Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Decorations

All together now..."It's the most wonderful tiiiiiime, of the yeeeeeaaaar..."  If you're reading this, then you've obviously taken a two minute break during the Christmas season.  Good for you!  Not that you've lobbied for the earth's rotation to pause enabling you to read my weekly journal. 

It's so ingrained in our societal DNA to make December the craziest month of our calendar.  There are dozens of holidays, events, and causes vying for our time.  (By the way, if you ever choose to start your own holiday, why not pick May or October?  Do you remember Seinfeld's "Festivus?")

Of course Christmas is the center of my December.  That, too, can hold one of several implications.  Let's narrow it down to Jesus' birth (which of course probably didn't happen on Dec. 25).  There is no greater hope offered to the world than Christ, the Savior, being born.  But we often cloud it with so much other stuff:  presents, parties, aggressive shopping, an increase of junk food, arguing with family members, and moving!

Yes, I said moving.  That has become one of our favorite holiday traditions.  We've done it three times now.  Of course we've moved many other times, but I'm only talking Christmas here.  If you visit our home during December you're likely to find our new holiday decoration of choice - the cardboard box.  And these ain't filled with toys.  Well, last year's toys.  And towels.  And food processors.  And books.  And...well, you get the point.

So a quick tour of our home will reveal a bounty of cardboard boxes stacked in corners, children's closets half empty, and bathrooms with only one bottle of some cleaning-something.  I think I actually washed my hair with shaving cream this morning.  Anyhoo, we are moving again, but this time just a few miles down the road.  We didn't mean for this to happen.  We tried to buy a house months ago.  So it's another Christmas with our kids gawking at the neighbors' lights while we appear unfestive to those who pass by our rental home.  The only "Christmasy" items in the house are the advent calendars.  

So while you attend parties, decorate trees, and sing carols, I'll be painting walls, tearing out carpet, and searching for the box I packed my wallet in (po-tay-to, po-tah-to).  Though you and I will be celebrating in vastly different ways this month, here's to keeping Jesus "the reason for the season!"

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Big Four Oh..Ouch!

Have you seen the Red Robin menu lately? I was taken there today for the b-day lunch of all b-day lunches: a Banzai Burger, bottomless fries, and a diet coke (plus a song from the wait staff thanks to Brenden). I couldn’t help but notice the number “39” at the bottom of the menu. With a closer look it said, “We I.D. under 39 ½.” Wow – I guess I am old now. If I had ordered something other than a Diet Coke I suppose they couldn’t have asked for my ID? All I would have to say was, “I’m 40, therefore you can’t even ASK for my I.D.”

Okay, my brain is hurting thinking about this chicken & egg argument. The point is, I just reached the big 4-0. Ouch! And as we all say, “Life just goes by so fast.” It seems like yesterday I watched my daughters being born, got married, went to college, yada, yada, yada. I don’t feel 40. I don’t think I look 40 – especially with lots of moisturizer and that new Superman t-shirt (thanks, kids). Those of you moaning about gray hair and wrinkles, remember I was the kid you teased in high school for looking like a tall 5th grader.

So we celebrated with an overnight in Portland. Stayed at a nice hotel that had room service. Went for a walk through downtown. Very romantic…except all five of us went. And we didn’t actually order room service. And there was a lot of screaming and crying on the walk by the river. And we were all snoring by 10pm.

But it was very cool anyway. The five of us played, swam, ate, and laughed all weekend. I got lots of good hugs and birthday songs from the kids. I got a few of those, “You’re so special” looks from my wife while wrestling with the children. The middle of the night brought a flood of memories, shoulda-coulda-wouldas, and dreams for the future. I pondered that which I’ve wasted and that which I’ve done well. I prayed for the future and thanked God for the present.

In the sixth book of the Old Testament, Joshua builds a memorial in thanks to God’s work in the lives of Israel. Having just crossed the Jordan River, twelve stones were set down to proclaim that God was and is faithful. This weekend was in some way a monument to God’s work in our life. (And I turned forty, a number that is oft-used in Scripture – okay maybe I’m reaching a bit.) Portland is where I met God in Seminary – a very different God than I had known before. I suppose I should say I learned of a God much more profound than I knew before. For two long years I drank deeply from the well at George Fox. It was special to return on a significant date and reflect on how good God has been to us even in the four years we’ve been gone.

Thank you, God, for 40. Where are your memorials, your altars, your monuments to God’s work in your life?