The Twelve Days of (an introverted) Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…A cup of coffee and a good book.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…A two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…FIVE HOURS of SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Eight classical CD’s, seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Nine glasses of red wine, eight classical CD’s, seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE! Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Ten favorite authors, nine glasses of red wine, eight classical CD’s, seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Eleven fabulous bubble baths, ten favorite authors, nine glasses of red wine, eight classical CD’s, seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Twelve brand new journals, eleven fabulous bubble baths, ten favorite authors, nine glasses of red wine, eight classical CD’s, seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a CUP OF COFFEE AND A GOOD BOOK.

 

 

I am not the brave one.

“My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage.”

I ran across this quote sometime last week.  It struck me so forcefully that I immediately made it my Facebook status…and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

I am not the brave one.  I don’t take risks.  I have a soul-gripping fear of the unknown, and it doesn’t have to be the “great” unknown.  Shopping at an unfamiliar grocery store is enough to raise my anxiety levels.  People say “Oh!  You’re so brave to live where you do!”  I am here to dispel the myth.  No bravery.  Not even a squeak.  I am one of five children, and all four of my siblings will tell you that I’m not the brave one.  No taking risks.  Slow and steady.  And boring.

I don’t think I’m alone.  I think, in general, we live in a cowardly world.  And I don’t even think we realize it.  Stay with me here…

I am watching a report on CNN about a former bartender who has made it his mission to bring clean water to people all over the world.  I know his story–as in any industry, when you work with an NGO, you quickly get to know who the movers and shakers are.  He’s not a Christian, at least not that I can tell, but he’s got a huge heart for the people of this world and he’s out there making a difference.  He’s being brave.

As I was watching the story, I went to the CNN website to see if there was a print form.  I’m a words person, and I need to see them in print to get the full effect.  When I read a story like this, I always scroll through the comments.  The comment section is where the real test of humanity is in almost any situation.  I knew what I would see, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Behold…

Why? If you’re dumb enough to live in an area without water, move. Let natural selection take care of those who don’t.”

“You know 1 way to make sure there’s not a water shortage? Stop making so many babies.”

“I hate to be cold-hearted but the world doesn’t need every single person surviving. Not here, not there. We’re already overpopulating the planet…each day we march toward that time of critical mass when we will have overpopulated the planet and it will become a global war for resources.
People live in denial of this. It doesn’t make it any less true.”

“We, in America, live under the delusion that “all men are created equal”. This is absolutely nonsensical. We are not all created equal nor equal in any way. The idea is that we are all equal under the law but even that is not true.
People with intellect, skills and the ability to make the world better ARE more valuable than stupid people.”

I could go on, but you get the picture.  These comments, and the hundreds of others along the same line of thinking, disturbed me greatly until I figured out that the missing piece is COURAGE.  We have become a people lacking the courage to do something about our world.  Instead, we’ve become NORMAL.  THAT is why the above quote has stuck with me this week.  Because I would consider myself to be a normal person.  And I don’t think I want to be.

We have lost our humanity.  We’ve lost that sense of “responsibility” for our fellow man.  And right now, some of you reading this are thinking “I have enough responsibility on my plate without worrying about anyone else.”  You’re right.  We all do.  We all have our responsibilities.  I have three children in college (apparently so that they can become the “smart” ones, and therefore deserving of life), and a child being educated at home with serious learning disabilities that will probably prevent him from ever going to college.  We have bills to pay.  Our parents are getting older.  We have responsibilities.  The problem is that they don’t end at our own front door.

Every year, about this time, people start choosing a word that they want to define the coming year.  Last year the ones that popped up the most seemed to gravitate toward feelings such as “joy”, “peace”, “harmony”…there is nothing inherently wrong with any of those.  Lord knows I crave peace like most women crave chocolate.  I do think that those words narrow the scope of our influence on the world to a very manageable level.

“I want to feel joy this year”

“I need peace in my life this year”

“I need harmony to reign in me this year”

The problem, as I see it, is that it stops there.  The words, and the feelings, are finite.  There isn’t anything beyond the feeling.

My word for the year is COURAGE.

“I want the COURAGE to see beyond my own front door, and to know that I have a responsibility to the people that I will encounter there.  I need the COURAGE to admit that it’s not all about me, and that I have been placed on this planet to make a difference.”

For someone with an anxiety problem, the above statements are panic-inducing.  So be it.  My thinking needs an overhaul.

You want to know what REALLY disturbed me about the comments that I read?  For a split second, I caught myself understanding where they were coming from.  Heaven help me, but I did.  And THAT simply cannot be.

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

If you would like to read the article that I was talking about (and the comments!) here is the link.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/06/world/cnnheroes-hendley-wine-to-water/index.html?hpt=hp_bn1

 

 

Showing up.

We did it.  Again.  Last week the Extreme Response staff, along with a team of 45 people from the US and Canada, and our dogs and cats and kids, gave about 8,000 people a little bit of Christmas.  Sometimes we refer to what we do as “being the hands and feet of Jesus.”  I have been known to use that quote, but I’ve never been entirely comfortable with it.  I did some digging (because clearly The Google knows what I am thinking better than I do) and found this quote, that sums it up beautifully.

“Being Jesus doesn’t mean that I am always at the center, always doing something, always making something spectacular happen. Being Jesus simply means that I show up to be “part of” something. Maybe being Jesus isn’t so much about making it happen as it is letting it happen.”

I haven’t read the book, although I intend to go find it for my Kindle when I’m done with this post.  I just love the words. The thought.  The idea that all I have to do is show up, and God already has it planned.
     80 people showed up last week to be part of something.  They brought their gifts to the “manger”, to be used as He saw fit.  Beanie babies, bouncy balls, toothbrushes, combs, hair clips, paper airplane kits…they tolerated my cooking, no water, no sleep, each other, our staff, fireworks at 3 in the morning, dogs barking, horns honking…and they did it all with a huge collective smile that made me excited to jump out of bed each morning and see what the day would bring.  This team is hands-down one of my all time favorite Christmas teams ever.
     I could ramble on here, but I know you all just want to see pictures, so here you go.  Merry Christmas!
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“Maybe being Jesus is simply seeing people as they truly are.”
Jim Palmer, Being Jesus in Nashville: Finding the Courage to Live Your Life