May Your Christmas and 2016 Be Ever So Bright

The colors are cheerful pastels of blue, green, pink, purple and yellow with black outlines. The art looks like a ball ornament with the abstract image of baby Jesus in the center of a cup/crib under a manger/cross. Under the cup/crib are green and purple grapes and beside the crib are two green wheat stalks. A bright star shines above the baby with other stars encircling him.
This beautiful, bright Christmas art is called “Franciscan Trilogy: crib, cup, cross” by Margaret Lois Jansen, and is used with permission.  Check out Margaret’s creative gifts at www.smallsmallacts.com. The simple design captures the theologies of Incarnation and Redemption: the crib is also cup; Jesus is both baby and Host; and the Tau Cross is both manger and cross.

 

Dear readers,

Thanks to each of you who have read “There’s a Blog in My Eye” in 2015 and have sent encouraging words. I certainly desire to continue this writing journey with you in 2016.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A swirling spiral in the galaxy flares sparks of white, blue, and rusty hues in the black canopy of space. Photo from the Hubble Spacecraft Telescope.

It’s a Holy Moly Christmas!

IMG_2008It was time to take the two- and four-year-old girls for a little drive-by Christmas light viewing. The girls were in their carseats, oohing and aahhing over golden icicles, inflated snowmen and elves, multicolored lights cascading on evergreens.

Suddenly, the four-year-old looked out her window at someA little girl smiles through lit Advent candles with a bright Christmas tree shining behind her and a lit nativity carousal next to her. special wonders and yells: “Holy Moly!”

The two-year-old excitedly responds: “There’s a Holy Moly on my side too!”

May your Christmas have a little holy moly (on both sides of the car).

A toddler, in pink hoodie, stands at kitchen counter, pondering the wooden nativity carousel, lit with red candles.

If you need a breather from all the holiday rush, you could do no better than spending time viewing the Hubble Spacecraft’s snippets of our universe. These are some special Holy Molys! Here is a sample below with the link at: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/

A large spiral twists in the darkness with lights of blue, white and red.

 

Fantasy-like this star formation looks like a moving, jagged mountain of brown, orange, aqua, and purple. The hazy dark blue background sparkles with pricks of purple lightIt looked like a giant, electrical bow of orange, white, green, and pink, against a black sky with small white dots of light.

A sharp black and white image captures Saturn and its rings--an Angel's pearl.

Black photo with hundreds of dots of lights in white, orange, blue, and white.
Each of these sparkling lights in the above photo are galaxies. If you went outside and  held a sewing needle up to the sky, the amount of space you saw through the needle is what this photo captured.

 

African Violets, My Christmas Gift

My non blooming plant from Ginnie, hangs around with a red Poinsettia and a marble angel.
Ginnie’s non-blooming African Violet hangs out with a Poinsettia this Christmas.

Sparkly Ginnie Gaspar and I were together in a Cincinnati Christian writer’s group for about a decade. She was a generation older, but that didn’t matter. Everyone loved Ginnie. She had a generous nature, and she wasn’t one to waste time; she knitted during writer’s critique, and she gave away hundreds of African Violets.

Ginnie had late-blooming writing success. It didn’t happen until she had papered her bathroom walls with rejection letters.

Reared without church, Ginnie’s conversion to follow Jesus came when she was in her thirties. One night she watched a Billy Graham special on TV. During Graham’s commitment invitation, she got down on her knees. After that, she never doubted, finding a nearby church to learn about her Savior. Her husband Wayne, a WWII sailor, soon attended too.

Ginnie and I only connected at our monthly meetings, but once or twice a year she sent me a postcard to say she and Wayne prayed for my husband and me. Although she never met our son, Ginnie sent care packages to him while he was deployed in Iraq.

Here is the postcard she mailed to us and countless others:

Dear Cindy and Chuck,

This card to you came to the top of our prayer basket this morning. No doubt the Holy Spirit will remind us to pray for you and yours all day today. That is His way of reminding us of the times and moments we shared with you. One of the FullSizeRenderbest things about getting older is the way memories grow more vivid, real and precious. We quote the Apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesians….

“We never stop being grateful for you, as we mention you in our prayers. We ask the glorious Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you His Spirit. His Spirit will make you wise, and let you understand what it means to know God.” (Eph. 1:16-17)

FullSizeRenderLoving prayers,

Wayne and Ginnie

In 2009, Ginnie died of cancer at 86. While in hospice, she could hardly wait to get to heaven and asked the nurse how long it would take and was there any moral way to speed up the process. While she waited, she had family and friends read scripture to comfort her. It was stealth evangelism, because I think she knew the passages by heart.

Now here’s the strange Christmas twist to Ginnie’s and my story.

Ginnie consistently encouraged people to take her little African Violets as gifts. I refused: “Ginnie, if that plant comes to my house it will have a rough life.” She understood.

At Ginnie’s well-attended memorial service her family put out at least 50 African Violets. I could tell some of them were not going to be taken, so I took one and potted it. Several months later we moved to Colorado, and I stuffed the plant in my car trunk with another African Violet that had been bloomless for about four years.

The following October 2010, I noticed Ginnie’s plant bore its first gorgeous bouquet! A few days later I learned Ginnie’s husband Wayne had passed away. Coincidence?

DSCN2800
They were adequate Christmas centerpieces, 2011.

No more blooms came until December 2011. I hadn’t paid attention until the day my brother Cal died of cancer, exactly at midnight, Dec. 25.  It had been a bittersweet eight months, and sickness had pulled us into a whirlpool of different priorities. Yet, life had to move on. Our daughter-in-law’s parents were in town, and Christmas dinner was at our house.  I was okay with the distraction of food preparation. But then I realized I didn’t have flowers for our table. I spied the two African violets by the kitchen sink. Surprise!  They both were in bloom and adequate centerpieces.

Although a veil exists between heaven and earth, sometimes there are these mysterious connections, like the African Violets’ blooms, that make it better with our souls. I think Ginnie, Wayne, and Cal wanted me to celebrate Christmas peace. Thanks to those two little plants and the Good News of Christmas, I did, and I do.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Psalm 116:15 (KJV).

Easter 2011 with Mom and Brother Cal. After Christmas, there is always another Easter. (CAB photo)
Shortly after this Easter photo with Mom and brother Cal, he was diagnosed with metastasized melanoma. After Christmas, there is always another Easter. (CAB photo)