TOY TRASH

toy trash

I didn't know Ali was filming "The Sword Fight"

I am the master of fitting Christmas trash into the trashcan. Over the years, I’ve perfected the art of breaking down boxes, folding paper and fitting them all together like a puzzle inside the garbage can.

The garbageman has no idea of my mastery. He couldn’t begin to grasp the amount of debris inside the can. My family knows… They’ve learned not to wad up wrapping paper. Oh no, that takes up too much room. They’ve learned to stack everything next to me for the master to begin his work.

As I was beginning to disassemble everything in the reassembling into compact process, something dawned on me… There was no clear-hard-plastic-shaped-for-the-product-type of trash to conquer.

You know the type of product I’m describing… The ones that are almost impossible to get into. The ones you risk your life with knives, scissors, or both trying to get into. After you finally do, often the product is wired and tied to the back cardboard which takes another couple hours to get undone.

This is the trash that tests the master. It’s uneven without any symmetry to cut and stack. I sat there breaking down the elementary type boxes. Breaking them at the corners, then bending the side flaps backward so that they could be stacked together as flat as possible.

“Where’s the tough trash”? I thought to myself.––No toys… I realized this is the first year without toys. That means our youngest has outgrown that part of her childhood. She has closed the door on that chapter of her life. She’s more like her sisters now.

There was a time when that’s the only trash I’d deal with. Slowly my job of fitting everything into the trash can has gotten easier. I should’ve seen it coming… It seemed the same for the gifts, right down to the swordfights with empty wrapping paper rolls, the “cookie day” with grandma and Emma. Putting up the tree, breaking 10% of the ornaments, the exterior lights, pressing the button on the Homer Simpson Santa I got as a gift six years ago to hear the various annoying Christmas sarcastic comments, my wife losing presents, it was Christmas as usual in some aspects.

No toys–shoot… The end of an era. It’s not the conquering of the trash I’ll miss. In truth, it was a real pain, but worth the trade-off.

I surprised all my girls again this year with jeans. (Trying to make up for last year and what has become known as  “the year of the Narnian winter coat debacle”) Surprisingly all the jeans fit except for the youngest. I guess I still see her as smaller and younger than what she really is. I kept the receipt so we can get her a bigger pair.

This year, the first year with no toys reminds me that everything changes. We were all young once. Our children are getting older. My Christmas days are numbered. Each one is precious and cannot be revisited in the flesh, only in memories.

Sensing the times are slipping ahead I asked my daughters to do something for me.

This year before I read Luke chapter 2, I told them it was in honor of my dad. I asked them to make sure wherever they are at Christmas, that they read the Scripture to their family at this time. I know they will…

I choose the word “bittersweet” to describe the reality of my children slowly becoming the women of responsibility and independence intended by God and us.

I’m proud of what they’re accomplishing on their own and seeking God in the process.

All this over toy trash? Maybe I think too much… Then again maybe not…

I will always appreciate being wanted, I’m going to miss being needed…

RE-GIFTING

re-gifting

FOLLOW THE STAR image courtesy of photobucket.com

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM: Floyd

TO: You

One of my first girlfriends bought me a puka bead necklace for Christmas. At first I was excited about a gift I really wanted but couldn’t afford for myself. I knew there was no way I could buy her anything in return at the time.

Instead of being honest about the situation, I gave back her present and broke up with her. How was that for a Christmas present? I think I’ve been pretty forthcoming about the fact that I’ve done things that would cause others to consider me a jerk. (except to April and Pat) I’ve also been pretty honest about the pride issues I’ve waged war with my whole life.

This Christmas I find myself in a similar predicament, like the little drummer boy, I have nothing to give you, the reader. So I’m sitting here with only words. Just like the little drummer boy who had only his drum.

But wait! Didn’t the little drummer boy actually enjoy playing the drums? What sacrifice did he make? He got to do what he loved! He was commended and got a smile from God to boot!

Come to think of it, the little drummer boy got his gift from God. He got the desire, discipline, and perseverance to play the drums from God. In essence, the little drummer boy was guilty of re-gifting.

Well if it’s good enough for the little drummer boy, it’s good enough for me!

The song never said the little drummer boy was the best drum player in the world. It’s just what he loved to do and he obviously enjoyed sharing with others.

I too am willing to give you all that I can give you this year. Like the little drummer boy, I enjoy what God set in my heart. Some people call it a “labor of love.” I guess that sums it up pretty well. Without question, it is a sacrifice of time and energy, but hopefully it’s done some good for some people.

Here is your simple handmade present, not much different than some of the others I’ve given you. Still not wrapped in a bow…

May these words find you wrapped in something better than a red bow. May you and your family be wrapped in the love, mercy and grace of God.

May He manifest this gift in your life with health, protection, and provision.

May each and every one of us grasp how uniquely important we are in the history of mankind. The fact that we’re alive here and now was planned by God before the foundations of the universe, each life is important and accounted for.

May we use the gifts He’s provided in our lives to do His will, thereby bringing Him honor.

May God’s spirit rest upon each person reading this simple word present. Your gift like my gift doesn’t have to be fancy or perfect. It is the gift from God supplied by Him for the purpose of us re-gifting His gift to others.

May our heart be lifted up regardless of circumstances we might be dealing with in this flesh currently.

May God lift our burdens and allow us to see His will and purpose in our lives.

May we all be bound together with God in His spirit.

May we acknowledge this fact to one another.

May we say with love in our hearts, thank you to God, and to one another ———–“Merry Christmas.”

May the God of all that is, bless you and yours.

TRADITION

tradition

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I have a friend (I know that might be hard for some of you to believe) whom I’ve never met in person. Her name is April McKinnon, she has a blog titled Blessed Beyond Measure. Over the last few months, I’ve got to know her by reading her blog. April writes from the perspective of being blessed by God beyond what she could ever measure. I’ve come to believe that anyone who reads the words from her heart will also be “Blessed Beyond Measure.”

April shared with us one of the Christmas traditions of her family. It just so happens it’s one of the same ones I share with mine. I’ve written a post about it on her site. Maybe some of you have the same tradition as well. Take a quick trip over and visit April’s site, even if you’re not at this time, eventually you will be “Blessed Beyond Measure.”   Please click here http://amblessedbeyondmeasure.wordpress.com leave her a comment to cheer her up as she will be recuperating from a surgery, maybe even a Merry Christmas!

THE PERFECT GIFT

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I don’t like to rush into things. Take Christmas, for example, everyone knows that the process needs to be planned out. You can’t just rush into these things.

OK the truth? I don’t like shopping… Especially at Christmas time. While I hear about people being “in the Christmas spirit,” I can’t seem to find any of those people when I’m out in the consumer world.

Maybe everyone is a little grouchy from having the Christmas shopping season and it’s specific products jammed down our throats since before Halloween? “You know, I’m just sayin’.” They’ve tried to turn this shopping season into a quarter of the year!

The people you see and talk to every day suddenly have nothing else to talk about. I dread the inevitable question. “You all done Christmas shopping”? I casually counter with the clever line I opened with, “I don’t like to rush into these things.”

I’m sure a few people along the way consider my actions, or lack thereof to be a bit on the calloused side. I want to ask them, “Who are you, the Christmas shopping police”?– “What’s it to you how or when I do my Christmas shopping”?

I refrain from those type of questions so as not to tip my calloused hand, metaphorically speaking of course…

It was easier when the kids were little. Toys are fun to buy even as an adult, those are the easy gifts. Of all the things I’ve purchased for my wife and daughters over the last 5 or 6 years, there’s only on thing that didn’t get returned. I think it was four years ago I picked up some ridiculously over-priced brand named jeans. Of the four I bought only Kenz didn’t return hers. They were still pretty good gifts.

I’m not sayin’ women are picky about clothes, jewelry, make-up, hairstyle, or anything like that. You know, I’m just sayin’.

In truth, if women only knew, some of us are confident everywhere, under almost all circumstances, but not in those types of stores.

It’s like sending our wives to the hardware store for tools and fasteners. Sometimes when I have to go to the hardware store I ask my wife, “Hey, you wanna go with me”? She suspiciously responds with one eyebrow raised, “Where to”? “The hardware store real quick.” I answer. Always the same tone flat response, “NO”!

I on the other hand, am like our dogs…They like treats… I like treats… I’m not gonna roll over, play dead, or anything like that, but I love the good food that this holiday inspires, that would be gift enough.

As far as gifts go, I’m not much more difficult to please in this arena. I love tennis shoes. That has become a tradition in our house. Year after year the same thing, dad gets tennis shoes for Christmas.

I know it, everyone knows it. Maybe the best part of unwrapping that tennis shoe box is the same worn out humor I use every year right before I open them. “HMMM, I wonder what this is”? I ask smiling. No one else smiles anymore. They don’t appreciate the classics. They roll their eyes… Which make it even funnier for me. They don’t think of my humor as a gift.

All the hustle and bustle, fighting crowds looking for something you don’t usually have any idea you’re looking for until you see it type of gifts.

The aggravation of fallen ornaments that leave the floor like a war zone complete with land mines. The presents that come with batteries that turn out to be dead.

All of that for this: A morning Christmas prayer giving thanks for God’s sacrifice of His son being born into flesh so that one day He could be the last perfect sacrifice for the final covering of sin.

I also give thanks for His protection and provision in our lives. Then, quality time with my loved ones as we exchange gifts, celebrating the only gift that truly matters.

The gift of eternal life. The only perfect gift ever given.

CAMPING

camping

THE SPOTTED ELEPHANT WOULD BE ME image by photobucket.com

I woke up to a beautiful white blanket of snow on the ground, it was stunning. It looked like a perfect Christmas morning. Because of where I grew up I rarely got to see snow, much less wake up to the magic of it.

The power of God to change the look of our world while we are sleeping to awake to a new world, a different world, to say the least, was exhilarating.

The problem with this day of God’s magical hand was that it wasn’t Christmas and I was sleeping outside on a job site. To wake up to snow when you’re sleeping in it, is much different when you gaze upon it from the warm shelter of a home.

It was 1981, Midland Texas. Our country was in a tough economic recession. There weren’t many jobs available anywhere, so us, the unemployed went wherever we had to for employment opportunity.

I worked in three states in less than one year in order to survive. Circumstances that we live through certainly have a bearing on our perspective.

When I was a boy I loved to go camping. We didn’t do too much of it, but when we did I truly enjoyed it. What kid doesn’t? My parents had a big tent that the six of us could sleep in. I remember in detail the smell and feel of the brisk mountain air as my mom fried bacon in a skillet over the open campfire.

My perspective as a child was if or when you could sleep outside and be camping, life would be perfect! As an adult, I’m not a big camper. Having been forced by the financial reality of life to sleep outside with camping as a necessity for survival, put a new perspective on how  I enjoyed “the great outdoors.”

Sleeping outside, showering 2 or 3 times a week at the YMCA at a buck a pop is somewhat of an adventure. The perspective is usually determined by circumstances. Do we have a choice or is it a necessity?

Many people in our country are making difficult choices due to our present economic meltdown. The choices we make now will help shape our future perspectives.

I guess in 1981 I had a choice. I could have stayed at home and tried to get a government handout. Maybe I could have begged on a corner. I didn’t think I had a choice. At the time, I never considered anything except trying and never giving up.

I’m not saying I’m exceptional for having done so. It is what was expected of me from my family and my country, the way I viewed it at the time.

My wife and I have friends that have had to move across the country to find a way to survive. A husband of one of the couples has been working out of town for over a year. He just got relocated to California. This time it is for a promotion. If he never had to navigate the tough times he would never have reached a goal he’s dreamed about since I’ve known him.

My wife’s other friend sent pictures of the ocean in Connecticut that she now lives four blocks from. She told my wife she can’t remember being this happy in years. This couple had lost a business here, and yet now she’s happier than she’s been in years.

I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t had adversity in their life. I’m convinced that the ones who fight through on their own or by the grace of God and don’t give in or give up, are the ones who receive the most blessings.

Maybe not riches, but something of more value than silver or gold.

They earn what money can’t buy or what anyone can give, not even at Christmas… Self-respect.

I think I’ll go camping again… This time I’ll be taking a tent… and bacon.