In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day Update

I finally changed out of my pajama bottoms at 3:00 this afternoon.

I've eaten too much. I think that future Christmas food traditions should include more fruit. We are introducing "Christmas Mangos" and "Christmas Clementines". They sure help cut through the sugar, cookies, fudge, and bread.

I like my presents. I like my family. It looks like we are going to travel as a family again in 2007. I love travel, too!

It's a good Christmas.

Peace on Earth.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas From Lay Terms

I'm up in the great north woods, at my parent's house for Christmas. We've been cooking, talking, and playing. Today, I prepared to play music for a Christmas Eve worship service. It's family time, our first Christmas with my sister's new husband.

I like this time. The days are short, but it gives us more opportunity to shine our own lights. There is snow on the ground up here, so the night is crisp and cold.

I could spend a lot of time writing about what Christmas means to me, I think my friend, John, said it best.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tacky Christmas Lights

As a kid, we would drive around the town (it was a pretty small town) and look at everyone's Christmas decorations. It was a fun time. Now that I live in the big city, I have even more opportunity to go.

But I'm not looking for the same thing anymore.

Today, I seem to be the most amused at tacky light displays. There are two kinds that appeal to me most.

1. The house that looks like Santa threw up all over it. These people can't get enough lights, plastic figurines, and inflatable snow globes in their yard. There is a house like this very near my house. It's become a tradition to walk by and laugh at it. Sometimes, there Santa and a snowman help to adore baby Jesus. I like to count the Santa figurines. This house near mine has at least a dozen. You can tell when you are approaching, because the glow can be seen for a couple of blocks.

2. The half-assed approach. This is when you put a few strings of lights out, but one section of one line is blinking. I am highly amused to see one part of any light display blinking. Even better is when there are multiple sections blinking at totally different speeds. You wonder why people want their houses to look like this.

Now that I've ragged on "other" homes for their decorations, I'll confess that our house is not one that will make people drive out of their way. We have a string of lights along the top eve of the house. There is a smaller eve just above the door that also have a string of lights. That's it. Not much. I am also noticing that the second string of lights isn't hanging very straight, but I don't seem to want to do anything to fix it.

Of course, if I wanted to be REALLY creative, I would make a cool display like this:

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas Party Time

My other half and I hold a holiday party every year at our house. We've gotten pretty good at planning what we want to do. We used to stress about plans, but those have been set for some time now.

The last thing to do is the most unpleasant part. We need to clean our house.

I hate to clean the house.

I know that it must be done, but every time I "should" do it, I find something else to do. Well, we are down to the wire. The house must be cleaned tonight or tomorrow morning (the party starts in the afternoon). At a minimum, it needs to be vacuumed, bathroom scrubbed, and floors mopped. More probably should happen, but I'm doubtful that we'll be doing much more.

We really love to throw the party. We invite pretty much everyone we know. It's great open house-type event. But it is the time when cleaning NEEDS to happen. Ugh.

Here's hoping I have a little energy when I get home.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Birthday Meme

I've been waiting until now to do this. It's like those "Birthday Newspapers" drugstores sell.

The Rules:
1) Go to Wikipedia
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday
4) List two important birthdays and one death
5) One holiday or observance (if any)

The three events that happened on my birthday are:
1. 1492 - Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola.
2. 1955 - Martin Luther King, Jr. leads the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 12/5/1955-12/21/1956.
3. 1992 - Kent Conrad of North Dakota resigns his seat in the United States Senate and is sworn into the other seat from North Dakota, becoming the only US Senator ever to have held two seats on the same day.

Two important birthdays:
1. 1901 - Walt Disney, American animated film producer (d. 1966)
2. 1968 - Margaret Cho, American comedian and actress

And one death:
1. 1791 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer (b. 1756)

Holidays and observances
1. Thailand - The King's Birthday, National Day, Father's Day
2. Day of the Ninja

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Waning Hours of my 20s

My birthday is in a few short hours. Last year at this time, I was writing about how I only had one more year until I'm an adult. Now, the hour is nearly at hand.

Two days ago, I went to take a shower, and I looked at myself in the mirror. I thought that I looked different, somehow. I wasn't quite sure what it was, then I said it out loud. "I look like a 30 year old." And I am. A 30 year old.

I'm not one of those people that whines and cries about turning 30. I am thinking about a new chapter in my life. My 20s had some pretty rough times involved, so I have hope that my 30s will be fuller and more prosperous. There were also some highlights in my 20s. I can only imagine how much better my memories of my 30s will be.

When I turned 20, I had a professor in college who told me that he thought that turning 20 was depressing. I thought he was crazy (I still do). There was nothing depressing about turning 20, and there is nothing depressing about being 30. Depression can come at any age. So can bodily failure (as I've already learned).

Here's to turning 30!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I Love Advent Hymns

The title pretty much says it all. I think my favorite season of hymns is Advent. There is something with all the expectation in the lyrics. There is desire and longing. There is even the recognition that God is breaking into our lives now.

This morning, we sang the classic of Advent hymns: O Come, O Come Immanuel. This is probably the quintessential of Advent hymns. It has the hint of chanting. It calls on God in God's various forms.

Another, newer (to me) Advent hymn is All Earth Is Hopeful. This is in WOV. I love how this song flows along. One verse flows into the next.

Yet another minor song is Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. One Sunday morning, when I was a part of the traveling music ministry team, I improvised on this song for the hour between two worship services. It was an incredible feeling! It has kept a strong connection for me since that time.

Another fun, upbeat hymn is Hark, the Glad Sound! This one is perfect for a processional. It just demands marching.

I think that the hymnody helps to play into my feelings for Advent. The music can really set the expectant mood.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Deck the Halls with Cows and Collies

Today, we I pretty much got the house decorated for Christmas. We decided against doing a tree again this year, and I'm sort of glad for it. I miss a tree, but I don't want the work of putting up a tree, putting lights on it (the most dreaded of tasks), and the putting all the ornaments on it. I really just want to be done.

We have to do a little decorating, because we are having a party this next weekend. I decided that decorating would be a more fun task than cleaning the bathroom, so decorating has become a form of procrastination. There is still plenty to do before the party. I'll be working my tush off most of this week.

Anyway, back to the tree issue. In the past, we've had a real tree. My immediate family has never had a fake tree, and I don't know if I could handle a fake tree. I know, it would eliminate most of the issues with putting up and decorating (or at least make it faster). I even heard of one woman who put her fake tree, fully decorated into a closet. When December rolled around, she just pulled the tree out of the closet and plugged it in. To me, that's just tacky. Besides, I don't have the closet space for something like that.

I feel better about having no tree than about having a fake tree (even one that twinkles and sprays pine-sol scented gas out at you). So, we have no tree. We have some lights. We have a nativity scene. And we have our new favorite decoration.

Every year, the college where I work puts on Advent Vespers. It's their version of a Christmas concert, but set to be in the form of a "lessons and carols" worship service. Thus, they have a processional of about 100 people carrying those red, long, glass-covered candles. Every year, they throw out about half of their candles, because they are burned at least halfway. These are dangerous, because choir members will be grabbing the quickly, so they don't want to burn anyone's hands. This year, we claimed all of the leftover candles. We are going to use these candles to make our home festive.

I know that a few of you are thinking the we have replaced our tree with an even bigger fire hazard. But, if you look at the photo (this is not exactly what the candles look like, but it's the closest I could find on the web), you will see that the flame is quite contained. In fact, all of ours are at least halfway burned down, so the flame is safely inside the jar.

Viola! Our new Christmas look! Sans tree.

All My Spying on the Neighbors Is Paying Off

On Thursday, my other half and I came home from work/school to find our neighbor's car billowing smoke. Upon closer inspection (but not too close), we discovered that their car was actually on fire. Not engulfed in flames, but there were flames on the underside of the car. Even worse, there was a guy in the car, trying to rev the engine, probably to get it started. He didn't know about the flames under the car, but I'm sure he could see the smoke billowing from under the hood. The neighbors screamed and ran around a lot. I called 911 while my other half moved our van away from the flaming car. The neighbors decided that they should fill up buckets of water from their kitchen and throw the water on the engine of the know, to put out the fire.

Note to self: our neighbors will not be helpful in a crisis.

We live pretty close to a fire station, so a fire truck came by. The neighbors were still outside, so they dealt with the fire folks. The car is still sitting in the street in front of our house. I doubt it can even move. I'm waiting to see what our neighbors are going to do with the car. It's my fear that they will do nothing until the car is towed away by some other force.