The Red Journal

photo 1

Since 1999 my older brother has kept a Christmas journal that contains reflections on Christmas written by members of the family. Each Christmas one family member writes in the journal and then does a reading at the annual party.

journal

I recognize each person’s handwriting. What a special tradition.

2014 was my year. 


I wrap my children’s Christmas gifts early and put them out a couple weeks before Christmas day. If the gifts are out, you may wonder, how do I keep my children from squeezing and shaking and peeking at their packages in the days and weeks before Christmas? Wouldn’t the temptation to take a peak be just a little too strong? And what about the beautiful packaging – doesn’t it get bent and torn and worn away?

Yes and yes.

In fact, in our house there is a lot of movement of the gifts (by the children) – from upstairs in my bedroom, to down under the tree, to back up in the bedroom again. As you can imagine, there are repairs on the paper from holes and rips that, “accidentally” appeared there.photo 1 (3)

None of this bothers me. You see, I know that the majority of the pleasure derived from the gifts is experienced in the anticipation of opening them and seeing what is inside. Once opened, gifts often lose their luster and it doesn’t take long on Christmas day or the days following for the open gifts to be pushed aside and forgotten. Sweet treats from the stocking are found under the couch partially eaten and collecting dust, little makeup boxes lay empty and discarded while the eyeshadow they once contained is caked on my children’s faces or, occasionally, smeared into the sofa. The device they’ve wanted all year is discarded in preference of mom’s iPhone – as usual.

That’s OK too. As much as gifts and even lovely traditions (like this journal) are important and we hope they last for generations to come, gifts and traditions don’t make Christmas – Christmas. And Christmas will certainly not cease to be Christmas if all the gifts and traditions and trappings were taken away. The Whos taught us that.

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling:

Grinch: How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes, or bags!

Narrator: And he puzzled and puzzled, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”

-Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

So, what does Christmas mean?

I think most of us would agree that Christmas is the Celebration of the birth of a Savior. Everyone here tonight knows that. We come together at this time of year to celebrate the BIRTH of a Savior. Emphasis on the word, Birth.

Now, I am not against Jesus’ birthday, Christmas traditions or gift giving; the Bible encourages traditions and even the wise men gave gifts, but if that is where our Christmas celebration ends, our disappointment is guaranteed. We are left with emptiness, much like the feeling we experience after the gifts are finally opened and we wake up on the morning of the 26th to a house full of discarded wrappings and empty boxes. It’s not enough, it’s never enough – all the amazing and beautiful, best gifts in the world or fun Christmas events and parties can never truly satisfy the longing inside of us. In fact, once Christmas is finally all over, we are often left feeling relieved.

Now let me try to say this again, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a SAVIOR, emphasis on the word, Savior. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

The gifts will never satisfy because our hearts are longing for something much greater and more lasting – our forever home – heaven, Eternity with God Himself. A place and a time where the celebration will not be focused on the Savior’s birth but a place and a time where the celebration is focused simply, on the Savior.

Think of the generations of worshipers from the very first; those of old who looked forward with anticipation for a Savior who would one day come, to Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men, the disciples, the apostles, the early church, the very first believers in nation after nation as the Gospel spread all over the world and even to this present day. Imagine all those who have gone before us, and the true believers who are celebrating Christmas all over the world far and near even this very night. We, every true follower of Christ who has ever lived and is alive today, are invited, not just to celebrate the birth of this precious baby, but, in fact, we are all members of the wedding party in the most glorious wedding supper of all time. Rev. 19:9 “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” 

This same baby, God in human form, who entered this world in a stable and was laid in a manger grew into manhood and was victorious over death and the grave in order to give us the greatest gift ever given, one that can never be damaged or outdated or unsatisfying; the gift of Grace to save us from our sins.

And this gift, He is still offering it today. At this very moment, he is calling out to the lonely. The sick. The brokenhearted, The imprisoned. The depressed. The hungry. The dying. The lost. The deceived. The fearful. The poor. The proud. The haters. The smallest child and The aged. Those near and those far away.

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. Rev. 21:3-7

It’s why we celebrate – it’s what we celebrate – not just the birth of the savior – but what his birth represents – Emmanuel – God with us – our Savior has come.

Advertisements

Her Little Hands Far Away from Mine

Hands

Today my little P left for school in the morning with her sisters for the first time.

Until now she’s attended afternoon pre-K so she and I spent every morning together. Her little hands raised in the air as I pull on her shirt. Her hand on mine as I lift her up to sit on the toilet. Her tiny hand hidden in mine as we cross the street.

Right now her little hand is holding her friend’s or maybe someone else’s mom’s hand as she climbs into a big yellow bus for the first time. Her little hands are exploring the wonders of the children’s museum as she walks around on her first ever class trip. Her little hands are opening her brown paper bag to grab her chips and eat her lunch.

Her little hands, far away from mine.

Today my big P left for school in the morning with her sisters for the first time.

697

 

I link up with Lisa-Jo Baker every Friday and we write intensely for 5 minutes. Find us/Join us here: Five Minute Friday.

Guess what today’s word prompt was… 😉

 

Follow me on bloglovin’

True Story About Three Brothers

My paternal Grandmother was raised by her mother’s sister (Tante) after her own mother died. Tante was married to “Onkle” Fritz and they were the only “grandparents” my father ever really knew. Onkle Fritz and his two brothers immigrated from a part of Europe that was, at that time, Poland. Their surname was Plefkawitz.

ellisOnkle Fritz and his brothers each came to the US separately and entered one by one through Ellis Island. Somebody sure couldn’t spell because the three brothers, who ended up living mere blocks from each other in Camden, NJ, spent the rest of their lives with different last names.

Once registered at Ellis Island their surnames were changed to:

1. Plewka

2. Plefka (this official apparently had half a brain)

3. Palooka

Three brothers, three tombstones, three last names.

Maybe they wanted it that way…

liberty2

 

Follow the crazy on bloglovin’

When I Had Nothing

It’s not Christmas. It’s not even July. But today’s word of inspiration, NOTHING, brought to mind White Christmas.

Blessings

Betty & Bob sitting by the fire singing, Count Your Blessings (Instead Of Sheep).

“When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings”

A few years ago my girls and I were moving into our own apartment after living with my parents for a couple months. We had nothing. Absolutely nothing. I used to tell people, we don’t even have a toilet brush.

On the day we moved in, there it was – a brand new toilet brush. But not just that, there was furniture, kitchen appliances, bedroom fixtures, curtains and so much more. We had blessing after blessing poured out on us by family and friends and loved ones from our church. Someone even had leftover paint in their garage that was the exact color I had chosen for the walls. To this day I’ve saved the color sheets from Home Depot to remind me of that blessing. I never want to forget.

This post was written a part of 5 minute friday where you are given 1 word and only 5 minutes to write. Find the link here and join in.

Follow the adventures on bloglovin’

Depression, Family and the Healing Nature of Fishing Shows

Years ago my mother suffered from depression. I was a sophomore in college at the time and living on campus in another State. I knew she was struggling and I would call home and worry about her from afar. I felt helpless to do much more, but we kept on as a family; living, loving, moving forward.

After a time my mother emerged from the grip of depression and she wrote a letter to her four children describing the ways each one of us helped her through her dark days. I’ve never forgotten what she wrote to me, in fact, I may still have the letter somewhere. But for some reason, I’ve also never forgotten what she wrote to my younger brother.

He was the youngest in our family and the only child still living at home during the days of mom’s depression. She wrote in the letter that my brother helped her by making her sit with him and watch episode after episode of fishing shows. In some strange way, Bassmaster with her son was instrumental in drawing her back to the land of the living.

It’s no wonder that I can still remember the contents of the letter after twenty years, who knew that reality fishing programming could help open a door to the world beyond depression?

Last night, while I was watching a favorite fishing show myself, the memory of that time and mom’s letter came to mind. I’m not suffering from depression, but it was 10PM and I still had much to do before bed. Yet there I was, utterly mesmerized as I watched a man describe which fishing line worked best in various conditions and what types of bait he found most useful to catch illusive kinds of fish. As he held up lure after lure, I was hooked.

Maybe there is something healing or magical in watching a man fish?

Maybe Animal Planet or the WFN hold some sort of key to the cure for all kinds of ailments?

Maybe I’m just a little bit in love with Jeremy Wade.

jeremywade_2841614b

 

sigh.

 

Follow me on bloglovin’

Moms Will Understand

Mom-a-Three-Letter-Word

“I hear the word, “Mom!” a lot, and sometimes it causes me to cringe as if the sound of it were fingernails on a chalkboard. Yeah, it’s that bad.” -Me

I love my children, but let’s face it, it often seems like I am needed an awful lot. For single mothers especially, it can get overwhelming.

MOM: A Three Letter Word can be found over at Moms of Faith where I write every Wednesday and Saturday.

Follow me on bloglovin’

A Fictional Tale about a Fish Named Fred

There was once a hypothetical fish named Fred.

FREDHe was a big old, pale, butt-ugly Kissing Gourami who had been left to his own devices for far too long. Hypothetically, he lived alone in his tank. (Rumor has it that he ate all the other hypothetical fish.) Neither he, nor his master, took the time to clean the tank, so, in this hypothetical world, it was green and gooey and, needless to say, the nastiest hypothetical thing you have ever imagined.

One day Fred’s owner died, leaving Fred alone in the world save one lone relative who could not take him in. The Lone Relative, hypothetically, asked old friends of Fred’s master to please find someone to take poor old, ugly Fred in.

Hypothetically, the family friends asked everyone they could think of if they would take in a lone Kissing Gourami. They asked the cleaning man, Sal. They asked the Pre-K moms at school. They even, reluctantly, asked their hypothetical friends. No one could take in an old ugly, ornery Kissing Gourami. Hypothetically, they even considered Craig’s List and a Yard Sale, but never went that far.

In the end, hypothetically, they sold the dresser that the fish tank was resting on to an old Russian couple, so Hypothetical Fred had to go. Hypothetically, this occurred on the rainiest day anyone had seen in a long time. Rivers of hypothetical water rushed down the sides of the street from large drops of monsoon rains.

The family friends worked together and drained the water from the tank and then netted a somewhat freaked out Fred and put him in a Beta bowl that was much too small, much too cold and certainly, much too clean, hypothetically, that is. Family Friend Brother, hypothetically, repeated over and over again that Fred was “going to croak” in the small Beta bowl. At last, Family Friend Mother, Brother & Sister devised a plan to give Fred one last chance at life. Brother would dump Fred into the rushing waters of the street (hypothetically) and we (I mean, they) would hope for a miraculous adaption from filtered, heated water, to cold rain runoff.

Alas, Brother and Sister, hypothetically, watched from the window as Fred’s pale pink body resisted the flow of the water and was eventually washed a few feet downstream sideways.

The Family Friend Family consoled themselves with imagining that Fred’s hypothetical chances in the rain runoff were better than his hypothetical chances in the toilet bowl. And they couldn’t quite help chuckling at the thought of an unsuspecting person walking down the street catching sight of a big old, pale, butt ugly Kissing Gourami peering back up at them.

Hypothetically, of course.

 Follow me on Bloglovin’

It Didn’t Happen

It didn’t happen this week.

Every Wednesday I put up a post with household projects that I planned to do during the coming week and follow-up from the previous week. See example here. This REALLY helps me get projects done around the house – and I am LOVING it.

I knew this past week would be busy and I shouldn’t have planned anything, but I did. Aaaaaaand, it didn’t happen.

Oh well, it can wait til next week and instead of painting a vanity I had a ton of fun with my family celebrating Good Friday, Easter, Spring Break and my daughter’s eleventh birthday. (I told you I shouldn’t have scheduled anything.)

No Before’s and After’s this week my friends, however, I leave you with lovely collage of our week (mostly yesterday.)

the one

Sometimes, Making it Happen is building the family. 

See you next week when I will be back to the grind.