Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What the quiet teaches

I have a tongue that needs stilling.

That barbed, venomous weapon I wield so deftly against the ones for whom I have the greatest love, of whom I am charged with care and keeping.  My tongue rends hearts; scarring, cutting, leaving marks that can’t be seen, or undone.   
Monday, I tried to keep my tongue behind my teeth.  Little feet dawdled.  Little hands sought play instead of the tasks that propel us out the door to school and life.  Little eyes locked with mine in flat-out defiance.  “You-can’t-make-me-brush-my-teeth-if-you-can’t-talk.”  Shoes were missing, breakfasts sat uneaten; running up and down the stairs was more pressing than getting-out-the-door-so-we’re-not-late.  And my wild gesticulating, rigid fingers pointing from packs to little backs, miming the next steps, brought only quizzically cocked heads.  And more rebellious immobility.

I broke.  I opened my mouth and used my most effective weapon.  I stood, less than 2 hours into my fast, and smashed little heart pieces with the force of my words, the outpouring of my heart.  Little eyes bulged.  “You’re talking.  You’re not supposed to.”

“You promised God.”

How many times have I promised God?  How many nights have I lain in bed, lamenting the day?  Please, Father, give me another chance tomorrow.  A chance to love them better, the way you love me.  A chance to speak life, a chance to use words that build up; a chance to love better. 
And every time coming up short. 

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.[1]
But that’s what Lent does.  It takes all my promises and strivings, and shows me where I come up short.  Lent is about dying.  It strips away at human effort and strength, until all that’s left is what’s underneath.  Rusted, rotting places that have to be uncovered in order to be worked on.  Lent is evidence of outward failure and destruction, so that the soul-bones beneath can be exposed and healed.    

God’s promises outlast mine.  God’s promises are fulfilled.
That’s where Lent leads.  To blood.  To the cross.  To a death. 

Human striving is never enough.  It all ends in death.  Lent leads us not only to death, but through it.  Through to the resurrection.  Through to life in grace.  

 A promise fulfilled.   
Glass promises, from my lips, will always break.  But universe-fabric promises will hold fast; because Love does not break.  The promise of Jesus’ life in exchange for mine.  For yours.  An absolute-eternal vow. 

Him for me.  Him for you. 

Love for brokenness.      
Life for death.  This is the way of Lent. 

[1] Luke 6:45

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Less-than Human Silence

To begin with, Silent Mondays weren’t my idea.  But there has been something weighing heavily on my heart in recent semesters, and particularly in the past few weeks: the silencing of women’s voices in the greater body of Christ.  Though, even with the most cursory glance at my life, I readily admit: I don’t have it that bad.  I am pursuing a Masters of Divinity at a seminary that is ‘liberal’ enough to not only allow women to do so, but encourages them in this endeavor.  This education a dream of mine, but also the Officer’s for me; which makes it depreciating to only say that he supports me in it.  My church permits women to teach, has women on the leadership team, and in guiding the church, places as much value on the opinion of women as men.[1]  I can teach my children what and how I like.  I can call up my pastor, or any other pastor for that matter, whenever and about whatever I chose.  I can voice my opinion about practices or scriptural interpretation or spiritual development whenever I please.[2]  So, no; I don’t have it bad at all.

Which may raise the question: what’s the problem?

The problem is that, the closest church to my residence forbids its female congregants to seek pastoral counsel without the express permission of their husbands/fathers.  The problem is that at the 2012 Desiring God Pastor’s Conference hosted by John Piper, he claims that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.  And being God, a God of love, he has done that for our maximum flourishing both male and female.”[3]  The problem is that the head pastor of the Mars Hill brand of churches, Marc Driscoll, explains that “[the Apostle] Paul is simply stating that when it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men.”[4]  Mr. Driscoll uses the covers of secular magazines in grocery store checkout lines as evidence to his point. One has to wonder if Mr. Driscoll considers Playboy, Maxim, or GQ covers as adequate frames of reference for the qualifications of men in church leadership.  The problem is that even in 2012, women are being told that they have nothing to offer outside of submission to male headship, thus alienating a generation of American and European women.  The problem is that we’ve tacked “submission to males” onto the gospel for women. 

A “Jesus and…” proposition for women.           
Of course, that’s just in the western church.  There’s an entire world of women who are considered less than human by their governments, their religions, their families.  Women who cannot leave the house without a male escort, girls who cannot attend school, brides who are burned, girls sold into prostitution, woman as slaves in the sex trade.  Women as chattle.  Women as property.  Women as less.  The first step in dehumanization is establishing inferiority.  When women and girls become less in any manner to their male counterparts, the way is made clear for subjugation and abuse.  Less intelligent, less abled, less worthy.

My voluntary silence will do nothing for the women trapped in these circumstances.  Subjugation, abuse, dehumanization won’t be stopped with the stilling of my voice.  Not talking will do nothing for the women attending Driscoll's or Piper’s churches.  It will not benefit the women in the pews up the street, nor allow women into leadership in my denominational organization.  My silence will do nothing.
But in the silence, I will pray. And I will listen.  With my muteness, I will teach my children that no voice should be quieted because of gender or ethnicity, that God created every single person as worthy and equal.  I will stand in silent solidarity with daughters of the King of Kings who wonder if they are ever heard; women outside the faith who have never known their worth to the Creator of the Universe.             

I will be quiet, be still, remain mute, in anticipation of the day when the restoration of creation is realized; and every person who has so chosen, may lift his or her voice to worship the Savior of humanity.    

[1] Though, our parent organization does not recognize women’s leadership, nor will it permit them to hold the title “elder.”
[2] Granted, though these are technically “allowed” me, there are scriptural parameters about when/how any believer should speak in services; and one must exhibit the maturity of self-control delineated therein for the benefit of the body and those outside the faith who have come to hear the word of God.  1 Cor 14:26-40
[4] Mark Driscoll, Church Leadership: Explaining the Roles of Jesus, Elders, Deacons, and Members at Mars Hill, Mars Hill Theology Series (Seattle, WA: Mars Hill Church, 2004).   Go here for an extended quote.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Joy, unexpectedly

I’m on a spur-of-the-moment, utterly unplanned, mini-vacay.  The kids squealed with delight when I told them to pack their bags.  They swam in the hotel pool, gorged themselves on “free” cable and junk food, and are now tossing about in the way one does when the bed isn’t familiar and there’s too much novelty for quiet slumber.  Naturally, we plan to get up, hit the complimentary breakfast, and head right back to the pool until checkout. 

Did I mention that we’re less than 12 miles from my house? 
I came home on Friday to a waterfall from my kitchen and living room ceilings, and the brand-new wood floor under standing water.  Oh, it’s also my husband’s weekend away.  Not exactly what I had envisioned for his absence.  But there it was; and now, here I am. 

I will be the first to admit that I’m no good with emergencies.  Not blood, or breathing, or accidents, or allergic reactions, or broken bones, or head injuries, or even relational ones.  Now I can add: property-related emergencies to that ever growing list.  Quite frankly, The Officer is the emergency handler in our family.  It’s his job.  Literally. 

But he’s not here this weekend.  And that’s the way it is: things go wrong when The Officer is gone.  It grows us both. 

Thus, in the absence of his presence, his strength in my weakness, his way of handling these types of situations, I decided to tackle it in my own way.  I shook off the “you shouldn’t do this” restraints, muted the volume on the responsibility voices in my head, and watched the wadding-pool-in-the-kitchen, drive-all-the-way-to-Wyoming-for-one-night-in-a-yurt, Jenni draw a breath again.  And it felt good. 

I began to recognize her, that girl who insisted on carnival Mondays, bubbles blown in the house, and mud pit revelry as the necessary ingredients for a happy summer.   I felt almost me again. 
So, I was absolutely spontaneous; maybe a little frivolous, perhaps a touch escapist.  I got the hotel room.  Granted, I’ve developed a maturity about my frivolity: I was sensible enough to get a good deal.  I weighed the cost of entertaining and feeding children against the cost of a room.  And since they were equal, I picked a hotel.  Why not?  What will we remember more in twenty years: McDonald's and a movie, or a night at a hotel?  Grandiose memories are more my flavor, anyway.

So in the midst of all this upheaval, I have unearthed me again.  I was afraid I’d lost her to adulthood, lost the ability to play, to do things on a whim, lost the part of Mom that was made entirely of the Jenni who existed before.  And thus had become unable to see the elephant inside the boa constrictor.[1]

It took waterfalls and rivers and puddles, that I might find a bit of me again; unexpectedly.  And for this weekend, I let her roam a bit and test her weakened legs.  In this tremulous wobbling, I have found joy.  I abandoned [for a few hours] my studies and to-do lists and mustn't spend a dime outside of the approved budget mentality.  i splashed about in the pool, lounged in the hot tub.  I ate a slice of chocolate cake.  I sat and watched a cartoon show devoted to "what we're going to do today."    

I can only hope what follows is the X-ray vision of childhood.  And greater reclaimation of who I was designed to be.  Because joy isn't prescribed through maturity; it is experienced in the moments of childlike abandon.  When the hat becomes a snake who has just swallowed an elephant, more than merely pedestrian existance is possible.  Because then we realize that all of creation is our playground.   And joy is found in even the most unexpected of places.    

[1] Antoine De Saint Expury, The Little Prince

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Silent Mondays...Joy Listens

I’m not talking to you anymore. 
At least, not on Mondays, from sun up to sun down.   

Lent snuck up on me this year.  Literally.  I am but 27 minutes from the endings of Shrove Tuesday and have spent about that in prayer or preparation for this season.  For the last few years, I have developed well-thought-out plans to engage in disciplines that will draw my heart to my Beloved’s.  Ways to die to my fettered self and leave tilled soil ready for his transformation to bloom.  But this year, it wasn’t until I was sitting in the school parking lot that I realized that tomorrow (or, rather 23 minutes from now) is Ash Wednesday.  Huh.  Time is a funny thing…
During my hurried reflection, I knew that I wanted to do something different from years past; something that was less me-centered and would focus my heart on the things near to God’s.  I want a mind centered on Him, a heart bent towards His desires, and a life that reflects that to the world. 
So I’ve decided to forgo speaking altogether.
Actually, with 15 minutes to go, here’s what I’m giving up and why.  I’ll write a separate article about each over the weekend, but for now, I just needed to commit to my practice.  And penning a blog was a bit easier (and more ameanable to the Officer) than shaving my head…
1.      On Mondays, I will not speak, will not sing, will not use my voice at all (barring a medical emergency that requires a vocal adult).  I will use this silence to cultivate a posture of listening, first to God and then to my loved ones, and then to a world full of hurting people who need to be heard.  I will still my voice for this season, to keep myself mindful of those who have no voice in their communities, in their homes, in their religions.  That I might pray for those who wonder if even God’s ears are closed to their voices.
2.     Once a week, I will fast.  I will replace one family meal on this day with one composed of only beans or rice or some other food found on the tables of the poor around the world.  I will use the money saved through this discipline to buy food for our local food bank.  We will do this to remember that God provides us with plenty so that we may share it with those who have not.
3.     I will abstain from fast food, to include coffee at that not-so-local java joint, using the money saved through this denial to purchase a farm animal for an impoverished family somewhere else on this blue mote. 
I will blog weekly about my and our family’s experience over this Lenten season.  With only 7 minutes remaining on my computer battery, and 6 until Ash Wednesday, I pray that through these exercises my heart will be  malleable to be further shaped into Christ's likeness; and my spirit filled with the joy that only comes from a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Have a blessed Lent!

Monday, February 20, 2012

For the days, when facing Goliath feels too big

I finally heard it for myself, in a place where I can no more pretend to ignore it.  My stomach coiled, anticipating the trajectory of the answer,
“Can women be elders?” 
The question wasn’t mine, yet it was asked on my behalf.  Though I already knew the answer, had read the official stance on the website, had heard the explanation/justification/rationalization from the lead pastor.
Sitting in the room, a circle of chairs wound ‘round the non-working fireplace to give the feeling of community, I felt the crushing heaviness again.  The kind that pushes down so hard you can’t even lift your head.  There was a line of black electrical tape on the floor in front of me.  In that place, it divided the beige carpet.   The carpet on the left, exactly the same – made in precisely same way, for exactly the same purpose, for the very same room – as the carpet on the right.  Only burdened with the dividing black line much later, by hands other than the builder’s.  A division with a distinct, likely temporary, purpose.  But as those words fell from the mouth of authority, that black line was all I could see. 
“Women who want the title aren’t the kind you want
as spiritual leaders.”[1]

I was recently told that Israel’s King Saul was chosen, in part, because he was literally head-and-shoulders above his countrymen.  His height and strength to be a symbol for them of justice and righteousness; he was to be their hero in battle and their clarion call to worship.  And yet, when Goliath stood in front of the Israelite army, Saul was back in his tent.  Choosing to not fight.  Saul versus Goliath could have been a match for the ages: Israel’s mightiest versus the Philistine’s greatest. Instead, while their heroic leader stuck to his tent and Goliath hurled taunts, the Israelites’ courage faltered.  No one strode out to meet this giant’s challenges.  No one moved.  No one uttered a sound.[2] 
Because scripture is God’s story, I can’t give any why that isn’t implicit in the text (cf. John 3:16).[3]  I can’t say why the Israelites stood by, why Saul cowered in his tent, or even why Goliath was allowed to insult the Israelites at all.  But I can imagine a human why.  A fleshly logic, emotive born, that held each warrior fast to his place.  Why I would have stood there:  Goliath was too big.  Too mighty.  Too imposing to fight.  And the fact that their leader, their national hero, was nowhere to be found could only give further evidence that this was a battle already lost.     
Some days, the days when the banner hangs limp, when wounds are too fresh and spirits too weary, armor too dented and too many friends lay stilled, the days when Goliath’s mocking sounds too much like truth. 
Days when it feels easier to lift wrists readied for shackles than to pick up sword and spear and shield only to press on, forward into a battle that seems already gone.
I get it, this passivity of the Israelites.  On those days, I want to let go, to surrender to powers far greater than I.  I want avoid battles that are too taxing, asking too much of me and my kin.  I want to stand fast in my spot, not stepping one breath out of the line of my brethren.  I stand before Goliath and am too discouraged to muster.

Yet, the things that are most worth doing are the hardest.  And sometimes require standing up, on behalf of those who otherwise cannot.  Not for the sake of division, but rather in the hope and spirit of grace and unity.  Because in the struggle against the way things are now, we might carve out a way things should and will one day be.  A heavenward orientation that was designed in the beginning, restored through the incarnation, and looked for in the age to come.  And even in the face of a persistent and mighty oppressor, with leaders sometimes hiding and heroes silent, hope remains.  Hope remains because I chance to stumble upon encouragement, timely and direct, from others within the body of Christ.  Reminders that not all endorse the silencing of voices within the body.  Reminders that for those weary souls who watch for hope on the horizon, others stand in unity, lending their strength in my weakness.  It was not designed this way.  All was changed with Jesus’ appearance into the time and place of humanity.  And as weighty as this millstone feels, it has been lifted from about my neck. 
Today, on the heels of heavy words all too familiar, I read encouragement from another part of the body.  Today, I recognize that I stand not alone.  And when I am too weakened, by the loop-holes and backwards-progression of placating diversions, others stronger than I will offer their voices because I am muted before Goliath.          
And that, dear ones, is exactly what the Israelites needed.  Before this great foe, they needed someone, stronger in that moment, to stand in the gap.  Someone to rise up on behalf of those too weary, too unsteady, to do it themselves.
So on the days when Goliath seems too mighty, when shackles are preferential to spears, when the battle feels already lost; on those days, I pray that you have encouragement.  I pray that you know the Truth.  I pray that you let Jesus stand in the gap, so hope may point you to a time yet to come,
where equality is realized in the body of Christ, through the blood of Jesus, for the glory of God.
“To the daughters of the Kingdom who still wrestle with the ‘women must be silent’ mindset, and to those who continue to struggle to be heard within the confines of patriarchal traditionalism, I would encourage you:  Find your voice and end the silence!  And when you find it ‘go and say.’  Do not stop speaking of what you have seen and heard. The brethren, the world and heaven itself strain to hear the sound of your testimony that Christ is risen and indeed we are His witnesses.”
From: “Go and Say: The Silencing of Women’s Witness” on The CBE Scroll 2/20/12


[1] See Part 2 of this post for a continuation of this conversation.  And if you're so inclined, check out a similar conversation on the CBE Scroll entitled, "Does the Title 'Pastor' Mean I'm Power-Hungry?"
[2] For the biblical account, see 1 Samuel 17:1-16
[3]John 3:16 ~ for God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Joy, falling, Whispers

Hushed snow, falling with downy weightlessness, a muted touch of what’s missing.  Tender whispers of a voice as familiar as my own.  Some days it is more so.
In the dark, vulnerability is easier.  As if the soft night may swallow up the bruised and worried places.  Perhaps the words will lose their way, slipping by unnoticed.  But they don’t.  Truth is hard to ignore.  The gloaming making strength falter; unsteady and weary, it relents.  Shy utterances come slowly at first; then, tripping over one another to be given space, unearthed from a hidden time, one already past.  Confessions scurry over nervous lips frightened by their frail honesty.  Narratives in the third person, remote and disassociated.  But true, nonetheless.
The telling makes one lighter.  Less afraid, somehow.  Words met with tear-veiled eyes; shrouded because not-knowing is painful.  The I-could-have-been-there strength that was never offered.  Because it was never asked for.  Out of fear; or pride.  Or a heady mix of the two.
But truth of any vintage, brought into the light, fortifies.  Both.  The one too weak to do anything but put one foot in front of the other, day after today-just-breath day.  The one who didn’t know their sheathed strength was so desperately needed; a battle stalking in silent moments, waging unannounced.  The guerilla warfare of souls.   
As flakes settle on quilted beds of powdered fellows, the thrice-strengthened strand of union tumble upon postures more becoming those bent towards worship.  And war.
Royalty remembered.  The King’s familial ties too binding to forget.  Or be forgotten. 
Even in darkness, the King whispers, “I hear you.” 

Crystal upon crystal, a jewel forms.  Beauty in solitary.  But ever more so in collectives.  A covering for all that’s wrong. 
Love, covering a multitude of sins.  A myriad of hurts.  A season of alone-ness, giving way to sun-sparkling, dazzling shimmer.  Light.  And love. 
Hope.  And joy.
All falling, whisper, one upon the other, “together.  For the other.  For the glory of the King.”      


Monday, February 6, 2012

Ambient Joy

I want to see the forest in the trees.
I want to be present, to live in the moment.  To experience every breath of this ebbing time as vast and full and wonderful.

 I want to marvel at the steam, rising from a cup; I want to exclaim as the mountains push closer, silvery white, silken mantle clinging to their crevasses; I want to watch emotion creep so very slowly over my children’s faces, delighting as only children can, in the breath of each passing minute.  I want the weight of the Officer’s hands to be engraved into my skin-memory forever.  I want each new discovery, novel theory, to capsize me and roll me back up, gulping for air, changed and legs-pumping towards the goal.
But how?
How, when the laundry makes even opening the door all but impossible?  When the reading alone requires a dedicated fifty-four hour week?  When the baseboards still need adhesive, the curtains require trimming, the piano needs selling, and the pantry (alright, every closet we own) needs a professional organizer, and food needs fixing, groceries need buying, and spring cleaning needed doing three years ago?  When the little homework and practices consume our evenings and then tiredness devours even simple kindness?  When our family table is a once-a-week place?  When all I want to do is plunge, head-first, into the water and pace the back-and-forth until weightlessness is all I can remember; but I can’t because there isn’t the time.  And even pouring words out faster than my fingers can form them feels too decadent and wasteful. 
How does Joy find its way into this busy-ness?  How does it surround and overtake this hither and yon tempo?   
An exercise I started a few months ago, one that has been of the when-I-remember-to-do-it regularity, crept back into my conscious recently and has kept Joy present in my thoughts.  It only takes a moment, every day; and can even be done in the shower, while cooking, or as I’m drifting off, the book in my hand assaulting my face as I find sleep.   I cannot claim credit for this exercise.  That belongs (so far as I became aware of it) to Mrs. Ann Voskamp at a holy experience.  And while Mrs. Voskamp’s undertaking is a bit grander than mine, I know that even my small attempts plant seeds of Joy in sometimes dry but still fertile soil.  I purpose find at least one thing a day for which I am thankful.  And I offer the Giver, the LORD God, thanks for this gift.  As I can, I go back and record these gifts, to help me remember His goodness and faithfulness; and to renew my spirit in Him.  Thankfulness, even when there appears nothing for which I can offer thanks, is the quickest tonic for joylessness.  My countenance is always lifted, my spirited renewed, and my heart lighter.  I encourage you to visit Mrs. Voskamp’s blog and see if her challenge is right for you right now.  If it’s not try a simple list of one thing a day, scratched out when you can. Find a journal, start a blog, grab a scratch piece of paper and start your own.  Enlist your spouse, create one for your kids, put a weekly family list on the bathroom mirror with dry-erase marker.  
Let Joy surround you, as you find the gifts already encircling you, conveying you to days of bright sun and tender warmth.

Here are my most recent additions:
1.       Redemption, a LOVE that rescues and restores, rebuilds, and reclaims what was always there.
2.       The Officer’s phone calls in the middle of the day.  Just to say, “hi.”
3.       The question that just won’t settle: “then why do you go there?”
4.       The welcome we found at a church we visited.  God’s people, open to receiving one another.
5.       A two months gone Christmas present that sits by the door, reminding me to pray for whom it is intended.
6.       A daughter who wants to butter me up with a pie date.  I can’t wait!
7.       Pink Champagne; because when you love someone that much, her accomplishments feel like mine, too.
8.       Wasted Thursdays.
9.       Praying together, and being filled with the lightness that only comes from oneness.
10.    A video game, 2 minutes of side-by-side time that opens up the rest of our Mom/son date for finding out who the other really is.
11.    The Officer, doing everything he can to make me happy. 
12.    The jump, a little too close to the stream, at the bottom of the sledding hill ~ and the hilarity that followed.
13.   The out-of-the-blue-left-field-never-woulda-thought answer that I know is the result of little girls’ prayers.
14.   Her theology trumps mine.  Always.
15.    He wants to be a missionary.  He knows what that means.
16.    Dreaming.  Together.  Alone.  As a family. 
17.    Un-expected Sabbaths, in deep snow, blankets, hot chocolate, movies, cuddles. 
18.    And getting to do it over again, the very next day.
19.    A note, the very thought making me laugh; hoping my laughter springs out at her over the miles.
20.    The Officer, who can see that I’m buried, and he wants to pull me out again.
21.    A Blind Lab, playing fetch.
22.    Fish tacos, for the first time, with a vibrant, old-new friend.
23.   “I. Am. Praying. For. You.”
24.   Immanuel: evidence that I will never know the trajectory of the story; I can merely await God’s personal, miraculous intervention.
25.    Shoulder-shaking encouragement, of the don’t-you-dare-give-up variety.
26.    Whispering, “you’re the only one I can say this to,” and knowing what follows will not be judged, but the heart behind it searched out.
27.    One person checking, every day.  And letting me know they see. 
28.    “Rock star pajamas” ~ thank You, Father, for their fitting!
29.    Wonders, miracles, small and great, wound in words to remind me who You are.
30.   Karios time, to carpe the chronos pace of many days.
31.   An entire day lost in bumps, jelly-legs, and following my younger brother in his world.
32.   The Officer who offers those days as gifts.
33.   The time-strapped hand that held the book to screen, an ezer to propel studies.
34.   Every morning.  New mercies, every morning.
35.   It’s not in there.  The wide-eyed opening of my spirit to Your truth, not man’s traditions.
36.   Hand-hewn floors.
37.   A face-lift for windows, polka-dot pillows to throw, fresh blowing of color to make things new.
38.   Face-lighting, springing steps of my father to pass family traditions to another generation.  And them not wanting to leave.
39.   Excitement, shy and humble, in my Mother’s voice.  Because writers often are.
40.   Hurts, greatly stricken, acknowledged, then let go because our friendship is too deep.
41.   Chinese strategy with my beloved God-family.
42.   My Dad’s inability to leave dirty dishes sitting in the sink, or the cooler unfilled.
43.   Actually buying the hardwood, and knowing my Mom will make everything just right.
44.   Driving up a snowy mountain road, glowing with love.
45.   Rivers of encouragement from my Mother’s tongue.  And sensible shoes.
46.   A house too-full, bursting with memories, laughter, and love.  Like holidays should.
47.   “I’ll be home for Christmas,” an apropos brotherly anthem.
48.   Watching S’s carved out of powder and hops dared on ice, a Koala and Firefly learning.
49.   Two strips of plastic, waxed, edged, and bound to my feet, letting me fly.
50.    Geeky snowflakes, harbingers of laughter, remaining in spite of summer’s breath.
51.    The most perfect batch of fudge.  Ever.  Because we all made it together.
52.    The words, Spirit launched, that soothe and refract truth into weary hearts.
53.   Advent, a season of remembering to anticipate hope in hopeless times.
54.   Three, scripturally inaccurate but thematically complete, crèches.
55.    The histories behind each bough-dancing bauble
56.    the Pentatonic scale, culturally boundless and neuronically intrinsic
57.    Humility ~ pride’s antithesis, the pathway to joy and peace.
58.    Glitter glue, to make ordinary prose sparkle.
59.    Ornaments from my father’s childhood tree, now twirling at the ends of my branches.
60.    A motley Christmas tree, very un-magazine-ish in its perfection.
61.    A down comforter, weighted warmth for solitary studies.
62.    Flannel sheets.
63.   the Word ~ always available, always training, always alive
If you’re curious, the full list is here. 
Why not today?  Take just a breath, pull thankfulness into your immediate sights, and let yourself be swallowed up by Joy.