Friday, December 25, 2015


In 2008 with our college-confined offspring living on scholarships, grants and student loans, we stopped spending money on Christmas presents and began focusing on presence.

In transition from presents to presence, my husband and I gifted winged ornaments for future evergreen trees -- an airplane painted in festive colors, softly feathered angel wings.

There can only be two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings. -- Hodding Carter

We come with empty hands and full hearts to celebrate Christmas and share a simple meal -- homemade potato soup, crusty bread, holiday cookies and Spumoni ice cream, or crepe-like pancakes, bacon and fresh fruit.

Friends and extended family often struggle to understand a Christmas without presents, and I struggle too, attempting to put words to a tradition forged over time ... and destined to change.

There’s a season for everything
    and a time for every matter under the heavens -- Ecclesiastes 3 more

As my husband and I spend this day together, just us two, we are quiet and content, having gathered with friends on the eve of Christmas to hear and share the miracle of Jesus birth, then caroling and prayer at fire stations and the hospital.

We celebrate tomorrow with our daughter, future son-in-law, son, daughter-in-law, and our two grandchildren at my parents' home with extended family -- nieces, nephews, uncles and aunts.

A new season is upon us. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."


Friday, December 11, 2015

joy and delight

My wish in this season of Advent?

Collect and affirm stories of triumph, celebration, joy and delight.

Joy and delight are easier to find these days. Grand-parenting seems to come more naturally to me than parenting, a small and flourishing seedling of patience, a God- cultivated gift, grows within me.

precious time
a rainy Tuesday afternoon
cold enough for a hat
skipping the mittens

a busy city street
a tree lot on the corner
tossing the tree
in the back of the jeep
instead of tying it on top

tiny hands helping
drag out the tree skirt
untangle the lights
string the pink beads
put the angel on top

add a few ornaments
sequin tree picks
Seuss-looking bling
clay airplanes, kid-made
one jack-in-the-box
snowmen, santas and stars


The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

Sunday, December 6, 2015

tipping point

The meltdown happened Saturday at 1:27 p.m.

My heart had reached the tipping point and i called my husband in tears, asking him to come get me and bring me home.

The cheerful holiday chatter and smell of baking cookies in a house filled with four generations put me on edge. The silent rumbling darkness in my heart threatened to surface and unleash an infestation of unaddressed conflict and poisonous enduring contempt.

The rumbling began a few days ago when my fingers retrieved the red-scarfed rabbit from the box of ornaments for our Christmas tree. The rabbit is the tangible reminder of my own gullibility. The soundtrack it cues up is decades-old laughter at my expense, a memory laced with stupidity and shame: watching for the jackalope mile after mile and day after day on a family vacation road trip in the 1970s.

The timing is no accident. My faith community is focusing on a 3 Scripture tool for evangelism: Matthew 22:37, Matthew 22:39, Matthew 28:18-20.

My struggle is within Matthew 22:27: loving God will all my heart, all my soul and all my mind. 

At a recent coffee with my friend-and-pastor, he encouraged me to open my heart to God. Since that meeting i have been intentional in my prayer and meditation, asking God to remove whatever is keeping us apart.

The self- and other-centered contempt i hold within my heart is what God is revealing and redeeming.  He invites me to excise the bruised and wounded flesh, to make room for His gifts.

As my grandson and i add more decorations to the tree my heart ponders the question: What am i hoping for this Christmas? 

i am hoping to collect and affirm stories of triumph, celebration, joy and delight -- to love my children and grandchildren in a way that invites and embraces heaven here on earth.

tip·ping point
noun: tipping point; plural noun: tipping points
  1. the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change. 

    definition source: