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Keeping Christmas Real

What if Christmas isn’t the “most wonderful time of the year”?

A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

What if it’s lonely?
I’m sick,
I’m lost
It’s terminal?

What if I’m missing someone?
She’s gone away,
He’s gone to heaven
They’ve passed to I don’t know where?

What if it’s smothering?
They don’t understand
Won’t accept me back
This is as good as it’s ever gonna get?

What if I’m waiting?
I’m drumming,
I’m pacing
It’s not looking good?

Christmas isn’t wonderful then.
Not like they promised
Not like they sing
Not like the song says
Let NOT the bells ring.

Christmas is not wonderful.
But Christ still is.

Born again in us, this day.
The spirit of life,
That overcomes sickness,
finds us in our losing,
breathes life into our suffocation,
understands, accepts, keeps,
and never leaves.

Even when Christmas is not wonderful,
It’s essential.
Not what we want,
but what we so dearly,
dearly, need.

Merry Christmas, friends.

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Without a deadline, I’d never get to Christmas

Christmas with presentsIt’s amazing what a deadline does. Take Christmas for example. On December 25th, at least in these parts, folks wake up to Christmas day and they expect their gifts to be under the tree, stockings to be filled and Christmas dinner preparations to be well under way. As the Dr. Seuss’ Grinch so aptly points out, we can stop Christmas from coming, it comes just the same.

Part of the craziness of Advent – the season of waiting – is making our preparations. Because it will come, with or without us. Christmas day is the deadline. So we scurry to buy, wrap, bake and mail, in time for Christmas. This struck me between the eyes when I saw my friend Cammy’s Facebook post of herself live-streaming the 11:00pm Christmas eve service on her computer while she was getting her last minute wrapping done. Her comment:

“Having a wrapping party while watching the Floris UMC 11:00 service live streamed, after going to church and having dinner with all of the family in Winchester. I hope that next year I will get my act together and have something wrapped a little bit earlier, but this sure is a wonderful way to wrap gifts! Merry Christmas, everyone!

If it weren’t for the Christ child insisting on His day, I would certainly be putting off the celebration until I got around to getting everything finished, too. But there’s a deadline: Christmas day. That’s why I throw things into gear. The next day is too late; it’ll all be over.

Thank God for deadlines. Left to my own devices, I’d coast and glide and continue through life as if it were up to me to set the pace. God knows I need an endpoint, a target, a landing place, an arrival. THERE. DONE. Not to revel in my success, but to take a big inhale and stop to celebrate. Then, only then, to begin again.

As I catch my breath and beat myself up about my procrastination, vowing that next year will be different, I look around at the unwrappings of a season and the accomplishments of a year and realize, were it not for the deadline, none of it would be. Christ would never come. But He did and he has and, rumor has it, He’ll be back.

I have other deadlines looming. Thank GOODness!

Sketching angels that are bigger than life

Ah, the clean slate of a new year. Fresh off the Christmas holiday, we’re feeling good about ourselves. Time to activate on the new year’s resolutions. Weight loss? Exercise? Quitting that bad habit? Nah, let’s not bother with the small stuff. Let’s go big. “Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) That ought to take care of it. If want the Kingdom life complete with all the amenities, all I have to do is follow Jesus.

Such a bold resolution, but my track record thus far is not so good. I mean, while I’m busy looking into the distance for what Jesus would do, I’m fumbling the things at hand. I see his patience with children, his compassion for the sick, his attention to those in need, but it’s not even noon and I’ve already raised my voice, shelved my empathy and affixed my headphones so I can tune out all the whining. It looks so easy when Jesus does it, and so messy when I get hold of it.

2011-12-11_15-40-13_548This Christmas I discovered a wonderful tool that planted an idea and gives me the hope of a strategy. Of course there were angels involved. These angels began in 1997 when my husband Scot, the amateur woodworker, designed some “lawn ornaments” as Christmas decorations. He, not being one to settle for small projects, designed and constructed three 4-foot tall wooden angels. Complete with wings, hymnals and a working electric candle, these white painted cherubs, must be pieced together and staked up each year as they take their place on our little grassy knoll.

pantograph1

The Pantograph. Here’s more about how it works: http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/woodworking-tips-1104apr/pantograph.html

This year, I found out their secret. They weren’t drawn free hand as I had imagined but were traced via pantograph from a design ordered from a wood shop catalog. Aha! Using this magical tool, one only need trace over the original design and the device reproduces the image perfectly in a much larger size. You simply focus on what’s at hand and let the pencil re-trace the image, all courtesy of Read the rest of this entry

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