Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas

No ponderings today, but since I sing with a symphony chorus, I wanted to share a piece from our recent Christmas concert--one of my favorites,"Little Drummer Boy." More of the performances from this wonderful concert are available on the same you tube channel.

From our house to yours, have a very Merry Christmas.

 
"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Gifts of comfort and love


Last Christmas I opened one of my packages from Jerry and found these inside:

 

Two Christmas themed handkerchiefs he saw me admiring in a gift store. He went back and bought them for me―a sweet gesture.

I love vintage handkerchiefs and ones that appear vintage. I have a whole box I’ve collected over the years, many with handmade lace.

One of them inspired the handkerchief noted in this excerpt of The Key to Everything.     

          “Harriet eased from the exam table and gave Genny a hug. 
 'Hurting people hurt people. But first things, first, honey.’ Harriet took a lace-edged handkerchief from her pocket and offered it to Genny.

            Genny stared at it a moment, the lace appearing to have been handmade. It was almost too beautiful to use, but she dabbed her eyes anyway not wanting to reject Harriet’s offer.

            Harriet fixed her gaze right on her. ‘Remember what I said about the legacy. You think about what your grandmother went through.’

            Genny nodded. It was a lot to forgive . . .”

You’ll have to read the book to learn what Genny found a lot to forgive.

But as for the handkerchief, it sends me back to another time, when time and love went into the crafting of them. They often found their way into the hands of a bride, a special purse, or brought comfort in drying a tear.

For many years, my husband would hand out his handkerchief at the altar when praying with someone. Many later confessed they kept the handkerchiefs. One woman who flew home to be with a sick relative took it with her on the trip. There were so many stories like this.

After my dad died, I was going through a coat of his and found one of his handkerchiefs. I cried when I found it and consider it one of my most precious possessions.

The Christmas handkerchief with bells is on my desk. Of course, this blog is called One Ringing Bell, and when I see that handkerchief, I’m reminded to ring out the good news in my writing.

So here I am doing just that, ringing those Christmas bells, and saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace . . . " (Luke 2:14). And I’m praying you, my friends,  would both give and receive gifts this Christmas that bear God’s comforting power and speak of His love.


Today, as part of the Anaiah Authors 12 days of giveaways, I am giving away a digital copy of The Key to Everything, a mug, a bookmark, a small chalkboard, and a scarf.  Click on this link to register.http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/afb0250b6/?

And please consider Faith in the Fashion District or The Key to Everything for those on your Christmas list.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

When you could be cheated out of giving (and a giveaway)


The forecasters weren’t doing us any favors. Predictions called for frozen precipitation from winter storm Diego this past weekend the dates scheduled for our community symphony and chorus Christmas concerts. We’d been practicing for months and foregoing the opportunity to realize the fruit of that practice made us all a little sad.
 
 

I’ve always seen these weekends as a great big gift to our community. The tickets are free and once they become available, thousands of them are gone in less than an hour. It is a tradition for many families to attend the concerts together. Several in my own family as well as friends planned to attend.

But the bad weather threat continued to hang over us. We prayed for a reprieve from it.

It made me think of something my pastor friend Warren wrote to me decades ago when he was mentoring me back from the train wreck I’d made of my life. 

“It’s a terrible thing to be cheated out of giving,” he penned.

Oh, how those words stung when I read them. Unlike the situation with the weather which was out of our control, it was my own selfish actions that had caused me to be cheated out of giving. A deep resolve formed in me not to allow that to happen again.

Paul quotes Jesus in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Seeing the joy a gift is to others does indeed bring a huge blessing to us. In this season of giving, it’s nice to stop and remember why we do what we do. We love because He first loved us. We give because He first gave to us.

It turned out that the snowy weather went a little north of us and our concerts went on as scheduled. The audiences seemed delighted they were able to open their gift from us.

As for us, when the last note had been played and sung, we went home full of Christmas wonder and gratitude because we were able to give. 

And speaking of giving, I'm having another giveaway this week on my blog. Please comment here or on Facebook to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Faith in the Fashion District and a mug. And please consider Faith in the Fashion District or The Key to Everything for those on your Christmas list. The contest ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, December 14, 2018.

The contest is closed. Susan Davis is the winner of a copy of Faith in the Fashion District and a mug. Congrats!!
 

Also, this Thursday begins the giveaway with Anaiah authors. Please join my new  page, Beverly Varnado Readers Page,  here  to keep up with the giveaways.



 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you're running a quart low


I can still see my dad back when I was in college with his head under the hood of my car. He’d unscrew the radiator cap and check the water, tug on hoses to make sure they looked good and occasionally say when pulling the oil stick out, “You’re running a quart low. Go to the service station right now and get a quart. “ That was back when gas stations pumped your gas and did things like clean your windshield and check your oil. My dad, however, didn’t want me heading  out of town to college without scrutinizing my car himself.

It’s that time of the year again, and I sense my heavenly Father saying, “You’re running a quart low. You need to stop what you’re doing and get your tank replenished.”

Last year after Christmas, when I suffered from shingles six weeks at the first of the year, I made a decision I would not allow myself to get under the kind of stress again that would cause diminished health. But even with all the safeguards I‘ve tried to establish, still I’m running a quart low.

A quart low of what?

In my experience, stress diminishes our joy.

 
  
How ironic that joy is the very thing the angels announced the good news would bring us, and yet the stress in our attempts to celebrate this good news decreases our joy. Mercy.

Nehemiah said, “. . . the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

When the joy starts draining out of us, we can become weak and vulnerable, so how do we replenish?

By taking the time to rest, to pray, and offer our gratitude to the Lord.

I can hear you saying the same thing I say, “Oh, I’m too busy this time of year. I’ll pray more in January.”

That was true for me after this past Christmas when I was confined to the house for a week because the shingles caused me to be contagious for chicken pox. I sure did pray more in January.

So, here’s my plan:

1.       Pray more now rather than later.

2.       Stop and give thanks for all God is doing.

3.       Be present in the moment rather than planning for another day.

4.       Try to stop being in a hurry all the time, one of my biggest challenges.

5.       Pare my list down to something doable rather than working off one that stretches into infinity.

 I hope this Christmas season, I can allow God to pour the oil of joy into my life and stay strong. I pray you will, too, friend. 

Consider Faith in the Fashion District for those on your Christmas list--the story of how One Woman's Life on Seventh Avenue launched a lifetime in ministry.

 

 Also we have giveaways coming up including The Key to Everything. Please watch my Facebook page, Beverly Varnado Author, for more information.


 
 





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