Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Christmas Child
Behold a virgin will conceive and bring forth a son,
they shall call his name Emmanuel....

I love the sights and sounds of Christmas. The air has a bit of a nip to it, (in Colorado anyway), people are decorating their homes with lights and greenery and all kinds of whimsical lawn art. Anticipation is growing as everyone (well, most everyone) makes plans to be somewhere with family and friends, discussing gift exchanges, holiday parties and what they're supposed to bring to the meal among other things. You get to put up the tree and pull out memories with each ornament. You get to watch holiday movies and listen to yuletide songs on the radio. The world seems a bit gentler, a bit less hurried, or that could just be my waning eyesight (I'll probably see it different after Black Friday).

I love Christmas.

I love the smell of cinnamon, pine, pumpkin, turkey and peppermint. I love lights that color the December night. But while I look forward to the season and I kind of dread it too.

That probably sounds terrible. But it's true.

I love putting out the decorations, I dread having to pack them away. (Maybe that's why the lights are still hanging on the eaves of my house from last year.)

I love getting together with family and friends, I dread the goodbyes, especially if they've traveled from afar and have to leave. And then there's the family squabbles that manage to arise.

I love sending out cards and sentiments, I dread having to prepare the letters and sentiments I so love to send. I wonder if anyone reads them or even cares.

I love the Christmas commercials, you know the ones that tug on your heart strings, I try to forget they want to tug on my purse strings as well.

Christmas is Special, it's wonderful. It's Christmas.

And strangely, if I'm honest the enjoyment and wonderment of the day gets lost in translation.

Sometimes I long for the simpler days, when I was the child with the wild-eyes and holiday wishes. When I ripped into the packages I wasn't too worried about who had to clean up the paper, bows and packaging shrapnel that would be strewn about my house.

I didn't have to get up early to put in the turkey or spend the day putting the finishing touches on a meal then watch all my hard work be devoured within minutes.

But that's when I was a child, that was a long time ago. (Or maybe just yesterday.)

Perhaps that's where my trouble lies. I have allowed the years to distort the beauty of what Christmas really means.

Christmas needs a touch of moonbeam, a dash of nonsensical, and a dollop of whimsy.

Christmas needs wonder. Christmas needs a CHILD.

For my inner child's own good, I recite verses like...

When I was I child I thought like a child, but when I grew up, I put away childish things...

All the while forgetting...

A little child shall lead them or Christ said to bring the children to him.

But children are messy, children act stupid, I tell myself, and in so doing, I've taken the very gift of Christmas and boxed it with cynicism, packed it with grownup resolve, wrapped it with whys and wherefores, tied it with ribbons of fear and vulnerability and tagged it with a warning "to open could cause dire consequences to your psyche". Then I hid it away so no one could open it.

No one can touch the child within.

Maybe it's time to open the box. To release the child God so lovingly created.

But where does one begin?

It's allowing yourself to share
    A Prayer

A  Dream.

 A Memory

It's putting one foot in front of the other, listening to the symphonic melodies of snow crunching beneath your overgrown snowboots or the swish of your legs rubbing together as you waddle along in the mounds of padding and warmth of your snowsuit.

It's sticking out your tongue and catching a snowflake or letting your tongue get caught on an icicle. Or perhaps believing you will not shoot your eye out with that Red Rider BB gun.

It's allowing yourself to inhale the crisp air of winter's night, let it paint your cheeks and neck pink and feel the exhilaration as you exhale your warm breath and paint the night in return.

It's taking a moment to stare across fields of winter white, of diamonds on snow and see a canvas for snow angles and not just something you need to shovel.

It's waiting on a Judean hillside, when you know you should be tending your sheep because excitement as tangible as breath charges the air. And you know something amazing is about to happen. Then heaven resounds with a chorus of praise, and a star break the shadows with Glory.

It's following a star, knowing each step will bring you closer to destiny, to wisdom, even though some might call you a fool with stars in your eyes.

It's reaching out for the hand of the Father, letting his touch ignite the warmth in your numbed hands and chilled heart. It's feeling the sensation of being alive and knowing that to follow in his footsteps will take you on a beautiful journey. You're at first hesitant, there are too many unknowns.

But your heart is yearning, aching to follow, so you move your feet, skipping to find the rhythm til your steps match his...

Because you know you'll find the Child at the end of the journey.

And perhaps you'll remember what Christmas is all about.

And perhaps you'll believe...

Maybe my little memory will help you on your journey.

One Christmas Eve, many moons ago, while tucked in a dark cellar, in a bed with my sisters and cousins, I remember getting awakened by the tinkle sleigh bells, and thumps that sounded in my child ears like hoof beats on the roof of my grandparent's house.

"You hear that?" someone said, their voice heavy with fear and breathless wonder.

The noise continued with more bells and reindeer snorts, and a few ho, ho, hos. Squeals echoed the cellar.

"Could it really be reindeer? Was it really Santa?" We wanted to know, but were too scared of the spiders in the cellar to get out of bed and see.

When the noise finally stopped, I lay there with my heart rioting in my skull. Anxious to find out what made the noise that disturbed my slumber.

When Christmas morning peeked through the slit in the coal bin cover, we were up. I fell in with the rest of my excited bunk mates as we headed outside in our pajamas to investigate.

There in the snow, were what looked like reindeer prints and sleigh tracks.

My child mind didn't connect that those were supposed to be on the roof. Nor did I find it strange that a gazillion other foot prints dotted the snow around the spot where the sleigh had landed in the driveway. In Child like faith, I believed.

This Christmas I pray you take the journey. This Christmas I hope you find the Child.

The one within. The One who was born to die.

***Share some of your moments of Christmas wonder and whimsy.  (Dirty, profane, comments will be erased) Leave a comment from  now - Dec. 11 and jot down your email address, (make sure to write out  at and dot )  for a chance to win one of  two $20 dollar gift cards to Targets.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A clock out of time...

It was weathered and beaten by the years when Dad found it, but it was no ordinary clock. This clock was made in the mid to late 1800's in Germany. An original Black Forest Clock. It was fashioned in the chalet style, wooden carvings that depicted various animals caught and bound by imaginary hunters decorated its face and a royal stag with five point horns graced the top at the point where the eaves joined.

It wasn't colorful like many you can buy today. No little children came out to dance and spin. Only a little bird popped out of small wooden door to say cuc-koo. It had only two hands to tick off time. No second hand, as perhaps times were slower when the clock was crafted.

Which is amazing when you consider how technology is used today to wittle away the seconds in our daily race of life.

But I digress, back to the clock.

We found the clock while living Germany. (Dad was in the Airforce and we lived in Zweibrucken.)

A series of chains, pendulums, bellows, pipes, springs and weights caused the clock to run. The ends of the chains were weighted by what resembled metal pinecones.

When we got the clock, some of its animals had fallen off, the stag's left rack was snapped, and the chains were missing.

Dad worked at fixing the clock. He reset the animals on the face. Glued the poor stag's rack back on so he could reign over his small realm with dignity. Then he hunted for the proper chain.

One would think that task would be realitively easy considering we lived in Germany. But... he found a chain that seemed to work, only the links were slightly off so the inner workings of the clock were unable to count the moments right.

At the time, that meant little to me. I just like it when Dad set the chains then ran the hands around to make the cuckoo bird pop out it's little door and cuc-koo the hour.

But soon, even that failed to work.  The bellow were torn from age and the spring wasn't as taut as it should be. Even though it didn't work, the clock still hung of the wall like a quaint piece of artful history. People were intrigued and wanted to know about the clock. It had a story all its own and years of research still hadn't told the tale. We told them what we knew. But most of all, they wanted to hear it cuc-koo.

When we moved from Germany, the clock was wrapped and placed in a box. It moved in and out of the box for a time as we traveled from duty station to duty station. Dad continued to hunt for the right chain, but his endeavors failed. He tried chain after chain one was too heavy, one, the links were too big, one, too small. The moments ran fast or too slow.  Without the proper chain, the clock ticked off irregular beats.

When my father passed away in 1994 the unworking clock hung on the wall. With noone to turn the hands or reset the chains, the hands stopped turning and the bird stopped cuc-kooing. The clock, like my father, had become silent only the memory of what the clock could do remained.

The clock's existence changed then, it was either stored in a box, or relegated to the wall of the garage.

Then my son decided to finish what his grandfather had begun. He fixed the bellows, tightened the spring, reset the broken animals, and the stag's horns that had fallen off again. We hung the clock in a place of prominence.

Unfortunately, we never found the right chain either. Oh we could manipulate the chain and get it to run some, and get the cuckoo bird to visit. But it just wasn't the same, the weak bellows tended to rip, the stag's horn was cockeyed and loose, and we grew tired of resetting the chain and hands, perhaps we didn't have the patient that Dad had.

I don't know if the clock will ever be fixed. But maybe... that's just as well.

Looking at it, its hands locked in a moment from long ago. I wonder if they haven't stopped in some wonderful place where time moves slowly, where life was lived in ticks and tocks of minutes, where the stag on the clock is young, where the bellows are filled, where my father stands before the clock adjusting the chain, turning the hands just so, and the little bird comes out to sing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Okay in all honesty, I'm sitting right now. With a backache, but at least the heart ache has subsided. 

A couple of days ago it was a completely different story, I was having another one of those published writer wanna be pity parties.

This after I tried to sound so encouraging about knowing my call to write in my last post. Amazing how one reacts in the midst of the storm.

And I had planned to act so much more mature about it.

Got another rejection for Trail of the Sandpiper. Thought I'd handled it so well, then the next day hit and ... well, I found myself in a slump. All those stupid questions about whether writing was really worth it fluttered around in my brain, like birds at the wharf looking for a good meal. I tried to fend them off, but they landed and started to feed.

I let them feast for a time, while I whined to my husband. He must really love me.
We go through this more times than I care to admit. I come away telling myself it will be different next time, I won't complain, I won't pout.

HA. I did all those things and more. I hate to admit it.

Then, like all the times before, I said a prayer, squared my shoulders and started in to writing again.

Isn't that life? Whether writing or just living, when the storm hits, the vast majority of us, cower down and hope the storm doesn't hit too hard. When we should hunker down and pray. And if we must cower, do it for a time in the Lord and remember he guards and has our best interest at heart.

Perhaps, if I'm totally honest with myself,  Believing that the Lord has my best interest at heart, trusting in the fact that he's not just putting me through these things and laughing is hard for me.

I've seen others and think they're just skating on through without the expending the energies I have. All the while not wanting to see the people who have to expend more. Isn't that so human of me?

I have a plan and by my account, it's a pretty good one. I've said that before and been slapped by what I thought was pretty good.

But God's plans are different.

He created my plan and knows what he wants me to become. He can see the end result, while I, petulant child that I can be, see the moment and what I wish I had. NOW.  

The God of my storm, Is the God of the universe, the universe I live in, so he must have some idea about what he's doing.

That's my story  and I'm sticking to, at least until the next rejection comes along.