Christmas Vision

Traditional Christmas carols have an enduring history. Some are more than a hundred years old. As for the remainder of Christmas music, the songs often don’t enjoy a consistent following or annual play. Achieving Favorite status is a less likely long shot.

MerryChristmasBannerWhen composer David Foster released his 1990 song Grown-Up Christmas List, the song wasn’t a hit … even though it featured Natalie Cole’s mellifluent vocal delivery. (If you click on the link, don’t be distracted by the subtitles.)

It wasn’t until a couple years later – when Amy Grant recorded a Christmas album including the Foster song – that the song earned greater attention. Grant reworked lyrics and added another verse. Her album producer promoted the song as a single to enhance sales of her full-length album and the song received considerable air play.

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Job’s Fatal Flaw

Another Sunday … and another exchange between Job and his not-so-comforting friends. Job chapter 9 poses the monumental question:  how does mortal man bring himself into right standing with the Creator of the universe? Again, Blake’s drawing (below) depicts Job looking upward, entreating the heavens for God’s explanation.


In this chapter, Job speaks once more, following Bildad’s observations of the preceding chapter. However, except to acknowledge Bildad offered a tidbit of wisdom (verse 2, I know this is true), Job pivots from direct response and delivers an exceptional oratory about who God is. No matter what version of the Bible you read, this passage overflows with elegance in describing the soaring beauty of God’s might and wondrous works. Read it! Then read it again in a different version!

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Headed to Whoville?

On occasion, I need to be talked down from the ledge. Today was one of those days. It looked to be a good day for putting up Christmas decorations. (What’s the rush, you ask? I felt the same way, but the house was empty for once and I had an hour to spare.) I turned on the Christmas music and started carrying things out of the attic.

TangledMessThe pre-lit Christmas tree I purchased a couple years back comes in three pieces plus a stand. In order to store this decoration in the attic, it must be taken apart. Against my better judgment, I disassembled it for storing. Now, the various plugs connecting the three pieces that lead to one main plug are a dreadful, impossible muddle.

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Absent “A”

A message in this morning’s Inbox caught my eye. (The email is actually dated yesterday, but I hadn’t read it until today.) I didn’t immediately recognize the author’s name, but the title, Stop Sending Cheery Christmas Cards, definitely piqued my interest. I clicked the link.

WarrenThe post is written by Kay Warren, wife of evangelical pastor Rick Warren, author of (among others) the 2002 book The Purpose-Driven Life. In April 2013, their family was rocked by the suicide of their youngest son Matthew, age 27. The young man struggled with mental illness.

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Every Day More Real

The familiar Christmas carol, O, Little Town of Bethlehem, was written by Episcopal bishop and poet Phillips Brooks (1835-1893, whose birthday was this week). In the first verse of this poem, Brooks wrote:

This carol is a familiar one. Phillips Brooks is probably less familiar to most people. He was born to a Boston family in 1835, graduated Harvard twenty years later, attended seminary, received honorary degrees from Harvard, Columbia and Oxford, and eventually became Bishop of Massachusetts. A large man at six-foot-four, he became a large presence in the Episcopal church but he was also highly regarded by the leaders of other denominations. This man of great moral stature delivered an eloquent and memorable sermon following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Continue reading “Every Day More Real”

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”

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!

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”

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.
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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”

Joy In The Journey

With the celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday behind us, many people turn their attention to Christmas shopping and the numerous tasks at hand which can no longer be postponed. For me, my attentions don’t immediately gravitate to shopping and presents (though that will come). At this time of year (more than at any other time of year) my thoughts turn to family.

It’s difficult for me to imagine the challenge of doing Christmas when there are empty chairs at the table. That’s when I remind myself military families experience this challenge all the time. One of my favorite songs of the season is linked in the YouTube above. One thing that sets this song apart from standard Christmas music is the touching way in which greetings of military families are interspersed with the song itself.

Family (at least for me) is woven into the fabric of the holidays. When the first Christmas song gets played (usually by me), my thoughts turn to my mother and siblings, my mother-in-law, her son (my Beloved) and all the sibling in-laws, each of my precious children (all now grown) as well as my wealth of adorable grandchildren. Of course, each connection becomes more dear with each passing year. Continue reading “Joy In The Journey”