Post Christmas Random Ramble


I am so thankful for all of you. Those who drop by Buddy Breathing and stay a while, those who offer something in response to my writing, those who are regulars. This place has become a touchstone for me, somewhere to share my ideas and rants, even the messy stuff off the top of my brain that needs to come out! And knowing you are ‘out there’ makes it all the more worthwhile. So, thanks for listening.

I wish each one of you a Merry Christmas, and for the New Year may you continue to find people in your life with whom you can ‘buddy breathe’… share oxygen… fresh air… with one another. Breath deep!

Sol deo gloria,

Lesley-Anne

Things to remember for next year;

1. Absolutely, positively, (if at all possible), join in the experience of a Christmas Eve Service… VOLUNTEER…sing, usher, act, organize… whatever… just get involved! There’s a feeling of ‘bigger’ that accompanies this… not so much about having my house in order, my gifts wrapped, my cookies baked… more about preparing for others to experience the message of Christmas… Emmanuel, God with us! And if you absolutely, positively, can’t help out, then please… attend a Christmas Eve Service somewhere! Stop, consider, breathe, pray, believe in the miracle of Christmas personally.

2. Get up early… the long day was wonderful. Sure Bob and I were a little tired at first, but nothing a coffee or two with a drop of Baileys can’t help. By afternoon we were able to rest, read, relax and listen to the sounds of our kids chilling. Even the dog was happy to nap on the couch beside us. Yes, as my Dad always said, “The morning is the best time of day.” Mind you, I’m talking 7:30 AM, which probably sounds like sleeping in to those of you with teeny tiny excited kids! There are definitely some advantages to having teens!

3. Buy less. Every year it’s the same feeling… I intentionally try to buy less. I think I’ve put a lid on the excess and then I see all the presents under the tree… worse still, all the wrapping around the living room after we have finished opening up the gifts and I feel… a little nauseous. For those who say set a budget… sure, that’s fine if the bottom line is ‘value’ of what has been purchased… but I’m talking pure amount of ‘stuff’ that now needs to be put away and absorbed into our already abundant life. I mean… come on!

4.Write more Christmas cards. I enjoy writing. I love getting mail. Perhaps others feel the same? Sure I hand delivered some cards this year, but next year I’d like to mail them out early in December, perhaps tuck in a photo or two, and bless others with something they can hold in their hands. Of course email is good, and Facebook is a great way to share a greeting… but, still, the handwritten paper in hand kind of greeting is much more personal… don’t you think?

5. NEVER, EVER, EVER, cancel the caroling party again. No matter the number of folk who can’t make it, no matter if no musical accompaniment is available, no matter how easy it is to just say, “Oh well, we’ll try again next year!” DO NOT DO THIS! Even though I delivered a basket of cookies to the seniors in place of our melodious voices, still I missed sharing a meaningful evening with them. I missed our home being full of friends afterward, playing party games, sharing stories and treats, I missed the stress of ‘managing’ the crowd as we walked around the neighbourhood to sing, and I even missed the angst over whether the coffee would be ready in time, or the food enough for everyone. All of it. Mostly I missed the feeling of contentment and pure joy as we gathered to sing carols like ‘Silent Night‘ and ‘Joy to the World‘, our voices softened by the cold night air, snow gently falling as we gathered at someone’s doorway and met the smiles on their welcoming faces.

6. Let the dog chew the wrapping paper. Emmy was so good. Sure she sniffed every package, and she certainly tried to steal various presents right under our noses, but mostly she was really good. Claire wrapped a bone in paper and let her rip it open. I think Emmy enjoyed the paper as much as the bone! Not that she ‘ate’ it, but the sound it made, and the process of tearing it off the bone… I could almost swear she was smiling! We only put her in her kennel for a short time, but that was simply because we should have taken her for a walk earlier… she was a bit stir crazy by mid afternoon… yikes, earlier than 7:30 AM? Which takes me back to item #2!

7. NEVER STOP reminding myself what this season is really all about. Never stop posting reminders on Facebook, or reading the Christmas Story in Luke, or the prophecies of our Saviour in Isaiah. Never stop reflecting on the miracles found in the story, how the angels came to earth as messengers, how the shepherds found everything ‘exactly’ as they had been told, how a virgin conceived and bore a child… the son of God, how God came… in the form of a teeny tiny baby, to earth, and that’s just the beginning of the story! And most of all, how God IS with us… in each experience of who he is, every tiny little way that he shows himself to us, in creation, in music, in people. How God is here, and in the most intimate way possible, desires to be part of each of our lives.

8.Never stop sharing my story. May my life be an open book to who God is, and what he has done and is doing in my life. May I be bold, honest, transparent, reverent. May my life be filled with opportunities for God’s story to shine through me.

9. In the words, and expressed in the life, of my Uncle Dr. David James Cook, who passed away this Spring at the age of 71,

“LATHER LOVE LAVISHLY”…

on your family, your friends, your neighbours, those you meet every day…

because you never know. Time passes by so quickly, kids grow up, friends move, parents pass away…

Make the most of EVERY moment.

I miss you Uncle Dave. I miss you Art. I miss you Buddy.

Peace.


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Poetry Friday on Christmas Eve


 

 

 

 

 

 

MADE FLESH

After
the bright beam of hot annunciation
fused heaven with dark earth
his searing sharply focused light
went out for a while
eclipsed in amniotic gloom:
his cool immensity of splendor
his universal grace
small-folded in a warm dim
female space–
the Word stern-sentenced
to be nine months dumb–
infinity walled in a womb
until the next enormity–
the Mighty, after submission
to a woman’s pains
helpless on a barn-bare floor
first-tasting bitter death

Now
I in him surrender
to the crush and cry of birth.
Because eternity
was closeted in time
he is my open door
to forever.
From his imprisonment my freedoms grow,
find wings.
Part of his body, I transcend this flesh.
From his sweet silence my mouth sings.
Out of his dark I glow.
My life, as his,
slips through death’s mesh,
time’s bars,
joins hands with heaven,
speaks with stars.

by Luci Shaw

Sunday Soliloquy


 

 

 

 

 

When did Jesus know He wasn’t welcome
When did HE first feel the rejection of men
When did HE know this world
The world HE made
The world HE loved
The world created by the power of HIS word
Was not his home, that he might be alone
Did he know the manger wasn’t fitting for a baby king
Or did you rest, contented baby, where you were for that season
When did HE sense
That he didn’t fit in
That it was so temporary as to be a breath
Or a withering piece of grass
I sometimes get a whiff of that stuff
I know the happy sad feeling of being but not belonging
Longing and living but coming up short
Making a house a home but never really settling
Settling would mean belonging, being one with this world
And I am not that
Peace evades me
Contentment blankets me at times,
but then a deep discontent that longs for more
that’s not at the store
it rises to a roar
More of what I don’t always know
But more belonging
More wanting
More connecting
More knowing
More feeling
More Jesus
More me and yet less me
I am not ‘it’
I am a part of something I can’t even figure out
I have a promise for a hope and a future
I want the future, but instead I have now
Life, packaged one day at a time, that’s it
And the promise
Jesus, Baby Jesus when did you know
When did you feel the sting of not belonging
When did you sense you were different, inspired and despised
What did you do with those feelings, those longings
What did your mama do to soothe and comfort your hurt
What did papa Joseph do to assure and secure you
What can I do with the knowing
What do I do with the wandering happy sadness of being here
And not being there
Where is there, when is there
Bringing me back to the place from where I was taken
Ending exile
Baby Jesus did you feel exile
Did the angels song make the screaming ache of not belonging go away
For a season, for a day
Did the Shepherds admire and the angel choir
Did they make it ok for the day
When did you know that season was over

When did rejection season begin
What did you do with rejection
How did you endure and last and overcome
How did you love the haters, heal the sin stained, feed the greedy hungry mob
How do I? And Why?
This is not my home, I know exile, this is exile
Why no home? Why no belonging?
Why the constant pain of exile, being away?
Longing for Baby Jesus peace
Peace that isn’t for sale in a Walmart flyer
Peace that isn’t cheaper in Bellingham at the mall
Peace that isn’t groovy and disrespectful of the strain and pain of today
Peace, Baby Jesus Peace
When did you know you were the Prince of that Peace?

Written by a poet who wishes to remain anonymous

Sunday Soliloquy


Luke 2:1-20  – from “The Message”


The Birth of Jesus

1-5About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

6-7While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

An Event for Everyone

8-12There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

13-14At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

19-20Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Midweek Random Ramble016


1.  Did you notice the snowflakes here at Buddy Breathing? Wait for them… wait… there they are!  Aren’t they cool? I even managed to upload a photo as a backdrop to the snow… real Canadian Rockie Mountains… for your viewing pleasure. Yes, it’s winter here. For my friends down under, I will be thinking of you basking in sunshine while we are shoveling out again and again. It’s supposed to be a very snowy winter… La Nina and all that!

2.  #1 Son and I joined the choir at Trinity, our home church. This was to some degree ‘Carpe Diem’ inspired, plus being with #1 Son inspired (he graduates from High School this year), plus watching the choir and saying, ‘Boy, I’d love to sing in the Choir’ for 17 years inspired. Getting to participate in the Christmas Eve Services… definitely inspiring!

3. What is it about renovating and decorating that’s so on steroids? Back in the day I have no recollection of my parents upgrading our family home, other than to paint it from time to time. In their home now, they’ve done a few things, like new flooring, painting kitchen cabinets, even adding ‘wallpaper’, but the trend or the mindset or whatever you want to call it these days, is complete do-overs. Anytime around the 10 year mark of being in a home it’s ‘time to upgrade’. And that usually means ripping things out and starting over. I wonder why? I could easily be swept up into this mindset, consider how my tired kitchen could be completely replaced. But is that really a good and honourable and needed use of our dollars… I mean in light of all the other needs around us in our world. Just saying…

4. My Christmas (Holy-Day) Top Ten Favourite Things;

1.  Picking up a special coffee drink, and meeting a good friend at the local garden centre. Admiring all the lavish decor.

2.  Baking my Scottish Grandmother’s shortbread cookie recipe, dipping them partly in chocolate for something extra special. Eating them with family and friends. Baking other family recipes. Eating them. Ignoring calories.

3.  Planning our family Caroling Party. Thinking up party games that we haven’t played yet. Walking around in the darkness and cold, trying to read the words off the song sheets by candle light. Being greeted by surprised neighbours who sometimes join in the singing. Coming back home to warm drinks and conversations.

4.  Adding Irish cream to our Christmas morning coffee. Having a second cup! (Bob and I, not the kids!)

5.  Setting the table for dinner each Sunday night in December, lighting the Advent candles one by one… then lighting the Christ Candle in celebration of his arrival, so many years ago, and his presence with us, today.

6.  Opening Christmas cards from far away places, like Northern Ireland. Considering how good it feels to hold snail mail in your hand.

7.   Staying up late on Christmas Eve with Bob, wrapping gifts in the quiet of the house. Looking out the window for snow. Listening to  Messiah. Putting the gifts under the tree. Standing back in relief and gratitude that we pulled it together again. Anticipating the kids happiness in the morning. Falling into flannel sheet coziness for a long short winter’s nap.

8.  The smell of the tree (yes, real).

9.  Taking out all the decorations the kids have made over the years and hanging them on the family style tree (nope, no designer tree for us!) Trying hard not to cry.

10.  Listening to Handel‘s Messiah over and over again, at high volume, and singing along wherever possible!

Well that’s all for today, folks. I must complete some out of town gift wrapping and packaging and get myself to the Post Office before the morning is over.

Have fun with your own Christmas favourite things, and why not share them here with the rest of us.

Really, what are your Christmas Top Ten Favourite Things??

Sol deo gloria,

Lesley-Anne

Mid-week Random Ramble012


1. This AMAZING photo was taken by my brother Joel Clements. Super talented and highly acclaimed Graphic Designer by day, Joel still finds time to experiment with his camera along the way, inspiring my son Malcolm with his new camera too! His photos are available on istockphoto and privately. BTW, if you have any need for his professional services, or inquiries about his photography, contact him through his company Brainstorm Studio. He won’t disappoint.

2. Tuesday is Abortion Clinic day at the Kelowna General Hospital. How do I know this? Well, it’s hard to miss all the picketers that haunt the sidewalks every Tuesday, carrying signs that say things like, “Adoption, the only moral choice.”

Just so we’re clear, you should know that I fall fully on the side of Pro-Life, but I don’t believe that picketing is the best way to build relationships or effect change.

I wonder what would happen if those well intentioned pro-lifers were to come alongside the women who are facing these life-altering decisions, perhaps volunteering their time at the pregnancy care centre or offering up financial support for young mothers. Rather than parading up and down the sidewalk hurling written insults week after week after week… just saying… I get this sick feeling each Tuesday when I drive by.

My simple take is that the Tuesday behaviour is not loving, and I’m absolutely certain that Jesus wants us to be that way… loving. And yes, he wants us stand for things too, absolutely, in a loving way, somehow making our voices heard without hurting those who we are called to help.

3. Why is it that you can never find the receipts for the items you need to return? I am drowning in receipts and maybe that’s the problem. Maybe if I had an organized way of keeping them, perhaps in alphabetical order by name of store, or even sub-categorized by way of family member most directly involved, then maybe I’d have a chance of finding those receipts for the things that I thought I needed, but didn’t. Thought they’d like it, but they didn’t, thought was the right colour, but wasn’t, or bought on a whim and got buyers remorse sometime later.

4.  Decision making is never, for me anyway, done with 100% knowledge that I’ve chosen rightly. But, it is done with the willingness to bear the consequences of that decision 100%. Like writing about #2… I feel a little jittery there, but it’s how I feel and I’m willing to say it.

5.  We interrupt this ramble for a stocking footed run through the neighbourhood and orchard to find the brown bullet that exploded from our front door when it was left open just a few seconds too long!  With flashlights waving and voices quavering we call for Emmy over and over again. Slight panic in my heart as I imagine Coyote’s circling our suburb (really, they do!), when suddenly, out of the darkness, two glowing orbs coming closer and closer with a jingle jangle of dog tags and… she’s back! And she’s got something fowl in her mouth that smells like death and looks something like… a goose wing! I try not to gag and take her home, bag the bird (wing) and resolve not to share any mouth kisses with Emmy tonight!!!

6. Only 66 shopping days until Christmas. Hoping I can dig into my reserves of energy and find a balanced and healthy outlook for Christmas this year.

This year, I’m certain it will be fun, and not all about buying gifts. This year, I’m certain that it will be about spending time with those I love, making memories around activities like playing board games and romping in the snow. I’m fairly certain it’s not going to be about making a huge dinner and eating too much, or staying up really late on Christmas Eve to wrap the gifts that I didn’t get around to yet, or forgot about entirely. I’m certain nobody else cares about the silly things that seem to weigh on me, like the decor, or the dirty carpets, or the baking, or the Christmas cards ( yes, I still feel guilty about not sending those)

Ah yes, Christmas. Maybe this year I can sing in the choir, have a cookie baking party for my daughter and her friends, handcraft gift tags and… there goes the perspective and balance right out the window with the need to make a lovely wreath of fresh boughs for the front door.

7. Driving in the car several weeks ago, this piece of music took my breath away… the voice, the haunting feeling, the sadness. Altogether lovely…

Until next time, peace and love,

Lesley-Anne