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The Bible Tells Me

I’m not the Bible scholar I should be. I know some verses; not as many as I ought. Still, I find most of my experiences can be framed or underscored, explained or illuminated, by Scripture. Or maybe a hymn or a worship song, a devotional or a testimony. Frequently, I have those “Oh, yeah” moments when I see God clearly in an event. Or realized that I should have seen Him.

These are the moments of “The Bible tells me.”

These essays reflect that. Do know that I can proof-text as well as anyone. I have a concordance, and I know how to use it. Well, truthfully, I do all of that online now, where I can quickly find a passage, see it in many versions, and choose the one I like best. I try not to be narrow, but instead broad, as I apply Bible words to my experiences. I know that your interpretations and understanding may be different than mine. But I also know that our God is big enough for all of us.

I have a friend who, in her prayer time, likes to tell jokes to God. “I know He knows the punch line,” she says. “But I tell them anyway. He likes it when I laugh.”

He likes it when I laugh. I’m going to hang on to that. It’s Biblical. The Bible tells me.

Our mouths were filled with laughter then,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord had done great things for us;
we were joyful.

Psalm 126: 2,3 (HCSB)


Why Is EVERYTHING So Much HARDER Than It SHOULD Be?!?!?

In our previous house, the fridge was several feet away from the stove and sink. In this house, the fridge is just an arm’s reach from the sink. As I organized the kitchen when we moved in, I put my kitchen shears, which I use really often, on a metal hook on the side of the fridge. And then I put my nice big strainer up there, too. Not so much because I use it all the time (the way I do the shears). But, it took up more room in a drawer than I liked. Then, I got these verrrrry strong magnet hooks, and stuck them on the side of the fridge to hold the shears and the strainer.

Recently, I’ve had to admit that the strainer had come to the end of its safe usefulness. There were sharp pointy parts at the bottom and things were wearing really thin. So, I threw it away, lest I say to myself at some point, “Oh, it’s not really all that bad. I can strain a few more tortellini.” It was that bad.

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I Had an epiphany

The capitalized, or upper-case, Epiphany, refers to Twelfth Night, or the end of the Christmas season, the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas (the one with the twelve drummers drumming), celebrated in some churches as the festival commemorating the visit of the three kings. The lower-case “epiphany” is defined as “an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure,” used in a sentence like, “One epiphany came when a dozen engineers in northern New Mexico saw a lone, fading Xerox paper carton bobbing in a swamp of old motor oil at the bottom of a pit.” —Michelle Conlin, Business Week, 1 Nov. 1999 (This quote is from dictionary.com. And, I don’t know about you, but I intend to track down that article and find out what that amazing epiphany was**. But that’s not what this post is about.)

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Christmas Yum!

Yeah, I know. Christmas is made of yummy things. Too many yummy things. But those are some of the memorable things of which Christmas (and other holidays) are made. It’s just not Christmas if we don’t have: Mimi’s cornbread dressing/decorated sugar cookies/homemade cranberry sauce/pecan pie/mashed potatoes with peas/pumpkin pie/sweet potato pie/____(add your own family’s favorite here)___. And, to be honest, nobody in our family really loves those vegetable-based pies; but I know some folks do.

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Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree!

 

How lovely are your branches! I love Christmas. I love the lights and the smells and the joy and the wonder and all the other stuff. Like lots and lots of other folks do.

For our first Christmas, we bought a tree at K-Mart. A tree in a box. There was a looming dock strike, and the most talked-about threat was not loss of jobs, not disaster for small businesses. It was, “There won’t be any Christmas trees!” Apparently, fresh evergreen trees are shipped to the Hawaiian Islands for Christmas. And we, not knowing anything different, went to K-Mart for a tree. It was one of those “bottle-brush” artificial trees. We had some ornaments that people in the apartment across from us had left behind when they moved. We’d been to a nice department store and, as we got to the top of the escalator, we smelled the smell of Christmas. We bought the aerosol spray. And we were all set.

The only thing we didn’t have was a tree-top ornament.

Our first non-artificial tree. A little scrawny, but it really did fill up the space better than the barely six-foot artificial one.

Our first non-artificial tree. A little scrawny, but it really did fill up the space better than the barely six-foot artificial one.

We used that tree for several years, then we bought a house and it had 10 foot ceilings. The old tree seemed too short for the new space.

David had been doing work for some folks, out in the country. He’d seen a tree he thought would work for us, and it needed to be cut down anyway. It was great. It made the house smell like Christmas. And instead of the miniature lights that were required, at the time, for artificial trees, we used the large, real Christmas lights that I knew from my childhood. (They were the handed-down lights from Mother and Daddy, so they may have been the lights of my childhood!)

A couple of years later, some friends bought some land out in the country and needed to do some clearing. They offered their place for tree-cutting for Christmas trees. And we went. But, here in Central Texas, the kinds of “evergreen” trees we have growing locally are Cedar Junipers. Yes, they are evergreen. Yes, they smell like Christmas. But they are rather ball-shaped, as opposed to the usual pyramid/cone type of tree that one gets at the tree lot. And, an enormous problem with going out to the country to cut a tree that’s growing out under God’s big, blue sky, is that they don’t look all that big, out there, in the wild.

We had those kinds of trees, for years. Big, full balls of Christmas trees that filled about a third of the dining room. They held several strings of lights and lots and lots of ornaments. But: 1) they do not really have “tops.” They’re a big ball. And 2) they banged right up against the ceiling. David put a big hook (like you would use for a swag light or a hanging plant) into the ceiling and tied the tree to it each year.

So, no tree-top ornament. For years.

 

I resisted the idea of an artificial tree for a long time, mainly because I still wanted those big-bulbed tree lights (you know, the ones from my childhood). A few years ago, I saw an artificial tree at Lowe’s. It had small lights AND big lights!! It cost about a hundred dollars, and I thought that was too much and didn’t get it. And I was instantly sorry. It would be less than the cost of ten trees over ten years time. I went back to Lowe’s and it was gone. I told JoAnne about my poor decision, after I’d been to HEB and gotten a fresh (sort of fresh) tree. She called me a few days later, after her family had gone to Tyler to visit Jim’s mom. “I’m standing in the Lowe’s here, and I think I see the tree you wanted. Do you want me to get it?” Oh, yes, I did want her to get it. It stood, in its box in the garage, for the whole next year, when JoAnne and Natalie were back, and we put it together, and plugged it in. Ta-Dah. An artificial tree with the lights of my childhood.

This year, both sons, both daughters-in-law, and the grandson were with us for Thanksgiving. On Friday, we got that great tree out of its box and worked together putting it up, plugging it in, and decorating. They brought in all the Christmas boxes from the garage, and opened them up to put out other decorations. Jeremy pulled a box from the large can that held the Christmas stockings and asked “What’s this?”

“It’s the tree-top ornament that belonged to my grandparents,” I said.

“Let’s use it,” he said.

“I don’t think it will work,” I said. The opening at the bottom is narrow, and the artificial tree, while not the stiff bottle-brushed tree of our early years still has a rather, um, bristley upright center.

“I’ll try,” he said.

“No, don’t,” I fretted. “It’s very old, and I don’t want it to break.”

“It’ll be all right,” he insisted. And he gently pushed it onto the top of the tree.

 

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Psalm 98:4 (King James Version)

Isaac Watts wrote the the words to “Joy to the World,” based on the second half of Psalm 98. It wasn’t meant to be a Christmas carol. But, aren’t we glad that it turned out that way. Our Christmas traditions, celebrations, and joy are gifts we receive and gifts we give others. Glad tidings to you and yours.

Goodbye, Old Paint*

That first Buick

That first Buick

The next one looked very much like this (at least as I remember it).

The next one looked very much like this (at least as I remember it).

My parents’ first car was a Buick. There was a brother-in-law who had a Buick dealership in Hillsboro, and maybe he made them a good deal. However it happened, Daddy forevermore drove Buicks. (Well, there were a couple of Volkswagen bugs that we had when JoAnne and I were teenagers and needed to drive ourselves around. Otherwise, Buick after Buick after Buick.)

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