Monday, December 31, 2012

The End Of The Season

Christmas is officially over when
Dirk goes home.
I think you can understand why.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pondering, still...

Luke 2:19-20
My first born, a son, was born 32 years ago.
If I close my eyes (and even if I don't)
I see the dark curls clinging to his scalp.
I can hear his father's excited exclamation.
I remember his grandparents' first comments -
The room, those present, even the color of 
the first blanket he was wrapped in.
Those were his first moments, and I treasure them still
and ponder over them from time to time.

Of course Mary treasured these things
and pondered them in her heart!
It must have felt good to have confirmation
of the words the angel had spoken to her
9 month earlier.
Yes, Joseph has believed her, but had anyone
else bought into her wild story?
Did she have to convince herself from time to time
that this was really happening?
That she was to be the mother of the Messiah?
Was it possible, and was she capable?

But now, feeling the rhythmic breathing of her baby boy,
and witnessing the confirmation of the prophesies,
did she dare to believe that this baby would be a King?
Was she, like the rest of nation,
expecting a military king?
Did she think she would one day be the queen mother
of the nation of Israel?
Maybe...maybe not...

But I am confident that she held in her heart
the way he sighed in his sleep,
the shape of his lips, pursed on waking,
the softness of his hair,
the length of his tiny fingers and toes...

Treasuring and pondering.
That's what moms do best,
For a lifetime and beyond.

Merry Christ Mass to all!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


And the GOOD Shepherd.

Luke 2: 17 & 18

I've made note of where 
shepherds stood in the 
social hierarchy of their time.
So todays reading has me scratching my head a bit.
They went out and told of what 
they had seen and heard
and apparently people believed them.
That just seems incongruent with what I
would expect would happen. 
I would think they would have been dismissed.
But they weren't.

And then I think of all the lofty titles given to
Lord of Lords.
High Priest.
Prince of Peace.

But the one that seems
to be His favorite;
the Good Shepherd.

It just seems unexpected that He
would embrace the 
least of these.

But it's not, 
is it?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What if the Angels Sang to Only One Shepherd?

Luke 2:15-16
Have you ever woken from a deep sleep
unsure if what you just witnessed was
Real or a dream?
It feels real, in a slightly implausible kind of way.
But the world is just
as you left it and you rationalize that it
was just a dream.
Roll over -
Back to slumber…

With the angel songs still ringing in their ears,
and the blinding light fading to black,
each shepherd must have been
rubbing his eyes convinced he just had
the strangest dream of all!
They blinked and gaped around
to see their companions doing the same.
I bet the exclamations tumbled out of their mouths
as each talked more excitedly than the last.
Or maybe they were all stunned into silence at
the realization that it WASN'T a dream.

At any rate, I’m sure it wasn't as orderly as,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has
happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
That’s Bible speak for “Did you just see that!!!!
I’m outta here!!!!  Catch you in Bethlehem!!!!”

That’s how I want to wake up this Christmas morning.
Not like a child looking for gifts from Santa,
but as a shepherd, certain of and longing to worship a baby!
Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

Luke 2: 13 & 14

You have to read it in the 
King James
....a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God and 
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, good will
toward men.

Well, if that one angel scared the 
shepherds witless
imagine what a
did to them!

I can't imagine what that looked like
or sounded like.

But someday because of the baby's birth
the angels were heralding, 
I can join in the praising 
in heaven. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Luke 2:11-12

Keep well to the right
Of the oncoming car
Get your close shaves
From the half pound jar

I'm just a little young to remember those signs,
though every once in a while
someone revives the idea along the road side 
and breaks the travel monotony
for a mile or so.

I think God actually had the original idea.
The prophesies are all over the Old Testament.
One after another mankind passed them,
along the miles - stretching to centuries - of history.

And then the time came:

Virgin is pregnant
Journey to Bethlehem town
Babe in a stable
Wise men lay their treasures down
Cold lonely night
Shepherds with sheep
Singing angels
Disturb their sleep
Just in case 
you missed all those
Baby wrapped 
in swaddling clothes

Tiny fingers, tiny toes
Precious little bitty thing
Came from heaven down to earth
Son of God, the Lord and King
Jesus Christ

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Angels And Shepherds

An unlikely pairing.

But you wouldn't know it from just a casual read.
Angels are cute or beautiful
winged beings.
Shepherds are just olden times

Therein lies the problem with 
reading the bible
with no commentary.

Angels were scary.
Every time they are mentioned
the people around shake with fear
or fall to the ground.
They are constantly being told to
"fear not."

Shepherds were the lowest of the low.
They had no real friends, 
they roamed from place to place
looking for the good grass.
The locals saw them 
as miscreants.
Not to be trusted. 

These two little verses make me think.

Don't just "read" the Bible.
Dig in.

Don't discount the 
"lowest" of us.
Or me.
God may be saving His biggest news
for us.

Don't be surprised if hearing from God
is a bit scary.

Above all,
keep listening.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wrapped in Love

Luke 2:7-8
I never really swaddled my kids.
Maybe it wasn't vogue back then,
or maybe I just missed the memo.

But my youngest grandson was swaddled.
The nurses taught my son and his wife the technique,
And Aidan loved it.
It was his security -
his calming signal -
his off switch.

Mary swaddled Jesus, too.
Was that just something women from
Nazareth just did?
Or was it to keep him warm against the nighttime chill?
Or to keep the hay from poking his tender skin?

And if the song is to be believed,
I guess Jesus liked it -
I mean
"No crying He made", right?
It doesn't seem right that He would need the security
of the swaddle - that seems kind of 
But then again, He gave up ruling the universe
to be born of a teen mom in a barn...

I'm glad she swaddled Him.
In her poverty,
she did all she could humanly do to provide for
the Heavenly newly come to Earth.

To offer God
the best,
the most,
the highest
she had available, 
no matter how small it might seem - (happy) sigh...

Sleep well, baby King!

Monday, December 17, 2012

People Are Talking....

Luke 2: 5 & 6

So, Joseph and Mary set out.
They aren't married yet but Mary
is great with child.
Can you imagine the talk going on behind
their backs?
As best I can tell, Elizabeth
is the only other person who 
knows that Mary is carrying the
Son of God.

Did Mary and Joseph try to explain?
And if they did , would anyone have 
listened or wilder still,
believed them?

I think not because if 
anyone understood the royalty
Mary was carrying, there would have been 
a virtual parade escorting
them to Bethlehem. 

I don't know how much social
scorn Mary and Joseph endured
but it makes me wonder.
How much do I worship
at the idol of public opinion?
How often do I water down
God's directives in my own life so as to be
politically correct?

Funny where two little verses a day
can take you.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Where We Come From

Luke 2:3-4

I come from Iowa.
Ottumwa, Iowa, to be exact...
Me and Radar O'Reilly.

Actually, I guess that's not really where I'm from - 
I was just born there -
my Bethlehem.
We lived in an even less impressive town at the time -
Eldon - my Nazareth.

I can't imagine what difference that makes to anyone.
No prophecy surrounded my birth.
My birth announcement listed my parents,
but not my grandparents,
and certainly not my great, great grandfather to the 50th power.

Jesus birth and life and death were foretold 
centuries earlier.
They were documented well prior to his birth.
He was not just part of the plan -
He WAS the PLAN.
He IS the PLAN!

And the same God who made that PLAN
has a plan for me, too.
You won't find me referenced in a pre-history book,
Nor likely in the history books 100 years from now.
But God's plan includes me, too.

Maybe life isn't as random and capricious 
as it seems after all.
God used something as trivial as a census
to fulfill the prophesy on the location of Jesus' birth.
Wonder what He can do with Ottumwa?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Come Lord Jesus

Todays reading is
Luke 2 : 1&2

It's not that interesting.
A census was to be taken.

If a census was taken in 
Newtown Connecticut 
Thursday morning
and another one just 24 hours later
the counts would be very different.

Lory's December 12th post
couldn't be any more relevant.

Come Lord Jesus.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Full Circle

Matthew 2:19-20
Herod dies. 
(Paid mourners only)

Joseph dreams.
(I wish I had dreams with such clarity.  
Mine make only sense while sleeping,
Are odd at waking,
And baffling to try to explain.)

Joseph follows his dreams -
Mary had to be ecstatic!
A young girl of 15 or so whose first born,
a child of whispered parentage,
comes into the world
with a carpenter for a 'midwife'.

She had probably never left Nazareth before,
and now she has a stamp on the passport
for herself and her child!
Jesus has never met his grandparents!

And those were the easy years!
The next time rulers took aim at her Son,
she would be forced to watch Him die.

Sometimes I think a clear message from God would be outstanding!
But it seems those who receive such direct Words
are also called to major sacrifice.

Thank you, God, for Mary and Joseph!
You (of course) chose well!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Quit While You're Ahead!

When I devised this little
reading plan I just went 
as far into the Matthew readings 
as what seemed a natural stopping point. 
Matthew 2:15 
would have been a 
less messy spot.

But Herod killing all those 
children happened.
People during those times needed
to see prophesy fulfilled.
We have a *history* book they 
didn't have.
And we need to be reminded that
our salvation came at a price.

It was a priced paid by many through out
history but the ultimate
price was paid by God and by Jesus.

God sacrificed His
baby boy. 
Jesus endured 
death on the cross.

Lory's right, 
not everybody will have a 
Merry Christmas.

I wonder how merry
first Christmas was.
He knew where this story was going.

But, then again, 
He knows the big picture.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

UnMerry Christmas

Matthew 2:15-16
The child born to save the world is running for his life -
Maybe even before he's old enough to know how to run!
Along with his family,
Jesus was a fugitive - but alive.
But many mothers lost their sons
as a result of Herod's rage.

My heart and my stomach seize up in tandem
at just the thought of losing a child.
That is a desert I have not been forced to cross.
Others have.

Others have experienced a Silent Night broken only
by the sound of their own sobs.
Others have arrived at the Midnight Clear 
with no clarity
at all.

The Holly, Jolly Christmas we all idolize and have grown
to demand can be distinctly absent,
as it was that first Christmas.

Irony of all irony:
A child's birth brings death to others.
Later the death of the same Son brings
the gift of life to all who wish to receive it.

What Child is This?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Things That Aren't Said

Matthew 2: 13 & 14

Think about Lory's post from yesterday.
The emotions she talked about
in relation to how much she loves
her baby boys.
(even the grown ones)
Now think about the scariest thing you 
could imagine, 
someone with
of power wants to 
 your baby boy!
Todays reading takes us back to
That man was 
enough to 
God's voice.
That man was
enough to 
That man was 
enough to 
pick up 
and get the heck out of Dodge.

I started this series of blogs
with the perception that there really isn't
much said about Joseph.

 Sometimes silence speaks volumes.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fall on Your Knees

Matthew 2:11-12
I love a baby!
I love toddlers!
Ditto children of all ages!
With 3 sons, 3 grandsons, and another grandson on the way - I'm kind of partial to little boys!
They own my heart -
They have my full attention -
They have me wrapped around their little fingers!
I love them each with my whole heart!
I would give my life for any one of my "boys" - gladly!
I know them - I have intimate connections to them.  
They are blood.

But I have never spontaneously fallen on my knees to worship any one of them.
It seems unlikely that I ever will.

What was it about that child - the Christ Child - that brought out such
from strangers and royalty?
What did Jesus stir in the hearts of those kings that told them in an instant
that they were less than the King they beheld?

Almighty God
even in the body of a child!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Biblical GPS

Today's reading is 
Matthew 2:9, 10.
The wise men followed the star.
Say what?
How did they do that?

That boggles my mind. 
If I started following a star today
I would have no idea which way to even start. 
I can just hear God now, 

OK, wise men 
following a star
and getting where they 
need to be.

It's a God thing.
I love God stuff.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Turn the Other Face

Matthew 2: 7-8
Herod's at it again.  
A mere 7 verses earlier the Magi arrived in Jerusalem.
Two verses after that we see that Herod has whipped the whole of Jerusalem into a panic because of the news brought from the East.  
So a whole nation knows and trembles while their king prepares with venom to attack the toddler King.

Meanwhile, the egotistical king turns on the charm with the Magi to find out where he can
 *go to worship the child*.
Really, Herod, have you never heard the other title for Magi - WISE men!

One king turns the other face.
One King turns the other cheek.
Which will you follow?

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Other Side Of The Tracks

Today's reading is Matthew 2: 5&6.

There's a little nugget that The Message helped
make me think about. 
It's regarding the prophecy about where
 the messiah would come from.
The Message says;
"it's you, longer bringing up the rear."

So, without doing much research I'm left to 
imply that Bethlehem must not have been 
much of a destination city.
Could it have been the 
Jersey Shore
of Bible times?

I don't know, but this much I do know,
God uses the least of us 
to accomplish His

Whether it's a city
on the wrong side of the tracks, 
 a manger
or a young girl.

Gives hope to this
cracked vessel. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Little Big Man

Today's reading is Matthew 2:3-4
Does anyone remember that movie with a young Dustin Hoffman?  
Me, either, really - except for the name.  
And that must have been the name they used behind Herod's back -
Or putz - one of the two.

But no one laughed to his face and lived to tell.  
When Herod vexated, an entire nation wrung its hands.
Not the good kind of power or the good kind of king, either.
Jesus collected his first mighty enemy - and He was still a toddler!
Really, couldn't Herod pick on someone his own size!

And just like bullies through the centuries and yet today,
Herod was too cowardly to face his foe by himself -
so he induced an entire nation to be his minions -
to fight a dreaded TODDLER!

I guess if Herod was Little Big Man, that makes the Christ Child:
BIG Little Man
Son of God

My King beat that king - OH YEAH!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

If God Was Smiling Yesterday...

Hopefully He will be chuckling today.

Todays reading is 
Matthew 2:1&2
It's about the wise men following the star.
I've read enough commentaries to know
that they did not actually show up at the stable.
Jesus was probably about two years old by
the time they got there.

Which reminds me of a joke...
What if it had been three wise women?
they would have asked directions,
they would have arrived on time,
they would have helped deliver the baby,
they would have cleaned the stable
they would have brought casseroles.

God loves me.
He has to.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

God is Smiling!

See that baby in the manger?  I know it's hard to see from the picture, but believe me, He's smiling!  And that guy standing in the back - well, that's Joseph!  I bet he still can't believe all that has happened.  He was just a simple man thrust on the stage of universal proportions!  He had a broken heart (his fiance was pregnant, and it wasn't his!), and a dream (that included angels), and then a wife and now a baby!  But the baby is just on loan to him - or maybe he is just on loan to the baby.  Someone had to teach Jesus to shave, right?  Or maybe not, adult Jesus always has a beard. Hmmmm

At any rate, I love the heart of Joseph.  So much responsibility and no publicity, just kind of an honorable mention for an honorable man.  But I'm thinking that angelic dream must have seemed part nightmare.  Think about it:  you've decided to leave a woman who is obviously cheating on you.  You go to bed resolved to end the relationship and then an angel appears in your dream.  Seems like whenever angels appear, they seem to say, "Fear Not!"  So they must be something to be afraid of.  And when Joseph woke up, he got married.  But he waited most for a year for the honeymoon.  People are whispering behind his back about what he and Mary did before they got married.  
How ironic.

What to know what else is ironic?  Merry gave me such a big build up yesterday in this blog.  And today is my first ever blog.  And all I can come up with is wonder about Joseph's sudden change of heart and self imposed celibacy. 

Yep, God is smiling.  
Sometimes He smiles with me and often times on me.  Today He is smiling at me.  
It's ok.  I deserve it!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Matthew 1:22,23

Just to get us up to speed.
The following is a series of e-mails between Lory and me that started
from our first two days readings:
It strikes me what an honorable man Joseph was.  He didn’t know what we do about what comes next.  But he still wanted to protect Mary’s honor.
What an amazing man God chose to be the earthly father of His son!

and the poor guy gets so little time or background in the bible. Whatever happened to him?

It will be fun to get his perspective in heaven!  I bet he thinks he did no big thing.  And he doesn’t even know yet that his rough, calloused carpenter hands get to deliver his wife’s baby – a wife he has never been with!  I love that guy!

It seems like the three versions have a slightly different view of timing.  NIV seems to say that Joseph had already made up his mind before the angel stepped in.  KJV seems to say Joseph was still thinking when the angel arrived.  And the Message if you go back to v 19, seems to say he made up his mind but was still scheming on the how of it all.
Maybe it doesn’t matter, and how will we ever know.  I’m still impressed with Joseph.  He was a really good man!
Now maybe you can understand why I love 
discussing Bible stuff with Lory. 
I love her perspective on things. 
Mine are not quite so high(?)
I just wonder why the poor guy didn't get more press! 
 Todays reading takes us to the foretelling of Christ's arrival
from Isaiah.

The King James version is so beautiful.
I like to read a Parallel Bible when I'm studying. 
It has three pretty standard translations and 
then The Message all lined up across from 
one another.
The Message is really helpful when I am struggling to 
understand a passage but for this story
nothing can beat the old King James.

Can you just hear Linus,
"For unto you in the city of David is born..."
Oops, I'm ahead of myself that comes
in Luke.
We don't get there till December 19th.

The reference here goes to 
Isaiah 7:14.

King James says they will call him 

Jesus is a good name but
Emmanuel just
stirs something in me. 

God with us. 
God with me. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Same Thing, Different Perspective

Sometimes it's good to see things through
new eyes.
When decorating for the holidays 
do you find everything has it's place?

The tree has it's designated corner.
The stockings go here,
and the Santa tree ALWAYS goes here.

Well, I shook things up a bit this year. 
The tree is still in it's corner.
The stockings however are lining the back of the couch.
And shocking!
The Santa tree did NOT go up this year.

But you want to know the biggest surprise for me?
While I chose a different location for the
creche, shocking!, 
I had Shanna arrange the pieces.
And while it is still in the dining room,
I did change the piece of furniture it sits on.
But what is truly amazing is
Shanna's positioning of the pieces.
Joseph and Mary are in the manger.
Jesus is tucked away safely in a drawer till
 Christmas day.
But the young shepherd who should be
crouched down waiting
in front of the manger to worship
The Christ Child?
And the cow who should be lazying in the manger?

Check it out!
The cow is out in the field and the shepherd
is petting it!

Makes perfect sense!
Who knew!!??

We're Putting Christ Front And Center In Our Christmas

I have a friend. 
Her Name is Lory.

We do lots of things together. 
I'm usually the instigator of the things that 
can potentially get us into trouble.
I taught her to drink margaritas on the train.

Lory instigates the kinds of things like
what we will be endeavoring to do here
for the month of December.

It started with an innocent enough comment from Lory, 
"I'm going to enjoy a Christ mass celebration this December."

What does that look like anymore?
Lory challenged me to really think about that. 
I tend to listen to Lory and then even 
think about what she says to me.
She's one of the few people that do that to me.

I decided that I would like to read 2 verses
a day from 3 different bible translations 
of the Christmas story from 
Matthew and Luke. 
Mike even made an Excel chart for me.
It works out perfectly to get you to December 24th. 
God does stuff like that. 

Whereas Lory challenged 
(perhaps unintentionally) 
me to get a concrete idea of how to put 
Christ back in my Christmas, 
I have challenged Lory to use her amazing
gift of the written word.

Lory and I will be doing the readings I've outlined
for the month together, she liked my idea :o).
We are going to take turns here 
writing about the verses we've read for that day. 
Wherever they may take us. 

It will be a fun challenge for us. 
You can come along for the ride if you like. 
I will try to load the Excel chart with the readings
onto the blog.

If you do come along, 
do us a favor and comment once in a while.
It's not as intimidating as it looks. 
You don't have to sign up, you can 
comment as anonymous. 

Or, if you get here via Facebook
you can comment on the link there. 

Let's see where we go!

Pretty sure we won't wind up in jail for this one......

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Haven't Written Much Lately

I've been busy doing other things.

PS, that's about five minutes worth of photos.

Yes, very busy.