A Hill Far Away

Because this is the Season of Advent, some people might find it unusual for me to write about a completely different pivotal moment in Jesus’ life … the Cross. Yes, we celebrate the birth of Christ with gift-giving, acknowledging the extraordinary Gift of God coming to earth in the form of a man who was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

christmas-gifts-presentsBut it’s also true that the Little Baby born in the Manger grew up, and from the minute He was born, we know the arc of His life led to the Cross where He would be crucified. Simply put, that was God’s plan. There’s this inextricable connection between the Christmas Child’s birthday and the events we know and celebrate as Easter or Resurrection Day. Continue reading “A Hill Far Away”

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Loving All God’s Children

From the outset, let me stress my deeply-held conviction that every person who ever walked or will walk this planet is unique and deserving of dignity and respect. (Curious way to start a post, huh?)

GodsChildren1Today, there’s a special election in my town, related to an ordinance some have called a non-discrimination policy. After the city council passed the initial ordinance in great haste and over the objections of many citizens (see my post here), the people organized a signature petition to have the question brought to a vote. That election takes place today.

Continue reading “Loving All God’s Children”

L’Enfant Repose

As someone who loves music, I always welcome the songs of the season … but by the time Christmas Day arrives, I’ve usually reached my level of tolerance. Radio stations go 24/7 with various renditions of Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town and Jingle Bells. Last weekend when I was out on errands, I tuned in one station and heard one of my least favorite songs coming on so I switched the channel to another station. The second choice had the same song playing by a different artist. Arghhh!

http://tiny.cc/jtxkqx
http://tiny.cc/jtxkqx

I do have some favorites I think I could listen to everyday of the year. (Of course, if I did that, I might grow tired of them too. What a fickle person I am!) Continue reading “L’Enfant Repose”

Watcher of Men

Life is warfare. At least that’s how Job looks at it in Job, Chapter 7. He’s embattled. He perceives that the forces of the Universe have arrayed against him, one small and insignificant human being. I think the Blake image below is an evocative piece. Job so clearly turns his bewildered eyes heavenward, his palms empty and outward, and seems to beseech (in the vernacular) WTF?!

FROM:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

No question Job’s situation is uncomfortable, certainly justifying both anger and bitterness. He feels life pressing in on him, like a slave whose monotonous lot is looking forward to another week’s ending when he receives wages for his work (verses 1-2). Job’s situation is further complicated because he suffers sleepless nights (verse 4) and the boils on his flesh are oozing maggots (verse 5). In sum, he is without hope (verse 6). Continue reading “Watcher of Men”

Over The River?

There was a time I didn’t mind fighting December crowds at the mall, was being the operative word. In more recent years, my policy has been if Amazon doesn’t carry a product, I don’t need it. (The mall isn’t quite as accommodating about bringing their products to me.)

shopping1As Christmas Day draws nearer at hand, my excitement heightens thinking about family members who’ll be coming for a visit! Whether they’re guests for a day or guests for a week, their presence is my present, the gift I most cherish. Continue reading “Over The River?”

You Can’t Have It All

Buried in my iTunes rotation is a 1986 song by the singing duo The Judds. It’s called “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days)” and the song became the sixth Number One hit The Judds enjoyed on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles charts. They earned a 1986 Grammy for the song, capturing Best Country Performance By A Duo or Group.The Judds

The song came up today in my music rotation, and although it’s not one of my favorites, I let it play. As I half-listened to the lyrics, I thought about the nostalgia we often entertain for that mythical period we refer to as the Good Ol’ Days. With this particular song from twenty-eight years ago, Grandpa hearkens back to values from an even earlier era. Continue reading “You Can’t Have It All”

Sweater Odd-iquette

Driving in town today, I noticed a sign for a local boutique that advertised “Christmas Sweater Sale 80% Off.” The image that immediately came to mind was of something hideous, a combination of green and red and white (and maybe blue) with cartoonish figures and gaudy objects protruding from the weave. You know what I’m talking about … you’ve seen them too.

SweaterThis sweater at left is a silly one, but it’s not crude. (There are plenty that are.) For many years, I’ve wondered what the thought process is when a person decides to wear one of these. My sense is such sweaters often come as gifts … causing the recipient to feel compelled to wear it (at least once).

Green happens to be my favorite color and I actually love the green of this sweater, but that ridiculous figure ruins the whole thing. Place one small wrapped gift on it and I’d be okay. Anything more than that and it’s too much. I can understand why stores advertise these at 80% off. Even at that bargain level, I’m shocked to know someone pays money for them.

I had a sweatshirt once with a picture of a Christmas tree and gifts on the front. It was about as crazy as I could allow myself, but I recall the first time I wore it, I was terribly self-conscious. After several launderings, the colors got more muted and that was fine with me.
Continue reading “Sweater Odd-iquette”

Deja Vu and French Class

Recently, the Turner Classic Movies channel (TCM) ran the old movie La Belle et la Bête. This 1946 version of the ancient fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, is part of what’s called The Criterion Collection. I think I’d seen this film years ago but I decided I needed to revisit it.

la-belle-et-la-bete-1946-a03Many people familiar with the story line know Beauty and the Beast from the 1987 television series that ran three years and starred Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. Another made-for-television rendition from 1976 aired as a Hallmark Hall of Fame film starring George C. Scott and his wife Trish Van Devere. There have been a number of other iterations (less notable in my view) through the years.

The 1946 La Belle et la Bête is different from all the others. First of all, the dialogue is delivered in French (start to finish) with English subtitles. If you’re not someone who has the patience for subtitles, you may not enjoy the film. Because the film is black and white, it’s dark (though at the same time luminous) and the score has a haunting feel about it.

Continue reading “Deja Vu and French Class”

Eight Day Frenzy

Here’s a news flash for readers who’ve been hibernating in a cave somewhere … the shopping season is upon us. Should I say THE Shopping Season? Or perhaps The SHOPPING Season? Anyone with an email account has no doubt been suddenly besieged (as I have) with a flood of new and tempting messages hawking this or that great deal.

so-haute-black-fridayThis year, I can’t remember when my inbox began to overflow, but any retailer/ wholesaler with whom I’ve ever done business (dating back to 1992 I imagine) presented their “can’t-miss” deal for my consideration. Lots of them personalize the deals:  since you purchased a potted plant for J____ last year, we’re giving you an extra $10 (or 15%) off this year! (Lucky me!)

Of course, until you’re ready to submit your order, they don’t mention the $12.99 handling fee (over and above the initial price, the upgraded containers and sales taxes which have already combined to break the budget!) on each of the four or five items you’ve already added to your shopping cart! No, if I wanted to spend a total of $50 to $100 for handling fees, I’d think about delivering them myself! Continue reading “Eight Day Frenzy”

Terminal Affability

We’re sitting at a leisurely lunch. It’s Sunday afternoon and we’ve come to the restaurant directly from church – my Beloved, our grandson and our grandson’s best friend. The four of us are having relaxed conversation. Mostly though, I’m a quiet observer … the three of them are talking college football as well as the occasional reference to NFL players and games. Even though I’m a fan of the Razorbacks, football is not a subject about which I can add much to the conversation. It’s a different story for my Beloved, my grandson and his friend; the idea of watching ESPN game day shows from their start until their wrap-up – they devour it … hour after seemingly endless hour!feartusk_logo

So I’m sitting there, listening, making an occasional inane comment. I recognize names of Arkansas players, and I know the names of some coaches (mostly SEC teams). But long ago the musical chairs that characterizes the annual end-of-season routine made me realize I’d either have to go all-in (and consume endless hours to school myself on all things football) or be satisfied as a peripheral observer. I chose the latter. I don’t regret it. Continue reading “Terminal Affability”