Saturday, December 26, 2009

There is nothing I do that is worth redemption. Really, nothing. I'd like to think that I've done good and have earned it but  in all honesty, who can say they've done enough to deserve redemption from a Creator that has sacrificed His life for us so we can live with Him. Forever. In Glory.

That's a pretty wonderful thing especially as undeserved as it is. To be loved that much by Someone we can hardly say we know. When we faulter, lie, cheat, steal, hurt others, hurt ourselves, hurt our Father he comes back for us again and again and again.

A buddy/co-worker was listening to Christmas music with his daughter. He told me how he had opened the cd package with her and the stickers that were in there. They played with the stickers and listened to the music when "Come Thou Fount" came on. It caused him to stop and just watch his daughter while she sang, and played and listened to the music. This is one of his favorite songs. It's one of mine too so I under stand somewhat the response to it.

We are blessed if we choose to admit who we are and accept  the Grace that is there for the taking. Thank You, Father, for never giving up on me no matter how often I slip up. And it's often.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Walking the dogs this morning was quite nice. It was warmer weather, quiet, sunny out. The dogs were enjoying themselves. The cats continued to chase each other near the house as my brother, two dogs and I walked across the road where the snow has been packed by snowmobiles and trucks. Chickadees chirruped all around, the dogs were suspicious of any snap or rustle off the beaten path. They remained very aware from beginning to end.
I'm grateful that I've had these opportunities to walk the dogs and with my brother. One never knows when there all of a sudden may not be that chance and it's best to make the most of it right now and appreciate it for what it is and more. It's often a time to reflect, throw out concerns and ideas, catch up with my brother who I actually see very little of throughout the week.

The rest of day was spent baking and decorating cookies for my co-workers. I wanted to give everyone something this year and it seemed like baking cookies was the way to do that. With money and work hours dwindling it seemed an inexpensive but nice alternative to trying to find something for everyone. And I enjoyed the process very much. I listened to all five discs of Sufjan Stevens' Christmas recordings.

These recordings are nothing short of wonderful. Even where it may seem to fall short, it's only in comparison to the rest of the music on this collection. The songs are performed so simply and beautifully that it doesn't take much to invoke sincere reflection, thanksgiving, confession... These recordings transcend what so many other recordings only wish they could approach. The songs are an offering and are sung in awe of a Savior born, crucified, reserrected and living today. They are also about family, the good and the bad.

It's time for these bones to rest and catch up on some much needed sleep before a long day at work come the morrow. To all a good night.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I am listening to Jane Siberry's "Shushan The Palace". It's full of music for Christmas and does not shy away from the Christ, Mary, or Joseph. It's really quite beautiful. Understanding Siberry herself escapes me. A while back she changed her name to "Issa" after seeing it on a billboard or wall and liking it. She pronounces it "eesa" or something like that. If you google Issa you find it has to something to do with cleaning products. She has recently changed her name back to Jane Siberry which I'm grateful for. She says it's the same, but different. My understanding is that she has sold all of her possessions, lives where she can, records when she can, offers nearly all of her music catalog free or at whatever price you choose to pay because she feels it is the right thing to do. Who am I to argue? That's how I'm listening to "Shushan" right now. I'm hoping changing her name back to Jane Siberry will make her music more tangible to me as I have to admit her one "Issa" recording that I purchased has been listened to from beginning to end only once and even then it was without much attention. It just didn't catch me. Her latest offering is and "Issa" recording and it's pricey to get the physical music. $24 US to aquire the latest cd from cdbaby. I could download it for half that but at this point I feel it would just be to complete having the Sib/Issa music and I haven't been able to justify that yet.

It's really amazing how focused on the Christ child "Shushan" is.

I can relate to wanting to be someone else other than who one is. There are days I would change my name and persona and never go back. Or that's what it seems but then again, I might just go back to myself after a few months and be done with the change. My name given by the Creator is likely nothing I've ever heard before anyway and that won't change. Real change doesn't come with a name change, it comes from within. So now the Christmas tree is up at work, presents are sorted, kids are excited, staff is exhausted, and I'm just hoping that I can have Christmas eve off to celebrate a Christmas service in Lansing with my family. I haven't wanted anything for Christmas this year. I want to live differently than I have in the past, better, more focused on others and acting on that.

And I'm hoping my fruitcake from my cousin Cindy in AZ has arrived today.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ten days is too long to wait to post. I've tried many times between but was simply too tired at the time or too frazzled. It's a very busy time of the year.

The kids at work are getting way more sugar than what anyone needs (if anyone 'needs' sugar). The tree in the house falls over at will and unexpectedly. It seems impossible to keep it standing and having a supervisor that is hyper vigilant in appearances makes this much more of a challenge. He'll come in and see the lights and tinsel in disarray, the star not on top of the tree, the other decorations either missing (broken) or hapharzardly placed. Cards need to be filled out and sent. Cookies baked (the one thing I truly enjoy doing). A few gifts still need to be purchased. Thankfully it's only for my sister, brother that I live with, and mother. I so dislike shopping and take no time to make anything apart from the cookies.

And sadly no mention yet of our Savior, our Creator, our Hope. Keeping busy with the things above is not a bad thing, but man, I have to watch what I'm doing and put it all aside if it begins to replace the very reason we celebrate this time of year.

The lack of focus on the Savior is often the elephant in the room that everyone passes and says nothing ab out. At work the focus is completely on the asthetics of Christmas and the presents. Very little, if any time is devoted to Christ. And it shows in how the kids act, how the staff drags themselves through the motions and hates this time of year at work. It becomes what you make of it.

I was listening to Sufjen Stevens Vol. 4 Christmas songs the other night for the first time. "Come Thou Fount" came on and I had a similar experience to when I was driving in the car and Third Day really struck a chord. I nearly said 'nerve' but this was something resonant, something so moving it was a beautiful thing to experience, literally music. Metaphorically music. Spiritually music. I was reminded of the things I allow and don't repent of. This was a moment to repent. I was reminded of how I deserve nothing and am blessed to have anything. This was a moment of thanksgiving. I was reminded how I should be a vessel even though I am not the example I should be. This was a moment of acceptance. This was a moment of Redemption. A moment to be treasured because these moments are not the norm, nor are they to be the moments to live for like waiting for a fix. These moments are Blessings, Gifts. We are to be grateful for any such moments.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

It's beginning to look like Christmas in the north. That's alright, and it had better be, because I have no control over it anyway. Keeping the old farm house warm is impossible. Bundle up in all sorts of clothes but that's the way many people live. It would be nice to have hot water but I do have electricity to heat water up on the stove. It's safe, it's protection from the elements, it's home and it's more than what many people have. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't remind myself of that. I could be anyone one of thousands who are jobless and homeless and continue to be blessed with both. More than that, I have family that cares and loves me, and knows my whereabouts, and if they didn't they would be concerned. My absent would be a cause for stress or worry, not something that they look forward to as time away from me. It's a blessing.

Christmas is going to be sparse on the commericial goods this year. It's better that way. I look around me at home and all I see is so much stuff. Most of it doesn't even get used, it just sits there. I'm slowly realizing there is a better way for me. It may not be the way for everyone but it will work for me. It's a challenge and even frightening to let go of some things. But honestly, why do I hold onto a painting by Niagra that I will NEVER have anyplace to put. Would I really want to display it somewhere anyway? (If you don't know, she's very modern, more like a comic book panel style. The painting is one of her 'blue' paintings that I picked up when I lived in Detroit.) And all the busts, and statues, and prints, and stereo equipment, and books, and cd's, and movies, and so many other DISTRACTIONS! When is enough, enough?

I've had a week off from work. It was a good thing to do. I'm rested and feeling better though I still carry an awful lot of stress. A good friend, John Piippo, reminded me that it's best not to take ourselves so seriously. No one, when put into perspective, cares what happens to us, who we are, what we do. It's really a very small number of people who care anything about us, that's just the way it is. The numbers are stacked against us concerning this. What it all comes down to is having a Creator that not only cares, but has named us, before conception, and who knows each of us individually even when we are surrounded by strangers, alone. And that makes us significant again, meaningful.

Friday, December 04, 2009

I'm getting a fruitcake this year. I know because my cousin, Cindy, who lives in Arizona and teaches at the University of Phoenix asked me if I would like one and I responded that yes I would. It's an exciting thing, someone taking the time to make something for me. Cindy puts much effort into her fruitcakes and they are nothing like the ones you purchase at the store. She uses tasty fruits, real butter, great ingredients and it's very delicious. She's taken years to find a recipe that she likes and excitedly makes for others. It would be shameful to turn down the offer.

It's actually much more than a fruitcake. It represents the time that has passed since we've last been able to see each other. It is time taken away from a very busy schedule and dedicated to doing something thoughtful for someone else. It is a offering of caring and friendship. It is an expression of love and care and it is good.

So, you see, it is much more than just a fruitcake. It's nourishment on many levels and it's a gift freely given.

It's something so simple, yet so significant and I'm thankful for the offering.

Laugh at yourself and feel joy.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Monday I was meeting a friend/co-worker to go to the movies. I wasn't running late but I wanted to meet up with a little time to spare rather than feeling rushed so I took a backroad around a small town. The speed limit in town is 35. The back roads have the normal 55 limit and that saves time. Of course there are things to consider when taking the back route. It is farming country so you could well get stuck behind a tractor that doesn't even go the in-town 35 speed limit. Someone's cow's could be out in the road. There is always the possibility of deer or turkeys running out into your path.

It seemed I was going to miss all of these hazards. Another big consideration is the condition of the roads. They can get pock marked very easily from rain and vehicles driving to quickly down them. These are actually potholes and can not only be big but stretch across the road, unavoidable for hundreds of yards or more at a time. This means slowing down to at least 35 anyway. It had been wet the day before and my risk paid off until I got to where the dirt meets the blacktop again.

A farmer had been out earier spreading fertilizer, cow feces, on his fields. The tracks were clearly visible down the road, where he started, where he turned off the road into the field to start this process. Pavement up ahead I was too slow realizing I had been focused on that and did not notice the rather huge puddle the farmer had turned through to enter the field. Blurting 'Aw, crap!' (yes I really said crap) I braced myself for the large bump and potential to lose my traction and have to steer out of a slide when I hit the water. Fortunately I plowed right through, water spashing up over the hood of the car and onto the windshield, car never wavering from it's path. I turned on the wipers and that's when I noticed...the smell. It was indeed crap. The farmer had been fertilizing after all and I had just driven straight through a pool of crap.

Now don't get me wrong, I grew up on a farm and I'm actually quite used to the smell though it's been years. This odor was not nearly what it could have been, especially if the farmer had raised pigs instead of dairy cattle. It's just that the vent was on because it was a cold day and I always have the vents sent to bring in 'fresh' air from the outside. It keeps my windows from fogging up. The windows did not fog up, but the air certainly did. I had to laugh about it. It really was kind of funny. The smell was no worse than if someone with pretty well worn farm boots had taken a seat. It's mostly gone now apart from the outside when it's rainy or damp out. I haven't washed it off the car yet and don't know if I really want to. It's not hurting anyone. And I did arrive at my destination with time to not rush and a decent little story for when I got there.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Coming out of a funk (basically dealing with depression on any level) takes will and effort. It is much easier to give in to distraction and wallow. I've been busy and distracted lately and now that I am less busy I find that I have been allowing myself to slip. I don't know what causes the sense of dread, being overwhelmed, agitation, restless sleep. Tears are always just below the surface and at some point one has to give permission to release them. A person also needs to admit when they have little will or strength to fight and ask for help. It's often as simple as someone trustworthy to talk with. Prayer is helpful but not always tangible and often I find that I want things concrete. Sometimes it's as simple as knowing someone else can somehow relate to you. Misery does love company after all. That can be a good thing if it's to help the other person back to well being.


I have a friend who at 9,000' in the mountains slid his truck off the road and wound up rolling down the embankment over a couple of boulders. He said his seatbelt saved him. He's got years of rock climbing experience and is in great shape and was able to climb out of the ravine. There was no one else on the road and the weather was near white out conditions. He's blessed to be alive. I'm grateful he's alive. The road he was driving has been closed for the season under 2 1/2 feet of fresh snow. It won't be open again until May when they will go back up and try to winch his truck out of the ravine. He wants to snowmobile it up there and get some of his equipment out of his truck. Russ is a nut. I'm glad he's safe.