Advent and Stones?

Standard

Advent and stones?

What might the connection be between dry, dusty stones and the restoration of a hopeless, weary world? You might thing this an oddly-timed question, especially as we’re revving up for that “most wonderful time of the year.” You know, “the hap-happiest season of all.”  Well, with all due respect to Andy Williams, as with much that God has for us, things are not always as they seem. Sharing an insightful meditation written by my daughter, Ginny, that – as you crack it open – I hope will encourage you.

Even The Stones

Merry Christmas!

A Thanksgiving Re-Tale, Retold

Standard

Thanksgiving 2017 has come and gone. No doubt, you’re braving local Black Friday retail merchant mosh pits, racing countless holiday screen-shoppers to grab Amazon Prime’s carefully timed, uncannily suggested, discounted cyber opportunities, setting up the Christmas tree, and spinning up your local FM easy listening station’s holiday music. All this excitement will leave you famished and you’ll stuff your lunchtime “sammiches” with L-Tryptophan-laced butterball leftovers. It is in the spirit of savory seasonal leftovers that I recycle an already several times told Thanksgiving re-tale.

A Thanksgiving Re-Tale

Thanksgiving 2009 has become the fixed north star on my timeline by which I recall, and in recalling, attempt to measure, weigh, and value God’s immeasurable, infinite and priceless faithfulness to me, and those human agencies through which He so abundantly has met so many of my otherwise unmeetable needs. At the top of my list of human agents is lovely, heroic Alice, my partner in life’s pilgrimmage. The host of names below hers is vast. As I remember you, and as you remember me, know that I love you all.

I also invite you to read an excellent Thanksgiving reflection written by my friend, Sam Frank Smith III.

Blackberries, or Bushes Afire?

 

A CHARLES’ DICKIE CHRISTMAS 4EDUX

Standard

Well, there we all are. Slightly more numerous than last year. Another grand-baby-boy with somewhat inconvenient Scandinavian citizenship, and another engaging daughter engaged, who will soon tie the lasso with a handsome Texan fiancé. God’s goodness has crowned our year.

heidel-christmas-2016Happy as we all may appear, do not be fooled. Several in this bunch are plotting, scheming mean gift-givers. Yep, MGGs. And though they oh so calmly deny it, the rest are MGGs in training. Once again, and to prepare any unsuspecting readers — or to remind all 9 of my followers — it’s often the closest relatives who give the meanest gifts. So, at gift exchange time, be on your guard. And trust no one. In this vein, I give you (for a fourth time I think) A Charles’ Dickie Christmas.

A Charles’ Dickie Christmas R3dux

Standard

Once again, headed to the holiday neighborhood literati bash at which all comers are to read or recite a Christmas-themed page or two, and at which the above tale has been read before. My want to be a paperback writer work product has been meager this past year. Sadly, that itself is a recurring theme. I did just happen to happen upon some interesting Icelandic lore I’ll bring along and throw down. Little known fact: all literati – aspiring and established – are intensely competitive. But, this year’s guest list is chock-full-o-newbies. So if the hostess permits, I may just recycle the above number. As most of you reading this are not on said guest list, and to prepare any unsuspecting readers (or to remind all 9 of my followers) for a close relative’s mean gift, I re-post, for a third time (I think)  A Charles’ Dickie Christmas.

A Thanksgiving Re-Tale, Retold

Standard

As the day unfolds in your own Thanksgiving time-space continuum, and as you determinedly brace yourself for too much turkey, you may already be anticipating the butterball leftovers that will stuff your lunchtime “sammiches” tomorrow. It is in the spirit of savory seasonal leftovers that I recycle an already several times told Thanksgiving re-tale.

A Thanksgiving Re-Tale

Thanksgiving 2009 has become the fixed north star on my timeline by which I recall, and in recalling, attempt to measure, weigh, and value God’s immeasurable, infinite and priceless faithfulness to me, and those human agencies through which He so abundantly has met so many of my otherwise unmeetable needs. At the top of my list of human agents is lovely, heroic Alice, my partner in life’s pilgrimmage. The host of names below hers is vast. As I remember you, and as you remember me, know that I love you all.

I also invite you to read my friend’s — Sam Frank Smith III — excellent Thanksgiving reflections.

Blackberries, or Bushes Afire?

 

Blackberries, Or Bushes Afire?

Standard

We await a smaller mob than most years – we’ll have 15 around the table. I cite a link to our Thanksgiving experience in 2009 I hope you’ll enjoy: https://wheeledwords.wordpress.com/category/gettin-by-lifestyle-changes-greater-independence/himalayan-expeditions-wheelchair-travel/

But also happy to step out of the way of my good friend, Frank Smith III, a far more gifted writer than I am, who emailed a spot-on and fresh Thanksgiving missive that I am pleased to share:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.

(Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Aurora Leigh,” Book VII)

I read Barrett’s beautiful poem again this morning, as I do every Thanksgiving since I discovered it. The poem says it all, and says it well.

So few have the eyes to see that, as the Seraphim cry out in Isaiah, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts… the whole earth is full of His glory.” Psalm 19:1 tells us, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.”

Take a few moments, and silently list just a few of the ways in which you are blessed every day. The tolling of distant church bells on a crystal clear, frosty night . . . the touch of a child’s hand, or a grandmother’s cheek . . . the warmth of a friend’s arm around your shoulder. The taste of a turkey that your beloved labored over for hours. An expanse of dark green, snow-capped forest under the rosy-pink of early dawn. A dog’s eyes, expectant and bright, when he brings the ball back for the fifteenth time.

Forgiveness. Loving-kindness. Justice. Grace under pressure. It’s hard to stop, isn’t it? This is our Father’s World. And how He reveals Himself to us, in it . . .

Yes, the world has fallen, and until Christ’s return, the creation groans: longing for things to be made right and for freedom from sin and death. There are wars, and rumors of wars, as there have been in every year since that Fall. Amidst the beauty thorns of many kinds and shapes sadly “infest the ground”.

But God’s amazing handiwork still shines through, causing awe and wonder to well up in our hearts and pour forth in thanksgiving. Praise Him.

And praise Him also, that even when sin and sinners mar His work . . . He has willed to redeem those actions for good. A far deeper good, a greater and more far-reaching good, in fact, than the enemy could ever imagine . . . and a good that will one day reflect His sovereignty and His wisdom and His love for all eternity.

Remember Joseph, whose dreadful fate turned into the salvation of his family, and his family’s people. And then, remember Jesus . . . ! And say out loud with Paul, as he marveled at God’s handiwork in Romans 8, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

So. See with new eyes, the handiwork of the One through whom all things were made, and have their being. And look also, as the Spirit even now moves and heals and transforms, and love grows in human hearts where there was none before, and God’s Kingdom advances.

And watch as Our Lord — already victor over sin and death — continues to roll back the darkness and prepare our world for His Second Coming: that time in which, as John writes in Revelations, ” . . . He will dwell with (men). They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them, and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes . . . and there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying in pain, for the old order of things will have passed away” (Rev. 21: 3-4).

See, look, watch . . . and be thankful.

A Charles’ Dickie Christmas

Standard

He explained he wasn’t real sure how the tradition began, but over the years, while enjoying all the commercial glam of Christmas, he and his sisters took especially great pleasure in giving one mean gift at Christmas. Dianne loathed pork rinds, and Sue’s gag reflex took over at the mere mention of mushrooms. He had a rash-causing aversion to those false turtleneck sweater fronts, known as “dickies.”

These dislikes were known by all. Each had honed his and her ability to leverage them to great effect, going to great lengths to be opportunistically mean gift givers. There was the Christmas Dianne received Li’l Abner Pork Rinds disguised as Eagle Brand Premium chips. Another year, Sue received a stunning pair of dehydrated mushroom earrings presented in a luxurious blue velvet Hartzburg’s jewelry box.

“Why, poppa! Christmas isn’t supposed to be mean!” his little cherub-daughter exclaimed. “Why did you dit a dickie?”

Hearing her question, he was transported back in time . . . .

Charles stood nervously on the edge of the Michigan playground. His dad’s company had moved him from the metropolitan prairies of Shawnee Mission, Kansas – a mid-year move that placed him in a new school setting just before the Christmas holiday break. Trailwood Elementary. Day one. Recess. Clear. Bright sun. Windy. Cold. A game of tag had sprung up, and the primary grade herd stampeded, like so many zebras running from a lion. That lion was J.R. Franks. Big, bad J.R. Franks. The BMSGOC – that’s right, the Biggest, Meanest Sixth-Grader on Campus.

Tag in the Michigan winter, in between snowfalls, when the snow and ice melted enough for the pavement to reappear was J.R.’s specialty. J.R., quite simply, was just not very nice. When he wasn’t limited to merely pelting you with snowballs, he was famous for his speed, agility and vice-grip. In dry conditions, he could catch any one, but he especially targeted schoolmates who wore turtlenecks – Michigan’s de rigueur winter wear and easily accessible even when his victims wore their winter coats. He had four main objectives when in tag-pursuit: Spot a turtleneck. Yank the turtleneck up from behind, then down suddenly over his victim’s head. Smear the hair. And, untuck the shirt’s bottom hem from slacks or skirt.

As the kids scattered, J.R. rocketed toward the Trailwood newbie, and locked onto his royal blue lycra-reinforced rib knit collar. Flat-footed, Charles was no match for J.R.’s intercept speed. Coming from out of the sun with Charles at four o’clock low, J.R. gripped the royal blue lycra-reinforced rib knit collar and yanked. Charles’ head disappeared into the fabric sleeve, and he went down like a steer hooked by a bulldogger.

Still in full stride, J.R. assessed the effect of his blitzkrieg attack. Head and face covered? “Check.” Smeared hair? “High probability.” Shirt untucked? “Negative! I say again, Negative! Wait! What’s this in my hand? Wing Commander, we have a dickie!”

Charles’ mother thought dickies were very practical Michigan winter-wear. But at that moment, as J.R. was joined by a mob of classmate zebras, all gleefully braying, “What the heck? What the heck? Can’t afford a turtleneck?!?” his faith and trust in his mother was severely shaken.

Over the years, he would warily scan the packages under the tree, wondering which of them would reveal the decoyed dickie. He was skilled at locating the soon to offend package. It was always conspicuously light, and silent when shaken. He’d only missed his mark one year, when Sue crocheted a dickie on a ceramic duck ornament hung weeks earlier on the Christmas tree.

As the family members each opened respective gifts, Sue’s mushroom earrings, Dianne’s premium pork rinds, and his camoflaged dickie were inevitably discovered, drawing predictable laughter from all.

The Christmas Charles recived the first dickie, as his stack of opened gifts grew, he slipped the dickie out of sight to be destroyed. Later, when no one was looking, he’d burn it, or toss it in the trash. Given parental mandates in force at that time, concerning the proper use of matches and other incendiaries, burning it wasn’t practical. So, into the trash it went. In fact, it wasn’t buried deeply enough in the trash and so Sue would easily retrieve it. He would receive the same dickie the next year. This time, he’d bury it at the bottom of the trash. Sue would still find it, and he would receive the same dickie again the next year. So, he would hide it in his dresser – back right corner of the sock drawer – never suspecting that his mother was a treasonous double agent. She was, after all, intimately familiar with his dresser drawers, and kept them stocked on laundry day. Next year, same dickie.

The years passed by. Family members aged and passed on. Children were born. Mean-gifting sisters became “beloved Aunties,” and the long-practiced, much refined tradition of mean gift giving seemed to wane.

To this day, however, in anticipation of and at Christmas gatherings, the younger generation still asks for and listens with rapt attention to the pork rind, mushroom and dickie lore secretly hoping at least one package will reveal the famous Christmas Dickie.

Written 12/2008.