As a little boy in a very poor family living in farm country, then outside of very small towns in south-central Wisconsin I was always in awe at Christmas.
Shiny. Unique and different.
Once each year in the midst of snowdrifts, cold plowed-under fields, disjointed and rarely home at the same time family gathered near our pot-bellied stove by a pine tree trimmed with sparkling ornaments, tinsel and shine.
Well, first it was trying to sleep through extreme wonder and excitement. See, my older sister had her room, my older brother and I shared another upstairs above the living room. These old farmhouses had a floor grate in each through which at least some first floor heat would rise -and by which you could slightly see and sometimes hear.
Down there, just outside of my parents room, our faces against the grate on the floor, my brother and I would try to Sherlock possible clues for what they took all night to assemble below.
Not the whole picture, just clues.
The longer I lived, the more I noticed clues coming my way.
Our family opened all presents only after breakfast first (!) on the morning of Christmas day. Arggghhh… the waiting, longing, excitement and surprise very nearly killed us!
Nobody could even leave the table until all ate the eggs, toast, drank some tea. Slowly. It seemed their coffee poured like molasses! Then- as to near-maniacal horses at a racetrack waiting for the bell my Dad would say “Now! Go slow, take your time!”
Good idea as there were only a handful of gifts per child. Flying paper, shouts of glee, glistening, gushing surprise and joy ensued, parents laughing and fully enjoying the moment.
In those times due to illness, job loss and poverty our birthdays meant a cake and one or two gifts. Christmas was close to heaven with the grandeur and glory.
In fact, it always was and is as long as the earth shall endure.
To some. Some.
Oh those blizzards! The massive icicles hanging from the rooftop around our windows. The winter moonlight blue on deep snow. And the beauty, scent of the EVERgreen with all the shine.
It all went away in a week or so.
My family completely disintegrated over a couple of years.
Nothing seemed to matter, to make any difference in my life but my addictions -drugs, sex, booze and music were about all I could depend on just a few years afterward.
Was there anything worth celebrating but pleasure, lust, greed and despair when the living room no longer offered life?
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John. 1.12
When we believe WHO this little child is, we are “born again”… we ourselves become “like a little child” again, innocent, new, REborn, and “the free gift of God is eternal LIFE through Jesus Christ our Lord”.
When you truly know and walk with the Savior and as YOUR Savior and Lord, when you understand what He did on the cross and Easter morning FOR YOU, with YOU in His mind… you have reason to GIVE. You begin to truly give God THANKS regardless of your circumstances, regardless if you’re accepted by others, regardless of your situation.
When we stand before Him what will matter? When each of us as individuals stands before Him WHAT WILL MATTER THEN?!!
Christmas, contrary to culture and pop opinion, is Christ. It is not Republican nor Democrat Christ, but THE baby like yet fully unlike all other babies: The Anointed One, Messiah, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace”.
His kingdom never ends. All others do and shall.
THIS is shine without the credits rolling, love eternal, the only life that is life, the Best of the Best.
What do you want for Christmas? WHO do you want for Christmas?? “Ask, seek, knock”.
When you truly know the Risen Jesus Christ, you know Christmas, Easter and heaven in a very, very different light.
A light that will never fade -nor die.
Never will I ever forget my first true Christmas.
He came. Everything changed. Even me.
Merry Christmas -and as always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn
A bro. who cares about an addict friend recently asked me about this specific thing. Perhaps it might be helpful to some to read though my very brief answer.
I actually wrote quite a bit more but this was a follow-up to his original question where he focused on The Bible in regard to the topic.
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn
“Re-reading your message brought me to the following thoughts as well:
A theology (simple as this will sound, for it is!) of addiction means a theology of a habit that masters you or me. Put another way, the fruit of self-control (Gal. 5) and the other fruit of the Holy Spirit is choked out (Parable of the Sower) by riches (wealthy addicts…) cares of this life (most of us) and worries (most of us) to the extent one with little or zero control runs to the focus of one’s addiction in order to “maintain” if not as an ultimate, substitute god (sans the TRUE, REAL GOD Who IS God!).
Sin (missing the mark) is in the world, we have all sinned and fallen short. Habitual, practiced sinning is core to addiction re. a Bible-based, Christian view of addiction. You cannot only nor in -total- in my view, consider the addiction a mere disease- though indeed scientific, dna and social upbringing/influence greatly support the habit which I do not in the least deny!
From this basis, it may be helpful to consider the following:
Really. I know not everyone has the same muse, skill, imagination, but I can tell you I check Instructables.Com several times per week. I also have checked the Make Magazine website and from time to time Mother Earth News, for years… d.i.y. (do-it-yourself) is appealing for a number of reasons.
On a budget (that is, not a lot of money) ? You can think, pray, imagine, websearch any number of d.i.y. sites, YouTube and so on, and have a go at making something with your hands and just a few tools.
I cannot tell you (ahead of time anyhow) what I am doing for various family members for Christmas, but presents are fun to make and it seems I rarely (whew!) strike out. Well, not always are they as big a hit as they were cool to create but…
This year as many years now, I have done what I could. Simple stuff, fun stuff, stuff that is needed and often with whatever I can find, often recycling, re-purposing or up-cycling stuff.
Maybe after New Years I’ll blog on what I made others for Christmas to give you some ideas for another time…
I do admit, we share a lot of love in my family and there is great taste (not mine… except in selecting an amazing wife by God’s grace!!) but also not a snobbery from my kids, sons-in-law and grandkids. My wife is super gracious and truly seems to dig what I create. So there you go.
Not everyone has such close family members but in the end, being poor doesn’t have to mean you got nothin’ to do and nothin’ to give.
WORDS- poems, prose, books from re-sale shops or used bookstores
STUFF- I mean there is a looooong list of re-sale shop stuff and/or you can use parts of things to make something else
WEBSITE LINKS- there are tons of links you can find for free books on all sorts of topics that you know will interest those you are giving to… and for that matter a simple card with those links within it can be a really cool gift for some peeps you love. Links to free music videos or audio, movies, etc., they would enjoy while online.
If someone is truly poor and/or has zero web connections most cities in the U.S. offer at least a 30 min. (or more) free web connection via their computers at the local libraries.
CREATIVE SERVING- a card with an offer of babysitting one or two evenings for a loved one or couple, back or foot rubs for a spouse, drawing a nice hot bath along with your wife’s fave bubblebath (which you can create from Web recipe/directions), breakfast in bed and you do the dishes… the list is endless.
Really, it’s a matter of thought and consideration of what you are willing to creatively try.
You still have time, don’t freak, you can give a lot of love with very little money, just a bit of creativity and time.
Enjoy the holidays with Jesus and someone you love!
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn
Maybe you have or haven’t heard the phrase “impending doom” but between Facebook, world history, natural disasters and indeed The Bible itself there are absolutely real times of massive, manic, terror-stricken people who have experienced it.
“It”‘meaning the instinct, the hole-in-your-gut sense, the “maybe even around the next corner…” feeling of dread and intense, negative “Oh GOD what I fear most is about to COME upon ME!”
Paranoia? Needing prayer, counselling, small-group, possibly (and I am not joking) professional medical help? Could be any, a combo or all of these. Then again it might be prophetic.
I believe in prophecy, Bible and here-and-now spiritual gifts that indeed forecast or foretell events of cataclysmic suffering and ruin. We find them often enough in both Old and New Testaments. I have received plenty of “direct words” from people who as it turned out, were indeed correct in their telling me something/s about my life and what was going to take place in it via the hand of God.
Then again, beyond all I have now written on this in the blog you are reading, there is another “impending” (meaning “just about to happen”). No, I don’t mean Christmas.
Off come the gloves and I shall now be fully in-your-face rude. I’m talking about something all of us and certainly including myself have manifested all too often in our lives: impending dumb.
I mean un-educated, knee-jerk, freaking-out “The SKY is stinking FALLING PEOPLE and YOU DON’Ț GET IT… RUUUUUNNNNN!!!” revelations from individuals and at time groups of ’em who if living in Old Testament Israel would eventually be stoned cuz they are false prophets. They often 80 to 100 percent believe what they are telling people, but in the end will be proved wrong by events that do not take place and a God Who is consistent though we cannot always rightly predict and therefore proclaim what is to come.
Just one (HUGE!) illustration of this is the nation of Israel expecting a conquering king and God sends them a suffering Messiah Who speaks in parables (!) . Faith and trust in a truly Good and Gracious God regardless of calamity has likely always been (from one perspective) a deficit in human society. “Curse God and die” is often more like it.
“The beginning of wisdom is the fear (actual respect, sense of awe for, reverence as well as fear) of the Lord.” The -beginning- of it. The end of it is peace.
Knowing God in Jesus Christ, growing “in the GRACE and KNOWLEDGE of the Lord”, finding the peace in the eye of any storm (real or imagined) of any sort is possible -but I am convinced it is ONLY possible through a genuine relationship and actual knowledge of God via His Word and experience in choosing faith in Him regardless of blow-outs on the freeway.
Impending dumb means “you are about to be tempted to royally freak out because you are believing in and focusing on something other than the true God, His true Word and fully throwing yourself at His mercy. -REGARDLESS of circumstance, his grace which alone “is sufficient” is FAR better than the mercy of mere humans, events in the natural world, or allowing your emotions and even what may be a true prophetic word from God via others… to cause you to lose your mind and make foolish choices. Allowing your mind, emotions and choices to move you in any direction but towards Jesus is the only solution regardless of what happens (or does not).
There is a time for everything indeed… but there is never a time for choosing someone or something other than God Himself to meet your need. Have I ever run around in circles freaked-out? YES! But I am learning, still very much a student. “Impending dumb” ain’t never a good solution fer nothin’.
“Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4.6,7
Thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn
Poor Ami Moss (one of my daughters) was ill as was our grandson… and could not make it this time. But Rebecca (one of my other daughters), sweetest Wendi wife and amazing father-in-law and poet Curt Mortimer made it… just a wonderful evening as always at Living Springs/Watershed for “Kaiser Family Christmas”.
Our friends there are gems and the audience always very kind and appreciative. These are evenings of Christmas songs, poetry and the Bible story of what Christmas is truly about.
And I get to bring out cigarbox guitars here and there, as well as a beautiful gift given me years ago by longtime Cornerstone Festival goer and Project 12 friend Michael Rousey.
Mike and his sweet wife Terri have been amazing, gracious lovers of Jesus and New Orleans for many years. They live in the culture and serve neighbors on various levels and we are super blessed to know them.
So, being a gifted woodworker by trade as well as blues lover, Michael blew me away with this amazing piece of art/guitar/sweetness. It has electronics in it as well, but both acousticaly and via amp or p.a. sounds amazing and is a treat to play -she sang Silent Night sweetly last night 🙂
Shout out with love and Christmas joy to Mike, Terri and all our NOLA friends!
If you wish, here is more info. on this particular style of guitar:
As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn