Still Makes My Heart Happy! Age to Age

450px-trio_of_handsI thought of this post as we walked the four blocks to the nursing home yesterday to once again perform our Christmas program for the residents.

I saw the connections happen again this year – just like last year and the year before that and the year before that. 

And my heart was happy.

From December 17th, 2015

Age to Age 

Directing our church’s Christmas program is one of the highlights of my Christmas season.

And one of my favorite parts of directing is taking the program on the road to our local nursing home.

Every year I give the kids the same talk.

“I don’t care if you mess up a song or forget a line. I just want you to smile and have fun. If you have fun on stage, your audience will enjoy it. And when we are done, I want each of you to go around the room, take the hand of each and every resident and say Merry Christmas.”

This year was no different.

My older kids knew the drill, but I had some younger kids who had never done a program. They looked at me like I had suddenly sprouted reindeer antlers. Touch old people? Weird.

After church, we had a potluck, put on costumes, packed up props and walked the kids the four blocks to the nursing home where the staff had the residents ready and waiting.

When we had finished presenting the program – which was adorable in it’s imperfections – I prompted the kids to start their “Merry Christmas’ing”.

As my older kids started the rounds, the younger followed.

Small hands, sticky from the potluck dinner, reached out and touched older hands – hands that had seen hard work, loved babies, clapped in joy, and wiped away tears.

Work worn hands that are now so smooth the skin is almost translucent.

I heard the sweet “Merry Twistmas” and saw young eyes full of imp and mischief looking into eyes that had seen much of life.

I saw the hand squeeze. The tentative smiles.

And it happened.

A connection was made.

And then another.

And another.

Those kids started to see beyond the wheelchairs and wrinkles and discovered real people.

Those residents looked into sweet young faces and remembered.

Both the young and the old were blessed.

And there was joy in my heart.

Peace and Hope to a Broken World

It’s the first of December.

As much as I wish I could write a lighthearted post about Christmas – I have to admit that my heart was heavy today.

It seems as though the last few weeks have been filled with sad news.

Dear people suffering through hard things.

Loss. Pain. Uncertainty.

Broken hearts. Broken bodies. Broken dreams.

Everywhere from the national news to my inbox, I’m reminded that we live in a broken world.

Yet, as my heart wept again this morning over more painful news, God brought the opening song of our children’s Christmas program to mind.

It begins on the streets of Bethlehem and the plaintive sounds of a violin is heard mournfully crying, “O come, O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel…”

Then the children start singing –

“Who will save us? Who will comfort those who cry?

Who will free us – is He right before our eyes?

How long must we wait for deliverance?

When will God turn his head and hear us?

And bring peace and hope to a broken world.

And bring peace and hope to a broken world.”

That cry is still heard today.

People are searching for hope.

For peace.

For comfort.

People are still living in darkness and fear.

People are still asking when God will turn His head and hear them.

But the story doesn’t end there.

It goes on to tell about a baby born to a virgin mother.

It tells of angels proclaiming the news to shepherds on the hills outside of Bethlehem.

A Savior is born!

Emmanuel!

God with us!

The children continue to sing –

“That holy night, when mercy fell like rain,

and God broke through our darkness and our pain.

That holy night, when love came down to earth.

Emmanuel with us, in a fragile baby’s birth.”

God broke through the darkness.

He broke through the pain.

He sent mercy!

That holy night brought hope.

It brought peace.

The world all around us is broken and hurting.

We have the answer.

As we enter this Advent season, may our hearts know it.

May our lives reflect it.

May our words echo it.

He will save us. He will comfort those who cry.

He will hear us, He has opened up our eyes.

Jesus is king, King forever.

Praise to God who is faithful to save us.

He is peace and hope for a broken world.

That’s what my heart needed to hear today.

How about yours?

 

 

 

 

Lessons from Christmas

Christmas is over. The tree is down. The lights are packed away and we’ve finally found a normal schedule again. I think.

But as I reflect on the craziness of the last few weeks I’ve decided that this Christmas season has taught me a few lessons.

1. When you give your brother-in-law an elf hat for Christmas and he puts it on with his new safety glasses and then he grabs a tape measure and pretends to be one of Santa’s elves making toys – you immediately take a picture and put it on your blog.

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Because you can.

And it’s hilarious and he will never see it anyway.

I hope.

2.  Changing all the light bulbs in the house on Christmas Eve day to LED might make sense economically – but will create bad lighting for selfies and other photo ops and drive your camera loving daughter crazy.

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And certainly don’t help my photography skills. Or lack thereof.

But aren’t those kids cute! (just missing a son-in-law who was on duty Christmas Eve!)

3. After 26 years of attempting a beautiful ice cream log for Christmas – I have finally accepted the fact that it will never look good and will quite possibly always look like something less than attractive.

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And well – less than appetizing.

Which is why we shall always eat by candlelight on Christmas Eve.

3. The stomach flu is always nasty – but it’s extremely unwelcome when it attacks on Christmas Day.

No pictures. You’re welcome.

4. Having a house full of family can wipe out a stocked refrigerator quickly. I took three grocery runs the week between Christmas and New Years – mostly for coffee and vegetables.

The coffee I expected but the veggies were a new and surprising development.

5. Speaking of surprising developments – I have lots of Christmas goodies now hidden in the freezer. While my children pigged out over Christmas weekend, by New Year’s they had decided to eat healthy.

Go figure.

At their current rate of consumption, Jan and Buddy should have them gone by Easter. I hope.

6. I love playing games with the family at Christmas. Really, really love it.

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Especially new games like this one – Ticket to Ride.  Which is my new obsession.

I even won a few times – at least until my new son-in-law arrived. Hmmm…somebody should tell that guy it’s not good manners to beat your Mother-in-law at her favorite new game, at her house on Christmas. Good thing I like the guy.

7. Actually – I love them all – the whole crazy bunch! And carving out time together with crazy schedules to be together is the best Christmas memory of all!

Hope your holidays were special!

 

Christmas Week?! Already?!

How did it get to be Christmas week already?

It seems like just yesterday we got home from Thanksgiving and put up the tree!

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And adjusted it three days later before it fell over.

When we unashamedly turned to all Christmas music all the time.

It wasn’t that long ago that Laura and Steven came over and we made Christmas happen in the kitchen.

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Spritz cookies.

Oreo truffles.

Cookie dough truffles.

Chocolate covered pretzels.

 

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Actually – chocolate covered everything!

The Sunday school kids blessed my heart again this year at the nursing home and did a fabulous job performing the Christmas program a week later.

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The 4H Christmas party was a success – especially the cookie plates we made and delivered to the shut-ins in our community.

It’s been a busy month.

We’ve shopped, wrapped, baked, and watched a multitude of Christmas movies.

The Christmas letters are written and in the mail.

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We made memories with extended family, my folks for a couple of days and Jan’s family for an early Christmas.

And now suddenly – Christmas is less than a week away!

 

The kids will start to arrive on Thursday and our house will be overflowing with love and laughter.

We’ll eat too much, laugh till we cry, surprise each with gifts, and in a quiet moment on Christmas Eve with candles in hand, we’ll let Christmas come.

And then – in the blink of an eye it will over.

Just like December.

Please Lord, help me slow down and savor!

The Thirteen Days of Christmas

Thirteen days.

A house full of kids.

Four gallons of Chex mix.

Chocolate dipped everything.

An entire ham devoured.

Hundreds of games of Dominion.

Epic Minecraft battles.

Laughter.

Teasing.

Inside jokes.

Time with special friends.

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Late nights.

Lazy mornings.

Pots of coffee.

And now it’s over.

Matt flew out yesterday.

Pedro’s back at work today.

Dagmar’s preparing for next semester.

Christmas is put away.

The snowmen collection is out.

My house is quiet.

My couch is waiting.

My heart is happy.

And it is good.