Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How the Grudge Stole Christmas!

Every You down in You-ville liked Christmas a lot. But the Grudge, who lived inside of Youville, did NOT!

This imp does not live in a mountaintop mall. It lives in those, whose hearts are too small. Hearts that think Yous don't have their heads screwed on quite right, or don't walk in Yous shoes because they're too tight. Staring out from its cave deep in the heart, it hates the Yous that it thinks are not smart. 

The Yous hang their stockings with bright hopes for the future. But Grudge sneaks on in and quietly lurks there. It growls with its fingers nervously drumming. It must find a way to keep Christmas from coming. For Christmas you see is that special time when Yous get together and spend every dime. They make lots of noise with their hugs and their kisses, and sit down to a feast with their misters and misses. 

And THEN, Yous do something Grudge hates most of all! They stand hand in hand, the old and the small. If it doesn't do something to stop all this love, to break up Yous family and give it a shove, they will stand there together with Christmas bells ringing, and tidings of joy Yous will start singing.

It's disgusting to Grudge, the whole You-Christmas-Sing. For years upon years its put up with this thing. Then it got an idea, an awful idea, a God-awful reason to stop this whole season.

"I know just what to do!" The Grudge laughed in its throat. And it made a quick change to its hat and its coat. It slithered and slunk that old nasty serpent. With a smirk most unpleasant, it stole every present; the fun Yous all had when the weather was pleasant.

The unity found on an old tilted deck, Grudge smashed it to pieces and growled what the heck! The love Yous all shared, the feasts and the wine, Grudge didn't care, the nasty, old swine. The love and the joy, the peace and the patience, kindness and goodness, was now in all absence. The jokes, and the teasing, and funny kinfolk, Grudge breathed in the sulfur as it all rose in smoke.

Grudge grabbed all the hate, and it started to shove when it heard a small sound like the coo of a dove. It turned around fast, and it saw a small You! Swaddled in love, He was not more than two. The Grudge had been caught by this little toddler, who'd come from above with His living water. He stared at the Grudge and said, "Serpent, old banshee! Why are you taking the love from Yous family?"

But, you know, that old Grudge thought it was smart and so slick, it thought up a lie and it thought it up quick! "Why my sweet tot,"  the old Grudge sneered out, "You're only a light on a tree! You'll fade out." 

Then the last thing Grudge took was Yous log for their fire, and curled down deep in Yous heart, the old liar. On the walls of Yous hearts, he left nothing but looks and hot ire. "Pooh-pooh to the Yous!" Grudge was grudge-ish-ly humming. "They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming! 

"All the Yous down in Youville, they'll never be brothers! They'll all go on thinking, its not about others! That's a scene that I live for!" grinned the old judge, "All the Yous there in Youville holding a Grudge!" So, it paused and put a sludgy hand to its ear. All the sounds of a grudge it wanted to hear. The fighting, dissension, and self-righteousness, all the noises of You-ville holding a Grudge.

"Here it comes!" grimaced that growling old Grudge,  that smoldering sound of fiery drudge. It started in low. Then it started to grow. Grudge rubbed its hands with its face all aglow, stared out at You-ville, popped its eyes and then shook. Grudge couldn't believe the sight it partook. 

In the middle, the heart, of You-ville He stood, sharing with Yous all that He could. The joy and the peace from that tiny Tot put a stop to the Grudge right there on the spot. His love came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.

And what happened then...? Well...the Yous, they all say, that hearts down in You-ville grew three sizes that day! They brought back the presents, not for fair weather feasts...but for Christmas all year because they'd beaten that beast. The Grudge, it was puzzled, till its puzzler was sore. It packed up its grievance and was heard of no more. And the minute Yous heart didn't feel quite so right. They all loved one another with all of their might. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

I Survived Black Friday

Today my mind and emotions feel very much like Black Friday. They are rushing around in my head and heart like little shoppers.  Wrangling and crowding each other for the first place in line at odd hours, they pursue that number one gift or gadget that will make someone's day. 

Mine is peace. I have chased peace for as long as I can remember. Now, before you jump to a conclusion and yell, "You need Jesus!", let me say that I believe there is a major difference between knowing the Peace Maker and tackling peace. In this world we will continue to experience great difficulties and I do not find peace in those things. I do find peace in Jesus, but that does not annihilate the pain and heartache while waiting out the cold, dark hours.

While my thoughts scan the memory posts about happy blessings that many enjoyed on Thanksgiving day, my less than desirable experience finds me looking up toward Heaven and like Rosa, in the 1995 movie, Sabrina, saying, "So I ask to God why I am here. I say, 'Why God?' but there is no answer. So I stop crying. It takes eleven years!"

My eleven years has passed more than five times and just when I think dawn is breaking I discover it is only a lamppost in a parking lot. Darkness still looms on the horizon and I am once again caught up in a lengthy and profound pursuit of that ultimate gadget called peace. Alone in the dark I enter into a sovereign solitude and begin to study my surroundings. 

A lamppost not only provides illumination and reflection, but also, can serve as a marker. Whatever struggle drove us to the dark place is insignificant. What is important is that we are right where we are supposed to be. Without those markers in our life; those afflictions and millstones that drag us down, there would be no peace. 

In all the chaos of black Fridays we learn to surrender to that dark place sooner and abide there longer. It is in these somber circumstances, alone and cold, that we wait for the greatest abundance. Treasures at bargain prices; treasures such as patience, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, and love, all wrapped up in peace. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let's Talk Turkey

Our property joins that of our farmer neighbor. Like many others he rotates his crops every few years and hires migrant workers to harvest. Last year it was cabbage. Each morning with coffee in hand I watched the hirelings join together as a team to pick and pack those heads of the green leafy vegetable. A chuckle rose in my throat when they tossed the heads to one another more as a game than a job, and I listened to their tune as they whistled while they worked. Eventually the field was stripped and all that remained were dead heads and residual outer leaves which were quickly turned under by the colossal cultivator.

One morning after the harvesting was done I once again retreated to my porch swing. The air had turned crisp and an early haze hung over the empty farmland. There was no more laughter cracking the quiet, or whistled tunes competing with the sparrows. I was alone in the stillness and began to reflect upon the attitude of the workers. I realized they did not only harvest a cabbage crop but also reaped an atmosphere of gratitude. Their dominant mood was a positive work of artfully mastering dry, dusty labor into an environment of influence that lazily drifted into my back yard.

Thanksgiving Day is only a few hours away and we know that great gatherings and delicious dinners don't just happen. It requires some planning and preparation. And so does gratitude. But also in this we must leave room for hardship. 
H.U. Westermayer said, "The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."

Harvesting gratitude does not mean we disregard the labor of life. But that we leave the residual to the Colossal Cultivator. It doesn't mean that we are removed from the pain and suffering, or the disappointments and failures. Rather, it is a remedial remedy that acknowledges our struggles and gives us the strength to move beyond them and bring healing to our spirit. 
This Thanksgiving let the peace of Christ keep you in tune, and in step with each other as you cultivate thankfulness. Don't go off and do your own thing. Let love have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your life. And while you're at it, whistle a tune while you harvest your gratitude, dance to a little Plymouth Rock, and be thankful you're not a turkey :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today I'm Sad

~Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad. ~ Henry Wadsworth

~ You must be strong now. You must never give up. And when people make you cry and you are afraid of the dark, don't forget the light is always there ~

~ I cry with desperation ~ 

~ You know somebody, and they cry for you. They stay awake at night and dream of you. I bet you never even know they do, but somebody's crying for you ~

~ Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours ~

~ I laugh because I must not cry. That is all. That is all ~ Abraham Lincoln 

~ I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live ~

~ We grow through adversity. We need not seek it out; we can all look back at moments when our lives were in utter chaos, desolation and despair. Growth comes when we respond to adversity by stretching just an edge beyond our talent and experience." ~ Dr. Robert D. Wald

Friday, November 12, 2010

Snow, Snow, Snow Friday Five

My friend Singing Owl has this to say about the coming winter. "I am looking at the weather forecast with a sigh of resignation. You see, our glorious unseasonable stretch of sunny days is ending and rain mixed with snow is in the forecast. The weather guy actually said, "This is probably the last nice day till spring, folks..." So, I am trying to plan ahead. Help me out, please."

I'm always glad to help out a friend so here is what I do when it's cold outside:

1. What is your favorite movie for watching when curled up under a wooly blanket?
This time of year, it's hard for me to pick a favorite movie. There are so many wonderful ones that just feel like cold, and snow, and Christmas. But, under that wooly blanket; which by the way, would be red with lovely wide, white fur to match the dresses of 'the Haynes sisters', I would snuggle up to White Christmas.

2. Likewise, what book?
Light the fire, burn the candles, and get cozy for a book by Richard Paul Evans. I love to revisit the character Mary, because I too mourn the loss of a daughter. I weep each time I read about the letters in her Christmas Box, and the tears I shed are cleansing. 

3. What foods do you tend to cook/eat when it gets cold?

When the weather turns cold, I turn to soups, stews, and chili. My mother used to make mulligan stew. I wish I had the recipe because it was a childhood favorite of mine. I think she may have gotten the recipe from her Navy dad.   

4. What do you like to do if you get a "snow day" (or if you don't get snow days, what if you did)?

Ahh...the beauty of snow days. I tie back the curtains and love to watch the snow fall, blow, and drift into mounds of a white wonderland. The fire crackles, and I feel warm and free to do anything I please. It may be baking chocolate chip cookies, curling up with a good book and hot chocolate with tiny marshmallow pillows, or crocheting a new afghan.

5. Do you like winter sports or outdoor activities, or are you more likely to be inside playing a board game? Do you have a favorite (indoors or out)?
At fifty-eight with a broken thermostat I like to be inside. But, I have my old Arabian friend who likes  a clean stall and having his hay and grain served up proper, so I really don't mind donning my warm woolys and spending some time in the stable. Afterward, a warm fire, popcorn and a movie is a winter staple :)
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