Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Holiday Driving Update

It is Saturday, after Thanksgiving, and I want to give an update on my Road Through the Holidays.

In the limited concordance of my Bible I have 29 scripture references for various forms of the word thankful. In addition to my daily study I spent time writing down some of these scriptures and contemplating what they meant to me in my world.  Making time to "be still" I will admit to being less harried or rushed, even with a three day trip out of town to enjoy the holiday with family.

What was I looking for? Honestly, I'd hoped for that rush of inspiration when a concept is made clear, the meaning unmistakeable. The moment wasn't quite the rush I was looking for, more a quiet whisper across my heart.

Today, as I was reading through the blogs I follow Window on the Prairie  posted a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1896. The first stanza held the gem:

We walk on starry fields of white                                               
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight                                               
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.

My supreme delight should be in the common sights. Offer praises on these things. In my notes most of my reflections listed the common and daily issues as I mined my thoughts for the "supreme delight". I have reread my notes and see the supreme delight is, thankfully, already there.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV).

What insight did this Thanksgiving holiday provide you?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cruckson Quilt

I’m going to toot my own horn today . . . but first, this moment was made possible by my sister, Jackie, and so I want to give a big THANKS shout out to her. Jackie was in possession of a serger (an overlock sewing machine to the un-initiated) that she so graciously passed on to me. It sat, stored, in my extra closet for over a year as I made plans to set it up and learn how to use it.

Fortunately, at work, there was a request for stage curtains to be made and I saw my opportunity to put the serger into action and teach myself how to use it. Mission accomplished on both counts.

I then set my sights on a t-shirt quilt made out of ALL my son’s school shirts. Looking over the pattern it seemed a good idea to do a test quilt. I have many t-shirts from a recurring family reunion event that seemed perfect for the project.

The Cruckson Reunion t-Shirt quilt is now complete.
My new motto: Have serger will travel!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Grinch

The holiday season is typical for bringing out the best, and the worst, in us. The average individual is moved by the need of others and will generally go beyond the normal routine to extend compassion to those less fortunate.

With so much goodwill pouring from our heart and hands we extend that giving to our families by producing outside the norm through decorations, gifts, food and the like.

In the midst of all this goodness the normal chores and responsibilities must be continued.  Dark clouds can dim our celebration with the lack of assistance from family members in completing all the normal, required tasks plus those special extras we have endeavored to do for others. Why the dark clouds?

The lack of appreciation! Why can’t they appreciate what I’m doing for myself? I know this feeling because I stumbled across it the Christmas of ’02. I was rushing to make Christmas pajamas and not getting help, in what I thought was a timely manner, on the other fun and festive plans I had in play. My patience came to an end and the Grinch appeared. The conversation went something like this:

“Why are you so irritated?” In a calm, soothing voice.
“Because I’m trying to get these pajamas done and we need to finish . . .(and so on.)” Agitated and whiney.
“Why are you trying to do (this) now?” Calm and soothing.
“I’m doing it for you guys and I’m feeling very underappreciated!” High pitched and teary.
“Thank you for (all this) but don’t do it for us. We are having a good time without (them).” Logical and matter-of-fact.

Moral of the Story: If you are feeling underappreciated reevaluate who and why you are doing these things; are the decorations because ‘everybody’ else wants them or is it because you like them, is all that food necessary or do you want to have each special dish available, does that individual want that trinket or do you want three gifts for everybody.

If the Grinch starts taking up residence in your heart, stop, and remember what the Who’s down in Who-ville already know, “Christmas dosen't come from a store, Christmas is just a little bit more. Christmas day is in our grasp as long as we have hands to clasp; Christmas day will always be just as long as we have we.”

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Love In 300 Words

Donna's Book Pub, a blog I follow, posted about the opportunity to write and submit a senior love story . At 300 words it is an excellent writing exercise. Short stories require tight, concise and precise writing. Following is my parent’s story, which I've submitted. If you try this exercise come back and leave your link in the comments, I’d love to read your love story.

It was written in her 8th grade annual, for anyone to see, "I'm coming back to marry you." He was a 17 year old farm boy who liked to skate with trouble; he was on his way to the Marines. Her dad was the superintendent of schools, her mother a school teacher and they could see trouble coming.

In the 1950's the Portage roller skating rink was a party beacon for teenagers in a 50 mile radius. He skated tricky, fast, wild and slow with all the girls, even her sister. She was off limits and sister was the sentinel posted to say so.

He wrote her while in basic, declaring his love and intent to make her his own. In the spring, three years later, he knocked on the Edgewater Street door. She pushed aside her steady and her parent’s objections and married him in the fall. Aunt didn't waste time or money monogramming the towels; it wouldn't last.

High school dropouts they both returned to finish college; Bill going on to teach at a Junior College and Jane to become a Funeral Director. With the youngest child graduated, they sold their home and followed a dream to travel the highways and bi-ways of this great country. They spent twenty years living in the close quarters of a semi-truck as team drivers.

November, 2010 they celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary. Jane and Bill raised four daughters and enjoy four son-in-laws and seven grandchildren. They established their retirement home on the land that Bill grew up on, outside the town where Jane lived. They are active in the VFW, Historical Society, Friends of the Library and the First Congregational Church.

Love found a way through trouble, objections, and the test of time. Aunt, you should have monogrammed the towels.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Road Through the Holidays

I always approach the holiday season with anticipation and excitement. I love this time of year and all that comes with it; changing colors, smell of decaying leaves, fires in the fireplace, house slippers, electric bed heaters, decorating for Thanksgiving and Christmas. During this time I expect to draw closer to Jesus, understand Him better, have Him reveal Himself more clearly to me in the wonder and traditions that are the holidays.

Frequently, when January dawns, I look back over November and December for the moments of personal growth and soul drenching joy of the season, and do not find it.  There is so much effort put towards making everything festive and bright that Jesus was far from my mind and I, again, missed the joy of Him in the celebration. Church services, shopping, cooking and gift giving are all hurried to generate the most fun and celebration until it is all over, and I am in January, tired and tattered from all the revelry.

There are no illusions that the fault is my own. Therefore, this week, as I sought God in my studies and prayed for diligence to be more aware the Holy Spirit whispered across my mind that I need only to "be still".

Wow, who would have guessed that "being still" would cause me such angst.
I'm listening, though, and I have every intention of being obedient.

My plan is this; reading through the Bible passages that mention thanks, thankfulness or thanksgiving, through November, writing them down, pondering them and "being still". In December, reading through the passages associated with the Christmas story, writing them down, meditating on them and "being still".

It is my hope to enter January having thoroughly enjoyed the holidays for what they mean to me; to have spent quality time with my savior and be enriched and strengthened. Again, this is on me, can I be obedient to this plan? I'll let you know in January.

What do you do to celebrate Jesus in the holiday season?

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Ps. 46:10 NIV