Archive for December, 2007
South Jordan, Utah
I am sitting in Traci and Brandon’s living room with four little boys and their parents, with the TV on, kids screaming, people eating fresh cinnamon twists and Brad checking his blood sugar. Sloan is not feeling well and the other three are playing with the dog. Who knows how this Monday morning meanderings will turn out.
Item one. Today is the 13th anniversary of our son Paul’s death. Life for us has changed so much since that New Years Eve Day 13 years ago; we no longer live in the area, we have two new “children” and 4 grandsons and we are spending the day in Utah. In fact almost nothing is the same, 13 years later, except we are all together, as we always are on this day. This day is really no different than any other day, Paul is missed every day, but there is something about this day that brings a greater sense of loss and remembering than any other day. I try to think of Paul as a 29 year old man, with a wife and children but I still end up with pictures in my head of a 16 year old boy with a twinkle in his eye and a “happy go lucky attitude.”
Item two. This is the time of year for lists so here are 3 from Sports Illustrated. HERE
Item three. I recently read an excerpt from a book by Carol Kent called A New Kind of Normal (Thomas Nelson, 2007). She includes eight choices we can think about as we ponder what 2008 might be.
When despair tries to take me under … I choose life
When I wonder what God could possibly be thinking … I choose trust
When I desperately want relief from unrelenting reality … I choose perseverance
When I feel oppressed by my disappointment and sorrow … I choose gratitude
When I want to keep my feelings to myself … I choose vulnerability
When nothing goes according to my plan … I choose relinquishment
When I want to point the finger … I choose forgiveness
When I want to give up … I choose purposeful action.
Item four. I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness as 2007 comes to an end. For two years now, I have been trying to put some things behind me and as this year comes to an end I have been having some good success. There is something about New Years Eve that seems a natural time to put things behind you, to move on. In some ways it’s easier to say, harder to do. Over a couple of years time, so much baggage gets accumulated. too many memories, too many episodes.
I guess that is why forgiveness is the hardest part of life.
I am hopeful that in 2008 we can all learn more about forgiveness. I am hoping I can. I hope some people can finally let me go, you know who you are. I hope a few can forgive me for things I’ve done, and for things they think I’ve done. I hope I can move on in life.
Welcome to 2008. There are bridges to build. A few to mend, and even a few to burn. I hope this year I will also come to peace with where I am in life, and finally begin again to dream about what the future might be. I am thankful I have a future. I forgive you. Please forgive me.
There has been a lot of forgiveness in 2007, and it feels good. Who might you need to forgive?
Happy New Year!
South Jordan, Utah
When I was in Junior High, we lived in northern Alberta, Canada. This time of year it was about 20 below, snow and about 6 hours of daylight or less. Being here in Utah where it is cold and snowing has reminded me of those days. Dry snow crunching under foot and more coming down all the time. Going outside with Jake the dog is not as fun here as in Arizona!
Today, the day after Christmas is Boxing Day in Canada and most of other areas of the world settled by the British, with the exception being the USA. The name comes from the 19th century custom of giving boxes of food or money to servants or service people on the day after Christmas.
These days it is pretty much like it is here in this country, where everyone descends on the stores to return or exchange gifts and spend Christmas money. There are two days I refuse to go to the store-the day after Thanksgiving and Boxing Day. There is nothing I need bad enough to endure the crowds on those days. I do need to go to Home Depot or Lowes and the bank today. Maybe the crowds there will not be so big.
The Seattle Times has an excellent suggestion today, for we who don’t celebrate Boxing Day. They are suggesting that we take a box of something by an area food bank. This time of year these community services really get emptied out. Almost every community has one so why start a tradition and drop a box of something by your community food bank?
I was planning on putting these Christmas Prayers on the site yesterday but the post went a different direction so here they are now. I think it would be ok to pray them on Boxing Day.
O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Happy Boxing Day, eh?
South Jordan, Utah
It snowed quite a bit during the night but we had no trouble making it to Traci and Brandon’s house for breakfast and the first of two Christmas gift openings we will have this year. Brad and his family will not be here until Thursday so we will have another gift opening then.
Watching our three grandsons open gifts was fun. Eyob our newest grandson, direct from Ethiopia, had his first Christmas ever and that first Christmas was in America and with his brand new family. While it has not been easy, he doesn’t sleep well at night, he has had ear infections, intestinal parasites and other struggles, he is a wonderful little boy and such a great gift to our family. He was too young to appreciate what was going on but one day he will know.
The other two boys, Sloan and Sean eagerly went after the gifts, got over stimulated by the whole thing and had a hard time appreciating how special each gift was. Too much, too fast but as the week goes on and they can explore each new treasure they will enjoy it more and more.
Christmas is a time for gifts. Sure we spend too much, give more gifts than we need to and probably miss a lot of what gift giving is. But over time as the children grow they begin to understand more and gift giving becomes a treat rather than an expectation.
As I think about the Gift that initiates all this gift giving our reception of the Gift and our understanding of the importance of it is not all that different from the little boys this morning. When I first heard that God loved the world so much He gave His Son as a Gift, I did not appreciate it like I do today. As a young boy I knew enough to accept the free gift, but I didn’t know the implications of my acceptance of it. Over time, as I have explored the gift’s value, understood what it means to receive it, I enjoy it more and esteem it more.
Sloan and Sean got a couple of gifts this morning that might be better in a couple of years when they can appreciate what the toy can do. They could receive it, accept it, but they really can’t enjoy it. My relationship with the greatest of all Gifts, a Savior is much deeper and much more intimate today because I understand the cost, realize more of what my life would be without it and more than anything, I am old enough now to see with perspective just how extraordinary this Gift is.
Christmas gifts serve an eternal purpose. They teach us year by year the importance of and appreciation for what our parents and others do to give us these wonderful things, but more importantly they reflect the greatest Gift the world has ever known.
Of course, most of us spend to much, go way past any reasonable point of what is needed at the Christmas gift giving time, but the truth is our Father spent too much, went way past any reasonable point to give us the Gift of life and the privilege of enjoying that Gift for all of eternity. I am not suggesting that we continue to over spend at Christmas but I am suggesting that the illustration not be wasted.
As we open the extravagant array of gifts under our tree this year let it remind us that our Father is the most extravagant Gift giver there has ever been and He gives that way every day of the year. Accept the Gift and pass it on to every one you meet. This Gift never gets old, never loses it’s value and it is the only gift I know of that has eternal implications.
“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh” (Matthew 2:10-11)
As you enjoy your new treasures today and in the days to come remember the most extraordinary Gift they point too. Merry Christmas to you all and may you know the blessing of the Father during this very special season.
Fountain Hills, Arizona
I am writing this Christmas Sunday post, Saturday night, late. We are leaving early in the morning, driving north to Utah, to be with our children and grandchildren, for Christmas. We hope to spend some time at the Grand Canyon tomorrow and perhaps see some of the other sights along the way. We could drive it in one long day but we are taking at least two. The weather is always interesting this time of the year so we want to have time for the unforseen.
I find myself getting into the Gospel of John in fresh ways, this Christmas season, as I read it in the paraphrased Scriptures called the Message. Here is John 1:14: The Word (Jesus) became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. I like that moved into the neighborhood phrase a lot. I have been sitting here thinking about what it would be like for Jesus to move into this RV park where we have our 5th wheel parked. What space would He be in? What kind of RV would He be living in? Would I even recognize Him? Most of the people here are older then me, would He be too?
I was wondering if I knew He had moved into the park somewhere, but I didn’t know where, would I treat everyone better just to be sure I was nice to Him? As I write this there is a motor home parking behind us somewhere and I am thinking I should go out and help him get hooked up, since it is dark and cold and late. Besides what if it was Jesus, moving in?
Truth is, God is present in every person we come in contact with, whether they believe like us, look like us or act like us. The early church believers felt privileged to live in a world where they were the minority because they believed that it was through interactions with those outside the faith that they learned more about the Father.
I am thinking Jesus may already have moved in to our neighborhoods. Maybe we will find Him in the lonely senior adult who has no family this Christmas. Is He here in the frazzled single parent trying to balance child care, work, and the unending chore of keeping a home while making Christmas special for their children? Could He be present in the homeless person who sits with his cardboard sign hoping we will look at him when we are at his intersection? I suspect He is with us in the angry teen age boy with his pants around his knees and his skateboard under his arm.
If Jesus is with us at all during this season, that was intended to celebrate His birth, then I am thinking we will find Him in the “least of these…,” long before we find Him in the pageantry of our church services this Christmas Sunday.
There are only a couple of days until many of us will be sitting with our family and/or friends opening gifts, singing carols and eating festive food. Can we spare a little time to look and listen for the presence of the Savior in our neighborhoods and respond in ways that welcome Him?
Think I will go see who it is that has moved into my little RV neighborhood. Maybe he could use a little help-you never know.