The Sights and Sounds (and I wish smells!) of Christmas in our world…

Well, I said yesterday that it has been busy, although not terribly hectic. I’ve posted a few things on Facebook about our activities, but thought I would take advantage of this venue for a little more of a peek.

We had our wonderful Christmas program at church, which I mentioned, but let’s see if I can get the video on here….

That was so fun! I can’t help but grin when I watch Sammy, and Nate and Zach seem so mature. We love our fellowship, and the Christmas program is always a blessing.

This year the theme is Joy to the World, and I find myself filled with a sense of joy and excitement when I am in the midst of this people.

Today was the first of the Christmas parties for school.  Three years ago Nate’s kindergarten class came through for a progressive party, and I guess we established a tradition. Sammy is the kindergartner now, with the same teacher…the wonderful Mrs. Burris. His giggling group of 5 year olds appeared this morning.

I was up at 5am making cookies.

The house smelled sooooo good and looked cheerful and warm, especially on a drizzly grey day.

Sammy was a little excited!!


Nothing better than kids at Christmas time, and it is a blessing to be able to have the group at the house. They all had fun decorating cookies, and that made me think of Christmases growing up when we made literally hundreds of cookies, carrying them around to the neighbors. Maybe that is a tradition that needs to be renewed….

After the kids left our place they went to another home for a craft and then I met them at their next stop…a nursing home. They were a little tentative when they first walked in, but several of the guests responded quickly and the kids warmed up. The children sang several carols and I could hear a couple of the people singing along.

After they sang a few songs the kids came out and handed Christmas cards they had made to the guests, wishing them a Merry Christmas.


After they had handed out the Christmas cards, there was one woman who wanted to hug the children. She was the most responsive of all the guests and had been singing along. As the kids would come up she would take their little heads in her hands and kiss them on top of the head. It made me wonder what stories she had and what her knowledge of our Savior was.


It was a great moment to see Sammy so at ease interacting…this is my boy who does not like to be noticed (I know, you’d never know that). He is coming out of his shell and becoming a great kid. Here’s the woman the children were hugging:


So the sights have been filled with images of the children celebrating Christmas and being aware of those around them. Being aware of the single mom the other day with the six children. Being aware of the neighbors who were evicted from their home because of lack of employment. Being aware of the delights of decorating cookies with friends, of singing songs and riding buses on field trips and of how much a hug and a smile can mean to someone aching for some contact.


I know I posted a lot of pictures in this entry, and I was aware as I took them that there is this deep desire to “capture the moment”. Great company tagline. It’s true though. I take these pictures and these videos because there is an awareness that all of this goes so quickly, and I want to hold on to it a bit longer. I want to be able to reflect and look back and enjoy these moments again.


Hoping that the sights and sounds, and yes even smells, in your venue are bringing delight as we near the day to shout and celebrate that our King came, and will come again.

Checking in during this busy season….

Well….how are we doing with being simplified and not giving in to the stress of the season?

Actually, I have been extremely busy, but I have not felt stressed as much as usual. Right at this moment the house looks like it has awakened to the season. My mom used to always say that the house came alive for Christmas, and I think she is right. These walls contain so much….laughter and joy alongside the fears and struggles. Still, there is something about twinkling lights and trees brought inside that changes everything.

Last night we had our Christmas program for the church. It is not a play, but a program of various musical acts, poetry reading and a short message from our pastor. We have loads of talent in the congregation and the program is always fun, but this year I have watched the kids song probably 20 times and grin every time. The kids have a blast. Our theme was Joy to the World, and that was surely evident.

Still, as we came home we noted the house next door. The people have spent the last several days moving everything out. No Christmas decorations up and no radios blaring Christmas music. They were evicted three weeks ago and had to be out today. There was a sobriety about their activities and I watched as Sammy played with two of the kids for the last time. The youngest had been his best buddy for the last three years. I have no idea what will happen with them. We’ve offered what help we could think of…a job possibility…but that was not engaged. So, they’ll move on to the next stage and I’m sure will come to mind over the years as we wonder what happened to them.

I can’t help but thinking that the kids will always remember this Christmas as the one they had to leave their home. They have family, and I know they have a place to go. Praying that they are able to recover.

We also had lunch on Saturday with a woman we “adopted” through a friends’ ministry. She is married, but her husband is not very involved. She is 23 and has 6 kids under the age of 6. It would be easy for me to pass her off and judge her. It’s a lot harder to do that after sitting and having a meal with her at McDonalds. She has a name and face to me now and I know her story better, and I know she is trying. We brought our kids and I was so proud of my little men. Zachary was quick to open doors and to jump up and pick up dropped toys for her children. When there was an issue on the playset he took care of it without being prompted, so Steve and I could stay and talk with the woman. Nate put her at ease immediately with his quick conversation and easy laugh. Sammy observed more than anything, but played with the kids.

So, Christmas here is a mix. An awareness of struggle around us and yet joy in our midst and laughter and delight. Praying that God meets us each in our specific situation. Praying that He envelopes us in joy that is deeper than immediate gratification of purchases, that He meets us in the moments of silence and reminds us of the amazing fact of the Incarnation. Praying for those who are struggling that He brings those who are able to help and prompts us to act. Praying for great moments of grace and for miracles to abound. Praying for our faith to be enlivened as we sit in the glow of houses decorated and spirits filled with good cheer.

Praying that we don’t miss the moments in the midst of the busyness. That we are able to listen well even in all the chatter…..and to be amazed a little more than usual.

Things I Never Would Have Thought….

So, my friend Michael has a recurring post on his blog called “Things I Think.”  It has been long running and is even developing into a book.


Of course, I would look silly if I just copied him. So, I thought I’d do a post on the things I never thought I would have thought.  😉  See how clever I can be!


Shall we?


1. I truly never thought I would be so happy “just” being mom. Right up until the time I met Steve and got married, even up until the time our oldest boy was born, I never pictured myself as being dominated by being mom. I always wanted to have kids, but it was never a huge drive, and I always thought motherhood would be an addition.  It’s not.  It has utterly changed who I am. I am astounded by my kids continually…they are amazing little souls. As our curate Kim Thomas says, they are wonderful little image bearers.


2. I never thought I would do anything other than radio. I worked in radio in some form or fashion for around 13 years. Those were formative years…through college and my early adult years. I always assumed that I would be involved in radio in some way. Then I found myself not doing so well in that career after moving to Nashville. There were moments when that was overwhelming and an enormous identity crisis. Then that went away and I found out there were other things I was better at doing.


3. I never thought my first attempt at making tamales would be so time consuming and so rewarding. They are sitting on the stove top right now. They just finished steaming. I tested one because I’m taking them to Biblestudy tonight, and I couldn’t poison the group. They’re really good. And the smell really good. And it’s hard to eat just one.


4. I never thought I would hear that a neighbor was being evicted from their house and have it be part of the normal activity of life. The trouble that so many are facing, and how near that trouble is to almost all of us, is frightening. I guess part of it is simply growing up and being aware of the struggles of others, but I can’t get past the thought that those kids will always remember this as the Christmas when they got kicked out of their house.


5. I never thought I would love having a little girl this much. It is hard to get anything done because she is simply delightful and I want to lay around on the floor and giggle and talk to her. There’s not much more I’d like to do.


6. I never thought I would be thinking this seriously about homeschooling. Again, just never crossed my mind before kids. Now, I am getting excited about the possibility, although it is still just a possibility. Working out my thinking on that still, and praying with Steve about what our plan is.


7. I never thought I would think about going to a church other than Calvary Chapel. I spent most of my early Christian adulthood in Calvary Chapel…Albuquerque, Santa Barbara and here in Nashville. I had some fantastic times there and made some lifelong friends. I learned a lot and especially in Santa Barbara I was cared for with great patience.  When I went to Regent I began to read authors that were not on the accepted list that often in Calvary. I found out that there were some I could both disagree and agree with, and it didn’t kill me. Now, the church we are part of here is similar in some ways to Calvary. The Village Chapel is non-denominational and casual in some ways. Jim teaches verse by verse through books of the Bible. There are some differences though….there is more liturgy. We meet in a Catholic school building 😉  Jim likes to read some of those same authors that surprised me at Regent. I’m thankful for the foundation Calvary gave me….wizened by the fact that there are great shortcomings in that movement….and thankful for the place we are now.


8. I never thought it would be so difficult to come up with ten things I never thought.


9. I never thought I would use a tv show as filler for a blog….but I am hooked on ManTracker. He’s awesome. And the last episode I saw was in Dolores, CO…watching it made me think of my dad.


10. I never thought I would see my mother become so frail. Today and yesterday when I talked with her she knew me, she was engaged and it was like I was talking with my mother of long ago. Dementia seems to do that…to give us those times of her being clear, however there is that knowledge that the moment will not last long. I am amazed by how many walk through this journey of watching a loved one, or a respected one, have their mind fade away before their body is done living. Gordon Fee is another that breaks my heart…he is struggling with Alzheimers.


There ya go. 10 things I never thought I would have thought. Whew…not sure I can do that every week 😉


There are moments I want to stomp my feet and shout for everyone to just stop. There comes upon me this deep ache and feeling that I want more….that this is not what it is about. This is not what life is about. This is not it.


I find that it happens a lot at this time of the year. The other day I wrote about Advent and about wanting to not be so impacted by the stress of the worldly holiday season. To be able to find that place of worship and wonder.


I want to be moved deeply. Not an emotional high, or an emotionally charged feeling of love or whatever.

I want to ache….to be so moved that it goes beyond the emotions and the intellect and there is something that makes me want to shout to everyone to stop and pay attention.

Luminarias can do it to me. Sunsets can. Worship in the congregation can. Communion can.  Art can. Music can.

The look of absolute trust from my children can.

The ache that affirms that all of this hoopla of Christmas is something grand and amazing and we need to stop and pay attention.

Not to the sales and the manic feeling of having to have it all right. Pay attention to the quiet under it all, to the whispers that this amazing grace is true and that this faith that I believe is more than fairy tale and wishful thinking.

“All this indescribable thing that we call the Christmas atmosphere only hangs in the air as something like a lingering fragrance of fading vapour from the exultant explosion of that one hour in the Judean hills nearly two thousand years ago.” – Chesterton

Yes!  I want to be overwhelmed by wonder. And I want that deeply for my children. I want images to be formed in their minds and impressions to be made on their hearts that forms their imagination. That the absolute wonder and amazing fact that God became man would stop them in their tracks. That Christmas would not be dominated by thoughts of wish lists and toys, but that somehow in the midst of the twinkling lights and the celebration they would get it.

That this faith is real. That it changes everything. That God became one of us. That we would ache because we know that we just taste the edge of reality and we will one day see it clearly….and the wonder will be complete.