Christmas is Temporary

From 2014:

Christmas is fleeting. All year long, we wait in anticipation of the holidays and then we complain the whole time. It’s too crowded, cold, busy, expensive, gluttonous, hurried. I didn’t get what I wanted. I gave everyone a present and now I’m broke and alone.

The spirit. The spirit of the holidays. The joy of Christmas. What is it? Is it lights? Is it cocoa? Is it candy, presents, cookies? Is it the promise and hope of magic? But it never comes. We wait all year and it never comes. And then the lights fade and the tinsel is taken down.

Christmas is temporary.

But it’s not. What is it we are waiting for? What is it that we miss every year and chase after time and again? It’s Christ. That’s what we are really looking for and we’re looking in the wrong places. Is it in this tin of cookies? Is it in this neatly-wrapped box? Is it at the bottom of my second cup of cocoa? Is it at my 2nd, 3rd, 7th Christmas karaoke party?

An entire season is dedicated to what started out as a celebration of giving and hope. Hundreds of years have come and gone, each renewing the tradition of Christmas. But each year some family grows further apart. Each year some person grows more jaded, cynical, greedy and Scrooge-like. Each year our eyes grow more narrow and short-sighted. Each year we try to chase our pleasure, fulfillment and that indescribable magic that only caught us as children because we were bright-eyed and open.

Years ago, at the Blue Ridge Mall, they had a display. I don’t remember now if it was all the time or just at Christmas, but I remember it at Christmas. We were in line for Santa and the line snaked by a huge oil fall. It’s a waterfall except they used oil on strings. It’s like a waterfall in slow motion. It was magical, beautiful and a wondrous summation of the holiday experience for me. I lost myself in the endless strings dripping with glowing, hypnotic oil. I felt warm, silly and excited. I drank in the luxury of it all as I waited for Santa. I don’t remember Santa exactly, but I remember the strings. I wanted to reach out and grab them. But instead I swallowed my fingers and excitement over and over again at simply being near them. At that point, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I remember Mom and Dad close by. I remember my siblings there too. I remember the sounds of cheerful shoppers as they shuffled by and their muffled packages swaying back and forth in their clasped hands. I remember the soft mall lighting and the quiet aromas of furniture, leather shoes, popcorn, clothing, carpet and mall food. I remember feeling safe, happy, joyful. The mood was love. And everyone felt it.

Now, I’ve begun a tradition with my family. We try to see Longview Lake Lights. We’ve been coming off and on for a few years now. And the best part. They have a field full of trees made from lights. Those are my favorite. They remind me of the oil fall. Delicate pearls of light suspended in the darkness, soft purple and blue, hanging on invisible strings melting into the night. For the last couple of years, it’s the most peaceful and the most child-like capture of innocence and wonder I’ve known. I’m five again. I’m eight again. I’m me before all the bad. I’m in Christmas up to my neck and in love with the world.

I wish I could take that with me. I wish I could visit the lights every night. But I can’t. The lights are even closer now that we live here, but even so, I can’t see them every night. But I can look for Christ. I can look for him every day and celebrate his birth. I don’t have to wait for “the day”. And I can try to capture his joy, his love, his intention, his gift every single moment, all year long. I can look for it as I drive, shop, eat and talk. I don’t have to wait all year and miss it. I can look and find it. I just have to be bright-eyed and open. His love is hanging right in front of our faces on an invisible string of light, dripping down and mesmerizing us with the delicate, graceful fall and we just have to reach out and grab it.

Merry Xmas! Happy Holidays! May you find many joys and love.

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From the Ghost of Thanksgiving Past

from Thanksgiving 2013:

it would be very tempting to go buy a TV on black friday. there is a 50″ flat screen on Target for the holiday sales for only $229. walmart has one for $178-40″. this is cheaper than even their 32″, usually over $200. we don’t have a flat screen, we’ve got an old school tube tv and it is crazy heavy. but it’s 32″, in good condition and perfectly good enough.
i won’t support the holiday shopping that has become insane. i won’t support people being away from their families on thanksgiving. i won’t support the ever-increasing need to have more and more shit. i won’t support buying gifts for myself when others are in need. i won’t buy gifts for other people who don’t need anything. i have the money to buy a TV finally, at a good price, but i won’t expose my child to the ridiculous crowds assembled to fight each other for things. i won’t stand in line for hours upon hours to save a few dollars. i won’t buy into the hype.
what i will do is…stock a local food pantry that we had to use this year. be thankful for God’s providence. be thankful i’m not in jail becuz i just filed bankruptcy and in this beautiful country, just becuz i owe money i can’t pay, the gov’t. will allow me to have my debt forgiven even if we have had hard times, been sick or just plain reckless. i will be thankful that even tho i don’t have alot of money i have been able to stay at home with my child and be here for her. i don’t have to give up my child becuz i made a mistake. i can eat a thanksgiving meal with my family w/o sitting in jail for owing money.
i am not going to take for granted every single blessing i have including a TV that works. thankful that i don’t have to stand for hours in the cold to buy a TV i don’t need. thankful that i can spend the holiday with my family, enjoying each other’s company instead of fighting strangers over things and money. i wish more people would not shop on thanksgiving. you are supporting an entire industry that is only focused on getting more and more of your dollars.
i’m going to save my money this year becuz i might lose my house. i’m going to save my money for the move we might have to make. i’m going to do the responsible thing for once and live like Dave Ramsey says. i’m going to live with eternity in mind, not focus on what i can shove in my face, cram in my eyes and muddle up in my mind. i’m not going to focus on material possessions this year. i’m going to focus on God’s ever-present benevolence and grace on my poor, undeserving soul.


who woulda thought i would be in florida in 4 years time?? with a flat screen. 😀 still saving and pinching those pennies.

God Did This

Hitting
Hurting
Burning
Scratching
Fighting
Scarring

Dad did this.

Spitting
Teasing
Twisting
Lying
Strangling
Harming

The world did this.

Eating
Cutting
Crying
Choking
Drowning
Dying

I did this.

Healing. Teaching. Helping.
Holding. Waiting. Loving.

Resurrecting.

God did this.

Thank God.

Preppers

People. Wealthy people spend millions of dollars to convert underground missile silos into disaster bunkers.

If you spend your money on protection instead of giving back to the world, you’re definitely going to need that bunker. But what are you living for? What will be left?

If you only have hope in this world, you will try to protect this world and your things at any cost. Thank God I have hope in the next. I am prepped for heaven.

Our job is to help prepare others. At the very least, love them.

Matthew 6:19-21 NRSV

Concerning Treasures

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Last Word

Abuse didn’t break me
Brushed by to wake me
I’m stronger than stress
Built to clean the mess
Power in this weakness
I have the medicine to treat this
Won’t die from it
Born to overcome it
Only life I’ve ever had
God can make good from all kinds of bad

We are human beings made to withstand the worst of circumstance. Strive and achieve greatness. We are capable of exploring the planet, even leaving it. We can certainly survive our own and other’s ignorance. We inherited creation.
And recreation.
And procreation.
And grace.

White Moth of Fortune

This moth likes our front door. And we like him/her, too. He/she has been here for weeks now, off and on. Our own personal Florida welcome wagon.


With gold-laced wings
And good-luck feelings
You land upon our door

I can’t help but suppose
You bring luck to those
Who put faith upon your lore

We welcome your visit
And all your exquisite
Purity, truth and clarity

We acknowledge your grace
In resting on this place
And all your unusual rarity

You bring joy
Peace and accord
Light for the impending morn

You bring calm
Soothing charm
Hope is what you’ve borne

We want you to stay
Bring fortune today
And sweep away the storm

If you’re someone I knew
Then know I love you
Especially in this form

 

Les is More

More from Present Tense, Vol. 2


Les. His name is Les–in bright, white, shiny-stitched letters on a red oval just over the pocket. Dark gray uniform.
Mr. Les. Our elementary school janitor/maintenance man.

Les has a smiling face even when his lips may not be turned. His eyes are perpetually up/happy/sweet/youthful. Light blue, effervescent, smiling icicle eyes. Mr. Les takes our tickets at lunch. He takes our tickets and gives out winks and smiles.
He pinches the small carnival ticket between his thumb and the fleshy lower section of his curled up index finger. He does this with kindness, gentility and ease; as if he’s softly
offering his hand to a nervous dog.
His job does not diminish him in spirit or in body. He energetically does his tasks even
though his perfectly white hair reveals his age. And his pride does not grimace at the simplest/basest of tasks. He sprinkles magic janitor dust on vomit, pee and all manner of stains. Dutifully.
He is friendly to all. He is especially nice to me. I respect him. I have no reason not to. His humility and warmth are rare. He is decent. He is tender.
He is an uncommon man. Hero.
The air is crisp. The wind is swift. He carries me from the playground when I twist my ankle and can’t walk. He carries me all the way to the healthroom. I’m at least 100 lbs.

The air is warm. The wind is still. He puts his arm around me, pats my back, reassures me that I am loved and respected when a girl threatens my friends and me at recess. “We’re going to miss you around here when you leave.” Tears.


I love you, Mr. Les. I don’t know where you are, or if you’re even still here, but you were/are a good man. And you made this child happier. Thank you.

The Carousel

For my daughter. She just started high school and it’s a bit overwhelming. She’s doing great, but it’s a little scary.

The picture above is her at the KC Zoo, having fun on the carousel. She was 6. Shot with a Nikon, 35 mm, manual. It was a fun day.


Hold on tight, dear.
Don’t let go.
The carousel twirls faster
The more you know.

Life goes by
In a furious blur.
But it’s oh-so thrilling,
Full of adventure.

Up and down.
Always turning.
Moving forward.
Always learning.

You might get sick.
You might lose your head.
You might just love it.
Turn the world around instead.

Don’t be scared, Darling.
You have to be strong.
You’re not alone.
Mom’s here all along.

So throw your hair back
And laugh at the ride.
Have fun on the carousel.
Don’t leave it untried.


Proud of you, Honey. You’re so special. One of a kind. Brilliant, beautiful and bound for glory! Don’t settle for less, always challenge yourself. Don’t worry about what people wear, say or think. You belong to God. Your value comes from him.

And always ask for help! We’re here for you. Your teachers, counselors and parents. It’s normal to feel anxious, everybody does!! 🙂

Sad-urday

Yesterday was a sad day for me. Really tough. But fascinating.

I was a mock juror yesterday for a local mock trial firm in the Tampa area. I can’t say who I was working for or what case we were hearing. But I can say it was for a car accident working towards a civil settlement.

I should explain. Real case. Real accident. Not a real judgment or decision we were offering. It was a test before trial. The two parties involved were trying to reach a settlement and determine how a jury might find.

Needless to say, the occupants of the car had their lives changed forever oh-so many nights ago. It was hard to hear and hard to evaluate/judge. Who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s responsible and for how much.

It was a grueling almost-12-hour day for me, but a drop in the bucket compared to the families affected by the incident. Negligence was at play, on the part of the driver, along with recklessness. Many other jurors agreed.

I think we all assume too little when we undertake the responsibility of driving. We often take for granted the luxury of driving and allow ourselves to be distracted. Easily. How often do you rummage through your purse while driving one-handed? How often do your children ask about the mysteries of the universe or where their favorite toys are or if they can have some treat from the backseat while you’re navigating from Google Maps while negotiating a multi-ton vehicle on a 70 mph highway? How often are you looking for the perfect driving music on your phone or radio or CD player? Instead of 10 and 2 and using your peripheral vision to spot surprised deer, raccoons, rabbits and other cars and people!

I am a freak about my driving. I rarely let others drive me. I’m a defensive driver. Overly cautious. Sometimes too much to the frustration of my husband. I have driven professionally and pay close attention to the road. I often drive with two hands, white-knuckled! But even I make mistakes. Big mistakes.

The driver from yesterday made a big mistake. The biggest mistake a person can make. And he blamed everyone else.

That was tough.

Ever made a big mistake and instantly wanted to take it back? Ever made a big mistake and blamed the world around you, immediately, because you couldn’t accept the weight of your own idiocy? Ever made a big mistake and no one noticed, but the guilt inside ate away at you silently? For years? Ever made a big mistake and lied about it and no one ever knew?

We all fall short. We all sin. Small and big. And we all get grace. That’s tough. The rain falls on the just and unjust alike. None of us deserve grace. But we’re all made in the image of God. That’s tough. Because to find God’s face in someone so evil or ugly or un-remorseful is almost impossible. Almost.

So I’m going to pray today. For that young man. For this country. For myself. For those who died. For those that will live with their mistakes and consequences. Pray for God’s will and perfect plan.

That’s tough.