Springbrook is one of the best places for me to go and let go of anything bothering me. Slow walks or fast jaunts, it is so peaceful here and my heart and mind can rest for a short time. Autumn and Spring are the most beautiful here. (I could hear the turtle singing, “I believe I can fly…”)
Ever since I’ve had a job, Michael W. Smith’s Christmas concert has been a Christmas tradition for me. I missed a couple years due to working on Saturdays, but last year I was able to make it, and convinced my friend Joyce to go with me! Usually I get front row tickets, but this year we were waaaaaaaaaay back in the back. But it was still so much fun and the night did not disappoint! The orchestra and singers were amazing! I always love when one of the ladies sing All Is Well. I’d never seen Amy Grant in concert, so that was neat! It was a fabulous night!
The final three months of 2014 were super busy with work, Janet visiting from Germany, and so many events my head is spinning a bit!
October was pretty much the busiest month of the year. Janet flew in from Germany on the last day of September, and we pretty much were always going somewhere, doing something for the next 18 days! We made the trip to Willmar and Sisseton one weekend, saw Hello Dolly at Chanhassen Dinner Theater with our friends Miriam and Kathy, and the tip-top highlight of the year: seeing Neil Byrne and Ryan Kelly at the Fine Line!
After Janet went home to Germany, things didn’t slow down! We made applesauce, the OCC Regional office moved to the Processing Center, and my church had a women’s retreat!
November was busy with setting up the PC, National Collection Week, Thanksgiving, and the start of volunteers streaming though our doors to start processing 706,000+ shoe boxes to be delivered to kids in Belize, Ecuador, India, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda! I also was privileged to see Celtic Thunder in concert with my friend Kathy.
My OCC office cohorts, taken by Sinouane
December was full-steam ahead with PC time, Warehouse Crud floating around the office, not much snow, moving back to the office, job ending, Christmas and my birthday, making donuts, and then…the end of 2014 came and went silently while I slept.
Twas the week before processing, when all through the warehouse
All the workers were stirring, yes, even a mouse.
The decorations were hung on the trees with great care
Knowing volunteers soon would be there.
The boxes were piled all snug on their pallets,
While visions of blessing kids danced in their heads.
The Collection Door opens, more boxes come in.
Operation Christmas Child makes us all grin.
When out on the driveway there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the entrance I flew on that date,
Turned on the lights and threw open the gate.
The moon on the crest of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature train, driving by with great cheer.
With a little black pickup, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it had to be Rick.
More rapid than eagles his minions they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now Sarah! now, Kelly! now, Eggy and Kandi!
On, Nicole! On, Rick-O! On S’rena and Dara!
To the front of the crowd! to the edge of the stage!
Now sing away! Sing away! Sing away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So into the trailers the cartons they flew,
With boxes full of Toys, and lots of prayer too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard in my ear
The singing and laughing of each volunteer.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the slick walkway Phil came with a bound.
He was dressed in a shoe box from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all colored with red and bright green.
A bundle of boxes he processed with friends,
And he loved taping boxes, the last hand to process them.
Her eyes-how they twinkled! her dimples how merry!
Her cheeks were like roses, her nose like a cherry!
Her droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the fur of her coat was as white as the snow.
The stump of a tree he held tight in his teeth,
And the chocolate encircled his feet like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly!
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And processed the boxes, then turned to the clerk.
And folding his hands and bowing his head,
And giving a nod, a blessing prayer he said!
They were bright red and green, piled high on the shelf,
And I laughed when I saw them, in spite of myself!
They were processed so quickly, and went the world ’round.
I happily knew they were Uganda bound.
He sprang to his truck, to his group gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard them all shout, ‘ere they drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you have a fun, safe, happy time with family and friends. See you next year!
The First Coming
by Madeleine L’Engle
He did not wait until the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time,
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait
till hearts were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
The journey to a Promise of God seems to always take longer than we expect it to. And it probably almost always looks different than we expect. I wonder what was going through the heads of the Wise Men when they found out the Baby King wasn’t born in the palace in Jerusalem, and what they thought when they found out where he was living.
“The journey that had begun so many centuries before had led three Wise Men here. To a little town. To a little house. To a little child. To the King God had promised David all those years before. But this child was a new kind of king. Though he was the Prince of Heaven, he had become poor. Though he was the Mighty God, he had become a helpless baby. This King hadn’t come to be the boss. He had come to be a servant.”
The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:
It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land,
no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.
“This baby would be like that bright star shining in the sky that night. A Light to light up the whole world. Chasing away darkness. And the darker the night got, the brighter the star would shine.” – Sally Lloyd-Jones
“Like it or not, we either add to the darkness of indifference and out-and-out evil which surround us or we light a candle to see by.” – Madeleine L’Engle
“That same night, in amongst the other stars, suddenly a bright new star appeared. Of all the stars in the dark vaulted heavens, this one shone clearer. God put it there when his baby Son was born – to be like a spotlight. Shining on him. Lighting up the darkness. Showing people the way to him.”
In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:
God, you can now release your servant;
release me in peace as you promised.
With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation;
it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:
A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations,
and of glory for your people Israel.
Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother,
This child marks both the failure and
the recovery of many in Israel,
A figure misunderstood and contradicted—
the pain of a sword-thrust through you—
But the rejection will force honesty,
as God reveals who they really are.