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Instant bad mood. I search around for my screaming phone on the floor under my bed. The damn alarm clock continues to scream at the top of its lungs. Slowly gaining control of my sleeping body, I step out of bed, pick up my phone and turn off the alarm. The pain of waking up. In heaven, I will roll over and enjoy the waking up process just as much as snuggling into bed and drifting off to sleep. (That is if we sleep in heaven.)
My world runs about me in fast forward. Honking impatiently at the slow moving car, spending what we don’t have for the newest item that hits the shelves, driving around our children to some place other than home. Why do I join the insanity of the crowd? I do believe in busying oneself with hard work, but that is not what is happening here. We are all consumed with what does not matter.
Now. What we want is now. The admiring stares of those we don’t know. Now. The praise of what drives us around. Now. Winners of the race. Packed pantries to overflowing. Fashonable jewelry on our bodies and extra in the closet. Fancy modern restaurants. Everything that our neighbors have. Our neighbors that we want to be like, not the ones outside of our neighborhood.
But all we think about is now and we laugh at anyone that suggests otherwise.
Ted Turner is famous for a lot of things, one of them is stating what is on his mind. Hey, I can respect that. He likes to chose his words so that other people listen. He doesn’t just fit into the crowd. I respect that also. But I wish that someone would tell him, and a whole lot of the rest of the world, that they are on the wrong train. When Turner quoted, “I’d rather go to hell. Heaven has got to be boring.” I wish someone would have asked him, “What do you want most in life?”….”It will be in heaven.”
Heaven is better than being a billionaire. There is money to spare, Hey, let’s pave these streets with gold. Heaven is better than pornography! THERE WILL BE PERFECT BODIES WALKING AROUND NAKED! And it will be a good thing! No one will be embarrassed! (There will be no sin in heaven. Pornography is a destructive, cruel sin. The point is, naked bodies will be good….and everywhere.) Heaven is better than Hawaii. All the food will be paid in full! Heaven is better than Christmas! That baby Jesus, he will be with us! It doesn’t sound boring to me!
And what will not be in heaven? Babies without mommies. Wheelchairs won’t be needed in heaven, or medicine, or hospitals. There will not be divorce, no one’s heart will be broken. What have you been through? What hurts? What tugs at your heart and makes you cry out, “That is not right!” God will end it. He will make all the wrongs undone and he will wipe away that tear.
“Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we want is coming.” Tim Keller.
So, look at this world. Read the Bible. Take a look at what is good in this world. LORD, FIX MY PRIORITIES! SET MY MIND ON THINGS ETERNAL! Get ready. It is going to be the best party of all of eternity. Don’t throw away your invitation.
The plans are made, there is no stopping it now. Christmas has arrived, like the Polar Express, it is speeding into town.
There will be a Christmas performance tomorrow night. Keep your eyes on the cute little blonde. She’s been practicing her lines and counting down the days.
Presents are already wrapped and under the tree. There is a secret message to mark the favorite present for our girl. Clues are written on the tags that don’t give anything away. Shake shake anticipate.
My brother is coming to town. He is bringing his girl. Just a little part of my family makes a crowd of 16 that will be pouring into our house and out voicing the Christmas music and fighting for a space in front of the fire. The meal is planned and a Christmas craft will make for keepsakes of a fun Christmas night.
Here in the south, it is a special occasion to have a temporary ice rink. We have already visited once. My girl is a natural. We will be back this weekend and then back some more. We’re going to break the bank, but as many times as we go, it still won’t be enough.
Tucker cooperates with his Christmas sweater. He has decided it is warm and comfy. He knows the presents under the tree that are his. He waddles (yes, he is a dog that waddles) over before bedtime to give it a last sniff. Visions of doggie treats dance in his head.
It’s Jesus’s birthday! The biggest party of the year. We sing, we give, we party, we skate, we dream. Gather round and join in the merriment of the Christmas bop. Merry Merry Christmas to you and your’s.
“Hangry.” New words have to be invented to explain the feeling of hunger. Ever worked in the food business? You will see people at their worst: hungry. Due to Addison’s Disease, my body is extra sensitive. It is better for me to stay on top of a healthy day, instead of trying to fix it after I have messed up. Example: If I wait to long to eat, or don’t eat the right stuff, my blood sugar will drop and I get this feeling: Hungry. Hangry. Craving. Intensity. Meanness. Stay out of my way. There is one thing my body needs and only one thing will satisfy. Food.
However, I’ve never been starving. Even in our newlywed poorness, I never worried that I wouldn’t have food to eat. With the price of food in America skyrocketing, I still have never thought, “Today, we can’t buy milk.” I have only heard and read about people that die of starvation. One book stands out in my education of the poor, “Kisses From Katie,” the story of a young girl that travels to Uganda and lives among hungry people. I mean starving people. I mean people that do lie down and die because they do not have enough to eat. I have never known that. I have never gone an entire day without food, absolutely never gone two days without eating, and I have no idea what it would be like to go a week with no food. It passes hungry. It is beyond blood sugar dropping. It is an intensity I’ve only read about.
Despite the physical, my soul has been in that state. Daily, hourly, my soul is hungry and my loving father feeds me: I have the security of waking in a warm bed. I know the joy of a seven year old playing with her beloved stuffies. Almost daily, I have time to sit and enjoy a back rub from my husband. I do not lack the love of family. Be that as it may, I have seen the other side. I have been starving in my soul. I have cried out when only one thing can fill my craving.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.” John 6:35
He wasn’t talking about sourdough or whole wheat. He wasn’t talking about turkey and broccoli and corn. There is something deeper. There is a starving when more than our bodies are in need. It is the spiritual, the eternal, it is our souls. Our souls that long for how things are supposed to be. Our souls that ache for the perfection they were designed for. Our souls that are so sick and tired of all the hurt and sin in this screwed up world.
I have been there. There have been times in my life when I had a home, I had a fridge full of food, I had a family that loved me, and it wasn’t enough. There was something deeper. There was a point when I realized I wasn’t in control, a point when I realized there was more to life, a point when I discovered who held the key to my achy heart: Jesus. And he called me to his table and I saw the feast that was set before me and I tasted and it was so delicious and he satisfied my soul like nothing else could.
Messing up is the name of my game. Idealist at heart, I see my mistakes as I am making them and then I have a hard time letting them go. I say “no” to visiting with a friend when I should say “yes,” I am not patient with my daughter when I am the one running late, I am selfish instead of serving my husband. Again and again, I chose me instead of looking around and being so overwhelmed with thanksgiving with having every single desire that I have ever wished upon met in my here and now. I am living the dream. As a little girl, when I sat with my chin resting on my palm, staring out the window and thinking what I wanted in my wildest dreams, it is this! It is my husband and my daughter and this life that I live. I am ashamed that so many days, I stress about cleaning my home instead of playing “Littlest PetShop” with Madison, I am ashamed that I snap at my husband. But not today.
Today, I look at them and I will spend my whole entire day thanking God for them! Today, I will squeeze Madison tight and kiss her cheek over and over until she wiggles free to go play with her cousins. Today, I will just sit on the couch with James’s arm around me. Today, I am immensely thankful for my almost 8,000 new friends that I am sharing life with through Beautiful Life with Cancer. Today, I am thankful for my in-laws that I miss that I can’t be with today. Today I will join hands with my humongous extended family as we pray and thank our Savior for living a life of suffering and dying a tortured death so that I can live my life of blessing and partake in the hope and joy of a future in heaven, today I will feast and I will be thankful. Today, I give thanks.
This is the third and last post in a Thanksgiving series. I do not often quote other writers on this site but the facts in this post are taken from “Thanksgiving, A Time to Remember” by Barbara Rainey.
“By October 1621 the corn planted that spring was ready for harvest. The fields yielded a large crop that would keep the colony from starvation in the coming winter. Their hearts were full of gratitude for their renewed health, for the abundant harvest, and for the peace they enjoyed with the Indians.
William Bradford, who at thirty three years of age had been elected leader of the colony after the death of John Carver that summer, was thankful for the harvest. As the new governor, he declared that Plymouth should hold a thanksgiving festival and invite the settlement’s Indian friends as special guests. A date was set, and an invitation delivered to Chief Massasoit.
When Massasoit arrived with ninety hungry braves, the Pilgrims became worried. How could they feed that many people? And if they used too much of their precious stockpiled corn, would they have adequate food supply to survive the winter?
When Massasoit and his men arrived at Plymouth, they too went to the woods and seashore to gather food. The Pilgrims breathed a sigh of relief and began preparing the meal.
When it was time to eat, the menu was impressive: venison, goose, lobster, eel, oysters, clam chowder, parsnips, turnips, cucumbers, onions, carrots, cabbage, beets, radishes, and dried fruit that included gooseberries, strawberries, cherries, plums, and ashcakes, and popcorn (provided by the Indians.)
The feasting continued over a three-day period, during which both Indians and Pilgrims participated in games and exhibitions of shooting skill with bows and arrows and guns. The Pilgrim boys joined the races and wrestling matches of the Indians, and in turn the Indians learned how to play stoolball – a game resembling croquet.”
The Pilgrims lost 50% of those that had traveled over on the Mayflower with them. Imagine! Just think of journeying to a new land and half of your group dies!
BUT! God was not through with them yet! They absolutely could not know what America would grow to be! They could not know what they were starting: the amazing nation, the United States of America! But God had brought them to this new land. And after such a harsh winter, it was spring again. They had learned to farm. They had made friends with the Indians. They were going to survive. I don’t know about you, but when we get in a circle at Thanksgiving time and share what we are thankful for, I have never said, “I am going to survive. Thank God.” Well, that was their thanks! They looked at the remaining children, their remaining family, and said, “We have hope. We have God. Look what he has done. It looks like our dream of this new country is going to come true after all. Let’s give thanks.” So, a week early, I say to all my friends in the United States of America, and to all my friends around the world, “Let’s give thanks for what God has done.” HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
You would not think that the people that began our Thanksgiving tradition still had such hardships fresh in their minds. Hardships that I can not begin to imagine. This is the second post in a Thanksgiving series. The facts are taken from “Thanksgiving, A Time to Remember” by Barbara Rainey.
“Perhaps the Pilgrims had felt that the worst was over when they finally set foot on solid ground again. But their relief was only momentary. As the weeks went by, the weather grew worse. In the coldest stretch of winter, a disease made much of the community desperately ill. The Pilgrims began to die in alarming numbers. Near the end of March, with the weather improving and the worst of the influenza outbreak over, the surviving Pilgrims assessed their winter losses. Several entire families had perished in the epidemic; fifteen of nineteen women were dead; in only four couples had both spouses survived. The children had fared the best. Of ten girls, nine survived, and only eight of the twenty-three boys died. Nearly half of those who had arrived on the Mayflower now lay in the shallow graves dug on a windswept hill beside the sea.”
These are the men and women that established our country. These tragedies struck the very land that we inhabit today. These is our family tree.
Surely they questioned their journey. I am sure some of them wished they had stayed in England. I imagine that many of them questioned God. Surely some of them were angry. How hard! Now they were in a new land with no home, no knowledge of how to survive, and now each of them had been touched by death in a huge way. This is not the Thanksgiving story that runs through the mind of most while we prepare the turkey.
A dreaded time with family that you want to avoid? The best day where you eat and eat with no thought of calories? Another day off work? What is this whole “Thanksgiving thing” about anyway? A day where we celebrate the white man taking over the red man’s home? A Christian fiction story? What are the facts of Thanksgiving?
Confession: My favorite holiday is Christmas. My second favorite holiday is the next one that is coming up. So, right now, my second favorite holiday is: Thanksgiving! Seriously, I really really do love Thanksgiving! In my teaching days, I worked at a school named Master’s Academy. If I could insert a little commercial here, Master’s Academy held an annual Thanksgiving celebration that was out of this world! I have absolutely no clue how they were able to pull the whole thing off. You are going to think that I am exaggerating and I would also, if I had not experienced the day first hand. The class would file outside to a village that was set up on school grounds. Teachers and volunteers were dressed as Pilgrims and Indians, not like Disney Pocahontas and John Smith but the real deal. Somehow there was always a man that had guns from this time period and he would give a demonstration, there were hard biscuits and dried meat, animal skins….it was amazing! The closest thing to traveling back in time that I have ever experienced. Each year, I wish that my daughter could experience that Thanksgiving celebration. But from it, I learned a true love of Thanksgiving that I hope to pass to her and I hope will be contagious.
Years ago, I found a jewel, “Thanksgiving, A Time to Remember” by Barbara Rainey. Most of my facts come from this book. I can not recommend it enough! I am going to do something here, that I do not usually do on my blog, I am going to site big portions from this book:
“The Mayflower, a small wooden ship with billowing sails, was the vessel God used to bring a group of Christian believers to an unseen land far over the Atlantic. These Christian men and women, called Pilgrims, believed that God was leading them to establish a new community where they could worship freely…When the Mayflower finally left England, on the 6th of September, crowded on board were 102 passengers, including 33 children…The food was terrible – brine soaked beef, pork, and fish and stale, hard biscuits, which often were full of insects. The rats living on board helped themselves to the same food supplies…The rooms for passengers were crowded and mainly below deck. Conditions were miserable: cramped quarters, seasick people vomiting into pails – if they were able to find one in time, no sanitary toilets; the hatches were sealed off because of constant storms, and so the passengers were unable to get fresh air. A foul mixture of odors grew in such an environment…After 97 days at sea, the Pilgrims caught a glimpse of their destination, ‘La-a-nd, ho!'”
This series will take a quick look at some facts about Thanksgiving, with of course some followup and comments from me. I hope you will chime in with your own views.
Bare trees and gray skies, the wind howls and sends shivers through my body. We have hit a record low and it is here to stay. Colder and snowier than the norm. My girl and I try to go for a walk but we can not endure the cold for more than a few minutes. Packing on extra layers every morning and learning again to keep up with the mittens. The cold reaches down to your bones.
Build a fire, pour a hot drink. Sit and cover with a throw. Crockpot dinners are more appreciated. The winter menu is revisited. Chili, Pot Roast, Turkey, and ham. Bigger and hotter, the better. Prepare the closets for new Christmas toys, begin the shopping browsing, give in to the Christmas music a little early this year. Call up some family that you have not seen in a while. Our hearts were not prepared to hibernate but to endure.
It is the freezing cold that makes me so appreciate the warmth.
The world got it right. Macy’s got it right. Walmart got it right. Cracker Barrel got it right. Santa Claus in the middle of the mall got it right. And christians got it wrong.
Hold me back. Hold me back. OK! I can’t wait any longer! I have to talk about it! Here it comes! CHRISTMAS!
What?! I thought this girl was a christian? Walmart got Christmas right and christians got it wrong?!
It is the beginning of November, and already Christmas has begun to creep into retailing…weeks ago. The local attractions have pulled out their Christmas lights, rows of ornaments suck in shoppers, and you may already hear a carol at the mall. Christmas now lasts a full two months. It is the biggest party of the year.
(Disclaimer: I have only ever celebrated Christmas in the United States. BUT I have studied some of the Christmas traditions of other countries. I do know that this is a world wide celebration.)
Being a Mommy, I chat with other Mommy friends. Being a Christian, I chat with other Christians. And something has begun to surface and whisper in the ears of other Christians and parents during the holiday season. And it is this:
We only buy three gifts for each of our children for Christmas.
Santa Claus is bad.
I hate Christmas.
Christmas is stressful.
We do not buy any presents for Christmas anymore.
Christmas everywhere is annoying.
So on. So forth. Insert a lot more of the same here.
These things are whispered and shouted among christians. While pagans continue on celebrating Christmas. STOP! Wait a minute! What is Christmas about anyway? Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
IT SHOULD BE A BIG DEAL! IT SHOULD BE THE BIGGEST PARTY OF THE YEAR! IT SHOULD TAKE UP TWO MONTHS OF CELEBRATING! SANTA CLAUSES SHOULD BE INVENTED, AND SONGS SHOULD BE SUNG AND BLASTED IN THE MALL, THE ENTIRE WORLD SHOULD BE DECORATED IN RED AND GREEN, PRESENTS SHOULD BE BOUGHT! THIS BABY IS SPECIAL! HE SHOULD BE CELEBRATED! HIS PARTY SHOULD BE A HUGE DEAL!
Christians! Wake up! We are talking about the birth of our God here! We were all headed to Hell before the birth of Jesus! He saved us! How in the hell are we going to let nonbelievers outdo us in the partying of our Savior?!
No. No. No. I am not saying to max out credit cards and spend money you don’t have. I’m not saying that the birth of Jesus is what nonbelievers are celebrating at Christmas time. Here is what I am saying: CHRISTIANS (some, not all) GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE OF RULES AND HAVE A PARTY! THE BIGGEST PARTY OF THE YEAR!
It’s official, MERRY CHRISTMAS!