Tuesday, December 26, 2017

What a Southern gal learned with two blades strapped to her feet

Lots of fun around here with family and finding time to work on edits for three different book projects, so I needed to pull something from the archives for this week's post. I loved writing this piece about an adventure my daughter and I had.

Growing up in the Deep South as I did, ice-skating seemed the stuff of fairy tales.

The closest we came to it was sliding across the driveway after an ice storm.

But in the 1976 Olympics, Dorothy Hamill perpetuated the fairy tale. In graceful splendor, she sailed across the ice and into our hearts with an Olympic Gold medal in both the short and long programs.

We wanted to spin like Dorothy. We wanted her haircut.

She planted in the heart of a young woman more experienced at swimming than spinning an aspiration to don a glittery costume and perfect an arabesque while gliding across the ice on two blades at twenty miles per hour.

Well, take away the glittery costume, the arabesque, and the twenty miles an hour, but I finally did it.

 Unable to find ice thicker than the skim on the birdbath around here for decades, an ice skating rink finally came  to my town, and I strapped on a pair of blades.

When I first stepped on the ice, I said to my daughter who was with me, “I’ll never get this.”

She turned to me and said, “I felt the same way when I first did it.” She’d ice skated in the city where she attends college and had at least a working knowledge of what to do.

I clutched the rail as I inched my way around the rink. In short order, my daughter struck out on to the ice leaving me trying to avoid the flailing arms and legs of those in front and behind me. Halfway around, I arrived at a few conclusions.

First, this creeping along was not ice-skating.

Second, I was in more danger at the rail than on the ice, with the bladed feet around me splaying in every direction.

Third, I was never going to learn anything white knuckling the rail.

So, contrary to my careful nature, I let go.

Just the blades, the ice, and me. Oh, and the toddlers, the teenagers, and the retirees flying past as if I were standing still.

With every move, I saw myself Dorothy, elegant and agile. I wanted to do tricks—skate backwards, do a triple jump, something. But I suppose my biggest trick was managing to stay upright on the ice without splatting on my hiney.

 I don’t believe in bucket lists, but I do believe in living our whole lives well and for me, putting on those ice skates was a dream come true.

So glad I turned loose of that rail.

Looking towards a new year, I suppose there are other ways that I’m metaphorically holding on to the rail. But I’m looking to let go in those areas as well—to unfurl my fingers and glide into the future with Jesus.

Oswald Chambers said it this way, As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.”

Maybe you have white knuckles, too, clutching onto the familiar, holding onto the past, when God is calling you to step out with Him. It’s scary. It’s unpredictable. And it may not be all that safe.

But this southern gal is here to tell you, there’s nothing like it.

Let go that rail and have a blessed New Year!
". . . I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you" (Isaiah 41:13 The Message).

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

With love from our family to yours

I opened the Christmas cards I had picked up from my mailbox at church. My eyes teared as I read them. One bore the shaky signature of a woman who has Parkinson’s and another one the inscription of a man who cares for his memory-impaired wife. How did she manage to sign cards with her physical challenges and how did this caregiver find the time to do this?

With the seasonal time crunch on, I wondered how I would paint a Christmas card as I usually do. But really, the pressure I feel is self imposed. It really doesn’t take that long. Now, I could work on a painting from now until next  year and still find something wrong, but if I could put my perfectionism aside, it really would be okay. I just needed to let go of perfect.

The candle we light this week of Advent is the candle of love. As we share our gifts of love this Christmas, we remember how God gave first.

“For God so loved the world that he gave . . .”  (John 3:16).
His gift was perfect and ours will never be that, but even so, we give.

Here’s my imperfect Christmas card to you with much love from our family to yours.

May your Christmas be especially blessed.


Here’s an author interview with me relating to my new novel, The Key to Everything, which I have under contract with Anaiah Press.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Finding Joy

My first child, Aaron, was born just after Christmas. The night
before his scheduled induced labor, I felt an almost euphoria, I had so much joy in my heart. I was going to get a baby the next day―a baby that I could take home with me. What an incredible Christmas gift.

It seemed almost too good to be true.

After a long labor, it was actually two days later, but I carried that little fellow home and had a birthday party for him every Tuesday for a yearat least a birthday party in my heart.

This Sunday at our church, we will light the candle of joy on our Advent wreath.

One night to a village of what some think may have been less than 300 people, God sent the Savior of the world wrapped in the fragile trappings of humanity. That tiny bundle came bearing a gift for all mankindHis work on earth making a way for us through faith in Him to know joy eternal.

The angels’ said to the shepherds, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Though I experienced an incredible level of joy on the arrival of my son, how much greater is the joy Jesus came to give us. In fact, that word used by the angels, great,  in the Greek means exceedingly, greatest, and mighty. Exceeding joy. Greatest joy. Mighty joy.

Some of you may have recently lost someone close to you or maybe you're giving care to an aging parent. Perhaps your financial situation is looking dire, or you are dealing with serious health issues. This time of year can be especially difficult when you're already dealing with hard things, but dear friends, no matter what is happening in your life today, may you not miss what God has for you as we celebrate the birth of our Messiah. Forget the Norman Rockwell picture and embrace the joy in this moment no matter how frayed your life may seem. You are loved with an exquisite love, and He came to give you GREAT joy.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


My face had been in front of a computer screen for hours doing book edits, then I scrambled trying to pull together what I needed for a children’s play practice. I wanted to get to church early to turn on the heat and lights in the sanctuary.

I arrive feeling brain weary and frazzled. When I push open the sanctuary door, I expect a blast of cold air. Instead, warmth envelops my chilled body. Some wonderful soul had come early to turn up the heat. I had not been able to participate in the hanging of the greens this year, so when I flip the lights, the Chrismon tree seems especially lovely (These are my all time favorite kind of Chrismons, which are ornaments with Christian symbols).


I take a moment and sit in the quiet peace.


I breathe deeply and let rest come over my scattered life.

I close my eyes and relish this place apart.

The Merriam-Webster definition of sanctuary is “a place of refuge and protection.” It originally comes from the Latin, sanctus, which means holy.

A holy place, that’s what I found that evening.

But more than a place, sanctuary is a Person.

God refers to himself metaphorically as the sanctuary.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says . . . I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone” (Ezekiel 11:16).

God reminds me that I may find that Holy quiet place in Him. Any time. Any day. Anywhere I go.

During this busy time of year, what a comfort to know sanctuary is available to us 24/7.

In an Advent guide I use, the designated meaning of the candle we light this week is peace.

Friends,  let us together find sanctuary, that place of peace and comfort in His presence remembering that the one whose birthday we celebrate was himself called the Prince of Peace.

If you're looking for a Christmas gift, Grace Publishing has just released an anthology called Merry
Christmas Moments. I have an article in it entitled, "Sharing the Gospel from my Exploding Closet." Authors receive no royalties from this collection. Instead, proceeds go to Samaritan's Purse. HERE if you'd like to order.
In my Etsy store, One Ringing Bell at Christmas, a collection of Christmas posts from One Ringing Bell.  HERE to order from Beverly Varnado Art.

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