Monday, November 29, 2010

The Real Christmas


And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. (John 9:38)
I was mindlessly watching television the other night when a phrase caught my ears. A Christmas-themed commercial urged a young child to "just believe" in Santa Claus, as if belief in him would fulfill something her life lacked. The more I have thought about that since then, I have begun to notice this idea permeates the airwaves.

Now I am not one to down Santa Claus; I have ornaments with his face on them in my own house. But frankly, I never taught my daughter he was real. I remember when she was in first grade, her class took a day trip over to the local mall to sing Christmas carols. With said carols sung, the children were given (supervised) time to roam the mall, shop, and/or take pictures with Santa. My daughter was the only one not interested in sitting on his lap. I mean in my mind, seriously, who was he really?

It's amazing to me how popular it has become to believe in some ethereal, unnamed Christmas idea, yet not in Christ. Slogans urge us to believe in the holidays, believe in family, believe in charity work, but never does one state "Believe in Jesus". No, that seems limited to some alternative sect of people, living on the fringe of society.

Nowadays, everything goes. Whatever god you believe in is supposed to be okay. "They say" we all go to the same place anyhow; all roads lead to Rome. But I have news for you, there is no truth in any of that. It's not okay to believe in whatever god you want; we all don't go to the same place. You can't ever be good enough, work hard enough, or give away everything you own and somehow earn a place in heaven. And while I'm stating absolutes, it's not okay to "just believe" in Santa Claus. (John 14:6;Luke 18:21-23)

Personally, I can sing all the songs from "Rudolph" and can quote each line. It is one of my favorite Christmas stories. Yet that's just it...when it's all said and done, flying reindeer and a man in a red suit is just a fiction story there to make me feel lighthearted and jolly. If I had to pick a story to share with my children at this time of the year, I'd turn instead to Charles Schultz's "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown". In the end, Linus has it right. It is a belief in the living Christ that matters. For unlike Santa, He is real and He changes lives. Belief in Him really does make a difference.

And "that's what Christmas is all about."



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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trust


Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
I write on a lot of subjects, and each one truthfully comes from something the Lord is speaking about to me. They are the lessons He is giving me. Most times, I write in a more formal style, as if it would be in a publication. But occasionally, He leads me to write more candidly, more from the heart. This lesson is one of those.

I am not sure I have learned everything God has for me to know about trusting Him. My human failings in this area seem to be enormous. Daily I have to overcome my fleshly yearnings to "take over" and do something that is really His job. You see, when it comes to trusting in God, that is what it all boils down to - we, the children, trying to do what it is His responsibility to do.

I would place it as being similar to a two-year-old writing the checks that pay his parents' bills. What parent hands their toddler the checkbook? That doesn't make sense on many levels, but mostly on the level of maturity. They are not mentally equipped for the responsibility of an adult. We know this as parents. Well, when Proverbs 3:5 says, "Lean not to YOUR OWN understanding," that is exactly what is is talking about.

Trusting God is a very hard thing to "do" because it requires us to "do" nothing at all. Think about that. You are in the midst of some type of turmoil, perhaps financial or job-related, and your part in God's equation is to actually do nothing. That seems preposterous! Our human nature is to fix everything. We spend so many hours toiling in vain to change the mind of our spouse or our children or even our pastor. "If they would just do it MY way!" and we never accomplish anything in the process.

In actuality, we have been told to simply "stand therefore" believing God will follow through. (Ephesians 6:14) There is an amazing freedom in that. Every time I find myself picking back up the task which God has told me to lay down, that "still, small voice" inside says, "That's not your job," and it hits me, "Oh yeah, you're right. It's not." That is the definition of trust.

I have told my daughter often over the years that trust is such a fragile entity. Once broken, it is almost impossible to repair. But that is when speaking about trust between people. Trust with God is on an entirely different magnitude because with God "all things are possible". With God, "He is faithful who promised." With God, "He will never leave me or forsake me." And those are ALWAYS for He "never changes". (Matthew 19:26,Mark 10:27,Hebrews 10:23,Hebrews 13:5,Malachi 3:6)

As I look through the vastness of some trouble in my life, I must always remind myself that God is bigger than anything I face. And He is not only bigger, but He is stronger and higher and better at it than me. He can see what I can't. He knows the solution, and even when I feel like giving up, even when it seems like it "just can't be done", even after everything's finished in my eyes, He WILL come through.

All I have to do is stand there, trust Him, and watch. How fantastic is that?

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Remembering the Holidays

It hit me like a ton of bricks this morning that my grandparents were gone, and I openly confess I rolled over and had a good cry. When my grandfather passed this year, I found myself totally unprepared for the grief it brought for my grandmother as well; she died a couple years ago. He was my living link to her, and until he was gone, I had never realized it.

It seems like a somber subject to start this Thanksgiving letter with, my extreme grief. But somehow in my thinking, the holidays are always tied to my memories of them. Even seemingly trivial remembrances bring them flooding back into my heart. Take black olives, for example. My grandfather loved black olives. There was not a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner that did not include the dish of black olives. It seems silly really that I'd think of that this morning. Yet I know on November 26th as we prepare the food for the table, the abundance of the present will somehow be dwarfed for me, by that one small dish.

Bud & Juanita 02 Oct 1998-EDIT

I lay there this morning and struggled with my sadness. The Thanksgiving table seems emptier with the loss of their two chairs. Without Granddaddy there to insist we clean our plates, to ask, "What's for dessert?", without my Grandmother's smiling face and fierce hug, will Thanksgiving ever really be the same? For me, I think not.

Oh, don't get me wrong. In my future are many wonderful holidays filled with joy and happiness, great food, and family and friends. We'll smile and laugh and eat until we almost pop. I fully expect years brimming with God's grace and abundance. (He is my rock, my ever faithful heavenly Father.) Yet inside, I will never forget these two people who mean so much to me. And if occasionally, I have a good cry again at their loss, I think that's okay. It seems like part of being grateful to never let myself forget how much I loved them.

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Story of a Stump

*This article was originally posted at Pix-N-Pens, November 6, 2008. It is one of my fondest memories.

The Shot That Almost Was, Tufted Titmouse

A number of years ago, I wanted a certain species of tree to plant in my yard, so my husband went and found one. We picked the perfect spot, just outside my living room window, and planted it. Over time, this tree grew and grew until became apparent it was NOT the tree we thought it was. It was in fact another very invasive tree, with seed pods that sprouted after every rainfall, and I was nonplussed. Then along came the hurricanes of 2004. During 2004, we found ourselves in the path of three substantial hurricanes: Charlie, Frances, and Jeanne. Well, this tree didn't make it through all that wind, but fell (fortunately not on my house) so we cut down the tree and left the stump.

Now where am I going with this story? It's amazing to me the little things that affect your life. That stump became one of mine. It began when I decided to put a pan of bird seed on the stump. After all, it seemed like a good platform. I cannot begin to tell you the species of birds I have seen come to that feeder. Most prized were the painted buntings.

Female Painted Bunting

I spent many enjoyable hours in my favorite armchair, gazing out the window, snapping photos of all that flew in. Cardinals, blue jays, chipping sparrows, woodpeckers, collared and white-winged doves, all of these came. The stump became a very popular spot.

And it was not just birds; there were insects, spiders, frogs, and toads. Apparently, the metal pan in which I placed the bird seed each day, created underneath a nice, dark, cool spot to hide.

Oak Toad, Bufo terrestris

Soon I noticed some signs of decay there, a little wood rot and a few mushrooms.

Melting Point, Mushrooms

Odd and Unusual

I guess all good things must come to an end. I am moving from this house to another and leaving the remains of my stump to the creatures that inhabit the yard. I'm sure I'll find me another wonderful spot at the new place to watch what comes and goes, and I'm excited about that. But somehow I know it is this stump which I will remember fondly the most.


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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Story Saturdays

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