Slow Spin ( by Carley Evans )

When I was a little girl, my days seemed to drift into a slow spin, seemingly lasting close to forever. I remember my mother complaining that she didn’t have enough time in a day to get everything done she needed to do. Huh? She laughed at me, and said, “You just wait and see.” Sure enough, time rushes by. The days still seem long enough, but the years fly by in a whirling slew of events I recall but not in proper sequence or time location. Big events, like the year my family learned to ski in Colorado, are easy to locate along the time continuum, but others are not.

Christmases blur together, but one or two stand out like huge statues of chocolate and eggnog deliciousness. My eighth year of life — Santa Claus gave me a bicycle and a chemistry set. My fourteenth year, he gave me a record player and a Monkees album.

Before you protest, I believe in Santa Claus and I love the Monkees. You could argue my choice of the Monkees is lame, since the Beatles are obviously more talented musicians. But, I do not accept the argument that Santa Claus “will take you to hell” as I observed related in a disgusting, idiotic online video the other day. And I truly feel sorry for the children I saw in that same video, children who have learned at such a young age to hate an ideal they do not and now never will understand.

Saint Nicolas is an ideal figure. He is not Jesus Christ. I do not worship him. But I admire the bishop who began the tradition of giving gifts on Christmas Eve to honor the Christ Child and to bring some much needed joy to poor children.

For me, several Christmases of my own and for my children are memorable milestones in a blur of time. I remember my son’s first Christmas: as I carried him into the living room of my parents’ home, his eyes widened when he saw the small pile of toys on the floor. He knew these were gifts for him; and he was happy. He was only twelve months old, but he knew this mark in time.

Father God, thank You for Your many gifts. May we always be grateful. In Jesus’ Name, amen.


A Winter Evening ( by Carley Evans )

I love winter.

Winter is wonderful primarily because of the excuse to start a fire in the fireplace any time the temperature outside drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As a matter of fact, the ideal temperature for a fire in the house is around 45 degrees; that way less cold air rushes into the room when I open the glass fire screen to place kindling and logs. The comfort of a fire is hard to fully grasp, but its peacefulness is palpable — yes, warmth but also quiet calm. I love to sit, watch the flames, and relax.

Add a glass of red wine and several small pieces of dark chocolate, and a winter evening is complete.

Thank You, Creator God, for the four seasons — for winter, spring, summer, fall. Thank You that each time of the year brings special moments of great joy. I, for one, am so happy to celebrate Your Son’s birth at this particular time of the year — a time of comforting fire, delicious dark chocolate, and the fruit of the vine. Your winter is lovely, dearest Lord. Thank You for coming to earth for me. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Put Away the Magnifying Glass ( by Carley Evans )

Jesus speaks of not judging by the appearance of an action, calling us to judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24) Probably the easiest way to do this is to leave room for God’s judgment. After all, He knows the person’s heart; we don’t. Granted Jesus says we can know the person by observing the actions of that person. Still, misinterpreting the outward appearance of an action is common for flawed people. We see only one part of an event, and immediately come to a conclusion — most of the time from that minimum amount of information. Only God sees the entire event, and the motivations behind it. I think that’s why Jesus encourages us not to judge the other. If we desire the benefit of the doubt, we must extend that same courtesy. So, I suggest we put away our magnifying glass  — with that glass, we see the outward flaw we’re looking for, but we are as likely to miss the goodness within.


Reflections on Cliches ( by Carley Evans )

Just finished a note for Grace Partakers. When I read it, even though I’d gone ahead and published it, I frankly thought, ‘how trite, cliche.’ Then, I pondered why truths often come off as trite or cliche. Perhaps we’ve heard these truths so many times, they begin to seem ordinary, over-used, bland expressions. (Of course, it’s just as likely my writing style is cliche – but let’s not go there right now.)

The truth that Jesus carries our burdens, and that we both like that He does and resist Him at the same time, is not unimportant or over-stated. Jesus repeatedly tells us He is living water, He is the bread of life, He is the Light of the world, He is come to give us rest from our workload, our struggle, our burdens.

That we resist allowing Him to be these for us is evident as well. Lot’s wife allows God to rescue her from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah then looks back. Her very life is forfeit; there is no one to stand between her and the destruction for which she apparently longs. That we — human beings, that is — are self-destructive is evident in our very existence — drinking to excess, sleeping with anyone and everyone available, screaming at drivers in other cars, stealing under gunpoint, murdering our own children. The et cetera is a long list of infractions against self and others.

Victory in Jesus is simple — allow Him to pick you up. Then, stop struggling. He is the Light; He is Living Water, He is the Bread of Life. He gives you rest. He sets you free.

Under the Stairs ( by Carley Evans )

Living in a home with unbelievers is not necessarily as bad as living in the cupboard under the stairs is for Harry Potter. Unbelievers don’t always treat you with contempt or take advantage of your differences like Potter’s aunt and uncle and cousin do to him. Much depends on your family’s own upbringing. For example my parents were raised in Christian homes; my mother even attended Bob Jones University back in the days when the school was openly hostile to both unbelievers and Blacks. My father was raised Methodist while my mother was Southern Baptist. As I grew up, I got a bit of both. God seems to have pressed His finger on my heart from a young age. I remember being aware of His presence early in life.

Under the stairs I find a safe place to read His Word so I might understand Him better. He talks so clearly in His Word, and so indistinctly in places of worship, in shopping malls, in movie theaters, in people. For me, it’s like the difference between looking at the sun and looking at the shadows the sun forms. The shadows do, but I prefer the direct light.

I take my children to a Christmas eve service. We are almost horrified at the opening song. For me, the Lord confirms again this is not a place of worship as much as a social gathering place for Christians. I do not say it is as bad as being stuck under the stairs in a spiritually dark home, but it is not the same as a true place of worship — for me, anyway. The second song is not much better. Eventually, the music shifts to more traditional hymns reflective of Christ’s birth. But the first two leave a sour taste in the mouth of especially my daughter. I am hurt. For some reason, we are here. But I know not why.

I feel very much like I am under the stairs. At least my Bible is with me.

The Kingdom is Near ( by Carley Evans )

John the Baptist preaches in the Desert of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2, NIV) He warns the Pharisees to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8) “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10)

Paul writes,

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Jesus says,

“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain — first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

Sovereign Lord, thank You for producing the fruits of Your Holy Spirit through us. Ready us for Your coming harvest. Let us be the full kernel of grain and not the dead root of a barren tree. In Jesus’ Name, amen.