Stalking behind the hope of each New Year can be haunted past hurts, griefs and disappointments from the year behind us. Continue reading “The Sinking Sand Mystery”
I was malled today. Yes malled, not mauled.
I went to the mall to shop. Well, not so much to shop as to walk around. I went early to beat the Christmas crowds, but it didn’t take long for almost everyone from three counties to join me.
I’m not a shopper by nature, so this was my first trip to the mall this season. In fact, it’s been awhile since my last visit. It surprised me to see our mall no longer had a Williams-Sonoma. Many stores I remembered were gone.
My leisurely walk turned into a fight to see which kiosk employee would be first to smear lotion on me, curl my hair, or put a hat on me. One guy grabbed my hand and started to buff my nails before I could say no. He didn’t like the fact I had a nail kit of my own, already stocked with a nail buffer.
I took refuge in one of the luxury stores. You know, the three-level stores at the farthest end of a mall. Don’t ask the name, I didn’t look. I can tell you that at one time it was a Nordstrom.
With no crowd in the store, I could linger over items I would never pay that price for—not even at Christmas.
Live Christmas music flowed from a piano on the lower floor. Not canned music pumped through a sound system, but gentle Christmas carols that encouraged me to hum along.
I hummed my way through the petite department, past the section of over embellished, yet elegant, party dresses. While strolling down the center aisle, I came to a dead stop when I realized the piano was not longer playing a carol, but an old chorus we sang at church years ago.
“Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ His son.”
Surprised to hear the old song, I stepped to the railing and peered down to the first floor. An older African American woman sat at the piano with her eyes closed, playing with such an anointing. All I could do was watch and listen.
She looked up, and in the moment our eyes met, we felt it—the bond of two sisters in Christ. We were family.
We smiled at each other. I nodded and waved my hand in thanks to her for sharing her gift.
As I continued on, she transitioned into another old chorus from years ago.
“Oh how He loves you and me.
Oh how He loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give?
Oh how He loves you. Oh how He loves me.
Oh how He loves you and me.”
This precious woman will never know I was desperate for that connection, but God knew. Her smile and anointed playing became Jesus to me.
This Christmas I pose a challenge to you. Don’t be cruel, be kind. Reach out and be Jesus to someone.
That person behind you in line for coffee may look fine, but their smile may hide the fact their life has shattered around them. Be Jesus.
You may never know what one small kindness may mean to someone who is hurting. This Christmas, be His hands. Be His feet. Be Jesus to someone.
Every year, the week after Thanksgiving, I start the same routine. Although there’s no need, it’s marked it on my calendar.
This year was different. You know, life happens. Destruction, mayhem, chaos. Call it whatever you wish, the result was the same; I didn’t put up the Christmas tree.
A week crept by and still no glorious, festive, glowing fake tree in the corner. No angel forever frozen in mid “Gloria” peering down on our bright faces. I decided it might not be worth the trouble this year.
Until the next morning.
I awoke to find my son had moved all the furniture in our living room. It takes rearranging to create my joyful holiday concept each year. His attempt to persuade almost moved me.
A few days later, I awoke again. (Yay!) On this day, I rose to find our tree, and all needed Christmas adornment had appeared upstairs, placed in front of the fireplace. They sat waiting for me to get to work. It was a mystery! (Not really)
He was determined.
It got me thinking, “Just who started this Christmas tree thing, anyway?” So, I researched and learned a few things:
- The origin of the Christmas tree began in Germany in the 16th century. Christians from Northern Germany performed mystery plays that featured an evergreen tree called a “paradise tree” decorated with apples. They plucked one apple, depicting Adam and Eve.
- Puritans celebrated Christmas with mass, but having decorations could be punishable by death. (That’s a game changer!)
- Many American colonists saw the Christmas tree as a pagan symbol.
- If you B-R-O-A-D-E-N your thinking, you could say a Christmas tree helped George Washington and the Continental Army defeat the German Hessians (who fought for the British) in 1776. Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River into Trenton, NJ on December 24-25. While the Hessians celebrated Christmas with eating and drinking, singing and decorating trees, they made themselves an easy target for Washington’s surprise attack.
- It wouldn’t be until the 1830s that Americans first displayed Christmas trees in the United States although German settlers had displayed Christmas trees since the 1700s.
- Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, gets credit for being the first to put candles on Christmas trees.
Having a Christmas tree is more modern than earlier pagan use of evergreen. Don’t confuse the use of Christmas trees with the pagan use of evergreens for decorations, or the Egyptians and Romans use in Winter Solstice celebrations.
Christmas trees have come a long way from their origin in mystery plays to the prominence they enjoy today. Still, I don’t know… to tree, or not to tree?
So did I, or didn’t I?
I’m a mom…of course I did!
Sometimes life falls apart. Completely. Falls. Apart.
Real life can come hard and fast. It becomes difficult to keep up with change, stress and loss—the shock as things pile one on top of the other.
Then comes that one thing that makes life stop. Literally stop. It’s earth shattering, heartbreaking. All the things that were important become nothing. Everything becomes nothing.
Raging fire surrounds. We can’t move forward or backward. We’re just plain stuck. What do we do when we’re stranded?
Go back to the basics.
1. Get into God’s Word
It may have been awhile, but dust it off, crack it open and get into that old Bible that’s been up on the shelf.
My pastor calls God’s word “the only change agent on the planet”. Within its pages, God has given us the words we need for healing, for strength, for empowerment. He gives us direction and hope in every situation.
“This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.”
~Psalms 119: 50
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
~Psalm 119: 105
2. Let The Music Play
“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” ~Victor Hugo
Turn off that television! Yes, I know it helps shut down the mind and keeps depressing thoughts at bay. But instead of mindless drivel, let’s fill our hearts and minds with music—worship music.
Let the Holy Spirit invade with His presence. Worship and God will take us to that place where we can find Him. Where God will touch us and our situation. God will energize us and our thoughts. As His Holy Spirit covers us, here is where we find hope. Here is where our faith will grow. In this place chains are broken.
“And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.”
~1 Samuel 16: 23
3. Find our tribe
Reach out. We must find our people and let them help! God has embedded these people into our lives for a reason. They will hold us up when we can’t hold ourselves.
I’m a loner, so this one was a challenge for me. But I did it, and you know what? My tribe was there, and they WANTED to help me. To love on me and pray for me and with me.
Our people. FIND OUR PEOPLE!
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
~ Galatians 6: 2
I put this last on the list for sheer emphasis. These gut retching, heartbreaking, life-altering things will slap us silly and knock us face down on the floor. These situations drive us to our knees. Perhaps that’s what they’re meant to do.
Like it or not, these are the situations we have no control over. We can’t pick them up like a puppy chewing on the furniture and say, “No! Bad boy!” then give them something else to play with. We can’t change things that easy, this isn’t kid stuff.
Our only remedy is prayer. The old saying is still true to this day, prayer changes things.
When we fall to our knees in prayer over a situation, we enter the arena of battle. We are now on the front line. What we cannot do in the physical, God can and will do in the spiritual. As followers of Christ, we know this is where every battle is won.
We must become prayer warriors. It will be on this battlefield that strongholds are broken and walls fall. So get down into that trench solider and PRAY!
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”
~2 Corinthians 10: 4
Life can break us. Those we love the most can wound us. Get back to the basics. God is there, and He is our way out.
I know you only want to cry. To let numbness envelope you in a deep, blinding fog. A fog that wraps you tight, lest your heart shatters. You want to scream into the darkness. You despise the darkness.
“JUST LEAVE ME ALONE,” I hear you demand. “Leave me alone.”
But sleep must force itself into your grief my child.
You don’t want sleep. I know. But it must come. It will assault your dreams with flashes you don’t want to see. Joy you aren’t ready to feel or remember.
That face. That precious face.
Sleep will release your tired body from its inevitable grasp, and for a moment…a mere moment, you will feel bliss. Bliss before the pain awakes. Bliss before reality.
Sleep will beckon again…remember, remember. Come, come see her here. I will show you her face. Yes, it will hurt for a time. Yes, you will hate me for a little while.
Then the night will fall when I take you into slumber and remind you once again of the gift she was to your life. But in this time you will embrace the remembering, you will long for it. And my peace will blanket you.
Close your eyes my weary child and rest in Me. I have her…right here in my arms. Strong arms, loving arms.
Close your eyes. She will run to you in your dreams. I promise you will remember with joy. Your dreams will overflow with the fullness that the gift of her brought to your life.
Close your eyes and sleep, for joy comes in the morning. My joy always comes in the morning.
Close your eyes and sleep my child. I have her.
It’s a mystery that history has never solved. Who fired the shot heard ’round the world, the shot credited with igniting the Revolutionary War.
History records the war began on April 19, 1775. A small group of seventy-seven American militia came face to face with a column of seven hundred British Regulars on the town green in Lexington, MA. They had marched into Lexington to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock. (Unbeknownst to the British, Adams and Hancock had left Lexington)
The American militia group was under the command of Colonel John Parker, the British commanded by Major of Marines John Pitcairn. Either Major Pitcairn or another British officer approached the militia and yelled, “Throw down your arms! Ye scoundrels, ye rebels!” (Well, something of that sort)
Colonel Parker ordered his men to disperse. He had no desire for violence being that Adams and Hancock had left Lexington. As the militia broke ranks, someone fired.
Who fired that shot?
Following the battle, Colonel Parker, under oath, maintained he ordered his men not to shoot, but to disperse. As they followed his order, the British fired. Major Pitcairn, likewise under oath, stated he ordered his men to hold ranks, but not to fire. Once the shot fired, the American militia fired on the British.
Other American witnesses reported the British showed a lack of discipline that barred the British officers from restraining their troops. Pitcairn’s testimony gave credence to that allegation.
On that day, the British escorted a prisoner taken while they marched from Boston. Asahel Porter took the opportunity and attempted an escape, so it was possible British directed the shot at him. Asahel Porter was a causality on that day.
Other British reports stated the shot came from beyond the Lexington Green. Perhaps a shooter was hiding in a building or behind a stone wall. The British light infantry troops followed the shots with a bayonet charge, prepared to enter buildings before leaders could restore order.
So, did the British fire? Did the militia fire? Was a shot fired from the grassy knoll—oops, I mean—from beyond the town green? Did the British fire at an escaping prisoner?
Was this another magic bullet moment fired from nowhere by no one?
When the smoke cleared, eight American militia lay dead and nine wounded, with only one British injured.
Many say it’s best there’s no record of who fired that shot. Rumblings of war had begun long before that spring morning in 1775.
History will never solve the mystery of who fired “the shot heard ’round the world”. But it started the revolution that won America its independence.
“When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen; and we shall most sincerely rejoice with you in that happy hour when the establishment of American Liberty, upon the most firm and solid foundations, shall enable us to return to our Private Stations in the bosom of a free, peaceful and happy Country.”
—George Washington to New York Legislature, June 26, 1775
For a technical clarification, the shot fired in Lexington occurred in one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. However, the phrase “Shot Heard Round the World” comes from a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson titled, Concord Hymn. This poem references the Battle of Concord, which took place later in the day of April 19, 1775, where American Minutemen defeated the British on the North Bridge. Huzzah!
Overtime, historians attributed the phrase to the shot fired in Lexington.
Dreams are silly, wonderful, surreal things, aren’t they? Dreams wrap us in meadows of bubblegum flowers beside streams flowing with chocolate. They put us into intergalactic transports or walking with giants. Maybe the guy from the vegetable market will join the family for Christmas dinner, where your mom and sister-in-law are wearing hats after arriving home from the royal wedding. We wake from horror-filled nightmares with bloodcurdling screams.
Or, maybe we kick our husband. (Sorry babe, my dream made me do it!)
At one time, tornadoes awaited me beyond the border of my REM stage every night. If you put stock in dream analysis, tornadoes mean what you expect: havoc, self-destruction, turmoil and danger. It was a difficult time in my life.
Once after taking melatonin, I had such an intense realistic dream; I went days with the feeling my close friends had robbed a bank and were in prison. It was so real I reminded myself it was only a dream throughout the week. I’ve never taken melatonin again.
Everyone has off-the-wall dreams. We wake asking, “Where did that come from?”
Sometimes dreams are subconscious longings that bring moments of joy we carry in our hearts throughout the day, and perhaps longer.
I recently had such a dream. A friend of mine called it a God hug. Perfect! A God hug. A dream about my Ty Beau.
Ty Beau was an exquisite seven pound Pomeranian. Ty was my heart-dog. He was handsome, intelligent and behaved. We were a team, competing together in Rally Obedience competitions. He was top notch—regal some have said.
I lost my Ty Beau on February 6, 2015, when he was five years old to complications stemming from an autoimmune disease—IMHA. (See previous post: https://cozyintrigue.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/the-mystery-of-the-killer-letters/)
Ty was a great hugger. I know, I know—he was a dog, dogs don’t hug. But I stand by my statement, he was a GREAT hugger. There aren’t enough words for how much I loved my little man’s hugs. I miss him, and his hugs, every day.
I can’t recall much about the dream. Ty was back with us, and he was playing chase with his sister again. I felt such happiness. Such contentment.
I remember with vivid clarity that in the moment of my waking from the dream I was hugging my Ty Beau. I felt the hug. I felt joy. I’ve dreamed about Ty many times since he passed, but I always felt sadness and pain when I awoke.
This dream left me with happiness. For the first time after a dream about Ty, I awoke with a smile on my face. How I miss my little man.
A God hug. Yes, please!
Have you ever had such a realistic dream?