Friday, November 28, 2008

Let me just say...

Christmas is not about presents or trees or even Christmas carols. Sadly, sometimes it is even too much ado about quality time with family. But it is our time to reflect on the Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords --Emmanuel, or God with us. So much emphasis is placed on Jesus, the baby born in a manger that we neglect to worship our coming King. If this life is all we have then ok, let's focus on this precious baby who was born under terrible circumstances. But if we truly want to live in the here and now, we can worship a child who was born, a man who died to take away the sins we could not take away on our own, and the One who was and is to come. Charlie Brown and Linus were onto something I think.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

When will it be Christmas?

I spotted my first Christmas trees of the season at our neighborhood Piggly Wiggly. I've driven through Uptown and noticed the bright lights adorning the lanterns. And yes, I have witnessed the ever-growing traffic jams as Black Friday draws near. But for me, it is not Christmas yet and I'm just now getting to the place where it is "Thanksgiving in my heart." You see, this year will be so different that I am not sure when it will truly be Christmas. Let me try to explain.
Growing up in a big Italian family meant Christmas would be spent opening presents on Christmas morning and visiting relatives. It amounted to a lot of noisy, boisterous fun with delicious food and goofing off with my favorite cousins. The adults talked over each other but it didn't really matter. That's what Italian families do.
As I grew up and moved out of state, Christmas took on different meanings as my husband and I worked hard to develop new family traditions first for us as a couple, and later as the parents of our own 2 children.
One tradition that we embraced early on was cutting down our own Christmas tree. For years we took turns choosing the perfect tree at a nearby tree farm. It was never enough to just buy a half-dead tree off the lot at Home Depot. It's still not good enough for our family. Nope, our tradition must involve a hack saw or a chain saw. Last year was Bethany's turn to pick out a tree so we trudged off to Davenport's Tree Farm here in Greenwood. She picked a beauty, a Leland Cypress, a variety we'd never had in PA or MD.
Right now the Ziegler family is in a state of flux. Allen & I live in SC, Bethany in Atlanta, and our son Jordan still calls PA his home. We are renting a condo, building a new house and have decorations stored in several locations. Will we see relatives this year? It's highly unlikely as we are not sure of a move-in date. Will we go to the tree farm this year? Maybe, but it will be only Allen and I choosing the perfect tree. We've already decided not to exchange gifts this year and so this is another tradition put on hold partly due to economics, partly due to practicality.
A second tradition of utmost importance in the Ziegler family involves decorating our tree while watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. You know, Clark Griswold, Cousin Eddie and that crazy Aunt Bethany who wraps her cat and says the blessing. We all don Christmas pj's for this occasion. I realize that I'm starting to sound like Clark Griswold himself as I reflect on how different this Christmas will be. If I'm really honest, I'd want both kids to be home for this time honored tradition.
We all reach a point when Christmas actually feels like Christmas. For some, it is when Christmas carols resound for the month of December. For others it is on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning when children wake up early to open their presents. For me, this year Christmas will become real when I transition from Thanksgiving to rejoice in Christ my savior, and when we put up a tree, regardless of which house we live in. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Man I Feel Like a Woman!

Man have I felt like a woman these past 2 weeks. I've cried tears of joy, tears of confusion and tears of pain. While we have Shania Twain to thank for this karaoke phrase, it's been my experience that "men" know very little about us women folk. I feel more like Lucy here rather than the gorgeous Shania when I do cry cos once I start, I can't seem to stop the floodgates. My eyes become puffy and red and I can't even breathe out of my nose.
Does a man truly understand this female (and sometimes hormonal) phenomenon? Somehow I don't think they do. Case in point, I posted this phrase on my FB update and received 2 comments from men. One kind soul replied, "Woooohooo!" Come again? And the second male wrote, "Way to go swell guy." As if my husband was responsible for making ME feel like a WOMAN! Thankfully, one of my girlfriends understood where I was going with all this Shania emotion. I'd had a few physically painful days and was merely venting my frustration over this. I was also sad to say goodbye to my family as they returned to Pittsburgh. And then I cried again while saying goodbye to my daughter as she drove back to college.
My girlfriend responded and I quote, "Why do you thing Z has anything to do with that??? She might have cramps or something. LOL
My husband tells me that he is trying to understand my torrent of emotions. He just does not have enough estrogen to get it right every time. So girls the next time you feel the tears welling up, grab your box of Kleenex, your nosespray and call me. Besides, men just like to take credit for everything, especially if it involves their baby Feeling Like a Woman.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Living in My Skin

I'm coming to the realization that I am not Bethany, my ever deep thinking, thought provoking daughter who manages to blog at an incredible rate. Nor am I Karl (aka Allen, theswellguy) who cracks us up with Redneck Tuesday Editions or his own brand of provoking prose. I'd love to be Rob Bell who I admire so much for his simple, down to earth sermons. But no, I am Denine, a one-time freelance writer living in a family of Bloggers! If Jordan ever takes up blogging I am surely doomed. Actually, writing again has been good for me in several ways:
It has forced me to rediscover my once creative self.
It has caused me to release some hurtful experiences that occurred during my years as a freelance writer in the "christian market. " Ya'll need to keep praying for me on this journey as a blogger. I truly want to write again and yet I've often compared myself to my husband and my daughter in this sense. So, the good news is that I'm here and that God is moving in my spiritual self and the one thing I can hold on to is my identity in Christ. Denine, aka Neenbob. Until next time, breathe.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fight the Good Fight

President Elect Barack Obama is in. It's now official. It may not be the outcome you hoped for but I believe it must be part of God's bigger plan. Many, many Christ Followers stood in line to cast their votes and do their duty as American citizens. If we continue to follow Jesus and live daily for him, we must continue to pray for our country as never before. We must continue to pray for our new leaders, our President Elect, our local and state officials who were voted in.

Now is not the time to wallow in our loss, nor it is time to sit on our hands. If we want to see this country turned around, we cannot put our faith in any man, but in God. Man will let us down every time, but God is ever present. He remains our hope, our redeemer and our source of strength. America has asked for a king, just as the Israelites asked for a King when they took their eyes off of God. Remember it wasn't long, though, before the Hebrew people were tempted to be like those other nations and wanted a human king, one they could see and touch and worship. Something whispered inside the Israelites that they needed a king "to be like other nations"----a paralysis of faith and imagination. They still didn't get that they were to be a people "set apart" from the nations and from the patterns destroying them.

People, Jesus is my King. I hope He is yours.