Sunday, December 28, 2014

Favorite Excerpts

My home is emptying. Table leaves are being dropped, chairs folded and stacked in the closet. Holiday festivities are ending, the season winding down.
Soon my mornings will be quiet, the rooms filled with silence save for the room where my single student and I read together.
Here are some verses I love.

I am one hundred years old this Christmas.
How many times my door has opened and shut to those I love,
arms filled with presents.
I have had fires lit in my fireplaces.
I have had eight beds warmed on Christmas Eve.
I know about children.
They never sleep that night.
My stairs know their quiet steps before dawn,
when they creep down to see the tree,
tall and glowing.
My walls know the soft press of fingers as children go up
the stairs to play in the attic.
My walls know the touch of old fingers,
holding on as feet go down.
My attic knows those who are gone
and those who have just come.
My cellar knows coal and heat and dust.
I welcome them all,
I hold them all,
I gather them all in,
and I let them go at the end. -- 
from "The Christmas House" by Ann Turner

I waited at the foot of the stairs, my smile arranged,
my heart beat fast.
Weren't they late?
Were they all right?
No one told me I would always worry,
even though they are long grown.
Now Marion runs down the rug,
her footsteps quick and light, as always.
Henny is taller than I and warm as toast,
and Lucy is golden as a summer afternoon.
The children storm up the stairs to the attic.
The boys hide in the water tank,
and the girls step primly down wearing our old dresses.
I will remember their footsteps like rain.
I will remember their laughter, like sun.
I will hoard it up to take out in the quiet season, 
a feast of family. -- 
from "The Christmas House" by Ann Turner

Sunday, December 21, 2014


I sit in my daughter's room. Singular - as in daughter's not daughters', noteworthy due to the fact that this past year is the first in the history of our being in this home that a room has been occupied by just one daughter.

It is spacious now. Not over-filled. Not crammed. One bed. Two small dressers. Plenty of books, and a full closet, but not crammed.

This large room in times past was a bedroom to six of my children. And at another time to nearly that many young men as well.

Now it is hers alone.

I remember when it housed young daughters, their beds, dressers, and the play kitchen set and table, too. And dolls with beds and their own table and chairs. Full of stuff, full of playing and rollicking.

Then I think about Brietta's girls (my granddaughters), all three sharing a room along with doll houses, doll cradles, and doll beds. Full of stuff, full of life. My daughter is living what I was living just yesterday - at least it seems like just yesterday.

I know, as does she, that the day will come when that room in her home may house only one daughter. Indeed, she will most likely travel a similar road to mine and probably yours.

And one day this large room where I sit tonight will house no one.

Cycles. Life. Around we go. To every thing, turn turn turn, there is a season, turn turn turn. And a time for every purpose under heaven.

Oh, to discover His purpose in each and every season. Oh, to walk faithfully in that purpose. That is my desire. That is His desire.

And tonight I am content - happy even - to know that He will accomplish it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Mother's Christmas In NNY

(In the style of Dylan Thomas)

In morning's semi-conscious state I enter the Corridor leading to December's festive snow-frigid corner of the world as the crystal-crunching, snow-slushing plow rumbles along the avenue, a harbinger of winter whiteness and Christmas. Awakened and aware, faux-fur slippers and fleecy robe are donned hurriedly while scurrying down the stair in the half-light of dawn as moon gives way to the glimmer of the sunrise horizon. Pristine, clean, a new day, a fresh-washed scene.

The final leaf of a pencil-filled record of illustrated months is turned, unveiling December's crown of Christmas celebration, calling for weeks of preparation and joy making.

Old meets new as boxes and bins from darkened attic corners spill forth glistening glass balls, spangled-jangling jingle bells, familiar figures fired and painted by Grandma's own hand. Boughs once borne on billowing pines find purpose in vacant vases and gaping baskets. Greenery-garlands prickle mantle and pane where soon candlelight's glow will warm the descending chill darkness.

In the kitchen, burnished tones of Bing and Buble', Diana and Ella mingle and bake into the nutmeg-cinnamon spiced air. Sentimental sounds of carol singing and duet playing drift in from the front room, accompanying precision stacking of snow-covered rum logs. Tumbled shiny-faced sugar cookies and mounded powdery pecan balls, confections and various delights fill the table, the counters, now readied for assembly on holly-leaved platters to later adorn dessert buffets and family room coffee tables.

Another December ritual soon begins. A brown-colored delivery vehicle, like a treasure-laden camel, pulls to a stop in front of the house. In matching brown-colored garments a delivery person emerges and, tossing boxes on the porch, rings the bell then scurries away quickly (and more and more so as the days and weeks pass) back to the waiting brown cavern. A thrill emanates and reverberates as I, too, now scurry quickly (and more and more so as the days and weeks pass) to the front door where I whisk the packages away lest errant eyes spy a return address label: Barnes and Noble, Old Navy, American Girl Dolls. The time for such revelation has not yet come.
The stash of bags and boxes bulges; clutter consumes and in spite of magnanimous efforts toward order, my room becomes a whirlwind of clandestine activity. Colorful paper scraps and remnants of ribbon curl in the corners. A kaleidoscope of rolled patterns - red and green plaid, blue and gold angels, snowmen and santas, stars and berries - transform the ordinary into magical mystery.
A tree has been gotten. Fresh, pungent scent. Arms of evergreen welcome the pretties we love: lights full of color, ornaments both simple and elegant stored away all year for this special time, and Michael the angel. Nothing quite compares with this best beauty. At last the magical-mystery boxes appear to find places under the tree where they await the moment of revelation. But first they must endure prodding and shaking and pinching.
Music, music, and more music - choral ensembles are dreamed and schemed and rehearsed, piano duets bring daily delight, schmaltzy songs are composed, party-goers encircle the black baby grand and sing, sing, sing! The sounds of Christmas echo long into the dark night, long after all are tucked into bed.
Jesus' birth is proclaimed anew, the gift of God to mankind, His gift of love. This is true love, this is mercy, this is joy and hope and peace - peace with God, peace with one another, peace with oneself.
When weariness attempts to dampen the spirit, when cynicism at celebration gone wrong creeps toward me, I remember, I recall. This all began with Him. His was the great offering, the first and best gift. I will always keep Christmas because He should always be remembered.
As the season ends and boxes are returned to attic corners, as scraps are swept away and cookie platters emptied, I sigh. Another magical occasion is completed, put away for remembering someday, for reaching back and pondering and reminiscing.
For now, in the dark and snow-quieted wonderland of a wintery new year, I rest.

Monday, December 08, 2014


Compassionate Jesus, Savior. Came to buy me back, to pay for my sin. He died for me so that I might live for Him.

Loving Jesus, Healer. Restores my shattered soul. Heals all my diseases.

Mighty Jesus, Deliverer. Releases from the snare of the fowler. Sets the captives free. FREE!

Gentle Jesus, Prince of Peace. Calms the raging sea. Quiets the strife-wrought soul.

Beautiful Jesus, Lover of my soul. Salve for the broken, wounded, sin-sick heart. Unconditionally and freely He loves even me.

Jesus, King of kings. Reigns forever. Empowers His people. Has authority over powers and principalities. He IS over all. He IS "I AM".

This, all of this and so much more, was given to us at Christmas.
And continues to be given to us.
He is available to all who call on His name.

Call today, you who don't know this love and you who do, you who are afar off, you who are near, you who have called before, you who call anew.
His presence, His fullness, all He has can be yours today. Fresh manna from heaven this morning.

Immanuel! Forever with us!