Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

I know it’s cliché to say this, but it’s been quite a year. This past year was filled with everything from travel to health crises. I even graduated from graduate school and bought my first home. Traditionally, at this time of year, I not only look towards my goals for the coming year, I also look back and see how the past year has measured up. Although I didn’t accomplish all my goals (it’s hard to lose weight when you’re stress eating while studying for tests), I have to say I’m in an altogether different place than I was this time last year. And, while I’m still catching my breath here, I have to say I’ve been quite content with where I’m at. Until last night, that is.
Last night it occurred to me that my birthday is coming up in a few weeks. Each year, I greet the approach to January and the subsequent birthday with less excitement and more dismay. This year I’m going to be 33. Now, I know this is a heavy thought for New Year’s Eve, but bear with me. Jesus was 33 when He died on a cross to save the world from the consequences of sin. Now, I'll be the first to say that a diploma and a mortgage is big. But this is bigger. Kind of puts a new spin on setting goals for the New Year, doesn’t it? Maybe it will help me stay focused on my goals a little past February this year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Time

Yesterday, I received a half dozen Christmas cards in the mail. The radio station I listen to, KLOVE, is still playing the occasional Christmas song. More than one person has hinted that I can expect a gift in the next couple of weeks. What I lacked in the Christmas spirit in the weeks prior, I seem to be making up for in the last couple of days. I hope the trend continues. I like this idea of Christmas continuing to last beyond one particular day in December.
Last year, I read one of those viral emails about Christmas. This one had some interesting things to say about Christmas decorations. It suggested keeping one Christmas decoration up year round as a reminder of Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us. Since then, I have kept out a small Nativity, handmade out of clay. This particular Nativity means a lot to me because it was a gift. So I think of it often. I think the fact that is was a gift reminds me of the bigger gift of the real Nativity.
Maybe it’s never too late to get into the Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Circling the Target

So last month I attacked this writing thing full force. My second wave came in strong at the beginning of December when I both wrote and submitted a few articles. Then came the retreat back into the hidey hole.
Now I’m circling the target again. I’m not exactly doing a lot of writing. I am reading plenty, but I just can’t seem to write. I think I’m pre-writing. Right now I have more reading projects going on than I usually do. I’m reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I’m also reading a few books on death and dying for work. I decided to throw in The Red Badge of Courage because I’ve never read it before. And I just finished The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Lee over at Little Nuances just added substantially to my to be read pile with his post on Elisabeth Elliot.
So I’ve reached the point where I am wondering if my preparation for writing is actually procrastination from writing. I think there are a few things in life like that. We have to circle the target to determine what the best way to make our approach is. But sooner or later we need to trust our assessment of the available data on the risk, benefits, and obstacles, and just go for it. Now if I could just do that…

Monday, December 18, 2006

Merry Christmas

As Christians, we are called to show God’s love to others. We’re also asked to tolerate quite a bit. Living in our multicultural society, I accept that others have beliefs and traditions different than my own. And I’m more than OK with this. I wouldn’t force my beliefs on anyone because it wouldn’t be fruitful and I’m just not that kind of girl. Besides, Christians in other parts of the world are called to suffer and be persecuted for their beliefs. So that helps me keep things in perspective as I think about celebrating Christmas.
I’m especially thinking about how it’s become more and more of a taboo to wish someone a Merry Christmas. If one pays attention to the media, it certainly seems like Merry Christmas has gone the way of any number of politically incorrect statements. Yet this has not been my experience, or the experience of many “everyday persons” I’ve informally polled. In fact, I think it would be more offensive to assume someone is so fragile that they couldn’t tolerate a wish of “Merry Christmas.” Sure, if I engage in a more in depth conversation with someone I will inquire about how they celebrate the holidays. Even if my ultimate hope is to share the faith with them, I believe I need to start by honoring their own beliefs. But sometimes all one has time for is a brief greeting. I hope you’ll tolerate my wish that you have a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I was doing so well. After NaNoWriMo, my energy was high. I found my voice. I had developed the habit of writing daily. I found ideas coming back to me. Not only did I write stuff, I actually sent it out. To editors. They sent it back.
There’s nothing like a rejection (or a couple of them) to remind one of the difficult and unpleasant parts of writing. The good parts are so good, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that their unfortunate counterparts show up on occasion. What is surprising is that even though re-entry continues to be a struggle, I plan on getting up and working at it all over again tomorrow.
Go figure.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Favorite Christmas Carols

I’m a traditionalist as far as Christmas carols go. I like the classics, and I don’t like them messed with all too often. There are some new Christmas songs I like, but they typically have a classic feel to them. Todd Agnew has some new Christmas offerings and I really like them. Did You Know provides a thought provoking reflection on what life must have been like for Jesus, knowing the purpose for which He came to earth. His music does have a contemporary feel, but the overall tone is still traditional enough for me.
I love all the Christmas/Advent hymns, but I’d have to say two of my favorites are O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and O Come All Ye Faithful. The Nativity features a wonderful, ancient sounding version of the former.
But my all time favorite Christmas carol is The Little Drummer Boy, or The Carol of the Drums. I remember when I was a kid, waiting until the day after Thanksgiving when Mom would let us pull out the Christmas music. (We didn’t start after Halloween like they do now). We’d wrap presents and put up Christmas decorations. I’d always want to listen to this song first. Why do I love it so much?
I love the idea of this little child standing in contrast to the Wise Men. He had no possessions or status to speak of. All he had was this one thing, this thing that he was good at, this thing that made him feel real when he did it. That’s what he offered to Jesus.

more gifts:

melting snow
rain in December
The Little Drummer Boy
my Mickey Mouse watch
warm vanilla sugar chapstick
Culver’s flavor of the day
the library in my backyard
good deeds
The Boar’s Head Festival
hand me downs from mom’s closet

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Nativity

What determines if a life is worth living? For many of us, when suffering significantly decreases our quality of life, we decide not to take measures to prolong the pain and discomfort. But there are some people who seem to live whole lives of immeasurable suffering. We’ve all seen people with physical or environmental or other challenges. We wonder about these people, about how and why they go on in the face of such suffering.
It occurs to me that perhaps the only difference between me and someone devoid of the hope, support, and means to cope with life is that I have a great Mom and Dad. I have parents that accepted and believed in me despite the obvious challenges my disability presents. Sometimes in the face of limitations, people are presented with further rejection and discouragement that robs them of the resources they need to have hope. Some people have distant, rejecting siblings.
I don’t. I have a brother who will loan me money to get my wisdom teeth out, who will drive for an hour to put furniture together for me, and will make that hour long trip in substantially faster time when I’m in the emergency room and need someone to help me home.
So I was thinking a lot about this suffering thing when I saw The Nativity tonight. Seeing the familiar story presented in a different manner gave me some new perspectives to think about. I felt a sense of hope and joy as I watched Jesus’ birth portrayed. Perhaps this touched me because I needed that so much today. The hope was immediately contrasted with the realization that suffering was the entire purpose, the intention, the meaning of Christ’s life. He suffered the ultimate suffering so we would not have to.

today's gifts:

that I do not need to rely on my suffering for redemption
my fireplace
my periwinkle bedroom walls
my dolls from Nell
melting snow
forecasts of rain in Dec
fun co-workers
angels among us
The Princess Bride
Monsters, INC
office supplies
the new Staples opening up down the street
Borders bookstores
Christmas shopping via the internet

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm Just Saying...

I don't have much to say today. Here's my list of gifts for today. I guess that says something.

kind nurses
my sisters
eternal life
the muse is back
my computer
my ipod
role models
Christmas lights in the dark
my humidifier

Sunday, December 03, 2006

New Blog Link!

My very talented friend and fellow writer, Teena Stewart has started a blog. Whispers in the Dark is for anyone interested in romantic suspense stories. Teena writes some great stuff, one of her short stories is the most delightfully spooky thing I've read to date.
You also need to check out the links on Teena's blog. She's got a ministry leadership webpage, a yahoo group for fiction writers, and she's probably working on some other surprises we don't know about yet.

Today's list of gifts:

Jars of Clay
de-icing chemicals
books on loan
white elephant gifts
clean laundry
New Year’s resolutions
unexpected help
home ownership
my orange food tray
Kermit the Frog
A God who likes to show off on occasion
people as art
my post-it notes with fun quotes

Friday, December 01, 2006

Works of Art

The other day I spoke with someone who is very artistic. She talked about what her art communicates about her. She expanded on this topic by explaining that she chooses her clothes and hairstyle for the same purpose; to create an artistic impression. Then I got it. When she creates art, she isn’t just asking us to approve of the product. She’s asking us to see her AS art. She wants someone to see that she is beautiful and valuable.
Would we treat the people around us differently if we recognized them as beautiful and valuable works of art?
Would we treat ourselves differently if we recognized ourselves as beautiful and valuable works of art?

Images on the sidewalk speak of dream’s descent
Washed away by storms to graves of cynical lament
Dirty canvases to call my own
Protest limericks carved by the old pay phone
In your picture book I’m trying hard to see
Turning endless pages of this tragedy
Sculpting every move, you compose a symphony
You plead to everyone, “see the art in me”
Broken stained-glass windows, the fragments ramble on
Tales of broken souls, an eternity’s been won
As critics scorn the thoughts and works of mortal men
My eyes are drawn to you in awe once again
In your picture book I’m trying hard to see
Turning endless pages of this tragedy
Sculpting every move you compose a symphony
You plead to everyone, “see the art in me”

Art In Me” Jars of Clay

Continuing my list of 1000 gifts:

snow shovels
people who shovel
Yak Trax
my fridge magnets from LeAnne
snuggling in my down comforter
my garnet ring
my Bible
my bookcase
sacred spaces