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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 scold Eve (poor Eve. Maybe she’s heard it already).

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.

Rain to Bow

“It was pouring all the way here, just pouring. Those kids were soaked.”

Rain, rain, rain. Days of rain, weeks of rain, dreariness, wet decks, sidewalks and pavement shiny wet from growling skies.

She thought she’d never get here, the trucks throwing water in vicious intent, trying to drown her in gray.

Then rain gives way to sunset reclaiming earth under broken clouds, lost ghost ships slowly sailing through tree tops tipped with gold, mists rising randomly– ancient native spirits signaling silently hill to hill.

A rainbow, wide, bright, the purple dominating in neon!  It’s gone, where did it go?  Over there! See it doubled, a reflection of itself over our back yard, arching side to side and back again, a promise, protective, just for us.

Do you have your umbrella? Watch your step, drive carefully, see you tomorrow, thanks for coming.

The air is heavy, too warm and damp, resisting surrender to sun day after day after day.  Finally, late today, sun after canceled games and ruined cookouts, yellow light instead of gray, a hope of cool fall nights crouching around the next corner or the next or the next or the next.

I work overtime against my will, the load increases, relentless and demanding. I’m in artificial air, aware of thunder, not of sun.

Finally, color.  At last, open windows, fresh air.  Soon I’ll sleep to crickets’ song, not AC’s hum.  Freshness, breathe on me in my soul.

Great wall !

I love it!  I make these declarations before the mantle is reattached, before any family pictures smile from their frames.  It is just plain right.

Since blogging each brush stroke could get a tad boring, I’ll simply post a few pics when it’s all done.  That should be around April 5th.  Check back!

In the meantime, on my 1/2 hour lunch breaks, I am reading a timely to the season book, The Incomplete Church by Sid Roth, a Messianic Jew, host of It’s Supernatural.  You can scoff the supernatural all day and I won’t say much past “it’s your choice” but his lessons concerning the church and the applicability of Passover to Easter and vice versa is astounding–brand new information to me, backed up by scripture and written world history.

The other book, completed in the car last Saturday while Honey deplored sitting in weekend  Pigeon Forge traffic, is a novel The Shack.  Can’t tell you much without revealing too much.  I will say it’s really hard to put down.  You could experience a few really, really late nights saying to yourself  “just one more chapter.”

It’s late right now.  Do you suppose if I went to bed earlier like Mom used to say, I wouldn’t be so wiped out in the morning?  (I think I hear Mom’s laugh-snort, that way she had of covering her mouth with her hand and her too short arm bouncing on her bosom.  Laugh on, Woman-Who-Just-Turned-101-on-March-16!)

I signed up for the Passover Seder with my Messianic friends on Tuesday the, Wed the, sometime during the week before Easter which you know I prefer to call Resurrection Day.  I will be nutshelling Mr. Roth’s book by then as well.

Talk to y’all later.

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 critter, 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.”

Words 2008

Direction, focus, horizon, walk, prioritize, spontaneity, depth, promise, meditate, concentrate, be, settle, peace, goal, relax, work, gak (is that a word?), grip (as in get a), pick one (that’s two words).

Girls, I am having quite a time zeroing in on a single definitive word for the year.

My single sourced online ancestry collection is pushing 5000 names with some lines going deep into BC, specifics to be posted later when I’ve tapped into the last dead end.  Hm, “dead”, dead rellies, get it?  Even with a moderately high speed internet connection on my Sprint air card, that’s a lot of clicking.  

The heat radiating in my face as I bend toward the fireplace to stir the embers, the charred remnants of wood glowing in waves, and the soft flames — it’s trite, but the only word for them is dancing, gives one a good feeling of warmth and security knowing the outside temperature is 25, above zero, but below sweatshirt.  It also gives one a micro glimpse into the concept of hell.  I prefer the words warmth and security.

We’ve been trying to depend more on the fireplace for our primary source of heat and so far it’s cutting the heat bills of the past in half.  We’ll see about the coldest two months.  Here in Tennessee, when the air drops below freezing, you know it doesn’t last more than a few days.  Tuesday’s forecast is in the 60’s.  But for tonight, the thermostat is down to 60 and the heat from the fireplace is dominating a few more hours.

Word of the year.  Yikes is a word? Plan is a word.  Wish, hope, faith, growth, decision.  Love is a good one.  May I list them all on sticky notes and post them on the refrigerator next to Drew’s hand prints?  A word d’jour, if you will.

I’m wrapped in the renewed energy of genealogy research, enjoying the online resource.  This is also the time of year best suited to raking out the wooded part of the property.  My crochet hooks and pattern books beg my attention.  There are papers to sort and file, and pictures to scan.  I need to fire up the NordicTrack again having felt better last fall when I was concentrating on lowering the cholesterol without drugs until the doctor insisted and now that I have a pill to take, I’ve found more excuses than pills to put it off.  The books wait in silence on the shelf.

I can’t promise every day, but if I concentrate — well, just read the list again.  I’ll start with relax. Next is prioritize.  In the meantime, spontaneity is Arnold Horshack shouting “Ooo, Ooo” behind every good intention.  Procrastination is my Vinnie Barbarino.  I’ll get back to you.  Oh, wait….

Prayer.  But, that’s assumed.  If I start with that, the rest falls into place.  I’ll get back to you.

How do we give smart?

Whatever ravenous sabertoothed bug I consumed, it is gone — hopefully.  Where it had been just plain hurts.  I came home.  Since the recovery process is doing well with sitting instead of laying down, I visit my blog sites and report a finding here from Stones Cry Out.

Remember the multi-talented We Are the World recording that launched a money raising project to feed the poor in Africa?  Continue reading