Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Scrub boards. Attic fans. Victrola. Record players. Typewriters. Eight track players. Pony Express. Televisions with knobs and no remotes. (I’m convinced some people had children just to change the station on the TV!) VCRs. Floppy disks. Bag phones. Rotary phones. 35 MM negatives. Folding maps. Home phones. Pay phones. Phone booths. CDs. WHAT DO THESE THINGS HAVE IN COMMON? They are either obsolete or are on their way to being obsolete.

At one point in time, each of these were considering cutting edge. We couldn’t see living our lives without them, and yet when the upgrade came along, we adapted and adjusted our way of living to incorporate the new item. I remember when Steve had the first pager and bag phone I had ever seen...(My sister and I used to tell people his pager was really a garage door opener.)

Do you remember the small, green screens on computers? Do you remember the first Atari games – Ping Pong?

I’ve often wonder what my great grandmother would think if she would have seen my work computer when someone in Illinois was using my mouse solving the problem on my system.

My soon-to-be eleven, year-old daughter often makes me feel obsolete and antiquated, and puberty hasn’t even hit!

Recently, I was going through photographs getting them organized by years. I went from 35 mm film negatives, to discs, to memory chips for my digital camera.

I remember when I worked in my dad’s State Farm office in high school that I would have to call in the claims to the claims office. Whenever daddy would hear me on the phone dictating the loss, he would intentionally come into my office and do whatever he could to get me laughing so hard that I would have to hang up and recall to start over. Now, people go to the internet to turn in their claims.

As much as things have changed, there is one thing that remains the same. He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Consistency – I look for it. I crave it. It’s security. Hebrews 11:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (NIV).

When your world seems to be spinning out of control and changing faster than you can keep up, when your life seems to be mass chaos rest assured your Rock, your Savior is as steady and confident about the plans and the future He has in store for you (Jer 29:11). He is as relevant today as He was with Moses. He is as current today as He was with Paul. He is alive today and actively participating in the lives of believers working it out for their good just as He has for centuries in the past and centuries to come. He will never become obsolete. Something for which to be thankful!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stages of a Christmas Tree -- A Boy Changes Everything

It’s not decorated with mesh garland, twinkle lights and sparkles galore. It doesn’t look like a designer visited my home putting touches of class here and there. The large, ornamental decorations that once hung on branches are replaced with hand-crafted treasures made by little hands of all ages. It isn’t even as large as we normally get, but it was decorated by my two children with ornaments filled with their shining faces in photograph form to document the Christmases before.

I was recently made aware that throughout life there are stages of a Christmas tree. When Patrick and I were first married, we were paying off debt, so we bought our little Christmas tree from a vendor in a parking lot in Duncanville, Texas. I don’t remember what kind it was, but we both remember the smell. It smelled of orange and spice. The fragrance filled the apartment. One or two string of lights and a few, inexpensive store-bought tree ornaments. We saved and bought our first home and could afford a few more decorations. Each year I added to my collection. I LOVE Christmas ornaments. I was collecting red (because red is my all-time favorite color), musical instrument ornaments, and clear beading and clear icicles. We went from a few measly ornaments to a tree full of lights, bows, ornaments and garb.

Then came baby one. Erin was such an easy baby. I could simply say, “Erin, that’s not yours. Don’t touch,” and she would withdraw her chubby, baby hand. We never had to change a thing about our tree UNTIL baby number two. By Pearce’s second Christmas, the tree started out beautifully decorated, but before the month was over, EVERY SINGLE ORNAMENT was above the three-foot mark. He couldn’t reach up much higher. Our tree was naked on the bottom three feet.

This year and last year, I relinquished my claim of decorating the Christmas tree. The kids wanted colored lights. The kids placed all of the ornaments (which means we have clumps of ornaments and bare spots). One of my collector ornaments was dropped and broken, but it was worth the time we had together. I know these years will be few and rare, so I will gladly relinquish my need to decorate and cherish this time we have with the kids.

The next stage is back to the Better Homes and Garden tree where I decorate it by myself – I will have plenty of years to be obsessive about my tree. Then comes the small, fake trees that are pre-lit and fit in the corner of a small room.

This tree talk reminds me of another tree many years ago that went through the many stages of development only to be made into a manger for animals and eventually to be made into a bed for a baby boy. There is also another tree connected to this baby boy. This tree is just as rugged and rough, but instead of holding a sweet, innocent, baby boy – the hope for eternity, it held the man who hung on it voluntarily for my sin. It held my redemption. Regardless of how the tree is ornamented whether by baubles, photos or by lights, remember the most important event that occurred on a tree was to give us all new life.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

--Wind in the Attic and a Coon Hat

Neither Lori nor I are sure how this happened, but our first born children have wind in their attics. We know they are intelligent. Erin started speaking in full, understandable sentences at 18 months, and Madeleine was tested when she was younger and tested quite high. We don’t know if it was something in the way we parented them or is it the fact that they were only children for the first three or four years of their little lives? Do we need to let them watch TV more and read to them less? I must say it does have us scratching our heads at times. Either of these two girls will do something and common sense just flies right out the window after it has circled their heads a couple of times.

What’s funny is now Pearce is explaining things to them. I’m afraid he’s going to tell his older sister about Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny!

Catherine wearing a coon hat.
Tonight at Honey and Poppar’s Christmas party for the grands, Catherine had found a raccoon hat – if you know Cat, you appreciate this. If you don’t know Cat, you might think this a little odd. Not to be outdone, when Catherine took the hat off, her older sister put the hat on backwards. Poppar called Madeleine (the older sister) over to him. He lifted the tail and wiped her forehead with a piece of tissue paper. Pearce was watching it all – taking it all in. He is all too keenly aware of things. Madeleine didn’t have a clue what Poppar was doing or what it meant. I asked Pearce if he knew what came out from underneath a coon’s tail. I wish I could have recorded his laugh. It was the biggest belly laugh you have ever heard and continued everytime he saw Madeleine with the backwards coon hat. He has one of those infectious laughs. Meanwhile, Madeleine stands there – not even catching a whiff of what is funny – then turns and walks off to the kitchen.

How can these two beautiful and smart little girls be so dingy?

Then you throw Catherine in the mix, and we have ourselves a mass chaos of 4. Catherine is all about having a good time. When she gets to say the blessing (and a Honey’s house, EVERYONE who wants to say a blessing is permitted), she always prays, “Help us to have a good time and no one to get in trouble.” See where her focus is?

It’s funny to sit back and watch them interact with one another or to see how they’ve changed. Even though Madeleine and Erin have been in the same grade at the same school since they were babies, we’ve had them separated in different classes since Erin could talk. We found out Erin was telling the other two year-olds she and Madeleine were twins. At that point, we thought it would be a good idea to separate them.

AND FOR THE RECORD…Honey and Poppar are NOT my parents. I’m not even sure where my parents went. At tonight’s Christmas party, Honey served the children cookie cake and either chocolate milk or juice. That would have NEVER happened when I was growing up in their house. If I would have asked for that Honey’s response would have been, “You’ll rot your teeth out.” Now mind you these were my baby teeth, and they were SUPPOSED to fall out of my head. It would have been cheaper than having to have them pulled. I was just trying to save them money.

I say all of this to say this…during this holiday season, observe your family. See how God wove you together as a family with each of your idiosyncrasies. It is by no accident that God put you together as a family. Be sure to thank Him for each and every nut in your family tree. Find something positive about each person and encourage them. Too often we wait until it is too late to say the simplest of things that mean the most.

Loves "Steele Magnolias" and Loves a Variety of Characters

If I were to do a character sketch on the people in my family, there would not be a normal one in the bunch, and that is both sides of my family – my mom’s and my daddy’s. Some of you have heard stories from my daddy’s side of the family, and trust me when I say that is just a smidgeon of the stories coming from his side of the family tree. On my mom’s side, the characters may not be as wildly colored, but the characters are unique just the same. This holiday season, we open our homes to family, friends and friends of family…and sometimes perfect strangers.

Now, if you are a Southern woman, you know or have been trained how to welcome people into your home, how to make someone feel comfortable, and probably have mastered the art of small talk, but what happens when one of the most difficult people to deal with is one of your own family? Do you have anyone who continually makes poor decisions? Do you have anyone who is downright rebellious? Is there anyone in your family that people have just given up on? Isn’t it easy to judge someone else? How often do you make a snap judgment about someone you are passing? You see the way they are dressed. You see their size. You see their ethnicity. You see their possessions. You see ornamentation. And you make a snap decision about that person. HMMMMM. Too often the judgment comes out of the mouth. You know the quote by Clairee Belcher from Steele Magnolias, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then come sit by me.” Judgments about other people tend to spread quicker than the truth.

But let’s say that someone asks if they can bring a guest to your home for the holidays. Is that a problem? Typically, we have so much food that we are asking people to come and eat up until the day of the feast, so it’s not typically a problem. Let’s say they arrive, and the guest is a woman, a beautiful woman. She carries herself with her head held high. Her hair and make-up look like it is out of a Glamour magazine. She is the guest of another female friend of yours, and this unexpected guest is wearing the smallest of skirts, the tallest of heels, and the tightest of shirts. The smart, steel magnolia would sachet’ herself over to this guest to get the low-down, the dirt. As Truvy says on my favorite movie, “Oh get with it, Clairee. This is the eighties. If you can achieve puberty, you can achieve a past.” How would you treat this guest in your home?

There’s a woman in John 8 who was actually found in the act of adultery. Now to be presented as an adultress, there had to be preferably three people who caught her in the act. Could she possibly have been set up by the Pharisees? Absolutely, but we don’t know that for sure. All we know is the Pharisees brought this woman to Jesus. Can you imagine the humiliation, the shame, the embarrassment? All these MEN talking about her, what they saw her doing, and yet, where is the man? She couldn’t commit adultery aloneHELLO! The Pharisees had the dirt on this woman, and they were wanting to entrap Jesus.

While they were questioning Jesus, He stooped and drew on the ground. Not that it makes any great difference, but I sure would like to know what He was writing. If you are the Son of God, what would His doodling look like?

He stands up, and in verse 7 He says, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then Jesus returned to drawing on the ground…doodling. What if He was writing down their names in the dirt and listing their sins out beside their names! Those Pharisees were definitely schooled that day.

Verse ten says, “Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you’?” Jesus then tells her that He doesn’t condemn her either and to go live her life free from sin.

Think about the day that woman must have had. She was in the presence of her lover. She was caught in the most vulnerable of situations. More than one man caught her in the act and pulled her out to be judged while leaving her lover to escape without consequences. The shame, the fear (she could be stoned). As she is standing, clutching her clothes to her body in front of these men who are judging her and holding her future in their hands, she receives forgiveness and redemption from the true lover of her soul.

We don’t know what brought her to this point in her life. Just like you don’t know what has brought that woman guest to this point in her life that she is now in your home, your church, your party. Jesus extended grace. What will you extend?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Elf on the Shelf Freaks Erin Out

Had I thought things through I would have known that Erin would not have appreciated the Elf on the Shelf.

Erin did not have an issue with the big man himself. She liked the idea of Santa bringing toys for her benefit, but it was very concerning to her that while she was sleeping that this man would enter our home in the most unconventional means, eats our food, drink our milk, and leave toys behind. I had never thought about it myself, but she makes perfect sense.

Have you ever gone to bed at night and heard something rattle outside or even worse inside your home? I’ve grabbed a baseball bat once. My heart was pounding so loud I thought everyone down our street could hear it. For Erin, Santa was a stranger in her house making all sorts of noises. One year she heard him putting up a train set, and the next she heard him putting up a racetrack.

Two Christmases ago, I thought it would be great fun to introduce the Elf in the Shelf to my children. For those of you who have not heard about the Elf on the Shelf, it is a doll and book. When the doll shows up, the host family names the elf. Erin says we named ours Elvis. Elvis lasted three nights before Erin broke down in tears, “He just freaks me out!” Elvis was to watch over the actions and deeds of those in our house, and at night, he would go to the North Pole to report what he observed to Santa Claus. I was SOOOOOO hoping this would make an impression on the boy-child. When the elf appears the next morning, he shows up in the most unusual of places, and he is the most mischievous of elves. I’ve seen photos of where an elf rolled the inside of someone’s den. The kicker is that the children have to clean up after the Elf – I like that part. The straw that broke Erin’s last nerve was Elvis showing up in the children’s bathroom. She heard him go into her room that night and then into the bathroom. What she really heard was my entering her room to check on her, but there was no confusing her with the facts…not happening. She was not going to sleep again until that elf was out of the house. He was gone that very morning. So sad. I was hoping to have a lot of fun with the elf.

I started thinking about the Elf on the Shelf this week as I pulled out the Christmas decorations for my home. I have Nativity Scenes for every room in my home. The children have one for each of their rooms. There is one in the den, and one in the dining room. As a general rule, we don’t put baby Jesus into the manger until Christmas morning when we sing “Happy Birthday.” Is Baby Jesus like the Elf on the Shelf in your house? Do you bring Jesus out once a year because it is the decorative thing to do? When you bring baby Jesus out, do your family and friends think that it is just part of the holidays – something fun with which to decorate? Or do they know just how holy this holiday is to you? It would be a bit freaky or odd to say the least if the only time you brought Jesus into your home was as a baby during the Christmas holidays. Don’t ya think?