Saturday, December 24, 2011

Waiting in Anticipation

Why is it that our Christmas tree changes after December 25? The beauty is still there, but the magic has evaporated, swirled away into the cold of a new year. While December 24 possesses the most mystery of any day in the year for me, December 26 is reality. The sole difference is the anticipation. For many Christians the whole season is one of anticipation, otherwise known as Advent. This year anticipation has been made new to me like never before.

Early in December I was set to give a chapel on Advent when I received some startling news about five minutes beforehand. A rather routine medical test had shown some unusual results, and, after another test, the verdict was a pre-cancerous condition. I had not expected this outcome, and considering that I have lost six family members to cancer, the dolorous news left me shaken. Someone had said the C-word in the same sentence with my name. I did not give my Advent message (and am thankful for the teacher who stepped in with such little notice). More doctor visits were scheduled, and a different kind of Advent began for me.

Anticipation. My life has been alive with it these past few weeks. The fear of unknown procedures that certainly would involve pain was offset by the obvious need to know what my state of health actually was. One nurse suggested that I could put off a procedure until after Christmas, but my need for resolution was stronger than that, despite all my dread of needles and knives. "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you..." reads part of Psalm 55:22, and in the moments leading up to appointments with what felt like doom, I gave Him my cares. What else could I do? Even those wonderful, supportive people who have been through the same thing could not take the physical pain for me, could not take the disease away if I had it, could not erase the anxiety in my mind. Only one could grant me peace as I pondered the worst, as I spent my days anticipating test results.

In those quiet, woeful moments as I tried desperately not to worry, I realized that I was encountering a different sort of Advent. Every day was full of anticipation. Did I dare look at my phone during the school day? What if the doctor had called and it was going to be the worst news? Would I want to know then, or could I wait until the end of the day? Could I be strong? Deuteronomy 31:6 (frequently referred to in other places in the Bible, as well) reminded me to "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Could I let go of my worries to feel peace in the face of, and in the place of, fear?

With so many normal Christmas season concerns pushed aside in my mind (sorry my present wasn't wrapped--I've been preoccupied; walking hand-in-hand with my son as we shop, not totally caring if I buy your gift, rather than racing from store to store; leaving decorations packed and not worrying about a perfect home [aside from one peevish moment when a change of plans brought out the ugly part of me]; listening to the songs about heavenly peace with a new attitude), a new question arose. If this is what anticipation is like, then what should my anticipation of the Savior's return be like? Do I wait for His return with the same anxiousness that I waited for test results? I have never been one to wake up everyday wondering if today will be the day of His return. Instead my philosophy has been that everyday is one day closer to fulfillment of that promise, so let's live in His service everyday. (Boy do I fail miserably everyday. Please don't get me confused with those Christians who think they don't fail--I'm more than aware of each stumble I make.) Today, however, I am thinking anew of what anticipation is like and how I wait for the Savior, because that is what Advent is all about: It is the season where the saints (in the Biblical sense) look ahead to the Second Coming even as we prepare to celebrate the First.

New, according to Merriam-Webster, means "taking the place of what came before." And that is just what I have in terms of my understanding of anticipation. I pray that something will touch you this season in terms of your relationship with the true once and future King, Jesus. I also pray that it won't be as dire as my journey, which by the way has a happy ending. After two biopsies for two different kinds of cancer I am more than happy to report that I have neither. Praise God! I will be checking in with my doctor a little more frequently, but my prayers for good health have been answered in the positive. In Acts 5:19-20 the angel told the apostles to “Go, stand in the temple courts...and tell the people all about this new life.” My gift for you this Christmas is a prayer that you will find this new life in the form a of a baby born to restore the relationship between you and God. God's gift for you is redemption, but it is your choice to take it or reject it. Blessings to you today and everyday! (What good timing--my Christmas Pandora station has just begun playing Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," which is exactly what I feel right now!)

Luke 2
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fear Not!

Luke 1:26-38 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Painting: "The Annunciation" by Orazio Gentileschi

Monday, November 21, 2011

Random Winter Throughts

#1: The picture in my banner was the bottom of a table at Borders. Good-bye Borders; we loved you, but obviously not often enough.

#2: The snow is still falling here.

#3: The snow has created a mental shift in my brain that has bypassed Thanksgiving and moved straight to Christmas. I'm so confused.

#4: Now it's time to change the wallpaper on my computer to a suitable Christmas art image. A couple years ago I used some gorgeously colored angels from a Giotto fresco, but need to find something else now. Any suggestions?

#5: Snow tires are a nice invention. So are comfy chairs, warm blankets, and cups of cocoa.

Back to grading...

Monday, November 07, 2011

A Rich Life

"Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing." -- Camille Pissarro

Image credit: (obviously)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Lost Art of Editing

"'I'm the Imelda Marcus of sunglasses,' he laughed."

The above quote is from an article about Bono and why he wears sunglasses. I'm not sure who Imelda Marcus is, but I bet she doesn't own as many shoes as Imelda Marcos did. (Yes, she is still alive [I did a quick check, hint, hint to the editor of the article]; I just don't know if she still owns as many shoes.)

I know it can be difficult to find information on the internet sometimes, but shouldn't writers, editors, newspapers, bloggers, etc., at least give it the old college try?

I'm done. We now return to the regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Clean Before Cleaning

Cleaning is not my favorite thing to do for two reasons. One, I just don't enjoy doing a task that will almost immediately need to be done again. Cleaning my house is like the directions on shampoo: wash, rinse, repeat. And I don't use my shampoo that way, either. Two, my mind has so much free time when I'm cleaning. Unfortunately, I don't always put it to good use, but instead ruminate on how much I dislike cleaning, which makes me cranky (I was going to say crabby, but I decided cranky sounded a bit more steampunk [see previous posts for more on that one]).

My husband is a huge help with the housework, but some tasks seem to fall outside the vision of the other, and floor cleaning has always been my province. So a couple days ago I dug out some cleaner and prepared to mop. I have never found a floor cleaner that works to my liking, although I suspect it has more to do with the floor and all the little divots in the vinyl that was designed by someone who has NEVER cleaned a floor that has dirt stuck in ALL those little divots, but I digress. Since I had not used this particular cleaner in a while (it literally stinks, but it was what was under the sink), I strained to read the tiny directions. (Have you noticed how small things are printed these days? Surely it's not just me. What do you mean, your name isn't Shirley?) Listed shortly before the warnings about not putting this stuff in your eyes, which I wasn't tempted to do--it would be too near my nose then, was the admonition to clean tough spots before cleaning.

"Hmm," and, "Double hmm," said I, as I dutifully pushed and pulled the mop across the floor. I have seen this direction before, and it always puzzles me. I'm supposed to clean the floor before I clean the floor? And just what am I supposed to use to clean it the first time? If the cleaner I am currently using isn't going to work then what should I use the first time? And if the cleaner I am currently using has to have something else used before it, then why should I use it now? Huh? Huh?

Usually this is the moment when my mind takes a sharp left turn into self-pity, griping, and complaining (see that nice Oxford comma? I've recently been re-educated as to its importance). Shortly thereafter a family member will typically walk across the recently mopped and whinged floor and the pity party becomes a surprise party of the most unpleasant kind for said innocent loved one. This day, such was not the case, and the brain took a refreshing right turn.

Cleaning the floor before I clean the floor seems like a ridiculous instruction to me. Yet, in our spiritual lives we do it all the time. One of the most amazing things I can think of is that Jesus came to save me--the spiritual equivalent to my dirty floor, replete with divots. Why should He care about me unless I'm at my best, I wonder. Shouldn't I be at my grandest and finest to stand before God in any capacity? Even before I can ask Jesus to be part of my life? How can I attend church if I'm still covered with the dirt of the world? It's easy to become wrapped up in these worries and forget the truth of Romans 5:8, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Wow. Those words still surprise me sometimes. I don't have to clean me before I can accept Christ's gift. In fact, that cleaning is the gift, and He does the cleaning. I'm not without responsibility afterwards; I should try to live in a way that doesn't attract so much dirt. Neither am I without struggle, as Paul talks about in many places, including Galatians 5:17. Living the Christian life is not easy, but it's sure easier with a good cleaner. He's the best one I've found, that's for sure. And I must confess that it does cheer me to think that the floor is only temporal and I won't be stuck cleaning it for eternity.

Here's my best advice: Don't be stuck cleaning before cleaning. Let The Professional do it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Steampunk Me, or, The Confetti of My Mind (Redux)

Despite the fact that it is a time-honored tradition in art, I have never drawn a self-portrait before. This one is for my friend Jenny, and it is drawn with a blue mechanical pencil, then inked with a pen that streams smearlessly. (See the previous posts for some understanding.) While the pen might flow smearlessly (the manufacturer's word--not mine) it does not flow globlessly (hey, if they can do it, why can't I?). That is not the reason I'm sneering, however. It just seemed like fun. As did the steampunk. (Again, see the previous posts.) I think I need a vaporizer, too.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

TOTALLY random thoughts, or, the confetti in my mind currently

Random thought 1: We really need to watch Rocky and Bullwinkle again soon.

Random thought 2: Those purple morning glories at my son's new school were one of the loveliest shades of purple I've seen in a long time.

Random thought 2.5: The purple hat at the store was awfully nice, too, but I get hat hair so badly.

Random thought 3: If the man at the bank had steel spikes extending from his hands he would look just like Wolverine, and it would make picking up paper a whole lot of fun.

Random thought 4: The banner on my blog has snow on it. Since it's 95 or so degrees outside I should really change it, but this is Idaho in September, which means it will snow again soon.

Random thought 5: Steampunk. How badly do I want that book? Advice?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Convertible

In which I relate a silly moment of word and image association. Ready? Good.

As I'm driving down the road between the golden grain fields on my way home today I pass a man walking and he looks hot but I pilot the car out away from him to the far side of the road to give him space but the driver behind me doesn't do the same as I see when I look in the rear view mirror and I see how my hair is blowing a bit in the wind because I don't have air conditioning and the windows are rolled down and I am reminded how I'm so tired of arriving at wherever with hair that looks like I've never even heard of such a thing as a hairbrush, but oh well, such is life, but then I think how other people drive convertibles and aren't mistaken for barbarians which makes me think of the Inspector Lewis episode that I recently watched where the lady arrived in a convertible and she was wearing a headscarf to help tame said hair and that must be the key and I remember that once, years ago, I drove a convertible loaner car while my own was being resurrected from near totalling and that I tried wearing a headscarf but found it very unnerving because it kept wanting to fly off and it's not easy to be comfortable driving a convertible with a scarf blowing out behind because it makes one think of Isadora Duncan--unless one drives with the top up.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

New Word for You

Stick this word in your vocab: yestreen. It's of Scottish origin and means "last evening or night." As in, "My husband barbecued steak yestreen." It was yummy, too! What did you do yestreen?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Get the Lead Out

My daughter is teaching me the ins and outs (no pun intended) of mechanical pencils. This is a big deal for me; I've watched so many students waste time fiddling with mechanical pencils that I have been on the verge of banning from my classroom at times. However, being a bit of a pen, pencil and paper freak, I couldn't quite bring myself to separate a student from his or her writing implement of choice. (Classroom management can be a fine art.) Furthermore, while I've always loved the feel of a good 6, 7 or 8B pencil for drawing, I've seen students who can work wonders with mechanical pencils. Not long ago a mechanical pencil made its way into my drawing bag and I have used it for very light sketches underneath some little watercolors, but otherwise I steer clear of this writing implement.

All that changed yesterday. My son and I went to the Free Comic Book Day event at our local comic book store to wait patiently in line for a free drawing by a comic book artist. We discovered this event last year, and it was love at first sight for me. Own an original drawing for the cost of standing in line? Wow. (Thank you to those artists!) Last year my son and I each chose Star Wars clones as subject matter. This year we challenged the artists: my son chose a Halo character and I wanted a drawing of Asterix. Neither artist had drawn these characters before and seemed to enjoy the new subject matter, too. But back to the mechanical pencils.

Part of the joy for me is to watch the artists work, and I noticed that several of them were using blue lead while sketching. Now, I have to confess that I'm old enough to have used a waxer for paste-up, so blue immediately makes me think non-repro. But I wasn't sure why they were using it. So I asked. The answer? It doesn't smear as much as regular graphite and is easier to incorporate into the inking. Cool. While I'm not a comic book artist, that was enough for me. Art store field trip!

So this afternoon my daughter is showing me how to prep a mechanical pencil for use. It's true--I have used a waxer, but never replaced lead in a mechanical pencil. But I'm all ready. And as soon as I'm done sketching I will ink something with the pens my daughter bought me for Mother's Day that promise to "Stream Smearlessly." That's really what it says on the package. Yes, the marketing sold me. How could I resist a made-up word like that! :-D

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Novus Nomen Maximus

Last year my favorite name from history was Vindex. Of course, you have to know that in Latin (and this fellow was a rebellious Roman senator) a V is pronounced as a W. I know, silly, but hey, the seventh graders loved it.

Well, as of yesterday I have a new favorite, also from Roman history. Meet Mettius Fufetius. An unfortunate fellow, Mettius Fufetius was the leader of Alba who decided to betray his alliance with the Romans during a battle. But he was outmatched in intelligence by his opponent, Tullus Hostlilius. Is it just me or does it seem really unwise to fight a man named Hostilius? At any rate, the betrayal was a stupid (are we still allowed to use that word?) choice and ended with Mettius Fufetius being executed in a fashion that Livy says "was the first and last time that fellow-countrymen of ours inflicted a punishment so utterly without regard to the laws of humanity." Poor Mettius Fufetius.

Roman history is full of interesting, unusual names like Scipio Africanus (nothing poor or stupid about him!) or Quintus Quinctius Cincinnatus or Publius Manlius (another seventh grade snicker inducer). Another name new to me this year that could be a favorite is Spurius Fusius, appointed Roman spokesman of a compact that Livy says was "in a long metrical formula, which is not worth the trouble of quoting here." The compact was before the battle between the Horatii and the Curiatii, which is a story that is worth the trouble quoting, to, um, well, coin a quote.

As I leaf through Livy there is no shortage of names that sound slightly silly to us today. But I remember reading Wonder Woman comics from the 1940s when I was a kid and being surprised at the old-fashioned quality of the names that were then only 30 years old. I'm sure the Paulines and Abigails of that era didn't feel old-fashioned any more than the Romans sounded silly. And names aren't the only things that go in and out of style, later seeming foolish, humorous or bizarre--orange shag carpet anyone?

Hmm, do you think Mettius Fufetius wore bellus-bottomi? (Sorry, Matt J., but only a little.)

Painting of "The Oath of the Horatii" by Jacques-Louis David.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


More snow. :-( Or should I say >:-<

I'm not usually one to complain about the snow--I mean I do live in a place where I anticipate there will be lots of it every year. This year, however, I am just ready for it to not be in my way.

There, I've said it. Bleh!

Spring, come visit us.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Sad Irony

I come home from being at school all day with active, voluble young people and am ready for some still and quiet time. My son comes home from being at school where he has to be still and quiet and is ready to be an active, voluble young person. And ever the twain shall meet...

Something New, Something Sublime

I've added a link in the sidebar to a friend's new online workshops. I have followed Deryn since I first commented on her artwork in the Yahoo Altered Book Group years ago. Her work has always spoken to me and I love how she integrates her faith publicly, yet without being obnoxious. (Something I probably fail at frequently.) Her blog is fantastic, although I have to confess I haven't visited in a while, but that is solely a function of time and busyness. (I actually own a Yahoo group that I never visit either.) Anyway, take a peek.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Re-Posting of an Always Good Lesson

I originally wrote this post in January of 2008 and accidentally came across it while searching for something else tonight. I'm going to now prove to you why I was once "elected" the safety officer for our playgroup by sharing this bit of advice again. The first title was, "The Safety Officer Speaks, or Never Play with Fire," which is a title I like better than the one above. Note that the cute baby is now taller than I am. Enjoy, and more importantly, go vacuum! :-)


Getting down to brass tacks today, I finally finished vacuuming the after-Christmas rearranging and changing, etc. In the last couple days I have safely stowed the ornaments, the putting away of which revealed the pitiful state of the bookshelf and surrounding piles. And so that had to be dealt with. How could I have so many books that I still haven't read? I pulled them all out, stuck them in a basket by the bed and cleaned the area. Once the books were back into a satisfactory state, I finished the vacuuming, which included curtains, lamp shades and the fan blades above the table. (After finishing lunch, thank you so much mom!) By then I had the vacuum so close to the kitchen that I finally remembered a task that keeps catching my eye, just not at the right moment--the dusty state of my kitchen curtain. Having completed that task my eye fell on the refrigerator.

Ah yes, the refrigerator. Did you know that you have to clean the underside of your refrigerator periodically? Especially if you have A) pets, B) a very dusty house, C) a lint-source very near, or D) children. Hmm, we fit all of these qualifications, so we try to clean this under-fridge space at least once a year, but preferably twice. But we didn't always know about this important cleaning chore, which brings up the subtitle of this post.

Once upon a time, in a house far, far away (okay, really only about 10 miles away) there lived a mostly young couple with a brand-new baby. Oh, and cats--three cats. The happy, unknowing couple had lived in this little yellow house for about 6 years, all of them with the cats, when one day mommy and baby went to visit grandma in another town. Poppa was planning to go away for the weekend on an important fishing trip with clients from work, but as things so often go, something else came up and he didn't make it on the trip. Instead, he went home to the little yellow house. When he came in the door, after petting the cats, he immediately noticed a bad smell. A terrible, something-is-catching-on-fire smell, and a scary electricity-gone-bad sort-of-sound. All of it coming from the kitchen. And those lights--they never came out from under the refrigerator before! Quickly Poppa raced over, unplugged the fridge and grabbed whatever was handy to put out the potential fire. Blessedly, cutting the electrical current was all that was needed and no fire ensued. Poppa spent some time moving the fridge and suveying the damage (yup, we needed a new fridge), then opening windows to air out the house. At which point mommy and baby arrived home. They were surprised to see Poppa, but boy were they happy to have a home!

Of all the things my mom taught me to clean, she never mentioned this one. Years worth of cat hair had collected underneath and caused all the problem. To some of you, this may seem like a no-brainer, but I once had a college roommate who couldn't change a light bulb--we all have our failings. Truthfully, I just never thought about it. Fast forward to today, when I thought to clean this so-convenient-to-get-to-space. Here's a pic of some of the fun.
Mind you, this is after I'd already vacuumed quite a bunch, so what you see here is just a little bit of the lint. The whole space underneath was full of this stuff and we just cleaned it about seven months ago or so. Go ahead--if you haven't cleaned yours, go take a look. Should I tell you here that if you haven't cleaned your fridge bottom lately and you're thinking you should, please, please, please! UNPLUG IT first! The power won't be off long enough to cause any problems, but crispy friends are never a good thing. And be prepared--you may have to come up with some creative options for cleaning--see my stick with a paper towel for swiping the really-hard-to-get-to-spots? I'm not, btw, going to recommend you undo any screws or bolts without consulting someone who knows more about these things because you never know what may come loose if you do, but please do the best you can.

And while I was thinking back to our almost fire so long ago, I realized that it was exactly one year ago today that the ground wire from the street to our house burnt out and shot 220 through our home, killing some appliances and starting a near-fire in our basement. Remember that a power strip is just a way to add more outlets for your convenience. A small surge protector keeps the electricity flow even to whatever items are plugged into it, but it does not protect against any kind of catastrophic event. If you have a major surge, those little things can blow-up/melt-down and start a fire. Keep the areas around them clean. BTW, they don't protect your computer, either. If you want to make sure your computer is safe through that kind of event, you want it plugged into something more substantial. When I left my graphics job (ten years ago this spring!) I bought a major battery back-up unit that has saved my computer twice: once when lightning struck our home and came in through the phone line, and last winter through the 220 episode. This little back-up unit died over Christmas (I probably should have replaced it sooner) and I almost went with a heavy-duty-looking surge strip, until I asked for help. The guy said to not be fooled; even the big-looking surge protectors aren't enough in a catastrophic event. Well, since we've lived through two, so I'm not taking any chances.

Oh, and don't play with matches either! The safety officer has spoken.

PS--I don't know why the pics came out with the strange white spaces. I've tried adjusting and re-exporting, but it's not helping. It's late and I haven't read any of those books, so we're just living with it. But, if you have any tips on how to fix it, please share--they really look dorky...

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A New Year

I can't believe it is already another year. Not only that, but it's eight days in. The only remnants of Christmas are some decorations on the table, a poinsettia and two snowmen, who, technically aren't just Christmas and could stay up all winter if I feel so inclined (or maybe that should read "lazy").

Unfortunately I never returned from my music post to talk about how much I love the Christmas season. The lights and the anticipation speak to me in the same way as the Vivaldi music of the last post. While many people do not like the long, dark days of this time of year, I look forward to the changing of the days and the seasons. The dark makes me long for the light, which is doled out in little bits this time of year by all the lovely illuminations of Christmas. Counting the days until the magical pinnacle of Christmas Eve is sort of like Mary treasuring up things in her heart for me. The beauty and sparkle of the decorations dazzle for a brief moment, then they are put away and replaced with a clarity that is almost emptiness.

The New Year arrives and the house seems barren without the tree and all its accoutrements. Then the days slowly grow longer and the light grows. Both are welcome changes, arousing in me a desire for spring and the rebirth of the earth.

For me all of this is a reminder of what Jesus has done for me. I live in the world and see the dark until I long for the light. Just when it seems the dark will overtake all of life I see glimmers and sparkles of the miraculous, which make me long more, until the longest night is past and I remember the glorious rebirth I have been given.

Why is God's gift so easy to forget? My frailty makes it too easy for me to look the other way just when I need the light the most. The last three years have contained far too many moments and elements of darkness. I am ready for the light. I am longing.

And just like that a new year is here. May this be the year of light and growth, a year of moving ahead. Amazingly, when I look back the dark things begin to fade and I remember mostly the sparkling moments. No, I am not some starry-eyed optimist, but I am glad that this is also the way the Lord sees me through Christ. So, here's to the light and the One who brings it. Here's to a year of light and growth.