I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.
Looking back on this year, my heart aches for all the changes and losses. But we’re still here. I’m reminded of the time we visited Mammoth Cave. The tour guide turned out all the lights, plunging us into total darkness. Then he struck a match. That single, tiny flame lit the room.
Sometimes, the tiniest blessings can brighten our day. I was unpacking Christmas decorations, and came across one of my snow globes. When I picked it up, the music box started to play “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem.” Dozens of childhood memories flooded my mind.
Blessings abound. Schools are closed again in our area. I have my grandchildren two afternoons a week. I love spending time with them, though some of that time, they’re doing school work or otherwise occupied. The two older ones could have stayed home, but chose to come here. That blesses my heart.
These are tiny, match-flame blessings that light up my world. When I’m overwhelmed by the losses, I remember them and allow hope to renew in my heart. Like Anne Frank, I try not to think of the misery. I focus on the beauty that remains. What a beautiful lesson, when we know what her misery involved.
In the beginning, I thought it would be easy to write one post per week. Just three hundred words or so. What could be hard about that? At first, it was easy.
Until the year 2020.
Week after week passed, and I had nothing to say.
At first, I tried to force it. I hunted for verses, poems, or photos to fill the page. I even tried to be funny.
Then I realized, I was just filling a page. Maybe, in these overwhelming times, it was better to leave it empty.
You know those front porch moments when you’ve exhausted all the words that can or should be said, so you just sit together in quiet companionship?
They say we’re all in this together. Well, yes, we are but we all handle it differently. Some are strengthened by time alone. Others need fellowship and communication just as much as they need food and water.
I’m a borderline introvert, so I’m usually content being alone. For a while, but not forever. Weeks pass, and I miss my friends. I miss gatherings and visits and dinners out. Phone calls, texts, and online meetings just aren’t quite the same.
Hope is coming.
In the darkest days, hope stirs in my heart. I choose joy. Joy is not necessarily laughter and merriment. It can be—but most often for me—it is quiet exultation blooming in my soul. It feeds hope and keeps it alive. Sometimes the best way to keep it going is to share it. Talk about it with someone.
I’ll start the conversation. It can be short, that’s okay. For these last three or four weeks of the year, I’ll end my post with a question. I hope you’ll play along, and please consider sharing so others can join in.
Hello, Thursday Morning guests! It’s a fresh start moment. A new day. Glory awaits you.
Maybe it comes in the sunrise. Maybe in the first smile from a precious infant. For me, it’s the glow inside my heart. I can’t lose this feeling, and that’s a good thing.
It started with, “and when they saw the star…”
That was enough to get me started because I knew what followed. They rejoiced with great joy!
The coming of the Savior resulted in joy filling those who understood. Even before His birth, His presence within Mary’s womb filled the unborn John with such joy, he leapt in Elizabeth’s womb.
Okay, that’s joy, pure and simple.
Though our observances of Christmas can result in a temporary joy, gift-giving is a small part of the true celebration.
It’s the gift that has already been given that results in true joy.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” [1 Peter 1:8-9]
This is the season for joy. Maybe it keeps popping up for me because I was struggling. I dreaded the season. I wanted it over. You may feel that right now.
But when I saw the star…
When I read the scriptures and listened to my favorite Christmas songs, joy stirred within my heart. If you concentrate on you and your feelings, you’ll be depressed, plain and simple. So bundle up and step outside on a clear night. Look for the star.
Look within your heart. Lift a prayer to God. Read scriptures that instill joy and peace. Find a devotional to help prepare your heart for the holiday and beyond. These are things I did to get past the “woe is me.”
Once I stirred up the joy—true joy in my heart—peace followed. My prayer for you is that you will find that same peace and JOY and comfort. You are loved.
Note: Check out these devotionals in YouVersion (an online Bible app): A Jolt of Joy, (Carol Mcleod) and Ann Graham Lotz’s Jesus in Me. Or, you can find full versions of these on most bookstore sites.
Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m so glad you stopped by.
So, Christmas is coming, and for most of us, that means busy, busy, busy. Shopping, decorating, baking, partying—you know the routine. Maybe you need to hit the pause button and remember…
Do you have a favorite Christmas memory?
San Diego, California, 1959 -The house we lived in was just blocks away from the San Diego Zoo and the mission at Balboa, so our yard was often filled with exotic sounds like the roar of a lion, the call of the peacock, the trumpet of elephants.
We didn’t have much money, but my mother could always find a way to make Christmas special for us. She made many of our gifts and baked lots of cookies.
Dad had been looking for another place to live, further out from town, so we’d spend the weekend looking at houses. I liked one particular house very much because it had an upper story which fascinated me. There was even a life-sized cardboard cutout of Shirley Temple in one upstairs bedroom.
The former owners had left a pile of trash in the yard. On that pile, I found a handmade doll cradle. It was broken and dirty, full of leaves and rainwater, but to me, it was a treasure. Only rich kids had such things. I knelt down beside it as children often do, to get a better look. In my heart was a deep longing, too innocent to be described as covetous. I wanted a doll cradle like that one.
On Christmas Eve, my older brother and I were begging to stay up. “Just a little bit longer, please.” To no avail, for I’m sure my mother had a million things to do to get ready for the big day. She stubbornly resisted our pleas. Then she received a little unexpected help by way of a stiff breeze outside. The front door blew open about six inches or so. Mike and I stopped our pleading to gaze at the door, then at each other. His eyes were large and his mouth formed an “o”. Chills tickled my spine.
“See there?” Mom said, always quick on the uptake. “Santa is trying to come, but you two are still up. He can’t come in while you’re awake.” There was no more argument. We ran as fast as we could and jumped into our beds.
Early on Christmas morning, we tiptoed out of our rooms to see what treasures Santa had left for us overnight. Oh, there seemed to be so much stuff beneath that tree. My brothers dived in at once, grabbing toys and showing them off to each other. I stood in awe, for there to my great surprise and joy, was the same little doll cradle I had seen on the trash pile. I knew it was the very same one, even though it had received a fresh coat of powder blue paint and was no longer broken.
Mom had made a small mattress and pillow, complete with an embroidered sheet, pillowcase, and quilt. A brand-new doll lay on top of it all. The doll could cry real tears and wet her diaper, but I barely noticed. I was enraptured with the refurbished cradle, even though I knew its last home had been a trash pile.
Long after I outgrew playing with dolls, that cradle sat in my room. When I was finished with it, Mom (who seldom threw anything away) used it as a planter. Every time I saw it, I remembered that special Christmas. It became one of my most cherished memories.
It’s not always necessary to spend a lot of money to make Christmas special. Sometimes a little imagination and a whole lot of love can bring the most joy to someone’s heart. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
Hello, Thursday Morning readers! A couple words about the weather: Hot. Dry.
I’m not complaining, but rejoicing that our A/C unit is working. I do love Fall, so it will be missed. 🙂
It’s hard for me to admit, but I’m kind of a scrooge when it comes to Christmas. I love some things about the season itself, but honestly, I like Christmas to occur in December. What makes it such a special season (to me) becomes not so special when it goes on for months, or even all year.
But, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sandra Ardoin’s Christmas novella, Unwrapping Hope. It was not over-the-top Christmas-y, but I definitely absorbed the feel of the season as I read. Ardoin’s historical fiction is authentic, drawing the reader into the era, as well as the season.
The main character, Phoebe Crain, lives under a dark cloud of pain and mystery. Even the reader doesn’t know her past until it surfaces near the end. Phoebe is flawed, but I came to appreciate her strength as she casts her pride to the wind in order to make Christmas special for her daughter.
I like flawed characters. I enjoy reading a story that brings their deepest flaws to the surface, but doesn’t heal the flaws or even make them go away. A well-told story shows its readers how love can accept and encompass those differences. That’s so much more realistic and for me, oh, so satisfying.
My only complaint about Unwrapping Hope? It’s short! It is a novella, after all. So, I was pleased to discover that this story will open a series called “Widow’s Might.” I like the name and the implications behind the name. That’s another part of the story I enjoyed—this character didn’t wallow in her misfortunes—she joined together with other widows to help bring relief where needed.
Phoebe Crain, an accomplished pianist, lives in near poverty to protect her five-year-old daughter from scandal. When Phoebe receives a handcrafted cigar box by mistake, her desperation to give the child something special for Christmas drives her to suggest a trade with Spence Newland, a man she views as no more principled than her daughter’s late father. But the more time she spends with the department store heir, the more Phoebe struggles to keep up her guard against him.
Spence believes the cigar box will help him gain a reclusive investor’s financial support for his proposed five-and-ten-cent stores, demonstrating his ability to manage the family fortunes. Yet he hesitates to bargain with a widow who mistrusts him for no apparent reason…until he meets a charming little girl at the train station who awaits the arrival of a prince.
Will a betrayal in Phoebe’s past and Spence’s unraveling plans derail their hope for happiness and keep a child’s fairy tale from coming true? [Release Date: Oct. 15]
As an author of heartwarming and award-winning historical romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she’s also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.