Time – Advent & Christmas Photos (2015#31)

31 12 2015

Boy, thats a tricky one isn’t it? When you’re in a car with three kids in the middle of summer, and a broken AC, an hour is about 10 minutes shy of eternity. But sit on the beach, looking out over the Gulf of Mexico on an 80° day with a gentle breeze ruffling your hair, and your toes curling into the warm sand, knowing you’re flying back into a winter snowstorm the next morning – 5 hours goes past in what seems like the blink of an eye. We give credit or blame a lot on time. “Time heals all wounds.” “Only time will tell.” “Time is on my side.” But time doesn’t do anything, time just is. We do something with our time. The saying that takes the cake when it comes to misunderstanding time, is one that we’ve probably all said this week as we contemplate the coming new year and consider what changes we need to make; “I’m going to make more time for _______________.” The reality is, no mater how long we live none of us will ever make a single second of time. Time can be neither made, nor saved, only spent.

Regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, socio-economic level, time works exactly the same for each of us. Time is the great equalizer. My day today had the same 24 hours in it that yours did, no more, no less. Time is a resource given to us brand new every single day. None of us can ever replace a single minute. When I spend money, I make more to replace it, but time; time isn’t like that, once it is spent it can never be replaced.  

This photo is of a clock my parents purchased when I was young. Its chimes have marked the hours of my life throughout my growing up years. Every half-hour, a single chime, and every hour the number of chimes equalling the hour. Ticking off the minutes of each day, each one spent, never to be seen again.  

So how am I spending my time? Would I have joined an unscheduled trip into town to visit a baby with the shepherds, or would I have been too busy? Does a months long road trip for the singular purpose of worship, like the wise men made, sound slightly ridiculous? I mean, I’ve got “real life” that I’m living over here. 

What does it mean to do what scripture instructs and “redeem the time?” Surely, when viewed through the lens of the Nativity story we can see that it must mean more than the endless busyness that our culture fosters and promotes. Are the things I’m spending my resource of time doing bringing the Kingdom of God into my home, my family, my friendships, my workplace, my neighborhood and my community?

  

  





Treasure – Advent & Chrisrmas (2015#30)

30 12 2015

Some things don’t need many words. A happy family, a healthy teenage boy, who they said wouldn’t be. Music. A warm home. Love. Acceptance. Plenty. I hope you have taken some time during this Advent and Christmas season to look at and appreciate your treasure.
  





Amazed – Advent & Christmas Photos (2015#29)

29 12 2015

We used to have an Asian fusion restaurant here in town with the most amazing kimchi. The owner made it on-site, and it was on my top ten list of all-time favorite foods. If you’re not familiar with kimchi, it’s kind of a Korean version of sauerkraut, only chunkier, and spicier, and with a lot more flavors. Anyway, the restaurant closed, and I’ve been on a quest to find a replacement for Chandra’s kimchi ever since with no luck. So, I’ve decided to try and make it myself. I don’t know if you’ve ever made kimchi, but it’s a pretty fun process. You chop up your cabbage and carrots and daikon and onions and garlic, put it in a big bowl with lots of salt and proceed to beat the living daylights out of it with a wooden club – for a long time. Then you let it rest for a bit, add in some more salt, seaweed, Sriracha, red pepper paste and fish sauce. I like everything that’s in kimchi on its own (except the fish sauce,) but I’m telling you what – those ingredients taste nothing like kimchi. Even when they’re all mixed together, still definitely not kimchi. The next part of the process is where the magic happens. You put your mixture in a jar, cap it using an airlock, cover it with a towel, and wait. Mine has been sitting for about 10 days now. I checked on it today, and took a sample taste – and it’s happening!! All these individual ingredients are coming together to create something entirely new and wonderful. You really can’t rush it though. If I impatiently end the waiting process now, instead of allowing it to continue for another 3 – 4 weeks what I’m eating will probably taste ok, but it won’t be the world’s most amazing kimchi. That process of fermentation, where chemicals act and react on a set of ingredients to transform them into something entirely new and delicious, only occurs with time. Truth be told, life’s most amazing gifts are realized best, across time. Our culture is one of speed and efficiency. We rush from activity to activity, from one event to the next, treating time as though it were an adversary to be defeated, rather than an ally to assist in our transformation. Why don’t we slow down, and wait for a spell? He, the creator of all things, wants to take the disparate ingredients of our circumstances and make them work together for our good. Wait, and be amazed at the transformation in our lives, in our relationships, in our hearts.
  





Do Not Be Afraid – Advent & Christmas Photos (2015#28)

28 12 2015

When we were visiting the kids in Florida, we went fishing off the Skyway Bridge Fishing Pier and we inadvertently “caught” a gull. It flew into one of the lines and became tangled. We were fishing with a Florida fishing expert, and Adam quickly pulled the bird in, restrained it, and worked to remove the knotted line from around the bird’s wings and body. There was NO part of this process that the bird enjoyed. It was frantic with fear, and frankly I couldn’t blame him one bit. I mean, one minute he’s targeting a fish that was, for some strange reason, flying off of a bridge into the Bay, and suddenly with no warning, life is a hot mess. Some invisible force is trying to pull him out of the air, into the water. No matter how much he tries to fly away, his wings just aren’t working right, and there is pain to top it all off. Just when it seems like it can’t get any worse, a person grabs him by the neck and starts trying to kill him with their bare hands. At least, that’s what it must have seemed like from the bird’s perspective. We tried to calm the bird with gentle words and Adam and Paula worked quickly and purposefully to save the bird from a painful and certain death. But the bird didn’t know that, and he was afraid.

As we approach the end of this calendar year, some of us may find ourself “caught in the fishing line.” Circumstances that seem hard and perilous aren’t changing, if anything they seem to be worsening. Maybe it’s the fishing line of sickness, or financial insecurity, or relational conflict, or addiction, or… We look around and the only things that are visible, all that we can see within our field vision breeds greater fear and dread. Ah, but here is where the difference happens. That night on the bridge, we didn’t have any way to communicate to the bird that it had nothing to fear, that we were in the process of providing a permanent solution to his problem if he would just trust us for a few moments. But, in our lives we DO have the assurance that we need not be afraid, because a Savior has come into this world and salvation is at hand. We have the promise that we are in our Father’s hand and His plan is to prosper us, not to harm.  

I don’t know about you, but I needed the reminder that I do not need to fear the future, that what is unknown to me is well known by my Father, and what time I am afraid I need only to trust in His loving care.  

The bird flew off, unharmed, but could have suffered even less had he been able and willing to trust and not fear.

  





Blessed – Advent & Christmas Photos (2015#27)

26 12 2015

Although gift giving and receiving is not what defines Christmas Day, for most of us it is certainly part our our celebration tradition. There are some things that we wanted, hinted for, or in some cases bought for ourselves and told our spouse what “they” had gotten us:-). It’s fantastic to get something you wanted and needed, but if we’re honest, there is something extra special when we’re surprised by a gift – when receive something that we hadn’t even known to ask for, but after receiving it, we can’t imagine doing without it. Friendships are often that kind of gift. We find ourself sharing a particular place and time with someone, and as our life paths overlap, we begin to discover a relationship that we hadn’t realized our life was missing.  

The word blessed means divinely or supremely favored, and that absolutely describes my life. But of all the blessings that God pours into my life, friendships are the one gift that continually surprise me. See, I know me. I know that I’m an odd duck. I know I can make it challenging to remain connected, and yet there are some people in my life who choose to remain there, just because they want to. They don’t have to, they have no family responsibility to meet, but they choose to be my friend. Across time, with varying degrees of connection, but always there. I’m still surprised by it, and I’m ever aware that I am indeed blessed! When we participated in the relocation of Highpoint Nazarene Church to its current Pollock Road location back in the 90’s, of all the things I was asking God for, a friendship with a newly relocated from California, recently retired couple never once crossed my mind, let alone made it onto my list of petitions. Now, in 2015, looking back on a business partnership, purchasing our home from them, countless meals, years of science experiments between Jylian and Mr. Hendershot, I cannot imagine not counting them among my friends. One of those surprises that God has gifted to me.

It’s impossible to photograph all of the relationships that equal blessing to me, so I’ll just allow this one, taken following our early morning Christmas carols to our friends and neighbors, Bill and Bobbi,  to represent all of those unexpected surprise gifts of relationships. Friendships that give me the encouragement, laughter, accountability, and comfort to keep pressing forward. Relationships that reflect the companionship that Jesus modeled for us, in His life here on earth. I hope you have opportunity to enjoy friends during this Christmas season, and that you keep your heart always open to the surprise gifts that our Father knows we need. I pray that you too are blessed with true friends.

  





Child – Advent&ChristmasPhotos (2015#26)

25 12 2015

Text: Traditional English carol, adapted by William Chatterton Dix circa 1865
What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,

While shepherds watch are keeping?
Why lies He in such mean estate,

Where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christian, fear: for sinners here

The silent Word is pleading.
So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,

Come, peasant, king to own Him.

The King of kings salvation brings;

Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
This, this is Christ, the King,

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:

Haste, haste to bring Him laud,

The Babe, the Son of Mary!

  





Glorify – AdventPhotos (2015#25)

25 12 2015

They are always part of the Christmas program; the Angels! They were the first to speak of the birth of the Messiah. The story as written in the Gospel of Luke, has the shepherds tending to their flocks that night outside the town if Bethlehem. Into the dark sky, an Angel appeared and revealed that our Savior, Christ the Lord had just been born and instructed the shepherds where He could be found. Then scripture says; “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying; ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'”  

Glory is high praise or honor. It carries with it the context of common consent, or a public praise. To glorify God means, to reveal or make clearer the glory of God by one’s actions. The Angels gave all of humanity the appropriate response to the presence of the Savior, which is to glorify Him. I think we tend not to interpret this total passage as instructive, but what if we considered the second half of that passage as the means to achieving the first half? What if what brings glory to God in the highest IS peace on this earth and good will toward men? What actions can we take that will reveal or make clearer the glory of God? Is it fulfilling the call of peacemakers on this earth? Is it actively building good will between people separated by ill will and conflict? Do our actions in our families, our workplaces, our politics bring peace, build good will? Does what we do, in every space, throughout every day, glorify our Savior, Christ the Lord? Oh, I pray that it is so in my life.