It Just ‘Aint Fittin’

Yesterday was November 6th. I was in the car alone driving. Having full control of my radio button-pushing habit, I cruised to 106.9. Let me set the scene. It’s Friday, cloudy and balmy, and about 70 degrees. The sun was fighting to come out. And what to my listening ears should sound? Christmas music, of course.

I’m from Kentucky. Here it’s just as likely to be warm or mild as it could be snowing at Christmas. But I was raised on Irving colaBerlin and George Baily. At least get me past Thanksgiving and into a hint of cooler weather before you blast me with songs about kissing Santa Clause and jingle bells rockin’.

The whole thing was like when Coke attempted to whoo us with clear Coke. It just ain’t fittin’.

Happy Thanksgiving,

KK

 

Memories that stay in our hearts

The first Bible verse I remember having to memorize is Isaiah 9:6 which reads:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NIV)

It was the first year I was in a Christian school (6th grade) and we memorized this verse to be presented at our Christmas program. I don’t remember what songs we sang, but I remember the auditorium, where I was standing and how wonderful it felt to have one verse of God’s word tucked away in my heart. Our class was small and many of the others students had grown up memorizing scripture so this wasn’t new to them. For me it was like opening a treasure box.

Over the years that followed, I memorized many other verses from the Bible; some motivated by grades to be earned and others memorized out of hunger and thirst for the Word. Many I can still quote. But Isaiah’s words were planted in an eager young person’s heart and have never left. These seeds that were planted took root.praying santa

At Christmas, I am reminded of the awesome miracle in Christ’s birth. I am also reminded that his birth was the beginning of a 33 year journey that includes the hardest times any human could imagine and the most glorious moments that only God could ordain; all of which was revealed to me with Isaiah’s words.

Merry Christmas.

KK

The Tuesday Before

I went to the grocery Tuesday (yes, two days before Thanksgiving). My primary purpose was to pick up the fresh turkey gobblewe had ordered. Admittedly, there were a few other items, but nothing major. As I walked in there were people exiting with heaping cart loads of groceries. The store was abuzz with shoppers. There was a hustling energy much like gift shopping on Christmas Eve. It made me wonder if Thanksgiving was a surprise to these shoppers much like Christmas is to those who shop the day before. Or instead of shopping early, they chose to just wait and risk the possibility that the cranberry sauce in a can might be sold out or the pumpkin spice might be gone. Just wondering.

Truly friends we have much to be thankful for in this life. We are rich in friends, family and opportunity. There probably will not be any shortage in the grocery you find yourself in tonight at 10 p.m. (there is always that one key ingredient that was forgotten).

God bless,

KK

 

 

 

 

It’s a holiday thing

It’s the most wonderful time of the year [the song is in your head now, isn’t it]. The mindset most people have around Thanksgiving and Christmas is something we should embrace all year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see people focused on being thankful, giving to those in need and spending time with family. These are activities that we need to put in play throughout the year.

How much different would your day be if you started, perhaps on your way to work, thinking about all the good in your life? You may come up with one thing or 20. Either way, thinking on such positive meaningful aspects of our life can only do one thing, warm our hearts and lift our spirits. I’m not suggesting the Pollyannagobble approach, you may have a delightful ride into work and get there only to find the same personnel issues, budgetary problems, or deadlines not being met. This state of mind isn’t meant to have us living in la-la land. It’s merely a manner by which we will approach our day and all that it holds both positive and negative.

What if those who post daily thankful messages in November do it in May (half way between)?

What if we worried as much about the homeless and hungry when they can’t escape the heat as when they can’t escape the cold?

How would this new mindset change ourselves? Our world?

Think about it.

KK

 

The Thrill of Delivery

Today is October 30, 2014.

My first email this morning was amazing. It was from the Franklin Covey Company informing me that my 2015 planner had been shipped!! [Please note, I will not be running down the street in Steve Martin new-telephone-book-style when it arrives, but I might just do the Snoopy dance in my foyer.] This along with the fact that I have to go to Staples today for some paper clips, ink and envelopes makes me smile. It’s like back to school day for a forty-something year old!! Of course, knowing my new planner is on its way and that it’s the end of the month moved me to examine the current state of the 2014 planner.

snoopy dance

The fourth quarter pages were inserted with the previous months being removed. Then I ventured to review my 2014 goals pages. Not too shabby. Several items checked off while others will move forward into 2015.

This all may sound juvenile to some, but come on, we are all grown up and completely responsible for our commitments to raising a family and bringing home the funds to care for them. We must have those moments in day, week or month that just let us experience child-like excitement.

What stirs your child-like thrill? Don’t have one? Go find one, they can be located on the playgrounds or neighborhoods when the ice cream truck music wafts through the air. Or when the first snowflakes fall and the snow day announcement comes. This high level thrill can also be found when that ONE gift is opened at Christmas or birthday; the thing they never thought would arrive. Or find yourself outside a school on the last day at the last bell. You’ll see the excitement that drifts from our scheduled behavior somewhere in our mid-twenties.

Give it a listen and let me know if you don’t find yourself a little happier in your heart.

 Linus and Lucy piano Peanuts theme song Vince Guaraldi

All the best,

KK

Pretend, Imagination and Other Lies

praying santaAmong young parents there is a growing number who have adopted the “we aren’t going to lie to our children” approach to parenting. This feeling is hovering around the issue of Santa Claus and his friends, the Easter bunny and Tooth Fairy. This mantra makes me wonder about how far this “honesty” goes. There are times when it is not appropriate to tell children the FULL truth. Many times we skirt the question, knowing they are too young for the answer. Where do babies come from?

What made me really think about lying to our kids was that there is no Santa Claus at Christmas and Easter bunny at Easter. Let me say here that I believe that Christmas and Easter were the most important events in human history. Both turned the hope of the world to the Eternal.

Ok, so the Easter bunny is a little odd, but Santa Claus comes from a real story of a priest who made sure that the hungry were fed. He did so out of selflessness and in anonymity; modeling our Savior’s example. I don’t understand why letting a child believe in this saint visit them for a few years is so wrong. And why not mix a little wonder in a time of miracles? Why not let a child know the fun of Christmas while learning the reverence?

If we aren’t going to lie about Santa, Easter bunnies and tooth fairies, then do we take away playing pretend and imaginary friends? There is no tea in that pot, you know. And the cookies taste like nothing because they aren’t really there. Really, you didn’t steal my nose… no imaginary friends; and oh, and Elf on the shelf isn’t really running around the house wreaking havoc. Where do we draw the line between truth and imagination with our children? Where is the light-heartedness and dreaminess of childhood?

Maybe Santa and the Bunny do add something else to Christmas and Easter that needs to be managed with children. Making sure they don’t outshine the birth of Jesus; and certainly being naughty or nice shouldn’t be the threat of the month. But if handled in the proper perspective, they add a little something to the holidays and a child’s innocent heart.

Reality and truth will come along soon enough and shove playing pretend, imagination and fantasy to the background.

Think about it…

KK

Gifting

So it’s December 29th, time for true confessions.  How many of your gifts did you return or exchange?  Did any gift make it to the re-gift closet?  You know the obscure gift that you can’t return because there is no telling where it came from; probably a re-giftJ.

Let’s just establish that re-gifting is perfectly acceptable.  Why waste a perfectly good item just because it’s not useful to you?  You have to be careful though, to re-gift to the original giver of the gift can be disastrous!  Not to mention embarrassing for both.  Here are a few thoughts on re-gifting.  When you place the item in the re-gift closet put a post-it on it with who gave it to you and when.  Additionally, don’t break the seal or “factory” wrapping.  Before re-gifting, be sure to dust it off well and be sure there aren’t remnants of wrapping paper or a card stuck to it.gifts

I did not receive anything that needed returning or exchanging this year.  What is really great is that those who gave me gifts did so based on what they know and love about me.  This to me is the number one rule in choosing a gift – know your recipient.  There is as much excitement in choosing the perfect gift for someone as there is in receiving the perfect gift.  While I don’t mind when someone gives me ideas, it is also a blast to choose something that I know the recipient will love, but may not have thought to ask for it.

Many of us have everything we need.  When we have the opportunity to choose gifts for those we love, why not take a few minutes to really think about the other person.  What could you give them that they would enjoy and might not otherwise buy for themselves?  The gifts I received this year were all very thoughtful; obviously those giving me gifts thought about me and what I would like.

The art of gift giving is one that I think is fading to that which is easy – the gift card.  The gift card is good because you are thinking about the other person, but we have to be careful to not let this be our default.  Take some time.  Make your gift meaningful.

The art of packaging or wrapping gifts went down a slippery slope with the advent of the gift bag.  For some, the gift bag was their salvation and a relief in the pressure of giving a gift.  My mother makes wrapping a gift and the bow on top an art form.  She pulls the color-coordinated ribbon around the package and then ties a big pretty bow on top.  Then she spends a few more minutes making small adjustments to the bow to be sure it’s perfect.  No doubt a beautiful package shows the recipient that love and care was taken not only in choosing the gift but in preparing it for giving.

In full disclosure, I did purchase a couple of gift cards this year because I didn’t plan well and ran out of time.  This just gives me a head start on these two gifts for next year.

Happy gift-giving,

KK

Not so Holy Feeling

The remnants of sand and dirt felt crusty on Mary’s face from the long day’s journey and the ebb and flow of pain and sweat. The hard pain – the overwhelming stench – the crowds.  An hour from town there are tribes setting up camp everywhere.  How many more are crammed into this small town, Bethlehem?  The noise pounding in her head – the pains coming closer and closer. Oh, to just lie down.

Mary waited outside the inn for what seemed an eternity for Joseph to return.  His demeanor screamed as loud as Mary’s pain that he had failed.  There were no rooms.  The best he could provide was the privacy of the innkeeper’s barn.  A gentle touch on the shoulder from Joseph reminded Mary that he had done his best and was sorry it wasn’t better.  He wasn’t in charge of how the events of this night were unfolding.  The final steps to their accommodations were the worst on Mary’s swollen feet.

Joseph slid the barn door open only to gag from the disgusting odor.  Seems the barn was as full as the streets with visitors.  Asking one final thing of Mary, to wait in the fresher air outside while he found some straw and made bedding for her.  She submitted to her betrothed.  He didn’t sign up for this, but he certainly stepped up.

Together they slowly and gingerly walked in out of the cool night.  As he helped Mary lie down, she let out a scream from the pain.  Finally, free to let out the truth and anguish she felt.  The animals rustled and made noises like an out of tune orchestra.  Upon noticing their unexpected human guest, as if they knew who they were hosting, they laid down and became still.  As she settled in and became accustomed to the smells, sights and sounds.  She prayed.  God, we wanted better for your son.

It was a long and unfamiliar night for both Mary and Joseph; Mary too young to know much about birthing a child and Joseph too innocent.  Men didn’t get involved when a baby was coming.  But tonight was not about tradition or decorum – it was about changing the world – it was about hope and eternity colliding with all that humans thought was “normal”.  A new covenant squeezed into this night.

His birth wasn’t pretty.  Jesus joined humanity as a wiggly, slippery baby.  Mary was scared but led by what came instinctive and natural.  Joseph was awkwardly doing his best to provide blankets and a towel to wash the boy who would return the favor someday.

This night didn’t feel very holy, but it was real.  No airs or regal greeting parties for the King of Kings.  His mother felt the pains, his earthly father the helplessness, him the trauma every human baby in history feels during birth.  It was the heavenly Father who felt joy knowing He sent an invitation through Jesus. He knew he would get his son back and when He did, Jesus would bring all of the rest of His children.

The night was finally silent.  Mary could breathe without pain.  Joseph settled in next to his family. Mary-Film-The-Holy-Family For the first time since Genesis the world would be still and rest in the hope of Him who came to love, serve and save.

May every night of your coming days bring stillness, hope and peace in Jesus Christ.

Happy Birthday, Jesus.

KK

Santa Claus – The Man the Legend…

The Legend of St. Nicholas
The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. One of the best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe. Even after the Protestant Reformation, when the veneration of saints began to be discouraged, St. Nicholas maintained a positive reputation, especially in Holland. (ref. http://www.history.com)

Throughout the years and across cultures, St. Nicholas has taken on new looks. After the American Revolution, the term Santa Claus was adopted by Americans from the Dutch. Artists and poets began to paint the picture of a jolly giving man with a red suit.

My favorite image of Santa is the praying Santa. This for me encompasses the truth and the fantasy we find at Christmas. Please praying santaunderstand that the MOST important reason for any celebration at Christmas is the miraculous birth of the Lord; that being made the priority, consider how Santa can fold into this time and celebration.

As stated above, the man of Saint Nicholas was a faithful, giving man who looked out for “the least of these.” He gave up his wealth in caring for others. Sounds like characteristics he modeled from Christ.

As far as allowing our children to believe in the “jolly elf” who comes down the chimney, ask yourself this: in our world there is so much joy-robbing, negative, fast-paced, cynical information and attitudes why not allow our children the magic and fun of Santa Claus coming to bring gifts? We allow our children to have imaginary friends and pretend tea parties; why not allow them to enjoy the fun of Santa? As our children mature they outgrow those wonders of childhood anyway. With the right guidance there will be the appropriate shift from the fantasy of Santa to the forgiveness of Christ.

I do believe in all that Saint Nicholas lived for and the Savior he followed. I have learned to manage the hustle and bustle of this season to make room to remember the wonder of Christ’s birth; to truly take in the profoundness of His birth that set motion a new destiny for eternity.

Think about it,
KK

Ho, Ho, Ho, Who do You Know?

st. nickI’ve been thinking about Santa Claus.  Recently, while talking with friends with younger children I learned a lot about what younger parents are doing and letting their children believe about Santa.  Before I weigh in on the jolly one, I’d like your thoughts on the matter.  What were you told as a child?  How is that the same or different than how you are raising your children?  Your thoughts please, then stay tuned.

All the best,

KK