When it started…

November 14th, 2016 Comments off

Shortly after the invasion of Iraq was when I became more aware of it. I knew there was bias in the news, could handle watching CNN, MSNBC, Fox – they were all slightly unique. They covered the events that eventually led to the war, they covered the congressional approval debates, that authorized the President to use force to expel Saddam Hussein . They covered when Bush sought UN Approval, citing all the times Saddam violated the sanctions against him without repercussion. They covered the coalition of the willing that created a joint force to do what needed to be done, oust one of the most horrific dictators in the world.

Then the protests started, then the news began to change. The biases solidified. That’s when it started.

It got worse, the longer the war dragged on, there were calls to support our troops, but they started maligning the President. Comparing him to Hitler, over and over again. When Bush won reelection the bias got worse. The Republican congress got bold, and started spending, budgets started to burst, and conservatives sat back a bit shocked. When the mid-term of Bush’s second term started, the power shifts, Republicans were no longer in power in either house. Bush was a true lame duck.

The bias got louder. It wasn’t just the news shows, it was Comedy Central, Late night television, pretty much piling on the sitting President and denouncing the conservative party as dead.

The run up to the 2008 election it got worse, dissent became “racist”, you couldn’t have a thought that wasn’t “correct” without being labeled as racist. President Obama ran on a platform of unity, of trying to bring us together. Days if not weeks into his Presidency it was apparent that unity meant only the unity of those with the proper thoughts, not ones opposed to the agenda of the Democratic party. We were going to get a healthcare bill.

Dissent, was shouted down. The Tea Party, that started up as a conservative response to Republican overspending, started to protest the healthcare bill. I attended a rally in my town. I got home from the rally, glad to have put my voice into a political movement. I came home and turned on the news, what would they say about this protest, after so glowingly covering the war protests.

I was called a racist. The whole tea-party movement was coalesced into that one phrase, “racist hate mongers”.

That was when it became apparent to me that the narrative on the nightly cable news shows wasn’t ever going to be fair.

So I tuned out. I retreated from being political. My voice didn’t matter. The new wave was upon us.

Then the primaries for this year started. Trump was all in the news and the news was all bad. The chorus was “he was a hate filled bigot that hated women” – sounded familiar. I was never a fan of Trump. He never earned by vote. But I could understand there were people like me out there, that would want to vote for him. People that had been told repeatedly by Cable News, Comedy Central, Late Night TV, SNL, that their views and values were outdated, they weren’t enlightened. People told through the summer of BLM, that they were racists. Then in the final weeks of the election, oh the social media… being told how to vote by all sorts of celebrities. Respected directors and actors, putting out videos shutting down one side of the country.

I just wanted to crawl into a hole, I was silenced, I gave up ever trying to be understood.

That’s how I felt when I tuned into election night coverage. I don’t think my story is singular, nor do I think it fair. I don’t think my views are always correct. I need to have my narratives challenged, I want to see an issue in its entirety. I hope that this election will start to change the conversation.

Though it feels like all the places that silenced me, are doubling down in their aggression for the “one true thought”

Now you talk.

 

Categories: Politics (ugh) Tags:

Alexander Hamilton

November 4th, 2016 Comments off

So thanks, Brenna for getting that ear-worm of a musical stuck in my brain. Enough that I start to write to get things unstuck our of my brain, and interested enough about the guy on the ten dollar bill to read his biography.

Interesting chap, things I never knew. As the song goes, “how does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore…” those people usually don’t get a head in life, let alone be featured on currency.

Reading the source material for part of the musical has been somewhat fascinating. Usually I’m more for fiction and imagination than reading a fact based biography. But Hamilton is a fascinating fellow.

He really was non-stop. He had a set of principles that he lived by, and also broke. He was probably a man of faith, but not always a church-goer. His younger years were troubled by just surviving, then he became and aide-de-camp to General Washington. Still ambitious enough to walk away from that (in part where the musical sways away from the facts) because he was frustrated in not getting a command. Still became a war hero at the battle of Yorktown.

I’m still at the start of where his life goes in the politics of the new nation, and I’m sure that will be fascinating too, to see him go toe-to-toe with Jefferson and Madison, let along Aaron Burr.

The musical has lyrics that activate my brain more than other catchy ear-wormy songs. The way the types of music are blended, from rap to jazz to plain old ballads and show-tunes.

Anyway, I have more to share, more to write, I can’t write a novel for NaNoWriMo, but I can make the commitment to blog each day. I think it is a healthy habit to get things out of my brain, and into words. So stand by, who knows where my brain will go.

Categories: Blaaawg, Life Tags:

Perfect? No-No!

June 19th, 2014 Comments off

This is about as close as you can get to a perfect game. Each batter (28 of them thanks to a ground ball throwing error) of Clayton (K-layton?) Kershaw’s no-hit gem of a game last night. A perfect game would have had only 27 batters.

At Home, with Vin Scully on the call… Great game!

 

Categories: Headliners, Life, Sports Tags:

I drive by a food desert everyday!

May 21st, 2014 Comments off

Prompted by this post on Instapundit, I went to the USDA map, and inserted my street address to see where I might find a Food Desert near me.

If you don’t know what a food desert is, let’s head to Wikipedia and find out.

In general, there is no specific agreed-upon definition for the term. An initial definition counts the type and quality of foods available for purchase and the neighborhood residents being impoverished and unable to buy such foods. A second definition takes into account “access, or the degree to which individuals live within close proximity to a large supermarket or supercenter”, which offers “consumers a wider array of food choices at relatively lower costs.” Such a definition weights “the number, type and size of food stores available to residents.” One study counted food deserts as “urban areas with 10 or fewer (grocery) stores and no stores with more than 20 employees.” The existence of multiple definitions which can even change by country and the uncertainty over the exact measures by which a food desert can be recognized have fueled controversy over the existence of food deserts.

Maps, showing the distribution of food deserts in the United States can be found in Morton and Blanchard’s 2007 article.[5]

So I found think link to the Morton and Blanchard’s article and found these measurements.

  • Rural areas risk becoming “food deserts” as young families move away and market pressures continue to squeeze small grocers and retailers. Food deserts are defined as counties in which all residents must drive more than 10 miles to the nearest supermarket chain or supercenter.
  •  The Great Plains are especially lacking in easy-access grocers.
  • The residents of food deserts tend to be older, poorer, and less educated.
  • Health can be compromised by lack of food access. Many do not consume adequate amounts of fresh fruits or vegetables, and they often lack adequate dairy and protein in their diet.
  • Wal-Mart and other superstores are not always cheaper on all food items, leaving room for a competitive advantage for smaller grocers.

Fully armed with knowledge I peaked at the map to see this:

FOODDESERT

If you don’t live near me this might not mean anything, but my route to work starts on Independence Pky, turns onto Renner along the north end of the green zone, I dip into the green zone, and drive right through the middle of the Food Desert until I reach Custer Parkway and continue on my way to work.  So I know this area pretty well.

Off the top of my head, I know there is a Wal-mart and a Sam’s Club to the northwest side, a Target a stones throw away from the southwest corner, and a Tom Thumb just north of the northeast corner. But those fall outside of that roughly 3-mile wide – one mile high swath of food desert that we worry about. Though just to the south of that curved green line (that’s a railroad line, and to the north is industrial parks and a new retirement community) is a Central Market grocery store (H.E.B.’s answer to Whole Foods). Also in that swath of green is the University of Texas at Dallas Campus, a Driving Range and a large swatch of heretofore undeveloped land. The developed land to the east of UTD is some upper middle class neighborhoods, as well as a country club with a golf course.  I truly worry about the population in this deprived area.

In short if that area is a food desert, please find me a house there (preferably the one near the 18th fairway with the nice view of the green).

Just for giggles, plug in an address near you and see what the USDA is considering a food desert near you! I’m sure glad tax-dollars went into making this map. To see a non-tax payer funded map of the area with indicators of where to find “grocery stores” click here.

 

Categories: Life, Politics (ugh) Tags:

A Baggins Of Bags End.

January 20th, 2014 Comments off

Had an interesting weekend, as I attended a discussion about the book, “The Art of Neighboring” and the challenge that went with it to learn the names of the eight neighbors around me. (NB: think of a tic-tac-toe board with your house in the middle and your physical geographical neighbors that would inhabit the other eight squares). I was able to list three, I would have gotten four but one neighbor recently moved. I’ve lived here longer than any place else I’ve ever lived, and I’m failing at the basic step of a neighbor, namely calling them by name.

Of course it doesn’t help my self-esteem to be handed this challenge in light of Jesus’ words affirming the young man that repeated, “Love your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself” as a summary of the scriptures, and telling him to go and do likewise. The bit of shame is further ground in when looking at the text and reading the young person used the following to try and weasel out from the command:

Who is my neighbor?

In this modern world, we have tried to re-define our neighbors, as a matter of fact you might have stopped by this post because of a link on Facebook, and if you did… welcome Neighbor! I wouldn’t blink an eye, to call you my neighbor in this electronic age that has made distances shrink, and relationships grow across the magic of the internet. I’ve even been to talks where this ‘quasi’-neighbor is heralded as an extension of the great commandment. It’s really easy to pat one’s self on the back about how great a neighbor one is to their electronic friends.

Then, I look at that tic-tac-toe board and wonder about the names of whosie-whatist across the street, or loud-trampoline-family kitty-corner in the back alley, or mr. always-has-the-garage-door-closed two hows down from him.

I really have no excuse, it isn’t that hard to learn people’s names. But if I learn their names, I’d have to use it when I say hello, and if I use it to say hello, I might have to ask, “how are you?” and if I asked that, I’d have to listen to the answer, and if I listened to the answer I might be able to help, and …

Not to sound like a DirecTV commercial, or a children’s book about feeding pancakes to pigs, but at the end of that stream of thought is something dangerous! Actually getting involved with strangers! My mother warned me about them!

But if I knew their name, they wouldn’t be a stranger.

I’ve also been reading The Hobbit, and how hard it was for Bilbo to leave Bag’s End and start on his adventure. I read often in the narrative about how he wishes he was home in his hobbit hole enjoying second breakfast (and if there is anything we should learn from Tolkien is the importance of second breakfast, if not elevensies) and smoking on his pipe (so long as you live in Washington or Denver, I suppose). How in the midst of the terror and fear of the adventure he could always remember home.

So I have a quandry, stay cozy in my hole, or learn the names of my neighbors. My real. Physical. Literal. Neighbors.

To add to this, there was a final paragraph in a review for the movie Her I read, copied here without further comment:

For this segment of the population anyway, we may be over-thinking the hangups with marriage. It’s not necessarily an outgrowth of economics, public policy, sociology, or religious belief. It might just be that love is hard. And, increasingly, ‘hard’ is something we’re not willing to do.

(how hard is it to learn a name?)

 

Categories: Faith, Learning, Life Tags:

Bible verses suck

December 23rd, 2013 Comments off

and sometimes passages of the bible suck. Because they are ripped out of context, and applied haphazardly to whatever we think they should apply to.

Take for example Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

All nice and warm gooey feeling, right? The context of what Jeremiah is saying to the captives in Babylon though is lost, because he’s just got done telling them: “make yourselves comfy, you’ll never see your home again. Get settled in this apostate region, because it your home for a while, and for your kids and maybe your grandkids. But realize that it is part of God’s plan, after 70 or so years, I’ll make it right, and bring you back home.”

I read on the internet today that someone doesn’t agree with Paul. Well boy howdy, that’s a pretty broad generalization, all of Paul’s writings? The ones wear he hopes that those that require circumcision as a prelude to believing in Christ slip and castrate themselves? The ones where he lists all the nasty sins we all do, just about daily, like slander and gossip along side sexual immorality?  The ones where he shows that there is no condemnation in Christ? The one where he list the ways that we’ll never be separated from Christ?

Look, I’m with Peter (2 Peter 3:16), who a couple thousand years ago wrote about Paul:

He speaks about these things in all his letters in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.

He is hard to understand, it takes a bit more than the discounted 10 second sound bite that gets tossed up in the middle of a “news” story to understand Paul’s words. I’m sure that the words of a grace healed red-neck paraphrasing those greek words translated into southern twanged English are even harder to understand.

Perhaps, a few more moments dwelling on what Paul meant, and what his whole corpus means, might be a good exercise.

Try this, read Romans 7, then stop. Don’t turn the page, don’t read past the last verse and skip on to chapter 8. It’s not a happy ending.

The first letters and gospels that were penned in greek didn’t have paragraphs, didn’t have numbers for easy reference. People passed around whole letters, copying letter by letter, and sending it to another congregation. These people found hope in Paul’s words, in Peter’s words, in John’s and James. They developed the Gospels, to share the story of the God that saw our lost world in such disarray that he lowered himself, to be made all man, while continuing to be entirely divine. To provide the perfect sacrifice for the slanders, the gossips, the liars and the thieves, even for those that commit the lesser sins listed as they live in their flesh. As I live in my flesh.

This Christmas in the turmoil of the latest, loudest, if not ugliest kerfluffle over Paul’s words, take a moment, and read. Read Matthew and the scandal that surrounds the line of the baby born in Jerusalem, that includes a incestuous daughter, a prostitute and an adulteress (and murderer too). Read Luke and marvel that the first announcement of his miracle of God with us, was not to royalty, but to dirty stinky shepherds.

Read on to realize that Jesus didn’t come to save the well, and the upright, but came to heal the sick and seek out that one sheep out of ninety-nine that has gotten ensnared by life.

Then realize, that you… the ones that read Paul’s words, and understand them, you are the ones… no … I am the one, that he bids to wash the others feet.

Bible verses suck.

 

 

Categories: Faith, Learning, Life Tags:

Boanerges

December 20th, 2013 Comments off

Today my father’s mother passed away. That makes me, the oldest male from the line that bears the name Stueve. My grandmother, Grace, was proceeded in death by her husband Stan, and her son Dick. (Both oddly, nicknames that avoid using the name Clarence… (this is a picture of how my brain works, and freely associates things))

I have many memories of visiting my grandmother’s house, that shared real-estate with a much ignored stop sign. That her picture window that framed the tall cedars of Pier Park in St Johns, Oregon never was destroyed by a car careening down N. St James Street is a glimpse of God’s grace and mercy. Perhaps.

It’s not much coincidence that her house was at the junction of St Johns Ave and St James, who were aptly named by Jesus as the “Sons of Thunder” in Mark’s gospel. Their evangelical zeal for the Lord was kindled early in his ministry, and then purified through their life under the counsel of the Spirit.

One of my memories is of a collection of small booklets that my grandmother kept, with titles ranging across many mundane topics. One I remember vividly was entitled, “How to argue,” which I immediately opened and began reading. At that time, I think I recall, I was often embroiled in verbal parries with my older sister Sarah, and perhaps I thought I would now have the upper hand being properly educated on the art of arguments.

It was much different than I imagined the title to be, and it’s lessons, perhaps, have faded in my much crowded memories.

Then I recall, that St John, lived much longer than his brother. The sole surviving Boanerges twin, lived a long life. Much longer than his fellow apostle Peter that barged into the empty tomb, while John had arrived first. The older John, his fiery temperament perhaps soothed by the balm of Gilead, boiled Jesus teaching into simple phrase, that we glimpse when we read the eponymous letters in the thinner part of the New Testament.

“Little children, love one another.”

Overtime, I have taken this philosophy more to heart than the philosophy of “how to argue”, and my grandmother’s love is one of the reasons. She possessed a servant’s heart, always making sure when we visited that we were fed, that we had her bed (and to the unknown person that invested cash money to purchase her couch last weekend, you have yourself a gem of a napping couch). Her acts of service were her love language, much more than her words.

So with words that spring from a place I know not where. I muse on my grandmother’s passing. Hoping that she enjoyed that walk up the path, through the towering cedars of Pier Park as much as I did, every time I visited.

I’ll miss you Grandma, but you are already part of me.

Categories: Faith, Learning, Life Tags:

I don’t feel dirty…

December 12th, 2013 Comments off

Okay, the original lyric was “I don’t feel tardy!”

but it’s a homonym homophone, right?

The thing is, our feelings will totally mess us up, direct us down the wrong path and spin us around until we right round, baby right round.

gah… perhaps the lyrics of my past have come back to haunt me.

Meh, whatevs.

Here is the thing, feelings are not facts. But, feelings are important. They are a guidepost to let us know if we are alive, or dead. The worse kind of hell is to feel nothing. The special kind of hell is reserved for those that feel everything (and those that don’t listen to Shepherd Book’s wisdom.)

Jon Stueve knows nothing. So don’t listen to closely, but hold on loosely. I won’t let go. Though I may cling to tightly, I’ll try not to lose control.

To put the needle on the record, I want to get back to my point instead of skipping around through musical distractions. So I’ll attempt to get back on course.

A few days ago, I settled into watch a movie with Angie, we picked Flight, a Denzel Washington flick about a hot shot ex-Naval aviator with a penchant for booze and cocaine whose mad flying skills saves a plane load full of passengers from a horrible fiery death. The only problem with his act of heroism was he was at least three sheets to the wind when he pulled the doomed flight out of it’s dive of destruction.

A better film of the perils of addiction I have not witnessed. It’s gritty good, the film tore at my insides and tumbled through my memories. We addicts, we live in a state of denial when we’re off the path, and that is why I have to question my feelings. Continuously.

I have to critically examine… everything. I need outsiders to keep  me honest, I need to stay out of my own head.

Because inside my head is Harling Mays (played wonderfully by John Goodman, who makes a mighty fine and cuddly monster too)

“Please allow me to introduce myself, I am man of wealth and taste” we hear on the sound track as the nattily attired Harling strolls down the hospital passageway on his way to meet his customer, Denzel’s Whip Whitaker. When he finds his target the next minute and a half of dialog is largely Harling telling Whip what a wonderful person he is, how he is a stud pilot, how he was a hero.

All lies.

And, all true.

Just like our feelings.

My lyrical brain recognized the song, Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil, whose lyrics go on to say “Hope you guess my name.”

The answer is the personification of evil, but not the name in the title, it’s Denial. It was Denial that sidled up to Eve in the garden and whispered sweet nothings in her ear. Denial that snuck beside David while he watched Bathsheba take her morning shower, and Denial that tempted Jesus in the desert and watched him cry bloody tears in the garden.

Devil, Beelzebub… meh, potaytoh, potahtoh as far as I’m concerned.

Denial will tell us lies so good we’ll think they are truth. While hiding the darkness our behaviors and hangups wreck in the lives of those around us.

I won’t give up the plot of Flight, it is a journey worth the time spent on Netflix.

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s confusing you
Is just the nature of my game

Lies… that is the nature of Denial’s game. We need an assembly of people around us, to watch us, to listen to us, to hug us, to scold us, to uplift us and berate us.

Living life will tend towards believing our feelings, it’s the nature of the game. Feel them, please! Don’t think feelings are bad, but evaluate them, test them, put them in the context of True North, Truth, with trusted loved ones. Then adjust course and drive on down the highway.

Because I can’t drive … fifty-five.

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at least I come by it naturally…

December 12th, 2013 Comments off

All this talk about grinchiness, grumpiness, and I’ve forgotten the first grinch of them all. The granddaddy, the puffdaddy… Ebeneezer Scrooge!

Which, as I recall, I totally rocked the part back when I was a thespian in eighth grade.

Bah humbug was my destiny. Though in today’s vernacular, it’s more like “Meh, whatevs”

Though, in an effort to balance the depressing soul searching of my last couple posts with a bright spot, the one thing about that performance (which I really don’t recall much) is that on opening night my father showed up.

Sneaky bastard.

I was overjoyed that he would take the time, and the effort to fly up from California to see my show. I remember running to hug him in a very un-scrooge-like way. (Though … to be fair… it was at the end of the show, and the Scrooge of Christmas morning would do just such a thing.)

In a way, these posts of mine are a bit like what Dicken’s wrote about in A Christmas Carol. That we need, sometimes, a season of self-examination, a period to purge the ghosts of our past, present, and maybe our future. To determine our path, and make sure we’re still on it. We need to watch out navigation points and make sure we’re heading where we need to go. Safely.

The other part I come by naturally, is a natural introversion. A supernatural ability to have inwards conversations, creating in my imagination the entire conversation I would have with another, and come to a conclusion based on my selfish assumptions, and never say a peep. This, of course, causes all kinds of problems with real life people that want to know what goes inside of my head, and what I’m really thinking. So while a wonderful super power, with all great powers comes great responsibility. I have to actually interact and talk with other people.

One of my father’s greatest hurts was his relationship with his father. My grandfather was a quiet man, as I remember. I think my father an I inherited our introverted super powers from him. My grandfather grew up with a father, and in a time, where effort wasn’t a goal, perfection was, and no amount of success would garner any kind of pat on the back. More often, as it was told to me, he’d get upbraided by exhortations to correct small mistakes, or silence. I think grandpa took this hurt and internalized it, and instead of reversing the trend, and engaging his son (my dad) with encouraging talk, he … fearfully perhaps … decided the best course was silence.

An aside: It is hard, and probably unfair to conduct psychoanalysis on the dead, particularly when I have no formal training. So let me repeat, I love my family and my grandfather and my father… deeply. This foray into meaning is self-serving, in that I don’t wish to continue the generational curse of tight lips and sealed emotions.

My grandfather’s silence was pervasive. And while he didn’t vocally admonish my father, that I know of, instead enveloped in a circle of silence, which absent of the context and a revelation of his thoughts, is just as damning to a child that looks up to his father. Silence can be brutal, as much as critical thoughts and words can flay.

My father, never heard his father say, “I love you.”

.

.

.

My father to his credit said it early and often. I never doubted that he loved me, his words, and his actions on balance always relayed that he cared, deeply, for his children. I heard my dad say those three words with eight letters countless times.

He too was introverted, which isn’t a bad thing, it is something to understand. Thoughts, for us, get clogged up in our brain, as our creative minds stream through a path of a conversation faster than words can be formed on the tongue. Assumptions made, and conclusions drawn, and then conversation, before it is even started had been altered.

The other thing, us Stueve men share is a soft heart that never wishes to cause pain to someone we love. Like my grandfather, we think, sometimes, that an unspoken word will be less painful that a misspoken word. When our words or deeds do cause pain, we retreat, physically, emotionally, audibly into the silent hell of our own minds. Re-playing the misstep, re-winding the tape, wishing to unspeak, or undo what our instinctive actions or words have wrought.

This only exacerbates the introversion, clutters our thoughts with regret, and builds up those dusty rooms that are too dark and grimy to process the emotions we feel so deeply on the inside.

Meh, Whatevs.

Isn’t that a bit of the darkness of A Christmas Carol, pre-tossing up the shutters, throwing open the sash and flipping a coin down so the boy could buy the biggest turkey there is? This trapped isolation of Ebeneezer that found solace in his dark room, his cold bed, alone with is thoughts, and alone – period.

Thank the ghost of Marley, and his entourage of timey-wimey ghosts that Scrooge was able to see what damage such behavior does. That he could twist his path, realign his markers and forge forward in the bright light of Christ-mas.

See, Christ doesn’t want us to suffer silently in the darkness, He came, became man, to live with us, while we were still sinners. He muddied himself in human flesh to kick the top off the lamp cover and show us what it means to LOVE.

John the Apostle, in his older years, distilled Jesus’ message to this, “Little children, love one another.” Five words, twenty-eight letters. Is it that hard to remember?

I need to exhort myself, that the greatest act of love is exposing myself to those I love and care for. Even if it scares me, even if it might cause pain, even if it makes me cry. Even if THEY cry. I have to be real, I have to get out of my head, I have to LOVE.

That is the bright Christ-mas morning. The sun-shining next day, after the dark night, where we can all say, “God bless us, everyone.”

Categories: Faith, Learning, Life Tags:

No mas

December 11th, 2013 1 comment

Did you know that Roberto Duran claims he never said, “No mas!”?

I remember watching that fight. I remember Sugar Ray swinging the bolo punch, and knowing I’d probably fall for it, despite ample practice from my Papa Stan. I always end up looking at the distraction, the shiny thing, the new fancy.

I know I talked about grinchiness last blog post, but did you see my word play in saying “I need Christ-mas?”

I meant not only Christ’s Mass for the Eucharistic celebration associated with this time of year, where Christian’s partake in communion (what this Protestant grew up calling the consumption of the sacramental body and blood of Christ), but also how Roberto Duran meant it when he threw up his hands and stopped the fight. (They say it was from stomach cramps, but looking back, I think he just got tired of looking at Sugar Ray make silly faces…).

I need MORE Christ. In this season of celebration, whether it be of new moons, the turning of the season, the remembrance of a cold night in a full inn’s stable. I need to fill my life with more of Christ. His words, His love, His mercy and grace.

Last night, I paused. I stood looking at my house, my family room. Decorated for the season by Angie, and reveled in the feeling of security and care that her hard work left me with.

In the last month, the whole family has worked hard to transform a room. A room that had been dusty and discarded. A junk room that had no real purpose. A room where the dogs would go when it was raining outside, or we wouldn’t respond to their cues that it was time to make water, and use that room instead. It was a garbage dump, truly. We changed that, working together as a team, removing the junk, donating some, tossing more. We covered the drab walls with a fresh coat of paint. We removed the stained carpet and put down fresh hard floors. It is truly cleaned out. Ready to be lived in, and cared for.

Although I’ve been a confessing Christian for most of my 45 years, there are still rooms in my heart that are like that room used to be. Full of garbage and dust. Closed off. Shut down. Ignored. Not fit to be lived in.

Sometimes I open them up, and play in the dirt and grime. Then close up the door, still not willing to do the work of cleaning out the mess I’ve stored. The emotions I dare not expose, the darkness that needs the disinfectant of light and life.

I cannot do that alone. I need a helper, The Helper. I need to open the door to Christ’s love and let him help me empty those dark parts. Clean them out and let me live in them again.

So I say, “No mas!” to closed doors, to shame and grief. I say Christ-mas to the changes he needs to make in me.

Merry X-mas.

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