Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's's pouring....

 Today is finally a quiet day, and a good one for just rambling on about the weather and a bit of thinking I have been doing. First, we have had the driest fall/winter season ever recorded. It's been a bit of a drought actually. We have had warmer, dryer weather than I can ever remember. We have our yard sprinkler system blown out each year in mid-October. Since then there has been no measurable precipitation for my poor plants and trees. I actually got out our hoses, and spent two days watering our 3/4 of an acre a few weeks ago. The number one killer of plants/trees in a Central Oregon winter is dehydration, especially with no snow for insulation. So, just when I was beginning to think that I would have to drag out the hoses again....a storm finally came. And it pushed out the ridge of high pressure that has been moving all the moisture down south. For two days now, we have had some good rainy, puddle inducing rain. It's 60 degrees (really weird) but WET!

 The plants and trees are so very happy, as well as the birds. They are busy taking baths in every puddle they can find. Everything is dripping, dark, moist and just wonderful.

The second thing I have been thinking about is Christmas. I had so many people tell me this year that Christmas is no longer fun, but disappointing. I think they mean as adults, but they were each in different stages of adult life. I think we have all learned to adjust our expectations as the holidays approach. But somehow people are not finding what they are seeking in Christmas. Is Christmas supposed to be fun? I don't think so. At least not in the cultural way we have of thinking of fun. I don't think Mary was having fun giving birth to Jesus in an animal stall. I don't think Joseph was having fun trying to find an adequate warm, dry space for Mary to give birth, after walking and traveling all day. To say nothing of food, or a way to cook food. How has it all come down to everyone craving fun? (Including me) More and more each year I think., I see people all around me who are hurting, alone and lonely, isolated, sick or discouraged. Christmas is the last thing they want to experience and most want it just to be over with so they won't have to deal with more loneliness and pain. This is a area of our culture that we have fostered with all the talk and songs of : I'll be home for Christmas, there's no place like home for the holidays, Grandma's cooking, keep the lights on for me etc. I suspect most of this is idealistic nonsense today. Families are split, and the vast majority of Americans around here have no families to go home to. Older folks are in assisted living facilities, not in their own homes waiting for all the crowd to come home in the swirling snow, with the scents of a huge home-cooked dinner on the crisp air. I too love the idea, but I don't think it has helped us face realities of the limits of our humanity. This is something from a century ago, not today. And the gift buying, giving, and paying for it. I saw somewhere on an old movie where the people said " You don't have to bring me a gift, just your presence is gift enough for us". What a wonderful sentiment, and how I wish it would be true for us. I think a lot of us as adults look for our fun in whatever gift(s) we hope to find under our tree. But it is always disappointing, because we are not children anymore, and we hang so much expectation on it. We need bigger, more exciting, more expensive things each year and it still does not satisfy. We give lip-service to the real meaning of Christmas, but yet we still want to revel in the cultural the destruction of the message we are wanting to share. In reality there is very little of the original 'Christmas' in the way we celebrate. Don't get me wrong, I do think we should celebrate, feast and make merry. We do have a tree, with presents and lots of good food. But yet, many if not most of the people I know, who call themselves followers of Christ, have been left afterwards with a haunting sense of emptiness and disappointment. Partially this may be caused by tiredness and exhaustion, participating in all the events and paraphernalia. Through the years I have heard many talk about this subject, and various possible remedies. But it just seems to be getting bigger, more wide-spread than ever. If we as believing mothers provide a 'wonderful' American cultural Christmas for our children, are we setting them up for disappointment in their adult years? (Along with shallowness and lack of true understanding.) 
I tried an alternative this year. My insurance guy and I decided to spend the holidays in serving others. After all didn't Mary serve all of us by her willingness to become the mother of Jesus? And didn't Joseph serve his family that first Christmas night? And most of all didn't Jesus serve us in His most amazing incarnation? This worked out for us in many forms; some out in the community, some in our home and neighborhood, among strangers, family and friends. I am still digesting this, and will continue to process what went right, and what didn't. It was a beginning however, and the disappointment and emptiness were not a part of it or the after effects. I am not seeking to change things for 'next year', to make me or my family happier, or for us to have more fun. That I think is progress.     

Friday, December 23, 2011

Blessings to You and Yours

I was just talking with my good friend Nancy on the phone, and we enjoyed a much anticipated Christmas chat. We have been friends for many years, and some of that comes from enjoying many of the same things. I found out that we both crave a little romance along with our Christmas, and time alone with our husbands (even after 40 years of marriage!) Lately there has been a literal parade of people through our house. All welcome, and helping to make December a special time. But tonight we were both planning on having a Christmas Eve alone, the Christmas Eve before Christmas Eve, and I had to smile thinking that we both had planned that. I will be making a savory casserole to enjoy before the fire along with some good wheat french bread and a raspberry jello salad. For dessert we will enjoy a few chocolates from a local candy store, the kind gift from a friend. We will then be reading and taking the time to be still and focusing on the ever-true reason we are celebrating. And then tomorrow...let the festivities begin! I am always happy when Christmas falls on a Sunday and we are celebrating with our Church family as well. A very happy week-end to all.

Merry Christmas Nancy, and to everyone else who happens to read this!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Gift of Music

 On Saturday evening we were privileged to attend a full concert of Handel's Messiah. The insurance man and our daughter JoAnn both sang with the Central Oregon Mastersingers, in presenting this wonderful work.

They performed in our renovated Tower Theatre downtown, with a small orchestra and harpsichord. The backdrop was lovely without being distracting.

Here are my two favorite singers. They sang three performances and a dress rehearsal in four days, quite an accomplishment.

The insurance man was fortunate enough to have his family come over from Burns on Saturday night, along with our friend Doris. It was a wonderful experience, and a true gift to our community. What a statement Handel made of the whole of  'Messiah', His coming, His work, and His redemption. Praise God!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Path of the Just

This is not a usual Christmas post. But I wanted to make mention today, that Denise Sproul, wife of RC Sproul Jr, passed into the presence of our Lord yesterday morning. I not only wanted to take the time to mention this here in memoriam to her, and to the lives of women she touched with her life and writing, but because she lived and died well. Julie and I were discussing this morning what a wonderful testimony to our life of faith it is, when as believers we can find the strength and faith to die well. She leaves behind her a family of 8 children, which is testimony of her life well lived. But many have said she died strong in the Lord and looking forward to her 'perfect day'. As a Steve Green song has said: "May all who come behind us find us faithful." May each of us be blessed of God to finish our race well. We do want to remember her husband and children in prayer, as they continue on without her presence.
On one of the blog posts in her memory, this verse was used, and I want to pass it on again...
"The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Proverbs 4:18

Friday, December 16, 2011

Making Ready for the Christ Child

A dear missionary friend in Ireland sent a few words this week that helped me rethink a few things, and are worth passing on. He mentioned that it was/still is customary in Ireland to thoroughly clean a cottage inside and out in December. Part of that cleaning can be a new coat of whitewash on both interior and/or exterior walls. The reason for all this work? Not for comfort, not for pride, partly for cultural tradition I suppose, but the main reason is to 'make ready for the Christ Child', that all should be in readiness for His appearing.

That gave me a new perspective as I ready my house, my food, my gifts and my heart...may we all make ready in the week to come for the coming of the Christ child.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A New Home!


Julie and her family have been gone on a short vacation to Mississippi to visit her in-laws, and I have been gone to Woodland, to help Joy and her family celebrate Kory's 18th birthday (more on that later).
Now we are back, and on the blog once again. However, you will have to put up with just me, as Julie will be very busy over the rest of this month. Shortly, as in the next few days, they will sign papers to purchase a home of their own just outside the city of  Morgantown, and then spend the rest of the month moving, fitting in Christmas at their new residence.

The new house is built onto the side of one of West Virginia's famous hills, and has a main floor and also a daylight basement. It is rural, including a total of 7 wooded acres with the house. A very great place to raise 5 boys and 2 girls, wouldn't you agree?

 The hillside has two level spots, one for the house and one here that will make a great garden area, firepit, and play place.

Beautiful deciduous trees will make for wonderful tree forts, caves and places to run. It will also help them to heat their house in the winter. At the bottom of the long hill is a creek, and that eventually runs into the Monagehelia River so there should be some good fishing for the older boys.

I will let Julie post photos of the interior as they move in, and she gets time to share. We all rejoice with them as the Lord has provided so bountifully!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Technology...Bane or Blessing?

I hear so many people of my generation continually complaining about the rise of all the new technology. There are many sides, opinions and discussions of this topic. Most negative opinions have to do with the fact that it is harder for us to learn how to operate all the new systems and programs. Instead of just acknowledging that, we somehow find a way to blame technology for much that is around us in our culture. I have to admit that I too sometimes fall into this category. But as I was thinking this over recently, I did take the time to think about all that is good with our new technology. As with anything, the sinful aspect of technology usually has to do with the character of the 'operator', more than with any one piece of the equipment. A couple of cases in point:
  • Last week I noticed I had a stye developing in my right eye. I went to the Internet and found several easy, natural home remedies. The one I used (and is pictured above) was to boil 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds in a little water. I then used it as an eye wash several times a day for 2 days, and it was a natural way to fight the bacteria, and cure my symptoms. It worked like a charm, and cost me nothing. Lacking my own Chinese herbalist to consult, the Internet provided me with a great solution.
  • Facebook has a bad reputation among people my age and older. Just last night I was at a dinner with other believers, and soon the conversation got around to Facebook bashing. Again, I do think it is all in how you use it. Last week I celebrated my 61st birthday. I knew that of the close to 100 'friends' I have on FB, many would write me and congratulate me on my birthday. Sure enough, many did when I went in to check. Some were rather silly (as in my cousin's cousin's cousin, that I don't know) but most were close friends and family and FB provided just the means to reach out and touch me with a sincere and genuine birthday wish, and comment, quickly and easily. These people were from all different time periods of my 61 years, and FB has provided a way that we could find each other, connect and occasionally catch up. In our busy culture, FB is a way to keep in touch. Granted, some use it foolishly, but again it is all in the hands of the operator. I would also add that 'texting' is in this same category, along with smart phones and other devices.
  • I have an IPOD, and enjoy it with all my heart. It has caused me some hours of frustration at times, but having the music I love at my fingertips and in my ears is a wonderful luxury. I even walked around my grocery store with my earphones in this past week, so that I wouldn't have to endure the silly holiday music they were piping over their in Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer! No, I don't have them in all the time and I do try to be polite and courteous, but I think most would be a little jealous that they didn't have a way to eliminate the 'system music'.
The next time you are in a technology discussion, try and think of the good things it has done for you. No, it isn't the same world. It never will be again. Technology is here to stay, and will keep on changing and evolving. Let's embrace the good, while rejecting the bad, and being cautious about how, when and where it is used in our lives.