Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas 2014...

Friends, this will be my last post of the year. I hope you meet up with me again come the New Year. I’ll try my best to post on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but if you’ve been with me for a while you know those deadlines get a little slippery at times. I look forward to the lessons the new year will bring us all. Thank you for traveling with me.
Today, I speak to my fellow mourners, and to those who love someone who is mourning. This is my second Christmas without my husband. He died last October, so last Christmas, I barely remember. In fact there are whole chunks of last year that my memory banks have let go of. What I do remember about Christmas 2013 are all the sharp edges. Gone was the excitement of Christmas morning. Gone was the enjoyment of carols sung. Gone were the Christmas tree and the twinkling lights. And, surprisingly, the most excruciating part of Christmas last year was getting anywhere near the ‘men’s section’ in a store. My palms got clammy and my breathing swallow. I remember once at TJ Maxx scrambling for a chair before I lost my legs. In my mind, my house was wrapped in a shroud, as was my heart. But, I got through it, or I should say, the Father of that newborn babe we celebrate at this time of the year, He got me through it. He nudged a few of my friends for help to send me cards, give me a call, or just be that someone for me to talk to. The one bright spot of Christmas morning last year was my six-month-old grandniece. I distinctly remember looking through this long swirling tunnel at her as she squealed with glee at everything from wrapping paper to squeaky toys. I was afraid to take my eyes off of her in fear I’d completely disappear and be lost forever. When you are in mourning, Christmas has a cruel side.
A year later, it’s a little bit better. I’ve tried to narrow my focus and scale down the flashy parts. It’s not the MERRY or the CHRISTMAS that rings true for me. Those words do not belong back in my world yet. However, the C-H-R-I-S-T part of Christmas has my attention. He stands in front of me and gently beckons me to concentrate on His face. This is hard to do with twinkle lights, wrapping paper, and Black Friday standing behind Him making faces. I still can’t stomach most of the above. But, if I filter them through the Christ, the Son of God, my Savior, the Great Healer, and finally the Cross and the Empty Tomb, I’m able to endure the loud jingle bells. Jesus puts it all in perspective. He points me to people, people I love, people who love me, people who are good, and people who need Him and don’t know it. The minute I take my eyes off of Him, the noise of the holiday cuts through with razor sharp claws and I begin to crumble. It’s all so exhausting.
So, I’m taking your face in my hands and moving in close. Hear me! If you’ve recently lost a loved one, give yourself a break. Your Christmas traditions will not be lost or rendered null and void if you simply skip them. As my husband used to say, “Things are only good for what they are good for.” If those traditions have sharp teeth at the moment, leave them lie. Or, if they are the just the thing that gets you through this time, then go ahead and mimic your way through them. Only you get to decide this. Find what keeps you from falling into the pit and hang on.
If you are a loved one of someone who has lost the love of his or her life, or a child, or a father or a mother, I’m pointing my finger at you and moving in close. Hear me! Take your cues from them. They are hurting and this hurt lasts a long time. Don’t push. Don’t judge. The only thing required of you is your presence. Be there! Is it hard to be around someone who might burst out in tears at the sight of cranberry sauce? Awkward, yes. But be there! Is it uncomfortable for you to hear them talk about the one they lost? Could be. But it’s not about you. Be there!
Like I said, this Christmas is a bit better for me. I’m staying home. All the kids and grandkids will be here. It’s time to reclaim some of our traditions. We are going to laugh a little, cry a little and eat a lot. We’re going to exchange gifts, which will undoubtedly remind us that one of us is missing. In fact, everything we do will remind us of that fact. So, we’ll just have to remember Gary. Tell stories about him. Laugh at his antics. Weep together. And, hang on tightly to each other during the rough spots.
Again, thank you for your company as I’ve walked this jagged road. Your love, support and encouragement have seen me through many blurry days. May our God bless you. May He continue holding us close. May we continue to find ways to make Him proud.
For Jesus,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Twin Tuesdays...

You’ve heard of “Taco Tuesdays” right? Well, I’ve got something better. I have “Twin Tuesdays”.  Every Tuesday I get to babysit my five-year-old twin granddaughters. I’ve been doing this since they were born. We have tea parties, lunch at Old Mac Donald’s (that’s what they call that Big Mac place), and we play various versions of hide-n-seek. It’s a great day.
What my twirling twins have made me realize is that many good things come in twos. Take this time of the year for instance. We’ve got Mary and Joseph, Baby Jesus and the manger. We have Peace and Good Will. Don’t forget the Star and the Angels. Oh, and then there’s the Shepherds and Wise Men. Of course the Wise Men showed up later, but better late than never, right?
What a miracle the manger scene became. At first glance, anyone peeking into the stable that night would have seen just another young family camping out in Bethlehem. They came by the hundreds back to their hometown to be counted and taxed by order of Caesar Augustus. But if one were truly observant, they would have noticed that the baby was a newborn, fresh from the hands of God. The mother was young, but confident beyond her years. And the father, more awe-struck than most new dads, for he had just assisted his young wife in the birth of the Son of God.
No, this was no ordinary little family. Mary was a virgin with child and Joseph had to be convinced by an angel to marry her. As the child drew his first breath, somewhere in the east a star appeared. I’m told it was like no other as it hovered big and bright and seemed to be pointing its’ twinkling fingers toward Bethlehem. A few miles way away from the manger, bedded down with their flock of sheep were shepherds. More than likely they were only teenagers really, the youngest in their families, sent out into the fields to babysit sheep. Their older brothers had more important things to attend to. Poor dears. Had they known what was going to happen that night, they would have shoved their little brothers aside and taken their place. At the baby’s first cry the heavens opened up right above the shepherd boys. Angels and Songs, another twosome I’d love to experience someday, drew near. Wings and fluttering. Lyrics and Proclamation.
“Glory to God in the highest...”sang the Heavenly Hosts.
I never tire of this true but incredible story. At age five, my twins know the Baby Jesus well. On Twin Tuesdays His name comes up quite often. They are curious and full of belief that all is as they’ve been told, right down to the swaddling clothes and the bright star. From this Christ-child other twosomes were later established such as: Repentance and Salvation. Miracles and Wonders. The Cross and Forgiveness. Resurrection and Promise. One day, these too, will become foundation of my twins’ life.
Twin Tuesday is my favorite day of the week.  It brings me laughter, relationship and it’s own miracle. And, the Christmas season never disappoints with its tinsel and icicles, carols and Christmas trees, and a silent night and prayer usually at the foot of my bed.
May you enjoy your own Christmas twosomes. String them together, connect their dots, and rejoice in the God who gave us the Babe.
Merry Christmas, friends.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Messiah in the manger...

What’s not to love about a baby, especially a newborn? Tiny cheeks as soft as rose pedals, those little squeaks and smacking noises they make, and then there’s that lovely moment when you lay them on your chest and they nuzzle in close as wisps of hair lightly brush your chin. Where your skin touches theirs a magical place opens up where love dwells and peace reigns.
And just think, Mary, held her newborn in such a way.
She was truly the most blessed among women. Actually, she was the most blessed among anyone. She was chosen by God to give birth to, nurture, and teach the Son of God. And, the good man, Joseph? God entrusted him to raise and protect the Messiah in the manger.
The night of His birth angels sang as they filled the night sky with brilliance and praise. And as the shepherds kneeled in the hay and gazed upon this newborn, did they know they were looking into the wrinkled face of God?
It’s Christmas. It is the time that the world has chosen to celebrate the birth of the Christ-child. Of course, we don’t really know the exact date of his birth. Does it matter? Where I attend church, Jesus, the babe, the rabbi, the preacher, the Savior, the Risen Christ is celebrated all year long. It’s why we gather. It’s why we remember Him in weekly communion. But it is comforting to know that there is a special season where the Son of God can be remembered openly by so many and with such joy.
The baby. The Son of God. He came. He walked among us. He taught. He challenged hearts. He ruffled feathers. He loved. He wept. He raised the dead. He held the children. He walked on water. He reprimanded the sea. He gave sight to the blind. He cleansed the leper. He loved the sinner. He loved fishermen, tent makers, doctors, and tax collectors. He loved Mary. He loved Susanna. He loved Martha. He loved Joanna. He enjoyed a good fish dinner. He washed feet. He prayed. He bowed. He replaced an ear. He was beaten. He carried a cross. He was spit on. He took care of His mother. He forgave. He cried out. He died, but not for long. He resurrected. He walked through walls. He cooked lunch for His friends. He commissioned. And finally, He went home.
But, on that starry night, all his mama knew for sure was that He was the most beautiful baby in the world. Everything else could wait.
In this Christmas season, I wish for you, dear friends, a moment of quiet, a starry night, and the distant singing of angels echoing off the breeze.
 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Remember the Jetsons? ,,,


Nellie Rose. She's two.
Today, I received a FaceTime call on my iPhone from my two-year-old granddaughter. Yeah, I’ve gone all-Jetson on myself. Remember the Jetsons? They were this quirky cartoon family from the future with flying cars, vacuum cleaners that ran themselves, and watches that talked and projected images on the wall. Doesn’t seem all that strange now though with Smartphones, Skype, Instagrams and what-not. We are all the Jetsons these days. Well, my little Nellie Rose thinks nothing of it when she actually sees her MeMe on the phone. She will never, ever know how to ‘dial’ a phone or know what a busy signal sounds like, yet her little pudgy finger already knows how to tap a phone to get her MeMe’s face to pop up on command.
Technology. I’m hanging on by a hair. I can feel the wave of it coming towards me and I’m going to either have to ride the wave or dive under it before it drowns me. It’s not that I can’t understand it, it’s that I simply no longer want to. I know what I need to know to get along and see no sense in knowing the difference between a broadband and a headband.
Gary was our resident techie. When he died, the music truly died around here. I can’t for the life of me figure out the password to get a CD to play from my computer through the wireless surround sound the Hubs has wired throughout the house. And, of course, it’s not really a CD at all, but rather some kind of airwave thingy that magically plays on iTunes through my computer. I’d give anything right now to take an album out of its cover and put it on the hi-fi turntable and gently place the needle on the vinyl. (I know, for those under 45, you have no clue what I just said.)
I miss my husband on many levels and in many, many ways. He was my shelter in a storm, my warmth against the cold, my strength when I was lacking. He was also my resident electrician, handyman, computer expert, picture hanger, and lawn guy. I discover new losses with each passing day.
The Hubs would have been tickled to see Nellie’s curly head pop up on his iPhone. That would’ve been right up his alley. I was pretty pleased myself. So, what did my granddaughter want when she called? She wanted to show me her new potty. It’s a big, red, ladybug thingy. She’s thrilled with it. So thrilled, she wanted me to see her potty on it. I did. The Jetsons would have been speechless.