I was recently tagged on Facebook to share fourteen random things about me. I thought it would be much more fun and relevant (considering the recent cold and snow) to share random ways I’m staying warm.
1. Wearing fuzzy socks 24/7
2. Keeping my heated seat on high in my car
3. Drinking coffee, well I do that everyday, but still important.
4. Sporting nail polish in bright spring colors to chase away some of the gray. I’m wearing Green With Envy as I type this.
5. When laundry comes out of the dryer I heap all of those cozy clothes on top of my lap and fold them from this position. Try it. It’s lovely.
6. Wearing layers – tank, shirt, sweater, scarf, as many as I can pile on
7. Making soup for dinner.
8. Building snowmen. Sledding. Going for runs out there (only if it’s above 20 degrees). But, doing something outside to embrace the beauty of snowflakes and breathing in the crisp, pristine air.
9. Coating my lips in C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint. It keeps them from getting chapped in the dry air, and the mint infusion is fun and sparky.
10. Drinking hot water during the day. Whether to drink it and allow the heat to seep down my throat or simply to wrap my fingers around the warm mug.
11. Roasting marshmallows in the fireplace – warm and yummy
12. Turning on the space heater in my writing nook.
13. Piling the goose down comforter on top of my other covers.
14. Cozying up with a good book or The Good Book and being thankful for snow days.
How about you? How are you keeping warm?
Wise men. Kings. Magi. The story of these men amazes me. But as with anyone, what truly blows me away is not what they did, but what God did through them.
What do we know about these majestic gift bearers? We refer to them as kings. They were revered like kings and wealthy like kings. They dressed and traveled like kings, but truthfully, they were of the scholarly order of Magi. This means they were highly educated men in the field of astrology, revered in their towns. When they came and spoke, large crowds gathered. Their nuggets of wisdom would have been tweeted and retweeted and posted and pinned.
We depict them as a trio. But the Bible only states three gifts; it doesn’t mention how many people brought them. Who’s to say a few of them didn’t go in on the gold? It was pretty pricey, after all. We’ve even assigned names to them; Gaspar, Balthazar, and Melchior, which if your going to give great men names, why not give them great names?
These magi left their families and friends and the communities that looked up to them to travel for what scholars say took up to two years. They invested riches to hire the caravan necessary to tend to their animals, prepare their meals and travel with them. They didn’t have a map. They didn’t even have Siri to tell them to turn left at the third sand dune. That’s one heck of a road trip. All to see a new king, they’d never even met.
Their faith is awe-inspiring.
But as I said, it’s not what the magi did that blows me away, but what God did through them.
1000 years before they tied their saddlebags on their camels, the Psalmist in Psalm 72:10 -11 wrote: May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!
And 700 years before they gift-wrapped the frankincense with the perfect bow, the prophet Isaiah wrote in 60:6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
That means God had it all planned out. Down to the most intricate detail. He knew where the wise men needed to come from, where they would be going, what they would need to pack and how they would get there. All they had to do was follow the star.
This is so mind boggling; because it means God does the same thing for you and for me. Centuries before we were born He had created plans for us. Not just any plans, but plans to prosper. Like the prophet Jeremiah says.
What lies ahead for you in 2014? What uncertainties lay in your heart? Are you freaking out about how you did on exams? Trying to decide what to major in? Wondering if you’ll start in your next game? Are you in a relationship and wondering if it’s time to take it to a higher level, or maybe to end it all together? Are you not in a relationship and wondering if you’ll ever find a soul mate? Maybe you’re moving and frightened of the unknown? Or panicked about an internship or job search?
No worries. God’s got this. All of it.
And not just the big picture stuff, but all of the intricate details.
He’s had it all planned out for hundreds of years. He knows where you’re coming from, where you’re going, what you need to bring with you and how you’ll get there. He’ll even give you all of the resources you need to make the journey.
All you have to do is follow the star.
The star that is Christ Jesus.
I have a friend who makes me run in freezing cold conditions. Yesterday it was nineteen degrees outside and with the wind chill it felt like seven, as in single digits. And yes, we ran – IN THE WOODS - OUTSIDE!
I love to run outside, but come on. I get cold so easily. I’m currently writing this indoors with the heat on, wearing a jacket and sipping my Starbucks (which I just reheated). I have permashiver in my bones.
I’ve tried getting out of these runs before.
I’ve texted: looks too chilly for me
and my friend texts back: bundle up
There are so many things that don’t seem doable, like running in seven degrees, who would do that? But there are bigger things too, like finishing the manuscript I’m working on by the end of next week or completely forgiving someone in my life, who I’m currently holding a grudge against, tightly. There are challenging moments in scheduling, everyday kind of life, like getting my four kids to all of their practices and games while my husband is in Sri Lanka or maneuvering the roads this morning after the ice storm that hit last night. (Did I mention I’m not that strong of a driver?) But with Christ all things are possible, and my friend pushing me to run outside on a freezing cold morning, is the perfect reminder.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Not some things, or the easy things or the convenient things, but ALL THINGS. So what things are you struggling with today? What seems difficult or inconvenient or tricky or down right impossible? There is a way around, through, over or under it. For me and my run, it meant wearing long underwear, gloves, “heat wear” and my Columbia. And you know what, our run through the woods was invigorating. I saw the beautiful patterns of water frozen in motion on an icy stream. I breathed in fresh, clean, crisp air after days and nights of stale air recirculated from dusty heaters. The cold breeze on my cheeks revived my senses. I shared laughter and stories with a friend and allowed my mind and body to fall into the healing rhythm of a run.
Not only is the impossible possible, it usually provides an invigorating path for discovery. What’s overwhelming you today? I’d love to pray for you to find your way through it.
It’s winter. It’s cold. It’s gray. I’m chilly. I’m shivering.
I’ve traded tall glasses of cool water for earthen mugs filled with steaming H2O to warm my hands, throat and insides as I hydrate myself throughout the day.
Throws and blankets litter my couches, so no matter what room I’m in, whether I’m writing, reading, chatting, playing, anything, I can snuggle into the warmth their thick folds offer.
My fuzzy slipper boots with the leopard print haven’t seen my closet in weeks. They are either on my feet or next to my bed, eager for me to trade out my clompy boots at the end of the day and slide into their softness.
I am drawn by the warmth and dancing flames in the fireplace. I savor the scent of coffee, rich and strong in the mornings. I look forward to layering fluffy sweaters and fur vests over my body.
But part of me, something deep inside of me, longs for outdoors.
Like our tortoise, who revels in sunning himself under his heat lamp, but always seems to be planning his great escape, I want to bang my head against the windows and find a way out of my terrarium, aka my house, and out, where there’s air and sky and breezes and life.
So, today, I went running outside. I wore long underwear and a turtleneck and a hooded sweatshirt tied tight around my face. Thick, polar fleece gloves encased my fingers. But, I felt it. I felt Him.
Outside, I am always closer to my Maker and always closer to me, the person He made me to be. The park was desolate except for one person walking their dog and a pair of soccer players passing the ball back and forth, the leather echoing against their cleats in the stillness of the day.
I inhaled long and hard the cold, crisp winter air. It broke through my fog and stirred my lethargy and made me feel alive. The wind stung my eyes, making them tear up, but the tears were warm and wet and real, and seemed to cleanse a film off my lenses making everything more vivid.
The air in my warm nest of a home has become stale with the hum of the heater. But the air outside was as fresh as a farmer’s market, alive and new, just grown today, for my lungs to take in and push back out.
I returned home to a soothing warm shower, my favorite jeans, three layers of tops and of course, my slippers. As I sit here and write, I sip steaming water and intermittently clutch the warm mug to my chest. But my soul is stirred.
My eyes are wider. My heart beats faster. My mind races with ideas.
My cozy home is a safe haven for shelter and heat, but I do not need to hibernate. I will take the gift of life, the essence of the universe and infuse it into my very soul and all I do.
I will take the gift of creation and visit it again sooner, rather than later, to keep me in sync with my Creator and His plans for me.
Laura L. Smith