Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Greeting: Then and Now

We found a poem written by my great great grandfather, Adoniram Judson Holt, for the year 1922.  After reading it, my teary eyes saw my life flash before them.  It's funny how from the eve of 1922 to eve 2012, we still wish for the same things for our friends and for ourselves.  I hope this finds you well.

Again I am sending my greeting,
To the friends who have brightened my way;
Who along with the years that are fleeting,
Unselfishly have been repeating,
Their kindness, despite my depleting;
Thus sweetly extending my stay.

This world would be dreary and cheerless
Were it not for the friends who abide,
When dangers impending, are fearless,
When sorrows assail, are not tearless,
When needed are present and peerless,
Who have proven both truly and tried.

What a comfort to have a great Brother,
Who while Savior and Kind, is our Friend,
When trials assail, will ever prevail,
When others deride will ever abide,
More constant than even a mother,
Our Advocate unto the end.

So over the year that is ending,
And across the days coming to me,
A heart-throb of love I am sending,
And praying for mercies unending,
God's grace all-sufficient defending
'Till sunset shall smile upon thee.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Thoughts--Converting a Scrooge, one Day at a Time

I'm working my way through an Advent devotional, designed to stop and make me think about all the aspects of Advent that I normally miss.  I've spent so long being a scrooge against the commercialization of Christmas, that I missed celebrating the fullness of the true meaning of Christmas.  While the devotional ( is sometimes simple, it really has been an exercise in making me think about the true reason for the season, and the fact that yes, sometimes the Christmas season does start  before the end of November...sigh.  The first Sunday of Advent was the 27th of November this year.  But Advent is celebrated in its entirety for a reason, so I'm trying to focus on that instead of the secular foolishness that makes me scroogy.
Below is an excerpt from one of my journalings for the devotional.

I think the thing to remember is our creation doesn't stop at our birth, or at the end of all of our growth spurts (when we look like adults).  God forms us, in our mother's womb, before she even knew us (Psalm 139).  He gives us a body, gives us a life, and then ushers us through it, giving us blessings and hardships along the way.  Through our life experiences, he continues to create who we are in Him; that is, if we surrender to him and let him work in us.  God's salvation didn't come at the birth of Jesus.  His perfect plan was only made complete upon the sacrifice of his Son.  The Advent season is about celebrating the coming of the Savior, but not the saving of the people.  The Advent season is about the beginning of our salvation, but not the completion.  Just like we must continually be tweaked and shaped and touched up to really become the men and women of God, so did Jesus, until he had completed the work God laid out for him.  It wasn't until he was resurrected from the dead that our salvation was created, and it isn't until the day we see that Savior, really, that we are fully created to be who God intended.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Turbulence: a Hindrance or a Necessity?

It's been a while since I've blogged.  It wasn't intentional to start something and not finish it...or not keep up with it, but apparently that's how my life works sometimes.  Right now I'm looking out of my stale apartment's windows, staring at a very gray, windy, rainy, miserable day.  Funny how the weather reflects our moods so often.

Or is it the other way around?

The turbulent winds outside mirror the turbulent thoughts in my head.  No, I'm not rainy or teary, but the finals A.D.D. is definitely kicking in, with thoughts and emotions racing around, making the windows of my soul whistle, like the wind outside does to 202's.
Why is it that in the moments you need to focus most, the wind picks up?  It's a peculiar phenomenon, sparked by the turbulent powers of the world, this I know.  I would have hoped by now that I would be impervious to these powers, or at least wind-proof.  Alas, the whipping wind always finds the cracks, the chinks, the loose seals.  It finds the places you haven't locked up tight, the places you're still vulnerable.

Vulnerable.  What a scary word. says it means:
1. Capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon.
2. Open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.
3. (Of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend.
It's formed from the Latin words that mean "to wound" and "-ble."  Par for the course, since we spend our entire lives trying to lock up tight--keep every breeze out--become an impenetrable fortress--nothing gets through to hurt me.  Funny how it doesn't work.

...such is the human condition...

We can strive and rant and rail and rage against the world, the wind, the sun and the rain, and yet...we still find ourselves with wind-chills down our backs at the most inconvenient of times.  Seems pretty futile, if you ask me.

I look out the window again just now, and it's sunny.  The sun has broken through those gray clouds, kissing the autumn-dead leaves, making them look copper, not dead and brittle as they did five minutes ago.
To be wind-proof, you really need to be weather-proof.  To be weather proof, you need to live underground, in a cement bunker.  The problem with living in a cement bunker is you can't see the copper, sun-kissed leaves that come with the poignant beauty of a turbulent autumn day.  The problem with a cement bunker, is you don't see the jewel-like rain drops trapped on a window screen, you don't see the blue stripes in the sky, you don't hear the power of the wind ripping through those copper leaves.

Is it the same with our own bodily bunker?  The world tells us to lock ourselves up tight: don't let anyone or anything in without your permission, without you opening that cement bunker of a heart.  Is that really what I want?  Do I want to be life-proof?  Some days, when the wind is whipping, the leaves are brittle, the sky is dark, and my mood mirrors it all, yes, I do want to be life-proof.  But it never fails that something, a little ray of sunshine, a little stripe of blue, a glint of copper, a jeweled raindrop is given to me by the Ultimate Bunker.  I wouldn't have noticed all those little beauties, had it not been for the miserably gray weather from earlier. it is gray again, windy and wicked.  Again, my windows are vulnerable to the sharp winds.  Seems like we'll never win: cement and life-proof, or glass and vulnerable.  One ensures protection from everything, the other offers the chance of seeing beauty, even if it only one glimpse at a time.

Conundrum.  It's quite the catch-22, it seems.  We each have a decision to make: are we going to be solid, cemented, impenetrable fortresses, or are we going to have with drafty windows that are bejeweled with raindrops?  If I'd asked myself this question before now, I would have quickly answered "impenetrable" without a second thought.  Now, I would argue that I wouldn't have really had a first thought then either.  Now, I'd choose the drafty windows.  How do you know you're alive if you can't feel that wind leaking in to your home?  I'll take the gray days, the racing thoughts, the A.D.D., the icy wind, if it means I can have the beautiful, crunchy copper, the brilliant blue stripes, and the roaring power of the wind.

Vulnerability isn't just about being available for hurt or discomfort or frustration.  It's about being available for those glances of beauty and moments of triumph and those hidden blessings that only the icy wind can bring.