Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sheltering in the Silent Night

Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.  ~ Dale Evans Rogers

Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of year. I love the lights, the snow, the songs. More than that, I love the wonder of the birth of our Savior. I love the giving to others.

Eleanor Graf is the youth Sunday school teacher where we attend church. She is a fabulous role model and stresses giving to us as a class. During summer months she takes us to an elderly members home so we can weed her garden, then takes us shopping as a group to buy clothes and necessities for the crisis pregnancy center. At the beginning of the year, we adopted a child from Haiti named Angel. We collected an extra offering each week to send the money needed to support him. 

And of course our favorite thing to do during the Christmas season is going caroling to the older people in the church, including those who used to attend but are now bedridden and unable to make it out. Mrs. Graf bakes all sorts of goodies and boxes them up in a beautiful presentation. Then we get all bundled up and head out into the cold! This year we took sparklers to add to the festivities.

No matter how beautiful, or off-tune the harmonies, our friends loved the fact that we took the time to come visit them. Bro. McIver insisted we come in and play his piano--since it never gets played anymore--and sing some more songs. He wouldn’t let us leave until he passed out candy canes to us. He is such a sweetheart, and Mrs. Graf is already planning a trip back later in the year--to give his piano some use and give him some company. The Wallings are another wonderful couple we visited. Every year she refuses to let us come unless we let her make us hot chocolate. And boy, does she make the best hot chocolate ever!

It is amazing the blessings you will receive when you venture out to bless others.  Mom and I have heard several accounts recently of caroling and the effects of the carolers, and carolees…

Just a couple include…

My cousin, Pam, whose little girl was sick on the night they were supposed to attend a Christmas party. She was surprised and uplifted when several of her friends showed up at her door singing fun Christmas carols!

Mom’s friend Jo Dahler recently wrote, “With seven kids in our family after we got too old to get excited to go to bed early in anticipation for Christmas morning we started all going out really late on Christmas eve and caroling to our neighbors and close friends. It got to where they expected it and waited on us. It was so special singing with high clear sopranos and tenors…harmonizing out on those cold clear starry nights. This year on Thanksgiving day we all took Christmas flowers to Mom’s grave and after placing them we all sang those same songs together by her grave that we had sung with her so many times before.”

So you never know! Your song may be the bright spot in someone’s day. Go make a joyful noise! Go spread the joy. Jesus was born to save the world from sin. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s worth telling the world about.  May your days be merry and bright! Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Give a Date!

Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.  ~Jean Anouilh

Don't you love going on a date with your husband?  At my age it's easy--plan the date and go.  But when you are in the middle of parenting it's a lot harder to find the time, finances or even someone to babysit when you wish for some alone time with your husband. 

I was fortunate when my kids were young.  I had built in baby-sitters with our senior pastor's wife, Janet, who claims my girls as grandchildren and Beth (wife of Associate Minister of Outreach).  There was rarely a time when I needed another babysitter unless it was for an adult church function we were all involved in.  And then I was blessed with a mature teenager, Tracy, who loved the girls and was as trustworthy as they came.

Ivan & Katie 2010
I remember one date RB and I went on.  Our Sarah was born in November, Melanie was three.  On Valentine's Day, Janet offered to watch the kids for RB to take me out.  He took me to Inn of the Four Winds.  Our friend, Ashok, had been to India and brought me back a beautiful red silk dress.  RB and I were talking away, and I was leaning a bit toward the table to hold his hand.  All of a sudden I felt the zipper separate in my dress.  I was never so happy to have a sweater with me than I was that night.  We laughed about it all night and since then, too.

 I see young parents who would benefit from a couple kid-free hours.  This in no way reflective on their love of their children, but romance is essential in a couple's life.  So I was wondering, how many of you could committ to giving a couple a date?

I'm not talking about steak dinner at the top restaurant or an investment of an entire evening.  How about this:  Take a basket, a $10.00 Starbucks card (for drinks and a treat), a CD of love songs and a frame from the dollar store.  Add coupon for two hours of babysitting (or hire a babysitter) and instant date!  The cost?  A basket, $12.00, and 2 hours of your time.  The rewards?  Knowing you made an investment in the marriage of a young couple.  A few minutes of holding hands, locking eyes, and talking about dreams, hopes and anything besides the craziness of life--bringing a dead marriage back to life and a good marriage even better.

I found a Dates for Mates: Romancing the One You Love by Lisa Keyes and Debbie Black while in a discount bookstore for $2.99.  It's full of stories of ways to connect creatively.  There's even a fun idea a wife came up with when a husband was working on his doctorate.  I've tucked that one away and plan to use it sometime during this next year.  This would be a good book to include in the gift basket.

Thank you for sheltering our couples of parenting age.  It's Biblical.  As older woman we are to mentor the younger ones.  What better way to show the importance of romance and dating than with a date-in-a-basket?  Give them time to talk, listen, and yes, laugh together.

 Anyone can be passionate,
but it takes real lovers to be silly. 
 ~Rose Franken