Christmas

During my stay at the Windsor hotel in Kunshan, China I was impressed by the presence of Christmas and all its trappings.

When I checked into the hotel their halls were decked and Christmas tunes were playing in the background (specifically – “All I Want for Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth” greeted me upon my arrival).

Whenever I called down for room service, I was greeted with a cheery “Merry Christmas” and I listened to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” Muzak looping through my time on hold. And given the need to put me on hold every time I called (while they hunted down someone who spoke English), I heard that tune plenty.
Finally, I asked a local co-worker about the broad adoption of this Christian holiday. I know that Christianity exists in China but I was surprised to see so many reminders and signs of Christmas. I was curious if there was an appreciation of the significance of the holiday. I was told that most businesses were touting Christmas because of the commercial aspect – there were goods to be sold, they primarily catered to business travelers and tourists.
I wonder whether things are remarkably different in the US. We may be more cognizant of the Christian roots of the holiday but how many families really focus on the celebration of Christ’s birth? How easy it is to get swept up in the decorations and the gift-giving!
Something that struck me during this Holiday season was the weirdness of Santa Claus. The song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is especially creepy. In the song, we attribute traits to Santa that better describe God. Consider Psalm 139:

Psalm 139

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

….

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

God knows when we’re sleeping, he knows when we’re awake. He knows when we’ve been bad or good (so be good for His son’s sake!) and He loves us anyway.

God doesn’t come to town once a year or only on special occasions. He is always here. He is always with us. He is always seeking a relationship with us. He’s forgiving and faithful, loving us beyond measure. He leads us to everlasting life! He’s way better than Santa Claus!

It’s a Matter of Perspective … and Discernment

People tell lies. This is not new news. People lie for many reasons. If someone asks me to pray for them, I don’t ask why. I don’t assume their story needs to be verified. It’s not as if they’re asking for money (in which case, you bet I’m checking the background story)! If someone’s plea for support or sympathy casts someone else in a negative light, I may do some digging. There’s always two sides to the story. We are supposed to be intelligent, reasoning human beings. We’re also emotional and biased by our histories. I try not to take sides. I’m not in a position to judge others. But occasionally I’m called upon to discern the truth. Sometimes I’m compelled to share the truth as I see it.

When I was a teen, my high school opened up a computer club. I remember declaring my hatred for computers. By the mid-80’s I realized that if I wanted a decent job, I’d have to overcome my feelings about computers and learn how to use them. In ’86 I landed a job doing data entry on a mainframe computer. By ’87 I was doing word processing. By the Fall of ’89 I quit my job as a stenographer and went back to school to get a degree in Engineering.

Soon after that, I tapped into the internet. It was not like it is today. We had Bulletin Boards and Usenets. It didn’t take long before I fell in love with computers. And I fell hard. I’m inherently a researcher and I’m proud of my ability to find all sorts of information on a variety of topics. It’s a blessing. And a curse. (I give a nod to “Monk“.) The Internet is a researcher’s dream.
I’ve been a computer-geek for over 20 years, but in the land of social networking I’m still a babe in the woods. Mommy-bloggers seem so tech-savvy, blending art and design, wit and wisdom. I am humbled as I surf some of the best sites out there (according to Babble, anyway).
I’m not a Mommy-blogger. I’m barely a blogger. I’m a mother (my youngest is 15YO, my oldest is almost 24YO) and a grandmother (my 4th grandchild is due in April) and a geek. I may not be in my element, but I value the social network established through blogging, Facebook and Twitter. Most of my co-workers are mystified by my on-line presence (although many are on Facebook, few go beyond).
I could wallow in my insecurities, measuring myself against the greats and finding myself lacking. Instead I choose to do my own thing. Hopefully my “thing” is a positive reflection of my faith.
Recently, there’s been another round of drama in the World of Blogcraft and on-line networks.
Last week a toddler drowned and the mom tweeted a request for prayers. As much as I’m bent on seeking the truth, I didn’t stop to question (or check) the background – I stopped to ask God to be with the child and mother. On that day, God collected the toddler up to heaven and left the mom to deal with the aftermath. Ours is not to reason why. Only God knows His plans for us.
This weekend, another Tweeter sent an urgent request for someone, anyone, to call 911…and she provided an address. I’m not sure what’s going on in her immediate situation but I found myself reading her “back story” all the way back to 2007. She didn’t ask, but she’s also in my prayers. {NOTE: in the 2 days it’s taken me to finish writing this post, Jess has posted an explanation…and her thanks.}
Another blogger called for support of a friend who lost her home and family to a tragic fire. She and her family are in my prayers.
There’s also the ongoing story of Anissa and the tremendous outpouring of support for her (such as this video).
Sometimes the on-line community pulls together in a positive and remarkable way. Here’s a post by a woman who can truly testify to this. In this post, she’s responding to the Twitter “in-fighting” that took place between the mother of the drowned toddler and a women who positioned herself as a harsh critic (she jumped in to judge the situation and its tragic outcome).
Back in October I found myself at a crossroads. In this world, people lie. Whether I like it or not, that’s the plain truth. Not everyone is to be believed. I posted my thoughts on several situations that were made public via blogs. When the truth is not obvious, the burden is on the reader to decide.
Should we all become cynics? Should we doubt everything we hear? Should we refrain from sharing our opinion?
I choose to remain faithful, trusting in God to ultimately judge the action of others. Lying isn’t new behavior, but the Internet leaves us exposed to a much broader audience in a much smaller “world” via our social networks. For myself, I will do my best to love everyone and offer my prayerful support as needed. How about you?

A day to be truly thankful

Today, as people all across America pause in their busy lives to give thanks, I have blessings beyond measure and my thanks are lifted up as I praise God for all He’s done in my life this year.

I just took a quick peek at my post from last Thanksgiving. Last November I banged out a post every day as part of NaBloPoMo. On Thanksgiving day, my oldest daughter was barely communicating with us. Our 2nd oldest daughter was living in Pennsylvania with her husband and our grandson. Our 3rd oldest spent Thanksgiving in Del Rio with her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s family. Our youngest, my husband and I enjoyed a healthy, quiet meal at home. I spent some time reading. We worked on a puzzle. We were visited by a flock of cardinals.
This November I’ve banged away on the keyboard as part of NaNoWriMo. Today, I crossed the finish line – not the 50k word goal (I passed that last Friday) but the actual goal of finishing the novel. Yes, I did it. It took almost 69,000 words, but I can now proudly claim to have written a novel. What a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving! Giving thanks for the flow of words and the story I was able to tell.
But, better than that! (What, pray tell, could be better than that?) Last night at about 11pm our oldest daughter and her beau arrived. Today at 11am our 2nd oldest, her husband, his mother (the MIL) and our grandson arrived. They live across town so it wasn’t the journey that made their arrival remarkable. It was the drama leading up to today. She called Monday to say they weren’t coming (insert MIL drama here), then yesterday decided they were going to be here after all. At about 2:30pm our youngest daughter arrived with her girlfriend. We sat down to eat soon after 3pm. All eleven of us.
After a fantastic dinner, prepared by my wonderful husband, we settled down to watch “Up”. A very enjoyable movie (other than the occasional tear-jerk scenes that caused me to cry, which caused my husband to announce that I was crying much to the delight of all. Glad to be of service).
It’s been a good year for many reasons, but mostly because my faith has grown (continually seeking God’s guidance), my knowledge has grown (almost finished reading The Bible in a Year, huge awakening comes with the awareness and insight), my ambition has grown (well, “shifted” may be a better word – I’m no longer interested in the corporate ladder), my relationship with my children had improved dramatically (even in the absence of drama). I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been – physically, mentally and spiritually (given my history, that’s no small feat). I’m employed, yet able to pursue my passion (ahem, that would be “writing” in case you missed that subtlety).
I’m so happy I could dance. Or sing. Or fall on my knees, lift my arms and turn my face to sky and say “Thank you, God. You are awesome.” Or all of the above.
What are you thankful for?

Celebrating Life

This past year was awesome. There were many highs and many lows, but the highs were all higher than the lows. I’ve been through the dark valley before so I know how important it is to appreciate time spent on the mountaintop.

Today has been a day that marks a few personal accomplishments:
I’m celebrating life – I turn 45 today.
I’m celebrating my career – from stenographer to engineer to development manager to line director and now author. Today I crossed the 50,000 word target for #NaNoWriMo and I’m still going. Finishing my first novel is a major milestone. Additionally, Guidepost magazine is publishing my 2nd story (March issue). Today the editor called to clarify a few items. I’ll soon be receiving the final draft for my approval. Today I lift a glass to the good Lord who guides me, my loving shepherd.
I’m celebrating family – Thanksgiving is less than a week away. I’m praying that the entire clan will be together for Thanksgiving…for the first time since (I’d have marked the calendar if I’d realized it was going to be the last time) maybe 2003.
But I’m also humbled and reminded to be grateful for all that I have and to take none of it for granted. Twitter and the World of Blogcraft have been alive with prayers for a woman I’ve never met, Anissa Mayhew. There are a lot of people that I respect who have written posts or Tweets that have pulled at my heart and called me into the powerful circle of prayer in the on-line community. Anissa’s life has been filled with valleys and mountains. She’s proven to be strong and faithful (based on all that I’ve read I firmly believe this to be true). She and her family need our prayers. I gladly lift up my prayers and ask that you join in.
God, Please show Your strength, Your mercy and Your grace. Bless this woman again, as You’ve so richly blessed her during previous trials. Be with her. Be with her family. Infuse her with Your Spirit. Only You can help her recover from the strokes that threaten her. Through Your steadfast faithfulness I trust You to show us Your power & might. All glory is Yours. Amen.

Guest post – How to Stay Young!

This was forwarded to me. Given my intense focus on writing a novel as part of NaNoWriMo I’m going to “borrow” this as a way of blowing the dust off of this blog.












1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them…that’s why you pay ‘them.’


2.
Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop’…and the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, conifers, hostas, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

AND ……ALWAYS REMEMBER
:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.


And if you don’t send this to at least 8 people
– who cares?
But do share this with someone… We all need to live life to its fullest each day!


Worry about nothing, pray about everything!


Amen.

Because I have nothing better to do…I’m ready to go!

I have been pining for a while. Pining and whining. I’m ready for a change. I’ve been ready for a change. On two separate occasions (once in 2005, once in 2008) I’ve started novels. Like miscarriages, conceived but never fully developed.

Now, I’m 3 days away from the wildest writing ride of my life. Wilder than last year’s NaBloPoMo. Wilder than the last few weeks spent warming up on my non-fiction work. I’m pregnant, expectant, ready to deliver. I think my water’s broken. I’m at the cusp of full-blown labor pains. NaNoWriMo.
I’m in awe. Afraid yet alive with excitement. Nervous energy wells as I edge closer to the precipice. When I wake up Sunday morning I will be at the start of something that will change me. It is inevitable. I will not leave this experience the same as when I started – no matter how the birthing process goes. I’m ready to shout it to the world. And, God willing, by the end of November I will.
“I’m a novelist!”
Alleluia!

It’s a Banner Day!

In the beginning there was a standard template bearing the title of this blog “A Mother’s Angst. Soon after that I jazzed it up with the emo weeping eye. I’ve wept so many times over my children it seemed appropriate.
I’ve been open about my angst, my sorrows, and sometimes my joy. The banner evolved to reflect my evolution from pervasive sorrow to the overriding joy given to us through God’s grace.
Today the banner takes another step forward. I may tweak it a bit but this is closer to what I’ve imagined for a while now. I’m reading the book of Jeremiah and I’m overwhelmed by the example God sets for us. I can relate to God’s frustration with His children, the people of Israel & Judah. Jeremiah 31 is all about restoration. I pray for the restoration of my relationships with my grown children. Meanwhile, I thank God for all that I’ve learned and am able to share with others.