Childhood Christmases

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”

Norman Vincent Peale

A neighbor shared some oranges with me today and that was all it took to send my mind back over seventy years to my childhood. My bus driver would give each of us an orange and a candy cane as he delivered us home for Christmas break. In my rural neighborhood, there was a man who became Santa and went house to house where there were kids. He had prearranged the visit with the parents so we received one gift that was something we had asked for. It worked well for small ones, but when Santa pulled my present out of the bag, I recognized the wrapping paper from the chest upstairs and the “jig was up.”

Of course, if I hadn’t been snooping around, my innocence might have been preserved a little longer.

When I read down the list of the so-called traditions of Christmas, I have experienced many of them. I have gone caroling and we always put on a Christmas play at church. We always had a real tree and if I close my eyes I can almost conjure the scent of pine. One of my memories of pine is a little different.

We had two very large pines behind our house on the edge of a field where we usually planted the garden. One day we came home from town after dark and as the headlights swung over our property my dad let out a yell. “What the Hell?” Someone had cut the entire top out of one of our pines. It was quite a feat considering the height of the tree!

Even though 2020 has been a tough year for everyone, I still sense a little excitement in the air as Christmas approaches. Masked people dart through the stores, being careful, but with a purpose in their steps. Secret bags of cookies or cards are being shared by thoughtful neighbors. When the big snow hit a couple days ago, many were out early to shovel and help clean the windshields for others. A kind gentleman shoveled paths through the snow in my neighborhood, so that the owners of small dogs could find a place for the pets to “go.”

When a Savior came to bring love and peace, He brought it for all. He is still showing the way even in 2020 if we have eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts of love. Peace, love, and joy to all!

If I could give you just one thing,
I'd give you joy that would make your heart sing.
A joy and a peace that was brought to strangers,
When a young mother laid a babe in a manger.
ccousins

Preparing for Christmas

Advent means “Coming” in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1942

Yesterday a friend and I felt we needed a little outing–to break the monotony of COVID-19 enforced restrictions. We decided that a walk-through of a favorite antique shop would be acceptable if those in the store were distancing and wearing masks. We peaked in and decided that the few people browsing were keeping their distance and were masked so in we went to see what wonderful items might appeal to use. There were plenty of Christmas decorations we remembered from 60 years ago at least. We shared memories that the old bulbs, etc. generated.

The picture below spoke to me and I had to bring it home to put on my desk. It symbolizes what I want my blog to be–a source of hope and good news and yes, silly rhymes at times. I see the upheaval and the misery of our country and of many people. I work where I can to help others and I try to stand up for what I believe. But I hope that people stop in and read something uplifting and not judgemental in my words.

Tree is up as you can see, saving the decorating till evening while I watch a Holiday movie!

Tell me about your decorating ideas and wishes for the season. (No poem this time) Some of you are probably saying, “good.”

Sleep In Saturday

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

For years, my heartfelt wish was for a sleep-in Saturday. But with my husband and I on different schedules and raising four children–it just wasn’t in the cards. I slept well if sometimes getting by on about four hours, due to my call schedule. When on call in house, I was able to rise quickly and after the surgery, grab another hour sometimes before the shift was over. Those were the days when I took 24 hour in house call.

I rarely had a night when I lay awake with fears and worries whirling through my mind, mainly because I did end my night with a prayer of thankfulness and I was VERY TIRED. The strange thing now is that, after twelve years of being retired except for volunteer work, I still wake up most days at 5:30 a.m. Occasionally I do sleep in till maybe 7:00 if I have been up later than my usual 11:00 p.m. Oh, how life moves along!

During the events of the last year, I have had trouble falling asleep at times. When that happens, I feel angry and anxious. It has given me much more compassion for those who have insomnia. It is terrible to be so tired and lying awake. I have added “people with sleep issues” to my prayers! I find passages of scripture like the one above help me, as does getting up and reading something not controversial or upsetting for an hour or so.

If someone reading this is having trouble with getting a good night’s sleep, there are good articles about it on the health sites. Not exercising in the last couple hours before bed, not eating late in the evening, or drinking alcohol later in evening have all been written about as helpful for good sleep. Otherwise, warm baths, soothing music or white noise are all possible aids to sleep. But I’m getting far from my original purpose.

I used to dream of a Saturday
When I could lie in bed,
Stretch and yawn, go back to sleep,
Not drive a child somewhere instead.
Those days are gone and kids are grown, 
I'm in the so-called Golden Years.
But lately the pandemic, an election and lies,
Have filled my head and heart with fears.

I go to bed and name the problem,
Then say to God, "It's yours."
I don't understand and never will,
But heavenly plans can open closed doors. 
C.Cousins
This was a couple days ago, when I couldn't see beyond the immediate terrain. The mountains were obscured until the fog lifted--and so it is with life.

How to Carry On

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

It seems each day we’ve more to fear,

A pandemic and an election year.

Sick of masking, washing, and being apart,

We want to hug friends-because it’s good for the heart

Kids study at home virtually and dad office is the spare bedroom,

Yoga class is on TV and grandma’s learned to Zoom.

Life still advances whether we’re ready or not.

I remind myself God knows the battles I’ve fought.

The only way I calm myself when things are out of hand,

Is calling on my faith that God is still in command.

Not sitting back, but standing up where I can,

Letting worries drop and scatter like grains of sand.

SINS

Four little letters, but a chilling word, a convicting word. In the book The Shack William Paul Young said, “Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside.”

Recently I pulled out some decorative items to brighten up my apartment and give it an air of Autumn with its lovely hues in red, orange, and brown. I placed my pumpkin plate in a holder on the kitchen counter. At the bottom of my storage box I found several child’s blocks. A few years ago, I had arranged a small display for a craft show and used the blocks to spell out my last name. I soon realized that some of the blocks had been lost in my last move. I had set a few on the counter when I was distracted by a call and walked away.

When I returned to the kitchen, what I saw was startling. My blocks were aligned and said

“C_ _ SINS

Okay, Lord, I get it. Yes, I do SEE sins and I ask forgiveness when I recognize my judging, lack of forgiveness to others and other things. I ask to be shown other failures that I might not recognize. When we don’t get the lesson, sometimes we have to be given an arrow, a map, or even a Halloween pumpkin to point the way.

Thank you for the lesson.

“Kinda” in my own way…

I was intrigued by the prompt using the word “kind,” that morphed into “kinda”. Lately it seems like kindness and compassion have been eliminated by technology and the world’s business. Although my picture is both square and uses “kinda”, my thoughts kept going back to KIND.

My picture title came because as I checked autumn’s progress,

It was “kinda raining,” in the midst of sunshine.

Tags: sun, rain, writing and rhyming, squares, Kind, kindness, nature, wander

If only one person finds a smile or a word of inspiration from my thoughts-it will be worth every minute that I spend in choosing the words that swirl through my kinda, sorta, scrambled brain on any given day.

Wandering into Wonder

I try to open my eyes and see with the searching eyes of a child,

When I go strolling along the road, or even into the wild.

Sometimes I return from my walk, refreshed but empty-handed.

Other times the treasures appear, as if they were commanded.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

#wandering#eyes open#rhyming#writing

Monday Mourning Dove

On Monday this week, I thought about a story a friend had told about his mother and a bird. “What bird is making all that racquet,”she asked. “A Mourning Dove,” my friend replied. afternoon!” But it’s afternoon,”his mom said.

That led me to thinking about how many are”mourning” over the state of our world. The pandemic has caused so many deaths to be mourned. The killing of black people and others in protests and for no reasons at all are causing more mourning. Not just in the black community but among all caring people. What is wrong with people? Why have we still not learned–as we were taught in kindergarten–to be kind, take turns, share and listen more than talk?

On top of all that the country is besieged by hurricanes and floods and fires that cause people to lose their homes and businesses.

Like all mourning, it takes time to process and reach a new type of normal. If you think about it, we should learn from the past but not try to return to it. We have to pray, talk to each other and step out to a morning that is brighter and not one steeped and steaming with “mourning.”

Photo by amit mishra on Pexels.com

Dare To Be Different-Stand Out

I thought about this as I looked at my photograph of the view this morning. No fog today, but fall is peaking around the corner of late summer and waving a “see me” flag.

My mother always said that the fall made her sad because of what was coming. She meant the long stretch of cold and snow and less sunlight for several months. I understand her remarks more now. This summer has been one for the record books. More lovely, sunshiny and hot day–and most people could not travel for a refreshing seashore or mountain breeze. Then there is the sadness of all those lost from COVID-19, and the horror at more black lives lost.

You could say also that the bright yellow branches are the result of our recent drought. Either way it sent my brain to autumn thoughts and a slight sadness that I feel at this time of year. For another summer over soon–and gone. For the fading and drying flowers near my building. For knowing there is little time left for “summer projects.”

But, cooler air will be refreshing and many feel invigorated by the crispness of fall mornings. May it be so and may we embrace the good and the blessings in any season.

This is also Six Word Saturday so I felt this was appropriate.

Champion the right to be yourself; dare to be different and to set your own pattern, live your own life, follow your own star.

Wilferd Peterson

tags: summer, fall, Be different, Writing and rhyming and devotions, Oh My, COVID-19 Summer, thoughts on life.

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