Christmas Day

On the way home from midnight service, we listened one more time to The Gaithers’ Christmas CD, The Greatest Story Ever Told, pulling into the driveway to the last delicate note of Mary, Did You Know, blessing us as our heads hit pillow approximately 1 am.  I am up ahead of Honey, talking to you in the pre-dawn morning light, waiting to grind the coffee beans.  We have exactly 7 gifts under the tree for the two of us.  The stockings each have DVDs, a jolly tradition to fatten the movie collection, and somebody got a new cologne to replace the Old Spice (finally).

Christmas. It is what it is, a day set aside to honor and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  We dress up, buy gifts, give to the poor, bake and cook and eat, send greeting cards and letters reporting the year on one page or just sign the card, and attend an extra worship service.

And this is good in its simplicity and adornment.

Then we diet or plan to diet.

I’ve posted many times my complaints of the Christmas machine, how it needs a face lift, a tweak here or there, that we should move the date, tear away the pagan symbols, etc.  I still want to move it, I still want to retire the jolly old elf. Greg Laurie, a prominent minister in California, suggested we at least eliminate gift exchange in a effort to tone down the unrealistic expectation factor for people who become depressed or in debt trying.  I don’t know if I agree with elimination, maybe reduce the pile under the tree and give more to those in need.

In short,

  • research states Jesus was conceived during the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, and born the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall.
  • Santa was originally a false god called Obed or Obid or some such name but is now publicized as a 19th century morph of Nicholas, born in Turkey in the early 300’s, who was a bishop in that early church father group, performed miracles, gave extravagantly to the needy, attended the Council of Nicaea from which he was thrown out and jailed for slapping another attendee who insisted Jesus wasn’t deity
  • from that Council, Constantine made Christianity legal, profitable, and state run, adopting nearly all the pagan symbols from Babylon BTW (and we know how God just loves Babylon), renaming them Christian to attract the multitudes to the new easy religion and pay taxes to him. He was baptized and allegedly converted. If that’s right, I’m going to have a serious discussion with him in heaven right after I ask “Why snakes?” and look up the relatives.

Christmas today resembles nothing of Jesus’ day, Constantine trashed all things Jewish and lest we forget, Christianity is grafted into (not from) the Judeac root, Jesus Himself.

In spite of it all, those who get it worship not the baby, but the existing risen Lord Jesus and rejoice, celebrating through gift exchange and fullness of food, sharing both in Jesus’ name.

The world has gone overboard, twisting each detail.  Christmas is an opportunity to profit, eat, drink, and be merry in all its temporary loud emptiness and glitter, avoiding the intent and meaning of Luke 2. It’s misplaced but we’ve mentioned that already.

(sigh) I can’t fix it.  But I can tell it better.  So can parents teach the real meaning, and please understand you are confusing your children when you let them actually truly believe in the unrecognizable morph of a false god, then a righteous servant of God into an elf in a red suit who can do magic.  Let’s have some fun with fairy tales but call them fairy tales, games if you wish. Consider this.  If they believe in Santa because you said to, and believe in Jesus because you said to, and find out Santa isn’t real, what about Jesus? Is He real or not?

The coffee is on.  The stockings beg attention.  One of my gifts is a tallit, a prayer shawl like those worn from Moses’ day, like in Jesus’ day, like He Himself wore.  I can hardly wait to see it.  I replaced Honey’s worn out Thompson Chain Reference study Bible.  What a blessing he wears out Bibles when years ago he didn’t open it.

May the peace of the season dwell in your hearts.  May your giving give all year. May the Messiah of the manger live in your homes.


Where does this road go?

Forget the compass.  Just don’t even buy one.  Once upon a time we had one of those floaters hanging from the rear view mirror much to Honey’s embarrassment.  That’s the kind of thing my dad had on his dashboard. So if Dad was a geezer with a car compass, and Honey has a compass on the dashboard, he must be…. oh no, not a geezer in a pa-paw Buick!  At that point, we didn’t have the Buick … yet!

For Dad, it had as little purpose in Illinois as ours did in Tennessee only in reverse.  Dad knew which direction he was going anyway.  In Tennessee, the poor thing was spinning back and forth so much it didn’t stop long enough on any compass point to tell us which way was up let alone east, west, north, south or anything even close.  If it was a cat, it would be car sick and hurling on our laps.

Follow the yellow double line but do stay on the right side of it at all times unless turning off.

Tonight on the way home I drove past my turnoff to a known route and chose instead the road not just less traveled, but one I was only suspicious of where it came out.  I was already headed easterly and hoped I would continue as easterly into this stretch of not-so-sure.  My goal was twofold.  First, I wanted an alternate route that I knew wouldn’t get me lost on the way to work for blossom/fall color appreciation.  Second, it helps to know how to go around traffic backups.  Okay, there’s a third reason — impressing out of state flatlanders without looking foolish.

When we were all at home, a family of two parents and 3 girls, we took a lot of road trips.  If two kids have an imaginary line down the middle of the back seat, you know from painful experience whether as a parent or one of the two that there’s constant line crossing and the inevitable “Make her stop touching me! Stop touching me! M-AH-M!”  With three, somebody’s sitting on the line making the space even smaller.  In this case, the middle one is the victim surrounded by conspirators eager to torture her purely for the noise, noise which drives both parents out of their skins.  Therefore…..

Dad takes this golden opportunity to teach directions.  “Which way are we going now?  We just left the house and we’re heading for Monmouth.  What direction is that?”  If your first clue wasn’t the setting sun blinding you, you just have to know that Monmouth is due west of Cameron typically with no turns or curves, so you answer “west!”  You’d better answer “west” soon if you want him to stop.  But he won’t.  “Which way would we be going if we turned left?”  But, we’re not turning left between Cameron and Monmouth, Dad, or we wouldn’t be going to….  “Tell me which way you’d be going if we turned left!!”  (eye-roll)  “South?”  Yay, I get a point!

This was an easy game since all the roads were one of only 4 directions.  In our local tri-county area, there was one road that went diagonally for any significant distance which was known as The Diagonal Road.  All the rest, paved, gravel, or dirt, were North, South, East or West.  Not only that, if you were driving through farm land, the next available turn was exactly a mile from the last available turn.  The fields were divided into sections, a mile each. No need to look at the odometer if you were keeping track of how many cross roads you’d driven past.  Handy, huh?

I grew up on a checker board, a flat and square checker board.

So, why Dad had to know from his dash which way he was going was an unnecessary hobby, fun, but unnecessary especially when the sun was shining.  Flat, straight and mostly treeless as well, therefore there was nothing to block said sun, and just that much to not block natural navigation.

My new navigational discovery was typical Tennessee side road, not back road — those are deeper in the hills and not wide enough for lines.  I even figured out that if I’d turned left I’d have ended up on my more traveled route behind our house but I turned right and wound my way further south than I needed to be yet at a recognized intersection.  I am comforted to know I can still “smell” my way on an unfamiliar side road as I can in a new shopping mall.

Tonight I gently swayed and swerved homeward, not too fast, not too slow, with much the same feeling as swinging on the rope swing Dad made for us on the big oak branch in our back yard.  Dad’s voice asked me which way I was going.

“Home.   Eventually.”

Jesus, I need you.

ad·vo·cate [v. ad-vuh-keyt; n. ad-vuh-kit, -keyt] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation verb, -cat·ed, -cat·ing, noun –verb (used with object)

1. to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly: He advocated higher salaries for teachers.


2. a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc. (usually fol. by of): an advocate of peace.
3. a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.
4. a person who pleads the cause of another in a court of law

I turned to the concordance in my trusty old KJV from my days when I was single and so hopeful of not staying that way that I had just my first name engraved on the front cover. Advocate looked like this:

Advocate (Christ) of the Church, 1 John 2:1.

I didn’t expect it to be capitalized and I expected more than one scripture reference.

I’m getting accustomed to waking in the night. Continue reading

Resistance is Futile

That’s a quote from a 1996 Star Trek movie . Capt. Picard is being changed from man to machine under control of the Borgs. That’s the line they fed him repeatedly to break his will. It’s a memorable line, and fun to use but not valuable. In fact, in real life, resistance is beneficial.

Resistance training with weights builds and strengthens the muscles making them more efficient at fat burning. Results are visible, attractive, and improve one’s overall health. But wait, before you buy the Bowflex, consider more benefits of resistance. When you actively resist gravity by long walks, taking the stairs, reaching, stretching, etc. you keep the blood flowing, the brain thinking, the heart pumping. You also by this time really get my point.

Resistance to temptation develops and strengthens resolve. Resisting a comeback i.e. a smart mouth response, may save your job or a relationship. Don’t always excuse that quick zinger as venting and don’t give me that look. If you can’t say something nice, at least be vague.

Resistance to wrong can mean standing up to a bully and ending your own or someone else’s torture. Resistance to lies by standing up for the truth may produce painful derisive laughter, but your character just got polished. I could give you a long list, but if you’re over the age of 7 and you weren’t the most or best among your peers, you are amassing your own list.

We have a friend about 15 years older than we are who was athletic, lean and a mean basketball player. One day he declared he was tired and sat down. And stayed there. “That’s enough exercise for one lifetime. Now I’m going to sit” I don’t know how long it took for his body to reverse and go downhill but it did. He is now dependent on a motorized wheel chair, is diabetic, obese, has had a few heart bypasses, his knees are bone on bone and there is zero circulation in his feet. He just had a major heart attack a few weeks ago. He couldn’t resist not resisting the ravages of the couch potato lifestyle. Resistance keeps you healthy.

Consider the humble bumble bees . Their bodies’ size and shape in proportion to their wings makes flying improbable. But they do. Their maneuverability, speed, and endurance is a puzzle. So they were taken on a space mission for observation in a weightless environment. I don’t know exactly what the researchers were expecting. Maybe more speed? Maybe little buzzy sighs and smiles as they enjoyed a life of ease? No. They died. It was resisting and overcoming the odds to fly that kept them able to fly. And alive. Resistance is not only good for you, it’s necessary.

Denial is futile.

Dizzy as a Loon

I thought loons were quackless ducks with a distinctive fashion sense. But are they dizzy? What comes to mind when we think of the word dizzy? Staggering, falling, swooning (now there’s a blast from the past), fainting, echohead?

Maybe the phrase “drunker’n a skunk” is more accurate. Are there little animal saloons in the woods after dark? Skunks are nocturnal after all. And they waddle funny.

Saturday is a day I look forward to for at least 5.75 days of the week. I know–wishing my life away. No matter. Time is like a roll of toilet paper: the closer to the end, the faster it goes. So, Saturday is the day I sleep in. I get up about 8-something as was the case this last weekend. Stan is up earlier and usually goes to Jim’s wood shop to play work on projects. My ToDo was loaded and I was ambitiously looking forward to getting some of these dusty projects done.

First on the list was loading the begonias into the window box inserts. The day promised to get hot, so I was working on the shaded porch in back. The room started spinning. And it wouldn’t stop. I grabbed all the door frames necessary to get to the sofa and was going to lay down but the room still spun, then bounced left, then right, then back again. I didn’t have double vision, it was more like independent twitchy eyes. Remember how Matt Decker could jiggle his eyeballs? Close, but slower. Closing them made it worse. The only thing I could do for the next 8 hours was sit up with my head resting on the back of the sofa. 5:30, I’m fine. Sunday, fine. Monday, fine. Tuesday, fuzzy echohead. (Grrrr)

This morning I went to the doctor. After much poking, prodding, and discussion, he pronounced me a victim of Vertigo. No, not like the movie. That was from a fear of heights. This is a sibling to Meniere’s disease or a cousin, a disorder of the balance mechanism in the inner ear. (Google it.) He reassured me there is cheap generic medicine to be used during an attack which may not occur again, or it may occur and last days (oh, yay) or there may be little spells. All old ladies have spells. I just never knew what they were about until now. For such an event, I take one pill every 6 hours until it’s over.

I take my prescription to the nice pharmacist, he puts it in a bag. Smiling perkily, we thank each other, and off I go. A few hours later I pulled it out and I saw the bright yellow warning on the label. Are you ready?

“May cause dizziness.” I hate drug companies.

A Little Truth

I am somewhat disorganized. Yes, really. Ok, so I’m a lot disorganized. I think part of the problem is that I have too often bought into the highly overrated concept that multi-tasking is a heroic thing. I forget that I learned 30 years ago that there is no such thing as Superwoman. Erma Bombeck wrote about the new neighbor who had the pictures hung and dinner in the oven the same day she moved in and Erma had barely put away the binoculars. No, Erma didn’t like her much either.

I have too many things going on. Lists of lists, seasonal projects, stuffed corners from the winter, and where did all these loose scraps of paper come from? Oh, yes!! When I hear something I want to remember, I write it down. Of course, there’s no tablet or journal (need to write that down–buy a journal) so I grab an envelope or a used shopping list (that’s where that went!). Do I date it? No. Do I include the source? Sometimes.

I was thumbing through a book and saw that it had a scrap of paper as a bookmark. Dang! Lost my place! I had written down a movie quote from an old black and white film from the 40’s. Ingrid Bergman was the nun and Bing Crosby was the priest–The Bells of St. Mary. These are really great movies, guys! So they don’t have flipping, exploding cars, or people flying backward 20 feet from one little bullet, blood flying all over and words you don’t want your children to hear. That’s what makes them great.

Anyway….Ingrid’s character says to her young student who didn’t pass her final for graduation “If you don’t fail sometimes your successes won’t mean anything. Have courage.” It’s a little truth to pocket.  I hope I empty the pocket before it’s thrown in the washer.