Move Over, Martha Stewart

Just kidding. I am no domestic diva. Martha Stewart has nothing to fear. Now, my husband? Well, he did vow for better or for worse.

Even though I hate to cook—and let me emphasis hate—my awesome husband would say I’m a great cook. Then again, he is stuck with me for life, so …

On the whole, weekends at my house are wonderful. Friday night is date night, followed by Saturday morning breakfast at my favorite coffee shop, complete with gingerbread lattes all year, not just the holidays. Our family makes an event of weekend sports … on the field and in front of the TV … and we enjoy them together with our favorite take-out food. Weekends equal no cooking, and that’s a win for everyone.

I muddle through the weekdays dreading the three o’clock hour when I’m forced to ask myself that age old question: “What am I going to fix for supper?”

Recipes are not the problem. I have a million. (okay, that might be an exaggeration) With Pinterest, Facebook, and food blogs all over the internet—information that Professor Google will find lighting fast—I have plenty of options. But there’s another problem …

Grocery shopping. Yeah, I hate that, too. Dinner time is a scramble to defrost something, gather ingredients, and pray everything is still in date.

For me, it’s inevitable. I decide what dinner is going to be, begin preparation … and it happens. Something vital to my recipe is out of date. I close my eyes, breathe a desperate “please” and then, “Yes”! It’s a “BEST BY” date, not an expiration date! (come on, I can’t be the only one!)

On our way to church a few weeks ago, that phrase made its way into my thoughts. Best By. It occurred to me that perhaps I have reached my Best By date. Still usable but, maybe I should step back and let those in their prime do the teaching, the singing, and the leading. Sure, I could stay ready to step up when there’s a temporary need to be filled.

Best by

We age and begin to notice changes, aches and pains. But God does not put us out to pasture. He makes that clear in His word.

“Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” ~Psalms 92:14

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” ~2 Corinthians 4:16

No, God does not stamp us with a Best By date. Our usefulness has no expiration date. It’s in Him that we “live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

“I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.” ~Psalms 146:2

We never stop serving. We never stop loving. We never stop … period.

The world may want to retire us and put us in the back seat as we age, but it’s no mystery that God never calls it quits for us.

Walk through every door He opens. Step up each time He calls. God will strengthen and give the tools needed to accomplish whatever He calls us to … no matter our age.

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” ~Isaiah 40:31

Christmas … Where are you?

Nothing says “Christmas” more than screaming kids, crowded malls, angry faces, and my personal favorite … traffic. Ah yes, the joy of Christmas wrapped up in stress, debt, exasperation, and exhaustion.

Oh Christmas … Where are You?

Someone on Facebook asked, “What is your most memorable Christmas?” One from my childhood jumped to mind.

As a band geek from fifth grade, Christmas parades were a big part of the holidays for our family. Back in ancient times, when I was a kid, our town’s Christmas parade was on Thanksgiving night. Year after year, Mom and Dad would rush me to the band room, I’d march in the parade and afterward we would go back to my aunt’s house for dinner with the leftovers from lunch. Such grand memories!

The flute was my instrument of choice, and all I wanted before starting high school was a piccolo. I mean, the cool flute players had piccolos for marching season and I had to have one too. I asked and asked for a piccolo for Christmas, but feared it wouldn’t happen. Finances were tight and instruments were expensive, but a part of me thought maybe, just maybe.

Christmas Eve came and our family attended the annual midnight candlelight service at church, then home to bed. My parents put our “Santa” presents under the tree after we were asleep, so we’d wake up and rush to the tree with all the anticipation a kid feels on Christmas morning. But this Christmas I woke up in the middle of the night. I just couldn’t wait and slipped to the tree for a peek. And there it was … a piccolo! I could have screamed from the excitement.

I took that piccolo into my bedroom, and there, hidden in the dark, I softly blew air through the precious instrument with an unspeakable thrill. I got it! I actually got my piccolo!

I never told my parents what I had done. Never told them I already knew they made my dream come true before we ran to the tree that Christmas morning. If they knew, they never said a word to me. But that piccolo was a great investment. I played it through high school, college, years of church music ministry, and still play it to this day.

Grown now, with a son of my own, I understand the sacrifice my parents made to get that piccolo. Sacrifice isn’t a word we like to use, especially at Christmas. Christmas is a time of extravagance, not sacrifice, right? It may have become more about indulgence, but that’s not where we’ll find Christmas.

Christmas is life, joy, twinkling lights, and laughter topped off with scents of the season. Christmas is the carols we sing only once a year. Christmas is the hugs and love we can physically feel and remember from loved ones who have passed.

But the true meaning? Christmas is Jesus

I’ve struggled the last few years to find joy in the season. We all have, haven’t we. But there is joy—real joy and blessings beyond all we can ask or think in knowing Jesus and his great love for us.

Christmas, where are you?

Christmas is where it’s always been … there in the manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Jesus … born to be the greatest gift of all. Jesus …  come to be light, life, and joy. Jesus … come to bring salvation.

So, let’s light that Christmas tree. Let’s sing those Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. Let’s fill our homes with memories around those we love—and tell them we love them.

Are you looking for Christmas? Celebrate Jesus. Because Jesus is where we will always find Christmas.

Closing the Gap

One moment can change your life forever. The mystery is navigating your next steps.

It all started on a cold November evening… but, let’s not go there. 

January 2019 began with a bang. I made a major move to Colorado, and this little southern girl was in for the ride of her life—part good, part bad. It was uphill. It was downhill. Perilous one day, victorious the next. 

Okay, okay, you get it. Moving on… 

In a nutshell, 2019 was the best and the worst. The move to Colorado was an amazing moment in life full of hard truth, restoration, reconciliation and healing for my husband and me. Through it all, I’ve learned to live with a grateful heart for the smallest of blessings. 

Continue reading “Closing the Gap”

I’ll Take What’s Behind Door Number Two, Monty!

Doors shouldn’t be hard to open.

We push or pull them and walk through, right? The mechanics of operating a door is easy.

It’s what’s on the other side that can get tricky.

Continue reading “I’ll Take What’s Behind Door Number Two, Monty!”

Ancient Ruins of The Ancient of Days

They were using it as a trash dump. None of the forces took notice of the old gate on a bare mound of land in northern Syria.

Had ISIS explored the area before being driven out in 2016, they would have found the ancient ruins of an early Christian church, a refuge for Christians from the Roman government.

Continue reading “Ancient Ruins of The Ancient of Days”

Stan…By Me

Sometimes God will use the unusual to remind us to pray for those we don’t know, like the kids in our neighborhood and the family down the street.

It happened a few years ago at the house down the street. You know the one. The creepy one. No one knew for sure what was going on inside that house. Continue reading “Stan…By Me”

wisdom from the doublewide

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Kim Wilbanks

Feathering My Empty Nest

Joann M. Claypoole ~ Dreamdove's Flights Of Fancy



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