A Christmas Thought

RDP Monday: RESPLENDENT

late Middle English: from Latin resplendent- ‘shining out,’ from the verb resplendere, from re- (expressing intensive force) + splendere ‘to glitter.’

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Resplendent   makes me think of Queen Elizabeth I, whose love of fabulously expensive gowns covered with glittering jewels is legendary.

Image result for Elizabeth I in full court dress

She really knew how to put on the ritz, a statement of her power and the reach of her authority.

At Christmas, though, as I think about the birth of Jesus Christ, there was nothing resplendent at all except, of course, for the brilliantly shining angel who announced His birth to the shepherds.

In fact, Jesus left all the glory and splendor of heaven to be born as a human infant, and cradled in a manger on a bed of hay.

He was probably about two when the Magi finally reached Him. They gave Him splendid gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Expensive, and prophetic of His death.

There was no splendor in His death. It was brutal. Ugly. His suffering was beyond our understanding.

He endured it for our sake, so that we could experience the splendor of heaven with Him, if we accept His death and resurrection as our only way of salvation.

His love was, and is, resplendent. His mercy and grace are resplendent.

Don’t forget why we celebrate Christmas. It’s not all the romantic movies or shopping or lights and other decorations. It is because Jesus came, as wholly man and wholly God, to provide the best gift of all for all mankind who will trust in Him.

Luke 2:11.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” 

RDP: Resplendent

Non-Philosophical Me

Abstract

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt

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There are so many ways to use this word. The first definition:

Existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.
“abstract concepts such as love or beauty”
synonyms: theoretical, conceptual, notional, intellectual, metaphysical, ideal, philosophical, academic;

rareideational
“abstract concepts”

Philosphers love the abstract. They study the idea of love, truth, existence, and so on. I’m not sure why they do that. Most of the philosophy that I have read just makes me want to go get a peanut butter sandwich and watch something funny on TV.  I wonder if they study the idea of humor.

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These men were considered to be very wise, and are supposed to have influenced all generations since they sat around thinking.

And then, of course, there is abstract art. Pictures of ideas? I’ve never understood it myself, and I don’t like it. It makes no sense to me.  I guess I just don’t have a philosophical turn of mind.

Image result for abstract art

Think of something positive to say.  Okay.  Um. . . .the colors are bright!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/abstract/

What You Can’t See

Unseen

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt

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Did you ever stop to consider the importance of so many things that we can’t see?  We know they’re out there, but we’ve never seen them. We’ve only seen the results of these things.

Air, for instance. Can’t see it, yet without it we’d be dead. We can detect differences in the air when it’s very humid, or very cold, or very windy.  We still can’t see air, but we see the results.

I spent my high school years in southern Minnesota, on the plains that provide farmers with wonderful soil and plenty of water. Rich, black earth. During plowing season, you could actually smell the earth.  There’s another unseen reality–smells. Can’t see them, but we know they’re there

Anyway, all farmers have a good weather eye. They learn to watch the sky, smell the  breeze (two things you can’t see–smells, breezes) and hurry up to get the hay in if they smell rain on the wind.

Farmer or not, you learned to watch the sky during tornado season.  There’s nothing quite like a Minnesota prairie sky just before a hailstorm  or a roaring tornado.  The roiling, boiling yellow-green clouds; the forks of lightning; the funnels that dip, recede, dip, recede as they hopscotch across the prairie. Sometimes they never touch the ground. Other times they charge across miles of prairie, crops, copses of trees, tearing up houses and barns and school buildings.  Terrifying and relentless.

You can’t see the things that are happening in the invisible air that result in these powerful storms, but you sure can see the results.

Other unseen things:  Faith. Hope. Love.  Can’t see them, but you can see their results, all around you, all the time. You just have to open your eyes.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/unseen/

Leaving

Fragile

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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“You know,” she said with a sigh, “Life really is fragile. You act as if your words don’t matter, that you can say anything you want, no matter how harsh or unkind, and I’m just supposed to accept it. Be tough, you say.  Be strong, you say.

“Well, here’s something for you to consider, tough guy. You’ve broken my spirit once too often, and I can’t live like this any more. I want you to know that I’ve already packed most of my clothes and sent them to the place I’m going to live. I’ll return, with a police escort if I need to, for the rest of my things later today.

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“I’m beyond thankful that we have no children for you to hurt with your critical words and your harshness. My life has been rocked to the core because of your unkindness, and I expect it will take me a while to heal.  But know this:  I WILL heal. And you will continue just as you are, because you think you’ve done nothing wrong. Soon some other poor woman will be a part of your life, and I feel so sorry for her.”

“You can’t leave me.  You’ll be back. You’ve threatened this before, and never done it.”

“Watch me. One thing your cruelty has done for me is helped me build my fragile ego into something stronger, because it was either that, or I would have died of loneliness and grief. I loved you so much. You took that and broke it, laughing at me the whole time. Yes, I can leave. I AM leaving.”

He stood there in shock, just beginning to learn how fragile his own heart was as she pulled the door shut behind her.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fragile

Food and People

Feast

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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The first thing that popped into my mind was, of course, Thanksgiving, quickly followed by Christmas. The meals were almost identical when I was growing up, if we were at home. If we were in Fairmont with our adopted family, that broadened the field of choices.

Then comes the old-fashioned Sunday dinner that was part of my childhood. I especially loved it when we had company, and Mom had fixed one of her mouthwatering rump roasts. Do they still cut rump roasts?  It’s been a long time since I’ve bought much beef.  Can’t believe how expensive it is. In any case, the meals were wonderful, and filled the house with the seductive aroma of roasting meat seasoned with chunks of garlic pushed way down into the cuts Mom made with her paring knife.

I gave my own family the same kind of Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, and for quite some time we also did the big Sunday dinner. Finally, though, my husband said, “You don’t have to go to all this work, Linda. None of us needs to eat this much any more, and you don’t need to work so hard.”  And so our Sunday meal got scaled way back to an ordinary meal, and I have to admit I enjoy the more relaxed day.  And he was right. We don’t need to eat so much these days.

The food was always delicious, always enticing. The smells were almost better than the actual flavors. However, as I think back, what I believe really made those feasts so special was the family, the friends, the people that enriched our lives and  made the occasions so special. Long after the food was cleared away and the stacks of dishes and pots and pans washed, dried, and put away, the fellowship continued into the evenings until it was time to put out the pies and other desserts.

My daughter is the main provider of the holiday/birthday feasts now, and she’s an incredible cook. She’s gone far beyond the things she learned from me, and her meals are always a delight. It’s especially good when she has the house full of friends as well as family. Sometimes we just enjoy visiting.  Sometimes we gather around the piano and sing, especially at Christmas. Everyone enjoys it, even the older kids.

So that makes the feast.  The people, the love, the fellowship, the hospitality.  Food, without all that, is really just food.  The spice is the people.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/feast/

I Do/No, I Don’t

Day 23 In or Out

June 23, 2016. Britain votes today whether to stay in the European Union or get out of it.  The choice is simple: In or Out. But the ramifications of a vote to leave are complex and uncertain.

Have you ever had to choose In or Out? Maybe it was a job that you didn’t like. Or a business deal. Maybe you were in a relationship where you had to choose In or Out.

Write about making a simple but difficult choice.

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Rae and Matt had been dating for a little over two years.  They’d had a pretty serene relationship, for the most part.  They’d started college together, although he was a year older because he’d worked for a year after high school.

He though she was adorable.  She thought he was the best guy she’d ever known. They had fun together, laughed, dreamed, and sometimes even cried over sad movies.  How cool was that–a guy who would cry with her over a sad movie!

They talked about marriage.  He even gave a a pearl ring, which was symbolic of “She’s my girl. Leave her alone.”  Rae was very proud of her ring.  She was proud of Matt.

She wanted to be an actress.  He wanted to be a farmer. They had many long discussions over how they could make it work.  Those discussions usually ended with Matt saying, “Look, Rae, there’s no guarantee you’ll make it as an actress. Why don’t you just put it out of your mind?  You’ll love it on the farm.  You can do dramatic readings for the cows and the chickens.”  And he would laugh, thinking he’d said the funniest thing ever.

Rae began to rethink their relationship.  It was clear to her that Matt didn’t take her dream seriously.  But she loved him, and he loved her.

The next time they talked about it, he said, “Rae.  I want to swap your pearl ring for a diamond.  I can’t afford a big rock right now, but I want us to be engaged. Then we can make plans to move to my dad’s farm, and my mom can teach you how to be a farm wife.  You’ll be so busy, you’ll never think of acting again.”  And he smiled at her with great assurance, acting as if he’d just solved all their problems.

Rae couldn’t think.  She couldn’t breathe.  The lump in her throat refused to dissolve.  She shook her head, turned away. When he reached for her shoulder, she held up her hand palm out, and shook her head NO.

She walked away, her heart shredding in her chest. She didn’t sleep much that night. Matt tried to call, but she wouldn’t answer the phone. She needed to clear her head, and when he talked to her, he took over her brain. All her common sense went leaking out of her ears.

Could she be married to a guy who had no interest in her dreams?  Could she be a farm wife and learn to milk  cows, feed chickens, and gather eggs every day?

Did she WANT to do that?  Plant a garden, preserve the produce, make jam and jelly and pie and cake and fry mountains of potatoes and ham to feed the farm hands breakfast every day?

Matt’s mom loved her life.  She woke up every morning ready to stir up biscuits and heat up the skillets. She did it with joy and energy.

Rae couldn’t see herself in farmer jeans and flannel shirts and work boots. She couldn’t see herself as a participating-in-the-chores farm wife, raising a brood of her own little farmhands while Matt rode a tractor, or a reaper, or a baler, or whatever all those machines were called.

She did love him.  She was beginning to realize, though, that she didn’t love what he loved. He didn’t love what she loved.

They met in the square in the center of campus the next morning before their first class. He was angry. “Why didn’t you answer your phone?  I needed to talk with you, to help you see. . . .”

“Matt, the answer is no.  I don’t want to be a farm wife.  I would be miserable, and so would you. You don’t love what I love.  I don’t love what you love.  If I give up my dreams for you, we’ll never be truly happy.  So I’m sorry, but no. You can have your pearl back if you want.”  And she started to pull it off her finger.

“Rae.  Rae.  How can we not be together?  Come on, keep the ring.  We love each other. Don’t you see, we can make the rest of it work?  Don’t you want to marry me?”

“I’m sorry, Matt.  Sorry from the bottom of my heart. But no.  I don’t.”  Tucking her hands in her pockets, she turned and walked away, never looking back.

June 23 Challenge

Natural and Supernatural

Natural

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt

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Some of you will disagree with what I’m about to say. That’s fine.  Sometimes I disagree with some of you,  but I don’t hate you, and I don’t write horrible personal attacks on you or accuse you of being evil incarnate.  And none of you have done that to me, either, when I write something you dislike.

That’s pretty amazing, really, because the natural tendency of humankind is to attack and vilify that with which we disagree. We have this natural need to be right, to be in the position of strength, and especially to insist that everyone else acknowledge our rightness, OR ELSE!

That natural tendency is creating havoc in our world today.  Speaking as an American, I can tell you that my country is more divided today than it has been since our Civil War in 1861-1865. That war was fought over two major issues:  Stopping the slave trade, and stopping the federal government from interfering with rights that were given to the individual states by our Constitution.  The former goal was accomplished. The latter, not so much. Most of our troubles today include the vast overreach of our federal government, led by a President who has clearly stated his determination to “fundamentally change America.”  He’s just about ruined us.  I’m glad his term is coming to an end.

An by the way, just as a side note here, the much-vaunted Emancipation Proclamation did NOT free all slaves in the United States; it applied only to the states that had already seceded from the Union. States in the North could keep their slaves, at least for a while. But that’s another topic.

Most of us here in the States  are still reeling from the terrorist attack on a gay bar in Orlando, Florida, where so much blood was spilled and so many people harmed because of the natural hatred of one man whose religious creed teaches him that homosexuals must be killed. While I do not accept homosexuality as being “natural,”  I want to state clearly and unequivocally here  that I do not HATE people who practice homosexuality. I can strongly disagree with their lifestyle without hating them.

God never says anywhere in His Word that He hates homosexuals. He says that He does not condone the behavior,  but He never says He hates the person. There is a group that calls itself a Baptist church. They preach that God hates gays. They are horribly, terribly, harmfully wrong. They do NOT represent God, although they think they do.

Our natural  tendency is to hate what we disapprove of; to attack and vilify anyone who disagrees with us. Sometimes we’re even willing to go to war to impose our own culture, religion, and customs on others  because we think we are right and they are wrong.

Do you know what is supernatural?  It is supernatural to love our enemies, to pray for those who mistreat us, to forgive those who harm us.  That behavior can only be done with the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit.  It was the supernatural love of God that sent His Son to die for the sin of the world. It is supernatural love that brings us to Christ for forgiveness and salvation.

I think it’s time we focus  on practicing some supernatural love here in our country.  We need to quit seeing each other as the enemy. Our enemy is not other Americans. Our enemies are those who would come into our beloved country and try to destroy us from within.  Our enemies are those in power who would not only allow, but actually encourage those from other countries to come in and dominate us.  The Constitution calls that treason.

America is comprised of countless people with roots in countless nations and ethnicities.  This present darkness is the first time we have been  attacked and undermined by those who come as immigrants but have no intention of becoming Americans.  We don’t have to hate them, but we do need to be intelligent enough to recognize the danger.

It is natural to hate. It is supernatural to love.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/natural/

Farewell

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry…

…for tomorrow we die. The world is ending tomorrow! Tell us about your last dinner — the food, your dining companions, the setting, the conversation.

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The table was set. Candles were lit down the center, with bouquets of roses, deeply red, filling the spaces between the candlesticks.  Music played in the background, filling the room with the richness of stringed instruments, flowing easily to trumpets, flutes, piano, and all the rest. The deep resonance of the bass was the most comforting to her as she inspected the room, making sure everything was as it should be.

There were seats for 19. Her soon-to-be daughter-in-law had been invited, and accepted the request to spend her last hours with them.

All of them were both stunned and excited. The youngest children, perhaps, didn’t have a full understanding, but they knew something very important was taking place and they were solemn as they walked into the room with their parents. The individual families ranged themselves across the table until every seat was filled.  The food was waiting on a buffet  along one wall of the room, but before plates were filled, there were things that needed to be said.

“I love you.  I have always loved you.  You mean more than life to me. Thank you for a lifetime well lived.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I forgive you.”

“I didn’t understand.”

“I know. It’s all right. It doesn’t matter any more.”

“I wish I had known more, done more, given you all more. I regret the times I was selfish.”

“You weren’t selfish. We all knew you did the best for us, the best you could, the best you knew. We’re grateful.”

“This is not goodbye, you know.”

“Yes, we know. When this is over, we’ll be together again in heaven, with God. Nothing that happens here can change that.”

“All right. Let’s have prayer, and then let’s enjoy this wonderful meal.”

The mood changed from solemn to cheerful, sometimes to hilarious as memories were exchanged while the food was consumed. And the food was the most unusual mix of favorites that spanned all their lifetimes.  It didn’t go together.  It didn’t matter.  Grilled burgers, corn on the cob, potato salad; turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie, fruit salad; lasagna, homemade bread, fried chicken, mashed potatoes. Cranberry sauce.  Lemon curd cheesecake. So many wonderful dishes, and they all had a sampling of the things they particularly enjoyed.

“Dad.  When will it happen?  Will there be any warning?”

“I don’t know. Probably not. I know only that there could be no better way for our lives here to end than for us all to be together. There is nothing to fear. We won’t———–“

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/eat-drink-and-be-merry/

The One

Tell us about a time things came this close to working out… but didn’t. What happened next? Would you like the chance to try again, or are you happy with how things eventually worked out?

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Carrie was in love. Permanently, deeply, irrevocably.  This was THE ONE. She had never been so happy, so full of the joy of everything. Even the deep cold of a midwestern winter couldn’t freeze her bursting heart. Perfect. In a perfect world, a perfect life, a perfect relationship with a perfect guy.

In the spring, she learned he’d been seeing someone else the whole time she’d thought he was just as dedicated to her as she’d been to him.

At first, the shock kept her from feeling the worst pain of her life.  While her brain tried to absorb the betrayal, her heart tried to keep from shattering from the pain, her body kept moving through her daily tasks. One day followed another, and she survived. But there was no joy. She was seeing flaws in her perfect world, realizing that there was a lot more grey than she’d ever noticed before.

Spring rains gave way to summer flowers, blue skies, and  new people populating her landscape.  Her old friends, some of them, disappeared with HIM.  Some of them stayed, telling her they’d never trusted him and that she deserved much better. Slowly, slowly, as August drifted into September and September joined October, she began to see the beauty again.  The colors of fall had always lifted her spirits, and she loved the crisp, cool air and the frosty nights when she could pile on the covers and sleep as soundly as a hibernating bear.

In November, her dad introduced her to an average-looking guy from his work.  He’d been invited to have supper with the family and then to spend some time working on a presentation with her dad.

He was nice. He blushed every time he looked at her.

She kept glancing at him, glancing away when he caught her looking at him.

“Good grief,” she thought.  “He’s just a guy from the office.  He’s probably a complete geek. Probably has no conversation whatsoever. Boring.”

Then her dad suggested they–Carrie and the guy–might enjoy a walk before the men settled down to work. Carried wanted to sink through the floor!  Her DAD was setting her up?  Good grief!

So they walked.  His name was Tom.  Boy.  How original was that. But she discovered he had a great sense of humor, and that he actually could talk about things other than computers.  As they turned back toward the house,  he asked her if she’d like to go for a ride sometime in his GTO.  Candy-apple red.  The car AND his face!  Sure she would.  How about Friday night?  Great.  It’s a date. 

Hmmmmmm.

This one’s not a player.  He’s too shy, not flirty and cocky.  Who knows?

Who knew?  Forty-five years later, Carrie was still in love.  Permanently, irrevocably, deeply in love with Tom. He was THE ONE.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/but-no-cigar/

Sincerely

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Audience of One.”

Dear Mom,

You always wanted me to write. You believed that your children, the three of us, were the most talented, gifted, amazing people in the world. We know we’re just normal, ordinary people, but your confidence in our superhuman abilities did motivate me to mombirthdaydo my best at whatever I was attempting.

You had yearned to play the piano when you were younger, and somehow we usually had one in whatever placed we lived.  You saved the beginner books from Dad’s first year in college, when you took some lessons.  Those books and your encouragement helped me learn on my own, and while I’m not exactly  star quality, I’ve been able to play for church services for many years.

You taught me to embroider, starting on pillowcases and dresser scarves. You taught me to crochet, making potholders and simple doilies. Later, when I was about 14, you helped me make a skirt that I wore for years.  Today, those crafts have resulted in much more complicated versions including crewel embroidery, crochet of all types, closets full of clothing, and an intense interest in knitting, which you never learned.

You taught me to cook. You always said I took that skill way beyond what you could do.  I’m glad you lived long enough to know what my daughter, your granddaughter is capable of in the kitchen. She’s outstanding.  And, by the way, she makes the cinnamon rolls Grandma Millie made for her cafe.  That recipe has been in the family for four generations now.  Deb has tweaked it here and there, and her rolls are amazing.

Well, back to the writing.   You encouraged me as long as I can remember, even when my efforts were pretty child-like. You always  showed an interest, and you also encouraged my love of reading.  Any good writer has to love to read!

So finally, now that you’ve been gone for over two years, I’m gearing myself up to make a serious effort.  Blogging has been my ticket into the world of writing. The people here in the blogosphere are wonderful encouragers, and they’ve helped me stay determined to write something not only for the blog, but for real publication.

I don’t know if whatever I write will succeed.  Of course, I hope it does.  But the point is, this is a skill I’ve let sit on the back burner all my life while I attended to “more important” responsibilities. It’s time I  pulled it up to the front burner and got it boiling.

I wish you were here to read all my blog posts.  I think you’d especially like the ones about you and Dad and our family stories.  Maybe you can see them from heaven,  but I kind of think you have a different focus there.

Anyway, I wanted you to know that I’m writing, almost every single day.  For the most part, it’s well-received.  I’m starting.

Love,

Linda