Monday, December 11, 2017

Real Christmas Joys!

Real Christmas Joys
By Beth Brubaker

Santa, sleighs and colors bright,
illuminate the dark of night,
but do not glorify the plight,
of the baby in the shadows.

Oh the glitter- how it shines!
From sparkling gifts and twinkling twine,
distracting us from the Divine-
the toddler in the shadows.

Songs are sung of snowman's tales,
of reindeers' nose and grinchy fails,
but no one hears His love prevails, 
from the child within the shadows.

Fam'lies gather, parties planned,
for feast of food and music grand, 
How can we see the pleading hand,
of the child within the shadows?

Did we forget what god did lose,
He spent His son to pay our dues,
and sent his son as a child imbued,
within a mangers' shadows.

The child when grown to man will give,
His life for us so we may live, 
When we believe and then forgive,
Blessed by the Man in shadows.

The lights, the gifts, lose their array,
inane songs fade when He comes our way,
and we can celebrate the day,
He brought us from the shadows!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

MEH-ry Christmas

I just can't 'Christmas' this year.
It's not a depression thing. It's not a Scrooge thing. It's the simple fact that I just can't physically do the things I love doing this time of year.
And I'm missing it terribly.
I'm usually somewhat ready by now- at least decoration-wise. And I usually have most of my shopping done.
I've not been working for several weeks now, and my odd jobs usually cover the extra costs. We've had years like this before, so I usually get creative and make something for everyone. I'm not remotely recovered enough to do any of my backup plans for gift-giving.
There is nothing like the feeling of giddiness you get when making something for someone else! 
I love real pine trees to decorate. Because we have cats, we usually put the tree on the porch. But my son withdrew from college and is currently a porch resident, so no real tree. We have a little three foot table tree that we decorate with cat-friendly ornaments and put on a side table for Christmas. But no one has time (and I can't lift things yet) to drag it out- at least not yet.
We usually get a Douglas fir- they smell so awesome, and when you rub the needles between your fingers, it smells like tangerines! I love the expression on someone's face when I show someone who has never experienced this. It's really awesome.
This week is usually when I'm in super cookie-baking mode. We have three traditional cookies we make- chocolate chip, sprinkle butter cookies, and monster cookies. Our record is 150 dozen, but I have yet to bake a single one. I miss the home-baked cookie smell, the scented Christmas candles, and the stereo blasting out Christmas music around the entire house. I miss the purposely off-key singing and sporadic funny change in the lyrics when my husband, kids and I are doing a baking day. Especially when Elvis sings 'I'll Be Home For Christmas' and makes the word 'mistletoe' sound so weird, we just HAVE to poke fun at it!
Things have been so chaotic, there isn't even an inkling of Christmas in our house. It feels more like October than December.
I can't lift anything, and I'm not supposed to be moving too much. I've already overdone it too many times that when I do move, I get enough glares that I know better than to move too fast or far. I feel like a tree stump amidst a flurry of bees. So I do what I can, and sit or lay when I must so I don't hurt myself...again.
It so frustrating to want to do stuff and you're not allowed!

I first expressed these feelings in Facebook- I don't normally like to post stuff like this on my blog, but I realize some of you might be feeling the same, and a friend encouraged me to share my thoughts with you. She also shared a blog post that helped me a lot.

Being Still

It's not easy being at rest in the world today. Gadgets and tech in our faces, people constantly bombarding us with needs, and schedules that are filled to the brim with everything but rest and peace. So sometimes God has to step in and remind us to rest and be with Him for a while.

Christmas isn't about all the hullabaloo. Inside I know that. But I still get so caught up in the busyness that I forget why we celebrate Christmas in the first place- to spend time with God. 

We celebrate His son's birth. 
Even most companies close so people can rest and spend time with their families.

So that's what I'm going to do. God gifted me with recovery time, so I'll use it wisely.

I don't need decorations.
I don't even need a tree.
Or presents.

The gift I've been given and supposed to share is time. Something that can't be refunded at the stores.

It's so much more precious that anything in this life we could ever acquire.

So this Christmas season, when no one is here, I'll read, pray, and recover. When they're home, I'll talk, laugh and enjoy my family, friends, and neighbors.

I still miss those traditional things, but now they don't seem as important as they did earlier.

At the beginning of this post, it was a MEH-ry Christmas. But now? It's getting a lot more Merry by the second!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Holiday Recovery

I have a problem that I just can't control.

Those that know me know I love giving to others. I like making things, baking, and the best time of the year for me to do this en masse is during the Christmas holidays. Every year we bake a bazillion cookies (okay, our record is about 150 dozen, not a bazillion, but you get the idea), and other goodies like pies and breads, and we enjoy giving most of them away. My husband even makes this awesome hot fudge for ice cream. 
We blast Christmas songs, singing at the top of our lungs as we move about the kitchen and dining room like a well-buttered machine for at least a week, and when the baking is done, I'm usually the one to create goody baskets for friends, family and other folks that surround us, like teachers, trashmen, and postal workers.

It's a lot of work, but so much fun to see people smile when they get one of our baskets!

This year is different. For many reasons, I can't do the things I normally do for the holidays- and it's driving me crazy!

I'm physically unable to make treats this year. I can't even go shopping! I took one little ride with my husband the other day- I didn't even get out of the van when he went food shopping- and it exhausted me. No shopping by myself, grocery or otherwise, for at least a few more weeks.
Despite the crowds, I love meandering about the stores looking for Christmas gifts. I love the music, the twinkling decorations, and even the cold weather as I shop. I don't fight the crowds- I just allow myself a ton of extra time so the experience is a pleasant one.

But not this year. Bah, humbug!

Note to self- never get major surgery before the holidays!

My husband usually makes and sells pies this time of year for our Christmas fund- but he had to turn down people simply because he's too busy taking care of me and keeping the house in order. He is one tired fella, and all I can do for him is hug him when he sits with me on the couch. Poor guy.

We are hospitality people. We were born to give. And it's irking me that we can't do that this year. It truly breaks my heart! People like us need to give to others, otherwise we're miserable- It's a hospitality thing.

That's why you'll never see conferences for hospitality people, because we'd be too busy trying to help each other run the darn thing; no one would attend the talks! Weird but true.

Let me help me help you! To infinity and beyond. Yep, that's us.

Giving is a big part of out holiday, and when we can't give, I'm just not feeling Christmas-ish. So here I sit, wondering how I can get everyone to do Christmas in January instead. I guess that's the control freak in me, always trying to find a loophole to make it work.

But I have no control. God does. And I know He's using moments like this to grow me. 

Ugh. I don't want to be growing- I want to be shopping, and baking, and wrapping, and, and, and....

Maybe He has a point. That's not really what Christmas is about. But I don't need to tell you that- there are tons of articles online concerning 'The Reason for the Season' each year- you don't need me to preach to the choir. But sometimes I get so lost in the giving that I forget why I'm doing all of it in the first place.

So I'll sit and recover. I'll pray. I'll read my Bible. Maybe chat with a friend or two about God and His will for us this next year. Maybe ask my daughter to make me some Christmas cookies.

But most importantly, do a little growing as I heal. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hystericalectomy- The Aftermath

It's done. I'm now sans uterus and a few other lady parts.

It's only been a few days since surgery, but I'm already feeling a hormonal change for the better. Why? Because my imagination has been taken off the leash and allowed to roam wild and free across the countryside- and boy does it feel good!

But there's also a little weirdness too.

I was watching cat videos yesterday when I'd realized I'd just had the human version of spaying. More than spayed actually, since they not only took my parts, they took a few lymph nodes as well.

I don't know what those lymph nodes did, but apparently when my uterus went bad the lymph nodes went along for the ride, and were charged for being an accessory, so out they went. Doctors have scalpels- they don't play. 

It also makes me wonder- Does this surgery make me a female eunuch?

Well, whatever I am now, I'm definitely a much more calm, cool and collected whatever. The brain fog is lifting too!

When the fog lifts entirely, what creative chaos will be under those misty folds? My imagination has been pent up for so long! Will it act like a dog greeting its master for the first time in a year? Will it be like a little kid taken to Disneyworld for the first time and be all over the place wanting everything in sight? Has the imaginational energy been gathering the past few years to form a tsunami of ideas and inspiration when the fog succumbs its tenuous hold?

Dearest heaven- What has this surgery released unto this world? 

My imagination is coming people...Run....RUN!

I can see it trying to break out of the hamster ball that is my mind, waiting for the right moment...Let it begin...Let It BEGIN!!

(thank you!)

Am I the only one that's concerned here?

I hope it doesn't completely take over until I can sit at a desk for more than an hour. Maybe I should have my husband buy more pens and writing pads just in case. This is going to be one heck of a roller coaster ride!

Oh! Getting back on track here with the hormonal waning, I actually feel chilly for the first time in forever (you just sang that line, didn't you?)- I haven't felt cold in years! 
Of course I feel the cold now when winter is coming. Couldn't they have planned this for spring or summer, when the hot flashes are near combustible proportions?

NOOooooo..of course not.

So here I sit on the mend, everyone making sure I don't overdo it. I expect the hormones will swing like an ever- slowing pendulum, getting more and more steady as the days pass. 

I just hope I stay crazy enough to make people laugh, yet joyful enough to see God's sense of humor in all things!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Ultimate Tinker

Have you noticed that God is the Ultimate Tinker?

He never throws out the good stuff, and always puts together something new from the usable shards.

He molds us, bends us, and sometime even breaks us- but the stuff He throws away- that we think is an essential part of us- has nothing to do with what He has planned.

He keeps all the broken parts that have potential, and remakes them into something awesome.

Or should I say someone awesome?

Being broken isn't fun. I've heard so many people say (and to be honest, I've quoted this myself) 'God will never give you a burden you can't handle'- and that's a lie! 
He often gives us more than we can handle, because if we can handle our trials on our own, we don't need Him; and being the selfish human beings we are, we'd give ourselves all the credit because we did it all by ourselves. God strengthens us bit by bit to make us stronger, but sometimes He needs to break us in order to see His will- but God only does this when He thinks we're spiritually ready.

When He thinks we're ready, not when we think we're ready. Big difference. Boy, have I messed up that perspective in the past!

When trials come, we're not alone. Oh, sometimes it feels that way, but we're never truly alone. Even if you have no friends or family, God sends strangers in to lend a hand or offer a word of comfort.

If God can make rocks cry out, don't you think He can send you someone in your time of need? Sounds like an easier task than shouting rocks! (Though I admit that would be pretty cool to hear!)

God doesn't want us to handle everything ourselves, He wants us to come to Him for help- but some of us (like me) are just too stubborn to admit it even to ourselves, so God has to do a little breaking to get our attention.

He's gotten my attention a lot recently.

No, I don't like being broken. I don't like that He's trying to take those useless yet precious shards of my sin away from me and make me into something awesome. I don't see the awesome yet- I just see a table full of shards, and I try to salvage as many pieces as I can before God slaps my fingers again.

We are His children, and sometimes we just don't understand we're getting in His way- we just want our stuff and we want it because it's ours. Tinkers can't tinker if the kids keep getting in the way!

Yet here I am still trying to 'help' God by scooping up what He wants to toss away, thinking it's valuable. I interrupt Him by asking why He's adding this or taking away that instead of just watching Him work and learning from Him. 


Maybe you do the same thing as me. Maybe you've been there, done that, and have conquered the urge to help God and have stopped snatching those shiny, discarded shards. 
Just remember that if you're struggling, there's a hand waiting for you to grasp it, and if you've been there, remember to offer a hand to those that aren't up there with you yet. 

And let's both help each other stay out of the Tinker's way!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Let's Get Cooking!

We've done it.

We've taken the plunge. 
Jumped in with both feet. 
Gone where no sensible couple has gone before.

My husband and I are going to move into YouTube videos. The topic? Cooking.

We paid for a course so we wouldn't be completely lost in the dark chocolate abyss that is YouTube video creation and launches, praying it will literally pay off in the long run.

Personally, I'd love to see these videos go viral so my husband can retire and do what he loves to do- Cooking and expanding his men's ministry. 
As for me? I want to teach people basic cooking skills and eat what he makes!

The idea for the show is to make a series of videos for the month that have a soup, appetizer, or salad, then a main entree, and then a dessert. The fourth video will be bonus material concerning the last three videos (tips on types of foods to use, tips and tricks, types of table set-ups, etc.,) and we'd end with serving a full table of folks the entire meal. 

Two of our working titles are:

Plain and Fancy (a twist to the Amish theme, since most of our foods are based in Amish cooking- he's the fancy chef, and I'm the plain cook)

The Comfort Zone (my original idea for a food truck or cafe)

So far my husband likes the Comfort Zone- I'm on the fence, even though the second one was my!

If we plan this right, we can hopefully get all the video we need in a single day and turn it into four separate videos, because until this takes off, we still have full and part-time jobs to do, with not a lot of leftover free time. 

It's not going to be easy, but success rarely ever is- But it's going to be fun!

Anytime our friends come over it's always dinner and a show- My husband and I banter with each other to make everyone laugh- so why not do what we naturally do on video? 

I'm sure you can guess who will be the serious one, and who will be the comic relief...

Let's just say my husband loves some of the quirky ideas I've come up with. But first we have to take the classes!

Since I'll be unable to make any videos until after the holidays (due to surgery), so we'll be taking the classes during that time, and I can start planning and writing video menus and outlines whilst I'm recovering. I've already got some great stuff in store for our first viewers!

And we get to spend time together doing what we both love- cooking and eating! WOOHOO!

The best part of all? We get to have fun teaching other people how to cook real food on a budget, do basic and fancier recipes, and teach people more about the differences concerning processed food, take out, and home cooking. We want to teach the world that, yes, you CAN make real mashed potatoes, and great tasting, low-budget meals for you and your family!

We ask God to bless this endeavor, and for you to enjoy the fruits of our passions. Jumping in with both feet is scary and exciting, and I hope our videos will make the world a better (and tastier) place- I will keep you posted!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Still Waters Run Muddy

Ever get so overwhelmed with life that your mind completely shuts down?

Been there, still doing that.

Honestly, it's a wonder that I still have two brain cells left to breathe, no less function as a human being. I feel like a frozen slug in molasses in January- at the North Pole.

Here are a few things on my mind at the moment:

Son might have to withdraw from college.
Starting a video cooking series with my husband.
Son has a court date coming soon (he's a victim and witness).
Hysterectomy surgery.
Writing a new book.
Ways to sell my other books.
Trying to book work (I do odd jobs) to keep ahead of the bills.

And this is on top of my regular thoughts- is it any wonder my brain wants to take a long nap?

Now people are talking about Christmas- something I don't have time to even blink over.

God is going to have to help me. Again. I'm tired of telling myself  'next year will be better', and hoping for the best. I need God to kick me in the butt and get my mind right. I keep sinking into my bad habits and need to break out of my muddy-minded shell.

The water that is me might look calm and still, but there's a lot of stuff churning under the surface to cloud my thoughts big time. Most times (I hate to admit) my thoughts turn to money. Why? Mainly because I don't have any. If the bank account is down and the bills are due, I go into a panic and try to find creative ways of staying above water.

Lucky enough for me, God gave me friends willing to call me on the carpet when I slip.

I focus a lot on funds, but it's not truly about the money- it's about security. If I won the lottery (that I never played), and received  millions of dollars, do you know what I'd do with most of it after paying off the bills and such?

I'd help people with it.

Big mansions aren't my style. I don't care about sports cars or gold-lined toilet seats or living in Tahiti. I'd allow myself a nice, modest place with a yard, a pool, and a cleaning lady, but that's basically it. The rest of the money would go to help others attain their goals. I don't know what form that help would take, but most of it would not go into a bank and sit there.

Even now when we're hurting, it hurts more that we can't give as much as we want to. We still give what we can (especially if someone is hungry!), but it kills us that we can't do more.

So my mind tries to find ways to do more, so we can make more, so we can help more. Does that make any sense?

Do your thoughts run the same road as mine? You know, the road so cluttered with thoughts that your brain can't run a straight line and has to dodge all of those thought obstacles? 

Maybe we should pray together for clear and steady minds as we wade through the chaos! 

Lord, please help us to stay on the right path. Help us to be people You are thrilled to bless, and give us the wisdom to use those blessings wisely. Clear our hearts, minds, and spirits so we can clearly see the road you've laid out for us. Amen!