Friday, December 24, 2010

Church? Why?

Church folks sometimes are thought of as believing themselves to be better than other folks. "Hypocrites", "two-faced", and (my fav) "too heavenly minded to be any earthy good" are some regularly thrown slurs.
But the people I know at church are for the most part there because we are no different from the people at work or school who never go to church. We know we are no different. We know we deal with jealousy, control issues, guilt, anger, implusiveness and on and on. We've found we tend to carry all our accomplishments AND failures around - just like everyone else.
But church folk have found that at church each week all the illusions and delusions of the week can be sloughed off. We go to be reminded we are not in control. We are reminded that the burdens we carried all week can't compare to the ones others carried. We go to bow our heads, lift our eyes and be renewed.
We don't go because we're better than other people - we go because we know we're not.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Regret Much?

The writing below has hung on my fridge for many, many years. It changed my life and I found myself needing it this morning. I know my carpet is old (threadbare in places) and the furniture is very used and cat scratched and there is so often the temptation to let those things keep me from inviting people over. To worry about what people will think. That is why this list has changed my life - I've worked to not have these same regrets. And see, what people don't realize is it is WORK. It doesn't happen naturally, at least not for me. So, here's an early Christmas gift. Print it and put it on your refrigerator - see if it doesn't change your life, or at least this Christmas season.


I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have sat on the lawn and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner." There would have been more "I love you's." More "I'm sorry's."
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it, live it and never give it back. Stop sweating the small stuff.
Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what.
Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


How can you not be happy this time of year - look at all the lights, decorations, food, gatherings, music, and everything that December brings? Often I talk about what things I don't want to miss in order to not have any regrets at an event, a season, a holiday. Sometimes those things I don't want to miss - lights placed on the railings, the tree just so, cranberry relish, a full house, reading An Irish Country Christmas just seem to MAKE my Christmas.
But that's a fallacy, one I apparently fall in to rather easily.
The power I give a set of $2.99 lights. The importance I affix to a chocolate covered treat. The growing control I bestow on the days of December as they march to the 25th. All of that is backwards.
You see all that Christmas stuff is meant to be the RESULT not the REASON.
God touched earth - and not by accident. His heart filled with love and he reached his hand to us and gave us hope. Gave us a way to him. Gave us a way out of the darkness. The knowledge that the darkness is not my home, not my only choice makes me want to sing, light candles, and celebrate. Yes, celebrate. You know, like at Christmas.
When I look at everything as being my reaction to God's gift, it shines even more brightly. Result, not the Reason. How about you? Where have you bestowed power unwisely this year?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Where Are You in the Movie?

Contented is an normal description of me. Guilt about the past and worry about the future don't appeal to me, so I talk myself out of them before they get started good. My parents are pretty contented people, so it's not like I thought this all up myself.
But since coming home from Tennessee my contentment level is ratcheted up to a new high. The end of those five weeks of stress and uncertainty and unfamiliarity apparently pushed a reset button in me. Everything is good. No worries. Even when I try to get anxious or concerned about something, a smile creeps up and with one good sigh, I'm smiling like the Grinch with his triple-sized heart.
Christmas is less than two weeks away and I haven't done any shopping or cooking and I can't make myself get concerned about it.
Nothing is happening on the writing side of things, but I can't find the discouragement and frustration that used to pal around with me.
The angst that spurred my blog many mornings isn't showing up so I sit and smile at the computer screen and don't write one.
Lizzy and Mike were both sick last night. And while I kept the house quiet and went out to buy medicine, I did have the thought at one point that I should try to be a little less jolly.
This will, I'm sure, fade. Frustration, worry, anxiety will find it way back around. Blogs will contain deeper thoughts and smiling won't always be my favorite.
But for right now, it's where I am. Running down the snowy streets of Bedford Falls, whipping down a mountain with a sleigh full of toys and a happy dog, singing with the Peanuts gang by a little tree - you know - living at the end of a Christmas movie.
What part of the movie are you living at these days?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bad Gift Giver Here

I'm not a great gift giver. You know, the kind of gifts in boxes and bags with ribbons and such. There is this part of me that just wants to give money and let the person buy what they want. And yet I love when someone has found something that is just right for me. That burst of joy that says they know me and thought of me long enough to find this thing that will always remind me of them.
And it's not just that I can't think of what to buy, but I can't even think of what I want. At Christmas I love all the things surrounding the holiday and so many times thinking of gifts - to give or get - gets pushed way down on my list of things to think about.
Now before you say, "Oh, Kay, you are so unmaterialistic and focused on the true meaning of Christmas." ('cause I know you were going to say it). Don't. Gifts may not fill my head, but entertaining does. Opening my home whether for dinner, coffee, playing games, watching movies, talking, - really pretty much anything is my default when I think of fun or holidays. I'd so much rather have folks over than buy a gift.
But that's just me. And that's what I want to remember. Sometimes when I see someone very much into gifts I judge them as being too wrapped up (get it) in the wrong things. But I'm thinking I could be wrong. Why can't I just relax and enjoy each person without wondering why they aren't more like me? You know, right.
Merry Christmas (however you want to do it.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Practice has Consequences

It was one of my greatest gifts this past year. Lizzy, talking loudly to me from the kitchen said, "I'm turning into you."
My eyebrows did that downward thing they do when I'm trying to discern what I'm hearing. My, "What?" was quickly followed by my, "Why?"
Still with no discernable disgust in her voice she replied, "At the campsite this weekend me and the girls were in the little blow-up boat on the lake and I kept saying, 'It's just so beautiful' and every time I thought how I sounded like you."
So along with my inability to do math, apparently I passed along my ability to see beauty. (Honestly - math is soooo over-rated.) And I do believe it's an ability, a gift, an art, even a skill. And just like any ability or skill or gift, if it's not practiced it wanes.
On my extended stay up in Tennessee, where most days were partly spent in a medical facility, I noticed myself working on this gift. Seeking out floors with pretty views or cool architecture, paying extra attention on the drive to and fro, rearranging curtains at my folks house and lighting candles, purposefully driving by the lake or taking a little longer to look at the flowers in the gift shop. All in search of beauty.
Is seeing beauty something you have an aptitude for? Do you practice it? Or save it for when you have time and not so much on your mind? Do you only stumble across beauty - or do you go looking for it?
What are you practicing today? Whatever we practice, is what we become good at.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

To-do List - Who's the Boss Here?

How's that To-Do list looking? Tis the season, right? Being stressed and hurried jumps to a new level in December for a lot of us. Especially those with little kids and big expectations.
I realized years ago that the thing that stressed me out the most were those little things I wanted to do, but couldn't seem to make fit in before Dec. 25. Bake a special cookie, decorate the mail box, put up garlands on the front handrails, make a certain craft, and on and on. Those little things which add that finishing touch to the enjoyment of the season. However, until they were done they lurked there on the bottom of my To-Do list. Always there. And those years I didn't get around to them - I lamented that fact on Christmas Day, because then it was too late.
Now, I know I'm the only one who has ever done this - but just in case you're still reading - I fixed this problem.
I set earlier deadlines for those things. The things I just want to do. For example, if the railings don't have garlands by Dec. 15 - then they aren't being done. If that special cookie hasn't been made before the Sunday School party - then they aren't being made. Maybe it's just a way to spread out my stress, but it works for me. Because seriously - I do not want to even be thinking about these little things in the days leading up to Christmas.
Too often I let minor things steal my joy. They aren't unimportant - but they aren't worth as much as I make them out to be sometimes.
So today I'm spending a few moments with my To-Do list and putting it into perspective. After all, who's the boss here anyway?