February 24, 2017 at 10:04 pm Elliot Jane Morris was delivered into the world and placed in the arms of our youngest son and his tender wife. I remember my own experience and know the joy that was complete in their arms after nine long months of expecting the love of their lives to live and breathe moving from the womb into this world. Olivia was spent and very sedated. It had been a very long nineteen hours of intense but non-productive labor resulting in (more…)
My first Valentine’s Date Night, Friday, February 17, 1989 with Mike Morris:
I should have seen the handwriting on the wall. On our first Valentine’s Day together, guys who talk sports and guy stuff surrounded me. How could I have been so blind? Love can be a slippery thing.
Snow had begun to fall late in the afternoon, accumulating a recorded 10-18 inches across the entire state of North Carolina over a two-day span. I was nervous that our date would be canceled. I was nervous about going on a date for Valentine’s Day. Did he like me? Did he love me? Or not? I was uncertain and doubts clouded my mind and heart. He was focused and determined and confident, however, that we would have a romantic first Valentine’s date.
I lived with my parents in rural Kings Mountain, NC and just getting to our driveway was a slippery adventure. I worried the whole time we were out that he would not get me home safely; we may slide off the road and be stranded in the cold somewhere.
I don’t like to be cold.
Convinced that my long gravel driveway would not be safe to navigate, we parked his car at my grandparents’ house at the bottom of the hill so he could walk me home in the moonlit snow after our date.
Picture the scene:
The ice-cold stillness of the night air, filtered moonlight
peeking through the clouds, snow falling in a swirl,
gathering closer as a covering.
Right in the middle of the romantic scene (cue the music) I slipped and fell flat on my backside! Mike laughed a little more than I thought he should. I must have looked ridiculous! How could this happen? I was so embarrassed and a flush heated my neck and face as I realized my heart had completely leaped with love in this picturesque scene gone wrong.
Mike had planned the evening so well.
On our very first Valentine’s Day as an official couple,
we had opted to double-date with another couple.
Dale G. and his date were to meet us at the romantic Satterfield’s Restaurant, nestled by the creek on a wooded lot near the highway between Kings Mountain and Shelby, NC. The setting was the most romantic you could imagine.
Fireplace. Candlelight. Live piano.
Snow falling in gentle drifts by the water’s edge.
Me. Mike … and Dale.
Dale’s date had canceled on him but he came anyway. He came anyway! By himself. For Valentine’s dinner! With us!
Yep. The scene for a romantic evening for three was kinda strange. I remember looking out the window at the snow falling, enjoying my candlelight steak dinner and thinking, “I have no one to talk to.”
I’m quite sure Mike and Dale talked sports and guy stuff.
—completely wrong! Then I slipped and fell as we made our way up the long driveway to my parents’ house in the snow.
I fell in love with a man who is not only strong and brave, but also full of grace.
He helped me to my feet and we had a good laugh. Holding hands, we trekked up my parents’ driveway and kissed goodnight under the snowfall on our journey toward a lifetime of love. And we have never forgotten or neglected to laugh at this night in our story.
Romance comes unexpectedly and catches us off guard sometimes. Like when you feel like the third wheel on your own romantic date. Like when you slip and fall squarely on your pride. When you hate to be cold and then your face ignites with embarrassment and your heart with flames of love.
Romance sometimes takes hold of your hand and your heart and silently tells your insecure soul… “Happy Valentine’s Day. You are loved.”
Do you have a funny story to share when it comes to dating? What about a fun time out with friends to celebrate all things love?
Please share your thoughts with us.
“Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Yes, this will be the blessing
for the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
May you live to see your children’s children—
peace be on Israel.”
Psalm 128 NIV
I will never forget a sermon from this passage of scripture I had the privilege of sitting under years ago. As I write I am remembering it may have been like twenty years ago!
WOW! Where has the time gone?
We have always purchased and decorated a tree the day after Thanksgiving, but not this time.
Truthfully, we are not decorating this year. I know. WHAT? We are in the middle of moving into our fixer-upper and there are many details yet unfinished and more boxes from storage than I remembered still needing to be unpacked. I haven’t even found my Christmas stuff yet!
Twenty-seven years ago, Mike and I celebrated our first Christmas together and purchased a tree that was bigger than we had decorations. I had grown up with colored lights and an artificial tree. He had grown up with a live tree and white lights. He won my heart and how to decorate a tree that year and love was the garland and grace that filled our tiny apartment.
This year, we moved from our house to an apartment and then into our new-to-us house and have not, to date, even thought about a Christmas tree. Even though it has been our tradition to always decorate the tree on Black Friday, it is not happening this year. We may get one when the furniture is finally in place and the house in a semi-state of order. If not, it will be OK because I have learned that grace is the garland of love that fills our lives and the faithfulness of our God never ends.
In the middle of our mess and messy lives and finding what our new traditions will be in our Empty Nesting Season 2, where is the presence of peace? When the presents, packages and bows are put away, will we have experienced the presence of Jesus? When the lights are entangled once again on a shelf and stored away, will the Light of Christ be shining outwardly from within my heart? Will joy be untamable? Or will the cloud of too much to do and unrealized expectations hide the truth of peace on earth and in my heart? Will the presence of Christ permeate each day or will the Light of the World within me be dimmed by depression, doubt and another holiday gone by without the gift of Sabbath? Will surrender shine like a radiant beam from His holy face to mine?
How to Practice the Presence of Jesus:
- Be Intentional
- Create space on your calendar for reflection, grace and love.
- Read the Christmas story out loud to yourself.
- Appreciate God moments as they come.
- Be Honest
- With yourself: what is realistic?
- With others: what is realistic?
Tip: It’s OK to gracefully decline and say no to some things, even family.
- Be Still and Quiet
- Turn off the noise, social media, TV, etc.
- Take time to breathe, take a nap, rest.
- Be grateful for His perfect presence.
I am preparing now to practice the presence of Jesus in my heart and mind. I am planning now to talk with Hunky Hubby about our future, which includes daughters-in-love and a baby girl next year. So much has changed in our lives this past year that I find myself wondering how I will navigate this new season. One thing is sure: Christmas trees are not required to cultivate faith, family and home or to practice the presence of the peace of Christ.
Challenge: Will you stop today to ask God how you can practice the presence of His peace during this busy season? How can this busy time of year be simplified?
Question: What has God whispered to you in a quiet moment that inspires you to embrace His peace in the middle of a filled-up calendar? What is keeping you from trusting God’s promise of peace to you? We would love to hear your comments.
If you are looking for a simple devotional, will you consider taking a look at my book? You can find it here or by clicking the photo below.
Fall comes slowly here in the South, but that never stopped me from wanting happy little pansies to begin taking root as soon as September came around. There is something wonderful about cultivating the soil in anticipation of growing something beautiful. Except I don’t have a green thumb and my visions of gardening have always been overcome by my reality of forgetting to water and tend to the flowers I plant. Nevertheless, I had spent time planting my favorite colors in the flower bed just outside our front door one day while the boys were at school.
Evergreen Street was a kid-filled street and our house seemed to be in the middle of all of the activity. Bicycles, balls, and boys go together like peanut butter and jelly and we had both on overflow most days. I have always loved being a mom to three boys and my heart is as happy as the pansies I planted that day when I remember all the crazy moments spent sorting socks, shoes, and sand from their pockets.
One specific afternoon comes to mind when I think back to our days living at 119 Evergreen; it was warm, sunny and the yard was filled with the voices of laughter, talk, and noise of little boys. I was making dinner or something inside while listening through the open door to the boys play outside. The doorbell rang and rang and rang. I knew who it was. Our youngest loved to ring the doorbell to let me know he was “home” and I would have spoken to him for ringing the door for the hundredth time in an afternoon, except this time was different.
Looking out the glass door as I approached, I could tell something was different; he had that look in his eye and I knew he was up to something. He was holding something behind him. I hoped it was not some kind of critter from the woods out back. But as I approached and opened the door, his hand presented to me in the most elegant fashion a fistful of happy pansies! With a smile as big as the sky and sunshine flushing his chubby cheeks, he announced, “I picked you purdy flowers!” He was so pleased to give me a gift. “I know you like flowers, Mommy!” And I do! But in that moment, I loved him more!
It didn’t matter that the entire root system and ball of potting soil was still attached to his gift. He was absolutely delighted to give his gift! It didn’t matter that I had bought the flowers, they belonged to me, I had planted them where I wanted them; he had seen them and thought of me and wanted to delight me with a gift. His heart was in the gift and I received it, dirt and all, with love, delight, and joy.
He helped me trim off the roots and dirt and we filled a clear vase with water to display these little beauties for as long as they would last. Then he skipped off to play with his brothers and friends and my heart was tender before the Lord as I considered what giving means.
These little pansies that were given back to me that day are what I envision when I think of the joy of giving. When giving our gifts to God, He is delighted when we do so with a cheerful heart.
When we stop to notice something beautiful, to acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes to us from God the Father, when we give back to Him what is already His and we do it with gladness, He takes great delight in us! Even when our gifts are messy and dirty or in need of work before being placed on display before others, He delights in our giving not because the gift itself is special, but because we are special to Him.
Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose]
just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly
or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver
[and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift].
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 AMP
When you consider giving to God a gift of praise, thanksgiving, your time, talent or tithe, how do you feel?
Do you feel excited, joyful, and blessed, or do you feel resentment?
Please feel free to share in the comments below. We want to hear your stories of giving and thankfulness!
Just released by DeAnna Morris:
Simply Life; Live in Faith Every Day