Gathering Graces 12/17/2017

*This afternoon I drove out to The Snakepit for the annual Christmas gathering of my lifelong friends. I think this is the 16th year in a row we have gathered together like this. It was a beautiful setting up the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. And the restaurant itself was cozy and not busy, so it was perfect. There were eight of us in attendance this year, six friends, a daughter and a mom. It was perfect. We spent time catching up on everyone’s news, and then after we ate lunch we had a gift exchange. This gathering is always one of the highlights of the Christmas season. And these women have been a source of strength and encouragement to me as I experienced a very difficult year.
*My energy level was good again today. I sound awful, with a raspy voice and cough, but I feel pretty good. When I got home I took about an hour nap, until Christy and Everett arrived, and our family dinner began. Bill and Debbie were getting their floors varnished one more time, so they and the Corgis moved in for the night, and Bill spent some time in the kitchen this afternoon preparing a wonderful Fisherman’s Stew for our family dinner tonight. It was delicious!! We spent more time as we ate around the table planning upcoming birthday celebrations, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve plans. I think we have most of it figured out now.
*We had a nice Christmas musical celebration at church this morning. I always love it when there are children involved, and this year we had Grace Miller and her dad Simon play a saxophone and trumpet duet, the other three Miller sisters sang during the chorus to a special version of It Came Upon A Midnight Clear as Paul sang and Simon played the drum. Then the Langer family had a manger scene at the end and sang Away in a Manger. It was all very sweet.
*Later in the evening, I was sitting on the couch by the fireplace, and Paul came and sat by the fire and started sharing about some things that are going on, and we had a really good talk, and I liked how we were able to refer back to some of the devotional readings we have been sharing throughout this advent season, and how they seem to apply to situations we are going through in our lives. This past week in our advent readings, the focus has been on patience. One day this past week the theme was Patience and Trust. The focus of this day was James 1:1-8, which talks about what to do when you go through trials. I love this portion that we read about this theme. It is just too good to keep all to myself: So James draws attention to the result of the test: patience. Don’t panic. don’t over-react. Don’t turn a problem into a crisis. Be patient. This is one of the great themes of this letter. And, says James, you should let patience have its complete effect. Let it work right through your system (verse 4). Imagine your life like a house. Faith is what happens when you look out of the window, away from your self, to the God who is so much greater than you. Patience is what happens inside the house when you do that.

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