A little over a month ago…I got up early as is my wont to do…did a few things I usually do…open the blinds, clean out the dishwasher…heavens I always run it as I go to bed…sit on the couch for a few minutes as I think through the day…then go in and turn on the computer…look at the news, read a few blogs and websites, so I will be up to date on theCandlelight vigil for murdered 10 yr old overnight news and views…then move on to other things…but that morning when I read the home page news…and as I read the story about a 10 year old girl who was abducted in broad daylight…found murdered in the basement of a neighbor…in trash bags and storage containers…and a picture of a candlelight vigil in Springfield, Missouri, where hundreds came out…that put me over the edge…as my Mom used to say, “that’ s the last straw”…I knew I had to write something, though I didn’t know then and even now, as I write, what it would be…even though it was as the proverb said, “…the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.”…

You probably know the scene in the Christmas movie, “The Christmas Story”…called the Scut Farkus affairScut Farkus affair, where Ralphie loses it after months of being picked on by Scut Farkus and his toady, Grover Dill…standing there after being irritated by a number of problems that stretched Ralphie’s endurance beyond his limit…”the last straw” happened, Scut Farkus hit him in the face with a snowball…and that was “it”..the fight was on and Ralphie “lost it”…it is kind of the way I felt that day…after seeing all the negatives on the news…where almost all of the things I believe in are being attacked almost everyday…where even at the highest levels of society, government, entertainment and culture…seem to be turning away from what I believe has made our country great…and how I saw this little girl being killed as part and parcel of that downward slide we are on in this culture…

And I see things on a fast trip into the abyss…I remember so well, in my former life, B.R. (before retirement)…I was  a principal of a large high school…one of my axioms was, “it takes a week to lose it and a year to get it back”…I saw it happen many times…at the high school level, if you change something, like a rule, and it is less controlling than the former, it is easy to change the rule…but almost impossible to change it back…it can be done but it takes a lot of time and a lot of work…I’ve been there, I know…I remember when I became the principal of our school…there were many things I felt I had to “clean up” to return the school to do what we were charged to do…educate…to be a place where teachers can teach and kids can learn…that seems simple but there are many things which work to stop that from happening…look around you, at schools that work and those that don’t…it doesn’t take much time to see why…but getting the right person or group of persons on board and willing to do the hard work to make it happen is the difficult task…but I digress…it is also true in our culture..as we give up mores and cultural principles that we have live with “forever”…easy to change, difficult to return to them again…

I have a poem written in the front of my Bible…it goes like this:Alexander Pope

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

Written by Alexander Pope, 1688-1744, from his epic poem, “An Essay on Man”…published in 1733-34…vice meaning sin…mien meaning conduct…so if I have written this way in the front of my Bible…”Beware of this human weakness: first we abhor…then we pity…finally, we embrace“…put another way: ”sin first unthinkable, is grudgingly tolerated, then condoned, then endorsed, then openly promoted as acceptable in God’s eyes”…we see it all the time…things thought unimaginable are being endorsed…

So when I see people being mislead by whomever they are listening to or watching, I know how the process works…it is a breakdown of morals and values, that have been taught by parents, schools, churches, synagogues, culture in general for generations…then I read about Miley Cyrus…a young girl, maybe over 18, but young…and her move from being Hannah Montana to what she is today…how did that happen…drugs, sex, and all the rest…I look to her parents, her “handlers”…they have talked her into this kind of life…if this continues, it will not go well with her…those of us who are older have seen this many times…and her parents think this is a great thing for her…I see it as tragic…I feel badly for her…but she has been “groomed” by those around her…though she would not see it that way now, I’m sure…we desperately need to return to the morals and values that many in this country still hold dear… 

I read a memoir recently by Jeannette Walls, “The Glass Castle”…it is a good read…almost unbelievable but a good read..without going into the book itself…one of the last lines in the book goes like this:Glass Castle

[“A wind picked up, rattling the windows and the candle flames suddenly shifted, dancing along the border between turbulence and order.” -Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle]

It’s where I see us as a culture…dancing along the border between turbulence and order…there still are those who want us to stand against the onslaught of turbulence but even in the highest places in government, in churches, in entertainment…no one seems too interested in providing the role models to follow…and seem to attack those of us who still want high standards…let me pick on churches for a moment…like Calvin Miller wrote in “Letter to a Young Pastor”…“Confess what the centuries have labeled the historical faith, or, well…follow the crowd of those “new kind of Christians” who arrive at the old kind of nothing yet still believe themselves faithful…”…I know, I am only hitting the high ground, ignoring the valleys, gulleys and draws…but you get my drift…Where are we going?…What shall we be if we continue down this path?…I say put on the brakes before we can’t stop at all…this will end badly if we don’t…that 10 year old girl and all the 10 year olds around us deserve a better world to live in…the one we are headed for is not so good…

I just finished “Goodbye, Darkness”, a memoir of the Pacific War by William Manchester…a story of his time in WWII…at the end of his book he tries to put it all in focus…to answer why they served…it is a bit more than I will share here…but this is some Goodbye, Darknesss by William Manchesterof it…“It was an act of love. Those men on the line were my family, my home. They were closer to me than I can say, closer than any friends had been or ever would be…Actually love was only part of it…we had to be tough too. To fight WWII you had to have been tempered and strengthened in the 1930′s depression by a struggle for survival…devotion overarched all this. It was a bond woven of many strands…You also needed nationalism, the absolute conviction that the United States was the envy of all other nations…Wickedness was attributed to flaws in individual characters, not to society’s shortcomings…to accept unemployment compensation, had it existed, would have been considered humiliating…Debt was ignoble. Courage was a virtue. Mothers were beloved, Fathers obeyed. Marriage was a sacrament. Divorce was disgraceful. Pregnancy meant expulsion from school or dismissal from a job. The boys responsible for the crimes of impregnation had to marry the girls. Couples did not keep house before they were married and there could be no wedding until the girl’s father had approved. You assumed that gentlemen always stood and removed their hats when a woman entered a room. The suggestion that some of them might resent being called “ladies” would have confounded you…All these and “God Bless America” and Christmas or Hanukkah and the certitude that victory in the war would assure their continuance into perpetuity…”

But it is not so…every generation must fight the battle for the survival of this great country…so far this generation has not done well…I still have great faith in America…there are still millions of Americans who believe in values that have made us great…that includes American’s in every walk of life, every background…churches, families, individuals need to stand…we may be the last one standing but we must stand…it will be a struggle but one we must win…God help us…Jesus said in Matthew 12:25…Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.

It’s about noon, a couple of days ago…I am in a very normal spot for me…sitting in our GMC Yukon, in a parking lot, in Little Rock, Arkansas…now it could be any parking Yukon 2007lot…normally I am waiting for Judie while she is shopping and since I am not a great companion when shopping…you know…for me shopping is a bit different…I know what I want before I go in, I go in…I get the item or items and walk out…but shopping to Judie is a bit different…she may not need anything so she is just looking…and without going into detail…you get the point…

So I sit…and wait…I believe, this being our 7th year in Little Rock, I am no doubt well known on the various parking lot cameras throughout West Little Rock, where we live…don’t get me wrong, I prefer it this way…no amount of encouragement or threat can get me in most stores on most days…without needing something, that is…so I sit and enjoy the weather, read, think, plan…and of course make my lists…another story, but a “rich” one I assure you…

Now where was I…Oh yes, it was about noon…this time I was waiting for Judie while she was in the dentists chair…I need room, air, freedom, so, far out in the large parking lot, away from all cars…I was reading, thinking and of course going over my lists…it is late Dennis the Menace and JoeyMarch and it should be in the 70′s and more by this time…but this year, we are a bit behind, like most of the country…but the flowers, bushes and trees are blooming…no wind, the sun was shining and it was beautiful…I had my arm out the window of the Yukon…the sun shining down…just a Bluebird day (as my Mother used to call them)…just perfect…the sun’s angle is high enough to make you warm all over…just a wonderful day…so in this setting, my mind wandered…just thinking…like Dennis the Menace said to his friend Joey, as Dennis was on his back looking up at the sky…Joey had evidently asked him what he was doing…Dennis replied, “Just watching the world go by, Joey…just watching the world go by.”

Not only was it warm but the air had a wonderful smell…it smelled of Spring…the grass, the trees budding, the flowers…heavens it was a grand day…perfect blue sky…and wait, all Bougainvilleathis reminded me of something…Oh, ya…I remembered…I was immediately in Tucson, Arizona…at Judie’s Mom and Dad’s…back in the 80′s maybe…we used to go and visit from time to time…the sun was hot but not too hot…like today, I said…yup, like today…sky blue, light wind…sitting on their deck smelling the blooming orange tree and grapefruit tree…and warm, it was warm…the aroma was wonderful…and next to the deck was Bougainvillea…flowering as it climbed up the arbor…beautiful pink blossoms…and that triggered a thought or two…

Bougainville…WWII…my Dad…Milne Bay, Manus Island and the Admiralty Islands…New Guinea…the Southern Cross…all of that from a parking lot in Little Rock, Arkansas…Bougainvillea gets it name from a French explorer Louis Antonie de Bougainville…heavens he has nothing to do with the Bougainvillea except for the plant and flower to be named for him…and the island too…he was the first French explorer to circumnavigate the earth…and they named the flower for him as they were in South America, because that it where the plant was found…and the island, because they were there…Bougainvillea doesn’t even grow there…so much for my mind working…but it Milne Bay, Papua New Guineadoesn’t end there…

My Dad went into the Navy on October 28, 1943, leaving Mom at home with two little boys…my brother Jack, about 5 and me, about 2…after basic training, he shipped out on the USS Cinnamon, a net tender, and left for the South Pacific…via Hawaii and then on to Milne Bay, New Guinea, and Manus in the Admiralty Islands which were near the Solomon Islands, of which Bougainville is one…it was the site of a major battle for the Marines in 1943…he served near New Guinea until the end of the war in 1945…the net tender protected the harbors from submarines and other attacks by surface ships…all that from the parking lot in Little Rock…

The Southern CrossAnd the Southern Cross, not something we in the Northern Hemisphere know much about…but in the Southern Hemisphere, right there in the night sky is the Southern Cross…it is also on the flag of Australia and New Zealand…it’s much like Orion here in the Northern sky at night…not large but easily seen…I used to scan the skies at night as a kid looking for the Big Dipper and how the Little Dipper “pours” into the Big Dipper…and the North Star is part of the Big Dipper…and that cluster of stars so close together…Oh, you bet, that is Orion…so it is with the Southern Cross…it stands out in the night sky…and you can navigate by it…my Dad saw it, he was there, near Australia…so many years ago…

Not quite all…if you ever saw “South Pacific” or heard the music…by Rogers and Hammerstein…the movie and play were set on a South Pacific island…in the movie Mitzi Gaynor played Nellie Forbush…she was from Little Rock, Arkansas, and had fallen in love with a Victory At Searich French plantation owner…and Richard Rogers wrote the music but he was also famous for other music…for example the “Victory At Sea” series from the 50′s…


…it was on TV at the time and I have it on DVD now…I also have the music on CD…I will add it here…it was great music to go along with the naval history of WWII…one of his songs in that series is for the episode called “Beneath the Southern Cross”…it depicts the battleships in convoy and the loneliness of the sailors in the South Pacific during WWII…this tango melody is also used in “No Other Love Have I” from the musical “Me and Juliet”…and was itself a popular song in the 1950′s…

So how was the trip…I had a great time…a March day, 2014…in Little Rock, Arkansas…join me sometime…just grab a piece of parking lot on a wonderful sunny day in your area…just you and your own history…with your interests…all the rest is free…have a great Spring…

 

Posted by: Jim E | February 26, 2014

Growing Up…An Adult…Or…Pajama Boy…

Now in my 72nd year, it seems odd that I can still see me as I was growing up…Oh, not everything but many things…the people around me, my parents, my grandparents, other relatives, neighbors and friends…they are still at the age that they were the last time I saw them…many have died and others drifted into their own lives, as I have…but growing up was a wonderful time, many uncertainties of course, many sorrows…but mostly good memories…as I have said many times, “life is hard but life is good”…and it is that…img027

But as I remember those years, I realize that my memories are only snippets, pieces of a puzzle that we all toil over, as we grow into who it is we will become…I do remember though, I always wanted to be an adult…to make decisions that adults got to make…go places, do things…but mostly to be a man, have a job, have a family…heavens, I wanted to be like my Grandpa…he was a man’s man, he had a job and worked hard…he was talented, he could build…he built his own house…he knew about plumbing and electricity…he fixed his own car…he was faithful to my Grandma, to his family, to his neighbors, to his friends…he was responsible, was in control of his life…did not want to depend on anyone…he was a free man…he lived in that kind of world…

The world has changed a lot since those days, I know…but even today, the right and chance to be free…to be in charge of our own lives without interference from the government or anyone else for that matter…we see that kind of desire from many in our society…when I saw our own government come out with a “sales pitch” really, about Obamacare…with the picture of what some detractors havePajama Boy described as “Pajama Boy”…living at home, with his parents…a 27 year old in a “onesie”, drinking hot chocolate…it was disquieting to me…I thought, “Are there adult age “kids” like that?”…and I guess there are…but it runs against everything I believe and my Grandfather would wonder, like me, what is happening to this country?…

And though there are things which are disconcerting to me…I somehow still believe in America…I still hold on to the beliefs that established this country…based on freedom, liberty and self-reliance…I still think it is there, though there are forces which are trying to undermine it day by day…the desire to get a job, to be on your own, setting up goals and working over years to reach those goals…I believe that is still within the heart of most Americans…to move on, not be dependent on parents or the government to reach those dreams…

It’s funny, thinking about growing up…I think I remember when “it” happened…now I don’t know if it was that moment in time…but a “happening” made me believe I was on my way…and maybe you can remember the same kind of thing…it was one particular Christmas, I describe it this way, “the year I grew up”…that Christmas came and it was just not the same, we had the same kind of Christmas, the tree, presents, the meal, friends and relatives…but something was missing, I didn’t know what it was for sure…it was somehow less fun, though I still loved it…then I realized what many have said since then, Christmas is for kids…the magic of being a child at Christmas is wonderful…and even as an adult there is a certain magic about that season…but for a child, it is more, and that is what happened…there was a changeover, I didn’t necessarily like it…but knew it was good…it was what I always wanted…to become more Babes in Toylandlike the adults that were around me…and so I left childhood behind…

There is a song, from the Christmas season even…I heard it again this year…”Toyland”, written by Victor Herbert, in 1904, one of the songs in his operetta “Babes in Toyland”…in the song which is the theme of the operetta tells the story of what I am talking about…happy in childhood, that toyland, but once you pass its borders, you may never return again…I think you will remember the melody of the song…

Toyland, toyland
Little girl and boy land
While you dwell within it
You are ever happy there

Childhood’s joy land
Mystic merry toyland
Once you pass its borders
You can ne’er return again

When you’ve grown up, my dears
And are as old as I
You’ll laugh and ponder on the years
That roll so swiftly by, my dears
That roll so swiftly by

Childhood’s joy land
Mystic merry toyland
Once you pass its borders
You can ne’er return again  

And so, we who’ve passed its borders, though we may not have wanted to let it go at the time…once we have, we can never return again…and those who wish to, or try to, or remain beyond the years allotted to childhood, are in for a “rude awaking”, as my Mom used to say…life passes by with astounding speed, with experiences we must have to make it successfully through the gauntlet that lies ahead…

It reminds me a bit of the film “Field of Dreams”…at the end of the film, Ray Kinsella, having brought Archibald “Moonlight” Graham to play baseball on his field in Iowa…his brother-in-law urges him to sell the farm…The next morning Mark implores Ray to sell the farm. Karin says that they won’t need to because people will pay to watch the ball games. Terence agrees that “people will come” to relive their childhood innocence, and Ray refuses to sell. Frustrated, Mark scuffles Field of Dreamswith Ray, accidentally knocking Karin off the top of the bleachers. Archie runs to help and, stepping off the field, becomes the old “Doc” Graham. After he saves Karin from choking, Ray realizes that Graham cannot return to the field as a young man. After reassuring Ray that his true calling was medicine, the players shake his hand and he leaves. Suddenly able to see the players, Mark urges Ray not to sell the farm.

Given the chance to stay young and play baseball, “young Doc Graham” decides to cross “that line” between staying forever young and becoming the “Doc” Graham he was always meant to be…it is always the choice we all have to make…I know people who never have decided to “grow up”…they always stayed immature and dependent…thinking this was a choice they could make and things would remain as they were…but it never works that way…the ends are difficult and most of the time disastrous to all involved…an immature person is ineffective in life, making little impact in their own lives or the lives of others…

My Grandpa was forced at an early age to chose…he was sent by his father from Canada to Minneapolis to friends who said they would take responsibility for him and his two brothers…it did not go well, it was an abusive situation and at about 13 he ran away to make his way…it was a difficult time…spent some time in an orphanage, went West and worked as a cowboy and in the end fell in love, married, had a family, and grandkids…one of them, me…he was my hero, my Saving Pvt. Ryan whispersidol…I wanted to be like him…responsible, be a leader, be loyal, and all that he was…and like at the end of the film “Saving Private Ryan”…Private Ryan, now an old man, stands at the grave of Captain Miller…he remembered the words of Captain Miller, “James, earn this… earn it.”…this follows:

Old James Ryan: [addressing Capt. Miller's grave] My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.

Ryan’s Wife: James?…

[looking at headstone]

Ryan’s Wife: Captain John H Miller.

Old James Ryan: Tell me I have led a good life.

Ryan’s Wife: What?

Old James Ryan: Tell me I’m a good man.

Ryan’s Wife: You are.

[walks away]

Old James Ryan: [stands back and salutes]

That’s really all my Grandfather ever wanted…to be a good man…it’s all I have ever wanted…

I guess there are many answers to the question, “What day is it?”…I was just reminded the other day of Winnie the Pooh’s conversation with Piglet, about this very question…pooh-and-piglet What day is itwhen Pooh asked Piglet that question, he answered as we all know he would…”It’s today.”…”My favorite day.” was Pooh’s response…I guess it couldn’t have been put any clearer…any simpler…and more concise than that…heavens that’s my view on things too…to rate days according to any other set of standards would be presumptuous, given we have no assurance of tomorrow…and only have yesterday to compare to…Oh, I suppose Piglet could have answered, as someone else did, with “Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Saturday”…but he didn’t, he answered the way Piglet would answer…and really the way I would answer if I were as quick as A. A. Milne, the creator of Winnie the Pooh…because today is my favorite day…

When you put a few years on, as I have, you have a tendency to live in the present…not next week or tomorrow…though I guess we have a tendency to relive our lives a bit…remembering days gone by…but once that is done, we enjoy the fact that we are alive…and can still enjoy everything around us…my answer to those who ask how I am doing or how my day it going…I most always respond with, “I upright and breathing, I can’t ask for anything more.”…it is kind of like Pooh’s response I guess…my favorite day is today…

Recently, Geico Insurance has asked a question like that in a commercial of theirs…you know, “Happier than a camel on hump day”…it has been around and around online…and still, every time I see it, I can’t help but smile…you Camel Guess what day it isknow, the camel, hump day, the voice, the humor and the ever ready thought that Wednesday is the middle of the work week…and so we are half way there…it has a very strong message…and whether the insurance part of the message ever gets across I don’t know…but it does help answer the question of what day is your favorite day…

When I was working as a principal of a large high school…I never had a favorite day…everyday had its full compliment of problems and we had to deal with them no matter what day it was…I use to tell my staff  that there are a certain number of problems that we were going to have every week and if there were one or two “easy” days…watch out, because the rest were coming tomorrow or the next day…and it always seemed to be true…and it always seemed that on Friday it would be a late day dealing with issues…and Monday, we always had weekend issues that spilled over into school…never a letup…and though we never got “used to it”…yet we worked it out between us, trying to get ahead of the curve, so to speak…so even there, today was my favorite day…

The other day I read an excerpt from a book by Joseph Balkoski, “Beachhead toBrittany and Brest Brittany”, the story of the Army’s 29th division during the D-Day and beyond…he has written a five volume history of the 29th from D-Day to the end of the war…in this passage you will see that this particular day after experiencing thousands of casualties in the battle to this point…this just had to be their favorite day…here is the 29th division’s best day…September 18, 1944…from the book, “From Beachhead to Brittany”, by Joseph Balkoski…

 

If the beginning of the end at Brest could be defined by a single moment, that moment came at 7:45 AM on Monday, September 18, 1944. At sunrise the alert 29ers of the 115th Infantry’s Company E, under the command of 2nd Lt. Roderick Parsch, had peered through the ground fog toward the massive, fortress like buildings of the French Naval Academy, the focal point of the enemy’s last-ditch defensive line in front of Brest’s inner harbor. The GIs were on edge, for they held orders to execute a frontal attack against those buildings at 10 AM, and they knew the assault, which would have to be carried out across 600 yards of wide-open no-man’s-land, would be grueling and costly in lives. But as sunlight gradually dissolved the mist, Parsch’s men observed an astonishing sight. Someone was waving a large white flag back and forth from a window of the academy. It was an electrifying moment, and the 29ers willingly held their fire as four Germans emerged from the academy and steadily tramped toward the American lines.

That particular day had to be their best day…they had to go on and fight many battles in WWII…but on that day…that day…it was their best day…the surrender just made their day…

So how about you?…What day is it?…Today?…My favorite day…for me sometime a particular day is more difficult than another…but though our days may This is the day that the Lord has madebring, like the 29th division, many more battles ahead, yet today is the best we have…it’s today…my favorite day…and since I think of most things from a Biblical perspective, I thought immediately of Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

 So we come full circle…today has to be my favorite day…it’s the day the Lord has made…and just as simple as Pooh and Piglet…since today is my favorite day…I intend to rejoice and be glad in it…hope you do too…
Posted by: Jim E | January 14, 2014

Elephant, Mouse, Blue Whale And Jonah…

I wrote this in April 2010…it has had more than its share of reads over the years…that is a mystery in itself…but read on, you may enjoy it too…

Elephant, Mouse, Blue Whale and Jonah…

And I could add…a White Rose…the Resurrection…and other mysteries…more on that later…

A mystery…something not understood or is beyond understanding…it can only be known by revelation and even then we cannot fully understand…there are lots of them in life…things that happen and we cannot explain why it happened…those of us who are Christians many times will attribute God intervening in our lives…

You know…we meet someone for the first time and it turns into a serendipitous meeting…with just the “right things” happening and said…and after we can’t believe what just happened…happenstance?…most people say so…we may say so…but in the back of our minds…we wonder…was that more than just happenstance…

Or we are saved from an accident happening by just inches or a few seconds…and there are thousands of situations that have happened to all of us…we “know” that God had His hand in this situation or that…it just couldn’t have happened by accident…

A Cracking of the Heart

I read a book called “A Cracking of the Heart”…I posted something from that book some weeks ago…but let me quote from the book…written by a Jewish writer, David Horowitz…first, let me remind you it is about his daughter who had just died…

“Three months after we buried her, spring turned to summer, and the skeletal garden in front of the Berkeley house came back with a flourish, exfoliating in petal reds and leafy greens. On a bright morning, moving among the bougainvillea and vines, Elissa came upon the stalk of a single white rose. ‘I never believed in the idea of a spiritual presence before,’ she said when she told me of her find. ‘But no one planted a white rose in that garden, and none ever appeared before now. I can’t look at it, without thinking of Sarah.’ Like her mother, I am skeptical about mystical phenomena. But, like her, I believe in my daughter, and in her exemplary life, and I feel her presence every day.”

Even to someone who would not agree with a Christian saying that God may have something to do with that white rose…he and his wife still have been confronted by a mystery…it cannot be explained and it cannot be denied…only given the meaning that he wrote above…in another place in the book he talks about another mysterious idea…he said that his daughter did not believe in the messianic resurrection but he now thinks of the resurrection of his daughter in this way…that after losing a loved one…“Pay attention to the ways in which your relationship continues.”...

I have found that to be true in my life (and I believe in the messianic resurrection!!!)…that after losing my Mom and Dad…as I have had time to remember and think about them…I have found that our relationship has continued…remembering things they said and did…my time with them…it continues that relationship…no doubt a mystery…most of a younger age would said that is stupid…and is a stupid idea…aah, yes, it is a mystery…one that may come later in life…those of us of a certain age can relate to the death of a loved one or loved ones…and how that relationship continues…

And how about the blue whale…the elephant…the mouse…and Jonah…I read this in National Geographic Magazine a year ago…and saved it…for what I’m not sure…but here goes…if we are talking about mysteries…things we don’t understand…National Geographic was describing the blue whale…the species name in Latin is musculus, meaning, “mouse”…apparently a joke…The “little mouse whale” can grow to 200 tons and 100 feet long. A single little mouse whale weighs as much as the entire National Football League. Just as an elephant might pick up a little mouse in its trunk, so the elephant, in its turn, might be taken up by a blue whale and carried along on the colossal tongue. Had Jonah been injected intravenously, instead of swallowed, he could have swum the arterial vessels of this whale, boosted along every ten seconds or so by the slow, godlike pulse.

Now that is a mystery…something I can’t understand…the largest creature ever to live…I stand as amazed by what the National Geographic Magazine describes and we know this whale lives, we have seen them on TV, maybe in person…an elephant on the tongue…a man being able to swim through its blood vessels…we may not understand, we may not even want to believe…but it is so…

And just as the mouse, the elephant, the blue whale, Jonah, the white rose that appeared, the resurrection and other mysteries in this life happen around us…many times they cannot be explained but they cannot be denied…I have chosen to live “with them”…and give all the praise to the God who is in control…that, of course, is the biggest mystery of them all…

Posted by: Jim E | December 23, 2013

Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…A Gift To You…

Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…A Gift To You…

 

I wrote this about 1995, give or take a few years, I really can’t pinpoint the year…I think I have shared this every year since then in some form or another…with some audience or another…read it to the students at school over the intercom…gave it as a Christmas letter…Oh, all kinds of ways…I always thought it was about my Grandma and her fruitcake she always made…but in the end it became something more…I don’t really know what it will be for you…but enjoy Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake and all the love that always came with it…

There are all kinds of jokes and stories about fruitcakes…there is one that says…there are only so many fruitcakes that have ever been made in the world and they are the same ones being given away every year…or the one that fruitcakes are good for something, like a doorstop…and another, that the post office this time of year puts out a warning…if you get a package with no return address, it is over 5 pounds and it smells funny, be careful, it may be a fruitcake…and it goes on and on…

But I can tell a story about fruitcake and about a woman who made them…it was my grandmother…Grandma Reggin, my mom’s mother…she is the only one I know who made fruitcake and did what is suppose to be done with them…gave them away…

Grandma was born in 1896…in fact she would have been 114 years old last July…she lived a little over 72 years…and she could cook and bake…and she made fruitcake…every year, I always ate a little fruitcake but never cared much for it…the candied fruit was a little much for me…but my Grandpa Reggin, he loved it…he loved the candied fruit, the nuts, the spices and the dark cake, full of flavor…he loved everything about fruitcake…and because he was a hero to me…I tried to eat it…but just couldn’t get into it…

My Grandma, at Christmas time, when people visited, would put out ample slices of fruitcake, and I would watch while the Hungry Boy cookies, the decorated sugar cookies and the date-filled cookies, that my Grandma was famous for, would disappear…but much of the fruitcake was still on the plate…

My Grandfather, as I said, loved fruitcake…and he really liked it with a real cup of coffee…(Grandpa was a coffee roaster for McGarvey Coffee Company in Minneapolis…I use to go and watch him roast those green beans that had no smell…into those dark beans we know as coffee beans…full of aroma)…and by a real cup of coffee, I mean he wanted one that, as he put it, “That I can stand a spoon up in.”…and maybe a little cream…and he would savor that fruitcake with that “real cup” of coffee…I can see that picture in my mind, and “I savor” that time with him…

So Grandma would make fruitcake…I mean she made fruitcake!…we lived next door to my grandparents and I went over there everyday…and close to Christmas every year she would begin to bake in earnest…she made pounds of fruitcake…wrapped them in waxed paper, “tin foil” and ribbon…and put them on the unheated covered back porch to keep fresh until she gave them away…she also made Hungry Boy cookies by the hundreds and other cookies to give away…she would give them to the paperboy, milkman, mailman, at the gas station, the meter reader…just anyone who provided service to her during the year…and off they would go with some cookies and of course a fruitcake to share at home…it was her gift of love at Christmas…

No doubt I loved Grandma very much…her modeling this love at Christmas…her unselfishness and devotion to others came out often…when anyone would criticize someone…she would say, “You just don’t understand.”…the idea was, if you only understood, you would not criticize…never an unkind word came out of her mouth, at least in my presence…she was without peer in that area of life…

I remember getting in the car with her and going down to pick up my Grandpa after work…I would go with her often when I was quite young…and especially the day or so before Christmas, when she and I would load up the old Plymouth with all the precious cargo she had made…go down to McGarvey’s and take the bounty into the office area and the giving would begin…

It was an large open office area…with all the desks in a row…and down at the far end, behind glass walls, were the offices of the president and other officers…and in we walked…Grandma in front and me trailing behind carrying my share…as we passed each desk, she would place some cookies, all wrapped up…and of course, a fruitcake at each desk…they all thanked her and talked to her as we went on with our Christmas giving…

And as we inched toward the president’s office, I was apprehensive…but my Grandmother was not…she was a simple woman…as people would look at her today and even then…but not to me and to those who knew her…she was kind, generous and loving…and did not hold a negative thought about anyone…nor that they would ever think anything negative about her…that was her attitude and it was disarming then as it is today…it didn’t really matter what the president or those in the other offices were doing, she would stand there patiently…and they would always stop what they were doing and come out to wish her “Merry Christmas”…talk for a while…thank her for her gifts and we would leave…I don’t know if anyone else could have got away with that…but she did…

So this wonderful woman, who spent some of her growing up years in an orphanage, because her mother could not take care of her…had four children…all raised in a house 20 feet by 40 feet…and out of that kitchen in that house came a legacy which I share with you today…one of giving and love…it was Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…

And at the end of her life…I sat on the hospital bed next to what had become a frail body of this marvelous woman…and leaned over and took her beautiful face in my hands…kissed her and told her again, the wonderful gospel story of Jesus…who came as a babe, who lived and died for her…who was waiting for her…to escort her home…and for the last time told her I loved her…and let her go…

I wish you Joy, Peace…and wonderful memories…Merry Christmas…

Ingebretsen’s…Swedish Sausage…And A Christmas Story…

 

This post I wrote in 2010…and it starts with comments about the year before that…but that’s okay…and you will have to put up with my Minnesota/Scandinavian talk again…but it really won’t hurt you, I promise…just a little trip down memory lane for me…and for you, well, to get you to go back to your memories…stretch a little and remember…it’s where life really begins, when you begin to remember…and don’t miss the very short story at the end…it is full of  forgiveness, giving, mercy and grace…and part of small town living, that is for the most part gone…it happens here and there, but for the most part gone from our “popular culture”…so this then, if we will “remember”, is all part of your and my Christmas celebration…enjoy…

I started this blog a year ago…and one of the first posts was about our son Jess, in Minneapolis, sending us Swedish sausage from Ingebretsen’s on Lake Street in South Minneapolis…and you can read that post by browsing the archives on the right of this post…it was a great moment as Jeremy and I saw that Fedex truck…and knew it was the Swedish sausage that was going toward our house…well, read it for yourself if you wish…

Ingebretson’s…they have been on that corner of Lake Street in South Minneapolis for longer than I have been alive…it was started in 1921…so that is 89 years, give or take a month here or there…I mentioned that we bought some Swedish sausage (also some meatball mix) when we were in Minneapolis this summer…we have had some at Thanksgiving and will have another “ring” at Christmas…although Swedish sausage is available all over the Twin Cities, of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Ingebretsen’s is the best I have ever had…my grandparents, my parents, and now our family has had their sausage for most of that 89 years…that area of Minneapolis was filled with Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finish and Icelandic immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century…and they looked for what they had in the old country…Ingebretsen’s is still run by the family…and the meat market is very busy at Christmas time…they will sell more than 7 tons of Swedish sausage in one season…in fact at the height of the Christmas season the butcher shop sells a ton (literally) of Swedish sausage and meatball mix daily…so out of that store on Lake Street not only those two meats but lutefisk, herring and all kinds of specialty items for Scandinavian tastes…like lefse and of course something I forgot to add to my post yesterday was, Lingonberries…lingonberry jam for lefse…it is so good…a tart taste but wonderful on pancakes, toast or lefse…we will have some of that when we make lefse in a few days…

One of their sayings that hits a homerun with me is: “Come to Ingebretsen’s…where some things never change because some things never should.”…and, “Keeping traditions alive.”...they also are teaching Scandinavian crafts and their gift shop is wonderful…(is this an ad or what???)…okay enough…you can see I kinda like the place…I just hope you are making traditions at your home…or continuing to carry on traditions…what ever it is for you…keep it up…

So if it’s not Swedish sausage or Swedish meatballs or lefse or lutefisk…make it your traditions that will make Christmas season a special time for your family…to gather to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child…it is a family time to be shared and to share with another generation what Christmas is and is about…

I promise a Christmas story in the title…this is one I have had for some time…it is short, simple but full of what Christmas is all about and relates to all of us at some level…for me, I know the small town in the story…know the streets…and have known people who lived there…but also I grew up with a small grocery store nearby who we knew as a friend and neighbor who allowed my mom to charge groceries from time to time…(hope you enjoy this story that came from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune on December 8, 2001…sent in by Rod Broding of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, called: Paid In Full)…

I remember the winter in Lake Benton after my dad died. It was cold. Money was scarce. We had bought fuel twice already before Christmas. Mother had charged nearly $50 worth of groceries at Ernie Gieneart’s grocery store, and it bothered her.

One morning she put $10 in an envelope for me to drop off at the store on my way to school. In fact, she insisted on pinning it to my shirt so I would not lose it. I delivered the envelope, and Ernie told me to stop by after school and pick up the receipt.

When I arrived home, I gave it to Mother. She opened it and began to cry. The $10 bill was still there, along with a wad of grocery slips. On the top one was written: “Paid in full. Merry Christmas!”

Now if that doesn’t turn on some emotion…check your pulse…I have saved that story all these years…and have read or shared it every year since 2001…

May this bring memories, hope and joy…Merry Christmas…

Posted by: Jim E | December 14, 2013

A Christmas Story…Well, Make It Two…

I wrote this in 2012, a Christmas story, well two of them really…they take me back to Minnesota and my childhood…with a dear neighbor…and then a story from a teacher I worked with for years…both very important to me…and I hope will make you think of your life and memories you have…Merry Christmas…

At Christmastime, I reach back to memories of the past…and my childhood…when you get my age, most people that I meet everyday are much, much younger than I am…it gives you Christmas tree snow coveredpause…Oh, it is not a negative thing…it’s positive…I love the fact that I can remember so much more than most around me…that I actually experienced the history that most people talk about…and you know, I remember talking to people who were born just after the Civil War…who fought in WWI…who fought in WWII…these were actual people, who were there…and, of course, with my age comes the passing of most of those people…almost all of them have died…and just yesterday, Judie’s Mom died…she was 92, almost 93…so much history she experienced…and of course, all of that personal history is now gone…only what we remember of her wonderful life is still with us…all of us who knew her will try and keep that alive…

Age is a funny thing…it comes upon us while we are awake or asleep…it comes with or without our permission…and Christmas upon Christmas comes and goes…I remember so many…but in my 70 plus years, they all seem to run together…it is hard to remember each and every one…in fact what happens is we layer them, one upon the other, so we view them as a stack of slides…viewing them as a whole rather than separating them…only special circumstances make one memorable from the others…let me tell you of two memories…one that is many stories, stacked upon the others…and one that someone told me and experiences it over and over every year…these two stories are the same kind of thing, only different…stay with me here…

When I was born on February 3, 1942, Jim Burton was about 70…about my age now…and 26 pendulum clock Jim Burtonyears later, I officiated at his funeral…now that may not seem strange to you…but it does to me…he and his wife, Mary, were great friends of our family…Mr. and Mrs. Burton (as I respectfully called them growing up) were our neighbors…they lived next door to my grandparents on the south, separated by two lots and we lived next to my grandparents on the north…that neighborhood was two generations old when I was born…Jim Burton was the real estate agent who sold those small lots to people like my grandparents…all during my youth, because Mary was blind and they were aging, my mom took care of them and their needs all the years I can remember…this was a close neighborhood and everyone knew Jim and Mary Burton 1everyone…

On Christmas Eve my mom and we three boys walked over to Burton’s (many times on the way home from Christmas Eve services at church)…to spend some of the evening with them…I wish you could have seen the inside of that small house…Jim had been in the jewelry business and the house was filled with clocks (in fact I attached a picture of the clock he gave Judie and I for our wedding, almost 50 years ago)…to a young child they were beyond counting…10 or so grandfather clocks, wall clocks, mantel clocks, “Regulator” clocks…just all kinds…large and small…and it certainly fascinated a young child…inside, it was reminiscent of a “Charles Dickens” scene…dark but welcoming…the furniture was from another century it seemed…overstuffed, worn and it had that “old” look and smell…and there on the table was their Christmas tree…lights and decorations and a fewChristmas lights in dark presents…and we would relax there with a cup of tea and goodies…settle back and listen again to the stories they told…the stories of other Christmas’ in other countries (she from Norway, he from England)…and stories of their time in America…there in the dim light…dancing over our faces…this couple, whom we loved and had become such an important part of our lives…weaved the stories of a lifetime into our lives on those Christmas Eve nights…

On the way home in the darkness, with the snow crunching under our feet…we asked mom questions and rehearsed things we heard…so much of which I have now forgotten…I miss the stories of Jim and Mary…from another age…from another time…

Christmas Tree at nightAnd so with that story of Jim and Mary Burton…in reality, many stories stacked upon each other year after year…I go to a story of someone who grew up on the plains of North Dakota…we worked together in my former life…a friend and a great teacher, who sent me this after I told one of my Christmas stories to the staff…it is a keeper…you will understand after you read it…he virtually re-lives this every year…

“That takes me back to my youth on the plains of North Dakota, when on Christmas Eve afternoon, my mother packed a shoebox of items to give to an old bachelor neighbor who lived by the river a mile south of us…I can still see the box and its contents: cookies, a Christmas napkin, a new handkerchief and a tin of Prince Albert pipe tobacco…About four o’clock, my dad and I walked to his place and gave it to him…It was a Hallmark scene and I can still see the snow falling and hear and feel the wind as it made small drifts on the path in the pasture…That was a long time ago, but I still take a walk on Christmas Eve afternoon around four o’clock…Even though my father has been gone for seventeen years, he still goes along just like he did on that special trip so long ago”…

With that I wish you Joy and Peace…and wonderful memories…Merry Christmas…

Posted by: Jim E | December 9, 2013

Pearl Harbor…December 7, 1941…and Christmas…

Pearl Harbor…December 7, 1941…

I post this again this year…how for me, Pearl Harbor and Christmas come together…enjoy and remember…Jim E

It was in 2010, that I wrote this Pearl Harbor/Christmas post…and because my Dad served in WWII, remembering Pearl Harbor is easy for me…we got a light snowfall last night…just enough to cover the grass and the Christmas lights on our bushes…a pretty sight…and it sets up this post for me and you to enjoy…I hope you get the feeling of the American people on that December day in 1941…enjoy and remember…Jim E

It was only 17 days between the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7th, 1941 and Christmas Eve, December 24th, 1941…even for someone who loves history, it becomes difficult to comprehend how close those two dates were…and to think about how people in the United States were feeling about that time, it was so close to Christmas…I was born February 3, 1942…that was a little over a month later…my brother had been born in 1939…(here is a picture of our family taken in 1944)…my Mom and Dad were very young parents, struggling through the depression that still held a tight grip on this country…in fact the world…so it was a hard time anyway, and then comes the attack on Pearl Harbor and over night this country was in the middle of the Second World War, and so was our family…not only at war with Japan but Germany also declared war on America…this country was not ready to defend itself, let alone attack our enemies…it was a dark time…

I don’t know how to put it so we might have a perspective of how Americans felt at the time…the closest thing that comes to it would be “9/11″…if you remember how numb you were and how we didn’t really know what was going to happen…I remember that night, after all planes where ordered out of the skies over America…and a number of military helicopters flew over our house…I really wondered where things were and if we would be attacked again…it was a helpless feeling…one full of possible danger and questions…

If that was our feeling, how must it felt for those living in 1941…many people didn’t even know where Pearl Harbor was…and thought our oceans that surrounded us would keep us out of war…it was a very difficult, frightening and dark time…

Today is December 7th…it is always a time for me to remember as well as do many other Americans…it is one date that we should remember and be thankful for those who served in that war…and it is because of them that we are still free…

About two months ago I found a book that connects those two dates…it is really a Christmas book…but it is also about two songs of that time as well as our time…”O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”…the book is, “In The Dark Streets Shineth”…it is written by David McCullough, who wrote “Truman”…”John Adams” and many others…he is one of my favorites…because of what he writes about and how he writes…his books are compelling…this one is no different…it comes with a DVD which shows McCullough with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at their Christmas concert…I will add a portion of his presentation of his book on YouTube…the rest you will have to get the book to see the rest of the DVD…the book is only a little over 50 pages but it is very good…it also has pictures of people of that time…both at home and also overseas…the book is unusual because the DVD and the book are the same…when you see the DVD you are hearing the book in its entirety…the book has many more pictures and it has the speeches of both Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt…both are worth the read…

Churchill came, as McCullough says, “at considerable personal risk”…across the Atlantic “in great secrecy” to meet with Roosevelt…and then he would speak to the combined Congress before he returned to England…but before that would happen, they appeared together at the White House, Christmas Eve, to light the Christmas tree…both would speak…before 20,000 people gathered there…it would have been an unusual night…the world at war, raging all over the world, with no end in sight…with things going very badly for both Britain and America…and it would be that way for a couple of years yet…no victories on the battle field or at sea for a long time…everyday bad news…

But their messages both referred to the idea of “light”…our faith, our freedom…and as Churchill said, “amid all the tumult, we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous heart…Here, then, for one night only, each home…should be a brightly-lighted island of happiness and peace.”…the next day, Christmas Day, Churchill and Roosevelt went to church…”where with the congregation they joined in singing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ which Churchill had never heard before.”…this American Christmas carol written in the late 1800′s has a line in the first stanza “Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.”…McCullough then tells how that line in particular must have stood out to Churchill and Roosevelt…after his comments the night before of every home being a “brightly lighted island” in the dark…here I will add part of the DVD…it is only about 3 minutes of the over 10 minutes…but will give you a feeling of the rest of the book…

McCullough then goes to the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”…written in 1943 by two New Yorkers…by 1942 there were one million Americans serving overseas…and that would grow…”when recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943, the song became the most popular song of the era, even more than ‘White Christmas’…”…this song expressed the longing for home and a light in the darkness felt by so many of those away from home for so long… click here for the song…06 – I’ll Be Home for Christmas …and who can now listen to this without understanding the longing for home by our troops who are overseas right now…the feeling is palpable…

So please, as you enjoy your Christmas season with family and friends…don’t forget how “History can be a great source of strength and affirmation, and especially in difficult, dangerous times.”…and the music we love can give us more than just something to listen to…

And how about this Christmas photo nostalgia…two young kids, oh, about 1949 or 1950…that’s me and my younger brother…just after WWII…seeing Santa…Jerry looks a little wary…me?…just as good-looking as usual…

Okay, okay…but let me wish you a Merry Christmas…we all need to remember…because that’s when life really begins…and will give us strength to bear whatever comes…memories are powerful reminders and give us courage to go on…remember our troops and do some good things for people you don’t know this Christmas…it will leave memories for you to remember…

And as this book does and as the two leaders of that day did…they “delivered a powerful message of hope that still resonates today.”…lets do the same…may joy, hope and peace be a part of your Christmas season…

Posted by: Jim E | December 4, 2013

Wonder…Christmas…Mom…C.S. Lewis…And Others…

I wrote this in 2012…It still speaks to what I believe and feel during the Christmas season…it is filled with Wonder…the birth of Jesus Christ…my past, my present…and my Mom…what more can a person ask…

Wonder…Christmas…Mom…C.S. Lewis…And Others…

I like to get up early…in fact sleeping until 7:00 is pretty much out of the question…if I happen to wake up at 5:00, its hard for me to go back to sleep…afraid I will sleep too long or something…I keep thinking, “People have to get up and are on the road by 6:00, even before, so what am I doing in bed.”…I get more done in the morning…and just enjoy the time…and of Christmas lights on mantlecourse I don’t need to go to work, so I get to use my time as I like…

Every morning I get up and turn off the home alarm…then turn on the lights…empty the dishwasher, maybe the garbage…just a few things, so we can have a “fresh start”…then I go sit on the couch for a few minutes…the only lights on are the Christmas lights…the tree, on the mantel, and above the bookshelves…Judie decorates beautifully, and especially at Christmas…so I sit back, relax and think…go through the plans for the day, about our family, about, just things…it is a wonderful time…that’s the word I want…Wonder…I have a fresh senseChristmas tree Little Rock, AR of wonder…I love that time…to wonder about all kinds of things…

My Mom had that, wonder, that is…she was a master of it…she lived with wonder in mind at all times…I don’t know if she ever read of C.S. Lewis but she had some of what he had…someone wrote, “my belief that Lewis’s mind was above all characterized by a willingness to be enchanted”…”his delight in laughter, his willingness to accept a world made by a good and loving God, and his willingness to submit to the charms of a wonderful story”…”an openness to delight”…”the possibility that anything could happen to someone who is ready to meet that anything.”…Heavens, Mom had that…let me explain by telling you about her…portions of this are from something I wrote 8 years ago…just before Mom died…

It’s just a few days after Thanksgiving…and my Mom is in a nursing home…she no longer knowsimg019 us and sleeps most of the time…she is losing weight…but her heart just keeps beating…she is so strong…but then she has always been strong…her life was not easy, but I guess life itself is not easy…there are all kinds of mishaps along the way…things we did not plan…things we did not expect…but what I find amazing is how she approached a difficult life…she did it with such contentment, acceptance and yes, wonder…

At our house at Thanksgiving, out come the recipe cards…some Mom’s, some of both Grandmas…and it seems every year I am reminded of my growing up years…when Dad got back from the Navy at the end of WWII…they built a basement for a house that I”m sure Mom expected to build someday…I’m not so sure about my Dad…but they put a roof on the basement and we lived in what we called “The Basement House” all during my growing up years…

That basement house had no indoor plumbing (we had an outhouse), no plumbing under theimg018 sink (we emptied the pail in the back yard when full), Mom’s cupboards were wooden apple boxes attached to the wall (painted and had small curtains that Mom made), the walls of the two bedrooms were 2 x 2′s covered with cardboard (painted and sometimes wallpapered), the ceilings were cardboard too…no doors to the rooms…just curtains…a furnace in the corner of the large room…a refrigerator and stove…table and chairs…and a sofa, etc…

And though compared to today and even compared to that day, she had little…I never heard her even once, complain…not then or since then…and though she had a hard life, she faced it with such contentment…and she accepted what was given her, she was devoted to her three boys and her husband…and though Dad drank throughout our growing up years, was so difficult to live with and gave little money to Mom to run the home, yet my Mom worked, and made it work…

Recapture the WonderAnd she never gave up on Wonder…in “Recapture the Wonder”, Ravi Zacharias captures what Mom seemed to have…she saw things differently than most…she saw that “Fulfilled dreams are not necessarily fulfilled hopes. Attainment and fulfillment are not the same.”…many have dreams of careers, position, power…thinking that these will bring fulfillment…but what my Mom had, she could not put into words and I don’t think I can either…but her life and her fulfillment seems to have been above the “realities” of her life…she found contentment, acceptance and wonder within her experience…and I think that is within all of us…that place that is empty or nearly so…we may have attained much, but that place is still not “filled”…and my Mom found that place and filled it, in spite of her circumstances…it was what wonder is all about…

So how could a person like my Mom find at Thanksgiving and Christmas…and really at every time of the year…such fulfillment in what she “had”…it was more than happiness…it was wonder…she was always so excited about life…though many days brought hard, hard experiences and disappointment…yet she saw with eyes the wonder of life itself…of nature, of family, of living, of friendship, of caring, of work, of things she really did not fully understand…but she had it…she had wonder…

Ravi Zacharias has some descriptions of wonder…let me share a few: “Wonder is that possession of the mind that enchants the emotions while never surrendering reason. It is a grasp on reality that does not need constant high points in order to be maintained, nor is it made vulnerable by the low points of life’s struggle. It sees in the ordinary the extraordinary, and it finds in the extraordinary the reaffirmations for what it already knows. Wonder interprets life through the eyes of eternity while enjoying the moment, but never lets the momentary vision exhaust the eternal.”

Mom had it…she had it…it is how she faced what to me were very difficult circumstances…yet she followed “the voice of direction”…that “still small voice”, which says, “This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21)…and though her voice was not strong…she would sing around the house…and that song came from this wonder...”But how do we find this wonder, not merely in His name but in such a way that our heart rests in that delight?”…So in whatever life brings we need to see the wonder all around us…and fill us with that wonder that makes life wonderfulPsalm sixty five verse 8 and sacred…no matter our circumstances…

So tomorrow morning…I will wake up early…I will sit on the couch…enjoy the lights and relish the wonder of all of this…Christmas and all it holds…and memories of my Mom…and remember Psalm 65:8 “You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.”…

 

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