Tuesday, February 21, 2017

a way of escape

The moment Adam & Eve bit the forbidden fruit they were bit by the serpent and the venom of sin entered our DNA
But they didn’t have to.
satan could only lead them to water, he couldn't make them drink...
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. ( 1 Cor. 10:3)
What is that way of escape?
Jesus told us in, another Garden, a garden called Gethsemane meaning “oil press” as it sat at the foot of the Mount of Olives where olives were crushed until they bled oil...where Jesus was crushed til He sweat blood.
No. This garden is no Eden, no Paradise, where God’s voice “Be fruitful and multiply” still echoes off the fruits of the trees, surrounded by beautiful rivers like Pison and Gihon and Hiddekel and Euphrates; meaning increase, and bursting forth and rapid and fruitful; where gold and all precious stones lie aplenty. No, this garden, Gethsemane, is dark, surrounded by names like Golgotha, because it resembles a skull. 
The dull thud of hammers on bloody nails murmurs through the trees…and the snoring of eleven men, too weary to watch …too weak to pray.
And there, in the distance, about a stone’s throw away, the sound of a Man on His knees, the words can barely be heard through His groanings, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me…but…not My will, but Thine be done.”   
It is here in this dark garden where we learn how He resisted temptation, where everyone from Adam and Eve to you and me can resist temptation, can find our way of escape….
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.


Monday, January 23, 2017

The Inaugural Bizarre

People buzzed about the book table like bees around a hive. From where I sat, near the side door, it looked like the bizarre was a huge success.
I watched folks walking by, checking out table after table of everything from handcrafted walking sticks, jewelry and cards to homemade bakery goods, sloppy-joes and ice cream bars.
Most folks found something to buy—that they didn’t need—usually food.
I could see the flat screen TV mounted on a wall behind the bakery tables. It was clear across the room, but I could tell it was showing the beginnings of the Presidential Inauguration.  
Somebody stopped by and bought a book, we chatted a bit, and I tried to stay focused but my eyes kept wandering over to the television set.
Laughter erupted and music started playing and all at once a line of people marched in dressed like, well, picture The Hee-Haw band. Bib overalls and bare feet, a metal garbage can and a moonshine jug were just a few of the instruments that made up the rag-tag Whispering Pines Fun Band.
They paraded along singing and smiling, having a great time, acting plumb stupid.   
The lady next to me had two tables filled with all kinds of jewelry and an assortment of beautiful stones; one of which, she said, “Keeps people from being crabby.” She gave me one.
A hundred bobbing heads milled about between me and the TV, but I could see it was getting close for the inauguration to begin.
Every now and then the booming voice of the park manager would echo from every speaker, one was directly over my head. He’d say stuff like: “Hurry and get your tickets our next drawing’s in five minutes.” Or… “Stop by our sponsor’s booth in the next ten minutes and get…” Or like a game show host, “The next person who brings me a finger nail clippers wins a…”  
A lady stopped in front of my table and the booming game show voice didn’t seem to bother her a bit. She read the scrolling Power Point presentation for one of my books. When I spoke, she didn’t seem to notice at first, but then she motioned with her hands telling me she was deaf. We communicated with what little sign language I had. She typed her name into her phone and held it out, motioning for me to speak into it.
I did. It wrote what I said. We chatted back and forth like that for a good little bit.    
After she left, I could see the inauguration was getting close, real close, President Trump was on the screen.
Someone else was talking to me, I tried to pay attention, really, I did, but my eyes kept wandering back to that screen. Finally, they noticed my divided attention and looked toward the screen. “You think he’ll do us any good?”
I just smiled and said, “I’ve been praying he would.”
I left the book table unattended and made my way to a chair near the bakery tables. The television volume was on, but with all the chatter it was hard to make out what was being said. Folks continued buying and selling, talking and laughing and doing what they’d come to do—have fun.
A moment later president Trump stood with his left hand on two Bibles; one given to him by his mother and the other had belonged to Abraham Lincoln.
The chatter quieted, a gentle rain started to fall in Washington DC and he uttered The Oath of Presidents to be:
"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God."
A record number of prayers were prayed.
As the National Anthem was played the folks continued to mingle, eat and drink, but a remnant gathered; huddled in a ragged sort of horse shoe, around the front of the bakery tables. We stood, hats off, hands over our heart and sixteen year old, Jackie Evancho, brought grown men and war heroes to tears.
The president began his Inaugural Address, one of the shortest ever…during which time our game show host grabbed the microphone which sat fifteen feet to the left of the TV and announced something like basement bottom dollar brownies and sloppy-joes being half off.  
At first that got under my skin and respect for the man hit bottom dollar, but then, something happened.
My eyes bounced back and forth between two men behind a microphone; The President of the United States and the game show host.
As I looked him in the eye, he nodded and lifted a little smile.
I didn’t want to smile. The badder angels urged me to shout, “Turn off the mic sit down and shut up.” But, better angels bit my tongue.  And before I had time to get all riled up in my own self-righteousness, I heard the President, quote Psalm 133:1 "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.”
I was glad he used the translation that says, “God’s people” instead of “brethren” for that would’ve set off a firestorm of its own.
Then, The President said it was time to remember what soldiers will never forget, “we all bleed the same red blood” and all of us share the same night sky and are "infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator"
It gave me pause.
I remembered my new found friend, how the best communication I’d had all day was with her who was deaf and mute. I only half listened to everyone else, but with her, of necessity, I paid attention.
Perhaps, if all the world were deaf and mute, we’d pay attention more and communicate better.   
I looked at the man who moments before had irritated me so, and paid attention, put myself in his shoes.
I thought of how he had a job to do, and he was doing it well. He had an agenda to follow and a responsibility to keep the event rolling, to entertain folks—be the game show host.
To his credit he said he had waited until “after the speech” referring to The Oath, but at that very moment, he was interrupting the Inaugural Address of the President…must not have been paying attention.
Nevertheless, in that moment of shoe swapping, of paying attention, my disgust lifted and peace settled.
I nodded back and returned the smile.
And just like that, all the folks around me talking and laughing and shuffling about were no longer noisy distractions, with irritating differences, but intriguingly unique, brothers and sisters infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

If Creation were a symphony, you would be the crescendo

And God said, Let us make man in our image… 
This is at a climactic point in the creation week, the crescendo. If this were a symphony, the Conductor would have both hands raised high, after swinging them wildly for six refrains.
It started In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and, were it a symphony, a drum solo would roll, loud and strong and slow…and then it would lead an orchestra including the heavens and the earth in perfect harmony…
But then, the raspy beat of a snare drum would sound; lucifer—thinking he should be heard above all the others—would pound, proud and hard, until a third of the angels would march to the beat of his drum…
Then all goes black.  
And the earth is without form and void, and the only sound is that of a snake slithering through the black waters of the deep.
But God shows up, and moves upon the face of the waters.
And speaks up
And just to be sure we never forget, and always find hope, no matter how dark a world we find ourselves in, His first words ever recorded for us to hear are “Let there be light.” Those words echo through the ages to this very day, separating light from dark.  …I AM the light of the world (John 8:12)…and the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5)…so, let your light so shine (Mt. 5:16)

And there was light and it was good…and it still is. 

And then, for the next six days He worked. As a Master Builder, forming and shaping, building and making; line upon line, precept upon precept. The light, the sky, the sea, the land…

The more He goes, the louder it grows.

Light appears, the sky is blowing and waves are rolling

The grass and plants and trees rustle and sway in the breeze

Then fish are jumping, dolphins are laughing, whales are rolling, birds are singing, eagles are soaring

Soon lions are roaring, horse’s hooves are drumming, moneys are dancing and elephants are trumpeting…all creation declaring His glory.

That’s good, that’s good, that’s good, He says…

But then, all creation falls silent, when the words that change the world, fall from His lips…

Let Us make man in Our image.

And isn’t the way Pure Love goes?

Prepare a house, a home, build a nursery, a garden, a cradle, a manger, an Eden…and then step back, look at one another and say…

Let’s, make a child…he will have your eyes…and he’ll have your smile…

But why would He do such a thing?

Yet, even still,
He Who spoke into the darkness “Let there be light,”
pierced the darkness of a virgin’s womb,
as the Light of the world.
He wasn’t satisfied to set things in motion and watch from afar…No. He stepped up and in, as if to say, “Let Me show you how it’s done”
It started when He said, “Let us make man in Our image” and ended the day He said, “It is finished” …and the veil in the temple was ripped in twain, the letter of divorce was torn asunder, the guilty verdict was pardoned and the death penalty was paid. The dividing wall shattered. The door swung open and the wedding bells rang for whosoever will, be a bride to the Prince, and a child of the King.
 My favorite line in my ancestral tree is the very top one, it’s awesome, and it’s actually recorded in the Bible in Luke 3:38  “…and Adam was the son of God.”
It’s not only the best line in my tree…but yours too. We all have that same line.

In the image of God created He him, male and female created He them.

That is the personification of creative and poetic, perfection.

 We are all created in the image of Him who is perfect without spot or blemish or weakness or bad habit, but eternally perfectly beautifully good. That is Who we’re created after, that is Who is at the top of our family tree.

 When you look in the mirror, do you see the Family resemblance? Do you see His spark of unapproachable everlasting light shining through your eyes, sparking from your smile? Do you feel His DNA surging through your veins?

Or, do you see the graying, aging, sinking, sagging, weary, blemished, bruised and broken?

If the answer is the latter, don’t feel bad, that can change in the time it takes to make a decision.

(2 Cor. 3:17-18)…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass (mirror)  the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

That’s what we’ve been talking about in our little Whispering Pines Village Bible study. If you're in the neighborhood, we'll save you a seat. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

The difference

You’re watching a movie about a baseball team. They’re the small town underdogs. They’re in a new arena. They’re nervous. They’re making errors, dropping the ball, the fans are booing, they just can’t get in the groove…but then it happens.
Someone in the stands gets up.
They start to clap, quiet and slow, at first. But little by little they continue, louder and louder.
And then, someone else joins in. And then another, and another and...
Down on the field the pitcher lifts his eyes from out of the dirt. He hears the clap instead of the jeer. He wipes the sweat, and a tear, from his brow and lays a fast ball straight across the plate.
“STRIKE THREE” the umpire yells.
The crowd stands to their feet, their hands in the air, as one voice, they cheer.
The pitcher slaps his glove. His eyes focus. The music starts. The team hunkers. They step into the zone and begin to play as one.
Yesterday, I witnessed that.
Didn’t expect it when we left for church
We sat near the back, in our usual place. After the hymns were sung, the pastor walked to his place up front.
He talked about a book he’d just read. “It was a real page turner,” he said.
 He’d picked it up one morning, and was so compelled to know what happened next; he read and read, until he turned the last page that evening.
He said it was scripturally sound, carried a message and made you feel like you were in the story.
He rambled on a little more saying things every author wishes he could hear about something he’d written.
And then it happened.
He held up the book, it was familiar, real familiar, and asked me to stand. “Whatever, the price of, The Voice—” he said— “you should figure in a box of tissues—because you’re going to need it"
I stood, glanced at the congregation looking at me, felt my face turn red, nodded to the preacher and sat back down.
To this moment, I’m not sure why, but first one, then another, then a whole church full of folks started clapping.
I didn’t expect that, not any of it. But, the timing was perfect.
Just when it appears no one hears. When jumping-in with both feet doesn’t even seem to make a ripple.
In a moment when giving it all, isn’t enough; but dropping the ball, making errors and strike outs there’s plenty…  
Suddenly, unexpectedly, someone stands and starts to clap.
Someone pats you on the back, sends you a card, gives you a call...asks you to stand.
It makes a difference, and it’s huge.
You’ll never know how much so, until the day you walk the streets of gold and someone grabs your hand, smiles and says, “You don’t know me, but I’m here today, because of your kindness way back when…Thank you.”
 Weary not in well doing, for in due season you shall reap, if you faint not Galations 6:9

Humble thanks to you dear friend, your encouragement has blessed time and again. 
To you, wise Pastor, your timing was God led.
And especially to You, Lord Jesus, to You I bow.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

God's Christmas

Imagine this…
You find the perfect gift for your family.
You plan way ahead for it. Purchase it, wrap it and set it in just the right place, at just the right time, for them to find.
You know they’ll love it. And more than that, you know they need it more than ever.
But then, something goes wrong.
They look at it and laugh. Don’t like the way it’s wrapped. Or perhaps, they just don’t like that it’s from you.
For whatever reason, they ignore it
You show it to them again and again.
But they just slap it aside.
You tell them, “This is my gift to you, please take it”
But they reject it.
You stretch out your hands and offer the gift.
They throw it down, spit on it, kick it, crush it
Nail it to a tree...

Welcome to God’s Christmas

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas lights reveal what we have in common

Have you noticed the Christmas light this year? 
Something is happening.
I noticed, when we took a drive the other night, to look at the Christmas lights.
But, it’s not just here, it’s everywhere.
My friend, Glynn Young, noticed it in St. Louis, when he walked away from the political bantering on Facebook, and walked out into the night. It took a while, three and a half miles he walked, but somewhere out there he noticed…
In Canada, Ann Voskamp and her husband took a night drive into the fields and she wrote of it;
“The moon reflects the sun, and the Christmas-white  fields reflect the moon,
and we’re all faces shining tonight, the whole world looking up.”

Glynn walked into the chilly night. Christmas lights on every house, rich folk, poor folk, red folk, blue folk, all kinds of folk had lights on their house. And he saw…the common thread.
Before conception, before what is called, making love, 
there was real Love making, forming, shaping. 
Our origin, our essence, our main ingredient, our intricate design, fearfully and wonderfully made, comes directly from the Source of Love and Light.
We have this in common.
The Sunday School song nails it: Red, yellow, black and white we are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.  
We have this in common.
We took that Love and nailed it to a tree
This too, we have in common. 
...and, alas, this too, rips us asunder.
Yet, once a year, all the world, lights a tree and thinks about love. 
In whatever, shape and form and distorted fashion it may be—down inside, hiding in the shadows of a dark and lonely silent night, or, buried and busy under a heart as cold as snow—there is a common seed, a thread that runs blood red through us all. It longs for common ground and common sense; rest and peace and love. We all, every last one of us, crave what is only to be found in the warm embrace of family, in a place called home.
That place we seek is near.
That family we crave is waiting with arms wide open.
Take a walk or a drive; drop our gloves and our voices. Lift our eyes, into the night, notice how our eyes are attracted to the light. See how the light shines and pierces and chases away the dark? It does the same, no matter who or where you are.
If we will just but notice the stars, the moon, and believe it was the same moon that hung over another dark and not so silent night. How on that night the very Light that hung the moon slipped into the skin of a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. Think of how that Babe grew up to say things like, “I AM the Light of the world.”
Dare to believe what He went on to say: “You are the light of the world.”
Yes you.
Yes me.
Yes, we, can be light.
Not The Light, but a light.
As the moon reflects the sun…we, can reflect The Son.
It may be hard, but not complicated.
There is a light that shines on us all.
We have this in common.
Like the wise men, we need only to follow.
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star of royal beauty bright…
The wise men saw the star, and followed.
The shepherds heard the angel, and obeyed.
The chief priest and scribes read the Word and chose to ignore it.
 Harod was told about The Light and tried to snuff it out.
What will we do? Oh how I pray we’ll say,
Guide us to Thy Perfect Light.
The Babe, who put the CHRIST in Christ-mas is the very Light that shines on you now, and longs to shine through you, forever.  
We have this in common, too. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Best Christmas Lights

“LIGHTS” Luke yelled and pointed from his seat in Makah’s lap. (Make-ah= the way the first grandchild said grandma…and it stuck.)
I eased to a stop in the middle of the road and listened to the kids oooh and ahhhh at the Christmas lights along the street.
“MICK-MUSS” two year old Luke yelled again. The bigger than life Mickey Mouse lit up the night in front of a big brick house.
The kids giggled.
Street after street we eased along past, Frosty The Snowman, Rudolph, Santa, Reindeer and lights of every color, mostly red and green and white. At every Nativity Scene I’d stop a little longer than any of the others.
When the excitement settled and one was thirsty and another had to go…we turned toward home. That’s when I saw it; the brightest, biggest light of them all.
It hung higher than all the others. Only, it wasn’t really a light. In and of itself, it was dark, yet tonight, it lit up the night.
“Look at that.”
“What Papa?”
“The moon” I pointed toward the eastern sky.
The ooohs and ahhhs started again.
I smiled. When the chatter slowed I started to explain how the moon had no light, it was dark, but it shined so bright because—
“It reflects the sun, Papa.”
That was a few days ago, but tonight, as I sit here in the dark, I’m remembering that moon.
So many things in the world—and, my world—are dark.
Sleep won’t come.  
I think about that moon. How it was the same one that hung over another dark and not so silent night. How on that night the very Light that hung the moon slipped into the skin of a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. I think of how that Babe grew up to say things like, “I AM the Light of the world.”
I believe that. HE changed the world. HE changed my world. HE is the Light of the world…that’s easy to believe. But, He also said, things hard to believe, like: “You, are the light of the world.”
Who was He talking about? His disciples—absolutely. Billy Graham—sure. But me? He couldn’t have been talking about me? How could He? I have too many faults. I’ve failed far too miserably. I’m too weak …I have, too much dark.
I remember the moon…and the words, “It reflects the sun, Papa.” I feel a glimmer of Light, of Hope.  
Lord, in and of myself there is no light, I’m dark. Yet, I find hope, in You, The Light of the world, my world. And as the moon reflects the sun…I pray, I too, will reflect The Son.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all  (1 John 1:5)
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  (James 1:17)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Proof Of The First Christmas...written by the finger of God

 Ever wonder about that star? 
You know; the one the wise guys saw causing them to travel from afar.
What exactly did they see? Is there proof?

Yes there is!

Proof Of The First Christmas Story...written by the finger of God
Johannes Kepler sometime in the 1600's figured out that the solar system is like an enormous clock.  NASA uses the same calculations today. 

Now, software can pinpoint the exact location of stars at any time in history, viewed from any place on earth.

Let's do a little time travel
Ride with me as we turn back the clock.

Listen to the star gazing magi:

Can you see it? The King Planet is on the move.

Yes, I see it, Jupiter moving toward Regulus.

Interesting, The King Planet moving toward The King Star, do you think it could be a sign?

We will see.

The ceremony takes months. Three times The King Planet circles just over The King Star. A heavenly halo signals a Kingly coronation.

Yes, I'm quite certain a king is to be born.

But where?
Look close. The coronation has taken place inside the constellation Leo The Lion. 
This could only mean one thing, The Lion of The Tribe of Judah… A Jewish King. 
A King of the Jews is on the horizon. But wait. What is following?
Could it be? 
Yes, it is the constellation Virgo, The Virgin. 
She rises with the new moon birthed at her feet.

It is written: 
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 
The King has been conceived.
A King will soon be born, and not just any King but The King of Kings.

Nine months from when Jupiter started the crowning ceremony, the wise men witness, The Star. 
The brightest star they have ever seen. The brightest star anyone alive has ever seen. 
Only it wasn’t a star, it was Jupiter, The King Planet joining Venus, The Mother Planet. (Today in planetariums they show this event because it is so spectacular.)

This was all the wise men needed.

The King is born! 
Mount up we’re headed west. 
Follow that star.

The journey may have taken months.

Where is He born King of the Jews?" They asked in Jerusalem.

Then they saw The Star again, only this time it had stopped. (Actually it’s called retrograde motion. It looks like it’s stopped but only changing directions.)

Believe it or not, on the day we celebrate Christmas, December 25th, In 2 BC, Jupiter entered retrograde and early in the morning from Jerusalem it appeared to be the brightest star ever seen stopped
 directly over the little town of Bethlehem.

I believe on that day the magi made the five mile trek and presented their gifts to the young Christ Child. 

 God knew before he flung the stars in place the exact moment He would enter the womb. He left us undeniable proofs.
 He wrote it in the stars and sent angels to proclaim, Peace on earth, goodwill toward men. 

Merry Christmas 

**NOTE: There are different schools of thought regarding the times of Jesus birth, I believe what I've written here to be accurate but admit I am certainly no expert on the subject matter. If you would like more information please visit 


Have you considered giving The Voice  for Christmas ?

More than a story—it's a message.

A novel about the strength of family, the power of prayer and the battles that rage against them.

The only thing Mac wanted more than a good day of sailing, was a big, noisy, messy, happy, family...

 But, life happens and dreams sink.

Unseen battles rage and little things make a big difference.

Ricky didn't know it, but the moment he turned around and headed toward, The Voice, he opened his heart...and started a war.

God is near the brokenhearted and puts the lonely in families


What folks are saying about The Voice: 

Doug i enjoyed your book sooo much. 
I spent two days enveloped in the spirit of your story. I cried and I laughed.  Your picture words put me right in that delightful sea setting. Loved mention of Mankato.

All in all I loved your book. I have read 33 books this summer. I have to say yours was the best. Thank you for writing such an inspiring book. In fact, I stopped and
prayed on several pages when the content spoke to me. In other words I heard The Voice.
Sharry... Blessings  

"If you believe in the power of prayer, you will love this book. I was hooked on the first page. The characters were so real and genuine. The book is a refreshing change from the ordinary. The battle waging between good and evil comes to life in this story."
Author of the trilogy, Jesus My Son, Mary's Journal, by Mary Bailey, Kentucky

A great read
"The Voice is a delightful story of love, dogged faith in a God who does not always answer in the way we expect, and of the power of prayer.

Set among sailing boats and the sea, the characters are so well portrayed that I grew truly fond of them and found myself drawn into the story, rooting for them in their difficult circumstances and rejoicing at their victories.

There are some great lessons within the pages, of the benefit of dogged perseverance, of praying in every situation and of the way God is in control in spite of appearances, at times.

There is also a glimpse into the invisible world where the spiritual battle takes place and the effect of faith and prayer in that arena.

All in all a great read which will leave you enriched by the experience."
Author of, God in the ICU, Dave Walker, South Africa

a book to share !
"I literally just finished the last page of this book. I had to keep reading, I couldn't put it down I NEEDED to know what happened next. This book is full of love, tears, sadness joy and adventure. Most importantly God. This book was so inspirational, and kept me guessing and going, I could really play the characters in my mind too. Awesome!"
Sadie Tyson, Florida

Five Stars
"Amazing and inspirational!!! Can't wait for the opportunity to read more of your glorious writings."
Tanya Rasche, Minnesota

One of the best books I've ever read and I've read a lot ...
"One of the best books I've ever read and I've read a lot of books. Write us another one Doug . We will love it too."
Brenda Norwalk, Florida


You'll hear His Voice in...

A silent prayer from a little boy...
"Please make mommy & daddy stop fighting." Moments later, they did--forever.

A heart's longing from an old sailor...
He looked toward the sky, "Dear God...maybe it's not too late." The lines blurred and he thought he heard the sound of children--calling him Papa.

A Divine connection for a wounded warrior...
Could anyone see past the scars and love a soldier, twice burned--once in the flesh and once in the heart?

And all they ever wanted was a big, noisy, messy, happy family. Was that too much to ask?

God is near the broken hearted and puts the lonely in families.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Letters to Santa

“Five hot chocolates please.”
She smiled, nodded and turned around.
I pulled a half-dozen napkins from the dispenser and watched the kids flutter around like butterflies from the airplane to the racecar, the rocket, the horse and then up and down the slide and in and out of the castle. I wondered when they’d ask for quarters to make the gadgets go up and down.
“Can I get some quarters with this?” I handed the girl a ten and she handed me two hot chocolates.
Mall shoppers were weaving around the play area with Christmas colored bags.
I found the closest table in the food court that wasn’t filled with weary looking moms, dads, giddy children and Christmas colored shopping bags.
I set down the napkins and drinks and then pulled four sheets of paper from the notebook I’d kept tucked under my arm. I placed them around the table.
I retrieved my change and hot chocolates from the food court vendor and raised a cup when my granddaughter looked my way. She said something I couldn’t hear to the others and they all came running.
We sat around the table, with hot chocolate, paper and pencils. I could see the big red mailbox with a sign on a stick poked into some fake snow that read “Letters to Santa.”
The kids got busy making their list, all the while chattering about what they wanted from Santa. “…and a waterbed…and four tsum tsums and…”
 A waterbed?  I rolled my eyes and my head and noticed the table next to us sat a little girl with a sad look on her face.
I smiled.
She looked at her hands folded on the table. An older version of herself sat next to her filling out a form for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree.
The little girl looked at us, well, she looked at my grandkids laughing and writing and sipping hot chocolate.
I pulled a sheet of paper from the notebook and held it out. “Do you want to write a letter to Santa?”
Her eyes got wide. She turned in her chair, looked at me, the paper and then at her older self. “Mommy?”
Her mom stopped writing. She didn’t lift her eyes, at first; she just stared at the table. Finally, she pulled in a slow breath, raised her eyes and her mouth made a smile but she still looked sad. She started shaking her head—
“I have plenty of paper—” I held up the notebook—“and I even have an extra envelope and pencil.” I smiled at the little girl and then held up a pencil and envelope and looked at the mom.
She laid her hand on the Salvation Army Angel Tree form and shrugged. “But, that’s what I’m doing, filling out this form—” She looked at her daughter—“I mean, writing this letter…to Santa.”
I nodded and looked at her hands. I think they were shaking, a little. “That’s one of the best ways to let Santa know what you want for Christmas.” I looked at the little girl. “That form your mom is filling out goes straight to the Chief Elf in charge of the toy department.”
When I said that, she made sort of a frown, folded her hands back on top of the table, and looked down.
I looked both ways real quick and leaned toward her and whispered, “I work for him.”
“He does,” my grandson chimed in. I smiled. “They know.”    
The mom placed her pen back on the form, made a smile that looked forced and said, “Okay Sugar, what should I tell Santa you want for Christmas?”
The little girl shrugged and turned her head slightly toward me. “Does it really go to the…toy department?”
I smiled. “It sure does.”
She let out a sigh and didn’t smile.
Her mom looked at me and shook her head. “I have no idea what she wants. Every time I ask she just goes real quiet.”
I did what I always do—well, I don’t always do it, but I always should—I whispered a prayer inside my heart—Lord, give me wisdom here.
I lifted the paper and pencil back up again.
“You know, this is North Pole Special Edition paper.”
She looked at me and wrinkled her nose.
“This doesn’t go to the Chief Elf, no, it goes straight to—” I started to say, Santa, but instead I said—“The Chief. It’s not just for toys, either. It’s for other stuff.”
The little girl’s eyes got real big and she turned toward me, leaned forward with her hands on her knees and her little feet started swinging back and forth in scissor fashion.
The mom set her pen down and her mouth dropped open.
I rattled the paper a little. “This is for what can’t be made in toy factories…it’s for stuff that can’t be bought and for stuff that’s hard to put into words. But that’s okay, ‘cuz it can read your heart and… ” I stopped because the little girl’s bottom lip started to quiver and her eyes got real shiny. All of a sudden I got a lump in my throat. “…and it can deliver your tears.”
Her mom sat up straight and looked away. She lifted her fingers to her eyes. Her voice cracked when she said, “Her dad and I…we—” a sob interrupted her.
I looked at mom, held up the paper and nodded toward the little girl.
Mom lifted her shoulders up and down, nodded, bit her bottom lip and let out another sob.
I handed the paper to the little girl. She curled one arm around the paper so no one could see and began to write.
Have you ever watched a movie where all of a sudden everybody froze, everything went silent? It was like that. It felt like the world stopped and the only thing moving was the little girl’s fingers. The only sound was the pencil sliding across the North Pole Special Edition paper.
Her mom’s face was froze in a pose that said: I can’t believe this, I’ve been trying to get her to do that for weeks.
And then, after an eternity of a minute or so, the little girl sat back. Never taking her eyes off the paper she slid it in slow motion toward the edge of the table—toward me.
Her mom leaned forward and read the words. Another sob. She stood and picked up her little girl. It was muffled through sobs and hair and hugs and sniffles but I could still make out the words. “Oh Sugar, even Santa can’t do that. Only…” another sob.
I whispered, “The Chief…only The Chief”
The little girl pulled back from her mom’s embrace and looked at me. She made a little nod and for the first time lifted a little smile.
I looked at the paper, noticed the salty wet drops, were they hers or mine?

Dear Chief,
The only thing I want need for Christmas is for mommy and daddy to get back together. You can give my toys to a little girl who needs them more.

Iluvu & pray4u every.single.day