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Mug Hug 3

Ahhhh, cream. My morning is happy; my Half and Half is replenished.

This is a repeat mug, but still, it hugs my heart.

This has been quite the exercise, writing every day. Like everything, it’s got two sides: it’s a privilege with a lot of satisfaction, and it’s a commitment that begins to feel like an obligation, so I am glad I’ve got two days left!

While I prepared for Saturday’s dinner I had “It’s a Wonderful Life” on. Outside of Les Mis, could there be a more amazing movie?

George Bailey has everything a person needs to make a difference in the world. He’s talented, ambitious, likable, and good. Even snarky, young George calls Mary, “brainless,” by which Mary is completely unaffected. He is determined, driven and ready to explore the world, go to college, then he’ll build skyscrapers and build cities.

In this scene George tells his dad that he absolutely does not want to take over the building and loan business his dad established.

Morgan Stickney of NH also had plans. She was positioned to become an Olympic swimmer, but as outlined in this NY Times article, she lost a leg. My own daughter has had medical issues that have altered her direction. I have a friend who anticipated a magical year with her new husband, to discover within a couple of months of their marriage that she had breast cancer. Another friend’s financial security and well being was taken from her when she was laid off after 15 years.

All of us experience a degree of disappointment. Some to the point where where our plans abruptly change our course.

The degree of impact one can make in the world doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to allocation of trouble. It would make sense if the people with all the aptitude for great things would be granted a life free of obstacles, freeing them up for super big accomplishments. That the less ambitious would receive more interruptions in life, because their plans aren’t quite as productive or don’t equate to the big deal successes. But there seems to be no plan for difficulty allotment, which is both fair and beautiful.

I think that’s because God doesn’t think about sky scrapers and Olympic successes. That’s not to say he’s not in our story while we pursue our dreams. I know he’s in my story, and I’m sure he’s with Morgan Stickney in her journey. But as we learn in George’s story, the greatest success we have is the connection we make with people every day. While someone is building a sky scraper or in line at the grocery store, or passing someone on the street, are we looking up with a smile that says: You matter. You make a difference.

And when we do that, we make a difference.

Yesterday at church we heard our final message about the 4 elements of Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. The passage our pastor shared was this: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35.

George’s guardian angel Clarence, intervenes when things get desperate for George. In the end, George discovers why his life is worth living, with or without sky scrapers.

How wonderful it is, the difference we can make.

For previous posts of My Twelve Mugs of Christmas, click here.

Day 8 Mug Hug

Today’s mug is actually a favorite cup, and I can get it any time of year. As much as I love good coffee, I also love McDonalds, as a company. With a lower price, their lattes are adequate. Their stores are clean, their service model is consistent, and they strive to offer a variety to please the current trends. I have a friend who eats one ice cream cone a day from McDonalds, and another friend who daily gets her $1 soda. I like how I fill out a 1 minute survey with my receipt and get a free small latte, and I like their frequent buyer cards. I especially like Susie at my neighborhood location. I don’t go often, but she always greets me with a smile, as if she knows me. I marveled at her one day last year. Winter calamity put the fear in everyone and shut down most of the surrounding businesses, but Susie greeted me with the same enthusiasm she greets everyone, every day.

This morning had me out the door early running a Christmas errand to my daugther’s house on the East side. Hence, a change, but I’m happy to share my enthusiasm for the good ole’ American icon: McDonalds.

I am surprised they don’t have holiday cups for the season. I guess another reason to like them. They’re a practical bunch.  Merry Christmas, McDonalds!

For previous posts of My Twelve Mugs of Christmas, click here.

Day 9 Mug Hug

I’m not crazy about this mug. It’s bigger than I like, and doesn’t shout “Christmas.” But it shouts “Bridgette,” (as well as “Beijing” and “Starbucks”). She brought it back from China when she went in eighth grade with a group from OES. So this is as much a hug from Bridgette as it is a Mug Hug.

The busy traffic of life has a way of zipping past, our memories left so far back, we can hardly recall ever being there. But there’s something about touching an object or a person or living an experience that knocks on the heart, awakening a memory and welcoming it in.

When I grabbed this mug it was like, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” This mug reminds me of this thing, and that thing reminds me of that person, and that person reminds me of that event, and when I did that thing, and I remember a lot about that moment in time. Some things I didn’t love or could make me sad, so in this moment, I skip past that, and reach for the things that I did love, because after all, this is a Mug Hug, and even though this is NOT Folgers, this is the best part of waking up!

For previous posts of My Twelve Mugs of Christmas, click here.

Day 10 Mug Hug

 

This is from a set I got a few years back at an after Christmas sale from Pete’s Coffee. You may see it again, or, maybe not this exact one, but one of the other three, that all look the same.

I realized that if you read my blog, “Getting There,”  you read that I had a burning question about my furnace, which was: Has it been broken all these years? The answer is, “Yes.” I could be embarrassed about that. I kind of am. But I’m also, very much not. I am capable and competent in a lot of things, but this was not one of them. As much as I’d discussed my cold house in the winter, no one ever said, “Have you checked to see if the upgrade kit on your TRANE XL 80 has been replaced?” Ugh. I could have gone my whole life and not been compelled to know that information.

Lesson learned however: Get the annual equipment checks.

For many of us, our grateful hearts do the heavy lifting most of the year, but the holidays remind us of our reality that we work so hard to manage or deny. The holidays demand our attention like a mom who places both hands on our cheeks, twists our face in her direction and straight into her eyes.

For encouragement about peace and joy, click here to listen to our pastor’s sermons on the four aspects of advent. I’m so grateful for Pastor Brad Williams whose messages lift me up and equip me for a life that’s not easy to navigate.

That’s it for today. I’m diving in to work. Today on the agenda: Work on Explanation of Services for my new biz, and a website.

For previous posts of My Twelve Mugs of Christmas, click here.

PS: If you receive an email when I post, know that I constantly see room for improvement in my writing, so the post always changes once I hit PUBLISH. To see the most current version, go to the website!

 

 

I love Christmas! I love love love the glitter and sparkle and this time when I am reminded about the wonder of our savior.

I think about the luxury of living in a time and place where information is easy and the news about a baby who was sent to save the world didn’t get to me weeks later by people on camels who hadn’t bathed in days. I’m glad I don’t live in a time or place where my children’s lives would be threatened by a king who wanted to kill all the babies under the age of two so he could be certain the baby Jesus didn’t threaten his own position as king. I am humbled when I consider the perfection of the story, which helps me see my own imperfections, and for that I am glad. It feels like luck that I have the benefit of the bible, where I can see that Jesus’ birth fulfilled a prophecy. The people who lived in Jesus’ time had only the word of people who were just like them. They had reason to be suspect of this wild information they were given. That a savior had come in the form of a baby, and they asked, “A savior from what?”  I pray for those people who couldn’t wrap their heads around this miracle, and I believe God understands the disadvantages of not yet having the Gutenberg press (that transformed communication).

I love it that a star shone above Jesus and that sparkle and abundance is part of our holiday. I love it that the wise men brought gifts and that giving and generosity is encouraged by their example. And most of all, I love it that our king was not a king of Judea, Israel, or Palestine, but a king of our souls. A king who would save us from the tragedies of sin, regardless of the location that we live or the life we’ve lived, and that this king was born lowly and in a manger. That is worth overflowing expression.

I have to remind myself of these joys because I find myself becoming Grinch like as I juggle all the expectations by myself (Dear friends who help me, I trust you know what I mean!) Because I love the season and want to give and participate, I tackle projects and then grumble when my house (and office) is a mess. I am frustrated at the things I’m missing out on and am short tempered with peers and love them at the same time. I’m impatient with non givers, wondering how they missed the generosity gene, but then applaud the boundaries they set for themselves.

Side note: I discovered last night that Cracker Barrel doesn’t serve alcohol. I’d gotten a gift certificate from my bank perks so my friend and I decided to try it out. I’d hoped for a glass of red wine with my friend, rice with my trout, and peppermint tea at the end. The menu has probably 200 items on it, but doesn’t have three things for which I’d hoped. Grinchyness tempted me: an attitude check was in order!

This last few weeks has been extra difficult. A beloved coworker was diagnosed with terminal cancer, a precious friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, and we had an ongoing threat of violence in our school district that left us feeling vulnerable and took us off track of productivity – that was the straw that broke my camel’s back. While we’re hoping to enjoy Christmas, interruptions are spoiling our fun.

Yet Jesus’ birth gives me sure footing when the ground beneath me is giving way. 

While the circumstances are breaking our hearts, we can remind ourselves, “Oh, but there’s Christmas.” And by that I mean, “Oh, but there’s Jesus.” Jesus, your name brings us peace. Jesus, Jesus, your name is love.

I got to ride my bike to work the other morning. It’s been hard to do during this busy time when I’m carrying things to work or running errands after. These rides are precious talking to God time. It’s 6:15ish and dark (and with five layers of clothing, other than my hands, I was prepared for the cold).  I love sharing the road with the few others that are up and out with me. The car lights make me happy and my senses are warmed with the smells of bacon and pastries as I pedal past restaurants, donut shops and bakeries. It’s a sacred time that can’t be measured. Aware of my fragile state, I asked God for strength throughout the day. I wasn’t feeling servant like and I needed ability from him to remind me of who I am in him.

I asked for patience and tolerance, and somewhere between Fred Meyer and arriving to school he reminded me that he doesn’t tolerate people. He loves them.

And that is what Christmas is all about. A gift from God who loves us so very much.

While the world calls us to be tolerant of each other, Jesus calls us to be so much more than that. He asks us to love one another. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

And then his baby grew up to be a man. He walked this earth as a human, lowly, tempted, rejected and betrayed. He came to serve and glorify his father, ultimately hanging on a cross for us. That is not tolerance, it is love.

When the things around you are spoiling your fun, when someone or some thing robs you of the joy of this season, may you step firmly on the ground that God created for you, and remember, “Oh, but there’s Jesus.”

Merry Christmas! There is Jesus!

PS: My Secret Santa at school brought a lift to my spirits, too.