Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

My favorite part about Christmas?
Besides baby Jesus being born?
Is the stationary.
I love papers and cards and envelopes and the artwork and the chance to connect with friends via postage stamp.

The other day I was part of a conversation with a few professional women and it was surprising to me what they said they'd like to do (for a job) if they left their current position.
Get this....
One of them wanted to clean houses.
One of them wanted to refinish old furniture.
One of them wanted to work retail.

I think I'd like to be involved in the greeting card industry.
Or be part of a graphics design firm. A small lowly part. I simply like being in creative environments.

So, that's why, of all the things a person like myself needs to purchase this time of year, I most look forward to choosing Christmas cards. I shop for clothes in one store only. And I give myself about 20 minutes every 3 months to do so.

But Christmas cards? I hit at least half a dozen stores and look at every single box. Hours. I spend hours every November buying Christmas cards.

And tonight, I sat down to add my greetings.

Know what I should have bought?
A good pen.
Because a not-good pen ruins all the fun.

I'll test drive pens tomorrow. I'll let you know how I do.

Three things I'm thankful for:
1. I'm still reading that Scouting the Divine Book (yes, it's taking me forever. We had some unexpected issues happen around here and you need to give me a break already. Oh. You weren't judging me? I overreacted? Get over myself?) and whilst at Grouse yesterday, I read this part:

She (Margaret Feinberg) is on a farm, asking the farmer about wheat and tare. Can I say something here? She writes an awful lot like Donald Miller - the Blue Like Jazz guy. Like, they both write out conversations they had with people, including, what they think, are funny comments they made during the conversation THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE POINT. For example, Margaret, still on the farm, suggests she and her husband help the farmer's sister and her twenty-something year old son with the tomato canning in a coy way, "I bet Joe would love to can tomatoes for the loving mom who worked so hard to support him, nurture him, and care for him all these years," I said with a twinkle in my eyes.

What? Who writes about twinkles in their own eyes?

And then, a little later, she writes, "I call skinning the tomatoes," I yelled like a teenager calling shotgun.

Or, as she's asking Joe questions about farming, she writes, "How'd you get so smart?" I said with a razzing tone.

When she gets around to making a point, it's worthwhile. Thought-worthy. Underlinable. But in between those zingers, I can't say I'm keen to read about all her twinkling, yelling and razzing.

So, all of that to say, you are very lucky. I'm slogging through the, the, the whatever it is that irks me about the book, in order to share the gems I find deep in the mine.

Here's the one I'm thankful for finding:
Joe (the twenty something year old who is so smart and got conned into canning tomatoes because of Margarets twinkling eyes) says:

"If you're just walking through a field and looking at the wheat, then you take for granted that all of it is good. It looks good. But if you pluck a shaft of wheat and roll it in your fingers, you'll find that some shafts have good seed, while others have nothing at all. They're empty husks. You can't tell in the fields.... You have to grab, squeeze and crush it to find out whether it's real or not. I think that's true of the spiritual life. Some people can look really good on the outside, but when it comes to the pressures of life and getting crushed, that's when the fruit really shows."

I'm in the midst of a season of pressing, crushing, and plucking.
And some days it's overwhelming.

When I read that paragraph, I recognized myself. It is a timely reminder that I do not want to be like an empty wheat husk as I get rolled through circumstance's fingers. When I get squeezed, those fruits of the Spirit (love, faith, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and the partridge from the pear tree) better ooze out of me.

I am thankful for books that challenge, encourage and strengthen me.

2. I am thankful for "Holy Echoes". Err. Ok. They're actually called "Sacred Echoes" and hmmmpf, Margaret Feinberg is the author of that term too. I heard her talk about them at Creationfest last summer, and then Carolyn wrote about it here.

So, the Holy echo I heard?
A friend was talking about the death of a close family member, who passed away without ever accepting Jesus as their Savior. She had prayed for years about this, and believed (as far as I could tell) that God would woo her dad in such an irresistible way, that he, like she did, many years ago, would be overcome by His love have no choice but to respond. But that never happened. And she totally accepted it, with no bitterness or anger or sadness, saying, "But we know that God is good. We KNOW it."

Know what? Until she said that, I wasn't thinking He was so good. I've got alot of questions I need to ask Him, and if I could take a list with me to heaven, I'd have started it by now. But her comment, "God is good", amazed me. It is such a simple statement. And if you accept it as truth, it simplifies things, doesn't it? I don't need to analyze, or justify or figure out His motives or reasons. He is good. And that's all I need to know.

That was on Friday.
On Saturday I went to church. And there, in the middle of the sermon that I was having trouble staying attentive for, these words came up on the screen, "There are two things you need to know about God. 1. God is big. (I think that's what it said. I can't remember. But the next statement I totally remember, because it was a Holy echo:) and 2. God is good."

And then on Sunday I heard/read it again. For the life of me I cannot recall the details (but in all probability, I read it on someone's blog.) I did so. I remember saying to myself, "THREE. That's the third time I've heard, "God is good."

This might not be a big deal with you. For you, you're thinking, "Duh. 'course He's good. What's the big deal? Just lookit all the blessings... lookit the mountains.... lookit that awesome moon that takes up the whole sky some nights... can't you feel the love?

Know what? Sometimes I just don't feel the love. Actually, alot of times I don't. Sometimes, His goodness just doesn't even occur to me. Sometimes, I don't feel His goodness. And right now, in this season of new babies and heralding angels and wise guys with expensive gifts, I have to set aside my feelings (or lack thereof) and trust my brain. And just KNOW that He is good.

It's who He is.
The things He does are good.
And His goodness doesn't allow Him to be mean, inconsiderate, unkind or negligent. When He doesn't answer prayer the way we think He should, it doesn't mean He's ignored us. Or that He's tired of us. Or fed up. He's good.
Good with a capital G. He's Good - like a noun. In the dictionary, there should be a picture of God as the definition of good.

Anyway. I am thankful for Holy Echoes. They make me feel special. They make me feel like God is making a huge effort to communicate with me. And in this case, His Holy echo to me is reminding me that He has heard my prayers. And He is good. He'll look after it.

3. I am thankful for my sister. Jule? I love you. God is good.



Anonymous said...

Excellent posting, Jane
:) September

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and if I could have a job that I think would be fun/interesting but not necessarily pay super well, I would either be a sous chef or a cashier at Safeway.

ramblin'andie said...

September...that dream job at Safeway might not be so easy to attain. I`ve tried every grocery store in Langley & Cloverdale. Either I`m not the super catch I thought I was, or those grocery jobs are pretty sought after.