Monday, December 21, 2009
My proudest moment came during the
children's Christmas pageant. My daughter was playing
Mary, two of my sons were shepherds and my
youngest son was a wise man.
This was their moment to shine. My five-year-old
shepherd had practiced his line,
'We found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.'
But he was nervous and said, 'The baby was wrapped
in wrinkled clothes.' My four-year-old 'Mary' said,
'That's not 'wrinkled clothes,' silly. That's dirty, rotten clothes.'
A wrestling match broke out between Mary and the shepherd
and was stopped by an angel, who bent her halo and lost
her left wing. I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary
dropped the doll representing Baby Jesus, and it bounced
down the aisle crying, 'Mama-mama.'
Mary grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and held it tightly
as the wise men arrived. My other son stepped
forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown, knelt at the
manger and announced, 'We are the three wise guys,
and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur.'
The congregation dissolved into laughter, and the pageant
got a standing ovation.
'I've never enjoyed a Christmas program as much as this
one,' laughed the Pastor, wiping tears from his eyes.
'For the rest of my life, I'll never hear the Christmas story
without thinking of gold, common sense and fur.'
'My children are my pride and my joy and my greatest
blessing,' I said as I dug through my purse for an aspirin.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
When I was a young boy, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. . I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.
Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone's number and the correct time.
My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.
I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear.
"Information, please" I said into the
mouthpiece just above my head.
A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.
"I hurt my finger..." I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough
now that I had an audience.
"Isn't your mother home?" came the question.
"Nobody's home but me," I blubbered.
"Are you bleeding?" the voice asked.
I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts."
"Can you open the icebox?" she asked.
I said I could.
"Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger," said the voice..
After that, I called "Information Please" for everything.. I asked her for
help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math.
She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.
Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called,
Information Please," and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"
She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, " Wayne , always remember that there are other worlds to sing in."
Somehow I felt better.
Another day I was on the telephone, "Information Please."
"Information, " said in the now familiar voice. "How do I spell fix?"
All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest . When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston . I missed my friend very much.
"Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home and I
somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me..
Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.
A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle . I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information Please."
Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.
I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying,
"Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"
There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now."
I laughed, "So it's really you," I said. "I wonder if you have any
idea how much you meant to me during that time?"
I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your call meant to me.
I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls."
I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.
"Please do", she said. "Just ask for Sally."
Three months later I was back in Seattle . A different voice answered,
I asked for Sally.
"Are you a friend?" she said.
"Yes, a very old friend," I answered.
"I'm sorry to have to tell you this,"She said. "Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago."
Before I could hang up, she said, "
Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne ?" "
Yes." I answered.
"Well, Sally left a message for you.
She wrote it down in case you called.
Let me read it to you."
The note said,
"Tell him there are other worlds to sing in.
He'll know what I mean."
I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.
Never underestimate the impression you may make on others..
Whose life have you touched today?
Why not pass this on? I just did....
Lifting you on eagle's wings.
May you find the joy and peace you long for.
Life is a journey... NOT a guided tour.
I loved this story and just had to pass it on.
I hope you enjoy it too.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
A Gut Honest Look at Love
"…if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NIV)
As the holidays approach, I have to be careful about developing an overly ideal view of love. Sometimes I'm guilty of setting the expectations so high of what a 'love filled' Christmas should be that it dooms me to feeling disappointed and grumpy. Ever been there?
Well, this year I am feeling challenged to look at love a little differently. I don't want to repeat a habit that I've had from the past where I expect unrealistic things from those I love. I used to hold out the little cup of my heart to my husband, "Will you fill my empty spaces? Will you do that one really romantic thing that makes me feel like I'm the most terrific and special woman in the world?"
Then I would hold it out to my children, "Will you fill up my empty spaces? Will you do something that makes me look really good as a mom so I'll feel a little more validated?"
Then I would hold it out to my friends, "Will you fill up my empty spaces? Will you provide something today that makes me feel more included and significant?"
Maybe Christmas is an odd time to consider such things.
Or, maybe this season celebrating Jesus is the perfect time to hit the reset button on my sometimes frail heart. Love is a tricky thing. Our hearts were created to crave it. But misplaced expectations from love can wreak havoc in a person's heart.
God proclaims in 1 Corinthians 13:8 that love never fails. And in the quietness of my heart that verse makes me squirm a bit. I see love failing all the time. Or do I?
If my only view of love is what it will give me, love from others will fail me every time. It's not that love fails. It's that other people were never meant to be my God. Even a great husband, wonderful children and a thriving ministry can never truly fill me up, right all my wrongs, and soothe those deep insecurities. Not at Christmas. Not at any other time of the year.
No, I can't read 1 Corinthians chapter 13 with eyes hungry to see what love should give me and then demand it from those around me. I should read those steadfast Scriptures with the realization that this is the kind of love God gives to me. And this is the kind of love I can choose to give to other people.
I can choose that my love will be patient. My love will be kind. My love won't keep a record of wrongs. (Ouch - that's a hard one, right?)
I can choose that my love will protect and persevere.
And I can choose to lay the cup of my heart at Jesus' feet and stop twirling, twirling, twirling...hoping- demanding- that those around me do things for me they were never meant to do.
Interestingly enough, when I read 1 Corinthians 13 again this morning I found an odd yet perfect verse toward the end of this chapter. "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me" (verse 11).
Yes indeed. How funny I never connected that verse about putting away childish things with 1 Corinthians 13 - known as the chapter of love. Oh how we have the propensity to grow in other areas while keeping such a childish, selfish view of love.
Love isn't what I have the opportunity to get from this world. Love is what I have the opportunity to give. And I guess there's no more appropriate time to remember this than Christmas.
Dear Lord, thank You for the ability to see love in the proper way. Help me to know how to be filled with Your love so I don't try to get others to fill my empty spaces. Lord, give me wisdom with each of my relationships. Make me a woman that properly lives the principals in 1 Corinthians 13. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The REAL Night Before Christmas
'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house I searched for the tools to hand to my spouse
Instructions were studied and we were inspired, in hopes we could manage "Some Assembly Required."
The children were quiet (not asleep) in their beds, while Dad and I faced the evening with dread: a kitchen, two bikes, Barbie's townhouse to boot! And now, thanks to Grandpa, a train with a toot!
We opened the boxes, my heart skipped a beat - let no parts be missing or parts incomplete!
Too late for last-minute returns or replacement; if we can't get it right, it goes straight to the basement! When what to my worrying eyes should appear but 50 sheets of directions, concise, but not clear,
With each part numbered and every slot named, so if we failed, only we could be blamed. More rapid than eagles the parts then fell out, all over the carpet they were scattered about.
"Now bolt it! Now twist it! Attach it right there! Slide on the seats, and staple the stair! Hammer the shelves, and nail to the stand." "Honey," said hubby, "you just glued my hand."
And then in a twinkling, I knew for a fact that all the toy dealers had indeed made a pact to keep parents busy all Christmas Eve night with "assembly required" till morning's first light.
We spoke not a word, but kept bent at our work, till our eyes, they went blurry; our fingers all hurt. The coffee went cold and the night, it wore thin before we attached the last rod and last pin.
Then laying the tools away in the chest, we fell into bed for a well-deserved rest. But I said to my husband just before I passed out, "This will be the best Christmas, without any doubt.
Tomorrow we'll cheer, let the holiday ring, and not run to the store for one single thing! We did it! We did it! The toys are all set for the perfect, most magical, Christmas, I bet!"
Then off to dreamland and sweet repose I gratefully went, though I suppose there's something to say for those self-deluded- I'd forgotten that BATTERIES are never included!
*Thanks to Pastor Tim for this joke!*
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