Whose Face Do You See?

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Photo by Robin Röcker on Unsplash

“What’s the matter, honey?”

I heard her voice before I saw her face. My own face was bent into my hands, covered in tears. A lot was the matter, and I didn’t know how to fix it. But when I looked up into that kind face above mine, I saw Jesus standing there.

The summer after college, I traveled across the country with a music tour. Halfway through, my family called me to come home—Dad might not make it this time, they said.

A week later, after we’d confirmed that Dad would make it, my sister bought me a Greyhound bus ticket to rejoin my tour group. Unfortunately, when I got to Omaha, I discovered they were still four hours away—a geographical miscalculation that left me sitting in the bus station at 10 p.m., imagining what could befall a young woman in a place like that in the seedier part of Omaha.

 

For the rest of the story this week, go here to The Glorious Table For an amazing true story about loving your neighbor.

Leave Room: When the Christmas Calendar Is Too Much

I have a calendar on my phone, a calendar on my computer, a calendar on my website, and a calendar on my wall. You’d think I would never miss an appointment. You’d think I would never double book anything. You’d think I went backpacking on a yak in Siberia. No, you wouldn’t, but that last guess would be equally as accurate as the first two.

I still screw up the calendar.
And now it’s December. The month when we routinely add 314 things to our calendar that we will feel guilty about never being able to do. Because that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
We are calendarically challenged (your new word of the month), and we need to slow it down for the holidays, not ramp it up. That’s not to say we turn down social occasions and stay at home all month with our twinkling lights. Socializing is good, even for us flaming introverts. But let’s slow it down to the right kind of socializing.

Prioritize

What really “makes” Christmas for your family members? Cutting down the tree? Christmas Eve service? Eating baking cookies? Listen to every person, and then schedule in the things that matter the most to each person. Yes, schedule in baking cookies. Or it will happen at the last minute because you have to squeeze it in and you’re frazzled. This is not the time to be adjacent to knives, blenders, and hot ovens.
Everyone feels listened to, and the important things happen.

Add in Slowly9d398-img_0276

Start to pick other things you want or have to do. School programs. Worship time. Visits with people from out of town. Look at each time-sucker holiday event and ask your self a couple questions.
♦Is this something I really want to do?
♦Is it something that means a lot to another person?
♦Is it something that shows my gratitude toward God?
♦Is it something I have to do or risk unemployment?
If the answer is yes, put it on the calendar. When something new comes up, go through the mental process of asking these questions before you make an automatic yes. (Or no.)

Protect downtime

Keep free time free. Resist the urge to fill it in with “just one things more.” Yes, it might fit. Yes, you might enjoy it. But it will also stress you out to look at a full calendar and feel like you cannot escape its selfish demands. Guard those non-colored areas on your calendar as if they are gold. They are. They are your golden time to do nothing, enjoy one another, read together, or go on a drive in your pajamas to see lights. These are important activities. If you decide at the time that you can and want to do that one extra thing? Then do it. But you’ll be free to choose.
This is the only time I’m going to give you a pass on not committing to an event. Treasure it.

Celebrate weirdly

My family usually gets together after Christmas sometime. The crazy is over, the gifts are half price, and everyone is sick of coma inducing amounts of food so there’s no need to cook lavishly. Choose a not-normal time for those things you’d like to do but can’t fit in. A breakfast party instead of a dinner one. Invite families to volunteer together. Have friends with little ones over for hot chocolate, pj’s, and a favorite Christmas story time after dinner and before bed. It’s short and sweet and fun. Create an event at a time no one thinks of, and since you created it, you get to make the rules.
Rules are, you don’t have to set up a photo booth and handmade placecards. Unless you want to.

17b9e-window4Leave Room

Sometimes, interruptions to your calendar are good. The shepherds’ willingness to listen to the angels and take off for the stable meant only good things. I’m not sure how the Christmas story would have gone down if they had said to the angelic host, “You know, we’re kind of stressed right now. Can we take a pass on the newborn king thing? Maybe next month, when things slow down.” Well, I am sure. God would have found someone else to do their job. And they would have missed out.

But divine interruptions can’t happen with a blacked-out calendar. Leave room. Leave room for His presence to surprise you on a starry night.

If You Could Choose Five Dinner Guests….

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The age I was when my mom passed away. That would be a great dinner to see her again.

Five dinner guests. That’s the prompt this week for the Friday Five linkup here at Mrs. Disciple. Tough one.

If you could chose five people to have at your dinner table, people who cannot physically be there in reality, whom would you choose?

I am a perfectionist. I could take days deciding the precisely right five. But that would be counterproductive. I have a talk I give on letting good enough be good enough. So I have to take my own advice. Don’t we just hate that?

So without overthinking it . . .

1 and 2. My mom and dad. I was going to add my two sets of grandparents whom I never really met and be done, but then I thought, that would get pretty tense. I have the idea that relations between my parents and their parents weren’t all that rosy. And I don’t need that drama at my dinner table.

But I would love to know why things were not rosy. I would treasure sitting there and listening to their stories. Stories they never told. Was I too young, or were they? Were they so young when the stories happened that they never wanted to talk about the times they wished had never been? Like the war, or the first marriages, or yes, the parents.

I’d want to see the love in their eyes for one another, a thing I never really paid attention to when I was a kid.

I would introduce them to their three granddaughters. I think they would be proud. I think my dad and oldest would find themselves a lot alike. I think my mom would find all of us a tad too freewheeling for her comfort zone. Not to mention the fact that we’d all most likely be religious fanatics in her eyes. I wonder what she’d say if she knew her daughter grew up to be a preacher lady? I truly don’t know.

And I’d like to.

She’d probably clean my house, though. There’s a plus.

#3. Casey. The young man we took into our home and hearts who passed away 1590a-393376_273421972702629_943581585_nfrom a heroin overdose. I’d want to go back to a dinner we shared. I’d warn him about the last day when he would want to try heroin one more time. I’d impress on him that one day when he would want to walk out of that treatment program in anger, he should not. I would want to beg him, “Please don’t make me perform your funeral. I’ll never be able to forget it.” And if it didn’t work? I’d just like to tell him one more time we love him.

We’d all like to tell a lot of people that, wouldn’t we?

Spending Ourselves
I would so be using this mug.

#4. J.R.R. Tolkien. This should be a no-brainer to anyone who knows me. I want to pick his brain. I want to hear him speak elvish as the originator of the language. I want to drink in the imagination and the wisdom that seemed so effortless but which I know was not, considering the time it took. I can hope some of the patience (and talent) sink in by osmosis. I want to just listen. And maybe I’d show him the pictures of our gingerbread Minas Tirith.

Plus, I think he would have a fascinating conversation with our final guest.

#5. The Tenth Doctor. Hey, no one said we couldn’t invite people who don’t actually exist. #10 is my favorite. So, he’s the one who gets to come.

Really, though, the theological intricacies of Dr. Who fascinate me. This particular incarnation of the Doctor interests me the most, because he learns and lives so much of turning the other cheek, loving your enemy, and always giving another chance. Always. I’d want to talk about that, and how those values came about in a person who has seen and done much and lived too long for it to be anything but lonely and heavy. Somehow it wasn’t. We could all learn more about that.

And I’d get a selfie in the tardis.

An interesting dinner table. I’d love to see who would talk to whom. Whom would you choose, if you could?