Goodbye 2014

oWell, it’s finally come – the end of 2014.

December 31 slipped in faster than I’d hoped.

Too much living crammed into too few hours, and not enough time spent on making hopes and dreams come true.

That’s one mistake made in 2014.  I won’t broach the others.  No need. The list would be long and I’d prefer to invest my time elsewhere.

As I glance back over the past 12 months, I see success far more than I see failure, happiness more than tears, health and not illness.  2014 was a good year – a year that will launch me into 2015 upright and eager.

Things remaining on my 2014 To Do List will not roll automatically onto or into 2015. Perhaps there was a reason they were unfulfilled – a reason that needs to be explored and not ignored.

2014 will soon be little more than a bundle of memories, tangible and intangible, captured in words and pictures, thoughts and things.

2015 will see a more narrow focus – that of leaning hard into what’s important.

Funny thing is – what’s important to me probably won’t be to anyone else.


Happy New Year!  Ready or not, here it comes!


15 Days Til Christmas

I checked the calendar, then checked again.

I counted twice.

1) 10th

2) 11th

3) 12th

4) 13th

5) 14th

6) 15th

7) 16th

8) 17th

9) 18th

10) 19th

11) 20th

12) 21st

13) 22nd

14) 23rd

15) 24th

Make that 3 times….

There are 15 days til Christmas, not counting today.

Today is here.  (No need to count it.)  Christmas is…Christmas! (No need to count it.)

I’ve 15 days….

My tree is not up.  My house is not clean. The gifts are not bought. Christmas cards are not sent.

I sing the carols.  And, I attend the parties.

But, my heart is not in it.  My mind doesn’t celebrate.  It’s a burden and a hassle – an intrusion…interruption…imposition….

Don’t get me wrong.  I know the Reason for the season.  It’s all about giving (I mean getting) and doing good to others (I mean getting all the good I can) and celebrating the KING of Creation (I mean the king of commerce) and family, food and fun (meaning self).

Lest you label me Grinch, let me explain my dilemma.

My neighbor is Kurdish. “It is our culture, you understand,” these are the words expressed to explain the fasts and celebrations experienced as they move through the year.

And, once, only once, three words were added: “It is our culture, you understand, like your Christmas.”

“Like your Christmas” – WHAT?  We celebrate Christmas because it’s who we are culturally?  The calendar rolls toward the end of the year and culture dictates CELEBRATE!?


Truly…what religious significance does Christmas have?

“Christ was born today” is what the song says.  Do I believe that? No. I don’t believe Jesus was born on December 25 any more than I believe Rudolph pulls Santa’s sleigh.

Do I think it’s good to celebrate Jesus’ birth? I do think it’s good for Christians to celebrate the coming of the Christ, the Messiah…Jesus.  It’s a celebration of Christianity that should spill over onto those around us.  But, it shouldn’t be a cultural celebration.  And, it shouldn’t be consumer driven.  And…it shouldn’t be in December. That confuses the message of who Jesus is and why Jesus was born (and when).

A cultural, consumer driven holiday – that’s what it’s become here in the US.  Perhaps…just perhaps that’s what it’s always been.

My neighbor created a maelstrom within me – who am I culturally – and who I am religiously (dare I say spiritually?) – that raises the question: What happens when who I am culturally conflicts with what I believe religiously and hold to be true spiritually?

For too long culture and religion have been intertwined where Christianity is concerned. Traditions – whether born in culture or religion decree what we do, when and how.  Some say our culture reflects our religion.  Perhaps that’s true.  As I look around me, I sincerely hope not.

Perhaps it’s time for this Christian to step away from Christmas and take a long hard look at what I do and why I do it.  And, see which (culture or religion) is the driving force behind what I celebrate and how (and why).

We Christians make so much of Christmas. A month of celebrations and a year of planning.  We say we’re celebrating the birthday of King Jesus. But, if that were the case wouldn’t all the $ spent go toward making His kingdom a reality for all?

I’m torn and confused. My culture and traditions are Christian.  My religion is, too. But, spiritually, I feel drawn to abandon all and simply embrace Jesus and the kingdom of God He spoke of.

Culturally, that’s a radical attitude.  Religiously, it’s considered heretical. Spiritually…ah…would that not be freeing?

Black Friday

The Black Friday ad for Walmart appeared on my desk mysteriously in my absence yesterday.

And, since its appearance, it has lain here tempting and touting.

EVENT 1 – 6 p.m. Thursday…while supplies last.

EVENT 2 – 8 p.m. Thursday…while supplies last.

EVENT 3 – 6 a.m. Friday…while supplies last.

1-HOUR GUARANTEE in-store only.

If it’s not claimed by the one who placed it there by turkey time today (1 p.m.) I’ll touch it for the first and only time.  And, then only to toss it into the recycle bin.

Black Friday sales do not move me.  And, Thanksgiving day sales certainly do not.

In fact, they put such a sour taste in my mouth that I truly give credence to the idea of spurning those stores that force their employees to work on Thanksgiving and taking my business to stores that honor the same values I do.

Values like – honesty, fairness, traditions, justice, life, freedom, family, faith….

Perhaps having 3 very important people in my life taken from our Thanksgiving celebration family gathering (because big business money grubbers see only the bottom line and not the souls and families of those who get them there) has put a hitch in my get-along.

And, perhaps I am able to see beyond the “gotta get it” mentality that drives some people. And, I’m certainly not going to allow someone who doesn’t know me or care about me to tell me what I want, need, can’t live without, should spend MY money on in THEIR store.

Open that sale paper?  Not a chance.  There’s nothing in it I want or need.  How do I know if I don’t look?  As I sit here and think…absolutely NOTHING comes to mind that I need or even want.  And, the same is true of what I know about those I love.

And, if you think about it…really think about it, the same is probably true of you as well.

What I want and need cannot be bought in a store.

Family.  Friends.  Faith.

Focus on relationships and forget everything else this holiday season.  Money can’t buy happiness, or family, or friends.

Give thanks for what you have.  It’s more than you think.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Labor Day

I’ve never really understood the purpose of Labor Day.

I thought a visit to the US Department of Labor website would help.  But, the “what it really means section” wasn’t much help.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. (Read more.)

It’s a Federal Holiday and a State Holiday – no mail and no banking, unless you work online and if that’s the case the mail runs 24/7 and the bank is always open. 😉

It’s a three day weekend and here in the US many people take advantage of the opportunity and slip away for a final summer fling.

Maybe that’s the real purpose of it now – an opportunity to say “goodbye” to Summer and shift gears as we transition from the easy going months of fun in the sun to the hard, gritty, cold reality of life as we live it the other 9 months of the year.

Or, maybe it’s a harbinger of what’s to come…Fall Harvest, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Celebration!

An end, or a beginning.  I guess it’s all in the way you look at it.

Either way, for many it’s a day away from the office and an opportunity to catch up on work at home or elsewhere.

I suppose, from the looks of my to-do list, Labor Day is the best name for it!

Family, Fireworks and the Fourth

Today is nearly spent.

Soon fireworks will rumble to a stop and the night will fade to black.  Quiet will settle in during the next two hours as July 4th rolls toward July 5th.

Family tradition is to gather at Mom’s for a cookout on the Fourth.  This fourth was no exception.  Grilled burgers and hotdogs, baked beans and tater salad graced the table.  Watermelon, toasted marshmallows and homemade ice cream served as sweet dessert.

And, as the sun began to set and darkness began to creep in around the edges, fireworks began.  Neighborhood fireworks. Oh, they were grand!

Upon arriving home, we discovered that our neighbors had set up by the side of the road and were busy lighting an amazing assortment of “real” fireworks.  We three (Hubby, Daughter and me) stood in the front yard and watched with our heads tilted way back and with mouths agape.


As I sit and type this belated post, I can hear booms and bangs in the distance as Americans all across the city celebrate freedom.

Let freedom ring!


Red Poppies grow wild along the roadside near my house.  I walk past them daily.  Their large red blossoms are visible a block away.

May is the month Poppies bloom here.

May is also the month of Memorial Day.

Each time I see the red poppies, I remember my dad purchasing an artificial red poppy from roadside sellers on the way to church the Sunday before Memorial Day.

For more information on what inspired the red poppy to be a symbol of Memorial Day, read In Flander’s Field and a brief history on the purpose of red poppies in Memorial Day celebrations.

Happy Mother’s Day – Celebrate!

To all mothers – Happy Mother’s Day!

To all who mother others – Thank you for your sacrifice, your love and devotion, your constant and unwavering care and concern, and for your selfless all inclusive attention to detail while keeping sight of the whole.

For the nurturing, the acceptance, the encouragement, the correction given and the time invested – I thank you as one who was mothered and as one who has mothered and still…..

Once a mother always a mother, or so the saying goes. 😉

A word of Mother’s Day advice to moms – take the time to do something nice for yourself – don’t wait for someone to do something for you.

If they do, whoo hoo!  Good for them – be sure to remember them on their birthday.

If they don’t?

Celebrate yourself.

You’re the one who wanted the little tarts and the one who gave them the ability to become independent (which, by the way, is what mothers are supposed to do) – so celebrate yourself!

You, my dear, deserve it!

Yes!  You do.  Watch this video to see just how much!

World’s Toughest Job

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

He Lives!

Move over Easter baskets, roll over Easter eggs and jelly beans…hey you, chocolate bunny with your ears bitten off, step to the side for a moment….

Today is not about you and your delicious sweetness.

Today is about Him – that guy who died on the cross…the one we commemorated the death and burial of last Friday.


Remember Him?

Well, He’s not dead anymore. He came back to life.  He rose from the dead.  He came out of the grave.

He’s alive!

And, because He lives…I can have life, too.  And, so can you!




Groundhog Day

Apparently February 2 is the day that animals in the Northern Hemisphere awaken from hibernation and stumble out of their dens in a sleep-like state…confused and hungry.

I never cease to be amazed by the way things in nature work together when humans stay out of the way.  Animals…weather…seasons…it all works fine.

Nature even works through problems.  Ground Hog Day is an example.

It must be awful to stagger out of your dark den and into brilliant sunlight.  Shadows can be quite scary, even if they turn out to be your own.

Nature has it all figured out.

When the sun is hidden by clouds, animals leaving their dens won’t see their shadows and won’t be frightened back inside.  And, if they aren’t frightened back into their dens to continue hibernating for 6 more weeks (until mid March), then the weather accommodates them and rolls in warm weather for the remainder of the winter season.

It’s so kind of nature to be so accommodating.

Happy First Day of Spring!

Hey…I can hope, can’t I?  I’m ready to end my hibernation!