Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Nod

this has nothing to do with my post, but he is adorable!

Most people who know me know that I am a Christian. By that I mean that I go to church, try to serve in some way, and I pray about the important stuff. A good day starts with some Bible reading, but I am no scholar and I read in fits and starts. Most of the time I have a nagging suspicion that following Christ may involve more than my occasional nod.

This isn't going to be some self-deprecating post where I flail myself and vow to do better. I just wonder if I am all that different than everyone else.

Christmas brings these thoughts out in me. It doesn't help that I know that Jesus wasn't really born on December 25th and that the wise men didn't show until a couple years later. The gifts I give don't really have their origins in the tradition of the manger, but they come from the traditions of my childhood where Christmas was one of the best days of the year. I love to pick things out for my husband and kids, but I don't give Jesus a second thought when I do it.

This year we have been blessed beyond belief with the generosity of others, which I guess makes me stop and consider a little more. We will go to our Christmas Eve service and say Merry Christmas to the people who mean so much. I will get misty as we sing the carols and truly marvel in my heart at the mystery of God Incarnate. I will smile at my girls as we light our candles because we share a little joke about the endless instructions we get each year for sharing the flame. That is my Christmas nod.

The rest of our traditions revolve around food and gifts and the love of family. Christmas stockings, Christmas tree gifts, breakfast, Christmas dinner (game hens this year), and a movie in the afternoon. While I couldn't ask for more, I think I could offer more. That is my prayer, that I can do more than give Jesus a polite nod and a courteous smile, although for the life of me I don't know what it would be.

I will let you know how it  goes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

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Loving Our Inner Doggy

This is something I wrote about our dog. We had to say goodbye today.

I have heard more than one sermon about how our relationship with Christ should be like a dog's to his master. The way  dogs are completely loyal and unquestioning.  A dog's way of greeting his master with enthusiasm and the desire a dog has to alway be with his master. 

Nice. If you like that sort of thing.

I have loads of respect for the nobility and integrity of dogs, but frankly their goody-two-shoe ways have always annoyed me. If you come to our house Randy will probably show off with our dog, Riley. Randy tells him to sit and stay, then he throws bits of food around the room. Riley will sit there until Randy says, "OK!" Then the dog runs and snarfs up the food  like it was the last food on earth and comes back for more 

Here is what I would say to Riley if it would make a difference: "Get some dignity, it is only scraps of  whole wheat toast. Just go lay down and act like you don't care. Seriously!" 

However, a couple of days ago Riley did something that pretty accurately illustrates my relationship with Christ. We took him to the park for a long walk. Because he is an old and trustworthy dog, we let him off his leash as we took a trail through the woods. Randy and I strolled along with Riley trotting ahead. The waning sun dappled the path before us as the birds sang their evening song. Ahh, perfect evening. Just me, my man, and our faithful dog.

About that time a deer crashes across the path in front of us. Riley gave a quick glance toward us as if to say, "Holy cow! Did you see that! I'm going to go wrestle that thing to the ground and devour it!" (This is the same dog who, as a puppy, chased airplanes.) He took off toward the direction of  his prey.

For a while we could hear him in the woods, smashing the undergrowth as he sniffed frantically around. We called and whistled for him with the assurance that he would come soon. He always does. Time passed and we couldn't hear him any more. I got a little worried. We had seen a baby copperhead earlier. I got more worried. We kept calling and whistling. Nothing.

We left the path and went out to the road, still calling. Even Randy's calls were developing an anxious edge. In time we saw Riley coming down the road. He was not dragging a deer in his jaws so I imagine he was disappointed. He came to us a little sheepishly, knowing he had messed up, but of course I greeted him with hugs and pats which he accepted gratefully.

The sun was setting as we walked toward the car. Riley, who is 12 years old, couldn't keep up and started to limp so I had to carry him most of the way back.He was heavy, stinky and probably covered with ticks but I carried him anyway. 

Riley is an obedient and faithful dog. The worst thing he ever does is sneak up on the couch when we aren't home and then he feels bad about it. One day something big and amazing came across his path and he couldn't resist. He took off into danger toward something he had no chance of obtaining. 

Thanks, dog, for being just like me. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

fuzzy memory

Way back in a very early post I marveled at how the writers of memoirs remembered things in such detail. Things like conversations and what they were wearing at the time. I am not convinced that people can really recall things as vividly as they can write them, but it is amazing what comes back when you start to put it down.

When I was very small, younger than three, we lived in a house at the edge of our little town. It was literally on the edge, a wheat field butted up against our backyard. We had a huge swing set that my dad made. It probably wasn't as big as it is in my mind, but he used tractor seats for the glider. Imagine getting clobbered by one of those

 I think we had one of those sandboxes in an old tire. I have a memory of the backs of my legs getting pinched by cracked rubber.

My dad doesn't play a starring role in my early memories but I clearly remember one afternoon when he called to me from across the yard, I could see he had something cupped in his hands. He spread his thumbs apart and I could see tiny little rabbit ears. I was delighted and instantly had to hold it.Of course I squeezed too hard and the baby bunny screamed like only a baby bunny can. My dad took it back, and I guess he let it go in the wheat field.

That is pretty much what I remember and I think it is mostly true.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Thanks

Thanksgiving hasn't always been my favorite holiday. It was just a nice day with a good food that came before Christmas. That was the celebration that counted, what with Baby Jesus and the wise men and all those lovely presents.

I did have one problem with Christmas, and that was thanks giving. I would open my gifts,which were always pretty great because that was something my step mom was good at, and then I would just sit there. Oh, I said thank you but I would mumble it like some shy foreign exchange student who wasn't sure of the language. I'm pretty sure I was just embarrassed, but it must have come off bratty. My parents would sigh and say something about how hard they try.

Meanwhile my little sister would be bouncing around the tree, dumping out her stocking, shrieking with unabashed joy over each item no matter what it was. She bubbled her joy all over the place and I wished I was more like her. The personality differences exist to this day,though I am proud to report that I am much less churlish and have developed some social graces.

So now I am a Thanksgiving girl. There's nothing like an entire day of cooking,eating, laughing and loving to make you feel grateful. Even missing the people who can't be there makes you glad that you have them to miss.

This Thanksgiving morning I offered up my mumbled, dutiful thanks to a God who knew I was trying and doing my best. Tonight, at the end of a long, lovely time with kids and grandkids, I will fall into bed and give my Father all the thanks my heart can give.

Friday, October 15, 2010


She was a woman who was good at doing what she was good at doing. I say that meaning she didn't waste time. She didn't waste time doing things she didn't care about or that she didn't have a knack for. She was good at singing, so she did it all the time. She was good at decorating so she made things beautiful every chance she got. She was good at knowing what people needed to hear, so she listened and thought and considered, then let you know what she thought.

She hated school, small talk, and Jack Nicholson.

One of many favorite Gloria stories:

She was at the library where I work, bemoaning the fact that she couldn't find any books to read that didn't have a lot of sex and cussing. A sweet lady over heard her and suggested she read Janette Oke.

Her response?

"No, not nearly enough sex or cussing!"

Love you Gloria! So glad you were in my life and I will remember you every time I put a shopping cart where it belongs or arrange my stuff in groups of three.

Saturday, September 18, 2010