This writer’s early Letter to Santa

santa_claus_letter

Dear Santa,

I know it’s early, but I’ve noticed  the Christmas trees and the Halloween pumpkins are already competing for aisle space at the local Walmart. I’m sure you’ll be swamped this year filling stockings. Heaven forbid you have to stand in line on a Black Friday because your elves didn’t make their quota. The North Pole may melt before you make it back to load the sleigh.

So, I’m getting my list in early. You know I’m a writer, but I’m not asking for books or pens or laptops this year. I want something to elevate my mood, to entertain my Inner Child. It’s awfully hard for the writer to write when the writer has a bad case of the blues or the blahs.

So, if you don’t mind, could you please ask your elves to set aside these five things  just for me. I’ve been really good this year–except for the time I backed into the mail truck and all the times I got in trouble for not turning in my attendance on time. Other than that, I don’t think I’m on your naughty list. So here goes. You can start packing now. (Well, let me rephrase that. Maybe you’d better leave the Daisy Red Rider with Mrs. Santa and stay out of the malls.)

My List

I want PURPOSE. Michael W. Smith told me during one of our interviews that teenagers need a place to “plug in.” Smitty was right. We all need a place to “plug in,” a place to feel as though that’s where we belong. Right now I have a music studio that gives me a sense of purpose, a place to “plug in.” I hope I can keep it, and I hope it gives others a place to plug in as well. There are a lot of stage moms and dads out there who want their children to become stars. I don’t want that, Santa. I can’t make anyone a star. I just want a place where kids, from ages 9 to 99, can find their purpose . I know how it feels to be “disconnected.” I worked with teens in church settings for years. However, when we moved to a larger church, I lost my purpose because I didn’t feel needed. I kind of got bumped out of the jobs I used to do. I want to be needed. I want to have purpose. I want to help other people have purpose too.

I want TRUST. All people need security in their lives. I need security in mine. I feel secure when I know I can trust the people around me. I want truth. Truth builds trust. I like it when people tell me the straight-up truth. I never ask anyone to spare my feelings. Spare the white lies. I trust people who aren’t afraid to tell me I’m doing something wrong. I trust people who aren’t afraid to tell me they are doing something that might upset me.

I want LAUGHTER. Here’s a secret. I think you’ve done a pretty good job in the past with this request. I’ve had a lot of students in my class who have made me laugh. Please don’t stop sending me those people, in my class, on my job, on the streets. Laughter is good medicine. I know a lot of teachers have a tough time with the class clowns, but those students usually end up being my favorites. Please don’t send me the ones whose humor belittles or whose humor is crude. I don’t like sight gags much either, and I don’t even want to talk about flatulence. That kind of humor just stinks. But word play, mild pranks, good natured teasing? I’ll take that.

FYI, some of my former students must have been special delivery gifts from you, dear Santa. They were a hoot–even though they drove me crazy. And yes, I have forgiven all of them for their shenanigans.

(By the way, thank you. Clark and Darrell, I forgive you for sticking my hall pass to the ceiling each day. Nick, I forgive you for leaving campus to “borrow” a backhoe to dig into the methane pockets surrounding our school. Hayley and the Ditzy Chicks, I forgive you for the utter chaos you conjured in Room 32. Tonya and the Couch Crew, I forgive you for delivering a couch to my classroom so that I could counsel you all on your many problems–you certainly had them. Amy, I forgive you for starting a dance party when I stepped out of the room. Juli, I forgive you for catapulting a stuffed groundhog at me as I walked through the door. Curtis, I forgive you and the others for hiding behind the lockers and leaving me a “Gone Fishing” note. Emily and Ashleigh, I forgive you for “rolling” my room and getting me in trouble with the principal on Halloween. You meant no harm.)

Any person who wants to win my heart just has to make me smile. I’m a sucker for the kid who never grows up.

I want DEPTH. God gave me a pretty good brain. It’s creative. I don’t want to dull it through countless hours of watching TV. I want to think, I want to create, I want to discover. So, Santa, please wrap up some opportunities for me to write songs that mean something, to explore new places–Ireland perhaps, to read words that inspire and challenge, and to talk with people who can communicate with me on my level.

I want LOVE. I know, I know, Santa. Love is not in your department. And don’t send me to Cupid, either. True love comes from God. So if you can’t deliver love, I’ll take the next best thing–Starbucks. So, Santa Baby, you can slip a Starbucks gift card under my tree. I’ve been an awfully good girl.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE
One, two, three, ready, set, GO! It’s a proven fact that Santa stops at my blog first. Leave your Letter to Santa in the comments. Who knows? You may get exactly what you want.

WORDS OF WISDOM
If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.  ~ George MacDonald

What we are is God’s gift to us.  What we become is our gift to God.  ~  Eleanor Powell

MUSIC NOTES
No more lives torn apart / That wars will never start / And time will heal our hearts / Every man will have a friend / That right will always win / And love will never end / This is my grown up Christmas List  ~  Monica

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCf2PoTuh4Q

http://theboot.com/blake-shelton-god-gave-me-you-lyrics/

FINAL THOUGHT

GIFT

Merry Christmas 2011

Last January I wanted to find the perfect snow day picture. I think I came pretty close. The barn and the trees covered with snow paint a picture of peace and serenity.

I wanted to write the perfect Christmas blog, but I couldn’t find the perfect words. These will have to do.

A couple of days ago I made a quick trip to a convenience store to buy some cleaning supplies. I couldn’t tell if the woman in front was older or younger than me, but her eyes told me she had lived a hard life.

I was in a hurry, but the lady wanted to talk. “Today has been a bad day,” she said to the cashier. The cashier said nothing but scanned and bagged the items.

“My mother died today.”

All of a sudden it didn’t matter to me that I was in a hurry. The cashier looked up with empathy and muttered, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

I knew I had to say something. I felt this woman’s pain even though we had never met before. I told her my parents had died recently and that I was so, so sorry that she had to go through such a difficult time. I didn’t have anything else to offer her except a sincere heart that said I cared.

“Yeah, no one’s ever died on me,” she said. We stared at each other for a few seconds. I just kept telling her I was so sorry. Then the cashier handed the woman her bag. The woman and I looked at each other again, but I was out of words. My heart hurt for her.

“Merry Christmas,” she said and walked out the door. I never saw her again.

I believe with all my heart that people’s paths cross for a reason. Some people call it divine appointments. God lets me call it serendipity. I hope that my simple, imperfect words comforted the lady who had just lost her mother. She needed to tell someone. I didn’t do much, but I was there. All I had to offer was a sincere heart.

The last blog I wrote was all about my obsession for shopping, but the truth is material things really mean nothing to me. I wrote the blog because it seems everywhere I turn everyone seems so perfect, especially at Christmas.

People throw on their cloaks of piety and perfection and mask their true natures. They give handouts of grace and mercy to the unfortunate. Once Christmas is over, however, they take off their cloaks and then wrap themselves in self righteousness. The grace and mercy go back in the attic until next season.

The most important gift anyone can receive at Christmas or any other time is love, specifically Christ’s love, but nonbelievers turn away from the gift because they don’t feel worthy of receiving it.

I don’t know about you, but people who demand perfection make me uncomfortable. Sometimes believers come across that way. I hope no one thinks I think I’m perfect. I am far, far from the target.

But what I do know is that God loves imperfect people, and He can make the impossible happen. Even when we make bad decisions, He can choreograph life so that we can get back on track and be happy again.

I always wanted to be a writer, but teaching wasn’t my original plan. Yet through teaching I have met my audience, the teens for whom I want to write, and I have learned from them, and I’ve learned to love them.

Christmas day is coming to a close, and I still haven’t found the perfect words. I simply am not perfect. I don’t say the perfect thing at the perfect time, but God has given me this heart that loves like crazy.

So that’s it, all I have to offer, just a few imperfect words and a very sincere heart.

Merry Christmas.

Thanksgiving prayer

 

FREE

FREEBIE! FREEBIE! I’m giving away a Christmas edition of Chicken Soup for the Soup. And my first Chicken Soup for the Soul story is in it! You have a chance to win. All you have to do is (1) be a subscriber to this blog and (2) leave a comment. What are you thankful for? You have until November 30 to add your comment. I’ll post the winner’s name in the December 1 blog. I’m thankful that you’re willing to take time to visit my blog.

It’s well after 2 A.M., so technically Thanksgiving has arrived. Of course, it’s never to early to give thanks. Most of us give thanks daily for the blessings in our lives, our family, friends, our jobs, our talents, etc.

But tonight—this morning—what I’m most thankful for is what I have never seen—what’s on the other side of “the” line. I have no doubt that in my lifetime I’ve teetered on “the” line. We all have. I just don’t know what to call that line.

It’s the line that separates “all is well” from “nothing will ever be the same.”

The first near disaster I can remember was when I was in elementary school. Only one other person in the world knows this story, and I’m ashamed I have this story to tell.

I grew up with no brothers or sisters, and the little boy who lived across the street from me was the closest thing I had to a brother. One day we were snooping around a neighbor’s garage and found these odd bottles that had been hidden away. Nobody knew we had found these bottles. I had never seen bottles like these. We didn’t have anything like them at my house.

The funny thing about these bottles is that most of them were empty, but a few of them still had a liquid in them, and this liquid smelled funny and strong. Very strong. I’m pretty sure these bottles had a man’s name on the front. Jack, maybe. Or George.

We took these bottles to my garage, which was detached from the house, and we decided to perform a chemistry experiment, not that we knew what chemistry was back then. We were probably around six or seven years old at the time.

We put these bottles in a garbage can and dropped matches in them. WHOOSH! The more liquid in the bottle, the bigger the flame. And what pretty colors. (I’ve always had this thing about fire.)

It wasn’t until I was grown that I realized just how close we probably were to burning down the garage. My dad always kept his gas for the lawn mower in a round can just above the old garbage can where we were shooting flames. And turpentine. And probably a dozen other flammable liquids.

The only thing that stopped us is we spotted the fire marshal, driving by in his red car. We were sure he was out to get us, so we hid out the rest of the day.

Oh, how thankful I am that I don’t know how close I’ve come to going over “the” line.

Last year my family and I were returning home from Franklin one night, and our truck hit a patch of black ice on the interstate. Without warning, our truck went totally out of control and started sliding sideways toward the median. We came so close. If we had driven off the road, I have no doubt we would have flipped and landed in on-coming traffic. But we’ll never know how close we came to crossing “the” line. I’m so thankful.

A few years ago we traveled out west and crossed the border into Juarez. We stepped off the bus at the wrong stop and found ourselves wandering around clueless that the city was notorious for its drug wars and murders. We were happy go lucky, admiring the sites. But God sent a young man name Chuy to take us where we needed to be. We naively hopped in his van, and off we went.

Was he really honest? Did he have ulterior motives? Did something change his plans? Were we ever in danger? We’ll never know. I’m so thankful. (And just as we were returning to El Paso, they closed the bridge, and we were detained due to a terrorist threat. What might have happened had we boarded the bus? We’ll never know.)

I carry a chilling memory from my college days. I remember heading for the campus bookstore, not a care in the world. Just as I was about to enter, a boy called me by name. I approached him, and we talked. I had never seen him before in my life. But he seemed to know everything about me—my family, my interests, all sorts of unusual things a person wouldn’t expect a stranger to know. I asked the boy to identify himself, but I didn’t recognize his name as a friend or acquaintance.

It wasn’t very long after our strange encounter that I heard this boy’s name in the news. He was a perpetrator in a homicide-suicide, involving a young woman. How did this boy know my name? Why did he stop me as I was walking in the bookstore? I will never know. I’m so thankful I don’t know.

So often we are delayed in traffic. A phone call keeps us from walking out the door. Why? We may never know. Perhaps we entertain angels unaware. Or perhaps God sends his angels to snatch us back to safety as we put one foot over the line.

Several years ago my mother became very, very ill at Thanksgiving. I don’t know how close we came to losing her. She spent some time on a breathing machine. All I know is that I’m glad Jesus spared us from crossing that line.

Holidays can be very difficult, especially for those who have recently lost love ones or who have suffered life-changing events. Let us remember to give thanks both for giving us blessings and for sparing us from unseen sorrows and evils. Are there people in your life who need your prayers?  Are they close to crossing “the” line and not even aware? We may never know.

Dear Lord, it is my prayer that you will put a hedge of protection around all the readers who visit this blog. Please bless them and keep them safe throughout the holidays. I thank you for sending Jesus to save us from our sins. It is in His name, I pray. Amen.