Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lesson 200: Let There Be Light

I was going to do it...... a Grinch this year.
My red correcting pen was poised and ready.

 I was going to cross some of you off of my Christmas card list permanently because you never reciprocate. 
  I saved last year's decree all this time. 

Eloise was feeling Grinchy, tired of the time and the expense of this seemingly thankless Christmas task of sending holiday cards.

However, in light of a recent event,  I've had a change of heart.

Luke 1:79
To give light to those who sit in the darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Eloise has concluded that life is too short to act like this fictional character:

He's the mean one, Slovenians.
That's The Grinch.  He stole Christmas.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! « Delay Gifts

In case you haven't read it, my Slovenian followers, the book is a classic Christmas tale, written by the legendary Dr. Seuss.  The book was adapted into a cartoon version and it airs every December here in the United States.  The Grinch is one mean and nasty louse, filled with negativity.  Living on a mountain top, somewhat content in his own misery, he discovers the Whos in the village below him, who are filled with love.  The Grinch attempts to "steal" their Christmas by taking their gifts, trees, and their feast---right down to the leg of the roast beast.

He robs the innocence of this child as she watches in sadness as The Grinch steals her Christmas, right out of the safety of her own home.  This is Cindy Lou Who.

The Whos awoke on Christmas morning to find that their houses had been wiped clean.  There were no symbols of Christmas left.  But what did the Whos do?  They carried on.  They made their own light out of the darkness.


The Whos joined hands in the town square where the tree once stood and sang together.  They kept the faith despite the circumstances.

And so must we, Readers.

Our faith been so severely tested this weekend.

26 lives taken in Newton, Connecticut.

Why, God?
Why do the innocent suffer?

Continue to question.
Continue to ask.
That means you believe that God is there and He is listening.

We need to harness the power and energy of every believer out there.

There are many of us.  People of Connecticut, we are praying for you.

Do not allow this monster rob you of your faith.  Do not let him take your light.
Otherwise he wins and the devil could not be happier.

John 1: 5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

After a nearly sleepless night on Friday, I decided to stop tossing and turning and go get some shopping done.  JC Penny opened at 7:00 am, and I was waiting outside the store as the clerk unlocked the door.  I did some shopping and caught my reflection in the dressing room mirror.  My eyes were red and swollen and my face wore the grief I was feeling for people I never met.

Upon checkout, the clerk glanced at me and said, "Long night?"  I nodded, breath catching in my chest.  Our eyes met.  I struggled with my words, "I couldn't sleep.......I.......the news....." 

"Those children......." the clerk whispered.  

And we lost it, both of us breaking down into tears. Two complete strangers standing at the JC Penny check out desk, grieving for people we've never met.

Another clerk saw us and came over to us.  She put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Did you know one of the victims?"

I snuffled and sniffed.  "No.  I knew them all," I said.  "I'm a mom, and a teacher, and a human being.  They are my family."

And our trio stood there and cried for half a minute.  In that thirty-three seconds we felt it---that power.  That energy that comes from human connection--in unity, in belief, and in this case, pain.  

What can we do to help?  It's not as easy to explain as the answers come in the form of intangibles.  With hurricane relief, we were able to give money or supplies needed and we sent them off to New Jersey in the hope that they got to people who needed them the most.  We could volunteer our time and our skills to help rebuild homes and communities.  In this case, rebuilding is not that neat.

Believers send up prayers to heaven and we don't receive a printed receipt.  We do however, receive peace in our hearts, knowing that they were heard.  Even if it is just momentary peace--it comes.  Wait for it.  Recognize it.  Expect it.  Peace will come to you if you pray.  And when that peace you felt is overcome again by sadness or darkness, pray again. 
And again.  
And again.  

You will receive peace again.  
And again.
And again.
And again.

Eloise has been searching the Bible for appropriate scriptures to share with you.  I've found some that I liked and have given me some comfort.  I suggest you do the same, or consult your pastor for some guidance.  I am but a mere baby in my understanding of the Word and all it has to offer us.  The enormity of God's word is not something I can explain without the guidance of a professional.  I am a teacher, but would not dream of showing calculus to a Kindergartner.  The only "teaching" I can offer in this lesson is to simply model behavior I would ask of my students.  Mourn.  Question.  Seek guidance.  Pray.  Love.  

I can give you a suggestion about something I do know and understand:  children.  Eloise is a teacher and I know how children learn.  They learn best through stories.  Reading with and to your children is the single best thing you can do.  When sitting next to a trusted adult, feeling the warmth of their body and hearing the rhythm of a familiar voice, a child is comforted.  

Eloise recommends this book.  It is a collection of essays on a dozen Dr. Seuss stories.  :

The author, James Kemp is a man about my age, who was a Methodist pastor for fifteen years.  He has a remarkable story of his own.  Pastor Kemp was enjoying his life and using his gift for language to share God's word in his weekly sermons when he was stricken with Multiple Sclerosis.  He now is a quadriplegic.  

Why God?
Why rob a man of his health?
Especially one who does good by loving you and sharing your word with others.

Kemp answers this best himself in an interview I found on the website.  When asked about his condition, Pastor Kemp answered this:

I think people can tell from my site that I still have a healthy sense of humor and a desire to help other people. For example, I tell people with challenges similar to mine that God is not picking on them for whatever reason they might imagine. Instead, God is in the middle of our struggles and gives strength to us in many different ways.   With God’s help, I have not allowed my physical condition to define who I am. It’s hard to put in a few words, but prayer has become a central part of my life. The crucifixion and resurrection speak loudly of a God who enters our pain and offers us hope.

In his book, Kemp finds parallels between Dr. Seuss's messages and Christian teaching.  It is a great way to bridge something kids know and understand on their level, to much deeper messages of Christianity.  There are two excellent essays in the book on The Grinch.  You can find a copy in your local library, or purchase your own copy for less than ten dollars on Amazon.  Please consider it if you have children who are having trouble dealing with the tragedy.

Eloise is finishing her Christmas cards tonight.  You are all back on the list.  Hopefully they will go into the mailbox tomorrow and the next day.  My Grinchiness is gone and my heart, albeit broken, has grown three sizes larger.  

Everyone gets a card this year, whether you sent me one or not.  You get one because you matter.  I can show you that are important to me by taking my words and pictures and putting them onto a 33 cent photo card from Wal-Mart.  

Eloise is a sentimental soul.  Words matter to me.  So does effort.  I appreciate the cards I do receive at Christmastime, as well as any other heartfelt messages you send me throughout the year.  I understand what it takes to choose that special card, sign it, find the Lamp Post address, locate a stamp, and mail it.  In the age of e-everything, it's a pain.  But as I stated in a prior blog, pain has a purpose.  The purpose of your effort makes my day better.

I tend  hang onto my cards and letters for years.  I have saved many a card or a letter in my Drawer Full of Stuff.  It's probably why my In-box is so full a work, too.  Sorry Tech Department.  There are just some emails I can't part with either.  When I am down, or lonely, or missing you, I pull out (or up, if it's on my computer) that tangible and reread it.  Seeing your words, smiling at the picture on the card, or even just looking at your signature is comforting.  

So for me, a Christmas card is important.  Send me one and I'll send you one in return.  I'm not a stickler for timelines, so even if it arrives in March, it's fine.  If something is meant to reach you, it will find its way in its own time.

The day you find that card from Eloise in your mailbox in the mix of all the bills, it will make you smile.  Here.  I'll even save you the trouble of looking up my address:

Eloise at The Lamp Post
5768 Firman Road
Erie, PA  16510

If you further want to lift your spirits and are a local, I recommend taking a ride out to Cambridge Springs.  We were at this place last weekend:

It's decorated beautifully for Christmas.  Outside there is a neat row of lamp posts that were just crying to be photographed.  

Psalm 119: 105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 18:28
You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; you turn my darkness into light.

Luke 11: 33
No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl.  Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.

The video below is from Sam's first wrestling tournament last weekend.  Enjoy the photos and remember the Whos down in Whoville.  They gathered together and made their own light.  Let us do the same.


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