore throat, stuffy head, general misery.Since I am a prime candidate for pneumonia, all of us feel uneasy. My husband worries and  hobbles around with his walker to find me if I disappear too long for a nap. Even in normally healthy households, part of preparing for Christmas includes battling winter viruses, strange bugs, and miscellaneous wretchedness. Today,as my daughter and I compared notes about the state of our misery and I remembered Anne’s story.
If, like me, you are struggling with exhaustion and sickness, perhaps another of my fictional characters will shine a light on our hearts.
                                         Advent Blessings from   Liz

When both of the twins finally slept, Anne fell into bed, for the umpteenth time, around midnight. Billy and Beverly had run fever, sneezed, coughed, and spread misery to everyone all weekend. When the baby screamed, Ann threw back the covers, grabbed the baby aspirin, and groped her way down the hall.
Four o’clock in the morning. My head aches. My back hurts.
Danny and his bed were clean but he still whimpered with the fever. She rocked him and whispered his favorite songs. As her youngest quieted, snippets from last Sunday’s sermon floated around her mind. It had to do with something about greeting Christmas with joy.
Yeah, sure! Anne rocked faster; the baby fretted.
“Shhhh. Mommy’s here.”
Anne slowed the rocker but her thoughts swirled and tears streamed down her face. The tree is only half decorated, the kids are sick and Dan will be out of town at his meeting all week. There’s nobody to understand or care!
She pulled Danny closer, smoothing wet ringlets of hair framing his baby face. When the fever finally broke, she settled him in the crib and leaned against the window listening to his breathing before going back to her own bed.
“Oh, look at the lights!” She covered her mouth and smiled for talking out loud. The multi-colored lights on the cedar tree in the yard twinkled at her. Dan must have put the lights up yesterday before his flight when she was too busy with sick kids to notice.


Anne pulled her robe around her shivering body and tiptoed down the hall. It was almost dawn, so instead of going to bed, she made coffee and curled up on the couch with her Bible.
I’m really not alone, am I, Father? This day is going to be long, but I will trust You. I’m so glad You care….
The twins barreled into the room before Anne finished her prayer.
“Mommy! What’s for breakfast? Are there presents yet? When’s Daddy coming home?”
“Morning, guys!” She scooped them up for hugs and even managed a laugh. “Let’s go get Danny and maybe have scrambled eggs!”


He gives strength to the weary and increases
the power of the weak. … but those who hope
in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
From Isaiah 40: 28-31


Tomorrow I’ll share my surprise when the tables were turned on me and I received Christmas blessings.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Interruptions

Advent is rushing toward Christmas morning. As the to-do lists get longer and the days busier, my gift for the second Sunday of Advent is Allison’s story. I created this fictional character more years back than I want to count but it seems her story is timeless. With Advent blessings from Liz.

Interruptions

          The breakfast dishes sat soaking in the sink while I stewed over my “to-do” list. I didn’t try to stop the ribbon and shinny paper that rolled off the kitchen table onto the floor. Tinsel, snowmen, scissors, tape, and recipes, cluttered the counter and kitchen chairs. But, I was on track!
Then the phone rang.
Katie’s sobs garbled her words. Well, yes, she’s my best friend; yes she’s having a hard time since that louse of a husband left her and three kids this summer. But, she wants to talk and ... I don’t have time!
“Sure Katie, come on over.” Wondering where those words came from, I gritted my teeth and shoved dirty dishes into the dishwasher. I don’t have time!!
Katie rang the doorbell just as the coffee finished brewing. I rushed from the kitchen and almost knocked over the nativity on the hall table. At the door, I glanced at the cross above Baby Jesus.

“Hi, Katie.” She fell into my arms.

God did not ask me to ride on a donkey over miles of rough, rocky roads at the end of a pregnancy. He did not ask me to give birth to a child—in disgrace. He did not ask me to escape through the night to save the life of my child. He did not ask me to stand at the foot of a cross to watch my son die.
He just asked me to take a few minutes—to comfort my friend.

“Guess what, Katie! The coffee’s ready and I’ve got Christmas cookies. I’m so glad to see you.”

 Christmas is about tending to my Father’s business.

“Do you love Me?
. . . Then tend my lamb,
. . . .shepherd My sheep.”
(From John 21: 15-17)

Has God ever interrupted your busy schedule with something you didn’t understand? If you listened to Him, were you glad?


Closed for Christmas

           How is your transition going? You know….those few filled-to-the-brim days
when suddenly Thanksgiving is over and the calendar screams that the second week
of Advent begins tomorrow….. ? ? ?   
        Today I found another of my fictional characters hiding out in the file drawer marked “Advent.” If your week is similar to Linda’s, the manger might be on the
verge of getting lost.                                     
                                                Advent blessings from Liz

Let's Just Not Do Christmas !!
   

My husband and I spent Thanksgiving alone this year so I decided on a “why bother”  routine for Christmas. At our age, we just don’t need the hustle, bustle, hurry-up and wait, glitzy, and phony stuff Christmas brings. To say nothing of dragging out dusty boxes of lights and decorations.


Our kids are scattered now. They have homes, growing families, jobs, and in-laws of their own. Goodness, our large blended family has multiplied until we can’t keep up with everybody. I suppose that's the good, natural ebb and flow of life, but—for whatever scheduling reasons—my  husband and I are alone for all of November and December this year. Besides, I’m tired and Christmas is really for children.
That was my general frame of mind the weekend after Thanksgiving.
To make my self-imposed pity-party worse, I picked up one of our old Christmas photo albums. Tears fell for real as I gazed at pictures of the happy days when the house was full of growing kids. They were such cute teenagers, then spouses came along, and finally, joy of joys, we got grandkids!

I pushed the album aside, grabbed a handful of tissues, and flipped on the television. The album dropped to the floor. It fell open to the year I was really alone!

#  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #

A newly single mom with three junior high kids and the first Thanksgiving after my mother died. The kids and I lived hours from other family and I couldn’t afford to take time off from a new job to travel. The memory of that Thanksgiving flooded back.
The kids and I went to church and then had a low-budget-non-turkey meal alone. I guess that old habits die hard because we got caught up in our tradition of naming blessings. After my divorce and my mom’s death, I got a surprise job offer in another city. The move was easy, the kids quickly settled into new schools, we found a good church, and my job with the service organization not only paid the bills but did wonders for my self-esteem. As we finished out dull Thanksgiving meal, my amazing teenagers insisted we had been sad long enough and we should start new traditions for Christmas.
By the end of Thanksgiving weekend, the house sparkled with Christmas lights, tinsel, and bells. We even decorated as much of the outside as my skills with stepladders and duct tape would allow. The kids further surprised me by limiting their “want lists” and actually stuck to their budgets. Then we invited six elderly people from our church to join us for Christmas Day dinner.
At the appointed time, our guests arrived, the turkey was delicious, and laughter filled our home. After dinner, we sang Christmas carols, shared memories, and listened to their stories. Both the kids and I learned a lot that year. They’ve always said that was their best Christmas ever.
 #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #

I snapped off the TV, put away the photo album, and went to the workshop to find my husband. Before I could lay out my entire plan, he was on the stepladder pulling down Christmas boxes with a big grin. Within minutes we had a list of eight friends who would NOT be alone on Christmas this year!   

  Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth
 Whenever you did one of these things to someone
overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.
 Matthew 25:40 (The Message)

Thank you, Father, for using old memories to remind me that Christmas
is about You….

…. not about me!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Change is Certain

Today: an unvarnished Liz story.


When our Thanksgiving guests arrived last Thursday, Christmas had not one time entered my old and tired and feeble mind.


OOPS!!! Sunday. ANXIETY hit the danger zone.
My Christmas planning / lists / decorating / shopping stood at ZILCH.
Nothing. None.
Sunday evening another shock:
TODAY IS THE FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT ! ! !
Huh? How? Already?

BUT I’M NOT READY !!!!!!!!!

Slowly and gradually I pulled myself together and managed to collect—into one place (the dining room table of course) from all around the house—the Thanksgiving wreaths, Pilgrims, and plastic pumpkins and to launder the autumn tablecloths and new gold napkins.
Then, after a long sigh (please note the fall decorations continued to sit on the dining room table), I got out my #2 pencil and trusty Big Chief Tablet.
Christmas Scheduling-Planning To-Do-List-Making Time.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

F.U.T.I.L.E

Deep Breath. As a blended family of a dozen years, Dear Husband and I have seen our separate absolute/must-have/can’t-live-without traditions ebb and flow, change and grow, swell and diminish. New meanings have enveloped each tradition into a bright, new sameness. Between us, (as of today) we have 29 kids, grands, spouses, and greats. Then, throw in a big bunch of assorted siblings of his and mine and all those delightful nieces/nephews, grands and greats. Through these years, a lot of blending, bonding, forgiving, changing, accepting ensued as we worked around sick children and adults, war deployments, vacation cancellations, weddings, final exams, lost baggage, our own aging, and a changing economy.

W.H.E.E.E

Now. How do I manage control around so many unknown
          plans / schedules / people / events??? Well - - - -

F. I. N. A. L. L. Y

I.     U. D. E. R. S. T. A. N. D

I have no control.
None.
And - - - it is good.

In this, my seventy-seventh Christmas, I will change. I accept that….  ready or not… Christmas WILL have its own way.

Because: Jesus was born at exactly the precise time and in the perfect place.

Because: Christmas blessings will meet us at the grocery store, in Christmas cards from friends of long ago, through telephone calls from grandkids, and even at our medical appointments and at the funeral of an old and faithful friend.

And, Because: without any planning on my part, Christmas Joy—our Savior—meets us in an evergreen cross, a child’s hug, Chrismons on a nine-foot Christmas tree, nativity scenes in unexpected places, voices lifted together in old hymns, weak legs growing stronger, hurt feelings healed, unexpected hugs, and love restored.

Jesus Christ IS the same
 yesterday and today, and FOREVER.
Hebrews 13:8 [NAS]

Rejoice in Advent and the Preparation for our Savior’s Return.

Advent Blessings,
       Liz
                                                                         



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Christmas Card

     
      My writing files hold many stories told by one or another of my fictional characters. This morning I ran across Barbara Jean’s story. I no longer remember why I created her but on this first Monday of Advent, her story seems appropriate. I hope Barbara Jean blesses you.

         Liz


 The Christmas Card

          There’s still time…..
No, it’s too late!
          Well, if I don’t write a note in each ….
Absolutely not, postage is much too expensive!

      I have the same argument with myself every year, but this is the year I stop. Absolutely! I will NOT send Christmas cards. It is a useless waste of my time and our money!
I’ll… well, I’ll just send an extra donation to the Salvation Army where money really does good.
      “Hi, Honey, mail came. Look who we heard from!” My husband stomped snow off his feet. “I thought Sam had died but he actually survived a second heart surgery and might get remarried this spring.”
      I did not need to know that. My resolve cracked.
      “Funny.” Carl poured a cup of coffee. “I prayed for Sam all last year, not knowing whether he made it or not but something urged me on. Isn’t it great to know?”
      “Well, yes,” I said, “but don’t you think….” I’d lost his attention. He was back in Viet Nam with his buddies… remembering.
      Sam saved my husband’s life when the grenade landed too close. Later, Carl led Sam to Christ. They stayed in touch all these years… through Christmas cards.

      After supper, our son stopped by to help with the Christmas tree lights. When the old, artificial tree sprang to life once again, Carl insisted Bud stay for devotions.
      “Do you guys still do the Advent candle thing? Martha tries to… when I get home early enough.”
      “Well, you’re already late,” Carl struck a match. “Few more minutes won’t bother.”
      In the glow of candlelight, Carl’s eyes glistened. My husband, the quiet guy, the leader, the “John Wayne” to our kids, seemed… undone.
      “You know, Son, life is hard sometimes. How are things at home? Are you going to church?”
      “Well, uh, sure, Dad.” Bud’s surprise matched my own.
      “No, I mean, do you go with Martha and the kids? Do you help her get ready? She’s a fine wife, Son. Let’s pray.”
      The crackle of the logs in the fireplace emphasized my husband’s words as he spoke to the Lord of his life. Carl gave thanks for his old friend, Sam, then he prayed for our children, and he prayed for me.
      After Carl’s almost curt ‘amen,’ he got up and stoked the fire. Bud had his head in his hands and didn’t move. I quietly moved to the kitchen.
      It was late when Carl came to bed. “How did you know they were having trouble?” I asked.
      “I didn’t.” My husband-of-few-words sat on the side of the bed a long time. “I guess just thinking about Sam. After he got saved, he didn’t like the 'church thing.' It hurt his wife real deep. She died ‘bout five years ago. I never knew if they worked it out.” He pulled the blanket up over my shoulders. “I think Bud and Martha will be fine.”

     I drifted to sleep, rearranging tomorrow’s to-do list. Our old friends will hear from us this year.
 According to Paul the Apostle:
And let us not lose heart
in doing good…..
See with what large letter
 I am writing to you
with my own hand.
From Galatians 6: 9 & 11