Poetry Saturday—Christmas Fancies

When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, 
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago, 
    And etched on vacant places 
    Are half forgotten faces 
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know— 
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow.

Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near, 
We see, with strange emotion that is not free from fear, 
    That continent Elysian 
    Long vanished from our vision, 
Youth’s lovely lost Atlantis, so mourned for and so dear, 
Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near.

When gloomy gray Decembers are roused to Christmas mirth, 
The dullest life remembers there once was joy on earth, 
    And draws from youth’s recesses 
    Some memory it possesses, 
And, gazing through the lens of time, exaggerates its worth, 
When gloomy gray December is roused to Christmas mirth.

When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis 
Each heart recalls some folly that lit the world with bliss. 
    Not all the seers and sages 
    With wisdom of the ages 
Can give the mind such pleasure as memories of that kiss 
When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis.

For life was made for loving, and love alone repays, 
As passing years are proving, for all of Time’s sad ways. 
    There lies a sting in pleasure, 
    And fame gives shallow measure, 
And wealth is but a phantom that mocks the restless days, 
For life was made for loving, and only loving pays.

When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes, 
And silences are melting to soft, melodious rhymes, 
    Let Love, the world’s beginning, 
    End fear and hate and sinning; 
Let Love, the God Eternal, be worshiped in all climes 
When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Never live on memories. Do not remember in your testimony what you once were; let the Word of God be always living and active in you, and give the best you have every time and all the time.” —Oswald Chambers

“A man may lose the good things of this life against his will; but if he loses the eternal blessings, he does so with his own consent.” —Augustine

GOOD NEWS: Abortions have dropped 12% across the country.

Today would have been Smith Wigglesworth’s 156th birthday. Relevant Magazine has a list of some of his quotes. If you would like to read some of the quotes I have posted from Wigglesworth’s books, click here or here.

Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln are two of my favorite historical leaders. Here’s a great post: Churchill, Lincoln And The Fragility Of Freedom.

Ronald Reagan is another one of my favorites. Check out 4 Liberal Myths About Ronald Reagan Debunked.

Every Moment Is Special

As I was in the midst of studying for our new series Overloaded which we kicked off yesterday, there was one thought that kept coming back to me time and time again —

The biggest victim in our overloaded lives are our relationships

And then the news of a tragic, unexpected death comes crashing into all of my local newsfeeds.

Wes Leonard was a star athlete for the Fennville High School Blackhawks. This 16-year-old played quarterback for the football team, and forward for the basketball team.

Last week the Fennville basketball team put their undefeated season on the line in their final regular season game against Bridgman. The game was tied at the end of regulation. As overtime was running out, the Blackhawks turned to their star player. And Wes Leonard deliver: hitting the game-winning shot as overtime expired!

The other Blackhawk players lifted their hero into the air and celebrated their undefeated season. But just moments later their joy would turn to shock, and then to sorrow. Wes collapsed just minutes after the game ended. Even though medical personnel worked valiantly on him, Wes Leonard was pronounced dead at Holland Hospital.

There were no outward signs of any medical issues. It wasn’t until the autopsy that the corner discovered that Wes had an enlarged heart, which led to the post-game heart arrhythmia, which caused this 16-year-old to have a life-ending heart attack.

None of us know how much time we have.

I pray we’re never too busy to have deep, meaningful relationships.

I pray we make the most of every opportunity to connect with our friends and family.

I pray we live without the regrets of unspoken words of love.

I pray we realize more and more that every moment is special.

I pray that you can overcome the overload in your life that may be robbing you of capturing every special moment that comes your way.

Have A Cookie

Do you like cookies? I do! In fact one of the main reasons I workout is so I can eat more of the sweet treats my wife makes.

I’d like you to consider some of the ingredients in my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe —

  • Butter
  • Chocolate chips
  • White flour
  • Wheat flour
  • Oatmeal
  • Sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Vanilla

On their own, some of these ingredients are sweet, some are rather bitter, and some don’t have much flavor at all. Now keep this list of ingredients in mind as you read this

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Really, “all things”?!?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some pretty bitter things happen in my life. But the Bible says that God is using all things — the sweet, the bitter, and the bland — to make something good.

I’d never eat a big spoonful of baking powder or salt or vanilla extract as a treat, but my favorite chocolate chip cookie would be terribly lacking without those key ingredients.

You may not like the bitter things in your past, but God is using even those — part of the all things — to make something good out of your life.

So the next time you are questioning how the bitter fits into your life, ask the Holy Spirit to show you. And while you’re waiting on the answer, have a cookie and think about the bitter and sweet ingredients that went into making something so good.

Do Over

In our backyard kickball games the competition is sometimes intense. Given the fact that our field is unusually shaped — a big rock for first base, a third base (the middle tree of a group of three trees) is closer to home plate than first base is, the neighbor’s fence jutting out into right field — there are sometimes disagreements. Imagine that!

Of course, the quickest way to resolve some of these disagreements is to call “Do over!

But do overs never work out well. One team will still be unhappy with the results while the other team feels they got an unfair advantage to get their way.

So, too, with God. He does not allow do overs. Ever. Nor would I want Him to allow me to have a do over. There are things I have learned from painful episodes that have made me stronger, wiser, more empathetic, and more merciful than I would have been if I missed out on those experiences. If I could have called “do over” I wouldn’t be the same person today.

In 2 Kings 6 the king of Israel wanted a do over. He had an opportunity to kill some Aramean soldiers, but Elisha said, “No, give them dinner instead.” The entire Aramean army returned later and blockaded the capital city of Samaria, making for horrendous living conditions in the city. The king said, “If I only I would’ve rejected Elisha’s advice and killed those soldiers I wouldn’t be in this tough spot now. I want a do over!

But here’s what the king — and all of Israel with him — would have missed out on if they got their do over. If the king got a do over only a few Aramean soldiers would have been killed. But by not getting his do over, the entire Aramean army was disarmed, defeated, and disgraced as they ran home scared and naked (see 2 Kings 7:5-7, 14-15).

NOT getting a do over led to a greater victory! Not getting your do over will also allow God to do something greater in you and through you. If you got your chance at a do over for something in your past you wouldn’t be as strong, wise, empathetic or merciful as you are today.

Check out what God says —

  • I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (Jeremiah 29:11, The Message)
  • And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God. (Romans 8:28, Living Bible)

Don’t ask God for a do over; instead ask the Holy Spirit to show you what He’s doing in your life because you didn’t take the do over. I promise you that God is doing something far greater — instead of defeating a few enemies, He’s defeating whole armies!

Feel free to share what lessons you may have learned by NOT taking a do over.

Momisms

There are things that all moms say. And we’ve all heard these “momisms” —

  • Were you raised in a barn? Close the door!
  • If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a thousand times….
  • If you keep doing that your face will stick like that.
  • Eat your vegetables.
  • Drink your milk.
  • Do your homework.
  • Don’t sit so close to the TV or you’ll go blind.
  • Turn the music down or you’ll go deaf.
  • Look at me when I’m talking to you!
  • Don’t give me that look!
  • I love you!

Anita Renfroe captured some great momisms in her song that recounts everything a mom says in a 24-hour period.

But I’m wondering what your mom said that no other kids’ mom said. Use the comment section to share your favorite momisms.

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