Monthly Archives: December 2013

Aside

little-girl-talking-on-phoneMy sister and I talk on the phone every day.  It started 2 years ago when we both needed encouragement. She was sick, and I was heart-sick (I have kids, y’know).  So across two states, we helped each other rise up and walk each morning.  Our problems were each other’s much-needed distraction.  As mutual counselors, we offered profound words of support and wisdom like:  “Oh my gosh!!  Are you kidding me?  You poor thing!!”  With each rehashing of our personal angsts, the clouds lifted, until we could see Our Father, Who Art in Heaven.  And guess what?  We came through.  Soaked to the skin with mascara running, we pulled each other along, and made it home to the fire.

We still talk daily, discussing international disasters such as the annihilate of all living, breathing books by way of Kindle;  the hostile takeover of women’s fashions by Ugly-As-Sin, Inc. and solving physics equations like why peeling a potato towards your body is faster and more efficient than peeling it away from your body. We laugh uproariously at our depictions of life’s insults and injuries; we listen, nudging each other toward the Truth; and we remind each other to love and pray.

When we hang up, we go about the business of  doing the next thing, be it dishes, or laundry or fixing a cup of coffee for the one we love, always with the knowledge that there’s someone on the other side of speed dial cheering us on to the finish.

Isolation leads to a hardened cynicism toward  life, people and ultimately, God.  The Bible tells us so,  and gives us the remedy:

“…Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)

We are each other’s sister, blood or otherwise.  Pick up the phone and practice your listening skills.  It’s your call.

Call, Girls

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All Tinseled Out

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dead-christmas-treeMy Christmas tree is giving it all she’s got. She’s the cheerleader in a game that’s gone into overtime, with no hope of a comeback-not this year, anyway.  The bling is still there, the colors and lights, but underneath it all, she’s tired, very tired.  How can we not feel a bit of let-down, staring at Christmas Past?  Swallow that leftover stale cookie with a cup of seasonal flu, and unwrap that final gift-the one that keeps on giving-guilt (for the things we didn’t get done, and the things we’ll never do),  and we’ve got a perfect set-up for depression.  If I’m feeling it, I suspect others are, too.  So I am asking God to remind me of you by name, and praying that the comfort and joy found under that other tree, the Calvary Evergreen, will be yours as you spend time beneath it today.  Let’s meet there in spirit, to worship, and to pray. Then like children who’ve suddenly remembered their security blanket, we’ll be all better now, wrapped in Him.

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.”  Psalm 91:4a

Hang Whatever

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A phone conversation between John and I, two days ago:

Me (in California):  Hi my love….you sound tired…are you okay?

John:  Uhhh, yeah…well, I was just cleaning up some stuff…. A tree fell down.

Me (visualizing our yard):  Oh, wow.  Which tree?

John:  The Christmas tree.

Me: Ooooooooh (groan).  How did that happen?

John:  I don’t know.  I barely touched it.  I was getting ready to water it.

Me:  Oh good- so you caught it?

John:  I had a big pitcher of water in my hands.

Me: Oh.

John: Yeah.  So…it’s definitely gonna need your special touch.  I put all the ornament on the coffee table.

Me:  Okay, I don’t want to hear anymore news from home.  I’m sorry.  I love you.  Put the ornaments back on the tree.  Miss you. Bye.

 

He picks me up close to midnight from the airport.  As we pull into the driveway,  I can see the tree through our vaulted window.  There’s an odd look to it.  The large, lighted star tree-topper dangles by its cord half-way down the tree upside down, Masonic-style, for all the neighbors to behold.  I’m inside the house now, inspecting the damage. Branches are smashed on one side, leaving gaping holes, the tinsel I so carefully placed thread by thread, looks like a very bad hair cut with clumps and bald spots.  Ornaments are stockpiled nearby. 

 

It’s late-or early, depending how you look at it.  I’ve just traveled from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Phoenix to Salt Lake and my baggage is still in one of those places.  I’m a wee bit testy as I inspect what’s left of my Magnum Opus.  John, attempting to head-off the inevitable mentions a little too cheerfully something about Charlie Brown, to which I respond, “that’s NOT what I had in mind when I spent all those HOURS DECORATING THE THING!!!!”

 

This looks like a scene from Skipping Christmas, as the mom flies into panic mode.  Or Rambo.  I drop my travel backpack and go from frozen alarm to Mother-Whose-Kids-Are-Coming-Home-For-The-First-Time-Since-Christ-Was-Born mode and scoop up an armful of shiny balls barking to John and Tim, “Here- just HANG WHATEVER!”  To which John dryly replies, “Okay. Someone get the noose…”  

 

After all, his day has been no picnic.  Have you ever tried wresting a decorated tree back into a too-small tree holder filled with water by yourself while simultaneously preparing a sermon?  Me neither.

 

It’s just a Christmas tree, but isn’t this a great analogy of life in general?  We carefully plan, work, spend, take pride in all we’ve accomplished (it WAS a beautiful work of art, that tree) and in one fell swoop, our monuments to self, and our expectations- which my sister so aptly calls “planned disappointments”- come tumbling down?  What ’twas, is no longer.  

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers work in vain.”  Ain’t THAT the truth.  And even when He does build the house, stuff happens.  But there’s always GRACE.

Not one ornament on the tree was broken.  A little miracle, that. 

So, I’m not gonna “fix” the tree.  I’m enjoying the irony.  John and I spent some time this morning in prayer and in the Word, by the glow of our broken tree.  I made him a latte, and one for me, too. 

Emmanuel- God with us. 

Merry Christmas. 

A Chance of Snow

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Snow is the great equalizer. Finally our yard looks as good as our neighbors. Walking to the bus stop today (with ski poles), I was appreciating the attributes of snow and thinking about a verse in Isaiah 1 “though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be white as snow…” Snow reflects light, covers a multitude of ugliness (the dead leaves in the yard, for instance), creates vivid contrast to darkness, and clears the air. Snow is quiet, beautiful and a true white. If you’ve ever gone to a paint store, you know what I mean. “White as snow, though our sins are as scarlet”… It’s God’s handiwork, inside and out. I’m so thankful.  

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