It’s That Time of Year

It’s that time of year…

  • …when stores play the lousiest Christmas songs known to man, interspersed with a few good ones.
  • …when I put on a black velvet dress and sing in my church’s Christmas concert.
  • …when a trip to the library turns into Christmas shopping because one sister was home (and we’ve got to take opportunities when we get them).
  • …when I actually pay attention to the promotional emails from various online stores where I shop occasionally.
  • …when a sister caught borrowing clothes from my closet is likely to get screeched at because she might accidentally uncover a gift I haven’t wrapped yet.
  • …when the list of cookies we want to bake is longer than the list of people we have to give them to.
  • …when we pull out all the Christmas lights and see which ones still work (and which ones the “elves” tangled the worst).
  • …when inflatable Christmas decorations lie like dead things in people’s yards during the day.
  • …when I oooh and aaah over the seasonal-scented Christmas candles (or, conversely, almost die from the overpowering scent if it disagrees with me).
  • …when I hunt at six different stores over the course of a month looking for a special, seasonal ice cream flavor.
  • …when we save all the shipping boxes for wrapping gifts.
  • …when scraps of wrapping paper are apt to be found in the oddest places.
  • …when the first person downstairs in the mornings gets the privilege of plugging in the indoor Christmas lights.
  • …when I research Christmas carols so I can sing all the verses.
  • …when Mom strictly forbids me to check emails for her.
  • …when I play Christmas music as if no other kind of music exists.
  • …when I put on a red dress to go see The Nutcracker ballet.
  • …when I eat way too many sweets and promise myself I’ll “be good” after New Year’s.
  • …when I read a Christmas story or two.
  • …when Dad has to make multiple trips to the store to pick up some last minute item we need for baking.
  • …when I sing of white Christmases knowing full well my southern location probably won’t see proper snow until January.
  • …when I ponder the first two chapters of Luke and Matthew again.
  • …when every day closes with lighting the Advent candles, reading a Christmas devotion, and singing a Christmas carol around the piano.
  • …when we drive around to look at light displays and shake our heads at the houses in our neighborhood who didn’t even hang a wreath.
  • …when we rejoice in the birth of a Baby in Bethlehem—because one day He would die on a cross for us.

Aye, ’tis truly the most wonderful time of the year.

What little things, either lovely or annoying, shout “Christmas” to you?

-Miss Darcy

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I Am Thankful, 2018

I am thankful for…

  • All my needs met. I have a middle-class American lifestyle; literally every one of my physical and material needs is met.
  • Books. An endless source of new knowledge, and also entertainment.
  • Church. Sometimes I think the Church in America is so broken. But even in its brokenness, God somehow still uses it to draw me closer to Him. After all, it’s His Church, not mine, and we Christians need one another.
  • Dierk. He’s the main character in my novel, Prince of Sunland, and by saying I’m thankful for him, I mean his whole story. I’m just so grateful that God lets me write stories. They’re not perfect, but they are mine, and I love writing them.
  • Everlasting life. Much as I enjoy this life, it’s good to know there’s something far-and-away better after I die.
  • Family. We weren’t created to do life alone. Hence, family. Far too often, humans twist the gift of family into a curse. But it was meant to be a blessing. And mine is.
  • Good friends. Friends that give encouragement and laughter and even a gentle rebuke or a pointed question when I need it.
  • Home. We associate “home” with a certain place, and I daresay that plays into it. But there are four people who make a place home for me, and we can make home anywhere.
  • Ice cream. Because I believe in being thankful for, and delighting in, little things.
  • Justice. Isn’t it good to know there is such a thing as just and unjust? I mean, can you imagine how the world would function without it? Disaster.
  • Kids. I’m so grateful for the children God brings into my life so I can love on them.
  • Love. From God. From family. From friends. I’m so rich in this blessing.
  • Music. (And the sense of hearing so I can enjoy music.) I think God created music to speak to our souls in ways that words can’t. And when you match powerful music with powerful words… Perfection.
  • New places. Wherever God brings me, He always brings good things and good people into my life. I enjoy it!
  • Order. I’m thankful the sun rises every morning and I can count on it. Can you imagine a world without order?
  • Peace. God’s peace is like a bedrock. You can plant your feet and not be moved.
  • Quiet. We weren’t made for constant noise and busyness. Sometimes we do our best growing in quietness.
  • Righteousness. Through Jesus Christ, I am clothed with spotless righteousness. Is that not an awesome, breath-taking truth?
  • Scripture. We’re lost without it.
  • Truth. In a world where people can’t tell good and bad apart anymore, I’m thankful Truth is something beyond mere human wisdom.
  • United States of America. Despite her flaws, I love this country dearly, and I’m grateful I was born here.
  • Variety. Sameness in people and things would actually be easier. But variety is more fun.
  • Written words. The beauty and power and creativity in written language never cease to fascinate me. Besides, it’s a gift God gave to only one of His creations—mankind.
  • Xmas. That is, CHRISTMAS! My absolute favorite time of the year. I’m so thankful Jesus came to redeem us, and I love celebrating it with music and lights and food and gifts. The season officially begins in our house tonight!
  • Yahweh. The Lord GOD, Creator of the heavens and the earth, who is yet mindful of me. I could never thank Him enough for all His goodness.
  • Zo-ay. (Sorry, had to borrow from Greek here.) Zo-ay is life. I am so grateful for this life God has given me. It’s a little bit crazy, but it’s good.

In view of this extensive list of my blessings, feel free to remind me of it if I get to whining anytime soon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Miss Darcy

I Will Praise Thee, Lord

(I wrote this a few years ago, but some of it is convicting me anew these days.)

I will praise Thee, LORD, for Thy goodness to me.
My cup cannot contain the joy Thou givest.
From the chains of sin Thou hast redeemed me;
Thou hast set me free to rejoice.
Thou hast ransomed me from the kingdom of darkness
And brought me to dwell in Thy light. 

With infinite wisdom Thou leadest me,
And with love Thou directest my paths.
Thy love for me is deeper than the ocean,
Demanding my devotion with its all-consuming flame. 

O LORD, my heart is Thy temple.
And what is a temple for?
A place to burn sacrifices my heart shall be.
My desires, my needs, my weakness, my strength,
All shall burn on the altar for Thee. 

So may my life bring glory to Thee
Through Thine own unfailing grace.
Thy mercy extendeth beyond my vision;
Thy peace hath given me rest.
With all my soul I praise Thee.

-Miss Darcy

Moving Out

Our house is a disaster. Because this weekend is the big move. Everything into boxes to be stored until we close on our new house near the end of February. Good-bye to Rocket City. Hello to suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee.

Yes, I’m excited about it now. Moving has a certain element of fun. It’s packing that is no fun at all. I’m looking forward to making home in this new place God has called us to.

Meantime, we’ll be staying at a cabin in the middle of Nowhere, Tennessee. Very pretty location.

And… No internet access at this cabin. I’m actually thrilled about that. I have a real love-hate relationship with computers, and I think it will be grand fun to ignore e-mail and social media for a month. It’s gonna be good for my head. (And if I surprise myself and get desperate, I can always scare up a coffee shop with WiFi, I suppose.)

I’m planning days of reading books (my suitcase is heavily laden with research books and novels), writing and editing my own stories (word processors work without internet), working on some crafts I’ve meant to do for a long time (time to use up some scrap fabric), washing dishes (therapeutic for me), and playing games with my family.

And maybe, just maybe, some sweet time with Jesus.

See you again in March!

-Miss Darcy

Sold Out

I think I’m going to ramble today. I have a lot to catch up on. Like why I haven’t written a post in nearly two months.

Long story.

Remember when I wrote about moving last summer? (Wow. Hard to believe that was at the end of August.)

We didn’t move. Turned out that job wasn’t a good fit for Daddy, so he resigned after four weeks.

We still knew it was unlikely Dad would get a job here in Huntsville. The town has changed since we lived here several years ago. So we didn’t unpack.

Which turned out to be a wise decision. Dad got a new job, this time on the south side of Nashville, Tennessee. That was November. We finally got our house on the market December 22nd. We had a contract on the 31st.

So now, finally, we’re set to move. The house closes the last day of January. We’ve picked out a new-to-us house in Tennessee. I’m surrounded by boxes and things that need to go in boxes as I write.

That’s the “Reader’s Digest Condensed Version.” Here’s the inside story.

When Dad quit that first job in Tennessee, we had half the house packed. My mind was totally geared for a move.

Then our takeoff was aborted. After we were about fifty feet in the air. The difficulty of the mental shift kinda surprised me. Yesterday we were moving, today we’re not. Okay. Wow. Readjust. We can do this.

While we waited to see what God would do next, I felt like life was sort of on hold. A lot of my things were packed. Furniture was in storage. I don’t want to sound melodramatic. It just felt weird.

Then Daddy got the new job. He was away all week; came home on the weekends. We were trying to ready the house for the market. We had to paint over our beautiful colors with a fashionable, dull, soft gray.

Christmas felt strange with our house only partly decorated and Daddy gone in the weeks before the actual day. I didn’t even blog about the Christmas carols I wanted to share.

It was one of those waiting seasons, ya know? A test, so to speak. And I flunked it.

Somewhere along the line, I let my daily Bible reading slip. I still read almost every day, but not with the same focus, the same investment, as usual. And I noticed the problem, but couldn’t find the motivation to change it.

I quit praying much.

Confession: I still don’t have this prayer thing down. Far from it. You may have noticed I write about reading and studying the Bible on here, but not so much about prayer. That’s because I wouldn’t know what I was talking about. That is, I know how to do it. I just don’t have the confidence that comes from experience. I’ve had spells of consistency, but somehow I don’t make time for it regularly. Problem? Yes. Ouch.

I tried to have joy in the Lord, and I did. I tried to be cheerful, and I was. I wasn’t totally miserable. I just wasn’t flourishing.

And by now, I should know better. Been a Christian for sixteen years. Should have the fundamentals ingrained so I can focus on achieving new heights.

Why do I have to walk the same roads I’ve walked a dozen times before? Fight the same fights? How do I get cold toward Jesus? He died for me!

This morning I was on my knees repenting of half-hearted devotion to Jesus. I’m pretty sure I did that sometime last year. And the year before that. Probably the year before that. It’s getting tiresome, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing it again sometime. Ach!

I know part of my problem now is stress. I’m in a coping mode, and things aren’t going to be so vibrant in that case.

Part of the problem is I wrote hardly anything throughout December. That was caused by the stress, but it became a vicious circle because writing is good for my mental health. And I wasn’t making time for it.

Part of the problem is my health. I haven’t cared for my body–way too much sugar, not enough exercise. With my family’s history, I shouldn’t be playing games.

But I fear part of the problem is laziness. (I can’t believe I just said that.) Guess I never outgrew my childhood besetting sin.

Probably, this is more than you cared to know. I’m not real fond of spill-your-guts blog posts because they tend to sound depressing. Sometimes I feel like, in the name of honesty, we share too much. Too much of us, not enough of Jesus.

But I am trying to be honest. They say it’s good for you. And I don’t indulge much, so I hope you’ll forgive me.

Around the beginning of the year, friends were talking about a word for the year. Something inspiring or convicting. Something either you feel is right to choose, or even something God specifically gives you. I’ve never done that.

But this year I have a phrase. Can’t say God spoke to me audibly, but it fits what I’m going through right now.

Sold Out.

Sold out to Jesus, of course. Not to this world’s pleasures. Not to life’s trials. Not to my own whims. But to Jesus.

Do I know exactly what that looks like? Obviously not completely. But I reckon Jesus can show me if I’m willing to take the instruction. Am I scared? Yes, actually, although it’s silly because the best life possible is one surrendered to its Creator. I want to keep my eyes on the eternal Prize.

The New Year is a good time to try again at something you’ve failed before. Thank the Lord His grace is sufficient, and that He perfects His strength in our weakness. I’ve got plenty of weakness.

And I don’t want to end on a depressing note. Because I believe with all my heart that we can have victory in Jesus Christ. I’ve seen it in others, and I’ve experienced it myself.

I want to find it again. And I will, not because of my own striving, but because Jesus is faithful.

I think I’ll be praying for a lot of grace and strength this year. 🙂

-Miss Darcy

I Am Thankful, 2017

I’m gonna try to keep this short and sweet. (Here’s where you roll your eyes at the idea of me writing anything short.)

In semi-random order, I am thankful for…

  • …the stunning truth that the Creator of the galaxies considers me someone worth dying for.
  • …my priceless relationships with friends and family. I may be an introvert and a writer, but friends that exist only on paper and in imagination don’t really compare to friends who breathe the same air I do.
  • …grace. From God, from my family, from random strangers. I make mistakes. I need grace.
  • …the necessities: food and clothing. I also have a warm home, hot water, a car, modern conveniences, technology, and a host of other things. Maybe if I didn’t have these I could justify my complaining. As it is, I have no reason to complain.
  • …language, written and spoken. Communication through language is an awesome gift from God that I usually take for granted. And it would leave a huge hole if it suddenly disappeared.
  • …the Bible. I don’t know how I’d live without this Book. And it’s in my mother tongue. Invaluable.
  • …that I can write. Even if no one else reads it, writing is a deep source of joy to me.
  • …beauty in nature. God didn’t have to make the world pretty. But, oh, didn’t He?
  • …rest. Sometimes I need it desperately, and it is sweet.
  • …music. Music affects the soul in a way words can’t. Which makes it far more powerful than we think.
  • …health. So many don’t have it, and I’ll enjoy it as long as it’s mine.

Under three hundred words. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Miss Darcy

Moving … Again

From all appearances, my family is going to move. Again. From Huntsville, AL, to a rural area of Tennessee. Of course, the Lord could work a miracle and we wouldn’t have to. But Dad’s taken a new job, and we’re going.

See, we’ve moved a lot over the years. I have to stop and count on my fingers how many places I’ve lived in … eight. Maybe not so very many, but we’re not a military family. Oh, and did I ever mention that one of the houses we lived in had to be remodeled and we lived in four different places during that year? Well, that’s a long story for another time.

When we moved to Huntsville a year and a half ago, we said, “This is it. Last move. We’re staying here for always.”

Even at the time I had a dry little voice laughing in the back of my head. Sure, sure, you won’t move again. You won’t leave this house until you get married. Right.

So when I first learned there was a real possibility we’d move again, my immediate reaction was to laugh. It was so ironic.

Then I started pouting. I didn’t want to leave our beautiful house, in a beautiful neighborhood, in the ideal location, outside my favorite city (which is saying a lot because I don’t care for cities).

I didn’t want to leave the church we’ve only attended for a little over a year. I love the people; I wanted that to be my church for, well, forever.

I didn’t want to move away from some of my dearest friends. I wanted us to raise families together, let our kids play together.

But the Lord had other plans.

If the Lord wants me to move to Tennessee, then there’s no way in the world I want to do anything else. I want to go where He wants me.

And I don’t want to dig in my heels and make Him drag me. I don’t want to be whining and complaining as if I think He made a mistake. As if I think His gifts aren’t good.

Good things have always happened when we move.

God lets us meet wonderful new people and experience beautiful places. It’s not like He’s even called us to a particularly difficult place. Sure, we’re moving to a new state, but we’re still in the same affluent country. I’m grateful that God has given me gladness about our move.

I’m glad to move to Tennessee.

Am I glad to leave all the people I love in Alabama?

Um, no.

I’m happy to go, but sad to leave. (Don’t look at me like that. It is possible to feel both things at the same time. Mom says the word for such a feeling is ambivalence.)

I’m not saying I won’t cry when we leave. I’m not saying I won’t miss my home and friends dreadfully. I’m not saying I won’t have some difficulty settling into my new home, especially when it comes to finding a new church.

But God is good to me. Has always been good to me. (Even if I had nothing in this world, He would still be good to me because He sent Jesus. But I digress.)

Maybe this move is a gift straight from Him. In which case, it sounds pretty bad to say, “Lord, I don’t want this gift. It wasn’t on my wish list.”

With all my heart, I want to be willing to do whatever He wants.

It might not be easy. But with God it’s never impossible.

-Miss Darcy