1
If the Walls Could Speak
2
The Peace of Christ – Advent Week 2
3
Advent – A Special Celebration
4
My Favorite Things about the 4th of July
5
Tribute to My Dad
6
The Influence of My Mother
7
Good Friday – Why is it Good?
8
Loneliness: A Sunday Scenario

If the Walls Could Speak

On a recent trip I drove by an abandoned dilapidated house.  As I glanced through the broken windows into the vacant rooms, the walls seemed to whisper to me.  They spoke of life lived long ago.  I could envision a beautiful new house pulsating with laughter, family holidays, and dreams whispered in prayer each night.  The images spoke of a father working hard to support his family, a mother nurturing and taking care of the home, children gathered around the dinner table eager to share tales of their day.

If these walls could talk, the stories they would recount of love, heartache, excitement, joy, sorrow, and so much more.  I often wonder, What caused the house to be abandoned?  Why did the family have to move?

Oh, how I wish I could return to the homes of my childhood and record the conversations and memories of my upbringing.  Precious moments forgotten or unappreciated as we grew and traveled through life. We’re always in a rush for the next thing that we fail sometimes to appreciate the here and now.

Every time I see an old house I will always ponder the people, families, and children who crossed its threshold.  It’s a little piece of history and a distant memory of my own ancestors.

The Peace of Christ – Advent Week 2

What is the definition of peace?  It is:

  • a state of harmony between people
  • freedom from strife
  • absence of mental anxiety
  • a state of stillness and silence
  • to bring hostilities to an end

The idea of peace in this day and age seems very far from something attainable.  Nobody seems content.  We’re stressed, concerned, fearful, worried.  Some of us may believe peace will come with freedom from debt, finding the right job or husband, building better relationships with our children, or finishing school.  What does peace look like to you? 

Through Christ we have the promise of peace, the hope of peace, the comfort of peace
Isaiah 9:6-7 – For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Think about each of those names ascribed to Jesus.  How would your life be different if you allowed Him to exhibit each of those roles in your circumstances?

Jesus declared in John 14 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.


He promises that His enduring peace will be sufficient for everything you’ll face in the future. It’s not the same peace offered by a worldly society, or a temporary peace of those who try to purchase it with material things. No, it is the very peace of Christ Himself, a peace that surpasses all human understanding.

So this Christmas allow one of your presents from Jesus to be the gift of His peace. Light your advent candle with the intent and prayer that “peace” will permeate your holiday festivities and the hearts of your family.

 

Advent – A Special Celebration

I never celebrated Advent until a few years ago.  It was not something our family or church observed.  After reading and researching, commemorating Advent has become one of my favorite holiday traditions.  It’s the perfect ritual to prepare your heart for the true meaning of Christmas.  For you newbies, here’s some Advent tidbits.  For you pros, consider this a review.   

The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.”   The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent or arrival, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent.
 
Advent begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30, and continues for three additional Sundays with the lighting of a candle, scripture reading, and prayer.       
 
The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end.
 
The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life.
 
Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son.   
 
The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.
 
The colors of the candles signify several aspects.  Purple represents royalty and the celebration of the coming King.  The pink candle, lighted the third week, is called the Shepherd or joy candle.  The white candle represents Christ and most light it on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  
 
The light of the candles reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God’s grace to others.
 
Today we light the first candle, the candle of expectation or hope.  God’s people waited with expectation for the arrival of the Messiah.  We, too, watch with anticipation for the return of Jesus, the King of Kings. 
 
But, unfortunately, as the holiday approaches a plethora of expectations swirl around us.  Anticipation of  how beautifully the house will be decorated, which presents we will receive, the behavior of our family, and how glorious our Christmas celebration will be.  The difficulty lies in the fact that our expectations are rarely met, and we travel through the holiday season filled with disappointment.
 
Therefore, I challenge you during this holiday season to put your expectation in anticipating His arrival in your celebration.  How will Christ show up for you this year?  How will you make Him the central figure of your holiday?  Light a candle today to symbolize the hope that resides in Christ alone.      

 

My Favorite Things about the 4th of July

One of my most loved holidays remains the 4th of July for so many reasons, but mostly because it’s a time to celebrate everything that America represents.  It’s the day that citizens join together to declare their patriotic spirit and remember the struggle, sacrifice, and freedoms of this great nation.

Here are my favorite things about the 4th of July:

-Houses adorned with flags

-A wide array of patriotic clothing displayed on our citizens

-Fireworks exploding over the Washington DC monuments

-Fireworks cascading down around the Statue of Liberty

-Homemade ice cream

-Children racing around the backyard with sparklers

-Hot dogs or hamburgers fresh off the grill

-Pride in our country

-Gratitude to our forefathers

So, go light some fireworks, adorn yourself in red, white, and blue, wave the flag, watch a parade, and revel in the freedom that is ours because of those who sacrificed to earn it.  Freedom is not free.

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Tribute to My Dad

A person perceives God as Father according to the type of relationship they had with their earthly father. I have a tremendously healthy view of God because I was raised by the most incredible father. A gentle spirit, with a compassionate heart, and an unconditional love for his family describes my precious Dad.

We may not have had thousands in the family checking account or lived in the biggest house or drove the fanciest cars, but I had what was most important.

I had a father who:

  • Came home at the end of each work day eager to see his girls and play
  • Answered each “why” question patiently
  • Removed the fish from my hook because I refused to touch the slimy scales
  • Scared our friends during slumber parties so he could hear us scream and laugh
  • Coached my softball team every summer
  • Installed a tether ball pole in my backyard so I could become playground champ
  • Entertained us during snowstorms by turning donuts in empty parking lots
  • Trained me in the proper procedure for shooting jump shots on the basketball court
  • Cried with us during sad movies while stating, “We need to squeegee the carpet.”
  • Took us on adventurous vacations all over the west
  • Helped me move a dozen times, even to California
  • Taught us the difference between being a woman and a lady

Thank you, Dad, for pouring yourself into your two daughters and making hundreds of sacrifices to help us grow into healthy adults who are a reflection of you.

St.-John

 

 

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The Influence of My Mother

God blessed me with an amazing mother. Her footprints on my life are quite visible.

As I reflect on my childhood, a plethora of endearing memories surface:

  • Playing games or listening to her read stories while traveling in the car during summer vacations
  • Discovering Christmas presents weeks after December 25 as she uncovered their forgotten hiding place
  • Sipping water from the little plastic cups she kept in her purse so we could sample the fresh springs we discovered in the mountains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Good Friday – Why is it Good?

Good Friday sounds like an oxymoron, a figure of speech emphasizing two contradictory words. According to the English language “good” means something useful or desirable, so why would Christ’s death on the Cross be considered “good?”

When we reflect on the crucifixion day, we envision:

-The terrified, fleeing disciples
-A heartbroken, grieving mother
-A confessing, repentant thief
-The callous, lot-casting soldiers
-The mocking, inflictive crowd

We hear the sounds of that afternoon:

-Steady thumping of the hammer
-Taunts bellowed at the dying man
-Whispered final words of Jesus
-Thunder rumbling across the ground
-Ripping of the veil of the Holy of Holies

Our thoughts wield a plethora of emotions: sadness, grief, anger, sorrow, gratitude, and guilt. In our own way we feel responsibility for the death of Christ. Our sin drove the nails into His flesh.

How can we feel “good” about this day?

Good Friday is the perfect name in relation to our souls. What day is more useful to us? It destroyed our chains of sin, bought our freedom, and offered us eternal life. What day could be more desirable? Because of the agony and suffering of Christ, we will spend eternity with Him. We should want nothing more.

Even though it is a day of mourning for the death of our Savior, there is a jumping of joy in our heart because Sunday is on the horizon.

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Loneliness: A Sunday Scenario

Sundays are uplifting days spent worshiping the Lord, reconnecting with friends, and relaxing in the house of God. That is until the sermon ends, everyone says their last goodbye, and I exit through the doors. The longest walk of my life occurs each week in the journey to my car amid all the families deciding where to eat lunch or which activity will be the focus of their afternoon.

Loneliness swirls around me and inhabits my deepest spots. The enemy knows where to strike and he sails his arrow faithfully each week. I smile cordially and wave my hand to be friendly as I enter my vehicle. I sit quietly for a moment. What do I do now? Go home to eat in deafening silence or muster the willpower to sit in a restaurant full of chirping families. I hate to cook more than I dislike the encounter, so off to a restaurant I go.

A good book tucked under my arm and a quick prayer for God to join me at the table, I nestle down for a bite of my salad and listen to the noise echo around me.

Being single can be a great place. Being single can be a lonely place. That’s why I love Jesus even more . . . He lived life as a single. He knows where I’m walking.

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Copyright © 2014 Shelley Pulliam — Life Outside the Cage