Drum Your Best For Him

Here are some of my favorite things, Drummer Boy style, because I just came in from the crowd and all the “stuff,” and for once, I’d like all of us to go back to that starry night and ask what good gifts we can bring to our King. By this I mean, how do we reflect his character in our giving? A few examples from the Givers in my life:

Miss Baker # 2: My little daughter hand-stitched this monkey for me after I told her the story of how I had lost my beloved Miss Baker on show and tell day when I was in elementary school. What is the root of this gift? LOVE.

My chandelier t-shirt: I found it at Goodwill while stocking my daughter up on books. Whoever donated it knew it was still in good shape, had good taste in unique fashion, and took the time to give it rather than toss it. Sometimes, all a person has to give is what they already own, and I’m not too proud to wear a second-hand shirt. The root of this gift was GENEROSITY.

My SpiderMan bookmark: My son, knowing how much I love to read, made this for me out of what he loved and treasured most—Spiderman gear and his new writing skills. He was learning how to write, and one of the first sentences he wrote without the prompting of a teacher or parent was, “Mome I lu yoo .” LOVE.

My black-pearl engagement ring: A beloved gift from my husband who was wise enough not to run out and buy this artist a gaudy “status ring.” Knowing our tastes were drastically different, he let me show him what I liked. Just something blue and lovely. LOVE and THOUGHTFULNESS.

The family desk: Passed down from a time far, far away, because it was built to last. GOOD CRAFTMANSHIP.

Encouraging words: from a few of my High School teachers who saw what I couldn’t see. I couldn’t touch the words, re-sell them or throw them away, because like the miracles that come from faith, they made a permanent impact.


(Here is a wonderful way to give, from the heart of a country that has too much stuff.)

Our best gifts to give come from the character of our King within us.

Christmas Love

My Grandparents had a simple little house, with sparse decoration and healthy accents of clutter. I think Grandma must have grown up with too little, because she often washed our clothes as soon as we stepped in the door as if they were our only outfits. We hung out in my Grandpa’s t-shirts until the house smelled of downy softness, and our clothes were ready for another day of play. That’s what we did mostly—ran around their expansive yard all day. That is where their wealth was. In the roses that smelled better than any perfume, on the swing placed in the shade of a giant cottonwood tree, and in the rows of vegetables—I can still taste those homegrown tomatoes, spilling down my chin and sliding into my stomach, forever spoiling me for garden freshness.

When we came inside for lunch, we were usually served something like ramen noodles. I thought it was the best meal ever. We ate over a basic laminate table, next to the glass doors where we could see their beautiful yard. There were usually a few piles of mail and Parade magazines strewn about the living room. I can’t pick up a newspaper today without thinking of those piles with the summer light washing them in home-style glory.20151221_084236

Mostly what I remember is the smell of laundry detergent and a whole lotta love. There was never a house redecoration, or new clothes for my grandparents—no brand names haunted them—only ghosts of the Great Depression dressed as frugality. Although they could have lived a little richer, Their values were of family and the spirit of God. No matter what I did, what I said or didn’t say, I always knew I was good enough for my grandparents.

This is the spirit of Christmas. It’s a reflection of Love coming into a dark world haunted by the things that hurt and the things that hide in piles not dealt with. But there’s a light coming in, washing all of us in home-style glory, because no matter how broken we are, no matter how much we mess up, there’s a Savior loving us anyway.

How to wrap a Christmas gift

Sometimes the most wonderful time of the year feels like living inside a mobile barrel of monkeys. It starts off a jolly good time until you realize it’s just a huge bucket of chaos. One monkey’s using your hair as a steering wheel, tugging you to every Black-Friday-Cyber-crazy-half-off-sale until you wonder how wonderful time became synonymous with stressful.

Don’t misunderstand, there is much joy in giving and gratitude in receiving, but what can we offer our circle of family and friends when the stress gets in the way of the heart of Christmas?

How do those who live paycheck to paycheck give generously?

Or for those who have a few more dollars, what can bless others that will mean more than the newest gadget or someone’s 200th DVD?

Hildreth has been coming to my mind a lot lately as I deal with the monkey barrel. prayercandlesShe lived in the Retirement Resort for a few years before she left us for Florida. She was one of the quietest, but her impression was one of the deepest. How many times she shared her dessert with me, I can’t count…how many times she kept me company after I dimmed the lights and waited inside the empty lobby for something or someone to need my attention…but it was mostly that time she invited me to her apartment that I saw her shine.

She had welcomed me inside so she could clean my wedding ring for me, but what a delight I found at her dining room table. She laughed when my smile spread the width of her apartment, and tried to brush off what I saw as a silly thing, but it wasn’t. I can still see inside her dimly-lit apartment, the teddy bears—one in each of her dining room chairs around her table—several were Victorian elegant, some fluffy, but they were all her family. She had flesh-and-blood family, her daughter Jane was just as sweet, but those bears filled the empty places when she was alone.

“They keep me company,” she said, and smiled as she escorted me into her bathroom. She dipped my ring into a tub of cleaner and talked about how it wonderfully it shined up her jewelry and didn’t it make my ring shine too?

“It sure does,” I said, but it wasn’t the ring as much as it was Hildreth. She shined, in her smile, in the way she made a family out of a collection of Teddy Bears, in the way she gave me all that she really wanted—company.

I have this monkey pounding on my head this year, steering me this way and that, demanding I drive it through blocks of politically-correct commerce. It’s annoying, demanding, and works hard to suck the joy out of all that’s wonderful.

I keep my memory of Hildreth in front of me and reach for the catalog on the buffet. That darn monkey is yanking on my hair and pointing toward that stores that won’t let its employees say Merry Christmas, but I turn my head away and look back to my own table. This is the only catalog that hasn’t found its way into the trash can. There are photos of babies. I can pay $9 and feed one of them for a week. There are shoeboxes I can fill with toys and toothbrushes that will be the only gift a child will get this year. I can give to our patriots, help build a school or a church—there is something for every income and I AM IN.

This is stable-love.

This is shaking those monkeys out of my life, the light coming from Hildreth, the Jesus the world needs to see.

This is Merry Christmas.

Wrapping it up

There she was, in white silken glory, engulfed in my wedding dress. The protective cedar bag lay ripped open on her bed and my little sweetie had collapsed in tears because the dress didn’t fit her. “Fix it, Mommy.”

After explaining the importance of waiting until she had grown up to fix it, she calmed down and gave me most of a smile for this photo.100_3206

So, like Chloe, I’m trying to make my own work-in-progress fit just right. Chapter 38 is about to be re-written for the third time, so the blog got neglected this week. I’m in the final chapters, though, and can’t wait to wrap it up in a beautiful, fully hemmed bow.

On the same Friday that I found my little girl in bridal froth, I write about The Bethlehem Star on Life Upside Down. You can read it here.

Happy gift-wrapping, crazy shopping, cookie baking week! See you next Monday!