Best Christmas ever…so far

Like a good play, life has acts. Act one is the “kid” years. Act two is typically those middle years when many go off to college, experience independence, get married and start families.

For me, the second act has been much longer than I had anticipated.

When we assess our lives and our experiences, we do so in some form of context. I had a good childhood. Great memories. I never was left wanting for anything. Well, there were the times I wanted bikes and cars when Santa didn’t exactly come through, but I now understand that those things were not always what I truly needed. Understanding the difference between what we want and what we need comes with maturity.

As I am now in Act 3 of my life, the gap between my needs and wants has narrowed. The things that mean most to me are not even things. The best gifts I was given this year didn’t have price tags on them. The elements that made this the best Christmas ever were linked to tears and smiles that came from expressions of the heart.

I received two priceless gifts this Christmas. In chronological order, the first was a journal. It is a prayer journal Sarah-Jane started on October 25th, 2013. My mom’s birthday. As I opened it to the inside cover, she had attached a closeup photograph of my mother on the right hand page. On the inside cover, opposite her picture, Sarah wrote her first prayer for the journal. She expressed her desire to take the baton from my mom, and accept the role as the one who would pray for me, as my mom had until she died.

It took me five minutes to get past the inside cover of the journal.

The journal is an ongoing, never-ending work. So I will have to surrender it back to her before I return to California. I absolutely can’t wait to read it all over again, as well as the new installments that will await when I get to see it again in February when she comes to visit me in California.

Scrapbook

The second gift was equally touching. She created a scrapbook of our story. The very first page included wonderful details that brought us together. The book is filled with sentimental thoughts, pictures, notes and keepsakes. It was so amazing to see us through her eyes and heart.

There is nothing she could have bought me that could have meant more to me, that would have touched my heart as deeply as these two gifts. She just gets me. She knows how I think. She knows what touches my heart. God knows every detail about us, and places just the right person in our lives who knows how to love, respect and feed those parts that make us who we are.

I’m thankful that things aren’t as important to me as they once were. I’m thankful that sacrificially blessing others, speaking into their lives, sharing your heart, and thoughtful expressions of love and appreciation are the things that will span the test of time. No assembly or batteries are necessary.

This has simply been the best Christmas ever. So far.

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What Christmas is ALL about – One Solitary Life

One Solitary Life By James A. Francis 

He was born in an obscure village the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never had a family.
He never owned a house.
He never went to college.
He never visited a big city.

He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born.

He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials but Himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.

He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

While He was dying His executioners gambled for His clothing, the only property He had on earth.

When He was dead He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today Jesus is the central figure of the human race, the leader of mankind’s progress.Nativity

All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that have ever reigned put together

Have not affected the life of mankind on this earth as much as that one solitary life.

Merry Christmas from my family, to yours.

~Corey

Christmas, Duck Dynasty and Gay Marriage

For a few weeks now, I’ve been seriously contemplating writing about today’s politically “correct” environment and how it has affected some of the most wonderful things in our culture, such as Christmas. As I’ve thought about it over the past few weeks, I just haven’t had, or taken the time to sit down at the computer and write it out.

Then the recent “controversy” with Phil Robertson, of the TV show Duck Dynasty, hit the news.

My original premise to the post I intended to write was about how thankful I am for those I consider friends, especially those who don’t agree with me in the areas that are lifestyle sensitive. Again, I’ve been thinking about this for weeks. Two days ago, just hours before I caught a flight to New England from California, I bumped into a good friend of mine. She happens to be a lesbian. We shared a hug and chatted for a few minutes. We each were up against the clock, so we couldn’t talk long. I was about to run into the Sam’s Club, from which she was just leaving. She mentioned to me that her partner was working inside the store. As I was going about my business in the store, I bumped into her, and we enjoyed a fun, brief conversation.

While my friends and I do not agree on the topic of gay marriage, each with our own reasons that are very personal and deep, we are still friends. In fact, we find there is much more we share in common than that one topic in which we differ. I’m thankful to have friends who can receive and give respect even when the topic is personal and a cultural lighting rod.

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan, recently conducted an interview for a magazine I will not dignify by identifying it in my blog. During the course of the conversation, they predictably baited him by bringing up the topic of homosexuality…as if they didn’t know his position on the topic. His response was to paraphrase the bible, as well as share his own personal preference. Upon doing so, the network on which Duck Dynasty is broadcast has put him on “indefinite hiatus”.

I’m all for spirited debate. But when did we become a society that punishes people for talking about the values by which they live?

voltaire-as-bad-jew

Again, I’m thankful for the maturity in the friendships I have. My friends understand that I am a Christian, and I consider the bible to be the inspired Word of God. My friends also believe in God and have good families. We are also Americans who believe that the Constitution is the law of the land. This includes the First Amendment, which applies to all of us. Well, at least it’s supposed to.

When did we become a culture that wishes to silence those for their religious beliefs? Even the atheist groups that are purposefully out to offend Christians, particularly at this time of the year, have the right to their opinions. Since when did Christianity, and those with opinions and values that echo biblical standards become anathema?

I wish our society was more like my friends.

Life language

Several years ago, a book was released that talked about Love Languages. It’s basically a different way of looking at personality profiles and their compatibility, or lack thereof, in a romantic relationship.

I’m writing this from Sarah-Jane’s dining room table in Rhode Island. We have shared a wonderful week together, celebrating Thanksgiving and so much more. My plane back to California leaves on Tuesday afternoon. With that in the back of our minds, we spent some time today just talking about life and things we find unique in our relationship as compared to past experiences. In a moment of inspiration, I said, “you don’t realize you have your own unique language until you meet someone who speaks it fluently, like no one ever has.”

Yes, we all speak English. We may use phrases or expressions that may be unique due to geographic regions, generations, or some other organic influence. For instance, after spending time in Rhode Island, I now know what a “bubbler” is! Our life experiences, together with our emotions, personality and intellect, work together to create a unique ‘life language’, or at least dialect, that others may or may not understand. Many don’t understand us at all, as if we were from another planet. But every now and then, someone comes in to your life who already knows it completely and speaks it fluently.

IMG_0519That’s not to say two people have the exact same experiences. It’s to say that things in my life have prepared me to understand the things that she has experienced and have shaped her into who she is. And the same is true in reverse. It is amazing when you can simply talk and listen to someone who just “gets it”. 

It’s an awe-inspiring moment of individuality when we think about the fact that we all have a unique fingerprint from anyone else who ever lived. But how much more is it when we realize we all have our own experiences that distinguish us from even those who have known us all our lives. My parents raised me, but they haven’t had all the experiences I had. They couldn’t possibly have felt all that I felt in going through them. Conversely, I can’t know all of their experiences and how they were affected by them.

So many people get themselves into relationships based on superficial qualities. These qualities aren’t necessarily unimportant, but they’re not a foundation upon which a healthy, successful relationship can be built. We must be able to talk and share openly, and to be understood beyond a mere intellectual connection. Our life experiences teach us lessons that will serve us later in life. Not only in our own lives, but to be beneficial in the lives of others. Particularly those with whom we share our lives.

I don’t think I realized how unique my language was until I came across someone who speaks and understands it so innately. Gone are the attempts to find the right words to help someone wrap their heads around what I’m trying to convey. It’s more like just throwing it out there with the full confidence that no further explanation, pantomiming or analogies are necessary.