“Merry Christmas”

Last night I went to a Christmas Eve service at the church house, and it was one of the best I’ve ever attended. It wasn’t that there was beautiful pomp to embrace. There was no pomp. It was people coming through the doors as themselves and feeling they were meeting friends because they were! Oh, it was a motley crew to be sure, but all the more special because of it. God doesn’t make cookie cutters.

When I was a kid, I had visions of church being like this and especially a place where the brokenhearted could come and know there was peace, joy and love because God was there. I saw it last night in a way that made even my dreams pale.

All of this has me wondering once again what others think about the phrase “Merry Christmas.” Of course it can mean the fun of the holiday, or the kindness that’s often shown in lavish amounts more than the rest of the year, or it’s an amenity. But too often it’s associated with something stilted and dare I say, religious. I heard Richard Armitage say he’s not religious. I’m not either, and I mean that in the sense I rarely feel compelled to observe rituals in my relationship with the Lord. His magnificence is simply there and He’s not going away. Hallelujah! It makes me want to share it and say Merry Christmas everyday!

If you have trouble watching this video from my site, click on the YouTube icon in the lower right corner to watch it on YT.

NOTE: for some reason unknown to me, the singer of this song followed me on Twitter this week. Maybe she’s a Richard Armitage fan. Whatever the case, I chuckled when I saw her twitter come up. Maybe she’ll figure out what a crazy place this is and quit following me (may have already), but I’m glad she’s done it long enough to remind me of the greatest gift I’ve received or ever will.

Newtown, Connecticut

I have nothing eloquent to say about the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. It has left me almost speechless, and frankly, I don’t really want to address it fully in such a frivolous place as this blog. To do so seems dishonorable. But I had to say something to express my extreme sorrow.

Cars Floating Down Wall Street or Timeout for Sandy

If you live in North America and weren’t under a rock somewhere, you knew Hurricane Sandy was coming. It’s now come, and the full brunt of its aftermath has yet to be determined. Surfing the Net is not a good way to get some idea and especially a bad idea if you have two precious considerations smack dab in the middle of the thing. If I had a nickle for the pictures I’ve seen that have put me in panic mode, I could buy a nice dinner. Even the ‘fake but awesome’ pics couldn’t lighten my mood:

A few news entities have taken it on themselves to verify what was real. Check out The Atlantic’s coverage of the real and fake photos from Sandy.

Thankfully, SO and I have just finished Skyping with the ‘considerations.’ They told us about cars floating down Wall Street, that they themselves are fine, are actually in a good part of Manhattan, and do not need to go anywhere today. I hope they stay in that apartment! SO told them he was much more concerned about the freaky things people do in these situations than about the elements. And I heartily agree. But he and I also know that they are too much like us, and it would be completely in character for them to go out and check the scene and see what they can do to help. Argh! Yeah, I think I really did just say argh.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who are in a bad place with this storm, and hopefully, there will be aid coming soon. I will update this post with information about where those who are inclined can help out.

One last thing. Thank you to those of you who live in the NYC area and offered to lend assistance to my girls. You will never know how much that means to me and my husband!

Uncle

I’ve tried to make my presence here as free of my personal trials and tribulations as I can make it (some of my diary entries notwithstanding). But sometimes I just can’t forget what’s going on around me and have fun here. For almost two weeks now I have been grappling with some things that make me glad there is a God; otherwise, I think I really would have gone insane. When I got home from Comic-Con, a family member was suffering from some serious health issues. I wasn’t home a day until I found out there was a murder/suicide of a couple we knew. This is a small community which means things like this always affect our household whether we know the people personally or not. We happened to have known these people, and the wife was our family doctor’s nurse for years and years, so we not only knew her personally but as someone we saw anytime we went to the doctor.

About the time I got used to the shock of this, there was a death of one of our kids’ close friends. A day later we got word on the shooting in Aurora, and yes, we know someone whose relative was injured, and the person we know had kids at Columbine High School when that shooting happened! A couple of days ago we got word that the daughter of some very close friends of ours almost died by going off into a canyon and ending upside down in the river a few miles from our house. It is a miracle she is alive and not permanently injured although she does have some serious injuries. And there is more, but I think you get the idea that I just haven’t been in the mood to talk about Comic-Con.

For all of you who have sent me email or a personal message, thank you. They are all very sweet and mean a great deal to me.

Give me some time and I’ll get back in snark mode, but I just can’t today.

Take care,
Frenz

Is This Normal?

My sane self keeps rearing its ugly head. It’s been in control for almost two weeks now and has prompted me to organize my basement. I always said if I was organizing the basement, I didn’t have enough to do. Actually, it’s more serious than that. With the fires that have been raging around me (some way too close for comfort), it dawned on my slow self that if a fire hit, I needed to be ready.

Not being one bit funny now. I’ve actually been participating in efforts designed to help those who have been devastated by the fires. Some of it is to provide places to stay even a few hours away as I am. And it’s been painful to hear of their loss. I can do no less than help them any way possible.

Perhaps you can help as well — with your finances if not with your time and other resources. Red Cross is always a good choice for helping, but the Salvation Army has been consistently on the ground in this situation, and there are other groups helping. I’ll send along information if you’re interested.

And thank you for anything you can do including your prayers.

Timeout for Colorado

Note for new readers: I occasionally take timeout from the fun to acknowledge something serious occurring.

I live in the glorious state of Colorado. I love it here where my children have grown and where SO and I have made wonderful friends. Today, many of those friends are in some sort of shelter after being evacuated from their homes over the last few days. The evacuation is occurring up and down the I-25 corridor but mostly west of the Colorado Springs area at the moment. 32,000 people have been evacuated.

[photo near Manitou Springs, Colorado]

We are sending help and certainly sending prayers.

And the rest of the state is tense about what new fires may come due to the very dry conditions all over. I live to the west of Colorado Springs, and usually the river here is cresting about this time, and it’s not unusual for it to threaten to overflow its banks. But this year, I can walk in the river with the water up to my knees, and only in a few cases above my knees. The wheat crop here, which is usually significant, doesn’t exist. Farmers are plowing under what they had planted. Ranchers who hay in August are in the middle getting what little crop they have harvested now. I can’t tell you how odd it is to see haying in June. Lawns and decorative foliage are also looking pretty brittle which is certainly of little importance unless it feeds a fire.

Last evening we had a dry storm (clouds threatening rain but only giving lightening). I stood on my front porch and watched the dark clouds do nothing but create fear they would spark a blaze. And the interminable waiting for some relief has created a tension in town that I’ve never experienced even in the worst winter weather. Everyone feels helpless, and yet this is nothing to what our neighbors to the east are experiencing and again, we hope to help. But maybe some of you can help as well. This is all happening so quickly, I only have this info about helping so far. I will keep you posted, and thanks for anything you can do.

Timeout for New Zealand — a year ago

It’s stunning to me the earthquake in New Zealand occurred a year ago today, and I’m embarrassed to admit I probably would have paid little attention to its aftermath if not for Richard Armitage. But what a difference a year makes. Since ‘The Hobbit’ began filming there, I have met some very lovely New Zealanders, and they have made my association with the country personal.

It occurred to me early this morning how much I feel a kinship with the Kiwis, and really all of the people in that part of the world, when I was reading about experiences during the quake.

Famous Cantabrians’ quake experiences

Cullen Smith | Wednesday, February 22, 2012 6:00

Renowned Christchurch children’s author Margaret Mahy, OBE, was on the move in Beckenham when the quake struck.

“I was in a car going down Colombo St. I thought a wheel had come off but the driver, my helper and chauffeur Lisa Anson, said ‘no, it’s an earthquake’.”

The 75-year-old former librarian said they immediately headed back home to Governors Bay via Dyers Pass.

“We were a bit apprehensive. We didn’t know if the road was open or if we could get through. The earthquake was quite jolty.

Read the rest here.

Mark Hadlow’s situation in particular got to me. My father was in a plane crash when I was a kid. When we first got the news, it was fairly grim. The plane had been mangled almost beyond recognition. It was an hour before we knew if Dad was alive, and I will never forget the feeling of terror.

In our case, my father was very bruised yet able to walk away, but I know there were those in Christchurch who were not as fortunate as my family and Mark Hadlow’s. My heart still goes out to them. If I had it my way, there would be no death and destruction, and there would always be joy in the morning. It’s morning a year later, and I continue to pray that those so severely affected are able to continue healing. Knowing what I now do about the personality of the people from Down Under and Slightly to One Side, I’m confident they have it in perspective but still wanted to share my thoughts.

And a message of hope from their countrymen.