Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Coffee Shop Reflections At Year's End

Well, it's official.

I am not as young as I used to be.

It's after 10 pm and I have just returned home from Starbucks. I met college student there who had been a student in my Sunday School class just a few years back.

The caffeinated effects of my Gingerbread Latte have not yet worn off and I find myself pretty wide awake and reflecting on my conversation with this bright young lady.

She is literally half my age -yet even as she is coming to terms with her adulthood, I found that we have lots in common.

As we caught up on each other's lives we found we kept coming back to a few themes in our discussion as it related to both of us:

- We know that life happens in phases.
- We know that God is teaching us how to both give and receive His grace.
- We know that we are on a journey where our final destination is worth all the work along way.

No, I am no longer 20 and that life phase has long since passed. But I know I am intentionally in the life phase I am in now. God has placed me here, in this time at the place.

God IS actively teaching me to give His grace to others and patiently showing me how to receive it from Him as I reflect on my own thoughts, words and deeds.

It is all a part of this journey He is taking me on. I'm so glad He didn't just point the way out to me and say, "Good Luck!," but that He is my ever-present guide and support all along the trek.

Yes, the way is narrow and hard and not-at-all how I would plot it out, but I KNOW that He wastes nothing and He will be glorified in every high and every low along the path.

As my friend returns to finish her junior year in a few weeks and I resume my "normal" the first of next week, it will be a new year. 2016 will have begun whether either of us was ready for it or not.

I may not be accustomed to late nights in coffee shops or, at my age, be able to handle that much caffeine past 7 pm. Despite all that my younger friend and I will say goodbye to 2015 certain that our God holds not only our futures, but us in His very capable hands.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Is NOT Over!

My Christmas trees are still up. My decorations are still out. My clothes are still feeling tighter as I continue to munch on the pile of yummy-ness on the counter.

Traditionally, all the red and green Rubbermaid tubs are carted in from the garage on January 1 or 2 and I begin the task of packing up the trees, the nativity scenes and the stockings. I intentionally leave quite a few of my snowman friends out through the winter, but for the most part, when the chore is done, we are left with a clean slate of a house.

The furniture will be back where it "goes" and the mantle will look a little bare without the garland and lights. My daughters' rooms will be neatly organized and all the new toys will have been put into their places. The Vinson house will be ready to welcome a new year.

Honestly, I am not in any rush to pack away "Christmas." The month of December was as usual and as expected, entirely too busy. I feel like I am just now able to appreciate and enjoy the sparkling lights.

Not just as a minister's wife, but as a mother of three and a daughter with parents living out-of-state, December is daunting. As a Christian, I pray that the Advent season would be a spiritual time of reflection and awe, taking in the wonder that is the incarnation - yet between parties and programs, gifts and goodies, packing and packages, it is hard to stop and remember "the reason for the season."

Yet, God was so good to me. When I did turn my reflections upon Him, He allowed me to "Behold" different aspects of the Christmas narrative. "Behold" was the title of our senior pastor's advent sermon series. Honestly, through his sermons and my own readings, I lost count how many times the Bible tells us to "behold" different truths of how the Word became man to dwell among us.

Each time I came across the word "behold" this advent season, I circled it in my Bible and intentionally stopped to "behold," or to study intently, whatever came next - for instance,  that an angel would appear to virgin or in a dream to a young carpenter.

I tried to look at these passages with the same awe and wonder that a brand new daddy, holding his son or daughter for the first time, studies that infant's features with intense amazement. And God was faithful. He kept His word. When I looked for Him, He revealed Himself to me and Christmas 2015 was a time of spiritual depth and reflection for me.

These truths and lessons will stay with me long after I finish returning the red and green crates to their home in the attic. I won't pack these aspects of Christmas away. These things I will continue to ponder in my heart as Mary did.

Sister, if you have had a crazy December and not taken the time to "behold" Him. It isn't too late. Christmas is never really ever over for the Christian. The Incarnate God has taken up residence in us through the form of the Holy Spirit. We are Emmanuel, God with Us, to the world around us.

Stop and "Behold" Him, born the King of Angels. You can pack up the rest of your Christmas later. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015


All week I begged the Lord to give me an Ah-Ha moment that would reveal to me something incredible that would help me grasp the true meaning of Christmas.  You see, I find myself getting frustrated with the ‘world’, who rejects my Jesus yet wants to celebrate “Christmas”…or more commonly known these days as “the holidays”.  Why celebrate a holiday that commemorates Someone you don’t believe in?  Stop it!  It’s OUR holiday and you have hijacked it and made it your holiday!!

Yep, great attitude, huh?  Then, I am put in my proverbial place as I am oh, so gently reminded that I am the one that is celebrating Christmas just like the world does!!  I decorate the house, I buy the gifts, I want gifts, I cook and bake and (used to) send out Christmas cards.  I go to parties and eat too much and drive around and look at light covered lawns and roofs.  I sing the songs and cry through the cheesy movies.  As it turns out, my Christmas looks a whole lot like the world’s. 

Sure, I know the real reason.  I know it is because my God left heaven and became like me so that I could become like Him in character and will (among other things).  I have lots of nativity scenes around the house to remind me of the real meaning.  We sing carols about Jesus, we didn’t teach our children that Santa Claus was real, we read the Christmas story before we open gifts, and, for goodness sakes, we go to Christmas Eve services at church and give to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering!!! 

But…for some reason, I felt like none of that was enough.  I still felt like I was missing something.  That surely there was more.  That God wanted me to see more.  Know more. Experience more.  Feel more.  Yet nothing came.

After our children and grandchildren had blessed our home for a week, and after everything was picked up, sheets and towels washed, leaves removed from the table to make it smaller, I kept waiting to hear from God.  “Speak to me, Lord”, I cried over and over.  What do You want me to know, feel, hear, experience that will knock my socks off?  What is it???? 


It wasn’t until after I looked at the picture I took below of our table with dishes cleared, leaves removed, food vacuumed from the floor, people gone, that I saw it.  At first I was a little sad.  Everyone was gone, the table looked so empty and small.  Then I was encouraged by the sunshine pouring in from outside.  Then, for some reason, I looked at the blue chest and zoomed in on it.  Look at the zoomed in picture below of the nativity scene that one of our small children set up.  Look at the picture to the right of the scene…PEACE.


What Jesus wanted me to know is Peace.  He brings Peace.  He is Peace.  In the midst of whatever we go through His presence in us is Peace.  I wanted something loud and profound and new.  He wanted to remind me He is Peace.  And I needed it…and didn’t know it.  Sometimes I want something new and profound and sometimes He reminds me of what I forget!

I will now do what the shepherds did…they ‘went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen…’.  Tomorrow I will go to church and share with the ‘flock’ that the Lord has entrusted to me in my Sunday school class and ‘glorify and praise God’!!  And rest in His Peace.

What have you forgotten that you need to be reminded of?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Treasure

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  Yes, you can hear me singing “Jingle Bells” or “Silent Night” in July.  I have actually had people stop, stare and then laugh at me for my July serenades.  I love the twinkling lights, colorful decorations, and the smell of Christmas cookies fresh out of the oven.  I love the once a year Christmas peanut butter/ chocolate fudge.   I just adore Christmas!

However, I recently had a thought.  What do I treasure about Christmas?

The Bible says that when the news was shared of Jesus’ birth Mary “treasured up” all the events and pondered them in her heart.  Of course, she knew her baby was God’s son, The Messiah.  However, I wonder if she suddenly realized at his birth what was ahead for the sweet little Jesus boy.  Maybe the whole host of heaven singing, the shepherds kneeling at the manger, and the wise men bringing gifts fully opened her eyes to what miracle lay before her.

Thinking about Christmas, I realized there are a few things I treasure in my heart-

*Squeals of joy from my now three year old grandson opening a gift. (Not so long ago, I loved hearing my now grown sons shouting as they opened their gifts).

*Carols of Christmas sung at the Christmas Eve service

*Visits from family and friends

*Christmas past reflections and remembering great times with my grandparents and my parents during this special time of year

*But most importantly, I treasure a baby born in a dirty manger who would later die on a cross for my sins.  I treasure the man Jesus Christ who defeated the grave.  I treasure the King of Kings who will one day take me to my eternal home.

Girlfriends, what is your Christmas treasure?

Merry Christmas sweet girlfriends!  I pray Jesus fills your home with love and laughter during this special season.

Monday, December 14, 2015

“The Christmas rush is on again! It’s murder on the feet!  The minutes zip! The hours fly! We’re dying to complete this shopping! . . .Shopping!  Shopping!  Panic! Shopping!  Frantic! Shopping!”  The Christmas Post by Deborah Craig-Claar and Robert Sterling.

Yes dear sisters, the Christmas rush in on again.  There are parties to attend, houses to decorate, food to prepare, and gifts to buy.  Then if you are in a church at does a big Christmas musical production, you have extra rehearsals packed into each week until the performance. Let’s face it; there is not enough time in the day to complete all the “Christmas” stuff we have to do!

We panic and become frantic.  We lose our tempers, become easily frustrated with our children and husbands, and we are just not pleasant to be around.  When it comes to the parties my husband and I must attend, I stress about what I need to wear-jeans or dress pants.  Ugg!

Then there are the last minute details.  Did you cook enough food?  Did you purchase the equal amount of toys for each child?  You check your “to do” list a thousand times.  Christmas Eve arrives and you can settle back for a quick rest.  Surprise!  At 9:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, you receive a phone call stating that your cousin and his/her family you haven’t seen in ten years will be coming for Christmas dinner too.  You use your most pleasant voice to assure the caller that it will be no problem to add four more guests at the dinner table.  Once you hang up the phone you go into complete “I don’t know what we are going to do” mode.  There is not enough food!  There are no gifts under the tree for the last minute guests!  What is a person to do!

Alas girlfriends, as much as we try to have everything ready for the holiday season, something is always going to arise that is unexpected.  The turkey can burn.  You forget to buy a gift for Great Aunt Mildred.  You are past exhausted from parties and practices.  The list can go on and on.

Why not stop and breathe?  Christmas is not about frantically rushing around in a panic.  It is about our Savior Jesus Christ.  Why not share the Greatest Gift of all with your family and friends this holiday season?  Jesus.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Have a Blessed Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

My sisters, as we approach Christmas 2015 I would like to wish each of you a very Blessed Christmas, and may the Lord allow this to be the very best Christmas that you have ever had. As I mentioned in my earlier blog this week, reflect on our Savior, for Jesus Christ is the Greatest Gift that we all will ever know!

Also, if the Lord wills, the next time I blog it will be a brand new year, 2016, so I would like to wish you all a very Wonderful New Year! May the upcoming year be the best year that you have ever had!

To God be the Glory for all that He has done, AND all that He will continue to do!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Greatest Gift

Wow, the Christmas season is upon us again! It seems that 2015 was such a blur!

My sisters, I hope that this time of year does not find you stressed, frazzled, anxious, or just plain worn out by all that seems to accompany this festive season. Many of us have kicked into high gear when it comes to decorating, party planning, and shopping for gifts. Also, I have a confession to make, well two confessions. I have not finished decorating my house….and that’s okay. Also, believe it or not, I have not even bought the first gift…..and that’s okay too!

I love buying gifts for others, and I’ll get around to it before Christmas Day arrives, but this year I am determined to have a different mindset, a different perspective on the Greatest Gift that the world has ever known.

His name is JESUS!

A wonderful way to get past all the frenzy that comes with this holiday time is to reflect on our Savior, and who He is and what He means to you. This time of year we see nativity scenes depicting Christ at His first incarnation as the little Baby sleeping in a manger, with His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, gazing in awe at their Unique Son. Yet, think about all that happened at His first coming…..

Think about how He humbled Himself, to be found in appearance as a man so He could identify with those whom He came to save.

Think about how He lived a perfect life, free from all sin, so He could be the perfect sacrifice for sinners like you and me.

Think about how He gave up all the glories of heaven so He could provide THE ONLY WAY for us to live with Him in heaven for all eternity.

Think about how He hung on the cross, separated from the Father and having the weight of the sins of the world placed on Him, to secure salvation for all who would believe in Him.

Think about His glorious resurrection, and the fact that He is coming back again, King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

This Christmas, stop and meditate on who our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ truly is. Don’t worry if you haven’t done all that you think you NEED to do this season……just relax and reflect. Let us appreciate the fact that we have a Mighty Savior, and we belong to Him! Now that’s something to celebrate!

I’ll eventually purchase my gifts, but I also plan to reflect on the Greatest Gift that I have ever received…..


Friday, December 4, 2015


Okay.....this is Confession 101.  My attempt to keep the holly jolly Christmas Spirit.....flew out the window last night.  

Years ago when I was still living at home, my Aunt crocheted me and my brother a Christmas Stocking.  When Roger and I got married, she Crocheted him one.  Then when my two children were born, she crocheted them one.

It's our family tradition.

My daughter picked up where my aunt left off when God called her home to be with him.   She crocheted her husband a stocking for my house and then crocheted our daughter-in-law a stocking for my house too.

The year our grandson was born, she crocheted me a stocking for him.  Last year, before Christmas, she was VERY pregnant and did not get around to crocheting our grandaughter a stocking; we borrowed an old crocheted one that she had.  

Now comes the frustration.  Several months ago, I reminded my daughter that she still had to crochet her daughter a stocking.  She said, "Remember, mom....I finished it last year after Christmas and gave it to you?"

No....I did not remember.  I just hoped and prayed that it got put in the bin in the attic with the other stockings.  TONIGHT....we decided to get out our Christmas tree and decorations.  In the stocking bin, were seven stockings........but the last stocking was missing.

I have torn my house apart trying to find it.  NO STOCKING.  It would help if I could REMEMBER.

My husband says he kind of remembers her making it but does not remember what we did with it if she gave it to us.

I am soooo frustrated.............I WANT THE STOCKING.  

FINALLY.....I slowed down enough to pray and ask for God's help.  I still have not found the missing stocking.....but my frustration level has decreased

I will continue to search..............hopefully we will find it before Christmas.  If not, I may have to borrow the old one again.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Holiday Spirit

Can you believe that Christmas is only 22 days away?  Where did the time go?

It always helps me to get into the Holiday Spirit after we have our "Hanging of the Greens" program at church.  Also, I teach the preschoolers at church, so the first week of December, we begin our lessons on "Christmas".

It warms my heart to hear my little kids at church tell me what Christmas means to them.
  • Aubrie said, "It's a special time to spend with family."
  • Stephen said, "It's Jesus' Birthday."
  • Henley said, "We celebrate the birth of Jesus."
  • Julian said, "We get to eat food."
  • Charly said, "We get lots of presents."
  • Brielle said, "We get a tree and lots of lights."
And....the list went on......  But, I especially loved that at a tender young age,  they are already understanding the true meaning of Christmas.  In fact, I think they understand it better than the majority of the adults.

Let us all stop and think about the real Reason for the Season.....and look at it from a child's point of view.....which is so innocent and without baggage.  Let's help spread the Holiday Spirit!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and God Bless You,
From the Brittons.....Roger & Kathy

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Blessings.....when least expected

The last time I blogged I told you about our unexpected friend.....the one we met at Cracker Barrel......the husband is waiting for a heart transplant, etc.

Well......God has blessed us again.

A couple of weeks ago, we spent the weekend with some dear pastor friends in Pigeon Forge where we attended the Jewelry Show at the Convention Center in Gatlinburg.  We split up to get more shopping in, so Roger and I were wondering around and decided to have a wreath made for the outside of our house.  We purchased the necessary items and got in line to have the wreath made.

While waiting for our turn.....with many folks around....everyone begin talking.  Found out the venders  were from Mississippi;  found out one of the ladies in line was from Hixson and her husband was from Dayton and discovered that one of the ladies knew where our church was and was good friends of some former members that had since moved away.  We were asked how long we had been at our church.  I spoke up and said, "The first week of January, he will have been their pastor for 19 years."

One of the venders; a sweet young lady, spoke up and asked if she heard us right......was he a pastor?  Then she asked if she could share her story.  Two months previous, her daughter had had a baby boy at 6 month term.  He weighed barely 2 lbs. and was 13 inches long.  He was perfect, but soon developed a disease that preemies get that attacks the intestines.  Baby Grayson was transported from one hospital to another and finally doctors said his only hope was surgery to removed the diseased intestines.

After surgery, the doctor came out and said for him to survive, he needed about 18 inches of go good intestines.  He only had about 7 inches left so they needed to prepare to say their good-byes.

The family went in and fell on their knees praying for Baby Grayson.  The doctor, who was a Christian also, was very touched and went into his office and also fell on his knees and began to pray for Baby Grayson.  Two hours later, the doctor came back in and said, "Guess what?  The seven inches of intestines are working.  God answered our prayers." 

At two months old, he was still in ICU, but sucking from a bottle.  He had had a colostomy to allow his intestines time to heal and weighed 4 lbs.  PRAISE THE LORD.

Grandma asked us if we and our church would pray for Baby Grayson.  We exchanged Facebook info so we could keep in touch. 

Before we left, Roger walked over to "Grandma" and asked if it would be okay to pray with her right then.  She immediately dropped her wreath supplies and grabbed our hands.  Roger began to pray.  He was crying.  I was crying and Grandma was crying.

When he finished the prayer.........there were about twenty people standing around that was listening and not a dry eye in the crowd.  As we were leaving, several dear folks thanked Roger for taking the time to pray a such an unusual public place.

What a blessing to share that moment with them......and in the process we have gained another friend to keep up with on Facebook.

Don't ever miss the opportunity for a blessing.....when you least expect it.

Baby Grayson is holding his own, but please join us in praying for this precious little miracle.  God has big plans for this little fellow.