Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Over the river and through the woods...

The autumn season is quickly fading as the swirl of Christmas celebrations, decorating, shopping, and hopefully, worshipping, surrounds us full force. Our combined Thanksgiving and Christmas celebration with my youngest daughter, Dennae, and her husband, Richie, and their three boys (Dustin, 6, Hunter, 4, and Cannon, 9 months) was held this past weekend. They drove 400 miles from Kentucky to be with us and could stay for only 36 hours. But we made the most of those hours and created yet another wonderful set of memories.

I cherish the times I have with my family members, as we're scattered all over the place now. Michigan, Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi--all hold loved ones and each one is quite a distance from the others. It's a long trip, no matter who's doing the traveling or which direction we're heading. In our case, it's literally "over the river and through the woods," to get to grandmother's house (that would be me). In fact, there are many rivers and many forested highways between me and the ones I love, but the Lord continues to provide the ways and means for us to be together.

I often remind myself that it wasn't so long ago that families were separated by the westward movement and many never saw their loved ones again. Traveling by covered wagon or overland by train or stagecoach was a whole lot different from today's transportation methods. Not only was it time-consuming, but the dangers along the way were daunting. Today's transportation, though frustrating, time-consuming (in our eyes, at least) and often expensive, does afford us the opportunity to visit our loved ones frequently. I'll take that over waving goodbye to the back end of a covered wagon any day of the week!

The Lord has been generous, as always, with His bounty during the past twelve months. Our family has been mightily blessed with the addition of two little boys--that makes four grandsons now--and my brother was married earlier this year. Our collective health continues to be good and our lives continue to be filled with the good things our Heavenly Father provides. I look forward to what He has in mind for us next year.

Thank You, Father, for giving us hope for the future, for all You have done for me and my loved ones this year, and for all that You will do for us this coming year. May we continue to be aware of Your unmnatched power, glory, kindness, and love, and live our lives accordingly. Thank You for giving us the means and the time to spend precious occasions with each other. In Your glorious Son's name, I pray. Amen.

Until the next time...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Looking up

We're barely into the holiday season and although I hate to admit it, I'm no better than the folks I complain about who force the season upon us by advertising, displaying goods, and decorating their stores far too early. We too have "hurried up" the season this year by putting up the tree and decorating the house before the month of December (or even the last week in November, for that matter) has arrived.

Our purpose is noble: my daughter, Dennae, and her husband Richie, and their three little boys will be arriving for our Christmas celebration at the end of next weekend, during what is traditionally known as the Thanksgiving weekend. Due to conflicting work and college schedules, the only time we could get together as a family to celebrate Christmas was during the 4th weekend of November, so that necessitated the early decorating. To further mess up our holidays, we had our Thanksgiving meal yesterday with friends here on base, a full week before the actual holiday. Again, the demands of life forced us to celebrate early, so I'm a week closer to Christmas (mentally, that is) than I would be if things were moving along in a normal manner.

Thankfully, though, there are other things going on at the moment to keep my attention focused on what's really important about this time of year. The big news in the world of astronomy lately is the presence of Comet 17P/Holmes and I've had a great time watching for it on several clear nights here in Mississippi. Although my interest in astronomy has been lifelong, I haven't done much about it until lately and even now, I haven't even reached what could be termed amateur level. What I can't see with the naked eye or through my son-in-law's binoculars doesn't get seen, but thanks be to our Heavenly Father, there's plenty up there to be admired even with no equipment.

Although I know there's no connection between the two events, knowing that shepherds in the field and wise men from the East witnessed a bright star glowing in the nighttime sky over two millenia ago, and that millions of star-watchers across the world are watching the progress of a glowing Comet Holmes today, makes me wonder if God isn't trying to get our collective attention. The earth is so full of breathtaking scenery, countless species of life, and untold mysteries that it boggles my mind. To know that the sky above (of which our planet is merely a pinprick in the vastness of the space) is filled with millions of galaxies and billions upon trillions of stars, planets, moons and other celestial glories is beyond my comprehension. Exploring the beauty of our tiny home in the Milky Way would be enough to keep a human being busy for countless lifetimes. The wonders of our universe, which we're learning about at a faster pace than ever due to our modern technology and voyages into space, will keep us busy for an eternity.

I look forward to learning all there is to know about our lovely world and the breathtaking heavens above while I'm still here on earth. But all that pales in comparison to what I will undoubtedly encounter during eternity when I compare notes with my fellow stargazers--the shepherds of the field and the wise men from the East. All that and Jesus too.

Until the next time...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A holiday mourned

Halloween has come and gone for another year, and before the candy wrappers hit the ground, the stores had their Christmas decorations up. They had long since displayed their Christmas ornaments, trees, wreathes, paper and ribbons for sale and their Halloween decorations were priced at 50% off six weeks before October 31st! We literally had no time to catch our collective breath before we were swept away into the mad commercial tide of the holiday season.

I remember when the Christmas season began the day after Thanksgiving, which was a holiday in and of itself. Nowadays, Thanksgiving is sandwiched in-between Halloween and Christmas with no importance attached to it whatsoever. The Christmas season, now a full two months long, takes up a full one-sixth of our calendar year! No wonder we don't feel any excitement when we see the stores decked out in holiday sparkles. No wonder we're sick to death of the decorations, the music, the food, and the ever-invasive commercialism long before we ever celebrate the day itself.

And when I say "celebrate," I'm using the word loosely. For far too many Americans, Christmas season means gifts, parties, alcohol, an excuse to eat sweets, and a chance to buy a refrigerator, car, or other ridiculously-non-Christmas-related item as a gift. Everything from plumbing supplies to cruises to appliances, cars, and life insurance are all touted as the perfect Christmas gift, the ultimate expression of love.

Bah humbug!

I want to revisit the past; I want to see our country treat Christmas as it should--a celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I want us to marvel at the love of our Heavenly Father in sending His Son to us as a man; a Man Who experienced life as we do, Who can relate to everything we feel, do, worry about, love or hate. I want to hear "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" as often as I do "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." I want to revel in the promise of peace on earth, good will toward man.

I want Christmas back.

Until the next time...

Laughing with the Lord #4

Welcome to #4 of Laughing with the Lord! Wondering what makes God smile has long been a burning question for me. I know He smiles and laug...