What divides us…

By: Ms. O

I am not a math whiz. Sure when I was in elementary school, I was all over addition tables. At that point in time, there was no magic five point way of doing a math problem. We memorized the tables. I knew what went with what number…pairs mind you…that made up the sum I was looking for. Subtraction…well, that was not as easy but I was still okay. When we moved on the multiplication I was back in my element….until division came and once again I was floundering…big time.
Maybe that is my problem with the word today…I am not big on division.

The older I get, the more I realize it is all part of life. My two children divided from me by the miles that stood between home and the college they attended. That did not sit well with me. It created sadness in the “in between”…and that never went away.

Marriage divided by divorce equals a great amount of sorrow…remorse…souls that need repair. The line is there…between married…and not…with the healing process that is anything but simple.

Living in the world today it seems all the focus is on division. Along party lines…there is a chasm that separates the two. What made this country what it is…living with the freedom to choose…only caused us to distain anyone who opposes our point of view.

Religion…ugh…the great divider that was never meant to be that. Four of the five siblings in my family all attend different houses of worship. Same God…different approaches…and the world will tell us that the differences are meant to do just that…divide us.

I know that there are clear differences with even something as simple as cuisine. Whether or not I like sushi or Indian food…neither of which I can stomach….divides me from a good part of the staff at work. There are vegetarians who if I took up their “way of eating”… I would starve…since there is a clear dividing line between me…and vegetables.

I grow weary with keeping up with who stands on which side or …even more so…that we have to take sides. That it not God’s original intent…not by a long shot.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship from the Spirit, if any tenderness or compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Philippians 2:1-2

Perhaps we all need to read this each and every morning….just saying.

Five months into World War 1, on Christmas Eve in 1914…both sides knee deep in mud and muck…fighting and defending their own trenches….way too far from home…and family…when the sounds of a Christmas carol could be heard across enemy lines. The haunting words of “Silent Night” song in German lingered in the night air… between a space that separated the sides by a mere one hundred yards. After the German troops finished singing their version of that song, cheers rose up from the British side and they returned “fire” with the same tune…in their own language. Christmas morning, opposing sides came out of their trenches…and met in the middle…among a land littered with the ravages of war…to celebrate….Christ. They shared make shift gifts of chocolates, sausages, liquor, cigarettes and pudding…mixed in with stories of…home.

War resumed the following day…and peace would not come about until November 1918…but that Christmas Day four years before left its mark. A British soldier wrote of that day saying….

“I wouldn’t have missed the experience of yesterday for the most gorgeous of Christmas dinner in England.”

I sincerely doubt God takes pleasure in our differences…where we disagree…. in places we don’t see eye to eye. When we divide, we take away from God’s original intent….being likeminded…not in the way we think…but in the way we love….when we model after HIM. We lose focus…on what it means to be united.

The best way I learned to deal with division is to turn the problem into an adding on instead of a taking away. What multiplied by 9 makes 27?….3 of course. It takes both numbers multiplied to make up the sum…together.

As we enter into the season of Advent I pray we take a page from history…and call a cease-fire to all our fighting.

I believe that God takes great joy in the growing that came from my children growing up and into their own lives.

He celebrated my strength that came through during my post-divorce years.

I see nowhere in the Bible that God is a Democrat or a Republican…He is more about along the party line of love…His Love. 

Sure God created vegetables and I don’t fault Him for that …I simply happy that He created fruit too…which is much more appealing to my palate.

I don’t think He sees me and my siblings entering into different houses of worship…He takes delight in the fact that we enter.

I may not be absolutely certain of much in my life…time and circumstances cause change…and we have to adapt or stand firm…..depending on what is best. One thing I do know for sure…no doubt at all…God is love…He created me in His image…so His intent is that I live out that love I inherited. Our common ground between the trenches…is the birth of our Savior…what better reason than that to say…enough. Amen.

2 Things December Won’t Tell You.

By: Amy Dalke

There is a whole lot of hustle that needs to be done around this house. (Since Christmas is upon us and all.) Bustle wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.

Because I have an elongated to-do list, an equally extensive to-buy list (as in, I haven’t bought a single thing yet), and a tedious stocking stuffer list. There will eventually be a grocery list, but The Menu requires brain space I can’t afford to lose at the moment.

Seriously, you guys: December can steal some joy; and unless we deliberately pursue the holy in this season, we’ll buy the lie of all the hurry. 

If you’re anything like me, you tend to slip-slide your way into the Hustle and Bustle when your mind isn’t anchored on the truth. Since I’m bound and determined to savor the joy of Jesus this December, I’m reminding myself of two things every single day:

1) I can’t make Christmas happen. Because God already did. 

Wooden rustic background with red christmas presents.

One sign that you may think Christmas is your responsibility, is that you’ve experienced a minor mental breakdown in a retail environment. (Mine happened to be in Pier One this year…when I discovered All These Wonderful Things I needed to add to our Christmas decor.)

Let me assure you that having the most beautiful deco-mesh wreath on your street will not save Christmas for you, nor will spending two months’ salary on outside lighting. The superfluous expenditures could actually have the opposite effect you’re seeking, especially if your other half watches spending like a hawk has significant input about the household budget. (Not that I know anything about this.)

Beyond the overuse of burlap and snow-capped garland, I’ve also been known to crowd the family calendar with every possible Christmas experience. You know, so that I can make sure Christmas is experienced.

But I’ve learned that dragging two males to one of those Drive-Thru Light Things…is not going to turn our house into Who-ville.

Bottom line: it’s probably a proven fact somewhere that Mary and Joseph did not deck out the manger stall with red and green LED lighting. While we find lots of jolly goodness in Christmas decorations, these things aren’t part and parcel to advent.

Because perfect preparations & decorations don’t change the effects of Jesus’ birth. And we can’t make Christmas happen. Because God already did.

2) In Christ, I lack nothing. (I have enough, and I am enough.)

Wooden rustic background with red christmas presents.


“Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:10

For me, the haunting whispers of the scarcity mindset are mostly heard when I’m shopping (for others) during December. (Or let’s just be truthful, it’s not limited to December.) Malls, boutiques, and Target-type establishments never fail to uncover a part of me (or my house…or my wardrobe) that is somehow lacking.

Like that leopard print throw I found, which I need for the living room. Or the new jacket-style sweater that I didn’t realize I’ve been looking for all of my life. (It’s been there at Anthropologie all along! Imagine that!)

The lack can also look like tight budgets, over-crowded schedules, or loneliness. In other words, if you’re running short on money, time, or relationships…you might think this means you aren’t enough. As though you’re very worth is measured on clocks, balance sheets, marital status, or the number of dates you went on in 2014.

Jesus came to earth to fully redeem us (Ephesians 1:7, Psalm 130:7)

…to give us life to the full (John 10:10)

…so why do we feel so empty?

We try to wrap our arms around the Perfect Christmas as though the tree, the lights, the parties, and the gifts make Christmas full.

What if, this December, we open our empty hearts to receive his fullness – the wonder, hope, joy, love, and peace of Christ – instead of filling up with the expectations that some thing or some one or some plan will satisfy that hollow ring in our soul?

The world can tell us all day long that we need MORE to have enough.

But reality is – because of Christmas, we always have MORE THAN ENOUGH.

(And you can’t exactly fit that in a box.)