Joyce Suttin is a retired teacher, writer, and frequent contributor to Activated magazine. She lives in San Antonio Texas with her husband and has an on-line ministry excerpting, editing, and writing inspirational material. Check out her blog.
When I was a little child, Jesus was like Santa Claus to me. I knew He could see if I was naughty or nice. If I wanted something, I could ask Him for it and be really good in hopes of receiving it. Like my classroom and Sunday school teachers, He was someone to listen to and obey.
When I was older, I realized He was a Friend. I knew what I needed most of all was a friend who could help me navigate my young life. He became my Savior when I understood my need for forgiveness and asked Him to come into my heart.
Grandpa first introduced me to the ice house on his dairy farm when I was just a tot. After the cows were milked and the raw milk put into sterilized bottles in the creamery, the bottles were submerged in ice water in the ice house. There was no refrigeration there in 1952, just good insulation and a thick door to keep the heat out. The bottles of milk were kept fresh in ice water in a large metal tub. Then, very early each morning, the wooden crates of glass bottles were put into the milk truck with big chunks of ice on top and delivered to the surrounding households. Fresh milk daily.
I didn’t realize how busy I was until I stopped. I didn’t really think about how important it was for me to go places and be around people until I couldn’t. I never really thought I was stressing myself with activities until, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, there were no more activities, and I had to stay home.
As Christmas rolled around again this year, I began to wonder why God sent Jesus to earth as a little baby in Bethlehem. We have told and retold the story, and I have practically memorized Luke 2. There’s Mary riding on the donkey, Joseph frantically looking for an inn, the shepherds seeing angels in the field, and wise men from the East following a star.
I looked at the mirrored wall at the gym as I moved through the tai chi motions and had the most surprising thought. I never knew I was so beautiful.
Let me explain.
Recently, I was reviewing my past, thinking about choices I made, and I began to blame others for how some things had turned out. I blamed my parents for the decisions they made that affected my childhood. I blamed my school for the insecurities I felt, and how I never felt I was perfect enough to succeed in various areas. I blamed my church for attitudes I had about God that affected my relationship with Him.
It had been a rough few months in the spring of 1972. I desperately wanted a baby, a little one to hold in my arms, to call my own. Twice I had miscarried, and I held these disappointments up before God, shaking them in His face and saying, See what You did when I trusted You to answer my prayer? I just couldn’t move on.
Today I saw a leaf suspended in the air, dancing in the wind and twirling, but not falling. I stopped and watched it for a moment, amazed and a bit confused, until I looked closely and saw a tiny, nearly invisible thread of a spider’s web that attached the leaf to the branch above. Then it all made sense and I could walk on, realizing that it was an amazing feat of nature that the tiny wisp of a thread could support a leaf while the wind wildly spun it around.
I recently saw a ketchup ad for a famous brand that showed ketchup pouring out of a bottle very slowly, accompanied by the song “At Last.” It reminded me of being a child and waiting for ketchup to pour out on my hamburger agonizingly slowly.
I met my friend Laura when I was 13 years old, when a neighbor brought her to our house. We exchanged home phone numbers and very quickly became best friends. Having a best friend was a new experience for me. I was thrilled that someone wanted to be my friend—not a family friend or my older sisters’ friend or somebody I knew from church or school, but someone I could call and talk with and spend time with on the weekends.