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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

I was having an especially fun moment on Facebook.  A friend had posted a video of the Christmas story as told by children.  Just as a wisp of Christmas spirit began to materialize inside of me, the very next status update in my feed stopped me cold.

Another friend posted that a local family lost several of their own.  A father, mother, their two young children and the family dog all perished in a single engine plane crash on a freeway in New Jersey.

I don’t know for sure if this Christmas is different than any other, but to me it feels… I don’t know… darker.  So many people I know are facing serious financial difficulties.  Others are experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one.  Still others are dealing with illness.  So much sadness…

I am left wondering how to reconcile this bittersweet dichotomy.  What am I supposed to feel?  I cannot steel myself to the pain of others.  Nor can I shut out the promise of Christmas. 

I sense that I am not alone in my emotional confusion.  Are you there, too?

At some point, we have to choose where we put our focus.  If I may make a sweeping generalization, I would say that most of us, given the choice, would prefer to relish the wonder of the season.  (Have you ever noticed how people thrill to the lights at Christmastime?  As beings created by the Light, we cannot help but be drawn to it.)

The darker the world gets, the more Christmas means. 

A savior is coming to pull us out of the mess of our own making, to wipe away every tear, to make right all that is wrong. 

In this promise, we can place our hope:

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”  (Isaiah 9:2-7, NIV)

 

 

Elsewhere on the blog: A last-minute gift idea for elementary school age children.

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Flash Mob

I did something this weekend I’ve never done before.  A friend of mine, who also happens to be my favorite conductor, invited friends, colleagues and musicians to participate in a singing flash mob.  I had to do it.

For those of you not familiar with the phenomena that are flash mobs, the idea is that at a pre-determined time, hundreds of people in a crowded place (such as a shopping mall) will suddenly break into choreographed dance or song as a random act of art.  They are great fun to watch, and even more fun to do.

At 1:54 p.m. this past Saturday, right near the escalator in a department store bustling with holiday shoppers, over one hundred people, including yours truly, broke into an unannounced, exuberant version of the Hallelujah Chorus.  Cell phones and cameras came out of pockets and purses to capture the moment as we loudly sang,

“King of Kings!  Lord of Lords!  And He shall reign forever and evermore!”

Everyone within earshot was shocked out of their anxiety, their negativity, and their busyness.  For just a few moments, we were all caught up in the magic, the joy, and the electricity.  And at the cut-off of the final chord, a spontaneous ovation and cheering rose from shoppers and singers alike.

Can you imagine it?  Can you feel it?  I still have goosebumps.

Ours was not the original flash mob.  No, that one happened over two thousand years ago in a night sky over a field of sheep.  No bustling shoppers.  Just a few shepherds, trying to stay awake while their sheep slept.

Then…

Then…

THIS!

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’”  (Luke 2:13-14, KJV)

A goldenbright light splits open the sky, and hundreds, maybe thousands of angels sing praises to God.  The air is charged.  Nothing ever happened like that before, and nothing ever will until the next time He touches earth.

Can you imagine it?  Can you feel it?

Stay awake!

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is coming!

 Hallelujah!

 

 

P.S. Today on the Food page: How to make your own pancake syrup.

P.P.S. HUGE favor to ask, if you are a Facebooker.  I entered my children’s story If A Fish Had A Wish in the MeeGenius author challenge.  (Winner is determined by vote.)  Will you click here and give it a “like?”  It takes less than 10 seconds.  If you really like it, would you re-post?  Thank youuuuuuu!  – wwh

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Call me a conscientious objector if you like, but for the sake of my sanity, I stay home on the day after Thanksgiving.  (Introverts like me much prefer a warm blanket and a quiet cup of coffee to parking lots and stores full of hyped-up shoppers.)  But this year, I broke my own rule.

As I neared the shopping center, the traffic and my pulse quickened.  I seriously began to doubt my decision.

Just when I was about to give in to an all-out fit of anxiety, I stopped myself…

…took a breath…

…and repeated these words to myself.

 

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

 

I don’t know why the King James Version of this verse (Isaiah 26:3) came to me, but I think the words are beautiful.

“…perfect peace…”

Yes, I thought.  I would love to experience perfect peace.  But how can I when the world is so crazy?

The answer lies in the second half of the verse.

“…whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

I smiled to myself.  I looked around with new eyes.  Suddenly, people fighting over parking spaces, pushing ahead in check-out lines, and speaking rudely to sales clerks didn’t faze me.  I became an observer of the chaos rather than a participant in it.

And you know what?  I felt… peaceful.

The world can go perfectly mad during the month of December.  You and I don’t have to play along.  We can have a mind stayed on the One who gives perfect peace,

the One whose birth we anticipate,

the One whose name is Prince of Peace.

 

 

There is a new entry this week on the Simplicity page: simpler cookware

 

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Scrooged

I promised myself that I wasn’t going to stress out this year.  Nope, I was going to float gently through the Christmas season, cheerily writing cards, happily buying and wrapping presents, and joyfully dancing through the month of December.  But I have also promised you from the very beginning that I would be honest.

Last week, you recall, I had just come back from a mountaintop experience that was sure to carry me though the entire Advent season.  This week, however, I am acting like Scrooge.

As a mom, spreading the joy of the season falls to me – not because my husband won’t help, but because of logistics.  He’s working many hours to support said joy.  My schedule is more flexible, so I write cards, attend school events, buy teacher gifts, grab that last minute Secret Santa gift for dance class, decorate the house, mail packages to six different domiciles, tend to sick children (Must they get sick in the month of December?!), and call the plumber because we have mud in our water.

When I went grocery shopping, I was already miffed at myself for leaving my grocery list on the kitchen table.  I slunk past the Salvation Army ringer because I always put money in the red bucket and I just didn’t feel like it this time. 

He knew how to get to me.  He pulled out a trumpet and started playing an off-key rendition of “Away in a Manger.”  (God bless him for playing out in the cold.)  I pushed my cart through the produce section, straining to remember what was on my list, trying desperately to block out “O Little Town of Bethlehem” in three different keys, and wondering if he’d stop if I put a fiver in the bucket.

I made it home in just enough time to put groceries away and hustle to school for the fourth grade recorder concert – which lasted all of fifteen minutes.  I went Christmas shopping, came home, and made what I thought was an excellent dinner (my children did not agree).  Then my older daughter came down with flu.  And the younger one was recovering from a mild concussion she sustained at basketball practice. 

I am officially down from the mountaintop.

I apologize for the rant.  My sense is, however, that you know exactly what I’m feeling.  You’ve been there. 

Here’s my plan.  I am going to take a little extra time to remember the most important gift of Christmas – the Christ.  I will listen to His still, small voice instead of the noise of this world.  I will feel His peace wash over me, and lift my burdens to Him.

Your turn!  In the comment box below, please supply a verse, or share what you do to keep your inner Scrooge at bay.  I’m all ears…

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I’ve never done it before.  My kids didn’t get it.  My husband only partially understood it.  This weekend, I joined three friends for an overnighter at a Franciscan retreat center.  We’re talking no TV, no internet, not even any music.  Just lots of opportunities to… well, I’ll get to that later.

I had such big plans.  I thought I might catch up on some writing, or study for some lessons I’ll be teaching.  I half-considered getting the Christmas cards out of the way.  Oh, yes.  Wendi the Responsible was going to get some work done.

Ha. 

Sometimes, God gives you what you need before you even know you need it. 

After a short hike in the woods, my friends and I sat down to lunch.  Just as we were finishing, I looked out the window.  Snow! 

Perfect, I thought.  I’ll grab a cup of joe, head to my room, pop open the laptop and get some writing done by the window.  But as soon as I sat down, all I could do was stare out at the snow.  I couldn’t move. 

I really need to work, I thought.  But…oh… look at the pretty, pretty snow…

The balance of the weekend went about like that.  I would pretend to study, write, or read.  Then I would find myself wanting not to do, but to be.

Sunday morning, I went into the chapel.  No one else was there.  Just me.  Just God.  I sat in the front row and looked up at the crucifix in front of the giant picture window.  There was no sound.  I didn’t know how to have church all by myself, so I whispered the Lord’s Prayer.  And that was good enough.

I kept replaying the story of Mary and Martha in my mind.  All my life, I have been a Martha – doing what I’m supposed to, doing what I think I’m supposed to, doing what other people think I’m supposed to – and sometimes going crazy for it.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV)

For once in my life, all I did was sit and look up at Jesus. I didn’t do anything.

Well, whaddaya know?  Somewhere underneath all of my hyper-responsible Martha-ness is a Mary who can simply sit at Jesus’ feet.

Maybe we all have this ability in us.  It’s just buried under too many expectations.

This Advent, choose what is better.

If you do, it will never be taken away from you.

4 Marthas turned Marys

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