Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Ashes

With Ash Wednesday tomorrow, I brought back this post from a few years back. Friends, may Lent be especially meaningful this year.




Ashes

Hosanna palms now blackened

 And I, remembering their joyful wave,

Come heart bowed;

And wait

For the sooty cross members on my brow.


 
Kneeling,

Thinking of Him

In wilderness days;

As I, in a lesser way,

Face my own uncharted land.
 



Time now

With the Sacrificial One;

Time for the soul grief,

The cleansing word,

The making-all things-new touch.


 
I rise to follow blood-stained prints;

To daily die

And in these ebony ashes bear

The sure seed

Of Resurrection hope.

Beverly Varnado ©
edited repost

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
John 12:23-25

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

DNA, Jeremiah, and a big challenge

Perhaps it was middle school science when I first mastered the ten syllables for which the letters DNA stoodDeoxyribonucleic acid. Puffed and proud of my accomplishment, I had no clue as to what secrets my own DNA contained which might prove one of the greatest challenges I would face.

After years of being encouraged by medical professionals to pursue DNA testing, I finally relented a little over two weeks ago. My own medical history as well as serious concerns about family history presented tough medical questions. I needed answers in order to make important health decisions. The answers to these questions would not only affect me, but my children, my grandchildren, and beyond.  It was not an easy decision, because though I needed this information, if I tested positive for genetic disorders, particularly in the area of breast or ovarian cancer, my children, and I would be immediately faced with the possibility of multiple surgeries. For me it would be in addition to the many I have already had.

 

We all like to quote Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” But, unless we’ve read the first twenty-eight chapters of Jeremiah, we can’t possibly understand the power of those words. Those first chapters are replete with prophecies of doom and gloom.

Disaster, disaster, disaster.

When we finally reach Jeremiah 29:11, the words fall on us like water in a desert, because by that time our spirits are crying out for good news.

My genetic counseling reports based on my history and my family’s history were loaded with predictions of disaster as well. Page after page of doom and gloom. There was every reason to believe I would have positive results. I wanted to come home and stick my head in the sand.  But I kept reminding myself God knows the plans he has for me. We are not a statistic. When God deals with us, he does not consult a chart or check a graph. He deals with us individually. He deals with us as His children.

 When I first began this process of testing, I had a dream in which someone had stolen my car, and I was weeping with no way to get home and no way to reach my family. I went into a store and asked the people there if they knew my dad, which they did. Then I said, “I am his daughter. May I wait here to be rescued?” You see, God was reminding me, that no matter what seemed to have been taken from me, I am still his daughter. He has plans for me. I needed to wait on Him.

I woke up the morning of the test with this verse from Isaiah 54:27, “No weapon formed against you will prevail.” God also placed Jeremiah 29:11 in my devotional reading that day. I had to decide that whatever the results, God still had plans for me. It would be okay.

A few days ago, a number flashed on my cell phone and I knew it was THE call. I answered and after pleasantries, the nurse practitioner said, “I have results for you.”

I held my breath.

“No genetic disorders (for hereditary cancers) were found.”

I screamed so loud and Jerry, who overheard, began shouting, “Hallelujah and Praise Jesus” at the top of his lungs. Cause I’m telling you folks, it’s as if my head and my family’s was in a guillotine for two weeks.  We are celebrating not only for us, but also for generations of our family who will not have to deal with this.

“Best Valentine’s Day present ever,” I said crying.

The woman on the other end was laughing and rejoicing with us.

Disaster, disaster, disaster. But God.

If the results had been positive, would God still have had plans for me? Yes, He would. Those plans would have included difficult decisions, but God would not have abandoned us.

Someone reading this may have just received positive results, and the good news is God always has a way through. Always. It may not look like what we thought and we may have to make decisions we really don’t want to make, but God is faithful. Suffering is not anything we want to sign up for, but if it presents itself and we know Jesus, we will always have a companion in it.

This May, I am a twenty-year cancer survivor. I plan on celebrating and praising God often for His extraordinary grace and blessings.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

When you're hurting on Valentine's Day



Lace doilies and red paper hearts can bring conflicting emotions.

For some, Valentine's Day is full of fun and celebration.

For others, it evokes the sting of being left behind or left out. It may seem as if everyone in the whole world is celebrating love but us when the heart aches and the chair beside us is empty.

As I pondered this, I kept coming back to the familiar I Corinthians 13, where we read, “Love never fails.” The word translated love here and throughout chapter thirteen is Agape in the Greek. It is the same word used in I John 4, which reads, “God is love.” Love is a person and that person tells us in Hebrews 13:5 that He will never leave us or forsake us. No matter what may happen with earthly relationships, there is an eternal love that transcends them.

I hesitated to write about this today, because Jerry and I are so blessed to be together, and I don’t want to come off as offering pat answers, but I have friends who are suffering the fresh wound of facing life without someone they love. I couldn’t forget about them. We need to say, God loves you, dear ones. You are not forgotten.

I remember speaking with a friend years ago after she lost her spouse and she felt so exposed and vulnerable after his passing. Raw in this world. That kind of grief and pain is hard to navigate and harder still to have hope that one could ever feel differently or find healing. Others who long for mates have yet to find them and maybe wonder if they will. Valentine’s Day can be a reminder of that. But the One whose essence is love is our next breath. All of us face a future where loss is possible and we are only able to move into it by knowing that Jesus will go with us. Jesus loves us.

So, if we’re still walking hand in hand with a beloved one here on earth, it would be good to remember those for whom Valentine’s Day is a challenge. Send an extra card or two. Let's spread Agape around.


Here for print.
Here for ebook. 
Or here at Anaiah Press.

 

 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

If you need a sign


I’m checking every day for signs of life in my flowerbeds.

So far, not much.

I keep hoping for a daffodil unfurling or a hyacinth bobbing its head. Nothing in bloom but my faithful camellia. In order to expand my search, I drag Jerry to the state botanical gardens. That poor man has had to stomp every square foot of that place four seasons out of the year. Winter drives me there, because I know somewhere in those gardens I will find blooms. I don’t even care what kind, and it doesn’t have to be big, just some harbinger of spring to give me hope on grey January and February daysa signal the cold won’t last forever.

We walk into the conservatory and are greeted by this bower of orchids and roses designed for an upcoming event. It cheers me right up.

 



When we press on outside, the garden rooms are mostly down to the bones but we keep searching and find this path of hyacinths shouting glory.
 


The Psalmist prayed, “Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me” (Psalm 86:17).

All of these nods to Spring are signs of God’s goodness. When the enemy launches in January or in a wintry season of your life that feels as raw as the first month of the year and says, “Hey, this is never going to end. It’s always going to be this bleak.” Well, look for signs to the contrary. Search them out. Watch for the ways God is saying, “I’m here.”

It was Spurgeon who said, “Remember the goodness of God in the frost of adversity.”

I’m joining with others who are reading through the gospels in February using the Message. I come to Matthew 7:13, the last lines of The Lord’s Prayer, “You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes! Yes! Yes!.” My heart leaps at the proclamation. God’s beauty is always ablaze if we have the eyes to see His working and if we take the time to notice.

So, in this fractured, fragile, weather-beaten world, let’s make it our aim today to see His beauty ablaze in the people and landscape around us. Let’s be intentional about praising Him for the ways He is manifesting to us His glorious, unfailing goodness.

Every single petal of goodness.





Here for print.
Here for ebook. 
Or here at Anaiah Press.
 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Love Covers


Reaching into the archives today for this post. Love covers has always meant so much to me.

I learned of a conversation recently in which a parent engaged a teenager about an issue in the teen’s life. They held differing opinions. The child who’d struggled with faith issues said to the parent, “I want to be very angry with you, and push you away, but I can’t. You’ve been good parents, and I know you love me so much.”

When I heard this, a Bible verse, which appears twice in different forms, came to mind.

First from Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs,” and from I Peter 4:8,”Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

To make sure I understood this, I looked up the word cover from the Proverbs text in the Hebrew. It means clothe, conceal, hide, overwhelm. For the I Peter text, I sought out the Greek word, which also means cover or hide.

Eugene Peterson translates the Proverbs verse this way, “Hatred starts fights, but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.”



Peterson renders the I Peter passage, “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.”

It bears repeating, “Love makes up for practically anything.”

In matters of the heart, when the rift runs deep, love on. Despite the heartache, despite the differences and the seemingly impossible to resolve dispute, keep loving. Love “…always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” I Corinthians 13:7-8).

Of course, our love can fail, but God’s love never does.

One dark Friday, on a Judean hillside, God overwhelmed our sins through the death of his Son. On that day love didn’t just make up “…for practically anything,” it made up for everything.

Once and for all, love covered.

If you’re in the middle of dissension today, love on, for through you God wants to overwhelm, cover, and hide whatever it is that’s causing the trouble.

Let's repeat often, “Love covers.”

(I feel I need to add a caveat here, loving doesn't mean staying in abusive situations). 




 



Tuesday, January 21, 2020

What could be and book release day


Yay!!! Book release day for A Plan for Everything!!

I’m always amazed when this day rolls around. When I’m in the thick of writing a story, it seems like I’ll never finish. Then when I do, it seems release day will never come.

I came across this quote from author and creativity expert, Allen Arnold, recently, “Art that reflects reality is fine. But we have the chance to do more, to offer art that gives people a glimpse of what could be.”

That’s what I aim to do in all my work . . . to offer that hope.

In most of my bios, you’ll find these words, “She writes to give others hope in the redemptive purposes of God.” In my stories, and I pray in whatever I undertake, I want others to see there is no situation that God cannot redeem, no circumstance He cannot use for His purpose. I know this because at one point in my life, I thought myself irredeemable, but God’s grace proved more than sufficient to cover my sin and my situation.

I’ve also written that I do so to offer an alternative to life’s brokenness. Brokenness just is. It’s part of life here on this planet, but we have a choice. We can focus on all that’s wrong or we can focus on hope.

I think of my Aunt Nell often. She was such an inspiration to me. She had every reason to be down with serious health challenges and heartaches, having outlived her husband and two grandchildren. In one of the most memorable conversations I ever had with her, I asked how she kept up her hope through so many difficulties. She said in her sweet southern drawl, “Honey, we can sit around and think about all the bad things. That’s just depressing. I don’t study on the bad things; I study on what’s good.”

So, in my writing I study on what’s good, the possibilities, and as Allen Arnold says, on “what could be.”

Here’s praying that someone will find their “could be” in A Plan for Everything.

Blessings, friends.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
 
 

Friday, January 17, 2020

My "Paper Missionary" is about to fly

I was so touched recently when an author acquaintance mentioned beloved novelist Janette Oke’s perspective on her books. In Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie, we find these words, “As her writing career blossomed she tried to picture each one of her books as a little ‘paper missionary.’”

I’ve been thinking about that with a new book, A Plan for Everything, releasing on January 21. Last week I was interviewed by a Canadian author and this week a blog hosted from Africa went live. Words from I Chronicles 16:24 come to mind, "Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples." I have over a dozen interviews in process at the moment, and I’m praying those little “paper missionaries” will be going out reaching people in places I will likely never go and touching people I will never meet, at least this side of heaven. I love the characters in A Plan for Everything, and I love Worthville, Georgia where it is set. I believe the message is an important one. I hope readers do, too.

It is an exciting prospect and a great privilege to have this opportunity. I do not take it for granted. Just because I’ve worked a long time toward this goal does not entitle me to what is happening today. I know people who have worked just as hard and are still trying to get published. It is simply Grace with a capital G.

I see writing as a calling and I try to be obedient to what God has asked me to do. The result, I pray, is a book God can use to touch readers and meet needs that perhaps they don’t even know they have. I hope that after finishing one of my books, a reader will experience some element of positive change. It would be worth all my time and effort if even one gains hope or encouragement, comes to know God a little better or even for the first time.

So, if you will, would you help my little “paper missionary” take wings by sharing this post on social media, forwarding to a reader friend, or just tell someone about  A Plan for Everything. Despite all the marketing efforts, it’s said that about eighty percent of books are sold by word-of-mouth.

It is such a blessing when I’m out and about and one of you will mention something in a post or I receive a comment through social media or email. Thank you dear friends, for trusting me with the time you spend reading here. You are a blessing.

Here’s the back cover copy for A Plan for Everything:

Connie’s Coffee and Cones is thriving, and owner Connie Spencer is right on track to realize her dream of expanding into a catering business. She believes she owes her success to her remarkable ability to plan. In fact, she has a plan for everything. At least, she thought she did—until Michael Cole appears in Worthville.

Michael has an agenda of his own—and a competing business—that threatens to derail everything Connie hopes for professionally. And if that isn’t enough, Michael carries a secret that could cause a backlash for both of them. So, why does she find herself attracted to him? When an accident on a rain-slicked highway leaves Michael temporarily incapacitated, Connie is presented with a dilemma she never saw coming—helping the man she’s falling for, or moving ahead with her meticulous plans.

As life spirals out of her control and Connie faces losing everything, she questions whether her plans are enough. But if hers aren’t, whose are? As she searches for the answer, she learns she must come to terms with her deepest hurt in order to embrace a higher plan for her future. 


 Digital A Plan for Everything now in Presell.  and HERE for Print. Print HERE at Anaiah Press.


 
 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The story I didn't know and how it can change us all


My gaze fell on a book at a vintage bookstore by a familiar author. The Burden is Light the title read. I wondered at the dramatic subtitle, The Autobiography of a Transformed Pagan. The book was about and by beloved Georgia author, Eugenia Price, who has written much Christian nonfiction but also novels of historical fiction set in the South. I flipped through a few pages and saw the book was signed so I bought it delighted to have a volume with her signature.

But as for the transformed pagan bit, I honestly thought it a bit much. It was so out of sync with the person I came to know through her writing.

After Christmas, when things settled down a bit, and I could get back into a reading routine, I cracked the book open and saw it had been published in the middle of the last century at the very beginning of her career writing for the Christian market. Previously she had been a successful producer and writer of serials for radio, first for NBC, then Procter and Gamble. She later formed her own production company.

As I read, I had to shake my head a couple of times. Was this the Eugenia Price I knewthe kind, gentle spirit, whose work I read so much over the years? I began to understand the subtitle was not over dramatized after all. It pains me to say this, but she said it first. She was a woman with a hard heart, who not only didn’t believe in Jesus, but also mocked the things of God in a piercing way. She was a pagan.

The change came through two avenuesfirst, the witness of Ellen, a childhood friend that God brought back into her life. Ellen had been much influenced by Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, rector of Calvary Church and co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The second means was a Gideon Bible she found in a New York City hotel room. I thought of the Gideon Bible right then on my bedside table that my Gideon friend Don gave me to pass along. I had not yet found a recipient, but I was encouraged anew to seek out a beneficiary.

As Eugenia read that Gideon Bible, she remembered words Ellen had written to her, “This new thing isn’t something you have. It is Something that has you.” Something did indeed get hold of her. And slowly, the hard heart began to melt, and she at last gave her life to Jesus. Shortly after her conversion in 1949, she became a writer and director for the radio series, Unshackled, which related conversion stories. Almost seventy years later, it is still in production. According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, she went on to write fourteen novels, twenty-two inspirational books, and three autobiographies. Her books have sold more than forty million copies.

I had the great privilege of attending her posthumous induction into the Georgia Writer’s Hall of fame a couple of years ago. I loved seeing the displays of her work and meeting her niece, Cindy Birdsong. We really hit it off.

Her book, The Lighthouse, was included in a list of twenty-five books every Georgian should read by the Georgia Center for the Book.
 

 
 

 

 
 


Now, after reading her conversion story, I appreciate even more what God did through her life. Sometimes, I think we lapse into the notion that Jesus came to save folks who aren’t too bad and just need a little push to get them over the hump. But Paul said it in I Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersof whom I am the worst.” This man who stood approving of and held the coats of those who stoned Stephen knew what he was talking about. Jesus came for the hardest and coldest hearts. He came to save those who have mocked himwho have despised him. He came to rescue those who have no hope without him and don’t even know it. He came for you and me.

If you or someone in your life needs Jesus, now is the time. Today is the day. Let Him get hold of you. Let Him use you as He did Ellen to help lead someone else to Jesus. Let Eugenia Price's story change your story and allow Him to change the cold heart and ignite a fire. When I think of what God did through this one woman who finally surrendered to God, my hope is renewed for those who don’t know the Lord.

Who knows what God will do with one single life surrendered to Him?
 
And by the way, if you haven't supported the Gideons International lately, please do so. They do good work.  



 Here for A Plan for Everything now in Presell.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Meet my friend Lilyan and the Holy ghosts family

Earlier in December, Jerry sat behind the wheel of the car as we
rolled down our street. From the passenger seat, I had my gaze fixed on something my neighbor, Lilyan, was doing on her front porch. “Jerry, I think Lilyan is making nativity figures out of sheets.”

“The Holy ghosts family,” he cried.

We laughed. No irreverence intended.

It turned out she did make an entire creche with sheets and old draperies on her veranda.







In other more eclectic areas in our town, the Holy ghosts family art installation would be heralded with enthusiasm. Here in our traditional hood, the neighbors have been strangely silent.

My friend didn’t care. She responded by putting up more lights and adding another angel.
 
Let me tell you about Lilyan. She is in possession of a master’s degree in art from a large university. She was chosen for a prestigious residency program and studied in Cordona, Italy one summer. Her work is accepted at galleries and shows that I will probably never get into with my work.  She recently illustrated a children’s book.

She is not an “outside the box” thinker. She is an “I didn’t know there was a box” thinker. Her brain is an idea factory. If I’ve needed a theme for a luncheon event, I can call her and she can spin off a hundred possibilities. Ninety-eight of them would require a cast of thousands to execute, but two are always humdingers.


She uses her God-given gifts and puts her work out there with little regard to raised eyebrows, whether it fits the status quo, or others' applause. She is an artist extraordinaire. My daughter says she is the kind of person that most don’t understand now, but one day, someone will name an art wing at a university after her.

I came across a quote from Madeleine L’engle this week, that reminds me of her. “If we turn away from the child, the poet, the artist in ourselves, we lose the ability to believe the glorious mysteries that lift us . . . to children of light, creatures called to create along with our Creator.” Lilyan creates along with the Creator.

I’ve taken every Christmas gathering at my house this year down to see the Holy ghosts family. Lilyan acts as docent and tells us how she made her figures of cast off mannequins, milk jugs, old draperies, sheets, and other found objects. The head of one angel is her front porch light.  The manger is a wheelbarrow with glitter glued on it. You gotta give that woman credit.

She makes sure to draw attention to the scripture  projected on her garage wall, the point of her whole presentation. “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given . . .” Isaiah 9:6. It’s her way of sharing the gospelof reminding us of the reason for our celebration.

As we move toward Epiphany, let your light shine a little. In the New Year, let’s all be challenged to use our gifts for God’s glory. Whether, it’s art, or writing, or music,  or something unexpected like leather tooling. Let’s put it out there. On the front porch or wherever God might lead you. Even if others are silent. Even if they don’t applaud.

Because you see, we do this seeking only One’s applause. As Max Lucado writes, do it with the hope that some day, “. . .the One who would rather die than live without you will remove his pierced hands from his heavenly robe and . . . applaud.”

From the Holy ghosts family and all of us on this street, Happy New Year!!!

A Plan for Everything! is now available for presell 
in ebook HERE. Print available soon.
 

 It is the sequel to, A Key to Everything available HERE.
 
 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The True Soundtrack of Christmas

Last week I had opportunity to hear The Georgia Children’s Chorus sing their stunning rendition of Benjamin Britten’s, “This Little Babe,” from A Ceremony of Carols. I have loved this piece since high school when I first played it for an ensemble. Back then, I appreciated the complexity of the music, the pounding rhythm, and the overlapping rounds. Today, I love it for much more than that.

With the exception of a few pieces in the Messiah, “This Little Babe,” almost stands alone in capturing what I think is the true tone of Jesus’ birth.

The first line gives a clue. I can’t copy verbatim for copyright reasons, but paraphrased it would be Jesus came to eviscerate the camp of the enemy. As we sing our tinkling “all is calm, all is bright” tonight at our Christmas Eve service, I wonder if in the heavenlies, the actual event was anything but calm. I believe when God shot through the night to take on the frailty of flesh,  it was a cacophonous horn blowing, drum beating, cymbal crashing all hands on deck event. Angels must have crowded to the balconies to get a view, and the peak we have of the celestial beings that sang before the shepherds might have only hinted at the enormity of the angel choir.

As the song suggests, this baby came to do battle—to take back what was His—to set up the greatest offensive known to humankind and to do it from the lowest, meanest stage possiblea stable. His arrival would split time and splinter the grip of evil.  John said it best. "The Son of God entered the scene to abolish the Devil's ways" (I John 3:8 The Message).

The accompaniment to the song is simple, only a piano or harp, mirroring the simplicity of God’s plan, but there is no mistaking the driving urgency.

Tonight as we sing our lullaby carols, might we listen hard, and perhaps hear in the supernatural a percussive rumbling, which would be the truer soundtrack for what we celebrate. Remember, here’s the thing. He did this for us, so if it comes over you to shout a Hallelujah, all the better.

Merry Christmas, friends!

This Little Babe lyrics are HERE. Listen HERE.

I'm so excited to share the cover of my new book releasing in January,
A Plan for Everything!
 

 
It is the sequel to, A Key to Everything available HERE.

 
 


 

 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The case of the mssing shepherds and what that has to do with us

“The shepherds are missing,” my daughter said with a perplexed look on her face.
 



The week before we’d gone through her Christmas box and she’d pulled out a few things she wanted to take with herher childhood nativity set being part of the haul.

Later when she went through them, she discovered the problem.

“Let me see if they were put away with your brother’s set.” I sifted through a box of ornaments and found Aaron’s nativity, but his didn’t have shepherds either. Could it be they were never part of the set?

I scouted around to my assorted sets and found not one of them included shepherdsonly wise men.

I guess from an historical perspective, you have to choose. The shepherds and the wise men were never in each other’s company. One can deduce from scripture that the shepherds followed the star to the stable to worship the baby Jesus on His birth. But it is not clear how much time elapsed until the Magi arrived. Some historians say ten days, others claim as much as two years elapsed.

So, I guess all the nativity set makers decided to go with the more flashy wise men and rather than a shepherds only scene.

Poor shepherds. Scared out of their minds by an angel who made the amazing announcement about a Savior being born. The NIV uses the word terrified, which is supported by the original Greek. Then the heavenly hosts show up. Mercy. These men were probably not the sheep’s owners but rather hired to do the work, a job not highly regarded in that daypretty low on the food chain. But it was to these almost-outcasts that God decided to make this grand announcement. They rose to the occasion and found the Bethlehem baby. Luke 2:20 reports they returned to their sheep herding, “…glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

They went. They saw. They told.

For all this, they are left out of nativity sets because they wore ratty clothes.

The case of the missing shepherds speaks today. Sometimes God will ask us to do something and we may be unlikely candidates for the job. Like the shepherds, we may be terrified at the outset and not very flashy in appearance. However, like them we need to rise to the occasion. We need to follow through.

Also, like them, no one may award us a certificate of achievement or make a little ceramic statue of us. What God has asked us to do may seem mostly forgotten, at least on this side of heaven.

On the other side, it’s a whole different story. I imagine the shepherds might have a front row seat on the other shore. And God made sure that we would know their story by including it in Luke’s gospel.

Yes, in the temporal, they may be left out, but in the eternal, they are present and accounted for.

Be encouraged. In the case of the missing shepherds, they are not missing at all.

Neither will what you do for Jesus be forgotten, either.

Merry one week before Christmas!!

I'm so excited to share the cover of my new book releasing in January,
A Plan for Everything!
 

 
It is the sequel to, A Key to Everything available HERE.

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Fragrance of Christmas

I thought of this post from the archives recently when I learned the Sears store in my town was closing. I won't get to make my pilgrimage there at Christmas as I have in years past. However, in an unexpected turn of events my son now lives in walking distance of the old Ponce de Leon store which is now called Ponce City Market, a reinvention of the old Sears and Roebuck where we often meet for family dinners. My children have to listen to me tell of my reminisces there. This post is included in a collection called One Ringing Bell at Christmas available at my Etsy store, Beverly Varnado Art. 




The scents of Balsam and Fir trees, candy canes, and cinnamon are almost universally perceived as the fragrances of Christmas.

But another aroma sends me to Christmases past just as quickly as these: the scent of the Sears automotive department.

More specifically, tires.

For several years when I was a child, my family lived near the big rambling Sears and Roebuck store on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta.

At Christmas, we always made at least one pilgrimage to the brick-faced multi -layered establishment, in which they would transform what I remember to be one entire floor into a seasonal toy department.

The thing is, no matter how big or small the store, Sears and Roebuck always smelled like the tires in automotive. So, as I carefully perused the dolls, games, and stuffed animals, which I hoped would wind up under the tree on Christmas morn, my olfactory nerves decided Christmas smelled like rubber.

Now, at least once during the Christmas season, I have to make a trip to Sears. I usually don’t buy much. I just want to smell the tires.

And remember.

Strange, I know.

My trip to Sears started me thinking about what the first Christmas smelled like. I had to laugh. I guess to get it; we’d have to go sit in a cattle stall. I can’t imagine anyone making manure scented potpourri.

We’ve really sanitized the birth of Jesus, haven’t we?

Very different from the scene conjured by the idyllic nativity figures I have displayed in my house; I believe in the natural, it was a gritty, smelly event.


But in the spirit, there was a transcendent sweetness about it. A sweetness the Savior has shared with us who have received his salvation.

Eugene Peterson puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 2:15, “Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.”

Don’t you love that? “…an aroma redolent with life.”

What the first Christmas really smelled like was life.

Eternal Life.

That’s why the Son of God endured the grime and the stench.

For us.

I made my trip to Sears early this morning and just stood for a moment transported to my childhood by new tire smell. But one day, all those who know Him are going to be transported to their eternal home because of the fragrant life the incarnate God born in a cattle stall died to give us.


 
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