Monthly Archives: December 2008


Today I’m sharing something from my morning prayer time.  Have you read any of Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening?  I’ve found it to be a treasure.  No, he doesn’t talk like we do today…using words like “hitherto,” but like any great spiritual writing, it’s timeless. His writing proves lyrical and beautiful.

I don’t have to tell you that this has been a hard year for many people everywhere.  Savoring Spurgeon’s thoughts brought encouragement.  I hope it does for you, too.

“Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” 1Samuel 7:12 trees

The word “hitherto” seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and yet, “hitherto the Lord hath helped!” Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health, at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea, in honour, in dishonour, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation, “hitherto hath the Lord helped us!” We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is delightful to gaze from end to end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves; even so look down the long aisles of your years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear up your joys. Are there no birds in yonder branches singing? Surely there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received “hitherto.”

But the word also points forward. For when a man gets up to a certain mark and writes “hitherto,” he is not yet at the end, there is still a distance to be traversed. More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death. Is it over now? No! there is more yet-awakening in Jesus’s likeness, thrones, harps, songs, psalms, white raiment, the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fulness of eternity, the infinity of bliss. O be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence raise thy “Ebenezer,” for–

He who hath helped thee hitherto

Will help thee all thy journey through.

When read in heaven’s light how glorious and marvellous a prospect will thy “hitherto” unfold to thy grateful eye!

– Charles Spurgeon

Ten Speeds and Two-Story Snowmen

Merry Christmas!  I thought I’d start the week with something fun.

Our church service tonight was different.  When sermon time came, our pastor turned it into audience participation.  Sunday night services at our church draw a smaller crowd, so this worked well.  He asked whomever wanted to share memories of Christmas…whatever we wanted to tell.  Many people spoke up.  Stories ranged from poignant to funny, and it turned into one of my favorite Christmas services I can remember, despite pricking me with homesickness.  Most of the memories came from childhood.  It seems like our hearts permanently tuck those away, don’t they?

So, I thought we could do the same thing here.  Are you up for it?  Share whatever Christmas stories you want – funny or serious, or simply something that stuck with you.  I’ll start with a few random memories of my own.

– When I was really young, Santa set up shop inside a huge snowman near our house.  I was fascinated by the whole setup.  The snowman sat in a shopping center parking lot, and Santa lived inside with nothing but a chair, noting our dearest wishes for Christmas.  You know how as kids things loomed bigger than they were?  The snowman had to have been five floors tall to me, but in reality was maybe two.

– I loved Christmastime with my family–my parents and older sister.  Every year my mom, sister, and I would make Christmas tree cookies with the same Mirro cookie press.  The best part was sprinkling candy decorations on each one, making each a unique creation.  …A unique creation that was soon gobbled up.  My parents gave me my own Mirro press the Christmas I was engaged.

– My sister and I had different ideas about what time to get up each Christmas morning.  She thought that more sleep was needed before finding out what Santa brought us.  I thought that bordered on heresy: dawn was a very reasonable time to go see our big Santa surprise. The unwritten rule was that we had to go to the living room together.  One year my patience with Sleeping Beauty was wearing thin.  I thought that if I snuck into the living room and previewed the Santa gifts and then reported to her, she’d be more motivated to get up.  She woke up to me informing her that Santa had brought her a new ten-speed bike.  She scowled.  Apparently ruining the surpise only motivated her to keep this story running in the family for close to 30 years. (Love you, Sister!)

I could go on and on, but I’d love to hear from you. What’s your story?  I’m all ears.

O Tannenbaum

My Christmas tree is missing.

Yep, you read that right.

My Christmas tree is missing…from our den, that is.

I have a confession to make. –taking a deep breath– My Christmas tree isn’t up yet. (blushing deeply)

Yep, you read that right, too.  It’s December 19th and my Christmas tree still waits expectantly to be costumed.  (Actually, we joke that it’s our Christmas tree forest.  We have a big tree and two small trees together.)

I know, I know.  I’m in shock myself.  It feels almost illegal in Christmasville.   Where did the time go?  Never in my life have I been treeless this far into the season.  We’ve raced through busy schedules this month.  I was out of town every weekend, plus we’ve been juggling church activities (David is a minister) plus an unusually heavy workload.  Plus a fast-approaching writing deadline.  Plus yada yada yada.  Many late evenings have found us just getting home then soon dozing on the couch. You can relate, I’m sure.

I tried to fancy myself that this is how people in Jane Austen’s day did it; the tree didn’t appear until just before Christmas.  (Sigh) No dice.  The days flew by, and I got antsy and almost depressed about my bare tree and walls.  We love decorating for Christmas: it’s an all-day affair with decorations for each room, most of them sentimental.  True, by the end of the day I’m usually tired and grouchy from the mountain of piled boxes (poor David!), but I wouldn’t dream of it any other way.  It says, “Christmas is officially here for the Bryants.” Deep down I’ve believed that a cozy Christmas couldn’t start until the house looked like Christmas.  I also love having friends over and sharing the season. By the way, this photo shows our hearth a couple of years ago.

Finally, it occurred to me to turn my not-so-quiet desperation into prayers.  Seemed kinda silly to pray about decorating.  I’ve been reminded by God, though, that I can–and should–turn over all things to Him. Especially if that something was driving me nuts.

Slowly God changed my attitude, and something surprising happened:  I’m now having one of the best Christmases I can remember! …The pace hasn’t slowed, but I’m less stressed in the midst of the busyness.  I’ve decided to simply enjoy.  He’s showing me with fresh perspective the preciousness of His coming.  My heart is treasuring the words of carols in a more meaningful way.

Our nativity set is occupying our mantle–the one decoration so far.  It’s in center stage, not crowded by the other things.  It catches my eye as I move through the den.  I stop and smile.  Apparently it’s possible for Christmas to come without five large, plastic bins being dragged out of the closet.  =)

Now, don’t get me wrong.  The tree will be up and adorned before Christmas, doggone it. But now it will be done with a quieter heart, relishing the simplicity with which He came for us all.


Thanks to Rosslyn Elliott over at Inkhorn Blue, I’ve been tagged (thanks, Rosslyn).  So here’s the deal: I’ll share seven random/weird things about myself.  I’ve been thinking about it off and on all day, and this is a challenge.  I’ve done this once or twice before.  I’m also no stranger to the game “Two Truths and a Lie.”  Some of you are starting to know me too well!  Hmmm…let’s see if I’m up to the task.  =)

1.  I love climbing things–usually I can’t resist.  When I get up really high, though, I’m like a scared kitten in a tree.  That still doesn’t stop me most of the time.

2.  I often read magazines from back to front.

3.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  (Christmas is a close second.)

4.  Texas Independence Day is another favorite day and should still be a holiday.  Don’t get me started.

5.  The Ginger Rogers in me would love to take more ballroom dancing classes.

6.  As a three-year-old I ran away from home.

7.  I didn’t see “Star Wars” all the way through until I was in college.

So there you go.  But…I’m adding my own twist.  One of these is only partially true.  Care to guess?

I could tag others, but I’d like to hear from those who don’t necessarily have a blog.  I dare you to add your seven things in the comments.  And if you do have a blog–and even if you’ve already posted your seven things–add some more here!