Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Grey and Getting Real in the New Year

 


In our Christmas pictures this year, one strange little quirk appears in each one. I have a skunkish stripe of grey shining on the top of my head. Over the past couple of years, I developed what I believed to be a sensitivity to hair color after dying it for twenty years. I was losing my hair, which left me with no alternative but to suspend the coloring.

Sure enough, months later, my hair began growing back.

It hasn't been an exactly smooth transition. I look in the mirror and am shocked to see the transformation taking place before me. I often want to grab the phone and call my hair stylist, but I’m still holding fast because I’d rather be grey than bald.

I’m thinking also of moving into the ladies’ room at Walmart (definitely not a sponsored link) because that’s the only place the lighting is soft enough that the line of demarcation doesn’t show.

Fortunately, there are a good many women who have already or are making this same decision and posting about it online. One of them said that leaving the coloring behind has left her with greater peace.

It seemed an odd comment, but when I thought about it, not having to always be on the treadmill of coloring my hair is bound to cause me to exhale, too.

Now, let me say right here, I am not against hair color. It has served me well for years and since I had kids late in life, it kept folks from thinking I was my kid’s grandmother. But sometimes we must segue and losing the color is causing me to ponder again getting real in other areas of my life--like what I want to say with my words and paint on my canvases. It’s always been my goal to create in such a way that I’m not seeking to please anyone else. I really want to hear from the Lord and follow his guidance. I’m renewing that commitment because sometimes it’s challenging when what we do is at odds with what folks expect or want from us. It can also rub some the wrong way.

As we look toward another year, we realize we only have a certain number of days on this earth to accomplish that to which God has called us. I want to be faithful. Perhaps you feel the same way.

The apostle Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Let’s remember these words as we bravely face this new year and allow ourselves to be transformed in whatever way the Lord chooses. Here on the cusp of 2022, I pray our hearts are open to the Lord and our hands ready for His work. May we cast off the opinions of others and really seek to please only One.

May each of you have a happy and blessed New Year.

And as for my women friends, maybe I’ll run into you in the restroom at Walmart.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2021

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Wonder

Joy to the World

I am especially missing this year our dear pastor friend and mentor, Grady, after his passing a few months ago. Without fail, we would receive an annual Christmas card with a meaningful message from him and his precious wife, Doris.

He was a man who committed much to memory—scripture, poetry, quotes, and even passages from books he’d read. In the latter years of his life, this served him well. He would reach into the great reservoir of his knowledge and lift a gem from its bounty to share with others. 

One of the last Christmas cards we received before his death included a verse penned in his shaky but still familiar handwriting and committed to memory in the distant past: 

“Welcome, all wonders in one sight!

   Eternity shut in a span;

Summer in winter; day in night;

   Heaven in earth, and God in man.

Great little one, whose all-embracing birth

Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav’n to earth.” 

It’s from a larger work written in the 17th century by Richard Crashaw, “In the Holy Nativity of our Lord.” 

There’s much to ponder in these lines, but I want to focus on the first one, “Welcome, all wonders in one sight!” 

I was speaking with someone who has suffered a recent difficult loss, and she shared they were going on a vacation soon to what I know is a beautiful place. I was excited to hear it and told her about how it’s been discovered that “wonder therapy” has great restorative power in veterans who suffer form PTSD. There’s a program that allows vets to travel to experience the great beauty and awe of the American west and they find this does a healing work in their lives. I know from experience that wonder is also a balm to those who are grieving. 

Well folks, we are celebrating right now the wonder of all wonders. If we could take time to ponder how prophetic voices across thousands of years pointed to this one moment in history. If we could remember again how Jesus’ birth split history. If we would reflect on what His life means for our life and the whole world and how His coming truly does mean heaven came to earth as God poured out His love to us. I think if we did, we would find greater peace, our hearts enlarged, and our hope for future increased. 

Grady wrote on his card, “Just want to share this with you on the wonder of Jesus’ birth.” 

And that’s what I’m doing—from him to me to you—sharing the wonder. 

Pass it on, because in this old broken world, we are all needing the wonder of Jesus’ birth. 

“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them . . .” (Luke 2:17).

I began this blog in 2010 and for eleven years, it has been my privilege to share with you each week. I do not take that for granted. You are treasured beyond anything you can imagine, and I appreciate the moments you spend here. A special thanks to those of you who take the time to share these posts with others. I am sending each of you a big hug and pray you would have a very merry Christmas, and that you may experience the wonder of our Savior's birth as perhaps you never have before. With love, Bev

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2021


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The Most Joyful Days

I stood in line to speak to the symphony conductor after a recent Christmas concert. Ahead of me were friends of hers and a few snippets of their conversation resonated with me. “It’s so good to hear live music again,” one said. 

I’m usually singing with the symphony chorus this time of year but putting large groups of people singing and playing wind instruments together on stage during a pandemic has presented a unique challenge. Out of caution, only the instrumentalists played this year, but, hearing them again after nearly two years almost brought me and probably others to tears.

“You often don’t value what you have until it’s taken away from you,” someone else said.

For sure. 

Then while attending a recent women’s gathering, a woman deep in the throes of grief after losing her husband said goodbye to me with this sage advice, “Treasure the time you have with your loved ones.”

These experiences have left me with a renewed desire this Christmas to keep the precious ones I love and the traditions I value close and to not take one of them for granted as all of us sometimes do.

Every year, I hope to not let my Christmas to-do list overrun what is important, but if I’m honest, it sometimes does. So here I am again trying to set aside the time to just be with folks I love and enjoy them. And I want to carve out the time to do the things that are important to me. After these past two years, many of us know what it’s like to go without seeing our loved ones for some period and we also have suffered the loss of experiences, which were a joyous part of our lives like live music.

Let’s remember also that just being in the same room with someone is different from really being present in your mind as well as your body. It takes effort—to listen—to care.

Most of all, let’s worship and be with the one about whom the whole season revolves—Jesus. It's easy to lose that focus in the blur. You've heard it before, but it's like going to a birthday party and ignoring the one whose birthday we're celebrating. 

Happy week before Christmas, friends. 

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). 

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2021


Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A recent lapse and what the angel said

In recent days, I took the opportunity to open my mouth and insert my entire foot into it. I had misread a situation and made comments I should have kept to myself. And once those words were out, well, there was no way to get them back in.

Sigh.

I’ve written here before that my grandmother often said, “You just have to bite your tongue,” and if I had known when I was younger how much I needed to remember those words, I would have had them tattooed on my forehead.

It helps me that a well-known Bible teacher has written it isn’t a normal day unless she’s had to apologize several times.

It appears I’m having a good many normal days.

I’ve felt so bad about my comments. Yes, I know God forgives me, but I have trouble letting go. I’m assuming I’m not the only one who has a lapse like this, so maybe you face this struggle as well.

On this upcoming third Sunday in Advent, we’ll be lighting the candle of joy. God is reminding me that Jesus came to give us joy despite our failures and blunders. We don’t have to drag them around like a sack of rocks. Yes, there are always consequences to sin, but shame and guilt are not part of that equation when we’ve confessed our sins and asked forgiveness.

The words of Charles Wesley’s Advent Hymn remind us of this:

Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;

Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

 Oh, how our hearts do long for the joy that is Jesus. When the glittering tinsel tarnishes, the dazzling lights fizzle, and the tinkling songs start to jangle, we realize this season is really about Jesus coming to deal with all that is undone in us.

 These words the angel spoke to the shepherds are also for all of us who need the freedom from sin, rest from striving, and hope for restoration that only Jesus can bring:

 “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’” (Luke 2:10).

 Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2021


 

 

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