“Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does.”
I Corinthians 14:1 MSG
Category Archives: Random
Today is December 12th. It is not a significant date for me personally, but it does remind me of the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I am sure you all have heard this melody. One of my favorite versions of this song is actually an ice skating performance by Olympic medalist, Scott Hamilton. I was obviously too young to remember watching this on television, but Mom taped to VHS the 1990 Disney’s Christmas on Ice performance that year. We watched it probably every year growing up, as ice skating was a something our family enjoyed…not only watching during the Winter Olympics, but also trying our own talents on the frozen pond out in the field. Let’s just say, I never landed that “Double Triple Axel.” 😉
Pulling out the Christmas DVDs and VHS tapes last week, I found this recording. Exciting! Even better is that captions played too. I was shocked! In watching some of the performances, I got to travelling down memory lane and complied some of my favorite Christmas memories:
12. Caroling: Whether it was with the youth group (the van rides were memories in themselves), my family (we sang at the nursing home), or friends in Denver (we went around the neighborhood, to the fire station, and then sang at the town square by the lighted tree in Arvada)–singing carols and giving baskets of fruit was something I always looked forward to each year.
11. Family ski trips at Wolf Creek: It’s true–
10. Handel’s Messiah: Last December, we attended a performance at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton. It was just the orchestra and the four soloists: a soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and baritone. Beautiful. If you’ve never listened to the entire oratorio, I recommend it.
9. Coming home for Christmas breaks in college and on Christmas Eve (post-grad): The song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” took somewhat a literal meaning.
8. Calling the grandparents: It was really sad when my hearing no longer permitted me to talk to my grandparents at the same time as my family. (I had to call separate using the internet captel.) But that won’t be the case this year!!
7. I am not sure where the tradition started, but after the Christmas Eve service, we drove around town to see Christmas lights, then came home to watch Jim Henson’s Muppet Christmas Carol. When it finished, we sang Christmas carols by the lighted tree.
6. The gingerbread candle family: When I was about 7 or 8, Mom purchased a candle making kit and we made gingerbread candles for Christmas. (You would not believe how many years the gingerbread scent lasted!) Since there were four of us sisters, we each took a different mold structure and when they were set as candles, we painted them. Best part is that Mom still has the candles and sets them out each year.
Guess which one is mine–
5. Christmastime by Michael W. Smith: It was the most anticipated album of the season!
4. Community performance of the Nutcracker held at Adams State College: It took place every other year and was always very well done! The youngest ballerinas in training made the cutest mice…how could the Mouse King be intimidating after being associated with them?
3. Decorating my room with Marcia: Sharing a room meant sharing the fun in decorating for the holiday. When we finished, we liked to fall asleep with the Christmas lights twinkling throughout the room.
2. Dad’s French toast: Christmas brunch! Bonus, we got “cutie”-sized oranges in our stockings.
1. “The Little Drummer Boy,” Whiteheart version: 1993. Pure rock, drums…best ever.
What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions or memories?
Dashing through the snow [Taking a brisk stroll]
In a one-horse open sleigh [Mel’s walker made the day]
O’er the fields we go [Down the street we roll]
Laughing all the way
Bells on bobtail ring [Pushing Basho was exciting]
Making spirits bright [Passing cars saw quite the sight ]
What fun it is to ride and sing [But in doing all these things]
A sleighing song tonight! [It gives me a blog post entry to write!]
Jingle bells, jingle bells, [Come on, Mel! Come on, Mel!]
Jingle all the way. [Work off all you ate on turkey day!]
Oh! what fun it is to ride [Family greatness you cannot hide]
In a one-horse open sleigh. [Is something I would say]
Jingle bells, jingle bells, [Click, click–taking pictures on a cell]
Jingle all the way; [It can turn out to be a deceptive display]
Oh! what fun it is to ride [So notice any strange appearance in Melissa’s stride]
In a one-horse open sleigh. [Rest assured she is okay] 😉
This morning was dark, rainy and grey. And the coffee had coffee grinds at the bottom of the pot. I sat at the table just sort 0f staring out the window. Even two cups of coffee wasn’t helping much in getting me awake, not that it works that instant anyway. Mornings are my favorite time of day: my typical routine usually means getting breakfast, than enjoying coffee with my morning readings. But this morning my mind was just wandering. Then I thought of something funny in terms of my cups of coffee and lack of writing blog posts this week–in a name: Cryin’ Bryan Dern.
I can’t speak for my sisters, but if someone asked me what our favorite pastime was while growing up, I would place listening to Adventures in Odyssey as the number one candidate. In the summers, we could spend hours listening to episodes on cassette tape while coloring or doing crafts; Mom would eventually tell us “One more episode then you need to go outside.” During the school year, we would listen to the episodes at 6pm over the radio. It was always when Mom was cooking dinner; when she used the hand mixer (yes, the old-school kind) it would make the radio have bad static (it already did anyway.) Buzzz…”Mom!!!!!!!” Poor Mom–even if it was an episode we had heard before, the static confusion seemed like a traumatic event and would result in this unanimous outcry.
I had a few favorite episodes, but one that stands out in my mind..that I thought of this morning…is titled, “Top This!” In the episode, there are two story lines: Courtney’s cousin comes to Odyssey to visit for a few weeks. The two cousins, who have a history of competition against each other, embark on an unintentional “race” to see who can make the most money in fundraisers for church youth camp. Losing focus on the real reason for the fundraisers, Mr. Allen helps Courtney learn to not focus on her own winning, but being humble towards her cousin and supporting her when she “wins” just by letting her win.
The second story line involves the outspoken radio host, Cryin’ Bryan Dern. The Odyssey 105 is in need of votes in order to save the station. Bryan Dern sets up this gig in which he takes over the studio and turns the Odyssey 105 into a 24-hour Polka station. As soon as the public hears about Dern “taking the Odyssey 105 station hostage,” the votes begin to pour in–even though it is all fake. It is during this time, Dern has some of the best quotes. And I thought of a few this morning that made me laugh.
Over the course of his 95 hours on the air, Dern gives away countless amounts of Polka cd’s while he starts to get annoyed with the music himself. By the end, with his coffee enthusiasm long gone (in his 25th hour on the air, he already had gone with 30 cups of coffee), Dern goes on to have a moment of silence for a caller’s sick hamster named “Binky;” thinks that Polka music needs something–like, words; and eventually gives up the whole gig altogether when he can no longer think or see straight. I am not as crazy as Dern, but for some odd reason, his question over the air in his final hours– “Whaddaya wanna do?”–somewhat reflected how I felt this week about writing blog posts.
It is not that I’ve had nothing–my week was full of typical tasks that most often I overdid myself. It is as if this “normal routine,” without any doctor appointments or major health slides, has left me with a sense of urgency: to do it all, before anything comes up again. In reality, that attitude will only last me like Bryan Dern’s 95 hours on the air, because there is no foundation if I stand on my own.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” ~Proverbs 19:21 ESV
I recently stumbled across a current documentary on Hulu called, “Behind the Mask.” The series is about team mascots. It follows four guys who come from diverse levels of mascot experience and also their personal lifestyles:
Michael is in high school at Lebanon, PA. Outside academics, he is “Rooty the Cedar Tree.” He uses Rooty to support and bring school spirit for everyone…even the less attended sport events, such as the bowling team.
Jon…nicknamed Jersey–attends the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. He got a scholarship to be the school’s mascot, “Hey Reb.” UNLV is a huge deal in Nevada. Hey Reb’s role is to ensure that the college atmosphere at the games is kept alive.
Chad is the mascot for a minor hockey league team. In outfit, he goes by “Tux” (the Penguin.) Chad hopes to work his way into pro-hockey mascoting. Mascots are not allowed to speak (or not supposed to anyway); Chad found a way for Tux to make squeaky noises. When he visits children’s classrooms on his side job, Tux and his squeaks are sometimes appreciated more than they are at the hockey games…it’s cute. 🙂
Finally, there is Kevin. He is Bango, the official team mascot for the NBA Milwaukee Bucks. He does some of the craziest stunt and dunks during half time shows that I have ever seen! He sometimes includes his children for holding signs to get the crowd cheering–these little bucks in costume sure win the crowd. Every mascot has the chance for injury, but personally, I think Kevin has the most chances…but it never stops him from doing the next crazy idea.
Watching this series has been interesting, mostly because I don’t pay attention to cheerleaders or mascots when attending games; I find them more annoying or a distraction rather than a crowd spirit. Proof, it was only last week that I learned “Who Dey” was the mascot for the Cincinnati Bengals. I was tired of seeing this around (what I considered a slogan), and so I used Google to find out the meaning. Yeah, I felt pretty silly. 🙂
At the end of my high school years, a guy from my class started to be our school mascot. Up until that point, we didn’t use one. I mean, after all, we were the “Pirates”–miles from actual bodies of water mass, thus, living in the sea of potato and barley fields. I always got a laugh out of that aspect. Regardless, I am not sure if our mascot officially livened our school spirit at sport events, but think he did a great job helping the crowd get into the cheers when otherwise we just sat there (yes, guilty.)
In college, we were Cougars. Being a small university, the biggest events were women and men’s basketball games. I attended both, because I had a roommate on the women’s team; everyone attends the guy’s games. The only time I saw our mascot was at the basketball games, in which the biggest stunt performed was running half way across the court, and then sliding over the other half. It was a funny sight to see–I have pictures. I never played anything more than intramural football, but I loved the sport events. My freshman year, I had roommates who played for the women’s soccer team and my sophomore year, I had roommates who played for the volleyball team; my junior year, my direct roommate was on the ladies tennis team. I tried to attended as many of their games as well–even if I felt like I was cheering alone. I was like a “mascot” for our room every year–the only non-athletic one, but I could cheer and take pictures which I enjoyed!
In the mornings, I often read a few Psalms. I find them encouraging and a great reminder to start my day with praise even when I don’t have the energy or mind-set. They are not a “mascot;” God surely doesn’t need those, nor cheerleaders. But the psalmist often write that they will proclaim God’s name, steadfast love, and goodness in or to the assembly. They never wore a mask, but sometimes their meditation was all night long…in solitude and remembrance. At other times, they were not quiet about their love for the Lord. They didn’t just say it–they shouted it, made music and even in their times of mourning…they made known that God was their strength and salvation.
I find when I am around other individuals who live in this way–proclaiming God’s faithfulness, steadfast love and goodness both through the good and bad times–whether in speech or just living their lives in testimony of it, that it becomes a contagious attitude. It reminds me to keep my focus on doing the same.
This weekend was Homecoming Weekend for the university in town. Although it meant nothing to me (besides a fun parade and getting pumpkin chai with my sister afterwards), there were many class reunions during the weekend where the alumni had returned to their Alma Mater to celebrate their years of attendance and also seeing the vision of the school continue through the current students. This year was also special as it was the coronation of the new university President.
Homecoming is coming home. Ok, so maybe college is not home…nor your high school, but when you are saying “homecoming,” it is the welcoming back notion. I have to admit though, when I was in college, my term for “coming home” literally meant calling Mom and saying, “I am coming home.” Home. My mind has been thinking about this word…I think I started when we took a little weekend road trip to Toledo.
After my mom remarried, we moved to Toledo. I was about a year and a half old or so. We moved to Colorado a few months after I turned six years old; my first memories of a “home” were from there. As we visited a few weeks ago, I realized that all my memories of Toledo were of places, such as the tunnel you walked through under the main road to get to the zoo; the Bob Evans we passed to get to our house; the house itself (I can still see the inside); the church we attended (but when we actually attended church I noted how much smaller the sanctuary was compared to my five-year old mind); MacQueens Produce Farm and a really awesome ice cream place by car lot (which I finally got the name: Jan’s.) I remember things like my classroom at school, getting red tokens for lunch when you wanted pizza, learning the alphabet, and being Mother Goose in the end of the school year play. I remember singing a Honey Tree song for church and playing in the turtle sandbox or eating orange pushups. But what I don’t place is people’s faces. I only remember them through pictures.
All that changed in Colorado. We moved in the summer, meaning I started a brand new school that Fall. The kids in my class were the peers I attended the rest of my school years with, graduating together and continuing to keep in touch here and there (thank you Facebook.) Home was no longer just things or places…it involved people from town, school and church. Home, physically, was the house…a place where I could be myself, protected from the world. In the bigger picture, Colorado was home. I still consider it home. It is my Alma Mater.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe God moved me here for a purpose…especially in the area concerning my health. I now have friends, live closer to my extended family, a “home” church I have attended since the move and many open doors for my paintings. So why doesn’t it feel like home? Time may play a part in it: we lived in Colorado for almost twenty years (seventeen to be exact). Whatever the cause, I think it fits into the season of the soul..this current road I travel, with thankfulness.
Home brings thoughts of heaven. As my body continues to decline, [yet I am still becoming all that God has planned for me in this life] there are times when I do honestly question God in aspect, “I don’t know how much more of this I can handle.” Maybe I am using thoughts of heaven as an easy way out of this worldly suffering. Heaven is joy…and I look forward to that Homecoming. There will be nothing like it in comparison. But here, in the now, I should not be praying centered around myself, but God. It is only then that this temporary home (my body) will find strength in thanksgiving, even in the suffering:
Man-centered prayers tend to ask, “How can God help me with my problems?” while God-centered prayers consider, “What is God doing in this? How can I join in God’s purposes here?” This changes not only what we pray for, but also the way we pray.
Tim Challies. “Persevere in Prayer.”
I love this time of year. Over time, trees start turning their shades of orange, reds and yellows; the flavors pumpkin and apple spice fill the menus; the harvest of corn and soy beans continues to dry out, looking more like thick winter wheat; and farmer’s markets are filled with a variety of fresh squash, apples, different colored mums, cider, delicious goodies and canned products. It is only the end of September, but it feels like Thanksgiving Day could be tomorrow.
And why couldn’t it be? Thanksgiving Day shouldn’t be just one day for football, family and fancy feasts. Pure thanksgiving should flow through everything…like a next breath.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~1 Thessalonians 5:18
These past few weeks, I have been trying to live in a full life of gratitude–replacing the focus off feeling guilty of being a burden to how I can bless those who bless me. I also have been trying to find thankfulness in my physical body. Let me tell you something, there are epic fail moments: Like this morning, frustrated at my hands I blurt out, “Ugh! Stupid hands!” Not a very thankful tone. And yet there are moments when I have an “awakening” thought…such as, “I can’t drive at the moment, but I am told by my MRI scans that I should not even be walking.” Perspective.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. ~Hebrews 12:28-29
I write on my posts about blessings; I talk about gratitude. And I am thankful…but I have been convicted in my heart about being prayerfully thankful–praying in thankfulness for needs met; the needs not met; the needs that God wants me to be fulfilling; the needs of family, friends and strangers; the need to show God’s love, mercy and grace; my need of a Savior.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ~Philippians 4:6
Prayer, thanksgiving, humbleness, pure of heart, compassion, confession, serving…like the Autumn, it brings in a bountiful harvest of new beginnings. As the season begins, I hope it continues until the last leaf has fallen and the first of Winter appears. “This fall, celebrate the goodness of God, and may the Lord give you gladness of heart.” ~Dr. David Jeremiah
Favorite farmer’s market in Toledo.
And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and was to come
You are autumn
~Nicole Nordeman, “Every Season”