A Happy Ending...

I know how the book ends. Trust me. So turn back to that page where your bookmark sits, waiting for you to live the way you were meant to live, savoring every moment.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I don't think the baby Jesus would like this

It is Advent, my friends, and as Christmas draws nearer, I've really been reflecting on the birthday of our Lord and the holiday we celebrate with such gusto.

My dad was telling me recently how they gave gifts on the feast of St. Nicholas, early in December. Small gifts. Very small. He said it was usually a piece of fruit that was out of season, or some nuts of some variety. It was a small token, a gesture for loved ones, to mark the life and generosity of St. Nicholas.

Christmas was no different for them. Small gifts, a day spent in rest with family, food, and merrimaking. It was simple. It was beautiful.

I heard something yesterday that disturbed me greatly. Just as I was depositing my paycheck so that I could afford to finish my Christmas shopping, I heard a commercial on the radio that left me red with anger. It was a lending company encouraging people to pull money out of their home mortgages to buy Christmas presents. That's great! Go into debt so you can afford to give your kids the newest toys, the shiniest bikes, a trip to Aspen, a BMW with a big freaking red bow on it. Pull money out of your home to celebrate the birthday of the Christ-child. America, why is that ok??????

There is nothing ok about that scenario. Nothing! I understand generosity and goodwill, but these are not monetary things, my friends.

I'm not stupid. I realize that the holiday celebrated by many if not most in our country is not the birthday of our Lord, but a secular holiday, a pagan holiday, marked by the giving of gifts. And I also realize that Christians have commercialized this holiday with the best of them. But that doesn't make it ok.

My parents always spoiled us at Christmas. I mean SPOILED. There were 4 kids in my family and every Christmas, we each received 20 presents. 10 from Santa, and 10 from Mom and Dad. We also exchanged presents with one another, got them from numerous aunts and uncles, etc. Presents filled the room on Christmas morning and it took us well into the night just to open them all. By the time I got to number 16 or 17, I had forgotten all about numbers 1-10. Don't get me wrong, I was one of those very spirited and gracious children and I delighted in each and every present my parents gave me and was so GRATEFUL, but 20 is an overwhelming number for anyone. My mother, the anal one that she is, kept a detailed list of the presents she would buy for us. There was a column she checked when she purchased the item, wrapped the item, and placed it under the tree. She lived by that list in the month of December. I came home from school one day as a teenager and found her sobbing on the kitchen floor. In her effort to hide the list from us kids, she had hidden it from herself. Christmas simply couldn't happen without that list.

My parents had reasons behind their madness. The Christmases of old were quite different. My dad had 8 siblings and they lived on a small dairy farm in Texas. One year, his parents sold their stove in order to buy presents for their children. Remember, we are talking SMALL gifts. This is what he came from and he always knew that his life would be different. He put himself through college, married my mom, had the four of us, and has been generous to us every day of our lives. We were not spoiled on a daily basis. I did without a lot of things and wore hand-me-downs for the better part of my childhood. But Christmas was different. Christmas was a mountain of toys in brightly colored packages and glistening bows. I really believe their hearts were in the right place.

We've since put things in check. Of course, we are all adults now, but we simply get a few things from our parents, and my siblings and I started drawing names a few years ago now that there are in-laws and nephews and the like. This year, we lessened the price limit and added in a charitable contribution clause. We will be giving each other a small token and a donation to the charity of our choice in that person's name. Vastly different from the Christmases of my childhood...

I wish I could wrap this entry up in a nice and neat manner, but I can't. I'm without words in response to the commercial I heard on the radio. I just want to shout from the rooftops, "poeple! that's not what this day is about!"

This day marks the birthday of a king who came not in grandeur and wealth, but in a stable, as a baby. This day marks the beginning of history's greatest irony. This day marks the day when the Savior came into the world to save us from ourselves. This day is for generosity and goodwill, which are gifts from the heart, not the wallet.

Sacrifice this season, if you must. In fact, I hope you do. Do without something for yourself to share a small token with the ones you love. But DON'T pull money out of your mortgage. I fear you'd be missing the point.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Quick post...

To Whom it May Concern:
Your invitations are in the mail.

Happy last weekend of Christmas shopping!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Stripped

So, my fiance wants to be a priest and is at a church right now that is allowing him a year-long mentorship of sorts were he can get practical experience in the life of a minister. One of his duties is to preach once a month. He sends me his sermons to look over and edit each month. I have just spent the better part of my afternoon looking at his sermon for this Sunday and I realized some things about myself.

There are so many things that I want to say, and don't. I think that's why the written word has always been so appealing to me. I send these thoughts out to you every few days, but you are not here in my presence watching my delivery, seeing my lips move, watching the words as they appear on screen. I send them out into a void that feels much safer than that, and you read them, not really knowing the person behind them, the emotion involved in them, the laughter implied in them.

It has always been much easier for me to say the true thoughts of my heart on paper. I was seeing a counselor a while back in response to a heartache that life brought me, and she he me keep a journal. The first time I went to write on the particular topic given me, I found that the words literally fell from me and clung to the paper. I almost couldn't write fast enough. When I arrived at my next visit with her, she asked me to do the unthinkable: read them out loud. I felt absolutely naked, like someone was standing much to close to me, vulnerable and terrified. I offered her my notebook in hopes that she'd take it and read it herself. But of course, she made me do it, as any good therapist would. I read on for pages and pages the secrets of my heart, my insecurities in all their glory articulated in permanent black ink. When I finished, I watched as she jotted notes down into her little spiral. I just knew that she was judging me. She wondered if I might not have understood the assignment becuase my words were too pretty to be describing such emotion and heartache. Pretty wasn't the word she used. I honestly forget now what it was. But what she was trying to say was that I had somehow sculpted these thoughts for the paper when in reality the paper was simply a bowl in which they collected. I think it took a few visits before she believed that I wasn't striving for perfection in the assignment; I was simply letting my heart bleed and there was some element of eloquence in that. I was sharing the words that my mouth could never share.

A year in therapy brought my heart to a certain wholeness, but it never corrected this flaw in me. It's still a problem today. I can't say what I want to say in audible words. The words that come out of me are a distortion of my thoughts and I'm frustrated over and over.

Each time I work with one of my fiance's sermons, I find myself eager to weave my own thoughts into his. They are often words that are eager to escape me, but I will not allow them to. But it's different when they are for his use. I do not have to be the vessel through which they will be delivered. No one but he and I will ever know the difference between his thoughts and mine. Once again, it feels safer.

I have a desire to do ministry and I do it in my own way. I feel that I can live out the Gospel in the way that I love on and interact with my youth. But when it comes to teaching them, the message escapes my lips. I could write volumes for them to read, but when it is time for me to deliver that message, I fail miserably. But I know that the thoughts are there because I pour them into these sermons every time I have the chance.

What is this insecurity that paralyzes my mouth and creates a disconnect between it and and my heart? Why can't I just spit it out?

NOTE:
I have probably painted a picture of myself as some weak and soft-spoken woman and if you knew me, you'd laugh at the thought of that because I am neither. In fact, I am known for speaking my mind. Still there are things that I will never tell you, at least not in conversation, because it's just too hard. I think I'd rather be naked!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

18 Shopping Days Left Until Christmas...


The Swankytown White Elephant Gift Exchange will go as follows:

Chris, you'll be buying for Becky, aka Twinkles.
Rob, you'll be buying for Lauren, aka Laurey-baby or Texas' little slice-o-hot
Becky, you'll be buying for Lanette, aka MOH
Lauren, you'll be buying for Chris, aka the Cap'n
Lanette, you'll be buying for Trishy, aka the Swankytown Sweetheart
And I, Trishy, will be buying for Rob, aka the Mayor

Now remember, kids, the point is NOT to spend money, it's to give a laugh, so aim to spend under $5 (heck, make your gift if you can!) and mail it as cheaply as possible! And also, remember you are to blog about your gift when you receive it! Refer to the previously sent Swankytown Roster for mailing addresses.

I think this whole thing will be just swell. Me and the Beave are heading out to shop this weekend!

Monday, December 05, 2005

July 22, 2005


Well, we got our engagement picture back, but I don't think I'm necessarily allowed to duplicate it and since my sis works for the photographer, I don't want to do anything wrong. So here is a picture from the night we got engaged taken with my dad's camera, because, well, mine fell to the bottom of the lake that evening. I guess it is high time I tell the tale...

I was leaving work on a Thursday afternoon and the receptionist put a call in to me at the lobby phone. It was my sweetie asking if we could go to our favorite spot on the lake that evening to take some pictures since he would be moving the next day. Clever move on his part, as it was something we had been talking about doing before he moved and it was really getting down to the wire. I later found out that that phone call was made shortly after he bought my ring and began the drive to my apartment. Anyway, I totally bought it (though deep down, had a hope that he might propose since he'd be moving the next day, but had convinced myself otherwise) and had this elaborate plan to take pictures on my digital camera then go print them on my dad's photo printer. He told me to stay dressed from work because he wanted to take me to this wonderful restaurant that we had been meaning to go to.

So I race home and primp, he meets me there, we grab the camera and head to our favorite spot: we had coffee there during our first date and it was the site for our first kiss. We take some pictures and he tries to locate the exact spot of that kiss, I look out to the lake, turn around and there he is on his knees. I won't go into the mushy details because the story gets really funny from there.

So he proposes, I say yes, we hug, I cry, then laugh, then smile, then squeal, then grab my camera for one last picture. I'm so excited and shaking that it literally flings from my hand into the lake and sinks to the bottom. My sweetie looks as if he is about to jump in and I stop him - it's digital after all and would certainly not have survived in 6 ft. of water. Anyway, all our memories from that moment lie at the bottom of the lake to this day.

We go to my sister's house where my family is waiting with champagne to celebrate, have a quick toast with them, then head to dinner. His parents ask to meet us for dessert after dinner, so we head into town for that.

Now, Houston has a lightrail system that has appeared in the last few years and has made it very difficult to get around certain parts of the city. No right turn, no left turn, you get the picture. We were traveling down a one-way street looking for our turn and realize that we have passed it. But...not right turn, not left turn...hmmm...what to do? I'm of course giddy and on top of the world, so I say, what the heck...I'm making an illegal left turn. No sooner had my hands returned to wheel to normal position when I heard the siren.

Yep, he pulled us over. I plead with him. I had just gotten a speeding ticket in Austin so that was weighing heavily in my mind. I show him the ring, tell him we've just gotten engaged, and he seems to care very little about that. He leaves to write the ticket. My sweetie is trying to calm my sobs my telling me that he'll pay the ticket and I'm not comforted by that in the least, though appreciate his effort. The officer returns with the ticket and decides to soften just a tad when he tells me that he works the night shift and that if I'll schedule a court appearance for the morning, there's a very good chance he won't show up.

The officer asks where we are going and we tell him. What a coincidence - he's going there, too! We find the restaurant and walk in to find a huge bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne. A few moments later, the officer walks in and watches our celebration from afar. Then he walks up, just as serious as can be, and says he made a mistake on my ticket and needed to make a correction. I'm completely pissed off at this point and I dig it out of my purse and hand it to him. He studies it for a moment, then looks up with a grin, and tears the silly thing up. I'm ecstatic at this point. Mostly because I have a beautiful ring on my finger, but also because this man has just shown us a great kindness and I'm so grateful that nothing has spoiled our beautiful evening. We thank him and he makes his way back to his table.

I decide that I must buy this man's dinner, or midnight snack rather, so I ask our waitress to bring his bill to me when he's ready to check-out. She does so, I pay for it, then watch as he begins to pay his own check as well. I'm very confused by this, so I muster up the courage to go over to him. He shares with me the fact that it would be illegal for him to accept my offer. Apparently they frown on officer bribery. He says if I'd like to do something noteworthy, I can make a donation to the Fallen Officer Fund. I think he was amused by it all, but had such a serious expression, I really feared that I had gotten myself into more trouble.

So that was our evening and this is the only picture that survived. This story pretty much reflects my life. When something wonderful happens, it is surrounded by weird and funny things and I never have a simple story to tell when all is said and done.

So that is how it all happened. Someday I'll share with you the details of how we met because they are equally funny and I'm reminded of them by those around me on a daily basis. Court asked me this weekend if Daryl (our youth ministry prof. in college) caught me making out with him on a park bench. That is not the story at all, but somehow it has translated into that in the telling, so you know it must be good! I'll leave you with that for now...

Friday, December 02, 2005

White Elephants Coming Your Way


Dearest Laurey-baby, Swankertons, Capn, Mo, and Twinkles,
So I'm here in Austin visiting Lauren and had an idea that we both thought would make for the Hap-Hap-Happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby danced with Danny f*&%ing Kaye: A Swankytown White Elephant Gift Exchange. So here's how this is going to work kids...

We'll all get a name and address of someone in our blog circle and find the funniest Christmas gift for them that we can come up with. We mail it to our respective person and then that person posts a blog on their new cheap piece of sh%t that they didn't need. Sound fun? We thought so.

So who's with me? E-mail me your address and we'll get to drawing names...

pkmuras@hotmail.com