Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Poignently Blessed Christmas

Though I knew Christmas was getting closer by the minute, I still had much to do, much to start. But getting started appeared to be the problem (for one reason, see previous post). I enjoyed shopping and doing for those in true need. And baking bread for my neighbors was fun. But things like Christmas cards and tree decorating just didn’t get accomplished. I did put up a nativity set, but that was the extent of my decorating for the holy day in my house.

The big thought this season has been to go home to my mom. Funny, I’ve only visited the house where she now lives but the peace I feel here called to me like coming home. Finally, last Friday, I had a real heart-to-heart with my Abba. I didn’t think I was feeling depressed but I was longing. I think I even surprised myself when I told Him I miss my Ian.

Ian used to help me decorate. He had an eye for it and made it fun. I remember coming in from work one December day in 1998 to find my 15 year old son hunched up on the kitchen counter by the phone, receiver in hand, with his eyes glued to the TV.

“What in the world are you doing?”

“I’m going to win the contest on that show.” And he did—a family pack to visit the Imax theatre to see The Nutcracker--his Christmas gift to us. I still smile thinking of him there.

But that was his last Christmas. And now I miss my son, just like I do every Christmas. Like I do every day.

But in verbalizing it to my Abba, He reminded me that He also missed His Son that first Christmas. How loving that God would share that intimacy. He truly understands.
He sent his son to a hurting world knowing that world would hurt him. And He did it for me. And you. And my Ian, who no longer hurts. I will see Ian again and I will celebrate Christmas with the angels one day where I can see and touch and hug the guest of honor, my Savior. My Jesus.

In the meantime, I have enjoyed Christmas here today with my family. To you, my husband, my daughters, my mom, my Norman, my 99-year-old grandmother, my aunt and uncle: I love you. To my sister, my brothers, nephews, nieces, in-laws, and friends: even though we're apart on this day, you are still in my heart. Each of you please know, next to salvation, you are the greatest blessings in my life.

And to you, dear reader, may the Christ of that first Christmas live and grow in your hearts, filling all of your new years with Abundant Blessings!

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Allure of Procrastination

What is it about procrastination that seems to call at the most inopportune times? I’ve been chomping at the bit to have some uninterrupted writing time and now that I do, I find so many other things that need doing. It’s not that I don’t want to write—the Lord knows I do. I guess I feel a bit like the Apostle Paul. What I want to do, I don’t do. What I don’t want to do, I do. Wretched woman that I am! Who will get me off this merry-go-round?

Though misery loves company, I find no comfort in knowing this problem has been plaguing mankind (and womankind) for eons before Scarlet O’Hara announced, “tomorrow is another day.” Aesop’s tale about the hard-working ants and the lazy grasshopper tried to teach industriousness to Greek procrastinators before the time of Christ. The problem’s been around a bit, huh?

And, though I’m a card-carrying member of the club (and I think I recognize a few of you out there from the meetings) I’m going to try something new. An old year’s resolution—only have to keep it a couple weeks. That way I may have a chance. I will read my e-mail before 9:00 a.m. and not again until 3:00 p.m. No AIM until after sundown (sorry Jen and Malia, but at least the sun goes down earlier these days). Blog reading only on Saturdays. And no TV until I’ve put in at least 1000 words (2500 would be better but I have to make this doable).

So, we’ll see how this goes. Now, when to start? Tomorrow sounds good, don’t you think?

Abundant blessings,

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Joy to the World!

The excitement is mounting. Can you feel it in the air? I’m counting the days. How about you? Yep, five more days of school until Winter Break. Yea!

Ever wonder when Christmas Break turned into Winter Break?

So many things are different now.

I went shopping today and found a bell ringer. That made my day. I’ve actually stopped shopping at stores that don’t allow the bell ringers. One in particular carries my favorite candy bar. Dark chocolate with espresso—what’s not to love? But I do without. It’s the principle of the thing, an imagined sacrifice. I’ve been sacrificing for more than a year now. For those of you who think my sacrifice paltry, you must not be true chocoholics. One day at a time, my friend.

Chances are you have also received the e-mail decrying how political correctness has gone too far. I won’t repeat it all here but suffice it to say, my greeting is still “Merry Christmas.” I say it more for myself than anyone else. It reminds me this isn’t about Winter Break or two weeks without five year olds or even large chunks of writing time.

It isn’t even about me.

And yet it is about me.

And you.

And everyone on earth.

God sent His Son to us, to draw us to Him, to save us, to die for us, to live for us. Isn’t that enough cause to say Merry Christmas? Or better yet, Joy to the World! The Lord is come! Let Earth, and all of us, receive our King with gratitude and excitement.

Merry Christmas and Abundant blessings,

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I've Been Tagged

I’ve Been Tagged

Okay, I’m not sure who started this but I blame Mike Snyder. Doesn’t have to be fair, I just blame him. And Jen Tiszai. I blame her, too. And now that I’ve been tagged, I’m passing it on. Here are my seven sevens. Enjoy! And be sure to go back and check the other blogs for their info, too.

Seven Things I Want to Do Before I Die
1. Finish writing all the books in my head—and write them well.
2. See my daughters happily married to good and godly men and have children of their own—best revenge;-)
3. Play with my grandchildren (none of which exist yet)
4. Return to Ireland and really see it for more than 3 days.
5. Go to my grandfather’s home in Sweden
6. See more of London than just Heathrow and surrounding area
7. Tour Versailles

Seven Things I Cannot Do
This is hard. I really subscribe to I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. But if I think about what I can’t do without Him?—then there’s way more than 7. OK, I’ll come up with something.
1. Organize or Plan in a quick, methodical way
2. Make my loved ones surrender to Jesus
3. Lose weight and keep it off—this is really posturing. I know I can lose the weight if I put total focus on it and let the rest of my world fall apart
4. Go more than a day without some form of chocolate—again, I really could but it wouldn’t be pretty
5. Retire from teaching and work full-time writing
6. Stay away from my computer
7. Resist my husband

Seven Things That Attracted Me to My Husband
1. His blue eyes
2. His sense of humor
3. His intelliegence
4. His long legs
5. His compassion
6. How he makes me feel safe
7. Oh, yeah, and his kiss (OH, yeah)

Seven Things I Say Most Often
1. Knock it off
2. No kissing in Kindergarten
3. I’m never going to get this book finished!
4. Can’t type worth beans
5. lthtt –laughing too hard to type
6. what meeting?
7. Man, I have to cook again? Didn’t I just do that last week?

Seven Books I Love— Like Jen, this is besides the Bible. And I know I’m leaving out lots I really love but am too tired to think clearly at the moment. And these are only including books that have been published or I’d have to make the list longer.
1. Anything written by Liz Curtis Higgs
2. Randy Ingermanson’s City of God series
3. My Utmost for His Highest
4. Les Miserables--yep,I read the unabridged version but in English
5. Jane Austin books
6. Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury series
7. Anything written by Linda Windsor

Seven Movies I Would Watch Over and Over Again
1. Fools Rush In
2. Wonderworks version of A Little Princess
3. The Sting
4. The Philadelphia Story
5. Rear Window
6. It’s a Wonderful Life
7. Last of The Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis

Seven People I Want to Join In Too
1. Randy Ingermanson
2. Linda Windsor
3. Allison Bottke
4. Tiff Miller
5. Greg Williamson
6. Cheryl Wilford
7. Phil Cary

By the way, I do not plan to post more than once a week but this crept up on me. In the future, I want to continue to have a new post on Saturdays. Hope this brings a laugh.

Abundant blessings,

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Peeves and Blessings

This past week I discovered a running topic—at school, on a writer’s loop—and it has me thinking. A dangerous thing to do, as my husband would tell you. The topic wove through different categories but the central issue rested on pet peeves. A few of mine cropped up and I’d like to vent…I mean share.

One of my pet peeves has to do with those who are in the spotlight, speaking from a platform of intelligence and authority (evening news, politicians, experts) and they can’t even pronounce the word “often” correctly. It’s not that hard. I know it comes up as a fourth grade spelling word when studying words with silent letters. So why do adults, who surely have gone to school for longer than a high school diploma, insist on pronouncing the word as if the /t/ is vocalized? Huh?

And why must teachers, who have taught for decades and have more certifications than you or I can shake a stick at, need to prove they have enough credentials to be allowed to pay $100+ for one more certificate just to be allowed do the job they were already doing? (Long, ugly sentence—longer, uglier story)

And why is it that when I finally get a chance to work on my writing, I have an inbox overflowing with e-mail just dying to be answered, or unexpected company, or even more unexpected illness. Not fair.

I’ve caught myself feeling peevish about these and other things this week. Funny how once you get started it kind of snowballs into an avalanche of peeves.

Thankfully, I’ve found a solution.

Remember Paul’s instructions to the Philippian Church? “…whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” If I put my mind on the things of God, I can start to be grateful for living in a time where information can be provided so easily, that I have a job where I can touch so many lives (hopefully in a way that lifts Jesus up), and for the stories in my head, the visitors in my home, having a home and relatively good health. That is way more than many can claim and I’m seriously remiss in thanking my Abba for His abundant blessings all around when I focus on the irritants.

So, what to do when you come down with a case of the peeves? Do what I’m learning to do, count your blessings—old song, better idea.

Here’s wishing you lots to count.

Abundant blessings,

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Shoes That Click to My Clack

I love Mr. Magoo.

The perennial favorite, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol thrilled me each December while I grew up, or rather got older (I’ve been told I’ve yet to grow up). But as an adult, the video, and later, DVD, were unavailable each Christmas when I looked. And I looked for several years.

My kids and even my husband could not understand my need to find what they considered an old, silly cartoon. When feeling nostalgic, they preferred Charlie Brown or Rudolph. And I enjoy those as well, but something about Mr. Magoo called to me and my search continued.

Last Christmas I found him. I bought both the DVD and VHS plus a couple extra to share with others. I rushed home and popped him in the player and curled up ready to enjoy.

It wasn’t long before I figured out the pull. I related to Mr. Magoo’s Scrooge on so many levels. And when young Ebenezer sang from his heart, the words came back in a rush and I sang along. There was a time I wondered if there would be shoes that clicked to my clack. I felt alone in the world quite often as a child in spite of my loving family.

But God never wastes a tear, even those shed during a cartoon. I know this tenderhearted mush has driven my family nuts at times but it has allowed me to understand my characters at a deeper level. Even when my writing lacked the mechanics needed to make a decent novel, readers still empathized with the characters.

Yet more important and immediate, it has allowed me to reach out to my students and their parents. I tease my class that they may not move doing the school year since their teacher has abandonment issues (imagine Kindergarteners going home and explaining abandonment issues to their parents). But the truth is we all long to belong, to fit in. Even the rebel who goes out of her way to be apart for fear she won’t fit in is really longing to find her place in the world. And I’m not talking a cookie cutter mentality but an acceptance of who we are, uniquely designed by our Creator to be.

It is not good for man—or woman or child—to be alone.

Mr. Magoo will always be my favorite Ebenezer Scrooge. But more important, I’m grateful for shoes that click to my clack and not being alone in the world. Thank you, Abba.

Abundant blessings,


Friday, November 25, 2005

To Blog or Not to Blog...

They say change can be good. All I know is change makes things different and for a creature of habit like myself, that ain't good. But with a heart full of gratitude and the wonder of the season upon me, I'm stepping out and taking a chance. I've started a blog.

Now comes the part where I need something witty and clever to share with a reader, in case there is a reader.

Actually I think it is God Who is so witty. He knows just how to get my attention and share the moment. Like a couple weeks ago, it was my turn for bike rack duty at school. Outside, when I should be setting up my room, left me antsy. But, wouldn't you know it, I started to have fun watching the families arrive for school. Funny thing, so many are learning English as they go. The language they speak at home can vary from Spanish to Arabic to Vietnamese, to Romanian (you get the idea). Yet, I understood them as they passed by. Why? The smiles, the nods, the kisses on the cheek while the 6th grader squirms. Mom grins and rubbs the kiss in for safe keeping.

The snapshot in time that stuck with me, though, included a mom and two daughters. The girls pranced and skipped while mom held their hands, two backpacks slung over her shoulders, a smile gracing her face.

That's when God tapped me on the shoulder. He didn't need to say a word. I knew. I must look like that at times, skipping and prancing beside my Abba while He carries my heavy backpack. Those are times of rejoicing and delight for both of us. Of course, there are the days I want to be all grown up and independant and carry my backpack on my own. It doesn't take me too long, usually , to realize if I give the burden to my Abba, He will help me and lighten my step on this journey of life.

Yep, it’s funny how God changed bike rack duty into a shared moment of insight with Him. So, maybe change has its good points. Especially when walking along with my Abba, and letting Him carry the burdens. Of course, just because He made bike rack duty fun, doesn’t mean He’ll do the same for blogging—then again… So, if He gives me more, I’ll be back. Until then,

Abundant blessings,

Wednesday, November 23, 2005