Monday, December 25, 2017

The Baby Jesus

One day, when she was around three, Abby stood next to me in the bathroom as I fixed my hair. It was near Christmas and she was singing a song she had learned in Sunday school. I listened to her sing and realized she was a bit confused.

She sang, "Always in a manger, no crib for His head..."

I swallowed a laugh and told her, "No, Honey. It's not 'always,' it's 'away in a manger.'"

"Okay," she said, and started in again. "Away in a manger..."

But it made me think. Always in a manger. . . .

It's appropriate to celebrate Jesus' miraculous birth. God Himself marked the event with an angel choir. But we can't leave Jesus there, in a manger. His birth was not the whole story. He came to Earth to grow into an extraordinary youth who dazzled priests with His knowledge; to become a teacher who fed multitudes; and a Redeemer who sacrificed His life for our eternal salvation.

It's easier to think about the baby Jesus. It doesn't require much of us. Granted, it takes faith to believe in His virgin birth, but there is nothing about His birth that makes us consider ourselves, our sinfulness. It's Jesus the Man who demands something of us. His death on the cross—we have to do something with that. We can choose to ignore it, we can dismiss it, or we can be changed by it.

Christmas is a time of joy and gladness—it's good news that Jesus came. But we can't leave Jesus in the manger. He didn't come to Earth to be a baby. He came to Earth to be a Savior.

December 22, 2004


Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Hand to Hold

Abby's first high school choir concert was a lesson in friendship. Abby was in the jazz choir, an all-girl group that sang more contemporary music and often incorporated choreography.

Part way through the jazz choir's portion of the program, Abby and her friend Christine stepped over to the mike to sing a duet. They sang Grown Up Christmas List, a sweet song about what adults might ask Santa to give them for Christmas.

They used a prerecorded accompaniment track. Abby started the song alone and came in a bit early. It sounded okay, and most people probably couldn't tell she’d come in wrong. Then, she forgot the words, stopped singing, stepped back, put her head down ....

Seeing her friend in trouble, Christine slipped her hand into Abby's and started singing with her. That got Abby back on track and they did fine the rest of the song. When they were done, Christine reached over and gave Abby a hug—right there on the stage. I cried through the whole song—it's a mother thing—but seeing Christine's love for Abby made me a blubbering fool.

When I falter, I count on my friends to reach over and take my hand. I need them to sing with me and give me the courage to go on. And give me a hug when we make it through.

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts.
Everyone would have a friend
And right would always win,
And love would never end.
This is my grown up Christmas list.

 Grown Up Christmas List by Linda Thompson-Jenner, 1990

December 22, 2005


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Who Gives This Woman?

Doug and I saw both our daughters get married in the last three months. I feel like I should have something profound to say about such a happening, but I find myself oddly “wordless.” Usually, I am compelled to write about such things. I often begin writing in my head as events are unfolding. I’m sure my writer friends can relate.

Abby
But this experience was different. Perhaps it is because this was not a “writer” moment for me. It was a deeply “mom” moment. Even as I write those words I feel the tears welling. It was both a great joy and a great sorrow to see my girls get married. Abby and Kate both married fine men in Aaron and Tony. Seeing how much those young men love my girls—it makes my heart sing! That’s the joy part. And it is great joy!

But in stating their vows, in creating their own families, Abby and Kate removed themselves from me somehow. They are establishing their own homes, and in so doing become a little less part of mine.

It’s difficult to express. I know I’ll always be their mom, they’ll always be my daughters, and that my family has increased—not decreased! But I still feel like I had to let my girls go . . . and that makes my mama heart a little sad.

“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

“Her mother and I do.”

Yes, I gave them willingly, happily. And yet sadly.

Kate

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Thing #52.  Be grateful.
Science has studied the power of gratitude. One report showed that gratitude is the character trait most closely linked with mental well-being. They say if you want to be happy, be thankful. Gratitude gives us more energy, makes us less anxious, makes us more forgiving, lessens depression, gives us better sleep, and fewer headaches.

Oprah is a proponent of gratefulness. She says we should be grateful because it makes us feel better, makes us nicer to be around, and it “generates more goodness for yourself.

But there’s more to it than that. Those of us who worship God, can direct our thankfulness heavenward. We're not merely thankful for something, we're thankful to Someone. Gratefulness gets our eyes off of ourselves and onto God. Gratefulness puts an end to our pity parties, and gives us new reason to celebrate.

I don't believe it is overstating things to say we can always find something to be thankful for. If nothing else we can be thankful that God is still on His throne, even when life is hard.

So go ahead. Be grateful. You'll thank me later.

" . . . in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."                                                                        1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)

P.S. Thanks, friends, for sticking with me through my "52 Things." I hope you enjoyed them all!

Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net by David Castillo Dominici

Thursday, May 14, 2015

    Thing #49. Look for ways to simplify your life.
      A friend of mine dressed her young boys in primary colors. Any shirt would go with any pair of pants. Another mom I know bought one style of socks for her boys. Any sock matches any other sock. 

   Thing #50.  Make healthy--and tasty--ice pops.
      Frozen treat molds can be filled with applesauce, yogurt, bananas and orange juice . . . I did this regularly when my children were growing up to give them a cool, tasty treat that wasn’t simply sugar water. Hmm, why did I ever stop doing that?


Thing #51. Help kids fall asleep by telling them to hold their arms in the air.
When I was a little girl, unable--or unwilling--to go to sleep, Dad would come into my room and tell me to lie on my back. Then he'd take my hands and prop them up in mid-air, so my arms were sticking straight up, perpendicular to my body. "Hold them up as long as you can," he'd say. Soon I was asleep. I used it with my kids, too. I think the trick is it forces you to lie still, and gives your mind something to think about, even if it is the simple act of keeping your arms in the air.

What I do now when I’m having trouble sleeping is envision myself doing the backstroke in a large body of water. The repetitious action keeps my mind from dwelling on whatever it is that is keeping me awake. I tried counting sheep, by my sheep started doing back flips, ballet leaps, the Fosbury Flop, . . . it’s hard to sleep with all that going on.

Photo from freedigitalphotos.net,by imagerymajestic

Monday, April 27, 2015


Thing #48. Master a couple quick 
cookie recipes.

More than once, my young children failed to tell me they needed to take cookies to school until the night before, or, if memory serves, the morning of. I suppose I could have zipped to the grocery store, but I opted instead for a batch of  “No Bake Cookies.” Really more of a candy than a cookie, it’s a confection that is cooked on the stove rather than baked.

It’s a little tricky to master. Cook them too long and you have a dried mess that doesn’t hold together. Cook them not long enough and they don’t set up. I finally made note of my exact stove top setting (“6” for example, rather than “medium”) and the number of seconds things should boil. 

I have my sister-in-law Marla to thank for the recipe. Thanks, Marla.

No Bake Cookies
2 c sugar
2 T cocoa
½ c milk
4 T butter or margarine
1 t vanilla
3 c uncooked oatmeal (I prefer quick cooking oats; they’re a little softer)

Combine first four ingredients in 2 quart saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Boil about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Drop by teaspoonfuls on waxed paper. (Even better with ½ c peanut butter added to the first part.)

Another not-quite-as-quick option is “Cake Mix Cookies.” As the name implies, the cookies are made from a cake mix so they go together quickly.

Cake Mix Cookies
1 box cake mix, any flavor
1/3 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
(Optional: add ins like chocolate chips, nuts, . . .)

Mix all ingredients well. Drop by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.


Monday, April 20, 2015



Thing #44 Dry flowers from special occasions.



To dry flowers from a special occasion, hang them upside down in an out-of-the way place. Roses do especially well this way. Tie a tag to a stem that records the occasion. Once dried, put the flowers in a vase, and you’ll have a lovely arrangement—and a reminder of a lovely event.


Thing #45. RSVP.

Having recently helped with a wedding and reception, I’ve come to appreciate the RSVP. RSVP an abbreviation for the French phrase "répondez, s'il vous plaît," which means "reply, please." The few minutes it takes to let someone know if you plan to participate in their event eases stress and creates enthusiasm. So RSVP, and please do it ASAP.


Thing #46. Learn from an expert.

I took a tennis class in college, and learning a few basics really improved my game. It improved it from terrible to mediocre, but it did improve. Read a book—or a few web articles—about caring for houseplants. You’ll be surprised at what you don’t know. Same for photography. Better yet, spend time learning from a friend who is good at something you’d like to master. Then you’ll deepen a friendship at the same time.


Thing #47. Slip your electronic device into a resealable plastic bag when you need to protect it from drips and spills.

I learned this from my friend Cindy who didn’t want to drop her iPad in her hot tub. I use this tip when using my Nook as a cookbook.