Hope Finds a Purpose for Christmas Cards

Throughout the years, I have received many beautiful Christmas cards. So…what to do with them after Christmas? Just pitch them while cleaning up all the decorations and torn wrappings? No way.christmas_cards_stilllife

Sometimes I frame cards. One framed card hangs in my office – a reminder to stay in JOY all through the year.

But my favorite way to use Christmas cards begins after December 25th. I set the basket of cards on my kitchen table, next to my Bible.

Every morning when I meet with God, I choose one of the cards and read again the message written inside. Then I pray for the person who sent the card.

I ask God to bless that person and his/her family during the coming new year – to fill them with hope and joy – to draw them closer to His loving heart.

If I know of some particular need, I pray for that. Keep them safe. Provide for them what they need – a warm home, food every day, enough love to keep them in abundant joy.

Praying through the cards helps Christmas last a little longer and reminds me of all the friends and loved ones that sent a holiday message.

It reminds me how we are connected – through the DNA of family members, through experiences we have shared or through the blood line of that baby in the manger who became the Savior on the cross.

Christmas is about more than decorations and presents. And the weeks after Christmas are about more than cleaning up, starting a diet, cashing in gift cards and going back to work.

Hope travels from one season to the next, especially when it is tethered by prayer.

©2014 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Roxie’s Challenge

Roxie, the stressed-out activities director at Cove Creek Assisted Living, wonders how to address a challenge in her life. She asks the only person she can really trust, one of her beloved residents – Reverend G.

Reverend G was on her third trip around the hallways of Cove Creek, as she walked in her turquoise sweats and white Nike’s. Her stomach grumbled, but she ignored it, promising herself she would finish one more lap before she ate anything.

Roxie poked her head out of her office, “Psst, Reverend G. Can you come in here for a minute?”

“Sure I can, dearie. What can I do for you?”

Although plagued with occasional dementia and early-onset Alzheimers, Reverend G still loved ministering to anyone who asked. She actually felt most alive when someone asked her to help them with a problem. And Roxie was one of her favorite people in the whole world – except for her beloved Jacob and his lovely wife, Jessie. And, of course, Gabriel, Reverend G’s gifted cat.

“I have a problem, Reverend G.” Roxie motioned to a chair. “Have a seat, please. I’d like your advice.”

Reverend G sat in the chair opposite Roxie’s desk and put on her pastoral counseling face. Listen carefully, she told herself. Try to concentrate.

Oh God, oh God – help me to know what to say. Roxie looks troubled.

Roxie started with a sigh, then she looked at the ceiling, then back to her fingernails and finally – right across her desk at Reverend G.

“You see, I have this problem with one of the staff. I won’t tell you which one, but you can probably guess because she has flaming red hair and she flips it around in my face whenever we have staff meetings and she’s always lording it over me just because she has the corner office.”

“Got it.” The director, Ashley, younger than Roxie and less experienced in dealing with the aging population, but with a masters’ degree in administration. She was hired to run the place. As far as Reverend G knew, Ashley effectively administered all the ins and outs of Cove Creek. But evidently, Roxie had a problem with her.

“I’ve tried and tried to like this person, but every time I get close to barely tolerating her – my old angry self takes over. I know that’s not Christian of me, but that’s how I feel. So…now I’ve confessed to you. What can I do about my bad attitude?”

Reverend G thought for a moment. Oh God, oh God, please Father – don’t let the Alzheimers take over right now. I need a clear answer for Roxie and maybe a visual example. Please and thank you, sir.

“Well, dearie, I could give you lots of theological jargon, but you already know what you should do. We’re told to love others as much as we love ourselves, but sometimes that’s really hard.”

“For sure. Like I said, I’ve tried and tried for a long time.”

Reverend G pointed to the ivy that grew on Roxie’s desk. She turned the orange pot around so that Roxie could see the newest leaf that grew in one corner of an ivy trail.

“See this baby ivy? It’s almost impossible to see, but it’s growing right here in the corner. See?”

Roxie nodded her head.

“How hard do you think this ivy worked to make that leaf happen?”

“I water it twice a week and once a year, I give it fertilizer.”

“Yes, dearie – you’ve done these things to help the ivy grow. But what has the ivy done? Do you think it grunts and groans every night, trying to make a new leaf happen?”

“Of course not. It’s just programmed to keep growing. Making new leaves is what the ivy does naturally.”

“Exactly. God programmed this ivy to grow new leaves, and it does that without even trying. Certainly, you help to keep it healthy, but the plant itself just depends on the DNA God put within it. Its new fruit, its new leaves, grow naturally.”

“I don’t get it, Reverend G. What do you mean?”

Reverend G smiled. “When you became a Christian, dearie, God planted his Holy Spirit inside you. That planting gave you the freedom to live the Christian life without trying so hard. God’s love is in you already, and all you have to do is let God love the director through you. When it’s hard to do what is right, just let God do it naturally through you.”

“Really? It’s that easy?”

“I’m not saying it’s easy, because our selfishness gets in the way and our own personalities sometimes sabotage relationships with other people. But what I’m saying is that if you let him, God will love Ashley through you. Pray for her as you pray for yourself and then just let him do the loving. Okay, dearie?”

“Okay. I’ll give it a try…I mean…I’ll let God do it through me. Thanks, Reverend G. And now, is there anything I can do for you?”

“Yes, indeed. I would love a piece of cheesecake – with blueberries, of course.”3D Rev G cover

©2013 RJ Thesman

5 Ways to Stay Creative

In the last post, we investigated five ways to stall creativity. Those included: lack of sleep, stress, wrong direction, fear and guilt. If you’d like to read my ideas about stalled creativity, check out the post at: www.rjthesman.net.

So what do writers do if creativity stalls?writing pencil

  • Don’t Panic. Keep breathing and keep your writing schedule. You have no schedule and no writing plan? Hmm. Perhaps you could use the services of a writing coach. I happen to know one. Check out my coaching services at: www.rjthesman.net

Keep breathing. Keep typing something, even if it makes no sense to you. Free writing is one of the best ways to rev up your creative motor.

Watch the movie “Finding Forrester.” Sean Connery stars as a writer who mentors a young boy and shows him how to do free writing. If you feel stalled, watching Sean Connery is good medicine. Even if you don’t feel stalled, watching Sean Connery is a good plan.

  • Go back to the beginning. Read the first chapter of your book or the previous chapter you just wrote. Sometimes you can get back in the action by just visiting your character’s lives.

Look around your office at all the books you’ve already written and all the articles and stories that you’ve published. You can do this. You’ve done it before. I believe in you.

  • Do something else that involves creativity. Get out of the office and go for a walk. Look for colorful leaves, because when you get back home you’re going to sit down and describe those leaves.

Go to an art gallery and look at the creativity of other artists. Feel the fabric in a clothing store. Buy something in a bakery, unless you’re on a diet. If you are, then go home and write about how horrible it is to be on a diet when all you really want in life is a decadent brownie.

  • Take your journal somewhere quiet and write praises to God. Thank Him for allowing you to be a writer and to transcribe the words he has given you.

Even if your tank feels empty at the moment, fill it up with thanksgiving to the one who gave you the gift in the first place.

  • Take a nap. Really. Just curl up with a warm cat or dog or both and snooze for a while. Your brain cells will rejuvenate and you might even dream about the next chapter you need to write. Naps are highly under-rated.

After trying some or all of these steps, read through your “Encouragements” file.

What? You don’t have an Encouragements file? Start one today by printing off this post and highlighting the following:

I am a writer. God has called me to write, and because He is the Creator and I am made in His image – then I, too, am creative.

Words are my tools. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.”

The Word is also with me.

©2013 RJ Thesman