3 Ways to Be a Christmas Blessing

As we gather to see friends and family this weekend, I wonder how we might be a true blessing.  I’ve spent too many holidays easily offended, moody, exhausted, irritable, judgmental, and negative.  I’ve spent too many holidays thinking of myself and my own needs.

Since action flows from belief, I’ve fashioned 3 tips to help me be a blessing

1.  Believe I’m on assignment from God to bless and encourage through words, gifts, and prayer.  Ask God to show me where, who, when, and how to bless. 

2.  Believe the best about everyone.  Assume pure motives.  Imagine the highest good about others instead of judging, criticizing, and complaining.  I forgive and release bitterness when I ask God to help me see the best in others. 

3.  Believe other people have extraordinary things to teach me. I ask God to make me humble, teachable, and amazed by others. 

We believe we have a Christmas mission.  We believe the best.  We believe in the capacity of every soul to teach us.

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Do you have a tip for being a Christmas blessing?

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Even the Toilet

This morning, I read Emily Dickinson:

The only news I know
Is bulletins all day
From immortality

I’m on the look out all day for heaven’s news: inklings, whispers, hints. 

Here, we clean toilets and scrub dried egg from the breakfast dishes. I have nothing to report but that heaven reaches down into even the toilet, even the dried egg.  Immanuel–God with us–even here.   Is there a better story anywhere?  That’s the only real news I know. 
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Do you see whispers of God in the ordinary cleaning day? 

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Thundersnow Really Happens

Today, my husband remarks that we might get thundersnow this week.

“You’re making that up,” I laugh.  “What in the world is thundersnow?”

“When you get a thunderstorm, but instead of rain, it snows. It’s a real thing.  Thundersnow.  David the meteorologist told me.”

All day, I think about this phenomenon.  I imagine the colossal boom and roar of thunder coupled with the dainty, delicate fluff of snowfall that melts and dissolves on my fingertips.  I’m laughing just imagining it.  I want to race out into the fear and terror and find the gentle wonder of snow falling all around me.  

The shout of thunder and the silence of snow come all at once.

Is God like this?  A beautiful thundersnow of contradiction?   A sublime moment of daunting delight? We laugh and dance about in the fragile flakes, even as a storm’s voice echoes. 

When that baby came to the manger, surely, it thundersnowed. 

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Have you ever been in a thundersnow storm?

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I Refuse to Wear My Coat

Every single winter, my daughter insists she doesn’t need to wear her winter coat.  You’d be amazed at the resistance to outerwear from the children in my family. 

Today, I decide to just let her go.  She rushes outside in a tank top, shoes with no socks, and a flimsy sweater.  There’s snow on the ground from flurries; it’s that cold.  “See!  I told you I didn’t need a coat!  I’m fine!  I’m fine!”

A few minutes later, she returns to me, freezing.  

Does God just let me go sometimes so I finally feel the effects of my own wandering?  He stands there by the door, coat in hand, waiting for me to feel it and return.

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Why don’t children want to wear that winter coat?

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What Children Love Best About Making Christmas Cookies

I decide to ask my children what part of making Christmas cookies they enjoy the best.  It occurs to me that it’s a good idea to get their perspective every once in a while.  Do you remember when I returned from our glamorous New York City trip and asked my children to recall their favorite memory?

It was the amazing birds.  Feeding the birds.  Not the fancy restaurants, shopping, huge buildings, or museums.

Maybe my children don’t even enjoy all this fuss about Christmas cookies.  Maybe we should forget the whole thing.  

“What was your favorite part about today?” I ask.  I’m wiping flour from my face, removing sprinkles from my shoes, and scraping dried frosting from the counter.  The food coloring spilled everywhere just drives me crazy.  Next year, I’m going to prepare all the colored frosting bowls myself and make neat little stations for them to frost and decorate cookies.  Next year, I will not let little children anywhere near the food coloring.

“My favorite part,” my daughter cheerfully answers, “was definitely the food coloring.  We got to make all those colors!” 

Noted.

Living with flair means we recognize that the very thing we can’t stand might be the thing they love. 

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What thing do children love and remember that adults tend to not want to bother with?

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Waking Up to Cat Breath

This morning, my cat who looks more like a skunk wakes me up with very loud purring.  She’s right in my face, purring with that horrible cat-breath.  I’m not moving, so she puts one little paw on my nose.  Purr, purr, purr. 

I pet her and lean in to figure out the source of her purring.  The purring mechanism confuses even the most intelligent of scientists; nobody can discover how a cat actually purrs.  It just seems to happen.  It’s not even daylight yet, and already I’m encountering mystery.  How do you purr, little cat?

We don’t know how they purr, but we hypothesize why.  I read that cats purr for three reasons:  happiness, friendship, and intention.   They purr to communicate contentment and relaxation.  They purr as a sign of offering friendship.  Finally, they purr to express a specific request or intention (feed me, love me). 

What if my communication today rose up from a deep mysterious place of good tidings?  What if my sounds offered to the world around me today, even from daybreak, expressed happiness, friendship, and clear, good intentions?

Consider the mysterious cat.  I approach you purring, pouring out happiness, friendship, and good intention.

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Just so dogs don’t feel left out today (hello, Roberta!), I wanted to leave you with the quote, “Wag more, bark less.”  For cats, it’s “purr more, hiss less.”  I’m asking God to help me turn from hiss to purr today. 

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Is There Such a Thing?

Today, my friend tells me I have the spiritual gift of “celebration.” Is there such a thing?  There must be!  Living with Flair has been my 632 day journey to celebrate the day.  It never gets old for me. 

Lord, help me continue to celebrate! 

I want to remember to celebrate when I have long, boring days of work and chores and sadness and disappointment.  There’s something  or someone to celebrate here.  There’s something to dance a jig about, slap a high-five for, squeal-with-my-hands-over-my-mouth for, perform little jumps in the air for, grab-my-friend’s-shoulders-and-jiggle-and-jump-and-kiss-on-the-cheek about, pump my fist over, whoop and holler about, turn a cartwheel for, sing the Hallelujah chorus over, write a blog about. . . 

You get the idea.  Living with flair means we’re gonna celebrate.  There’s always something–or better yet, Someone–to celebrate.  It might be anything–large or small, obvious or hidden–that’s just waiting for us to observe and cheer over.   Woo-hoo!  Yahoo!  Yeah! 

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Do you have something to celebrate today?

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The Dangers of Blogging: Some Things Are Just For Now

I think it’s sometimes hard to have a blogger for a spouse.  We’re tempted to think about family events in terms of blog entries instead of just experiencing them. 

We’re driving down a country road, and the moon hangs low and buttery yellow in the deep black of night.  “Pull off the road!” I cry.  “I want to photograph it!”

He pulls off into the dirt of a farm, and I roll down the window to try to capture the moon.

You can’t do it; the moon never photographs well, at least with the kind of camera I have.  I look out at that moon and wish I had a record.  I wish I had the film to prove it, to share it. 

He holds my hand and says, “Some things are just for now.” 

Some things, I learn, you don’t need to always blog about.  You don’t need to capture them at all.  They are just for now. 

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If you’re a blogger, do you find that you start evaluating your day based on what would make a good blog instead of just living it?

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Good Choice!

While out to lunch with a friend, I order nachos (boring, I know).  The waiter responds with a huge smile and exclaims, “Good choice!”  When I add some guacamole, he cries, “You go, girl!”  When I order iced-tea, he sounds equally enthused about my excellent choices.  When my friend orders her sandwich, he compliments her on her fine taste:  “Good choice!” 

We find ourselves laughing and loving his enthusiasm about what great choices we’ve made. 

“I obviously don’t get enough affirmation,” I say to my friend.  “I think I need people telling me I’ve made good choices more often!” 

It feels so good just to have someone, even a complete stranger, affirm that I’ve made a good choice.

How simple to have someone affirm a choice!  I realize this:  As a wife, mother, friend, and teacher, I make what seems like a million choices a day. Nobody sees them; nobody affirms them.  What if they did?   I want to affirm today all those choices we make in any given hour and say, “Good choice!” 

I’m sure you’ve made many choices today.  Good choice!  I’m glad you chose that. 

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Did you make a good choice today? 

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Only You

Today, I recall the First Lady’s quote, “I can only be Michelle Obama.”  She doesn’t try to be anybody else.  

The statement resonates. I can only be me. Why would I try to be somebody else?

The me I am is the me people love. 

When we’re trying to impress at holiday parties or when meeting up with old friends and family, just remember this:  The you you are is the you we love.  We don’t need impressive, thin, wealthy, salon-made, well-rested, designer-dressed, or even clever.

We love you:  the quirky, complex, out-of-sorts, moody, restless, down-to-earth, a little plump you.  (Oh wait, that’s me!)

We love that extraordinary you. 

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Doesn’t it just feel free to say, “I can only be me”?

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